Toughie 3030 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 3030

Toughie No 3030 by Musaeus

Hints and Tips by crypticsue

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

The Wednesday Toughie this week is provided by Musaeus.

It has quite a few anagrams (four in a row in the Downs!) and some possible ‘unknown’ words, all fairly clued.


1a    British trees contain early sign of dry rot (10)
BALDERDASH The abbreviation for British and two types of tree between which is put the first letter (early signs) of Dry

6a    One brother returned some waders? (4)
IBIS The letter representing one and a reversal of a brother (or sister)

9a    Fan with old joke leading to railway farce (10)
BUFFOONERY An enthusiast (fan) with the abbreviation for Old, a joke (have you heard the …) and the abbreviation for railway

10a    Giving reward to introduce run (4)
FREE A reward for services into which introduced the cricket abbreviation for run

13a    Promise soup among French, and inside (7)
BETROTH The word used among French speakers to mean ‘and’ inserted into (inside) some soup

15a    Perhaps cure is close for researcher probing lost diary (3-3)
AIR-DRY The letter that ‘closes’ researcher inserted into (probing) an anagram (lost) of DIARY

16a    Most trustworthy party behind South Africa (6)
SAFEST A party or gathering goes ‘behind’ the abbreviation for South Africa

17a    Histrionically Mae West shakes at words of wisdom? (5,5,5)
HASTE MAKES WASTE An anagram (histrionically) of MAE WEST SHAKES AT

18a    God, cut back grass which is returning at the front (6)
YAHWEH Another name for Jehovah (God) – a reversal (returning) of a verb meaning to cut with a blow and some dried grass

20a    A Romeo determined warmth of feeling (6)
ARDOUR A (from the clue), the letter represented by Romeo in the NATO Phonetic Alphabet and an adjective meaning determined or obstinate

21a    Germany and Spain deal with hot stuff for protection (7)
DEFENCE IVR codes for German and Spain and a verb meaning to deal with hot (stolen) stuff

22a    Bond is old hat, possibly (4)
OATH The abbreviation for Old and an anagram (possibly) of HAT

25a    Previously in sight of assistance (10)
BEFOREHAND A preposition meaning in sight of and some assistance

26a    Dash through cycle lanes (4)
ELAN Hidden in (through) cyclE LANes

27a    Top brass to supply means of helping clodhoppers get on? (10)
BOOTSTRAPS An anagram (supply) of TOP BRASS TO, these clodhoppers being heavy clumsy shoes or boots


1d    E.g., Ruth‘s black Lincoln, say (4)
BABE The nickname given to an American baseball player with the surname Ruth – The abbreviation for black and the name of President Lincoln

2d    Launch left frequently (4)
LOFT The abbreviation for Left and a poetic word meaning frequently

3d    Scratch on smartphone perhaps found by disaffected yeomen (1-5)
E-MONEY Scratch is a term for ready currency – an anagram (disaffected) of YEOMEN produces the type of ‘currency’ you’d use on a smartphone

4d    Gnome’s advice against tipping junk, e.g. (4,4,3,4)
DON’T ROCK THE BOAT This gnome isn’t a small person found in the garden but a pithy saying, this one advising against making a vessel such as a junk tip

5d    Flipping small covers for those that catch mackerel (6)
SPRATS Musaeus is quite into his pithy sayings today – A reversal (flipping) of the abbreviation for small and some abbreviated waterproof covers. The saying refers to taking a small risk in order to make a great gain

7d    Bob restyled with sharper scissors found here? That’s music to my ears! (10)
BARBERSHOP An anagram (restyled) of BOB with SHARPER produces somewhere scissors would be used and also a type of music (originating from the USA) sung in close harmony

8d    Love you and I visiting new theatres (10)
SWEETHEART The plural pronoun meaning you and I ‘visiting’ an anagram (new) of THEATRES

11d    Tearing up come rashly? (10)
LACHRYMOSE An anagram (up) of COME RASHLY – a word that always makes me sigh when it appears in a crossword as I really have to think about how to spell the middle bit

12d    Italian’s bread spent at butcher’s (10)
BRUSCHETTA An anagram (spent) of AT BUTCHERS

13d    Put in the picture being fuelled by fromage? (7)
BRIEFED Split 4,3 this could mean being fuelled by a particular French cheese (fromage)

14d    Crazy book about, yes, whiskey (7)
HAYWIRE To book a service goes ‘about’ a word meaning yes/indeed, and the letter represented by Whiskey in the NATO Phonetic Alphabet

19d    For this matter she must cover MeToo, after case dismissed (6)
HERETO The feminine possessive pronoun (she) must cover (or go on top of in a Down solution) the inside letters (after case dismissed) of mE TOo

