Toughie 1595

Toughie No 1595 by Elgar

Hints and tips by Kate R

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


Today’s Elgar will be decrypted by the mysterious Kate R.  Yes – something else for you to work out (as if the crossword wasn’t enough) …

Elgar is in his usual excellent form with a puzzle chock-a-block with clever and amusing tricks.  Extra devious cluing = 5* for difficulty and a definite 5* for enjoyment.  Do have a look at the hints, even if you didn’t do the puzzle – all amazing stuff, and all for your entertainment.  Thank you Elgar!

Definitions are underlined in the clues below, and the answers are hidden under the coming soon! boxes.

Please leave a comment telling us how you found it and what you thought. 



1a    Hymn about suffering parenticidal attack? (6,5)
STABAT MATER: This Latin hymn commemorating the sorrows of the Virgin Mary could be split (4,2,5) to suggest a knife-thrust in the direction of a female parent.  Spellcheck is highlighting “parenticidal” and you may not find in the dictionaries, but the intention is clear

9a    This, at intervals, makes guy maybe quite nervous? (7-3,4)
SQUEAKY-BUM TIME: An anagram (nervous) of M(a)K(e)S g(U)y + MAYBE QUITE.  Letters from the first two word are seen “at intervals.”  The whole clue is an extended definition of “this,” making it a beautiful semi-all-in-one (semi&lit)

11a    Catch slow-mover, taking seconds (4)
NAIL: Think of a slow moving animal with its house on its back and remove the S(econds)

12a & 13a    A day spent loading kids’ pet after it gets return fare from Cornwall (5,4)
TIDDY OGGY: Take “day” with A from the clue “spent”, and insert (loading) into what a child might call a canine pet: then place all of this behind a reversal of IT (after it gets return)

16a    Some backed having extra facility for The Listener figures (8)
TRAPEZIA: Reverse (backed) a word for some and add a group of four letters that sound like (for The Listener) a word meaning having extra facility (as in having less difficulty)

17a    The Yard’s Pen, her sister, experiencing heart flutter (3-3)
HEN RUN: Take HER from the clue and add a word for a religious sister, and give the result a “heart-flutter” (exchange the middle two letters)

19a    What 2’s parallel bars mean for peers (6)
EQUALS: You don’t need the answer for 2d to solve this – you just need to find the parallel bars in the clue and describe what they mean

20a    Hungry mum knocked up repast (5-3)
SHARP-SET: An interjection meaning mum or quiet plus an anagram (knocked up) of REPAST

22a & 23a    The eccentric covering web activity’s fine, of course (4,5)
SURE THING: An anagram (eccentric) of THE replaces (covering) the F(ine) in a word for a web activity (which involves exploring internet sites)

24a    Extra meaning of 2’s cross (4)
PLUS: Once again, no need to have solved 2d yet – just find the cross in the clue and describe it

27a    Time on average left in service? Perhaps us setters’ pain may be relieved here (7,7)
MASSAGE PARLOUR: A word for time or era, a word for average and the abbreviation for Left all go in between a word for service and a possessive pronoun that could mean “belonging to us setters perhaps” (the apostrophe in setters’ is important)

28a    Being parched with sun delayed fair number (6-5)
THIRTY-SEVEN: An adjective meaning being parched has the S(un) delayed to the end of the word, then add a word meaning fair



2d    Shaken + stirred, use dash of rum in it = cocktail (7,7)
TEQUILA SUNRISE: An anagram (shaken + stirred) of the following: USE + the first letter (dash of) of R(um) + IN IT + EQUALS (!)


3d & 14d    Buzzer’s what contestant may press to fill rapidly emptying pot (4,5)
BEER BELLY: The buzzer is an insect known for doing wonderful things with nectar.  After this comes something a contestant on a quiz show might press when they want to answer a question inside the outer letters (emptying) of R(apidl)Y

4d    Number One is Home featuring King Creole … (3,5)
TOK PISIN: The first of a stunning quartet of musical clues.  Number one or best, IS from the clue and a word meaning (at) home.  Contained within (featuring) is an abbreviation for King.  The answer is a creole language spoken throughout Papua New Guinea

5d    … the essence of Spandau Ballet and Sade’s Here Comes the Sun ? … (6)
AUBADE: The three central letters (essence) of each of the musical acts in the clue put together give a musical announcement of dawn

6d    … top US rock band adding Writer’s Award … (4)
EMMY: Remove the first initial from (top) a US rock band and add the personal pronoun the writer of the clue would use to indicate possession

7d    … playing Blur and Blue gig without half of U2 is so namby‑pamby (3,5,6)
BIG GIRL’S BLOUSE: An anagram (playing) of: BLUR + BLUE GIG without half of U2 (removing half of U2 – no, not the 2!) + IS SO

