SP 010 (Full Review) – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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SP 010 (Full Review)

Special Puzzle 010

New Year Double Toughie

Disappearing Acts by Elgar

A full review

The puzzle can be found here

For several years, Elgar has produced a Christmas Double Toughie which used to appear on the old Telegraph Puzzles Site on Christmas Day. The new Telegraph Puzzles Site can’t cope with PDFs and so this puzzle was probably only going to be seen by a few of us until Mr K arranged for it to appear on BD’s blog on New Year’s Day.

As usual with the Elgar ‘Christmas Treat’, I started by ignoring the instructions and seeing what clues I could solve. This revealed a few checking letters and I was able to solve two of the more obvious anagrams, which in turn led to more checking letters and so on. Parsing some of the clues did take quite a while – I woke up at 2 am several days post solve and realised that part of my brain which works away at crossword clues while I am doing other things, had finally worked out what the ‘us’ was all about in 31d.  I have a feeling it won’t be long before I find out whether I’m right about how 40d works!

The instructions said:

The silver lights are to be filled, jigsaw-fashion, by members of a thematic group clued by anagrams. Each anagram is one letter short; the omitted letters, spelt in the order in which the clues are presented, spell another member of the group. The letters in the yellow cells may be rearranged to spell a further group member who disappeared later than the others, those in the aqua cells a related work.

The ‘Disappearing Acts’ were revealed in various anagrams plus an extra letter – these letters then revealed another person who ‘disappeared’ in 2022


P • Urn? I’m a vat! = IVANA TRUMP

R • Racy Berry! = BARRY CRYER

E • Athlete Heinz threads my job sequence = HER MAJESTY QUEEN ELIZABETH THE SECOND

S • We ran in tandem = DENNIS WATERMAN

I • Cabbagemongers = BAMBER GASCOINE

D • Adverb limit = DAVID TRIMBLE

E • Dowdier id = DODDIE WEIR

N • Lanes, arguably = ANGELA LANSBURY

T • A toy rail = RAY LIOTTA

G • Poet’s glitter = LESTER PIGGOTT

O • Loco, I = COOLIO

R • New UN job = JUNE BROWN

B • BLT in R.U. lull = BILL TURNBULL

A • Where’s Nan? = SHANE WARNE

C • Rib bird’s banner = BERNARD CRIBBINS

H • All-time yarn = HILARY MANTEL

E • Of Malta = MEAT LOAF

V • A single = VANGELIS

The letters in the yellow cells rearrange to form CHRISTINE MCVIE and those in the aqua cells her work SONGBIRD


19 Duo delivered to the front unhinged long lead strongbox (6,5)
ARMADA CHEST – Move the second two letters of STAR (lead) to the front and then insert MAD (unhinged) ACHE (long)

21 Repulsive fish bones (3)
DOC – A reversal (repulsive) of COD (fish) gives us an informal way of referring to a doctor (bones)

27 Here’s milk and honey, about to go on bread (6)
CANAAN – Canaan, the Promised Land in the Book of Exodus, was said to be the Land of Milk and Honey. CA (about) goes on NAAN (bread)

36 Together 1ac and 9dn will stop this decline (3)
EBB – The last letter of the solution to 1a and the first two letters of 9d

38 My love is drained of heart and spirit (6)
DARING – DARlING (my love) ‘drained’ of its ‘heart’ or middle letter

47 Guy‘s sound advice when searching home for antique? (7)
TRIATIC – A rope between ship’s mast heads sounds like TRY ATTIC (sound advice when searching home for antique)

56 Imitation silver coating cask (5)
APING – AG (the chemical symbol for silver ‘coating’ a PIN (a cask of 4 ½ gallons)


1 Touring thesps packing something on which to heat up soup (6)
BORSCH – A reversal (up) of HOB (something on which to heat) into which is packed RSC (Royal Shakespeare Company – thesps)

2 Poet perhaps gathering nuts now could audibly show grief (3-4)
MAY-MORN – “Here we go gathering nuts in May, on a cold and frosty morning” – MAY (could) followed by a homophone (audibly) of MOURN (show grief)

3 House results: poor condition, on the rocks (7)
EDIFICE – ED (poor results) IF (condition) ICE (rocks)

4 Charge for butter? (4)
GOAT – GO AT (charge)

6 Section is to set up without Riley? (2,6)
OP ARTIST – An anagram (set up) of IS TO goes outside (without) PART (section), Riley being the surname of Bridget Riley, a well-known Op Artist

7 Boss is overwhelmed by good, spicy soup (5)
GUMBO – UMBO (the central boss of a shield) goes under (is overwhelmed by in a Down solution) the abbreviation for Good

8 Fed on bananas, that’s all (3,2)
END OF – An anagram (bananas) of FED ON

9 Bishops active in prime locations broadcasting services (3,2)
BBC TV – BB (two chess abbreviations for Bishop) and the prime locations in aCTiVe

10 Fancy her, wearing Eau de Cologne? (5)
RHEIN – The river running through Cologne is an anagram (fancy) of HER followed by IN (wearing)

11 Lack of strength and parts for constructing large land mass? (8)
ASTHENIA – The parts for building ASIA (large land mass) are AS THEN IA

13 Official checking up on Ecstasy – here? (4)
RAVE – A reversal (up) of VAR (Video Assistant Referee – official checking) on E (Ecstasy)

