Toughie 2967 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 2967

Toughie No 2967 by Silvanus
Hints and tips by Gazza

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

Thanks to Silvanus for a most entertaining puzzle with only 25a holding me up and making me seek the help of Mrs Google.

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

Across Clues

1a Toy with giving Hitchcock film a miss (8-4)
SKIPPING-ROPE: replacing the hyphen with a space will get you missing a Hitchcock film starring James Stewart.

9a My son, tense inside, faced by male bullies (7)
HECTORS: an exclamation of surprise (my!) and the genealogical abbreviation for son contain the grammatical abbreviation for tense. That’s all preceded by a male pronoun.

10a Have a career, then become a ghost writer (7)
RUSHDIE: a verb to have a career or move swiftly and a verb to become a ghost or pop one’s clogs. I’m slightly surprised that the editor was happy with this given that the writer almost became a ghost after being attacked recently.

11a Invalidate in full badly written treaty ultimately (7)
NULLIFY: an anagram (written badly) of IN FULL followed by the ultimate letter of treaty.

12a Trains in Switzerland with facilities back aboard depleted services (7)
SCHOOLS: the IVR code for Switzerland and the reversal of an informal word for ‘the facilities’ go inside the outer letters of services.

13a Surrounded by lake, unknown house perched high up (5)
EYRIE: a mathematical unknown is contained in one of the Great Lakes.

14a Frank in Stoke-upon-Trent worked overlooking river (9)
OUTSPOKEN: an anagram (worked) of STOKE-UPON-[trent] after removing the river.

16a Explosive content of letter and a PS that’s outrageous (9)
SALTPETRE: an anagram (outrageous) of LETTER A PS.

19a Briefly spot partner making bit of a bloomer (5)
SEPAL: a verb to spot without its last letter and a partner or mate.

21a Return fight ends in historic triumph after comparatively uninspiring rounds (7)
REMATCH: the final letters of historic triumph follow the reversal of a comparative meaning more uninspiring or more humdrum.

23a Menial salary at the start tavern resolved (7)
SERVANT: the starting letter of salary and an anagram (resolved) of TAVERN.

24a Solicitor essentially needs more bright staff (7)
CROSIER: the central letter of solicitor and a comparative meaning more bright.

25a Two tree species, it’s said, in Virginian city (7)
ROANOKE: this was my last answer and needed some investigoogling because I’d never heard of this city in Virginia. It’s a double homophone of two trees, the first another name for the mountain-ash.

26a Alan Bennett, perhaps rare Sky broadcast with him on? (12)
YORKSHIREMAN: an anagram (broadcast) of RARE SKY HIM ON. This gives me the opportunity to play again Alan Bennett’s brilliant skit on the sort of meandering sermon that I was forced to sit through as a youngster.

Down Clues

1d University student rushes around outside being profane (7)
SECULAR: abbreviations for university and student with the reversal of a verb meaning rushes outside them.

2d Greatly admire lounge windows, circular ones, we’re told (7)
IDOLISE: a double homophone of a) a verb to lounge or be inactive and b) the circular organs sometimes referred to as windows to the soul.

3d Prevaricate, extremely fearful at first over succeeding queen? (9)
PUSSYFOOT: stick together an adverb meaning extremely and the first letter of fearful. Now reverse that and precede it with a child’s word for what a queen is an example of.

4d Standards of behaviour indoors, most unwelcome occasionally (5)
NORMS: occasional letters of ‘indoors most’ are not needed.

5d Variety of tea grew fashionable (7)
ROSEHIP: charade of a verb meaning grew or increased and an informal adjective meaning fashionable.

6d Field certain rugby players to defend unusual upset (7)
PADDOCK: a word for the forwards in a rugby team contains the reversal of an adjective meaning unusual.

7d Amazed to emerge from crash with small lorry (13)
THUNDERSTRUCK: join together a crash from the heavens, the clothing abbreviation for small and a type of lorry.

