Toughie 1543

Toughie No 1543 by Osmosis

Hints and tips by Dutch

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

A cracking puzzle from Osmosis to end the week – I enjoyed this thoroughly, especially the definitions. It took me not too much over normal Toughie time. By the time you read this I’ll be on a train – see you all tomorrow!

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    Mediterranean island discovered by some with a camera (6)
ITHACA: Hidden in the clue (discovered by some) with a camera

4a    Unknown pots, first seen at back, most attractive (8)
YUMMIEST: A single-letter algebraic variable (unknown), followed by a word for pots or bellies in which the first letter is moved to the end

9a    Religious leader given a kiss in church (6)
CALIPH: A from the clue plus a 3-letter word for kiss all go inside an abbreviation for church

10a    Bernice regularly taking course in culinary style (2,6)
EN CROUTE: The even letters of Bernice followed by a course or way

11a    Entertainment centre‘s star visiting young girl (3,5)
LAS VEGAS: The name of a first magnitude star goes inside (visiting) a 4-letter word for young girl

13a    County borders featured in Surrey magazine (6)
GLOSSY: Four-letter abbreviation of a county in SW England followed by the first and last letters of (borders featured in) Surrey

15a    Club‘s rejected elements of One Direction in possession of joint (4,3,6)
WEST HAM UNITED: Find words clued by each of the two “elements” of One Direction (One + Direction) and swap them around (rejected) – to get Direction(4) + One(6), then between them insert (in possession of) a 3-letter joint (of meat)

18a    Spinner, new resident in tiny mill town (4,9)
TONY BLACKBURN: This spinner is a disc jockey and “I’m a celebrity – get me out of here” winner. Place the abbreviation for new into a 3-letter word meaning tiny (often applied to dogs), followed by a mill town in Lancashire known (for instance) for its football team

22a    Animal‘s stink stifling another one (6)
REEBOK: A verb meaning to stink contains (stifling) a 2-letter abbreviation for someone’s offensive smell

24a    In understanding energy, advanced fuel can be created (8)
KEROSENE: Take the 3-letter Scottish word for understanding or knowledge and add the abbreviation for energy, then insert (in) a word meaning advanced or moved upward. “Can be created” is the link between wordplay and definition, and here it comes after the definition – it means the same as “providing fuel”

26a    Top-class doctor in France to go back for protection against sun? (8)
UMBRELLA: A single letter representing the top or upper class, a 2-letter abbreviation for doctor, and a reversal (back) of the French word meaning “to go”

27a    Intention is to switch over fourth episode of Planet of the Apes (6)
SIMIAN: A 3-letter word mean intention or purpose plus “is” from the clue, all reversed (to switch over) followed by the fourth letter in Planet

28a    Saucy stuff from repellent one with cleavage repeatedly showing (4-4)
PIRI-PIRI: Take the Roman numeral for one plus a 3-letter word meaning cleavage or tear, reverse it (repellent) and repeat it

29a    News earlier disrupting part of hospital wing (6)
ANNEXE: Take the abbreviation for new twice (news) plus a 2-letter noun/prefix meaning earlier or former, and insert into a 2-letter hospital department


1d    Language student female’s expecting at farm? (2-4)
IN-CALF: An ancient South American language followed by the abbreviations for student (learner) and female

2d    Harry even catches broadcast somewhere in the Midlands (9)
HALESOWEN: A nickname for Harry and the poetic spelling of even surround (catches) a 3-letter verb meaning broadcast or scatter will give this town just south of Birmingham, apparently famous for making nails

3d    Constant battle getting capital to save large plant (7)
CYPRESS: A letter that denotes a mathematical constant followed by a town in Flanders that was the scene of an intense WW1 battle, and the first letter (capital) of save

5d    Bone fish, removing head, but keeping tail ultimately (4)
ULNA: Take a 4-letter large, oily fish, remove the first letter and insert the last letter of tail

6d    Norma, in reality, hurt in outside lavatory shown as ‘Vacant’ (7)
MARILYN: A 3-letter verb for hurt or damage, then IN from the clue goes outside the first and last letters of lavatory (shown as vacant)

7d    Horseplay? (5)
EQUUS: Cryptic definition referring to a stage play

8d    Folk-rock band — they would include bass on certain tracks? (3,5)
THE BYRDS: They from the clue goes around (would involve) the abbreviation for bass, then (in abbreviated form) a kind of tracks or ways

12d    Religious community remains, some days, withdrawn (6)
ASHRAM: The remains of something burnt plus the reversal (withdrawn) of a 3-letter abbreviation of a calendar month (some days)

14d    Scottish swimmer and runner acquiring instant energy (6)
SMOKIE: A runner used in winter sport goes around (acquiring) the informal abbreviation for an instant or short time, followed by the abbreviation for energy.

