Toughie 1979 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 1979

Toughie No 1979 by Elkamere

Hints and tips by Dutch

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

Today is turning out just fine. School is cancelled so I got a lie-in, and then instead of bracing the cold I get to blog an Elkamere. It’s also my wife’s birthday – I’m waiting for my son to surface before we give her presents. Looking forward to a meal out tonight, though we’ll likely walk into town instead of driving. My car likes to go sideways if it can smell any snow. Typical Elkamere today, a joy to solve, very satisfying without being OTT difficult, a few old friends to get us started (8d, 18a), great concise and accurate clueing throughout, plenty of smooth surfaces and a few chuckles on the way. Hard to imagine what more you could possibly want.

As always, definitions are underlined and the hints are intended to help you unravel the wordplay. You can always click the TICK TOCK buttons to reveal the answer. Please leave a comment telling us what you thought.


1a    Hell created by Elgar’s first puzzle (6)
EREBUS: The first letter of Elgar plus a kind of picture puzzle

5a    Given one’s apparently sleeping, given a name (8)
BAPTISED: A 3-letter word meaning given (as in given to, prone to or inclined to) plus the Roman numeral for one together with the apostrophe S are apparently sleeping, i.e., they are in ***.

9a    One type of junction in the neighbourhood (10)
ROUNDABOUT: Two meanings

10a    We should set about following new driver (4)
LET’S: An anagram (about) of SET comes after the abbreviation seen on the car of a new driver

11a    Turning over child, say ‘Here we go!’ (8)
GERONIMO: Reversal (turning) of the cricket abbreviation for Over, a person who is not an adult, and the Latin abbreviation for say or for example

12a    Bend a hot pipe (6)
HOOKAH: Another word for bend, A from the clue and the abbreviation for Hot

13a    Order parts for old wind instrument (4)
OBOE: An order or honour parts to allow insertion of the abbreviation for Old

15a    Cook drowned in boiling water (8)
IRRIGATE: A 3-letter word meaning cook or fix (eg the books) is immersed in (drowned in) a word for boiling or angry

18a    Prospect of soldiers invading country (8)
PANORAMA: An abbreviation for soldiers goes inside (invading) a central american country

19a    What a shame — line’s crooked (4)
AWRY: An exclamation meaning what a shame plus the abbreviation for Railway (lines)

21a    Scottish Presbyterian announced strikes (6)
KNOCKS: A homophone (announced) of a Scottish Presbyterian John ****.

23a    Cavers abandoned first pair to search abyss (8)
CREVASSE: An anagram (abandoned) of CAVERS plus the first two letters (first pair) of SEarch.

25a    A biological group‘s exact area (4)
TAXA: A verb meaning to exact or demand (money-wise, perhaps) plus the abbreviation for Area. Hm, isn’t the answer plural..?

26a    Habitual criminal runs enemy over, then guard (10)
REOFFENDER: The cricket abbreviation for Runs, the reversal (over) of a 3-letter enemy, plus a guard in front of a hearth (or in the US, a mudguard or wing of a car)

27a    Around 1pm, block squirrel (8)
CHIPMUNK: Another word for block or a thick piece goes around IPM (where the one is converted to the Roman numeral)

28a    Reveal story about leaders of the Tories (6)
TATTLE: A 4-letter story goes about the first letters (leaders) of The Tories


2d    River — perfect river (5)
RHONE: The abbreviation for river and a verb meaning to perfect

3d    Robber‘s waistcoat with cuts (9)
BANDOLERO: A short Spanish jacket or waistcoat is cut by another word for ‘with’

4d    Still over the moon when City’s lost (6)
STATIC: Take an 8-letter word meaning over the moon and remove the 2-letter postode for the London area known as the city from the front.

5d    Wound that may affect fertility? (10,5)
BIOLOGICAL CLOCK: Cryptic definition with a play on wound. When this is “wound”, you may be past it! I sort of have to read it with a comma after wound.

