Toughie 2417 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 2417

Toughie No 2417 by proXimal

Hints and tips by Dutch

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

As often happens, I gained further appreciation of the puzzle on writing up the blog, when I could savour all the clues again. Plenty of good surfaces to like here today, such as in the excellent 18a, but also in clues like 20a, 26a and 21d – as well  the nice Excalibur mislead in 22a. I never thought I’d say this, but with the Elgar marathon on Fridays, today’s proXimal felt like gentle relief

Please leave a comment telling us what you thought.


1a    Needy warriors welcoming extra hut (12)
IMPOVERISHED: A group of armed southern African native warriors (who I’ve seen in crosswords before but struggled a bit to remember) contains (welcoming) a 4-letter word meaning extra plus another 4-letter word meaning hut

8a    Helpful women taking Jack out in excursions (5)
AUNTS: Remove the card abbreviation for Jack from the start of a 6-letter word meaning excursions or outings (JAUNTS)

9a    Fatigued women’s tennis pro once beginning to debate umpire’s call (6-3)
WASHED OUT: The abbreviation for women, an American pro tennis player (ASHE), the first letter (beginning) of debate, and a call an umpire might make in tennis

11a    Hydraulic fluid leaking for all to see around small developer’s case (9)
CHRYSALID: An anagram (fluid) of HYDRA(u)LIC without (leaking) the abbreviation for Universal (for all to see, as in the movie rating) goes around the abbreviation for small

12a    Fine to disappear in robbery, a letter (5)
THETA: The abbreviation for fine is removed (to disappear) from a 5-letter word meaning robbery, then add the A from the clue

13a    Disclosure from a leader of dodgy religious group (9)
ADMISSION: A from the clue, the first letter (leader) of dodgy, then a religious group or outpost

16a    Select short page for groom (5)
PRIMP: A 5-letter adjective meaning select or top-class without the last letter (short), plus the abbreviation for page

18a    Americans discontented with tragic president (5)
ASSAD: Americans without the internal letters (dis-contented) plus a 3-letter word meaning tragic

19a    Way to deal with mate struggling in river (9)
TREATMENT: An anagram (struggling) of MATE goes inside (in) an English river that flows past Burton-on-Trent

20a    Opening of chain letter (5)
INLET: Hidden (of …)

22a    Tip of sword encased in stone by a literary character (9)
ESMERALDA: The first letter (tip) of sword goes inside (encased in) a 7-letter green gemstone, next to (by) A from the clue

25a    They recount article about rodents biting men on river (9)
NARRATORS: A reversal (about) of an indefinite article, then some rodents containing (biting) an abbreviation for some military men following (on, in an across clue) the abbreviation for river

26a    Read aloud key passage (5)
AISLE: A homophone (read aloud) of another word for key (ISLE)

27a    A king with alcohol and tobacco around that is easily led (4-8)
WEAK-SPIRITED: A from the clue, the chess/cards abbreviation for king, a 6-letter kind of alcohol, all with a 4-letter informal word for tobacco around


1d    Dimwit misplaced geraniums, having nothing for middle of bed (9)
IGNORAMUS: An anagram (misplaced) of G(O)RANIUMS, where the letter that looks like nothing replaces the letter in the middle of bed

2d    End up ferrying son places (5)
POSTS: A reversal (up) of a word meaning end contains (ferrying, as in carrying) the abbreviation for son

3d    I, for one, love rum infused with whiskey (5)
VOWEL: An anagram (rum) of LOVE containing (infused with) the letter with radio code whiskey

4d    Dwelling on past keeps dude disheartened (9)
RESIDENCE: A short word meaning on, or concerning, and a 5-letter word meaning past, or ‘after that time’, containing (keeps) DudE without the internal letters (disheartened)

5d    Best point to target treat jar (5,4)
SWEET SPOT: Split (6,3), the answer would mean a jar of treats

6d    Deteriorate having travelled to the south of Spain (5)
ERODE: A verb meaning having travelled (e.g., on horseback or motorbike) goes underneath (to the south of) the IVR for Spain

7d    Reveller said bet on outsider (12)
BACCHANALIAN: A homophone (said) of a (4,2,5) phrase that would mean ‘bet on outsider’ (BACK AN ALIEN)

10d    Lady’s paramour, before noon, boarding pilot boat (5,7)
TRAMP STEAMER: This Lady is an animated canine, as is her 5-letter paramour. Follow him with the abbreviation meaning before noon inside (boarding) a 5-letter verb meaning pilot

14d    Lit out from Lake District — if confused, divert (9)
SIDETRACK: Remove the letters LIT from an anagram (if confused) of (l)AKE D(i)STRIC(t)

15d    Informed where toilet paper is soft (2,3,4)
IN THE LOOP: A (2,3,3) answer to where toilet paper is, plus the music abbreviation for soft

17d    Perfect day achieved with leader sacked, one superior (9)
IDEALISED: The abbreviation for day plus an 8 letter word meaning achieved or brought about without the first letter (with leader sacked), then put the Roman numeral for one at the start or top (superior)

21d    Generous regular gets rounds (5)
LARGE: Hidden (… rounds)

23d    Man withholding loot, ultimately (5)
MISER: An all-in-one, where the whole clue is the definition as well as the wordplay. A 6-letter word (or title) for a man from which the last letter (ultimately) in loot is withheld

24d    Criticise reform inside of borstal (5)
ROAST: An anagram (reform) of the inside letters of (b)ORSTA(l)

As often happens, I really liked one of the clues that took me longest to see, the lovely 3d – I spent too long substituting O for love. Then I had to laugh at 15d. But there were plenty more clues that were interesting – which were your favourites?    

