Sunday Toughie 17 (Hints) – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Sunday Toughie 17 (Hints)

Sunday Toughie No 17 by proXimal

Hints and Tips by Sloop John Bee

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This was a real tricky one for me. I was able to have a blog at another of the Sunday Toughie setters (Zandio) in a Friday back page guise and although it was quite tricky I managed it in half the time that this proXimal Toughie took. I think that proXimal’s trademark in this series is becoming an extraction anagram combo. And I had a tough time parsing 14d. anyway, less preamble and more hinting or I will run out of time to find appropriate pics and tunes to decorate the blog.

As it is a Prize puzzle I can only hint at a few and hope that will give you the checkers and inspiration to go further. I’ll be back just after the closing date with the full blog. Don’t forget to follow BD’s instructions in RED at the bottom of the hints! I hope I don’t have to redact any comments but I am new at this and don’t want to rock the boat. If in doubt, I’ll rub it out!

Most of the terms used in these hints are explained in the Glossary and examples are available by clicking on the entry under “See also” Where the hint describes a construct as “usual” this means that more help can be found in The Usual Suspects, which gives a number of the elements commonly used in the wordplay. Another useful page is Wolves in Sheep’s Clothing, which features words with meanings that are not always immediately obvious.

A full review of this puzzle will be published after the closing date for submissions.

Some hints follow: 15 of 28 clues split 6a:9d and maybe a bonus for those that stick at it to the end.

Remember the site rules and play nicely.


7a    Protective covering around slate unit (8)
We start with one of crossword lands usual approximations for around, add the slating you may receive across the knuckles perhaps, and a playing card that represents a unit.

12a    Biscuit tin clutched by European on alcohol (11,3)
Tin here is a synonym of money, we need a different synonym of money, it is clutched by a European and that all follows an alcoholic drink.

15a    Rapidly turn legs cycling (4)
I think the blog discussed “cycling” clues on Friday. Today a synonym of legs cycles the last letter to the front to satisfy the definition

20a    Learner right to be detained by teacher, tutee wrecked college room (7,7)
Wrecked is an anagram indicator, and college room is the definition. The hard part is finding the right fodder, The first two words are abbreviated and the master pupil relationship, in the clue, the rest.

23a    Mother being tender removing son’s dressing (8)
One of our usual mothers (or half how I refer to mine) and a tender profession (without the S for son.) You should have a dressing more suitable for your roses rather than your salads.


The wisdom of horse manure | Financial Times

After the Lord Mayor’s Show follows the…

28a    Odd impressions after rascal’s stripped making you blush (8)
Odd is the indicator here and impressions the fodder, but that has too many letters for our grid so we have to strip the rascal from the fodder and jumble the rest to satisfy the definition


1d    Succeed having very much energy (4)
An excessive (very much) distance perhaps and some energy. Definition 1 in the BRB for an intransitive verb To get on or succeed

4d    Man from Genesis, artist set up craft group (6)
Not the first man to leave the prog rock group Genesis, but the first man in the Book of Genesis, add an artist who displays at the Royal Academy and set them both up. For a group of craft, the most famous of which set sail from Lisbon in 1588.

5d    Female in Germany worked out (8)
Not a Fraulein but just an abbreviated female, two words that mean in and the IVR code for Germany. You should have worked out the answer by now. (Comes from the same probing of the deep that Samuel L Clemens got his pen name from and the first definition of 17a)

6d    Vote on it gone awry — to protect a queen bee, perhaps (10)
I am somewhat obliged to hint at clues that have bees in. Start with a 4 letter synonym of vote, on it has gone awry and it contains (to protect) a from the clue, finish with one letter for a queen. Perhaps indicates that there are other things that provide this important service other than Bees but I claim them as the most important.

8d    Doctor away in South America raised grants (7)
One of the abbreviations that doctors use, a synonym of away are put in two letters that stand for South America. They are raised (up in a down clue)

16d    Trick to lift short singer Tina in musical piece (8)
A trick is reversed ( to lift in a down clue) followed by most of Anna Mae Bullocks stage surname.

18d    Erected sheet of canvas bore flowers (7)
A sheet of canvas that a sloop, cutter or 4d will have, and a synonym of bore. All reversed (erected in a down clue)

22d    Limiting fanatic, separatists uprising adapt (6
These separatists are an acronym for the Basque independence movemen, around a fanatic and all reversed (uprising). To adapt the pitch of a musical instrument perhaps.

26d    Ear removed from grave is tangled mess (4)
A synonym of grave as in serious loses an ear to become the tangled mess that Boris often sports on his head.


