Toughie 1456 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 1456

Toughie No 1456 by Elkamere

Hints and tips by Dutch

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

I tried to this when I got home from a night out and by the early hours I had only managed the right hand side. After some sleep, I had another go and worked through NW, and eventually SW was last to be completed. It then took me a while to complete the parsing of 16a, 23a, 26a and 17d. I’m not sure if it’s my head, the night out, or a 3-week holiday in Greece without crosswords, but I found this quite hard, though fun all the way. As always, Elkamere gives us original clueing, intricate wordplay, well-disguised and tight definitions and plenty of smiles.

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.


4a Show how ‘pasta’ could be clued? (4,4)
DAD’S ARMY: Split this as “pa’s TA” to reveal how the tv show in the answer might provide a crossword clue for ‘pasta’

8a Even if hard, biting hard (6)
THOUGH: 5-letter word for hard containing (biting) the abbreviation for H(ard)

9a Small dresses wear out cloth? (8)
MINISTRY: A charade of small dresses (5 letters) and wear out or test, irritate (3 letters)

10a Paid company to bottle dry white wine (8)
PROSECCO: The abbreviation for Pro(fessional) (=paid, as opposed to amateur) and the abbreviation for co(mpany) sandwiches (bottles) a three-letter wine term for dry to give this popular bubbly Italian wine

11a People delivering popular result (6)
UPSHOT: A company which delivers parcels (people delivering) plus a 3-letter word meaning popular or of high temperature

12a Dancer’s one on one – need to dance, right? (8)
REINDEER: Two-letter word for on or concerning, the roman numeral for one, anagram (to dance) of NEED plus R(ight)

13a Words of old chief end when son cuts in (8)
ARCHAISM: A 4-letter word for chief or main plus 3-letter word for end or purpose which contains (when… cuts in) the abbreviation for S(on) gives this word for a phrase that is no longer in general use

16a One state has turned into another (8)
MISSOURI: A (2,4) expression for has turned (e.g., describing old milk) inside (into) the abbreviation for the state of Michigan. Or for a more Yoda-like clue you might prefer “another” as the definition

19a This regularly appears in tenuous caption (8)
SUBTITLE: The odd letters (regularly) of this appear inside (in) a 6-letter word for tenuous gives the screen caption you might see on a foreign movie, say.

21a Dwarf is swinging across on it (6)
BONSAI: A two letter word for swinging (both ways) surrounds (across) ON from the clue and the abbreviation for sex appeal (it)

23a Fancy interrupting pilot in court (8)
TRIBUNAL: Fancy, apparently, can be an individual fancy cake (3-letters), and is inserted into (interrupts) a 5-letter word for pilot, as in a pilot scheme.

24a Alternative to rice etc if not cooked (8)
CONFETTI: Anagram (cooked) of ETC IF NOT

25a Bull, over time, wearing hide (3,3)
HOT AIR: The abbreviations for over and time inside (wearing) the outer covering of an animal (or of a human head)

26a Place that makes you keep calm (6,2)
STEADY ON: A 5-letter word for place, role or position (as in home*****) plus an old fashioned word for that. I am reading “makes you” as a link to answer, just like “gives you”


1d ‘Fizzer’ is not a word used by Queen Elizabeth (7)
SHERBET: “Not a word” or hush, followed by the initials for queen plus a contraction of Elizabeth

2d Bottle judge admits isn’t broken (9)
GUTSINESS: Bottle as in nerve or courage. A 5-letter word for judge or estimate contains (admits) an anagram (broken) of ISN’T

3d Country houses about to produce sapodilla gum (6)
CHICLE: The name of a South American country contains (houses) a one-letter abbreviation for about.

4d Americans do it to supply ‘freedom’ (15)
DEMOCRATISATION: Anagram (supply) of AMERICANS DO IT TO. The whole clue also works nicely as a definition

5d Rubbish wild cat placed under lair (8)
DENOUNCE: The wild cat that was the answer to 26a on the back-pager follows (placed under, in a down clue) a 3-letter word for lair, or study

6d A planet’s first relative point in orbit (5)
APSIS: A from the clue, first letter of p(lanet) and a 3-letter abbreviation for a female sibling. A new word for me from astronomy – the point of greatest or least distance from the central body

7d Nothing available in planet’s deserts (7)
MAROONS: Deserts is a verb here. The letter that looks like zero (nothing), a 2-letter word meaning available or working, all inside (in) the red planet

14d It turned to desert in some days of yore (9)
ANTIQUITY: This word meaning ancient times comes from a reversal (turned) of “it” besides (to) a 4-letter verb meaning desert or leave, all inside (in) a 3-letter word meaning some

15d Designer wraps single lady’s skirts in an odd way (8)
QUAINTLY: A 1960’s Welsh fashion designer and British fashion icon (first name Mary), one of the designers who took credit for the miniskirt and hot-pants, containing (wraps) I (single), followed by the extreme letters (skirts) in lady

17d About to go to press, apparently showing resolve (4,3)
IRON OUT: Resolve here is a verb. The answer is a phrasal verb, but when you take the first word as a noun, this can also be read as a household appliance ready-to-go for de-creasing one’s shirts, say.

