Toughie 937 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 937

Toughie 937 by Elgar

Exactly what it says on the label!

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

To review an Elgar Toughie you need to be 100% fit and have all your cryptic grey matter in fine fettle. At the moment, Fred and Ginger combined just about fit this description so have collaborated once again in order to sort out this excellent Toughie.

The BD rating reflects our view that there was a nice range of clues from the fluffy to the positively impaling! Ginger ground to a halt with five clues needing cogitation; luckily Fred was on hand to help with two of them and some of the other wordplay that was a mystery to her.

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 Make a second draft of The Turn of The Screw (6)
{REDRAW} Reverse the type of person informally referred to as a ‘screw’.

6a Wanting to compete against ring’s constant crime (6)
{PIRACY} The mathematical constant used to denote the ratio of the circumference of a circle (ring)to its diameter followed by an adjective meaning spirited, but which could cryptically mean being keen to compete in a competitive trial of speed.

9a Promontory  garden? (3)
{HOE} A double definition – a promontory or ridge of land (now only used in place names, like the one at Plymouth); or to garden using a long handled tool with a narrow blade at the end.

10a Rumble fake member of Reservoir Dogs heisters (2,4)
{MR BLUE} The alias of one of the people involved in the diamond heist in Reservoir Dogs is obtained from an anagram (fake) of RUMBLE.

11a Cuts 40 with one shot on murderous day (8)
{TOPSIDES} The first of the mini-theme clues. The slang name for a score of 40 when you put one dart into a particular space on a dartboard, followed by the day on which Julius Caesar was murdered.

12a Under Kidney, son’s dropped from current French team (10)
{INFRARENAL} A two-letter word meaning current, fashionable, added to FR (French) and finally S (son) removed from the name of the football team BD loves to hate.

13a Ready to deal in Bangkok communicators that I like to thwart (4)
{BAHT} The local currency in Bangkok and other parts of Thailand. Thwart means to divide so, insert between the abbreviation of a well-known telecommunications company, the two letter interjection many of us might have used when we finally ‘saw’ this wordplay, which also happens to mean ‘that I like’.

14a Philosopher passing through Marylebone (4)
{RYLE} An English philosopher is hidden in (passing through) MaRYLEbone.

16a Psychic, with a flourish, broadcasts on this? (6,4)
{MEDIUM WAVE} A person said to communicate with the spirit world (psychic) followed by a simple flourish of the hand. This leads you to what we used to listen to radio on before it became FM and now DAB (though why you want to listen to radio on a fish is beyond Fred!)

19a Alumnus’s retrospective, ‘inside-out’ residence promising good things (6,4)
{BODING WELL} A reversal of the abbreviation used to denote someone who used to attend a particular school, followed by a rearrangement (inside-out) of a type of house or habitation – you need to take the final three letters and put them after the first letter. One of your duo had BETTER DEAL here for a while and couldn’t see why.

21a A calculated bit of me’s edited out of refrain, on reflection (4)
{DOLE} The outside letters of a piece of music should be removed – ‘of me’ (belonging to me) edited out – and the remaining letters reversed (on reflection) to get a small portion dealt out to someone.

23a Banned catalogue not long delayed (4)
{TABU} Catalogue here is a verb meaning to list in a table. Take a synonym for this verb and remove the last four letters which just happen to mean long delayed or behind time.

24a Feel the squeeze? They may leave Times without leader (10)
{BANDONEONS} South American accordions (aka squeeze boxes!) – An expression meaning leave periods of geological time with the first letter removed (leave times without leader).

28a Punch from below saddle? (8)
{UPPERCUT} A type of boxing punch might also be a joint of meat from below the saddle (including part of the backbone with the ribs).

29a Figures ringing round for a time, they look pale (6)
{STOATS} An abbreviation for numerical facts (those for the blog have been updated today!) with O inserted (ringing ‘round’) produces creatures who have a white coat in the winter.

30a One pontiff wanting work for primate (3)
{APE} A (one) and a pontiff with OP (wanting work) removed.

31a & 32a Shearer maybe lies roaming in the centre — that’s how I prefer it (2,4,6)
{TO ONE’S LIKING} Alan Shearer’s association with Newcastle Football Club might lead someone to refer to him as the most important person to have the club’s nickname applied to them. Insert an anagram (roaming) of LIES between the two words and split 2,4,6 and an expression used to ensure that if you ordered one of the items on the menu in this crossword, it would be cooked exactly as you wanted.   See the footnote below.



