Toughie 668 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
View closed comments 

Toughie 668

Toughie No 668 by Elgar

Welcome to Wednesday – Why Not Stay a While?

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

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

A revolution in Toughieland? Yesterday we had an Elkamere-lite and today we have an Elgar ejected from his usual Friday slot. Not that I’m complaining, you understand – Elgar is a welcome visitor to Wednesdays and can always claim asylum here. He may not be quite at his most fiendish but the puzzle is still chock full of clever and witty clues and it was a joy to solve (and a repeated joy to blog). On top of that he’s given us two Ninas (and provided clues for them) and it’s a pangram. How are the Thursday and Friday puzzles going to match this?
Let us know how you liked it and please take the time to register your enjoyment factor by clicking on one of the stars below.

Across Clues

1a  An aromatic part of East Anglia University finally producing offensive smell (9)
{FENUGREEK} – aromatic is an adjective in the surface but as the definition it’s a noun and the answer is an herbaceous plant of the pea family with aromatic seeds that are used for flavouring and for medicinal (and aphrodisiacal) purposes. String together a low, marshy area of land (a feature of East Anglia), U(niversity), the final letter of (producin)G and an unpleasant smell.

6a  Henry designated a frequent absentee from E3 (5)
{AITCH} – E3 is the London postal area containing Bow and as we all know those born within earshot of Bow Bells are Cockneys. So what’s often missing (a frequent absentee) from the speech of Cockneys? It’s also the designated letter used to represent the henry (the SI unit of inductance).

9a  Fighting system? It is, briefly, in the charm (7)
{JUJITSU} – put a contracted (briefly) form of “it is” inside a charm believed to have supernatural powers by some in West Africa.

10a  Ace, a skilled orderly, made big acid drops (9)
{ALKALISED} – A(ce) is followed by an anagram (orderly) of A SKILLED. The result is a verb meaning reduced the proportion of acid in a substance.

11a  Mean to state years (7)
{AVERAGE} – probably the easiest clue in the puzzle. A verb meaning to state is followed by a synonym for years.

12a  1/1 hill? He’ll have to take care (7)
{JANITOR} – this caretaker is another form of the date that may be written as 1/1 followed by a rocky hill.

13a  Gain in trust for a flourishing August 6 (15)
{TRANSFIGURATION} – an anagram (flourishing) of GAIN IN TRUST FOR A is a Christian festival celebrated on August 6th.

17a  Nether regions act presumably negative (7)
{INFERNO} – a verb meaning to surmise or presume (act presumably) is followed by a negative to make the nether regions as described by Dante.

19a  Lewd comic is on the case of Queen and ministers (7)
{VIZIERS} – start with a lewd British comic (home to The Fat Slags and Sid the Sexist) and follow this with IS around (on the case of) the Queen’s designation to make ministers in the Ottoman Empire.

22a  Very upset, I will take notice when mediating (2,1,3,3)
{IN A BAD WAY} – we want a phrase meaning very upset. A verb to take or steal and an abbreviated notice go inside (when mediating) I and a will or inclination.

23a  To date today’s top compiler (no introduction needed), call me to fix! (3-4)
To date today’s top compiler (no introduction needed), call Elgar to fix! (3-4) (paper version)
{ALL-TIME} – call (shorn of its first letter – no introduction needed) and me (derived from Elgar in the paper version) go round (to fix) the first (top) letter of T(oday’s) and how the compiler refers to himself to make an adjective meaning to date or since the world began.

24a  Indian home fillings for jacket potato, meat pies and cabinet pudding, it’s rumoured (5)
{TEPEE} – the two letters (fillings) that appear in the centre of each of the food items sound like (it’s rumoured) an Indian home in North America.

25a  Feature of upstanding characters before tax once claiming no time for return (9)
{ERECTNESS} – the quality of being upright is constructed from a literary word meaning before and an old tax (tax once) with N(o) and T(ime) reversed (for return) inside (claiming). I can’t find any reference to N standing for no but it is used as an abbreviation for number or “no.” so this may be what Elgar is getting at here. [Anax has confirmed that Y/N are now acceptable abbreviations for Yes/No – see his comment]

Down Clues

1d  Meal made of Ajit Agarkar’s series (6)
{FAJITA} – Ajit Agarkar is a not too successful Indian cricketer who’s never quite established a permanent place in the Indian test team. His name does, however, allow a meal of Mexican origin to be concealed in a series of letters in the clue.

