Toughie 717 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 717

Toughie No 717 by Beam

Not one for the anagram lovers

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

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

After a slow start I made steady progress without ever stalling. I found the difficulty level to be slightly above average. I think the difficulty was enhanced by Beam’s policy of not including multi-word answers and by the complete absence of anagrams.

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    Describing paragraph or sentence but not word? (12)
{POLYSYLLABIC} A word that describes the word ‘paragraph’ and the word ‘sentence’ but not the word ‘word’

8a    Following Italy, politician behind European standstill (7)
{IMPASSE} I (Italy) + a politician + behind (backside, especially in America) + E (European) = standstill

9a    Affair catching former lover showing off? (7)
{FLEXING} An affair (sexual relationship) goes round a former lover to give ‘showing off’ (muscles?)

11a    Thick Conservative governed, taking too much … (7)
{CLOTTED} Thick (as cream sometimes is) = C (Conservative) + ‘governed’ round a three-letter abbreviation denoting ‘too much’

12a    … rubbish supporter backed, left, right and centre (7)
{RHUBARB} Rubbish = a reversal of supporter (for parts of a lady’s anatomy) to the left of which occurs R (right) and a word meaning ‘centre’

13a    Tree feller facing work (5)
{MANGO} A tropical tree = a feller (male person) + ‘to work’

14a    Stunner’s nod holding male, small ‘down there’ (9)
{BOMBSHELL} Something or somebody that may stun you = ‘nod round M (male) + S (small) + the underworld (‘down there’)

16a    Extent of novel heroine’s embrace for peasant, naked initially (9)
{THICKNESS} Extent = a Thomas Hardy heroine round a peasant + N (first letter of naked)

19a    Education after schoolboy crammed (5)
{LADED} ED (education) follows a boy to give ‘crammed’

21a    They may lift underwear, topless (7)
{NICKERS} People who lift (thieve) = an item of women’s underwear with the first letter removed

23a    Fudging Cameron turned current Government leader (7)
{EVADING} ‘Fudging’ = a reversal of a shortened form of Cameron’s first name + current + G (first letter of Government)

24a    Country’s trouble in run on currency (7)
{ECUADOR} A South American country = trouble inside a former unit of currency in Europe + R (run)

25a    Astronomer seeing one trail returning by constellation (7)
{GALILEO} One of the most famous astronomers ever = a reversal of I (one) + ‘to trail’ followed by a constellation (one in the zodiac)

26a    It’s cooler in Alaska (12)
{REFRIGERATOR} The answer is a device for keeping things cool, especially food: ‘in Alaska’ indicates that this is an American usage of a cooler


1d    Filth contains over politically correct cinema fare? (7)
{POPCORN} Filth (books, magazines, films, etc.) goes round O (over) PC (politically correct) to give something you might eat in the cinema

2d    Battle so thoroughly engulfing foreign kingdom (7)
{LESOTHO} An African country is hidden in BattLE SO THOroughly

3d    Like notes ready to be blown? (9)
{SPENDABLE} A cryptic definition describing a property of banknotes that can be used to buy things

4d    Fellow in stand runs, one never getting out (5)
{LIFER} F (Fellow} inside ‘stand’ + R (runs) = a prisoner with no prospect of being released

5d    Hail, bulletin reported, approaches (7)
{AVENUES} ‘Hail!’ + a homophone of bulletin = approaches to country houses usually bordered by trees

6d    Single partner accepting sex to reproduce (7)
{IMITATE} I (Single) + a partner round sex = ‘to reproduce (copy)’

7d    Oval building holding Mass beat church and state (12)
{CIRCUMSTANCE} An oval building for public entertainments in ancient Rome contains M (Mass). This is followed by ‘to beat’ + CE (church) to give ‘state’

10d    Stuffed say, in order to eat old tripe (12)
{GOBBLEDEGOOK} Stuffed (your face with food) + EG (say) + ‘in order’ (2) round O (old) gives tripe (nonsense)

15d    Bearer of litter leading English Queen (9)
{MESSENGER} A bearer (of news, etc.) = litter (a state of confusion and untidiness) + an abbreviation for English (3) + the Queen (2)

17d    Contain daughter wearing fashionable tip (7)
{INCLUDE} ‘To contain’ = D (daughter) inside ‘fashionable’ + a tip (like what you’re trying to solve)

