Toughie 1759 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 1759

Toughie No 1759 by Elgar

Hints and tips by Dutch

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

Today we have Elgar’s toughie number 115 and accordingly the puzzle contains a number of related connections, as with his last four puzzles here. I found this difficult but immensely satisfying, and I enjoyed unravelling the theme. With cleverly hidden definitions and plenty of devious wordplay, there were excellent penny-drop moments. My last ones in were 11a, which led me to the theme, and the crossing 4d. On savouring the clues and their superb surfaces again during the review, I think this clearly deserves 5* for enjoyment

Half the battle (or more) in these puzzles is finding the definitions – these are underlined in the clues below. The hint will hopefully allow you to get the answer, but you can always reveal it by clicking on the ROUTE PLANNER button. Please leave a comment letting us know what you thought and how you got on


1a     Children’s writer had turned left (4)
DAHL: A reversal (turned) of had plus the abbreviation for L(eft)

3a     See red fluff withdrawn from zip (2,3,2,3)
GO OFF ON ONE: A 4-letter blunder or fluff, the reversal (withdrawn) of a 2-letter word meaning from, and a word meaning zip or zero

9a     Highland town fuel supplier (4)
WICK: Two meanings – this fuel supplier transports the fuel to the flame

10a     Sweethearts Jeremy and Tim maintaining a period of abstinence (10)
VALENTINES: The plural of the surname of two brothers who are British presenters, one better known for comedy, contains (maintain) A from the clue plus a 40-day period of abstinence


11a     Dele, face to goal, blocks a last-minute opening for City (7)
ALDGATE: The abbreviation for the Latin dele (meaning delete) plus the first letter of (face to) Goal goes inside (blocks) A from the clue plus a 4-letter word meaning last-minute (or even beyond deadline). May not be obvious from the pic, but the City is London

13a     Illegally obtain access to Marshal’s horse (7)
HACKNEY: A verb meaning to gain illegal access electronically and a famous French Marshal

14a     London District/Overground Line taking lots away from SW? (11)
LEYTONSTONE: A 3-letter straight line between landscape features (Overground Line), plus a word meaning lots as in a great quantity, then a (2,2) phrase meaning ‘away from SW’

18a     Beneath the exterior of Tory hardliner there’s a socialist, fiendish recklessness (4-7)
DARE-DEVILRY: Take a 3-letter British politics word for a strict conservative hardliner, then insert (beneath the exterior of … there’s) the A from the clue, a 3-letter socialist, and a word for fiendish or wicked

21a     Ill-disposed to duels as the last one laughing laughs? (7)
LOUDEST: An anagram (ill-disposed) of TO DUELS

22a     England 1966 squad member‘s breathing problem finally shifted by Ecstasy (7)
EASTHAM: Switch the last two letters in a breathing disorder and place after (by) the abbreviation for E(cstasy)

23a     A wave of wild theories about husband going after women (5,5)
WHITE HORSE: An anagram (wild) of THEORIES goes around the abbreviation for H(usband), all following the abbreviation for W(omen)


24a    Ace brings about unlikely set point (4)
EAST: The abbreviation for A(ce) has around it (brings about) an anagram (unlikely) of SET

25a     Office equipment in ideal home: rule comes out for new ID kit (4,6)
DESK TIDIES: Take a (3,3) informal expression for an ideal home and replace the abbreviation for R(ule) with an anagram (new) of ID+KIT

26a     Fish supply lines (4)

DORY: A 2-letter verb that can mean supply or provide, plus an abbreviation for railway lines



1d     Deposit Times editor, laid up with cataract (8)
DEWFALLS: Reversal (laid up) of the abbreviation of ED(itor), the abbreviation of W(ith), and a word meaning cataract or a set of water cascades

2d     Joint bewilderment from reporters, Customs now prescribing seizure of partners for extortion (4-4)
HOCK-DAYS: A joint of the hindleg plus a homophone of a 4-letter word meaning bewilderment or stunned confusion will give a post-Easter English festival when the custom was to seize and bind partners until they gave a kiss (women) or paid for their liberty (men). Apparently, this mediaeval tradition survives today only in Hungerford, Berkshire, where the woman also receives an orange

4d     Having acquired door key, maybe I’ll turn to check what’s following me (2,3)
OF AGE: Reversal (will turn) of a 3-letter word for I or self contains (to check) the note following me (or mi).

