Toughie 1663 by Elgar
Hints and tips by Kitty
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BD Rating – Difficulty ****/***** – Enjoyment ****/*****
Welcome everyone to Toughieland, today brought to you by Elgar. For me, this puzzle elicited smiles throughout and was well worth the effort. I found it not impenetrable and was able to get started fairly readily – and if finishing it was considerably harder work, this was at least partly down to silliness on my part.
This is not Elgar at his most fiendish, which is why I haven’t given the maximum difficulty rating. Even though to be honest I’d put this firmly in the 5* category, I thought that this was on a par with previous puzzles of his which have been rated 4*. So, ever the fence-sitter, I have compromised. I can say exactly the same thing about enjoyment – it’s 5* really, but the bar has simply been set too high. As always there’s plenty of cleverness to amuse and delight. After the last amazing nina, this one is more or less a WYSIWYG, but I’m not complaining! There is a special significance to 27a, however – see the bottom of the post.
The definitions are underlined in the clues below, and you’ll find the answers inside the boxes. The exclamation mark is not an imperative – click only if you wish to reveal all.
Do leave a comment telling us how you found it and what you thought.
6a Lord’s address – he’s about to lead Orchestra: English National (7,6)
HORATIO NELSON: Start with an oral address; around this is HE from the clue (he’s about). Next we need an English orchestra (but not a national one). Finally, add N(ational) to give us a this Lord: a British admiral. Tired yet? We’ve only just started!
8a & 9a Result of which check-up, nursing bruises? (6-8)
SUCKER-PUNCHING: This is a little more straightforward: an anagram (bruises) of CHECK-UP NURSING
10a The Artificial Tongue of Eugene Onegin (3)
NEO: Included in (of) the last two words of the clue is an artificial language launched in 1961 by Arturo Alfandari
11a Ale supplier goes into business with Cheese and Meat Sanctuary (6)
DELPHI: The two letter abbreviation for somewhere which serves ale goes inside a place which serves cheese and meat to give us an ancient sanctuary which was the seat of a famous oracle
12a Productivity of the Red Queen’s kitchen compound? (8)
TARTRATE: Split (4,4) this could be a description of the speed at which Lewis Carroll’s Queen of Hearts produces pastry dishes
14a & 16a Somebody rich needing GP for massaging work? (7,2,5)
GOODBYE MR CHIPS: Another anagram. The letters which are for massaging are found in SOMEBODY RICH; also needed are GP. The work is a novella and its many adaptations
20a My slimming having taken effect, your compiler had Listener’s cake (1,7)
I DECLARE: How the setter would say he had, contracted (slimming having taken effect), followed by something which sounds like (Listener’s) the cake which Chambers describes as “long in shape but short in duration.” I don’t know about you, but after those last three clues I’m getting rather peckish!
23a Purchasing points all but replete with stuff miles away (6)
FULCRA: Two nearly finished words put together: Three of the four letters of (all but) a word meaning replete and then stuff or pack (as a verb) without m(iles). These purchasing points are what levers rest upon. For a quote not by Archimedes “Give me a lever and a place to stand and I will break my lever”
24a Good though graphic format (3)
GIF: The abbreviation for good and though or while. Spoiled for choice for picture opportunities with this. Sadly the one referenced here seems to have been expunged from the internet
25a & 26a Vorderman, occupying Zone A, is hot stuff! (8,6)
CAROLINA REAPER: Before Rachel there was Ms Vorderman. Follow her with synonyms for occupying, area, and finally the “a” which is first in the line-up of Big Dave’s Usual Suspects
27a Bilbo’s Magnificent Birthday Run that invokes the Lord above? (8-5)
ELEVENTY-FIRST: This is the birthday that Bilbo Baggins celebrates at the start of Tolkien’s The Fellowship of the Ring. For the second part of the clue, we need to turn to the Lord above … above in the grid, that is. That lord gives his name to a supposedly unlucky score in cricket. So the answer is also the run in that game which would bring one to a ******. I am bowled over (or bowled out) by this clue
Even if you are not a cricket fan, the Wikipedia article about the unlucky score is interesting. It includes a quote from 14a/16a: ‘in the 1939 film … a schoolboy refers to Nelson in these terms: “One arm, one eye, one destiny.” ’
1d Slower on airways to holiday home (5,3)
BRAKE PAD: Heard (on the airways), the first word of the solution could be to take a short holiday. Adding an informal term for home forms this slower of moving vehicles
2d Diner eating egg doesn’t take a long time (8)
ETERNITY: An extremely long time. It’s a diner or restaurant containing (eating) an egg of the type you wouldn’t want to find in your hair but which doesn’t contain (doesn’t take) A (from the clue)
3d Fruit dessert – Brown Betty slices appear (7)
COMPOTE: A stewed fruit dessert. “Brown Betty” is inserted into (slices) a word for appear or arrive. The surface reading relies on Brown Betty being (in the US) a baked fruit pudding, but the British meaning (absent from my copy of Chambers) is needed in the wordplay
4d Note commonly picked up from Pavarotti (6)
TENNER: A name for a banknote commonly sounds like (picked up from) what Pavarotti was, professionally speaking
5d Master of the illusory lands cape in Surrey town (6)
ESCHER: No, that’s not meant to read “landscape.” To find this artist one deposits (lands) c(ape) into a Surrey town. I have some tales to tell set in this part of the world, but this is a family blog and so I will not elaborate further
6d Universal handle, so fixed in minds (6,4)
HOUSEHOLD NAME: An anagram (fixed) of U(niversal) HANDLE SO, contained within a word for in (in minds). Very clever!
7d Every Tom, Dick and Har? (6,3,4)
NINETY PER CENT: Count the letters in the clue, and compare to the number of letters in the full phrase
13d A twitch, every now and again (3)
TIC: “Every now and again” indicates that alternate letters are needed. The whole clue is the definition. Neat!
15d Merging live US track raised sound level (3)
BEL: A word meaning live and a US raised railroad are here sharing their common letter (merging). The sound level is ten times that of a more familiar measure of loudness
17d Flirty friar collects fine, following female faex populi (4‑4)
RIFF-RAFF: An anagram (flirty) of FRIAR contains (collects) F(ine), then we have F(emale) f(ollowing). A fabulously fun-filled festival of f’s – a fine effort!
18d Rachel lost one following me cutting across some land (4‑4)
HALF-ACRE: Starting with an anagram (lost) of RACHEL, “one following me” – think musically! – is then inserted (cutting across)
19d Take power up, but not with sailing event (7)
REGATTA: Follow the abbreviation for the Latin recipe/take with the reversal (up) of a measure of power without the w(ith)
21d Secret court cases are unsuccessful (6)
CLOSET: The abbreviation for court contains (cases) “are unsuccessful.” Fine, unless early on in the solve you carelessly bung “over” into the middle bit, causing immense problems with 25/26a and 27a until you realise your booboo
22d Toasted sarnie popped up (6)
ARISEN: A simple clue to finish, but what a tasty (buttered, perhaps) crispy surface! An anagram (toasted) of SARNIE. Why not have one now? You’ve earned it!
Choosing a favourite clue is once again a hard job. There are plenty of tasty morsels here, including those in 12a, 20a and 22d, and I also enjoyed 13d and 17d. Cricket is, let’s just say, not my thing and I have also managed to avoid reading or watching any Tolkien, so naturally I hated 27a. But I also loved it! It is with very mixed feelings that I simply have to nominate it my clue of the day. Which was yours?
Thanks to Elgar for the puzzle, which I’m told is his 27a Toughie. Congratulations to the Maestro on this Magnificent Milestone!