Toughie 2018 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 2018

Toughie No 2018 by Beam

Hints and tips by Big Dave

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

The review is now ready.  It was a bit late as I missed the fact that Bufo is away and had been waiting for the review that was not coming!

Please leave a comment telling us what you thought.


1a Restraint of drunk circling empty bar? That’s unknown (8)
SOBRIETY: put a three-letter drunk around B[a]R and the Latin abbreviation for “that is” and add a mathematical unknown

5a ‘Topping‘ is removing, removing top (6)
OFFING: start with a verb meaning removing, as in removing an item of clothing, and drop (removing) its initial letter (top)

9a Winning ace possible around beginning of rally (8)
ADORABLE: A(ce) and an adjective meaning possible or feasible around the initial letter (beginning) of R[ally]

10a Passion that’s reportedly more difficult for EastEnders (6)
ARDOUR: sounds like (reportedly) an adjective meaning more difficult with its initial H dropped (as spoken by an Eastender)

12a Leader in retreat over current upset (9)
EDITORIAL: this leader can be found in a newspaper – a retreat or den, O(ver) and a current all reversed (upset) – isn’t this a construct more usually found in a down clue?

13a Cover shut up with tool (5)
SHAWL: an exhortation to shut up or keep quiet followed by a small pointed tool

14a Love drink knocked back after work (4)
OPUS: O (love) followed by the reversal (knocked back) of a verb meaning to drink

16a Uneven changing edges? Start to sharpen blades (7)
DAGGERS: start with an adjective meaning uneven or rough, swap the first and last letters (changing edges) and add the initial letter of (start to) S[harpen]

19a To the French, street state reflects country (7)
AUSTRIA: a two-letter French word meaning “to the” followed by ST(reet) and the reversal (reflects) of a verb meaning to state, as in to state one’s opinions

21a A little backwards perhaps displaying intelligence (4)
DATA: the A from the clue and a little / small amount, all reversed (backwards

24a Dimwit stripped iron to make explosive (5)
NITRO: a dimwit followed by [i]RO[n] without its outer letters (stripped)

25a Motivate staff caught for time (9)
ENCOURAGE: start with some staff or attendants and replace the T(ime) with C(aught)

27a Cutting borders of Arran material (6)
TARTAN: an adjective meaning cutting or sarcastic followed by the outer letters (borders) of A[rra]N

28a Incubating, hot to cold, getting infectious (8)
CATCHING: start with a verb meaning incubating and replace the initial H(ot) with C(old) – this might have been better if there was an indication that only the first H(ot) was to be changed

29a Hidden, long hidden inside code oddly (6)
CACHED: a verb meaning to long or pine inside the odd letters of CoDe

30a Close combat, say, for raw recruit (8)
NEOPHYTE: sounds vaguely like (say) words meaning close and combat


1d Publish a description describing suspicions (6)
SHADES: hidden (describing) inside the clue

2d Superhuman bloke is often needed in crisis initially (6)
BIONIC: the initial letters of six words in the clue

3d This compiler’s past mature stage (5)
IMAGO: the two-letter form of “this compiler’s” / “this compiler is” followed by a word meaning in the past

4d Idiot boxes skilfully losing weight in draws (7)
TELLIES: boxes here is part of the definition not a containment construct – an adverb meaning skilfully without the W(eight) inside some draws

6d Whisper concealed by woods sharing small anticipation (9)
FORESIGHT: put a whisper inside some woods such that both words share the S(mall)

7d One admires procrastinator’s motto? (8)
IDOLATER: split as (1,2,5) this could be a procrastinator’s motto

8d Slow turn right then left in jam (8)
GORMLESS: a two-letter turn or shot followed by R(ight) and L(eft), the latter inside a jam or shambles

11d Block of ice, large, going north (4)
CLOD: start with an adjective meaning of ice and move the L(arge) up one position (going north in a down clue)

15d Somebody from Queen’s playing with attendant outside (9)
PERSONAGE: our Queen’s royal cipher, the S from ‘S and a two-letter word meaning playing or performing inside an attendant

17d Attractive chap, good inside, rejected advance (8)
MAGNETIC: a chap around G(ood) followed by the reversal of a verb meaning to advance or bring up

