Toughie 1565

Toughie No 1565 by Osmosis

Hints and tips by Gazza

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BD Rating – Difficulty ***Enjoyment ***

Osmosis has given us a pangram which is full of his usual complicated wordplay. I do enjoy unravelling his type of clue but it does make the hints a bit long-winded. I completed most of the puzzle at a decent pace then slowed to a crawl in the SE corner.

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 Sole group perhaps put on file in error for academy (4,6)
LIFE SCHOOL – a word for a group of sole (or other fish) follows an anagram (in error) of FILE.

6a Fit beer bottles rearmost in pub (4)
ABLE – a type of beer contains the rearmost letter of pub.

9a Island community intercepting navy chief westwards (7)
RÉUNION – the community which we may, or may not, be leaving soon goes inside the abbreviation for our navy. After that we have to reverse an abbreviated way of writing an adjectival phrase meaning chief or most important (2,1).

10a Remove some pests, escorted over river (7)
DELOUSE – reverse a verb meaning escorted and add a river in North Yorkshire.

12a Head injured in try at match, causing legal proceedings (9,4)
PATERNITY SUIT – string together an old word for one’s head, an anagram (injured) of IN TRY and a verb to match or complement.

14a Poles in international alliance taking a gamble (2,4)
ON SPEC – the abbreviations for the two geographical poles go inside the acronym for an international alliance of crude exporters.

15a I am controlling canoe to avoid the odd aquatic creature (3,5)
SEA OTTER – I here is Osmosis, or rather his job. Put that around the even letters of canoe.

17a Stomach pain apparent eating at hotel that’s all-inclusive (8)
CATHOLIC – a type of stomach pain suffered by babies contains AT and the letter that hotel is used for in the Nato Phonetic Alphabet.

19a Lay out bread occupying church room, having cut lines (6)
INVEST – a preposition meaning occupying is followed by a church room without the abbreviation for lines or tracks. I identified the correct abbreviation but then spent some time trying to remove it from ‘crypt’. The surface doesn’t mean a great deal.

22a Sauce from vessel finished on flooring, also outside (6,7)
TOMATO KETCHUP – a two-masted vessel and an adverb meaning finished follow a type of flooring which is contained inside a synonym for also.

24a Expert about to contribute to spring forecast (7)
PROJECT – start with the abbreviated form of a word for an expert, then insert an abbreviation for about or approximately into a verb to spring or spray.

25a Gents or ladies around Lazio regularly start to eat this? (7)
CALZONE – put a slang term (mainly North American) for a gents or ladies convenience around regular letters from Lazio, then finish with the starting letter of eat.

26a An element swapping sides in transaction (4)
DEAL – swap the outer letters of a metallic element.

27a What’s swimming in open river? Such a fish (10)
FRESHWATER – insert an anagram (swimming) of WHAT’S into an adjective meaning open or frank, then finish with the abbreviation for river.

Down Clues

1d One shortens bottom of jumper owned by youngster (4)
LARD – shortens here means to make pastry soft and crumbly by adding fat. The bottom letter of jumper is contained inside a young male. I don’t like this much – the answer is an uncountable noun so you can’t say ‘one ****’.

2d Adversary mentioned entrance of slug under annual bloomer (4,3)
FAUX PAS – start with what sounds like an adversary or enemy then put the initial letter of slug after the Latin abbreviation for yearly.

3d Game woman guzzles alcoholic drink (Courage) (4-3-6)
SPIN-THE-BOTTLE – a feminine pronoun contains a measure of beer. That’s followed by an informal word for courage.

4d Poor country’s declining acres (6)
HUNGRY – remove the abbreviation for acres from the name of a European country. I wasn’t convinced that the answer means poor but it’s in the BRB.

5d Initially Daily Telegraph setter’s filling role arranged for veteran (3-5)
OLD-TIMER – the initial letters of Daily Telegraph and the contracted form of ‘the setter is’ put into the first person go inside an anagram (arranged) of ROLE.

7d Smell from Pierre that is evident during fight (7)
BOUQUET – how Pierre (or Jean-Luc) might say ‘that’ goes inside a fight or contest.

8d Rolls may include this tripe served up and consumed by the Spanish city (10)
ELECTORATE – having discounted the posh car and the bread we’re left with the sort of rolls which are kept up to date by your local council. The reversal of another word for tripe or rubbish and a verb meaning consumed follow a Spanish definite article and the postal area of the City of London.

11d Amateur, depressed by judicial system, to give a lecture? (3,4,3,3)
LAY DOWN THE LAW – string together an adjective meaning amateur, an adjective meaning depressed and ‘judicial system’ (3,3).

13d PA routinely did this petty wrangling with director, that hurt inside (5-5)
TOUCH-TYPED – an anagram (wrangling) of PETTY and D(irector) have an exclamation of pain inserted. Crypticsue would like to point out that some PAs can still do this.

16d Labour contender? Preference always keeping close to chest (8)
PICKETER – a word meaning preference or choice is followed by a poetical adverb meaning always containing the closing letter of chest.

18d In which a drum roll might produce a number one? (7)
TOMBOLA – cryptic definition of an attraction at a fête, say, at which you may win a prize.

20d Milk round one operates at 33, moving over in retirement (7)
EXPLOIT – put together the round letter and the thing that works at (approximately) 33 rpm. Now reverse that and insert it in a word for retirement or departure,

21d Head to toe engulfed by hose, as punishment (6)
STOCKS – the first letter of toe is contained in hose.

23d Tackle    Northern runner (4)
WEAR – double definition. The first means tackle or kit and the second is a river which is Northern if you live in London (but Southern if you live in Edinburgh).

I liked the semi-all-in-one 27a and 7d (which made me laugh). Which one(s) appealed to you?



