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Toughie 1935

Toughie No 1935 by Elgar

Hints and tips by Dutch

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

This is Elgar’s 123rd Telegraph Toughie, and it’s excellent as usual. “Difficult” would not be an appropriate word  for today’s puzzle. I managed to get a full grid without too much of a struggle, though I was left with a couple of parsing issues to sort out. There is the usual connection to the puzzle number, indicated by a clue mentioned in the ellipsed first three down clues (which itself is another nod at the puzzle number). Almost every clue is involved one way or the other – enjoy finding all the relevant mentions.

As always, the definitions are underlined. The hints are intended to explain the mechanics of the wordplay, and if you want you can reveal the answer by clicking the CINCH-A-DODDLE button. Please leave a note telling us how you got on


1a & 6a     Plain Sailing (it’s a surprise old recording about Disney stowing family away on ship) (1,4,2,3,4)
A WALK IN THE PARK: A 2-letter exclamation for ‘it’s a surprise’ plus an old vinyl recording that usually had two tracks on each side, going around (about) Disney’s first name which in turn goes around (stowing … away) a 3-letter word for family, plus a ship of the kind that rescued animals from a flood

9a     Duck Soup badly wanting US director to probe hoax insider appointment (2-8)
CO-OPTATION: The letter that looks like a duck cricket score plus an anagram (badly) of [s]O[u]P from which US is omitted (wanting) plus a French director famous for Mon Oncle and Les Vacances de M. Hulot, all inside (to probe) another word for hoax or swindle

10a & 12d Let oneself go and freely gratify one’s kleptomaniac urges? (4,6,4)
TAKE THINGS EASY: Two meanings, the second a mildly whimsical reference to stealing without a conscience or difficulty

13a     Newest lassie on manoeuvres – no sweat – makes territorial detachment? (7)
ENISLES: An anagram (on manoeuvres) of NEWEST LASSIE without the letters in SWEAT

15a     Headers from Ronaldo and Neymar missing – anyhow, more than comfortable (2,4)
AT HOME: An anagram (anyhow) of MO[r]E THA[n] without the first letters (headers) of Ronaldo and Neymar

16a     Elementary group VII choice after a bit of scientific enlightenment (6)
SATORI: Following (after) the first letter (a bit of) S[cientific], we have a choice of halogens – the group VII elements – expressed as their chemical symbols (** OR *)

17a     Last up to welcome learner is husband, well impressed (4-11)
LONG-ESTABLISHED: The ‘last up’ or the latest to rise in the morning would be the (7,4). All this goes around (to welcome) the abbreviation for Learner, IS from the clue, and the abbreviation for Husband

18a     ‘Not rocket science, Einstein’s principles,’ gathered wise old man (6)
NESTOR: An anagram (gathered) of NOT plus the first letters (principles) of Rocket Science Einstein

20a     Pushover that was Her Majesty’s undercover marksman (6)
SNIPER: An old word (that was) for pushover plus the usual abbreviation for the queen.

21a     Who’s gonna have trouble selling new coat? (7)
REPAINT: As suggested by ‘gonna’, the answer (split 3,4) is a colloquial way of saying that it won’t be the salesman

22a     Satisfactory? Nothing to talk about (4)
OKAY: The letter that looks like nothing or zero, plus a reversal (about) of an informal word meaning to talk or chat

25a & 24d It’s not hard to 10 for many, a BBC day off (5,4,1,4)
CANDY FROM A BABY: For 10 substitute the answer to 10a. An anagram (off) of FOR MANY A BBC DAY

26a     Woman in the north always fills iron (4)
FAYE: How you would say ‘always’ in the north goes inside (fills) the chemical symbol for iron

27a     A breeze ruffling lily-pads on eastern side of loch (6,4)
CHILD’S PLAY: An anagram (ruffling) of LILY PADS follows the right-hand half (eastern side) of loCH


1d     12 guides … (4)
ABCs: Two meanings – the first being the answer to 12d

2d     … See 11 Down…

3d     … simplest compound of its kind is a piece of cake to 18 (6)
KETONE: Hidden (a piece of ….) – you need to substitute the answer to 18a. I was confused by the definition, on asking Elgar it turns out it was edited – the original  clue had “simplest one, (CH3)2C=O”

4d     So as to preserve name, fashion store cuts blab about film (5,2,1,7)
NOTES ON A SCANDAL: SO AS from the clue contains (to preserve) the abbreviation for Name, followed by the name of an international clothing store with the ampersand spelled out, all inside the reversal (about) of a (3,2) expression meaning blab or reveal


5d     Sucker 15 putting last of shoes over last of four feet (6)
HOOVES: This sucker is a brand name, as is suggested when you substitute the answer for 15a – we just need to replace the last letter in fouR with the last letter in shoeS.

