Toughie 1879

Toughie No 1879 by Elgar

Hints and tips by Dutch

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

This is Elgar’s 120th Telegraph Toughie and it is of the usual high standard. I got off to a gentle start, courtesy of a few anagrams, but then it took me a fair while to fill the grid. The answers to the ellipsed clues (25, 27 & 28a) provide an additional task for the solver which leads to a two-part Nina (part 1, a title, part 2, his name) and the connection to 120 (think years).

As always, the definitions are underlined below. The hints aim at explaining the wordplay, and you can reveal the answers by clicking on the ALL BANDAGED UP buttons. Please leave a comment telling us what you thought.


1a     Such old salts initially saw in me, joining Navy? (7)
SHIPMEN: The first letter (initially) of Saw, another word for ‘in’, ME from the clue and the abbreviation for Navy

9a     Facetiously give a hand behind pub to introduce something new (8)
INNOVATE: A 3-letter pub after which (behind) we have a facetiously verbified word for (to give) a round of applause

10a     Silver Knight’s backer in stand? One sounds full of wind (7)
BAGPIPE: The chemical symbol for silver plus one of Gladys Knight’s backers, all inside a 2-letter verb that can mean stand



11a     Flab lost playing this? (8)
SOFTBALL: A semi all-in-one: an anagram (playing) of FLAB LOST

12a     One should get tough about one’s first shock treatment (6)
HAIRDO: The Roman numeral for one goes inside (should get … about) another word for tough, plus the first letter of One (one’s first)

13a     Even score with England captain: one for one? (6,4)
SQUARE ROOT: A verb (6) that means to even the score plus the name of the current England cricket captain. One for one exemplifies the answer, as does two for four or three for nine.

15a     That time on M1, what were you leaving London for? (4)
THEN: If you’re leaving London on the M1, you’re heading for (3,1)

16a     Belief that ink might be this in thing? (9)
INVISIBLE: If ink is this (the answer) in another word for belief, you would just see THING

21a     Fed whipped cream and gin but no fried rice (1-3)
G-MAN: An anagram (whipped) of CREAM and GIN from which an anagram (fried) of RICE is removed. The enumeration is a big help

22a     Hats off to Hobart series that’s accounted for boomerang? (5,5)
THROW STICK: The first letters (Hats off) of To and Hobart, another word (4) for series, and a mark indicating ‘that’s accounted for’.

24a     Agreeing to differ isn’t the last you’ll see of Mike Pence (2,4)
IN STEP: An anagram (to differ) of ISNT, the last letter (the last you’ll see) of Mike, and the abbreviation for pence

25a     I make God set about New Testament to name… (8)
IDENTIFY: I from the clue, plus a verb meaning ‘make god’ goes around (set about) the abbreviation for New Testament

27a     … possible sources of quicksilver writer … (1,1,5)
H G WELLS: Taken as (2,5), the answer would mean possible sources of quicksilver, i.e. mercury

28a     … this person occupying a throne corruptly – Macbeth, say? (8) (an extra task for solver)
ANTIHERO: A single-letter pronoun that would describe this person (from the setter’s perspective) goes inside an anagram (corruptly) of A THRONE

29a     Nothing short of evasive on e.g. Dolly’s depression (7)
CYCLONE: Remove the letter that looks like a zero (nothing) from a 3-letter word meaning evasive, and add what Dolly the sheep is an example of



2d     The yacht ad Times cut out given to splitters? (8)
HEADACHY: An anagram (out) of (t)HE YACH(t) AD, with the abbreviation for time removed (cut) twice (hence Times)

3d     Open ripe exotic Italian food (8)
PEPERONI: An anagram (exotic) of OPEN RIPE

4d     Bombs without G & T, perhaps? (10)
EXPLOSIVES: A 2-letter word that can mean without, and (in plural) a type of consonant exemplified by G or T

5d     Dope at work with Boris? (4)
INFO: Split (2,2), with the second word being an abbreviation, the answer indicates where you would be if you were at work with BoJo.

