Toughie 3174 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 3174

Toughie No 3174 by Stick Insect

Hints and Tips by crypticsue

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

Stick Insect set our Wednesday Toughie – this one had a fair few ‘less common’ definitions in the wordplay, for example in 8d

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1a    Music player model for white van man, perhaps (10)
STEREOTYPE A music player and a model or kind

6a    Trapped by responsibility, backing flier (4)
IBIS Hidden (trapped by) in reverse (backing) in responSIBIlity

9a    Bill starts in House of Commons for a special reason (2,3)
AD HOC An abbreviated advertisement (bill) and the ‘starts’ in House Of Commons

10a    Nice aroma when stirring drink (9)
AMERICANO An anagram (when stirring) of NICE AROMA

12a    Name is best, Pia restated (7)
BAPTISE An anagram (restated) of BEST PIA

13a    Difficult second argument (5)
STIFF The abbreviation for Second and a slight argument

15a    Headless, quick trip up? (7)
ASTRIDE Up as in that frequently asked question ‘why does up mean on horseback?’ Remove the first letter (headless) from a synonym for quick and follow with a trip

16a    Somewhat low following space mission (7)
EMBASSY An adjective meaning somewhat low (musically) follows a printer’s space equal to the width of a letter M

18a    Homer’s boy receives a title (7)
BARONET Not the Greek Homer but the yellow American cartoon character. The son of Homer ‘receives’ a synonym for a

20a    It is bird island (7)
MARTINI The alcoholic ‘it’ – a bird and the abbreviation for Island

21a    Nick, old boy and VIP (5)
NABOB Seize or arrest (nick) and the abbreviation for Old Boy

23a    Ignored mobile is working again (7)
REDOING An anagram (mobile) of IGNORED

25a    Couple changed in steam baths, smuggling in mushroom pots (9)
SAUCEPANS Take some steam baths and change the position of the two letters in fourth and fifth place and then ‘smuggle in’ an edible mushroom

26a    American contest is concerning (5)
ABOUT The abbreviation for American and a contest

27a    Finally, did a quiet run (4)
DASH The final letter of diD, A (from the clue) and an instruction to be quiet

28a    Moody perhaps having first heard parrot take notice of figure (10)
POLYHEDRON The abbreviated forename of Mr Moody the actor goes after (having first) homophones of a common name for a parrot and a verb meaning to take notice of


1d    Hitch small horse (4)
SNAG The abbreviation for Small and a horse

2d    One displaying their box is not entirely eccentric (9)
EXHIBITOR An anagram (eccentric) of THEIR BOX Is (not entirely telling you to omit the S)

3d    Book in unusual English is distasteful (13)
EXCEPTIONABLE The abbreviation for Book inserted into an adjective meaning unusual in a good sense, the result followed with the abbreviation for English

4d    Early evening, when golfer starts, we hear (7)
TEATIME A homophone (we hear) of when a golfer is told he should start his round

5d    Quietly withdraw lead (7)
PRECEDE The musical abbreviation/instruction to play quietly and a verb meaning to withdraw

7d    Indian food pilgrimage covers key part of balti (5)
BHAJI The annual Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca ‘covers’ or replaces the computer key found in balti

8d    Tricky to take a punt and spoil diner’s dish (7,3)
SHOOFLY PIE A verb meaning to kick (punt) inserted into (to take) a synonym for tricky (cunning, wily) followed by an informal word meaning to spoil

11d    Mutinous aboard U-boat, possibly with rationed supply (13)
INSUBORDINATE A way of saying about U-boat (2,3) followed by an anagram (supply) of RATIONED

14d    Concerned over good French I’s getting converted to C (10)
CARBONISED A synonym for concerned goes ‘over’ the French word for good and IS (from the clue)

17d    Rood may be reached via this entrance (5,4)
SWING DOOR A synonym for turn round is the instruction as to what to do with ROOD to ‘reach’ a type of entrance

19d    Twister in a party comes after dithering (7)
TORNADO A (from the clue) and a party come after a synonym for dithering

20d    Reserve fashions; Tory’s lost otherwise (7)
MODESTY Some fashions and TorY without the OR (lost otherwise)

22d    Butterfliesmelancholy music (5)
BLUES Some butterflies or some melancholy music

24d    Bruise butts when cycling (4)
STUN Cycle the last letter of some large casks (butts) to the front of the word

18 comments on “Toughie 3174
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  1. What a pity to spoil an otherwise pleasant puzzle with a dreadful clue like 8d.

    Even with all the checking letters in place and guessing that the second word might be “pie”, I still could not begin to guess what the first word might be. The wordplay was of no help involving what turned out to be two slang synonyms, so I resorted to a crossword solver. This suggested that the first word might be either a child’s toy or an undercover police officer!! Finally I looked up that word word in the BRB to discover that the two-word answer is the name of an American dessert! At that point I lost the will to live … 😢

    P.S. I particularly liked 20a, 26a & 7d.

