Toughie 1442

Toughie No 1442 by proXimal

It’s not Friday, is it?

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

I reckon that this is the toughest puzzle that we’ve had from proXimal so far and I really had to work to tease out the answers, so all of you who found this a breeze give yourself a pat on the back. I enjoyed the battle a lot, so many thanks to the setter.

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 Does it matter strangling this puzzle’s author slightly? (8)
SOMEWHAT – an informal response (2,4) meaning ‘does it matter?’ or ‘why is that significant?’ goes round how proXimal refers to himself.

6a In Moscow, swapping one vessel for another (6)
MODISH – swap the boat in Moscow for a different type of vessel.

9a Spit and mock sportsperson (6)
RINGER – double definition – the first an exact replica and the second a sportsperson fraudulently substituted for another.

10a Novel about a henchman on vacation a long way overseas (8)
AUTOBAHN – an anagram (novel) of ABOUT followed by A and the outer letters of henchman.

11a Sealed with ‘Fail’, screw up note showing one’s bottom (8)
DERRIÈRE – a verb to screw up or make a mistake is contained inside a verb to fail or conk out. After that we have a note from tonic sol-fa. The surface is rather clunky.

12a Irish comic sent packing by hilariously disorderly audience in US (3-3)
YOU-ALL – remove the muddled (comic) letters of IRISH from hilariously and make an anagram (disorderly) of what’s left.

13a Stick-in-the-mud part of scarecrow? (7,5)
STUFFED SHIRT – this could be a padded garment used in the construction of a scarecrow. I’m not convinced that the answer means a stick-in-the-mud (which to my mind is someone dull and unadventurous). To me it means a very pompous person.

16a Not very sinful, swallowing nothing in concert (4,3,5)
WITH ONE VOICE – a phrase meaning having just a single shortcoming contains the letter that resembles zero.

19a Controlled men abruptly interrupting bore (6)
HELMED – this my last answer as I was trying to find a bore, i.e. a noun – in fact we need a verb meaning bore or carried, into which is inserted ME(n).

21a Go around banks — rejected dearest (8)
SIDESTEP – banks or edges followed by the reverse of an endearment.

23a After conquest, one endeavouring to be less hospitable (8)
WINTRIER – a conquest or victory followed by one who endeavours.

24a Reptile expert penning article with another on island (6)
IGUANA – a word used down under for an expert shearer (not a meaning I knew – my thanks are due to the BRB) contains an indefinite article. Then add the same article again and precede the whole lot with the single-letter abbreviation for island.

25a Fire man of the cloth, getting bishop as replacement leader (6)
BEACON – start with a junior minister of religion (I’m not sure of the exact hierarchy – does this minister rank above or below a curate?) and change the first letter to the chess abbreviation for bishop.

26a Labs maybe in contact with group of people to find gofer (8)
DOGSBODY – to work out what labs are here have a peek at my avatar. Now add a group of people.

Down Clues

2d Chef’s without right fruit (6)
OLIVES – drop the R(ight) from the surname of a celebrity chef, not forgetting the ‘S.

3d Cut out starter on American flier making you hungry (5)
EAGER – there’s a bit of GK needed here. Drop the first letter from the surname of the US pilot who was the first to fly supersonic.

4d Buffoon husband, a disaster around the French queen (9)
HARLEQUIN – start with H(usband) then put a disaster or catastrophe (1,4) round ‘the’ in French and an abbreviation for queen.

5d Criminal, one of many in gunpowder plot? (3,4)
TEA LEAF – gunpowder here is a type of hot drink coming from China.

6d Ice finally sinks in substantial cordial (5)
MATEY – start with an adjective meaning substantial or full of substance and drop the final letter of ice a couple of places.

7d Rake beach ground with due energy (9)
DEBAUCHEE – an anagram (ground) of BEACH and DUE followed by E(nergy).

8d Academics cold, initially, hating piercing of star son (8)
SCHOLARS – C(old) and the initial letter of hating go inside an adjective meaning of or about our nearest star. Finish with S(on).

13d Diagram so overwhelming male in card game (9)
SCHEMATIC – the Latin word for so contains M(ale) inside a children’s card game in which truthfulness is not a necessity.

14d Not straight about origin of loot to support daughter in recession (9)
DWINDLING – an adjective meaning not straight or meandering contains the original letter of loot and that all follows D(aughter).

15d Vital support mechanism raising the Roman cat (8)
LIFELINE – reverse (raising) a definite article as used by an inhabitant of modern-day Rome and add another word for cat.

17d Recording guards irritable wearing protective gear (7)
VISORED – the abbreviation for a recording of visual images contains an adjective meaning irritable or painful.

18d Streaked during heatwave in Edinburgh (6)
VEINED – hidden.

