Toughie No 99 by Elgar
An excellent, challenging puzzle
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BD Rating – Difficulty ***** – Enjoyment *****
This puzzle has 5 stars for both difficulty and enjoyment. I knew soon after starting that it was going to be a struggle, but as I opened up each clue, I began to enjoy the contest. I will be interested to know what Dr B, my American friend, makes of this one as some of the clues have a uniquely British flavour. As usual, the links provide additional content which is usually useful, occassionally totally frivolous.
1a Music for which it’s fine to clothe lecturer in female garb (4,4)
OK (it’s fine) around (to clothe) L (lecturer) all inside (in) a woman’s dress (female garb) giving a style of music
5a Those producing the lines cast Sid Owen in returning features (6)
Reversed (returning) and hidden (features) in the clue, giving an old-fashioned word for poets (those producing the lines) – Sid Owen plays Ricky Butcher in Eastenders, and has absolutely nothing to do with this clue!
9a All-consuming reason to book dress circle? Not at first (6,2)
This is a pun on where the dress circle is in a theatre, less the first letter (not at first) giving an all-consuming reason
10a & 13a Model busy alone at this establishment? (6,5)
A very neat anagram (model) of BUSY ALONE AT, giving an establishment which offers hairdressing, manicuring, face-massaging and other treatments
12a Needlewoman having standing on both sides of the pond (9)
Her obelisk is to be found on the Victoria Embankment in London and in Central Park in New York (that bit is especially for you, Dr B!)
14a & 16a One heckling opener faced Marley here? (4,7)
DOOR (opener) KNOCKER (one heckling) gives where Scrooge saw the face of
19a & 21a The condition deciding Demented Davis vs Paranoid Parrott? (5,2,4)
Steve Davis and John Parrott are well known snooker players, and the first word is the name for one part of a match between them, the whole describes a mental or emotional attitude (condition)
24a & 27a Nasty, nasty authors cut through weed (5,1,5)
A bit risqué for the Telegraph! – it’s an anagram (nasty) of NASTY around PEN and PEN (authors) giving a phrase meaning having weed (or perhaps wee-weed!)
25a It’s annoying to have retrospectively admitted deliberate introduction (9)
IRKING (annoying) around (admitted) OWN (to have) reversed (retrospectively)
28a Relentlessly continued to work to leg at Lord’s? (6,2)
GROUND (Lord’s is a famous cricket ground) ON (in cricket the leg side is also known as the on side) giving a synonym for “relentlessly continued to work”
29a To engage, attend to reassembling parts (6)
ENLIST (to engage) – LISTEN (attend to) with the EN moved to the front (reassembling parts)
30a The way it was, I anticipated a loss of strength (8).
AS THEN (the way it was) then I before (anticipated) A giving a synonym for loss of strength
1d & 2d Further issues might arise if this billet were not to be occupied (6,6)
Did I say 24 across was risqué? Well here we go again – billet is the FRENCH for LETTER (or short note, as in billet-doux – a love letter), giving another name for a condom (and no, I’m not going to provide a link for this answer!)
3d Quickly make approach (cut a dash!) (3,2)
RUN UP (quickly) as opposed to RUN-UP (make approach) without the “-” (cut a dash)
4d & 20d Stub first of cigars out? Left on fire, unfortunately (7,4)
C( first of Cigars) followed by a very nifty anagram (unfortunately) of OUT L(eft) ON FIRE giving the kind of stub that is left in your chequebook (that’s checkbook for Dr B!) – this is more usually one word rather than two
6d Tear off a strip to be informal? (5,4)
A double definition – berate (tear off a strip); wear casual clothes, particularly to work (to be informal)
7d Innovative layout of visual OK on Greek menu? (8).
An anagram (innovative layout) of VISUALOK giving a Greek dish
8d It’s that old artist suppressing a goodbye to the East (8).
I struggled with the wordplay here – between Libellule & Gazza we now have SA (sex appeal / It – how did I miss that – Clara Bow was the original It Girl!) YON (yonder / that, old) RA (artist) around (suppressing) A giving a word meaning goodbye in Japanese (the East)
11d & 21d Autobiography subtitled How I got lost in the Sahara? You heard it here first (4,2,5)
This could be the story of how Mrs Thatcher’s son got lost, but it does mean “you heard it here first”
15d Extra subtlety evident with those in singles bar? (9)
OVERT (evident) and ONES (those in singles bar) giving a synonym for extra subtlety
17d Behind the scenes this is what damages staff ego (3-5)
Wow – an easy one!! – an anagram (what damages) of STAFF EGO
18d Needed to quash a rebel leader, you may see me occupying northern forests (8).
Cunningly hidden in the clue, this flower is also known as the Scottish bluebell
22d & 23d It’s not obvious to shareholders in Haagen-Dazs meeting (6,6)
This is HIDDEN in the clue!!
26d Edges on hazard after drive? (5)
Another really satisfying double definition – having the edges still on; where the average golfer’s ball finishes up after a drive
I found writing this up to be a labour of love, despite my failure with the wordplay for 8 down. I hope you all enjoy it as much as I did. Puzzles like this only happen occassionally, perhaps this one should have been published next Tuesday, as Toughie 100.
8 comments on “Toughie No 99”
Dave, agreed one of the best Toughies for a long time, and worthy of the name.
Dave, don’t you mean “British flavor?” No?
Gee, unless you count 12a, 19a, 24a, 28a*, 1d**, 4d, 11d, and (if I have it right) 18d, I didn’t pick up on any UK-isms at all. At least I can now count myself among the 0.0001% of Americans who know the name of a certain former PM’s child.
5 stars all around!
*to be fair, I’ve been working cryptics long enough to get most of the cricket references.
**and speaking of risque…
If you thought 24a and27a a little risque wait till you do 1d and 2d. All the best Big D.
I do actually finish each puzzle before writing any of it up – just in case you thought I was clever enough to do all the across clues first!!
Does anyone know if Elgar is yet another alias for John Henderson, also known as Enigmatist, Nimrod and Io? Maybe Elgar himself could enlighten us!
8d. Dave, I think the explanation you’ve put in was from lillebule not me, and it has two “y”s.
I now think the initial SA stands for sex appeal (“it”) and is followed by YON (that old) and RA around (suppressing) A.
Thanks Gazza – it’s now updated. I can’t believe I missed the IT -> SA bit!!
Dave: Elgar is indeed John Henderson. (Not a major player in internet xwd chat, though I did once get him to write up a Times puzzle for my blog.)
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