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Toughie 798

Toughie No 798 by Elgar

When Nina met the Prince of Darkness…..

A Review from Crypticsue and Tilsit

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

Greetings from oop North and dahn Sarf. Crypticsue and I are delighted, in the best tradition of Richard and Judy, to host today’s epic from our arch-tormentor, Elgar.

It has to be said that this was one of his toughest challenges and both of your hosts found this a ferocious struggle. However perseverance paid off and this was a most rewarding solve with a nice amusing surprise. The puzzle contains a Nina (a hidden message) but there is a bonus clue to help you identify it. This is discussed at the end of the review so as not to spoil things for you.

Favourite clues are highlighted in blue. 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.


8a     One lamenting boomeranged dog knocked out on resort (8)
{BEMOANER} Remove the letters DOG from BOOMERANGED (dog knocked out) and then rearrange the remaining letters (on resort) to get someone who laments or complains.

9a     Ambassador touring strokes husky (6)
{HOARSE} Not a dog but how you might sound with a sore throat – The initials used to refer to an Ambassador are placed around(touring) people who row boats (of which strokes is an example).

10a     What may cut more slack, not taking sides (3)
{AXE} A tool for cutting – remove L and R (left and right sides) from something that meaning more slack or loose.

11a     Hold back work behind bar (6,2)
{BOTTLE UP} A double definition – hold back one’s emotions or replenish the stock of a bar.

12a     In extra time, good header! (6)
{WIDGET} This crafty little gadget was invented to be inserted into a can of beer so that when you pull the ring pull, the beer then pours out with a good head on it, thus making it, as the clue says, a good header! – Insert into one of the ways an extra can be scored in cricket and T(time), the first letter (header) of Good.

13a     Riot ignited by one warning ex-English captain to marshal force (11,4)
{TERRITORIAL ARMY} The part-time members of the British forces – Insert into a former England football captain (5) an anagram (ignited) of RIOT, I (one), and then a synonym for warn (of a fire perhaps)

15a     Not quite What the Butler Saw? Lines extensively removed (1,3,3)
{A FAR CRY} The definition here is an expression that means ‘extensively removed’ or a long distance. It’s “not quite” indicates nearly the whole word; What the Butler Saw here refers to the Joe Orton work which is a type of play with comedic buffoonery, think also Brian Rix. So it’s A plus the first four letters of this name of this type of drama, followed by the abbreviation for railway, split 1,3,3.

18a     On LSD, perhaps? I get separate fixes on Ecstasy (3-4)
{LEG-SIDE} The definition is ‘on’ – it’s cricket time again – Insert between the L and S of LSD, the two-letter abbreviation meaning perhaps, then insert I (from the clue) between the S and the D, and then finish up with the E for Ecstasy.

21a     Period in which volume’s penned by insecure ethologist about old plant (4-5,6)
{DOGS-TOOTH VIOLET} A very pretty flower is derived by inserting into a small mark used to indicate a full stop (or what the Americans would call a ‘period’ ) V (volume) and O (old) together with the letters from an anagram (insecure) of ETHOLOGIST. Quite a complicated explanation.

24a     One overambitious, highflying Italian tenor short of oxygen (6)
{ICARUS} The mythological person who tried, over ambitiously, to fly too close to the sun : I (Italian) followed by most of the name of a famous (Italian) tenor, the last letter, an O, being removed (short of oxygen).

25a     Co-ordinate one’s appeal after a first degree (8)
{ABSCISSA} One of the coordinates on a graph – A (from the clue), the abbreviation for a degree of Bachelor of Science, IS (one’s) and the two letter abbreviation meaning one has the potential to attract others.

26a     It’s said to one dispensing with unnecessary layer (3)
{HEN} The layer of one’s breakfast perhaps – remove the W (with unnecessary) from a word you might use to stop someone pouring any more of a drink into a glass.

27a     Oil-producer not well informed by institute (6)
{ILLUPI} The oil-producing nuts of an East Indian tree – A charade of not well (3) informed, in touch with current matters (2) and I (institute).

28a     Wherein those guilty of debt or larceny will accept shelter (3,5)
{THE FLEET} The old debtor’s prison in London – insert a noun meaning a shelter or the sheltered side into a synonym for larceny.


