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Toughie 1454

Toughie No 1454 by Beam

No Brahms?

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

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

I don’t expect too many protests today that this one isn’t tough enough. There’s a lot of fairly complicated wordplay – no complaints from me on that score but I did calculate that two-thirds of the clues (20 out of 30) involve ‘container’ type constructs which does seem a bit excessive but it may be a by-product of having no anagrams at all. I’d sum this up as ‘tough but enjoyable’ – how about you?

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

1a Sensitive European male, obstructing boxing knuckle-head (12)
EMBARRASSING – abbreviations for European and male are followed by a present participle meaning obstructing or blocking which contains (boxing) a knuckle-head or idiot.

9a Church, in case nearly full, accepting one’s divine (9)
CELESTIAL – string together the abbreviation for the established church in England, a conjunction meaning ‘in case’ and an adjective meaning full or complete without its last letter. Finally insert the Roman numeral for one.

10a Play Hamlet, perhaps taking Claudius’s lead (5)
DANCE – play here is a verb as in ‘flames were playing in the fireplace’. What Hamlet was an example of contains the leading letter of Claudius.

11a Very, very undressed flipping partner (6)
REALLY – the middle (undressed) letters of very are reversed and followed by a partner or supporter.

12a Composer‘s relative replacing another composer’s intro (8)
SIBELIUS – start with an English composer and replace his introductory D with a brother or sister to end up with a Finnish composer.

13a Try endlessly to have comfort in puzzle (6)
TEASER – the first two letters of try have a word meaning comfort inside them.

15a Left back races after spoils (8)
TROPHIES – reverse the left side of a ship and follow that with an archaic verb meaning races or goes quickly.

18a Intoxicated and hammered around start of opening time (8)
BESOTTED – a verb meaning hammered or defeated contains the starting letter of opening and T(ime).

19a Cuts queues outside front of train (6)
FILETS – these are the sort of cuts that Jean-Luc might serve in his restaurant. Queues or lines contain the front letter of train.

21a Fragments blow grenade core in unfinished projectile (8)
SHRAPNEL – a sharp blow or knock and the central letter of grenade go inside an artillery projectile without its last letter.

23a Computer to put in last of Excel program (6)
LAPTOP – the last letter of Excel and an abbreviated word for a program have TO inserted.

26a Virtuoso pianist‘s record capturing Bizet’s essence (5)
LISZT – a record or register contains the central letter of Bizet.

27a Get to hold bleeding heart in routine (9)
PROCEDURE – a verb to get or purchase contains the central letters of bleeding.

28a Great guy hosting party with touching Queen cover (12)
CONSIDERABLE – a guy or rope contains a party or wing which is itself contained between (with … cover) a preposition meaning touching or concerning and a single-letter abbreviation for queen.

Down Clues

1d Scrap former husband? Safe bet accepting relationship’s end (7)
EXCERPT – string together a short word for a former husband and a sure bet, then insert the end letter of relationship.

2d Material for piece over aeroplane nose? (5)
BALSA – reverse (over) a piece or chunk and add the first (nose) letter of aeroplane.

3d Tough inmate left one for dead (9)
RESILIENT – start with an inmate or a registered guest and replace the abbreviation for dead with L(eft) and the Roman numeral for one.

4d Entrances missing tenor’s solo (4)
ARIA – start with a word, originally from Latin, for entrance halls and take away the T(enor).

5d Troops join army finally holding unit (8)
SOLDIERY – a verb to join or fuse together is followed by the final letter of army and the letter that looks like a unit goes inside.

6d Suggestion‘s grand, undressed? (5)
NUDGE – the abbreviation for grand is starkers, i.e. it’s in the ****.

7d Endless impregnation ends well without sex (8)
INFINITE – the outer letters (ends) of impregnation are followed by an adjective meaning well or hunky-dory containing an informal word for sex.

8d Caught inside covers, usually playing (6)
VERSUS – hidden.

14d Incomprehensible swearing includes satire, oddly (8)
ABSTRUSE – swearing or offensive language contains the odd letters of satire.

16d Francis Drake, say, seizing endless gear on vessel? (9)
PRIVATEER – this is an all-in-one clue. What Francis Drake became an example of when he was knighted by Good Queen Bess contains a word for gear or costume without its final letter and a vessel or large tank. I’m not at all sure that the conferring of a knighthood actually raised him to the nobility so I’m wondering whether I’ve missed something here.

