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Toughie 2421

Toughie No 2421 by Elgar

Hints and tips by Dutch

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

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


This is Elgar’s 147th Telegraph Toughie. A theme helped me to get four of the answers

As usual, definitions are underlined. The hints aim to guide you through the wordplay, and you can reveal the answers if you like by clicking on the What do you have to pot to get the maximum break score? buttons. Please leave a comment telling us how you got on and what you thought of the puzzle


1a    Everyone’s turned up with a full picnic (3,5)
ALL THERE: Not a sandwich short, then. A word for everyone and a word that can mean turned up or arrived

5a    Cheat dropping off car key (1-5)
D-SHARP: A 9-letter word for someone who might cheat at poker, say, without (dropping off) CAR from the clue at the front

9a    Stays a desire for extra cycling clash (8)
DISAGREE: A 2-letter verb that can mean stays (** at home), A from the clue, and a vice which involves a desire for extra – with the last letter cycling to the front

10a    Elgar’s most famous variation in D-minor? (6)
NIMROD: An anagram (variation) of D-minor. An intriguing clue. Wasn’t sure whether to underline the whole clue as definition, but it seems the answer is not in D-minor but 5a! Then I considered underlining only Elgar, since the answer is also his pseudonym in The Independent – but that would push ‘most famous’ into the wordplay. This variation portrays Elgar’s publisher friend and critic Augustus Jaeger, a pun on his name

12a    Female I see after toilet scrubber (6)
LOOFAH: The abbreviation for Female and an interjection meaning ‘I see’ come after another word for toilet

13a    Under those responsible for hearing usual suspect must gather broken bits of bar (8)
SUBAURAL: An anagram (suspect) of USUAL into which we insert separately the two pieces after breaking (must gather broken bits of) BAR from the clue

15a    Perhaps deserting allegedly badly-behaved old Father of the House (7)
DALYELL: An anagram (badly-behaved) of ALL(eg)EDLY from which an abbreviation meaning perhaps has been omitted (deserted). This Father of the House was a Scottish Labour MP from 1962 to 2005 (hence old)

16a    Feel obligation to knight War Poet (4)
OWEN: A verb meaning ‘feel obligation to’ plus the chess abbreviation for knight

20a    Ladies and Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, in my book (4)
LOOS: This person wrote the book in which Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (made into a Marilyn Monroe movie)

21a    Novelist OK with a cue, flamboyantly potting first of reds (7)
KEROUAC: An anagram (flamboyantly) of OK + A CUE, containing (potting) the first letter of reds. And a surface reading that hints at the theme

25a    Leaves prepared for refreshing cha-cha, buckling in? (5,3)
CHINA TEA: CHA from the clue plus another 3-letter word for cha contains (buckling) IN from the clue

26a    Win over the last one listening? (6)
ENDEAR: A 3-letter word meaning the last, and a 3-letter word meaning one listening

28a    Fine football game boycotted by Member of Parliament (6)
SUPERB: An important American football game from which we omit a feathered member of parliament

29a    Unfortunately dated leap years certainly don’t! (8)
LACKADAY: An old (dated) expression meaning unfortunately or alas, which when split (4,1,3) is something that leap years certainly don’t

30a    Take in the world of a naval type? (6)
ABSORB: Split (2’1,3), the answer describes the world of a naval type

31a    Chocolatiers have large plant by western side of racecourse (8)
ROWNTREE: A 3-letter verb meaning to have plus a large plant with a trunk follow, or go next to (by), the leftmost letter (western side) of racecourse


1d    Too small? Shoe’s not that large (3,3)
AND ALL: The abbreviation for small is missing from (‘s not that, with the contraction being for has) a 6-letter open shoe, then the abbreviation for large

2d    Exercise with track-suit discarded? (6)
LESSON: Split (4,2), this is what the exerciser might have once she has discarded her track-suit

3d    Old woman brought silver up for ritual (8)
HAGGADAH: A 3-letter ugly old woman, then a reversal (up) of ‘brought silver’

4d    A fast runner, though no winger: what about joining the Gunners? (4)
RHEA: A reversal (about) of an interjection meaning what is joining the 2-letter abbreviation for the Gunners in the military

6d    Winding Bible 2s up during round of drinks? (6)
SPIRAL: A reversal (up) of a 2-letter abbreviation for Bible 2s (where 2 refers to the answer of 2d) goes inside (during) a reversal (round of) a verb meaning drinks (like your dog)

7d    War cries winding companies up? (8)
AIRCREWS: An anagram (winding) of WAR CRIES

8d    In row, perhaps, bad cut in first half of game (8)
PADDLING: A 5-letter word meaning bad (like an egg) without its last letter (cut) goes inside (in) the first half of a (4-4) game (Olympic sport even) that makes use of the same hand-held implements as the answer

