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Toughie 2465

Toughie No 2465 by Elgar

Hints and tips by Dutch

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


This is Elgar’s 152nd Telegraph Toughie. There is a theme which is apparent in the cross-referenced clues, and very fittingly we have a pangram! You may notice an apparent reference to a crossword blogging site (almost as famous as this one) which explains the relevance to the number 152, albeit in a different context. For too short a while, I was proudly excited to have linked the number to the maximum single-word score, which you could attain by the appropriate placement of Zythums, Zincify or Zephyrs – but Elgar told me that is merely serendipitous

I completed the grid a little quicker than usual (not saying much!), but I needed Elgar’s help to parse 20a, so this remains firmly at 5* difficulty. As always, I am in awe of the grid fill and impressed that Elgar has added a pangram on top of this

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


7a    First to examine question of concern about King or Queen? (7)
EQUERRY: The first letter to examine, then a 5-letter question of concern goes about the Latin abbreviation for King (or Queen)

8a    RU team‘s wages finally withdrawn, papers being collected (7)
FIFTEEN: A 3-letter price paid for services or wages plus the last letter (finally) of withdrawn contains (being collected) two newspapers

10a    Prove what N, E, or S would normally do in 16 – but not W, oddly (4,1,5)
MAKE A POINT: 16 refers to the thematic grid entry in 16d. What you can do there with the letters N, E, or S, but not W.

11a    What’s needed for 16 19s – a stretcher! (4)
RACK: A holder for 16 19s

12a    Good judge of taste? This chap’s broken new tea set! (8)
AESTHETE: A 3rd person pronoun for this chap is inserted into (‘s broken) an anagram (new) of TEA SET

14a    Girl’s group debut song – a hit, not a failure (2,2,2)
NO NO NO: A 2-letter word meaning ‘not a’ and a (2-2) word meaning failure. And here we have Elgar’s example of a 3d 22a

15a    In our bag you’ll find small spar (5,6)
CROSS SWORDS: In our (i.e., setter and solvers) 10-letter particular interest or bag, you’ll find the abbreviation for small. And here we have a 3d 19a

19a    I say, landord’s one who must make allowances (6)
LETTER: Triple definition. The first can be read as “I, for example”. And an example of a 21d 19a – there are others, including 16d itself!

20a    Not impressed by turns, A.N. Other opened shows on tour (8)
UNDINTED: Alternate letters (by turns) of A.N.Other that is surrounded (shows on tour) by a 5-letter word meaning opened (UNDID)

22a    Promise a choice between seven days and one? (4)
WORD: A choice between the abbreviation for seven days and the abbreviation for one can be expressed as (1,2,1)

23a     Tackle Drambuie shot, inhaling essence of herbs – grand! (7,3)
BERMUDA RIG: An anagram (shot) of DRAMBUIE contains (inhaling) the central letter (essence) of herbs and the abbreviation for grand

25a    I forgot to mention a clue teasingly written about seed-case (7)
CAPSULE: The abbreviation at the bottom of a letter that means “I forgot to mention:” has written about it an anagram (teasingly) of A CLUE

26a    Stuck here? Puzzled, I’ll give up and let go (7)
GLUEPOT: An anagram (puzzled) of the answer (I) will give UP + LET GO


1d    Did suit check, even by itself? (7)
SQUARED: Quadruple definition: the last one as in (multiplied) by itself

2d    Priority for egoist suffering from dual personality that goes viral (4)
MEME: A pronoun that represents the priority for an egoist, repeated for each personality. And here we have an example of a 21d 22a

3d     Act unrestrainedly on cycle three times (6)
TRIPLE: Take a (3,3) slang phrase meaning act unrestrainedly, then cycle the first two letters around to the back

4d    Games giant‘s no plan to enter (8)
NINTENDO:     NO from the clue has a 6-letter word meaning to plan inside it ( … to enter)

5d    ‘Please do not power up’ – checking date, it’s an old, old flyer (10)
PTERANODON: A reversal (up) of a (2, 3’1) phrase meaning ‘please do not’, as a hesitant date might say, plus the abbreviation for power, containing (checking) a 3-letter word for a date or time period

6d    Remove perfume from line? (7)
DESCENT: Split (2-5), we have a whimsical expression for ‘remove perfume from’

9d    Scene of iconic kiss (x) – make that ‘xx’? (5,6)
TIMES SQUARE: If x is an arithmetic symbol, what New York landmark do you get when you multiply it by itself as in ‘xx’?

