Toughie 288

Toughie No 288 by Myops

A Bad Case of Anagrammitis

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

BD Rating – Difficulty *** Enjoyment **

Having solved the puzzle I was somewhat surprised to find that it was by Myops, bearing in mind that his last Toughie, in the week before Christmas, was given 5 stars for difficulty by Anax who said “I’m giving this five stars for a difficulty that comes partly from very clever and oblique wordplay and partly from some devilish obscurities that should have even experienced solvers ransacking their dictionaries”.
I can’t say that I enjoyed this one a great deal. Nearly half the clues involve an anagram, and some of the surface readings make little sense, but 1d is very clever.
As always, your comments are very welcome.

Across Clues

1a  Medicinal plant creates calm that is wafting round Medical Officer (8 )
{ CAMOMILE } – an anagram (wafting) of CALM and IE round MO.

5a  Worries son will be seen as a soft touch (6)
{ CARESS } – a synonym for worries is followed by S(on).

9a  Take in heavenly body, one that’s not very bright (5)
{ MORON } – R (standing for recipe , the imperative form of the latin verb recipere ) means take – put this inside the earth’s satellite.

10a  How he fills breaks in Seychelles? (9)
{ SELFISHLY } – an anagram (breaks) of HE FILLS goes inside SY (vehicle registration code for the Seychelles) in this semi-all-in-one.

12a  One who dabbles in literature and is remarkably talented with it (10)
{ DILETTANTE } – an anagram (remarkably) of TALENTED and IT produces a superficial arts lover.

13a  Egyptian girl who dances round tree (4)
{ AMLA } – the surface reading here is very smooth – an “Egyptian girl who dances” (i.e. a dancing-girl) is an ALMA. Reverse this (round) to get an East Indian tree .

15a/16a  Deformity attributed to ring could be a clue for Lawrie (11,3)
{ CAULIFLOWER EAR } – this deformity which is a common result of too much boxing (attributed to ring) is an anagram (could be) of A CLUE FOR LAWRIE.

17a/18a  I didn’t expect to see you as old — still warm. Let it all go … (3,1,5,5)
{ IT’S A SMALL WORLD } – this is a phrase which you may utter if you come across an acquaintance unexpectedly (I didn’t expect to see you!). It’s an anagram (let it all go) of AS OLD STILL WARM. I don’t like the surface reading .

20a  … hang! Lots of love, Lambert (4)
{ LOLL } – a verb meaning hang (as a tongue from a mouth) is constructed from LOL (lots of love) and L(ambert) – a lambert being a unit of brightness, equivalent to one lumen per square centimetre, named after a German physicist.

21a  D is letter pointing to door (10)
{ DISMISSIVE } – an adjective meaning rejecting out of hand (pointing to door) starts with D IS, which is followed by a synonym for a letter.

24a  Vast empty city with no place to settle (9)
{ CYCLOPEAN } – the definition is vast. Start with the outside letters (empty) of C(it)Y and add an anagram (to settle) of NO PLACE.

26a  Epic’s title I said regularly (5)
{ ILIAD } – use the even letters (regularly) of “title I said” to get the title of an epic Greek poem , ascribed to Homer, about the siege of Troy.

27a  Hat — a good sort (6)
{ TOPPER } – double definition.

28a  Was rich king conveyed by it? (8 )
{ RICKSHAW } – an Asian form of personal transport is an anagram (conveyed) of WAS RICH and K(ing).

Down Clues

1d  Friends, for instance. Divine one’s what its maker has confused in 12 (6)
{ COMEDY } – Friends was an example (for instance) of this on TV, and if you prefix it with Divine you get the title (which is itself an anagram (confused) of letters 2-6 of 12a) of a work by the poet whose name forms the remaining, outside, letters of 12a.

2d  Digital game learner supports as having virtue (5)
{ MORAL } – the definition is having virtue. A game which involves guessing on the number of fingers (thus digital) being held up is MORA – after this (supporting, in a down clue) put L(earner).

3d  Male nurse must put out solvents for pharmacist (10)
{ MENSTRUUMS } – an anagram (put out) of M(ale) NURSE MUST gives us solvents used in the preparation of drugs.

4d  Spring is part of the year (3)
{ EYE } – hidden (part) in the clue is a word which can mean a spring of water.

6d  Dutch 4-1 up for it? More than up for it (4)
{ AVID } – string together D(utch), IV (4 in Roman numerals) and A (1, one) and then reverse (up) the whole lot to get an adjective meaning very keen (more than up for it).

7d  Empire he’d built? It’s short-lived (9)
{ EPHEMERID } – an anagram (built) of EMPIRE HE’D produces a short-lived insect of the mayfly family.

8d  In second contest between states Kentucky and South Dakota turned up (8 )
{ SKYWARDS } – the definition is the little word lurking right at the end of the clue which looks for all the world as though it belongs with turned. Start with S(econd) and then put WAR (contest) between the abbreviations for the two states, with the second one reversed (turned).

