Toughie 3208 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 3208

Toughie No 3208 by Elgar

Hints and tips by Dutch

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

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

I found this quite a hard solve, though in retrospect not sure why

Please leave a comment telling us what you thought


1 Old Tommy, in desert, cracked code (7)

REDCOAT: In a word meaning to desert, we have an anagram (cracked) of CODE

9 One sings a little Elgar, which listener tapes (8)

WHEATEAR: The first letter (a little) of Elgar is contained by (tapes) a word meaning which and an organ that is a listener

10/27 Why territories in conflict present a new version of events (7,7)

REWRITE HISTORY: An anagram (in conflict) of WHY TERRITORIES

11 Nurse holds stake in occupation (8)

TENANTED: A word meaning to nurse contains (holds) another word for stake or bet

12/13 I’m in Saturday’s Telegraph flag flying: page feature, no leader (6,10)

COLOUR SUPPLEMENT: A 7-letter word for flag, a preposition that can mean flying, the abbreviation for page and a 7-letter word for feature or ingredient without the first letter (no leader)

15 Something taken by Greeks to agorae? (4)

STOA: Hidden (something taken by …)

16 Waits for one who’s ordered metal and paper (4,5)

LEAD TIMES: A heavy metal and a newspaper

21 Done like poison (4)

UPAS: A word than can mean done and a word meaning like

22/24 Groom at stable loft curses engagement (6,2,2,6)

BATTLE OF ST ALBANS: An anagram (groom) of AT STABLE LOFT plus a word that can mean curses. Took me a while.

25 We are sent it, specifically for cycling (8)

ENTITIES: SENT IT from the clue plus a Latin abbreviation than can mean ‘specifically’, then cycle the first letter to the end

27 See 10

28 Vessels, it’s implied, break for the night (8)

STOPOVER: The answer is a cryptic instruction for vessels. The second half is a reversal indicator

29 Maybe Merlot left open for dressing ham? Quite the reverse! (7)

UNDERDO: A reversal (left) of a type of wine that could be Merlot that another word for ‘to open’ is covering (dressing)


2 Still loves needling the barking canine (3,5)

EYE TOOTH: A word meaning ‘still’ plus two “loves” (as in tennis) inside (needling) an anagram (barking) of THE

3 Soldier  material (8)

CORPORAL: Two meanings, a rank of soldier and a word meaning material

4/23 Sweet kid has first thing to auction toiletry (10,6)

AFTERSHAVE LOTION: The last dinner course, then a (4,2) phrase meaning to kid containing (has) ‘the first thing to auction’ (3,1)

5 I’m loving this gas for balloon filling I received from His Majesty (4)

WHEE: The gas that is used in ballons goes inside the royal pronoun used for I.

6/14 Necessity when colossally misconstruing pharmaceutical Euromarket – four times! (6,10)

DAMAGE LIMITATION: The answer suggests a meaning (first word) that is contained (second word) in four words in the clue. Took me a while.

7/20 Not ordinarily where to sit to get a tan (7,7)

WEATHER STATION: An anagram (not ordinarily) of WHERE TO SIT + A TAN

8 Come before  hunt for something to eat (7)

PREDATE: Two meanings

11 Officers of the law make county a gift (9)

TIPSTAFFS: Split (3,6), the answer suggests giving a west midlands county a gift

14 See 6

17 With shimmering heat, get buns out? (8)

SUNBATHE: An anagram (shimmering, out) of HEAT + BUNS

18 Notice online artist run through activated red light (6,2)

BANNER AD: The abbreviation for artist goes inside (run through) a word meaning ‘activated red light’ as in prevented or forbade

19 Heads across the London area to collect book (7)

OBVERSE: A 4-letter word meaning across and the abbreviation for a London area goes around (to collect) the abbreviation for book

20 See 7

23 See 4

26 Erstwhile City high-flyer? (4)

EXEC: A word meaning erstwhile or previous, and an abbreviation for part of the city of London

My favourite clue is 10a/27a “Why territories in conflict present a new version of events (7,7)”. A very nice anagram and surface. Which clues did you like?

11 comments on “Toughie 3208
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  1. A slightly friendly Elgar today. Still fiendish and some answers only parsed after bung-ins. I couldn’t make head nor tail of 6/14d so thank you Dutch for the explanation. I would have stared at that all day 🤔

    Thanks Elgar and Dutch

  2. I’m with Philbert – noticeably quicker solve than usual with Elgar, although definitely some post-factum parsings. Also couldn’t make sense of 6/14d, and I can still only see one of the four words (‘loss’, right?).

    Usual expressions of awe, gratitude etc.

  3. I found this really tough – on the hard side of Elgar. It took a hell of a time to get started, apart from 2d and 15a, but then a couple of the big ones yielded. I failed to parse 8d but that’s because I had “crudite” as “something to eat” . Heigh ho!
    Thanks to Elgar for filling my day and thanks to Dutch for the blog.

  4. This is going to sound so priggish but I was brought up long ago never to allow “afters” as a proper word, so I sitll shudder at putting it in.

  5. Finished with a few delightful groans: 1ac, 2d, 8d (I also put Crudite first til I tried to parse it), 11ac and 28ac. Didn’t try to parse 6/14d, I’m afraid, but just bunged it in from the crossers. Thanks both.

  6. Not for the first time with Elgar, a full grid but with a few parsing issues and a Saturday finish. Thanks to he, and Dutch.

  7. Three hints needed in the end. I had 4 answers in half my final solving time, but using the hint for 1a got things moving a lot faster after that. I thought this was about the same difficulty as the last Elgar. Still waiting for a themed one :)


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