Toughie 494

Toughie No 494 by Elgar

The Triple Whammy!

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

Howdoo all!

After two days of being pummelled by Osmosis and Notabilis, we are hit today with the third part of a triple whammy, Elgar, who is full of deviousness as usual. After completing it, I feel like I have been in the ring with David Haye!

I found that this took me a while longer than usual, partly due to the toughness of the clues, but also due to the large number of “double unches” (two unchecked squares together) which didn’t assist with the answers I had trouble with.

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. The clues in blue are those that I particularly enjoyed!


1a    Surprising statement from lie-abed repulses Argie sportsman (4)
{PUMA} If you encountered someone who is a sluggard or sleeps in, they would not say this if you asked them. Reverse this (indicated by “repulse”)     and you get the name of a member of the Argentinian Rugby team.

3a    Cast needs actor of an inferior quality (6-4)
{SECOND-RATE} An anagram of NEEDS ACTOR gives you a description of something that is inferior.

8a    Rome reportedly the ultimate destination of these until time immemorial (6)
{ALWAYS} You need to remember the old saying that “all ways lead to Rome”, though I know it as “all roads”. This sounds like a word that describes things that are eternal.

9a    Misguidedly go with Prague cohort (3,5)
{AGE GROUP} Had to check Chambers with this one. I didn’t realise this was a definition of “cohort”, presumably used in biology. You need to unscramble an anagram of GO PRAGUE to get a phrase that means the term.

10a    The driving force in healthy compound (6)
{HALIDE} A container clue. In psychology, this may be seen to be the driving force of any being. This goes inside a word meaning well, as in “____ and hearty” and gives you the name of a chemical compound.

11a    Tough article secured by wit to bow of yacht (8)
[LEATHERY} The name of a famous wit (think Limericks!) has THE (article) inside and attached to this is Y, the first letter (bow / front) of Yacht. This leads you to a word that can describe the texture of a piece of old steak.

12a    Perhaps middle-of-the-road poetry cheers guide (8)
{LODESTAR} This is Elgar at his most devious! A word meaning some verses and a short word meaning “Cheers!” is deemed as middle-of-the-road, i.e. Left and Right either side.

14a    The old bird functions (4)
{DODO} Double definition clue, where one of the definitions is cryptic. A famous winged creature, now extinct, is made up by the same word repeated that means “function”.

16a    Stroke made by Oxbridge printing house? (4)
{COUP} There are two printing companies in our main university cities, Oxford University Press and the Cambridge University Press. If they produced a joint document (Oxbridge, in the clue) it would be a ___ – University Press production, or in short…. I only worked this from the answers I had in the grid.

18a    Aim for perfection that is repressing energy in surrealist paintings (8)
{IDEALISE} IE often appears in crosswords as “that is”; inside this goes a world that means a collection of paintings by a notable surrealist painter called Salvador. Finally the abbreviation for energy goes inside this and you have a word that means aim for perfection.

19a    Full-bodied Bordeaux, say, swells uneasy girth (8)
{THRIVING} Around a word which is what people in Bordeaux would call their Bordeaux, goes an anagram (uneasy) of GIRTH revealing a word that means full-bodied.

20a    Out rating weaver (6)
{ABLOOM} A rating is a naval term for a sailor and is abbreviated in Crosswordland to AB (able-bodied) and add the name of a machine that weaves and you will see a word meaning out or blossoming

21a    Cube, gift-wrapped? This may be steep (8)
{GRADIENT} One of the most famous crossword clues, which I think may have been written by our beloved Rufus, was Die of Cold? (3, 4). The answer to this is ICE CUBE! The first word of the clue goes inside a word meaning a gift. This reveals our answer which is a name for a slope.

