Toughie 163 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 163

Toughie No 163 by Elgar

The Rolls Royce of Toughies!

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

How I look forward to alternate Fridays!  It took me quite a while to get into the CluedUp site this morning, but it was well worth the wait.  The hardest thing about Elgar’s puzzles is not finding the answers (which is difficult at the best of times) but getting a full resolution of the wordplay.


2a D Arth shows this game old character! (5,7)
{SPACE INVADER} – a wonderful cryptic definition – we have a SPACE IN D ARTH, so now do the same to V ADER

8a Charge for butter (4)
{GOAT} – I got this long before I worked out that to charge was to GO AT

9a Hypothetical cipher running through popular article on line (2,6)
{IN THEORY} – as charades go, this one is excellent – put O (cipher) inside (running through) IN (popular) THE (article) and RY (RailwaY line)

10a Island tour-guide, single one finding lost loves earlier (8)
{ALCATRAZ} – I got as far as the tour guide but lost the loves completely  – can you help?
tour guide is A-Z, preceded by A (single) and L(o)cat(o)r (one seeking finding lost loves) – thanks Gazza

11a Brave Dad’s getting over pain (6)
{APACHE} – this Indian brave is making his third appearance in recent weeks – you get him from PA reversed in front of ACHE

12a Two members of our Kingdom joining sports club (7,3)
{CRICKET BAT} – two animals are combined to get something that is used to hit a ball

13a One won’t change with this preparation of meat for stew? (6)
{CUBING} – there was a mathematical clue based on the number one in today’s cryptic – here’s another – one cubed is still one!

16a Lukewarm score? (5)
{NOTCH} – NOT C(old) or H(ot) but lukewarm

17a Breakfast (cooked) impulsive VIP binned (6)
{MUESLI} – cooked warns you that there is an anagram in there somewhere – take the VIP out of IM(P)ULS(IV)E and you’re nearly there

18a Thus diminutive female indicated she’s all right! (3,2,5)
{BIT OF FLUFF} – this little lady is a bit of all right – I’m sure there’s more than just a cryptic definition in here somewhere

21a Injure tax-man (6)
{SCATHE} – the other day the tax was a scot, today it’s a SCAT; add HE  and you get a word meaning to injure, more often seen in the negative as unSCATHEd

23a On return, swimmer’s opening port (8)
{YARMOUTH} – I never thought that a place would be one of the easier answers! Put RAY reversed in front of MOUTH and you have your port, whether it be in East Anglia or the Isle of Wight

24a Without students having broken record, sign domestic summons? (4-4)
{BELL-PULL} – LL (students) have broken both EP and BULL (star sign Taurus) to get a way of summoning the domestic help in a large household

25a Element at the heart of score-draw (4)
{NEON} – this element is hidden inside ONE ONE, a score draw on the football pools

26a Angry German, getting covered, turned off hose? (12)
{UNDERGARMENT} – angry indicates that an anagram of GERMAN is to be placed inside (covered) by another anagram (off) of TURNED to give an item of hosiery


1d Area of London in which Unionist’s lost (6)
{POPLAR} – an area of London that I know well is neatly constructed from POP(U)LAR (in) without the “U”

2d Group’s damned lies about fish getting caught (5,4)
{STRAY CATS} – this Rock’n’Roll group come from lies, damn lies and STAT(istic)S around RAY and C(aught)

3d Reluctant to present some poetry (6)
{AVERSE} – a rare event in this puzzle – an easy charade of A and VERSE

4d Movie star’s reduced stature forever encapsulated by Berlioz et al in composition (9,6)
{ELIZABETH TAYLOR} – one of the world’s all-time great movie stars comes from HT (abbreviation for HeighT / reduced stature) and AY (forever) inside (encapsulated by) an anagram (in composition) of BERLIOZ ET AL

5d Hacker infiltrating menu that children read (8)
{NUTHATCH} – a bird of the family Sittidae that hacks at nuts and seeks insects on the bark of trees is cleverly hidden (infiltrating) meNU THAT CHildren read – another rare event here is a superfluous word in the clue

