Toughie 380

Toughie No 380 by Osmosis

Not so Glum

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

This is my second Osmosis puzzle this month and I have to say that I really enjoyed it. There’s less of the very complicated wordplay that we’ve had from Osmosis in the past (in particular, not as many reversals), but there are some delightfully quirky clues. There are also lots of references to people and places, but I think that they’re all reasonably well-known, except possibly for the footballer who may not be known to younger solvers.
As always we’d love to get your views, so please leave a comment.

Across Clues

1a  Jack comically hosts club contest (6)
{DEBATE} – put the surname of the glum comedian around what the ball is struck with (club) in cricket for example to get a public speaking contest.

4a  Duke’s found immersed in ale, drunk — one advises Queen (8)
{ADELAIDE} – D(uke) goes inside an anagram (drunk) of ALE and this is followed by an assistant (one advises) to get the name of the Queen consort of William IV.

10a  Funny man turned over lots of money through exercise (3,6)
{LES DAWSON} – here we have a second lugubrious comedian within the first three clues. Reverse (turned over) a roll of banknotes (lots of money) inside (through) a period of learning (exercise).

11a  Round body shy to participate in, say, somersaults (5)
{GLOBE} – the definition is round body and to get it we insert (participate) a verb to throw or shy inside the abbreviation of for example (say) which is reversed (somersaults).

12a  Trade’s affected by business design style (3,4)
{ART DECO} – an opulent design style which flourished in the first half of the last century is an anagram (affected) of TRADE followed by the usual abbreviation for a business.

13a  Fish and fries nouvelle — chef’s latest one to rip off (7)
{SARDINE} – this fish is an anagram (nouvelle – like it!) of AND (f)RIES without (rip off) the last letter of cheF.

14a  Windows type, in shelter, revolutionary wants to boot out (5)
{EXPEL} – a verb meaning to eject or boot out is one of the many flavours of the Windows operating system with a word for shelter reversed (revolutionary) around it.

15a  Philosophical dog needing to pee causes complaint? (8)
{IMPETIGO} – if ever a clue justified a question mark it’s this one, which is worthy of Araucaria. What we want is a doggy take on the Cartesian philosophical statement cogito ergo sum (I think therefore I am) which might take the form ‘I’m (a) pet (therefore) I go (pee)’. Wonderful!

18a  Greek premier to count cost during appeal for help (8)
{SOCRATES} – and, talking of philosophers, here’s one of the old Greek greats. Put the first letter (premier) of C(ount) and a synonym for cost inside a distress call (appeal for help).

20a  In record company, Mike replaces Director, creating a spiritual focus (5)
{MECCA} – the city towards which Muslims face during their five daily prayers is the name of a record company with its initial D(irector) replaced by the letter that Mike stands for in the Nato alphabet.

23a  Piece of furniture, jolly old, protected by runner (7)
{ARMOIRE} – put the abbreviation for a Royal Marine (jolly) and O(ld) inside (protected by) a Yorkshire river to get a cupboard or wardrobe (piece of furniture).

25a  Comparatively wet Prince (7)
{RAINIER} – double definition, the second being the name of the Prince who ruled Monaco until his death in 2005, and whose main claim to fame was marrying Grace Kelly.

26a  Home for Derby porcelain originally in some complex (5)
{EPSOM} – the Surrey town where the Derby horserace is run every year is constructed by putting the initial letter (originally) of Porcelain inside an anagram (complex) of SOME.

27a  Take off poles surrounding hole in golf range (9)
{APENNINES} – the definition is range and it’s a range of mountains which extends down through most of Italy. Start with a verb to mimic (take off) and add the letters of the two geographic poles of the earth around (surrounding) one of the holes on a golf course (on an 18-hole course it’s the one just before “the turn”).

28a  Unionist chooses to embrace extremists in secret and live elsewhere (2,6)
{UP STICKS} – a colloquial phrase meaning to set off for pastures new (live elsewhere) is constructed from U(nionist) followed by a verb meaning chooses or selects which goes round (to embrace) the outer letters (extremists) of SecreT.

29a  Extra contains nothing reactionary that identifies reporter (6)
(BYLINE} – one of the ways in which an extra can be scored in cricket goes round (contains) a synonym for nothing which is reversed (reactionary) to get the bit of text which identifies the name of the writer of a newspaper article.

