Toughie 3170 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 3170

Toughie No 3170 by Robyn

Hints and Tips by crypticsue

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

A most enjoyable Wednesday Toughie from one of my favourite setters; always a good start when the first clue makes you smile!

Please leave a comment telling us what you thought


1a    It’s won by the most powerful Yanks? (3-2-3)
TUG-OF-WAR A cryptic definition of a sport won by the team that yanks the hardest

5a    I thus exclude an indication of pressure (6)
ISOBAR I (from the clue), a synonym for thus and a verb meaning to exclude

10a    Dressed like a priest, Englishman famed for saving traders in capital (10,5)
INVESTMENT BANKS A two-word way of saying ‘dressed like a priest’ and the surname of one of England’s most famous goalkeepers (famed for saving!)

11a    Nothing in box? This might be on the box (7)
CARTOON The letter representing nothing inserted in a box

12a    Starter of cabbage leaves in pastry? It’s on the way (2,5)
EN ROUTE Remove the ‘starter’ of Cabbage from a cookery term meaning wrapped in pastry and baked

13a    European head in the lead, one carrying little weight (8)
BEANPOLE An informal term for the head ‘leads’ or goes before someone from a European country

15a    What in Spain follows irrational huffiness (5)
PIQUE The Spanish word for what follows an irrational number in mathematics

18a    Follow petition on case of extradition (5)
ENSUE A verb meaning to petition goes after (on) the outside letters (case) of ExtraditioN

20a    Trying to save online publication without working (8)
ECONOMIC The letter used to indicate that something is online and a publication with illustrated stories goes ‘without’ the usual two-letter “working”

23a    Ramble south of Manchuria’s borders, at first (7)
MAUNDER To wander about in a listless way (ramble) – The ‘borders’ of ManchuriA go first or before a preposition meaning below (south of)

25a    Wave from queen on holiday (7)
BREAKER The regnal cipher of our late Queen goes on or after a holiday

26a    Young players playing tune, idle in club up north (9,6)
NEWCASTLE UNITED Recently made (young), a group of players and an anagram (playing) of TUNE IDLE IN

27a    Bluer tail of grass snake (6)
SADDER The ‘tail’ of grasS and a type of snake

28a    Pan town near Manchester right away (8)
STOCKPOT Remove the abbreviation for Right (right away) from a town near Manchester


1d    Move involuntarily in tango with enchanting female (6)
TWITCH The letter represented by Tango in the NATO Phonetic Alphabet and an enchanting female

2d    After attempt, 19th-century novelist’s succeeded in Jane Eyre? (9)
GOVERNESS Jane Eyre is a fictional example of a woman entrusted with the care and education of children. Start with an attempt, add a French 19th Century novelist and an S (novelist’s) followed by the abbreviation for Succeeded

3d    Dress in bloomers, perhaps, or pants so often (7)
FESTOON Decorate (dress) with a garland of flowers (bloomers) – an anagram (pants) of SO OFTEN

4d    Management requiring a million invested in boom? (5)
ADMIN A (from the clue) and the abbreviation for Million inserted (invested) in a loud noise (boom)

6d    Recover from drinking alcohol half-heartedly during liquid lunch (5,2)
SOBER UP A type of alcohol without one of the middle letters (half-heartedly) inserted into a liquid you might eat for lunch

7d    African languages disallow Senegalese translation of “thou” (5)
BANTU A verb meaning to disallow and a Senegalese ‘translation’ of thou, French being the official language of Senegal

8d    Lie with sore back in lounge, needing treatment and tea (5,3)
ROSIE LEE Cockney rhyming slang for tea – an anagram (needing treatment) of LIE with SORE and the ‘back’ in lounge

9d    American backer of drama and opera company (8)
ANGELENO I hadn’t heard of this American for a long time until it appeared in a recent cryptic crossword and here he is again! A financer of theatrical ventures (backer of drama) and an abbreviated opera company

14d    Judge erroneously scoffed a lot, imprisoning Republican (8)
OVERRATE A more formal way of saying ‘scoffed a lot’ imprisoning the abbreviation for Republican

16d    Once living with cats and dogs possibly brought up in March (9)
QUICKSTEP An archaic and/or biblical (once) word meaning living with a reversal (brought up) of what domestic cats and dogs may possibly be

17d    American word for the end of the line (8)
TERMINUS A way of writing [a] word IN American

19d    Conclusion reached on board — school of whales is in terrible need (7)
ENDGAME A school of whales inserted into an anagram (terrible) of NEED

