Toughie 1963 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 1963

Toughie No 1963 by proXimal

Hints and tips by Dutch

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

I really enjoyed this, despite doing it at midnight because I didn’t dare leave a proXimal till morning. There are many excellent clues, beautifully crafted. My first one in was 6a, my last one in was 15a (for which I struggled to find a parsing and I’m not sure it’s right) and nothing in-between was systematic except that in the end I was left struggling with my last 4 all in NE.

As always, the definitions are underlined for you. The hints and tips are intended to help you unravel the wordplay, and if you need to you can always reveal the answer by clicking on the What a great birthday bash! buttons. Please leave a comment telling us what you thought.


1a    Fame from something other than talent (10)
NOTABILITY: Split (3,7), the answer suggests something other than talent

6a    United lacking following? That’s not new (4)
USED: Take a 5-letter word for united and remove the initial F (lacking Following)

9a    Retracted muscles spasm, making one incredulous (7)
SCEPTIC: Reversal (retracted) of some chest muscles plus an involuntary muscle spasm

10a    Teased last in year in cruel manner (7)
NASTILY: An anagram (teased) of LAST IN Y(ear)

12a    Madame grabbing a French article, with no hesitation changes in Gents (4,9)
MALE MENOPAUSE: The abbreviation for MadaME contains (grabbing) A from the clue plus a French definite article, followed by NO from the clue and another word for hesitation

14a    Help old boy cross, road’s beginning to heave (6)
OBLIGE: The abbreviation for old boys plus a cross between a lion and a tiger (LIGER) from which the first letter (beginning) in Road is removed (to heave)

15a    Pertinent quartet of tech terms, in short (8)
APPOSITE: I *think* that if you split the answer (3,2,2,1) you get a quartet of abbreviations (in short) used in computing (APPlication, Operating System, Information Technology, Electronic-). Please let me know if you have an alternative parsing. If this is the correct parsing, I think ‘computing’ might have been fairer than ‘tech’, and that it is virtually impossible to get to the answer from wordplay alone

17a    Watt in exhibition centre by sign: ‘Steam Engine Inventor‘ (8)
NEWCOMEN: The abbreviation for Watt goes inside the Birmingham exhibition centre, plus a 4-letter sign or foreboding

19a    Subjects of European city (6)
LIEGES: Split (5’1), the answer would meaning belonging to a city in Belgium

22a    Exhausted G&T? Be patient (3,2,4,4)
ALL IN GOOD TIME: A (3,2) expression meaning exhausted, plus an expansion of the abbreviations for G and T

24a    Butcher’s fine feeding stray from back of store (4-3)
LOOK-SEE: A 2-letter informal expression meaning fine goes inside (feeding) a verb meaning to stray from, plus the last letter (back) of storE

25a    Ragged horse carrying knight and a lady overseas (7)
SENHORA: This Portuguese lady comes from an anagram (ragged) of HORSE around (carrying) the chess abbreviation for Knight, plus A from theclue

26a    Make home clean, scrubbing house (4)
NEST: Take a 6-letter word for clean or upright and from the front remove (scrubbing) the 2-letter abbreviation for house

27a    Put details in specified order? (10)
STIPULATED: A very nice all-in-one. An anagram (in specified order) of PUT DETAILS


1d    Pointless to get rid of posh bouquet (4)
NOSE: Take a (2,3) expression meaning pointless and get rid of the abbreviation for posh or Upper-class

2d    Warm weather Malaysia enjoys (7)
THERMAL: Hidden (… enjoys)

3d    Campaigners here having reasons to support development of tablet (13)
BATTLEGROUNDS: a 7-letter word for reasons or justifications goes underneath (to support, in a down clue) an anagram of (development of) TABLET

4d    Shunning outsiders, block dumb introduction of some temporary workers (6)
LOCUMS: Remove the outer letters (shunning outsiders) from (b)LOC(k) and (d)UM(b) and add the first letter (introduction to) of some

5d    Bladed implement turns egg over (8)
TINSNIPS: The reversal (over) of both a verb meaning turns plus a word for the egg of a louse

7d    Disturbing teen, such provocations could be untimeliest (7)
STIMULI: An anagram (disturbing) of TEEN + [THE ANSWER] gives UNTIMELIEST.

