Toughie 2011 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 2011

Toughie No 2011 by Elgar

Hints and tips by Dutch

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

This is Elgar’s 126th Telegraph Toughie. That figure points to key down clues and also contains numbers (12/6) that relate some of the answers. I surprised myself by managing to do this in one sitting, albeit a long one, and as usual some of the parsings only came post-solve.

As always, the definitions are underlined. The hints are intended to help you unravel the wordplay, and you can reveal the answers by clicking on the LSD buttons. Please leave a comment telling us what you thought.


1a     Lets slip out and down (6,2)
PASSES UP: Out as in out-of-date and down as in drink

5a     Foreign correspondent‘s page on lost plane (3,3)
PEN PAL: The abbreviation for P plus an anagram (lost) of PLANE

8a     Arrogant Chicory Tip pulling backing bands (6)
UPPITY: Reverse hidden (… backing bands, where bands is a verb)

9a     Elementary, next one vintage, cycling (8)
RUTHENIC: As in ‘of an element’. A word meaning next (in time), the Roman numeral for one, and a word you see on wine bottles meaning vintage. Then cycle the last two letters to the front

10a     Lump of bread in chilli con carne maybe rather odd … (8)
DROLLISH: A small bread goes inside (in) something that chilli con carne is an example of (maybe), as would be sausage and mash or paella

11a     … as sesame paste turning in filling for big pork pie? (6)
TAHINI: A reversal (turning) of IN plus the central letter (filling) of big, plus something exemplified by a pork pie

12a     A walk in the park keeps hospital’s chief in good health … (4-4)
CHIN-CHIN: ‘A walk in the park’, i.e. something easy, contains (keeps) the first letter (chief) of Hospital, plus IN from the clue

13a     … for model, the same (6)
PROSIT: A word meaning for and a word meaning to model. The definition is the same as in the (ellipsed) previous clue.

15a     Painting is about to come back to life … (6)
IRISES: In 1987 this was the most expensive painting ever sold (>$50m). IS from the clue goes around (about) a verb meaning to come back to life

18a     … emerge from striking Old Master uncannily pure (4-4)
GERM-FREE: An anagram (uncannily) of E(m)ERGE FR(o)M without (striking) the abbreviations for Old and Master

20a     Centre missing from level in column 4 answer? (6)
FLORIN: The centre is missing from a word meaning the level of a building, plus IN from the clue. The clue number in column 4 plus the answer there gives the definition

21a     You’ll find many of my charges low (& 3 monstrous!) (4-4)
NEAT-HERD: An anagram (monstrous) of & 3

23a     See 7d

24a     Bathing lotion represented by column 13 answer? (6)
TANNER: The answer is slang for the clue number found in column 13 plus the answer there

25a     Like slippery character, face covered: how one gains access? (6)
EASILY: An all-in-one: take a 4-letter adjective meaning like a slippery character, without its first letter (face covered), then insert (gains access) a 2-letter word meaning how or in the manner of plus the Roman numeral for one

26a     10 games ago, set about 24 (8)
SIXPENCE: The roman numeral for 10 plus a class at school for sports and games is surrounded by (set about) a word meaning ago


1d     100 6, represented here, beat Yard (5)
POUND: Three meanings – the first asks for a 100 of 6d (6 represented here)

2d     Soprano fell in with pair who produced opera pieces, historically (9)
SHILLINGS: The abbreviation for soprano, another word for a fell, IN from the clue, and two letters that are a common abbreviation for a partnership who were famous for their comic operas

3d     See 7d

4d     Means to reproduce (small melon), but raise temperature, hospital! (15)
PARTHENOGENESES: A set of punctuation marks go around a 4-letter small melon, just like in the clue, but the abbreviations for Temperature and Hospital are moved up a bit (raised, in a down clue)

5d     The worst and the best part of the race (3,4)
PIT STOP: A 4-letter word meaning the worst and a word meaning the best

6d     Northern range, not Northern change (7)
PENNIES: A mountain range in Northern England, without (not) the abbreviation for Northern

7d/3d/23a Song girl looking for pocket high on rocks (4,2,3,3,4,8)
LUCY IN THE SKY WITH DIAMONDS: A girl who lost her pocket in a nursery rhyme, a phrase (2,3,3) suggesting high, a preposition (4) that can mean on (the side of), and some valuables informally referred to as rocks

12d     Here things can suddenly change college learner, when on germanium diet? (5,4)
CLIFF EDGE: The abbreviations for college and learner, then a (2,3,2) phrase that translates to ‘when on germanium diet’

14d     Vague possibility slip (but not square leg) might take this? (3,6)
OFF CHANCE: From what I gather, in cricket the slip is on the OFF side of the pitch while the square leg is on the ON side. So, …

16d     What may be featured on map is overlooking hell for parched walkers? (7)
ISOBARS: This would be a weather map. IS from the clue goes above (overlooking) a (1,4) expression that would be hell for thirsty walkers. Or even non-walkers.

