Toughie 2083 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
View closed comments 

Toughie 2083

Toughie No 2083 by Elgar

Hints and tips by crypticsue

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

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

I have a note pinned on my office noticeboard that says ‘The next Elgar will be xxx’ so that I’ll remember to look for a theme based on that particular number. This fiendish proper Friday Toughie, however, does initially confuse those expecting the next number in the series, as there are a lot of references to a completely different number. The crossword has been craftily prepared to celebrate a special feat that happened fifty years ago today, and does indeed relate to Elgar’s Toughie number. I’ve explained the theme (and more) at the bottom of the review.

Please leave a comment telling us what you thought. You can also add your assessment by selecting from one to five stars at the bottom of the post.


5a     Sleeps off very good brewery wares, not one English (6)
SOBERS A way of saying very good and some brewery products from which one of the Es has been removed

8a     See 17

9a     About to infiltrate working party, even now (7)
SQUARED The two letters used to mean about ‘infiltrate’ or go inside a working party

10a     Things that begin rankling Glamorgan’s outfielders? 12 is first sign … (5)
VIRGO The Roman numerals for the solution to 12d go first before the things that begin Rankling Glamorgan Outfielders

11a     Stars not the first to blow chances (9)
ASTERISKS Remove the first letter from a synonym for blow in the use of use excessively and follow with some chances

13a    No good slipping up, wanting to do in king (7,1)
RICHARD I Regular crossword solvers will know that the word up can often refer to being on a horse. Remove the N and G (no good slipping) from the end of a synonym for up and insert a verb meaning to do [cleaning as a job]

14a     … over goes number two, not quite an exact copy … (6)
CARBON A reversal (over goes) the abbreviated way of referring to a number and almost all (not quite) of a pair of something (two)

17 & 8 Across … show, in shot three, spin is taken on … (3,8)
THE PRISONER Insert into an anagram (shot) of THREE, the two letter abbreviation for spin and IS ON (from the clue)

19 & 12 Down … the fourth to be deposited over front of square is returned by scorers … (3,3)
LES SIX These scorers were early 20th century composers of music. Remove the Roman numerals for four (fourth [as in George IV, George the Fourth] to be deposited in the sense of put down, not used) from a synonym for to be alive, and put the remaining letters over the first letter (front) of square, a reversal (returned) of IS (from the clue) and the letter you’d use in multiplication sums to indicate ‘by’

20 & 31 Across … gift for one backpedalling? Again, see ball ultimately transported over boundary’s edge … (5,1-6)
GEESE A-LAYING A reversal (backpedalling) of the abbreviated way of saying for one followed by an anagram (transported) of AGAIN SEE L (ball ‘ultimately’) and the edge of boundary

23a     Anagram solver with a line in workwear (8)
OVERALLS And the award for most helpful anagram indicator goes to…. An anagram of SOLVER into which is inserted A (from the clue) and the abbreviation for Line

26 & 22 Down … player, having dispersed disheartened keeper and infield, belted Nash out of the ground (9,7)
BLINDSIDE FLANKER There’s a piece of paper in front of me as I type with various combinations of different words in this clue scribbled all over it as I tried to find the correct combination to get the player in question. It turns out what you need are the outside (disheartened) letters of KeepeR plus INFIELD BELTED and NASH, without (out of) the letters THE, ground indicating that they aren’t in that order. The ball was indeed belted out of the ground and returned next day by a schoolboy. If he’d kept it and had enough ‘provenance’, I wonder what value it would now be given on the Antiques Road Show?

28a     Image of group seeking to preserve secretary’s make-up? (5)
PANDA The abbreviated way the role of secretary is now known is made up of X xxx X

29a     Inability to recognise one heir when back within range (7)
AGNOSIA a reversal (when back) of I (one) and a male heir inserted within a well-known cooking range

30a     President‘s kinky life as dame, retrospectively? (8)
GARFIELD An anagram (kinky) of LIFE inserted into a reversal (retrospectively) of what one might wear as a pantomime dame

31 See 20


1d     Like garage door, maybe – done twice (2-4)
UP-OVER Two different ways of saying ‘done’

2d     Clown about, lifting hearts with French horn and pipe music (7)
PIBROCH A reversal (about) of the name of Marcel Marceau’s clown character, followed by another (lifting) of a French horn and the letter used to indicate Hearts in a pack of cards

3d     Two goes at curling don’t get used (2,2,5)
GO TO WASTE An anagram (curling) of TWO GOES AT

4d     Possibly remote stronghold put in broadcast (6)
KEYPAD A homophone (broadcast) of a stronghold and a verb meaning to put in


5d     Queen’s changing church order (8)
SEQUENCE An anagram (changing) of QUEENS followed by the abbreviation for the Church of England

6d     Canalman noisily deep-fried appetiser? (5)
BHAJI A homophone (noisily) of a man in charge of a canal boat

7d     Security of Tier F smoke screens? No (4,4)
REEF KNOT Insert (screens) F (from the clue) into a dialect word for smoke and add an adverb meaning no

