Toughie 2736 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 2736

Toughie No 2736 by Elgar

Hints and tips by Dutch

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

A rather pleasant puzzle with a perimeter Nina that helped me with the solve. A few head-scratchers as usual, and a good share of easier clues to get you started. I took this puzzle from the on-line version, though I understand there are some edits to the paper version, I think to 4a and 3d.

Please leave a comment telling us what you thought.


4a    Reassembly of features page recently stolen from computer department (8)
PHOTOFIT: The abbreviation for page, a 3-letter word that means ‘recently stolen’ and a (2,2) expression that would mean from computer department.

Means to cultivate criminal image, making light of it (8)

PHOTOFIT: A unit of light and OF IT from the clue

8a    Round closing time, Arkwright’s not — we trust — purveying pork pies! (2,4)
ON OATH: The letter that looks loke a circle or round, then a biblical Arkwright contains (closing) the abbreviation for time

9a    Stick around Tom, Dick and Harry, pub bound! (8)
GALLUMPH: A word meaning to stick goes around a word for everyone (Tom, Dick & Harry) plus an abbreviation for pub

10a    Producers of tittle-tattle from story of roofer’s partner with hose? (8)
DOUBLETS: A story of a roofer might be a (4-4). What do you insert (twice) to get tittle-tattle?

11a    Musical setting for Mamma Mia!, from the soundtrack? (6)
GREASE: A homophone (from the soundtrack) of the country where Mamma Mia was filmed

12a    In the end, Lethbridge ordered mass on to new Alberta city (8)
EDMONTON: The last letters (in the end) of Lethbridge and ordered, the abbreviation for mass, ON TO from the clue and the abbreviation for new

13a    Impressed by delivery date, turn to that man Jack to work (2,3,3)
DO THE JOB: A reversal (turn) of TO, a pronoun meaning ‘that man’ and the abbreviation for Jack are contained in (impressed by) a 3-letter abbreviation for delivery date

16a    Alongside this female comedian — what about that? (8)
HEREWITH: A female pronoun, then a 3-letter comedian has an exclamation meaning ‘what?’ about it

19a    Uniform is black trousers, ready to supply (8)
ISSUABLE: IS from the clue plus a word meaning black containing (trousers) the letter with radio code Uniform

21a    Band starts off very quickly on radio cover (6)
TORQUE: Hidden in the radio codes for Victor Quebec (starts off very quickly)

23a    Lots of people cycling after high scorer? (8)
TALLYMAN: A word for lots of people (or anything, for that matter) with the last letter cycled to the front following (after) a word meaning high

24a    Volition‘s something that may get Spooner a little ruffled? (4,4)
FREE WILL: A spoonerism of two words meaning ‘small ruffle’

25a    Attractive scabbards for old blade (6)
CUTTOE: A word meaning attractive contains (scabbards) a 2-letter word that can mean for (as in ‘for Mr Elgar:’)

26a    Sizable pasta slices, second being free? (8)
OPENNESS: A 2-letter abbreviation that means large is sliced by a 5-letter type of pasta, then the abbreviation for second


1d    Reveals how to struggle free from frenzied wolfhounds (7)
UNFOLDS: An anagram (to struggle) of HOW is removed (free from) an anagram (frenzied) of WOLFHOUNDS

2d    Selection of panda food will, it’s said, confound (9)
BAMBOOZLE: A homophone (it’s said) of typical panda foods will

3d    Ominously, it appears the singer’s suffering upset stomach (6)
THREAT: A (3,3) expression for the singer or the informer, with the central two letters reversed (suffering upset stomach)

Heart a-flutter, one treacherous individual menace

THREAT: Swap central letters (heart a-flutter) in a 3,3 description of a treacherous individual

4d    Bottled Pils design’s what causes ruin (4,3,8)

5d    $1,000 splits typical of Orange contract (8)
OBLIGATE: One grand (written in two letters) splits a word describing the shape of an orange

6d    Helpful to have the real reason for Fawkes’s failure? (2,3)
OF USE: Split (1,4), the answer offers a possible reason for the failure of an explosion

7d    Endless profession of pulpiteer, laying it on with a trowel? (7)
IMPASTO: A pulpiteer might say (1’1,6) and remove the last letter (endless)

14d    Clue deciphered about a central cluster of Egyptian trees (9)
EUCALYPTI: An anagram (deciphered) of CLUE goes about A from the clue, then the central 4 letters of Egyptian

