Toughie 594

Toughie No 594 by Elgar

A Lie Down in a Darkened Room Needed

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

Greetings from the Calder Valley. Today we have a quick reappearance by Elgar with a cracking puzzle that as usual raises smiles and makes you think not just outside the box, but outside the fork-lift truck used to lift it. The perimeter answers are all linked and forming phrases and there’s an arty feel to the puzzle.

I’ve tried to explain 5 down but it has me totally confused. There are one or two other tiny quibbles as well, but overall a superlative solve with much to admire.

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. Favourite clues are shown in blue.


1a & 4a    In screening that hurt guy, essentially Quixote’s tilting at windmills (6,6)
{SHADOW BOXING} Quite a complex clue, which I needed the intersecting letters to crack. Inside a word that means screening you will need to place a short word that usually goes before the expression “That hurt!” Add to this a name for an American bloke (think Dukes of Hazzard!) and X the essential, i.e. middle letter of Quixote. Altogether this shows an expression that means “tilting at windmills”. Quite a tough clue to get us going today.

4a    See 1 across

8a    Very soft concession (3)
{SOP} A word-sum. A word meaning very is added to the musical notation abbreviation for playing soft to give a word meaning a concession.

10a    Angry over proof (7)
[UPTIGHT} Another word-sum. A word referring to being over something is added to a word meaning proof and gives one which means angry or cross. Cue song!

11a    Terribly bald old eccentric (7)
{ODDBALL} An anagram of BALD OLD gives the name of someone whose behaviour is said to be exotic.

12a    Employed and paid out wasted author over the road (5)
{SPENT} A trademark Elgar clue where “over” is used to indicate inside something else, i.e. laid on top of it. Personally I would only feel comfortable with this if the “under” word is longer than the word laid “over”, which it isn’t here. This clue is quite clever though in that it uses three definitions as well. So we have an almost poetic word for an author going inside an abbreviation for a road or way.

13a    CLUE A: “It’s a kaleidoscopic effect” (9)
{ACTUALISE} An anagram (indicated by “kaleidoscopic”) of CLUE A IT’S A gives a definition of the word that means to effect something.

14a    Denying what Diana’s doing to make herself fit in! (13)
{CONTRADICTING} Prior to the late Mrs Charles Windsor, I don’t recall seeing “DI” used much in clues to indicate Diana, despite the popularity of Diana Dors. So when the Princess appeared, it was a godsend for setters. Here she appears in brief to fit inside a word that is cryptically defined as being “shrinking”. This gives a word meaning denying.

17a    Stated choice to follow the main condition of perfection (5-3,5)
{APPLE-PIE ORDER} A double definition with one of them cryptic. Think of what could happen in a diner after a main course in the USA, this gives an expression meaning in perfect condition. The online version gives the incorrect enumeration (9,5) rather than (5-3,5).

22a    Gray? That might darken military alliance! (9)
{ANATOMIST} This time a double cryptic definition. A word for a fog organised by a noted military alliance is the job held by a famous person named Gray who wrote a celebrated medical textbook.

23a    Refuse, with nothing left (5)
{OFFAL} Another word sum. A word meaning WITH + and the (rather rude) abbreviation for a slang word for zero (Think “Sweet __”) + L (for left) = butcher’s waste.

24a    One wrongly persuades forest residents to entrap lord (7)
{DELUDER} Someone who makes false persuasions is found by taking some forest creatures (Think Bambi) and inserting a short word meaning “Lord” (think in court).

25a    Extreme decimal point — at 90 (7)
{INTENSE} Some think that is decimal occurs in this number Add to it a point found at 90 degrees on a compass and you have a word meaning extreme.

26a    A little time online? A considerably longer time! (3)
{EON} Hidden (indicated by “A little”) in the expression “time online” is a word meaning a measure of time, quite a long one.

27a & 28a    Turbine in Generator Y’s malfunctioning (6,6)
{ROTARY ENGINE} An anagram (indicated by ‘malfunctioning’ of IN GENERATOR Y gives you something invented by Mr Wankel (pause for sniggering).

28a    See 27 across


1d & 20d    One charting the rise and fall of courtroom adversaries? (6,6)
{SQUASH LADDER} A nice cryptic definition for a type of sporting league played indoors and popular with businessmen (pause for more sniggering).

2d    Visual style of fashionable red coat (3,4)
{ART DECO} A style of design is an anagram (indicated by “fashionable”) of RED COAT

3d    Crestfallen criminal would be obliged (5)
{OUGHT} The first letter (the crest) of a word meaning a criminal “falls” in a down clue to the end to produce a word meaning “would be obliged to”.

5d    Hal David’s composing one about another (3,6)
{OLD MASTER} This clue has really mangled my brain. I think what Elgar is saying is that HAL DAVID’S is an example of two these shown cryptically as “one about the other” i.e. an artiist inside another, DAVID inside HALS. My brain hurts!

