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Toughie 420

Toughie No 420 by Elgar

The Codfather

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

To get an Elgar on a Wednesday is a bit of a surprise and a real treat. The puzzle is packed full of inventive and witty clues and I loved it.
Your comments, as always, are welcome and please remember to click on one of the stars below to show how much you enjoyed it.

Across Clues

8a  In flagrante delicto carpenter in noted workplace of Elvis impersonator? (4,4)
{CHIP SHOP} – we want the place where the guy who swore that he was Elvis worked in the song (noted). Start with the usual nickname for a carpenter, and if he’s caught in the act (in flagrante delicto) he’s on the HOP. That’s my best shot at explaining the wordplay – any better suggestions gratefully received.

ARVE Error: need id and provider

9a  Batty Kelvin on Platform No 3? (6)
{ANORAK} – a brilliant all-in-one which gives me the perfect excuse to show yet again one of my favourite pictures. We want the forename of Ms. Batty (she of the wrinkled stockings in Last of the Summer Wine) followed by the abbreviation for Kelvin, all coming after the third letter of plAtform.

10a  Inquire how we may sometimes represent king (3)
{ASK} – when we don’t represent him as R, then ……

11a  I make better hinges for emergency exit (4,4)
{FIRE DOOR} – the definition is emergency exit. Put I and a verb meaning improve inside (hinges) FOR.

12a  Contrary reference describing bovine type not from these parts (6)
{EXOTIC} – we want a verb meaning to quote or reference with a bovine animal inside. Now reverse the lot (contrary) to make an adjective meaning originating in a foreign country (not from these parts).

13a  Painfully gratifying Pretoria party at which old girl, very fashionable, commands top position (15)
{SADOMASOCHISTIC} – the definition is painfully gratifying and it’s a description of sexual activities where pleasure is obtained through pain. Start with a South African (i.e. in Pretoria) party and add an informal way of addressing an elderly lady (old girl), SO (very) and a synonym for fashionable around (commands) first (top position).

15a  A medic finding route back from glands (7)
{ADRENAL} – this is an adjective denoting a pair of ductless glands above the kidneys. String together A, an abbreviation for a medic and a minor road (route) which has to be reversed (back).

18a  What’s classified motorway entering Soap City from the East (5,2)
{SMALL AD} – what you’d find in the classified listings in a newspaper is the name of a Texan oil city (home to JR and his lovely wife, Swellin’ in the TV soap) which is reversed (from the east, in an across clue) with M(otorway) entering it.

21a  Predictor’s at cup knockout — one may be sent abroad (7,8)
{PICTURE POSTCARD} – an anagram (knockout) of PREDICTOR’S AT CUP.

24a  Warning sound done with spirit (6)
{ALARUM} – an old word for a warning is a French expression meaning prepared or cooked in a specified way (done with) and an alcoholic spirit.

25a  Spooner’s smashing balls on the table, requiring a bar of soap (8)
{WOOLPACK} – the term bar of soap in cryptic crosswords normally needs to be read as “the name of a pub in a soap opera” and the one we want is that of the ITV soap Emmerdale. If the Rev. Spooner were to attempt to say its name he might come up with “pool whack” (smashing balls on the table).

26a  Reduce times getting seen in Casualty? (3)
{AXE} – put the letter used to signal multiplied by (times) inside the letters that we use as an abbreviation for the casualty department in a hospital.

27a  Ship with one on straight and narrow (6)
{LINEAR} – a luxurious passenger ship has A (one) put inside to make an adjective describing something straight and narrow.

28a  Direction for one loading Aussie skip (8)
{POINTING} – I initially thought that Aussie skip was going to be a kangaroo, but it’s actually the surname of the current Australian cricket captain that we want. Put I (one) inside (loading).

Down Clues

1d  Bruce’s girl has troubles holding position up (6)
{SHEILA} – the name of the archetypal Australian woman is an anagram (troubles) of HAS which contains a position (on the fairway at a golf course, say) reversed (up, in a down clue).

2d  Went to stop very good clock (6)
{SPEEDO} – put a verb meaning went (in a lavatorial sense) inside (to stop) a short word for very good to get the abbreviation for an instrument on a car’s dashboard (clock).

3d  Binnable appeal from examination candidate that one doesn’t think to mention (9,6)
{THROWAWAY REMARK} – a comment that you make on the spur of the moment without thinking is a charade of an adjective describing a consumer product with a limited life (binnable) and an appeal from an examination candidate to the examiner to reassess his work.

4d  One responsible for the death of cock fights (7)
{SPARROW} – this is a cryptic definition of the creature who slew the robin with a bow and arrow in the nursery rhyme. It’s made up of two separate words meaning fight [Thanks Roger]. Here, specially for Big Boab, is Janet Shaw:

ARVE Error: need id and provider

5d  To ensure present is very satisfying, produce bespoke vacuum flask right away! (4,3,4,2,2)
{MAKE THE MOST OF IT} – we want a phrase meaning to take full advantage of the current situation (present). It’s a verb meaning to manufacture (produce), a proprietary brand of vacuum flask without the R (right away) and a synonym (2,3) for bespoke.

6d  Huge deficit in solid fuel (8)
{COLOSSAL} – probably the easiest clue in the puzzle – put a deficit inside solid fuel to make an adjective meaning huge.

7d  Quartz, say, laid underneath airline hall (8)
{BASILICA} – put a hard, colourless compound of which quartz is an example (say) after (laid underneath, in a down clue) the airline which once called itself the world’s favourite to make a large, oblong hall.

14d  Cockchafer of gold (3)
{DOR} – this is nothing to do with uncomfortable, gold lamé underpants. It’s simply a kind of beetle (cockchafer) and it’s how you would say “of gold” in French.

