Toughie 1891 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
View closed comments 

Toughie 1891

Toughie No 1891 by Elkamere

Hints and tips by Dutch

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

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

Feels like it’s been a while since I’ve had the joy of blogging an Elkamere. I missed one over the summer, and some have appeared on other days. The last few I had seemed unusually kind and gentle. Not today – I found this one quite difficult. That is bound to please long-standing Elkamere fans, anyway. The first thing I noticed was the trademark concise clueing throughout, and I had a lot of fun unravelling all the clever wordplay.

Finding the definition can be half the battle and is key to understanding the clue. As always, the definitions are underlined below. The hints explain the wordplay, and if you must you can reveal the answer by clicking on the SPOILER buttons. Please leave a comment telling us what you thought.


1a    Supply column tracked vehicle (11)
CATERPILLAR: A word meaning to supply or provide plus a word meaning column

10a    My pick occasionally cuts very well (5)
YIKES: The even letters (occasionally) in pIcK go inside (cuts) a word meaning very well or OK

11a    A head beginning to pass port around with bread (3,6)
PER CAPITA: The first letter (beginning) of Pass, the reversal (around) of a port in Israel, plus a 4-letter Mediterranean bread

12a    A yell rang out, coming from the throat (9)
LARYNGEAL: An anagram (out) of A YELL RANG

13a    Controlled by software, evidently upset (5)
AILED: Split (1,1,3), where the first two letters are an abbreviation, the answer could mean controlled by software

14a    Wept, finding B&B in small dictionary (6)
SOBBED: Two B’s go inside the abbreviations for small and a well-known dictionary

16a    Racial problems for American state? (8)
COLORADO: Using American spelling, split (5,3) the answer could mean racial problems

18a    Invulnerable as band appearing in fringe (8)
IRONCLAD: Another word for band, appearing within the word FRINGE, could be said to be clothed within the chemical symbol of a metal (4,4)

20a    Having split, withstand betrayer (6)
WEASEL: Do what it says: split withstand into with stand – the first word becomes an abbreviation, the second is used by painters

23a    Must leave one following empty threat (5)
GOTTA: A 2-letter verb meaning leave, then a synonym for one follws the outer letters (empty) of threat

24a    One selling space station returned with rocket (9)
REPRIMAND: One selling or an agent, the reversal of a Russian space station, and a synonym for with

26a    Prophet put pig on cross (9)
ZOROASTER: A kind of pig well suited for the spit follows a cross or hybrid domestic cattle from the Himalayas

27a    Crowd’s run away, leaving band (5)
THONG: Remove the abbreviation for Run from a word meaning crowd

28a    One minister comes in to see executive (11)
DIRECTORATE: The Roman numeral for one plus a religious minister goes inside (comes in to) another word meaning to see (in a romantic sense)


2d    What’s wrong when wife’s right? I’m curious (5)
ASKER: Take a word that means wrong or awry and change the last W(ife) to R(ight)

3d    Hermit describes opening of Catch 22 (7)
ESSENCE: A Jewish hermit goes around (describes) the first letter (opening) of Catch

4d    Dearest dad’s bad mood (6)
POPPET: An informal word for dad plus a word for a bad mood

5d    Proud, working for Scottish Herald (4,4)
LORD LYON: A 6-letter word meaning proud or haughty plus a 2-letter word meaning working

6d    Areas without music house Native Americans (7)
ARAPAHO: Two abbreviations of Area surround a type of music which involving a boring spoken monologue, followed by the abbreviation for HOuse

7d    Strip search thus might be tricky work (7,2,4)
EYELESS IN GAZA: The definition refers to a novel by Aldous Huxley, though it seems there is also a band by the same name. The strip refers to a coastal region near Israel, and applying the title of this work, a search of it might indeed be tricky

8d    Venus possibly feeling early morning sun (8)
WILLIAMS: A feeling or wish, an early time in the morning, plus the abbreviation for Sun

9d    Serving soldiers meet with resistance? (4-6,3)
HARD-BOILED EGG: A breakfast cryptic definition. Just remember what you normally do with soldiers, and then think of what kind of serving might create resistance for them

15d    A lobster camouflaged as fish (8)
BLOATERS: An anagram (camouflaged) of A LOBSTER

17d    Put to death or turned into target for abuse (8)
GARROTTE: A reversal (turned) of OR goes inside (into) an anagram (for abuse) of TARGET

19d    Tea’s ready – I’ll get the bread (7)
CHAPATI: The usual crosswordese for tea, a 3-letter word meaning ready (as in ready for fluent or glib repetition having been exactly memorised) plus I from the clue

21d    I put out erotic novel – see cuts (7)
EVICTOR: An anagram (novel) of EROTIC is ‘cut’ by the Latin abbreviation for see (Vide)

22d    Bottle of solution in alcohol (6)
SPIRIT: Double definition

25d    Furthermore, footballers turned up (5)
AFOOT: Reversal (turned) of a 3-letter word for furthermore or also and an abbreviation for footballers

Plenty to like here, just about every clue had something special. However, 9d was a clear favourite for me – a brilliant cd. Which were your favourites?

