Toughie 2880 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
View closed comments 

Toughie 2880

Toughie No 2880 by Elgar

Hints and tips by Dutch

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

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

We have a little (6,3) Nina at the top centre (and a strong hint in 22a) relevant to today. Some of these clues took me a long time to parse!

Please leave a comment telling us what you thought.


1a    Foremost of priests who’s able to raise Samuel? He’ll present an extensive bill (7)

PELICAN: The first (foremost) letter of priests and a (3,3) answer to the question “who’s able to raise Samuel?”

5a    In need of a break – hard rocker, newwaver (4,3)

ADAM ANT: A 7-letter word for hard or unyielding is in need of a break to give the desired enumeration

9a    Now I put out a steadying hand (2,4,3,3,3)

IN THIS DAY AND AGE: I from the clue plus an anagram of (put out) A STEADYING HAND

10a    Modification that was evident at Kew, first of all? (5)

TWEAK: First letters ( … first of all)

11a    Partners for life, country ultimately ignored huge blow (9)

SOU’WESTER: Take two words that are partners for life (life and ****) and country (country and *******), and remove their last letters (ultimately ignored). Took me a while.

12a    Bound to have very good birthday in March (4,5)

PASO DOBLE: A 2-letter adverb that can mean very good (def 19 in Chambers) and a 3-letter abbreviation meaning birthday are contained in (to have … in) a bound, as in limit or post

14a    Substance in pasta house probed by uniform (5)

DURUM: A slang word for house contains (probed by) the letter with radio code uniform

15a    Tips taken from trivia search (5)

RIFLE: Remove the end letters from (tips taken from) a 7-letter word for trivia

16a    Spooner’s Glastonbury staple perhaps provided early nourishment (9)

BREASTFED: A Spoonerism of what might be a (4,5) Glastonbury staple

18a    You’ll be lucky if house calls are made here (5,4)

BINGO HALL: A cryptic definition with a play on ‘house calls’

21a    On a summer’s day in Dublin, we saw him come out (5)

BLOOM: This is a reference to the protagonist of Ulysses (James Joyce), a story that takes place on a summer’s day in Dublin. Took me ages, not having read this.

22a    Number of old Toronto tabloid? (3,5,4,3)

THE MAPLE LEAF RAG: The answer (a piano piece by Scott Joplin) suggests a Canadian tabloid

23a    The opposite of bringing supplies to deli? (3,4)

NOT VERY: The answer changes an 8-letter word for supplies into ‘deli’

24a    Such a night could be on the way (7)

ENDLESS: Taken cryptically, applying the answer to ‘night’ provides a 4-letter word meaning ‘on the way’


1d    Stress just ahead in court engagement? (5,2)

POINT UP: The answer is also a phrase meaning ‘just ahead’ in a court sport

2d    Mailed plans? They suggest camping to me! (7,2,6)

LETTERS OF INTENT: A crossword person (me) reading the answer cryptically would interpret this as the characters of the last word suggesting camping

3d    Crossed lines and spots on it? That is correctly ordered for singer (9)

CHICKADEE: A pattern with crossed lines and a game implement that has spots on it (hence singular, 1,3). Then correct the order of the letters in the abbreviation for ‘that is’

4d    Lumps together umpteen works by Keats and Shelley (5)

NODES: An indefinite number of types of poems written by Keats and Shelley together

5d   So solvers of yore don’t do it now? (2,3,4)

AS YOU WERE: The answer (a military command) also describes solvers in the past

6d    Musical contents of basket also packed by nurses (5)

ANNIE: The central letters (contents) of a 7-letter basket, and also contained in (packed by) a 7-letter word for domestic nurses

7d    Stewards’ enquiry, say? It’s routine (1,6,2,6)

A MATTER OF COURSE: Ah, a “stewards’ enquiry” is a thing in horse racing, hence it’s (the answer). I first thought this was a waiter’s question about a meal – but the apostrophe doesn’t quite work

8d    Man cuts to discussing origin of mathematical proposition (7)

