Toughie 2354 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 2354

Toughie No 2354 by Osmosis

Hints and tips by Dutch

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

Osmosis gives us yet another pangram (of course), but today’s puzzle has an additional gimmick which helped me a lot with the solve. I did need to look at the big red book occasionally. Precise clueing and clever surfaces as always.

Definitions are underlined in the clues below. The hints are intended to help you unravel the wordplay, and you can reveal the answers by clicking on the EEEEEEEE buttons. Please leave a comment telling us what you thought.

I won’t see you again until 2020, so have a wonderful Christmas and New Year and remember, if everyone just did crosswords all the time we would have world peace. Your contribution is valued.


6a    Junk on sale by river irks posh types (6,7)
SLOANE RANGERS: An anagram (junk, the verb) of ON SALE, the abbreviation for river and a word meaning irks

8a    Gaelic woman‘s delight regularly apparent when receiving hat (6)
EILIDH: The even letters (regularly apparent) of delight contain (when receiving) an informal word for a hat

9a    Bearing first of children with Mike out of wedlock (8)
CARRIAGE: The first letter of children plus a word meaning wedlock from which the letter corresponding to the international radio code Mike is removed (with … out of)

10a    Behind loaf tin, a slice (3)
AFT: Hidden (… a slice)

11a    Is the new crossing good for boats? (6)
EIGHTS: An anagram (new) of IS THE goes around (crossing) the abbreviation for good

12a    Former carriage, interior not given public appearance (8)
EXPOSURE: A 2-letter word meaning former, then a word meaning carriage or stance without the central letter (interior not given)

14a    Margaret misses initial lodging because that’s warmer at breakfast-time? (3-4)
EGG-COSY: A 5-letter nickname for Margaret without the first letter (misses initial) contains (lodging) an informal version of because.

16a    Protective preparation made by civil engineer guarding home when on holiday (7)
VACCINE: The abbreviation for civil engineer contains (guarding) a preposition meaning home comes after (when on) a casually abbreviated word for holiday

20a    Doc with meter reviewed layer of embryo (8)
ECTODERM: An anagram (reviewed) of DOC + METER

23a    Opening with Ron’s car key again (2-4)
RE-TYPE: The first letter of (opening with) Ron plus a Jaguar sports model, suggestive of this puzzle!

24a    Amount of weight seaman’s carrying variable (3)
OZS: The abbreviation for ordinary seaman contains (carrying) one of the three usual algebraic variables

25a    Crystalline rock in wagon procured by pick (8)
ELVANITE: A 3-letter wagon goes inside (procured by) a word for pick, as in best or choicest

26a    Bird‘s training collie latterly to pen sheep (6)
PEEWEE: An exercise class plus the last letter (latterly) of collie contains (to pen) a female sheep

27a    Attendant with historical records (five lost) for certain governments (13)
SQUIREARCHIES: A 6-letter attendant (of a knight perhaps, or a man escorting a lady) and an 8-letter word for historical records missing the Roman numeral for five. Not a word I had come across before



1d    Period clothes mostly embroidered, dressing two separately (8)
EOLITHIC: An anagram (embroidered) of CLOTHE(s) without the final letter (mostly), contains (dressing) the Roman numeral for two split into separate insertions (separately)

2d    Engraves swallows in elaborate scene (8)
ENCHASES: A verb that could mean swallows goes inside (in) an anagram (elaborate) of SCENE

3d    Electronic playing facility rock ‘n’ roller built (7)
ERECTED: The abbreviation for electronic, a playing field, and someone who fashions themselves as a rocker

4d    Middle of emmental portion served up to catch vermin? (6)
ENTRAP: The question mark indicates vermin as an example. The central letters (middle) of emmental plus the reversal (served up, in a down clue) of a 4-letter word meaning portion

5d    European pair extremely joyous drinking vermouth and lemon — more than one (6)
EEJITS: The abbreviation for European, twice (pair), then the outer letters of (extremely) joyous contain (drinking) a 2-letter word for vermouth (as in gin and **)

6d    Activity and feature of adders? They make calculations (7,6)
SLIDING SCALES: Something adders are good at, plus something they have

7d    Entrepreneur on break working out, as part of a five-a-day regime? (5,4,4)
SUGAR SNAP PEAS: A TV host entrepreneur, a word meaning break, an exercise class at school, plus AS from the clue (note the ‘on’ in a down clue used to mean above, vs “added on” in an across clue as in 14a)

13d    Killer in Worcs borders hiding (3)
ORC: Worcs from the clue without the outer letters (borders hiding)

15d    Approved of Kelvin disrupting party revolutionary (3)
OK’D: The abbreviation for Kelvin is inserted into (disrupting) the reversal of a 2-letter party

