Double Toughie 100007

Double Toughie No 100007

Enigma Variations by Elgar

Friends Dropping Round for Christmas

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

Season’s Greetings from a wet Warrington! Merry Christmas to you all and here’s Elgar’s annual seasonal offering which is probably one of his more accessible puzzles. It’s a lovely puzzle and don’t be put off by the preamble. It’s designed to help you.

We’re not going to spoil things too much but if you are really stuck, there’s a spoiler at the very end. Highlight it to reveal a really big hint! Clues with definitions will have it underlined, so anything without underlining is a themed clue, and is shown in green!

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.


12a    Redeal my cards and his at the present time (9,3)
CHRISTMAS DAY :    We start with an anagram (redeal) of MY CARDS and HIS AT to give a topical date,

14a    Gangly agent describes bumpy ride (7)
SPIDERY:    A word for an agent goes round (describes) an anagram (bumpy) of RIDE. This gives a word meaning gangly or very thin.

15a    Training in Paris, Elgar comes across Prometheus (9)
PETITJEAN:    An abbreviation for (school) training and what Prometheus was in Greek mythology goes round the first person in French to give our first themed answer.

17a/39a    In great difficulty, I refuse to be beaten by pupil in French exam (6-4)
ELEVEN PLUS:    A word meaning in great difficulty or describing someone stone-faced needs to lose (to be beaten) a small word meaning I refuse ll preceded by the Frech word for a pupil

18a    Part of beastly female apt to shake a lot in extremes of joy? (5)
UDDER:    A word meaning apt to shake is found by putting a word J and Y round something that means a part of a cow.

19a    What pollsters seek that is locked in German cars (5)
VIEW:    The Latin abbreviation for ‘that is to say’ goes inside a shortened name for some German cars to give you what pollsters ask you for.

20a    Place in Dorset Division 5 at group stage? (5)
POOLE:    The question mark indicates something a bit out of the ordinary. In a sporting tournament Group or Division 5 may be called this. If Group 1 was Pool A, then Group 5 would be…

21a    South Pacific part’s a success, it turns out (6)
TAHITI:    Inside the reverse of IT goes A + something that means a success to give a country in the South Pacific.

22a    Recently delivered ‘light’ element in place of aluminium (8)
NEONATAL:    A word that means just after giving birth is found by taking the name of an element that could be a type of light, adding something that means in a place and the chemical symbol for aluminium .

24a    Activity of green stick closely follows topless action (9)
RECYCLING:    Something that a person with ecologically sound tendencies does is made up by a word meaning to stick closely to someone after the name of a famous French battle minus its first letter.

25a    Something with which to stimulate  Fred’s partner (6)
GINGER:    One half of a Toughie blogging partner (or Fred’s dancing partner) means the same as to stimulate someone or something.

26a    Island in possession of the Dutch down to the French looking the other way? (4)
SABA:    The name of a Dutch-owned island is the French expression down reversed.

29a    Start to play with new protein (5)
ACTIN:    A type of protein is revealed by taking a shortened version of the first part of play and adding N for new.

30a    Extremely cruel type in uniform sent for correction (9)
UNKINDEST:    Proverbially, the type of cut that is the worst. Something that means a type or sort goes inside U (uniform) and an anagram of SENT.

33a    A footballing legend’s time rejected by your nonsensical communication (9)
TELEPATHY:    A plus the name of a famous (Brazilian) footballer and T (for time) is reversed and an old word for your is added to reveal a way of communicating psychically.

34a    Sci-fi author rejecting Mercury sources (5)
WELLS:    The name of a famous sci-fi author who wrote The War of the Worlds needs to lose his first two initials, which is the chemical symbol for mercury, to give you a word meaning sources or springs.

39a    See 17 Across

41a    Married in Cape Town, perhaps, cuts cake (6)
BUSMAN:    M (married) goes inside the abbreviation for the country where Cape Town is, and all goes inside a type of cake to get a theme word.

42a    Lopped branches show blooms in bud or flourishing (9)
BRUSHWOOD:    The name for a type of tree growth is an anagram (blooms) of SHOW inside an anagram (flourishing) of BUD OR.