1d     Compete, but not have one sniff of blue cheese? (6)
{VENOSE} One of the characteristics of blue cheese – Remove the I (not one) from a verb meaning to compete and follow this with a verb meaning to sniff or examine by smelling.

2d     Hang about Ohio to dip into volume from Thurber? (6)
{LOITER} Very misleading as you go off and search for a work by Thurber. However, all you need to know is that he was an American! Insert O (Ohio) into an American spelling (hence the Thurber reference to indicate how he would spell it) of a metric liquid measure to get a verb meaning to hang about.

3d     In this, very much like others down the line, flabbergasted at censorship row (8-7)
{ANCESTOR WORSHIP} An Asian custom -to very much like, or venerate, one’s forebears (down the line) – an anagram (flabbergasted) of AT CENSORSHIP ROW.

4d     A cart brought round for hangings (7)
{DRAPERY} Nothing to do with the ones used for executions. Fabric used as hangings – Insert into a type of cart a preposition
meaning for (each).

5d    Maybe Eve maybe Adam has several weeks exciting — time’s up! (3,6,6)

{THE WEAKER VESSEL} St Peter claimed that of the first two people on earth, Eve was this. Maybe Adam could refer to him in the third person and precede it with T (time’s up!); then follow this with an anagram (exciting) of SEVERAL WEEKS, splitting the result into 3,6,6. (Richard says: “I’d never heard of this, being a lapsed agnostic”)

6d     Arms not utilised in violent smash-and-grab! (8)
{HANDBAGS} An confrontation which is histrionic but does not involve physical violence – remove ARMS (arms not utilized) from the letters of SMASH AND GRAB and make an anagram (violent) of the remaining letters.

7d     Respectable Oriental literary heroine master’s lifted aboard spirited horse (8)
{ESTEEMED} An adjective meaning respectable – E (Eastern, Oriental) followed by a spirited horse into which has been inserted EMMA (the literary heroine) Remove MA (master’s lifted) to complete the clue.

14d     Very wet valley needs to dry up (3)
{RIA} A normal drowned (very wet) valley is a reversal (up in a down clue) of a verb meaning to warm and dry.

16d     Bad spell of colic flu resulting in outgrowths (8)
{FLOCCULI} An anagram (bad spell!) of COLIC FLU produces fluffy masses or tufts.

17d     Strange to comprehend old Hindu dress that Lynn Anderson never promised you! (8)
{ROSARIUM} A more formal word for the type of garden border that Lynn Anderson never promised you in her 1970 hit – insert into a word meaning strange or peculiar (3) O (old) and a dress worn by an Indian lady. Richard says: “My esteemed colleague would like to lead you in a sing-along, as my vocal talents have been known to disturb dogs.”

ARVE Error: need id and provider

19d     Not having the top end in bed? (3)
{ILL} Remove the first letter (not having the top) from a verb meaning to end the life of and you are left with how you might be feeling if you were in bed.

20d     28 huntress failing to keep hold of American capital city (7)
{ATLANTA} One of the American state capitals is obtained by removing an A (failing…hold…American capital) from the Greek huntress who was said to be faster than most of the men she raced against, hence the description applied to her shown in the solution to 28a.

22d     ‘Nothing’ ex-English captain has ‘left to give’ — English winger (6)
{ORIOLE} A type of bird – O (nothing) an ex-English football captain (3) L (left) and E (English).

23d     The closure of the Flower Festival (6)
{EASTER} The closure or last letter of thE followed by a type of flower gives a Spring religious festival. After all those mind-bending clues, it was surprising how long it took for the penny to drop for this old chestnut!

Bonus clue — Across rows 1 and 15:

Cruel man travelled at 1mph, missing junction with difficulty (4,3,7)

{VLAD THE IMPALER} Across the top and bottom of this crossword is written the way in which Big Dave once referred to our setter, a name which has now spread widely, including in the introduction to Volume 1 of the All New Toughie Crossword Book.  An anagram (with difficulty) of TRAVELLED AT I MPH, with one of the T’s removed (missing junction).

Thanks to Elgar for a stupendous challenge, and we both hope you’ll persevere and get to enjoy the puzzle as much as we did. And now, farewell from your genial hosts. Judy is going back to her book club. And Richard? He’s just gone.

