Toughie 1391 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 1391

Toughie No 1391 by Beam

Hints and tips by Bufo

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BD Rating – Difficulty ***Enjoyment ***

I’m feeling rather damp after having got caught in a downpour while out voting. I wondered whether there might be an election theme in today’s puzzle but I can’t see anything relevant apart from 11 down. I started very quickly but then slowed down considerably and ended up finishing the puzzle in average time. I found one or two bits of wordplay rather tricky to unravel and I still haven’t managed to explain 18 across. All suggestions welcome

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    Scot’s cross to get left out in burlesque (6)
SATIRE: Remove L (left) from the type of cross that figures on the flag of Scotland

4a    Goes round clutching little money that gets whipped (8)
STRAPPED: A reversal of ‘goes’ round P (little money)

9a    Fertile island virtually green in rotation (6)
ARABLE: A reversal (in rotation) of an island where Napoleon was sent and a 3-letter word meaning ‘green’ with the last letter removed

10a    Pockets found in pants? (8)
TROUSERS: 2 meanings: pockets (appropriates)/item of clothing

12a    Heartlessly ask sweetheart following public pass (8)
OVERTAKE: ‘Public’ + the first and last letters of AsK + the middle letter of swEet = to pass another car

13a    Overturned clear fault to make comeback in game (6)
TENNIS: A reversal (overturned) of ‘clear’ + a reversal (to make comeback) of ‘fault’

15a    Cool three drinks clutching bottle opener? It’s dreadful! (13)
INSUPPORTABLE: Cool (or trendy) + ‘to drink’ + a fortified wine + another alcoholic drink Round B (first letter of bottle)

18a    Wrongly grasp lass with splits position splitting smalls (13)
MISUNDERSTAND: I haven’t managed to work out the wordplay. I can see a lass, I can see ‘with’, I can see ‘position’ (sort of), I can see ‘splits’ and I can see ‘smalls’ but I can’t put any of them together to form a coherent whole. Who’s a genius enough to work it out?

22a    Drink, holding bladder, somewhere in France (6)
ALSACE: The last of the 3 drinks used in 15 across round a bladder

24a    Getting on with act unfinished before bed (8)
DECREPIT: An act (edict or law) with its last letter removed + what Chambers tells me is an informal word for a bed

26a    Liberated and experienced again embracing life, finally (8)
RELIEVED: ‘Experienced again’ round E (last letter of life)

27a    Welcome roistering’s beginning in empty town pub (6)
TAVERN: ‘Welcome!’ and R (first letter of roistering) inside the first and last letters of TowN

28a    From turnover of desserts I deserved upset (8)
DISTRESS: Hidden in reverse in deSSERTS I Deserved

29a    Boring grand party over in swine’s home (6)
STODGY: A reversal of G (grand) and a party inside a swine’s home


1d    Dog display held by Crufts, say (6)
SHADOW: ‘To dog’ = a display for marketing purposes inside a type of event such as Crufts

2d    ‘Hamlet’ and ‘King Lear’ perhaps flipped in relationships (9)
TRAGEDIES: ‘Flipped (went mad)’ inside relationships

3d    Embroiled in quarrel, a test for couples (7)
RELATES: Hidden in quarREL A TESt

5d    Part of trimester, maybe? (4)
TERM: Hidden in trimesTER Maybe

6d    Most violent American copper on trial (7)
ACUTEST: A (American) + the atomic symbol for copper + trial

7d    Groom showing pressure, never turning up (5)
PREEN: ‘To groom’ = P (pressure) + a reversal of a shortened form of ‘never’

8d    Detective on special forces course almost in trouble (8)
DISASTER: The abbreviation for a Detective Inspector + a special forces unit of the British Army + ‘course’ with the last letter removed

11d    Head political supporter’s promoting origin of socialism (7)
SKIPPER: Take a word apparently used for a supporter of UKIP and put an S (the possessive S in supporter’s and the first letter of socialism) at the front

14d    ‘Revolver’ cover made by Queen after composer (7)
HOLSTER: The usual 2 letters denoting the Queen follow the surname of an English composer

16d    Cover page penned by British journalist’s perused (9)
BEDSPREAD: A cover that goes over the blankets = P (page) inside B (British), a top journalist and ‘perused’

17d    Defective express in endless delay (8)
IMPAIRED: ‘To express (voice)’ inside ‘to delay’ with the last letter removed

