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Toughie 2294

Toughie No 2294 by Elgar

Hints and tips by Dutch

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

This is Elgar’s 135th Telegraph Toughie. As usual, that is the basis for a theme. I got carried away with a cricket theme, dangerous as I know nothing of cricket – I was thinking 135 was the unbeaten number of runs by 23a Stokes, and I had plucked, I thought, a convincing number of cricketers from the grid. I should have paid more attention to 28d – the thematic royal is of course also our favourite bard. Full explanation at the end of the blog – I don’t know how he does it, very impressive.

This solve was steady progress for me, although it took me a while to see some of the parsings (surprise, surprise). As is often the case, I appreciated the clues much more when writing the blog.

Definitions are underlined. The Hints and Tips are intended to help you unravel the wordplay, and you can reveal the answer by clicking on the click here buttons. Please leave a comment telling us what you thought.


6a    Film with Van Damme, you and I eying duo askance (2,3,5)
WE DIE YOUNG: A pronoun meaning you and I, plus an anagram (askance) of EYING DUO

8a    Tie is rearranged with United in case (4)
ETUI: An anagram (is rearranged) of TIE with U inserted (within)

9a    Being cut up during West End run? (2,7)
IN THEATRE: Two definitions, the first refers to your location during an operation

11a    Individuals in school tremble after Head’s expulsion (4)
HAKE: A 5-letter word for tremble without the first letter (after Head’s expulsion)

12a    Like Rodin’s second Thinker? (3)
EGO: An abbreviation that can mean like, or for example, plus the second letter in Rodin

13a    Outlaw receives name of one supplying still bedding down in nursery (4,5)
BABY LINEN: A 3-letter verb meaning to outlaw contains (receiving) the word for the text under a photograph (still) in a newspaper giving the photographer’s name

16a    French city herald-in-chief (4)
LYON: Two definitions

17a    Support for nautical types given to anxiety about lugger’s bow (7)
CARLING: A word meaning given to anxiety or prone to concern goes about the first letter (bow) of lugger’s

18a    Old dealer in game, maybe Texas hold’em, blowing a thousand in the last cut (7)
POULTER: A type of card game exemplified by Texas hold’em, losing the central K (blowing a thousand) but inserting (cut) the abbreviation for ‘in the last’ (month)

20a    Just reconnected parts of 16 (4)
ONLY: Reconnect the two halves (reconnected parts) of the answer to 16

21a    Island folk re-routing river at mouth, as I can do (9)
ORCADIANS: An anagram (rerouting) of R(iver)+AS I CAN DO

23a    What Bill looks like from behind? (3)
BEN: Reversal (what … looks like from behind) another word for bill or beak to give the name of another flowerpot man

24a    Brilliant satirist exercises to rear of chamber (4)
POPE: An abbreviation for exercises comes after a 2-letter chamberpot or chamber

25a    Cry with laughter swapping tops, not a patch on anybody else? (9)
BIRTHMARK: Another word for laughter and the cry of a dog, swapping first letters

29a    Right wingers in politics, the portrayal of 12 (4)
SELF: The last letters (right wingers) in the last 4 words in the clue

30a    TV actor‘s son picks up story on radio (10)
SHEARSMITH: The abbreviation for son, a verb meaning picks up, plus a homophone (on radio) of another word for story or legend



1d    A single beautiful being (4)
PERI: Another word for a, and a letter that looks like a single number

2d    Output from Sharpe in which lecturer’s almost completely worn down (4)
WILT: An all-in-one. Tom Sharpe is a humorous writer whose output can be described as *** into which Lecturer without the last 7 letters (almost completely worn down). The whole clue describes a book by Sharpe. Apparently, the abbreviation L=lecturer is not in the Telegraph list



3d    Why, perhaps, publicity stunt is screened (4)
HYPE: Hidden (is screened)

4d    Out to get metal parts fixed (7)
HUNTING: A metal is inserted into (parts) a verb meaning fixed, as in a painting on a wall

5d    US space-traveller received in English county (4,6)
BUCK ROGERS: What you might say on a walkie-talkie to mean received goes inside (in) the abbreviation for an English county

7d    Where player’s putting club — Forest? (9)
GREENWOOD: The part of a golf course where a player is putting, plus a club used in golf

8d    City break with Fatima’s husband a sign of neurosis? (9)
ECHOLALIA: The postcode for London city, an informal word for a break or vacation, the husband of Fatima (daughter of the prophet Muhammad), and A from the clue

10d    Ted, for ever following Hearts (3)
HAY: A word meaning for ever follows the abbreviation for Hearts

