Toughie 139

Toughie No 139 by Elgar

Elgar sets the standard that others must follow

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

Elgar has consistently set Toughies that are Tough, and this one is no exception.  To say that is easier than some of Elgar’s previous puzzles doesn’t mean it is easy.  For those that do battle with this puzzle, the reward is in the satisfaction of completing it.  But don’t worry if you get stuck – you can find all of the answers here.


8a The Thunderer enters answer to claim in excess (8)
{PLETHORA} – this Thunderer is not, as I first thought, The Times but THOR the Scandinavian thunder god; put him inside PLEA (answer to claim) and you get a word meaning in excess

9a The keeper of the castle’s not to seduce this woman (6)
{ELAINE} – this woman is the result of taking châtelain (the keeper of the castle) and taking away (not) the chat (to seduce)

10a My French horn (3)
{COR}  – a double definition which has on the one hand an interjection that is an expression of surprise and on the other the French word for a musical horn if there had been an exclamation mark after my, this might have been easier to get

11a Cross borne by someone of ’18’, maybe a bull-headed individual (8)
{MINOTAUR} – a TAU is a T-shaped cross and if you put it inside (borne by) MINOR (someone of ’18’ – surely a misprint for someone of under ‘18’?)(someone of ’18’ –  where ’18’ is actually sixteen, the answer to 18 across  – thanks Gazza) you get the bull-headed guardian of the Cretan Labyrinth

12a Two wings linked, playing a neat and simple thing (6)
{VOLVOX} – a charade of VOL (an heraldic term for two wings displayed and conjoined in base) V (Versus / against / playing) and OX (neat, as in cattle) gives us any member of the genus  of simple organisms found in ponds, canals, etc. – that one was quite a struggle!

13a Unnamed person has to develop a raincoat wanted by everyone in Intelligence (15)
{WHATCHAMACALLIT} – fortunately there is excellent wordplay for this unnamed person –  HATCH (to develop) A MAC (a raincoat) and ALL (everyone) all inside WIT (intelligence) – otherwise I might still be trying to find the spelling of a word which is usually only used in conversation

15a Jumble fundraiser’s acquired through gambling game (7)
{FARRAGO} – this word meaning a disordered mixture (jumble) comes from RAG (fundraiser, as in Student Rag) inside (acquired through) FARO (a gambling game played by betting on the order of appearance of certain cards)

18a Nurse outside exit waving goodbye to French people in the grid? (7)
{SIXTEEN} – SEN (State Enrolled Nurse) around (outside) an anagram (waving) of EXIT gives you the number of the clue in this grid to which the answer is au revoir (goodbye to French people) – a novel construct that fooled me for a while

21a A youngster sent right-angled card? (5-10)
{GREAT-GRANDCHILD} – this youngster is a clever anagram (sent) of RIGHT-ANGLED CARD

24a Fatigue finished con (6)
{OVERDO} – a word meaning fatigue that is a charade of OVER (finished) and DO (con)

25a One unsettled in atlas? (8)
{ALSATIAN} – A (one) then an anagram (unsettled) of IN ATLAS gives someone from Alsace, a part of Europe that has historically changed hands on a number of occasions

26a Raises litter after the first perishes (3)
{UPS} – this word meaning raises is found by dropping the initial letter (first perishes) from PUPS (litter)

27a Sign a man of Rome has spirit (6)
{VIRGIN} – this sign of the Zodiac is a charade of VIR (man, Latin / of Rome) and GIN (spirit)

28a Aroused, suddenly attacked reduced number? (6,2)
{TURNED ON} – a phrasal verb meaning aroused is composed of TURNED (suddenly attacked) and NO (number) reversed (reduced


1d Winter travel to which there’s no end of cunning (6)
{SLEIGH} – the mode of travel used by Santa Claus comes from SLEIGH(T) (cunning without the last letter / no end of cunning)

2d Little influence of surroundings and still less temperature – and there won’t be more! (2,4)
{AT MOST} – a little of ATMOSphere (influence of surroundings) and still less of Temperature and you get a phrase meaning there won’t be more