21d    Like the main cocaine supply (7)
OCEANIC The main here being a reference to a large body of water – an anagram (supply) of COCAINE

22d    Believe our leader before current uprising (6)
CREDIT The regnal cipher of our current King (leader) goes before a reversal (uprising) of a current

24d    Footloose and fancy-free in France one day (5)
UNWED The French word for one and an abbreviated day of the week

25d    Some favourable attention for kid’s utterance? (5)
BLEAT Hidden in the second and third words of the clue


20 comments on “Toughie 3170
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  1. A top-notch puzzle definitely at the gentler end of this setter’s midweek Toughie spectrum but still a very enjoyable battle indeed.
    I wondered if there was anything more to 7d as it seemed uncharacteristically weak. As ever though with this setter I have a plethora of podium contenders but I’ll limit myself to 10,1213&25a (lol) plus 3&8d.
    Many thanks to Robyn and Sue.

  2. This was nicely challenging without being too difficult and a lot of fun.

    9d was a new word for me. I pieced together the two pieces of lego but was unconvinced by what I arrived at until I looked it up in BRB.

    23d elicited a loud hmm. I assume that “south” is the ghastly Americanism for “under” (which doesn’t even appear at all in the BRB as either UK or American English!) That apart, this was a joy to solve with 10d my favourite of many excellent clues.

    Many thanks to Robyn and CS.

  3. I had to think about 9d, and 16d (once living), but apart from those two, it was all quite straightforward.
    I wondered what was cryptic about 17d, so once the penny dropped I thought it was pretty good.
    Thanks to Robyn and to CS.

  4. Lovely gentle Toughie from Robyn – I gave up ticking clues quite early on as almost every clue earned one. Not entirely convinced that boom and the noise in 4d are synonymous, but that’s a very minor quibble. 23a made me smile – not because it was likely to irk RD but because it’s the name of a prominent local family business. Until reading RD’s comment I had thought 9d was becoming something of an old friend – unless I’m conflating the DT & Times, I’m sure we’ve had it in the last week, and certainly twice in the last few months.

    2* / 4*

    Many thanks indeed to Robyn and to Sue

  5. This was so much fun – more like this please, Robyn!
    Started laughing with the powerful Yanks and was fit to bust by the time I reached the pans.
    It would be invidious to name any favourites so I won’t – I’ll just say many thanks to Robyn and to CS for the review.

  6. A superb puzzle with no dud clues to be seen – thanks to Robyn and CS.
    I have masses of ticks – I’ll list just the first four in my list: 1a, 10a, 12a and 13a.

  7. OK the bottom half was 1* but the top at least 2.5 for me, thus saving the best [1a and 12a] for nearly the last. 17d also deserves a mention.
    Thanks to Robyn and CS.

  8. I found this fairly gentle but with some innovative clueing that kept the interest going throughout the solving process. Tough to pick a favourite from such a great grid, but 12a is my winner.

    My thanks to Robyn and CS.

  9. As usual I needed the hints to parse a couple, 7d and 16d and some new words for me in 9d, the first word in 16d and the school of whales in 19d, every day’s a school day, pun intended. I did a fair bit of head scratching but once the penny dropped I couldn’t see why. Favourite was 1a but 10a ran out very close indeed. Thanks to Robyn and CS.

  10. 9d and 13a contrived to extend our solving time considerably but we did eventually get them both sorted.
    Good fun as ever from this setter.
    Thanks Robyn and CS.

  11. I was slow to get going here, but soon everything clicked into place with 9d in last.

    Favourite clues were 17d and 28a.

    Thanks to Robyn and CS.

  12. How is it that the printing machines at the Telegraph or their operatives always seem to put a crease straight through the Toughie? Surely they can set the tension correct on these presses? Now to attempt to decipher the down clues through which the crease runs. :-)

  13. I think that at last I’m starting to understand Robyn’s way of clueing. I only needed to peep at two answers today – 9d, which was new to me and 2d – I’m not that well versed in CB novels. Loved 1a, 28a and 6d. Enjoyed the solve and now for an old Repair Shop episode. Thanks to Robyn and CS

  14. Enjoyed this. Couldn’t solve 3 clues but still pleased to have done as well, even for an easy toughie.

    Not getting on with the backpager turned out to be a blessing in disguise.

  15. I’m getting better, only 10 days to finish this rather clever puzzle. That said, I just cannot understand the hint for 20a. “Online”, “publication…”

    Help, please!

    1. The publication is a COMIC around a synonym of working ON preceded by the prefix for all things online Email, Ecommerce Etc E(C[ON]OMIC) trying to save unnecessary expense

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