2d  New music man with last word on advanced capital (8)
{N’DJAMENA} – what we want is the capital city of Chad. Bring together a) N(ew), b) the abbreviation for someone who plays other people’s music for a living (music man), c) the last word in a prayer and d) A(dvanced).

3d  Stagecoach rickety, case craftily purloined — you’ve been had! (6)
{GOTCHA} – a notorious Sun headline (and a recent Private Eye response to the ongoing shenanigans at News International) is made from an anagram (rickety) of (s)T(a)G(ec)OACH with the non-contiguous (so craftily) letters of case taken away.

4d  Make it the same as in Parisian summer (6)
{EQUATE} – the definition here is make it the same. Put a latin word meaning as or in the capacity of inside the French for Summer.

5d  One with nocturnal habits, is it Ray Davies overlooking north Loire province? (8)
{KINKAJOU} – my first thought here was that overlooking just meant in front of in a down clue and I did actually find a French place called Ajou but it’s not a province and it’s nowhere near the Loire so I had to think again. This is a nocturnal fruit-eating mammal of Central and South America. Put a member of a band (who could be Ray Davies) ahead of a Loire province without (overlooking) its N(orth).

ARVE Error: need id and provider

6d  Apples delayed her acceleration through Georgian city (8)
{ATALANTA} – this is a Greek huntress who lost a footrace through being diverted by her opponent’s throwing down of three golden apples. Put A(cceleration) inside a city in Georgia (the state, not the country).

7d  Service in China — not one to mock it! (3,3)
{TEA SET} – a China service is an instruction to mock it (5,2) without the I (not one).

8d  Central American sweetie attracting Simon Le Bon and Nick Rhodes only? (8)
{HONDURAN} – someone from a Central American country is an abbreviated term of endearment (sweetie) followed by exactly half (i.e. the two men mentioned) of a famous band.

ARVE Error: need id and provider

13d  Miffed weightlifter deprived of free training time (8)
{TWILIGHT} – this construct is the same as that in 3d. Take the non-contiguous (training) letters of free away from weightlifter and make an anagram (miffed) of what’s left to get a time of day.

14d  It’s within our power to deal with a lobster, is this (8)
{SORTABLE} – an anagram (to deal with) of A LOBSTER gives an adjective meaning capable of being dealt with (within our power).

15d  Trappings of a blacksmith? I take on prolonged fight with energy (8)
{IRONWARE} – the general term for what may be found in a smithy is a charade of a) I, b) the letter used in prescriptions to mean take, c) ON, d) a prolonged fight and e) E(nergy).

16d  English cricket team, paid up, to pursue island obsession (4,4)
{IDÉE FIXE} – this is a French phrase for an obsession. String together E(nglish), the Roman numeral for the number in a cricket team and a past participle meaning paid, then reverse all that (up) and put it after (to pursue) I(sland).

18d  Draw attention to evidence that Her Majesty is at home? (4,2)
{FLAG UP} – double definition, the second a visible indication that HM is in residence.

19d  Cruise turning up the gay overtones part way through (6)
{VOYAGE} – hidden (part way through) and reversed (turning up) in the clue is a cruise.

20d  Enthusiast regularly supporting legless band (6)
{ZEALOT} – to get this enthusiast put a phrase (1,3) meaning regularly or consistently after (supporting, in a down clue) the nickname of the English rock band which had Robert Plant as its singer, without its last letter (legless).

21d  Restrains great bat (6)
{SOBERS} – this cricketer was not only a great bat but also a great bowler and a pretty good fielder. The answer also means has a restraining effect.


Not only has Elgar incorporated two Ninas, he’s also given us clues for them as a bonus:

Rows 7 and 9: ‘Sh!’ unlocatable in OED? (3,1,4)
{NOT A WORD} – double definition.

Column 8: Here’s one responsible listener on vacation listening in (5)
{ELGAR} – the one responsible for today’s enjoyment is the organ of hearing (listener) with a vacated L(istenin)G inside.

It’s difficult to pick favourite clues because I enjoyed so many, but I’ll plump for 12a, 19a and 3d. How about you?

28 comments on “Toughie 668

  1. Once again I am in complete agreement with Gazza: star rating, joy, fun, loving the pangram and Ninas and everything. I decided it was too hard to pick favourite clues but I agree with your ‘plumpings’. Superb, thank you very much Elgar. Thanks to Gazza too.

    I have a feeling that the rest of the weeks Toughies won’t match today’s and yesterday’s offerings. Fingers crossed I am proved wrong.

