Toughie 1623

Toughie No 1623 by proXimal

Hints and tips by Dutch

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

Possibly because I spent a long time in the pub watching the football and arguing EU politics, completely shocked to learn that an MP who shares my views was brutally murdered for her opinions, this puzzle may have taken me longer than it should have and I was unable to muster a lot of joy.

The definitions are underlined. Please leave a comment telling us what you thought of the puzzle. You can also add your assessment by selecting from one to five stars at the bottom of the post.


1a    Joggers set swan off, keeping fit backfired (10)
SWEATPANTS: Anagram (off) of SET SWAN goes around (keeping) the reversal (backfired) of a word meaning fit

6a    Exhibit open to view in auditorium (4)
BEAR: A homophone (in auditorium) of ‘open to view’ or exposed, naked

9a    Wide, blooming large creature (5)
WHALE: The abbreviation for wide plus a word meaning blooming or healthy

10a    Note twin tucked into sibling’s leftovers (9)
RESIDUALS: A musical note followed by a 4-letter word meaning twin or double inside a 3-letter sibling

12a    Blast shelter is soon to be cleaned out (4,4,5)

14a    Small space in stable … (8)
ENDURING: a printing measure (small space) plus a 6-letter word meaning ‘in’ (timewise)

15a    … humble servant of God requiring space inside (6)
DEMEAN: A 4-letter church official contains another printing measure (a slightly larger one than in 14a)

17a    Say something worthy about king (6)
ASSERT: Something of value about a 1-letter abbreviation for king

19a    Unsteady on nets after losing heart (8)
VARIABLE: A 6-letter word meaning ‘on’ or able to exist contains (nets) ‘after’ without its central letters

21a    Sibyl, popular one brought in to convey answer for ancients (13)
CARTHAGINIANS: A 3-letter word for sibyl or witch plus the usual word for popular and the Roman numeral for one goes between (brought in to) a 4-letter verb for convey or carry and the 3-letter abbreviation for answer

24a    Unwanted reminder about upper-class being too conceited (9)
OVERPROUD: A whimsical word for unwanted or excessive reminder goes around the single letter abbreviation for upper-class

25a    Recalled stuffing in Manchester United’s season (5)
INURE: Season here is a verb. A reverse lurker (recalled stuffing)

26a    19 blazes in East End roar (4)
YELL: A mathematical 19a plus how a Cockney might say blazes

27a    Strange man, but he’ll cook (10)
BLUMENTHAL: Anagram (strange) of MAN BUT HE’LL



1d    Recognised spades as bladed items (4)
SAWS: Recognised or spotted plus the abbreviation for spades

2d    Qualified journalist pens story with fellow that must be new (7)
ENABLED: The abbreviation for a chief journalist goes around (pens) a 5-letter moral narrative (story) in which the initial F(ellow) becomes N(ew)

3d    Start of row between loved ones in banker’s office (13)
TREASURERSHIP: The first letter of R(ow) goes into a 9-letter word meaning loved ones or darlings, followed by a 3-letter informal word meaning in or with it

4d    Vocal person likely to succeed, natural and upwardly mobile (8)
AIRBORNE: a double homophone of someone who succeeds (on someone else’s death) and a word meaning natural, as in having qualities already at birth

5d    Lower head in ceremonial style (5)
TASTE: an adjective meaning official (as in governmental) or ceremonial, in which the top letter is lowered two positions (in a down clue) will give a word that could describe a personal style

7d    Slippery base on vessel with drip therein (7)
EVASIVE: The base of natural logarithms on a vessel that might contain flowers, containing an abbreviation for a drip you might find by a hospital bed

8d    Naively optimistic, tried on tight restricting ensemble (4-6)
ROSE-TINTED: Anagram (tight, as in drunk) of TRIED ON goes around (restricting) a 3-letter word for ensemble or group

11d    Broadcasting House people needing inspectors at the top (13)
DISSEMINATION: A house (of the two-under-one-roof kind) plus the people of a state, preceded by and abbreviation for police inspectors (plural)

13d    Low fruit agricultural worker gathered in drum (10)
MELANCHOLY: Thankyou Gazza! A double homophone (gathered in [ear]drum) of a fruit (think Galia or honeydew) and a sheepdog. I had completely missed the homophone indicator

16d    Engineer admits no exalted status (8)
SAINTDOM: Anagram (engineer) of ADMITS NO

18d    Bizarre uniform on bishop in Cork (7)
SURREAL: The international radio communication letter coded by Uniform plus a 2-letter abbreviation for bishop goes inside a 4-letter verb meaning cork or close up

20d    Chemical element upset stomach in clergyman pre-op (7)
BISMUTH: Reversal (upset) of an informal 3-letter word for stomach goes inside the clergyman seen in the previous clue (but without the ‘op’)

22d    Although odd, short plastic hat provides shade (5)
GHOUL: An anagram (odd) of ALTHOUGH without (short) and anagram (plastic) of HAT gives a word that I associate with a ghost – so maybe shade as in ghost?

