Toughie 2608 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 2608

Toughie No 2608 by Elgar

Hints and tips by Dutch

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

A 50th anniversary, and Elgar at his best – a thoroughly enjoyable puzzle and a masterful grid fill. With the theme, I didn’t expect a Nina, but there seems to be a wee subconscious one in the central row

As usual, definitions are underlined and indicators are in italics. The hints are intended to help you unravel the wordplay and you can click on the “The fight of the century”, 8 March 71, Madison Square Garden buttons to reveal the answers. Please leave a comment telling us what you thought.


5a    Thus far, one’s own source of mischief (2,4)
TO DATE: A word meaning one’s own, as in ‘on one’s ***’, and the Greek goddess of mischief

8a/19a One’s not very good at boxing in silence (something bizarre to behold!) (8,3)
MUHAMMAD ALI: A 3-letter inexpert boxer (same word as inexpert actor) goes inside (in) a 3-letter word meaning silence, then a particular artist’s painting that is bizarre or surreal to behold

9a    See 3d

10a    King Edward keeps on rebuffing him (5)
DEREK: A reversal (rebuffing) of an abbreviation for king plus a short form of Edward that contains (keeps) a word meaning on or concerning

11a    European can start to deal in another continent — here, maybe? (4,5)
EAST INDIA: The abbreviation for European, then another word for ‘can’ plus the first letter (start) of deal go inside (in) a continent

13a    Creation of joint Rotary campaign in one town’s banks (8)
TENONING: Reverse hidden (Rotarybanks)

14a/16d What 8 19 would shout at him, failing, say, on an exam (1,2,3,8)
I AM THE GREATEST: An anagram (failing) of AT HIM, the Latin abbreviation of say (or ‘for instance’), and a (1,4) way of saying an exam

17a    Unable to rise from the canvas surface (3)
OUT: Two meanings, the first related to the theme and the second as in ‘the truth will ***’

19a    See 8a

20a    Showed people responsible for image something hot (6)
PROVEN: The abbreviation for a department of people responsible for image, then something hot in the kitchen

23a    Not 7 you’d pay to see — Spooner’s prohibited witches (8)
HANDBAGS: How spooner would say something meaning ‘prohibited witches’

26a    Army officer restricts lines through focal points (5,4)
MAJOR AXES: An army officer rank plus a word meaning restricts or cuts

28a    Heading for Uni after a long goodbye (5)
ADIEU: The first letter (heading) for Uni comes after A from the clue and a word meaning long or want desperately

29a    See 7d

30a    But for poor Don King beside 2, contender must hit it! (4,4)
BARN DOOR: A word meaning ‘but for’, an anagram (poor) of DON, then the Latin abbreviation for king comes after (beside) the letter described by 2d

31a    Hard sell that executives initially see (6)
STEELY: First letters (initially) of three words in the clue, then our favourite see or cathedral city


1d    Admits recasting is central to … (6)
AMIDST: An anagram (recasting) of ADMITS

2d    … all-father in German operas (3,4)
THE RING: Hidden (central to …), giving a set of Wagner operas

3d/9a Knockout set up by this person in storm of major frenzies? (6,3,7)
SMOKIN’ JOE FRAZIER: The reversal (set up) of the abbreviation for knockout plus a pronoun meaning this person, as in the compiler, goes inside (in) an anagram of (storm of) MAJOR FRENZIES

4d    See 21d

5d    Time the broken urinal’s fixed, man wanting to do one (4,4)
TURN TAIL: The abbreviation for time, then an anagram (broken) of URINAL contains (fixed) THE from the clue, but without (wanting) a pronoun for a man

6d    A number of apostles contemplate their essence? (5)
DOZEN: Split (2,3), the answer means practice a Japanese kind of Buddhism (contemplate their essence)

7d/27d/29a 21 16 vs 3, through fifteen tetchy rounds (3,5,2,3,7)

