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Toughie 714

Toughie No 714 by Elgar

The Big Picture

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

Greetings from New York City, where your reporter has now learned four new words, thanks to today’s offering from Elgar.

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1a    It’s easy to see through this family gang — signs may be ominous (10,5)
(MAGNIFYING GLASS) Anagram (may be ominous) “family gang signs” to get the big picture.

9a    The skill of the online performer is sweet (5,4)
(APPLE TART) A possible “skill of the online performer” (6,3) can be respaced for a sweet (that I’d call a pastry).

10a    War-reporter attending University later! (5)
(ADIEU) A war reporter named Kate plus the abbreviation for university equals a word of farewell.

11a & 20d    Card one’s fortunate to have to play? (1,6,2,5)
(A FRIEND AT COURT) A cryptically defined phrase that’s an anagram (played) of CARD I FORTUNATE.

12a    Demonstration, maybe by students, not against examination (7)
(PROTEST) If you’re not con-exam, you might see a student demonstration.

13a    Talking about eggs (3)
(OVA) A word for eggs sounds sort of like a word for “about.”

14a    It does easily secure shop’s ultimate requirement (7)
(DEPOSIT) The last letter of “shop” is included in a loose (easy) arrangement of IT DOES for the cryptically defined requirement.

17a    Compound 11 introduced into old valve (7)
(DIOXIDE) Nothing to do with the answer to another clue, a chemical compound puts a Roman numeral within a device more commonly thought of as an electron tube.

19a    All well, presumably? Answer on Cameron’s back burner (3-4)
(OIL-LAMP) If all is well, then there’s nothing bad, right? That, plus abbreviations for “answer” and a reversal of Cameron’s title show an incandescent device. [I’m not sure why the enumeration shows a hyphen – it’s not that way in any of the dictionaries that I checked. BD]

22a    Cack-handed group asking God to assist cast? (7)
(PLAYERS) A word for people seeking divine guidance changes its handedness in the second position for a theatrical cast.

24a    Strange craft a few of you forgot (3)
(UFO) … wherein “a few of” might be read as “hidden in.”

25a    Nahuatl, round the bend, tasted preserve (7)
(AZTECAN) An adjective describing Nahuatl is formed by a word meaning “tasted” surrounding a bend and followed by a word meaning “to preserve.”

26a    See 6 down

28d    Young Japanese geeks having neither time nor energy for new takeout (5)
(OTAKU) Delete T and E (time and energy) from TAKEOUT and rearrange the remainder to reveal the young Japanese geeks.

29d    Trainspotter’s food and drink devoured after one (9)
(ANORAKISH) After A, put a Turkish spirit within a little snack for an adjective of what a trainspotter is.

30d    Reason for Emerald Isle nationalist seeing red? (2,8,5)
(ST. PATRICK’S CROSS) An Irish symbol, or a statement of an Irish symbol’s anger.


1d    For Americans, the essential On the Origin of Species (cheers ’em up, with kicks) (4,3,8)
(MEAT AND POTATOES) A U.S. phrase describing basic things can be built from a word for “on,” some genetic code (Origin of Species), a salutation (cheers) and EM all reversed, followed by another word for “kicks.”

2d    Georgia’s an easy catch (5)
(GAPER) The postal code for Georgia has a word for “an” to get a bit of cricket slang.

3d    I caught summer in Bordeaux when joining parts of refresher course (3,4)
(ICE TEAS) In order (joining parts), letters for I and “caught,” the French word for summer and a synonym for “when” become a (food) course that many find refreshing.

4d    Ready to supply the limit of human memory? (4,3)
(YEAR DOT) Nothing to do with preparedness or money. Just treat the first two words with suppleness for a phrase suggesting the beginning of time.

5d    Reconditioning for poet and writer’s block (7)
(NOTEPAD) Another well-hidden anagram, this one taking POET AND for a writer’s “block.”

