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Toughie 1271

Toughie No 1271 by Beam

Here’s Another Nice Mess

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

I thought that this was on the easyish side for a Beam puzzle and my only hold-ups were in the NW corner. The Queen appears to have gone walkabout but, that apart, all his usual characteristics are on show including a shortage of anagrams and several bits of amusing innuendo.

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.

Across Clues

7a Willing English before Lord’s in duck, practically (8)
DESIROUS – the straightforward parsing of this has E(nglish) preceding a 3-letter word for lord inside a verb to duck or plunge into water without its final letter (practically). However I can’t see how sir equates to lord so I wondered if we were meant to use a 4-letter word for lord with the final E moved to the front (English before) but that doesn’t really work either. I spent more time thinking about this clue than the rest of the puzzle put together and I’m not keen on it, not least because the cricket-related surface doesn’t mean anything.

9a Just Oliver eating last of gruel (6)
HARDLY – the surname of Oliver (not the gruel-eating orphan but the comic actor) contains the last letter of gruel.

10a Boil pan on top of stove (4)
SPOT – a pan follows the top letter of stove.

11a Going red I entertained, accepting part (10)
INGREDIENT – hidden (accepting) in the clue.

12a Scattered shot, rifle and weapon emptied (6)
STREWN – three words in the clue are gutted.

14a Eager bird flipped boyfriend head to toe (8)
ANIMATED – reverse (flipped) one of the spellings of a bird that can be taught to imitate human speech then add a boyfriend (or girlfriend) with the initial letter moved to the end.

15a Vulgarly cheap restaurant’s carrying hard ribs (6)
CHAFFS – vulgarly here means in the speech of common people so we want a slang term for a cheap restaurant or greasy spoon plus the ‘S. Finally we have to insert (carrying) the abbreviation for hard.

17a Little one‘s quiet, softly gripping apron (6)
SHRIMP – an exhortation to be quiet and the musical abbreviation for softly contain an apron or border.

20a Takes off small pieces with half-naked back (8)
UNSTRAPS – string together S(mall), a word for pieces or bits and the first half of an adjective meaning naked, then reverse it all.

22a Heavy vehicle hit side of road, missing tail-end (6)
TANKER – a charade of a verb to hit or beat and the side of the road without its final B.

23a Consort with fellow and bird in lift (10)
FRATERNISE – start with the abbreviation for a fellow then insert a seabird in a verb to lift.

24a Starts to criminally operate nefarious sting (4)
CONS – an all-in-one clue requiring us to use the starting letters of four words. The Pedants’ Club won’t like the wording of the clue!

25a Flush endless swirl in unfinished burst (6)
REDDEN – insert a swirl or circular movement without its final letter inside an adjective meaning burst or torn, also without its final letter.

26a Insignificant affair on short voyage (8)
TRIFLING – an affair or sexual relationship follows a voyage without its last letter (short).

Down Clues

1d Dictatorial of the French head, revolting in charge (8)
DESPOTIC – string together the French for ‘of the’ (plural), the reversal (revolting) of a word meaning head or summit and the abbreviation for in charge.

2d Food fixed up with insides upset (4)
DIET – reverse (up) a verb meaning fixed or fastened and switch round the inner letters.

3d It’s unacceptable to hold single belief (6)
NOTION – unacceptable (3,2) with the Roman numeral for one or single inserted.

4d Ashamed, and second, rather humble? (8)
SHEEPISH – S(econd) followed by a cryptic description of an ‘umble Dickens character.

ARVE Error: need id and provider

5d Pique irregular case with sex in short supply (10)
IRRITATION – the outer letters (case) of irregular are followed by a 2-letter informal word for sex inside a short supply or fixed allowance.

6d Drop exercise taking breather (6)
PLUNGE – the abbreviation for physical exercise contains (taking) one of our two breathers.

8d Glorious return of US soldiers nearly odds on (6)
SIGNAL – the reversal (return) of the abbreviation for US ordinary soldiers followed by the odd letters of nearly. I presume that ‘on’ here means ‘following’.

13d Care for former wife feeling cold, not tense (10)
EXACTITUDE – the definition means care in the sense of punctiliousness. The two-letter informal word for a former spouse is followed by a feeling or way of thinking with the first T(ense) replaced by C(old). Since there are three Ts in the word for feeling some indication of which one to replace would have helped.

16d Sweet female’s harangue suppressing anger, oddly (8)
FRAGRANT – F(emale) precedes a harangue containing the odd letters of anger.

18d Gasp keeping control, not one with child! (8)
PREGNANT – a verb to gasp or wheeze contains a verb to control or govern without the Roman numeral for one.

19d Pass is taken, involving support for goal (6)
ASSIST – hidden (involving) in the clue.

21d Stress seeing number’s up around end of war (6)
NERVES – reverse (up) a single-digit number around the end letter of war.

22d Subject of article poses wasting time (6)
THESIS – a definite article is followed by a verb meaning poses without (wasting) T(ime).

24d Inexperienced person, inexperienced person in bed (4)
COLT – the letter that signifies that someone is inexperienced goes inside a small bed.

My top clues today were 12a and 4d. Let us know which one(s) you liked.