6d     Forward painter’s formal attire? (3,3)
BOW TIE: Remembering that a painter is a rope for fastening a boat, a forward one would be a …

7d     Filipino dog clearly hasn’t done the easiest thing! (7)
TAGALOG: Another word for dog or shadow sits on top of (1,3). The fact that it is still there and hasn’t fallen off means it clearly hasn’t done the easiest thing

8d     Settled in Rye – awful truth (7)
REALITY: A verb meaning settled or landed goes inside (in) an anagram (awful) of RYE

11d     Wily chap is about to reverse current, so I make my way through marshland (9)
SQUASHILY: Something a ‘wily chap is’ goes around (about) a verb meaning to reverse or reject, plus the physics symbol for current.

14d     Transport company upset royal with reproach (10)
REBUKINGLY: A reversal of a transport company (4) that gets a lot of media coverage and an adjective (6) meaning royal

17d     Not too bright, like set lecturer keeps quiet (8)
EGGSHELL: The 2-letter Latin abbreviation for like, or for instance, a 3-letter verb meaning to set and the abbreviation for Lecturer, then inside all that (keeps) we have a call for silence. The answer refers to paint etc. that only has a slight gloss (see brb)

18d     Something strategic about plea 21’s newly lodged (4,4)
GAME PLAN: An anagram (about) of plea is contained in (has lodged) an anagram (newly) of the answer to 21

19d     Proper Latin: this among other things (7)
ETHICAL: The Latin for ‘this’ goes inside (among) the Latin abbreviation for ‘other things’

20d     Feature of Inquisitor? Try clue requiring modifiation (7)
CRUELTY: An anagram (requiring modification) of TRY CLUE. Elgar, of course, is the editor for the Inquisitor puzzle which appears in the “I” newspaper on Saturday

23d     Greeting between two people who act strangely (6)
WOTCHA: An anagram (strangely) of WHO ACT

26d     Order to be delivered to Head of MI6 (4)
FORM: A 3-letter word meaning ‘to be delivered to’ (as might be written on an envelope) plus the first letter (head) of MI6

Lots of great clues, but I think my favourite bit was ‘Knight’s backer’ in 10a. Which clues did you like?



  1. crypticsue
    Posted September 8, 2017 at 2:07 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Very enjoyable, thank you Elgar
    Got the Nina :yahoo:
    Across favourite – 27a
    Down favourite – 6d

  2. Gazza
    Posted September 8, 2017 at 2:14 pm | Permalink | Reply

    I thought that this was a bit gentler than what Elgar usually provides, helped by a generous scattering of anagrams, but as enjoyable as ever. I thought (and hoped) that he’d given up the (mostly impenetrable to me) numeric series of Ninas and this time given us one which is much easier to find, helped by the explicit instruction telling us what to look for, but I see that Dutch has found a tenuous link to the relevant number.
    I ticked 10a, 15a, 7d and 19a but my favourite, for the laugh, was 5d. Thanks to Elgar and to Dutch.

    • Dutch
      Posted September 8, 2017 at 2:33 pm | Permalink | Reply

      Actually I didn’t find it, had to ask….

  3. jane
    Posted September 8, 2017 at 2:25 pm | Permalink | Reply

    I know I’m not going to finish it but I am still trying. Won’t look at the hints/review just yet.

    • jane
      Posted September 8, 2017 at 4:00 pm | Permalink | Reply

      No, I didn’t quite get there but only had about half a dozen failures which is an improvement for me.
      Some clever clues here such as 10&29a plus 5&19d but over all I find Elgar too tough to really enjoy.
      Not knowing the name of the character in the Nina didn’t help!

      Apologies to Elgar for my lack of ability and many thanks to Dutch for providing the explanations. Hope you enjoyed your holiday.

      • dutch
        Posted September 8, 2017 at 4:19 pm | Permalink | Reply

        it was wonderful thanks Jane, but over too soon.

        • jane
          Posted September 8, 2017 at 4:57 pm | Permalink | Reply

          That’s the sign of a really good holiday, Dutch. Nothing worse than counting the days until you can leave!

  4. JB
    Posted September 8, 2017 at 3:02 pm | Permalink | Reply

    I just do not understand ninas! I know they are hidden somewhere between the answers but I cannot for the life of me find them. A little help please.

