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Toughie 2373

Toughie No 2373 by Elgar

Hints and tips by Dutch

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

This is Elgar’s 141st Telegraph Toughie. What does that number mean to you? I was quite happy to be able to find the Nina and the answers that describe it, but only once I had completed the slow and satisfying solve. The observant among you will notice the grid is the same as that of the last Elgar (I know, I’m just showing off).

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 1d 8d in all the across rows buttons. Please leave a comment telling us what you thought

I wish I could be with you tomorrow


7a    One dismissed, playing Albion with no backs in the event (8)
BIATHLON: An anagram (playing) of: ALB(i)ON (one dismissed) + I(n) TH(e) (no backs)

9a    My boss was up and about to nab it (6)
EDITOR: The boss of Elgar as a setter. A verb meaning was up (on a horse) is reversed (about) and contains (to nab) IT from the clue

10a    Just a little festival (4)
WHIT: Two meanings, the second occurring 7 weeks after Easter

11a    Sign promise to go after week’s shifts? (10)
WOMENSWEAR: A sign or premonition plus a verb meaning to promise or make an oath all following (after) the abbreviation for week. The question mark indicates a definition by example

12a    Peep into not so historical centre of poetry (6)
LESBOS: A Greek island famed for lyric poetry by Sappho. The first name of shepherdess PEEP goes inside (into) a word meaning ‘not so (much)’

14a    Outside normal working hours, in turn: Mon – quiz night, Tues – cinema, Wed – telly … (8)
EVENINGS: An all-in-one: Outside a reversal (in turn) of ‘normal working hours’ (expressed as (4-1) where the second number is Roman) we have some examples (E…GS)

15a    … want day home! (6)
DEARTH: The abbreviation for day and the planet that is our home, for now

17a    Make new changes, winding back time one does? (2-4)
RE-EDIT: A reversal (winding back) of the abbreviation for time, the Roman numeral for one, and the type of animal that does exemplify

20a    Relief from stinging clash of heads making rugby forward unable to catch anything (4,4)
DOCK LEAF: A 4-letter word for a rugby forward, then a 4-letter word for unable to hear (catch) anything, and swap the first letters (clash of heads)

22a    My younger brother, evidently a Capricorn? (3,3)
OUR KID: Liverpool dialect for my younger brother, apparently (see Collins), and a little Capricorn!

23a    Novel handcuff for backsliding lags (5,1,4)
ROMAN A CLEF: A 7-letter word meaning handcuff is covered by (lags) a reversal (backsliding) of FOR from the clue

24a    One has succeeded as an American composer (4)
IVES: A first person (1’2) translation of ‘one has’ plus the abbreviation for succeeded

25a    Francis is sanctified round here (6)
ASSISI: An all-in-one reverse hidden (… round here)

26a    What’s noble about extremely acidic Greek commander? (8)
XENOPHON: A noble gas goes around the lowest possible value on the acidity scale


1d    Refused to give husband the covers, and quite fierce about it (8)
WITHHELD: The abbreviation for husband is covered by THE from the clue, all inside ( … about it) a word meaning quite fierce or untamed

2d    One given to singing about criminal business (2,2)
AT IT: Split (1,3), we have a feathered one given to singing

3d    At the Fringe, Clarabell dominates Bip and Coco? (6)
CLOWNS: The outer (at the fringe) letters of Clarabell plus a slang verb meaning dominates

4d    Way of preparing fish that is overseen by UN? Just about (8)
MEUNIERE: The abbreviation for that is goes underneath (overseen by …) UN from the clue, all surrounded by (about) a word meaning just or only

5d    Struggle with force during erection of bloody camera attachment (10)
VIEWFINDER: A verb meaning struggle, the abbreviations for with and force, a preposition meaning during, and the reversal of (erection of ….) a word meaning bloody

6d    The object of which is to make a line of five men explode (6)
GOBANG: Split (2,4), we get a simple way of saying explode

8d     Song performed with not so much feeling (6)
NUMBER: Two meanings, the second implying a greater lack of sensation

13d    Have no initial issue during pre-Christian dark spells? (5,5)
BLACK MAGIC: A word meaning ‘have no’ as in to be deficient, what you might call the initial issue of a glossy publication (3,1), all inside (during) an abbreviation meaning pre-Christian

16d    On subject of people (not US) 2 almost caught (8)
THEMATIC: Some people (opposite of us), the first 3 letters (almost) of 2d and the cricket abbreviation for caught

18d    In the end it might stabilise what sounds like plain Oriental cooking (8)
TAILERON: An anagram (cooking) of ORIENTAL. The definition concerns a homophone (what sounds like) of plain

19d    Vulgar leader shed some light on accession (6)
AFFLUX: A 4-letter slang word meaning vulgar without the first letter (leader shed) plus a unit of light

21d    Alumnus, upset, is initially on the blower (6)
OBOIST: A 2-letter abbreviation for an alumnus, then an anagram (upset) of IS from the clue plus the first letters (initially) of On and The

22d    No longer interested in death and sin (6)
OFFEND: A word meaning ‘no longer interested in, plus a word meaning death or finish

24d    Game is pretty empty (1-3)
I-SPY: IS from the clue plus pretty without the inside letters (empty)

I liked the oriental cooking (18d) and death and sin (22d). Which clues did you like?


