Toughie 3016 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 3016

Toughie No 3016 by Elgar

Hints and tips by Dutch

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

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

A pleasing symmetry of enumeration around the grid, including the (4,4) pairs and the (5,5,5,5) square.


1a    Bone-breakers aboard ship check quartzite? (6,3,6)

STICKS AND STONES: To get these proverbial bone-breakers (as opposed to words), we have within the abbreviation for steamship a word meaning check or mark correct plus a type of rock of which quartzite is an example

9a    Helpful figures retained by blind ice-skaters (7)

INDICES: Hidden (retained by … )

10a    Wallflower’s plea to reverse ban? (7)

EMBARGO: Split (2,4,1) we have a reversal of a wallflower’s plea

11a/3d    Attempt to score set off “smart” guy, seizing crown from Kyrgios

GOAL KICK: A 2-letter word meaning ‘set off’ or leave, then an alternative spelling of a “smart” first name containing (seizing) the first letter (crown) from Kyrgios

12a/15d/14d/24a    Item Elgar’s kith and kin wanted for a new Variation? His idea too (5,5,5,5)

GREAT MINDS THINK ALIKE: An anagram ( … wanted for a new Variation) of ITEM ELGAR’S KITH AND KIN

16a    Ill at ease, an arty type joins cast (7)

ABASHED: ‘An arty type’ (1,2) and another word for cast

17a    Offensive peasant’s cutting wood (7)

THICKET: A Vietnam war offensive named after the national festival during which it took place has a word meaning peasant or country bumpkin inserted (cutting)

18a    Was stooping lower intended to miss end of eaves? (7)

DEIGNED: Take an 8-letter word meaning intended or planned and omit (to miss) the last letter (end) of eaves

21a     Little European pond-dweller (7)

TADPOLE: A word meaning a little plus a European national

23a/26d    Name good time to avoid runs through to work (4,4)

RUSH HOUR: The abbreviations for name, good and time are omitted (to avoid) from an anagram (to work) of RU(n)S (t)HROU(g)H

28a    Protégé perhaps primarily obsessed by a post yet unfilled (7)

OXYTONE: Protégé has the emphasis on the last syllable. The first letter (primarily) of obsessed, a letter that is used as a symbol for (multiplied) BY, then we have a 3-letter word meaning ‘a’ following (post) Y(e)T from the clue without the central letter (unfilled)

29a    Help one might have slicing cheese and chocolate cake (7)

BROWNIE: A word meaning ‘have’ is inserted into (slicing) a French type of cheese. The answer is also a spritely benevolent creature who secretly helps with domestic work

30a    It’s impossible to do Conservative parked on single yellow line (6,3,6)

SQUARE THE CIRCLE: A 6-letter conservative or boringly old-fashioned person is located by (parked on) the name (3,6) of the single yellow line in the London underground map


1d    Maybe bad press is sadly what initiates recrimination
and signals fracas

SLINGS AND ARROWS: An anagram (sadly) of the first letter of (what initiates) R(ecrimination) AND SIGNALS, then a plural word meaning fracas. The wordplay extends the definition.

2d    Help lifting hotel cases assigned to a Dr Jones (7)

INDIANA: A reversal of a 3-letter word for helps that a 3-letter word for hotel contains (cases), plus (assigned to) A from the clue

4d    Certain users getting woozy inside trailer (7)

ASSURED: An anagram (getting woozy) of USERS goes inside a trailer or advertisement

5d    Shape with mould getting intricately set with acid (3-4)

DIE-CAST: An anagram (intricately) of SET + ACID

6d/13a    Podium options for London tripper?(4,4)

TUBE FOOT: A London tripper could travel by either of these. The definition confused me until I looked up ‘podium’ in Chambers and Collins and saw it also has a biological meaning.

7d    Like strong men from the south, Type Ones forsake county (7)

NORFOLK: Take a reversal (from the south) of a (2,4) phrase that could mean ‘like strong men’, plus a 3-letter word meaning type or kind – then remove (forsake) all the ‘ones’ (i.e., the letters that look like one)

8d    Bozo, three sheets to wind, blathers (6,3,6)


19a    A broadcaster opens financial note that is contemptible (1,3,3)

I ASK YOU: A from the clue plus a broadcasting company are inserted into (opens) a financial note of debt

20a    Bottom of class, repeatedly last in school set, awkwardly wearing dunce’s cap for all to see (7)

DULLEST: Twice (repeatedly) the last letter in school and an anagram (awkwardly) of SET go underneath (wearing) both the first letter (cap) of dunce and the cinema classification that means ‘for all to see’

21a    See missing blended black tea exposed to other tea leaves?