  2. A pleasant puzzle – thanks to Stick Insect and CS.
    I’ve never heard of the 8d dish which is American and is sometimes spelt 4-3,3 (maybe due to having to chase insects away from its sweet filling).
    Top clues for me were 1a and 17d.

  3. I came for help with 8d (and received it thanks, Sue, I’m wondering how you fared with it) but have made a statement by leaving it blank 😁. That aside, a slow and steady solve for me. Didn’t know 9a had that meaning. Groaned loudly at 26a and that one is my fave. Thanks to Mr Insect.

    1. Not only did I know 8d but several years ago I did look at recipes for it in case I felt like making it, which I haven’t so far

      A guest on Nadia Hussain’s recent Spices series made an 8d on the 1st November episode

  4. Mainly enjoyable but wasn’t keen on the “couple changed” aspect of 25a, I’m not sure what the “box” is referring to in 2d (though I can see the mechanics of the clue) and the obscure 8d could have been more sympathetically clued…pie/spoil? It’s buried deep in the BRB but I should imagine it hasn’t seen the light of day for years.
    Top clues for me were 1a plus 5,17& the innovative 14d.
    Many thanks to Stick Insect and Sue.

  5. 8d was my sticking point. I did get the answer from the checkers and the fact that I knew the American dessert but the parsing was a different story. Finally nailed the first one by thinking of our erstwhile commenter Hoofit but ‘pie’ defeated me – and I had to hunt for it in the BRB. Top billing goes to 1&20a plus 4d but I can’t say this was one of my favourite puzzles.

    Thanks nevertheless to Stick Insect for the puzzle and to CS for the review.

  6. I remembered the pie only because pandowdy once cropped up in a Campbell puzzle in the days when there was a bonus online one on Monday (much missed) & I think it was Robert who recalled the Dinah Shore song that I then founded myself humming endlessly for days after. Campbell used to throw in the occasional obscurity into the bonus puzzles & they were later referred to as today’s pandowdy. Could make head nor tail of the wordplay mind – ought to have pegged the context of punt but wouldn’t have got that of pie. The Zac Brown Band also has a song of that name.

  7. Fast out the stalls, good progress early stages, one paced mid section but came under pressure in the closing stages so a wee bit harder than a * difficulty rating for this nag. Not entirely confident I’d have been able to correctly define 3d without the help of the clue & didn’t peg the couple changed bit of 25a despite having the two elements. Very enjoyable with 7d my fav from a number of ticks
    Thanks to SI & to CS

  8. 8d and 25a were my undoing too in this otherwise pleasant Toughie. I don’t like having to guess at answers, and dislike even less when I cannot reverse engineer them.

    Thanks to Stick Insect and Sue.

  9. Most of this was fairly straightforward, but I did struggle with some of the puzzle.
    Re 25a which was my last in, steam baths and saunas are most certainly not synonymous. I regularly partake in both; one is wet heat and the other is dry heat.
    Thanks to SI and CS.

  10. All complete but add me to the “grumbling about 8d”, especially the pie bit.

    On a brighter note 1a, 25a and 17d all got a tick from me.

    Thanks to Stick Insect and CS.

  11. I too had to resort to Chambers to confirm the last word of 8d. Must disagree with SetphenL about 25a – I thought couple changed was rather neat and fit the surface very well. I also liked “covers key part” in 7d. I had 3d early on but couldn’t parse it as I was convinced that “book” was “nab”. Took far too long to suss 20a too.
    Thanks to SI and to CS.

  12. A reasonable Wednesday Toughie which I managed to complete, even though I couldn’t parse some. I hadn’t come across that meaning for 9A. The wordplay for 8D worked for the first word, so the second had to be Pie, but I was unable to parse it. Pie for Spoil baffled me. 25A had to be that answer but the couple changed foxed me.
    I liked 20A and my favourite was 17D.
    Thanks to CS for the enlightenment and Stick Insect for the challenge.

  13. We took a long time and needed all the checkers before we got 3d sorted. Most of the rest went much more easily giving us an enjoyable solve.
    Thanks Stick Insect and CS.

  14. An enjoyable puzzle, marred by two poor clues. I eventually recalled the pie but felt it unfair to clue the obscure so obscurely. The instruction to make two random changes to the target word in 25a was very unsporting. Highlights for me were the wonderful 18a and 28a.

    Many thanks to Stick Insect and Sue.

  15. Finished this about 5 hours ago but got interrupted before I had chance to comment. I didn’t like 8d on any level and needed the hint to parse 17d. Does 12a mean name? It’s so long since I’ve been to one of those things but I don’t remember any names being mentioned, maybe I wasn’t paying attention. I had the same reservations about 25a as others. Favourite was 21a. Thanks to Stick Insect and CS

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