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Toughie 2704

Toughie No 2704 by Elgar

Hints and tips by Dutch

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

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

17d was included as a reference to Elgar’s Telegraph Toughie number 181 – not that anyone would be expected to notice that. I was specifically asked not to mention this to Gazza, so let’s not tell him. I managed to fill the grid within 5* time, but it took me a little longer to parse everything. Enjoy!

Attachment for Sam, say, that’s vital for Twist – and Pip, evidently? (9)

STANDPIPE: Hidden (that’s vital for …)

9 See 4 Down

10 & 11 Game for kids? Poor organiser’s nursing injured groin (4-1-4,1,5)

RING-A-RING O’ ROSES: An anagram (poor) of ORGANISER’S contains (nurses) an anagram (injured) of GROIN

12 Inscribed with Irish words, touch the old stone (6,3)

TIGER’S EYE: Containing (inscribed with) another word for the Irish language, we have a 3-letter word for touch and an old word for ‘the’

13 Train maker of shoes in different sizes (6)

SCHOOL: A maker of expensive shoes goes inside the abbreviations for two different sizes

17 Is this a little linear? Curvilinear (3)

ARC: Hidden (Is this a little …)

19 A stroke of literary genius the author promptly included in book (11,4)

PORTERHOUSE BLUE: The answer is a hilarious novel of which the title describes a specific stroke suffered from overindulging in a Cambridge College’s legendary cuisine. The clue contains a cryptic hint of the (3,6) author, a 5-letter word for promptly included in a 4-letter word for book. Unusual, but there it is!

20 Take kiss from top primate (3) 21

APE: From a 4-letter word meaning top, remove (take) the single-letter notation for a kiss

See 23 Down

25 Reminder for November to turn up moonshine (9)

POPPYCOCK: A remembrance symbol worn in November and a verb meaning to turn up

26 & 22 Down For reading at the breakfast table, will this prove incisive, dear? (6,6)

LETTER OPENER: A possible start to a piece of correspondence can also mean an implement

27 Back on books, first to last, new and old (2-7)

RE-ENGAGED: A 5-letter word meaning new or naive with the first letter moved to the end, plus another word for old

28 Couples in scar unit call for bruise application (6)

ARNICA: Take a 2-letter pair (couples – ah, but which ones?) from each of ‘scar unit call’

29 RCS visited by the Head of the 13? (9)

STURGEONS: The people represented by the RCS containing (visited
by) the first letter (head) of ‘the’


2 & 14 Down
Rock hit – pals in it pass out (4,2,6,3)

THIS IS SPINAL TAP: An anagram (rock) of HIT plus an anagram (out) of PALS IN IT PASS

3 Arm raised, make out lump (6)

NUGGET: The reversal (raised) of a 3-letter arm plus a word meaning to make out or comprehend

4 & 9 Across Centre of mass that’s important to see (6,6)

PARISH CHURCH: A cryptic definition nicely hiding the religious meanings of mass and see.

5 Cotton on tick (5-4,6)

PENNY-DROP MOMENT: A cryptic definition – a tick where one cottons on

6 & 16 Down See 21/See 26? (9,9)

CHARACTER REFERENCE: Both ‘See 21’ and ‘See 26’ are a particular kind of citation, given the nature of 21 and 26

7 Add pounds in wage increase overseen by a polymath (9)

ARISTOTLE: A 3-letter word meaning add plus the abbreviation for pounds go inside a wage increase, all underneath/following (overseen by) A from the clue

8 & 24 Down Argentine defence – unique pictures? (3,6,6)

THE SILVER SCREEN: Nothing to do with the country! An argentine defence or shield

14 See 2 Down

15 Old element’s edge broke (9)

BRIMSTONY: As in ‘of an old element’ – a word for edge and a word for broke, as in penniless

16 See 6 Down

17 Pah! Pap! Then, after experiencing 5, ___! (3)

AHA: Taking 5 as a cryptic instruction applied to ‘Pah! Pap!’ leaves you with what you might say after experiencing 5.

18 Line from radio programme on which luvvies should appear? (3)

CUE: A homophone (from radio programme) of a line

22 See 26 Across

23 & 21 Across Rating in engine room marrying Commander Brown and Nurse Brown? (6,6)

OCTANE NUMBER: An abbreviation for Commander plus a brown colour with (marrying) an abbreviation for nurse plus another brown colour

24 See 8 Down

I much enjoyed seeing both 2/14d and 19a in today’s crossword, both evoke memories of laughing myself silly. Which clues did you like?

22 comments on “Toughie 2704

  1. Not that often that I manage to both complete and parse an Elgar offering before the hints are published, most satisfying. I particularly liked the combination of 5d and 17d and also 23d/21a.

    Thanks to Elgar and Dutch.

    1. Although I now realise I have an E on the end of 15d which may infact relegate my achievement to a DNF.

  2. Another great puzzle from Elgar – thanks to him and Dutch.

    The 4 3-letter clues at the heart of the puzzle were a big help in providing a foothold to get started.

