Toughie 1193

Toughie No 1193 by Elgar

Hints and tips by Batman and Robin

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

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

Greetings from the Bat Cave. There’s been a loud sound of hobnailed boots in the distance all week, and it’s heralded the return of Toughie-land’s resident Tormentor in residence, Elgar. It’s been three months since we were given a Friday mauling, but’s he’s back and in ferocious mood.

A lovely puzzle that represents the Toughie at its best. Plenty of fiendish clues and explanations of which 27 across is the star.

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.

Robin does the Acrosses

1a    Thick clients OK to fiddle? (5-4)
{CLOSE-KNIT} – We start with an anagram today. Something that means thick or grouped tightly together is an anagram (to fiddle) of CLIENTS OK.

8a    Folly, in essence, with intricately remastered edging, overwhelmed (5-8)
{STEAM-ROLLERED} – Take the essence, i.e. innards of fOLLy and insert them inside (edging) an anagram (intricately) of REMASTERED to give an expression that means overwhelmed.

11a    Atoms of hydrogen peroxide need a stir (3-2)
{HOO-HA} – Take two H (hydrogen), two O (oxygen) (H2O2 is the chemical formula for hydrogen peroxide), mix them up, and add an A to give an expression meaning stir or uproar.

12a    Irish county in which you might catch surreptitious work (5)
{SLIGO} – The name of a county in Eire is a homophone for secret and work or an attempt at something.

13a    See rules from the East expelling Europeans as aspersions (5)
{SLURS} – Remove all the E(uropean)s from SEE RULES and reverse (from the East) what remains to get something that means aspersions or harangues.

16a & 19a    Preoccupied with truant’s plan? (6-6)
{ABSENT-MINDED} – If someone decided to stay away from school, it could be cryptically described as this, which also means preoccupied with something.

17a & 20a    Indulges in wife‑swapping activities in working men’s clubs? (6,6)
{TRADES UNIONS} – Runner-up for clue of the day. The name for groups for the working could cryptically be described as swapping wives, or marriages!

18a    Cautionary light check — what’s missing from front of room (5)
{AMBER} – If you remove CH (check) from a word meaning room, you’ll get the colour of the traffic light that represents caution.

19a    See 16 Across

20a    See 17 Across

21a    Dadaist sailor’s back cycling! (5)
{ERNST} – The name for a famous artist is the word for the rear of a ship with some of the letters shifted to the end (cycled).

24a    Ruin suit (2,3)
{DO FOR} – two definitions

26a    For pursuing purchase at auction house? (5)
{LOTTO} – A word that can be shouted instead of “House!” in the game of bingo (it’s also a name for the game or draws in general) is the name for an item on sale at an auction, plus TO (for).

27a    So galleon comes to me soon enough (3,2,4,4)
{ALL IN GOOD TIME} – Clue of the day! It’s a rebus clue. The word GALLEON could be seen to represent an expression that means soon enough. If you view it as a word meaning everything concealed by G (good) and EON (time), all may become clear.

28a    Dyslexic Spooner’s indistinct, warped condition (4-5)
{WORD-BLIND} – A description of someone who is dyslexic could, according to Reverend Spooner, be said to have a warped or confused consequence of indigestion?

Thanks to Elgar, welcome back and here’s to the next one. Now back to my OU exam revision! If you are still in need of a crossword fix, there are a couple of corkers in today’s Times, Guardian and FT, and I commend them all to the House.

