Toughie 1579 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 1579

Toughie No 1579 by Elkamere

Hints and tips by Kitty

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


April Fool!  Today coming to you in the shape of your most junior blogger.  With Dutch in Dutchland I foolishly agreed to attempt a Friday Toughie blog.  I wouldn’t even have dreamt of doing such a thing if it wasn’t for the support of my fellow “hinty people” who offered to be lifelines if necessary.  I’m very happy that in this instance I didn’t need you but even more happy and grateful that you were there – thank you all.

As I have only very recently started attempting the Toughies regularlyish, I am completely uncalibrated and so the ratings are more a case of “you tell me” and may be altered accordingly.

There seemed to my mind to be a bit of a crime and punishment vibe today.  With an abduction, and a 27a entering through a 19d to make off with a 20d.  26a, that hurts!  A risky undertaking which may have been 25a.  If caught, a good defence will be needed.  It’s enough to make you 6a.  Will there be 10a to pay?

I have tried as always to be technically correct in the hints.  Please do let me know of any errors, omissions or dud explanations.

The definitions are underlined in the clues below.  The answers are hidden under the Click me baby! boxes.  The exclamation mark is not an imperative – click only if you wish to reveal the answer.

I hope you enjoyed this as much as I did.  Do leave a comment telling us how you found it and what you thought.



1a    Expert groups sign document, finally being in credit (5,5)
THINK TANKS: An informal word for sign (a contract perhaps) plus the final letter of documenT, all inside credit or recognition

6a    Whale gutted, record blubber (4)
WEEP: The outer letters (gutted) of WhalE and then a type of record.  This clue wins my nerve-calming award for the year, being first in

9a    Fluffed a recording? Edits needed (10)
CORRIGENDA: An anagram (fluffed) of A RECORDING.  These are corrections to be made, typically in a book, and a new word for me

10a    Awful place that man is going to (4)
HELL: A phrase (2,4) for “that man is going to,” contracted (but leaving out the apostrophe because it’s a crossword)

12a    Huge game bird (6)
OSPREY: Take the two letter abbreviation for huge as seen on clothes labels and add game or quarry to find a large raptor who often flies through crosswordland

13a    Partners after plaice, battered fish (8)
CAPELINS: A couple of bridge partners after an anagram (battered) of PLAICE.  Not fish I’ve knowingly encountered before

15a    Pulled off  top (12)
ACCOMPLISHED: Two definitions.  The first meaning did or achieved (I do apologise for sniggering here) and the second an adjective meaning skilled

18a    Over the moon but supported by atmosphere? (7,2,3)
WALKING ON AIR: The literal interpretation of this phrase would imply treading on the atmosphere; figuratively we’re over the moon or on cloud nine.  Hey diddle diddle

21a    Info that is primarily for opening present (8)
BRIEFING: “That is” and then the first letter (primarily) of For, all inside (opening) present, as a verb

22a    Get energy through power (6)
DERIVE: The letter used to symbolise energy inserted into (through) propel or thrust.  My last one in – I felt powerless in the face of the vowel checkers until I engaged what was left of my brain

24a    Voice of racial tolerance (4)
ALTO: It’s a lurker, the answer spanning the last two words of the clue

25a    Hairy bird eating hot dog naughtily (5-3-2)
TOUCH-AND-GO: A bird with a distinctive colourful bill contains (eating) H(ot) and is followed by an anagram (naughtily) of DOG.  Another very evocative surface

26a    In a fix, curses (4)
DARN: A very mild swear word is also what people used to do to mend socks before we entered the age of the throwaway society

ARVE Error: need id and provider

27a    Robber, easier to catch, given a month inside (4-6)
SAFE-BLOWER: Easier to catch in the sense of having less speed, containing A from the clue and a month



1d    Who’s that keeping business after time? (6)
TYCOON: A poetic word meaning that (not one I knew) contains (keeping) our usual crosswordland business, all after T(ime)

2d    Break in Ireland game, both sides to profit (6)
IRRUPT: A charade of pairs of letters: abbreviations, first for Ireland, then a game played by men with funny shaped balls, then the outer letters of (both sides to) ProfiT

3d    Rock band‘s amp is covered in bits of cloth (6,6)
KAISER CHIEFS: The amp here is the unit of electrical current which is further abbreviated.  This, together with IS from the clue, is inside (covered by) square bits of cloth.  I spent a long time convinced that the definition was rock and the second word was cliffs.  Lovely moment when I saw the light – or rather, heard the music

