Toughie 1488

 Toughie No 1488 by Osmosis

Hints and tips by Dutch

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

This is the 101st toughie from Osmosis; the last one I blogged was his wonderful centenary crossword. He continues to delight with a quality puzzle that bears his trademark tight clueing and surprise answers – plenty of penny-drop moments, which is what it is all about. It took me a while to get all four long answers, which then helped things move along a little quicker – a **** for difficulty and **** for enjoyment from me (looks like I’m swearing!).

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           New attendant I avoided by returning first-class somewhere in Surrey (8,5)
VIRGINIA WATER Take a 6-letter word for new or undefiled, add a word for an attendant of the restaurant variety without the letter I (I avoided): just before this (by), add a reversal (returning) of a 2-letter abbreviation for first class. All that for a commuter town in Surrey named after a nearby lake, with a claim to fame of being home to the Wentworth club where the first Ryder Cup was played. Google has done little to convince me this should be my next holiday destination.

8a           Rings numbers in manual regularly — India? (6)
ANNULI Twice the abbreviation for N(umber), since we have numberS, is placed inside (in) the even letters of manual (regularly) –followed by the letter for which India is the international radio code word

9a           Storage space restricts hospital, needing extra in passing (2,3,3)
BY THE BYE A storage unit in computers, normally consisting of 8 bits, contains (restricts) the abbreviation for H(ospital) and is followed by an alternative cricket term for extra

10a         Creature backtracking in jungle (3)
GNU This creature is lurking backwards (backtracking) in jungle


11a         Tree over edge of pavement leading to parent’s complaint (6)
ASTHMA   A 3-letter tree covers (over) the last letter (edge) of pavement, followed by a 2-letter parent

12a         What a surprise to be entertained by artist resident on island (8)
TAHITIAN A two-letter exclamation of surprise is surrounded (entertained) by a favourite crosswordland artist. Things are looking up in the holiday destination department


14a         One invents material in America stifling scientist that’s gutted (7)
FIBSTER We’re looking for the American spelling of a filamentous or thread-like material, which contains (stifling) the outer letters of scientist (that’s gutted = insides removed)

16a         Sort of stick around withdrawing until there’s merriment (7)
JOLLITY The sort of stick a pilot might use surrounds the reversal of (around withdrawing) another word for until

20a         Political policy, something usually transparent, gathering no end of support (8)
GLASNOST A solid material you can usually see through surrounding (gathering) the word no (from the clue) is followed by the last letter (end) of support

23a         With pressure, obtain earlier, final slice off cake (6)
EXTORT A two letter prefix meaning earlier or former and a 5-letter word for cake with the last letter removed (final slice off)

24a         Control game with knight (3)
RUN Abbreviation for a game that’s been on tv a lot recently followed by the chess abbreviation for knight

25a         In stand, fit dry bread (8)
BAGUETTE  Inside (in) a 2-letter verb for stand or exist, we have a 4-letter word for fit and a 2-letter abbreviation for dry as in always sober


26a         Decorate bathroom again? Cream right for makeover (6)
RETILE Once you’ve realised you can’t make an anagram out of CREAM R, you’ll see that “for makeover” is a reversal indicator and we need another word for cream together with R for R(ight), all reversed.

27a         Annual feast youths served excitedly across area (6,7)
SHROVE TUESDAY anagram (excitedly) of YOUTHS SERVED surrounding (across) the abbreviation for A(rea)


1d           They might produce whistling in game (8)
DRAUGHTS This board game could also mean unwanted air currents that might whistle


2d           One on criminal surveillance back in scrap showing temper (8)
MITIGATE Temper here is a verb. The letter that looks one is on top of (on, in a down clue) the reversal (back) of a 3-letter electronic criminal surveillance device, all inside (in) a word meaning scrap or very small amount

3d           Short cycle around tree trunks — overheard Northern-style agricultural community (7)
KIBBUTZ A reversal (around) of an informal 4-letter word for a 2-wheeled vehicle without the last letter (short),  followed by a homophone (overheard Northern-style, with the vowel in a Northern accent) of a 5-letter word meaning tree trunks or stumps

