Toughie 1487 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 1487

Toughie No 1487 by Beam

Hints and tips by Bufo

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

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

I struggled with this one especially on the bottom half. It didn’t help that I wasn’t completely with it this morning as a result of a late night with too much beer. There seemed to be a lot of single letters involved in the wordplay and one or two non-obvious definitions

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    Container frigate finally receiving salt’s compass location (8)
BINNACLE: A container + the chemical formula for common salt (sodium chloride) + E (last letter of frigatE) = the casing in which a ship’s compass is kept

5a    Ramble seeing insides of castle abroad, walled (6)
STROLL: The middle two letters of caSTle, abROad and waLLed

9a    Bird‘s half naked with thick hair (8)
NUTHATCH: a bird that seeks insects on the bark of trees = the first two letters of a four-letter word meaning ‘naked’ + thick hair

10a    Plant yielding more in a paddy? (6)
MADDER: 2 meanings: a plant whose root produces a red dye/more in a paddy (or rage)

12a    Spy about engineers Bond’s boss to finish contract (9)
AGREEMENT: A spy (5) goes round a corps of engineers in the British army with the letter M (Bond’s boss) moved to the back

13a    It’s hell with sun to open parasol (5)
SHADE: A word for Hell has the letter S (sun) moved to the front

14a    Control turns to left (4)
SWAY: A reversal (to left) of ‘turns’ or ‘deviates from its course’ or ‘zigzags’ (as a ship or an aeroplane does)

16a    Stabs and slices gripping butt of rapier (7)
PIERCES: ‘Slices’ round R (last letter of rapieR)

19a    Help overcoming unending trouble reversing woes (7)
SORROWS: ‘Help!’ round a reversal of ‘trouble’ with the last letter removed

21a    Some having ends of chinchilla tails? (4)
CATS: The first and last letters of ChinchillA and TailS

24a    Endless love of French wear (5)
ERODE: The Greek love god with the last letter removed + the French word for ‘of’

25a    Title’s hereditary lacking a noble origin and finish (9)
TERMINATE: Title + ‘hereditary’ with one letter N (first letter of Noble) removed = ‘to finish’

27a    Priest‘s humbug with people sharing Mass (6)
SHAMAN: A doctor=priest or medicine man working by magic = humbug + people with a letter M (Mass) shared

28a    Paroxysm as the advert covers newspaper’s name (8)
MASTHEAD: Hidden in ParoxysM AS THE Advert. This took me a lot longer to get than it should have done

29a    Following sailor back, the woman’s pretty (6)
RATHER: A reversal of a sailor + woman (a pronoun) = ‘pretty’ or ‘to some degree’

30a    Having experience perhaps with time, it’s said (8)
SEASONED: ‘Time, it’s said’ equates to ‘thyme’ and the answer can mean ‘perhaps with thyme’


1d    A little shrub on saikei (6)
BONSAI: Hidden in shruB ON SAIkei

2d    Official never admits to getting kickback (6)
NOTARY: An official authorized to certify deeds, etc. = ‘never’ round a reversal of TO

3d    Humble sailor’s embracing a sweetheart (5)
ABASE: ‘To humble’ = sailor and ‘S round A + E (middle letter of swEet)

4d    The French, dear French, by day’s end womanising (7)
LECHERY: Te French word for ‘the’ + the French word for ‘dear’ + Y (last letter of daY)

6d    Fugitive time flew, still without length (9)
TRANSIENT: T (time) + ‘flew’ + ‘still’ or ‘quiet’ with the letter L (length) removed

7d    Men, Navy’s first unit, loading ball for cannon (8)
ORDNANCE: Men who are not commissioned officers + N (first letter of Navy) inside a ball (formal gathering)

8d    Spending capital, we hear, spreading this? (8)
LARGESSE: The capital letter at the front of ‘Spending’ is S and it’s upper-case so it isn’t small. The answer is a homophone of a description of this letter S and means ‘bestowal of gifts’ or ‘generosity’

11d    After raising a fortune, quit (4)
STOP: A reversal of a large sum of money

15d    Moby Dick’s inner orifices dropping a hard mass (9)
WHOLESALE: The type of creature that Moby Dick was goes round ‘orifices’ and one letter H (hard) is removed to give ‘mass’ in its adjectival sense

