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Toughie 378

Toughie No 378 by Myops


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

I feel a bit guilty as I’m writing this in a desperate rush; busy day. Blimey, I found this tough – a clutch of obscure answers saw me delving into Chambers and several wordplays had me clutching at irrelevant straws.

It was enjoyable though. Were it not for the obscurities and a few small quibbles I’d have given this more stars, but there are some beautiful clues in here.

Please leave a comment telling us what you thought. You can also add your assessment by selecting from one to five stars at the bottom of the post.


1a    Fancy pastries? That is where to buy them (10)
{PATISSERIE} A first class opener. An anagram (fancy) of PASTRIES plus the Latin abbreviation meaning that is leads to a type of shop where you would indeed buy fancy pastries.

6a    Show no respect for grass (4)
{DISS} Dictionaries at the ready for this double meaning clue, where a slang contraction of ‘disrespect’ also means a type of reedy grass of Algeria.

9a    Submit for publication short story about Eve’s origin, leaving nothing out (10)
{CONTRIBUTE} This one’s very tough. Take CONTE (as a literary genre, this is the short story) and put it around a type of bone which is supposedly the one from which Eve was made and the letters of OUT which are leaving nothing, i.e. the O has to be deleted.

10a    Is it just the taxman that’s after soccer bosses? (4)
{FAIR} Not entirely happy with the wording here, although Myops has created a convincing picture. The answer means ‘equable’/’right’, shown as is it just in the clue (perhaps it is just – without the QM at the end – would be better). Wordplay uses the abbreviation for Inland Revenue (taxman) after the abbreviation for Football Association (soccer bosses).

12a    This dance of Kate Moss is for all dancing (6)
{FLORAL} The Kate Moss reference is a sly one as it refers to the original composer (known as “Katie”) who penned the song in question in 1911. The missing word of the title is an anagram (dancing) of FOR ALL.

13a    One of 7, favourite one for a skin condition (8)
{IMPETIGO} To understand this one you need to know that the answer at 7d is the plural form of IMAGO, the final stage of an insect’s development. Take that word and replace the A with a word for favourite (think ‘teacher’) and I (one).

15a    Introduce her to eBay’s hard wheeling and dealing in buttons and bows (12)
{HABERDASHERY} This is cleverly constructed and reads very well. Put (introduce) HER inside and anagram (wheeling) of EBAY’S HARD to get a word meaning dealing in buttons and bows.

18a    Clubs can have people in stitches almost laughing out loud (12)
{CACHINNATION} Start with C (abbreviation for clubs, as in cards) and a 6-letter word meaning a people or the country they live in. The next bit doesn’t seem very sound – in stitches almost is supposed to indicate that ACHING minus its last letter is to be inserted, but the positioning of in doesn’t work for me.

21a    Elder baffled by computer technology that’s dilapidated (8)
{DERELICT} This easier offering takes an anagram (baffled) of ELDER and an abbreviation for ‘information and communication technology’ to give a word meaning dilapidated.

22a    Tailored coats will incorporate conservative buttonhole (6)
{ACCOST} I’ve seen (or been forced to use) this word so often in crosswords I doubted anyone would find an original treatment, so Myops has done well here. An anagrammed (or tailored) version of COATS is placed around the abbreviation for conservative to give a word cleverly defined here as buttonhole – think of that as a verb.

24a    The postal system in Motherwell is first-class (4)
{MAIL} I’m assuming, then, that the postcode tag for Motherwell is ML! Inside this, place a 2-letter representation of first-class to find a word meaning postal system.

25a    One a little confused about English writing (or reading) maybe (10)
{ILLITERATE} I’ll give this the blue highlighter, not least for effort and the fact that I’m a sucker for the &Lit (all-in-one) clue. Even so, it feels like the wording just ties itself in knots very slightly – whatcha think? Start with I (one again) then an anagram (confused) of A LITTLE. Place these around E (English) and a letter, usually referred to as a trio, for one of the subjects we learn at school; correctly, it can only stand for reading. In creating the &Lit Myops chose to place writing and reading in that order – being picky, perhaps they should have been the other way around?