14 Be on the cards just below British name and number (3,4)
BID FAIR – FAIR (just) goes below B (British) and ID (name and number)

15 State where Roman hunters placed their trust? (7)
INDIANA – Roman hunters would have placed their trust IN DIANA (their goddess of hunting)

24 Bearing right after … (3)
AIR – The abbreviation for Right goes after a synonym for 26d

26 … wicked spins in the car (3)
ACE – Hidden in reverse (spins) in thE CAr

29 Constantly design earlier visits, as dictated by law (10)
STATUTABLY – TAT (tattoo, design) and UT (Latin abbreviation meaning as said above – earlier) ‘visits’ STABLY (constantly)

31 East London’s Humanity Bar has noon opening, which divides us (6)
UBUNTU – The South African (as used in their city East London) word for a quality of humanity and compassion – BUT (bar) has the ‘opening’ of N inserted into it, the result then dividing two Us!

33 What Geordie took away from the 1980s? (3-3)
NEW AGE – A Geordie took away a NE (North East) WAGE

34 Protesters perennially getting agitated near tomb (4-1-3)
RENT-A-MOB – An anagram (agitated) of NEAR TOMB

35 Earless being proof of the real deal? (4,4)
TRUE SEAL – This earless being could also mean a genuine (real) mark of authentication (proof)

37 Vegetable starters of bhaji and raita put away, I must go (7)
BRINJAL – The Indian word for an aubergine – the ‘starters’ of Bhaji and Raita followed by IN JAiL (put away) without the I (I must go)

38 Appearing from below, screen pop-up closes a file (4,3)
DATA SET- A reversal) appearing from below of TEST AD (screen-up) ‘closes’ or goes round A (from the clue)

40 Tip GP offered one for insertion in orifice? (7)
EARDROP – I’ve looked at this clue on and off for the last fortnight! I started off thinking it might be EAR (tip) DR (GP) but then was stuck with OP which I couldn’t link to ‘offered’ at all. I’ve finally concluded that it is a reversal (tip) of PORE (orifice) into which is inserted (in different places) DR (GP) and A (one)

41 Movie chief directed Trading Places initially (4,3)
RAIN MAN – Swap (trading places) the initial letters of MAIN (chief) RAN (directed)

43 Some music hubs in Paris? Let’s stay! (7)
ARIETTA – The hubs or inside letters of pARIs lETs sTAy

44 A little overhead protection around … here? (7)
HABITAT – HAT (overhead protection) goes ‘around’ A BIT (little)

45 Describing something from the butchers’ outing? (6)
REVEAL – RE (describing) VEAL (something from the butchers)

46 Eliminate resorts banning queer men and other males (2,4)
ET ALII – The Latin for ‘and other males’ is obtained from an anagram (resorts of ElImInATe) without (banning) the letters (queer telling you they aren’t in that order) MEN

50 Dog given bone, not a restraint (4)
CURB – CUR (dog) B (bone without the ONE, not A)

51 Writer of Chronicles, any number taking a turn through the years (4)
EZRA – Turn N (any number) anti-clockwise to get a Z which should then be inserted into ERA (years)

Thanks to Elgar for another fine crossword which kept me occupied over Christmas while Mr CS was hogging the Christmas jigsaw puzzle. I bet I wasn’t the only one who kept saying ‘surely x died long before 2022?’

4 comments on “SP 010 (Full Review)
Leave your own comment 

  1. Not one of Elgar’s real brain workouts! The theme was quite obvious from working out the first few anagrams and getting a few checkers in. I was disappointed it didn’t keep me occupied for the usual length of time his other Double Toughies have done! Fitting in the multiple word answer held me up for a little while but the Chronicler solved that for me. Happy New Year to one and all!
    PS 33 is New Age

  2. Thank you for your excellent review, CS, and I refer the honourable lady to the reply I gave earlier (i.e. in the ‘SP – 010’ post). I said I had two parsing question marks remaining, which usually means I’ve missed something, and indeed I had overlooked ‘just’ in 14d providing ‘fair’ in the solution, having unsuccessfully tried to justify ‘fair’ from ‘number’ (as in ‘fair amount’). The second was, of course, 40d. Like you, I had struggled with ‘OP’. My best guess was that ‘offered’ equated to opportunity as in ‘photo op’, and it never occurred to me that ‘tip’ might signal a reversal, with the answer being &lit. The use of ‘offered’ still feels somewhat awkward in the reversal parsing, but not as awkward as my ‘photo op’! Also, like you, I had to re-read the clue for 31d several times before the penny-dropped on the ‘u’s – possibly the best PDM of 2022? I am glad it wasn’t at 2am, though, as I might not have got back to sleep!
    Once again, my thanks to Elgar for concocting a puzzle I look forward to each year, to the Magi in BD’s Blog for making it available, and to CS for the review.

  3. I’ve just spent a long time looking at this over the last couple of days. I found the dead people anagrams not to be very easy, so was trying to rely on the cryptic clues as a way in. Trouble was, there were hardly any gimmes there either! Turned out to be many bits of GK and words I just didn’t know.

    Anyway, I got within about 7 cryptic clues of finishing, having also needed to look up a couple of answers to get some checkers in.

    Thanks CS for the hints.

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