6d    Veronese, maybe, and others in the news (7)
{ITALIAN} The nationality of someone from Verona is found by taking the Latin word for others, often used in legal circles to mean “other things” and this goes inside a company that makes the news for TV.

7d & 21d    The object of a famous quest, A-Level covering historical escape? (6,6)
{GOLDEN FLEECE} A word meaning historical and one meaning escape go inside an abbreviation for an examination. You should then have a phrase for the object of a famous mythical quest. Think fighting skeletons on TV 14 times a year.

8d    Nervous UK operatives gobbling a meal (5,2,6)
{STEAK AU POIVRE} A popular dinner dish is revealed by making an anagram of UK OPERATIVES and inserting A.

9d    Two painters represented in extensive mark on body (4,4,5)
{PORT WINE STAIN} An anagram of TWO PAINTERS has IN tacked onto the end to get a description of a birthmark.

14d    Tea that for two would be an invigorating measure (3)
{CHA} A word for tea that when doubled is the name of a popular dance.

15d    Two dozen giraffes say one will be tricky to fill (4,5)
{TALL ORDER} A cryptic definition, almost a joke. The distinguishing feature of giraffes plus a word meaning say or command lead you to something that is difficult to carry out.

16d    Swimmer hoisting sail (3)
{GAR} The name of a fish is found by reversing a slang word for a sail.

18d    All typecast in two parts in this? (7)
{PLAYLET} Another clue that may have some tooth sucking. An anagram (indicated by cast, which is tacked onto one of the words) of ALL TYPE gives a word for a dramatic production. Nice surface reading but I bet some purists may not like this.

19d    Orderly force-feeding missing Greco-Turkish official (7)
{EFFENDI} An anagram of FORCE-FEEDING minus GRECO gives the name given to an official in Istanbul.

20d    See 1 down

21d    See 7 down

23d    Frequently showing temper, blowing top (5)
{OFTEN} A word meaning temper (as in soothe and mollify) needs to lose its first letter (“blows its top”) to give one that means frequently.

Thanks to Elgar for a sterling challenge today and I’ll see you next week.


  1. Digby
    Posted July 8, 2011 at 4:33 pm | Permalink

    Managed it without hints, so 4* in my book. 1d would take my CotD prize. Thanks, and have a nice weekend everyone.

  2. crypticsue
    Posted July 8, 2011 at 4:45 pm | Permalink

    I thought this was the easiest Elgar ever, not to mention given my solving time, one of the easiest Toughies altogether, so 2* difficulty However, like Tilsit, I wasn’t entirely sure about the wordplay for 5d. I would give 4* for enjoyment too, having twelve pen dots alongside clues I liked. Thanks to Elgar for the surprisingly unchallenging challenge – I thought I was in for a morning of on and off cogitation – and to Tilsit for the hints and explanations.

    • bakesi
      Posted July 8, 2011 at 6:48 pm | Permalink

      think this was Elgar’s easiest toughie…so thanx for getting the weekend off to a positive start!

  3. Qix
    Posted July 8, 2011 at 4:45 pm | Permalink

    Very good stuff from Elgar.

    The online mis-enumeration of 17a caused a few problems, and that was the clue that I was least keen on. However, very enjoyable indeed, and, I would say, not 5-star difficulty.

    Thanks to Elgar and Tilsit.

  4. Posted July 8, 2011 at 4:52 pm | Permalink

    Goodness, have I really almost completed an Elgar Toughie? Only five answers short? He must be losing his touch.

  5. Prolixic
    Posted July 8, 2011 at 4:53 pm | Permalink

    Have to agree with CS on the difficulty level. I had all but four done by Waterloo. Usually with an Elgar i am lucky to have four done by then. The remaining clues fell into place on the Waterloo and City Line so it must have been fairly gentle even by Elgar’s standards. Cracking crossword though with 15a, 1/20d, 18d, 14a being among the highlights. Thanks to Elgar for the crossword and to Tilsit for the review.

  6. Franco
    Posted July 8, 2011 at 5:27 pm | Permalink

    Thanks to Tilsit for the review and also for giving it 5* difficulty – earlier comments (on the back-pager) suggested that it was easy.

    Tilsit has explained nearly everything, but I must admit than I still do not understand 15d – “Two dozen….??”

    • Franco
      Posted July 8, 2011 at 5:44 pm | Permalink

      I am also, still puzzled by 5d – Hal David’s composing one about another (3,6)

      This clue has also mangled my brain.

      • gazza
        Posted July 8, 2011 at 6:07 pm | Permalink

        As Tilsit says you can read 5d as: The words “Hal David’s” are composed of two old masters, one (Franz HALS) around the other (Jacques-Louis DAVID).

