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Toughie 959

Toughie No 959 by Beam

Worst for Verse?

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BD Rating – Difficulty **Enjoyment ****

I don’t think that there’s a vast difference in difficulty between Beam’s Toughies and the back-page puzzles of his alter ego Ray T. I thought that this one was fairly gentle but entertaining, with some really good clues (and one excellent one at 11a).
Do leave a comment giving your views and please take the time to click on one of the stars below to rate the enjoyment factor.

Across Clues

1a  Head for cover? On the contrary (11)
{MORTARBOARD} – … so it must be a cover for the head (in the academic world).

10a  Queen’s bishop accepting orthodox opening that’s wrong (5)
{ERROR} – the identifier used by our Queen followed by the abbreviation for the title awarded to a bishop with the opening letter of O(rthodox) inserted.

11a  Horrific writer with shocking thing about Tay originally (9)
{POETASTER} – the answer means someone who writes inferior poetry and this is an all-in-one with the whole clue referring to that great Scottish writer of doggerel, William McGonagall, whose most famous work dealt with the Tay Bridge disaster of 1879. Start with an American writer of macabre stories and add a shocking weapon used by the police containing the original letter of T(ay).

Beautiful Railway Bridge of the Silv’ry Tay!
Alas! I am very sorry to say
That ninety lives have been taken away
On the last Sabbath day of 1879,
Which will be remember’d for a very long time

(… and on in similar vein for seven more verses.)

12a  Tarnish can, in devices, start to spoil (9)
{RUSTINESS} – insert a can in devices or ploys and finish with the starting letter of S(poil).

13a  Circumference not grand for male amusement (5)
{MIRTH} – start with a word for circumference (especially round the waist) and swap the G(rand) for M(ale).

14a  ‘Citizen Kane’ with Welles finally in character (6)
{HEARST} – what we want is the surname of the newspaper publisher who was the real ‘Citizen Kane’ portrayed by Orson Welles in his classic film. Insert the final letter of (Welle)S in a synonym for character or resolution.

16a  Footballers’ partners embracing team leader upset birds (8)
{WAGTAILS} – put the acronym coined for the wives and girlfriends of England footballers round the leading letter of T(eam) and a verb meaning to upset or distress.

18a  Sleuth ace retained by Bill to find wallet (8)
{NOTECASE} – bill is falsely-capitalised here – what we want is another word for bill or beak. Inside that (retained) go an abbreviation for detective and A(ce).

20a  Person eliciting great interest? (6)
{USURER} – a gentle cryptic definition.

23a  ‘Below‘ isn’t formal, oddly (5)
{INFRA} – the odd letters of two words in the clue.

24a  Last word about sound, time for ‘Satisfaction‘ (9)
{ATONEMENT} – the last word in a prayer goes around a sound or timbre, then we finish with T(ime).

ARVE Error: need id and provider

26a  Restricted diet instead missing even elements (9)
{LOCALISED} – a description given by food and drink manufacturers to their ‘diet’ products (2-3) is followed by the odd letters of instead.

27a  The compiler had a house somewhere in the USA (5)
{IDAHO} – the contracted form of ‘the compiler had’ put into the first person is followed by A (from the clue) and the abbreviation of house.

28a  Raise one’s hand initially after small whip’s withdrawn (11)
{STANDOFFISH} – a verb meaning to raise (a hat, normally in greeting), I (one), ‘S and the initial letter of H(and) all go after S(mall) and a verb meaning to whip or beat.

Down Clues

2d  Savages consequently brought up on Sabbath (5)
{OGRES} – reverse (brought up) an adverb, from latin, meaning consequently or therefore and follow this with S(abbath).

3d  Spadeful overturned burying pot plants (7)
{TURNIPS} – I tend to think of plants as being flowers and shrubs but of course they can be anything that’s planted including root vegetables. Reverse (overturned) a word for a spadeful or the depth of earth that can be penetrated by a spade then insert (burying) a type of pot or vase.

4d  Having taken drugs to get muscular (6)
{RIPPED} – double definition – an informal adjective which can mean either a) high on drugs or b) having a well-defined musculature. I wasn’t aware of this second meaning and neither, apparently, are the editors of the BRB.

5d  Dover’s easily engulfing Calais perhaps (8)
{OVERSEAS} – hidden (engulfing) in the clue.

6d  Let back into American university supporting study (7)
{READMIT} – the abbreviation for a university in New England which is famous for scientific and technical research follows (supporting, in a down clue) a verb meaning to study at university.

7d  About capable of grasping, grasping bottle opener? Disgraceful! (13)
{REPREHENSIBLE} – a preposition meaning about or concerning is followed by an adjective meaning capable of grasping which contains (grasping) the opening letter of B(ottle).

8d  Go off in French city turning more passionate (8)
{STORMIER} – a verb meaning to go off or putrefy goes inside a city famous for its cathedral where the kings of France were traditionally crowned, then the whole lot is reversed (turning).

9d  Scoring over limit around box, right (13)
{ORCHESTRATION} – the abbreviation for an over in cricket and a limit or quota go around a large box and R(ight).