17 comments on “Toughie 798

  1. Phew! My brain now hurts with a vengeance!

    Never heard of 5d or the nuts but guessed both from the checkers!

    Solved the bonus clue early so that helped by giving loads of useful checkers.

    Many thanks to Elgar and also to Richard and Judy :grin:

  2. Many thanks to Elgar, Tilsit and Crypticsue, this was sheer torture and I’m afraid I got nowhere near finishing without the assistance of the two geniuses, most of it was reasonable but one or two darn near impossible. I really enjoy Elgar crosswords and have managed a few recently but this one put me smack back in my place, my congratulations to Tilsit and Crypticsue for finishing it and furnishing us lesser beings with some cracking hints.

  3. What a great puzzle to round the week off with. Thanks to our reviewers and the Prince of Darkness himself. 12ac is a cracker!

  4. As the phrase goes “only fight t’battles tha can win”. This i’nt one of ’em. It’s bin turned into tomorrer’s list fa t’Big Shop for t’olidays. (It’s much easier to speak Yorkshire than it is to write it!)

    Respect to Vlad & to Tilsit and to all those brave or foolhardy enough to venture solving it.

  5. Sorry, Elgar, but you are just too clever for me! A lot of wasted time today!

    I thought it was “the ultimate aim of a setter to do battle with a solver but to lose gracefully”.

    You seem to have other ideas! Good Luck to you!

    Memo to self – never ever try an Elgar on a Friday again !!

    1. Well he lost gracefully to me – even though it took half of the morning.

      Elgar’s job is to remind us from time to time that, according to the Telegraph, “The Toughie is not like a normal cryptic crossword. It will be the most fiendishly difficult daily puzzle on Fleet Street.”

      1. Exactly so. It is really great to have one’s cryptic grey matter stretched to the utmost limits from time to time, not just for the solving but for the working out why. You have no idea how long it took the large penny to drop with regard to why a DOT was a PERIOD. Double treble d’oh there.

        If you tease away at an Elgar for long enough, they are all definitely solveable and very entertaining too.

        My best reason for liking Elgar crosswords however is that, if I hadn’t been stuck and typed the whole of one of his Toughie clues into a web search engine, I would never have found Big Dave and completely transformed my crosswording life (and quite a lot of my daily life) . So big thank yous to both of them.

    2. I couldn’t finish it, got irritatingly close for an Elgar, keep persevating …did enjoy the foot ball related clues, for once! Trains depending me and the dogs off to Snowdonia tomorow

  6. When “Richard” says ‘he’s just gone’ at the end of the blog, he means he has gone to his second home for an operation. Hope it goes well and you make a speedy recovery and return to full blogging duties.

  7. That’ll ‘learn’ me having completed three toughies this week and feeling a bit perky I walk into a brick wall today, thanks for the review R & J and to Elgar Safe op and quick recovery Tilsit

  8. I honestly thought this was one of his more friendlier puzzles, mainly because of the bonus clue. Favourites were 12a 15a and 28a thanks to Elgar and to Tilsit/Crypticsue for the joint unravelling.

  9. D’oh i didn’t see the / read the bonus clue till the end, feeling somewhat elated that I had only four left to go in before I gave in. So lovely to see 24a again , I think Elgar clued it before as mythical soldier, my first ever toughie clue solved. Various walls are going to be headbutted that I missed 12a, thank you CSue tilsit and Elgar. Where the heck did i drag 25a from?, never ever to be used again i fear, loved 15a, first in

  10. I am stil halfway through this and have not had a peek yet (work meant that I couldn’t spend so much time on the puzzles. THoroughly enjoying this and the NINA was a laugh. Thanks to you two (hope all is going well Tilsit) and thanks to Vlad for the fun.

  11. Got 9a by totally different method, Sir Samuel Hoare , an ambassador wth s from strokes, what do i know eh and thank heavens for clever people who put me on the correct path

  12. This was a real Toughie and I’m not sure that I’d have completed it without the Nina which was very helpful. Thanks to Tilsit (hope the op goes well) and CS and of course to Elgar. 24a brought me out in the usual cold sweat thinking of his “Mythological soldier?” clue for the same answer.

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