Toughie 506 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 506

Toughie No 506 by Osmosis

Hints and tips by Tilsit

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

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

Greetings from a wind and rain-lashed Calder Valley and a feeling-grotty Blogger.

Whether it’s the weather or my grottiness, but I didn’t enjoy this one quite as much as others by Osmosis, who is normally one of my favourite setters. I found it a bit of a slog rather than a challenge with a few weak, almost contrived clues on display rather than the usual elegant surface readings. There is still much to be admired in the puzzle and I have highlighted favourite clues in blue.

Please 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    Tumbler’s needed for this cocktail of rum, sloes, and a dash of tonic (10)
{SOMERSAULT} We start with an anagram today (indicated by cocktail) of RUM, SLOES, A and T (dash, i.e. first letter of “tonic”)

6a    In the buff, wife’s flatter (4)
{FAWN} If you are a buff at something, you are one of these and inside it goes W (for wife).

9a    Spooner perhaps led dray shakily outside pub (6,4)
{DINNER LADY} I bet when you saw the word “Spooner” you groaned. One of the advanced devices setters occasionally use is to clue definitions as though they were spoonerisms. I must confess I wince when I see them. However here, it’s a definition relating to someone who wields a (serving) spoon. An anagram (shakily) of LED DRAY goes around a word for an old-style pub to get the spoon-wielding madame.

10a    Water, accommodation primarily provided for stray (4)
{WAIF} W and A, the first letters of water and accommodation (indicated by primarily) + IF (provided) when assembled together give a word meaning a stray or gamin.

12a    Arrested criminal woman in Hamburg (4)
{FRAU} The explanation for this clue held me up for longer than it should have done, although the answer was fairly clear. Arrested here is used as in “arrested development”, i.e. a truncated form. Here the word for a woman in the German language is the word for a criminal without its last letter.

13a    Study of postal service reviewed arrival time in US city shortly (9)
{PHILATELY} An estimated time of arrival abbreviated and reversed (reviewed) goes inside the shortened name for The City of Brotherly Love, also abbreviated. This produces a word for studying postal operations and their marks.

15a    Chance to grab my lawyer — contrary, pretentious woman (4,4)
{LADY MUCK} The name given to a pretentious woman, often hurled as abuse in Coronation Street is a reversal of MY DA (my lawyer) inside a word for fortune.

16a    One reports no pot in possession of comedian Brand (6)
{JOURNO} Inside the wonderful Ms Brand’s first name goes O URN (no pot)

18a    Terriers, at home, in old car, needing domestication (6)
{TAMING} The Terriers are not dogs but soldiers and their abbreviation goes before IN (at home) inside a brand of sporty motor car popular in the 60’s and 70’s, indeed my brother had one of their roadsters (so glad I remembered to put the “d” in there!)

20a    For stomach exercise with bird, take off clothes (8)
{APPETITE} A word meaning imitate or take off goes around PE (exercise) and the name of a bird whose varieties include coal, wood and blue. This leads to a word meaning stomach.

23a    Tag, twice left in river, retrieved — property of a canine? (9)
{ENAMELLED} A word meaning to tag something is added to L L (twice left)and the whole of this is placed inside the name of the late Queen Mother’s favourite river reversed (retrieved) and you will get a word associated with a canine in a dental rather than woof-woof sense.

24a    Rotten houses left unlocked? (4)
{BALD} L (left) goes inside a word meaning rotten or poor to give a word meaning not having locks or tresses.

26a    English runner, typically participating in this (4)
{ARUN} Crosswordland seems to use the word river and has lots of ways of describing it: banker, flower and runner are all fairly common and here “runner” is used to mean river. The name of a British river found in Sussex, I think, can be found be considering what a jogger or athlete may go for. Horrible clue.

27a    Mike, going wrong way past Berkshire location, lacked such skills? (3-7)
{MAP-READING) Another one I wasn’t keen on. M (think NATO phonetic alphabet) plus PA (past) reversed, is added to the name of a place in Berkshire (former Southern home of Huntley and Palmers biscuits) to get a skill used in orienteering.

