Toughie 2899 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 2899

Toughie No 2899 by Silvanus

Hints and tips by Gazza

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BD Rating – Difficulty **Enjoyment ****

The word we have to clue in this month’s Telegraph Newsletter competition is ‘smoothie’ – I was tempted to send in ‘Drink in a Silvanus clue? (8)’. Today’s Toughie provides many examples of this setter’s art – many thanks to him.

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

Across Clues

1a Look east to pursue appointment, becoming hotel employee (14)
COMMISSIONAIRE: append a look or manner and the abbreviation for east to an appointment in one of the armed services.

9a Fear, perhaps, behind son stopping Europeans finding fugitive (7)
ESCAPEE: what Fear is a specific example of as a geographical feature follows the genealogical abbreviation for son and that all goes inside two occurrences of the abbreviation for European.

10a Fantastic luck as female comes into large amount (7)
SACKFUL: an anagram (fantastic) of LUCK AS with the abbreviation for female going inside it.

11a Steep cycling race, a classic (4)
SOAK: cycle the letters of the name of a classic race held annually at Epsom.

12a Rainbow-coloured flag briefly coming down (10)
IRIDESCENT: drop the last letter of a flag (a plant with sword-shaped leaves) and add a synonym of ‘coming down’.

14a Suggest replacing Democrat with Republican is something attractive (6)
ALLURE: start with a verb to suggest or hint at and replace its abbreviation of Democrat with that of Republican.

15a Delay over initially ordering that woman’s footwear (8)
GALOSHES: reverse a noun meaning delay and add the initial letter of ordering and the contracted form of ‘that woman has’.

17a Escort fellow to meet monarch, number kept back (8)
CHAPERON: string together an informal word for fellow, the regnal cipher of our current monarch and the reversal of an abbreviation for number.

18a Home ground backing Hampshire’s opener (6)
HEARTH: a synonym for ground or soil follows the opening letter of Hampshire.

21a Priest taken short during show? That’s embarrassing (10)
INDELICATE: an Old Testament priest without his final letter goes inside a verb to show. What a superb surface.

22a Extremely excited having this on the restaurant menu? (4)
SOUP: split your answer 2,2 to get extremely excited.

24a Start seeing bouncy character filled with despair ultimately (7)
TRIGGER: Pooh’s bouncy mate contains the ultimate letter of despair.

25a In general, worried about regularly overlooked German student being upset (2,5)
AT LARGE: a verb meaning worried contains the reversal of the odd letters of German and our usual abbreviated student.

26a Flanking English river creature, they cross awkwardly in waders (6-8)
OYSTER-CATCHERS: abbreviations for English and river and the creature beloved by Mr K are flanked by an anagram (awkwardly) of THEY CROSS.

Down Clues

1d Sort of bun Rachel’s eagerly consumed (7)
CHELSEA: hidden in the clue.

2d Plant in shade Amy claims I cultivated (10,5)
MICHAELMAS DAISY: an anagram (cultivated) of SHADE AMY CLAIMS I.

3d Little devils being wicked, neglecting debt notice (4)
IMPS: remove our usual notice acknowledging a debt from an adjective meaning wicked or ungodly.

4d Chain store’s head reported by police? (6)
SIERRA: how a police traffic officer would say the first letter of store over the radio.

5d Rock band is unsettled touring India following row essentially (8)
OBSIDIAN: an anagram (unsettled) of BAND IS contains the letter that India represents in the Nato Phonetic Alphabet. All that follows the central letter of row.

6d Used to Frenchman visiting one facing criminal charges (10)
ACCUSTOMED: insert TO and the abbreviation for Monsieur into someone facing criminal charges.

7d Additional study, source of help that inspires young college student (9,6)
REFRESHER COURSE: a word meaning a source of help in a difficult situation contains an informal word for a first-year student at university.

8d Tree-dwellers, those periodically observed beneath narrow opening (6)
SLOTHS: regular letters of ‘those’ follow a narrow opening.

13d Permission to proceed with new journey, heading off (5,5)
GREEN LIGHT: an adjective meaning new or inexperienced and a journey (by balloon perhaps) without its first letter.

16d Enchanting individual piece of porcelain, reportedly about to be returned (8)
SORCERER: what sounds (to some) like a piece of porcelain used to prevent your hot cup leaving rings on the table is followed by the reversal of a preposition meaning about.

17d Suggest wearing primarily colourful unknown fabric (6)
CHINTZ: a verb to suggest is clothed in the first letter of colourful and one of the algebraic unknowns.

19d Turns out, doctor snapped — finally dismissed by hospital (7)
HAPPENS: an anagram (doctor) of SNAPPE[d] without its final letter follows the map abbreviation for hospital.

20d Revolutionary American inventor needing little ordinary capital (6)
OTTAWA: glue together an abbreviation for American, the name of a Scottish inventor and the abbreviation for ordinary. Now reverse it all.

23d Coalition barely able to be supported by old Conservative (4)
BLOC: the word ‘able’ stripped of its outer letters is followed by abbreviations for old and Conservative.

Top of the pile for me today were 9a, 11a and 4d with my favourite being the excellent 21a. Which one(s) were the bee’s knees for you?

