Toughie 870 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
View closed comments 

Toughie 870

Toughie No 870 by Myops

Forbidden Fruit

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

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

Tilsit is away this weekend on a jolly. As many of you know, Myops is one of my favourite Toughie setters, so I looked forward to this puzzle with eager anticipation. And what a joy it turned out to be.

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    Publisher’s device: it shuts in hour after work (8)
{COLOPHON} – this a publisher’s emblem, usually on the title page of a book, is derived from the punctuation mark in the clue goes around (shuts in) the short word for a music work and H(our)

5a    American handbag contains what’s acceptable to carry on (6)
{PURSUE} – the word used by Americans for a handbag around the single letter representing acceptable

9a    According to a rule all people like this fruit (5)
{APPLE} – every third letter (according to a rule) of three words in the clue

10a    Where berry bush can be cultivated (9)
{SHRUBBERY} – an anagram (can be cultivated) of BERRY BUSH

12a    Devil’s books parish condemned: not one cheats (4-6)
{CARD-SHARPS} – the devil’s picture-books, a phrase popularised by a 19th c. book by Mrs. John King Van Rensselaer, followed by an anagram (condemned) of PAR(I)SH without the I (not one), split as (4-6)

13a    Stevenson made up tale in which preliminary matter is black spot (4)
{SMUT} – the initial letters (preliminary matter) of the first four words in the clue

15a    A cat opens a world up (4,7)
{SNOW LEOPARD} – an anagram (up) of OPENS A WORLD

16a    Past villain, not current (3)
{AGO} – start with the villain from Shakespeare’s Othello and drop the I (not the symbol for electric current}

17a    Ashes holder — Australia or England? They’re the ones coming second (3)
{URN} – the second letters of three words in the clue

18a    What Eden held: empire lost by (a week’s creation wasted!) weaker vessel (11)
{PREMIERSHIP} – Anthony (not the Garden of) Eden’s position during the Suez crisis comes from an anagram (lost) of EMPIRE followed by R, an anagram (creation) od A WEEK removed from (wasted) (WEAKE)R and a vessel

20a    Silver attaches leg for conflict (4)
{AGON} – the chemical symbol for silver followed by the other name for cricket’s leg side gives a conflict in ancient Greece between two protagonists

21a    Tragic, mad Dane greeting about first father and mother … (4,3,3)
{ADAM AND EVE} – an anagram (tragic) of MAD DANE with a greeting around (about) the outside

24a    …whom this acquaintance did for (9)
{KNOWLEDGE} – we often get asked about the significance of ellipses, well here they indicate that acquaintance with the 9 across from this tree “did for” the couple in the answer to the previous clue

26a    In non-drinking environment Scots own a corrupting influence (5)
{TAINT} – Inside (in … environment) the abbreviation for total abstinence from alcoholic drink put the Scots word for own

27a    Red revolutionary lines surrounded Russia’s capital (6)
{CHERRY} – Crosswordland’s favourite revolutionary and the abbreviation for the lines used by trains around (surrounded) the initial letter (capital) of Russia

28a    Support chief town on Dornoch Firth (8)
{MAINTAIN} – an adjective meaning chief followed by a town on Dornoch Firth – the name of the town is easy to derive


1d    Opportunity Dutch ancestors grabbed (6)
{CHANCE} – an opportunity is hidden inside (grabbed) the clue

2d    Brought up to be disagreeable person society shuns (5)
{LEPER} – reverse (brought up) a verb meaning to be disagreeable

3d    Where sportswriters sit and sweat, getting cross with crowds all round (5,5)
{PRESS BOXES} – a two-letter abbreviation for sweat and the letter shaped like a cross with a word meaning crowds all round

4d    Name O. Henry originally adopted for theatrical work (3)
{NOH} – the initial letters of (originally adopted) the first three words in the clue give this traditional Japanese style of drama

6d    Wellington got going as stud (4)
{UMBO} – another word for a wellington without the G and OT of got gives the central boss of a shield

7d    Became dim and indignant (7,2)
{STEAMED UP} – a double definition

8d    African with English typing a novel (8)
{EGYPTIAN} – an anagram (novel) of E(nglish) TYPING A

ARVE Error: need id and provider

10d    Petty officer everyone looked after (5-6)
{SMALL-MINDED} – a non-commissioned army officer followed by a word meaning everyone and a verb meaning looked after

11d    Give fresh instructions on radio presentation (11)
{REPROGRAMME} – a two-letter word meaning on or concerning followed by a radio presentation

14d    Circular saw changed nothing. So he took an ax (10)
{WASHINGTON} – reverse (circular) SAW and follow it with an anagram (changed) of NOTHING – note that the American spelling of axe should help with the nationality of this 27 across tree chopper!

