Toughie 1717 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 1717

Toughie No 1717 by Osmosis

Hints and tips by Gazza

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BD Rating – Difficulty **Enjoyment ***

The difficulty you have with this puzzle (which is a pangram) probably depends on how good your knowledge is of gardeners, singers, novelists, actresses, mathematicians and diplomats. In spite of the excessive number of proper names I thought it was fairly gentle for Osmosis.

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

Across Clues

1a/6a Rotten tree dug around river by literary doctor’s gardener (8,6)
GERTRUDE JEKYLL – this is a female British garden designer (whose surname I can never manage to spell). Put an anagram (rotten) of TREE DUG round the abbreviation for river then add the name of R L Stevenson’s fictional doctor.

6a See 1a

9a Great books featuring constant intensity (6)
ACCENT – an adjective meaning great and some Biblical books contain the constant used to represent the speed of light.

10a Delay expression of triumph with new-style fringe (4,4)
HANG FIRE – an exclamation of triumph followed by an anagram (new-style) of FRINGE.

11a Manually deleted pages showing former partner in married situation (8)
TIPPEXED – insert the abbreviation for multiple pages and the word used for a former partner into an adjective meaning married or united.

12a Plant beer in hands of jazzman at intervals (6)
AZALEA – insert a type of beer into the even letters of jazzman.

13a Singer playing rag later embraces another musical genre (3,9)
ART GARFUNKEL – an anagram (playing) of RAG LATER contains an informal word for pop or jazz music with a strong rhythm and a soulful quality.

ARVE Error: need id and provider

16a Novelist‘s brave, battling with showers to keep number one dry (4,8)
VERA BRITTAIN – this British novelist was the mother of the politician Baroness (Shirley) Williams. Start with an anagram (battling) of BRAVE and add some showers from above containing the Roman numeral for one and the abbreviation for dry or teetotal.

19a Tennis club‘s powerful men on board (6)
QUEENS – double definition – the tennis club is in London and the board is a chessboard.

21a Mum managed to save fly — that’s sweet (8)
MARZIPAN – start with an affectionate term for mother, add a verb meaning managed and insert (to save) a verb to fly or go quickly. If you’ve done all that properly you’ll have made some nasty sickly stuff.

23a Spirit-like drink chokes that lady in middle of paella (8)
ETHEREAL – a non-alcoholic drink contains a feminine pronoun (that lady). Now put all that between the middle letters of paella.

24a Maritime chief that’s seen in hold (6)
NELSON – double definition. The hold is one used in the wrestling ring.

25a/26a Actress wanting issue penned by first-rate English publicist (6,8)
ALISON STEADMAN – this is one of our finest actresses (or actors, as we’re now supposed to call them), perhaps best known for her performance in Abigail’s Party. A male issue is contained inside an informal term (1-4) for first-rate. After that we need an abbreviation for English and a publicist (2-3).

26a See 25a

Down Clues

2d Rising, tip hat as old mathematician appears (6)
EUCLID – reverse a tip or hint and add an informal word for a hat.

3d Prepare letter at college (3,2)
TEE UP – the name of one of the letters of our alphabet followed by an adverb meaning ‘at college’.

4d Sporting racetrack Button unconfined by time occupies endlessly (9)
UTTOXETER – this is a town in Staffordshire and its racecourse. Remove the outer letters from Button, add the letter used to mean ‘by’ in maths then insert the abbreviation for time in a poetic word meaning endlessly or without end.

5d Spiny creature‘s concealed amongst cane, camouflaged (7)
ECHIDNA – put a verb meaning concealed into an anagram (camouflaged) of CANE.

6d American’s last in ramble for military governors (5)
JUNTA – start with a ramble or excursion and move the single-letter abbreviation for American to the end. The surface doesn’t seem very meaningful.

7d Diplomat‘s retired relative providing approval (4,5)
KOFI ANNAN – string together an affectionate term for grandmother, a conjunction meaning providing and a response indicating approval. Now reverse it all.

