Toughie 2932 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 2932

Toughie No 2932 by Sparks

Hints and tips by Dutch

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

BD Rating – Difficulty **Enjoyment *****

Brrr, getting cold and raining. Poor dogs are shivering too, they had a haircut yesterday. Now that they can see, they are being silly and leaping around all over the place, just the distraction you need when blogging. At some point I’m going to have to switch on the heating. Let’s hope for a warm winter with Saharan breezes. Today’s puzzle is a smooth and enjoyable solve, much helped by the pangram and the 5-letter word gimmick (which gave me my first 8 entries right of the bat). Clever of Sparks to include both devices. I did need my trusty Chambers.

Please leave a comment telling us what you thought.


1a    Flower needing unlimited control (5)
ASTER: Take a 7-letter word meaning control and remove the end letters (unlimited)

4a    Rowan‘s sensitive smile (9)
QUICKBEAM: A word that can mean sensitive (Chambers def. 6) and another word for smile. The pangram helped me here.

9a    Riding coat fashionable with European empress (9)
JOSEPHINE: A 6-letter riding coat, a 2-letter word meaning fashionable plus the abbreviation for European

10a    Brief row over minute cuts (5)
REMIT: The reversal (over) of a word meaning row is cut by the abbreviation for minute

11a    Old boat, one of those facilitating growth in loads of estates, say (7)
CARRACK: When split (3,4), we have a device that allows you to increase the load when travelling by estate, for example (say)

12a    Urge into said subjective consciousness (7)
INCENSE: A preposition meaning into, plus a homophone (said) of a word for subjective consciousness

13a    Overwhelm lung, faltering in condition (6)
INGULF: An anagram (faltering) of LING inside a 2-letter condition

15a    Glaswegian coppers thoroughly embracing hard work to improve (6,2)
POLISH UP: How one might say coppers with a Scottish accent, plus a short word that can mean ‘thoroughly embracing hard work’ as in ‘ready for it’ (I think)

18a    Former vessel one with intelligence reported west of Channel Island (5,3)
NOAH’S ARK: A homophone (reported) of a 6-letter word meaning ‘one with intelligence’ comes before (west of) a Channel Island.

20a    Head over after a handsome young guy (6)
APOLLO: A word meaning head plus the abbreviation for over comes after A from the clue

23a    Bears twin daughters, one dunked in river (7)
TEDDIES: Two times (twin) the abbreviation for daughter plus the Roman numeral for one go inside (dunked in) a river in the NE.

24a    Scout company with more secure netting (7)
SCOURER: The abbreviation for company has a word meaning ‘more secure’ around it (netting)

26a    Desert flag Mike brought back (5)
MERIT: A reversal (brought back) of a word meaning to flag with the letter with radio code Mike

27a    Lacking training, delivers supply across lake (3-6)
ILL-VERSED: An anagram (supply) of DELIVERS goes around (across) the abbreviation for lake

28a    Once, neat dig written about her loose covers for bookbinding style (9)
ROXBURGHE: A 2-letter ‘neat’ (where neat is an old word hence once – an editorial change?) plus a reversal of a 4-letter word meaning to dig are covered by an anagram (loose) of HER. One I had to check in the dictionary.

29a    Artist composed having reversed charges (5)
RATES: An abbreviation for an artist plus a reversal (having reversed) of a word meaning composed


1d    Casting out argument against raising level of leader? (9)
ABJECTION: Take a 9-letter word meaning ‘argument against’, then “raise the level” of the first letter (leader). The levels are school levels, though I don’t think the lower one is still used.

2d    Stunning form of apprehension 25 brought up (5)
TASER: A reversal (brought up) of the answer to 25, and a clue to the 5-letter word gimmick

3d    Artist from Praha forged article of Picasso? (7)
RAPHAEL: An anagram (forged) of PRAHA plus a Spanish (of Picasso) article

4d    Unconventional exam opener tricky in parts (ii), (v) and (vi)? (6)
QUIRKY: A (2,1) ‘exam opener’ plus parts (ii), (v) and (vi) of the word ‘tricky’

5d    Anger over new image for peace proposal (8)
IRENICON: A 3-letter word for anger, the abbreviation for new and a word meaning image or symbol. A word I didn’t know.

