Toughie 680

Toughie No 680 by Osmosis

Silvers – Better than Gold

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

BD Rating – Difficulty **Enjoyment ****

I really enjoyed this puzzle, although I thought it was fairly mild in terms of difficulty. Osmosis quite often hides Ninas in his puzzles but I can’t find any today – let us know if you can!

Across Clues

1a  Cairn’s barking about noisy weather feature (4,6)
{RAIN CLOUDS} – an anagram (barking) of CAIRN’S goes round a synonym of noisy to make this common (well, common in the UK) weather feature.

6a  Plaster applied originally in friend’s retreat (4)
{DAUB} – put the first letter (originally) of A(pplied) inside a reversal (retreat) of an informal American friend.

9a  Golf hole, where there’s talk, fine for learner (3,4)
{PAR FOUR} – start with a room in the house where you’re meant to sit and talk and replace the L(earner) with F(ine) to make a description of a golf hole.

10a  Word class, meeting in French Academy, leaves here (7)
{VERBENA} – this is an herbaceous plant with showy flowers (and leaves). Start with a part of speech (word class) and add a French word for ‘in’ and A(cademy).

12a  At home, loose debris is found in messy trail. Hoover needed? (13)
{INDUSTRIALIST} – William Henry “Boss” Hoover, who first manufactured and sold domestic vacuum cleaners, is the definition by example here. String together the word for ‘at home’, loose debris and an anagram (messy) of TRAIL with IS found inside.

14a  Available for purchase in unit: Rushdie 50% off (2,4)
{ON SALE} – put half of Rushdie’s forename inside a unit.

15a  Grizzly members prepare for fight? (4,4)
{BEAR ARMS} – a phrase meaning to be equipped for military action is a charade of what a grizzly is an example of and bodily members.

17a  Type of bed worn out in the hands of footballers, with practice (8)
{FOLDAWAY} – this type of bed, useful if you have restricted living space, is formed by putting a word meaning worn out or decrepit inside (in the hands of) the abbreviation for the governing body of football in England, then adding a synonym of practice or habit. An amusing surface with an illusion to the activities of certain footballers which get them lurid headlines in the Sunday papers.

19a  Like hippy disc tracks in tone (6)
{INDIGO} – this tone or shade comes from appending an informal verb meaning to like (as traditionally used by hippies) and O (disc-shaped letter) to (tracks) IN.

22a  Democrat dealt with Hawaii — snubbed nuclear device (6,7)
{ATOMIC WARHEAD} – we want a nuclear device here and it’s an anagram (dealt) of DEMOCRAT and HAWAI(i) (snubbed, i.e. truncated).

24a  Slug blight, latterly severe around centre of Burgundy, is repelled (7)
{DRAUGHT} – the definition is slug, i.e. a serving of liquor. The last letter (latterly) of (bligh)T is followed by a synonym of severe or tough with the middle two letters of Burgundy inside. Finally reverse the lot (is repelled).

25a  Silvers, last seen in Bilko around the 1950s (latterly), brings years back (4,3)
{AGES AGO} – this brings back great memories of the wonderful Phil Silvers as Bilko. The definition is years back and we need a couple of chemical symbols for silver and the last letter of (Bilk)O around the last two (latterly) letters of (nineteen-fifti)ES.

26a  A desperate chap, comically overcoming zip (4)
{NADA} – A is followed by the desperate chap from the Dandy comic, then it’s all reversed (overcoming) to make an informal word, from Spanish, for zip or nothing.

27a  Frame Alistair, vacuously taking tab at party (10)
{ARCHITRAVE} – this is the moulding frame round a doorway or window (a new word for me). Start with the outer letters (vacuously) of A(listai)R and add a bill which is signed to be paid later (tab) and a mass gathering of young people with loud music (party).

Down Clues

1d  Suitable letters attached to name after passing English (4)
{RIPE} – the letters which may follow the name of a passed-on person on a gravestone are followed by E(nglish).

2d  Rugby flanker for Llanelli in pub’s smashed (2,5)
{IN RUINS} – smashed looks like it should be an anagram indicator but it’s actually the definition. The abbreviation for the 15-a-side game of rugby and the last letter (flanker) of (LLanell)I go inside a synonym of pub and the ‘S.

