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Toughie 538

Toughie No 538 by Myops

Hints and tips by Tilsit

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

The Friday Challenge this week comes from Myops and as usual with his puzzles, I found it quite a tough challenge and if I am honest, not as enjoyable as the other puzzles this week. I did wonder whether we would be treated to something appropriate for the day, but it was not to be. There is a mini-theme and a sort of Nina related to 5 down in the grid.

There are some nice clues and clever constructions, but whether I am feeling a bit drained from my recent exertions and a bit all puzzled out (you’ll get to see why on BBC4 in September!), but I just found it difficult to tune in to this puzzle. I think I’ll have to spend time wrestling with the Wee Stinker puzzle to get inside Myops’ mind a little.

Thanks to Myops for today’s challenge.

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. Favourite clues have been highlighted in blue.


1a    Finding excuse to dash off and book exhumation (10)
{BUNBURYING} We start with a word sum today. A word first coined by Oscar Wilde in The Importance of Being Earnest is found by taking B (for book) and adding a word meaning digging up a dead body, although it is not given as a noun as such in Chambers.

6a    Spin as some bowling may be if not so (4)
{SEAM} If you remove the word “so” from “as some” and anagram it (indicated by “spin”), you will get a type of bowling in cricket.

9a    Before your lips curled masking suspicions of extortion and vice (10)
{PREVIOUSLY} A word meaning before is found by taking the first letters (suspicions) of extortion and vice and wrapping around them an anagram of “your lips”.

10a    Use tomography for cases in Sweden and Norway. It’s characteristic of them (4)
{SCAN} A clue with two different definitions, plus some indications. CA is given in Chambers as an abbreviation for cases and this goes inside the IVR abbreviations for the two countries. This gives you a word for a medical procedure and also an abbreviation for people from the two countries named.

13a    Beastly clue about gobbling northern cattle feed (7)
{LUCERNE} The name for a type of grass used as cattle fodder is found by taking an anagram (indicated by beastly) of CLUE and adding to it a short word meaning “about” with N for northern inside.

15a    A refusal leads to murmurs, insults and eventually breakdown in civilised conduct (6)
{ANOMIE} Another wordsum. A + a word meaning refusal is added to the first letters of “murmurs, insults and eventually” and leads you to a word meaning a sense of hopelessness.

16a    Telltale tingle: half of that first sounds like 2 (6)
{SNITCH} Quite a complicated clue. It’s a sort of reverse of 10ac. This time we have two sets of indications and one definition which is telltale. It’s a word that means a homophone of the answer at 2 down. The other indication? A word meaning “tingle” has half of it, the chemical symbol for “tin” placed at the front to also indicate the word.

17a    Guilt for a sin the Wombles rule out (15)
{BLAMEWORTHINESS} An anagram (indicated by “out”) of A SIN THE WOMBLES plus R (for Rule) reveals a word meaning guilt.

18a    Sharp answer rebuffed revolutionary sign of hesitation (6)
{RETORT} A nickname for a revolutionary, similar to a Marxist is added to what you say when you hesitate. When this is all reversed, you get a word meaning a quick snappy answer.

20a    Pilot organization in move to the right (6)
{GEORGE} The name for the automatic pilot in a plane is found by taking the abbreviation for organization and putting it inside a word that means to move a horse to the right.

21a    Service held by brave French abbot (7)
{BERNARD} My initial thought was to find the abbot in Romeo and Juliet, but the man from Google he say no! However he did say that there was a famous abbot called Bernard of Clairvaux and one from Kilwinning in Scotland. RN (a service) goes inside a word meaning brave.

22a    Earliest signs of spud harvest and wood (4)
{SHAW} The first letters of “spud harvest and wood” lead you the Scottish name for the above-ground parts of a potato plant.

25a    Trite postings on one topic are located by browser first (10)
{THREADBARE} A word meaning hackneyed or trite is found by taking a word meaning a list of postings on one topic on a message board and adding to it B (the first letter of browser) + ARE.

26a    Widow for a short time in south India’s capital? (4)
{SATI} A sort of all-in-one clue. A word for a widow in India is found by taking A + T inside S I (Southern + India’s capital)

27a    Squeeze girl up lane before anything’s said (10)
{PRELINGUAL} An anagram (indicated by squeeze) of GIRL UP LANE reveals a word meaning before something is uttered.


1d           Bruce Forsyth repeatedly says ‘1, 2, 3, 4’ and dances (4)
{BOPS}  Some people will think this clever and love it, some will probably dislike it.  I can’t make my mind up.  Take the first letter of the first word in the clue, the second of the second word, and so on.  This gives you a word meaning dances.

2d           Persons or person stupidly rejecting proportional representation? (4)
{NOES}  Another clue I’m not sure about.  Initially I entered “ones”, as I took the definition to be “persons”; however once I solved 1 ac, I realised it had to be something else and could see it was defined by the whole clue.  Take the word “person” and after removing PR (proportional representation) rearrange the letters to get someone who rejects a proposal.

3d           Singular noun I query, defining it more narrowly (6)
{UNIQUE}  Hidden in the phrase “noun I query” is a word meaning singular.

