Sunday Toughie 85 (Hints) – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Sunday Toughie 85 (Hints)

Sunday Toughie No 85 by Robyn

Hints and Tips by Sloop John Bee

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Robyn gave me a bit of a hard time on the parsing front last night, but I think coffee and contemplation this morning have cleared the mist, much the same as the weather here, which was cleared by some spectacular lightning last night.
I learned about the firstborn son of Isaac who was red-headed and noticeably hirsute at birth, born with his twin Jacob clutching his heel

I don’t think I have noticed a 15a and 15d grid in the toughies before but I have hinted at half, and I offer to help with those clues that didn’t make the cut

Here we go…

As it is a Prize puzzle I can only hint at a few and hope that will give you the checkers and inspiration to go further. I’ll be back just after the closing date with the full blog. Don’t forget to follow BD’s instructions in RED at the bottom of the hints!

I hope I don’t have to redact any comments but I am new at this and don’t want to rock the boat. If in doubt, I’ll rub it out! I think that sentence is a bit redundant. You have all been so helpful in sorting out prior parsing failures, and I am sure I will need similar help again.

Most of the terms used in these hints are explained in the Glossary and examples are available by clicking on the entry under “See also” Where the hint describes a construct as “usual” this means that more help can be found in The Usual Suspects, which gives a number of the elements commonly used in the wordplay. Another useful page is Wolves in Sheep’s Clothing, which features words with meanings that are not always immediately obvious. Don’t forget the Mine of useful information that Big Dave and his son Richard so meticulously prepared for us.

A full review of this puzzle will be published after the closing date for submissions. Some hints follow: Remember the site rules and play nicely.



1a What caretakers do you said bores legwear model (5-3)
What the temporary caretakers who feed the cat and water the flowers do, from the sound you make when you say you, it goes into some fine legwear followed by what a model does for an artist. 

11a Protested after crew member put in post is scatty (6-6)
An abbreviation for the lower ranked members of the crew of a ship, to have posted a letter perhaps and a form of protest where you indicate that you care about a subject

13a Go to the end of the musical passage and turn right…

15a Firm, disheartened, want to limit yearly waste of stock (6)
An abbreviated firm, what remains of want when disheartened goes around (to limit) an abbreviated Latin term for yearly. Apparently, bovine livestock produce 7-10 per day. Fortunately, insects break down and dispose of them or we would be knee-deep in no time.

Tablets and precious metal figure in the Bible (4)
Abbreviated tablets (plural) of Ecstasy and the chemical symbol of a precious metal  give us the hirsute son of Isaac

Tip for Spurs — both sides will contain ball players (5)
A candidate for THE LIST. Both sides contain the ball-like letter and a term for one of the teams at
Bridge, named for the compass points at which they sit
Rowel Spur | French or Spanish, Catalonia | The Metropolitan Museum of Art23a Sear and e.g. roast outside of pork pie for comic figure (7,5)
To sear the outside of meat, to mislead by telling a “pork pie” and the colour of well-roasted meat provide a much loved comic figure

How Charlie Brown and Snoopy stole our hearts

Angry about what was a capital university (8)
Angry goes about a former capital city that was replaced after re-unification

Study at Sorbonne University | Sorbonne Université
Eating rubbish, uptight person acquires bulge (8)
Some rubbish or decay is acquired by an uptight person


2d Steer round North Island and answer people at Christchurch? (8)
The steer that gave its name to the shallow river crossing on the Thames where Christ Church and other colleges are situated, the round letter, the abbreviation for North Island and an answer. I was somewhat confused by the New Zealand references until I remembered that Christchurch is on the South Island

Christ Church - Experience Oxfordshire
Conservative feeling less 4? (6,6)
Numbers in crossword clues usually refer us to other clues but here the ? mark is a definition by example, 9? or 16? would be next. A somewhat rectangular Conservative, and to feel less when you have slept on your laptop as I did last night whilst trying to make clue 4 fit!

6d Obstructive car put in reverse, I state (8)
An adjective for opposed or obstructive, from a small car put in reverse, I from the clue and an abbreviation for a US State

12d Does this indicate Greenland is
American? (3,9)
A resident of six North-Eastern States, A reverse anagram in that the anagram indicator forms the first word of the answer and Greenland is the fodder to be anagrammed

17d Shiner of socialist worker, say, punched by soldier (3,5)
The colour associated with socialism, and one of the worker insects contains (punched by) an American soldier

Hubble Sees Red Supergiant Star Betelgeuse Recovering After Never-Seen-Before Titanic Eruption
Impolite Biblical guardian might have spoken thus? (8)
Archaically how someone biblically may address someone they are the guardian of

24d Blithe, like 16 Across in East London (4)
How someone from East London (who drops his aitches) may describe the hirsute 16a

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We lost a good one last week. For 20 years Bruce Guthro was the voice of Runrig, It was a highlight of my gig going to see them at their last performances in Stirling in 2018

There must be a place
Under the sun
Where hearts of olden glory
Grow young

Bha Mise Ann



27 comments on “Sunday Toughie 85 (Hints)
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  1. Another excellent demonstration of the art of crossword compilation, how does he do it!
    I have ticks all over the shop but I’ll mention 15,17&21a plus 3&12d.
    Many thanks indeed to Robyn and John.

