Toughie 1641

Toughie No 1641 by Osmosis

Hints and tips by Gazza

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BD Rating – Difficulty ***Enjoyment ***

I’ve been having intermittent Internet problems all morning so I’m keeping my fingers crossed that I can publish this. This is a typical Osmosis offering with lots of detailed wordplay (though with more proper names than usual) and it’s what Kitty might call a Goldilocks Toughie – not too soft, not too hard. It’s also a pangram.

Toughieland is a very sombre place today following the announcement this morning of the death of John Pidgeon (Petitjean). Through his puzzles here and on the back page he brought us a great deal of fun and he will be sadly missed.

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

Across Clues

1a One takes in how US pop idol introduces himself? First European’s ignored (7)
IMBIBER – this pop idol might introduce himself as 1’1,6 – then we have to remove the first E(uropean). I thought that this character was from Canada rather than the US but perhaps Canada has disowned him (who could blame them?).

5a Perform as a group supporting? (7)
BEARING – split the answer 2,1,4 for ‘perform as a group’.

9a Note found near half a crown (5)
TIARA – a charade of a note from tonic sol-fa, half of the word near and A.

10a Country‘s fifty-one day frenzy, as money disappears (9)
LITHUANIA – string together the Roman numeral for fifty-one, an abbreviated day of the week and a synonym for frenzy or hysteria without the abbreviation for money.

11a Musical character felt laid back about awkward celeb on right (6,4)
TREBLE CLEF – reverse the word felt and insert an anagram (awkward) of CELEB following R(ight).

12a Religious book for kids (4)
ACTS – double definition, the second a verb meaning pretends.

14a Poet‘s deep sentimentality regularly detains you, when reflecting (6,6)
SEAMUS HEANEY – string together what ‘the deep’ means poetically, a word for cloying sentimentality, regular letters from ‘detains’ and the reversal of an old word for ‘you’.

18a Dark film? How you might fix picture in short advert, adjusting (8,3,1)
WITHNAIL AND I – start with how you might fix a picture (4,4) and add an anagram (adjusting) of IN and AD[vert].

21a Someone in authority reformed financial centre (4)
EXEC – as 2,2 this could be a one-time financial centre. I’m not sure that former necessarily means reformed.

22a Unbalanced novice climbers might fall thus (3,3,4)
OFF THE WALL – double definition. Think of a facility where novices may learn to climb without being exposed to a real mountain.

25a Author and publicist teach criminal tons over time (9)
PRATCHETT – a publicist is a ** person. Add an anagram (criminal) of TEACH and the abbreviation for tons then insert T(ime).

26a Yellow jumper perhaps put back — it might be loud in church (5)
ORGAN – a word for yellow or gold is followed by the reversal of an animal which may be trained as a jumper.

27a Definitive book by old rocker on Queen turned aside (7)
AVERTED – the abbreviation for an English translation of the Bible is followed by the Queen’s regnal cipher and a rocker of the 1950s.

28a Expert describes type of music centre in range sceptically (7)
ASKANCE – an expert contains a type of music which originated in Jamaica and the central letter of range.

Down Clues

1d Completely enthusiastic about tango after vacation (2,4)
IN TOTO – a preposition meaning ‘enthusiastic about’ followed by tango without its core letters.

2d Unashamed style of meditation, having underwear on (6)
BRAZEN – a style of meditation preceded by an item of underwear.

3d Part of cricket averages will include Yorkshire’s opener, certainly (2,3,5)
BY ALL MEANS – what could, cryptically as (4,5), be the average strike rates achieved by a bowler (i.e. the frequency of taking wickets) contains the opening letter of Yorkshire.

4d Memorial of antiquity council erected partially, in hindsight (5)
RELIC – hidden in reverse.

5d Picked up ticket over Easter, travelling somewhere in London (9)
BATTERSEA – reverse a ticket or label and add an anagram (travelling) of EASTER.

6d Blue Plaque’s taking centre stage on front of apartment (4)
AQUA – the middle letters (taking central stage) of “plaque’s” followed by the front letter of apartment.

7d Honest pub, old and beamed, we hear (8)
INNOCENT – join together another word for pub, the abbreviation for old and what sounds like a verb meaning beamed or transmitted.

