Toughie 2138 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 2138

Toughie No 2138 by Beam

Hints and tips by Bufo

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BD Rating – Difficulty ***Enjoyment ***

I’m back on familiar territory this week with a Beam puzzle that shows all of his usual trademarks. It was finished reasonably quickly. I did have some problems on the right-hand side but these were mostly self-inflicted.

Please leave a comment telling us what you thought.


1a Deny penning revolutionary piece, almost defiant (12)
RECALCITRANT: ‘To deny’ or ‘to revoke’ round a reversal of a piece (in a newspaper) with the last letter removed = ‘defiant’ or ‘obstinate in opposition’

9a Practically illuminated in clear blind (9)
OBLIVIOUS: A 3-letter word meaning ‘illuminated’ with the last letter removed inside ‘clear’ = ‘blind’ or ‘unaware’

10a Gloomy opening of dead end (5)
DREAR: The first letter of DEAD + the end or hindmost part

11a Duty of cross Conservative remains blocked by Europeans (6)
EXCISE: A duty (tax) = a cross-shaped letter, C (Conservative) and ‘remains’ inside EE (Europeans)

12a Bond rumour, hot to start, got rejected (8)
ADHESION: A bond (sticking together of surfaces) in which a reversal of ‘rumour’ follows ‘got’ with the position of the H (hot) changed. There have been email discussions this morning as to whether the wordplay in this clue works or whether it leads to another combination of letters. The clue does look very dubious to me but I’ll leave chapter and verse to others

13a Some random oration, all empty talk (6)
SERMON: First and last letters of SOME, RANDOM and ORATION

15a Naked geisha seen in show? Heaven! (8)
PARADISE: The middle two letters of GEISHA inside ‘show’

18a Fit to tackle shortage for power cut (8)
BLACKOUT: A fit goes round a shortage

19a Hags lacking women’s desires (6)
ITCHES: Remove W (women) from hags

21a Ring turned from garnet, a nose ring (8)
RESONATE: ‘To ring’ is hidden in a reversal of GARNET A NOSE RING

23a It’s more natural being short in credit (6)
CRUDER: ‘Short’ inside CR (credit)

26a Bird showing sorrow missing first Romeo (5)
EGRET: A type of heron = ‘sorrow’ with the first letter R (Romeo) removed

27a Conductor travelled by first-class, not second (9)
ELECTRODE: An electrical conductor = ‘first-class’ with the letter S (second) removed + ‘travelled’

28a Criminal affray involving street assembly (12)
CONSTRUCTION: A criminal (prisoner) and an affray round ST (street)


1d Trait of the press occasionally exposing troublemakers (7)
RIOTERS: Alternate letter of TRAIT OF THE PRESS

2d Freezing and frozen water endlessly producing gripes (5)
COLIC: ‘Freezing’ without the last letter + frozen water without the last letter = gripes (spasmodic pains)

3d Cattle bolt eating supply, not new (9)
LIVESTOCK: ‘To bolt’ round ‘to supply’ with the letter N (new) removed. My first thought was that this was an anagram of BOLT EATNG but then I remembered that Beam doesn’t do anagrams

4d Hero of swimming pool, large top to bottom (4)
IDOL: Take an open-air swimming pool and move the letter L (large) to the end of the word

5d Excess praise before one’s Queen, all rising (8)
RESIDUAL: A reversal of ‘to praise’, I (one), the possessive ‘S, and our queen

6d Jog is grand naked? (5)
NUDGE: G (grand) goes inside ‘naked’ (in the ****)

7d Satanic underworld god welcomes wicked husband (8)
DEVILISH: A god of the underworld round ‘wicked’ + H (husband)

8d Friendly republic after Normans conquered England initially? (6)

14d Reportedly back sure thing then swear again (8)
REASSERT: A homophone (reportedly) of ‘back’ and a sure thing

16d Freezing river adopting a new course (9)
ANTARCTIC: ‘Freezing (like it is at the South Pole) = R (river) inside A N (new) and ‘course’

17d Support lock’s supporting bar (8)
BUTTRESS: ‘Bar’ or ‘except’ + a lock of hair

18d Lodger dropping a line (6)
BOARDER: Remove A from a lodger

20d Last of antibiotics encourage doctor (7)
SURGEON: The last letter of ANTIBIOTICS + ‘to encourage’ (4,2)

22d Explosive centre of core container’s going up (5)
NITRO: The short name of a kind of high explosive = a reversal of the middle two letters of CORE and a metal container

24d Sexy wearing short girl’s loincloth (5)
DHOTI: ‘Sexy’ inside the shortened form of a girl’s name = a loincloth such as that worn by Gandhi

25d Audibly burn witch, say (4)
SEER: A homophone of ‘to burn’ or ‘to cauterise’ = a person who foretells the future, possibly a witch

24 comments on “Toughie 2138

  1. I spent more time ‘discussing’ the 12a problem than I actually did solving the crossword which I’d call a Ray T in Beam’s clothing.

