Toughie 2648 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 2648

Toughie No 2648 by Elgar

Hints and tips by Dutch

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

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

A tricky puzzle, hopefully the pangram and the 27/28 combination helped your solve.

Please leave a comment telling us what you thought.

Through shimmering haze, suss a rich source of wisdom (9)

ZECHARIAH: Inside (through) an anagram (shimmering) of HAZE, we have an anagram (suss, as in suspect) of A RICH


8a     Don‘s pressing the snooze button to the left? (3,2)

PUT ON: A reversal (to the left) describing someone who isn’t quite awake


10a     Wham!‘s piano not initially needed in Cornwall local (6)

KERPOW: Take the local name for Cornwall and insert the abbreviation for piano instead of (not) the first letter (initially) of needed



11a     Anagram Bible snatcher not in the crossword game! (8)

SCRABBLE: An anagram (anagram) of BIBLE SNATCHER but omitting (not) IN THE


12a     Absence felt as cherished mother wings away (6)

DEARTH: A 4-letter word for cherished plus ‘mother’ with the outer 4 letters removed (wings away)


14a     Ending fast early, what about … this? (6)

QUICHE: A 5-letter word for fast or rapid without the last letter (ending … early), plus a reversed (about) exclamation meaning ‘what?’


16a     Use love where Christians place trust? (4)

GOOD: Put the letter that looks like a score of love/zero ‘where Christians place trust’ (2,3). Definition as in ‘it’s no use to me’

17a     For fermentation of Beaujolais, I present this lady as OBE (5)

JULIA: An anagram of (fermentation of) BEAUJOLAIS presents the answer plus “AS OBE”

18a     Can’t we tell who this singer is from behind? (4)

DION: This Canadian singer (or alternatively DiMucci of Runaround Sue fame) when read backwards (from behind) and split (2,2) might suggest a reason we can’t tell who (s)he is

19a     Actor Paul (unlike actor Gary!) a reformed character (6)

NEWMAN: Split (3,3), this actors surname suggests a reformed character (as opposed to the surname of actor Gary, which is the opposite)



21a     Well, now! (6)

SPRING: Two meanings, the second seasonal

24a     The Sun, say, apparently unable to move father’s home? (8)

VICARAGE: We have a cheap newspaper (1,3) apparently unable to move (2,4) – where the first word is the containment indicator, i.e., inside a tool that prevents movement

26a/3d      Dunce in art class presenting ‘Chest of Future Bride‘?! (6,6)

BOTTOM DRAWER: Where a future bride would keep all her articles for use after marriage. A dunce in art class would be the lowest sketcher, shall we say


27a     Dramatist succeeded: your compiler’s in business! (5)

SIMON: The abbreviation for succeeded, How Elgar would say ‘your compiler is’ (1’1), and a short word meaning ‘in business’ or working


28a     Art and rhythmic music by ‘Nimrod’ man on a loop (9)

GARFUNKEL: A 4-letter word for rhythmic music (not rock) followed by the composer of the Enigma variation called Nimrod: then ‘loop’ the last three letters to the front




Saintly individual finishes off top fare at Safe Harbour (5)

PETER: Last letters of (finishes off) the last five words in the clue

2d     Keep watch over son, knowing woman’s set on daughter (8)

SHEPHERD: The abbreviation for son, a 3-letter word meaning knowing, a pronoun meaning woman’s and the abbreviation for daughter

3d See 26a

4d     Selection of music at school show (4)

CATS: Hidden (selection of … )


5d     Born in hushed capital city (6)

MUMBAI: The abbreviation for born goes in between a word meaning hushed or silent, and two characters meaning capital or excellent


6d     No notice for adult who’s done for infringement (4,5)

FOUL THROW: An anagram (‘s done for) of FOR (ad)ULT WHO – without the AD (no notice)


9d     South African brainpower cracks first half of Guardian cryptic (6)

GRIQUA: A 2-letter abbreviation that measures your brainpower is inserted into (cracks) an anagram (cryptic) of the first half of GUAR(dian)

13d     Short vacation? Essentially, Jamie’s occupying flats near river (5)

HOLMS: A colloquial contraction (short) for vacation has the middle letter (essentially) of Jamie inserted (occupying)

15d     In five, could it be doctor’s calling? (4,5)

HOME VISIT: A 4-letter word meaning ‘in’ as opposed to out on the town, the Roman numeral for five, and a (2,2) phrase meaning ‘could it be?’

17d     Can you tell me – roughly speaking – USA’s most northerly state capital? (6)

JUNEAU: A homophone (roughly speaking) of a question that means ‘Can you tell me?’


18d     Just like devoted couple to stage an upcoming charitable activity (8)

DONATING: A word describing how a devoted couple might be contains (to stage) a reversal (upcoming) of AN from the clue

20d     Commotion with gull circling field next to river (6)

MEADOW: A 3-letter word for commotion or fuss goes inside (with … circling) another word for a gull bird



22d     What repels an aficionado of Scripture? (6)

REBUFF: Split (2,4), the answer becomes a big fan of scripture lessons

23d     Turned up churchyard feature belonging to Du Maurier’s home (5)

FOWEY: A reversal (Turned up) of a tree characteristic of church yards plus a preposition meaning ‘belonging to’

25d     Paper cross worn by one closing coffee morning (4)

EXAM: The letter that looks like a cross goes inside (worn by) the last letter of (one closing) coffee and a Latin abbreviation for morning


All good clues – they look a lot easier in retrospect but gave me quite a struggle. 10a made me chuckle and the answer I wanted led me to the local name for Cornwall, which I didn’t know. My favourite is the 27/28 combination, where both clues were plenty challenging. Which clues did you like?