7d     Rising through time, The Old Man of Hoy’s inwardly flickering glimmer? (1,3,2,4)
A RAY OF HOPE: All reversed (rising), a 2-letter word meaning the old man goes inside (through) a long period of time, and contains (inwardly) and anagram (flickering) of OF HOY

8d     Don’t tell anyone I’m slightly alarmed about papers agent finally secreted in 6 (4,2,4)
KEEP IT DARK: A reversal (about) of an exclamation that you might use when you are slightly alarmed, then a 2-letter abbreviation for identification papers containing (secreted) the last (finally) letter of agent goes inside (in) the answer in 6a

11d & 2d Befogged, exhausted and ultimately flagging, refuse what’s effortless (7,3,1,3)
FALLING OFF A LOG: Inside FOG (befogged), we have a (3,2) expression for exhausted, the last letter (ultimately) of flagging, and another word for refuse or waste material (sometimes used to describe food you might not normally choose to eat)

12d     See 10a

13d     Cooking only this sovereign food is money for old rope (7)
EMPEROR: An anagram (cooking) of ONLY + [the answer] + FOOD gives MONEY FOR OLD ROPE

14d     Start to Sing Something Simple: soldier describes that as wise, ironically (7)
SAPIENT: The first letter (start to) of Sing, then something simple (simple as ***) is covered (describes that) by our 6-legged soldier friend

19d     What’s stopping unthinking makeover (6)
REHASH: A 2-letter exclamation for What? or Come again? goes inside (stopping) a word meaning unthinking or without due care

20d     Range of tobacco found in doss? Nuff said (6)
SNUFFS: Hidden (found in …)

23d     2-rolling frame that could be open for a gimme? (4)
GOAL: An anagram (rolling) of the answer for 2d, which when prefixed by open would mean a gimme

24d     See 25a

I liked the anagrams, especially 25a/24d and 13d. Also enjoyed 16a though it was a new word for me, and some of the quirkier ones like 21a and 23d – plenty more to like. Which clues were your favourites?









28 comments on “Toughie 1935

  1. You need to look at 12 d – 4-6-4 , not 4-2-4
    But nevertheless thanks your hints were very helpful for some the more ponderous clues ,
    And thanks to Elgar

  2. Thanks to Elgar for the usual excellent puzzle and to Dutch for the explanations. I thought that this was marginally less difficult than Elgar’s usual offerings, probably because several of the longer clues could be worked out from the enumeration and the theme with the wordplay following rather than the other way around. I’m rather glad the original clue for 3d was changed because I have no idea how that works (and chemical formulae make my brain freeze). Top clues for me were 21a and 27a.
    I thought we might have had a rendering of Len Barry’s 1-2-3!

    1. 3D – the answer is a type of organic compound, the simplest form of which is acetone, which was the formula

  3. Lordy lordy…… Reconstructing the clues with Dutch’s expert help took as long as it takes me to do the back page! If I live to be 100…….

    Thanks and reverence to both Elgar and Dutch.

  4. Very tough, but very rewarding.

    I had my eye out for a darts reference, 123 never wins a game.

    And wasn’t Faye Dunaway just stunning.

  5. What a strange puzzle – which I didn’t finish. Never heard of 4d which was not helpful for a start.

    I found the combination of lots of long phrases and the number of linked and cross-referenced clues, and the level of difficulty made for an uncomfortable (non-)solve. Too much going on in one puzzle for my little mind to handle. ***** / ***

    Many thanks for the challenge Elgar and thanks to Dutch for the hints.

    1. I couldn’t agree more. I take my hat off to solvers who can even understand Elgar’s clues, because much of what he writes is way beond my ken. This is in no way a criticism though – my aim is to crack the ‘master’ one day and get at least threequarters of the way onto his wavelength. Thanks to Dutch for hints etc.

      1. It’s practice, or exposure, whatever you want to call it. My first Elgar was hopeless. a few more and i got sort of half way. The pressure of writing a blog is an amazing drive to push you to complete a puzzle. I will admit that i was never able to complete Elgar puzzles until i started blogging them. I am somewhat more attuned to Elgar’s devious mind now, but I still struggle! I don’t always get everything, and for some puzzles I need to email a quick question to elgar, who has always been incredibly helpful – in terms of a steer, he doesn’t like to give me the answer!

  6. Damn and blast! Got within two answers of a full grid (although several were arrived at in the manner that Gazza alluded to) but was eventually defeated by 16a & 1d. Thought the latter was a bit unfair in its enumeration although the BRB tells me otherwise.

