Toughie 2632 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 2632

Toughie No 2632 by Elgar

Hints and tips by Dutch

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

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

A very English puzzle to celebrate today

Please leave a comment telling us what you thought.


1a    With onset of spring, year’s going to flourish — date to get involved (5,7,3)
SAINT GEORGE’S DAY: The first letter (onset) of spring, then an anagram (to flourish) of YEAR’S GOING + DATE (to get involved)

9a    Not long after twist, we play out Midsomer Murders (9)
THEREMINS: A (5,4) phrase for a short while in which two adjacent letters are swapped (after twist). These instruments play the theme of Midsomer Murders

10a    One often seen with Elton at openings, performing in a Northern orchestra (5)
PIANO: First letters (at openings … )

11a/12a No danger here? Empty threat? Distorted picture (5,3,6)
ENTER THE DRAGON: An anagram (distorted) of NO DANGER HERE + TT (empty threat)

13a    Bob’s Greasy Spoon — time-honoured location for builders (8)
SCAFFOLD: The abbreviation for Bob, as in the coin, an informal word for a greasy spoon as in a place to eat, and a 3-letter word meaning time-honoured

14a    What shredded parts of Downland areas? (6)
SWATHE: An anagram (shredded) of WHAT is inserted into (parts) the abbreviation for south-eastern (‘of Downland areas’).

16a    With spirits low, CAMRA finally quits Olympia, sadly (6)
MOPILY: An anagram (sadly) of OLYMPI(a) with the last letter (finally) of CAMRA left out (quits)

18a    Some Spoonerish back-slappery? John Bull may wear it today (5,3)
PARTY HAT: A spoonerism of some (6,3) back-slappery

22a    Not even James Bond backs engaging criminal to hunt for burial site (6,3)
SUTTON HOO: The spelled-out spy-number for James Bond (but without (not) EVEN) is reversed (backs) and contains (engaging) an anagram (criminal) of TO HUNT

23a    Picnickers in woods surprisingly clipped our Eagle? (5)
EDDIE: Some 7-letter picnickers you might be surprised to see in the woods today, without the outer letters (clipped) to give us a local legend

24a    Mixing a G’n’T, I like Tim Peake’s habit when coming down! (4-1)
ANTI-G: An anagram (mixing) of A G’N’T I

25a    Anthem ahead of Lord’s Test? Passing round fine beer, newly heartening jingoism (9)
JERUSALEM: A reversal (passing round) of a word meaning fine (as in agreed) plus another word for beer replace the central letters of (newly heartening) JingoisM from the clue. This is sung at the beginning of England cricket tests

26a    Harrods to take one hard look following conduct in vocal exchange (10,5)
DEPARTMENT STORE: A word for a hard look comes after (following) a word for conduct, then swap two vowels (in vocal exchange, remembering vocal also means ‘of vowel’


1d    Elgar & Co? They’re not all English but they may all be barking (7)
SETTERS: Two meanings, the second canine

2d    Doctor medicated, peeled lemon infusion? (4,3)
ICED TEA: An anagram (doctor, as an imperative verb) of (m)EDICATE(d) without the outer letters (peeled)

3d    Three headers from Fleetwood Town old guard compound this dip in new form (3,6,6)
THE ARTFUL DODGER: An anagram (compound … in new form) of THREE + FT (headers from Fleetwood Town) + OLD GUARD

4d    Religious letter about York’s top architectural structure (8)
EPISTYLE: A religious letter contains (about) the first letter (top) of York

5d    In your full English, one ____ or two? (More ill-advised) (6)
RASHER: Two meanings, the first a fill-the-blank breakfast item

6d    A singer entertains Wimbledon’s gate in verses, on occasion flanked by partners who were court specialists (6,9)
EXPERT WITNESSES: This is a reference to Cliff (with backing singers Navratilova & co) leading the Wimbledon crowd on that rainy day. A 3-letter word meaning ‘a’ (as in ‘a head’), a 3-letter songbird containing the first letter (gate) of Wimbledon, and the odd letters (on occasion) of ‘in verses’, all contained (flanked) by a 4-letter word for ‘partners who were’. Quite a hefty parse, which I had made more difficult for myself by finding some bridge partners

