Toughie 2206 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 2206

Toughie No 2206 by Elkamere

Hints and tips by Dutch

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

A pleasant surprise to find an Elkamere at the end of the week – a pangram no less. This puzzle is nicely subtle, with several clues that I entered tentatively and only worked out why they were right later on. There are some very nice changes in part-of-speech between definition and surface, and as always the clues are impressively concise.

The definitions are underlined. The hints are intended to guide you through the wordplay, and you can reveal answers by clicking on the ANSWER buttons


1a    Outlaws in court, about 59 returning (6)
EXILES: A reversal (returning) of to court or date about the Roman numeral for 59

5a    Boy captivated by shy cleaner (8)
CHARLADY: A young man is contained (captivated) by a word meaning shy or wary

9a    Having returned to teach history (10)
BACKGROUND: a 4-letter word meaning ‘having returned’ and a verb meaning to teach or instruct, especially the basics

10a    Swallow cake the wrong way (4)
GULP: A reversal (the wrong way) of a cake or flattened mass, especially of tobacco

11a    Poison some drinking water (8)
PARAQUAT: a 4-letter word meaning some, or a piece of, covers (drinking) an originally Latin word for water

12a    Get in contact with nurses a bit suspiciously (6)
OBTAIN: A preposition meaning in contact with contains (nurses) an anagram (suspiciously) of A BIT

13a    Kid Jensen’s old Smash Hits introductions? (4)
JOSH: First letters ( … introductions)

15a    Basic uniform, grey, and torn dresses (8)
RUDIMENT: Another word for torn covers (dresses) the letter coded by the international radio communication Uniform plus another word for grey or dull

18a    Who might spot booby and warbler? (8)
TWITCHER: A semi-all-in-one. A 4-letter booby or idiot plus a warbler or singer (Believe, If I could turn back time, etc). Of course booby and warbler are also birds

19a    With tip at wrong end, spare key (4)
REEF: A word meaning spare as in unused has it’s first letter moved to the end (with tip at wrong end)

21a    Food item baked after dance music (6)
ALASKA: A (1,2) phrase meaning after or in the fashion of, plus some reggae-like dance music

23a    Air-traffic control attendant smuggling one parcel (8)
PILOTAGE: A 4-letter attendant contains (smuggling) the Roman numeral one plus a parcel or portion

25a    Volume of glue (4)
SIZE: Two meanings, the second a weak glue for stiffening paper

26a    Way too expensive for most? (4,6)
EASY STREET: A cryptic definition for a position of affluence with a pun on way

27a    Full pint, no head, great when knocked back (8)
INTEGRAL: (p)INT from the clue without the first letter (no head), then the reversal (knocked back) of a word meaning great or big

28a    Rum, say, yet bubbly (6)
YEASTY: An anagram (rum) of SAY YET


2d    Ancient statues by old canal banks lost (5)
XOANA: The letter used for multiplication (by), the abbreviation of old, then canal without the outer letters (banks lost). (Not a word I knew, but clear from wordplay)

3d    Outright sluggish? (4,1,4)
LIKE A SHOT: Two meanings, the first in the sense of immediate, and the second more whimsical as in pellet-ish

4d    Opening of rose in rose bud (6)
SPROUT: The first letter (opening) of rose goes in a rose or sprinkler

5d    A matching offer, or a different one (15)
COUNTERPROPOSAL: A different offer of ‘matching’ or marriage

6d    Robots did so — ran amok (8)
ANDROIDS: An anagram (amok) of DID SO RAN

7d    Just go (5)
LEGIT: Split (3,2), the answer would mean leave in a hurry

8d    Flirting daughter’s marriage (9)
DALLIANCE: The abbreviation for daughter plus another for marriage or union

14d    Area held by soldiers, effectively home after 1984 (9)
ORWELLIAN: The abbreviation for area goes inside an abbreviation for soldiers, an adverb meaning effectively or skilfully, plus the preposition meaning home

16d    Across desert, low air rises, freezes (9)
MORATORIA: Freezes is a noun here – a clever mislead. A bovine low goes across a verb meaning to desert, then a reversal (rises) of air

