Toughie 1081 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 1081

Toughie No 1081 by Elkamere

This is more like it!

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

In some quarters Elkamere, as his alter ego Anax, produces ferocious puzzles and we have long complained that he has failed to live up to his reputation when setting in the Toughie series. Today we have one of his tougher puzzles, to which I have given the top enjoyment rating in spite of the unwanted Geography lesson in 3 down and the dreadful Spoonerism in 9 across.

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    A rather round one’s a bonus (10)
{PERQUISITE} – the three-letter word for a, as in 50p a lb, followed by a word meaning rather around I (one) and the S from ‘S

6a    Strap wife in (4)
{WHIP} – W(ife) followed by a word meaning in or popular

9a    How Spooner would describe spectral character’s main body? (10)
{COASTGUARD} – it’s a long time since I saw a good Spoonerism clue, and that has not changed today – split the answer as (5,5) and swap the initial letters and the result sounds like a charade of an adjective meaning spectral and a character or eccentric person – main in the definition refers to the sea

10a    Die young — the end! (4)
{CUBE} – a die, more commonly seen in the plural as dice, is a small six-sided solid body and it is derived from the young of an animal like a bear followed by the final letter (end) of thE

12a    European space station commander (4)
{EMIR} – E(uropean) followed by a Russian space station that was deliberately brought down into the Pacific Ocean in 2001 – interestingly the space station was named after a peasant farming commune in pre-Revolutionary Russia

13a    Old style I incorporated in evening suit (9)
{EXECUTIVE} – a two-letter prefix meaning old or former followed by a style and the I from the clue inside EVE(ning) gives a “man in a suit” or manager

15a    Like religious rhetoric, but longer? (8)
{ASPIRANT} – a two-letter word meaning like followed by a two-letter adjective meaning religious and some rhetoric – the definition is someone who longs or yearns

16a    Holiday on sea  coast (6)
{CRUISE} – two definitions – the second being a verb

18a    Live on the margin (6)
{RESIDE} – a two-letter word meaning on or about followed by a margin or edge

20a    Lead soldiers shy about lead soldiers (3,5)
{TOP BRASS} – the chemical symbol for lead and some soldiers or gunners inside a verb meaning to shy or throw

23a    Slippery flatfish finally caught well (4,5)
{LIFT SHAFT} – an anagram (slippery) of FLATFISH followed by the final letter of caught gives a well or enclosed space in the middle of a building

24a    Is skill not required in party game? (1-3)
{I-SPY} – IS followed by PartY without (not required) the art (skill)

26a    The ultimate in wedding rings, daughter agreed (4)
{GOOD} – the final letter (ultimate) of weddinG followed by two ring-shaped letters and D(aughter)

27a    ‘Fitter‘ is beyond ‘fit’ in court (10)
{CONFORMIST} – someone who is fit or correct is derived by putting IS after a phrase meaning fit (2,4) and then putting it all inside C(our)T

28a    Draw symbol that’s not new (4)
{TOKE} – drop the N(ew) from a symbol

29a    Boot coming up to a point (10)
{WELLINGTON} – a verb meaning coming up or rising to the surface followed by TO and a compass point


1d    Convention full of people, say (4)
{PACT} – sounds like (say) an adjective meaning full of people (6)

2d    Unexpected drama about old parking plan (4,3)
{ROAD MAP] – an anagram (unexpected) of DRAMA around O(ld) and followed by P(arking)

3d    Indian state that spurred a riot? (5,7)
{UTTAR PRADESH] – the less said about this the better! – it’s an anagram (riot) of THAT SPURRED A

4d    A white, briefly fried seabird (8)
{SAUTERNE} – this white wine is derived from most of a cookery term for fried followed by a seabird

5d    Land, as bird (6)
{TURKEY} – two definitions

7d    Escapologist, part of one pair, hard up (7)
{HOUDINI} – a two-letter conjunction meaning part of, followed by I (one), a pair of singers and H(ard) all reversed (up in a down clue)

8d    Muscle-bound leftie to comfort widow? (10)
{PREDECEASE] – a leftie inside a three-letter short form of a chest muscle followed by a verb meaning to comfort – the definition is a verb meaning to make one’s wife into a widow

