Toughie 2760 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 2760

Toughie No 2760 by Elgar

Hints and tips by Dutch

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

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

There is a Nina, explained in a message from Elgar below. Please leave a comment telling us what you thought. I’m off to Edinburgh today to visit my son at University, please forgive any lack of response.


7 ‘Colas’ cheekily containing shot? (8)

ALCOPOPS: An anagram (cheekily) of COLAS containing a 3-letter ‘shot’

9 Have something to pay outspoken film heroine (6)

ODETTE: A homophone (outspoken) of a (3,4) expression meaning have something to pay

10 In the post, a bonus coffee pot (4)

PERK: A bonus in a post or job, and a coffee pot

11 False rocks fenced by lady in charge of racket, 50 per cent off? (4-6)

HALF-ASLEEP: An anagram (rocks) of FALSE is contained (fenced) by a tennis star (lady in charge of racket)

12 A waste product rococo art used this to depict? (6)

COWPAT: An anagram (rococo) of ART USED “this” (i.e., substituting in THE ANSWER) gives (to depict) “A WASTE PRODUCT”. (So, subtract an anagram of ART USED from A WASTE PRODUCT to get the answer)

14 Uncommonly shaky painter of 2 resting on stack (8)

RICKETTY: A painter (primarily of nudes) who was born in 2d follows another word for stack. Uncommonly indicates a less common spelling.

15 Unprincipled snapper on the case of your independent manuscripts (6)

PAPYRI: A short version of an unprincipled photographer, the outer letters (case) of your, and the abbreviation for independent

17 Sport doctor’s box is missing old powder case (6)

PETARD: A 2-letter abbreviation for sport in school, then the time-defying box of a TV doctor without (missing) IS from the clue.

20 Make novel Christmas break? (4,4)

TAKE FIVE: How would you turn “novel” into Christmas?

22 Shot No.1, position No.1? (6)

GOALIE: A (2,1) expression for shot number one, plus another word for ‘to position’

23 Milestone parties most common in Hertfordshire market town (10)

LEOMINSTER: An anagram (parties) of MILESTONE plus the most common letter in Hertfordshire (and nicely, the market town is in Hertfordshire)

24 Islanders like to? (4)

MANX: Obviously, to is a tailless TO(m)

25 Become the thing to retire? (4,2)

TURN IN: A word meaning become, and a word meaning hip or ‘the thing’

26 To see them, head to SE England and look right… (3,5)

THE DOWNS: These are a feature of SE England, and if you are doing this puzzle in the paper, you will also see them on the right, whereas if you are doing it online, you’ll see them below.


1 …high pass and a circuit around open country (5-3)

ALLEY-OOP: A from the clue, then a circuit goes around an alternative spelling of open country or a meadow

2 City yearbook’s choice of covers? (4)

YORK: The choice of outer letters (covers) for yearbook would be * OR *

3 The price of fish would be more relevant to Shaw in play! (2,4)

SO WHAT: An anagram (in play) of TO SHAW

4 American people love Frenchman’s heart being worn on his sleeve (8)

COMANCHE: The letter that looks like zero (love in a tennis game) goes inside (being worn) the central letter of Frenchman (heart) on the French word for sleeve (think English channel)

5 Name development of Lakeside pre-eminently after US pop singer (4,6)

NEIL SEDAKA: The abbreviation for name, an anagram (development) of LAKESIDE, plus the first letter (pre-eminently) of ‘after’

6 Still a fixture of theatre stalls (2,4)

AT REST: Hidden (a fixture of … )

8 Screw, perhaps, wrapping hands around lag’s midriff (6)

SALARY: A word meaning perhaps or for example contains (wrapping) the abbreviations for a pair of hands going around the central letter (midriff) of LAG

13 Go with a fresh essence (10)

PEPPERMINT: A 3-letter word for go or energy, a 3-letter word for ‘a’ (as in ‘a head’), and a word meaning fresh or new

16 Abdication, but not wanting son on the throne… (8)

REIGNING: A word meaning abdication without the abbreviation for son

18 …skilfully making plans, but not wanting son’s act of condescension (8)

DEIGNING: A word meaning skilfully making plans without the abbreviation for son. Rhymes with previous answer, differing in only one letter

19 Do one‘s bit catching swallow (4,2)

BEAT IT: BIT from the clue contains a synonym for swallow

21 Could this be Wembley Way? (6)

AVENUE: Split (1,5), yes, this could be Wembley.

