Toughie 2489 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 2489

Toughie No 2489 by Elgar

Hints and tips by Dutch

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

This is Elgar’s 155th Telegraph Toughie, and as usual this number is used in a theme. I did stare at a blank grid for a while. I eventually started off with the little square in the middle, which led to 20a/5d and 19a/22d. Then it was one slow quadrant at a time, with some head-scratching needed at the end to parse the likes of 31a, 8d and 14d. The theme helped, once you realise what is going on with all the 9-letter words (and a few more). Another very impressive grid fill

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 CLV buttons. Please leave a comment telling us what you thought


1a    WE or EP claim what’s due? (3,6)
CRY HALVES: As a cryptic instruction, the answer could indicate the parts of a word WE or EP

9a    Who let this ailurophile loose? (3,3)
THE OWL: An anagram (loose) of the answer gives WHO LET

10a Enjoying luxury, it seems, reclining couple begin sunscreening? (5,4)
CLOUD OVER: A reversal of a 3-letter couple or pair goes inside a 6-letter word: ‘enjoying luxury, it seems’ cryptically suggests “IN ******”

11a    Pope‘s blessed ashes initially located fittingly by door of vestry (5,1)
URBAN V: The initial letters of ‘blessed ashes’ are appropriately inside a 3-letter vessel, plus the first letter (door) of vestry

12a    Show cunning Bishop round by Chapter Bar (3,6)
BOX CLEVER: The abbreviation for Bishop, the letter that looks like a round, the letter used to indicate by (as in multiplied by), the abbreviation for Chapter and a 5-letter bar

13a    Bone’s not a strange place in which to find doodlebug (6)
PELVIC: The ‘S in the definition can be read as a possessive, i.e., ‘of a bone’. Omitting the A (not a), an anagram (strange) of PL(a)CE contains a 2-character WWII flying bomb called a doodlebug (see Chambers)

17a    Letter and word game – endless twists (3)
PSI: A children’s word game (1-3) without the last letter (endless) and reversed (twists)

19a/22d With the arts, sort to utter usual clever truth? (7,7)
CULTURE VULTURE: Together with THE ARTS, the answer can be anagrammatised to (sort to) UTTER USUAL CLEVER TRUTH

20a/5d They may help US companies going bust shelve a per cent (7,7)
CHAPTER ELEVENS: An extended definition! An anagram (going bust) of SHELVE A PER CENT

21a    Welcome side-splitting 1960s court favourite (3)
AVE: Remove the abbreviations of the two sides Left and Right (sidesplitting) from the corresponding two sides of the name of a 1960s Australian tennis legend

23a    Nothing in indirect tax collected, causing serious amusement? (6)
LEVITY: A 4-letter word for tax goes around (collected) I(ndirec)T with the internal letters removed (nothing in)

27a    To go short in pounds results from division (9)
CLEAVAGES: A 5-letter verb meaning to go, without its last letter (short), goes inside a 5-letter word meaning pounds or enclosures. I’ll resist the illustration

28a    What’s Pavlov’s number two collected in assorted vials? (6)
SALIVA: The second letter in Pavlov goes inside (collected by) an anagram (assorted) of VIALS

29a    Leaving last ones floundering, evacuate old vessel (9)
AUTOCLAVE: Without the last letters (leaving last ones), and anagram (floundering) of EVACUAT(e) OL(d)

30a    Thatcher’s return embodies very empty folly (6)
VANITY: A reversal (return) of a nickname for Thatcher that was an acronym of the slogan ‘There Is No Alternative’ goes inside (embodies, as in to form part of the body) of V(er)Y without the inner letters (empty)

31a    Oh, well said, for one that is to rear of office (4,2,3)
C’EST LA VIE: A homophone (said) of a 3-letter word meaning for one, or for instance (though the diphthong would give away an English accent), then the abbreviation for ‘that is’ follows (to rear of) a little room euphemistically referred to as “office”



2d    Come quickly with rotating balls (4-2)
ROLL-ON: Two meanings, the second referring to deodorant, perhaps


3d    Feeling around a fleshy bit (6)
HAUNCH: A 5-letter feeling goes around A from the clue

4d    Dishonest winner of hide-and-seek knockout! (6)
LOOKER: Description of some-one cheating while counting during hide-and-seek

5d see 20a

6d    French commune hall carved not entirely with intricacy (9)
CHARLEVAL: An anagram (with intricacy) of HALL CARVE(d) without the last letter (not entirely)

