Toughie 818 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 818

Toughie No 818 by Osmosis

Shifting into Reverse

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

Greetings from the Calder Valley and a big thanks to Crypticsue for stepping in and helping me and covering for me over the past couple of weeks. Today’s Friday Fiend is Osmosis and he returns with a suitably difficult puzzle that caused a fair bit of head scratching. The puzzle is full of the usual Osmosis hallmarks, including a reference to his beloved Manchester United.

I have to say that although I did enjoy the puzzle, one or two of the definitions were a bit too remote for my liking and I suspect that some of our regulars may feel the same. Part of the indication for 10 across and 8 down caused me a little concern, but overall the puzzle is up to Osmosis’ usual standard. Lots of reversals in today’s puzzle, and I think osmosis must have exhausted the indicators.

Thanks to Osmosis for providing a puzzle worthy of the Friday slot. 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 highlighted in blue.


1a    What nude model has, compared to topless one? Class (6)
{LESSON} We start with a double definition clue, one of which is cryptic. The name for a form or period in school is a description of the clothing worn by a nude model, compared to one that is just topless (4,2). And no, there won’t be a smutty picture here.

4a    In my view, idiot’s not given justice, when stalking a relative (2,1,3,2)
{AS I SEE IT} – a phrase that means in my view is derived from an Irish idiot without (not given) the J (Justice) following (when stalking) the A from the clue and a shortened form of a relative

9a    Adverse tone Sir Alex partly developed (6)
{ARISEN} I suspect Osmosis is a Manchester United fan, as many of his puzzles contain a reference to the team. Here we have a clue about their Manager, Imperial Lord Ferg. Hidden (indicated by ‘partly’) and reversed (indicated by ‘adverse’) in ‘tone Sir Alex’ is a word meaning developed.

10a    Classical building leaves one cold — amateur! (8)
{BASILICA} The name for a building in Ancient Rome is found by taking the name of a plant (I think this is a bit too remote) and add I C A (one cold amateur). I suspect most will have worked this out from either the definition or the last three letters.

11a    One doesn’t forget medical department obtaining help moving American (8)
{ELEPHANT} The name of a creature known for its memory is found by taking an abbreviation for a department where you’ll find an otologist and inserting an anagram (moving) of HELP and adding A (for American).

13a    Staff check follows constant routine (6)
{CRUTCH} A piece of equipment that I am only too familiar with. A walking aid can be found by taking C (constant), adding a word that means a (particularly boring or humdrum) routine and adding CH (check)

15a    Part of shell found by the roofer working with lamp (6-2-5)
{MOTHER-OF-PEARL} In quick crosswords you often see this answer as a definition, with the required answer ‘nacre’. The inner layer of a seashell is revealed by making an anagram (working) of THE ROOFER and LAMP. It’s a staple diet of Bargain Hunt and such programmes where it is worked into small items of jewellery and visiting card cases, etc.

18a    Prison urinals derelict, bringing about bitter hostility (10,3)
{PENINSULAR WAR} A military conflict (hostility) that took place between 1808 and 1814 is found by taking an American slang word for a prison, adding an anagram (derelict) of URINALS and adding a word meaning bitter (as in a cold day) reversed.

22a    Bury Market latterly governed by single retired doctor (6)
{ENTOMB} If you ever visit Bury in Greater Manchester, a trip to the market is a must, especially to purchase some of the famous local delicacy, Bury Black Pudding, delicious with some apple sauce. Here the answer is nothing to do with the aforementioned location. T (the last letter of market) goes inside the reverse of a number referred to as single, and adding an abbreviation for a doctor. This gives a word meaning to bury.

24a    What cheek to criticise kitchen help? (8)
{SAUCEPAN} A word sum. A word meaning cheek or impertinence is added to one meaning to criticise to reveal an item of kitchen equipment.

