Toughie 1951 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 1951

Toughie No 1951 by Osmosis

Hints and tips by Dutch

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

A nice pangram from Osmosis, who is being a little bit devious today – the enjoyment here comes from solving his tricky clues rather than any laugh-out-loud moments, although several clues (Tommy Cooper for one) did raise a smile. A very satisfying puzzle. A few of the parsings only came to me as I was writing the review (e.g. 18d)

As always, finding the definitions is half the battle – they are underlined for you in the clues below. The hints are intended to help you unravel the wordplay, but if that is not enough you can reveal the answer by clicking on the TRAIN TICKET BOOKED button. Please leave a comment telling us what you thought.


1a    Bone, so long, found in French sea by Sarah (10)
METATARSAL: An informal (2-2) expression for so long or goodbye goes inside (found in) the French word for sea, followed by a nickname for Sarah

6a    Indication of coldness from old rail company confronting clergyman (4)
BRRR: The abbreviation of what used to be our national railway company plus (confronting) an abbreviation for a clergyman (a bishop usually, I think). And yes, it’s in Chambers.

9a    Left dislodging set of books in plain clothes (7)
APPAREL: The abbreviation for Left displaces (dislodging) the abbreviation for the most recent half of the bible in an 8-letter word meaning plain

10a    How teacher may show approval of fine lecture (4,3)
TICK OFF: A teacher’s mark of approval, OF from the clue, plus the abbreviation for Fine.

12a    Easily animated voice managed to restrain cat near furniture item (13)
OVEREXCITABLE: An anagram (managed) of VOICE contains (to restrain) a type of cat (Devon or Cornish ***), plus an item of furniture which might have chairs around it

14a    Posh academician contacts tabloid about revealing heavenly body (6)
URANUS: The abbreviation for Upper-class (posh), the abbreviation for Royal Academician, plus the reversal (about) of the name of a tabloid newspaper

15a    Track boxing extremists with killer hairstyle (5,3)
RAZOR CUT: A 3-letter track or groove, probably formed by continuous passage of wheels, contains (boxing) the extreme letters of the alphabet plus a 3-letter version of a killer whale

17a    On third of February, Wolves’ home tie stirred a certain left-winger (8)
BLAIRITE: The third letter of FeBruary, the den of a wolf, plus an anagram (stirred) of TIE

19a    New slug occupying midsection of onions completely (2,4)
IN TOTO: The abbreviation for new plus another word for slug (as in a drink) go inside (occupying) the central two letters (midsection) of onIOns

22a    Comedian Jack tossed spare orange to audience (6,7)
JASPER CARROTT: The first name comes from the cards abbreviation for Jack plus an anagram (tossed) of SPARE, the surname is a homophone of an orange colour derived from an orange-coloured root vegetable

24a    The writer’s back to house since tearing pieces of cartilage (7)
MENISCI: The reversal (back) of “the writer is” expressed from the setter’s point of view (1’1) contains (to house) an anagram (tearing) of SINCE

25a    Tommy Cooper makes this joke finally after son out of prison (7)
PRIVATE: A 3-letter word for what a cooper makes, the last letter (finally) of jokE, all coming after the word PRI(son) with SON removed (out of)

26a    Wise to reject vinyl worth a small amount (4)
OWLY: Reverse hidden (to reject …. a small amount)

27a    Ancient sport seen on prime battle site (10)
ARMAGEDDON: A 4-letter word meaning ancient or old plus a 3-letter word for sport (as in wear or put on) follows (seen on) a verb that can mean supply with firing power


1d    Defence bird once needed, ending in court (4)
MOAT: An extinct (once) bird form New Zealand plus the last letter (ending) in court

2d    Spanish snack outside one company — knocked back pudding (7)
TAPIOCA: A 4-letter Spanish snack goes around (outside) the Roman numeral for one plus a reversal (knocked back) of the abbreviation for company

3d    They play rugby nine months of the year (5-8)
THREE QUARTERS: 9 months out of 12 would be … ( I’m sorry to say I had to check my rugby positions)

4d    Register royal wave (6)
ROLLER: A register or list followed by the abbreviation for our queen

