Toughie 2664 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 2664

Toughie No 2664 by Elgar

Hints and tips by Dutch

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

No theme or Nina today, though we have a number of clues that offer some feel-good life advice.

Please leave a comment telling us what you think


1a Song and dance about reflective Rashford’s transfer tweet? (6,6)
HAKUNA MATATA: A New Zealand ceremonial war dance goes around (about) a reversal (reflective) of a (2,2,3,1) short message Rashford might give on transferring out of his team

8a Apparently ready for release of empire’s supreme ruler (5)
INCAN: Split (2,3), the answer describes a film apparently ready for release. The name of an ancient South American civilization is also the name of its ruler (see Chambers)

9a Singers being heard in court, one delayed (9)
CONTRALTI: If someone is being ‘heard’ (in court), they are (2,5). Put that inside the abbreviation for court, and delay the one by moving it to the end

11a 14 heading over to assist farm girl (9)
DAIRYMAID: The answer to 14 represents a large number. Reverse another word for a large number (heading over), and add a 3-letter word meaning assist

12a Inordinately easy start to Toughie? Till now! (2,3)
AS YET: An anagram (inordinately) of EASY plus the first letter (start) of Toughie

13a Composer‘s one piece of work covered by Ireland retrospective (4,5)
ERIK SATIE: A reversal (retrospective) of another name for Ireland covering the Roman numeral for one plus a bit of work or a chore. A misleading reference to the composer John Ireland

16a Nothing pleasant, alone in pen? (2,3)
ON ICE: The letter that looks like zero plus a 4-letter word for pleasant. Pen as in penitentiary or jail.

18a Lake resort near Spain – it’s lovely visiting (5)
TAHOE: A 2-letter word that can mean near plus the IVR code for Spain has an exclamation meaning “it’s lovely” inserted (visiting)

19a Look at that set of numbers, each describing ratings that have gone down? (4,2,3)
LOST AT SEA: Ratings as in sailors. A 2-letter word meaning ‘look at that’, a word describing a set of numbers, plus the abbreviation for each

20a Is out of food, hot and cold (5)
CHILL: Remove ‘IS’ from some hot ingredients

22a My word for doggie barking (4,5)
GOOD GRIEF: An anagram (barking) of FOR DOGGIE

25a Conscious of No 1 principality to the west receiving first 25% of passengers (4-5)
SELF-AWARE: The principality (or princedom) here is one of the countries in the UK. It is reversed (to the west), and followed by a 4-letter word for passengers (think cabs) – except that the first letter (first 25%) is inside the reversal (receiving). I know. I had to ‘phone a friend’.

26a Churchman, satirist and flier (5)
SWIFT: Two meanings, the first a satirist who was also a clergyman, the second a bird

27a An inflammation, but which one? Let’s move on (2,2,4,2,2)
IT IS WHAT IT IS: The suffix for an inflammation (4), then repeated with another word for ‘which’ preceding it gives you a common expression


1d Famous Vietnamese hospital: I am impatient and I am an in-patient (2,3,4)
HO CHI MINH: The abbreviation for hospital, a Scottish 3-letter exclamation of impatience or dismissal, then a (1’1,2,1) phrase that suggests that I am an in-patient (using the same abbreviation as before)

2d Bizarrely attractive, Frankfort’s heart – here! (5)
KINKY: The central letter (heart) of Frankfort and its location

3d A little non-U, charmless scruff (5)
NUCHA: Hidden (A little … )

4dYoung woman’s clothed fashionably in red garment (9)
MINIDRESS: Another word for a young woman contains anagram (fashionably) of IN RED

5d Sailor’s newspaper leading on a Spanish seaport (9)
TARRAGONA: A 3-letter sailor has (‘s) a cheap newspaper, plus ‘ON A’ from the clue

6d Still worked up about large student set (5)
TELLY: A reversal (worked up) of a 3-letter word meaning still goes around the abbreviations for large and student

7d Bows rot! (12)
FIDDLESTICKS: Two meanings, the first referring to the kind of bows used with stringed instruments and the second an expression for rubbish or bollocks