8d One cutting confidential links leading to famous people (13)
PERSONALITIES: insert the Roman numeral for one between an adjective meaning confidential and a verb meaning links.

15d Senator’s back, stopping terribly austere Republican official managing funds (9)
TREASURER: the trailing letter of senator goes inside an anagram (terribly) of AUSTERE. Finish with the abbreviation for Republican.

17d Foreign flower drooping over container almost (7)
LIMPOPO: assemble an adjective meaning drooping or flaccid, the cricket abbreviation for over and a container without its last letter.

18d Celebrated name in Ireland, actor not parting company with the best around (7)
PATRICK: the word actor loses the separated letters of the abbreviation for company and what remains goes inside a noun identifying the best or choicest.

19d Revolutionary piece of journalism’s a crass expression of contempt (7)
SARCASM: hidden in reverse.

20d Academy founder, name inspiring old military unit (7)
PLATOON: a Greek philosopher who founded an academy and the abbreviation for name contain the abbreviation for old.

22d Rigorous hospital on top of outbreak, promoting antitoxin initially (5)
HARSH: the map abbreviation for hospital is followed by an outbreak on the skin with the first letter of antitoxin moved up.

The clues I liked best were 1a, 21a, 24a and 2d. Which one(s) made your selections?

23 comments on “Toughie 2967
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  1. Another classy production. Reckon it was a wee bit easier than expected & maybe more straightforward than some of his back-pagers but as ever a joy from start to finish. Like Gazza Virginian geography not my strong point but they were the only 2 trees that looked likely & Mr G confirmed. For me Salman has to sit atop of an arty podium with Hitch & Alan.
    Thanks to Silvanus & Gazza whose review I’ll read later.
    Ps mortified that I speculatively ascribed Tuesday’s back-page setter as Mr Smooth only to then see others comment on clunky surfaces – what could I have been thinking….

  2. Another well-crafted puzzle from one of our favourite setters, full of style and humour. As always, trying to select a winner from such a long list is virtually impossible, but 21a and 2d can share the honours this afternoon.

    Many thanks to Silvanus for such a fun challenge, and to Gazza.

  3. Well, after my experience with the back pager, Silvanus has helped to restore my sanity – **/****.

    Although, I can never quite understand why his Toughies always appear on a Thursday – they seem more like Wednesday, or even Tuesday, Toughies to me.

    Candidates for favourite – 9a, 12a, 25a, and 6d – and the winner is 25a.

    Thanks to the aforementioned Silvanus and thanks to Gazza.

  4. Great crossword. Had a bit of difficulty recognising 1a as a ”toy” and usually think middle letter of 24a as a z [reference books say either ok though]; but so many enjoyable answers that one can’t quibble. 5d my fave, though the Virginia city was pretty good too! Many thanks to compiler yet again, and Gazza too. **/****

  5. Crikey, I found this really tough and it needed several sittings to end up with a fully parsed and completed grid. However it was a joy to solve with impeccable (and sometimes devious!) clueing and faultless surfaces.

    Pick any one from 28 to be my favourite.

    With many thanks to the dream team of Silvanus and Gazza.

  6. As I predicted on my Tuesday blog it’s been a stellar week thus far in Toughie-land. I thought this was great, full of wit and inventive clueing.
    To nick one of Robert’s, not a dud in the grid but I’ll highlight 1,14,21&26a (Lol) plus plus 20d with 10a just shading top spot for me.
    Many thanks to Silvanus and Gazza for the top-notch entertainment.

  7. That’s more like it, a lovely puzzle from the ‘surface master’ to compensate for my disappointment over the back-pager.
    Like Simon, I was unsure about 1a being referred to as a toy but perhaps that reflects my years of attending fitness classes as an adult!
    As usual, far too many ticks on my paper to mention them all but I laughed at 1a & 2d and my top three were 24&26a plus 12d.