16d  Part of routine that can be a bore? (5,3)
{DRILL BIT} – double definition – what, cryptically, could be part of a training session (routine) is the removable cutting and boring part of a tool used for making holes.

17d  N Eurasian country’s sound new line, when it’s pressed? (5,3)
{ENTER KEY} – put together the sound of N and a country that is partly in Europe and partly in Asia to form what you press to terminate one line of text and start a new one.

19d  Country — where double agent’s heart is (3)
{LEA} – a word meaning open country appears at the heart of double agent.

20d  Reversible seats roughly put outside having been given a reversible brush? (7)
{UPSWEPT} – reverse the seats in a church inside an anagram (roughly) of PUT to make an adjective meaning brushed upwards which means the same thing if you reverse the two syllables.

22d  Writer and manic-depressive top actor covers up (6)
{CAPOTE} – we want the surname of a prolific American author (he wrote Breakfast at Tiffany’s) who suffered from a personality disorder. The name is hidden (covers) and reversed (up) in the clue.

23d  Playmaker competin’ with energy (6)
{RACINE} – this playmaker is a seventeenth century French dramatist. We want a truncated synonym for competing (in a motor sport event, say) followed by E(nergy).

There are too many enjoyable clues to list them all, but I really liked 11a, 13a, 18a, 28a and 2d, with my clue of the day being 9a. Let us know what you thought in a comment.

29 comments on “Toughie 420

  1. Super puzzle today, with many excellent clues. I found this less tough than the last Elgar puzzle I tackled!
    The bottom right corner held me up the longest, and my last clue solved was 28a. 9a (very good!) also had me troubled for a while, as did the wordplay for 2d.
    Many thanks to Elgar, and to Gazza for the notes.

  2. Brilliant crossword from Elgar, favourite clue for me was 2d, it made me laugh. Super review from Gazza.

  3. Fantastic fun and frolics from Elgar today. Many thanks to him for the crossword and to Gazza for the review. Favourite clues 13a, 2d, 9a, 28a, etc…

  4. After yesterday’s Toughie – Out with the electronic aids! Even this couldn’t help with 13a. Excellent puzzle from Elgar even though I relied heavily upon Gazza’s superb review for full explanation of the wordplay in many clues. Special thanks for “bar of soap” definition.

    PS! Why “Codfather”

    1. Codfather was a pretty poor, last minute attempt to come up with some sort of pun to do with chip shop. It was either that or some reference to Australia which features in two clues, or cock (two clues also, but I didn’t want to go there!).
      If you can come up with something better, I’ll change it!

  5. Gazza, I would like to recommend the “You Tube ” recording of one Janet Shaw singing the Duncan MacRae song ” the Wee Cock Sparra (sparrow)” for 4d although I don’t suppose many Sassenachs would understand it.

  6. Not quite as enthused as the regulars above. Bar of Soap was someone else’s famous clue (Rufus?) and mentioned in articles on the Cryptic Crossword when it was 6, 6 Rovers Return, I think, a few years back. Today I tended more to go along with the 3* CluedUp rating.

  7. Excellent puzzle from Elgar today – after a slow start I got into the groove but cant believe that I failed on 11a despite understanding the clue!.
    Loads of favourite clues but 28a made me laugh/groan the most.
    Many thanks to gazza and to Elgar for the fun.

  8. The Chairman, re Bar of Soap:

    Indeed it was, and I had permission to use it, from Rufus himself. Having said that, it’s a different bar, and a different clue, as with a variant of Taupi’s “Bottle Party” for NO CAN DO in last week’s Thursday Indy. Same idea, different clues.

    Great clues are worthy of re-use, if not repetition, as I see it…

    …although I try to write my own!


    1. Could someone, please, provide the solution and explanation of the Taupi clue? After tackling Toughie No 420, my brain hurts and my electronic friend needs new batteries. Thank you in anticipation!

      1. I didn’t see the clue, but from Elgar’s comment it looks as if a bottle party is a do without cans, i.e. a no can do.

  9. I had smashing balls on the table as bashing smalls on the table and with the reference to soap was looking for another name for a washoboard!! Doh!!
    Had me beat today.
    8a Would it be partly to do with a Chippy getting his end away ie chip?
    Can I say that?

  10. Excellent puzzle. Did all but 7 on the Isle of Wight Ferry and with cogitation managed the rest before we arrived home. Too many clues to list but I did like 13a particularly. Thanks Elgar and Gazza

  11. Am I being curmudgeonly for complaining about 9ac? I got the answer and had a good laugh about it, but if the word batty is being used in the wordplay (for Nora), then how can it also be the definition? Is this now acceptable practice? Other than that, once again a brilliant effort from Elgar, well worthy of its 5-star rating for enjoyment! Er, yes . . . I think I’m a curmudgeon!

    1. It’s an all-in-one clue where the whole clue is the definition, so the definition isn’t batty but trainspotter.

      1. I see it now – and the reason for the question mark at the end of the clue. My thinking was that anorak was being used to describe someone with an obsessive interest in trivia and hence being batty about something. I live and learn. Thanks Gazza.

  12. Late, late posting. On Hols in (intemittently) sunny N Devon. Driving around a lot meant less time for crosswords.
    Had to cram Tues Toughie, Wednesdays quickie and cryptic,and an Elgar Toughie into one evening.
    My head was throbbing.
    However, for only the second time ever, I virtually completed Elgar’s toughie, without the above hints! 17d and 22d eluded me, mainly through lack of time for research. I struggle to get onto Elgar’s wavelength. Perhaps this was one of his easier ones!

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