15d    Second-year student hopes room can be customised (9)
{SOPHOMORE} – an anagram (can be customised) of HOPES ROOM

16d    A Turk trained in best college must be self-sufficient (8)
{AUTARKIC} – an anagram (trained) of A TURK inside the two-letters indicating best and finally C(ollege)

19d    He thought about the 9 being not used and not picked up (6)
{NEWTON} – an adjective meaning not used followed by NOT reversed (picked up)

22d    Heath Robinson originally backed European gallery (5)
{ERICA} – another name for a plant of the heath genus is derived from the initial letter (originally) Robinson after (backed) E(uropean) and followed by a gallery of contemporary arts

23d    Difficulty about housing left confused impression (4)
{BLUR} – a difficulty reversed (about) around (housing) L(eft)

25d    Stick  that’s chewed (3)
{GUM} – a double definition – a verb meaning to stick and something that is chewed

Wonderful stuff that I enjoyed for a second time while writing the review.

29 comments on “Toughie 870

  1. Not one of this setter’s more difficult offerings but still very enjoyable. Favourites for me were 6d 10d and 24a thanks to Myops and to Big Dave for the comments.

  2. Very enjoyable if only 1.5* tough, with only a couple of investicheckings. I particularly liked the sneaky 1a and 19d but am sure I could list others if I had time. Thanks very much to Myops for a gentle but entertaining end to the Toughie week and to BD for the explanations.

  3. Was expecting a stinker and got a slight whiff of cabbage instead. Still, it was pleasant enough. Thanks BD and Myops.

  4. Couple of words I hadn’t come across before so the BRB was needed but a great puzzle. Not as hard as I’ve come to expect from Myops, unless it’s me getting better (doubt it!).
    No stand out favourites, as it was all good stuff, but I thought 1a was rather good :grin:

    Thanks to Myops and BD.

  5. Thanks to Myops – very enjoyable! Failed on the rather obscure (for me) 1a, 6d & 16d.

    One question: 15a – in what way is up an anagram indicator? Haven’t seen that “damned cat” for quite a while!

    1. Two possible meaning of up are “in an excited state” or “amiss” according to Chambers, both of which indicate some change in the letters.

    2. I too failed on the same as you did Franco, but hey I really enjoyed solving what I could, Myops and BD a big thanks

  6. Agreed witht he above. A very gentle puzzle that was high on the enjotment factor. Several unknown words for me but they were well clued and a quick dip into the BRB confirmed them. Thanks to Myops and to BD.

  7. I agree with gnomethang, agreeing with the above. A gentle puzzle, but high on enmjoyment. Thanks to Myops and to BD.

    1. I see the pair of you are so busy enjoying yourselves that your ability to type ‘enjoyment’ has been seriously affected. :D

  8. A lot easier than the back pager but enjoyable enough, my thanks to Myops and to BD, I loved 28a but then I’m biased as that is where Glenmorangie is distilled.

  9. Just the sort of toughie we really love. Stretches the grey cells but solvable. Several new words but we still worked them out from the clues. We are away from home looking after grandkids for a couple of days, (Alice and Ollie say Hi to everyone) so did not have Mrs B to help us but got there nonetheless.
    Thanks Myops and BD.

      1. It is Good morning. Just had breakfast and contemplating what to do on a wet and miserable Saturday. Cheers.

  10. I’m not really familiar with Myops (I think this was my first) but it all fell into place reasonably quickly. 9ac, 10ac, and 25dn were my favorites. 6dn and (for some reason) 13ac held me up. **** for difficulty/**** for enjoyment. Thanks to Myops for the puzzle and Big Dave for the review.

    1. If you’re ever in Scotland, the Herald’s Saturday crossword is set by Myops (it’s a much gentler proposition than his Toughies), as is the Wee Stinker on Mondays (not quite so gentle!).

      1. Qix, is the Wee Stinker available to us Sassenachs? Is it on-line? The name alone makes it sound very tempting. I believe it’s a 13 x 13?

        1. It is 13×13.

          Herald crosswords are available online, but unfortunately they’re subscription-only. I don’t think that the Wee Stinker is available on the website at all.

          It’s possible to order a digital edition of the paper online, which would give access to all of the content, although you’d have to print out the crossword. I don’t know how much that costs, but I believe that it’s cheaper than the print edition of the paper (which recently had its price increased to £1.10).

          1. perhaps I misremember but didn’t big Dave identify you as the setter for the Hereld on Mondays?or perhaps it was the Glasgow Post ?

  11. Sorry to be late to the party, but a nice pleasant puzzle, easier than his usual offerings, but no less fun.

Comments are closed.