23d    Anatomical part that would be rotating inside wing (4)
HEEL: An anatomical part on the bottom of your foot which if put inside wing would give an 8-letter word meaning rotating

I think 12a probably raised the biggest smile for me – how about you?


  1. Hanni
    Posted June 17, 2016 at 3:17 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Struggled with large parts of this particularly 22d (didn’t connect the description to the answer for a long time), 21a (blimey..needed all the checkers and then to write the word out a few times to make sure I’d got it right), 3d (see previous), 11d (as before)…you see the pattern.

    Really liked 12a, 8d and 16d. Favourite is the lovely 27a.

    Many thanks to ProXimal and to Dutch for a brilliant blog. Where you got the pic for 12a I don’t know :grin:

    I think J-L put it best on the other side..”What is the world coming to at the moment?”…I share your sentiments. Unbelievably sad.

  2. jean-luc cheval
    Posted June 17, 2016 at 3:20 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Just couldn’t sort out the SW corner.
    The only answer for 13d that made sense was “defamatory” which I couldn’t parse and made 21a impossible.
    Couldn’t find “overprod” in the BRB although “overproud” was in the boxes below so I just penciled it in.
    Didn’t get the “surreal” nor the “ghoul”.
    Favourite is 23d.
    Thanks to Proximal and to Dutch for the much needed review. Off to work now. Have a good weekend.

    • Gazza
      Posted June 17, 2016 at 3:22 pm | Permalink | Reply

      I think that overprod has to be split into over (unwanted) and prod (reminder).

      • Hanni
        Posted June 17, 2016 at 3:25 pm | Permalink | Reply

        I missed that too. Yep..this was tough.

      • Dutch
        Posted June 17, 2016 at 3:28 pm | Permalink | Reply

        Yes, that makes more sense

  3. Verlaine
    Posted June 17, 2016 at 3:29 pm | Permalink | Reply

    It’s sad that this puzzle came on a day when so many had other things on their minds, as I thought it was a fine challenge, with loads of really clever stuff in it. Thanks to proXimal for another Toughie that really lived up to its billing.

  4. Physicist
    Posted June 17, 2016 at 3:33 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Another tough Toughie, which I just managed to complete without hints, though there were several I couldn’t fully parse, so thanks to ProXimal and Dutch (and to Gazza for 13d). JL, in 24a I don’t think ‘overprod’ needs to be a proper word; over means unwanted and prod means reminder.

  5. Heinz
    Posted June 17, 2016 at 4:12 pm | Permalink | Reply

    I’m adrift with 3d, the answer in the blog has 12 letters, but the grid asks for 13. Help please. This is too demanding for me.

    • Jane
      Posted June 17, 2016 at 4:23 pm | Permalink | Reply

      I think there’s an ‘R’ missing in the review for 3d and also an ‘S’ missing from 10a.

    • Gazza
      Posted June 17, 2016 at 4:26 pm | Permalink | Reply

      Now updated.

    • Moggy
      Posted June 17, 2016 at 4:30 pm | Permalink | Reply

      There’s a missing “r”.

  6. Jane
    Posted June 17, 2016 at 4:21 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Well above my pay grade so I was quite happy with getting 11 answers in before having to turn to the review to see how it should have been done.
    I realise it’s wrong but 22d worked quite well for me by taking one of the spellings of a type of waterproof and shortening it dramatically, which would leave you with just a plastic hat!
    Liked 1a and was unreasonably proud of myself for getting 21a.

    Thanks to ProXimal for the challenge and respect to Dutch for the review.

  7. Heinz
    Posted June 17, 2016 at 4:27 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Thank you Jane, you have solved one problem for me at least.

  8. 2Kiwis
    Posted June 17, 2016 at 6:11 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Too tough for us. We found it a bit like wading through treacle and abandoned it with most of the grid still blank when we ran out of available time.
    Well done Dutch for getting it all sorted.

