Toughie 2588 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 2588


Toughie No 2588 by Elgar

Hints and tips by Dutch


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

Ouch ouch ouch, poor Elgar. We have a Nina explaining the cause and also the effect. I hope my 5* for enjoyment does not come across the wrong way! We all wish Elgar the very best. This was 5* for difficulty, but only just. A wonderful puzzle.

As always, definitions are underlined. Indicators are shown in italics. The hints are intended to help you unravel the wordplay, and you can click the CAUSE: columns 1 & 15, EFFECT column 8 buttons to reveal the answer. Please leave a comment telling us what you thought.


1a    An ideal answer, having worked out circumference-diameter ratio … (6)
UTOPIA: The abbreviation for answer, preceded by (having) an anagram (worked) of OUT, then PI (circumference-diameter ratio)

5a    … see the point? I see skill in calculation (8)
LOGISTIC: A 2-letter word for see, the point or core message, I from the clue and the letter that is spelled ‘see’

9a    Shake buttocks for a song (4,6)
ROCK BOTTOM: A word for shake and a word for buttocks

10a    Remaining deliveries done (4)
OVER: Triple definition, the second a cricket term

11a    Was manager now offensive about how staff communicate? (8)
INTRANET: A 3-letter verb meaning ‘was manager’ has about it a word meaning now or hip and an offensive in the Vietnam war

12a    Grave old year for Georgina Kirrin? (6)
TOMBOY: Another word for a grave, and the abbreviations for old and year. Georgina Kirrin is a character in the Famous Five children’s book series. She didn’t like being called Georgina, preferred George

13a    Companion concealing rather large lead-pipe? (4)
COSH: The abbreviation for companion contains (concealing) an abbreviation for rather large

15a    Puts dressing gown out lengthwise (8)
LONGWAYS: A verb meaning puts contains (dressing) an anagram (out) of GOWN

18a    Knock through loose chain if necessary (2,1,5)
AT A PINCH: A gentle knock goes inside (through) an anagram (loose) of CHAIN

19a    Realised, as we did, Brexit not to Macron’s taste? (4)
GOUT: A (3,3) phrasal verb that describes what we (UK) did when we realised Brexit, but without the TO from the clue. Macron is a French indicator

21a    Vicious dog worried barman in O’Neill’s? (6)
CURATE: A 3-letter vicious dog and a verb that means worried. The answer usually refers to a clergy member but it does have another meaning in Ireland


23a    Road out of bounds in a region that’s unsafe? One will be denied entry (2-2,4)
NO-GO AREA: An all-in-one, the whole clue is wordplay, the whole clue is definition. ROAD from the clue but without the outer letters (out of bounds) goes inside (in) an anagram (that’s unsafe) of A REG(i)ON, but without the I (one will be denied entry)

25a    The author wants to get a lot in the same chapter! (4)
IBID: Split (1,3), the answer would suggest the author (as in Elgar) wants to get a lot (in an auction)

26a    Heading for safety, then angry polar bears start to threaten group (4,6)
SNOW PATROL: The first letter (heading) for safety, another word for then or next, and an anagram (angry) of POLAR containing (bears) the first letter (start) to threaten

27a    Like tucking into nuts, top of range: do try —– ! (3-5)
DRY-ROAST: Fill-in-the-blank. A 2-letter word meaning ‘like’ goes inside (tucking into) an anagram (nuts) of R DO TRY (where R is the top of Range)

28a    The way out, as on ship (6)
EGRESS: As or for instance, on or concerning, and the abbreviation for ship


2d    Content of strong stomachs half of course (5)
TROON: The inner letters (content) of strong contains (stomachs) the first half of OF from the clue

3d    Punk rock EP’s in? Better to play this disc (5,4)
POKER CHIP: Ah, that kind of better. An anagram (punk) of ROCK EP plus a word meaning in or trendy

4d    007 receives Q’s customary successor with a flourish (6)
ABOUND: And the answer is a verb! The surname of agent 007 contains (receives) the letter that customarily follows Q (not in the alphabet – that would me more than customarily), with A from the clue (at the front)

5d    Veg list that ill invalid’s running through to get on top of 19 (3,2,3,4,3)
LET IT ALL HANG OUT: A reference to Elgar’s dietary remedy. A word meaning list or tilt contains (running through) an anagram (invalid) of THAT ILL, all on top of the answer for 19. How good is that?