12d    Foremost of athletes shot past (3)
AGO: The first letter (foremost) of athletes and a shot or turn

15d    With upward movement of current in dry and wet weather, they’ll prevent damp (3-6)
AIR-DRAINS: A 4-letter word meaning dry in which the physics symbol for current moves up one space, plus some wet weather

16d    See 14a

18d    Maniac in a fury boxing learner, so hit below the belt? (8)
UNFAIRLY: An anagram (maniac) of IN A FURY containing (boxing) the abbreviation for learner

21d/4d     New adherent enthrals grand Epicurean school (3,6)
THE GARDEN: An anagram (new) of ADHERENT contains (enthralls) the abbreviation for grand. The capital is import, and the answer forms part of a thematic entry

22d    One’s willing to follow crackpot President (7)
MADISON: The Roman numeral for one together with the ‘S, plus a short word meaning ‘willing to participate, follow a word meaning crackpot or crazy

24d    Was oddly disposed to feed on dripping? (6)
ASWEAT: An anagram (oddly disposed) of WAS plus a word meaning ‘to feed on’

25d    Conservative quits (6)
SQUARE: Two meanings, the first as in ‘old fashioned’, the second as in even

27d    See 7d

I’m gobsmacked by the brilliant clues for ali & frazier & ali vs frazier. Which were your favourites?

34 comments on “Toughie 2608

  1. Very entertaining, the theme certainly helped me to pick up the pace after a sluggish 1st round.

    Just the second half of 5a that I struggled to parse.

    Thanks to Elgar and Dutch.

  2. To say this was too good for me would be a gross understatement. Elgar danced like a butterfly, and I struggled like a muppet

  3. Thank you to Elgar for an entertaining Friday Toughie – with a theme I recognised. My favourite was 23a

  4. Loved this as a big boxing fan. Surprised Dutch gave it five stars for difficulty as this is the first Elgar I have completed. Perhaps my knowledge of the pugilistic art helped me.
    Thanks to Elgar for some great memories and to Dutch for parsing one or two shoe ins.
    Just seen the Nina. I would hope this is underfoot by now for Elgar!

  5. Wonderful. A clever theme, some brilliant clues and a pangram. Against that background, it was a slightly easier solve than it might otherwise have been, with the themed clues being my favourites.

    My thanks and congratulations to Elgar for a highly enjoyable and rewarding challenge, and to Dutch.

    1. a pangram? good lord, missed it, didn’t think to look with a theme – that’s an incredible grid fill!

  6. Another tremendous puzzle from Elgar – thanks to him and Dutch.
    I got the theme fairly on, which was a big help, but didn’t realise until later that this week is the fiftieth anniversary. Where has all that time gone?
    The last clue to parse for me was 5d – I didn’t know the informal meaning of ‘do one’. It doesn’t seem to be in the BRB but Google revealed that it’s an informal request used in NW England meaning ‘go away!’ (short for ‘do a runner’?).
    Most of the clues qualify for a highlights reel – I’ll just mention 20a, 23a, 30a and 22d.

  7. Actually managed nearly all of this, thanks to the recurring theme. Certainly more that yesterday’s Proximal.
    Thanks all

  8. Some of the SE corner defeated me, but the rest seemed less of a challenge than usual with Elgar.
    Thanks to Dutch for the blog which helped parse several where I had no idea…eg 5ac 5d 30ac..etc.
    Can it be 50 years ago? 22,25,4.
    Thanks to Elgar

  9. Very enjoyable and I liked the theme. Also the pangram helped for my last one in which was 25d. Possibly at the milder end of the Toughie spectrum which suits me. 15d had to be what it had to be but it wasn’t in my (old) OED. I don’t usually like Spoonerisms too much but today’s at 23a was my COTD. Happy 50th, Elgar and thanks for the puzzle.