5d    Tyrant in boozy party holding court, dancing with famous model (8)
AUTOCRAT: The abbreviation of a society of reformed drinkers (maybe not-quite-so-boozy a party anymore) contains an anagram (dancing) of COURT, followed by a famous early model of a Ford car

7d    TV chef twice in church to see shape of tiles? (7)
RHOMBIC: Well, I suppose tiles could have this shape as well as many other shapes: The surname of Ken, a well-known Chinese-cuisine chef, plus a prefix meaning twice go inside (in) the abbreviation for a particular church or religion

8d    Official reading Mirror has this property (10)
REFLECTION: The short form of a football official plus a reading or a lesson read in church

11d    Belittle what an editor may do (3,4,2,4)
CUT DOWN TO SIZE: Two meanings – one of the jobs of an editor would be to limit the length of submissions…

13d    Relative starts to bring out giant rhubarb (5-5)
MUMBO-JUMBO: A maternal relative, the first letters (starts) of Bring Out, plus a word meaning giant (think jet)

16d    More tenacious athlete inclined to hide sign of nervousness (8)
STICKIER: A winter-sport athlete who enjoys inclines contains a 3-letter nervous twitch

18d    First answer here half-written when grappling in French magazine (7)
ARSENAL: The second half of the answer to 1a (first answer here half-written) contains (when grappling) a 2-letter French word for ‘in’

20d    Superficial conflict follows unpopular Democrat (7)
OUTWARD: A 3-letter conflict comes after a word meaning no longer popular, all followed by the abbreviation for Democrat

21d    Good rhythmical musician heard showing spirit (6)
GRAPPA: This Italian spirit comes from the abbreviation for Good followed by a homophone (heard) of a “singer” who delivers lyrics in boring monotone (I imagine the ‘ rhythmical musician’ was facetious)

23d    Youngster‘s driving assistant inside in panic (4)
TEEN: Something to help you place your golf ball (driving assistant) plus the central letter (inside in) of panic


I think the Tommy Cooper clue was my favourite today. I also liked 18d (once I parsed it), 10a, & 4d. Which clues did you like?

25 comments on “Toughie 1951

  1. I enjoyed this – thanks to Osmosis and Dutch (I failed to notice that it was a pangram). I liked 5d (‘boozy party’ made me laugh), 13d (for the giant rhubarb), 22a and 27a best. The clue I liked least was 21d.

    1. Naturally – I should have remembered and commented that you were unlikely to appreciate it.

  2. I did notice it was a pangram which helped a bit with the stragglers. I liked 26a although I could have added more to the list

    Thanks to setter and blogger

  3. 7d by the way tiles can’t be pentagonal. Can’t fill space with 5-fold symmetry. 2-fold (rectangles), 3-fold (triangles), 4-fold (square), 6-fold (hexagonal) all fine. A free lesson from a crystallographer. Never draw a 5-fold snowflake (snowflakes have hexagonal symmetry).

    1. But you can tile with irregular pentagons. See “pentagonal tiling” in Wikipedia. Apparently there are 15 different examples known.

  4. I enjoyed this very much – more so in that I was able to finish it. However, I was fortunate in places. I had not heard of the comedian in 22a, however, the word play and the checkers led me there easily enough. I was feeling very smug that I had heard of Tommy Cooper, but the smugness faded when I realized . . . . . . . I certainly needed Dutch to appreciate fully the cleverness of some of the clues – 18d is a prime example. I hadn’t noticed that is was a pangram – a pity because I think it would have been helpful in the latter stages. Many thanks to Osmosis and Dutch. (p.s. it was me that inadvertently mangled my alias yesterday for which I apologize – I thought it was the electronic gods that were at fault, but thank you Big Dave for pointing me towards what I had done!)

  5. Thanks for feedback on the other puzzle. It pains me to repeat my objection to vicars, bishops and others being defined as clergyMEN. I’m not sure that RR=clergyman would be to the liking of the current Bishop of Gloucester, for instance. I may be behind the times according to some with my cultural references, but as an enthusiast for women’s ordination, I am pained by having to repeat this little homily to crossword setters ( and alas editors) over and over again!

    1. I agree wholeheartedly.

      The problem extends beyond the clergy.

      I am conscious that technically, a male answer for a generic clue is as valid as fir for tree, for example, but today we have a gender-specific clue with a non-gendered answer.

