Toughie 3285 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 3285

Toughie No 3285 by Chalicea
Hints and tips by ALP

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

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

A warm welcome back to Chalicea who’s been remarkably sparing with her magic dictionary today. She has, in fact, been typically kind. Good, honest entertainment and – as ever – plenty of smiles. All yours.


4a All others fall: hold back! (8)
RESTRAIN: all/the others + fall (from the sky).

8a One bird American put back in golden eagle genus (6)
AQUILA: How one might write one bird as (1,5) with its A[merican] put (to the) back.

9a Negotiated cut around line (8)
PARLEYED: Past tense of cut (as per vegetables) goes around the line that’s (3) not the usual (1). I now realise I’ve been spelling this word wrong for years. And I really should have known better as it’s very obviously from the French. Doh.

10a Going between flyers providing publicity ahead of a trio playing (3-2-3)
AIR-TO-AIR: publicity (via TV, etc) + ATRIO, playing. Providing’s just a conjunction here.

11a They agree part unfortunately missing from arranged repayments (3-3)
YES-MEN: Remove PART, unfortunately, from REPAYMENTS, arranged. Basically, just anagram the six letters you’ve got left.

12a Dissidents present idiosyncratic behavioural features (8)
HERETICS: Present/in attendance + the usual idiosyncratic features, ie jerks.

13a Old material of base gibe, a hollow gaucherie (8)
EQUIPAGE: The mathematical base + (short and clever) gibe + A G[aucheri]E. I do rather think this should be defined as materials, not material, as the former does mean “kit needed for a task or activity” which the answer is an old/archaic word for. Material as “that which may be made use of for any purpose” just seems a tad loose. And I’m sorry, but what on earth does “a hollow gaucherie” mean? Harrumph!

16a Brown loaf or cob? (8)
HAZELNUT: A brown colour (hair/eyes, etc) + the usual loaf that’s not bread.

19a Do away with a barrier involving sibling (8)
ABROGATE: A + the barrier that’s not a door or a fence, etc, involves/contains the usual abbreviated sibling that’s not “sis”.

21a Make new sketch of Turn of the Screw (6)
REDRAW: Turn (prison) screw.

23a Obligated, certainly but empty inside (8)
INDEBTED: Certainly/sure, with B[u]T inside/inserted.

24a Former Balkan vessel returning, Victor too (8)
JUGOSLAV: (water?) vessel + V[ictor] too/and, reversed/returning. I rather liked this but I do find the spelling (though totally acceptable) a tad odd. But it’s in there, presumably, to enable the pangram. Ordinarily, I’d have just bunged this without parsing … and got it wrong!

25a One who steals a pound (6)
NICKER: Double definition.

26a Perhaps Tom hasn’t succeeded in pursuit of dishy creature (8)
PLATYPUS: The usual tom minus (one) S[ucceeded] goes after/pursues a synonym for dishy, as in like a dish. A word that’s new to me and I love it. This really should lead into a suitably bleeped-out Green Day tune but … I bottled it!


1d Clearly excited with archer’s first arrow case (7)
AQUIVER: A[rcher] + arrow case.

2d Film slyest lover regularly viewed as an excuse for a kiss? (9)
MISTLETOE: Film/layer + sLyEsTlOvEr

3d Used to be a means of writing by hand, ignoring the onset of copy and paste (6)
WASABI: How one might write “used to be” + “a means of writing by hand” as (3,1,3) minus its C[opy]. You’re looking for a Japanese root better known as a paste.

4d Agents of a vet’s enterprise at sixes and sevens (15)

5d Atomizer: special science fiction weapon (5,3)
SPRAY GUN: The abbreviation for “special” + the sci-fi weapon that’s not a light sabre. Fun this.

6d Female ruff borne on the wings of finches in shoals (5)
REEFS: Female ruff – as (3) not the more common (5) – plus F[inche]S.

7d One church composer who shows no emotion? (7)
ICEBERG: The usual one + the usual church + the Austrian composer so popular with setters. His operas were, to my ears, execrable but at least his heart was in the right place!

14d Way of carrying greedy football player? (9)
PIGGYBACK: Greedy + a (defensive) player of football, for example.

15d Mini avalanche of Coke and lager knocked over (8)
SNOWSLIP: The coke that’s never drunk (I don’t believe!) + a type of strong lager, reversed/knocked over.

17d Like one-time partner, unable to occasionally go without it (7)
ASEXUAL: Synonyms for “like” and “one-time partner” + UNABLE, with its letters occasionally going/deleted. This made me smile but I don’t really know why – sounds terrible!

18d Absolute head of newspaper getting used to Express (7)
UTTERED: Absolute/total + the usual newspaper head.

20d Maybe rat‘s lair amid decayed matter (6)
RODENT: Lair/hole amid/inside the usual decayed matter.

22d Marsupials must finally settle for the night (5)
ROOST: The usual marsupials + musT, finally.

Fun and frothy. Nothing to grumble about here, aside from (arguably) 13a. I especially liked 21a, 26a and 14d but 17d gets my vote. What did you make of it?

14 comments on “Toughie 3285
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  1. I found this pangram less fluffy than usual for this setter, which led to my BRB working overtime to check various words and synonyms along the way. However, I did enjoy it a lot although I do agree with ALP about the surface of 13a.

    Many thanks to Chalicea and to ALP.

  2. Good start to the toughie week – quick and fun. Smiled at 21a and 26a, chuckled at 17d.
    Thanks to Chalicea and ALP [loved the Reef tune, previously unknown, must get out more].

  3. Thanks for the work everyone. I don’t normally try the toughie but gave it a go today and got most of the way. Had to come here for help with wasabi and mistletoe. I might have got both with a little more patience but hints above were a big help.

    16a was my favourite

  4. Nice to see Chalicea back to start the Toughie week with another enjoyable puzzle, which I found a lot less fluffy than usual. 2D,1D,25A and 17D did make me wonder if she had headless 17D things in mind. (Sorry Chalicea, just my overactive imagination) So they have to be my favourites for the fun they gave me.
    Many thanks to ALP and of course to Chalicea.

  5. Most enjoyable, with Chalicea in a benevolent mood, to whom many thanks – and likewise the Rugged Mountain.

  6. A few of head scratchers most notably 10a, 13a and 6d, but being a pangram helped. A bit of GK also needed. Not as friendly as usual but quite doable. Favourite was 5d. Thanks to Chalicea and ALP.

  7. Many thanks, ALP – apologies for the ‘tad loosenes’ of 13a. Your illustration for 17d was my smile of the day. It’s always a pleasure to have happy solvers. Thanks to you too.

    1. Huge thanks for popping in Chalicea. I feel a right heel now for grumbling about 13a! Everyone, quite rightly, loved your puzzle. Twas ever thus.

  8. Completely missed the pangram caused by a misspelling of the Balkan but a glance at the hints put me right
    Thanks to ALP and Chalicea

    1. You weren’t alone there – instinctively went for the Y & only realised it wouldn’t parse when I went looking for the J

  9. Harder than a single * rating for me but still very accessible. Read our reviewer’s comment on 24a with a smile – it’s what I did & then realised later on. Very enjoyable & with ✅s aplenty. Another vote for 17d as pick of ‘em & to ALP’s selection I’d add 3&15d.
    Thanks to Chalicea & to ALP

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