Toughie 1249 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 1249

Toughie No 1249 by Elgar

What a difference a week makes!

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

It took me almost as long to unravel the wordplay in some of these clues as it did to complete the puzzle – hence the 5-star difficulty level. This puzzle was in a different league to last Friday’s offering.

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    Sorry revolutionary alien stops in Jerusalem arms proposal (4,6)
ZERO OPTION: an adjective meaning sorry or worthless is reversed (revolutionary) inside Steven Spielberg’s famous alien and the whole lot is then inserted into another name for Jerusalem

6a    Status Quo stealing lead from another rock band (2,2)
AS IS: drop the initial letter (stealing lead) from the name of a rock band

10a    A little too much, but not over 1000 (5)
TOUCH: start with TOO MUCH and simply drop (but not) the O(ver) and the Roman numeral for 1,000

11a    Young cooks dressing ducks to render well done at barbie? (4,2,3)
GOOD ON YOU: an anagram (cooks) of YOUNG around (dressing) two of the letters that represent a duck or score of zero in cricket along with a two-letter verb meaning to render gives an Australian expression (indicated by “at barbie”) meaning well done

12a    Thing I like about much of East Anglia I have summarised, bringing flattery to an end? (5,9)
CHARM OFFENSIVE: a phrase (5,2,4) which could describe what the setter likes about East Anglia followed by the shortened form (summarised) of I have gives what Chambers defines as “a method of trying to get what one wants by overwhelming with reasonableness, attractive offers, etc.”

14a    Asian scholar rating one son in school subject (7)
ARABIST: a rating or sailor followed by I (one) and S(on) all inside a subject that is taught in most schools

15a    Cat not getting at cream runs back round attached network (7)
RETICLE: drop the AT (not getting at) from C[at] and then put what’s left inside the reversal (back) of the cream or chosen part and R(uns) to get an attachment to an optical instrument consisting of a network of lines of reference

17a    What comes from vessel with increased vigour! (7)
KETCHUP: this small two-masted sailing vessel followed by a two-letter word meaning with increased vigour gives a condiment suitably described by the whole clue – allegedly this has an approved speed limit of 0.045 km/h when it exits the bottle!

19a    Round these parts, very strong winds as well (7)
THERETO: a four-letter adverb meaning these parts with the reversal (winds) of the abbreviated form of an adjective meaning very strong or excessive around it

20a    Off in pursuit of Dracula? (3,3,3,5)
OUT FOR THE COUNT: this phrase meaning off or unconscious could also describe the pursuit of Dracula

23a    In return race, nursing injured toe and arm, one’s over the line! (9)
NUMERATOR: the reversal of a race or run around (nursing) an anagram (injured) of TOE and ARM

24a    Prompt, in altogether grand opening (5)
NUDGE: an adjective meaning in the altogether or naked with G(rand) inserted (opening)

25a    File using this could make for fop (4)
RASP: split as (1,2,1) this could make foR into foP

26a    In a mobile shop, knocking back wine’s close to the mark (10)
APOSTROPHE: inside the A from the clue and an anagram (mobile) of SHOP put the reversal (knocking back) of a fortified wine and then add the final letter of (close to) [th]E


1d    From the South Temperate Zone, letter enclosed (4)
ZETA: hidden (enclosed) and reversed (from the South) inside the clue

2d    Ham actors in film plastered and stoned? (9)
ROUGH CAST: an adjective meaning ham or unskilful followed by a list of actors in a film

3d    The retrospective father of history angry about bigger priorities (5,4,2,3)
OTHER FISH TO FRY: THE and the reversal (retrospective) of the abbreviation for a religious father inside (about) an anagram (angry) of OF HISTORY

4d    Ultimately, Cousteau implicating sub in bang on water tower (7)
TUGBOAT: the final letters (ultimately) of [Coustea]U [implicatin]G [su}B inside a phrase (2,1,1) meaning bang on results in, not a tower full of water, but a vessel that tows other vessels through the water

