Toughie 586

Toughie No 586 by Elgar

Hints and tips by Big Dave

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

Tilsit and I were going to share the honours today with me doing the across hints and him the downs, but it seems that he prefers the company of the pretty nurses at the hospital, so I’ve done his bit as well!

As is usual with an Elgar puzzle, there are too many excellent clues to be able to single out favourites.

The puzzle has a note from the setter:
Apart from the 9-letter answers and the two central 5-letter answers, apply 2,18″.

This instruction is not needed in order to solve the puzzle, but provides a bit of extra fun after completion. The 18 refers to 18 down, not 18 across, and the 9-letter answers that are excluded include 28 across! In case you haven’t been able to do it, this bonus is unravelled at the end of the review.

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.


7a    Lush chocolate bars Lawrence demolished, about fifty-one (9)
{ ALCOHOLIC } – a lush is a habitual heavy drinker – you get him by putting an anagram (demolished) of CHOCOLA(TE) without the initials of Lawrence of Arabia (bars Lawrence) around the Roman numerals for fifty-one

8a    Company knees-up (5)
{ PARTY } – a double definition – a company or group and a knees-up or celebration

10a    News one’s passing on over evening meal? (6)
{ DINNER } – start with N N (News / New + New) and surround with someone who is passing on to get an evening meal

11a    Potentially shocking vicious circle assimilating energy and time (8)
{ ELECTRIC } – an adjective describing something that could give a shock is an anagram (vicious) of CIRCLE around (assimilating) E(nergy) and T(ime)

12a    In circling, passed over European seaport (6)
{ ODESSA } – hidden and reversed (circling) the middle two words of the clue is a European seaport

14a    Strictly speaking as the crow flies (6)
{ STRAIT } – an adverb meaning strictly also sounds like (speaking) how the crow flies between two points

16a    Cut off high speed punch (4)
{ CLIP } – a triple definition – and nothing to do with the speed of light as I at first thought

17a    Fashion designer sustaining ankle injury (5)
{ KLEIN } – this fashion designer is hidden inside (sustaining) the last two words of the clue

18a    Ultimately forget to request piece of work (4)
{ TASK } – a charade of the last letter (ultimately) of forge T and to request gives a piece of work

19a    East London journo wearing black coat (6)
{ JACKET } – Cockneys come from East London, so drop the initial H from a journo (journalist) and put what’s left inside (wearing) a type of black to get a coat

21a    Particular hate — some rich interiors (6)
{ ATOMIC } – a word meaning particular, or “of particles”, is created by stringing together the interior letters of the middle three words of the clue

24a    Comic sot tripping over one of strings (8)
{ COSTELLO } – Lou, Bud Abbot’s fellow comic, is created by putting an anagram (tripping) of SOT inside a string instrument

26a    Not serious exercise in which family indulges (6)
{ JOKING } – an adjective meaning not serious is derived by putting an exercise which involves running at a slow, steady pace around (indulges) a synonym for family

27a    The punishment of young age or of old age after nearly full retirement (5)
{ LINES } – to get a punishment meted out to disobedient schoolchildren reverse (retirement) most of (nearly full) a characteristic of old age

28a    Ample boobs cradling top novelist’s head? That might be Alice or Virginia! (5,4)
{ PLACE NAME } – put an anagram (boobs) of AMPLE around (cradling) a word meaning top and N ( N ovelist’s head) to get what could describe a town like Alice or the US state of Virginia


1d           The dead King lives, oddly (5)
{ ELVIS } – The King of Rock and Roll, who died 34 years ago, is an anagram (oddly) of LIVES

2d           Love — nude and I get kinky in Worthing together (6-2)
{ JOINED-UP } – put an anagram (get kinky) of O (love) NUDE and I inside The initials of Jack Worthing, one of the principal characters in The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde gives a word meaning together

3d           Goes on stage (6)
{ BOARDS } – a double definition – goes on, say, a bus and a colloquial word for the stage of a theatre

4d           Polish data is kept on it (4)
{ FILE } – a word meaning to polish, for example, fingernails is somewhere data is kept

5d           Married at the back of the boat, nameless commander (6)
{ MASTER } – a charade of M(arried) and the nautical term for at the back of a boat without the final N ( N ame less) gives a commander of, for example, a boat

6d           No more tigerish (9)
{ STRIPIEST } – you can’t get more tigerish than this anagram (in dispute) of PRIESTS with IT

9d           More like naturists, one’s learnt (6)
{ LESSON } – split as (4,2) this could mean more like a naturist – as (6) it’s something that can be learnt