20 comments on “Toughie 1891

  1. Thanks to Elkamere for a splendid puzzle and to the overworked Dutch for an excellent review with enjoyable illustrations. I liked masses of clues including 18a, 20a and 9d but I’ll pick out some with brilliantly camouflaged definitions, i.e. 10a, 11a, 7d and 25d.

  2. I can only echo Gazza’s comments.My last in was 25d; very few words fitted the checkers, but it still took me a long time to link the correct answer to the definition.

  3. Brilliant, without doubt – a bit too brilliant for me in fact. Ah well, can’t win ’em all.
    Having read the hints, I think I could have stared at this all day and still not finished it.
    Some fabulous ideas in the cluing, some of which I didn’t know were acceptable devices/constructions.
    Thank you Elkamere, and well done Dutch for deciphering that lot – a Toughie proper. *****/***

  4. The trickiest and best Elkamere/Dean Mayer puzzle I can ever remember. Solved it eventually, but couldn’t parse them all, e.g. 11a and 18a, so thanks to Dutch for the illumination. I particularly liked 13a, 16a, 20a, 24a, 3d, 6d, 25d and the brilliant 9d. Yes, a great Toughie !

  5. What a blinder and new knowledge to boot. DNK the Heraldic Court.Have to confess 10ac unparsed LOI 20 after the penny dropped for 8 doh ! TY Elkamere and Dutch

  6. Just had a quick look at Dutch’s preamble, having being out for most of the day. If even he is rating this one as a 5* then it looks as though I could have my work cut out tonight!

  7. Sadly, there was little joy for me today. I got a handful, but basically there were too many things I had never heard of. (The novel in 7d, the hermit in 3d, the Herald reference in 5d, the reference to bad mood in 4d, in the NW corner alone.) I had 18a and 23a penciled in. I couldn’t parse 18a – even with Dutch’s explanation. My hat is off in full admiration to those who were able to do this – but unforunatley, not me.

    1. For 18a the word ‘fringe’ contains a band (RING) which is inside the chemical symbol for iron (FE), so the band could be said to be wearing iron or to be iron-clad.

  8. Beyond Tough for us, into unsolvable territory. We needed Dutch’s hints for at least half a dozen.

    Well done Dutch and thanks to Elkamere.

  9. Time was when a puzzle from Dean did ‘exactly what it said on the tin’ and (with the exception of the odd musicians that few of us had ever heard of!) following the wordplay led to recognisable answers. Recently he has introduced more and more GK into his offerings and that, for me at least, has detracted from the enjoyment. As an example, the wordplay for ‘eyeless’ in 7d today would be highly unlikely to yield an answer unless one actually knew the book. ‘Eyelash in gaze’ or something to do with a ‘cyclist’ seemed every bit as plausible!

    Yes, there were some clever clues – 9d in particular – which reminded me of ‘the good old days’ but by and large I was left feeling rather disappointed.

    Apologies, Dean – I don’t think it’s just sour grapes although others may well believe differently!
    Many thanks to Dutch for undertaking double duty this week – very much appreciated.

  10. Beat me hands down. I actually got 7d from the shape but didn’t get the parsing until I read Dutch.

    Just to show I am awake, I think that your answer, Dutch, to 17d of Garotte should be Garrotte – it is 8 letters.

  11. It took a long time and much use of various aids, but I eventually got the grid filled and most of them parsed. Too much work for it to be classed as fun, but finishing was certainly satisfying. Lots of clever clues, of which 18a was my favourite. Thanks to Elkamere for the challenge and thanks to Dutch for explaining a few I couldn’t untangle and for a fine set of hints.

  12. I had a bit of a struggle with this at first but had two-thirds of it solved by last night. The last ten fell over breakfast this morning. What a difference a night’s sleep makes! I couldn’t parse 18a until I read Gazza’s comment. Tough but achievable.

  13. Plenty of blood, sweat and beers were spent on this. Needed to check the parsing of 18a & 19d. Elkamere really challenged us… I need more beer to get over this bad boy. Thanks to Dutch for the reassurance and Dean for the challenge.

  14. Apologies for the late arrival, but had no opportunity to call in yesterday.
    Many thanks Dutch for a great blog as ever, and sorry to those who didn’t have as much fun as I’d hoped. All I can say is it felt like a lot of fun to put together. Once it goes out, there’s no way of knowing if that will translate, but it’s all good – just one of those aspects of setting that goes with the territory.

    1. Thanks Elkamere for dropping in – this is something people really appreciate.

      No need for apologies, I thought the puzzle was excellent because it was challenging, don’t ever lose that aspect of your compiling (though i must admit that the Elkamere lites were also excellent value). Basically Dean, anything you do is brilliant.

  15. Lovely puzzle that I nevertheless ended up needing Word Wizard help with.
    I did get the very clever HARD-BOILED EGG though because it struck a chord, and I suspected Elkamere had used something similar before.

Comments are closed.