5d    Reduced variable? I’m not sure (2,5)
ON OFFER: an adjective meaning variable (2-3) followed by an interjection expressing hesitation (I’m not sure)

7d    Needles and pins finally secure position, some say (5)
STYLI: the kind of needles that are (still!) used to play records come from the final letter of [pin]S followed by two word fragments that sound like (some say) a verb meaning to secure and a position, particularly that from which a golf ball is to be played

8d    Steady hum personalised by music-maker (7-3)
SQUEEZE BOX: a colloquial word for a steady partner, particularly a young lady, followed by the two-letter abbreviation for a hum or bad smell and the mathematical symbol for by or times – some would say that describing the output of this instrument as music is contentious!

9d    Approximate location of 13 in the air (5,3,6)
ROUND THE CORNER: an adjective meaning approximate followed by the location of the nursery rhyme character who is the answer to 13 down

13d    Fellow congratulating himself on plum job‘s giving troublesome anchor jerk (4,6)
JACK HORNER: an anagram (troublesome) of ANCHOR JERK
Jack Horner
16d    Won a tidy sum? (7,2)
CLEANED UP: This verb meaning won everything sounds like the amount had been tidied first

18d    Parking, the one everyone’s chasing will power nap on journey? (3,4)
PIT STOP: P(arking) followed by a phrase (2’1,2) meaning “the one everyone’s chasing will” and P(ower)

19d    You and I, out of wet suit, collected culture (3,4)
THE ARTS: drop the word meaning you and I from [we]T and and a suit of playing cards

21d    Every so often, at this  organ? (5)
TIMES: two definitions – the organ being a newspaper

22d    Used to be the Telegraph crossword compilers? Touching! (4)
WERE: how the Telegraph crossword compilers might collectively refer to themselves followed by a word meaning touching or concerning

Don’t forget about the meeting in York in October to celebrate, among other things, young Elgar’s 51st birthday.  If you can’t make that one, then there will be a meeting the previous week somewhere near the City of London (details to follow when finalised).

22 comments on “Toughie 1249

  1. This is what a Toughie should be – a lovely 5* mixture of head-scratching, laughing out loud and splendid d’oh moments, taking a good time to solve but without driving you mad for hours and hours. I really liked (amongst several others) 11a, 17a, 5d, 8d and 22d.

    Thanks to Elgar for a great crossword – if only all Toughies were of this calibre, I’d be a very happy solver. Thanks to BD too.

    1. just finished, don’t panic not been doing since yesterday. Totally agree with your comments. What deranged mind could provide the clue for 22d, oh, Elgar :) thought it brilliant. Missed the pangram but hey ho. Thanks to BD and Elgar.

  2. Good stuff and a pangram to boot, favourites were 4d 12a and 22d thanks to Elgar and to Big Dave for the dissection.

  3. I thought this was a terrific toughie but not as difficult as usual, I loved 11a and 13d, best crossword for several weeks, many thanks to Elgar and to BD for the fabulous pictorial review.

  4. Very enjoyable. It took me a while to get started, but I gradually tuned in to Elgar’s wavelength. I particularly liked his typically cryptic definitions – water tower, forsooth!

  5. Great puzzle today, was quite happy to finish it (though I missed the wordplay for 25a!)
    So many wonderful clues ( I checked 6a, 10a, 24a, 1d, 3d, 4, 5d, 7d, 8d, 19d as favourites but there were more) and hard but not impossible, just the right tension there. and a pangram, though I forgot to try and use that.

    Especially nice after the over-easy back page. Thanks very much Elgar, and BD for enlightening review

  6. Fantastic ! *****/***** My last one solved was 22d. I particularly liked 1a, 6a, 11a and 26a, but many others were equally entertaining, although some were difficult to parse. Thanks to Big Dave for the explanations, which must have taken some time to fathom out !