6d    Many drove to see part of China (8)
POTSHERD: A 4-letter word that could mean many plus a drove of cattle

7d    Grunt about facilities in northern house (5)
IGLOO: The reversal (about) of an American soldier, plus a word for facilities

8d    Fan of old farming equipment (9)
EXTRACTOR: A prefix meaning old plus a farm vehicle

14d    To convert drunk in bar used to be hard (9)
BRAINWASH: An anagram (drunk) of IN BAR, plus a verb meaning ‘used to be’ and the abbreviation for Hard

16d    Gets to break up dirty old man’s fight (2,7)
GO AGAINST: Another word for gets or obtains goes inside a 4-letter word for a dirty old man

17d    Catch a US fraudster’s secret wife? (8)
HAUSFRAU: Hidden (…’s secret)

20d    Want deposit — banking price raised (3,3)
SEE FIT: A 3-letter verb for deposit contains (banking) the reversal (raised) of price or charge

22d    Charlie’s light grip (5)
CLAMP: The letter represented by the international radio code word Charlie, plus a light

24d    Pull or stretch (5)
SPELL: Two meanings, the first as in charm or attraction, the second as in a period of time

My favourites today included “drunk in bar” (14d), the drowned cook (15a), the long cryptic definition, the smooth football surface in 4d, and more – which clues did you like?

34 comments on “Toughie 1979

  1. Just brilliant. This puzzle delivered what was probably the most fun I have ever had untangling wordplay. I think I have ticks beside more than half of the clues. In fact the only clue that didn’t do it for me was 5d. I hadn’t met the dirty old man before, so verification by BRB was required there. Impossible to choose a favourite today, but I think the biggest smiles came from 5a, 13a, 3d, and 14d. Thanks to Elkamere and to Dutch. Love the 4d pic.

    1. Ah, the 4d pic was not kosher, it was an alternative interpretation of the answer – i should try to illustrate the answer itself

      1. She’s not moving, so you could say it illustrates both interpretations. I liked it because it’s a striking image and because it’s explained by physics.

  2. Braving the cold??? Not a thing we’ll be doing today given that our east facing windows are all covered in ice from the ‘freezing rain’ earlier and that means the roads will have black ice

    I’d have given this 4* difficulty, even allowing for the old friends. Took me a while, even with the obvious wordplay, to see that the solution was a word I’d normally spell with a hyphen

    Thanks to Elkamere and Dutch – happy birthday to Mevrouw D

  3. I took quite a while on this puzzle today. A number of bung-ins I am sorry to say – when the parsing eluded me! An example being 5a. It was clear what the answer was but the ‘apparently’ had me confused. I had to look up the Presbyterians as religion is not my strong point at all.

    But some learning is always good.

  4. A lovely puzzle with lots to enjoy – thanks Elkamere and Dutch. My last answer was 25a and, having found that ‘pata’ isn’t a proper word, I revealed a letter to get the right answer (a new word for me, which, as Dutch says, is a plural form according to the BRB and doesn’t seem to match the singular definition).
    The clues which I liked most were 15a, 5d, 16d and the brilliantly hidden 17d.

  5. A laugh from clue 1 and concise elegant clues. No prizes for guessing the setter here. Fitting my pattern for this week, I initially made good progress for an Elk but had a few to chew over at the end.

    Not going to grr but it was in the end a Did Not Finish for me as I’d made a wrong guess at 25a. (Pata seemed plausible to my furry brain.) Think I also had to jog my memory for 3d.

    I couldn’t quite get 5d to work for me, not that it caused any problems.

    As I said, 1a amused me. My favourites are 15a, 2d and 4d.

    Thanks to the Macclesfield pair for the crossword and the review. A very Happy Birthday to Dutch’s lovely dutch . Enjoy your meal later – and, with the smell of both snow and alcohol in the air, please don’t slip over!

  6. This was great fun from beginning to end and a nice difficulty level.

    We enjoyed 7d and 15d but had to pick 11a as our overall favourite.

    6d we dragged from our memory banks (haven’t we seen this as an answer in the last year?). 17a was a lovely lurker.

    Thanks to Dutch and Elkamere.

    1. Most recent appearance of 6d that I can find is Drops the crocks? See what results (8) from DT 27869 on 1 August, 2015.