21 comments on “Toughie 2648

  1. I enjoyed this. Needed the hints to parse 10a. Favourites were 24a and 28a. Thanks to Dutch and Elgar.

  2. Elgar in fine form this week – a proper brain-mangling Toughie which I thoroughly enjoyed.

    I liked all the references to Elgar’s home county, particularly 10a. I did notice the pangram and the 27/28 link

    Thanks very much to Elgar and Dutch

  3. This was certainly a mighty struggle but an enjoyable one. Thanks to Elgar and Dutch (I didn’t even notice the pangram).
    I knew both Cornish references but I’d not heard of the minor prophet (has Elgar been borrowing Mr Manley’s Big Book of Religious Obscurities?), the South African or the riverside flatlands.
    I’m not sure about ‘wings away’ in 12a requiring us to remove two letters rather than one from each end of ‘mother’.
    I ticked 26/3, 28a and 15d but my favourite was the very clever 19a.

  4. Electronic assistance and some guesswork led eventually to completion.
    After 7ac I was looking for the pangram which helped for example with 24ac which I enjoyed even more with Dutch’s help.
    10ac isn’t in the BRB and Cornish knowledge deficiency didn’t help.
    Still compared with a few seasons ago, I now look forward to Elgar Fridays rather than dreading them.
    Gale force winds have blown away any guilt about sitting for too long struggling with it.

  5. I always struggle more with Elgar than any other setter. Once again I didn’t manage to finish without a little help.
    Whilst the answer was obvious to 16ac was obvious I fail to understand the clueing. I also found the clueing to 28a rather inadequate.
    As to 15d – what an anachronism! Surely, the last Doctor who could be bothered to make home visits was called Shipman?

      1. Yes, of course I understand that. Its ‘use’ as a synonym of good that I don’t get.

  6. So the definition for QUICHE (14a) is “this”?
    For 14a “Well, now” my first thought was BETTER.

    1. 14a, yes, technically since the rest is wordplay – but the whole clue provides an extended hint

  7. Another wasted morning! I did manage about 5. I was pleased to unscramble both 11 and 17a but 17d made me wince. And tell me, has anyone heard of Griqualand?

  8. I found that fairly brutal but immensely satisfying to complete. Naturally I missed the pangram, got the singers ok, and slogged my way through the rest. 10 and 11a were particular favourites.

    My thanks to Elgar for the considerable challenge and to Dutch.

  9. Needed the hints to get the last three.
    Learned quite a few things during the solve such as why there’s a yew tree in every churchyard, what a mew gull looks like (and not just the plane), who those South Africans were and a bit of the bible with Zechariah.
    Even thought that there was a famous learned woman called Hepher in 2d but could only find a man.
    Quite a pleasant experience.
    Favourite 19a.
    Thanks to Elgar and to Dutch for the help.

  10. I found this a properly tough Friday Toughie, and certainly needed some of the hints to complete, but it was very much a puzzle of two halves for me – one half (ok, slightly more than a half) immensely satisfying, crafty, well constructed, devilish clues, the other (less than) half excessively obtuse or with synonyms stretched beyond breaking point, or simply not ticking my boxes. I briefly thought of Ferryside and Menabily for 23d until realising it was a town that was required rather than her home. The puzzle also felt rather dated / old fashioned, I’m afraid. Having said that, 26a/3d and 17a were my nominations for the podium.

    Thanks to Elgar & especially to Dutch for the hints.

  11. Well, on a miserable Tarporley after noon spent a considerable time solving Mr Elgar’s puzzle in conjunction with Mrs B,
    As usual a real toughie or really a Toughie plus today-a ******/***** for me.
    Last in was 23d and admit that I had to look up where the Du Maurier’s home was located.
    Quite a few nostalgia moments, Mr Newman shares my birthday,4d was the first musical that I saw in London-and still one of my favourites ,remember seeing the Andy Warhol exhibition in the national museum many years ago and the jet fighters were shooting down the enemy with shouts of Kerpow! – is 18a the lead singer of the Belmonts or is it the first name of the songstress ?
    Anyway cracking experience-look forward to the next meeting with my nemesis.

  12. Got there in the end. Note to self ‘bottom is not spelled with an e’. That would have got me over the finish line without having to sleep on it.

  13. A typical Elgar in my opinion – some impenetrable clues where you have to guess the word before you can parse it and others that seem so obvious that, being Elgar, you think that you must have got them wrong.

  14. Elgar at his brilliant best. I needed Dutch’s hints for 6d and 18d which i had not heard of before. Not impressed by the homophone for 17d.
    COTD 28a

  15. Elgar at his brilliant best. I used Dutch’s hints for 6d and 18d which i had not heard of before. Not impressed by the homophone for 17d.
    COTD 28a

  16. Pleased that I managed half of this. But had Kernow instead of Kerpow as didn’t read the clue properly. It took me a good while to realise that good can mean use so sympathise with Bertie. Always a fan of the bottom drawer!

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