Toughie 1673

Toughie No 1673 by proXimal

Hints and tips by Gazza

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

The promised heatwave (or at least some very pleasant sunshine) has arrived in North Devon a day late after yesterday’s rain and thunder, but better late than never.

I enjoyed this puzzle and my copy of Chambers stayed on the shelf during the entire solving process (unlike yesterday when it was almost worn out). Thanks to proXimal for the entertainment.

Please leave a comment telling us how you fared and what you thought of it.

Across Clues

1a Tight girdles might lace up without flapping (14)
PHLEGMATICALLY – an adjective meaning tight or matey contains an anagram (up) of MIGHT LACE.

9a Dashing miles around, fellow is hot (7)
RAFFISH – reverse an adverb meaning miles or a long way and add the abbreviation for fellow, IS and H(ot). A bit like Mr Nadal, perhaps?

10a Clumsily shift rock trapping doctor (7)
SHAMBLE – a type of sedimentary rock contains one of the many abbreviations for a medical doctor.

11a Obviously having lost half crown (4)
PATE – start with an adverb meaning obviously or self-evidently and lose its second half.

12a Novel unidentified after edition’s lost for perpetuity (10)
INFINITUDE – an anagram (novel) of UNIDENTIFI[ed] without the abbreviation for edition. ‘Lost’ used in successive clues to signal a deletion is a bit sloppy.

14a Sloth audibly rushed by (6)
TORPOR – double homophone – firstly a verb meaning rushed, then a preposition, from Latin, meaning ‘by’.

15a Having opened present, European fool’s showing possession (8)
GENITIVE – the abbreviation for European and an informal word for a fool go inside (having opened) a verb to present or donate.

17a Mean bear (5,3)
STAND FOR – double definition, the second meaning tolerate.

18a Disappointed Democrat on channel cut short (6)
GUTTED – append the abbreviation for Democrat to a channel or conduit without its final R.

21a Railway cargo in it’s effectively not fully reviewed (10)
FFESTINIOG – this was my final answer. On first reading the clue I’d thought that ‘not fully reviewed’ was signalling a reverse lurker but the possibilities didn’t seem promising until I had all the checkers in place when there was a great d’oh moment. It’s the name of a narrow gauge railway in Snowdonia.

22a People that would be noble in bars (4)
ONES – if you insert the answer into the word bars you get a noble such as Tanni Grey-Thompson.

24a Magpies nested late today (7)
THIEVES – there’s a two-stage process required here. Start by coming up with a phrase (4,3) meaning ‘later on today’ then insert (nest) the second word into the first. I don’t believe I’ve seen a clue quite like this before but I think it works well.

25a One ousting fifty in Anglo-Zulu fighting, English struggle (7)
AGONIZE – swap the Roman numerals for fifty and one in the word Anglo, then make an anagram (fighting) of that and the letter that Zulu stands for in the Nato Phonetic alphabet. Finally add the abbreviation for English.

26a Promotion time after chief is cornered by mature workers (14)
AGGRANDISEMENT – insert an adjective meaning chief (as in the ***** Mufti of Jerusalem) and IS into a verb to mature and a word for workers, then finish with the abbreviation for time.

Down Clues

1d Soldier on favoured fortification (7)
PARAPET – a flying soldier is followed by an adjective meaning favoured or cherished.

2d The fleeting rain turned severe (4-11)
LIFE-THREATENING – an anagram (turned) of THE FLEETING RAIN.

3d One of brothers reported ill (4)
GRIM – this sounds like the name of the German brothers who published folktales (some of them rather grisly).

4d Oriental textbook I exchanged for a yen (6)
ACHING – start with the name of a Chinese manual (1,5) concerned with the interpretation of symbols and known in English as the Book of Changes, then change the I to A and remove the space.

5d Remarkable home looking like a church (8)
INSPIRED – an adverb meaning at home is followed by an adjective meaning having a phallic appendage common to many churches.