11d    Gay song published after inferior person hugs learned one (3,6,3)
{RUN RABBIT RUN} – this song written by Noel Gay – yes, the same Noel Gay who perpetrated The Sun Has Got His Hat On – is derived by putting a verb meaning published after an inferior person, the latter around (hugs) a learned Jewish scholar

ARVE Error: need id and provider

14d    One in group on tree happy to feed birds in the air (5,5)
{FAIRY LIGHT} – an adjective meaning happy or breezy inside (to feed) a flock of birds flying together in the air

17d    For a small portion it’s a big word (8)
{MOUTHFUL} – two definitions – a small portion of food and a big word that is difficult to say

19d    Pet bears turning away sheep (7)
{SUFFOLK} – a pet or tantrum around (bears) the reversal (turning) of a word meaning away

21d    Choose to put nothing in a soft drink (7)
{APPOINT] – O (nothing) inside the A from the clue, the musical notation for soft and a drink of beer

22d    Free place for assistant (6)
{PAROLE} – if this verb meaning to conditionally free or release a prisoner is split (2,4) it could mean a place or position for a Personal Assistant

25d    Bowl over bananas (inverted) (4)
{STUN} – reverse (inverted in a down clue) an adjective meaning bananas or mad

There’s much to enjoy in this puzzle. More like this please, but forget the Geography lessons and the Spoonerisms.

11 comments on “Toughie 1081

  1. “Pure dead brilliant ” A 5* enjoyment without doubt though perhaps a 3-4* for difficulty, I loved 1a, 10a, 19d and 22d in particular. ( The Spoonerism is 9a not 6a). Many thanks to Elkamere and Big Dave and please excuse the dreadful quotation from Rab C Nesbit.

  2. Terrific stuff really enjoyed this one, favourites among a host of others were 13a 16a 17d and 27a thanks to Elkamere and to Big Dave for the comments.

  3. I found this really really difficult – although with the benefit of hindsight, a couple of the clues I struggled with were the result of being utterly befuddled by the impossible ones.

    As a guide to difficulty level – I solved last week’s Elgar, worked out all the wordplaym typed my half of the blog, and found illustrations, in about 2/3 of the time it took me to stagger to the end of the Elkamere.

    Thanks to Elkamere for a proper Toughie and BD for the explanations (I didn’t mind the geography lesson but I don’t like Spoonerisms at all in any crossword)

  4. A game of two halves. LHS went in pretty easily but RHS proved much tougher. Particularly enjoyed 1a, 4d [last in] and 19d [looked at it for ages before the penny dropped].

    Thanks to Elkamere and to BD, particularly for explaining the gay reference in 11d. Didn’t the Bonzos do “The sun has got his hat on”?

    I don’t have any problem with toponyms at this level. If we’re supposed to be familiar with US states then why not Indian ones?

  5. Hooray! I completed a 5* Toughie without needing hints. Favourite was 17d – very clever, I thought.

  6. This one took me most of the morning to finish; every time I picked it up, the office telephone rang… but I got there in the end.
    Many thanks to Elkamere for a ‘proper’ toughie, and to Big Dave for the dissection.

  7. Thanks to Elkamere and to Big Dave for the review and hints. Wow, what a mind-bender. Delighted to have solved 12 clues unaided, which included the geography lesson & the Spoonerism. I then looked up the definitions, which yielded another 6 answers. The hints gave me another 8, and I had to look up 8d,20a and 1a, the latter being a new word for me. Favourite was 15a, which was one that I managed to solve. Super puzzle. Was 5*/5* for me.

  8. Mutiny on the high seas. After both of us struggling for some time and making very little progress, Carol deserted in favour of gardening and I was left to fight alone. It took me most of the afternoon but what a sense of satisfaction when I wrote in the last answer. What an abundance of clever clues.
    Thanks Elkamere and BD.

  9. Exceptionally difficult for me but refused to surrender .Personal favourite 17d and enjoyed the challenge apart from 9a which rather worryingly was a relatively early solve .
    Thanks to Elkamere and yet again BD .

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