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Toughie 2481

Toughie No 2481 by Elgar

Hints and tips by Dutch

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

This is Elgar’s 154th Telegraph Toughie. I don’t know if you’ll agree, but I found it a little easier than most. I found a Nina that agreed with basic geography, and was hoping to find a 154-mile connecting canal, but no such luck. Then I got distracted, except that I didn’t know I was distracted. A certain gentleman in the grid was born 154 years ago. Clues 15&4 were just the kind of thing I’d enjoy at the Hotel de Ville. Back to geography, I did look for the Scottish ‘central belt’, but did not see one – but there is one, you just need to look very carefully at vertical bits in the central 3 rows. Can I be any clearer? You still won’t see it.

The definitions are underlined in the clues below. The hints are intended to guide you through the wordplay, but you can always reveal the answers by clicking on the Antonine Wall, completed 154 AD buttons. Please leave a comment telling us what you thought.


1a see 23a

4a    Consumption: a single steak (1-4)
T-BONE: The abbreviation for the disease known as consumption plus a word meaning ‘a single’

10a    Twist-in-the-tail Masefield work describing love bird (8)
CARGOOSE: The title of a poem by Masefield in which the last two letters have been swapped (Twist-in-the-tail) goes around (describing) the letter that looks like a score of love in tennis

11a/19d What will excite roadshow fan – I’m no promise-breaker (1,3,2,3,4)
A MAN OF HIS WORD: An anagram (what will excite) of ROADSHOW FAN I’M

12a    Not much left and right to turn heads (6)
LITTLE: The abbreviation for left, and a right or claim in which the first two letters are swapped (to turn heads)

13a    Liquor drained with a cutting parting shot (8)
GALLIANO: A (3,2) phrase meaning drained or exhausted has A from the clue inserted (cutting), then is inserted (parting) into a 2-letter word meaning shot or attempt

14a    Irony etc. overturning outside a harbour (7)
SEAPORT: A reversal (overturning) of a word for figures of speech such as irony, metaphor, etc. goes around (outside) the letter A from the clue

16a    Having more excellence uncovered three times in the academic year? (6)
NEATER: Three times in the academic year could amount to a frequency of (3,1,4). With the outer letters removed (uncovered) you get the answer, for which Chambers describes this 8th meaning as chiefly American

17a    ‘To the West, no thanks’ – independent Chinese 14 (6)
YANTAI: A reversal (to the west) of a word meaning no, sometimes used when voting, a short word meaning thanks, and the abbreviation for independent

19a    Audible relief on return, clearly preferred to one writer (1,1,5)
H G WELLS: A reversal (on return) of a 4-letter word for an audible relief, in which the letter that looks like a one is replaced by (preferred to) a word meaning clearly or skilfully (as in **** spoken)

21a    Has other ideas involving dessert wines new ewer decanted (8)
DISSENTS: An anagram (involving) of DESSERT WINES from which an anagram (new) of EWER has been removed (decanted)

22a    Doubly striking ensemble (6)
OUTFIT: Two 3-letter words that each mean striking

23a/1a    Euphoria at opening Mr Kipling product, tucking into very good cakes and turnovers? (6,5)
ESKIMO ROLLS: The first letter (at opening) of Euphoria, then the name of a novel by Mr Kipling is inserted into (tucking into) a word that can mean very good (Chambers definition 19), plus another word for cakes

24a    Is not half overwhelmed by upset we ought to overcome (8)
OUTWEIGH: The first half of Is from the clue is contained in (overwhelmed by) an anagram (upset) of WE OUGHT

25a    Pottery school in the Home Counties (5)
SPODE: A school (of whales) goes inside (in) the geographical area of England known as the Home Counties



26a    Position of Goya’s anagram (5)
ASANA: Hidden (of …)


2d    These glands are female, all the same? (7)
OVARIES: Split (1,6), the answer suggests all are the same