17d Income from work turning in unevenly selected rates (8)
RECEIPTS – reverse a type of work (where payment depends on the amount produced) inside the odd letters of rates.

18d Bother, does my bum look big in this? (6)
BUSTLE – the answer would have to be yes.

20d Chief certain the compiler’s about top at last (7)
SUPREME – an adjective meaning certain and the objective pronoun with which Beam identifies himself contain the last letter of top.

22d Paved area typically installed outside initially (5)
PATIO – a semi-all-in-one. Just read off the initial letters.

24d For consumption get pulse taken in digit (5)
THUMB – the abbreviation for the disease that used to be called consumption contains a verb meaning to pulse or throb.

25d Line from fabulous bird stood up on date (4)
CORD – reverse (stood up) a giant mythological bird and follow it with D(ate).

I’d pick out 18a and 18d as my co-favourites. Which one(s) pleased you?

50 comments on “Toughie 1454

  1. I had to check it wasn’t Friday – 5*/3* for me – I did like 18d.

    Thanks to Beam for making me work really really hard on and off for what seemed like ages and to Gazza for the explanations.

  2. I can’t imagine anyone complaining about it being too easy , but you never know.
    7d and 3d I just guessed , so I appreciate the parsing.Military also fits all the checkers in 5d .This lead to further errors.
    Quite a lot of clues with innuendo,the solution to some were quite disappointing .
    Best clue :18d.
    Thanks Gazza and Beam.

  3. Good grief – must just be having an ‘on wavelength’ sort of day. This one really didn’t take me much longer than the back-pager so it’s a 2*/4* for me.
    Can’t really nominate a favourite as most of my ‘smile’ moments came from the wording of the clues rather than the resulting answers, although I did particularly like 24d and thought of JL pronouncing 19a!

    Many thanks to Mr. T/Beam (when you pop in, please assure everyone that you didn’t furnish me with the answers in advance!) and to Gazza for the dissection – hopefully, my performance on this one will lead to your forgiveness for my stupidity re: yesterday’s anagram!

    1. Well done, Jane – you obviously found it easier than I did and your solving is coming on in leaps and bounds. At this rate it can’t be long before BD recruits you to the circle of bloggers. :D

    2. I bow to your superior intellect Jane – do please spare a thought for us poorly schooled children (to coin a Mp phrase).

      Gazza’s correct – if you carry on is this vein, you’ll soon be recruited by BD for a toughie review. Well done

    3. Don’t worry, folks – it’s just a ‘purple patch’. Tomorrow will doubtless be a very different story.

  4. Was definitely on the same wavelength.
    A real joy from start to finish.
    Liked so many clues that it is hard to pick one as a favourite.
    I think I’ll go for 3d.
    18d made me laugh. I believe it was in “the fast show” that a character kept saying.
    The only filet served in the Jardin at the moment is a beautiful seared yellowfin tuna with wasabi mash and basil oil.
    Booking is open!
    Thanks to Beam and to Gazza for the review.

  5. Phew, that was hard work. In the end I had failed to see full=all (9a), but did eventually manage to see the parsing for the rest, though 24a and 16d took me ages. I spent way to long on 2d and 4d, and I don’t know my composers and needed to come up with two in 12a, which I thought was a big ask.

    I liked 6d (suggestion’s grand undressed), 8d (for a well-disguised hidden word and fun surface) and 22a (despite the initially, I didn’t spot the acrostic straight away, very clever)

    Many thanks Beam, certainly a toughie, and thanks Gazza for the review

    1. You get a bit mixed up between your acrosses and downs but it made sense to me.

          1. ah – should be 21a – part of the problem is that I write over the clue numbers in the grid – anyone else do that?

  6. Does anyone have any thoughts on 16d? Frank Drake was knighted but that doesn’t make him a peer (as far as I know). Is there any other explanation for the PEER bit?

      1. No – not in my book, anyway. A peer is a member of the nobility in Britain or Ireland, comprising the ranks of duke, marquess, earl, viscount, and baron. Sir Bradley Wiggo has been made a knight but he’s not a peer.

