Toughie 1622 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 1622

Toughie No 1622 by Beam

Hints and tips by Bufo

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

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

I often struggle with Beam puzzles and this time I was well down the second cup of coffee before I’d filled the grid and then I spent a lot more time trying to parse some of the answers. This parsing time accounts for the extra half star in the difficulty rating. I didn’t enjoy it anywhere near as much as I usually enjoy (a) Beam puzzles and (b) difficult puzzles. I’ll be interested to see what others made of it.

Please leave a comment telling us what you thought.


1a    Surprise fat pig eating middle of burger (11)
FLABBERGAST: ‘To surprise or confound” = excess body fat + a pig round the middle two letters of buRGer

10a    Interminable vocal tirade’s empty harangue (5)
ORATE: ‘Vocal’ with the last letter removed + the first and last letters of TiradE = ‘to harangue’

11a    King in support employing vessel’s English pirate (9)
PRIVATEER: Put R (king) inside a support of an arch or bridge. The put the result round a large vessel or tank and E (English)

12a    Gladiator‘s axe with handle cut, cut by slice (9)
SPARTACUS: I spent ages considering the wordplay for this and have also had input from BD and Gazza. We all come up with the following explanation though nobody likes it. ‘To axe or fire’ (4) with the last letter removed + ‘to handle’ (3) with the last letter removed round a slice. I hope someone can come up with something better

13a    Released zombies, perhaps each taken by one (5)
UNDID: Take a 6-letter adjective or noun descriptive of zombies and replace EA (each) by I (one)

14a    First woman carrying fine daughter’s excited (6)
EVOKED: The first woman in the Bible round ‘fine’ + D (daughter) = excited or aroused

16a    Bond‘s keen to protect Ian Fleming’s ends (8)
LIGAMENT: ‘To keen’ or ‘to wail over the dead’ round IG (the first and last letters of Ian FleminG)

18a    Nearly dates male missing gear for bed (8)
NIGHTIES: ‘Nearly’ + dates with the letter M (male) removed = items worn in bed

20a    Pageboy maybe kept holding single Romeo’s ring (6)
HAIRDO: A pageboy is an example of this. ‘Kept’ round I (single) and R (Romeo) + O (ring)

23a    Teeth taking time for fine bites (5)
TANGS: Take a word meaning teeth and replace F (fine) by T (time)

24a    Great aroma nicely circling over lover (9)
INAMORATA: Hidden in reverse in greAT AROMA NIcely

26a    Firm over bishop with position to secure in … (9)
OBSTINATE: O (over) + B (bishop) + a position round IN

27a    … mean exchange capturing pawn (5)
SPELL: ‘To mean’ = ‘to exchange goods for money’ round P (pawn)

28a    Say Evert scores penultimate point to end set (11)
CRYSTALLISE: A homophone of the first name of the tennis player Ms Evert + ‘scores’ with the next-to last letter (a point of the compass) put at the end of the word = ‘to set’


2d    Pack animal‘s hit bearing load unevenly (5)
LLAMA: An animal used as a pack animal in South America = ‘to hit’ inside the odd (or uneven) letters of LoAd

3d    Live round’s opening, puncturing strike explosive (7)
BREATHE: ‘To live’ = R (first letter of Round) inside ‘to strike’ + the abbreviation for high explosive

4d    Former wife’s audibly kissed on demand (6)
EXPECT: A former wife + a homophone of ‘kissed’. I’m not too taken with the definition here

5d    Challenged Government while accepting popular funding (8)
GAINSAID: G (Government) + ‘while’ (2) round ‘popular’ (2) + funding (3)

6d    This may help with clinical depression? (7)
SPATULA: A cryptic definition of a thin, flat wooden or metal instrument used in medical examinations e.g. for holding down the tongue or taking cell samples. Thanks to Mr Google for that definition

7d    Panic seeing rook, queen and knight in position (13)
CONSTERNATION: ‘To rook’ + our Queen and N (knight) inside position

8d    Mortarboard? (8)
HEADGEAR: The first half of the answer is where you wear a mortarboard and also who might wear one. I reckon that there’s two possible answers to this although one of them doesn’t appear in Chambers

9d    Lanky unknown boxes heartlessly, waves as usual (13)
TRADITIONALLY: ‘Lanky’ (4) + a letter denoting an unknown quantity round (for example) electromagnetic waves with the middle letter removed

15d    Musician up in pits in a group (8)
ORGANIST: I failed to find any wordplay here so decided that it must be a cryptic definition. I’ll be happy to be proved wrong. It’s a musician who plays an instrument found in an orchestra pit in theatres which can rise majestically to stage height for solos.

