Toughie 2960 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 2960

Toughie No 2960 by Elgar

Hints and tips by Dutch

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

To my surprise I had a full grid in 2* time, which is definitely a first for me with an Elgar. However, it then took me quite a bit more time to parse 24a properly! A most enjoyable puzzle with lots of clever clues

Please leave a comment telling us what you thought.


1a    Lying low following its administration? (5,4)
TRUTH DRUG: A cryptic definition – after being administering this, you would lie less

8a    I’ll manage a port — or rum, as the bar is free (7,6)
HARBOUR MASTER: An anagram ( … is free) of OR RUM AS THE BAR

11a    Feel anxiety failing to open lock (5)
TRESS: Take a 6-letter word meaning ‘feel anxiety’ and remove the first letter (failing to open)

12a    Ground in use, our opposition suppressing us (5)
THEME:  Inside USE, place a 4-letter pronoun for ‘our opposition’ then supress us

13/18/21a Something despicable awaiting, as these rankings will somehow show? (5,2,3,5)
SNAKE IN THE GRASS: An anagram (… will somehow show) of AS THESE RANKINGS

16a    Not have much wonderful cooking — fed rotting leaves (3,3)
RUN LOW: An anagram (cooking) of WONDERFUL from which an anagram (rotting) of FED is subtracted (leaves)

17aa    Channel crossing’s end, say (6)
GUTTER: The last letter (end) of crossing plus another word for say

19a    So everybody’s gone off this idea? (6)
NOTION: Splitting the answer (3,1,2) suggests everyone’s gone off

20a    Treacherous bosun’s a few to select from (6)
UNSAFE: Hidden ( … to select from)

24a    Dispensed good sense having gone adrift? (5)
SOSED: An all-in-one. You might have done this if you were stuck adrift in the sea somewhere. An anagram (dispensed) of GOOD SENSE without (having … adrift) the letters for GONE

26a    What’s used to fence in west-facing power base (5)
SABRE: Reverse hidden ( in west-facing …)

27a    A sign, by the way, that’s it for the on-coach entertainment (9,4)
DIVERSION ENDS: A sign you might see when a detour is over could also be interpreted as no more on-coach entertainment

28a    Wrapping 900 sandwiches rotating B, L & T? (9)
CLING FILM: The Roman numeral for 900 contains (sandwiches) a cycling (rotating) of something you put inside a sandwich exemplified by BLT


2d    Dingbat on upstairs of Routemaster? (5)
REBUS: A short word meaning ‘on’ goes above (upstairs of) what a Routemaster exemplifies

3d    I can fly, but ultimately you can’t — no wings! (6)
TOUCAN: The last letter (ultimately) of but, then ‘you can’t’ without the outer letters (no wings)

4d    Check question material (6)
DAMASK: A word for check or block plus a word for question

5d    Defeated group taking a stirrup cup? (5)
UPSET: Split (2,3), the answer suggests a group on horseback

6d    A potentially costly case of pop? (9,4)
PATERNITY SUIT: A cryptic definition which plays on ‘case’ and ‘pop’

7d    A heavenly sight, waltzing so delectably: I must cut in (9,4)
CELESTIAL BODY: An anagram (waltzing) of SO DELECTABLY containing (must cut in) I

9d    Evergreen twinkling of Sinatra’s eyes (it’s fine to be swept away) (4,5)
STAR ANISE: An anagram (twinkling) of SINATRA’s E(yes), with an affirmative word for it’s fine removed (to be swept away)

10d    Questioned about mission as commando? (9)
DEBRIEFED: The answer could also relate to ‘going commando’

13d    As woodcutter may be without a wheel (5)
SWING: A 6-letter verb that could be what a woodcutter may be doing, but without the A

14d    Seductress’s out of bounds chambers (5)
ANTRA: A 7-letter seductress without the outer letters (out of bounds)

15d    Issue gets 5 accommodating Hermia’s father (5)
EGEUS: Reverse hidden ( … 5 accommodating)

22d    Why About a Boy? (6)
REASON: A short word meaning about or concerning, A from the clue, and another word for boy

23d    Leave Hooray Henry in Kent? (3,3)
SET OFF: Split (2,4), the answer could describe a Kentish Hoorah Henry

25d    Remain in good health after end of Covid (5)
DWELL: A word meaning ‘in good health’ follows the last letter (end) of Covid

26d    Going topless too fashionable? (5)
SWELL: A (2,4) phrase meaning ‘too’ but without the first letter (going topless)

Lots of great clues – I particularly enjoyed the free bar (8a) and the I can fly! (3d). Which clues were your favourites?