6d    Smiley’s nemesis ousting large character from overseas port (7)
KARACHI: Take the 5-letter soviet spymaster who is Smiley’s nemesis and remove (ousting) the abbreviation for large. Then, add the name of an overseas (Greek) character or letter

7d    Meal then prepared, including topping of macaroni cheese (9)
EMMENTHAL: An anagram (prepared) of MEAL THEN, including the first letter (topping) of macaroni

8d    Joint permit revoked, but not fully (5)
MITRE: An anagram (revoked) of most of the letters (not entirely) in (p)ERMIT

14d    Old man almost runs international times in race (5,4)
GRAND PRIX: A 7-letter ‘old man’ but without the last letter (almost), the abbreviations for runs and international, and the letter that is used as a multiplication symbol (times)

16d    Bulges of cobblers covered up by puritans (9)
PROTRUDES: A 3-letter word for cobblers or rubbish is covered up by a word meaning puritans

17d    Seizing all others in flight (8)
WRESTING: A 4-letter word for ‘all others’ goes inside a word that can mean flight

19d    Derelict hut — his housing an unknown dog (4,3)
SHIH TZU: An anagram (derelict) of HUT HIS containing (housing) an algebraic variable (unknown)

21d    Open up post about a joke (7)
PIONEER: A word for a post goes about a joke (as in ‘have you heard the *** about’)

22d    Eternal lover I flogged, ending in woe (6)
ISOLDE: A (1,4) version of ‘I flogged’, plus the ending in woe

23d    Perhaps watch while undermined by resistance (5)
TIMER: A word for a while or duration plus the abbreviation for resistance

25d    Wastrel endlessly worked and tried to rectify failure? (5)
RESAT: An anagram (worked) of (w)ASTRE(l) without the outer letters (endlessly)

I liked Smiley’s nemesis and my favourite today is the unconventional 4d. Which clues did you like?

19 comments on “Toughie 2932

  1. I found this considerably harder than our esteemed blogger, but managed to complete it with a few unparsed bung-ins as is usual for a Friday Toughie. I, too, liked Smiley’s nemesis and the unusual 4d, together with 15a and 3d. Very rewarding and challenging.

    Many thanks to Sparks and Gazza.

  2. Enjoyed this. Didn’t notice the fun with the five letter words until Dutch pointed it out. Very clever. My cotd is 15a.
    Thanks to Sparks and Dutch.

  3. Beat me fair and square today, Sparks, don’t think I referred to the BRB as often as I should have done!
    Not to worry, I enjoyed the challenge and learnt a couple of new synonyms along the way.

    Thanks to Sparky’s dad for the puzzle and to Dutch for his help when I hit the brick wall.

  4. Quite enjoyed this puzzle until I gave up and looked at hints for those missing. Didn’t like 4a; have heard of whitebeam and hornbeam but not quickbeam. 11a pretty tricky and never heard of 28a. Should have got 15a as currently reading Val McDermid – a nice clue though. ****/*** in my book. Thanks to all,

  5. Easy despite the obscure words scattered about the place. Don’t care for clues like 6d where references from popular culture form part of the cryptic dimension and offer no help without resorting to Google. Enjoyable nonetheless. Thanks all.

  6. Found this very irritating today, particularly 1d, 9a, & 13a. However, the unicorn cartoon had me roaring with laughter, so many thanks!!

  7. I am with those who found this considerably harder than Dutch. (I think most of us find quite a lot of things harder than Dutch.) Didn’t spot either of the things that helped him until I’d finished, as usual. In the end only one bung-in, which (in my defence) I figured out before resorting to our ever-helpful bloggers tips. I suspect I am not the only one who had never heard of the method of bookbinding. Many thanks as ever to Dutch, and to Sparks for what I consider a proper Friday workout, if not quite at Elgar levels of fiendishness.

    1. I think I was lucky to see the 5-letter thing straight away, that gave me a turbo-charge of 8 immediate entries. I surprised myself by finishing within in my 2* time

  8. Loved it all. Needed all the checkers and remembering the beast (bloody commas!) and a Google for 28a (which revealed the “R” Club which looks interesting). The first part of the Nina in the NW helped elsewhere – although is the number of doubles a little excessive?.

    Loved the use of the Glaswegians and the Channel islands – smiling penny drops.

    Agree on a 2/5. Great. Thanks to Sparks and Dutch.

    Robert in Carolina – if you read this – stay safe.

  9. Found this to be a bit of a slog as so many things such as the rowan, the riding coat, the old boat and the book binding were all new to us. Ended up putting CARPARK in 11a that we were unable to parse of course.
    Noted the pangram but missed the cleverness with the 5 letter answers.
    Thanks Sparks and Dutch.

    1. I had ‘carpark’ pencilled in for ages too, along with some completely invented words including ‘barkark’!

  10. I’m surprised nobody has voted for the lovely innuendo of 16d, which had me chuckling. I also liked the cleverly unconventional 4d.
    Like the Kiwis I had carpark for 11a and couldn’t parse it, even tho “loads of estates say” seemed a fair enough definition. The 5-letter anagram gimmick was given away [to me] by 2 and 25d.
    Thanks to Sparks and Dutch.

  11. Agree about 4d. Just trying to think of uses of sub-clauses apart from, maybe, school exams. Any ideas?

  12. Late post, and haven’t posted for some time, but we saved this for our holiday here in Croatia. Isn’t 8d a hidden word rather than an anagram?

    Lovely blog as always from Dutch, but this puzzle deserves more than ** for difficulty.

    1. Nice to see you again, Sheffieldsy. I think you’re right about 8d.
      Hope you enjoyed Croatia, people I know who’ve holidayed there report nothing but good about the area.

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