7d    Checker with Guardian back catalogues? (7)
DRAUGHT: Reverse hidden ( … back catalogues, where ‘catalogues’ is a verb)

8d    ‘Queer old Dean’ and case of under-secretary’s capital (7)
YAOUNDE: An anagram (queer) of the abbreviation O(ld) + DEAN + UY (case, i.e. outer letters of under-secretary). ‘Queer old Dean’ is of course a quote from the great Rev Spooner raising a glass to Her Majesty “Three cheers for our Queer old Dean!”. And it’s Cameroon

15d    Sustaining the party between Ed and Jezza, perhaps, can I get beaten? (8)
TABOURIN: The 6-letter party referred to would have been leaderless at this time, leaving us with 5 letters, that another word for can is containing (sustaining)

16d    Possibly murderous Colonel curses full lifts — what’s with his beef? (7)
MUSTARD: Wordplay and two definitions, the first referring to a popular board game. A reversal (lifts) of a 4-letter word for ‘curses’ and a 3-letter word for full

17d    Where Lewis goes to change line-up? It’s to plain clothes (3,4)
PIT STOP: Ah, so it’s not Lewis the detective! Hidden ( … clothes)


19d    No Englishman abroad, spending year in holidaying wildly (7)
HIDALGO: An anagram (wildly) of HOLIDA(yin)G without (spending) the abbreviation for year and IN

20d    What’s said to comfort my mum, taking a dip here in Aquae Sulis? (7)
THERMAE: A 5-letter word that is said to comfort, into which a word for my mum is inserted (taking a dip)

21d    Her Majesty’s right — yes! — to party with these mods (3,3)
THE JAM: HER MAJESTY is given by an anagram (to party) of the abbreviation R(ight) + YES +(with) the answer

I enjoyed 1d, thinking yes, that is probably true. I also liked the clever hidden for 17d. Which were your favourites?

24 comments on “Toughie 2632

  1. I thought this was a very fine Elgar Friday Toughie – it wasn’t as difficult as some (the last couple of mouthfuls of tea in my breakfast mug were still at a nice temperature when I’d finished solving) and a very enjoyable solve throughout. I marked lots of clues for favouritism, including 9a 13a, 1d, 5d and 16d but my top favourite was 23a

    Thanks very much to Elgar and Dutch

  2. Getting the top and bottom rows quickly gave me a sense of hope that this might be less tricky than the usual Elgar puzzle. What lay between those two rows soon dashed that expectation. I enjoyed the joust with Elgar though the puzzle has an excessive number of anagrams (11) which does tend to dilute the pleasure for me. Thanks to Elgar and to Dutch for the review.
    My ticks went to 23a, 25a, 26a, 15d and 17d.

  3. My usual result with an. Elgar…just about a third solved despite having 1a as a give. I would have got more had I been able to parse them. 12a was a case in point. Could only think of Anne Boleyn in this context so dismissed it. Another red herring was “ Lily the Pink” sung by The Scaffold. What diverse paths we are led down!
    When I’m stuck with a General Knowledge clue, I’ve been going to site called DanWord. I was disconcerted to find today that they actually listed all the answers to this puzzle. What sort of fun is that?

    1. I have been aware of DanWord for years … but I still have no idea how they do it?

      How do they do it?

    2. Yes agree, I’ve noticed that some of these sites include clues/answers from same day in their data base. Surely it would be easy to delay a day, or a week even. We should suggest

  4. Started off briskly in the SW quadrant and a steady solve from there on, agree with CSue that this puzzle was not as difficult as some, but difficult enough .
    Last in was 15d and not in my list of drums in Chambers which did not help-the ‘in’ at the end was missing from one that was.
    Anyway lots of imaginative clues ,even liked the spoonerism.
    9d was new and took a bit of finding.
    Favourites 22a and 16d-remembered my Cludo!
    Thanks to Dutch and Elgar.

  5. Thanks to Elgar for time consuming toughie, the SE of which had four gaps, so I gave up!
    With much electronic assistance the rest fell into place but without your assistance Dutch I had no idea of some 6d.15d, and others.
    I liked the hidden 7 and 17d which helped to get a foothold, but 24ac seemed a bit desperate.
    Does Elgar ever pop in here?

