Toughie 3100 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 3100

Toughie No 3100 by Sparks

Hints and tips by Dutch

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

That was tricky! The pangram might have helped had I seen it earlier. There is a nice Nina of my favourite Wordle start words.

Please leave a comment telling us what you thought.


1a    Plant destruction by insect (7)
BUGLOSS: Some 4-letter destruction follows (by) an insect

5a    PM I see suppressing nonsense (7)
AISQUITH: A 2-letter interjection that means ‘I see’ contains (supresses) a word meaning nonense

9a    Gang in bars — might they check consumption of coke? (9)
SCREWTOPS: A 4-letter gang goes inside a verb meaning bars

10a    Article, verb and pronoun finish off grammatical block (5)
ANVIL: A 2-letter article, the abbreviation for verb, a first person pronoun, and the last letter (finish) of grammatical

11a    Shell ban by Israel, seething (5)
ABOIL: Remove the outer letters (shell) from a 5-letter word meaning ban, plus the IVR for Israel

12a    Building up NHS? Yes, it’s struggling (9)
SYNTHESIS: An anagram (struggling) of NHS YES IT’S

13a    Current in fuse applied to keep going (7,2)
SOLDIER ON: The physics abbreviation for current goes inside a word meaning to fuse, plus a preposition that can mean applied

16a    Bag English beef (5)
GRIPE: A bag plus the abbreviation for English

17a    Vote in a fellow King, maybe (5)
AXMAN: The mark of a vote goes inside A from the clue and a fellow

18a    Thrash about, needing energy food (5,4)
CREAM CAKE: A word meaning thrash or beat, the Latin abbreviation for about, and the abbreviation for kinetic energy

20a    Lively jester, OAP, deteriorates (9)
PEJORATES: An anagram (lively) of JESTER OAP

23a    Delivered whisky for European admin centre (5)
HAGUE: A homophone (delivered) of a brand of whisky. The admin centre is usually prefaced by ‘The’

25a    Snitch about international racket (5)
NOISE: Another word for snitch goes about the abbreviation for international

26a    Buffoon runs into robust issue, one of many? (9)
HARLEQUIN: The abbreviation for runs goes into a word meaning robust or healthy, plus one of an issue of 5.

27a    Necessary list includes a thousand on board (7)
SHEKELS: To list or lean contains an abbreviation for a thousand, all inside the abbreviation for steamship (on board). The definition and answer are both slang terms

28a    Wild about United dropping one in league (7)
FEDERAL: A 5-letter word for wild goes about a 3-letter word meaning united but without the first letter (dropping one)


1d    Permit loan to be set up? I don’t know (3,4)
BUS PASS: A reversal (to be set up) of a 3-letter loan plus a word meaning ‘I don’t know’

2d    Actress mainly crows over Oscar (5)
GARBO: A reversal (over) of a word meaning crows or boasts but without the last letter (mainly), then the letter with radio code Oscar

3d    Totalitarian state briefly incorrect about charging a new criminal (9)
ORWELLIAN: The two-letter abbreviation of a state in USA, then a reversal (about) of a 3-letter word meaning incorrect goes inside (charging) an anagram (criminal) of A NEW

4d    Drives away mules, perhaps in pick-up (5)
SHOOS: A homophone (in pick-up) of items exemplified by mules

5d    Unexpectedly scans one with a sound resemblance? (9)
ASSONANCE: An anagram (unexpectedly) of SCANS ONE + A

6d    Subdue, in the capacity of mum (5)
QUASH: A Latin word meaning ‘in the capacity of’ plus an interjection that means quiet or mum

7d    I relish digesting volume one on your American and Russian news (9)
IZVESTIYA: I from the clue, then a 4-letter word for relish contains (digesting) the abbreviation for volume, the Roman numeral for one, and some 2-letter American slang for ‘your’

8d    Papacy‘s unknown saint beginning to engage in breach (4,3)
HOLY SEE: An algebraic unknown, the abbreviation for saint and the first letter (beginning) of engage go inside (to engage in) a word meaning a breach or a break

