Toughie 2914 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 2914

Toughie No 2914 by Hudson

Hints and tips by crypticsue

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BD Rating – Difficulty *Enjoyment ****

Just what the crossword solver ordered – a splendid crossword from Hudson which was a joy to solve from start to finish.

Please leave a comment telling us what you thought.


1a    Does retired Tadcaster referee keep one in his trousers? (6)
FERRET Always good to start a crossword with a laugh out loud moment – no idea why one would want to put this animal in one’s trousers, but it is hidden in reverse (retired) in tadcasTER REFeree

5a    Bin fish stew accompaniment (8)
DUMPLING A synonym for bin in the sense of get rid of and a type of fish

9a    Labourer paid for a bonding session? (10)
BRICKLAYER Someone paid for making a wall, for example, bonding being a description of the process

10a    Intimate company escorting son (4)
COSY A military abbreviation for company ‘escorting’ the abbreviation for son

11a    Sheik bust with nil capital (8)
HELSINKI An (bust) of SHEIK with NIL

12a    Dismiss class (6)
REMOVE A verb meaning to dismiss or, in some public schools (Greyfriars School being a fictional example of where I heard this term first) a name given to the lower fourth form (class)

13a    Whimper, sounding like a cross animal (4)
MEWL This whimper sounds like a cross between a donkey and a horse

15a    Waspish type hot cycling elevated roadway (8)
HOVERFLY The abbreviation for hot and an elevated roadway, the second part ‘cycling’ to the front of the word

18a    Cherish husband and elderly partner (4,4)
HOLD DEAR The abbreviation for husband and a slang term for an old woman, some men using this term to refer to their marriage partner

19a    Extracted natural moisture bordering river (4)
DREW Some natural moisture going round (bordering) the abbreviation for river

21a    Yard probing Head of Special Branch, notoriously devious individual (3,3)
SLY DOG An abbreviation for yard goes between (probing) the ‘head’ of special and a branch of wood

23a    Irish poet spurning hot dog ultimately preferred tofu (4,4)
BEAN CURD The surname of an Irish poet without (spurning) the abbreviation for hot, a worthless dog and the ultimate letter of preferred

25a    Meat which can be bought with the heart removed (4)
VEAL Remove the middle letter (heart) from an adjective meaning can be bought

26a    Travelling each summer, it can get piping hot! (10)
MEERSCHAUM An anagram (travelling) of EACH SUMMER

27a    Ransack stately home, initially breaking in like a cat burglar (8)
STEALTHY An anagram (ransack) STATELY, the initial letter of Home being inserted in the result (breaking in)

28a    Secured weepie co-star for Swayze, P? (6)
MOORED Write the name of Patrick Swayze’s co-star in the weepie movie Ghost in the same way as his name is shown at the end of the clue


2d    Yen to visit Ireland — looking up a remote place to stay (5)
EYRIE The abbreviation for Yen to ‘visit’ a reversal (looking up) of another name for Ireland

3d    Like a safe investment of crude oil, multiple diamonds, houses (4-5)
ROCK SOLID An anagram (crude) of OIL inserted into (houses) a slang term for a diamond and the abbreviation used in card games for the suit of Diamonds (hence the ‘multiple’ in the clue)

4d    Gift story books (6)
TALENT A story and the abbreviation for the books in the ‘second half’ of the Bible

5d    Overcharging daft Big Brother lad year in, year out (8,7)
DAYLIGHT ROBBERY An anagram (daft) of BIG BROTHER LAD with one abbreviation for Year inserted into the result, and another added at the end (out[side])

6d    Mum runs over solemn German nobleman (8)
MARGRAVE Another informal name for a mum, the cricket abbreviation for runs and a synonym for solemn

7d    1st of last month, old copper drafted in as stand-in (5)
LOCUM The first letter of last and the abbreviation for month, the abbreviation for old and the chemical symbol for copper being ‘drafted in’

8d    Bath dandy left boring, vulgar city (9)
NASHVILLE A celebrated dandy who lived in Bath and the abbreviation for left ‘boring’ an adjective meaning vulgar