  9. Wolfson Bear
    Posted June 17, 2016 at 6:34 pm | Permalink | Reply

    I’m glad this got 5 stars for difficulty because I found it as hard as any Toughie I have ever tried. I was also very surprised I got them all right as I could not explain all answers.

    I found it a bit strange – I thought of the answers with difficulty but not extreme difficulty in many cases but then could not explain them in a concrete way so I built up a grid with lots of answers pencilled in with little confidence.

    Most annoyingly I solved the anagram for the cook pretty easily but could not think of a cook called * – cooking is my main hobby and I mainly shop at Waitrose who have many * products. But I only ever think of him by his first name. I felt really silly when it dawned on me!

    • jean-luc cheval
      Posted June 17, 2016 at 11:44 pm | Permalink | Reply

      Spot on.
      That’s exactly how I felt.

  10. Nairnsue
    Posted June 17, 2016 at 7:36 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Well, that was interesting. I couldn’t have done it without the hints (not helped by the fact that I had one eye on the racing on tv, another wet day) and was a nano-second away from pressing ‘click’. So, many thanks to Dutch. I also had to look up some synonyms in a crossword dictionary, which I suspect constitutes cheating. But it was stimulating to have something so challenging, so thanks to proXimal as well. Quite liked 8d and 18d. I would add my voice to those mourning the sad news from Leeds. Whom the gods love ….

  11. Salty Dog
    Posted June 17, 2016 at 9:57 pm | Permalink | Reply

    I’m glad I’m not the only one to have floundered with this one. Certainly 5* for difficulty – mainly because I kept missing things like homophone indicators. Enjoyment is more difficult to assess (I don’t enjoy staring in perplexity at a clue I know I shall never unravel!). I needed 12 of Dutch’s hints, so I did quite a lot of said staring. That said, I was quite pleased with getting the ones I did solve unaided, notably 1a and 21a.

    Thanks to proXimal and Dutch.

  12. Expat Chris
    Posted June 17, 2016 at 10:54 pm | Permalink | Reply

    I got one answer. Just one.

    • stanXYZ
      Posted June 17, 2016 at 11:04 pm | Permalink | Reply

      I also got the easy one … and that wasn’t very easy.

      • jean-luc cheval
        Posted June 17, 2016 at 11:46 pm | Permalink | Reply

        I got 1d and nothing else for ages.

        • Expat Chris
          Posted June 17, 2016 at 11:59 pm | Permalink | Reply

          That;s the one I got. I eventually cut my losses, decided there was more to life, and opened some wine.

          • LetterboxRoy
            Posted June 20, 2016 at 1:20 pm | Permalink | Reply

            These two comments combined sum it up for me!

            I eventually filled in a few of the more vaguely-familiar-ish format clues, but the rest… I’m with you Expat.

            Can’t honestly say I enjoyed this one much, but it did make me think so hats off to ProXimal (again), and thanks to Dutch for the write-up.

  13. andy
    Posted June 18, 2016 at 12:13 am | Permalink | Reply

    Got there in the end, phew. Thanks muchly to Dutch and proXimal

  14. Posted June 18, 2016 at 1:50 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Thanks to Expat Chris and Stan who have made me feel better about the two answers I managed (1d/9a) before circumstances compelled me to look at the blog. Wolfson Bear made me laugh with his 27a experience. (I’d tried for a bit to make that anagram but had drawn a blank.)

    A very clever crossword, but too much for me. Thanks to ProXimal but many, many thanks to Dutch for the outstanding work of getting this sorted out. Thanks too for the illustration for 4d.

  15. Giovanni
    Posted June 18, 2016 at 8:26 pm | Permalink | Reply

    I suppose I am fighting a losing battle to persude my colleagues that the clergy (including bishops) now include women — but battle on I shall!

    • dutch
      Posted June 19, 2016 at 3:30 pm | Permalink | Reply

      I don’t think you are fighting a losing battle – I like to think these battles are more or less heading in one direction only.

  16. Woolgatherer
    Posted June 18, 2016 at 9:30 pm | Permalink | Reply

    My usual score is zero at this level but I actually did 4 today, so maybe persistence finally pays off after all! Thank you to the setter, and respect and awe to those who not only complete these but do them In time to blog.

    • dutch
      Posted June 19, 2016 at 3:00 pm | Permalink | Reply

      Thank you :-)

      But it did take me a vey long time…

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