Toughie 2513 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 2513

Toughie No 2513 by Elgar

Hints and tips by Dutch

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

The Nina helped me identify the Labour Minister. It reminded me of a caption I saw recently for a soldier in camouflage fatigues wearing a hi-vis jacket. As an optional extra, 20a invites us to play a little game, with the Nina suggesting one example can already be seen in the answer here. Five others are not as easy to find!

Please leave a comment telling us what you thought.


7a    Daughter escapes seething cauldron that’s a Spanish city (2,6)
LA CORUNA: An anagram (seething) of CAU(d)RON from which the abbreviation for daughter is missing (escapes) plus (that has) A from the clue

9a    Motion formerly carried by marrying Scott and Janis? (6)
JOPLIN: Andrew Motion was a former Poet Laureate. The abbreviation for Poet Laureate goes inside a noun meaning ‘a marrying’

10a    Person having to suffer American playwright (1’5)
O’NEILL: A 3-letter word for person and a 3-letter word for ‘having to suffer’

11a    Facilitators of network’s current activity discuss ESP — any sense including it in review? (8)
SYNAPSES: Reverse hidden ( … including it in review?)

12a    Essentially get kid to order some drinks — and down nine? (4,3,3,4)
HAVE ONE TOO MANY: The central letter of get goes inside (… drinks) a (4,2) phrase meaning kid, TO from the clue, an Order of Merit, and a 3-letter word that can mean some. If you down nine, well, that would be ‘one over the eight’, wouldn’t it?

15a    Groom’s bunch of straw — or strap, when this? (4)
WISP: Straw becomes strap when the answer is split (1,2,1)

17a    Like some knickers, perhaps — though clearly not new! (5)
SATIN: This material when split (3,2) would suggest the knickers have been worn

19a    Odd bits of what you can have but not eat that I do not like! (4)
YUCK: The odd letters of a (4,4) answer to ‘what you can have but not eat’, often heard in relation to UK’s Brexit positioning

20a    More happening around Lent; thus shot game (4-3-7)
HUNT-THE-SLIPPER: An adjective meaning ‘more happening’ or trendier surrounds an anagram (shot) of LENT THUS

23a    Efficient ways to live in advanced years, after retirement (8)
BEELINES: A 2-letter verb meaning to live, then a reversal (after retirement) of an adjective meaning ‘in advanced years’

25a    Soldiery’s top-level threat (6)
MENACE: A 3-letter word meaning soldiers collectively, plus a word meaning top-level or outstanding

27a    Monkey occupying what must be reserved for clinger (6)
LIMPET: A monkey or mischievous person goes inside (occupying) a tennis obstruction that must be ‘re-served’

28a    Secure lab location: in this country, nothing’s lower (5,3)
GLOVE BOX: Inside (in) a 2-letter abbreviation for this country (excluding NI), we have a score of nothing in tennis, followed by a 2-letter bovine ‘lower’


1d    Former Labour Minister freed from Civil Service shackles? (4)
HAIN: Some 6-letter shackles are freed from the abbreviation for Civil Service

2d    Is kidnapped by second of two to bring about charge (6)
IONISE: IS from the clue is contained within (kidnapped by) the second one of one (Roman numeral) plus ‘ONE’ (1+1=2)

3d    Pulse down, at the outset too short (4)
DALS: The first letter (at the outset) of down, then another word for ‘too’ without the last letter (short)

4d    Hero of Western music man embarks on an affair (6)
DJANGO: A music man who plays records is placed on (embarks on) AN from the clue plus a word that can mean affair (nounal definition 7 in Chambers)

5d    Mr Pirrip’s sorry about at least one revelation (8)
EPIPHANY: The nickname for the Dickensian character Philip Pirrip has a 2-letter exclamation meaning ‘sorry?’ or ‘what?’ around it (about), then a 3-letter word that means an unspecified quantity, one or more

6d    One getting stuck in, centenary parties so expansive? (6-4)
NINETY-ACRE: An anagram (parties) of CENTENARY includes (getting stuck in) the Roman numeral for one

8d    Brief high-pitched sound carried by Uncle Sam’s transmitters (7)
UPLINKS: A 5-letter brief high-pitched sound goes inside (carried by) the metaphorical abbreviation for Uncle Sam

13d    I am basically taught to follow university script? (10)
ARITHMETIC: Following the two R’s that could be a university and some script, we have a third R that is basically taught

14d    Near centre of forest it leads right (5)
TITLE: Hidden (Near centre of …)

