Toughie 1651

Toughie No 1651 by Elkamere

Hints and tips by Dutch

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

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

This is my last blog before I head off to Rhodes for the rest of the month – what special joy to find a puzzle by my favourite compiler, with beautifully tight and concise clueing as always. The penny drops came slowly and steadily though for some reason I found it tricky to get into NW – until I saw 1a, and then the rest followed rapidly. I did wonder if we might have a collection of song titles, but that train of thought didn’t really get me anywhere.

As always, the definitions are underlined. Please leave a comment telling us what you thought, and see you again in September.


1a    American car apparently sold? (10)
OLDSMOBILE: Split (4,6), the answer is a cryptic instruction to give ‘sold’

6a    In my current form, not quite the biggest continent (4)
ASIA: Take a (2,1,2) expression meaning ‘in my current form’, and remove the last letter (not quite)

10a    Well-known author in fashion (5)
FAMED: A 2-letter pronoun describing the author of this crossword goes inside a fashion or trend

11a    My daughter kept from biting bird (9)
CORMORANT: A 3-letter expression of surprise (my) plus a word for biting without the D(aughter)

12a    Belt, trousers, shirt etc (7)
CLOBBER: As a verb, the answer means belt or strike hard; as a noun it means clothing

13a    Loiter outside an old house (7)
HANOVER: A word for loiter goes around AN from the clue to give a royal house that ruled Great Britain from 1714 to 1901

14a    They reduce short illnesses (12)
CURTAILMENTS: A 4-letter word for short plus a word for illnesses

18a    Criminal has to launder everything (5,3,4)

21a    Inmate turned on green light (7)
CONSENT: A 3-letter inmate or prisoner plus a word meaning turned on or roused to ecstasy (originally a jazz term, apparently)

23a    One makes a gesture of great use (7)
ANAGRAM: One of these (used in 18a) will transform A GESTURE into GREAT USE

24a    A retired actor? (9)
PERFORMER: A 3-letter word meaning ‘a’ (as in ‘a head’) plus a word meaning retired, or no longer in a position

25a    Split visible in paintwork (2,3)
IN TWO: The answer is hidden (visible in) the last word in the clue

26a    With bishop gone, put up with assistant (4)
AIDE: Remove B(ishop) from a 5-letter verb meaning ‘put up with’

27a    Head aware of blocking party line (10)
PROMONTORY: A (2,2) phrase meaning ‘aware of’ goes in between (blocking) a party (I think of a US school or college dance) and an abbreviation for a railway (line)



1d    Repeatedly kill for agency (6)
OFFICE: Two 3-letter words meaning kill

2d    Old lady’s cooking fruit (6)
DAMSON: An old lady or mother, the ‘S from the clue, and a 2-letter preposition that can mean cooking (as in dinner’s **)

3d    Song 2 (3,5,3,3)
MAD ABOUT THE BOY: A song title which is also a cryptic instruction to 2d

4d    Amount of gold found in special Florida city (4,5)
BOCA RATON: A unit indicating the proportion of gold goes inside (found in) a word that as an adjective means special, as in a special companion.

5d    Tree line, a curved shape (5)
LARCH: The abbreviation for L(ine) and a curved shape or structure

7d    Best French wine good without food? (8)
STARVING: A word that can mean best or leading (e.g., of a performer), plus the French for wine and the abbreviation of G(ood)

8d    Beginning of air strikes at sea * (8)
ASTERISK: The first letter of A(ir) plus an anagram (at sea) of STRIKES

9d    Walking out of it (14)
SOMNAMBULATION: A cryptic definition of sleepwalking. Hope you didn’t make my mistake of using an -ING ending

15d    Social media site, home for men on strike (9)
INSTAGRAM: The usual 2-letter word for home, an adjective meaning ‘for men’ (e.g., when describing a party) plus a verb meaning strike

16d    With it, parrot bites soft vegetable (8)
CHICKPEA: A 4-letter word meaning with it or fashionable, plus a cheeky New Zealand parrot that contains (bites) the musical abbreviation for soft, i.e. P(iano)

17d    Strip embracing new era in marketing? (6,2)
BANNER AD: This marketing is seen across the top of a page on the internet. A 4-letter strip of material goes around (embraces) both the abbreviation for N(ew) and ERA from the clue.

