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Toughie 1001

Toughie No 1001 by Elgar

Doctor, Strange Puzzle!

(Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Just Let My Brain Hurt)

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

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

Greetings from the Calder Valley. What better way to conclude this special toughie-fest with the king of the Evil Puzzles, and here he is doing his best impression of Mark Labbett, the Chaser on the TV quiz. Big, mean and unforgiving. Well, not so much of the big, more pocket battleship. But you get my drift?

The Toughie’s promise is to supply some of the hardest puzzles in Fleet Street and there won’t be anyone prosecuting this one under the Trades Description Act. That said, for me, it was a wonderful solve, as good as yesterday’s.

However, I am slightly disappointed, that in the midst of the thematic material there are no references to anything that cleaned a big big carpet, for less than half a crown! Incidentally did you know that the aforementioned carpet cleaner is now part of the WD40 family? It is, look here!

Anyway, back to Today’s Toughie. There’s no point in disguising it. It’s a Stinker, a real beast. But why shouldn’t I and a fair few others have these every couple of weeks to keep our addiction fed? There are other varying hues of Toughie. I often find Myops to often be a bigger tougher challenge than Elgar other find him easier, but it takes all types to make a world. Sometimes you are on the setter’s wavelengths and other times not. The DT daily will sometimes defeat me rather than the Toughie.

However, I’d ask you to admire the amount of thematic material in the puzzle today, and that alone necessitates some unusual words. I’d challenge you to get the same stuff in a 15 x 15 grid. There are some tough concepts in this puzzle, but as far as I am concerned they are fair, if somewhat difficult to pin down.

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. Definitions are underlined to distinguish them from wordplay. Favourite clues are in blue.


7a Heart of soap, head of straw and root of fragrance (5)
{ORRIS} A WOOFIC (Word One Only Finds In Crosswords – like ETUI) When I see the definition ‘root’ I often find this is the word wanted. So why did I miss it today? I thought of OASIS one of those things you get when you get a floral arrangement. However after a good prod from a certain person, I realised what it was. Take the middle four letters of the abbreviation for the granddaddy of UK soaps and add to it S (first letter of straw). This reveals the name of a type of root used in perfume making, and only ever found in crosswords.

9a Amoeba, foraminifer … or aphid, running amok round most of Whipsnade? (9)
{RHIZOPODA} Take two-thirds of the type of establishment that Whipsnade is, and around it put an anagram of OR APHID to give you a type of amoeba and Foraminifer (the … is part of the definition to show a list). It’s times like this I recommend the excellent TEA (software rather than the drink) which can work out anagrams and much more. There’s a trial version at . It’s well worth getting the full version, and if you like setting the SYMPATHY program that goes with it is excellent as well.

11a See 25 Across

12a, 23a, 26a & 12a So many nights for Scheherazade – her number’s up here(3,8,3,3)
{ONE THOUSAND AND ONE) Firstly, notice one word in this clue is used twice in the answer numbering, so that should give you a clue. If you need another hint, think carpet cleaner (see above!). Think of the alternative name for tales featuring Scheherazade and today’s magic number.

13a Pool under waterfall — lecturer’s immersed (3)
{LIN} When I was a wee lad, I used to enjoy staying at the school’s weekend cottage at Dent in N Yorkshire and I fell in love with the place. Not far from there is Ingleton and there’s a wonderful walk around the waterfalls there, one I did many times. Before the Health and Safety brigade prevented you, you could often walk behind the waterfalls and stare in the pools, and one of the rangers there told me about this word, so it has stuck with me. The abbreviation (and first letter) of Lecturer is added to a short word meaning immersed. It’s normally found with the last letter doubled, and this is a variant spelling.

Here’s one of the magnificent falls:-


14a See 24 Down

15a Almost constantly trouble this girl from the east (5)
{SARAH} A word that means to constantly trouble someone loses its last letter (indicated by almost) and is reversed (from the east) to reveal a girl’s name.

