Toughie 2103 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 2103

Toughie No 2103 by Elkamere

Hints and tips by Dutch

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

To end the week, we have another highly enjoyable puzzle with Elkamere’s trademark concise clueing, witty surfaces and precise and entertaining wordplay. I used to say I don’t know how he does it. Now I do, with even greater admiration – thanks to a “setting a cryptic crossword LIVE” stream that he broadcast on September 11, available on YouTube:

A full crossword is compiled in record time, whilst chatting and answering viewers’ questions. We talked about this again two nights ago, when Elkamere and I enjoyed the opening of Kandy (an authentic Sri Lankan street-food restaurant in Macclesfield). And for those of you who like to follow this sort of thing, Elkamere gave me a lift home, which means I was finally reunited with the sunglasses I had lost twice after the Derby S&B.

As always, definitions are underlined. The hints are intended to help you with the wordplay, and you can reveal the answer by clicking on the Oostenrijk, Griekenland, Portugal, Hongarije (Austria, Greece, Portugal and Hungary in Dutch) buttons


1a    Black ducks are in shot as well (2,4)
TO BOOT: The abbreviation for Black plus two of the letters that look like a cricket score of zero (duckS) go inside (in) a shot of the alcoholic variety

4a    Row on river that’s unusually high (8)
FALSETTO: A (3-2) row or argy-bargy goes on (= following, in an across clue, as in added on) a river in Cornwall

9a    Search area – build walls (6)
FORAGE: The abbreviation for area has a verb meaning build that surrounds it (walls)

10a    Rally crowd wave by end of stage (8)
JAMBOREE: A word for crowd, a type of tidal wave, and the last letter (end) of stage

11a    Lightning‘s close, scattering public (9)
OVERNIGHT: A word meaning close or nearby goes inside (scattering, as in pushing the word apart) an adjective meaning public

13a    Problem concerning public transport(5)
REBUS: A short word meaning concerning or in reference to and one kind of public transport. 

14a    Rider‘s skill (13)
QUALIFICATION: Two definitions, the first perhaps a statement at the end of a document

17a    Young European about to do Cologne (13)
PREADOLESCENT: A 4-letter European goes around (about) a 4-letter verb meaning to do (as in a question to a fellow student: what course do you do?), then another word for cologne

21a    One going after strip club in India (5)
LATHI: The Roman numeral for one follows (going after) a thin strip of wood


23a    Shops not closing? Outside, set out stall (9)
TEMPORISE: A word meaning large shops but without the last letter (not closing) has outside of it an anagram (out) of SET

24a    Suitable for children, before turning over (8)
UPENDING: the film classification that means the movie is suitable for children, plus a word that could mean before

25a    Search pockets in coat (6)
FINISH: A verb meaning to search contains (pockets) IN from the clue

26a    Novel sites around for one writer (8)
ESSAYIST: An anagram (Novel) of SITES goes around a word meaning ‘for one’

27a    A lecturer knocked back liquor (6)
PERNOD: A 3-letter word meaning ‘a’ (as in £20 a person) and the reversal (knocked back) of a lecturer


1d    Untouchable broken left leg (6)
TEFLON: An anagram (broken) of LEFT plus a cricket term for leg

2d    Comic‘s problem over sequel resolved (9)
BURLESQUE: A reversal (over) of a problem plus an anagram (resolved) of SEQUEL

3d    Yellow strip binding new material (7)
ORGANZA: The 2-letter heraldic yellow colour plus a disputed ‘strip’ of land in the Middle East containing (binding) the abbreviation for new

5d    Actor‘s ‘Carry On’ voices on board train (8,3)
ALASTAIR SIM: A verb meaning carry on or persist plus a verb meaning voices go inside (on board) a verb meaning to train (as in a rifle)

6d    Small peninsula where snow is common (7)
SIBERIA: The abbreviation for small plus a European peninsula

7d    Pulse and temperature hard to take (5)
THROB: The abbreviations for temperature and hard plus a verb meaning to take (illegally)

8d    One’s a bit naughty, but not disrespectful (8)
OBEISANT: An anagram (naughty) of ONE’S A BIT

12d    Frauds stealing fortune in office equipment (11)
GUILLOTINES: A word for frauds or deceits contains (stealing) another word for fortune plus IN from the clue

15d    Feeling smart? Teaching supports that (9)
INTUITION: A 2-letter word meaning smart or hip is supported (in a down clue) by a word for teaching