3d Here I’m rightly looking down on you (5,4,6)
{MORAL HIGH GROUND} – an excellent cryptic definition

4d Fringe stuff seen in West? (7)
{MACRAME} – a fringe of knotted thread is derived by putting CRAM (to stuff) into MAE (West – famous film star of yesteryear)

5d Caterers scrutinised very carefully? No! (7,8)
{SERVICE INDUSTRY} – these caterers come from an anagram (carefully, no) of SCRUTINISED VERY

6d Autumn accommodation for belly-flopper will have no effect (4,4)
{FALL FLAT} – the Americans call Autumn FALL and the accommodation is a FLAT; put them together and you get a phrase meaning will have no effect which is also what a belly-flopper does

7d I mention divers without wasting a second (2,2,4)
{IN NO TIME} – an anagram (divers) of I MENTION gives a phrase meaning without wasting a second

14d Look warm and dry (3)
{AIR} – a double definition – a bearing, outward appearance or manner (look) and to warm and dry, say, damp clothing

16d Our Vera and I, besotted for so long (2,6)
{AU REVOIR} – an anagram (besotted) of OUR VERA and I gives goodbye to French people (see 18 across)

17d M-madness? (4,4)
{ROAD RAGE} – M is for Motorway, so this is another description of motorway madness

19d I’m partially responsible for giving Samuel instruction (3)
{ELI} – this prophet is hidden in (partially)  SamuEL Instruction – a long all-in-one clue with a very short answer

20d Article pocketed by those playing a game (7)
{CANASTA} – AN (article) inside (pocketed by) CAST (those playing) then A (every letter counts!) give a card game

22d Prison, in this case, we hope, for what wife-beater did? (6)
{HITHER} – this word means “to this place” and prison is where you would wish to send this wife-beater, because he HIT HER

23d Ready for walkies and trick? (4,2)
{LEAD ON} – we finish with a smile, as if a dog has his LEAD ON he is ready for walkies, and it also means to trick

An excellent puzzle that is chock-full of candidates for Clue of the Week.  If you agree, then send them in!


  1. gazza
    Posted May 1, 2009 at 11:15 am | Permalink

    11a. I think “someone of ’18′” is a reference to the age in 18a.

  2. Rollo
    Posted May 1, 2009 at 11:54 am | Permalink

    BD. A bit of word reversal needed in 3d.

    Moral High Ground.

    • Posted May 1, 2009 at 12:32 pm | Permalink


      Sorry about that – I was rushing to go out – sorted now, thanks.

  3. Rollo
    Posted May 1, 2009 at 12:02 pm | Permalink

    Some interesting anagram indicators in this puzzle. “Besotted” is a new one for me.

  4. libellule
    Posted May 1, 2009 at 5:02 pm | Permalink

    13a for clue of the week! In France the same word is truc :-)

  5. Linsey
    Posted May 3, 2009 at 8:40 am | Permalink

    SEN for nurse is a bit naughty. This qualification has not been awarded for many years and even those who are nurses by virtue of that programme are no longer allowed to use the initials – all qualified nurses are RN.

    • Posted May 3, 2009 at 9:55 am | Permalink


      If you are a regular solver of Telegraph crosswords you will know by now
      that the rule that setters use is “If it’s in Chamber’s then it’s allowed”. This is just one of many anomalies that crop up from time to time.

      Chamber’s contains the following:

      SEN – State Enrolled Nurse

      RN – Registered Nurse (North American)

      SRN – State Registered Nurse

      I am sure that if someone like yourself who, unlike me, knows what you are talking about were to write to Chamber’s they might at least add the word obsolete to the definition.

      Will that stop setters using this construct again? I doubt it, but at least some of them may add old or former to the clue.

  6. Linsey
    Posted May 3, 2009 at 3:45 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for the lowdown on Chambers. I may just write to them because they are several years out of date. Registered Nurse has been the legal title for some years now in the UK. BTW I really value your blog – many thanks.