Toughie 1431 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 1431

Toughie No 1431 by Beam


+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

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

This was a challenging puzzle. I filled in the grid eventually but it wasn’t until I started writing the blog that I realised how much of the wordplay I hadn’t fully understood. That induced me to add the extra half-star for difficulty. There is still one clue for which I need enlightenment (7d) but my deadline for getting the report to Big Dave has passed so I’ll have to leave it to some of you clever people to complete the explanation. I hope it’s not just me being particularly obtuse today.

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    Record spell pronounced for some facing cell, say (10)
TRANSCRIPT: A word that, in some parts of the country, sounds like (pronounced for some) a spell followed by a homophone (say) of ‘cell’

6a    Bird exists including male and female (4)
IBIS: A wading bird worshipped by the ancient Egyptians = ‘exists’ round ‘attracted sexually to both males and females’

9a    Innocent bride’s heart in heart of church (5)
NAÏVE: The middle letter of brIde inside the main part of a church

10a    Almost jeer oddly undead voracious creature (9)
BARRACUDA: ‘To jeer’ with the last letter removed + the odd letters of UnDeAd = a voracious tropical fish

12a    Simple stone set in gold, shell-like reportedly (7)
AUSTERE: ST (stone) inside AU (atomic symbol of gold) and a homophone of your shell-like, a colloquial word for a part of the body [Coincidentally today’s quick crossword has “11d Shell-like (3)” BD]

13a    Positions for machineguns turned back to centre (5)
NESTS: Reverse small lightweight submachine-guns having moved the last letter to the centre of the word

15a    Cardinal and proper Queen without a Mass … (7)
PRIMARY: ‘Proper’ + the name of an English queen with M (Mass) removed

17a    … Bishop’s office again declared another Queen (7)
SEYMOUR: A homophone (declared) of a bishop’s office and ‘again’ = the surname of one of Henry VIII’s wives

19a    Liquid, if nasty cough tickles, usually swallowed initially (7)
LINCTUS: The initial letters of Liquid, If Nasty Cough Tickles, Usually Swallowed

21a    Right and left seen with frontless frock (7)
REDRESS: ‘To right’ = left (in a political sense) + a frock with the initial letter removed

22a    Last of Spurs companions providing window-dressing? (5)
SWAGS: The last letter of SpurS + the female companions of footballers = curtains hung in folds at a window

24a    Winds up around very gentle waves (7)
RIPPLES: ‘Winds up (irritates)’ round an abbreviation denoting ‘as softly or gently as possible’

27a    Queen single in start nearly flawed (9)
ERRONEOUS: The abbreviation denoting our Queen + a single inside ‘to start’ with the last letter removed

28a    Over middle of sea trailing container vessel (5)
CANOE: O (over) and E (middle letter of sEa) follow a container

29a    Extremities of feet, also some socks? (4)
TOES: The last letters of feeT, alsO somE sockS

30a    Rating, when hardened, accepts ship’s crew (10)
ASSESSMENT: ‘When’ + ‘hardened’ round an abbreviation denoting a ship and ‘crew’


1d    Bite from insect becoming raised (4)
TANG: A reversal of a small fly

2d    Spirit of Scotland perhaps embracing case of idealism (9)
ANIMATION: A + a type of entity of which Scotland is an example round the first and last letters of IdealisM

3d    Spots hiding maiden’s looks (5)
SEEMS: Spots (as a verb) round M (maiden)

4d    ‘Johnny Reb’ born, brought up securing plunder (7)
ROBBERY: Hidden in reverse in ‘JohnnY REB’ BORn

5d    Ties up soft sweetheart in bows, consuming ‘Fifty … (7)
PARCELS: P (soft) + E (middle letter of swEet) and L (fifty) inside ‘bows’

7d    … Shades’ — some may go on to lashes? (5)
BLUES: I filled in the only shades that fit but I’ve no idea what the rest of the clue means

8d    Gas pressure dropping temperature in sewer (10)
SEAMSTRESS: A gas obtained by heating water with T (temperature) removed + pressure = someone who sews

11d    Queen admitting heartless obstinacy, dead upset (7)
ANNOYED: The name of an English queen round the first and last letters of ObstinacY + D (dead)

14d    Old and weak on trail getting shot (10)
OPALESCENT: O (old) + weak (of colour) + trail = shot (showing a play of colours)

