Toughie 2636 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 2636

Toughie No 2636 by proXimal

Hints and tips by Dutch

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


Definitely a toughie – took me a while to find the right parsing for 8a (the lawman), 2d (southern Germany), 17d (theatrical act) & 22d (last of many to raise voice). Please leave a comment telling us what you thought.


7a    Guy picked up fish drink (7)
CORDIAL: A guy or rope then a homophone of a long thin wriggly fish

8a    US lawman has given name to uncover predator (7)
LIONESS: The (5,4) US lawman during the prohibition known for bringing down Al Capone. But without the outer letters of his first name (given name to uncover)

10a    Loyalty overlooking leader’s worn condition (9)
RUSTINESS: A 10-letter word meaning loyalty without the first letter (overlooking leader)

11a    Clone marred with this malfunction might be conceptual (3,2)
ACT UP: An anagram ( … marred with … might be … ) of CLONE with *the answer* can give CONCEPTUAL

12a    Foolish king Danes totally unmasked (5)
INANE: King and Danes both without the outer letters (totally unmasked)

13a    Mark in register police group reviewed (9)
INDICATOR: IN from the clue then reversals (reviewed) of police group (1,1,1) and register (4)

15a    Continued deliberate backtracking inflamed hosts (7)
RESUMED: A reversal (backtracking) of a word meaning deliberate as in consider or ponder that a 3-letter word meaning inflamed contains (hosts)

17a    River in south drained in the year, before November (7)
SHANNON: S(out)H without the inner letters (drained), a 4-letter Latin word meaning ‘in the year’ and the abbreviation for November

18a    Suggest reform of United Nations? Don’t fancy being dismissed (9)
INSINUATE: An anagram of (reform of) UNITED NATIONS from which an anagram (fancy) of DON’T is omitted (dismissed)

20a    Eating third of vindaloo, cause wind (5)
SNAKE: A 4-letter word meaning cause (as in for Pete’s ****) contains the third letter (eating third) of ‘vindaloo’

21a    Destroy base after ages (5)
ERASE: The base of natural logarithms comes after another word for ages

23a    Audibly sands court door, primarily timber (9)
BEECHWOOD: A homophone (audibly) for a stretch of sand, a verb meaning to court or date, and the first letter (primarily) of door

24a    Kernels covering stone in floor, all around (7)
NUTMEGS: A 3-letter precious stone goes inside a verb meaning to floor or perplex, all reversed (around)

25a    Article for study returned in protective cover (7)
APRONED: An indefinite article, a word meaning ‘for’, and the reversal of a 3-letter study room


1d    Intrusions caused by old-fashioned inside lock (10)
TRESPASSES: A 5-letter word meaning old-fashioned or no longer trendy goes inside a word for a lock of hair

2d    Guess southern Germany in part should turn to north (6)
DIVINE: Take a 6-letter word meaning to part, split or share that includes two occurrences of the IVR code for Germany. Then take the southernmost of those two occurrences and change it to (should turn to) the abbreviation for North.

3d    Low offer to pen opener for rock singer (8)
BLUEBIRD: A word for low or down (as in emotionally) and a 3-letter offer which contains (to pen) the first letter (opener) for rock

4d    Miss stops recording exclusive (6)
CLOSED: To miss or fail to win is inserted into (stops) a recording (usually a music album, read by laser). I had ‘classy’ in my head way too long

5d    Female with account in excellent company set up to supply bread (8)
FOCACCIA: The abbreviation for female, then the 3-letter abbreviation for account goes inside (in) a reversal (set up) of a 2-character representation of excellent plus the abbreviation for company

6d    Attend strike repeatedly (4)
BEAT: Split (2,2), the answer means attend

7d    Horror story and awful gripe about messenger (7,6)
CARRIER PIGEON: A Horror story by Stephen King which became an iconic 1976 Brian de Palma movie starring Sissy Spacek, an anagram (awful) of GRIPE, and a short word meaning about or concerning

9d    Kept an eye on lovely fiance (13)
SUPERINTENDED: A 5-letter word meaning lovely or excellent and another word for fiance

14d    Equal beat at climbing tor (10)
TANTAMOUNT: Another word for beat or hit, a reversal (climbing) of AT from the clue, and another word for tor or hill.

16d    US city regularly ignored their tin shelters (8)
MONTEREY: The odd letters (regularly ignored) of ‘their’ are covered (sheltered) by a word for which ‘tin’ is a slang meaning

17d    Drawn theatrical act out after late tackle’s deployed (8)
SKELETAL: An anagram (theatrical) of ACT is removed (out) from an anagram (deployed) of LATE TACKLE’S

19d    A command for dogs to bite bishop is surprise (6)
AMBUSH: A from the clue, then a command for huskies contains (to bite) the abbreviation for bishop

20d    Heartlessly swap present for compass (6)
SPHERE: S(wa)P from the clue without the inner letters (heartlessly) plus a word meaning present or in attendance

22d    Last of many to raise voice (4)
ALTO: Take a (1,3) phrase meaning many and raise the last letter one position


I liked 2d for audacity of wordplay, 9d for simple elegance, and the horror movie which I remember well. Which were your favourite clues?

26 comments on “Toughie 2636

  1. This is just the sort of Toughie I like best – lots of clever wordplay, not too many anagrams and very little in the way of obscurities. Thanks to proXimal for a great puzzle and thanks to Dutch for the review.

