Toughie 1654

Toughie No 1654 by Beam

Hints and tips by Bufo

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

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

The NW and SE corners went in without too much difficulty but then I struggled with the other two corners (although I did miss a couple of gimmes which would have got me going on them). I think I enjoyed the usual Beam challenge of single-word answers, short clues and total lack of anagrams.

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    Critical remark expressed about current lesson (8)
TUTORIAL: An exclamation of mild disapprobation (3) + ‘expressed’ or ‘spoken’ (4) round I (current)

5a    Swift reverse exit, all empty road (6)
STREET: First and last letters of SwifT ReversE ExiT

9a    Sparkling fizzy drink one’s imbibed — then died (8)
SPIRITED: A brand of lemon-and-lime flavoured fizzy drink round I (one) + D (died)

10a    Delicate low-down check, tense at start (6)
GENTLE: Low-down or information + a check with the letter T (tense) moved to the front

12a    Height of ecstasy accepting heartless valentine back (9)
ELEVATION: Ecstasy round a reversal of VE (first and last letters of ValentinE)

13a    Men with love for power creating anarchy (5)
CHAOS: ‘Men’ with P (power) replaced by O (love)

14a    With pressure removed, swimmer makes wild party (4)
ORGY: Remove P (power) from a kind of fish

16a    In shorter supply, such air’s clear, oddly (7)
SCARCER: Alternate letters of SuCh AiR‘s ClEaR

19a    China is sure to take over neighbour? (7)
RUSSIAN: Hidden in reverse in ChiNA IS SURe

21a    Wife and husband admitting sex together (4)
WITH: W (wife) and H (husband) round ‘sex’

24a    Casanova’s first libertine to follow bird (5)
CRAKE: The first letter of Casanova + a libertine

25a    Question Church and State adopting constitution at last (9)
CHALLENGE: An abbreviation for ‘Church’ + ‘to state’ round N (last letter of constitutioN)

27a    The French tweeter’s flipping sensual (6)
ANIMAL: A reversal (flipping) of the French word for ‘the’ and a bird which can be taught to imitate human speech

28a    Dress up small vocal characters trailing princess (8)
DISGUISE: A princess + S (small) + a homophone (vocal) of characters or people

29a    Johnny’s off? (6)
ROTTEN: The surname adopted by the punk rocker Johnny

30a    On credit money’s not all there (8)
CRACKERS: CR (credit) + a slang term for money


1d    Expert of say, tea plant? (6)
TASTER: The letter that sounds like ‘tea’ + a flower = someone who might be an expert on tea

2d    Support boss supporting Tory leader (6)
TRIVET: A support with three legs = T (first letter of Tory) + boss. I wrote this answer in without thinking too much about it but now I’m not convinced by the ‘boss’

3d    Rather an Indian tandoori accompaniment initially (5)
RAITA: First letters of Rather An Indian Tandoori Accompaniment

4d    Convenience, gents in first-class, thankfully vacant (7)
AMENITY: ‘Gents’ in ‘first-class’ + the first and last letters of ThankfullY

6d    Penetrating cry following split, bottom to top (9)
TRENCHANT: A split with the last letter moved to the front + ‘cry’

7d    Charm has worked for one in allure (8)
ENTRANCE: ‘To charm’ = ‘to allure’ with I (one) replaced by ‘has worked’

8d    Time’s comfort missing first small pet (8)
TREASURE: T (time) + ‘to comfort’ with a letter S (small) removed = pet (as a term of endearment)

11d    Pink skin around tattoos (4)
INKS: Hidden in pINK Skin

15d    State again raised European bank charge (9)
REITERATE: A reversal (raised) of E (European) and a bank + a charge

17d    Amateur artist-turned-rapper’s musical (8)
ARMCHAIR: A reversal of an abbreviation denoting an artist + an abbreviation denoting a rapper with a role in hip-hop culture + the title of a rock musical first performed in 1967