7d    Clubs around which a lot love merrymaking – they won’t want this enforced! (5,4)
LOCAL VETO: The abbreviation for clubs around which we have an anagram (merrymaking) of A LOT LOVE

8d    Sex that’s jaw-dropping in family of ladybirds (9)
CLAVICORN: The Latin sex in Roman numerals plus a 3-letter exclamation that means ‘that’s jaw-dropping’ all inside a 4-letter family or tribe

14d    Of a mind to stop these items being read aloud in funny voice (9)
OCCLUSIVE: A homophone (being read aloud) of ‘these items’, as in numbered elements of this puzzle, goes inside (in) an anagram (funny) of VOICE

15d    President‘s plain sweets that have reduced wrapping (9)
CLEVELAND: A 5-letter word meaning plain (definition 2 in Chambers) has as wrapping (i.e., is surrounded by) a word meaning sweets without the last letter (… that have reduced)

16d    Victual supply not the heart of the farm (9)
CULTIVATE: An anagram (supply) of VICTUAL, then the last THE from the clue without the middle letter (not the heart of … )

17d    Talk without limits, like one in a pod? (3)
PEA: A 5-letter verb meaning talk without the outer letters (without limits)

18d    Reserve atomic energy stores (3)
ICE: Hidden (… stores)

22d see 19a

24d    One dish cloth ready for use … (6)
RAGOUT: Split (3,3), the answer suggests a cloth that is ready for use

25d    … here’s another tea towel … last bits bound to turn up (6)
PAELLA: The definition refers to the definition in the previous clue. A reversal (to turn up) of the final letters (last bits) of tea towel and a word meaning bound

26d    Turning over cases primarily national and international (6)
RENVOI: A reversal (turning) of OVER from the clue contains (cases) the first letter (primarily) of national, then the abbreviation for international

My favourite clue today was 19a/22d – how clever is that? Which clues did you like?


45 comments on “Toughie 2489

  1. Even by Elgar’s standards, this was a really tough Toughie. It was only when I spotted the relevant Roman numerals in a couple of solutions and then used them to find words that matched the clues in others that I really got going, but it took me a very long time, with a break in the middle for a bit of housework to give the brain time for ‘cogitation’. I’ve written on my piece of paper “beastly” and “cornery” as it really was one of those crosswords to be solved one corner at a time.

    My favourite clue was to be 9a (Elgar should know why) and so thank you to him and to Dutch

  2. As if Elgar weren’t tricky enough already today he’s given us four separate puzzles connected in a minimalist way.
    I filled in the centre square first then tackled the four puzzles in the order NE, SW, SE and NW. Progress, especially when I got to the NW, was very slow and involved an amount of cursing.
    I notice that two of the clues from the online puzzle (1a and 12a) are different to the ones Dutch gives (I assume the latter come from the print edition – in both cases they seem somewhat easier than the online versions).
    My top clues are 12a (the online version), 28a, 31a and 8d.
    Thanks to Elgar for another mind-stretching exercise and to Dutch for the elegant explanations.

    1. It wouldn’t have taken me so long to sort out the NW corner if 1a had been as Dutch has it. The online version is almost incomprehensible which is, I presume, why it was changed

      1. Indeed. I took the online 1a clue to be a cryptic definition meaning ‘seek an equitable split’.

  3. The usual ‘not a snowball’s chance’ for me but I always enjoy going through the blog to find out how the experts will have worked through it.
    Well done again, Dutch, and congratulations to everyone who manages to decipher this one.

  4. Quite beyond me though I did note the prevalence of the letter v. I thought 6 d was unfair as it is a sub division of another commune so not included in the online list.
    What with Nissen Huts in the back pager with Bill and Ben and doodlebugs in this with Rod Laver todays DT crosswords have been a real trip down Memory Lane!

  5. Like others we completed this in quadrants – SW, NE, SE and finally NW – 1 was the final hurdle with the online version of the clue: ‘Requisition just cut’. It didn’t help that for 3 we had ‘paunch’ – just as fleshy as the actual answer. Not sure how the online version of 1 is parsed. 12 was also different in the online version. We knew there would be a theme and spotted the repeating letter … ? Some not very nice surfaces e.g. 12, 13 and some obscure definitions. Not keen on themes where the theme seems to take over, although appreciate that it is clever of the setter and his USP. Afraid it wasn’t our cup of tea today … too much guesswork and reverse engineering required! Liked 4. It took coffee, lunch and tea to get this done – 4* / 1*

  6. Do you think the “phrase” in the centre square was intended as a hint – “P.S. I see a V” or am I just going mad? Either way, I think it’s time for a glass of something – it is Friday after all.

