Toughie 1484

Toughie No 1484 by proXimal

Hints and tips by Dutch

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

Today is my son’s birthday, he is now a teenager. He has a new phone. Tomorrow I take him and his friends paint-balling (I’ll just take my kindle, thank you), so I will miss all of you going to the get-together in London – I hope you have loads of fun and good luck to all those entering the Times competition, CS?

Today proXimal gives us plenty of fun wordplay that makes for a most entertaining puzzle. It took me a while to parse 1a, 1d and 7d after the grid was full.

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 Pass, possibly, due to expire soon (5-5)
SHORT-DATED: First word = not long, second word = put a time to. The answer could be interpreted as a cryptic clue for “pass” (by removing the last letter from a 5-letter word)

6a Quarterly, aeroplane in Essex takes off (4)
APES: Every fourth letter in “aeroplane in Essex”

9a Greek goddess to fail endlessly going after cunning European (7)
ARTEMIS: a 3-letter word for cunning or skill, the abbreviation for E(uropean) and at the end (going after) a 4-letter word meaning fail, or fail to hit without the last letter (endlessly)

10a Not unknown in Olympiad to struggle for qualification (7)
DIPLOMA: Anagram (to struggle) of OL(Y)MPIAD without the Y (not unknown)

12a Girl trapping big cat in den close to snare she’s loaded (13)
MILLIONAIRESS: Russian dolls. An unmarried girl, into which (trapping) we place a big cat who is king of the jungle that is already found inside its 4-letter den to which we have added the last letter of (close to) snare.

14a King getting amorous outside was exhausted (3,3)
RAN DRY: A 5-letter word for amorous or sexually excited goes around the Latin abbreviation for King

15a Lounge layout disheartened artisan (8)
RESTORER: A 4-letter verb meaning to lounge or relax plus a 5-letter word for layout or sequence from which the middle letter is omitted (disheartened)

17a Confess about team cheating (8)
SCREWING: 4-letter verb meaning confess or squeal goes about a word for team, on a boat for example.

19a Drink might become cold if rejected (6)
COGNAC: Split (3,2,1) when read backwards (if rejected), this drink “might become C(old)”

22a Curses to that swimming pool with couple of females bare (4,3,3,3)
BLOW THE LID OFF: Bare here is a verb, as in uncover or reveal. Split (4,3,4), the first part of the answer is what someone might say when they are cursing the swimming pool. This is followed by a couple of (2) abbreviations for F(emale).

24a Scores owned by revolutionary? On the contrary (7)
NOTCHES: On the contrary suggests not owned by revolutionary – i.e., “not ***’s”

25a Relief  to get back into gear (7)
REDRESS: Double definition, gear being clothing.

26a Missing nothing, adds cleaning material to drains (4)
SAPS: Remove the “O” (missing nothing) from a verb meaning rubs with a bar of cleaning material

27a United, twice ignoring wingers in side, target nine to back (10)
INTEGRATED: A lurker (twice ignoring wingers), a backwards lurker (to back). Found in “side target nine”.


1d This brown dog barking could become so raged (4)
SEAR: Brown as in cooking. An anagram (barking) of the answer together with DOG would give SO RAGED

2d Writing found on arms after overturning a new seat (7)
OTTOMAN: The writing you might find on a crest of arms (or perhaps on a tattoo on your arms!) is reversed (after overturning) and followed by A N(ew).

3d Woman of strange power under acrobat’s control (7,6)
TUMBLER SWITCH: This controller for turning electricity on or off comes from a word for acrobat or gymnast, together with the ‘S, followed by a word for a sorceress

4d Gold and other metal found beneath South American city (6)
AUSTIN: The chemical symbol for gold, then another metal underneath the abbreviation for S(outh).

5d Risk death — drive up the wall (8)
ENDANGER: a 3-letter word for death or finish, and a 5-letter word for infuriate (drive up the wall)

7d With support around, I open up (7)
PIONEER: Place a 4-letter word for support or jetty around the number I. This took me ages to parse because I first thought the letters came from “I open”.

8d Bowled over by big hitter, son admitted to beginning fight (4-6)
STAR-STRUCK: Put the abbreviation for son inside (admitted to) a 5-letter word for beginning, followed by a 4-letter prison-slang word for fight

11d Nerd is troubled with 18 questions about procedure (6,2,5)
POINTS OF ORDER: Anagram (troubled) of NERD IS together with the letters in the answer to 18.

13d Image beneath skull generally frustrated doctor (10)
CROSSBONES: A 5-letter word for generally frustrated followed by a 5-letter nickname for doctor.

16d Fashionista not using an agent (2,6)
IN PERSON: A fashionista is a trendy someone, and if you are not using an agent you are acting by yourself.

18d Mounted low-grade brackets frequently for upper side of structure (7)
ROOFTOP: Reversal of a 4-letter word for low-grade or lacking surrounds (brackets) a 3-letter word meaning frequently

20d Groupie upset, party is least worthwhile (7)
NAFFEST: reversal of a 3-letter word for groupie or admirer, followed by a word for party or gathering

21d Hot skewer with starter removed under force (6)
FIERCE: A 6-letter verb meaning skewer has its first letter (starter) removed and is placed under the Physics symbol for F(orce)

23d Scratching so, drunk gets treated (4)
USED: A 6-letter word meaning drunk has “so” removed (scratching so)

Once I eventually parsed them, 1a and 1d became my favourites – which were yours?


