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Toughie 540

Toughie No 540 by Beam

A Game of Two Halves

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

I thought that the across clues today were pretty straightforward, but some of the down ones presented more of a problem. But all in all it’s a good puzzle with some excellent clues.
Let us know your views in a comment and please remember to cast your vote by clicking on one of the stars at the bottom.

Across Clues

1a  Press onwards, we hear tell, conserving energy (6,6)
{FOURTH ESTATE} – a humorous way of describing the press (coming after the Lords, Commons and clergy in the pecking order) is constructed from a sound-alike (we hear) of a word meaning onwards (as used in the expression “from that day onwards”) and a verb meaning to tell, containing (conserving) E(nergy).

9a  With flipping fabulous bird, gent is dancing outside (9)
{ESCORTING} – the definition is with. Reverse (flipping) a large mythical bird and around it put an anagram (dancing) of GENT IS.

10a  Put out about female getting sack (5)
{RIFLE} – a verb meaning to irritate or put out goes round F(emale).

11a  Almost tumble, holding case of rioja, finding corkscrew (6)
{SPIRAL} – put all but the final L of a tumble around (holding) the outer letters (case) of R(ioj)A.

12a  Cheapest places, always ancient, seen in theatre (8)
{STEERAGE} – put an archaic (ancient) or literary word meaning always inside a synonym for the theatre to get the cheapest places on a ship.

13a  Worn by practically everyone on beach (6)
{SANDAL} – this is a semi-all-in-one. Put a synonym for everyone without its final L (practically) after another word for beach.

14a  The empty message party leader’s included profane… (8)
{TEMPORAL} – an adjective meaning profane or secular comes from T(h)E (empty) followed by a lesson or message that can be learnt from an experience, with the first letter of P(arty) inside.

17a  …empty words, Conservative crony and constituent returned (8)
{CLAPTRAP} – the definition is empty words. Start with C(onservative) and then reverse separately synonyms for crony and constituent or fragment.

19a  Obscure star found in unknown new galaxy initially (6)
{UNSUNG} – a description of someone who is obscure or unacclaimed comes from the nearest star to Earth inside (found in) the initial letters of Unknown New Galaxy.

22a  Tick a right answer put in exercise (8)
{PARASITE} – insert A, R(ight), A(nswer) and a verb to put inside the abbreviation for physical exercise.

24a  Shock from Tarantino’s first artist, ‘Kill Bill’ star (6)
{TRAUMA} – the definition is shock. String together the first letter of Tarantino, the abbreviation for a successful artist and the forename of the star of his two-part film “Kill Bill”.

26a  Faithful former wife before decree (5)
{EXACT} – this word means faithful in the sense of accurate.

27a  Blimey, second harangue from bird (9)
{CORMORANT} – this is a long-necked bird (no, not Naomi Campbell!). It’s a charade of an interjection expressing surprise (blimey), a short time (second) and the sort of harangue that you might get from a 3d.

28a  Where one may get pins and needles? (12)
{HABERDASHERY} – a very gentle cryptic definition.

Down Clues

1d  Strips, laying bare blubber! (7)
{FLENSES} – we are meant to think here of someone taking off their clothes to reveal one or two excess pounds. It’s actually a verb (new to me) meaning slices the skin or fat from a carcass, especially that of a whale.

2d  Office lacking female fulsomeness (7)
{UNCTION} – the definition is fulsomeness (the sort of smarmy obsequiousness exhibited by Nicholas Witchell in his reports on the preparations for the Royal Wedding, for example). Remove the leading F(emale) from a duty or office.

3d  Call a shrew up, beginning to tame shrew (9)
{TERMAGANT} – start with a synonym for to call, add A and the reversal of another word for a shrew and finish with the first letter of T(ame). What you should end up with a harsh-tempered woman or shrew.

4d  Very angry revolting, Egypt’s principal character’s first (4)
{EVIL} – this was the last answer I got and I’m not sure that the clue works too well. The definition is very angry and this is one of the meanings given by Chambers (though I don’t know in what context it means that). To get the answer you have to start with a synonym for revolting and move its final E to the front. The clue tells us that the answer starts with E (first letter of Egypt) but not that it has to be transferred from the end. Furthermore, the surface doesn’t seem to make much sense.

5d  In concert, song evenly taken by lead (8)
{TOGETHER} – the definition is in concert. Put the even letters of sOnG inside (taken by) a lead or rope.

6d  Abrupt finish of Celt language (5)
{TERSE} – the last letter (finish) of (Cel)T is followed by a Gaelic language.

7d  Project wind by a very loud passage (6)
{AFFAIR} – this is a project or undertaking. Put a synonym for wind (the noun, not the verb) after A and the instruction that a musical passage is to be played very loudly.

8d  ‘Friends’ say something corny (6)
{CEREAL} – the answer is something corny that you may have for breakfast. It sounds like (say) what Friends was an example of. I’m presuming that the quotation marks around Friends are meant to signal that this is an example, otherwise “say” would be fulfilling two separate functions.