17a # 9 in betting-shop — aghast at odds (7)
{HASHTAG} Yes, it’s a really evil clue. The 9th letter of betting shop is added to an anagram of AGHAST (indicated by ‘at odds’) to give that teeny tiny thing at the start of the clue….. Go on, it’s ok, you can scream…..

19a Out of her box, mum’s locked in the building at the bottom of the garden (7)
{SMASHED} A shortened form of the word mum’s is placed inside the aforementioned building found at the bottom the garden. This gives you a word that means the same as the expression to be out of your box, or Brahms and Liszt, or sozzled!

21a Not quite 12 + 12, finally marry (5)
{UNITE} This will probably be seen to be too clever for its own good, but it’s a smart clue. Not quite the answer to 12 ac is added to the last letter of 12 9or the last letter of TWELVE!) . My brain hurts!

23a, 22d & 3d I am in Miami displaying such sauce! (8,6,8)
{THOUSAND ISLAND DRESSING} This doesn’t get any easier! Now you need to really start thinking laterally, literally. A cryptic way of describing I AM in the word M IAM I or how IAM is treated to become the word MIAMI – it’s also the name of a sauce that’s often used with salads etc. Go on, it’s ok to scream with me…..


25a, 28d & 11a National wearing funny hat (I smell a rat) and very little else, I have to say (3,4,7)
{ALL THAT REMAINS} Around N (for National) goes an anagram (funny) of HAT I SMELL A RAT to give an expression that broadcasters often use when they are getting to the end of their speech or report.

26a See 12 Across & 20 Down

27a Measure used in communicating the f-word (7)
{FOXTROT} A cryptic definition for what the letter F is called in the NATO phonetic alphabet.

29a Canute sadly not one to interrupt such a national ballroom number (5,4)
{DANCE TUNE} Inside the nationality of King Canute goes an anagram of the king’s name, minus A (one). This gives you the sort of thing you’d hear in the ballroom, or on an episode of Strictly Come Dancing. They tend to be more upbeat, but I’m prescribing this to soothe your fevered brow.

ARVE Error: need id and provider

30a A crucial time to reject blah (blah, blah) (5)
{YADDA} An expression which is American and means etc. or blah, blah, blah is found by taking A plus the name given to a famous date in history in June almost 70 years ago, and reversing it, it’s also a way of expressing a crucial date in any epoch.


1d See 24 Down

2d Incentives for heads of government exchanging signs of indecision (8)
{PREMIUMS} If you take the name given to leaders of a country and then swap the two letters in the word that suggest indecision for two more that also indicate indecision, you’ll get a word for incentives.

3d See 23 Across

4d Reject is entering this way (6)
{DISOWN} Place IS inside the direction the answer runs to get a word meaning to reject.

5d See 24 Down

6d See 18 Down

8d See 18 Down

10d Gist of hoax surrounds poetry from a foreign country (7)
{OVERSEA} The middle two letters (the gist, or heart) of HOAX has a word inside meaning a type of poetry or a piece of it, to give you a way of saying from a foreign clime.

16d See 20 Down

18d, 28d, 6d, 23a & 8d Helen’s drunk pint that causes headache and hot flush (3,4,4,8,1,8,5)
{THE FACE THAT LAUNCHED A THOUSAND SHIPS} Those of you who remember the late, much lamented Guardian compiler Bunthorne (Bob Smithies) will remember his puzzles often carried a big anagram and this is one that he would surely have been proud of. The description of a famous Helen from Greek mythology is a revamping (drunk) of the phrase PINT THAT CAUSES HEADACHE AND HOT FLUSH.

Quick quiz question (answer below): Where does this quote come from?

19d With benefactors regrouping, harsh ban goes unpunished (4-4)
{SCOT-FREE} Here’s a rare beast in a daily puzzle, a subtractive (compound) anagram. Take the word BENEFACTORS, remove BAN and jumble the leftovers. In order for this type of clue to work, the word BAN has to have its own anagram indicator as the letters are not in order. Once you have jumbled the residue, you’ll get a phrase meaning unpunished.