19d    Reportedly original patent of power source (7)
NUCLEAR: A homophone of ‘original’ + ‘patent’

20d    Absolute pig hugging redhead shoulder to shoulder (7)
ABREAST: A (absolute) + pig round R (first letter of Red)

21d    Tight skirt, with invitation — guy observing limits (6)
STINGY: The first and last letters of SkirT, InvitatioN and GuY

23d    A superior officer on board for sailors (5)
SALTS: A and an abbreviation for a superior officer inside SS (i.e. on board a steamship)

25d    Starts to beseech, entreat, grovel and sponge (4)
BEGS: The first letters of Beseech, Entreat, Grovel and Sponge

Perhaps I should have given it five stars for difficulty in view of my failure to explain 18 across.

16 comments on “Toughie 1391

  1. This was a very nice Ray T puzzle which had somehow found itself in the wrong envelope, taking as it did an average Ray T back page time, and less time to solve than today’s back page puzzle.

    I had an email this morning bemoaning the fact that the toughies have been 1* and easier than the back page all week, and I would agree with my correspondent – if ‘toughies’ had been this ‘difficulty’ level back in 2010 I’d never have found this blog.

    thanks to Mr T and BD.

    Let’s hope for a Toughie tomorrow.

  2. Probably wrong parsing of 18a but my feeble offering : I wrote out in full the 3 words for lass / splits / position then removed 3 of the s (smalls splitting).

    1. That’s what I did, andy, but I don’t like it much because there’s nothing in the clue telling us how many S letters to remove and where from.

      1. It was the best I could come up with, at least I haven’t made myself look totally ignorant (for once) ;)

  3. Apart from not being able to parse 18A, this was straightforward, I thought, and actually took me less time than the cryptic. 24A and 19D are my top picks. Thanks Beam and BD.

    Looking at 18A again, I wonder if the ‘splitting smalls’ means that the S letters are doing double duty.

  4. Re 18a – Me neither Guv. The shared S hypothesis works for “splits” and “position” but not for “lass”, unless I’m missing something. Perhaps Ray T can enlighten us? Otherwise quite a straightforward solve with a couple of typical Beam chuckles at 24a and 14d.

    Thanks to Beam and Bufo

  5. Yes, 18a, I thought the splitting somehow had to mean sharing a letter ( though quite why I don’t know), so lass shares with position, while the later is also sharing with smalls… but not 100% satisfied.

    Apart from that, I agree with CS the puzzle took less time than today’s back pager, which is not to belittle it in anyway, I quite enjoyed it. Took me a while to see 4a (goes round), the green in 9a, I liked the 3 drinks but was disappointed to see one of them re-used, I liked 24a (getting on) which took me a while to see,

    Many thanks Beam and Bufo

  6. Firstly, many thanks to Bufo for the decryption and to all for your comments. Secondly, when I was writing 18a I saw ‘Miss’ plus ‘sunders’ plus ‘stand’ with each word sharing an ‘s’ with each adjacent word. I now see that this leaves a surplus ‘s’.

    My apologies for any missunderstandings…


    1. Many thanks RayT, you’ve put our spinning minds at rest! How exactly should we interpret splits and splitting?

  7. Good afternoon my dear royalist democrats. May the best king of the commons win.
    In France we think that the only thing that differentiates the two main leaders is their table manners.
    Really enjoyed RayT’s offering and even if I couldn’t parse 18a, I managed to get the answer right.
    Didn’t we see 10a not long ago? I am pretty sure.
    The construction of 21d reminded me of yesterday’s odysseys.
    Liked 1a and 22a a lot.
    Thanks to RayT and to Bufo for the review.

  8. Seemed to be a lot of ‘bad’ things going on in this one – feelings, events etc., but still plenty of Ray T’s signature innuendo and a mention for Her Majesty.
    Got completely bogged down with the parsing of 18a, trying to justify an anagram of ‘undies’ for split smalls inside Ms for lass and wondering how on earth to fit in the ‘r’ and ‘tand’ that I was left with. The answer was obvious enough but isn’t it so frustrating when you can’t work out the ‘why’.
    Think I’d agree Expat C’s verdict on the ones that deserve special mention, but would add 1& 9a to the list.

    Thanks to Bufo for the logic and Mr. T for some lovely surface reads. How about something a little more light-hearted for next Thursday?

  9. I made this 2*/3*, and rather less challenging than today’s back-pager. No real favourite, though, l’m afraid. Thanks to Ray T, and to Bufo.

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