16d    Author beat it with love for faithful wife (8)
PENELOPE: A 3-letter word for author or write, plus a verb meaning to run away, or beat it, with one’s love. The faithful wife of Odysseus

18d    Cross about Beyeler’s principal, not one framing Water Lilies (7)
NELUMBO: The reversal (about) of a cross between a horse and a donkey plus the first letter (principal) of Beyeler is framed by a 2-letter word meaning ‘not one’

21d    Explosive kick can set up breaks (6)
TONITE: The reversal of another word for can goes inside (breaks) a 3-letter kick, perhaps one imparted by a digit

22d    Pub situated in a part of Harrow (6)
PINNER: Another word for pub goes inside (situated in) a 3-letter word for ‘a’ (as in £4.20 a pint)

24d    Starchy food as starter will do, we’re told (4)
SAGO: A homophone (we’re told) of a (3,2) example of what a starter in a race might do

26d    Bearer of saffron shaking off American reptile (4)
CROC: The 6-letter flower which bears saffron from which we remove (shaking off) the 2-letter abbreviation for American

There were a lot of good penny drop clues here that I really liked, including 2d, 15a, and 13d. Which were your favourites?

51 comments on “Toughie 2513

    1. I did manage 8 answers on my own last night, but I earnestly worked at solving many others, to no avail. So thank you, Dutch, for helping me fill out the grid, which I just now went back and did online, so now I have a perfectly-finished-Elgar-puzzle! Cheers to all, congratulations to those who completed the Elgar, and have a good weekend, everyone.

  1. Thanks to Elgar for the usual enjoyable struggle and to Dutch for the review.

    I spotted the Nina but don’t understand to what it refers.

    I got 6d from the anagram but I can’t find it in the BRB or elsewhere so I don’t see why that particular number is meaningful.

    The clues I liked best were 12a, 19a, 23a and 13d.

    1. I could be completely off-beam here but the Pulitzer prize-winning author, Louis Bromfield, wrote extensively about the importance of rural life and sustainable agriculture. In ‘Return to Pleasant Valley’ there is a section entitled ‘My Ninety Acres’.
      Just a thought………..

  2. Sorry? Can someone explain 2d in more detail. I can’t get “IONE” from “second of two”? Am I being thick ( probably)? Thanks

      1. Thanks – I know that (sorry – that sounds sarcastic – it’s not).
        None of the explanations offered give any logic to “second of two” equalling “IONE”. There’s not enough clue to first split the II and then translate one element. Nobody’s offered anything that works (yet!)

        Kidnapping can only work if it’s either within something or caught between two things. That’s not the structure. If you see the answer – you don’t have to worry about the structure but I can’t see how it works. I got it – but can’t say I think it’s clued properly.

        1. The clue is giving you (or cryptically suggesting to you) two ones – I (one) + ONE and together they = two. The clue also instructs you that the second of that “two” (ie, the ONE) has kinapped (a containment indicator) the IS from the clue giving: I + ON(IS)E. The IS is “caught between two things” – the letters ON and E – ON(IS)E. Does that help?

    1. i read it as inserting the IS into the second of two (ones). I+ONE (=2), IS goes into the second one.
      I like Gazza’s Roman number for II, inserting IS into the second, that works and was possibly the intention

  3. I had 9a but couldn’t parse it so, after a long slog and 14:00 having passed, I decided to check the blog. With that answer confirmed I managed to finish the 3 remaining clues. Many, admittedly, still needing Dutch to complete the parsing. 19a and 27a I enjoyed particularly.

    Thanks to Elgar for a 6*/5* that I could just about do and Dutch for the education.

  4. I gave up as my first solve was Joplin having looked up that there was a Scott Joplin but then could not parse it. For me far too much General Knowledge required of relatively obscure facts. Hain, Django, O’Neill, Pinner, Hunt-The-Slipper, Tonite……. Even after reading the explanations I find it difficult to put some answers together as I would have 12a starting with the letter E and 19a Yucn. Like Gazza wondered about the relevance of Ninety Acre. Having now seen the answers realise that there were some very attainable solves and the COTD 13d. Definitely very difficult but not that entertaining. Cheers Gazza and Elgar

  5. How glad I am that I did waste any time on this! I managed 3 answers but rejected 9a because I couldn’t justify it. Elgar doesn’t get any easier for a mere mortal like me.

