Toughie 1683 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 1683

Toughie No 1683 by Elkamere

Hints and tips by Dutch

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BD Rating – Difficulty **Enjoyment ****

At the end of a week of moderate toughies, we find that Elkamere  too is kind to us – this took me just 2* time. This is a great opportunity for those who might otherwise shy away from Elkamere puzzles to have a go, and experience a standard of clueing that is always most enjoyable, regardless of difficulty.

Finding the definitions is half the battle – they are underlined in the clues below. The hints aim to steer you in the right direction, and if you don’t quite get there you can reveal the answer by clicking on the NOT YET! buttons. Please leave a comment telling us what you thought.


1a    Boss put right on mistake (6)
GAFFER: Put the abbreviation for R(ight) on another word for mistake

5a    Extremely cool and dry where ants are found (8)
SERENEST: Cool as in cool, calm and collected. A poetic word for dry that I had to check in the brb, plus a 4 letter home for ants (no, not hill)

9a    Fruit began going off in truck (10)
LOGANBERRY: An anagram (going off) of BEGAN goes inside another word for truck

10a    Coming second in Olympic contest (4)
DUEL: A word for coming or owed plus the second letter of (o)L(ympic)

11a    A bird very much after love? On the contrary (8)
FLAMINGO: ‘On the contrary’ suggests that instead of very much after love, we have love after very much. An adjective meaning very much is followed by O (score of love in tennis)

12a    Foretold ‘geezers’ appearing in dictionary (6)
OMENED: Another word for geezers goes inside the 3-letter abbreviation of a well-known dictionary (no, not BRB)

13a    Angled, no line is doing that (2,2)
AT IT: 5-letter word for angled or leaning without the letter L (no line)

15a    Hearing car, attempt to cross over (8)
AUDITORY: A make of car followed by a word meaning attempt that ‘crosses over’ the abbreviation for O(ver)

18a    Extensive energy consumption to produce rubber? (8)
MASSEUSE: Split (4,1,3) the answer could mean extensive E(nergy) consumption – or this could be seen as a straightforward charade of extensive (4), abbreviation for E(nergy), and consumption (use)

19a    Go over start of marriage ceremony (4)
POMP: An informal 3-letter word for a go or a try contains the abbreviation for M(arriage)

21a    Messenger‘s carried in another message (6)
HERMES: Hidden (carried in) the last two words of the clue

23a    In retreat, also run in after weapons (8)
ORDNANCE: Reversal (in retreat) of a 3-letter conjunction that can mean also, plus the abbreviation for R(un), all goes into a word that can mean after or as soon as

25a    American education is no stranger (4)
USED: The answer and ‘no stranger’ would typically be followed by ‘to’ in this context. A 2-letter abbreviation for American plus the abbreviation for ED(ucation).

26a    Slip into TA, chasing old soldiers (5,5)
OTHER RANKS: A 3-letter verb meaning to slip or make a mistake goes inside a 6-letter word for ta (not cheers), all following the abbreviation for O(ld)

27a    Tree, also wild olive (8)
OLEASTER: An anagram (wild) of TREE ALSO

28a    Useful, as chaser for second drink (6)
SHANDY: Another word for useful follows (as chaser for) the abbreviation for S(econd)



2d    An account of lost island (5)
ATOLL: Split (1,4), the answer could be an account/cost of damage, injury or lives

3d    Are they still living together? (9)
FLATMATES: A cryptic definition of people sharing accommodation, with a pun on ‘still’

4d    Guy with decorative strip (6)
RIBAND: A 3-letter verb meaning to guy or tease, plus a 3-letter conjunction meaning with

5d    One who expects to be paid (9,6)
SURROGATE MOTHER: A cryptic definition of someone who is paid to become ‘expecting’

6d    Artist only out of place in Liverpool? (8)
REYNOLDS: An anagram of ONLY (out of place) goes inside the casual name for Liverpool FC

7d    Renoir work featuring tip of girl’s elbow (5)
NUDGE: Elbow here is a verb. A bare canvas contains the first letter of G(irl)

8d    Running race vest on male (this one?) (5,4)
STEVE CRAM: An anagram (running) of RACE VEST plus the abbreviation for M(ale) gives the name of a person, now retired, for whom the rest of the clue is appropriate

14d    Crossing party-goer, ending up outside (9)
TRAVERSAL: A 5-letter party-goer has the reversal of a word meaning ending or final going around it.