      I would ask you Don to keep pointing this out and to extend your views to other professions

    2. I completely agree. However, when I was beginning to learn how to solve cryptic crosswords, now a good many years ago, I was often struck by the frequency of references to men or man that could have equally applied to women or woman. I don’t notice it nearly so often now – perhaps, and hopefully, because as a crossword community we have become more thoughtful and sensitive in these references? I was very fortunate to have taught in a girls school for 35 years and one of the principals that I worked for (all women) went on to be an Anglican bishop. She was every bit as fine a bishop as she was a principal.

  6. I really enjoyed this one – due no doubt to the fact that I managed to complete and fully parse it without any assistance from Mr Google! I did hesitate a little over the ending of 8d as I thought the ‘ive’ ending was a better match with the definition – obviously wouldn’t fit with the ‘reading’ though.

    Always surprises me that the ending of 1a is referred to as a form of Sarah – I have known quite a few ‘Sarahs’ and not one of them was ever called by that alternative or was even aware of it.

    Ticks awarded to 10&27a along with 4&15d. Special mention for 22a – I seem to recall that someone slated him on the blog recently but his ‘An audience with….’ TV series always made me laugh. His rendition of ‘From a distance’ still makes me smile.

    Thanks to Osmosis and to Dutch for the blog – not very happy with your choice of picture for 5d but I guess I should have expected it!

    1. Lots of names are shortened to -az -ez -al and others in south London / east end slang. Eg Darren = daz or dazza, gerry or jeremy = jez, Sarah can also be sez! Gary = gaz or gazza. There are loads of them !

  7. Came slightly unstuck at 15a because I had the wrong ending for 7d and had not come across the three letter killer. 18d fave – fab!
    Thanks for setting me straight on those, Dutch, and thanks to Osmosis for a nice puzzle.

  8. A nice puzzle indeed.

    I found it quite tough, principally because some of the SI is expanded, for instance T is not just ‘model’, but becomes ‘famous model’. That’s okay, but I found myself wondering what the famous bit was for until I realised. The position of ‘needed’ as well, for instance, in the relevant clue, could be regarded as muddying the waters, and it delayed me, but perfectly all right as far as style is concerned.

    Many thanks to Osmosis and Dutch.

  9. At first this seemed very gentle indeed for a Friday Toughie but then I hit a few snags, mainly in the south. Thought I might end up using a little help so was happy that I managed it all in the end.

    I liked the athlete inclined (16d), the giant rhubarb (13d) and the boozy party (5d).

    Thanks to Osmosis and Dutch.

  10. We had justified the killer in 15a from Tolkein (it is mentioned in BRB) and did not realise it was an alternative spelling of the whale. We had noted the pangram but not in time to be any help with the solving. A real penny-drop moment with 25a. Really good fun and much appreciated.
    Thanks Osmosis and Dutch

  11. A puzzle that I suspect must have played to my strengths, as I clocked in a * for difficulty. Devious, clever wordplay, fantastic stuff. :-) I didn’t notice the pangram, though I wasn’t looking for help with the grid today. A good end to the Toughie week.

  12. Respect to you, Jon S. I was on track for a comfortable 3* but couldn’t get 13d or 24a without hints, so 4* difficulty for my money. I enjoyed 15a. Thanks to Osmosis, and Dutch.

  13. Nearly got there. Couldn’t parse 7dn, and needed hints with 27 a. Never noticed the pangram, but all in all a nice tricky puzzle which I enjoyed a lot
    Thanks to osmosis & Dutch.
    Favourite clue 13dn

  14. We really enjoyed this – a great way to end the week. We agree with Dutch’s difficulty rating but we’d give it four for pleasure.

    What a marvellous clue 25a is. And what a horrid word the answer to 26a is.

    Thanks to Dutch and Osmosis.

  15. Definitely needed help with some parsing, and I guessed Jester Carrott for 23A and Google corrected me. I enjoyed it enough to keep going and cross the finish line. Thanks Osmosis and Dutch.

  16. Didn’t start this until yesterday and then got 15a wrong! Took a while to get 12a (despite having owned a Devon Rex) and couldn’t parse 18d despite being a (beleaguered!) supporter (team pic probably a bit out of date by now). Favourite was 25a because it was so clever.

    Thanks for the explanations.

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