ARVE Error: need id and provider

4d    Before kiss, take off top (4)
APEX: A word for take off or copy comes before the letter used to signal a kiss.  As suggestive surfaces go, this is up there

5d    Abduction reversed with breaking out? (10)
KIDNAPPING: A three letter word for with reversed and inside (breaking) out, as in asleep

7d    Faculty sure needed to crack the next clue (8)
EYESIGHT: Sure or indeed inside (needed to crack) the next clue – not the words therein or the answer, but its numerical identifier

8d    Defence of royal adviser, you might say (8)
PALISADE: A fence forming an enclosure is also a homophone (you might say) of a royal helper: PALACE AIDE, (6,4)

11d    Old merchants and new mostly do exercise with this (8,4)
MEDICINE BALL: A family of powerful merchants and bankers prominent in 15th century Florence followed by all but the last letter (mostly) of the fourth word of the clue.  Finally, the do is a swanky party.  The answer is a heavy orb tossed and caught for exercise

14d    Cheese or nutty filling giving pleasure shortly (10)
GORGONZOLA: OR from the clue and a US slang word for nutty or absurd inside (filling) most of a word for giving pleasure (as in **** tidings)

16d    Put away cereal, demoting top variety of produce (3-5)
OWN-BRAND: Put away here means swallow whole.  Follow this with the hard outer layers of cereal grain and then take the first letter and move it to the end (demoting top).  My original take on this was put away meaning defeat (the first word is an informal word for this often used on the internet) then the cereal and the first letter of Demoting. I’m relieved I saw the right interpretation, but this one did amuse me

17d    Varied relics to hide (8)
CLOISTER: An anagram (varied) of RELICS TO

19d    Light breeze that hurts! (6)
WINDOW: A breeze or blow and then an exclamation of pain.  The answer is an opening which is a source of natural light

20d    Artist on film, rarely happy (6)
RENOIR: On, or about, then a genre of film which is rarely happy, but characterised by cynicism, fatalism, and moral ambiguity

23d    Top marks one’s secured (4)
ACME: A unit has inside it (secured) the former German currency.  The highest point


Top marks to Elkamere for a puzzle which was hugely enjoyable. It required thought while being solvable, which made for a very satisfying experience.  Added to this there was creativity and humour in abundance, and plenty of cheekiness which is always appreciated.  All of which made it an absolute pleasure to blog – thanks.

I’m hard pushed to single out a favourite.  15a for brevity?  Maybe 18a for appropriateness, or 25a for the very funny surface.  Perhaps the clever semi-all-in-one, 7d?  The silky 11d?  Nope – I just can’t decide.  Which clue(s) made you purr?

This being a very definite case of the commenters being the experts here, not me, please do give your opinions and comments below.


26 comments on “Toughie 1579

  1. Oh I have been looking forward to this. Didn’t bother to read any of the paper just straight to the puzzle. Goody.

    Fantastic doesn’t even begin to cover it.

    Trying to decide a favourite..oh…am over the moon in 7d or laughing at the hairy bird or the fact that 14d made me think of The Muppets? But then there is also 26a, 2d, 3d, the amazing construction of 11d, the laugh out loud moment of 19d. For simplicity 12a?

    But no.

    I have two both of them I am taking off my top. 15a and 4d. Succinct, clever and funny as. In fact I think 4d might even be beating the one about what a sailor says to a cyclist from a few weeks ago and a couple from the Indy the other day. Genius.

    Once again I think there must be only be about 150 words used in the whole puzzle.

    Dean you make me laugh.

    Ta to all.

  2. Excellent puzzle, excellent review, ’nuff said

    From the Shropshire Master of Brevity. Only 6 words – see if you can beat that Dean :)

  3. Greetings from Dutchland – a pleasant ferry crossing, then stopped off at my Dad’s before carrying on to center parcs near Gennep, the town where my daughter Sonia teaches English.

    Once I found out it was an Elkamere today, I just had to do the puzzle. It was a delight for all the reasons kitty and Hanni have already said. I am amazed at the inventiveness and conciseness of clueing, whilst presenting brilliant surfaces with great humour – as well as cool words in the grid. How does he do it? Loads to like (every clue). Brilliant. Many thanks Dean.

    Congratulations Kitty on covering the Friday toughie with an absolutely fantastic spot-on review. Well done!

  4. Nagging toothache today so grateful this wasn’t Elkamere at his most fiendish. That said, I had to come here to parse 5d – seems *almost* obvious now. Enjoyed the winking-to-the-solver 7d among many other super clues. Thanks to the setter, and to Kitty for the blog.

