Toughie 3176 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 3176

Toughie No 3176 by Elgar

Hints and tips by Dutch

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

The device alluded to in 1d makes the solve quite a bit easier as well as fun

Please leave a comment telling us what you thought.


1a    Sunless weeks perhaps this old poet’s woe! (8)

LACKADAY: This old poetic expression for woe, split (4,1,3), would substitute for “this” in the clue

5a     Dodge blockades on riot (6)

SCREAM: A dodge or con contains (blockades) a short word meaning on or concerning

9a    One of the men in white coats worked on it with good sense (8)

GUMPTION: A white-coated gentleman in a cricket match plus an anagram (worked) of ON IT follows the abbreviation for good

10a    Cruel individual takes look inside (6)

BLOODY: A word for an individual or person contains a 2-letter look

11a     Go through apple pie? (8)

TURNOVER: A 4-letter word for go and a 4-letter word for through gives a pastry exemplified by apple pie

12a    Crows gathering on the counter would be 10 odd (6)

MURDER: A reversal (on the counter) of a 3-letter word for 10a and a word for odd

14a    Cocktails chap hasn’t drunk, which stifles cheers! (10)

MANHATTANS: A chap, then an anagram (drunk) of HASN’T containing (which stifles) a 2-letter word for cheers

18a    Neat bachelor eclipses each one of fashion model’s exes (10)

UNWEAKENED: A 5-letter adjectival word for bachelor contains (eclipses) the abbreviation for each and Barbie’s ex

22a    Returns from this bet? I’m afraid not! (6)

YANKEE: This bet, if reversed (returns from) shows an exclamation meaning “I’m afraid” and another word for not

23a    At a function collecting trinketry (8)

ASTATINE: A from the clue plus a trigonometric function containing (collecting) some rubbish trinketry

24a    Idly draw benefit, stretched by overdraft (6)

DOODLE: A 4-letter benefit which has inserted (stretched by) the abbreviation for overdraft

25a    On reverse, image’s extremely strong impression (8)

FOOTSTEP: The reversal of (on reverse) a medical scanning image (plus the ‘S), a word meaning extremely, and the musical abbreviation for strong

26a    Time to put an end to monster affair (6)

PIGEON: A 3-letter period of time comes after (to put and end to) a monster or brute

27a    Dons don it, tailors tailor it … and troopers do what troopers do! (8)

MENSWEAR: Split (3,5), we have a word for troopers and a word for ‘do what troopers do’


1d     Tips for links: I’m generously helping the six-letter answers here (6)

LIGHTS: Generously indeed! Elgar tells us what is special about this puzzle. First letters (Tips for … )

2d    Recorder turned up with academician (6)

CAMERA: A word meaning turned up plus the abbreviation for Royal Academician

3d    Fighting group losing its leader (6)

ACTION: A 7-letter group or sect without the first letter (losing its leader)

4d    Aforementioned morning post baker opens before getting up (5-5)

ABOVE-NAMED: The abbreviation for morning following (post) an appliance that is a baker is inserted into (opens) a state that would be ‘before getting up’

6d    Big city that was upset at a cult procuring clubs (8)

CALCUTTA: An anagram (upset) of AT A CULT contains (procuring) the abbreviation for clubs

7d    What I’d like to be is oldie, wizened with age (3,5)

EGO IDEAL: An anagram (wizened) of OLDIE + AGE

8d    Official sauce, and what it does for topping (8)

MAYORESS: An egg-based sauce, and what you do with it without the first letter (for topping)

13d    Sixty could be right for the cryptic crossword compiler! (10)

THREESCORE: Brilliant clue given a recent Elgar celebration. Split (5’1,4), the answer is a cryptic instruction for “right”

15d    Gave cheer when solvers are introduced to a new girl? (6,2)

BUOYED UP: The answer suggests a reversal, which then reveals a pronoun for solvers inside (introduced to) a new socialite

16d    The last Number One Gloria Gaynor initiated (4,4)

SWAN SONG: The surname of one Gloria (American actress) and the first letter (initiated) of Gaynor

17d     Contest’s decisive point, after which head completely drops in court (8)

WATERLOO: A 5-letter word meaning ‘after’ from which the first letter is moved to the end (which
head completely drops) goes inside a word meaning to court

19d    For sleigh-riders from the south, not very useful direction finders (6)

SANTAS: A reversal (from the south) of devices that give directions but without (not) the abbreviation for very


20d    Not at all dry for one left in French city (6)

LITTLE: A 2-letter abbreviation for ‘dry’ replaces one of the Ls (left) in a French city.

21d ” Telegraph cryptic shakes ‘enigmatic’ tag” – PA (6)

HELPER:  An anagram (cryptic) of TELEGRAPH minus (shakes) an anagram (enigmatic) of TAG


I thought 1d was clever doubling as a clue and a hint. Which were your favourites today?

17 comments on “Toughie 3176
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  1. The first pass yielded precisely nothing; the second put a few obvious letters in but not many. I thought I was going to get a thrashing, but as always, perseverance and stubbornness won the day, and I completed it in two sessions either side of lunch. There were so many clever and ingenious clues I found it hard to pick a favourite, but 16 and 21d were particularly neat.

    My thanks to Elgar for a terrific challenge, and to Dutch.

  2. Yes, like Young Salopian I was – as I always am with Elgar – convinced that this was going to be a DNF, maybe even a Did Not Start! But the kindness of the 1d clue definitely helped, along with getting 5a and 10a relatively easily. I was left just needing one parsing from Dutch, 9a (could not figure out the white-coated men at all – obvious when you know!), after puzzling for ages over the scan in 25a and the convoluted construction of 18a. Having finally worked that out, I picked it as my favourite clue.

    Thanks and admiration as ever to Elgar and the amazing Dutch.

  3. Well we are pleased with ourselves for getting a full grid and right answers but can’t fathom what the hint is in 1 down. Took ages especially as we had satnav as the answer in 19d. Always an event to complete an Elgar in one sitting! Thanks both.

    1. In the banner at the top Big Dave explained the ethos of the site “Putting the words to lights” lights being the white spaces on a crossword grid and the initial letters of six words in the clue

  4. I am still struggling with this – but think that 27a is one of the best clues ever. It tickled me so much I a have entered it in the book I keep by my bed for special sayings, poems, quotes etc. Great Aunt Florence told me it was my Commonplace Book. Has anyone ever heard of that?? Anyway I’m going to persevere with this one. Thank you.

  5. 24 hours later and with much help from the brilliant Dutch I have a full grid. Thanks also to Elgar for the mental exercise
    Like Daisy, I heap praise on 27a too I will use the Telegraph Notebook I have received for a successful EV to start my own commonplace book

      1. It was spotting the ‘cornery’ Ninas that enabled me to finish the crossword. I’d also agree that 27a is a candidate for Clue of the Month/Year

  6. Didn’t have time for Elgar-wrangling yesterday due to à first Xmas dinner with old school pals
    I didn’t hold out much hope of getting anywhere until 1d enlightened me! Toe-hold obtained, I plugged away and completed it, but as usual, I had to refer to the parsing skills of Dutch for a couple of explanations.

    Thanks gents.

  7. Spent a long time on this, getting there slowly, but needed a couple of Googles at the end to unlock further progress., and both turned out to be “would never have got that” answers. Stumped on 17d finally.

    27a very good !


  8. One day I will realise that when I see it’s an Elgar toughie on a Friday then it’s time to hide behind the parapets & wait until the more benign puzzles appear the following day.

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