20d, 26a & 16d Could these sweets be M&Ms? (8,3,9)
{HUNDREDS AND THOUSANDS) Another wonderful clue. A type of sweet or cake decoration is found by considering what M in Roman numerals could define, and what Ms are as well in Roman numerals. And of course not what M&M’s are!


22d See 23 Across

23d Hymn that’s boring with vocal change (2,4)
{TE DEUM} A two-word Latin phrase that’s a type of hymn becomes a word meaning boredom if you swap the vowels vocally in the answer.

24d, 1d, 23a, 5d & 14a Americans used to ask me when it came to the credit crunch (5-4,8,6,8)
{SIXTY-FOUR THOUSAND DOLLAR QUESTION} I am taking this as a complete cryptic definition. Basically this was the name of one of the most famous American quiz shows. It was adapted over here in the 80’s as a vehicle for Bob Monkhouse, and before that was known as Double Your Money with Hughie Green. It was also the basis for the film Quiz Show which concerned the scandals associated with that era. And I mean that most sincerely folks!

ARVE Error: need id and provider

28d See 25a & 18d

As if that isn’t enough, the left hand column tells you how many of the clues contain one of the thematic words.

So gentle reader, we have reached the end of a memorable triumvirate of Toughies, and I really hope you enjoyed them all. They have all been quite severe mental stretches. And now it’s time for a lie down in a darkened room.

But first a little bit of housekeeping.

The quotation mentioned above was from Christopher Marlowe’s Dr Faustus. If you knew that, you should be on a TV quiz show.

And finally, yesterday’s Toughie featured all the paper’s setters let loose and here are their identities revealed. I got four right. And Messinae did indeed draw the short straw!


How many compilers did you spot in yesterday’s 1,000th Toughie? The list was:

Across 8 MynoT (Miff), 9 Campbell (Throne room), 10 Giovanni (Mama’s boy), 11 Firefly (Hammam), 12 Warbler (Make merry), 13 Notabilis (Minim), 15 Shamus (Macadam), 17 Elgar (Maugham), 20 Elgar (Miaow), 22 Jeremy Mutch (Beadledom), 25 Anthony Plumb (Manege), 26 Excalibur (Sun cream), 27 Notabilis (Mutterings), 28 Giovanni (Palm).

Down 1 Micawber (Himalaya), 2 Dada (Aflame), 3 Excalibur (Stableman), 4 Kcit (Gruyere), 5 Elkamere (Ankhs), 6 Beam (Drumming), 7 Busman (Somali), 14 Petitjean (Maidenish), 16 Roger Squires (Amoretto), 18 Cephas (Adorable), 19 Jed (Messing), 21 Osmosis (In a rut), 23 Messinae (Euripi), 24 Myops (Nehru).

So Messinae drew the short straw.

And now, in the words of Father Jack – DRRRRINK! To another 1001 Toughies! See you soon!!

53 comments on “Toughie 1001

  1. Another excellent Toughie. What a week this has been!

    I didn’t think that it was as tricky as some of Elgar’s, mainly because the enumeration of the long clues made the answers relatively easy to spot. Having said that, I really enjoyed it. There was some very innovative clueing here, and many pennies dropped along the way.

    Many thanks to Elgar for another belter.

  2. I am sorry to have to disagree with my learned dance partner, but I think this was one of the easiest Elgars in the history of fluffy Elgars (1*). Yes I know this will produce cries of expertism and so forth but I have to say how I found the solving experience.

    It was 5* entertainment – I enjoyed myself greatly with the themed clues (I appear to be alone amongst those I have emailed today in thinking that I might have spotted a Nina – given that I never spot such things – as the words in the first down row indicate the number of times 23a appears in the solutions).

