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Double Toughie 100011

Double Toughie No 100011
Theme & Variations by Elgar

Hints and tips by Tilsit

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

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

The puzzle can be found under the Giant General Knowledge menu as No 100,011 and the solution can be found, from Boxing Day, under the Giant General Knowledge menu as No 1,100,011.

Seasons Greetings to you all and it’s the time of the year when the Big Man calls and leaves a present. Yes, it’s Elgar who has dropped-in and delivered his festive Double Toughie and this year’s is up there with the best of them. A beautifully crafted puzzle that stretches every bit of your mental capabilities, but when you’re done, you can savour the sheer genius behind it. Even if you don’t want the challenge of working out the theme (a bit like Only Connect, but in reverse!), you can solve it as a normal Elgar Toughie. If you got the Big Red Book (Chambers) for Christmas, it’ll be well-thumbed after this challenge.

Theme and Variations type puzzles are usually confined to the barred-grid crosswords, but here our Maestro uses the larger grid to produce a challenge. Here’s the preamble: –

One grid answer is the source of four Themes, none appearing singly in the grid, which are to be deduced. Each Theme has five Variations, related to their Theme in the same way, though this relationship differs for each Theme. All 20 Variations are answers in the grid.

As all clues and answers are normal, solvers may wish to ignore the foregoing and solve as a normal puzzle.

So when you have solved the puzzle, one of the entries in the grid provides a common link to four other sets of five answers – we’ll worry about these later.

My only sadness is that fewer solvers than usual will get to tackle this gem of a challenge.

Why don’t you leave a comment telling us what you thought? When you click on some answers for the solution, they are in different colours; each colour represents one of the four themes.


1a    Home and away, using every effort (4,3)
FLAT OUT:     A word for a type of home, and one meaning ‘away’ gives you an expression meaning you are working at full tilt.

5a    By chance, acquiring letter B — and paying for it! (7,2,3,3)
PICKING UP THE TAB:    An expression meaning to acquire something by chance needs a letter of the Greek alphabet (the eighth) and a letter B. Run together you have a phrase for paying the bill.

13a    ‘The First Lady of the Theatre’, as Charles II said, eyeing up his mistress’s oranges? (7)
CORNELL:    This will probably be your first trip to Google for this. If you can imagine what the King said when his mistress showed her wares (nudge nudge!) – especially if the King spoke like Sid James. This sounds like the surname of an early American actress who was nicknamed ‘The First Lady of the Theatre’.

17a    Tense, just having time for run (7)
UPTIGHT:    A word meaning just or trusted needs to have its letter R swapped for a T (time for run) to give something that means tense.

18a    Wicked spirit taking noble on poet’s deck before swine? (7)
IMPEARL:    A common crossword word for a mischievous spirit plus a member of the nobility give a poetic word meaning to adorn with a type of precious stone (what goes before swine, in the old saying?).

19a    Perhaps Down’s painting rejected as a book? (2,5)
IN FOLIO:    A Latin phrase that means in the form of a book is revealed by taking a way of saying a type of artwork from County Down, all reversed (rejected).

20a    Clubs probing “learner” movements for novelty dance floor design? (7)
LINOCUT:    A type of design in printing is revealed by taking L for ‘learner’ and two movements from the dance Hokey Cokey, and then inserting C (for Clubs).


21a    Open-ended mollusc? I’m amazed (5)
GAPER:    Double definition. A type of shellfish that has open ends and the name for someone who is open-mouthed with amazement.

22a    It’s true: work in kind, do good (2,7)
NO KIDDING:    A two-word expression meaning something is confirmed as factual is found by rearranging the letters of IN KIND DO and adding G (good)

23a    Dress worn by Chinese women performing song in S London Village (9)
CHEONGSAM:    A traditional Chinese female dress name is revealed by anagramming SONG inside the name of a South London place associated with, amongst others, Tony Hancock.  [Also BD’s birthplace!]

24a    European Royal House cut off primate (5)
ORANG:    The name for an ape is also the name of a Royal House of Europe, minus its last letter.

