Toughie 1534

Toughie No 1534 by Beam

Hints and tips by Bufo

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

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

Another enjoyable puzzle of about average difficulty though I’ve given it an extra half-star because I ran out of steam when doing 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.


1a    Gentry appear almost vulgar taking against Conservative leader (11)
ARISTOCRACY: ‘To appear’ with the last letter removed + ‘against’ + ‘vulgar’ + C (first letter of Conservative)

9a    ‘Astarte’ mistakenly describing goddess (7)
ARTEMIS: Hidden in AstARTE
MIStakenly. I thought initially that this was going to be an anagram of Astarte and then I remembered that it’s a Beam puzzle

10a    Man weaker when distressed? (6)
SAMSON: A cryptic definition of a man who lost his strength when his tresses were cut off

12a    Official will copy gossip old boy’s penned (7)
PROBATE: The official copy of a will = ‘to gossip’ round OB (old boy)

13a    Fervent reportedly burn after transgression (7)
SINCERE: A transgression + a homophone (reportedly) of ‘to burn’

14a    Stop state terrorism’s onset (5)
AVERT: ‘To stop’ = ‘to state’ + T (first letter of Terrorism)

15a    Criminal turning over brave pretended nothing’s missing (9)
DESPERADO: A reversal (turning) of O (over), ‘to brave’, and ‘pretended’ with The letter O (nothing) removed

17a    Reveal extreme skill flipping in restaurant (9)
TRATTORIA: A reversal (flipping) of ‘to reveal’, ‘extreme’ (a 3-letter abbreviation), and skill = an Italian restaurant

20a    Drugged states producing rushes, it’s said (5)
HIGHS: A homophone of ‘rushes’ or ‘goes quickly’ hies

22a    Some property, say, rapidly changing hands (7)
CHATTEL: ‘To talk rapidly’ with R (right) replaced by L (left)

24a    Mostly fresh sailors in vessels (7)
MORTARS: ‘Fresh’ or ‘additional’ with the last letter removed + sailors = a vessel in which substances are pounded

25a    Battle of terrorists is erratically repelled (6)
RESIST: hidden in reverse in terrorisTS IS ERratically

26a    Sensitive sweetheart — drive to welcome sex returned (7)
EMOTIVE: The middle letter of swEet + ‘to drive’ (4) round a reversal of ‘sex’ (2)

27a    Scattered silver pieces sailor found among fish (11)
FRAGMENTARY: The atomic symbol for silver + chess pieces + sailor inside young fishes


2d    Bank‘s ruse preceding ruin brought up (7)
RAMPART: A defensive bank = a reversal (brought up) of a ruse or trick and ‘to ruin’

3d    One hangs revolutionary South American up outside prison (9)
SUSPENDER: A reversal (up) of ‘revolutionary’, S (south) and US (American) round a prison

4d    Last of hops put in grain kilns (5)
OASTS: S (last letter of hopS) inside grain = kilns for drying hops

5d    Fabulous bird snares chap with eye-opening charm (7)
ROMANCE: An enormous bird of Arabian legend round a chap + E (first letter of Eye)

6d    Disorder around opening time sharing butt of ale (7)
CHOLERA: A disorder affecting the small intestine = a one-letter abbreviation denoting ‘around’ + an opening + a long time. The last letter of the opening is the same as the first letter of the time and this letter (E = the last letter of alE) is shared in the answer

7d    With rising hit, worth accepting group’s wrongdoing (11)
MALPRACTICE: A reversal (rising) of ‘to hit’ + ‘worth’ round a group (of musicians)

8d    Tried to keep right in range (6)
STROVE: R (right) in a range used for cooking

11d    Got back in clothes, topless, clothing body (11)
REPOSSESSED: ‘In clothes’ with the first letter removed goes round a body of constables

16d    Most ingratiating hosts in small, manservant’s housing (9)
SMARMIEST: Hosts (large numbers) in S (small) and the first and last letters (housing) of ManservanT

18d    Lay person consumed for love in affair (7)
AMATEUR: Take a love affair (5) and replace O (love) by ‘consumed’ (3)

19d    Doing addition, carrying about two initially (7)
TOTTING: ‘Carrying’ round T (first letter of Two)

20d    Nurse with occasion to hold some underwear up (7)
HARBOUR: An occasion round a reversal of an item of ladies’ underwear

21d    Pregnant girl regularly hungry (6)
GRAVID: Alternate letters of GiRl + ‘hungry’

23d    Pliable explosive’s first ignited (5)
LITHE: ‘Ignited’ + high explosive

2016 has been good so far


  1. jean-luc cheval
    Posted January 14, 2016 at 4:10 pm | Permalink

    Really thought I was playing Lego when solving.
    Maybe a no anagram rule is respectable, it makes some of the constructions a bit of a slog.
    The synonyms used are often a tad remote like “mostly fresh” in 24a or the “group” in 7d.
    But among these I did like the trattoria in 17a.
    Liked also 12a and 21d for their surface.
    10a takes the podium.
    Thanks to Beam and to Bufo.

