Toughie 2158 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 2158

Toughie No 2158 by Elkamere

Hints and tips by Dutch

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

Elkamere is in a kind mood today. This is an excellent puzzle that should be fun also for those who normally tackle the back-pager. Elkamere’s usual trademarks of concise clueing, clever wordplay and nicely disguised definitions make this a pleasure to solve.

Definitions are underlined. The hints are intended to help you unravel the wordplay, and you can reveal the answers by clicking on the click here! buttons. Please leave a comment telling us how you got on and what you thought


1a    TV detective left for a bit (6)
MORSEL: A TV detective plus the abbreviation for left

5a    Renovation papers rejected, in fact (8)
FACELIFT: A word for a collection of papers is reversed (rejected) inside (in) FACT from the clue

9a    A smelly sweet to eat (10)
AFTERSHAVE: A word for sweet or dessert plus a word meaning to eat (to **** dinner). I’m guessing the definition as a noun is slang.

10a    Victim just needs time (4)
BUTT: A conjunction which can be used an adverb to mean just, plus the abbreviation for time

11a    Wax that’s powdery? (8)
FLOURISH: Wax is a verb here. The answer is a verb but can be whimsically read as an adjective to mean powdery

12a    Beat Marines when capturing most of Hythe (6)
RHYTHM: The abbreviation for the Marines captures the first 4 letters (most) of HYTH[e] from the clue

13a    Miss a party (4)
GALA: Another word for a miss, as in young lady, plus A from the clue

15a    Start of fight put back or cancelled (5,3)
ROUND ONE: A reversal (put back) of OR from the clue plus a word meaning cancelled

18a    Equally average entertainer? (8)
COMEDIAN: Split 2-6, the answer whimsically means equally average

19a    Staunch supporter? (4)
STEM: Two meanings: the first to stop the flow of, the second a supporting part of a plant

21a    Blank sign or empty boxes (6)
IGNORE: Hidden (… boxes)

23a    Against moving to old capital of Chile (8)
SANTIAGO: An anagram (moving) of AGAINST plus the abbreviation for old. Nice of Elk to give us the country.

25a    Screen, if getting in the way (4)
SIFT: IF from the clue goes in an abbreviation for a kind of way or road

26a    Navigator needs a career, as all of us! (4,6)
ABEL TASMAN: A from the clue, a word meaning career as in go fast, AS from the clue, and a generic word for ‘all of us’

27a    Liking to write song (8)
PENCHANT: A 3-letter verb meaning to write plus another word for song

28a    Rope, one that pulls up? (6)
HALTER: Two meanings: the first a rope or leash, the second more whimsical, involving a car


2d    Refuse to eat? (5)
OFFAL: A cryptic definition with a pun on refuse

3d    Bet clue’s composed in a rush (9)
SPECULATE: An anagram (‘s composed) of CLUE goes in another word for a sudden rush

4d    Story about airhead Scottish girl (6)
LASSIE: A story or fabrication goes about an airhead or fool

5d    Appropriate stuff to use down where you live? (7,4,4)
FEATHER ONE’S NEST: Two meanings, the first is to accumulate wealth in a dodgy way, the second a literal interpretation

6d    Empty box with shell-like interior (5,3)
CLEAR OUT: A word meaning box has something shell-like inside

7d    Lift next to waiting room (5)
LOBBY: A lift or high toss and a small word meaning ‘next to’

8d    Big break that won’t happen (3,6)
FAT CHANCE: A word for big or paunchy and a word for break or opportunity

14d    Poorly one is glad to get by (9)
ALONGSIDE: An anagram (poorly) of ONE IS GLAD

16d    One’s spades put in dark sack (9)
DISMISSAL: The Roman numeral for one, the ‘S, and the abbreviation for spades go inside (in) an adjective meaning dark or gloomy

17d    Type of old film replaced in camera (8)
CINERAMA: An anagram (replaced) of IN CAMERA

20d    Grab the end of this, of course (6)
SNATCH: The last letter (end) of this, plus a slang word meaning of course

22d    Of eye surgery, leading to spasm (5)
OPTIC: A 2-letter informal word for surgery plus a word meaning spasm

24d    Kiss, as some animals do (5)
GRAZE: Two meanings, the first being to touch lightly, the second a way of feeding

My favourite is 14d for the beautiful way the wordplay leads into the definition. I also really liked 15a, because the reversal indicator is such a natural part of the surface, and because of the way the answer is split for wordplay. I loved the double definitions. 19a is a classic case where we have two words, independent meanings with the clue surface referring to something else altogether. The whimsical definitions were a lot of fun. Which were your favourites?