26a    Promontory garden? (3)
HOE:    A double definition. The name for a promontory, as found in Plymouth, is also a type of gardening utensil.

27a    Returning by motorway in freezing vehicle (7)
OMNIBUS:    The formal name for a vehicle is found taking a word for BY and the abbreviation for MOTORWAY, placing it inside a way of saying very cold, and then reversing the lot.

29a    Put into care nutters when out to lunch … (7)
ENTRUST:    A word meaning to put something into the care of others is an anagram (out to lunch) of NUTTERS

31a    … moving to a more appropriate location for food later (3,4)
TEA ROOM:    A place to have a meal later in the day is revealed by rearranging (moving) the letters of TO A MORE.

33a    Number Ten: new independent government’s Number One accepted by Queen (7)
INTEGER:    A general name for a number is revealed by rearranging (new) TEN and placing it inside the abbreviations for Independent and Government and adding the abbreviation for HM the Q.

35a    Almost no reward for this Indian resident (6)
NILGAI:    A way of saying ‘no reward’ minus its last letter is the name of a creature indigenous to India (it’s also known as the Blue Bull!)

36a    After one turn, Palestine celebs go here for food and song (3,5,3,3,3)
THE HOLLY AND THE IVY:    The name of a seasonal song is rvealed by taking a name for Palestine with two letters reversed in the middle. Add to this the name of a famous restaurant where celebrities often dine. This answer may come in useful!

39a    It turns nasty at the outset, ringing a news matter in red (6)
TANNIN:    Thanks be to a certain lady for a hand with this one. Reverse IT and add N (nasty’s first letter /outset) and then put it round A, plus NN (news, i.e. more than one ‘new’). This gives a product found in red wine as well as tea and some coffees.

42a    I go in & run Football Club, firing Estonian? (5-5)
FINNO-UGRIC:    A word meaning from Estonia or that region (the name of the group of languages, is found by rearranging (firing) I GO IN and RUN FC.

44a    Soul of the Casbah, mum’s rolling snake eyes (4-3)
AMB’S ACE:    Another one I had no idea about until I used TEA to solve the clue from checkers. A phrase that means the lowest score when throwing two dice (Who knew??). A short word for mother takes the innards of the phrase THE CASBAH (i.e. The soul). I think I’d have liked a much easier clue for a difficult answer.

47a    Lincolnshire village with one lake — and another beside (10)
WILLOUGHBY:    The abbreviations for with , one and lake, plus another word for an Irish lake, plus a short word for beside all together give you a village in Lincolnshire. Or……

50a    I’ll research ruin of St Valentine’s Day: you’ll not have invested, anyhow (7)
ANALYST:    This is an outing for one of those devices only seen in the tougher barred puzzles. This is a comparative anagram. Basically an anagram of ST VALENTINE’S DAY is the answer needed (someone who researches) plus INVESTED. These are not often seen as both pieces need to have anagram indicators – this does have them both here.

51a    Different truant having rear whipped after first of absences (7)
ANOTHER:    After A (first letter of absences) goes a phrase meaning truant or absent, with its final letter missing (whipped)

52a    Head of government replaced by the same source of mischief (7)
GREMLIN:    The name for a famous seat of government needs its first letter replaced by G (source of government) to give something that causes mischief.

53a    It does apply air alone, with no player involved? (7)
PIANOLA:    You get one comparative anagram, and another comes scuttling along. This time an anagram of this word plus PLAYER gives APPLY AIR ALONE.

54a    Be in search of a — did you say — masseur? (7)
KNEADER:    A description of what a masseur does/is, is a homophone of someone looking for something.

55a    Study young Glaswegian thug retrospectively (3)
DEN:    A slang word for a young Scottish thug (probably derived from n’er do well) is reversed to give a place of study.

56a    Rabbis aid many in trouble (7)
DAYANIM:    An anagram of MANY AID gives a Hebrew word meaning Rabbis.

57a    Character shouting (3)
HUE:    Two definitions for one word.

58a    ‘She’ll make, she’ll profess/An elegant dress’ (Observe the poet within me) (7)
MODISTE:    Clever clue The name in rhyme for someone who designs fashion is a word for a poet inside ME.


