Toughie 1527

Toughie No 1527 by Osmosis

Hints and tips by Dutch

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

And a very happy New Year to everyone! Osmosis gives us a great puzzle to start 2016. This took me normal Toughie time so 3* for difficulty, and plenty of surprise definitions and fun wordplay to give us 4* for enjoyment

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    Sign of approval from doctor to drink after twenty-four hours, in brief (6-2)
THUMBS-UP: A 2-letter abbreviation for doctor and a 3-letter verb meaning drink follow the 3-letter abbreviation (in brief) of one of the days of the week (twenty-four hours)

6a    Tongue secured by mum with money (2,4)
IN CASH: Language of an ancient South American civilisation followed by an interjection meaning quiet or hush

9a    One’s played Karenina alongside ordinary guy in auditorium (6)
JOANNA: The first name of Ms Karenina follows a sound-alike (in auditorium) of an ordinary guy to give this Cockney word for piano.

10a    Getting round London area, swaggering chap misses museum staircase (8)
ESCALIER: Reversal (getting round) of the part of England where London is located followed by an 8-letter swaggering fellow or knight from which the 2-letter abbreviation for a well-known London museum is omitted

11a    Coming from an island river, silt dumped in Lima perhaps (8)
BERMUDAN: The abbreviation for river plus a 3-letter word meaning silt or wet earth all goes inside something of which Lima is an example (not city)

12a    School classes obtaining new longs (6)
YEARNS: Another word for school classes or forms contains the abbreviation for new

13a    Old thespian element symbolically attending City pub judge hangs around (4,8)
ALEC GUINNESS: The chemical symbol for a metallic element plus the postcode for the financial district of London is followed by a 3-letter word for pub inserted into a word for judge or estimate

16a    Six lads worked equally willingly — one having dealt with mops (5,7)
VIDAL SASSOON: The Roman numeral for six, an anagram (worked) of LADS, then a (2,4) phrase meaning equally willingly

19a    Bit of skirt featured in middle of obscene programme (6)
SCHEME: A bit of a skirt, normally around the lower edge, goes inside the central 3 letters of obscene

21a    Green bow worn finally going to opera, perversely (8)
ARCADIAN: A 3-letter bow or part of a circle, then a reversal (perversely) of the last letter of worn plus a Verdi opera

23a    Drop drawers in beginning private act (8)
DOWNTURN: First letter of drawers (in the beginning), a 3-letter possessive pronoun that can mean private or belonging to one’s self, and a word meaning a performer’s act

24a    Steer Ford car with trouble, given part of liquid lunch? (6)
OXTAIL: A two-letter bovine animal, a Ford model, and a 3-letter word meaning trouble or indisposition

25a    Muhammad A’s adversary before bell regularly needing boxer’s corner? (6)
KENNEL: The first name and surname initial of a boxing adversary of Mohammad Ali is followed by the even letters (regularly) of bell.

26a    Castle entertains student class? Not in such seasons (8)
ROSEMARY: The first name of the multitalented Mr Castle goes around (entertains) an advanced student class or discussion group from which “in” is omitted (not in) to give a herb (which seasons)


2d    Legendary captain disheartened eager rugby player (6)
HOOKER: The captain from Peter Pan with the first and last letters only (disheartened) of eager

3d    Main route north shown on the writer’s note (5)
MINIM: The name of the main motorway heading north from London, the abbreviation for north, and how you might say “the writer is” from the perspective of the writer or setter (i.e., in first person)

4d    Laurel presented by wife in new Reds sporting venue (2,7)
ST ANDREWS: First name of comedian Laurel followed by an anagram (new) of REDS containing the abbreviation for wife

5d    Quiet marshy area lifting spirit in old rhino (7)
PFENNIG: The musical abbreviation for quiet or softly, a 3-letter word for marsh or bog, and a reversal the drink known as mother’s ruin gives this old German monetary unit

6d    Bothersome temperature lowered in Mini (5)
ITCHY: Take a word meaning very small and “drop” (in a down clue) the initial T (temperature) one position

7d    Pass clergyman that’s discussed offering plate for Seamus? (9)
COLCANNON: A 3-letter word for a mountain pass is followed by a homophone of a 5-letter clergyman to give this Irish dish of potatoes and cabbage

8d    After vacation in Suffolk, say, head for resort northwards (8)
SKEGNESS: The first and last letters (after vacation) of Suffolk, the Latin abbreviation for say or for example, and a 4-letter word meaning head or cape

