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Toughie 1739

Toughie No 1739 by Osmosis

Hints and tips by Dutch

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +


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


It was fun to sort out some tricky wordplay and cryptic definitions in this solid offering from Osmosis. For once, I spotted the pangram during the solve and was even able to use it.

Definitions are underlined in the clues below. The hints are intended to help you arrive at the answers, but you can always reveal them by clicking on the GELUKKIG NIEUWJAAR! buttons. Please leave a comment telling us how you got on and what you thought.


1a    Style of music enveloping Caribbean match (2,4)
GO WITH: A style of music originating in the 1980’s characterised by a blend of punk and heavy metal with dark, melancholy themes goes around (enveloping) an abbreviation for the West Indies (Caribbean)

4a    Enlivened Press editor getting in drink (6-2)
SOUPED UP: The abbreviation for a publishing house run by Oxford University plus the abbreviation for ED[itor] go inside (getting in) a 3-letter verb for drink

9a    Flower‘s the focal point of local tree (6)
CALDER: A Yorkshire river, after which an Australian river has been named (both a tributary of the River Aire) is assembled from the central letter (focal point) of loCal plus a tree.

10a    Motown founder’s back, embraced by lady, number one in some charts? (8)
HYDROGEN: These charts are periodic. A reversal (back) of the founder of Motown Records goes inside a lady chicken.

11a    Again seize trophy after Olympic athlete makes return in gutless relay (8)
REOCCUPY: A 3-letter trophy follows the reversal (makes return) of an Olympic runner turned politician, all inside the outer letters of (gutless) R[ela]Y

13a    Nag and clobber (6)
JUMPER: Two meanings, a horse and an article of clothing. The pangram helped me here

15a    Seaman near Ireland about to redirect her, ends somewhere in Scotland (13)
ABERDEENSHIRE: An abbreviation for seaman is followed by (near) a 4-letter word for Ireland containing (about) an anagram of (to redirect) HER ENDS

18a    Spotless giraffe — regularly entertaining material, writer revealed (8,5)
VIRGINIA WOOLF: A word for spotless or pure, plus the even letters (regularly) of giraffe around (entertaining) a 4-letter warm material

22a    Spice Girl fan at the front (6)
NUTMEG: A 3-letter girl’s name is preceded by another word for fan or devotee

24a    Anxious husband leaves outhouse clasping lock (8)
STRESSED: Remove the abbreviation for H[usband] from a small house at the bottom of the garden, and insert (clasping) a lock of hair. I initially misread this clue…

26a    Underwear quietly shunned around extremely liberal islands (8)
ANTILLES: Some underwear without the initial P (quietly shunned) goes around the outer letters (extremely) of L[ibera]L

27a    Charmingly archaic lift, without entrance, keeping popular (6)
QUAINT: A weightlifting exercise (involving standing up from a crouched position) without the first letter (entrance) goes around a short word meaning popular

28a    It’s possible to find an alternative to Mars displayed by Iceland? Peripherally, yes (1,4,3)
I DARE SAY: The Greek equivalent of the god of war follows (is displayed by) the outer letters of (peripherally) I[celan]D, followed by a 2-letter version of yes

29a    Male singer vocalised note informally (6)
TENNER: A homophone (vocalised) of a male singer


1d    Minor worker, from the bottom, perhaps painting vehicle (2-4)
GO-CART: Reversal (from the bottom) of a minor worker in a large factory or machine, followed by something of which painting might be an example

2d    Arresting revolutionary sectarian OK, lawmen feel thrilled (4,2,3)
WALK ON AIR: Reverse hidden (arresting revolutionary…)

3d    Box, for example, disguising a left around Charlie’s mush (7)
TREACLE: The type of flora exemplified by box goes around (disguising) A L[eft] which in turn goes around C[harlie] (the international radio code for C)

5d    One hoofed ball — trains with football team, mostly? (4)
ORYX: A round letter (ball), an abbreviation for a system of trains, and a roman numeral which is one less than a football team. Pangram alert

6d    Kitty catches royal clock’s first strike (7)
PERCUSS: A familiar word for a cat contains the usual abbreviation for our queen and the first letter of C[lock]. I initially misread this clue as well!

7d    When searching, discover dog tag, folded over (3,2)
DIG UP: Reversal (folded over) of a type of dog plus a tag used for identification

8d    Face part of week exhausted, not content cooking like this? (3-5)
PAN-FRIED: A slang word for face, a 3-letter part of the week, and the outer letters (not content) of E[xhauste]D

12d    Bob pulled up short means of communication (6)
PIDGIN: Reversal of a 3-letter word for bob or brief downward movement, plus an alcoholic short gives a simplified or distorted language. A rather broad definition, I thought

14d    Bird‘s reversing Mini in place of mine? (6)
PEEWIT: Reversal of the Scottish word for small goes inside an excavation site

16d    Chic new sofa hosts welcome in hotel (2,7)
IN FASHION: An anagram (new) of SOFA contains (hosts) an informal greeting, all inside a 3-letter hotel