    I think the players in 17a may be bridge players not the pronoun ?

    1. That makes more sense than my stab, I will revise the hint when The Wetherby Silver Band has finished their stint at the Ings bandstand

    2. I agree that it is probably bridge partners who are the players in 17a.
      Thanks to Robyn for an excellent puzzle and to SJB for the hints.
      (Written while SJB was also agreeing)

  2. Another tremendous puzzle from Robyn (aren’t they all?) – thanks to him and SJB for the hints.
    I knew the hirsute chap primarily from Alan Bennett’s hilarious sermon in Beyond the Fringe.
    I particularly liked 15a (waste of stock – brilliant), 27a, 3d, 16d and 24d with my favourite being 12d.

  3. A lovely surprise to see Robyn pop up in this slot. Sparkling as ever, though the parsing for 10a, despite the v clear definition, still stumps me – American behaviour, etc. Eh? And Christchurch as one word was a tad cheeky, I thought. Thank goodness Brian never tackles toughies – can you imagine what he’d make of the required biblical knowledge here?! I certainly learned summat new. Thanks to Robyn, and SJB, of course. It’s always a jaunty read! On another note entirely – twas rather depressing to see that whoever set today’s brisk 50-50 can’t spell!

    1. 10a had me stumped for a while, as the creator of the phrase and its most frequent exemplars, the Mitford sisters, were emphatically British. The penny dropped when I realised it was referring to what Americans do to the spelling of behaviour and colour

      1. Not sure why 3a is involved, but thanks to SJB for explaining 10a.

        Terrific puzzle from Robyn … a labor of love?

        Favourite: 12d Always love reverse anagrams.

  4. Way beyond my abilities today but thanks to those which I did manage and SJB’s hints, I somehow managed to finish.

    Favourites include 15a and 16d.

    Thanks to Robyn and SJB for the invaluable hints.

    I am off to lie down in a darkened room!

      1. I won’t.

        Saw a picture of thunder clouds at Copmanthorpe on the BBC last night and wondered if you were getting washed away.

        1. Spectacular lightning show but little rain, the sun and humidity returning with a vengence as we sit and listen to the brass band in Wetherby

        2. The sun had set before it got to Tad but little rain emerged here, the lights and sounds were pretty spectacular though

  5. Another splendid crossword from Robyn. 16a reminds me of my dad who, if you didn’t pronounce a certain two-word phrase with an h, would always tell you that 16a was a hairy man

    Thanks to Robyn and SJB

  6. Every day is a school day with Robyn. An excellent puzzle and quite accessible for a Toughie. I did like ‘waste of stock’ – very clever!
    I went for the old comic Charlie Drake (roast duck?) which scuppered me for a short while but soon realised the error 😬.
    Thank you Robyn for a splendid puzzle and SJB for the review.

    1. I nearly made the same duck-related mistake but checkers and the fact that the gender of most roasting joints doesn’t get on the menu saved the day

  7. Didn’t find this as accessible as Philbert seems to have done but it was certainly worth the effort. Almost, but not quite, remembered the tip for spurs so waited for the very helpful checkers to appear and I thought the wording of the clue for 1a read very strangely without any punctuation. Podium places went to 10,15&21a plus 12d.

    Thanks to Robyn and to SJB for the hints.

    1. Please bear in mind point 4 of the site etiquette:
      Do leave comments about what you like or dislike about a puzzle, but please try to justify any negative comments – comments such as “rubbish puzzle” will be deleted.

  8. Top notch. Just short heads Silvanus for best of the week in my book. Can’t claim an unaided finish unfortunately as stuck on both the first word of 1a & 2d until I revealed the letter checker (surprisingly got it to work on the old site for a change) & immediately saw them both. Had long forgotten AB’s BTF sermon & my biblical knowledge is poor so 24d required research & the bridge bit of the 17a wordplay passed me by too. Jam packed full of great clues – 10,15,16,23&27a plus 2,3,12,&16d can fight it out for places on gold, silver & bronze podia with enough ticks for a 4th. COTD the waste of stock.
    Thanks to Robyn & to John

    1. I agree the biblical nature of 16a only prompted research when he was described as ’24d but every day is a school day as they say
      I also agree that 15a was COTD but run close by a large chasing pack

  9. Commenting (very) late to say what an absolutely wonderful puzzle this Sunday Toughie was, from first to last. Some ingenious clueing & deception, wonderfully smooth surfaces, and plenty of smiles thoughout. Reasonably straightforward, I thought, so from reading comments above I was evidently fortunate to tune-in to Robyn’s wavelength. Hon Mentions to 18a, 21a and 12d.

    2* / 4.5*

    Many thanks to Robyn and to SJB

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