Toughie 2170 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 2170

Toughie No 2170 by Osmosis

Hints and tips by Dutch

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

As usual, we have a meticulously-clued pangram from Osmosis, with smooth surfaces elegantly combining definition and wordplay. My own solving experience didn’t go that well: when I eventually submitted online, I saw I had 6 errors but the bit that highlights where they are flashed past and I missed it. I had to print out the puzzle to finish it. I had stupidly bunged in E-RETAIL (19d) which caused some problems, and I found some more mistakes. Some words and slang I didn’t know made me grumpy, and the funny clue at 13a (now corrected in the online version) made me grumpier, but I think I got there in the end. I hope it went more smoothly for you!

Definitions are underlined. The hints and tips are intended to help unravel the wordplay, and you can reveal the answers by clicking on the click here! buttons. Please leave a comment telling us what you thought.


1a    Second check by John, reversing coach (6)
SCHOOL: The abbreviations for second and check, and a reversal (reversing) of a John

4a    Not a sound hairdresser, principally lacking craft (8)
SHRIMPER: an interjection meaning ‘not a sound’, plus a slang word for hairdresser I didn’t know without the first letter (principally lacking)

9a    Invaders originating here cross further into state (6)
SAXONY: The letter that looks like a cross and a preposition meaning further go inside (into) a verb meaning state

10a    Company heartlessly level old wharf, without a mutual discourse (8)
COLLOQUY: The abbreviation for company, level without the central letters (heartlessly), the abbreviation for old, and a 4-letter word for wharf without a

11a    Early Ford van’s last to have accommodated Charlie Christian (8)
ANGLICAN: A 6-letter early model of a Ford car plus the last letter of van goes around (to have accommodated) the letter corresponding to the radio code Charlie

13a    Discussed slippery matter for European nation (6)
GREECE: A homophone (discussed) of some slippery matter or lubricant. At time of solving, this clue was “Slippery matter European nation discussed”, suggesting a homophone of a country giving a lubricant, which did not fit the checkers. Now corrected in the online version.

15a    Chef rearmost in kitchen allowing ales to be drunk (7,6)
NIGELLA LAWSON: The last letter (rearmost) in kitchen plus an anagram (to be drunk) of ALLOWING ALES

18a    Court favourite with fantastic later sequence of shots, some might say (6,7)
WALTER RALEIGH: The court of Eliazabeth I, that is. The abbreviation for with, an anagram (fantastic) of LATER, and a homophone (some might say) of a sequence of shots (in a tennis game, for example)

22a    Become more relaxed when blocked by the Spanish police (3,3)
THE LAW: A word meaning to become more relaxed or less frosty has inserted (when blocked by) the Spanish word for the

24a    Some of media led attack rejecting old consort (8)
ADELAIDE: Reverse hidden (some of … rejecting). The definition refers to a queen consort, here the wife of William IV.

26a    Spread about bowls in clay, evenly firing to produce earthenware (8)
MAJOLICA: The reversal (about) of a spread you might put on toast, then the even letters (evenly firing, I think as in regularly dismissing) of ‘bowls in clay’.


27a    Net giant tropical fish swimming here (6)
AMAZON: Two meanings, an online shopping business and an area in Brazil

28d    Finally, Amateur Theatre ticket — one near circle — reserved (8)
RETIRING: The last letters (finally) of amateur theatre ticket, the Roman numeral for one and another word for circle

29d    Lovely rum shot (6)
VOLLEY: An anagram (rum) of LOVELY


1d    Band, that played covers essentially, move with flamboyance (6)
SASHAY: A 4-letter word for a band worn around the waist and the central letters (that … covers essentially) of played

2d    Male lacrosse team, American, playing along with several sides (9)
HEXAGONAL: A male pronoun, a Roman numeral signifying the number of players in a lacrosse team, the single letter abbreviation for American, and an anagram (playing) of ALONG

3d    Noise from Tamworth boozer’s commonest character — popular man (7)
OINKING: The most prevalent character in ‘boozer’, a short word meaning popular, and the top man on a chess board

5d    House to back what’s voiced in parliament? (4)
HOOT: The abbreviation for house and a reversal (back) of TO from the clue

6d    Ancient region, adversely breezy to the north (7)
ILLYRIA: A 3-letter word for adversely or poorly, then a reversal (to the north) of a word meaning breezy

7d    Fabric one detects on eccentric, without hesitation (5)
PIQUE: The abbreviation for someone who detects or investigates, then a 5-letter word meaning eccentric or weird removing the last two letters that express hesitation (without hesitation)

8d    Ex-footballer Yorke condemned article on Spain (3,5)
ROY KEANE: An anagram (condemned) of YORKE, an indefinite article, and the IVR for Spain

12d    What siren may do, indicating game over, with everyone having to be first heading for exit (6)
ALLURE: The reversal (over) of a game with funny-shaped balls, a word meaning everyone coming before that (to be first), then the first letter (heading) for exit

14d    Well-known ace was captain (6)
FABLED: A slang word meaning ace or terrific, plus a word meaning headed (a team)

16d    Cheer school raising money, unknown number content to help (9)
SCHNITZEL: Cheer here means food, which confused me for some time. The 3-letter abbreviation for school, a reversal (raising) of a slang word for money, a letter often used as algebraic variable, and the inner letters of (content to) help

17d    One sleeps around early afternoon perhaps, shown by clock? (3-5)
TWO-TIMER: A time in the early afternoon, plus another word for clock

19d    Shop online, always bypassing queue (1-6)
E-TAILER: A poetic word for always goes around (bypassing) a word that has queue as definition 10 in BRB

20d    Heart of chinook catches branch left hanging (2,5)
IN LIMBO: The central 3 letters (heart) of chinook goes around (catches) another word for branch

21d    Note Glen, busy getting fifty per cent off Mini (6)
TEENSY: The second half (getting 50% off) of the first 3 words in the clue

23d    Jim endlessly wears reflective casual shirt in lemon (5)
EEJIT: Jim from the clue without the last letter (endlessly) goes inside (wears) a reversal (reflective) of a casual shirt

25d    Second big house survey (4)
SCAN: The abbreviation plus another slang word for big house or prison

I liked the animal sounds best (3d and 5d), with 5d having a particularly good surface. Which clues did you like?

