Toughie 2529 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 2529

Toughie No 2529 by Elgar

Hints and tips by Dutch

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

Today’s Elgar has a few easier entry points but is quite tricky overall (surprise), with some great “aha” moments making it very satisfying to complete. The Nina (hinted at in 16a) helped.

Please leave a comment telling us what you thought.


7a    Diuretic medication? Father William’s mixed up caps! (5,4)
WATER PILL: Another word for Father and a contraction of William, then swap the first letters (mixed up caps)

8a    One picks up purse after fighting dog (5)
BOXER: Two meanings, the first involves fighting in a ring

10a    Masseuse played games (6)
RUBBER: Two meanings, the second a bridge term

11a    Oscar’s cut ineptly working printing machine (8)
LINOTYPE: The letter with radio code Oscar is inserted into (cuts) an anagram (working) of INEPTLY

12a    Red Teletubby preferred to yellow, it’s rumoured, in Hollywood country (6)
POLAND: Substitute the name of the Red Teletubby for a homophone (it’s rumoured) of the Yellow Teletubby in a nickname for Hollywood

14a    Dual gold rings are reportedly a shade of orange (6)
AURORA: The chemical symbol for gold and the heraldic colour gold go around (rings) a homophone (reportedly) of ‘are’ plus A from the clue

16a    Range of aeroplane-minicab journey? (1,2,1)
A TO B: The extent (range, first to last letter) of aeroplane-minicab

17a    Hooligan appeared, carrying nude (5)
ROUGH: A 7-letter word meaning ‘appeared, carrying’ (BROUGHT) without the outer letters (nude)

18a    Fine start to day, before losing control (4)
AMOK: A 2-letter informal expression meaning fine, with before it a Latin abbreviation for the earlier part of a day

19a    Auden’s first away — is at pains to trim the odds (6)
WYSTAN: Remove the odd letters (trim the odds) in words 3-6 in the clue to get Auden’s first name

21a    Optimists who, essentially, we will not stop (6)
HOPERS: Take WHO from the clue and a (3,2) Latin expression meaning ‘essentially’ or ‘in itself’, then remove the outer containing letters that spell WE (‘we’ will not stop, i.e., will not contain)

24a    Deception by bowler? This might result! (3,5)
HAT TRICK: A ruse by some headgear!

26a    Fabian’s writing on instruments of the past (6)
SHAWMS: A renowned playwright who was a member of the Fabian society has attached (on) an abbreviation for a manuscript or some writing

27a    Feature of initial (and, paradoxically, final) phase (5)
ALPHA: Hidden ( Feature of …). The answer is an initial phase; paradoxically, the hidden also works in final phase

28a    Failing that’s turned around in the days before court game (4,5)
ETON FIVES: A (2,3) expression that can mean ‘failing that’ is reversed (turned around) inside (in) a word meaning ‘the days before’


1d    Monsieur whose French is evergreen (5)
MAQUI: The abbreviation for Monsieur plus a (1,3) French expression meaning ‘whose’

2d    Again accept one’s right in the world of Lord Butler? (8)
REABSORB: The rightmost letter in ONE goes inside a (3’1,3) phrase that would mean the world of Richard Austen Butler, Baron Butler of Saffron Walden commonly known by his initials

3d    Old rival of Athens bit into it (6)
SPARTA: A bit or piece goes inside an abbreviation for Sex Appeal, or ‘it’

4d    Late summer period that presages –e stor-? (4)
ELUL: A Hebrew month that we can split -* ***-, analogously to -e stor-, and we realise that the wordplay refers to the lull before the storm

5d    Pad‘s a bit steep when going upstairs? (6)
JOTTER: A 3-letter word for a bit plus a reversal (when going upstairs) of a word meaning soak or steep

6d    Go for a hash, perhaps — seasoned Caribbean stew (6,3)
PEPPER POT: A word meaning go or zest, a word meaning ‘for a’, and a version of hash or weed

9d    Realise, after looking up ‘seborrhoea’ — not a word! (6)
ENCASH: Following (after) a reversal (looking up) of a more common word for seborrhoea (ACNE), we have an interjection meaning ‘not a word!’ or ‘silence!’