    My top awards went to 8a, 2d, 3d and 19d.

  2. What a tussle.
    Finally completed after two sessions but needed Dutch to parse 7ac 17ac&d and 22d all of which were accessible but had no idea why.
    I’m unfamiliar with “mush” and not sure 1ac works with the way I pronounce it.
    NE was last quadrant to go .
    Thanks to proXimal for excellent challenge at absolute limit of my solving abilities and to Dutch of course….great pictures.

    1. must admit i was trying sit, stay, heel, fetch, every dog command i knew before i got to mush. It’s what you say to get a sled pulled by huskies moving. Not that I’ve ever had opportunity to say this. And it’s probably inappropriate to use it metaphorically.

      1. Mush is the answer to a very famous Bunthorne clue:
        Amundsen’s forwarding address <4>

  3. For the first time in a while I have to confess to needing some help to finish this one. Looking back, there was nothing obscure, the clueing was sound, and I was clearly not on the famous wavelength. Never mind, it was still a terrific challenge and a Toughie worthy of the name. I think 19d is deserving as my COTD.

    My thanks to proXimal and to Dutch for some excellent explanations.

  4. After a tussle was just glad to give up, relax and enjoy Dutch’s hints . I suppose I solved about 10. I was particularly proud of 5d.
    At last some rain here. It held off just until we’d finished our pub lunch. What a treat that was.
    Enjoy the Bank Holiday everyone and don’t stray too far away.

    1. 5d did take a while to assemble correctly – there just seemed to be too many C’s!

  5. Definitely too clever for me in places so, just beyond the halfway point, I did turn to Dutch’s review for some hints.
    A very well constructed puzzle although I did have my doubts about the homophone in 7a.
    Top two here were 7&9d.

    Thanks to proXimal for the challenge and much gratitude to Dutch for the much needed hints and review.

  6. Well done to anyone who got one word of this one. Finished Tuesday & Thursday; three words missing on Wednesday but not one clue solved today!! Totally beyond me & could not get on the right wavelength. Roll on another week!

  7. Yes, proXimal’s style takes a bit of getting into. He doesn’t give much away if that makes sense? I stared at it for a while then twigged 9d and the NE corner started to yield. Then it was just plugging away and actually finished in 4* time [for me]. 2d is very clever, 8a is novel and witty and there are loads more good ‘uns.
    Thanks to proXimal and to Dutch for the blog.

  8. I solved exactly a quarter of this puzzle. Seven out of twenty-eight. Looking at the answers I’m not so sure that I can get to them from the clues. Each to their own but count me out. Thanks to both setter and blogger. Both too clever for me

  9. Only managed six unaided, but did get all but one with the excellent tips. Still don’t get 16d, as odd letters are either tee or hr.
    Above my pay grade but will keep trying.

    1. It’s odd letters of “their” as per the clue which gives you “ter”.
      I only managed about a quarter of the clues before coming here for assistance, but the more you tease out these difficult ones, the easier other Toughies become.
      All good fun
      Thanks to ProXimal and Dutch

  10. In 7a, I looked for a fish called Yawl but could only find a boat. Settled for the eel but wasn’t very pleased with this.
    Was looking for some —lier pigeon for a while until the right bird appeared along with the movie.
    Great constructions all round.
    A smooth and pleasant solve.
    Thanks to Proximal and to Dutch.

    1. I’m not jealous. Not jealous at all. You just carry on working out how my language works better than I can. That’ll do me

  11. A considerable challenge and excellent fun.
    Our last act was sorting out the parsing for 2d as it took ages to twig that the D clued by Germany was the one that was missing from the answer.
    Thought that 11a was a bit sneaky having the definition in the middle of the clue but still solvable.
    Many thanks proXimal and Dutch.

    1. Definitions not at start or end of clue are often indicated by “this” – worth bearing in mind, but you obviously found it anyway

  12. Not for me, this one. Too ‘clever’ by half. I find some of the clueing outrageous.

  13. Had a late night stab at this following the Shelby v Bingham snooker. Very difficult & the eyelids ceased to be cooperative 17 answers in. I am, however, still sufficiently intrigued to avoid the hints or use any letter reveals in the hope of further progress. Of the ones I have got 7d was my pick as I’m a big admirer of the film. I got the answer & the 4 elements of 5d simply enough though I’m less clear how the wordplay leads you to arrange them in that order. Liked 11&17a a lot too.
    Thanks to ProXimal & in advance to Dutch whose clues I’m guaranteed to need before too long.

  14. Started this last evening and finished this morning. Everything parsed except 17d but the answer had to be what it was. As to the dog command, is anyone here old enough to remember ‘Much Binding in the Marsh’ with Kenneth Horne, Richard Murdoch and Sam Costa? In one episode the cast went to Alaska and had teams of huskies. One of the lead dogs was named Binding. Hence ‘Mush, Binding’.

  15. Too much snooker this weekend to devote enough time to this. i completed two thirds of the puzzle before resorting to Dutch’s hints for the remainder. A good effort from proximal which stretched the mind. Thanks to both. COTD 5d 16d and 24a

  16. Too much snooker this weekend to devote enough time to this. i completed two thirds of the puzzle before resorting to Dutch’s hints for the remainder. A good effort from Proximal which stretched the mind. . COTD 5d 16d and 24a

  17. Well. It took me two days and now it’s a week later but I did complete it all myself minus the bluebird. But that could be because I had a Carling for 7a!

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