        • Franco
          Posted July 8, 2011 at 6:30 pm | Permalink

          Thanks, gazza. I’ve never heard of Jacques-Louis DAVID. (Has anyone else?)

          This is a good example of a clue that I would never have understood without this blog, so thanks, but not a good clue! Far too obscure.

    • Jezza
      Posted July 8, 2011 at 5:50 pm | Permalink

      I read 15d as:
      If I was to place an order for two dozen giraffes, that would be a tall order to fill. I think the ‘two dozen’ could just as easily be three dozen, but is there to suggest the order.

  7. Libellule
    Posted July 8, 2011 at 5:33 pm | Permalink

    All in all a very enjoyable crossword, like Qix 17a was a bit of a dogs dinner until I realised that the clue was essentially wrong. Even after all the e-mails and blog explanation, 5d still doesn’t make sense, perhaps Elgar will enlighten us. Also like others I don’t think this was 5*’s for difficulty more like 3*.

  8. crypticsue
    Posted July 8, 2011 at 5:52 pm | Permalink

    Just had a thought while sorting out tonight’s supper, if Elgar does read this he should note that, just because quite a lot of us found this one easy, doesn’t mean he should up the difficulty of his ‘normal’ toughies as they are all quite tough enough, thank you. :)

  9. Phil
    Posted July 8, 2011 at 6:01 pm | Permalink

    I got 1a eventually but now I know how 1a works, the more I go off Elgar as a Xword setter. There was absolutely nothing to suggest the ‘OW’, and the explanation that it normally goes before ‘that hurt’ was not referenced in the clue at all – poor clue, poor clue

    • Franco
      Posted July 8, 2011 at 6:12 pm | Permalink

      1a – Agreed! Guy = Bo? Also a bit dubious! (Is it allowed to criticise Elgar?)

  10. Jezza
    Posted July 8, 2011 at 6:18 pm | Permalink

    I found this a struggle; admitedly one of Elgar’s easiest puzzles, but for me, the hardest Toughie this week.
    Thanks to him, and to Tilsit for the review.

  11. BigBoab
    Posted July 8, 2011 at 7:12 pm | Permalink

    I gave this 3* for difficulty and 4* for enjoyment simply because I finished it fairly quickly but I was grateful to Tilsit for some of the explanations. Many thanks Elgar and many thanks Tilsit.

  12. pegasus
    Posted July 8, 2011 at 7:20 pm | Permalink

    I agree wholeheartedly with Tilsit’s rating for this one, I really struggled with the east side favourite clue 1a thanks to Elgar and to Tilsit for what must have been an ordeal.

  13. Posted July 8, 2011 at 7:50 pm | Permalink

    Sorry – forgot to say thanks for the entertainment from Elgar and the review from Tilsit. I didn’t find this as hard as usual but certainly not a cinch! 9d was lovely when I finally got it!

  14. pommers
    Posted July 8, 2011 at 10:02 pm | Permalink

    OK, not the hardest Elgar ever but 5d? I guessed the answer from the checkers but even after Tilsit’s explanation my brain still hurts – a lie down in a darkened room beckons!
    Apart from the misenumeration the rest was ok,if taxing (isn’t apple pie 2 words?).
    Thanks Elgar as you kept me entertained (?) for a fair while this morning and thanks to Tilsit even though I’m actually none the wiser on 5d!

    • Posted July 9, 2011 at 10:20 am | Permalink

      I am still at a loss to understand 5d!

      • Posted July 9, 2011 at 12:51 pm | Permalink

        I think it’s an all-in-one clue. Hal David’s is an example of one Old Master inside another. It could quite easily have been a clue to the word ARTIST or PAINTER.

        I suppose I should also plug the fact that my General Knowledge Jumbo is lurking in today’s Independent!

        • gnomethang
          Posted July 9, 2011 at 1:02 pm | Permalink

          I’ll certainly check out the GK but all references to ‘inside another’ just go right over my head! Any chance of nudging the little tinker via email?

      • Franco
        Posted July 9, 2011 at 1:28 pm | Permalink

        Re 5d – Gazza has given a good explanation at comment #6 above.

        • gnomethang
          Posted July 9, 2011 at 1:41 pm | Permalink

          Thanks Franco. Iread it but don’t understand it , particularly the ‘all around’ bit.

          • gazza
            Posted July 9, 2011 at 1:59 pm | Permalink

            Gnomey – it’s just saying one old master (HALS) contains (includes, goes all around) another old master (DAVID).

            • gnomethang
              Posted July 9, 2011 at 2:12 pm | Permalink

              Sound of contents of Royal Mint dropping on napper. An insertion of DAVID in HALS. I really don’t like it!

  15. pommers
    Posted July 8, 2011 at 10:38 pm | Permalink

    12a really doesn’t word for me. I dread to think what would be said on COW if I’d submitted that clue!