Toughie 186 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
View closed comments 

Toughie 186

Toughie No 186 by Elgar

Outrageous Stuff!

+ – + – + – + – + – + – +

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

Unless you know different, as a woman with big teeth used to say on TV, today’s Toughie breaks new ground.   I don’t think that crosswords in the DT have had more than one or two cross-referencing clues.   Today’s had quite a few and that added to the fun.   Obviously you had to solve these to proceed further with other clues.

This was a Toughie to savour and it had everything including some absolutely top-drawer clues.   My only tiny grumble was that where answers were linked – like  22, 10 and 23, 2 down, in other publications the complete indications are shown at the first answer.  It just confused me a little.

Where to start?   Probably with the three letter answers.  They are quite good ways to get into the puzzles with quite friendly clues.

What did you think about it?    Feel free to comment after the analysis.

The clue answers are contained within the curly brackets.   Highlighting the space between them will reveal the answer.  If you are posting a comment for the first time, there may be a slight delay while your first post is approved.  This is purely a precaution against the board being hijacked by spammers.

On with the motley and let’s go!


6a  Coping badly with Yale, being object of 8ac 11? (4,6)
{CLAY PIGEON}  To get the definition, you’ll need to solve 8ac and 11.  That gives you SHOOTING.   An anagram(shown by “badly”) of COPING and YALE gives you something to be shot at.

8a  24 29 you, going over Central London area? (4)
{SHOO}   After solving 24 and 29 you get AWAY WITH + You to form the definition.  To arrive at it, you need to “turn over” the centre letters of a London Area, i.e. SOHO.

9a  In a way, those bottling grand cru dwarf this class of wines (9)
{LANGUEDOC} Quite a complicated clue.    LANE (way)   with GU = those “bottling” Grand CrU, i.e. the first and last letters, inside.  Add to this one of Snow White’s dwarfs.

11a  Birds not close — beer’s sound! (4)
{TING}   The birds are NIGHTINGALES and you should subtract NIGH and ALES to get the sound.

12a  Young Christopher’s violin equipment (3)
{KIT}  A triple definition.  KIT is short for the name Christopher, a small violin and a word for equipment.

13a  Over 3, this is indicated in the pool (5,4)
{POUND SIGN}  Naughty Elgar!  This time the “3” is not a clue answer, but if you think of the pool being a typing pool, what is above the 3 key on a typewriter or keyboard?

16a  Troubled bankers pursuing love spheres (4)
{ORBS}  I like this clue very much.  The “troubled bankers” are RBS (Royal Bank of Scotland), who found themselves in a bit of a mess recently.  Put O (love)  before them and you get a word meaning spheres or globes.

17a  Line drawn on chart after measured dive? (7)
{ISOBATH}  One of these is found on a nautical map (chart).  At first I thought this was a cryptic indication.  “measured dive”  =  I S O (International Standards Organisation, who control measurements) + BATH.  However I am thinking more it is a cryptic definition as the result of a dive for measuring you get this.

18a  It’s not long before it’s said to be wrong (7)
{IMMORAL}  Here you have I MM (1 mm – i.e. not long) + ORAL to form a word meaning wrong.

20a & 26d  Stock food for fancy men dressed in pink (4,4)
{CORN MEAL}  “stock food” is the definition and it is an anagram of MEN inside CORAL (pink)

21a  Swimming upstream, king’s cut (4,5)
{RUMP STEAK}  An anagram of  UPSTREAM + K gives you a nice cut of beef.

23a & 2d   Film star originally from Germany (3,4)
{MEG RYAN}   The actress is an anagram of Germany!

24a & 29a & 30a  Bottom so dreamy! (4,4,3,7)
{AWAY WITH THE FAIRIES}  I think this refers to A Midsummer Night’s Dream, but I’m trying to rack my brains about “Bottom’s dream”

25a  Include name in order to come and go (9)
{ENCOMPASS}  An anagram of COME with N (for name) inside + PASS (go)

29a  See 24 (4)

30a  See 24 (3,7)

Back with the downs after a quick coffee!


1d  Time to get through three lullabies (4)
{ELUL} At first, I thought it was “reel”, but couldn’t justify it.  I then realised it was ELUL, a month of the Hebrew calendar.   It’s hidden.

2d  See 23 Across (4)

3d  Tell fibs to gain university place (4)
{LIEU}  LIE (Tell fibs) + U (University) = PLACE

4d  ‘Experienced’ musician’s spell touring locations of Bismarck and Providence (7)
{HENDRIX}  Clever clue.  The locations of B&P in the US are ND (North Dakota) and RI (Rhode Island) inside HEX (spell).  The “experienced” comes from one of his most famous albums – Are You Experienced? I was introduced to the album at the age of 8, by my Primary School Teacher, Miss Maher.

