Toughie 1179

Toughie No 1179 by proXimal

An eXcellent Debut

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

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

 We welcome a new Toughie setter today – I’m not totally sure who proXimal is but the capital X is perhaps a broad hint that it’s a new pseudonym for someone who’s a regular commenter here and a contributor to the NTSPP series as well as a setter for the Independent. In any case he (or possibly she, if my guess is wrong) is very welcome and has provided us with an entertaining debut puzzle with lots of very well disguised definitions. I would have given this 2* for difficulty but I ended up cheating on 9a so I’ve bumped it up to 3*.

Please leave a comment telling us what you thought. You can also add your assessment by selecting from one to five stars at the bottom of the post.

Across Clues

1a Ruddy duck, colourful bird (8)
{FLAMINGO} – an adjective meaning ruddy or reddish followed by the letter resembling a duck at cricket.

6a Head having peeled off, kissing passionately (6)
{NOGGIN} – an informal term for kissing passionately with the two outer letters omitted (having peeled off).

9a Especially good knights succeeding each time in attack (6)
{BANNER} – this was my last answer and even with three checking letters I had to cheat because I’ve never heard this North American adjective meaning especially good (it’s apparently used by companies to describe a successful trading year). Start with a verb to attack or hit repeatedly, then replace both Ts (each time) with Ns (knights).

10a Stout judge outside pub (8)
{GUINNESS} – Ireland’s most famous export comes from a verb to judge or estimate containing a pub.

11a Article, one penned by bridge player (8)
{THESPIAN} – a definite article is followed by a verb to bridge with I (one) contained inside it.

12a European dragging cleaner by the ear (6)
{SLOVAK} – this sounds (to the ear) like a reluctant Hoover.

13a Brainless act, breaking instrument (4,8)
{BASS CLARINET} – an anagram (breaking) of BRAINLESS ACT.

16a Gunman‘s device used by 10 aboard ship, Mary Rose (12)
{SHARPSHOOTER} – put the device or emblem used by the 10a company inside the usual abbreviation for ship, then add an informal term for what Mary Rose is in Cockney rhyming slang (“Keep yer Mary out of my business!”).

19a Pressing button led girl, disregarding the odds, to go crazy (6)
{URGENT} – remove all the odd letters from ‘button led girl’ and make an anagram (to go crazy) of those letters remaining.

21a International traveller has currency abroad, recalled grass (8)
{EUROSTAR} – I foolishly read the abroad as aboard and was looking for a construct as in 16a until I spotted my mistake. Start with what you’d use for spending money in the foreign destinations of this traveller then reverse (recalled) a grass or renegade.

23a Full of energy, tidy up odd bras accumulated on surface (8)
{ADSORBED} – an anagram (tidy up) of ODD BRAS containing E(nergy).

24a Filling goods transporter, operator’s larboard of vessel (6)
{AORTIC} – insert the leftmost (larboard) letter of O(perator) into an abbreviated word for a goods transporter having two or more sections.

25a Edgy, like Rubik’s cube? (6)
{UNEASY} – double definition, the second a cryptic way of saying hard. I thought the second definition was somewhat woolly.

26a Declines accepting tatty cloth borders for paintings (8)
{DIPTYCHS} – a verb meaning declines or sinks containing the outer letters of both tatty and cloth. The plural form seems wrong somehow and the BRB is non-committal but other dictionaries confirm that it is correct.

Down Clues

2d Frequently, when last of tequila is downed, that man can’t stand (6)
{LOATHE} – start with a phrase (1,3) meaning frequently or many times then move the last letter of (tequil)A down a couple of places. Finally add a male pronoun (that man).

3d Without money, having moved across Atlantic? (5)
{MINUS} – the abbreviation for money followed by where you may be (2,2) once you’ve crossed the pond.

4d Self-regarding youth in car’s thrown out South American (9)
{NARCISSUS} – the mythical Greek youth who fell in love with his own reflection comes from an anagram (thrown out) of IN CAR’S followed by abbreviations for South and American.

5d Backing music in a group’s somewhat structured (7)
{ORGANIC} – hidden (somewhat) and reversed (backing) in the clue.

6d Fixes trouble separating partners (5)
{NAILS} – a verb to trouble separates partners at bridge.

7d Punter to leave Red Lion disorientated (9)
{GONDOLIER} – a verb to leave is followed by an anagram (disorientated) of RED LION.

8d Emphatically trendy suit (2,6)
{IN SPADES} – an informal word meaning trendy or popular is followed by a card suit.

