Toughie 1141 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 1141

Toughie 1141 by Elgar

The Real McCoy

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

Greetings from the Calder Valley. There’s been a-stomping in the hills all week and it’s finally arrived. The Cruciverbal equivalent of Vlad the Impaler is back and make no mistake, this is a real beast of a puzzle. I know we don’t often talk times, but this took far longer than any crossword I have tackled so far this year. If I’m honest and I hope Elgar forgives me, I didn’t exactly feel the elation I normally feel when the last answer goes in. There is much to enjoy and admire in this puzzle and it is so much better than many of the puzzles I solve elsewhere, but there was just something about this that left me feeling I had taken too long and I felt I couldn’t blame it on me feeling under the weather.

I hope you’ll persevere and if necessary use the hints below.

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     In two minds? Stressing, Henry initially takes two steps backward; … (8)
{EMPATHIC}    We start with a word that means stressing which needs its H (Henry) moving two places to the right to give a new word that means in two minds. And then…..

5a     … in exchange for kingdom, son takes three steps forward onto land (6)
{ASHORE} … continuing the idiom. Take the first two words of Richard III’s famous speech about what he would trade his kingdom for, and move the S (son) three steps to the left and you get something that means onto land.

9a     Two-pronged attack by one following Graf back with serious intent (3,5)
{FOR KEEPS} The name given to a double attack, named after a utensil with prongs, goes before the reverse (back) of the name of a famous German battleship called Graf ____. This gives what someone may say when they are stressing how serious they are.

10a     Man’s friend rejected one of man’s more diminutive best friends (6)
{LAPDOG} I found this particularly tough to analyse and needed considerable help with this one. An expression that you could utter instead of “man!” and a word for a friend are both reversed to get the same of a small version of Man’s Best Friend.

11a &12a Shambolic Week Ten … another complaint! (5,2,3,4)
{WATER ON THE KNEE} An anagram of WEEK TEN ANOTHER will lead you to a medical complaint, for which the posh name is effusion of the particular joint.

13a     Enemy’s spirit almost completely countered with some weight — in this? (5,2,4)
{SIEGE OF TROY} An enemy and most of (almost completely) a word that originates in Germany and refers to spirit is reversed (countered) , add to this a system of weights. This gives you an historic event almost defined by the entire clue.

16a     Student of descent makes owner of ‘Champion the W.H.’ see the point (11)
{GENEALOGIST} The name for someone who studies family descent and lineage is revealed by taking the name of the owner of the famous wild western horse. Not to be confused with the TV show horse, which apparently he did own as well! Note the way the horse is identified so that the name of the owner should be so described. Add to this a word meaning ‘look!’ and one meaning a point.


21a & 22a Tweet radio-show broadcast: ‘As you know, this is the answer‘ (1,4,2,3,4)
{A WORD TO THE WISE} An expression that is used to warn someone in the know is an anagram (broadcast) of TWEET RADIO SHOW

23a     The school’s  worry (6)
{HARROW} The name of a famous school is also a word meaning worry.

24a     Capless washing gadgets specifically put in one after the other (2,6)
{IN SERIES} The abbreviation for that is to say, or specifically, needs to go inside devices for the final washing cycle without their initial letter (capless) and leads you to an expression meaning to go sequentially.

25a     Relaxed particularly provocative person (2,4)
{AT EASE} An expression that is used to mean relaxed about something can be split into a phrase (1,5) that is said to someone who is provocative.

26a     Import-export concern used PA to call agency back (5,3)
{TRADE GAP} The name for the margin between imports and exports is the reversal of called or used a tannoy and a word that refers to agency or craft.


1d     Mexican bird described there as The Chicken? (3,3)
{ELF OWL} The name for a Central American bird that is the smallest of its species, is, slightly moved, the name in Spanish-English that someone may describe the chicken.


2d     Tear up a seventh note not officially circulated (6)
{PIRATE} A word meaning tear is reversed(up) and goes before A and the seventh note of the scale gives an adjective that means unofficial, applying to such things as DVDs and suchlike.

3d & 17d Gambling? Assess them — they’re paid with tricks (3,4,3,4)
{THE PROS AND CONS} An expression that means reasons for and against an argument is made up of the shortened name for sportsmen who are paid for their services; this also goes before a joining word (with) and a word that means tricks or scams.

4d     Milton’s melancholic work: I look at that writer’s love for captivation (2,9)
{IL PENSEROSO} It didn’t help that I kept thinking that the answer to this was DE PROFUNDIS and I spent time trying to fit the clue to the answer. I then decided to back-track and realised it’s I plus an expression meaning “Look at that!” around (for captivation) a device for writing, the S from ‘S and the name of the Greek God of Love.

6d & 18 Blue-coated swimmer, regularly requiring laugh, observed negativity (5,2,3,4)
{SHAKE OF THE HEAD} Inside (coated) a word meaning blue or miserable goes a type of flat fish, plus a word meaning frequently or regularly and the sound when you laugh. This leads you to an expression that means you are expressing a negative.

