Toughie 1609

Toughie No 1609 by Osmosis

Hints and tips by Gazza

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

BD Rating – Difficulty ***Enjoyment ***

This is a fairly typical Osmosis puzzle with some enjoyable clues but lots of ‘fiddly’ bits in the wordplay including a great number of abbreviations. On the whole I enjoy solving this type of puzzle but the constant need to add, insert or subtract individual letters can make writing the hints a bit wearisome.

Please leave a comment telling us how you fared and what you thought of it.

Across Clues

1a Excessively cook duck, using mostly number 2 ring (6)
OVERDO – the letter that resembles a duck and the remarkably similar letter that’s a ring or circle with almost all of the 2d answer between them.

5a Doctor, dressing for his job, has no time in the main for afters (8)
SEMOLINA – put one of the abbreviations for doctor and the dressing that a doctor might use to treat a wound without the abbreviation for time into ‘the main’.

9a Branches gave loan to husband, securing good type of business deal (4-6)
ARM’S-LENGTH – a word for branches or sections is followed by a verb meaning ‘gave loan’ and H(usband) with the abbreviation for good inserted.

10a Wife’s consumed by depression, having Benedictine habit? (4)
COWL – the abbreviation for wife is contained inside a geographical depression.

11a Reconstruction of atrium captivates son on current course in Rome (8)
TIRAMISU – an anagram (reconstruction) of ATRIUM contains the abbreviation for son following the symbol for electric current.

12a Nutter regularly inside obtained dodgy booze (6)
GUTROT – regular letters from ‘nutter’ go inside a verb meaning obtained.

13a Nuts choke American (4)
GAGA – a verb to choke or retch and A(merican).

15a Sister a long time nursing at Midlands site (8)
NUNEATON – a religious sister and a very long period of time containing AT.

18a Help surgery when returning sample for medical department (8)
PODIATRY – join together a word for help and the abbreviation for a surgical procedure then reverse that and add a verb to sample.

19a Stir also around edge to dissolve (2-2)
TO-DO – a synonym for ‘also’ contains the first letter of dissolve.

21a Hold Lowry maybe in particular light (6)
NELSON – Mr Lowry’s initials go inside a bright type of light.

23a Government official negligent, failing to initiate a transport system (8)
EMISSARY – an adjective meaning negligent without its first letter is followed by A and the abbreviation for a type of transport.

25a Vague illustration partly reflected place (4)
LIEU – hidden backwards in the clue.

26a Female continually yearning after Prince’s autobiography (5,5)
FEVER PITCH – this is the title of an autobiography (later made into a film) by Nick Hornby. String together the abbreviation for female, an adverb meaning continually or eternally, the single-letter abbreviation for prince and a yearning or urge.

27a Cook perhaps displays food with brand on the outside (8)
SEAFARER – a word for food or provisions has a verb to brand or burn around it.

28a Animated character‘s given negative reply – not a sausage left in butcher’s (6)
SNOOPY – put a negative reply and the letter resembling zero (not a sausage) into a verb noun that can mean “a butcher’s” (i.e. a look) in Cockney rhyming slang.

Down Clues

2d He produced notes from papers minister passed over (5)
VERDI – join together the abbreviation for papers and the abbreviated title of a clergyman and reverse the lot.

3d Emperor‘s time in expedition led by artist (3,6)
RAS TAFARI – this is one of the titles of the African emperor who was also known as ‘King of kings’ and ‘Lion of Judah’. Insert the abbreviation for time into an expedition and precede that by the usual abbreviation for artist. This is the second time that the abbreviation for time has been used.

4d Fancy seeing monstrous creature — swimmer’s heading off in full-body suit (6)
ONESIE – although the answer was obvious from the checkers it took me some time to parse this as I got hung up on trying to construct it using an anagram of ‘seeing’. In fact we have to start with a single letter exclamation of surprise (fancy!) and add a Scottish monster without the first letter of swimmer.

5d Film actress lifted soldiers on trip, removing top, we affirm (9,6)
SIGOURNEY WEAVER – string together the reversal of American ordinary soldiers, a trip without its top letter, WE and a verb to affirm or attest.

6d Wood lands old golfer in thorny shrub (8)
MAHOGANY – put the surname of Ben, the old American golfer, into another word for hawthorn.

7d Authorised army man circulates here in France (5)
LICIT – the abbreviation for a junior army officer goes round the French word for ‘here’.

8d Type of insurance Theo switched to then, applying thus? (3,3,3)
NEW FOR OLD – the answer is the change you have to make to turn ‘Theo’ into ‘then’.

14d A&E admitting character, little man, earlier (2,3,4)
AT ONE TIME – A and E contain a word for character or quality and the forename of tiny Master Cratchit.

