Toughie No 2969 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
View comments 

Toughie No 2969

Toughie No 2969 by Donnybrook

Hints and tips by StephenL

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

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

Hello everyone from a decidedly chilly South Devon.

Donnybrook kicks off the Toughie week with a puzzle a bit general knowledge heavy but employing his usual clever and witty wordplay that I especially appreciated on writing the hints.

Please leave a comment telling us what you thought.


1a Wicked Zoroastrian priests caught (5)
MAGIC: Some ancient Persian priests and the abbreviation for Caught. Wicked here is in its more informal sense.

Here’s one of Springsteen’s many understated gems.

4a Back in time, French director departs in troubled state (8)
AGITATED: A reversal of a French film director (no me neither!) is inserted into a time and the abbreviation for Departs is appended.

10a Happy to return ring on greeting nobleman (7)
HIDALGO: A reversal of a synonym of happy and the letter that looks like a ring follow an informal greeting.

11a Red, green, blue or black card? (7)
ODDBALL: How one could whimsically describe the value of each of the colours in the clue in snooker.

12a Corrupt English teaching system (4)
ROTE: A simple synonym of corrupt and the abbreviation for English

13a Gear for those going down south copper with black American (5)
SCUBA: The abbreviations for South, Black and American embrace the chemical symbol of copper.

14a Perhaps lost dog runs out, finding stick (4)
STAY: Remove the abbreviation for Runs from a “lost” or homeless dog.

17a Juliet right inside, on her balcony, mixed strong booze (4,10)
JOHN BARLEYCORN: Anagram (mixed) of ON HER BALCONY and the abbreviations for Juliet and Right giving the personification of strong drink.

19a Rise of Muse in Proust, as Mann, excited us (5,9)
MOUNT PARNASSUS: Anagram (excited) of the preceding three words plus US giving the home of the Muses

22a This was made to pluck hot stuff from mouth (4)
LUTE: A homophone (from mouth) of some “hot stuff” in the sense of stolen.

23a 20 governor, old man remains within (5)
PASHA: Insert some remains (perhaps from a fire) into an informal name for one’s old man (parent)

24a Offensive husband seen with drink in retreat (4)
PUSH: The abbreviation for Husband follows the reversal of an informal word for drink. Offensive here is a noun.

27a Drink party not entirely dry (7)
CAMPARI: A synonym of party in the sense of a group or faction and a synonym of dry without its last letter.

28a Spotted baked dish — no cover on top? (7)
PIEBALD: A baked dish (delicious with a steak and kidney filling) plus how you would describe someone with no cover on their head. LOL

29a Spectacular thing as person turned into grotesque deity (8)
DYNAMITE: Reverse a male person and insert into an anagram (grotesque) of DEITY.

30a Shift key (right) (5)
SPELL: The definition and solution were pretty clear but this one caused me a lot of trouble on the parsing. If you key right or correctly you effectively perform the solution. Thanks to CS for the nudge with this one. I had another interpretation originally that involved a key on a Windows keyboard plus an “ell angle”.


1d Prince somewhat open with an awful player needing lift (8)
MAHARAJA: A reversal (needing lift) of a word meaning slightly open (a door perhaps) plus A and an awful player in the acting sense.

2d Share costs — dough split outside revolutionary court (2,5)
GO DUTCH: Anagram (split) of DOUGH (good spot setter!) outside a reversal of the abbreviation for CourT.

3d Ice mass sheared away a little lower (4)
CALF: Double definition, the less obvious one requiring confirmation from Mr Google, a mass of ice detached from a glacier The other refers to a (young or little) animal that “lows”

5d I’m bored with Psycho after adaptation that’s beneath grand film (7,2,5)
GOODBYE MR CHIPS: The abbreviation for Grand plus an anagram (after adaptation) of I’M BORED and PSYCHO.

6d Surge: this does at regular intervals! (4)
TIDE: The regular letters of ThIs DoEs giving a nice &lit where the whole clue serves as wordplay and definition. Here it is in Teignmouth last week

7d One raising a glass to Daisy? (7)
TOASTER: TO from the clue and a (very pretty) type of daisy. Ignore the capitalisation.

8d Team up with Democrat and waste time idly (5)
DALLY: A verb meaning to team up with or unite follows the abbreviation for Democrat.

9d Interaction with CPS that’s involved Horowitz? (7,7)
CONCERT PIANIST: Anagram (that’s involved) of INTERACTION and CPS. The solution is a definition by example.

15d Key material from Napoleon I driving English northward (5)
EBONY: The popular nickname of Napoleon has the abbreviation for English moved to the front of the clue.

16d Legend about fencing clubs’ striking effect (5)
ECLAT: Reverse a synonym of legend in the sense of story and place the result around (fencing) the abbreviation for Clubs.

18d Lops head off plant in damp habitat (8)
ASPHODEL: Anagram (off) of LOPS HEAD.

20d Have a seat with books given to us? (7)
OTTOMAN: Some biblical books, TO from the clue and how we may describe us all as humans.

21d Wurst from Brownshirts convention? (7)
SAUSAGE: The abbreviation for the assault division of the Brownshirts and a synonym of convention in the sense of custom.

22d Clear having left uniform with plainclothes officers (5)
LUCID: The abbreviations for Left and Uniform are followed by some plainclothes policemen

25d You’ll find this among herbal medicines! (4)
BALM: Hidden in the clue and a nice extended definition

26d Where those in service eat dog’s dinner
MESS: Double definition.

