Toughie 171 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 171

Toughie No 171 by Elgar

One of Elgar’s easier Toughies!

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

While still tougher than most, I found this Toughie from Elgar to be a bit easier than usual.  I managed, or hope I did, to unravel all but one of the clues unaided.


1a Script arriving — it’s simple for one to apprehend (6)
{ARABIC} – this script is built up from AR(riving) then ABC (it’s simple) around (to apprehend) I (one) – I’m not convinced about this one as arr. Is the abbreviation for arrived / arrives / arriving

5a & 27a Why Beauty loves the Beast? (8,8)
{CREATURE COMFORTS} – the first of several delightful cryptic definitions – this one based on a well-known phrase that is also a series of short cartoons

9a The demon drink? (4,6)
{EVIL SPIRIT} – it’s not like Elgar to donate such an easy cryptic definition

10a Group of urban districts (4)
{BAND} – … and then to follow it with such an obvious hidden word

11a and 7d He and I are prominent members of this organisation (8)
{PERIODIC TABLE} – A very cleverly constructed cryptic definition which would not have worked without the capitalisation of He(lium) and I(odine)

12a See 19 across

13a Reduction of output? Not good week for European capital (4)
{OSLO} – the reduction of output is a (G)O SLO(W), simply remove the G and the W (not Good Week) for this European capital

15a Unwanted falling-out with one having to run anti-crime organisation (8)
{ALOPECIA} – an unwanted falling-out of hair that is a charade of A (one) LOPE (to run) and CIA (anti-crime organisation)

18a Church seat that’s attached to one spotted entering assurance company (4-4)
{PRIE-DIEU} – a church seat that is very cleverly constructed from IE (that is / that’s) and DIE (singular of dice / one spotted) inside (entering) the PRU(dential) (assurance company)

19a & 12a Supports team making house-call (4,6)
{LEGS ELEVEN} – LEGS (supports) and ELEVEN (team) giving a call in Housey-Housey or Bingo – only a house-call if it’s your final number!

21a DNA analysis should enable child in suit to back ancestor (6)
{APEMAN} – still struggling with the wordplay for this alleged ancestor
DNA analysis should enable child in suit to NAME PA, which, when reversed (back) gives an ancestor – thanks to Gazza and Harry for this one: I wrote it down backwards and still couldn’t see it!

23a Iron crate has room for critics (5,3)
{PRESS BOX} – a charade of PRESS (iron) and BOX (crate) is cryptically defined

25a See 4 down

26a Uncommunicative one so ready to act unfortunately put on debut (8-2)
{BUTTONED-UP} – a pair of cryptic definitions which would have been hard to resolve if it hadn’t been for the anagram (unfortunately) of PUT ON DEBUT

27a See 5 across

28a Counter-recounter (6)
{TELLER} – a double definition of a bank TELLER and a story TELLER


2d University always up-stages topical show (5)
{REVUE} – put U(niversity) inside EVER (always) reversed (up) to get a topical stage show

3d Flier’s request for seconds in curry house? (9)
{BALTIMORE} – this fire-bird is a request to have MORE BALTI (seconds in curry house)

4d & 25a Put ID cards in circulation: lover’s shot (6,4)
{CUPID’S DART} – an anagram (in circulation) of PUT ID CARDS gives a lover’s shot

5d Inventor cast out crap acts in a rage (10,5)
{CARACTACUS POTTS} – the inventor from the film version of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang is an exceptional anagram (in a rage) of CAST OUT CRAP ACTS – in the book his surname was Pott – allegedly inspired by crackpot in the days before the word acquired a different connotation!

6d Jaunty in mood scaling warehouse (8)
{ENTREPOT} – put PERT (jaunty) inside TONE (mood) and then reverse it (scaling – a down-clue only construct) to get a bonded warehouse

7d See 11 across

8d Delivery of first coat? (9)
{RENDERING} – a double definition – delivering as in handing over and plastering with a first coat

14d Catch thief in well and torture using rope (9)
{STRAPPADO} – TRAP (catch) and PAD (a highway thief, as in footpad) are both inside SO (well) to give one of Elgar’s favourite forms of torture (see 28 across in Toughie 106) – another favourite is setting fiendishly hard crossword puzzles!

16d Heights: I described length = itself divided by breadth (5,4)
{ELLIS BELL} – the pen name of Emily Jane Brontë, the authoress of Wuthering Heights (Heights: I described), is concocted from ELL IS ELL (length is length / length = itself ) around (divided by) B(readth) – all the Brontës used Bell as a pen-surname, but their initials stayed the same, EB in this case

17d Vermilion conspirator’s obtained over counter (8)
{CINNABAR} – this vermilion coloured pigment is a simple(!) charade of Lucius Cornelius CINNA, one of those who conspired against Julius Caesar, over (down-clues only!) BAR (counter)

20d Answer: ‘What shall I use for distillation?’ (6)
{RETORT} – a double definition

22d Word on poem’s theme (5)
{MOTIF} – MOT (the French for word, allowed without indication of the language as we have adopted it into English, as in le mot juste) and IF (poem by Rudyard Kipling) combine to give a theme

24d Religious festival’s talked-about egg (5)
{OVULE} – this egg sounds like (talked-about) “of Yule” (religious festival’s / of religious festival)

Another mammoth task completed, it’s time for a break!