33 comments on “Toughie 2899
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  1. A very enjoyable companion to Mr T’s back pager although some might say that it is not quite tough enough for a Thursday – 2*/4.5*

    Candidates for favourite – 12a, 7d, 13d, 16d, and 20d – and the winner is 7d, with 20d as a close second :smile:

    Thanks to Silvanus and Gazza.

  2. Very enjoyable indeed, can’t help but admire the skill in producing the polished surface reads.
    Lots of ticks on my page including 17,21&26a plus 4,13&16d but I think my favourite because it produced a large grin was 19d. Top stuff.
    Many thanks to Silvanus and Gazza, the latter particularly for explaining my 11a bung in.

  3. Thanks to Jane for advising that it was Silvanus on Toughie duty today. I solve DT puzzles on the iPad and it doesn’t tell you who the setter is.
    He had even included a nice bird for you to enjoy on your birthday, Jane!
    Great stuff, as ever, from one of the very best.

  4. An enjoyable puzzle , but see my remarks on Backpager re relative difficulty cf Toughie . On a minor point , the last time we had the answer to 26a , I’m pretty sure it wasn’t hyphenated . Surely the Editor should make sure of these anomalies ?

    1. It’s hyphenated in Chambers but a single word in Collins so even the lexicographers can’t make their minds up.

      1. My bible for avian matters is The Collins Bird Guide which shows it as one word but I’m sure either is acceptable. It’s the thought of them wearing 15a’s that amuses me – hyphen or not!

    2. We should ask the birds which they prefer. They have been very busy in DT puzzles of late and now deserve a rest.

  5. My day is now complete – wouldn’t it be nice to have the Mr T/Silvanus pairing to look forward to every week. Sorry, I’m sure that’s just a personal feeling!
    Such a large podium required but I’ll stick with my initial selection of 11,14,24&26a plus 4d. Maybe 11a just nudges out the others to claim the top spot.

    Many thanks to Silvanus for the undiluted enjoyment (I’ll back Gazza’s suggestion for the clue comp!) and to our lovely Gazza for the excellent review – loved the illustration for 15a.

      1. Thank you, Gazza, with appearances by my two favourite setters and now my favourite reviewer, how could I not have an excellent day!

      1. Thank you, sir. I would have addressed you by your forename but I’m never sure which way round you write them – are you Rahmat or Ali?

  6. It would appear that early podiums are being somewhat overcrowded with medal winners from the excellent clue choices on offer. I will just select one, 26a. The puzzle was, as expected when one sees the setter, an absolute delight to solve and most rewarding.

    My thanks to Silvanus for a great challenge, and to Gazza.

  7. A very enjoyable early morning solve. Full of smiles with no obscurities. Thank you Silvanus for the tussle. Thank you Gazza for the hints.

  8. Super puzzle, a classic from the Sylvanus stable. Gentle for a Thursday Toughie, but a Toughie nonetheless, with some absolutely tremendous clues – for me the MIDs were 22a, 24a & 16d, with COTD to the laugh-out-loud groaner 4d.

    2* / 4*

    Many thanks indeed, Sylvanus, and also to Gazza

  9. Excellent puzzle, all done and parsed apart 4d which I bunged in until MP pointed out the blindingly obvious over a quiet pint. Favourite was 9a. Thanks to Silvanus and Gazza.

  10. Many thanks to Gazza and to all commenters for your very kind feedback. A very Happy Birthday to Jane as well!

    Like most setters, I’m very pleased when a range of different clues are nominated as favourites. See you all again soon, I hope.

  11. Not impressed with 22a, a poor clue I think
    COTD has to be 24a. So many happy memories of reading to the, now grown up, grandchildren.

  12. A wide diversity of favourites among all of the comments above just goes to show the brilliance of this tremendously enjoyable Toughie. I didn’t know about the police on the radio in 4d, nor did I remember the race classic at Epsom (there are just some huge lacunae I simply will never fill), but both bung-ins were correct. I think I’ll go along with Gazza and pick 21a as my favourite, though just about any other clue would do. What a wonderful puzzle. Thanks to Gazza and to Silvanus.

    1. I meant to add that I’ve been down to Cape Fear and that the first movie version is still my favourite, the 1962 film with Gregory Peck and Robert Mitchum, even though Robert DeNiro and Nick Nolte are in the 1991 remake directed by Scorsese.

    2. My hint for 4d could perhaps have been more helpful. The UK police use the Nato Phonetic Alphabet over radio transmissions so what we need here is the codeword for the first letter of ‘store’, i.e. S.

  13. Most references to this bird that I’ve seen favour a single word, as does the pub in Climping, West Sussex. As both spellings seem acceptable, I don’t see why our esteemed crossword editor, CL, should take any flak!

  14. Lots of ticks on our pages and a real pleasure to solve. 4d was our last to get sorted.
    Thanks Silvanus and Gazza.

  15. 4d my last to get sorted too. Terrific puzzle – you can’t get better than Django followed by Silvanus in successive Toughies.
    Another vote for 21a as the pick of a very high quality bunch indeed.
    Thanks to Mr Smooth & Gazza

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