Toughie 364

Toughie No 364 by Osmosis

Let’s Play a Game of Reversi

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

I know that Osmosis is not everyone’s cup of tea with his complicated wordplay and seemingly endless supply of reversals, but I normally enjoy battling with him and I enjoyed this one. Let us know what you thought of it, and please remember to click on one of the five stars below.
I won’t be blogging again until next Tuesday, since Gnomethang is standing in for me on the Friday Cryptic.

Across Clues

1a  It’s my convertible close to office block (6)
{STYMIE} – we start with a verb meaning to block or prevent which is constructed from an anagram (convertible) of IT’S MY followed by the last letter (close) of officE.

5a  After motor sport, Lewis to switch partner in money matters? (8)
{FISCALLY} – the definition is in money matters (specifically relating to the Exchequer’s raising of money through taxation). Begin with Formula One (motor sport) which becomes FI then add the two initials reversed (to switch) not of young Mr Hamilton, the racing driver but of the author of The Screwtape Letters and The Chronicles of Narnia, and finally add a synonym for partner.

9a  Welsh community preach about evil halfway through prayers (10)
{CAERPHILLY} – we want a Welsh community (and town) near Cardiff, which is probably best known in the outside world for its cheese. Start with an anagram (about) of PREACH and add a synonym for evil and the letter that comes halfway through praYers.

10a  Enclosure’s releasing colt, sound after accident (4)
{OOPS} – the enclosure is one that you might keep chickens in. Remove the initial C (releasing colt, abbreviated to C in horseracing genealogy) and don’t forget the ‘S to get an expression you might use after you’ve had a minor accident.

11a  Tribal chief confronted love child, say (8)
{GERONIMO} – string together O (love), a child who has not reached the age of majority and the abbreviation for say or for example, and then reverse the whole lot (confronted) to get the name of a famous Apache chief.

12a  Alvin’s outside with washing, leaving dry over plant (6)
{ANNUAL} – start with the outside letters of AlviN and add a word for washing clothes, having first removed DRY from it and reversed (over) what’s left. You should have now got a plant that lives for one year only.

13a  Othello player counteracted excellent turn (4)
{IAGO} – it’s a bit of a relief to get an easy one. Reverse (counteracted) two letters standing for excellent and add a turn in a board game to get a character in Shakespeare’s Othello. The misdirection tries to point you towards the game of Othello, which is also called Reversi, a particularly appropriate name for an Osmosis puzzle.

15a  Half-laughing, agents obtain final residence abroad (8)
{HACIENDA} – if you’re half-laughing then you presumably only utter half of HA HA. Follow this with one of the US intelligence services (agents) which goes around (obtain) a synonym for final. The definition is a ranch-house in Spanish-speaking countries (residence abroad).

18a  Boat preferably needed to entertain child (8)
{SCHOONER} – an adverb meaning preferably or rather has an abbreviation for child put inside (to entertain) to get a sailing ship with at least two masts.

19a  It’s Inter Milan’s season (4)
{TERM} – even I (not a great football fan) have heard of the success of Inter Milan and their special manager this season. In this clue, however, we need to find a hidden word for season or period of the year. Where, I hear you ask, is the hidden indicator? Well, I reckon that the answer is the first five letters of the clue, i.e. “It’s in”. You have to applaud the ingenuity!

21a  Irishman perhaps hesitating to participate in fiddle with tenor (6)
{DERMOT} – a common male forename in Ireland (Irishman perhaps) is formed by putting ERM (an interjection expressing hesitation or doubt) inside (to participate in) a verb meaning to swindle or fiddle and finishing with T(enor).

23a  Brown allowed each brother a unionist demand? (3,5)
{TEA BREAK} – unionist here is not an Ulster politician but a member of a trade union, anxious to negotiate a regular time-out from work. Put the yellowish-brown colour of wooden furniture around (allowed) the abbreviations for each and brother.

25a  Record dash converting into cash, according to this? (4)
{DISC} – to convert dash into cash, you have to assume that the D is C.

