Toughie 2429 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
View closed comments 

Toughie 2429

Toughie No 2429 by Elgar

Hints and tips by Dutch

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

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


Being clueless of the date in lockdown zombie mode, I almost missed the timely theme. The fact that this is Elgar’s 148th Telegraph toughie is still given a little nod by way of the double clue 14&8.

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 Help! buttons. Please leave a comment telling us how you got on and what you thought of the puzzle


1a    In need of a lift, in the main? (2,3)
AT SEA: Where a sailor might be, and what he might need if he’s this

4a    City bar panels of wood work in the theatre (8)
BELMOPAN: A verb meeting to bar covers (panels) an adjective meaning of wood (a specific tree) and a shortened word for a doctor’s work in theatre

8a    see 14d

9a    Unusually diverse times blocking need for it? (3,5)
SEX DRIVE: An anagram (unusually) of DIVERSE is blocked by the letter that looks like the arithmetic sign used for multiplication (times)

11a    see 24a

13a    Screening rate of movement doctor may see breathing problem (9)
EMPHYSEMA: Around (screening) a 3-letter abbreviation for units of rate of movement, or speed, we anagram (doctor) MAY SEE

15a    Operate a cam internally to follow a course of lunch? (10,5)
ALIMENTARY CANAL: An anagram (operate) of A CAM INTERNALLY to follow A from the clue

18a    Chap carrying 75% of cargo in top-notch vehicle (9)
AMBULANCE: A 3-letter chap or bloke contains (carrying) 3 out of the 4 letters (75%) of a word meaning cargo or goods carried (not LOAD!), all inside a word meaning top-notch

21a    What beasts have done time … here? (7)
DUNGEON: A 4-letter word for something beasts might have done or left behind, and a long time

22a    Standard staff supply of legal paraphernalia at induction (8)
FLAGPOLE: An anagram (supply) of OF LEGAL + P(araphernalia)’s first letter (at induction)

24a/11a Ominous disaster signs from the outset like, say, 5 and 19? (8,7)
DISTRESS SIGNALS: An anagram (ominous) of DISASTER SIGNS + L+S, the first letters (from the outset) of L(ike) and S(ay)

25a    In Munich, a mug? Not I (8)
EINSTEIN: The German word (In Munich) for a, plus another word for mug

26a    Run rings around barbecue? (5)
OUTDO: Split (3,2), the answer could describe a barbecue


1d    Gold violin cases nearly closed a road in Italy (10)
AUTOSTRADA: The chemical symbol for gold and a shortened version of an expensive violin contains (cases) a 2-letter word meaning nearly closed, then at the end we have A from the clue

2d    The mesmeric musician Vangelis is stupefying (8)
SVENGALI: The person that VANGELIS is anagramming (stupefying)

3d    How sharp is this partner’s second reminder, about to beat clubs (8)
ACUTANCE: The second letter in partner, then a 3-letter reminder or prompt goes around (about) a verb meaning to beat and the abbreviation for clubs

4d    Deep sea fish (4)
BASS: Two meanings, the first relating to vocal or instrumental pitch

5d    I need assistance this time (6)
MAYDAY: The clue indicating the theme: two meanings, the first a distress call (derived from the French for “help me”), the second today

6d    Cryptic compilers Mr Stephenson at first fails to keep in order (6)
POLICE: An anagram (cryptic) of CO(m)PILE(rs) without (fails) MR and Stephenson at first

7d    Square one for each service option herein (4)
NINE: Use one of this answer for each of the 3 service option answers in the grid (herein) to reach them!

10d    First wife, possibly not welcome when turning up, sold overseas (8)
EXPORTED: A 2-letter word for a previous wife, possibly, then a reversal (when turning up) of a (2,4) French expression that suggests a rather unappreciated bit too much

12d    Standing guard over base, left like Sondheim’s clowns (8)
SENTINEL: Above (over) the base of natural logs plus the abbreviation for left, we have a (4,2) phrase descriptive of the clowns in the Sondheim song

14d/8a    Every shot informed arbitrators about staff security – mass bail-out needed! (3,5,2,3,5)
ALL HANDS TO THE PUMPS: A 3-letter word for every, a 3-letter word for shot (as in a drink), a 3-letter word for informed, then a shortened form of arbitrators goes around (about) an abbreviation for staff security or protection expressed as * AND *

