Toughie 2696 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 2696


Toughie No 2696 by Elgar

Hints and tips by Dutch


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

Elgar delights us with a pangram. 5a & 1d slid me into 5* time

Please leave a comment telling us what you thought.



5 & 7 One can’t decide on slant in writing folk drama (7,5)

MUMMERS’ PLAYS: A 5-letter whimsical word for one who can’t decide or a hesitator, a 5-letter word meaning slant, all inside a 2-letter abbreviation for a piece of writing

9 Energies essentially expended in outburst, sub loves forty winks! (6)

SNOOZE: Remove the central abbreviations for energy from a nasal outburst, and sub instead two ‘loves’

10 Trump fervour rekindled by following (8)

OVERRUFF: An anagram (rekindled) of FERVOUR plus the abbreviation of following

11 Do turns outside lounge, maybe, opening seasonal songs (2,2,6)

O’S OF ADVENT: A reversal (turns) of DO from the clue goes outside a type of seat exemplified by lounge, plus a 4-letter opening

13 Book design that’s impressed as well large (4)

TOOL: A word meaning ‘as well’ plus the abbreviation for large

14 About time such protection afforded key witness? (5-3-5)

ROUND-THE-CLOCK: A word meaning about or approximately plus a (3,5) embodiment of time

16 Left, having finished really early (4)

QUIT: A 5-letter word for really or rather without the last letter (having finished … early)

17 Power to clamp vehicles in church offices (10)

VICARSHIPS: A 3-letter Latin word meaning power contains (to clamp) some vehicles plus a word meaning in or trendy

19 In westward transit to Nepal, a jaunt that’ll be hot in the pod! (8)

JALAPENO: Reverse hidden (In westward transit …)

20 Sign that spring is here around Times Sport? (6)

BOXING: The sound that a spring makes (and hence a sign it is present) goes around the arithmetic symbol for times

22 & 23 Rockers quiz clubs about let on city houses (5,7)

BLACK SABBATH: A reversal (about) of a word meaning to quiz or question plus the abbreviation for clubs is contained by (… houses) a verb meaning to let on or talk indiscreetly plus a city in SW England

Successfully head-hunted Big Boss? (4)

UMBO: A 5-letter word for big (think plane) without the first letter (successfully head-hunted)

2 Part of ‘Fee-fi-fo-fum’ with slight modification executed (8)

BEHEADED: Take the end of line 3 in this little verse and shift one letter (with slight modification)

3 Hopeful undertakings at outset lead to upset (6)

UPBEAT: The first letter (at outset) of undertakings, the chemical symbol for lead, and a word meaning to upset or to worry

4 Repair to the bar, so this is no longer a danger (10)

SABRETOOTH: An anagram (repair, imperative) of TO THE BAR SO

5 & 14 Down Point of order, maybe: regret voiced when put in dock (5,7)

MONK’S RHUBARB: A ‘point of order’ could be a (4’1,4), (think religious order), into which we put (put in) a homophone of a word meaning regret

6 Double murder term for Bloody Norah! (5,3,5)

STONE THE CROWS: Two ways to describe murder, by throwing rocks, and an avian form

8 & 18 Down One’s duty on draught brew from Adnams or Greene King? (7,5)

SUFFOLK PUNCH: The answer is a working horse (one’s duty on draught), and could also describe a brew originating from the same county as Adnams or Green King

12 Sweet father the difference between US and UK labour: ‘It’s a boy!’ (5,5)

FRUIT SALAD: The abbreviation for a religious father, the difference between the UK and US spelling of labour, and another (2’1,1,3) way of saying ‘It’s a boy’

14 See 5 Down

15 In ‘Little Scotland’, please note a man of straw (4-4)

CORN-BABY: The English town known as ‘Little Scotland’ contains (In …) a Latin abbreviation meaning ‘please note’ plus A from the clue.

17 Aside from various track events, gymnastic treat is tops (1-5)

V-NECKS: Remove (aside from) an anagram (gymnastic) of TREAT from an anagram (various) of TRACK EVENTS

18 See 8 Down

21 Token of affection when under mistletoe on arrival? Now! (4)

XMAS: A letter used in messaging to represent a token of affection, then a word meaning when follows (under) the first letter (on arrival) of mistletoe


I was happy to see the rockers, I enjoyed the fee fi fo fum and the double murder, and my favourite today is the repair to the bar so that it is no longer a danger. Which clues did you like?