13d    Money that will be needed in audition (5)
DOUGH: What is “needed” as a homophone (in audition)? Why does the baker work so hard? Because he “needs” the *****

15d    Is salt, say, rigging ____? (9)
STAYSAILS: An anagram (rigging) of IS SALT SAY – and the answer is what a salt or sailor might be rigging

17d    Was top cop bad? (6)
RANCID: Split (3,3), the answer suggests what a top cop might have done in his function

18d    Split view? Cardi B’s predecessor’s made up with it! (8)
ADRIATIC: As in the view from Split! An anagram (made up) of CARDI A + IT

20d    And what have you in your ancient livery? (6)
TETCHY: An abbreviation for ‘and what have you’ or ‘and so on’ goes inside an ancient version of ‘your’

22d    In work as model or as quizmaster? (6)
POSING: This could be sitting or asking questions

23d    The day’s events I’ll announce — from 1100? (5)
EMCEE: Think of the Roman numerals for 1100

25d    Old friends think it harms cases (4)
KITH: Hidden (… cases). An old word for friends, as in the expression **** and kin

Lots of great clues and my favourite penny-drop moment was ‘Split view’ (18d). Which clues did you like?


30 comments on “Toughie 2529

  1. Wonderful – so much to enjoy – I marked lots of clues I loved but will specially mention 12a 16a and 19a and 18d, the latter taking me ages to work out even though I’ve viewed (and swum) in the 18d at Split.

    I’m also delighted to report that I spotted the hidden ‘transport’ – Mr CS had Chambers Crossword Dictionary on his side of the kitchen table so I got him to check that there was such a thing as the item hidden in 7/8a. He commented on how much work it must have been to get all those hidden items fitting in solutions in addition to writing the clues

    Thanks Elgar – a perfect 5*/5* from me

  2. I enjoyed this one a lot – thanks to Elgar and Dutch. I noticed the Nina (though I associate the first word more with a type of hat) but, as usual, not until I’d filled the grid which meant that it didn’t help in solving.

    My ticks went to 9d, 20d and 21a (which took me ages to parse since I initially thought that the H was the essence of wHo).

  3. Came up short on 4d, struggled to parse 21a (where I wanted the who essentially to be H) and had to check my Teletubbies. That said this is further than I often get with Elgar. I didn’t spot the Nina.

    Thanks to Dutch and Elgar.

  4. Elgars must be getting easier – 2nd in a row that we finished with relative ease. The SW corner filled up very quickly and the rest gradually fell into place but with some answers that we couldn’t parse – 4 (tortuous) and 28 (really neat) for example. A smattering of easy clues helped – e.g. 10, 3, 2.

    We’ve come across another very similar clue to 17d recently – using rotten or off instead of bad. Can’t see a Nina … ?

    3* / 3*

  5. Outstanding Elgar, tough, as usual, but fair. I liked 7a, 28a, 19a and 18d in particular. I also failed to parse 21a, although there was only one possible answer.

    26a has the middle two letters the wrong way round in the hidden answer.

    Many thanks to Elgar and Dutch. I missed the Nina as usual !

  6. On the mild side for Elgar with most of the clues pleasantly conventional, though that didn’t make some of them any easier, especially in the SE corner. The rest of it went in fairly steadily except for 1d where I was convinced Taxus [yew] should be correct if only I could parse it. Had the same problem parsing 21a as Gazza and Jonners. I liked 14a and 20d as well as the PDM when 18d clicked. Haven’t we seen 17d elsewhere, quite recently? The comprehensive NINA is very clever.

    Thanks to Elgar and Dutch.