24 comments on “Toughie 2170

  1. Apart from the slippery nation clue, I did enjoy this – I particularly liked the number of well-disguised definitions. I didn’t find it as difficult as today’s blogger and finished much sooner than I’d have expected for a Friday toughie.

    My particular favourite was 5d as, like the connection between soldiers and eggs, I always take a while to spot this particular parliamentary link

    Thanks to Osmosis and Dutch

  2. I found this not too tricky (as Friday Toughies go – it’s all relative) in spite of the error in the earlier version of 13a and being misled initially into trying to remember the first name of (Dwight) Yorke. Everything was very fairly clued.
    I liked 18a, 22a and 21d but my favourite was 5d.
    Thanks to Osmosis and Dutch.

    Good luck to Wales this evening!

  3. Thanks Dutch. I thought this was a full five stars for enjoyment. Terrific. (And something to cheer me up after the Jeremy Hardy news.)

    Nice to see a reference to my special field with the reference to Charlie Christian, a bebop pioneer whose influence is hard to exaggerate.

    1. I’ve just seen the news about Jeremy Hardy – how unexpected and sad. He was a very witty man.

  4. Found the right hand side more difficult than the left and thought it extremely unfair to have TWO footballers in one clue!
    Got fooled by the original clue to 13a which made 7d rather difficult and 16d needed all the checkers in place – cheer is a remarkably all-encompassing definition!

    As per Dutch, it was the animal noises that appealed the most here.

    Thanks to Osmosis and to Dutch for the blog and the delightful parliament.

  5. Nice to see Charlie Christian get a namecheck [11a]. Is Osmosis a jazz fan?
    Thanks to him and Dutch.

  6. Not impressed by 8d. I do not like having to Google ex footballers (not my game) and then to find Dwight was a red herring. I also searched air aces for the 14d captain. Surely there must have been a WW1 captain who was a fighter ace? No, well at least not one that fitted.

    Trying not to feel cheated with this. There were 4 proper names which I felt really belonged in a Sunday GK and not a cryptic even if one was the delicious 15a!q

    Actually, if Charlie Christian was an unlikely real person, there were 5.

  7. I had the pleasure and satisfaction of completing this, but I’m afraid there were too many things that I was unfamiliar with to make this an truly enjoyable solve, and at times it turned into quite a slog for me. The NE corner gave me the greatest challenge. I had the original version of 13a and so I began with the wrong homonym, added to that I did not know the fabric in 7d, the footballer in 8d, the ancient region in 6d nor the chef in 15a. I fared a little better in other parts, but there were references (earthenware, Tamworth, etc.) and slang that took me a long while to untangle. Thanks to Osmosis and, as usual on Friday, Dutch.

  8. The wording of 13 across in the newspaper version spoiled what for me was a very entertaining Toughie on a raw Salopian afternoon. I had quite a few bung ins and needed to check the blog to parse them. Having said all, I’m more than happy to have completed a Friday Toughie. My thanks to Osmosis and to Dutch for some much appreciated explanations.

  9. Yes, 5d for me, a funny definition.

    The slippery nation clue had me thinking, how often does this formula result in the wrong ‘end’ of the clue being prioritised? Over the years, and especially in The Guardian , I have seen this often.

    Thank you Osmosis and Dutch.

    1. Sometimes there is an ambiguity, which is unfortunate and not good setting. In this case, there was no ambiguity, it was simply the wrong way around – suggesting an error or oversight. These things can happen and ideally are caught in the editorial process. Since osmosis is well-known and appreciated for his exact cluing, an editorial oversight is surely forgiveable. A rare event.

  10. My usual gripe with all the names, but I still enjoyed much of this. Thanks Osmosis and Gazza

      1. thank you, dear sir :)
        Early days, given the circs, but any chance of you making York this year?

    1. Lots. There’s a few on the three reviews I posted on bash-related crosswords last weekend. I expect BD will add more to the Gallery in due course

  11. Needed the hints to complete the NE.
    Even with only the first two letters missing, I couldn’t see the region in 6d. 7d was supposed to end with an A in my version and the answer to 4a remained a mystery.
    The rest didn’t put too much of a fight thankfully.
    Thanks to Osmosis and to Dutch for the much needed help.

  12. The wind has rather been taken out of our sails re the mistake in the 13a clue. It gave us all sorts of problems with 7d before we worked out what was wrong. The footballer went in quite quickly even though the name was just a very vague inkling of memory for one of us. Realising a panagram was in the offering was a big help at the finish where with just two words to go we still had no Z. quickly sorted when we noticed this. Thoroughly enjoyable for us. Tough but not diabolical.
    Thanks Osmosis and Dutch.

  13. We only do the on line puzzle .we are curious as to what the erroneous clue at 13across was?
    Took a while to get going, learnt some new words,and enjoyed the ride

  14. Have just seen Dutch’s comment so no need to tell .slapped wrist for not reading the review properly

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