Toughie 1917

Toughie No 1917 by Myops

Hints and tips by Gazza

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

We haven’t had a Myops puzzle for a very long time – as far as I can see his last was Toughie number 1145 on 28th February 2014 – so welcome back to him. Because of a mix-up at Telegraph Towers I thought I was solving a MynoT puzzle and I kept thinking “MynoT’s upped his game and his difficulty level considerably since his last few puzzles”. I enjoyed the challenge of this one and I’m grateful that Myops has cut out all the Scottish words which caused me so much difficulty in the past.

Please leave a comment telling us how you fared and what you thought of it.

Across Clues

1a Axe literally bit by bit setter in opening or completion (11)
ACHIEVEMENT: start with the individual letters of ‘axe’ but with the X changed to its Greek equivalent. Now append an opening containing the objective pronoun which the setter would use to identify himself.

9a That woman taking in shops frequently gets support for lumbar region (5,2,3,4)
SMALL OF THE BACK: a female pronoun (that woman) contains a shopping area and a poetic word for ‘frequently’. Finish with a verb to support or endorse.

11a Chamber discharge is audible (4)
ROOM: this sounds like a discharge from the nasal area.

12a Considered by judges as registered in capital (5)
HEARD: the letter used to signify a registered trademark goes inside the part of the body that capital relates to.

13a Dye best linked with the Netherlands (4)
ANIL: the letters that look like an abbreviation meaning best or first-class are interwoven (like the links in a chain) with the IVR code for the Netherlands.

16a Potential customer‘s view (8)
PROSPECT: double definition, the first being a possible customer who’s not yet signed on the dotted line.

17a Ceiling well formed originally and in good condition (6)
SOFFIT: this ceiling usually means the underside of an arch or balcony. Piece together an adverb meaning well, the original letter of ‘formed’ and an adjective meaning in good physical condition.

19a Bit of a good egg arguably about to be tormented (6)
RAGGED: hidden and reversed in the clue. Those who solved AKMild’s Rookie puzzle this week will have no trouble with this one.

20a Military body rejects refusal to obey superior with taunt (8)
GARRISON: string together a spoken refusal to obey one’s male superior (2,3) and a verb to taunt or tease (the same verb we had in the previous clue). Now reverse the lot.

22a Tale that’s long without slightest hint of ending (4)
YARN: a verb to long or pine without the first letter of ‘ending’.

23a Foundation remains (5)
STAYS: double definition, the first a woman’s supporting garment.

24a Book as far as Maine (4)
TOME: charade of a preposition meaning ‘as far as’ and the standard code for the state of Maine.

27a After for example being CEO space in pit in return is poor bargain (1,4,2,7)
A MESS OF POTTAGE: this is the poor bargain that Esau received from his brother in return for his birthright, according to the Old Testament. Assemble the abbreviation meaning ‘for example’, a phrase (2,3) which could mean ‘being CEO’ and a pit or depression (from the Latin word for ditch) containing a printer’s space. Finally reverse it all.

28a Treating as invalid approve keeping, having unhealthy complexion, at home (11)
DISALLOWING: an informal verb to approve or appreciate contains an adjective meaning having an unhealthy yellowish complexion and an adverb meaning ‘at home’.

Down Clues

2d Routine grounds for waste management contrast (6,2,6)
COMMON OR GARDEN: my reading of this is that it’s contrasting the grounds where waste may be disposed off – a) inconsiderately on public land (fly-tipping, perhaps) and b) responsibly on one’s own land (composting, possibly). Any better ideas?

3d Lying up having day in Bora Bora? (4)
IDLE: Bora Bora is a French island so we want the French word for island containing the abbreviation for day.

4d Nashville’s old name mired in depravity and destructive force (8)
VIOLENCE: Nashville is home to The Grand *** Opry. Put the ‘old’ and N(ame) inside a word for depravity or immorality.

5d Couples in Mary Tudor’s reign formed after adequate deliberation (6)
MATURE: use the first two letters from three contiguous words in the clue.

6d Swede regularly entered Portugal (4)
NEEP: regular letters from ‘entered’ followed by the IVR code for Portugal. The answer is a Scottish word for what I would call a turnip but the difference between a turnip and a swede seems to depend on which part of the UK you’re from.

