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Toughie 2771

Toughie No 2771 by Giovanni

Hints and tips by Gazza

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BD Rating – Difficulty **Enjoyment ***

Giovanni is in benevolent mood today and although I didn’t know the 21a plant name it could be established once the checkers were in place.

Thanks to Giovanni and Season’s Greetings to him, to all other setters, to our bloggers and all who comment here. Greetings also to the many people who read our blogs but do not comment – now would be a good time to introduce yourselves.

Please leave a comment telling us how you fared and what you thought of the puzzle.

Across Clues

1a See addict transformed, without minimal cocaine, totally dried out (10)
DESICCATED: an anagram (transformed) of SEE ADDICT containing (without, i.e. around) the first letter of Cocaine.

6a Spring maiden to send out unwanted message? (4)
SPAM: a mineral spring and the cricket abbreviation for maiden.

9a Monster bird — a number of times it crowed — hard to forget (10)
COCKATRICE: start with a male bird and add A and the number of times it crowed (I think this is a reference to a Biblical story) dropping the pencil abbreviation for hard.

10a Swimmer in river down below (4)
SWAN: double definition – ‘down below’ doesn’t mean in the Netherworld but in the Antipodes (in Western Australia to be precise).

12a Flower to fade, one fading with a small lump inside (6)
DANUBE: a verb to fade or come to an end loses its Roman numeral for one and what remains contains A and a small lump.

13a Sailor with someone wise circling in the distance (8)
SEAFARER: a wise person contains an adverb meaning ‘in the distance’.

15a Forcefully introduce facility for hungry travellers? (12)
DRIVETHROUGH: split 5,7 the answer means to introduce (new policies, for example) forcefully.

18a Ram is halting, in trouble — what is called upon to stop the beast suffering? (6,6)
ANIMAL RIGHTS: an anagram (in trouble) of RAM IS HALTING.

21a Plant providing nectar, I’d fancy (8)
DICENTRA: an anagram (fancy) of NECTAR ID is the name of a plant better known as bleeding heart.

22a Kind to waste time and quarrel that could make you weep (6)
SORROW: splice together a synonym of kind or type without the abbreviation for time and a quarrel.

24a Hold on to final message by the side of grave (4)
GRIP: an inscription often seen on gravestones follows the first letter of grave.

25a Being swindled, as pet-shop customer might be? (6,1,3)
BUYING A PUP: what a pet-shop customer may doing at this time of year, preferably knowing that such a decision is for life not just for Christmas.

26a Eggy drink with extra egg not allowed (2-2)
NO-GO: the second syllable of an eggy drink is followed by the egg-shaped letter.

27a Skill of a GP? Nothing to it, Bill! (10)
ADROITNESS: assemble A, another abbreviation for a GP, the letter resembling zero, IT and what Bill (as in Portland Bill, for example) is.

Down Clues

1d End of ten years going round India, abandoning Dhaka finally (6)
DECIDE: start with a word meaning ten years then insert what India stands for in the Nato Phonetic Alphabet and remove the last letter of Dhaka.

2d Line in article probing religious group (6)
SECANT: one of our indefinite articles goes inside a religious group.

3d Officials organising lesbian march (12)
CHAMBERLAINS: an anagram (organising) of LESBIAN MARCH.

4d Hairstyle upset some poor father (4)
AFRO: hidden in reverse.

5d Eastern guru includes talk about drug confiscation of yesteryear (10)
ESCHEATAGE: a Russian doll clue – the abbreviation for eastern and a guru or wise person include a synonym of talk which includes our usual abbreviated drug. The answer is an old practice whereby property was confiscated by the state or a feudal lord if its owner died without heirs.

7d Superior group capsized, stuck in vessel — it could suggest an emergency (5,3)
POWER CUT: the letter meaning superior and a group of workers are reversed inside a cooking vessel.

8d Our state perhaps gets wealth, English being cunning (8)
MONARCHY: a word for wealth or fortune with the single-letter abbreviation for English being replaced by an adjective meaning cunning or sly.

11d Hero fought at clashes, as planned in advance (12)
AFORETHOUGHT: an anagram (clashes) of HERO FOUGHT AT.

14d Like cross-country train during good regular trip (10)
OVERGROUND: knit together a preposition meaning during, the abbreviation for good and a regular trip.

16d Character, one with worry getting upset — buttoned-up type? (8)
CARDIGAN: charade of an amusing character, the Roman numeral for one and the reversal of a verb to worry or pester.

17d Crooner with suppressed longing is complaining (8)
BITCHING: the first name of an old American crooner contains a synonym of longing.

19d Journey ends in hotel — ‘The Peal of Bells‘ (6)
TRIPLE: a journey followed by the end letters of hoteL and thE.

20d Wild cricket shots or nicks? (6)
SWIPES: double definition, the second another informal verb meaning nicks or pinches.

23d Painter of optical illusions offering nothing for a long time (4)
MIRÓ: start with some optical illusions often seen in a desert and replace a word for a long time with the zero-resembling letter. You can read about the painter here and below is his “Painting-poem” which was sold for £16.6 million in 2012 – yes, that’s what I thought too.

The clues I liked best were 25a and 16d. Which one(s) gave you a warm feeling?

