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Toughie 516

Toughie No 516 by Osmosis

Cogito Ergo Word Sum (I think I’ve got the wordplay)

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

BD Rating – Difficulty ***Enjoyment ***

Afternoon All!. Gazza has graciously stepped aside this afternoon to let me have a bash at my first Toughie review. I must admit to a feeling of trepidation when I realized it was to be Osmosis as I sometimes struggle with him.

In the event it was one of his more gentle puzzles but as ever with Osmosis the wordplay is often worked out after solving the clue from a definition and checking letters. This was certainly the case with a number of clues including 1a, 13a, 6d and 22d.

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           With lead in pencil, I end up pausing in lady’s company? (11)
{PHILANDERER} – Excellent wordplay that I only managed to parse when replying to Prolixic. I was just replying to say I hadn’t worked it out yet when the penny dropped. I would say that this is an &Lit or all-in-one clue. The definition gives you a rake, roué, Casanova or ladies man. Start with P (the Leading letter in Pencil, then place I LAND (I end up) + ER (for pausing), inside ‘lady’s (in lady’s company). You can see that the entire sentence is used in the wordplay, and also that the entire sentence is the definition – so an &Lit it is. Cracking start to a puzzle.

10a         Nancy’s friend heads for South Shields wrongly (5)
{AMISS} – Nancy is the first word in order to hide the capitalization; so we want the word for friend as spoken by a native of the city. Then add the heads of South and Shields for an adverb meaning wrongly.

11a         Providing protection for valuable item? It’s what gallery attendants do (9)
{WATCHCASE} – A definition and cryptic definition. What might protect a timepiece and a museum guard staring at an exhibit in a glass housing.

12a         Mum, resentfully, snubbed leadership of Anthony Eden (7-2)
{SHANGRI-LA} – A synonym of Eden, a place for delight and peace. Start with a short word for ‘mum’ as in ‘quiet’, then all but the last (snubbed) of a synonym for ‘resentfully’ and then add the leading letter of Anthony. A nice ‘lift and separate’ as the surface reading of ‘leadership of Anthony Eden’ is well worked.

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13a         Character connecting TV initially names time that is free (5)
{UNTIE} – A cheeky little definition for the first letter – it is the character that is between (connecting) T and V in the alphabet. Follow that with the Initials of Name and Time and then the abbreviation for the Latin phrase ‘That is’ to get a verb meaning ‘to free’.

14a         Perennial home for Windsor relatives (6)
{SORREL} – A Perennial plant, Rumex acetosa, is hidden in (has a home in) Windsor relatives.

16a         Fergie perhaps hassled ref close to half-time, with no penalty given (4-4)
{SCOT-FREE} – A lovely surface reading that might well describe an angry Sir Alex Ferguson badgering a referee to give a penalty (though I am sure he never does that!). In any case we need the nationality of Sir Alex followed by a hassled anagram of REF then the closing letter of half-timE. This gives an adjectival phrase for ‘without a penalty or fine’.

18a         Overhearing total scepticism, managed to sink putt (5,3)
{HOLED OUT} – Golf haters prepare to gnash your teeth!. A phrase for ‘managed to sink a putt’ is a homophone (overhearing) of words meaning ‘total’ and ‘scepticism’

20a         Doctor’s regularly citing da Vinci artwork (6)
{MOSAIC} – The artwork in question is made up of lots of little tiles called tessera. Start with MO’S for Medical Officer’s (doctor’s) then take every other letter (regularly citing) in ‘da Vinci’. I’ll let you lot figure out which ones!.

23a         Chemical company occupies periphery to restrain toxin (5)
{RICIN} – An old British chemical company, when placed inside (occupying) the outside letters (periphery) of RestraiN, lead to a neurotoxin derived from the castor bean.

24a         One leaves piano having played intro — it goes down well in wine bar? (5,4)
{PINOT NOIR} – Remove A for One from PIANO then add an anagram (having played) of INTRO. This leads to a variety of red wine that goes down very well thank you!

26a         Uranium in test room moved nearest the edge (9)
{OUTERMOST} – An adjective meaning furthest from the middle (i.e. nearest the edge). Place the chemical symbol for Uranium in an anagram of TEST ROOM.

27a         Delayed, getting round Mediterranean resort (2,3)
{ON ICE} – Initially I was looking for a Med resort of LA TEO. What we actually need is O + a Mediterranean resort. When split 2,3 it gives a word meaning ‘delayed’ or ‘shelved’ as might be used to describe a plan or policy that is developed but delayed in implementation.

