Toughie 1687

Toughie No 1687 by Osmosis

Hints and tips by Dutch

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

I didn’t know the setter until I received an email from Cryptic Sue this morning, after the solve. It wasn’t who I thought it was, but looking more closely I ought to have known. I found this quite hard, not at all helped by a night in the pub moaning about our government. On several occasions I got completely stuck and couldn’t find a way forward for what seemed like ages, so at the time I did not particularly enjoy the solve – BUT, as often happens, on doing the review I appreciated the clues much more – some are really quite clever.

As always, finding the definition is half the battle – certainly in this puzzle – and it is underlined for you in each of the clues below. That, plus the hint, should allow you to solve the clue, but if you get stuck you can always reveal the answer by clicking the THE ANSWER button. Please leave a comment telling us how you got on and what you thought of the puzzle.


1a    Strongly urge her to broadcast limiting choice of vote (6)
EXHORT: An anagram (broadcast) of HER TO goes around (limiting) the mark you put on a ballot paper when you vote

4a    Pack gathering outside primarily occupy rally — this one? (8)
JAMBOREE: A 3-letter verb meaning to pack or squeeze plus a 3-letter word for a gathering of people (e.g. in a spelling competition) around the first letters of O(ccupy) R(ally). Perhaps the whole clue is an extended definition, since pack can refer to cub scouts.











9a    Poem given weight when switching start and finish (6)
SONNET: The preferred metric name for thousands of kilograms, swapping the first and last letter

10a    Overstate self-inflicted error overturned by Gunners with first half of game in retreat (2,3,3)
GO TOO FAR: A reversal (overturned) of the abbreviation for a stupid mistake in football that adversely affects the score, and then a reversal (in retreat) of the abbreviation for the Royal Artillery (Gunners) plus the first half of the beautiful game with overpaid players mentioned earlier in this hint

12a    Had a laugh with bird, drained the wine (8)
TITTERED: A 3-letter bird, a ‘drained’ T(h)E, and a wine (not white)

13a    Famine runs through lethal plague (6)
DEARTH: The abbreviation for R(uns) goes inside a deadly plague (appropriately named)

15a    Novel drink’s in blue (9,4)
WATERSHIP DOWN: A not-very-exciting drink, the ‘S from the clue, a 3-letter word meaning in or trendy, and a 4-letter word meaning blue or depressed

18a    Poet‘s extremely nervous entering bigger complex sort of key’s needed to open (5,8)
ALLEN GINSBERG: The extremes of N(ervou)S go inside an anagram (complex) of BIGGER to give this beat-generation poet’s surname, and his first (to open) name is a type of key that is an L-shaped hexagonal rod

22a    German’s wrecked Ford vehicle hit on green (6)
KAPUTT: A 2-letter make of Ford is followed by a golfing stroke on the green

24a    Court inhibits King’s partner, losing first of three points roughly in succession (8)
SEQUENCE: A 3-letter verb meaning to court or date contains both the wife of a king without the first of three letters that could be a compass point and the Latin abbreviation for roughly or about

26a    Stop probing genuine compensation (8)
REQUITAL: A word for stop or resign goes inside a word for genuine

27a    Islander‘s drunk in a jiffy, putting latest two away (6)
FIJIAN: An anagram (drunk) of IN A JIF(fy), without the last two letters

28a    Ordinary guy awfully overshadowed by flipping celebrity (8)
EVERYMAN: a 4-letter word for awfully or extremely goes inside (overshadowed) the reversal (flipping) of a celebrity

29a    Perhaps sticks on dining table, on retirement, electric railway track (6)
CELERY: The reversal (on retirement) of the abbreviation for ELEC(tric), followed by the abbreviation for R(ailwa)Y



1d    Fake tears spilled on Liz’s last letter (6)
ERSATZ: An anagram (spilled) of TEARS plus the last letter in (Li)Z

2d    Margins of habitat one’s wise to keep clean, using interior cloth (9)
HANDTOWEL: The margins of H(abita)T are H AND T – follow this with a bird reputed to be wise around (to keep) the central letter (using interior) of clean

3d    Again put in power line over the City, splitting tree sadly (2-5)
RE-ELECT: The abbreviation for L(ine) plus the London city post-code go inside (splitting) an anagram (sadly) of TREE

5d    A sign of error by performing conductor? (4)
AXON: A from the clue, the mark a teacher would make against a wrong answer, and a 2-letter word meaning performing will give you this nerve cell component that transmits an electrical pulse

6d    Maybe regal Duke of York hosts this activity? (5-2)
BOOZE-UP: The Duke of York here would be a pub. The answer might work as a (down) clue for ‘regal’

7d    If special treatment needed, GP might do this in joint, half-heartedly (5)
REFER: A 6-letter word for a joint or a spliff without one of the central letters (half-heartedly)

8d    Lug unit around pub in which music can be heard (8)
EARPHONE: The facial feature described informally by the Scottish ‘lug’ and a number corresponding to ‘unit’ go around a 2-letter abbreviation for a pub

11d    Convey forecast around Stock Exchange? (4,3)
BEAR PIT: A 4-letter verb meaning convey or carry plus the reversal (around) of a forecast or hint

14d    Dodgy dealer avoiding publicity back shortly (7)
SHYSTER: A 3-letter adjective meaning avoiding publicity plus a 5-letter word for back or rear without the last letter (shortly)

16d    Part of ‘stop press’ initially seen in newspaper that needs digesting (5-4)
ORGAN-PIPE: The first letter of P(ress) is seen in a word for newspaper as a means of communicating information, plus a food covered in pastry (that needs digesting)