16d    A rest to bandage extremely painful hand? (8)
APPLAUSE: A from the clue plus a word for rest goes around (to bandage) the outer letters (extremely) of painful

18d    Doormat has boring sort of material (4-3)
DRIP-DRY: A doormat or wimp, and an adjective meaning boring

19d    Controversial book about topless bar (7)
EMOTIVE: Reversal (about) of a 4-letter book or volume and a dodgy bar or nightclub without the first letter (topless, in a down clue)

20d    Way to adapt software – insert the floppy (6)
METHOD: A slang verb that means to adapt or modify software into which we insert an anagram (floppy) of THE

22d    If it won’t open, force lock (5)
TRESS: Another word for force without the first letter (if it won’t open)


I’m never very good at choosing a favourite clue, but I’ll go for 16d with its nicely disguised definition. I also liked the casual surface of 17a, the usage of “strip club” in 21a, the elegantly simple 25a and 27a, and the clever and smooth 2d and 19d. A special mention goes to ‘insert the floppy’ in 20d. Which were your favourites?

23 comments on “Toughie 2103

  1. How lucky is Dutch having Micawber and Elkamere to blog on successive days. There are all the usual Elkamere trademarks in this one making it a very enjoyable puzzle.
    My ticks go to 1a, 21a, 1d and 19d.
    Thanks to Elkamere and Dutch.

  2. Hi Dutch, I don’t think 23D is part of this crossword.
    Needed your hints to complete but did manage all but four on my own.

    A strange thing about how brains work though, I was staring at the puzzle for ages having only filled in 3 answers in the south east corner.

    I looked at the BD blog email and saw that it was Dean and went back to the puzzle and instantly filled the north west corner with the rest following at a steady pace.

    So, subconsciously, being on Dean’s wavelength helped speed up the solving process.

    1. You’re absolutely right! 23d was part of Proximal’s puzzle last Friday. Fixed!

      I wouldn’t mind the two corrections so far, but I’d also found a dozen or so myself before posting.. Sometimes the head is not screwed on.

        1. In 3d, take one of the typical two letter abbreviations for gold (=yellow) and add a strip of land in the Middle East that is often in conflict containing the typical abbreviation for new. The definition is a material that I have not knowingly come across – except in crosswords! I hope this helps!

  3. I thought this was a wonderful puzzle. I eventually got it all sorted out, but it did take a good long while. I am always amazed that I can get totally stuck, then put the puzzle aside only to come back later and suddenly the light dawns and I am off again. For me the top half went in more quickly than the bottom half. I also thought that there were some very fortunate and key checkers that helped along the way. Many thanks to Dutch and Elkamere.

    1. ah, now, one of the things Elkamere pointed out in his stream was to make sure crossing clues offered some help for the more difficult ones. So if you notice the checkers are helping (as opposed to being all vowels, say) – that is a sign of a good setter.

  4. Thanks ever for a great blog, Dutch, and to all for your comments.

    Thanks as well for the link to the video – and an apology. For about the first 3 hours there is a voice echo caused by a monitor channel not being muted. I couldn’t hear it because the monitor volume was zeroed, but it was still transmitted. I didn’t know it was there until somebody pointed it out.

  5. A real delight to solve.
    It took us quite a long time and the very last to yield was the parsing for 5d. We thought we had done well to remember an actor who died 42 years ago but the wording in the clue had pointed us in the right direction. We did wonder whether the lack of a capital on STRIP in 3d was a bit naughty. Once again we were impressed with the conciseness of the clues.
    Thanks Elkamere and Dutch.

  6. Really enjoyed this one. My last was mr sim. I really don’t remember him but remember the name vaguely

    Thanks guys

  7. Thought I was going to be defeated but eventually got there by adopting the ‘put it down, pick it up later’ tactic.
    Had to guess at the computer terminology in 20d and look up the Indian club.
    Not a fan of either 11a or 22d but there were plenty of others that definitely appealed.
    Top two for me were 25&27a.

    Thanks to Elkamere and to Dutch for working overtime this week – hope those puppies don’t keep you awake tonight! By the way, what breed did you go for?

  8. You are all so right about the ‘put it down go away and come back to it’ technique. I didn’t really get 11a and I did not know 21a – thanks for the excellent breakdown.

  9. This one made me doubt my entire crossword solving ability for quite some time. Finally got a breakthrough after sitting with only the top corner done for quite some time, but this one really took me a lot of ‘putting down and coming back’!

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