22 Periodically the one cloth that may be used to clean up gemstone? (6)

GARNET: A reversal (up) of the odd letters in “the one” plus a cloth that could be used for cleaning

24 Waxer and Waner are demonstrably cheeky! (4)

MOON: A verb describing the action of louts showing off their assets (?) through car windows or elsewhere

My favourite clue for the penny drop was 11a, where I had been trying too hard to enter “priced”. Other fun penny drop moments were 24a and 26a

Message from Elgar:

“For your info, the puzzle contains a nina: hidden in alternate acrosses is the message ALF PATRICK RIP, FIVE-GOAL MINSTERMAN, referenced at 2dn (solution YORK, in clue ‘City’). A wonderful man and a neighbour of ours whose funeral was something else”

From Wikipedia:

Patrick was born in York in September 1921. He made his league debut for York City on 2 November 1946 in a home win against Stockport County, in which he scored. During that season, 1946–47, Patrick scored 17 goals in 23 appearances. The following season, he scored 19 goals in 27 games, but his best season was in 1948–49 when he scored 26 times, including five against Rotherham United in November 1948. This tally of five goals remains an individual club scoring record for York in The Football League.[1]

Patrick became the first York player in peacetime football to score 100 league goals for the club by the end of the 1951–52 season. The following season Patrick finished playing first-team football. He had scored 117 goals in 241 League and Cup appearances for York. This means he is fourth in York’s all-time scoring lists behind Norman WilkinsonKeith Walwyn and Arthur Bottom.[1]

Patrick then went on to have a short spell with Scarborough in the 1954–55 season, until returning to York in a training and coaching capacity with the club’s junior side.[1]

He turned 100 in September 2021[2] and died in November.[3]

28 comments on “Toughie 2760

  1. The Toughiest Toughie for some considerable time – if I was rating difficulty, my time would equate to 7*

    I see that the version of this crossword that Dutch solved had the word ‘right’ at the end of 26a, whereas the online version has ‘below’. The only place the 26a clues appear ‘below’ is if you solve directly onto the grid on the puzzles site, whereas most people would print off the crossword and there is nothing ‘below’ the across clues.

    I was quite chuffed that I knew that the artist in 14a came from York. I did have to think hard to find the tennis star in 11a,. I quite often use the ‘fishy’ expression in 3d so that, along with 24a and 24d are on my favourites list

    Thanks to Elgar for the complete brain-mangling and to Dutch for the blog. RIP Alf

  2. The RHS took a while to fill in, but the LHS went in much quicker having been fortified by lunch. I could not parse 12a, so thanks to Dutch for that. Overall this was a delightful and quite taxing Toughie, with the clever 24a my favourite. Finding out our compiler had managed to fit in a very clever Nina as well merely heightened the pleasure in retrospect.

    My thanks to Elgar for a terrific challenge.

  3. Thanks Elgar and Dutch. Lots of very clever and very tricky stuff, but I also particularly liked the (relatively!) simple 19d & 21d.

    (Re 4d I’m not convinced by the parsing as an insertion, as the word order isn’t quite right – I think the “being worn” perhaps alludes to being “put on”? So, O (“love”) with “frenChman’s heart” “being worn” i.e. put on (top) … then put that “on” the Frenchman’s sleeve)

  4. Two weeks ago, in my comment, I wondered whether Elgar was mellowing – going by today’s puzzle the opposite is the case. I found this very tricky.
    My ticks went to 11a, 17a, 20a and 24a.
    Thanks to Elgar and Dutch.

    1. You’ve expanded your alias so your comment went into moderation. Both aliases will work from now on.

      Yes, but the definition is just ‘market town’.

      1. I was referring to the comments by Dutch. I agree the clue works fine, despite my trying to fit Tring, Ware etc. into the solution.

    2. Right you are. Clue would have worked with Herefordshire, possibly typo, pity, but as Gazza suggests it was only a nicety.

        1. I was wondering, how can there be too many Es? Only one E is required for the fodder, so any county where E is the most common party/letter would suffice.

          1. We need an R. The most common letter in Hertfordshire is an R. (Same for rural). In herefordshire that is no longer the case, there are just as many E’s. All stuff I should have realised at time of writing blog, sorry again.

