Toughie 639 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 639

Toughie No 639 by Beam

Hints and tips by Big Dave

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BD Rating – Difficulty **Enjoyment ****

Beam, aka Ray T, is one of the setters whose puzzles I always look forward to solving. This one was about the same difficulty as some of his back-page puzzles, but enjoyable nonetheless.

Please leave a comment telling us what you thought. You can also add your assessment by selecting from one to five stars at the bottom of the post.


1a    Swift race? (12)
{LILLIPUTIANS} – a cryptic definition of one of the races in Dean Jonathan Swift’s novel Gulliver’s Travelsthe required capitalisation of Swift is concealed by placing it first in the clue!

9a    Ness attack trailing Untouchables’ last patsy (9)
{SCAPEGOAT} – a ness or headland is followed by a phrasal verb meaning to attack (2,2) and preceded by the final (last( letter of UntouchableS to get a patsy

10a    Pass endlessly speedy animal (5)
{OKAPI} – a word meaning to pass (2) is followed by an adjective meaning speedy without its initial and final letters (endlessly) to get a Central African animal related to the giraffe

11a    Genesis songs played in public first (6)
{OUTSET} – to get this genesis or origin put the list of items performed at a concert after a word meaning in public – here the capitalisation conceals the fact that this has nothing to do with the group Genesis

12a    Time one’s in team without back put on (8)
{TELEVISE} – start with T(ime) and then put I’S (one’s) inside most of (without back) a football or cricket team to get a word meaning to put on or broadcast

13a    Catch teammate returned missing run (6)
{ENTRAP} – this word meaning to catch or snare is created by reversing a teammate without the final R(un)

15a    Harrow used for crop, perhaps (8)
{DISTRESS} – this verb meaning to harrow or upset could, perhaps, mean to crop the hair

18a    Grand companion, a dog with change of heart (8)
{PALATIAL} – a word meaning grand or splendid is derived from a companion, A from the clue and finally a verb meaning to dog with the middle letters swapped (change of heart)

19a    Insect, female, not finished eating insect (6)
{MANTIS} – this insect, famous because the female of the species bites off the male’s head during mating, is derived from an unmarried female without her final letter (not finished) around (eating) a different insect

21a    Back Eurovision’s first Scandinavians covering Queen song (8)
{SERENADE} – reverse the initial letter (first) of Eurovision and some Scandinavians around (covering) Elizabeth Regina (Queen) to get a song traditionally played under a lady’s window by a suitor – one of Beam’s “signature” clues!

23a    Dam fool freak! (6)
{WEIRDO} – a charade of a dam and a verb meaning to fool or cheat gives this freak

26a    Chose to get drunk putting work first (5)
{OPTED} – this verb meaning chose or selected is created by putting the drunk from How I Met Your Mother after a musical work – I’m not entirely happy with this explanation: let me know if you can do better by taking a word meaning drunk or imbibed and moving the musical work to the front – thanks to Gazza (by email) and Franco for that one

27a    Fantastic person finished basking in reflected glory? (9)
{NARCISSUS} – a cryptic definition of the beautiful youth from Greek Mythology who rejected the nymph Echo and fell in love with his own reflection in a pool

28a    To reign terribly following Victorian old ancestor (12)
{PRIMOGENITOR} – an anagram (terribly) of TO REIGN follows Victorian or prudish and O(ld) to get an ancestor, especially the earliest ancestor of a people


1d    In retrospect, Kate Moss illuminated, keeping svelte (7)
{LISSOME} – hidden (in) and reversed (retrospect) inside the clue is an adjective meaning svelte or lithe

2d    Flea, half fit, jumped (5)
{LEAPT} – a charade of the middle half of fLEa and a word meaning fit or suitable gives a word meaning jumped

3d    Vulgar crease, top to bottom say, on worker (9)
{INELEGANT} – this word meaning vulgar is derived from a crease, after moving the initial letter (top in a down clue) to the end (bottom) followed by the abbreviation of the Latin say/for example and finally a worker insect

4d    Following bend on river, source of Nile (4)
{UPON} – a word meaning following or over is a charade of a bend in a drain-trap, an Italian river and the initial letter (source) of Nile

5d    Dauntless popular detective with fresh upset (8)
{INTREPID} – this word meaning dauntless comes from a word meaning popular (2) followed by a detective and a word meaning fresh or impudent, both reversed

6d    Snare duck held by beak (5)
{NOOSE} – this snare comes from O (duck in cricket) inside a beak or snout