33 comments on “Toughie 2417

  1. Oh this was lovely! At last a Friday puzzle I could do. Nearly got caught by 22a but realised in time there couldn’t be an “x”.
    My favourite was definitely 15d
    All the best to setter and blogger.
    Happy Easter everyone.

  2. What a cracker to finish the week with. A genuine Toughie by my standards but huge fun, and well worth all the sweat that went into finishing it.

    My favourite was 7d, and I had 18a, 22a, 3d, 10d & 15d vying for podium places.

    Many thanks to proXimal and to Dutch.

  3. This enjoyable crossword was solved in a time on the cusp between a 4* and a 5* back pager and so I’d say that proXimal had put this one in the wrong envelope when sending it off to Telegraph Towers. So, sorry Jane’s neighbours, but for me this didn’t even make it to Floughie status

    I marked lots clues for stardom but would specially mention 11a for the sneaky definition and 7d for making me smile

    Thanks to Mr X and Dutch.

    1. Harsh, CS, very harsh – but not unexpected.
      As far as my actual neighbours are concerned, one of them would struggle to get to Ronnie Corbett’s level of proficiency and the other solves crosswords in Welsh – very confusing given that the plethora of double letters in the language only occupy one space in the grid!

      1. I was just concerned that you might react in the same way as the other day and cause them to worry about the effect all this isolating was having on you.

      2. I’m with you Jane. Just completed (great recommendation) & while it was by no means as impenetrable as the customary Friday offerings it was all the more enjoyable for being a tad fluffy(ish). I still found it tougher than most back pagers (7d & 11a particular examples) but thought there was some cracking wordplay – favourites being 1a & 9a.

        1. Glad that you enjoyed it, Huntsman. I’m always a little worried when I recommend a puzzle to others!

    2. Oooh, a bit haughty today, crypticsue, making some of us feel so ‘weak-spirited’, but I guess you did find at least one puzzle this week worthy of being called a Toughie. So you would call today’s Toughie something less than a Floughie?

    3. Oh CS how can you? I know you are brilliant at crosswords but please be a little kinder to those of us who finish a Toughie and then see it downgraded to a Floughie. So dispiriting. We do try, really we do!

      1. Now that I’ve gotten the fluff out of my mouth, JB, I’d like to second your comment. I felt that stypticsue had undone my efforts and appreciate that at least three other proles in the crossword workshop today consider proXimal’s gift a most worthy Toughie. Hope you are safe and well.

  4. Considerably easier, and more fun, than yesterday’s. Lovely surfaces and some complex but logical wordplay [eg 11a].

    Favourites: 3d- even tho the anagram was a giveaway the definition raised a smile; 23d – a nice all in one and 15d – who doesn’t like bog roll clues in these straightened times!

    Thanks to proX and Dutch.

  5. Very enjoyable indeed without being overly tough – thanks to proXimal and Dutch (I love the Dear Deidre letter).
    I have loads of ticks on my printout including 8a, 18a, 3d, 7d, 10d and 15d.

  6. What a delightful way to end the Toughie week, just what the doctor ordered – except that he’s actually ordered a minimum of 12 weeks self-imposed isolation……….
    How to pick a favourite – hmm – I think ‘lady’s paramour’ wins it by a nose but I also have 18a plus 1,7&15d up on the podium.

    Many thanks to proXimal for such a treat and thanks to Dutch for the review – can’t tell you how long it took me to discount Excalibur!

  7. Solved in a bit longer time than a back pager except for 11 across. Although the time taken was not unduly long I would still rate this as a genuine Toughie. It’s a long way from a back pager. Thanks to Dutch for the review and to ProXimal for the puzzle. As for 8 across being helpful, one was, one wasn’t and one was in between.

    1. Miffypops, aka NN: I’m so glad that you and Rabbit Dave think that proXimal’s sophisticated puzzle today is a genuine Toughie–far from being a back-pager. I felt that the wind had been socked out of me when I read crypticsue’s comment. I lurked for many years and quietly thought that crypticsue had achieved superstardom in my mind, and so I’ve come to see her as having established the paradigm for me, but today I think I’ve been overrating myself. Okay, my pity-part is over now. Stay well, everyone.

      1. I wouldn’t worry too much about how others rate the difficulty of indiviual puzzles – the difficulty ratings are always subjective and what’s far more important is whether or not you enjoyed the puzzle. Personally I thought that all the Toughies this week were of ‘average’ difficulty (on the Toughie scale) and I’d have therefore given each one 3* for difficulty, but what’s more important is what you thought of the puzzles.

