Toughie 3286 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 3286

Toughie No 3286 by Robyn
Hints and Tips by crypticsue
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BD Rating – Toughie Difficulty *Enjoyment *****

Always a joy to solve and blog a Robyn Toughie, even though this was , for me anyway, a long way from being a toughie. This most enjoyable crossword included some fine examples of misleading capital letters.

Please leave a comment telling us what you thought


1a Drug game one’s seen on social media (7)
HASHTAG A slang name for a particular drug and a children’s playground game

5a About to abandon struggling President Grant (7)
STIPEND The usual ‘about’ or on the subject of ‘abandons’ an anagram (struggling) of PreSIDENT to produce a grant or allowance – the first of several misleading capitals in these clues

9a Basic error from defender perhaps wrapped in British flag (3,8)
BOG STANDARD An abbreviated error from a defender or other footballer ‘wrapped’ in the abbreviation for British and a flag

10a Call little Rose, say, to come back (3)
DUB To confer a name on (call) – a reversal of a not yet opened flower (little rose say)

11a Rejected appeal? How awful for all players! (5)
TUTTI A reversal (rejected) of some sexual appeal and an interjection of rebuke or mild disapprobation (how awful)

13a We’re told bows are for beautiful objects in the Louvre? (5,4)
BEAUX ARTS If you said this originally French expression for beautiful objects out loud (we’re told) it should sound like ‘bows are’

14a Medicine can heal, keeping temperature in check (8)
TINCTURE A can and a verb meaning to heal, the latter ‘keeping’ the abbreviation for temperature

16a Like wine, opening couple of Viogniers we obtained from France (6)
VINOUS The first couple of VIogniers (a type of French white grape) and the French word for ‘we’

18a Drunken villains putting away one litre – they get hammered (6)
ANVILS An anagram (drunken) of VILlains without the Roman numeral for one and one of the abbreviations for Litre

19a Cynic passes on consuming melon (8)
DIOGENES A synonym for passes on ‘consuming’ a type of melon

22a Garlic fried with oil generates a little smoke (9)
CIGARILLO An anagram (fried) of GARLIC with OIL

23a Expensive accessory has part that’s wrong (5)
ROLEX A part in a play perhaps and the letter your teacher would use to indicate that your sum was wrong

25a Area bordered by dry ink marking (3)
TAT The abbreviation for Area ‘bordered’ by the abbreviated way of referring to someone dry or abstinent

26a Democrat‘s jibe, dismissing Republican with zero degrees (6,5)
BARACK OBAMA A verb meaning to scoff or deride without (dismissing) the abbreviation for Republican followed by the way we’d write zero and two university degrees

28a Like some luggage in comic film series (5,2)
CARRY ON Like luggage that you take on the plane, rather than put in the hold; a well-known comic film series

29a Realise Parisian is sober (7)
EARNEST Acquire or realise and the French (as used in Paris) word for is


1d That oddball keeps rating setter for setting (7)
HABITAT An anagram (oddball) of THAT ‘keeps’ an abbreviated sailor (rating) and how Robyn might refer to himself

2d Sense indication I’m fed up and tense (5)
SIGHT An audible indication of boredom or dejection and the abbreviation for Tense

3d Child that’s unaffected when upset? (3)
TOT This young child would be ‘unaffected when upset’ as it is a palindrome

4d Poet‘s drinks with lots of ice (8)
GINSBERG Some alcoholic drinks and a very large piece of ice combine to give us the name of an American poet and writer

5d Jack handles climbs round peak of Alps (6)
SEAMAN Handles is a slang word for ‘that by which a person or thing is known’ – the more formal word should be reversed (climbs in a Down solution) and put round the ‘peak’ of Alps

6d Information list, better including good pointer (5-6)
INDEX FINGER An information list, found at the beginning or end of a book perhaps, and a synonym for better ‘including’ the abbreviation for Good

7d Cover festival with Queen and Blue (9)
EIDERDOWN A Muslim festival, the regnal cipher of our late Queen and a synonym for blue when used informally to mean depressed

8d Makes mean answer, occasionally boring socialites (7)
DEBASES The occasional letters of AnSwEr ‘boring’ some abbreviated female socialites

12d Foreign article penned by Tony Blair, translated dreadfully (11)
INTOLERABLY A French masculine definite article ‘penned’ by an anagram (translated) of TONY BLAIR

15d New pilot carrying piece of luggage after BA fired crew member (9)
NAVIGATOR The abbreviation for New and a pilot, the latter ‘carrying’ a piece of luggage once you have removed (fired) the letters BA