    I wasn’t sure what the ‘unique’ was doing in 8/24d – is it there to clue the first word – i.e. there’s only one specified argentine defence although the full answer means the cinema industry (pictures, plural)?

    I’m happy to ignore the 181 as instructed!

    My ticks went to 28a, 5d and 17d but my favourite was the excellent 19a bringing back fond memories of the book (my second favourite from this author after the peerless Wilt ).

    1. Don’t go near Elgar’s puzzles these days but greatly enjoyed the author’s novels – I have the full set residing on my book shelves. First came across them whilst on holiday in St Lucia years ago when the guy in the neighbouring chalet spent hour after hour laughing out loud over the book he was reading – I simply had to ask him what was causing so much amusement.
      Agree with you, Gazza, Wilt and 19a were probably the best of the bunch.

      1. Thanks, Jane, to you and Gazza, I’ve just ordered Wilt and 19a, which was one of the few answers I managed on today’s Elgar. But I’ve never read the author so I look forward to their arrival–not for 10 days yet, apparently. As long as I’m here and talking about books, I’ll add that I’m now reading two very different books (not something I often do at the same time): Damon Galgut’s The Promise and Louise Penny’s The Madness of Crowds. (South African and Canadian authors, both of whom I’ve read before and enjoyed.)

    2. Argentine refers to silver, Argent in heraldry. A screen is a defence, militarily and elsewhere.

  3. At first sight this contained everything I dislike about Elgar’s crosswords all assembled in a single puzzle. But like you do I thought – “give it a go” and after a bit of electronic help it proved to be surprisingly soluble and surprisingly enjoyable. I particularly liked the perfectly ordinary but nicely done 12a and enjoyed teasing out 2/14d. But I still don’t get where 1a comes from. Does one have to have kids?
    Thanks to Elgar and to Dutch for the blog.

  4. A real five star Toughie that took me two attempts to finally complete. As usual with an Elgar, there were a few unparsed bung-ins, so thanks to Dutch for the enlightenment. The 4/9a combo was my favourite.

    My thanks to Elgar for the considerable challenge and to Dutch for some of the explanations.

  5. I don’t usually manage more than a few words in an Elgar but this was different. Just five left and I actually enjoyed it!! 5*/4* for me and my favourites were 8D & 6/16D. Thanks to setter

  6. Oh dear, when does a routine become a rut?
    This setter produces 1 in every 8 toughies; perhaps a longer interval is needed to add some more wit and polish?

  7. Too many cross-references for our taste whereas yesterday’s was difficult but full of clever clues.

  8. Took one look at this and decided it was all I disliked about an Elgar. Too many cross related clues. I’ll settle later with the hints and see what I make of it.
    I have to ask, does anyone open the paper on a Friday and say “yippee, it’s an Elgar”?

      1. Me too although today I am away from home at a wedding today so haven’t done a single crossword

  9. Failed to parse 19a because I’d forgotten the author Tom Sharpe, but I spotted the book from the 4 crossers I had in place.

    Possibly my fastest ever solve of an Elgar.

  10. Halcyon wrote “At first sight this contained everything I dislike about Elgar’s crosswords all assembled in a single puzzle.” However while matters improved for them, for me that remained the case even when the puzzle was finished.

    A grinding chore of a puzzle with cross-referenced clues scattered hither and thither, clues dependent on other clues, reliance on subjective opinion (TS wrote good if largely forgettable comic novels, but literary genius?) and precious little humour, certainly no chuckles this time. I’m with Noxon: one in eight toughies is maybe too frequent a return visit.

    Straightforward though the answer was, I’m not convinced about the construction of 2d/14d, which I felt was loose and vague. Same with 8d/24d (unique?).

    Looking for positives, well it was not as tough as most Elgar grids, and not as tough as most Thursday/Friday toughies. Thanks to Dutch for the parsing of a few clues and the review.

  11. We eventually, with considerable use of references, managed to get a completed grid. Came here this morning to understand the parsing for 19a but even with the hint are still totally lost. Would some kind person please spell it out in detail so we can get on with our day.
    Thanks all.

    1. I’m as lost as you are but SHARP (Prompt) inside TOME (book) gives TOM SHARPE who wrote the wretched novel

      1. Thanks MP.
        Ahh! We see that now.
        So the wordplay does not lead to the answer but to the author (who we did know and have read and enjoyed the book.)
        Don’t remember ever seeing a clue like that before.

  12. All bar the bruise ornament without help – never heard of it. Not that parsing was necessarily complete. All kudos to anyone who solves an Elgar without retro fitting the answer to the clue. By Elgar’s standards, this was fairly accessible, but it helped to be a lucky guesser (19a for one). Great to see the Mighty Tap getting an entry! And despite having my issues with Elgar, once every two weeks is great. No change needed, we just need not to expect things to be completed. It’s a Friday toughie and could keep us going for 4 days!

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