13d         Engagement ring presented by unsupported Frenchman in Carmen (5)
{ ARENA } – a ring inside which gladiators would engage is created by putting most of a typical French name, like M Artois in ‘Allo ‘Allo!, inside the emergency service that rescues stranded motorists

15d         All is ok (as suffering blood condition) (9)
{ ALKALOSIS } – an anagram (suffering) of ALL IS OK AS gives a blood condition

17d         Having no alcohol in leek-stewing vessel (6)
{ KETTLE } – put an abbreviation for those who have no alcohol inside an anagram (stewing) of LEEK to get a vessel for boiling water

18d         Not, presumably, Henry VIII’s judgment! (8)
{ THINKING } – split this as (4,4) and you get a description that certainly did not fit Henry VIII – the whole word means judgement or reasoning

20d         Youngster gets Christopher dinner (6)
{ KITTEN } – this young feline is a charade of a familiar term for Christopher and the number of the clue to which the answer is “dinner”

22d         Express disapproval of aim (6)
{ OBJECT } – a double definition – to express disapproval and an aim or purpose

23d         The other side broadcasting music issue (5)
{ ENEMY } – the other side in a military action sounds like (broadcasting) a music magazine familiar to an editor and a setter!

25d         Just missing company, with regular exceptions (4)
{ ONLY } – an adverb meaning just or merely is created by dropping the first and third letters (regular exceptions) from a word meaning sad because one is missing the company of friends

The anagram count today is 9 in 30 clues.

The eleven pairs of linked answers are:

10a/8a 11a/17d 12a/4d 14a/19a 16a/3d 18a/5d 21a/20d 1d/24a 22d/9d 23d/27a 25d/26a


  1. Posted June 24, 2011 at 1:06 pm | Permalink

    This was Elgar at his most wickedly devious – I spent ages trying to find things that linked with 2d 18a for a start before I realised I needed 18d! This took all my cryptic brain cells, Gnome’s law/hints and took the longest time I have spent on a Toughie for ages and ages. Now I have had time to recover, I can really appreciate all the clever clues – how many other people spent time trying to fit a large bra size into 28a before the penny dropped? Perhaps that was just me. Thanks to Elgar for the wicked workout, Gnomey for being there, and BD and Tilsit for the hints and explanations.

  2. Jezza
    Posted June 24, 2011 at 1:14 pm | Permalink

    A most enjoyable puzzle to end the week. Many thanks to Elgar, and to BD for the first half of the review and explanations (a couple of subtleties I missed at the time of solving – in particular 27a, where I totally missed the reversal, and thought the answer also had something to do with those on the forehead associated with old age!)

  3. Marie Ball
    Posted June 24, 2011 at 1:24 pm | Permalink

    This has taken me all morning and I still couldn’t get 27a, must be my age. The top of the page in the Tel is covered in rearranged pairs of words. Great fun, must do some gardening, AvdW

    • Posted June 24, 2011 at 1:31 pm | Permalink

      Hi Marie – welcome to the blog.

  4. Posted June 24, 2011 at 1:36 pm | Permalink

    Tremendous puzzle. Thanks to Elgar, BD and (in advance) Tilsit. Favourite clue 23d.

    • lostboy
      Posted June 24, 2011 at 6:56 pm | Permalink

      truly- it was made my last answer in, and it me groan out loud on a crowded train!

  5. lizwhiz1
    Posted June 24, 2011 at 1:54 pm | Permalink

    I managed it today but needed help with 7a,24a and 28a so thanks Big Dave!!! it also helped me understand 10a which I thought was right but did not know why! I have spent ages on this however!!!!!

  6. pegasus
    Posted June 24, 2011 at 2:40 pm | Permalink

    Excellent denouement to what’s been a superb week for Toughies many thanks to Elgar to Big Dave and to Tilsit in anticipation, I thought we might have seen an Elvis Costello clip.

    • Posted June 24, 2011 at 2:52 pm | Permalink

      I was waiting for the downs to be added – it’s in hand!

  7. pegasus
    Posted June 24, 2011 at 2:55 pm | Permalink

    Thanks Dave

  8. Posted June 24, 2011 at 3:01 pm | Permalink

    A tremendously enjoyable solve. I was completely flummoxed by the introduction so was penning everythjing in lightly. I then sussed the pairs while noticing that the checking letters were all good so there was no kerfuffle involved befiore filling in the grid. I managed to finish apart from taking ages to get 3d – D’OH!. The SW was particularly devious and I spent lots of time trying to get either DD, FF or GG around the outside of 28a (‘cos I’m a bloke!).
    Many Thanks to you both for the review and to Elgar for a great end to the week. Favourite was 13d – the Carmen didn’t fool me this time!