8d    Awful Hyde’s mounting sixth sense, alter-ego blocking return to normal state (11)
DEHYPNOTISE: An anagram (awful) of HYDE, then a reversed acronym for “sixth sense” into which a (3,1) version of “alter-ego” is inserted (blocking)

10d    Carrier of code north I think carries partying women with knobs on (3,4,4)
Online version: Heading north, carrier of code book carries partying women with interest (3,4,4)
AND THEN SOME: Firstly, we have the abbreviation for the carrier of the genetic code, which is reversed (north).  Then a phrase (2,2) which can mean “I think” (e.g. this looks good ** **) which contains (carries) a group of women celebrating impending knot-tying
Online version: after the reversed carrier of code, it’s a large book carrying those partying women

14d    See 3d

15d & 26d    Help prepare treasure hunt for Spooner’s terrier? (5,4)
KERRY BLUE: Start with a phrase (4,4) meaning conceal a hint (as you might do for a treasure hunt).  Swap the initial sounds à la Spooner, and adjust the spelling to uncover a breed of dog

18d    Rarefied and sensational whatnot (8)
THINGAMY: A word meaning rarefied or lean, followed by a word meaning sensational, scandalous or lurid

21d    Love to try nibbling slice of duck (that’s not very good!) (2,4)
OH DEAR: The letter that denotes love (on the tennis court) and a word for try (in a court of law) containing (nibbling) the first letter (slice) of duck.  This is a clue for one of our favourite bloggers

25d    A head teacher’s detained (4)
EACH: And as we come to the end, a lurker‘s detained inside the teacher

26d    See 15d


It’s nigh on impossible to pick a favourite.  The musical quartet came over well, and the mathematical cocktail of 2d with 19 and 24a all added up nicely.  10d also deserves a mention – shame that the online version didn’t keep the knobs on.

How was your solving experience?  Did you also find the North the hardest quadrant?  Which clues particularly impressed you?



  1. crypticsue
    Posted April 29, 2016 at 2:13 pm | Permalink

    Welcome Mysterious Kate R – or do we know you already under another nom-de-plume?

    I got on well with solving it and even the working out of the cocktail clue only took me into 4* time, but I’d definitely give it 5* for enjoyment as there was so much to smile at, even if some of the images like setters attending a 27a weren’t quite what was required!

    Thanks to both MKR and Elgar – I wish they’d left the ‘knobs’ in 10d too.

  2. Phimobil
    Posted April 29, 2016 at 2:21 pm | Permalink

    There’s so much I can’t stand about the clue construction in this crossword, I don’t know where to start

    0 stars for enjoyment

    • Posted April 29, 2016 at 3:11 pm | Permalink

      I fail to understand why so many people use their first comment to moan.

  3. dutch
    Posted April 29, 2016 at 2:26 pm | Permalink

    Absolutely brilliant puzzle, really enjoyed this. Loved every clue. It was a bit slow getting started… Last one in was 12a (the Cornwall thingie) – not sure I’ve heard it called this before. 9a was a great penny drop moment, as was the cocktail. Took a while to find the right fodder in many of the clues, all part of the deception, great fun. I got excited when i saw “CAMUS” in row 14 but I think it is a coincidence, unless I’m missing something

    Many thanks Elgar and thanks Kate R, whoever you are, for an ace review. The pic for 3d is touching a nerve, and I’ve always liked that song.

  4. Hanni
    Posted April 29, 2016 at 2:26 pm | Permalink

    Gosh. And again, gosh. Although I said a couple of other ‘words’ when I first read the clues.

    Deliciously devious. Devilishly delightful.

    And I did find this a bit devilish.

    Never heard of 4 and 5d along with 12/13a. In fact I thought the latter just couldn’t actually be right. A lot of reverse parsing went on today.

    So many smiles inc 1a, 19a (elegant) and 18d. Favourite is the amazing 27a. Loved it.

    Many thanks to Elgar for one heck of a challenge and to Kate R for the blog.

    Quite relieved it’s the weekend and I can have a drink tonight after that.

  5. The dodger
    Posted April 29, 2016 at 2:41 pm | Permalink

    Having been without an internet connection for over two weeks I was delighted to have it back in time for todays Elgar super-toughie. I was stumped by three-12/13ac,3/14dn and4dn,so many thanks MKR for those. A classic Elgar,great fun and a real challenge. Good to be back in touch with the site.