19 comments on “Toughie 2696

  1. I really enjoyed solving this crossword. My top favourites were 5a (because Mr CS was a member of our local 5a), 20a (lovely noise) and 8d. I also marked 9a and 1d and 12d as clues I liked a lot. Thanks very much to Elgar for a great start to the morning and to Dutch for the blog. As far as the ‘sweet’ in 12d is concerned, I immediately thought of these and the days when you could get four for an old penny!

    1. When I read this I did wonder if those were still sold, assuming sweet shops still exist?

      And lo, ebay sell fruit salads AND black jacks! £4.25 for 200g in a plastic jar. No mention of mo-jos.

      1. I’d never heard of either, but today in a pub in a charity sweets box I spotted a packet containing both fruit salads and black jacks. Bloody Norah!

  2. Incredibly, with lots of electronic help, wild guesses and flashes of brilliance, I finished this, my very first Elgar. However, I have to admit that a lot of the parsing was beyond me and at times I had no idea why or if my answer was right. 22/23a was a case in point.
    I do wonder whether, with 5/7a, 11a, and 21d it was intended for Christmas?
    My COTD was 6d….said with an accent from Oz.

  3. Thanks to Elgar for the enjoyable pangram and to Dutch for the review.

    When I saw the grid I was on the lookout for a peripheral Nina but it failed to materialise.

    There were a few terms I didn’t know and had to verify (the seasonal songs, the alpine dock, the ‘Little Scotland’ reference and the impressed book design).

    I ticked 20a, 22/23a and 6d but my favourite was 2d.

  4. Well I did solve a few and I thought I was brilliant when I put in Sugar Daddy for 12d , until I worked out 14a.
    Thanks to all concerned.

  5. After finishing six of the last seven Toughies, I found it very disappointing to only get five answers with this one in literally ages!! Way beyond my capability, I’m afraid and therefore at least 6*/0* for me. Total respect to all those who completed it and said how much they enjoyed it; obviously just not for me :( Roll on Tuesday!!

  6. Needed google to check the docks (only got through all the checkers being in place), the boss, the Northants town and the pre-Christmas songs of praise. I think we only sing one of those at our Church.

    When 20a eventually went in I thought of MP – bing, bang – “boing”! …..such great misdirection.

    Oh, to have some more Sapienta!

    Brilliant and hugely enjoyable. Impossible to pick a favourite.

    Many thanks to Elgar and Dutch for your usual brilliance.

  7. Great challenge. This one took me all the way to Liverpool St. and required a few electrons along the way.

    Thanks to Elgar and Dutch.

    1. But where do you start from, Jonners? The line from Liverpool Street isn’t that long! The time it took me to do five would have got me to the Scottish borders!

        1. I’m impressed. Have never finished an Elgar unaided. The hints have shown there was nothing unintelligible, but our brains must be wired up differently! Five clues without help is my worst showing for this setter, although a few more dropped after strategic help…

  8. Elgar wore me out trying last night. I did manage a few, but did not do nearly as well with the Master as I’ve sometimes done, though I’ve yet to finish one of his. I thought, though, that I should post my special thanks to Dutch for his estimable role as reviewer and patron of the language, as well as my deep regards to Elgar for his brilliance.

  9. Are people aware that Elgar (john Henderson) is organising a crossword meeting in York? This is for all of you, solvers, setters, bloggers, etc. and is normally loads of fun (it’s in a pub). Chance to meet each other. See, left hand banner. Please consider!

  10. The parsing of 15d surprised me. I practised in Northants. for 40 years and went to court in Corby many times but did not realise that it was known as ‘Little Scotland’, although I can well understand why. One of my colleagues commented that, when he went there once, he and the clerk of the court were the only non-Scots in the place and that included the magistrates.

    1. I played Rugby against Stewarts and Lloyds Steelmakers of Little Scotland. Always came off the playing field bruised and battered.

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