Toughie 1959 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 1959

Toughie No 1959 by Elkamere

Hints and tips by Dutch

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

A clear blue sky in Macclesfield, an Elkamere to blog, and then a train to London where I hope I will see many of you at Big Dave’s Birthday Bash. What more could I want? A most enjoyable puzzle today, as usual from this setter. Some clues may appear impenetrable at first but everything falls into place nicely once you have a few checkers. Somehow, I was reasonably “on-wavelength” and it didn’t me that long. It helped that I saw the long clues early on (although for both 2d and 7d I initially bunged in the wrong last word, soon corrected by the crossers).

As always, the definitions are underlined for you in the clues below. That is half the battle in the decryption. The hints and tips aim to help you unravel the wordplay, but if that is not enough you can reveal the answer by clicking on the Join us for drinks at the Paddington Novotel from 6:30pm tonight! buttons. Please leave a comment telling us what you thought.


1a    Earth in this box — is it seeded for showers? (14)
EXHIBITIONISTS: The abbreviation for Earth (as on an electrical plug) plus an anagram (seeded) of IN THIS BOX IS IT

9a    I really work as a joiner (7)
GRAFTER: Two meanings, the second one surgical perhaps

10a    Saying ‘farm animal’ when ‘horse’ about covers it (7)
EPIGRAM: A 3-letter farm animal is contained within (when … covers it) a reversal (about) of a female horse

11a    Artist‘s work always rejected (4)
GOYA: A 2-letter verb meaning to work or to function plus a reversal (rejected) of another word for always

12a    Small lakes around NE Trent (6,4)
LITTLE NELL: Another word for small plus two abbreviations for Lake (lakeS plural) contain (around) NE from the clue. The answer is a Charles Dickens character with the surname Trent

14a    Spirit available after fermented drink knocked over (6)
DAEMON: A 2-letter word meaning available follows the reversal (knocked over) of an alcoholic brew made from honey

15a    Cold alpine area in China (8)
CROCKERY: The abbreviation for Cold plus an area where you might grow alpine plants

17a    Coffee provides opening for brown sugar (8)
FLATTERY: A type of coffee named after milk goes inside (provides opening for …) a 3-letter verb meaning to brown (as in food)

18a    Unopened fruit is pineapple (6)
ANANAS: Some fruit without the first letter (unopened)

21a    Old schools see graduates going through changes (4,6)
ALMA MATERS: Twice the abbreviation of a university degree (graduateS plural) goes inside (going through) a word meaning changes

22a    Make an appearance (4)
FORM: Two meanings, as in to create and something’s shape

24a    Oddball learns to hide adult magazine (7)
ARSENAL: An anagram (oddball) of LEARNS contains (to hide) the abbreviation for Adult (in movie classification)

25a    Attempt to cover old Bee Gees song (7)
TRAGEDY: A 3-letter attempts to cover another word for old.

26a    Blanket in place of tablecloth (6-3-5)
ACROSS-THE-BOARD: Where a tablecloth would be placed…


1d    In desperate need, silence promised (7)
ENGAGED: A 3-letter verb meaning to silence goes inside (in) an anagram (desperate) of NEED

2d    Are its exponents all lead guitarists? (5,5,5)
HEAVY METAL MUSIC: A cryptic definition playing on lead

3d    Save talking for the end (4)
BUTT: Homophone (talking) of a 3-letter word for save

4d    Turned up to make ditch flowery (6)
TURGID: The reversal (turned up) of a (3,3) combination that would mean make ditch

5d    Approach open river (8)
OVERTURE: A 5-letter word meaning open plus a Yorkshire river

6d    Colourful flag, slightly depleted stock (10)
IRIDESCENT: A 4-letter flag without it’s last letter (slightly depleted) plus a word for stock or ancestry

7d    A bit of a play with some songs (10,5)
THREEPENNY OPERA: A cryptic definition for the name of a play with music (by Brecht and Hauptman), with a play on ‘bit’ referring to the first word.