18d    Writer‘s block not beginning to block phrase (8)
ESSAYIST: This was my last one in and the one that gave me the biggest parsing problem. It must be ‘to block’ (6) with the first letter removed round ‘to phrase’ (3)

20d    Prison then go off with / form (4)
NICK: 3 meanings: prison/to go off with or steal/form (as ‘in good ****’)

21d    More attentive grasping sweetheart’s comparatively bored (7)
WEARIER: ‘More attentive’ round E (the middle letter of swEet)

22d    Hip measurement reportedly cut (6)
INCISE: ‘Hip’ or ‘trendy’ + a homophone (reportedly) of ‘measurement’ = ‘to cut’

23d    Beginning of stag party escalated in bars (6)
LEVERS: A reversal (escalated) of S (first letter of Stag) and a riotous party = bars which turn on fulcrums (or fulcra if you prefer it)

26d    Look good in charge showing sense (5)
LOGIC: ‘Look!’ + G (good) + IC (in charge)

I found it hard work


  1. crypticsue
    Posted August 11, 2016 at 2:07 pm | Permalink | Reply

    A proper Toughie – on a Thursday? – whatever next?

    Definitely a corner by corner puzzle and I found the top half easier than the bottom 5*/4* from me – with the award for gold medal going to 1d

    Thanks to the two Bs

  2. Una
    Posted August 11, 2016 at 2:19 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Really really hard. I made loads of mistakes.Thanks Buffo for straightening everything out .If it hadn’t been for this blog , I would have given up a lot sooner.
    Thanks Beam for a puzzle beyond my ability, so far.Upwards and onwards. Or upwords and onwords.

  3. jean-luc cheval
    Posted August 11, 2016 at 2:20 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Really appreciated this crossword.
    Nice combination of clues apart from 7d maybe as the synonyms are a bit too close for comfort. (entrance = entice = charm = allure).
    25a ( Question church) favourite for it’s topicality in France at the moment.
    Thanks to Beam and to Bufo for the review.

  4. Posted August 11, 2016 at 2:26 pm | Permalink | Reply

    I got going more quickly than usual for a Beam, who I’m happy to see is continuing his current run of extra cheekiness. Keep it up!

    For a while, I was actually thinking that this might be my wish of a “Light Beam” puzzle materialising, ready and waiting for the Tuesday slot … but no! Predictably, it got considerably harder.

    I couldn’t explain my answer to 10a because I was stuck on the first three letters being the tense. I had my hands full on the left hand side and resorted to quite a bit of button pressing to speed things up there.

    Too many likes to list, but on the podium are 21a and 27a, with 29a riding high on top.

    Many thanks to that Beamish boy for the fun and to Bufo for shedding light on it all.

    • Verlaine
      Posted August 11, 2016 at 3:32 pm | Permalink | Reply

      But GEN Is a case not a tense! *classicistically shocked*

      • Posted August 11, 2016 at 3:48 pm | Permalink | Reply

        Yes. :oops:

        I quite understand if you want to have nothing more to do with me.

  5. Expat Chris
    Posted August 11, 2016 at 2:27 pm | Permalink | Reply

    NW and SE were first to complete for me also, followed by the NE. But I struggled mightily with the SW corner until I erased what I’m embarrassed to say I had penciled in for 29A and looked at it afresh. Eventually I was left with 17D and I had to admit defeat on that one. I must say that I’ve heard of the word in conjunction with quarterback but never as a stand-alone synonym. Oh, well. My tops are 5A and 19A (because it took for ever for me to twig). Thanks to Beam and to Bufo for the review.

