Toughie 2964 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 2964

Toughie No 2964 by Artix

Hints and tips by Dutch

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

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

Sorry, running a bit late. I found this quite hard – I was not totally on wavelength, as they say. I still don’t fully understand 4/17d, suggestions welcome.

Please leave a comment telling us what you thought.


1a    Mass of junk mail replaced by text for brief periods (6)
SPASMS: Junk mail in which the abbreviation for mass is replaced by an abbreviation for a text message

5a    Diffuse style rattled for most part (8)
PERMEATE: A 4-letter hairstyle then a word meaning rattled or worried without the last letter (for the most part)

9a    Is inactive, killing bats in here (10)
HIBERNATES: An anagram (killing) of BATS IN HERE

10a    What followed punt inside of nervous cell (4)
EURO: The inner letters of a 6-letter nervous cell

11a    Small sort of phaeton? (8)
STANHOPE: The abbreviation for small plus an anagram (sort of …) of PHAETON


12a    Knighted dramatist loosens tips of ivory and gold cane (6)
RATTAN: A dramatist Sir Terrence ******** knighted in 1971 loses (loosens) the first letters (tips) of ivory and gold

13a    Let off majority of cold weather, but only just! (4)
FREE: Just over half the letters of a 6-letter word for a cold spell

15a    Perhaps Johnson, in a way, once backed by fools, according to the Speaker (8)
AVIATRIX: Not Boris. A from the clue, an old word for way, and a homophone (according to the speaker)

18a    Mum invested in banker behind revolutionary engine part (8)
CAMSHAFT: AN interjection meaning mum or quiet goes between (invested in) a river and a word meaning behind

19a    Behave like Victor Hugo? (4)
BOSS: Two meanings, the second a fashion designer

21a    Actor and actress with hygiene problem first time (6)
BOGART: An actress, but first an abbreviation for a hygiene problem, and finally the abbreviation for time. I’m a bit confused about the spelling of the actress

23a    Go back to forces on space series (2-6)
RE-ENLIST: A shore word meaning on or concerning, a space used in type-setting, and a series

25a    Now essentially extinct mountain-dweller? (4)
YETI: A word that could mean now and the middle letter (essentially) of extinct

26a    Stance against old hubby leaving child abandoned (10)
EXPOSITION: A word meaning stance follows a 2-letter word for old hubby. I didn’t know this meaning.

27a    Finds trouble in Walthamstow, E 17? (8)
ESPOUSES: The definition comes from the cockney rhyming slang “trouble and strife” for wife. E plus another word for 17d

28a    Ate last of pangolin boarded by Noah (6)
NARKED: The last letter of pangolin plus a verb that could mean ‘boarded by Noah’


2d    Type of plugs at bottom of list (5)
PRINT: A word for plugs or promotion, a preposition that could mean at, and the last letter (bottom) of list

3d    Austerity that’s new in author’s son (9)
STERNNESS: An Anglo-Irish Author Laurence ****** contains the abbreviation for new, then the abbreviation for son

4d/17d More than one 19 potentially from 2 & 14, 6 & 20 or 8 & 24 (6,8)
SENIOR PARTNERS: Gee. I guess these are pairs of down clues in a column explaining the second word in the answer, but I’m not sure I understand the significance of the first word

5d    Original top hunter chap is … me? (15)
PITHECANTHROPUS: An anagram (original) of TOP HUNTER CHAP IS. Drop that into your conversation!

6d    Stop cats and dogs? (8)
RESTRAIN: A stop or break plus some wet weather

7d    Sides knocked out in ’70 World Cup, for example (5)
EVENT: Remove the outer letters (sides knocked out) in the spelled-out 70

8d    Land shred up by reptiles (9)
TERRAPINS: A five-letter word meaning land plus a reversal (up) of a word meaning cut or shred

14d    They think those adding flavour should use pepper, ultimately, instead of a pinch of salt (9)
REASONERS: Take a 9-letter word for ‘those adding flavour’ and then replace the last letter (ultimately) of pepper with the first letter (pinch of) of salt

16d    Banned professor’s ulterior data provider (9)
TABULATOR: A 4-letter word meaning banned or forbidden, then a homophone (professor’s) of a word meaning ulterior or afterwards

20d    Soul song’s intro in Evita (6)
PERSON: The first letter (intro) of song goes inside Evita’s surname

22d    Before noon, I picked up Jose’s mate (5)
AMIGO: The abbreviation for ‘before noon’, then a homophone (picked up) of a word meaning I or the self

24d    Bore any way but west (5)
SNORE: Split (1,1,2,1) we see that this is any way but west

I liked Jose’s mate, Victor Hugo, and the small phaeton. Which were your favourite clues?

13 comments on “Toughie 2964
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  1. 4/17 is a description of more than one 19a

    The other sets of clues mentioned are all anagrams, potentially, of the solutions to 4/17

  2. A slog but different and mostly enjoyable. The actress is not Terry Garr but one of two other actresses I googled. Had several visits to this before I finished. One or two were bung in’s but Dutch clarified.
    Thanks to Artix and Dutch

    1. Take the actress’s name (5). Move the last two letters – the hygiene problem, to the front – first – and then add the abbreviation for time

  3. Tough going but got there with a couple of bung ins.
    I’m not a fan of cross referenced clues but 4&17d was clever.

    Thanks to Dutch and Artix.

  4. Phew! That was a grind, but a rewarding one if there is such a thing. Probably the toughest Toughie for some time IMHO. 4/17, 19a with the accompanying anagrams have to be the favourites for the skill involved in compiling them. The parsing of 16d escaped me so thanks to our blogger for sorting that out.

    My thanks to Artix for the considerable challenge and to Dutch for the unravelling.

  5. I also found this hard, though not quite as hard as Elgar at his worst/best. Happily I did identify the nature of the connection between 4/17 and the related pairs of clues fairly early on and this helped. I failed to parse 2d and didn’t twig how ‘professor’ was being used in 16d (never seen it before, as far as I can remember), so am most grateful to Dutch for clarification, and of course thank you to our fiendish but fair setter.

  6. Why was this a class above todays Backpager [ which people seemed to enjoy so much]? Because it was really clever, really witty, but essentially fair and so much more satisfying to solve. I admit to failing on 5d [according to my old dictionary they are extinct!] and needed help on 5 and15a, but I really enjoyed the challenge and satisfaction that came with the solutions.19a my fave [ helped the ” links”] and 27a and the cheeky 28a. Many thanks to Artix and Dutch.

  7. Crikey. Harder than an impenetrable Elgar. Pleased to see a proper female pilot, but 11a I thought very clever, although often associated with miniature monoculars showing… um.. whatever. I only managed about a third of this, and didn’t really find a lot of the solutions gettable if you don’t want to revert to help of any sort. Does the compiler really know obscure words like 5d? Beyond me. No enjoyment really.
    Thanks to Dutch, but not so many to Artix…

  8. This took a very long time indeed to complete, and I was amazed that I hadn’t made any errors. Like Dutch I struggled to get on the same wavelength as Artix, but once I’d made allowances for this I must admit his clues were fair, but certainly quite complicated. My favourite was my last one solved, i.e. 15a. Definitely a Friday Toughie, but probably too challenging for those with limited time or experience. Thanks Artix and Dutch.

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