20d    Something that’s done about central tone (6)
ACCENT Something that’s done goes ‘about’ an abbreviation for central

23d    Standard American soldier (4)
PARA A norm or standard and the abbreviation for American

24d    Immodestly hiding lyrics (4)
ODES Hidden in immODEStly

17 comments on “Toughie 3030
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  1. I had the grid filled reasonably quickly though a couple of precise parsings (the “pithy” ones) arrived on a later bus needing Google research and Sue’s confirmation, never heard of gnome in that context (it’s a rather good clue) or the sprat/mackerel “gnome”.
    Enjoyable despite some less than convincing surface reads.
    Hard to see past the excellent 1a as favourite and I quite liked 22a plus 7&19d too.
    Many thanks to Musaeus and Cryptic Sue.

      1. I see that the version I kept singing to myself was the 1982 cover … and only now learn that it was a cover! I had no idea of his name, though.

          1. Yes. The 1983 cover was by Forest Thomas – reached number 3 in the chart.

            Mind you, listening to the two of them now it’s not as though he made many changes to the original!

  2. What a splendid, enjoyable, clever and hugely amusing puzzle! Appropriate level of challenge, just, I thought, but I couldn’t help smiling throughout. Quite spoilt for choice when it comes to Hon Mentions, let alone a COTD. For the former, limiting the gems to 13a, 21a, 4d & 13d; cannot decide between 11d & 12d for COTD, even though they are anagrams – in my view a testament to how good they were is that even as anagrams they were among my last completed clues.

    Re 4d – the advice evidently came too late for the operators of the Imperial Dock, Leith, if the photographs on the BBC News website are anything to go by! Can’t seem to direct-paste the picture, but here’s the link:

    2 / 4

    Many thanks indeed to Musaeus and to Sue

  3. 1a went in straight away and remained my favourite clue throughout the solve. A couple of tricky parsings held me up, otherwise no real delays in completing this most enjoyable grid.

    Thanks to Musaeus and CS.

  4. Like Stephen a reasonably swift grid fill but a few of the whys took a bit longer though all figured out other than completely forgetting gnome context as an aphorism. Hadn’t come across the 17a phrase before & embarrassingly my first thought for the last word was sweat (fair enough if you’re rushing about in hot weather). 18a also required confirmation as new to me but gettable from the wordplay. I have a mate who says scratch for ***** & is the only person I’ve ever heard use the term.
    A very enjoyable puzzle. No real favourites- thought it all good.
    Thanks to Musaeus & CS

  5. Very enjoyable – thanks to Musaeus and CS.
    I’m not usually a great fan of anagrams but I thought that 27a and 7d were very good. I also liked 1a, 1d and 13d.

  6. The puzzle seemed to be rather anagram heavy but it was still quite enjoyable.
    Unlike our more sensible reviewer, I happily put in an answer for 11d only to discover later that I hadn’t paid sufficient attention to the fodder and had spelled it incorrectly – that will teach me!
    I hadn’t previously heard of 17a but was fine with the other sayings used by our setter.
    Top marks went to 1a – brilliant word and 14d which made me laugh.

    Thanks to Musaeus and to CS for the review, beautifully illustrated as usual.

  7. Good fun puzzle that could have easily been a back-pager in terms of difficulty. Plenty of anagrams certainly, but mostly well hidden or originally misdirected i thought. I especially liked 11d, but had to double-check the spelling too! I hadn’t heard of the phrase in 17d and needed a number of checkers to get it. 7d got my COTD

    Thanks to Musaeus and CS

  8. Started with a rush but slowed down considerably in the bottom half.
    Lots of smiles and chuckles so we’re happy.
    Thanks Musaeus and CS.

  9. Gnomic connections notwithstanding–“fish small to catch a big one”?–and such extrapolations to accord with the example CS offers for 5d (I’m sure she is absolutely correct), I just plopped in what seemed the obvious answer. Thinking small indeed. Sorry, I seem to be suffering from ‘Adelaide’s Lament’, having caught a Big, Bad Cold last weekend in my only outing in two months. What rotten luck, eh? Even wore a mask all the time. Anyway, enjoyed and finished this puzzled all by my sick self last night, with 18a, 14d, and George Herman Ruth at 1d topping my list. Thanks to CS and Musaeus.

    1. Sorry to hear your down with the lurgy & hope you feel better soon. I was lucky enough to see Julia McKenzie sing the lament in Richard Eyre’s Olivier garlanded early 80s revival at the National Theatre (Bob Hoskins as Nathan, Ian Charleson as Sky & Julie Covington as Sarah) & still occasionally put the recording on.

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