Toughie 1665

Toughie No 1665 by Elkamere

Hints and tips by Gazza

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

It’s a pleasant surprise to get an Elkamere puzzle on a Wednesday. This is not one of his toughest but it’s full of his trademark cunningly-disguised definitions and very enjoyable.

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

Across Clues

1a In mid-morning, jump gate (10)
ATTENDANCE – a phrase meaning in mid-morning (2,3) followed by a verb to jump.

6a Publicist cautiously holds back book (4)
ACTS – a reverse lurker.

9a I’m pure and I might be perfect (10)
UNIMPAIRED – an anagram (might be) of I’M PURE AND I.

10a Wife‘s endless cheating (4)
FRAU – cheating or swindling without its final letter.

13a CD cases will split (7)
CLEAVED – CD contains a verb to will or bequeath.

15a Gipsy with cuts (not deliberate) (6)
RANDOM – a conjunction meaning ‘with’ is inserted into (cuts) a more PC word for a gipsy.

16a One left turning, bordering on straight (6)
LINEAR – the Roman numeral for one and L(eft) get reversed and they’re followed by a preposition meaning ‘bordering on’.

17a About to fail, filling out conference form? (5,4-6)
GOING PEAR-SHAPED – cryptically this could mean expanding into the form of a type of fruit. Conference in this context is usually capitalised.

18a Fake walls right answer at first place of solitude (6)
ASHRAM – an adjective meaning fake or feigned contains an abbreviation for right. That’s preceded by an abbreviation for answer.

20a Location of Africa‘s lost currency (6)
GUINEA – double definition, the second an old currency unit of ours (still used, I believe, at racehorse sales).

21a 50 visiting one playing field (4,3)
LOVE RAT – the Roman numeral for 50 followed by a phrase (4,2) meaning visiting.

22a Independent sub’s unfinished story (4)
ITEM – the abbreviation for independent and a sub or short-term employee without the last letter.

25a What we need to take home with us? (6,4)
LIVING WAGE – cryptic definition of the pay rate necessary to support an adequate lifestyle.

26a My life’s hard (4)
GOSH – string together a word for life or energy, the ‘S and the abbreviation for hard.

27a Leave a girl single and available (10)
PERMISSION – a charade of ‘a’ (as in ’50p a kilo’), a girl’s title, a single and an adverb meaning available.

Down Clues

1d A weird plant with large leaves (4)
ARUM – A and an adjective meaning weird or odd.

2d Cotton on small piece of wood (4)
TWIG – double definition. ‘Cotton on’ is a phrasal verb.

3d Sort of bomb China used in war (6)
NAPALM – what Cockneys mean by a China goes inside the contracted name used for a 20th century war in the Far East (where this type of bomb was used extensively).

4d Drawing of polar bears? (6,9)
ANIMAL MAGNETISM – cryptic definition of a term for sexual attractiveness or sensuality.

5d Basket full of wife’s yarn (6)
CREWEL – a large fish basket contains the abbreviation for wife. I didn’t know this term for a fine worsted yarn.

7d Fit person moves in line (10)
CORRESPOND – an anagram (moves) of PERSON goes inside a line or string.

8d Good bargain all round? Apparently not (6,4)
SQUARE DEAL – this good bargain sounds as though it’s angular rather than round.

11d Dead heat not quite dignifying motorsport (4-6)
DRAG-RACING – start with a dead heat or tie without its final letter and add a present participle meaning dignifying or honouring.

12d X in naughty English shows? (10)
ENLIGHTENS – what X meant to the Romans goes inside an anagram (naughty) of ENGLISH.

13d Tory, say, rejected a Liberal set (7)
CONGEAL – string together an abbreviation for Tory, the abbreviation meaning ‘say’ reversed, A and L(iberal).

14d Diameter I call exact (4,3)
DISH OUT – the abbreviation for diameter is followed by I and a verb to call loudly. ‘Exact’ here is a verb, as in ‘to exact vengeance’.

19d Still, this isn’t doctor’s anger (6)
MOBILE – charade of one of the many abbreviations for a doctor and a word meaning anger or bitterness.

20d River runs away from farmhouses (6)
GANGES – remove the cricket abbreviation for runs from farmhouses.

23d Saw shortened dress (4)
MAXI – a saw or adage without its last letter.