11d    Gun clip (7)
BULLDOG: Two meanings

14d    Lifted note about Polish farm-workers (7)
BYREMEN: A reversal (lifted) of a 2-letter Latin abbreviation for note or take notice going around (about) a verb meaning to polish or file, usually with a small strip of wood covered with abrasive paper

17d    Wants to live around a watery Eurasian expanse (5,3)
BLACK SEA: A verb meaning wants or needs has around it a 2-letter verb meaning live, then A from the clue

18d    Old horse base now divides work (8)
EOHIPPUS: The base of natural logarithms, then a 3-letter word meaning now or trendy goes inside (divides) the Latin word for work

19d    Model husband home raising family (8)
MANNIKIN: A husband or male partner, a reversal (raising) of a short word meaning home, and a 3-letter word for family

22d    ‘More just do right’ the compiler admitted (6)
FAIRER: A 4-letter word that can mean do (3rd intransitive definition in Chambers) plus the abbreviation for right, then admit the first-person pronoun, i.e., the compiler from his perspective

23d    Might stag go on one knee? (6)
BENDER: Two meanings, the first a booze-up, the second an angle-maker

24d    Mole‘s sensitive area under discussion (6)
GROYNE: A homophone (under discussion) of a delicately vulnerable area of the body

27d    End of bout nothing to talk about (4)
KAYO: A reversal (about) of the letter that looks like nothing and an informal verb meaning to talk persistently

I think the clue I liked most is the self-referential 10a. And I thank Elgar for the perfect description of me in 19d. I also liked the car key (5a), the knee (23d) and the world of the naval type (30a). Which were your favourite clues?

36 comments on “Toughie 2421

  1. I really enjoyed solving this over breakfast (and a bit beyond) this morning. I did spot the Nina words fairly early on and, assisted by remembering which number we were up to, realised what I needed to get a maximum score. My only question is: what happened with 6d that meant the missing colour couldn’t be highlighted when I was making sure I’d got all the themed words

    Thanks to Elgar for a splendid Toughie – I always like the idea of a 28a Member of Parliament and I’d have to pick 4d as my Down favourite because of the ones down the road. Thanks also to Dutch

    1. took me a while to realise what you were talking about. try starting with the B in 13a. Does that answer your question? It’s the one I missed at first!

      1. I spent nearly as much time staring at the grid trying to find that one than I did solving the crossword. Thank you

      2. Sorry Dutch and CS I know I m being thick but I still can’t see the last remaining colour. If you start from the B in 13a where do you go next?

  2. Managed a few more than usual. I do not understand Bible 2 in 6d. but did like 29a and 12a.

    I’m still in awe at those who finish an Elgar. He is such an acquired taste. I would be interested to know who loves him and whose heart sinks, like mine, when they see his name at the top of a puzzle, Time for a survey?

    1. 2 refers to 2d so Bible Lesson is RI (Religious Indoctrination, as I always thought of it).

  3. I do like an Elgar puzzle which is straightforward (i.e doesn’t have lots of cross-references from one clue to another).
    I was held up by my last two clues (14d and 15a). In the latter I went all round the houses, thinking that father of the house might be all sorts of things including the founder of a royal dynasty, until the most obvious meaning arrived – I do remember the gentleman who was probably most famous for formulating the ‘West Lothian Question’.
    I liked 9a, 1d, 7d and 24d but my favourite clue was 28a.
    Thanks to Elgar and to Dutch.

    1. I was just trying to decide whether I’d remembered the correct Father of the House when I spotted the theme word possibility and knew I’d got the right man

        1. When I was pregnant with no 1 son I wasn’t particularly well and spent time watching more snooker than I would have done otherwise and so I do know about how to achieve a 147 break

        2. you’re nowhere near 147 then. Keep looking. See the hint under the click here in the preamble, and the video clip at the end of the blog.

  4. I wouldn’t recommend 14d for polishing …favourites 5 and 28a, least favourite 1d.
    Thanks to Elgar and Dutch

  5. I would love to tackle an Elgar puzzle free from obscurities that would allow me, with patience and perseverance, to complete, fully parsed, without needing to reach for my iPad. Sadly that has never happened to date. I love the clues especially the difficult-to-spot definitions but there are normally a fair number of obscurities. For this one I needed electronic assistance for the obscure words (authors and a ritual) but I thought I had fully parsed it (I doubt I have ever fully parsed an Elgar puzzle) only to find I made a mistake on 9a – from the checkers the answer became clear and I thought, in my haste, it was an anagram of “a desire” and I wrote in the answer without noticing I was a “g” short and the word “stays” was rather superfluous. Overall, I like Elgar puzzles – with the hope that the obscurities decline in 148+. With thanks to Elgar and Dutch

  6. As has become my norm, I just enjoyed reading Dutch’s decryption without torturing myself by attempting Elgar’s latest puzzle. Pleased to see that the theme for his 147th offering would be what I’d predicted.
    Thoroughly enjoyed watching Mr O’Sullivan clear the table in record time – I reckon that’s what is known as having nerves of steel!
    Many thanks, Dutch.

