Sunday Toughie 30 (Hints) – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Sunday Toughie 30 (Hints)

Sunday Toughie No 30 by proXimal

Hints and Tips by Sloop John Bee

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I am definitely finding proXimal the trickiest of the Sunday Toughie triumvirate, and today was a devil to parse in places, but if you closely follow the wordplay it can be done. We get a generous 30 clues today split 14a and 16d.
I have hinted a bit more than half, but as ever will be tolerant of some help from the commentariat.

I had to sleep on a couple of these as the parsings arrived long after the grid was filled and last night’s tincture of choice was wearing off.

This morning’s coffee is an Ethiopian Rocko Mountain, with tasting notes of peach, strawberry and dark chocolate. At least two cups of which were required to stimulate the brain cells this morning.

Here goes with the hints…


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! I think that sentence is a bit redundant. You have all been so helpful in sorting out prior failures of parsing 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.

9a Inflexible person‘s bad luck endlessly meeting resistance (9)
Start with an expression one might say to someone suffering from bad luck, remove the last letter and replace it with the abbreviation for resistance

12a Woman’s name in crumpled vest busy maidservant scrubs (7)
There is enough wordplay to make this a bit more than guess a woman’s name, take the vest off the maidservant and shuffle the rest.
Two Nerdy History Girls: What the Maidservant Wore, c 1770

13a Hesitancy from wild one regularly feeding by sierra (9)
A lot to do to get to this synonym of hesitancy, start with a mathematical operation that by indicates, insert the regular (in this case even) letters of wild one and follow with the letter that sierra represents in the radio code book.
Come on... don't be shy - Spock and Cat Meme | Make a Meme
17a Greeting a lord shortly after knight (7)
Start with the chess notation for a knight, a from the clue and most of a lord and ******
Namaste memes. Best Collection of funny Namaste pictures on iFunny
21a Takes away one’s work done by others, after overlooking con (9)
Overlook con in a word for paying someone else to do your work, for another mathematical operation.

24a Sharp dish — use pan, leaving all wings in hot sauce (7)
A clever clue, leave all the wings off the first four words and what remains is a hot sauce that you might cook chicken wings in.

26a Retired father, one with bug (7)
How is your Latin? A Latin father, the letter that looks like 1 and an abbreviation of with are all  reversed (retired)

29a Bird‘s cry welcoming soldiers returning home (6,3)
A wolf’s cry welcomes some soldiers of other ranks and the reversal of an animal’s home or lair.

Great horned owl - Wikipedia


1d Gas traps both sides of large wooden villa (6)
A synonym of gas, gossip or natter around the sides of LargE.
Votre chalet ou les vacances au ski en (très) grand ! -

2d Relative with minute piercing cut structure of tongue (10)
Another one where I slept on the answer to finally see the parsing. Start with the rules and structure of the tongue we speak and write, cut the last letter and insert the conjunction that ‘with’ suggests, with an abbreviation of minute. should get you to an older female relative.

3d Bad press when chocolate bar’s made smaller (4)
We had some sweeties yesterday and another one today that loses its last letter (made smaller)

The advert with a steamy bathroom and occupant eating this chocolate bar always created a frisson of excitement.
The adverse criticism or bad press to setters we had on Friday is not welcome today. but I doubt that they will even bother to try this excellent but tricky Toughie!

6d Maybe trainers are foul-mouthed keeping tantrum up (10)
Some foul-mouthed language goes around a reversal of a tantrum.

14d Admission of fifty in party OK (10)
A synonym of a party where music is played and danced to contains the Roman numeral for fifty and ends with a word of confirmation that OK suggests.

16d Whack point below middle of ball (10)
Make sure you get the full whack here. A point where you happen to be, below the middle letters of ball.

22d Fighting inside winged creature’s cave (6)
A little bit more Latin here, The winged creature I have adopted for my avatar around a serious bit of fighting. The definition translates from Latin to be the answer.
Pompeii dog mosaic

27d Feels sorry for trick, we heard (4)
A homophone (we heard) of a trick or scheme is the regret when we feel sorry for.