26a  Domestic pinches medal in case (10)
{NOMINATIVE} – put a word meaning domestic or non-foreign around (pinches) an Order of Merit (medal) and IN to get a grammatical case.

27a  Fabulous place TV department reviewed in maps (8)
{ATLANTIS} – the name of a legendary lost city somewhere under the sea is made by putting a television news organisation reversed (reviewed) inside a book of maps.

28a  Sting beginning to harass soprano during playing of lute (6)
{HUSTLE} – a verb meaning to con people out of money by an elaborate deception (sting) is formed from the first letter (beginning) of Harass followed by an anagram (playing) of LUTE with S(oprano) inside (during).

Down Clues

2d  Trucker initially diverted attention about carbon footprint (5)
{TRACE} – the definition is footprint. Start with the first letter (initially) of T(rucker) and add a metaphor for attention (think of Mark Antony’s speech after the death of Julius Caesar) which has to be reversed (diverted) and put C(arbon) inside (about).

3d  Explorer using up memory on PC? It’s old, see (5,4)
{MARCO POLO} – the name of a famous Venetian explorer is made by reversing (using up) computer memory and adding an informal name for a police officer (PC), then O(ld) and a short word meaning see.

4d  The differing contributions of nations (6)
{ETHNIC} – an anagram (differing) of THE is followed by the abbreviation for National Insurance contributions.

5d  Novel written later by jockey to become rich? On the contrary (4,2,4,5)
{FALL ON HARD TIMES} – the name of a Dickens novel comes after (written later by) the surname of a six-times champion jockey to produce a phrase which means the opposite (on the contrary) of to become rich.

6d  Special order Yankee’s given with impudent language — it’s used in some restaurants (3,5)
{SOY SAUCE} – the abbreviation for S(pecial) O(rder) is followed by the letter that Yankee represents in the Nato phonetic alphabet and a synonym for impudent language or lip to get what you may find on the table in some (mainly Chinese) restaurants.

7d  Grand institute declines treating organic fruit (5)
{ACORN} – take the letters which are abbreviations for G(rand) and I(institute) out of (declines) OR(g)AN(i)C and make an anagram (treating) of what remains to form a fruit. Do you think that declines is a bit dodgy as a deletion indicator?

8d  Fourth design entered upset true European resident (9)
{LAPLANDER} – if the first design is plan A, then we want to put the fourth design inside (entered) a synonym for true which is reversed (upset).

14d  Old brewer heads to counting house in alcohol fog (9)
{ALCHEMIST} – old brewer is a humorous way of referring to this early scientist who used to brew up all sorts of potions in his futile attempts at transmuting base metals into gold. Put the initial letters (heads) of C(ounting) H(ouse) inside a type of alcoholic drink and a synonym for fog.

16d  Hospital department become weary when facing one’s complaint (9)
{ENTERITIS} – the definition is complaint and it’s an inflammation of the intestine. Start with the usual hospital department in crosswordland and add a verb meaning to become weary which has to be reversed (when facing). Finally put I’S (one’s) on the end.

17d  Current smell reportedly beginning in toilet — a gut reaction? (8)
{INSTINCT} – for current we need a short word meaning fashionable or trendy. Now add a sound-alike (reportedly) of a bad smell and finish with the first letter (beginning) of T(oilet).

20d  Found ant’s head in meal (6)
{LAUNCH} – a verb meaning to found is made by putting the first letter (head) of A(nt) inside a midday meal.

22d  Mike joins endless line of darts players with a drink (5)
{MOCHA} – the letter that Mike stands for in the Nato phonetic alphabet is followed by the line that darts players have to stand behind when throwing, without its last letter (endless). Put an A on the end to get a type of coffee (drink).

24d  Here one forges note — very shortly in trouble (5)
{ANVIL} – the equipment that is found in a smithy (here one forges) is constructed by putting N(ote) and an abbreviated (shortly) V(ery) inside a synonym of a verb to trouble.

The clues that I liked best included 5a, 11a, 19a, 3d and 22d, but my clue of the day is 14d. Let us know your views in a comment!