    1. He later said in an interview that he made that break ‘when I was good’, before going on to win another 36 ranking events and make over 1000 centuries. If you’ve never seen the side-by-side video of this 147 next to a break of 12 (Peter Ebdon :roll: ) in the same amount of time, it’s worth a Google

  7. As Gazza, I was really held up by 14d and 15a but having spotted the colours, I penciled in “yell” at the end of the word and managed to work out the anagram. Didn’t know Tam before.
    Never got 14d unfortunately although I guessed the ending. Still can’t identify the two words.
    Thought that 4d was Hare for a while.
    One clue short from completion but pleased to have gone this far.
    Thanks to Elgar for a really good workout and to Dutch for the review.

  8. I realise that a great help in solving an Elgar is to get the number of his current offering. Is it too much to ask that this could be declared before we start to solve the puzzle? Please!

    1. If you had never found this blog, you’d just solve a proper toughie by a great setter. You might notice the colours in the Nina but knowledge of the number would be irrelevant

  9. I am in awe of those of you who mastered not only the puzzle itself (I actually managed nine correct answers) but all of the extrapolative, Elgar-centric matter. How brilliant all of this is! Thank you, Dutch, for the encryption and Elgar for such glories. I clearly have a loooooooooong way to go.

  10. Well that was a long stint , I thought that this puzzle was a *****.
    Gradually worked my way round and only needed hints for three clues from Dutch at the end, namely 14d which I had never heard before, 15a which I parsed correctly but could not find an answer to the anagram and 18d which would have taken another week- I did search for old horses ridden by historical figures so nearly on the right track!
    It certainly was a challenge, my favourite was 28a-thanks all.

  11. I loved the back pager today and even had time, and with a bit of pre-knowledge of what the theme would likely be I got a start on this. I did a lot better than is the norm for an Elgar but poor knowledge of Passover rituals and ancient horses needed electronic and Dutch help to get me over the line. I still don’t fully understand 14d either but maybe Latin and polishing terms are lacking too. I have got all the colours and Nina and that helped as well.
    I loved 31a and knowing Elgar’s York connection was key to getting that one. I do hope that his York S&B in Oct is still on the cards.
    Thanks to Dutch and Elgar, time to give my brain a rest!

      1. Thanks J-L I just couldn’t see that. I did however like the look of the Tart au Framboise on your menu.

  12. For people wondering about the 147 theme/Nina

    In the grid, you will find what you need to pot for the maximum break score of 147 in snooker

    1a ALL THE REDS 15×1= 15 points
    1d AND ALL BLACKS 15×7= 105 points
    row 7 YELLOW 2 points
    row 3 GREEN 3 points
    row 15 BROWN 4 points
    col 10 BLUE 5 points
    row 12 PINK 6 points
    row 13 BLACK 7 points

    total 147 points

    1. Used to play the game every week with a few actor friends, namely Adrian Dunbar, Hugh Fraser, Neil Morissey, Gary Love and others in Crouch End Snooker Hall.
      Never managed to score such a wipe out. More busy drinking and smoking. Remember the sponsors. Embassy, Benson and Hedges, Fosters et al. Ray Reardon used to be my idol. The Dracula of the game. Fond memories. Thanks again to Elgar and to you Dutch.

  13. Started this last night and got all but the SE corner. Failed miserably today by putting INTEND in 23d (as in to propose by getting down on one knee!). Came here for a hint which set me off again, and I managed to finish it ok, but then forgot to look for the ninas, even though snooker was in my thoughts yesterday when I started the puzzle. Elgar’s puzzles never cease to amaze me – absolutely brilliant.

    I saw the late great John Spencer once, but I was never any good at snooker, although I did manage a 121 break once – red, yellow, red.

  14. At last I completed an Elgar toughie without any assistance though my parsing of 9a was deficient.. I to went for an anagram of a desire and forgot about the required g, 31a held me up for some time until the penny dropped. my favourite was 29a even though my chambers says it is archaic but that is a minor matter in an Elgar puzzle.
    Thank you Dutch for your clear exposition for 9a and to Elgar for an enjoyable challenge without one obscure word in the whole lot.

  15. My only advice is to keep on coming back to an Elgar puzzle, if you have the time. Yes, I use electronic methods of solving and the BRB dictionary sometimes, but I don’t look at the blogger’s hints until after I’ve finished. I hadn’t even an inkling about today’s extremely clever Nina, though. I had to look up the list of Fathers of the House to jog my memory about 15a, and also went through every synonym for ‘polish’ before finding ’emery,’ which went in backwards in 14d. The solution wasn’t in any list of synonyms for ‘farm workers’ so that clue took a long time, as did 27d, which I’d never seen spelt like that before. I went through all the three letter words for ‘talk’ with an ‘a’ in the middle, before finding the right one. Brilliant puzzle, as ever. 10a was my favourite. Great blog, too.

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