2d Inclination to move away — but from Canterbury? That’s all quite odd (7)
{ERRANCY} A tendency to move away from the right way or go astray. In addition to Canterbury being connected to the ‘right way’ being the mother church of the Church of England, in this clue, it is also needed for the anagram – remove BUT from CANTERBURY and make an anagram (that’s all quite odd) with the remaining letters.

3d One’s Caesar salad (undressed) I regret eating (5)
{RULER} A Caesar is an absolute monarch. A synonym for monarch can be found by inserting the middle letter of saLad (undressed instructs the removal of the outside letters) and inserting it into someone who regrets or wishes something had not happened. On the subject of Salads, for no other reason, enjoy this…..

ARVE Error: need id and provider

4d Starts to welcome headliners entering auction room, the location of antique (5)
{WHEAR} An obsolete spelling of an adverb or conjunction meaning at which place something is to be found is obtained from the initial letters (starts) of Welcome Headliners Entering Auction Room.

5d Believe in frying T-bone (3,2)
{BET ON} To believe in or predict – an anagram (frying) of T-bone.

6d Vatican proclamation‘s cloud of smoke covering up lab, mysteriously (5,4)
{PAPAL BULL} Insert into a thick covering of smoke an anagram (mysteriously) of UP LAB.

7d How colourful can order be, in a word? (9)
{RAINBOWED} Like something with lots of colours – an anagram (can order) of BE IN A WORD.

8d Audience’s restraint of playwright (7)
{CHEKHOV} A combination of homophones of a synonym for restraint and of (from the clue).

14d & 18d Having accepted tab, take one extra cut (3,3)
{RIB EYE} R (the Latin for ‘take’ – often used on prescription forms) I (one) and a extra run awarded in a game of cricket, the latter having the single letter by which a tablet of Ecstasy (tab) is known inserted.

15d Soup of pea in cans to preserve one’s refined taste (9)
{EPICUREAN} An anagram (soup) of PEA IN ‘cans’ or preserves within a verb meaning to preserve by drying or salting to produce someone who has fine taste.

16d Loadsamoney cameo sent up a little English county (9)
{MEGABUCKS} A reversal (sent up) of a type of jewel (cameo being an example of a jewel) followed by A from the clue and the abbreviation for an English county. The expression derives from American slang for a million dollars.

17d Beastly female performs shortly (3)
{DOE} A female deer is obtained by truncating another way of saying performs or accomplishes.

18d See 14 down

20d Not having to buy old master clothing selection of choice (2,5)
{ON APPRO} Insert (clothing) a word meaning a selection of, eg, horses to bet on, between O (old) and an abbreviation for professional (master).

22d Wish for new weight (4,3)
{LONG TON} The full name of a weight equivalent to 20 cwt. A phrase meaning to wish for followed by the abbreviation for New.

25d Old British colony  of birth (5)
{NATAL} An old British colony in Southern Africa is also an adjective meaning concerned with birth.

26d Left supporting apparently hopeless bird (5)
{OUSEL} ‘Supporting’ tell us to put L (left) after an expression meaning that something is hopeless, the first word (No) being written as one might put a zero.

27d Order up average net reading material (1-4)
{E-BOOK} A reversal of the abbreviation for the Order of the British Empire followed by the two letters we used to say that something is average or satisfactory. Did you know that Elton John is releasing a tribute song to E-Books? Kindle in the Wind. (Fred’s just gone to get his hat)

Lots of very nice clues – Ginger’s very top favourite was 31/32a.  She’s off now to the butcher’s to get some guaranteed 100% 14/18 for her tea.  As for Fred…he’s hat hunting.

31/32a refer to the fact that hidden within the solutions are : { RED RAW, BLUE, RARE , MEDIUM, WELL DONE, TO A T and TO ONE’S LIKING.}

45 comments on “Toughie 937

  1. Really superb crossword from Elgar, one of the few of his I have actually completed without the hints, a master class in toughies in my humble opinion. Many thanks to Elgar and to the reviewer/s.

