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Toughie 2441

Toughie No 2441 by Elgar

Hints and tips by Dutch

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


This is Elgar’s 149th Telegraph Toughie. Some of you may notice 13 grid entries involved in a theme, which of course is not essential to the puzzle. But it does link to 149, and you may notice that if you extend that you get five of the locations of thematic entries. Luckily I found a foothold to get started and although progress was slow, it was sufficiently steady to maintain morale

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 23s buttons. Please leave a comment telling us how you got on and what you thought of the puzzle


1a    In which Merlin’s mostly enveloped by a little smoke in turn? (5)
MAGIC: The last 5 letters (mostly) of Merlin are covered (enveloped) by A from the clue and a reversal (in turn) of a shortened word for a smoke

4a    What’s learner doing now? Language (5)
LATIN: The abbreviation for learner, a preposition that can meaning doing (as in ** it), and a word for now or currently fashionable. The “What’s” is part of the clue construction (I think), as in What is [this wordplay]? Answer

10a/23a    England captain quits after poor scores summarised by this statistic? (4,4,6)
ROOT MEAN SQUARE: The English cricket captain, then a word for quits or even follows an adjective meaning poor

11a    Come together, ready to cook? (3,3)
PAN OUT: As in it will all ‘come together’ in the end. Having taken this cooking vessel from the cupboard, perhaps

12a    Fundamental for business keeping watch chains (6)
ALBERT: The whole clue is the definition. ‘Watch chains’ looks like the definition but it is wordplay (and plural of course). An adjective meaning ‘keeping watch’ (perhaps for a virus) contains (chains) the first letter (fundamental) of business

13a    How Helmholtz liked being brought chemists’ notes and other such principles! (8)
ELEMENTS: The phrasing of the definition is key here. The answer is another word for principles, but which principles is this ‘other’ from? Consider the starts (principles, as in fundamentals or the basics) of the first 7 words in the clue.

14a    Town on Thames newly laid out in east? South! (7)
STAINES: An anagram (newly laid out) of IN EAST plus the abbreviation for South

16a    Lose waves fixing a new gel for Hooray Henry (6)
SLOANE: An anagram (waves) of LOSE contains (fixing) A from the clue and the abbreviation for new

17a    Part of address that’s ignored? Half of it (2,4)
AT SIGN: Take 6 consecutive letters out of the 12 (half of it) in ‘that’s ignored’

19a     House number kept under wraps by owner (7)
HANOVER: The 2-letter abbreviation for number is contained (kept under wraps) by a word for owner or possessor

21a    At different volumes, two tunes go by the book (4,4)
PLAY FAIR: Two 3-letter words for a tune or song, each preceded by a different musical instruction for volume

22a    Wicket! That is Broad, superlatively! (6)
WIDEST: The abbreviation for wicket, then a (2,3) Latin phrase meaning that is

23a    see 10a

24a    Bishop close to accepting crown off Chancellor, European (8)
BERKELEY: A 2-letter word meaning close to contains (accepting) the German Chancellor without the first letter (crown off) and the abbreviation for European


25a    Days, weeks, months passing by (5)
TIMES: Two meanings, the second as in multiplied by

26a    What priest might deliver en route back from Las Palmas? (5)
PSALM: Reverse hidden (en route back …)


2d    Objects of Greek lasses’ fancy when dining on Neapolitan chicken? (7)
APOLLOS: A 2-letter word meaning when contains (dining on) how someone in Naples would say chicken

3d    Obstructing mum and dad with child? (2,3,6,3)
IN THE FAMILY WAY: If you are obstructing mum & dad, you are (2,3,6,3)

5d    Unbearded ducks shot in low season marinaded (7)
AWNLESS: The letters that resemble zero scores in cricket (ducks) are removed (shot) in an anagram (marinaded) of L(o)W SEAS(o)N

6d    Stress to newspaper staff it’s me handling scoops (7,2)
IMPRESS ON: A collective word for newspaper staff that a (2,2) phrase meaning “it’s me handling” contains (scoops)

7d    Two 23s Brock’s found here? (4)
SETT: Two examples (3,1) of a 23 (think drawing instruments)