Batman does the Downs

2d    Walk over a pack animal (5)
{LLAMA} – reverse (over) a sheltered walk or promenade and follow it with the A from the clue

3d & 4d    Regular butcher supplies breakfast, one on wrap being announced differently? (6,6)
{SERIAL KILLER} – something eaten for breakfast followed by someone on a charge or rap (breakfast, one on wrap being announced differently)

5d    A nasty gut feeling, this one’s conserving a little money in Bucharest (5)
{ILEUS} – I (one) and the S from ‘S around the Rumanian (in Bucharest) currency

6d    Not quite at home with religious family in masses? (1,12)
{A THOUSANDFOLD} – AT followed by most of (not quite) a home, a word meaning with and a church congregation (religious family)

7d    Love dressing in newly computerised outfits from the year dot? (6,7)
{PERIOD COSTUME} – O (love) inside (dressing in) an anagram (newly) of COMPUTERISED

9d    Spanish visitors I’m very grateful to pick up bananas for boxing (3,6)
{THE ARMADA} – a two-letter word meaning I’m very grateful around (for boxing) a verb meaning to pick up or perceive and an adjective meaning bananas or stupid

10d    Various heroes include mum, with love, which may prove lucky (9)
{HORSESHOE} – an anagram (various) of HEROES around a two-letter exhortation to keep mum or quiet and O (love)

13d    Emirates, say, remained sober, according to reports (5)
{STADE} – a sports ground, of which the Emirates, where a certain North London football club (I won’t tell you by what name they are known in the BD household!) is an example (say) sounds like (according to reports) an adjective meaning sober

14d    City’s entrepreneur bankrolls jails (5)
{URBAN} – an adjective meaning of the city is hidden (jails) inside the clue

15d    Charge advancing the end of Miss Peacock (5)
{STRUT} – start with a word meaning charge or safekeeping and move the final letter (end) of misS to the front (advancing)

22d & 23d    Ridiculed group swimming where urchins were formed? (6,6)
{RAGGED SCHOOL} – a verb meaning ridiculed followed by a group of fish

25d    Personnel given a raise in old, old money (5)
{RHINO} – reverse (given a raise) the two-letter abbreviation for the department that looks after personnel and follow it with IN O(ld) to get an archaic (old) word for money

26d    Tell me what’s essential for muscle tone! (3,2)
{LET ON} – hidden (what’s essential for) inside the clue

While Batman very much enjoyed this puzzle, he thought that Robin stole all the best clues!


  1. crypticsue
    Posted May 23, 2014 at 2:26 pm | Permalink

    Welcome back Elgar – a proper toughie to get one’s solving teeth into – not the toughest Elgar ever but such good fun. I liked it all even the dreaded Spoonerism so won’t pick just one favourite. Thanks to Elgar and the deadly Duo too.

  2. the dodger
    Posted May 23, 2014 at 2:33 pm | Permalink

    I think the hob-nails were rather worn down,not Elgars toughest of challenges,but most enjoyable
    nevertheless. My only quibble is the clue to 3/4 dn- I don’t see where ‘announced differently’ comes into it?When I say ‘serial/cereal’ or’ wrap/rap’– they sound the same to me,unless ‘announced’ means ‘introduced’? Anyhow, many thanks to the dynamic duo and Elgar.

    • Posted May 23, 2014 at 2:37 pm | Permalink

      Does anyone have a better explanation?

      • gazza
        Posted May 23, 2014 at 4:02 pm | Permalink

        When I did the puzzle this morning I was quite happy with my explanation that killer precedes app in the phrase ‘killer app’ and if you say them quickly enough ‘killer app’ sounds similar to ‘killer wrap’. However, the more I think about it the less confident I am.

  3. Pegasus
    Posted May 23, 2014 at 2:33 pm | Permalink

    Thoroughly enjoyed this one, I thought 27a was brilliant thanks to Elgar and to the twosome for the review.

  4. stanXYZ
    Posted May 23, 2014 at 2:34 pm | Permalink

    I finished it … so it cannot have been that difficult.

    Liked 27a.

    (Still looking for a Nina?)

    • Posted May 23, 2014 at 5:02 pm | Permalink

      I saw your comment in the 1192 blog so I was intrigued that an Elgar would be as easy as yesterday ‘s Dada. I must confess, though I did finish this one eventually, it was by no means as easy for me.