12 See 19

15d     In harsh lesson it may be torn when taking excursion on holiday (1,5,3)
A STRIP OFF If you were rebuking someone angrily, this may well get torn. A conjunction meaning when, an excursion and a way of saying not at work, on holiday

16d     Disease caused by deficiency in an area around neck wound (8)
PELLAGRA A way of saying for every (in an) and the abbreviation for area go around a reversal (wound) of a synonym for neck in the sense of impudence or cheek

18d     What Goliath should know about David’s grief? (8)
HASSLING Before they start fighting, Goliath should know that David xxx [a] xxxxx and is obviously prepared to use it! This clue wins the ‘made me smile the most” award

21d     Individual birthday tips? (3)
BOD A reversal (tips) of the abbreviated way of referring to one’s birthday (especially on an official form, for example)

22 See 26

24d     Virgin loves talking (full of it) (6)
VESTAL Lurking in (full of it) loVES TALking

25d     Drink shot with charges (6)
SHANDY A shot or quick throw into which is inserted (charges) a conjunction meaning with

27d     Woman on a meandering route out of London (5)
NAOMI An anagram (meandering) of ON A followed by the abbreviation for a main route out of London

So did you spot the theme, the feat and the connections?


Having a dad who was a great cricket fan certainly came in handy today as, if anyone mentions the name Sir Garfield Sobers, one of the main things I associate with him is the cricketing feat he achieved on the 31st August 1968 (I did have to check the date) when he hit six sixes in one over at the St Helen’s Cricket Ground in Swansea. What has this to do with Toughie 129?  Six is the solution to 12a and Squared is the solution to 9a

It is worth carefully watching the following video with the crossword by your side, as the clues which have solutions relating to the number six, all describe how Sobers scored each of the sixes

ARVE Error: need id and provider

You should also have noted that:

The hero of 17a/8a was known as Number Six; the sign in 10a is the sixth sign of the Zodiac; six is the number in the Periodic Table of the solution to 14a; six 20/31s;  six is the number worn by the player in 26a/22d; there were six scorers in 19a/13d; and finally there were six 24a virgins

It isn’t relevant to the anniversary being celebrated here, but my investigoogling of connections between Sobers and the number 129 also produced the fact that in January 1972, he scored a century in 129 balls. <

32 comments on “Toughie 2083

  1. Another tour de force by Elgar – thanks to him and CS for deciphering it all.
    I did know the event of 50 years ago so that helped a lot in the solving. The only bit of wordplay that evaded me (eventually) was where the first two letters of the 19/12a answer come from and I still don’t understand that after reading the hint.
    I didn’t know which Elgar Toughie number we’re up to so I didn’t spend any time trying to relate it to 6 (just as well because, having seen CS’s explanation, I’m none the wiser!).
    Top clues for me were 28a, 15d and 21d but my clue of the day was 30a.

    1. to be = LivE – so remove the IV (fourth) and you get the first two letters of the solution – took me an age to ‘see’ it

      1. Yes I see that but I couldn’t see how IV meant fourth as opposed to four, but I suppose it’s ‘the fourth’ as in George the Fourth or George IV.

          1. I see it now but I still think that’s really tortuous! I didn’t really see 13a either but it makes sense now, so thanks for both of these :)

  2. I am overcome with admiration! I managed 6 clues and that was that. I had heard of the cricketer 30a/5a and knew 30a was a president but it didn’t help one little bit. CS you are a genius.

  3. Oh dear, our grid wasn’t quite half full – but that is about normal for us with an Elgar crossword. I don’t know how you managed it Cryptic Sue (well, I suppose being in the Times top solvers explains it but still, this was truly tough).
    I loved 18d. I am still smiling at the humour of it.

  4. The theme came into rather more prominence after I’d listened to the lunchtime feature on TMS which was all about the 50th anniversary of Sir Garfield’s feat. There was also an answer to the question CS asks in her hint to 26 and 22d. Apparently, what purported to be the ball involved was sold at Christie’s for £26k some years ago. But according to the chap who was being interviewed, the ball sold at auction could not have been the original, since it was of a different make from the ones used by Glamorgan at the time…

  5. We managed with a lot of sweat and computer help but didn’t understand Richard I or Les Six.
    Les Six. How does the fourth to be deposited mean the fourth removed from to be? And if over is meant to mean before, why when Les goes across not down?
    How does six/squared=22/9?
    You have to admire a setter putting so much into a crossword for so few. The puzzles site shows only 11 plays.
    Be honest, did anyone get all this without help from the blogger? Did the blogger manage without help from the setter?
    Cheers for the blog.

  6. What a struggle. I managed just 12 , but thanks to CS I can now work out the rest. More of Elgar’s enigmas indeed.

  7. Ok, it’s a fair cop, 1-0 to Elgar – too tough for me, and as for working out the numbers, clueless.

    The full extent of my cricket knowledge is that they wear white and clobber the ball around until the wickets fall off or they get caught out.

    I very much enjoyed those I did manage, so many thanks to Elgar and CS – one can but marvel.