    • dutch
      Posted September 8, 2017 at 3:22 pm | Permalink | Reply

      (1) first 3 letters of 15a,16a, last 3 letters of 21a
      (2) start with the last letter of 7d and go back diagonally upwards

      • JB
        Posted September 8, 2017 at 6:23 pm | Permalink | Reply

        Goodness! I would never have seen that. Just one thing, doesn’t it link to 27a and not Macbeth or, more than likely, I’m missing something else?

        • Gazza
          Posted September 8, 2017 at 6:32 pm | Permalink | Reply

          You need to obey the instruction in the answers to the three ellipsis-linked clues 25a, 27a, 28a.

        • dutch
          Posted September 8, 2017 at 6:34 pm | Permalink | Reply

          the ‘extra task for the solver’ mentioned in 28a, as described at the start of the blog, is the answers to 25a, 27a, and 28a – the clues connected with ellipses. Does that answer your question?

          • JB
            Posted September 8, 2017 at 7:27 pm | Permalink | Reply

            Yes, I do see. However, I don’t like to think of The Invisible Man as an anti hero because I remember David McCallum playing him when he was young and dishy! Thank you for your efforts.

            • dutch
              Posted September 8, 2017 at 9:41 pm | Permalink | Reply

              He was in the book

              • JB
                Posted September 9, 2017 at 7:10 am | Permalink | Reply

                So I presumed. What fools television can make of us!

                • dutch
                  Posted September 9, 2017 at 9:55 am | Permalink | Reply

                  wait a minute, how could you tell he was dishy?

                  • JB
                    Posted September 10, 2017 at 8:13 am | Permalink | Reply

                    I take your point. There were moments when David was visible and I went on past performance. Oh dear, it reminds me of how young and impressionable I was!

  5. Physicist
    Posted September 8, 2017 at 3:41 pm | Permalink | Reply

    An excellent challenge, as always from this setter. I needed a hint for 7d, so thanks to Dutch and Elgar. Favourite was 27a.

  6. LetterboxRoy
    Posted September 8, 2017 at 3:56 pm | Permalink | Reply

    That’s just about as difficult as I can handle without my brain melting and oozing out of my ears – help was required. Wouldn’t have seen the Nina in a hundred years (thanks Dutch), then had to look up how it works – brilliant.

    Thanks Elgar for boggling my mind, and to Dutch for sorting it all out. First ever *****/*****

  7. Tony
    Posted September 8, 2017 at 4:39 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Well, I did far better than I expected to. In the end, the only one I was missing was 7d, which I had never heard of. The word play did not help me get anywhere near, and the checkers happened not to be helpful either. I was fortunate with 10a – I wasn’t aware of the Knight reference, and with 13a – in my part of the world cricket does not remotely register on any radar. I did very much enjoy the challenge, but I was disappointed to have come so close . . . and yet not be able to finish. Many thanks to all.

  8. jean-luc cheval
    Posted September 8, 2017 at 6:47 pm | Permalink | Reply

    All the corners fell in quite smoothly but the core of the crossword remained empty for quite a while.
    Needed the hints to complete.
    Thanks to Elgar for the challenge and to Dutch for the help.

  9. Sheffieldsy
    Posted September 8, 2017 at 7:54 pm | Permalink | Reply

    OK, Dutch. What’s the Nina from the last letter of 7d got to do with anything, please?

    We had gaspipe for 19a simply because when we got the Knight reference we were so thoroughly entertained we forgot that we should also be serious solvers and check our answer properly.

    Definitely 5*/5* and so many clues to like.

    Thanks to Dutch and to Elgar for a beauty.

    • jane
      Posted September 8, 2017 at 9:04 pm | Permalink | Reply

      If you look up your answer to the other Nina you’ll find the other answer there. As Dutch said in his preamble – part one is a title, part two is his name.

    • dutch
      Posted September 8, 2017 at 9:42 pm | Permalink | Reply

      Yes, it’s the name of the character in the book – though it only gets mentioned about half way through

      • Sheffieldsy
        Posted September 8, 2017 at 10:04 pm | Permalink | Reply

        OK, thanks. It’s not a book either of us have ever read! Then, strangely, another character is Thomas Marvel (so Google tells us) and that’s at 6d on the back pager!

