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Toughie 1444

Toughie No 1444 by Elgar

Chasing chickens in Scotland

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

It is almost two months since we were impaled on a Friday  (Toughie 1420 on 26 June) but Elgar is back with a typical brain-stretching (or do I mean ‘mangling’) exercise in the art of solving a proper does-what-it-says-on-the-tin Toughie crossword.   It seems to have more than its fair share of compound anagrams, requiring you to remove some letters, rearrange the rest, and then have a lie down in a darkened room, but looking back on the process, I did enjoy my holiday treat.

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           See 7 Down

9a           Agreed, it’s too much to nurture a cut in starvation (2,1,4)
OF A MIND     Insert (to nurture) almost all of a period of starvation into an abbreviation used when one has taken an excessive amount of something.

10a         Monstrous faux pas is her undoing (7)
OGREISH   An abbreviated way of referring to a faux pas quite often committed by a footballer, followed by an anagram (undoing) of IS HER.


11a         Last of quarter-finalists to change ends before a meal (4,3)
HIGH TEA   If you were the last person in a quarter final, what place would you be in? Swap the positions of the first and last letters (change ends) and then follow with A (from the clue).

high tea

12a         Boozy reaction after having knocked back wine as nutrition (7)
TROPHIC   An adjective meaning relating to nutrition is a reversal (knocked back) of a type of fortified wine followed by an involuntary interjection quite often as a result of having had too much alcoholic refreshment (boozy reaction).

13a         Senior commando following strip-act? (5)
OLDIE Simply strip off the outsides of a serviceman such as a commando.

14a         Go on chewing an international sausage (9)
PEPPERONI   Insert another way of saying for each person (an) between an informal noun meaning go or life and ON (from the clue), then finish with the abbreviation for International.

16a         Skewer’s great for spearing all but the head of jerk chicken (9)
ORPINGTON     A small skewer and the two-letter abbreviation for Great ‘spear’ or go into the middle of a jerk or stupid person with its first letter (all but the head) removed.


19a         ____ is repeatedly given out by emissions? (5)
MESON   This atomic particle is obtained from a compound anagram of EMISSIONS once you have removed the two IS (IS repeatedly given out).

21a         Expanding, I do corollary of ‘Live Today’ for the listeners? (7)
DILATOR   Something that expands is a homophone (for the listeners) of the corollary of ‘live today’.

23a         City once fashionable, in a contrary sort of way (7)
CHICAGO   This American city is obtained by changing the order (contrary) of another way of saying once, and a synonym for fashionable.

24a         Perhaps a conventional state recital of love poetry he wrote? (7)
NUNHOOD   A homophone (recital) of not one (love) followed by the name of an English poet.   I particularly like the conventional state!


25a         Solver’s Last Hurrah rating: Mark’s bound to be first in race (7)
ABRAHAM The last letter of solver and another way of saying hurrah are ‘bound by’ or inserted between  the abbreviation for a seaman (rating) and the abbreviation for Mark – the final part of the clue being a reference to the lovely Mark Goodliffe who always wins the ‘race’ to be the Times Crossword Champion.

26a         See 4 Down

1d           Before landing on Germany agent active around west sounded local (7)
TWANGED   Before ‘landing’ on the IVR code for Germany, you need to make an anagram (active) of AGENT and insert (around) W for west.

2d           Stroppy son not given to politeness, crude in communication (7)
EPISTLE An anagram (crude) of POLITENESS minus (not given) an anagram (stroppy) of SON.


3d           Treatment for Royal course favourite (3,6)
RED CARPET Something laid out for a Royal visit would if changed to 6, 3 be the name of a Teesside racecourse and another word for favourite.

red carpet

4d           and 26 Across: Cut, cut 20 out from 1 Across — unfortunately returned with elevens? (5,4,3,5)
SHORT BACK AND SIDES   This haircut is obtained by firstly  removing from the solution to 1 Across an anagram (unfortunately) of the letters in the solution to 20d. Reverse (back) the remaining letters to get the first word of this solution, which should be followed by AND (with) and what elevens are in games of football or cricket.

5d           Leeds runner needing short short break stopping for breather? (7)
AIRHOLE   Insert a very abbreviated way of referring to a break such as I’m enjoying at the moment into a river (runner) that runs through Leeds.

6d           Boring! Boat Race crew’s No. 5 being chucked in water? (5-2)
HEIGH-HO An exclamation expressive of weariness – typical Elgar-induced d’oh moment for the ‘water’ element of this clue – remove the fifth letter (no 5 being chucked) from the number of people in a Boat Race crew and insert (being chucked into) into the way one might explain the chemical formula for water.