    • lostboy
      Posted June 24, 2011 at 6:58 pm | Permalink

      Well, 13d fooled me, and I have the answer but I have no idea why……………. help………
      Also 20 d…… don’t geddit……

      • Posted June 24, 2011 at 7:06 pm | Permalink

        Lostboy, I’ll chip in as Tilsit may not be able to post yet.

        13d – The unsupported (losing his base/bottom) Frenchmen is REN(e). Place him inside the AA (car men – the little tinker) to get the Circle where people engage in battle.

        20d – More deviosity!. KIT is short for Christopher and ‘dinner’ is the answer to TEN (10a!) – You know the address to send complaints to: Elgar, c/o Back of Cistern, Cubicle 3 (“Beware of the Leopard”), The Gents, Water Loo Train Station

        • lostboy
          Posted June 24, 2011 at 7:16 pm | Permalink

          Car men…………… ARGGGG! Brilliant!
          And I got “Kit”, but the ten bit……

          Thanks for that M’sieur Gnome, I feel better now.

  9. Franco
    Posted June 24, 2011 at 5:10 pm | Permalink

    Phew! Finally finished (with all manner of help and cheating). I don’t believe I missed Klein for 17a – he’s one of the few fashion designers I’ve heard of – but I convinced myself that it MUST be an anagram of “ankle”. Nice feeling when I eventually solved my last one in – 27a – it looked far too convoluted, but now seems so clever!

    • Jezza
      Posted June 24, 2011 at 5:33 pm | Permalink

      I also spent a few minutes trying to make an anagram of ‘ankle’, then I read the clue again and spotted the container indicator!

      • Posted June 24, 2011 at 6:42 pm | Permalink

        Me too. Just reading the instructions left me befuddled for a time, never mind the clues :)

        • Franco
          Posted June 24, 2011 at 7:29 pm | Permalink

          Is Elgar also the setter for Enigmatic Variations in the Sunday Telegraph?

          I was fooled completely. I thought that solving 2,18 was necessary before applying these solutions to the other clues. Nice bit of deception! Maybe “apply” was a bit too unkind!

          • lostboy
            Posted June 24, 2011 at 7:33 pm | Permalink

            You see, there’s a brain at work……. I’d completely missed the Elgar/ Enigmatic Variations link.

          • Posted June 24, 2011 at 8:13 pm | Permalink

            A clever, but incorrect, assumption. Elgar’s pseudonym in the Guardian is Enigmatist, which leads to Elgar and Nimrod.

            The EV puzzle is set by a large number of different setters.

    • Posted June 24, 2011 at 7:01 pm | Permalink

      Franco – I had KLEAN pencilled in for most of the morning. Guilty as charged!

      • lostboy
        Posted June 24, 2011 at 7:05 pm | Permalink

        Trouble is, I thought the extra instruction meant “Do something to the answers before you write them in”, so I thought it was an anagram of Ankle then change a letter or something.

  10. lostboy
    Posted June 24, 2011 at 7:01 pm | Permalink

    I could have done without the extra instruction about applying 2, 18.

    Because i thought I was supposed to be doing something to the answers before i wrote them in……..

    Anyway, thoroughly enjoyed it, and finished it due to spending 4 hours on a train.

    • Posted June 24, 2011 at 7:07 pm | Permalink

      I had the same worry – but when I started to pen my answers in lightly I realised that all the crossers checked out OK so there must be something else going on.

      • lostboy
        Posted June 24, 2011 at 7:11 pm | Permalink

        Exactly- I think I wasted an hour before I finally had the confidence to start writing things in using full sized letters!

        • Posted June 24, 2011 at 7:14 pm | Permalink

          To be fair, it would be unusual to have to perform those sorts of shenanigans even in a Toughie. The problem is that you never know with Elgar!

          • lostboy
            Posted June 24, 2011 at 7:19 pm | Permalink

            Sometimes I do that difficult thing in the Sunday paper…… and it would have been typical of one of those to be e.g. “Replace one letter with another”……
            and exactly-that Edgar, he’s a bit tricky.

  11. lostboy
    Posted June 24, 2011 at 7:08 pm | Permalink

    ps, I’m a bit worried about the juxtaposition of the “Ample Boobs” picture with the name “Tilsit.” Is it an anagram?

    • Posted June 24, 2011 at 7:23 pm | Permalink

      My revision of the review has wrecked the point of your comment!