17d    Crosses saved holding up referee (8)
ASSESSOR: Hidden in reverse in cROSSES SAved

18d    Superior‘s attempt to rise in rank (8)
ARROGANT: Superior (conceited or self-important) = a reversal of an attempt inside inside ‘rank’ or ‘downright’

20d    Starts to settle into tempting sofa (4)
SITS: The first letters of Settle In Tempting Sofa

21d    Fabulous bird raised slip over eye-opening bodice (7)
CORSAGE: A reversal of an enormous bird in Arabian legend + ‘to slip’ + E (first letter of Eye) = the bodice or waist of a woman’s dress

22d    Hollow container’s almost bare interior (6)
CAVERN: An underground hollow = a container round ‘bare’ with the last letter removed. I thought long and hard trying to equate ‘bare’ with the synonym used here but decided that it just about works if it means ‘mere’

23d    Thought to ring doctor up and rallied (6)
HERDED: ‘Thought’ round a reversal of doctor = ‘rallied’ or ‘driven together’

26d    Jots ideas on tablet, absently scribbling initially (5)
IOTAS: First letters of Ideas On Tablet, Absently Scribbling

I think I enjoyed it

37 comments on “Toughie 1487

  1. I’d have to give this 5* for difficulty purely because of the SW corner, not helped by having entirely the wrong word in 15d which didn’t help with the crossers at all.

    Thanks to Beam and Bufo.

  2. So nice to have a Beam / Ray T fix on a Thursday. Took a bit of getting into with the SE corner the last to fall but very enjoyable along the way. I think he is the master of the hidden word – I always look for them straight away, but rarely find them without checkers. I’ll go for 1a as it has that nautical edge to it.

    Thanks to Beam for the lovely puzzle and Bufo for the review – I hope your head clears up

  3. Gave up with 5 clues unsolved.
    The NW corner was left mostly blank. Only had 1d, 4d and 12a. Impossible to get the rest and starting at it didn’t help.
    The other one I didn’t get was 18d. Even with all the checkers, I got tired looking at synonyms.
    The lurker in 28a was great.
    Thanks to Beam and Bufo for the much needed help.

  4. I was disappointed to find no RayT on the backie, only to find him on the Toughie, to my great delight. I thought 1a was absolutely brilliant as the maritime theme sent me looking through all the types of seaman, when the chemical symbol was staring me in the face. I found the SE corner the most difficult as I completely missed the hidden word in 28 and this was my last in. After the great 1a I liked 3 4 8 9 12 15 17 and 28. Are there any more? Thanks to Beam for making my day.

  5. Top half a breeze: bottom half a much more serious challenge, not helped by my determination to find something beginning with “whale…” for 15d. Eventually the penny dropped and that’s the clear favourite, closely followed by 2d. Awful grid.

    Thanks to Beam and to Bufo for blogging on regardless.

  6. Another one who was defeated by the SW corner. I did get 24a. Really difficult today and nearly gave up after the RHS. I don’t understand how it is I can do RayT but struggle with Beam.

    I did enjoy what I could do, lots.

    17d gets the favourite award even though I didn’t get it.

    Many thanks to Beam and to Bufo for blogging.

  7. For me, it was the SE corner. I was left with 25A and 23D unsolved, and the right answer for 22D but couldn’t parse the middle bit. 15D took a while to sort out but I got there in the end. 1A and 18D get my vote today, though 28A is not far behind. Thanks to Beam and to Bufo for the review (but I still don’t understand 25A, even with your hint).

    1. 25a – A four letter word for a title or the name given to something is followed by a six letter word meaning inbred or native – that six letter word has two ‘N’s – take one of them out – lacking a N(oble) origin.

        1. Thanks, Kath, on both counts. T understand 25A now, and my cold is till hanging on, but not quite so fierce.

        1. Thanks, both to you and Hanni. I rarely get colds like this and can’t take anything OTC that’s actually effective because of blood pressure meds, so I just tough it out. Hot toddies are my go-to remedy. They don’t do much for the cold, but they make having it feel a whole lot better!

