Toughie 2624 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 2624

Toughie No 2624 by Elgar

Hints and tips by Dutch

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

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

A good challenge From Elgar with plenty of entry points and a few laughs

Please leave a comment telling us what you thought.


1a    Overthrow personal challenge that’s put forward (4,4)
BEAR DOWN: A 3-letter word meaning personal, with a word meaning to challenge or to oppose resolutely coming first (that’s put forward)

5a    The collective IQ’s not high, for starters (3,3)
DIM SUM: Read differently, the answer could be a stupid total

10a    The cut does individually supply a fair return? (4,3,4,4)
BANG FOR ONE’S BUCK: A hairstyle an Australian female (named after female deer – well, just one of them – individually) supply for their male partner. Or if you prefer just think deer.

11a    So hand catches head and misses Oscar? (7)
LASSOES: This is how (so) a ranch hand catches a head of cattle, and the answer is also the indicator for how another word for ‘misses’ captures the letter with radio code Oscar

12a    Just like Humpty Dumpty to clear everything away from wall? (7)
OVOIDAL: Remove the outer letters (away from wall) from a (2,4,3) phrase meaning ‘to clear everything’

13a    ‘Not guilty’? Hammered chap’s imbibed an excess! (8)
PLETHORA: What ‘not guilty’ is an example of (?) contains (‘s imbibed) a hammered chap

15a    Drink first in opera-house, ahead of very famous ballet (5)
KIROV: A blackcurrant-based drink, the first letter in opera-house and the abbreviation of very

18a    Is someone lookin’ for him in the auditorium? (5)
HAYDN: If someone is lookin’ for him, he must be (a homophone of, in the auditorium) *****’, a la Priti Patel. Auditorium also provides a musical context, so the whole clue is the definition

20a    When this goes wild Granny Smith makes Mr S jumpy! (8)
ANYTHING: Without the letters in the answer (when this goes), an anagram (wild) of GRANNY SMITH gives an anagram (jumpy) or Mr S. Substitute the answer into ‘this’ to makes sense of this amusing clue

23a    I’m after an involvement with altar (7)
MARITAL: Expand to I AM and the definition becomes clearer. An anagram ( … after an involvement with … ) of I’M + ALTAR

25a    Failure to screen Zulu and The Queen, making a difference to summer (3-4)
NON-ZERO: A (2-2) failure goes around (to screen) the letter with radio code Zulu plus the abbreviation for The Queen

26a    E3 … here artist croaked, and here crock lies (3,2,3,7)
END OF THE RAINBOW: A crock full of gold. Split the last word of the answer (2,2,3) to understand the wordplay, and then you’ll realise what E3 refers to

27a    Athletic is taken over on Jan 1? (6)
SINEWY: A reversal (taken over) of IS from the clue, then a (3,1) description of Jan 1 (with the second part being an abbreviation)

28a    Lord about to operate locomotives, scoring the same two points out of six (8)
SEIGNEUR: A reversal (about) of a (3,7) phrase that would mean ‘to operate locomotives’, then, of the six possible compass points you see, scratch (scoring) two that are the same


1d/17d     Physical devices — two things I’ve been stuck into of late! (6,8)
BUBBLE CHAMBERS: A broad definition, but Elgar has been stuck into two things recently: one is a group of people arising from COVID restrictions, the other is a dictionary since he is a compiler!


2d    Fair game in more senses than one, relatively speaking? (4,5)
AUNT SALLY: More than one sense of fair, and the name of the game involves a relative

3d    Dorset resorts — fine breaks we look to after winter (7)
DEFROST: An anagram (re-sorts) of DORSET into which the abbreviation for fine inserts (breaks)

4d    See 9d

6d    Mark from the newsroom stores beds up for purchase (2,5)
IN STOCK: To mark with a dark liquid as you might in a newsroom, containing (stores) a reversal (up) of some children’s beds

7d    One shilling, then twenty times more animals (5)
SQUID: The abbreviation for shilling in our old currency, plus a slang word for some money worth twenty times as much

8d/22d Choose the hippy type of action? (4,4,3,3)
MAKE LOVE NOT WAR: A flower-power slogan involving some “hippy action” far more preferable than the military sort! A great play on “hippy”!