4d           Book full of illustrations a hit with children (6)
SWATCH This book might help you choose a material or colour – a 4-letter word for hit, often used with mosquitoes, and the abbreviation for ch(ildren)


5d           Operating rooms dropping the temperature still (2,4)
AT REST A word for operating rooms without (dropping) the “the”, followed by the abbreviation for t(emperature)

6d           Star witness primarily is implicating stuttering Irishman, a court regular (5,8)
VENUS WILLIAMS The planet often referred to as “the evening star”, the first letter (primarily) of witness, followed by “is” from the clue surrounding (implicating) an Irish first name in which the first letter is repeated (stuttering)

Venus Williams

7d           Former MP, otherwise ‘The Tory Slayer’? (3,10)
ROY HATTERSLEY   Very nice anagram (otherwise) of THE TORY SLAYER


13d         The writer intends to hurt (3)
ILL   How you might say “the writer intends to” from the writer’s perspective (in the first person, contracted)

15d         Appreciated new belt (3)
TAN   A two-letter word for appreciated or thanks, and the abbreviation for n(ew)

17d         Work with Parisian in dance music recording like this once? (4-4)
OPEN REEL   Latin abbreviation for work, with the 2-letter French word for in, followed by a 4-letter lively dance or a tune for it

Open Reel

18d         Position in commentary following length and line (8)
LATITUDE   Homophone (in commentary) of a word for position or stance follows the abbreviation for l(ength) to give a line of constant angular distance from the equator

19d         Fancy casserole? It’s right in the middle, tough on the outside (7)
STREWTH   A 4-letter word for any casserole contains (in the middle) the abbreviation for r(ight), and is followed by the outer letters (on the outside) of tough


21d         Feel embarrassed, lacking money and energy to attend lady (6)
SQUIRE  A 6-letter word meaning to writhe in embarrassment, without the abbreviation for m(oney), plus the abbreviation for e(nergy)

22d         Eighth time delving into old pothole (6)
OCTAVE  This musical eighth comes from placing the abbreviation for time into the abbreviation for old plus a 4-letter word for pothole

I quite liked the 4 short clues, but my favourite has to be 6d. What about you?



  1. crypticsue
    Posted October 23, 2015 at 2:02 pm | Permalink

    Lovely pangram – as Kath definitely isn’t reading anything I write at the moment, I’d like to nominate 6d and 19d for joint honours.

    Thanks to Osmosis and Dutch.

    • Jane
      Posted October 23, 2015 at 2:44 pm | Permalink

      Hi CS,
      Have you got the final total for yesterday’s efforts? £300 sounded absolutely brilliant to me!

      • crypticsue
        Posted October 23, 2015 at 2:50 pm | Permalink


        • Jane
          Posted October 23, 2015 at 2:55 pm | Permalink

          What an amazing effort – well done indeed.

  2. Jane
    Posted October 23, 2015 at 2:42 pm | Permalink

    The four long ones were pretty much the first ones in for me, which gave a huge amount of help with the remainder.
    Stupidly failed on the parsing of 25a and still don’t quite understand the ‘northern accent’ bit of 3d. Can you explain further, Dutch?
    8a was a new word – only arrived at after I’d got 2d – and 19d was the last one to fall.
    Podium list includes 9a plus 1,6,19 & 21d.

    I’ve been hauled over the coals by Stan for giving away the pangram on the other side – my profuse apologies, should have engaged brain before posting.

    Many thanks to Osmosis and also to Dutch – do let us know when you’re off to Tahiti!

    • Physicist
      Posted October 23, 2015 at 3:32 pm | Permalink

      In 3d, I think the ‘northern accent’ bit is just to get the correct pronunciation of the long ‘u’ in the answer.

  3. halcyon
    Posted October 23, 2015 at 2:46 pm | Permalink

    I thought this was going to be one of Osmosis’s easier puzzles. The 4 big ones went in straight away and the RHS followed quickly but then it got a lot tougher. 14a and 3d were last in.