17d    Bird — last to eat toast? (8)
WHEATEAR: No, not the last letter of eat plus a word meaning toast. A verb meaning to last or endure contains (to eat) a verb meaning to toast or to warm

20d    Absolutely fills a Yorkshireman’s bags (3,3)
I’LL SAY: Hidden ( … bags)

22d    Riddle is, conversely, always unfinished (5)
SIEVE: A reversal (conversely) of IS from the clue, then a 4-letter word meaning always without the last letter (unfinished)

24d    Caller imagined being heard (5)
GUEST: A homophone (being heard) of a word meaning imagined

I’m going to have to go for the full pint as my favourite (27a), though there is a lot to like. My runner-up would be contacting the nurses on the sly (12a)

18 comments on “Toughie 2206

  1. An enjoyable toughie to end the week. I liked 21a

    Thanks to Elkamere and Dutch

  2. Very enjoyable end to the week as yesterday’s toughie brought a smile to face as did this one. Enjoyed 7d
    Thanks to Elkamere and Dutch

  3. Very entertaining – thanks to Elkamere and Dutch. I found the top easier than the bottom and I was held up for some time in the SE corner.
    I don’t really see how the 3d answer means outright? I thought the phrase meant rapidly or without delay.
    I particularly enjoyed the 18a warbler and the 5a shy cleaner but the clues on my podium today are 11a, 21a and 14d with 11a on the top step.

      1. OK – I thought that outright meant completely but one of the meanings the BRB gives is ‘at once’.

  4. I always find Elkamere’s puzzles hard but can never understand afterwards why I struggled so much when his clues are always fair.
    Needless to say, the two ‘birdy’ ones topped my list today with third place going to 26a.

    Thanks to Elkamere (hope all well with you) and to Dutch for the blog. Hardly surprising that the boy was captivated if the family 5a looked like the one in your pic!

  5. I found this a hugely enjoyable puzzle, but progress was hard fought throughout. In the end I was defeated only by 2d. I agree with Dutch that it was clear from the word play, but I wasn’t able to let go of the terra cotta ancient statutes in xi’an. Many thanks to Elkamere and Dutch.

  6. Thank you to both Elkamere and Dutch — I enjoyed the puzzle, and enjoyed that the hints meant I was able to solve more of it.

    My favourite was 7d: not much to it, but it made me smile when I got it.

  7. Perhaps the fastest Elkamere we’ve ever completed so, yes, we thought it was great.

    We had an early stumble when, without checkers, we put in HINT at 19a (spare=thin, hint=cue/key (per Thesaurus)). Well, it worked for us. Once corrected, we could complete the SE corner.

    Thanks to Dutch and Elkamere for a fine way to end the Toughie week.

  8. Certainly not a quick solve for us but good fun all the way. Noting the pangram did help us with the last couple of answers.
    Thanks Elkamere and Dutch.

  9. PS: Am I right in thinking that question marks in clues are when there’s something particularly tricksy going on? I was surprised to see one on 13a: it seems like a straightforward single-word definition followed by wordplay that explains itself. Am I missing something?


    1. I think you’re right, that QM does not look essential

      questions marks also get used to indicate a definition by example, along with words like maybe and perhaps (not the case here, just adding another example of when QM’s are used)

  10. Many thanks for the blog Dutch, and hello all. Sorry I’m late, had a weekend away.
    Yes, about that QM. Back in the day – not that long ago actually – The Times didn’t like examples like ‘band leader’ for B, preferring ‘leader of band’, until the rule was changed. But it’s a strange thing; whenever I use an indicator that way round I feel very vaguely uncomfortable about it. Irrational I know, but the QM just acknowledges that it’s something that didn’t always meet with approval.

    1. The QM is necessary for the surface, and fine in my book.

      I think crosswords have to evolve (sorry Ximmies), just as language does. I have no problem with ‘band leader’ for B, but I can see that ‘band’s leader’ is more accurate.

      As for QMs, I usually have to go back and delete lots of them (unless completely necessary), otherwise most of my clues would have one.

      But then again, I haven’t passed my test yet… :smile:

    2. Thanks, Elkamere — that makes sense. Thank you again for the fun puzzle, and even more so for turning up here in person to answer questions.

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