Toughie 1691

Toughie No 1691 by proXimal

Hints and tips by Dutch

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

I really enjoyed this, whereas I sometimes struggle with proXimal – maybe it helped not knowing who the setter was when I did the puzzle. I got half a dozen clues fairly quickly then slowly and steadily progressed through the rest with plenty of nice penny-drop moments.

As always, finding the definitions is half the battle – they are underlined for you in the clues below. The hint aims to help you solve the clue, but if you get stuck you can reveal the answer by clicking the 42 box. Please leave a comment telling us how you got on and what you thought.


1a    Cavalryman leaves raid (7)
COSSACK: A type of lettuce and to raid or pillage

5a    Compartment of solid lead half finished (7)
CUBICLE: An adjective describing a 3-dimensional shape (solid, as an adjective) and the first two letters of LE(ad) (half finished)

9a    Decoration put on article with right resin (5)
AMBER: The 1-letter indefinite article plus the abbreviation for a British decoration or medal, and the abbreviation for R(ight)

10a    Set schedule introduced by one working mum (9)
IMMUTABLE: Set as in unchangeable. The Roman numeral for one plus an anagram (working) of MUM and a schedule or chart

11a    Giant plastic birds on pub (10)
POLYPHEMUS: An informal word for a type of plastic (an abbreviated form of polythene), then some flightless Australian birds following a 2-letter abbreviation for a pub. The giant is the cyclops blinded by Odysseus

12a    Western half of Baltic is unrestricted (4)
FREE: The first 4 letters (western half) of an 8-letter word for Baltic or bitterly cold

14a    Epic row about one son splitting fortune with another (8,4)
PARADISE LOST: This epic poem by Milton comes from a 6-letter row (of shops or houses) going around (about) the Roman numeral for one and the abbreviation for S(on), plus a 3-letter word for fortune or fate split by ‘another’ (abbreviation for Son, that is)

18a    Odd urgency to go after prosecuting attorney’s broken avowal (12)
PROTESTATION: Remove (to go) an anagram (odd) of URGENCY from an anagram (after …. is broken) of PROSECUTING ATTORNEY

21a    One dressed in black became hot (4)
GOTH: A verb meaning became and the abbreviation for H(ot)

22a    You might find writing on this notelet did degenerate (6,4)
DOTTED LINE: An anagram (degenerate) of NOTELET DID

25a    Some cyclists sent pedalling around facility (9)
ADEPTNESS: Hidden backwards in the clue (Some … around)

26a    The eccentric, well-rounded character (5)
ETHOS: An anagram (eccentric) of THE plus an abbreviation for very large or well-rounded

27a    Lass ordered bags together with footwear (7)
SANDALS: An anagram (ordered) of LASS contains (bags) a conjunction that means together with

28a    Uninitiated alien admitting head of starship is handy person (7)
ARTISAN: An alien from our own solar system without the first letter (uninitiated) contains (admitting) the first letter of S(tarship). Just noticed a typo ‘admittting’ in the on-line version



1d    Workshop installed with power presses (6)
CLASPS: A workshop or a group of people in a room learning contains the abbreviation for P(ower)

2d    Mild tumult after third and first places switched (6)
SUBTLE: exchange the first and third letters in another word for tumult or hurried activity

3d    Chocolate trees? You could go places with them (10)
AEROPLANES: A brand of chocolate bar plus some trees that are popular in crosswordland

4d    US sneak up on base to attack (5)
KNIFE: A slang term for an informer or a ratbag is reversed (up), followed by the base of natural or Napierian logarithms, gives a word meaning to attack with a blade

5d    Butcher tunic with two marks so red (9)
COMMUNIST: An anagram (butcher) of TUNIC + M + M + SO, M being the abbreviations for Marks (former German currency)

6d    Dieter’s imploration, with empty belly, for snack (4)
BITE: The German word for please (Dieter’s imploration) without the central letter (with empty belly)

7d    Prompt Yahoo to report mathematical value (4,4)
CUBE ROOT: A homophone (to report) of a theatrical prompt plus a yahoo or coarse person





8d    Weather will be mild, not cold, in centre of Odessa (8)
ELEMENTS: A 7-letter word for mild or kind without the initial C(old), all inside the central two letters of odESsa

13d    Decent boss could be almost first-rate (6-4)
SECOND BEST: An anagram (could be) of DECENT BOSS

15d    Arthouses neglected creative person (9)
AUTHORESS: An anagram (neglected) of ARTHOUSES

16d    Close to tears, ‘Misery’ upset female viewer (8)
SPYGLASS: The last letter in tears, plus the reversal (upset) of a 3-letter slang word for misery or pain, plus another word for female or girl

17d    Regional drama about right to get on radio (8)
NORTHERN: A 3-letter Japanese drama goes ‘about’ a 2-letter abbreviation for right, plus a homophone (on radio) of a verb meaning to get or deserve

19d    Large legwear all beneath top comes down (6)
LIGHTS: The abbreviation for L(arge) followed by some legwear probably more often worn by women without the first letter (all beneath top, in a down clue). Does this follow the previous clue coincidentally?