    Re 7d [a favourite] I wonder if Woy was aware of this anagram of his name? If so he would have been well chuffed. The other fave is the cunning 19d where I spent a good while trying to think of posh foreign names for casseroles!

    Many thanks to Osmosis and to Dutch for the blog.

  4. jean-luc cheval
    Posted October 23, 2015 at 2:47 pm | Permalink

    Delightful crossword.
    The first to fall was the Tory MP and the Easter feast.
    6a reminded me of my time in London as I knew a few French people who used to work in hotels or country clubs there.
    6d was great.
    Good thing I spotted the pangram as the missing F gave me 14a. Don’t think I would have finished the grid without it.
    Thanks to Osmosis and to Dutch for the wonderful review.

    • Physicist
      Posted October 23, 2015 at 3:29 pm | Permalink

      7d was a Labour MP, hence the aptness of ‘Tory slayer’ in the clue.

      • Shropshirelad
        Posted October 23, 2015 at 4:08 pm | Permalink

        Did he drown them?

        • Hanni
          Posted October 23, 2015 at 4:19 pm | Permalink

          Brilliant SL!

  5. Hanni
    Posted October 23, 2015 at 3:18 pm | Permalink



    I actually set off rather quickly on this. The 4 large outside clues almost writing themselves. Never heard of 8a before but it was fairly written and easy to check. When 3d went I knew I was looking for the pangram. Then came the bottom half…or to be specific the SE corner. Wrote down the missing letters and set to. Guessed at 16a but couldn’t see the ‘stick’, bit. That should have been the easier part. Also tried to make the ‘cream+r’ anagram for 26a then got muddled when nothing was working. For 19d I read it all wrong and was trying to make an anagram of ‘stew+it’s+r’ which might have worked if it had 8 letters. For pity’s sake!

    I did actually finish it and what a brilliant puzzle.

    Gosh. Favourite is 19d with 6d getting a mention.

    Many thanks to Osmosis and to Dutch for a great blog.

    My head hurts.

  6. Shropshirelad
    Posted October 23, 2015 at 4:06 pm | Permalink

    Super puzzle. Not a lot more I can say about it, except there are far too many great clues to try and pick 2 or 3 – never mind one.

    Thanks to Osmosis for the great puzzle and to Dutch for his review (which I will now read)

    Have a great weekend everyone.

  7. Expat Chris
    Posted October 23, 2015 at 6:08 pm | Permalink

    Phew. I did complete this, apart from 14A (is that really word?), though it took some time. Brain fog still has the upper hand. Surprisingly, I sorted out 7D fairly readily but needed Google for the first word of 6A. Never heard of the place. Certainly needed some help to parse a few. 19D is my runaway favorite. Thanks Osmosis and Dutch.

    • Jane
      Posted October 23, 2015 at 7:18 pm | Permalink

      Your reaction to 6a made me smile, Chris. For years, I assumed it was in the US!

  8. 2Kiwis
    Posted October 23, 2015 at 7:04 pm | Permalink

    Spotting that we probably had a pangram helped us in the SE corner which was the last to be filled in although the very last to work out the wordplay was 25a. 6a and 7d were both a little trickier for us than they would have been for UK residents but we had vaguely heard of both. It was one of those puzzles that we really like. Not a quick solve but each clue would yield slowly and regularly with diligent application. Very much appreciated and enjoyed.
    Thanks Osmosis and Dutch.

  9. Outnumbered
    Posted October 23, 2015 at 9:09 pm | Permalink

    Hard ! Thanks Dutch for the hints for 14a and 1d. Feel pleased to have managed the rest in about three sittings.

  10. Salty Dog
    Posted October 23, 2015 at 11:08 pm | Permalink

    Sorry, l needed 5 hints to finish this. I too thought it would be pretty much of a doddle once the four long ones were in, but no such luck. A couple of inspired guesses (both wrong) put me right off track. On balance, then, 4*+ for both difficulty and enjoyment. I thought 19d was a great clue, even though 6a – a place of which l have fond memories – claims my vote for favouritism. Thanks to Osmosis (one day l’ll get to the finish line unaided) and to Dutch for the review (and the hints!).