Toughie 518 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 518

Toughie No 518 by Elgar

Got any small change, guv?

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

It’s that time of the month again.  Time to wrestle with Elgar and today there was a nice mixture of the laugh-out loud and the sublimely clever.  Did you spot the hidden theme?  If not, look again at 3 down!  One or two definitions that had me reaching for Mrs Bradford’s wonderful Dictionary.

Unfortunately a complicated day today means I have had to call on Big Dave to assist with the downs.

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. My favourite clues are posted in blue.


1a    Means of defence of old sweats put up here on river (12)
{QUARTERSTAFF} This was my first reach for the Bradford’s. “Old Sweats” here does double duty. You need to find somewhere that “old sweats” get put up and add to it the name of a famous Welsh river. This gives you something that very old sweats use to defend themselves.

8a    View duck on wing (7)
{OPINION} Another word sum. O = duck (nothing in cricket) is added to a word that means a wing, as in feathers, to reveal a word meaning a view.

9a    Picture exit from tournament? (5-2)
{CLOSE-UP} This is quite a tricky explain. Basically the clue has a definition (PICTURE), but the remainder of the clue is a cryptic charade to the answer. The question mark indicates something is a “bit dodgy” about the “exit from tournament” If you were do that, you’d lose in (the) cup. And if you put LOSE inside CUP you get…..

11a    Where there’s a will, there’s a way to get at Peg on circuit (7)
{TESTATE} This one made my brain hurt. Basically ST (a way) + AT with the word for a golfing Peg going round (i.e. on circuit). This gives a word meaning to leave a will when you pop your clogs.

12a    Animal love, maybe? Let me think… (7)
{OPOSSUM} Another way to say nothing, this time in tennis is “love”, hence O. Add to this an abbreviation for maybe and something you say as an expression when you are hesitating. This gives you the name of a small creature.

13a    Less masculine over Pond (5)
{MINUS} A word meaning “less” in a mathematical sense is found by taking an abbreviation for masculine and adding to it an expression meaning over (the big) Pond, i.e. in America or in short…..

14a    Not being able to move past best friend (9)
{STALEMATE} A word that actually originated in the game of chess as a term meaning that you can’t move without losing the game. A word meaning “past” is added to the word for a friend.

16a    Retiring king crosses gorge for a stretch too far (9)
{OVEREXERT} The three-letter abbreviation for a king is reversed and goes inside a word meaning to gorge or stuff oneself, but replaces the letter A inside. This is shown by “for a” in the clue.

19a    Long story describing earth’s origin (5)
{YEARN} A word for a story, especially a shaggy-dog tale, goes around E (Earth’s origin) to give you a word meaning to long.

21a    Red Cross infiltrates Iran, supply dispatched (7)
{LEFTIST} Very clever clue. One of the clue types found in Azed and Listener clues is the compound anagram. This is where you have a long word which when unscrambled after removing a word (or its anagram) reveals another. These clues are not seen very often as most have to have two anagram indicators (cross and supply) and it makes the clue look a bit clunky. Here our Toughie Tormentor manages to succeed. Take the word infiltrate and remove the letters of the word IRAN (because the letters do not appear in order an anagram indicator is needed – a Ximenean rule). Red is the definition.

23a    Deer meat’s not to consume time in Cajun cooking (7)
{MUNTJAC} Remove a word meaning “to consume” from MEAT and add it to an anagram of CAJUN with T for time inside and you’ll discover a rather pretty member of the deer family.

24a    Managed cattle temperature (7)
{RANKINE} A word that means “managed” is added to an old word for cattle, to get the name of a temperature scale known to scientists and people answering questions on Mastermind.

25a    Fliers concealing it in trademark diamonds (7)
{TITMICE} The abbreviation for “trademark” has IT inside and added to a slang word for diamonds to get these rather beautiful birds.

26a    More than half expects in try that’s converted (5,3,4)
{SIXTY PER CENT} An anagram (indicated by converted) of EXPERTS IN TRY will give you an expression meaning just over a half of something.