3d  Popular jam appeals in middle of night (5-8)
{CROWD-PLEASING} – the definition is popular. It’s a charade of a jam or throng, appeals, IN and the middle letter of (ni)G(ht).

4d  Career honours sadly don’t include Oscar (6)
{ONRUSH} – the definition is career, i.e. a swift and not totally controlled movement. Take out one of the letters for which the codeword Oscar is used in radio transmissions from H(o)NOURS and make an anagram (sadly) of what’s left. Since there are two such letters in honours I feel that a qualification (perhaps “a single Oscar”) would be better.

5d  Old partner deserted Welshman — character residing by the Dee? (8)
{DIVORCEE} – this is an old partner. who has been deserted (or possibly she was the one doing the deserting?). Put a common Welsh male forename (not Dai this time) and the way of spelling one of the characters of the alphabet all after the letter pronounced as dee (ignoring the false capitalisation). String together D(eserted), a common Welsh male forename and the spelled-out name of the letter residing by (i.e. immediately before) the dee in the alphabet (Thanks to Jezza for supplying the correct wordplay).

7d  Rising artist obtains elite building, which includes this? (7)
{ATELIER} – reverse (rising) the abbreviation for a successful artist and insert (obtains) an anagram (building) of ELITE to make a word for a studio which the artist may well use in his new building. Having complained yesterday about an active verb form as an anagram indicator following the fodder I have to be consistent – elite isn’t building anything; it’s being built.

8d  Mole’s idyllic location? (6,4)
{BEAUTY SPOT} – double definition.

11d  After which Di and Teri become tidier? (13)
{REARRANGEMENT} – this is a slightly odd anagram where the fodder is DI and TERI and the indicator is the definition.

13d  Joey returned cross-dressing attire in bog — where bloomers seen? (4,6)
{ROOF GARDEN} – you might see flowers blooming here (if you are flying overhead, for example). Start with an abbreviated word for what a joey is in Australia, then insert what cross-dressers wear reversed (returned) inside a synonym for a bog or marshy area.

16d  Touch restaurant attendant, wanting one glass of this? (3,5)
{TAP WATER} – a verb meaning to touch (lightly on the shoulder, perhaps) is followed by a restaurant attendant without the I (wanting one) to get what he or she might bring you in a glass.

18d  Cat, close to the surging river, comes in dripping (7)
{LEOPARD} – this big cat is formed by putting the closing letter of (th)E and an Italian river reversed (surging, in a down clue) inside another word for dripping or animal fat.

20d  State assistance raised in local area (7)
{INDIANA} – a US state comes from reversing (raised) a synonym for assistance inside a local or pub and A(rea).

21d  Garland’s heading for wizard with renewed heart (6)
{WREATH} – the surface makes you think of Judy but the garland that we want is an arrangement of flowers. The first letter (heading) of W(izard) is followed by an anagram (renewed) of HEART.

23d  Some large vodkas knocked back — it may help do the trick (4)
{DOVE} – hidden (some) and reversed (knocked back) in the clue is one of the props that a magician may use in his/her act.

My favourite clues were 25a, 26a, 13d and 21d. How about you?


  1. crypticsue
    Posted December 7, 2011 at 1:06 pm | Permalink

    I will agree with the enjoyment rating but for me this was at least 3.5* difficulty. I had to put it down for ‘cogitation’ before all the pennies finally fell. A considerable number of d’oh moments, including the splendid 1d. My favourites are the same as Gazza’s but am not sure that 25a is right about the 1950s – it seems only a short time ago to me :D

  2. BigBoab
    Posted December 7, 2011 at 1:21 pm | Permalink

    Good crossword, good review, good fun, lovely. Thanks Osmosis and thanks Gazza.

  3. pegasus
    Posted December 7, 2011 at 2:24 pm | Permalink

    Splendid rendition from todays setter I agree with CS on the difficulty level. Favourites for me 8d 11d 13d and 26a thanks to Osmosis and to Gazza for the review.

  4. Jezza
    Posted December 7, 2011 at 3:19 pm | Permalink

    This was at least 3.5* difficulty for me. A most enjoyable crossword – thanks to Osmosis, and to Gazza.

