Sunday Toughie 36 (Hints) – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Sunday Toughie 36 (Hints)

Sunday Toughie No 36 by proXimal

Hints and Tips by Sloop John Bee

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The top half today fairly flew off my keyboard last night but I slowed down in the south. I still finished in a fastish time for a proXimal.
A surfeit of fish (2d et passim) today and even a drop of booze (3d 23d) gin and a glass of Italian sparkling wine (6d)

I have hinted half of an uneven 16a and 14d but welcome discussion about unhinted clues that may have just missed the hardness cutoff.

Here we go, Folks…

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 review 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! I think that sentence is a bit redundant. You have all been so helpful in sorting out prior parsing failures, and I am sure I will need similar help again.

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: Remember the site rules and play nicely.


1a Everyone filling favoured platform (6)
Put a synonym of everyone in a favoured companion.

Pallet Bed the Twin Size Includes Headboard and Platform - Etsy UK

10a Gap in timber that’s broken reportedly (8)
The cheap timber that is used to make the above often has these, the bits of timber that fall out are called (by me) “Rocking Horse Droppings” also a homophone (reportedly) of that’s broken.

15a Come tenth (before some characters) after holding first in race for so long … (11)
Some more Italian to go with the wine at 6d, A synonym of to come and the combining form denoting a tenth part, include the initial (holding first) letter of race.

18aexpected winner that might make face-plant? (5-6)
A synonym of face and a plant that has a rooting stem that runs along the ground

22a Time after strain, have ramshackle place to live (10) This is the sort of strain we need. stick some time and to have after it.

24a Avoiding terrible rip-off, inflation-proof plastic is fanciful (8)
A trademark proXimal™ extraction anagram – remove rip-off from inflation proof and anagram what remains. Two anagram indicators (terrible) as rip-off is removed in bits and (plastic) to anagram what remains.

25a Mostly seafood covering over light dish (6)
Most of the seafood that is the main ingredient in moules marinière, around o for over.
Delicate Salmon Mousse | Recipes | John West UK

27a Nuisance occupying loft that’s insufficient (6)
A  slightly unusual synonym of loft that is an upper region or height (or a verb for the place a lofted ball may go- thanks Gazza) contains a devilish nuisance.


1d Person in court‘s simple dispute (9)
Two synonyms for simple and an informal dispute give us a legal commencer of a case in court.

5d Opposing method raised in meeting (12)
A coming together or meeting contains a reversal (raised) of a method or skill.

7d Experts upset salesman, 20 (7)
20d is our definition by example so go sort that one out first and a synonym of professional experts and a reversal of a salesman will fulfil that definition.

8d Variable excluded by inactive people to become active ones (5)
inactive people who take lots of naps lose the variable and become more active in the process.

11d Way hard parts of earth disintegrated (12)
I had a bit of a hard time parsing this one, but I think it is just an anagram (disintegrated) OF EARTH and a synonym of hard. I wasted too much time on rare earth elements and h for hard.

20d See small plant coming up beneath black flower (7)
More parsing trouble here, but I think the small plant is found in boglands it is reversed and follows B for black and an interjection to look or see.

23d Drain alcohol after removing top (4)
We finish with some more informal alcohol but remove the initial before drinking.


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18 comments on “Sunday Toughie 36 (Hints)
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  1. Very enjoyable – thanks to proXimal and SJB.
    I spent some time wondering whether 7d could be a type of 20a before I realised that there is also a 20d.
    The ‘loft’ in 27a is a verb, not a noun.
    Top clues for me were 20a, 22a and 2d.

  2. Yes, enjoyable, with only a few that caused a hold-up. Re your parsing difficulties in 20d, SJB, I see it the same as you, though feel the word ‘small’ is unnecessary, as the plant may be low-growing, but can spread quite a way (come see my ‘lawn’!), so not always small. Going with 12a as favourite for the groan it caused when the penny dropped.

    1. At first I toyed with the idea that See and small provided two esses to go in yet another flower, but that left the B unexplained. I am not a horticulturalist but I think although the plant in question can be quite extensive it is really a collection of minute individual plants.

        1. Could be, hopefully proXimal will come and explain all. Either it is a small see or a small plant but I am satisfied that the clue needs it.

  3. As SJB observed, the first few entries flowed onto the printout with barely a pause of the pencil – then things slowed down a bit, with 11d especially getting in the ’11d’. In the end, I had to write out all the checkers for 11d in the horizontal before I could either see the answer or figure out the wordplay! I have separate podiums (or if you prefer, podia) for Across and Down today: 10, 13 and 20 for the former and 3, 5 and 20 for the latter. There was enough variety on display for me to check for a pangram, but it fell just 2 letters short. Having looked carefully at the letters a curiosity emerged – more than 10% of the letters are ‘o’s (18 out of 160). Is that some sort of record…?
    My thanks to proXimal and to SJB.

    1. I too checked out the pangram possibilities, but I didn’t spot the surfeit of O’s. Mr K may know more, but I doubt if that is a record for vowels.

  4. Really enjoyed this although it probably took me far longer than the experts to sort everything out satisfactorily.
    Biggest ticks going to 12,20&22a plus 1&21d.

    Thanks to proXimal and to SJB for the hints.

  5. I’m here, finally. I didn’t find this nearly as accessible as others did, but proXimal seems destined to be my eternal nemesis. Using 5 letter reveals, I have solved all but 23d, where I’ve hovered for hours, more or less. I take it that the definition is ‘drain’, but the drink alluded to, minus its head, completely escapes me! Anyway, I did enjoy this huge challenge, but my frazzled post-Ian mind seems even more frayed than usual. 15a my favourite but 12a and the combination 20/7d follow in quick pursuit. Thanks to SJB and proXimal.

    1. It is an informal term that is probably rather British so you are excused. I have an inkling that it might be from the same root as the French buvez.
      Glad you have overcome Ian and hope that things soon return to normal.

    2. One thing I’ve noticed about proXimal puzzles is he rarely, if ever, uses obscure definitions. Although the clueing can be difficult at times, I always take heart knowing that it’s highly likely I’ve heard of the definition once or before I’ve parsed the clue.

      I cannot say the same for Don Manley’s aliases such as Giovanni or to a greater extent Pasquale in the Guardian and I’m fairly sure he sets regularly for the Times 15×15. Certainly not being critical as he’s a very accomplished setter but I tend to avoid his toughies as I don’t generally have enough time or patience!

  6. I wrestled with this as we drove to Coventry to visit DD1 who has now been in hospital for 11 weeks – I don’t think they know what to do with her! I agree that 12a a was a real surprise and there were several very convoluted clues. Very satisfying – many thanks to Setter and SJB

    1. I very nearly gave a Christmas Carol to hint the last four letters of 12a but it is too early to mention the C word despite the fact that Sainsbury’s have mince pies on offer already.

  7. Very late to this after a long & arduous day starting golfers, picking the range & washing balls & jet washing buggies – so much for retirement. I found this rather tricky. 6d&10a t’up north & all of the SE the head scratchers for me but got there (well filled the grid correctly) eventually under my own steam. I’m with Gazza re small at 20d. Can’t parse 20a & annoyed that I completely missed both the anagram & extraction indicators hence my inability to parse 24a. 16d was my favourite.
    Thanks to ProXimal & SJB

    1. If you put de ed around the winged beast you get a synonym of discussed. I quite liked that one as it’s fairly rare to have the definition in the middle of the clue

  8. A great Sunday brainteaser, which certainly ticked the “Toughie” box for me. Could not parse my answers for 20a & 24a, so my thanks to SJB for the most welcome blog.

    Many thanks to Proximal for the mental workout!

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