Toughie 1983 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 1983

Toughie No 1983 by proXimal

Hints and tips by Dutch

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

Another most enjoyable puzzle by proXimal, plenty of clever and elegant clueing, though I didn’t manage to finish before the school run today…

Definitions are underlined and the hints are intended to help you unravel the wordplay. You can reveal the answers by clicking on the Not this one, silly, the ones by the clues below! buttons. Please leave a comment telling us what you thought.


1a    Sadness is something inside people stopping extremes of delight (14)
DISCONTENTMENT: IS from the clue, a 7-letter word for ‘something inside’, a 3-letter word for ‘people’, all inside (stopping) the outer letters (extremes) of DelighT

9a    Asian potato pest with antisocial manner (7)
ALOOFLY: How you would see potato described on a menu in an Indian restaurant, plus an insect pest

10a    Dog by lake to drink rests comfily (5,2)
CURLS UP: A 3-letter word for a worthless dog, the abbreviation for Lake plus a verb meaning to drink

11a    Finally sigh with measure of warmth over miserable person (4)
GOTH: Reversal (over) of the last letter (finally) of sigH plus a measure of thermal insulation used in duvets, etc.

12a    Salve over three times applied with burning wound (4,6)
BUON GIORNO: Salve here is a greeting (took me a while!). Three times the cricket abbreviation for Over together with BURNING in an anagram (wound)

14a    Swimmer to dry back (6)
TURBOT: A reversal (back) of TO from the clue plus dry as in wines esp champagnes

15a    Book set in abandoned mine described with great atmosphere (8)
AMBIENCE: The abbreviation for book is contained by (set in) an anagram (abandoned) of MINE, which in turn is contained in (described by) another word for great or excellent

17a    Crowds, people watching game in coastal town (8)
RAMSGATE: A 4-letter verb meaning crowds plus the people paying to watch a game, i.e. the number attending

18a    Dozy rest said to be agreeable (6)
DULCET: A homophone (said) of dozy or boring plus to rest or place

21a    Releasing blow in boxing without power (10)
UNHITCHING: A 3-letter blow or strike goes in a word for boxing, or what your hands should be doing in a boxing match, without the initial P(ower)

22a    Dishonest person‘s cash from Middle East changing hands (4)
LIAR: Take the currency in Iran and Saudi Arabia and swap L & R (changing hands, i.e. changing left and right)

24a    Space buggy he can improve (7)
ENHANCE: A printer’s space plus an anagram (buggy) of HE CAN

25a    On good terms with very fine journalist that’s called upon (7)
INVOKED: A 2-letter word that can mean ‘on good terms with’, the abbreviation for Very, a 2-letter informal abbreviation meaning fine, and the usual abbreviation for a newspaper chief (journalist)

26a    A prominent post to restructure divisions (14)
APPORTIONMENTS: An anagram (to restructure) of A PROMINENT POST


1d    Air current plan (7)
DRAUGHT: Two meanings, the second suggesting a preliminary version

2d    Film in snatches randomly for them to speak bluntly (5,4,3,3)
SHOOT FROM THE HIP: A word meaning to film and another word for in, as in ‘with it’ contains (snatches) an anagram (randomly) of FOR THEM

3d    Fools do gaffes regularly (4)
OAFS: Even letters (regularly) in ‘do gaffes’

4d    Test fish with insertion of fork? (3-3)
TRY-OUT: A 5-letter fish has inserted (with insertion of) the letter could represent a fork (in a road, for example)

5d    Jug fellow lifted with base and handle (8)
NICKNAME: Another word for jug or prison, the reversal (lifted, in a down clue) of a word for fellow, plus the base of natural logarithms

6d    Make houses of metal on independent island (10)
MARTINIQUE: A 6-letter make or brand contains (houses) a 3-letter adjective meaning made of a particular metal (which is also the name of the metal, but we need to account for the ‘of’ in the clue) plus the abbreviation for Independent

7d    Getting on trampoline afraid after refusal (2,6,7)
NO SPRING CHICKEN: A word meaning to trampoline or jump plus a word for afraid or yellow, all after a 2-letter refusal

8d    Surgery on model’s face (6)
OPPOSE: A 2-letter abbreviation for a surgery goes on a verb meaning to model

