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Toughie 740

Toughie No 740 by Elkamere

Your Starter for Ten …

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

BD Rating – Difficulty ***Enjoyment ***

We have a pleasant and enjoyable mid-week Toughie from Elkamere with plenty of his usual penny-drop moments.
Do let us know how you got on and please click on one of the stars below to register your enjoyment factor.

Across Clues

1a  Starter — ‘alternative fuel’, you might say? (4,1’6)
{HORS D’OEUVRE} – this first course sounds like (you might say) an alternative and a word for diesel used in road vehicles.

7a  Virus stops it being destructive (5)
{SHIVA} – this is a Hindu god, one of whose attributes is the destroyer. The abbreviation for the virus associated with causing AIDS goes inside (stops) another abbreviation for “it” or sex appeal.

8a  Plan for good artist to join French woman (9)
{PROGRAMME} – this plan comes from assembling 1) a prefix meaning “for”, 2) G(ood), 3) the usual abbreviation for artist and d) the abbreviation of the title of a married woman in France.

10a  Old tank, one on hand (7)
{OVATION} – string together O(ld), a large tank, I (one) and ON.

11a  Lawmaker’s reaction when one drops out (7)
{ENACTOR} – this lawmaker is an anagram (out) of REACT(i)ON with the I (one) dropped.

12a  Covered in crumbs, I look extremely white (5)
{MILKY} – crumbs! here is an exclamation of surprise. Inside a similar exclamation insert I and the outer (extremely) letters of L(oo)K.

13a  Ring in extravagant gift held by two again and again (9)
{EIGHTFOLD} – insert O (ring) in an anagram (extravagrant) of GIFT HELD to get a description of an increase of the order of 2 x 2 x 2.

16a  Lodge walls can initially affect course (9)
{NEWCASTLE} – I’m not sure about the definition here – this city in North-East England has a racecourse (albeit not one of the better-known ones) so I presume that’s what is meant (if you have a better explanation do let me know). I’m on surer ground (I hope) with the wordplay – a verb meaning to lodge or settle goes round (walls) our abbreviation for what North Americans call a can and the initial letter of A(ffect).

18a  On retirement, some obstacle to his pension (5)
{HOTEL} – hidden (some) and reversed (on retirement) in the clue is the sort of pension that you may stay at on the continent.

19a  Cricketer admits turning on associates (7)
{HOBNOBS} – the definition is associates or mixes socially. The surname of a famous (and knighted) English batsman contains (admits) ON reversed (turning).

22a  Lottery old doctor enters frequently for roll-over? (7)
{TOMBOLA} – this is the sort of lottery found at a village fête. O(ld) and one of the abbreviations for a medical doctor go inside a phrase meaning frequently (1,3) which is reversed (roll-over).

23a  End of funny assault course (9)
{PUNCHLINE} – the bit of a joke (funny) which is meant to produce a laugh is a charade of a verb to assault and a synonym for course or direction.

A pig and a chicken were walking by a church where a charity event was taking place. Getting caught up in the atmosphere, the pig suggested to the chicken that they each make an offering.
“Great idea!” the chicken replied. “Let’s offer them ham and eggs!”
“Not so fast,” said the pig. “For you, that’s an offering. For me, it’s a sacrifice.”

24a  Ring and how we see it covering radius (5)
{TORUS} – this is a geometrical term for a ring. For mathematicians it’s: a surface of revolution generated by revolving a circle in three dimensional space about an axis coplanar with the circle. For non-mathematicians (like me) it’s something that looks like a bagel. Put a phrase meaning how we see it (2,2) around (covering) R(adius).

25a  Coat he found in dream promotion (11)
{FURTHERANCE} – the definition here is promotion or advancement. Start with a type of coat (preferably faux rather than real) then insert HE in a dream or hypnotic state.

Down Clues

1d  Legal successor with a real career (4-2-3)
{HEIR-AT-LAW} – a legal term for a successor is an anagram (career) of WITH A REAL.

2d  Fact about landed gentry’s termination (7)
{REALITY} – start with a preposition meaning about or concerning, continue with a dated verb meaning landed or came to ground and finish with the terminating letter of (gentr)Y.