8d Patch might hide this new ball (5,3)
GLASS EYE – cryptic definition of a replacement orb.

13d Piece of sewer complex lowered kilometres beneath Tyneside (10)
NEEDLEWORK – an anagram (complex) of LOWERED and the abbreviation for kilometres follow the abbreviation for the region of England where Tyneside is found. I love ‘piece of sewer’.

15d Vilification besets one having abused rifle in site full of bunkers (9)
MUIRFIELD – a word for vilification or slander contains the Roman numeral for one and an anagram (abused) of RIFLE. This site full of bunkers is also, according to a recent vote there, a site full of misogynists.

16d It’s a relief to intercept pest damaging a plant (5,3)
SWEET PEA – what offers relief if one’s bursting goes inside an anagram (damaging) of PEST then we finish with A.

17d Resting place includes endlessly strange accommodation on board (8)
STEERAGE – a resting place on a journey contains an adjective meaning strange or frightening without its last letter.

19d Japanese gas, using vernacular (6)
JARGON – the abbreviation for Japanese followed by an inert gas. I did try to discover if letters 2-4 of the answer were an abbreviation for a gas so that I could use the last two letters to mean ‘using’. However, I was unsuccessful so I have to assume that ‘using’ here is just a link word.

20d With recording over, start to go inside a French dive (6)
PLUNGE – reverse a recording then insert the first letter of ‘go’ into a French word for ‘a’.

23d The hollow craft picked up swimmer (5)
TETRA – ‘The’ without its middle letter is followed by the reversal of a craft or skill.

24d Make a bolt one day securing club’s entrance (4)
SCAT – ‘make a bolt’ here means ‘leg it’. An abbreviated day of the week contains the first letter of club.

I liked 16d but my favourite clue today is 13d for the cryptic definition. Which one(s) grabbed you?


  1. crypticsue
    Posted July 20, 2016 at 2:08 pm | Permalink | Reply

    I read through the Acrosses and several of the Downs and thought this was going to be a proper beast but then everything fell into place, helped when I realised it was going to be a Pangram, and I finished in a time I’d have spent on a slightly harder than normal backpager.

    Thanks to Osmosis and Gazza too.

  2. dutch
    Posted July 20, 2016 at 2:10 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Bit of a shock reading about PetitJean – RIP

    Things slowed down a lot when I got half way down this puzzle. Didn’t know the poet, the movie or the link and felt relieved (not in the 16d way) when I could work them out slowly from wordplay and checkers. I was already pleased I’d worked out the ‘somewhere in London’.

    Quite an effort I thought, last one in was 21a

    I especially liked 13a, could see the answer but took me a while to parse – well, many were like that…

    Many thanks Osmosis for the challenge and fun and thank you Gazza for the review

  3. Jezza
    Posted July 20, 2016 at 3:07 pm | Permalink | Reply

    I missed the pangram completely, but that wouldn’t have helped me with my last one in 14a (which I had to cheat on).

    A fair challenge for a Wednesday; thanks to Osmosis, and to Gazza.

  4. Nairnsue
    Posted July 20, 2016 at 5:39 pm | Permalink | Reply

    I didn’t get 18a and 21a, but everything else went in ok so I feel quite happy. Thanks for pointing out the pangram. One of these days I will get in the mindset to (a) think about it and (b) possibly even recognise one. Meanwhile, thanks to Osmosis and Gazza for an enjoyable puzzle and helpful review.

  5. crypticsue
    Posted July 20, 2016 at 5:54 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Shamus tomorrow

  6. Una
    Posted July 20, 2016 at 6:05 pm | Permalink | Reply

    A really quite tough Toughie, though it must be in the Goldilocks category since I managed most of it.
    Seamus Heaney is considered a national treasure, and I had heard of the film but the links got me . I was tempted to write ” minefield”.

    Favourites (ahem) are 13d and 22a.
    Thanks Osmosis and Gazza.
    John Pidgeon will be sadly missed.

  7. Jane
    Posted July 20, 2016 at 6:57 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Had to look at the hint for 18a (judging by the clip I’m not sorry I didn’t know the film!) and also for 5a where I’d confidently filled in ‘backing’ which made 6d impossible.
    Managed the cricket clue simply by taking ‘ball’ which seemed like a fairly essential part of cricket, adding ‘means’ and then slotting in the first letter of Yorkshire. Well……it worked.
    Needed to confirm the swimmer – new one for me.
    13d gets the laurel wreath.

