Toughie 1590

Toughie No 1590 by Beam

Hints and tips by Bufo

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

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

So we didn’t get a special birthday crossword today which is a pity. I was looking forward to a puzzle based on the life and times of Big Dave. Maybe next year! This puzzle provided a slow and steady solve which needed plenty of thought. It drifted into the 4* difficulty zone though I feel that on another day I might have done it more quickly.

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    Changes plug when protecting point (6)
ADAPTS: A plug (bit of publicity) + ‘when’ round (protecting) an abbreviation for ‘point’

5a    Stuck time and time again, initially back hurt (8)
ATTACHED: A reversal (back) of the initial letters of Time, Time and Again + ‘hurt’

9a    Cross cool redhead over mate pinching fabulous bird (10)
RECIPROCAL: ‘Cross’ or ‘interchanged’ = a reversal (over) of ‘to cool’ and R (first letter or head of Red) + a mate round a fabulous bird

10a    Load of old paper rejected (4)
ONUS: A load or burden = O (old) + a reversal (rejected) of the name of a tabloid newspaper

11a    Amphitheatre‘s unfinished pillar outside rises endlessly (8)
COLISEUM: A pillar with the last letter removed goes round the middle three letters of rISEs. ‘Endlessly’ here means with both ends removed

12a    Starts to shut lids expecting easy peaceful slumber (6)
SLEEPS: Initial letters of Shut Lids Expecting Easy Peaceful Slumber. The whole clue acts as the definition

13a    Occasionally happy seen in part of church (4)
APSE: Alternate letters of hApPy SeEn

15a    In a ferment, inclined to pen vacuous verse (8)
LEAVENED: ‘Inclined’ round the first and last letters of VersE

18a    Officers‘ abuse about Frenchman in retreat (8)
GENERALS: A reversal (in retreat) of ‘to abuse’ round a French masculine forename

19a    Girlfriend perhaps making trifle, flipping sweetheart (4)
DATE: A reversal (flipping) of a trifle or small quantity + E (the middle letter or heart of swEet)

21a    Sailor about to finish after crew’s chant (6)
MANTRA: ‘To crew’ (3) + a sailor with the letter A (about) moved to the end

23a    Butcher‘s turning innocent, caught chopping horse (8)
MASSACRE: A reversal (turning) of an innocent or idiot and C (caught) inside a female horse = ‘to butcher’

25a    Swallow, tailless bird with power (4)
GULP: A seabird with the last letter removed (tailless) + P (power)

26a    Running, nearly stumble, clutching ointment (10)
FUNCTIONAL: ‘Stumble’ (4) with the last letter removed round ‘ointment’ (7)

27a    Horses without means to continue race? (8)
GELDINGS: A cryptic definition of male horses that have had bits removed and are now of no use on a stud farm

28a    Natural cordial, hot almost to the end (6)
EARTHY: Take a word meaning ‘cordial’ and move the letter H (hot) from the first to the penultimate position


2d    Possibly Maradona‘s pass leading game (5)
DIEGO: The first name of Senor Maradona = ‘to pass’ + a traditional Chinese board game

3d    Right gear boxing low in exercise (9)
PRIVILEGE: A right granted or enjoyed by an individual or a select few = ‘gear’ round ‘low’ or ‘base’ inside an abbreviation denoting ‘exercise’

4d    Cry of one eaten by ogre (6)
SHRIEK: I (one) inside a green ogre that has featured in several Disney films

5d    Acts roughly about remarks about loveless refinement (15)
ACCOMPLISHMENTS: A reversal (about) of a 2-letter abbreviation denoting ‘roughly’ + ‘remarks’ (8) round ‘refinement’ (6) with the letter O (love) removed

6d    Charm of Neandertal is manliness (8)
TALISMAN: Hidden in NeanderTAL IS MANliness

7d    Line complete following carbon copy (5)
CLONE: The atomic symbol for carbon + L (line) + ‘complete’ = a copy (e.g. of Dolly the sheep)

8d    Heartless enjoyment about joke over blokes making tackle (9)
EQUIPMENT: The first and last letters of EnjoymenT round ‘joke’ and ‘blokes’

14d    Natural to grab rising circus artist too early (9)
PREMATURE: ‘Natural’ (4) goes round a reversal (rising) of a circus artist (usually associated with lions)

16d    Try continually to be outspoken on purpose (9)
ENDEAVOUR: A purpose (3) + a homophone (outspoken) of ‘continually’

17d    Expedition, if far apart, returned carrying fuel (8)
PARAFFIN: Hidden in reverse in ExpeditioN, IF FAR APart

