Toughie 1187 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 1187

Toughie No 1187 by Osmosis


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

Osmosis has given us a proper Toughie today with a good dose of his usual complex wordplay (I haven’t done so much reversing since I took my driving test). It’s also a pangram but I didn’t discover that until I’d finished it, so it wasn’t of any practical use.

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.

Across Clues

1a Get lost, and propose hacking trees in Asian wilderness (4,6)
{GOBI DESERT} – a charade of a 2-letter injunction to get lost, a verb to propose or tender and an anagram (hacking) of TREES. Make the most of the anagram as we won’t see another in this puzzle.

6a Royal amongst paparazzi retreated (4)
{ZARA} – a minor royal is hidden backwards in the clue.

9a Evergreen prizefighter, drained, intermittently punched in back (6,4)
{SPRUCE PINE} – the outer letters (drained) of prizefighter and the even (intermittently) letters of punched all go inside a word for the back.

10a European city centre avoided by bear perhaps (4)
{BRNO} – remove the middle letter of the name given to many real and toy bears to leave a city in the Czech Republic.

12a At each entrance, lager’s enjoyed around pub vault (4)
{LEAP} – the starting letters of four words in the clue.

13a Cleaner out to lunch rejected liquid restraint (6,3)
{HOOVER DAM} – a cleaner (the vacuum sort) followed by the reversal of what the colloquial phrase ‘out to lunch’ means.

15a Film I swapped for one in French flat (8)
{PUNCTURE} – start with another word for a film and swap the I for ‘one’ in French.

16a Make prized object, getting attention (6)
{ENDEAR} – join together an object or aim and a bodily metaphor for attention.

18a Area famous for 7 reflective spiritual books written by pen (6)
{RIALTO} – this is an area in Venice famous for having 7d (1,6). The abbreviation for one chunk of the books in the Bible is followed by an animal’s pen or den, then it all gets reversed (reflective).

20a Joint beginning to languish in bath? Result of an accident perhaps (8)
{WHIPLASH} – this is an injury that’s very difficult to disprove, so it’s what’s fraudulently claimed to have been caused in a lot of motor accidents. Insert a bodily joint and the first letter of languish in a verb to bath.

23a Glutton finds bones during my loud speech (9)
{CORMORANT} – insert one of the abbreviations for someone for whom Bones is an informal nickname between an exclamation indicating surprise (My!) and a loud speech or tirade.

24a Retailer finally banned tumultuous crowd (4)
{ROUT} – the last letter of retailer followed by an adverb meaning banned or excluded. I didn’t know this meaning of the answer but the BRB gives it as a tumultuous crowd and also says that’s it’s a legal term for a gathering of three or more people for the purpose of committing an unlawful act.

26a Similar mid-range pair of speakers at home (4)
{AKIN} – the pair of letters at the centre (mid-range) of speakers followed by an adverb meaning at home.

27a Prompt college bird, approaching puddle, to go another way (4-2,4)
{POST-IT NOTE} – string together the usual educational place in Berkshire, a small songbird and another word for a puddle (thanks once more to the BRB). Now reverse it all.

28a Businessman briefly cross probing misdirection of letter (4)
{EXEC} – insert the letter that resembles a cross into the spelled-out version of a letter of the alphabet which is reversed.

29a Facing blockage that’s terminal in theatre, inquisitive surgeon turns inventor (5,5)
{JAMES DYSON} – start with a blockage or snarl-up and the final letter of theatre. Now combine an adjective meaning inquisitive or prying and a higher degree awarded to a surgeon and reverse them (turns).

Down Clues

1d Wound up Hungary flag (4)
{GASH} – the IVR code for Hungary followed by a verb to flag or slump all getting reversed.

2d Interrupt delivery of pub drink (5,2)
{BARGE IN} – this sounds like (delivery of) a pub short.

3d How this becomes his ultimate downfall? (12)
{DECAPITATION} – the process required to turn ‘this’ into ‘his’ (especially in a down clue).

4d Father obtains program foremost for housekeeping — it’s a gem (8)
{SAPPHIRE} – a father (especially in the equine world) contains the modern abbreviation for a program and the foremost letter of housekeeping.

5d Casual joiner boards storage space (6)
{RANDOM} – a small word used to join others goes inside (boards) a type of storage space in computers.

7d Concentrate using a spanner? (7)
{ABRIDGE} – A followed by something that spans.

8d Individual tours parade after salt at bargain price (1,3,6)
{A BON MARCHÉ} – this was my last answer and I needed all the checking letters because I just wasn’t looking for a French phrase (to be fair it is in the BRB). Put the pronoun used for an individual person round a parade or rally and precede all that with an abbreviation for a sailor (salt).

11d Tight from booze in Tyneside — and more on the outskirts (4-8)
{MEAN-SPIRITED} – tight here means stingy. Insert a type of booze (such as whisky or vodka) into the abbreviation for the area of England where you’d find Tyneside. So far so good – now you have to insert all that into another type of booze, this time an old one made with fermented honey.

14d With technology company changing hands, call about a rise (10)
{APPRECIATE} – start with a US technology company and change the abbreviation for one hand to that of the other. After that we need a verb to call or mention containing A.

