Toughie 2537 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 2537

Toughie No 2537 by Elgar

Hints and tips by Dutch

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

No Nina, no number games – what is called just a vanilla puzzle by some in the trade, though clearly that refers to no gimmicks or themes rather than difficulty or entertainment value. I found today’s puzzle quite tricky, especially NE, but it is very satisfying to complete it – so please do persist. Elgar is a genius at all-in-one clues; I don’t know how he does it.

As always, finding the definitions in the clues is half the game, and these are underlined for you in the clues below. The hints are intended to help you unravel the wordplay, and I’ve added some interim spoiler boxes where I thought they might be useful. Of course, you can always click on the Click here box at the start of the hint to see the solution. Please leave a comment telling us what you thought.


6a    With which one’s driven to speak of liquor under orders (5,8)
FUROR LOQUENDI: An anagram (orders) of OF LIQUOR UNDER

8a    Dawn assault captures chief island port (6)
NASSAU: Hidden (… captures)

9a    Floor — middle one, bereft of walls (8)
ENTRESOL: Another word for middle plus another word for one (CENTRE SOLE), then omit first and final letters (bereft of walls)

10a    The sound of Cliff? Hardly! (3)
SKA: A homophone (the sound of) of another word for cliff

11a    Stew Northerners consume (but not with peelings of tatties) (6)
SCOUSE: A (5,3) phrase that would mean ‘Northerners consume’ (and ‘tatties’ is a clue for which Northerners) (SCOTS USE), removing the outer letters (peelings) of tatties

12a    Likely end? Criminal one to be suspended (3,5)
NED KELLY: An anagram (criminal) of L(i)KELY END, without the I (one to be suspended)

14a    Make false accusations when blue (7)
ASPERSE: A short word meaning when plus a dark blue or bluish-grey colour

16a    Thin beard and divine fringes (7)
SCRAWNY: A 3-letter beard is fringed by a word meaning to divine or crystal-gaze

20a    In confusion, an end to Juliet, replacing him among the dead? (8)
MONTAGUE: An anagram (in confusion) of AN+T (end to Juliet) replaces R (him, referring to the answer but also his first name here and the letter it encodes) in a place where dead bodies are kept

23a    I begin to repair halves for one 6 Down (6)
ARTIST: A (1,5) phrase meaning I begin, then exchange (re-pair) the two halves

24a    The best bet? Sleep (3)
NAP: Two meanings

25a    Particle, larger than normal, has it in for most common of neutrinos (8)
POSITRON: A 2-letter abbreviation meaning larger than normal plus IT from the clue go inside (in) another word for ‘for’ or in favour of, then the most common letter in neutrinos

26a    Hats off to young Saturngazers, fixing the variable moon (6)
TETHYS: The first letters (hats) off ‘to young Saturngazers’ contain (fixing) an anagram (variable) of THE. Identifying the moon is much helped by the hint ‘Saturngazers’

27a/2d Show exhausted worker (miles logged) people reluctant to stir? (3,5,3,2,8)
ALL MOUTH AND NO TROUSERS: Show as in ‘just a lot of show’. A (3,3,4) phrase that would mean ‘exhausted worker’ (ALL OUT HAND) contains (logged) the abbreviation for miles, then a (3,7) description of people reluctant to stir (NOT ROUSERS)


1d/18d The height of disrepute? A result of sorts (8,8)

2d    See 27a

3d/4d Is dotted over back of head, shaken at sudden collars (4,3,6)
DONE AND DUSTED: Is dotted (and Ts crossed)! Another word for over or finished, then the last letter (back) of head is collared or contained by an anagram (shaken) of AT SUDDEN

4d    See 3d

5d    Selection of hors d’oevres not for women — their starters refused over sudden outburst (6)
SNEEZE: A selection of hors d’oevres in a Turkish or Lebanese restaurant, say, then a (3’1) description meaning ‘not for women’, without their first letters (their starters removed) and then reversed (over)

6d    Romantic brother keeping some outside is menial worker in firm (9,4)
FRANCISCO GOYA: A 3-letter abbreviation for brother or friar contains (keeping) a 3-letter word for some, which in turn contains (outside) the abbreviation for firm or company, which in turn contains IS from the clue plus a menial worker who is just a part of the machine

7d    Unorthodox layouts in down clues for sure! (1,7,3,2)
I WOULDN’T SAY NO: An anagram (unorthodox) of LAYOUTS IN DOWN ‘clues’ the answer

13d    Brynner and Kerr, perhaps close to bar, drink! (3)
KIR: Yul Brynner and Deborah Kerr play the title roles in The King and I, so we have the abbreviation for King, I, and the last letter (close) to bar

15d    One drowned by river beginning to ascend (3)
RIA: The Roman numeral for one is contained between (drowned by) the abbreviation for river and the first letter (beginning) to ascend

17d    It may necessitate hand over mouth (8)
CLAPTRAP: Very neat and amusing. A word for hand or applause sits over (in a down clue) a slang word for mouth

18d    See 1d

19d    See 22d

21d    Big shot sounded out when cycling (6)
TRIPLE: An extra large measure of liquor is also a (3,3) slang expression for sounded out (LET RIP) in which the first two letters are moved to the end (when cycling)

22d/19d I say proceed to ring road north — be clear about it (6,7)
GORDON BENNETT: A (2,2) phrase meaning proceed goes around (to ring) the abbreviation for road. Then, we have the abbreviation for north with BE from the clue plus a word for clear (meaning profit after tax deductions etc.) about it


I enjoyed the all-in-ones, including the simple elegant ones like 15d. I quite like the big shot (21d); it took me ages to see the right cycling, I was trying to understand what RIPLET meant. The clues that made me chuckle most were 17d and 22/19d. Which clues did you like?