3d    Something that is tripped switches characteristic of laser shows? (5,9)
LIGHT FANTASTIC: A characteristic of laser shows with the word order swapped (switches)

5d    The ever-expanding Carlsberg Corporation? (4,3)
BEER GUT: Cryptic definition with a play on corporation

6d    Previously underemployed in year, sly one viewed topless women (6-3)
NEARLY-NEW: Remove the first letters (viewed topless) from ‘in year sly one’, plus the abbreviation for women

7d/22d    Flirt with Bill’s partner – not me, sad to admit (4,2,2)
COME ON TO: Take Bill’s partner, in the expression ‘bill and ***’ and insert (to admit) an anagram (sad) of NOT ME

8d    Case of correspondence between London and Washington? (7,7)
CAPITAL LETTERS: How you might describe mail between such cities

9d    Heavyweight mixing it a bit with 12 urbanite? (6)
TOWNEE: A heavy unit of weight and a dialect word for 12a are interlocked by one letter (mixing it a bit)

15d    Starter against working under one well versed (5,4)
ONION SOUP: A preposition that can mean against, then the same word as an adverb meaning working goes under (in a down clue) the Roman numeral for one, followed by a (2,2) phrase that could mean well versed

18d    Surrounded by auxiliaries, spy chief’s kept time (6)
AMIDST: A 4-letter word for auxiliaries or helpers in which Fleming’s spy chief is contained (kept), plus the abbreviation for time

19d see 11a

20d    Just a 12 fly trapped in tin (7)
SMIDGEN: A fly goes inside (is trapped in) the chemical symbol for tin

22d see 7d

My favourite today was the lovely 7d/22d, “Flirt with Bill’s partner – not me, sad to admit“, brilliant. Which clues did you like?

21 comments on “Toughie 2481

  1. Although still a proper 5* Toughie, I agree that Elgar was being a little kinder to us this time. Some excellent sneakiness – Mr Kipling product and Bill’s partner – my favourites being 23a and 3d. I did find out about 154 and 19a and that’ll be enough of a theme for me. I’m not sure about an earworm, but I’m stuck with a Masefield poem-worm after working out how to find a new bird in 10a

    Thanks to Elgar once again for my breakfast time treat and to Dutch for the blog

  2. Super crossword as one would expect from Elgar.
    Learned a few things along the way.
    When checking 23/1, I also discovered that in French the word is esquimautage.
    Noticed the Forth and the Clyde which gave me the opening letter of the Chinese port. That helped.
    Thanks to our master and to Dutch.

  3. This wasn’t my favourite Elgar puzzle – I got fed up with looking up various words including ports in China and yoga postures amongst others. For me it suffered in comparison with proXimal’s brilliant Toughie yesterday.

    Having said that I liked several clues – 16a, 3d and 7/22d for example.

    Thanks to Elgar and to Dutch for the blog (I’ve no idea what the first paragraph is all about and if it’s to do with Elgar’s confounded ‘puzzle number’ I’m not interested).

  4. We don’t usually stand a chance of commenting on an Elgar because it takes days to nibble away to completion. We do the digital print-off with no setter credited and we couldn’t believe it was Elgar today – until the blog appeared – it seemed too easy and collapsed fairly fast. Didn’t spot a theme or nina! Plenty of phrases made it easier to solve. Not fans of clues like 10a – i.e. one obscure thing referring to another obscure thing! 13a made us feel nostalgic for a certain cocktail we drank as students at the Greaves Hotel, Lancaster!