14d    Drink in casual milieu with Jack inside church (4,5)
LIME JUICE: An anagram (casual) of MILIEU contains the card abbreviation for Jack, then a church

15d    Strikes again disrupted teachers around 3rd of December (9)
RECATCHES: An anagram (disrupted) of TEACHERS goes around the 3rd letter of December

16d    Perhaps fixes Head of Intelligence in thought, affording protection in trap (9)
GUMSHIELD: Fixes or glues, then the first letter (head) of intelligence goes inside a verb meaning thought or believed

17d    In draughts, maybe peg’s secured bloomers? (7)
ALPINES: Inside some draught beers, we have another word for peg

19d    Everlasting bearing evenly coated in lead-free alloy (7)
ETERNAL: The even letters in ‘bearing’ go inside (coated in) some alloy without the first letter (lead-free)

21d    Official concerned with overseeing First Lady (5)
REEVE: A short word meaning ‘concerned with’ and the biblical first lady

22d    Literally excites a character in part (5)
SERIF: A cryptic answer to a (5,2) phrase meaning ‘excites’, where the second word becomes a reversal indicator

24d    One who sticks with meagre food having swapped sides (5)
GLUER: Swap the abbreviations for two sides in some thin porridge

I think my favourite today is the NHS clue (12a). Here’s hoping. Which clues did you like?

13 comments on “Toughie 3100

  1. A new plant and a couple of bung ins required to complete the grid. 1d was my favourite. Thanks to Sparks and Dutch.

  2. I thought this was going to be a breeze [well, for a Friday] but then the bottom half proved much tougher than the top. Filled the grid but unable to parse 19d – completely thrown by “lead-free”! So that gets a vote, plus 17a [nice to see a namecheck for BB, or is it Freddie of maybe Albert?] and the cunning 27a.
    Thanks to Sparks and Dutch.

  3. I often seem to be in anti-phase to the blogger and thought this was relatively gentle for a Friday Toughie (but nevertheless difficult). It helps a lot when the more obscure words/knowledge overlaps with one own knowledge which seems a rare event in my case. I always struggle with plants – and we got two plant clues today – but I had heard of both. Just luck – I did not know the plant in yesterday’s Toughie. I vaguely knew the Russian newspaper but could not spell it and only succeeded when all crossing letters were in and I finally remembered the “American your” which I only learnt a few months ago after it appeared in a Toughie

    In was good fun solving so thanks to Sparks and Dutch

  4. I don’t usually fare too badly with a Sparks puzzle but this was well outside of my comfort zone – think I managed 6 answers!
    Thought I’d pop in to say Hi to Sparks anyway and ask whether he’s got any more pics of Tia to show us.
    Thanks to him for the challenge which I failed spectacularly and gratitude to Dutch for the de-code.

  5. Gosh but this was tough, with for me the W out-toughing the E. Not entirely convinced by 9a, and would expect an E in 17a (no idea who the King or picture are) – that held me up almost to the end. Oh – and the Y in 7d was unusual / unfamiliar. The Nina helped with my LOI, 27a. Some absolutely cracking clues, of which my favourite was 22d.

    5* / 4*

    Many thanks to Sparks and Dutch

  6. I wish I knew how to insert a picture into a post – I found a field of Vipers 1a a few weeks ago and cannot for the life of me see how to post a picture! Any ideas please, anyone?

    1. I’ve never inserted anything in a post, but I imagine you’ll need to use the “choose file” button below your name and email address, but above ‘post comment’, when you comment. I don’t think you can add a picture after you have hit ‘post comment’, but I am not entirely certain.

  7. I really am a blithering idiot – of course, thank you Mark. That button is there every time we post and I forgot it entirely, being hung up on not being able to copy and paste or use some coding! So, hopefully this works – some Viper’s 1a:

  8. A day late but a big thank you to Sparks for this very tricky Toughie, and of course to Dutch.

  9. A day late? That’s nothing compared to my in-tray.
    When I saw Friday as the date, I wasn’t expecting to see a Sparks.
    But what a joy, specially as he only submitted 8 puzzles this year.
    Better check that I haven’t missed any.
    Thanks to him for the workout and to Dutch for the review.

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