Toughie 578 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 578

Toughie No 578 by Myops


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

Afternoon All (again!). Tilsit has an appointment today so you get a double dose of me! Huzzah!. When I agreed to fill in I thought that we were due another Myops puzzle and approached the day with some trepidation as I often find him very difficult. In the event I found this to be on the gentle side of Myops but still pretty tricky – thanks to my fellow bloggers, Crypticsue in particular, for helping out with the wordplay. This was a smashing puzzle with some excellent clues in it. I have decided to get the blue highlighter out for my favourites and name the puzzle after my failure to parse 17a.

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           Choosing to tour two states? American one presents deceptive appearance (7,8)
{OPTICAL ILLUSION} – Put two abbreviated American states, then a short form of the United States and I(one) inside a word for pick or choosing (as a noun). This is a feat accomplished by a magician or a ‘trompe l’oeil’

9a           Dexter could be chiefly relied upon (5-4)
{RIGHT-HAND} – The man that the chief or commander relies upon. Dexter is capitalised at the front to look like a name rather than a non sinister Latin word.

10a         Joint one bends on bender (5)
{ELBOW} – The joint of the body that gets most exercise when drinking pints on a bender!.

11a         Still fighting fit and free to overcome resistance (7)
{UNTIRED} – A synonym for ‘still fighting fit’ or fresh. The SI abbreviation for Resistance is swallowed (overcome) by free or released.

12a         Penniless tobacco picker could sew up pocket with this (7)
{BORACIC} – We have a compound anagram here. The definition is penniless as a skint cockney might describe himself. An anagram of TOBACCO PICKER is also an anagram (might be sewn up) of POCKET and the answer. I managed to spot this although it is my least favourite type of clue (As Prolixic well knows!).

13a         Fowler might be interested in this review of Modern English Usage headings (3)
{EMU} – A Fowler is someone who is interested in birds and poultry. Make an anagram (review) of the starting letters (headings) of Modern English Usage. Lovely clue since Henry W. Fowler wrote “A Dictionary of Modern English Usage”

14a         Dubious lender advanced roubles (7)
{UNCLEAR} – A charade of an old term for the pawn shop (Who your mum used to go and see with the wedding ring when times were hard!) with the abbreviations for Advanced and Roubles gives an adjective meaning dubious or ill-defined.

17a         Choral Evensong maybe heals schism among the clergy — and creates new one (3,4)
{GOD SLOT} – A group of clergymen could be described as GOD’S LOT. If you close the gap (heal the schism) and then create a new one elsewhere you will find the neologism that defines Choral Evensong and also Radio 4’s ‘Thought for the Day’, a regular space in a program given over to worship or prayer. Thanks to Prolixic and Crypticsue for helping me with the wordplay.

19a         Light case for the Spanish Queen in northern Tunisia (7)
{LANTERN} – Follow a Spanish definite article (the Spanish) with the usual abbreviation for Her Maj, placed inside N(orthern) and the IVR code for Tunisia. The light case is the typically brass windproof candle-holder.

22a         Wasn’t she well matched and extremely energetic in caber tossing? (7)
{REBECCA} – I can’t vouch for her ability in the Highland Games but Daphne Du Maurier’s eponymous heroine the wife of Isaac, who first demonstrated her suitability at a well according to the Bible, can be found by adding the extremes of EnergetiC in a tossed anagram of CABER. Thanks to Gazza for pointing this one out – ‘Well-Matched’ went straight over my head!

24a         Little fish even in 5 (3)
{AYU} – An unknown word for me but easy if you have solved 5d. The even letters are also a small Japanese fish also known as the sweetfish (and conversely a type of smelt!).

25a         Recipe that’s cooked perfectly (7)
{RECEIPT} – A wonderful &Lit or all in one clue. The answer is more commonly known as a record of a transaction but is also an old word for a recipe. Make an anagram (that’s cooked) of RECIPE. Then take a synonym for perfectly (2,1,1) and expand it. This gives the instruction in cryptic crosswords to place the former anagram against the final letter in the phrase. Top stuff!

26a         Unwed, left in bed and, we forgot, wrapped up like babies (7)
{BUNDLED} – This sounds like a sorry tale!. A synonym for ‘swaddled’ or ‘wrapped up like babies’. Start with UNWED and L(eft) then ‘forget’ the WE and put it all in BED. Please see comment ~8 below where Myops nudges me in the direction of the charming definition that defines the cryptic wordplay.

28a         Fungus from east on religious painting from east (5)
{ENOKI} – I had to look this up to confirm but the wordplay is clear. This edible fungus is a reversal (from the East indicates East to West, i.e. left to right) of a religious painting after (ON in an across clue) E for East.

