Toughie 322

Toughie No 322 by Elgar

Under pressure!

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

I feel awful about this. Time constraints mean I’m writing this review in a desperate rush, so I can’t be as expansive as usual in my comments.

This was a tough one for me, the NW corner taking an age to fall into place. Some wordplay I didn’t understand at the time of completing the grid but, on reflection, it’s the usual mix of entertaining wickedness from Elgar – a fine, occasionally naughty, but ultimately satisfying challenge.

My favourite clues are in blue.

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1a    Dives where one could obtain passionate snog, maybe? (9)
{MONEYBAGS} The sneaky “Dives” definition is the name of a biblical character, at whose gates Lazarus lay; his name is used to describe any very rich person. To find the answer, make an anagram (“passionate” is the oblique indicator) of SNOG MAYBE.

9a    Discharge, in equal quantities, mysteries and secrets (6)
{ARCANA} For our answer (mysteries and secrets) we take a type of electrical discharge and add ANA – in recipes and prescriptions this word means “in equal quantities”.

10a    Tights rolled back, so slap in face? (9)
{PANTIHOSE} Having laboured unsuccessfully to explain this one I discovered I’d mis-spelt the answer (with a Y not an I). The wordplay uses SO HIT (“so slap”) reversed inside PANE (which Chambers defines as the flat face of something).

11a    A problem for Mr Magoo’s year’s work in the end, on reflection (6)
{MYOPIA} The cartoon character Mr Magoo was very short-sighted. For his condition, place Y (year) and OP (opus = work) inside a reversal of a synonym for “end” as in “purpose”.

12a    Emergency measures taken to suspend 2 in the end, on reflection (9)
{MORATORIA} The same synonym for “end” is used here as well, and also reversed, and also a container. What it contains is the answer at 2 down, the whole answer being defined as “Emergency measures taken to suspend”.

13a    Leggy robot’s dramatic origin in the Golden State (6)
{CRURAL} I’m puzzling over R=robot here, but suspect there may be a film/literary reference. Anyway, to that add UR-, a prefix denoting primitive/original, Robot’s dramatic origin is RUR (Rossum’s Universal Robots, from a play by Karel Čapek), place this inside an abbreviation for “the Golden State”. [thanks to Gazza and Shep for putting us right.  BD]

17a    Do time, just after Bill (3)
{ACT} Nice little clue using the abbreviation for “time” placed after that for “account” (bill). This gives an answer meaning “to do”.

19a    In getting busy with iron and wood, saucy “Ready for me yet?” (3,1,2,3,3,3)
{CAN I DO YOU NOW SIR} This is a combined anagram using IN and IRON and WOOD SAUCY.

20a    One branching into gospel music (3)
{ELM} A crafty definition of the answer, “one branching” means a tree, whose name is hidden in “gospel music”.

21a    Flexible factory worker? (6)
{PLIANT} One of those naughty, liberty-taking clues without which no Elgar puzzle would be complete. In the wordplay, you have to interpret “factory worker” as ONE who can be found in a PLANT.

25a    Get perplexed, when Gaelic-speaking location’s found in German river (9)
{EMBARRASS} Some geographical knowledge is needed here. The Gaelic-speaking location is a Scottish island south of South Uist, and this is placed inside EMS, the name of a German river.

26a    “Wee sleekit, cow’rin’ tim’rous beastie…” written thus, but not in Old English well-known (6)
{FAMOUS} The “Wee sleekit…” quote was a description OF A MOUSE. From the outside edges of that, remove the abbreviations for “Old” and “English”.

27a    Do others like me hang around together online? It’s all the same (5,4)
{DITTO MARK} Another crafty use of “do” – here, it’s the abbreviation for a punctuation mark which essentially says “same again”! The rest of the clue is basically a cryptic definition describing how the device is used.

28a    At least three hoops oil seals (1-5)
{O-RINGS} More Elgar adventurousness! If a hoop can be represented as O, then counting up the components in this answer would indicate that there are at least three of them.

29a    Top performer applied to director about elusive weighing machine (9)
{STEELYARD} A top performer is a STAR, which is followed by the single-letter abbreviation for “director” – this is placed around a word meaning “elusive” or “slippery”.


2d    He speaks in favour of Cameron, say, from the heart (6)
{ORATOR} Like 26a our wordplay starts with a phrase which can mean “in favour of Cameron, say”. From the heart of FOR A TORY we can see the answer.

3d    Catch the other half up? Not quite (6)
{ENTRAP} Take a word meaning “the other half” (a person with whom you have a relationship) and reverse it, then take away the last letter.

4d & 6d How angler/shepherd must get the work done? (2,4,2,2,5)
{BY HOOK OR BY CROOK} The answer, meaning “by employing whatever methods” has two words in it which are items used by, respectively, an angler and a shepherd.

5d    It’s glitterati’s top compulsions that do for me (6,9)
{GOSSIP COLUMNIST} Lovely Semi-&Lit clue using an anagram of the G, top of “glitterati”, and  TOP IT’S COMPULSIONS. The answer is a type of journalist.

6d    See 4d

7d    Unfavourable reaction to The Wets Down Under? (5,4)
{NAPPY RASH} A cracking cryptic definition; “The wets down under” refers to a wee problem for infants.

8d    Spanish gent needs taxi in Paris to go round (9)
{CABALLERO} This appears to be the first straight charade of the puzzle. Start with a 3-letter word for a taxi, then the French verb meaning “to go”, then a letter which is “round”.