5d     An incarnation of Browning, do I turn up without water? (9)
FLESHHOOD: A word attributed to (an incarnation of) Elizabeth Barrett Browning which cleverly also means incarnation. A reversal (turn up) of DO from the clue plus a 4-letter word meaning I or ego, all containing (without) water as described by its elemental composition

6d     Fantastic Provence with its sensational routes (5,6)
OPTIC NERVES: Anagram (fantastic) of PROVENCE+ITS

7d     Due around noon in confession? One has to be (6)
OWNING: A 5-letter word for due as in unpaid goes around the abbreviation for N(oon). We have two definitions, the second referring to a person who has

8d     Talked about Springboks’ tries? (6)
ESSAYS: a homophone (talked about) of an abbreviation that represents the rugby side including the ‘S indicated by Springboks’

12d     In an empty achievement lower classes at least get the point (5,6)
AVOID DEFEAT: Inside (in) a (1,4,4) substitution for ‘an empty achievement’ place two letters that can be lower classes or grades to give an appropriate message

15d     Literary town, Ards, upset with necessary correction? (9)
STRATFORD: A reversal (upset) of Ards, followed by a literal instruction (1-3-1) for a necessary correction to it (the reversed Ards) to give you the answer

16d     Each pole is new, but inferior (2,6)
EL CHEAPO: Anagram (new) of EACH POLE.

17d     Correspondence with which my Mrs has yet to get involved (8)
SYMMETRY: An anagram (to get involved) of MY+MRS+YET


19d     Faulty principles adopted by FBI man (6)
FLAWED: The set of principles or rules governing a state goes inside US slang for an FBI agent

20d     Square’s limited overs game (6)
QUOITS: A word for square as in nothing owing or owed goes around the cricket abbreviation for O(vers)

22d     Follow nuts seen going round the bend (5)
ENSUE: An anagram (nuts) of SEEN goes around a letter that characterises a type of bend

For hidden definitions, I loved 1d and 11a. For devious wordplay, I particularly enjoyed 4d, 5d and 14a. For surface, I was most impressed by 23a, 24a, 6d and 17d. So how do you pick a favourite? Which clues did you like?

31 comments on “Toughie 1759

  1. I got the theme quite early on but even so it took me an age and more to finish off the whole crossword, the NW corner being particularly beastly. I’d have to award this at least 6* – 7* for difficulty but would agree with the 5* entertainment. I liked 10a, 13a, 14a, 21a and 5d the most, although there are others I could list if I had time

    Just a question – is there a link between 19d and 17d or is it just a coincidence??

    Thanks to Elgar for a proper wearing out of the cryptic grey matter and to Dutch for the blog

    PS: I’ve just put a piece of paper on my noticeboard saying ‘next Elgar will be 116’ so that I’m not caught out next time

  2. Another tour de force from Elgar – thanks to him and to Dutch. I always forget that Elgar’s on his numbering sequence and it probably wouldn’t have helped if I had remembered because I’m not well acquainted with the theme. I had a lot of difficulty with the NW corner – I’d never heard of 2d, my last one in, (I kept trying to fit in hacks for reporters) – it’s amazing what some women will do for an orange!
    I did notice that 19d is an anagram of the top 6 letters of the answer above it, but that doesn’t appear to be significant.
    Lots to enjoy – 10a, 1d, 4d and 6d, but I’ll nominate 15d as my favourite for the penny drop moment when I realised how it worked.

      1. What about the last three letters of 19d being what happens if you follow the instruction in 1d? Alright, maybe too much wrestling with Elgar puzzles has actually sent me insane.

  3. I only got about ten clues (all S) before I was forced to resort to the blog. What a revelation that always is for me when it’s Elgar! Not sure who’s the bigger genius, Elgar or Dutch! I can never get near but reading how the clues parse just fills me with awe. I had two answers jotted down to study how to parse them and still didn’t get them!

    Many thanks to both of you and buckets of respect!

    1. thank you, I think that would have to be Elgar – I’ll confess it did take me quite a long time

      I’ll spell out the theme a bit later on

      1. Dear Dutch, yes please do explain the theme and Elgar’s numbering. I managed 12 complete with parsing/ 3 that needed your parsing/ 4 that needed your hints and 9 where “click here” was deployed. I can see all the East End names but still fail to see a theme. This is not a criticism of the setter. I always enjoy a battle with Elgar/ Enigmatist. Many thanks in anticipation.

  4. Having written-in 1a straightaway, I thought this was going to be a “fluffy Elgar” day, but boy, was I wrong. I nearly surrendered several times, the NW corner giving particular difficulty, but got there in the end. I failed to parse 1d properly ( I didn’t spot that ‘Times’ was part of the definition), so thanks to Dutch for that, and to Elgar for this excellent puzzle.

