Toughie 1184

Toughie No 1184 by Beam

A puzzle of two halves

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

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

This was definitely a puzzle of two halves for me. The left-hand side went in fairly quickly (no more than 2* difficulty) but I made very heavy weather of the right-hand side (about 5* difficulty). Even when I’d finally filled in the grid it took a long time to unravel the last 3 or 4 bits of wordplay

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1a    Customer‘s termination of cover given by underwriter? (10)
{SUBSCRIBER} The last letter (termination) of coveR follows a prefix denoting ‘under’ and a writer

6a    Poses and exercises topless (4)
{ASKS} Poses (a question) = exercises (pieces of work) with the first letter removed

9a    Victims of leisurewear? (10)
{CASUALTIES} When split (7,4) it becomes informal items of neckwear

10a    Romance without its leading character would produce potboiler? (4)
{SAGA} Remove the first letter from this prose narrative (or romance) and you get the name of a large stove on which you might boil a pot

12a    Dry spot one found on mouth (4)
{GOBI} The name of a desert = I (one) after a mouth

13a    Flipping fantastic admitting large compiler’s ugly (9)
{REPULSIVE} A reversal (flipping) of ‘fantastic’ round L (large) + ‘compiler has’

15a    More disgusting yob? Best clean beard occasionally (8)
{OBSCENER} Alternate letters (occasionally) of yOb BeSt ClEaN bEaRd

16a    Foreign capital‘s too much almost, on holiday (6)
{OTTAWA} The capital of a Commonwealth country = ‘too much’ (3) + ‘on holiday’ (4) with the last letter removed

18a    City-state‘s scrap in Athens ends upset (6)
{SPARTA} A city-state in ancient Greece = a scrap inside the first and last letters of AthenS reversed

20a    Roughly, heartless judge gives rollicking (8)
{CAREFREE} An abbreviation denoting ‘roughly’ + a judge (e.g. at a football match) with the middle letter removed

23a    Convinces Santa to wrap non-stop (9)

24a    Terribly left-wing, practically resentful (4)
{SORE} Terribly (2) + left-wing (3) with the last letter removed

26a    Beginnings of fat left after bingeing (4)
{FLAB} Initial letters of Fat Left After Bingeing

27a    Avid temptation returns gripped by smart auction (10)
{INSATIABLE} A reversal of temptation (4) inside smart (2) and auction (4)

28a    Lake of Locarno borders Switzerland (4)
{LOCH} The first and last letters of LocarnO + the IVR for Switzerland

29a    Almost less than inevitable, accepting England’s not losing (10)
{UNDEFEATED} ‘Less than’ with the last letter removed + ‘inevitable (destined)’ round E (England)


1d    Sound of instrument provided by bags (4)
{SACS} A homophone of the abbreviated name of a wind instrument played by Lisa Simpson

2d    Men in brig oddly on ship holding dance (7)
{BISHOPS} (Chess)men = the odd-positioned letters of BrIg + an abbreviation for (steam)ship round a dance

3d    Musician‘s cymbal edges performer gripping single snare (12)
{CLARINETTIST} The first and last letters (edges) of CymbaL + a performer round I (single) and a snare

4d    Pinter needed to trap someone in ‘The Basement’? (8)

5d    It’s free, with no boundaries, it’s free (6)
{EXEMPT} Put together a 3-letter word for ‘it’ (i.e. carnal knowledge) and a 5-letter word for ‘free’ (or unoccupied) and then remove the first and last letters (boundaries)

7d    Energy of bird, second to last virtually (7)
{STAMINA} An Asian bird that can be taught to imitate human speech goes after (is second to) a word meaning ‘to last’ with the last letter removed (virtually all of it)

8d    Looking guilty of fraud, cancelled missing a fine (10)
{SHAMEFACED} A fraud (counterfeit or pretence) + ‘cancelled’ with one occurrence of the letter F (fine) removed

11d    Chatterer thrashes with black bird outside (12)
{BLATHERSKITE} A dialect word for a garrulous talker of nonsense = an informal word for ‘thrashes’ inside B (black) and a long-tailed bird of prey

14d    Devout argue over what Noah had in Ark? (10)
{WORSHIPFUL} A reversal of ‘to argue’ + what Noah had in Ark (and it was very crowded on board)

17d    Cost of transportation to tour Hannibal’s original city (8)
{CARTHAGE} The cost of transporting something in a horse-drawn vehicle goes round H (first letter of Hannibal) to give the ancient city that was home to Hannibal

19d    Obsolete, mysterious covert agency turns up (7)
{ARCHAIC} ‘Mysterious’ + a reversal of a ‘covert’ agency of the US Government

