Toughie 842

Toughie 842 by Elkamere

A little of what you fancy

by Antony and Cleopatra

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

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

Tilsit being sadly hors de combat again, we have emerged from the desert to blog this fine Toughie from Elkamere. The perfect level of difficulty, with some splendid wordplay, some of which actually required both of us to work out what he was on about.

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.

Acrosses (by Antony)

1a Consultant Services have little in common? (7,7)
{MEDICAL OFFICER} – this consultant is one employed by the military services, and his little / abbreviated form can be found in comMOn

9a Arsenal could be top side (7)
{DEPOSIT} – an anagram (could be) of TOP SIDE

10a Said ‘Lay in the grass’ (7)
{REPUTED} – A word meaning to lay inside a type of grass

11a Retard apprentice keeps closer to Sugar (4)
{CURB} – retard as a verb comes from an apprentice, typically a reporter, around the final letter (closer) of SugaR

12a Company news? Russian church’s secret approval (10)
{CONNIVANCE} – CO(mpany) followed by N(ew) and N(ew), a Terrible Russian and the Church of England

14a Pet that takes up little time? (6)
{MOUSER} – split this pet as (2,4) and it could mean something that takes up a little time

15a Faulty resistor is most unfortunate (8)
{SORRIEST} – an anagram (Faulty resistor) of RESISTOR

17a Get it ticked off (8)
{SEETHING} – a three-letter word meaning to get or understand and it or an object – definition and answer are both adjectives

18a Like boozer, welcoming right mix (6)
{ASSORT} – a two-letter word for like followed by a boozer or heavy drinker (not a pub!) around R(ight)

21a Perhaps it’s cold outside before getting in shelter (10)
{CLOISTERED} – an anagram (perhaps) of IT’S COLD outside a poetic word for before

22a Correct course heading west (4)
{EDIT} – reverse (heading west in an across clue) a course or trend

24a Without partners, border holding? (3-4)
{NON-SLIP} – a two-letter word for without, partners in the game bridge and a border

25a Healer slating what he does after heart transplant (7)
{RAPHAEL} – this archangel is said to have healed the earth when it was defiled by the sins of the fallen angels – a slating or reprimand followed by HEAL (what he does) with the middle two letters reversed (after heart transplant)

26a Operation that may allow access to skeleton? (7,7)
{KEYHOLE SURGERY} – an cryptic definition of an operation that, with some imagination, could allow access to an object of which skeleton is an example

Downs (by Cleopatra)

1d Little bit of poetry taken in by old lady (7)
{MODICUM} Insert into a kinder informal way of referring to your female parent, an adjective meaning relating to a type of lyric poem.

2d Space flight succeeds (9,6)
{DEPARTURE LOUNGE} A cryptic definition of the place you wait until your holiday flight is called.

3d Where beer’s kept cold — grill? (4)
{CASK} A simple charade – the abbreviation for Cold followed by a synonym for grill in the sense of subject to questioning.

4d Big cat circling round t’ cream (6)
{LOTION} There was some discussion the other day about whether O could represent round. Well it does in this clue. Insert O (round) and T (from the clue) into a type of big cat.

5d Because nobody’s turned up, it’s up to PM (8)
{FORENOON} The daylight hours before midday. A preposition meaning because, followed by a reversal (up in a down clue)of a pronoun meaning nobody.

6d Naughty nurses on top of beggar (10)
{IMPOVERISH} A verb meaning to make poor – insert (nurses) a preposition meaning above, on top of, into a synonym for naughty or mischievous.

7d Need tolerance? It could produce it (7,8)
{ENTENTE CORDIALE} A friendly understanding between political powers could be produced from an anagram of NEED TOLERANCE IT.

8d Appearance of plughole? (6)
{ADVENT} Appearance or arrival, especially of what is expected. A simple charade of an abbreviation for a mention of a product on television plus a small opening or hole for the escape of fumes or liquids.

13d The author, like this, lifted strong old man (10)
{METHUSELAH} The Biblical patriarch reputed to have lived for 969 years. How Elkamere might refer to himself, followed by an adverb meaning like this or so, and finished with a reversal (lifted) of a word meaning strong, healthy or robust.

16d Police around the world corrupt? Not worried (8)
{INTERPOL} start with a word meaning to tamper with or to corrupt by spurious insertions (thank you Chambers for the definition) and drop (not) ATE (worried) from the end

17d Further back (6)
{SECOND} A double definition – further in the sense of extra, or another opportunity; back or support a motion already proposed.

19d To agree completely (7)
{TOTALLY} Another simple charade – TO (from the clue) plus a verb meaning to agree or match.

20d Refuse bag opened — was father upset about it? (6)
{DEBRIS} Here refuse is a noun meaning rubbish or fragments of something broken. A reversal (upset) of the past participle of a verb meaning to father with B (the opening of Bag) inserted.

23d Almost reject encouragement (4)
{SPUR} Remove the final letter (almost) from a verb meaning to reject with contempt, and you should be left with something serving to urge or encourage.

Tony always loves Elkamere’s puzzles, but found this one to be approaching the difficulty of one by his alter ego Anax. As a Tottenham fan he didn’t agree with the surface reading of 9 across, but loved 23 down!

