Toughie 482

Toughie No 482 by Elgar

Seasonal Rhyme Time!

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

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

1 / 27 / 14 / 17 / 19

12 / 21 / 10 / 26 / 4

28 / 8 / 29 / 10 / 18d / 10 / 23

28 / 8 / 15 / 18d / 10 / then / 34

A suitably seasonal offering from Elgar and one which sits comfortably at the tougher end of the scale. However, I was somewhat derailed by the confusing numbering in the clue format and would probably have welcomed seeing the quote as above. Even with the above, there is also a clever little word play which had me flummoxed for a bit! In this review, I have taken the liberty of diverting from the numbering on line and in the paper to explain the lines of the quote.

I suspect that this will divide the regular Toughie solvers somewhat but I would urge you to persevere and admire the way our setter has managed to get virtually the whole verse into the grid. Unfortunately it was used (very differently) in another newspaper puzzle earlier in the week, which gave me a bit of a head start once I’d seen how 1a 27a worked out.

As usual, the answers are hidden between the curly brackets below each clue, and you should highlight the space between the brackets to reveal all. Favourite clues are in blue. Please 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.

Across

1a & 27a    Present-day message resorted to smirch agnosticism? (…see 14) (9,2,6)
{CHRISTMAS IS COMING} We start with an anagram (indicated by resorted) of TO SMIRCH AGNOSTICISM to give the first part of the quote.

9a    Having swallowed drug, boy’s only a 10? (5)
{CHEAP} Put the usual drug inside a boy or guy to get what describes something costing a 10a

10a    See 21a

11a    Geographical feature visible in Adriatic (3)
{RIA} Don’t go looking in an atlas for this answer, take a look inside the word Adriatic to reveal the name for a river valley.

12a    See 28d

14a, 17d & 19a    (see 1ac…) Such a topical occurrence would make eight-stone gigot feast unlikely! (…see 12) (3,5,2,7,3)
{THE GOOSE IS GETTING FAT} An anagram (indicated by unlikely) of EIGHT STONE GIGOT FEAST gives something that occurs at this time of the year. Not sure about this definition, as in the unlikely event of you not getting other pieces of the rhyme it doesn’t necessarily provide a helpful pointer to the answer.

16a & 20a    Pet united with one of most limited range during engagement (6,3)
{GUINEA PIG} The pop music word for an engagement or booking (GIG) has inside it (indicated by during) U (united) plus I (one) and NEAP (limited range – see Chambers).

18a    A flier up to no good (2,2)
{AT IT} A and the name for a bird when split down the middle, gives an expression meaning up to no good, or even, to use a euphemism, be on the job!

19a    See 14a

20a    See 16a

21a, 10a, 26a & 4d    (12…) Having PhD (no apathy), unsentimental poor beggar’s request (…28 8 29 10 18dn 10 23…) (3,1,5,2,3,3,4,3)
{PUT A PENNY IN THE IN THE OLD MAN’S HAT} An anagram (indicated by poor) of PHD NO APATHY UNSENTIMENTAL gives you a request that may be put to you by a beggar.

23a    Pleasure act? I shall comply (4,2)
{WILL DO} A noun meaning pleasure or is added to one for an act or deed to give an expression meaning I’ll comply and carry out instructions.

26a    See 21a

27a    See 1a

31a    Japanese sash’s charm (3)
{OBI}    I’d guess every seasoned crossword solver has bumped into the word for a Japanese sash over the years. I hadn’t realised it had a second meaning though. In fact it has a third meaning, too, if you check your Big Red Book!

32a    Ray Charles finally kissed girl in play? In play 9 this may be Scrooge (5)
{SKATE} Clever surface reading, and nothing to do with the crooner. S (The last letter of CHARLES) is added to the name of a famous girl in a musical (not a play – that was Taming of the Shrew) who was kissed. If you add the answer at 9a to this one you may get a description of Dickens’ festive character.

33a    Reading of Yeats novel thus far (2,3)
{AS YET} An anagram (indicated by novel) of YEATS gives an expression meaning “thus far”.

34a    (See 12…) (28 8 15 18dn 10, then…) Glorification? Silly bloody guess! (3,5,3)
{GOD BLESS YOU} An anagram (indicated by silly) of BLOODY GUESS gives an expression of glorification, or something you could say after hearing a sneeze!

Down

1d    Pancake 99% have eaten up (5)
{CREPE} This held me up for some time, but remembering our setter’s devious habits, I wrote the clue out in longhand. Lo and behold! Hidden backwards (shown by up) in NINETY NINE PER CENT is the word for a type of pancake. I shall get you at playtime Mr Elgar!

2d    Quickly return mail with Royal Institution heading and seal for envelope (7)
{RIPOSTE} A word meaning MAIL is preceded by the abbreviation for the Royal Institution. Added after this goes E (the seal for envelope). This gives a word meaning quickly respond or return.

