Toughie 1625

Toughie No 1625 by Osmosis

Hints and tips by Gazza

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

When you see Osmosis’s name on a Toughie you can be sure that you’re going to get a lot of detailed wordplay including plenty of insertions and reversals and this one certainly follows that pattern. We also have quite a few laughs and I did enjoy it, although it is towards the top end of the Wednesday difficulty scale. It’s also a pangram.

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

Across Clues

1a Stop relative delving inside Edwardian dresser when over (6)
DESIST – put an abbreviated relative inside the reversal of a young Edwardian dresser of the 1950s.

4a Barney takes shelter drinking second wine (8)
SPÄTLESE – a barney or quarrel followed by a word for shelter containing the abbreviation for second.

10a Energy low inside gloomy carriage (9)
DEMEANOUR – the abbreviation for energy and an adjective meaning low or humble go inside an adjective meaning gloomy or sullen.

11a Convenient reason that plug is dangerous? (2,3)
OF USE – an electric plug is dangerous if it has no safety feature (1,4).

12a Admit Northern character into church’s society (7)
CONFESS – insert N(orthern) into an abbreviation for England’s established church (1,2,1) plus the ‘S, then append the abbreviation for society. It seems to me that ‘admit’ is doing double duty here because I can’t see how ‘into’ can be used to signal an insertion without a verb.

13a Perhaps rue entering class with sticky confectionery (7)
SHERBET – insert what rue is an example of into a class or group. Who remembers going to the sweetshop for a ‘penny dip’?

14a Christian society describing the ultimate object of inner light (5)
TORCH – the name of a Christian society founded by Reverend ‘Tubby’ Clayton contains the last letter of inner.

15a Gunners using craft to penetrate extremely malicious players (8)
MARKSMEN – a Biblical craft goes between the outer letters of malicious and we finish with some male players.

18a Charlie‘s plonk to go with fish (8)
DUMPLING – charade of a verb to plonk or set down heavily and an edible fish.

20a Clobber husband who’s two-timing? (5)
HABIT – the abbreviation for husband having * *** on the side.

23a Artist might need such fabric to enrich frame for canvas (7)
CRAYONS – a type of fabric goes inside the outer letters of canvas.

25a Bath for one individual, after switching plumbing fixtures (3,4)
SPA TOWN – an adjective meaning individual or personal follows the reversal of plumbing fixtures.

26a Be back at six — early screening (5)
EXIST – a reverse lurker.

27a German known to think child should wear size ten pants (9)
NIETZSCHE – the abbreviation for child is contained in an anagram (pants) of SIZE TEN.

28a Subordinate briefly dissecting cooks game (8)
DOMINOES – an adjective meaning subordinate or lesser without its last letter cuts into a verb meaning cooks.

29a French town found turning right round, then right (6)
TROYES – string together the reversal of a 2-letter abbreviation for right, the letter that’s round and a response meaning ‘right’ or ok.

Down Clues

1d Eddie awkwardly carries kitty, set aside religiously (8)
DEDICATE – an anagram (awkwardly) of EDDIE contains an adult Kitty.

2d Sort of house went quickly when up for discussion (7)
SEMINAR – a type of house is followed by the reversal of a verb meaning went quickly by foot.

3d Son rates stylish vehicle driven by the stars? (9)
SPACESHIP – string together the abbreviation for son, a noun meaning rates or speeds and an informal adjective meaning stylish or trendy.

5d Local records of the King — they’re regularly below standard, somewhat? (6,8)
PARISH REGISTER – an adjective meaning ‘of the king’ (the genitive form of the Latin word rex) and regular letters from “they’re” follow what may, cryptically, mean more or less standard.

6d Having lost crown, contended for valuable prize (5)
TROVE – a verb meaning contended or struggled without its top letter (crown).

7d Match referee finally keeps black uniform (7)
EQUABLE – a verb to match or be as good as and the final letter of referee contain the abbreviation for black.

8d Stuff thrown out in jamboree’s outside getting picked up by city volunteers (6)
EJECTA – the outer letters of jamboree are reversed and followed by the postal area of the City of London and the old abbreviation for our volunteer soldiers.