36 comments on “Toughie 2373

  1. I loved this for many reasons – it was an actual 5*/5* Toughie which is quite a rare thing these days, although always to be expected with what seems to be our fortnightly Elgar treat. I spotted the Nina (always a rarity for me!) and I had so many favourites I’d better not list them all but I’ll give special mention to ‘Peep’ in 12a, the younger brother in 22a, the d’oh moment when I realised what 26a was going on about… I could have done without Mr CS copying my groan each time I’d worked out what some of the particularly tricky clues required me to do but all in all a great time was had

    Thank you to both Elgar and Dutch – now back to cake decorating ;)

  2. I freely admit to using Chambers for help with a couple of clues – hardly unusual with Elgar, but that said, I found this relatively easy. A Friday Toughie, but not as fiendish as expected.
    Only 6d was unheard of. 23a was a favourite. On the other hand, I’m still not seeing the NINA and even after reading Dutch’s explanation, I still don’t get 14a.
    Thanks to Elgar and Dutch.

      1. Ha! Cleverly disguised hint….I found the Nina the hard way by staring at the completed grid until the numbers jumped at me. Still don’t know how they relate to 141 though

  3. Either I’m losing track of time or Elgar Toughies are coming round faster than ever. This was a proper Toughie which I enjoyed a lot. Thanks to Elgar and Dutch.
    I did spot the Nina but I’ve no idea why the elements of it are in that order.
    I liked 11a, 22a, 25a and 13d but my favourite was 12a for the moment when the significance of Peep became apparent.

  4. Thanks Dutch, couldn’t have done it without you. Three new words / phrases for me today! Definitely a 5*/5* imho. Elgar, you have given me brainstrain. Thanks.
    Btw, still haven’t clocked Nina. Help?

  5. Not too bad for Elgar. Liked Ms Peep in 12a, the concise construction of 23a and the penny-drop for “shifts” in 11a.
    Thanks to Elgar and Dutch [particularly for explaining “initial issue” in 13d which eluded me] – now can you tell us all where the NINA is and what’s the significance of 141?

    1. the 141 is a telephone prefix which means 1d 8d. In every across row, you will see a “1d 8d”

      1. Many thanks. Now I see.
        BTW is your picture at 24a Charles or Burl? I had a Google and they do look similar!

  6. The friendliest Elgar for some time and I was still 2 short of completing and required hints for another 4 but still, for me it’s progress :D.

    In my printout at 26a there is a question mark at the end which I note Dutch, you have omitted in your blog.

    I was puzzled by the question mark and hope your omission of it is the correct version.

    Thanks all

    1. The newspaper version has a question mark which indicates that the solution is an example of a Greek commander

      1. But if Greek Commander is the definition and Xenophon was a Greek Commander, the ? Is unnecessary. Unless Elgar used it because Xenophon was a Commander as well as many other things?

        1. Perhaps because the clue is phrased as a question ”What’s noble about…?’ for misdirection

  7. Fuggedaboutit………
    England have lost more wickets than I’ve got answers
    Might as well be in Swahili.

  8. A good challenge; 20A was the last entry that had me scratching my head for some time. I still cannot see the NINA.

  9. Gave up when I found it impossible to get more than a handful of answers.
    Glad to see that this appealed to our experts but Elgar is well beyond my talents.

    Many thanks to Dutch for walking me through the whys and wherefores!

  10. Way beyond me too. Even one of the few clues I answered with authority was wrong. I had “fair” for 10a it was “just” as well as a little festival. Oh well. I haven’t found the Nina either. I hope the back page is more friendly

  11. I can only aspire to solving puzzles like this one day, but as yet I am far from Elgar’s league and today wasn’t helped by my recent habit of getting my first answer wrong (10a FAIR)
    Thanks to Elgar and especially to Dutch for the hints, of which I needed many.

    1. If it’s any consolation I had “fair” pencilled into 10a for ages but I was uneasy about the “little” in the clue.

  12. We thought we had got away to a great start when we confidently wrote in FAIR for 10a. This made the NW the last corner to solve.
    A slow dogged solve for us with liberal use of electronic assistance but we did eventually get it all sorted.
    Thanks Elgar and Dutch.

  13. Couldn’t finish whole thing in time. Also had fair for a bit!!
    Really enjoyable. Never heard of the novel type. Was convinced was gonna be an actual novel. Hey ho
    Well done all

  14. Yet another Elgar that I managed to finish.
    Spotting the Nina helped me by pencelling in the Four, Five and Six in the grid. Specially the latter as I couldn’t have found that Greek commander thinking that the light in 19d was LED.
    Liked the way 20a was clued. Very Wooden Spoon…..
    Loved the Bo Peep in 12a and the Does in 17a.
    Favourite 1d. Wonderful construct with wonderful surface.
    Thanks to Elgar and to Dutch.

  15. Sorry, I can’t see above if this has been spelt out as part of the Nina:

    There are 8 numbers hidden in the text, 7 of which are across and 1 in the down clues and they appear in the following order

    1,2,7,3,4,5,6 (across) and 10 (down)

    ((1+2+7) x3) x 4) + (5+6+10) = 141

    1. Ah Rachel Riley makes an appearance after all. Or you can just think 141= the phone prefix for 1d 8d, and we see all the examples of a “1d 8D” in the grid

      1. Oh yes. Undeniably that would have been the main point but surely the arithmetic aspect isn’t accidental!

  16. At last I finished an Elgar. I found this so much more accessible than the novels of Sue Grafton(who?)

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