TAKABLE: The definition involves some Cockney rhyming slang. An anagram (blended) of BLA(c)K TEA without (missing) the letter C which is spelled ‘see’ (see Chambers)

22a    Like bottom feeders caught in a green uprising (7)

OCEANIC: A reversal (uprising) of the cricket abbreviation for caught, IN A from the clue, and a 3-letter word meaning green or environmentally friendly

27d/25a    Resident in National Park, Four Seasons welcoming turn from Orbison (4,4)

YOGI BEAR: A period of time corresponding to ‘Four Seasons’ contains (welcoming) a reversal (turn) of what fans call the great Roy Orbison (3,1)

I really liked “Bozo, three sheets to wind, blathers”. I also enjoyed the National Park Resident, not least because of the mention of Orbison (and also I had been staring at a reversal of ROY in the answer before the penny dropped). Which clues did you like?

19 comments on “Toughie 3016
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  1. Yup, two of my top three were Bozo and the Yellowstone resident, with the yellow line joining them on the other type of podium.

    I found this a relatively accessible Elgar, and was surprised to find I had ‘suddenly’ filled the grid over lunch. On the other hand I did not bother to parse either in full or in part quite a few of my answers, eg 23a/26d, 1d, 7d, 20d, 22d, let alone 12a/15d/14d/24a. Which has probably saved me at least the same amount of time it took me to solve the puzzle! That podium was entirely new to me, great clue; I found myself cringeing at 10a (dated and rather ‘off’ in this day & age), and until seeing the picture above was one of the 20d as I wondered how a 11a/3d could be an attempt to score when it went in the other direction.

    Anyway, very enjoyable, and thank you both to Elgar and of course to Dutch.

  2. Yes, I loved the Orbison clue and like you Dutch, spent ages trying to fit “roy” in. I also groaned/smiled at 21d once the penny dropped.
    I couldn’t parse 7d and whilst I’m sure your explanation is correct I think there’s something wrong because there’s no indication that the “type” comes at the front – but it’s Elgar so ….
    Thanks for the blog and thanks to Elgar for an enjoyable challenge.

    1. Only the strong men are reversed, Halcyon – the type comes at the end, sans the perpendicular pronoun, as Sir Humphrey once memorably termed it.

  3. Very enjoyable. Elgar has a great ability to make you think it’s impossible but not want to give up. Many thanks to him and Dutch

  4. Surprisingly quick to complete the grid but hints required to make sense of a couple of parsings and google to check a couple of definitions.

    Thanks to Dutch and Egar.

  5. When I first looked at the grid and saw the multiple links I thought I wasn’t going to get very far, but I solved a couple of the long ones then I was away. As Malcolm correctly identifies above, this compiler has a way of drawing you in, to keep you going. Quite superb.

    I cannot improve on our blogger’s choices, so thanks to Dutch and to Elgar for the brilliant entertainment.

  6. I enjoyed this a lot. No problem awarding it five stars for that.
    Of course, part of the reason that I enjoyed it was the very fact that I was able to solve it (relatively easily).
    It must be a good reason for allowing the allocation of 7/5 stars for some of the more difficult Toughies though.
    Elgar’s last 5* puzzle had me completely stumped.
    Thanks to Elgar for a Toughie I could solve and to Dutch for fully parsing the one clue that I was unsure about.

  7. A joy as always. I am another who solved it surprisingly quickly, despite my usual feeling with Elgar that I’m never going to get more than halfway through. And, like some others, I had a few unparsed – for me 10a (which I am very ashamed of, now, but I was looking for something more complicated, for some reason), 23a (ah, an all-in-one, of course) and 27d/25a because I had no idea about Mr O’s nickname. Yes, of course I though it was something to do with ‘Roy’! Good singer, though.

    As always, huge thanks to Elgar for tremendous fun, and to the amazing Dutch for enabling me to get to sleep at night.

  8. The best I’ve ever done on an Elgar (even though it may be one of his less demanding Toughies). I needed all 5 letter-reveals and still ended up with four unanswered clues (20d, 21d, 12a, 28a). It helped immensely that I managed all four of the long perimeter clues on my own, and I enjoyed a brief moment of Nirvana while doing so. I’ll now read Dutch’s review, with many thanks to him in advance, and of course to Elgar.

    1. I’m sorry that I don’t understand the ‘protege’ connection in 28a–the reference to the third syllable being accented, etc, nor in 21d have I discovered the Cockney slang reference. For us poor mortals over here Across the Pond, trying to locate Cockney slang connections online is often quite difficult.

      1. The answer to 28a is a word meaning ‘a word with an acute accent on the last syllable’.

        In 21d a ‘tea leaf’ is Cockney rhyming slang for ‘thief’.

  9. Best I’ve ever done with an Elgar so delighted that it was rated *****; only beaten by 28A. Very enjoyable though. Thanks to setter’

  10. Fairly benign by Elgar standards, given that I’m typing this response tonight rather than tomorrow! Up to the usual witty and very entertaining standard, just a bit less obscure than normal. Still didn’t quite get 100% as I needed some help on 28a.

  11. Late to the party as usual but loved the tealeaves, the Wallflower’s cry, the MP parked on a yellow line and the London tripper. Agree it was easier than usual but enjoyed. Thanks

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