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I get regular updates from YT about some of my musical heroes and today they certainly dug up a diamond…


14 comments on “Sunday Toughie 30 (Hints)

  1. A fine puzzle from proXimal – thanks to him and thanks to SJB for the hints.
    11a is possibly a bit unfair for non-UK solvers though it is sympathetically clued.
    For my podium I’ve selected 9a, 26a and 3d.

    1. re 11a, also not the first word to come to mind if, like me, you never watch football but of course I’ve heard of him.

    2. I did consider a pic of your namesake Gazza but if as you say you are non-UK and have never heard of him even a pic wouldn’t help.

  2. Gosh that was hard.
    Hard to pick a favourite. Perhaps 3d or 26a or 29a.
    Thanks for the nudges.

  3. As Una said, this was hard. As is often the way, it was a pesky 4-letter one that held out until the end – our setter didn’t have the cute one in mind after all
    Potential favourites as Una’s but I’ll add 9&26a into the mix.

    Thank you for the afternoon’s entertainment, Prolixic, and thanks to SJB, particularly for the 29a illustration.

  4. Very tough indeed for me, although–after two sittings–I managed to solve all but two, 13a & 14d, on my own…and finally, well into the wee hours last night, I gave in and requested a letter. One letter did it for me: the 5th one in 13a. So close, yet not quite there! (One of these days, I’m going to pay more attention to that little word ‘by’, confound it!) Anyway, a really cracking corker of a puzzle, and even though I’d never heard of the gentleman in 11a, the clue was sympathetic enough for me to solve it (I then googled for confirmation). Have to go with 13a, 14d, & 29a for my top three. Thanks fo SJB, whose hints I’ll read now, and to proXimal.

    1. …The Dark Remains

      That little by tumbled around my brain endlessly last night. It took some serious caffeine to revive that neuron.

      1. …you got it! The subtitle (apparently) gives away the task that Rankin set for himself: ‘Laidlaw’s First Case’–to complete the unfinished novel by the Glasgow master, McIlvanney, and the result, as far as I’ve gone, is just so smooth and seamless, with Laidlaw emerging, in his ‘debut’, as Rebusesque, but with his own quirkiness. Later this coming week, I’ll have more to say about this discovery in one of the cryptic blogs.

  5. A challenging puzzle from proXimal, which was solved in fits and starts. With just 2d left to fill in and with all checking letters in place I referred to Mrs S, also known as Dr S, who has years of education and experience in medical matters, for some sage advice on an obscure anatomical term – and, of course, she came up with the correct answer immediately :roll:

    Moving quickly on – being a UK solver and sports enthusiast I did award a podium place to 11a, alongside 16d and 22d. My thanks to proXimal, and also to SJB, who apparently succeeded in solving and parsing 2d with a minimal knowledge of anatomy!

    1. I did waste some of the small hours looking at anatomical drawings of the tongue before a more cryptic interpretation of “tongue” popped up.

      1. Here I am, back after 24 hours, re-thinking 2d, and the more I think about it, the better it gets. I’ve just awarded it COTD. Don’t know why I overlooked it earlier, probably because of the 13a/14d quicksand I was sunk into.

  6. Good enjoyable Sunday Toughie for an early Monday morning. Not being the greatest fan of 11a, whom I would say is more a grossly overpaid and unnecessary presenter than anything else these days, the definition is not quite what springs to mind.
    So many excellent clues but I’ll nominate 24a and 22d, with COTD to 29a.

    Many thanks to Proximal and to SJB – on another day I may have needed your very generous dollop of hints, but not, I’m pleased to say, this morning!

  7. A long sleep and a coffee was enough to get this finished this morning. All the trouble was in the western half. 17a never heard of, and 17d last to fall. Needed SJB’s hints to sort out 3d. Was hoping for an x-less pangram to help out!
    Thanks proXimal and SJB

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