3d  Exercise in study girl with dictionary finds weak (9)
{DEPENDENT} – the definition here is weak or vulnerable. Insert the abbreviation for physical exercise in a study or retreat, then finish with the surname of Susie, the girl in dictionary corner on Countdown.

4d  Call girl accepts fine (5)
{EVOKE} – insert (accepts) an abbreviation meaning fine or satisfactory in a girl’s name to make a verb to call or bring to mind.

5d  Green vehicle that primarily carries red plastic (7)
{VERDANT} – a type of vehicle and the primary letter of T(hat) contain (carries) an anagram (plastic) of RED.

6d  SW visitor starts to engage mounted police (5)
{EMMET} – this is what those rude people in Cornwall call a tourist (you’d be much better off coming to Devon where we’re much more polite!). The initial letters of E(ngage) and M(ounted) are followed by the common abbreviation for the capital’s police force.

7d  Presenting talent in Spanish, who worried about medium? (11)
{SHOWMANSHIP} – an anagram (worried) of SPANISH WHO goes round M(edium).

9d  US cash overseas distorted our figure, auditors admit (4-7)
{EURO-DOLLARS} – this is US currency held across the Atlantic. Hearing organs (auditors) contain (admit) an anagram (distorted) of OUR and a figure or plaything.

14d  Picking up jar, empty lake (5,4)
{GREAT BEAR} – this is a large lake in Canada. It’s a homophone (picking up) of a) a verb to jar and b) an adjective that sounds like empty (like Old Mother Hubbard’s cupboard).

15d  Unusually courteous delegate (9)
{OUTSOURCE} – a verb meaning to delegate to a third-party is an anagram (unusually) of COURTEOUS.

17d  For a second, answer him! (7)
{ANOTHER} – A(nswer) is followed by how you might emphatically refer to him (3,3) to make a second or alternative.

18d  MP in Derby possibly working in London suburb (7)
{HAMPTON} – MP is wearing what Derby is an example of, then add a synonym for working or functioning to make this suburb in the London Borough of Richmond upon Thames.

20d  Outlaw meets forces in Scottish town (5)
{BANFF} – this is a town in North-East Scotland (not Barra, which was my original thought – yes I know that it’s an island but I thought its main town might have the same name). Put a verb to outlaw ahead of the abbreviation for force repeated.

21d  Exclusive, by special request? (5)
{SWISH} – an informal adjective meaning upmarket or exclusive comes from putting a synonym of request after S(pecial).

The clues I enjoyed most today were 12a, 19a and 9d. How about you?

29 comments on “Toughie 740

  1. Could you all wait until say 3pm and then post the answers to both puzzles? I am always tempted to look and then it’s game over. Please……just for me…….thanks Dave and friends……

  2. First things first… Not thanks for the review Gazza, although I’m chuffed with it as ever, but for the pic of Susie. It’s what I wanted. More than anything in the world. Oh. She’s married. Humph.

    1. So when you set that clue, you just hoped that it would be on a day when Gazza would be doing the review??!! :D

  3. Anyone got a darkened room handy? I would give this at least 4* if not 5* difficulty. I looked at it for a long time before going off to a course (about which the least said about wasting time the better :( ) and only had about 13 solved, all on the right hand side. I have just spent another long time, looking and muttering and finally reached the end. I liked the same clues as Gazza and definitely needed a couple of his explanations.

    If Elkamere is mid-range Anax, I dread to think what the next Anax is going to be like :) Thanks to him and to Gazza too.

    And no, Joe, we don’t want to wait until 3pm for the answers to both puzzles – you just need to be more restrained!

    1. Oh my word! If you need the solace of the darkened room then what hope is there for the rest of us mere mortals?

      I will treat this as a training course i.e. I will do what I can then look to see what the instructor (Gazza) says are the answers then try and work out the labyrinthine route Elkamere took to get there.

      See you on the other side if we are spared.

  4. I found this one quite tricky in places, with the bottom half taking considerably longer to complete. Thanks to Elkamere for the challenging puzzle, and to gazza for the explanations, especially 16a and 3d (I have not watched Countdown since the lovely Carol left).