44a    There are no more harsh than this bird film during opening scenes (8)
STARKEST:    The name of a film about a famous bird goes inside something that means the opening of something.:

47a    Lifeboat will capsize if so shaped? (6)
OBLATE :    This is a compound anagram clue that only appears in the more challenging puzzles. Basically, if you add a word meaning shaped to IF, you get the word LIFEBOAT. The whole clue provides a sort of cryptic definition.

48a    Date? Go out with filly, finally a new girl on the scene! (5)
DEBBY:    After D (date) goes a word meaning to flow out as in water and add the final letter of FILLY to get a girl’s name (maybe one making her first appearance in society)

49a    Something that soothes following bedroom disturbance (5)
BROIL:    A word for a disturbance (or to grill) is found by taking BR (BedRoom) and adding a liquid that soothes and calms.

50a    Goddess of The Night — fine philosopher’s retrospective (5)
FREYA:    The Norse goddess of the night can be found by taking F and adding the surname of a philosopher (who was known by his initials AJ) backwards.

51a    A mob restless with a king visiting African capital (6)
BAMAKO:    A and K (king) inside an anagram of A MOB gives the name of an African capital.

53a    Invokes bad memories of old artist — then revokes, distressed (5,4)
RAKES OVER:    A phrase meaning to invoke is found by taking the abbreviation for an artist and adding an anagram (distressed) of REVOKES.

54a    Make-up of bone is involved with reshaping of nooses (7)
OSSEINS:    A component of bone is an anagram of IS and NOOSES.

55a    Track service length introduced by new crematorium (8,4)
COMMUTER RAIL:    An anagram of CREMATORIUM and L (length) gives the name for a type of train company.


1d    Difficult for you to discover our long-suffering leader! (4)
PHIL:    A themed answer. A word meaning the course you take when things are tough, needs to lose its first and last letters to get the boss of all the other themed answers.

2d    American serving poached eggs in pub (8)
GIOVANNI:    An abbreviation for a American serviceman takes inside a word for a pub and inside that something meaning eggs to give a themed answer.

3d    Stretch of coast and townships alert for attack (5-2)
STAND-TO:    Hidden in coast and townships is a word for an attack alert.

4d    Union occupying identical line (6)
SAMUEL:    A themed answer. Inside a word meaning the same goes U (union) and add L for line.

5d    When solving, identify print chums I “drew” (4d    words)
MY FRIENDS [PICTURED WITHIN]:    :    An anagram of IDENTIFY PRINT CHUMS I DREW gives you the dedication of the title of the puzzle and of this puzzle’s theme. However, it won’t all fit in and you may need dome more down spaces nearby to accommodate it. The clue as a whole gives a guide to the theme.

6d    Lively young woman giving heart to official in match (7)
FIREFLY:    Another themed answer. A word for a young woman needs to swap its middle letter for a short word for an official in sport.

7d    American nicking new spell from Nemesis (8)
MESSINAE:    Another themed answer. Take NEMESIS with A (American) and rejiggle it.

8d    Peter’s middle sister’s nursing her tail (5)
MYOPS:    The middle of Peter Rabbit’s sisters needs to move the last letter of her name inside to give another themed answer.

9d    Bananas that Glen fully extended (2,6)
AT LENGTH:    A word that means fully extended is an anagram (bananas) of THAT GLEN.

10d    Having no doubt pretentious stuff will dilate standing (7)
STATURE:    Inside a word meaning having no doubt goes a word meaning pretentious stuff

11d    Sort of case that’s soft with hot filling (6)
CEPHAS:    Another themed. An anagram of CASE with P (soft) and H inside.

13d    I do — and I am one on — one mile marches! (4)
DADA:    Take I DO AND I AM and drop (marches) I (one) ON I (one) and M(ile) to get another themed answer.

14d    Playing lead in Othello perhaps encapsulates theatre (5)
SAVOY:    The name of a London theatre best known for G&S is found by taking a word meaning perhaps, or for example and inserting V (playing, versus) and O (first letter of Othello).

15d    The two characters used in simple game that are written in first (8)
PROXIMAL:    Another themed answer. Inside a word meaning first go the two symbols in the game of noughts and crosses.

