Toughie 199 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 199

Toughie No 199 by Elgar

Paradise Lost?

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

Regular followers of the blog will know that I am a fully paid-up member of the Elgar fan club.  While, in general, I enjoyed the puzzle, I thought that the wordplay on a few of the clues crossed over that elusive line between fair and unfair.  I will be very interested to know what you thought, especially if you have a different interpretation of any of the wordplays.


1a In residence at college, I don’t know what’s needed to get through the gate (8,4)
{BOARDING PASS} – an excellent charade of being in residence at a college and what a contestant on Mastermind says when they don’t know the answer gives the item that’s needed to get through the gate at an airport

8a To give an example, Telstar Records initially breaking in cursorily (7)
{ORBITER} – Telstar is an example of what you get when you insert (breaking) R (Records initially) into a Latin word that means by the way or cursorily

ARVE Error: need id and provider

9a Popular piece to confuse one that’s nice! (7)
{MESSIAH} – this popular piece of music is a not-so-obvious charade of MESS (confuse) I (one) and AH (that’s nice, as in Ah, Bisto!)

ARVE Error: need id and provider

11a Schoolboy howler? (4,3)
{WOLF CUB} – a cryptic definition that’s a bit out-of-date, these days they are called Cub Scouts (a junior division of the Scout Association)

12a Batty night flight when this blood count’s low? (7)
{DRACULA} – a cryptic definition of Bram Stoker’s vampire

13a Writer’s energy supporting central characters in Carry On Girls (5)
{YONGE} – this writer, of whom I was blissfully unaware, comes from putting E(nergy) after (supporting) the central characters in  CarrY ON Girls – my first reaction was that supporting should only be used in this way in a down clue, but to use it in the sense of backing, or coming after, is quite clever

14a Sexy goddess emerging dazed from pit? Oh, dear! (9)
{APHRODITE} – a good way of getting into this puzzle – this sexy goddess is an anagram (emerging dazed) of PIT OH, DEAR

16a I may have at least two leads (6,3)
{POLICE DOG} – a cryptic definition which, even on review, just doesn’t work for me – presumably the second lead is the one that is being followed

19a One getting paid out from demonstration (5)
{PROOF} – a charade of PRO(fessional) (one getting paid) and OF (out from) leads to a demonstration of the validity of a theory

21a A fabulous creature, it has a rounded body, a narrowed mouth and a foot … Ulster firm invested (7)
{UNICORN} – a description of an URN is placed around NI (Ulster) and CO (firm) to get this fabulous creature – there appears to be a containment indicator missing from CluedUp; is it the same in the printed version? [The word invested, present in the paper, has now been added to CluedUp and you can do the puzzle all over again!]

23a Being supposedly jolly, I hastily mend grate for Dr Spooner (4,3)
{JACK TAR} – this supposedly jolly being gave me more problems than the rest of the puzzle put together – the answer was easily found and inserted but I have to thank Tilsit for the key to unravelling the wordplay – a charade of TACK (hastily mend) and JAR (grate) is a Spoonerism of the answer – I worked out the Spoonerism quite early on, but just couldn’t fit it in

24a Difficult to catch oriental assassin who’s lost tail — and he’s back on the turn (3-4)
{EEL-LIKE} – a word meaning difficult to catch is a charade of E (Eastern / oriental), KILLE(R) (assassin) without the R (who’s lost tail) and another E  (hE’s back, the last letter of he) (oriental / he’s back) all reversed (on the turn)

25a Capital bird touring capital city (7)
{NAIROBI} – take A1 (first class / capital) and ROBIN (bird) and move the N to the beginning (touring) to get the capital of Kenya – although the result is the same, does touring indicate a letter move or an anagram?  If the latter then it would be an “unfair” indirect anagram

26a Cane used by military joker on force once in hospital rounds (7,5)
{SWAGGER STICK} – a cane used by the military comes from putting WAG (joker) G (force) and ERST (once) inside (rounds) SICK (in hospital)


1d Wonderful location girlfriend finds nearly remote (7)
{BABYLON} – the site of the hanging gardens (wonderful location) is a charade of BABY (girlfriend) and LON(E) (nearly remote)

2d It could be a dreadful recital (7)
{ARTICLE} – evidence that Elgar is mortal as he trots out this old chestnut

3d Target old man having consumption drowned by loud noise (9)
{DARTBOARD} – this target is, like those Russian dolls, a nesting of TB (Tuberculosis / consumption) inside (drowned by) ROAR (loud noise) all inside (having) DAD (old man) – solving this was, for me, the key that unlocked the rest of the puzzle

4d Rover with marbles intact, having lost shirt (5)
{NOMAD} – this rover is NO(T) MAD (with marbles intact) without the T (having lost T-shirt)