9d/4d Rearrange minor downs, say — getting across answer, very briefly? (2,2,4,5)
IN SO MANY WORDS: An anagram (rearrange) of MINOR DOWNS SAY

14d/25d That shows cheek, lip and neck from dendrite to axon! (2,3,3,5)
OF ALL THE NERVE: A 2-letter preposition meaning from, then what in the body is described (3,3,5) by ‘dendrite to axon’

16d    As surfaces of labware may be with brine? (9)
RINSEABLE: An anagram ( … may be with … ) of AS + outer letters (surfaces) of L(abwar)E + BRINE

17d    See 1d

19d    Several compilers rolling over from Australia? (3,1,3)
NOT A FEW: A reversal (from Australia?) of a plural personal pronoun for people like Elgar, a word for rolling (in money) and a preposition meaning over

21d    Money’s split up on The Chase (7)
HUNTING: A slang word meaning money inserted into (split) a word meaning up as in suspended (like a painting on a wall, rather than anything macabre!)

22d    See 8d

24d    Managed to contain party element (5)
RADON: A verb meaning managed to contain a word meaning party

25d    See 14d

Clear favourite today for me is 8d/22d. Loads of great clues. I remain stunned at how all the all-in-one clues just seem to come naturally to Elgar. Which are your favourites?

33 comments on “Toughie 2624

  1. Well…finished with electronic assistance.
    13ac and 28ac were impenetrable until reading Dutch and 11ac needed some explanation too.
    Are they getting any easier or maybe after all these years I’m beginning to get there!
    Thanks to both.

  2. Glad to finish it correctly even though I hadn’t a clue how to parse some of them. 14d and 25d being a good example. Great fun though.
    Many thanks to Dutch for explaining my answers and to Elgar for the entertainment.

  3. My impossible to solve clues were 11a, 28a and 16d.
    I really liked 8 and 22d, and 14 and 25d.
    Thanks to Dutch and Elgar.
    Sad about Prince Phillip. I’m wondering how H+M will upstage the funeral.

  4. The usual fortnightly enjoyable brainstretcher from Elgar – thanks to him and Dutch.
    I didn’t know there was an Australian meaning to 10a – thanks to Dutch for that.
    The clues I liked best were 5a, 11a, 13a and 26a.

  5. One of those Elgar’s where, if you didn’t have an appointment to get to, you’d have popped off to a darkened room for a bit of a lie down. I never did work out what was going on with 28a, I just wrote in the word I knew for the lord

    My favourites are the same as Gazza with 26a taking top spot

  6. A proper challenge today with some lovely touches and humour. A couple of the parsings eluded me but Dutch has sorted those out for me. Trying to pick a favourite is virtually impossible, but I will go for the 8/22d combo. Sad news indeed about Prince Philip; he has been a fixture in our lives for all of our lives. Quite remarkable.

    My sincere thanks to Elgar for a terrific tussle and to Dutch.

  7. Wow that was tough, but fun. The first read through revealed a first – not a clue! But having got one, the others slowly fell into place. I am glad puzzles are not this hard every day!

  8. Needed Dutch to finish.
    Couldn’t get into the NW corner as I couldn’t see the first word of 1a and 1d, 2d and 10 and 11 across. At point I thought the latter might be Nelsons.
    Mind you my first idea for 1d was Pyjama Trousers… poor Elgar. The J came as Just might be the first word of the expression in 10a.
    26a was a bit of a bung in, so thanks for the explanations.
    All in all, quite a head scratcher but always pleasant.
    Thanks to Elgar and again to Dutch.

  9. Well after completing yesterdays **** toughie from Serpent I suspected that today would be my ***** nemesis Mr Elgar and I was not disappointed!
    Managed to eventually parse the clues in conjunction with Mrs B and did not quite return to Crypticsue’s darkened room complete with bar.
    Favourite clue was 1/17d, very topical , I liked Jean- luc Chevals bung in even more-quite brilliant and woke me up.
    Last in was 25a which was of course new to me, assume the summer was a mathmatician or similar ,for some reason Zulu was my mothers favourite film-I had a hard upbringing.
    Anyway never quite sure of the enjoyment rating, the satisfaction rating is *****.

