Toughie 771 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 771

Toughie No 771 by Osmosis

He’s a rebel!

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BD Rating – Difficulty ***Enjoyment **

Osmosis makes a legitimate return after sneakily being released in the newspaper instead of Warbler a few weeks ago. As Toughies go, this was fair to middling in difficulty, but I’m not a great fan of some of the wordplay used.

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.


6a    Flick twig with a crook (2,5,1,5)
{TO CATCH A THIEF} – this 1955 flick or movie, starring Cary Grant and Grace Kelly, is a charade of a verb meaning twig or understand (2,5), the A from the clue and a crook


8a    Character in Marathon, around runner’s perimeter area, slips (6)
{ERRATA} – put a Greek character (in Marathon) around the outside letters (perimeter) of RunneR and A(rea) to get these slips or mistakes

9a    Expect record by Yoko and John, ultimately, to go beyond £1000 (6,2)
{RECKON ON} – this phrasal verb meaning to expect is built up from REC(ord) then a two-letter word meaning by or next to and the final letters (ultimately) of YokO and JohN both preceded by an abbreviation for £1000

10a    Opener of canal line to turn on waterworks (3)
{CRY} – the initial letter (opener)of Canal followed by a train line gives a verb meaning to turn on the waterworks

11a    Allowed to purchase books (mid-range of prices) with payment deferred (2,4)
{ON TICK} – start with a two-letter word meaning allowed or correct and then insert (to purchase) some books of the bible and the middle letters (mid-range) of prICes to get a phrase meaning with payment deferred

12a    One confused by pressure cooker that’s electronic? (8)
{NEOPHOBE} – an anagram (confused) of ONE followed by P(ressure), a cooker and E(lectronic) gives someone someone who might be confused by an electronic pressure cooker

14a    Opposing sides in league game keep playing here in France (2,5)
{LE HAVRE} – start with the opposing sides of LeaguE and a game animal and put them around (keep) an abbreviation meaning playing, as in QPR playing Manchester City, to get somewhere in France

16a         Perhaps a real eccentric receives nervous response (7)
{ARTICLE} – the cunningly hidden definition by example here is “perhaps a” – put an anagram (eccentric) of REAL around (receives) a nervous response

20a         Diet of rum – in other words, heavenly (2,3,3)
{TO DIE FOR} – an anagram (rum) of DIET OF followed by a two-letter word meaning  in other words gives a phrase meaning heavenly

23a         Over-emotional teetotal drinks one unit (softly, softly) (6)
{DRIPPY} – an adjective meaning over-emotional or sentimental is derived by putting an adjective meaning teetotal around (drinks) I (one unit) and the abbreviation of the musical notation for softly repeated

24a         What starts old Meldrew grumbling ‘I don’t believe it’? (1,1,1)
{OMG} – the initial letters (starts) of three words in the clue gives textspeak for a phrase meaning “I don’t believe it”

25a         Fringe screened by tense film-maker (8)
{TRUFFAUT} – put a fringe inside an adjective meaning tense to get this French film director

26a         Release unionist husband trapped in corner (6)
{UNHOOK} – a verb meaning to release is derived from U(nionist) followed by H(usband) inside (trapped in) a corner or recess

27a         People occupied in repairing barn doors, here in rural England (7,6)
{NORFOLK BROADS} – put some people inside (occupied) an anagram (repairing) of IN BARN DOORS to get somewhere in rural England


1d           Complaint nieces regularly raised, discussing historic Greece (8)
{SCIATICA} – this medical complaint is derived from the even (regularly) letters of nIeCeS reversed (raised) followed by what sound like (discussing) a name for a triangular promontory of eastern Greece which has Athens as its capital

2d           Agent’s final line of action to enrich financial rate for sportsman (8)
{ATTACKER} – put the final letter of agenT and a line of action inside (to enrich) a financial rate, which is the notional rate of interest on loans or credit payable if the interest was paid and added each year, to get this sportsman

3d           Positive hospital X-ray developed covering new part of body (7)
{PHARYNX} – P(ositive) and H(ospital) are followed by an anagram (developed) of  X-RAY itself around (covering) N(ew) to get a part of the body lying behind the nose

4d           Wounds boosted by firm plaster (6)
{STUCCO} – reverse (boosted in a down clue) some wounds and add the abbreviation for a firm or business to get this plaster used to coat exterior walls

5d           Tripe starts to kick in, giving nasty smell on mum (6)
{KIBOSH} – this tripe or nonsense is built up from the initial letters of (starts to) Kick In, an abbreviation for a nasty smell and a word meaning mum or quiet

6d           Designer name written in concrete near building (7,6)
{TERENCE CONRAN} – this well-known designer is created by putting N(ame) inside an anagram (building) of CONCRETE NEAR

7d           Lottery pay leads to party on boat northwards (8,5)
{FOOTBALL POOLS} – this lottery in which results need to be accurately predicted comes from a verb meaning to pay a bill, a party or dance, and a boat which has been reversed (northwards in a down clue)

13d         F1 help? Good advice turned up (3)
{PIT} – where an F1 driver stops to het help – usually new tyres – is some good advice reversed (turned up in a down clue)

15d         Contend events like tennis, removing tops initially (3)
{VIE} – this word meaning to contend comes from the initial letters of three words in the clue after the original initial letters have been removed (tops off), which is a convoluted way of saying that it’s the second letters of eVents lIke tEnnis

17d         Political activists argued vehemently in street (3,5)
{RED GUARD} – this group of Political activists in Maoist China are derived from an anagram (vehemently) of ARGUED followed by an abbreviated street

18d         Bono perhaps represents royalty in republic (8)
{IRISHMAN} – Bono is one but not The Edge, who was born in England! – put a two-letter word for represents and the title of a monarch inside an Islamic Republic

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19d         Revolutionary clip by broadcasters (7)
{TROTSKY} – This revolutionary was killed with an ice axe by an undercover NKVD agent– he’s a charade of a clip or fair pace followed by broadcasters currently at the centre of a political storm, rather appropriately!

21d         Currently successful position of schoolmaster? (2-4)
{IN-FORM} – this hyphenated word meaning currently successful gives the position of a schoolmaster when the hyphen is replaced by a space

22d         Ensign attached to vessel (6)
{FLAGON} – a charade of an ensign and a word meaning attached to gives this vessel in which alcohol can be sold

Sorry it’s been late, but I had to sort out the hosting problem first.

Sounds good even though The Crystals didn’t actually sing on the record – it’s actually Darlene Love

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7 comments on “Toughie 771

  1. Not that difficult 2.5 toughness and probably 3 for enjoyment. This seems very similar in some ways – not least the 22d coincidence – old films, old books etc , that I do wonder if Osmosis set both puzzles.

    Thanks to Osmosis and BD. Off to fight the pouring rain.

  2. Most enjoyable start to Toughie week, favourites were 14a 19d 20a and 27a thanks to Osmosis and to Big Dave for the review.

  3. Thanks to Osmosis for a nice gentle start to the toughie week, and to BD for the explanations.
    14a was the only one that puzzled me.

  4. I enjoyed this a lot, many thanks to Osmosis for a good toughie and BD for the review.

  5. Pleasantly challenging, I thought. Some nice devices. I didn’t have too much problem with the wordplay, maybe some of the container indicators were a bit iffy. Is that what you are referring to Dave?

    1. It wasn’t so much trouble with the wordplay – although I needed to look at 14a again after lunch before the penny dropped – it was more the lack of elegance in some of the constructs.

  6. Cheers BD for 18d, just couldn’t see why? Loved 16a so
    very devious, thanks to Osmosis

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