    Some of us take the view that the 12a clue doesn’t work as since ‘rejected’ comes after ‘got’ then HAD must also be reversed, so the wordplay leads to DA ESION H. There is another view that you move the H at the start of Had (got) to the start of the rejected NOISE (rumour) but I’m sticking with the opinion that it doesn’t work

    Thanks to Mr T for the crossword and Bufo for the blog

    1. Much to my disappointment, I can’t make 12a work either. There seems to be a weird argument between ‘start’ and ‘rejected’. Which bits? Some instruction appears to be missing.

      Not a penny-drop clue, a ‘Hmm…’ and wrinkle your nose clue.

  2. I’m not altogether sure that ‘adopting’ correctly positions the r in 16 down, and I share Sue and Bufo’s reservations about 12 across. A shame really because I think all the other clues are excellent.

  3. Took me less time than the back pager so another rather gentle Beam. As I have said before once you get used to his devices they stick out like a sore thumb.
    I was also back to normal speed as I have given up trying to solve on my tablet and have reverted to printing it out. How the DT has managed to make such a dog’s breakfast of this is a mystery to me.
    I saw 12a from the checkers before I read the clue, spotted noise reversed and just moved on. Having looked at it again I don’t think it works either.

  4. I thought this was pretty gentle as Beam’s Toughies go, except for 12a on which I spent more time than on the rest of the puzzle put together in a (vain) attempt to make the wordplay work. I think the clue is a bit of a dog’s breakfast for the reasons that CS has given.
    My favourite was the amusing 13a. Thanks to Beam and Bufo.

  5. Very pleasant Toughie – not too tough for me. It was one of those that when the penny did drop, I wondered why it had take me so long. I’m with you Sue. I couldn’t get 12a to parse successfully. 27a was my favourite.

  6. Another excellent Beam offering although I’m another who struggled without success to parse 12a.

    23a was the last to fall here and my top two were the wicked husband and the poor guy who backed a sure thing!

    Devotions to Mr T and many thanks to Bufo for the blog.

  7. 12a would necessarily invite comment here, among the cryptically-adept! I biffed it (put it in without working it out) and had a slightly uncomfortable feeling, but the definition confirmed it. Went back after finishing, and looked at it in the eye, and it just stared back, for a good while. Really I suppose it should say ‘hot to start IN got’, but that would wreck it of course.

    My overall experience of the puzzle was of a really good work-out, much enjoyed. My fave is the one about underworld gods welcoming wicked husbands.

  8. Many thanks beam, I didn’t find this so easy but got there in the end. I liked the friendly republic, the naked geisha (though I wasn’t sure how much to take off her), and the sexy short girl’s loin cloth.

    In 12a, I had H and noise, but didn’t get to got=had, so I didn’t know how to parse.

    In 3D, forgetting this is beam, my anagram was TOILET BAG. I actually tried to figure out how that could be related to cattle, until I reminded myself of the checkers and enumeration.

    Many thanks bufo

  9. I enjoyed this, but I didn’t find it easy. It was the Hags in 19a that eventually let me in and I was able to get established from there. Several of the entries I got from the definition long before the the word play fully made sense to me. I did wonder about 12a, but I assumed I was missing something. I think 13a was my favourite. Many thanks to all.

  10. B****r. I just typed a long comment which disappeared into the ether. Here is a shorter version.

    Typically very enjoyable fare from Beam although I did find it quite difficult. I’m in the 12a doesn’t work camp. Perhaps RayT will pop in later to clarify this.

    7d was my favourite.

    Many thanks to the 2Bs.

    1. Hit backspace twice (after the bobbly bits have finished bobbling, and you are dumped in the white page ‘’), your comment will still be there, though usually not in the ‘Reply to Comment’ – it will appear as a new comment at the end of the thread, so cut and paste.

      I’m curious as to the content of your lengthy lost comment.

  11. Not a quick solve for us and good fun all the way apart from the head-scratching about 12a. Word count checked as usual.
    Thanks Beam and Bufo.

  12. Did wonder about 12a too but quickly forgot about it as I had to tease out quite a few answers.
    1a is commonly used in French.
    27a took the longest to get and finished with the witch in 25d.
    Real pleasure to see all the trademarks of Mr Tyrrell.
    Thanks to Beam and to Bufo for the review.

  13. Yep, 12a is not open to parsing in this household. Otherwise must enjoyable with 13a and 22d favourites.

    Thanks to Bufo and Ray T.

  14. Beam Toughie. Varsity Match. Jazz gig in Coventry. Beer and Advokaat (Christmas custard) what is not to like about today?

    1. Interesting typo tho that demonstrates the weirdness of English pronunciation.
      If you pronounce the GH as In touGH
      the O as in wOmen
      the TI as in staTIon
      Then GHOTI is pronounced FISH !

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