Toughie 726 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 726

Toughie No 726 by Elgar

Trouble Double

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

Greetings from the Calder Valley! Today’s Friday Fiend is young Elgar who presents us with an enjoyable challenge that unfolded nicely as you solved it. I managed to crack the left side fairly quickly, but the right side proved reasonably elusive, but once one of the answers came to me, everything else fell into place. After last Friday’s mental mayhem, this seemed positively joyous.

The puzzle has four twelve letter answers, each comprising a phrase made up of two six-letter words that are fairly similar and differ only in an odd letter. The cluing is of Elgar’s impeccable standard and contain some nicely misleading pieces which don’t leave you scratching your head and wondering why you are persevering.

Favourite clues are highlighted in blue, and we would welcome you giving your own enjoyment rating by clicking on the star panel at the end of this.


1a    Plastic dome attached to telescope causing confusion (6-6)
{HUBBLE-BUBBLE} We start with a word for a plastic or soap sphere which goes after the name of a famous space telescope, soon to be retired. You will then have a phrase that means confusion or the name of a pipe used for smoking in the Middle and Far East.

8a    Carpetmaker, being essential to Marxist-Leninist, got brought back by first leader of Russia (5)
{ISTLE} I found this a bit confusing. Basically the answer, which is a fibre used in carpet-making, is hidden twice, once in ‘Marxist-Leninist’ and then hidden backwards in the surname of a former leader of Russia named Boris.

9a    Dry back before beginning to rub in dressing for sore old man (9)
{PATRIARCH} A word that describes the elder (male) statesman of a family is found by taking a word meaning to dry, as in washing, reversing it (back) and adding R (beginning to rub) and placing it all inside something that can mean a dressing for a wound, but more commonly a type of dressing containing nicotine to help smokers give up.

11a    Contact with non-local telephone box name (5,4)
{TRUNK CALL} A phrase that refers to a long-distance phone conversation is found by taking the name for a large box or suitcase and adding to it a word that means to name something. Here someone rings the speaking c(l)ock!

12a    Current progress (5)
{GOING} A word that means ‘current progress’ can also mean current, as in the expression ‘ __ concern’ and also to progress as in to move in a direction.

13a    Plumpness that is not true, nakedness turning heads (9)
{ROTUNDITY} Something that means plumpness or portliness is revealed by taking a word that means rubbish, untrue and then adding a word nakedness that has its first two letters switched(‘turning heads’).

16a    In swindle it’s sold to west and east in stages (5)
{PUPAE} The name for stages in an insect’s birth is found by completing the expression ‘to be sold _ ___’, meaning to be swindled. Reverse this (indicated by ‘to west’) and add E for east.

18a    VP once again, Government admitted (5)
{AGNEW} The surname of a celebrated American Vice-President (whose full name is an anagram of GROW A PENIS) is found by placing G (for Government) inside a word meaning once again.

19a    Instrument damage restricts doctor in backsliding University (9)
{HARMONIUM} An old-fashioned type of musical instrument can be discovered by taking a word meaning damage and inside it placing MO (Medical Officer – doctor), adding NI (‘IN’ backsliding) and U for University.

20a    One making record that’s a little light (5)
{TAPER} A type of lighter for fires, candles and pipes is also an ‘agent-noun’ for someone who makes recordings.

22a    Reports on long Scottish snake (9)
{BOOMSLANG} A type of very large venomous snake is revealed by taking a word that means report (in the weaponry sense, like a bang or noise of explosion) and adding a way of saying long north of the border.

25a    Formidable old bedder out to get sloshed? (9)
{REDOUBTED} An anagram (indicated by ‘to get sloshed’) of BEDDER OUT gives an arachaic word for formidable.

26a    Provide quality for Freud neurotic repressed when reclining (5)
{ENDUE} Hidden backwards inside ‘Freud neurotic’ is something that means to supply or provide with.

27a    Having generated negative feedback, one trashes tranny (6,6)
{GENDER BENDER} An expression that means like a transvestite or cross-dresser is revealed by taking an expression that means generated or gave birth to and adding NEG (for negative). This needs to be reversed, and then add to it an agent noun for someone who finishes something.