16d    “Drink up!” (No one is) (9)
NOTABILIS:    A word for a drink in Ancient Rome needs to lose I (one) and reversed. Add IS to get a themed answer.

23d    First wife’s suitability comes across in audition (9)
EXCALIBUR:    The word for a former partner takes a homophone for a word for suitability to give another themed answer.

27d    I cry like a crow from 16/11 onward? (8)
MICAWBER:    Another themed answer found by taking I and the noise of a crow and putting it inside what is cryptically defined as after the 16th of the 11th month, i.e. the second half of that month.

28d    I broadcast likely conditions — as Torvill & Dean did socially? (3,6)
MET OFFICE:    How the skaters gathered away from where they worked (3,3,3) is a way of saying the name of the place to get a weather forecast.

31d    Not quite the last of the dwarfs? Frost perhaps arrested sharp decline (4,4)
NOSE DIVE:    The rank of the policeman called Frost goes inside the cryptic way of describing the last of the dwarfs, minus its last letter.

32d    Is admitted to mobile hospital, wound causing visual problem (8)
STRABISM:    A rather obscure word for a problem with eyesight is found by taking M (mobile) and the short name of a London hospital, reversing it (wound) and inserting IS.

35d    Energy Leone primarily put into revolutionary new version of old film (8)
ELKAMERE:    A themed answer. E (energy) goes inside the name for a reworking of a film with L (first letter of Leone) inside, all reversed.

36d    Heading for Bethlehem, royals principally following a (wrong?) direction side by side (7)
ABREAST:    A word meaning side-by-side is found by taking B and R (first letter of Bethlehem and royals) and putting it inside A and the opposite direction whence they travelled in the Bible.

37d    Help is required to engage Master following First from Oxford (7)
OSMOSIS:    A themed answer. After O (first letter of Oxford) goes a distress signal with M inside and IS,

38d    Upset Rod and Aleem, initially split on pad-first dismissal (7)
WARBLER:    Another themed answer, a short word meaning on or about, plus a way of getting out in cricket with R and A (first letters of Rod and Aleem). Reverse it all.

40d    Odds on Marrakesh losing them? (6)
SPARKS:    The abbreviation for odds in betting takes the even letters of MARRAKESH to give a themed answer.

43d    Selection offered by pub in support of West Country (5)
WALES:    After W (west) goes what a pub sells to give the name of a country.

44d    Order librarian’s given to make people laugh endlessly (6)
SHAMUS:    What a librarian often says to maintain normality at work takes to make people laugh minus its last letter for another themed answer.

45d    “S-one me!”? (5)
MYNOT:    A themed answer. If the expression was complete it would mean this plus what it is at the moment!

46d    Initially bearing West, heading North (4)
BEAM:    B (first letter of bearing) plus the reverse of an actress named West gives another themed answer.

52d    “Gold ____”: The Minstermen’s midfield over the years (4)
KCIT:    We finish with another themed answer. The football team known as the Minstermen, needs to have removed two Y’s (years) and Or (gold) and you’re left with the final themed answer.

A splendid puzzle from Elgar and I am sure you’ll enjoy persevering with it.

Here’s the solution:

The dedication for the musical work known as the Enigma Variations by the other Elgar is subtitled “To All My Friends Pictured Within”. Here we have all Elgar’s fellow Toughie setters as the answers without definitions and Phil, the Editor.  5 down is entered with the first two words, with the last two concealed in the unchecked answers in two rows to the right.

Thanks to Elgar for his annual festive workout!


  1. crypticsue
    Posted December 27, 2015 at 7:10 pm | Permalink

    Not quite as tough as some previous Christmas Double Toughies but extremely enjoyable. I spotted the Nina and I knew the ‘reference’ so am quite chuffed at doing so.

    Too many favourites to list so I’ll just end by thanking our setter and blogger.

  2. KiwiColin
    Posted December 27, 2015 at 7:48 pm | Permalink

    Well i ended up with a completed grid but there are a number that I did not completely parse, 52d for example, and did wonder why my correct answer for 5d was only two words. Once I had worked out the theme I made a list of all the possibilities and got many of them in from word length and checking letters. A real challenge that kept me out of mischief for a very long time.
    Thanks Elgar and Tilsit.