  1. Posted June 2, 2010 at 12:54 pm | Permalink

    I didn’t find this much more difficult than yesterday which is unusual for me and Osmosis. I was caught on 2d and 4d as I didn’t appreciate the wordplay although I had the answers. I agree on the 6d indicator!
    Favourites were 5d, 8d, 15a and 14d.
    Many Thanks for the review, gazza, and for lending me the chair on Friday (presumably the dog gets his walk on time this week!). Also many thanks to Osmosis for not doing my head in quite as much as the last few!

  2. crypticsue
    Posted June 2, 2010 at 1:24 pm | Permalink

    I was finding this exceedingly hard going to start with but, having looked in to check I had got something on today’s cryptic correct, I thought if Gnomethang says its not much more difficult than yesterday’s, I must be missing something. Got there without the hints in the end though. Too many good clues to pick a favourite.

    • Posted June 2, 2010 at 1:27 pm | Permalink

      Might just be me on a good day!. I checked through some previous ‘gnomethang v Osmosis’ and (s)he certainly has the better record!.

      • Posted June 2, 2010 at 1:33 pm | Permalink

        Excalibur and Warbler are the only lady setters currently in the Telegraph.

  3. tilly
    Posted June 2, 2010 at 1:27 pm | Permalink

    re 6d – I read it as though ‘given’ meant the ‘given letter’ so I used the initial letter of the first three words. More luck than judgement, maybe, but I got the answer. Thanks for a good brain work out, Osmosis and Gazza for the review.

  4. Pommers
    Posted June 2, 2010 at 1:44 pm | Permalink

    Only my second Toughie! Are they always this tough? Managed about half on my own and the rest with BD’s hints. Was lost on 5d as I didn’t know Mr Fallon – I know as much about horse racing as I do about astrophysics!
    Thanks for the help BD – I’ll try again tomorrow.

    • Posted June 2, 2010 at 1:50 pm | Permalink


      Gazza wrote this one, not me!

      • Pommers
        Posted June 2, 2010 at 1:55 pm | Permalink

        Yeah sorry BD – getting the Toughie and Cryptic blogs mixed up!
        Thanks to Gazza for the tips!
        I’ll try to get it right in future!

    • crypticsue
      Posted June 2, 2010 at 1:50 pm | Permalink

      This is just my view but toughies seem vary according to the day of the week. Weds and Thurs are normally slightly less tough, Fridays (last Fridays being the exception to the rule) are always very tough (I sometimes try not to give in and look at the blog, and can take as long as Saturday afternoon to complete without the hints). Tuesdays vary in toughness but I am not sure why – could be the setter, could be the way the cryptic solving part of brain is working (or not working)

      • Pommers
        Posted June 2, 2010 at 6:46 pm | Permalink

        Thanks for that Crypticue. Maybe I’ll stick to Weds and Thurs until I get a bit better!

        • crypticsue
          Posted June 3, 2010 at 9:35 am | Permalink

          If I were you I should try every day. Its only my view of the situation after all. And the more practice…..

  5. BigBoab
    Posted June 2, 2010 at 1:48 pm | Permalink

    Thoroughly enjoyable crossword from Osmosis today, for once I managed to finish one of his without assistance. (A rare feat ) Thanks to Gazza for the review and osmosis for the crossword.

    • nanaglugglug
      Posted June 2, 2010 at 7:47 pm | Permalink

      Ditto, BigBoab, I thoroughly enjoyed this and it was nice to use the blog just to see your reasoning, Gazza!

  6. Prolixic
    Posted June 2, 2010 at 2:25 pm | Permalink

    Great fun from Osmosis today with some very nice wordplay and misleading surface readings. Thanks to the setter and to Gazza for the notes.

  7. Posted June 2, 2010 at 8:50 pm | Permalink

    5d was one of my O-Level Eng Lit set books. It was, and we did………….

  8. Vince
    Posted June 3, 2010 at 2:47 pm | Permalink

    What’s happened to today’s cryptic review?

    • Posted June 3, 2010 at 2:59 pm | Permalink

      Like magic, the acrosses have just appeared!