  1. Hanni
    Posted October 16, 2015 at 2:40 pm | Permalink


    By hook or by crook. Another 5* difficulty day for me.

    Couldn’t figure out where the ‘pass’ came into operation for 1a. Didn’t see the ‘support’ in 7d, just bunged it in.

    19a and 20d were my last in. The former proved nearly impossible to parse for ages.

    Gosh. What a struggle, a very enjoyable struggle mind.

    1 and 13d stood out for me.

    Many thanks to proXimal and to Dutch for a great blog. Happy birthday to your son. Enjoy the Kindle/paintballing.

  2. jean-luc cheval
    Posted October 16, 2015 at 2:58 pm | Permalink

    First read didn’t yield very much. In fact just 10a (qualification) but I spotted the “frequently” in 18d and immediately thought of “oft” giving maybe a loft thing. Then noticed the link with 11d and guessed the answer, worked the anagram backwards to get 18d and I was off.
    Some really good clues here. From the “writing on arms” in 2d to the ” image beneath skull” in 13d and the “can go cold” of 19a not forgetting the ” blow the lido” in 22a….. Could go on forever.
    One of the best crossword I have encountered in my humble opinion.
    Many many thanks to Proximal and to Dutch for the review.

  3. Expat Chris
    Posted October 16, 2015 at 3:02 pm | Permalink

    I was left with 1D unsolved. Now that I know the answer, I don’t like the clue one bit. I took the short in 1A to mean pass as in short circuit. I had the answer to 19A from the checking letters, but failed to parse it. Dutch, I don’t understand your hint for that clue at all. I did enjoy the puzzle, with 24A raising a smile. Thanks to ProXimal and to Dutch.

    • Jane
      Posted October 16, 2015 at 3:11 pm | Permalink

      Hi Chris,
      19a – look at the answer – reverse it and then make a 3/2/1 split. ‘Cold’ is only represented by its initial letter.

      • Expat Chris
        Posted October 16, 2015 at 3:58 pm | Permalink

        Thanks. All I can say is “ugh.”

  4. Jane
    Posted October 16, 2015 at 3:06 pm | Permalink

    This was definitely into 4/5* territory for me, with at least 4* for enjoyment.
    Plenty of them were ‘bung it in, parse it later’ e.g the 11/18d combo where the multi-word answer was easy enough and the rest just an anagram of what was left.
    Didn’t – and still don’t – like the parsing of 1a. Doesn’t work too well for me.
    Took a long time to twig the required definition at 7d and made a bit of a hash of 16d, having settled for ‘in season’ using seasoning as an agent – very poor attempt!
    1d! You’ll really enjoy this interpretation:- Spit the dog is a brown dog who, when asked to bark, spits. Therefore (so) if he raged he would have ‘spat’. Works for me.
    Plenty of ticks for the nominees – 14,22,24&26a plus 13d. Favourite goes to my version of 1d!

    Many thanks to proXimal and to Dutch – I did wonder whether you would risk a pictorial representation of 17a!
    Steer well clear of the paint-ballers, keep your kindle well covered and make sure birthday boy is wearing plenty of layers of protective clothing – I’ve seen the bruises on returning combatants!

    • dutch
      Posted October 16, 2015 at 10:16 pm | Permalink

      did you also like the picture for 25a? (reddress!)

      • Jane
        Posted October 16, 2015 at 10:53 pm | Permalink

  5. JB
    Posted October 16, 2015 at 6:26 pm | Permalink

    Agree with those above. Don’t like 1a. I put it in without any of the hints but still don’t really understand the wordplay.

    I just blush at 20d – so inelegant for the Telegraph. I thought we were a class act!

    • Posted October 16, 2015 at 6:49 pm | Permalink

      PASSÉ is a synonym of dated, short indicates that the final letter should be dropped to get PASS.

      Say no more!

      • Jane
        Posted October 16, 2015 at 7:43 pm | Permalink

        Nice try, BD – but ‘realms of fantasy’ springs to mind!

      • Catherine
        Posted October 17, 2015 at 7:51 pm | Permalink

        Thanks BD! Makes perfect sense now.

  6. KiwiColin
    Posted October 16, 2015 at 7:01 pm | Permalink

    The NW corner did for me. I had the right answer for 1a but could not (and still can’t ) see the wordplay. I will give it more thought now I have the hint. 1d I could not get at all. Although there were plenty of good clues and clever mis-directions it all felt a bit of a slog which did tend to lessen the enjoyment for me. Or perhaps it is just the disappointment of not being able to complete it all. A stiff challenge with plenty to like.
    Thanks proXimal and Dutch.

    • KiwiColin
      Posted October 16, 2015 at 7:04 pm | Permalink

      Ah I see BD has explained 1a while I was writing that.

  7. andy
    Posted October 16, 2015 at 9:05 pm | Permalink

    Late to post, 13d made me laugh ,BIFD 1a and took me ages to sort out the wordplay, thanks to Dutch and ProXimal