16d Tail winds on ship I reckon to be very high (9)
ALTISSIMO – an anagram (winds) of TAIL is followed by the usual abbreviation for ship and a 3-letter abbreviation meaning ‘I reckon’.

17d Reduced weight with pro champion (5,3)
STAND FOR – string together the abbreviation (reduced) for a non-metric unit of weight, a conjunction meaning ‘with’ and a preposition meaning pro.

20d Orange, say, extremely clear about technology with you and me (6)
CITRUS – the outer letters of clear contain the abbreviation for technology. Finish with a pronoun meaning ‘you and me’.

22d Play’s over and fellow leaves, inspired (5)
SNUFF – reverse a word for play or enjoyment (not forgetting the ‘S) and append the abbreviation for fellow. A very well disguised definition.

24d Summing up, one shifted into standard English (5)
RECAP – reverse a word meaning one in various games and insert it into the abbreviation for standard or ‘posh’ English.

I liked 28a and 8d but my favourite, for the brilliantly disguised definition, is 22d. Which ones had you applauding?



  1. stanXYZ
    Posted May 25, 2016 at 2:42 pm | Permalink | Reply

    When solving 6d and 26a – my heart went out to all those who have no interest in sport.

    Maybe, too much specialist knowledge?

    I didn’t understand 5a – so no afters for me!

    IMHO 16d was the best clue as it took me a very long time to understand the last 3 letters.

    Thanks to Gazza and Osmosis.

  2. dutch
    Posted May 25, 2016 at 3:59 pm | Permalink | Reply

    4*/4* for me.

    Slow going but I loved every minute of it. I loved the definitions (22d as Gazza mentioned, also 27a (Cook, perhaps), 19a (stir also to dissolve..).

    The picture of Sheep Dip brings back fond memories. I had some Canadian friends visit and the locals were persuading them Sheep Dip was a highly thought of British speciality which needed to be drunk in quantity to gain their respect.

    Brilliant puzzle, though I did need to look up a few things.

    Many thanks Osmosis and thanks Gazza

  3. Posted May 25, 2016 at 4:41 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Let’s just say I didn’t finish without help. I will blame the fuzzy head. Lots to enjoy and some new things learnt. I particularly liked 28a, 5d and 8d.

    I hope the difficulty level doesn’t continue to increase through the week. If so, I’d hold little hope for Friday. :wacko:

    Thanks to Osmosis and extra thanks to Gazza for the assistance provided by yet another consummate blog.

  4. Hanni
    Posted May 25, 2016 at 4:42 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Good grief…found this to be a real mid week Toughie with a few things I didn’t have a clue about…although I had the clues in front of me.

    26a..Not really heard of it although I think there was a film of the same name so had to look that up. No chance I know football stuff.

    3a..A new Emperor for me.

    6d. Golfer…no chance of my knowing that either so it was bunged in and I just waited for the blog to discover what ‘old golfer’. Ta Gazza.

    Figuring out the bits of 5a and 16d took a long time. And not that’s it relevant but I wish someone would ban adult 4d’s. Just no. I saw my friends husband in a lion one last year and had to poke out my minds eye to deal with it. I’m sure they are comfy but no. Baaad adult 4d’s.

    Fantastic puzzle though.

    Favourite is 28a although I thought 22d was really clever.

    Many thanks to Osmosis and to Gazza for a top notch blog.

    Edit.. loved the 28a cartoon and I had to look up 21a to check it was what I thought it was.

  5. Una
    Posted May 25, 2016 at 4:45 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Quite a struggle and I had to accept 3 hints.
    I disagree with StanXYZ above, in that one needed to know the thorny bush rather than the sport. I do know that bush because I am looking at one right now, with blackbirds feeding on the berries.
    I don’t know how I guessed 26a, it must have been in the subconscious somewhere.
    I agree that 16a is a brilliant clue , but I had to google it to see if it is really a word.
    I am not sure which initial “S” is in 21a.
    9a is also a new one to me.
    Other great clues include 4d , ( the picture is not a onesie.) I also liked 17d and a good many others.
    Thanks Gazza and Osmosis.

    • Gazza
      Posted May 25, 2016 at 5:06 pm | Permalink | Reply

      The central 2 letters of 21a are the initials of the artist LS Lowry.
      I bow to your knowledge of onesies. All I can say is that a request to Google Images produced very many like the one I picked.

      • Una
        Posted May 25, 2016 at 5:51 pm | Permalink | Reply

        Thank you , I should have known that.Maybe I am wrong about onesies, I was thinking of those fleecy pyjamas with feet, that some adults wear.

        • Hanni
          Posted May 25, 2016 at 5:57 pm | Permalink | Reply

          I generally think of onesies having ‘feet’ but I guess they could not….and no adult should wear them.

          • Una
            Posted May 25, 2016 at 6:45 pm | Permalink | Reply

            To be honest , I don’t know if anybody other than teenagers going to a sleepover wears them .