22a    Mythological soldier? Toughie solver might interpret it thus (6)
{ICARUS} This clue has held me up for a very long time, and indeed as I was typing in the fact that I was baffled about it, I saw the explanation of the answer. This is quite a tough cryptic definition and one that some may cry “foul!” over. The key word in this is the second word of the clue. You need to split it so you get “Mythological sol dier” (the question mark tells you to something is a bit dodgy here!). If young Elgar makes it to Derby for the forthcoming gathering, he may just find some solvers waiting to discuss this with him!!

23a    Inevitable recipient of lentil and bean casserole? (5,5)
{TABLE LINEN} Probably my favourite clue of the day. If you make an anagram (casserole) of LENTIL and BEAN you’ll find something that may well receive some of it! As someone who has had a puréed version of it recently, I can well appreciate why!

24a    Shall we? Oh, yes — they lead to reserves (4)
{LETS} A double definition. More word splitting. In tennis, if you serve a let you get a re-serve!

Back in a bit with the downs! I need a strong coffee…….


1d & 19d              Stall for more incomprehensible dramatic work? (4,4,2,3)
{PLAY HARD TO GET}  Another double definition with one part cryptic.  If a drama was incomprehensible it would be this, which is an expression meaning to delay or stall.

2d           Tom, Dick and Harry seducing Parisian husband with love song (8)
{AMARILLO}  ALL (Tom, Dick and Harry) has inside (seduces) MARI (a husband in French) and has O (love) afterwards to get the famous song by T Christie Esq.  Officially the song has the “Is This the Way To” inside brackets, so we will not use a baseball bat on Mr Elgar’s legs next time we bump into each other!   Maybe just a tennis racquet.

3d & 13d              Winter incurs it for dormice, as did the Bristol fire for Mr Park (9,8)
{SUSPENDED ANIMATION}  The Mr Park is Nick of Aardman Animation, home to Wallace & Gromit and another character you shall shortly see!).  They had a fire which made all the papers and caused a loss of production which may be seen as this, which is also a way of describing hibernation.

4d           Old actor kicking out on dancefloor, suppressing giggle (7,8)
{CHARLES LAUGHTON)  A certain actor associated with Notre Dame can be found by taking the name of a 1920’s dance and inserting the sound of enjoying humour.

5d           Lassie’s outstanding heavenly body? Watch paparazzo do this! (7)
{DOGSTAR)        A triple definition, all slightly cryptic.  What Lassie was; a very famous and bright object in the night sky; and what a celeb photographer does in harassment.

6d           Slim-bodied fish-eater aroused by a second lover (8)
{AMORETTO}    After A MO ( a second) reverse the name of a creature who is particularly fond of fish.  This gives you an Italian word for a lothario.

7d & 17d              I0Us? Don’t believe ’em! (5,8)
{EMPTY PROMISES}  A double cryptic definition showing what they both are!

13d         See 3d

15d         Opening may hinge on this or get stuck in point of origin (4-4)
{DOOR-JAMB}  Your point of origin is your date of birth and inside the abbreviation for this goes OR and a word meaning get stuck.  This gives you where you find a hinge at an entrance.

16d         Virgil’s regular focus, support and protection for plant (4,4)
{CELL WALL}  This really held me up to the point of hurling things at walls.  I racked my Latin knowledge of Virgil and ended up concluding it was probably something to do with his Eclogues (poems about the countryside) and even wondered whether he had been imprisoned.  However it was a certain Virgil Hilts (thanks Gazza & Prolixic) and he was of course “The Cooler King” in the film the Great Escape and spent much of his time throwing a ball against his cell wall.

17d         See 7d

18d         Bill’s ready to speak — or sing (7)
{INVOICE}   A word meaning a bill, or when split, what you are if you are eloquent or a good vocalist!

19d         See 1d

One of the issues I had with the downs is that in the newspaper versions, where an answer is spread over a couple of lights, like 1d 19d, then the whole enumeration is usually placed at the first clue.  It’s a bit irritating when solving online to go chasing round the clues for the whole enumeration, especially if it’s one with several words in each entry.