    New words for me at 9,13&16a – none of which I think will be of much use to me in anything other than tough crosswords!
    The 25/24 combo was probably my favourite.

    Thanks to Elgar for making this one rather more accessible than usual and to Dutch for so carefully unravelling it all.

  7. It is some nine hours since I solved this friendly-for-an-Elgar toughie and since then I’ve enjoyed a three course Christmas lunch and a couple of glasses of pink wine. I do remember spotting the 123 connection and enjoying the clues linked to it.

    Thanks to Elgar for the crossword and Dutch for the blog

  8. We got a completed grid in what for us is reasonable time for an Elgar, but with some of the answers, had enough of the wordplay to be assured we had the right answer but not totally parsed. Glad it was Dutch and not us writing the blog.
    Thanks Elgar and Dutch.

  9. Quite impossible! Went through with Dutch’s guide and realised I would never have improved on the 4 answers I managed in a month of Sundays. I’m overcome with admiration for those who deciphered this decidedly, to me, unfriendly puzzle. Definitely not 1a – though that was one of the few clues I got.

  10. Yeah, easy for an Elgar!

    I started this at night and when I fell asleep I dreamed, naturally, that I was doing battle with an Elgar. Other people’s dreams are seldom interesting so all I’ll say is that the dream progressed entirely logically …

    Unfortunately, but unsurprisingly, when I awoke I did not find a completed grid before me.

    Got most of the way there but had to discuss a few bits with a second cat-brain to finish. I really like Elgar at this level of difficulty — even if, as Gazza said, a lot of answers came from the theme and enumeration. Much enjoyed the detangling anyway.

    Thanks to Elgar for the mental exercise, and for a theme which was itself to spot, and to Dutch for scratching quite a few people’s brain-itches.

  11. Really enjoyed this but surely it should be principal letters and not principle in 18across?


    Thanks Elgar for an enjoyable Friday and not a beating head against wall Friday to Sun. And thank you Dutch

  12. I’m afraid I did not enjoy this. In general I am not a fan of inter-connected clues, and in this there just too many that I did not stand a chance on because I was not able to solve the clue on which it was based. I had the word play in 13a, but I had never heard of the territorial detachment. I had not heard of the film in 4d and several of the other expressions (the insider appointment in 9a, the compound in 6d, and others.) Many thanks to all – I am glad others enjoyed this.

  13. Been trying to finish this over a few beers. Mostly gentle by Elgar standards but I eventually gave up on 1d having half cheated 9a. A top class puzzle but slightly beyond my solving ability…

  14. ok

    Here’s a list of theme related stuff: Easy as 1,2,3

    the ellipsed down clue numbers 1,2,3


    10a/12d, with 12d being the theme
    first 4 letters of 20a

    middle 3 letters in 14d
    open 23d

    I thought perhaps 4d could be a reference to the do re mi song in sound of music, thereby also implication 7d (RAY), but Elgar says that was not intentional. I also thought the 17a grid entry could suggest easy.


    1a Plain Sailing

    9a Duck Soup

    13a no sweat

    15a comfortable

    16a elementary

    17a well impressed

    18a Not rocket science

    (21a who’s gonna have trouble?)

    22a nothing to talk about

    25a It’s not hard

    27a A breeze

    3d simplest + a piece of cake

    5d Sucker

    11d/2d what’s effortless

    13d money for old rope

    14d something simple

    19d unthinking

    20d doss

    23d a gimme

  15. Well, we finished this but, my oh my, we struggled to get there. We needed Dutch’s explanations to explain at least four bung-ins. 5* / 5* as a result.

    Best penny-drop moment was understanding the parsing of 16a.

    Thanks to Elgar and Dutch.

  16. Love the toughies and normally make a a decent stab of things. Not with Elgar though. Am none the wiser about 13d . Am I being thick? Emperor? Where is the anagram? Only? Help.

    1. Welcome to the blog, Dominic.
      The definition is sovereign and the clue is a compound anagram. If you make an anagram (cooking) of ONLY and EMPEROR (this sovereign, i.e. the answer) and FOOD you get ‘money for old rope’.

  17. We enjoyed this greatly and are very pleased with ourselves for finishing an Elgar by the next day even if we did need a couple of parsing explanations.
    Didn’t know the fashion store was still going.
    Can’t understand the 123 down ellipse business.
    Thanks to Elgar and Dutch.

  18. Not enough spaces to accommodate 25a and 24d. The answer has 14 letters but the grid has only 13 spaces!!!

  19. Excellent puzzle, with much to exercise the brain. Been pondering 16a since Friday night and never solved it (mostly/partly because I omitted to change R to S in 5d. Otherwise completed.

    Achieved some understanding of the 1-2-3, but unsure where it comes from.

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