6d Take a long time over engagement ring? (5)
{ARENA} – AN ERA is reversed to get the ring inside which gladiators might engage

7d Receiver makes lawman get to the point (8)
{EARPHONE} – this receiver is a charade of (Wyatt) EARP and HONE

14d A writer or two following match? (9)
{BALLPOINT} – this ubiquitous writer could also be played as the game “name two things that can follow match” to which the answer is match BALL and match POINT

15d Change starter in midday meal for quite a few gallons (8)
{PUNCHEON} – change the first letter of LUNCHEON to get a tool for piercing or for stamping – just joking, it can also be an obsolete liquid measure of from 70 to 120 gallons

16d Follower of Siegfried Sassoon, at last I am in the country, taking a breather (8)
{NIBELUNG} – this descendant (follower) of Siegfried is a charade to end all charades –  (Sassoo)N (at last) I BE (I am, in the country particularly around Somerset – and into North Devon to include Gazza) and (taking) LUNG (a breather)

19d Stock food over a long period of time (6)
{FORAGE} – fodder for horses and cattle (stock food) that is a charade of FOR AGE (over a long period of time)

20d Understand body is so far down? (6)
{FATHOM} – a double definition where as a verb it means to understand and as a noun is the distance under the ground that a body is traditionally buried

22d Spanish senor’s requirement for middle name? (5)
{TILDE} – the difference between Señor and Senor!

While continuing to spoon-feed the daily cryptic followers I, and the other bloggers, will henceforth be treating the Toughie clan as a more advanced audience.  Don’t worry, we are not going to change to using ABC* << to mean find an anagram of ABC and then reverse it [before anyone comments, that was meant to be a joke!], but if you do need further explanation of the wordplay, you only have to ask.

Today I am taking the unusual step of saying which I thought were the weaker clues, because I loved most of them!  My well-known dislike of place names was further confirmed by 23 across, and 3 down was so old that it was bald on top.  I am reserving judgement on 18 across in the hope that someone might come up with a better explanation than mine.

Now I have to wait two weeks for the next challenge from Elgar.  Thanks again John H, I hope you are reading this!

11 comments on “Toughie 163

  1. I must admit I have never heard of 15d, but I loved 2d, my clue of the week. This was a corker of a crossword.

    1. BigBoab

      I’m finding it difficult to select just one, but the group in 2 down were certainly one of the better post-sixties Rock’n’Roll bands.

  2. 10. Tour guide is A-Z, preceded by A (single) and L(o)cat(o)r (one finding, with lost loves).

  3. We liked 24a – Hotlips installed one for me last week.

    Apart from that we found it difficult but mostly do-able -didn’t have a clue about 18a and still don’t.

  4. I don’t think this one deserves 5 stars for difficulty.

    6 at least, and possibly 7.

  5. 18 across
    Bit of Fluff or Bit off Luff ?
    ‘Luff’ is a sailing term, or a slang word for ‘love’? Neither makes much sense!
    Still a great crossword.

  6. This took ages (70 mins in front of the Cardiff Singer of the World finals) but I did get there. Delayed (for c. 40 mins of the 70) by BIT OF STUFF as a dud answer for 18A – 13 and 14 were my last two answers. Not too chuffed with 26A where “covered” really means “covered by”. And not really convinced by 16A if “NOTCH” is intended to mean “Not hot or cold”. (I’d assumed that CH=central heating implied more than “lukewarm” but would have grumnbled about that too!). Well done Gazza for finding the Alcatraz wordplay – I didn’t. At 22, SCAT=tax was new, but the def and HE were enough. Also a bit disappointed with 1D where “in” is really doing “double duty” – indicating both POPULAR and the first woird of “in which Unioinists’s lost”. If you gave a non-crossworder the instruction “POPULAR which U’s lost”, I don’t think they’d see POPLAR as a possible result of those instructions – which for me is much more important than the extra word in the “hiding place” in 5D.

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