Toughie 812

Toughie No 812 by Beam

A Skinful of Laughs

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

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

It was not until I finished writing the hints for this one that I realised there are no anagrams at all (I think that this is the second such puzzle from Beam/Ray T that I’ve reviewed). This is an enjoyable puzzle with a good sprinkling of laughs, but I am surprised at 17d which is not listed in Chambers.
We’d appreciate a comment from you and please record your assessment of the puzzle by clicking on one of the stars below.

Across Clues

1a  Sort of case for an analyst? (6)
{BASKET} – on one level this is a sort of case or container but when followed by ‘case’ it’s a slang term for someone unable to cope with life and thus in need of help from a shrink.

4a  Offended, heard, then stretch say, for pot (8)
{SAUCEPAN} – here we have two homophones; firstly what sounds like (heard) an informal adjective meaning offended or miffed and secondly a homophone (say) of a stretch or period. Put the two together to make a cooking pot. Clever surface detailing the sad saga of a drug user.

9a  Unholy excess of alcohol with ‘Lost Weekend’ (6)
{SINFUL} – start with a slang term for too much alcohol then remove (lost) the end letter of (wee)K to leave an adjective meaning unholy.

10a  Crowd hearing… (8)
{AUDIENCE} – double definition, the second an opportunity granted to have a private meeting and state one’s case with someone important.

11a  …comeback of majestic Queen formula (6)
{RECIPE} – put together an adjective meaning majestic or large-scale and the initials used by our Queen, then reverse it (comeback).

12a  Part of comet here, almost rarefied (8)
{ETHEREAL} – hidden (part of) in the clue is an adjective meaning rarefied or spiritual.

14a  Past socialist turned, Conservative goes on offensive (10)
{DEROGATORY} – the definition here is offensive, as an adjective. Join together an adverb meaning past or since and the colourful term used for a socialist, then reverse that (turned) and add (goes on) another word for Conservative.

18a  S-speaking, tense inside? (10)
{STUTTERING} – start with the S, add a synonym for speaking and insert (inside) T(ense). The definition is given by the whole clue.

22a  Winning display, fit to take gold (8)
{ADORABLE} – an adjective meaning winning (in the sense of charming or attractive) comes from an abbreviated word for a display of promotional copy and a synonym of fit or suited with the heraldic tincture of gold inserted.

23a  Urge to embrace lavish babe (6)
{HOTTIE} – this is a slang term for a sexually attractive young woman (babe). Put an archaic verb that normally means to hasten but can also mean to urge on round (to embrace) an abbreviation meaning lavish or excessive.

24a  Metal gun barrel’s opening around centre of sight (8)
{TUNGSTEN} – this is a steel-grey metal. A type of lightweight submachine-gun is preceded (opening) by a barrel used for beer or wine. That all goes around the central letter of (si)G(ht).

25a  Domestic water supplier backed up taking time (6)
{NATIVE} – to get an adjective meaning domestic or home-grown reverse (backed up) a French brand of mineral water and insert (taking) T(ime).

26a  Heartbroken miss upset in engagement (8)
{DESOLATE} – reverse (upset) a verb to miss or squander and insert it in a romantic engagement or assignation.

27a  ‘Dragon’s Den’ opening after cunning (6)
{SHREWD} – an assertive and intimidating woman (dragon) like Shakespeare’s Kate is followed by the opening letter of D(en) to make an adjective meaning cunning. The surface isn’t terribly smooth.

Down Clues

1d  Get on top and mount (8)
{BESTRIDE} – a verb meaning to get on or straddle is a charade of an adjective meaning top or finest and a mount (a means of transport rather than a mountain).

2d  Without Latin priest following benefice (8)
{SINECURE} – the latin preposition meaning without is followed by a parish priest from France (without the acute accent) to make a church benefice requiring little or no work.

3d  English Queen with attendant supporting one’s train (8)
{EQUIPAGE} – I’d not come across this word meaning a train or retinue before, but the wordplay is quite clear. E(nglish) and the two-letter abbreviation for queen are followed by a boy attendant who comes after (supporting, in a down clue) I (one).

5d  Doctor in explicit clip embracing nurse’s rear (10)
{ADULTERATE} – the definition here is doctor and it’s a verb. An adjective meaning explicit or X-rated is followed a word for clip or speed then the rear of (nurs)E is inserted (embraced).

6d  Dresses gutted carcass keeping pelt (6)
{CHIDES} – dresses means scolds or rebukes and we want an old-fashioned synonym for this. Remove all but the outside letters (gutted) of carcass and inside that (keeping) insert a pelt.

7d  Feebler, taking temperature, without his heart getting better (6)
{PUNTER} – start with a comparative meaning feebler or weedier and insert (taking) T(emperature) whilst removing (without) the heart of (h)I(s) to get a better.