17d     ‘Oom-Pah-Pah’ most definitely this voiced character (7)
SONANCY: Split the answer (2,5) to see the reference to the Three Cripples tavern

19d     Spooneristic torturers of driver from the Hall – having overlooked his? (4,3)
ROAD TAX: The driver from the Hall is a Wind in the Willows character. The torturers are stretching devices, and they belong to the character. That should give you enough for the spoonerism. The answer, if overlooked, might well lead to the driver being hassled.

22d     Sad song, perhaps, delivered from the ground? (5)
DIRGE: A reversal (from the ground, in a down clue) of perhaps, or for example, and a verb meaning delivered

I like the way the 7d song fits into the theme. I enjoyed the ellipsed clues, especially the pair in row 7. I thought the use of clue numbers and answers particularly clever in 20a and 24a. My favourite is 4d, for the penny drop moment when I saw the significance of the small melon in parentheses. Which clues did you like?

31 comments on “Toughie 2011

  1. Thought I was on to a winner – 5a slotted in nicely and with just that one checker in place the long 7,3,23 combo became a given.
    Since that glorious start I’ve managed only six more – ho hum………….

    1. Jane, did you see the programme on peregrine falcons last night? Amazing – and presumably still on iPlayer.

  2. Was this crossword on the money? I certainly enjoyed the challenge but spent too long afterwards trying and failing to make things add up. I’m a decimal girl, and not so much in the 3d 23d as on the ground with dirt.

    Less fearsome than some Elgars in that I found it only about twice as hard as a normal 5*ish Toughie. I fell short on the gridfill, giving up and cheating to get the Oom-Pah-Pah one (17d). Also had a wrong penultimate letter in my best guess at 4d, which I failed to parse (not knowing the small melon and without that not managing to make the parenthetical leap).

    Fell on my parse in another place too which, since it involved a ridiculous misspelling, I will decline to share.

    Can’t claim full understanding of the crickety one either, but it was enough for me. Managed to navigate my way via wordplay and checkers to the couple of new things learned.

    Better luck next time! As ever, nice to do battle with this compiler, but I’m not sure I’ll be recovered in time for the next Henderson production …

    Favourites? I liked the clever linkages, but feel like picking the ones which offered some light relief: 2d, 5d and 6d.

    Thanks Elgar and Dutch.

    1. Certainly this is the thing with Elgar, who I believe is Enigmatist and Nimrod? Always I find myself poring over the clues post-solve, to see (or not see) How IT Works, and puzzle thereafter as to how I ‘biffed’ the answers.

      Never a dull moment however!

      Thank you to the setter and blogger.

  3. We finished this, then read the review and then finished it again! We had 4d as the singular and tender for 24a (we thought that fitted with the monetary theme and bunged it in). There were some we couldn’t parse at all and we’re in awe of Dutch for seeing how they work, even if after-the-fact, in particular 4d and 20a. Thought 8d was the best reverse lurker seen in these parts for some considerable time.

    Thanks to Dutch and to Elgar.

  4. I am writing this from a darkened room where I may stay for some time. I eventually managed to fill the grid and explain all the wordplay (with the help of Mr Google for the oom-pah-pah and the melon) though I still managed to get the singular rather than plural answer for 4d. Thanks to Elgar for the brain exercise and to Dutch for the excellent review.
    I’ll award my ticks to 12a, 21a, 5d and 14d.

  5. I managed a couple, but most seemed to be Greek to me. Came here to see if I could put a few in, whether it might help.

    I looked at 9a, 10a, and 11a to find three words I had never heard of, so at that point I threw in the towel.

    There’s no shame in knowing when you’re beaten.

    Thanks to all. I’ll be at the bar.

