Toughie 1563

Toughie No 1563 by proXimal

Hints and tips by Dutch

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

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

Go on, give it a go! I found it hard, but you have the hints. This puzzle will be enjoyed by those who like difficulty and clever, original clueing – a good toughie. A few smiles for surface readings (8d, 13d, 21a) and some big penny drop moments (4d, 23a) – and a lot of serious head-scratching

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    Duck used in sauces for Far Eastern leaders (8)
SUPREMOS: Rich creamy sauces used mainly with chicken breast with the second E (far eastern) replaced by O (duck)

6a    Popinjays nested around exit (3,3)
POP OFF: A 3-letter word for popinjay or dandy is inserted into itself (nested) and the lot is reversed (around)

9a    Carry out  case (6)
ACTION: Double definition, case being of the legal kind

10a    Domestic bird seized by half-cut criminal (8)
INTERNAL: A 4-letter aquatic bird goes inside (seized) the second half of criminal

11a    Lag behind emergency transport (4,4)
LIFE RAFT: A prisoner with a very long sentence (lag) plus a 3-letter nautical term for behind

12a    Devoted time, in need of practice (6)
TRUSTY: The abbreviation for time plus a word meaning out-of-practice

13a    One disputing cowboy shirt retail price, at first (4-8)
HAIR-SPLITTER: Anagram (cowboy) of SHIRT RETAIL P(rice)

16a    Staggering university graduate with two drinks, hugging bachelor (12)
UNIMAGINABLE: Three-letter abbreviation for University, someone with a master’s degree, then two 3-letter alcoholic drinks surrounding B(achelor)

19a    Scandinavian heading off to join British exile (6)
BANISH: “From Denmark” with the first letter removed follows B(ritish)

21a    Jeer about principal of horrible comprehensive (5-3)
CATCH-ALL: A jeer, normally a whistle or shrill cry, goes around the first letter (principal) of Horrible

23a    First answer family doctor within seconds (8)
KINGPINS: The definition (First answer) is the answer to 1a (took me a while!). Three-letter word for family, a 2-letter abbreviation for doctor, 2-letter word meaning within and the abbreviation for seconds.

24a    Trip over centre of huge round container (6)
OUTING: The abbreviation for over, then the middle two letters of huge surround a 3-letter metal container (not can)



25a    Picked up net stocking left behind in flat (6)
LEARNT: A four-letter word meaning to net, or make money, is stuffed inside (stocking) the abbreviation for left and the last letter (behind) in flat

26a    Uncovered vast issue about ship to be reviewed (8)
ASSESSED: The middle two letters (uncovered) of vast, then a 4-letter word meaning issue or offspring surrounding the abbreviation for steamship


2d    Ragamuffin taking part in church initiative (6)
URCHIN: Lurking (taking part in) church initiative

3d    Call up energy suppliers on the phone (5)
RAISE: A homophone (on the phone) of radiation beams (energy suppliers) that might come from the sun or from a microwave

4d    Partial to you proceeding with demotion of leader (3-6)
MAN-EATING: This “partial to you” is not in your interest: take a 9-letter word meaning proceeding or flowing out, and move the initial E down to the 4th position (with demotion of leader)

5d    Biblical man’s upset about two worshippers (7)
SHIITES: The third son of Adam and Eve’s reversed (make sure you keep the ‘s) around the Roman numeral for two (This was my initial reaction when I looked at this crossword)

6d    Not great end for top 80s film character The Thing (5)
PETIT: Last letter (end) of top, the eponymous alien in an 80’s Spielberg movie, plus a two letter pronoun meaning “the thing”

7d    Amoral man acquired by PM (English) for spin (9)
PIROUETTE: A 4-letter amoral man or rake is surrounded by (acquires) an ex-prime minister (father or son) and followed by the abbreviation for English

8d    Obligations of chameleon … eat flies (8)
FEALTIES: Anagram (chameleon) of EAT FLIES (and a new word for me)

13d    Longing to eat big cheese on one cracker (9)
HUMDINGER: Longing (to eat!) surrounds (to eat) a 2-letter abbreviation for the big boss of a company plus the Roman numeral for one

14d    Drinks deliveries with no word of hesitation (9)
LIBATIONS: An 11-letter word for deliveries or releases without a 2-letter hesitation

15d    Intruding in vessel, circumventing four on watch, say (8)
INVASIVE: In from the clue, and a vessel in which you might put flowers around (circumventing) the Roman numeral for four (as you might see on a watch)

17d    Acquisition can be made with this capital, quit stressing (7)
NICOSIA: A compound anagram: ACQUISITION can be made from an anagram (stressing) of the answer (which is the capital of a Mediterranean island) + QUIT

18d    Butcher’s frozen flanks — new (6)
GLANCE: The definition is butcher’s as in the Cockney rhyming slang for look (butcher’s hook). A cooking term meaning frozen goes around (flanks) the abbreviation for new

20d    House is tall, entirely lacking lift (5)
HOIST: The 2-letter abbreviation for house, “is” from the clue, and t(all) without all (lacking entirely)

22d    What? We mustn’t have whiskeys, son can’t stand (5)
HATES: “What we” without the Ws (W=whiskey, radio communication code) plus the abbreviation for son

I thought 6a was clever with a nice surface, I think this is my favourite. What did you like?