20d See fit European in audience (5)
DEIGN – sounds like a northern European.

22d Fledgling group of soldiers, mostly British (5)
SQUAB – a small group of soldiers is docked (mostly) and followed by an abbreviation for British.

I’d pick out 1a, 12a and 5d but my favourite clue (for the superb definition) is 10a. Which one(s) appealed to you?

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25 Comments

  1. crypticsue
    Posted August 5, 2015 at 2:37 pm | Permalink

    Ifyou are stuck on this one and have only solved 10 clues, I recommend a trip to Broadstairs and a crab sandwich lunch as 4 hours ‘ cogitation’ time enabled me to solve the rest when I got home.

    Properly tough thank you Mr X and Gazza too. Really glad this wasn’t yesterday’s toughie

  2. halcyon
    Posted August 5, 2015 at 2:41 pm | Permalink

    A breeze? Good grief – put this setter back on Friday duty. Finished at last but without grasping the flyer in 3d [so thanks for that Gazza]. Agree 11a is a bit iffy but more than made up for by the superb clues either side: 10a has clever wordplay and a superbly cryptic def whilst 12a is a nice example of a type of clue that’s so easy to do badly. I also liked 16a [not very sinful].

    Many thanks to proXimal and to Gazza for an excellent blog.

  3. Shropshirelad
    Posted August 5, 2015 at 3:35 pm | Permalink

    Nothing to scare the horses here – I DON’T THINK!!!! Whatever have we done to upset proXimal and if you know what it is then we best not do it again.

    A really tough ‘Toughie’ that was just (and only just) within my capabilities. With the exception of 11a, there are far too many excellent clues to pick out a singular favourite, so I will demur. I will now have to go and lie down in a nice dark room with a wet flannel to recover.

    Thanks to proXimal for the puzzle and Gazza (et al) for the review and letting me know that it wasn’t just me who found this difficult.

    I’m glad BD didn’t come knocking on my door today.

  4. Hanni
    Posted August 5, 2015 at 3:53 pm | Permalink

    The horses are terrified and bolting around the fields.

    I haven’t read the blog yet but wanted to see what difficulty rating this had. DEFCON 1 seems appropriate. I’ve only got 11 answers. Must try harder.

  5. Kath
    Posted August 5, 2015 at 4:00 pm | Permalink

    Can those of us who didn’t find it a breeze and didn’t quite manage to finish it give ourselves a pat on the back for getting as far as we did? http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_whistle3.gif

    • Kath
      Posted August 5, 2015 at 7:31 pm | Permalink

      What’s just occurred to me as I was wandering round saying “night night” to my very dry garden is that, instead of asking for pats on the back, I should have given gazza several pats on the back for not only finishing this one but doing the hints too. There isn’t a “little face” for a pat on the back so a http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_good.gif will have to do!
      What spoilt brats we’re all becoming!

      • gazza
        Posted August 5, 2015 at 8:02 pm | Permalink

        Thanks, Kath. I must admit it was a bit of a shock when I printed off the puzzle this morning and read through the clues.

        • Hanni
          Posted August 5, 2015 at 8:15 pm | Permalink

          Well done indeed Gazza!

      • Jane
        Posted August 5, 2015 at 8:39 pm | Permalink

        Oh dear, Kath – you’re quite right – what a complacent lot we are.
        All we have to do is press the little button and up pops all the answers along with an extra set of clues.
        Can you imagine the bewilderment if one day we pressed the little button and up popped a note saying ‘sorry guys, gave up on this one, you’re on your own’.
        We owe a great deal to all our bloggers – and that includes you, Kath, so stop hiding in the corner!

  6. Kath
    Posted August 5, 2015 at 4:09 pm | Permalink

    Rats – didn’t mean to press the post comment thingy!
    Well, that was jolly tricky.
    I ended up with four that I couldn’t do and a few more that I needed the hints to understand.
    I really enjoyed it – and it’s taken ages – all the things that I should have been doing have had to wait – oh dear!
    I liked 26a and 7d. I think my favourite was 1a – it seemed quite appropriate and could well happen.
    With thanks to proXimal and to gazza.

  7. Liverpool Mike
    Posted August 5, 2015 at 4:46 pm | Permalink

    Wow. Certainly tougher than the average Wednesday Toughie. When I finally finished and looked at the blog, I was glad to see the **** for difficulty. However in retrospect the clues were fair and there were no obscure words among the answers.
    Thanks to the proXimal and respect to Gazza for providing the hints

  8. Framboise
    Posted August 5, 2015 at 4:56 pm | Permalink

    Toughies as difficult as this one are definitely not my cup of tea and way beyond my ken! Went through it with the hints and had to reveal nearly all the answers. I shall plod on however. Who knows, I might have success one day. Many thanks to Gazza and to proXimal.

