Toughie 1356 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 1356

Toughie No 1356 by proXimal

Elgar has some competition!

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

ProXimal is fitting very neatly into the Friday slot. A very enjoyable puzzle.

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    Tick puncturing tasty journalist consumed voraciously (10)
DEMOLISHED: put a tick or brief period of time inside the informal shortening of an adjective meaning tasty or appetizing and add the usual journalist

6a    Advance warning left by extremists relating to area incorporating canal (4)
OTIC: drop the outer letters (extremists) from an advance warning to get an adjective meaning relating to an area of the body that incorporates a canal

9a    Quickly moved after parking by rear of building causes accident (5)
PRANG: a three-letter verb meaning moved quickly preceded by P(arking) and followed by the final letter (rear) of [building]G

10a    Not to be shifted, one in Paris rejected English pound, unfortunately (9)
UNSALABLE: the alternative spelling of an adjective meaning not to be shifted or exchanged in return for money comes from the French for one followed by the reversal of E(nglish), the two-letter abbreviation for a pound in weight and a word meaning unfortunately – does this spelling of the word grate on you, or is it just me?

12a    Promoted British beer, getting blocked by non-drinker’s violent confrontation (7,6)
PITCHED BATTLE: a verb meaning promoted or interested someone in buying, familiar to those who watch The Apprentice, followed by B(ritish) and a beer around the two-letter abbreviation for those who don’t drink said beer

14a    Deferential one overwhelmed by negative effect after award (8)
OBEDIENT: I (one) inside (overwhelmed by) a negative effect, such as a reduction in an amount of money, all preceded by an award

15a    Almost conveying your thoughts without words, sometimes that’s what the present should do (4,2)
SIGN IN: start with a seven-letter verb meaning conveying your thoughts without words, as one might to a deaf person, then drop the final letter (almost)

17a    Second in litter switched to far end of dog shelter (6)
REFUGE: start with some litter or garbage then replace the S(econd) with the final letter (far end) of [do]G

19a    Prejudices about work to review energy sources (8)
BIOGASES: put some prejudices around the reversal (to review) of a two-letter verb meaning to work

21a    Join together with people in dirty sport (13)
ENTERTAINMENT: a verb meaning to join or enlist followed by (together with) some (male) people inside a verb meaning to dirty or soil

24a    Rearranged armload before it becomes awkward (9)
MALADROIT: an anagram (rearranged) of ARMLOAD followed by IT

25a    Occupied north of Mexico, and east (2,3)
IN USE: where one who is north of Mexico might be (2,2) followed by E(ast)

26a    Denials of group of sailors hiding central member (4)
NAYS: a possessive noun meaning of a large group of sailors (4’1) without (hiding) the middle letter (central member) – surely this should say “groups of sailors”?

27a    One nun heartlessly hiding church journal is out for trouble (10)
INCENDIARY: I (one) and N[u]N without her inner letter (heartlessly) around (hiding) the Church of England all followed by a journal gives an adjective meaning out for trouble or provocative


1d    Muddled self-assembly — I should get changed for work (4)
DOPY: start with the three-letter abbreviation used these days for self-assembly furniture (there was a time when it actually meant making something rather than just screwing bits together!) then change the I for a two-letter musical work

2d    What you might pick up when being introduced to Greek character’s food (4,3)
MEAT PIE: sounds like (what you might pick up) a word meaning being introduced to and a letter in the Greek alphabet

3d    Dipper is so frightened to fly after lying oddly (5-8)
LIGHT-FINGERED: this adjective which describes a pickpocket (dipper is so) comes from an anagram (to fly) of FRIGHTENED after the odd letters of L[y]I[n]G

4d    All but top of bag in composition is tea (8)
SOUCHONG: a type of bag without (all but) its initial letter (top) inside a vocal composition

5d    Calmed European turning sad about another? (5)
EASED: E(uropean) followed by an anagram (turning) of SAD around another E(uropean)