    A very ‘spotty’ day today so I can’t begin to pick a favourite from so many, particularly as I didn’t struggle to sort out the wordplay – now why doesn’t that happen why I am blogging an Elgar? Thanks to Elgar for the fluffy fun – I must admit to being slightly disappointed that there were no dalmatians or even a chance to sing about the ‘night having a …. eyes’ but that’s probably just me.

    Thanks to Tilsit for the extensive explanations – hope to see you for a 27a soon.

    1. I think that, after ignoring those who solved the puzzle on paper and then filled in the solution, the Telegraph Puzzles Leaderboard tells a different story – quickest time 28 minutes, slowest 4 hours 26 minutes.

      1. Oh Dear, I was the slowest, but I did make a steak and mushroom pie simultaneously and cook some beetroot.

        1. I don’t think the leaderboard give a true reflection on solving times. With the back-page puzzle, I print it off at home, solve it on the way to work over a coffee, and then enter it when I get to the office. With weekend puzzles, I might print them off early in the morning, and then check my solution is correct in the evening, or when I have time to do so.

      2. I must have really been in the zone then, because I timed myself very carefully and can assure you that I didn’t cheat at all..

      3. I thought that this was one of Elgar’s easier Toughies (relatively speaking, of course) primarily due to the multi-word answers which sort of leapt off the paper thanks to the enumeration (just as well since I’m very poor at working out long anagrams). Thanks to Elgar and Tilsit.
        I managed to identify 2.5 of yesterday’s setters (the half being 2d for which I couldn’t decide between Dada and Beam) but I’m pleased to say that I did get Micawber for 1d.

          1. Well done, You did very well to get 22a right – I’d never have guessed Jay (I had it down for Petitjean).

      1. has

        expertness or skill, especially in a specific field.

    2. I’ll agree that was more Elgar with his fluffy slippers on, flew through this after the initial glance at the clues thinking “What on earth is going on?” *

      That there was going to be 1000 linked answers was obvious. An easy Elgar, we’ll never see the like again.

      *Somewhat bowdlerised paraphrase!

  3. I found this relatively easy as able to solve the multi-worded clues and then work out why they were right. 1a needed a bit of help, I’m not sure I agree with something so esoteric.
    However thoroughly enjoyed it, especially as Mr BB was out, doing yet another recce of a long walk around Todmorden. It takes all sorts!
    Thanks to Elgar

  4. More time consuming than difficult, I found myself getting a bit annoyed at jumping back and forth, however, I can appreciate the exceptionally hard work that must go into this type of crossword and can only, once again repeat, that I am totally in awe of the brain power of Elgar. Many thanks to him and to Tilsit for a wonderful review

  5. I found the thousand theme straight away. The long multiple word solutions were then simple write-ins based on the enumerations in the clues. That filled about 3/4 of the grid in quick time – then the difficult bits.

    Has Hashtag made it into Chambers?

    1. Not yet, but it is in the ODE

      ▶ noun
      (on social media sites such as Twitter) a word or phrase preceded by a hash (#) sign and used to identify messages on a specific topic

  6. I think there’s a difference between the time I took to solve this, and the time it would have taken if I were having to write the hints and tips. The theme had been trailed in advance and the long answers gave plenty of checking letters early on. So, for example, the answer to 23a, 22d & 3d was easy to establish, but the reasoning was another matter: after reading Tilsit’s hint several times, I think I now have it. And I put in the answer to 17a without fully parsing it, only working it out when talking to Mrs DT over lunch.

    I think 27a is a double definition: measure being a dance, of which 27a is an example; and the NATO alphabet for F.

    Anyay, a fun puzzle, so thanks to Elgar, and to Tilsit for the explanations.

  7. The difference between The Toughie and The Cryptic for me is often only understanding why the answer I have alludes to the clue set. I have two to do today 27ac and 30ac with all checking letters in. Enjoyable but baffling. I will have to read the hints and tips. Ta to all especially God for today’s sunshine

  8. I remember Ingleton Falls from nearly 30 years ago when I carried my then 18 month son up to the top in a back sling. It was absolutely magical & Tilsit’s recollection has prompted me to look to rent a cottage somewhere near Malham for a trip down memory lane. Who says that nostalgia isn’t what it used to be?