17d After term ends, summer in Nice attracts one for such a posh occasion? (5-3)
{WHITE-TIE} – I think (but I’m not totally sure, so do let me know if you have better information) that the ‘term’ here refers to a term or quarter day in Scotland (one of four in a year, this one being on 28th May) when historically leases would end, rents would be due and ministers of the kirk would get paid. After that we want the French word for Summer with I (one) inside it.

19d High-flyer may pick up this fine on motorway, getting upset about it (3,4)
{AIR MILE} – start with the two-character abbreviation meaning fine or excellent (the second letter is actually a number rather than a letter but we don’t worry about such trivialities in Crosswordland) then add a verb to make others upset with M(otorway) inserted in it.

21d Watery build-up in teeth, with front two missing, an endless stream (7)
{AQUEOUS} – my dental hygienist tells me that this build-up is exacerbated by smoking, red wine and black coffee and since I indulge in two of the three I have to visit her fairly regularly. Remove the first two characters of this build-up and add the name of the river that flows through York without its final E (endless). Stream seems a disparaging way to describe this major river.

22d A celebration opening associated with Watford’s uplifting religious structure (6)
{PAGODA} – this is a charade of A, a celebration or party and the opening associated with Watford (well known to all motorists on the southern section of the M1 Motorway). Reverse the lot (uplifting).

25d Plant metal outside in rain (4)
{FERN} – the chemical symbol for a common metal followed by the outside letters of rain.

I did enjoy this, because I like unravelling complicated wordplay, but none of the clues really stood out for me. How about you?

18 comments on “Toughie 1187

  1. 4*/4* for me. My last two in were 10a, and 27a; the latter not helped by the online version showing the split as 7,4.
    Many thanks to Osmosis, and to Gazza for the review. I parsed 17d the same as you, Gazza.

  2. Beaten by 10a and 8d and yes it was a proper Toughie, thanks to Osmosis and to Gazza for the dissection.

  3. Very tough for a wednesday – as usual I did not like the preponderance of computer terminology,but otherwise a genuinely tough challenge if rather lacking in wit and penny- drop moments. Thanks to Gazza for the parsing of several and a begrudging bravo to Osmosis for the work-out.

  4. Certainly a Toughie worthy of the name, but I got there in the end after a slow start.

  5. I finally admit defeat. This was way beyond me.
    I did about three quarters but having looked at the hints, and in some cases the answers, I know that I would never have got the rest.
    My favourite was 13a.
    With thanks to Osmosis and thanks (and total admiration) to gazza.

  6. 27A was so clearly not 7,4 as my print out stated (there being only 10 letters in the solution) that I had to go to the on-line play version to get the correct breakdown. Then I still needed hints for four answers. The 25A hint allowed me to complete 22D, though I had no clue to the parsing. I just couldn’t see 25D, and I would never have got 10A in a month of Sundays. I did, however, get 8D quite quickly since there was a shop with that name in Gloucester that we went to when I was a child.

    Altogether too convoluted at times for me to say I enjoyed this, but I recognize the setter’s skill. Grateful thanks to Gazza for the hints and unraveling.

    1. I remember the shop in Gloucester too – not that it helped me at all today. We lived on Worcestershire/Gloucestershire/Herefordshire borders and sometimes went shopping there in the school holidays.

  7. I found it very hard work despite getting the first two across clues almost instantly courtesy of 1ac having appeared elsewhere recently.

    I failed to explain 17ac and failed to explain 18ac (the bridge) because I used an “e” rather than an “i” in the spelling. Despite being a big bear lover (the cuddly type!) I have never heard of Bruno as a bear’s name!

    All good fun – many thanks to Osmosis and Gazza

  8. We did spot the pangram in time for it to be useful with the inventor. He actually sucked up both of our missing letters with a great whooshing sound (appropriately). Had not fully parsed 11d but did get everything else although it did take us a looong time. Really admire the setters cleverness and it certainly kept us amused so rank it highly for both difficulty and fun.
    Thanks Osmosis and Gazza.

  9. Another fantastic puzzle from Osmosis, although it took me a very long time to solve, especially the SE corner. I particularly liked 1a and 14d. I’ve waited a long time for 27a to appear in a crossword; a possible clue could have been something like ‘Reminder stuck on Teletubby’s private area,’ but thankfully Osmosis demonstrated more decorum !!

  10. 9a was my downfall, just couldn’t see how it worked. If I had had the courage I could have asked the setter, sat next to me at the Wapping do today. Thank you Osmosis and Gazza as ever

  11. Lovely stuff – even though I failed to unravel 9a or spot the obvious at 3d. Favourite clues 26a and 5d – for their simple elegance amidst the complexity of the rest.

    Thanks to Gazza for enlightenment and Osmosis for the workout.

  12. A beautiful puzzle which I did not manage to complete yesterday – something I had to admit to Osmosis with whom I shared a train home last night!

  13. For 10a, BRNO, I got this from BeaR with centre avoided, and ‘perhaps’ could be the question ‘NO?’ I too haven’t heard of the name BRuNO being associated with a bear. More likely a prizefighter.

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