8d Learner on bend, with little space and time, clipping a fence support? (8)
LARCENER – ‘fence support’ is a cryptic definition of someone who keeps a fence (a receiver of hot property) in business. Bring together the letter used for a learner, a bend or curve, a small space in printing and a word for a period of time without its final A.

13d Wonder about revolutionary artist having head for knowledge (9)
AWARENESS – a synonym for wonder contains the reversal of our usual abbreviated artist. Finish with a word meaning head or promontory.

14d Perhaps Cologne newspaper’s available in neighbouring country (9)
FRAGRANCE – a low-quality newspaper goes inside the name of one of the countries that borders the state containing Cologne.

15d Official keeps bottom statement delivered to counter (8)
REBUTTAL – an adjective meaning official or authentic contains an informal North American term for bottom or backside.

17d Corporation open to all mostly longing to see burial-place (7)
TUMULUS – string together an informal word for corporation or gut, the letter used to indicate that a film may be seen by all and a word for longing or sexual desire without its last letter. ‘to see’ is just a link.

18d Asian food — it repeats, when eating bones (6)
SAMOSA – an abbreviation for ‘it’ is repeated and they bracket the abbreviation for someone whose nickname may be ‘bones’.

20d Chester neighbourhood contains authoritarian (5)
STERN – an easy-to-spot lurker.

22d Did lounge at the front illuminate date / clock display? (5)
IDLED – the front letters of illuminate and date followed by the abbreviation for the type of lighting which may display the date and time on a digital clock.

I’ll steer clear of the proper names in choosing my best clues – I liked 23a, 7d and 18d but my favourite was 8d. Which one(s) got you leaping about in the aisles?

24 comments on “Toughie 1717

  1. My last one in was the tennis club (19a), at which point I recognised the pangram – recognising it a wee bit earlier would have helped me with that one.

    At least I knew the singer and the diplomat. The other personalities I had to get from wordplay and check with google, but that worked fine. I wasn’t at all convinced about 9a but turns out I had arrived at a wrong answer (SCIENT) from looking at the wrong definition (and i forgot to submit, that would have caught it) so thanks Gazza for the right solution.

    Favourite was 12a (plant beer in hand…), and 8d (fence support) was a good penny drop moment.

    Many thanks Osmosis and Gazza

  2. There were too many clues requiring general knowledge which unfortunately I didn’t possess, such as the actress or that particular tennis club, and I also didn’t like 6d.
    Thanks Gazza for providing solutions.

  3. Stroke of luck as the first name in 1a just jumped at me and Google did the rest even though the search engine was trying to introduce me to a few Gertrude Gardner. That wasn’t what I asked really.
    Found the clue a bit unfair as it required general knowledge to get the doctor. Thought it was Watson at first.
    When I saw 25a, my heart sunk as I wasn’t in a mood to go through a list of English publicists but gladly I knew the actress and found the clue very fair.
    The writer in 16a was also fairly clued and only needed checking.
    4d, 11a then 3d closed the solve.
    Great penny drop moment in 11a which becomes my favourite.
    Thanks to Osmosis for a real toughie and to Gazza for the review.

  4. The only proper name that was unknown to both of us was the actress but we had enough checkers and wordplay to make the Investigoogling simple. Realised quite early on that a pangram was possible which was a help when we were looking for a Q. We agree with Gazza that is was easier than many Osmosis puzzles and in our opinion better for that. More of an exploratory pleasurable journey than a dogged slog, if that makes any sense. Really enjoyed this one.
    Thanks Osmosis and Gazza.

  5. Turned out that I knew more of the GK than I expected as only the novelist had me turning to the reference books.
    Conversely, I didn’t know of that ending for 8d (only ever seen ‘ist’ for the person) and needed Gazza’s help to parse the last 4 letters.

    13a put in an appearance in the latest Rookie puzzle and I should think 24a must be a qualifier for Mr. K’s list of frequently used words!
    11a brought back many memories of office days – very hard to disguise the usage of same!
    Spent a while thinking ‘juta’ must have some sort of rambling context – silly girl – not my favourite clue.
    Actual favourite by a mile was 21a.

