Toughie 2840 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 2840

Toughie No 2840 by Elgar

Hints and tips by Dutch

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

Getting the long clues early is a big help in this puzzle. Elgar’s snacks seem very healthy!

Please leave a comment telling us how you did and what you thought.


1&8d     In possession of Staff? Then I’ve lost it (7,1,3,3,7,7)

KEEPING A DOG AND BARKING ONESELF: This refers to a saying about having staff but not using them. Elgar has capitalised Staff, suggesting a Staffordshire Terrier, so the first 4 words in the clue suggest the first 3 words in the answer, followed by a conjunction that can mean then, while the rest of the clue suggests the last 2 words, i.e. a play on the next to last word in the answer. Hope that makes sense!

9a    Enjoying continued success with the vote? (2,1,3)

ON A ROLL: Think electoral. If someone is with the vote, then they are (2,1,3)

10a    Red setter perhaps adopted by old lady (7)

MAGENTA: A compound or material that helps to set goes inside (adopted
by) the old lady

11a     This bird offers very little strokeability! (3)

KEA: Hidden (offers very little … )

12a     A1 ____ ____ from France is thick? That’s wrong (6,5)

FRENCH STICK: AI plus the answer (the blanks) can be a result of an anagram (that’s wrong) of FRANCE IS THICK. It isn’t, of course, it’s thin. The whole clue is wordplay and definition, but underlining it would hide the blanks.

14a     Farrier’s work donating spades for gardener’s (6)

HOEING: A 7-letter word describing the work of farriers, without (donating) the abbreviation for spades, will give you some gardener’s work

15a    Home victory is without fray (4,4)

WEAR THIN: The planet we live on (home) is inside a victory (is without)

17a     Back in the air with difficulty, landed about one minute from here? (8)

LILLIPUT: A reversal (back) of a 2-letter word for ‘in the air’ plus a 3-letter word for ‘with difficulty’ or ailing go inside a word meaning landed (landed about)

19a    Officer hacks around cement on walls (6)

STUCCO: A reversal (around) of an abbreviation for an officer and a word meaning hacks

22a    Between 6 and 8, briefly compete with Netherlands actress (6,5)

VIVIEN LEIGH: Between the Roman numeral for 6 and the spelling of 8 without the last letter (briefly), we have a word meaning compete and the IVR for Netherlands

23a    Cashier‘s unlimited state contributions (3)

AXE: Some state contributions we all hate to pay without the outer letters (unlimited)

24a    One doesn’t takes drugs (one’s run out) (3-4)

NON-USER: An anagram (out) of ONE’S RUN

26a     Make a single confirmation of peacekeeper’s ID tab? (7)

UNITISE: A (2,2,2) confirmation of a peacekeeper’s ID, plus a recreational tab


1&27a    Arrange, e.g., to do Tchaikovsky Night in full clobber? (5,3,6,9,3,2)


2d    First and third notes appended to cheese snack (7)

EDAMAME: The name of a Dutch cheese, then the first note on a letter scale plus the third note on a do-re scale

3d     Harmless illegal pot one has being seized (11)

INOFFENSIVE: A (2,3) illegal pot (think snooker) and a (1’2) way of saying ‘one has’ containing (siezed) a 3-letter Latin word for ‘being’ that I keep forgetting

4d     Passage hitched to stern of tug boat (6)

GALLEY: A passage follows the last letter (stern) of tug

5d     Lad’s come to represent the victim of indefinite suspension! (8)

DAMOCLES: An anagram of (to re-present) LAD’S COME

6d     Censor one of the jokes? (3)

GAG: Two meanings. The second is a singular word for a joke

7d    So not entirely shunning orders? (7)

NUNNISH: An all-in-one, an anagram (orders) of SHUNNIN(g) without the last letter (so not entirely)

13d    Wheels turn inside core for cooling, I’d say (7,4)

STRETCH LIMO: A 7-letter period of time in jail (turn inside), the central letter (core) of cooling, plus a 3-letter abbreviation that means “I’d say”

16d    “Sign Rocky for good”, one croaks (8)

BULLFROG: A 4-letter equivalent of an astrological sign, an anagram (rocky) of FOR, plus the abbreviation for good

18d    Ladies’ facilities? In one, a lady (7)

LAVINIA: A 3-letter word for what might be the ladies’ facilities, IN from the clue, the Roman numeral for one, plus A from the clue.

20d     The Boston Tea Party, maybe a vehicle for war (7)

CHARIOT: Split (3,4), the answer describes the Boston Tea Party rebellion

21d     Driver caught empty panel-truck? (6)

PIQUET: A homophone (caught) of panel-truck without the inner letters (empty)

25d    The sun this large? (3)

SOL: A (2,1) way of saying ‘this large’ using the abbreviation for large

My favourite surface today is the unstrokeable bird (11a), while the wordplay I enjoyed most was ‘between 6 and 8’ (22a). Which clues did you like most?