28a         Two with gnashed teeth do some cleaning and peg out (4,3,4)
{BITE THE DUST} – An informal phrase for peg out, turn up ones toes or die. Start with BI (for two) then an anagram of TEETH (gnashed – lovely indicator) and follow with a word for ‘clean around the home’.


2d           Intermittently hear international footballers here in the Middle East (5)
{HAIFA} – The largest city in northern Israel. We need the odd letters in HeAr (intermittently) then I for International and finally the abbreviation for the governing body of football in the UK.

3d           Promoted green gas — alternative housing fuel in Italy … (7)
{LASAGNE} – Another excellent surface reading with a cheeky definition of ‘fuel in Italy’. This actually refers to a certain type of Italian food (fuel for the body!). Housing tells you that this is a hidden word clue and ‘promoted’ refers to the fact that the hidden word is reversed inside ‘green gas alternative’.

4d           … green person recycling bin with wee (6)
{NEWBIE} – The elision between the clues is here this time as both clues are linked thematically via the green/eco surface readings. The definition here is ‘green person’, particularly used on the internet for inexperienced bloggers. It is a recycled anagram of BIN and WEE

5d           Transport from hospital department administered by church (8)
{ENTRANCE} – A charade or wordsum that will seem slightly chestnutty to more experienced solvers. Start with the ubiquitous Crosswordland hospital department then add a synonym for administered then an abbreviation for the Church of England. Transport here is a verb meaning to delight or spellbind.

6d           Heart of Texas in the USA — it’s awful empty (7)
{EXHAUST} – Thanks to Prolixic for helping with the wordplay. Place X (the middle/heart of teXas) into THE USA and make an anagram (it’s awful). The result is a verb meaning empty or use up. I was trying to use the EXA from Texas and got confused!

7d           Noisily criticises what tiler does? (6,3,4)
{RAISES THE ROOF} – A gentle definition and cryptic definition. A phrase meaning noisily criticizes and also the action of a tiler building up the top of a house.

8d           Camel largely encapsulates the essence of itinerant culture (8)
{BACTERIA} – Another very nice surface reading making one think of a nomadic desert tribe. In fact the definition is a scientific one for what may grow in a Petri Dish (culture). Take most of a double humped camel (largely tells you to take all but the last) and insert (encapsulate) the middle letter (essence) of itinErant.

9d           He thought deeply about second of scenes in EastEnders broadcast (4,9)
{RENE DESCARTES} – I first thought that there was an error here until I realize I had missed a word. We need to find a philosopher dubbed the ‘Father of Modern Philosophy’ and also the inventor of Cartesian Geometry which leads to part of his surname. We need  RE (about – I missed this initially), and then C (the second letter of sCenes) inside an anagram (broadcast) of EASTENDERS.

15d         Engineer boosted business during late shift (8)
{RELOCATE} – Shift or move house. Take RE (the abbreviation for a Royal Engineer) then reverse (boost i.e. turn up) a short word for business or company inside (during) the word LATE.

17d         Sweater with hole near bottom? Work attire, ultimately, that’s for skipper in US (4,4)
{JUMP ROPE} – A US word for the playground game of skipping and what you do it with. A synonym of sweater with its second to last letter removed (a hole at the bottom!) then the abbreviation of a musical work followed by the last letter in attirE (ultimately)

19d         Classic bread finally eaten in expensive islands (7)
{DENARII} – An excellent definition of classic bread (Roman coins!). Put the last letter of eateN (finally) in a word meaning expensive and follow that with two Islands.

21d         Stunned couple back winning colt unexpectedly (3,4)
{OUT COLD} – Stunned or unconscious. Put an anagram of COLT (unexpectedly) inside the reverse (back) of a word for a twosome. Winning is the insertion indicator.

22d         Shop containers redirected outside to crush (6)
{SNITCH} – I was just about to email Crypticsue on the wordplay when Gnomethang’s Law kicked in!  Shop is a slang word for ‘Tell On’ or ‘implicate’ and we want another informal word for the same. Reverse (redirect) some metal containers then add the outside of CrusH.

25d         Drops moist crackers (5)
{OMITS} – Well you would – we only like crunchy crackers!. Crackers is the anagram indicator for MOIST. The definition is ‘drops’ as in leaves out.

A thoroughly entertaining puzzle from Osmosis with some amusing moments. I particularly enjoyed 3d and 19d but my favourite today was 16a. Finally thanks to Gazza for giving me a crack at a Toughie – I hope I haven’t given too much away; it is quite difficult to change from a weekend full review where all is revealed to a Hints and Tips style of review!

