Category Archives: Elgar

Elgar is John Henderson, who is also known as Enigmatist, Nimrod and Io, and has visited the blog as John H

Toughie 1105

Toughie No 1105 by Elgar

A Gem of a Puzzle

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

Season’s Greetings from the Calder Valley! It’s Friday and at the end of a reasonable week of Toughies (with a bonus to come – more later!), it’s Vlad the Impaler with his latest teaser and it’s another cracker to start the weekend.

This is very reminiscent of one of the late great Bunthorne’s Guardian puzzles with a big anagram clue. Unless you are a student of poetry I would suggest tackling a few of the other clues to get some checking letters, and then recognising the quote from the words you can see, as I did! I also think there are a very high number of hidden answers to help give you a way into the puzzle.

Toughie 1093

Toughie No 1093 by Elgar

A nice end to a sad week in Crosswordland

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

A nasty lurgi has taken over Tilsit Towers, so young Tilsit has produced a doctor’s note to excuse him from blogging and I am dancing solo today. Get well soon.

Having had one of those weeks where setters and I weren’t entirely on the same wavelength, I approached the Friday Toughie with some trepidation. However, it would appear that someone must have given Elgar some new fluffy slippers for his recent birthday as I didn’t have much trouble solving this one, although the time taken to parse a couple of clues moved it up to a 3.75* Toughie difficulty rating. I will be interested to see how many people agree with me.

Toughie 1077

Toughie No 1077 By Elgar

Cracking Crossword Gromit!

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

Greetings from the Locarno Ballroom in Cleethorpes where Ginger and I are tripping the light fantastic with a busload of pensioners and several gigolos named Rex. In between paso doble classes we sat and tackled today’s challenge from the hobnailed booted one.

Toughie 1053

Toughie 1053 by Elgar

Read all about it!

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

This week’s Toughies have been disappointingly straightforward, but one can normally rely on Elgar to provide the required brain tormenting challenge. Today’s puzzle, whilst being very entertaining, has a helpful theme which ensures that although this isn’t his fluffiest work, it certainly isn’t excessively hob-nailed either.

Toughie 1037

Toughie No 1037 by Elgar

(or Never Decreasing Circles)

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

Greetings from the Calder Valley. Just when you think you can relax and sleep easy, over the hill comes the tramping of hobnailed boots, and Elgar’s back to drive you berserk. And it’s probably my favourite puzzle this year, I think. This time, our Evil Genius is undoubtedly at his most devious. I like cross-referential puzzles; at one time the Guardian used to feature one most weeks, usually by Araucaria, but now you don’t see them as often. This is a thing of beauty to be treasured. We should be giving out badges saying “I cracked Toughie 1037″

A mind-bending mixture of evil word play and that little extra to have you going round in circles. I’m not going to spoil the fun at the moment, but just ask you to persevere and stretch your brain a little. Even BD was stretched formatting this beast to go here as well. After starting by solving the anagram at 17d/28, I went off looking for the categories associated with the phrase. Wrong!

Because of the nature of the puzzle, some of the answers make up the clues so where they appear in the blog, they have been set so that they have to be highlighted as well, so it doesn’t spoil your solving.

Toughie 1021

Toughie No 1020 by Elgar

Digging the unches!**

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

Nice to have a proper Toughie to get the cryptic grey matter working hard – some fluffy ‘ease you in clues’ and some more hob-nailed examples of the art of clue-writing, including possibly the most unhelpful placement of a double unch in the history of the cryptic crossword! Definitely a ‘game of two halves’ as the right hand side was completed first and then the left slowly but surely sorted itself out.

Toughie 1001

Toughie No 1001 by Elgar

Doctor, Strange Puzzle!

(Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Just Let My Brain Hurt)

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

Greetings from the Calder Valley. What better way to conclude this special toughie-fest with the king of the Evil Puzzles, and here he is doing his best impression of Mark Labbett, the Chaser on the TV quiz. Big, mean and unforgiving. Well, not so much of the big, more pocket battleship. But you get my drift?

The Toughie’s promise is to supply some of the hardest puzzles in Fleet Street and there won’t be anyone prosecuting this one under the Trades Description Act. That said, for me, it was a wonderful solve, as good as yesterday’s.

Toughie 989

Toughie No 989 by Elgar

When the blue-eyed boy met the naughty girl!

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


It’s been quite a fluffy week in Toughieland and even Elgar was definitely tending more to the pink-slippered end of the Toughie spectrum (his hob-nailed boots must be at the menders being re-sharpened!).

Fred has been a bit fragile this week, so was grateful for the less than usual mauling from our genial clue-writer. Ginger was grateful to have a proper Toughie to stretch her cryptic grey matter. We wait to learn what others thought in due course.


Toughie 973

Toughie No 973 by Elgar

Vlad the Impaler rides again!

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

For those who complained about yesterday’s Toughie being too easy, here is what you wished for (in trumps). This is Elgar at his most devious, and if you solved it without seeking out the handful of easier answers and building out from there then perhaps you ought to be setting rather than solving!

Toughie 957

Toughie No 957 by Elgar

If I had a hammer!

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

As we all know by now, having reached no 957 in the series, while some days the Toughies can be on the fluffy side, when you see Elgar’s name at the top of the page there is no doubt that it will definitely be one of the ‘most devious cryptic puzzles ever’.

Chambers defines ‘hammer’ (amongst other things) as a verb meaning ‘to contrive or think out by intellectual labour’ which certainly fits the solving process today. It is a proper hob-nailed, impaler of an Elgar, one of those cryptics where the more complicated clues blind you to the really straightforward stuff (with at least five d’oh moments), but the solving process is helped once you realise that it is a pangram.