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Toughie 1332

Toughie No 1332 by Elgar

Come over to the Dark Side

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

Today is that one time in the month when we are treated to a proper Toughie. Charge up your lightsabers and enjoy your trip to the dark side for your tussle with Darth Vader.

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.


9a & 28a    Mayday? (5,5)
RADIO ALARM: a cryptic definition of what could be a distress call

10a    End of week box does not contain dry chicken feed! (9)
FRICASSEE: the three-letter abbreviation for the end of the working week followed by a small box, typically one containing a reel of magnetic tape, from which TT (dry) has been dropped (does not contain) gives this dish which can include chicken among its ingredients

11a    Ogle refined woman — wow! — mingling (4,3)
GLAD-EYE: a refined woman is intertwined (mingling) with an interjection similar to “wow!”

12a    As cross topless shot has set back small department stores? (1-6)
T-SHAPED: this adjective meaning like (as) a cross with no top (topless) is derived from an anagram (shot) of HAS inside the reversal (set back) of the abbreviated (small) form of DEP(artmen)T

13a & 21a    1728 is big and fat (5,5)
GREAT GROSS: this quantity which is 12x12x12 is a charade of adjectives meaning big and fat

14a    Pencilled letters are inclined to be slower (9)
HANDBRAKE: the letters commonly found on pencils (1,3,1) to indicate the hardness or softness of the lead followed by a verb meaning are inclined to get something that is a slower, that is it would slow down the progress of a vehicle

16a    In score draw, selfsame errors the talk of the town (2,9,4)
ON EVERYONE’S LIPS: start with the lowest possible score draw in football (3,3), insert an adjective meaning selfsame and then add some errors

19a    Homely glow that’s apparently generated by disruptive air passenger? (9)
FIRELIGHT: take something that is apparently generated by a disruptive air passenger (3,IN,6) and follow the instruction

21a    See 13 Across

23a    Perhaps releases take on what is being put about (7)
REHIRES: releases here is re-leases – the abbreviation of R(ecipe), the Latin for take, followed by a two-letter interjection meaning “what!” or “pardon!” then a two-letter word meaning on or concerning inside (being put about) IS

25a    Content to run it in Greek wedding? (7)
UNITING: hidden words can be difficult to spot in a hard puzzle – this one nearly fooled me

27a    Pop discovered heavy, slow-moving ape up ahead (9)
ORANGEADE: this fizzy pop is derived from an adjective meaning heavy and slow-moving without its outer letters (dis-covered) preceded by (up ahead) the shorter version of a reddish-brown, tree-dwelling ape

28a    See 9 Across


1d    Sanctimonious person repeatedly turning prison sitcom on and off? (4)
PRIG: this sanctimonious person is derived from the odd letters (repeatedly turning … on and off) of a prison sitcom which starred Ronnie Barker

2d    Women having a challenge to circumvent computer plug-ins? (6)
ADWARE: W(omen) with the A from the clue an a challenge around the outside (to circumvent)

3d    Originator of the law exploiting beer and petrol (6,4)
ROBERT PEEL: the founder of the modern police force is an anagram (exploiting) of BEER and PETROL

4d    Once again it’s nice engaging servant when growing up (6)
AFRESH: a two-letter interjection meaning “it’s nice!” around (engaging) the reversal (when growing up in a down clue) of a servant

5d    Wire-tapper will roll radio up (6,2)
LISTEN IN: a roll or roster followed by the reversal (up in a down clue) of the number of the clue to which RADIO is the answer

6d    Whip round for a little fresh salmon? (4)
LASH: hidden (a little) and reversed (round) inside the clue

7d    I ask for a lift as crone cuts Americans’ gullets (8)
ESOPHAGI: I followed by a verb meaning to ask a question all reversed (lift) around (as … cuts) a crone or witch gives the plural of the American spelling of another word for the gullet

8d    Eighties tennis ace calms military arrangements (4-6)
LEND-LEASES: the surname of the eighties tennis ace who famously never won a Wimbledon title followed by a verb meaning calms

13d    Generally, fruit and veg is  well done! (4,3,3)
GOOD FOR YOU: fruit and veg is this!

15d    As at Big Sur, McCartney’s axe to grind? (4,6)
BASS GUITAR: AS A BIG SUR (for what it’s worth, the Big Sur is a sparsely populated region of the Coast of California) is an anagram (to grind) of the type of “axe” played by Paul McCartney

17d    Misguidedly names a threat for ______ as ET? (8)
EARTHMAN: the answer (as represented in the clue by “______ “) with AS ET is an anagram (misguidedly) of NAMES A THREAT – how someone from our planet might be known when extra terrestial (it;s a bit difficult to underline an underline!)