1d    It’s highly charged and criminally received, though not returned (3,6)
{HOT BUTTON} An American expression for an emotive or sensitive issue is formed by taking a slang word meaning stolen, add to this a word that means ‘though’. Tack on to this TON (NOT returned).

2d & 14d    Living on the edge, divers known to have vigorous urge to blaze a trail (5,3,6)
{BREAK NEW GROUND} This one really stumped me. I managed to get it from intersecting letters but struggled to explain how it worked. An expression meaning to blaze a trail comes from a word meaning a livelihood around (on the edge) of anagrams of KNOWN and URGE (indicated by divers and vigorous). Does it work for you? Discuss.

3d    As in the Bible, mites slept around shelters (5)
{LEPTA} Nothing to do with insects here, you need to think of ‘mite’ as used in the expression ‘The Widow’s Mite’, i.e. a sum of money. Check the Big Red Book if you are still baffled. Hidden in the expression ‘slept around’ is the name for Greek coinage.

4d    An extra triple bay rum (3,6)
{BIT PLAYER} A word for an extra, as in a stage or film production, is revealed by making an anagram (indicated by ‘rum’) of TRIPLE BAY.

5d & 24d    Advise book circle on doing drugs (5,2,2,5)
{BRING UP TO SPEED} A fairly straight-forward word sum is needed here. An expression that means to inform is revealed by taking B (book) placing on this a word meaning a circle; add to this a short phrase meaning ‘doing’ (as in ‘What are you __ __?’) and the name for some drugs, amphetamines.

6d    Dreaded disease is right inside ear, one concludes (5)
{LURGI} The word for illness as popularised by the Goon Show back in the days of black and white radio is found by putting R (right) inside a word for an ear and adding I (one) at the end.

7d    Beating driver who may be fuelling sales talk (6-6)
{PITTER-PATTER} An expression meaning ‘beating’, as in a heart is obtained by finding a cryptic definition for a possible word that could mean someone who refuels or fixes cars during a race and adding something that refers to the verbal technique of a salesman.

10d    One squeezing a jumper on the cutie, say? (6-6)
{HUGGER-MUGGER} This time you are looking for an expression that means secretive (on the QT, or the homophone as cited here). You need a word for someone who squeezes or embraces, perhaps following David Cameron’s advice with people wearing hoodies. Add to this a type of criminal who would jump out on you to steal your goods. Incidentally it’s also the name for a type of crocodile!

14d    See 2 down

15d    One stops at crease, batting for both teams in innings: zero runs ultimately (9)
{INHIBITOR} This made me smile rather a lot! The name for a type of medication that stops or interferes with a chemical process is found by taking the expression that refers to when a cricketer is at the crease; add to this the name for the innings and insert an expression that relates to ‘batting for both sides’ as in sexual ambivalence. Add to all this OR (Zero and Runs).

17d    Single big blow anticipated by pub lover (9)
{PHILANDER} Such a short clue, but so much in it that will need to be explained! After PH (abbreviation for a pub), add I (single) plus a word meaning a large punch or blow, this will give you a noun that means someone who carries on with another person, often in a scandalous way!

21d    Home that’s concerning chaplain? (5)
{PADRE} The name for a priest, especially in the military is found by solving a word sum. Take the name for your home or apartment and add the short word that means about or concerning.

23d    Dad’s Army, maybe — or out-of-uniform member of platoon? (5)
{OLDIE} This was the last one I tried to work out. I initially entered HODGE, thinking it related to the character in Dad’s Army who was the Air Raid Marshall, though I then remembered it was HODGES. D’oh!! It’s actually a word for an old person which is created by dropping the outside letters (out-of-uniform) from a member of a military platoon.

24d    See 5d

If you’d like a bit of light relief after this, you could do a lot worse than having a go at Prolixic’s puzzle in the Church Times:

Church Times Crossword No. 1151

20 comments on “Toughie 726

  1. I had FENDER BENDER for 27a, obviously couldn’t parse it, but then the web site said it was wrong so I had a rethink and the penny finally dropped. I’d been thinking tranny was a Ford Transit and ‘trashes tranny’ the definition, D’oh!

    Not sure about 2d/14d but I can’t think of anything better!