    1. I would have awarded it about 3.5* for difficulty if the last few I couldn’t get hadn’t taken me so very long to sort out. I do like a crossword that leaves you smiling if a little peckish! :)

  2. As ever an excellent toughie from himself, 24 ac was a new one on me, but I was surprised to find I was right on all the others, though without a clue as to the wordplay on lots. So many thanks to F+G and of course to Elgar

  3. I wonder whether RAW should also be one of the hidden solutions as in steak tartare?

  4. Still requiring hints for this superb setter; perhaps not as tricky as the last one? A perfect cool and rainy day in Durban to do battle with a maestro. One of the clues was very obvious due to my location. Many thanks to setter and reviewers.

  5. I had few problems with this until I was left with the SW corner. Even that wasn’t too bad except that I had to look up 24 and I couldn’t parse 14/18 and 23. I totally missed the hidden words.

  6. Finally completed after three sessions, favourites were 19a 24a and 31&32a. I also missed the hidden words thanks to Elgar and to F and G for the review.

  7. Wordplay above my pay grade,also had to look up 24a ,staggeringly did spot the hidden words .Very clever puzzle and indeed review .
    Thanks very much .

  8. 31/32a isn’t apparently part of the Nina but the description that links all the other ‘specifications’

  9. Ye Gods & Little Fishes! Thank Goodness for Fred & Ginger for without whose hints & reveals I would never have put pen to paper with this beggar. Elgar up to his usual standard of not sparing the innocent & showing no mercy to fools & jobbernowls.

  10. 16a – A marvellous clue

    26d I got the bird but didn’t fully understand the wordplay. Why is the “N” of “no” dropped?

  11. This was the first Elgar that I have actually enjoyed – mainly because it’s the only one that I have ever managed to solve. I even understood about 95% of the wordplay. However, totally missed the theme/nina.

    Thanks to the Dynamic Duo (whoever they may be) for explaining the missing bits.

  12. We had to resort to electronic assistance with 24a and really struggled (but successfully) with the bird and animal in SE corner. Missed some of the word-play for a few of the others and had not picked (or even looked for) the list of steak cooking options. Think this is probably the best we have done with an Elgar.
    Thanks Elgar and The Duo.

  13. Really enjoyed this – though it took a while and needed help with the last few – 24a is new to me (as is 4 d but I got that from the clue. Thanks Fred & Ginger and Elgar

  14. Might have known the was Nimrod/Elgar/Enigmatist the setter’s name doesn’t print for me for some reason from the DT website, what a piggy of a puzzle, thought def for stoats a bit weak though.

    Some classic stuff from JH great misdirection and tough as old boots wordplay.

    Thanks all.

    1. I reckon that a definition doesn’t need to be so precise if the wordplay is quite straightforward, as it is here (when properly understood). Actually, the definition, when properly understood, is more precise than it might seem at first.

      This was, in fact, my favourite clue in a puzzle full of good ones. “Round for a time” made me think of a substitution, with O replacing AT, and I really kicked myself when I eventually got the relatively simplistic wordplay. The definition is nicely disguised.

  15. What i could do i enjoyed, not beaten though, today time limited i’ll have another go in the morning, Thanks to Fred and Ginger, i’ll thank Elgar when and If I unravel the bottom half, emphasis on the if……

    1. I’m with andy (although he has moved, I believe!)
      I was hungry after 15 minutes.

  16. Re 12ac – Is there really somebody called Kidney who manages some French team or other? Or am I being dim?

      1. Yes I understand how the clue works. I’m just unsure whether the surface is gibberish or I ‘m missing something.

          1. Yes, I understand that, but are we now absolving setters [or this one anyway] of any responsibility for linking definition and wordplay into some sort of coherent surface reading? Or am I missing something?

            1. The surface is not as poor as it might seem. Declan Kidney is the name of the coach of the Irish rugby team.

  17. Lest you all think I’m like Brian and say a puzzle is horrid just because I can’t solve I’d like to set the record straight. I quite like hard puzzles but there’s something about Elgar that always leaves me with the same impression, and it’s one I never get from other setters no matter how difficult and convoluted their puzzles are.

    The impression I always get, and what puts me off Elgar puzzles, is that they aren’t set for the entertainment of the solver but for the self-gratification of the setter – hence the phrase ‘intellectual masturbation’. A case of “Look mummy, how clever am I?”

    I know I’m in a minority of one and I don’t expect anyone to agree but that’s my personal opinion.

    1. This is the third time we have had to read your opinions on an Elgar puzzle, despite last time you promising that you wouldn’t be back. Not only that but you will keep including that hightly offensive expression which I never thought would be used in connection with the fairly genteel pursuit of crossworld solving.