  6. The usual struggle (for me) with some of the GK, but otherwise I thought this was at the less savage end of the Elgar spectrum
    I’m not getting the hidden message either :unsure:
    Many thanks Elgar and Dutch

        1. Ah. Well apart from the slipper hidden in plain sight in 20a (thank you Tilsit), we have a mule (reversed), an eel in beelines, then we have slipper SATIN, slipper LIMPET and slipper ORC/HID (row 1 and 15). Ok, time to groan!

          1. Thanks, Dutch, and groan indeed.
            Do we take it that Elgar has finally given up on his ‘puzzle number’ themes?

  7. Despite a concerted effort I only managed ten before assistance was required. With parsing like 12a I’m glad I threw in the towel. Thanks to Elgar and Dutch.

  8. I knew where saffron comes from and got the surname of Scott and Janis, so I’ve given myself a couple of points for those. Otherwise, the usual incomprehensible Elgar puzzle from my point of view.

    Thanks to Dutch for explaining how it all worked – although I still can’t fathom out how a 28a equates to a ‘secure lab location’ and haven’t got a clue as to relevance of the Nina.

    1. A glove box in a lab is a sterile or specific gas containing box and you work inside it by sticking your hands into these giant rubber gloves, see pic

      See halcyon comment for Nina

      1. Thank you, Dutch, my glove box is below the dashboard on the passenger side of the car but I wouldn’t fancy trying to secure a ‘lab’ in it!

        1. Ah yes! Like Dutch, the laboratory meaning comes naturally to me but you’ve raised a lovely image of a slobbering hound erupting from the dashboard of a car!!

    1. Just did it. Excellent. Thanks for the heads up. Great surfaces which, if one were to do a review, include many with opportunities for amusing images!

  9. Great stuff as ever from Elgar. Thanks to him & Dutch.
    I also took 12ac to refer to ‘nine’ across, in that you don’t need both references in 9a to make the clue work.

  10. Oh dear, I go and La Coruna Penelope and Joplin But 3d I thought of Eric, or Little by Little so I thought it must be RICE, and the American playwright but maybe I ought to do the Toughie earlier and the normal daily puzzle afterwards. Still, a fun challenge – it is just having to acknowledge that I am not up to it! Thanks to everyone.

  11. The chasm between Elgar’s puzzles, which are gradually getting trickier, and the other setters, seems to be growing wider. I did manage to complete this earlier than the wee small hours, although I couldn’t parse several clues, including 9a, 12a and 19a. My favourite clue, as a West Londoner originally, was 22d, once I realised that ‘plough’ was not the answer ! Well done again, Mr Henderson, as ever !

  12. Thanks Dutch for above blog and today’s crossword which I enjoyed.
    I can only see HIDDEN in the yop and cant see a reference to 158
    but then Iam a bear of little brain

  13. Thought I could do these toughies but after two days and two answers- 7a and 27a and no idea why Joplin was an answer I had to admit defeat. Just don’t have the GK. Hats off to those who can. I had tatty knickers by the way!

  14. Elgar is so fiendishly clever.I wish I could form a dynamic duo with a partner to do ones of this level of difficulty.Hard on your own when general knowledge is called for as well as the ability to handle trickerishness

  15. Usually manage an Elgar (although it does take me hours) but this one was only a 90% before I had to refer to the experts on here. A couple of the words I had never heard of and they weren’t in any of my dictionaries, either!

  16. The usual Elgar. Obscure and abstruse. I managed 10 solutions unaided and a few more following Dutch’s excellent parsing. Like many commentators i fail to see why ninety acre is expansive ( I knew it was an anagram of centenary and i) but that left me none the wiser as to the answer. I had put Joplin as my answer to 9a but could not parse it as i had no idea or clue from the setter that i was looking for a poet laureate. What groom has to do with wisp still remains beyond me.
    5d was my favourite clue

    1. i think a wisp broom is used by a stable mate, or groom. But i’m not really a horsey person, so could be wrong

      1. A wisp is a bunch of straw that is plaited into a short thick rope and used by grooms to rub down (or strap) a sweaty horse – not so much nowadays though. You have to be a certain age as well as horsey to know this. (Or Elgar).

  17. I realise I am late to the party but PLEASE could someone explain the relevance of ‘ninety-acre’ in 6d?! Having worked out the (fairly simple for Elgar) anagram etc. I could not for the life of me justify it, not with the BRB or any other assistant. My original suspect was Winnie the Pooh but, mmmm, think that was the hundred-acre wood, wasn’t it?

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