Toughie 2580 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
View closed comments 

Toughie 2580

Toughie No 2580 by Elgar

Hints and tips by Dutch

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

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

I think this is the first Elgar I’ve rated less than 5* difficulty. I have a simple little solving time formula to arrive at the difficulty, I don’t know how else to do that. I got the long clues fairly quickly, which helped a lot. Enjoy

Please leave a comment telling us what you thought.


8a    A top play regularly staged to inspire single S American city (3,5)
SAO PAOLO: Odd letters (regularly staged) of ‘A top play’ go inside (to inspire) a 4-letter word meaning single

9a    As good as new in the morning? (6)
NEARLY: The abbreviation for new plus a word that can mean ‘in the morning’

10a    Serving girl’s lost one off her trolley (3)
MAD: A 4-letter serving girl loses the Roman numeral for one

11a    What a shame one’s attending boring day of Latin and English (6,2)
DEARIE ME: A listener (one’s attending) goes inside (boring) the Latin for day, plus the abbreviation for English

12a    Packs together to fix a bone (6)
SACRUM: A word for two rugby packs together contains (to fix) A from the clue

13a    Cliché, irony, etc, the basis for the Budget address? (7,2,6)
FIGURES OF SPEECH: Two meanings – the second a cryptic reference to the numbers presumably featured in a presentation by Rishi

15a/18a Note: ‘How did I do on the spelling test, Miss?’ (3,4)
YOU MARK MY WORDS: Read differently, the answer could also be this question put to the teacher

21a    Where flight delay may agitate passengers, new plane route urged (9,6)

24a    ‘Rating scales are infamously low on reliability’, heads read (6)
SAILOR: First letters ( … heads read)

25a    For cruciverbalist women, when life begins? (3-5)
TWO-SCORE: How a cruciverbalist might see women in the answer when split (3’1,4)

26a    Sort of idiom, initially not a word (3)
ISH: The first letter (initially) of idiom plus an instruction meaning ‘not a word’

27a    Reason exec at first appears lost at meeting? Gout (6)
PALATE: Split (2,4), the answer reveals a possible reason

28a    Carriage and attendants reading from the same sheet? (8)
EQUIPAGE: A whimsical way of suggesting you’re on the same page



1d    Royal poise and majesty feature together in upbringing (5,1)
JAMES I: A reverse hidden ( … feature together in upbringing – where ‘together’ suggests joining poise and majesty)

2d    A copper putting cuffs on for a little insight (6)
APERCU: A from the clue plus the chemical symbol for copper surrounding (putting cuffs on) a word meaning ‘for a’

3d    MPs given big job in secluded house (4,11)
HOME SECRETARIES: Another word for in, another word for secluded, and an astrological house

4d/20d Wounded hero to whom Eros appears mysteriously? (7)
SOMEHOW OR OTHER: An anagram (wounded) of HERO TO WHOM EROS

5d    Puck’s happy we agree (3,2,3,3,2,2)
AND SO SAY ALL OF US: If Puck is happy, then we might say, using his surname: “For he is a (5,10)’ – and what follows

6d    Fruit harvests constant, this chap making cheese (8)
MANCHEGO: A tropical fruit contains (harvests) the abbreviation for constant plus a pronoun meaning ‘this man’

7d    Only 5% from a pint? Old penny flung in disgust (8)
FLOUNCED: A unit (2,5) that is 1/20th of a pint plus the abbreviation for an old penny

14d    Beasts recorded in dwindling numbers (3)
GNU: Hidden (recorded in … )

16d    I’m not sure I see through plump theatregoer’s attire (5,3)
OPERA HAT: An interjection meaning ‘I’m not sure’ plus an exclamation meaning ‘I see’ go inside (through) a verb meaning plump or choose

17d    Sort of meal for slicing (4,4)
MEAT LOAF: An anagram (sort) of OF MEAL that a preposition meaning ‘for’ or ‘in the place of’ is cutting (slicing)

19d    Circuit of duty in Navy uniform (3)
RUN: In the abbreviation for Royal Navy, put the letter corresponding to the radio code uniform

20d    See 4d

22d    Opens up cans to make merry! (6)
UNCAPS: An anagram (to make merry) of UP CANS, where the whole clue could be an extended definition

23d    Anger follows fuel being short — here? (6)
GARAGE: A 4-letter word for anger follows a type of fuel without its last letter (being short)

I really like the disguised definitions eg 9a and 10a, and the quite complicated very simple 17d. My favourite is probably the cruciverbalist’s reverse clue (25a). Which clues did you like?

37 comments on “Toughie 2580

  1. For me this was at the difficult end of 5* difficulty but I did enjoy the battle very much indeed. So many lovely moments when you realise exactly what Elgar is getting at

    Hard to pick one favourite so I won’t. Thanks to Elgar and Dutch

  2. Tough certainly, but I finished in a reasonable time so I am delighted with that. 1d was my final entry, and I confess to needing the hint to fully parse it, but, that aside, the rest made sense and it was completely absorbing and a real challenge. The long clues certainly helped me gain a much-needed foothold. I will nominate 11a as my favourite.

    My thanks to Elgar for the tussle and to Dutch.

  3. I know I needed lots and lots of electronic help but this was an Elgar for heaven’s sake! Incredibly I finished it. My only problem was 8a as every where I searched insisted it was São Paulo.
    At last I can feel a bit better after failing miserably to get a handle on yesterday’s Ray T cryptic.
    My COTD is 14d as I love to be reminded of Flanders and Swan.

