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Toughie 2663

Toughie No 2663 by Beam

Hints and tips by Gazza

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

BD Rating – Difficulty **Enjoyment ***

You know what to expect from Beam – a puzzle where the main difficulty comes from reconciling some of the stretched synonyms. I thought that this was on the gentle side for him although I was held up trying to parse the original 16d clue (in which there is an error and for which a replacement clue has been provided online). I also wonder whether the 15a clue is as intended because the ‘to’ seems to get in the way.

Please leave a comment telling us how you fared and what you thought of the puzzle.

Across Clues

1a Detective’s rubbish, taking over, holding criminal down (12)
DISCONSOLATE: assemble the abbreviation for a senior police detective (plus the ‘S) and a verb to rubbish or criticise containing the cricket abbreviation for over. Now insert an informal word for a criminal.

9a Planning deficit cut takes sense in charge (9)
LOGISTICS: a deficit without its last letter contains a synonym of sense or meaning and the abbreviation of ‘in charge’.

10a A block turned in wood (5)
BALSA: reverse A and a block or wedge. We’ve had this wood very recently although I can’t remember exactly where.

11a Sad jerk purchasing Sun? (6)
TRAGIC: a facial jerk contains what The Sun is an example of.

12a Becoming visible after first appearance of bud? (8)
BLOOMING: a present participle meaning ‘becoming visible’ (through the darkness or fog perhaps) follows the first letter of bud in this all-in-one clue.

13a Square back garden containing borders of furze (6)
DEFRAY: a garden (especially in North America) contains the outer letters of furze. Now reverse the lot.

15a Caught by dearest, ran to get divorce (8)
ESTRANGE: a hidden word though the ‘to’ does rather interfere and I wonder whether ‘getting’ was intended rather than ‘to get’?

18a One accompanies guy playing, covering Queen (8)
CHAPERON: another word for a guy and an adverb meaning ‘playing’ contain our Queen’s regnal cipher.

19a Sort of betting from score studied (6)
SPREAD: an abbreviation meaning the score or the facts, as in ‘he gave me the full **’, is followed by a verb meaning studied.

21a Like Pharaoh, see keenly (8)
ASTUTELY: string together a conjunction meaning ‘like’, the abbreviated name of a famous young pharaoh and a see in Cambridgeshire.

23a Medical containers maintaining temperature for organs (6)
VITALS: small glass medical containers hold the abbreviation for temperature.

26a Put out unfinished article facing controversy (5)
THROW: a grammatical article without its last letter followed by a controversy or argument.

27a Greek character, Hero’s lover, missing sweetheart’s flirt (9)
PHILANDER: paste together the 21st letter of the Greek alphabet and the lover of Hero in Greek mythology without the central letter of sweet.

28a Order peeled cored nectarine in squash (12)
PREPAREDNESS: a verb meaning peeled and the outer letters of nectarine go inside a verb to squash or squeeze.

Down Clues

1d Drill part’s end oddly spread (7)
DILATED: odd letters from the first three words.

2d Symbol seen in general mathematics appears initially (5)
SIGMA: initial letters from the clue give us the summation symbol in maths.

3d Persistent stink rising and Government keeps cool (9)
OBSTINATE: reverse the abbreviation for a very personal stink and add a synonym for government containing an adjective meaning cool or trendy.

4d Drink top of sugar syrup (4)
SWIG: the first letter of sugar and what syrup is Cockney rhyming slang for.

5d From cellist, ‘Les Sylphides’ is sluggish (8)
LISTLESS: hidden.

6d Cheers old boy overturning love ban … (5)
TABOO: glue together a short word of thanks, the reversal of the abbreviation of old boy and the letter than resembles a love score.

7d … losing head, affair leads to marriage (8)
ALLIANCE: drop the first letter from an affair or fling.

8d Twist long hair around girl’s extremities (6)
MANGLE: the long bushy hair of some animals contains the outer letters of girl.

14d Soft soap less frothy on baby’s bottom (8)
FLATTERY: less frothy (of beer, perhaps) precedes the bottom letter of baby.

16d (original clue) Blame split about prudish male sharing male (9)
(revised clue online) Blame particular answer during split (9)
REPRIMAND: there is an error in the original clue giving a superfluous N. For the revised clue we need a verb to split containing an adjective meaning particular or strait-laced and an abbreviation for answer.

17d Sweet tablet twisted into spiral (8)
LOLLIPOP: reverse a type of tablet inside a spiral.

18d Virgin is pursued, reportedly (6)
CHASTE: this sounds like a synonym of pursued.