8d    Failure to decide about new uniform again did puzzle Head (14)
UNRESOLVEDNESS: Reverse (about) the abbreviation of new and the letter coded by uniform, a word meaning ‘again did puzzle’, and a head or promontory

9d    London station lifts back out of action! (6)
EUSTON: If you back out of (legal) action, you will (3,3) – reverse this (lifts)

15d    The setter’s two older relatives climbing mountain (5,4)
NANDA DEVI: How you would say the setter’s (the setter has) from his first-person perspective (1’2), then an older male relative and an even older female relative, all reversed (climbing)

18d    You shouldn’t have high-fliers broadcast Islamic divorces (6)
TALAQS: A short word of appreciation and a homophone (broadcast) of some birds

19d    To let Blair loose without constraints, they must accept it (7)
HIRABLE: An anagram (loose) of BLAIR is contained in (… must accept it) tHEy from the clue without the outer letters (constraints)

20d    Extremists will desert EU, old chap (7)
RUSSELL: Remove the outer letters from (extremists will desert) the city associated with EU and oLd from the clue

22d    Promise jointly kept by law and order (4)
WORD: Hidden (kept by) when you join LAWORDER


My favourite clue today is 3d – which is yours?





32 comments on “Toughie 2441

  1. A lovely proper Toughie with a theme I could spot – a nice variety of 23a – and I also spotted the link to a certain scientist and so I searched for Einstein 149 and apparently this is an Einsteinian Prime, although whatever that is, it’s a bit too complicated for me!

    Thanks to Elgar for a great Toughie (5*/5*) and to Dutch for the blog – if you look at the two separate words in the solutions to 10a and 21a, doesn’t that make 16 links to the 23a theme?

  2. Another Elgar masterpiece, very tough for me. Thanks to Elgar and Dutch.
    I did spot the theme before I finished which did help with 24a since I’d never heard of the bishop.

    I failed on 13a though I got the answer from the checkers – thanks to Dutch for the hint (I still needed to check out the table). Shouldn’t ‘first letters’ be principals rather than principles?.

    Highlights for me were 11a, 16a, 22a and 3d.

    The enumeration for 26a is wrong in the hints, though it’s correct on the Puzzles site.

    1. oops, that is my editing, now corrected, thanks for that.
      yes, you can tell from the hints I was trying hard to make principles work – i think i’ve convinced myself

  3. Got the theme earlier on with Sloane, Euston and Hanover. Good thing I lived in London for a while.
    Really enjoyable solve.
    Must admit to a bung in for the answer to 13a. Just couldn’t parse it.
    Thanks to Elgar for the great fun and to Dutch for the review.

  4. Quite beyond me. Managed 3 answers after a morning head scratching. Definitely one for the aficionados.

  5. !!! Having solved the two long clues early on, especially 3d, I thought I was on my way….until SPLAT! I did manage 12 on my own, before I sought electronic help, but even then, I failed to finish. Had I just managed to solve 10 and 23a, I think I might have finished this marvellous creation by Elgar, but it was not in the cards today. Awesome achievement, this. I don’t have enough asterisks today. Thanks to Dutch for parsing so many that I could not parse and Jean-Luc for leading me to the 23a theme (I’ve been to all of those s*****s too)!–and thanks of course to the brilliant Elgar.

  6. A real struggle here and towards the end I found myself just bunging in answers (futile, I know) before I eventually admitted defeat, and the theme is beyond me
    Only consolation is that I know I would never have got those I didn’t, if you see what I mean – probably could have found another answer or two with electronic help but for me that’s not solving a puzzle
    Another one up for Elgar to whom I doff my cap and well done Dutch for sorting it all out

  7. Not too bad for Elgar and this time I managed to spot most of the theme and more or less parse the clues. But I’m a bit sceptical about 12a, the logic of which refers to a supply of A*****s, rather than just the thing in the singular. And does the definition of 20d refer to Bertrand [who was a moderately well known old chap] or am I missing something? It’s a bit of a gimme and fits the theme but otherwise???

    Thanks to Elgar and to Dutch for explaining it all. Except – what’s the link to 149? Not another bus route please!

