Toughie 722 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 722

Toughie No 722 by Myops

Caledonian Charivari

(aka Salmond Chanted Evening….)

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

BD Rating – Difficulty *****2Enjoyment ***

Greetings from the Calder Valley! Time to renew acquaintance with our Scottish setter Myops. Today is not so much a Wee Stinker (his other regular crossword) as a *&*&^^^%! Stinker, in fact probably the Toughest of the Toughie puzzles series. This was a ferocious beast that took an awful long time to crack and I suspect this is not going to please most solvers. There are some cracking clues, but the use of a great many obscure words with obscure definitions add to the solver’s woe. Normally when I have been wrestling with Elgar or Osmosis, I have a feeling of satisfaction but that didn’t seem there today. Thanks to Crypticsue for a couple of pointers as well.

Subscribers to Another Newspaper’s Crossword Website are treated to a monthly prize puzzle which is at this end of the scale with obscure words. This puzzle would have sat nicely in that series.

Can I put in an early recommendation for tomorrow’s NTSPP puzzle by Omnia (Who? All will be revealed!) Without giving the game away, it’s something a little special.

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 are highlighted in blue.


1a    Beau with the chance to tour Quebec or pass on (8)
{BEQUEATH} We start today with an anagram of BEAU & THE around Q (Quebec – NATO phonetic alphabet). Not sure chance is an anagram indicator, though. Unscrambling the letters gives a phrase meaning to pass on which is sort of connected to 7 dn and 14 down.

5a    Passé as say Dolly Varden (3-3)
{OLD-HAT} A double definition with the second part a little cryptic. An expression that means passé is what a Dolly Varden is, as well as being a fish and a fictional character.

9a    Perhaps Lincoln and Ely cut back white poplar (5)
{ABELE} The perils of solving too many crosswords! When I saw Lincoln and Ely, I thought of the cathedrals and looked as SEES (ecclesiastical districts) around W . After realising this was not going to work, I thought of the more famous person named Lincoln. Take his shortened first name and add LE (EL[Y] cut and reversed) to give the name for a the white poplar tree.

10a    Son also starts disturbances (9)
{STOOSHIES} One of the words from Scots dialect. A word for a frolic or disturbance in Mr Salmond’s land is made of up the following wordsum: S (Son) + a word meaning ALSO + a word meaning starts as in surprise.

12a    Spike’s consuming passion fruit (10)
{TANGERINES} After a while of staring at a nearly-blank grid , a couple of Notable Solvers thought that the answer might have been GRANADILLA which is another name for the passion fruit. Trying to make the subsidiary indications fit this proved impossible. I then realised that I needed the word for the prongs of a fork and to insert something that means passion or rage. Nicely misleading.

13a    Pool boundary in the country club (4)
{MERE} A triple definition clue. A word with the meanings of a pool, a boundary in the countryside and a Maori club (one to beat you with, not to dance in) all mean this word which is also a place just outside Manchester and Warrington and I shall be driving through there tomorrow.

15a    Waiting times for delivery of 12, topped and, after pressing first, whisked and carbonated (11)
{PREGNANCIES} This made me smile. A nice definition, but a complex unravel. “Waiting times for delivery” is the definition and you’ll need to think medical rather than cricketing. Take the solution to 12 and remove the first letter (‘topped’) add P (first letter of ‘pressing’) untangle it and insert a C (carbonated, i.e. insert C)

16a    Social gathering for Maoris and others in the unit (3)
{HUI} The word for a soirée in New Zealand is discovered by taking alternate letters, i.e. ‘the others’ in THE UNIT

17a    Fish eye of Highlands Liberal (3)
{EEL}     The name of a fish is found by taking a Scots word for an eye (the same word without a Y) and add L for Liberal.

18a    Mad hares in trips involving ego? They’re among the ferns (11)
{MAIDENHAIRS} An anagram of MAD HARES IN, plus I (ego) gives a word for a fern or a plant of the ginkgo family.

20a    Government on alert in Edinburgh (4)
{GLEG} Another phrase from the Scottish dictionary, a word meaning alert is found by taking G (Government) and the cricketing side that is known as the ‘on’ side.

21a    Not the Victoria station kelpie or was there ambiguity? (5,5)
{WATER HORSE) Although I worked this out, I’m not sure about the first part of this clue. I looked through Google and while I can find the link between the answer and kelpie, the Victoria Station link eludes me. An anagram (indicated by ambiguity, which I haven’t seen before) of OR WAS THERE is an alternative name for the kelpie, a type of sprite.