My winners are 11&28a plus 13&15d. Many thanks to NYD.

19 comments on “Toughie No 2969
Leave your own comment 

  1. I do like it when we get an actual Toughie on a Tuesday and parts of this did take some working out. When the penny finally dropped as to how 30a worked, I just had to award the clue a rare 2* for sneaky cleverness – my other particular favourite was 15d

    Thanks very much to Donnybrook for the Tuesday brain-stretching and to StephenL for the blog

  2. I thought this was just the right amount of difficulty for a Tuesday Toughie, and I thoroughly enjoyed the challenge. The long anagrams gave me a solid footing and I was straight onto the setter’s wavelength, whizzing through the grid with just a couple of parsing issues left to sort out, one of which was 30a. My favourites were 9d and 15d.

    Thanks to Donnybrook for the fun and to SL.

  3. Tricky but very enjoyable – thanks to Donnybrook and StephenL.
    I liked lots of clues including 24a, 3d, 7d and 15d but my favourite was 11a.

  4. 30a defeated me ☹️ but otherwise I enjoyed this toughie. Favourites were 15d and 16d. Thanks to Donnybrook and to StephenL for the review.

  5. A genuine Tuesday Toughie – 2.5*/3.5*

    Favourite – a toss-up between 11a and 7d – and the winner is 11a.

    Thanks to Donnybrook and StephenL.

  6. Struggled to parse 30a, I came to the same conclusion as above but it left me unsatisfied. The first definition in 3d was also new to me. 11a, 28a and 7d were my favourites. Thanks to Donnybrook and Stephen.

  7. 10a and 19a were new to me and I needed the hint for 30a. Oh well! Apart from those I made slow but steady progress. Favourite was 11a. Thanks to Donnybrook and SL.

  8. Trademark wit and precision from this super compiler.

    Much to admire, but I’m plumping for 17 & 19 Across as faves for today. I really liked the ‘Juliet on her balcony’ trick, great, although I don’t remember the heavy drinking from my Shakespeare studies. Maybe star-crossed lovers should crack open the wine occasionally.

    Thanks Donny and StephenL for a fine blog.

  9. Tremendous and very enjoyable intro to the Toughie week, albeit I was clearly on NYDK’s wavelength from the off, becuase this took less time than today’s backpager. OK, I biffed 30a without parsing it fully – couldn’t see the key(right) for the life of me until reading the blog – but everything else flowed very smoothly. 5d, 17d and 9d felt rather old-fashioned – and with the latter I was initally looking for a mass-market thriller writer but fortunately the anagram answer flew off the page – but GK was up to it.

    So many excellent clues – this would be a very good puzzle for newcomers to the world of Toughies. 11a, 14a, 3d and 18d take the laurels for me.

    Many thanks indeed to NYDK and of course to StephenL

  10. An excellent kick off to the new Toughie week. Last 2 in were 18d&30a – slow to twig the obvious anagram indicator with the former (vaguely recalled the plant but didn’t know that in Greek myth it carpeted Hades & was the food of the dead) & predictably couldn’t parse the latter so no 100% on the exam paper. 11a my runaway favourite & while I particularly like the 4 long ‘uns 1&15d can join it on the podium.
    Thanks to Donny & Stephen.
    Ps 27a immediately made me think of the fine English actor, John Woodvine, trying to order one with soda at the bar of the Slaughtered Lamb. Name that film.

  11. Our stumbling block was also 30a but we eventually got it sussed.
    Everything else went in smoothly albeit not rapidly.
    Most enjoyable.
    Thanks Donnybrook and SL.

  12. Struggled through and managed three quarters before giving up.
    I really don’t see how I was supposed to solve 11a
    I hadn’t realised the magi were Zoroastrians.
    Learning something every day and now a 27a seems an excellent idea,!

  13. Despite my miserable performance on the backpager today, I did very well on this excellent NYD Toughie, failing only to solve 30a. The long ones get all of my honours today, with the surprising appearance of the great Vladimir Horowitz cheering me up considerably, as I have had a very day, a human definition of entropy, but I did LOL when the penny dropped on 28a. Loved this puzzle but would never have parsed 30a without CS ad SL setting me straight. Thanks to Stephen and NYD.

  14. Hello all, many thanks for your kind comments, and thanks also to StephenL for his excellent blog.

    30A I must reveal isn’t mine: can’t remember why just now, but (for a very good reason) my clue had to be substituted, and was replaced by something from our new Toughie editor Michael Baker. Great clue Mike, but you absolutely must stop upstaging me!

    Thanks to all concerned, NYDK.

    1. Thanks for both commenting NYD and of course a great puzzle, much appreciated
      Re 30a, the new Toughie editor seems to have come up with one or two very clever and thought provoking clues recently!

  15. Tricky but lovely crossword — ***/**** for me.
    I needed help for three and am grateful to you StephenL for the decription, especially of 30a. Otherwise my parsing was correct.
    I have too many ticks to single out a fave.
    Much appreciation to NYDK for this most enjoyable Toughie.

Join the Conversation, Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

The maximum upload file size: 2 MB. You can upload: image, audio, video, document, spreadsheet, interactive, text, archive, code, other. Links to YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and other services inserted in the comment text will be automatically embedded. Drop file here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.