Toughie 1324

Toughie No 1324 by Osmosis

Bung it in and pray!

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BD Rating – Difficulty ***Enjoyment ***

While I enjoyed this much more than the puzzle I reviewed earlier this week, I found several of the constructs could only be resolved after “guessing” the answer from the definition.

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 Two tables that one lays hands on (8)
KEYBOARD: a table or index followed by a table or slab

6a Contractor finds one type of fungus in perimeter of buildings (6)
BICEPS: I (one) and a type of mushroom inside the outer letters (perimeter) of B[uilding]S

9a Greek character squeezes in pottery — it’s done by a whisker? (6)
MIXING: A Greek character inside (squeezes in) some Chinese pottery to get an action achieved with a whisk

10a Press upset rubbish referee (8)
MEDIATOR: a general word for the fourth estate followed by the reversal (upset) of some rubbish

11a & 12a Coldness when sitting in seat troubled butt and leg? The latter, partly (8,6)
ACHILLES TENDON: some coldness inside (sitting in) an anagram (troubled) of SEAT followed by another word for butt and the cricketing term for the leg side gives a part of the leg

12a See 11 Across

13a Renaissance man‘s money, once billions, put in fancy casino (7,5)
FRANCIS BACON: a currency recently replaced by the Euro followed by B(illions) inside an anagram (fancy) of CASINO

16a John returned to disrupt Tracy developing choice fabric (7,5)
CAVALRY TWILL: a three-letter colloquial word for the john or toilet reversed () inside (to disrupt) an anagram (developing) of TRACY followed by choice or preference

19a & 21a Soul singer‘s Southern drummer attracts main birds (6,8)
SMOKEY ROBINSON: S(outhern) and the surname of the former drummer with The Who around (attracts) a three-letter adjective meaning main and some birds of the kind often seen on Christmas cards

21a See 19 Across

23a Immature one in French contrived Grade E (5-3)
UNDER-AGE: the French for one followed by an anagram (contrived) of GRADE E

24a Left out of old memorial panel? It’s hard to understand (6)
OPAQUE: O{ld) followed by a memorial panel from which L(eft) has been dropped (out)

25a Dash to get hold of this jam producer (6)
DAMSON: a mild expletive similar to “dash!” around (to get hold of) a two-letter word meaning this, as in “like this”

26a Warhorses on the way out getting measured in this? (3,5)
OLD HANDS: an adjective meaning “on the way out” or ancient followed by a way of measuring the height of horses


2d Clearly show ‘Opening to Electric Cable’ (6)
EVINCE: the initial letter (opening) of E[lectric] followed by the first name of the current Business Secretary

3d British love tossing up single pancake (5)
BLINI: B(ritish) followed by the reversal (tossing up) of a three-letter word meaning love or zero and I (one / single)

4d What stylist might do with a new type of pasta (5,4)
ANGEL HAIR: what a stylist might do (3,4) preceded by the A from the clue and N(ew) gives a thin variety of capellini

5d Passing entrance of cafe, see such a wine? (4-3)
DEMI-SEC: passing or death followed by the initial letter (entrance) of C[afé]

6d Cleaning vessel for privates to remain back in regiment (5)
BIDET: a verb meaning to remain or wait followed by the final letter of (back in) [regimen]T

7d Stores dispatch guard (5,4)
CHAIN MAIL: some stores located in numerous locations followed by a verb meaning to dispatch or post

8d Low life supporting short amphibian carrying little weight (8)
PROTOZOA: a three-letter word meaning supporting followed by most of (short) an amphibian around a small imperial weight

13d Row on loch with fellow, finding open property (9)
FRANKNESS: a row or tier followed by a famous Scottish loch and preceded by F(ellow)

14d Storm‘s descent follows light rainfall (4,5)
SPIT BLOOD: to get this verb meaning to storm or rant a word meaning descent or lineage follows some very light rainfall

15d Shell-shock of soldier somewhere in Antipodes? (8)
TASMANIA: split as (2’1,5) this could be shell-shock of a volunteer soldier