8d    When worker’s let off for instruction from leader easy to misconstrue (3,7)
DAY RELEASE: An anagram (to misconstrue) of LEADER EASY

11d    Standing after drink? Ale not finished, it’s presumed (13)
SUPPOSITIONAL: An 8-letter word for standing or rank follows (after) a verb meaning to drink, all followed by AL(e) from the clue but not finished

13d    Sad fine comedian failed (10)
DOWNFALLEN: A word for sad, the abbreviation for fine, and the surname of a much-loved Irish comedian who died in 2005

16d    Extremely dubious book turned up in lounge (8)
REMOTEST: The reversal (turned up) of a book or volume goes inside (in) a verb meaning lounge

18d    Bats desire birds to leave lake (7)
WILLOWS: A 4-letter word for desire (as in: the **** of the people) plus some professorial birds without (to leave) the abbreviation for lake

20d    Exits, self-conscious dropping head with diminished bearing (4,3)
GOES OUT: a 3-letter word for the self-conscious in which the first letter drops to the end (dropping head) plus all but the last letter (diminished) of a compass bearing

21d    Bills increased when housing daughter — makes sense (4,2)
ADDS UP: Bills or posters plus a preposition meaning increased go around (housing) the abbreviation for daughter

23d    You’d get wound taking this rifle into bed (4)
RAID: If you put the answer (a verb meaning rifle) into the word BED, you would get a word meaning wound or twisted

My favourite today was definitely 12a. But there were many brilliant clues: I liked the extremely dubious book, the surfaces of 11d and 7a, the smooth compound anagram in 7d, the impossible-to-remove imagery of a spatula in 5d, the all-in-one, and many more. Which clues did you like?

14 comments on “Toughie 1963

  1. A proper Toughie as we expect from proXimal. The LH side was full long before the RH side.

    The runaway favourite by a long way has to be 12a for the splendid moment when I realised what the the ‘changes in Gents’ had to be

    Thanks to setter and blogger

  2. I was defeated by 23d but the rest were solved steadily albeit fairly slowly. Thoroughly enjoyed the puzzle.

    Thanks to Dutch and proXimal.

  3. I really enjoyed this one – thanks to proXimal and Dutch. My last answer was 23d for which I eventually cheated and revealed a letter. I parsed 15a in the same way as Dutch.
    Too many ‘likes’ to list them all but I’ll pick out 12a (for the d’oh moment), 22a (for the clever wordplay) and 18d.

  4. I similarly was stumped by 23 down. All the rest were solved albeit slowly. My favourite was also 12a. My broad smile was immediately followed by panic in case it was telling me something!
    Thanks to setter and to Dutch, especially in relation to 23d.

  5. I should add that in relation to 15a, I think we have abbreviated tech terms rather than computer terms as the last abbreviation is not solely related to computing, although it is most commonly associated with it.

  6. Took me quite a while to work out the full parsing of 6&14a and thought 15a was a rather dodgy clue but there was certainly plenty to enjoy in this one.

    Think my top three have to be 1&22a plus 21d – the latter from painful experience!

    Thanks to proXimal and to Dutch for the blog – totally agree with the sentiment hidden in your preamble.

  7. Something of a workout but very enjoyable.

    Didn’t quite get there unaided as I had to search the dictionary for 5d which I didn’t know. I also had to check that I hadn’t invented the inventor in 17a.

    Some took a while to fully parse – for example, to get away from United = U in 6a and to see the cross in 14a. Some took a while to get even with all the checking letters – I’m thinking here of 18d … and when I’d constructed that from the wordplay I then spent a few stupid seconds still thinking of the flying mammals, before the crickety implements hit me over the head with a hollow clang. Argh!

    I liked 1a, 13d and 21d for the surfaces and like everyone else enjoyed 12a. My favourite though by a small measure is probably 22a.

    Many thanks proXimal and Dutch.

  8. I did enjoy this. I was on the point of giving up on a number of occasions but I am very glad I persevered. In the end my only downfall was 23d. However, I had heard of neither the exhibition centre nor the inventor in 17a and I needed all the checkers and a lot of Googling to track down the answer. 1a and 12a were the standout clues for me – and were instrumental in getting me past the log jam. Many thanks to all.

  9. Like most of the above I was beaten by 23d. No doubt it is in the BRB but I don’t like the synonym for “rifle”.
    12a was a real LOL moment while 19a was the oldest of chestnuts.
    To be only beaten by one clue on a Friday is a real achievement.
    Thank you setter and blogger for making me proud!

  10. Enjoyable from proXimal but I failed on 23d. Back page was awful. Completed but thought it was rubbish. For instance 9d. Got disinterested but where does the just come from in the clue? May be a bit thick!

  11. Funny how things go – I struggled with this crossword, but the 23d clue that seems to have bothered people was no issue for me. I knew I had to fit a word meaning rifle into BED to get a word meaning wound, probably not in the harmed sense. I was distracted by trying to use SACK, but once I had the checkers it was all clear. Maybe it is this compound structure (cf the compound anagram in 7d) that is confusing.

  12. All but five answers were completed in ** time, but those alone pushed it well into **** territory. All good fun, and just what we expect from a Friday Toughie. First in 1ac – hopes high then of a quick solve – last in an age later 19ac…

  13. This was my Toughie Birthyear and what a pleasure it was to be able to complete it over the weekend.
    When I solved 12a, I thought it was a Dada but with the amount of subtracts, it just couldn’t be.
    Thanks to Proximal and to Dutch for the review.

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