16d    1 purse over part of hand (3,6)
TOP BANANA: The definition is the answer to 1a. Reversal (over) of a 3-letter word meaning purse or kitty, followed by a fruit that grows in a hand

17d    Fire more effectively moved us to scream (8)
OUTSHOOT: Anagram (moved) of US TO plus a word meaning a scream or a laugh

20d    War god admitting cook is lover (6)
ADORES: The Greek war god ‘admits’ a 2-letter word for cook (as in ** dinner, or ** the books)

22d    Help them to overturn vehicles (5)
MEDIA: Reversal (to overturn) of a 3-letter word for help plus a contraction of them

24d    Plastered adult cuts deck, shuffling (5)
CAKED: The abbreviation for A(dult) goes inside (cuts) an anagram (shuffling) of DECK*


My favourite clue today is 27a. I hadn’t come across the answer, so I was delighted to learn it was a wild olive tree, making the clue a semi-all-in-one. I also really liked the cryptic definitions (3d & 5d) which are wonderfully Rufus-like in their simplicity and elegance. Plenty more great clues with concise surfaces to enjoy. Which were your favourites?

28 comments on “Toughie 1683

  1. Fairly gentle for Elkamere though still with great surfaces. In row 12 there is a 7 letter reversal but I can’t seem to find a Nina, maybe this was more accident than design ?

    Thanks to Dutch and Elkamere

  2. Thanks for the usual terrific blog Dutch – spot on.
    Andy: That is a total fluke, I was completely unaware, so very well spotted!

  3. Another slow start for me, SE last in. Elkamere is a master and this one doesn’t disappoint.

    Tough but doable with the odd hint. Hard to pick a fave, but i’ll plump for 9a. Love ’em.
    Many thanks to all as ever.

  4. I was able to do this early today, which helped, but for me this was the least tough toughie of the week. The somewhat cliched start at 1a set the tone for a very straightforward solve. Quite a difference from last Friday. Despite these reservations thanks to Elkamere and Dutch for the hints.

  5. Great to get an unstodgy Toughie. Elkamere is no plodder. Liked it all. 5d “One who expects” was my number one. I thought 28a “useful, as chaser” was very neat. Nice surface Thanks for the entertainment, Elkamere, and thanks to Dutch, too

  6. Had I had more time to spare today, I might have relished a proper Friday Elkamere Toughie but this fluffy puzzle was just perfect for the circumstances. 1*/4* from me with thanks to setter and blogger

  7. Loved 5d. My first answer.
    Just beaten by 7d. This form of painting is not exclusive to Renoir. Was looking for something more relevant. A misleading clue I think!

      1. You’re quite right. There is. I went looking on the internet for works by Renoir before finding so many I gave up. Anyway, we’ve already had Reynolds and Ingres this week, I wonder who’ll turn up in October?.

  8. Thought that I was actually getting better at finding Elkamere’s wavelength until I saw Dutch’s rating and read some of the comments! Ah well – I still really enjoyed it. Particular favourites being 28a plus 3&4d.

    I note that my faux pas of the other week came back to haunt me yet again in 13a!
    Just one question. I’m struggling to get flaming = very much.

    Thank you Dean – this was right up my street. What’s the latest news on your hopes of getting another band together and how is Xana progressing?
    Great blog, Dutch. Loved your pics for 11a & 3d (food always seems to be the biggest cause of arguments between 3ds) and Kitty will doubtless appreciate the one at 18a.

    1. Hi there Jane. Can’t speak highly enough of Xana. This chronic asthma takes up so much of her time – as in hospital – but she just gets on with it; doing brilliantly at college (off to uni in a year or so), coming on strongly as guitarist, and as of a month ago in the process of setting up a UK-based fund-raising site for two charities – the Simple Plan Foundation (they’re our favourite band, based in Canada) and Run For Life which the lead singer’s brother Jay is involved with. A few weeks ago we had a hour-long Skype with him, throwing ideas back and forth. It was my idea to begin with but Xana has done all the work in terms of creating a website, tackling the legal requirements to keep it all clean, etc etc. She’s doing a great job and best of all she’s also managing her time really well. We’re flying out to Montreal in late November for the hometown gig of their current tour, hopefully will meet up with Jay for a meal the night before.
      As for me, haven’t plugged the bass in for months. I got involved with a Macc-based band but they were rubbish. I’ve given up the bass and now play triangle for a reggae band – I just stand at the back and ting. Joke. Bad one. And posted on Twitter some hours ago. But to be honest the amount of work I now do for the Sunday Times is such that I don’t have time for music any more.

      1. Good to hear that she’s doing so well – smart girl, that daughter of yours.
        As for her Dad, it’s great that the ST is making full use of your talents (I seem to remember you saying in the past that there was pressure on to get a ‘real’ job!) but find it hard to imagine you not finding time for music any more. Maybe you need to take a leaf out of Xana’s book re: time management?!!