26 comments on “Toughie 2771

  1. I didn’t find Giovanni as benevolent as usual – don’t know why as it wasn’t as if I didn’t know the ‘unknowns’, although I’ve only met 5d with ‘ment at the end

    Thanks and Seasons Greetings to Giovanni and Mrs G – and also to Gazza

      1. All the pillar boxes are now featuring beautiful knitted scenes but most of them are in places where it’s really difficult to stop the car and take a photo

  2. Enjoyable as usual with quite a few anagrams and shifting around bits of words.
    I did know the plant but not the painter or Oz river, and dredged 5d from the distant memory.
    For personal reasons I particularly liked 27ac.
    Thanks to both Gs.

  3. I didn’t know the plant either, but it was easy enough to get with trial and error on Google. The first thee-quarters or so of this went in very easily indeed. I slowed down enough thereafter to agree with Gazza’s difficulty rating – stuck for ages on 7d, because I couldn’t let go of the idea that is was some sort of gun and the vessel was a pan. Funny how we sometimes get ourselves in a cul-de-sac like that – or is it just me? I liked 6d and 16d best, but the whole thing was a lovely challenge. Thanks and season’s greetings to Gazza and to Giovanni.

  4. I generally find that I can get on Giovanni’s wavelength fairly quickly, and that was the case this morning. A good supply of long answers helped form the skeleton of the grid and the rest soon followed. I liked the surface of 21a, 25a and 16d were neat, but my favourite was 17d.

    My thanks to The Don for this and all the year’s puzzles, and to Gazza for all his hard work during 2021.

  5. Many thanks to all for maintaining this invaluable site. I do 4 Toughie’s a week and am one of the silent ones until know. Happy to respond to Gazza’s request for disclosure! I hope you all have a great Christmas and New Year. All best wishes, Malcolm

    1. Welcome to the blog, Malcolm.
      Best wishes to you too. Now that you’ve de-lurked I hope that you’ll comment on a regular basis.

          1. Chambers is loth to pronounce on the existence or otherwise of the verb so I feel free to make my own rules. :D

  6. With my usual assortment of electronic gifts on a Thursday Toughie (though not necessarily a Giovanni one), I did manage a, for me, miraculous finish. Not unaided, I repeat, but a completed grid. I bunged-in quite a few, like 25a (altogether new to me), and googled a few (the plant; the confiscation, though I did know the term with a ‘ment’ ending) to be sure. Favourite is 16d. Thanks and Merry Christmas to The Don. I loved this puzzle, Giovanni.

    A very special thank-you to Gazza and a Merry Christmas to you. You have helped advance my abilities amazingly over the past 20 months or so since I joined the blog, and I thank you most warmly.

  7. A couple of new to me words (5d 21a) but deducible from the clues. I dragged 3d from a pretty dusty corner of memory. 16d and 17d share the top step for me.
    Thanks to Giovanni for keeping the brain working and thanks to Gazza for helping to see the wood from the trees several times today.
    I quite like the painter in 23d – he is from Barcelona and they are quite colourful and look good next to his compatriot Gaudi. but art is in the eye of the beholder.
    I have heard good things about your last NTSPP 619 Gazza and I will save it for the inevitable defeat at Elgar’s double toughie on Christmas Day.
    Seasons good wishes to all here.

  8. Didn’t know of 9a, 21a, 5d or 23d and fell into the gun trap in 7d. On the plus side I managed to parse everything myself. Favourite was 20d. Thanks to Giovanni and CS.

  9. Season’s Greetings to everyone at Big Daves’s Crossword Blog! Your help is invaluable. Stay well! 🎄🍾🎅

  10. Needed blog assistance for a few, so I can’t count this as a finish. Wasn’t helped by getting the tense wrong in 25a. 9a favourite, 5d LOI with help. Typical early french legalese imported when we ruled large parts of that country.
    I wish you all a very merry Christmas!

  11. No problems down south (other than an educated punt with plant) but still 5 shy up north. Will leave it until later as it’s a very early night for me – a long drive up to Scotland & intend to set off at 5.30am. A challenging & enjoyable puzzle. Loved 25a (my thoughts immediately strayed to Cleese with his Norwegian Blue & played the sketch) but 17d my favourite.
    Thanks to Giovanni & particularly to Gazza – Robert expressed my thoughts precisely. Still struggling down south with your puzzle too.

    1. Can’t sleep so finished with only 1 letter reveal – pleased with that as had to confirm 2&5d plus 9a as unfamiliar with all. 15a is so obvious but took me an eternity to see even with most of the checkers.

  12. As I had a migraine yesterday and the Friday puzzle is usually beyond me I decided to save this for today and very pleased that I did, found it very enjoyable in the main.
    I’d never come across the expression at 25a with the verb “buy” only with “sell” but I guess it works. 9a&5d were both unfamiliar, the latter though was attainable from checkers and wordplay, the former with electronic help. Thrown a little too by 15a, always assumed it was two words.
    My podium sitters are 8,17 (thank you for crooner, as opposed to singer) and 20d.
    Many thanks to Giovanni for a top puzzle and Gazza for his usual excellent review. Happy Christmas to you both and all Toughie aficionados.

  13. Struggled with a few in the NE corner so that (together with Christmas) made for a slow finish.

    Thanks to Gazza and Giovanni and Happy New Year to all.

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