Toughie 308

Toughie No 308 by Osmosis

Nailing Jelly to a Wall

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

Half the fun of an Osmosis puzzle, for me, is untangling some of the very convoluted wordplay with which he populates his puzzles. This one is no exception, and it also gives us a number of laughs. I really enjoyed it, but there are a number of questionable indicators (and one very dodgy homophone) which may provoke the odd comment!
Let us know what you thought of it – all comments are welcome.

Across Clues

1a  Close game, after changeover, ending in terrible weather (6)
{ENDURE} – the definition is to weather or withstand. Start with a synonym for close or finish and add RU (rugby union, game) which has to be reversed (after changeover), finishing with the last letter (ending in) terriblE.

4a  Medium embodies such a psychic state (8 )
{MISSOURI} – the definition is state (i.e. one of the fifty in the U.S.). String together M(edium), IS (embodies), SO (such) and the forename of the great spoonbender and self-proclaimed psychic.

9a  Crustacean-like starters in Chinese restaurant served with salt in reserve (6)
{CRABBY} – start with the first letters (starters) of Chinese Restaurant and add an abbreviation for sailor (salt) and where you stand if you are in reserve. What you should have ended up with is an adjective meaning crustacean-like.

10a  Buttoned-up old historian briefly outside in rain (8 )
{TACITURN} – my old latin master used to go on at length about the bawdy prose produced by this Roman historian. Drop the last letter of his name (briefly) and add the outer letters (outside) of RaiN to get an adjective meaning buttoned-up or reserved.

11a  Barnet prone to sporadic clamping foremost in centre (4,4)
{ETON CROP} – barnet is cockney rhyming slang for hair (from Barnet Fair). We want a hairstyle which is an anagram (sporadic) of PRONE TO with the initial letter (foremost) of Clamping in the middle.

13a  Herb moved cigar boxes closer to smell (6)
{GARLIC} – an anagram (moved) of CIGAR encloses (boxes) the last letter (closer) of smelL.

15a  Cleaner around toilet having brief success (5,2,3,3)
{FLASH IN THE PAN} – very amusing double definition. Rishi won’t like the use of the brand name for the cleaner!

18a  Palace boss abruptly charged a player, then retracted — it’s nothing for millionaire, ultimately (5,8 )
{ROYAL PAVILION} – the definition is palace (there’s one in Brighton). Boss is NO. I (no. 1), add LIV(e) (charged, abruptly) and A PLAYER. Now reverse the lot (retracted), and, with a final flourish, replace the E (millionairE ultimately) with O (nothing). If you worked out the answer from the wordplay, rather than guessing the answer then seeing how you could make it fit the wordplay, go to the head of the class!

22a  Low life periodically harm old Lincoln convertible (6)
{AMOEBA} – this single-celled organism (low life) is constructed from the even letters (periodically) of hArM, followed by O(ld) and finishing with a reversal (convertible) of President Lincoln’s nickname.

24a  Soldier eager to ditch latest tense bird (8 )
{PARAKEET} – start with an airborne soldier and add KEE(n) (eager with the last letter ditched), then finish with T(ense).

26a  Gas money, that’s remitted, little man held back for example (8 )
{NITROGEN} – reverse (remitted) a slang word for money, then add RON (little man) with E.G. reversed (back) inside (held). The introduction of Ron spoilt the clue for me.

27a  Plant drawn very minute in plan (6)
{MIMOSA} – plan is AIM. Inside put SO (very) and M(inute), then reverse the lot (drawn). I wasn’t keen on drawn as a reversal indicator, but one of the meanings in Chambers is pulled back, so perhaps it works – what do you think?

28a  Business, changing tack, starts to import lucrative drink (8 )
{COCKTAIL} – an abbreviation for a company (business) is followed by an anagram (changing) of TACK and the initial letters (starts) of Import Lucrative.

29a  Susan vacated long grass (6)
{SNITCH} – a verb meaning to inform (grass) is produced from the outer letters (vacated) of SusaN followed by a verb meaning to long.

Down Clues

1d  Entertained parts of Einstein’s theory, with rereads periodically (6)
{EMCEED} – the answer is a verb which has been manufactured from the initials of Master of Ceremonies. Start with the three letters appearing in Einstein’s famous formula (omitting the other bits!) and add the even letters (periodically) of rErEaDs.

2d  Insect trail on sole inhibits foot (9)
{DRAGONFLY} – put together a verb meaning to trail or pull along behind and ONLY (sole) which contains (inhibits, i.e. restrains) F(oot). I bet that Libellule didn’t have any problems with this one.

3d  Novel features latterly in Spectator magazine Boris harangued (7)
{REBECCA} – this is the title of a novel by Daphne du Maurier. Start with the last letters (features latterly) of SpectatoR magazinE and add a sound-alike (harangued, i.e. spoken) of the surname of Boris, the German tennis player. The misdirection is quite clever because Boris Johnson was once editor of the Spectator, but the homophone, for me, is way off (Tilsit’s teeth will be half-way down his throat!).

5d  My word is final in Canada, Yankee (1,3)
{I SAY} – we want a exclamation expressing admiration (my word!) which was a favourite of the late tennis commentator, Dan Maskell. Take IS (given in the clue) and add the final letter of CanadA and then Y(ankee).