15d    In the beginning, long one assigned to cat? (8)
LIFELINE: The first letter of ‘long’, the Roman numeral for one, and a word which means assigned to or typical of cat

17d    In which we may see pride in the end go before a fall? (3-4)
EGO-TRIP: The last letter of pride, GO from the clue, and a word meaning fall or stumble

18d    More than two or three unwanted publicity cuts withdrawn (1,4,2)
A LOAD OF: A 2-letter word for some unwanted publicity is inserted into (cuts) a word meaning withdrawn

20d    Exclusive series of Peterhouse lectures (6)
SELECT: Hidden (series of … )

22d    Rockers playing piece that’s powerful (5)
QUEEN: A powerful chess piece

Today I liked Guy Fawkes’s failure and the panda foods, where the answer is a word I’ve always enjoyed. Which were your favourite clues?

38 comments on “Toughie 2736

  1. I thoroughly enjoyed solving this crossword – the RH side went in relatively easily and revealed the first half of the Nina, which meant that, with the letters I already head on the LH edge, I could be fairly confident of the second half of the Nina which helped me solve the rest of the clues.

    My particular favourites were 8a (ark wright!) 10a, 11a, 2d and 22d

    Thanks very much to Elgar for the crossword and Dutch for the blog

  2. Oh, why do I never remember to look for a Nina? Finished in **** time but with three bung-ins: 21a (the man’s an absolute fiend) and 3d, which I definitely should have figured out, I’m afraid I still don’t understand 10a and beg further elucidation. Thank you to Elgar for the headscratcher and for plenty of (widely spaced!) ‘aha’ moments, and to Dutch for the explanations.

  3. For once I actually spotted the Nina, although not until I had finished the grid and deliberately looked for one, Fridays being the day for little extras. I had a slow start, but getting the long clues helped and kick-started the rest into a fairly smooth finish. I would be lying if I did not admit to a smattering of unparsed bung-ins, but they were relatively few in number and it felt rewarding to finish it.

    8a has to be my COTD for the audacity of the wordplay. Quite brilliant.

    Thanks Elgar for what was a most satisfying challenge, and to Dutch for filling in my parsings where necessary.

  4. Thanks to Elgar for the puzzle and to Dutch for the review (especially for the parsing of 21a which I couldn’t see).
    I noticed the Nina but, as usual, too late to help with the solving.
    My top clues were 8a, 9a (lovely word), 2d and 15d.

  5. A question for Dutch and colleagues – what if, like me, you stare at the page for over an hour with only three filled in? Do you have a hot-line to the setters, or communicate between each other? Thanks to Dutch, I cracked about five more, but resorted to revealing a couple of handfuls.
    Thanks to Elgar for completely 2D-ing me (I got that one!)

    1. I was reluctant to reply in case such a terrifying situation like that arises next time I’m in the blogging chair

      I don’t think you can beat walking away from the crossword and doing something different for a while. There’s a part of your brain that carries on thinking about the clues even if you are not consciously aware that it is. Hopefully when you come back to the puzzle things you couldn’t see before will be blindingly obvious

    2. I have often stared at a blank grid for a stupidly long time that makes you wonder what the point is. But eventually, I get there. If you are blogging, I guess throwing the puzzle in the bin is less of an alternative. I couldn’t do an Elgar 5 years ago. But you do improve with practice. And anyway, that’s why we have the blog!

    3. It is rare that I fail to finish a puzzle but it’s not unusual to come across an answer that doesn’t want to give up its secrets. Depending upon my time frame NogBad I either doggedly sit it out staring at the clue and the answer hoping something will spark in my brain or, if time is short I email cryptic sue who knows everything there is to know about crossword puzzles. Occasionally I own up that I don’t know how the clue relates to the answer and throw it out to the blog. I don’t think Big Dave likes the last option as the site states that the answer will be explained in plain English. I’ve never contacted any of the setters for help

  6. Reading the introduction from Dutch alerting me to the existence of a Nina undoubtedly resulted in me being able to finish so thanks very much for that.
    Just one query .
    At 18d I think I interpreted it as Dutch ie AD in ALOOF. Why unwanted? an ad is an ad some may want it some may not. Am I missing something?

    4a (the online version) was my standout favourite.