1d    If lucky, it’ll be contained (3)
FLU:    Hidden within (contained) IF LUCKY is something that when contained is just that.

2d    New element ‘A’ put in at position ‘X’? (15)
ANTIPENULTIMATE:    An anagram (new) of ELEMENT A PUT IN gives a description of the location of X in the alphabet.

3d    Central Station, once core feature of the law (5)
ONGAR:    The name of a station on the Central Line is found by taking a phrase about ‘the law’ involving a feature of the body. This is the ‘core’ of the phrase, i.e. not the first or last letters.

4d    A child of Earth misbehaving, raised head (8)
TITANESS:    The name for an Earth goddess is found by taking a phrase (2-2) meaning misbehaving, reversing it and adding a geographical name for a head(land).

5d    Spine preserved Republican? (7)
PRICKLE:    A word for a preserve with R (Republican) inside

6d    Originally Afrikaans a short test for humans due to reform splits (4,5)
CAPE DUTCH:    A name given to people who may now be termed Afrikaan. The name for a test you often take when trying to prove your identity on line, minus its last letter (short). [You may not know it’s actually an Acronym for Completely Automated Public Turing (test) to tell Computers and Humans Apart]. Inside this goes an anagram of DUE.


7d    Porcelain daffodils (2 only) delivered on St David’s Day (5)
IMARI:     A type of Porcelain (thank you, bargain Hunt!) is found by taking the 2 down letter in DAFFODIL and adding how you’d say St David’s Day in crossword land.

8d    Holiday creep! (9)
GOLIGHTLY:    If you did this (2,7) you’d be creeping – if you travel on holiday you do this as well. I don’t. And this links to ….

9d    Victory for Washington around noon, cost to Britain ultimately (9)
PRINCETON:    A battle of the American Revolutionary War Around N (noon) goes a word meaning cost, plus TO and N (last letter of Britain).

10d    Section of the FT expeditiously thrown to Ed (5)
HEFTE:    Hidden answer leading to a word meaning thrown in the world of Edmund Spenser.

11d    Folk hero to appear on Top of the Pops — but keep shtoom! (4,2,3)
TELL NO ONE:    Thesurname of a Swiss folk hero and what would make him appear on Top of the Pops when put together gives an expression meaning to not spread a secret.

12d    So sweet-peas, flushed out in flower (7)
BLOSSOM:    SS – sweet peas ‘flushed out’, i.e. no innards. Inside a word for a flower gives the answer to the clue as a whole.

13d    I’m not sure AC/DC will crack pop capital in USA (8)
COLUMBIA:    A two-letter expression used when you are unsure, followed by another two-letter abbreviation for someone described as AC/DC all goes inside the name of a fizzy pop to give an American state capital.

14d    Take on party piece (5)
RONDO:    A piece (of music) is revealedas the (medical) abbreviation for take [from the Latin) plus ON and a word for a party.

15d    Having a ‘slap-up’ buffet and bash? (10,5)
EXCHANGING BLOWS:    Two cryptic definitions leading to the same thing.

16d    Line connecting up to set (3)
LOT:    One of the many, many definitions of set. L (line) plus a reversal of TO

21d    Reaction to joke from dad — or his mum, glugging last of vino (5)
GROAN:    A name for dad’s mum with O (last of vino) inside gives a reaction to a joke peraps told by your dad.

25d    Finally going to administrator — a man given name of ace server (5)
GORAN:    The last letters of words 2-7 reveal the first name of a top racketeer.


28d    Offered humbug in stable, US lamber initially saw (9)
BLARNEYED:    Inside a word for a stable in the USA, L (initial of) LAMBER goes, and is followed by something meaning saw to give a word meaning to offerhumbug or the Irish equivalent!

30d    Set free without a guide, so chap given shelter (9)
UNLASHED:    If you were without a guide, you’d be this; this then surrounds something meaning SO and a male personal pronoun.

32d    What timber supports prefab that’s ‘managing’? (2,3,4)
AT THE HELM:    An expression said of someone managing a company is found by taking an anagram of THAT (prefab) and then adding a short word you use when saying ‘What?’ and a type of timber.