  3. Sara
    Posted December 27, 2015 at 9:05 pm | Permalink

    Please, where do I find the Double Toughie?

    • Posted December 27, 2015 at 9:50 pm | Permalink

      Welcome to the blog Sara

      It’s only available to those who have an online subscription – if you do there is a message in your inbox which contains the details.

      Christmas Day 2015 Double Toughie
      Because this puzzle is in a different format to a normal Toughie, it can’t be accessed via the Toughie menu. To access the Double Toughie, go to the Giant General Knowledge menu. It is listed as Giant General Knowledge No. 100,007. The solution will be published on Sun Dec 27 as Giant General Knowledge number 1,100,007.”

      • Sara
        Posted December 27, 2015 at 10:11 pm | Permalink

        Dave, thank you so much. We have a puzzle subscription! I will go and find it.

  4. Wolfson Bear
    Posted December 27, 2015 at 10:13 pm | Permalink

    I am very pleased to have finished it this year – very close last year. The four star difficulty rating is a bit silly – it was far more of an ordeal than a typical 4-star toughie. For me lots of answers were not fully understood and it took me almost as long to crack the theme as a typically three star toughie. Not too sure about 5d even now

    Thanks to Elgar for a (brain) cracking puzzle and I hope the difficulty level is similar next Christmas

  5. jean-luc cheval
    Posted December 27, 2015 at 10:49 pm | Permalink

    I really think I got lucky on this one as I started with the SE corner and 52d ( York City) gave me the hint I needed.
    Then came 6d as the word I was looking for was right there in 48a.
    But it didn’t really help me as I couldn’t remember all of them.
    Managed to find most of the themed answers from the parsing and I just loved 15a and d.
    It was very nice to see that the latest newcomer was present.
    Bung in wasn’t an option as 3d/45d and 41a/11d could have been either at some point.
    In fact my last one was 11d as I was stuck on Elba for the island in 26a.
    Had to check a couple (or more) and when doing so for 17/29a, I came across a telegraph page offering to have a go at the test and made so many mistakes, I’ll never pass.
    Favourite of all is 2d.
    Only saw the Nina after CS mentioned it.
    Thanks to Elgar for the masterpiece and to Tilsit for the review.

    • jean-luc cheval
      Posted December 28, 2015 at 4:14 pm | Permalink

      Just realised that I didn’t finish 5d.
      First thought it might be My pals and I but it didn’t really fit. I then got the friends bit but totally forgot to look for the rest. Blast.
      It’s not this year again that I will complete an Elgar without help.

  6. Expat Chris
    Posted December 27, 2015 at 11:31 pm | Permalink

    I spent 10 minutes on this, which was all the time I had to spare. I totally forgot about the NTSPP until today. When Christmas Day falls on a Friday and Boxing Day on a Saturday, and Sunday is a continuation of the festivities, this cook and general factotum has far too much to do that’s more pressing than crosswords. Maybe in a week or so…

    Anyway, Happy New Year to all you stalwarts!

  7. Hieroglyph
    Posted December 28, 2015 at 12:49 am | Permalink

    A terrific puzzle, really enjoyed it. Thanks to Elgar and to Tilsit for the review :-)

  8. Tilsit
    Posted December 28, 2015 at 4:55 pm | Permalink

    Just to qualify 45 down.

    If you looked at the clue as it is, you would say “My! No T” and “Stone Me!” is a way of saying “My!”. I think My is doing a double duty.

    • dutch
      Posted December 29, 2015 at 1:17 pm | Permalink

      or is it a reverse clue, indicated by QM? the answer would clue the clue as is, would it not? (no def of course)

  9. dutch
    Posted December 29, 2015 at 1:38 pm | Permalink

    Knowing I would never have time for this with guests and activities, but not wanting to miss out on a single clue, I went through the puzzle together with the hints (and even managed a few without as I went along) – this already took me several days, a bit at a time. I am massively impressed with the effort involved, also for the review. So thank you very much Tilsit, essentially you have enabled me to enjoy this puzzle. And thank you Elgar for a brilliant piece of work. I’m stunned at how many vertical clues are themed, and the endgame is appropriate and clever (and probably explains the choice(?) of strabism).

    Great stuff, thank you.