  6. Gazza
    Posted April 29, 2016 at 2:49 pm | Permalink

    Great stuff – thanks to Elgar and the mysterious Kate R (I’m sure I recognise that smooth writing style). I knew the meatless Cornish fare but I’d never heard of 4d. At one stage I had the whole of the South-East half completed with the other half of the grid empty. Lots of clues to enjoy but my favourite is 7d. My only quibble is in 12/13a where ‘A day spent’ is rather too Yoda-like.
    Incidentally, the online version of the 10d clue has “Heading north,” before what’s in the blog.

  7. Posted April 29, 2016 at 2:59 pm | Permalink

    Whew! :phew: That took ages! I won’t tell you what time I started this in order to be able to write a comment by now, but I will let you know that I am lacking sleep and have a headache.

    Buoyed up by not completely failing at the recent NTSPP, I had a really good go at this. Was thrilled to get all but ten without any more cheating than looking up a couple of things to check they exist (the dog breed, and the definition of 20a which was new to me). After that I needed my electronic gizmos, but I did get there.

    I couldn’t quite believe the inclusion of 9a (and it’s not in Chambers). New to me were: 1a, 12/13a, 4d and 5d, so it’s been an education in more ways than one.

    Like Gazza, I wasn’t entirely happy with “a day spent” – originally, I thought it should be “day spent,” i.e. day emptied, but that would leave an extra A, and Elgar just doesn’t do things like that.

    I really enjoyed it and liked the ones mentioned by Kate R. Also the nibbling of the duck – brought back memories of very enjoyable Chinese meals.

    Many thanks to Elgar and to whoever it is who needs to be thanked for the blog. Mysterious!

  8. Physicist
    Posted April 29, 2016 at 3:20 pm | Permalink

    A real Toughie, as usual from Elgar. It took me ages to get my first in (20a), then I progressed better until the last few (8d, 12/13a, 17a). I couldn’t parse 17a, so thanks to Kate R for the blog and Elgar for the brain work-out.

  9. jean-luc cheval
    Posted April 29, 2016 at 3:26 pm | Permalink

    Definitely needed some hints to finish.
    Mainly the Cornish fare which I thought were some kind of eggs (the gg being the kids pet). Had the anagram of Hyde with the S unfortunately and ESP in 8d but couldn’t find the rest to make the word. The Creole language was a no-no and so was the dog in 15/26 and the yard’s pen in 17a.
    Not forgetting 9a and 6d of course.
    The rest, if any, was parsed successfully.
    Thanks to Elgar and to Kate R for the help.

  10. halcyon
    Posted April 29, 2016 at 4:07 pm | Permalink

    Hmmm! Elgar meets Giovanni in a Port Moresby record shop and a good time is had by all. This was more of a regular crossword from the booted one; lacking any gimmicks and none the worse for that. The relative ease of the 4 clues linking up the otherwise cornery grid made it a bit quicker to solve than the usual Elgars – and the 2 easy ones derived from 2d also helped get started.
    I agree with Gazza and Kitty’s criticism of 12/13a – why bother with the A at all for heaven’s sake – what’s wrong with Day spent [ie exhausted]. But otherwise excellent stuff. Favourites 22/23a [covering….fine] 6d [simple but took a while] and perhaps 10d [paper version] except for the clunky surface.

    Thanks to Elgar and our mystery blogger.

  11. Shropshirelad
    Posted April 29, 2016 at 4:29 pm | Permalink

    Well, there you go. Started reading the clues and 1a went straight in, as I’m sure that I’ve seen it somewhere quite recently. Buoyed by that piece of luck the next one in was 11a, then 28a and then………. nothing – zilch, nada. zero for the time it took for at least one large glass of wine to be slurped. ‘Fired up’ serious thinking head and, slowly but surely, made decent progress – but it was extremely tough going but nonetheless enjoyable. There are far too many ticks beside clues to nominate a favourite – I even liked the Spoonerism – and that’s something you’ve never heard me say before.

    So, I shall just thank Elgar for a wonderful Friday treat and say thank you to our ‘Mystery reviewer’ for the blog.

    Have a great weekend everyone.

  12. Kath
    Posted April 29, 2016 at 7:00 pm | Permalink

    Just popping in to say hello and welcome to the mystery hinty person.
    I have to confess that I avoid Friday Toughies – I also have to confess that I avoid Elgar crosswords because I know that I can’t do them – you can all call me pathetic if you like but I do know when I’m beaten.
    Right that’s it for now but thanks to Elgar and to the mystery Kate R – I’ll have a look at the crossword and read the hints properly later.