24d Live with one that’s hard to live without! (4)
BEAN – a verb to live or exist followed by ‘one’. If you didn’t have one of these you’d be on the breadline.

The shortlist for my top spot included 17a, 14d, 19d and 24d but the number in the envelope (for the d’oh moment) is 21a. Which one(s) got you going?


  1. crypticsue
    Posted August 31, 2016 at 2:05 pm | Permalink | Reply

    I’m just going to repeat what I put in an email this morning “Elkamere in very friendly mode, but oh what fun!” to which the response was ‘Agreed’ :)

    2*/4* from me, thank you to Elkamere and Gazza – I have lots of clues marked for greatness, but like him my top favourite is 21a, although the runners up are very close behind.

  2. jean-luc cheval
    Posted August 31, 2016 at 2:09 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Silly me. Couldn’t get 25a as I had “mini” in 23d. Thought that a saw was a mimim.
    Lots of penny drop moments during the solve.
    A real pleasure.
    Favourite is 21a and even changed my avatar to a nice Banksy.
    Thanks to Elkamere and to Gazza.

  3. halcyon
    Posted August 31, 2016 at 2:21 pm | Permalink | Reply

    3*/4* from me too. Started well on the N and W sides but the eastern chunk was rather trickier. Should we call for a moratorium on the use of A = PER? It seems to crop up in every other puzzle these days.

    Favourites were the delightful 21a, 26a [My!] 4d [a genuinely witty and genuinely cryptic cryptic def, Polar indeed!] and 13d [say, rejected].

    Thanks to Elkamere and to Gazza – for providing the dropping pennyworth of Conference [17a] as well as providing an example of exact which fits 14d.

  4. Jane
    Posted August 31, 2016 at 2:56 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Ah well – I’m slightly disappointed that this has been labelled an ‘easy’ Elkamere – I hoped it was me improving! Anyway, I really enjoyed it and am still laughing over 17a.
    Got off to a good start by picking up on the right ‘gate’ in 1a which gave the way in – SW corner was last to fall.
    Crowded podium with 1&21a plus 4,8&11d trying to push 17a off the winner’s spot.

    Many thanks, Elkamere for the good fun and thanks also to Gazza for a really well-illustrated blog.

  5. Kath
    Posted August 31, 2016 at 3:55 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Oh – I’m with Jane on this one – I can’t normally do Elkamere at all so decided that I must be getting better – oh well, too bad.
    I didn’t quite finish it but was much closer than I’ve ever got before – beaten by 17 and 21a and 7 and 14d.
    Having got the G at the beginning and the A at the end 20a had to be Gambia, didn’t it . . . no wonder I couldn’t do 7 or 14d. Oh dear!
    Good fun anyway – unusually for me I liked most of the four letter answers and 4d.
    With thanks to Elkamere for the crossword and, yet again, to Gazza for sorting things out.

    • Jane
      Posted August 31, 2016 at 4:10 pm | Permalink | Reply

      Hi Kath,
      With 20a I had – U – N – A so bunged in Ruanda and wondered what on earth the currency was! Fortunately, 20d came to my rescue but it just goes to show how many options Elkamere presented us with.

  6. JB
    Posted August 31, 2016 at 4:30 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Just beaten by 24d. Thought it had to be but had no idea why. An easy Elkamere? Not for me! I, too had Ruanda (thinking of SA rands) until I realised I had to change the 1st letter of 20d. My favourite? 17a.

  7. ShropshireLad
    Posted August 31, 2016 at 5:23 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Yes – a thoroughly enjoyable puzzle from Mr M – albeit leaning towards the benign end of his difficulty scale. Lots of fun as ever – I would be able to tell it was one his puzzles without seeing his name or even reading the clues. How? Just by the brevity of his clues. There are always acres of scribble space under the text. I can’t pick out one favourite so I won’t even try.

    Thank you Elkamere for a wonderful afternoon of fun – and thanks, as ever, to Gazza for his excellent blog.

  8. crypticsue
    Posted August 31, 2016 at 5:54 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Kcit tomorrow

  9. Nairnsue
    Posted August 31, 2016 at 7:10 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Got much further with this unaided than I thought possible after this morning’s efforts on the back page, and thoroughly agree with the **** enjoyment rating. Plenty to entertain – e.g. 17 and 21a – and I enjoyed the cryptic definitions 4d and 25a. There was a certain suspension of belief in my solving today – pencil it in and work out why later – but I guess that’s all part of the learning curve.