6d & 26a    A musician, I can go up to perform a turn with comic, foremost of impressionists (7,7)
(GIACOMO PUCCINI) Someone who, admittedly, did play the organ, but is far better known as a composer, can be identified by mixing the letters (to perform a turn) of I CAN GO UP COMIC and the first letter of Impressionists.

7d    Some cat hemming in one resolving subtle differences (1,4,4)
(A FINE LINE) Place IN inside “some” + “cat” to get a phrase for what’s between two similar things.

8d    During appearances jazz quartet’s demeanour finally a sort of possession (9,6)
(SQUATTER’S RIGHTS) The letters of QUARTETS get jazzed, together with the final letter of demeanouR, inside a word for “appearances” for a legal term of residency.

15d    Pander to all in storm when entering current light shower (5,4)
(PILOT LAMP) A word for “pander” surrounds the storm-tossed letters of TO ALL for another incandescent device.

16d    The thinking man’s conclusion (1,2)
(I AM) A phrase from Descartes is referenced cryptically. (Must … resist … urge … to say … the clue is … the sum of its parts ….)

18d    The goon told us that he was the Italian lecturer (3)
(ILL) A reference to a misleadingly lower-cased Goon’s epitaph is the Italian word for “the” and an abbreviation for lecturer. [Apparently the inscription had to be written in Gaelic in order for it to be approved by the Chichester Diocese. BD]

20d    See 11 across

21d    Strike one following play on words from Asian language (7)
(PUNJABI) Or, “play on words” + “punch” + “one” = Asian language.

22d    Stocking up on 50% each? Mr Logic’s turning his head (7)
(POPSOCK) A stocking is built from only one letter from each of UP and ON, and a “Star Trek” character’s name with the first two letters swapped.

23d    Very old Circle Line conveying companion, first-class (7)
(ARCHAIC) A line that’s part of a circle surrounds letters representing “companion” and “first-class” for a word meaning very old.

27d    One bar’s drinking time’s run out for Jones the Architect (5)
(INIGO) A word for a metal bar is around a “one,” and then the T (time) is removed, to get the architect’s first name. [Why is the enumeration given as (5,0) online? BD]

Many thanks to Jon for giving up his Thursday evening (New York time) to produce this review. I really thought I might need to give him a nudge with 18 down, but he ferreted it out himself.  BD

32 comments on “Toughie 714

  1. Think I’ve broken a tooth on that “piece of cake”!

    Lots of good stuff but 18d is my favourite. I could see what the answer was fron the Italian lecturer but it was a fair while before the penny dropped on the wordplay.

    Thanks to Elgar and Jon.

  2. Not quite a go and lie down in a darkened room level of difficulty but certainly a trip to the Twilight Zone (or was that the solving process!). Many thanks to Elgar for the second brain bender of the week. I hear he has a third tomorrow in the Independent that is “fiendish”.

    Thanks too to Jon88 for the review.

  3. This for me was a return to the old Elgar Friday Toughies – when you have to look at the crossword, write in a couple, mutter a bit, put in a couple more, do what you are actually paid to do and after a considerable while (I had better not exactly say how long for fear of being edited) and the application of several coats of Tippex, I reached the end, and then spent another 15 minutes working out the 4 I didn’t quite understand the wordplay of. Thanks to Elgar for a right proper workout of the cryptic grey matter – I presume the piece of cake you thought this one resembled was nothing like my lovely soft delicious blog birthday cake last week :D

    Thanks to Jon too. Tilsit knew what he was doing when he offered you this one :) He informs me that the op went well and he is recovering well.

  4. Wow, I thought I was doing quite well but it took me ages to finish and I needed the hints for 28a, 18d and 27d, many thanks to Elgar for a fiendish crossword and to Jon for a superb review and much needed hints.

  5. Definitely fiendish – certainly needed the help of the hints and tips on a few – Thank you Jon88. Learn something new everyday! Excellent!!