8d  Annoy the French chasing miss (6)
{NEEDLE} – a French definite article comes after (chasing) a verb to miss or lack.

13d  Most solemn say, rests on top of tomb (10)
{STATELIEST} – string together a verb to say and a synonym for rests or reposes and follow all that (on, in a down clue) with the top letter of T(omb).

15d  Fallen monument? (8)
{CENOTAPH} – cryptic definition of a monument to the fallen.

16d  Serve up ridicule in trite empty harangue (8)
{DIATRIBE} – this is a harangue or verbal attack. Reverse (up) a verb to serve or work for, then insert a verb to ridicule or tease in the outer (empty) letters of T(rit)E.

17d  Indian sage reasoned without resistance eating little (8)
{AGUEWEED} – this was my last answer and I needed the assistance of Google because I’d never heard of Indian sage or the answer. That’s not terribly surprising but the fact that Chambers doesn’t list either is. They are apparently alternative names for boneset which is a  North American plant common in wet places and is a coarse, rough, hairy perennial about 0.6 to 1.8 metres (2 to 6 feet) high. A verb meaning reasoned or contended loses its R(esistance) and contains (eating) an adjective meaning little.

19d  Prepared line ready to play bass, perhaps (6)
{BAITED} – cryptic definition. Bass here is an example of a fish rather than a musical instrument.

20d  Starts to harass or unduly nag, disturbing somebody (6)
{HOUNDS} – an all-in-one where the answer comes from the starting letters of six consecutive words.

21d  Virginia, girl flipped and tied man (6)
{VASSAL} – the standard abbreviation for Virginia (the US state) is followed by a girl reversed (flipped) to make a person in a subservient relationship to a feudal superior (tied man).

It’s difficult to pick favourites but I’ll plump for 9a, 18a and 15d. How about you?



  1. crypticsue
    Posted July 25, 2012 at 1:20 pm | Permalink

    I found this one particularly tricky – I filled in corner by corner, NE, SW, SE, NW and needed help on one final clue from a fellow blogger. I would definitely give it 4* difficulty at least and possibly only 3* fun, partly because it took me so long and partly because I don’t like those 4 separate crosswords put togther type of puzzles. Thanks to Beam for the stretching and to gazza for the explanations. I liked the same ones as you and I also smiled quite a bit at 23a.

    • Bakesi
      Posted July 26, 2012 at 9:37 am | Permalink

      I thought this a’ real’ toughie but do wonder if clues like 17d are ‘fair’…without electronic help when I got home I would never have got this…what do regular toughie solvers think?

      • gazza
        Posted July 26, 2012 at 9:58 am | Permalink

        You tend to get the odd ‘new’ word in a Toughie. This is ok with me as long as the wordplay is pretty clear. My argument with 17d is that, having got what I thought was the right answer, I then looked it up in Chambers to verify it but it wasn’t there (which made me doubt if I had it right because Chambers is supposed to be the ‘bible’ for Telegraph setters).

      • Jezza
        Posted July 26, 2012 at 9:58 am | Permalink

        I thought it was perfectly fair. In this case, I had the second letter G, and the last letter D, and ‘reasoned without resistance’ was obviously A(R)GUED. A little bit of thought for a 3-letter synonym for ‘little’, put it all together, and there is the answer. I have never heard of the word before, but especially with toughie puzzles, I am prepared to be educated along the way.

        • Bakesi
          Posted July 26, 2012 at 12:28 pm | Permalink

          reasoned without r( resistance) could be easoned and L for little or some alternative would give 8 letters ;-) I accept that part of the role of the toughie is to educate but prefer it when the wordplay leads only to one conclusion particularly with ‘obscure ‘answers ( I think Gazza’s definition about being in Chambers is fair enough!)

  2. Jezza
    Posted July 25, 2012 at 1:29 pm | Permalink

    I had also not heard of the answer to 17d, but guessed it from a couple of checking letters and the wordplay.
    A little more than 3* difficulty for me, but definitely at least 4* for enjoyment. Last one in for me was 23a (I like the picture).
    Thanks to RayT, and to Gazza.

  3. Pegasus
    Posted July 25, 2012 at 1:47 pm | Permalink

    Quite tough this one I thought and despite having four letters in 17d couldn’t crack it, favourites were 1a 4a and 15d but the stand out for me was 9a thanks to Beam and to Gazza for the review.

  4. BigBoab
    Posted July 25, 2012 at 1:53 pm | Permalink

    Many thanks to Beam for a cracker of a crossword, I needed assistance for 17d but found myself wondering why I had thought so many others were really difficult when I looked back after a long and mind stretching morning. Thanks to Gazza for the picture and the hints. Favs. 9a and 15d.

