Toughie 177

Toughie No 177 by Osmosis

Hints and tips by Gazza

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

Once again we have a challenging Toughie from Osmosis with some pretty complicated wordplay. With some of the clues I felt like I’d taken a piece of equipment apart and put it back together, only to find that I’d got a bit left over! An extraordinary number of the clues involve a reversal of some or all of the letters. I really enjoyed battling with this one.

Across Clues

1a  Dame fills gap in market restoring rare vehicle (6)
{TANDEM} – create a gap in MarkeT by taking out the middle letters and fill the two remaining with Dame EDNA Everage (housewife, superstar and close friend of Barry Humphries) – now reverse (restoring) the whole lot to get a vehicle.  I don’t know if  I’ve missed something here, but I don’t understand the significance of “rare” – any offers?

5a  Explorer retired in final leg – America (8 )
{MAGELLAN} – a famous Portuguese explorer is hidden, backwards (retired), in the clue.

9a  New shop repeatedly attracts right posh element (10)
{PHOSPHORUS} – an anagram (new) of SHOP x 2 with R(ight) and U (posh) inside.

10a  Writer’s agent follows positive tone (4)
{PINK} – a colour (tone) is constructed from P(ositive) and a writer’s material (agent, in the sense of something that produces a specified effect).

11a  Heard dog barking somewhere in Ireland (8 )
{DROGHEDA} – an anagram (barking) of HEARD DOG gives us this famous historical town to the north of Dublin, scene of a brutal massacre in 1649.

12a  Congenital convict, back in prison for months (6)
{INNATE} – start with INMATE (convict) and replace M (months) with the final letter (back) of prisoN.

13a  Rhyming scheme created by pop group? (4)
{ABBA} – a rhyming scheme in which lines 1 and 4 rhyme, as do lines 2 and 3, gives us the name of the most famous Swedish pop group.

15a  Training converted border starts to eliminate rodent and insect (8 )
{EPHEMERA} – PE (training) is reversed and followed by HEM (border) and the starting letters of Eliminate Rodent And.

18a  Naive group of women extremely easily bound by document (4-4)
{WIDE-EYED} – the group of women is WI (Women’s Institute) – add DEED (document) around the outside letters (extremely) of EasilY.

19a  Poles welcome the Italian and Swede perhaps (4)
{NILS} – Scandinavian male name.

21a  Grant requires particular envelope to return prickly plant (6)
{TEASEL} – put SAE (stamped addressed envelope) inside LET and reverse the whole lot (to return).

23a  Flipping bond ‘experts’ emptied investment fund, in my opinion (2,1,3,2)
{AS I SEE IT} – a charade of TIE (bond), ExpertS (emptied) and ISA is reversed (flipping).

25a  Copper’s intertwined with royal associate (4)
{CHUM} – CU (chemical symbol for copper) and HM (royal) are intertwined.

26a  Sportsman keeps ‘orse and stable, primarily for US teenager (10)
{BOBBYSOXER} – an American term for an adolescent girl is created from BOXER (sportsman) with `OBBY (losing the initial letter of Hobby) and S(table) inside.

27a  1760 yards occupied by public transport — like a no. 25? (8 )
{AMICABLE} – A MILE (1760 yards) has CAB (transport which can be used by the public?) inside. 25 is a reference to 25 across.

28a  Spice girl fan previously (6)
{NUTMEG} – girl is MEG who is preceded by NUT (an enthusiast).

Down Clues

2d  Detest Hobart’s traffic (Tasmania’s capital to be avoided) (5)
{ABHOR} – anagram (traffic) of HOBARt (minus the T).

3d  Appoint gent with ideas, at work (9)
{DESIGNATE} – anagram (at work) of GENT and IDEAS.

4d  He wrote notes, outwardly hysterical, filling paper when uplifted (6)
{MAHLER} – paper is REAM – reverse this (uplifted) then include the outside letters of HystericaL to get this composer.

5d  Novelist spread books amongst real fans after trade declined (8,7)
{MARGARET DRABBLE} – luckily for me I guessed this novelist early on and it’s a lot easier working out the wordplay once you have the answer! Spread is MARG (margarine) – follow this with an anagram (declined) of TRADE and an anagram (fans, spreads out?) of REAL with BB (books) inside.

6d  Illumination minor after element twisted (8 )
{GASLIGHT} – the chemical symbol for silver, AG, is reversed (twisted) and this is followed by SLIGHT (minor).

7d  Slug you finally left climbing flower (5)
{LUPIN} – a slug is a portion of liquor, hence NIP – add U (yoU finally) and L(eft) and reverse the whole lot (climbing) to get the name of a flower.

8d  Naked son exits steam bath with disastrous result (extremity of his neglected) (2,7)
{AU NATUREL} – a French term for in a natural state, with no embellishment, is constructed from sAUNA and an anagram (disastrous) of REsULT (with the last letter of hiS omitted).

14d  Swelling, to face, formed eating hospital meat (6,3)
{BOILED HAM} – swelling is BOIL – add MADE (formed) which has to be reversed (to face) and include H (hospital) to get a type of meat.

16d  Order chap to leave vegetable? (9)
{MANGETOUT} – cryptic definition of a green vegetable.

17d  Sweet, alcoholic purchases keep party swinging (8 )
{SYLLABUB} – a whipped cream dessert flavoured with alcohol is formed by reversing (swinging) BUYS (purchases) which includes (keep) BALL (party).

20d  Times article probes FA rejecting player from Africa? (6)
{LIBYAN} – someone from a North African country (the one with the fairly eccentric colonel in charge) is assembled from BY (times, as in multiplied by) and A (article) inside (probes) NIL (sweet Fanny Adams, nothing at all – that’s what I think FA stands for, and I’m sticking to it!) reversed (rejecting). I can’t weave “player” into the wordplay, so I’m assuming it’s just padding, unless you know better?

22d  River bends back bush (5)
{SUMAC} – the river that flows through Cambridge is followed by U’S (bends) and then the whole thing has to be reversed (you weren’t expecting not to have to do that, were you?) to form the name of a shrub.

24d  Woman that is holding wingless little bird (5)
{IRENE} – by a strange coincidence the lady that we met in yesterday’s Toughie has turned up for an encore. IE (that is, id. est) contains a small bird which has lost its initial W (wingless, i.e. without one of its sides).

I liked 23a, 26a and 5d, but my clue of the day is 17d. Agree or disagree? – all comments welcome.


  1. Harry Shipley
    Posted July 8, 2009 at 1:25 pm | Permalink | Reply

    I didn’t enjoy it as much as usual – heavy wordplay makes it just that, heavy. In 6d, Ga (gallium) is just as much an element as Ag, so something like “short element, minor illumination” would have worked and is snappier to my way of thinking.

    Harry Shipley

  2. bigboab
    Posted July 8, 2009 at 1:45 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Really difficult today, I would never have got 19a, 26a or 27a without your assistance for which I am once more very grateful. I liked 9a and 5d very much, ( I actually had Margaret Drabbles Oxford Guide to English Literature on my table for a GK question from another paper)

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