13d An expression of triumph, seafood’s elevated coastal city (9)
{BARCELONA} – string together AN (from the clue), an expression of triumph that you might hear in this city and a crustacean. Now reverse the lot (elevated, in a down clue).

14d Unbelievably daft perm, a problem of mine (5-4)
{AFTER-DAMP} – an anagram (unbelievably) of DAFT PERM A.

15d After vacation in Scarborough, grim up north admits a dramatist (8)
{SHERIDAN} – the reference to Scarborough may make you think of Alan Ayckbourn but what we want is an earlier Irish dramatist. Take the innards (after vacation) out of Scarborough and then add the reverse (up) of an adjective meaning grim or appalling and N(orth). Finally insert (admits) A.

17d Cutting party, rising music writer went too far (7)
{OVERDID} – put an Italian composer inside (cutting) the reverse (rising) of a festive party.

18d Bathroom’s hot shower (6)
{LAVISH} – shower here is a verb meaning to give generously. String together an informal abbreviation for the smallest room, the expanded form of ‘S and H(ot).

20d Generously proportioned bath times (5)
{TUBBY} – a bath is followed by another word for times (as in ‘3 times 5’).

22d Second vehicle’s open-top, pathetic! (5)
{SORRY} – S(econd) and a vehicle used for transporting goods without its initial letter (open-top).

The clues making the shortlist for my COD were 16a, 2d and 15d. Tell us your selections.

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26 Comments

  1. crypticsue
    Posted April 30, 2014 at 1:30 pm | Permalink

    I’d give it 3.5* at least for difficulty mainly because the NW corner took an age all on its own for the pennies to drop. An enjoyable solve. Thanks to Gazza and Mr X – presuming we have the right X, I must ask – did you run out of anagram opportunities once you had worked out your pseudonym for the FT?

  2. Physicist
    Posted April 30, 2014 at 1:38 pm | Permalink

    I was foiled by 9a, but otherwise an enjoyable solve. Thanks to Gazza and setter.

  3. Jezza
    Posted April 30, 2014 at 1:43 pm | Permalink

    A very enjoyable debut toughie. Thanks to setter, and to gazza for the review.

  4. Pegasus
    Posted April 30, 2014 at 1:55 pm | Permalink

    I’m afraid 9a defeated me as well, other than that a very enjoyable solve, favourites were 12a 15d and 18d thanks to proximal and to Gazza for the review.

  5. BigBoab
    Posted April 30, 2014 at 2:28 pm | Permalink

    A most enjoyable toughie from proXima and a super review from Gazza, many thanks to both. Fav. was 24a.

  6. the dodger
    Posted April 30, 2014 at 2:43 pm | Permalink

    A very fine debut indeed. Glad to see that I’m in good company for failing to get 9ac – and I needed the explanation of Mary Rose, I thought I knew a lot of rhyming slang, perhaps this is recent or very old. Makes me think of The Long Good Friday….. R.I.P. Bob Hoskins

  7. Expat Chris
    Posted April 30, 2014 at 2:45 pm | Permalink

    All done except 9A, and I’m kicking myself hard because given where I live I should have got that. I had thought attack might be batter but had KK stuck in my mind for knights so I discarded it. Lots to like, especially 1A, 24A and 18D. Thanks to ProXimal and thanks to Gazza for the review.

    Think I might have guessed from Gazza’s comments at the top of the page who the setter is when he’s wearing another hat.

    • gazza
      Posted April 30, 2014 at 3:38 pm | Permalink

      I’ve never seen banner used to mean very good. I’ve been investigoogling it and it appears to mean ‘good enough to warrant a banner headline’. Does that match your understanding?’

    • Expat Chris
      Posted April 30, 2014 at 3:47 pm | Permalink

      Yes. It’s a sales term that indicates an outstanding period of profit and worth trumpeting about. An equivalent word would be ‘bumper.’

    • Posted April 30, 2014 at 4:02 pm | Permalink

      The grumpy side of me would say US words that are largely unknown in the UK should be indicated as such. You would expect a French or German word to be shown as “in Paris” or “in Berlin”, for example.

  8. JB
    Posted April 30, 2014 at 4:43 pm | Permalink

    Does our new setter have links to North America? 9a was completely unknown to me. I only ask because, until recently, 8d was also an expression confined to the States. I remember how it jarred when I first came across it in a book written by Elizabeth George (Inspector Lynley). It quite destroyed the illusion that she was writing in the English idiom.

  9. eXternal
    Posted April 30, 2014 at 4:56 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for the review, Gazza. Well done for successfully outing me, I guess the pseudonym gave it away. Crypticsue, I would have liked to have a CamelCase moniker for the FT, but they always print the setter name in capitals, so it wouldn’t have worked.

