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Toughie 206

Toughie No 206 by Osmosis

Overegging the Pudding

+ – + – + – + – + – + – +

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

When I saw that today’s puzzle was by Osmosis, I knew I was in for a tough battle and so it proved to be.  In his other guise at the Independent, he tends to produce the most difficult puzzles there.  Here there are some really clever clues, but one or two that cause some tooth-sucking.  Apologies too for the lateness, a difficult Thursday for me.

Across
1a        European runner finding first vacant urinal in museum (7)
{VISTULA} A quaint image to start with today.  In Crosswordland, words are never what they seem, and setters never ever use the word river.  They use flower, banker and here runner.  IST= first + UL = “vacant” urinal, i.e. one without filling, first and last letters.  All goes inside VA = museum.  The museum is called Victoria and Albert and they abbreviate it V&A, not VA.

5a        Emerges from works in vineyard with drop of plonk (5,2)
{CROPS UP}  I surmise this is CROP (works in vineyard) + SUP (drop of plonk)

9a        The Parisian fitting jumper acted so? (5)
{LEAPT} LE = The Parisian  +APT = fitting

10a      English town hall, changing hands, peripherally offering tea dances (9)
{HARROGATE}  And home to the lovely, if overpriced, Betty’s Tea Rooms.  HARR = hall, changing hands i.e. swapping L for R, peripherally offering = OG (see vacant in 1a) + an anagram of TEA.

11a      Old actress confronting tabloid through veranda abroad (3,7)
{AVA GARDNER}  An anagram of veranda with a reversal of RAG (tabloid) inside gives the name of the glamorous star.

12a      Bill joined college bash (4)
{CHIT}  Here Osmosis is saying “joined college, bash”  C + HIT.

14a      Second income’s source in nightlong shifts? (12)
{MOONLIGHTING}   This is one of those clues known as an “&lit” clue, where the whole thing defines the answer.  Second = MO + an anagram (indicated by shifts) of  I + NIGHTLONG.

18a      Epic poem I conveyed amid rumbling (one leaves) (6,6)
{DIVINE COMEDY}  An anagram of I CONVEYED AMID – A reveals the magnum opus of Dante Aligheri. It also provides today’s musical break……

21a      Noise of animal scratching head — this one? (4)
{RUNT}  An animal noise is a GRUNT scratching head, so losing its first letter, gives the weakest of a litter, especially pigs.   Quite a clever clue.

22a      Familiar Conservative, in blue, mean to dismiss knight (10)
{ACQUAINTED}  Familiar is your definition.  C for Conservative inside           AQUA (blue) + INTEND (mean) – N (for Knight in chess)

25a      Perhaps look for shells, explosive stuff, around every corner initially (9)
{BEACHCOMB}  EACH + C (every corner initially) inside BOMB

26a      Meteors appearing constantly — that is frightening (5)
{EERIE}  mEtEoRs (appearing constantly = alternate letters) + I.E. (that is) gives  a word meaning frightening or weird.

27a      Pie’s chewed by Welshman, discussing memorial (7)
{EPITAPH}  Anagram of PIE + a homophone of TAFF (Welshman)

28a      Best convertible, in the environs of Number 10, that attracts the birds (4,3)
{NEST BOX}  Anagram of BEST inside NO X (Number Ten) gives a pad for the fliers.

Down
1d        Some of Spock’s make-up starts to upset little child in front (6)
{VULCAN}  ULC (Starts to “upset, little and child”) inside VAN (front)

2d        Quiet alcoholic’s source — guy who reaches for the spirits (6)
{SHAMAN}  SH! = Quiet + A (Alcoholic’s source, i.e. first letter) + MAN =  a spiritualist.

3d        After university, Ian dabbled with pot twice, moderately (2,2,1,5)
{UP TO A POINT} U = university + an anagram of IAN, POT & POT gives a phrase meaning moderately,

4d        Lowlife support entertaining pub (5)
{APHID}  AID = support with PH (Public House) leads to a little green insect.

5d        Enjoy the present from daughter inside rhubarb pie and cream (5,4)
{CARPE DIEM}  D (Daughter) inside an anagram (rhubarb) of PIE & CREAM gives the phrase associated with Robin Williams in Dead Poets’ Society.

6d        Smell from US neighbourhood originated within (4)

{ODOR}  Is it fair to have American words in a UK Crossword?  Discuss.  A hidden answer “neighbourhood originated”.  Should it be neighborhood?

7d        Four nurses start to operate beneath extremely septic bone (8)
{SCAPHOID}  Here’s where I get a bit cross.  It seems to be an accepted convention that numbers in clues that relate to answers elsewhere are shown in figures.  If the clue contains the word spelt out, then it normally relates to the roman numerals or a synonym etc.  Here “Four” relates to the answer at 4 down.  SC (Extremely SCEPTIC, ie first and last letters) + APHID with O (start to operate).  Two devices to indicate short letter combinations in one clue are a bit much.

8d        Standing tallest in panto tires comic for example, withdrawing (8)
{PRESTIGE}  Tallest in panto = P + an anagram of TIRES + EG reversed.

13d      Poor quality footwear worn by clergyman in earliest of services (10)
{SHODDINESS}  SHOES (footwear) with DD (clergyman, Doctor of Divinity)+ IN inside and S (earliest of services) afterwards, all put together make a word for poor quality.

15d      Drink quickly with Charlie before start of home tie? (9)
{NECKCLOTH}  NECK LOT = Drink quickly.  With C = Charlie inside (how does”with” equate to inside?) + H (start of Home) all form a word meaning a neck tie.

16d      Lovely song and dance by topless pin-up in 40s (8)
{ADORABLE}  Lovely is the definition.  ADO = song and dance +  (G)RABLE (Topless 40’s pin-up).

Another song. I wanted the Morecambe and Wise version, but this’ll do:-

17d      Hypnotist literally leaving sections under spell, from the onset (8)
{SVENGALI}  S = (spell, from the onset) + an anagram of LEAVING.  Sections as an anagram indicator?

19d      Shuddering, as après-swimwear is uncovered (6)
{ATHROB}  BATHROBE topped and tailed (uncovered).  I have the taste of over-egged pudding in my mouth.

20d      Depart, embraced by two from Australia, with kiss and goodbyes (6)
{ADIEUX} DIE = depart with AU (two from Australia) + X (kiss) gives the French word for Goodbyes.   Starting to feel ill……

23d      Municipal place in South Africa is roofless? (5)
{URBAN}  (D)URBAN,  Life draining…..losing will…..

24d      Listen to, with rook moving, another bird (4)
{RHEA}  HEAR = listen to  and moving R (rook) gives a bird.

The use of devices to indicate odd letters in fine in a few clues, but when it is virtually in every clue, it spoils the puzzle for me.  There’s another setter (Toughie and Indy) who does use the device prudently but I’m afraid this is too much.  See you next week.

9 comments on “Toughie 206

  1. We think you’re a hero!! How you managed to solve this I don’t know! We only managed to do about half a dozen without help and have spent the last 2 hours pontificating! Well done and thanks!

  2. Big Dave introduced me to The Toughie crosswords, and after today I am almost sorry he did!. Without your explanations of most of today’s clues Tilsit I would be still pulling my hair out, bravo to you, and all that managed to complete it .

  3. Sorry for being late, but can I suggest an alternative wordplay for 5A?

    Works=OPS, vineyard=CRU, drop of plonk=P; follow the instructions to get CROPS UP

    Harry Shipley

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