    Got the answer to 8a but didn’t completely parse it – could see it was a hidden word but the ‘first leader of Russia’ bit defeated me :sad:.

    Thanks Elgar for some great stuff and to Tilsit for explaining 8a.

  2. Great fun – not fluffy slippers but not impaling boots either. I hope Elgar will come along to explain the 2/14d mystery as it has kept several of us bemused for some time. Thanks to Elgar for a great Toughie and Tilsit for the explanations.

  3. Excellent crossword from Elgar and an excellent review from Tilsit, many thanks to both. I’m still not too sure about 8a but I’m happy to accept Tilsits explanation, I certainly can’t think of one.

  4. Thanks Dave, parsing on 2/14 and 8 is correct…

    ….and congratulations! Your blog is up before the Indy’s! Who would have bet on that…..

    1. It was ready a lot earlier but I held it back so as not to clash with the other three posts today! Tilsit was up half of the night solving and writing it up.

      1. I had a date with the ultrasound people.

        They give you a choice of music while you are being zapped (it feels like someone repeatedly flicking you with an elastic band), or you can take your own. I don’t recommend The Rolling Stones, the ultrasound may make them break up.

        I’ll get my hat……

  5. Entertainig fare on offer today, re 7d pitter/ driver I thought was a tad ambiguous thanks to Elgar and to Tilsit for the review.

  6. re. the 2/14d I tried brave new worlds – and for 10d had figure hugger . These two errors somewhat slowed me (I also had fender bender , for no apparent reason )
    Nevertheless finished finally and thanks for the revue .

  7. A mere half-pint puzzle today so definitely at the easy end of the Elgar Toughie spectrum. Good fun

  8. Re 2&14d “Living on the edge” means that the anagram of “known” and “urge” is surrounded by “bread” (living – cash, wonga, etc), unless I’m mistaken.


    Many thanks to Elgar for another belter.

    1. I thought that was what was in the review, but without mentioning the word bread.

      The bit I was uncertain about is whether “on the edge” (singular) can indicate containment.

      1. So it was. I read it a little too hastily.

        I think it works. Although you could argue that it’s “on” two edges, I think that the meaning’s clear enough once the anagram’s worked out.

      2. Refer to emails this morning – we were of one mind! I think it’s a bit weak but just about works. We have confirmation from Elgar that it’s what he meant but it’s not my favourite clue – although easily solvable from the checkers and definition.
        This morning I saw ‘Elgar’ as setter, thought ‘Friday’ and nearly didn’t bother because of the unspoken threat of the impaling boots, or worse – I still have nightmares about last Friday! This one, however, was really a lot of fun (honestly) and I don’t often say that abouit an Elgar, especially not on a Friday!!

  9. Late to the party again, got the 2, 14 parsed correctly but am so sat on the stupid step, 6d I thought I had invented a variant spelling, and could not parse 27aoodood. Oh well. Thanks to Elgar and Tilsit. Tilsit depending on hospital appointments re my wrist will be at the northern sloggers and betters.

    1. I am typing on behalf of andy and meant to say 27a. You people are amazing.Now to walk his dogs, hmmmm

    2. Hi Andy, when’s the Northern Slogges thingy? Back to the UK soon so may be able to fit it in with a bit of luck Must have missed those posts. I know Tilsit was trying to arrange somethnig but no idea of when or where but I now live in hope!.

      Be nice to meet up again, if possible.

      Hope your wrist recovering and you bought that dog a very large bone :grin:



      1. Hoping to be there, and to catch up with you Mike, there is a post by Tilsit on the fiften squared blog. Dog indeed had a very large treat, though to avoid jealousy had to give it to him seperate from the Boxers. Wrist is on the mend but my left hand gets very weak, with only one hand operating it’s so frustrating that even the simplest of tasks seem so bl**dy complicated. Try food shopping!! Cheers, say Hi to Pommette please

  10. Re 2/14

    Showed this clue to pommette this evening and she has no problem at all with living = bread. When asked is “on the edge” a reasonable containment indicator she seemed to think I was being stupid or it was a trick question :grin:

    If it’s OK by Elgar and OK by pommette then it’s OK by me – who am I to argue? :lol:

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