16d    Held up by train as I train mechanic (7)
ARTISAN: Hidden in reverse in traiN AS I TRAin

18d    Honour Italy’s top man gaining new respect (9)
OBEISANCE: A British honour + I (Italy) + ‘S + a top man round N (new)

20d    One’s entombed in watery grave (7)
SERIOUS: I (one) inside ‘watery’ = grave (as an adjective)

21d    Ready to take job sharing power for comeback (7)
RIPOSTE: ‘Ready (for picking)’ round a job where a letter P (power) is shared by the ‘ready’ and the job

23d    Athletic, untrained, losing final match (5)
AGREE: A (Athletic) + ‘untrained’ with the last letter removed = to match

25d    Southern State rising about English ties (5)
LACES: A reversal of S (Southern) and an American state on the west coast goes round E (English)

26d    Take part in strike (4)
BEAT: When split (2,2) it can mean ‘take part in’

It’s nice to get a real Toughie

19 comments on “Toughie 1431

  1. Quite a challenge from Beam that seemed to get a bit easier in the bottom half. More Queens but less smut this time around [not a criticism – I like Beam’s smutty clues] but I’m as puzzled as you Bufo about 7d – perhaps the man himself can enlighten us.

    Thanks for the blog and thanks to Ray T for the puzzle.

    1. I thought (perhaps naively) that lashes were eyelashes and that the clue was referring to the application of mascara.

  2. Quite an interesting crossword.
    For 7d, I thought of make up for the eye lashes.
    21d. That’s the second time we see that construction with crib and bed the other day.
    It was nice to see all these queens.
    14d. Learned a new synonym for shot.
    Thanks to Beam and to Bufo for the review.

  3. Well – – for the second time today.
    I found that really difficult so I was glad to see that Bufo did too.
    I don’t understand 7d either and couldn’t get 17a however many times I looked at it.
    22a took ages – I always forget those companions.
    I enjoyed this very much and was quite pleased to have got to within a couple of answers of finishing it.
    Difficult to pick out any clues in particular, let along a favourite – maybe 19a.
    With thanks to Beam and to Bufo, and as much admiration to him for sorting this one out as to Falcon for sorting out the other one.

  4. As Kath said – for the second time today!

    Found it hard to spot the Ray T’isms but certainly plenty of queens around!
    Thought 1a was one of the best and also liked 24a.
    Needed Google help to get the word for watery needed for 20d and didn’t get beyond ‘shams’ for 22a (no wonder I couldn’t figure out the parsing!).

    Thanks to Beam for a tough challenge and to Bufo for not only sorting everything out but coping with the ‘deadline’!

  5. Many thanks to Bufo for the decryption and to everybody for your comments. Much appreciated, as always.


    1. Thanks for popping in, Mr. T. Could you set our minds at rest re: 7d. I was happy enough to go with blue mascara but can well believe you were being more devious!

      1. Ah, yes, 7d…

        The clue started life as a reference to lashes/squanders’ but subsequently mutated to a reference to lashes/eyelashes.

  6. Not looking at the hints, or even reading the comments. I still have a half dozen to go. Lots of time spent trying to parse and justify!! Back later…

  7. The two Telegraph cryptics put up quite a challenge today. 7d did not seem up to the usual RayT standard and the innuendo seemed in short supply. Plenty of queens though

    Thanks to both of today’s compilers and Bufo (did not look at the back pager blog)

    And there’s hope of further challenges tomorrow!

  8. Done now, but had to reveal a letter to confirm 23D that I stupidly couldn’t parse for ages and needed the hint for 22A. NE corner was the trickiest for me, but once I’d cracked it I couldn’t for the life of me see why I found it so troublesome. All those word reversals within the clues and initial letters had me hopping, too. Like others, I didn’t understand 7D at all. Loved 6A and 14D. Thanks Ray T. this was challenging but fun. And thanks to Bufo, too for the review.

    1. Well done, Chris – sounds as though you made lighter work of it than I did!
      If you’ve got time for another challenge, the back-pager is a bit of a tussle.

      1. I have untouched back pagers piling up because the toughies, which I tackle first, have been so challenging this week and I do have to work in between play. I’ll give it a go now, though.

  9. Started this last night but finished over late morning coffee. 3* on time, but felt a bit harder, and 3*+ for enjoyment. Some nice clues, out of which l liked 21d the most. Thanks to Ray T/Beam, and of course to Bufo.

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