15 comments on “Toughie 2158

  1. First Elkamere that I have ever managed to finish unaided. Many lovely “aha” moments. Echo Dutch’s comments re the concise cluing.
    Thanks to all

  2. If you didn’t know how far in advance crosswords are submitted to a crossword editor, you’d wonder whether Elkamere had been given a new pair of fluffy slippers for Christmas

    Nice concise clues – albeit with a few old friends – and an enjoyable time was had while it lasted

    Thanks to Elkamere and Dutch

  3. Elkamere is indeed being kind today – I think the relative gentleness is partly down to his deciding to be unusually helpful with the clues (e.g. TV in 1a, ‘fact’ in 5a, Chile in 23a).
    It is extremely enjoyable – my ticks went to 9a, 11a, 15a and 5d.
    Thanks to Elkamere and Dutch.

  4. That was really enjoyable. May have been ‘fluffy’ in the eyes of CS but for this ‘lesser’ Toughie solver, it was an opportunity to relish the cleverness of this setter without finishing up with a paper covered in question marks!

    GK let me down with 26a but managed to get there via the wordplay and checkers – no other problems to report.
    My top three were 9,11 & 15a but many others were worthy of mention.

    Thanks to Elkamere and to Dutch for an excellent blog.

  5. On the advice of a certain lady resident of Anglesey, I think that this is the first Elkamere I have ever attempted (I normally pass on Thursday and Friday Toughies) and I found it not overly tough and very enjoyable with completion at a gallop – **/****.

    As Gazza says, there were some very helpful clues – 1a just about wrote itself in and there was an air of familiarity with some others, 19a for example.

    Having come up with a surname for Mr 26a, I did have to resort to Google for his first name, (oh dear) something else to remember.

    Favourite has to be 5d for being a 15 letter non-anagram and it also seems to be familiar.

    Thanks to Elkamere and Dutch.

  6. TV detective? The next TV detective I watch will be the first. The accompanying illustration for one across is the sort of salad I prepare for myself if Saint Sharon isn’t around. Lovely with a cold beer. 19ac and 1 and 3d caused the hold ups Otherwise doable and off the wall enough to qualify as a Toughie. Ta to all.

  7. Elegant is the word that springs to mind for this puzzle. Beautifully crafted concise clues that made solving a sheer delight.
    Thoroughly enjoyed.
    Thanks Elkamere and Dutch.

    PS. Think you may have an S missing from your synonym for sweet in hint for 9a Dutch.

  8. I’ve always found Elkamere very tough and usually give up on him but this was on my level. A doddle for CS is just right for me.Very enjoyable. Thank you setter and Dutch.

  9. Just to be different: while there were indeed plenty of ways in, some of this kept me puzzling into a Friday Toughie kind of time. Plus, didn’t quite manage to finish without external help as I gave in at the last and asked Mr K for a hint for 26a. I’ll be in the corner wearing the dunce’s cap.

    Wonderful stuff of course, very much enjoyed.

    Finding it hard to pick favourites. Between them, Dutch and Gazza have pretty much got it covered, so instead I’ll pick one of those not yet mentioned: 24d.

    Thanks Elkamere and Dutch.

  10. I too normally steer clear of Elkamere but I thought I would give this one a go and I’m really glad I did. After the extremely verbose cluing in the back-pager, this was a treat in terms of brevity, and overall it was far less difficult than I was expecting albeit still very challenging.

    I needed Google for 26a but, that apart, it all came together with a bit of persistence.

    Many thanks to Elkamere for a very enjoyable puzzle and to Dutch.

  11. Clearly alone, I found this well into 5 star territory,,,,,on first read through. Wearing the wrong hat as on third reading it fell enjoyably into place, The brevity of the clues is good to see. Many i liked but am with Gazza – 9a, 11a, 15a and 5d. Thanks Elkamere and Dutch.

    1. I think i am attuned to Elkamere: even before I met him, I enjoyed his puzzles immensely. That probably makes it easier for me, i recognise his clueing patterns. If you are not used to that, i’m sure it is hard. Hopefully satisfying though, and of course the more you do, the better you get.

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