Toughie 2891 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 2891

Toughie No 2891 by Shamus

Hints and tips by Gazza

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BD Rating – Difficulty **Enjoyment ***

I haven’t had the pleasure of blogging a Shamus puzzle for some considerable time so it’s great to see him back on the Toughie rota. Thanks to him for an enjoyable and reasonably gentle puzzle. There are a couple of references which may be a stretch for our overseas solvers.

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

Across Clues

1a Prank caught by a tourist worker in turn (5)
CAPER: string together the crickety abbreviation for caught, A and the reversal of an informal word for someone working at a tourist resort.

4a City director firstly entertained by, maybe, a natural raconteur’s device (8)
ANECDOTE: the postal area of the City of London and the first letter of director go inside what ‘a natural’ is an example of musically (1,4).

10a Northern country includes very advanced, idyllic state (7)
NIRVANA: the abbreviation for northern and a Middle-Eastern country contain the abbreviation for very. Finish with the abbreviation for advanced.

11a Radical dictators take to posturing (7)
DRASTIC: remove ‘to’ from DICTAtoRS and make an anagram (posturing) of what remains.

12a Heroines oddly ignored for long periods (4)
EONS: just even letters.

13a Casually agreed about eating crusts of overgrown bloomer (5)
PEONY: reverse a casual word of agreement around the outer letters of ‘overgrown’.

14a Gloss over one-time trading association, reportedly (4)
GILD: the answer sounds like one of the old trading associations, which still exist under the name livery companies.

17a A wee pun again devised to encapsulate timeless place in country (5,3,6)
PAPUA NEW GUINEA: an anagram (devised) of A WEE PUN AGAIN contains a verb to place without its final T(ime).

19a Familiar airs unsettled saturnine guest (9,5)
SIGNATURE TUNES: an anagram (unsettled) of SATURNINE GUEST. Here’s a familiar air that has stood the test of time:

22a Get too old for romantic meeting (4)
DATE: double definition.

23a Artist cuts offer for thread (5)
BRAID: our usual artist goes inside an offer (at an auction, maybe).

24a Section of network’s muting mildly offensive comments (4)
SMUT: hidden in the clue.

27a Inventive sort taking round at home ordinary stuff (7)
MARCONI: glue together an adjective meaning ‘at home’, the abbreviation for ordinary and a verb to stuff or pack. Now reverse it all.

28a Rare poem composed but without a commanding figure? (7)
EMPEROR: an anagram (composed) of RaRE POEM without it’s a.

29a Consider minutes taken in abandoned building at rear of office (8)
RUMINATE: insert the abbreviation for minutes into an abandoned or disintegrated building and append AT and the rear letter of office.

30a Kiwi dancer shortly in charge gets abdominal pain (5)
COLIC: I needed Mrs Google’s help to find the New Zealand dancer (since I’ve never watched Strictly Come Dancing). Remove the last letter of his surname and add the abbreviation for ‘in charge’.

Down Clues

1d Terrible tone set by politician in court giving offence there? (8)
CONTEMPT: insert an anagram (terrible) of TONE and our usual elected politician into the abbreviation for court.

2d Normal bargain for root vegetable (7)
PARSNIP: stick together synonyms for normal and bargain.

3d Study audition of hell-raising actor (4)
READ: this sounds like the surname of a hard-drinking actor who died in 1999.

5d Revised modern reading inspires international bestselling author (6,8)
NADINE GORDIMER: an anagram (revised) of MODERN READING containing an abbreviation for international gives us a South African author.

6d Reticent type turns up in abnormal clothing (4)
CLAM: hidden in reverse.

7d Show more dishonesty adopting new statement lacking details (7)
OUTLINE: to tell more porkies than someone else contains the abbreviation for new.

8d Military hero leads to lively celebrations in festival (2,3)
EL CID: insert the leading letters of lively celebrations into a Muslim festival.

9d Flags could be required for this creative type? (8,6)
PAVEMENT ARTIST: cryptic definition. Flags here are what you walk on rather than salute.

15d Haggard female in family after end to partying (5)
GAUNT: I bet I wasn’t the only one to immediately think of ‘She’ for Haggard female but what we need is a female relative after the end letter of partying.

16d Medical officer in hearing given to making cracks? (5)
WITTY: this sounds like the surname of England’s Chief Medical Officer. Next slide please! Rather tricky for non-uk solvers?

18d Rarefied ground or site retained by English clubs (8)
ESOTERIC: an anagram (ground) of OR SITE goes between abbreviations for English and clubs.

20d Provisional line essentially followed by first person in style (7)
INTERIM: start with the central letters of ‘line’ and then insert a first person pronoun into a verb to style or name.

21d Figure left after period linked to fossil fuel? (7)
NUMERAL: the abbreviation for left follows what could be whimsically called the fossil fuel period (3,3) during which a certain trades union was dominant.

22d Dissent on the rise picked up by hearsay? Not relating to us (5)
DEMUR: start with an adjective meaning ‘by hearsay’ or allegedly, remove the possessive adjective meaning ‘related to us’ and reverse what remains.

25d Favour element disowning Republican (4)
BOON: remove the abbreviation for Republican from a non-metallic solid chemical element to get a favour of the sort craved by King Arthur’s knights.

26d Large-scale Eastern film (4)
EPIC: the abbreviation for Eastern and an informal word for a film.

The clues I liked best were 9d and 21d. Which one(s) gave you a fillip?