22 comments on “Toughie 2840

  1. Getting the long solutions early on helped to make this Elgar Toughie somewhat friendlier (relatively) than his usual brain exercise

    As well as the clues mentioned by Dutch, I also liked 20d

    Thanks to Elgar and Dutch

  2. I can scarcely believe I’m already here to comment on a fully completed Elgar … heart sank on seeing the long clues at 1a and 1d, but very fortunately I tuned-in swiftly. As Dutch and CS noted, getting the exterior frame early made a heck of a difference (and that’s a quite phenomenal anagram in 1d/27a), and from there it fell very straightforwardly and swiftly for an Elgar puzzle. OK, so I couldn’t parse my answer for 12a (a real doh! – or even dough! – moment on reading the blog, so thank you Dutch) and still don’t understand 21d (cannot quite grasp the homophone from which letters are dropped – P … K?), but .. gosh!

    My favourites were 6d (for the simplicity and smile), 22a, and 7d (still in ISIHAC mode).

    4* / 4*

    Many thanks to Elgar and to Dutch

      1. I had the answer – very little else fitted, and nothing else made sense – but until the PDM I just could not parse it. I was trying to think of another word for / name of a panel-truck, then find a homonym of that word/name from which I could drop central letters to end up with the sound “PK”. Talk about over-thinking it …!

  3. … and, a moment too late to edit my post, I understood 21d. The groan was audible over a wide area.

  4. Thanks Dutch for a couple of parsings without which etc etc. 21 & 26 loi. A delight to solve another delightful Elgar, albeit somewhat assisted (but that’s what you’re there for, n’est-ce pas?). Thanks again to you both. 4/5*

    1. This shows how I spend my leisure time – re-reading this blog! Just had the clangiest of penny-drop moments, parsing the second half of 17a clue, which escaped me even with Dutch’s esteemed assistance. As a better man than I once said, “D’oh!”

  5. As others have said the two long answers helped considerably (did anyone actually work out the 28-letter anagram or, as I did, get it from the definition and checkers?). Very enjoyable – thanks to Elgar and Dutch.
    My top clues were 15a, 17a and 20d.

    1. Nope, definition and 5 separate checkers. Kudos to anyone who did it with neither. ;-)

    2. I keep making mistakes when I check anagrams that long. It had to be, but took me several tries to check it correctly

  6. Hints required for a couple of parsings. The long anagrams definitely helped although I’m with Gazza on the manner in which they were solved. Thanks to Dutch and Elgar.

  7. As ever, great stuff from Elgar. Rarely get the chance to do his on the day of publication (so little point commenting) but he never fails to delight. Particularly liked 5d, bordering on an all in one for me. Thanks to Elgar & Dutch (respect for doing this every fortnight, I don’t think I’d sleep on Thursday night knowing what was coming).

    1. I have a confession. I hope you don’t mind. I suffer from anxiety and depression, my life’s a wreck and I’m trying to recover from a divorce. Elgar is kind enough to send me the galley proof of the puzzle prior to publication. He’s exceptionally kind and I have no end of admiration for him. So, I do the puzzle at my leisure (often in a pub) and I measure how long it takes me ( almost always 5*), but it gets me away from the stress of doing his puzzles on a Friday morning. My mental health could not cope with that. Forgive me if that destroys some faith. My job is to help you understand the puzzle.

      1. Hi Dutch,
        I hope that you’re getting some help with your anxiety problems. Your hints are a model of clarity and live up to the site’s tagline “crossword clues explained in plain English”.

      2. …‘My job is to help you understand the puzzle’… and you do. Admirably. Every time. Thank you.

  8. Must admit that I visited my book of idioms when I sussed out that the Staff in 1a was a dog and again when the first word in 1d came to light.
    Can’t say that it helped much for the rest and failed to solve the SE corner.
    Thanks to Elgar for the tussle and to Dutch for the much needed help.

  9. Is Elgar going soft? Not that this wasn’t a proper Toughie, but I didn’t find myself staring at a blank grid for ages, or tearing my hair out at something completely intractable. Yes, getting the long ones relatively quickly certainly helped. 17a is surely a strong contender for clue of the day? Anyway, lovely stuff.

  10. A little easier than usual, but it still took me a couple of hours while at the same time watching or rather listening to some recorded tv programs.

  11. We spelt 26A with a z “unitize”, to get all the alphabet. Was a pangram Elgar’s intention? Or are we getting too clever by half?

  12. I stymied myself by having ROK as 11a for quite a while, which seems a perfectly valid answer, but obviously doesn’t fit the correct checkers as I eventually discovered.

    Stuck on 21d only, which I’d never have got, so I’m pretty happy with that result.

  13. Enjoyed doing this over the weekend, couldn’t parse everything and got my 21d and 26a bung-ins wrong.

    But still really chuffed to have got so far with an Elgar.

    COTD was 22a for me.

    Thanks to Dutch for the blog and to Elgar.

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