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Toughie 2393

Toughie No 2393 by Elgar

Hints and tips by Dutch

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

This is Elgar’s 144th Telegraph Toughie, clearly reflected in an appropriately-numbered clue, just as a commenter predicted last week!

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 you can always reveal the answers by clicking on the 12a: 4×4=4dx4d=12×12=144! buttons. Please leave a comment telling us what you thought.


6a    One takes a turn for the better (8,5)
ROULETTE WHEEL: A cryptic definition of something you might find in a casino

8a    Book sizes up snake wound (6)
PSALMS: Reversal (wound) of the abbreviations of three standard sizes (in the up direction) and a 3-letter snake

9a    Now out of silver, not nuts (3,5)
ALL THERE: Take a (3,3,4) expression for now as in trendy, and remove (out of) the chemical symbol for silver

11a    No pursuing Chinese literary hero (6)
HANNAY: A 3-letter word meaning no follows (pursuing) a member of the native Chinese people

12a    4 x 4 might bring you this dirty old man? (3,5)
ONE GROSS: A multiplication product using the answer to 4d could also be exemplified by a dirty old man!

14a    Fast mover 11 acquired his 6d (7)
SCUDDER: The literary hero in 11a acquired 6d from this character in the story

16a    Once you start to yawn, ebbing body temperature contains it (7)
THYSELF: A reversal (ebbing) of a 5-letter word meaning body (or meat) plus the abbreviation for temperature contains the start to Yawn

20a    see 4d

23a    Easy for one in the library to stifle a 4 (6)
MIDDAY: ‘In the library’ points us towards a literary reference. Easy is the eponymous hero in Mr Midshipman Easy by Captain (Frederick) Marryat. An informal short form of midshipman (Easy for one) contains (to stifle) a from the clue. The definition is the answer to 4d

24a     Poet’s work on the radio was outstanding (3)
ODE: A homophone (on the radio) of a verb meaning was outstanding

25a/15d March I deferred for 24 hours due to the action of 7? (2,6,3)
ST DAVID’S DAY: Nicely current! A celebration this Sunday is one day later this year!

26a    Having gone over hill, ring for a reminder? (4-2)
POST-IT: A (4,2) expression for having gone over the hill into which we substitute the letter O (ring) for the letter A

27a    Instrument left in meadows likely to produce a shudder? (5-8)
SPINE-TINGLING: A 6-letter old keyboard instrument, then the abbreviation for left sits between two 3-letter meadows.


1d    Mistakenly let in cracking rising double act did sketch (8)
OUTLINED: An anagram (mistakenly) of LET IN is inserted into (cracking) a reversal (rising) of a 3-letter double act

2d    On escalator under Birmingham Station, see date’s determination? (3,5)
NEW STYLE: Under an abbreviated form of the main railway station in Birmingham, we have a reversal (on escalator, as in going up) of our favourite see. The definition refers to a mode of reckoning dates, the Gregorian calendar as opposed to the Julian one (see Chambers). Or perhaps one’s date might be determined not to be seen in anything that could be described as ‘so last year’!

3d    What’s paid for meal, perhaps parts a trifle well done! (7)
ATTABOY: A bill or check for a meal, perhaps, goes inside (parts) A from the clue plus a 3-letter word for trifle

4d/20a    Group flipping shot out of their box (6,5,3)
TWELVE ANGRY MEN: A cryptic reference to a movie filmed (shot) of an upset (flipping) jury deliberating (out of their box) – the original with Henry Fonda was vastly superior to the remake

5d    Selection of wine: the Riesling’s inferior (6)
NETHER: Hidden (Selection of …)

6d     Refrain from looking through Astronomer Royal’s lab jottings? (8,5)
RESEARCH NOTES: A (6,3) phrase that would mean ‘refrain from looking’ goes inside (through) the surname of the current Astronomer Royal

7d     What’s sold in Long Room bar? Imitation Christmas jumpers! (5,1-7)
LORDS A-LEAPING: The Long Room is a historic room at Lord’s cricket ground, so you might expect the bar to sell a whimsical (4’1,3). Then add a present participle meaning imitation to get these ‘jumpers’ (12 of them to fit the theme of today’s puzzle! Though some versions have 10 or 11) in a Christmas song

13d    Rag and rope (3)
GUY: Two meanings, the first a verb

15d    see 25a

17d    Where you’ll find menu in message he carries? (4,4)
HOME PAGE: A place referred to as ‘in’, plus a messenger (I wasted quite some time trying to insert a message into HE!)