  8. Was left with the entire SW corner blank for ages and kicked myself when I finally saw 17d was a lurker. After that it (slowly) came together. Glad others seemed to find this hard as well.

    The hidden words are brilliant. 17d, 28a, and I especially like the 1d all-in-one lurker – perfect.
    I was confused by the superfluous “a” in 15d. I agree with Bufo, a couple of non-obvious choices for meanings, which contributes to the toughness.

    Many thanks Beam and Bufo

  9. Suffering from a bad attack of smugness – finished it but it has taken rather a long time.
    I did manage to spot the hidden 1d but the other two hidden answers were my last two to go in.
    I didn’t know 1a and spent ages trying to justify ‘barnacle’ but couldn’t and 2d ruled that out anyway – guessed and looked it up.
    I was convinced, as others were, that 15d had to be ‘whale something’ but got there eventually.
    I liked 27 and 30a and 8 and 26d. My favourite was 4d.
    Just how lucky are we today – two really good crosswords.
    With thanks to Beam and to Bufo – hope that you’ve recovered by now.

  10. We are in the ‘SE as the tricky corner’ camp. We tried to make ‘corslet’ work for 21d until we found the less common usage of the correct answer in BRB. Next sorting out the wordplay for the middle bit of 22d took a while. However we did eventually get it all sorted and thoroughly enjoyed the exercise. Of course we checked the clue lengths and everything is in order as usual. Great fun.
    Thanks Beam and Bufo.

  11. Wow. This was tough, and I am in the “SW last to fall group”. Brilliant crossword, but I am not entirely convinced by 22d even with Bufo’s review. 8d was a constructions of sheer genius and gets my vote as favourite, although 4d ran it very close.

    Many thanks to Beam and to Bufo.

  12. My first failure to finish (2 short) a toughie since Elgar’s Christmas double puzzle. And I had been thinking Mr T, who has long been one of my favourite setters, was starting to go soft. He must have heard

    Sadly I had never heard the word for a newspaper name and I never thought to look for the hidden word – despite always starting a Mr T puzzle with the words “look hard for hidden word clues” in my mind.

    23 down was the other failure – not familiar with that meaning of rally.

    1. Hi WB,
      That’s another reason why this site is so useful. A couple of months ago, the Telegraph changed its cover and there was a debate about the new masthead.
      Never would have heard of it otherwise.

      1. I managed to miss that despite daily access to the crosswords and the paper. It was only a few years ago I learned through crosswordland the meaning of redtop.

  13. Since l was utterly stymied in the SW corner (and to a lesser extent in the SE), l had recourse to 4 of the above hints to complete. Therefore l must go for at least 4* for difficulty. Despite the frustration, l liked it quite a lot so will award the same score for enjoyment. Lots of potential favourites, of which 15d gets my vote for top clue. Thanks to Ray T/Beam for the mental exercise, and to Bufo for helping me tackle it.

    1. . . . at this point I think it’s “quit while you’re winning time.” I’ve finished three Toughies this week and they were all pretty tricky – I don’t want to knock the newly acquired “Toughie confidence” and anyway I am genuinely too busy tomorrow – might not even get round to the back page cryptic until quite late.

    2. Every promise of an outstanding toughie week. I’m off to Sheffield on Friday in search of beer with some drinking friends tomorrow so I think I will start on the Toughie on the train upnorf as I dont expect much progress on the way back south in the evening!

  14. Certainly wouldn’t have got through the bottom half of this one without Bufo’s hints. Managed to miss both the lurkers at 28a&17d and have always associated 21d with simply a spray of flowers. Took ‘heed’ as a verb which didn’t help with the parsing of 23d and am still not overly convinced by 22d.
    Nevertheless, it was a great challenge – 5*/4* for me with 8d probably my favourite.
    Devotions to Mr. T/Beam and many thanks to Bufo for the help.

  15. BD may tell me otherwise, but has anyone else noticed that there seem to be more and more comments about the Toughies these days? Is it that our training here in BD school is starting to pay dividends or just making us feel braver!

    1. It’s still a small group that actually comment, but I do think more people are willing to give the toughies a go these days. Perhaps we are less self-conscious about not doing well thanks to support from others. I’m more inclined nowadays to tackle the toughie first, which means some days I don’t even get to look at the cryptic.

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