Lots of Bees, Boats, Cycling, Prog Rock, and even a drink and a biscuit too but, Phew! that was a real toughie. On the grounds of difficulty, I could have hinted at many more. 14d was a particular problem. I uncovered all points of the compass and put it in many crosswordy abouts. I was about to impale myself on the nearest sailor(13d) when the word that I needed to uncover leapt from the clue and I saw the point of it all. As usual, I will be pretty tolerant of some discussion but BD has exercised his pencil already this weekend, so I know you will be reasonable.


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14 comments on “Sunday Toughie 17 (Hints)

  1. Very enjoyable and a proper Toughie to boot. I do admire the way proXimal can produce real Toughies without needing to use obscurities. Thanks to him and to SJP.
    My podium contains 4d, 5d and 24d.

  2. My LOI was 1d, and just before accessing SJB’s very helpful blog (though I needed only confirmation this time), I decided–tada!–on the right answer, which I had tentatively parsed earlier (and justified to Jimmy) as the only way to read ‘very much’. I agonised over most of this very unruly Toughie well into the wee Sunday morning hours, with the SE corner, as well as 14d (which I have 80% parsed), holding out the longest. Whew. what a workout. Do all of these Sunday Toughies have to seem so Edgarish or Osmosis-ish to me? I could name at least ten clues as favourites but I’m going to choose something quite personal instead: 18d. Thanks to SJB (loved the Chopin) and proXimal.

    1. Elgarish*
      I was tasked by this well into the early hours myself. Mainly by solving and then a bit of preparing the blog. It was a last minute parsing of 14d that allowed me to sleep and I awoke refreshed to put the blog together. Do you grow a good 18d? Or perhaps a fan of the Raymond Chandler film.

      1. Did I say Edgar?! Oops. Sorry, Elgar! I certainly do know better, having tussled with him a few times.

      2. A fan of Alan Ladd and Veronica Lake (my childhood sweetheart) and of course Chandler. And Sunset Strip nightclubs.

        1. I am on the lookout for a download of that film. I haven’t seen it for years.

  3. Although I wrote in the correct answers to 1d and 14d, I still can’t parse them. 13d COTD for me, and 18a I thought very clever. 23a made me smile.
    Thanks both

  4. Excellent Sunday Toughie, deserving of the classification. All parsed other than my two bung-ins, 14d and 22d – thank you SJB! Too many good clues to single out a COTD, but HMs to 7, 12, & 23a, 4, 5 &13d.

    Thank you to Proximal and SJB

    1. Echo your comments in full MG, I have a full grid but have some doubt regarding my bung-in at 14d, let’s just say that I’m far from AROUSED by the content of my answer. Hearty thanks to Proximal and SJB.

  5. Don’t often have time to tango with the Sunday Toughies and they do seem to be in something of a league of their own.
    16d made me smile as it was the subject of a discussion between myself and Senf over a puzzle elsewhere. It actually became my favourite today. For some unknown reason, the answer to 20a popped into my head unbidden when it was the 12a biscuit I was actually searching for – no, I don’t understand how my brain works!

    Thanks to proXimal and to Sloop for the hints.

  6. I’d certainly put this one up for one of the trickiest puzzles to grace the Sunday Toughie slot since its inception. I’d also echo Gazza’s words regarding the absence of obscurities.

    Sheer bloody-mindedness kept me at it and I was relieved to fill the grid although, if I’ve a mind, I’ll return and look at the full review when published as it’s late here and a couple of parsings currently elude me.

    Thanks to SJB and proXimal with his fiendish hat well and truly donned.

  7. I’m playing catch-up on Sunday Toughies having missed a few weeks. This one probably took me longer to solve than 12, 13 and 14 put together! Just 15 and 16 to go before next Sunday and I’ll be back on track… Nevertheless, I did enjoy the challenge posed by proXimal, with 9 clues ticked and a mention in despatches for the cunningly constructed 20a. Like Robert Clark, I tussled with 1d and despite looking at every combination of the 2 missing letters was not happy with any of them, including the one SJB has identified, which to my thinking requires a descriptive adverb to reach the definition. However, I will defer to the BRB! Many thanks to proXimal and SJB.

    1. I always tend to FARE well when I rely on the BRB, that and it’s companion thesaurus got me across the line with this in the early hours of Sunday. Though 1d and 14d were the last to do so.

      1. I spy… a descriptive adverb! :smile:
        With regard to 14d, it did receive one of my appreciative ticks once I had unravelled it, but it was definitely a case of presumed answer followed up somewhat later by teasing out the wordplay.

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