18d Obscure place, not quiet, in mostly strange clubs (8)
ESOTERIC: a place without the P (quiet) inside most of an adjective meaning strange and followed by C(lubs)

20d Vacant atelier with extra space (4)
AREA: drop the inner letters (vacant) from A[telie]R and E[xtr]A

21d Provide enclosure comprising kayak’s last berth (7)
DOCKAGE: a two-letter verb meaning to provide or supply and an enclosure around the final letter (last) of [kaya]K

22d Freedom of position including kiss before sex (6)
LAXITY: a three-letter word meaning a position around (including) X (kiss) and a two-letter word for sex

23d Some agreed to house poor (6)
MEAGRE: hidden (to house) inside the clue

26d A French Cabernet and Pinot’s tops open (5)
UNCAP: the French indefinite article followed by the initial letters (tops) of three words in the clue

Sorry it took so long.


13 comments on “Toughie 2018

  1. I thought this was a wonderful puzzle. I didn’t think I was going to be able to get out of the NW corner (where I always start) but I eventually escaped (it was with the idiot boxes that the penny finally dropped). It took me a long time, but it was with great satisfaction that I finished. (It was very refreshing not to have to search Google endlessly for odd and strange things). Many thanks to Beam, and special thanks to Big Dave for pinch hitting with the review.

  2. Pretty tricky in my opinion. I do find Beam difficult but due to his succinct clueing it is normally reasonably clear what one has to do in terms of wordplay.

    Thanks to BD and Beam – très agréable

  3. :phew: A real Toughie! But very enjoyable. No obscurities to be seen – just tough cluing. Excellent! 7d was my favourite.

    After a Herculean struggle and with a bit of electronic assistance, I almost got to the finishing line with only 4d incomplete. I also couldn’t parse 21d fully, so thanks very much BD for stepping into the breach to provide the review and putting me out of my misery.

    I made life even more difficult for myself but putting in “rasing” for 5a (i.e. “erasing” missing its top) on the basis that “rase” is an alternative spelling of “raze” which at a stretch could conceivably mean “to top”. Oh dear! That made a right mess of my NE corner until I realised the error of my ways.

    Many thanks to Beam. I need a drink now …

  4. A typical Beam puzzle and typically enjoyable. Thanks to Beam and to BD for putting in the extra shift. My favourite clues were 12a, 4d and 15d – least favourite was 30a.

  5. You know when you have a Beam puzzle that you are going to get exactly what is described on the tin and a lot of fun too so thank you to him

    Thank you also to today’s second kindly stand in – I noted the same ‘quibbles’ as you

    I’m hoping for third time lucky in posting this comment what with our rubbish internet, the dreaded error 405 and McAfee on my tablet refusing to accept that I’ve got a safe connection, the cup of tea I thought might cool enough to drink while I posted a quick comment is probably quite cold now.

    PS the tea’s chilly but posting a comment about not being able to do something has worked magic on my tablet so I should be OK to comment when I go back downstairs away from the main PC :yahoo:

  6. Wonderful stuff – a good 5* for enjoyment from me.

    All manner of contenders for top place but I’ve eventually narrowed it down to just two – 1a and 7d.

    Devotions to Mr T/Beam and many thanks to BD for stepping into the breach with the review. No problem with it being delayed – gave me more time to savour the puzzle.

  7. With this setter I can trust that I’ll get to the end, and always enjoy the journey enough not to be tempted to take shortcuts. This was the case today too. Very enjoyable indeed.

    Thanks Beam and BD.

  8. Evening all. Many thanks to BD for the emergency review and to all for your observations.


  9. Excellent stuff that we thoroughly enjoyed. Winced a bit at the first part of the homophone for 30a but the second part made up for that. Ticks all over the place from us. We checked the word count of course.
    Thanks Beam and BD.

  10. Very good. I had that reservation about the homophone, but it’s notoriously tricky for setters to please all the people all of the time with those. So keep them coming all you setters.

  11. Easier to the south than the north, and then harder still in the NE where I got badly stuck. So a real Toughie, and lots of fun to complete.

  12. Yes, a most agreeable puzzle, with the two ‘idiotic’ clues (4 & 8 down) being my favourites. I had pencilled in CLOD, but couldn’t understand it, so thanks to BD for that.

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