  5. We were totally beaten by the NW corner. There was just so much obscure general knowledge that we found it very frustrating. We had completely forgotten that Elgar has been using his numbers theme, but now, even knowing there is one, cannot see it.
    Thanks Elgar and Dutch.

  6. Strange, but athough I still have three or four to solve (running out of time), I found this a steady build and not too difficult (so far!). The old am/fm thing again, I suppose. Certainly can’t see the theme yet, admittedly. Thoroughly enjoyable. I thank Elgar and Dutch in advance. Trying not to resort to the hints – it’s that good!

  7. Was also totally beaten by the NW corner where I only had 1a and 9a.
    Just couldn’t parse the rest. 1d,2d, 11a and 14a were stared at for ages and had to give up.
    Found the rest quite straightforward and met a new game, a footballer, a fourre-tout and a big wave.
    6d is music to my ears.
    Thanks to Elgar and to Dutch.
    I’m also waiting for the theme thing.

  8. Ok regarding the theme:

    these are 115 routes in central London

    115 is the bus line that goes from ALDGATE to EASTHAM WHITEHORSE

    the A115 is the road that went from HACKNEY WICK to STRATFORD. It was declassified in 2010 to make way for the olympic stadium.

    Previously (in the 1920’s) the A115 connected LEYTONSTONE with VALENTINES

    By googling ALDGATE and 115, I had a sense of where this was heading. Only after googling ‘a115 roads’ (a suggestion by Elgar) did i find the whole picture.


    1. … and the general direction of both routes (i.e. North-easterly) is (I think) explained in 14a.

      1. yes, I almost mentioned 14a in the preamble but thought it was too much of a hint. Must admit I only saw the suggestion in 14a in retrospect. Brilliant, don’t you think?

    2. Not being a Londoner, the theme was completely alien to me, even so I did manage to solve all but the 4 or 5 left side down clues already referred to.
      The fact that it was Elgar’s 115th Toughie, is rather arcane. How is the man on the street supposed to know this?
      I would prefer a more level playing field.

      1. you’re right of course – the regulars forget too, even though Elgar managed to work his puzzle numbers into his last four toughies (111, 112, 113 & 114), and I’ve described that in each review accordingly – so maybe that’s the only way people might know the number

        Of course the theme is not essential to the puzzle, it’s just an extra bit of fun

        Hint: next Elgar will be his 116th.

        1. Thanks Dutch, I’m a bit irregular usually taking the Telegraph on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays and doing the dozen or so puzzles the following day and saving the Toughie ’til last!
          Hence my late, rare appearances on the forum.
          Also thanks and congrats to Elgar.

  9. Took me longer to do this than waiting for the bloody bus [having worked in the East End for 27 years].
    Agree with Dutch’s intro and had a similar experience to Physicist.

    Thanks and respect to both Elgar and Dutch.

  10. I am in awe of Elgars abilities in setting and also of Dutch’s abilities in writing the hints. Way way above my abilities as a solver. Ta to all as usual.

  11. Absolutely brilliant. Took me over three hours to complete, and even then I didn’t get the theme, other than knowing that there were a lot of answers which were locations in East London. My favourite was 10a; was it mere coincidence that Jeremy Corbyn referred to a supposed ‘sweetheart’ deal in Wednesday PMQT between the government and Surrey County Council ? Many thanks Elgar for the 5* entertainment and to Dutch for illuminating the theme.

  12. Even my backside had a headache after trying (& failing) to solve this puzzle. Hats off to Elgar, Dutch & everybody else who managed to complete.

  13. Started this Saturday morning. Now Sunday morning. Defeated by NW corner and 12d. Had to use hints for four answers, and look up answers for three. Too clever for me, maybe I will avoid Elgar unless I have a totally free day. Thanks for exhausting my brain!

  14. I did not 12d, resorting to this blog to sort out 1d, 11a, 5d and 12d after a pleasantly hair-tearing morning commute. I had also ended up with R as the last letter of 25a, despite having thought of the des res – when a puzzle is this tortuous throughout sometimes I just give up rather than persevering to find the correct route. Pieces of legitimate genius everywhere, of course, and the theme is a thing of much beauty now that you’ve fully outlined. My favourite clue by a city mile was 4d, a great marriage of interesting surface, witty definition and a highly original-seeming yet completely fair cryptic device. Thanks Elgar and Dutch!

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