Toughie 1815 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 1815

Toughie No 1815 by Osmosis

Hints and tips by Dutch

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

A solid toughie from Osmosis with intricate clueing and some lovely surfaces. After yesterday’s proXimal, I was relieved to finish with 3* difficulty time. I somehow managed this relatively tidily, doing each quadrant in turn clockwise from NW to SW, giving the illusion of control. The pangram helped me to get the firework.

Definitions are underlined, the hints address the wordplay, and you can reveal the answer by clicking on the SPOLIER button. Please leave a comment telling us what you thought.


1a    Venerable soothsayer not right with first couple of statements (6)
AUGUST: A 5-letter soothsayer or diviner loses the final R(ight), and gains the first two letters (first couple) of ST(atements)

4a    Wordsworth’s shivering started intermittently during wander (8)
ATREMBLE: A poetic term for shivering comes from the even letters (intermittently) of sTaRtEd inserted into a word meaning wander or walk slowly

10a    Enjoying nightlife perhaps, then to building with private (2,3,4)
ON THE TOWN: An anagram (building) of THEN TO followed by a word meaning private, or belonging to oneself

11a    Very big okra presented with another starter (5)
JUMBO: Another word for okra with a different first letter

12a    Like certain models better/not as much? (7)
TOPLESS: A word for better or cap and a word meaning ‘not as much’

13a    Somewhere in E. Sussex, we hear pottery treated and heated, for example (7)
RHYMING: A homophone (we hear) of a place in E. Sussex and a type of Chinese pottery

14a    African brothers facing current on banks of Tigris (5)
TUTSI: Abbreviation for a workers’ organisation where fellow members may be referred to as brothers, then we have the physics symbol for current following (on) the outer letters (banks) of T(igr)S

15a    French wine keeps twelve months in Rome, on average (8)
MEDIOCRE: A French regional wine goes around the Roman numeral for one (think MMXVII, where it means a year or twelve months), plus another word for on or concerning

18a    Stupid middle-distance race perhaps around stream truncated (8)
IMBECILE: A (1,4) middle-distance race (not to me!) goes around the first 3 letters (truncated) of another word for stream

20a    More than one saying police rebuffed volunteers (5)
DICTA: Reversal (rebuffed) of the abbreviation for a police department plus the abbreviation for army volunteers

23a    Historian Tom maybe returned suit when changed (7)
TACITUS: Reversal (returned) of what tom may be a male example of, plus an anagram (when changed) of SUIT. After Actor Jeff, I went looking for a historian called Tom

25a    Vet cut around site covering vein? (7)
EXAMINE: Reversal (around) of a verb meaning cut or chop, plus an excavation site

26a    Firework displays finally cease (time’s gone) before 6th of November (5)
SQUIB: Last letter (finally) of displayS, a word meaning cease or stop without the T(ime), and the 6th letter of November

27a    Checking van in lock-up, engineer altered tone (4,5)
NILE GREEN: An anagram (altered) of ENGINEER contains (checking) the first letter (van) in L(ock-up)

28a    What’s possibly added to washing is frequently kept in reserve, after a spin (8)
SOFTENER: A 5-letter word meaning frequently goes inside (kept in) a reversal (after a spin) of the abbreviation for reserve

29a    Three successive characters painting house (6)
STUART: Three successive alphabetic letters plus a generic word for painting, sculpture, etc.