34d    Source of water at crematorium? (4,5)
TEAR GLAND:    A cryptic definition for the source of personal water at a cremation.

37d    Difficult to comprehend airman recruit against the N American T-6 (7)
HARVARD:    A word meaning difficult has inside the abbreviation for an Airman recruit and the abbreviation for versus/against. This gives a theme word that is also a type of plane.

38d    See a blade hanging over window (7)
VALANCE:    The abbreviation for see (from the Latin – vide) plus A and a word for a mediaeval weapon. This gives the name for something that adorns a window . And another theme…


40d    Watch Nimrod! (6)
HUNTER:    A type of watch and also the profession of the biblical Nimrod (and alter-ego of our setter). Another theme person.

41d    Display, then order, a woolly ball (6)
POMPOM:    The name for a display (think of the other Elgar and some of his marches!) plus an abbreviation for an award given by the Queen.

43d    Completion about 14 tiers from stage? (5)
CROWN:    After an abbreviation for about, goes where you would be if you were sitting 14 rows from the stage in a theatre.

45d    Close to accepting sin (you’ll get something fruity) (5)
BERRY:    A word meaning ‘close to’ has something meaning to sin inside. This gives you something that is a fruit.    

46d    Having declined a lot, release at both ends just a little gas (5)
ARGON:    The name of a gas is found by finding an expression meaning declined a lot and removing the first and last letters.

47d    Demon bowler’s revolutionised Hospital’s rules (5)
WALSH:    Take the abbreviation for Hospital and give it an apostrophe, plus something meaning rules. Reverse the lot and you get the name of a marvellous W Indian bowler who terrorised England over the years.

48d    Black chest skin and cough (4)
BARK:    Two definitions for the price of one. A word that means the skin (of a tree) and a type of cough is revealed by taking the abbreviation for Black and adding a type of chest – think Raiders of the Lost….

49d    Ye Olde Festive Brew, kept under Yard’s lock and key (4)
YALE:    After Y for Yard, goes the name of a beer to give a manufacturer of locks and keys.


So what do we have in The Theme and its Variations?


The variations are as follows

Famous people called HOLLY    Surnames are in RED and are at 47a, 8d, 38d, 40d and 47d

IVY League Universities    Names are shown in GREEN and are at 13a, 9d, 13d, 37d and 49d

Things that the HOLLY BEARS in the song    These are in BLUE and can be found at 5d, 12d, 43d, 45d and 48d.

And the Playing of the merry ORGAN     These can be found in YELLOW at 24ac, 3d, 21d,

Anagrams of the word.    25d, and 46d.


All done for another year. Thanks to the Maestro for his challenge, as devious as ever and to Cryptic Sue for a couple of pokes and prods.

See you for the Crossword Club on Saturday!


3 comments on “Double Toughie 100011

  1. Well I thought this was a wonderful Christmas treat, the majority of it solvable without having to use too many reference books. I spotted the League members first which confirmed which was the all important grid answer. Having got the plant parts mentioned in the song, and all the various ladies, I then stared at the full grid until with a loud 21d, I finally realised what I needed for the fourth and final theme was the “playing of the merry organ”. Brilliant.

    Thank you to Elgar for the treat, Tilsit for the blog and six and a half year old Alfie for his support “is that crossword very difficult Granny? Let me look and see if I can help”

  2. Mrs Bufo and I went down to the pub yesterday and after some considerable effort managed to come up with a completed grid. There were lots of guesswork (there was no WiFi so we couldn’t check any answers).When we got home I changed a couple of spellings and also worked out the last set of five (the organ playing). I find that persistance pays with Elgar puzzles though I wouldn’t want to solve a puzzle like this very often!

  3. Another masterpiece by Elgar. Have to admit I only got 2/4 themes – had no idea of the song content. Thanks then to JH for the workout & Tilsit for the consummate breakdown. Why though this was hidden under General Knowledge eludes me. Must be an in-joke.
    Thanks also to all the site bloggers throughout the year.

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