Toughie 666

Toughie No 666 by Osmosis

Setter’s Devilry

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

BD Rating – Difficulty ***Enjoyment ***

Greetings from the Calder Valley. I was all set to use ‘The Number of the Beast‘ as today’s title or even ‘The Devil’s in the Detail (or The 7 Across is in the Detail, to be exact)‘, given that Osmosis usually produces puzzles of such ferocity that my brain usually hurts long and hard after finishing. However this was a much more benevolent puzzle and I have to say I was left a bit flat after finishing it.

There are the usual quality clues from Osmosis, but I don’t understand why the puzzle’s theme word is shown in some clues as ‘7 across’ but not others. There are some NINA’s lurking round the puzzle and they will be explained at the end of the blog so you can highlight them and reveal them if you get stuck. It was a pleasant solve while I was being poked and prodded this morning, but I expected a bit more.

On behalf of Andy and Jane, can I also thank everyone for their nice comments about the Only Connect appearances? They are still available on i-Player for the sadists and masochists amongst you. We will be back again on the 28th in the 3rd and 4th place battle.

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. Favourite clues are shown in blue.


6a    Bottle taken travelling through centre of Delhi (4)
{VIAL} We start with a word sum today. A word for a small bottle used for medicine or perfume is found by taking a word meaning ‘travelling through’ and adding L (the centre of Delhi)

7a    Extremist in despicable wickedness? (5)
{DEVIL} This is a sort of ‘all-in-one definition’ clue. The whole clue provides a definition, and the answer is found by taking the first letter (‘extremist’) of DESPICABLE and adding a word that means wickedness.

8a    Scriptural character, one existing on bread abroad (4)
{LEVI} The name of a character from the Bible is found by adding one to the name of the currency of Bulgaria.

10a    Soldiers’ great passion to find source of a 7 Across (8)
{TASMANIA} The location where you will find the creature known as a 7 across is found by taking an abbreviation for some reserve soldiers; add an S for the apostrophe and a word meaning passion or obsession.

11a    Little devil, third in show, brought in Bible for ad libbing (6)
{IMPROV} The abbreviated name for a type of ad lib stagecraft from such shows as Whose Line is It Anyway? is revealed by taking the word for a small 7 across and adding to it an abbreviation for an edition of the Bible with an O inside it.

12a    US wood-cutter inside it reversed vehicle (4)
{TAXI} The name of a vehicle found in abundance in London is found by taking the American way of spelling a word meaning ‘hatchet’ and placing in side TI (IT reversed).

13a    Unclothed celeb entertains football team outcast (5)
{EXILE} The Roman numerals that symbolise a football team go inside ELE (Celeb – unclothed, i.e. minus its first and last letters). This will give you a word meaning outcast.

15a    Ladies regularly gathering vote for alliance (4)
{AXIS} Inside A I S (the regular, i.e. alternate letters of LADIES) goes X (a vote) – this gives a wartime word meaning alliance.

16a    Ian acts strangely with partner, like a 7 Across (11)
{SATANICALLY} A word that means like a 7 across is an anagram of IAN ACTS and to this is added a word meaning a partner or friend.

21a    Panorama that is seen inside car (4)
{VIEW} Inside the abbreviation for a German vehicle goes IE (that is) to give a word meaning a sight.

22a    Songstress Anna caught 6 dancing (5)
{CALVI} A singer I have never heard of is found by taking C and adding an anagram of the word at 6 across.

23a    Fervent prima donna’s upset (4)
{AVID} Reverse the operatic name for a prima donna and you’ll get a word meaning fervent or keen.

24a    Devil-may-care worker breaks retiring present (6)
{WANTON} A word meaning ‘devil-may-care’ is found by taking a word meaning worker (in the insect world) and placing it inside the word meaning present reversed.

25a    Independently, Yankee tucks into scraps — little devil (2,6)
{BY ITSELF} An expression that means independently is found by taking Y (Yankee), placing it inside a word meaning bits and adding another small 7 across (is it really a 7 across?).

26a    Read about stuntman, when tied to 7 Across (4)
{DARE} A unusual sort of clue. A word which is an anagram of READ will produce one which means a stuntman if it is added to the word at 7 across.

27a    7 Across climbing drew breath (5)
{LIVED} A word that means ‘drew breath’ is a reversal of 7 across.

28a    Fergie originally involved in curtailing lots of Red Devils (1,1,1,1)
{M.U.F.C.} One of those clues that BD describes as Marmite. Some will like it and some won’t. I can’t decide which camp to put myself in. The abbreviation for a football team with the Red 7 acrosses nickname is found by taking F (Fergie, originally) and placing it inside a word that means ‘lots of’ without its final letter (curtailed). Topical and thematic yes, but…..