1d    Renegade heads to another part of Alaska for one (8)
APOSTATE: First letters (heads) of A(nother) P(art) O(f) then add what Alaska is an example of

2d    Drop off acquired work books (2,2,3)
GO TO POT: A 3-letter verb for acquired, the abbreviation for work, and a set of biblical books

3d    Forgetful, undergoing strain? (5-4)
SIEVE-LIKE: I first read this as two definitions, the first describing a poor memory and the second a utensil. But perhaps it’s a cryptic definition with a bit of a pun on strain 

5d    Actor Jeff grapples clearly after much beer — some here are disgusted? (9,5)
TUNBRIDGE WELLS: Surname of the actor brothers Jeff and Beau contains (grapples) a word for clearly (as in you explained that ****), all following a word for large cask which was once a measure of 216 gallons of ale. “Disgusted of ********* *****” has become a generic sign-off for angry complaint letters to newspapers, following its use by a prolific writer (anonymous to this day) in early 20th century. A very faint penny drop for my 3d memory

6d    Have fun with Jack cutting single over year (5)
ENJOY: The card abbreviation for Jack goes inside (cutting) the reversal (over) another word for single, plus the abbreviation for year

7d    Relatively rough pastry food in Birmingham, right at southern end (7)
BUMPIER: What you might call some pastry food from Birmingham (4,3), then move the R to the bottom

8d    Cry of disgust after man from Spain disrobed — no more! (6)
ENOUGH: a 3-letter expression of disgust follows a 5-letter Spanish gentleman without the outer letters (disrobed)

9d    Cleaner look about kitchen essentially eliminated complaint (10,4)
HOUSEMAID’S KNEE: A 9-letter female domestic help, then another word for look goes ‘about’ K(itche)N with the middle letters removed (essentially eliminated)

16d    Rhonda, with gut being dodgy, discovers how booze is dispensed (2,7)
ON DRAUGHT: An anagram (being dodgy) of RHONDA + GUT

17d    Left loaf after pea soup and fruit (8)
HAZELNUT: The abbreviation for L(eft) and another (informal) word for loaf (which is Cockney rhyming slang, loaf of bread) follow a word for pea soup or fog

19d    Academic daughter wears clobber as Shakespeare character (7)
MACDUFF: The abbreviations for AC(ademic) and D(aughter) go inside an item of clothing (clobber): a cylindrical one to keep your hands warm. I tried to find another meaning of clobber that works – does anyone have anything else? A Master of Arts (academic) plus the abbreviation for Daughter inside (wearing) a word meaning to clobber or strike (someone) – thanks Gazza

21d    Photographic gear welcome — it’s needed for a fantastic creature (7)
CHIMERA: A photographic instrument has the A replaced by a 2-letter welcome greeting

22d    Balance son, accompanied by cheers, on top of sibling (6)
STASIS: The abbreviation for S(on), another word for cheers, and a short form of a female sibling

24d    Some Melba toast served up? (5)
TABLE: And an all-in-one to finish. Reverse hidden (Some …. served up)

I enjoyed many of the clues even more after doing the review, as often happens. I thought the surface readings of 21d, 9d, 5d, 26a, 15a 4a & 1a were particularly well crafted with 9d my favourite. I also liked the quirkiness in 7d & 29a. Which were your favourite clues?

24 comments on “Toughie 1815

  1. If yesterday’s proXimal was a Friday-level Toughie (which most people seemed to think it was) in terms of difficulty then this was Wednesday-level in my opinion. I enjoyed it – thanks to Osmosis and to Dutch. Top clues for me were 29a, 8d and 17d.
    In 19d I took the academic to be MA with clobber a verb to hit.

  2. Held up at the end in NW our renegade I have always thougth of in religious terms rather than the military/ political context I associate with the word. Once sorted the rest fell into place but took a while to see the brothers. 13 raised a smile and of course 5 which reminded me of Mrs Trellis of North Wale ISIHAC. Enjoyable and unstressful, perfect for a Friday. TY Osmosis and Dutch

  3. Only slightly easier than yesterday’s for me, some twisted clues. Did need to check a few answers before committing, and had forgotten the stream – again. 13a last to fall and probably my pick of the bunch. D’oh! Good stuff, very enjoyable.

    Many thanks to Osmosis for the workout and Dutch for the review.

  4. A relief after yesterday. I was just defeated by 1d and 12a. I do wonder about 18a. Surely the clue asks for an adjective not a noun?