  5. Full of admiration for Juliet and Alan who completed today’s puzzle. I got about half done. I have always promised myself that if I were stranded on a desert island and would not be rescued until I had completed the grid, with a bit of electronic help I think I could. Albeit a week later! I don’t see Ninas but with Jean-Luc’s help I can see them today I have no idea what to look for in the middle three vertical rows? For Ninalexics such as myself I think a covered reveal would be a good idea?
    Thanks to Elgar and Dutch

    1. It didn’t help me an awful lot but click on the click here thingy in the second para of Dutch’s prologue

      1. Well yes that’s cleared it up! None the wiser but something to research. Thanks CS

  6. Worked through a few but gave up after realising Bill’s partner wasn’t Ben. All a bit beyond me
    Thanks Elgar & Dutch

  7. Just not “So Up” to Elgar. Agree with Dutch that this Elgar was slightly easier due to several nice clean surfaces with straightforward answers like: 4 and 25 A and 2, 3 and 8D. Still got six to finish but I question that this deserves 5 stars for enjoyment. Some humour/enjoyment may be lost in translation but I found 13A, 23A and 15D just too much jiggery-pokery for my taste. Only a Wednesday and Friday solver and so always spoiled by Jay for great surfaces.

  8. I got precisely half the answers without help. For a Friday, that leaves me well chuffed.

    Thanks to all.

  9. Well, if nothing else I’ve learnt a new birding word today!
    I wonder whether Elgar is going to keep up this recording of every puzzle he submits to the DT ad infinitum?

    Many thanks, Dutch, I enjoyed working through your review as always – reckon you’ve earned your Friday pint again!

  10. Well! All in a day’s work, though I retired ages ago. Thanks to Dutch for hinting me in the right direction for 22a & 2&8d, otherwise I’d never have finished. Got there in the end, still Nina-less as far as that goes – I can see the rivers and now I know when the wall linking them was constructed, is that it? As for “vertical bits in the central 3 rows”, nah, sorry, ya lost me. (Edit: just seen it!) However – final thanks to Elgar, inscrutably unscrammbleable as ever.

  11. The best I have ever done with an Elgar! I also spotted the Clyde Forth, but what does it relate to? After expending my five letters, I managed to solve all but two clues, the Masefield poem and bird (I really should be ashamed that I missed the poem’s title) in 10a and the Chinese port in 17a. My first one in was 4a, followed by 3d, and I thought I was on a roll! But what a wealth of esoterica there is within the walls of this magical grid, and like Dutch, I think my favourite is 7d/22d. I am not embarrassed to admit that I spent three hours (off and on, with coffees and Il Trovatore streaming, in the interim) to get as far as I did. And so, Bravo! for me. Many thanks to Dutch and to Elgar. ***** / *****

  12. In the central 3 rows, You will find ANTONINE WALL in groups of 3 vertical letters in the “central belt” connecting CLYDE and FORTH (columns 1 and 15). This wall was completed in 154 AD

  13. Another Marmite moment! I have learnt to avoid Elgar and just read the hints and clues. I know my limitations.

  14. Disappointed to find others thought this was a bit gentler than usual, because I was congratulating myself on finishing it and spotting the nina. Having lived near the Forth all my life and having walked alongside part of the wall near the Falkirk Wheel, it makes a change to have some inside knowledge of the theme.
    Brilliant as always from Elgar. I don’t know how he composes these grids.

  15. No time for this yesterday for family reasons.
    Like Dutch and CS I found it easier than usual for Elgar and finished unaided with no idea of any theme. I did check for H G Wells’ birthday but it isn’t July 31st tho as Dutch tells us he would be nearly 154 yrs old. Rather lost interest after that.
    23/1 raised a smile once Mr Kipling was clear and 16a is very clever.
    Failed to parse 3d and rather underwhelmed by the answer.
    Thanks to Elgar and Dutch.

  16. very late this time due to my sporting interests gluing me to the television. I finished most of the puzzle but unfortunately had cabinet for capital so i could not make any sense for 16a. i am not well up on Masefield so whilst i could see it was some sort of goose this particular breed was outside my ken. despite these glitches it was a rare enjoyable Elgar. thank you. my favourites were 3d 15d and 17a. There was no hope in trying to parse 15d so thanks Dutch for your usual erudite explanation.

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