10d  Trying to please I see pink all over (7-4)
{ SPANIEL-LIKE } – an adjective meaning fawning or trying to please is an anagram (over) of I SEE PINK ALL. The surface reading is not brilliant .

11d  W.I. all met, not fussing about Miss March, perhaps, my wife (6,5)
{ LITTLE WOMAN } – an anagram (fussing) of W.I. ALL MET NOT has the luxury of two definitions – firstly one of the heroines of Louisa May Alcott’s novel about the younger female members of the March family, and secondly a condescending way in which a man may refer to his wife.

14d  With Scots dirk may be concealed weapon (5-5)
{ SWORD-STICK } – an anagram (may be) of W(ith) SCOTS DIRK gives us a hollow cane containing a blade.

15d  Place card setting. Does it mean trouble ahead for babies? (6,3)
{ CRADLE CAP } – an anagram ( what else ?) (setting) of PLACE CARD leads to a form of dermatitis common in babies, in which patches of scaly skin form on the scalp (trouble a-head). Another clue in which the surface reading makes no sense to me .

16d  Former partner in mine is left in charge. That’s clear (8 )
{ EXPLICIT } – former partner is EX and mine is PIT, inside which you put L(eft) and IC (in charge). I hope that’s perfectly clear!

19d  Ground for grazing one mowed irregularly (6)
{ MEADOW } – make an anagram (irregularly) of A (one) and MOWED to get ground for grazing.

22d  Independent state with quiet people (5)
{ IRISH } – string together I(ndependent), the abbreviation for Rhode Island (state) and an injunction to keep the noise down (quiet!) to get a people.

23d  Vestment he lost at Prestonpans (4)
{ COPE } – double definition, the second being the name of the losing commander of the English forces who were routed by the Scots at the battle of Prestonpans (which lasted all of 15 minutes!).

25d  Tune to be broadcast (3)
{ AIR } – double definition.

I liked 12a and 14d today, but my favourite clue is 1d. What do you think? – tell us in a comment!


  1. Prolixic
    Posted January 20, 2010 at 1:10 pm | Permalink

    It was nice to have a Myops puzzle that was less ferocious. Looking back I can see that there were a huge number of anagrams though, oddly, it did not seem like it whilst solving. I liked 1d but also enjoyed 22d.

  2. BigBoab
    Posted January 20, 2010 at 1:19 pm | Permalink

    Too many anagrams but I quite enjoyed it. I agree that 1d and 12a are the best clues. I didn’t like 4d and had never heard of 3d or 13a but they were all findable.

    • Posted January 20, 2010 at 1:54 pm | Permalink

      ..and I was sure that 23d would be your favourite! :D

      • BigBoab
        Posted January 20, 2010 at 7:22 pm | Permalink

        Sorry about the delay in responding Gazza, I lost my internet connection yet again. I did like 23d but hesitated to rub it in, it reminds me of the story we tell to Sassenachs about the only place in Scotland where there are more Englishmen than Scots—– Bannockburn and they are all 6ft. under. (Only jesting of course, I lived in England for 40yrs and loved it.)

  3. Mike (Touchwood)
    Posted January 20, 2010 at 1:23 pm | Permalink

    Really struggled with this today – had to use all the letter hints in cluedup and still couldn’t finish it. Was going to whinge about a few clues, but your explanations have cleared up some things – hadn’t realised for example that the definition in 8d was the last word only, with the penultimate word being an indicator. I will still complain about 13a though – nothing clever about this, it’s a general knowledge question, and if you have never heard of either word (the answer and the answer reversed) then there is simply no way to solve it without recourse to some fairly heavy googling. I accept that some solvers are happy with this, and that also a good vocabulary is needed to solve cryptics, but I dislike this sort of thing intensely. Also 10a – where’s the definition in the clue? Do others find this acceptable?

    Enough of complaints – it’s probably just sour grapes ‘cos I couldn’t finish it – and I am in awe of the mental dexterity that can lead to the complexity of 1d.

    • Posted January 20, 2010 at 2:00 pm | Permalink

      For 10a you’re meant to read the whole clue as the definition, so it’s a (sort of) all-in-one clue, but not a very good one since the answer could be virtually any adverb. It’s only the wordplay which leads you to the right one,

  4. gnomethang
    Posted January 20, 2010 at 2:31 pm | Permalink

    Quite enjoyed this and didn’t find it too troublesome – I also didnt notice all the anagrams.
    Agree with 1a as favourite also 14d.

  5. Chris
    Posted January 20, 2010 at 5:06 pm | Permalink

    never come across 3d 7d 13ac or 24ac so it was more of a search than to my taste.
    curiously the overall effect was that it was quite fun!
    Thankyou for the hints Gazza

  6. Posted January 20, 2010 at 6:49 pm | Permalink

    Took this with me to the Clinic and was a bit disppointed to finish it so quickly. Normally Myops takes me as long an an Elgar, but this had too many anagrams for my liking.

%d bloggers like this: