Toughie 1511

Toughie No 1511 by Beam

Hints and tips by Bufo

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

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

I’m not going to complain this week about the difficulty of the puzzle. This was the usual good challenge from Beam with plenty of thought needed especially in the top half

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.


7a    Ready for flood almost confining returning swell (8)
DESIROUS: ‘To flood (or plunge into water)’ with the last letter removed goes round a reversal of ‘swell or get bigger’

9a    Fish in ocean consuming krill off and on (6)
MARLIN: A large oceanic fish related to the swordfishes = ‘ocean’ round alternate letters of kRiLl

10a    Mount Everest’s final inclination (4)
BENT: A Scottish mountain + T (last letter of EveresT)

11a    Brace for row, with sweetheart ousting one afterwards (10)
STRENGTHEN: ‘To brace’ = a row with I (one) replaced by E (middle letter of swEet) + ‘afterwards’

12a    God turning secular folk (6)
RACIAL: The ancient Egyptian sun-god + a reversal of ‘secular’

14a    Do time, rejecting supremo’s stand in opposition (8)
CONTRAST: ‘To do (swindle)’ + T (time) + a reversal of a supremo

15a    Mistakes are keeping sailor capsized (6)
ERRATA: Mistakes (as listed at the end of a book) = a reversal of ARE round a sailor

17a    Colour of cherry in seed oddly (6)
CERISE: the odd letters of ChErRy In SeEd

20a    Recoiled say, approaching scarier-sounding bugs (8)
BACTERIA: A homophone (say) of ‘recoiled’ + a homophone (sounding) of ‘scarier’

22a    Masculine army cleared out border chaos (6)
MAYHEM: M (masculine) + the first and last letters of ArmY + a border

23a    Instrument of piano player penning rubbish by Queen (10)
PROTRACTOR: An instrument for measuring angles = P (piano) + a player (on the stage) round ‘rubbish’ and R (Queen)

24a    ‘Carry On’ comic facing eye-opener (4)
WAGE: A comic (amusing person) + E (first letter of Eye)

25a    Queen perform introducing a new group (6)
QUANGO: An abbreviation for ‘Queen’ + ‘to perform’ round A and N (new)

26a    Cold and bent from housework? (8)
CLEANING: C (cold) + ‘bent’


1d    Power of say, a party on rise (8)
LEVERAGE: A reversal (on rise) of an abbreviation denoting ‘say’, ‘A’ and a party

2d    Clothing seen around loch? (4)
KILT: Clothing goes round L (loch). The whole clue provides the definition

3d    Inspector Lewis’s first part (6)
MORSEL: The inspector that Lewis worked with + L (first letter of Lewis)

4d    Even challenge ends with both admitting compiler’s greatness! (8)
EMINENCE: The first and last letters of EveN and ChallengE round ‘belonging to the compiler’

5d    Weakness dropping pound, embracing bird in club … (10)
FRATERNITY: A 7-letter word meaning ‘weakness’ with L (pound) removed goes round a bird related to the seagulls

6d    … various / birds (6)
DIVERS: 2 meanings: various/birds seen on (and under) water

8d    Found to be baffled taking in arithmetic, perhaps (6)
STRUCK: Found (came upon) = ‘baffled’ round R (arithmetic being one of the three Rs)

13d    Abrasive girl’s endless score about sex (10)
IRRITATING: The middle letters of gIRl + a score (6) round sex (2)

16d    Salt stew mostly bearing seasoning (8)
TARRAGON: A salt (sailor) + the first four letters of a six-letter stew + a bearing (point of the compass)

18d    Engineers getting retraction over bloke coming out (8)
EMERGENT: A reversal (retraction) of a 4-letter abbreviation for a corps of the British Army + a bloke

19d    Extracted from gum, a sticky substance (6)
MASTIC: Hidden in guM A STICky. Here the definition could be just ‘substance’

21d    Cheers up oddball one’s seen in court (6)
ATRIUM: A reversal of ‘Cheers!’ + ‘oddball’ round I (one) = a central courtyard

22d    Sea vessel’s captured showing flag maybe (6)
MARKED: The abbreviated form of the sea east of Gibraltar goes round Noah’s vessel

24d    Sound of carp in drink (4)
WINE: An homophone of ‘to carp’

Enjoyable (except for my laptop crashing when I was halfway through the review)


  1. jean-luc cheval
    Posted December 3, 2015 at 3:03 pm | Permalink

    Agree about the top half. Specially the NW corner with 1d, 2d and 7a being my last ones in.
    However, I found this crossword to be a bit too technical and mechanical and lacked subtlety. No innuendos or d’oh moments apart from 3d which was my first entry and favourite.
    Thanks to Beam and to Bufo for the review.

  2. Expat Chris
    Posted December 3, 2015 at 3:14 pm | Permalink

    Feeling rather pleased with myself because the only one I didn’t get was 7A. It was by no means a fast solve though. So much to like here. My list includes 10A, 24A, 3D, 4D and 21D, but I’m going for 3D as my favorite. Thanks Beam and Bufo for the review (by the way, I don’t think 24D is an anagram)

    • Bufo
      Posted December 3, 2015 at 3:31 pm | Permalink

      Well spotted! For ‘anagram’ read ‘homophone’.