      As Qix said last time, we all have setters whose puzzles we prefer over others – I print off all the cryptics every day and on some days, I do put a couple of setter’s puzzles at the bottom of the pile. Even if I didn’t enjoy the experience particularly – and I hadn’t followed my rule of three attempts to solve and then into the recycling with it – I certianly wouldn’t dream of going onto a blog and making extremely adverse comments about their puzzle. After all, if someone turned up and said similar things about something you had worked hard on to produce in your day job, and said such things, you would be straight round to HR to make an official complaint of harrassment.

      Perhaps this is one of the downsides of the internet – in the old days if one didn’t get on with a puzzle, and we certainly didn’t know who the setters were then, we just put it down and waited for a new one the next day. Nowadays people are quick to comment without thinking about any offence they might cause.

      So please can I request that when Elgar appears again (hopefully in three weeks time) you actually do what you said in iteration two of your ongoing complaint, and actually refrain from commenting at all.

    2. Ooops! pommers was only saying sue, I thought the good thing about this blog was that we could all say how we feel about puzzles, I agree we shouldn’t cause offence to the setter and that the expression used is not one I would use myself but…

      1. Yes but I do think three personal attacks on the setter in a row is taking saying how we feel a bit too far.

        1. I don’t mind offending Elgar – he was quite offensive to me on the occasion that we met. Effectively calling me stupid.

          1. A truce, everyone?

            To Pommers, I’d like to meet you to put the record straight. If I’ve offended, I’m sorry. I’m not like that. Let’s shake hands, let me buy you a pint or whatever you drink over there, and let’s bury whatever hatchet.

            On behalf of this thread….please.


            1. John, OK, consider it done, and a pint or anything isn’t necessary.

              Actually meeting is probably unlikely but I’ll take your post as an e-hanshake and I hope you’ll agree said hatchet is buried, but in no-one’s head – I’m sure you could put that better!

        2. Absolutely agree with Sue.

          There are several setters I actively dislike (for a variety of reasons, both personal and critical) and I simply refuse to comment on their puzzles, unless I felt there was something physically wrong with the puzzle in which case I feel I have a duty to do so.

          As an occasional setter i know how much effort goes into producing a puzzle and it wasn’t too long ago that I came to realise the hurt caused by a silly remark.

          I am proud to count Elgar as one of my closest friends in the world of crosswords and outside. I find Pommers’ remark to be grossly offensive and so wide of the mark I cannot let it go unchallenged. He has worked tirelessly in the cause of crosswords over the years and a great many setters, myself included, wouldn’t have achieved anything without his efforts and guidance. Yes, he produces ferocious puzzles (the puzzle is called the Toughie and bills itself as ‘the hardest in Fleet Street’ so what do you expect). Elgar’s puzzles are NEVER smug or full of self-gratfication. There are some setters I could name who specialise in that talent, but John is not one of them.

          I am off football referee assessing to calm down after reading that posting.

    3. Pommers, I first read your comments this morning and before reading the rest of the thread I must say that I agreed with you to a certain extent. I too always feel that the setter (Elgar) is on some kind of intellectual trip which involves being superior to the solver! I did mention this once before on this blog but was, in my opinion, shouted down by what I perceived as a sycophantic defence of any and all crossword setters! Please do not think you are in a minority of one concerning this setter as I know of at least two others who think his puzzles are dreadful but would not bother to write in!
      Personally I had a go this week finding about half the clues easily accessible – but about half of the rest so vague in definition or difficult to work out from the secondary definition and still difficult to explain even given some excellent help by the bloggers!
      As I said last time one man’s edible animal tissue is another man’s toxic upon ingestion material! I do enjoy your contribution to this blog Pommers, I don’t say much too often but that is another issue!!

      1. Tonyjoe, thanks for the support. You might be surprised at the angst caused by my criticism of the “blue eyed boy” of crosswordland. Nuff said.

          1. When a here today, gone tomorrow blogger has achieved as much in the world of crosswords and done as much for the good of our hobby (and his full-time job) as Elgar, I’ll take more notice of him, his opinions and attempts at martyrdom.

            Think my return to the blog may be rather short-lived too.

            1. This subject is now closed. Criticism of puzzles or blogging styles is acceptable but personal attacks on setters or bloggers is not.

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