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Toughie 690

Toughie No 690 by Osmosis

A Gentle Start to the Onslaught

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

Seasons Greetings from the Calder Valley. Osmosis is here today with his usual fiendish constructs, clever surface readings and off-the-wall ideas. I did find it a little easier than his normal puzzles, but it is still quite a stiff challenge.

I am off for a stay in a remote part of the Lake District for most of the next ten days so I’d like to wish you all a pleasant Christmas and the happiest of New Years. Thanks to all the setters for tormenting us during the year, to Phil McNeill and Daniella at the Telegraph for all their efforts in keeping things on the rails, to Big Dave (and Mrs BD) for looking after this wonderful site and finally to all my fellow bloggers who do a marvellous job “putting the words to lights”. I’ll see you next year!

There are some super holiday puzzles around to provide you with an alternative to some of the Christmas TV, including special puzzles by the venerable Roger Squires tomorrow and Monday. On Christmas Day the Telegraph website will have a super-stinker Elgar puzzle. The Guardian website will have the traditional Araucaria Special Challenge, while at the FT Busman (Tom Johnson aka Doc of the Spectator) is taking over Araucaria’s mantle setting role with a Jumbo puzzle. Happy solving!

Favourite clues are highlighted 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    Final of the biscuit-eating contest? (6,4)
{CRUNCH TIME} We start with a nice clue to make you smile. This is a double definition with one part cryptic. A phrase for something final or decisive is also a description of the noise generated on the occasion of eating biscuits!

6a    Guest-house in centre of Tresco is declining (4)
{EBBS} The abbreviation for the traditional seaside holiday accommodation goes inside ES (The centre of TRESCO). This gives a word meaning ‘is lowing’.

9a    Centre for criminals? It’s evident he’s converted (7,3)
{THIEVES’ DEN} An anagram of EVIDENT HE’S gives the haunt of someone like Fagin.

10a    Bubbly announcement of man slicing meat? (4)
{CAVA} What would you call someone who slices the turkey or goose? It’s a homophone for the name of a sparkling drink.

12a    What originally occupied a hundred? (4)
{TOWN} An all in one clue. The first letter of WHAT goes inside a slang word for a hundred. This gives you the name of part of what the mediaeval people called a hundred. Nice clue.

13a    Squash egg on edge of table during 1 down (9)
{COURGETTE} Inside the answer to 1 down goes a word meaning to egg on, and T (edge of Table) and this will lead you to a member of the squash family of vegetables.

15a    New pair of trousers displayed in seaside area — to be different (8)
{CONTRAST} N (for new) and the first two letters from TROUSERS go inside a word for the seaside. This leads you to a word that means to be different.

16a    Vocal instruction from pushy salesman so long? (3-3)
{BYE-BYE} A phrase meaning “So long” or “Farewell” is a homophone for the exhortation a salesman will use to get you to purchase something!

18a    Priest, bound by faith, beginning to sanctify these? (6)
{RELICS} The name of a biblical priest goes inside the abbreviation for a religion and to this is added S (beginning to sanctify).

20a    During vacation in Ghana, a locum treated illness (8)
{GLAUCOMA} An anagram (indicated by ‘treated’) of A LOCUM goes inside GA, (indicated by ‘vacation’, i.e. expelling the contents. This gives a dreadful condition that is unfortunately prevalent in that country.

23a    Torn between kind of road and river-crossing here in London (9)
{BRENTFORD} Inside the name for a type of road (not a motorway or ‘A’ road) and a type of river-crossing is placed something that means torn asunder. Altogether this gives a district of London.

24a    Pike topped and tailed, reversing vessel, a smack (4)
{KISS} Remove the ends of PIKE and reverse what’s left. Add to the abbreviation for a marine vessel and you’ll get something that should be done under the mistletoe.

26a    Religious book fathoms out the truth (4)
{ACTS} This book of the New Testament is created by dropping the F (Fathoms out) from the truth.

27a    Vehicle car tax attracts mobile police — it’s overdue, ultimately (10)
{VELOCIPEDE} This took me a bit of working out. Around an anagram (mobile) of POLICE goes the abbreviation for the posh name of Car Tax, vehicle excise duty. Add to this E (overdue’s last letter) and you have an old name for a form of transport.

28a    Cook mum bread (4)
{DOSH} Quite a few puzzles I see at the moment use ‘mum’ as in the wartime expression “Be like Dad, keep ….”. You need a word that means cook or fiddle, and add to this the expression that means “keep mum” to give a slang word similar in meaning to bread.

29a    Stone circle attracts fiery goddess discarding last undergarment (6,4)
{STRING VEST} An item of male apparel that I’m proud to say I’ve never owned can be revealed by taking an abbreviation for stone (as in weight), adding to it something that means a circle and the name of the Roman goddess of the hearth, but without her last letter.


1d Animal shelter, 5th bed along? (4)
{COTE} A clue that I solved quite early along and took a while to get, although I could see roughly why. The name for a child’s bed has the 5th letter of the alphabet after it to give a bird’s home.

2d Legendary creature touring, regularly supports two educational institutions (7)
{UNICORN} The abbreviations for University and college are followed by the alternative letters from TOURING to give a mythical creature. The reminded me of something from my childhood on a Saturday morning.

ARVE Error: need id and provider

3d Nice try with TV broadcast within modest football club (8,4)
{COVENTRY CITY} Inside a word meaning modest is an anagram (broadcast) of NICE TRY TV to give the name of a soccer club who were noted for having a particularly dreadful chocolate brown away kit.