7d    Brown bears I view from high land (7)
TIBETAN: a brown colour around I and a view or opinion

8d    Chapter not so much showing content of author’s genius (10)
CLEVERNESS: C(hapter) and an adverb meaning not so much around (showing content) the French author of some of the best-known science fiction novels

11d    Cowboy given able hoofed animal for surrendering (7,6)
LEAVING BEHIND: an anagram (cowboy) of GIVEN ABLE followed by a hoofed animal

13d    Young bouncer guarding vessel on isle is hired worker (10)
JOURNEYMAN: put a young kangaroo (bouncer) around a vessel or vase and add an isle in the Irish sea

16d    Sketch very small seal without head on top of note (8)
VIGNETTE: V(ery) followed by a small seal, of the kind used to authenticate a document, without its initial letter (head) and the seventh note of the scale in sol-fa notation

18d    Helper carrying pot in decisive manner (7)
FATALLY: a helper or accomplice preceded by (carrying in a down clue) a pot or vessel for holding liquids

20d    A thing to watch out for while serving up fruit (7)
SATSUMA: the A from the clue followed by a thing to watch out for or a necessity and a two-letter conjunction meaning while, all reversed (serving up in a down clue)

22d    What one of the piggies might have? (5)
ACORN: this oval nut, much liked as food by pigs, can be split (1,4) to get a small, painful area of thickened skin on a piggy or toe

23d    Raise defensive structure of America in conversation (4)
LEVY: this verb meaning to raise, for example, a tax sounds like (in conversation) defensive structure of America, like those in New Orleans

ARVE Error: need id and provider

An excellent puzzle from the first NTSPP graduate to set for the Telegraph.

24 comments on “Toughie 1356

  1. I had about 3/4 of this solved and then had to leave it to cogitate for quite a while, ending up with one I couldn’t quite see although the solution was obvious – at the risk of sounding like Brian, I didn’t know the first three letters of 18d could be a pot. 5*/3*

    Thanks to BD and ProXimal.

    1. I didn’t know the vessel either. I just thought the helper carrying pot(-belly) was a ‘fat ally’. :D

      1. That was my thought too. Shame it’s probably not what proXimal meant as I thought it was quite amusing.

    2. I also parsed “carrying pot” as fat or pot-bellied – I expect this is what Proximal intended, hence carrying?

  2. A pretty tough toughie. I agree that 26a does not read very well but I think that it needs to be group not groups so that the answer is xxxx’s and then remove the middle letter. The clue doesn’t really work with the plural.
    Thanks to BD for the review and to the setter.

  3. I thought 18 dn referred to a pot belly thus a friend with a pot belly would be a *** ****
    A good end to the week ,thanks to BD and ProXimal

  4. Finally got there but I found some clues a bit long winded, favourites were 12a and 22d thanks to Proximal and to Big Dave for the comments.

    1. I meant to mention the long-windedness – particularly in the Across clues where the long wordy clues are so crammed into the space available in the paper, they are verging on the difficult to read, never mind work out.

      1. I only find clues to be long-winded when it is extremely difficult to separate the definition from the wordplay – this is particularly true when the setter uses a cryptic definition together with wordplay. None of that applied today.

  5. BD – you could not be more topical in your image for 9a! I wonder if there were snakes in the cockpit…

  6. Thoroughly enjoyed this challenge from ProXimal, but I do agree with CS and Pegasus about the length of some of the across clues. However, lots of good clues to get the old grey matter back into shape. I think my favourite is probably 1a, but 9 & 12a came pretty close.

    Thanks to ProXimal for the puzzle and BD for his review – especially the picture for 9a (quick off the mark there BD

  7. What an amazing exercise in parsing! Most clues were a question of “well it must be xxx, but how on earth is that parsed?” After completing the puzzle, it still took me a while to parse 17a (second in litter…), 4d (tea) and 22d (piggies – didn’t twig that iberian ham is from acorn-fed pigs). I am happy to have parsed everything before the review. I also spent a long time in 3d trying to describe a fear of flying beginning with HT- (for height?).

