Toughie 1777 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 1777

Toughie No 1777 by Elkamere

Hints and tips by Gazza

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

It’s always a pleasure to get an Elkamere Toughie on a Wednesday and this one is enjoyable as always. I thought it was going to be a pangram but it failed at the last hurdle.

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

Across Clues

1a One might take milk and leave bread (5,5)
TOOTH FAIRY – cryptic definition of a night-time visitor. Bread is an informal word for money.

6a Feeling low, start to drink (4)
MOOD – to low followed by the first letter of drink.

9a Tree well ruined by nasty pest (4,6)
BOLL WEEVIL – join together a type of tree sacred to Buddhists, an anagram (ruined) of WELL and an adjective meaning nasty or foul.

10a Period after making sandwiches (4)
TERM – hidden in the clue.

12a Bank of Scotland over in New York, which is handy (6)
NEARBY – reverse a Scottish word for a bank or hillside and put it inside the abbreviation for New York.

13a Do call (8)
OCCASION – double definition – the first a do or celebration and the second a reason or pretext.

15a To act up is daft with family sitting in silence (3,1,4,2,2)
PUT A SOCK IN IT – an anagram (daft) of TO ACT UP IS containing a word for family or relations.

18a Tragic case — look into it (5-7)
HEART-RENDING – a court case contains a word for look or fashion.

21a Butcher found in service area (8)
MASSACRE – charade of a religious service and a unit of land area.

22a Order to stop speaking (6)
CHEQUE – this sounds like a verb to stop or curb.

24a Base pay (4)
FOOT – double definition, the first a noun and the second a verb.

25a Off-road racing that is circuitous (10)
SCRAMBLING – at first I thought that this was just a pretty weak cryptic definition of a motor sport involving doing laps over rough ground. Then the light dawned and I twigged the wordplay – start with a two-letter abbreviation, from the Latin word scilicet, meaning “that is” or namely and add an adjective meaning circuitous or wandering.

26a Covering over pool (4)
LIDO – a covering followed by the cricketing abbreviation for over.

27a After wrecking taxi he pays for throttle (10)
ASPHYXIATE – an anagram (after wrecking) of TAXI HE PAYS.

Down Clues

1d Pipe from water tower crossing ditch (6)
TUBING – something that tows on water goes round a verb to ditch.

2d Renault turns up, a new lubricant in it (6)
OILCAN – reverse a Renault car model and add A and N(ew). Who remembers the adverts with Papa and Nicole?

3d My suggestion if this fails (3,5,4)
HOW ABOUT THAT – if ‘this’ isn’t working then …?

4d Before kiss, take off top (4)
APEX – a verb to take off or mimic followed by a written kiss.

5d Beating sun, cold air, bringers of storms (4-6)
RAIN-CLOUDS – an anagram (beating) of SUN COLD AIR.

7d Good order — finish books (8)
OBEDIENT – concatenate an order or gong, a verb to finish or conk out and some Biblical books.

8d The same couple hugging in corner (8)
DOMINATE – an abbreviation meaning the same as before is followed by a verb to couple or breed containing IN.

11d Stop watching TV — surprisingly, it appears (4-2-3-3)
JACK-IN-THE-BOX – an informal phrasal verb (4,2) meaning to stop or discontinue followed by an informal term for one’s TV set.

14d Record ‘Beat It’ (4,6)
MAKE TRACKS – this could be what singers do in a recording studio.

16d Shocking fraud over fuel supply (8)
SHAMEFUL – a fraud or pretence followed by an anagram (supply) of FUEL.

17d Idiot returned steel key (8)
PASSWORD – reverse an informal word for an idiot and add what steel is a literary word for.

19d Eagle heads for it, lands in water (6)
AQUILA – put the initial letters of I[t] and L[ands] into a word, from Latin, meaning water.

20d Struggle to eat animal produce, do I? (6)
VEGGIE – this is a semi-all-in-one. A verb to struggle or compete contains the produce of female creatures.

23d 22’s equivalent — about 15 (4)
CASH – an abbreviation for about or approximately followed by a more succinct way of saying 15a.

Lots of clues to like – I’ll pick out 25a, 3d and 11d but my favourite has to be 1a. Which one(s) did you rate highly?

26 comments on “Toughie 1777

  1. Elkamere in fluffy form again – well that’s how I found him. I too marked 1a as my favourite clue

    Thanks to Elkamere and Gazza

  2. I think that was one of the most terrific puzzles I’ve ever solved – a full 5* for enjoyment.
    I recall someone saying that Elkamere is the master of hiding things in plain sight and this was a perfect example of his art.

    I could put almost every one onto the podium but will content myself by mentioning 1&21a plus 3,11&14d.

    Many thanks, Dean, and thanks to Gazza for a blog that did the puzzle justice.

  3. Enjoyed this a lot – Thanks Gazza, I got as far as realising circuitous fit better with the last 8 letters of 25a rather than with the whole word, but I had forgotten (again) the Latin abbreviation. Also I fell for bunging in DOWN into 6a (feeling low, start to drink) which confused me for a bit – but it wasn’t exact, and soon corrected.

