Toughie 1738 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 1738

Toughie No 1738 by Beam

Hints and tips by Bufo

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BD Rating – Difficulty **Enjoyment ***

My blogging year has started with probably the most straightforward Beam Toughie I have ever solved. I suffered no hold-ups either in solving the clues or in parsing them. It certainly brought this week’s run of tough Toughies to an end

Please leave a comment telling us what you thought.


7a    For openers, more bitter’s consumed by empty soaks (8)
STARTERS: ‘More bitter’ inside the first and last letters of SoakS

9a    Packing container holds neat opener for gift (6)
BOXING: A container (e.g. for rubbish) round neat (cattle) + the first letter of Gift

10a    Small present that’s sometimes seen around Christmas (4)
SNOW: S (small) + the present time

11a    Top clubs admitting game win’s sorry (10)
APOLOGETIC: ‘Top’ or ‘first-class’ and C (clubs) round a game played on horseback and ‘to win’

12a    Ocean floor beginning to swallow sailor (6)
SEABED: A beginning round an abbreviation denoting a sailor

14a    Cooks around fire evenly before temperature’s hottest (8)
FIERIEST: ‘Cooks in oil or fat’ round the even letters of ‘fire’ + T (temperature). At first I thought the answer might be stewiest

15a    Help to grip top for substantial food (6)
SOLIDS: A call for help round a top

17a    Propagates vegetables taking last of dung (6)
BEGETS: A Biblical word = vegetables round the last letter of dunG

20a    Left pail rotating in tree top (8)
PINNACLE: A reversal of L (left) and a pail inside a coniferous tree. Knowing that Beam doesn’t use anagrams saved me the effort of trying to unravel LEFT PAIL

22a    Magazine, one providing gossip for the audience (6)
TATLER: The title of a British glossy magazine for the wealthy is a homophone of one who gossips

23a    Characters backward in alphabet are, till informed! (10)
ILLITERATE: Hidden in reverse in ‘alphabet are till informed’. The whole clue provides the definition

24a    Clothes to show off after rejection (4)
GARB: A reversal of ‘to show off’

25a    American wise guys sharing special practices (6)
USAGES: An abbreviation denoting ‘American’ and a word meaning ‘wise guys’ share a letter S (special)

26a    Lodge in digs oddly, housing on good terms (8)
DWELLING: The odd letters of DiGs round ‘on good terms’ (4,2)


1d    Stumped by athletes going topless — crackers! (8)
STUNNERS: An abbreviation for ‘stumped’ + athletes with the first letter removed = crackers (attractive people)

2d    Feature showing line below crown of barnet? (4)
BROW: The first letter (crown) of Barnet + a line

3d    Upset person signing cheque payment (6)
REWARD: A reversal of a person signing a cheque

4d    Old and bitter, occasionally admitting one’s old (8)
OBSOLETE: O (old) and alternate letters of bitter round ‘sole’ or ‘single’

5d    Authority imprisons single blokes for trial (10)
EXPERIMENT: An authority round I (single) and blokes

6d    Cons bearing Conservative’s buffoonery (6)
ANTICS: Cons (those against) round C (Conservative)

8d    Jeers being caught out in vacant slips (6)
SCOFFS: C (caught) and ‘out’ in the first and last letters of SlipS

13d    People keeping diary about new stuff (10)
BELONGINGS: People (6) round a diary (3) round N (new) = stuff (possessions)

16d    Trim edges of delicate Cheddar with extra slice (8)
DECREASE: The first and last letters of delicate, Cheddar, extra and slice

18d    Driving train circling points (8)
STEERING: A train (e.g. of racehorses) goes round two compass points (actually one compass point twice)

19d    Show group of animals round a lake (6)
HERALD: A group of animals (e.g. cows) round A L (lake)

21d    Pill estimated to cover most sick (6)
ILLEST: Hidden in ‘pill estimated’. Chambers doesn’t give this word as the superlative form

22d    Tent top’s ends are articulated (6)
TEEPEE: Spell out the first and last letters (ends) of ToP

24d    Swallow with stopper lifted (4)
GULP: A reversal of a stopper

17 comments on “Toughie 1738

  1. Yes! The first Toughie of 2017 that didn’t have me tearing my hair out. Apart from a brief flirtation with ‘fiercest’ for 14a I had a clear run with this one and thoroughly enjoyed the journey.
    Favourite is probably 12a with 17a coming up on the rails.

    Much gratitude and devotions to Mr. T/Beam – a very happy new year to you – and thanks to Bufo for confirming all the parsing.

  2. The first “easy” Toughie of the week and the year.

    Beam does seem to make life difficult for himself by always following his self-imposed rules:
    – No anagrams
    – No clues with more than 8 words
    – Always single word solutions

    All a bit samey and monotonous in my opinion … but I’m sure that the RayT fan club will have other ideas.

  3. Agree it’s well on the easy side for Beam. Makes a change from the last two. The fact that it was quite easy isn’t connected, in this instance, to the fact that it was also more fun.

    Favourite clues were 12a [where the cunning deployment of beginning left me hunting for a 3ish letter word for floor to precede S and a sailor] and 23a which is very cleverly done.
    But, a propos Stan above, no Queen this time!

    Thanks to Beam and Bufo.

  4. Excellent stuff, 2.5*/3*.

    Loved 16d. Struggled with 14a because, although we recognised that it had to contain “ie”, got fooled by the intersecting letter ‘i’ from 5d. We just wonder if that was deliberate.

    Thanks Bufo and Beam.

  5. Well, I’ve obviously got lots of room for improvement as I found it quite Tough indeed. 24d was my first in followed by 19d .
    At least I’m not getting bored.
    Thanks to Beam and Bufo.

  6. One of those puzzles where everything slotted together smoothly after a bit of thought as distinct from those times when some of the answers are obvious with just a glance. Our first attempt at 14a was fiercest until we could not make it work. We found it satisfying and enjoyable. Word count checked as usual.
    Thanks Beam and Bufo.

      1. Me too, I’m afraid. Without 9a I came up with all sorts of words for 5d… until the penny dropped.

  7. Enjoyed this. Unlike stanXYZ, I thought there was a great variety of interesting clue types, from the repeated outer letters via articulated letter names to an all-in-one reverse hidden (my favourite). I like clues that are the right side of 8 letters.

    Excellent stuff many thanks Beam and Bufo

  8. Unlike yesterday’s puzzle, which I finally deep-sixed with seven unsolved, everything went smoothly enough apart from making a total pig’s ear of 3D ( I had demand), . My picks are 17A and my last one in 22D. Thanks Beam and Bufo.

  9. Slow going for me, but as always it looks simple now it’s done. Some crafty clues and a bit of lego to boot. ***/***
    Many thanks to Bufo and Mr T for dropping in

  10. This crossword was a refreshing break after the last two.
    Quite satisfying actually.
    The ones I stumbled on were 13d where I loved the “people keeping diary” and 14a as I took the second “ie” to be the one from the parsing.
    Favourite 22d.
    Thanks to Beam and to Bufo.

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