17 comments on “Toughie 2960

  1. I, too, had a relatively fast solve with this, just a couple of parsing issues dragging it out a tad. I think the ‘easier’ completion actually made it more enjoyable, and I fully appreciated the clue structures. As for a favourite, 3d closely followed by the multiple anagram at 13a, which got me started.

    Thanks to Elgar and Dutch.

  2. There I was congratulating myself having finished an Elgar when Dutch brings me back to earth saying it’s only a **. Oh well. I was on a brief high until the blog was posted. Thanks to Elgar for posting a crossword for Charlie Average and for Dutch explaining some of my bung ins.

  3. Great stuff as ever, but that must be the quickest I’ve ever finished an Elgar (albeit, like Dutch, needing a fair amount of post-solve parsing to ‘properly’ finish … mostly on 12a) Faves 1a (things were looking up when that went straight in), 16a, 27a, 28a, 3d, 9d & 23d. Thanks Elgar and Dutch :-)

  4. I can’t claim to have been anywhere near as fast as the other commentators but it was the first Elgar i have ever completed. Thanks to all.

  5. Couldn’t believe I was doing an Elgar until I finally needed the hints for 15d and17a. Still don’t quite get the filling in 28a but the roman numerals made the answer fairly obvious. Lots to enjoy, 6d my fave,but the easier clues did at least mean I could go out for a walk on Friday afternoon for once! Thanks to all.

  6. Here we are and only 6 comments! Are there any lurkers out there or is this a puzzle just for a select extra brainy few? Thank goodness for the back page!

    1. Hey JB, don’t despair, though this was undoubtedly one of Mr. Enigma’s easier offerings, it still required a high degree of crossword solving ability to get a full grid. I shudder when our two regular Friday setters (Mr. E & Mr. O) add their stamp to the action, but I still give it a go. I am sure we are not alone in finding their puzzles “out of our league”, but quite a few regulars manage OK, so wish them well!
      Note: I’m proud to own-up to having completed just two out of goodness knows how many Friday “trials” without using the hints, but even then every electronic gizmo at my disposal was necessary to get there. Yes, there must be any number of lurkers struggling with these……but the heading is Toughie, and it’s only a puzzle, after all!

  7. Failed on 12a, couldn’t equate GROUND with THEME. Also had to google to get Hermia’s father. A bit on the lighter side for a toughie.

  8. Well I had a go as I usually do and found that I managed a few unaided so then used the excellent additional hints from Dutch but ground to a halt three quarters of the way through and realised even with the answers I wasn’t going any further! Many thanks to Dutch and Elgar. Now I need a cup of tea and hot water bottle and feel tired enough to sleep. Will have another go next week.

  9. Another solver here who thought he was getting better – easiest Elgar ever, perhaps? I did parse 24a but had to check that the answer exists, as I’ve never heard of it. Like NNI I couldn’t equate the definition with the answer at 12a, but OK… and it took me ages even with Dutch’s excellent (as always) hints to parse 28a, but it didn’t help that for some reason I decided that the numeral for 1,000 is L, when I know perfectly well that it isn’t. Hey ho.

    Granny Helen, don’t give up :-)

  10. Chambers has ‘A ground for action’ under theme.

    Did anyone spot the Nina? I missed it, but just got an email from Elgar. In the outer unch of the double unches, there is an 8-letter clockwise grass to make the snake feel at home

    1. oh, thanks Dutch .. was feeling very smug about “completing” before this! Very nice, thanks again Elgar :-)

  11. Thank you !
    Also . . . pretty well every collection of 5 letters is a word if you play scrabble, but I do find that going to such extremes is not enjoyable. Hey ho.

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