Toughie 1887 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 1887

Toughie No 1887 by Osmosis

Hints and tips by Dutch

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

Osmosis gives us interesting words in the grid, lovely definitions and inventive wordplay. All is clued immaculately and fairly. My first one in was 10a, followed by 2d which required some untangling. That gave me the long top clue, which in turn gave me the two long side clues, and before I knew it I had enough checkers to make rapid progress. The central 14a went straight in. My last one in was 21d, where I was stubbornly determined to use D=deserted in the wordplay somehow. I also struggled with 25a, where I wasn’t familiar with the answer.

As always, the definitions are underlined in the clues below. The hints are intended to help you with the wordplay, and you can reveal the answer by clicking on the USE THIS AS A LAST RESORT ONLY! button. Please leave a comment telling us what you thought.


6a    Vehicle stock put on branch line if dry (4-4,5)
FORK-LIFT TRUCK: A stock or heap follows (put on)all of: a 4-letter branch (as in a path), the abbreviation for Line, IF from the clue and the abbreviation for an abstainer

8a    Agreement before joining private school about new uniform (6)
PRENUP: An informal word for a kind of private school goes around the abbreviation for new and the letter represented by the radio code Uniform.

9a    On mountain, pack stylish overcoat used once (8)
BENJAMIN: A Scottish mountain, a word meaning pack or cram, and a 2-letter word meaning stylish

10a    Cups start to bypass Gunners (3)
BRA: The first letter (start) of bypass plus the abbreviation for the army unit of gunners

11a    Sister company employing one messenger (6)
NUNCIO: A religious sister plus the abbreviation for company around (employing) the Roman numeral one.

12a    Aquatic mammals protecting old companion in Scottish waters (3,5)
SEA LOCHS: Some aquatic mammals go around (protecting) the abbreviations for old and companion

14a    and 16: Mixture of drinks American knocked back during equine trials, excitedly (7,7)
TEQUILA SUNRISE: An anagram (excitedly) of EQUINE TRIALS goes around the reversal (knocked back) of the2-letter abbreviation for American

16a    See 14

20a    Brand of tyre used for vintage? (8)
GOODYEAR: Split (4,4), the answer would mean vintage

23a    Beer-drinking group heard in vaulted room (6)
CAMERA: A homophone of the abbreviation for real ale campaigners

24a    Kent’s tail-ender faces two balls in over (3)
TOO: The last letter (tail-ender) of Kent plus two letters that look like balls

25a    Sort of horse far from stable that’s unlocked? (8)
SKEWBALD: A word for unstable or crooked plus a word for an extreme case of being un-locked or dis-tressed

26a    Beds may be so, as a French cleaner’s calling (6)
UNMADE: The French for A in the clue, plus a homophone (calling) of a cleaning woman/girl

27a    In south-west, current foreign lector takes stage back in the academic place (6,7)
EXETER COLLEGE: A river (current) in the SW of the UK, an anagram (foreign) of LECTOR, a 3-letter word for stage as in part of a journey, plus the last letter (back) of thE.



1d    Type of wine from republic’s borders put in food mostly (5,3)
GRAND CRU: Republic’s borders are * AND *, place these 5 letters into the first 3 (mostly) of an informal 4-letter word for food

2d    Chop, having bad smell with filling mid-aisles waste vessel (4,4)
SLOP BOWL: A 3-letter word for chop or cut the top off plus the abbreviations for a bad smell and with, all go inside the central letters (mid) of aiSLes

3d    Book penned by Anglo-Saxon king connected with Kent area shows Uncle Sam’s wrong (3,4)
OFF BASE: The answer is an American expression meaning wrong. The abbreviation for Book goes inside a 4-letter Anglo-Saxon king, followed by the part of England where we find Kent

4d    Verse stumped old opera singer, losing head (6)
STANZA: The 2-letter abbreviation for stumped plus the surname of Mario, an American Opera singer of Italian descent, also a movie star, 1921-1959, without the first letter (losing head)

5d    From noon, a rumble upset Italian glassware centre (6)
MURANO: Reverse hidden (From ….. upset)

6d    Pastry chef that is going below for air (7,6)
FORTUNE COOKIE: Another word for a kitchen chef and the Latin abbreviation for that is goes underneath (below, in a down clue) FOR from the clue and another word for air or song

7d    Players join card game somewhere in London (13)
KNIGHTSBRIDGE: Some players on a chess board plus the best card game there is

13d    Short man left small space (3)
LEN: The abbreviation for left plus a short printer’s measure gives the shortened form of a man’s name

15d    Climber number four on Yorkshire’s peak (3)
IVY: The Roman numeral four plus the first letter (peak) of Yorkshire

17d    Ring up boring relative for free (8)
UNCOUPLE: Insert (boring) the letter that looks like a ring plus UP from the clue into a male relative

18d    A jogger might help to do this on leg (8)
REMEMBER: a word meaning on or regarding, and what could be a leg or a limb

19d    Comic redcoat’s antiquated style (3,4)
ART DECO: An anagram (comic) of REDCOAT

21d    Necked deserted woman after party ends oddly (6)
DOWNED: WomaN without the central letters (deserted) follows (after) a 2-letter party, then the odd letters of EnDs

22d    One avoids angry-looking hail northwards (6)
EVADER: Reversal (northwards) of a colour that can mean angry-looking and the Latin word for hail

I liked 21d, 18d, 17a, and many more. Which were your favourite clues?

