Toughie 272 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
View closed comments 

Toughie 272

Toughie No 272 by Osmosis

What a difference a grid makes!

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

BD Rating – Difficulty ** Enjoyment ***

Anax commented on the last puzzle from Osmosis that the E/E grid, where the answers appeared in the even numbered rows and columns, made solving harder than it might otherwise have been. This time we have an O/O grid and the puzzle was considerably easier. I felt that the enjoyment was considerably reduced by some very convoluted wordplay, much of which I only managed to resolve after completing the puzzle.

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    Position of flyer uncertain (2,2,3,3)
{UP IN THE AIR} – where you might find a flyer leads to a phrase meaning uncertain

6a    Some earache from Gordon Ramsay perhaps (4)
{CHEF} – cleverly hidden in the clue

10a    Casual instruction where to record vocal animal? (5)
{TAPIR} – homophones are tricky at the best of times, and this one is signalled by “vocal” – this animal allegedly sounds like TAPE HERE, or maybe TAPE ‘ERE; what do you think?

11a    Dramatist who’s cited in divorce perhaps caught during scrapes (9)
{SOPHOCLES} – congratulations if you got this one from the wordplay alone! – this Greek dramatist is constructed from SOP (Significant Other Person / who’s cited in divorce perhaps) followed by C(aught) inside HOLES (scrapes)

12a    Combatant Irish artist in argument gets backing (7)
{WARRIOR} – put IR(ish) and RA inside ROW (argument), then reverse the lot (gets backing)

13a    British Olympian covering some French centre of excellence (7)
{LIDDELL} – this Scottish Olympian, one of the two athletes featured in Chariots of Fire, is a charade of a covering for a container, the French for “some” and the centre two letters of exceLLence

14a    How Hank Marvin etc warmed up? (6-6)
{SHADOW BOXING} – Hank and his colleagues Bruce, Jet and Tony formed Cliff Richard’s backing group, but whether or not they would warm up in this way is highly debatable

18a    Spice Girl received by second dancer (6,6)
{GINGER ROGERS} – one of the Spice Girls (the one that used to wear the silly Union Jack mini-dress) is followed by a word used in signalling and radio-communication for R, in the sense of received, and S(econd) to give Fred Astaire’s equally famous dancing partner

21a    Somewhere in UK and not the Caribbean or Switzerland (7)
{NORWICH} – this East Anglian city is a charade of NOR (and not) WI (West Indies) and the IVR code for Switzerland

23a    Old one, moving close to band, played intricate solo? (7)
{NOODLED} – an anagram (moving) of OLD ONE is followed by D (close to banD) to get a word meaning played an intricate solo, although this usage was unfamiliar to me

24a    Food brought back … it affected the passages (9)
{SPAGHETTI} – this Italian food is another of those reversals – IT then an anagram (affected) of THE and finally GAPS (passages) are all brought back

25a    Jewellery clasping tip of finger is a source of infection (5)
{GERMS} – take GEM (jewellery) and put it around (clasping) R (tip of finger) and finally S (‘s / is) and you get a source of infection – I considered GEMS around R but decided that would resolve as germs is a source of infection, so I have opted for the wordplay given

26a    Herald cryptic evades pausing novelist (4)
{DAHL} – an anagram (cryptic) of H(ER)ALD, without the ER (hesitation / pausing) gives this popular novelist

27a    Cleaner lets loose on steps (10)
{CHARLESTON} – run together crosswordland’s favourite daily cleaner, an anagram (loose) of LETS and ON to get this dance (steps – a favourite crossword synonym) recently made popular by Chris and Ola

ARVE Error: need id and provider


1d    Billy Joel’s type of girl — high-class platinum individual (6)
{UPTOWN} – Billy Joel’s song written for then partner Christie Brinkley probably doesn’t need any further wordplay but the setter has given us U (high-class) PT (platinum) and OWN (individual) just in case you have never heard of it

ARVE Error: need id and provider

2d    Communicate monkey culture (6)
{IMPART} – a word meaning to communicate is a charade of synonyms for monkey, in the sense of a mischievous child, and culture

