Toughie 1819 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 1819

Toughie No 1819 by Elgar

Hints and tips by Dutch

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

A slightly gentler offering from Elgar with a few easier clues to give you a foothold – so do 19d. This is Elgar’s 118th toughie, and there is an appropriate Nina. In addition, we have the two lovely ellipses and a pangram to boot – how does he do it?

Half the battle is finding the definitions – these are underlined in the clues below. The hints try to explain the wordplay and the answers can be revealed by clicking on the ANSWER buttons. Please leave a comment letting us know how you got on.


1a     Level 4’s trim bathroom parts … (5)
FLOOR: The outer letters (trim) of FouR has inserted (parts) a word for bathroom

4a     … directors having nothing to do in audition (5)
BOARD: A homophone (in audition) of a word meaning having nothing to do

10a     Something to impress, presented by newspaper as fine material (8)
ORGANDIE: A newspaper as a media instrument and a device used to impress coins, etc.

11a     It’s chilling, hearing Scotty’s confirmation of Vulcan ownership? (6)
ICEBOX: A homophone (hearing) of Scotty’s confirmation (3) of Vulcan ownership (5’1)

12a     Sticky mud pots going unfired? (6)
CLAGGY: A type of mud contains (pots) GoinG without the central letters (unfired, as in un-fueled)

13a     Lord’s lower in estimation, having no matches (8)
PEERLESS: Nothing to do with the Home of Cricket: a word for Lord and a word for lower in estimation

14a     He’s one of the few who knows how Rosie likes to be kept, allegedly? (7)
INSIDER: A homophonic (allegedly) reference to the Laurie Lee novel

16a     Conveniently near English city and Bishop goes AWOL (2,4)
AT HAND: An English city in the SW plus AND from the clue, without the B(ishop)

17a     Account to use when talking through ‘very little money’? There’s nothing in it! (6)
VACUUM: The abbreviation for ACcount plus a homophone (when talking) of ‘to use’, going inside (through) the usual abbreviation for Very and an abbreviation (little) of Money

19a     Cut in order to guarantee tip off (7)
TONSURE: TO from the clue and a word meaning guarantee without the first letter (tip off)

21a     Wall-pictures to view, recordings to hear (8)
TAPESTRY: A word meaning recordings (perhaps of Trump’s conversations), and to hear in a legal sense

22a     Top producer of #fruit? (3-3)
ASH-KEY: Remove the first letter of (top) the producer of # when you are typing

23a     Division of Apple‘s most powerful men (6)
QUEENS: Two meanings, the first a district in NY, the second …

24a     Briefly engaged cutting green-blue cloth (3,5)
TEA TOWEL: The first 4 letters (briefly) of a (2,3) expression that means engaged go inside (cutting) a green-blue colour

25a     Miserable smidgeon taken from spending-money? … (5)
PENNY: A clever all-in-one. Remove an anagram (miserable) of SMIDGEON from SPENDING-MONEY and see what’s left

26a     … sons stop press (5)
STAMP: The abbreviation for Sons and a word meaning stop or plug


2d     Under discussion, much of Cilla’s position as a rock singer (7)
LORELEI: A homophone (under discussion) of how Cilla Black might say ‘much of’ and a verb meaning to position

3d     Evoking William III, always last to open the morning press? (6-8)
ORANGE-SQUEEZER: A 10-letter whimsical adjective meaning suggestive of William III, plus a poetic word for always into which the last alphabetic character is inserted (to open)

5d     Registering positive, having got some way through course after several strokes (4,3)
OVER PAR: A cryptic description of a poor golf performance

6d     Heatedly protest Spooner’s shortened king’s time in power (5,4)
RAISE CAIN: A Spoonerism of how you would pronounce the abbreviated (shortened) King’s and his time in power

7d     A critical time indeed, having seen regular payment leaving bank (1-3)
D-DAY: A word for indeed or yes follows (having seen) the abbreviation for regular payments deducted from your bank account

8d     Totally reasonable source, even if a solicitor (4-7-3)
WELL-THOUGHT-OUT: a word for source, a word for even if, and a word for a solicitor

9d     Justice – initially what’s not done to restrict Salome ’s originator, rising playwright (6)
JONSON: The first letter (initially) of Justice, the a reversal (rising) of something you shouldn’t do (2-2) around the first letter (originator) of Salome

15d     A little coffee set aside to be drunk with the last of cream (9)
DEMITASSE: An anagram (to be drunk) of SET ASIDE + (crea)M

18d     Check out presence at wine-drinkers’ heaven under a counter (6)
ABACUS: Remove (out) the abbreviation for CHeck from the Roman God of Wine (presence at wine-drinkers’ heaven), all under A from the clue

19d     See if the cap fits fool (or at least attempt to)? (3,2,2)
TRY IT ON: To see if the cap fits you ….