1d           Laughing all the way to the bank, one out of five carries passport and driving licence? (5,2)
{QUIDS IN} – if you were this you would be laughing all the way to the bank – take one out of five children born at the same time and place around (carries) two things which prove who you are (passport and driving licence)

2d           Raise criticism in a wild act (7)
{ANIMALS} – reverse (raise in a down clue) a harsh criticism (4), IN and A to get a wild act at the circus

3d           Verse 17’s stupidly overlooked — here the currency is of peripheral importance (9)
{TENNESSEE} – the V(erse) is dropped (overlooked) from SE(V)ENTEEN’S (the full spelling of 17’s and nothing to do with 17 down!) and an anagram (stupidly) of the result  gives a US state whose currency is given around the periphery of the puzzle

4d           Clergyman’s not quite finished the odd page (5)
{RECTO} – drop the final letter (not quite finished) from a clergyman to get the name for the odd-numbered pages in a book (i.e. the ones on the right) – verso is the term for the even-numbered pages

5d           A few people would say women can be accepted as an item (7)
{TWOSOME} – start with a phrase meaning a few people would say (2,4) and insert W(omen) to get another name for a couple (an item in relationship terms)

6d           Is always following up a greenhouse plant (7)
{FREESIA} – a charade of IS, a poetic term for always (3) and F(ollowing) is reversed (up) and followed by A to get a greenhouse plant

7d    What’s LOMBARD wasted with Lotto? (6,6)
{BOTTOM DOLLAR} Clever clue. Many of you will not have heard of the acronym LOMBARD (Loads Of Money But A Real D******* [or Dingbat!]} Take this word and add it to LOTTO and anagram it (“wasted with”). You get an expression meaning “one’s last penny” which is defined by the whole clue, i.e. what this numpty wasted on the Lotto.  [Tilsit got this one!]

10d         Bread plate one’s persistently demanding as starter (12)
{PUMPERNICKEL} – this  coarse dark rye bread is derived by putting a metal used for plating other metals after someone who is persistently demanding

15d         Duration’s covered by other pilot’s gauge (9)
{ALTIMETER} – put a duration inside a word meaning other, particularly when followed by EGO, to get a gauge for measuring height, used by a pilot

17d         VIP in E Med fed fine spreads (7)
{EFFENDI} – an Eastern Mediterranean VIP is an anagram (spreads) of FED FINE

18d         Checking into hotel, it is traveller’s choice (7)
{ELITIST} – cunningly hidden inside (checking into) four words in the clue is an adjective meaning choice

19d         Suspect unknown double agent as long-distance runner (7)
{YANGTZE} – an anagram (suspect) of two unknown values (unknown double) and AGENT gives this long  Chinese river

20d         Coming to grief at Dijon assisting officer (7)
{ADJOINT} – an anagram (coming to grief) of AT DIJON gives a civil officer who assists a French mayor

22d         Silly, as it were, to disfrock priest (5)
{TWERP} – to get this silly person (yes, silly can be a noun!) drop the outside letters (disfrock) from (I)T WER(E) and add a P(riest)

There was an alternative mini-theme with 2d, 12a, 23a and 25a!

27 comments on “Toughie 518

  1. Difficult but very enjoyable puzzle indeed.

    Solving 3D earlier would have helped!

    Great stuff from Elgar!

  2. I found this one a tad easier than many Elgar puzzles but there was enough there to make you think and laugh. I also had to reach for the dictionary on a couple of words – notably 23a and 25a but fond this a great end to the Toughie week.
    Thanks to Elgar, Tilsit and BD.

  3. I have finished it but I will now proceed to check my answers with Tilsit’s write-up. I do not understand all wordplay.

    Massive challenge today. Hugely entertaining.

    Thanks to a learner with grand elitist chaos (5,3,6)

  4. Fabulous crossword from Elgar to end the week, loved 1a and 7d, funnily enough I took my grandchildren to see some 23a at the Fife Deer Centre recently. Many thanks Elgar and Tilsit.