THEOREM: A male pronoun inserts into (cuts) TO from the clue, a 2-letter word meaning discussing or concerning, and the first letter (origin) of mathematical

13d    Routinely he’d jam dock and ruin cross-country line (3,6)

BOB MARLEY: To dock or cut (e,g., a tail), to ruin, and a ‘cross-country line’ connecting landscape features

14d    Motoring panel – company directors? (9)

DASHBOARD: The punctuation mark after ‘panel’, and a word for ‘company directors’












15d    Harp on stage with piece I introduced (3,2,2)

RUB IT IN: A verb meaning to stage or manage contains (with … introduced) a word meaning piece and I from the clue.

17d    Over extended time, hold back due reparation

DAMAGES: As in the bill! A plural word meaning a long time, before which (over, in a down clue) we have a word that means to hold back (as in a reservoir)

19d    An important part of Chicago I see live (1’4)

O’HARE: An exclamation meaning ‘I see’ plus a verb meaning live or exist

20d    Wrong to shun Georgia before cycling round French city (5)

LILLE: Take a 7-letter word meaning wrong by law and remove (to shun) the 2-letter state abbreviation for Georgia, then cycle round the last letter to the front

I enjoyed ‘due reparation’ in 17d, and of course the 13d jammer. 10a  confused me since it looked like an anagram! Which clues did you like?

20 comments on “Toughie 2880

  1. I thought this was the friendliest Elgar crossword for some time. I finished in about a 3.75* difficulty time but definitely 5* enjoyment. I did know the significance of today and so spotted the Nina without too much trouble.

    Lots of splendid clues but I think I’ll just list 5a, 6d and 14d.

    Thanks to Elgar for the clever fun and to Dutch for the blog

  2. Very enjoyable. 21a was a bung in. Favourite was 22a. Thanks to Dutch and Elgar.

  3. Thanks to Elgar for another enjoyable head-scratcher and to Dutch for the blog (especially for the Nina which passed me by – although I think that one of our Canadian-based bloggers hinted at it earlier in the week).

    Parsing my last clue (11a) took me ages but the penny did drop eventually.

    Luckily I knew the name of the character in 21a though I long ago lumped Joyce together with Tolkien in the ‘impossible to read’ category.

    Top clues for me were 11a, 21a, 1d and 13d.

  4. I needed only 3 clues and was feeling slightly smug until I read CS’s comment.
    Oh well .
    Had this crossword been published on the 16th of June, Dutch would have twigged 21a earlier.
    I liked 7d , 16a and 18a.
    Thanks to Elgar and Dutch.

    1. That should have read clue 21a . It’s hard to read the numbers after submitting the crossword online.

    2. Yes, I’m with the there Una. I too was feeling really smug, having completed my first Elgar, in more than three years I think it is – then CS goes and spoils the moment by telling us how friendly it was. Whatever, I enjoyed the solve and much preferred it to the (in my opinion) awful back page cryptic puzzle today. Lots to like and many chuckles along the way. My thanks to Elgar (haven’t said that very often) and also to Dutch.

  5. Absolutely loved this cracker of a (surprisingly gentle!) Elgar challenge. I feel like breaking out the party hats and whistles having completed this puzzle in about the same time as today’s backpager, and in a fraction of the time it usually takes me.

    Laughed out loud at my top three – the wonderful 16a, 22a and 13d. 5d is one of my favourite early 80s new wave artists. 14d so clever, very visual. 21a’s day is a day I share with Ruth Archer, and one day I might even get round to reading Ulysses. I tried listening to the Radio 4 adaptation a few days ago and gave up after a half hour. Maybe the book is more focusing for the mind.

    3* / 5*

    Brilliant, brilliant crossword (can you tell I’m on a high?) – thank you to Elgar and of course to Dutch.

    Now, to find that Nina – I know what day it is, I’ve been listening to 22a … oh, and I’ve finally seen it. Trés bien indeed.

  6. I agree that this was not Elgar at his most impenetrable, but still mightily difficult. I parsed all but three, which is par for the course, and thoroughly enjoyed the challenge. So many clever and inventive clues it is tough to pick out favourites, but I will select 7 and 13d, plus 21a.

