Toughie 813 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 813

Toughie No 813 by Elkamere

Simply the best

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

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

Bufo is away today, so thanks to Digby for stepping in to review today’s other puzzle, freeing me up to do this one. And what a good week this is – with Micawber and Beam already and Notabilis, who leaked the info on Facebook following Tuesday’s mix-up, tomorrow. We have occasionally referred to Elkamere as being Anax-lite, but not today. This is the third example this week of a true Toughie. By no means impossible, but out-of-the-box thinking is advisable.

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.


1a    Sails across ocean and far away? No (5,2,4)
{CLOSE AT HAND} – put another word for sails together with the AND from the clue Around (across) an ocean to get a phrase

9a    Basic accommodation, one good toilet (5)
{IGLOO} – this basic accommodation, for an Inuit, comes from I (one) G(ood) and a toilet

10a    F1 to cut major part of championship (9)
{SEMIFINAL} – put FI (F1) inside (to cut) an adjective meaning major or important to get one of the penultimate parts of a championship

11a    Be humiliated if wrongly attired (3,4)
{EAT DIRT} – a phrase meaning to be humiliated comes from an anagram () of (wrongly) of ATTIRED

12a    Dog keeps barking as he’s a hunter (8)
{CHASSEUR} – put a worthless dog around (keeps) an anagram (barking) of AS HE’S to get this hunter – one who has a chicken dish named after him?

14a    I’m in park, thinking (8)
{ESTIMATE} – put I’M inside a park or grounds to get this thinking

15a    Part of an atmosphere inherent to motor racing (4)
{TORR} – this part of the atmosphere – 1/760 to be precise – is hidden inside (inherent to) the rest of the clue

17a    Territory somewhat hidden by cover (7)
{HABITAT} – this territory or environment is derived by putting somewhat (1,3) inside (hidden by) a cover for the head

19a    Boat or, oddly, part of one (4)
{PROA} – this Malay sailing-boat comes from the odd letters of two words in the clue followed by A (one)

20a    Assistant starts to see more activity between the sheets (8)
{LINESMAN} – this referee’s assistant is derived from the initial letters of (starts to) three words in the clue inside (between) some sheets for the bed

21a    Lead soldiers shy about lead soldiers (3,5)
{TOP BRASS} – these leading soldiers are derived by putting a verb meaning to shy or throw around (about) the chemical symbol for lead and some soldiers

23a    Dictionary invents new word to describe ‘Liberals’ (7)
{COLLINS} – to get this popular publisher of dictionaries put a verb meaning invents a new word around (to describe) a couple of L(iberal)s

25a    Consider weak recoil of gun acceptable (5,4)
{THINK OVER} – this phrasal verb meaning to consider is built up from an adjective meaning weak or skinny followed by a verb meaning to gun or open the throttle of an engine and a two-letter word meaning acceptable, both reversed (recoil)

26a    Golf lovers recalled upset (5)
{STUNG} – start with the letter represented by Golf in the NATO Phonetic alphabet the add some lovers or enthusiasts and reverse the lot to get a word meaning upset or hurt

27a    One blows it by running into shop (11)
{SAXOPHONIST} – this musician blows his instrument – start with a different two-letter word for “it” or libido then the mathematical symbol for by or times and finally an anagram (running) of INTO SHOP


2d    Shelter companion who would exploit you? (5)
{LEECH} – combine shelter with a Companion of Honour to get someone who would exploit you

3d    Cut off as sea is rising around cape (7)
{SCISSOR} – this verb meaning to cut off is derived by reversing an Antarctic sea and the IS from the clue around C(ape)

4d    Immobility making cattle incontinent!? (8)
{AKINESIA} – to get this loss or impairment of the power of voluntary movement put some cattle inside a continent (in-continent, geddit?)

5d    Rod Hull ultimately breaking elbow (4)
{AXLE} – this rod which passes through the centre of a wheel comes from the final letter (ultimately) of HulL inside (breaking) a verb meaning to elbow or chop

6d    Starts to dig in hard patch (8)
{DISTRICT} – the initial letters of (starts to) two word in the clue are followed by an adjective meaning hard to get a patch or area

7d    Sort of clip everything 3 list soldier put up (9)
{ALLIGATOR} – to get this sort of clip, so called because it looks like the jaws of a reptile, start with a word meaning everything then reverse (put up in a down clue) a list and an American soldier

8d    They’re safe in small doses but any stronger, unsafe (7,4)
{RÖNTGEN RAYS} – these electromagnetic waves of high energy and very short wavelength are safe in small doses and come from an anagram (unsafe) of ANY STRONGER

12d    Religion might be this comical (11)
{CATHOLICISM} – this religion comes from an anagram (might be) of THIS COMICAL