    1. I haven’t watched Countdown since well before Carol left but Ms Dent was around even then.

  5. Many thanks to Elkamere for a delightful and quite tricky toughie. Thanks also to Gazza for the explanations, I was able to finish this but needed the hints to see the reasoning for one or two.

  6. Phew! Tricky or what? Almost wish I hadn’t got back online! My brain now hurts :grin:

    Great puzzle which has caused me to scratch out most of the little bit left on top!

    Thanks to Anax and Gazza.

  7. Splendid puzzle as always from todays setter, tricky in places but very enjoyable favourites being 7a 12a 14d 19a and 25a thanks to Elkamere and to Gazza for a fine review.

  8. I have to say if completing Elkamere’s crosswords in the future requires me to know the surnames of peripheral participants on day time TV then he can shove it up his $¥&?%

    1. Julia, your comment had to be moderated because you’ve used your initials in the past. Both aliases should work from now on.

      Hobnobs as a noun means biscuits, but as a verb (as here) it means associates.

  9. I found this hard as well and my geography let me down (surprise, surprise!) with the town and the lake. Otherwise the usual fun trickiness from Elkamere (not quite the ussycat that he suggested on his blog!) – thanks to him and to gazza.

  10. Hello all. At long last, time to pay a proper visit (been wrestling with a new puzzle all day then following the Man City match, both leaving me exhausted). Thanks as ever to Gazza for the review and to all for your comments. It’s a little less fluffy slippers than I remember. I’ve solved about half of it, he-he.

    And that wbgeddes chappie needs to realise that describing the woman I love* as ‘peripheral’ is fighting talk where I come from (where I come from being a rather lexicographically-based fantasy land) but I’m rubbish at fighting so I’ll leave it at that.

    *Not really.

        1. It’s no problem really as she knows I really fancy Carol Vorderman :grin: I can also live wth her fixation on Sean Connery (showing her age there :grin:)!

  11. What a very very strange day, with the exception of a couple, I think the same as Jezza that I wasn’t quite sure about and was waiting Gazza to parse, this went in quicker than the back pager. Thanks Anax Elkamere / Anax and to Gazza obviously.

  12. An excellent puzzle with some splendid clues, most of which I got without necessarily understanding all the wordplay. However, I must say that I don’t think it’s fair to include minor celebrities from daytime TV shows which no self-respecting Telegraph reader would consider watching. (Would include a smiley here but can’t see where to get one).

    1. That’s an interesting point on a subject I’ve never seen discussed before. I know it’s a bit late in the day as regards this blog, but there is a question that’s worth putting out there – whether setters like it or not, crosswords tend to be associated with newspaper readership rather than the solvership of puzzles. Where should setters attempt to pitch their work?

      For those of us on the setting side we tend to think of crossword solvers first and foremost so, for me, I regard Countdown as the sort of programme word lovers would watch, regardless of what newspaper(s) they happen to read. In a roundabout way, I suppose I’m also saying that I have no idea if TV quiz shows are favoured by readers of certain newspapers!

      1. I’ve no idea about how setters begin compiling a crossword. It must be very difficult to avoid any GK. All solvers will have their own “specialist subject”.

        With regard to “Countdown” – I don’t know which bum I prefer – Carol Vorderman or Rachel Riley! Not very good at the “Numbers Game” – normally distracted. And the lovely Susie Dent…………………

  13. Cryptic solvers – I need your help. I want to collect all the ‘double-barrel’ clues ever constructed. Here’s my own example:
    Reconstruct: foster natural landscape (6)
    Reconstruct: foster natural landscape (9)
    In other words, the exact same clue but two legitimate different solutions. I only know of one other example so far but I keep getting told it’s an old device(!)
    Please send me your examples or post them here:

    Sorry for the intrusion and thanks in advance for your help!


  14. Sorry for the double posting…
    Cryptic solvers – I need your help. I want to collect all the ‘double-barrel’ clues ever constructed. Here’s my own example:
    Reconstruct: foster natural landscape (6)
    Reconstruct: foster natural landscape (9)
    In other words, the exact same clue but two legitimate different solutions. I only know of one other example so far but I keep getting told it’s an old device(!)
    Please send me your examples or post them here:

    Sorry for the intrusion and thanks in advance for your help!


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