  10. 2Kiwis
    Posted September 8, 2017 at 8:03 pm | Permalink | Reply

    We eventually got everything sorted apart from the name for the second part of the Nina and the 120 reference. Initially we thought that the words in brackets after the enumeration for 28a were an editorial comment that had not been removed before publishing. We were wrong. (Sorry Phil). Think this is the best we have ever done with an Elgar Toughie but it did take us a long time and a bit of electronic assistance.
    Thanks Elgar and Dutch.

  11. Salty Dog
    Posted September 8, 2017 at 8:37 pm | Permalink | Reply

    I’ve never cracked an Elgar without help, and this time was no different. I needed 6 hints, for which thanks to Dutch. In all honesty, l couldn’t score the difficulty less than 4.5*. 12a was my favourite. Thanks to Elgar, and Dutch.

  12. Mac
    Posted September 9, 2017 at 10:26 am | Permalink | Reply

    Having got 9a, 8d and 13a in fairly short order, I thought that this might be an easier Elgar than usual. I was wrong. Still, I got through it with a bit of electronic help.

    I didn’t like 7d much. It seems to me that the clue didn’t lead to the answer; you had to know the answer before you could understand the clue. Even then, I had to read Dutch’s hint twice before I got it. Is it supposed to be like this?

  13. Posted September 9, 2017 at 10:46 am | Permalink | Reply

    Welcome back Dutch!

    Glad you are no longer The Invisible Man here – good to see you. :)

    Grr – so close to a near perfect Elgar solve, but I went and spoiled it by making a stupid mistake. I’d carelessly entered football into 11a, which made 11d impossible. Once I’d asked the site to check my answers, all was clear.

    Also, I only found one part of the nina (the horizontal bit), so that’s another mark deducted.

    Oh well, lots of fun. I do like Elgar at this difficulty level. Hard but not completely impossible. Like Dutch I found I made a good start but then slo-o-o-o-wed right down. I’d completed over half of the clues (including the dratted mistake) yesterday morning, before I went on a nice long walk. The rest took a bit more muttering and scowling, made up for by smiles and “aha!”s when they toppled.

    Thanks to Elgar and Dutch.

  14. Posted September 9, 2017 at 8:24 pm | Permalink | Reply

    This must have been an oversight by Mr. E as we (nearly) completed this in under two days. We had answers for everything ,except 7d and needed help with the parsing of a couple of clues, but to be even honest the hints for 7d didn’t help. Thanks to Messrs. Dutch & Elgar. Looking forward to one-to-one.
    The nina passed us by, we also thought that thing in brackets was a mistake, and had never come across the term elipsed clues. So much to learn, so little time, so much beer 🙄.

    • jane
      Posted September 9, 2017 at 8:48 pm | Permalink | Reply

      Try thinking of the phrase – ‘it’s as easy as falling off a log’.

  15. Verlaine
    Posted September 12, 2017 at 11:17 am | Permalink | Reply

    I did this on Friday but forgot to come and check until know! Glad I did – I can’t remember if I spotter Gladys’ backer and it is definitely only just now that the light has dawned about the dog falling off a log. Many thanks Dutch and of course Elgar – this is just the right level of overwrought cluing I want from my Elgar puzzles. I spotted about half of the Nina which is pretty good by my lights. The periodical Elgar is definitely the highlight of my Toughie-solving experience, much though I may occasionally carp!

  16. Stuart
    Posted November 5, 2017 at 12:22 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Many thanks Elgar from fellow Crouchenders

    A real treat and some lovely word play

    Please do let us know the pub you like and it will be a pleasure to thank you in person with a pint or three

    Stuart and Miranda

    • Posted November 5, 2017 at 11:11 pm | Permalink | Reply

      Welcome to the blog Stuart and Miranda

      Did you by any chance see Elgar at the Bewdley Festival? The program used a very old bio – he now lives in York with his wife and Tess the Lurcher.

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