6d    Receive absorbing manuscript, a cameo? (8)
GEMSTONE: A verb meaning receive contains (absorbing) the abbreviation for manuscript plus a number meaning A from the clue

7d    What monsoon, mistral, bora and khamsin essentially contribute to? (5)
STORM: The central letters of the four strong winds (… essentially)

8d    Please note to record credit banks play the fool heartlessly (1,3,2,3)
I BEG OF YOU: A 3-letter abbreviation for a ‘note to record credit’ contains (banks) a (2,5) expression that means ‘play the fool’, but without the central letter (heartlessly)

14d    Tragically insurmountable, if slain_—— wounded (9)
OUTNUMBER: Another fill-the-blank, the clue surface reading makes sense when the answer is inserted. An anagram (tragically) of insurmountable is also an anagram (wounded) of SLAIN + “answer”

16d    Person maybe heading for Tyburn who stops people accompanying tourists? (9)
WAGHALTER: Tyburn is famous for gallows. Split (3,6), the answer could be someone who stops accompanying wives and girlfriends

17d    Before echo sounders, so lost on a submarine (8)
UNDERSEA: Ah, the answer is an adjective. Before the letter with radio code Echo, we have (SO)UNDERS from the clue but without the SO (so lost), all on A from the clue

20d    An exec’s aide in time for celebrations of love (6)
AGAPAE: An exec’s aide would be (1,2), which goes into (in) a stretch of time. For me, this was a “Crikey, let’s see if Chambers has this word”

22d    In game on board, one partner goes topless for the other (5)
ADDER: An iconic board game, where one partner in the name without its first letter (going topless) gives a type of the second partner

24d    From the south skerries to Yell, these islands are en route (5)
EYOTS: Reverse hidden (from the south … [definition] are en route)

Plenty of great clues, for example the smooth surface in 11a. My favourite has to be 5d. Which clues did you like?

33 comments on “Toughie 2588

  1. The second time Elgar has had 19a in a crossword so I did get the impression he was suffering :( I did spot the Nina too.

    Apart from 16d which took an age to solve, I did think that this was definitely a ‘who are you and what have you done with Elgar?’ crossword as it all flowed very nicely in what would have been a proper Thursday Toughie time. Lots to enjoy and * by many clues I really liked, but if pushed, my Across favourite would be 12a, and my Down (and top) favourite has to be 22d

    Thanks to Dutch and even bigger thanks to Elgar and get well soon xx

  2. Felt very sorry for Elgar when discovering what was going on.
    We had a French humourist referring to this problem as Frenetic Colic.
    Great Malaprop.
    I too found it very accessible and did spend a lot of time on 16d.
    Loved the be goofy in 8d.
    19a favourite.
    Thanks to Elgar. Keep well.
    Thanks to Dutch for explaining everything.

  3. Thanks and commiserations to Elgar and thanks to Dutch for the review.
    I too came to a juddering halt at 16d which needed a lot of scrabbling around in the BRB.
    My podium has 19a, 25a and 22d on it.

  4. Used every sort of electronic help, had wild guesses and lots of lateral thinking and hey! not only did I finish this but even my bung ins were correct. Solving an Elgar is just incredible no matter how I managed it,
    Now, will someone please explain what is wrong with the poor man? I suspect it is 19a and he feels at 9a but, being useless at Ninas, that’s as far as I can get.
    COTD is 16d, a word I’d never met before,

  5. All fair although I needed help to see the parsing of 5a and 11a. Can’t beat a bit of logistic regression. Elgar seems to be mellowing. I loved 22d. Thanks to Elgar and Dutch.

  6. Such a struggle!
    Wrong plural for 20d didn’t help and needed assistance from Dutch with that and several others.
    Brilliant stuff but beyond my abilities to complete.
    Nina unspotted as usual .
    Hope you’re better already Elgar!

  7. Well I finished it but I cannot say I fully understand all the parsings even with Dutch’s explanations. Sure, some of the clues were excellent, but, try as I might, I find it difficult to enjoy Elgar’s creations. I think they are just a step too far for my solving abilities.

    That said, I do appreciate the skill involved in setting them, and admire those of you who complete, understand and enjoy his creations. My thanks to both Elgar and Dutch.

  8. After several failed attempts at even getting close to completing an Elgar I had resolved to stop trying but I am now glad I didn’t as I solved and parsed all bar 16d today.
    Spotting the Nina helped complete the Southwest which contains three brilliant clues in 14, 22 and 25.
    Lots of other favourites sprinkled around the puzzle but these three take all the medals.

    Thanks to all and may I add my best wishes to John for a speedy recovery and hopefully no recurrence!!

  9. Serve me right. Overconfident, I had finished the ordinary crossword and thinking I was on a roll …. Well, I managed to get four clues of this impossibly hard ‘Toughie’. In fact, I also had Gout but didn’t see why so did not fill it in. How anyone can make sense of such an arcane crossword I can not imagine. But for once I have a favourite, which I didn’t solve, 22d. That is really clever.

