Toughie No 106 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie No 106

Toughie No 106 by Elgar

A difficult but enjoyable puzzle

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

A difficult puzzle, with a phrase that spreads over three clues.  This was made even more difficult online as the order of the second and third clues was not immediately obvious.  I think the best way to tackle this particular puzzle is to complete the centre block of 6 clues and then work outwards from there, although 1 across and 2 down give a good foothold into the top part.

Don’t forget that the answers are revealed by highlighting the space between the curly brackets!


1a Preferring not to be put in the picture (6-3)
{CAMERA-SHY} – a satisfying, but not too difficult cryptic definition to get started – not wishing to have your photograph taken

8a True indications Winchester will play Harrow and Eton Charterhouse? (3,6,4)
{OLD SCHOOL TIES} – a very clever cryptic definition alluding to games played between these institutions

11a Number in outfit for party where one is assured of a friendly reception? (5)
{TONGA} – N(umber) inside a Roman style outfit that might be worn to a modern day party giving the Kingdom known as the Friendly Islands

12a Foremost of producers has desire to settle cast (5)
(PITCH} – P (the foremost letter of producers) followed by the kind of desire that can make you scratch giving a synonym for cast, as in a game in which coins are tossed at a mark

13a The animal that emerges from monopoly players (5)
{POLYP} – this is an organism which is animal as opposed to plant and it’s hidden in the last two words

16a Fur is whose? Elgar’s, I think (6)
{ERMINE} – this fur sounds like an answer to the question “whose?” – the Elgar reference eludes me but I’m sure you know better
this fur sounds like an answer to the question “whose? Elgar’s, I think” – Elgar’s is a synonym for mine (he being the setter) – thanks for that Harry, I should have realised before I bought the paper!

17a Sacred object taken to heart by 23 and 20 (6)
{SCARAB} – fortunately this sacred object comes up in a lot of puzzles, because to solve the clue you need to put together three letters from each of the answers to 23 down and 20 across

18a Drink to which horse might lead you (5)
{PUNCH) – a clever cryptic definition: you might, like I did, think the answer is to lead a horse to water, but then you realise that it’s the other way round.  The real answer is a type of horse from Suffolk that pulls a plough

19a Fool standing in pasture’s shown clemency (6)
{LENITY} – this fool is a NIT and its inside (standing in) LEY (an alternate spelling of lea / pasture) giving a lesser known synonym for clemency (from the same root as lenience)

20a What are basic new air filters? Made in Saudi (6)
{ARABIC} – ABC (what are basic) interwoven (filters) with an anagram (new) of AIR – let me know if you can you do better!

21a Mackay or Barrowclough’s common salary? (5)
{SCREW} – a fabulous double definition based on Porridge! – colloquialisms for a prison warder and salary

24a Instance of lying on hay will supply it (5)
{FIBRE} – FIB (instance of lying) and RE (on) giving roughage (hay will supply it)

26a Patriot rattling his sabre during the Beijing Olympics (5)
{JINGO} – this patriot is hidden (during) the Beijing Olympics

27a Actively seeking rage to some extent? (5,1,7)
{AFTER A FASHION} – a nicely blended combination of two cryptic definitions

28a In past, drop with a jerk (9)
{STRAPPADO} – an old-fashioned form of torture in which the victim was hoisted on a rope tied around the wrists and then allowed to drop with a sudden jerk to the length of the rope – recently Gazza and  I have been discussing &lit clues , and here we have a perfect example which I missed – fortunately, he didn’t – it’s also an anagram (jerk) of  PAST DROP with A – this must be one of the best Toughie clues for quite a while


2d Lost Owl and Pussycat found here? (2,3)
The Owl and the Pussy-cat went to sea
In a beautiful pea green boat,
They took some honey, and plenty of money,
Wrapped up in a five pound note.
The Owl looked up to the stars above,
And sang to a small guitar,
‘O lovely Pussy! O Pussy my love,
What a beautiful Pussy you are,
You are,
You are!
What a beautiful Pussy you are!’ ….. more

3d Ring to shed some light on Head of Religious Studies (6)
{ENHALO} – a lovely cryptic definition: to put a ring of light around the head of someone in a religious painting

4d See 9d

5d Icarus had things so to raise levels of excitement (3,2)
{HOT UP} – an excellent double definition – how it was for Icarus before his wings melted; to increase in excitement or energy