18d    He sounds desperate to make some bread (7)
{KNEADER} A homophone of someone who is desperate = someone engaged in part of the bread-making process

19d    Part of plane for flier (7)
{LEAFLET} 2 meanings: part of a plane tree/flier (promotional item)

20d    Steer left in the German car (7)
{DAIMLER} ‘To steer’ + L (left) inside a German word for ‘the’ gives a motor manufacturer

22d    Puritan supporting Society scion (5)
{SPRIG} A Puritan comes after S (Society) to give a scion

A nice challenge

24 comments on “Toughie 717

  1. Good quality fare on offer today favourites 1d 10d 14a and 21a thanks to Beam and to Bufo for the comments.

  2. As above. It seemed tougher than it turned out to be.
    Some outstanding clues and many double entendres of which 21ac was the best.
    Didn’t much care for 19ac but that was a minor gripe.
    Thanks to Beam for the challenge and to Bufo for the above.

  3. Slow and steady for me too. I appear to have left the paper on my desk at work so can’t remember what I marked as a favourite. Great fun thank you Beam and thanks to Bufo too.

  4. This is the furthest that I’ve ever got with ANY toughie, let alone a Beam, so feeling fairly smug! I ended up needing the hints for 4d (VERY stupid of me to miss that), and 7d. I didn’t find this any more difficult than the crossword on the back page. I almost put “Penitentiary” for 26a – now that could have made things a bit trickier – luckily I wasn’t sure enough to put it in! I’ve enjoyed this one very much – far too many wonderful clues to write them all down so will just say that my two best ones were 21a and 10d. With thanks to Beam and Bufo.

    1. Hi Kath and well done!

      I did put penitentiary in but one of the advantages of solving on-screen is that you can take them out again :grin:

      1. Thanks – one of the advantages of solving with either a pencil or a biro that has a rubber on the end is that I can take them out again too.

    2. Yes i thought Penetentiary was a shoe in for 26A but held back. I really do feel some of the answers these days are brow furrowers – Nickers for example! I ask you.

      I used to love scrabble as a kid but dumped it when the bulgarian cooking vessel experts and 2 letter nonsense came in as an adult player. I’m all for extending my vocabulary but a lot of this is now beyond the rules and i think this is becoming true of crosswords.

      I blame the Americans – but then I am married to one so perhaps I shouldn’t comment.

      1. I thought that “nickers” was a brilliant clue – Ray T (or, in this case, Beam) at his best!! I love Scrabble but my husband won’t play it with me – my vocabulary is greater than his so I win!! Daughters will play but they play with totally different rules.

        1. 21a My favourite too. You can do these toughies Kath, with a bit of persevation. I put my stupid hat on in that 11a took me most of the day to parse, the answer was bleeding obvious but could I see it. even with the checking letters.
          I blame the snow, which as dogs partook of final daily ablutions I see is getting heavier. Deep joy

          1. I COULDN’T parse 11a but it seemed to fit!! Needed the hint to explain why …! I feel quite pleased to have got as far as I did with this one but I couldn’t NOT have a try – he is SO much my favourite setter. Haven’t taken collie for last night wander yet – it’s snowing hard – think she might have to have a wander up the garden ….

    3. I did put Penitentiary – and it did make things quite tricky for me for a while! :)

      Thanks to Beam for an excellent puzzle, and to Bufo for the notes.

    4. So glad that I wasn’t the only one …. but even gladder (?more glad) that I WAS the only one to think about it but not put it in.

    1. Bit late in responding RayT/Beam. 10d my mates in pub got the answer, but when asked how to clue the word, lots of ahems, well.a rainforest later, not bettered. I doff my cap

      1. 10d was a great clue! :smile: Well, I thought so anyway! Did have a certain amount of difficulty in explaining it to my husband!

  5. Something has just occurred to me. I don’t know if BD reads everything that is written everywhere even if he is not doing the hints but, as “head honcho”, he probably does, so here goes! I wonder if it occurs to him that he is producing a generation of solvers even more devious than the setters!! 26a being what I’m thinking of!! This is such a great blog!

  6. Superb crossword but only just in the toughie range, thanks to Beam and to Bufo for the hints/review.

  7. Another grind with the help of Chambers wordfinder. Still puzzled by 21a. Is a snicker a lifting cricket delivery which topless gives nicker which is an item of underwear or a thief. otherwise what does ‘topless’ refer to.

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