Toughie 2035 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 2035

Toughie No 2035 by Elgar

Hints and tips by Dutch

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

This is Elgar’s 127th Telegraph Toughie, and that number features in a theme (see below). 1ac immediately earned 5* for enjoyment.

As always, the definitions are underlined. The hints are intended to help you make sense of the wordplay, and you can always reveal the answer by clicking on the I’d give my right arm to be free again boxes. Please leave a comment telling us what you thought.


1a     Dutch: ‘Our solvers will have what it takes to do a Toughie‘ (5)
HOURS: Mentioning our favourite Friday Toughie blogger in the all-important 1ac is of course the uber-cool way to start a puzzle. Many thanks Elgar for the namecheck. Anyway, it’s a hidden (… will have)

4a     They ‘enhanced’ Crown Jewels, which chippy’s cabinet displays? (9)
CODPIECES: These decorative pouches once worn by men in the nether regions are also something you would find at your fish & chips shop

9a     Conveniently lower figures about Newry and Mourne, say? (5,4)
ROUND DOWN: Newry and Mourne are Nothern Ireland districts close to another, as suggested by the answer.

10a     Strain put on northen playwright (5)
FRAYN: Another word for strain or wear plus the abbreviation for Northern

11a     Flyer – League’s Top Games – I am able to comprehend (7)
PELICAN: Games as in sports lessons at school plus another way of saying ‘I am able’ contains (to comprehend) the first letter (top) of League

12a     New York City Subway’s terminus attracts topless loony (7)
YONKERS: As in a city in the state of New York. The last letter (terminus) of subway plus a word meaning loony without it’s first letter (topless)

13a     ‘Dial-a-Brief’ cases given protection, Franco-style (1,5)
A L’ABRI: Hidden (…. cases). “Franco-style” is a language indicator and also relates to the theme

15a    The Sound of Silence – number on cassette and vinyl? (3,1,4)
NOT A PEEP: The abbreviation for number, the type of recording device that is a cassette, and a kind of record

18a     Top double agent condemning silver as new school colour (4,4)
ETON BLUE: Remove (top) the first letter of double, and remove the chemical symbol for silver from agent, then form an anagram (as new)

20a     Can Big Apple broadcast be good for this guy? (6)
JOHNNY: Can as in loo plus the two-letter abbreviation for the city known as Big Apple gives you the answer – add a homophone or anagram (broadcast) of ‘be good’ and you have a fictional guitarist who might well benefit from a Big Apple broadcast. (he used to carry his guitar in a gunny sack … maybe one day you’ll see his name in lights … go ****** go go go)


23a     Make Trump’s No.1 suffer for his failure here? Suspend proceedings briefly (4,3)
TAKE TEN: There is an answer in the grid that means “Trump’s No.1” and another that means “suffer for his failure”. How do you make the first into the second? (hint: consider the clue numbers)

24a     Names escape sexless author, minstrel’s inspiration (7)
EUTERPE: Remove the N’s (names escape) from a word meaning sexless or ungendered and from a 3-letter author or writer

26a     The VPD taking a break? (5)
PENCE: The break being taken is between the VP and the D. So the clue becomes a double definition: The VP / D, the second being old-style money

27a     Who will mind nurses a little short of time with nitrogen safety device? (9)
CARABINER: A theme clue. What you would call a person who will mind or look after contains (nurses) ‘a little’ with the last T removed (short of time) plus the chemical symbol for Nitrogen

28a     Doctor due in to lance man under restraint (7,2)
CHAINED UP: An anagram (doctor) of DUE IN goes inside (to lance) another word for man

29a     Were Carol and Oliver this tall and thin? (5)
REEDY: Carol and Oliver could be whimsically so described using a common surname


1d     See 19 Down

2d     As is uniform in just about everyone? (5)
USUAL: place the letter that uses the code word Uniform inside most of (just about) A (2,3) phrase meaning everyone (US ALL)

3d     Cocktail Run is launched (7)
SIDECAR: A reversal (launched in a down clue) of a word meaning run or sprinted plus IS from the clue

4d     Sound of pigeon fillets in the oven or out of it? (6)
COOING: Fillets here is a verb, as in bones or removes the central bit. Remove the central letter from what food is doing in the oven, or remove the central letter from what food is doing when you take it out of the oven.

5d     News-gathering boarder? No pipes are calling him! (5,3)
DANNY BOY: A (3,3) person who is not a boarder (boarder, no) contains two abbreviations for New (news-gathering). 

6d    Trading terms of Crown, truly a princess (7)
INFANTA: Swap the termini (terms) of CrowN, i.e replace a C with an N in a (2,4) expression meaning truly, then add A from the clue

7d     One’s at sea after hospital charges desert ship – he’ll adapt (9)
CHAMELEON: An anagram (at sea) of ONE after the abbreviation for Hospital enters (charges) the beast known as the ship of the desert. (why is it known as the ship of the desert? Better ask me at the next S&B… )

8d     First to swim across the pond finds recess (5)
SINUS: The first letter of Swim plus a (2,2) expression that would have you located across the pond

14d     See 19 Down

16d     What timeshare affords? When merger occurs, bitterly regret actions (3,6)
PAY DEARLY: A timeshare would give you a place to sleep once a year, (3,6). Splice the letters where the two words join (when merger occurs) to get the answer.