9d Help knights to probe court’s inflammatory disorder (10,4)
HOUSEMAID’S KNEE – start with a female domestic help then insert two different single-letter abbreviations for knight into a verb to court or date.

16d Each runs frantically to catch unknown dog (9)
SCHNAUZER – an anagram (frantically) of EACH RUNS containing one of the algebraic unknowns.

17d Course in college where catering’s done (4,4)
ETON MESS – charade of a Berks college and where service personnel eat.

19d One’s written on table at school? A case for the head, given united front (7)
URANIUM – I presume that the definition relates to a periodic table which may be displayed on the wall of a chemistry lab, say. This is another name for the skull with the first letter changed to U(nited).

21d Collection at church in past full of marks (7)
BLOTCHY – put a collection or considerable quantity and an abbreviation for church into a preposition meaning past.

22d Strip on bedroom floor? Spouse initially needed persuasion (6)
SCREED – this is a layer of mortar forming the top layer of a floor (I think that ‘bedroom’ is there just to make the surface more titillating). The initial letter of spouse is followed by a word for persuasion or religious belief.

24d New stands containing daily paper. Times aplenty? (5)
OFTEN – a prefix meaning new is reversed (stands, i.e. gets up) and contains the abbreviation for a daily newspaper.

For me the two clues involved in a photo finish for favouritism today are 20a and 5d. Which ones did you have on your betting slip?


  1. Hanni
    Posted June 22, 2016 at 2:24 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Blimey I found this hard. Properly hard.

    Never heard of the wine. the French town was only vaguely familiar and I made a few monumental cock ups elsewhere…oh I didn’t spot the pangram, again. Got there in the end.

    Liked 9d but my favourite is 11a because it made me smile.

    Many thanks to Osmosis and to Gazza for a great blog. Love the Nietzsche cartoon.

  2. stanXYZ
    Posted June 22, 2016 at 2:27 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Thanks to gazza and Osmosis.

    I don’t think that I will ever be able to spell 27a correctly !

    But I will think about it!

    • Hanni
      Posted June 22, 2016 at 2:39 pm | Permalink | Reply


      The advantage of a bad memory is that one enjoys several times the same good things for the first time.

      • stanXYZ
        Posted June 22, 2016 at 3:19 pm | Permalink | Reply

        “It is hard enough to remember my opinions, without also remembering my reasons for them!”
        ― Friedrich Nietzsche

  3. Posted June 22, 2016 at 2:39 pm | Permalink | Reply

    I found this hard, and with, er, not a great deal of grid filled in I availed myself of the excellent hints. I didn’t know the 4a wine, the 14a society or the 22d floor covering. Probably other things too, but those were the ones I noted.

    I would have liked 22d more if I’d known the answer, and thinking that the bedroom was necessary did not make it easier. I also liked 25a, but the clever 20a is my second favourite today. Though I don’t know any Eddies, the namecheck in 1d earns that one the prize (also, it was one of the ones I did by myself).

    Many thanks to Osmosis, and to Gazza for the illustrative and well-illustrated (I loved the 27a strip!) review.

  4. Verlaine
    Posted June 22, 2016 at 3:07 pm | Permalink | Reply

    DNF because, completely unable to parse my (correct) answers to 14a and 22d, I couldn’t be bothered any more and came to consult the blog before having found anything better for 23a than the clearly wrong CHAMOIS. I’m all in favour of a good pangram but not if it creates frustration passim. I would agree with the estimable Kitty that 20a is a fine bit of fun cluing though.

    • Verlaine
      Posted June 22, 2016 at 3:14 pm | Permalink | Reply

      Oh yes, thanks reviewer for the much-needed parsings, and setter for occupying me for longer than I expected this morning! Excellent value for money both!

  5. ShropshireLad
    Posted June 22, 2016 at 3:21 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Thoroughly enjoyable with the exception of 19d – nothing wrong with the word play just that the definition seemed to be a bit s t r e t c h e d. The one that I spent too much time on was 5d as I was convinced it had to start with ‘public’ so a good bit of misdirection there. My last area to fall was the SW corner as again I was thinking of artists for 23a – D’oh!