4d           Possibly play song with bounce relevantly somehow passing on G.B.S. (3,5,3,4)
{YOU NEVER CAN TELL}  Another anagram, this time of SONG, BOUNCE and RELEVANTLY minus the letters of ON GBS.  This gives you a play written by someone with the aforementioned abbreviations and can be found in the grid.

5d           Look in nursery nurses’ cases for stockings (6)
{NYLONS}  A word meaning “look!” goes inside the first and last letters (cases) of “nursery nurses” to give the name of a type of stockings.

7d           Flicks each X-rated with Rome’s authority (2,8)
{EX CATHEDRA}  An anagram (indicated by flicks) of  EACH X-RATED leads you to a Latin phrase meaning under the governance of the church.

8d           Male peripatetic teachers covering new city (10)
{MANCHESTER}  M (for male)is added to an anagram (indicated by peripatetic) of TEACHERS and N (for new) inside, gives a famous northern city.

11d         But for joke miss out television for instance and ‘to boldly go’ (10)
{BARBARISMS} A clever clue a word that can mean “but for” is added to the same word which also means a joke in Scotland and then added to an anagram (indicated by out) of MISS.  This gives the name for forms of speech offensive to scholarly taste – examples of which (for instance) are “television”, a mixture of Greek and Latin roots, and “to boldly go”, a famous split infinitive.

12d         True to a person of outstanding virtue. The Queen! (5,5)
{LOYAL TOAST}  This one doesn’t quite work for me.  Had the clue or the last part been in inverted commas, I think it would have worked better for me.  A word meaning true is tacked onto TO and A plus an abbreviation for someone who is virtuous.  This gives something that is said in honour of Her Majesty.

13d         Academician in Berlin edited ancient Greek script (6,1)
(LINEAR B)  A (for academician) goes inside an anagram (edited) of BERLIN and reveals a method of writing ancient Greek.

14d         In charge in Eden wrongly eating fruit finally if tempted (7)
{ENTICED}  An anagram (wrongly) of EDEN has IC (in charge) and T (the last letter of fruit), to reveal a word meaning tempted.

19d         Tie? With Thailand there may be (6)
{TETHER}  The IVR for Thailand is added to an anagram of THERE will lead you to a word meaning tie.

20d         Tiered seats require some back protection I’d argue (6)
{GRADIN)  The name for tiered seats in an amphitheatre is hidden backwards in the phrase “protection I’d argue”

23d         Graduate at British university may be superficially learned (4)
{BABU}  The name for a Hindu with a superficial education can be found by taking the abbreviation for a graduate and adding it to B (British) U (University).

24d         Scots very ruthless with iron will (4)
{FELL}  A double definition and indication clue.  A word for “very” in Scotland, as well as also meaning ruthless can be found by taking the chemical symbol for Iron and adding ‘LL  (will)

Phew!  A stiff challenge today and one to finish a good week of puzzles.   There are three consecutive across answers that will lead you to the author of the big down answer, as well as the abbreviations in the clue. See you next Friday!

14 comments on “Toughie 538

  1. I agree with all Tilsit’s remarks in his prologue. Quite a challenge but not as much fun as some this week. Also I am not a fan of words that make sense in the wordplay but you have to check in the dictionary to make sure they exist. I did like the theme. Thanks to Myops for the proper Friday level toughie, to Tilsit for the hints and to Gnomey for the back and forth emails that enabled us both to get to the end of the struggle.

  2. I found this fine without bursting out laughing at any time. 1a was rather good though!. Thanks to Myops and Tilsit for the review

  3. Those pesky four letter words, 3 still to go, keep persevating on for a bit but I think defeat will need to be admitted!

    1. Ok, I had to admit defeat, so thank you Tilsit for the comprehensive review. Couldn’t fathom out why 24d had to be what it was until now. Still fathoming out 16a despite the comprehensive clue, getting late in the day, Think if i look at it afresh it’ll hit me straight away. Thanks again to Tilsit and Myops

      1. A snitch is a telltale and another name for a nose (sounds like noes). A tingle is an itch and the chemical symbol for tin (the first part of tingle) is Sn.

  4. Enjoyable tussle (although made more difficult for me by a simultaneous tussle with an insomniac infant).

    11D was my favourite clue, but there were plenty of good ones. I’m definitely in the pro-1D camp.

    1. Ultimately I agree. I had HOPS or BOPS and also put ONES in at 2d as Tilsit did. Once 1a was proven to be apparently insoluble with O as the second letter I remembered my Oscar Wilde and then went back and figured out why 1d was the answer. I have seen the construction recently and thought that it worked quite well.

  5. I really enjoyed this one – my favourite of the week. I am in the pro-1d camp too, probably my favourite clue of the puzzle.
    I also put ONES for 2d, which caused me a few problems, but I got there in the end.
    Thanks to Myops, and to Tilsit for the notes.

  6. Isn’t it silly? I romped through this (though I did need an explanation for 1d and 11d) whereas yesterday I managed “feta” and that, literally, was that! I loved 1a. It went with 4d and the other GBS references dotted through the puzzle. 28a was brilliant.

  7. Very enjoyable crossword from Myops and a great review from Tilsit, not a lot else to say except “more please”.

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