14d    It’s used to soothe little Mary when visiting hospital department (9)
EMOLLIENT A diminutive form of Mary ‘visiting’ an abbreviated hospital department

16d    Italian leaves wireless receiving Chic broadcast (9)
RADICCHIO A wireless ‘receiving’ an anagram (broadcast) of CHIC

17d    Oil carrier bound for north-west Africa heading north an hour away (8)
BERGAMOT A way of saying bound for the region of North-West Africa reversed (heading north) and wit the abbreviation for hour removed (away)

20d    Herbal sample infused with busy Lizzie? (6)
BALSAM Hidden in (infused with) herBAL SAMple is the name of the plant family which includes the Busy Lizzie

22d    Section of River Shannon essentially maintained (5)
DELTA The first part of the stage name of a 1960s singer (Shannon being the surname) [anyone else being singing Runaway this morning?] and the ‘essential’ letters of mainTAined

24d    Compact powder tip of garden rake buries (5)
ROUGE The ‘tip’ of garden buried inside a dissolute person (rake)


25 comments on “Toughie 2914

  1. A highly entertaining puzzle – thanks to Hudson and CS.
    I had many ticks including 25a, 8d and 22d but my favourite was the LOL 1a.

  2. Great fun- super clues and several which raised a chuckle. Winners were 1a, 25a, 5d and [hats off to Hudson] 22d.
    Thanks to him and to CS for the blog.

  3. Like CS, I started the solve with a really good laugh at 1a and then I made a real mess of it getting totally, and probably unnecessarily, bogged down in the SE.

    Standout favourite – the aforementioned 1a.

    Thanks to Hudson and CS.

  4. Cracking puzzle. Always laugh when Gazza declares (back-page comment) a puzzle not particularly difficult & I’m scratching the bonce furiously – at that point on my 3rd stab (even with the 5 checkers in) at arranging the fodder in the correct order for 26a which was new to me. 6d also required confirmation but otherwise unaided & correctly parsed. Fully agree with Gazza’s 4 highlighted ticks though the best of them for me was 22d for the parsing PDM.
    Thanks to Hudson & to CS

    1. My intention with such comments is to get a few solvers who wouldn’t otherwise go near the Toughie to have a go at it.

      1. And it works! About 3/4 unaided. NE and SW hold outs. Not helped by wailing in 13a. So thanks for the hints.

      2. Only joshing. I realise that & indeed that’s why I started attempting them. Was lucky to get half a dozen or so answers to begin with.

      3. Aha! Should have known. Very clever Gazza. Thank you

        You hooked me too and I got there in the end with some electronic help and letter clues.

        I should persevere I think …..

    2. 6d and 26a were new to me as well! Now to wait for an opportunity to use them in real life (or wait for recycling as StephenL did with 2d on the back-page?)

  5. I did need to check with Mr G for confirmation of a couple of bits of GK – the German nobleman and the Irish poet – but still really enjoyed the puzzle.
    My own top three were 21&28a plus 5d with a mention for 25a which took me longer than anything else.

    Thanks to Hudson and to CS – who doubtless didn’t need any help from Mr G!

  6. Always a must-try when my home town appears in a crossword clue (1a) saved for when I get home.
    I am still working my way through the backpager so it will be past the blog’s bedtime before I get back to it.

  7. This for me was a great way to start trying out solving Toughie crosswords, as I always have trouble with them,for me there were a lot of PDM’s and a few ISGT’S (when you reveal the answer you say”I Should’ve Got That) all in all very enjoyable, a big thank you to Hudson and CryricSue

  8. DNF as I put “wail” in for 13a [ I know a whale is not an animal but a mammal , so….] , thus couldn’t do 14d . Otherwise an excellent and enjoyable puzzle . Many Thanks

  9. Very good puzzle but not a one star difficulty as far as I am concerned.
    Lots of enjoyable clues but I’ll pick 3d as my favourite.
    Thanks to CS and Hudson.

  10. I’m never quite sure about ‘essentially’ truly giving us the centre letter or letters of a word, but that was my favourite clue in this entertaining romp. Great stuff. **/***.