17d Weapon training event past peak (7)
TORPEDO: some physical training or exercise and an event or party preceded by a peak or rocky height

18d Heard Scotsman and German getting merry (6)
JOCUND: what sounds like (heard) an informal word for a Scotsman followed by the German for and

20d Strongly desire gain by Labour, after constituency’s right wing ahead (5)
YEARN: a verb meaning to gain by the efforts of labour preceded by (after … ahead) the final letter (right wing) of [constituenc]Y

22d Outsiders coming in naturally like African native (5)
NYALA: the outer letters of N[aturall]Y followed by a phrase meaning like or in the manner of (1.2)

The blog’s 6th birthday party has now been arranged – hope to see many of you there. We’ve been to the Bridge House a couple of times before and it is an excellent location. From Paddington Station you can walk along the side of the canal to get there, thus avoiding crossing over the Westway.



  1. dutch
    Posted January 9, 2015 at 3:45 pm | Permalink

    Wonderful puzzle. And for once I spotted the pangram, thank you Osmosis for that extra effort. Osmosis has a knack for adding a twist to some of the definitions making for satisfying aha moments (e.g. contractor (6a), open property (13d), guard (7d)). Favourite has to be 6d (cleaning vessel), great moment for the solver when that definition is parsed correctly.

    I don’t mind guessing the answer before solving the wordplay as long as the wordplay becomes clear in hindsight and confirms the answer. For example, I guessed angel hair before fully parsing the wordplay. To be honest I think that happens to me reasonably often in most puzzles, if anything maybe a bit less so in this puzzle. Of course if the wordplay remains elusive, then that is less satisfying. Or if the wordplay is ambiguous and needs a guess (some double definitions come to mind) – well, as long as the definition/wordplay combination is not ambiguous – though substitution clues like girl, bird, plant etc tend to involve a lot of guessing.

    Other favourites include 9a (whisker), 11a/12a (by the way, I am always pleased when clues that cross two entries in the grid do so in the same row or column), 13a (renaissance man), I LOVED the brilliant 19a/21a story about the drummer attracting birds ( I used to play bass – just never happened). I enjoyed the lovely political story in the surface to 20d (strongly desire).

    Many thanks Osmosis and thank you BD as always for the review – I shall try and book my train ticket early for the 31st to get a cheap rate.

  2. Physicist
    Posted January 9, 2015 at 3:46 pm | Permalink

    I enjoyed this one. I made slow progress at first, and almost despaired because I thought that I didn’t know any Renaissance men or soul singers, but after I got a few checking letters I found a couple of candidates lurking in the back of my mind. Thanks to Osmosis and BD.

  3. halcyon
    Posted January 9, 2015 at 4:01 pm | Permalink

    Many thanks to dutch for making virtually all the points I might have made. Contractor, done by a whisker, gain by labour, open property, etc, etc help make a genuinely satisfying puzzle rather than one that feels like it’s been knocked out in a hurry [no names, no pack-drill].

    And, of course, many thanks to Osmosis and to BD.

  4. crypticsue
    Posted January 9, 2015 at 4:56 pm | Permalink

    There are three things written round the side of the solved grid in the paper – my time [a proper Toughie time], “Pangram” and “Grrr” at yet another appearance of the Business Secretary who seems to turn up more in crosswords lately than he possibly does in the House of Commons.

    Thanks to Osmosis for a testing end to the Toughie week and to BD for the explanations.

  5. elcid
    Posted January 9, 2015 at 5:42 pm | Permalink

    Really enjoyed this toughie – 9a, when I finally “got it” was a very DOH moment but my favorite of the day – 19a – because I’ve been in love with him since I was 12! Thanks to Osmosis and BD for the hints (although today I did not need them!)

    • Jane
      Posted January 9, 2015 at 9:45 pm | Permalink

      Haven’t even attempted this Toughie but had to sneak a look at the review to see who had stolen your heart away at 12 years of age. What can I say – even his name was enough to ‘melt the cockles’

  6. 2Kiwis
    Posted January 9, 2015 at 6:04 pm | Permalink

    We needed a bit of research to to find the 19a singer. We had noted the pangram. For 16a we had explored reversing both ‘can’ and ‘loo’ before finding the correct synonym for John. At least we were on the right lines. An enjoyable puzzle to work through.
    Thanks Osmosis and BD.

