Toughie 2322 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 2322

Toughie No 2322 by Elgar

Hints and tips by Dutch

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

This is Elgar’s 136th Telegraph Toughie. As usual, we can have fun looking for how the puzzle alludes to this number. I initially noticed two things about today’s puzzle – the first was the grid with the four long central 13-letter answers. The second was the answers to 1d, 9d and 7d, which gave me a horrible sense of déjà vu. Elgar’s 135th puzzle was a reference to Shakespeare’s sonnet number 135, in which the playwright played around with puns of WILL, and Elgar had cleverly hidden quite a few Wills in the grid. Well, seems sonnet number 136 is the other sonnet about Wills, but I couldn’t find any today. Instead, turns out remembering the first observation is important. No doubt you’ll find the 4 instances of 136.

As always, the definitions are underlined. The hints are intended to help you unravel the wordplay, but you can always reveal the answers by clicking on the 136=(13,6) enumeration of 9d/7d, 8d/28a, 14a/4a and 17a/21d buttons. Please leave a comment telling us what you thought.


1a    Second assessment, say? (6)
REMARK: Two meanings, to assess again and to comment

4a    Straight line that runs from elbow to wrist (6)
RADIUS: Two meanings, the second a bone

8a    British Film Week establishes screens (3)
KES: Hidden (… screens)

10a    To impress husband, I adapt spicy Asian dish (3,4)
PAD THAI: Anagram (spicy) of I ADAPT around (to impress) the abbreviation for husband


11a    Irreligious basics for preparing roast chicken? (7)
HEATHEN: Split (4,3), this is a simplistic instruction for preparing roast chicken

12a    Freely acknowledge at the outset offer of money will secure left back (2,3)
AD LIB: The first letter (at the outset) of acknowledge, then a reversal (back) of an offer of money around (to secure) the abbreviation for left

13a    Oil spills over awful dark red clothes show (2,7)
DR KILDARE: An anagram (awful) of DARK RED covers (clothes) (o)IL without (spills) the abbreviation for over

14a    Elite Nazis controlling chief battle zone deserted by a young astronomer (13)
SCHWARZSCHILD: A 2-letter abbreviation for elite nazis contains (controlling) the 2-letter abbreviation for chief, a 3-letter word for battle, Z(one) deserted by a word meaning “a”, then another word for young

17d    Describing John Dryden, maybe, critical notes given free (13)
COMPLIMENTARY: A 10-letter word meaning critical notes goes around (describing) an abbreviated description of John Dryden as the first poet laureate

22a    Co-ordinator ordered garrison to arrest enemy’s No. 1 (9)
ORGANISER: An anagram (ordered) of GARRISON contains (to arrest) the first letter (No. 1) of enemy

23a    He boxed precious metal for collection by Mr Elgar (5)
MAGRI: The chemical symbol for silver goes inside (for collection by) MR, then a pronoun that could represent Elgar from the setter’s perspective

24a    Escape Manx lion some call Georgia (7)
LEAKAGE: A 3-letter word for lion (the starsign perhaps) without the last letter (Manx; a manx cat has no tail), then an abbreviation meaning some call, or alias, and the IVR for the country Georgia

25a    500 pairs pass back into apt vessel’s hold (7)
ARMLOCK: The Roman numeral corresponding to 500 pairs plus the reversal (back) of a word meaning pass or saddle go inside (into) a vessel or old boat associated with the embarkation of pairs (hence “apt”)

26a    Manage a single trip (3)
RUN: Three meanings, to manage a business, a cricket single, and a trip/errand

27a    Plant more nuts (6)
MADDER: Two meanings, the second as in more crazy

28a    Assistants, by the way, turning my lovely dress down (6)
CARPET: A reversal (turning) of an abbreviation for roadside assistants plus a term of endearment


1d    Will a rising lunch of piri-piri, couscous and pawpaw do this? (6)
REPEAT: Reversal of a 3-letter word meaning “a” (as in ‘a’ head) plus to lunch or take food – the answer describes the whole clue (re-experiencing the taste of something already swallowed) as well as the letter patterns in the foods

2d    Note held by Puccini but not Vivaldi and Purcell but not Britten? (6,1)
MIDDLE C: Description of a letter present in the names Puccini and Purcell, but not in Vivaldi or Britten

3d    Is this reversed by chap in pub? (5)
REHAB: Reversal of the answer, in more ways than one, is effected by a male pronoun in another word for pub

5d    Angry repeatedly at halls which one might have liked (2,3,4)
AS ALL THAT: An anagram (angry) of AT AT HALLS (repeatedly AT)

6d    Call me this in novel, not Clint (7)
ISHMAEL: An anagram (novel) of CALL ME THIS IN without the letter of CLINT. Very clever. “Call me [the answer]” is a famous opening sentence of a novel

7d    Southern surfing lines? (6)
SONNET: The abbreviation for southern plus a (2,3) phrase that suggests electronic surfing

8d    Town gets me kindred spirit, out of three and a bit tiddly (13)
KIDDERMINSTER: An anagram (tiddly) of ME KINDRED S(pi)RIT without (out of) an irrational number of magnitude three and a bit

