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Toughie 894

Toughie No 894 by Elgar

Vlad the Impaler rises again

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

If you have been wondering where Elgar has been these last few weeks, he has been hiding in his sarcophagus sharpening his impaling stakes and putting together this fiendish puzzle. The newspaper version helpfully has the two squares mentioned in 1d/20d shaded in pink, but this is not necessary in order to be able to solve the puzzle. I will reveal all about 1d/20d at the end of the review.

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    Penetrative manoeuvres sink chess freak after queen turns on 6th file (6,6)
{FRENCH KISSES} – an anagram (freak) of SINK CHESS follows the reversal (turns) of the Queen’s regnal cypher which itself follows the letter which represents the 6th file

9a    A riot developing after not quite filling birthing pools (9)
{NATATORIA} – an anagram (developing) of A RIOT follows most of (not quite filling the gap in the grid after the earlier wordplay has been inserted) an adjective meaning birthing gives these North American swimming pools – I’m not entirely happy with the final letter removal construct

10a    Bluish-grey, essentially (5)
{PERSE} – split as (3,2) this is a Latin phrase meaning essentially – while I knew the Latin phrase, the colour was a new one for me

11a    Your old listener, predominantly crude (6)
{EARTHY} – an archaic word for your preceded by (predominantly) a listener

12a    Removing south, mobile workers who are out of this world? (8)
{MARTIANS} – M(obile) followed by some workers without (removing) S(outh)

13a    ‘A miss __, perversely, as good as a ____’? (6)
{SIMILE} – a difficult one to explain – an example of the answer (definition by example indicated by the question mark) is derived by filling in the gaps; then reverse (perversely) the first word and add the second word

15a    Wine information shared by those who toss up here? (8)
{CABERNET} – split as (5,3) this could be online information shared by Scottish tossers

18a    Removal of intro badly disorientates new part of Manhattan (4,4)
{EAST SIDE} – an anagram (new) of DIS(ORI)E(NT)ATES after the removal of the various letters (badly) of INTRO

19a    A composer dumps the European in charge of fungus (6)
{AGARIC} – the A from the clue followed by a composer (of music or crosswords, take your pick) without the EL (the definite article in a European language) followed by the abbreviation for In Charge

21a    Lab test watery spot that I’ll introduce into another (8)
{BIOASSAY} – start with a deserted watery spot, move the I to the beginning (that I’ll introduce) and put the result inside another watery spot

23a    ReleasesC’mon Everybody‘? (4,2)
{LETS GO} – a double definition – releases without the apostrophe and c’mon everybody with – giving me not one, not two, but three video opportunities

ARVE Error: need id and provider
ARVE Error: need id and provider
ARVE Error: need id and provider

26a    Gradually reduce in utero decay (5)
{ERODE} – hidden inside the clue

27a    Comfortable, settling on these, yes, to indulge in holiday writing? (4,5)
{EASY TERMS} – Y(es) inside a religious holiday followed by a two-letter abbreviation for some writing

28a    On the face of it unfriendly visitor from far left the Corporation argued about (6-6)
{BEETLE-BROWED} – put a visitor from far who wants to phone home and L(eft) inside a nickname for a Broadcasting Corporation then add a verb meaning argued about


1d & 20d    What happened in the seventh square of 12A and the second square of 21A, let’s hope (7,7)
{FINGERS CROSSED} – Let’s hope is the definition and once the puzzle has been solved the poser in the clue will be revealed – see explanation at the end of the review

2d    Compound fracture’s terrible bandages (5)
{ESTER} – hidden (bandages) inside the clue

3d    Bureaucrats moving mechanistically to oust cinema complex (4,5)
{CITY HALLS} – an anagram (moving) of (MEC)H(ANI)STICALLY without (to oust) the various letters (complex) CINEMA

4d    The Church of Scotland caused King distress (4)
{KIRK} – K(ing) followed by a verb meaning to distress

5d    Reprobate Viz anticipates some litigation Attorney-General overlooked (8)
{SCALAWAG} – viz (the abbreviation for videlicet) is the Latin for namely, take the two-letter abbreviation for a Latin word with similar (the same?) meaning then add some litigation (1,3) and put the whole lot on top of (overlooked in a down clue) the abbreviation for Attorney-General – the alternative spelling of this word was unfamiliar to me

6d    Windows opening worry emigrant (5)
{EXPAT} – a soon-to-be-obsolete version of Microsoft Windows inside (opening) a verb meaning to worry

7d    One establishing excellent name as a monk? (8)
{ORDAINER} – start with two letters which represent excellent and N(ame) then put them inside a fraternity of monks – a monk is “in an *****”

8d    Runs away square, getting in OK (4,2)
{LEGS IT} – S(quare) inside a word meaning OK or correct

14d    Old browser will be the death of him, so Giovanni thinks (8)
{MASTODON} – this browsing dinosaur is derived from the final letter (death) of hiM followed by a phrase (2,2,3) that could mean so Giovanni, the licentious nobleman from the eponymous Mozart opera, thinks – an allusion to Mr Manley, whose sets Toughies as Giovanni