21d    Following recipe, get chewed food (7)
{RAREBIT} R (recipe) + ‘get chewed’ (3,3) = melted cheese on hot toast

22d    Works working in new mortar (6)
{CANNON} Works (e.g. the recognised genuine works of any author) round N (new) = mortar (artillery)

25d    Sack around noon getting elbow (4)
{BEND} Sack (where you sleep) round N (noon)

Hard work but enjoyable


  1. crypticsue
    Posted May 8, 2014 at 2:04 pm | Permalink

    I made very heavy weather of all of it apart from the SW corner. I spent longer trying to solve this than any other crossword for a very long time so I needed a lie down before returning to work out the enjoyment factor . If there was such a thing, I’d give 7* difficulty and 4* fun. My favourite clue was 17d.

    Thanks to Beam and Bufo.

  2. Jezza
    Posted May 8, 2014 at 2:11 pm | Permalink

    Blimey.. that was tough! (well it was for me, anyway). I got there in the end, and enjoyed every devious bit of it.
    Many thanks to Beam, and to Bufo for the review.

  3. Pegasus
    Posted May 8, 2014 at 2:35 pm | Permalink

    Phew, finally got there but it took three sittings, favourites were 9a 11d and 20a thanks to Beam and to Bufo for the explanations.

  4. BigBoab
    Posted May 8, 2014 at 3:05 pm | Permalink

    Pure dead brilliant!!! Many thanks to Beam and to Bufo for a superb review.

  5. gazza
    Posted May 8, 2014 at 4:19 pm | Permalink

    Sparks tomorrow.

  6. andy
    Posted May 8, 2014 at 7:32 pm | Permalink

    Wow am so relieved to read the comments, this pushed me to my limits and then some, needed Bufos hints to confirm quite a few entries on the right hand side. All perfectly fair, thank you Bufo and Beam

  7. halcyon
    Posted May 8, 2014 at 7:36 pm | Permalink

    I enjoyed this and finished it but needed Bufo’s explanations for 5d, 7d and 22d. I am still at a loss to understand 22d. How does the N get into “works” to make “mortar? Working in???

    Was particularly amused by 20a, 23a and 14d.
    Many thanks to Beam and Bufo.

    • andy
      Posted May 8, 2014 at 8:14 pm | Permalink

      canon as in a collection of writings (works) , round N (new) = mortar which is a short-barrelled artillery gun. Bufo and others will correct me no doubt but that was my take on it

      • halcyon
        Posted May 8, 2014 at 11:15 pm | Permalink

        Thanks Andy, but I was OK with the fodder [works and mortar] but baffled by the operator “working in”. I now see working in as in making pastry [or mortar!] ie intermixing [thanks to the BRB]

        • Sheenypops
          Posted May 14, 2014 at 9:35 am | Permalink

          Hi Guys, I save up my crosswords and often do them weeks after the event so if no one reads this I’ll understand (you’ll all be too busy on today’s, which I will do in a month or so!).
          Despite doing the Telegraph crossword for nearly 5 decades I often have to check in with Big Dave, and enjoy the hints, explanations and comments but only post when I have a different take on an answer, so here goes on 22 down. “Works” = can (as in “is able to” : it works= it can) + “working” = on, “in” (put in) “new” = n giving cannon as the answer. Accept that Beam’s way is the right way but thought it worth a post.

  8. RayT
    Posted May 8, 2014 at 7:45 pm | Permalink

    Many thanks to Bufo for the analysis, and to everybody else for your comments.


  9. 2Kiwis
    Posted May 8, 2014 at 8:13 pm | Permalink

    Glad to see that we are not the only ones who found this tricky. It took us quite some time and we did resort to a bit of electronic assistance for the last few. We are still amazed that all this cleverness was achieved within the 8 word clue limit and only single word answers. Masterful! A significant challenge for us but enjoyable too.
    Thanks Beam and Bufo.

  10. Expat Chris
    Posted May 8, 2014 at 9:21 pm | Permalink

    Glad to see it’s not just me. Roughly 2/3 complete and still stubbornly struggling so avoiding the hints for now.

  11. neveracrossword
    Posted May 8, 2014 at 9:34 pm | Permalink

    Finished, with just a little help from Bufo. Now for a lie down. Thx to all.

  12. Expat Chris
    Posted May 9, 2014 at 4:59 am | Permalink

    Well, I had to admit defeat with 8 clues unsolved and 6A totally wrong. I had sits…sit-ups for exercises without the up (top) .

    Thank you to Beam ( though your brother is much more approachable) , and massive thanks to Bufo for the review and hints.