26a    Queeg’s command omits one punishment (4)
{CANE} Think of The — Mutiny, a 1951 novel by Herman Wouk – Queeg was a Lieutenant Commander on board the ship, thus it was his command. Remove our old friend I (one) to leave a long-gone school punishment.

27a    Revolutionary views stir most up round Bourbon state (10)
{TROTSKYISM} I haven’t seen the anagram indicator up used for a long time, but it seems pretty fair – the phrase “What’s up?” means the same as “What’s wrong?” So make an anagram of STIR MOST as place it around the abbreviation for Kentucky, which is known as the Bourbon state.


1d    Smart borders provided calm (6)
{PACIFY} This tricky little offering takes a word for smart (as in nifty, quick) and puts it around a 2-letter word meaning provided (i.e. given that) – the answer is a verb, not an adjective, meaning calm.

2d    Fibrous tissue had stuck in part of joint (6)
{TENDON} Another tricky one. The answer is a type of fibrous tissue which attaches muscle to e.g. bone, and the wordplay takes the letter D and places it inside a word a projection at the end of a piece of wood which forms part of a joint. So, that letter D. It’s defined here as had, which works if you view it as a contraction as in “I’d got a difficult clue to solve”, or “I had a difficult…”

3d    Soft drink all pass round R&A twice keeps one up (12)
{SARSAPARILLA} A difficult answer and pretty tortured wordplay – it’s unlikely this was one of your first answers in the grid. It’s a soft drink we want, and to find it we start with ALL PASS. In two separate places we insert R(&)A, and finally also insert our old friend I (one) and then reverse everything.

4d    Where Bonaparte planned battle with no heart for it? (4)
{ELBA} Beautiful historical reference combined with semi-&Lit wordplay which uses an anagram (planned is the indicator) of BATTLE but without its heart, i.e. remove TT from the middle.

5d    Bully – one meat I’d tin when pickled (10)
{INTIMIDATE} Another clever construction which deceptively points to bully beef. The answer means to bully and uses – guess what? – I (one) and an anagram (pickled) of MEAT I’D TIN.

7d    Daydreams as Gemini being versatile does (8)
{IMAGINES} On first reading I wondered if this slightly convoluted anagram indicator for AS GEMINI (being versatile does) works, but it does indeed; AS GEMINI being versatile (anagram indicator) works (does) in finding the answer.

8d    Busy cross roads around New York providing material for cameos (8)
{SARDONYX} This clue ventures marginally into indirect anagram territory, taking a jumble of X (cross) ROADS and placing it around the abbreviation for New York.

11d    Wings of Scottish Kirk lessen after Disruption role of senior elder (7-5)
{SESSION-CLERK} Another soupcon of grumble; wings of Scottish Kirk is meant to indicate SCO and IRK, which joins LESSEN as the anagram fodder (Disruption – in Scottish history, the separation of the Free and Established Churches in 1843 – is the indicator). Wings of Scottish Kirk had me looking for just two letters; three from each side was just about impossible to guess.

14d    Jargon for Vergeltungswaffe: nuclear modification on a rocket head (10)
{VERNACULAR} WWII scholars will remember that the V of V-1 (flying bomb) stood for Vergeltungswaffe, so this ties in with the anagram (modification) of NUCLEAR which is followed by A and the first letter (head) of Rocket. The answer means jargon.

16d    Change I made in a carbon copy for reader perhaps (8)
{ACADEMIC} Change indicates an anagram of I MADE, which is placed inside A and the abbreviation for carbon copy. The answer can be a reader or any learned person.

17d    Sign name young member of family adopts for rising star group (8)
{SCORPION} I’m wondering if there’s a small error here. If we ignore Sign at the beginning, we use SCION (young member of family – I spent ages looking at SON) and place it around (so it adopts) a word (often a prefix) meaning for/supporting. This last bit is reversed. The answer is a star group – that is, a group of stars. So sign at the beginning seems irrelevant and detracts from the smoothness of the clue.