      I knew it because they’re common in some areas where I’ve hiked:

      1. Thanks, Mr K. It wasn’t as long ago as 2015 so maybe it was in the occasional Times or Guardian that we do.

        1. Last appearance in a Guardian Cryptic was 2010, so perhaps it was the Times. I don’t have data on that series so I can’t check.

  7. 5d was a sticking point for me too, along with 25a.
    Otherwise good, steady progress was made – 17d, 14d or 12a favourites, but plenty to choose from.

    Thanks Elkamere and Dutch, agree with rating.

  8. Hello all from an unbelievably cold Macclesfield. Thankfully we don’t have much snow, but it’s a very brave and hardy Dutch to be venturing out there on foot. Have a great evening, and many happy returns to Mrs Dutch.
    I’m too nesh to venture out, so it’ll be an evening of live streaming my favourite video game via YouTube.

    1. many thanks Elkamere for dropping in.

      well a take-away delivery might be interesting too….

  9. Obviously in a minority of one here but I don’t find Elkamere’s puzzles as much fun as they used to be. Having said that, 1a did make me laugh – pity the ‘first’ had to be in there for the wordplay, every Elgar is ‘hell’ for me!

    New words learned in 1a plus 6&17d and I didn’t know anything about Mr Grunt until I asked Mr Google about him.

    Top three for me were 15a plus 3&14d.

    Thanks to Elkamere/Dean and to Dutch for the blog – hope your good lady enjoys her birthday celebration tonight.

  10. Another great crossword to finish the toughie week.
    With this kind of grid, I was looking for a Nina on each side and guess what, the right side is an anagram of DE HYERES which is where I come from. So thanks to Elkamere and to Dutch for the review.

      1. Just interested, but do you all meet the setters at your bashes?
        And are there cryptic crosswords in other languages?

        1. yes, the bashes are called S&B’s for sloggers and betters, meaning bloggers and setters in a spoonerism way, so yes, the setters are there and we meet them – they are nice people, entirely human i like to think.

          and there are cryptic crosswords in other languages, though personally i believe english lends itself more to all the kinds of ambiguities we need for an enjoyable puzzle.

            1. I asked about foreign language cryptics in a blog intro last year after I encountered a Hindi crossword. Have a look in particular at the threads beginning at #4, #20, and #31 (a detailed answer from Dutch) in the comments on this blog.

              1. Interesting reading and thanks for the reply.
                I do possess a hindustani / Russian dictionary, but my Russian is all but forgotten so it wouldn’t be much help. Think I’ll just stick to the DT ST and Times!
                Off to get the paper now. Luckily we only had an inch of snow, which has practically gone in the lovely sunshine.
                Thanks again

  11. As always, good surfaces and humour, two essentials for a good crossword, far as I’m concerned. So thanks, Elkamere

  12. I very much enjoyed this. It was a slow a steady solve for me with the SE corner being the slowest and steadiest. I was able to get 5d relatively early which gave me lots of helpful checkers. Many thanks to all.

  13. Had a problem with 25a as mentioned above but otherwise a really good fun puzzle with lots of smiles and chuckles along the way.
    Thanks Elkamere and Dutch.

  14. Crikey, that was really tough, but I guess the clue is in the name “Toughie”! It took me several sessions and quite a bit of electronic help to polish this off but it was a lot of fun and just the job on a freezing cold afternoon.

    25a would only have needed a tiny tweak, e.g.: “biological groups’ exact area”, and it was a real shame that this clue was a huge giveaway for 5d. Like others I didn’t know the dirty old man in 16d and I wasted some time trying to make 6d start with “lots”.

    Many thanks to Elkamere and to Dutch.

  15. A fantastic puzzle to end the Toughie week. On the difficult side as expected but worth every minute. Last in 25ac which felt like a new word but turns out to be obviously a variant on something I knew.

  16. Worked out 25a but had to verify it electronically, as it does not seem to be in my BRB. Got stuck on 20d and 24d. My bung-in for 20d was quite wrong; 24d was a toss-up between ‘spell’ and ‘swell’ and I chose the wrong one. I couldn’t equate ‘pull’ with ‘spell’.

    1. Mac, it’s in our BRB. It’s under “taxon” and taxa is down as the plural.

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