            1. Of course! My brain was frozen into thinking that E is the missing fodder letter (senior moment, again). Sorry Fez.

              BTW. Like Fez, I can’t assimilate 4d. Has he got the parsing right at #3, above? Cheers!

      1. I agree with Gazza – I reckon it was foxy and purposeful misdirection, designed to generate the puzzlement/confusion evident in the transpiring comments. It reminded me of the incident during lockdown last year when a Cabinet minister travelled from London to see his parents in Herefordshire – early media reports cited Hertfordshire!

  5. I assume Hertfordshire in 23a is a misprint I had got to the answer by the letter count. The clue still works with the proper Herefordshire

    1. You’ve changed your alias so this needed moderation. All the aliases you’ve used will work from now on.

      I don’t think it’s a misprint – I think it’s a bit of Elgar cunning.

      1. You are probably right. Being a bit of an old hothead I posted without thinking through and was mistaken Herefordshire would not work (retired and too much time on my hands in dull damp weather)

    1. You’ve expanded your alias so your comment went into moderation. Both versions will work henceforth.

      That clue has certainly brought out some comments. What did you think of the puzzle?

  6. Well, it never occurred to me to check where the answer to 23a actually is, so I blithely assumed that ‘Hertfordshire’ was part of the definition and wrote ‘R???!?’ in my notes. Lucky Dutch was on hand (ever reliable!) to sort out my query. I had a few others where eventually the mist cleared, notably the identities of a tennis player and of a painter, and the meaning (new to me) of ‘screw’. But my favourite has to be 20a, where I have a row of ????s crossed out and replaced with the word ‘brilliant’.

    All in all I think we can say he has not mellowed, and this certainly took me into 5*-plus time. I always know it must be Elgar when there are several points during the day when I think I won’t finish. But I did, and I even spotted a few bits of the Nina, aided by the fact that my nephew’s name jumped out at me.

    IMHO, just clever enough, a joy and a delight.

  7. Wowsers. I chucked in the cards about 2/3rds in. Hints much required today. Loved 24d. Thanks to Elgar and Dutch.

  8. Leominster is wherever it is. Now that I have shown how clever I am may I also say thank you to Dutch for giving up your time freely to solve this tough puzzle and then to explain precisely how each clue works for the benefit of those who need a bit of help. Thanks also for setting your work into WordPress and illustrating your comments. It really is appreciated by me. Thanks also to Elgar for providing the puzzle itself. Now that I have offered my threehaporth can I also add. Some people!

  9. Quite a struggle for me tonight. Finished it eventually but as usual I failed to.parse a couple, COWPAT and MANX.

    1d took me ages, being fixated on LAP for circuit for a while. Should have remembered ALLEY OOP from a previous Elgar (2545).

    Never heard of SCREW for salary, but thankfully the parsing was fairly obvious.

    Missed the full nina, although I had spotted PATRICK and MINSTERMAN.

    Many thanks to Elgar and Dutch (could have bought you a pint if I’d known you were here tonight).

  10. For the 3rd week running our paper is severely delayed so having solved the SPP online I decided to have another go at this.
    Elgar is way above my paygrade but I did enjoy the struggle with extensive help from Dutch. How Dutch manages to decipher all that lot and write an excellent blog is beyond me. Thanks to Dutch for that although I hope the “cheeky” pic for 24d is not from the road trip to Edinburgh. ( That cyclist is in for a surprise!)
    I didn’t notice the Nina until Dutch pointed it out but I did see quite a lot of York references and expect to see more at Elgar’s next birthday bash, where I expect to buy John a few beers as I forgot to pay for my butties at the last one.
    Thanks to Dutch and Elgar.

  11. A busy Friday evening and Saturday meant that I kept returning to this devilishly cryptic puzzle until completing it last evening, though a technical DNF as I needed two hints. Would not have spotted the Nina or York connections had Dutch not included the note above in his review.

    Felt that some of the surfaces left quite a lot to be desired, the penalty I guess of the clues having to be so convoluted. Thought 26a poorly written if the “look below” is intended as a reference to the Down clues, given that’s only the case if completing the puzzle in some formats online.

    Otherwise a very enjoyable masterful tough Toughie, with a couple of trademark ancient obscure film references and artists to fox most solvers under the age of 60, and resulting in a feeling of certain satisfaction when the grid was completed.

    Thank you to Dutch for the review, and to Elgar for the mental workout / wringing.

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