Down Clues

1d  Mediterranean food Jill latterly produced during parties (8)
{DOLMADES} – put the last letter (latterly) of JilL and a synonym for produced inside the usual crossword term for parties to get a Mediterranean dish of stuffed vine leaves or vegetables.

2d  Last of patients enters chest surgery — one waits here to get wheeled away (3,4)
{BUS STOP} – the place where you wait to get transported away on public transport (I love “wheeled away”) is the last letter of patientS inside (enters) a woman’s chest, followed by the abbreviation for a surgical procedure.

3d  Bohemian composer needed in posh magazine? No thanks (9)
{TRAVELLER} – put the name of the composer of Bolero inside the (ta)TLER (posh magazine) without TA (no thanks) to get a Bohemian or Gypsy.

5d  Perhaps something for elevenses — Spanish red? Asti? Doubtful (6,8)
{DANISH PASTRIES} – an anagram (doubtful) of SPANISH RED ASTI.

6d  Lycra-clad athlete regularly juggled sticks in both hands (5)
{LUGER} – this lycra-clad athlete who hurtles down mountains lying on what looks like a small tray is made from the even (regularly) letters of jUgGlEd inside left and right hands.

7d  One performing in band for a pressing engagement? (7)
{IRONING} – possibly the easiest clue in the puzzle, but a pressing engagement is an amusing way to describe the process of de-creasing clothes. Start with I (one) and follow this with a circle or band with ON (performing) inside.

8d  I noisily hired out some of shoes (6)
{EYELET} – a sound-alike (noisily) of I is followed by a synonym for hired out to get a small hole through which a shoelace is threaded. Do you think that “some of shoes” is a tad vague?

9d  A stab? Drop of arsenic? Gunfire? It’s not informed (1,4,2,3,4)
{A SHOT IN THE DARK} – a phrase meaning a wild guess (a stab) is constructed from the first letter (drop) of Arsenic, the sound of a gun being fired and a way of saying unaware or not informed.

16d  Footballer a bit old to play around DIY store with bearings (3,6)
{TOM FINNEY} – what we have here is a legendary English international winger of the 1950s, who played his entire career for a single club, Preston North End. This was in the era when players, even internationals, would often catch the same bus as their fans to home games (compare and contrast with the overpaid prima donnas of today who performed so well in South Africa). The surface reading is very appropriate since he was a trained plumber who worked as such to supplement his wages from football. The definition is footballer a bit old (he’s still going at the age of 88). Put a verb meaning to play around the initials of a furniture retailer which specialised in flat-pack furniture (and which I believe is now in administration) and compass bearings which, depending on how you split the letters, could indicate one, two or three directions.
How does Wayne Rooney differ from a faulty jet engine? The jet engine will eventually stop whining.

17d  Game TV presenter wears ornamental fabric (8)
{LACROSSE} – a TV presenter (who got into “weal twouble” last year) is surrounded by (wears) a delicate ornamental fabric to get a team sport originally invented by Native Americans.

19d  Huge female model admits one chemical process (7) [CluedUp version]
Very big bones on sibling and me (7) [Paper version]
{OSMOSIS} – we have two clues here for the price of one, presumably because the “me” in the paper version would be unfair on CluedUp solvers who are still not being told the name of the setter (although we have had similar references in the past which have appeared unchanged on CluedUp). Wouldn’t it be easier and a lot more satisfactory to publish the setter’s name on CluedUp rather than have two different clues?
The answer is both the diffusion of liquids through a semipermeable membrane and the sobriquet of today’s setter. For the first clue, huge is a very large clothing size and this is followed by the surname of a top fashion model which includes (admits) I (one). The second is a charade of the same clothing size (very big), the abbreviation for a professional who may be known as “bones” and an abbreviated sibling.
So, which of the two clues do you prefer? I like the paper version better because it has a smoother surface reading.

21d  Main relative poured out wine (7)
{CHIANTI} – this has a homophone indicator (poured out) that I’ve not come across before, but it does produce a smooth surface. We want sound-alikes of key (main) and auntie (relative).

22d  Light refreshment in most of France? (6)
{GATEAU} – this is an excellent all-in-one clue. Put the light refreshment that “cheers but does not inebriate” inside the old Roman word for France without its last letter (most).

24d  Feet start to itch Disney character, blowing top (5)
{IAMBI} – the definition is feet in the poetic sense. Put the first letter (start) of Itch ahead of Disney’s young deer which has been decapitated (blowing top).