  7. Tony
    Posted January 9, 2015 at 6:22 pm | Permalink

    Sadly, this was way too hard for me. I got a handful of clues in the bottom half. I hadn’t heard of the answers for 16a, 19a and 21a which didn’t help, nor of the reference in 2d.

  8. Robin Hill
    Posted January 9, 2015 at 6:25 pm | Permalink

    Another great Toughie from Osmosis as usual. My particular favourites were 16a, 19a, 5d and 6d. Very amusing, and more challenging than the standard mix of anagrams etc.

  9. jean-luc cheval
    Posted January 9, 2015 at 7:20 pm | Permalink

    First time I actually wrote down all the letters of the alphabet as the pangram was becoming clearer. And good thing too as it helped when I get down to the last clues. F, W and Z were the offending remainders and for 8d I wasn’t really going to put Protocol was I?
    13a and d followed and beautiful finish with 16a although I first was looking for some Wanacry toile. That made me realise my small mistake on 7d. I had Chain Case (the likes you find on bikes) originally.
    19a wasn’t on Miffypop’s list of unknown singers but I did a Google as I guessed the surname and with y as a checking letter the first name came nicely.
    24a I thought it was Plaque without the L but replaced by H of hard and came up with phaque. Please don’t Google it. It’s not for the faint hearted.
    Agree with Crypticsue about that Cable character. A bit too familiar with all the setters it seems. I’d rather have an Alastair describing a Darling.
    Thanks to Osmosis who’s becoming my favourite setter and to BD for the review.

  10. Wolfson Bear
    Posted January 9, 2015 at 7:32 pm | Permalink

    I managed to finish – always a nice feeling on a Friday – but this one features too many words / names that I did not know for me to have enjoyed it particularly. Fortunately most unknowns could be guessed.

  11. Expat Chris
    Posted January 9, 2015 at 11:16 pm | Permalink

    I just could not get into this, which is my excuse for saying I couldn’t do it! I could cop out by blaming it on a 12-hour work day after 5 hours of sleep, but the truth is I was just flat out beaten by someone who’s mind is much more agile than mine will ever be. I got most of the top half, but much of the bottom half remained a mystery. Ah, well, some days are diamonds, but this was a stones day for me. Of those I did solve, I loved 6D and 4D and 11A. Salutations to Osmosis and many thanks to BD for the much needed review.

  12. Colin
    Posted January 10, 2015 at 2:31 pm | Permalink

    As with most Toughies I struggled with this but got there in the end with, as usual, frequent reference to a dictionary of synonyms. However I got an answer to 22d that differs from Big Dave’s. I parsed the clue in the same way but interpreted “like” as “as a” rather than “a la”, which gave me the answer Nyasa, a people from southeastern Africa (, rather than the Nyala antelope. Others may disagree but I think therefore that this clue is ambiguous/unfair as it has two viable answers and the variable penultimate letter cannot be verified from an across clue.

    • gazza
      Posted January 10, 2015 at 3:14 pm | Permalink

      Welcome to the blog, Colin.

    • jean-luc cheval
      Posted January 10, 2015 at 4:07 pm | Permalink

      I also wrote Nyasa. Didn’t even check. I’m with you on that one.

  13. Sh-Shoney
    Posted January 12, 2015 at 4:08 pm | Permalink

    Monday afternoon. This was a 2 day chew. Began with 6a and couldn’t believe the answer that I worked out for 6d! Only managed 4 or 5 more that evening so had to spend most of today finishing it of. Didn’t help putting TUNING for 9a (cat’s whisker in very old radio sets. I had one once!). Loads of great clues here so thanks to Osmosis and to BD for confirming some of my guessed answers. Oh, yes – unable to find DEMI-SEC (5d) in the BRB, so I wrote it in, which is a first. Sh-Shoney.