20d    Opponents trapped by very bright action hero (6)
NEESON: Some bridge opponents go inside (trapped by) a type of very bright fluorescent light used in advertising

23d    Upside-down outfit on the French engineer (5)
TESLA: Reversal of a 3-letter outfit of matching clothes, then the feminine French for ‘the’

24d    Walkway to parts akin to North (4)
STOA: TO from the clue goes inside (parts) the reversal (to North, in a down clue) of a 2-letter word meaning akin or like

My favourite clue today is 6d. Which clues did you like?


  1. crypticsue
    Posted October 14, 2016 at 2:03 pm | Permalink | Reply

    The most solver friendly proXimal so far. Still a Toughie but I managed to solve all of it in only two sessions. Some very good d’oh moments too.

    Thanks to Mr X and Mr D

  2. Gazza
    Posted October 14, 2016 at 2:15 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Very enjoyable – thanks to proXimal and Dutch. I think there’s a Philip Pullman theme here with 2d/4d, 17d/19d and 9a/16d.
    My favourite was 6d too (I think the hint should say ‘please’ rather than ‘thank you’).

    • dutch
      Posted October 14, 2016 at 2:28 pm | Permalink | Reply

      oops of course it should – now fixed, many thanks

      and well done spotting the His Dark Materials trilogy, I wouldn’t have recognised that – nice

  3. halcyon
    Posted October 14, 2016 at 2:54 pm | Permalink | Reply

    A worthy contest for Friday. I found the 4 little ones amongst the hardest to crack, especially 6d – which gets the prize [many thanks for the explanation Dutch – I failed utterly to spot Dieter]. I also liked 11a because it’s neat and it conjures up a nicely bizarre image.

    Many thanks to proXimal and to Dutch for the blog.

  4. LetterboxRoy
    Posted October 14, 2016 at 3:13 pm | Permalink | Reply

    I struggled slightly less than usual for a ProXimal, but struggled all the same. Need hints for at least a third of the clues, so thanks Dutch.

    Could not fathom 6d – I don’t know any German, so even if I had spotted ‘Dieter’ I’d still be none the wiser. My aversion to celebrities and all that guff meant that 20d was the only spoiling factor […who on earth is he, anyway? Don’t really want to know].

    Went completely lurker-blind at 25a. Liked 2d & 11a. Very much enjoyed both the ones I did manage, and the penny droppers when reading the hints. Easily a ****/****

    Many thanks to all as ever.

  5. jean-luc cheval
    Posted October 14, 2016 at 3:30 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Having seem the device in 6d before, I had no problem with this one.
    However, I needed the hints to understand the E in 4d and was hesitating between Southern and Northern in 17d as I couldn’t parse it.
    As yesterday, I found it quite mechanical but enjoyable.
    Favourite is 27a. The indicators flowing so smoothly into the surface.
    Thanks to ProXimal and to Dutch.

  6. Jeroboam
    Posted October 14, 2016 at 4:02 pm | Permalink | Reply

    The best Toughie of the week and maybe since the last Elgar for me. Hard but fair and that’s all I need to enjoy it. We don’t get that combination of qualities enough. Thanks ProXimal and Dutch.

  7. Expat Chris
    Posted October 14, 2016 at 4:17 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Missed the reverse lurker in 25A and had Nelson for 20D. Favorites are 6D, 7D and 24D. Thanks Dutch and ProXimal.

  8. Dutch
    Posted October 14, 2016 at 6:46 pm | Permalink | Reply

    does proXimal have a lower case p? The telegraph site doesn’t honour that, but I think I’ve seen it, and I would like to respect the setter’s intention

    • crypticsue
      Posted October 14, 2016 at 7:34 pm | Permalink | Reply

      It has a lower case p in the paper – proXimal

  9. Posted October 14, 2016 at 11:57 pm | Permalink | Reply

    :phew: It took two kitties and a Jane moderate* quantities of both wine and time to get to the end of this.

    Missed the theme completely, even though I really enjoyed the books.

    Our favourite is 21a. Thanks to proXimal and Dutch.

  10. JB
    Posted October 16, 2016 at 11:37 am | Permalink | Reply

    I, too, had Nelson for 20d and wasted far too much time trying to make a giant from “birds on pub” being quite sure that “plastic” was a clever pseudonym for “anagram”. What’s the betting that one day it will be?
    Thank you setter and hinter.

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