  5. Kath
    Posted July 25, 2012 at 3:43 pm | Permalink

    Finished it!! :grin: but only if getting one wrong counts as finishing. I had “tottie” for 23a – no wonder I couldn’t justify the first and last two letters.
    I really enjoyed it although it’s taken me ages and needed lots of “perservation”. I’ve never heard of 17d but eventually guessed and then googled it – for a long time I was trying to think of some kind of Indian wise man.
    Very difficult to pick favourites so a few of them are 4, 9 and 18a and 6 and 19d. Lots of Queens today!
    With thanks to Beam and Gazza.

    • Harport
      Posted July 25, 2012 at 3:54 pm | Permalink

      I also had ‘tottie’ for 23a but realised it had to be wrong.

      • Kath
        Posted July 25, 2012 at 5:08 pm | Permalink

        I thought it was almost certainly wrong too but have never heard of a “hottie” (except as meaning a hot water bottle!!)

        • crypticsue
          Posted July 25, 2012 at 5:23 pm | Permalink

          I too was looking forward to seeing how gazza might illustrate a hot water bottle, but then I suppose some of the ‘gentlemen’ might think he had !! :D

          • gazza
            Posted July 25, 2012 at 6:04 pm | Permalink

            I realise my error now and have put up a new pic.

            • BigBoab
              Posted July 25, 2012 at 7:22 pm | Permalink

              As we say up here ” pure dead brilliant “

          • Kath
            Posted July 25, 2012 at 10:28 pm | Permalink

            Just after I wrote my last comment I did rather wonder if it might go down in my list of things that I wish I hadn’t said! :grin:

    • gazza
      Posted July 25, 2012 at 4:06 pm | Permalink

      Well done, Kath. You shouldn’t be worried about tackling any Toughie now (well, perhaps Elgar, but we’re all worried by him). :D

      • Kath
        Posted July 25, 2012 at 5:05 pm | Permalink

        Thanks for encouragement, gazza. Couldn’t resist having a go at this one – I love his crosswords. Other Toughies – who knows? Elgar – NEVER! :smile:

        • RayT
          Posted July 25, 2012 at 5:55 pm | Permalink

          Yes, very well done Kath! As Gazza says, most Toughies should hold no fear for you now.


          • Kath
            Posted July 25, 2012 at 10:30 pm | Permalink

            Thank you.

        • BigBoab
          Posted July 25, 2012 at 7:26 pm | Permalink

          Really well done Kath, this was by no means one the simpler toughies. (Hope that doesn’t sound patronising, I’m only just coming to grips with toughies myself )

          • Kath
            Posted July 25, 2012 at 10:25 pm | Permalink

            Thanks – absolutely not patronising – no-one “here” ever is – just very encouraging! :smile: to all of you!

            • pommers
              Posted July 25, 2012 at 11:53 pm | Permalink

              Well done from me too! Toughies are a bit of a lottery and I only started doing them about a year ago. Recently I set myself the task of catching up on all the one’s I’ve missed. They’re all available on the website and I’m now up to No 41 and I’ve been very surprised at the variation in difficulty – apart from the Elgars have been mindbending! Also no help from BD until I get up to No 86!
              Give them a go – they aren’t to be frightened of!

  6. RayT
    Posted July 25, 2012 at 5:46 pm | Permalink

    Thank you to Gazza for his analysis, and to all for your comments.


    • pommers
      Posted July 25, 2012 at 11:37 pm | Permalink

      Thanks for the puzzle Ray. Not had so much fun with my clothes on for a fair while! Actually, I was only wearing a pair of swimming trunks when I solved it :grin:

  7. andy
    Posted July 25, 2012 at 8:06 pm | Permalink

    sinful indeed, loved it, thanks Ray/ Beam and Gazza, and google for the same clue as most, this is shaping up to be quite a week

    • Posted July 25, 2012 at 8:16 pm | Permalink

      Elkamere tomorrow and Notabilis Friday (he gave the game away on facebook!).

      • andy
        Posted July 25, 2012 at 8:30 pm | Permalink

        Yes, it is going to be a good week then, hurrah for that.

  8. pommers
    Posted July 25, 2012 at 8:53 pm | Permalink

    A great puzzle, not much else to say!

    9a brilliant! :lol:

    Thanks to Ray and Gazza.

  9. Heno
    Posted July 25, 2012 at 10:37 pm | Permalink

    Thanks to Beam & Gazza, well done to Kath. I only managed to get 21d on the first read through. May have another look tomorrow .

    • Heno
      Posted July 27, 2012 at 10:23 am | Permalink

      Well, 2 days later, I managed to get 7 answers before resorting to the hints. I couldn’t even get most from the hints, had to look up 12. Still don’t understand 4a. Totally beyond me.

      • gazza
        Posted July 27, 2012 at 10:28 am | Permalink

        4a is homophones of SORE (offended) and SPAN (stretch).