    1. I think the 50th Anniversary is a reference to the 7d fight …

      (I don’t know how old Elgar is)

  10. The first Elgar I’ve ever finished. Having espied the theme early on, I just mainly drew on my memory banks for a great deal of this brilliant puzzle. Parsing many of them is an altogether different matter! I noticed the pangram fairly early, and that helped me also. I got the Spooner easily but still don’t quite understand the allusion to 7, nor have I yet spotted the Nina, but I’ll look again. Thanks very much to Dutch for parsing so many for me, and to Elgar, orchids and huzzahs!

    1. The answer to 23a is an informal word for a sort of minor fracas in rugby – so not a proper fight (7).

    2. i think it’s an unintended Nina – but the first 4 letters in the central row coincientally spell something that has been plaguing Elgar

  11. Apart from the brilliant CS, am I right in thinking all of the above entries are by men? Mr Ali was, by all accounts, a domineering and unpleasant man where women were concerned so I’m not a bit sorry to have been unable to understand this puzzle!

  12. What a great Friday cryptic, enjoyed it from start to finish and the theme helped a lot.

    Many thanks to Elgar and Dutch

  13. Agree with Dutch’s ratings, though if there were higher ones, I’d go for them! The theme certainly helped once I’d twigged. Last one in 24d, a word I have never used nor probably never will, yet it described how I felt after completing this! Thanks to Elgar and Dutch.

  14. Although I can’t stand Boxing, this was a very clever crossword, and didn’t call for any specialist knowledge about the sport, if one can apply this description to an encounter where two people try to inflict as much damage as possible to each other ! (I did like Henry Cooper, though, in my childhood, and we’d sometimes see him helping out at his brother’s greengrocer’s shop in Wembley High Street !) 5d and 23a were my favourite clues, amongst many good ones. About the same level of difficulty as ProXimal yesterday, so a suitably challenging end to the week. Thanks Elgar and Dutch !

  15. I’m amazed that I finished this as Elgar usually leaves me stumped and I know next to nothing about boxing! A good end to Toughie week. 👍

  16. The first Elgar in a long, long time (if ever) that I’ve solved in relatively quick time and no resort to the hints. Fantastic fun, with great clues and no real obscure answers (though I had to guess that 15 Down were a thing; never heard of them). Thanks, all

  17. Thanks to Elgar and to Dutch for the review and hints. I enjoyed this one very much. Makes a pleasant, if rare, change to be able to get into an Elgar puzzle. I was helped by the theme, even though I’m not a boxing fan, but I did follow 8&19a back in the day. Needed the hints for 3,15,22d. Favourite was 23a. Was 3* /5* for me.

  18. This puzzle had two features that I like least: multi-worded answers scattered about the grid and clues that cannot be answered before solving other clues. That said, I completed it with recourse to BRB for only 26a and 15d. The theme helped. I am no fan of boxing but remembered enough to see where it was leading. I chuckled when I saw the link between 22d, 25d and 4d. Having worked out the Spoonerism in 23a, I looked in vain for ‘at dawn’!

  19. Yes!! First Elgar we’ve ever finished. Thanks to all concerned. I need to lie down now for a week.

  20. A tremendous puzzle and a great joy to solve Thank you Elgar. My only query was 24d where asweat does not appear in my Chambers dictionary. It would be perfect if set out as 1.5 rather than 6. Thanks to Dutch for the parsing of 5a which was the only one to escape me. The pangram was obvious but is the nina Madison Square Garden (s)? 22d,25d,4d. COTD was 23a

  21. Wow. An Elgar completed in a time I’d be happy to do a back-pager. Got lucky guessing the catchphrase, and that made the linked clues fairly obvious (well, more the answers, parsing was another matter). And the rest, though cleverly done, were much more accessible than usual. Thanks to Elgar and Dutch

  22. 4*/5*…..thanks to Dutch for the entertaining blog…
    would not have spotted the connection between the three down clues if they had not been mentioned in the comments, but, like Mac, thought of “at dawn” for the Spoonerism.

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