      1. Saint Paul is mostly hyphenated Saint-Paul in France.

        In Italy, he is San Paolo (Sant’ is used before a name starting with a vowel and Santo is used if the name starts with St or Sp).

        In Spain, he is San Pablo (two exceptions are Santo Tomás and Santo Domingo).

        In Portugal, he is São Paulo (Santo is used before names starting with an ‘h’ or a vowel). Brazil is a Portuguese speaking country, hence São Paulo. This city of Brazil was founded by the Jesuit missionaries in Brazil in the mid-16th century. Today, it is Brazil’s largest city, though not the capital, which is Brasília. São Paulo is, however, the capital of the state of same name. Brazil has altogether 26 states.

  4. Having finally managed to almost finish an Elgar (albeit with some aids) I find it’s rated **** .
    Still hope springs eternal…..
    Favourite 25ac but so many excellent clues.
    Haven’t got to spend time searching for a Nina today.
    Thanks to Dutch to Elgar…..does he ever drop in here ?

  5. Excellent stuff – thanks to Elgar and Dutch.
    I have loads of ticks. I’ll pick out 9a, 5d, 16d and 23d with my favourite being 25a.

  6. Very enjoyable, but requiring the exec’s aide to attend the meeting was a bit to much of a lateral leap for me, so I can’t claim to have fully parsed 27ac without the hint.

  7. The best I’ve ever done on an Elgar, and I might have done even better if a major spelling error had not occurred in the spelling of Brazil’s largest city. The second word has a medial “U”, not an “O”! Only JB above has acknowledged that error. Well, even Homer nodded, they say. In 27a, might not “gout” be construed, as I did, with its French meaning for “taste”, and thus the answer? But I thoroughly enjoyed this challenge and loved the long answers, especially 5d and 15a. Thanks to Dutch for the hints [‘rating’ for 24a is not a term we’re familiar with in these backwoods over here, though I should have remembered it; although I missed 7d, I should have got it], and many thanks to Elgar. I’m getting there.

    1. yes, gout = taste = palate for the answer ( and “P.A. late” as the reason for the exec to get flustered in the wordplay)

    2. yes, gout = taste = palate for the answer ( and “P.A. late” as the reason for the exec to get flustered in the wordplay)

    1. Where did you find that information, Batrachos? I can’t find it anywhere. I have friends from Sao Paulo, and that’s how they spell it.

            1. That’s all right, my friend. Let’s face it: Elgar made a mistake. Will Dutch or CrypticSue confirm that fact?

            1. So, it seems it was an honest mistake: the compiler thought that the city was spelled the Italian way (Paolo) and not the Portuguese way (Paulo)–a mistake in spelling, thus affecting the answer to the MPs clue. Or that’s the way I see it. And that was the problem I faced last night as I tried to finish the NW corner and couldn’t because of the difference between an O and a U. Does the compiler know about all this, I wonder.

  8. When I saw the grid, I was expecting a Nina to go all the way round, but the sequence of letters from my answers soon proved me wrong.
    Everything parsed successfully with 16d being the last.
    Too many favourites to mention as per usual.
    Thanks to Elgar, a jolly good fellow, 5d.
    Thanks also to Dutch for his usual excellent review.

  9. Failed on just one, 27a, because I didn’t know that meaning of GOUT. Should have looked it up in Chambers!
    Failed to parse MEAT LOAF, my favourite clue now I see the &lit.

  10. First class puzzle, many thanks to Elgar – and Dutch for picking out some of the more esoteric parsing. Great fun, loved 27a.

  11. Just completed it this morning, after failing to see the alternative meaning of 27a until I’d woken up. Although there were a few comparatively straightforward clues (for Elgar) this was definitely 5* territory overall. I liked 7d, 1d and 15/18a in particular.

  12. Like many others i struggled over 8a. I could only find a spelling with a u rather than the o required to fit with 3d, but since the clue required solo around the other letters I resigned myself to the answer. It slowed me down for a while. However the rest went swimmingly until i reached 25 and 27a. I required Dutch’s help here. to get the answers so my cruciverbal skill is not up to scratch. Thanks to Dutch all was well.
    Overall a very enjoyable solve and my COTD’s were 3d 6d and 7d

  13. First Elgar I’ve ever finished without needing a hint somewhere. So it can’t have been that difficult :) and so I agree with Dutch’s **** rating.

  14. I wrote in the correct spelling for SAO PAULO without being quite able to parse it
    I finally came to _U_E SECRETARIES , The clue seemed to indicate HOME SECRETARIES which presented a clash.Had I missed something? I googled RULE secretaries with no luck. I wondered if there was an acronym HUGE-dialling that up led me to a porn site.
    So it was a dnf but who for?

  15. Way behind time with this question but just in case anyone reads this … Can someone please explain why a cruciverbalist might see women as two’s core? I read the explanations rather than completed the crossword, which was way beyond my level currently, and I still don’t understand this one.

      1. For me, even with Gazza’s further explanation it took a while for the penny to drop. Thanks for clearing it up.

  16. Way too hard for me. Even the hints don’t make some of them clearer. I knew I’d struggle when I saw the grid, and the long ones (apart from 13) didn’t drop. I’ve done ok with the past couple of Elgar’s, but more like this, and they are going back to the “don’t waste your time” box.

Comments are closed.