17d    In Latin, I came to collect girl supporting school’s head (controlling person) (8)
SVENGALI: The Latin for ‘I came’ ( as in ****, vidi, vici) contains (to collect) a 3-letter informal word for girl, all underneath (supporting, in a down clue) the first letter (head) of S[chool]

19d    Shade one part of crossword, circumventing office job ultimately (3-4)
ICE-BLUE: The Roman numeral for one plus an element of a crossword (like this one) around (circumventing) the last letters (ultimately) of [offic]E [jo]B

20d    Strain is universal in pilot’s situation, near Heathrow? (7)
OVERUSE: The abbreviation for U[niversal] goes inside a (4,2) or maybe (4,1,1) description of where in relation to England a pilot near Heathrow might be

21d    Media person used exit door, constantly half-seen (6)
EDITOR: 3 words in the clue are each (constantly) contributing their second half (half-seen)

23d    Fatter itinerant ignoring fine fish (5)
TETRA: An anagram (itinerant) of [f]ATTER (ignoring F[ine])

25d    Letter from abroad‘s unknown arrival time (4)
ZETA: An algebraic unknown followed by the abbreviation for Estimated Time of Arrival. The pangram helped here too



My favourite today was 24a – it made me laugh, but it’s also a refreshing new way to clue this often-seen word. Which clues did you like?

13 comments on “Toughie 1739

  1. I made a dog’s breakfast of the NE corner by putting in ‘spiced up’ for 4a, assuming that Pic Ed was short for Picture Editor (Oh Dear, as Kath would say). I also didn’t know the Motown founder and had to look him up (I thought initially that Motown founder might be a cryptic reference to Henry Ford). I got it all sorted out in the end and quite enjoyed it – thanks to Osmosis and Dutch.
    My favourite clue was 7d.

  2. A lovely end to a bit of a mixed toughie week. I too failed with 4a, having “hopped up” [in drink] from UP ED and how the hell is hopp = enlivened! Not entirely sure about the def in 8d – which suggests an ending to me. But all is forgiven by superb clues like 10a, 28a, 16d and the LOL [at both the surface and the solution] 26a, which is clue of the week for me.

    Many thanks Osmosis and thanks to Dutch for the blog [and 4a]

    1. 8d: works for me… most -ing words can be nounal too (as in ‘the cooking was brilliant’) – then the ‘like this’ tells us we’re looking for an adjective of that noun…

  3. It took a while to get into the swing of this, but I got there except for 28A. I was convinced the Mars alternative was some odd British chocolate bar I’d never heard of and I was trying to get the IVR for Iceland in too. But, I did get the answer from your hint, Dutch. Fortunately I knew the Motown founder, and that clever clue is my favorite, though I also ticked 14D. Many thanks to Osmosis for a good workout that was also fun and to you Dutch.

  4. No paper today so I’ve tried the clues from the above individually. Liked the ones I got – but blimey it’s difficult! Liked 20d, even though it eluded me (had to cheat), as did 18a and a few others such as the Motown founder.
    Many thanks Osmosis and Dutch for the much needed aids.
    PS – 19d illustration is a very creepy pic, Dutch!

  5. We also twigged the possibility of a pangram quite early in the solve and it helped in looking for possibilities in the bottom half of the grid. A couple of things we needed to check such as the 9a river and the guy in 10a but slowly and surely it all came together for us. In the past we have found Osmosis puzzles a bit of a grind but found plenty in this one to keep us smiling and chuckling.
    Thanks Osmosis and Dutch.

  6. We didn’t spot the pangram because we had no letter J. This was because we had PESTER for 13a. The BRB has clog as a meaning for pester which, to my northern mind, meant the same as clobber in the sense of attacking, so in it went without a care.

    Dutch, thank you for the hints which enabled us to correct that clue and finish. Because of that, 4*/4* with COTD 8d or 17d.

    Thanks also to Osmosis.

  7. Once again I fall short of the mark with this setter. For me, this was 4* difficulty, but lots of fun in the struggle. I loved 18a – even though I suspected the solution as soon as the V and the F fell into place, I enjoyed reverse-engineering it to fit the clue! Sorry, but that’s the way I do it. Thanks to Osmosis and Dutch.

  8. Like Gazza, I fell for ‘spiced up’ – not knowing the word at 6d didn’t help either!
    Motown man was one I had to look up and, like Salty Dog, I employed some ‘reverse-engineering’ to get 18a (and 20d).
    28a defeated me – sad lack of knowledge of Greek gods.

    Very hard work for me, but I enjoyed the challenge.
    Thanks to Osmosis and to Dutch – somewhat gutted that you only gave it 3* for difficulty!

    1. sorry, it would have had to have taken me (what tense is that?) at least 30% longer to get another difficulty star…

  9. A bit late in the day but I only started last night. Found it quite challenging but came unstuck on 20d as I’d misspelt Virginia Woolf as Wolff!

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