32 comments on “Toughie 516

  1. I did enjoy solving this Osmosis. Relatively speaking, toughie-wise, it didn’t take that long but some very enjoyable wordplay which I went to the trouble of working out first thing in case our reviewer needed any help – of course he didn’t – thanks to him for an excellent review. Thanks to Osmosis for a very nice Toughie – I liked 12a, 27a, 3d and 17d.

  2. Very enjoyable Toughie, made tougher by trying to solve it while having a telephone conversation about something else!

    Lots of good clues here; I liked “Character connecting TV…” in 13A.

    Thanks to Osmosis, and well done to Gnomethang for a good review and a great title.

  3. I thought this was an enjoyable puzzle without a lot of the complex wordplay that we sometimes get from Osmosis. Thanks to him and to the Gnome for an excellent review. My favourite clues were 12a, 16a and (best by a long shot) 1a.

    • You are right about 1a, gazza and thanks for your comments. In fact 1a is actually head and shoulders above the other clues in terms of construction. I liked it so much that I missed it!

  4. Easiest Osmosis for a whiile but really enjoyable, I loved 12a and 3d. Thanks osmosis and thanks to Gnomethang for a great review, I loved your picture clue for 17d.

      • Good challenge from Osmosis & a great review by Gnomethang. I also appreciate the picture clue & as I look out of my office window there is a similar vision of loveliness passing by…no wait it’s next door’s Afghan hound running about gormlessly in the rain. I must get down to Specsavers at some stage!

  5. Just about the right level of difficulty for me with some effort required but everything gettable in the end (although 9d took me a while). Best clues were 1a, 12a, and 28a but others were almost as good.

    Thanks to Osmosis for the puzzle and to Gnomethang for the review.

  6. Nearly completed this without hints but couldn’t see 9d so thanks for the help Gnomey.
    Favourite is 28a.
    Thanks to Osmosis for the puzzle.

  7. Really good offering today from Osmosis 1a definitely my favourite clue plus numerous to mention, thanks to the Gnome for an excellent review.

  8. Many thanks to Osmosis for a good challenging puzzle. Favourite clue was 12a. Thanks too to the Gnome on his debut Toughie blog.

  9. I sum, therefore I am, as this mathematician puts it.

    Excellent challenge and tough as a Toughie should be. Lovely wordplay and some great surfaces.

    Hardest by far was 1a. I realised it just had to be that word but working out the wordplay was really hard. I just stand in awe when I see such craft.

    Brilliant blog!

    Complimentary clue:

    Commentator paired with challenger gone mad, hangs on to -isms in confusion (10,3,7)

  10. Most enjoyable puzzle from Osmosis, and certainly at the easier end of the scale compared to some of his previous puzzles.
    One or two to think about, but great fun throughout.
    Many thanks to Osmosis, and to gnomethang for the comprehensive review.
    It must be school holidays this week – my 5-year old is about to drag me around the arcades on Brighton Pier!

  11. I did not enjoy this puzzle due to the concocted words in 4 and 17, although they were relatively easy to solve. 1a and 3d were difficult and 22 was last in, made me laugh, and is my clue of the day.Late posting as I had to watch Man U do what Man U do.

    • 22d was last for me as well UTC.
      To be fair to the setter, 4d and 17d are not concocted and both are given in Chambers. Granted the former is listed as informal and the latter is listed as N American (as it was defined!). Don’t forget that setters are bound by constraints in the grid and are also (thankfully) looking for new approved words all the time; if they didn’t then these crosswords would be liable to stagnate. As a 41 year old Englishman who is also IT literate (the same as you lot on this blog!) I had no problem with either words.
      The burning question, however, is did Sir Alex harass the Ref just before half time, and was a penalty given?

      • As if that nice Mr F would have done a thing like that! Take your point about new words. Pity they have nothing better to do than scour Chambers though.

  12. Really enjoyed this! I’m getting more toughie clues on my own now, but on this occasion had to refer to your review to find out why answers were what they were!

  13. I’d be interested to know where the sits on the range of toughies? I completed it unaided and that makes me believe it can’t be that difficult. At the same time I also thought it was probably highest standard I have solved unaided before and was therefore very pleased with myself :-). Maybe I just had a good day, to give some perspective I was 3 short in doing the same with Monday’s regular crossword and needed the hints.

    Thanks very much Osmosis and well done Gnome on your first toughie, a great job, maybe you are my lucky mascot !

    • I gave it 3 stars based on my solving time (with a couple of distractions). Prolixic finished the DT and then Toughie just before getting into work which is consistent with my assessment I think. Usually I would rate Osmosis as a 4 star in general but this was notedly easier than most of his puzzles but the wordplay remains tricky as ever.
      I would say it is pretty much square in the middle of the difficulty range but a very good puzzle to solve unaided.

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