Toughie 2178 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
View closed comments 

Toughie 2178

Toughie No 2178 by Elkamere

Hints and tips by Dutch

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

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

I’ve enjoyed every Elkamere puzzle I’ve ever done and today is no exception. In the past they have sometimes been fiendishly difficult; less so recently – which is just fine by me. I like to think that if they are more accessible, more people will enjoy them. I am, as always, in awe of the precise and concise clues. Enjoy.

As usual, the definitions are underlined. The hints are intended to help you unravel the wordplay. You can reveal the answers by clicking on the See you in two weeks after my skiing holiday! buttons. Please leave a comment letting us know how you got on.


1a    Spare plastic potty (12)
SUPPLEMENTAL: A word meaning plastic or flexible and a word meaning potty or deranged

8a    A giant in any way (2,3)
AT ALL: A from the clue plus a word meaning giant or large

9a    Clubs always protected by plastic film (4,5)
VICE VERSA: Film as in the name of a movie. The abbreviation for clubs plus a word meaning always go inside (protected by) a company that gives you a piece of plastic you can pay with

11a    Far end of Alsace Lorraine rebuilt some time ago (7,2)
EARLIER ON: The last letter (far end) of Alsace plus an anagram (rebuilt) of LORRAINE

12a    Look to secure large coat (5)
GLAZE: A shiny coat e.g. when cooking or firing pottery. A 4-letter word for look includes (to secure) the abbreviation for large

13a    Drunk Peruvian artist dismissed from lesson? (9)
INCAPABLE: An old Peruvian, then the abbreviation for artist is omitted from a (sometimes biblical) story with a moral lesson

16a    Single in resort city of Italy (5)
TURIN: The letter that looks like a single or one goes inside a word that can mean resort, as in to resort to violence

18a    Antibody extremely likely to do bad (5)
LYSIN: The extreme letters of likely plus a verb meaning to do bad. I thought the answer was an enzyme; turns out it can also be an antibody that breaks down cells

19a    I simply have to have it (9)
OWNERSHIP: When one has, then they can claim this

20a    Oddly smug, for a senior cop (5)
SUPER: Odd letters in smug, plus another word meaning for

22a    Awful couple hiding son in poor condition (9)

DISREPAIR: A word for awful plus a word for couple contains (is hiding) the abbreviation for son

25a    Free spirits? (9)
DISEMBODY: A very sneaky cryptic definition made to look like a double definition. Rufus did a lot of that. Not easy-going people, but a verb meaning to release spirits

26a    Glue pictures into frames (5)
RESIN: Hidden (… frames)

27a    Guarded, but without being locked up? (3-9)
NON-COMMITTAL: Two meanings, the first meaning careful or tentative, the second more whimsical


1d    National emblems put on ice (9)
SHAMROCKS: Put on or fake, plus a word meaning ice (as in a whisky)

2d    Hoard one’s caps (5)
PILEI: Caps of mushrooms. A word meaning hoard plus the Roman numeral for one

3d    See extremely short admirer (5)
LOVER: A short word meaning see, then the first 3 letters (short) of a 4-letter word meaning extremely

4d    Ancient Greek enemy can, manoeuvring around area (9)
MYCENAEAN: An anagram (manoeuvring) of ENEMY CAN goes around the abbreviation for area

5d    New pilot captures good sailor (9)
NAVIGATOR: The abbreviation for new, then another word for pilot goes around (captures) the abbreviation for good

6d    Courts express thanks on retirement (5)
ATRIA: A reversal (on retirement) of a 3-letter verb meaning to express or broadcast plus a short form of thanks

7d    Potentially it is ‘made real’ (12)
MATERIALISED: An anagram (potentially) of IT IS MADE REAL. Is this an all-in-one or a semi-all-in one? Interestingly, Elkamere has quoted the core definition. Usually, in a semi-all-in the wordplay does not cover the entire clue. Here it does. So, I’ll call this an all-in-one,with the whole clue as the definition. 

10d    Magnificent would-be nurses we accepted? (3-9)
AWE-INSPIRING: A word meaning would-be or aiming to be contains (nurses) WE from the clue plus a word meaning accepted or with-it

14d    Extensive alarm about old butter (9)
PANORAMIC: A 5-letter word meaning alarm contains (about) the abbreviation for old plus a farm animal known for butting

15d    Way to cut open type of carpet (9)
BROADLOOM: A way or street goes inside (to cut) a verb meaning open, as a flower might

17d    To break concrete, picks up drill (9)
REHEARSAL: A verb meaning picks up (with the ears) goes inside (to break) a word meaning concrete or factual

21d    Irritation over Italian sauce (5)
PESTO: An irritating person plus the abbreviation for over

23d    Pen — also 51 pens (5)
STYLI: A pen or enclosure, plus the roman numeral for 51

24d    To illustrate, soak wader (5)
EGRET: A Latin abbreviation meaning to illustrate as an example, plus a word I didn’t know that means soak

My favourite today was 7a but the concise cryptic definition (25a) pretending to be a double definition came very close. I also particularly enjoyed 1a, 11a, 26a, 17d. Which clues did you like?