Once again, Cleo was torn between which half of the puzzle she wanted to blog as she had favourite clues in both. Her top favourite has to be 14a, closely followed by 26a and 4d, although there are others that nearly made the ‘favourites’ list.


  1. Qix
    Posted September 14, 2012 at 1:59 pm | Permalink

    An absolutely tremendous puzzle, this, with some of Anax/Elkamere’s very cleverly misleading use of language. A joy to solve.

  2. Jezza
    Posted September 14, 2012 at 2:17 pm | Permalink

    Very tough, but enjoyable. I completed it, but the couple I failed to explain were 1a and 16d.
    Thanks to setter and reviewers.

    • Antony
      Posted September 15, 2012 at 12:17 pm | Permalink

      I thought the wordplay of 16 down was familiar!

      From Toughie 402 by Firefly:
      Fed not involved — put in cross-border cops (8)

      From Toughie 686 by Elkamere:
      Not worried, introduce global law (8)

      • Jezza
        Posted September 15, 2012 at 4:29 pm | Permalink

        I have no excuse. They were both puzzles I did, and commented on as well !

  3. BigBoab
    Posted September 14, 2012 at 2:35 pm | Permalink

    Superb crossword and a superb summary, many thanks to Elkamere and to Crypticsue.

  4. Pegasus
    Posted September 14, 2012 at 3:08 pm | Permalink

    Great puzzle and lots of fun, 16d obvious answer but needed the explanation. Favourites were 1a 6d 25a and 26a thanks to Elkamere and to BD and CS for the joint comments.

  5. 2Kiwis
    Posted September 14, 2012 at 7:56 pm | Permalink

    A great puzzle but could not possibly be a 5* for difficulty as we managed to complete it! Took a lot of time and we missed the finer points of a couple of the explanations. Favourites 1a, 25a and 7d.
    Thanks Elkamere and the review team.

  6. andy
    Posted September 14, 2012 at 9:39 pm | Permalink

    Loved it, some brilliant misdirection, once i’d got my head round Raphael found this so much more enjoyable than the back page, heck am i setting myself for an almighty fall or what… Thanks to Elkamere and Sue and BD

  7. Tilsit
    Posted September 15, 2012 at 12:23 am | Permalink

    Thanks to A&C for stepping in while I was being infused at hospital, and to Elkamere for a fine puzzle.

    A tough challenge, very fitting for the Friday slot which helped pass the time in Calderdale Hospital’s MAU.

    Some nicely misleading stuff, and 1ac (and most of the top half) eluded me for ages.

    If you like tough, I recommend Saturday’s Independent by the wonderful Bannsider. An absolute stinker!

  8. anax
    Posted September 15, 2012 at 12:51 am | Permalink

    Morning all. Yes, surprise surprise, another very late one for me thanks to yet another band gig – we’re getting busy these days!

    Thanks to Sue for a cracking blog and to all for your kind comments. Having just passed the 50-y-o mark there’s evidence I’m losing my marbles. Editor Phil sent me a lovely email early this week, with particularly kind comments about the clue at 2d, which he quoted with its enumeration but without the answer. I couldn’t work it out, and it felt only very vaguely familiar – but I didn’t have the nerve to reply with something like “Are you sure you’ve got the right setter?”

    And here it is, quite patently written by me. Actually, re-written just a few weeks ago – the original wasn’t really very good in that its logic was iffy, and it took me ages to find this alternative. And, seemingly, very little time for me to completely forget it.

    Is that what happens when you reach 50?

    • Posted September 15, 2012 at 8:11 am | Permalink

      “Is that what happens when you reach 50?”

      Don’t worry – it only gets worse.

  9. Donk
    Posted September 15, 2012 at 1:00 am | Permalink

    Just about grabbed the last copy on my way home tonight and I’m glad I did. A brilliant puzzle – no chance I was giving up at any point until it was finished. 2d reminded me of a clue Anax/Elkamere posted on DIY COW that started “Space flight takes…” so I knew what I was looking for but it took me far too long to work it out!

  10. Posted September 15, 2012 at 10:11 am | Permalink

    A superb puzzle which I managed to finish unaided; but still have Thursday’s to complete so not too upset!

    Do not get 17 Across though – in my neck of the woods ticked off is a mild reprimand, whilst seethed is what I do when I get cross with myself or the world in general.

    Is there a descriptive adjective for toughie addicts?

    • gazza
      Posted September 15, 2012 at 10:56 am | Permalink


      Your comment needed moderation because you changed your alias – both should work from now on.


    • Antony
      Posted September 15, 2012 at 11:07 am | Permalink

      Ticked off is defined in Chambers as:

      Adjective (US slang)
      Annoyed, angry

  11. Chris
    Posted September 15, 2012 at 11:46 am | Permalink

    Thanks Antony – I must save my pennies (or bits) and buy a new edition Chambers!

  12. Chris
    Posted September 15, 2012 at 12:11 pm | Permalink

    Correction – it is new spectacles that I need – I have found the US definition now. I am ticked off with myself and will forgive you if you tick me off as well!

  13. Qix
    Posted September 16, 2012 at 11:33 am | Permalink

    That guy’s back in the Sunday Times today with another very good puzzle.