9d    To brandish weapon uncomfortably near surrendering Romeo could be this? (13)
SHAKESPEAREAN: A verb meaning to brandish or wave, a weapon, and an anagram (uncomfortably) of NEA(r) without (surrendering) the letter corresponding to the radio code Romeo

14d    Instant 16 (3)
SEC: Two meanings, the second being the answer to 16d

15d    A hundred up north confined with one during festival (9)
WAPENTAKE: A 4-letter verb meaning confined plus an article meaning one go inside (during) a word meaning festival, or a celebration following a funeral

16d    GP’s unknown 14 (3)
DRY: A 2-letter GP plus an algebraic unknown

18d    Alert, M flees island during rise of 007’s foe (2,5)
ON GUARD: A 4-letter US island territory in the Pacific loses the final M (M flees) and then goes inside (during) a reversal of (rise of, in a down clue) 007’s first film foe

19d    One cleaning up extra oxygen to make new order (7)
REGROUP: A reversal of a 6-letter word for one cleaning or purifying outside (extra, see Chambers 2nd definition) the chemical symbol for oxygen

20d    Begin to think about hobbit (6)
GOLLUM: A 2-letter verb that can mean begin plus the reversal (about) of a word meaning think or ponder

21d    Authenticate alien pass (6)
TICKET: A verb meaning to authenticate, when marking perhaps, plus our favourite alien

23d    Venomous reptilian male graduates going head to head (5)
MAMBA: The abbreviation for male, then the abbreviations for two university graduates, the first reversed (head to head)

My favourite clue today was 6d, though I liked 3d a lot as well. Which clues did you enjoy?

21 comments on “Toughie 2322

  1. I enjoyed this a lot – I was a bit ‘who are you and what have you done with Elgar?’ after I’d written the first six Across solutions in the grid on first reading. ‘Proper’ Elgar turned up after that and I too took about a 4.5* time to solve it. Definitely 5* enjoyment – we’d better not tell Kath that I marked three Across clues and five down clues for special mention.

    Thanks to Elgar – wish I could be with you, Jane and Tess in York this weekend – and to Dutch

  2. Well up to Elgar’s usual standard, I thought, with some cracking clues and also some obscurities (the astronomer, the historical hundred and the not-very-famous boxer) where I needed to tease out and then verify the answer. I’m old enough to remember the TV doctor.
    5d was my last answer and I don’t really understand how the answer matches the definition.
    I liked the funny 11a, the clever 17a and the deceptive 28a but best of all was the brilliant 6d.

    1. Think along the lines of “The film wasn’t as good as all that”, ie I hoped to like it based on reviews, but didn’t.

      Thanks to Elgar for an engrossing challenge, and best wishes to all who are going to be in York this weekend.

  3. Well beyond me but I did get the venomous reptile!
    Many thanks to Dutch for all the explanations – very interesting to read.
    Sorry, Elgar, you defeated me as usual!

  4. Filling the grid wasn’t a problem at all and had enough time on hand to find the hidden messages.
    Failed completely although I found some words like paddle, radish, spent, penis and locket.
    Great fun as usual from our master.
    Have a great weekend in York.
    Thanks to Elgar and to Dutch.

  5. Dear Dutch,

    No, I am afraid I have not found the four instances of 136. No doubt I shall feel very stupid when they are pointed out to me but please do!

    As for Mr Henderson, as if the clues weren’t complex enough, Dr Kildare? Magri? Schwartzschild? Wapentake?…and indicating John Dryden as PL1?

  6. What I found fascinating with this puzzle was the number of times I knew the answer but was unable to justify it. 5d was a case in point. A real penny drop moment.

    I did not even try to remember what number of toughies Elgar has produced. The puzzle is quite difficult enough as it is. The astronomer I finally found on google but the boxer defeated me.

    Still, I was only unable to solve the tiny SE corner – for me, a miracle!

    Thanks to Elgar and Dutch.

  7. A good challenge, but I wasn’t keen on the names – didn’t quite finish without help
    Thanks to Elgar for the stretch and Dutch for some elucidation

  8. After some help from Mr Google for the GK we did not know, we eventually ended up with a correct completed grid. However there were two where we failed to understand the wordplay, 6d (which in retrospect we should have got) and 17a.
    Thanks Elgar and Dutch.

  9. Not happy about the hobbit!!! Smeagol was a hobbit-like creature but not a hobbit. Geeky grrrrr

    1. I thought Gollum originally was a Hobbit (Smeegol) but was altered by prolonged contact with the ring….

  10. Managed about three quarters but was generally at a loss to fully parse most of it. Kudos to Dutch for the decryption – as for me, must try harder…

    Thanks to Dutch and Elgar.

  11. Only had approx 3/4 finished on a crazy Friday, finished on way back from the York do yesterday. Cheers Dutch and Elgar

  12. Wow, this one was really tough! In fact, off the scale by my reckoning. I did it bit by bit over a few days, taking in as well the rugby semis and a visit to the Emirates Stadium. Finally completed it except for 7d and 28a today and felt pretty pleased with myself.

    Of course, I didn’t know the names in 14a, 23a or 15d but was able to work out and then google.

    No favourites: all were great, although I appreciate 6d more now it’s been fully explained.

    Hats off to Elgar and Dutch.

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