7d Around noon took leave of warlord carrying Aldershot’s latest weapon (4-3,7)
SAWN-OFF SHOTGUN: when I solved the puzzle the on-line site had the enumeration incorrect (8,7) making it even more tricky. Start with a verbal phrase meaning ‘took leave of’ (3,3) (on a railway platform perhaps) containing the abbreviation for noon. Now add a Japanese warlord containing the last letter of Aldershot.

8d Minimum personnel on shift for instance that can provide maximum access (8,3)
SKELETON KEY: join together a word for the minimum number of employees necessary to do the job and what shift is an example of (on your PC perhaps).

10d Rates for Spooner’s Republican sleuths perhaps? (8,3)
PROPERTY TAX: I got the answer from the definition and then spent ages trying to work out the Spoonerism. It was only when I realised that we have to deal separately with the ‘for’ bit and just Spoonerise the rest that the penny dropped. A Spoonerism normally involves swapping the first sounds of the words but it can, as here, mean the switching of intermediate vowels, so in this case the Reverend gentleman might confuse ‘perty tax‘ with ‘party tecs‘.

14d Is Pele endlessly running round this pitch? (5)
SPIEL: an anagram (running round) of IS PEL[e].

15d Lament passing of month — one with R in (5)
MOURN: start with a 2-letter abbreviation for month then insert R into a dialect word for one.

18d Ingenue twisted body in dance (4,4)
BABY DOLL: an anagram (twisted) of BODY goes inside a formal dance. I didn’t know the answer could mean ingénue but Chambers says it can mean ‘a woman with a childlike appearance and personality’.

21d People employed on a Scottish island (6)
STAFFA: a word for the people involved in an organisation followed by A. I visited the island several years ago to see “Fingal’s Cave” the inspiration for Mendelssohn’s overture.

25d Cover for front of mobiles (but not sides) — i.e. cells (4)
ASCI: a word for the front cover of a mobile phone without its outer letters. Not a word I knew but Chambers tells me it’s the plural of a term meaning ‘an enlarged cell, commonly elongated, in which eight spores are formed’ – that’s clear then!

26d Draw spades to lead in pack (4)
STOW: a verb to draw or pull preceded by the abbreviation for the card suit spades.

My top clues were 4d, 5d and 8d. Which one(s) had you clapping?



  1. crypticsue
    Posted November 15, 2017 at 2:03 pm | Permalink | Reply

    I had a (very) slight advantage in that I could see the word Myops at the top of the crossword in the paper and I do remember that his previous crosswords did exactly what the Toughie was supposed to do, so wasn’t ever so surprised at the battle I had to sort this one out.

    Welcome back Myops and thank you to you and Gazza

  2. the_toff
    Posted November 15, 2017 at 2:16 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Struggled to finish this, couldn’t work out the spoonerism, many thanks for that. Would not of got 25 without knowing the word which must have come up in the last year’s in my black book. Can’t say it was fun but certainly testing in places.4 my COD. Thanks Gazza and Myops

  3. Rick
    Posted November 15, 2017 at 2:29 pm | Permalink | Reply

    No complaints from me about the toughness level but my word there are some really iffy surfaces here.

  4. stanXYZ
    Posted November 15, 2017 at 2:42 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Is there a rule that the surface readings in Toughies don’t have to make any sense?

    1a, 27a & 28a – the major culprits today.

    • stanXYZ
      Posted November 15, 2017 at 2:57 pm | Permalink | Reply

      27a – “ A load of rubbish” fits the enumeration. (1, 4, 2, 7)

      • Gazza
        Posted November 15, 2017 at 3:00 pm | Permalink | Reply


        I did mean to mention that some of the surfaces weren’t great.

        • JB
          Posted November 15, 2017 at 5:19 pm | Permalink | Reply

          Just giving up and ready to finish the second half using Gazza’s hints. As he says, the surface readings aren’t great. I’m afraid gobbledygook springs to this exhausted mind!

  5. jane
    Posted November 15, 2017 at 2:51 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Jeepers, that was hard graft. Just reading some of the clues was enough to scare my horses into galloping over the hills and far away.
    Anyway, got there in the end but without the full parsing for 1a (the Greek bit fooled me) or 25d – didn’t know that term was used for a mobile cover, let alone the meaning of the answer! As for the Spoonerism – words fail me.
    As Gazza mentioned, having solved this week’s Rookie came in handy for the answer to 19a but I was far from happy with the 11a ‘nasal discharge’.