5d Silly commotion following pirate’s first thrust (7)
{PASSADO} – put ASS (silly) and ADO (commotion) after P (Pirate’s first) to get an obsolete term for a thrust with one foot advanced in fencing – silly leading to ass is just about justified because silly as a noun can indicate a silly person

6d Invoke response? We do turn litmus a shade of indigo (7)
{STIMULI} – these invoke a response, but you need to read it a couple of times before you can see how it works, and they are derived from an anagram (turn) of LITMUS followed by I (a shade / a little of Indigo)

7d Needled, I am king, on the face of it totally untidy (6,6)
{NORWAY SPRUCE} – this tree that has needles is derived by putting R (king) inside NO WAY SPRUCE (on the face of it totally untidy) – needled as a definition of a tree, of the kind that is given to the UK every Christmas by the King of Norway, is, to say the least, a bit of a loose description

10d Please, no way, woman on edge — why at auction? (6,6)
{HEAVEN FORBID} – a phrase that means please, no is build up from AVE (way) inside (on edge) HEN (woman) followed by FOR BID (why at auction) – another damp squib that failed to deliver the WoW! factor

15d The jollity, greeting an unlucky influence in the audience (4,5)
{HIGH JINKS} – this jollity sounds like (in the audience) Hi! (greeting) and jinx (unlucky influence) – the thought of saying hello to a jink amused me

17d Like viral victim put on bottom bunk? (4,3)
{LAID LOW} – a double definition that is fairly obvious, at least it is once you have seen it

18d Lovingly remark ruler’s in preparation (7)
{COOKING} – making loving remarks (is that the same as lovingly remark? – not for me) around K (King / ruler is in) gives this preparation of food (maybe a curry from Big Dave’s Kitchen!)

19d Composer’s coup d’etat broadcast in one (7)
{PUCCINI} – this composer is composed from PUCC (sounds like putsch / coup d’état broadcast) followed by IN and I (one) – homophones are notoriously subjective and this one didn’t do it for me

ARVE Error: need id and provider

20d Extrovert prospect? (7)
{OUTLOOK} – an easy double cryptic efinition

22d Heart in one piece, but head lost — it’s all relative (5)
{NIECE} – combine N (heart in oNe) and (P)IECE without the P (head lost) to get a relative

Your opinions and observations are, as ever, welcome.

You can assess this puzzle by selecting from one to five stars below.

16 comments on “Toughie 199

  1. I must admit to being a tad disappointed with this one – not as many Aha! moments as I usually get from Elgar, and I still don’t understand 21a.
    It may be heresy to say so, but I actually preferred Firefly’s puzzle yesterday.

  2. After the stinker of the 26,000th cryptic, I wonder what delights are in store for us on Tuesday when the Toughie reaches its 200th!!!!!.

    1. DT 26000 was by Elgar, so I think we can be sure that T 200 will be by someone else as we have never had two consecutive Toughies from the same setter.

      1. Dave,I have noted from the site 26,000 was compiled by John T not Elgar, however this doesn’t matter, maybe John T will compile T200!,fireworks ahead!

        1. Kram,
          Apologies but John H did 26000 (he commented on the crossword). John H is Elgar, unless I have made a mistake. There is a Ray T however, who is also a setter :-)

          1. Je le connaise Ray T, got my wrist slapped by him for lauding you for your Franglaise courage!.

            1. Hi Kram,

              It was just a little badinage. By the way, it’s ‘Je le connais’ and ‘Franglais’…!

  3. Found this a real Toughie – managed about two thirds of it without help.
    Just to be really picky, BD, you missed a letter out of the bracketed answer for 18d. and shouldn’t a squiB be damp? Sorry – I had a bad day at work!

  4. 2dn “Trots out”? “Old chestnut”? I wrote the clue myself for this puzzle.

    20d may have been easy, but it’s no dd.

    21a “He’s back” is E i.e. the last letter of “He”.

    9ac Wasn’t thinking of Bisto at the setting stage…

    1. Thanks for your response, John

      2 down – from DT 25977 we had “Strange article used in performance (7)” which is the same thing the other way around.

      20 down – I took extrovert as someone who was looking outward and a prospect as an outlook, but I cannot argue with you.

      21 across – I have changed, but I only noticed the second “E” when doing the review

      9 across This is a U-rated blog!

  5. Quite a tough puzzle – I didn’t understand the wordplay for 10D until I came here, and solving this and 9A took about a quarter of the solving time (I’d guessed 5D but not written it in as the fencing term was new).

    I noted the indirect anagram at 25A but Nairobi is like Tripoli – one of those stock grid-filling cities that probably need considerable effort to avoid having your clue labelled “old chestnut”.
    I also liked “putsch” once I’d found the right ????INI composer (Rossini got in the way for a while). Never heard of Yonge, and even wondered whether John had misspelled (Erica) Jong!

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