15d  Rising charge with record debts getting close (9)
{PENURIOUS} – the definition here is close or miserly. A verb meaning to charge or proceed quickly is followed by an old record format, then the whole lot is reversed (rising). Finally, we need to add the usual Crosswordland debts.

16d  Bit dim keeping right in charge (8)
{PARTICLE} – put a synonym for dim or faint around (keeping) abbreviations for right and in charge.

17d  One manages to grip end of potato peeler (6)
{COPPER} – someone who manages or gets by goes round (to grip) the first letter (end) of P(otato) to make another informal word for a peeler.

18d  Sailor on route to foreign parts (6)
{ABROAD} – a charade of an abbreviation for a sailor and a synonym for route produces foreign parts.

20d  ‘Shout’ perhaps polished off following pop star’s return (7)
{ULULATE} – this is a verb meaning to howl loudly or wail as an expression of grief (it’s not quite a shout, hence the ‘perhaps’, but we can forgive that for the excellent surface reading). Put a verb meaning polished off or devoured after the reversal (return) of the pop star who had a hit with ‘Shout’. Lovely clue!

21d  Rotten head of Government fast losing Italy (7)
{GHASTLY} – after the first letter of G(overnment) put an adverb meaning fast after dropping the IVR code for Italy.

23d  Shiatsu training incorporates religious aphorisms (5)
{SUTRA} – this is a set of aphorisms in Sanskrit literature and it’s hidden (incorporates) in the clue.

25d  This starts to get really irritating, dammit! (4)
{GRID} – the definition is this, i.e. what you’re looking at when you’re doing the puzzle. It’s the initial letters (starts) of the last four words.

My favourite clues today included 1a, 9a, 24a and 17d, but best of all was 20d. Let us know what you enjoyed in a comment.

13 comments on “Toughie 540

  1. Apart from 1d (I had to work through the alphabet for the second letter and then resort to the dictionary until I found the right answer, which is surely not the aim of a cryptic clue), I did enjoy this very nice Beam toughie, thank you Ray. My favourites were 17d and 20d. Thanks for the review too Gazza – do you think he wrote 24a with a Gazza-pic opportunity in mind? :D

  2. Totally agree with Crypticsue on this. I thought 1d almost ungettable without aid but a thoroughly enjoyable crossword from Beam and a great review from Gazza. ( I thought the picture possibilites of 23d might have tempted you )

  3. I had this finished except for 4d; I really did not understand what the clue was getting at, and after 3 or 4 incorrect guesses, I took a hint letter, which gave me the ‘v’, and enabled me to complete it.
    Thanks to Beam, and to gazza for the explanations.

  4. I too agree with my noble and learned colleauges about 1d. I also thought that 28a could have been haberdashers or haberdashery. Two minor niggles aside, a very enjoyable puzzle. Many thanks to Ray T for the crossword and to Gazza for the review.

  5. Ditto the comments above. Very enjoyable although 1d was a dictionary job and 3d a bit weird!
    24a and the Lulu clue favourites.
    Thanks to RayT and gazza.
    I’m sitting outside my local with a pint, strumming JJ, my new soprano uke!

  6. Agree with all thats been posted up to now 1d is a new one for me also 23d but my two favourites were 1a and 20d, most enjoyable puzzle thanks to Beam and Gazza for the review.

  7. Nice one today. I agree with the blogger that the surface and definition of 4d are less than ideal but the wordplay does work:
    revolting, Egypt’s principal character’s first
    Take “revolting” and put Egypt’s principal character (=E) first instead of last.

    Thinking about the definition: “he was in a very angry mood”… yep, it works.

    The surface can be read as:
    “There was a very angry revolution led by Egypt’s leading public figure”, taking “revolting” as a noun. Perhaps. Maybe the setter could comment?

    Thanks to Gazza & Beam! It was fun.

  8. Totally right about the down clues
    1d 15d were new words to me and 4d meant nothing at all I guessed “evil” but it was a pure guess

    Nice steady toughie apart from that

  9. No problems with 1d (blame Patrick O’Brian) , 4d has to be what is was, but needed the explanation (thanks Gazza), didn’t put 28a in until I had 21d as per Prolixic (two possible answers). All in all a very good and enjoyable Toughie. Thanks Ray.

  10. Very good crossword overall, but with Gazza’s caveats re 4D.

    The definition is OK; “****-tempered”, “an **** look”, “in an **** mood” etc. Some thing like “Egypt’s leader rising” might have made it easier to parse the clue.

    Other than that, great stuff. 1D is fine with me, and there were plenty of good clues; 17D was particularly good.

  11. Thanks to Gazza for the review, and to all who added comments.

    Nestorius has it about right for 4d, but I agree that the surface wasn’t brilliant.

    I was of course horrified to see that Gazza chose such a saucy picture of the beautiful Uma Thurman to illustrate 24a…


  12. Thanks RayT for great puzzle that needed much cogitation punctuated by Man U/ Chelsea. Favourites were 1a 9a 17d and 20d.

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