3d    30-day tribal division (4)
{SEPT} Another double definition. The name of a month with 30 days (should this have something to say it’s shortened?) is also a Gaelic word for a tribal division. A new definition on me.

4d    See 21a

5d    Weather broadcaster (3)
{SKY} A double definition meaning the weather and Mr Murdoch’s soon-to-be-officially-his TV company.

6d    Loud disagreement punctuates slur of characters with 32d 30d (9)
{SORROWFUL} A word meaning a bust-up or disagreement goes inside an anagram (indicated by characters?) of SLUR OF gives a word meaning 32d + 30d.

7d    Porgy and Bess’s ultimate competition (4)
{SCUP} Another clever surface reading. S (the ultimate, i.e. last letter of BESS) + the name for a (sporting) competition or trophy. This gives you a synonym for the Porgy, which I bet you knew is a fish. Ok. You didn’t. You do now!

8d    Peaceful place and time are lacking (6)
{HAVEN’T) A word for an oasis of calm has T (for time) added to it to give an apostrophised word meaning to be lacking.

13d    Some European ready to knuckle under in part (3)
{LEU} “Ready” here means money. The name of a European currency is hidden in “to knuckle under”. In fact, it’s the Romanian currency!

15d    Understood energy and temperature (3)
{GOT} A word sum comprising a definition of energy, plus the abbreviation for Temperature equals a word meaning understood.

17d    See 14a

18d    Mata Hari’s expression of surprise (3)
{AHA}    Hidden in the name of the spy is the expression for surprise, i.e. Mata Hari.

20d    Corrupt RAF flier is aboard (6)
{POISON} A word sum. An abbreviation for Pilot Officer (a member of the RAF) has IS plus ON (aboard) to give a word meaning to corrupt. I did spend time trying to find POON as a nickname for an RAF flier, thinking “aboard” was the indicator that IS was inside it. Doh!!

21d    Dish improbably located in 5? (3)
{PIE}    The name for a dish which when used in the expression “___ in the 5 down” means improbable.

22d    ‘What’s the Story?’ It’s unbelievable without its 11th letter (4,3)
{TELL ALL} Another one I worked out from crossing letters, and then went back and worked out the answer. A really clever clue. A word meaning unbelievable (Think of the expression ___ TALE meaning a made –up story!) has the eleventh letter of the word “unbelievabLe” spelt out inside.

24d    One very sensational conjugation (7)
{ISOGAMY} A word sum where the whole sentence also defines the answer. I (one) + SO (very) + GAMY (sensational) gives the name of an unconventional type of relationship.

25d    Fellow Northern banker (3)
{DON} A double definition. A word meaning a fellow is a river (in Crosswordland, the word banker is used like the word “flower”) in Northern England.

28d & 12a    Piously, a fee unsettled, for certain (2,3,6)
{IF YOU PLEASE} An anagram (indicated by unsettled) of PIOUSLY A FEE leads you to an expression meaning for certain.

29d    Leave with appreciation for Swedish river (4)
{GOTA} Another wordsum. A word meaning to leave is added to a word meaning thanks or appreciation to give the name of a river or canal inSweden.

30d    One’s released duck on Southern loch (4)
{NESS} If you remove (release) O (duck, in cricket) from ONES and add S for Southern, you’ll get the name of one of the most famous lochs in Scotland.

32d    Blue — not quite up (3)
{SAD} Even with the last clue, Elgar can’t resist being naughty! Almost the whole of the word (indicated by not quite) for the symbol after the word “Blue” in the clue is reversed to give a word meaning “blue” or depressed.

In fact being picky, there are two dashes in the online version of the clue!

And so gentle reader, we come to the end of today’s seasonal puzzle. I am off to lie down in a darkened room in a strait-jacket to try and sleep off this challenge. Alternatively I shall polish and sharpen a mace for when I next meet Elgar!

Can I take this opportunity to wish everyone the happiest of Christmases and every good wish for the New Year.

20 Comments

  1. crypticsue
    Posted December 24, 2010 at 2:43 pm | Permalink

    I was looking forward to a Christmas Eve Toughie from Elgar and wasn’t disappointed. Once I got the ‘long’ answers, I completed the whole thing in a record time for a Toughie and definitely a word record time for an Elgar. Bet that wicked glint was back in his eye when he spoke about this one! I also quite liked the way the ‘easy’ three letter words helped with the whole thing. I did need the alphabet and Chambers to make sure 7d and 24d did exist. Thank you Elgar for a fun brain workout and Happy Christmas to you and Jane.

    Thanks to Tilsit for the review – Merry Christmas to you and I hope that 2011 brings continued improvement in your health so that we can enjoy even more of your reviews.

    Back to peeling sprouts!

