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Toughie 2222

Toughie No 2222 by Elgar

Hints and tips by Dutch

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

Today we have Elgar’s 133rd Telegraph Toughie. You can probably spot how the puzzle alludes to this quite readily, perhaps even before starting. The puzzle is also a pangram. I started off at a reasonable pace, but soon found plenty of clues that took me a while to understand.

The definitions are underlined. The hints and tips are intended to help you unravel the wordplay, but you can always reveal the answer by clicking on the (1,3,3) enumeration of 8 clues buttons. Please leave a comment telling us how you got on and what you thought.



1a     Essence of local notice that Four Cups must close, it’s said, for a spell (11)
ABRACADABRA: The central letter (essence) of local plus a short word for a notice are contained in (that … must close) a repeat of an item of underwear, each with 2 cups, hence 4 in total


8a    Jones’s last major hit on which nobody performed work? The reverse (5,6)
GREEN ONIONS: A reversal of (the reverse): The last letter in Jones, where a major hit would be in the charts, another word for nobody, and a unit of work done or performed. We’re talking about Booker T. Jones


11a     Remark wingers of Les Bleus should be red-carded (4)
QUIP: Les Blues would indicate a French word for team from which the outer letters (wingers) have been sent off (red-carded)

12a     Spenser’s easily part of Poet Heritage (4)
ETHE: Hidden (part of …). Not a word I knew

13a     Ailurophile’s top facilitator of tunes, one shilling rings … and turkey? (1,3,3)
A BAD JOB: The first letter (top) of Ailurophile, then a 2-letter abbreviation for a facilitator of tunes goes inside ( … rings) one shilling. The clue is a reference to:

15a     Your clubs, Mr Benitez, rejected another cup of tea (1,3,3)
A FAR CRY: Reversal of (rejected) a 2-letter abbreviation for your, the card abbreviation for clubs, and the informal first name of Mr Benitez

16a     East coast Scots bay topped west coast one off (5)
BANFF: A west coast Scots bay and OFF from the clue with their first letters removed (topped)

17a     In tears – no gal to kiss and cuddle (4)
SNOG: Hidden (In … )

18a     Back to London, whither the M1 goes further (4)
THEN: Split (3,1), this is where the M1 goes, if you have your back to London

19a     Game-maker from Arab state? No question (5)
ATARI: Remove the single-letter abbreviation for question from the start of a 6-letter word meaning ‘from Arab state’

21a     Arch-playmate Eve’s back’s out, chit trapping the nerve! (1,3,3)
I ASK YOU: “Hello, Playmates” was the catchphrase of English comedian Arthur Askey. Remove the last letter (back) of Eve from his surname then insert into (trapping) an abbreviation for a chit or credit note

22a     Not much time left to put back tracks removed (not right) (1,3,3)
A FAT LOT: The abbreviations for time and left plus a reversal (put back) of TO follows (tracks) a word meaning removed or distant without the final R (not right)

23a     Feature of last month‘s retro house name (4)
NOEL: The reversal of (retro) a sign of the zodiac plus the abbreviation for name

26a     Motor man reported by Macduie and Nevis? (4)
BENZ: A homophone (reported by) of geographical features exemplified by MacDuie and Nevis (the two highest)

27a     Quick, hide stuff being cut in review (3,3,5)
RUN FOR COVER: A 5-letter verb that can mean stuff or cram without its last letter (cut) goes inside a (3,4) phrase meaning to review

28a     Affected youth who reportedly runs a hostel by the end of the Northern Line (6,5)
HOORAY HENRY: A homophone (reportedly) of who, the abbreviation for runs, A from the clue, the OS Map abbreviation for youth hostel, the last letter of the, the abbreviation for Northern and an abbreviation for railway (line).


2d     Massage, needing wind up, ultimately? (4)
BURP: The whole clue is wordplay, and also the definition of a verb that you might apply to a baby, for example. A reversal (needing wind) of a word for massage, and the last (ultimately) letter of up.

3d     Web of pathetic lies between mariner and brass (1,3,3)
A FEW BOB: An anagram (pathetic) of WEB OF lies in the middle of an abbreviation for mariner or sailor

4d     A show of affection allowed? Bit of a nerve! (4)
AXON: A from the clue, a letter used as an indication of affection, and a short word that can mean allowed or acceptable

5d     An expert dropping in without it’s rather tasteless (1,3,3)
A BIT OFF: Another way of saying ‘An expert’ (1,6) dropping the final IN goes around (without) IT

6d     Mysterious character reared in the nursery (4)
RUNE: Reverse hidden (reared in …)

7d     Balance demonstrated using these pairs of parallel bars? (6,5)
EQUALS SIGNS: A cryptic definition describing the plural of a mathematical symbol

8d     US resident regrets ‘no malignancy’ is showing up (4,7)
GILA MONSTER: Reverse hidden (… is showing up)

9d     He’s broken when investing in Crooks Ltd. foolishly? (11)
STOCKHOLDER: An all-in-one. HE from the clue is inserted (when investing in) separately (broken) into an anagram (foolishly) of CROOKS LTD

10d    Bring back into room douane’s case: checking counter spot phoney operative (11)
DEHYPNOTIZE: The outer letters (case) of douane followed by an anagram (operative) of PHONEY which contains (checking) a reversal of (counter) a 3-letter spot

14d    African six-footer stops drunk in Paris (5)
BANTU: A six-footed animal goes inside (stops) the French word for the verb drunk

15d    African Tree Day no longer observed by a scientist (5)
AFARA: Remove the word ‘day’ from (no longer observed by) the end of ‘A’ British electrochemist

19d    Into impersonating Elvis? Well, it’s … the money (1,3,3)
A ONE FOR: The answer, which Chambers defines as “an enthusiast for” completes the second half of the clue to give the first line of a Carl Perkins song that became an Elvis hit.