  1. halcyon
    Posted March 4, 2016 at 2:26 pm | Permalink

    Pretty tough, but a bit of a mixed bag. Some really clever clues – 1a [Far Eastern] 6a [popinjays nested] 21a [principal of horrible] 23a [first answer – which I missed].
    I’m not convinced by “stressing” in 17d which doesn’t need an anagrind there [“can be made” does the job perfectly well]. And in 15d the whole point about the 4 on a watch is that it traditionally isn’t IV but IIII.
    Quibbles apart, a satisfying solve.

    Thanks to proXimal and to Dutch for the blog [and for spotting the link from 23a to 1a].

    • Hanni
      Posted March 4, 2016 at 2:48 pm | Permalink

      Well done indeed to Dutch for spotting the 1/23a link. Beyond me.

  2. Hanni
    Posted March 4, 2016 at 2:27 pm | Permalink

    To say that I found this hard is one heck of an understatement. I needed Dutch’s hints to parse 2 of the clues, missed the hidden for ages and had to look up 8d.

    23a and 17d were just bunged in..gave up trying to parse them and just waited for the blog to be up. And thank goodness I can read it because I still don’t think I would have got there.

    Really liked 6a and 13d. Favourite goes to 8d (once I’d confirmed it was a word). Such a nice surface.

    Many thanks to ProXimal and to Dutch for a great and much needed blog.

    Have a good weekend all.

  3. Physicist
    Posted March 4, 2016 at 3:40 pm | Permalink

    I thought this was the toughest Toughie in ages. I made very slow progress, and needed Dutch’s excellent hints for 1a, 11a and 5d, so many thanks to him and proXimal.

    • andy
      Posted March 4, 2016 at 9:20 pm | Permalink


  4. JB
    Posted March 4, 2016 at 5:20 pm | Permalink

    Got there in the end except for 5d. Well, I am a lady!
    Didn’t like 6a – too like the wording of the clue and “popinjay” is too good a word to waste like this.
    Feel smug at getting the fact that 1a and 23a were connected.
    Favourite? 11a.
    After all that effort it is time to have a 14d!

  5. jean-luc cheval
    Posted March 4, 2016 at 5:34 pm | Permalink

    Very tough toughie.
    Was beaten by 5d too as I was sure 10a was either maternal or paternal for some strange reason. Mind you, even with the right answer I probably wouldn’t have found it.
    Got the link in 1/23a by parsing the latter which in turn helped me get 1a. Always do these things the other way round.
    Favourite is 11a.
    Thanks to Proximal and to Dutch for the explanations.

  6. KiwiColin
    Posted March 4, 2016 at 5:49 pm | Permalink

    That took me a lot of effort and a very long time but I did eventually get it all sorted apart from the parsing of 25a. I had the right answer but could only see ‘stocking’ as meaning ‘containing’ rather than ‘being contained by’. The biggest penny-drop moment was with 23a. I had worked out the probable answer from the checkers and wordplay but it still took ages to understand the definition.
    Thanks ProXimal and Dutch.

  7. stanXYZ
    Posted March 4, 2016 at 6:07 pm | Permalink

    Many thanks to Dutch for the review.

    Most things have now been explained.

    I think proXimal is far too clever for me …

    … it only took me two bottles of wine and 20 cigarettes to fail to solve this one.

    • Dutch
      Posted March 4, 2016 at 6:12 pm | Permalink

      I like that – I think you’re on the right track, I solved it with a hangover…. Wine would have been welcome

      • Hanni
        Posted March 4, 2016 at 7:48 pm | Permalink

        It’s Friday, wine is compulsory! Especially after that solve.

  8. Wolfson Bear
    Posted March 4, 2016 at 10:43 pm | Permalink

    Wow! A stinker! Agree with 5* difficulty. I am not fully into this setters style but it is lovely to have a challenge so no complaints from me

  9. Expat Chris
    Posted March 4, 2016 at 11:45 pm | Permalink

    With 3/4 done, painfully I might add, I ran aground in the NW corner. Too tortuous for me to pick any favorites so I will just acknowledge ProXimal as a master sadist and thank Dutch for the clarification of those I missed.