Toughie 1807 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 1807

Toughie No 1807 by Elkamere

Hints and tips by Dutch

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BD Rating – Difficulty **Enjoyment ****

Possibly the gentlest Elkamere I’ve encountered – I’m hoping that will encourage lots of people to try it. With amazingly concise and elegant clueing, it was pure delight to solve. And the sun is shining in Macclesfield.

As always, the definitions are underlined in the clues below and the hints address the wordplay. You can click on the FEED ME buttons to reveal the answers. Please leave a comment telling us what you thought.


1a    It may get you through a divorce (12)
PERSEVERANCE: Too true. A lovely semi-all-in-one to start with. A word for through or via followed by a word for divorce or separation

9a    Row about one flash American car (9)
LIMOUSINE: a 4-letter word for row or queue goes around (about) the Roman numeral one, a flash or a second, and a 2-letter abbreviation for American

10a    After drink, retweet hollow warning (5)
ALERT: A 3-letter drink popular at crossword get-togethers plus the outer letters only (hollow) of R(etwee)T

11a    Tin work wanted by unknown tester (6)
CANOPY: Another word for tin, the abbreviation for a (often musical) work, and a letter used as an algebraic unknown. I had to check this meaning of tester, though perhaps it is in common use

12a    Phase out struggling pub (8)
TAPHOUSE: An anagram (struggling) of PHASE OUT.

13a    I add rock (6)
TOTTER: Double definition: a person who adds, and a verb meaning to rock

15a    Knowing about Kindle — a bit (8)
SLIGHTLY: A word for knowing or cunning goes around (about) a verb meaning to kindle

18a    Bats chase the big cats (8)
CHEETAHS: An anagram (bats) of CHASE THE

19a    Book charity appears after footnote (6)
PSALMS: A word for charity comes after the abbreviation for a footnote to give a book of the bible

21a    Records attempt to produce work of art (8)
TAPESTRY: A word for records (as in records music) plus a word for attempt

23a    Entering stage is hapless female entertainer (6)
GEISHA: Hidden in the clue (Entering…)

26a    Disable one Italian female, room vacated (5)
UNARM: The feminine word for one in Italian, followed by R(oo)M without its contents (vacated)

27a    Chat for one minute? (5,4)
SMALL TALK: A cryptic definition for light conversation

28a    As Israelite king, given toy gun (7,5)
ASSAULT RIFLE: AS from the clue, the name of the biblical first king of Israel, and a verb meaning to toy (with)


1d    Skunk or European lynx? (7)
POLECAT: A European national and the kind of animal exemplified by lynx (the question mark is a “definition-by-example” indicator)

2d    Sort of face right, old chap (5)
ROMAN: Face here means type font. The abbreviations for right and old plus another word for chap

3d    Crack troops in out-of-this-world gear (9)
EQUIPMENT: A crack or joke plus another word for army troops go inside the abbreviation for a word meaning out-of-this-world

4d    No longer the one going (4)
EXIT: A word meaning ‘no longer’ plus a word meaning ‘the one’

5d    Willing … to have the last word? (8)
AMENABLE: The whole clue could whimsically provide the answer if we think of the last word in a prayer

6d    Money’s left in jar (5)
CLASH: The abbreviation for left goes inside a form of money

7d    Go through pure satisfaction (8)
REQUITAL: A word meaning go or resign goes inside (through) a word meaning pure or genuine

8d    Set off and see firm (6)
STEELY: An anagram (off) of SET plus a cathedral city (see)

14d    Performer — he’s very good opening function (8)
THESPIAN: HE’S from the clue plus a 2-letter word for very good go inside a trigonometric function

16d    Preacher uses charm to block one leaving (9)
GOSPELLER: A word for a magic charm goes inside (to block) a person who is leaving

17d    Pull, as mum does? (8)
CHARISMA: Split (4,2,2) the answer can mean ‘mum does’ since the 4-letter word can mean ‘person who does (the housework)’. Not sure I explained that very well – maybe just think of a CHARacterIStic the gentleMAn below is reputed to lack

18d    25 in copper trade (3,3)
CUT OUT: The definition is the answer to 25 (as an engine might). The chemical symbol for copper plus a word meaning trade (as in illegal concert tickets)

20d    Dump empty little hamper (7)
SHACKLE: A word for dump or grotty building plus the outer letters only (empty) of L(ittl)E

22d    Missile found on huge Greek island (5)
SAMOS: A surface-to-air missile plus an abbreviation meaning huge

24d    Stick man (5)
STAFF: Double definition: A stick or pole, and a verb meaning to man

25d    Break down following trouble (4)
FAIL: The abbreviation for following and another word for trouble

I really loved the concise elegance of these clues. For some reason, 12a really chimed with me (the story of my local, perhaps, though hopefully not). I also liked 15a, 18a, 21a, 3d and 25d. Which clues did you like?

16 comments on “Toughie 1807

  1. Once upon a time there was a setter called Elkamere who set Toughies that did what they say on the tin and provided a really great Toughie solving experience, even when you had to look at them on and off for hours, sometimes hiding him in a file while sitting at the back row of meetings (perhaps that was just me)

    His fluffy brother seems to have taken over Toughie setting duties lately and I’d have to disagree with our blogger because I don’t think today’s puzzle contained the usual Elkamere clever, inventive clues either.