20d    Fly tested twice, oddly (6)
TSETSE: The odd letters of TeStEd appear twice

22d    Drunk‘s stash turned up (5)
TOPED: ‘Drunk’ or ‘had a lot to drink’ is a reversal (turned up) of a stash or storehouse

24d    Get to behave hard for leader of Tories (5)
REACH: Take a word meaning ‘to behave’ and replace T (first letter of Tories) by H (hard)

Very enjoyable


  1. Jezza
    Posted April 21, 2016 at 2:10 pm | Permalink

    I did not find this one too difficult to solve, but the wordplay took me longer to understand. The second half of 21a had me baffled for a while, as did 16d (purpose=end, but on purpose in a down clue implies end is at the bottom not the top – or am I completely wrong? :) )
    Very enjoyable – favourite has to be 4d because it made me laugh out load.
    Many thanks to Beam and to Bufo for the review.

    • dutch
      Posted April 21, 2016 at 2:12 pm | Permalink

      yes, i think you’re right about 16d!

    • Gazza
      Posted April 21, 2016 at 2:16 pm | Permalink

      I agree with you about 16d. I have a very big cross beside it on my printed copy.

    • Jezza
      Posted April 21, 2016 at 2:16 pm | Permalink

      oops.. typo.. laugh out loud :)

  2. dutch
    Posted April 21, 2016 at 2:10 pm | Permalink

    The poor horses (27a)! clever clue.
    12a also appealed, reading it had a soporific effect.
    Smiles from 4d & 20d
    took a while to see how the sailor worked in 21a.
    Dizzy from all the reversing
    Had to check innocent in 23a, but nothing else to scare the horses – well…

    Many thanks Beam and many thanks Bufo – indeed, would have been great to have a birthday puzzle today all about the life and times of BD, lulz.

    Congratulations BD!

  3. Rabbit Dave
    Posted April 21, 2016 at 2:17 pm | Permalink

    I agree with Bufo’s rating of 4*/4*. This was challenging and excellent fun – a great antidote to what I found to be a slightly disappointing back-pager today. No doubt 16d will have Kath reaching for the tissues.

    Many thanks to Beam, and to Bufo particularly for the parsing of 5d & 23a which eluded me.

  4. halcyon
    Posted April 21, 2016 at 2:26 pm | Permalink

    Quite a struggle. His trademarks of single words and no anagrams always make Beam puzzles tricky. This one not helped by failing to solve 5d until quite late on. Plenty of neat and/or amusing clues of which my picks are 21a [sailor about to finish] 27a [lol] and 24d.

    Many thanks to Beam and to Bufo for the blog.

  5. Kath
    Posted April 21, 2016 at 2:54 pm | Permalink

    I’d say 4* for both difficulty and enjoyment too.
    There were several that I never did manage to untangle so thanks to Bufo for those – too many for me to admit to.
    11a was an unfamiliar spelling so that put a spanner in the works for a while i.e. until I had the sense to look it up.
    Spent too long thinking that the ‘Butcher’s’ in 23a was something to do with Cockney rhyming slang.
    2d Maradona was, needless to say, a mystery so thanks to the nice Mr Google.
    My favourite was 4d – can’t think of that particular ogre without laughing.
    Thanks to Beam and to Bufo.

  6. Expat Chris
    Posted April 21, 2016 at 2:57 pm | Permalink

    A slow solve for me, and I admit to resorting to crossword solver for 5D and 27A (my first answer was headless! Wrong part of the anatomy.) . Definitely needed the blog to parse 23A…that 3-letter word for innocent is new to me. 9A is my top pick. Thanks to Beam and Bufo.

  7. Hanni
    Posted April 21, 2016 at 4:18 pm | Permalink

    Gosh I do find Beam tricky and this was no exception. But fun all the way.

    Plenty of figuring out why some answers were correct inc 11a, 21a, 23a and 8d.

    Really enjoyed 4d, 8d, 20d and 27a (yes poor horses indeed, I’ve seen it done a few times, unpleasant but necessary), favourite goes to 12a.

    Many thanks to Beam and to Bufo for a great blog. Add me to a list that would have loved a “Life and Times of BD” puzzle. Like the time the answers read ‘Big’ ‘Dave’ ‘Hanley’ ‘Swan’…or something like that.

  8. jean-luc cheval
    Posted April 21, 2016 at 4:59 pm | Permalink

    Had problems reconciling Cross=Reciprocal in 9a and Low=Live in 3d. Ordered Chambers 13th edition on Amazon. Finally.
    Liked 27a.
    Thanks to Beam and to Bufo for the review.

    • Jane
      Posted April 21, 2016 at 5:38 pm | Permalink

      Hi JL,
      Think you’ll find that ‘low’ = ‘vile’.