13d    Fabled king soon consuming venison, perhaps with drop of mead (9)
AGAMEMNON: This Greek leader in the Trojan war is derived from a 4-letter word meaning soon which contains (consuming) a type of meat that venison exemplifies and the first letter of (a drop of) mead

14d    Press start to call on TV presenter getting honour (4,5)
IRON CROSS: A 4-letter word meaning press or de-crease, the first letter of call, and the surname of Jonathan the TV presenter (or his brother)

15d    Uncover record and see both sides in store (8)
DISCLOSE: A 4-letter gramophone record, a short word meaning see, and the first and last letters (both sides) of store

17d    Mechanic’s agent  that might cause difficulty in the works (7)
SPANNER: Double definition, second cryptic, for a mechanic’s tool

18d    German here carrying street map that’s relatively unclear (6)
HAZIER: The German word for here contains (carrying) a street map

20d    Electronic game, with one leaving match (5)
EQUAL: The abbreviation for electronic and a game bird from which the letter I is omitted (one leaving)

22d    Some information poster over breadbasket (5)
DATUM: Reversal (over) of a poster followed by an informal word for stomach (breadbasket)

I think my favourite is 16a, though there were many clever clues. Which clues did you like?


  1. Expat Chris
    Posted January 1, 2016 at 2:28 pm | Permalink

    I found this very challenging but I was determined not to begin the new toughie year with a fizzle, and I got through it without help. I did not like 6A at all, and did not know the rhino definition in 5D. 26A didn’t float my boat either. Took a bit of time to work out that the Ford model was the original one. On the plus side, I loved 11A, 13A and 16A. 23A raised a smile. Thanks Osmosis and Dutch. Always happy when the review comes up early EST and I can get on with my day.

  2. anax
    Posted January 1, 2016 at 2:34 pm | Permalink

    Hello all. I was hoping to add my Happy New Year wishes to an Elkamere blog but sadly there’s been a mix-up. Because one clue was very specific to today I’m not sure rescheduling will work, so I’ve emailed Phil to ask if there’s some way of making it available. Of course, as it’s New Year’s Day he may not be around, so I can only keep ‘em crossed.
    But Happy New Year anyway!

    • dutch
      Posted January 1, 2016 at 2:37 pm | Permalink

      Ah, pity
      Happy new year from all of us all the same

      • anax
        Posted January 1, 2016 at 2:46 pm | Permalink

        Cheers Dutch. BTW I tried twice to send you New Year’s greetings this morning but the send failed; not “Could not be delivered” but “Failed to send”, so it’s not a problem with your phone. Had the same problem – but only once – trying to text Xana’s mum.

  3. Ash Cooper
    Posted January 1, 2016 at 3:18 pm | Permalink

    Hi Dutch,

    I had the pleasure of meeting you last evening in the pub. Managed to finish this one before consulting your blog but have to say that while I got 25A as Kennel, i still couldnt work out how “Kenn” was an adversary (Ken Norton i guess-not one of the more famous of Muhammad A’s opponents). As others have said, “Rhino” as slang for money was totally new to me, although I worked out Pfennig.


    • dutch
      Posted January 1, 2016 at 3:35 pm | Permalink

      Hi Ash,
      Brilliant of you to drop in, welcome to the blog, hope to hear from you regularly – and happy new year!. Yes, Ken N(orton) – apparently a well known(?) trilogy of fights against Ali. Yes, Rhino comes up occasionally, I think I learned the term through crosswords, none of my friends use it.

      • Expat Chris
        Posted January 1, 2016 at 3:46 pm | Permalink

        I met Ali once…sort of. He quite literally walked right into me at Newark Airport. Poor man had no idea that he’d almost knocked me over. Very sad.

  4. halcyon
    Posted January 1, 2016 at 3:57 pm | Permalink

    Pleasant pangram just on the tougher side of average for me. The SE corner proved the most recalcitrant but once I’d twigged breadbasket in 22d the last 3 [21,24,26] were much more obvious. A few clunky surfaces but there are flashes of genius wordplay with super surfaces at 16a and 8d.

    Many thanks to Osmosis and to Dutch for a fine blog – and a happy New Year to you all.

    • dutch
      Posted January 1, 2016 at 4:00 pm | Permalink

      Ah thanks, well spotted – I missed the pangram!