26a    Government official’s recording company clown misdirecting trains (8)
{EMISSARY} The name of a diplomatic official is revealed by taking the abbreviation of Cliff Richard’s later record company (from the mid-70’s), adding the reverse (misdirecting) of a word meaning a clown or fool. Add to this the abbreviation for a railway and you have the answer. [Columbia, Sir Cliff’s record label in the fifties and sixties, was a division of this organisation! BD]

27a    Dicky in punt gets allocated berth (6)
{BILLET} Those of you who will remember the Friday Telegraph setter before Giovanni, a lady called Ruth Crisp (Crispa in the Guardian) will recall that Dicky was a frequent visitor to her puzzles as an anagram indicator. I spent ages trying to make an anagram of IN PUNT to find the answer and then realised that it wasn’t one here. A word that means dicky or unwell goes inside the sort of punt associated with gambling and leads you a word meaning a berth, especially in the military.

And now commercial time….

Remembering the late Ruth Crisp reminds me that there is an excellent book out there by the former Telegraph Crossword Editor Val Gilbert called A Display of Lights. The book recounts the lives of six former Telegraph setters including Ruth and our Monday Maestro, Roger Squires. It’s a fascinating book and you can win an autographed copy [I hasten to add here that the author is a neighbour and I have yet to ask her to oblige with her autograph. BD] as a bonus prize in this month’s Prize competition which will be available in the morning. I can promise you a fine puzzle by Prolixic; do try and have a go!

28a    Yankee’s half-exposed fraud here in the Chilterns (8)
{AMERSHAM} A town in Buckinghamshire is revealed by taking half of the word that means Yankee and adding a word meaning a fraud or fake.

29a    Sally’s outside in rich habitat, cutting back plant (6)
{HYSSOP} The outside letters of SALLY go inside a word meaning rich (or Mrs Beckham) and the whole thing reversed to give the name of a plant, often used in herbal medicine.


1d    Slacker’s shoe (6)
{LOAFER} A double definition. A type of casual shoe is also the name of someone who is lazy.

2d    Mad sniper injured fictional hero (6-3)
{SPIDERMAN} The name of a famous crime fighter (real name Peter Parker) is found by rearranging the letters of MAD SNIPER.

3d    Wayward golfers might do this greeting in Open (7)
{OVERHIT} A poor shot in golf is revealed by taking a word meaning open, non-secret, and inserting a short greeting.

5d    Second research centre for chocolate bar? (4)
{SLAB} Another word sum. S (second) is added to a short word meaning where scientists word to give something that means a block of something, like chocolate.

6d    Prison officer finally lifted loop (7)
{STIRRUP} For me, another weak definition. Another slang word for prison is added to R (officer, finally) and a short word meaning lifted. This gives something that is loop shaped.


7d    In centre of Cape Town, police brought back order (5)
{EDICT} Take the middle letters of CAPE TOWN (hmmm) and inside place the reverse of the name of a Police Dept. This will lead you to a word for an order or decree.

8d    Fabricated residence, to vagrant, had everything (4,4)
{TOAD HALL} Some will find this definition clever, others feel less so about it. The name of a famous fictional home is found by taking TO, adding an anagram of HAD and fixing a word that means everything on the end.

12d    Mark’s regularly enraged by four-by-four vehicle reversing (6)
{NAEVUS} The medical name for a birthmark is found by taking alternate letters (regularly) of ENRAGED and adding the reversal of a petrolheads’ abbreviation for a four-by-four vehicle.

14d    Musical piece, with beat elevated in much of ‘Neighbours’, say (6)
{SONATA} Inside most of a word that describes Neighbours, Emmerdale et al. (Not CRA….) goes the reverse of something that means beat (as in leather). This gives you the name of a piano piece of which Beethoven’s Moonlight is a fine example.

16d    Citadel 25 mounted, applying gloss briefly (9)
{ACROPOLIS} Take the answer to 25 down and reverse it (mounted). On the end of this, place most of a word meaning to apply a gloss or buff. This leads you to a famous citadel in Greece.

17d    Mirror raised, holding edge with uncertainty that is short-lived (8)
{EPHEMERA} Something that means items that are short-lived. A word meaning to copy or mirror something is reversed and inside place something that is the edge (of clothing) and what you say when not sure about a thing.