28a    Superstore plan to transfer 500 – 1000 (4)
{IKEA} A word for a plan or design swaps D for K to get the name of the place where you can get delicious meat balls with lingonberry jelly, as well as stuff for the home.

29a    Yankee joins Latin woman back on herb stall (5-5)
{DILLY-DALLY) The name for a herb (think of the dog in the seminal TV children’s series of that name) has Y (More NATO phoneticism) plus L (Latin) LADY (woman) reversed and gives you a phrase meaning stall.

[Tilsit has to dash off for a medical appointment, so I have reviewed the downs. BD]


1d           Retired when embracing party mixer (4)
{SODA} – reverse (retired) all of a word meaning when around (embracing) a party to get a mixer drink

2d           Graduate welcomes a new university bar, finally replete with stools? (7)
{MANURED} – put a Master of Education (graduate) around A N(ew) U(niversity) and R (baR finally) to get a word meaning replete with stools or faeces

3d           With constant visiting, Henry’s smitten with mouse and guinea pig? (6,6)
{RHESUS MONKEY} – put the Boltzmann constant inside (visiting) an anagram (smitten) of HENRY’S and MOUSE to get an animal used as the subject of an experiment (guinea pig)

4d           One swallows fantastic pills which might enliven the pot (8)
{ALLSPICE} – put a playing card with one spot around (swallows) an anagram (fantastic) of PILLS to give pimento or Jamaica pepper, supposed to combine the flavours of cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves (something which might enliven the pot)

5d           Tot emerges into porky young man (6)
{LADDIE} – put a word meaning to tot or sum inside a porky or untruth to get a young man

7d           Odd peeled-back sandwiches consumed after finding absent ham (7)
{AMATEUR} – a word meaning odd or unusual is reversed (peeled-back) around (sandwiches) a word meaning consumed and the whole lot is placed after A(bsent) to get a  ham, as in someone who operates a radio for a hobby

8d           Certain underwear departments where traffic’s restricted? (2-3-5)
{NO-FLY-ZONES} – some underwear could be described thus – add departments and you have an area in which aircraft are not permitted – both Chambers and the ODE give the enumeration as (2-3,5)

11d         Careless jolly chairman? (3,9)
{MAN OVERBOARD} – jolly is slang for a royal marine, so a careless jolly is one who falls off a ship – split as (3,4,5} it could be a company chairman

14d         Swaggering gait encapsulates group of young celebs (10)
{GLITTERATI} – put an anagram (swaggering) of GAIT around (encapsulates) a group of young animals to get these celebs, described by Chambers as “the current fashionable set, i.e. famous, glamorous, rich and beautiful people” – that’s not what I call them!

17d         A number, with minimum of effort, swim up river (8)
{EPIDURAL} – a number, as in anaesthetic, is built up from E (a minimum of Effort), a swim reversed (up) and a  river flowing through Kazakhstan to the Caspian Sea

19d         Mine’s not filled! It’s definitely below a standard serving! (7)
{MEASURE} – start with ME (MinE is not filled) then put a word meaning definitely below A to get a standard serving, particularly of alcohol

21d         Refill only half a Carling, given bitterness (3-4)
{ILL-WILL} – the second half of refILL is followed by the first name of former England Rugby Union captain, known affectionately as Bumface, to get a word meaning bitterness

22d         Chemical compound since removed from US state no.51? (6)
{ALKALI} – to get this chemical compound remove a two-letter synonym for when from the 49th US state and then add the Roman numerals for 51

25d         Caveman’s expression largely vacuous, but threatening (4)
{UGLY} – a two-letter expression allegedly used by a caveman is followed by LY (LargelY vacuous / empty) to get a word meaning threatening

Like Tilsit I lost interest in this puzzle long before I finished.  The handful of good clues didn’t make up for those that were so contrived that they could only be resolved by first guessing the answer.