19d    In USA nuts Ohio tops Rhode Island as butternut source (6)
{SOUARI} Another rare word here, a source of butternut. Take an anagram (nuts) of USA and in that place an abbreviation for Ohio – follow that (tops, a down-clue construct) with the state abbreviation for Rhode Island.

20d    Current money rate’s adjusted upward (6)
{STREAM} This is a unusual but fair wordplay treatment in which an abbreviation for money is followed by an anagram (adjusted) of RATE’S, all of which is then reversed – so you’re not actually reversing the resulting letters but the order of the wordplay, since part of that wordplay is an anagram.

23d    Main point of G&T is being tipsy (4)
{GIST} It’s by no means my favourite tipple (perhaps it might be if I ever tried it) but this anagram (tipsy) of G, T and IS gives a word which means the main point (idea) of something.

I’m going to go and lie down for a bit now.

17 comments on “Toughie 378

  1. Thanks for the review and I concur. Eventually I gave up trying to understand some of the wordplay here as my head was going a bit (18a, 11d, 8d, 9a for example).
    As for 3d, Sufferin Succotash! – I could spend the rest of my day off thinking of ways to spell that word and they would all look better than the correct one!
    I’m glad you pointed out 17d as having put the answer in I kept looking from the front to the back to try and figure out who was doing what.
    My favourites were 22a for the definition alone, 23d for the laugh and in particular the excellent surface reading and construction of 15a.
    Thanks again and thanks to Myops for the excellent workout!

  2. Agree completely with assessment. 1a is really obvious so you think this OK, and then you read on and think “what a Friday toughie”. The anagrams are all well signed and so easy to get but some of the other words had me stumped for ages. Thank goodness for google and the dictionary – I knew the answer to 3d but had trouble spelling it even with the checking letters and as for 18a – another word I didn’t know and will probably never need to know again! As Anax says definitely a puzzle where you need a lie down afterwards.

    1. I ending up concluding it was scorpio + n for name but still not sure why it relates to clue

      1. Tsk tsk – you’re both giving the answer away.

        Me too. SCORPIO + N accounts for “sign” and “name”, leaving “star group” as the def, but that leaves the unaccounted-for “young member of family adopts for rising” (which is quite a lot!).

        1. I threw the answer in practically from the checking letters and one of the potential definitions. I was still sufficiently compos mentis to want to work out the wordplay and I picked up SCION quite quickly with the ‘for’ reversal. My money is on a slight error and the ‘Sign’ being superfluous. The only thing about that is that the answer is not the star group itself but the sign for it. Maybe if the ‘sign’ were moved to the end (star group sign) then this light all go away!. I’m going to lie back down then get out and watch the footy.

            1. BD and I read it that way. But it leaves “sign” as a def at the start and “star group” as one at the end, which is why it looks like the former may be an accidental remnant of a clue edit.

    2. To clarify:

      1. Sign name (SCORPIO +N[ame] or maybe just sign name [see 3])
      2. young member of family adopts for rising (SCION AROUNG PRO reversed)
      3. star group – according to the ODE “(the Scorpion) the zodiacal sign Scorpio or the constellation Scorpius”

      1. Its far too hot for all this cogitation! Cool darkened room then some of Mary’s chilled wine, methinks!!

      2. mea culpa: a clumsy clue ( Sign name/ young member of family adopts for rising/ star group, as Big Dave observed) fashioned by my failure to note that the current (2008) Chambers removes its previous distinction between sign and constellation.

        1. Welcome to the blog, Myops, although you have previously visited under your “real” name.

          Thanks a lot for the clarification.

  3. Managed to finish it without the Blog, but needed your explanation, Anax, as to why! Particularly 6 (what happened to the well-known town in Norfolk?), 12, 1 & 2. And 26a, which I read as “Queen”, which didn’t help. 4* for difficulty, but otherwise agree with Anax’s review, for which many thanks.

  4. Gave up with 18A and 11D left unsolved. Might have guessed 11D on another day but had “lessons clerk” as an idea that wouldn’t quite go away despite lack of wordplay, which in turn had me looking for an -ING ending for 18. Guessed about the grass at 6A, and didn’t know about K Moss & the floral dance, or Capt. Queeg.

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