10d Fine to wear, when cooking, is it apt, chef? (2,3,3,4)
IF THE CAP FITS: The abbreviation for fine is contained (to wear) in an anagram (cooking) of IS IT APT CHEF (thank you Vicky)

14d What unfortunate lorry-drivers may do a great deal (9)
SHEDLOADS: Split (4,5), this could be something lorry drivers do

15d Daily, the suspect’s admitted on charge (9)
TELEGRAPH: An anagram (suspect) of THE has admitted (i.e. contains) the cricket side known as ‘on’ and a 3-letter criminal charge

17d Happy – as Gagarin’s medium or the Husband of Rhum? (2,7)
IN SPIRITS: Just like (as) the husband (abbreviation) of Rhum is found inside a type of liquor and Gagarin’s medium (for growing cultures) is found inside another type of liquor

21d Enjoys life on rented eyot (5)
ISLET: A 2-letter word meaning enjoys life, as in exists, plus a word meaning rented

23d On time for public viewing (5)
OVERT: A 4-letter preposition meaning on plus the abbreviation for time

24d 22! Someone finishing off tender curry-house meat (5)
GOSHT: A 4-letter expression meaning the answer to 22, and remove ‘someone finishing’ (ender) from tender.


Lots of clues to pick from as usual but my favourite today is 1a. Which clues did you like?



33 comments on “Toughie 2664

  1. I enjoyed this although struggled to parse 25a. Not really a football fan but 1a made me smile.

    Thanks to Dutch and Elgar.

  2. A very enjoyable crossword which I found to be on the fluffier side of the Elgar spectrum. I did think all the ‘life advice’ did constitute a theme of sorts. I did smile at the surface reading of 12a, not least because that was the first one I solved!

    Thanks to Elgar for the solving entertainment and Dutch for the blog

    1. you’re right, but the HAKA is a Maori ceremonial dance – that’s the NZ bit.

      1. I realised that and edited my comment to remove my undeliberate error. I blame all this rain, its turned my brain soggy :(

        1. Don’t worry? That’s over my head. Anyway, no need for further reply, I’ll take your word for it, play a recording of 13’s Gymnopédies, and clear my mind for the next puzzle! Many thanks, though, Gazza.

            1. I left it on the Swabookshelf … Of course I meant to say “Many thanks, though, *Dutch*”!

  3. Very enjoyable – thanks to Elgar and Dutch.

    I’ve never heard of the 1a song and, even with all the checkers in place, I needed electronic assistance for it – once I had the answer I thought the wordplay was very clever.

    Top clues for me were 19a, 25a and 17d.

  4. 17d was a dreadful clue but 1a was very amusing.
    Other than that probably the most ‘doable’ Elgar for some time.

  5. I found this at the ‘easier’ end of Elgar’s setting spectrum but still a very good challenge. 1a was just about my favourite clue, with 19a a close runner-up.

    Many thanks to the aforementioned and to Dutch.

  6. More accessible than some of his offerings but still needed electronic assistance to complete, and as usual thanks to Dutch for the explanations of e.g. 9ac, 11ac & 25ac …all had obvious answers but the parsing was beyond me.

  7. Agree this was at the easier side of Elgar, at least enough so as to be able get over the line having the checkers for uncertain answers which inevitably led to a few bung-ins like 1d, (didn’t see the jock expression) 25a and 17d – unless I’m being completely stupid (again) where the heck did you find out what a gagarin medium is? So thanks for the explanations Dutch.

    Loads to like and no stand out favourite but I do think 24d is worth a mention for the construction and the surface.

    The “choose one’s own life style alternatives” theme soon became apparent but I assume it has no connection with number 176?

    Anyway, “no worries” as the song says

    Thanks Elgar and Dutch. Next one is 177…..Perhaps look out for something to do with a 1960’s detective show set in LA?

  8. I had to check Frankfort to justify 2d, but all the rest was achieved without the use of any electrons. I don’t have much time for soccer, and less time for overpaid players who get involved in virtue signalling, but 1ac did make me laugh.