6d A king strangled by a savage is grasping (10)
AVARICIOUS – A and an abbreviation for king are contained inside A and an adjective meaning savage or ferocious.

7d Busy venue in Bristol harbours area needing many workers (6-9)
LABOUR-INTENSIVE – an anagram (busy) of VENUE IN BRISTOL containing the abbreviation for area.

8d Welsh, for example, Frenchman’s acquired (6)
RENEGE – the usual abbreviation for ‘for example’ with a traditional French male forename around it. The definition here is a verb.

13d Boss died in mountainous region climbing about (4,2,4)
LORD IT OVER – insert the abbreviation for died into a mountainous region of Austria then reverse it and append a preposition meaning about or concerning.

16d Mischief off lad (6-2)
GOINGS-ON – a present participle meaning off (as in “I’m off to the cinema”) followed by a young male. The surface is not great.

17d Reliability with which liar could produce fairy tales (6)
SAFETY – this is a compound anagram – LIAR plus the answer produce an anagram of FAIRY TALES.

19d Policemen addressed protest (7)
DISSENT – more than one senior detective followed by a verb meaning addressed or dispatched.

20d African sots maligned, both half-cut (6)
SOMALI – cut off the second half of two words in the clue.

23d 1 lower than 100 is something like 99 (4)
CONE – spell out 1 and put it after the Roman numeral for 100. The setter is trying to make us think of IC as the Roman numeral for 99 (which it isn’t, of course).

I have asterisks beside 9a, 15a and 23d but my favourite, for the great penny drop moment it produced, is 21a. Which one(s) appealed to you?


  1. dutch
    Posted September 14, 2016 at 2:19 pm | Permalink | Reply

    I was worried because I normally struggle with ProXimal – but this proceeded at a steady rate (albeit a slow steady rate). It was so worth it, loads of excellent clues.

    I thought 1a was clever (when I eventually got it). Also liked 2d and 7d.

    4d, 11a, 22a, 23d and 24a were all brilliant penny drop moments

    I wasn’t keen on ‘mean bear’ (and uncertain of the answer for some time, relieved when it checked), and the less said about the railway the better (also my last one in! doh!)

    Many thanks ProXimal and Gazza (phallic appendage indeed!)

  2. Posted September 14, 2016 at 2:49 pm | Permalink | Reply

    I started off reasonably well, but in the end needed quite a few nudges in the right direction.

    Re the surface of 16d, my first thought was that it might be a misprint with an extra F having crept in.

    Speaking of Fs, 21a was my last answer too – I had tried and dismissed the reverse lurker possibility and hunted for words that would fit, but in the end I resorted to a letter hint. With the second F revealed, it was easy.

    I needed the hint to sort out 24a. I’d seen the nesting words but failed to make the final connection and see them as a phrase. A nifty little clue.

    I liked lots of this, and noted the compound anagrams as well as 4d and 23d.

    Many thanks to proXimal and to Gazza for the remarkable hints.

  3. Verlaine
    Posted September 14, 2016 at 3:13 pm | Permalink | Reply

    I thought this was a real corker of a puzzle – I liked yesterday’s (unlike everyone else) well enough, but I really loved some of this.

    Clues I particularly enjoyed include 1a, 17a, 26a, 17d, and my joint favourites 21a (as a boy who grew up in N Wales… what a stunning hidden!) and 23d.

    I was feeling very dim about 14a and have only just realised that I’m meant to be pronouncing the second half of the word “PURR” rather than “POUR/POOR”, which was my natural inclination. Perhaps I should take a leaf out of Kitty’s book.

    Muchas gracias proXimal and gaZZa.

  4. LetterboxRoy
    Posted September 14, 2016 at 3:14 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Thoroughly enjoyable, though I need need some help with some less familiar words (9a, 15a, 26a). Didn’t know the 4d book, either.

    I was instantly drawn to 23d which was my first in and remains my favourite clue. Also 24a is a clever construct I have not seen before, while 21a has to be the mother of all revers lurkers.