13d    ‘Solvers need this book’ (The Sun’s ruling) (10)
BRAINPOWER: The abbreviation for book, the ancient Egyptian sun god depicted by a sun, and a (2,5) phrase meaning ruling or reigning

14d    Speculator upped price in respect of army rations? (5-4)
BULLY-BEEF: A stockmarket speculator, then a reversal (upped) of a word for price and a word that can mean in respect of (Chambers definition 10)

15d    Member of iconic English group, the inspiration for ‘Come Together’? (6,3)
LONDON BUS: Cryptic reference to an English icon, known not to show up for ages then several arrive at once (come together)

19d    Red mark remaining following cut (7)
SCARLET: A mark following a wound, then a word for remaining from which the abbreviation for following is cut

22d    Sum from Descartes written just after midnight? (1,2)
I AM: The translation of sum in the famous maxim by Descartes (cogito ergo sum) could be written as a time

26d    A half-day’s cycling injury (4)
HURT: Take the first half of the name of a day, and cycle the first letter to the end

27d    Great body, Octopussy! (4)
ARMY: If something is octopuss-y, it is ****

28d    Spouse of thematic Royal immersed in classwork at Eton (4)
KATE: Hidden (immersed in …)


I liked the US space traveller, Octopussy, the iconic British group, and the solvers – though there are plenty of excellent clues. I also liked the simple 1d. The thematic 22d made me chuckle. Which clues did you like?


William Shakespeare sonnet 135:

Whoever hath her wish, thou hast thy Will,
And Will to boot, and Will in overplus;
More than enough am I that vex thee still,
To thy sweet will making addition thus.
Wilt thou, whose will is large and spacious,
Not once vouchsafe to hide my will in thine?
Shall will in others seem right gracious,
And in my will no fair acceptance shine?

The sea all water, yet receives rain still
And in abundance addeth to his store;
So thou, being rich in Will, add to thy Will
One will of mine, to make thy large Will more.
Let no unkind no fair beseechers kill;
Think all but one, and me in that one Will.

Note the sonnet includes WILT and plenty of “WILL”s. Accordingly, we have the following thematic entries in the Grid:

Across6 YOUNG, 17 CARLING, 18 POULTER, 24 POPE, 29 SELF, 30 SMITH; 

Down:  2 WILT, 4 HUNTING, 5ROGERS, 7 GREENWOOD, 10 HAY, 13 POWER, 19 SCARLET, 22 I AM. References to the theme elsewhere, 26dn is a William.


25 comments on “Toughie 2294

  1. Superb stuff – thanks to Elgar and Dutch.

    Apprised of the theme by 28d I did root out nearly all the relevant surnames although the Shakespearean bits that Dutch found passed me by completely since I’ve given up on trying to make sense of Elgar’s puzzle number links.

    My ticks went to 4d, 13d and 27d but my runaway favourite was the brilliant all-in-one at 2d. When I first read the Tom Sharpe book I was on a train from London to Manchester and I laughed so much I think my fellow passengers thought there was something wrong with me. L for lecturer is in the BRB so I don’t see why it’s not in the Telegraph list. However ‘lecturer almost completely worn down’ is a wonderful description of the hero.

  2. I really enjoyed solving this – I hadn’t got far before I started to spot the Ws and so I left the grid with just the RH side completed and went for my 2.5 mile walk muttering away to myself about possible Ws that I might find when I got back home. There’s far more of them than you’d think but a couple did end up in my finished grid. I didn’t bother to look for a link to 135 as I had a number of other things besides the crossword to fit into this morning.

    Thanks to Elgar for a great Elgar Toughie (770 is still my favourite). Lots of clues to choose for stardom, so I’ll just mention 20a (for the d’oh moment) 23a for making me smile, 22d for the help with the theme, and 27d because it is brilliant. Thanks too to Dutch

  3. Oh dear, Elgar is now winning. A DNF here never mind the 135 which is no surprise
    Thanks for making my head 26d Elgar and thanks to Dutch whose explanations I needed today
    That was very difficult, though I could blame the Salento, or possibly the pasta…

  4. Another DNF here, with two unsolved.

    Favourite clue was the fantastic 27d but overall, boy oh boy, this was a hard crossword.

    Thanks to Dutch and Elgar.

  5. Had managed a few before getting to 28d which then led me to the theme (although the sonnet / number reference eluded me completely). Laughed out loud then at next in, 22d. Favourite is any clue that references Forest, being a lifelong NFFC fan brought up on the glory European cup winning years.
    Great blog from Dutch and thanks as ever to Elgar. Now for the cricket.