1d    Caddie that becomes rogue after such decline? (3,4)
{DIE AWAY} I checked the new edition of the Big Red Book (Other big red books are available) to verify that the C word can be spelt both ways, It can. This clue is one of those clever ones where If you take the word CADDIE and do something to it, you will get a word that means ‘a rogue’. So what happens to CADDIE – this!

2d    Old Etonians perhaps finding university in Milan different (6)
[ALUMNI} A word for former students is found by making an anagram (different) of MILAN and inserting U for university.

3d    Vague, dizzy, having scratched good part of the eye (4)
{UVEA} The name for the part of your eye can be found by removing G from VAGUE and rearranging what’s left.

4d           Paul’s uppermost netting catches one fish (6)
{PLAICE}  A type of fish is found by taking P (first letter of Paul – uppermost) adding the name for a type of netting and inserting I (one).

5d           Prune consumed during latest trouble? Patient might need this soon (4,4)
{SLOP PAIL}  Another Marmite clue, and this time I’m not a fan.  Does a patient use one of these?  A prisoner probably, but a patient?  Big Red Book says a prisoner or ‘bedroom waste’ so I suppose so.  A word meaning prune or cut goes inside an abbreviation for slang for recent news.  Add to this something that means ‘trouble’ and you get the device.

7d           Woman rejected beer during a date (7)
{DANIELA}  I know of two people with this name and they both have ‘double l’.  Anyway, the name for a woman is found by reversing  the name of a beer + IN (during) + A + D (date).

9d           Music maker playing PM’s place with zero backing (6)
{VIOLIN}  A musical instrument is revealed by taking an abbreviation that means playing (against in a football or other fixture) + IO (The address in Downing St where you-know-who lives) +  reversal of a word for nothing.

14d         Sick around Iowa — it relates to the hip area there (5)
{ILIAL}   A word that means pertaining to the hip area is revealed by taking onw that means sick and inserting the abbreviation for the state of IOWA.

17d         Charlie Tango flies through Irish air like a bird? (8)
{ATWITTER}  A word meaning a nerd, or right Charlie takes T (Tango) and both go inside the Irish word that means air (think ‘___Lingus’ – you at the back! – don’t be rude!!) to give you something that means talking like a bird.

18d         Exonerated old party grabbed by first-rate journalist (7)
{ALIBIED} A word meaning exonerated is created by putting the abbreviation of the party that was rebadged as the Liberal Democrats after merging with the SDP inside a two-letter way of indicating first class and adding our usual journalist

19d         Turner — captivating artist, here near Adriatic (6)
{TIRANA}    The first name of a famous person named Turner who sings  a bit goes around the abbreviation for an artist and reveals a capital city on the Adriatic.

20d         Emergency transportation one’s seen, by rail, organised daily (7)
{AIRLIFT}  A word that means an emergency evacuation from a warzone is found by rearranging the letters of RAIL, putting an I at the side of it and adding the abbreviation for a daily newspaper.

22d         Head of camp to ‘old light (6)
{CANDLE}   C (Head of CAMP) is added to how a Cockney might say a word meaning ‘hold’ to give the name for a type of light.

23d         Adopt cuckoo, bird unable to fly back (6)
{ASSUME}  A word meaning a nutcase or cuckoo takes the reversal of a flightless bird to give a word meaning adopt.

25d         Page 3 girls perhaps discussed alcoholic drink (4)
{BEVY}   A vernacular word for a drink (particularly in Liverpool) is also the name for a group of beauties (No gratuitous picture here so Giovanni will be happy).

Thanks to Osmosis for an enjoyable puzzle.

In case you haven’t noticed, apart from the Devil theme there are:-

{VI VI VI in rows one and five (The puzzle number 6 6 6)  and in the third row XI XI XI (11/11/11 the date)}

Highlight the above to reveal!!


  1. Prolixic
    Posted November 11, 2011 at 5:03 pm | Permalink

    Having been promised a devilish puzzle by Phil on Clued Up, I thought this was less devilish and more of a little scamp! Enjoyable but I was expecting somethign a bit more ferocious.

    Many thanks to Osmosis for the entertainment and to Tilsit for the review.

  2. Jezza
    Posted November 11, 2011 at 5:09 pm | Permalink

    After a week of gentle toughies I was expecting something more taxing than this turned out to be.
    Thanks to Osmosis for the puzzle, and to Tilsit for the notes.

  3. crypticsue
    Posted November 11, 2011 at 5:30 pm | Permalink

    Definitely not full blown devilry, or even full tough Osmosis, but I did enjoy it. Thanks to Osmosis and TIlsit.

  4. pegasus
    Posted November 11, 2011 at 8:32 pm | Permalink

    As others have said not very tough nevertheless I enjoyed it, favourite clues 5d and 17d thanks to Osmosis and to Tilsit

  5. jdr
    Posted November 11, 2011 at 8:58 pm | Permalink

    most of the clues in these toughies are fine but some are only fit for the slop pail. they make me want to puke.

