Toughie 2635 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
View closed comments 

Toughie 2635

Toughie No 2365 by Elgar

Hints and tips by Dutch

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

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

If you are wondering about the significance of the perimeter Nina, think about that pub game featuring a 2d and remember that this is Elgar’s 140th Telegraph Toughie.

As always, finding the definitions is half the battle – these are underlined for you in the clues below. The hints and tips are intended to help you unravel the wordplay, but if that is insufficient you can reveal the answer by clicking on the Darts: single20 + single20 + double20 + treble20 = 140! buttons. Please leave a comment telling us what you thought.


7a    Put simply, supremo will block harsh cuts (8)
SUCCINCT: The 4-letter abbreviation for commander-in-chief goes inside (will block) an anagram (harsh) of CUTS

9a    Through bouncing back filth, answer correspondence … (6)
EMAILS: Place the abbreviation for answer inside (through) a reversal (bouncing back) of another word for filth

10a    … 50% of which heading for evil Fraulein? (4)
ILSE: The second half (50%) of the previous answer ( … ) plus the first letter of (heading for) evil gives a German girl’s name

11a    Waxy product on counter, it’s sustaining champion hairdresser? (10)
SPERMACETI: A reversal (counter) of IT’S from the clue contains (sustaining) a (4,3) whimsical expression for a champion hairdresser

12a    Stop space agency recall of Helen Sharman, for one? (6)
NASARD: The US space agency plus a reversal of the title of Helen Sharman (she is a PhD chemist who became Britain’s first astronaut and worked at the MIR space station in 1991)

14a    One interrupting Head of the UN is an Arabic-French speaker? (8)
TUNISIAN: Place the Roman numeral for one inside (interrupting) the first letter (head) of T(he) plus UN + IS + AN from the clue

15a    In bar, everyone passed back 8 nickels (6)
DOLLAR: A reversal (back) of a word for everyone inside (in) a word for bar or shaft. For 8, we need to substitute the grid entry for 8d (which helped my maths considerably)


17a    Element iodine injecting mother of Oscar? (6)
OSMIUM: The chemical symbol for iodine goes inside (injecting) a (1’1,3) way of saying ‘mother of Oscar’, remembering that Oscar is an international radio code for O

20a    In turn, with a net, players seen on it (4,4)
GAME SHOW: Inside (in) a 2-letter word meaning turn plus the abbreviation for with, put A from the clue plus another word for net

22a    As at the outset with development in egg? (6)
AGEING: An all-in-one where the whole clue is the definition and the whole clue also functions as the wordplay. The first letter (at the outset) of As, plus an anagram (with development) of IN EGG

23a    In which suspect is to linger? (10)
LOITERINGS: A semi-all-in-one, in which the whole clue serves as the definition while the wordplay does not fully cover the whole clue. An anagram (suspect) of IS TO LINGER

24a    Stitch up back and sides (4)
PURL: A reversal (back) of UP from the clue plus the abbreviations of the two hands or sides

25a    Name among European set, foremost of socialists (6)
ENGELS: Another all-in-one. The abbreviation for name goes inside (among) the abbreviation for European plus another word for set or solidify, plus the first letter (foremost) of socialists

26a    Possibly gun concealed by king in Christmas cap (8)
YARMULKE: Another word for weapon (possibly gun) goes inside (concealed by) another word for Christmas containing (in) the abbreviation for king


1d    Touring Britain, once ineffective on either of two frequencies (4,4)
DUAL BAND: Around (Touring) the old word (once) for Britain, place a 3-letter word meaning ineffective

2d    No cheat will overstep it? (4)
OCHE: Another all-in-one, this time a hidden ( … will overstep it)

3d    Extra virgin (6)
UNUSED: Two meanings, the first as in left over

4d    The last word in mattresses on which we’ll be completely out (4-4)
BEAM-ENDS: The last word in a prayer goes inside another word for mattresses. The definition confused me, but it relates to an expression I didn’t know for being broke or out of money

5d    Maybe change in layout of linear county (10)
LANCASHIRE: Loose change could be an example of a 4-letter word to be placed inside (in) an anagram of LINEAR

6d    Widely travelled, carrying protection for flyers (6)
ELYTRA: An obscure word gently clued. Hidden (… carrying)

8d/19d    Now it’s clearsome cricket! (6,6)
TWENTY TWENTY: Triple definition that is key to the Nina: the first referring to the year, the second to perfect vision, and the third to a form of cricket

13d    Sport finishing early charges not quite a full shilling, conditions irrelevant (3-7)
ALL-WEATHER: A word meaning to sport without the last letter (finishing early) goes inside (charges) a (3,5) expression meaning of sound mind or a full shilling, without the last letter (not quite)