20d Fancies gentleman surrounded by revolting offspring (7)
DESIRES: the title afforded a gentleman is contained in the reversal of an old word for offspring or descendants.

22d One’s indebted after beginning of tax rise (5)
TOWER: someone who’s indebted follows the first letter of tax.

24d Candid clues occasionally confuse (5)
ADDLE: regular letters from the first two words.

25d Mole or spy, they say (4)
PIER: mole here is neither an animal nor a skin blemish. It sounds like a verb to spy or look intently.

For my podium I’ve selected 12a, 21a and 14d. Which clue(s) did you like?


37 comments on “Toughie 2663

  1. More of a Ray T back page level of difficulty than a Beam Toughie but enjoyable while it lasted

    I was held up with 13a as I spent a short while thinking that the borders of the furze were inserted into a reversal of the garden, not a reversal of the whole thing

    Thanks to Beam and Gazza

  2. I enjoyed this a lot with a couple, 4d&11a providing real LOL moments.
    I needed electronic help for 13a, my LOI, had to check the mole synonym at 25d, and conveniently overlooked the surplus to requirement preposition in the 15a “lurker”.
    7d &12a make up my extended podium.
    Many thanks to Beam and Gazza for the fun.

  3. After today’s very dull slog of a back-pager, this provided much needed welcome relief. This was not too tough and great fun in spite of the two seeming errors in 15a & 16d.

    With plenty of choice for favourite, my podium consists of 12a, 21a & 27a.

    Many thanks to Beam and to Gazza.

  4. A typical Beam puzzle, full of his trademark concise clues, some of which needed a bit of teasing out but, as always, they were gettable through the accurate wordplay. 4d was my absolute favourite and last one in.

    My thanks to Mr T and Gazza.

  5. I stumbled over 13a, 15a and 16d as well but put them in anyway. No problems anywhere else though. Favourite was 27a. Thanks to Beam and Gazza.

  6. Never come across syrup of figs rhyming slang so 4d left empty as it made no sense.
    I had the wrong first letter on 8d and was waiting to find out the parsing.
    Otherwise I’d concur with the comments others have made.
    Thanks as always.

  7. Enjoyed this. Scratched my head a bit over the “to” in 15a and the N in 16d. Also had spot in 25d which held me up a bit until I cracked 28a.

    Thanks to Beam and Gazza.

  8. Enjoyed this immensely & quite chuffed to have clocked the two errors also. Took little over half the time of the back pager & my only head scratcher was last in 25d where I didn’t know the alternative meaning of the definition & had to mentally work through the alphabet until I twigged the homophone & then confirm. 1&28a were both nice long ones but I’ll plump for a podium of 9&21a plus 17d. We’ve been well treated this week with 3 excellent & comparatively gentle Toughies; amuse-bouche for those (not me) with the appetite & ability for the substantial Elgar main course the morrow….
    Thanks to Beam & Gazza.

  9. When I first read this through I thought it was beyond me but I persevered and gradually won through.
    It was a bit of a slog and some of the synonyms were stretched but there were some gems. COTD has to be 27a

  10. Enjoyable puzzle, and I’ll go against the tide here and say that I found it a little more challenging than the backpager, and almost but not quite as enjoyable. Would have been a little quicker had I managed to get Lysander out of my head a bit sooner …

    Creative and ingenious clues, with RT’s trademark stretched synonyms and using most of the tools in the compiler’s toolbox. Great lurker in 5d, laughed out loud when the pennies dropped at 4d and 25d. Loved the fact that there wasn’t a single anagram!

    Hon. mentions almost too many to mention but will limit to 13a (good surface read), 21a (chuckle), 28a, 3d, 4d, 5d, and 25d, with COTD going to 20d.

    Many thanks to Beam and to Gazza.


  11. For me, another very enjoyable puzzle. I did finish it (more that I can say for my attempt at the ‘backpager’), but I was fortunate in doing so. In 4d I had no idea of the rhyming slang, or the possibility of it from the word play, and I was lucky that the only drink I could think of that fit the checkers was the right one. I was similarly lucky in 25d by getting it from the word play and checkers (without knowing the ‘mole’ reference). Like some others, 27a gets my vote for favourite. Many thanks to Beam and Gazza.

  12. As RD commented, what a relief to have this one to turn to after what I found to be most un-enjoyable back-pager.
    Have to confess that I didn’t spot the ‘deliberate mistake’ in 16d but I did wonder a little about 15a.
    Doesn’t matter – my favourite setter is as entitled as the rest of us to make the odd mistake!
    Podium places went to 11,12&21a plus 14d.