13d    Note in branch unfortunately not accepted as valid (6,4)
BOUGHT INTO: A note from the solfa scale goes inbetween (in) another word for a tree branch and an anagram (unfortunately) of NOT

16d    One Greek character in exam getting most irritable (8)
ITCHIEST: The roman numeral for one, then a Greek letter or character goes inside (in) another word for exam

17d    Tool to hollow out entrance in rock surface (6)
ROUTER: The first letter (entrance) of Rock plus a adjective meaning surface or superficial

19d    Mad rants like these could be dramatised in play (7)
TIRADES: MAD plus the answer could be an anagram (in play) of DRAMATISED

20d    At home, papers over crack and stain (6)
INDIGO: A short word meaning at home, the reversal of some identification papers, and a crack or try

23d    Egg emu voluntarily covers up (4)
OVUM: Reverse hidden (… covers up)

Lots of nice clues. I think my favourite is 19d with its smooth surface. Runner up is 8d. 1a very good as well. I could go on. Which clues did you like?

35 comments on “Toughie 1983

  1. I found this hard work, but it was rewarding work and great fun. In part that’s due to what I thought were many delightful ingredients sprinkled throughout this crossword: the Italian indication in 12a, changing hands in 22a, the novel clueing of IN in 25a, the fork in 4d, the jug in 5d (I started out thinking toby), and “papers over crack” in 20d. I also liked 19d. Thanks to proXimal and to Dutch. Liked the pic for 10a.

  2. A proper toughie as you expect from Mr X.

    I thought 12a was particularly unfair and I don’t care what the BRB says, the office copy of Collins and I both think the plan part of 1d isn’t as the solution but ends AFT.

    1. Although I remember “salve” from school Latin classes. I didn’t manage to solve 12a. No problems with !d but needed help from Dutch for a few others. Thanks to him and proXimal.

  3. I am really enjoying this one but 12a Salve? I have been married to an Italian for 30 years and in Italian or Latin I feel this is stretching it a bit according to my better half, I agree with crypticsue
    this is unfair.

  4. I liked this a lot , but I agree with crypticsue . I also had difficulty persuading myself that 13 d readily fitted the definition of valid .
    Ta to x and Dutch

    1. definition is “accepted as valid” – when you buy into something, you believe it, which is accepting it as valid, I suppose

  5. Well, definitely quite tough, I thought. I have to admit I was beaten by 12a. My Latin did not raise its forgotten head to help me out and the dictionary did not help much either. (I don’t have one in Italian). I also failed to parse some of my bung ins, which fortunately seem to be correct.

    Still a tussle is still good for the aging grey matter.

      1. So is the final answer, but I did not look up salve to get me thinking in the right direction, more fool me!

  6. For the most part this didn’t seem as proXimal as proXimal can be, but I did end up using help for the last two (17a/17d with no excuse for the former).

    I enjoyed it muchly and am having difficulty picking a favourite. Dutch’s picks look good to me.

    As for 12a, I assembled it without too much trouble from the wordplay but did need to look up the definition to understand it. Far more obscure things do appear in Toughies, even some Tuesday ones, so I saw no reason to cry foul.

    Thanks to proXimal and Dutch.

  7. In general I find a proXimal puzzle beyond my capability but, after a considerable battle, I came within one clue of finishing this one. The one I was missing was 12a, and I don’t think I, like others, would ever associated salve with a greeting. I held myself up by initially trying to incorporate ‘psi’ as the Greek letter in 16d with obvious adverse consequences, but sorted myself out when (eventually) 2d fell into place. My thanks to all.

  8. Pretty tough, but doable. 9a, 6d & 12a last in. Not at all keen on the latter.

    I’ve looked it up, and CS is quite correct re 1d as far as I can tell. (Chambers online, Collins BBB).

    Thanks to proXimal for the workout, and Dutch for sorting it all out.

  9. I got 7 on my own; the rest with the hints, apart from 12a which I would never have got any which way!

  10. Overcome with admiration for anyone who finished this. Managed about 6 and, even with the hints, the rest were beyond me. I was especially frustrated by 12a as I wasted so much time going down the aloe vera route!

