Toughie 1998 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 1998

Toughie No 1998 by Beam

Hints and tips by Bufo

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

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

I made steady progress with the NE corner being the last to yield. The difficulty was not so much in filling the grid but in working out how some of the clues worked

Please leave a comment telling us what you thought.


1a    Principally masculine sort like this with power? No (7)
MILKSOP: The first letter of MASCULINE + a sort (3) + ‘like this’ (2) + P (power) = a soft, unadventurous, effeminate man. Hence the whole clue provides the definition

5a    Feline ace to finish hard harnessing explosive energy (7)
CHEETAH: Take a feline and move its letter A (ace) to the end. Put this round the abbreviation for High Explosive and E (energy). Then put H (hard) at the end and you get a large feline animal noted for its speed. Thus again the whole clue provides the definition

9a    Pillage of French land besieging leader from Paris (7)
DESPOIL: ‘To pillage’ = the French word for ‘of’ + ‘land’ or ‘dirt’ round P (first letter of Paris

10a    Palace in Italy stripped back, Pope finally managed (7)
LATERAN: An ancient palace of the Roman Empire and the main papal residence in Rome = a reversal of the middle three letters of ITALY + the last letter of POPE + ‘managed’

11a    Grand opening not ending trembling heart (9)
EPICENTRE: ‘Grand’ (4) + an opening or introduction with the last letter removed = the point of origin of an earthquake (trembling centre)

12a    Long story after single call flipping ends (5)
ILIAD: An ancient Greek epic poem (long story) = a letter denoting ‘single’ + ‘to call (on the phone) with the first and last letters transposed

13a    Force men on ship, half cut (5)
SCREW: This one’s beaten me. The best I’ve come up with is S (half of SS for ship) + the men (on a ship) but I don’t like it. Is it an all-in-one clue?

15a    Marine‘s brutal, taking area with force (9)
SEAFARING: ‘Marine’ or ‘travelling by ship’ = ‘brutal’ round A (area) and F (force)

17a    Untiring church without support when bishop leaves (9)
CEASELESS: The Church of England + ‘without support’ with the letter B (bishop) removed

19a    Follow logic without principal around university (5)
ENSUE: ‘Logic’ with the first letter removed goes round U (university)

22a    Independent’s petition for publication (5)
ISSUE: I (independent) + ‘S (the possessive ‘s’) + ‘to petition’

23a    Stout heart receives tug, almost not heartless (9)
CORPULENT: The heart or central part round ‘to tug’ with the last letter removed + NOT with the middle letter removed

25a    One could be one (7)
PRONOUN: That part of speech such as ‘one’ when used to mean somebody or anybody or me

26a    Term of endearment? It legitimises embracing (7)

27a    Ginger beer half knocked back’s flat, admits husband (7)
REDHEAD: A ginger person = a reversal of the second half of BEER + ‘flat (like a battery)’ round H (husband)

28a    Swing door needing oil, we hear (7)
TRAPEZE: A swing used in a circus = a type of door + a homophone of ‘to oil’


1d    Passion, oddly ardent, getting into hot water … (7)
MADNESS: The odd-positioned letters of ArDeNt inside hot water (a state of trouble)

2d    … arising from affaire, it’s ultimately more passionate (7)

3d    Total of love-god mounting when touring clubs (5)
SCORE: A reversal of the Greek god of sexual attraction round C (clubs)

4d    French courtesy seeing drunk English in gang (9)
POLITESSE: A word for ‘courtesy’ of French origin = ‘drunk’ and E (English) inside a gang

5d    Break up about love without love (5)
CALVE: ‘To break up (like icebergs)’ = an abbreviation denoting ‘about’ + LOVE with the letter O (love) removed

6d    Free spare time holding nearly glacial sweetheart (9)
EXTRICATE: ‘To free’ = ‘spare’ (5) and T (time) round ‘glacial’ (3) with the last letter removed + E (middle letter of SWEET)

7d    Study period in India ends (7)
TERMINI: A part of the school year (study period) + IN + I (India)

8d    Wretched worker takes good advance being promoted (7)
HANGDOG: ‘Wretched’ or ‘with a cowed, dejected or guilty look’ = a worker round G (good) + a reversal of ‘to advance’

14d    Why the woman’s iron’s returned, corroded outside (9)
WHEREFORE: ‘The woman’s’ and a reversal of the atomic symbol of iron inside ‘corroded’

