Toughie 1890 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 1890

Toughie No 1890 by Beam

Hints and tips by Dutch

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

I’m standing in for Bufo today. I didn’t know who the compiler was at the time of solving but I should have guessed from the maximum clue length of 8 words. I enjoyed this a lot and managed to solve it methodically, a quadrant at a time, starting in NW.

As usual, the definitions are underlined, which should be a big help in unravelling the clue. The hints explain the wordplay, and you can if you want reveal the answer by clicking on the SPOILER buttons. Please leave a comment telling us what you thought.


1a    Cross face concealing endless anguish (8)
DIAGONAL: Another word for face contains (concealing) a 5-letterword meaning anguish, without the last letter (endless)

5a    Gossip airing salacious babble and gossip initially (6)
GASBAG: An all-in-one – a first letters clue (… initially). Pity gossip is repeated

9a    Backlash from Establishment with Conservative moving right (8)
REACTION: A word for establishment with the C(onservative) moving 3 spaces to the right

10a    Macho man’s perfect score pad (6)
STUDIO: A 4-letter macho man plus a number that is a perfect score (translated into the letters it resembles)

11a    Sweet tablet twisted into spiral (8)
LOLLIPOP: A medicinal tablet is reversed (twisted) inside (into) a word for a single turn of spiral or coil

12a    Scruff‘s shameful empty cooker (6)
SLOVEN: S(hamefu)L with its contents deleted (empty) plus a cooker used for baking

14a    Container harbour over on Middle East city (10)
METROPOLIS: Reversal of a Grain storage container and generic word for harbour follows the abbreviation for Middle East

18a    Square beam’s ignoring advanced practices (10)
TRADITIONS: A type of square used in technical drawing plus a word meaning beam or the emission of rays, without (ignoring) the abbreviation for advanced

22a    Stimulate knowledge following a detailed method (6)
AWAKEN: The Scottish word for knowledge follows A from the clue plus a ‘de-tailed’ (i.e. with last letter removed) method

23a    All time sweetheart keeping pure (8)
EVERYONE: A 3-letter long time plus the central letter of sweet (‘sweet-heart’) contains a word that could mean pure

24a    Attack ends of extensive beard (6)
GOATEE: A (2,2) phrase that means attack plus the end letters of ExtensivE

25a    Prior is religious title acquired by religious … (8)
PREVIOUS: A 3-letter abbreviation for a member of the clergy goes inside (acquired by) a word meaning religious

26a    … belief. It’s finished taking His Eminence’s Mass (6)
THEISM: An anagram (finished, as in refined) of IT’S containing the abbreviation for His Emminence plus the abbreviation for mass. Gazza reminds me that Beam doesn’t do anagrams, and suggests we have (i)T (the finish of IT) + HE (his eminence) +IS (= ‘S) + M(ass) – thanks Gazza!

27a    Poles accepting currency’s current instability (8)
NEUROSIS: Opposite poles contain (accepting) a European monetary unit, together with the ‘S, as well as the abbreviation for electrical current



1d    Dracula’s first count to bite one horribly (6)
DIRELY: The first letter of Dracula plus a verb meaning to count or depend goes around (to bite) the Roman numeral for one

2d    Fertile land is fit to accommodate golf club (6)
ARABLE: A word for fit or skilful goes around the abbreviation for the golfing organisation that derives its name from the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews. Some don’t like this abbreviation without the & and yes, the answer can be a noun.

3d    Secure area inside can below rising smell (6)
OBTAIN: The abbreviation for Area goes inside another word for can underneath (below, in a down clue) the reversal (rising, again in a down clue) of an abbreviation for a smell

4d    Sorry answer over record penned by creative (10)
APOLOGETIC: The abbreviation for answer sits above (over, in a down clue) a 3-letter word for record which is contained in a word that can mean creative or imaginative. I didn’t know creative could be used as a noun

6d    Stake money on canter for swift runner (8)
ANTELOPE: Another word for stake money plus a word for canter

7d    Troubles during promotion of politician’s live debate (8)
BEDEVILS: Reverse hidden (during promotion of ….)

8d    Lord purchases old cape by George (8)
GOODNESS: Lord in a religious sense contains (purchases) the abbreviation for Old, followed by another word for cape

13d    Performed save oddly in sharp cross (10)
TRANSVERSE: A 3-letter word that can mean performed and the odd letters in SaVe go inside a word meaning sharp or abrupt. Cross was also the definition in 1a

15d    Unbending hand not pulling any punches (8)
STRAIGHT: Triple definition

16d    Shell swiftly supporting Ferrari? (8)
CARAPACE: A 5-letter word for swiftly goes under (supports, in a down clue) something that maybe exemplified by a Ferrari (the question mark indicates a definition by example)

17d    Abiding vessel emitting revolting content (8)
TIMELESS: Reverse hidden (… revolting content)

19d    Relatively bold supporter on about victory reversed (6)
BRAVER: The usual crossword supporter is on (which in a down clue means on top of) the reversal of a word for about or concerning and the abbreviation for Victory

20d    Tramps round in house top mostly (6)
HOBOES: The letter that looks like a round or circle goes inside (in) the abbreviation for House plus a word meaning top or most excellent without the last letter (mostly)

21d    Finish with one shilling to last, they believe (6)
DEISTS: A verb meaning finish or stop as one of its S’s (one Shilling) moved to the end

I thought the reverse hiddens were very good and I enjoyed the ellipsed clues (25/26a). I really liked 14a and 27a, as well as 1d and 16d, for the surface readings. My favourite is the self-deprecating 18a. Which clues did you like?