  6. Well done Jon for cracking the “Terribly English” clues – 9 & 10a and 2 & 18d. At least you had 1d on your side. Just imagine the outcrying and gnashing of teeth if this one had been on the back page!

  7. Thanks to my friend Jon for covering today. I’m still in Huddersfield Infirmary after the kidney stone zapping yesterday. Hope to go home tomorrow, all things being well, a few (kidney) stones lighter.

    Survived the battle with Elgar today although I hadn’t heard of a couple of the longer answers. Thought the “musician” definition for Puccini was a bit iffy, although I suppose correct.

    Thanks again to Jon and to Mr H for a ferocious scrap.

  8. . . . . and why is the word ‘an’ transposable with ‘per’. Per is through in Latin if my schooldays were correct ‘per ardua ad astra’ etc. What am I missing here?

    1. i wondered that too wbgeddes. one of those that you write in, but hope you have to never explain why, cheers Gazza

      1. It’s one of those crosswordland equivalents that come up regularly but I always miss! One day I’ll remember – hope Jay isn’t reading this or it will come up again soon on a Wednesday!

  9. Didn’t do at all well. Got several clues that I dismissed because I couldn’t see the wordplay. For instance: 13a. “Ova” “Over” “Talking about” ? Rubbish! and as for 22d…To ladies 22d are known as “popsox” or “knee highs”. and they are not “stockings”. If you must venture into the realms of ladies’ lingerie get the terminology right! I must admit I’ve never had to talk about them in the singular.

    Off to New York myself next week. Perhaps some of Jon88’s brilliance will rub off on me! I hope so.

  10. my favourite has to be 18d, not entirely convinced i understand 19a, i’ll sleep on that one. Where in the world i dredged up 28a is beyond me but i genuinely had heard the term. Thanks to Jon and Elgar

      1. oh for the love of…, just bandaging my forehead as it hit the coffee table somewhat abruptly. dear dear. thanks as ever Gazza

  11. @crypticsue: Like you, I solved the puzzle over a period of time, two or three clues at a time, and then needed to hit the books for the unknowns.
    @Digby: 90% of knowledge is knowing whom to ask! Thanks to Big Dave and Tilsit for explaining some things.
    @JB: If you need the part of my brilliance that knows where the best pizza is, get in touch.

  12. I liked this puzzle a lot (and the review – thanks Jon88!).

    Like the reviewer, I thought that the non-capitalisation of “Goon” in 18d was misleading, although I might have put it a little more strongly. The homphone in 13a relies on a regional pronunciation, and isn’t a homophone at all for many of us. Those quibbles aside though, there was plenty to enjoy and admire about this puzzle. Not as difficult as some Elgar oferings, I think, but the b****r had me desperately trying to fit a “W” into the last couple of answers!

  13. Thanks to Elgar & the reviewer. Big Dave asked me to say how I got on. Well, surprise surprise, I got the answer to 1a, the first clue I looked at. Then got 4&5d, & 13a. Three of the four were anagrams & 13a couldn’t really have been anything else, but I didn’t really understand it. I’m completely stuck on the rest, so I’m going to educate myself ( hopefully) by looking at the hints.

  14. Phew! Defeated by the reasoning for five clues (11a/20d,25a, 28a, 1d and 2d) although apart from ‘court’ in 20d I had actually got four of them right (didn’t get 25a).Have never heard the term ‘gaper’ used in cricket. Where I come from an easy catch is a ;dolly’. The toughest Toughie I have done. Thanks to setter and reviewer.

  15. How would I ever live without the Toughie? Keeps my brain fiendishly engaged and puts a glint in my eye. Elgar’s No 714 has been a delicious nightmare.
    Am still grappling with it, but thanks to Big Dave et al, am getting the answers – written in whilst muttering “Oh for goodness’ sake…” and “Well I would never have got that one…” Thanks guys SESQUIPEDALIAN

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