However, a small point, in what was the usual splendid challenge from our ace setter, and it’s the fault of the software not the setter.  I’ll still get him in Derby on your behalf, though!


  1. Qix
    Posted January 14, 2011 at 3:29 pm | Permalink

    This was a properly tough Toughie, the SE corner especially. I also had to “reverse engineer” 22A, having initially entered the answer on the basis that, because of the first word of the clue, nothing else would fit.

    Having said that, it still took me longer than it should have, but bravo to the setter!

    (and good luck to Tilsit with the downs)

  2. gazza
    Posted January 14, 2011 at 3:46 pm | Permalink

    First-class entertainment from Elgar. Thanks to him and to Tilsit for the review, especially for the explanation of 22a (groan) which had me baffled.

  3. honestjohn
    Posted January 14, 2011 at 3:50 pm | Permalink

    We have really been spoilt these last three days – this was another cracking effort which I actually finished unaided although I don’t know how. I even put the right answer in for 22a but had little idea why – now I know so thanks to Tilsit for the explanation. I too was not completely happy with the ‘double unches’ which made it all more difficult but I suppose that’s the point of a ‘Toughie’. Anyway I’m not complaining!

    Many thanks to the setter.

  4. Posted January 14, 2011 at 4:01 pm | Permalink

    Ditto on 22a – the cheeky beggar!
    Thanks to crypicsue for the ding-dong emails that allowed (hopefully both of us!) to complete.
    Many thanks to Tilsit for the demi-review, looking forward to the downs!
    Thanks most of all to Elgar for being a devious swine!

  5. AnnT
    Posted January 14, 2011 at 4:22 pm | Permalink

    6 down – finally! A very tough puzzle today.

    Thanks to Tilsit and Elgar

    • Posted January 14, 2011 at 4:28 pm | Permalink

      I had anorexic in there which held me up for a long time. I couldn’t work out the wordplay, but the same applied to two other clues including 22a.

    • Andy
      Posted January 14, 2011 at 4:42 pm | Permalink

      6d is my last one too but i’m nowhere near working out the word play despite not many words fitting the combination. Eagerly awaiting Tilsits hints. Perhaps if i go and do something else for a bit…..

      • gnomethang
        Posted January 14, 2011 at 4:51 pm | Permalink

        I got that one quite quickly although I missed the ‘a second ‘ bit. I got it from the reversed fish eater. Hope i didn’t spoil the surprise!

        • Andy
          Posted January 14, 2011 at 5:23 pm | Permalink

          I had that word jotted down as a possibility for the reasons you suggest, but have just suffered the worst d’oh moment with the “lover”, I was thinking Italian art only and not the other meaning. Nearly beer o’clock, I think I need one. Thanks for your help

  6. crypticsue
    Posted January 14, 2011 at 4:42 pm | Permalink

    I always look forward to Elgar’s turn in the Toughie cycle as I know my little grey cells will be stretched to the limit as indeed they were today. I got there in the end, aided once I got to the 9 left to go stage by some brainstorming with Gnomethang of the ‘if you explain the wordplay of x, I will give you a hint for y’ variety, followed by confirmatory emails from the other member of the ACC.. Lots of lovely wicked glint clues today -22a being possibly the best (worst?)example of Elgar’s deviousness ever. My favourite however was the 3/13d combo. BIg thanks to Elgar, Tilsit, BD and Gnomethang too.

    • gnomethang
      Posted January 14, 2011 at 4:52 pm | Permalink

      Thanks CS, I would agree on 3/13 as the top clue – I laughed my socks off.

  7. tilly
    Posted January 14, 2011 at 5:12 pm | Permalink

    Really glad that i kept up the struggle and finished this. Some of the answers were pure guesses, i admit, but they enabled me to get other answers. Many many thanks Elgar for a great puzzle and to Tilsit, thus far, for enlightening me on the across wordplay which i missed.