14d    War base for officers not quick to comprehend international appearance by a Fellow (5,4)
{SCAPA FLOW} Start with the opposite of “quick” and place this around (so it “comprehends” – takes in) CAP (in sport, an international appearance), A and F(ellow).

15d    As postman, terminally, ill: “I am unable to deliver it” (5,4)
{SNAIL MAIL} Although “unable” isn’t an ideal anagram indicator it does a great job here in working the fodder into a great clue. Take AS, N (the “terminal” letter of “postman”), ILL, I and AM, then arrange them all for a phrase used to describe non-electronic postal communications.

16d & 22d Historic fortress for Scots and English butchers, leading to ruin (9,6)
{EDINBURGH CASTLE} The answer is an anagram of BUTCHERS LEADING. “English”, since it’s available in the fodder, really fooled me – but the place in question is of importance to both Scottish and English so this Elgar chucking in a devilish red herring.

17d    Listening to i-Player, admitting “yes” (3)
{AYE} Two bits of wordplay for your money! The answer means “yes”. It sounds like “I”, and it’s also hidden in “Player”.

18d    Endlessly perplex corporation (3)
{TUM} Another that took a while to spot because for “endlessly” I was trying to take the last letter away from something; instead, we need to take both first and last letters away from a word meaning “to perplex” (or a single piece of wood used in a cricket match).

22d    See 16d

23d    Happy — he’s not, definitely not happy … not before politician’s tucked into Swiss cheese (6)
{GRUMPY} A sort of reversed wordplay in which a subtraction is indicated before the total wordplay to which it applies. Put MP (politician) inside a type of Swiss cheese, then remove (from the end) a poetic word meaning “before”.

24d    On the mobile, you are certain to crack moneylender (6)
{USURER} If you send someone a text on your mobile “you are” is likely to be abbreviated to two letters. Place these around a word meaning “certain” to give the answer, a moneylender.

Sorry this has been such a rush; I’ve just taken on another crossword contract, plus I’m away much of this weekend, so there’s lots of last-minute stuff going on. I’ll bob in as and when time (and my laptop) lets me.


  1. gazza
    Posted March 19, 2010 at 1:56 pm | Permalink | Reply

    13a. R.U.R. is a science fiction play in the Czech language by Karel Čapek which coined the term robot (hence “robot’s dramatic origin”). It stands for Rossum’s Universal Robots.

  2. Posted March 19, 2010 at 1:58 pm | Permalink | Reply

    18d. I got the endless connection, but what has this got to do with corporation?

    • BigBoab
      Posted March 19, 2010 at 1:59 pm | Permalink | Reply

      A tum or tummy is sometimes known as a corporation.

    • Posted March 19, 2010 at 2:00 pm | Permalink | Reply

      It’s another crossword stalwart – corporation = stomach = tum(my)

      • Posted March 19, 2010 at 2:08 pm | Permalink | Reply

        We live and learn. But I thought we didn’t include the answer in comments?

        • gazza
          Posted March 19, 2010 at 2:49 pm | Permalink | Reply

          That rule only applies for the prize (weekend) puzzles.

          • Posted March 19, 2010 at 3:04 pm | Permalink | Reply

            As I said, we live and learn! Thanks for the clarification, Gazza. And while I’ve got you, though I got the correct solution for 28a, I wasn’t sure why, and I’m none-the-wiser despite the explanation above. Can you help?

            • gazza
              Posted March 19, 2010 at 3:11 pm | Permalink | Reply

              There’s one O (hoop) followed by at least two rings (hoops) (at least two because it’s a plural) in the answer, making a minimum of three.

              • Posted March 19, 2010 at 3:16 pm | Permalink | Reply

                Very enigmatic of me, if you’ll pardon the Elgar connection!

    • Posted March 19, 2010 at 2:03 pm | Permalink | Reply

      I wonder how both Big Boab and I both knew that one!

  3. BigBoab
    Posted March 19, 2010 at 1:58 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Brilliant crossword from Elgar, I loved 5d,7d and 19a. I did not get 1a or 12a till I read your clues however.A big thanks to Elgar and to Anax.

  4. Moose
    Posted March 19, 2010 at 2:04 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Would not 5d be an anagram of ‘its g compulsions’?

    • gazza
      Posted March 19, 2010 at 2:38 pm | Permalink | Reply

      Hi Moose – welcome to the blog.

    • Posted March 19, 2010 at 2:45 pm | Permalink | Reply

      The sub-editor (me) missed that one!

  5. shep
    Posted March 19, 2010 at 2:06 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Re 13a – RUR refers to Rossums Universal Robots, a play by Karel Capek

    • gazza
      Posted March 19, 2010 at 2:38 pm | Permalink | Reply

      Hi shep – welcome to the blog.

  6. Chris
    Posted March 19, 2010 at 4:08 pm | Permalink | Reply

    7d is just brilliant.
    13ac is really obscure
    9ac was too difficult
    What a great crossword. 5* .
    Wonderful pictures too Anax….what would we have got if you had more time??

  7. Shrike1313
    Posted March 19, 2010 at 4:54 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Looking forwards to working through this one with the hints. Many thanks, Anax.

  8. Shrike1313
    Posted March 19, 2010 at 5:17 pm | Permalink | Reply

    I have to say that many of these clues are delightfully witty – something which is often missing from the standard cryptic. Too hard for me without the hints, but at least I can appreciate them.

    • Shrike1313
      Posted March 19, 2010 at 5:30 pm | Permalink | Reply

      I knew I had come across the word for 8d before…

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