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 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.

Toughie 937

Toughie 937 by Elgar

Exactly what it says on the label!

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

To review an Elgar Toughie you need to be 100% fit and have all your cryptic grey matter in fine fettle. At the moment, Fred and Ginger combined just about fit this description so have collaborated once again in order to sort out this excellent Toughie.

The BD rating reflects our view that there was a nice range of clues from the fluffy to the positively impaling! Ginger ground to a halt with five clues needing cogitation; luckily Fred was on hand to help with two of them and some of the other wordplay that was a mystery to her.

Toughie 925

Toughie No 925 by Elgar

Return of the Prince of Darkness!

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

Elgar may have been absent without leave for a while, but he hasn’t been idle. This is a real beast of a puzzle in which it takes ages to work out the reasoning behind the answers. Not for the faint-hearted!

Double Toughie 100004

Christmas Day Double Toughie No 100,004 by Elgar

“It’s the way I tell ‘em!”

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

Elgar has served up another excellent Double Toughie, just like he did last Christmas. This one is not trivially easy, but neither is it up to the difficulty level he achieved last year. As ever, reading the instructions carefully is essential. Like the other Christmas Day puzzles, it is only available online.

I have identified the key answers, namely a, b, c, d, e, x and y, inside the curly brackets, along with the answers.

Discovering the theme, which I did early on, is vital when solving those across clues which lack definition.

Toughie 894

Toughie No 894 by Elgar

Vlad the Impaler rises again

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

If you have been wondering where Elgar has been these last few weeks, he has been hiding in his sarcophagus sharpening his impaling stakes and putting together this fiendish puzzle. The newspaper version helpfully has the two squares mentioned in 1d/20d shaded in pink, but this is not necessary in order to be able to solve the puzzle. I will reveal all about 1d/20d at the end of the review.

Toughie 850

Toughie No 850 by Elgar


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

Whodunit?? It was that Elgar, m’Lud, and he was wearing his full Vlad the Impaler outfit, complete with new hob-nailed boots and a large pointed stake, and he had the scariest wicked glint in his eye….!

Toughie 850 – Grid

Toughie 850 – Grid

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Online solvers are not provided with the grid shading shown in the newspaper version, without which the clue for 15 across is very confusing. But don’t despair, we are here to help you:

Toughie 834

Toughie 834 by Elgar

Where did those years go???

Brought to you by Fred and Ginger

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

The fiendish Vlad obviously donned his fluffier footwear today in order to mark an event that happened fifteen years ago today. Elgar’s puzzles often divide opinions and we imagine that this one will do so too. However, if you want to be able to say that you managed to defeat the great man, this may well be the puzzle to try. As Ginger is having an awayday today, we had to wait up until just after midnight to tackle this little gem.

Being old, Fred had forgotten about the date, but from the last across clue, things suddenly fell into place. It has to be said that Fred has an acute aversion to this song, much preferring the original version which was haunting and memorable.