    Feeling quite pleased with myself that I managed all the ones I knew, as I usually struggle with proXimal. A breath of fresh air after yesterdays shenanigans. ****/****

    Excellent! Thanks to all as ever.

  5. jean-luc cheval
    Posted September 14, 2016 at 3:57 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Didn’t spot the reversed lurker in 21a and didn’t get 4d thinking that def was Oriental.
    The hyphen in 7d helped me get the second word from the BRB. Too lazy to work out the anagram.
    Had to check pally in 1a and welsh as a verb..
    I love the kind of construction in 22a and 17d.
    Thanks to Proximal and to Gazza for the help.

  6. halcyon
    Posted September 14, 2016 at 4:01 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Excellent stuff with some clever and original clues. 21a is worthy of a Sunday Virgillius and both 24a and 23d are neatly done.
    Altho I knew it had to be what it is I struggled to parse 13d before the reversed swiss region revealed itself – so top marks to that too.

    Many thanks to proXimal and to Gazza.

  7. Jeroboam
    Posted September 14, 2016 at 4:06 pm | Permalink | Reply

    This was much more like it. A toughie made tough-ish by the ingenuity of the clues, rather than the obscurity of the vocabulary. So very enjoyable with a ***/**** rating for me. The setter has made things more difficult in the past, mind.
    Thanks ProXimal and Gazza.

  8. Salty Dog
    Posted September 14, 2016 at 4:27 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Hard enough for me. I needed 3 hints, so have to concede 4* difficulty. I liked 9a – echoes of Terry-Thomas for me, oozing untrustworthy charm through the gap between his teeth. Having either not had no education or not having listened when it was offered, I’d never heard of 15a. 12a was a new word to me as well. Thanks to ProXimal and Gazza.

  9. crypticsue
    Posted September 14, 2016 at 4:29 pm | Permalink | Reply

    I approached this with some trepidation as I usually have trouble getting on Mr X’s wavelength, but was surprised to find that I’d solved all but two clues in 3.5* toughie time. One of those two was the railway and I do feel that it was very unfair to people solving using the newspaper version as it was split over two lines with quite a large gap at the end of the first and so it took me an age to finally experience the Homer Simpson moment with that one. My other ‘missing’ one required working through the alphabet while muttering but I got there in the end.

    My favourite clue was 23d. Thanks to P and G

    • dutch
      Posted September 14, 2016 at 8:20 pm | Permalink | Reply

      It’s standard deception to spread a lurker over two lines

      • Gazza
        Posted September 14, 2016 at 8:24 pm | Permalink | Reply

        I think CS’s point was that it wasn’t spread over two lines in the online version, making the newspaper version trickier.

  10. Jane
    Posted September 14, 2016 at 4:43 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Feeling somewhat delirious – I almost managed a ProXimal puzzle unaided! The only hint I needed was for 15a – firstly because I didn’t know the word required and secondly because having got the ‘European fool’ I persisted in trying to make it start with a ‘P’ (opening of present).
    Did a ‘post parse’ on 24a and 4d (had to look up the book for the latter) and took a while to justify the last three letters of 14a.
    I liked 17a&8d but my absolute favourite was 23d.
    Gratitude to ProXimal for letting me win and to Gazza for a spot-on review and the hint for 15a.

  11. crypticsue
    Posted September 14, 2016 at 5:14 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Shamus tomorrow

  12. 2Kiwis
    Posted September 14, 2016 at 7:30 pm | Permalink | Reply

    The railway in 21a was totally new to us so took some time and all the checkers followed by Google confirmation to get that one. With 22a we got the answer eventually but still have trouble equating the answer as a synonym for people despite trying to imagine a sentence where they can be transposed. Apart from that, with lots of slow steady work we did manage to unpick everything.
    Thanks ProXimal and Gazza.

    • Gazza
      Posted September 14, 2016 at 7:44 pm | Permalink | Reply

      I suppose you could say “These people are friendly, unlike the ones down the road.” ?