13d    Express fury about priest being helpless (7)
{RELIANT} – put a word meaning to express fury around (about) an Old Testament priest to get an adjective meaning helpless or trusting in someone else

16d    Temperature lost when old curtain breaks in shower unit? (4,5)
{RAIN CLOUD} – drop (lost) the T(emperature) from OLD CUR(T)AIN and then an anagram (breaks) of what is left gives a “unit” responsible for showery weather

17d    Seaside town offers attractions, perhaps, but only one hotel (8)
{HASTINGS} – to get this seaside town on the south coast start with a phrase that could mean (perhaps) offers attractions (3,6) and drop the second H (only one Hotel)

18d    An easy goal centre-half gets with difficulty (2,1,5)
{AT A PINCH} – a phrase that describes an easy goal (1,3,2) is followed by the abbreviation of Centre-Half to get a phrase meaning +

19d    Knit circular shape enclosed by pocket (7)
{PURLOIN} – a charade of a verb meaning to knit using a particular stitch, a circular-shaped letter and a preposition meaning enclosed by gives a verb meaning to pocket or steal

22d    Appears to understand writing (5)
{SEEMS} – this word meaning appears is a charade of a verb meaning to understand and some writing – elegantly simple

24d    With no inner support, axes ‘Banker from Hell’ (4)
{STYX} – remove the internal letters (with no inner) from S(uppor)T and then add the axes on a graph to get this ‘Banker from Hell’ or river in Greek mythology that formed the boundary between Earth and the Underworld

A lot of favourites here, most of which I have highlighted in blue. Runaway top clue – the lead soldiers (21a)!

16 comments on “Toughie 813

  1. Of today’s two Toughie puzzles, this one was slightly more user-friendly. Very enjoyable too with lots of twists and turns and lateral thinking to sort it all out. Thanks to Elkamere for a perfect clever Toughie and to BD for the hints and explanations.

  2. No complaints from me – a super puzzle which required some lateral thinking and a fair amount of perseverance.
    The only bit I needed help with was the cattle in 4d (I guessed the continent part of the clue).
    27a was my favourite.
    4*/4* from me.
    Thanks to Elkemere, and to BD.

    1. 27a was my fave too-still think they printed the crosswords the wrong way round as I thought back pager tougher than this! ;-) all subjective I know

  3. Simply sublime a plethora of silky smooth surface readings with many d’oh moments, Favourites were 1a 4d 20a 21a and 27a many thanks to Elkamere and to Big Dave for the dissection.

  4. Two brilliant crosswords in one day. Thanks to Elkamere for really stretching me and to BD for a super review.

  5. Brilliant! What a splendid day today has turned out to be. Just the Reverend Master’s offering in the Grauniad to try now. I really must get out more :grin:

    Agree about the lead soldiers and other favourite was the dictionary.

    Many thanks to Elkamere and BD.

  6. Mrs Digby is on a pilgrimage to Lourdes at present, so I allowed myself a good chuckle at 12d.
    Still suffering brain-damage from blogging today’s Cryptic, I found this equally taxing, but slighly more entertaining than its inside-backpage counterpart.
    Thanks to E & BD

  7. I’m with BigBoab. Two ace puzzles today!. This had some terriffic clues – 21a and 4d being top clues for me. THanks to Elkamere and BD for the review.

  8. The Aruacaria is well worth a look! Easier than these two but good fun as usual.

  9. Thanks BD for a great write-up and to all for kind comments.

    Just a quick note before I’m out for the evening – regarding the apparent difference in difficulty between this and the back pager, I’ve gone over the clues for both and I think the back page puzzle’s clues are generally easier. To be honest I think the real difference is the grids; the Toughie has more clues and more generous cross-checking, so it’s understandable that a minor problem in solving one or two of the back pager’s clues could make it hard to break into other parts of the grid.

  10. Very enjoyable puzzle from a setter at the top of his form. Lots of nice things to appreciate and tough but not impossible.

  11. Cannot wait for notabilis tomorrow, if he can top this one cap doffed. Taken me an age and again needed google but hey, so what. Thought 20a straying into RayT land!! 8d and 21a faves i think, but each clue is so good ……well done Anax / Elkamere and BD

  12. I think 27a was what 27a plays (3 letter short form) plus an anagram of into shop. Can’t see anything to do with “it” or “times”. Nice puzzle, and good review. Thanks.

    1. Welcome to the blog pbarwich

      In 27a, it is a synonym for sex appeal (SA) and by is a synonym for times (X) which give the first three letters of the answer.

    2. If you change your alias, even if you use the same email address, then your comment goes through moderation again!

      There is no indication in the clue that points to SAX as opposed to SA and X.

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