34 comments on “Toughie 2537

  1. Some significant head-scratching was required here and I wasn’t helped by not knowing several terms including 6a and 1/18d so that Mr Google was called into action quite a lot. I did enjoy the struggle – thanks to Elgar and Dutch.
    My picks of the clues were 20a, 5d, 21d and 22d.

  2. Not knowing 6 & 9a made for hard work and I don’t really understand 5, 13 & 15d
    Had a good bash at it though and I’m quite happy with a challenge, finished or not
    Very enjoyable to unravel, thanks Elgar and Dutch

  3. Struggling to finish this. I have two still to solve, 9a and 5d, and I have another four unparsed. I’ll leave it for now, hoping for some inspiration when I return to it tonight.

  4. After two relatively easy puzzles from Elgar, we’re back in the realms of 7* for difficulty and 3*/4* for enjoyment. Let’s face it, I don’t like losing and was thoroughly beaten today.

    I do, however, think that I have a legitimate beef when the the clue Dutch blogs about (13d) is not the clue in my newspaper.

    Otherwise it was the combination of obscurity and fiendish word play that made it so difficult. I wish Elgar would stay within the realms of what I find solvable. And I take my hat of to Dutch.

    1. Ah – 13d in the paper – there the definition would be ‘a drink’, and R is the abbreviation for take (as in prescriptions, from the Latin recipe). rest is the same

      1. Like I said: obscure. In this case ‘r’ for take. In 40 some years of solving cryptic crosswords in most of the broadsheets, I’ve managed not to come across it. I wanted to parse it with the ‘a’ from the clue after king and I, but it obviously wasn’t right.

        I’m afraid that I’m solving at Championship level whilst you’re at Premiership level. Alas, I suspect that there aren’t many up there with you. Those that are seem mostly to be your fellow bloggers.

        Happily only Elgar makes a habit of setting Toughies at that level.

        1. this puzzle took me a while – I’m just trying to help (it what the hints and tips are for)

        2. I’ve seen ‘r’ for take hundreds of times, although perhaps not so frequently in recent years.

  5. I managed just over half of this one then threw in the towel. I like to think I am pretty good at this solving lark but this had me well beaten. Even with the explanations from Dutch I am still struggling to parse some of them.

    Congratulations to Elgar for comprehensively thrashing me, and Dutch, I am in awe of your expertise.

  6. Been a while since I successfully solved an Elgar.
    Nevertheless, I needed Dutch to parse 6d (that’s what I call a Russian doll!) and 23a.
    Favourite 20a in yet another very clever crossword.
    Thanks to Elgar and to Dutch.

  7. Well – I usually brave a toughie when I complete a normal cryptic – and have time on my hands. This was, bar three clues, all Greek to me! Even reading the explanations here – I was still in the dark! Hey ho – tomorrow’s another day!

  8. Heavens. Elgar bites back with a vengeance. An hour or more of staring and I have one three letter answer. Just cannot make any sense of any of this. Thank goodness there’s three days to work on it, but this might just put me back in the “don’t even bother with Elgar” camp.

    1. Likewise, but 3 hours and 24a.
      Not much fun. Have had to read the hints and expose every remaining solution this morning . Sleeping on it was no help at all!

  9. Was lulled into a false sense of security by this week’s puzzles but came down with a big thud today. Way beyond me.

  10. And just looked at the hint for 6a. None the wiser. So revealed the answer. Even less the wiser. This one is going in the bin. No fun to be had when it is this hard.

  11. V difficult. Got there in the end but only because we could check the answers. Most were just bung ins, which somehow worked. Obviously, something registered sub-consciously. Weird.

  12. V difficult. Got there in the end but only because we could check the answers. Most were just bung ins, which somehow worked. Obviously, something registered sub-consciously. Weird!

  13. Only got 11a on my own but thanks to hints and some answers from here I had the satisfaction of then working out a few more once I had checkers. Lots of new words for me – a good learning experience!

    But mainly bothering to comment so late to say 12a explanation is missing that letter I has to be removed from anagram (“one to be suspended” I assume) – in case anyone else checks here even later and is confused!

  14. Only started this today and managed to battle my way to the end with one mistake. I took 10a to be a homophone of the first letter of ‘Cliff’, which I think works almost as well as the ‘official’ explanation. Fortunately, only the middle letter was wrong, so it didn’t interfere with anything else.

  15. I thought this was one of Elgar’s harder crosswords, but I really enjoy tussling with his clues and this was no exception. Just the thing for a lockdown evening! So thank you, John, and thank you blogger although I only needed you for the explanation of one clue today.

    1. Adding a 3 to your alias sent you into moderation. Both old and new should work from now on

  16. I got 4/5 solutions unaided. I generally concur with Coatweazel’s comments this puzzle was extremely difficult. Thanks to the hints from Dutch much of the remainder became clear but some like 6a totally eluded me my Latin studies ceased 70 years ago and i have never come across this one before.
    The all in one’s are decidedly more difficult to solve. Favourites are hard to find but iI settle for 25a as I actually solved it unaided

  17. Almost lost the will to live with this one. Solved four but then had to resort to this page which nearly threw me with 6 down – surely it should be Francisco? As I already had scouse and then thought it was wrong I almost abandoned it in a sulk!
    My favourite was 6 across which I managed to solve but the credit for that must go to my old Latin master at Grammar School!

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