  2. Miffypops
    Posted January 14, 2016 at 4:11 pm | Permalink

    Just what I needed when my grandson went to sleep. A nice Beam puzzle to while away the time. Just inside Toughie territory. Thanks Ray T. Thanks Bufo.

  3. halcyon
    Posted January 14, 2016 at 4:42 pm | Permalink

    The usual stuff from Beam: sex [26a] drugs [20a] and perhaps even some rock n roll [7d]. All very enjoyable, with 16d and [last one in] 6d my favourites.

    Thanks to Beam and Bufo for the blog.

  4. Expat Chris
    Posted January 14, 2016 at 5:09 pm | Permalink

    A steady, albeit not fast, solve for me. A good part of the time was taken in sorting out the complete parsing. I failed to do this for 1A,and I’m afraid I’m still not clear after reading the hint. My favorite is 6D, which took a while to work out and was so satisfying when I did. Thank you Beam and Bufo.

    • Gazza
      Posted January 14, 2016 at 7:34 pm | Permalink

      1a is ARIS[e] (appear almost) + RACY (vulgar) containing (taking) TO (against, as in ‘backs to the wall’) and C(onservatives).

      • Expat Chris
        Posted January 14, 2016 at 10:04 pm | Permalink

        Thanks. I had the Aris(e) and Racy, and C for Conservative but not the meaning of “to” and Bufo putting the +C at the end of his hint confused me.

        • Rabbit Dave
          Posted January 15, 2016 at 8:40 am | Permalink

          Exactly my problem too! Thanks very much to Gazza for the clarification.

  5. 2Kiwis
    Posted January 14, 2016 at 6:14 pm | Permalink

    It always amazes us when we do a Beam puzzle how the absence of anagrams lifts the difficulty level as much as it does. We actually thought initially that Ray had broken his own rule in 9a until we spotted the lurker. Not a quick solve but an enjoyable one as ever.
    Thanks Beam and Bufo.

  6. RayT
    Posted January 14, 2016 at 7:39 pm | Permalink

    Many thanks to Bufo for the decryption and to all for your comments.


    • Expat Chris
      Posted January 14, 2016 at 10:06 pm | Permalink

      And thank you for bringing a little ray of sunshine into a dull Thursday.

    • Shropshirelad
      Posted January 14, 2016 at 10:25 pm | Permalink

      Hopefully I’ll have the challenge of blogging one of your back pagers whilst Kath is gallivanting around the globe. If I do, please be gentle. Thanks for popping in.

      • andy
        Posted January 14, 2016 at 11:26 pm | Permalink

        Blimey SL you’ve got more nerve than I have. I promise to behave ;)

    • Jane
      Posted January 14, 2016 at 11:00 pm | Permalink

      Nice to hear from you, Mr. T – you were lucky to get through tonight!
      Hope you’ve booked your trip across the water to join us?!!!

    • dutch
      Posted January 15, 2016 at 1:29 am | Permalink

      Bit hard to get on the site today

      Thank you RayT, some new words for me: property (22a) and pregnant (21d).

      I liked lay person (18d), drugged state (20a), wasn’t sure about act=group in 7d. Took me a while to see the hidden in 9d, very nice. I did think a few of the multi-component wordplay clues were quite convoluted, but a lovely puzzle overall

      and thank you Bufo

  7. Gazza
    Posted January 14, 2016 at 7:40 pm | Permalink

    Firefly tomorrow.

  8. Jezza
    Posted January 14, 2016 at 8:51 pm | Permalink

    Despite parsing 17a correctly, I managed to misspell it when putting pen to paper, which left me with 19d unfinished.
    Apart from that, a very enjoyable puzzle; many thanks to Beam, and to Bufo.

  9. Shropshirelad
    Posted January 14, 2016 at 10:13 pm | Permalink

    Really enjoyed today’s puzzle but have been unable to comment until now due to the problems getting on the site. Thanks to Beam for the puzzle and for putting in an appearance – it’s always appreciated. Thanks also to Bufo for his review.

  10. Salty Dog
    Posted January 14, 2016 at 10:16 pm | Permalink

    I made an mistake by putting in “malefaction” for 7d, which made 12a and 22a more difficult than they should have been. Until then this felt like 2* difficulty. As it is, 3*/3.5* or thereabouts, and favourite clue 6d. Thanks to Beam, and Bufo.

  11. Jane
    Posted January 14, 2016 at 10:39 pm | Permalink

    Finished just before I ran out of scribbling space on the page – another Beam bites the dust!
    Had difficulty justifying ‘more’ = ‘fresh’ and missed the hidden in 25a which left me unable to parse that one.
    Top three were 20a +3&6d.
    Devotions to Mr. T and many thanks to Bufo for tidying it all up for me.

    • Rabbit Dave
      Posted January 15, 2016 at 8:43 am | Permalink

      Me too with “more” = “fresh”!

  12. Rabbit Dave
    Posted January 15, 2016 at 8:45 am | Permalink

    3*/4*. This was a highly enjoyable and nicely challenging solve.

    Many thanks to Ray T and to Bufo.