    Brilliant, mind boggling, do-able in parts (starting from the centre) until I gave up with about 7 to go which I had to check here. Thanks Dutch for your usual brilliant skill.

    1. I missed that, but I think you are right. Given that for quite a while I only had that bit in the middle, I should have spotted it

  7. Blimey, *****/***** it’s no wonder I don’t do the toughie. I wouldn’t be able to solve one clue of this. Congrats to those who do, I’m all admiration.

  8. As my first inkling about v was the doodlebug, I must admit I was looking for V1 in th clues not just v. Where does 155 (CLV). come in?

      1. Oh yes, I realise that! I remember my Roman numerals, but which clues related to it? Pelvic for instance? I solved that while pursuing my doodle bug (V 1) theory. I still remember them!

        Any rain in the water buts yet?

  9. A very toughie crossword excuse the pun already mentioned but the 1 across was different and the anagram for the parsing of 19 across & 22 down is missing a U, but then again it could be a probably is me, could someone explain this to me please. Thank you to Elgar and Dutch
    for what they do. Have a nice weekend everyone

    1. I’ve just noticed that the 19/22 clue as shown by Dutch is different from the online puzzle. In the online puzzle it has ‘usual’ instead of ‘casual’ which gives you the 4 “U”s needed for the answer. So it looks as though there is an error in the paper version of the clue.

          1. Oh dear – I knew who I meant, that’s what trying to fathom an Elgar puzzle does to me……….

      1. Thank you Gazza there was a difference in 1 across on line as well but it was enjoyable to the parsing of the Toughie as always.

  10. Got the 4 wee ones in the centre & then gave up but returned to it later in the afternoon & managed a further 7 with the help of Mr G as confirmation. Even with Dutch’s excellent hints I was still 3 shy of completion.
    Hats off to those with the skill to cope with this examination paper.
    Thanks Elgar (I think) & Dutch

  11. I managed the small central clues and five others before crying Uncle! I now stand in awe of those who finished this work of sheer brilliance, not to mention the genius who set it. Thanks to Dutch and Elgar. No need for me to rate it 5/5 but I will anyway. More like 10/10. (What, by the way, is ‘Box Clever’? Rather, what does it mean? Google doesn’t help much.)

      1. I see. Google has a number of entries with capital B and C, so I thought the reference might have been to that organisation. Is ‘box clever’ a common phrase, and if so, I certainly have missed that one. Thanks, CS.

        1. Good old Brewer’s Dictionary of Phrase and Fable comes to our rescue again. Well worth investing in a copy as it’s full of fascinating information

  12. I’m a fan of Mr Henderson’s puzzles but his consistent use of C L and V made for some very tricky solutions that evaded most word searches and anagrind scramblers.
    That said, i should have spotted the prevalence of those numerals but it was so hard to even get started
    Thanks Dutch and to JH for a Bayern Barca type trouncing

  13. Normally, I’m up for an Elgar struggle even if I have to resort to the hints quite early on. But after cracking 3 of the middle three-letter clues, I just could not get going, even with Dutch’s help. The differing clues between paper and online didn’t help. Maybe it’s the hot weather but a maximum half-star for enjoyment this time. See you next Friday…

  14. Toughie 2849. Two of us did this – one of us does the Times every day and we could not believe a crossword could be so hard and obtuse. The most obscure crossword my friend has ever. Come across. Not much fun really!

    1. Agreed. I’ve done almost every Toughie since the series began, (and also do The Times every day) and I think this was the most obscure I can remember.

  15. I was beaten by the bottom right crossword, but was happy to manage the other three (apart from 8d). The theme totally passed me by.

  16. Hardest one I’ve done for a while. Struggled to complete less than half of it. Well done to those who can! I did notice the Vs though.

  17. Just like everyone else I found it very tough. Early on i saw that CLV was likely to appear but in itself that was not a great deal of help. i guess that i completed 2/3 of the clues. Some answers i would not have got in a month of Sundays. My favourites were 8 and 12a.
    Thanks to Elgar for exercising the brain and to Dutch for preoviding relief.

  18. All done and all parsed, apart from not pronouncing C’EST and SAY the same way, but it took me 4 separate sittings to do a quarter at a time.
    I think I’d have got on a little better if I’d spotted the theme while I was solving the puzzle. I only spotted it after I’d finished it.
    Looking forward to CLVI already.

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