Toughie 2063 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 2063

Toughie No 2063 by Elgar

Hints and tips by Dutch

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

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

We moved house yesterday, after much stress. Later today I go pick up my daughter, son-in-law and grandson from Manchester airport and we’re off to Wales first for a 50th anniversary of the in-laws, then to go chill in our caravan in Pendine. Unpacking can wait!

This is Elgar’s 128th telegraph toughie. True to form, this number forms part of a theme clearly revealed in 5d and many other clues. Actually, we have a double theme, with a few forms of expressing dissatisfaction carried over from theme one. There, that should keep you going. I managed the puzzle in a single sitting – there was the usual staring at a blank grid for a while, then slowly and steadily the puzzle yielded as more checkers became available. Some nice misleading definitions where the theme helps.

As usual, the definitions are underlined. The hints aim to help you unravel the wordplay, and if you wish to reveal the answer you can click on the CLICK HERE buttons. Please leave a comment telling us what you thought.


1a    25/12’s first offering interest on top (9)
PARTRIDGE: A word meaning interest, as in stake or share, and a word meaning top (e.g. of a mountain range). Note the definition refers to a date and an associated song. Cleverly, it can also be read as clue numbers, using the first bit of 12

9a    DJ sacked due to decking that’s wrong (6)
TUXEDO: An anagram (sacked) of DUE TO covering (decking) the mark teachers use to indicate “that’s wrong”

10a    But indisposed to job in City parts? (9)
OBJECTION: But is a noun here. An anagram (indisposed) of TO JOB IN is parted by the postcode for the City (correctly capitalised), as in the financial district in London

11a    Help into narrow lead in match (1,3,2)
A LEG UP: Two meanings, the first involving clasping your hands to give someone a foothold, the second a lead in a match (e.g. darts)

12a    Genius? No time to come to our country without it! (9)
BIRDBRAIN: A 4-letter slang word for time (in prison) plus the name of our country without IT from the clue

13a    East Indian residents grab Roman guards (6)
ABROMA: Hidden (… guards)

17a    Expression of one dissatisfied Egyptian King! (3)
TUT: Two meanings, the second a colloquial reference to an Egyptian pharaoh

19a    Now centre of 27 12 is a legitimate target (3,6,6)
THE GROUSE SEASON: If you replace ‘centre of 27 12’ with the middle 8 letters (centre) of 27/12, the whole clue will indicate the answer

20a    I’m obliged to get behind independent oil producer (3)
ITA: Probably not the kind of oil producer you first think of. A two-letter word meaning “I’m obliged” follows (to get behind) the abbreviation for independent

21a    Only Connect on after the watershed? (6)
RELATE: A short word meaning on or concerning, plus a 4-letter word describing time after the watershed in broadcasting terms

25a/8d    Say (as client, e.g.): “I’m disgruntled with parrot” (8,1,9)
REGISTER A COMPLAINT: An anagram (disgruntled) of AS CLIENT EG IM + PARROT. The whole clue cleverly offers an example of the answer, Monty Python style

26a    Reversible section of fifth cranial graft (6)
INARCH: Reverse hidden (Reversible section of …)

27a    Taking advantage of 19 rematch (9)
AFTERGAME: Split (5,4), the answer would suggest taking advantage of 19a

28a    Horrified, heading off #crashed (6)
AGHAST: An anagram (crashed) of “#” without the first letter (heading off)

29a    Rubbish about man with a tip for Simon Nye? (9)
PHEASANTS: A 5-letter slang word for rubbish or nonsense goes about a male pronoun, A from the clue and the first letter (tip) of Simon


2d    Settled shelters remain, though (6)
ALBEIT: A 4-letter word meaning settled or perched contains (shelters) a 2-letter verb meaning to remain or to continue without change (definition 6 in brb)

3d    In conclusion, cracking shot (6)
TRENDY: A word for conclusion goes inside (cracking) a word meaning shot or attempt

4d    One of the trainee doctors you may see, it’s rumoured, sequentially (2,4)
IN TURN: A homophone (it’s rumoured) of one of the trainee doctors you may see

5d    In light of our West becoming Wilder, start to leave time for shooting (8,7)
GLORIOUS TWELFTH: An anagram (becoming Wilder) of LIGHT OF OUR WEST contains (In) the first letter of (start to) Leave

6d    Excellent manufacturer of honey and fine meaty rations (5-4)
BULLY-BEEF: A 5-letter word meaning excellent, a manufacturer of honey and the abbreviation for Fine