7d     Not worthy of noting in X-Files (nor personal log, neutron bombing) (8)
{ORDINARY} Something unexceptional is found by take NOR and a word for a personal log with N (neutron) “bombing”, i.e. moving down a bit.

8d     The end of disease, a joy the ancient one envisages a long way off (5,3)
{EAGLE-EYE} The last letter of DISEASE is added to ‘a’ and a word meaning joy (think of a music US TV series) plus the old word for THE gives you an expression meaning someone who can see something from a distance.

12d     What’s up, entering encoded letters in … this? (3,8)
{THE LISTENER} The name of an old magazine and its most famous crossword, which still appears weekly in the Times each Saturday, is found by taking something that means “What?” or “Pardon!” reversing it (up) and putting it in an anagram of LETTERS IN.

14d     ‘Aargh!’ Having difficulties, without power, one’s primarily ‘Anonymous’ in this condition? (8)
{AGRAPHIA} The inability to write is found by inserting P (Power) inside an anagram (having difficulties) of AARGH and adding I (one) and the first letter of Anonymous.

15d    When this writer’s family’s admitted, all is proceeding as planned (2,6)
 When the family Elgar’s admitted, all is proceeding as planned (2,6) – newspaper version
{ON COURSE} Inside a word meaning when goes a way of saying one’s family to give an expression meaning going to plan.

17d See 3

18d See 6

19d     On top of  Third Division (6)
{RIDING} The old name for a county division (into thirds – think Yorkshire!) also means to be on top of something like a wave or a horse.

20d     Little space around, swing cat to do psychological harm (4,2)
{MESS UP} Take the name for a small space in printing and reverse it (up) and add the name for a cat, also reversed (swing) to give an expression that means to cause someone harm.

Thanks to Elgar for a really stern challenge, very worthy of the name and boast of the Toughie.

I’ll see you again soon.

14 comments on “Toughie 1141

  1. Spent all morning with word searches, Google and a bit of grey matter and completed all but 6d and 19d. Time well spent? Too exhausted to tell you!

    Can you deepen the blue behind the highlit answers? It is so pale I really can only just make it out – or is the problem mine?

  2. I liked this one a lot, I had many question marks beside the clues when I finally finished, but going over them I worked them out eventually. So this means for me Vlad the impaler was only mildly threatening.
    A great mental work-out, many thanks to Elgar and Tilsit-hope you feel better soon.

  3. NW corner last to fall revealing my biggest smile ,1d .Struggled with 6d for a while too .
    Great stuff so thanks Elgar and,Tilsit hope your recovery continues at a pace rather quicker than my solving of this!

  4. Thsi was a real Toughie. Thanks to Elgar for the workout and Tilsit for the explanations of a couple which I struggled to parse. No thanks to the DT site which hung for ages when I tried to submit the completed puzzle, but without stopping the clock, thus making the result look even tougher.

    A couple of points:

    The clue for 15d on the puzzle site begins ‘When this writer’s family’s admitted…’

    The hint for 24a should include an instruction to remove the initial letter from the washing aid (capless).

  5. A right proper Toughie – I can’t remember when I spent such a long time solving a crossword. I did have trouble parsing some of the clues post solve but got there in the end. Top favourite would have to be 5a, closely followed by the Mexican Chicken.

    Thank you to Elgar for giving my cryptic brain a proper work out and to Tilsit for the explanations.

  6. I fell off after 1 across! My admiration, not only for those with the ability to solve puzzles like this, but also for those with the tenacity required.

    This is a Toughie that does what it says on the tin.

  7. We have managed to complete Elgar puzzles in the past but have never enjoyed them as much as we did this one. We often have the feeling that Tilsit describes above, but not this time. It flowed smoothly, although not quickly, from start to finish with lots of chuckles along the way. For some reason the long combination words came readily apart from 3d/17d where we tried to put in ‘the odds’ for for 3d and then justify ‘and sods’ for 17d. Eventually sorted. A real cracker of a puzzle.
    Many thanks Elgar and Tilsit.

  8. I found this easier than the film-themed toughie the other day, but still needed the occasional hint to get me over the line, Thx to all.

  9. Managed nearly a half of this, but many clues were just too subtle. Enigmatic, even.
    I salute anyone finishing it unaided!

  10. These four little puzzles were typical of Elgar. Tough, occasionally brilliant [eg 8d, 26a] sometimes witty [5a and especially 1d] but also wilfully obscure [10a, 16a, 4d] and just plain clunky [7d, 15d]. But it was a joy to solve so we’ll forgive him almost anything.

    Thanks to Elgar and to Tilsit for explaining 3/17d

  11. Cor blimey, Guv’nor! That was a Toughie and no mistake. I did about half (nearly all on the left) unaided, but drew on six of Tils it’s hints – for which many thanks – to fight my way through to completion. Thank you Elgar for reminding me of my own limitations.

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