7d           and 1 Across: Park in which Scotch landholder shoots man wandering about? (4,6,3,3,9)

8d           No good if new choirmaster is outside soprano range (3,10)
The online clue was subsequently changed to No good if new choirmaster is outside range (3, 10)
THE CAIRNGORMS   An anagram (new) of CHOIRMASTER goes outside the abbreviation for No Good. If only  I’d known that the soprano had sneaked in without permission  before I started with multiple combinations of the anagram fodder all over a large piece of paper trying to work out where to put her abbreviation!

15d         Craftily win scrap, subduing Union conflict (5,4)
PUNIC WARS   This very old conflict is an anagram (craftily) of WIN SCRAP ‘subduing’ or having inserted U (union).

17d         What’s potential with Italian cooking? (7)
POLENTA   Yet another compound anagram – this time the informal way of referring to Italian vermouth is taken out of POTENTIAL, the remaining letters are an anagram (cooking) of a staple Italian food.


18d         Could it be BBC One? More than that, twerp gathers (7)
NETWORK   BBC is one provider of broadcast television. – A slang term for an idiot (twerp) ‘gathers’ or has inserted a number more than one.

19d         One crosses ____ that’s ____ in 3 to find one waiting (6,1)
MAITRE D The first missing word in the clue is a smaller version of the second word in 3d with an I inserted (one crosses) that’s ____  [the first word in 3d] and split 6,1 to find a head waiter.

maitre d

20d         Injures queen, small whip being raised (7)
SCATHES     As often happens in Crosswordland, ‘queen’ is a female feline –   Take another way of referring to her and the abbreviation for Small, and move the ‘whip’ that shares the  feline name  further up the word.

22d         Kiss I’m famous for put end to one row before the next begins (5)
RODIN   The sculptor famous for The Kiss is obtained by removing the last letter from ROW (put an end to one row) and then following with another sort of row (a noisy one).  When we saw this sculpture ‘in the flesh’ Son No2 was intrigued by the fact that  our sculptor apparently  took a lot more care with the female body than he did with the male. 

Rodin kiss

Thank you to Elgar for a properly proper tough Toughie, to BD for offering me the chance to review  it,  and to my lovely sister who gave me the time to do so  by making her (apparently famous) crab pasties for lunch.  I’m going to finish sorting out  the review, and then go and find out whether they live up to their reputation.

24 comments on “Toughie 1444

  1. Haven’t looked at your review yet, CS, but have looked at the BD rating and am feeling enormously proud of having got over a third completed!
    Mind you – that’s probably going to be as far as I’ll get. Off to do something less ambitious for a while – maybe gardening or cleaning windows.

    1. The 5th difficulty star has quite a lot to do with working out the ‘why’ of quite a few of the solutions.

      Over a third of an Elgar is very good going – hopefully your brain will have worked away at the rest of the clues while you’re otherwise occupied.

      1. You ‘know’ me too well, CS! I’m more than happy to guess, bung it in and parse it later – although since joining the BD gang I do keep at it until I’ve either got the parsing for myself or discovered it from the review.
        Fortunately for me, there were enough ‘multi-worders’ in this one to get me off to a good start and I got to the two thirds mark before turning to you for help – for which I thank you.
        By the way, hope your lunch was as good as promised!

  2. 11. I’ve got 11 inc the 1/7d combination. God this is hard. Not read the review yet but my paper is scribbled with my notes and lots of question marks.

    I think this is going to prove to be above my pay grade.

  3. Got off to a flying start by getting all the Scottish places and the haircut.
    Worked backwards to get 20d but was left with 16a and 25a which didn’t make any sense to me.
    Almost a complete Elgar. Still can’t believe it.
    See you in 3 months or a bit before I hope.
    I can now have a go at the Don now that I ‘m ahead of schedule.
    Thanks to CS for the missing pieces and to Elgar for a fabulous crossword.

  4. Even my bum’s got a headache! Solved 3 clues then just stared at it over lunch then came back to my desk to look at the tints & hips.

    Thanks CS – you’re a marvel & thanks to Elgar for a good shoeing as we used to say when I was a suedehead.

  5. The quickest I’ve ever finished an Elgar puzzle – helped [like J-LC] by getting the Scottish park right away, so providing lots of first letters. It was also relatively free of the more convoluted of Elgar’s constructions – except perhaps for 25a, which was almost Excalibur-like in its Yoda-esque logic – and 19d, which I defy anyone to solve except in retrospect [helped by the simple def and the enumeration]. But, as always, some super clues, particularly 9a, 16a [jerk chicken] 24a [conventional state] 6d [boring and water] and 20d [queen].

    Many thanks to Vlad and to CS for the courage to blog it!

  6. Wow! That was hard. It took me ages to solve even one clue (5d), and then I wrestled for a long time with the 7d/1a anagram until I finally saw the light. The resulting checking letters helped, and eventually I finished, using lots of lateral thinking. Many thanks to Elgar for the workout, and to CS for some elucidations.