    I’ll go along with Gazza’s top three – mainly because I understood them better than many of the others!

    Thanks to Myops – apologies for this one being out of my comfort zone – and many thanks to Gazza for being there yet again when I needed him.

    • Gazza
      Posted November 15, 2017 at 3:17 pm | Permalink | Reply

      The ‘discharge’ homophone has appeared before, e.g. in Toughie 1825 by Dada:
      Discharge in space, they say (5)

      • jane
        Posted November 15, 2017 at 3:53 pm | Permalink | Reply

        So we did! Somehow it didn’t seem so bad put that way round.

  6. Expat Chris
    Posted November 15, 2017 at 3:09 pm | Permalink | Reply

    I found this very hard-going and quite honestly gave up on even trying to parse several of them. I did have a full grid in the end, but had to resort to Crossword Solver for the 25D answer and then cogitate for a good while to parse it. I did tick 4D (my favorite when the old penny dropped), 5D and 7D. Thanks Myops. That was quite a work out. Thanks as always to Gazza for sorting out my stumbling blocks.

    • Mac
      Posted November 16, 2017 at 2:05 pm | Permalink | Reply

      I’m glad that someone else occasionally resorts to Crossword Solver. I still did not understand the parsing of 25d. I’ve never heard of ‘fascia’ being used in that sense and mobile phones had probably not been invented when my BRB was published (1972). I bunged it in anyway. I couldn’t parse some of the others either so, although I completed it correctly, it was more by luck than good judgement.

  7. geoffrey tong
    Posted November 15, 2017 at 3:15 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Managed to find all the answers, but had great difficulty with the parsing. My thanks toGazza. I think it’s a great shame that the emphasis seems to have changed over the years. We used to work out the answer from the clue and then see ( if necessary) whether it was a real word or phrase. Now I seem to be reaching the correct conclusion fairly quickly and then spending hours trying to see why.

    • Gazza
      Posted November 15, 2017 at 3:22 pm | Permalink | Reply

      This went into moderation because you’ve expanded your alias (and corrected your email address) since your previous comments.

    • Paul Dunn
      Posted November 15, 2017 at 6:21 pm | Permalink | Reply

      I agree. This was an odd one: I filled in most of the answers quite easily by spotting the definition and using the checking letters; but I doubt that I could properly parse more than half of them when I had

  8. Tony
    Posted November 15, 2017 at 4:52 pm | Permalink | Reply

    I came close to finishing this, but in the end I was missing the two long across clues at the bottom and the two 4 letter words that fed into them. I also had 18d wrong which did not help the cause, but I was unfamiliar with the Esau reference and so I doubt I would have been much better off if I had 18d correctly. I hadn’t heard of 25d – (I’m not sure that the reference to the front cover is something that makes sense in my part of the world). I should have got 26d. The homonym in 11a doesn’t really work for me (although, as others had said, it has appeared before). There were several that I had correctly – they were what they had to be – but I needed Gazza’a review to understand why – 1a for immediate example. I don’t think I can really say that I enjoyed this (although I might be singing a different song had I been able to finish it). Many thanks to all.

  9. LetterboxRoy
    Posted November 15, 2017 at 5:01 pm | Permalink | Reply

    For me, too many I couldn’t work out and it became a bit if a thankless task towards the end. I lost interest to be honest. I find garbled surfaces, as has been mentioned, very distracting. Even the hints didn’t help, neither did revealing the answer in some cases!
    Thanks for the challenge, Myops – you win. Thanks to Gazza for sorting it all out.

  10. Gazza
    Posted November 15, 2017 at 5:20 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Samuel tomorrow.

  11. JB
    Posted November 15, 2017 at 5:37 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Gazza, I’m most impressed. Having felt earlier that most of the clues were sheer gobbledygook how ever did you solve this puzzle? I’m overcome with admiration.
    Even 25d was unnecessarily obscure. Why couldn’t we just have had our old alcoholic friend “Asti” it fits and, by now, we need it – or perhaps something stronger!

    • Gazza
      Posted November 15, 2017 at 6:07 pm | Permalink | Reply

      If I remember correctly Myops usually appeared on a Friday in the past and I think that this one would maybe have been more at home on a Friday. I did, however, enjoy the decipherment.