    Re 5d, could ‘Old partner’ be the definition? I thought it might be D(eserted) followed by the Welshman, and then the CEE (character residing by the Dee).

    • gazza
      Posted December 7, 2011 at 3:30 pm | Permalink

      It never occurred to me that D was an abbreviation for deserted, but Chambers gives it (though I don’t know in what context it’s used – army records perhaps?) so I think your explanation is much better than mine. Thanks.

  5. Posted December 7, 2011 at 3:45 pm | Permalink

    Although it did’t take much longer than yesterday’s puzzle, thiis one was thoroughly enjoyable. Why is Gazza getting all the best puzzles to review?

  6. andy
    Posted December 7, 2011 at 3:52 pm | Permalink

    I made an absolute dogs breakfast of this by putting anagrammatise for 11d, which scuppered pretty much NSE &W for some considerable time before i scrubbed it and started again!! Whilst in agreement more 3.5* rather than 2* quite enjoyed this today. For some reason with this setter I miss the bleedin obvious (when pointed out) more than I should, and I can’t fathom out why. Faves 17a and 25a. Many thanks to Gazza and Osmosis

  7. Posted December 7, 2011 at 4:52 pm | Permalink

    I have kept going at this one all day until I have finally resorted to the blog for the last few answers. Very enjoyable. What I particularly liked was that when the penny finally dropped on each one I knew it was right – all very clever clues. Dont often have the time or confidence to have a go at the inside job, but had plenty of time to waste today; so it was a great diversion from writing Christmas cards!

  8. Posted December 7, 2011 at 5:15 pm | Permalink

    Enjoyable puzzle but 4* for me! Couldn’t see where 5d came from but guessed the answer from the checkers.
    Thanks to Osmosis for a puzzle that, for once, I could finish and thanks to Jezza and Gazza for explaining said 5d!

  9. Posted December 7, 2011 at 7:08 pm | Permalink

    Agreed with a ll the above – a very slow start but I accelerated to the finish when some checking letters came in. A fun puzzle and an archetypal Toughie puzzle. Some previous Osmosis puzzles have left me with brain ache and writing everything backwards but the recent ones have been much more balanced in the reversal reagrd and as a consequence (for me at least) much more enjoyable. Thanks to the O and to gazza.

  10. Posted December 7, 2011 at 10:09 pm | Permalink

    BTW Gazza, the cat in 18d seems to need a bit of therapy as it’s obviously stressed out!

  11. Heno
    Posted December 7, 2011 at 10:35 pm | Permalink

    Thanks to Osmosis & whoever did the review and hints. I don’t know how it was 2* for difficulty? I needed 19 hints, 2 of which I had to look up. Didn’t have any favourites as I was completely bamboozled :-)

  12. upthecreek
    Posted December 7, 2011 at 10:47 pm | Permalink

    After 2 pretty lousy toughies I really enjoyed this one. Lots of good clues with 1d, 5, 11 and 25 standing out. This was a real toughie with a good balance of clues. I didn’t like 26 though – what is that all about?

    • Posted December 7, 2011 at 10:56 pm | Permalink

      If gazza would permit, it is A + DAN (desperate character who is in a comic i.e comically) all reversed (overcoming) for NADA which means nil, nothing, rien de tout, diddley squat or ZIP.

      • upthecreek
        Posted December 8, 2011 at 10:13 am | Permalink

        Obviously newspeak.

  13. Qix
    Posted December 7, 2011 at 11:17 pm | Permalink

    Nice puzzle. 25a was a little cheeky, expecting the numbers to be translated into letters, though.

    Good fun.

  14. jdr
    Posted December 8, 2011 at 9:53 am | Permalink

    Could someone explain 11d again for me.

    • gazza
      Posted December 8, 2011 at 9:59 am | Permalink

      To make the letters of DI and TERI into TIDIER you need an anagram or a REARRANGEMENT.

      • Posted December 8, 2011 at 10:02 am | Permalink

        Beat me to it! and more succinctly may I say.

    • Posted December 8, 2011 at 10:00 am | Permalink

      it’s not an anagram – if you rearrange the letters Di Teri….. you get tidier. So the answer is what the clue gets you to do – very clever eh?