      2. CrypticSue is a superstar. If it is a Toughie to you and you have battled and won though you can accept whatever amount of praise you want to throw at yourself. Well done for completing it. I was short by 11 across

  8. For a Friday puzzle this seemed very much on the easy side. The definitions were not too hard to spot and the “obscurities / GK” level was fairly gentle – 10d was my only unknown. I did not parse 23d.
    I have managed two literary characters this week (22a and Oberon earlier) without having a clue which works either appears in: must be a kind of subconscious absorption process acquired in crossword land.
    I am afraid my GK is too poor to understand Dutch’s explanation of 10d (I think I am OK for the second word but don’t know much about cartoons) – I managed to guess the right answer probably for the wrong reason
    With thanks to Proximal for a nice puzzle and to Dutch, especially for 23d

    1. A Midsummer Night’s Dream and The Hunchback of Notre Dame–but don’t you WANT to know where they’re from? Sorry, but I’m just an old, retired English professor. There’s some gold in those Shakespeare and Hugo hills!

      1. No, not really. If a classic play is put on in my town I try to see it. I guess I have seen about 4 Shakespeare plays in my lifetime. If I tried to read the text then I would quickly fall asleep. It is possible that there are complete plays on YouTube these days – so I think I will take a look. Interest in literature, I think, was totally dashed by the English teachers I had for O-level – both had serious mental health issues

  9. An absolute delight! Enjoyed every minute of it and finished without any help at all, with my last two being 7d and 11a, both podium contenders. The Toughies this week have been extraordinarily artistic, lapidary gems of wordsmithing, and it’s been a feast for me. I particularly swooned over 3d, 10d, and 15d–and then there’s the wonderful, young Maureen O’Hara, who stole my heart in Hunchback: 22a. Jam-packed podium. Many thanks to proXimal and Dutch. **** / ****

  10. This puzzle seemed to please all and I agree, an excellent close to t he week.
    A steady solve and going for a ***/****.
    Favourite has to be 10a,I liked the surface of 7d too- brought a smile .
    Failed to parse the key in 26a-thanks Dutch.

  11. I enjoyed this puzzle, especially because I rarely complete a Friday Toughie. So in that respect I suppose it was easier than usual, although I personally found it Toughienuff.

    Favourites were 9a, 7d, 10d and (best of all) 15d. I needed Dutch’s insight to parse 11a so thanks to him and to proXimal.

  12. Just back from my daily walkabout. 300 yards from home actually, to check if everything is alright at the restaurant and to spend a bit of time with the resident cat.
    I consider that every crossword has it’s degree of toughness and sometimes, as today, I spend more time solving a back page.
    I also notice that sometimes, GK is accepted differently from one puzzle to another.
    The ones today didn’t engender the same reactions as Wednesday for example.
    Thanks to Proximal and to Dutch.

  13. I never rate Toughies for difficulty as they’re all difficult for me, and I rarely finish without a hint or two, which I almost never require for a back pager. If we are rating toughness relative to the puzzle on the back page of the same paper then I’d say virtually all qualify, and this was no exception.
    Though I fell four short, three in the East, one in the West I thoroughly enjoyed the challenge.
    Joint favourites for me were 3d and 27a, although 15d ran them close.
    Many thanks to ProXimal and to Dutch for a top notch puzzle and similar review.

  14. We’re still chuckling over 15d. The top clue in a puzzle that we thought was loaded with really good ones.
    Thanks proXimal and Dutch.

  15. A thoroughly enjoyable solve today albeit (dare I say it) on the fluffy side.

    Thanks to Dutch and proXimal.

  16. Whoa! I can do these things! This is the first Toughie that I ever attempted, and it looks like I chose the right one for my maiden voyage. I love proXimal’s style: reasonable for those of us who live outside of England, never pretentious, and always clever.
    Lots of favorites, but I think 18a takes top spot.

  17. Much more enjoyable than Elgar’s masterpieces. I looked at 15d and smiled and 7d came very close. 3d was just beautiful. Thank you Proximal for a very entertaining 3 hours. Thank you Dutch for the explanation for 14a I did not find the leak! even though the solution was clear enough.
    As I do not start the crossword until 11PM on a Friday I cannot compete with the early birds.

    1. Ah, in the hint for 11a? I forgot to mention that “leaking” was a deletion indicator – now fixed

  18. Enjoyed this a lot, and found it much easier than I was expecting for a ProXimal. Only issue was having PLUMP for 16, having talked myself out of the correct answer, and which made 17 impossible. Still couldn’t parse 17 when I corrected, so thanks to Dutch for deconvoluting that!

  19. Enjoyed this one, but needed help with 7d and 11a. Never heard of a tramp steamer. Guess I need a thesaurus

  20. Yes, it wasn’t of Elgar difficulty but we really enjoyed it. Thanks to proXimal and Dutch.

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