Toughie 822

Toughie No 822 by Elgar

Mad, Vlad and Dangerous to Know!

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

Greetings from the Calder Valley! It’s that time of the month again and Elgar (aka Vlad the Impaler) has been let out of his padded cell to torment us with another ferociously fiendish Toughie. I think he might have been particularly grumpy when he set this one, as I found this a good deal tougher than some of his recent ones (and they were pretty tough!). Some unusual words in today’s grid which caused me to have to reach for the search engine, together with a couple of very cryptic definitions made this hard going at times, and will no doubt induce apoplexy in the homes of fans of other setters.

Today’s puzzle contains a plethora of clues that require you to remove or take away defined pieces. I have to admit I found this a bit confusing when it came to explaining how some of the answers worked, when I had worked out the solution from checking letters.

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 & 28a    Mental anguishes with malicious book (I claim a bit of lucre)? (9,9)
{EMOTIONAL BLACKMAIL} We start today with an all-in-one clue. An anagram of MENTAL, plus BOOK I CLAIM with A and L (bit of lucre). There are a couple of anagram indicators (anguishes and malicious). This gives a phrase that could be defined as MENTAL ANGUISHES.

8a & 27a    Pursue high-level information leak? (2,2,3,3,3,3,2,3,5)
{GO IN ONE EAR AND OUT OF THE OTHER} A cryptic definition for a common phrase that could refer to data entering and leaving one at a ‘high-level’, i.e. in a part of the head.

11a    Macaroni cheese? There’s a little place in the market… (5)
{NICHE} A word that refers to a spot in a market or a small corner is hidden in the phrase macaroNI CHEese

12a    Inner layer of sperm? Inner layer of ovum’s better (5)
{EXCEL} The inside (inner layer) of what may be a description of a sperm or an egg, i.e. a sEX CELl is a word that means to better someone or something.

13a    What might burst into song in the garden? One of my generators might (5)
{MAVIS} The alternative name for a song-thrush is found by taking a short word for one of your parents (generators) and adding the Latin word for force or might.

16a    At the appointed hour, 1pm, parking is prohibited in, note, Barking (2,4)
{ON TIME} A phrase that refers to at the appointed moment is found by putting I (P)M minus P (parking prohibited) inside an anagram (indicated by Barking!) of NOTE.

17a    Cry to urge on everyone in Sutton? (6)
{HALLOO} A variation of a standard greeting often used in hunting circles (remember the old song D’Ye Ken John Peel? It follows “View __”) Inside the second half of a place called Sutton in Suffolk famous for its ancient connections, goes something that means everyone.

18a    Faces of Rick and Eddie seen in the crowd? (5)
{THREE} In a famous proverb, what constitutes a crowd is revealed by taking R and E (‘faces’, i.e. first letters, of RICK and EDDIE) and placing it inside THE.

19a    This is so exciting, what? – and I guess so enthralling! (3-3)
{YEE-HAH} Around (enthralling) a word meaning what? or pardon? Goes a word meaning the affirmative or I guess so. This gives an American cry of excitement.

20a    Wealth of old puffs in Hollywood? (6)
{LOADSA} An American way of saying a wealth or abundance of something is revealed by placing O (old) and an abbreviation for plugs, puffs or commercials inside the abbreviation of the city where you’ll find Hollywood.

21a    Quiet, nevertheless (5)
{STILL} My starting point today. A double definition that can mean quiet or calm, as well as nevertheless, often found in conversation.

24a    Touring India, an indefinite number beg in town famed for magic square (5)
{NASIK} A city in India (no, I hadn’t heard of it either) famed for its holiness and associated with a mathematical magic square (see The Big Red Book), is found by taking an abbreviation for number (N), add a word that means beg or request, and wrap it round (touring) I (India).

26a    Puzzle eluding 1st earl is something quite stunning! (5)
{TASER} The new weapon of choice for the police is found by taking a word that means a puzzle and removing the first E (for Earl).

27a    See 8 across

28a    See 1 across


2d    Composer with or without 14 featuring in prom on television (5)
{MONTE} The name of a Dutch composer is hidden in “proM ON TElevision”. Add his surname to another composer found at 14 down and you get a third one! Clever spot by young Elgar.

