Toughie 1798 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 1798

Toughie No 1798 by Osmosis

Hints and tips by Big Dave

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BD Rating – Difficulty ****Enjoyment **

Many thanks to all for your good wishes for my cataract operation last Tuesday – all went well. The only problem is that my eyes are currently out of sync which makes reading and writing more difficult. I hope you will forgive me for not illustrating today’s review, which I have done as Bufo is away.

As far as the puzzle is concerned, I found that, although each clue was clued proficiently, little satisfaction was achieved along the way, which is why I have no favourite.

Please leave a comment telling us what you thought.


1a    Charlie‘s time here in ancient Rome average, on reflection (6)
THICKO: T(ime) followed by the Latin (in ancient Rome) for here and the reversal (on reflection) of a two-letter word meaning average

5a    He and Nora munched, grabbing salt and pepper (8)
HABANERO: an anagram (munched) of HE and NORA around (grabbing) our usual two-letter sailor (salt)

9a    Gather a flower when rambling, and preserve (10)
PICCALILLI: sounds like (when rambling) gather a flower (4,1,4)

10a    Work with surgeon in part of theatre (4)
GODS: A two-letter verb meaning to work followed by a Doctor of Surgery

11a    Comedian not initially fit, needing rest for a change (8)
QUIPSTER: drop the initial letter from a verb meaning to fit or make suitable and add an anagram (for a change) of REST

12a    Left with hours wasted in comparatively grim place to refuel (6)
LARDER: L(eft) followed by an adjective meaning comparatively grim without (wasted) the H(ours)

13a    Loves to smother trout’s skin in aromatic oil (4)
OTTO: two of the letters which represent a score of love in tennis around the outer letters (skin) of T[rou]T

15a    American child one leaves somewhere in Bavaria with family (8)
MUNCHKIN: drop the I (one) from a city in Bavaria and add a three-letter word meaning family

18a    Old place to learn, with Australian, about an aquatic invertebrate (8)
POLYZOAN: the four-letter shortened form of an old college of higher education followed by the reversal (about) of a colloquial word meaning Australian and AN from the clue

19a    Appearance of pigeons at regular intervals, miles ahead (4)
MIEN: the even letters (at regular intervals) of pigeons preceded by (ahead) M(iles)

21a    Type of chair from Westminster area, with exotic brass turning (6)
SWIVEL: the postcode for Westminster followed by the reversal (turning) of a foreign (exotic) currency (brass)

23a    Sordid property chap’s seen around English headland (8)
MEANNESS: a chap around E(nglish) followed by a headland

25a    By place to keep animals, cross underground river (4)
STYX: a place to keep animals followed by the letter shaped like a cross

26a    Expect judge perhaps to hesitate (5,5)
THINK TWICE: a phrase that means a word meaning both to expect and to judge is repeated

27a    Gold steps outside new store for big guns? (8)
ORDNANCE: the heraldic term for gold followed by some steps in time to music around (outside) N(ew)

28a    Overthrow secular base (3,3)
LAY LOW: an adjective meaning secular followed by one meaning base or vulgar


2d    Noble, with great success, recited poetic lines (5)
HAIKU: sounds like (recited) high (noble) followed by coup (great success)

3d    That French pooch barking extremely noisily, makes din (9)
CACOPHONY: the French for that followed by an anagram (barking) of POOCH and the outer letters (extremely) of N[oisil]Y

4d    Recently, Zoe defaced nursing uniform (2,4)
OF LATE: [Z]OE without her initial letter (de-faced) around (nursing) an adjective meaning uniform or level

5d    Religious type, one with seat in Ireland, unified states once (4,5,6)
HOLY ROMAN EMPIRE: an adjective meaning religious followed by a typeface and a person with a seat in Parliament inside the Gaelic name for Ireland

6d    Standing erect, head of trawler discarded sprat (8)
BRISLING: an adjective meaning standing erect or stiff and spiky without (discarded) the initial letter (head) of T[rawler] gives a Norwegian sprat

7d    Runner‘s spirit rising, about to be uplifted (5)
NIGER: this runner is an African river – the reversal (rising, in a down clue) of a spirit or alcoholic drink followed by the reversal (to be uplifted, in a down clue) of a two-letter word meaning about

8d    Free gift’s first choice, taken up as top bit of property (5,4)
RIDGE TILE: a three-letter verb meaning to free followed by the initial letter (first) of G[ift] and the reversal (taken up, in a down clue)

14d    Single’s original released by Rod Stewart sadly failed to progress (4,5)
TROD WATER: an anagram (sadly) of ROD [S]TEWART without (released) the initial letter (original) of S[ingle]

16d    That man on pottery course is an author (9)
HEMINGWAY: the male pronoun (that man) followed by a type of pottery and a course or route

17d    Wise person in US city beginning to talk in bygone language (3,5)
LOW LATIN: a wise person inside the two-letter abbreviation for a US city followed by the initial letter (beginning) of T[alk] and IN from the clue

20d    Scavenger, one among crew most of all (6)
JACKAL: a sailor (one among crew) followed by most of AL[l]

22d    Bilious woman needing some Kleenex I’ve passed over (5)
VIXEN: hidden (passed) and reversed (over) inside the clue

24d    Financiers are here on business, following special painting (5)
SECCO: the postcode of the City of London (financiers are here) followed by the two-letter abbreviation for a business and preceded by S(pecial)

Tilsit has offered to provide the Saturday hints for this week, because of the difficulty I am having, and next week, because it is Open Gardens weekend once again in Hanley Swan (where did that year go!).