        1. You’re probably right, but it’s about enthusiasm too. I left the funk/disco covers band because, while I liked the technical challenge of some of the basslines, the music wasn’t something you’d ever hear on my MP3 player. I was already into Deaf Havana, Sugarcult, Fall Out Boy, All Time Low, and of course Simple Plan. That shouldn’t be the case with blokes in their early 50s, but it is what it is. The Macc outfit’s original set list had a good smattering of the stuff I like, but before the first rehearsal they took on a new singer and the list changed to predictable old pub band material – just not me. And Macc is something of a musical backwater, very few local bands and none doing pop punk and/or modern rock.
          Xana will form a band at some point and I see myself getting back into song-writing, maybe some session bass if she wants to create material before creating a band. I actually prefer writing and recording. You keep the results forever, rather than the one-off buzz of a gig, and that’s particularly true when the results are so good. Below is a song I co-wrote many years ago. Would never do such stuff now but family and friends loved it:


          Hope that works!

          EDIT: It doesn’t – but the link should be OK

  9. Was a bit slowed down in the SW having difficulty reconciling “after” = “once” in 23a and needed a bit of research to get 16d. Didn’t know that bananas grew on hands. Thought that 1 was top man followed by a reversal of a kind of purse to give us a kind of hand at cards or something like that. Nice misdirection.
    The first word in 5a needed a bit of research too.
    Loved the “doing that” in 13a.
    Thanks to Elkamere for the teaser and to Dutch for the review.
    Can’t believe that Marco in 3d actually counted the fries. And will have to count them all over again to make sure that none are missing. Made me laugh.

  10. Easier than usual for Elkamere but still worth a tad more than 2* from me. I had a real struggle with the NW corner [11a, 2d,4d – all of which are pretty cunning but totally fair once the penny drops]. 5d is neat and provides an easy start, 3d is trickier and even neater, and then the signature clues- 2d [you really can’t argue with “an account of lost”] 4d [“with” is the killer here] and top of the pile 26a [some might argue about the false caps but TA fits the surface so well that all is forgiven].

    Many thanks Elkamere and many thanks to Dutch for the blog.

      1. I don’t want to get into angels and pinheads Dutch but whilst Ta would be regarded widely as “permitted” I’m not sure that TA is equally so. But it really doesn’t matter – I thought I’d made clear that in the context of such a good clue I didn’t give a monkey’s.

        1. It is generally accepted, Halcyon, and the fact you’ve brought it up is a good opportunity to explain it. Some believe it reflects the fact that, typically, solvers fill a grid using capitals, which is true but not the exact reason. Rather than filling a grid, we imagine somebody writing a sentence entirely in capitals. The need for upper case for proper nouns is then irrelevant because everything is in upper case. But if you wanted to use lower case you would still have to capitalise where appropriate – proper nouns, first letters of sentences – for it to be correct.
          In a nutshell – and after that waffle it needs to be – false capitalisation is free, decapitalisation a no-no. Phew.

  11. I made a better fist of this than the back pager.
    My favourites were 5d, 16d and 28a.
    Thanks Dutch and Elkamere.

  12. We were probably a little quicker solving this than we often are with Elkamere puzzles but it still kept us occupied for quite some time. As Dutch mentioned in his preamble, identifying the definition is often the biggest challenge. We enjoyed it all and would nominate 5d for favourite with lots to choose from.
    Thanks Elkamere and Dutch.

  13. Started this late last night – so late that Mrs Sheffieldsy was falling asleep so we left it part complete until this morning.

    Like many, 5d was first in. 13a was a bung-in (we just couldn’t see atilt). Favourite was 21a – very clever. Overall 3*/3. Dutch, we found this harder than the back-pager, the opposite of your take!

    Thanks Dutch and Elkamere.

  14. I actually found this really hard yesterday, but perhaps I can blame having a headache. This morning I fared better but still tussled with it; moreover I admit to having seen the odd spoiler (I get comments through an rss feed, so it requires some effort to avoid specific threads). So overall on this occasion it’s Elkamere 1, Kitty 0 – but I’m determined to even the score next time!

    Initially I misread the clue for 20d and did a double-take. Never in the DT!

    Lots of really clever cluing here, but 13a raised the biggest smile.

    Many thanks to Elkamere and to Dutch. I recognised the pic for 18a as one I dug out for use in Kate R’s debut blog (but was rejected as being a giveaway as to part of Kate’s identity)! So thanks for finding a home for it.

  15. Like Kitty and one or two others, I found this very tough, and was oblivious that it was a Deano puzzle, not being familiar with all his pseudonyms! Enjoyed the challenge, mind, tho’ I have to say I found FLATMATES rather weak. The Mayeresque AT IT my favourite, I think.

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