18d    Old East European bloke raised Big John! (8)
YUGOSLAV: the reversal (raised) of a three-letter bloke followed by the “big” size in clothing and another slang word for the toilet (John)

20d    With respect, Burmese will have to go without rug (6)
TOUPEE: the Burmese sign of respect, as afforded former UN Secretary General Thant, inside (will have … without) TO and a verb meaning to go or to urinate – for the benefit of those for whom English is not their first language a rug is another name for a wig (as is syrup / syrup of figs in Cockney rhyming slang)

22d    Special Boards eerily able to clear beaujolais nouveau? (6)
OUIJAS: drop (to clear) the assorted (eerily) letters of ABLE from [BEA]UJO[L)AIS and find an anagram (nouveau) of what remains

24d    Not the ultimate in Indian grain supply? (4)
RAGI: drop (not) the N (the ultimate in [India]N) from GRAI[N] and find an anagram (supply) of the rest

26d    Hobbling contest? (4)
GAME: two definitions – hobbling or disabled and a sporting contest

For a change I spotted the Nina across the top and bottom rows!

23 comments on “Toughie 1332

  1. I spotted the Nina too – a rare day indeed.

    Superb proper Toughie – I’d better not say how many favourites I have marked, or d’oh moments, coupled with a rare “sneaky” at the radio in 5d.

    Three out of four Toughies this week actually meeting the description makes a very nice change, and this one is the best and toughest of them all. Thanks to Elgar and BD too.

  2. Terrific puzzle today with a plethora of good clues, favourites were 5d 16a and 19a thanks to Elgar and to Big Dave for the review.
    Dave 10a paper version reads; Today box does not contain dry chicken feed.

  3. Certainly merited the description of Toughie. Probably the first 5* that I have completed – albeit with some electronic help.

    I like Elgar because, although he is tough, there are not too many obscure words. So perseverance can pay off.

    Thanks to Elgar and BD

  4. Defeated by 2d. Thanks for explaining it BD but you may have a surplus A in your parsing. [It’s surely just “a challenge” round w]
    Also not convinced by 23d – it reads to me as tho IS is being put about “what” rather than “on”.
    And what is cryptic about 9/28 or 13/21 for that matter?

    But as usual with Elgar the irritations are outweighed by the sheer inventiveness of other clues. In this case14a, 19a, 5d [the definition is Wire-tapper will…] and 18d [I’m a sucker for toilet jokes].

    Many thanks to Elgar and BD.

    1. In 2d – I always put any “A”s that are included in the answer as “the A from the clue” – the second “a” is not a capital so is not included.

      9/38 is a cryptic definition because a mayday is an alarm broadcast over the radio not a radio alarm.

      13/21 is a charade of two adjectives (great and gross) resulting in a noun (great gross) – I don’t see your problem

      1. No problem, just two feeble clues. To be fair it’s a kindness by the Setter to provide a couple of “write ins” but with clues like this one doesn’t write them in because one thinks “surely there’s more to it than that”. Only when one has enough checking letters does one realise “no there isn’t!”

  5. I managed to get 12 clues. 10 of the, ‘I’m certain that’s correct’ variety, and 2 of the, ‘bung it in’ variety.

    Of this I am proud.

    Having read BD’s review, my appreciation of Elgar has deepened. Sheer class. Just out of my league right now.

    So many thanks to Elgar and to BD for enlightening me.

    My head hurts.

    1. My head hurts too, Hanni. Interestingly, I also got 12 before facing defeat. Three more came via the hints and, after revealing the remaining answers, I have large exclamation marks alongside 8 of them. These are my personal indicators of clues that I still wouldn’t be able to answer long after hell froze over.
      Thought 16a & 13d were great fun, but I’m with you on the ‘out of my league’ comment.

      1. I didn’t get 13d but I agree that it is a fantastic clue. There are a couple I could kick myself for missing such as the hidden word in 6d. I sometimes think that had that appeared on the back page I might have seen it, yet because it is the Toughie I was looking for something more complicated.

        Maybe not though. :-(

        Anyway I am in my corner and about to have a drink. I hope you’re well? :-)

        N.B I did the Arachne crossword the other day which was great fun and then realised that no one was going to blog it!! I’ve become accustomed to crosswords being blogged now.