25 comments on “Toughie 1890

  1. Thanks to Beam and to Dutch for the review. Although the Telegraph site has still not published the name of the setter there wasn’t much doubt from the second clue onwards. The grid made it into pretty much four separate puzzles.
    I liked 9a and the two hidden reversals (7d and 17d) best.
    I parsed 26a slightly differently (Beam doesn’t use anagrams so I don’t think an anagram is involved). I had it as stringing together the finish of [i]T + HE + IS (‘s) + M(ass).

    1. Yes, that’s more likely to be right – I’ll change the hint. Forgot about the no anagrams. I did wonder if we were somehow changing IT’S to T’IS – and in a way we are.

        1. that’s where i was headed, but i worried about ‘finished’. i also worried about ‘finished’ as an anagram indicator, but when i remembered it could mean refined, i thought aha – that had to be it (silly me). so yes, perhaps not entirely clear what was intended

  2. Only two ‘open’ answers when I had to resort to Dutch’s hints – 23a and 17d.

    23a – I am pleased that Dutch said ‘a word that could mean pure’ in his hint. OK – pure is in the LRB listing for the word in question, but I am not convinced that they are synonymous.

    17d – mea culpa – totally missed the now obvious reverse lurker indicators.

    Other than those two, plenty of enjoyable head scratching. Thanks to Beam and Dutch.

    1. I struggled with 23a as well. Normally, the answer is an adverb (which would equate readily with purely) but it can be an adjective. My problem was I couldn’t think of an example where they are used interchangeably as an adjective – any suggestions anyone?

      1. The best I could think of was “The pure/very act of measuring something changes what you are trying to measure”.

          1. Our Girl Tuesday just suggested an alternative to me but, as it constituted an aspersion on her character, I won’t repeat it!

  3. Not sure whether I want to curl up in a ball and die or simply strangle Mr T! I had 17d as ‘vileness’ which was obviously(!) going to have a vessel – SS, sieve or vein – somehow involved with ‘live’ and 23a as ‘evermore’ which needed ‘EVER’ (all time) plus ‘E’ (Ray’s favourite sweetheart) surrounding ‘AMOR’ purified – unadulterated (minus the ‘A’) which left me with all manner of bits doing double duty!
    Thank you, Dutch, my sanity is (almost) restored but there is much gnashing of teeth going on at this end.

    I was with Gazza over the parsing of 26a – hopefully Ray T will confirm his intentions with this one when he pops in later.

    The usual brilliance from my favourite setter and I particularly liked the surfaces of 1,10 &25a, the 15d triple and – as Dutch described it – the self-deprecating 18a.

    Devotions as always to Mr T under his Beam hat and to Dutch for the eagerly awaited blog. I ‘sort of’ expected the pic for 11a but thought you might have made more of the opportunity to depict 10a’s ‘score pad’!

  4. We had evermore for 23a and, for some reason, couldn’t get 26a. Otherwise, just peachy. Our favourite was 11a.

    Thanks to Dutch and Beam.

  5. Thanks to Dutch (and Gazza) for the explanations for 18a, 23a, 26a & 21d – and I was doing so well until I hit the wall with these four!

  6. That was hard work but brilliant. Can’t help but admire the refusal to use anagrams and the succinct cluing. Masterful.
    Hats off to, and thanks to Mr T, and to Dutch for the nudges. ****/****

  7. I enjoyed this very much, although I found it hard work – **** or even ***** in difficulty. I think absence of anagrams adds an additional layer of difficulty for me. My only stumbling block came in 23a. I had the right answer in the margin but, like some others, I had a hard time finding where the pure came in. I thought the reverse lurker was beautifully hidden. Many thanks to Dutch and Beam.

  8. Although there was no attribution on the site when we solved we were in no doubt who the setter was after just a couple of clues. All relatively straightforward apart from 23a. We were convinced that ‘all time’ was the definition and ‘evermore’ the answer. We spent ages trying to justify the wordplay for this before looking at other options. Eventually worked it out but not totally convinced that pure = very is that great. The rest of it just fine with plenty of smiles and chuckles that we always get from this setter. See that we don’t need to report on the clue word count as Dutch has already done that.
    Thanks Beam and Dutch.

  9. Evening all. Many thanks to Dutch for the decryption and to all for your comments. 26a is ‘Tis’ around ‘HE’ plus “M’ but I’m happy to accept alternative explanations!
    Just noticed the lollipop in the picture for 11a…


    1. Hi Mr T – thank you for popping in and for confirming the parsing of 26a.
      How strange that it took you so long to spot the spiral lollipop……………!

    2. Many thanks Beam for dropping in – this is something people really like.

      and thank you again for the enjoyment

  10. The king of lurkage strikes again. 2 great hidden words that took a lot of finding and 17 was my last one in. Also liked 1a 1d 5 7 14 25 and 26. Many thanks to RayT for a real Toughie.

  11. I too had evermore for 23A. Lovely puzzle, and I thought it was Ray T from the mention of Beam in 18A. My favorites were 1A and 9A.

    Dutch, I thought political commentary was frowned upon on the blogs.

  12. None of the across clues fell on my first run through, but thankfully the downs proved to be more amenable. This still felt quite tricky in places, definitely a ***, though this time of night isn’t perhaps the best part of the day to embark on the Toughie. I won’t let on how long it took me to spot the hidden answer in 17d…

  13. Knew it was Mr T the minute I started.
    The problem with his puzzles is that I read every word separately forgetting about the surface. Some of it was good and some rather meaningless.
    A bit too mechanical for my liking.
    Thanks to RayT and to Dutch for the review.

  14. This was excellent from Ray T – kept me busy, on and off, for a good while yesterday afternoon. Not the toughest Toughie I’ve come across but a good challenge, with a sense of achievement at the end and very enjoyable. 3*/4*.

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