23 comments on “Toughie 1271

  1. I seem to be having one of those days where puzzles I find difficult, others find easy and vice versa (apart from today’s Times!). Today’s Beam was for me a proper Toughie, although I really should have sorted out the very nice clues in the NE corner a lot earlier than I did – luckily Gnome’s Law came into play eventually.

    Thanks to Beam for making me work and Gazza for the illustrated explanations.

  2. On the whole, reasonably straightforward, but I struggled with my last two, which were 7a and 13d.
    Thanks to Beam, and to Gazza for the review.

  3. In complete agreement with your analysis of this one Gazza – although I’d give it 4* for fun.

    In 7a I had assumed we were meant to equate sir with lord. 13d needs “initially” or similar at the end.

    Favourites were 15a [Vulgarly is the key here as there’s a similar answer that would foul up 16d]; 4d and 13d [despite the criticism above].

    The surface of 5d sounds like it might be fun but does anyone have any idea what it means?

    Many thanks to Beam and to Gazza.

  4. Gentle offering today, favourites were 4d and 18d thanks to Beam and to Gazza for the comments.

  5. I’m with Crypticsue on this one, I struggled quite a bit with it though I thoroughly enjoyed the wrestle. Many thanks to Beam and to Gazza for the excellent review.

  6. Completed but struggled quite a bit here, last one in was 7a where i had stupidly written in generous- which made it a bit harder for the penny to drop for 2d, and I got in a mess trying to parse mate for boyfriend ( I know). I didn’t know that 8d meant glorious.

    Nice hidden clues in this one, i really liked 11a and 19d

    10a took me ages! duh moment when it clicked. lovely simple misdirection.

    Other great clues were 26a (insignificant affair) and 24d (inexperienced person in bed)

    Many thanks Beam and gazza for the review

  7. Finished it so feeling smug as no-one has suggested that it “isn’t really a Toughie” – well, not yet anyway!
    I got into a terrible muddle with 7a but eventually decided it was gazza’s first explanation – the second one didn’t occur to me (and I don’t understand it!)
    I missed both the hidden ones for ages.
    I liked 9 and 26a and 18d. My favourite was either 4d or 24d but probably 4d as the answers that end in ‘isn’ always make me laugh.
    With thanks to Beam and gazza.

    1. Kath,
      Because I couldn’t (and can’t) see how sir means lord I flirted with the idea that lord was SIRE with the E moved to the front (English before) but that doesn’t really work.

  8. We’re with Cryptic Sue on this one as we found it quite a struggle, particularly the NW corner where 10a seemed just too obvious to be right. We had put off even looking at it until the back-pager was safely put to bed, by which time the grey cells were getting a tad weary. Enjoyed the challenge and did use a bit of electronic help for the last couple.
    Thanks RayT and Gazza.

  9. This late posting explains why I struggled so much with Mr Beam. Not very partial to the sort of clues with unfinished words or endless this or that. The east side gave me more trouble. Was looking for something about parent for 18d. Incidentally, control is to rein or reign? Or both maybe. My fave is 17a. We use the same term in France you crevette. But when I got these two “h” in 4d, I was totally lost. Clever clue really. Thanks again to Beam and shokran to gazza for the clear hints as I only had to unveil 14a for which I had agitated.

    1. Afwan, Jean-luc. In 18d control (i.e. rule) is REIGN from which you have to remove the I (not one). So it’s P….ANT around REGN.

  10. Having arrived in Switzerland this afternoon with nothing to do here until tomorrow, the thought of withdrawal symptoms with no crosswords to do before Saturday spurred me on to rescue the copy of today’s DT which I had brought with me from the hotel wastepaper bin and set about the Toughie. It took me a long, long time and I had to keep breaking off and coming back to it, but I’m delighted to say I got there in the end, and my rating is 5*+/4*.

    I made 26a more difficult than it already was by putting “clot” for 24d as one of my first answers in. I thought it was a bit strange but it sort of worked.

    By the time I went to have dinner I was just missing 17a. I had a piece of good fortune as I ordered shrimps in white wine and garlic and the penny immediately dropped. The waiter looked rather bemused when he asked what I wanted and I exclaimed “shrimps.. of course!”

    I couldn’t quite sort out the wordplay for 7a, and I see that I was in auspicious company with Gazza also having some difficutlies with this one.

    12a was my favourite.

    Many thanks to Beam and to Gazza.

    1. CLOT was my problem as well – nearly right and almost justifiable so it went in a bit too quickly!

  11. Gave up in the end with five to go. Had clot for 24d. Silly me. Excellent puzzle as usual but I cannot join The Toughty Cub today. Ta to Ray T. Ta to Gazza.

  12. Like some other contributors, l struggled over the NW corner (particularly the 7a/2d combo), and would dare to suggest that the clue for the former doesn’t quite work. However, this was otherwise a perfectly fair and rewarding puzzle, so 3*/3* for me. I liked 4d especially. My thanks to Beam/RayT, and to Gazza for the review.

  13. Thanks to RayT for another brilliant puzzle. Best for me was 24 – so simple but yet so good. Also liked 9 18 and 26. A master at work!

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