    Many thanks to Silvanus for the pleasure and to dear Gazza for the review and another hilarious selection of cartoons.

  8. Many thanks as always to Gazza and to all those taking the trouble to comment, I’m very glad that you all enjoyed the puzzle.

    I must admit giving a wry smile when reading Gazza’s comment regarding 10a, as it was in fact the Deputy Puzzles Editor’s clue rather than mine! My original solution for 10a was RESIDUE but, because that also appeared coincidentally in yesterday’s Toughie, the Telegraph wanted to avoid identical solutions on successive days. The only other possible answer that would fit (without the need to change other words in the grid) was RUSHDIE but, credit where credit’s due, I think the replacement clue to be an excellent one.

    I’m scheduled to appear once more in the Toughie slot before we bid 2022 farewell, so I look forward to seeing you again in a few weeks.

    1. Many thanks for dropping in, Silvanus, and for the top-rate puzzle. Thanks also for giving us the provenance of 10a – I’m willing to make a small wager that Chris Lancaster himself wouldn’t have approved Rushdie given what he wrote in a recent Newsletter about having to be ultra careful about current events.

  9. Wonderful and just brilliant. Like Huntsman’s ranking above, Hitch, Salman, and Alan sit prestigiously atop a most precious podium. Rushdie’s Midnight’s People, one of the great literary achievements of our lifetime; Bennet’s The History Boys likewise; Hitch’s Rope all filmed in one fell swoop in real time (so the biogs say), an underappreciated classic. And Silvanus occupies a podium all of his own, thanks to this Puzzle of the Week for me. Thanks to Gazza and Silvanus.

    By the way, Roanoke is a lovely city nestled within the folds of the Shenandoahs; I have spent a number of days there over the years, especially after or before embarking on the Skyline Drive.

  10. I agree with all the comments above. Top puzzle. Hard to pick a favourite bit I’ll go with 13a. Thanks to Silvanus and Gazza. Now for the cryptic.

  11. Late on parade although solved earlier in the day. Very enjoyable, add me to the google assisted 25a club where I spent a while getting rose trees out of my head. Thanks to Gazza and Silvanus.

  12. We also needed Google assistance for 25a but not too hard to find once the checking letters were in place. The rest all went in smoothly with plenty of smiles along the way.
    Thanks Silvanus and Gazza.

  13. Having covered myself in glory at a recent quiz night by remembering Rope as a Hitchcock film, I’m mortified no to solve 1a!

  14. Gazza, 14a. I was just wondering if it mattered that the city is called Stoke on Trent. I’m not just nitpicking, genuinely can’t decide. Maybe poetic licence allowed to the setter?

    1. That did occur to me although I don’t think it matters too much. I even considered how the clue might be changed – the best I could come up with was:
      Frank shook up Stoke-on-Trent ignoring river (9)

    2. I actually did some research on this when compiling the puzzle, Jose.

      The city is indeed called Stoke-ON-Trent, but the city comprises six towns, namely Burslem, Hanley, Longton, Fenton, Tunstall and Stoke-UPON-Trent. So, Stoke-upon-Trent is perfectly legitimate if referring to the town rather than the city of six towns. Hope that clarifies.

      1. Ah, I should have known that you’d have researched it well. I’ve always known that town as just Stoke. I do know the 6 towns well by using a mnemonic (one of many) learned in geography lessons in the 60s, which gives them in correct order from north to south: Tom Brown Has Short Fat Legs. I’ll never forget that. Thanks for clarifying.

  15. Super puzzle, and in retrospect I found myself wondering why on earth it had taken so much head-scratching. My experience was similar to RD’s – several visits, including this one well before the dawn!

    Cracking clues throughout, the silkiest of smooth surfaces, smiles aplenty.

    Many thanks to Silvanus and Gazza

  16. Bit late with this one…
    liked 16A ” Explosive content of letter and a PS that’s outrageous”

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