3d    Turning up are Old King Cole’s religious writings (6)
{TANTRA} If you reverse an old way of saying are (think Biblical), and the name of the celebrated singer, you’ll get some religious writings from India. Cue music!

4d    Eyes evidence of away team scoring game’s first goal outside box (6)
{OCELLI} If an away team nets first in a soccer match, this is the score and inside this you add a word for a small room or box, more associated with prison. This leads you to an ocular term.

5d    A premature ending brought to European match (5)
{AGREE} A followed by the name for a European resident (from Athens?) curtailed (premature ending) gives something that means match or correlate with something.

6d    To ensure quick decision, put forward Labour? (5,3,5)
{FORCE THE ISSUE} A double definition clue, with one of them cryptic. A phrase that means to ensure that something happens quickly is also an amusing way of saying to induce a birth. The third word is a Crosswordland legalese term for a child

7d    Duke’s fitting executed “rearrangement” of dentures? Bad luck, packing this (13)
{KNUCKLEDUSTER} After the letter K (the word Duke without a word that means fitting) goes an anagram (rearrangement) of DENTURES around a further anagram (bad) of LUCK to give something whose use could be amusingly linked to the whole of the clue. Brilliant!

9d & 10d    Play? ________________ aren’t at play – no can do (6,3,9)
{ANTONY AND CLEOPATRA} An anagram of AREN’T AT PLAY NO CAN DO is a stage production by Shakespeare.

13d    Undrinkable alcohol, in my opinion, should not contain writing fluid (5)
{METHS} Another removal clue. From an old way of saying ‘in my opinion’, remove INK (writing fluid) to give a form of alcohol that is only consumed by the most hardened and desperate of drinkers.

14d    Composer with or without 2 went too far with trims (5)
{VERDI} Another removal clue. This time, take a word which means gone too far and remove the ends (trims) and you get the name of an Italian composer.

15d    Bill no longer attached to old record case (5)
{SHELL} If you take the name for an old record, a cylinder from the days of gramophones and remove AC (bill) from it you get a word for a case or outer coating.

22d    Signs of course providing new order for parts of plan (3-3)
{TIC-TAC} If you take the word for a plan or strategy, and switch the two halves around, you’ll find the name for a chap who used to stand at racecourses signalling the odds.

23d    My clue for ‘training college’ (6)
{LYCEUM} An anagram (training) of MY CLUE gives a type of educational establishment.

25d    Only a little elevation given wise guy out of Western Australia (5)
{KNOLL} More removals, take the name for someone described as a smart Alec and remove WA (Western Australia) to get the name for a small grassy hill.

26d    All together, players express disapproval – it’s over (5)
{TUTTI} The Italian musical term that refers to the ensemble playing as one is found by taking the expression used when people disapprove of something, and adding the reversal of the word IT.

Hope you enjoyed today’s battle with the arch-torturer. Although Elgar can be tough, it’s always worth persevering and admiring how words can be used to produce some really clever clues.

Don’t forget to have a go at our Prize Competition for this month, which is a splendid puzzle by Prolixic. You have another week to get your entries in!

I’ll see you a little earlier next week…..


  1. Jezza
    Posted August 10, 2012 at 1:00 pm | Permalink

    Fortunately I had nothing to do at work this morning, because that is approximately how long it took me to work through this. Very difficult, but it was worth the battle – thanks to Elgar, and to Tilsit for the excellent review.

  2. Father Brian
    Posted August 10, 2012 at 1:10 pm | Permalink

    Amazingly I solved 12 clues of this unaided, as opposed to my normal 2 or 3 on an Elgar puzzle. Am I getting clever or is he slipping?

  3. BigBoab
    Posted August 10, 2012 at 1:30 pm | Permalink

    I usually struggle with Elgar but I found this one quite straightforward, I was lucky enough to get the big clues for the framework right away and the rest more or less fell into place, never heard of 24a though. My favourites were 1 & 28a and 8 & 27a. Many thanks to Elgar and to Tilsit.