  10. We got there in the end but don’t know how – What an odd mindset! Needed the hint to parse 11a. Thanks for that.

  11. Needed a couple of hints to unlock the NW. Still not the foggiest on the parsing for 28a. Looks like Elgar has cranked it back up.

    Thanks to Elgar and Dutch.

    1. RUN ENGINES backwards gives you SENIGNENUR – then remove two N’s to get SEIGNEUR (two the same out of six (compass) points)

  12. Managed about a third on my own, another third with the help of various electronic aids, and then gave up. Above my current paygrade I’m afraid. Hats off to Dutch and thanks to Elgar for helping me explore several dead-ends.

  13. Beaten by six, but pleased to have got so far unaided.
    I’ll have a closer look at the hints tomorrow.
    Thanks to Dutch and Elgar

  14. Beaten by 6 too. As far as I’ve ever made it with Elgar, though. I still can’t work out the E3 in ‘rainbow’. Can someone enlighten me? Actually finished yesterday’s Toughie, but this one was in another dimension altogether. Thanks to Dutch for helping me finish it and to Elgar for the workout.

  15. As usual I found it impossible to get on to Elgar’s wavelength – even when the answers are supplied! I always groan mentally when I see his name at the top.
    I salute anyone who completes them unaided.

    1. In australia, good-lucking swaggering macho young men are called bucks and the corresponding ladies are does. Which I happen to know from friends returning from holidays, but can’t see in the dictionaries, hence the comment about just thinking deer if you wish.

      bang for fringe is in chambers (originally american)

      1. Thanks Dutch, I was so ‘Elgared’ by the time I came to try parsing my last one that I didn’t even notice does in the clue. Duh!

  16. After poring over the clues yesterday, for what seemed like an eternity, I managed about four answers – or, more correctly, guesses. Tried again this morning and added a few more guesses but then became extremely frustrated with myself and succumbed to the blog! Deciding that this was way above my job description, I can only congraulate Elgar on an excellent but very difficult puzzle and be in awe of those who completed it – well done! I need to up my game for next time!

  17. Wow! Whilst I got most of the answers correctly parsing them was another matter altogether. Despite Dutch’s guidance i an still nonplussed by 20a. My favourites were 18a ,how elegant and 14/25d. Thanks to Elgar for the teasing clues.and Dutch

  18. Wow! Whilst I got most of the answers correctly parsing them was another matter altogether. Despite Dutch’s guidance i an still nonplussed by 20a. My favourites were 18a ,how elegant and 14/25d. Thanks to Elgar for the teasing clues.

    1. When ‘this’ goes wild Granny Smith makes Mr S jumpy (8)
      answer ‘this’=anything

      When anything (this) goes, wild Granny Smith makes Mr S Jumpy

      an anagram (wild) of GRANNY SMITH minus ANYTHING (when … goes ) leaves an anagram (jumpy) of MR S

      arguably, one could simply underline ‘this’ as the definition – the whole clue is wordplay

  19. I still don’t get 1 across. I note, too that at least one solver online has Beat Down.

    Could anyone clarify please?


    1. You’ve changed your alias, both this one and the previous should work in future

      BEARD (to challenge/oppose resolutely or with effrontery) OWN (personal)

    2. the answer has to satisfy both definition and the cryptic wordplay. Whereas you might argue BEAT DOWN could satisfy the definition, I don’t see how it could satisfy the wordplay – clearly not the right answer. Whereas BEARD + OWN works nicely as CS mentioned

  20. Finally, finally finished. 5* / 1.5*. Too young to have been a hippy, I found this not so much a labour of love as a war of attrition.

    Some cracking clues (13a,20a,27a, 8d/22d, 16d) and others which for me just didn’t work, in particular 1d/17d – with the clue bearing so little (no) relation to the answer it was more a question of finding what two words fitted the checking letters and made sense as a phrase.

    Onwards and upwards – tackling the Toughies is steadily improving my general solving ability!

    Many thanks to Dutch for the parsing and for a couple of hints, and to Elgar.


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