Toughie No 1454 by Beam
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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?
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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.
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?