15d  Trickery of Smart Alec if I trade up (8)
{ARTIFICE} – hidden (of) and reversed (up) in the clue. ‘Smart’ seems to be there just for the surface reading.

17d  Raised Japanese group almost employing special force ninja (8)
{ASSASSIN} – a Japanese car-maker without its final letter (almost) is reversed (raised) and placed around (employing, in the sense of giving occupation to) the most famous of our special forces regiments.

19d  Circular form produced by ‘Little Boy’? (7)
{CHAPLET} – double definition, the second cryptic. Something circular to go on the head could cryptically be a little boy or small bloke.

21d  Lawman shoots up fellow grabbing hostage’s head (7)
{SHERIFF} – reverse (up) a verb meaning shoots, then add F(ellow) and insert the first letter (head) of H(ostage).

22d  Reportedly, which people perform witchcraft? (6)
{HOODOO} – a double homophone (reportedly) – firstly of a pronoun meaning which people and secondly of a verb to perform or undertake.

25d  Tests intimacy in the morning, head to toe (5)
{EXAMS} – a word meaning intimacy or nooky is followed by the abbreviation for in the morning, then the first letter is moved to the end (head to toe, in a down clue). Very amusing – it’s a pity that clue numbers don’t go as high as 69.

I liked 14a and loved 25d but I reckon that the stand-out clue today was 11a. Do you agree or disagree?


20 comments on “Toughie 959

  1. Whether it’s Ray T or Beam, I always enjoy the puzzles.

    I had FANTAILS for 16a – FA ( Footballers) + NS (partners) with the rest of the wordplay the same – and was surprised when it was rejected.

  2. A very enjoyable Beam as usual, with just the right amount of toughness for someone suffering from the office flu lurgy. No-one will be surprised to learn that I both enjoyed Gazza’s review and have the same favourite clues as him.

  3. Excellent fare, but then again it is my favourite setter. Bit more than a 2 for me. Many thanks to Beam and Gazza.

  4. Much more difficult than a RayT for me. I dread to think of the response from the Commentariat if this had been on the back-page!

    I had Fantails as well – maybe the apostrophe disqualifies it.

    Favourite: 5d – Very well hidden! (Très bien caché!)

  5. Really enjoyed this one and not an anagram in sight, favourites were 1a 8d 11a and 14a thanks to Beam and to Gazza for the usual entertaining review.

    1. I meant to mention that my anagram counter was stuck on zero but then forgot all about it.

  6. I didn’t bother with the back page when i saw the Toughie was a beamer. Lots of brilliant clues as usual with 11 best of all. Also liked 9 13 14 16 19 and 25. 15 was last in as is usual with RayT as he hides these words so well. Now to the backie, or wherever it is.

  7. Setter here, popping in early as I won’t be around later. Many thanks to Gazza for the analysis and to all who commented.


  8. The fantail is a very common (and much loved) bird here with the mellifluous Maori name of Piwakawaka, so of course this was the answer we had for 16a too. Another good fun puzzle.
    Thanks Beam and Gazza.

  9. No time for this today due to work commitments and an excellent Philip K Dick Novel on the train – I avoided the hints but will save this for later in the week..

  10. Thank you Beam/RayT, I really enjoyed your Toughie today. For varying reasons It’s been one of those days when it’s been necessary to pick the paper up and put it down again many times, sometimes losing concentration along the way, but finish it I did earlier this evening and without recourse to other aids beyond the family dictionary and a battered old ‘Franklin’. I personally didn’t care much for 4 down, but more by good luck than judgement I correctly guessed the answer. I have to say that I particularly liked clues 5 down, 7 down and 25 down though. Some say this Toughie was “fairly gentle”, some say it was “hardly tough” – for me it was a pleasure on a day that hasn’t been especially good

  11. I seem to be in a minority of one today because I found this rather difficult. I’m putting it down to the fact that I had a very late start (work does get in the way of fun) and I’m usually sharper in the early hours. That or I was just plain dense, which is more the honest answer. Managed most of the right-hand side and 7D, then came to a grinding halt. I did, however get 16A fairly quickly! I needed hints badly, and a couple of flat-out answers. A new word for in 11A, and for 18A don’t think I’ve ever heard a wallet referred to as that before. I had heard of the second definition for 4D. Perhaps it’s more common in America.

    Well, can’t win ’em all. I’m bowed but not broken. I’ll be back tomorrow (unless it’s and Elgar. I know my limitations). Thanks to the setter and to Gazza for the lifelines.

    1. Its Micawber tomorrow which should be both fun and user-friendly if past examples of his work are anything to go by.

      1. It was your comments on the cryptic thread that encouraged me to have a go at the toughies and I do thank you. I like to be stretched and I don’t mind falling short because I learn something new almost every day. And I’ve met (well, kind of met) some lovely people!

  12. I have a nasty feeling that, for me, the difference between a Ray T and a Beam is that one is on the back page (sometimes) and I know that I can do them and the other is in the middle of the paper and called a Toughie and I know that I can’t do them.
    I did a fair bit of this and really enjoyed what I managed and then came running for help.
    Of the ones that I could do on my own I really liked 13a and 3, 7, 15 and finally ( and my favourite) 25d.
    With thanks to Beam and gazza.

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