Toughie 1671 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 1671

Toughie No 1671 by Osmosis

Hints and tips by Dutch

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

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

Gosh, my youngest (daughter Morgan, 11) has started high school. Then this morning my wife caught me by surprise by saying happy anniversary. Oh dear – better sort out a Thai lunch again, just like last year. Can I blame it on Osmosis? Probably not.

It’s easy to appreciate the precise yet subtle clueing in Osmosis puzzles. Combined with some clever surface readings, we have an enjoyable solve – though I didn’t find it an easy one.

The definition parts of the clues below are underlined. Please leave a comment telling us what you thought.


6a    Director in Mr Bean raging frantically when disrupted by Mark (6,7)
INGMAR BERGMAN: A Swedish director, an anagram (frantically) of MR BEAN RAGING interrupted by M(ark)

8a    Jazz type introduces appropriate medley (6)
RAGBAG: A type of Jazz comes before a 3-letter verb meaning to appropriate

9a    A few wrote harshly, dissecting Japanese artist (3,2,3)
ONE OR TWO: An anagram (harshly) of WROTE goes inside (dissecting) a Japanese artist who was married to John Lennon

10a    Half of Chinese course is missing — it’s a problem (3)
SUM: The second half of a (3,3) collective word for small Chinese bite-sized portions of food, traditionally served in the morning

11a    Excuse what models do on business? (3-3)
COP-OUT: How models may push out their lips follows ‘on’ (Osmosis nicely follows the convention that ‘on’ in an across clue means to the right of, as in ‘added on’) the standard abbreviation for business or company

12a    Men on duty escorting celeb stripping in lift (8)
ELEVATOR: Starting at the back: a 2-letter abbreviation for serving men follows (on) a 3-letter abbreviation for a duty or tax, which in turn is next to (escorting) a stripped (c)ELE(b)

14a    Report‘s unusual, renouncing odd characters in firm (7)
HANSARD: The even letters in uNuSuAl go inside a word meaning firm (opposite of soft) to give the traditional name of printed reports of parliamentary debates

16a    Select items from bird’s clothing section (7)
TITBITS: A small songbird’s (don’t forget the ‘s) goes around (clothing) a section or piece

20a    Son leaving Euston moved on to embrace religious person (8)
HUGUENOT: An anagram (moved) of EU(s)TON (where Son has left) ‘on’ (again, to the right of) a 3-letter verb meaning to embrace

23a    Dispersed trousers, back to front, close to fan (6)
STREWN: Take a 5-letter word for trousers (especially tartan ones, apparently) and move the last letter to the front. Then add the last letter (close) of faN

24a    Bitter ordered, and whisky (3)
RYE: A homophone (ordered) of a 3-letter word for bitter (as in bitter humour, perhaps)

25a    Daily swings seen in nick, one latterly unpunished (4-4)
SCOT-FREE: The 2-letter abbreviation for a pink newspaper (daily) is reversed (swings) and placed inside a 5-letter word for nick. Then add the last letter (latterly) of onE

26a    Parky‘s having hot meal when on the radio (6)
CHILLY: A homophone (when on the radio) of a hot meal


27a    Born comic, entertaining people, tours English tourist area (7,6)
NORFOLK BROADS: An anagram (comic) of BORN goes around a 4-letter word for people, plus a word that I would normally associate with streets or highways but also means tours according to definition 11 in Chambers



1d    Footwear transported to us split by journey around Britain (3,5)
UGG BOOTS: Anagram (transported) of TO US has inserted (split by) a 2-letter verb meaning to journey or to travel around the abbreviation for Great Britain.