  3. crypticsue
    Posted December 3, 2015 at 3:35 pm | Permalink

    A proper Toughie thank you Beam. The NW corner took me an age and I don’t think it was just because half my brain was trying to list all the things I should have been doing for my sister and brother-in-law’s visit tomorrow.

    Thank to Bufo too.

  4. Jane
    Posted December 3, 2015 at 4:03 pm | Permalink

    Just about hit the halfway mark -I think! Currently knee-deep in scientific classifications of bugs.
    Very relieved to see Bufo’s difficulty rating.
    I will get there, Mr. T – simply a question of how long it takes………

    • Jane
      Posted December 3, 2015 at 6:08 pm | Permalink

      OK – so I didn’t need the scientific research after all.
      That was tough, Mr. T – really, really tough. Had it not been one of yours, I doubt I’d have soldiered on to the end.
      Last one in was 7a – should have known you’d get the innuendo in there somewhere!
      No doubt it’s in the BRB but I wasn’t very keen on the definition at 12a – bit of a stretch?
      I’ll go along with the popular choice of 3d for favourite although 2d did make me smile.

      Devotions as always to Beam/Mr. T and many thanks to Bufo for the excellent blog, despite your description of the 5d bird making me cringe a bit!

      • Expat Chris
        Posted December 3, 2015 at 6:27 pm | Permalink

        Devotions, indeed. I was just thinking this morning that RayT is like a favorite teacher, the one you put in extra effort for just to please.

        • Jane
          Posted December 3, 2015 at 6:36 pm | Permalink

          How true, Chris. I definitely need a lie-down in a darkened room now!

        • Kath
          Posted December 3, 2015 at 10:38 pm | Permalink

  5. Hanni
    Posted December 3, 2015 at 5:00 pm | Permalink


    Difficult. In fact had I not taken CS’s advice and treated like a RayT back page, I don’t think I’d have finished. I still needed the hints to untangle a few. Also agree about the NW corner. That took me longer than the rest of the puzzle by a long way. Even worse that I’ve climbed pretty much all the big Scottish mountains referenced in 10a and still struggled with that one. Oh and I forgot the 25a word.

    But a great solve with all his usual trademarks.

    Many thanks to Beam and to Bufo for blogging.

  6. andy
    Posted December 3, 2015 at 5:42 pm | Permalink

    Second day in a row perimeter all unchecked , making the NW with many checkers vowels a bit harder than the other quadrants, for me anyway. Lots of ticks but I’ll plump for 3d. Thanks to Bufo and Beam

    • jean-luc cheval
      Posted December 3, 2015 at 11:48 pm | Permalink

      hi andy,
      talking of vowels, how do you pronounce LIEA ?

      • andy
        Posted December 4, 2015 at 3:22 pm | Permalink

        I was told to pronounce it Layer when I rescued her as that what was she was used to. (Star Wars fans may disagree as there is some debate….)

  7. crypticsue
    Posted December 3, 2015 at 5:52 pm | Permalink

    Micawber tomorrow

  8. 2Kiwis
    Posted December 3, 2015 at 5:54 pm | Permalink

    Beam at his devious best we thought. Our very last one in, and it almost took us to the point of giving up, was 14a. For some reason we had great difficulty justifying the wordplay with what we thought was the only word that met the definition. We stayed with it and the penny eventually dropped. All the trademark characteristics are there, including the clue word count. Much appreciated, much enjoyed.
    Thanks Beam and Bufo.

  9. RayT
    Posted December 3, 2015 at 6:36 pm | Permalink

    Evening all. Many thanks to Bufo for the decryption and to everybody for your observations.


    • Jane
      Posted December 3, 2015 at 6:42 pm | Permalink

      Good of you to pop in as usual, Mr. T. As we’ve all worked so hard on this one, is there any chance of you letting us off the weekend homework?

      • RayT
        Posted December 3, 2015 at 8:08 pm | Permalink

        Of course, Jane. Take it easy until next Thursday.


        • Jane
          Posted December 3, 2015 at 8:22 pm | Permalink

  10. dutch
    Posted December 3, 2015 at 8:45 pm | Permalink

    Tried to do this over lunch in a quick rush and couldn’t, much too busy today judging this weeks DIY COW clueing contest (having won gold and silver last week!). Thought I might get around to it tonight but just too tired, and I do have to make sure I can do the Micawber early tomorrow.

    Thanks Beam, I liked the bits I managed and realised from the review I was probably right to try and not let it take up too much of my time today

    Thanks Bufo for helping me feel like I haven’t missed any of the joy.

  11. Kath
    Posted December 3, 2015 at 10:46 pm | Permalink

    Oh good – not just me then with the top left corner.
    I think all my little grey cells got used up on the back page PJ leaving not enough to spare for this one – my excuse anyway.
    I ended up with most of that corner without enough answers to make getting any of the rest of them possible, if that makes any sense at all.
    I really enjoyed the rest of the crossword.
    My favourite was either 20a or 4d.
    With thanks to Beam for yet another really good crossword and to Bufo for sorting out my problem top left corner.

  12. Salty Dog
    Posted December 3, 2015 at 11:32 pm | Permalink

    Great stuff – plenty of grist to the mental mill, and some clever cluing: 3*/4*. Lots of contenders for top clue, but either 23a or 21d would fit the bill. 7a, of course, is just plain naughty! Thanks to Beam/RayT, and to Bufo for the review.