    • dutch
      Posted April 29, 2016 at 7:36 pm | Permalink

      i believe you’re honoured in one of the hints – and i think I’ll call you Kath

  13. 2Kiwis
    Posted April 29, 2016 at 7:54 pm | Permalink

    After a lot of hard work, a lot of time and a modicum of electronic and BRB assistance we eventually got it all sorted. We lived for a while in Bougainville which is part of PNG so 4d was like meeting an old friend, despite still struggling to work it out. Certainly challenging, certainly satisfying.
    Thanks Elgar and Kate R.
    Feel sure that Kate R is someone we know by another name but have not yet been able to work out who. Perhaps we will have a confession soon.

    • 2Kiwis
      Posted April 29, 2016 at 8:53 pm | Permalink

      A bit more thought on who the hinter might be and our best guess it that a search of the Calder Valley could produce a likely candidate. But why this pen-name? More cogitation needed.

      • Posted April 29, 2016 at 9:05 pm | Permalink

        A former resident of the Calder Valley now lives in Warrington!

        • Shropshirelad
          Posted April 30, 2016 at 12:03 am | Permalink

          Surely a referee assessor, quiz setter, Mastermind contestant and all round ‘bon oeuf’? Don’t get the reference to Kate R though.

          • Posted April 30, 2016 at 12:07 am | Permalink

            Nice try, but not correct.

            • Hanni
              Posted April 30, 2016 at 12:19 am | Permalink

              I’m lost too SL…easily done for me.

              BD, is a setter?

            • Shropshirelad
              Posted April 30, 2016 at 12:24 am | Permalink

              Now, I’m really confused. Although I did think the Calder Valley reference was a tad too easy. Can’t imagine Tilsit as a ‘lady’. No offence meant young man :)

            • Hanni
              Posted April 30, 2016 at 12:43 am | Permalink

              Until Jean-Luc posted I thought it was him…homophone of ‘cater’.

              I know the ‘R’ is tenuous!

  14. Wolfson Bear
    Posted April 29, 2016 at 8:29 pm | Permalink

    Definitely a hard one and, with 9 words I did not previously know, it required use of an electronic dictionary to finish. The sheer complexity and deviousness of his clues mitigates the use of obscurities somewhat

    Many thanks to Elgar and the mysterious blogger

  15. Salty Dog
    Posted April 29, 2016 at 9:08 pm | Permalink

    It does me good to come against this standard of puzzle occasionally – it reminds me that a shallow facility at coping with most DT crosswords is nothing to feel smug about. This is way beyond my pay grade. I only got four before resorting to the hints. Thanks to setter and reviewer; respect to anyone who completed.

  16. Expat Chris
    Posted April 29, 2016 at 9:52 pm | Permalink

    Not looking at the hints yet. I’m a tad less than halfway through (bottom half and a couple of the long verticals). I may not get any further but I’m going to give it my best shot!

  17. Sheffieldsy
    Posted April 29, 2016 at 10:58 pm | Permalink

    We reckon to finish the majority of toughies, but this was beyond us. Too many clues were words/phrases we’d not previously encountered and the constructions were so devious as to be nearly unfathomable. All in all, we were left a little flat. 7*/2*.

    Thanks to our mystery columnist. To Elgar, well, respect for being so clever?

  18. JollySwagman
    Posted April 30, 2016 at 12:20 am | Permalink

    Absolute corker. Fully agree with the star rating.

    Real slow burner for me – until 17a refused to ignite parsing-wise – athough my biffed (or bifded – are we allowed to say that here?) answer turned out to be correct.

    The only shame is that we had to wait so long.

    Many thanks to Elgar – and the mysterious Kate.

    Would treating the moniker (Kate R) as a highly cryptic component of an extraordinarily devious crossword clue lead us to the blogger’s true identity maybe?

  19. Expat Chris
    Posted April 30, 2016 at 12:03 pm | Permalink

    Well, I failed to finish, but I had fun trying! I couldn’t solve 1A, 9A, 12/13A, 20A or 4D. The only one of those I’d ever heard of was 9A, but it’s not a part of my usual vocabulary. I couldn’t solve 17A either. Lots of smiles, though, so no grumbles from me. I actually got a lot further than I thought I would. Thanks Elgar and the mysterious Kate.

  20. Lohengrin
    Posted April 30, 2016 at 4:29 pm | Permalink

    Wow this was difficult, my dad and I didn’t finish without using 10 letter hints between us. Some great stuff here, my favourite being SBT.

  21. Heno
    Posted May 2, 2016 at 1:17 pm | Permalink

    Thanks to Elgar and to Kate R for the review and hints. A read and write for me, but only in the sense of reading the answers and writing them on the grid in a vain attempt to get some helpful checkers :-) Only managed to solve 6 clues, all the rest were totally beyond me. Had never heard of, had never even seen them written down, 1,12,13,20a&4,5,15,26d. All very clever constructions, but totally beyond my comprehension. Definitely a puzzle for the experts.