        1. You’re right, of course, Gazza. A knighthood is not a peerage – the setter was a little off-Beam there (Sorry!).

    1. When I looked up synonyms for peerage it gave me ‘titled men and women’ and I guess that Sir is a title. Best I can do, Gazza.

      1. I don’t think that Nelson qualified as a privateer as he didn’t own any of his own ships.

  7. *****/****

    Is this Friday? Have a missed two days? Ye gods that was hard.

    I got myself into a complete mess, repeatedly. For 10a I spent far too long trying to think of an obscure play that is performed on stage.

    1a took me an age to solve, this meant for 3d I kept trying to make a word starting with either ‘con’ or ‘lag’ and not thinking of anything else.

    I also missed the hidden in 8d.

    Beam that ridiculously tricky for me and ridiculously good fun. Innuendo and some very clever clues.

    Many thanks to Beam and to Gazza for blogging and confirming my answers. Great blue.

      1. Oh dear…b****y auto-correct. Great blog. I meant great blog. My attention to detail is improving I think. Like the time I missed the naked harpist in Pommers blog.

  8. Cunning stuff here – almost Fridayworth in it’s deviousness and one hell of a struggle for me – not helped by being unable to see the obvious at 13a despite having parsed the much trickier 1a, 28a and 16d. Didn’t think much of 24d but the aforementioned trickies and the sly 23a are the favourites.

    Manythanks to Beam and to Gazza for an excellent blog.

  9. A good mental workout from Beam and a joy to solve – I am particular fond of his type of clueing on a toughie. Too many tricksy and clever clues to narrow it down to one, so I shall resist.

    Thanks to Beam for the puzzle and Gazza for the review. For some reason every time I type in GAZZA, it always goes to upper case and it’s a b****r to correct – this is the only place it happens. Am I doing something wrong?

  10. I always find that Beam’s self-imposed restrictions e.g no anagrams, single word answers etc, etc make for a puzzle completely lacking in sparkle and variety … almost horrid dull …

    … or in other words – I couldn’t do it!

    Thank you, gazza – your help was much needed today.

  11. all I can say is well done and to Jane.
    I thought this was really, really difficult and ended up with two bung-ins/guesses – call ’em what you like – they were still wrong.
    I also ended up with two gaps and I can hardly bring myself to confess that one of them was 8d! It just gets worse and worse.
    I liked 18a and 1d. I loved 6 and 18d so one of those is my favourite.
    With thanks to Beam and thanks and admiration to gazza for the very necessary help.

    1. Thanks for the tough and enjoyable challenge, Ray, and for dropping in. Could you clear up your intentions with 16d, since, as far as I’m aware, Sir Francis was never a peer?

      1. To be honest I didn’t look into it too deeply. I just imagined that a ‘Sir’ would automatically be a peer.


    2. Hi, Mr. T. I also need you to state for the record that you didn’t give me the answers in advance – I did ask in my comment but you mustn’t have noticed. Perish the thought that you haven’t actually read all the comments.

      1. Of course I noticed! I hereby state that Jane had no prior access to the answers in this puzzle. My lawyers will be sending you a signed hard copy of this declaration in due course.


  12. Totally agree with Gazza’s assessment. Tough and enjoyable sums it up for us too. Lots and lots of penny drop moments.
    Thanks Beam and Gazza.

  13. Avoiding the review and the hints because I want to try to do this puzzle without help until I really need it. Started it early this morning and got nowhere, then got slammed with a rush work deadline (tomorrow!) job that has consumed me all day. Maybe when I wake at my usual time in the wee small hours I can get back to some positive solving.

  14. Hooray! I finally finished, and all by myself without hints. Even managed to parse them almost all, which in itself took a good while. 3 AM -7 AM is definitely my best solving time. After wrestling with it for ages, I did get 19A wrong though. It seems that Linets is not a word. 18D is my favorite (modesty prevents me from divulging what my first thought was!) Many thanks to Ray T. I did enjoy the fight. And thanks to Gazza, of course.

    I think I’ll give today’s puzzle a miss. I need recovery time.

    1. Hi Chris,
      The back-pager is quite heavy going today – haven’t looked at the Toughie yet.
      I’m still trying to work out your immodest first answer for 18d – how many checkers did you have in place at the time?

      1. No checkers. It was the very first clue and the first word that jumped into my mind. I’ll come clean. It was ‘morass.’

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