16d    Chopper‘s mine to attend Her Majesty (3,6)
{EGG BEATER} – I thought Elgar had a strange conception of a kitchen implement, but this chopper is another, usually North American, name for a helicopter – a three-letter slang word for a mine, which has come up a few times before, followed by a phrasal verb (2,2) meaning to attend and the usual regnal cypher for Her Majesty

17d    Next door, a club entertainer with not much in the hat? (8)
{ADJACENT} – the A from the clue followed by a two-letter abbreviation for a club entertainer and an amount of money (1,4) that is not much to be collected in the hat

18d    In submitting to British Library, Slim Shady offers badge (6)
{EMBLEM} – replace the IN in Slim Shady’s alter ego with (submitting to) the abbreviation for the British Library

20d    See 1 Down

22d    Most elementary features column (5)
{STELE} – hidden (features) inside the clue


24d    Ugly lumps taking Northern Line Tube? (5)
{STRAW} – reverse (taking Northern line in a down clue) some ugly lumps

25d    Roger otherwise engaged in essence (1,3)
{I SEE} – hidden (in essence) inside the clue

Click on the picture below to reveal the secret behind 1d/20d!

Toughie 894 by Elgar

Check out the highlighted words intersecting at the pink squares.

22 comments on “Toughie 894

  1. A real toughie from the man you love to loathe, needed a lot of help from BD,so my thanks to him and also to Vlad. Now to rest my weary eyes after that flashy explanation.

  2. Well, that kept me out of mischief all morning – just the thing for a filthy wet day. The penny dropped about the shaded squares about two-thirds of the way through, which gave me a few extra letters towards finishing. Thanks to Elgar for a great challenge, and to BD for the explanations: there were a few clues where I had the right answers without fully being able to parse them.

  3. Did you work out the “link” all by yourself?
    If so, very well done – it took me a while to work it out even with it flashing in front of me!
    As you say Elgar at his best / worst.

  4. Great puzzle – thanks to Vlad and BD. I hope that there are no complaints from the Scottish tossers. :D

  5. I couldn’t quite finish it 4 short in NE corner, very clever when you see the final outcome a bit like an EV puzzle. Favourites for me 1&20d 14d and 28a thanks to Elgar ant to Big Dave for the dissection.

  6. As we’ve no chance of seeing the sun today I’m just going to sharpen a wooden stake in the shed…anybody got any silver?

    Beyond me I’m afraid so I’m pleased it’s Saturday tomorrow which is also the 26th anniversary of my 30th birthday

  7. I, too, got stuck in the NE corner, and took some time to see the 1d, 20d even when they were flashing at me. Thanks to Elgar, and to BD for the illumination.

  8. Too tough for us. We gave up with only 9 answers in (and one of those wrong too). Ah well, there’s always next week to look forward to.
    Thanks Elgar and BD for the illumination.

  9. Well, I’ve been a graphic designer for 25 years and ‘perse’ was a new one to me. So were ‘ester’, ‘natatoria’ (if indeed that’s the answer!) and ‘bioassay’ – but I put those down to rank ignorance. Just getting into the DT Toughies, and this is one great site. Keep up the magnificent work.

    1. Hi vambo – welcome to the blog.
      Now that you’ve introduced yourself I hope we’ll hear from you on a regular basis.

  10. A superbly impaling workout of the grey matter – the NE Corner being particularly hard work, not helped by the fact that the day job was particularly taxing this morning, which does tend to interfere with toughie solving.

    Thanks to Elgar for a great crossword and to BD for the excellently flashing explanations.

  11. .. and the paper version says no 894. This , 10a as an example, had me filling in many answers but not being exactly sure. Really enjoyed the challenge. Thank you Elgar and BD

  12. Couldn’t resist having a go ……….will resist next time !
    Absolutely terrific review made the visit worthwhile and did shed some light (albeit flashing ) !
    Thanks once again

  13. Never really sure that I actually enjoy an Elgar Toughie but I always have a go! It’s a bit like banging the head on the wall – nice when it’s over. This was pretty normal, impenetrable, stuff from Vlad and I got there in the end with a lot of cheating! Clever stuff but really beyond my humble skills – Elgar has a brain the size of a gas giant and in comparison mine is that of a minor asteroid!

    Anyway, thanks to Elgar for the enjoyable (?) brain strain and also to BD for a few explanations.

  14. I have completed 60%, and have now admitted defeat. This puzzle is beyond my current understanding.
    I am grateful to Elgar for the lesson, teaching me that i still have a lot to learn, and to BD
    for explaining that which i am unable comprehend.

  15. Oh, I got most of it (with help), but even with the flashing letters I still don’t get the secret behind 1d/20d. Please someone help put my my poor brain to rest.

      1. Oh my goodness! Thank you BD – that was way too clever for me. I got ‘fingers crossed’ from the ‘let’s hope’ part of the clue, but didn’t see the crossed fingers in the grid until you pointed them out. Thank you again. Note to self – must try harder.

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