Toughie 1655

Toughie No 1655 by Osmosis

Watch out – The Grumpy Old Man is back!

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BD Rating – Difficulty ****Enjoyment **

Dutch will be away for the next three Fridays, and you will have a different blogger for each of them.

I found this puzzle to be difficult but lacking in that “je ne sais quoi”, as Jean-Luc might say. A lot of the wordplay was contrived, and, for me, there were none of those “penny drop” moments, just a succession of groans. Maybe I’m getting grumpy in my old age!

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    Actress makes connection outside to doctor on call (4,7)
JOAN COLLINS: a verb meaning makes a connection around an anagram (to doctor) of ON CALL

7a    Country‘s capital hosting conservation group a month back (7)
ANTIGUA: a two-letter expression meaning capital or top class around our usual conservation group and followed by the reversal of the three-letter abbreviation of a month of the year

8a    Successfully carry through ram, maybe (3,4)
PUT OVER: carry out the instructions in the answer and you get a ram

10a    Shock a friend, preferring the back of topaz to its front (5)
AMAZE: start with the A from the clue and a friend, then insert the final letter (back) of T[opa]Z in place of the first (front) of the same word

11a    Perhaps noble artist‘s career beginning to wane by 2000? (9)
FLYWEIGHT: boxing is known as the noble art, so to get one of its proponents a verb meaning to career or rush is followed by the initial letter (beginning) of W[ane] and the time represented in the 12-hour clock by twenty hundred hours

12a    One offering seat to sit on nags pathetic layabout — not I (7)
SADLER: a three-letter adjective meaning pathetic followed by a layabout without the I

14a    Relatively rude boy drinks a sherry oddly (7)
COARSER: an interjection meaning boy! or fancy! around (drinks) the A from the clue and followed by the odd letters of S[h]E[r]R[y]

15a    Retired people‘s impudence unconfined at institute (7)
EMERITI: these retired people, such as retired university professors, are derived by dropping (unconfined) the initial T and final Y from a word meaning impudence and adding I(nstitute)

18a    After months, US chopper picks up North Islander (7)
MANXMAN: M(onths) is followed by the US word for a man who wields a chopper around (picks up) N(orth)

20a    Collected mug and badge with number at end cut in half (9)
ASSEMBLED: a mug or fool is followed by a badge with its final letter reduced to a Roman numeral of half the value – EMBLEM with M (1000) replaced by D (500) if you still don’t get it

21a    Tender tune essentially lost on rock band, in short (5)
QUOTE: start with T[un]E, drop its middle letters (essentially lost) and precede it (on in an across clue) with the shortened version of the name of a famous rock band

22a    Sat perhaps with fixed gaze, blocking out European sun for Byron (7)
DAYSTAR: start with what Sat is as part of a week then add a fixed gaze without (blocking out) the E(uropean)

23a    Part of London where learner is to sign when contracted? (7)
INITIAL: not a part of London like Brixton, but where in the word London you will find the L(earner) – not a full signature but the abbreviated version (when contracted) used for amendments etc.

24a    Ex-Olympic hurdler working classes at track maintains keen edge (5,6)
DAVID HEMERY: the name of this ex-Olympic hurdler is derived by putting the socio-economic classes regarded as working classes and the abbreviation of the track on which trains run around an adjective meaning keen and an edge


1d    Jack runs away from county’s peninsula (7)
JUTLAND: J(ack) followed by an English county without (away from) its initial letter R(uns)

2d    A predator nearly pulled up seaweed, etc (5)
ALGAE: the A from the clue followed by the reversal (pulled up in a down clue) of most of (nearly) a predator

3d    Male element entertained by daily channel (7)
CHAMFER: M(ale) and the chemical symbol for a metallic element inside a daily cleaner

4d    Type of recording made by brass that’s lower in auditorium (3-4)
LIP-SYNC: brass or cheek is followed by what sounds like (in auditorium) a verb meaning to lower or plunge

5d    Where a fathom’s used as a rule? (2,3,4)
IN THE MAIN: where might one use a nautical measure?

6d    Army one’s left faces wild people (7)
SAVAGES: the abbreviation for a church army is followed by a word meaning faces from which I (one) and the S from ‘S have been dropped (left)

7d    Woman, as you’d expect in Australian country, who flew huge distances (4,7)
ALAN SHEPARD: the female pronoun and the score in golf that is expected by the professional players and dreamed of by the amateurs both inside A(ustralian) and a country or territory gives the name the first-ever US astronaut

9d    Writer from Thunderer edited lines (4,7)
RUTH RENDELL: an anagram (edited) of THUNDERER followed by L(ine) and L(ine)

13d    Fifty-four keeping time to rousing musical theme (9)
LEITMOTIV: Roman numerals for fifty-four around (keeping) an anagram (rousing) of TIME TO

16d    Did try from England’s leader finally impress Express newsman? (7)
ESSAYED: a charade of the initial letter (leader) of E[ngland], the final letter of [impres]S, a verb meaning to express or state and our usual newsman / journalist