    Thanks to Osmosis for a challenging and fun puzzle and to Gazza for his review ( I will read it now).

    Sorry, forgot to say – 20a takes the podium place for me. V. clever.

  6. dutch
    Posted June 22, 2016 at 3:22 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Good work out! I could use the pangram to get 21d, which helped me get the French town, but my last 4 in SW took me ages. 23a was my last one in, very good clue.

    hadn’t parsed 14a so thank you Gazza

    I quite liked 27a (german…) and 9d (help knights..) but all clues were excellent, the usual Osmosis quality crossword.

    Many thanks Gazza and Osmosis

  7. halcyon
    Posted June 22, 2016 at 3:45 pm | Permalink | Reply

    A welcome return to normality after yesterday with clever wordplay and genuinely amusing clues [eg 11,20,25 -all of these favourites].
    Agree that bedroom is a bit naughty in 22d but I’m happy with 12a.
    Did anyone else have “on tap” for 11a until it didn’t fit with 7 or 8d?

    Many thanks to Osmosis for a fine puzzle and to Gazza for a fine blog.

  8. bernie
    Posted June 22, 2016 at 4:00 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Thanks greatly to Gazza and all of those who help us. I was floundering with this one.

    • ShropshireLad
      Posted June 22, 2016 at 5:53 pm | Permalink | Reply

      Just love the gravatar :good: There’s chillin’ and there’s really chillin’!

  9. jean-luc cheval
    Posted June 22, 2016 at 5:02 pm | Permalink | Reply

    That was quite a fight.
    Got on the wrong foot in so many.
    Wanted 1d to start with Dei.., an anagram of Rue in 13a, public also in 5d and chassis in 23a.
    The dog and the philosopher were the first to fall though and wondered if 26a was intentional.
    The ending in 8d was new to me but it is in the BRB.
    Favourite is 18a.
    Thanks to Osmosis and to Gazza for the review.

  10. Nairnsue
    Posted June 22, 2016 at 5:41 pm | Permalink | Reply

    This was too hard for me and I needed lots of help from the hints, so many thanks Gazza. The wine and the French town were new to me. Funnily enough I managed to spell Nietzsche but not sherbet (wanted to put an extra ‘r’ in). At least I now know what a pangram is, having looked it up in the FAQs. 11a did make me smile.

  11. Gazza
    Posted June 22, 2016 at 6:06 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Shamus tomorrow.

  12. Jane
    Posted June 22, 2016 at 7:22 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Oh dear – another one that was well outside of my pay grade. Needed 7 hints and 3 reveals to complete the grid.

    Can’t rid myself of the thought that there’s more to 19d. ‘one is’ in text speak would be ‘UR’ (written) which seemed the right way to start. Not to worry, Gazza knows far more than I can ever hope to!

    Didn’t know the wine, the French town or the ending of the ‘stuff thrown out’. Never mind, perhaps I’ve acquired a bit more knowledge.

    5d gets my vote for favourite.
    Thanks to Osmosis and very many thanks to Gazza for the explanations.

    • Gazza
      Posted June 22, 2016 at 8:00 pm | Permalink | Reply

      I too thought that there might be more to 19d – I did look up the chemical symbol for uranium which is U so I couldn’t see any way in which that helps.
      I’m surprised that neither you nor Jean-Luc appear to have come across the abbreviation TA (for Territorial Army) which turns up quite often and is normally clued as ‘volunteers’ or ‘terriers’. Actually these part-time soldiers are no longer called the Territorial Army but compilers seem not to have heard this. They’re now called the ‘Army Reserve’ – I’m waiting for a compiler to require the abbreviation for Army Reserve (South East). :D

      • Jane
        Posted June 22, 2016 at 8:15 pm | Permalink | Reply

        Hi Gazza,
        I was toying with the idea of ‘YOU ARE AN’ plus ‘IM’ for International Master ‘given’ the front of United – but it didn’t seem to quite fit the bill! Worth a try, though!
        Yes – I’m OK with TA for the part-time soldiers but hadn’t come across that noun for ‘stuff thrown out’ before today. I think JL was probably in the same camp.
        Glad it’s Shamus tomorrow – I may not get a completion but at least I know where I’m heading with him!