  5. Expat Chris
    Posted May 23, 2014 at 2:49 pm | Permalink

    I’m a bit more than halfway through, so not looking at the hints. It may take me all weekend but I’m nowhere near ready to give up yet!

    • Kath
      Posted May 23, 2014 at 3:08 pm | Permalink

      I’m behind you – not quite half way but not giving in or looking at hints yet although I rather suspect that I may have got about as far as I’m going to.

  6. davelawes
    Posted May 23, 2014 at 2:52 pm | Permalink

    Jolly good – just check that 6d ends in th , whereas you meant fold.
    Thanks to setter and revue

  7. JonP
    Posted May 23, 2014 at 2:58 pm | Permalink

    First toughie that I actually did OK in – forced myself into attempting it this morning before hints published. Managed to get most of the answers but needed help parsing a few. Thanks to Elgar and the dynamic duo for the helpful hints.

  8. andy
    Posted May 23, 2014 at 3:12 pm | Permalink

    Still looking to see what if anything is going with the double unches, knowing Elgars dislike of them……

    • 2Kiwis
      Posted May 23, 2014 at 8:46 pm | Permalink

      We are prepared to forgive the double unches as a trade-off for there being absolutely NO pesky four-letter answers.

  9. BigBoab
    Posted May 23, 2014 at 3:33 pm | Permalink

    By no means the toughest Elgar toughie but thoroughly enjoyable, many thanks to the Maestro and to the Dynamic Duo for a terrific review.

  10. halcyon
    Posted May 23, 2014 at 3:42 pm | Permalink

    Found this relatively straightforward [for Elgar] except for the four 13 letter clues.
    Agree with The Dodger that 3/4d doesn’t work perfectly [but it’s Elgar so we forgive].
    Am I alone in thinking that Spoonerisms [28a] should have vowel harmony? If so “wind” meaning gut-rot doesn’t really work. I think it’s meant to be “wind” as in warp, twist or coil – a “warped condition” being a wind [noun] see BRB.
    Loved 11a even tho”stir” seems to be both the anagrind and the def.
    Thanks to Elgar and B&R.

  11. Kath
    Posted May 23, 2014 at 4:14 pm | Permalink

    Finished it apart from 26a and 26d ( and needed hints to explain some of my answers.
    I found it very difficult but enjoyed it very much.
    My favourite was 17/20a.
    With thanks to Elgar and Batman and Robin.
    Having looked at the picture hint for 21a I’m quite glad that I haven’t heard of him – enough to give anyone nightmares.

  12. Posted May 23, 2014 at 4:58 pm | Permalink

    Thanks to both bloggers, your help was required in turn for 28a and 6d otherwise managed to complete, albeit in three times the length it took to complete the also excellent offering from Tramp in the Guardian. 8a and 27a are absolute gems. On a technical note I also think the choice of grid was very fair given the difficulty of the clues. Thanks Elgar.

  13. Dutch
    Posted May 23, 2014 at 6:57 pm | Permalink

    Almost! missed 5d. Liked 11a – if you write hydrogen peroxide as HOOH then you don’t need stir to be a anagrind. Didn’t pick up on “differently” in 3/4 down, just read it as homophones. Had state(!) for a while for 13d, thinking there were 4 dodgy homophones… Loved 27a.

    Thanks Elgar and dynamic duo

    • halcyon
      Posted May 23, 2014 at 9:07 pm | Permalink

      Thanks Dutch. I should have remembered that -OOH is chemists’ shorthand for peroxide.

    • Mark Hemingway
      Posted June 19, 2014 at 1:11 pm | Permalink

      HOO -HA = stir !