15 comments on “Toughie 171

  1. Dave,
    In addition to your query on AR standing for arriving, I’m a bit confused by CIA in 15a being an anti-crime organisation (?)
    On 21a I took it that DNA Analysis would enable a child in a (paternity) suit to NAME PA backwards.

  2. 21A

    DNA analysis should enable child in suit to … NAME PA

    back = APEMAN, or ancestor!

    Simple when you know how!


  3. I see Gazza was three minutes ahead of me with 21A; and I agree with him that CIA doesn’t mean “anti-crime organisation to me.


  4. Thanks to both of you.

    I’ve got that written on a piece of paper in front of me, but still didn’t make the connection.

    I think that CIA / anti-crime is a bit of setter’s licence. Silly really, as any other definition would probably work just as well.

  5. Enjoyable crossword which I struggled with, saw 21a easily enough but I still don’t understand 16d, I did like 5d very much though I’m not usually into anagrams.

  6. Thanks BD, I should have seen the Bronte connection, I can only plead “thickocity”

    1. Im sorry Bigboab, but anyone who attempts an Elgar Toughie cannot plead “Thickocity”, insanity maybe…….

  7. Thanks for providing this public service. On trying the crossword by myself I got precisely one answer (Oslo) so read your explanations of the down clues then re-tried the across ones by myself.

    I really liked 11A, especially since the initial caps look so innocent.

    And I admire 16D for getting “heights”, “length”, and “breadth” but I was nowhere near getting it: I didn’t work out “I described” means ‘author of’; I didn’t think of spelling out “L” as “ell”; and I didn’t know Emily Brontë’s pen name!

    Please can you explain the middle bit of 26A. I got this from its definition of “uncommunicative” and I see that “unfortunately put on debut” is the anagram and indicator, which together seem sufficient to be a clue — so what’s “one so ready to act” doing in there? Thanks.

    1. Smylers

      Glad you like the blog. Soon after starting it I realised that teaching the thinking behind the wordplay was the most valuable service I could provide and I have been fortunate enough to find several others who feel the same. I can remember how I used to wonder how the clue was connected to the answer that I saw in the following day’s paper, but had no way of finding out.

      As far as 26 across is concerned, I read it as a double definition plus an anagram. The middle bit I took as one so ready to act becomes one buttoned up in a costume is ready to act on stage.

      Having since looked it up in Chambers it is more general than that::

      buttˈoned-up (informal)
      * uncommunicative or repressed

      buttoned up (slang)
      * successfully fixed up
      * safe in hand
      * ready for action
      * see also buttoned-up above

      As you can see, Chambers makes a distinction between with and without the hyphen.

  8. Lots of good stuff here. At 3D I’d not realised you could drop the second word in “Baltimore Oriole”.
    My favourite was the combination of the content and the “house-call” def for 19/12 – I look forward to “two little ducks”, “Was she worth it?” and all the rest. Also really liked “unwanted falling-out” at 15.
    11/7 and 16 reminded me of Times puzzles. {Bell=Acton, Currer or Ellis} is an old Times staple, and 11/7 was a nicely done partner for: “He represents one, and I another (8)” which should now be a piece of cake.

    Two gripes: in 1A, I’m not too troubled about Ar. – it seemed perfectly plausible without looking things up. But I can’t see how “it’s simple for one to apprehend” indicates I inside ABC except by a well-dodgy route like apprehend=arrest=stop, and then stop=fill as in stop a tooth. If apprehend means “go around” as Dave says in his analysis, the words are surely in the wrong order.

    The second gripe is not the setter’s fault – it’s the continues botching of two-entry clues on the CluedUp site.

    In 5A for example, the clue number should be “5, 27” or “5/27”, and the proper (8,8) enumeration should be shown. If the current software can’t deal with this, get it fixed! As there were four of these pairs, the website version of the puzzle looked rather amateur for the (AFAIK) most expensive newspaper crossword site in the UK.

    1. Peter

      Regarding ar = arriving, it seems unfair to me that while setters are happy to use any and all abbreviations that are in Chambers they also feel free to make up their own.

      In your review of DT 25876 you yourself said:

      “P=president is not in Concise Oxford or Chambers, but is in Collins. I don’t understand yet what rules apply to abbreviations in the Telegraph, but “anything from COED, Collins or Chambers” seems like too many choices to me.”

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