      • jean-luc cheval
        Posted June 22, 2016 at 8:20 pm | Permalink | Reply

        It’s not the TA that gave me trouble, it’s the word itself. Apparently it’s lava ejections but I didn’t know that.
        It’s not the only ending I had trouble with. I thought 9d was some kind of snot. Was about to call Kath on that one.

        • Hanni
          Posted June 22, 2016 at 8:26 pm | Permalink | Reply

          Some kind of snot? I have no idea where to go with that? Is Kath an expert. Brilliant. :yes:

          • jean-luc cheval
            Posted June 22, 2016 at 8:35 pm | Permalink | Reply

            This year, for some reason, my sinuses have given me hell with a lot of early pollens. Sorry to be so crude but it had to come out.

          • Gazza
            Posted June 22, 2016 at 8:36 pm | Permalink | Reply

            ‘snot unusual.

            • jean-luc cheval
              Posted June 22, 2016 at 8:45 pm | Permalink | Reply

              Good one.

            • Hanni
              Posted June 22, 2016 at 8:45 pm | Permalink | Reply

              The pollen count…now that’s a tough job. OK that jokes ‘snot very funny.

          • jean-luc cheval
            Posted June 22, 2016 at 8:48 pm | Permalink | Reply

            Forgot to answer your question.
            Kath seems to be the only person on the blog with extensive medical knowledge.
            Even if she’s a militant of a ‘bring your own sheet” kind of NHS, I trust her judgment.

            • Hanni
              Posted June 22, 2016 at 8:56 pm | Permalink | Reply

              I too trust Kath..and can do ‘proper’ corners on sheets! Impressive I know.

    • ShropshireLad
      Posted June 22, 2016 at 10:18 pm | Permalink | Reply

      My initial thought was that the ‘one’s written’ would equate to ‘IS’ and I started to think ‘isotope’ – but when the checkers pointed to Uranium, that threw that idea out of the window. Therefore, the definition has to be ‘One’s written on table at school?’ with the word play is as it says on the tin. I just think it’s an ambiguous clue.

      • Gazza
        Posted June 22, 2016 at 10:27 pm | Permalink | Reply

        I just thought that the definition was a bit woolly.

        • ShropshireLad
          Posted June 22, 2016 at 11:05 pm | Permalink | Reply

          I think that’s what I initially said – but for me it didn’t detract from the overall enjoyment of the puzzle.

          BTW – you have mail

  13. 2Kiwis
    Posted June 22, 2016 at 7:44 pm | Permalink | Reply

    We found this one tough enough to keep us out of mischief for quite some time. We did note the pangram but not in time to give any assistance with the solving. Trying to make jetsam work for 8d held us up for a little while. It was giving us some very difficult checking letters. Eventually it was all sorted with just a couple of places where we had to check things, including the spelling of 27a.
    A significant challenge and good fun to solve.
    Thanks Osmosis and Gazza.

  14. Wolfson Bear
    Posted June 22, 2016 at 9:42 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Definitely a tricky one but tend to agree it was not one of Osmosis’ best.

    I did not have time yesterday to comment on the Excalibur puzzle. I also agreed with most comments – the most recent challenges from the setter have been pretty good but this one was a bit odd in a way that is difficult to explain. I dont understand the “Star Wars” description but then I am not a fan of those films

    Still I am happy to pay the subscription if the toughies live up to the name which they are this week (so far)

    Thanks to Osmosis and Gazza today (and Excalibur and Kitty I believe for yesterday)

    • jean-luc cheval
      Posted June 22, 2016 at 10:22 pm | Permalink | Reply

      Yoda is a character in star wars who says things like.
      Powerful you have become. The force I sense in you.
      A bit like some of the clues.

  15. Expat Chris
    Posted June 22, 2016 at 9:50 pm | Permalink | Reply

    I’m still working on this so avoiding the hints and comments for a bit. I’m less than halfway through and bloody-mindedness has kicked in now. It could be a long night.

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