16d    Write saying Gold is stocked by a pub West of Exmoor (8)
APHORISE: A 2-letter word for the colour gold plus IS from the clue go inside (stocked by) A from the clue plus a 2-letter abbreviation for pub plus the first letter (West) of Exmoor

18d    ‘Cm’ and ‘Ra’: key when unmasking supplier of narcotics (8)
MANDRAKE: A hidden where just the first and last letters are removed (… when unmasking)

19d    see 8d

21d    Supply odd man out (6)
AMOUNT: An anagram (odd) of MAN OUT

22d    Take in Globe ratings going over the top? (6)
ABSORB: A 3-letter word for globe has before it (going over the top) an abbreviation for ratings or sailors (including the plural S)

24d    Nasty flare-up: ref red-carded Scholes? (4)
PAUL: An anagram (nasty) of FLARE-UP, from which the letters in REF are dismissed (red-carded)


I particularly liked the definition in 16d, the simple but not-so-simple hidden in 18d, the mattresses on which we’re completely out (4d), and since I’m a sucker for all-in-ones I think my favourite is 2d, with 25a a close second. Which clues did you like?

15 comments on “Toughie 2635

  1. I know we aren’t supposed to mention solving times but I’m sure no-one will be upset if I admit that it took a whole 20 minutes of reading the clues over and over again before I actually wrote in a single solution. I then got the SW corner, the NE corner and then the SE corner, before I spotted the lovely obvious helpful themed Nina which enabled me to finish off the NW corner.

    Thanks to Elgar for a lovely proper Friday brain-mangler of a Toughie and to Dutch for the blog

  2. Well that makes me feel a little better. I’ve taken longer than that to fill in 2 answers and I’m utterly nonplussed thus far but will persevere & resist the temptation to look at the clues.

  3. Relatively straightforward for Elgar.I actually spotted the NINA and the tie-in with 2d and 8d. Is there any significance to the surface of 18d or what?
    I liked the champion hairdresser in 11a and the well-hidden def in 16d.

    Thanks to Elgar and Dutch.

  4. Beaten this morning by 11a, 16d and 22a and couldn’t be bothered trying them out again after a lovely pub lunch, so thanks for the explanation. Of those, two new words for me and I still don’t really get 22a. I suppose, on reflection, it’s a sign of a great Toughie with some reasonably gentle gimmes to give a few entry points and then a brain work-out. And the good thing, it was still dry and sunny for the walk home from the pub. 😎 Thanks to Elgar and extra thanks to Dutch.

  5. Luckily for me Elgar gave us several gimmes (well, gimmes as far as Elgar’s clues are concerned) such as 2d, 5d and 24a otherwise I’d probably never have got started. This was as enjoyable as ever – thanks to Elgar and to Dutch.
    Top clues for me were 10a (was Elgar alluding to the evil Ilse Koch, the “Bitch of Buchenwald”?), 11a (‘champion hairdresser’ – brilliant), 17a and 13d.

  6. Victory!
    My first in was 4d, followed by 17a, then 8d which got me 15a and I was off.
    Spotted the Nina towards the end but it helped me sorting out the SE and NW.
    Wonderful sense of achievement.
    Thanks to Elgar and to Dutch.

  7. Although the solutions were mainly way beyond my vocabulary, I had most of the wordplay sorted. Just couldn’t progress. Although 5* difficulty in really enjoyed the tussle. 5 answers I’ve never heard of.

  8. Phew, too tough for us. Beaten with four answers to find, we came to Dutch’s fine blog.

    We had MARK in 2d for far too long which didn’t help.

    Thanks to Dutch and Elgar.

  9. I am getting better at Elgar but slooooowly. Thanks to Dutch for the help, I have managed to fill the grid now and learned a fair bit about insect wings and organ stops.
    Thanks to Elgar I think your puzzles will still be beating me for time to come but I am happy as I make a little bit more progress with each one (and with Dutch’s help too)

  10. Now 9.15 in Michigan and after 2 hours little progress. Way above our pay grade!!. *******/*

  11. I’ve nothing but admiration for those able to complete crosswords of this degree of difficulty. I toiled to 7 answers unaided and whilst I could stumble to a finish with the help of Dutch’s excellent review & maybe on reflection ought to have solved a few more Elgar’s examination is like A Level maths – a foreign language to me.

  12. Definitely 5* difficulty. And only solved at all because, for the very first time, I spotted the NINA. Actually, I went looking for it, as I was struggling and it came to me that Dutch frequently mentions them.

    My picks were 17a for fun and 15a for cunning.

    Thanks Elgar and Dutch

Comments are closed.