    Great stuff. Competition for Elgar? Dunno, at least I managed to finished this one.

    Well done and thank you ProXimal, and thank you BD.

  8. I agree that the clues were very long which made the surface reading less interesting.
    6a and 7d were my last in and needed BD to understand the parsing.
    He helped me to understand 17a and 18d also which were more or less bunged in.
    Favourite is 20d today along with 12a.
    Framboise and family came for lunch today. A real pleasure to see her again.
    She’s starting to enjoy the toughies. I’m sure she will become a regular contributor on this rather less popular side of the blog.
    Thanks to Proximal and to The Master for his review.

    1. Hi Jean-luc,
      For a lot of us it’s a ‘time’ element. I really enjoy the back-pagers so always go there first – Toughies follow as and when I can. You’ll probably notice that more and more of us ‘lesser-solvers’ do actually make an effort with them, but the length of time it takes us would often preclude leading a normal life!

      Onward and upward – to quote dear Michael.

  9. Nearly scored another four star puzzle here, but I was defeated by 6a (just too clever), 10a and 13a. These last two I don’t understand even with the explanation. Any chance of a helping hand, BD? In 11d the use “cowboy” to indicate an anagram was new to me and I really only got the answer because nothing else would fit. I thought 2d and 13d were excellent. So, thank you Proximal and BD too. Sh-Shoney.

    1. 10a. Start with UN (one in Paris)and then read the rest of the answer backwards (rejected0 and you’ll see it’s E(nglish, LB (pound avoirdupois) and ALAS (unfortunately).

      There isn’t a 13a but 13d goes like this. A young bouncer is a young kangaroo (JOEY) and this is put around URN (vessel) and the whloe lot put on MAN (Isle of Man).

  10. We polished this one off in pretty reasonable time so were rather surprised to see the ratings. We had also parsed the first part of 18d as referring to a protuberant abdomen. It gave the same result. We did think that many of the clues were a bit verbose and clunky too. Good challenge, enjoyable solve.
    Thanks ProXimal and BD.

  11. Pretty damn fine crossword, I reckon. OK, a couple of the clues were a bit long but at least they had surfaces that made sense and, as BD implies [see 4 above] it was fairly obvious where the def was separated from the wordplay. And how else would you define “otic” without an obvious reference to “ear”?
    Favourite clues were 17a [beautifully misleading wordplay], 1d [clever construction and a perfect surface] 11d [cowboy as an anagrind!] and my pick of the bunch, 2d.

    Many thanks to ProXimal and BD.

  12. Quite a challenge and a nice puzzle. I was surprise I got them all right when I looked at the blog (I print off and use a pen and paper dictionary)

    A good toughie week – one that does not make one begrudge the subscription to the online service.

    Many thanks to ProXimal and BD

  13. I struggled with this, and needed 3 of BD’s hints in the NE corner. I’m getting better; not so long ago l wouldn’t have got anything like that far unaided. Certainly 4* difficulty, if not 5*, but some extremely clever clues. It wasn’t one of the cleverest, but my favourite was 3d. Thanks to ProXimal, and to BD for the helping hand.

  14. Since I’m quick to comment on the toughies I can do, it would be churlish of me not to comment on those I can’t. I managed 14 answers on this one. It was definitely too rich for my blood. Reading the review helped me to understand the setter’s way of thinking somewhat , so I am indebted to Big Dave. ProXimil, you set the bar high. Maybe I will do better next time.

  15. Following in Chris’s footsteps – I managed 17 answers and then fell back on BD’s review to untangle the remainder. Knowing that this blog is available makes me (and I’m sure many others) far more inclined to give these Toughies a try.
    Very much enjoyed the puzzle (apart from that horrid word at 10a) and felt that all the wordplay was both clever and fair.
    3d gets my vote of the day.

    Well done and many thanks, ProXimal – I’ll certainly persevere with your Toughies in the future.

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