    1. Steady the Buffs! I’ve just had a look at the site & it’s £6 for an adult ticket. With my lot that’s £36 for a walk which used to be Yorkshire’s favourite price – nowt!

      1. Is that near Gaping Gill. I went down in a bosins chair a few years ago. Exhilarating. Toughie now finished once I changed state your for sixty four. Too young to remember the original programme.

        1. It’s in the same area. I’ve only ever seen Gaping Gill on the Idiot Box & you have my admiration. I get vertigo on top of a stepladder (not my real one obviously).

  9. Tilsit, I don’t know whether it was Bunthorne, but I always remember the following solution to an anagram in the Guardian in the late 70’s early 80’s:-

    “Speak of me as I am; nothing extenuate, Nor set down aught in malice:”

    We (an IT team with nothing to do all day) solved it eventually without any Shakespeare knowledge between us!

    Once solved … down the pub!

    Happy Days!

  10. Well constructed puzzle which I found quite difficult, favourites were 7a 17a and 23d thanks to Elgar and to Tilsit for the comments.

  11. I have a very serious complaint for Big Dave. Before I stumbled on this site by accident a few months ago my life was my own. When I retired last year I decided to do the occasional cryptic crossword to try to keep my mind active. Now courtesy of this wonderful blog, I’m sucked in every day and have even been enticed into trying the Toughies. STOP IT PLEASE. I haven’t got the time to spare with all the other things I want do in my retirement!

    As for today’s Toughie, this was a joy, to which I will give a ****/**** rating. I was actually able to complete all but 7a and 13a but without understanding fully the wordplay for about another 6 clues. Heartfelt thanks to Elgar for a truly great puzzle; to Tilsit for the much needed and detailed review; to BD for running this exceptional site; and to all the bloggers and contributors who make this site such an essential pleasure.

  12. Thanks to Elgar and to Tilsit for a superb review and hints. After reading the hint I managed to get 12a, which then enabled me to get 23a and 24d. After that my brain was frazzled. So I then I enjoyed reading the review and looking up the answers. Hats off to Elgar, a masterpiece!

  13. I decided to spend my crossword time on this rather than the back-pager today, and very glad that I did. Great respect to Elgar for coming up with such an unusual puzzle.

    I stared at a blank grid for a very long time before getting the M&Ms, and after that it all started to fall into place. The long clues did make getting into the puzzle a lot easier, so I went for **** difficulty even though it still took me quite a long time. Did not get 7a, a word I didn’t know and a clue that was one step too cryptic for me to solve !


  14. I must agree with some of the earlier comments this was an Elgar with his
    slippers on. Many thanks to him and Tilsit for his review.

    PS. Without all I have learned from BD’s blog I would never have been able to say that.

    PPS. Thanks for yesterday’s link to the McNeill / Elgar interview.

    May I also add my thanks to Mr McNeill and all the Telegraph setters for
    providing us with a week of superb crosswords which, when coupled with
    all the excellent reviews by the BD team, has made this a week of pure
    crossword heaven. IMHO.

  15. As Axe has said above, without this site I would never ever have got close to solving this, which I did, though not as DT has said immediately understanding the wordplay. Only one new word for me in 9a but able to get from wordplay and investigoogling to make sure. Solving one thing, but could I begin to do such a good job as Tilsit in explaining, that’s decades ahead, if ever. Thank you Elgar and Tilsit and to all involved

  16. And I thought that the Miami clue was a reference to the Florida Keys! Could CS be persuaded not to divulge how little time she takes, since this is discouraging to a mere mortal such as me.

    1. Neveracrosssword, I think you’ll find CrypticSue scrupulous in not mentioning times on this site, as with everyone else positively discouraging doing so for the very reason you mention.