20 comments on “Toughie 2891
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  1. I feel embarrassed, having just got back from South Africa, at not having heard of today’s famous author… but it was guessable (after one failed attempt) and the rest was very straightforward, I thought, for a Thursday. And it’s nice to be back.

  2. A pleasant solve with 11a my COTD. I had no idea of the Kiwi dancer but the solution was obvious enough. I failed to parse 22d correctly as you have Gazza, because it sort of works quite well as a reverse homophone [rumed = rumoured = by hearsay]. Thus the last 4 words seemed redundant. Heigh ho.
    Thanks for the blog and thanks to Shamus for the puzzle.

  3. Like Gazza, I was delighted to find a Toughie from Shamus today. Parts of this were very challenging indeed, but it was all good fun except for the very obscure (to me, at least) author in 5d. This was my last one in and only solved by playing around with the anagram fodder and checking letters, followed by a final Google check.

    9d was my favourite.

    Many thanks to Shamus and to Gazza.

  4. So glad to see the brilliant Nobel Laureate at 5d visiting us today (teaching her stories was one of my academic highs). Yes, Gazza, as an outlander I had to bung in 16d & 30a, but what else could they be? At any rate, I celebrated an unaided finish with those bung-ins and thoroughly enjoyed the slow unfolding of a full grid, with the entire SW corner the last to succumb. So 27a and 22d get my top prizes today, but as I said re the Ray T cryptic today, there’s not a dud in the grid, thanks to Shamus, and thanks to Gazza for the review.

    1. Who knew 5 down was a Nobel Laureate? I’ve never heard of him. If I was reviewing this words like obscure and little known would have been used generously

  5. Full grid but had to visit for Gazza’s explanations for 11a, 27a 30a 20d and 21d! So a thank you to him and for the fascinating illustration at 9d. Enjoyed this very much Shamus.

  6. Such a delight to see Shamus back on the Toughie beat despite the fact that I had more trouble solving this than our estimable reviewer apparently did. Had my usual parsing problems with the subtractive elements of 11a & 22d and haven’t ever given much thought to the nationality of the dancer. Also, with huge apologies to my literary friend, Robert, I have to admit to asking Mr Google about the Nobel Laureate :oops:
    Top two here were age related – 22a & 15d. I put it down to the heat………

    Many thanks to Shamus and to Gazza for the review. Enjoyed listening to the familiar air – took me back to the good old days of William Hartnell, the real Dr Who, and by extension to the real James Bond – take a bow Mr Connery!

  7. Many thanks to Shamus for a good solve. I found it quite easy, around **, but a good *** for the enjoyment.

    Thanks also to Gazza.

  8. Defeated, at least in terms of parsing, by the kiwi dancer – but no complaints, all fair and a thoroughly enjoyable solve. 3d, 21d, 22d favourites though probably could have selected any three for the podium. (OK, on an ultra-pedantic ‘note’: the 4a note should be simply “a natural” i.e. a as indefinite article – specifying the particular note “A natural”, as suggested by the inclusion of “maybe”, ought to require retention of the capital A in the clue? And as D is accepted abbreviation for Director, the “firstly” seems superfluous too?) Many thanks Shamus and Gazza!

    1. [Pfft, excessive pedantry is difficult to get right! The “maybe” is still needed as “a natural” is still just an example of “a note” – it’s Gazza’s hint (of “A natural” being a particular example of a note) that the hairs were being split over.]

      1. Thanks, Fez. I didn’t know that ‘A natural’ as a specific note needed a capital letter A. I’ll update the blog.

  9. It’s good to have a Shamus puzzle again. Very enjoyable despite never having heard of the writer or the dancer. A proper Toughie to boot solved either side of an early morning trip to Leicester. Thanks to Shamus and Gazza

  10. Absoloutely loved this super Toughie. Obscurities like the author and NZ dancer (I am still no wiser having seen Gazza’s blog, but insufficiently interested to pursue it any further!) did not matter as the clues were so fair. A technical DNF as I needed a letter reveal for the first letter of my LOI (16d) but I was quite taken with the generally smooth surfaces, clever constructions and overall level of challenge.

    Hon Mentions to 29a, 9d, 15d, and 21d, with COTD to 22d.

    2.5* / 4*

    Many thanks indeed to Shamus and to Gazza

  11. Despite not being the most contemporary of puzzles I did enjoy this challenging (for me) and entertaining Toughie.
    Haven’t fully gone through the parsings yet so I may be back.
    Top three for me were 1,7&21d
    Many thanks to Shamus and Gazza.

  12. I did not find this as relatively easy as our blogger, but was still richly entertained, educated and rewarded by the close. The SW quadrant was the last to give up its secrets, and, from a goodly number of hopefuls, 9d emerged as my favourite.

    My thanks to Shamus for the challenge, and to Gazza.

  13. Not finished it yet but I am amazed I have managed three quarters of a Thursday Toughie!

    I will persevere.

  14. Struggled a bit with the names involved here but eventually it all came together. Smiles are always guaranteed with this setter.
    Thanks Shamus and Gazza.

  15. All complete (eventually) bar 16d. Having come this far I’m reluctant to succumb to a letter reveal or read the hint so will have another look tomorrow. Both the novelist & dancer unfamiliar to me. Very much enjoyed the puzzle. Surprised no one has nominated 13a which I particularly liked.
    Thanks to Shamus & Gazza, whose review I will read at some time.

  16. Started yesterday: finished it this morning. Very enjoyable challenge. Hadn’t heard of the writer. I had to chuckle when the penny dropped for 16d. I’ll make that my COTD.

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