16d    With a facility consuming globules, small to start (9)
ABSORBENT: A and a facility or a natural inclination of the mind goes round globules or spheres with the letter S (small) moved to the front. The whole clue must be the definition

17d    Particular potato topping for each, full of beans (7)
CHIPPER: A piece of fried potato + ‘for each’

18d    Sailor back out East quit (7)
ABSCOND: An able-bodied seaman + ‘to back’ with the letter E (East) removed

20d    Queen raised under house housing cold staff (7)
SCEPTRE: A house or clan round C (cold) + a reversal of our Queen = a staff carried by a monarch

21d    Hardline former Tories meet occasionally (7)
EXTREME: ‘Former’ + alternate letters of TORIES MEET

23d    Beaten by scoundrel without once dropping odds (5)
CANED: A scoundrel goes round the even-positioned letters of ONCE

24d    Usually least tolerant radical activist initially (5)

I need a lie down after sorting that lot out!

20 comments on “Toughie 1998

  1. Unusually for a Beam there were a couple of unfamiliar elements (10a and the house in 20d) but the wordplay took me there.

    I tried briefly to make part of 17a [b]raless but found no support for that so had to think again.

    Favourite? I hardly need tell you that it’s 5a.

    Thanks to Beam and Bufo.

  2. Thanks for the hints. Enjoyable to go through them and admire both setter and solvers.
    About 1,000,000 miles over my head.

  3. I also struggled with NE at the end. I liked ‘trembling heart’

    Thanks Beam & Bufo

  4. This was a real Toughie for me with the NE the last to fall, but very enjoyable.

    10a was a new word for me, as was the house in 20d. The surface of 3d raised a smile and 7d was my favourite for its very well disguised simplicity.

    Many thanks to Beam for the entertainment and to Bufo, particularly for the parsing of 16d.

  5. That was nothing short of excellent in my book.
    Struggled with the parsing of 5a and also that of 17a. In the latter, I had CE for the church surrounding EASEL (stand) and couldn’t figure out where the poor bishop belonged in SS!
    Two new words learned in 10a and the 20d house – I’m sure I should have known the palace.

    Not going to play favourites – couldn’t possibly make a choice.

    Devotions to Mr T/Beam and many thanks to Bufo for a great blog – I couldn’t see any other way of parsing 13a but, as you said, it seemed a bit unsatisfactory.

  6. I enjoyed this very much, and I was pleased to be able to finish it, although there were one or two leaps of faith involved. Like Bufo, I did not fully understand the word play in 13a, and in 16d, I had the facility, the checkers, and some sense of how the globules worked, and so I thought it really could be nothing else than what it was. There were one or two things I had not heard of (the palace in Italy for instance), but it all fell into place without too much difficulty (or Googling). Many thanks to Beam and Bufo.

  7. Thought some of the constructions were very convoluted.
    Take a letter away, put it at the back, put it at the front. My head is spinning.
    But got there finally.
    Liked the charade in 7d. Daughter just came back from Mumbai where she was working on a school subject.
    Thanks to Beam and to Bufo.

  8. Took both Beavers to complete this difficult puzzle! 5d and 10a nearly defeated us. Ready for a drink now!

  9. This is a typical Beamer with no anagrams but luckily he cannot resist the 2 lurkers and the odd acronym. Many fine clues as usual but 5d took some working out so I award that today’s best clue. Not much innuendo today which is unusual but 3d kept up the good work. Lots of fine surface reading as usual and too many aah moments to list. Thanks to Rayt – hopefully returning on the backie next week.

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


  11. Not a quick solve for us but little by little we did manage to get it all sorted although not convinced that we had fully parsed 13a. Word count all in order of course. Good fun.
    Thanks Beam and Bufo.

  12. 3*/4*, and 12a was my favourite. The NE corner was certainly the “business end” in terms of difficulty. Thanks to Beam and Bufo.

  13. Phew. Quite tough we thought for a Ray T and needed hints to finish the NE corner. That’ll teach us to leave it for a late pub trip!

    Loved 5a (eventually) .

    Thanks to Bufo and Beam.

  14. This is a good, tough, tricky puzzle from Beam which I’m enjoying very much after several passes. I say “enjoying” because I’ve still got 4 clues unresolved. But I refuse to look at the hints – I’ll persevere and finish it using my normal methods. Up to now: 4* / 5*

    1. Eventually finished this on Sunday night. Phew! I was held up unnecessarily because I recklessly bunged in ERADICATE for 6d which prevented me from solving 10 across. 11a was my favourite – with its sublime definition. A cracking puzzle!

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