Toughie No 1442 by proXimal
It’s not Friday, is it?
+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +
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.
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.
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?