    Thanks to Osmosis and to Gazza for the words and music.

    1. G, I wonder if you could please help me with a query. 8d: Isn’t this a combination clue? A normal “cryptic clue” contains some cryptic wordplay and a precise (not cryptic) definition, so it’s not one of them. A cryptic definition clue is one where the whole clue is the (cryptic) definition and it should all be underlined in the annotation, so it’s not one of them. Here, we have some cryptic wordplay with a cryptic definition – so is it not a combination of the two distinct types? Or have I got my thought processes in a twist.

      1. You get quite a lot of “normal cryptic” clues where the definition is more or less cryptic – for example, just because it’s on the sheet of paper that’s on my desk, 20d in today’s (Thursday’s) Toughie.

        1. Yes, thanks for that. I can’t find any reference to the example you gave in today’s Toughie by Firefly?

          1. Sorry, I have found it – I thought the sheet of paper sentence was supposed to be part of the clue!

            1. Yes, 20d in today’s Toughie – the definition is very obscure, possibly cryptic but 8d in this one has a decidedly cryptic definition. I always get confused about the clue “type” when a normal cryptic clue doesn’t have a precise definition (i.e., one you’re likely to find in a dictionary or thesaurus). I blame it on the clue description using the phrase “precise definition”. Am I being too pedantic?

              1. We shouldn’t really be discussing another puzzle here (especially as the blog’s not published yet) – that’s my fault for picking an example from today. Perhaps we could continue the discussion on the relevant blog when it’s published?

  6. I’ve either never tried an Osmosis Toughie or have never got far enough with one to make it worth ‘perservating’ – I suspect the latter.
    I don’t think that I would have got far with this one had I not read Gazza’s introduction – at least I knew that I was looking for a) a pangram and b) a crossword with lots of proper names.
    As it was I really enjoyed it – most of the names, apart from 16a – I knew. I needed the hint for a few of the others to see why they were who they were, if that makes any sense at all.
    My favourite has to be 13a – what a star he is. I love the clip and the only one of theirs that I like even more is the last track on Bridge Over Troubled Water, “Song for the Asking” which makes me cry and, because I’ve just googled it :cry:
    With thanks to Osmosis and to Gazza.

  7. Far, far too much general knowledge for me . Afraid I didn’t enjoy it at all. Sorry Osmosis

  8. I agree with Gazza re: Fairly gentle for Osmosis, however it was entirely tough enough for me. I couldn’t get 25&26 ac, so needed the hint and needed the explanations for a few more that I’d entered without fully understanding why.

    Thanks to Gazza and Osmosis.

  9. 2*/3* – the GK content wasn’t really an issue, as I have an awful lot of it crammed into my “yud”. It serves no purpose other than to make me marginally more popular when the monthly pub quiz comes around. With my background I should really plump for 24a as favourite, but I’m breaking ranks to go for 11a (although I doubt if it will mean much to the younger generation). Still, thanks to Osmosis and Gazza.

  10. Sadly I think this is going to be another one-a-day week, when it comes to crosswords. Reading the above, I think I’d have found today’s very difficult. Apologies to Osmosis and thanks to Gazza.

  11. I know this style of crossword isn’t everybody’s cup of tea, but I enjoyed this variation from the norm. Thanks Osmosis and Gazza.

  12. Not much fun. Too many pencilled in as I either could not parse them, or didn’t know the names. Still, completed with the exception of 8d. I still do not understand 18d, even with the clue. Oh well, thanks anyway guys.

    1. 18d “it” is an informal word for sex appeal (Actress Clara Bow was the original ‘It girl’) so we want another abbreviation for sex appeal – SA. Repeat that to get SASA then insert an abbreviation for doctor, MO (Bones being a traditional nickname for a doctor). So you end up with SA MO SA.

      1. Thank you Gazza, had the bones, know that it is sex appeal, but have not seen it abbreviated before. Nothing in the clue to suggest abbreviation. Maybe slightly tenuous, even though I had the solution. I have just read the “Comment Etiquette” and really don’t intend any criticism. Thank you again for your response.

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