17d    Poorly educated William, putting book down, visibly embarrassed (3-4)
ILL-BRED: start with the shorted version of William, move the B(ook) down to the end and add the colour that represents being visibly embarrassed

18d    Labour supporter stupid to upset ‘the other half’? (7)
MIDWIFE: nothing to do with those supporting the much-troubled political party, this labour is childbirth – the reversal (to upset in a down clue) of a three-letter adjective meaning stupid is followed by a chap’s “other half”

19d    Fancy covering old swimming-pool to the ceiling with grey tones? (7)
MOODILY: an interjection meaning fancy! or (like in 14 Across) boy! around O(ld) and the reversal (to the ceiling in a down clue) of a swimming pool

21d    Parisian who half-read paper (5)
QUIRE: the French (Parisian) for who followed by the first half of RE[ad]

Next Friday you will be in the capable hands of Crypticsue.


  1. jean-luc cheval

    Made a total mess of the NE having “chamber” in 3d and “get over” in 8a.
    Had to google the hurdler once I got his first name unlike 7d for which I thought it was Adam somebody.
    Liked the two 18s.
    Thanks to Osmosis and to BD for the review.

  2. halcyon

    As a fellow GOM I agree with you BD. Whilst this was quite tough it was not one of Osmosis’s more witty puzzles. Not quite as cornery as yesterdays but still had to be solved in quarters. I liked 12a for its definition and thought “tender” was quite cunning in 21a but that’s about it. Not sure about the “grey tones” in 19d either. Nice symmetry about the peripheral names but had to google both the astronaut and the hurdler. Didn’t quite make it as a pangram either!

    Thanks for the blog and thanks Osmosis for the puzzle.

  3. crypticsue

    I’d give it 4*/3* – I did toy with the idea that it might be a pangram which did help a bit with some of the solving (as far as I can see only K is missing)

    I actually remember the hurdler hurdling – which according to Google, happened a year or so before I started solving cryptic crosswords!

    Thanks to Osmosis and the Grumpy One.

  4. LetterboxRoy

    This is difficult and not yet finished, but very enjoyable. Wish it was Sunday morning instead of Friday afternoon!
    I was expecting a pangram looking at the letters I have so far…

  5. Expat Chris

    My heart sunk when I saw that the perimeter clues were all people names, but 9D was easy for this huge fan. 1A was no problem either. I had to google the last name of 24A, and to my shame…after spending too much time looking for an aviatrix…I had to cheat on 7D even with all the checking letters. I had ‘get over’ for 8A, too, so settled for log (type of info recording) sync for 4D thinking it might be a computer term. But otherwise I I managed to complete the grid just fine. 9D was my only tick and would have been my favorite anyway because I love her work. Thanks to Osmosis and BD.

  6. JB

    I am overcome with admiration for the GOM!
    I managed just 2 answers and one of those was wrong ( like Jean Luc I had “chamber” for 3d) I really hated this. I was misled with 7d and went down the Amy Johnson route quite sure the answer was a woman and as for 1a…. just how many actresses are there out there far worthier of the name? (miauw!!) I’m not sure I approve of real people in a crossword unless it is the weekend general knowledge one.
    Definitely the ” G” stands for “grand”.

  7. Kitty

    Wilting in the heat, I used many a cheat: this was a puzzle for the solving elite. Thanks to Osmosis and thanks to BD: I hope that the weekend sees you much less grumpy.

    • Jane

      Failed on the last two – 8a, for which I could kick myself, and – as a consequence – 4d because I hadn’t fully parsed either 11 or 14a and thought my answer to those might have been incorrect.
      Balderdash – it’s all so simple when you look at the review!

      Thanks to Osmosis and the greatest of respect to BD for having all the answers.

  8. 2Kiwis

    Although we ended up with a completed correct grid there were three answers where we had not got all the wordplay. Did not twig how eight became 2000 (should have got that one). 23a we thought that there might have been an unfamiliar to us acronym (we were wrong) and in 24a we had the two key words and the track of the wordplay but rejected the D and E meanings as unlikely. We of course had to use Google to find the hurdler but did know the other three names. Thinking that we were heading for a pangram helped us is the SE even though the puzzle ended up a K short. We also thought we were getting a mention in 18a but that was not to be either. As is usual with Notabilis, a real challenge for us and satisfying to get as far as we did.
    Thanks Notabilis and BD

  9. Wolfson Bear

    I would agree with the 4* difficulty and that it was not one of Osmosis’ better ones

    I failed to get the 8/2000 connection which annoyed me all afternoon as it is not so subtle

    Thanks to setter and BD

  10. LetterboxRoy

    Yep, properly tough, but I did enjoy it. Took two sittings and some hints for about half of it.
    I am not keen on names in cryptic crosswords either, and I’m not sure about 19d…

    How on earth BD worked this one out is beyond me; respect to you, sir!

    ****+/**** Thank you to all as ever.


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