            • Posted May 25, 2016 at 7:02 pm | Permalink | Reply

              Charity collectors sometimes do. I remember recently encountering a group of human bunnies in Hyde Park collecting for a hospital. They made me smile.

          • dutch
            Posted May 25, 2016 at 9:11 pm | Permalink | Reply

            Every Xmas I live under the threat of getting one from Santa

            • Hanni
              Posted May 25, 2016 at 9:19 pm | Permalink | Reply

              What on earth have you done to make Santa so angry? Although if you do get one I think it’s only right that you wear it to the birthday bash next January. And is only so I can laugh my bamboo socks off . :yes: Actually no. I just don’t get them at all.

              • KiwiColin
                Posted May 25, 2016 at 10:15 pm | Permalink | Reply

                Hanni, if you are a writer and somewhat of an insomniac and often get up well before dawn to spend time at the computer, and just happen to have a Teddy Bear onesie handed down from a grandson who has grown out of it, then perfect circumstances are created for its use. This was exactly the situation in our household this morning and I will probably be beaten over the head for writing this. Cheers.

                • Hanni
                  Posted May 25, 2016 at 11:03 pm | Permalink | Reply

                  Hi Colin,

                  I admire your honesty and I can assure you that you are not alone. As I mentioned above I saw my friends husband (and my friend) in one last year…hers was a ‘spotty’ one. This prompted a conversation in the pub about who wears one. A lot. Matching ones that grandparents and their grandchildren wear. Ones that were gifts and are, I am assured, very comfy and warm….”Hanni you are aware we live on’t moors and it’s cold?”…ones for camping…the list goes on. Anyway the conversation ended when someone stood up with his hands on his hips and said loudly…”B***** useless the lot of ya’s. Mine has Superman on!”

                  To be honest there is not much you can say to that.

                  • KiwiColin
                    Posted May 26, 2016 at 4:20 am | Permalink | Reply

                    Hanni, I am not the one who is the writer in this household! :smile:

                • Una
                  Posted May 25, 2016 at 11:18 pm | Permalink | Reply

                  What an interesting mental picture that conveys.Perhaps you should change your “Nom de Plume” to the Two Onesies.

  6. Heno
    Posted May 25, 2016 at 6:26 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Thanks to Osmosis and to Gazza for the review and hints. I was quite encouraged at the start, as I actually managed to solve 10 clues before looking at the hints. Unfortunately that was as good as it gets. Even when I copied the definitions from the blog, it didn’t yield any more answers. Managed to get one more from the hints, but had to look up 13. So many things I’d never heard of. The wordplay was beyond me.

    • Gazza
      Posted May 25, 2016 at 6:45 pm | Permalink | Reply

      Heno, I’m quite disappointed that my hints weren’t more helpful to you. Do you have any suggestions on how I can make them more useful (obviously without spelling out the answer)?

  7. jean-luc cheval
    Posted May 25, 2016 at 6:29 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Honestly don’t know what to think of it or what to say about this crossword.
    Got some from the parsing without understanding the definition like 9a and 26a and got some answers without understanding the parsing such as 4d and 6d.
    Wasn’t very keen on butcher’s = spy. What is the point of rhyming slang?
    To me it’s like saying French street = regret.
    As I usually say: The rest, if any, was enjoyable.
    27a and 23d were good misdirections.

    Thanks to Osmosis and to Gazza for explaining the missing pieces.

  8. KiwiColin
    Posted May 25, 2016 at 8:30 pm | Permalink | Reply

    I really enjoyed this one and my especial favourite was 22d. I had all three checking letters and still stared at it for ages until a figurative flash of lightning like the one that I mentioned on the golf course suddenly showed me the well disguised definition. A few obscurities for me like the autobiography and the Midlands town but at least no rare Scottish words this time which always cause grief. Not a quick solve by any means and much appreciated and enjoyed.
    Thanks Osmosis and Gazza.

  9. Expat Chris
    Posted May 25, 2016 at 9:22 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Well, I have a handful of answers so far, almost all in the NE corner. I’m not reading hints because I’m not ready to give up completely just yet, but I’m not optimistic. Sadly, not having any fun so far. But hey!… the sun’s shining for the first time in a couple of very wet weeks so maybe that will stimulate the brain cells.

  10. jean-luc cheval
    Posted May 25, 2016 at 9:25 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Just finished my dinner and had another long look at the crossword.
    I can see that the setter is putting a lot of work to build his clues, breaking them up in little bits, and it makes nice surface most of the time like in 16d (tail winds) or 26a (female continually) but I still cannot understand if 28a is kosher.
    Surely a butcher’s is a look as a noun and spy is a verb. Maybe my example was a bit extreme but could a Barnet be a shock or a Dog a ring?
    I would love to hear what my fellow bloggers think about it as I don’t know if I am just making a fool of myself (as per usual)

    • Hanni
      Posted May 25, 2016 at 9:36 pm | Permalink | Reply

      Half the time I need rhyming slang explained to me anyway but if I have a butcher’s at something I would think it to be a verb. Not that I have ever said that sentence but I do see where you are coming from actually.