        1. Yes, 16 and 25 are squares too. But for the benefit of me and my colleague Mr Clark can you spell out the 149 thing?

          1. 1squared=1;2squared=4;3squared=9 (1 4 9) 16 25

            1 4 9 are 3 single-digit squares

            1. And don’t beat yourself up if you missed that, yours-bozo-truly here tried to figure out if maybe 149 itself was a square – then i kinda remembered 144 and 169, oh yeah, so maybe not 149 then

            2. Yep! I just twigged and hoped I might get to the blog in time to beat your response!. Thanks for your patience!

    1. For 12a, I read Fundamental as a reference to the single item.
      For 20d, “old” is part of the wordplay, of course, with its extremists deserted to give the last L. I imagined in the definition “chap” was just asking for a man’s name, in the same way “girl” often asks for a woman’s name.

  8. Yet another of those ‘marvel at Dutch’ days. I don’t know how you manage it week after week but it makes for very enjoyable reading, thank you.

  9. I found this verv tough, still trying to get to grips with toughies, with electronic help and hints i finished it, always like to see how the word play works.

    Stay safe everyone

  10. A brilliant puzzle but way beyond my capabilities. My only saving grace was getting 3d immediately. I did get about another half dozen under my own steam but used the hints for the rest just to see if I could work out the parsing.

    Many thanks to Elgar and Dutch.

  11. Another Elgar and the usual long afternoon battle-I think that the last Elgar I tackled was a ***** too.
    There’s always a sense of satisfaction if and when the puzzle is completed.
    Obviously this is as tough as they get and the clues should be difficult-usually there is a latin phrase to keep us on our toes !
    I thought that a few clues were over complicated like 1and 13a-maybe I missed something with 13a.
    There were many gems like 21a and 5d and a **** for enjoyment.
    I look forward to the next engagement ,plenty of lockdown time to come if Boris persists with his overcautious strategy.
    Thanks to Elgar and Dutch for the entertainment.

  12. Having read the comments above, I’m chuffed to have got about 3/4 in without assistance. Dutch, your explanations were indispensable for the rest, thanks, and I have to admit to revealing the answers to 1 & 12, even after your erudite comments. A helluva workout, definitely in 5*/4.5* territory for me. Elgar, you are a sw!ne, but a very clever one.

  13. Got about 3/4ths done before grinding to a halt, with most of the NE empty. At this point I had guesses for 1a, 4a, 9d, 13a, and 16a which were all correct but mostly unparsed. So when I solved 6d they all slotted nicely into place. The theme helped a bit, especially with 1a, 4a, and 9d, having spent ages thinking about the significance of 149. I don’t think I’ve ever finished and fully parsed an Elgar before, and this time I failed on 13a. Looking forward to 150 already.

  14. My 149th failure at solving an Elgar Friday Toughie … but today I actually solved the easy ones.

    Thanks to Dutch for explaining all the rest.

  15. As always with JH its both tough and entertaining. I feel like he wants us to get it but we have to work a bit which makes it all the more rewarding.Is there a 25/23in London I wonder?Must check I couldnt parse 13 so thanks all.

    1. You’ve modified your alias so your comment needed moderation. All three aliases should work from now on.

    2. There does seem to be a teeny weeny little street called 25/23 in London, so the reference is no doubt the world-famous square in New York

  16. Well that certainly didn’t disappoint! Thank you so much Elgar and Dutch.

    Among so much cleverness, I was particularly impressed by 7d’s two types of themed entries and 9d’s reverse station.

    Though as the theme became apparent, I was hoping that that one of the answers would give a chance to feature some Kirsty MacColl.

  17. Today’s paper has just arrived so time to draw a line under this one at just over 3/4 complete. I am indebted to Dutch and a big thanks to Elgar.

  18. Threw in a few answers which were correct, but met my match here. Can’t even guess the theme unless it’s cricket! Liked 3d the most.

  19. So much here that didn’t work for me. I’ve managed the last few Elgar’s and felt suitably smug, but this was too much. I could barely work it out from the hints, and in some cases, had to read the answers plus hints and clues. Too many words in the clues for me. No pleasure in this one, sorry.

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