2d    Crook, in distress, as bug endlessly takes hold (8)
GANGSTER: A 5-letter word for distress or anxiety is surrounded by a 4-letter word for a bug or bacterium without the final letter (endlessly)

3d    Brother, overcome by American mountain, needing guts (7)
ABDOMEN: A 3-letter brother of the religious type (eg Benedictine) is surrounded (overcome) by the single-letter abbreviation for American plus a Scottish mountain

4d    Architectural feature‘s lavish, attracting Italian and unknown separately (6)
FRIEZE: A 4-letter word for lavish or unrestrained has inserted into it the one letter abbreviation for I(talian) and (in a separate place – nice to see this indicated even though the surface suffers) one of the letters generally used as an algebraic unknown

5d    Mafioso custom, ultimately about upholding reserve? (6)
OMERTA: The ultimate letters of mafiosO and custoM, a reversal (upholding) of a 2-letter word meaning about or concerning, plus the abbreviation for a volunteer reserve army. The answer is a word for the Mafia code of honour of silence about criminal activities, defined by the whole clue – so this is an all-in-one, where the wordplay also takes up the whole clue.

6d    Is song and dance by artist dull alongside cooler dancer? (7,6)
ISADORA DUNCAN: IS from the clue, a 3-letter word for song and dance, or fuss, and the usual abbreviation for artist give this dancer’s first name. Then for the surname, we have a 3-letter word which is a brownish colour but can also mean dull or dusky, followed by a slang word for prison (cooler)

7d    It’s down under ‘Just Arrived’ where Caerphilly’s found (3,5,5)
NEW SOUTH WALES: A 3-letter word describing something that is recent, or has ‘Just arrived’, followed by the (5,5) location of Caerphilly

13d    Fully examine heads of victims experiencing trauma (3)
VET: An acrostic clue – first letters (heads) of the last 3 words

15d    Card‘s electronic account switched over (3)
ACE: The abbreviations for E(lectronic) and AC(count), in reverse order (switched over)

17d    Current rogue in court’s apprehensive (8)
INSECURE: A 2-letter word for current or trendy, then a 3-letter word for a rogue or scoundrel inside a word meaning to court or date

18d    Academic, principally religious writer has article for Watchtower (8)
BARBICAN: A person with a bachelor’s degree in arts (academic), the first letter of (principally) Religious, a 3-letter brand name of a ballpoint pen (writer), and a 2-letter article

19d    Oddball forbidding female in pig enclosure produces particular bacon? (7)
STREAKY: A 5-letter oddball or eccentric without the initial F (forbidding female) goes inside a pig enclosure

21d    Improving trend from pitcher after university training (6)
UPTURN: A pitcher or vase follows the abbreviations for University and Physical Training

22d    Intolerant revolutionary conducted debate (6)
NARROW: Reversal of a word meaning conducted or managed plus a word meaning debate or argument

My favourite is 8a, for the smooth surface and subtle misleads throughout. I also liked 11a and 6d. Please let us know which clues you liked

29 comments on “Toughie 1671

  1. Thanks to Osmosis and Dutch. We usually get lots of reversals and complicated wordplay from Osmosis but we didn’t get too much today, so I thought that this was one of his more straightforward puzzles. My favourite clue was 5d.
    Like Dutch I had to visit the BRB to persuade myself that roads is a synonym for tours (27a) and I still can’t think of a phrase where the two are interchangeable.

    1. I had solved it in 3* time but with some electronic help, so I thought I should rate it 4* for difficulty. In light of the first two comments, I’ll revise that to 3*.

      1. I’d leave it as your first impression. I think that the perception of difficulty can vary enormously depending on whether or not you solve one or two key clues early on. In my case 6a and 7d went in almost straight away which opened up the grid nicely.

  2. Even if the dancer in 6d helped to open up the left side, I was still left with 14a unsolved.
    Favourite is 12a.
    Thanks to Osmosis and to Dutch.

  3. Managed to get to this first thing today, so with brain working as well as it can, I was able to solve in good time. Not sure if it would be the same if I started it now. An enjoyable ***+/***+ for me.

  4. Got 1,2&7d early on, which gave me the opportunity to do a ‘write in now, work out later’ for 6a&6d – hence a good way into the grid.
    A couple of new indicators for me – ‘ordered’ for a homophone in 24a and ‘upholding’ for a reversal in 5d. Sadly, I probably won’t remember them and they certainly played havoc with the parsing of those two clues.
    Tried to fit ‘neurotic’ into 17d – an anagram of ROGUE/IN/CT. If it hadn’t been for that random G I’d have made it!