13d    In confidence university stores don’t supply powder (4,2,4)
TURN TO DUST: In a 5-letter word meaning confidence or faith we have the abbreviation for university, and this then contains (stores) an anagram (supply) of DON’T

16d    The dimensions of its playing surface 8 and 1 put together from scratch (8)
SCRABBLE: A game with a playing surface of a size described by 8a & 1d literally means scratch

17d    Sorry eggs John regularly takes Lord (7)
JEHOVAH: A 2-letter exclamation meaning sorry? or pardon? plus a 3-letter word for eggs is contained in ( … takes) the even (regular) letters of John

18d    Law #1: study vocabulary (7)
LEXICON: The Latin word for law, the letter that looks like a 1, and a word meaning study

21d    Within reach, but ultimately you’ll have to oust a big shot (6)
DOUBLE: A -letter word meaning within reach, in which the last (ultimately) letter of you will have to oust A from the clue

24d    A crossword great, I – wonderstruck – am blown away! (4)
AZED: A 6-letter word meaning wonderstruck has its first 2 letters AM from the clue removed (blown away)

I enjoyed 10a with the compass point mislead, and searching for 14a had led me through a brave new world of Korean pop which was interesting but of no use. I thought the simple 3d was brilliant. My favourite of course is 24d. Which clues did you like?

32 comments on “Toughie 2465

  1. I do like ‘having breakfast with Elgar’ once a fortnight and I thought this proper Toughie was very enjoyable, even though my cup of tea did go cold while I was working out a couple of bits of tricky parsing.

    Lovely theme which surely even an Elgar-theme-non-noticer couldn’t fail to spot. Too many lovely clues to select one favourite

    Thanks to Elgar and Dutch

    1. Well, thanks! This Elgar-theme-non-noticer (today, anyway) did indeed fail to spot it. We are not all as brilliant, crypticsue.

      1. I haven’t played 16d for many a long year but I did notice the links to the board game in several of the solutions

        1. Sorry for my earlier tone, but my feelings were hurt…briefly. Haven’t played the game for over 30 years, I guess, and just wasn’t close to thinking 8 1. Even had I been able to answer 8 and then done the math, I would still have sat here for another 82 years. You assumed too much earlier, though, when you said ‘surely’!

          1. I am actually quite famous for not noticing themes and Ninas. Radler once set an NTSPP with a Nina round the outside saying ‘will Sue notice the Nina?’. :D

    2. Too obscure for me and yet another Elgar disincentive to those of us trying to graduate from back page to Toughie.

  2. I know I am stepping on toes but is everyone delighted to see Elgar? Personally, after a great many tries, I still find him incomprehensible and feel sympathy with the blogger who, some time ago, asked if we could, on Elgar days, have an extra, slightly simpler puzzle, for the non devotees. I suppose, really, that that means we just stick to the back page that today, to add to the confusion, is on the inside!

  3. I thought that this was more Elgar-like in terms of difficulty than his most recent puzzle and I struggled in my final bit (the SE corner) and revealed one 19a to finish.

    I had problems parsing 5d as I was trying to use one of the ‘olds’ as an O in the wordplay and I still don’t understand why there are two olds.

    8a is very apposite since the top professional Rugby Union players in England are currently being asked/forced to take a pay cut because of the virus.

    My top clues were 19a, 3d and 9d.