17d    Feeling mushy peas around cold room above Iceland, say (8)
AIRSPACE: Or any other country, the question mark indicating an example. Another word for feeling or aura, then an anagram (mushy) of PEAS around the abbreviation for cold

18d    Match during competition that is a favourite? (5-3)
CUTIE-PIE: Another word for match or equal inside (during) a word for a competition, then the abbreviation for that is

19d    Perhaps pond-life seem to incite pub brouhaha, all ending in casualty (7)
AMOEBAE: The last letters (all ending) of 5 words in the clue go inside (in) a 2-letter abbreviation for a hospital casualty department

21d    Obscure old film on teeth student ignored (6)
OPAQUE: The abbreviation for old, then the film on your teeth without the abbreviation for Learner (student ignored)

22d    One moving overseas record company erected work unit (6)
EMIGRE: An old record company then the reversal (erected, in a down clue) of the CGS unit of work

Loads to pick from but I think 9a was my favourite. Which clues did you like?


17 comments on “Toughie 2354

  1. Some of it very obscure such as 25a and 20a…and what about Terry Wogan’s 5d? I did not get that even though I was looking to include the letter J.

    So, Happy Christmas to all those bloggers we do not meet again until next year. How will we all survive?

  2. Solved and parsed, so no reason to be here – except to say how much I enjoyed it. So many clues where I wasted time thanks to clever misdirects. And I learned that the BRB has orc and orca as equivalent (OED doesn’t, and I quibble) – and then having read the blog I end up carping inspite of myself. Sorry Dutch, that bird is not a peewee (peewit/lapwing). But to return to my first point – thanks Osmosis. 3/4:4.
    Thanks also to Dutch, Yuletide felicitations – even though you set me off being contrary when I logged in only to praise.

  3. The peripheral pattern both made the whole puzzle easier, once I’d got three or four answers in, and necessitated some unusual words (at least for me) on the left-hand side.
    I wasn’t very keen on 24a or 15d.
    My ticks went to 9a, 14a and 23a (thanks to Dutch for pointing out the significance of the car to the puzzle – that had gone over my head).
    Thanks to Osmosis and Dutch and Season’s Greetings to both.

    1. Thanks to Gazza for making me realize that I really need to look at the grid and not just the clues to solve a Toughie. Having solved it and having read Dutch’s blog I still hadn’t spotted the ‘peripheral’ theme. Am I the only one never to have spotted a Nina, eyes glued to the clues? Must do better next year.

      1. I very rarely look closely at grids so more often than not miss ninas peripheral or otherwise

  4. We obviously found this much trickier than Dutch did. Struck a real log jam part of the way through and it was then that we noticed the peripheral pattern that got us started again and eventually we got everything sorted. Needed Google help for the likes of 8a and 25a though.
    An enjoyable exercise.
    Thanks Osmosis and Dutch.

  5. I found this mighty hard work. There were all sorts of things that I could not quite work out – for instance in 7d, I don’t think I have any idea who the entrepreneur is, nor what the definition has to do with any five-a-day regime. I tumbled to the outer pattern far later than I should have, but it did help me to get over the finish line eventually, but without a huge sense of accomplishment. I’m sorry I did not enjoy this more than I did, but thank you anyway, Osmosis, and Dutch.

    1. Lord Sugar, an entrepreneur, is known as the host of “The apprentice”
      five-a-day is the recommended number of vegetable portions a day

      1. Thank you very much – I don’t believe that “The apprentice” has been aired (is it a TV show?) in my part of the world.

  6. Needed a little help from Dutch to complete, but a nice-ish challenge anyway. Did anyone notice that, while yesterday’s Toughie had WISE for 26a, in today’s paper edition in the filled-in grid it’s WUSS? WISE is clearly correct. Crazy world.

    Thanks to Dutch and Osmosis and Season’s Greeting to all.

  7. Didn’t know the Gaelic first name, the rock nor the type of government but they were easily checked.
    Noticing the E frame helped a bit.
    Thanks to Osmosis and to Dutch.
    Have a great holiday….skiing maybe?

    1. I’ll take son and daughter skiing in february (well, these days they take me). For now, just a quick visit to thailand with daughter.

  8. An enjoyable puzzle, although the SE corner took me some time to complete. Once I’d noticed the E-frame I corrected my answer to 5d and then (thankfully!) didn’t need to find a “J” in “Peewee”!

    I didn’t particularly like 24a and 15d and hadn’t heard of 25a.

    Podium places went to 23a and 18d.

    Thanks to Osmosis and to Dutch (enjoy Thailand!) for the blog.

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