Toughie 2808 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 2808

Toughie No 2808 by Elgar

Hints and tips by Dutch

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

The answer to the long down clue indicates a clever theme, which includes a Nina.

Please leave a comment telling us what you thought.


Cut up about housing mum, they mark locations in America (8)

PUSHPINS: A reversal (about) of another word for cut and UP from the clue contains an interjection meaning mum or hush

8 Broadcast Q&A relating to one telling tales of macabre bird (6)

HOOPOE: A homophone (broadcast) of a quick question and answer (3,3) a to identify a macabre writer

9 Upbraid agent, film producer and studio executive (8)

REPROACH: A 3-letter agent, and the name of a film producer / studio executive

10 Like a submarine? Tongue the filling for Sunday sandwiches (8)

UNDERSEA: A language is sandwiched inside the central letters (filling) of SUNDAy

11 Gypsy very soon runs to the West (6)

ROMANI: A reversal (to the west) of a (2,1,2) phrase meaning very soon and the abbreviation for runs

12 Book women in Tier #50 the Leader of the Pack (5,3)

BROWN OWL: The abbreviation for book, then the abbreviation for women goes in a (3,2,1) construct that means tier # 50

13 Short cut suggested by Johnson, Cameron and chums? (4,4)

ETON CROP: The word for cut can also mean product, referring to Johnson, Cameron & co.

16 Here you may see each and every person sweep round? (8)

BALLROOM: A 3-letter word for ‘each and every person’ has a word meaning sweep round it

19 Into swinging? This setter won’t half rub it in! (8)

OINTMENT: An anagram (swinging) of INTO, a pronoun describing the setter, and half of WON’T from the clue

21 Settle in (6)

ALIGHT: Two definitions. The second has meaning 17 of the adverb in Chambers

23 Still with it, her toe-tapping covers (8)

HITHERTO: Hidden (… covers)

24 In on one bust, find me in a cell (8)

RIBOSOME: Inside (in) a 2-letter word meaning on, we have the Roman numeral for one and another word for a bust

25 Sandwich service in which menu’s been stripped of regulars (6)

REUBEN: A military service contains (in which) the even letters (stripped of regulars) of “menu’s been”

26 Redistributing made sense, American having left more than one estate (8)

DEMESNES: An anagram (redistributing) of M(a)DE SENSE where the abbreviation for American is missing (having left)


Music from Dolly, maybe: number and track? (7)

COUNTRY: A word meaning number or tally and an abbreviation for railway track

2 Plant went through expansion (9)

SPEEDWELL: A verb meaning ‘went’ goes inside (through) a word for an expansion or growth

3 Cashiers come with me! (4,2)

LETS GO: Two meanings. The second definition involves an apostrophe in the answer, which is conventionally ignored in the enumeration.

4 Film the usual Street of Nightmares interrupting rest (8,7)

PARALLEL MOTHERS: A word meaning ‘the usual’ (think golf), then the ‘street of nightmares’ seen in a horror movie series goes inside (interrupting) a (3,6) phrase that means the rest. The answer describes the theme and Nina.

5 Lift given to Yankee spirit – or better (8)

SUPERIOR: A reversal (lift given to) of an abbreviation for Yankee or American, the name of a spirit or fairy, and OR from the clue

6 In which both paid and unpaid compete for a million (3-2)

PRO-AM: A word meaning for, or in favour of, A from the clue and the abbreviation for million

7 It’s impossible for me to learn over and over (2,3,2)

NO CAN DO: The reversal (over) of a word meaning to learn or study, AND from the clue, and the cricket abbreviation for over

14 Was mum beaten in knockout? (7,2)

CLAMMED UP: A 6-letter word for beaten goes inside a word meaning knockout or competition

15 Sorting letters here won’t stop (4,4)

POST TOWN: An anagram (sorting letters here …) of WON’T STOP

17 William Tell has no desire to break record (3-4)

ALL TIME: An anagram (to break) of (will)IAM TELL, without another word for desire

18 Personal assistant yet to arrive, discovered someone else! (1,1,5)

A. N. OTHER: A (2,3,4) phrase that suggests personal assistant is yet to arrive, without the first and last letters (discovered)

20 This I wantonly ruinate (6)

NATURE: An anagram (wantonly) of the answer (This) + I gives RUINATE

22 Stupid over-inflated self-importance when cycling? (5)

GOOSE: Find a way of saying ‘over-inflated self-importance’, using an abbreviation that means very large and a 3-letter word for self-importance, then cycle the last two letters to the very front

I very much enjoyed the theme, of course only in down clues (same direction as the Nina), and the Nina helped me get the answer for 24a. I liked the sandwich, the short cut, Elgar’s threat to rub it in, the play on ‘cell’, and my favourite I think is the late personal assistant. Which clues did you like?

29 comments on “Toughie 2808

  1. A most enjoyable proper Toughie, as one would expect from Elgar. I had a feeling about the theme when I had the first three and final one of the letters in Column 1 and saw what the missing letters had to be, and so, once I’d worked out the name of the film, which I hadn’t heard of, but the wordplay was very helpful, it was clear what the theme had to be. The most complicated clue to work out was 24a but, as Dutch says, the first letter was obvious from the Nina.