      • 2Kiwis
        Posted September 14, 2016 at 8:00 pm | Permalink | Reply

        We see that but any plural noun works in that context. It could equally say elephants are friendly. Ones refers back to the previous noun but is not defined by it, if that makes sense.

        • Posted September 14, 2016 at 8:13 pm | Permalink | Reply

          Yes, that makes perfect sense (but I have had wine, so the world makes more sense than usual right now). I hadn’t thought about it that deeply.

          Then again, perhaps elephants are people too …

        • 2Kiwis
          Posted September 14, 2016 at 8:30 pm | Permalink | Reply

          A sentence to illustrate my point, “Some people like black shoes, I prefer brown ones.”

          • Posted September 14, 2016 at 8:34 pm | Permalink | Reply

            Ok, you have me with the shoes :) . You have made your point and I agree with you.

          • LetterboxRoy
            Posted September 14, 2016 at 8:42 pm | Permalink | Reply

            Hmmm: ‘one’ also means ‘Me’ or ‘I’ as in ‘One does one’s best’. So more than a singular person is people, perhaps.

        • LetterboxRoy
          Posted September 14, 2016 at 8:30 pm | Permalink | Reply

          Not sure about the elephants?

        • Gazza
          Posted September 14, 2016 at 8:34 pm | Permalink | Reply

          I see that, but Chambers lists ‘an individual person’ as a meaning of ‘one’ (so presumably the plural of one can be people). It doesn’t say that one can mean an individual elephant. :D

          • Posted September 14, 2016 at 8:43 pm | Permalink | Reply

            Good point. Now I once again agree with Gazza (and the crossword). I am in a very agreeable mood, evidently, but thinking seems to be taking even more effort than usual. It might be wise to refrain from further comments today!

          • 2Kiwis
            Posted September 14, 2016 at 8:53 pm | Permalink | Reply

            Yes, agree that; one = an individual person, is valid. However to jump from there to presume that; ones = people, is difficult to justify. This is what I am tying to do by finding a sentence that works..

            • Jose
              Posted September 15, 2016 at 11:17 am | Permalink | Reply

              A policeman to his colleague: “This one here has been searched, the ones over there haven’t”. Or he could say: “This person here has been searched, the people over there haven’t”. It works if the context is germane.

      • LetterboxRoy
        Posted September 14, 2016 at 8:05 pm | Permalink | Reply

        Colloquially, rather than ‘those’, yes. We are the fortunate ones, perhaps.

  13. wolfson bear
    Posted September 14, 2016 at 9:11 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Just like yesterday I found this a slog and tedious. I have been on the railway but do not remember the name. Thanks to Gazza for today’s blog.

  14. Shropshirelad
    Posted September 14, 2016 at 10:59 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Haven’t had the chance to do look at or do todays toughie – I will save it for tomorrow.

    I’m sure it will be a challenge and enjoyable having glanced at Gazza’s review score.

    On a totally ‘off blog’ subject – what happened at Sandy Park last weekend Gazza? The Sarrie’s are good – but not that good.

    • Gazza
      Posted September 14, 2016 at 11:17 pm | Permalink | Reply

      It wasn’t good on Sunday. Sarries got two early tries (one of them through very poor Chiefs defence) then stifled the game in their usual way. The scoreline was worse than the balance of play would suggest – Sarries last score was an intercept try right at the death when Chiefs were playing catch-up rugby trying to get a losing bonus point. At least Ashton didn’t get a try. Let’s hope Chiefs can wake up and thrash Quins on Saturday.

  15. Alex Gordon
    Posted September 14, 2016 at 11:06 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Liked 15a and 23d also but had to cheat on 21a as even with all other letters wouldn’t have got it this time next year. Never heard of it!

  16. Alan D
    Posted September 15, 2016 at 2:05 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Having got a couple of its i’s, spent ages on 15 across trying to use the French for ‘here’ (present, European)!

    Failed to have a doh moment, so thanks for the hint to 21 ac,
    Very enjoyable.

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