  8. Prolixic
    Posted January 14, 2011 at 5:16 pm | Permalink

    More cunning than…..

    Many thanks to Elgar for a right royal belter of a crossword. 75% of this was relatively straightfoward but the remaining 25% was a joy / torture to behold / solve. I got there in the end but could not fathom the wordplay for 22a. Crypticsue’s comments in e-mails confirmed that the answer was the “obvious” one but I am grateful to Tilsit for the explanation.

    Favourite clue by a long chalk was the 3 / 13d combination.

  9. Andy
    Posted January 14, 2011 at 5:34 pm | Permalink

    With help from gnomethang on 6d I finally finally got there, and thought it was terrific fun. Concur with others re the 3/13 being hilarious but also enjoyed 21and 23a. Being a relative novice may have helped in 22a. Thanks to Tilsit, Gnomethang and Elgar

  10. bakesi
    Posted January 14, 2011 at 5:40 pm | Permalink

    a proper toughie-had a bit of everything including a dubious clue that is really satisfying when you work it out!!

  11. Jezza
    Posted January 14, 2011 at 6:03 pm | Permalink

    After 2 consecutive top quality Toughies, we get another to finish the week. Many thanks to Elgar for the enjoyment, and to Tilsit for the notes. Looking forward to see who is behind T500 Wednesday week!

  12. Uptodat
    Posted January 14, 2011 at 6:42 pm | Permalink

    Mental torture all day. Many thanks! Failed on sol-dier. Guessed cell wall but never got the V Hilts reference despite annual reacquaintance with the film!

  13. gnomethang
    Posted January 14, 2011 at 6:56 pm | Permalink

    May I just put a shout in for Charles Laughton?
    Fine actor, fine clue!

  14. gnomethang
    Posted January 14, 2011 at 6:58 pm | Permalink

    Tilsit, give him one for me, Biffa!

  15. crypticsue
    Posted January 14, 2011 at 7:12 pm | Permalink

    Don’t be too hard on Elgar in Derby – just mention his next crossword and then prepare us all by letting us know the size of the wicked glint in his eye when he talks about it. His Toughies may be extremely tough but there is a great sense of satisfaction when they are done, and alcoholic refreshment to aid recovery is definitely justified – and in my case has been enjoyed :D

  16. BigBoab
    Posted January 14, 2011 at 7:23 pm | Permalink

    I got nowhere with this ( entirely my fault, not the setters) This was like the Elgar of old where I could never finish, still enjoyed trying but have to concede that I am not in the same league as the rest of you. Thanks Elgar for yet again stretching me beyond my limits and Tilsit for the very useful hints.

  17. Pembo
    Posted January 16, 2011 at 1:19 pm | Permalink

    After days of staring at clues and saying “What” repeatedly I finally gave up with the last four and looked at the hints

    Excellent Toughie, more of the same please!!! Loved 3/13 down especially

    Posted January 16, 2011 at 7:43 pm | Permalink

    Thank you so much for the hints re 1a, 16d and 22a – I was at my wits end regarding these prior to visiting this site.

    • Posted January 16, 2011 at 7:48 pm | Permalink

      Welcome to the blog JAEHANCOCK

    Posted January 16, 2011 at 8:11 pm | Permalink

    Thank you Big Dave. I’m not at all blog literate, but I hope I’ll be able to take part in solving some clues. If there are rules to be observed, I’d be grateful to know them.

    • Posted January 16, 2011 at 8:39 pm | Permalink

      I’m sure that you will pick it up as you go. The main rules are don’ts rather than dos.

      Please don’t leave answers or partial answers for weekend prize puzzles.

      We try to avoid discussing solving times (unless they are excessively high) in deference to the variations in solving abilities.

      • Posted January 16, 2011 at 8:41 pm | Permalink

        … and I nearly forgot – if you are replying to a comment, selecting “Reply” on that comment keeps the thread entries together.