    I enjoyed the long ones the most (15a, 18a, 3d, 11d) and also really liked 8d, 14d & 23a – and many more!

    Many thanks Elkamere and thanks Gazza

  4. Being unfit for The Cheltenham Festival has its advantages when one can enjoy a tussle with a puzzle as good as this one. Thanks to Elkamere and also to Gazza whose assistance was called upon.

  5. The shorter the clues, the shorter the solving time.
    Surprised myself as both crosswords were solved over two cups of tea. Mind you, they were a bit cold by the end of each.
    La petite souris in 1a and the French car in 2d were my last ones in and favourites.
    Thought the synonyms in 8d a bit strange.
    Thanks to Elkamere and to Gazza for explaining 25a.

  6. Nothing great, nothing lame but a good romp all the same. Thought the synonyms at 8 were fine apart from the answer at first but then corner the market came to mind so it’s also fine. I think 1a shades it.TY G&E

  7. I solved most of this while sitting in the waiting room at the hospital eye clinic. Suspect that many of the other people in the room thought I must be totally bonkers with all my grins and chuckles. It really was excellent fun. I too thought it was going to be a pangram and this actually helped me when I got to the SE corner and was aware that I still needed a Q.
    Thanks Elkamere and Gazza.

  8. Another treat from Elkamere. 2.5*/4*. We were on pangram alert early on but, nope, no Z.

    Favourites were 1a, 16d but liked 1d the most (for the marvellous ‘water tower”). Needed Gazza’s write-up to fully understand 25a, so respect to Gazza for persisting- we just bunged it in.

    Thanks to Gazza and Elkamere.

  9. I wasn’t planning on doing the Toughie today, but, when I got to p18 in the paper and saw how few words were used in the cluing, I thought this might be right up my street. Brevity per se is not necessarily a good thing unless the clues are accurate with good surfaces, and that was certainly the case here.

    I absolutely loved this with 1a my runaway favourite. The only thing I am not sure about is if the answer to 13a and “call” are really synonymous.

    Many thanks to Elkamere and to Gazza.

    1. 13a The Oxford Thesaurus of English quotes as an example: “There’s no call for that kind of language” – saying that possible synonyms for call here are:- need, necessity, occasion, reason, justification, grounds, excuse, pretext, cause.

      1. Thanks Gazza. I’m completely comfortable with 8 of the 9 synonyms you list but “occasion” seems a stretch too far to me. However I will bow to wisdom of the Oxford Thesaurus of English and certainly not let it detract from my enjoyment of a wonderful puzzle.

    2. RD. 13a: I did this yesterday afternoon and at the time I was of exactly the same opinion as you regarding ocassion = call – it just didn’t sound right to me (and still doesn’t, to be honest). But I’ve just checked the Chambers Thesaurus in this library and there it is: Ocassion – reason, cause, excuse, justification, call, grounds. I’ve concluded that it is valid, but obscure/stretched (and I have no real complaints about that).

      1. Yes, I know – I always spell “occasion” wrongly. I do the same with “yacht” for some reason.

  10. Very enjoyable – kept me occupied while better half is at a WI meeting. 24a always reminds me of Michael Foot. A wag nicknamed him “Foot the Bill” when he was promoting a certain piece of legislation.
    Thank you Gazza and Elkamere.

  11. I had 19D and 22A left and flat ran out of time and ideas. I did enjoy it though! I had several ticked but 1A takes the trophy home. Thanks Elkamere and Gazza

  12. 3*/4.5*. A cracker of a puzzle that I’m surprised to be able to solve. Too many favourites to list, but 1a, 1d, 11d and 20d among the front runners for me. Thanks to Elkamere and Gazza.

  13. I seem to have found this a lot tougher than everyone else, though it was satisfying to see the clues fall, if slowly, with quite a few smiles along the way. I got myself into a pickle with all the longer, multi-word answers, thinking, no, that can’t be a phrase, when in fact each turned out to be something pretty commonplace. A matter of not being able to see the wood for the trees. Favourite clue today? 1ac, with several others close behind.

  14. Thanks to Elkamere and to Gazza for the review and hints. I enjoyed what I could do, but there was so much missing. Managed to get 1a from the hint, but had to look up, 13,22,25a and 14&19d. However, this was still a lot further than I normally get with Elkamere’s puzzles. I particularly enjoyed 3d & 15a. Great fun, but very tough for me.

  15. I wasn’t expecting to be able to do this – I know that Elkamere’s crosswords are usually way beyond me.
    It all went surprisingly well until I screwed up the last three in the top left corner but that’s much further than I usually get.
    I really enjoyed it.
    I liked 15 and 27a and 3d. My favourite was 11d.
    Thanks to Elkamere for the crossword and to Gazza for the much needed hints.

  16. I’ve been too busy for Toughies since pi day, so naturally the editor chose this week to fill these slots with the very best.

    I’m hoping I’m just out of the zone temporarily because I found this really quite tough and didn’t make it on my own.

    Others have mentioned some of the brilliantest clues but I’d like to add a couple of simpler ones to the honours list because they really made me smile: 6a and 4d.

    Many thanks to the great Elk and to Gazza for the helping hand.

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