Toughie 2139 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 2139

Toughie No 2139 by Elkamere

Hints and tips by Dutch

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

Always a pleasure to have an Elkamere to blog. We have beautifully concise clues as always, and a brief mention of Christmas (18d).

Definitions are underlined. The hints aim to help you unravel the wordplay. You can reveal the answers by clicking on the click here buttons.


1a    A divorce application (12)
PERSEVERANCE: A 3-letter word for ‘a’ plus a word meaning divorce

8a    Bird wagging tail in bed (4,3)
COAL TIT: An anagram (wagging) of TAIL goes in a small bed

9a    Completed most of the sketch (7)
THROUGH: The first two letters (most of) THE from the clue and another word for a preliminary sketch

11a    Country with bad weather — European country (7)
UKRAINE: The country we live in, some bad weather, and the abbreviation for European

12a    If it’s wrong, I cannot check (7)
CONTAIN: An anagram (if it’s wrong) of I CANNOT

13a    One hand, for example? (5)
IDEAL: The Roman numeral for one plus a set of cards

14a    Up to official (9)
INCUMBENT: Two meanings, the first imposed on somone as a duty

16a    Designed but applied the wrong way (7,2)
THOUGHT UP: A 6-letter word meaning but, then the reversal (the wrong way) of a verb meaning applied

19a    Made call after parking accident (5)
PRANG: A verb meaning made a call or telephoned comes after the abbreviation for parking

21a    Spurs, without a point, not reaching final? (7)
NEEDLES: A word meaning ‘without a point’ without it’s last letter (not reaching final)

23a    Slight cold embodied by gentle shivering (7)
NEGLECT: The abbreviation for cold goes inside (embodied by) an anagram (shivering) of GENTLE

24a    Part of London, a street in dire need (4,3)
EAST END: A from the clue plus the abbreviation for street go inside (in) an anagram (dire) of NEED

25a    Worship a tree (7)
SERVICE: Two meanings, the first religious, the second, well, a tree.

26a    Perfect cricket scores (6-6)
TWENTY-TWENTY: Triple definition, the first referring to vision


1d    Couple crossing river, that is plain (7)
PRAIRIE: Another word for a couple crossing the abbreviation for river, then the abbreviation for that is

2d    Appeal, maybe, of material fringing short dress (7)
RETRIAL: a 4-letter word meaning material as in actually existing covers (fringing) the first 3 letters (short) of a 4-letter verb meaning to dress or adorn

3d    Last to accept fancy term for radical (9)
EXTREMIST: A verb meaning last or survive goes around (to accept) an anagram (fancy) of TERM

4d    Short sword manages to cut sandwiches (5)
ESTOC: Hidden (… sandwiches)

5d    China invades America, so POTUS may be called (7)
ACRONYM: Another word for China or mate goes inside (invades) a 2-letter abbreviation for America (not US)

6d    Protective frame around our stomach (7)
COURAGE: A protective frame goes around OUR from the clue

7d    A chance to ditch husband for charming ‘friend’ (12)
ACQUAINTANCE: Replace the abbreviation for husband in A CHANCE from the clue with a word meaning charming

10d    Hold string up in concert (4,8)
HANG TOGETHER: A word meaning ‘string up’ plus a word meaning ‘in concert’

15d    Item in the manager’s toolbox? (6,3)
COPING SAW: A cryptic definition based on the idea that if you are managing, then you are …

17d    Ran past gnome (7)
OVERSAW: Ran as in managed. Another word for past and another word for gnome or saying

18d    Miss Christmas after capsizing ship (7)
GALLEON: A 3-letter Miss plus a reversal of another word for Christmas

19d    Crude metal clip to secure cheque (3,4)
PIG IRON: Another word for clip or fastener goes around (to secure) a type of cheque

20d    25 players will get it in a year (7)
AMENITY: The definition is the answer to 25a. Another word for players plus IT from the clue go inside (in) A from the clue and the abbreviation for year

22d    Unfortunately tricky plug parts (5)
SADLY: Another word for tricky or clever is parted by a plug or promotion

I enjoyed the triple definition (26a) with its very different meanings and no link words, and I particularly liked 7d, 19a, and 23a. My favourite is 4d. Which clues did you like?


