354 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog

Toughie 354

Toughie No 354 by Elgar

The girls at 45

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

Well, this was a struggle – but an immensely satisfying one. I don’t expect total agreement with my star ratings, but it seems likely that many of you will call it either 4/5 or 5/4. The difficulty came from clever clueing rather than obscurity – in fact there was only one bit (a wordplay component) I needed to look up.

It took a long time to get going, with only four answers placed on my first run through, but in the end, when I looked back on it, my very slow solve was down to absolutely fair deception from the setter. There aren’t really any LOL moments but plenty of “Oh, you clever bugger”. There was some extra help when I noticed the likelihood of four symmetrically placed girls’ names and I wondered if the grid contained any further thematic material, but I haven’t spotted anything so far. Another thing I noticed was a generous smattering of modern phrases and colloquialisms which certainly helped to give the puzzle an air of freshness and originality.

Favourite clues are in blue.

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