20d    Take me on whenever mineral collects (1,3,3)
I FOR ONE: Insert (… collects) ON from the clue into a word for whenever plus a word for mineral

24d     Upset building block of course loses me race for four tokens (4)
LUDO: Remove (loses) the letters in ME from the reversal of (upset) a building block in a teaching course

25d     A little revelry groups may get up to? (4)
ORGY: All-in-one reverse hidden (A little … may get up to)

26d     Have to carry teddy? (4)
BEAR: Three meanings, the third being a kind of animal


Plenty of clever stuff. I enjoyed the reference to Booker T and the MGs (8a). I thought 13a was clever. 9d made me smile – very nice. And lots of little things, I liked “building block of course” (24d) and “drunk in Paris” (14d). Which were your favourite clues?


22 comments on “Toughie 2222

  1. Elgar in full 5*/5* Toughie mode – interesting to have the monster turn up for a second day running – you don’t realise how many A xxx xxx expressions they are until they all turn up in a themed pangram. Hard to pick favourites but I’ll go for 1a and 1d, both of which made me smile

    Thanks to Elgar for an entertaining brain-mangling and to Dutch for the blog

  2. Great stuff from Elgar as ever. It was fortunate that 1a also appeared in the Times yesterday, must have been in my head as it was a nice one to start with.
    Favourite 19a, mainly due to the youthful memories it evoked playing pong!

    Thanks Dutch, a daunting task to unravel that lot.

  3. Tremendous and very tough puzzle from Elgar – thanks to him and Dutch. I usually ignore the puzzle number themes but this one leapt out at me immediately. On the other hand I failed to notice that it was a pangram.
    I needed Mr Google’s help to establish which Jones (such a common name) was referenced in 8a and the ‘US resident’ in 8d.
    I have loads of clues ticked on my printout, including 1a, 11a, 28a and 2d.

  4. Thanks to Elgar and to Dutch for the review and hints. I managed to get 13 answers, which kind of fitted the theme😁 The rest of it was very entertaining, once I’d looked at the hints. The wordplay is out of this world. Way too advanced for me.

  5. Didn’t have chance to attempt this one today but popped in to read the blog and must say thank you to Dutch for the inclusion of The Steve Miller Band and Booker T – quite made my day!

  6. Wow, that was hard but we got there with a little electronic help. We suspected a pangram, but couldn’t find the ‘W’ that Dutch seems to have.

    Lots of really great clues but 8d was outstanding.

    Thanks to Dutch and Elgar.

        1. My head hurts, just done the Nimrod in the “i” newspaper which i’m led to believe are no longer recycled Indy puzzles but now originals. Mr Henderson in fiendish form indeed :)

  7. Superb. Thanks to Elgar and Dutch. 8a took me an age to parse but got there in the end

  8. Great to see that the site is working on my windows phone again.
    Had to delete it from my favourites as it prevented me from opening other pages.
    Everything seems OK now.
    Didn’t know the African tree in 15d and the answer to 12a but both were easily checked.
    Took me most of the day, on and off, but managed to complete this 1,3,3 Elgar.
    On Sunday evening, I had a table booked for 30 people from Mercedes Benz. What a coincidence.
    Great puzzle. Thanks to Elgar.
    Thanks also to Dutch for the review.

  9. Classic Elgar – great workout – many thanks to Elgar and Dutch (Letters in all the holes but I needed a couple of parsings).

    Am I the first or is no one else wanting to reveal themselves? What’s the connection with 133?

    For the life of me I can’t see one .

      1. Can’t believe I didn’t see that. D’oh!
        Cheers Gazza (…and thanks for asking, JS)

      2. D’oh – thanks.
        Missed it completely – even having noted that there seemed to be a lot of 7-letter lights split that way as I went along. The only excuse I can offer is that at the end of one of these my brain has turned into a mess of putty.

  10. Wow my head hurts! Four days of popping in and out of this puzzle and finally finished with help from my wife looking at Dutch’s tips for me. Thanks Dutch but it didn’t help you’ve stuck a ‘c’ in Abracadabra and missed an’s’ off equals signs!
    Despite all the reverence to the great Elgar, and he is a superb setter, I’m afraid I’m going to go against the grain here and declare this is him trying to be too clever, there’s an unusual dare I say it elitist feel in the very complex and drawn out parsing of the words. The African tree a perfect example of this if you haven’t got the knowledge of African trees or the scientist there’s no clever parsing to help you out.
    Contrasting with this the lay out of the grid to incorporate the 133 theme involves too many poor clues for short words. Is ‘Then’ the best that can be done for a four letter clue? And is ‘Then’ not a little tenuous for further? I still can’t work out the Ludo parsing though it was a bung in? Also can hypnotize not be spelt with an s which means the two Bens could be an s not a z?
    Sorry but I didn’t find this enjoyable at all and I’m sure it’s not a case of being a poor loser as I love the Friday toughies even when they defeat me but sorry for me this was a one to two star for enjoyment.
    Rant over for my one yearly contribution and I do love reading the comments surprisingly there doesn’t seem to be any other dissenting voices so I accept I may be in the minority but for me trying to be too clever with too many short words spoilt this Friday toughie.

    1. You’ve used your name rather than your original alias

      Your comment about the extra C in abracadabra explains the comment posted the other day.

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