24a    I haven’t the faintest idea about work master finished (4,3,2)
{DON’T ASK ME} A phrase that is said as an alternative to not knowing something is revealed by taking a word for work and adding M for master. This goes inside something that means finished.

26a    Turnout in Oklahoma I had not articulated (5)
{RIGID} A word that means appearance or turnout in the U.S.A. or to fix or fiddle or a CB radio unit, is added to ID (I HAD) gives you a word that means not articulated or stiff.

27a    Had Lie group coordinated binary compound? (6)
{HALIDE} An anagram (indicated by group) of HAD LIE gives the name of a chemical compound

28a    Antibiotic removes any nits over time (8)
{NYSTATIN} An anagram of ANY NITS around T for time gives a type of medication incorrectly described as an antibiotic, but is in fact an antifungal medication suitable for conditions like oral thrush.


1d ‘Bottomness.’ What Ned in ‘Deliverance’ revealed for all to see where trousers originally dropped (6)
{BEAUTY} Now listen very carefully, I shall say this only once! The surname of Ned, one of the stars of the seminal film Deliverance needs to lose a T (trousers originally dropped) and gain U (for all to see). This gives you a scientific term which is also called ‘bottomness’ in the world of quarks.

2d It could be an honour for hand or man on board (5)
{QUEEN} A cryptic double definition. The name of one of the honour cards in a standard deck is the same as the name of a chess piece (rather cryptically described as a man, here!)

3d Former partner under extreme pressure say has to call up offering explanation (10)
[EPEXEGETIC} Something that means using words to make things clearer. This term is found by taking the word for a former partner, putting it ‘over’ the extremes (ends) of the word pressure. Add the abbreviation meaning say or for example and then add the reverse of something that means quote. Quite an epexegetic explanation! Or not!!

4d Consulting a webpage is trendy: ingenuity’s not required (3)
{HIT} The word for a visit to a website is revealed by taking a phrase that means trendy or up-to-date and removing WIT (ingenuity).

6d Luxembourg and its meandering border (4)
{LIST} A word for a decorative border is found by taking L and adding an anagram (meandering) of ITS.

7d Embarras de richesses for 100 European women likely to succeed? (9)
{HEIRESSES} On looking at this clue now I’m a bit bothered about the anagram indicator, for it is one of those. The word that means women who follow on in genealogy is found by taking the word RICHESSES and swapping the C (100) for E (European) and then mixing it all up [embarrass(s)]

8d Flute playing goes over heads of all save those having aesthetic discernment (8)
{TASTEFUL} An anagram (playing) of FLUTE is placed ‘over’ the first letters (heads) of ALL SAVE THOSE to give a word that means discerning.

10d In outskirts of Cambridge packers may work here (7,4)
{SCIENCE PARK} An anagram of IN + CE (outskirts of Cambridge) + PACKERS gives you the name of a place where you will find a business. Think this could have done with a question mark at the end to validate the clue. Nice self-referring clue though, if I remember correctly, there’s one of these on the outskirts of Cambridge near the Motorway.

11d Hislop’s rebuff? (3,2,3,3)
{ONE IN THE EYE} This is a clever double definition clue, but the first part is a little bit too woolly for me. How you might see Ian Hislop’s day job is the same as an expression used as a rebuff.

14d Solve insider 4 or do 7 down? (10)
{DISINHERIT} An anagram (indicated by ‘solve’) comprising INSIDER and the answer to 4 down means the same as to deprive (do) the people at 7 down.

15d Imperial eagle in Poland is poor man’s weather glass (9)
{PIMPERNEL} The alternative name for the plant Poor Man’s Weather Glass (often used as a quiz question) is found by taking an abbreviation for imperial, adding the name of a sea-eagle (often found in quick crosswords)and putting them both inside the IVR code for Poland.

16d Passover ritual minor prophet, not I, had set up (8)
{HAGGADAH} The name for the Jewish festival of Passover is found by taking THE BOOK OF THE Old Testament that comes between two beginning with Z, removing I, it’s last letter, and then adding the reverse of HAD.

19d Confrontational cardinal, a Spaniard, had one tortured (4-2)
{HEAD-ON}. This is a clue with two lots of indications. The definition is ‘Confrontational’, and then you have a word sum of the abbreviation for announcing a Cardinal + A + then name for a Spaniard (think of our very own Giovanni!). The third indication is an anagram of HAD ONE.