    Thanks to both setter and blogger but I’d have to go for 0.25*/3* today

    Disappointed of decidedly unsunny, grey and chilly East Kent

  2. Yes, very mild. I’m with Dutch in that I also quite liked the brevity of clues 24d, 27a, 8d, 13a etc but favourite is 1a.
    17d is an odd one to parse; thought 26a was ‘dis…’ but I’m sure it’s in the book.
    Many thanks to Elkamere and to Dutch for looking up 11a for me!

  3. CS won’t expect me to agree with her, although I have to admit that I didn’t find the solve very difficult. Having said that, I thoroughly enjoyed it and thought that the style was rather reminiscent of a Mr. T puzzle both in the concise clueing and the odd bit of innuendo.

    I could probably include almost all of the clues for special mention but I’ll restrict myself to giving podium places to 1&15a along with 1&3d.

    Many thanks, Elkamere, and thanks to Dutch for confirmation of the parsing. We quite often see a 9a in exactly that shade of pink travelling across the island – how it manages to traverse some of the narrow lanes is quite beyond me.

  4. Like Dutch, I loved the short, snappy clues. Every word with a vital role to play. Nothing plodding or ponderous. I particularly liked 9a “Row about one flash American car” Also15a “Knowing about Kindle – a bit” Thanks Elkamere and Dutch

  5. I very much enjoyed this. For me there was a pleasure and satisfaction in being able to complete it comfortable time, as opposed to spending long periods of time making little or no progress, which has been my fate – on many a Friday especially. Many thanks to Elkamere and Dutch.

  6. Gentle, to be sure, but since this is the first toughie I’ve succeeded in completing all week I’m a happy camper. My favorites are 1A, 27A and 14D. Thanks to Elkamere and Dutch.

  7. Evening folks, and many thanks Dutch for a great blog as ever.
    Sorry this one didn’t work for you, Sue. I haven’t changed, honestly – I think you’ve just rumbled me and know what to expect.
    Disappointed with myself for 10a, though, especially bearing in my mind there were only 3 very minor edits to the whole puzzle. I’d tried to get away with RT for ‘retweet’ but it was deemed not universally familiar, so ‘hollow’ was added to indicate first/last letters. Had I been more observant I’d have given up on ‘retweet’ in favour of ‘repeat’, for a more believable surface reading. There’s nothing technically unsound with the clue as it is, of course, but I could have improved it if I’d been more on the ball.

  8. Hi Dean – good of you to pop in to ‘see’ us all.
    Must admit, even I thought this one was at the easier end of your spectrum but that didn’t detract in any way from the enjoyment.
    More of the same would go down very nicely here, thank you!

  9. We enjoyed this, 2.5*/3*.

    I/we may have said this before, but forcing clues to be seven words or fewer does lead to some odd surfaces – 28a is a case in point.

    Favourite was 15a with 20d not far behind.

    Thanks Dutch and Elkamere.

  10. For the life of me, I couldn’t see 1a so just into 3* time for me. Otherwise no real problems, but no standout favourite either. Ta to Elkamere, and of course Dutch.

  11. As soon as I finished this one I knew ‘people’ would say it wasn’t a real Toughie just because I could do it without too much trouble.
    Missed the ‘flash’ in 9a but it had to be what it was.
    I thought there were some really good clues – 1, 13 and 27a and 22d. My favourite was 4d and I’m not sure if I really like or really don’t like 17d. :unsure:
    I enjoyed it a lot so thanks to Elkamere and to Dutch.

  12. Good fun, but am I the only person who doesn’t think a skunk is a polecat? Thanks anyway guys

  13. Well I had to put this aside for the next day, so either it wasn’t completely fluffy or I am completely stupid. (No comments please!)

    (Actually I do have a thick head in the other sense of having a cold so I could use that as an excuse if I wanted to. I don’t. I’d rather just sit in the corner in my dunce’s cap sniffling.)

    Did a couple of very idiotic things which didn’t help matters, and actually once I’d kicked my brain into gear this morning, I can agree that it was Elk-light for difficulty. Not for entertainment though, and I note that my picks are some of the most solver-friendly in the puzzle.

    I had to check 11a = tester, and agree with Lesley that I don’t think a 1d is a skunk, at least not in this country. A shame, because it’s such a lovely bit of wordplay. I suppose changing the first word to ferret would have made the whole thing even more fluffy (if less stinky! ;) ).

    If I’m being picky, 17d didn’t strike me as quite as tight as I’d expect from this setter … and what a choice of illustration, Dutch! Are you feeling quite all right?

    Big smiles for a couple of the simpler clues: 12a and 18a (of course). 25d is so appropriate for me that it should get the honours, but I actually really liked 10a, and was interested to read of Elkamere’s self-disappointment because I in fact prefer it with the original retweet – that conjures up a nice image of a slightly oiled person at his/her computer hitting “retweet” on silly Daily 25d-type empty scare stories.

    Many thanks to Elkamere for the puzzle and the comment, and to Dutch for the review (did you write it while hungry?).

  14. Agree about the Elk-lightness. (More of a relief than a disappointment, actually!)

    Since a polecat is notoriously smelly, and there was a question mark at the end of the clue I was quite happy with the word skunk.

    Thanks to Elkamere, and to Dutch for such a comprehensive review.

  15. Just got round to doing this one. Not used to attempting the toughie. Managed to solve quite a bit but not all of it. Several nice clues but wasn’t keen on 17d. 11a was one of my first in, and 7d my last. Thank you setter, and thank you very much Dutch for an excellent review.

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