        1. I’m in my corner and it’s fairly miserable at the moment. I’m having a delayed ‘dry January’ in order to shed some of the excess Christmas pounds – one week in and I’m already sick of soft drinks.
          If you look back to when CS posted the Arachne link, I think you’ll find plenty of subsequent comments – great fun had by all!

          1. What?? Oh no. I shall make a perfect G & T for you for when you are ready, preferably in the Anglesey based corner, and we can toast your Toughie successes this week. And then you can laugh at me, as recently I had to ask about a bird I saw. It was a cormorant. On the upside I’ve totally nailed identifying robins.

  6. Cocorico.
    I managed to solve all but 6 clues.
    Elgar here I come. Soon you will have no more secrets for me. Apart from the new year special that is.
    Got 20d from a wordplay on TO with the Burmese RUPEE without it’s first letter. Don’t ask me!
    14a was a bung in and so was 5d. Thanks to BD for explaining.
    The ones I didn’t get were 13d. Thought it was food for all. 27a. Thought it was lead something. 13/21. Although I guessed the second part. 24d. Thought it could be rice and 2d which was just impossible to parse.
    Remembered Porridge though and the American term axe for guitar.
    Great great great crossword.
    Thanks to Elgar and to BD for the help.

    1. The American term for a guitar is spelt AX – it comes up quite a lot in crosswords – AXE is the English (i.e.correct) spelling.

  7. Great end to the week and much more satisfying than today’s back pager. Loved 5d (v clever) and 16a. Not too sure about 14a’s definition (I’ve always used a pedal to slow my car down) but you can’t fault the wordplay. After thinking that the back pager was heading towards a pangram, my eye was looking for some hidden play.

    Thanks to Elgar for the puzzle and BD’s usual excellent review.

    1. well, 15d and 22d weren’t that bad (big sur rings a bell as a concert venue, some bureaucratic organisation approving of the new beaujolais)… but I agree, devilish wordplay seems often to be accompanied by relaxed surface elegance – it becomes mainly a technical game, where the appreciation is in the tricky wordplay. Having said that, some nice surfaces today as well.

  8. My light saber will remain secured in its scabbard as I will only fight the battles that I know I can win. Hats off to those much braver than me but somebody has to applaud as you walk past us mere mortals.

    As Obi Wan Ken-obi said to Luke in the Chinese restaurant as Luke struggled with his chopsticks – “Use the forks Luke, use the forks…”

  9. Well defeated having filled in about a dozen clues only. Looking at the review, I was on the right track for some of them but nowhere near others. Persistence may have paid off but i haven’t done my chores yet. Toughie indeed!

    Many thanks Elgar and BD for the enlightening review, and respect to everyone who completed this

  10. As usual with Elgar, after my initial read-through of the clues I thought it was going to be too tough for me, but then I made a start (with 1d), and things began to fall into place. My last in was 24d, which I nearly entered as Riga, on the grounds that it exported wheat, but then my trusty BRB yielded the solution. Thanks to Elgar for the mental work-out, and to Big Dave and his fellow bloggers, without whose guidance over the past many months I wouldn’t have advanced to the stage of completing 5* Toughies on my own.

  11. Last minute trip to hospital meant I was deprived of the treat of blogging this splendid beast.

    A fine puzzle to bring to an end one of the best weeks of Toughies for a while.

    1. 26d, hobbling? When i get home to the BRB it will no doubt smack me in the face but for now am cussing, just cant see it. Lots of laughs and d’oh moments along the way though, cheers to BD and Elgar.

  12. Brilliant Toughie which, as usual with Elgar, I kept returning to throughout the day; I’ve just finished it, but didn’t spot the Nina. Favourite clues include 8d, 19a, 1d and 16a. Couldn’t parse them all, so thanks to Big Dave for the explanations. For 23a I had “hire” (take on) inside “res” (what is, i.e. the thing) but Big Dave’s explanation probably makes more sense. Thanks once again Elgar !

  13. Scorcher – well it was for me.

    I recall a DT news item about drug-testing being considered for bridge tournaments generating one of “those” reader’s letters asking “Performance enhancing drugs for bridge. What are they? Where can I get some?”. Whatever the answer was I can only assume that if a sachet thereof was not supplied with the hard copy version of the paper the green ink will be flowing in Tunbridge Wells.

    My brain has now turned to putty – I shall be a mumbling wreck for the rest of the weekend.

    I too had Halcyon’s problem with 23a but I like RH’s (#13) explanation.

    Definitely the full 5 for difficulty. Many thanks S&B both.

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