  10. Hang out the flags! The first time I’ve EVER completed a Friday Elgar without referring to this blog; though spotting the Nina did get me to the Irish bartender. Strangely, I found 16d fairly early on. Favourite I think 8d. Many thanks to Elgar for all his brain scrambling puzzles and I wish him well in his tribulations. Thanks also to Dutch and all the rest of the team of bloggers for their gentle guidance over the months. *****/****

  11. Excellent puzzle from poor stricken Elgar, which took me less time than Osmosis’ Toughie last Friday. I agree that it’s just about 5*. 26a and 27a were my favourites.

  12. I had an almost complete LHS very quickly, then struggled a bit. Needed a word wizard for 16d, having never heard of it, and took a while to get my LOI, 8d. With just a few still to get, I spotted the nina, but with all it’s letters in place, it was of no help to me.
    I agree with the enjoyment factor, but based on the time it took me, compared to the usual, I can only give it 4* (unless I’m getting better at it).

  13. Well I nearly got there. 19a directed me to the previously unseen Nina. These are bad enough in big toe joints, but they pale into insignificance if you get them on the kneecap. I was hoping to find allopurinol as an answer! It’s fixed me for a few years. Lovely workout and thanks to Dutch and Elgar who beat me again. Hope you’re pain free soon

  14. I managed to finish about 75% of this remarkable Elgar on my own, about as well as I’ve ever done with him. Solving the ‘veg’ clue helped me get a grip on much of the grid, but I came up short with the ‘celebrations of love’ (even though the singular form of the word did occur to me) and the ‘polar bears’ (and a couple others). What genius, eh? I chuckled over 25a when the penny dropped. (All those years of footnotes!) Thanks to Dutch for the hints, quite a few of which I needed, and to Elgar, who I hope is feeling better today.

  15. Completed all but 16d, which completely floored me, although I might have got it had it been in my BRB. Can anyone tell me its etymology?

    1. It’s in the current BRB under ‘wag’. Wagging is apparently an old word for swinging on the end of a noose.

      1. it reminded me of dutch word “waaghals”, “dare throat”, which kinda means daredevil – god knows, but it helped me get the answer!

      2. Thank you. I have now found it in my elderly BRB but only as a suggested origin for ‘wag’ meaning ‘a wit’ and without any clue as to its etymology.

        1. wag = W(ives) A(nd) G(irlfriends) – footballer style

          not a hell of a lot of etymology going on there

          1. I understand the wives and girlfriends. It’s the etymology of ‘waghalter’ as a word in its own right that I can’t get a handle on.

  16. Like Robert the best I’ve ever managed with Elgar – 17 answers on my own though can’t pretend I could parse 5 of them properly. Managed a few more on my own once I’d twigged the Nina & after looking at a couple of hints one of which was 19a. In the end I still had to reveal 16d even after reading the hint. Great fun trying (in a masochistic sort of way) but the wordplay is just too clever for me.
    As a golf nut 2d was my favourite.
    With thanks to Elgar & to Dutch for the detailed explanations.
    Ps Elgar is the one compiler setting for the Telegraph who I think I need a 225 style deconstruction for.

  17. Dear Elgar – I can guarantee you that raw cherries and/or apples work within 24hrs (if 19a is indeed the problem)
    Something to do with the keratin in the skins of said fruit, if my chemistry/HB memory serves me correctly
    I kid ye not, try it and if it doesn’t work put quack in your next puzzle – it will work and you won’t have to clue quack

  18. Pushed for time I was going to give Elgar a miss but Dutch’s preamble prompted me to give it another go.
    Of course, I needed lots of help from the hints. Thanks for explaining many Dutch.
    Of the ones I solved unaided, I did love 7d 25a 14d and 20d. 20d was another of recent clues that came from reading Stephen Fry’s retelling of Greek myths and legends.
    Poor Elgar it seems as though lockdown is causing an imbalance between alcohol uptake and exercise. Perhaps more water with it and a pub crawl around York is called for! If only pubs were open!

  19. I required Dutch;s assistance to get my four unsolved clues. which included 16d which i had never heard of. My COTD was 25a so clever”.
    i gave up trying to sort out the cluing for 5d. How Dutch manages it never ceases to amaze me. Thanks to both and get well soon to Elgar

  20. I tried to post a comment on Friday but no matter how many times I pressed post, it wouldn’t. Never had problems before. I wonder if it was just me or did others have the same problem.
    Enjoyed Elgar as alway. Thanks to him and to Dutch.
    Let me try to post again

  21. Well I managed a third of these, in four days. Elgar (maybe the Friday Toughie generally) is heading back to being impenetrable. Difficult clues, obscure words as answers. And to boot, it’s a big effort to see 14d as a “fill the gap” clue in the dead tree edition, so an eye test as well.

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