29a         After ache is treated intention is to reverse deficiency in blood supply (9)
{ISCHAEMIA} – Another reach for the dictionary to confirm a word that is gettable from the clear directions. One’s intention is an AIM – reverse this after an anagram (treated) of ACHE IS and you will find ‘an inadequate flow of blood to a part of the body’

30a         Liberal friends had since realigned with no vote (15)
{DISENFRANCHISED} – A lovely anagram (liberal) of FRIENDS HAD SINCE leaves an adjective meaning ‘realigned with no vote’. Super surface reading and extra deception point to Myops for placing the potential anagram indicator, realigned, in the definition itself.


1d           Work free from undue ritual (3,6,6)
{OUR MUTUAL FRIEND} – A literary work by Charles Dickens is an anagram (free) of FROM UNDUE RITUAL. Without having read the book I must say that this anagram, although well spotted, leapt out at me perhaps faster than it ought. Kids! – the video below shows how NOT to propose!

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2d           Hardly flush though inebriated (5)
{TIGHT} – A double meaning for miserly (not being flush with money) and drunk. Sounds like me whilst writing this blog at 2 a.m.!

3d           Recite lists going round circle; select one (7)
{COTERIE} – A select band or circle/clique. I was initially going to quibble with the possible double duty being played by circle but this is actually a very good semi-all-in-one. The instruction is to make an anagram of RECITE (it lists) going around (the outside of) O for circle. ‘select one’ describes the type of circle and provides the definition to the rest of the clue. I am guessing that Myops intended to create a refreshing change from the usual COTERIES/ESOTERIC anagrams that are now achieving chestnut status!

4d           Byron learned perhaps to emulate him (7)
{LEANDER} – An anagram of LEARNED. This Greek character used to regularly swim from Sestos to Abydos to see his beloved, Hero. Lord Byron famously repeated this swim.

5d           Angel’s latest bad guy to be reformed. He’s spotted with wings (7)
{LADYBUG} – This little insect is an anagram of BADGUY (to be reformed) after the last letter in angeL.

6d           They couldn’t have helped Antony if you include name that’s not deserved (7)
{UNEARED} – A wonderful clue that had me laughing. A word for people lacking a certain sensory organ. There are two definitions here, the second is the instruction to add an N(ame ) to the answer to get a word meaning ‘not deserved’. The first one requires us to remember a quotation by Mark Antony in Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar and what he asked of his “Friends….”, then consider those who don’t have the necessary to help him out!.

7d           I honour Charlie overlooking one line I see as fatuous (9)
{IMBECILIC} – Fatuous or stupid. A charade of I, an honour bestowed by the Queen in front of (overlooking) One, a Line and how one might write ‘I see’ in a text message.

8d           Breaking and entry was old crime first investigated here? (3,8,4)
{NEW SCOTLAND YARD} – A lovely semi all-in-one and a very well constructed clue. An anagram (breaking) of AND ENTRY WAS OLD C(rime) leads to a place where crimes are investigated in London.

15d         Aware of coins circulating in Colorado and all over United States (9)
{CONSCIOUS} – A circulating anagram of COINS inside the abbreviation for Colorado state, all above (over in a down clue) the same abbreviation for America in 1a. This gives an adjective meaning aware or sentient.

16d         Atmosphere around Italy is essentially upmarket (3)
{AIR} – A cheeky little clue for atmosphere. Around Italy IS (i.e. is placed) the middle letters (essentially) of upmarket.

18d         Feel under obligation to say nothing to caller (3)
{OWE} – To be beholden to. It is a homophone (to caller) of how one might say O, nothing.

20d         Rabble-rousing leader leaves impression (7)
{EDITION} – Remove the first letter (leader leaves) from an act of rabble-rousing or treason to get an impression that is another word for a single print of a book or a reprint  from the same plates or type setting. Excellent surface reading!

21d         International breaks jaw with greater style (7)
{NATTIER} – We would say ‘cooler’ nowadays!. This slightly dated word for ‘with greater style’ results from the inclusion of I(nternational) in a synonym for jaw or gossip.

22d         Point of no return: 1BC? No, possibly earlier — are you tuned in? (7)
{RUBICON} – This was Julius Caesar’s point of no return. When he passed over this small river with one legion he deliberately committed an act of insurrection and made war inevitable. Make an anagram (possibly) of I BC NO and then add at the front (earlier)  the letters that are a homophone (tuned in?) of ‘are you’.

23d         At the foot of mountain heat hazes (7)
{BENEATH} – A Scottish mountain and an anagram (hazes) of HEAT mean ‘at the foot of’.