20 comments on “Toughie 1887

  1. I needed something to buck me up after today’s disappointing back-pager and this certainly did the trick. Another pangram too!

    I did find it quite tough and needed a bit of electronic help in places. It was such good fun that I pressed on and eventually completed it, having to consult Dutch’s excellent review only to decrypt 6a as I had no idea that stock was synonymous with the last four letters of the answer.

    Lots of clues came into consideration as my favourite but I’ll settle for 14a/16a with 18d a close second.

    Many thanks to Osmosis and to Dutch.

  2. Good fun and a steady solve for the most part, though I messed up 2d so couldn’t solve 8a, and I did not know 3d or 9a. I also had to look up the end part of 6a. The homophone at 23a doesn’t quite work for me, but I suppose it’s close enough. 18d is my standout winner today for the ‘moment’.

    Many thanks to Osmosis for the fun and Dutch for the 20a illustration… and the rest of the review.

  3. Don’t like the homophone of 23a. I bet Gazza doesn’t either!
    Pleased to finish this but I did need Dutch’s help with the parsing; especially 6a – and does the answer to 21d really mean “necked? I couldn’t run it to earth in my BRB or thesaurus. Still, it’s Friday and one way or the other, I’ve finished it! I’ll worry about the pangram later!

    1. Gazza normally complains when the final R is not pronounced – not quite the case here – but maybe he’ll complain anyway

      1. I’m not too bothered about that homophone – I think it more or less works. I wasn’t too enamoured of a few of the surfaces here, 2d especially which doesn’t make much sense to me. Top clues for me were 6d and 21d.
        Thanks to Osmosis and Dutch.

  4. I very much enjoyed this. I had not been having a successful toughie week up until now, but I was pleased to be able to finish this (I usually fall short of finishing Osmosis puzzles). There were several that I had not heard of, and like others I can’t ‘hear’ 23a. I spent some time looking for a Nina that I don’t think exists (I have yet to spot one without being prompted). Great fun, and many thanks to Osmosis and Dutch.

  5. No issues apart from 23A. I did get the correct answer but it was a bung-in. I knew neither the campaign nor the room. 14/16 was my first one in, and earned a tick but my favorite is 25A. I also liked 8A. Thanks Dutch and Osmosis.

  6. I enjoyed this one – just the surface of 2d causing raised eyebrows here.
    Took me a little while to sort out the parsing for 27a plus 1&2d – but the enumeration and checkers had already given me the answers so I could work it out backwards as it were.

    The vaulted room was new to me – camera obscura being the closest I could get!

    Favourite was 18d with 6&25a close behind.

    Thanks to Osmosis and to Dutch for the pictorial blog – do you happen to know where the 15d house is?

  7. What a great crossword. Last one I got was camera – forgot about that term until I got it.

    Thanks to all. Dutch, you find these too easy. This is not a 2/3 star crossword.

      1. Don’t apologise for being better than me at toughies!

        I often look at the blog, only on Fridays, before i do the crossword – just to see how difficult it has been rated. If it’s 5, I know that I’m not gonna finish within the allotted puzzles.telegraph time so print it out and do it over the weekend.

        I thought this one was 3/4 personally. Subjective as hell though

        1. Good comment, and it highlights something I worry about.

          I would like people to decide for themselves, after trying, how difficult a puzzle is. I’m not sure the difficulty ratings serve their purpose if they discourage.

          1. I do not rate puzzles. If I were inclined to give a star rating, it would be for fun and enjoyment only. If the difficulty rating is a measure of a master solver (which most of our bloggers are) it can indeed be very off-putting to the rank and file.

  8. We suppose all the reviewers canter through Toughies compared to us amateurs. We agree with TonyO about your ratings, Dutch. We have it as 4*/4.5*. We finished without recourse to your lovely blog though. Mrs Sheffieldsy actually said, “pangram alert” as 14, 16a went in quite early, then we forgot. It might have helped a little with 9a, our LOI.

    Out favourite is probably 4d.

    Thanks to Dutch and Osmosis.

    1. I am actually a slow solver, unlike people like cryptic sue etc.

      I’m tempted to tell you how long it takes me to solve the toughie, my expectation is that it is not much different to your own experience. If I ever canter through a toughie, well, it probably wasn’t a toughie.

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