  11. Our huge penny drop moment was when we realised that ‘salve’ in 12a was not an unguent. Certainly a challenging toughie but good fun all the way through and much appreciated.
    Thanks ProXimal and Dutch.

  12. Excellent stuff and rightly, Dutch, you have it at the far end of the difficulty scale.

    We had 9a and 12a as our favourites.

    Thanks to Dutch and ProXimal.

  13. Tarnation – worked really hard and almost got there, just that wretched 12a that prevented me from getting a completed grid.
    I did need to check on the Asian potato and the Eastern currency and don’t recall seeing ‘buggy’ as an anagram indicator before today.

    My top three comprised 10a plus 4&7d.

    Thanks to proXimal and to Dutch for the unravelling. Loved the cartoon figure of the old boiler but shouldn’t the pic for 10a have shown a dog rather than a cat!

    1. pics are meant to illustrate the answer, not the clue, though I like taking liberties.

      1. No problem – you’re obviously another cat person!
        Won’t enquire any further as to the ‘liberties’ you take………..

  14. 12A remained unsolved for me also, and 11A was a guess since I couldn’t think of another word that fit. I’ve not heard of that being used to describe a miserable person before. I initially had “lip” as the last word of 2d. That’s a common phrase here for shooting one’s mouth off. But getting 24A showed me the error of my ways. I was eventually able to parse the rest, so I’m quite pleased with my effort.My favorite was 7D. Thanks Dutch and proXimal.

    1. The ‘miserable’ surprised me too and I had a comment to that effect, but in my picture search I found all this stuff around “goths can be happy sometimes” – so feeling ignorant, I deleted the comment.

  15. Pretty tough as expected, with one I had to look up – 12ac, and quite a few I didn’t fully understand. An enjoyable workout to end the Toughie week!

  16. Had all the info ( three o s etc) but couldn’t see it til I looked at the hint. A really good workout. All the clues were fair enough in hindsight but some surfaces like reinforced concrete! !
    Thanks to proximal and to Dutch

  17. I didn’t know ‘salve’ and really I don’t think I can be expected to, here in a UK daily puzzle. It was bad enough having to verbify the noun at wound! And I agree re DRAUGHT!

    Nevertheless, a quality puzzle and very tough work out..

    Thank you both.

  18. 12a was my last in. I had all the crossing letters and realised it was an anagram but couldn’t work it out. I thought that it must be some ointment that I had never heard of. Then I wondered if the first word might be ‘buon’, turned to BRB and, bingo, there it was. Then I saw where ‘salwe’ (as I was taught to pronounce it) came in.

  19. Well, I’m a wee bit later in the day with my crosswording today, but this one was well worth sitting up for to complete. Some answers were bung ins that needed cross checking with Dutch’s hints for parsing, but I got there in the end. A most enjoyable solve. So, with the Giovanni completed earlier, this has been a very satisfying day crosswordwise. Thanks to proXimal and to Dutch, not forgetting the Don and DT.

  20. Loud posh K idiot; – I looked up what a ‘loo fly’ is for 9a, Lady LbR (she is brilliant) has been mocking me all weekend.

    Jane, if you’re watching, we’re quits over ‘at it’.

    But then she did say Calais was in the south of England, and her answer to ‘A country that borders UAE’ was Iraq. I then asked her to draw a map of the world, which I wish I could post it, it’s fantastic! Germany is North of the Netherlands and the Bay of Biscay doesn’t exist. Ireland is North of Liverpool and London is in The Wash. Won’t even go into Africa and the Americas.

    The same delightful woman also recounted a story from when she was ‘between eight and ten’… nine?

    She beat me at the quiz last night – not that I’m grumbling, much, really. She’s even winning at backgammon these days. Outrageous!

    I must be too good a teacher, that’s all I can think of…

    1. Yep – I’m watching! Glad to hear that we’re quits but I somehow doubt that I’ll ever be free of that one…..
      Please assure Lady LbR that my attempt at a map of the world would, without doubt, be far worse than hers!

        1. Wonder whether you and the missus tried last week’s Rookie puzzle – it wasn’t bad at all!

  21. Good evening Jane, Lady LbR here – yes I found the rookie Rags a good journey into the cryptic world, I have been honing my skills with ‘help’ from LbR

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