    Top two on my list were 11a & 18d.
    Thanks to Osmosis and also to Dutch – where is that lift?!!!

  5. Like Gazza I got 6a/7d right away and this was a breeze for me compared with yesterday’s. Loved 5d but my standout is the impeccably misleading 20a, perfect surface & perfect structure.

    Thanks to Osmosis for the fun and Dutch for the blog: but seriously, who garnishes their chilli with basil??

      1. You’re right LBR- I hadn’t spotted that.
        It might be a case of FFF [fake food fotography] in which the highly paid snapper requires extraneous ingredients to be inserted [said ingredients don’t even figure in the recipe] in order to make the dish look a lot better than it would’ve looked – even if it tastes great without being mucked about with. There’s a lot of it about.

  6. Apart from a few clues, not much fun for me.
    Who on earth is 6a or 6d? (I don’t really want to know…) That got me grumbling. 6a was 50 the year I was born, and the other one, apparently, died 41 years before I was born. It’s not as if they’re kings, or queens, or important in any way…
    I was reluctantly educated by 5d, 14a & 20a so not a total loss I suppose.

    Nevertheless, thanks to all as ever.

    1. I think they’re considered important because of the influence they had on the future development of the areas in which they excelled. Think I’d settle for being as ‘unimportant’ as they were!

  7. Apart from the very entertaining Micawber on Wednesday, I found this week’s Toughies sadly boring. Better luck next week

  8. We knew both 6a and 6d (as opposed to the minor politician in the back-pager) so not a problem there for us. Think that we struggled less with this one than we often do with Osmosis puzzles although it still was not a quick solve and we agree with Dutch’s rating. Lots of good clues to appreciate and enjoy.
    Thanks Osmosis and Dutch.

    1. Yes, 6a and 6d are both very famous 20th century figures. But Isadora Duncan is probably mostly remembered for the terrible circumstances of her death – she was strangled by a very long silk scarf when it got tangled in the rear wheel of her open-top car. What an awful way to go!

  9. My 11 year old daughter also started secondary school this week. I think I’ve been more nervous than her…

    I needed a couple of hints, even though I’d solved 6a and 7d quickly like Gazza (there the similarity of solving prowess ends).

    Thanks to Dutch and Osmosis.

  10. 3* difficulty, but I confess to having profited from a few inspired “bung-ins” (for which I refuse to apologise, because I need all the inspiration I can get for a Friday Toughie). 18d was my favourite, even though I have a soft spot for 20a by virtue of a Huguenot ancestor. Many thanks to Osmosis and Dutch.

    1. You are not alone.
      Aso a newcomer to the Toughie there seems almost a leap in faith between the backpage & this sort of puzzle.
      Perhaps I should try Jeroboam’s method & tackle the Toughie first whilst my “brain” is only half dead.
      Thanks to Osmosis & Dutch

  11. Mrs Sheffieldsy started this yesterday evening while I was on a beer and curry night with some former work colleagues. Unbelievably, I added three when I got home at half past midnight in a pretty bad way (could have been more than three if the clues had stayed still). We finished it just now as I was completing my rehabilitation/rehydration with a bacon sandwich and copious cups of tea.

    Needed Dutch’s hints for 4d and 6d, so quite a struggle leading to 4*/3* from us.

    Unlike LBR, had heard of 6a and 6d, but Mrs Sheffieldsy hadn’t. It’s that age difference showing again.

    Favourite clue was the lovely 11a – a great combination of construction and excellent surface.

    Thanks, of course, to Dutch and Osmosis

  12. What a difference a day makes. I picked the puzzle up this morning and 6A just leapt off the page, as did 6D. From then on it was a reasonably steady solve, with 20A and 22D the last two in. of course I had a good few “see” first-parse later answers but I’m not a purist. Lots to like so I’m not singling out any particular clues for mention. Thanks Osmosis and Dutch.

    1. More confirmation, if confirmation was needed, that there is a bit of your brain at the back that works away all on its own solving the clues while the front of the brain and the rest of you does something entirely different.

      1. I do so agree. Many’s the time I’ve woken up and the answer to a clue that’s been puzzling me is just ‘there’.

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