    Thanks to Elgar and to Dutch for his usual comprehensive review.

    1. I thought the flyer was more old than most so the double ‘old’ was there to indicate its ancientness

  4. I came close, but having failed to notice the THEME, those crucial tie-in squares left me with 7 unsolved clues, four of which I should have answered. I don’t think it’s an intellectual failure not to have noticed the theme’s obviousness, by the way, and crypticsue is assuming too much where my 82-yr-old brain is concerned. She and Elgar are indeed brilliant, and I salute them. Thanks to Dutch and Elgar.***** / *****

  5. Breakfast? Oh my, but my excuse trying to solve whilst getting my head around NHS X and digital guidance. Joined up ?????. I had a long lunch . Cheers Elgar and Dutch , got there eventually

    1. There are very few benefits to retirement in a pandemic but having time for a socially distanced breakfast with Elgar is, for me anyway, a big treat

  6. Not being a fan of 16, nor a devotee of 4, and finally not that interested in rugby, I was off to a loser from the start! Really struggled but with a shockingly vast amount of Dutch assistance, got there in the end. Only cracked 24, (not familiar with the gent), because of the pangram. So 5* difficulty but don’t want to insult Elgar with a pleasure score (my fault entirely). Thanks both.

  7. I found this to be a hard puzzle hence the name toughie but when I read the blog a appreciated it a lot more, I completed it with help but seeing the parsing made like even more.

  8. This was a MOST unsatisfactory crossword. I thought the clues and answers were far too ridiculous. If this is now the standard, I won’t bother

  9. So far I’m only slightly over a third of the way in. My three different attempts at 12a have made a bit of a mess of the grid but I’m at least happy to cross that one off. I’m avoiding the hints because perhaps foolishly I still consider this to be work in progress. Hats off to Elgar for the quantum leap in difficulty. Thanks & admiration to Dutch, in advance of when I concede.

    1. Finally resorted to hints for 26a and 24d despite being on pangram alert. Kicking myself on 26 but would have needed google to identify 24 as not familiar.

  10. Well. I managed to catch up and solve the three consecutive toughies laying in my in box.
    Wednesday and Thursday didn’t put up much of a fight and was in the right mood to tackle our master.
    Not as tricky as some of his previous offerings but hugely enjoyable.
    Thanks to Elgar and to Dutch for the review.

  11. Back to the nearly but no cigar for me. Couldn’t parse 14a (guessed NA NA NA) and 20a (guessed UNDENTED).
    Spotted the theme pretty quickly which helped a bit.

  12. Thanks, Dutch I really needed your help today. Although that was beyond my meagre solving abilities I wouldn’t want Elgar or the DT to dilute any puzzles. Although Elgar is always going to stretch my brain I won’t get better unless I keep trying.
    Thanks to Dutch for pointing the way on Wayyyy too many clues today and thanks to Elgar for the lesson.

  13. Got there with a lot of help but still can’t find how D means one in 22ac

    1. yes, as explained by CS – sorry if that was not clear in the blog, I’ve changed it now

  14. I thought this was perfectly pitched. Not so inaccessible as to be impossible (which I think the previous Elgar was), but really challenging. I got three quarters of it in unaided, after a few missteps, but needed the hints for the SE quarter. Thanks to the setter and blogger. And for once I spotted the theme and worked out how it related to 152…

  15. Ouch! My head hurts – I found that an amazingly difficult exercise. I empathise with Zac Naclair. Still, a good exercise nonetheless. Thank you, Dutch, for the invaluable assistance!

  16. An anti-crossword, I’m afraid. Far too many think of a word that fits what might be a definition then scramble to make it fit the rest of the clue. Even spotting the “theme” (given it applies only to random clues) is more of a distraction than a help. Managed all but three, which makes me feel less useless than usual for an Elgar. Can’t say I enjoyed this, but that is all too typical: Elgar is my least favourite setter by a distance.

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