22d Just adjust (5)
{RIGHT} The first clue I entered and one I have seen a great many times before. A word that means just or fair as well as fix or djust.

23d Mitt, husband and author (4)
{HAND} Another three-way clue. A word for a mitt or paw also means an author, and is a word sum of H (husband) + AND.

25d Hamlet’s ‘piece of work’ that’s piece or work on board (3)
{MAN} A quote from Hamlet that can also mean a piece (see 2 down) which is given in the clue, or to work on board a ship.

I will tell you why; so shall my anticipation
prevent your discovery, and your secrecy to the king
and queen moult no feather. I have of late–but
wherefore I know not–lost all my mirth, forgone all
custom of exercises; and indeed it goes so heavily
with my disposition that this goodly frame, the
earth, seems to me a sterile promontory, this most
excellent canopy, the air, look you, this brave
o’erhanging firmament, this majestical roof fretted
with golden fire, why, it appears no other thing to
me than a foul and pestilent congregation of vapours.
What a piece of work is a man! how noble in reason!
how infinite in faculty! in form and moving how
express and admirable! in action how like an angel!
in apprehension how like a god! the beauty of the
world! the paragon of animals! And yet, to me,
what is this quintessence of dust? man delights not
me: no, nor woman neither, though by your smiling
you seem to say so.

And so to bed…. Ice-pack anyone?

I don’t know if it’s significant, but the first two down clues go together as do the last three?


39 comments on “Toughie 722

  1. Many thanks for the review of the across clues Tilsit but even with them this is a lost cause for me. That sound you just heard was my towel being thrown firmly into the ring.

  2. I got to about 70% before my towel was thrown. Far too hard for me today but we certainly need puzzles like this. Thanks to Myops and to Tilsit for ‘taking one for the team’
    10a certainly made me smile as I was acquainted with the word.

  3. crikey! after a couple of weeks fairly good going for me Toughie-wise, have come crashing back to earth today- what was that about? The Welsh Marches will never be the same again-however really liked 15a-don’t suppose 10a will feature too many more times-off to join the throng in the dark room………..

  4. I did about 70% of this unaided, good for me on a Friday Toughie. I would have solved more, but from the excess of dialect and foreign words. Thanks for the help with the rest.

  5. I didn’t find this as difficult as some of Myops’ other Toughies. Perhaps some familiarity with the less common words helped, but I enjoyed this puzzle a great deal. Maybe some practicing with the Wee Stinker is required?

    I think that the allusion in 21a is to Australia. Victoria (capitalised) is a state in Oz – station (no cap) is a stock-farm, and kelpie is an Australian working dog.

      1. My sister was a kelpie in that sense.

        “The Water Horse” is also a rather good children’s book by Dick King-Smith, which has also been made into a film, and might well make younger people more familiar with the term.

  6. This was, as I said elsewhere, an absolute doubly beastly Toughie. I enjoy a challenging Toughie, even one with the difficulty rating given by TIlsit to this one, but to have to spend hours trying to check that the things I had worked out were the Scottish words required was a bit much. I also was in a mad world where I got 15a before I got 12a! I agree with Tilsit’s 3* enjoyment rating and my top favourite clue is 11d. Thanks to Myops (do tell – was this one that was supposed to go to the Scottish paper and got lost?) and big thanks to Tilsit for the lovely email conversations we had helping each other out with parts of this brainstretcher.

    I know we are not supposed to mention times but this one took me six times as long as yesterday’s Petitjean – and I solved the backpager, TImes, FT, Guardian and Independent crosswords today in a total time that was half the perservation/cogitation time for this beast.

      1. I get in to work before my start time to do the Telegraph puzzles and then I do have an hour for lunch. However, tt’s amazing what you can hide under ‘important paperwork’ and that’s all I am saying :D

    1. Myops also sets the Saturday back-page crossword in the Herald, which is an altogether gentler affair.

      The Wee Stinker is a 13×13 puzzle, with shorter (and often quite a bit more difficult) clues than these.

    2. I agree with CS on this one. I found it a real slog and (even for those of us who don’t have a job to do as well) it’s a pain to have to keep looking up an answer that the clue seems to be pointing to in order to check that it’s actually a word.
      I admire someone who can devise a puzzle like this (so thanks to Myops) but I can’t say that I enjoyed it very much. Thanks too to Tilsit for disentangling it.