3d    Reversing routine with kid, she cooked low-calorie sweet (7,7)
{TURKISH DELIGHT} – once again full marks if you got the wordplay without working backwards from the answer – reversing RUT (routine) with an anagram of KID SHE, signalled by cooked, and then followed by LIGHT (low-calorie) gives this sweet

4d    Film duck eating edge of sandwich in Scottish town (4,5)
{EASY RIDER} – this well-known film is built up from EIDER (duck) around (eating) S (edge of Sandwich) in AYR (Scottish town)

5d    How foreign footballer introduces himself, dodging English press? (5)
{IMPEL} – this famous Brazilian footballer might introduce himself as I’M PEL(E) – just drop the E (English) to get a word meaning to press

7d    Greek underworld suspiciously nice (8)
{HELLENIC} – a word meaning “from Greece” is built up from HELL (the underworld) and an anagram (suspiciously) of NICE

8d    Some of plane passengers finally entering incite anger, being topless (8)
{FUSELAGE} – the definition is a part (some) of a plane and it is somewhat laboriously built up by putting S (passengerS finally) inside FUEL (incite) and following it with (R)AGE (anger, being topless)

9d    Don’t say what dentist might do when drilling (4,4,6)
{HOLD YOUR TONGUE} – a phrase that means “not to say” is cryptically defined as what dentist might do when drilling a tooth

15d    Female group, inserting dish, cooked gran a symbol of the North (5,4)
{WIGAN PIER} – start with the Women’s Institute (female group) and then insert PIE (a dish) inside an anagram (cooked) of GRAN to get a well-known symbol of the North, made famous by a George Orwell novel – unless I have missed something it is not clear that the insertion indicator means that the dish is to be inserted into the anagram

16d    Handsome youth, for example swapping Dolce & Gabbana, initially struggled (8)
{AGONISED} – start with ADONIS (handsome youth) and EG (for example) and swap the D and G (swapping Dolce & Gabbana, initially) to get a word meaning struggled

17d    Infringe principle of expenses till company begin to operate a check (8)
{ENCROACH} – a word meaning to infringe comes from E (principle of Expenses) NCR (National Cash Registers / till company) O (begin to Operate) A and CH(eck), as in chess – that was hard work!

19d    Learning to stuff a daily piece of broccoli (6)
{FLORET} – take LORE (learning) and put it inside (to stuff) the Financial Times (a daily newspaper) and you get a piece of broccoli

20d    Rum’s operating price (4-2)
{ODDS-ON} – a charade of ODD’S (rum’s) with ON (working / operating) and you get a price for betting on, for example, a horse

22d    Soul star, on Sky, partnered him? (5)
{HUTCH} – David Soul played the partner of Starsky (star + sky) in the well-known TV cop serial

My favourite clues are highlighted, Anax style, in blue.

14 comments on “Toughie 272

  1. Have been a lurker for a while , thought I would post today as I solved my first ever toughie with zero help (did not know from the wordplay why 11a was what it was but thanks to you guys I do now).
    I actually failed miserably on the regular crossword today. Strange but true.
    Favourite clue , 15d . As an ageing soul-boy it had to be.

  2. A pleasant start to the Toughie week. This was enjoyable without been too taxing. The only clue I had an answer for without fully resolving the wordplay was 11a. I did resolve 3d from the anagram and then got the rest of the wordplay from the answer. Favourite clue was 22d.

  3. I liked this one.
    Mucked up the combatant with Warlike which made the film fun!!
    Missed the dramatist as a result.

    1. I tried to link to the original Billy Joel version, but it is protected from embedding.

      Who are Westlife? They don’t exist in my world.

      1. er.. Someone told me once….In a pub. Thats it! Some bloke told me in a pub once.
        (You aren’t asking the same person as Blue I notice!)

        Billy Joel can be found Here

        Westlife? P’tooey! Best thing about it (including Claudia Schiffer) was Tim McInnery as one of the Hoorays.

        1. I found that version, but it says “Embedding disabled by request” which means that if you embed it it looks like this:


  4. I haven’t done this puzzle but may I ask a question?

    17d Infringe principle of expenses till company begin to operate a check (8)

    If by “principle of expenses” we are supposed to get the initial letter E from the word ‘expenses”, shouldn’t the indicator be ‘principal’ rather than ‘principle’ – in which case the clue may have to be rewritten completely?

Comments are closed.