  7. I’m finished and it was scary. Needed help with a few. Need a lie down and beer o’clock.

    Many thanks to Elgar and to CS for much needed blog. You are a brave woman.

    Great crossword.

  8. What a load of Trossachs!

    I once solved an Elgar crossword …. but not today.

    Thank You, Cryptic Sue, for explaining ALL the answers!

  9. Hailing from North of the border (I know it says Shropshirelad on the tin, there were a few ‘gimmes’ in today’s puzzle – however, that didn’t make it any easier to complete.

    I thought a couple of clues were quite convoluted but I understand that is Elgar’s style. It was an enjoyable solve but I needed CS’s hints to a couple of clues to confirm my parsing. So thanks to CS for the review and to Elgar for the puzzle.

    Have a good weekend everyone.

  10. I’ve never, ever solved more than a couple of Elgar clues in any one puzzle before today, but apart from needing help for 20 down I have at last managed to complete one of the “master’s” puzzles. Am feeling rather pleased. Now for the (inside) back page

  11. I am feeling pretty pleased with myself for finishing this without too much anguish and I had a suspicion the blog might give it just 4 stars. It’s all relative and I am far from fast at any crossword! My last Elgar failure was his Chrismas double. I think my instinct for Elgar’s definition in a clue has sharpened significantly over the last year and that makes a big difference to his long answers which then open up the puzzle. Bound to be humbled by Rufus on Monday – as has happened on many an occasion

    Lots to enjoy in a puzzle of this pedigree so thanks to Elgar and to CS for enlightening me on the chicken clue – kept trying to add a “j” to the outer letters to no avail but the answer was fairly clear

  12. My first two in were 9&11a – both done on the ‘guess it then parse it’ principle. That gave me two checking letters in the first word of 7d and thereby a gimme for the 7d/1a combo.
    Looking up the ‘soprano range’ gave me middle C to High A – the first two letters of Cairngorms – so another one fell to luck, although I did wonder whether Elgar had started out with that in mind.
    Won’t bore you all with further tales of the convoluted ways in which I arrived at other answers – suffice to say that I made it two thirds of the way without recourse to CS and am jolly pleased to have done so!
    Best ones for me were 21a & 3d.

    Many thanks to Elgar and to CS – whom I suspect NEVER guesses at any answers and can conjure up words like ‘meson’ at the drop of a hat!

  13. We gave up on this with only a very few answers in. Our computer frustrations which we mentioned on the other side occupied most of our attention. After reading the review, suspect that we would not have got there even with full concentration.
    Thanks for the challenge Elgar and CS.

    1. You would. I had a third in after a while, a very long while on my scale. Left it filled in a few more, left it, penny drops, was left with 3 I couldn’t get. but hey ho.

  14. Avoiding the hints. II’s the end of my work day so I’m going to to take the plunge and give this more than the cursory glance it had this morning. No doubt it will be a day or two before I’m back to report my progress.

  15. I don’t do crosswords any more. After an hour of almost entirely fruitless pondering, l have completed the grand total of two clues. There are not enough asterisks on my keyboard for me to score this puzzle. My heartfelt admiration to anyone who completed this, and my apologies to Elgar for not even having scratched the surface.

  16. Have given in and resorted to hints for my last 3. Cheers to Elgar and CSue for the excellent blog.

  17. Favourite by quite a margin 16a ,last in by a similar margin 25a .Thanks to CS for the review and Elgar for the challenge .

  18. Sunday night and I have finally given up combing Chambers for the answers to (what I thought was) 2 clues. Thank goodness for this site, otherwise I’d still have been driving myself nuts well into next week! The 2 unobtainable clues being 21a and 24a and all because I believed 17d was Passata – or Pass At A (for potential). Thank you to Elgar for a great toughie, and to CS for halting my descent into total frustration.

  19. Hi Sue. Just got round to checking this. My 94-year-old (but still extremely bright) mother and I managed to finish it but couldn’t parse 25ac. Thanks for enlightening us with that but I don’t think you’ve explained the definition correctly. Surely it means Abraham being the father (first) of the Hebrew race rather than the reference to Mark Goodliffe, who I’ve never heard of but is obviously a crossword fiend. If I’m wrong, what connection has Abraham to Mark Goodliffe? Keep up the good work! – Busker

    1. It means both – Mark Goodliffe is the person who keeps winning the Times Crossword Championship.

      1. Hi Sue

        I fail to see how Abraham can mean the same as Mark Goodliffe. I can see that they both come first in their respective races, but there is no real definition for Mark Goodliffe only the ‘mark’ (m), which really is just part of the wordplay which results in ‘Abraham’. Please tell me I’m not turning into an old pedant!!

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