16 comments on “Toughie 2178

  1. Definitely at the more accessible end of the Toughie spectrum.

    Following an email ‘discussion’ this morning, I’d be interested to know whether other solvers think that Elkamere is getting kinder or we are getting more used to his crosswords.

    Either way, the usual high enjoyment factor continues for which we continue to be most grateful

    1. I usually struggle with Elkamere Toughies, but either I’m improving or it’s as you said, the setter is getting kinder. I enjoyed this one – in a couple of sittings either side of garden pond maintenance and a little other garden work. I needed a couple or so parsings from Dutch, otherwise fairly plain sailing. Thanks to all.

  2. First unaided Elkamere for me! Very enjoyable. I liked all but especially 1a, 7d and 27a. Thanks to Elkamere and Dutch

  3. The usual Elkish brilliance which I really enjoyed, especially as much of it went in at a much un-Elkish pace. Seems I’m not alone there. The last five took me forever though – literally forever, in fact, as I never did get 2d without the help of the brb.

    A few other unknowns in 18a, 4d and 15d, and if I’ve met the 24d soak before (I bet it’s not new in crosswordland) I’ve forgotten it.

    A couple of cracking cryptic definitions (19a and 25a), but the great all-in-one at 7d is my favourite.

    Thanks Elkamere and Dutch – enjoy your holiday, and please stay in one unbroken piece.

  4. I think he probably is. Very nice puzzle all the same, and not without toughness, this and today’s Times have kept me occupied for most of the morning! Worth the entry though. Now to try Phi and Paul.

    1. I often do the Times together with a friend, who gets the paper and he is usually a bit quicker than me. However, if I pull out an Elkamere, it is clear that I have the upper hand.

      So I think there is a lot to be said for the argument that we are becoming more used to Elkamere’s crosswords. For example 10d I was pretty sure nurses would be a containment indicator, in15d to cut would be an insertion indicator, and frames would be a hidden, etc. for=per. Not totally unique to Elkamere, but he does like that style

  5. I don’t normally attempt Elkamere’s puzzles but I thought I’d give this one a try today. Although it was pretty tough for me, (a lot of) persistence paid off in the end, and very enjoyable it was too.

    This is a setter whose cluing tends to make Ray T’s look verbose, but one cannot be other than very impressed at the accuracy of his wordplay in spite of the brevity.

    I learnt some more new words for the answers to 18a & 2d and the part of 24d clued by “soak”. My only quibble is that I thought the definition for the otherwise excellent 9a was rather unfair.

    I had lots of ticks and my favourite was 1a, with 19a, 25a & 23d not far behind.

    Many thanks to Elkamere and to Dutch.

  6. As with Kitty most of the answers went in fairly swiftly then it was a question of working out what various remaining answers (the 2d pile, the 18a antibody and the 24d soak) ‘should’ be from the wordplay and checkers and verifying in the BRB that I’d got the right end of the stick.
    My ticks went to 19a (reminiscent of Rufus?), 7d and 17d. Thanks to Elkamere and Dutch.
    To answer CS’s question I have the distinct impression that Elkamere has turned down his toughness notch somewhat recently. If this continues he may be moved to Wednesdays (a transfer that I would have no hesitation in welcoming!).

  7. Not fiendish, but every bit as enjoyable for it’s super-smoothness. Just right.

    Thanks Elkamere and Dutch for, admittedly, a nudge or two.

  8. Started slowly but made good progress until tripping up on 25a with “Disembark”.

    I couldn’t finish and eventually had to consult Dutch for the missing answers, including 2d which was new to me.

    On a Friday puzzle, this was still a decent result for me and I enjoyed the struggle and the several “doh” moments!

    Favourites were 7d, 17d.

    Thanks to Elkamere and Dutch.

  9. Excellent fun. We really appreciate the concise precise nature of the clues and enjoy this level of difficulty.
    Thanks Elkamere and Dutch.

  10. Came late to this one and encountered a few problems in the top section where, unlike everyone else it would seem, I wasn’t too convinced by the definition of 1a. I also didn’t know 2d or the 9a film.

    Ah well – managed everything else without resorting to the hints!

    Thanks to Elkamere and to Dutch for the excellent blog and the help with 1&9a. Enjoy your holiday and try not to think about how much it’s costing you to pay for the necessary dog-sitting services!

  11. wrong envelope for me today. finished the toughie (albeit with an abundance of ?s where i can’t fully parse my answers) but struggled in the se of the daily. thanks to setters & bloggers.

Comments are closed.