  7. I have said on a few occasions that I love the Myops Toughie. I completed this one (with some reference help), but I cannot say I enjoyed it as much as some of his previous puzzles; some of the answers were words I had never heard of (although the wordplay made them possible to work out).
    Thanks to Myops – keep them coming, and to Tilsit for the review.

  8. Even as a Scot I have to say that I have never heard of 20a, however 10a is still used quite regularly in oor hoose. A very difficult crossword this and I needed the hints on at least 3 or 4 clues. My thanks to my extremely clever fellow Scot for really stretching me beyond my meagre limits once again and also to Tilsit without whom I would have been sunk.

  9. I agree with Qix on this one, granted it was fiendish but I got a great sense of satisfaction on completion. Fav’s for me were 10d 11d and 15a thanks to Myops and to Tilsit for the dissection, I think14d needs solver changing for insider.

    1. Since Tilsit appears to have gone to lie down in the darkened room, I have taken the liberty of correcting the solver/insider error. Thanks tor pointing it out.

  10. My gratitude to all is profuse: as they say now, “Thank you for your time.”

    I do not claim succession to those Spanish cardinals and have no wish to torture – nor to be tedious. Tilsit rightly notes the beguilement of expressions such as “beauty queen” and “right-hand man”. For instance, one meaning of “turnout” in Chambers (26) is “a carriage and its horses, a team” – what Americans (including Curly in the musical) call a “rig”. Their modern rig is, of course, not rigid.

    By the way, Chambers gives EP (3) as an abbreviation for extreme pressure and “gleg” (20) as Northern English as well as Scots; the Shorter Oxford agrees.
    Big Boab may like to know that the phrase “gleg in the uptak” is one I remember from my childhood and it describes both Burns’s “clever chiels” and the contributors to this page.

  11. The ones I cannot read are your answers – white on a blue oblong between the brackets. It’s very faint – and so am I after that “Tough Toughie”!!

    1. How are you reading them – on a PC or a phone, and which one? They should not appear on a blue oblong.

      You could try cutting and pasting into a notepad app – it seems to work for many.

  12. Did just over half and then had to retire hurt due to braIn fade and visitor’s arriving, I thought one of them must have been Queen Sofia due to the amount of cleaning that pommette was doing! I shall have another look tomorrow before resorting to Tilsit’s hints but I don’t hold out much hope – beyond my humble skills I think!
    I’ll stick to the back page on Fridays in future. Perhaps when I solve an Elgar Friday Toughie unaided in less than 30 mins I might have another look at a Myops, but not before!

    Thanks for your effort Myops, which was obviously aimed well above what I can aspire to, and thanks in advance to Tilsit for the review which I expect to need tomorrow.

    1. John don’t give up! Look at Tilsits difficulty rating and comments above. I only got half way through, and to do that had to use a lot of online help!

  13. I still couldn’t nail 10ac, fun puzzle but brutal. I am still a trainee toughie ( usually nail Elgar in 30 mins) but would have only solved 20% of this puzzle unaided. Bloody hell someone give me an anagram for the last 5 letters to 10ac?

  14. Well, eventually managed all but 3 with a lot of help. My new BRB is looking distinctly well-used (as indeed it is!).

    Any space left in the darkened room?

  15. After much fruitless struggling I finally gave up and looked at the blog. I was very relieved to see that it was rated as very difficult. For me it was impossible. If I knew what day MYOPS would next appear I would buy the Guardian.

  16. Spent a wet saturday in Beaumaris trying to solve this,did all buy five until overcome by mental exhauston and went for a pint! Glad everyone thought it was a tad difficult.

  17. Thought I’d enter my first post after only just finishing this ‘stinker’ I had exegetical in 3d which caused me no end of problems with 15a and 18a so needed your help on those. With help from references managed 16d 10a and 9a though I’ve never heard of any of these? As for 20a my parents are from the North East and never heard the term Gleg? Thinking of Waterloo station helped me get 21a but still needed your explanation to work it out! A great puzzle if like me you could spread it out over a few days!

    1. Hi Wozzey – welcome. Now that you’ve delurked I hope that you’ll become a regular contributor. We need a few more comments on the Toughie blogs!

  18. I loved this one. It took me 3 days on & off but got there in the end, apart from 20ac – totally missed the cricketing reference. (In S. Derbys dialect, a gleg is a quick look or peek.) I thought 1d was a cracker.

  19. Many thanks for your help today – I too remembered kelpie from my Brownie days and Haggadah from a long ago RE course!

  20. omg like RogB took me about 2 days!!! just to get a few clues in then started to trickle in …..this was a real teaser

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