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Toughie 1268

Toughie No 1268 by proXimal

Not so ‘Phew!’

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

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

‘Phew!’ was my reaction to the first proXimal puzzle that I blogged and so I started this one with some trepidation. However the bottom half went in fairly quickly with the help of the two long anagrams. The top half took longer but even so I would have probably only have given the puzzle 3* for difficulty had I not spent a long time trying to suss out how the clue for 25 across worked.

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.


1a    Chicken‘s bed about to be pinched by slug (10)
SPATCHCOCK: A chicken slit lengthways, opened out, and cooked = a bed (plot of land) and C (about) inside ‘to slug’

6a    Cosmetic coat unevenly spread with edges of trowel (4)
TALC: A powder applied to the skin to absorb moisture = an anagram (spread) of the odd letters of CoAt and the first and last letters of TroweL

9a    Heard about Napoleon’s men getting decorated (7)
TRIMMED: ‘Heard’ (in a legal sense) round two occurrences of the abbreviation for ‘Monsieur’

10a    Nasty fuss following task ignored by leader (7)
OBSCENE: A fuss (5) follows a 3-letter word for ‘task’ with the first letter removed

12a    In row, sceptic repulsed excellent health care worker (13)
DIAGNOSTICIAN: A sceptic (8) and a reversal of ‘excellent’ (2) inside a row (noise) (3)

14a    Start letter poorly (3,3)
TEE OFF: ‘To start (at golf)’ = the spelt-out form of the 20th letter of the alphabet + ‘poorly’

15a    Pescatarian tucked into portion not containing a bird (8)
DOTTEREL: An animal that eats fish (5) inside a portion (4) with the letter A removed

17a    Wrongly specify pine for gallery (8)
MISSTATE: When split (4,4) it suggests ‘pine for a gallery in London’

19a    Elastic factory one’s invested in (6)
PLIANT: I (one) inside a factory

22a    Minor is financing IT complex (13)
INSIGNIFICANT: An anagram (complex) of IS FINANCING IT

24a    Lecherous look clearing centre of Bayeux (4,3)
GLAD EYE: A clearing in a wood + the middle two letters of BaYEux

25a    Regular guy’s heart, all can understand (7)
UNIFORM: The answer is the word used in the NATO phonetic alphabet for the middle letter of gUy. This should be understood by all those who transmit and receive voice messages by radio or telephone regardless of language barriers. This clue doesn’t grab me

26a    US city rejecting any of educational basics (4)
RENO: The answer is a city in Nevada. Reverse it and split it (3,1) and it could be Reading, ‘Riting or ‘Rithmetic

27a    Temper half lost about ultimately galling article in news (10)
STRENGTHEN: ‘To temper’ = the second half of ‘loST‘ + ‘about’ + the last letter of gallinG + the definite article inside N and N (N = new, therefore NN = news)


1d    People regularly wasted time in appeal (4)
SOTS: T (time) inside an appeal for help

2d    Clue provider‘s strain to stop in retirement (7)
ARIADNE: The girl who gave Theseus a clue (or ball of thread) = A strain (song) + a reversal of ‘to stop’

3d    Stress from engagement card and a gift being misplaced interrupting a day (6,7)
COMBAT FATIGUE: Stress from battle = ‘to card’ + an anagram (misplaced) of A GIFT inside A and a day of the week

4d    Work on PC‘s daughter replacing spy chief in future (6)
CODING: Take an adjective meaning ‘future’ and replace M (spy chief) with D (daughter)

5d    Arm‘s put out, the forepart (8)
CROSSBOW: Arm (weapon) = ‘put out (annoyed)’ + the forepart

7d    Creative person’s space invention runs, having worried superior (7)
ATELIER: An artist’s studio = an invention + R (runs) following (or below) ‘worried’

8d    New dawn sweeps past (5,5)
CLEAN SLATE: ‘Sweeps’ (6) = ‘past’ (4)

11d    Dazzling sign rehashed with lilac tint (13)
SCINTILLATING: An anagram (rehashed) of SIGN LILAC TINT

13d    European sports car covered by nettle plant, partly (4,6)
STEM GINGER: E (European) and the marque of a British sports car inside a word that could mean a nettle = an underground part of a particular plant with a hot taste

16d    Broadcast about rising pollution is commanding attention (8)
STRIDENT: ‘Broadcast’ (as the past tense of the verb) goes round a reversal of ‘pollution’

18d    Support American involved in slur (7)
SUSTAIN: ‘To support’ = American inside a stain

20d    Caper around old hills, originally ancient city (7)
ANTIOCH: A caper round O (old) + the first letter of Hills = an ancient Greek city

21d    Fervour to hold in stomach reduced physique (6)
FIGURE: Fervour (4) goes round stomach (3) with the first letter removed

23d    Foreboding wife shunned by females (4)
OMEN: Remove W (wife) from ‘females’

While writing the review I decided to up the enjoyment rating to 4*

12 comments on “Toughie 1268

  1. Tricky puzzle today but enjoyable, favourites were 2d 3d and 13d thanks to Proximal and to Bufo for the comments.

  2. I really enjoyed this a lot, certainly not as ferocious as some but strangely satisfying, many thanks to proXimal and to Bufo for the excellent review.

  3. A bit of a mixed bag. I also got the bottom half fairly easily but the top proved more resistant.

    There are some excellent clues here, particularly 27a [which gets the Osmosis award for wordplay] and 1d [my last in, with a very witty definition]. – but I agree that 25a is a bit feeble. In addition I don’t think the definition in 13d is particularly fair and the def in 12a is also questionable.

    Thanks to ProXimal and to Bufo for an excellent review.

  4. Couldn’t finish this one. I had tipster for 2 down, a sort of amalgam between rest and pit. I could have done with ariadne’s thread to show me the way. The whole of NW corner remained completely blank. For 1a I was looking for something between clout for slug and cot or coop for the chicken bed. Miles away it seems. Loved the long anagrams 11d and 22a. thanks to proXimal and to bufo for the answers.

  5. Thanks to proXimal for the entertaining puzzle and to Bufo for the review (especially for the explanation of 25a which had me baffled).

  6. Seems to be a bottoms first day (same for back page). I struggled to extend from the bottom half to top half but then got 1d which i think is a great clue. The chicken (1a) is a new one to me, last one in was 15a, i had tried to put the fish-eater inside meal, only to get a non-existent bird. Great puzzle. Many thanks ProXimal and Bufo for the enlightenment ( I had also missed the wordplay for 25a!)

  7. Completed the bottom half but came unstuck completely in the NW corner except for 4D, not helped by having battle fatigue for 3D. I found this very difficult and slow going and was pleased to have completed as much as I did. Thanks to Proximal, and to Bufo for the much needed hints and explanations.

  8. We also ended up with 25a correct but unexplained and had to consult Google to confirm the plant in 13d. We certainly found it quite a challenge but a satisfying one. Must try and find an excuse to slip ‘pescatarian’ into a conversation at some time. Enjoyable solve.
    Thanks ProXimal and Bufo.

  9. We seem to have a 25a theme of responses re 25a :) Needed to confirm 15a was an actual bird (new to me). Agree with the ratings. Loved 1d. Thanks to Bufo and ProXimal

  10. Pretty close to 4* difficulty, but worth the effort. I needed 3 of Bufo’s hints to fill the NW corner, so cannot claim an unaided completion. 12a was good, l thought. My thanks to ProXimal (one day I’ll get there!) and to Bufo.

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