8d    Use them on the move (6)
EMPLOY: A 2-letter contraction of them plus another word for a move or manoeuvre

13d    Glide through the air (10)
PORTAMENTO: A cryptic definition for a musical instruction to glide between notes

16d    Gases in jar — I should add bottles (8)
PRATTLES: A 6-letter verb meaning to jar or shock is contained by (bottles) the abbreviation for an addendum (‘I should add’)

17d    Handbags emptied for mediators (6)
FRACAS: F(o)R without the central letter (emptied) plus the abbreviation for an independent organisation that helps with industrial disputes

19d    Dog bones you found in grave (7)
SAMOYED: An abbreviation for a professional nicknamed bones plus an old word for you go inside (found in) a word which usually means sorrowful but can mean serious or grave

20d    Rat with cat (6)
WRETCH: The abbreviation for With plus a verb meaning to cat

23d    Insult second choice pub? (4)
BARB: Split (3,1), the answer would suggest a second-choice pub

I loved the brevity and rhyme in 20d. My top 3 clues were 21a, 24a, and especially 25a – brilliant! Many more I thought were excellent. Which clues did you like?

17 comments on “Toughie 1959

  1. Thank goodness for Elkamere – not his toughest Toughie, or else I’m very much on his wavelength these days – but what fun. I’ll even forgive him for the dreadful earworm inducing 25a.

  2. Yes, lots to enjoy today. I found this mostly not as sharply antlered as the usual Elk and around average Toughie toughosity, but at the end I used a little help to get finished. I can’t pick a favourite.

    Thanks Elkamere and Dutch – see you soon. :)

  3. Yes, this did seem one of the setter’s gentler offerings, but the usual precise use of ambivalent words made this a lot of fun. I will have a little kvetch about 13d – I’m not sure a cryptic definition is an appropriate arena for foreign/technical vocabulary? Fortunately I located the word from somewhere at the back of my mind, but not before I’d half-written in a foolish GLISSANDO. Does “retch” really often mean “cat”? Kitty’s not THAT bad!

    Thanks Elkamere and Dutch and see some of you tomorrow I expect.

  4. I found this pretty tough, but I guess that is the point. I can not find a source to confirm ‘to cat’ meaning ‘to retch’, is my BRB too old, or am I being thick.

      1. Thank you – that bugged me too – couldn’t find it anywhere but knew (well, thought) that my answer had to be right.

      2. Thanks Gaga, I think I might treat myself to a new BRB, these new words / definitions seem to be cropping up with increasing frequency.

  5. Very enjoyable puzzle and not overly difficult though I did have to verify that I was on the right track with the Dickens surname, the musical glide and the sick cat. Top clues for me were 16d and 17d.
    Thanks to Elkamere and Dutch.

  6. Looks like we had to verify the same answers an Gazza, plus the brand of handbags, but one of our team does claim that she knew the cat. We also started off with the wrong third word for 2d and bet this was the same one that Dutch started with. Good fun and much enjoyed.
    Thanks Elkamere and Dutch.

  7. Wonderfully blogged as ever Dutch – thank you!
    And hugs / hellos / suspicious sideways glances to all at the London do. Sorry I couldn’t be there but, you know, London.

    1. thanks Elkamere – hope you appreciated the fretless bass pic for the gliding notes in 13d

      have just spent a wonderful evening with deep threat, jean-luc, shropshirelad, jane, kitty, mr kitty, etc – bed time now.

  8. Very clever crossword. Found it much harder than you lot by the comments. thanks all, happy saturdays

  9. :phew: more than tricky enough for me although I did manage most of it which is a first for an Elkamere.
    Very enjoyable and the more of these I try the more I might, eventually, be able to do.
    Thanks to Elkamere for the crossword and to Dutch for filling in the gaps that I couldn’t do/understand.

  10. Well into **** for difficulty here, with help needed here and there. Well done to anyone who found this on the easy side. :-)

  11. Completed in 3* time but l confess to needing a hint for 16d. I’d probably have got there unaided, but not until post-mucking-out coffee tomorrow morning. Not sure about my favourite clue – there were lots of good ones – but l liked 10a. Thanks to the Elk, and of course Dutch.

  12. Oh my – this was a dreadful day for me. I could not get a foothold anywhere and ended up with exactly six answers scattered across the grid. Of the many I did not get, looking at Dutch’s review, I should have been able to get about a third, but the others were sufficiently abstruse that I would have never unravelled them (the handbags in 17d and the bit in 7d for instance) At least ***** in difficulty for me, and very little enjoyment. I am glad others enjoyed this and, my admiration for those who could untangle this. Many thanks to all.

  13. We didn’t get very far with this on Friday but, today, over a takeaway curry, we got there.

    Most enjoyable but have never come across the musical term before.

    Thanks to Dutch and Elkamere. Enjoy the birthday bash!

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