7d    Heath-dwellers take advantage going round resort of ours (3,6)
RED GROUSE: The Latin abbreviation for take (Recipe), then a 4-letter word meaning advantage going round an anagram (resort) of OURS

8d    See 25a

14d    Mountain-dwellers harass scamp having grass cut up (9)
PTARMIGAN:     All in reverse (up), a 3-letter word meaning to harass, then a word for scamp is cut by a verb meaning to grass

15d    A problem for corporation, beautiful woman appropriating pleasure craft endlessly (9)
BELLYACHE:     A 5-letter word for a beautiful woman contains (appropriating) a 5-letter pleasure craft without the last letter (endlessly)

16d    It is cooking with dash of coriander in new rice pan (9)
CRITICISE: An anagram (cooking) of IT IS with the first letter of coriander goes inside (in) an anagram (new) of RICE

17d    After Tango, both of us texting bird (6)
TUI: After the letter represented by the international radio code Tango, add you and I (both of us) in textspeak

18d    Not all the side plates may be put out for it (3)
TEA: Remove the last letter (not all …) from a word meaning sporting side

22d    Jersey etc having the last word over pictures (6)
CINEMA: The abbreviation for islands like Jersey etc plus a reversal (over) of the last word in a prayer

23d    Spot a Greek letter T inscribed (6)
STIGMA: Insert T into the name of a Greek letter

24d    Incite tomboy to enter gym (6)
PROMPT: Insert a 4-letter word for tomboy into an abbreviation for a school gym class

I enjoyed the longer clues most: 25a/8d, 19a and 5d. I also really liked 18d, just because it took me stupidly long to see the correct split in the clue between wordplay and definition. Which clues did you like?



21 comments on “Toughie 2063

  1. Early twigging of the theme made this slightly easier than Elgar usually is for me (that’s all relative, of course). Lots to enjoy including 1a, 3d, 15d and 18d but my favourite has to be 25a.
    Thanks to Elgar and Dutch.

    1. Slightly surprised to find a brace of grouse in the grid (or ‘brice of grice’ as Petitjean’s posh diner would have ordered).

  2. I’d only got half of this solved before I had to start work and it took a couple more goes before I finished it.

    I enjoyed this very much, whether this was because the theme and its number was so obvious after a few clues had been solved, I don’t know. I marked lots of clues for stardom as I went along, but I’ll pick 12a for top spot this time

    Thanks to Elgar for being kind to us on this very hot day – just a shame that the 5d didn’t fall on a Friday this year – and to Dutch for the illustrated explanations

  3. I DID IT – finally completed an Elgar without recourse to Dutch’s hints!
    OK – there were enough avian species fluttering around to give me a decent toehold and I did have to consult with Mr Google over a couple of things (26a fascinated me) but I’m definitely counting this one as being worthy of a notch on the old bedpost.

    Top three for me were 14,15&18d.

    Thanks to Elgar for finally letting me win and thanks to Dutch for the blog, the pics and the 5* difficulty rating!
    Quite how you can enjoy the caravan holiday knowing what awaits you is quite beyond me but hope it works for you!

    PS Do have a listen to the vocals of a 20a – most extraordinary.

  4. Just got it done!
    Luckily the crossers helped me to complete without hints 13, 17, 20, 24,26, 29 – all containing or are things I’ve never heard of!
    ***** / ** for me. Too many similar birds + obscurities

  5. A long slow solve for us that got interrupted by guests arriving but we did manage to get it all sorted eventually. Our favourite is of course 17d but we were a bit worried to see it amongst all those other birds that people like to shoot at. We also tried to get another NZ bird, the pukeko, into 9a. It fitted the checkers but the only part of the wordplay that made sense was KO for ‘decking’ so we had to look for other options.
    Thanks Elgar and Dutch.

  6. Distinct lack of comments on this one so far, it seems, so are there many fallen by the wayside?
    Totally beyond me except for 28a.
    20* difficulty for me, although looking at the answers and the hints they all made sense. Except one… 19a . Just don’t get it, but can see the theme….
    Thanks very much to Dutch for untangling it all
    Not sure that thanks is the right word for a total bamboozlement , but excellent clueing anyway

    1. In 19a “now” means at the time of the answer. Join together the answers to 27a and 12a giving you AFTERGAME/BIRDBRAIN and extract the centre of that, i.e. GAME BIRD. So the clue is saying that a game bird is a legitimate target during the grouse season.

    2. I have had such little success with Elgar puzzles that, sadly, he is now on my ‘do not attempt’ list. In this instance the theme is so far beyond my realm of experience that I would have been dead in the water immediately on this one. (Dutch states that this was Elgar’s 128 toughie – I wonder how this is known – or perhaps Dutch just keeps tabs from one to the next?) I did enjoy, and marvel at, Dutch’s review and the cleverness of the clueing.