      • lostboy
        Posted June 24, 2011 at 7:29 pm | Permalink

        I know.

        Still, while we’re on the subject…… “BIG” Dave? :-)

  12. Franco
    Posted June 24, 2011 at 7:41 pm | Permalink

    20d – I’ve been wondering about this for bloody hours! Just read Tilsit’s explanation! I only pencilled ii in because of “Atomic Kitten”.

    Foul! Referee!!! (Thanks, Tilsit)

    • Posted June 24, 2011 at 7:46 pm | Permalink

      Heh heh! – I usually email with crypticsue in the mornings and rather more often when Elgar is around. We both had the Kitten and Christopher (me form the atomic like you) and were wondering about ten – our emails crossed and I spotted it just after hitting ‘send’ again. There were an awful lot of emails that simply said D’OH! in increasingly large fonts. And in white on a red background. I didnt get as far as creating a blinking animated gif but it was very close!

      These (and yesterdays) are the sort of Toughie crosswords that make you feel good in my opinion.

      • Posted June 24, 2011 at 8:44 pm | Permalink

        We were a long way from our world record number of emails (which I think was again on an Elgar day). What I like is the way we very rarely tell each other anything directly about a solution of a clue, but just confine ourselves to ‘you’ll kick yourself when you get 3d’ and so on, which seems to do the trick. My solving of this crossword benefited greatly from being in the office with unlimited supplies of Tippex.

    • Posted June 24, 2011 at 8:04 pm | Permalink

      When scratching around for a reason why “ten” meant dinner, I at one stage semi-convinced myself that ten was the abbreviation for tenuto (musical instruction to play louder) and that dinner was Elgar-speak for “make more din”. :D

      • Qix
        Posted June 24, 2011 at 11:40 pm | Permalink

        I’ve often found myself doing that kind of thing with Elgar and Myops. Not this time, though. 10a was second in for me, and I kept thinking about it for ages. Elgar has used the same trick quite recently too (eg 23d in Toughie 562 ).

        Still, it’s a really great idea, and I like clues that refer to other parts of the puzzle, as long as it’s not overdone. This was perfectly done.

    • Franco
      Posted June 24, 2011 at 8:15 pm | Permalink

      I’m always amazed that the bloggers on this site always find the explanation! Also, I’m amazed that the setters are so……..(words fail me)?

  13. pommers
    Posted June 24, 2011 at 10:45 pm | Permalink

    All I can say is “PHEW!”
    Thanks to Elgar (I think) and to Tilsit and BD.

  14. Qix
    Posted June 24, 2011 at 10:51 pm | Permalink

    Well, I had to wait all day for some time alone with Elgar, and, as usual, he didn’t disappoint.

    I didn’t find this one too tricky, because the wordplay was so good that even the more obscure answers jumped out, but this was a seriously clever puzzle. The theme was great, and I probably wouldn’t even have noticed it without the mystical intro. For a minute, I thought that we’d had a Listener puzzle inserted by mistake! Thankfully, all became clear eventually.

    Many thanks to Elgar for a fantastic piece of work, and to all of the kind folk of the blog who offered to help when the Telegraph Puzzles website hadn’t been sufficiently wound up.

  15. Michod
    Posted June 24, 2011 at 11:46 pm | Permalink

    So good it makes t’ brain ill (9)

    • Qix
      Posted June 24, 2011 at 11:52 pm | Permalink

      ^Facts ain’t wrong (9)

    • Posted June 25, 2011 at 12:17 am | Permalink

      High praise indeed.

  16. Dynamic
    Posted June 27, 2011 at 8:44 pm | Permalink

    Not having time for many puzzles these days I decided to tackle this thanks to a tweet from Tilsit. Can’t thank you enough! I managed to make a good start on Saturday lunchtime and thought Elgar was getting easier, but have dabbled for 3 days off and on when time was available. I loved the theme and I’m sure it helped me get some of the tougher solutions. I hadn’t got Worthing but guessed it could be linked to the fictional child found in a handbag, and was trying to work out why EN was dinner (thinking mistakenly that KITT was short for Christopher – too much Knight Rider in my youth and a childhood friend whose actual name I think was spelled Kitt probably led me astray. I’d never fully made the link, but then names like Peggy and Jack outside my agegroup had eluded me for years too and I’m still not 100% confident in assigning them)

    Thanks to Tilsit and BigDave for pointing to the puzzle and for explanations and to Elgar for a very enjoyable, startable, taxing yet finishable, delightful crossword which I eventually even managed without a dictionary except for confirming Alkalosis.

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