  6. Came up short on 9a and struggled with the parsing of 6d. Very enjoyable and time consuming. Thanks to Elgar and Dutch.

  7. Having found the back pager today a less than enjoyable slog, this Elgar was the opposite. Amusing, realatively straightforwardly solved and some chuckle-out-loud clues. Not often I can get an Elgar done in the same day it’s started, let alone the same reasonably brief session.

    3.5* / 4*

    It helped that the long framework clues (1a, 11/12a, 26a, 3d and 6d) all fell into place quite swiftly, and while I couldn’t fully parse some clues (6d, 9a, 22a) I was confident that they were right and gratefully read Dutch’s review afterwards for the explanations.

    Not being a great fan of spoonerisms rarely helps with an Elgar, but today I felt I was close to – maybe even parallel with – his wavelength, and found this a really enjoyable puzzle. Particularly enjoyed 13, 22, 25 & 26a; 1 and 3d.

    Many thanks to Elgar & Dutch.


  8. Finished after a fairly long haul, although the Englishness theme running through it certainly helped the solving process. A couple of the parsings still elude me, despite Dutch’s excellent tips, but I shall work on them now. I got 23a quite early and that proved to be my favourite.

    My thanks as always to Elgar for a great challenge, and to Dutch.

  9. I really thought that I would finish my first ever “Elgar” (often only get a few words!) but was defeated by 9A and 15D. Very enjoyable though and a real challenge almost achieved. Thanks to the setter & blogger.

  10. I have very rarely, if ever, managed to get onto Elgar’s wavelength. Even when I know the answer I just groan.
    Not for me.

  11. When solving an Elgar, I always start with the anagrams, that is if I spot them and manage to pick the right fodder, and must admit that today it did help enormously.
    Had to check the movie, the spelling of 15d, the skier Eddie Eagle, the architectural feature and the descent in 24a. The rest was known.
    Needed help to parse 26a.
    Every clue is worth a mention.
    Thanks to Elgar and to Dutch.

  12. 1d is unfair to those of us who do these puzzles via the Telegraph puzzles website, I think. Elgar meant nothing to me apart from the composer as we are not told who the setter is.

    1. On the telegraph puzzles site, there is a tab called The Knowledge, click on that and then Toughie Setters.

      You’ll also find the list of the week’s Toughie setters on the right hand side of this blog’s home page

  13. Despite this one being very UK-centric we did particularly well and completed it in a reasonable time. Maybe it was the plethora of anagrams that helped.
    Thanks Elgar and Dutch.

  14. I very rarely even attempt Toughies, but after my ghastly experience with the back pager today I thought I would give this one a go…..and did not too badly. Only needed the hints for a few and enjoyed the clues that I solved.
    Thanks to Dutch and to Elgar

  15. I regularly attempt the Elgar (generally without much success) as I find the quality of the clues second to none and the satisfaction from each solve is delightful. Surprisingly I managed to complete the majority of this and ended up needing Dutch’s help for the last half dozen. Thoroughly enjoyable, thanks to Elgar and Dutch.

  16. Having failed miserably with Elgar two weeks ago, I was struggling again with this one. But I put it aside while I did the i (never heard of ND, by the way) and came back to it today and finished it. Struggled with the parsing of 6d, 15d, and 21d, but that’s not bad for me with JH.

  17. I always save Elgar for Sunday when I can thoroughly enjoy it without a feeling of guilt. Today’s was at his usual level of deviousness and, as such, enormously enjoyable. The only defeat was 15d – tabourin to me is a low stool!

  18. If the Telegraph crosswords were drinks they would range from lager shandy to meths.I think Elgar is more meths.Sometimes I just give up and exclaim get a girl friend ! But he is so fiendishly clever so I keep coming back.Solved about half of this one which is .good for me.

  19. I completed around three quarters of this toughie. The SE quarter had a number of holes in it which even Dutch’s excellent guidance did not lead to an immediate solution. COTD’s were 3d,4d and 11a. a real tough challenge thanks to Elgar

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