    Hard to pick just one favourite from so many, so I’ll just say many thanks to Elgar and to Dutch

  2. Fabulous, with a well-implemented theme – I spotted the Nina before seeing all (or peprhaps not all?) the others. As usual, extremely tricky but eventually came together piece by piece. Needed a little online help, as the sandwich was unknown to me. Agree 18d perhaps the best of a very good bunch – many thanks Elgar and Dutch!

  3. As CS says, a proper Toughie, full of very clever and entertaining clues. For once I spotted the Nina, although the film was new to me. Absolutely impossible to isolate a single clue as a favourite, so I shall just thank and admire Elgar for a brilliant puzzle, and also Dutch for making sense of it all.

  4. An excellent theme which, as is my wont, I only found after I’d completed the grid. Finding it before would have helped down the bottom where the cell inhabitant and the sandwich were new to me.
    Many thanks to Elgar and to Dutch.
    I highlighted 21a (for its succintness), 3d, 7d, 14d and 18d.

  5. Can’t really claim to have finished this Elgar (to whom, thanks) but all done in 2* time except for having to reveal 4 (!) of the letters in the cell at 24a, a new one on me. Of course when I saw it, I had to giggle. Thanks to both – will now go back and see if I can successfully play Spot the Nina.

    1. Seen it! Very clever. There’s a pub in my home town named after the second of these two ladies.

  6. I’m new to the toughie and struggling. I have the impression that either most people know much more than me and/or have an extensive vocabulary. Then I see reference to online help. What is ‘fair’ in this context. Should I be able to solve the puzzles on a train, or can I use any means possible?

      1. Thanks.
        I resist consulting references as I guess I’m competing with myself. Sometimes I can’t figure out how the answers were found – even when DAVE explains. I’ll keep going!

    1. No rules! I would not hesitate to use electronic assistance if you are struggling. You will naturally need it less and less, but this is a tough puzzle, and I for one will use assistance when I need it. For example, the movie producer escaped and I had to check, having guessed the ander. To be able to say you solved this without assistance is quite something!

    2. Rob I could go round the country twice on the coastal rail network with little prospect of completing Elgar unaided.He’s one for very accomplished solvers so don’t beat yourself up if struggling. In this slot have managed it once & reckon I’m slightly above average

  7. Needed a bit of e-help with 8a and 24a. As always Elgar provides excellent value for money. Thanks to he and Dutch.

  8. Superb as always. When I got the answer to 4d I thought to myself, ‘I bet that’s something to do with some sort of Nina’, and then entirely neglected to do anything with that brilliant insight… having taken forever to complete the SW corner (the rest much more quickly than usual for Elgar, thus balancing out to the usual 5* difficulty for me) I was so relieved that I forgot all about it. Failed to see the ‘bust’ in 24a, and was convinced it indicated an anagram – trouble is, there are so many weird words for biological things, it could have been anything, though in fact the actual answer, a bung-in, was one I did know. Biggest chuckle for me was 19a, but the whole thing was wonderful, and a proper Friday tussle.

  9. As usual didn’t know there was a theme or nina until reading the blog – and had never heard of Shipton in this context in any case. The film was new to me but could not have been much else. Could not parse 11a which was why I got the last letter wrong,

    75% of this fell quite straightforwardly for an Elgar, was stuck with a few in the SW – the cell contents and unhealthy-sounding and unattractive sandwich both new to me, and the latter was absent my older edition of the BRB. Reasonably enjoyable, but felt dated.

    5 / 2.5

    Many thanks to Elgar and Dutch.

  10. At the risk of being lynched, I do wonder how many people actually enjoy……and solve…an Elgar? I watched the TV programme on the American sandwich Subway but no one mentioned a Reuben as an alternative while as for 21a being meaning 17 in the BRB, well, I ask you! That is surely “taking the Michael “?

      1. Really? My Chambers doesn’t include the present time in hitherto and it’s that which differentiates it from still.

  11. As usual, didn’t get around to this until tonight, but all done fairly quickly for a change. Can’t see what “cashiers” has to do with LETS GO, bit managed to parse everything else.
    Completely missed the two mothers down the sides.

      1. Thanks, see it now. Unfortunately, I had to put my 1972 edition of Chambers in the recycling bin last month. It had no spine, and lots of pages were loose.
        PS I spotted a few more mothers in the completed grid after my first post.

      2. Yes, but to be cashiered is surely infinitely more of a disgrace than the euphemism to be “let go” ?

  12. Nearly finished it but got stuck on 22d because I’d spelt 26a incorrectly. (I might have done slightly less well if I hadn’t accidentally seen the picture of the bird on the BD site front page before I started the puzzle!)

  13. Feeling proud. The first Elgar I’ve completed without the hints for a long time. Spotted the Nina in the outside rows, which helped, but not the others until too late. Thanks, all

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