      • jean-luc cheval
        Posted April 22, 2016 at 12:34 am | Permalink

        Hi Jane,
        Can’t believe I actually wrote Prilivege! I think I need a break.

  9. crypticsue
    Posted April 21, 2016 at 5:29 pm | Permalink

    Sparks tomorrow

    • Hanni
      Posted April 21, 2016 at 5:39 pm | Permalink

      Goodygoodygoody! No chance I’ll spot the Nina mind.

    • dutch
      Posted April 21, 2016 at 6:38 pm | Permalink

      and it will have double unches

      • Hanni
        Posted April 21, 2016 at 8:09 pm | Permalink

        Oh yes…forgot about them.

      • andy
        Posted April 22, 2016 at 1:06 pm | Permalink

        14 of them :)

  10. Posted April 21, 2016 at 5:31 pm | Permalink

    After last Thursday’s back pager, I think I have to be careful what I say …

    I’m very satisfied because while this was not easy, I didn’t need any external help with either filling the grid or explaining my answers. It was all very enjoyable and well worth the effort. Lots of pleasurable moments: 12a, 25a, 27a (last one in, and I wasn’t enjoying it at all – until it clicked), 4d, 6d and 14d.

    Smiled too at 11a because I’ll be enjoying a show at The London 11a next month.

    I too had a question mark over the on in 16d. Also had to consider carefully the ass in 23a.

    Not wanting to speak too soon, it seems my long time Toughie block has well and truly lifted after the intense education of recent weeks. I will enjoy it while it lasts…

    Many thanks to RayT for the grid and clues and to Bufo for the answers and disentanglement.

    • dutch
      Posted April 21, 2016 at 6:46 pm | Permalink

      Ain’t no going back once you’ve crossed the toughie block Rubicon

      • Kath
        Posted April 21, 2016 at 7:16 pm | Permalink

        Please could someone tell me how to cross your Toughie block? I still can’t . . . :sad:

        • dutch
          Posted April 21, 2016 at 7:49 pm | Permalink

          basically, blog them. I know you can.

          • Hanni
            Posted April 21, 2016 at 8:11 pm | Permalink

            Dutch is right, I use it as a solving device when I am stuck on a really difficult puzzle.

            • Shropshirelad
              Posted April 21, 2016 at 10:05 pm | Permalink

              And then you ask your friends to look in their BRB’s to help you out. :)

              • Hanni
                Posted April 21, 2016 at 10:08 pm | Permalink

                Very true. What would Sunday be without you and Jane checking my Mephisto/Azed words? I like to share the joy.

                And I’m very grateful.

                • Shropshirelad
                  Posted April 21, 2016 at 10:32 pm | Permalink

                  You’re welcome – how the h**l do you do a ‘smug’ face? In fact, any face? I have no ‘faces’ to click on. :(

                  • Posted April 21, 2016 at 10:44 pm | Permalink

                    It’s in the FAQs, Chuck. Number 23. :)

                  • Hanni
                    Posted April 21, 2016 at 11:10 pm | Permalink

                    I hope that I am helpful too when I have given you hints and parsed the million clues you get stuck on. :cool:

        • Posted April 21, 2016 at 10:55 pm | Permalink

          This is a long way from your original question Kath, but yes, I can confirm that the pressure of having rashly offered to blog some really concentrated my mind. It was sink or swim, and I’m still afloat to date (there is still time). Nothing like a little terror to show a person what they are made of…

          • dutch
            Posted April 22, 2016 at 1:01 pm | Permalink

            kitty you’ve gone all blue

            • Posted April 22, 2016 at 2:00 pm | Permalink

              It seemed fitting.

              (The red was only meant to be temporary. I changed it when I was in an angry mood. Red is not a colour I often choose, and I quite liked the change. But blue is more me.)

  11. Jane
    Posted April 21, 2016 at 5:34 pm | Permalink

    Never easy but always worth the effort.
    As others have said, it took ages to work out the ‘sailor’ in 21a and the ‘innocent’ in 23a.
    Missed the reverse hidden in 17d for a stupid length of time, despite realising what the answer had to be.
    Took ‘drunk’ to be a noun, which meant I had ‘toper’ for the answer – ‘pot’ parsed well enough but left me with HM floating about at the end. Also made 27a rather interesting for a while.
    Got there in the end and there were plenty of worthy contenders for title of favourite – but it just has to be 4d.

    Devotions to the Beaming Mr. T and many thanks to Bufo for tying up the loose ends.