  2. Such a joy to finish an Elgar.
    Thank you for the explanations of 6ac 23ac and 8d.
    Otherwise it fell into place with great wit and so many good clues.
    I suppose 13ac and 12ac were just my favourites.
    Afraid I didn’t spot the Ninas.

  3. Yet again two of my pet hates in clue compiling.
    1) If N is deduced from ‘No’ then it should be written as ‘No.’
    2) If an answer is to be separated by an apostrophe it should be indicated as thus in the clue … all hyphenated words are indicated in the clue with a hyphen so why not those with apostrophes

    1. It is, but far more commonly you’ll see the abbreviations Y/N used in e.g. form-filling & questionnaires. Their acceptance in crosswordland seems very recent, which is surprising as they’ve had this sort of use for as long as I can remember.

      1. Thanks, Anax. It still doesn’t seem to have made it into Chambers (unless it’s in the very latest edition).

  4. Splendid stuff. Agree with CS on the other blog that it’s not the full hob-nails but tricky enough for me!
    Too many great clues to pick a favourite!

    Many thanks to Elgar and Gazza.

  5. I admit to having used Google a lot more than usual today to check (eg 2d) but still a mighty fine outing as usual. Having put vergers originally for 19d I came to a hideous stop on 20d until I thought about a pangram and all became clear, well clearer anyway until reading Gazzas hints. Agreed faves being 3d 12a, but I did have a chuckle at 7d so i’ll add to list. Thanks to Gazza and Elgar.

  6. 23a To date today’s top compiler (no introduction needed), call me to fix! (3-4)

    The paper had “call Elgar to fix it”. Confusing!

    1. Thanks for that, JB. I’ll update the blog. I can see why it was changed for the on-line version.

        1. Why are there differences between the Paper version and the On-line version? I think I’ve asked this before?

          I think that BD’s answer previously was “…do you really expect me to be able to answer that!”

          1. I think in this instance it’s because the setter’s name is at the top of the puzzle in the paper so everyone knows who it is. In the web site it’s possible to find out but it’s a bit of a fag so most people probably wouldn’t bother.

            1. I reacall that there was an Osmosis Toughie which had OSMOSIS as one of the solutions, and the paper version of clue referred to ‘me’ (ie him) whereas the online version had to say something else as only the paper solvers knew who ‘me’ might be.

  7. The Red book gives “to date” as “until now” and “all-time” as only occurring with “high” or “low” and meaning a level never before reached.
    So the clue makes some sense if the first half “To date today’s top” is the definition but the second half is then missing a “T” !
    Did the editor miss off the word “it” from the paper version because that would sort it?…..just.
    To have “To date” as the definition doesn’t seem to be adequate.
    Perhaps Elgar would elucidate…..or doesn’t he pop in here?

    1. There’s a table available on-line called the All-time Premier League Table which gives cumulative statistics for all teams who’ve ever played in the league from the day it was formed up to the current date. That seems to match the “to date” definition.

      1. Thank you for that.
        Soccer (which I presume is what it is all about) has always been a closed book to me.
        Chambers may catch up with that interpretation in due course.
        It was really just a nit-pick.
        Forgot to say above thanks to Gazza for his superb blog which as ever has super pictures and videos.
        Shows that the little extras are appreciated.

  8. Well this was a riot!. I glanced at it at lunch and filled in two and the devil that is Elgar kept me in the pub this evening after what was going to be a ‘swiftie’ since I had resolved not to leave until I had finished.
    May I state for the record that a nice lady (who is a Scrabble player that hates Cricket!) got the last clue (21d) just from the checking letters – my favourite. At which point I kissed her and bade her goodnight!.
    Serious fun! – the 3 unknown words were studiously ground out and then checked (1a, 2d and 5d – nice to see a Honey Bear alongside the Ratel/Honey Badger!) and some of the rest required flashes of inspiration and perspiration in equal measure.
    Cheers to Elgar and to gazza for confirming my enravellment of 23a.
    What, as Gazza asks, are we in for later on in the week!?

      1. Thanks – sorry for the lack of emails – we have banged a 4 day job out in 2.4 days (we wouldn’t have been going back tomorrow if the sparks had not confused the grey cables – they were good at the purple ones though!

  9. I struggled with this one today, but got both the bonus clues straight away!

    Could someone explain the ‘Nina’ concept for me? I recognise Elgar’s penchant for pangrams, but I don’t know what you mean by Ninas!

  10. I came to this brilliant crossword late. Truly brilliant. The stting for ‘Atlanta’ was very subtle.

Comments are closed.