Toughie 2688 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 2688

Toughie No 2688 by Elgar

Hints and tips by Dutch

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

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


I found this tricky (surprise) with some interesting indicators and plenty of Elgar’s usual deviousness. No Nina or theme.

Please leave a comment telling us what you thought.


1a Who’s cowboy hit and killed by? (5,3,3)

BILLY THE KID: An anagram (cowboy, adjectival as in cowboy builder) of HIT+KILLED BY

10a Personal stockpile’s made 500 years old (5)

HOARY: A 5-letter word for a personal stockpile in which the Roman numeral for 500 is replaced by the abbreviation for years

11a Sluice with resistance – good in bits? (5,4)

WATER GATE: The abbreviation for with, then the abbreviations for resistance and good go between two ‘bits”, ie, twice a verb that means bit – the question mark suggests this is a bit naughty.

12a Recluse hard to accept in First Class (9)

SOLITAIRE: A word that could mean hard (adverb def 6 in Chambers) contains (to accept) a word meaning in or alight (as a fire might be) plus a two-character expression for first class

13a Driven clear, power away (5)

URGED: A 6 letter word meaning clear without the initial abbreviation for power

14a Looking over what receives fees for using web chain? (6)

CATENA: A reversal (looking over) of a person (1,3,2) who receives fees for using the web 


16a/18a Well, I declare such a one-party greeting? (3,2,3,4,4)

HOW DO YOU LIKE THAT: A (3,2,3,2) greeting but with only one 2-letter party, read with a (4,4) phrase meaning such

20a Leathers on? Ready to burn! (2,4)

IN GEAR: A play on two meanings of the answer

23a Dodge cunningly back through tree-lined avenues (5)

EVADE: Reverse hidden (back through …)

24a Thelma & Louise ? Maybe, or a video about motorway (4,5)

ROAD MOVIE: An anagram (maybe) of OR A VIDEO goes about the abbreviation for Motorway

26a Soul, upfront lairy and ‘learned’, concealing zero intelligence (4-2-3)

KNOW-IT-ALL: A 2-letter word for soul, then the first letters (upfront) of lairy and learned, contain a (2,3) phrase meaning zero. The whole clue describes a faux-intellectual 

27a Is this ‘th bst of th bst’? (5)

ELITE: We seem to be missing some vowels. The best of the best in the clue is therefore (1-4)

28a Moist jackets damaged, yes – check order for books (5,6)

DEWEY SYSTEM: A 4-letter word for moist contains (jackets – verbal) an anagram (damaged) of YES, plus a 4-letter word for check


Totally given a hiding, at last (2,3)

IN ALL: A 7-letter word meaning ‘at last’ without the outer letters (given a hiding, as in skinned)

3d/19d To be clear, you need to mix a little honey in (3,2,2,3,4)

LAY IT ON THE LINE: An anagram (you need to mix …) of A LITTLE HONEY IN

4d South-based reality show introducing northern resident (6)

TOWNIE: An acronym for a reality show based in the south of England contains (introducing) the abbreviation for northern (thanks Chris, I would never have known that acronym!)

5d Chance it: Hero? Rogue? Therein, the choice (6-2)

EITHER-OR: Hidden (… Therein)

6d/21d Some pop songs Chubby inspired? (2,5,7)

IN ROUND NUMBERS: A 2-letter word meaning pop(ular) or trendy plus a 7-letter word for songs go around (inspired) a word meaning chubby

7d PT Hayes regularly dipped into loaded pickle jars! (8,5)

PHYSICAL JERKS: The odd letters (regularly) of H(a)Y(e)S go inside (dipped into) an anagram (loaded) of PICKLE JARS

8d Grotesque Gorgon’s head, not a thing seen in Plymouth? (8)

GARGOYLE: The first letter (head) of Gorgon, then the letter that looks like zero (not a thing) goes inside (seen in) the Plymouth FC

9d As chiefs of high-powered executive, all disenchanted with base (13)

HEADQUARTERED: Split (4,9), the answer would also produce the first letters (chiefs) of ‘high-powered executive, all disenchanted’

15d To prepare for some fiddling, acknowledge the hand one’s given? (4,1,3)

TAKE A BOW: A play on two meanings of the answer: first in the context of a musical instrument, then a courtesy when receiving applause

17d Body product plugged by recently crowned individual (8)

LAUREATE: A waste product of the body is contained in (plugged by) a word meaning recently

19 See 3d
21 See 6d

22d Like carpet that’s threadbare, missing underlay – and yellow (6)

NAPLES: A carpet that is threadbare would have no pile or ***, hence would be *******. Remove the last letter (missing underlay) to get the name of a yellow pigment, originally an Italian secret

25d One’s first parts in place of singer (5)

VOICE: The first letter of one’s goes inside (parts) a word meaning ‘in place of’


I liked 11a for the penny-drop wordplay and also because it reminded me of the original *****gate scandal. My favourite today, however, is Thelma and Louise, where the wordplay sounds like another definition – and what a great movie it was. Which clues did you like?