  12. 2Kiwis
    Posted November 15, 2017 at 5:42 pm | Permalink | Reply

    After a long struggle we ended up with a filled grid but two that we could not parse 10d (don’t think we have ever seen a Spoonerism that worked in that way before) and 25d where we managed to recall the ‘cells’ from the checkers and dim depths of memory but how the wordplay works still eludes us.
    We also thought we were working with a different setter.
    Thanks Myops and Gazza.

    • Gazza
      Posted November 15, 2017 at 6:03 pm | Permalink | Reply

      For 25d the front cover on a mobile phone is a fascia – take off the outer letters.

      • 2Kiwis
        Posted November 15, 2017 at 6:09 pm | Permalink | Reply

        Thanks Gazza. We have never heard of it being used for a cover before but, sure enough, there it is in BRB with exactly that meaning.

  13. Lesley
    Posted November 15, 2017 at 7:23 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Eventually completed with the exception of 25d. Needed hints to parse 1a, 27a, 4d and 10d. I still don’t understand 10d. What are terty pax? Rather a slog, no real favourites. Thanks anyway guys.

    • Gazza
      Posted November 15, 2017 at 7:38 pm | Permalink | Reply

      I think the hint for 10d explains it all if you click on the ‘click here’ bits, but in case you can’t do that:
      After you’ve taken off the PRO (for) you’re left with PERTY TAX which Spooner might change to PARTY TECS (Republican sleuths perhaps).

      • Lesley
        Posted November 15, 2017 at 9:08 pm | Permalink | Reply

        Thank you Gazza. Even with your explanation it still took me a bit of pondering to understand. Rather convoluted clue. Thanks again, I can sleep tonight now!

  14. Salty Dog
    Posted November 15, 2017 at 9:05 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Completed in *** time but couldn’t hack the Spoonerism. I suppose **** is fair enough. I enjoyed 9a. Thanks to Myops and Gazza.

  15. spindrift
    Posted November 16, 2017 at 2:05 pm | Permalink | Reply

    By the cringe! That took some doing & I couldn’t parse half of my answers.
    Thank heavens Gazza was able to fathom this one out.

  16. David Kelly
    Posted November 16, 2017 at 8:44 pm | Permalink | Reply

    On and off for two days and got six. Think I’ll stick to the back page 😀

    • Gazza
      Posted November 16, 2017 at 9:45 pm | Permalink | Reply

      Most Toughies are quite a lot easier than this one so do stick with them!

  17. GeoffH
    Posted November 16, 2017 at 9:19 pm | Permalink | Reply

    The most tough Toughie that I nearly finished! Couldn’t do 27a, 5d or 25d. I got 10d but didn’t know how! I still don’t really understand Gazza’s explanation (sorry Gazza!).

    Enjoyable though!!

    • Gazza
      Posted November 16, 2017 at 9:42 pm | Permalink | Reply

      The definition in 10d is ‘rates’ and the answer is ‘property tax’. The wordplay tells us that this is made up of PRO (for) and a Spoonerism of the rest of the answer, i.e. PERTY TAX. Spooner would have converted this to PARTY TECS with PARTY being a political party (Republican, for instance) and TECS being an informal word for detectives, i.e. sleuths.

      • GeoffH
        Posted November 16, 2017 at 11:54 pm | Permalink | Reply

        Thanks, Gazza.

        And the “perhaps” converts “tachs” to “tax” I suppose.

        • Gazza
          Posted November 17, 2017 at 12:03 am | Permalink | Reply

          I don’t know where you get the “tachs” from. The “perhaps” is there to show that Republican is just one example of a (political) party.

          • GeoffH
            Posted November 17, 2017 at 8:18 am | Permalink | Reply

            Too late at night…..should have read “tecs”. A straight Spooner would then make it “Property tacs”.

  18. Rachel Ganz
    Posted November 17, 2017 at 8:06 am | Permalink | Reply

    After much consideration think that 2d may be the contrast between managing waste land (garden) and (common). Much cheered to find everyone struggling with the Spoonerism.

    • Gazza
      Posted November 17, 2017 at 8:18 am | Permalink | Reply

      Welcome to the blog, Rachel.

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