  5. I was amazed this morning to find that I had completed this Elgar toughie in one session and in a very good time at that . A lovely theme and some wonderful clues. I couldn’t decide whether I was delighted to have finished it so quickly or disappointed that the chance to tussle with the mind of Elgar was so short-lived. Thanks to Elgar for the great crossword and Tilsit (and BD when they’re there) for the hints and tips.

  6. I usually need a damp towel and a darkened room after doing battle with Elgar but surprisingly enough i’ve come through today unscathed. Enjoyed the puzzle immensely 3d held me up for a while and 23a was a new one on me but still a great solve. Thanks to Elgar Tilsit and Big Dave for the joint review.

  7. Superbly done though not as devilish or as tricky as many of Elgar’s masterpieces. Many thanks to the setter and the combined Daves for the review.

  8. Great stuff – thanks to Elgar and DT/BD (especially for explaining LOMBARD which I hadn’t heard of as an acronym).

  9. Thanks to Elgar for another fine puzzle, and to Tilsit, and BD for the explanations.
    At one point I thought we had a pangram as well, but on a quick scan through, I think we are one letter short.

  10. i know I am stupid, but even with the hint I do not understand Tennessee as the answer to 3d. Please enlighten me !

    1. It’s easier to explain in the comments!

      TENNESSEE is an anagram of SE(V)ENTEENS without the V (abbreviation for verse). The currency in Tennessee includes part of the answers to each of the four twelve-letter clues around the outside (of peripheral importance).

  11. Thanks, had just got it when I saw your reply : before I was thinking that you meant an anagram of the answer to 17a !

  12. Thanks Elgar, Tilsit and Big Dave.

    Found this taxing – a genuine challenge – but not intractable. I completely missed why 3d was what it was as I was in cross-reference mode, looking up 17d to try to justify the answer. Obviously I was not alone in falling for that misdirection!
    A very enjoyable Elgar with enough ‘ways-in’ to make a start, an interesting thematic element and the usual range of wordplay and interesting surface readings. I enjoyed being reminded of LOMBARD too.

    1. I spent ages looking at 17D for 3D too. Pity, since, once you understand what 3D is actually saying, it makes the long lights more obvious.

      Still, the joy in puzzles like this is often in realising, at a late stage, just how brilliant the setter has been. I solved half of the clues here in the last five minutes, and had a big smile on my face while doing so. Lovely stuff.

    1. Trouble is UTC you are persuverating instead of perservating, can’t help sorry, don’t understand it !

  13. Lovely toughie and I’ve learnt quite a lot from it. I had no idea, for instance, that ‘min’ is an abbreviation for masculine – I was trying to squeeze male or man around the ‘n’ I got from 1d. I still don’t understand 3d – even with Big Dave’s explanation. I understand the anagram of seventeen without the v, but I still can’t grip how the peripheral clues give us the missing s. Oh well, on to the next puzzle…

    1. Hi Jaehancock!
      It is worth perservering on this one as Elgar can get trickier BUT:

      Min is not the abbreviation for masculine – that is ‘M’. The clue reads as M(asculne) with ‘IN US’ for ‘over the pond’.
      With 3d there is no missing S as the clue asked for 17’s (i.e. SEVENTEEN’S) with the Verse overlooked.
      That Elgar, he is a tinker, no?

      1. If you had already solved the “peripheral” clues, that would make solving 3D much easier. On the other hand, if you have 3D, and understand the reference, it makes the long clues easier to solve, which helps considerably with the rest of the puzzle.

        The tricky thing is that, without an inkling of the theme, it’s not easy to see that 3D is “a clue of two halves” which actually contains more information than might be apparent.

        All of this interplay, I think, makes for an altogether delicious experience.

  14. Hi gnomethang and Big Dave

    Thank you so much for your help. NOW I understand. Gosh, I was being really thick about those two clues. I did get the answers – by trawling through my OED to find two words that would fit 13a and 3d – but without your explanations, I’d still be struggling to understand WHY those were the answers.

    Too right, that Elgar is a tinker! I’m going to have to up my game considerably if I’m to smell him out in future.

    Thanks again to both of you.

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