17d     Made to feel the heat, took guard to secure Ashes? (8)
FURNACED: Took guard or confronted covers a vessel containing ashes

19d/14d/1d Taking in Afghanistan city ground a decent pace bowler’s facing unenviable decision (7,1,4,3,1,4,5)

BETWEEN A ROCK AND A HARD PLACE: An anagram (ground) of A DECENT PACE BOWLER’S surrounds (taking in) an 8-letter city in Afghanistan

21d     The tenth Médoc to be rapturously consumed (7)
OCTOBER: Hidden (… consumed)

22d     Could it be the Tour de France Express, suddenly showing little restraint? … (3,3)
LET RIP: Split (2,4) the answer could be described as the Tour de France

23d     … subject to snap? (5)
TOPIC: TO from the clue and another word for snap

25d     The sauce has lost its duck, causing a row (5)
RANGE: Another theme clue – a sauce (which would be appropriate with duck) without the initial O (has lost its duck)

Top clue for me was of course 1a. Which clues did you like?

Theme: 127 HOURS (1ac) was a film directed by DANNY BOYLE (5d,22d) starring James Franco, based on a book of the memoirs of Aron Ralston called BETWEEN A ROCK AND A HARD PLACE(19d), in which the author is trapped under a boulder in BLUE JOHN CANYON (rows 8 and 5). A CARABINER (27a) features in a tourniquet used when he eventually amputates his arm to free himself and stay alive, RANGE (24d) and maybe CHAIN (28a) are terms for mountains.

22 comments on “Toughie 2035

  1. Thanks to Elgar for the monthly brain-stretcher and to Dutch for the explanations – I really needed that for 23a which I couldn’t parse. Having seen the explanation for 23a I’m not surprised I couldn’t parse it (although if the clue had said “Trump’s No.2” – which is surely more accurate – I might have stood a marginally better chance).
    23a apart I thought that this was slightly less tough than usual for an Elgar, possibly because of the long 19/14/1d answer which I got straight away purely from the enumeration and which gave lots of checking letters.
    It was good to see Dutch name-checked in 1a. My candidates for favouritism were 4a, 20a, 5d and 7d.

  2. Well that wasn’t the struggle I was braced for, all went in quite smoothly except for 24a which I didn’t know and could not work out, and 23a which I could not parse. Theme was lost on me since I have never watched TV or films etc.

    Plenty of good clues, liked 15a & 22d amongst others but the simple 8d gets my vote.

    Many thanks to Elgar and to Dutch for the enlightenment.

  3. Just started this but probably won’t get to finish it until I get to my destination for the weekend. (Ashington to check out the Pitmen Painters)
    I have been waiting for an excuse to play this clip and 15a gives me the excuse.

    Happy birthday to Nick Rhodes (Duran Duran)
    Mick Hucknall and……. moi 😶

  4. Got off to an exceptional start by getting 1a straight away and then, rather like Gazza, guessing the long 19/14/1 with only one checker in place.
    I’ve now managed to get half way through so will keep at it in the vain hope…………..

    1. Balderdash – failed on just one! Would never have occurred to me that 17d was anything other than a noun.

      Have no idea how Dutch or anyone else managed to work out the parsing of 23a – I had enough trouble convincing myself that the phrase actually existed! I’m only familiar with **** five.

      Loved 1a, not only for the name-check for our blogger but also the sentiment expressed in the wordplay – how very true!

      Thanks to Elgar for giving me a fighting chance with the inclusion of that long entry and thanks to Dutch for the enlightenment.
      PS Needless to say, the theme meant absolutely nothing to me.

  5. Once again my comment has disappeared into the ether. I do so hate i-pads!
    Anyway, I’m over come with admiration for Dutch unravelling and explaining this fiendish crossword. Getting the long anagram didn’t help me at all.I did get 1a and found that way out – hours? Days? Weeks? Oh, well done Dutch!

  6. Like others our toehold, or more accurately foothold, was getting the multi-word phrase early on. Got everything bar the parsing for 23a but some of them like 26a and 4d took a long time for the penny to drop. Although we knew there would be a number based theme somewhere we did not spend time looking for it. A good thing as it turns out, as it is all unfamiliar territory to us.
    Thanks Elgar and Dutch.

  7. Loved it, and I admit needed help in the after work bar for the theme. Have you not seen the film ? Nope said I. Feeling incredibly dumb, equally at just how long it took me untangle 6d.

    Thanks Elgar and Dutch .

  8. Had no idea at all about the theme; the answers and hidden references are absolutely ingenious. Most of the crossword took less time than usual for Elgar, except for the fact that I got completely stuck on 26a, until the pence finally dropped. My favourite was actually 4a, which is very topical this week if you read the news about fashion trends, which I don’t do normally ! I also liked 5d and 12a. Thanks to Dutch for working out the theme.

  9. OK. Somebody help me, please. What is the theme and how is 23a parsed? It makes no sense to me.

    1. I had no sooner posted this than I worked out the parsing of 23a. I’m still not sure of the theme, though.

      1. There’s a link to the theme under a click here thingy at the bottom of the review

  10. Finished the crossword with some help on this site (thank you) but, excuse my ignorance, THEME?

    Ray Mc

    1. Since Elgar reached his 100th Toughie, he’s been setting puzzles which contain references to his puzzle number. This one, as Dutch says in his introduction is no 127, but even after I’d revealed all by clicking on the click here at the end of the blog, I’m not really any the wiser this time round.

      1. sorry if it wasn’t clear – “127 Hours” is the name of a movie, the theme relates to the movie.

        1. I see from the explanation that the movie starred James Franco. ‘Franco’ features in the clue to 13a.

          1. I see on looking back that this is referred to in the hint. That’ll teach me to check before posting!

  11. Twas about as tough as expected and I wouldn’t have got close without Dutch and his excellent hints. I was trying to get ahead of Elgars next toughie and a theme of 128. I thought it would be a bit of a struggle to find enough to make a convincing theme but a quick look at Wikipedia for 128 shows there is plenty of scope for some deviousness from Elgar.

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