5d  Flat.______? (5-5)
{POINT BLANK}  Look  carefully at this clue.  Flat is the definition, but what about the rest?  It’s literally another definition!  The full stop is the “point” and the “___” blank. Brilliant!

7d  Old Scratch and Lucifer, say — or Parkhurst and Newgate? (9)
{NICKNAMES}  A clue that works on three levels.  Old Scratch and Lucifer are nicknames for The Devil, literally (old) Nicknames!  Parkhurst and Newgate are also “Nick”, i.e. Prison Names!

8d  Round German cove’s cast aside (5,4)
[SOTTO VOCE}  OTTO  is a name associated with Germany and it is within an anagram of COVES.  This gives you the stage direction for noise aside.

10d  See 22 (3)

13d   Shakespearean disciplinarian’s arm with cuff? The reverse (6-4)
{PISTOL WHIP} This is a sort of “backwards clue”.  The definition is “arm with cuff? The reverse”, so it’s actually “cuff with arm”.  The indicator is straight forward.  PISTOL = Shakespearean +  WHIP = Disciplinarian

14d  Dubious yarn used to wind my Sikh headgear around Henry (5,4)
{URBAN MYTH}  The definition is fairly clear, a dubious yarn.  The setter is asking you to “wind” the word for Sikh headgear.  So TURBAN becomes URBANT and then it goes round MY and adds H for Henry.  Bit convoluted, but it’s not an easy phrase to clue.  Incidentally, if you hear a story that could be true, you can usually check these things out at

15d  Put man off soap? (9)
{DETERGENT}  If you put a man off, you DETER GENT and when the word is run together, it becomes a type of soap.

19d  Buck’s enthusiastic kiss (7)
{SMACKER} A double definition.  A smacker is a nickname for a dollar and also a serious kiss.

22d & 10d   Film teachers’ rising work force in situ (3,3)
{TOP GUN} The Tom Cruise opus is made up of   N U T (The teachers’ union) reversed with OP + G (work + Gravitational force) inside

26d  See 20 (4)

27d  Style for a style on 22 (4)
{AFRO}  An anagram of FOR A reveals the popular 1970’s hairstyle.

28d  Bird writer travelling through Cornwall and Devon? (4)
{SMEW}  The Smew is a type of duck.  Writer = ME (the compiler) inside SW (Devon and Cornwall).

Thanks to Elgar for a splendid puzzle, and I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did.  Now back to my sick bed…..

13 comments on “Toughie 186

  1. This was so hard, Elgar must be the top setter, i loved 13a., and the multiple clue 24,29 &30a, a phrase used quite a lot north of the Border. Absolutely brilliant!!!

  2. 24a, 29a and 30a I assume refers to the “relationship” Bottom has with Titania in Midsummer Night’s Dream, whilst Bottom is in the forest.
    Oh and as an aside I have to concur with Bigboab – “Toughie 186 – a giant rollercoaster of a crossword in 32 sizzling clues. A searing indictment of domestic servitude in the eighteenth century, with some hot gypsies thrown in. My magnum opus, Baldrick. Everybody has one crossword in them, and this is mine” (with apologies to Blackadder and Ink and Incapability).

  3. I should also have shown my appreciation of 4d and 7d, both of which I really enjoyed.

  4. Quick Coffee? Hmmm … some of us are hanging onto your every word. Can we have the downs now please.

  5. Tilsit, although thats a “known” wine growing region, its not likely to be on everybody’s list for fine wines. Personally I am not a fan of aged reds (Bordeaux for example) but a nice old “Coteau de Layon” or “Bonnezeau” with foie gras or with dessert is superb.

    1. Stop it Libellule, discussion of French patisserie provoked enough comments! Now having read your latest gourmet voyage please don’t malign a superb sweet white wine producer by missing their x ! By the way loved the crossword from top to Bottom!

      1. Hi Kram,

        Now who’s being pedantic about French spelling?! You’re right, it’s ‘Coteaux du Layon’ and ‘Bonnezeaux’.

  6. Absolutely no chance!! Even after reading your explanations its still a fog!!

    Still, favourite clues, ie. the ones we managed to solve are 7d and 16a

  7. Most entertaining though fiendishly dificult! I was stuck in an airport departure lounge for several hours today, and this Toughie kept me from being bored. I still couldn’t finish it though!

  8. I’m afraid Elgar beat me this time; I got 25A wrong which threw the rest out. However, sitting in the middle of Languedoc, where I live, I have to say that I rather enjoy the local wines, especially a cold rosé at lunchtime. And being in France with a French AZERTY keyboard, 13A was rather lost on me until blogged.


Comments are closed.