17d    Goddess Minogue swapping sides to support backing ladies? (8)
VALKYRIE: The first name of singer Minogue swapping sides – i.e., L(eft) becomes R(ight) – comes after (to support, in a down clue) the reversal of a shortened word for a toilet (backing ladies)

19d    Catch Yankee going round races in a dapper manner (7)
NATTILY: A 4-letter verb meaning to catch or arrest plus the letter associated with the international radio communication code Yankee, going around the annual motorcycle races on the Isle of Man

20d    Learned peeling raw veg eaten by Europeans (7)
ERUDITE: Take a 7-letter French word for raw vegetables eaten with dips as an hors d’oeuvre and ‘peel’ this (i.e., remove the first and last letter), then surround by two E(uropeans)

21d    Minute steak’s first served in New York following shape of a bone (6)
TEENSY: The first letter of S(teak) goes inside the abbreviation for New York, all after a word which describes the shape of a bone in a kind of steak

23d    Fabric giving irritation (5)
PIQUE: A double definition I guess, though the answer for the first has two syllables and an acute accent, while the answer for the second is one syllable

25d    Journalist wants drop of Cognac, a pre-match ritual (4)
HAKA: A (mediocre) journalist without the first letter of Cognac plus A from the clue

My favourite is 6d. I only managed to parse it as I was writing up the review. Which clues did you like?


  1. Jezza
    Posted October 7, 2016 at 2:13 pm | Permalink | Reply

    This one took me several attempts to complete this morning; even realising early on it might be a pangram did not help me.
    Many thanks to Osmosis for a proper struggle, and to Dutch for the write-up and explanation of a couple that passed me by.

    • dutch
      Posted October 7, 2016 at 2:19 pm | Permalink | Reply

      ah, well-spotted! I missed the pangram

      • Gazza
        Posted October 7, 2016 at 2:36 pm | Permalink | Reply

        Actually it’s a double pangram (is there a special word for that?) which is excellent without using obscure words. Thanks to Osmosis and Dutch.
        My favourite is 6d.

      • dutch
        Posted October 7, 2016 at 2:45 pm | Permalink | Reply

        Even better! Well done osmosis!

  2. Jeroboam
    Posted October 7, 2016 at 2:30 pm | Permalink | Reply

    I spotted the pangram but it didn’t play a significant part in my solving time, which was comfortable enough for me to rate today’s back pager as just as tough. My night in the pub ‘handicap’ comes tonight, so tomorrow’s puzzles will no doubt look much tougher. Thanks Osmosis and Dutch.

  3. crypticsue
    Posted October 7, 2016 at 2:36 pm | Permalink | Reply

    I’m with Jeroboam as both puzzles took exactly the same time so I’d give this one 1.5*/3*

    Thanks to Osmosis and Dutch too

    • Jane
      Posted October 7, 2016 at 3:11 pm | Permalink | Reply

      That’s just mean, both of you. You could have let me bask in the self-congratulation for a little while longer!

  4. Jane
    Posted October 7, 2016 at 3:07 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Got there but needed help from Dutch with a few bits of parsing.
    4a – didn’t get the second rally (bit of a stretch!) but the answer is definitely a pack gathering held outside, as far as the scout movement is concerned.
    10a – I had ‘foot’ earmarked as the reversal of a self-inflicted error, as in ‘put one’s foot in it’ so missed the football references.
    6d – well spotted, Dutch. I was still running through the words of The Grand old Duke whilst also vaguely thinking that the answer could well be something that the present incumbent would indulge in!

    Couple of new ones for me in the poet and the conductor (hate those sort of clues) but had a moment of inspiration over 15a with only the ‘T’ and ‘O’ in place – very satisfying when the parsing worked out but – why oh why did I have to put myself through the upset of watching the video clip again.

    Top three places go to 15a plus 11&17d.

    Thanks to Osmosis and to Dutch for the whys and wherefores that I hadn’t been able to sort out by myself.

    • jean-luc cheval
      Posted October 7, 2016 at 10:57 pm | Permalink | Reply

      Thanks for your kind comment yesterday.
      Promise that I won’t defect. Love this blogging community too much.

  5. LetterboxRoy
    Posted October 7, 2016 at 5:18 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Couldn’t get 18a & 11d, and the rest took ages anyway. Most of it was filled in with intuitive guesses, some of which I just couldn’t parse.
    Very tricky, but really good.

    Thanks to all as ever, will be back later.

  6. 2Kiwis
    Posted October 7, 2016 at 6:57 pm | Permalink | Reply

    This was a Mr Ron puzzle for us when we solved it and our guess at the setter, prompted by 25d, was Notabilis. Seem to remember we have confused these two setters on a previous occasion too. Quite a struggle for us even though we had noticed that it was a double pangram and eventually we did get it all sorted. The NE corner was the last sector to get sorted. Good fun to solve and good fun to go over it all again checking we had all the fine nuances of wordplay.
    Thanks Osmosis and Dutch.

  7. Expat Chris
    Posted October 7, 2016 at 9:20 pm | Permalink | Reply

    I didn’t notice it was a pangram, let alone a double ‘un. I was too wrapped up in trying to solve the clues. I was left with 25D unsolved, and I forgive myself for that. It was certainly a stiff challenge for me and I’m more than happy to have very nearly conquered it. Favorites are 6D and 17D., Thanks Osmosis and Dutch.

  8. jean-luc cheval
    Posted October 7, 2016 at 10:53 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Was lucky to get 15a straight away. The poet in the following clue took a bit more research. Ever since Ikea, there seems to be only one size for the Allen keys.
    Slowed down on the NE. Noticed the pangram by them but as all the letters answered present, it didn’t help. The fact that this was a double pangram would certainly have made it easier.
    Didn’t get 11d though.
    Thanks to Osmosis and to Dutch for the review.

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