7d    Provided in ‘Hair’, first topless show (8)
{MANIFEST} – put a two-letter word meaning provided or “on condition that” inside the long hair on the back of the neck of a horse or lion then add (I)ST (first without the initial letter / topless) to get a word meaning to show or exhibit

8d    Some people taking plunge? (6)
{DIVERS} – this word meaning some or various is also people taking plunge

14d    Endure rubbish English taking part right to end (8)
{TOLERATE} – this verb meaning to endure or put up with is built up from a word meaning rubbish or junk followed by E(nglish) and then a part in a play is inserted (taking) after moving the initial R(ight) to the end

16d    McKellen perhaps, after Hamlet’s end, went mad (9)
{TRAGEDIAN} – start with the first name of the actor McKellen and put it after the final letter (end) of HamleT and a verb meaning went mad – the definition is an actor in a play like Hamlet

17d    Praise addict initially almost insensible from narcotic (8)
{LAUDANUM} – a charade of to praise, the initial letter of Addict and almost all of a word meaning insensible gives this opium-based narcotic

18d    Father on Sabbath reading holy books up (6)
{PASTOR} – the whole of this all-in-one clue defines the answer – to get there start with a shortened form of father, then S(abbath) and finaaly reverse (up) R (reading as in the three Rs) and a collection of holy books in the bible

20d    Godfather from Sopranos broadcast, not American (7)
{SPONSOR} – this godfather or patron is an anagram (broadcast) of SOPR(A)NOS without the A (not American)

22d    Stood up pinching girl’s bottom (5)
{NADIR} – take a word meaning stood, as in stood in an election, reverse it (up) and then insert (pinching) a shortened form of a girl’s name to get a word meaning the bottom or lowest point

24d    Others without answer took test again (5)
{RESAT} – put a word meaning the others around (without) A(nswer) to get a verb meaning took the test again

25d    Killjoy is intermittently sporting (4)
{PRIG} – this killjoy comes from the even letters (intermittently) of the final word in the clue

No silly phrases, no unfriendly grid, no yodaspeak – what a difference a week makes in Toughieland!

24 comments on “Toughie 639

  1. I really enjoyed this one. The top half went in considerably quicker than the bottom, but there was nothing that caused me too much trouble.
    Many thanks to Beam, and to BD for the notes.

    1. 26a puzzled me as well. I even considered DET reversed (drunk), as det (abbr for detur, latin for ‘let it be given’, as in a medical prescription) but I doubt it is that.

      1. Fell for that one hook, line & sinker. However, just to show that some of us read the review – the clue for 19a in the review is missing “not finished”.

  2. I always smile when I see Beam’s name at the top of the Toughie and there was twice as much smiling today as there is a splendid full page pic of an orangutan on a BA advert on the following page. The crossword made me smile too – has Ray ever done a crossword without a mention of Queen? No particular favourites today but thank you to Ray and to BD too, particularly for the explanation of 10a as I couldn’t quite work out how the animal got there. I don’t understand 26a either but I am in good company so that’s ok.

  3. Good start to Toughie week favourites for me were 9a 15a and 16d. Thanks to Beam and to Big Dave for the comments.

  4. Amusing as always. So So glad I hadn’t (as yet) missed anything obvious in 26a. Liked 16d &17d. Thanks to Beam and BD for review

  5. Many thanks to RayT alias Beam for a cracker of a puzzle, not overly difficult but a great sense of achievement when the last clue went in, thanks also to our glorious leader for the review.

    1. I think you’re right, I thought of and dismissed “toper” but forgot “toped”. D’oh and D’oh again!

  6. I thought 26ac Ted was the Kennedy notorious for Chappaquiddick.
    Perhaps Ray will pop in and let us know??

  7. I did the crosswords in reverse order when I saw it was a Beamer and I wasn’t disappointed. Thoroughly entertaining with some great moments. Favourite was 19 for the wordplay with 21 a close second. I suppose we will miss out on Thursday now! Thanks Ray – you have made my day.

  8. Thanks once again to BD for the explanations, and to all for your comments. 26a is ‘toped’ with ‘op’ moved to the front, but I like the Kennedy idea!


  9. I must confess to making a bit of a meal of this having put in OUTING at 11a and spending ages on 23a, 15a and 3d. The usual fine bawdy humour with Topless musicals and Girl’s bums being pinched.
    Thanks to RayT and to BD for the blog. Favourites included those and the &Lits.

  10. Thanks to Beam (alias Ray T) for a super puzzle, some clues made me laugh as much as Big Dave’s review, thanks to dave too.My closest yet to finishing a Toughie, needed hints for 15a & 7d. Favourites were 3,22d & 28a. Good wordplay in all.

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