    Thanks to Osmosis and many thanks to the knight in shining armour for the last minute rescue.

  8. Sheffieldsy
    Posted July 20, 2016 at 8:12 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Quite tough, perhaps 3.5* for difficulty, but some lovely clueing so we gave it 4* for enjoyment. Failed to spot the pangram, but doing so wouldn’t have helped us much.

    Agree with Gazza about the beauty of ‘piece of sewer’. Like Dutch, 21a was last one in, but with hindsight we can’t see why we couldn’t get it much earlier. We agree with Gazza’s comment about the link in 19d – it would surely have been a better clue with ‘in’ instead of ‘using’. So, nobody to disagree with today.

    28a is probably our favourite with a special mention to 8d and 16d.

    Osmosis does come up with some corking surfaces, doesn’t he/she? It’s often difficult for us to find a way in to his/her clues, we find.

    Thanks to Gazza for the review. Thanks to Osmosis for the puzzle. RIP Petitjean.

  9. Wolfson Bear
    Posted July 20, 2016 at 8:17 pm | Permalink | Reply

    I found this quite tricky with a few unknown words. I even struggled with the golf course despite having played there in the 1970s. They not only had something against women but teenage males as well. The secretary cum captain was not someone quickly forgotten! And many of the famous bunkers were almost sand-free making them nearly impossible –

    Thanks to Osmosis and Gazza

  10. jean-luc cheval
    Posted July 20, 2016 at 8:33 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Started quite well but came to a total standstill with 14a, 8d and 15d.
    Lost the plot and gave up.
    Never mind.
    What I solved was fun.
    Thanks to osmosis and to Gazza.

  11. LetterboxRoy
    Posted July 20, 2016 at 8:38 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Not getting this today – it’s a desk-sitter for me.

  12. Posted July 20, 2016 at 9:40 pm | Permalink | Reply

    My solve took the opposite pattern to CS’s: I started off well but struggled later. I finally threw in the towel with three left (21a, 27a and 17d) and consulted the oracle. It’s too hot to choose a favourite.

    Maybe (just maybe – I have my doubts) this would have been a Goldilocks Toughie on a cooler day without the severe lack of sleep. As it was, it was too Daddy Bear’s porridge and my head was too Mummy bear’s bed. I’m Baby Bear’s chair now. :wacko:

    Many thanks to Osmosis and to Gazza.

  13. Expat Chris
    Posted July 20, 2016 at 10:26 pm | Permalink | Reply

    I was left with 14A, a gentleman I’m not familiar with, and 21A. Not sure what the financial center is. Is EC the London financial district location? I found some of the proper names a struggle but managed and then Googled for confirmation. No favorites, but I do want to add that the Canadian that 1A refers to would not be welcomes this side of the border by anyone over the age of 14 with two functioning brain cells. Thanks Osmosis and Gazza.

    • Gazza
      Posted July 20, 2016 at 10:59 pm | Permalink | Reply

      Yes, EC is the postal code for the City of London.

    • jean-luc cheval
      Posted July 20, 2016 at 11:04 pm | Permalink | Reply

      14a was just impossible.I started by taking the odd letters of deep sentimentality and thought: Here it is: It’s Desnos. Couldn’t remember his first name. Robert as it happens. Didn’t fit so I thought it was Desnos Desnos because of the reflecting bit.
      I do like a laugh when solving but it never gets me anywhere.

      • Expat Chris
        Posted July 20, 2016 at 11:09 pm | Permalink | Reply

        I think it’s one of those where most of us have to guess the answer from the checkers and then work backwards for the parsing. Too bad if you don’t know the person in question.

        • Salty Dog
          Posted July 20, 2016 at 11:44 pm | Permalink | Reply

          That’s certainly my method! If all else fails, bung a word in and sort out how the clue was supposed to work afterwards. I found this quite tricky, so a solid 3* for difficulty, but quite satisfying to solve (4* for that). My favourite just has to be 25a. I’ve just finished re-reading “Monstrous Regiment” and can’t wait to do the same to every other Discworld novel in my collection. Thanks to Osmosis and Gazza.

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