  7. I gave it my best shot, but came up short on half a dozen, mostly at the top of the grid. I did have some of the “fixin’s” for 1A but just couldn’t put them together. I was dead in the water on 12A, 5D and 7D. For 15A, I had all but the first letter but wrongly assumed ‘runs back’ meant in reverse. And I’ve not heard of a newspaper being referred to as an organ before. I really enjoyed 17A, 20A and 13D. All in all, I’m quite pleased with my effort. Many thanks to Elgar, and to BD for the much needed explanations.

  8. Now that was fun and b hard. 13d made me curse JH. Re 11 having some Aussie relatives it’s more G’d on yer rather than Good on you.
    Thanks BD not easy at all.
    More like this please

  9. Very enjoyable and equally amusing ,plenty of stars but 17A gave me the biggest smile .
    Thanks very much Elgar and BD

  10. Well, at least I have solved an Elgar crossword puzzle – albeit with a couple of hints from Big Dave (thanks BD) The word ‘Toughie’ used to frighten me off, but over the past six months or so I’ve resolved to give them a serious go and . . . . . . . . . . . . lo and behold I can now claim to have solved quite a few during that time. Beyond the satisfaction of completing this one, I have to say that it was about as enjoyable as having teeth pulled (well, almost) My first three answers were entered whilst cooking our evening meal round about 5.30 and I gradually added the remainder over the past few hours.I’d never have got 8d and 12a without a hint, but 9, 13, 16 and 18 down clues, plus 20 across were pure class. Thanks to both Elgar and Big Dave – and now to relax with a G & T and an Extra Slice of Jo Brand ;-)

  11. Wow that was a struggle for us. Had other commitments yesterday so could not tackle it at the usual time. Had a half-hearted attempt last night without getting very far and then this morning, carefully avoided looking at the review, and made a concerted attack on the beast. Success! What clever deviousness. Lots of chuckles.
    Thanks Elgar and BD.

  12. I always look forward to an Elgar crossword. This was really enjoyable, as was expected, but I thought it was Elgar at his most solver friendly: ***/*****. I loved 10ac; it was one of the last ones in, yet it turned out to be relatively easy … lovely misdirection!

  13. Thanks to Elgar and to Big Dave for the review and hints. I had a go, but it was totally beyond me. Needed 14 look ups and 2 hints to finish.

  14. Best ever progress with a Rain King Toughie, jacking in with just ten to go, including 1a where I was so convinced that “sorry revolutionary” meant “zos” having got 1d that the true source of the Z never occurred to me.

    But as ever baffled by the rating: having been resoundingly defeated by all but about 6 clues in 1233, it is hard to understand why that got 4* and this one 5*.

    Also pleased to see “water tower” used in this sense as I used it in a clue a couple of months ago. Nice to be on the same wavelength as Vlad, and made 4d a gimme :).

  15. Thanks to Elgar and Big Dave. I found this tough but was fairly pleased with my progress before needing hints.

    I’m stuck ok 18d though; having read BD’s hint and looked at the solution I’m still none the wiser. Can anyone please help explain why “the one everyone’s chasing will” means what it does?

    Edit: I realised the moment I posted this (typical!) that IT is clearly the one everyone is chasing. But I’m still not all the way there…

    1. Welcome to the blog Chris

      I wondered about that as well. There are two similar games and I think the one to which the setter is referring is the one I knew as “Hide and Seek”. If the wordplay “it’s to” is split as “it has to” then the “has to” bit is clued by “will”.

  16. I did this in the pub on Friday night and found it absolutely wonderful – especially the “Jack Horner” clue! I’ll remember this crossword for a long time!

  17. Marvellous puzzle for both entertainment and solving challenge – although he can be much tougher than this – maybe he’s mellowing in his (relatively – >50 now) old age.

    Familiar phrases popping out from crunchy wordplays – it’s a great formula.

    Many thanks for the blog BD.

  18. Tuesday teatime – and I have had to admit defeat with 4 not solved (7d,8d, 11a &19a) Thought 17a was brilliant. Never been so close to solving a *****/***** before – it was excellent. Thank you for those responsible! Sh-Shoney.

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