  2. honestjohn
    Posted December 24, 2010 at 2:51 pm | Permalink

    Having read just the across clues I thought it was most unlikely that I would be able to finish today’s puzzle. But the down clues were kinder and, one by one, I managed to find the answers. In the end, when the overall theme became clear, it became possible to fill in large chunks at a time until to my surprise I had finished the whole thing. I must say very enjoyable indeed and not as hard as I first thought.

    Now back to yesterday’s which I haven’t quite finished yet.

    Season’s greetings to all setters, Helpers and bloggers!

  3. Dickiedot
    Posted December 24, 2010 at 2:56 pm | Permalink

    What fun, surprised myself, needed Tilsit’s help with 24d and I’ve never heard of 12d. Thanks Elgar and Tilsit, Happy Christmas to one and all

    • Posted December 24, 2010 at 3:15 pm | Permalink

      12d had me puzzled as well !!! Did you mean 13d?

      • Dickiedot
        Posted December 24, 2010 at 5:20 pm | Permalink

        Oppps sorry, yes I meant 13d

  4. Qix
    Posted December 24, 2010 at 3:25 pm | Permalink

    Excellent puzzle, intricately woven by Elgar. Five stars!

  5. Prolixic
    Posted December 24, 2010 at 3:30 pm | Permalink

    Sensational work of art. Merry Christmas to Elgar and Jane and to Tilsit.

  6. Peg
    Posted December 24, 2010 at 4:24 pm | Permalink

    Quite the most interesting and satisfying crossword I have ever done! Thank you Elgar.

    • Posted December 24, 2010 at 4:27 pm | Permalink

      We’ve missed you Peg – your last comment was over six months ago!

      • Franco
        Posted December 24, 2010 at 5:47 pm | Permalink

        Peg! Big Brother is always watching you!

  7. BigBoab
    Posted December 24, 2010 at 4:58 pm | Permalink

    Wonderful seasonal offering from Elgar, a 5* toughie if ever there was one. Thank you Elgar and Tilsit and a Merry Christmas to you both.

  8. gnomethang
    Posted December 24, 2010 at 5:13 pm | Permalink

    A superb seasonal offering from Elgar and a great review from Tilsit which improved greatly my own understanding.
    Merry Christmas to Tilsit, JohnH and his better half, Jane

    • crypticsue
      Posted December 24, 2010 at 6:00 pm | Permalink

      Loving the seasonal change of hat :D

  9. brencar
    Posted December 24, 2010 at 5:25 pm | Permalink

    I didn’t think I would have any chance of completing this when I first looked at it but in the end I managed all but 7d and 32a without having to look here for help. An amazingly brilliant creation! I’m off to start on the sherry and mince pies now. Seasons greetings to all.

  10. Dynamic
    Posted December 24, 2010 at 5:38 pm | Permalink

    Wow! That was as tough as expected, to understand the wordplay at least, and it took me longer than it should have to unravel the whole of the rhyme (got it bit by bit). Having visited Romania I only thought the currency ended with an I, but there are three versions in Chambers, and I’d certainly never heard of a porgy, let alone its alternative name. The last couple of days have seen Chambers well-thumbed indeed!

    That was one amazing piece of grid-filling, and a good variety of cluing, especially to get so much seasonal flavour in a really tough challenge.

    In the printed version (which my PinC has, so I can’t check it now) I’m sure 9a was indicated as (5,5) which confused me. Perhaps it was originally clued as linked with 32a (Ray Charles…) ? I hadn’t twigged the punctuation in 32d and was instead looking for a synonym of ‘up’ to shorten.

    Thank you and Merry Christmas to Elgar, Tilsit all readers and their loved-ones.

    • Posted December 24, 2010 at 7:15 pm | Permalink

      You are correct about 9a in the print version of the puzzle – it looks like some pre-publication editing took place!

  11. pegasus
    Posted December 24, 2010 at 7:20 pm | Permalink

    What a brilliant rendition from Elgar today, absolutely fantastic I completed it around lunchtime and I felt ecstatic.

    Thanks to Tilsit for a superb review and thanks to everyone at Daves crossword blog for the best website on the net.

    • Posted December 24, 2010 at 7:23 pm | Permalink

      Welcome to the blog pegasus

      If you’re going to leave comments like that you can come back (again and again)

  12. tilly
    Posted December 24, 2010 at 7:41 pm | Permalink

    Finally sat down to do this and am delighted I did. An absolute corker of a puzzle. Thanks Elgar and Tilsit for the review.

    As i started in the SE corner I initially ‘went wassailing’ with 34a but as I went on all became clear. Time for a glass of something festive and a mince pie! Merry Christmas and good health to one and all.

  13. nanaglugglug
    Posted December 24, 2010 at 9:04 pm | Permalink

    Just me then! Don’t know whether it was the fact that we were doing from the paper but found it very irritating having to go from clue to clue – Sorry folks! Bah Humbug, but Happy Christmas anyway!!!!!