20d     Glimpse old governor cutting West-East, then heading North (3-4)
EYE-BEAM: Reversal (heading North, in a down clue) of a 3-letter word for an old governor coming between (cutting) the first name of Miss West and the abbreviation for East

22d     A girl’s bottom’s been pinched, I regret to say (4)
ALAS: A from the clue, plus a 4-letter word for girl without the last letter (bottom’s been pinched, in a down clue)

My favourite has to be 3d, which made me laugh when I realised the parsing. Which clues did you like?

35 comments on “Toughie 1819

  1. I’ve been an Elgar fan for many a long year – indeed if I hadn’t typed a whole clue from one of his Toughies back in May 2010, I’d never have transformed my ‘crosswording’ life.

    After a few Elgar toughies that left me on the grumpy side, I’m delighted to report that today’s pangram left me with a giant grin on my face. Yes, it was on the fluffy side for a Toughie, especially a Friday Elgar, but what fun! 1.5*/5*++ from me. I did start a search for the Nina and spotted the linked solutions at the top and bottom of the grid but it is too nice a day to keep staring at a crossword, not least because if I didn’t know about the blog, I wouldn’t know it was Elgar 118 anyway.

    I’m going to try and avoid the wrath of Kath by saying that only eleven clues weren’t marked for stardom, but I bet she’ll still work out that I have far too many of those things she claims you can only have one of.

    Thanks to Elgar for a splendid crossword – one of your best – but, in my opinion, still not quite a match for the best one ever – Toughie 770.

  2. Could 25a also be ‘means’ – mean (miserable + ‘s’ (smidgeon taken from spending) = money?

    1. Welcome

      I don’t think so – and if it was it wouldn’t link with 26a, would it?

    2. Curses! I had MEANS too, despite thinking it didn’t fit with 26a. I think it works cryptically, a little tenuously perhaps but no more so than is ambient for this particular setter’s style :P

  3. Well, I think that’s the best I have ever done with Elgar. Only beaten by eight clues! One of these days maybe…., but I think I’m getting too old for the agility of my mind to improve much. I will content myself with living in awe.

  4. I did it – actually finished an Elgar and got all the correct answers! Needed Dutch’s blog to understand why 12a & 3d were what they were and fully expected CS to label it ‘fluffy’ but I’m nevertheless delighted.

    So many goodies but I’ll restrict myself to particular mention of 8&19d with a nod to 23a which took ages but completed the solve.

    Many thanks to Elgar for giving me a chance and to Dutch for the parsing assistance. Smiled over the 4a pic!
    Perhaps you’ll spell out the Nina for us later?

    1. If the Nina isn’t obvious within a few minutes of searching I think one should probably give up – but I too would be interested in knowing what the 118 connection is meant to be, at some point…

    2. The Nina is not difficult – I got it pretty quickly – unlike some of the more recent puzzles!

      I’ll spell it out a bit later

      1. Aah – got it now. Certainly not as weird as being expected to know London bus route numbers.

  5. I agree that this was on the easier side for Elgar (that’s all relative, of course) but full of his usual craftiness. Thanks to him and too Dutch for the decipherment. Top clues for me were 17a, 23a, 2d and 3d. I didn’t even look for the Nina because a) on past experience wth Elgar even if I find something I can’t understand it, and b) it’s too hot.

  6. I don’t think this was much easier than most other Elgars – certainly it took me twenty minutes after bedtime last night plus my whole commute to write in the last answer (with MEANS instead of PENNY sadly).

    My favourite was 3dn because I used to work with Mrs Black’s nephew (strangely his surname was White!) and because a seven letter word for “rock singer” ending with I baffled me for ages until it suddenly swam into view, at which point it was quite brilliant.

    Penultimate in 23ac (the capital gives a hint but is Apple, unqualified, really that city?), last one in 7dn which I thought of early on but I had real trouble thinking of “having seen” as being an indicator of “coming after”). 3dn was another one where I thought of the answer almost immediately and then couldn’t fill it in for ages until I finally saw exactly how it worked. A good puzzle as usual from the maestro but I honestly think they could stand to be *slightly* less tricksy throughout!

      1. It’s true that I might be having a little bit of an off day! But I think that today’s Times was hard is an objective fact, looking at the Club leaderboard.

    1. Cilla’s name is White – she changed it to Black as a stage name

      at one point I thought I’d spotted a theme – Cilla Black, Penny Black

    2. Hi Verlaine,
      I decided that his use of the ‘big’ A was enough to nail it to that city.

      1. Like many of Elgar’s clues, I find that one would be hard-pressed to say that it *doesn’t* work, but you can easily spend a fair bit of time thinking about how it skates close to the line… which I suppose is a mark of his genius really.

  7. OK the Nina is related to the first thing that came to my mind given 118 (perhaps UK specific)

    It starts with the first letter of 7d and goes down the diagonal, and of course there is a symmetry-related bit.