16d    Something to blow series of forgotten rock-‘n’-rollers from the ground (8)
CORNETTO: Reverse hidden (series of … from the ground)

17d    Love opening fixture with teams depleted? (3-5)
NON-EVENT: A 4-letter word that means the same as a score of love in tennis, and an opening

19d    Warning: its usual partner will have egg on face (6)
BEACON: Egg’s usual partner (at breakfast) contains (will have) its first letter (egg on face)

20d    Toy dog, perhaps, that’s hanging loose (6)
LAPPET: Split (3,3), the answer could be a toy dog, for instance

22d    Condition escalated on discharge (4)
FIRE: A reversal (escalated) of a 2-letter condition, plus a short word meaning on, or in reference to

23d    Paradise regained (everyone’s content after reverse) (4)
EDEN: Reverse hidden (… content after reverse)


I think my favourite clue today is 15a – how clever is that? And of course I enjoyed 9a as well. Which clues did you like?





29 comments on “Toughie 2429

  1. Elgar does it again! Another very enjoyable stretch of the cryptic grey matter in a double-unched grid for the second day running, with a theme that was easily spotted, even though I wasn’t entirely sure or bothered about what 148 had to do with it. Too many clues I really liked to even shortlist or longlist come to that, never mind pick a favourite so I won’t

    Thanks to Elgar for another splendid proper Toughie and to Dutch for the blog

  2. I thought that this was a little bit less tricky than is the rule for Elgar and it’s really enjoyable with a very timely theme.

    Prior to reading Dutch’s blog I assumed that 4d was a triple definition – I was pretty sure that there was a Bass Sea somewhere ‘down South’. Now I find that there isn’t, although the Bass Strait is referred to in Wikipedia as a sea strait.

    I gave ticks to 15a, 21a and 12d but my favourite was the LOL 9a.

    Thanks to Elgar and Dutch.

  3. I thought this was going to be relatively easy [for Elgar] and made a flying start with 1a, 1d, 9a and 15a. Then steady progress across the lower half until 14/8 enabled further progress in the upper half. Ah, the sins of hubris! Ground to a halt with 3d unfilled and completely at a loss to parse 7d [which was a fairly certain guess]. Still don’t see it. Can you throw further light Dutch?

    Impressed with the precision of 22a and 22d.

    Many thanks, and of course to Elgar for the challenge.

    1. Hi,
      Someone probably got there before me but 999 is the number for police, ambulance and fire.

    2. 7d nine is a square number and you need three of them to telephone each of the service options in the solutions (herein)

  4. Quite a friendly theme for No 148.
    Nothing too taxing and a pleasure to solve.
    Learned a couple of new words in 3d and 20d but easily checked from the parsing.
    Favourite the bacon and egg in 19d.
    Thanks to Elgar and to Dutch.

  5. I came very close to finishing this splendid Elgar Toughie (with some electronic help) but never solved 5d, which now seems among the easiest of clues. I thought ‘Friday’ (as one who gives assistance, which the clue offers!) had to be the answer, but the timeliness of today (1 May) eluded me altogether. Wonderful to work on this one: started in the evening, slept on it a bit, returned this morning (still solving–latecomers: 4a, 6d, 3d), and then had to yield to “M’aider!”.
    Top clues: 14d/8a, 19d, 6d (great rekrul!). Thanks to Dutch for his review and to Elgar, the Great One. One of these days, I hope….! ***** / *****

    1. Oh, I see! 999 is not a number we have over here; ours is 911. I would never have parsed that one without generous help from crypticsue and Jean-Luc. Not even Dutch’s hint did it.

  6. Really enjoyed this puzzle. Had to check the 4a city in my atlas though.

  7. Super puzzle, even though I found 14d/ 8a ,which was a bung in for me, impossible to parse even with the hints.
    Needed electronic help for 4a and 20d, favourite 15 a .
    Thanks to Elgar and Dutch

    1. Hi, Dave. In case you’re still around, for parsing 14/8:

      • Find the AND in the answer. The letter either side of that (as individual letters) make a phrase which is used to describe measures aimed at preventing staff having accidents.
      • The next 3 letters after that (spanning a word boundary in the answer) are a small quantity of an alcoholic drink.
      • The 3 letters after that (again spanning answer words) are a word I didn’t know. Change its vowel to an I to get a more familiar variant which can mean ‘in the know’ (about fashion, say).
      • The final letters are a shortened form of those in charge of making decisions in a cricket match.