    1. Perhaps a crossword blog isn’t the right place for this but if by virtue signalling you mean getting grossly overpaid complacent self serving incompetent politicians to do the right thing, well done Rashford.

  9. I concur with those who found it at the less extreme end of Elgar’s puzzles, but nonetheless found I could not parse at least a half-dozen of the many abstruse clues, even though I had the right answers.

    1a entirely new to me, and some indication that it had nada to do with the English language would have been welcome, though even then in no way helpful. 18a – hummmm: “ah” and “it’s lovely”. Really? And I’m unconvinced at “on ice” having much to do with being in prison. Still have no idea what “Gagarin’s medium” is, and no help on that from my 1983 BRB, Google or DDG. Cannot admit to having derived much pleasure or enjoyment from this puzzle, just the satisfaction of completing it, even if that hint for 1a was required (thank you Dutch, you’re a sanity-saver) – and to those who ask “why tackle it then?” I give the Mallory response: “because it’s there!”


    Thanks to Elgar for the challenge, and Dutch for the review.

    1. The 17d medium is ‘agar’ which is IN gin to make “G agar in” just as H(usband) is IN rum.

      1. Thank you, Gazza – you have caused the light to dawn in my dull mind with a resounding thump!

      2. Blimey! Many thanks. I put my stupidity down to the weather. Reminder to self “or” means there are two examples of the construction. Thanks Gazza.

      3. I’ve come here to see what a ***** puzzle looks like. Now I know, I also know why I never attempt the toughie. This 17d clue and its unravelling could well be in Swahili. I’m so confused, can people really solve these clues? Better than that, what sort of brain can compose them?

  10. Must have been easy, as for the first time I’d finished it before this blog appeared. Didn’t know this meaning of ON ICE, and failed to spot the AGAR in GINS. Never heard of 1a before (haven’t seen the LION KING) but Google helped me out having all the crossers in place. Got 1d easily enough, but took a while to parse it. FOI was 12a, and LOI was 1a. Thanks to JH and Dutch.

  11. Failed to parse 19a, 25a and 17d but I always allow myself a few bung ins when it comes to Elgar.
    Had to check where Marcus Rashford was playing and the tweet made me laugh.
    Thanks to Elgar and to Dutch.

  12. Reading this through I know I was right to give it a miss. I spent ages just to get 5 d.this morning. Elgar is an acquired taste and not for me. So much obscurity. For instance what on earth does 1a mean? I know a Haka is a Maori war dance but what about the rest if it?

    1. “Good bye Manchester United” – shortened and reversed sits inside the All Blacks threatening dance, to produce a Swahili song made famous by Disney.

      Still raining.

      1. Found it. By Elton John for The Lion King. Well, no wonder I didn’t get it. Not one of Eltons better efforts!

  13. Nearly but not quite. Didn’t know the meat (couldn’t get goat out of my mind) & didn’t twig the wordplay so needed the hint. Can’t quite believe I’m saying this but actually found the answers, if not the parsing of them, easier to find than in Zandio’s back pager. Must have been fluffy because other than a fluke finish once I’m never remotely close to completing an Elgar puzzle. There were bung ins aplenty & will now read the review to understand the wordplay. Of those I did fully parse 1,13&19a would be my picks.
    Many thanks to Elgar for going easier on us & to Dutch for the explanations I’m about to seek.

  14. Certainly more entertaining than the 0-0 draw, and I loved 1a, having enjoyed The Lion King in a restricted view seat a few years ago. As with Elgar’s last Toughie there were several easy clues, but also plenty of challenges, including one or two stinkers like 17d. I also spotted several words used as substitutes for expletives, such as 7d, 22a and 24d (first four letters) Thanks as ever to Elgar and Durch.

  15. I actually finished an Elgar – and in time for Royal Ascot! However, not unaided as I had no idea about 1a even with all the checkers in.
    I still believe Elgar to be ‘too clever by half’. I echo an earlier comment – what sort of brain is required to compose such clues?

  16. Managed the RHS on my own and the rest with Dutch’s help. Couldn’t for the life of me see where the last letter came from in the curry meat. Once again in awe of Elgar and Dutch.

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