    For trivia fans, I’m pretty sure this is the puzzle that Dean tweeted himself being halfway through in January:

      1. I am the E L Wisty of grid recognition. When I first saw the photo, the pattern of 4 black crosses in the grid jumped out, and having not seen that pattern in subsequent Anax puzzles in various papers, it hit me when I set about this one yesterday.
        I suppose linking back to the photo is a bit boring, but I thought someone might be interested.

  5. A struggle in the SW corner with 16D and 21A holding out . I got there in the end, but never managed to solve 22A. Yet another American slang word I’ve never come across in14D. I must live in a bubble. A couple of new words, too, and a band I was only vaguely aware of. So much to like, and plenty of smiles at the visual images some clues conjured up. I’m picking 7D for my top spot. Thanks to Kitty for a great blog and to Elkamere for the workout.

  6. All I can say is well-done to anyone who finished this – I was a very long way from it.
    I bet there aren’t many of you who know that there is a pelican-fish – I wish I didn’t – not helpful with 13a although it is an anagram of all the right letters – damn!
    I liked the simpler clues, mainly because they were the ones I could do so 6 and 18a and 4 and 17d.
    With thanks to Elkamere and thanks and huge admiration to Kitty, not just for being able to finish this one but also for being brave enough to do the hints.

  7. Great as ever. Eventually whittled down the faves list to just five: 25a [lovely surface and cunning def] 27a [I love the month inside] 2d [concise & perfectly formed] 5d [how clever is that?] and 7d [a one-off].
    Re 8d is he acknowledging that some might not?
    And why was 22a so fiendish [my last in too]?

    Many thanks to Elkamere and to Kitty for an excellent blog.

    1. When I read 8d all I could think of was Ian Richardson playing Francis Urquhart in House of Cards.

  8. Now, the question is – is the picture hint for 6a changing, or have I just ‘blinked’?

    1. Haha – don’t blink!

      Just a sneaky edit after I realised I’d carelessly put up the wrong pic. I’m a perfectionist and didn’t think anyone would notice.

      Points for observation, SL.

  9. Finally got there – goodness, Elkamere is devious at times!
    Two new words at 9&13a and – like Hanni – I was definitely thinking of The Muppets in 14d.
    22a was the last one in, but then I had been trying to make ‘morose’ work for 20d which didn’t help.

    Loved so many, particularly the hairy bird, but I will apparently stand alone and give top marks to 8d – it really made me laugh.

    Many thanks to Dean and a huge round of applause to Kitty for accepting the challenge. Off now to lay in a stock of the Tesco value card………..

  10. We found this a tough but doable solve. 9a and 13a were new to us, not surprisingly given their obscurity. Favourite clues were 27a, 3d (which we thankfully got quite quickly) and 19d.

    Agree with the ratings. Thanks to Kitty and Elkamere.

  11. Loved it all. 22a was our last one in where. even with all the checkers in place there were so many potential answers. However the very last one to work out the wordplay was 5d. We were sure we had the correct answer from the checkers and definition but it needed considerable time and cogitation in the shower before the penny finally dropped.
    Many thanks Elkamere and Kitty. Kitty it was very brave of you and you succeeded magnificently. Congratulations.

  12. From today, our restaurant is open 7/7 and serving all day. Spent the day with the new recruits.
    Solved most of it last night and finished it this morning. Last ones being 11d and 22a.
    Simply adored the construction of the clues and selected 7d, 25a and 27a as favourites.
    Thanks to Elkamere and to Kitty 🐱 for the fun review.

  13. Thanks to you all for the sweet messages. They have warmed the very cockles of my heart.

  14. Lovely review Kitty – thank you!
    Everyone seems to have enjoyed it, always a relief, and a return to sanity after the midweek Loroso in the FT which looks to have been rattled by a clue mistake… worryingly, of a type I’ve never made before which points to a copy error (but my old PC is giving me grief at the mo so I can’t check).
    Anyway, The Sun’s recklessly stupid forecast of a balmy weekend has predictably been proven rubbish (wet and cold), so my planned weekend away has turned into my daughter and about 10 of her friends having a party at my gaff tonight, so I’d better start preparing…

  15. Thank you Anax. I really appreciate you dropping in.

    I must also express my gratitude for giving me such a great introduction to Toughie blogging. I think that was actually the first one of yours I’d solved – and what a way to start! It won’t be my last.

    Good luck with the party …

  16. Belatedly solved this afternoon sitting out in the warm sunshine. :-) Tough, as expected, but always fun. Especially like 21ac. Last in 26ac.

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