  1. Expat Chris
    Posted March 9, 2016 at 2:18 pm | Permalink

    I was rolling merrily along, until I came to the last two…9A and 4D. I had the right answers for both from the checkers, but no way in the world would I have been able to parse 9A, and 4D I thought a bit odd. My first 4 answers were 1D, 22A, 25A and 21D and then with 7D and finally 4D, I did wonder if there was a bit of a food theme going on. Never noticed the pangram. Absolute favorite was 27A. Many thanks to Osmosis and hats off to Gazza for the blog!

  2. halcyon
    Posted March 9, 2016 at 2:44 pm | Permalink

    Lots of disguised definitions and penny dropping moments here, such as 13a [lay out bread] even if the overall surface is gibberish as you say Gazza. Other goodies were 15a, 25a, 8d [quite a tour de force] and 21d [head to toe]. 3d reminded me [as I guess it was intended to] of Courage beer when I first moved to London. At least the Directors was sometimes drinkable, though I wondered for a while why I always had a headache on Saturday mornings.

    Many thanks to Osmosis and to Gazza for the blog.

  3. Lesley
    Posted March 9, 2016 at 2:46 pm | Permalink

    this was fun, and i have learned what a pangram is. had to use answers on a few as a check, as hints weren’t working for me. then relooked at hints, i had the right answers but didn’t know why initially. couldn’t answer 24a, and again had to struggle with the hint.
    i had the wrong river for 10a and did not believe that suol meant escorted!

    this was a double whammy, solving both the clues and then the hints. thank you both

  4. Hanni
    Posted March 9, 2016 at 3:04 pm | Permalink

    I enjoyed this but it occasionally felt like putting together very very tiny pieces of Lego and hoping you’ve built the Eiffel Tower or something. For the most part I had. Gave up parsing a few. Knew Gazza would sort it all out. Bottom half caused more problems than the top.

    Didn’t spot the pangram which is odd. I mean I can never ever spot Nina’s without someone giving me very clear instructions, but I normally get pangrams. Hey ho.

    Favourites are 14a, 27a and 7d.

    Many thanks to Osmosis and to Gazza for a great blog. Nice pic for 1a.

  5. dutch
    Posted March 9, 2016 at 4:04 pm | Permalink

    Brilliant. Loved “Labour contender” at 16d, definitely my favourite. Enjoyed the semi-all-in-one at 25a, 27a, very clever. Some great surface readings too, e.g. 12a, 15a, 17a. Was worried about “Pierre that” until I realised it can be parsed as “from Pierre, that”, very nice. I thought “beer” instead of “alcoholic drink” would give an even better clue for 3d, with a simpler surface & stronger link to Courage. So much to enjoy. Embarrassingly, I missed the pangram again! Many thanks Osmosis and Gazza

    • halcyon
      Posted March 9, 2016 at 7:41 pm | Permalink

      I’m glad you said it Dutch [I’m the one who’s always complaining] but I can’t imagine why a setter as good as Osmosis missed the opportunity to use “beer” instead of “alcoholic drink” in that clue. Deadlines maybe? There was a time when the crossword editor would have picked it up but heigh ho!!

  6. Una
    Posted March 9, 2016 at 5:28 pm | Permalink

    Third time lucky , I hope. I’ll keep it short as it appears to be a timing issue. Hard but interesting. Fav: 1a , also the illustration.
    Thanks to all.

  7. crypticsue
    Posted March 9, 2016 at 5:31 pm | Permalink

    Kcit tomorrow

  8. jean-luc cheval
    Posted March 9, 2016 at 6:01 pm | Permalink

    Didn’t miss the pangram as it helped me get 24a for the J and 19a for the V. In fact 19a and 20d were my last ones.
    Guessed the French island but couldn’t parse it. I had union for the community and thought that re was our lovely queen backwards as she is probably the ultimate navy chief but intercepting didn’t make sense.
    The answer to 7d made me laugh as it reminded me of Patricia Routledge’s character called Hyacinth Bucket insisting that it should be pronounced Bouquet.
    The game in 3d and the expression in 11d were my first ones in, which really surprised me as I am never very comfortable with idioms and multiple words answers. Liked the explanations of the game. French kiss indeed. Surprised to hear that we were the firsts to use the tongue.
    Found it a bit Lego like as Hanni did and a bit mechanical but some excellent surface.
    Favourite is also 27a.
    Thanks to Osmosis and to Gazza for the help with the parsing.

  9. pommers
    Posted March 9, 2016 at 6:04 pm | Permalink

    Enjoyed this one even if it was a bit on the tricky side for me.

    Re 9a – we had the European Union involved but also the island of Réunion was the first place on Earth where the Euro became legal tender.

    Thanks Osmosis, I enjoyed it. Also thanks to Gazza for the review.

  10. 2Kiwis
    Posted March 9, 2016 at 6:14 pm | Permalink

    It is always fun with an Osmosis puzzle to back after a full grid and tweak out the finer details of the wordplay that sometimes get overlooked when solving. We spotted the pangram but too late to be any assistance. Good level of difficulty and enjoyment.
    Thanks Osmosis and Gazza.

  11. Jon_S
    Posted March 9, 2016 at 10:06 pm | Permalink

    A couple of tricky clues at 9 and 25ac held me up at the end. The rest was no progress, followed by very rapid progress, and then the two aforementioned clues…

  12. Jane
    Posted March 9, 2016 at 10:34 pm | Permalink

    Found this one quite a lot of fun, despite hitting the proverbial brick wall about two-thirds of the way through and needing to take a break.
    Tick list shows 12,14,15&27a plus 18d. Favourite is either 15 or 27a.

    Thanks to Osmosis for the tussle and to Gazza for helping out with the parsing of 9a &20d.