19d    Cave reached when crossing river (6)
GROTTO: A (3,2) phrasal verb meaning reached goes around (when crossing) the abbreviation for R(iver)

20d    Stand for rubbish by dome (6)
EMBODY: Anagram (rubbish) of BY DOME

22d    Perhaps watch post being returned (5)
TIMER: A word exemplified by watch and clock is also a reversal of a verb meaning to send or post

I enjoyed the 2d/3d combination, very clever. But my favourite is 23a – how smooth is that? Which were your favourites?


  1. crypticsue
    Posted August 5, 2016 at 2:02 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Elkamere in fairly benevolent mode this week – 3*/4* with 3d being my top favourite and 8d taking the runner’s up position.

  2. Gazza
    Posted August 5, 2016 at 2:11 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Another Friday treat from Elkamere – thanks to him and to Dutch for the review. Lots of enjoyable clues, including 1a, 12a, 24a and 1d but favourite has to be the 2d/3d duo.

  3. Posted August 5, 2016 at 2:12 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Well that was rather good. I like one that is hard but still manageable, and the mighty Elk delivers once again.

    One part of it – the NE – yielded readily, but the rest … :phew: The quadrant I spent longest on was the SE but I’ve no idea why.

    I had to check the Florida city and only then did I have the confidence to write in 1a (a make only on the periphery of my consciousness), at which point the parsing suddenly revealed itself. If those had been the only cheats I’d needed, I would have been a happy bunny…

    … however I caved in and used electronic help to get the last one. I’m not prepared to admit which it was. Suffice to say it was a big facepalm moment which would have made a Grumpy Cat of me if I wasn’t in such a good mood.

    11a produced the biggest laugh but my favourite has to be the wonderful 3d. Lots of others vying for a podium place.

    Many thanks to Elkamere and Dutch. Superlative work both. Have a superlicious weekend all! :bye:

  4. happy days
    Posted August 5, 2016 at 2:19 pm | Permalink | Reply

    For me, an easy winner of “Toughie of the Week” prize. Streets ahead of the others. I agree with Dutch and Kitty about 3d. Very neat

  5. jean-luc cheval
    Posted August 5, 2016 at 2:24 pm | Permalink | Reply

    It’s been a gentle week on the toughie front except maybe yesterday where I failed on three clues.
    Almost put Convert in 21a until I read the clue again and again.
    The town in Florida was totally new to me.
    Thanks to Elkamere and wish Dutch a lovely holiday. Two Colossi on this tiny island. I want to see some pics.

    • Jane
      Posted August 5, 2016 at 2:29 pm | Permalink | Reply

      Hi JL,
      I also had ‘convert’ in 21a for rather a long time!

  6. Jane
    Posted August 5, 2016 at 2:26 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Yes, I fell for the wrong ending of 9d which made 27a impossible for quite a while. Even when I finally tumbled to it, I made a hash of the parsing having (as I guess Dean intended) determined ‘TORY’ as the party.
    The 2Ks will smile over 16d after their natural history lesson (and pic) from last Wednesday’s back-page blog!

    Much to enjoy but the honours have to go to that wonderful 2/3d combo.

    Many thanks to Elkamere and to Dutch, particularly for the help with parsing 27a. Have a wonderful holiday.

  7. Posted August 5, 2016 at 2:30 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Bonus vid for 3d:

    • Jane
      Posted August 5, 2016 at 2:40 pm | Permalink | Reply

      Umm – not quite what sprang to mind, Kitty! In fact, if I’m being honest, I don’t know what that clip had to do with the song title.
      Explanation for the ‘oldies’ please.

      • dutch
        Posted August 5, 2016 at 2:43 pm | Permalink | Reply

        When I hover over the vid, I get the song title – can you see that too?

      • Posted August 5, 2016 at 2:51 pm | Permalink | Reply

        Yes Jane – as Dutch says, it’s the title of the song. For an explanation of the lyrics, I shall paste from the internet:

        “Since Blur was poking fun at American pop rock, the lyrics mean absolutely nothing. All the WOOHOO’s add to the idea that most American music lacks substance and meaning. They are just proving that songs are written to make money, not from actual talent (although, the song is fantastic!), and that how it doesn’t matter what you’re saying, as long as you have a catchy rhythm, the public will eat it up. I bet they laughed themselves silly when this parody of pop made it big.”