  6. JB
    Posted August 11, 2016 at 3:12 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Really hard. I managed about three quarters of it. Like you, I really do not think “boss” is a synonym for “rivet”.
    29a? I never thought of a punk rocker. Least said I think!
    Anyway, I’ve enjoyed the brain teasing but, if this is Thursday, what on earth do we expect for Friday?!
    Thanks to the 2 B’s

  7. Verlaine
    Posted August 11, 2016 at 3:31 pm | Permalink | Reply

    I will agree with others who found this really quite hard – not because anything individually was too difficult (thought 10a took ages to parse), but because almost nothing was helped by having a few crossers – all very generic letters in vanilla type words. I have to say I do prefer a bit more “colour” myself… but the clues did make up for it, especially 17d, relevant to most of my interests. Thanks Beam & Bufo.

  8. Jane
    Posted August 11, 2016 at 4:12 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Not had long to work on this and am currently bogged down in the SW and missing some of the parsing of 10a.
    Back later!

    • Jane
      Posted August 11, 2016 at 5:58 pm | Permalink | Reply

      All done! Slow to register let = check and to find the hidden in 19a. As for 17d – I steer well clear of rap music so had to consult Mr. Google about suitable candidates.
      11d had me worried for a while – least said about that the better.
      Impossible as ever to choose a favourite from a Mr. T puzzle but, like Kitty, I do love his innuendo.

      Beaming devotion across the Channel to you, Mr. T and many thanks to Bufo for confirmation of the parsing.

  9. halcyon
    Posted August 11, 2016 at 4:31 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Awful grid – essentially 4 little puzzles. I may be the only one who found the NW hardest but seem not to be the only one to cry foul about 2d. The head of a rivet may look “boss-like” but that does not make them synonyms.
    But some nice clues – among them the neat 13a, the clever 1d and the witty 17d [come to think of it a rap version of Hair might be an improvement.]

    Thanks to Beam and to Bufo for the blog.

  10. upthecreek
    Posted August 11, 2016 at 5:48 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Many thanks to RayT for a very interesting puzzle with no anagrams. So many different types of clue. Favourite was 1d but 7 11 17 19 22 23 27 28 29 [nudge nudge] and 30 were also very good. I really like Ray Beam puzzles as I always have a good laugh as the humour is always there. What happened to the Queen today?

  11. Gazza
    Posted August 11, 2016 at 5:54 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Osmosis tomorrow.

  12. Miffypops
    Posted August 11, 2016 at 6:47 pm | Permalink | Reply

    I have the top half of this wonderful puzzle complete and nine to go in the bottom half but will have to leave it to go out. The usual cussed stuff from Beam which floats my boat. Exactly the right number of anagrams today. thanks to Bufo whom I will need to explain the last three letters of 10ac. Thanks to Ray/beam.

  13. Salty Dog
    Posted August 11, 2016 at 6:48 pm | Permalink | Reply

    I thought I was on track for something like 3* time, but ran into the sand in the SW corner and had to resort to 6 of the above hints. I think it was more the after-effects of getting to bed at about 0200 after a wedding in Canterbury yesterday, than extreme difficulty in cluing, but I’m very happy to give the setter best. Call it 4.5*/3*, and my favourite was the (easy but amusing) 30a. Thanks to Ray T/Beam and Bufo.

  14. RayT
    Posted August 11, 2016 at 7:14 pm | Permalink | Reply

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


    • Jane
      Posted August 11, 2016 at 7:40 pm | Permalink | Reply

      Thank you for popping in, Mr. T – much appreciated, as always.
      Keep up the good work!

  15. 2Kiwis
    Posted August 11, 2016 at 7:31 pm | Permalink | Reply

    The SW corner and the pesky 1d were where we ran on to the rocks. However the investment of considerable time and determination did see us safely across the finishing line. Lots and lots of favourites to keep us smiling and chuckling. Thumbs up again on the clue word count.
    Thanks Beam and Bufo

  16. andy
    Posted August 11, 2016 at 10:24 pm | Permalink | Reply

    What crypticsue said, but as is always with beam I am the slowest solver ever and even slower parser, doesn’t detract from the enjoyment though

  17. Hanni
    Posted August 11, 2016 at 10:49 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Having to solve very sporadically at the moment…but this is being put to the (almost) top of the pile. Very much looking forward to it :smile:

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