    Obvious once you’ve seen it…

    1. Thanks, Dutch. Of all the mind-numbingly dreadful ads on TV, theirs have to be amongst the worst!
      However, I do rather like the Samsung ostrich learning to fly!

  8. A delightful puzzle, thoroughly enjoyable. A few stabs in the dark, and I couldn’t see the Nina.
    Thank you Elgar and Dutch also.

  9. We did note the pangram and the Nina would have been meaningless to us even if we had found it. We got everything filled in apart from 18d and 23a but there was quite a lot of parsing where we had not sorted the finer points. Certainly not ‘fluffy’ for us.
    Thanks Elgar and Dutch.

  10. Needed 3 hints, but pleased with myself for getting all the others; I’ve never done that well with Elgar before. Something between 3 and 4* for difficulty, and about the same for enjoyment. My favourite was certainly 2d. Thanks to Elgar, and to Dutch.

  11. I’m still working on it. I have three left, all in the top left corner. Maybe by this time tomorrow…

    1. All done now, but I certainly needed the hints for parsing help on some. I don’t understand the nina at all, if I am in fact looking at Dutch’s hint correctly. Biggest smile was 23A. Thanks Elgar and Dutch.

      1. Hi Chris,
        Doesn’t it feel great to finish an Elgar – bet I never manage it again!
        Probably late enough now to spell out the Nina. In the UK, there is a company operating a very expensive directory enquiries service who regularly bombard our TV screens with the most cringe-worthy adverts. To use the service, one dials 118 118. It’s actually a subsidiary of an American company!
        The two relevant words are to be found in the grid – the first running diagonally left to right from the first letter of 7d and the second describing a similar diagonal starting from the 6th letter of 2d.

        1. Thanks, but you’re going to have to spell it out for me because when I follow the diagonals it makes no sense to me.

            1. Thanks Jane and Kitty. So obvious now. I was stupidly off on my diagonals and Deslod made no sense! I need a drink.

              1. You was clevorer than me on this Elgar today, my favourite Jane – and that won’t be the only occashun neither!

  12. I had a peek at this last night before going to bed. The first two across clues went in without too much pain and I decided that that might be a very good time to retire and go to sleep with the smug, before the reality that would inevitably bite.

    In truth it would have been ok to carry on for a while, as I was able to make steady (if not speedy) progress until I hit the wall with a few to go. I left the last couple plus a couple more to parse until after some beery brain nourishment this evening. This enabled me to get 23a but I still needed to cheat to finish 20d even though the first word was clear (I used the blog for the parsing too, though I daresay I could have worked out the right three letter word to look up … eventually). I needed Dutch to clarify 2d (got hung up on lore as a real word and totally failed to think homophonically) and 3d (easy enough now I see it … it’s rather annoying when you’ve managed most of something but there’s a pesky -esque or the like to thwart you at the end). I also wasn’t convinced by unfired meaning empty (12a), and wondered as an unimportant aside if 14a really needs the He’s.

    So maybe gentle for an Elgar, and I’d agree with 4* for difficulty on the Elgar scale, but I’m not sure it’s much – if any – less than 5* on the regular Toughie scale.

    I didn’t know 22a and I have to say that in an Elgar Toughie things I don’t know usually have to be cheatingly searched and then reverse-parsed – so it was lovely to have a friendly enough clue to enable me to work that out from the wordplay.

    Lots of really good stuff, but I’m too tired now to go hunt to remember what they were. Favourites were more abundant towards the beginning of the solve. I really liked the top and bottom row (and please allow me to be smug at having the right answer to 25a where Verlaine didn’t!).

    I typed “ugh” in a Skype conversation when I solved 6d, but it was (I think) the good type of “ugh” …

    The 118 brought the right theme to my mind but I still failed to find the nina. I did enjoy the treasures under the 1a 4a though.

    Many thanks to Elgar for the fiendish challenge and to Dutch for the sterling work in making it all clear.

  13. Not only our Elgar is very clever but he is also very witty.
    Had real fun while solving despite having a horrendous time at work.
    Appreciated the lower level of difficulty as I wasn’t prepared to suffer further.
    So many clues made me laugh. You’re a star.
    Thanks and thanks to Dutch for the review.

  14. Fun but doable – gentler than usual I agree.

    Until a while back Elgar seemed to always be slightly gentler here than in his other incarnations – well I thought he was. I can’t imagine many “back-page” regulars getting round some of the more recent stuff.

    This one should have broader appeal – but still full solving satisfaction.

    I particularly Liked the groanworthy puns. All the best puns (cf Fwank Muir) are groanworthy on account of their slight inexactness. The people who demand exact homophones – and then even bang on about how their own regional pronunciations differ – are robbing us of a lot of fun. I hope this approach catches on.

    Pangram shmangram – can’t be bothered with that – but thanks to Elgar for all the other fun and to Dutch for the blog – and for pointing out the Nina, which I would never otherwise have got – even if I’d gone looking for it at the time.

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