  17. We were amazed this morning to find ***** for difficulty. We found this one the gentlest Elgars we have ever tried – and the most enjoyable. Strangely enough our very first answer in was 9a. Last to be sorted was the parsing of 7a. Took some time to work out the “heart of soap” part. The TV show is broadcast in prime time on TV1 here and has a huge following (but not by us), but have not heard of the Aussie-style familiar contraction of the name. Really enjoyed it. Was working on a comment such as ” shows that it does not need to be horrendous to be fun” but seems it was horrendous for some.
    Thanks Elgar and Tilsit.

  18. A nice puzzle, but not overly difficult!

    Tilsit, just because it’s an Elgar puzzle doesn’t mean that you have to give it full marks.

    1. How nice to put a face to a name. You must have been the person at the end of the queue
      when manners were allocated.

      1. How strange that you know my face … I was the person in front of you in the queue.

  19. Got thousand island dressing immediately. Likewise hashtag. Only stumped on lin. Thoroughly enjoyed it.

  20. Having missed all this weeks Toughies from Wednesday I am looking forward to them all!

  21. Just finished this perfect puzzle. Hard enough to justify a sigh of relief/pride at the end.
    I loved 17, 19 & 27ac.
    1001 thanks to Tilsit and especially Elgar.

  22. Of course you all realise that what telling Elgar he was fluffy and easier means……?

    Be scared, be very very scared! ;)

  23. Long time reader, first time poster. Thanks so much to Big Dave et al for this fantastic blog :-)

    When I first looked at this Toughie I didn’t know where to start, but with some of Tilsit’s hints to start me off I managed a fair bit, though I still needed plenty of those hints, and had to outright cheat and reveal the answers to 7a and 9a, which were new words to me. But a thoroughly enjoyable puzzle nonetheless!

    One thing not mentioned in the blog (unless I missed it!) is the text in square brackets in 25a and 24d. Can anyone help me understand these? I think 25a makes sense when you re-parse the answer a little, but I’m stumped on 24d. Help appreciated!

      1. Thanks BD. This is where I blush and admit that on checking, there are no such square brackets! The reason I thought there were was down to a browser extension I have installed called “Dictionary of Numbers”. This is something I had installed a while ago and forgotten about. To be honest I had never knowingly seen it in action, so I didn’t think it really worked!

        Anyhow, it was said browser extension that had added these comments so that two clues read as follows:

        25A and 28D and 11A [≈ 230 V AC, Europe common domestic circuit breaker rating]: National wearing funny hat: I smell a rat — and what’s left, perhaps, I have to say (3,4,7)

        24D and 1D, 23A, 5D and 14A [≈ 120 V AC, United States, Canada and Mexico domestic circuit breaker rating]: Americans used to ask me when it came to the credit crunch (5-4,8,6,8)

        These were added in line and merged seamlessly with the rest of the clues, so needless to say I was looking for meaning in those bracketed comments – which I now realise were only there because 11A and 14A can also be interpreted as measures of electric current! It is complete coincidence then that you can re-parse 25A to say XXX XXXX XX: XXXXX! How amusing! (I am not sure if I am allowed to write the solutions in here – I know it’s not a prize crossword, but still?)

        Thanks for the help anyway – without you making me go back to check I’d have given up, confounded!

        1. Tilsit had a Skype program installed that tried to find phone numbers on every page in order to turn them into hyperlinks. In the end he had to uninstall it/

  24. I meant to ask earlier, but why did Messinae draw the short straw in Toughie 1000?

    1. Perhaps the Crossword Editor thought he was given a hard word to clue – I think the opposite is true because he didn’t have to find a new way that hadn’t been done before.

  25. I must protest about your picture for 20d, 26a & 16d. I believe the articles in the picture are sugar strands, not hundreds and thousands (which are tiny spherical objects, and rather more crunchy…)

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