27d         Fertilises boundary trees (5)
{LIMES} – A double meaning to end with. To fertilise with an alkaline and a tree (also known as the Linden) often planted as a boundary to properties. Gazza has pointed out that this is actually a triple definition with to fertilise with an alkaline, the trees and ALSO that ‘Limes’ are defined in Chambers as “A boundary or boundary fortification, esp of the Roman Empire”. Thanks again Gazza!.

Many thanks to Myops for a real Friday Toughie. Personally I don’t think that he comes round often enough!.


19 comments on “Toughie 578

  1. I found this very hard to get into today and it definitely merits the 4* difficulty score. I did like 13a (and I like your picture too) and 6d was my favourite. Thanks to Myops for giving my brain a very tough workout and to Gnomey for the review. I feel our male readers, Gazza especially, will be sorry you chickened out of your original suggestion for illustrating 1a :D

  2. Good stuff by Myops. Thanks to him and Gnomey for the review. I think the original suggestion for the 1a illustration was better (especially as I can’t work out what I’m failing to see in the current one! – I didn’t have that problem with the original one :D )

      1. I didn’t have any problem identifying the points of interest in your original picture!

  3. Excellent offering from Myops very tough but fair needed the Red Book many times, favourites for me 25a 8d and 20d thanks to Myops and to Gnomethang for the super review.

  4. After a slow start I managed to pick up speed. With Myops I usually ginrd to a halt so he must have been taking pity on us. Very inventive and fun crossword. Favourite clue was 22a. I took the “well matched” to be a reference to Rebecca in the pages of old Testament (Genesis 24) rather than to the novel.

    Many thanks to Gnome for the review and to Myops for the workout.

    1. Thanks Prolixic, Gazza emailed me with a couple of corrections. In fact Rebecca first proved herself a worthy bride for Isaac following a test devised by Abraham’s servant Eliezer:

      “Eliezer devised a test in order to find the right wife for Isaac. As he stood at the central well in Abraham’s birthplace with his men and ten camels laden with goods, he prayed to God:

      “Let it be that the maiden to whom I shall say, ‘Please tip over your jug so I may drink,’ and who replies, ‘Drink, and I will even water your camels,’ her will You have designated for Your servant, for Isaac” (Genesis 24:14).

      To his surprise, a young girl immediately came out and offered to draw water for him to drink, as well as water to fill the troughs for all his camels. Rebecca continued to draw water until all the camels were sated, proving her kind and generous nature and her suitability for entering Abraham’s household.”

      Ain’t Wiki Wunnerful!

  5. Wow!, what a corker. Many thanks to Myops for stretching me to my limit and beyond ( I needed your assistance with 28a ) and many thanks to Gnomethang for a fabulous review. Personal favourite was 8d.

  6. Oh dear, was left with 4 which even with the checking letters I couldn’t fathom without resorting to the hints, but hey ho you win some you lose some. Did get 17a and 12a but agree i’m not a fan of this type of anagram. Liked 1a and 8d. 28a never seen the word spelled that way before so was pleased to have answer confirmed. Many thanks to Gnomey and Myops

    1. On 28a I had a C not a K all the way up to hitting submit. I had to look it up as I had heard the word but not seen it written down (as far as I recall).

  7. Isn’t it ironic? I loved this “Toughie” and romped through it finishing soon after breakfast. The “easier” crypric on the other hand…….!

  8. I’m glad to see the Good Book read. Many thanks for the kind words, some of them unearned. You may be intrigued by the mention of an “old custom” in one definition of “bundle” in Chambers; and does anyone think 9a true of Ted?

    1. Many thanks for those, Myops. For the edification of myself and others I just looked up in Chambers:
      Bundle (intransitive verb)

      3. To lie in bed together fully clad (an old custom in Wales, New England and parts of Scotland for sweethearts and others).
      That was a new one for me and makes the clue rather sweet!

      9a – Aha Ted Dexter the famous Right- Hander!. I honestly didn’t think that far (and some of the girls don’t like the ‘C’ word!).

      See you next time!

  9. Liked the long outside grid , and was a bit lucky to spot the answers quite quickly , so was left with the dictionary for 28 &29 a , and for the explanation of 12a , though the answer seemed fairly straghtforward with the other letters filled. 6d my firm favourite . Thanks to Myops and the review .

  10. Finally got to this one this morning – a really excellent puzzle.
    I got all the answers but turned to the hints for explanation of the wordplay in a couple, only to find that Gnomey had needed help too!
    Thanks to Myops and gnomethang.

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