      • Jane
        Posted August 5, 2016 at 2:59 pm | Permalink | Reply

        Thanks, both – yes, I discovered that I could bring up the title with a ‘hover’.
        What a dreadful noise – do you mean to tell me that they actually made money out of it?!!!

        • Verlaine
          Posted August 5, 2016 at 3:15 pm | Permalink | Reply

          It was an enormous hit for them, largely due to it going down hugely well in the States.

          A little ironic… as it was intended to be a parody of noisy and nonsensically-lyricked American grunge rock in the first place!

          ETA: But, oops, I see Kitty said most of that already…

  8. Rabbit Dave
    Posted August 5, 2016 at 2:33 pm | Permalink | Reply

    I followed my usual daily practice today with the Telegraph:
    – look at Matt cartoon
    – LOL
    – scan the front page for any breaking news
    – read the Sports section
    – do the back-pager
    – work my way through the main newspaper

    When I reached the puzzles page I was so taken with the obvious brevity of the cluing for the Toughie that I decided to have a go at it today even though Elkamere’s reputation is rather daunting.

    What an excellent decision that was! As Kitty says, this was hard but manageable, and it was a lot of fun. It took me three sittings to complete but there was never a dull moment as superb clue followed superb clue throughout. I needed Dutch’s help to understand the parsing of 16d. 21a was my last one in because I was trying for quite a while to make “convert” fit (with “vert” for “green” – silly me) until I finally saw the (green) light.

    23a was brilliant but was just edged out in the final analysis by 3d as my favourite.

    Many thanks to Elkamere and to Dutch.

  9. anax
    Posted August 5, 2016 at 2:40 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Super blog as ever, Dutch – thank you.
    And thanks to Kitty for the vid. I had wondered if solvers would be reminded of it, hence the numerical positioning of the 2d answer.
    Very occasionally a setter will have a favourite clue (by and large we forget them). I have one, but think it would surprise you; it’s far from obvious but a case of discovering something new for one of those ‘not again’ answers which sometimes force themselves into puzzles.

    • dutch
      Posted August 5, 2016 at 2:49 pm | Permalink | Reply

      Thanks for dropping in Elkamere, but now you’ve got us guessing… 1d?

      • jean-luc cheval
        Posted August 5, 2016 at 2:59 pm | Permalink | Reply

        I was thinking about 22d.

      • Gazza
        Posted August 5, 2016 at 3:20 pm | Permalink | Reply


        • anax
          Posted August 5, 2016 at 3:27 pm | Permalink | Reply

          Well done Gazza! I spent ages staring at the same 5 letters but split 1,4 – didn’t feel inspired and had to have been done to death previously. Eventually 2,1,2 dawned on me, which should have seen me home and dry but I got “Because I’m short” stuck in my head; couldn’t match it smoothly to a def. The clue above probably accounted for about an hour of torture.

          • Gazza
            Posted August 5, 2016 at 3:40 pm | Permalink | Reply

            Did you consider ‘In my current condition not totally continent (4)’ ?

            • anax
              Posted August 5, 2016 at 3:44 pm | Permalink | Reply

              Sounds like you should be on the other side of the fence. Come join the dark side (we have cookies).

              • crypticsue
                Posted August 5, 2016 at 4:34 pm | Permalink | Reply

                Gazza sets excellent puzzles which appear in the NTSPP slot, but not often enough for my liking!

            • jean-luc cheval
              Posted August 5, 2016 at 3:47 pm | Permalink | Reply


        • dutch
          Posted August 5, 2016 at 3:42 pm | Permalink | Reply

          Congratulations Gazza!

          I’m glad we didn’t have too many guesses as each guest implies a chestnut of sorts.

          That’s really interesting – I too had been wondering whether 6a started life without ‘the biggest’ to give you a play on continent, but was perhaps edited to make it easier

    • Posted August 5, 2016 at 2:58 pm | Permalink | Reply

      You’re more than welcome, Anax. I simply couldn’t not post the song.

      As for your favourite clue, I have had a look over them but am afraid I have no clue at all. (Situation normal there then!)

    • LetterboxRoy
      Posted August 5, 2016 at 5:26 pm | Permalink | Reply

      A superb puzzle to end the week, thank you.