20 comments on “Toughie 2688

  1. The usual head-scratcher from Elgar – thanks to him and Dutch.
    4d was difficult to parse until I realised that initial letters were in use and I remembered the East Anglian reality show (even though I’ve never watched it).
    My medals were awarded to 11a, 20a and 15d.

  2. I found this at the slightly easier end of Elgar’s setting spectrum, but even that is a pretty high bar, if I may mix metaphors. I needed Dutch’s explanations for a couple of bung-ins, but other than that all was good. 24a was out in front of a good crop as my COTD.

    Thanks to Elgar for the entertainment and to Dutch for the parsing help.

  3. I started this and just kept on going until the grid was filled with correct answers. That has never happened before with an Elgar puzzle. However just because the words fit with the enumeration and the checking letters, it doesn’t necessarily equate with any understanding of how the clue and the answer are related. So thanks to Elgar for the puzzle and thanks to Dutch for the blog which I will read carefully in my search for enlightenment. Dutch, I knew you wouldn’t let me down at 1 across. Thank you. I have a rehearsal tape made from these sessions. Mr Dylan and several musicians noodling along with nowhere to go and all day to get there. Pure bliss on a sunny afternoon with a glass of beer or two

  4. Very tough and very enjoyable. Came up two short, needed the hints to parse several more, and google to identify the reality show. Favourites were 27a and 15d.

    Thanks to Elgar and Dutch for the much needed assistance.

  5. Considerably further than I usually get with Elgar so guess, as YS reckons, it must be a tad less difficult than usual. Within 4 of completion albeit unable to parse a few of them. Got 17d & 28a (unfamiliar with it) with Dutch’s help but even after reading the hints 14a & the 1st & 3rd letters of 22d eluded me. 24a was my pick too – a neat clue, Ridley Scott’s best film & along with It Happened One Night, Easy Rider, Midnight Run & Stranger Than Paradise in my top 5 in the genre.
    Thanks to Elgar & as ever to Dutch for explaining the answers.

    1. I don’t know the movie Stranger Than Paradise, but I agree with your other choices for that genre. Just to be cute and high-flying, I think I’ll throw in Tobacco Road and Thunder Road and top the list with all of those Hope-Crosby-Lamour inanities. And then there’s that post-apocalyptic one that brings me down to earth again.

  6. I bunged-in more than I actually could parse, or so it seems to me upon reflection, although I had correct answers for all but four (14a, 28a; 17d, 22d). (May I add here that I spent two hours with Elgar last night?) I still do not know what the acronym in 4d stands for but that’s all right. I loved Davis, Sarandon, and Pitt in 24a, my pick of the clues, but I got a kick out of 16/18a and 27a. What brilliance–both by Dutch and by Elgar–so many thanks to them.

      1. What was the one about Sloane Rangers, in case that comes up?

        It was 4d that beat me to finish. I was going nowhere looking for something geographical.

        The three anagrams at the start gave a good number of entries. Thanks for that Elgar.

        Several bung ins and I didn’t have any more time this morning to try to fully parse a few of those, like 11a and 26a, so many thanks for those Dutch….not sure I have seen the Egyptian Soul before (perhaps it could be useful in relation to a motor car clue) and as for “biting two times” and a net account in 14a, a bit strange IMHO.

        Overall a great puzzle. Ta to the Man and to Dutch.

        1. TOWIE is set in Brentwood, the one you are thinking of is Made in Chelsea, both equally mind numbing rubbish!

      2. Thanks, Dutch. Another universe to me. When we first got TV here in this corner of the Benighted States, I rushed home from school (aged 15) to watch the only soap I’ve ever watched. It was called “The Secret Storm”, and the year was 1953.

  7. I guess a Friday Toughie has to be pretty tough and I felt I did well to manage more than half. What I do find frustrating is isolating a correct answer but then not finding the confidence or ability to be able to parse it accurately (and so doubting myself). I believe that when you do find a correct answer it should invariably lead to a ‘I get it now!’ moment. When this does not happen, disullusionment can follow. I also suspect that setters like Elgar cannot resist but play to the gallery of super-advanced solvers and create ever more complex puzzles, with the risk of alienating the less able such as myself.

  8. Passing a belated comment, having finished this puzzle last evening – although only with the help of Dutch’s hints for my last three, 14a (still don’t understand the clue, even if I do understand the answer!), 22d (new to me), and 28a (I’d never, ever, have got that – Dewey Decimal, yes, familiar with that description; Dewey System? No … and that’s even before the parsing of the answer!).

    Other than those I found this a more straightforward Elgar than usual, and it helped that the phrases and long clues fell relatively easily, although before opening the blog to complete the last three I still had a half-dozen bunged-in answers requiring parsing.

    Many thanks to Elgar for the grid, and Dutch for the review.

  9. Even more belated but similar to others the answers were in but needed the hints for parsing. Favourite was 10a.

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