  14. Expat Chris
    Posted May 23, 2014 at 8:08 pm | Permalink

    While I understood that 1A was an anagram of ‘clients OK’, I just couldn’t unravel it, so had to take a peek at the hint. Once that was in place, I was able to finish off the last remaining three…8A, 3/4D and 5D. I found this very challenging and slow going but happy to have solved as much as I did unaided. Like Kath, I needed the Dynamic Duo’s explanations to fully understand a couple of clues. I also needed Google to confirm 25D, 22D and 5D. If I’ve had to work overtime to finish a puzzle, It takes the edge of the enjoyment factor a bit, but I will plump for 17/20A.

    Hat’s off to Elgar, and grateful thanks to the D/D for helping me to the finishing post.

  15. tilsit
    Posted May 23, 2014 at 8:17 pm | Permalink

    Vlad says there’s no Nina, so don’t get stressed looking for one.

    I recommend the Ft puzzle from today by Rosa Klebb – now there’s a setting name!

    • andy
      Posted May 23, 2014 at 10:04 pm | Permalink

      Rosa was on excellent form, thanks for the pointer Tilsit

  16. 2Kiwis
    Posted May 23, 2014 at 8:21 pm | Permalink

    We needed Google to help us with Romanian currency, but apart from that everything went in smoothly albeit not swiftly. Just about the right difficulty for us to enjoy and feel adequately challenged. Thought 27a was just brilliant.
    Thanks Elgar and The Team.

  17. Robin Hill
    Posted May 23, 2014 at 9:53 pm | Permalink

    A superb Toughie from Elgar, after quite an absence. The 13-letter clues took me longest to solve. 8a and 7d were particular favourites. 26a reminds me of Paul Simon explaining the rules of Bingo to his cat. He tells it to shout ‘Lotto’ when it has a full house, whereupon the cat tells him it would sound silly doing this. “OK,” says Paul; “if I have a full house I’ll scream ‘Lotto,’ but you can call miaow !”

    • andy
      Posted May 23, 2014 at 10:34 pm | Permalink

      :) :)

  18. Only fools
    Posted May 24, 2014 at 12:29 am | Permalink

    Top notch puzzle and review so thanks to the twosome and Elgar .Personal favourite 11a after 27a which I was slow to parse .
    Thanks yet again

  19. Brendan
    Posted May 24, 2014 at 1:42 am | Permalink

    Wow! what a struggle, but totally worth it – 5* enjoyment. Many thanks Elgar and to B&R.

  20. Outnumbered
    Posted May 24, 2014 at 1:29 pm | Permalink

    I found this hard, but very enjoyable. I spent a long time looking at about four completed answers, then got 9d and that seemed to be the domino needed to get the others all falling ! Did it without hints, and just using the dictionary to check a couple of unknown words.****/****

  21. JollySwagman
    Posted May 26, 2014 at 7:46 am | Permalink

    Great puzzle – and thanks for the brilliant blog B&R

    Only complaint – why did we have to wait three months for it.

    And thanks to all other bloggers – regular lurker so do appreciate them – mainly a G solver but always look out for the odd fave setter here – Elgar being one natch.

    BTW we hardly get any Enigmatists on the G these days either.

    • Prolixic
      Posted May 26, 2014 at 9:51 am | Permalink

      Welcome to the blog JollySwagman.

  22. Hazybelle
    Posted May 26, 2014 at 12:19 pm | Permalink

    After three days still can’t get 28 across!!! Help!!!!!

    • Posted May 26, 2014 at 12:31 pm | Permalink

      Elgar thinks that the Rev Spooner might have said “blurred wind”. Now you can see why so many Spoonerisms are disliked by solvers.

      • Hazybelle
        Posted May 26, 2014 at 12:37 pm | Permalink

        Thanks! Just saved my sanity!!!

  23. Mark Hemingway
    Posted June 19, 2014 at 1:01 pm | Permalink

    I think very hard even though I managed it all except Rhino, never heard of it. But 3/4 D, and 28A were very poor, inaccurate contrived clues, that I only got as they fitted and could nt be anything else ! Poor way to get solution ! But DID ejoy as great challenge