Toughie 223 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 223

Toughie No 223

About as Tough as a Toughie can be!

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

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

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Today’s puzzle is a breath of fresh air for those of us that are avid Ximeneans and like our Toughies to be tough but fair. Is it too tough in places? Probably. But then we deserve this kind of challenge from time to time.

Leave a comment telling us what you thought. You can also add your assessment by selecting from one to five stars at the bottom of the post.

1a It bodes ill making potato salad (7,3)
{MURPHY’S LAW} – this well-known adage states: “Anything that can go wrong will go wrong.” – the charade used to build it is a well known type of potato followed by the salad part of coleslaw

6a China and gypsum in green banks (4)
{MING} – a type of china is hidden in the rest of the clue – banks, as in banks of a river, are on either side of the answer – remember this type of china when solving 23 down

9a Dish is blue with trim of gold from the East (7)
{RISOTTO} – here we have a rice dish built up from IS and OTT inside OR (gold) reversed (from the East, an across-clue only construct)

10a Executed British leader of Middle Eastern country (7)
{ISRAELI} – just drop the initial letter from the name of a nineteenth-century British Prime Minister

12a Having negotiated pub’s top shelf? (2,4,7)
{IN HIGH SPIRITS} – a cryptic definition of the state you would be in if you drank too much whisky and gin!

14a Badly wanting to caress Juliet with uniform on, do they come back at ten to two? (4,4)
{HUNG JURY} – put a word meaning badly wanting food around the letters represented in the NATO Phonetic alphabet by Juliet and Uniform – a 10 – 2 verdict is usually insufficient

15a Jarring striking opener (3-3)
{OFF-KEY} – a charade of OFF (striking, as in on strike) and a lock opener

17a Sign for steam/water? (6)
{NOTICE} – neither steam nor water are ICE

19a Swimmer’s ground-breaking power (8)
{TERRAPIN} – inside (breaking) TERRAIN put P(ower) to get this aquatic animal

21a What speaker aims for consignment of chips from America? (5,8)
{CRISP DELIVERY} – a pair of cryptic definitions

24a Amongst duty personnel, see one swagger (7)
{ROISTER} – simply put I (one) inside the list of employees with assigned duties

25a Digital cover (7)
{TOENAIL} – a cryptic definition of the cover for one of your digits!

26a Chief no more? Long story! (4)
{SAGA} – drop “more” from this American Indian chief too get a long story – previous Elgar puzzles have cross-referenced two or more clues, so I was surprised this one was not linked to 1 down

27a One stunning artist about one year back (3-7)
{EYE-CATCHER} – the wordplay here took me a while to resolve as I was looking for an artist’s name, like Maurits Cornelis Escher, and not a type of artist – this stunner comes from ETCHER around ACE (one) and Y(ear) reversed (back)


1d Extra second added on (4)
{MORE} – an extra that comes from MO (second, as in half a mo) and RE (with reference to / on)

2d Enterprise, maybe, I managed to secure from Moscow? (7)
{RUSSIAN} – USS Enterprise (there are others, but the most famous is the fictional spaceship from Star Trek) and I are placed inside (to secure) RAN (managed)

3d Strike bowler’s aim to secure win no better? (3,3,7)
{HIT THE JACKPOT} – there is no better win than this, which is a charade of HIT (strike) THE JACK (bowler’s aim in Sir Francis Drake’s second favourite game) and POT (to secure)

4d Who’s teasingly left clothes hanging up? (8)
{SHOWGIRL} – this all-in-one clue is an anagram, pleasantly indicated by teasingly, followed by L(eft) and RIG (clothes) reversed (hanging up)

5d Sets off with top farewell (5)
{ADIOS} – (R)ADIOS – interestingly we had radios as the answer and adios as part of the wordplay in ST 2502

7d One tops writer in winter sports location (3,4)
{ICE RINK} – a charade of ICER (someone who tops, or kills) and INK (writer)

8d Win gnome in dispute (10)
{GAINSAYING} – another charade – this one combines GAIN (win) and SAYING (gnome as a pithy and sententious saying, not as a dwarf)

11d Check for binder giving strength (13)
{REINFORCEMENT} – the third charade in a row, but who’s counting! – REIN (check) FOR and CEMENT (binder)

13d One blindly charging for chore irons pants (10)
{RHINOCEROS} – I just loved the use of a modern meaning of the word pants as an anagram indicator – by the way CHORE IRONS is the fodder

16d Signal like Holyfield after Tyson had finished snacking (8)
{SEMIOTIC} – a reference to the famous fight in which Evander Holyfield’s ear was bitten by Mike Tyson, leaving him with half an ear or SEMI OTIC – the definition, signal like, as in like the study of signs, signals and symbols is somewhat of an anticlimax

18d After time, get laid up (7)
{TAILING} – the definition here is “after” – T(ime) and AILING get you there

20d Get ready to settle (3,4)
{PAY CASH} – a bit of licence here – to settle with ready (money)

22d Greyish at table for breakfast before 7am? (5)
{EARLY} – this is the clue that gave me the most grief – having just had a pot of Earl Grey tea for breakfast, I really ought to have got there sooner

23d It’s frightful leaving China in the wings (4)
{ALAR} – this really belongs with 6 across – ALAR(MING) is the word meaning frightful from which you need to take Ming (china) to get a word meaning relating to a wing – I don’t fully understand the wordplay here; if the instruction to remove Ming is “leaving China in the wings”, then where is the definition? – but if the instruction is “leaving China” then what is left is “in the wings” not “of the wings”

There are several excellent examples of how to use charades in today’s puzzle.  One of the setters that I met at Sloggers and Betters 5 told me that you should try not split the word(s) in the obvious places – hit / the jack / pot and ice r / ink are good examples of how to wrong-foot the solver.

16 comments on “Toughie 223

  1. I loved this, I like the way Elgar gives a few easy clues to get you started then hits you with the sledgehammer. I loved 8d and 1a.

  2. Spoilt for choice for good clues, today – taken us a fair time but we finished it finally. Liked 16d and 14a

  3. I need to lie down in a very dark room for quite some time.
    Thank you BD for putting me out of my misery, I feel I have regressed 10 years in my crossword solving skills.googoo gaagaa

  4. Nubian,
    The ***** for difficulty are really *****+. this is an Elgar Toughie after all. It reminds me of a Finnish sauna… :-)

    1. Libellule
      Hence the old adage ” A thin line between genius and madness” you decipherers can now call me ‘boy’ if you wish. I feel like I am new to crosswords all over again, can’t wait for next Friday …or can I ?

      1. Thankfully we don’t get an Elgar Toughie every Friday. I don’t think I could cope. On the plus side he never seems to be scheduled for a Tuesday.

  5. Big Dave,
    Just a quickie, I have noticed the use of the letter P for power although in electrical terms it is normally W as in Watts as a unit of Power. Will there be instances when either will be used or is it normally P for power ?

    1. Blame Chambers!

      P symbol

      * (as a medieval Roman numeral) 400
      * (on road signs, etc) parking
      * pawn (in chess)
      * phosphorus (chemistry)
      * power (physics)
      * pressure (physics)

          1. Exactly, as a Watt is a unit of Power as in kilowatts/hr etc.
            I think I’ll stick with P, my old electronics background is getting in the way and my good lady says I have to move on now we are retired.

              1. A rhetorical question that I am sure you meant to be such BD. The same could be said for acronyms I fancy, like the recent WASP or Middle English/middle French words like Viands, surely that is what refernce books are for.
                Do you think we are having a domestic ?

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