The (many) clues I liked today included 23a, 2d, 16d and 22d, but my clue of the day is 15a. What do you think? Leave us a comment!


  1. crypticsue
    Posted June 30, 2010 at 1:01 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Tough but achievable in one go. My favourite clue has to be 19d (I always do my crosswords in the paper version). Also nice to remember Mr 10a. Thanks to Osmosis for the lovely puzzle and Gazza for the review.

  2. Posted June 30, 2010 at 1:17 pm | Permalink | Reply

    For some reason I am really struggling today so will press on and have a go.
    Parting comment re: 24d – not “IUMBO” then!. Admit it – I’m great!

    • crypticsue
      Posted June 30, 2010 at 1:23 pm | Permalink | Reply

      It is a proper Toughie but if I can do it……!

      • Posted June 30, 2010 at 5:01 pm | Permalink | Reply

        OK – I’m back but had 3 hanging out down the bottom. Fine enough puzzle but I have had a long day in preparation for getting back tomorrow. I’ll catch you all tomorrow from dear old Blighty and promise not to flush the plane toilet when flying over the South East.

        Ashamed to say that I missed what is an excellent &Lit at 22d.
        Thanks to gazza and to Osmosis – we don’t mind a bit of self-regarding nonsense now and then!

  3. Posted June 30, 2010 at 1:24 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Is it possible that the crossword compiler failed to turn up today, and the Telegraph were forced to recycle one from decades ago? I mean, a 1950s footballer? Even the DIY store in the wordplay no longer exists.

    And one of the comedians is long dead, as is the prince, but no mention of this in the clues.

    Only the reference to Windows XP convinced me that this is actually a 21st century crossword (and Windows XP is not very recent).

    But quite enjoyable for all that. Who would have thought that a knowledge of 1950s Preston North End players would come in useful some day?

  4. Prolixic
    Posted June 30, 2010 at 1:40 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Great fun and games from Osmosis today. Many thanks to him for a super puzzle and to Gazza for the blog. Favourite clue was 15a.

  5. BigBoab
    Posted June 30, 2010 at 1:40 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Great fun with this one, I loved 16d and your picture for 19d was delightful. Thanks Gazza and Osmosis. I did think it deserved 4* for difficulty however.

  6. barbyjo
    Posted June 30, 2010 at 2:26 pm | Permalink | Reply

    thanks for a great review!
    One point though, the word Gypsy should always have a capital letter as it refers to a recognised ethnic group, as do Travellers of Irish Heritage.
    Sorry to be picky, but this is yet another way of not recognising the culture and heritage of the GRT communities.
    Off my soap box now, my favourite clue was 15a

    • gazza
      Posted June 30, 2010 at 3:00 pm | Permalink | Reply

      Thanks – I’ll remember that. I’ve amended the blog.

  7. tilly
    Posted June 30, 2010 at 2:26 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Really good fun- needed something like this today. Oddly enough, i got 6d from reversing the first five letter of regularly once I had the checking letters. Wishful thinking that the answer was lager …

    Thanks to Osmosis and Gazza.

  8. Digby
    Posted June 30, 2010 at 3:31 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Needed Gazza’s help to complete – had IMPOTENT for 15a, which made 7d much harder than it really was. Like crypticsue, I’m very happy with “20th Century” paper technology!

  9. Digby
    Posted June 30, 2010 at 4:06 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Picking up on Gazza’a 16d byline, which of David Blaine’s records did Wayne Rooney break in South Africa? Spending 44 days in a box doing very little.

  10. brendam
    Posted June 30, 2010 at 4:48 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Thanks, Gazza, I wouldn’t have finished without your blog. 16d, I ask you! My mind was not in working order today, better luck tomorrow!

  11. Nubian
    Posted June 30, 2010 at 5:45 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Decided that today would be a day of instruction and went through the blog with almost every clue. I managed a few but I realize you chaps are leagues ahead.
    Never mind as someone said recently, “you have to be in it to win it”.
    Thanks very very much for the days tuition Gazza.

    Safe journey Gnomethang

  12. nanaglugglug
    Posted June 30, 2010 at 5:57 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Really enjoyed it today, for myself,too many names which without Hotlips I’d never have got in a million years! Otherwise lots of lovely clues, particularly 25a

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