4d Court action tense, set littered with aces (4,4)
{TEST CASE} A specimen legal suit is revealed by taking T (for Tense) and adding an anagram od SET ACES.

5d This person and European member of flock get together (4,2)
{MEET UP} This person is the setter and to his personal pronoun add E and the name for a ram in local parlance. This gives you an expression meaning to convene.

7d Virgin man, childless, just turned up here for lottery (4,3)
{BRAN TUB} The original location of lucky dips is revealed by taking the name of an entrepreneur associated with the Virgin group of companies, removing the part of his name that contains a child’s name. Add the reversal of a word meaning just or only and voila!

8d Iams awfully dry — disturbing nosh for pet? (7,3)
{SIAMESE CAT} The name of a domestic pet (my sister had a legendary psychopathic one, who once rendered a TV repair man needing stitches!) is found by making an anagram of IAMS (which for the uninitiated is a type of pet food) and then adding a word for a type of food and inserting a word that means dry, as in wine.

Time for another song:-

ARVE Error: need id and provider

11d Love’s welcomed by poor young Gill, missing love (fairy tale) (4,8)
{UGLY DUCKLING} Put an affectionate word for a love or darling inside an anagram (poor ) of Y(O)UNG GILL without the O (missing love)

14d Twenty drilled in auditorium for sports display? (10)
{SCORE BOARD} The word for a quantity equivalent to twenty is added to a homophone of one that means drilled or made a hole in something. This gives you somewhere to see sporting results.

17d George left daughter to get in garlic mayonnaise and greenery (8)
{GLADIOLI} The abbreviation for George has L (for left) added and then the name of an Italian garlic mayonnaise , often itself found is crosswords because it has four vowels in its five letters, and inside this goes D for daughter. This gives the name of something that grows and is associated with a famous Australian Dame.

19d Scenery and props authentic, uplifting Shakespearean character (7)
{LAERTES} The name for theatrical scenery and a word meaning genuine are both reversed to give the name of a character from Hamlet.

21d Indecent graduate, showing rear to constable, put in solitary (7)
{OBSCENE} An abbreviation for a graduate (not a BA or BEd!) is added to E (rear to constablE) and then put inside a word meaning solitary or single to give something that means indecent.

22d Spread of trees (scrub inside)? (6)
{FOREST} Can’t make my mind up whether this is brilliant or a bit dodgy. I’ll go with the former. An anagram made from OF and TRES (that’s TREES with the ‘inside scrubbed’, but is that fair, surely it should be TS?) to give the location neatly defined by the whole clue.

25d Some upset by extremist in Twitter thread (4)
{WEFT} Hands up those, including me who spend ages looking for a hidden answer! A word that means ‘some’ and reverse it. Add to this T (first letter, i.e. extremist, in Twitter) and you get a word meaning a thread in weaving.

Thanks to Osmosis for a clever challenge and I wish you the compliments of the season. Here are a few of my helpers:-

Emma Dreaming
Arthur White
Chris Muss
Jess Lyke-Dee
Juan Swee
Hugh Sterno
Wendy Treetops-Glissen
Anne Chilled-Wren
Liz Anne “Two Ears” Laybelle
Cindy Snow

Meyer Dayesby
Mary-Anne Bright
Anna Mayall-York-Rhyss
Mrs B. White

17 comments on “Toughie 690

  1. Enjoyable without being extremely tough, so thank you and Happy Christmas to Osmosis. 27a was the one that held me up the longest, not helped because I saw a hidden word in 25d which went with ‘some’. Thanks, Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to TIlsit too – I hope you have a really good time in the Lake District.

  2. Very enjoyable but less mind-blowing than the usual Friday fare (I don’t expect I was the only solver to write in ‘game’ for the second word of 1a and then have to backtrack).
    Thanks and Seasonal Greetings to Osmosis and Tilsit.

  3. Many thanks to Osmosis for an extremely enjoyable and not too taxing toughie. Merry Christmas to all.

  4. Many thanks to Osmosis for the crossword and keeping it from being too mind binding at a busy time of year. Thanks too to Tilsit for the review and merry Christmas to you both.

  5. Could someone help me with the virgin man childless part of 7D. I have the answer for the whole (I’m sure) but can’t fathom out the thinking. Monty Python?

    1. wbgeddes
      The virgin man happens to be bearded and wear jumpers – he is also a business man with a large group of companies.

  6. Usual high standard of pleasure from todays setter, favourites 1a 12a and 8d thanks to Osmosis and to Tilsit also Seasons Greetings to all associated with this excellent site.

  7. Not overly tough but very enjoyable, all the more so for having solved it without recourse to external means. Thanks and best regards to all associated with Telegraph Puzzles and this blog.

  8. Super stuff from Osmosis (bar the dreadful non-homophone at 10a). Not difficult, but great fun, especially 21d, which was worth the cost of the newspaper on its own.

      1. I liked this clue a lot, and I think that “scrub inside” is fine as an indicator (for what it indicates – not wishing to give the game away for those yet to try it). Probably my second-favourite clue of the puzzle, although there were several to choose from.

  9. Thanks to Osmosis & Tilsit for the hints. I found this a very enjoyable puzzle, although I needed a few hints to finish. I found it much more doable than the backpage puzzle. I had game for the second part of 1a, which didn’t help 4d, & had contrary for 15a. Favourites were 20 & 29a. Merry Christmas to all.

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