17d    Star rose oddly taking artist’s workshops (8)
SEMINARS: The odd letters of star rose round the surname of the artist famous for her bed

19d    Bird almost admits sparkling wine’s more palatable (7)
TASTIER: A bird related to the gulls with its last letter removed goes round a sparkling wine

21d    Following unending drink the French raised excitement (7)
AROUSAL: ‘To drink freely and noisily’ with the first and last letters removed + a reversal of a French word for ‘the’

22d    Brownie maybe originated with American pinching recipe (6)
CAMERA: A Brownie was a simple, early, mass-produced example of this. ‘Originated’ and A (American) round R (recipe)

25d    Helps as man’s heart has a flutter (5)
ABETS: The middle letter of mAn + ‘has a flutter (at the racecourse)’

Phew! I’m glad that’s over.

35 comments on “Toughie 1622

  1. Personally I had my ratings the other way round as displayed as I was in at least 4 star difficulty – mea culpa due to some inability to parse some of the clues for quite a while. Thanks to Bufo and Beam

    1. I agree .Andy. I meant to have it the other way round. Perhaps some kind soul can swap them for me!

  2. I found this quite hard, but I thought it was because I’d left it until the afternoon – I’m better at Toughies in the morning. Thanks to Beam for the mental exercise, and to Bufo for the blog; I never succeeded in parsing 12a, though it had to be what it was.

  3. Had to admit defeat over the parsing of both 12a&9d, wasn’t too keen on 6d and dithered over the second part of 8d, which fortunately made no difference either way. Completely missed the lurker in 15d – thank you for pointing it out, Gazza.
    Top three places go to 1a&22d plus the glorious reverse hidden in 24a.

    Devotions to Mr. T/Beam (with the odd reservation today!) and many thanks to Bufo for doing all the hard work.

  4. I found this really difficult. 1a was bunged and took so long to parse. Never did sort out 12a but the answer had to be right. Never heard of the camera in 22d so had to look that up and there were a few others I really struggled with, 8d being one of them.

    Really liked 24a but my favourite is 11a because I likes pirates.

    Many thanks to RayT and to Bufo for a cracking and needed blog.

  5. Finished just before the football with a lot of bung-ins to be parsed subsequently (shoot first think later – we used to call this the american method when we collected random film data). But I didn’t manage to parse the gladiator’s handle – i would concur with the others that that is what is has to be.

    I liked 13a (released zombies..), and 28a (since I’m an X-ray crystallographer), but I didn’t really like 16a or the long ones – they were in the think later category.

    Many thanks Beam, and many thanks Bufo for enlightening us all.

    1. You’re a ‘what’ Dutch? That doesn’t even sound like a real thing. My baby sister who is 6 plus inches taller than me is a chemical engineer. Not sure that is a real thing either.

      Edit…if you have an x-ray machine can I take it apart? Always wanted to play with with an x-ray machine.

      1. google it – i am a proud member of an elite scientific discipline that has paved the way for biological and medical understanding.

        the machines are no fun – they need maintenance

  6. This one is as bad as ProXimal’s last effort, for me.

    I see the words but cannot string them together to find a clue. Difficult.

    Why oh why do I do this to myself?!

    Here we go again – be back in three days…

  7. I didn’t like 6d at all. Mr Google pointed me erroneously towards scapula: ‘at the upper part of the fossa is a transverse depression.’ Spatula is clearly correct, but not very convincing. Overall not a particularly enjoyable outing, with no particular favourite clues. I normally appreciate Beam’s puzzles more than this one.