  9. Jane
    Posted August 5, 2015 at 7:51 pm | Permalink

    Got off to such a good start in the NW corner, but trailed off abysmally and only completed about half of this one without resorting to the excellent hints from Gazza.
    I did get the answer for 13d but couldn’t sort out the parsing – hadn’t heard of the card game.
    Didn’t have the GK knowledge required for 3d but thought of the US emblematic Eagle, took out the L for learner (cut out starter) and bunged an R on the end. Simples!!!
    No doubt it’s buried somewhere in the FAQ, but can someone tell me how one is being instructed to use just the outer letters of henchman in 10a? I’m guessing it’s something to do with ‘on vacation’ but can’t quite work it out.

    Really did like 1a and 5d – really didn’t like 11 or 12a.

    Thank you ProliXic – and many thanks to Gazza – the knight in shining armour as always. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_smile.gif

    • gazza
      Posted August 5, 2015 at 7:59 pm | Permalink

      I expect that Prolixic wouldn’t mind being credited with this one but the setter was actually proXimal.
      One of the meanings of vacation is ‘a vacating’ so it just means leave it (henchman in this case) empty, i.e. without the inside letters.

      • Jane
        Posted August 5, 2015 at 8:10 pm | Permalink

        Balderdash – I knew it was proXimal really! Interestingly, my computer always rejects a capital X in his name but had no objection to my putting it into Prolixic!
        Thank you for the ‘vacation’ explanation, Gazza – that particular patch of mud has cleared now!

  10. KiwiColin
    Posted August 5, 2015 at 7:53 pm | Permalink

    I started this one on my own after what had been a very busy day and found it really slow going. However the clues, when I eventually worked them out were all clever and satisfying so I kept going until there were just four left in the SW corner. At this stage the assistance of the other K was called in and we got to the stage where only 19a was left. This one took overnight cogitation until I twigged (much like Gazza) that bore needed to be a verb for the wordplay to work. A lot of hard effort but ultimately very satisfying.
    Thanks ProXimal and Gazza.

  11. Hanni
    Posted August 5, 2015 at 8:14 pm | Permalink

    I’ve finished. Needed the hints for a few. Remarkably clever stuff from ProXimal.
    Remarkably clever blogger.

    Many thanks to both.

    Oh God that was hard.

  12. Janet and Gavin
    Posted August 5, 2015 at 8:48 pm | Permalink

    Blimey, what a difference a day makes! We took this toughie on a tour of some pubs in Bilston Street… and enjoyed a lengthy, but satisfyingly fair battle which took a few pints and recourse to a couple of hints to confirm the answers, which were THE RIGHT STUFF. Many thanks to proXimal and Gazza. If toughies were easy why would we bother?
    Note to Chris, we caught a bus home.

  13. gazza
    Posted August 5, 2015 at 9:18 pm | Permalink

    It’s Petitjean tomorrow.

  14. jean-luc cheval
    Posted August 5, 2015 at 9:49 pm | Permalink

    Too hard for me.
    Was left with a few blanks and penciled answers as I couldn’t parse them.
    Got the cockney thief though and Gazza’s Labradors.
    But I had covered for 17d which made 21 impossible.
    Didn’t have a problem with SW corner apart from 16a of course.
    A great challenge.
    Thanks to Proximal and to Gazza for successfully solving the whole thing.

  15. andy
    Posted August 5, 2015 at 10:00 pm | Permalink

    Finished after twice CSues cogitation time, and still needed hint for 3d, GK I was unaware of. Anyway, Trent Bridge tomorrow :) Thanks to Gazza and proXimal

  16. Expat Chris
    Posted August 5, 2015 at 10:46 pm | Permalink

    Started this much earlier today and work called so had to put it away until now. Avoiding the hints and comments and hoping an evening libation or two will loosen up the little grey cells.

    • Posted August 6, 2015 at 12:17 am | Permalink

      It often works for us. Cheers! Janet

      • Expat Chris
        Posted August 6, 2015 at 12:31 am | Permalink

        Getting there…slowly.

  17. Expat Chris
    Posted August 6, 2015 at 2:58 am | Permalink

    Well, I was finally left with three unsolved (9A, 19A and 15D) and several which were correct bung-ins but for which post-entry parsing totally escaped me.Did I enjoy it? Not much. I did like 13A and 3D though. Thanks anyway to ProXimil and special thanks to Gazza for the unravelling.

    Listen up, y’all! I don’t care what the Big Red Bible says. Nobody, but nobody, this side of the pond ever says you-all with a hyphen ( I didn’t want to disappoint Gazza by letting that one pass without comment).