19 comments on “Toughie 1798

  1. Glad all went well – my eyes have always been out of sync – I have a ‘reading’ contact lens in the one that still has a small cataract so I don’t have any problems with reading/writing, I’ve just got to wait longer before they operate on the second eye

    As for the Toughie, well it was a real toughie but I’d have to agree that it wasn’t particularly ‘special’, apart from (as far as I can tell) being an F short of a pangram.

        1. Hi Sue. My first thoughts were “uneasy lies the head that wears a crown” but then I thought that unfair. I also thought that I get myself into too much trouble by wading in without thought. Then I though oh just post it. Sue has a sense of humour. So there

  2. I always find many of Osmosis’ clues amusing ones, and this is full of them, including 15a, 18a, 21a, 25a, 3d, 5d, 14d (my favourite), 16d and 22d. Sufficiently challenging for a Thursday, without being too time-consuming. Hope Big Dave’s eyes are back in focus soon. Your blog is much-appreciated !

  3. As Bufo might have said “I think I enjoyed it”. Thanks to Osmosis and to BD for the blog (hope the vision’s back in sync asap). My favourite was 26a.

  4. Didn’t occur to me that the answer to 1a was an accepted (or acceptable) word and hadn’t quite arrived at the homophone in 2d, so the NW corner was littered with ‘possibles’ as was the extreme SE (no pun intended!) as I always forget about it being where the financiers hang out and I didn’t know the painting technique.
    Add to those the necessity to check on the surgeon, the 21a currency, the ending of 18a and the 17d language and you’ll understand why this one took me an extremely long time! Actually, I’m still struggling to justify 26a even though I did put in the correct phrase.

    Unlike BD, I did find some that I thought merited ticks – 9&13a plus 5&16d were accorded that accolade.

    Thanks to Osmosis and to BD for stepping in for Bufo. Possibly a good idea in any case to get Tilsit to man the fort on Saturday – I guess you might be in recovery mode after what I assume will be the odd bit of celebrating tomorrow!

    1. In 26a both ‘expect’ and ‘judge’ can mean to think – so that’s two occurrences of think.

      1. Thank you, Gazza – it was ‘expect’ I was having a problem with but BRB suggests it as ‘to think of as likely’ which made it a bit clearer.
        By the way – if you have time, I could do with a bit of help over on the other side following on from the comment posted by Vince.

  5. Another solid pangram by Osmosis, accurate clueing and perfectly enjoyable though no real lol moments.

    I liked the bilious woman and her kleenex, the pottery course, Rod Stewart, the top bit of property, salt and pepper and the comedian.

    I had to check the overthrow meaning, the Latin for here and the aquatic invertebrate

    Many thanks BD and thanks Osmosis

  6. I struggled not least because of the amount of education this puzzle provided – 18a, 19a, 2d, spelling of 3d, 13a, 5d, 17d & 24d. 10a remains unsolved.
    Not much fun as such, but a good workout, so some satisfaction to be had. Favourite today is 14d.
    Many thanks to Osmosis and to BD, pleased to hear all went well.

  7. I had similar issues to Jane in the NW corner, with 1A, 1D and 11A remaining unsolved. And I had Dog Latin for 17D and of course could not parse it fully. I missed the pangram, too. I have ticks by 9A, 6D and 16D. Thanks to Osmosis, and thanks to BD. Glad to hear you’re doing well.

  8. G put a few things in over lunch, mostly dividing lines (which he often gets wrong) then I got a look and made some progress, leaving him something to do in the pub. By the time I arrived there were just a few left which needed joint thoughts to complete. We enjoyed this puzzle and only needed confirmation of our reasoning of 26a. So thanks from us to Osmosis, BD and Gazza.
    G: I attribute my success to beer 🐶

  9. I enjoyed this – only missed 1 ac. I am not quite sure I understand how the answer relates to Charlie, and my Latin wasn’t strong enough to deal with the word play.

    1. Chambers:

      Charlie (noun)
      2.An inefficient, ineffectual person, a fool, often in the phrase a proper Charlie

      Latin for here is hic – T(ime) + HIC + OK reversed giving:

      Thicko (noun)
      A stupid person

  10. 24a caused us problems as we did not know the painting but after a bit of Googling did get it sorted. We had spotted the pangram and it ended up being useful with 11a when we had to find somewhere for a Q.
    Thanks Osmosis and BD. Sounds like very good news with your eyes.

  11. Started by solving the SW corner which led me to think of a possible pangram but didn’t resort to write down the alphabet as everything went smoothly.
    Last one in was 17d which needed a bit of research.
    That’s the second time we see 9a so it’s going on the menu at the Jardin on the plate of Indian Thalis. Saw some good recipes.
    Had to check my answer for 18a which I got from the parsing but the word only rung a distant bell.
    15a favourite. Just love that word.
    Thanks to Osmosis and to BD. Glad everything went well.

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