25 comments on “Toughie 506

  1. This was a Toughie and a half needing to be polished off over lunch. Many thanks to Osmosis for the crossword. Favourite clues were 11d, 9a and 14d. Thanks too to Tilsit for Part I of the review and in anticipation to BD for Part II.

    i agree with the common on 26a – given that the final three letters of the answer form the first three letters of one of the words in the clue, it struck me as not up to the usual Osmosis standard.

  2. PHEW!
    3 that I just cannot fathom, 20a and 27are now explained (thanks Tilsit) so I await BD with the explanaton for the other -17d.
    Enjoyed the rest but Osmosis has the better of me today but thanks anyway.

    As I said on the other thread today – not for the faint-hearted!

    1. 17d Def: A number (as in an anaesthetic) from E (minimum of effort) + DIP< (swim up) + URAL (river)

      1. Easy when you know how! I always miss that pronunciation of NUMBER – Doh!
        Thanks Prolixic.

  3. 6a) Bit of over kill here because “Fawn” and “Buff” are the same colour. At least the answer wasn’t “nude”.

    26a) Was, I agree, awful. I rejected “Arun” as I didn’t expect “run” after “running” in the clue.

    Hope your health and weather improve.

  4. This was marred a bit, for me, by the very large number of reversals required, but I did like many of the clues – 9a, 15a and 8d, and especially 2d.
    Thanks to Osmosis and Tilsit.

    1. Osmosis = Lots of reversals – one of the trademarks of his crosswords. I’m sure he does it to get his nwo back.

  5. Have to admit to needing hints for the vast majority of the clues, and even then took me a while to understand despite Tilsits clear explanations. I think i’ve worked out 7d but await BDs hints. Osmosis back catalogue to be trawled this weekend I think, I need to get onto the wavelength. Thanks to Tilsit and Osmosis

  6. I struggled my way through this one for most of the day until I was left with 26a which floored me completely. I thought it might be a river but still couldn’t get it (being a notherner!) so I had to use the hints to finish off – most frustrating!! Some enjoyable clues, I liked 8d and 11d but mostly just hard work. Off to give my brain a rest with some rubbish TV now!

  7. Very enjoyable toughie though like almost everyone I disliked 26a. Thanks Osmosis and Tilsit

  8. I came to a shuddering halt with this one! Now, having read the hints and the answers, I realise all the clues were there. Note to self: Must try harder. A master-class toughie, in my humble opinion. Thanks to setter and reviewer(s)

  9. I really enjoyed this one, apart from the aforementioned 26a. I liked the way we all groaned at the word spooner in 9a – nice mislead- and I have marked that clue and 24a, 29a, 8d, 11d and 25d as favourites although I can’t pick just one to be the best. Definitely merited Friday Toughie status as I thought it fun and clever and brainstretching. Thanks to Osmosis for the crossword and Tilsit and BD for the review.

  10. Excellent challenge today from Osmosis I thought it was awash with some great clues of which i’ve selected 3d 8d 24a and 29a as my favourites, I’m going for a lie down now as my grey cells are frazzled. Thanks to Tilsit and Big Dave for the review.

  11. I thought this was a smashing crossword with some very good clues – 11d was in a class of its own – and others I liked were 6a, 8d and 24a. I try to complete the Toughie without any help (except Chambers) but was defeated today, like others, by 26a. My particular problem was that I thought the name of the English runner ended in ‘m’ and so the second part of the clue made no sense. Must polish up my geography skills!

    Many thanks to Osmosis and to the reviewers.

  12. Struggled with this one, and I’m still not sure why 2d. Where does the final “d” come from? Favourite 14d.

  13. I enjoyed this although I found it tough. If you think that 26a us poor then take a look at 11a in the Times!
    Thanks to Osmosis – there were some lovely definitions here and Tilsit/BD for the review

  14. I enjoyed this one – Tough, but rewarding to complete.
    Thanks to Osmosis, and to Tilsit and BD for the combined review.

  15. After the lavatorial 2d, perhaps we’d have preferred 26a to be a rising sun – or some such clue?

    Forgpt to say previously, I just loved 11d.

      1. Might have been better to have had “chair” instead of “chairman”, to avoid the repetition between clue and solution (also evident in 26A).

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