16d    Bug found in container with Eastern fruit (9)
TANGERINE: A 5-letter verb meaning to bug or irritate goes inside a metal container followed by the abbreviation for Eastern

17d    Drill with lead put on skip (4,4)
STAR JUMP: Drill as in exercise – another word for lead or main actor followed by a word for skip or leap

19d    Australian community involved in dance session (5-2)
BOOZE-UP: Slang 2-letter word for Australian plus a 2-letter abbreviation for a community involving much of Europe go inside a 3-letter word for dance

20d    Idealistic Spaniard, dismissing judge, entertaining to detective (7)
UTOPIAN: A 4-letter Spanish first name without the initial J (dismissing judge) goes around TO from the clue and a 2-letter abbreviation for a detective

21d    Main French coastal location, not one where spirits are raised? (6)
SEANCE: another word for main, the salt water kind, followed by a French city on the Mediterranean without the letter I (not one)

23d    Residue seen on 5/11 and the majority of that month (5)
EMBER: 5/11 is the date of Guy Fawkes night where bonfires would burn down to reveal this answer, which is also formed by most of the letters in the name of the month

25d    Rock band given central stages in Dublin? Sure (4)
BLUR: Take the central two letters (centre stage) of Dublin and Sure

Many great clues and hard to choose a favourite. I didn’t see 1a for a while, very good. 19d made me laugh. My favourite I think is the clever 27a. Which clues did you like?


  1. snape
    Posted January 29, 2016 at 5:29 pm | Permalink

    A rare venture into the Toughie for me, enjoying it so far, with not much more than the NE corner done. I paid a visit here early, as I couldn’t see how to parse Wilkie for 14d – not surprising really. I wouldn’t call it much of a swimmer, though, in that state!
    Thanks to Osmosis and Dutch – I’ll keep plugging away.

    • snape
      Posted January 29, 2016 at 6:17 pm | Permalink

      Got there, with a few hints and bung-ins, so the explanations were appreciated. Favourite – don’t know. 27a, perhaps. I really enjoyed it, though. Thanks again.

  2. Shropshirelad
    Posted January 29, 2016 at 5:54 pm | Permalink

    Excellent way to finish off the toughie week with this challenge from Osmosis. As I’m aware that Kath is lurking in the background, I won’t pick out one particular favourite as virtually all of them are my favourites (see how clever that was). I am now off to prepare myself for tomorrow’s soirée.

    Thanks to Osmosis for the puzzle and Dutch for his excellent review. See you all tomorrow.

  3. KiwiColin
    Posted January 29, 2016 at 6:38 pm | Permalink

    I had NESSIE for 14d which i thought fitted the clue so perfectly that I was loath to change it. Never heard of the right answer either. In the end I found the areas of knowledge needed for many of the clues eg 2d and 18a as well as the bands was causing so much frustration that I abandoned it with about a third not solved. Looking through the review this morning I appreciate how clever many of them are. So in this case a resounding victory to the setter.
    Thanks Osmosis and Dutch.

  4. Sheffieldsy
    Posted January 29, 2016 at 9:02 pm | Permalink

    Massively enjoyable and fully agree with Dutch’s 4*/5* rating. We used electronic help for just one clue – getting a list of relevant islands because we had miserably failed to spot the lurker in 1a. The rest we just banged away at and one by one they yielded but it took a goodly time. 4a was a bung-in and we needed Dutch’s explanation to understand why. Our feeling of achievement at completing such a challenging puzzle was almost immediately followed by a sense of loss that there was no more enjoyment to be had from it. I guess that’s the hallmark of a great crossword.

    Favourites were 6d, 15a, 22a, 16d, 14d, 27a, but many others came close to getting a mention.

    Smiled at, but didn’t really like, 18a.

    Thank you, Osmosis, for that cunning work of art. Thank you, Dutch, for the picture of the umbrella!

  5. Expat Chris
    Posted January 29, 2016 at 9:32 pm | Permalink

    Avoiding the hints and comments for now. Not much over regular toughie time, huh Dutch? At my current state of progress, I might finish this by Sunday night…and then again, I might not.

  6. Kitty
    Posted January 31, 2016 at 11:28 pm | Permalink

    A puzzle of this quality deserves more comments – and the review certainly does. Unfortunately I’m unable to say anything much as I didn’t do the crossword, but am dropping in to affirm my promise to Dutch that I will attempt some Friday Toughies in future. So there it is in writing! Thanks :) .

  7. halcyon
    Posted February 1, 2016 at 3:57 pm | Permalink

    Why are the real crackers always published when I’m on hols? Fully endorse comments from Dutch and Sheffieldsy [City of my youth]. As well as being a terrific puzzle it contains West Ham, The Byrds and Marilyn – three of the best.

    Personal favourites amongst many other super clues were 4a [first seen at back] 6d [in outside lav] 19d [lovely] and 21d [ditto].

    Many thanks to Osmosis and to Dutch for a fine blog [but Eight Miles High would have been much better at 8d]

  8. Jane
    Posted February 3, 2016 at 12:25 am | Permalink

    Promised that I’d get round to finishing this one but have been somewhat delayed – can’t imagine why. :unsure:
    Didn’t look at a single hint but – does it count that I caught the reviewer somewhat off-guard and prised one answer out of him?
    Thanks to Osmosis for a very fair but extremely difficult (for me) puzzle and to Dutch for somehow finding the time on a busy day to bring everyone the blog.
    Smiled at your pic for 26a – not only did you find an excuse to include a scantily clad young lady but you also appraised us of her nationality!
    Can I really be the only one who picked up on the pangram?

    • dutch
      Posted February 4, 2016 at 1:21 pm | Permalink

      Oh no, I missed the pangram again – well spotted Jane!