    • Kath
      Posted April 21, 2016 at 7:20 pm | Permalink

      Yes – me too with 22d but I never had the wit to sort it out which meant that I couldn’t do 27a.
      I vaguely thought that if I ‘repot’ something that I might ‘stash’ it – hmm – maybe not then. Oh dear

  12. RayT
    Posted April 21, 2016 at 6:50 pm | Permalink

    Many thanks to Bufo for the review and to all for your comments. Always appreciated.


    • Jane
      Posted April 21, 2016 at 6:54 pm | Permalink

      Hi Mr. T — good to ‘see’ you again. Thank you for another great Beam – still laughing over 4d!

    • dutch
      Posted April 21, 2016 at 7:50 pm | Permalink

      thanks RayT for dropping in – always brightens things up

  13. 2Kiwis
    Posted April 21, 2016 at 7:46 pm | Permalink

    We needed a bit of searching through BRB to get the ASS part of 23a and a bit of juggling to sort out the sailor in 21a. Doing a Beam puzzle always reminds us of how much we generally use anagrams and multi-word answers as entry points in puzzles, we appreciate their absence for the extra challenge. The word count is all in order again today. Good fun.
    Thanks Beam and Bufo.

  14. Salty Dog
    Posted April 21, 2016 at 8:25 pm | Permalink

    Pretty stiff, I thought, although in terms of time taken I made it 3*. Call it 3.5* for both difficulty and enjoyment. 7d and 16d vie for top clue status. I confess to several lucky guesses and a measure of electronic assistance, so happily concede Beam’s superiority on this occasion. Thanks to him for the exercise, and to Bufo for confirming the aforementioned guesses.

  15. Wolfson Bear
    Posted April 21, 2016 at 9:00 pm | Permalink

    I always love a RayT puzzle and have for some months had a sneaking suspicion that (sadly) his output had been gently tending towards easier puzzles. This was a nice puzzle that was not easy and not hard – I would have gone for 3* difficulty but Mr T is a compiler I lock onto fairly readily.

    Its been a good toughie week so far and with a Sparks finale it should be a good week all told. Sparks is a compiler I lock onto slowly, (usually) eventually do and then enjoy

  16. Shropshirelad
    Posted April 21, 2016 at 10:14 pm | Permalink

    A very enjoyable puzzle that, I’m afraid, wasn’t as difficult (for me) as the back pager. There were some real stunners in the clue construct, surfaces and humour. My only ‘disconcerting’ moment was with 21a – I thought we were on dodgy territory there with a ‘ghost ‘ anagram. Having looked at it again, I can now see the word play – but it did look a bit dodgy at first. Well done Mr T.

    Thanks to ‘aforementioned’ setter for the puzzle and to Bufo for his review.

  17. Jon_S
    Posted April 21, 2016 at 10:34 pm | Permalink

    The RHS went in in no time at all, but the rest took quite a lot longer. 5d held out until the bitter end, even with all the checking letters, convinced as I was that the definition was ‘refinement’.

  18. jaehancock
    Posted April 21, 2016 at 11:21 pm | Permalink

    Great puzzle, excellent hints and amusing comments, as always. I often drop in to view this excellent site, though haven’t commented for a very long time – mostly because I’m in awe of the setters and the people who manage to finish the toughies (and frequently feel quite stupid in comparison).

    However, as I did manage to complete this toughie (small leap of joy), I’m going to venture the opinion that I particularly loved 4d and 27a.

    Thanks to all for making this such a valuable site to triers like me.

    • Posted April 21, 2016 at 11:33 pm | Permalink

      Yay – well done! This site is all about helping “triers” like you … though I think I’d prefer to call you an “improver.” :yes:

      Certainly there is no need to feel in awe of any of us, and no need at all to feel stupid.

    • Hanni
      Posted April 21, 2016 at 11:37 pm | Permalink

      I do hope you comment more…and well done. :-)

      • jaehancock
        Posted April 22, 2016 at 12:05 am | Permalink

        Thank you both very much (Kitty and Hanni) for your encouraging comments. I will endeavour to improve indeed.

  19. Sue Newbitt
    Posted April 22, 2016 at 7:55 am | Permalink

    My Toughie-solving abilities must be improving as I managed all but about 5 without assistance – yay! It always amazes me that I can work through all the Across clues and only get one or two, but eventually manage to build on those few letters, though a few months ago I wouldn’t have a scooby-doo. (Quite a few are guesswork, mind, so the online version is a real blessing in terms of corrections *blush*)

    Many many thanks for the blog, without which the remaining clues would forever be a mystery to me!

    • Posted April 22, 2016 at 7:59 am | Permalink

      Welcome to the blog Sue

      Congratulations – you will soon be finishing them without our help.