  7. According to my electronic grader, I got 57% (correct answers) on this brilliant Elgar. Happily, my first one in was 19a, a cruciverbal tribute to the great poet, whose ‘In Memory of W B Yeats’ has been running through my mind ever since (“Earth receive an honoured guest / William Yeats is laid to rest”). I think that I have performed a bit better on an Elgar in the past, but maybe not. I finished most of the left-hand side before just drawing a blank for most of the rest, but this was a majestic endeavor by the master of them all (or so it seems to me). And now that I’ve found all those transporting Ninas, I’m just over the moon. There are several answers I’d never have got if I lived to be 90 (8d; 28a, which I’d never heard of), but I was delighted with some of those I did manage (7, 24, 21a, even though I thought it was WHO only that was stripped). Thanks to Dutch for our crutch of hints and to Elgar.

  8. Thoroughly enjoyable and the only thing that would have made it perfect, for my stupid sense of humour, is if we’d had omega as well as alpha – it could have been a substitute for the missing Z., so as to be “carried” from A to Z instead of A to B!!

    Thanks Elgar and all.

  9. Blimey that was tough. Having finished it all bar the Hebrew month and the bloke in 23d I heaved a sigh of relief then saw from the blog there was a Nina and associated hidden messages as well. From my short time doing these Toughies this was, I thought, the first to really live up to the billing, as I would expect from an Elgar. 18d was definitely my favourite clue.

    Many thanks to Elgar for the considerable challenge and to Dutch for the missing explanations.

    1. Having now seen the relevance of 16a and found the means of transport I am even more in awe of the setter’s art. Quite magnificent.

  10. Well another long Friday battle with our nemesis Mr E- Myself and Mrs B necessary to deal with the usual***** treat from the best in the business,
    Nearly awarded a **** as it is still light outside, has to be a ***** enjoyment.
    didn’t quite parse 21a but near enough- thanks Dutch.
    Impossible to pick a favourite but was pleased to parse 26a.
    A quaff or two of best bitter to toast the victory.

  11. The Split view was a change from all the Nice clues we get. This kept me happily occupied for some time. Thank you to Dutch and Elgar.

  12. Without wanting (but probably failing!) to sound pedantic, ‘whose’ (1d) in French is ‘dont’; ‘à qui’ means ‘to whom’.

      1. Thank you – yes, I’d overlooked the use of ‘whose’ in that sort of construction, and was thinking of it only as it’s used in the wording of the clue, as a relative pronoun.


        1. You’ve changed your alias from your initials to your full name. Both will work from now on

  13. Luckily for me, I went out for lunch today with a friend – sort of last supper before our latest Welsh lockdown at 6pm this evening – so I was spared the ignominy of failing on yet another Elgar. Having now read through the review, I wouldn’t have expected to get more than a handful of answers.
    Very clever setter but definitely on a different plane – well done, Elgar, and many thanks to Dutch for making sense of it all.

    1. Hi Jane,
      We starting our 9pm curfew tomorrow. We have until midnight tonight to make the most of it. Don’t even feel like going out. That virus is so depressing.

  14. I’m forever referring to BD’s list of carriages hidden in his mine.
    That helped me no end as I would never have got 26a without it.
    Told Elgar off so often for using GK to clue GK.
    Quite accessible crossword overall.
    Thanks to Elgar and to Dutch.
    Btw. The answer in 26a needs a bit of rearranging.

  15. I’d already spotted BERLIN in row 4, then when I guessed 21a (the only entry I couldn’t parse) I spotted STANHOPE. I knew it was a carriage, so I checked out BERLIN and it confirmed the theme. It helped me with 26a and 28a which were blank at that time.
    I thought this puzzle was a little easier than usual for an Elgar. It didn’t take me nearly as long as some have in the past.

  16. completed all bar 4d. i was looking for calm before the storm but the two L’s put paid to that idea and i had no knowledge of the Hebrew calendar so i had no chance. Like most correspondents I failed to parse 21a. My favourites were 18d and 16a.. Thanks to Dutch for the usual excellent guidance which enabled me to solve 27a and to Elgar for exercising my brain.

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