    Devotions as ever to Mr T/Beam and thanks to Gazza for the review – the illustration for 18a caused a wry smile!

    1. Chambers Crossword Dictionary lists reprimand under blame and blame under reprimand.

      1. That’s interesting. I’ve checked Collins, Chambers and the OED and none of them link the two words.

      1. If you blame someone you might deliver reprimand, but they aren’t the same thing
        Blame is assigned responsibility for an undesired event or effect (rightly or wrongly)
        Reprimand is the admonishment for such a perceived misdemeanour
        That’s not the same, whatever the dictionary says
        That’ll be 2p thanks, whoever’s paying…

          1. No, but then I’m an awkward sod :smile:
            If A + B = C, C cannot possibly equal A or B unless either A or B is nothing, ie does not exist in which case A or B equals C, not A + B
            Twist the analogy to fit synonyms; it’s the sort of thing I lose sleep over

            1. LBR. Sorry to be tardy, but I couldn’t resist a belated reply. Your comments here are, as usual, very interesting and thought-provoking. But these setters are mere mortals and when researching words they use the simple method of using dictionaries, thesauri and the like. Just as Gazza did when he consulted the Chambers Crossword Dictionary to discover that reprimand is listed under blame and vice-versa.

              They don’t input words/mathematical values into some sort of algebraic/semantic analyser. Only you do that! :-)

              1. We should also bear in mind that the setter of this crossword was Ray T who has been known to stretch synonyms as far as is humanly possible!

                1. That’s very true, CS. And it is also evident that most (if not all) of these setters don’t always stick rigidly to using the BRB as their sole reference source. There may be a little “stretching” here, but not that much considering that they have mutual synonymity in the aforementioned CCD.

                  Personally, I would prefer reproach as synonym for blame but, interestingly, in Collins Online Thesaurus the very first listing under Reprimand is – blame! Reproach is the 4th.

                  * MP, I realise that “Personally, I” might be tautologous.

  13. Well, I loved it. Beam fast becoming another favourite of mine. It’s been a great crossword day for me, with Giovanni and Ray T going mano-a-mano, as it were. I thought 12a was the COTD and made me LOL. I too was lucky with my 4d bung-in and keep wishing I had been somehow schooled on Cockney slang–over here in my palm-lined backwater? (My year’s residence at N’ham U wasn’t enough, alas.) Thanks to Gazza for the hints, which luckily I didn’t need, but I did wonder about that ‘to’ in 15a, further wondering if that kind of jump-over or elision might be permissible in the world of cryptics. And many thanks to Beam. No wonder he is always awarded with Jane’s devotions.

  14. Evening all. My thanks to Gazza for the analysis and to everybody else for your comments. Much appreciated.


    1. Thank goodness you’ve popped in, Mr T, I’m doing my best to defend you but could do with a bit of help!

    2. Many thanks for popping in and for providing us with such an enjoyable puzzle.

  15. I got there in the end, but no idea how long it took. (I just grabbed moments here and there whilst waiting for my computer to delete files. Over two days I have recovered 450GB of hard drive, and deleted just over 10 million files. It’ll need a holiday when I’ve finished with it.)

    My last in was 25d too, but I think 16d was my COTD.

    Thanks to Beam and Gazza.

    1. Strangely, 16d is one that everybody – not without justification – seems to be complaining about!

  16. Nice puzzle to do although some clues were trickier. I also pondered about 15a but got the gist.

    18d reminded me of Frankie Howerd’s response to someone in “Up Pompeii” who described his sweetheart as “so wonderfully chaste”.

    “And so easily caught”.

  17. Took the same time as the backpager and equally enjoyable for me. Had to resort to Gazza’s hint for 25d as had no idea that pier = mole. Thanks everyone

  18. Late checking in today.
    We had the same problem as Gazza trying to sort out 15a.
    All the usual fun from this setter so much appreciated.
    Thanks Beam and Gazza.

  19. RayT has just invented the Lurker Décalé and I congratulate him for that.
    Had awful trouble trying to parse 16d too and even wondered if remand was synonym with split.
    As CS I first thougth that FE was going to be in the word until I had to go back to the drawing board.
    Thesaurus definitely came handy.
    I like charades. So fave has to be 21a.
    Thanks to RayT and to Gazza.

  20. With regard to 16d, I don’t think REPRIMAND can be a synonym for ‘blame’. But that’s probably the point Big Dave was making about Beam and ‘stretched synonyms’.

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