      Hope that helps!

  8. Very enjoyable and, in parts, quite gentle for Elgar but beaten by 3d (never heard of) and 26a. The theme helped. Thanks to all.

  9. First time ever solving an Elgar puzzle quite quickly. I have to confess that a good few were as a result of looking for words that fitted with the letters I did get, without really understanding the cryptic element, but I’ll take it. Favourite clue 10d. De trop very clever

  10. Employed my usual MO where Elgar is concerned – read through the clues, get a light sprinkling of answers and then look at what Dutch has to say about it all.
    Always enjoyable to read his review and marvel at his capabilities but in this instance I still can’t understand the 14/8 combo or how it relates to this being the setter’s 148th appearance in the Toughie slot.

    Thank you, Dutch, this lesser mortal salutes you!

    1. I think we should ignore the word combo in your comment and remove the backslash between your 14 and the 8

      Not all Elgar’s numbered references are complicated

  11. Considering that this was a ***** toughie (**** for enjoyment) I was pleased with my steady progress around the grid , I have to admit that quite a few answers went in before the confirmatory parsing!
    I was held up by the NE corner and did not like panels for ‘covers’ in 4a.
    Thanks to Dutch for the explanation of 7d as I failed to parse the square.
    Overall first class cluing and a proper puzzle-thanks all.

  12. I needed the hints for 4a, 3d and 7d but the rest fell into place after much head scratching. I liked 25a and 5d was very topical. I found the squaring of 7d somewhat bizarre. Surely it should be “cube one”? I must be missing something.

    Many thanks to Elgar and to Dutch for the hints.

  13. Quite incredible! I’ll admit to a little electronic help but, for the first time, I have nearly finished an Elgar puzzle. I needed to see 4a to unlock the NE corner. A city I have never heard of even though I have visited Belize. Didn’t go far enough inland.

    5d is my COTD though 25a and 21a run a close second. Now I can open the bar to recover!

  14. Thanks to Elgar and to Dutch for the review and hints. I must be dreaming, I’ve just managed to solve 14 clues. My best for Elgar’s puzzles is usually less than half a dozen. Will resume tomorrow.

  15. Amazing! I didn’t attempt the crossword, but reading through the hints and comments, I am in awe at Elgar, Dutch, and everybody who solved even some of this. I hope that one day I’ll be good enough at cryptic crosswords (and have a wide enough vocabulary) to be able to come back and work my way through Elgar’s Toughies.

    In 18a, I wasn’t familiar with that word meaning cargo — and given it has a letter missing even once you have the answer, I had to look it up to check that it was indeed that, and not ‘***B’ or ‘***L’.

    For 14/8, I didn’t know that word for informed, and even after looking it up and discovering it was a dated alternative to *I* it took me 3 dictionaries before it twigged that ‘trendy’ is a sort of ‘informed’ (and along the way I did learn about rosehips, Jewish abuse, and high-energy physics — though I hope, for very different reasons, never to encounter either of those last two).

    My favourites were the indicator of what day it is (making this Elgar’s second Toughie this year that required a specific publication date) and the square number for its original cluing.

    Thank you again. I don’t think I’ve ever had so much fun not doing a crossword!

  16. Beaten by 3d, 7d and 16d which I thought was an ice-cream! Also, I had a set drive rather than the it drive! Okay for an old woman like me I suppose! Favourite was 25a.

  17. Beaten by 4a (never heard of it!) 6d and 7d. Annoyed at not getting 6, but overall very pleased with my effort. Thanks to Elgar and Dutch for the challenge and enlightenment!

  18. Well I was pleased to finish it – although I’ve never been to Belize and did have to check that one!
    Totally had enough of lockdown – I really wish I lived in Sweden!

  19. Just got around to this tonight. Needed Google for 4a, gave up trying to fully parse 14d/8a, and didn’t appreciate the 999 reference in 7d. But managed to complete the grid in what was possibly my fastest ever solve for an Elgar.

  20. Thank you Dutch for you usual erudite parsing of the clues which enabled me to complete this excellent brain teaser by Elgar. I still failed on 4a as I had never heard of the place and could not find the wood for the trees!

Comments are closed.