  6. Oh dear. Like Jane, 5a came quickly to me, but unlike Jane, 7d (et al) never came to me. I got 9 entries scattered here and there. Looking at Dutch’s (amazing) review I am really not surprised I did not get further. I have never finished an Elgar puzzle, the likelihood of my ever finishing one is zero, and unfortunately, now that we are in the 2000s I cannot seem to find out who the setter is in advance so that I could take the day off as I should have in this case. I am sorry – but no fun for me at all here.

    1. Take a look in the column on the left hand side of the blog – BD has started listing the names of the Toughie setters who are coming up during the week.

        1. Should have checked again – this left/right dyslexia is a curse. The only way I can distinguish between the two is to consciously think of which hand I write with – I can remember that I’m right handed!

          Fortunately, Kath has the same problem so at least I don’t feel like an oddity.

          I shall leave it to your imagination as to what problems arise when I’m trying to reverse the car!

  7. I had a quick glance to see who the setter was and thought – Oh dear. Came back to it after completing the back pager and was quite surprised when I managed about 12 clues (including the gimme at 3,7 etc) on the first read through. I thought – mmm – am I getting better with Elgar crosswords or is he being easy on us today. Suffice to say that the momentary elation soon gave way to a lot of head scratching. I thoroughly enjoyed the puzzle but , like Dutch, I only managed to parse the last clues when I had finished.

    Therefore, I have not had the chance to try and find the rest of the cleverness that is no doubt hiding in the completed puzzle. I’ll save that for later – or maybe not. I don’t think my brain can take the strain.

    Thanks to Mr Henderson for an enjoyable puzzle and thanks to Dutch for his review and highlighting the skulduggery produced by the said Mr H. I doff my cap to you sir.

    Have a good weekend all :smile:

  8. Can somebody please explain this a bit more

    NEAT-HERD: An anagram (monstrous) of & 3

    What does &3 mean? I thought answer 3 but (a) that only has seven letters and (b) they don’t fit anyway !


    1. an anagram of AND THREE (&3)

      edit: oh, looks like you figured it out already, well done

  9. That was hard work, still stuck on several so I cheated (Thanks Dutch)
    Wine o’clock methinks
    Cheers all

  10. Just about managed the top half with the exception of the elementary stuff and the salute in 13a. After that, it all got a bit patchy as I thought we were done with the money references – thought 24a was somewhat dubious anyway.

    Never mind – probably one of the best attempts I’ve made at an Elgar and I did particularly enjoy 12a & 5d.

    Thanks to Elgar and to Dutch for unravelling it all. Note that you couldn’t resist another jibe with the 12d pic!

  11. Surprised that no-one so far has mentioned the grid – as a dedicated non-noticer of grids, all those double unches were the first thing I noticed before even reading the first clue

    1. Ha, For once I kept my fingers from the keyboard… 14 double unches, a LH RH grid, i felt for so long there would be a nina else why does the new editor retain this hideous grid in the catalogue, but alas I can’t see one

  12. I went a fair distance with some of the clues (in the case of 11a as far as Tahiti, before I arrived at the right answer). I was perplexed by 21a for some time, since a cow only has 3 letters and goats don’t low. Thank you, Dutch, for explaining those clues that bamboozled me. Thank you, too, to Elgar.

  13. V similar experience to Jane here. 5a shot in and 7d etc came from just the checker after that things got (a lot) tougher. Of the ones I got unassisted the rekrul at 8a was my most satisfactory moment with 14d good too.
    Loved reading the hints and too many learning moments to mention and the theme when it became apparent was a delight.
    Thanks Dutch and to Elgar too. I will slowly up my solving ratio and maybe solve your 226th toughie without help! (Fat chance)

  14. A 5 star lurk for us! Finally filled the grid but needed Dutch’s help parsing 9ac (recycling the vintage) and pointing us to Dickens rather than Germany for Oom-Pah-Pah! So thanks to Ditch for the help and Roger for the work-out!

  15. Surely 4d is singular?
    1 Means can be singular or plural
    2 The melon is in parenthesis
    3 Does Genesis have a plural? I suggest that the proposed answer cannot have a plural.

    Thank you to Elgar and Dutch. 17d had me completly fooled.

    Apologies for the late comment.

    1. a parenthesis is a parenthetical (inserted) comment – so here “small melon” is a parenthesis.

      The brackets used to enclose a parenthesis are plural (there’s two of them), they are parentheses.

      you might like to know that the plural of genesis is (yep, you got it) geneses.

      1. Thank you for the reply. Yes, you are right of course but it is difficult to think of more than one parthenogenesis. Thank you for your hard work on behalf of all of us.

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