      I hope one of the wonderful pedants will help out.

      Hope your dinner was nice.

      • jean-luc cheval
        Posted May 25, 2016 at 9:44 pm | Permalink | Reply

        Exactly. You see. You have a butcher’s at something but don’t butcher something. Although you might very well. But that’s a different matter.

        • Hanni
          Posted May 25, 2016 at 9:51 pm | Permalink | Reply

          I assure you I have never butchered anything :eek: ….OK that first pot of honey didn’t stand much of a chance.

        • Gazza
          Posted May 25, 2016 at 9:52 pm | Permalink | Reply

          I think it works, Jean-Luc. A butcher’s (hook) is ‘a look’ (noun) but spy can also be a noun and one of its meanings (thanks BRB) is ‘a look’. I’m about to edit the hint to say that ‘spy’ here is a noun.

          • jean-luc cheval
            Posted May 25, 2016 at 10:31 pm | Permalink | Reply

            Thanks Gazza. We can always count on you for a logical explaination.

          • Hanni
            Posted May 25, 2016 at 11:04 pm | Permalink | Reply

            Thanks Gazza.

  11. Jane
    Posted May 25, 2016 at 9:40 pm | Permalink | Reply

    As I forecast after yesterday’s Shamus, this isn’t shaping up to be a Toughie week for the less qualified. I dread to think who’s up next.
    Strangely enough, I managed the sports questions, although 26a came via the checkers/guesswork and had to be verified.
    My top three came right at the bottom of the grid with 27&28a plus 24d.

    Thanks to Osmosis and to Gazza for explaining yet again what I should have been able to work out for myself!

    You asked Heno what you could do to make the hints more useful, Gazza – I think the answer is probably ‘not a great deal’. The problem that often arises for me is that the answer can be a word I know but not as used in the context the clue demands. Today, for instance – I’m quite familiar with 9a but didn’t know it was a type of business deal, I know that ‘in lieu of’ means ‘in place of’ but hadn’t taken the extra step to get lieu=place and as for your favourite (which invariably turns out to be one that I struggled with the most!) never in my wildest dreams did I think that ‘inspire’ could mean the same as ‘inhale’.
    Heno’s issues could well have been with different clues but, using my sticking points as examples, I don’t see how you could have helped any further without giving away the answers.
    I do use my lovely BRB when I come up against words I’ve never heard of but, when it’s a word for which I think I know the definition perfectly well, I can tend to discount it in light of the proffered wordplay and look for an alternative.
    Does that make any sense at all?

    • Gazza
      Posted May 25, 2016 at 9:59 pm | Permalink | Reply

      Thanks, Jane. I was a bit worried by Heno’s comment that my hints had only helped him solve 1 of the 13 clues that he had left. The trouble is that it’s difficult to pitch the hints at the right level for all solvers.

      (spirare is a Latin verb meaning to breathe, so inspire literally means to breathe in.)

      • Una
        Posted May 25, 2016 at 11:24 pm | Permalink | Reply

        I just realised that I parsed the clue wrongly as OG (old golfer) in a Mahonia .

  12. Jon_S
    Posted May 25, 2016 at 10:30 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Well, that was a bit of a struggle, though a satisfying one. Finished in the NE corner, with a tricky (even for this puzzle) 5ac, and 6d where I didn’t know either the golfer or the bush.

  13. Expat Chris
    Posted May 26, 2016 at 8:44 am | Permalink | Reply

    Phew. I was eventually left with a few on the left had side of the grid, Once I had realized that I can’t spell 11A and rectified that, 3D fell into place. I’d also penciled in “ology” at the end of 18A and when I finally took that out, 17D fell also. In the end, I had just two I could not complete…4D, and 18A. I did know the golfer in 6D and while I solved and parsed 26A I have not heard of the book. 8D was a bung in from the checkers. It’s not an expression I’m familiar with. I had the right answer for 24D, again from the checkers, but couldn’t parse it, and still can’t even with your hint, Gazza.

    I did find it satisfying to fight my way through this, but because of the struggle It wasn’t the most fun I’ve had in crosswordland. But that’s my failing, not the setter’s. Tops for me were 3D and 22D. Thanks Osmosis, and Gazza.

    • Gazza
      Posted May 26, 2016 at 8:49 am | Permalink | Reply

      Hi Chris,
      24d is ACE (one) reversed inside RP (received pronunciation, i.e. standard English).

      • Expat Chris
        Posted May 26, 2016 at 9:22 am | Permalink | Reply

        Ah. Thanks. I’ve been gone too long!

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