19 comments on “Toughie 2139

  1. Lovely puzzle – thanks to Elkamere and Dutch (I laughed at the 19a pic).
    Thanks to the influence of Mary I was halfway through writing perservation for 1a before common sense took hold.
    The short sword was a new word for me.
    I liked 4d and 7d but my favourite was the perfect triple at 26a.

  2. Lovely puzzle indeed – I’ll join the ‘my favourite was 26a club’. Thanks to Elkamere and Dutch

  3. At the gentler end of the Elkamere spectrum but a pleasure as always. I had to check the sword too.
    As Dutch says a masterclass in concise clueing – by my calculation an average of 5.5 words per clue!

  4. I come to this blog either because I couldn’t solve the day’s Toughie, or because I thought I had but couldn’t fully parse the clues.
    Today, I didn’t know that gnome was a saying, I question whether 20d and 25a are really synonyms, and having parsed 4d and had to Google the result that I had never heard of I have to quibble about the sword being short.
    So much for my struggles. I liked 6d, 10d and 14a for the “aha” moment when the penny dropped, and 22d, because the penny never did until I looked here.
    Thanks to all concerned with the site, it adds enormously to my enjoyment of the Toughies.

      1. Hm. Interesting: blade 36 to 52 inches elsewhere (Wikipedia).! Anyway I will know it’s a sword in future. :-)

    1. Must admit a lot of the google images seemed to be long enough to do serious damage. The style of handle crosspiece seemed to be what all the images had in common. I guess swords can be even longer.

  5. I thought this was a wonderful puzzle. I didn’t know the sword either, and I was slow in being confident with 26a because I was unaware of the cricket reference. I am also a great fan of the short and and concise clueing. Many thanks to Elkamere and, as always on Friday, Dutch for the review.

  6. A 26a (definition 1) puzzle !

    My gold medal though hoes to 7 down for the super surface including the innuendo factor of the inverted commas.

    Thanks to D&D

    Off topic: is anybody else finding the new Telegraph crossword section very clanky, particularly when it comes to printing?

    1. I’ve had no problems printing from the telegraph puzzle website. My only issues were (1) it doesn’t seem to work with caps lock (ok, I can unlock), and (2) on my iPad it doesn’t seem to advance to the next letter when I enter a letter, so I have to press an arrow key between each letter.

  7. Took quite a bit of 1a but I got there albeit with the necessity to verify the short sword and being very unsure about 15d – which I’m still not convinced by.

    Excellent work as always from this setter and I’ve put 1,19&26a along with 7d up on the podium.

    Thanks to Elkamere and to Dutch for the well illustrated blog – particularly the 19a photo!

  8. The short sword was new here too.

    7D was a great clue. How do you reconcile concise cluing with using three words in 12a to indicate an anagram?

    Still, finishing an Elkamere is no mean achievement.

    Thanks to Elkamere and Dutch.

    1. The three-word anagram indicator in 12a is still only 10 letters long though. To me it’s probably the neatest and shortest way to match the different (from the solution) meaning of ‘check’. Eg “Wrong? I cannot check” is similar, but the question mark weakens the indicator; something like “Sadly, I cannot check” is fine, but has a flatter surface.

  9. I couldn’t finish this one without the help of Dutch’s clues.Could I add my compliments to him for the concise hints (in addition to what others have said about Elkamere’s concise clues). 26a a particular favourite. As others have said, 19a as well, but mainly for Dutch’s illustration of what an advanced motoring course can achieve! Thanks to all.

  10. Brilliant stuff. 4d was new but the rest accessible and enjoyable.
    Thanks as always to Elkamere and Dutch.

  11. A completed Friday toughie is still a rare occurrence here. My fave was 8a I was working through various wagtails until the penny dropped. The sword was seen as a lurker before Mr Google educated me. I had most trouble with the tree in 25a. Never heard of it which is embarrassing as I did a HND in timber technology many years ago. I guess its not used in construction? Therefore 20d was my last in. Thanks to Dutch for some excellent hints and Elkamere for the brain (s)training.

  12. Very enjoyable puzzle with nice concise clues. I didn’t find it 4-star for difficulty, but certainly not easy.

    Favourites were 7d, 10d and particularly 5d.

    Thanks to Elkamere and Dutch.

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