  4. Pegasus
    Posted August 10, 2012 at 3:04 pm | Permalink

    Phew, It feels like I’ve just completed the Triathlon, very tough but well worth the effort. Favourites were 1 28a 7d 13d and 18a for it’s simplicity, thanks to Elgar and to Tilsit for the comprehensive review.

  5. spindrift
    Posted August 10, 2012 at 4:28 pm | Permalink

    You’ll find me in the the quiet room with the curtains drawn while I recover from the shoeing that Vlad has just inflicted on me ~ please tell me it will be Cephas tomorrow.

  6. crypticsue
    Posted August 10, 2012 at 5:07 pm | Permalink

    Very glad that I was on holiday and was therefore able to devote time to this masterpiece of cryptic devilment. The majority of the solutions went in in fairly good order, leaving me to take the paper to the beach and, wait for the remaining pennies to splash into the sandcastle moat.

    Defintely 5* for both difficulty and entertainment, but what fun. I particularly liked 17a, 18a 20a, and 7d, and I won’t list the ones I groaned at when I had the d’oh moment as it would take too long and I have to cook spag bol for 19!

    Thanks to Vlad and Tilsit too.

  7. Heno
    Posted August 10, 2012 at 5:22 pm | Permalink

    Thanks to Elgar & Tilsit, managed to solve 4 clues unaided, the rest is education.

  8. pommers
    Posted August 10, 2012 at 7:05 pm | Permalink

    Too clever by far for me! There again, I’m not a very good solver and Elgar is a very good setter, so it’s a bit of a mis-match from square one – bit like me taking on Ben Ainslie in a dinghy race :grin:

    Thanks (?) for the workout Elgar and thanks to Tilsit for explaining the 6 or so that eluded me.

  9. andy
    Posted August 10, 2012 at 8:29 pm | Permalink

    Buggeration, could I get that Indian City, had to resort to search engines grrrhh, Jezza I had a quietish morning at work but it took a dog walk and until an hour ago to do this one!! Living rather close to London Road, where Peterborough United AKA Posh are playing the scum in a friendly is not condusive to solving, or worse a friday post work beer. Thanks to Tilsit as ever and to Elgar

  10. tonyjoe
    Posted August 10, 2012 at 11:40 pm | Permalink

    I think that this is the worst crossword that has appeared in the Daily Telegraph for a long time. Too many over convaluted clues and some answers that do not really have a definition in the clue, beginning at 1a! How anyone can justify 8 & 27a is beyond me! And that is only the first two! Bring back Nuala!!!!

    • John H
      Posted August 11, 2012 at 12:41 am | Permalink

      I thought Tilsit did a pretty good job unconvaluting things in the justification department. (And Nuala is in the Toughie team, I think you’ll find.)

      • Posted August 11, 2012 at 9:07 am | Permalink

        Just in case there is anyone out there that doesn’t know – John H is aka Elgar / Enigmatist.

      • tonyjoe
        Posted August 11, 2012 at 9:39 am | Permalink

        Sorry , but I could never justify “Barking” as an anagram prompt. For me it is just too far away from meaning “rearrange”, especially with the capital letter! Also, what is the purpose of the line in 9d? If it is simply to confuse then surely this is against the spirit of DT crosswords? However one man’s edible animal tissue is another’s lethally toxic when ingested material! Thanks for your efforts, I shall perhaps begin a bit earlier in the day on your puzzles in the future.

      • andy
        Posted August 11, 2012 at 12:31 pm | Permalink

        Totally agree John/ Elgar, I know we are not supposed to do times on this site but your fantastic offering took me most of the day, although the indian city was a Google and lodged firmly in the memory bank. Knuckleduster is my clue of the month, stunning. And Mavis had me ratttling the addled brain. Hopefully see you and Jetdoc in Manchester for the Anax do?

    • stanXYZ
      Posted August 11, 2012 at 4:31 pm | Permalink


      It really annoys me when people making uncomplimentary or derogatory comments use very rare words – “convaluted” – for instance!

      Turn your spell checker ON!