6d Game black lecturer stripped off to enthral raving mad Poles (9,4)
{BLINDMANS BUFF} – B(lack) L(ecturer) then IN BUFF (stripped off) around (to enthral) an anagram (raving) of MAD and NS (poles) giving a game in which a blindfold player tries to catch the others

7d Ridiculous man excitedly beating boy around home (5-8)
{HEATH ROBINSON} – HE (man) ATHROB (excitedly beating) SON (boy) around IN (home) giving someone whose name will be forever be synonymous with ridiculous machines

9d, 10d & 4d Dodgy “charitable” offer folk fly to? (2,4,3,3,4,2,1,5)
{IT FELL OFF THE BACK OF A LORRY} – a magnificent anagram (dodgy) of CHARITABLE OFFER FOLK FLY TO  and a phrase used by dodgy people to explain the origin of cheap goods they are trying to sell – a second classic clue in the same puzzle – today is a good day

10d See 9d

13d London Recorder looks for Listener (5)
{PEPYS} – the name of this famous diarist (London recorder) sounds like (for listener) peeps (looks)

14d Vessel’s name taken from one in Joyce’s book? (5)
{LINER} – OK, hands up all of you who thought at first this was a reference to James Joyce’s Ulysses – I was one of them, but this ship is actually comes from another of his books! – [see Gazza’s comment below – Dub (name) taken from Dubliner (one in Joyce’s book) giving the vessel of the answer]

15d Contempt for mum kept in hand (5)
{PSHAW} – SH (hush) inside (kept in) the hand of a feline animal gives gives an expression of contempt

22d Chirpy individual, the Terry-Thomas type, captured by spies (6)
{CICADA} – Terry Thomas, along with Cardew Robinson, was a well-known CAD; put that inside (captured by) the CIA (spies) and you have a chirpy insect

23d In a (less conventional) sense, vehicle goes down slope (6)
{ESCARP} – CAR (vehicle) inside (in … goes down) ESP (extrasensory perception / less conventional sense) gives a steep slope

25d The climax of the opening race? (5)
{EVENT} – E (thE climax / the last term) then an opening (also the answer to 1 across last Saturday) giving a competition (race)

26d Pilgrim’s possessed, declining holy war (5)
{JIHAD} – I give up on this one – HAD (possessed) is part of the answer meaning a holy war, but I can’t fit in pilgrim and declining – can you help? [see Peter’s explanation in the comments below – I could have looked at this one all day without getting the full wordplay]

Another terrific Toughie that gets better the more you look at it.

What did you think of it?  Can you improve on my handiwork?

7 comments on “Toughie No 106

  1. 16a

    I do the online version, because the paper does not arrive here in the south of france until tomorrow, and my version does not have the name of the setter. But is the setter not Elgar, so “it’s, er, mine”? Certainly there have been previous cases with a reference to the setter’s name, and I think the DT ought, in fairness, to put the setters name on the on-line version.

  2. Harry

    I really should have guessed that!

    I hope to be compiling a list of suggested improvements to CluedUp, to forward to the Telegraph, and adding the Toughie setter will be one of them.

    Please post any other ideas in Suggestions. Try and be a bit more constructive than “make it work properly”!

  3. This was from Toughie 82 by Giovanni:

    Thin male coming out – that’s after Giovanni’s eaten superior food (6) ?U?S?I

  4. 26D: You need to know about the Hadj – the pilgrimage to Mecca. A Muslim who has been on the pilgrimage is a Hadji. If the HAD=possessed in HADJI declines=goes down, you end up with JIHAD (which is a wonderful thing for xwd purposes if not in real life …).

    (The DJ in both words can also be J or JJ, depending on the method used for representing Arabic sounds with Roman letters).

  5. I think that 14d is even better. “Name taken from” also means take the “dub” (to name) away from Dubliner, of which there are many in Joyce’s books, but probably means here the hero of Ulysses.

  6. I think “one in Joyce’s book” has to be Dubliner from “Dubliners” as Dave said. Then you subtract the “dub” that gazza spotted (both of which I missed, imagining there was something I didn’t know for some boat in Ulysses).

  7. I finished this puzzle at about 1.00 am this morning, and ever since then have been finding out more about it. This surely must be one of the very best Toughies ever.

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