  10. Posted August 31, 2016 at 7:35 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Unusually for our recent form we have finished a toughie on the day of publication. (Last Friday’s Elgar took us 4 days.). Are we just distracted or getting senile, or drunk?

    G: same again?
    J: yes please
    G: where’s the bar?
    J: do I have to draw you a map again?

    Anyway, we are pleased with ourselves and Elkamere and Gazza. Cheers!

    • Gazza
      Posted August 31, 2016 at 7:45 pm | Permalink | Reply

      Well done, J & G.

    • ShropshireLad
      Posted August 31, 2016 at 8:15 pm | Permalink | Reply

      Have I missed something – but I can’t remember when you last commented. Lovely to see you back.

    • Posted August 31, 2016 at 8:39 pm | Permalink | Reply

      In my experience, men never need a map to the bar. Sometimes they need one to the conveniences.

  11. 2Kiwis
    Posted August 31, 2016 at 7:53 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Excellent fun. With 23d we started off trying MINI. When that did not work we moved on to MIDI and it still would not work so we gave up that line of thinking and moved on to other clues. Eventually that was the only answer left so we returned, took one glance and wrote the right answer in. Our orcharding background was useful with the conference in 17a. Heaps to enjoy and much appreciated.
    Thanks Elkamere and Gazza.

  12. happy days
    Posted August 31, 2016 at 8:30 pm | Permalink | Reply

    A fit follower to yesterday’s lovely Excalibur puzzle. Greatly enjoyed

  13. Jane
    Posted August 31, 2016 at 8:31 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Followed exactly the same journey as the 2Ks with the skirt lengths!

  14. Posted August 31, 2016 at 8:37 pm | Permalink | Reply

    My brain is definitely running slow at the moment. I seem to have found this considerably tougher than most of you – but not an iota less fun. This was enjoyable before even solving – what impressive and evocative surfaces! The solve itself was still enormous fun, but I must confess to a few cheats. I rather wish I’d saved this for a better day. I can console myself that at least I didn’t have any trouble with the skirt!

    9a made me smile, as did 26a. Also 4d. Too many instances of brilliance to list, so I’ll leave it there.

    Thanks to Elkamere and to Gazza. I liked the pictures, and will now watch the video.

  15. Sheffieldsy
    Posted August 31, 2016 at 9:43 pm | Permalink | Reply

    4* difficulty here because, like we did with the back-pager, we had a wrong ‘un in for a while – 25a, ‘moving vans’ seemed more than sensible! So some debugging time is allowed for in our rating, but 3* for enjoyment.

    Favourite was 21a for the penny-drop moment. Being picky, shouldn’t 10a have a reference to German, or is this now an English word?

    Thanks, Gazza, for the review and thanks Elkamere for the puzzle.

  16. Jeroboam
    Posted August 31, 2016 at 10:35 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Hopelessly late in getting here. Had to be a late solve today. Great puzzle and for me just a tad gentler than normal for the setter, although lucking on 1a and 11d early doors certainly helped. Thanks Elkamere and Gazza.

  17. Expat Chris
    Posted August 31, 2016 at 10:45 pm | Permalink | Reply

    I did not fare as well as previous commenters, with six unsolved. I would never have worked out 21 across. Is the answer a common expression in the UK? For 25A I was looking for something relating to towing a mobile home. I won’t name the others because I should have been able to work them out. I found this distinctly challenging altogether. I did like 17A, which described perfectly how the puzzle was for me. Thanks Elkamere and Gazza.

    • Gazza
      Posted August 31, 2016 at 11:03 pm | Permalink | Reply

      Love rat is a term mainly used here in the tabloids to describe someone (often a soap star or footballer) who has been caught being unfaithful.

      • Expat Chris
        Posted August 31, 2016 at 11:22 pm | Permalink | Reply

        Thanks, Gazza. Obviously I am reading the wrong on-line newspapers!

      • Jane
        Posted August 31, 2016 at 11:23 pm | Permalink | Reply

        Well, that just goes to show how wrong one can be. I always assumed it was a US term!

  18. LetterboxRoy
    Posted August 31, 2016 at 11:05 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Can’t get my head ’round this one, giving up at three quarters done. Arnie for me, I’ll be back…

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