17d Ex-partner in seedy bar embracing ugly brute with energy (8)
DIVORCEE A slang name for a disreputable (seedy) bar ‘embracing’ a Tolkien ogre (ugly brute) and the abbreviation for Energy

18d One who won’t indulge in acid, according to some (7)
ASCETIC A homophone (according to some) of a type of acid

20d 15’s instrument not destroyed after onset of storm (7)
SEXTANT Still existing (not destroyed) goes after the ‘onset’ of Storm

21d Spaceman Buzz Lightyear’s head stuck in drain, unfortunately (6)
ALDRIN The ‘head’ of Lightyear stuck in an anagram (unfortunately) of DRAIN.   The Toy Story character was given his name in honour of the spaceman

24d Grassland over ditches outside desert (5)
LEAVE A meadow (grassland) and the inside (ditches outside) letters of oVEr

27d The Telegraph’s leader dismissed by Time (3)
OUR Dismiss or remove the first letter (leader) of a period of time

15 comments on “Toughie 3286
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  1. Absolutely loved this. Smiles and penny drop moments all the way through. Visit again soon Robyn. Thanks to Robyn and CS

  2. A noticeable increase in toughness over yesterday for me – certainly more than 1*. I got stuck in the NW corner and had to go all the way round. 11a was my last in and gets the day’s award. Other good uns were 26a,7d and 27d.
    Thanks to Robyn and CS.

  3. I found parts of this really tough, but it was well worth the effort with some very clever clueing and smooth surfaces to enjoy.

    We had one good homophone (13a) and one appalling one (18d).

    Unless I need a visit to Specsavers, the BRB doesn’t show that “ink marking” defines the answer to 25a. It does give “tat” as a abbreviation for “tattoo” but only when the meaning is a specific type of pony and not when referring dying of the skin.

    With plenty of ticks on my page, 1a, 26a and 7d were my top picks.

    Many thanks to Robyn for the fun and CS for the review.

    1. I think you’ll find that the ink marking is one of those words you don’t like appearing in a British crossword

  4. Tip-top, as ever, from Robyn. Tiny question though … shouldn’t 5a’s “about” ideally abandon before the president struggles, not after? Not a problem at all as it was patently clear what was needed. And I suppose if one inserts an invisible comma after the abandon, it’s fine. Yes, that’s probably it! Certainly on his gentler side – no tougher than today’s back-pager. Some cracking shorties, too. It may be a tad arch, but 27d made me smile. Ta lots to Robyn and CS.

  5. Highly enjoyable – thanks to Robyn and CS.
    The villians in 18a need to lose two letters to satisfy the enumeration.
    The highlights for me were 9a, 13a, 23a, 7d and 21d.

  6. I found this easier to solve than the backpager, but it was still a lot of fun and rewarding too. The clues were nicely put together, and the whole thing flowed in a very satisfactory way. 21d was my favourite.

    Thanks to Robyn for the challenge, and to Sue.

  7. So much more enjoyable for me than the back-pager, just 24&27d that taxed the old grey matter somewhat! Top awards went to 23&26a plus 7&21d.

    Thanks to Robyn and to CS for the review.

  8. I found this tougher than * but a satisfying solve. I too was held up by the NW corner because of the difficulty parsing my answers. Lots of ticks but podium goes to 26A.
    Many thanks to CS and Robyn.

  9. At one stage, with the RHS completed, I thought this might be a ProXimal production (two Xs) but no more Xs appeared. Super puzzle which at first glance threatened to be more of a challenge than proved to be the case. I can see that several comments express their approval of 27d but it didn’t quite work for me – “leader dismissed by Time” feels like an odd way of instructing the removal of H, unless I’m missing something. It’s a shame the excellent clue for 26 was so similar to and followed so soon after Obama’s appearance in Monday’s back page. My podium comprises 13a, 16a and 17d, but with so many brilliant surfaces and great clues it’s difficult to pick out only the three.

    Many thanks to Robyn & Sue

  10. Found this a lot tougher than * but very enjoyable with some great penny drop moments! Favourites were 26A, 7D and, my COTD, 5A. Thanks to setter

  11. A really excellent puzzle, thanks Robyn! I found it much easier and more enjoyable than the back-pager.
    Thanks too to Cryptic Sue.

  12. Found this much harder than our reviewer did (no change there) but concur with her enjoyment rating. Another super puzzle with ticks in abundance – 1,9,14&26a along with 4,6,15&21d. The crew member nabs top spot.
    Thanks to Robyn & to Sue

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