    Thanks all

    1. I wasn’t sure where ‘unwanted’ should go. Is it part of the definition or wordplay? I should have asked Elgar but I’ve had a weird week

  7. I managed more of today’s Elgar than is the norm for me.
    I did manage to solve 2d but was 2d’ed by lots more. Thanks to Dutch for explaining the rest.
    I knew that 4d was an anagram but after seeing “beer and skittles” fitted a lot of the checkers I was 2d ed again.
    21a and 25a beat me. Elgar is indeed fiendish if we have to look for hidden words in radio codes.
    I was particularly pleased to solve 1d and that is my fave today.
    Thanks to Dutch Elgar and Crypticsue for filling in the gaps in my knowledge.

    1. Hi John. I know better than to attempt Elgar Toughies but I noticed your name in the recent posts column, so I thought I’d pop over here and say hello. It’s great to see you back here on the blog, and I do hope you’ll be commenting more frequently again.

      1. Me too. I have been lurking in the main blog for a few days ( as Peccavi ) but now we have a diagnosis and plan for Mama Bee I hope to have more time for crosswords and friends here.
        I would say I “accidently” forgot to change my alias but I guess it wasn’t really an accident at all.😉

        1. I hope your alternative blog name is not a statement of fact. :wink:

          And best wishes to Mama Bee for her treatment.

  8. I managed just four answers. Came here to steal 4d to give me a boost and find that it meant nothing to me. It isn’t in the BRB.

    I can’t see me spending much longer on this. Maybe over a pint, later.

    Thanks to Elgar and Dutch.

    1. I found 4d in Brewer’s Dictionary of Phrase and Fable which is one of my favourite reference books

      1. 4d is in both my 1983 and latest editions of the BRB, the last entry (as a phrase) following the two main entries for pig. I couldn’t find it at first and was wondering what on earth my solved anagram meant! I can’t see it being something I am likely to use in daily conversation …

  9. Finito, although having now read Dutch’s review for those parsings I couldn’t reach, really a DNF since my overly optimistic bung-in for 10a was incorrect. I found this just as challenging and tough a puzzle as one expects from Elgar and did not see the Nina until reading CS’s comment above, but took much greater enjoyment from the crossword with there being no cross-referenced clues or split answers.

    Some of the surface readings were quite bizarre, I felt, especially the Yoda-esque 19a, and as gsolphotog notes in (6) above I too could not see what “unwanted” contributes to the clue.

    A good few ticks afterwards with HMs to 24a, 2d, 7d, and my COTD the tremendous 8a.

    Thank you to Elgar, and to Dutch for the review and most helpful parsing.

  10. Incredibly I finished the right half of this. The rest was beyond me.
    I keep my usual hatred of Dr Spooner. I thought 24 a was particularly poor and I really cannot believe Guy Fawkes hadn’t got a fuse. Oh dear, the literal mind!
    10 a seemed to me more worthy of a Christmas cracker than a DT Toughie.
    I suppose my COTD was 11a. In my research for this I read that the cast of the Mamma Mia film were quite often drunk. Enough said!

    1. It must have been a blast filming that movie. I’ve been to skopelos but there was no way I was gonna walk up the steps to the church. Just had a beer on the beach

  11. Something quite different. In a pub quiz last night the answer was “as thin as a Banbury cheese”. It seems to be from “The Merry Wives of Windsor “. Quite new to me. Has anyone else come across it? I do hope this is not misusing our excellent site. Correct me if I am.

  12. OK, I’ll admit to having spent the afternoon in the pub, and now after my dinner I’ve read through all the clues and haven’t managed to solve any. I’ll leave it until tomorrow.

  13. 10a was my favourite. For once, I finished an Elgar AND I spotted the Nina without being prompted. I may be improving, or Elgar was being kind, or it was a fluke.

  14. After several visits to Elgar today, after last night’s encouraging efforts, I answered all but eight clues, which is the best I have ever done with his puzzles. And I just now found the Nina! Of the ones I solved, 8a is my favourite. Great stuff; I just wish I were up to the solve. Thanks to Dutch and Elgar.

  15. Got there but a day later than planned. Fortified by some jellied eels in Margate the Nina finally came to my rescue and unlocked the SW. Thanks to Dutch and Elgar.

    1. Start at the top of the right hand side of the solved grid and go downwards and then left for a bit. Then move over to the left hand side of the solved grid and go upwards and right for a bit

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