    Many thanks to Elgar for the high quality entertainment, and to Dutch for the last few parsings.

  7. Terrific fun as always. Despite my getting only one answer (10a) on my first read-through, it came together more quickly than usual for an Elgar, and with very many ejoyable ‘aha’ moments. I confess, though, that I would never have parsed 3d without Dutch’s help, so thank you for that, and to Elgar for an enjoyable however-many minutes.

  8. Top notch as ever with Elgar. I think the last few have all attracted ‘friendlier/gentler than expected’ comments – perhaps this is the new normal? Still super tough of course, it’s all relative … although I think I made heavier weather of today’s back-page Zandio! As usual too many good clues to really pick highlights, though 21a was a personal favourite and having now read the blog I realised I’d bunged in 11a and left unparsed – perhaps that now takes top spot. Many thanks to Elgar and Dutch, and best wishes to all our Canadian friends.

  9. Finally managed an Elgar. Can you please point out the Nina as we can never spot it!

    1. The central 6 letters of row one and the central 3 letters of row 3, plus the middle two words in the answer to 22a.

  10. I solved a number of these clues by a process of guessing the definition then trying to get inside Elgar’s head. I hope he didn’t mind. Then one spends twice as long trying to parse them. I failed to parse 3d but eventually got there with the rest, of which 11a, 2d, 4d and 6d get the accolades for sheer inventiveness.
    Keep doing them like this Elgar and thanks for the blog Dutch.

  11. Another Elgar cracked. Shame about the “friendly” and “gentle” comments, I was feeling quite elated. Certainly completed a couple of minutes faster than the back-pager, and with more enjoyment (apologies to Zandio). Managed to parse most, a good sprinkling of bung-ins, so off to read Dutch’s no doubt erudite explanations. Thanks Elgar and Dutch, as ever a great pairing.

  12. I still am elated, completed in reasonable time, although I had to read the hints for 3d and 23a. Thanks to Dutch for them. I prefer Dutch’s difficulty rating to CS’s, and it’s only the second time I’ve completed an Elgar puzzle.
    14d very clever, but liked 16a most of all.
    Thanks to Elgar as well

  13. Thanks to Elgar for honouring the day. Happy Canada Day from Toronto!

  14. Failed to parse 3d, 11a, and 20d, but of course with the benefit of hindsight they were all easily parsed. Not as difficult to complete as most Elgar’s offerings.

  15. This is, I think, the second Elgar in a row, that I’ve managed without too much struggle. What’s going on? Though to be honest I needed the hints to explain satisfactorily some of the answers I’d put in. Thanks to all

  16. Started with three of the four 15 letter phrases, which gave a strong link into the rest of the puzzle, which I solved more quickly than most Elgars. However several took me some time to parse, but when I found the explanations they were always very satisfactory. This is the main difference between Elgar and Fruday’s back-pager, which many of us really didn’t enjoy, even though some of the clues were clever. If there are several weak or unsatisfactory clues in a crossword one loses confidence in the setter, and also in oneself, whereas we can trust Elgar to provide workable clues, even when they are fiendishly ingenious or difficult. Many Spoonerisms don’t work for me (or they just make me groan) but 16a was great. 18a took me some time to solve, but it was satisfying once I got it. 1a was my favourite out of many I enjoyed.

  17. I happened to notice from a blog ‘new post’ email that this was an Elgar puzzle, so with the gauntlet having been thrown down I took a look this afternoon. I’m very glad I did as Elgar always provides a fine challenge. CS has called it friendly, and I suppose the fact it did not take me into day two means it was not as difficult as some! Anyway, it was very satisfying to complete the grid in one (somewhat lengthy, and including a tea interval) sitting, although I did need Dutch’s review to help me out with parsing the ‘sou’ of 11a, the why of 21a, the construction of 3d and the ‘dash’ of 14d (why didn’t I spot that!).
    Many thanks to both Elgar and Dutch.

Comments are closed.