18d    Painful, is it, turning second of screws? (8)
SADISTIC: The whole clue serves as definition. A 3-letter word meaning sorrowful or painful, IS from the clue, a reversal (turning) of IT and the second letter of screws

19d    Knowing Conservative, it’s e.g. Land of Hope and Glory which is uplifting (7)
GNOSTIC: A reversal (which is uplifting) of the abbreviation for conservative, IT from the clue, and a word for a noted set of lyrics exemplified by Land of Hope and Glory

21d    Travelling crew-member thus could be authorised for reassembly (6)
ROADIE: [The answer] + THUS could be an anagram (for reassembly) of AUTHORISED

22d    No concessions from this virgin!(6)
MAIDEN: Two meanings, the first a kind of over in cricket

The clue I enjoyed most was the current 25a/15d, though I also really liked the travelling crew member (21d) and 1a is classic. Which were your favourites?


16 comments on “Toughie 2393

  1. I enjoyed this very much – solved in the time it took to eat a bowl of Honey Nut Shredded Wheat and drink a cup of tea, so not as tricky as Elgar can be. A friend suggested this morning that as Elgar is now appearing fortnightly, he obviously hasn’t got as much time to spare to be as devious as he used to be!

    I liked all the references to 12 and 144 – although I was slightly disappointed not to have A LEAP YEAR as a solution, given that the enumeration of that is 1,4,4.

    Thanks to Elgar for the crossword and Dutch for the blog

  2. I have long hoped that one day we would see an Elgar puzzle free from elaborations such as ninas, themes and London bus routes where the vocabulary and GK was more “everyday” so that I could struggle away looking for the fiendishly hidden definitions without electronic assistance. Today got pretty close with just three unknowns (3d and the related 11 & 14a) so I, rather than my iPad, much enjoyed the challenge. Dare I say I thought it was a gross improvement!

    With many thanks to Elgar for a proper brain-teaser and Dutch for clarifying 23a which I guessed successfully but could not parse (never heard of the book and thought the library reference meant put a “sh” into something)

  3. Luckily for me I knew the Buchan novel quite well so the puzzle was less difficult than it might otherwise have been. I see that the Penguin Classic edition has exactly 144 pages (though that is probably irrelevant!).
    My top clues were 4d/20a, 23a and 7d but favourite has to be the topical 25a/15d.
    Thanks to Elgar and Dutch.

  4. I haven’t even attempted recent Elgar Toughies, as I could never spot the definitions. However today I glanced at it and, encouraged by getting 6a immediately, I worked my way through it, failing only on 23a. I didn’t spot the ‘Easy’ reference. Thanks to Elgar and Dutch.

  5. It took 3* time to fill the Grid so I agree with CS that this was [maybe?] as easy as Elgar gets. But teasing out the wordplay for several [eg 9a] took a lot longer and the cryptic definitions at 4d/20a and 23a defeated me – so thanks to Dutch for the enlightenment and of course to fluffy Elgar.

  6. A lovely puzzle and thankfully we remembered from last week’s host of (1,4,3) clues which number this one would be.

    We didn’t know the 39 steps reference and actually had 14a before 11a, but Mr Google explained for us. However we needed Mr Dutch to fully explain 23a.

    Favourite clue by quite a bit (which is unusual because Elgars usually throw up several favourites) was 7d – what a wonderful clue.

    Thanks to Dutch and to Elgar.

  7. Didn’t get all of this because I didn’t know some of the references but loved what I could do – 7d is brilliant, amongst others
    Thanks to Elgar and Dutch for filling in the gaps

  8. Charged ahead with 1a so felt the rest would be easy. How wrong I was! Only solved about 3 more including 25a/15d. Elgar is still beyond me.
    Im finding the top half of the back pager heavy going too. Not my brightest of days.

  9. After completing my first Toughie yesterday am left very depressed today. I managed some but even when I read the hints found the rest too difficult, some I didn”t understand at all!

    1. You shouldn’t be depressed at all. Elgar is the one setter who lives up to the Telegraph hype that the Toughie is the hardest puzzle on Fleet Street (or wherever the papers now live). So it’s a big step up from an ‘average’ Toughie to an Elgar. I think you should measure your progress at this stage on how well you fare with non-Elgar Toughies. It’s Donnybrook on Tuesday – I’m sure you’ll do well with him.

  10. Had to Google a couple of things such as 3d which i didn’t know and Richard Hannay to get the answer of 14a.
    Bunged in 23a though.
    Liked the search not in 6d.
    Favourite 7d.
    Thanks to Elgar and to Dutch.

  11. Eureka! Yes! I’ve done it! Having got so close last time, only failing by half a dozen or so before resorting to the hints, I’ve finally done an Elgar on my own. When I say on my own I did use copious amounts of electronic help and need the hints to parse 8 of the clues but who cares. I’d never heard of the meadow, I have now but I don’t suppose it will come up again. Favourite is going to be 26a as it was my last one in and I nearly wrote the wrong answer in until the penny dropped with a loud clang. Many thanks to Elgar and Dutch.

  12. Thanks to Elgar and to Dutch for the review and hints. I enjoyed this one very much. Can’t be a “full strength” Elgar, as I was able to get into it. Needed the hints for 8,11,16,23a and 2&21d. Favourite was 26a. Was 3*/3* for me.

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