  8. Woohoo! I finished all by my own self ( no Googling today) and it’s not yet lunchtime. 12A was a flash of inspiration before any checkers, but the parsing utterly defeated me. Needed the review to parse 17D. I try never to think of her. I plumped for the same as Bufo in 8D and made a note of the other possibility. I have lots of ticks on my page…1A, 13A, 3D, 6D, 9D and 22D. A box 22D was my first ever camera.

    Thanks to Beam for the fun and Bufo for the review.

  9. What a brute ! I needed lots of help.
    I liked 28a , 4d , 5d , 20a among others.
    Thanks Bufo and Beam.

  10. Blimey! :phew: I suspect I may have said this before but I think there is more difference in difficulty between Ray T’s back page cryptics and his Beam Toughies than there is between those of any other setter who does both. I also suspect that the grammar in the previous sentence may have gone a bit skew-whiff.
    Completely defeated by quite a few all in the top right corner.
    I didn’t get 6d but now that I know the answer I don’t know why people don’t like it – I think it’s a clever clue.
    My favourite was 1a with 7d being a close runner-up.
    With thanks to Beam and to Bufo.

  11. Couldn’t parse 12a either.
    Always a heavy use of the thesaurus when tackling a Beam.
    BRB was used to check the Box Camera in 22d and the haircut in 20a.
    Didn’t find it that difficult though and my only minor mistake was in 6d which was rectified by 13a.
    Thanks to Beam and to Bufo for the review.

  12. Got up early again this morning to turn on the computer to find out how to parse 12a which was the only bit of the puzzle we had not sorted. Looks like we will have to wait a little longer for the man himself to enlighten us about what was intended.
    Certainly way up there for toughness but it did all yield steadily with patience and perseverance. We were very impressed with the reversed lurkers which certainly did not leap off the page at us.
    A really good challenge and really good fun.
    Thanks Beam and Bufo.

    PS. Nearly forgot. We did check the clue word count and all in order.

    1. You can’t get off that lightly Ray. After us losing all that sleep we really want to know how 12a works.
      Thanks for dropping in.

    2. OK, it’s exactly as described above. It seemed a pretty straightforward Toughie clue when I wrote it! “C’est la vie”, say the old folks, it goes to show you never can tell…


      1. The coolerator was jammed with TV dinners and ginger ale

        They bought a hifi phono and boy did they let it blast
        700 little records all rock rhythm and jazz

        Sigh – seems like yesterday

  13. Many thanks to Beam for a great puzzle.
    Favourites were the hidden words in 15 and 24, hallmark RayT clues, but there were so many great clues to mention.

  14. I’ve had a busyish day and so have had to come late. I enjoyed a lot of this but really came unstuck towards the end, with several in the east refusing to reveal themselves. The electronics helped me to get everything filled in and from there I managed to sort out nearly all of it.

    The 20a pageboy and 22d Brownie I had heard of, but they did not offer themselves up easily. Nothing helped with 6d, which was a bung-in. Like everybody else I had trouble with the gladiator’s handle (12a).

    I did see the backwards lurker in 15d … but I completely missed that in 24a. Both brilliant. I like to use 15d as a euphemism.

    I enjoyed the surface of 18a – very amusing – but the zombies shuffled past, bringing 13a into the favourite spot. Zombies always make me laugh, for reasons I cannot elaborate on here.

    I like them hard, but this was just a bit more than I could manage. I will work on my technique and try to do a better job next time.

    Many thanks to Beam for the exercise and to Bufo for shining a Ray of light.

  15. Beam is a new setter to me and I really quite enjoyed this quite tricky puzzle, apart from 8d which I definitely think could go either way. A clue that’s basically just a dodgy pun shouldn’t have any room for ambiguity in its answer at all, in my book!

    6d also took a long time to “see”, even with all the crossers, but I liked it once the penny finally did drop.

  16. Well I’ve just trudged through it, but it was a slog.

    Parsing was a nightmare, even when I had an idea/guess.

    Wouldn’t normally be explicit about a clue, but the answers are above anyway so here goes.

    My best guess at 12a: ‘spare’ (axe), ‘tag’, (handle) and ‘cut’, all shortened, next to ‘s’ for slice?

    Anyone else see that or have I finally lost the plot. Mr T?

    Thanks to all.

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