  7. Fabulous.
    This period, though a bit anticipated, is always associated with one of my favourite dish at the Ivy.
    Roast Grouse with bread sauce and parsnip chips.
    Here is the recipe:
    Ate my way through this crossword which was over before lunch.
    I just love to decypher these typical Elgar anagrams and the search for the definitions of the clues is always a pleasure.
    Thanks to Elgar and to Dutch.

  8. Looked at it – decided against trying to decipher it – and then, with a flash of inspiration, looked at it again. I do wish that Telegraph Towers would tell us how many Toughies that the particular setter of the day has set, especially if it identifies what the theme might be (although they did get Mr Mayer’s 100th wrong) – that would help.

    5d was the inspiration needed to get going and complete the solve. I admire the ingenuity and deviousness with which Mr H constructs his puzzles, but I sometimes find it irksome to try and find the ‘key’ to unlock them (if I’d known that it was Toughie No 128 – I might have cottoned on earlier) It’s like looking at a recipe that appears quite simple to follow – only to find that you have to go back to another recipe to make the sauce and then discover that you needed to make it 3 days before.

    Clever stuff from Mr Henderson and very challenging – one day I’ll get it. Thanks also to Dutch for compiling a blog whilst moving house

  9. Such a clever one. As usual if I was stuck I am sitting up in bed with a glass of hot water and just finished it. I was stuck on 26a and 13a never heard of either of them and must look them up. So many thanks for the hints.

  10. Fouled up on 1a. It was a toss-up between ‘partridge’ and ‘cartridge’ and I opted for the latter on the grounds that ’25/12’s first’ was the first letter of ‘Christmas’ and it seemed to tie in with the shooting theme.

  11. In contrast to the early posters, this was by far my worst attempt at an Elgar in a long while. Managed a handful but then just got completely stuck. Googling for possible 128 themes didn’t help either, as it didn’t occur to me to check dates. If I have heard of 5d, then I have clean forgotten it.

    (Despite being a kitty, the only grouse I want to demolish is the Famous one … :) )

    Long anagrams might have helped, but I just can’t do anagrams longer than 4 letters. OK, I exaggerate, but for long ones I really do need a generous supply of checkers. So I never even untangled 25a/8d (where I was expecting the definition to be “say”), though I could have plugged away for longer.

    Reading the review I see that there are quite a few other things I didn’t know – bully beef, tui, ita, nye – and the two lurkers, but at least they were lurkers. Some new sporting terminology too.

    Could try to blame the heat yesterday, but no, I’m clearly just a 12a. (One of the ones I got, at least.) Mercifully cooler now after some sweet, sweet rain.

    TL:DR: #crashed

    None of the above is a moan, by the way, in case it comes across like that. Just thought I’d document my fail. I’m always happy to pit my wits against an Elgar, and I know he’ll usually beat me, whether narrowly or comprehensively as today. I do have one little, er, grouse though: I realise why it was used, but ugh, what a horrid grid! I hope it’s a long time before we see that one again.

    Thanks Elgar and Dutch. Some really good, clever and impressive stuff here, and I look forward to tackling the next.

  12. Got to this yesterday, and as ever with JH in his various guises it was hard work but worth the effort, as much as anything due to his varied and innovative clueing styles (step forward 1A, 28A among others). He’s about the only setter where I think just about any outside aid is acceptable, though I did finish before coming here.

    Is it a coincidence that the grid resembles the crosshairs of a gunsight (or is that what Kitty was referring to?).

    1. Well spotted, Simon! I’d like to claim that I saw that, but was just referring to the need for a fill-friendly grid with those specific entries having to go at 25 and 12 to make the clue for partridge work.

      With the thematic shape to the grid too, I can hardly grumble about it in this case – even if I would still like to hold it partly to blame for my dismal performance. :)

  13. Phew!!

    Just finished it after carrying over four clues from the weekend. A real marathon with 2d, 3d, 4d and (last of all) 29a slowly coming into the light. Really pleased to finally complete it and great to read the blog as usual: many thanks.

    Of course, the 128 reference passed me by completely and I’m not sure I’d have twigged even had I known……

  14. Oh dear, the 12/8 significance had completely passed me by until I read Dutch’s blog and these comments but it was a fabulous puzzle. Elgar’s puzzles are usually far too difficult for me but I was with a group of very able setter/solvers for this one and we all appreciated it.

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