19d    Goddess is seen amongst Home Counties chaps — on the rebound? (7)
{NEMESIS} the IS from the clue goes inside the abbreviation for the location of the Home Counties in Britain, adding a word for chaps or guys. Reverse the lot for the name of the Greek goddess of retribution.

20d    Shrewd hosts, acting vacuously, cook in an eccentric style (7)
{WACKILY} Another container clue. Inside a word that means shrewd, fox-like, goes A (acting) and CK (cook, vacuously, i.e. the ends of the word) to get a word meaning in an eccentric style

21d    Playing partners canoodle, turning up under the first arch (6)
{INSTEP} Playing partners invariably refers to the game of bridge and it means one of the two pairs that play. A verb that means to canoodle is reversed and goes under the partners. Above these goes I (first) and altogether it should lead you to the arch of the foot.

23d    Flash partner of A. Lloyd Webber (5)
{TRICE} Take the name of Andrew’s frequent partner in the same style as his name in the clue to get a word for an instant or flash.

25d    Ocean dweller, wanting either NY (Atlantic) ____ (Pacific)? (4)
{ORCA} The alternative name for the killer whale is found by completing the sentence in the same style as the rest of it. (A bit like that last clue). So it would be a short one that means an alternative, and the abbreviation for the state on the Eastern Seaboard.

Thanks to Osmosis for an enjoyable challenge. Back to Olympic telly-watching!

14 comments on “Toughie 818

  1. Nicely tough although I did have to have the help of Prolixic as I was terminally d’ohzy about the reversal in 9a. 15a is a staple of many a GK crossword.

    Thanks to Osmosis for a nice Friday brain stretching and extra thanks to Tilsit for the blog.

  2. Many thanks to Osmosis for a thoroughly enjoyable and not too tough crossword and to Tilset for the very entertaining review.

  3. Good all round puzzle today, favourites were 8d 18a 22a and 29a thanks to Osmosis and to Tilsit for the comments.

  4. Excellent and amusing toughie apart from 8d which I didn’t get in spite of all checking letters.
    Thanks to Osmosis and Tilsit.

  5. Enjoyed solving this one in the cooler sunshine. today – a spot of wind and some cloud cover.

    Tilsit : Your picture of black pudding made my mouth water – I haven’t eaten it and tripe for years!
    My late wife was a Lancashire lass and we used to get plenty of both when in the north of England.

  6. Enjoyed this one – apart from the plant! Never heard of it but constructed half the answer and the a bit of BRB browsing came to the rescue :grin:

    Glad to see Tilsit back in the saddle.

    Many thanks to him, and of course to Osmosis for a great bit of breakfast fun!

    1. Welcome to the blog Graham

      The answers are hidden between the curly brackets – just select that area with your mouse.

      If you are using one of those new-fangled devices with non-compliant browsers the answers are ARISEN and HYSSOP respectively.

      1. Many thanks for your reply Dave – my step son and I attempted the Toughie for the first time yesterday and found it most enjoyable.



  7. I was stumped on four for most of the day, still stupmed on two, the answers WILL come to me, annoyingly I know i am going to hurt my forehead as it hits the floor, well done Osmosis and thanks to Mr Tilsit. I’ve parsed 8d wrong, thought a vagrant could be a toad, (h)ad + all, groans, hangs head in shame

    1. Hi Andy – you get the plant? Not me! without the BRB! Well worth a Toughie IMHO, but others willhave come across it before I suppose.

      1. i did pommers , eventually, i went stupidly awry with 21d which scuppered the south east for an age, strangely 10a was my first in. The last two 4a, for parsing reasons, and 13a for which I hang my head in shame

  8. Lovely stuff from the master of wordplay. Last two in were 9ac and 10ac and the more you look at them the better they get: leaves indeed! Agree with Tilsit that the definition in 8d may be pushing it a bit. Thanks to him and the Maestro.

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