  8. Count me as another (non-mathmo) who cannot remotely comprehend the assertion “six/squared = 12/9”.

    Sadly for me there’s an E-grade numerical puzzle in this month’s Magpie. I feel this may be a third month on the trot I don’t get them all right…

    1. As a reasonably competent maths person 6^2 = 36 not 12/9. Surely an explanation can be given. It might make more sense than the enigma!

      1. Turns out my poor old brain was overthinking the connection and squares and sums

        We have six lots of sixes in the crossword – six squared – SIX is the solution to 12(a) and SQUARED is the solution to 9 (a) so 129

        As I’ve said before and I’m sure I’ll say again, the complicated Elgar clues befuddle my brain so much, that it prevents seeing the blooming obvious

        Apologies for confusing everyone

        1. Very tough, couldn’t complete it without hints, but found it hugely enjoyable.

          I think another twist to the 12-9 = SIX SQUARED = 36 is that it’s the number of runs Sobers scored in that over.

  9. An Elgar puzzle is right at the top of my ‘do not attempt list’. However, I had done well on the previous toughies this week, and I was feeling brave, so I had a go at this.

    I shouldn’t have.

    I got a generous handful (9a, 5d and others). I had correctly suspected the right answer on another handful, but couldn’t make the word play work (13a, 10a and others). There was another handful that I darn well should have gotten (18d is right at the top of that list, add 4d, and others). There was another handful whose definition I had never heard of (the appetizer in 6d, 29a and others). I had heard of Sobers, I knew he was a cricketer, but that is the full extent of my knowledge of what the puzzle was built on.

    Please forgive me, but there was no pleasure or satisfaction for me here. Part of my disappointment is that I have never been able to do enough to appreciate the numerical significance within an Elgar puzzle. (I too need help in understating the six/squared = 12/9)

    My hat is off to those who are able to do this, and my thanks to all, but I’m afraid I really will pass on the next one.

    1. Welcome. I’m going to watch the video now and see how your experience compares to mine
      Well for a start off you took a lot less time than I did – possibly my longest solving time for any Toughie for a considerable while – and then I had to parse and explain it all after that.

      We solved a partially different clue for 28a than the one you did. I also found it interesting that some of the clues I struggled with you got quickly and, I’m delighted to report, vice-versa

      Watching you solve this crossword goes quite a long way to explain why you will always be the champion while I’ll linger in 24th place.

      See you in November

      1. Hi Sue, any chance of your maths friend explaining 12/9 = 6^2?
        Thank you for blogging did yesterday’s toughie bit of a downer when I couldn’T get a single clue solved today.
        Thank you.

  10. After a very long time and a lot of effort we eventually had a nearly full grid. By revealing a couple of letters we managed to fill in the 20/31 and 19/12 combos so had a filled grid. However there were six clues where we could not work out the parsing and gave up at that stage in exhaustion and frustration. The theme was (not surprisingly) totally unfamiliar to us so was no help at all.
    Thanks Elgar and CS.

  11. Hi all

    just got back from holidays, and I now finally have wifi in my new home.

    Mega-respect to CS for unravelling this genius puzzle for you – I don’t think i would have had a hope in hell, knowing as little as i do about cricket.

    Thank you Magoo for the brilliant video.

    see you all next week

  12. I don’t think there has been a mention of 20/31 as part of the theme – there were six of them (which is how I arrived at the answer).

    1. I did highlight them in blue so I can’t think why I left them off the list at the end. I’ll add them there now

  13. I’ve never commented before, but have regularly dipped into this most marvellous site. This is without a doubt the hardest crossword I’ve ever completed. I had ‘hoisting’ for ages for 18d (Goliath is a huge crane in Rosyth and I’d convinced myself sting was close enough to grief for it to work), all of which blocked 20/31 for ages. Still, got there eventually. Huge respect & thanks to Crypticsue for a great blog, and especially unravelling 26/22 – I confess that was a bung in.
    Thanks to everyone here for a great site, and to JH for a belter.

  14. I always manage to get one wrong in an Elgar puzzle. In this case it was 28a. The whole thing was a slog, as evidenced by my only finishing it this morning. Much of the parsing completely passed me by. I don’t think that grim satisfaction at having finished quite amounts to enjoyment.

  15. Finally completed it before the end of the weekend, although I couldn’t parse them all, so many thanks to Crypticsue for the explanations. A very fair and ingenious puzzle, with many favourites, including 2d, 21a, 30a and the amusing 28a. I remember as a boy hearing the live (I think) commentary on Sobers’ six sixes on bank holiday Monday, just before I changed schools. Another fantastic mind-twister from Elgar; I’m just relieved he doesn’t set every Friday Toughie, as it takes so long to fathom out his puzzles !

  16. Spotted the theme straight away, first one in 5a, so settled back to show off and then managed only about six more before turning to the blog for help. The toughest Toughie so far? Thanks to the setter and for the hints… I think I understand it all now

  17. Interesting to work through with the aid of the (impressive !) hints and tips.
    I remember watching Patrick McGoohan in the prisoner ages ago (17 & 8 A).

    1. Secretaries are only very rarely called secretaries these days and they certainly don’t wear that much make up

Comments are closed.