6d  Cod ‘n’ chips requires a vegetable (7)
{SPINACH} – an anagram (cod) of ‘N’ CHIPS requires an A to make a vegetable. Cod can mean not authentic or fake, but even so… – what do you think?

7d  American paired to avoid Democratic general (5)
{USUAL} – paired is (d)UAL (avoiding Democratic).

8d  Faultless pub once abandoned ‘Time’ (8 )
{INNOCENT} – another word for pub is followed by an anagram (abandoned) of ONCE and T(ime).

12d  Ambassador, in NATO building, ready for congress (2,4)
{ON HEAT} – put the initials of an ambassador’s title inside an anagram (building) of NATO. Hilarious, my favourite clue – I love “ready for congress”.

14d  Motor, its outer bearings replaced by amateurs, causes complaint (6)
{ANGINA} – take a synonym for motor and replace its outer letters (both E, hence bearings) with two As (amateurs).

16d  Conservationists with green wellies finally enter favourite festival (9)
{PENTECOST} – conservationists are NT (National Trust) – add ECO (prefix meaning green) and the last letter (finally) of wellieS and put the lot inside a synonym for favourite.

17d  Classical great, during bow, given this bottle of booze? (8 )
{ARMAGNAC} – the definition is this bottle of booze. Put MAGNA (great in latin, classical) inside (during) a word for bow (curved shape).

19d  Habit of medics to throw up a lot, taking in the basics (3,4)
{LAB COAT} – this garment is manufactured from an anagram (throw up) of A LOT with the basics (i.e. the start of the alphabet) inside (taking in).

20d  Such style cut by Brando, from the heart, for character of Godfather (7)
{ITALIAN} – I’m not sure whether part of this clue was meant to be in italics – if so, it hasn’t made in on to Clued Up. We want all except the last letter (cut) of ITALI(c) followed by the central letters (heart) of BrANdo.

21d  Couple check underneath Italian bread, discarding half (6)
{ATTACH} – the Italian bread is ciabatta – discard the first half and then add CH(eck) to get a verb meaning to couple or join together.

23d  Cop bust around centre of Hastings — one’s put behind bars (5)
{OPTIC} – the instrument used to measure out your shorts behind the bars in your local is an anagram (bust) of COP around the central two letters of HasTIngs.

25d  Couple (Viennese) embraced for one of Strauss’s (4)
{LEVI} – hidden (embraced) in the clue is one of the Strauss family (but not a composer).

The clues I enjoyed today included 4a, 15a, 18a and  22a, but my clue of the day is 12d. How about you? Tell us what you thought of it in a comment!


  1. the_chairman
    Posted February 24, 2010 at 1:23 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Bit of a struggle, got there in the end. I agree with 12d favourite clue. 10a I liked too, although I don’t recall much bawdiness in his Annals XIV when it was my A-level set-book. Definitely not head of class on 18a, and was too diverted by the Mayor of London on 3d to consider the other ‘Bonking Boris’. Wasn’t aware that 13a was a herb until this morning !
    Enjoyable Toughie, and the most difficult for me for quite a few days.

    • gazza
      Posted February 24, 2010 at 1:40 pm | Permalink | Reply

      It could well be that I’ve confused Tacitus with Suetonius. There was certainly one Roman historian who used to get my Latin master very excited. I never got beyond O-level Latin so never read either!

  2. Prolixic
    Posted February 24, 2010 at 1:28 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Wow. Osmosis’s puzzles leave me in one of two states – either it was worth the effort or I’m not sure whether it was worth it. This one veers towards the latter for me. There were some really great clues but lots of others heading for otterdom!

    A few comments from your notes:

    6d. Cod worked for me for the anagram indicator.
    20d. In the printed version there were no italics. Without them, I don’t think the clue works at all.
    18a. I only got this from the checking letters. When you get to this level of complexity in a clue, it starts getting a wee bit silly, for me at least.

    Clue of the day for me was 12d

    • gazza
      Posted February 24, 2010 at 1:56 pm | Permalink | Reply

      Well at least there’ll be no complaints today that the Toughie is easier than the Cryptic!

  3. BigBoab
    Posted February 24, 2010 at 1:50 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Very difficult crossword but very enjoyabe, liked 12d and 14d, struggled with 18a and needed your clue. Great review!

  4. Jezza
    Posted February 24, 2010 at 2:38 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Struggled with this, and failed to get 10a, and 27a. Agree with BigBoab; liked 12d and 14d.
    Along with the majority, guessed at 18a without fully understanding the wordplay.
    Thanks Gazza for the explanations, and to Osmosis for my headache! (Only joking, liked it really!!)

  5. Posted February 24, 2010 at 3:22 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Very appropriate setter’s pseudonym today, as I feel that a liberal dose of it was needed to solve 26a,18a, 20d………etc. Very challenging after a relatively easier, though possibly more enjoyable, puzzle from Jay.

  6. Polly
    Posted February 25, 2010 at 11:04 am | Permalink | Reply

    13a is a bit naughty as garlic isn’ t a herb, it is a member of the onion family.

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