      1. Surely an “imbecilic thing to do”? Though the BRB does have it as an adjective. At this stage I’m just so glad to have an answer after yesterday’s efforts!

  5. After yesterday’s 5* tough Toughie from proXimal I was relieved that I was wrong in anticipating that Elgar would be setting today’s puzzle, as my time was rather limited today ! As usual this was another very amusing offering from Osmosis who regularly includes references (sometimes cheeky ones) in his puzzles which I don’t remember seeing before in crosswords. 5d, 9d and 12a are clever examples of Osmosis’s wit today. I also appreciated the ingenuity of 13a and 21d. A most enjoyable end to the Toughie week !

  6. 15a – I am still struggling to understand why “I” = “twelve months in Rome”.

    Dutch’s hint of MMXVII (2017) hasn’t helped at all.

    Shin pads at the ready!

    1. When you represent years in roman numerals, as in MMXVII for 2017, the I always represents one year or twelve months.

      Actually I didn’t manage to arrive at that – I mentioned it to my wife who annoyingly suggested this immediately.

      hope that helps – and i hope it’s right

      1. I’m still not totally convinced by the explanation, but no-one else seems to have complained.

        Maybe it’s me being imbecile or imbecilic?

        ps. Dutch, I enjoyed your Independent crossword earlier this week. A lot more clues (36) than in today’s Telegraph back-pager (26).

  7. Hi Stan,
    MMXVl would be 2016 so you need to add an extra ‘l’ (one year in Roman numerals) to get to 2017.

  8. Overall I found this slightly easier than yesterday’s but still managed to come unstuck in the SE corner. I hadn’t heard of the 27a colour and became fixated on ‘STUDIO’ for the 29a ‘painting house’ – Mr. Google did come up with DIO painting which bolstered my conviction. 17&21d remained unsolved as a result.
    Needed to check on the Africans but managed the rest of the grid OK.

    9d took the gold cup with 3d taking reserve place.

    Thanks to Osmosis and to Dutch – liked the cartoon!

  9. Last in was 13a as I wasn’t sure what to look for.
    Wasn’t keen on 11a.
    Did try a few combinations in 23a from cattius to mottius until I had the right Historian.
    Did better on the Latin plural in 20a though.
    Thanks to Osmosis and to Dutch.

  10. Thanks to Osmosis for an enjoyable puzzle, challenging yet achievable.
    Thanks to Dutch for clarifying a few answers, mostly in NW.
    Now we shall be spending the rest of the weekend on Thursday’s toughie which hasn’t progressed as much as hoped (to put it lightly).
    G: I attribute the lack of progress on the weather. I will not leave the pub until the rain stops!

    1. M too on the Thursday toughie. I have most of the bottom half done and a couple in the top half.

  11. Our last one in was sorting out the riddle of 3d. We had justified the wordplay for 19d the same way as Dutch’s original hint but agree that the Gazza version is much better. We did spot the pangram but only after we had finished the puzzle so it was no help in the solving. This is just the sort of puzzle we like. Hard enough to be challenging but heaps of penny-drop clever clues to keep us smiling and chuckling.
    Thanks Osmosis and Dutch.

  12. Mrs Sheffieldsy is away with her girlie friends for a couple of days, so this was a solo effort. Thankfully finished without hints and gave it 3*/4*.

    At the end I had asterisks against 13a (great surface), 1d (ditto) and 7d (made me grin), but there were two against 5d (grant surface as well as a grin). Realised it was a pangram too late to help.

    Many thanks Dutch and Osmosis.

  13. Not easy for me and I was left with 15A and 17D unsolved. In my experience, Okra is a vegetable and just one of the ingredients in gumbo, not the dish itself. Ask for a dish of Okra in New Orleans and you won’t get Gumbo, that’s for sure. 5D tickled my fancy. Thanks Osmosis and Dutch.

    1. yes, Chambers has gumbo meaning both okra and a soup derived from it (and some other things)

      1. When it comes to American expressions, I have little faith in Chambers’ interpretations.

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