    I am glad the puzzle was well received. Thanks also to Big Dave for publishing my earlier work as a setter. I really appreciate it.

    • Posted April 30, 2014 at 7:05 pm | Permalink

      Well done. I never expected anyone to graduate from the NTSPP series to the Toughie series, but now it has happened. I’m chuffed.

      Like Gazza I had my suspicions, especially after you once told me that the X in eXternal stood for Ximenian.

      • Posted April 30, 2014 at 7:07 pm | Permalink

        I should point out that there is another graduate, but Anax was an established setter before his NTSPP contributions.

        • andy
          Posted April 30, 2014 at 9:05 pm | Permalink

          Deservedly chuffed you should be imho

  10. crypticsue
    Posted April 30, 2014 at 5:37 pm | Permalink

    Giovanni tomorrow.

    • andy
      Posted April 30, 2014 at 8:51 pm | Permalink

      Oh dear, my vocabulary will once again seem lacking

  11. halcyon
    Posted April 30, 2014 at 7:59 pm | Permalink

    Terrific debut in the paper. Lots of inventive clues with amusing and coherent surface readings.

    Particularly liked12a, 2d, 15d, 18d.

    Not so sure about “open-top” in 22a but can’t complain about 9a [even tho it defeated me]. It’s in the BRB.

    Many thanks to proXimal and Gazza.

  12. 2Kiwis
    Posted April 30, 2014 at 8:02 pm | Permalink

    We found this one significantly tricky but eventually managed to get a completion, even 9a. Felt very pleased that we twigged the Cockney slang in 16a too. Enjoyed it very much. A worthy addition to the Toughie stable of setters in our opinion.
    Thanks ProXimal and Gazza.

  13. Kath
    Posted April 30, 2014 at 8:08 pm | Permalink

    I cheated (ie looked at the hint for 9a) when I saw that even gazza didn’t get it.
    The rest I just about managed apart from a couple in the bottom right corner.
    As usual anything that makes me laugh bungs the enjoyment rating up a notch or two and some of these did – 12a and 18 and 20d.
    With thanks and congratulations to proXimal and thanks to gazza for his very clear hints.

  14. andy
    Posted April 30, 2014 at 8:46 pm | Permalink

    I’m in the 9a club as well, also 23a is one of those words which to me doesn’t “look” right, although obviously it is. Huge congratulations eXternal , sorry proXimal. See you soon. Thanks also to Gazza

  15. Only fools
    Posted April 30, 2014 at 11:19 pm | Permalink

    Thanks eXternal very enjoyable ,guessed 9a on definition and checking letters ,favourites 24a and18d .
    Thanks also to Gazza and all concerned .

  16. Salty Dog
    Posted May 1, 2014 at 12:58 pm | Permalink

    Finished this over a cuppa next morning when the strimmer packed up. Hats off to proXima, and to Gazza (4 of whose hints l needed to complete). As l often find with an unfamiliar setter, l struggled to pick up the signals for quite a while. At least 4* difficulty for me, but the same for intellectual satisfaction. 16a had me disappearing down a lot of rabbit holes, but l got it in the end (despite not knowing that particular bit of rhyming slang).

  17. Catnap
    Posted May 2, 2014 at 6:10 pm | Permalink

    What a lovely puzzle! I enjoyed it greatly. I found it somewhat tricky in places, and it has taken me a while to do. I did manage, however, to complete it all correctly save 9a where I needed Gazza’s enlightening hint.

    My fave was 16a. I also liked 10a, 12a, 24a, 7d, 15d and 17d amongst many others.

    Congratulations on your Toughie debut, ProXimal. Super!

    Much appreciation to Gazza for the excellent review.

    • Catnap
      Posted May 2, 2014 at 6:37 pm | Permalink

      P. S. Forgot to mention this. When I read out 1a to Mr Catnap, his immediate answer was, ‘Bloody out for nought!’

  18. Mark Hemingway
    Posted May 18, 2014 at 4:48 pm | Permalink

    Iam still 2 weeks + behind everone else as they are cut out and sent to me here in wilds of Portuguese countryside. But I feel better for adding my 2-pence worth.
    VG crossie. Got all done without ref to anyrhing , but nice to struggle over most as these tax our grey matter, and if too easy might as well do just back page or the D Mail one !
    Like everyone I could nt get 9a though, coming up with wagner,gainer,warner and such rubbish – if banner was common finance term I´d have heard of it – it is nt , and should nt be there, but the rest very well constructed and unamiguous 4* On to May 1st ´s now , on May 19th