  11. Hudson puzzles are invariably real smilers and this was no exception.
    Not overly difficult, but a few of the solutions arrived on an earlier bus than the parsings.
    I didn’t know the “Bath dandy” and surprised that Shannon wasn’t qualified by perhaps or maybe? A couple of dated references but no complaints.
    The very funny 1a set the tone, I also particularly liked 9,15,18&27a plus 22d.
    Many thanks to Hudson and CS, the latter for tidying up a couple of parsing issues

  12. I loved every minute of this excellent puzzle. If one was looking for an example of a well-balanced, intelligent cryptic crossword, this surely was it. 1a was my top pick, with 8 and 22d completing the podium.

    My thanks to Hudson for the fun, and to CS.

  13. Very pleased to have finished this delightful Hudson last night but admit not to remembering what that part of NW Africa is called and that one held me up for a while, so I did google for confirmation there. Still, an unaided finish, with 8d, 22d, & 28 all cleaning out the cobwebs in my memory banks, but each one of those splendid clues fell fast to my revived younger self. (Incidentally, Jimmy and I just watched Ghost again a few weeks ago–not for perhaps the most obvious reasons, but to enjoy Whoopie Goldberg’s Oscar-winning star turn!) Loved this puzzle, with grateful thanks to Hudson and to CS, whose hints I’m glad to say I did not need.

  14. As I posted, by mistake, on todays cryptic. I knew Busy Lizzie was “ impatiens” but “balsam”:was new to me. Is this the same as the plant known as “policeman’s helmet”?
    Now this to me is the best part of the blog but…..with BD incapacitated, Tilsit facing major surgery, Kiwi Colin having a heart attack and various stalwarts leaving in disgust, are we in danger of closure?

  15. I can’t do better than echo YS’s comments at 12 above.

    Many thanks to Hudson for a splendid puzzle and to CS for a splendid review and pictures.

  16. CS. I haven’t solved this puzzle but reading your comment about 1a, I couldn’t resist writing. I have heard of ferret-legging and always thought it was a made-up/spoof pastime. But it is a real “sport” which was/is popular in Yorkshire (Tadcaster is in N. Yorks). From Wiki:

    Ferret-legging was an endurance test or stunt in which ferrets were trapped in trousers worn by a participant. Also known as put ’em down[2] and ferret-down-trousers,[3] it seems to have been popular among coal miners in Yorkshire, England. Contestants put live ferrets inside their trousers; the winner is the one who is the last to release the animals.

    Ee bah gum!

  17. 3 in the sw defeated me, so I can’t agree with the 1* difficulty, and it took a long time to get that far!

  18. Ah yes, the 1* difficulty rating which today I’d disagree with, but I certainly share in CS’s enjoyment rating and I always enjoy this setter’s puzzles.

    Currently watching hummingbirds dive bomb each other as the daylight slowly fades here in Tennessee. We have a feeder with six ‘feeding’ points. They really are remarkable little creatures but if they all learned just to occupy one spot each then they’d expend less energy with their Battle of Britain type of stunts. Incidentally, I’m wondering if the poor things are just getting drunk on the sugar and water solution that ferments in the blistering heat here. We change it every couple of days (or so). Better ‘Google’ that thought although I’d imagine yeast would need to be involved.

    Thanks to Sue and Hudson – a very fine setter indeed.

  19. Thank you, as usual, for all the hints and explanations. I managed to shove in all the answers, eventually, though many were not as a result of parsing the wordplay. I have never heard of the poet, singer (how was I even to know that was what it was?) or nobleman. Though I was aware of it from books I have read, I also wonder whether the class is something that many would be aware of going forward? It is one thing to cater for those who do multiple crosswords daily and have done for 50 years. At some point, all this supposed general knowledge will need to be updated considerably. Oh well, I will be in the minority with that opinion, I suppose.

  20. Finally got round to this wonderful puzzle this evening, and so glad I did. Found it slow to get into, and by no means a 1*, but picked up speed and enjoyed it tremendously. Great surfaces, plenty of smiles. Hon Mentions to 1a, 28a and 22d.

    Many thanks to CS and of course to Hudson.

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