  6. Obviously one for aficionados.
    Usually when I haven’t solved the Toughie and I come to the blog I feel that I’ve fallen short, just a bit more effort or inspiration and I could have got there. In this case, I would never have solved it in month of Sundays. Hats off to anyone who did, but for me it was ***** for difficulty and * for enjoyment. An actor I’ve never heard of, 17 and 18a definitions I’d argue with. I won’t go on.
    I love the Toughie including many of Elgar’s puzzles, but not today alas. Hopefully others had more fun.

    1. what did you think was suspect with 17/18?

      17 the answer is a beam supporting the deck on a boat, hence “support for nautical type” seems ok to me
      18a the answer is an old word for a merchant selling game birds etc, hence “old dealer in game” seems pretty accurate. it’s convention to indicate old words with indicators such as old, dated, once, etc.

      of course, Elgar puzzles are indeed at the high end of difficulty in the toughie series

      1. Sorry for being so tardy in response, I didn’t reopen my email until late last night.
        Anyway, in answer to your question. I found caring a bit of a stretch for anxiety, And saw no necessary connection to game for poulter, just birds.
        Maybe like crypticsue I should have taken a break. I didn’t spot the theme. Had I done so, who knows.
        Thanks for the response.

        1. ah yes, a caring person doesn’t necessarily suffer from anxiety. Guess the semantic convergence is e.g. ‘likely to worry about’, but it almost gets into synonym of a synonym territory. for poulter, Chambers has “dealer in dead fowls and game” (archaic). I would have thought the dead fowls can be game too.

          1. Hm. No Chambers in our house – even though I’ve seen it referenced for decades. I was always an OED man, and nowadays mainly just Google. What with ducks, geese & chickens, poulters just sell poultry to me. It’s not that this was one of the clues I failed to solve, just one I didn’t find satisfying.

            1. i highly recommend getting Chambers (the brb, big red book), which is the crossword dictionary of choice. I’ve been a chambers man since 1975. There’s a nice iphone/ipad app – pricy but cheaper than the book. it allows you to do word searches. if you get the chambers thesaurus as well, the apps talk to each other

              1. The thought of apps talking to each other is slightly alarming. At this rate, mankind is going to be somewhat redundant in the not too distant future!

    1. Did you include the one Shamus did which mentioned Big Dave? I think it was back in 2010 so I’d guess you didn’t

    2. Thanks Chris,

      Very appropriate also mentioning Notabilis; I believe it was he who suggested using the word Nina to apply to hidden messages in crosswords

  7. I’ve been playing catch up after a week of having visitors meant no time for crosswords. For me, I think this was the hardest crossword I have ever got near to finishing (failed on just one – unable to even guess 18a). Tackling it in the same afternoon as doing last Friday’s and yesterday’s Toughies was perhaps more than my poor head can take. As always I totally missed the theme and the grid was full of GK which I had to look up. A 6*/4* rating for me.
    I enjoyed most of the clues that did not require google such as 5d and 7d

    Thanks to Elgar and Dutch

  8. Knew I stood no chance with this one after using an anagram solver for 6a and never having heard of the answer!
    Definitely one for the ‘big guns’ and I’m pleased to see that they enjoyed it. Don’t know about ‘wavelength’ – I think Elgar exists on a totally different planet to us lesser mortals.
    On the upside – I loved the Tom Sharpe novels!

    Apologies to Elgar for my miserable failure and thanks to Dutch for doing his utmost to unravel the clues for we dunces.

    1. I remember reading the Tom Sharpe books and like everyone else, laughing uproariously in the train and realising i could not possibly dare to explain to my neighbours what was so funny. They must be the funniest books I’ve ever read.

      You’re not allowed to class yourself as a dunce, Jane. Perhaps I am, since i am currently in hospital with cellulitis but somehow i still wanted to do the blog

  9. I very much enjoyed those that I could do which was about two-thirds. I needed Dutch’s hints for the rest. One day I’ll complete an Elgar. Keep them coming!

  10. I started this one without looking at who the setter was and got about a third of it done, then came back to it and got a few more and then looked at the blog to see who was responsible and decided to use a few of the hints to kickstart the solving process. Got the grid filled and needed more help with parsing a few but I certainly can’t claim to have sorted this one out single-handedly.

    Thanks to Dutch for the much needed help and thanks Elgar for frying my brain. Very enjoyable though to see how it all fits together and maybe I’ll do a bit better next time.

  11. I am disappointed to see that no one has answered my question. How did you know it was Elgar’s 135th puzzle? Why weren’t we told?

    1. I think Dutch answered your question in the thread @8. Elgar obviously expects us all to keep track of his appearances!

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