  5. Kath
    Posted January 1, 2016 at 5:31 pm | Permalink

    Defeated by three, all in the bottom right corner, but I really enjoyed the crossword.
    I missed the pangram – I always do – and needed the hints to explain a few of my answers.
    We have the same answer in the back pager and the Toughie – isn’t it funny how often that happens?
    I liked 1 and 16a and 8 and 17d. My favourite was 7d.
    With thanks to Osmosis and to Dutch, especially for doing the hints on New Year’s Day.

  6. Jane
    Posted January 1, 2016 at 5:34 pm | Permalink

    Got there, albeit with a few wild guesses! Sadly lacking in knowledge of boxers, old rhinos and the German language.
    Like Chris, I wasn’t too enamoured of either 6 or 26a, but there were still a few goodies around.
    Top spot goes to 16a with a nod to our twinkly-eyed setter in 7d.

    Thanks to Osmosis for the challenge and to Dutch for an excellent blog despite being ‘down the pub’ last night!
    17d didn’t immediately spring to mind as an opportunity to include a pic. of a buxom wench – should have known better!

  7. 2Kiwis
    Posted January 1, 2016 at 5:45 pm | Permalink

    We did spot the pangram but not in time to be any help in filling in the grid. We needed to do a bit of Google research to work out the wordplay for 25a but it did eventually all make sense. With 13a, we had sorted out the probable answer well before we could sort out why, but like 25, we did finally get it all. Really good fun and much appreciated.
    Thanks Osmosis and Dutch.

  8. Posted January 1, 2016 at 6:11 pm | Permalink

    An enjoyable start to 2016 which we completed despite a heavy and late night – had to stay up on firework alert for the dog and of course liquid refreshments flowed. Hoppy New Year To All.

  9. Salty Dog
    Posted January 1, 2016 at 8:27 pm | Permalink

    I didn’t spot the pangram either (but even if you suspect one I don’t see how you can be sure until you’ve filled the grid), but I found this a very worthy Toughie. I’d score it at 3.5* for both difficulty and satisfaction. Plenty of candidates for favourite clue, but my pick is 25a. Thanks to Osmosis, and to Dutch for the review.

  10. Jane
    Posted January 1, 2016 at 10:54 pm | Permalink

    Could I ask a question about 6d. Everywhere I’ve consulted for the ‘mini’ word gives the spelling as ‘titchy’ – which would obviously mean that one needs to get rid of a ‘t’ rather than dropping it down. Does the BRB give an alternative spelling?

    • Expat Chris
      Posted January 1, 2016 at 11:05 pm | Permalink

      Yes, it does.

      • Jane
        Posted January 1, 2016 at 11:46 pm | Permalink

        Thanks, Chris.

  11. Paso Doble
    Posted January 1, 2016 at 11:15 pm | Permalink

    What a start to the New Year – we have finished another Toughie, making it 4 in a row. We can hardly believe it! Really struggled but got there in the end. Many thanks to Dutch for helping us work out why some of our answers were right and to Osmosis for a tough but enjoyable challenge.

    And if you’re planning your summer holiday for 2016, you should give Skeggie a thought after watching this promotional video …..

    • Jane
      Posted January 1, 2016 at 11:48 pm | Permalink

      Thought – no thank you!!!

  12. Shropshirelad
    Posted January 2, 2016 at 12:18 am | Permalink

    Thanks to Osmosis for a super toughie to start off 2016. A pleasure to solve, enjoyable and a pangram to boot.

    Was sitting in the conservatory with Gladiator on the TV in the background when I started the puzzle – guess what – 1a straight in!

    Super clueing and lovely surfaces.

    Thanks to Osmosis for the puzzle and Dutch for his usual immaculate review.

  13. jean-luc cheval
    Posted January 2, 2016 at 12:04 pm | Permalink

    Almost getting the hang of solving without a grid.
    Well, I totally missed 23a actually.
    The rest was pretty straightforward and very enjoyable.
    Had to check a few on Google such as M Ali boxing adversaries and the old rhino in 5d.
    Quails and Oxtail. That makes me hungry again.
    Thanks to Osmosis and to Dutch.

  14. molly
    Posted January 23, 2016 at 2:36 pm | Permalink

    Only 3 weeks behind….just wanted to drop and say thanks to Osmosis for a super puzzle, and to all who make this site what it is. A year ago I could barely start an Osmosis toughie, and I’ve just not only done this one without any help but understood all the wordplay. That doesn’t mean you’re not needed though Dutch, I love your detailed clear explanations and always check. Onwards and upwards!