    • Posted November 11, 2011 at 11:45 pm | Permalink

      Welcome to the blog jdr

      Which clues didn’t you like?

  6. roger morton
    Posted November 11, 2011 at 9:16 pm | Permalink

    I am in a bit of a quandry about this puzzle. I found it a pretty good standard of toughness for a Friday , and considering the numerical significances of the day it was quite a feat of skill to compile, but I do think better clues for 5+7 down would have made it more to my taste

    • Posted November 11, 2011 at 11:44 pm | Permalink

      Welcome to the blog Roger

  7. upthecreek
    Posted November 11, 2011 at 10:44 pm | Permalink

    I thought this was a curate’s egg. Some really good clues and pennydrop moments but some awful ones too. Favourite was 1d and I also liked 10 17 and 26. Least appreciated were 7d, as i can’t stand names, especially misspelt ones, 11 and 28, as I don’t like abbreviations and 18, which is concocted.

  8. Derek
    Posted November 11, 2011 at 10:56 pm | Permalink

    I didn’t finish this puzzle as was too tired – had a tough day!

    Re 14d : ilial is not in Chambers Big Red (11th edition) nor could I find it in my Webster versions. Had to google it to find that it is a variant of iliac – from Webster Medical Dictionary!!

    Ilial (Troy) is in!

  9. Posted November 11, 2011 at 11:08 pm | Permalink

    Not a satanic as i expected and one of the few Osmosis puzzles I’ve ever finished. I think some of you other guys, who think it should have been harder must be some sort of masochists!
    Very clever Nina which I missed completely!
    I enjoyed it a lot, so thanks to Osmosis – keep them like this and I’ll become a fan.
    Thanks also to Tilsit for the review and pointing out said Nina!

  10. AlisonS
    Posted November 12, 2011 at 10:12 pm | Permalink

    I realise this isn’t really the appropriate place for this and I did try posting on the ‘Life After Mastermind: Only Connect’ site, using my WordPress account, but it wouldn’t let me, and I have to tell someone!!

    I watched the last but one episode of ‘Only Connect’ last night (PVRs are wonderful things, but I do tend to get a bit behind!), which was the Analysts vs the Technologists, and the Analysts were credited incorrectly for one of the answers in round 4! One of the autobiographies was ‘Decision Points’ and William de’Ath clearly said ‘Decision Point’ – no ‘s’. I’ve watched it back several times to be sure. As Victoria is at pains to point out, every letter counts, so the Technologists should have won!

    I’ve searched the web but can find absolutely no mention of this anywhere. Did no-one else notice?

    • Franco
      Posted November 12, 2011 at 10:18 pm | Permalink

      Victoria Coren is NEVER wrong!!

      • Franco
        Posted November 12, 2011 at 10:25 pm | Permalink

        Ps. All the previous programs in the current series of “Only Connect” are available on BBC iPlayer! Try it in slow motion?

        • AlisonS
          Posted November 12, 2011 at 10:43 pm | Permalink

          I still have the episode and, as I said, I’ve watched it several times as I couldn’t believe it! In my mind, there’s no doubt – the guy enunciates the ‘t’ at the end extremely clearly. I’ve just watched it again on iPlayer – it’s at 27 min 50 secs. Have a look and tell me I’m wrong!

          • AlisonS
            Posted November 12, 2011 at 10:45 pm | Permalink

            PS: It’s episode 12.

            • Franco
              Posted November 12, 2011 at 11:12 pm | Permalink

              AlisonS, I agree with you! He definitely said “‘Decision Point’ – Not “‘Decision Point(S)”.

              But, who would read a book by George W. Bush?

  11. Posted November 12, 2011 at 10:55 pm | Permalink


    I have passed your comments on to the programme’s question editor.

    • AlisonS
      Posted November 12, 2011 at 10:59 pm | Permalink

      Thank you! I was hoping you’d know who to contact… Well played, by the way. :-)

  12. Phil McNeill
    Posted November 13, 2011 at 3:06 am | Permalink

    Incidentally, there is another Nina which I don’t think has been mentioned here.

  13. Phil McNeill
    Posted November 13, 2011 at 3:15 am | Permalink

    Sorry, you did see it, Tilsit — I just hadn’t highlighted it properly…
    Time to knock off, I think!

  14. jaehancock
    Posted November 13, 2011 at 7:24 pm | Permalink

    I was halfway to raising a hand to pat myself on the back (metaphorically, of course) when I stumbled and fell at the last across clue. I wish I had even a passing interest in football because then, it’s just possible, that this clue would not have defeated me. I’m kicking myself now, of course, because even I’ve heard of Alex Ferguson, but I was so fixated with the idea that the Red Devils referred to the parachute regiment that I didn’t even notice Ferguson’s nickname pointing the way. Oh well, there’s always next Friday…

    Thank you to Osmosis for the setting and to Tilsit for the unravelling.