18d Cinema bound to have surround sound? (7)
FLEAPIT: A four-letter verb meaning bound or jump within (to have surround) an adjective meaning sound or suitable

20d Bishop’s proper clever (6)
BRIGHT: The abbreviation for B(ishop) and a word meaning proper or just

22d Very fine area around island’s capital city (5)
SOFIA: Two letter word meaning very, plus the abbreviations for F(ine) and A(rea) around the abbreviation for I(sland)

The clues I liked most were 4a (pasta), 12a (dancer), 24a (alternative to rice), and 18d (surround sound). Which were your favourites?


21 comments on “Toughie 1456

  1. Not the hardest Elkamere but great fun – a Toughie 3*/5* from me. I particularly liked 4a and 12a but I could list quite a few more if I had time.

    Thanks to Elkamere for a splendid end to the Toughie week and Dutch for the explanations.

  2. Superb from start to finish. Many thanks to Elkamere for a great puzzle and to Dutch for the top review. In addition to his selections I’d also pick out 16a, 26a, 4d and 17d.

  3. Great way to end the week.
    Lots of d’oh moments.
    Really liked 18d too.
    Couldn’t parse 16a so thanks to Dutch for the review and to Elkamere for the super fun.

  4. Many thanks Dutch – I needed your help to fully parse 16&21a and your hint for 4a – kicking myself over that one.
    List of ‘ticks’ is exactly the same as yours (4a now having been included!) and 6d was a new word for me as well.
    Loved the cartoon for 12a.

    Thank you, Elkamere – extremely enjoyable.

  5. ****/*****

    Two Toughies in a row that have been superb.

    And this one took two sittings. On first go the RHS went straight in, almost, and I thought the rest would follow. Boy was I wrong. The NW corner just would not yield despite having 10a for some checkers. I had to Google 3d and 2d was a complete guess as I didn’t spot the anagram bit. Stupid of me.

    So so much to smile about. 6d, 13a, 21a and 24a in particular. Favourite is the wonderful 4d.

    Many thanks to Elkamere for a wonderful puzzle and to Dutch for a first rate blog.

  6. Wow – a real toughie that took me ages to get into. After an hour I had about 5 done. But then it began to yield, though still pretty reluctantly. I had similar parsing difficulties to you Dutch and thanks for the final details of 16a [I could see “turned” but not the “has” bit] and 26a, where the archaisms defeated me completely.

    Favourites were 4a, 11a [people delivering] 12a [dancer’s one] 1d [not a word] 14d [v neat] and 18d [surround sound and a good chuckle].

    Many thanks for the blog and respect to Elkamere for a super workout.

  7. Best week’s batch of Toughies for ages, starting with the delightful Excalibur and ending with the artful Elkamere. Take note, some of you who won’t be named but who could put solvers off crosswords forever

  8. Much ta for the review Dutch! And no major quibs, which is nice.
    Thinking of purchasing a few glasses of red plonk at the Goose this evening. No idea who’s on.

          1. Long way from Anglesey, Dutch! I’m a Wilmslow girl and worked in Macc. for about 14 years – still go back once a year to visit friends but ‘retirement’ by the sea suits me nicely these days.
            However, thank you for the invite.

                1. How crossword O/T can you get? Just want to say thanks to Dutch for a hugely enjoyable evening at the Snowgoose, a chance to hardly mention fleppin crosswords at all and focus on MUSIC! Loved it.
                  We’ve (pretty much) decided that next Thursday we’re going to be wholly irresponsible and turn up with guitar/bass (yes, Dutch does the 6-string thing) for an unrehearsed embarrassmentfest at their open mic night. Anyone here who can find their way to the Snowgoose on Sunderland Street in Macclesfield is more than welcome.
                  Who knows? If the music gets really dreadful we can talk about crosswords.

        1. Nor did I Jane. Thanks for dropping in Elkamere/Dean, fantastic puzzle. Enjoy beer o’clock, boys, which will be starting here soon. It’s been a long week.

  9. Stiff challenge, loads of fun. 1d was the last one that we got. It took ages to work out what had to be the correct answer from the definition, and then still more ages sorting out how the wordplay worked. 4a and 12a deserve special mention as laugh out loud clues but there are heaps of other excellent ones too.
    Many thanks Elkamere and Dutch.

  10. I needed the hints for three, and definitely help with the parsing of several more. I’d never heard of 10A until a few weeks ago when a British friend mentioned it. Seems it’s much more popular over there than it is here. I found the puzzle a challenge to say the least, but it was an enjoyable albeit protracted battle. Thanks to Elkamere, and to Dutch for the much needed review.

  11. A few too many hints needed (thanks Dutch) for me. I don’t subscribe directly to the “above my pay-grade” school of thought, because with application I’ve come on leaps and bounds in the last 18 months and found that satisfactory progress is a direct result of trying and trying again and not getting (too) frustrated – and of course, learning from this site.

    I don’t normally post on the toughie as I usually do them after hours, but Dean Mayer is probably one of the “coolest” setters out there and has a very unique style which I enjoy trying to unravel.

    So maybe “above my current pay-grade”, but hoping for fast-track promotion.

    Thanks to Dutch and Elkamere for a 4 or 5 star puzzle.

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