  10. dutch
    Posted August 5, 2016 at 3:53 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Looking forward to meeting up with Elkamere, Starhorse and Radler at the Snow Goose tonight.

  11. Expat Chris
    Posted August 5, 2016 at 5:24 pm | Permalink | Reply

    I loved it. I’m another one who toyed with ‘convert’ for 21A but couldn’t make it work so gave it up. No problem with 4D, but no surprise there. My favorite is also the 2D/3D combo. Didn’t see 15D until I had all the checkers. Many thanks to Elkamere for a lovely finish to the Toughie week and to Dutch for the review. Enjoy your vacation!

  12. LetterboxRoy
    Posted August 5, 2016 at 5:44 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Thoroughly enjoyable, great clues throughout. Lovely penny-drop moments and wry smiles abound. Clever without being fiendish or convoluted; perfect.

    Favourites 1a (classic!) 2/3d 6a 12a 23a – too many to mention!

    That earns a ***/***** form me. First ever 5* puzzle.

    I take my hat off to you Mr Elkamere, and thank you Dutch – have a good hols.

  13. LabradorsruleOK
    Posted August 5, 2016 at 7:09 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Managed the top half after 3 or 4 visits but it was so well done it was like a good book, had to keep going back. Electronic help for 9d & put ….ating which took me to the hints for 27a.
    So pleased when I saw 3d without help
    Didn’t finish unaided & took too long but it was the most enjoyable failure I can remember!
    Thank you Elkamere & Dutch

  14. 2Kiwis
    Posted August 5, 2016 at 7:43 pm | Permalink | Reply

    We were totally blown away by the freaky coincidence that the parrot Nestor notabilis that we chose to feature in our blog and comment on Wednesday should appear in the Toughie on Friday. Enough to send shivers down one’s spine.
    Really enjoyed the puzzle as we made slow but steady progress sorting it all out. That is to say all of it except 21a where we had ‘convert’ on the premise that ‘light’ could have a meaning as convert or steal. We must have just imagined that as a search in BRB this morning found nothing to support that theory.
    Excellent fun and much appreciated.
    Thanks Elkamere and Dutch.

    • Expat Chris
      Posted August 5, 2016 at 10:36 pm | Permalink | Reply

      I’m reading about snow and record low temps in New Zealand this weekend. Stay safe and warm!

      • 2Kiwis
        Posted August 5, 2016 at 11:09 pm | Permalink | Reply

        Yes winter seems to be flexing its muscles this weekend. Just been hearing snow warnings for parts of the country, mainly the South Island. We are at sea level in the North Island so don’t expect any here. Our wood fire will probably have a bit of extra work to do though while we watch the opening ceremony of the olympics. Cheers.

    • dutch
      Posted August 5, 2016 at 11:34 pm | Permalink | Reply

      ah – I hadn’t appreciated the Notabilis connection – all makes sense

      I remember having to chase keas away from stealing the rubber tent peg loops on our tent – they are mischievous.

  15. Kath
    Posted August 5, 2016 at 8:12 pm | Permalink | Reply

    I don’t usually even look at Friday Toughies because I know that I can’t do them but just caught a glimpse from one half of a half open eye and got a few.
    Then I got a few more answers so became intrigued.
    I haven’t yet looked at hints or comments – I doubt that I’ll ever be able to finish this one but just had to pop in to say that I was absolutely bowled over by the 2d/3d down combination – might just become my favourite ever clue – amazing.
    Thanks and admiration to all concerned.

    • dutch
      Posted August 5, 2016 at 11:36 pm | Permalink | Reply

      yep – that’s why you should try the friday toughies more often

  16. Salty Dog
    Posted August 5, 2016 at 11:05 pm | Permalink | Reply

    I usually have to give best to the Friday setter, and I managed to complete this just within 3* time (albeit with inspiration rather than logic, but that’s the way I do things anyway). So either I’m getting better at it or the Elk was a little gentler than usual. I suspect the latter. It was fun, though, and I particularly enjoyed 12a. Many thanks to setter and reviewer.

  17. ulaca
    Posted August 6, 2016 at 12:32 am | Permalink | Reply

    Super stuff, though I had to cheat on curtailment. Mad about the boy – well, of course, known to me as a key line from Sunset Boulveard, darling.

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