Toughie 2377 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 2377

Toughie No 2377 by Osmosis

Hints and tips by Big Dave

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BD Rating – Difficulty ****Enjoyment *

Dutch is away this week but should be back next Friday.

There are various ways of setting a Toughie – Elgar-like fiendishness, the use of obscure words à la Giovanni and the sheer elegance of Notabilis, to name but three. Then there is a mix of Lego-type meaningless clues which is what we have today. For most of the clues the surface reading is pure gobbledegook, which leads to a difficult-to-solve puzzle that lacks any sense of satisfaction.

Please leave a comment telling us what you thought.


1a    Trickster on wheels Charlie occupies road, his famous feat out of this world (5,9)
LANCE ARMSTRONG: for trickster on wheels read cheating cyclist! – put C(harlie) inside a road and add the surname of a famous US astronaut

10a    This weapon’s found on banks of Calder by seaman (9)
CROSSWORD: weapon is preceded by the outer letters (banks) of C[alde]R and an abbreviation for a seaman

11a    Elbow grease primarily needed with exposed skirting (5)
NUDGE: the initial letter of G[rease] inside (with … skirting) an adjective meaning exposed or naked

12a    Plain black interpreted by Raphael, with everyone cycling in the foreground (7)
LLANERO: according to Chambers, this is not a plain but an inhabitant of one – the Italian (interpreted by Raphael) for black preceded by (in the foreground) a word meaning everyone with its initial letter moved to the end (cycling)

13a    I don’t like clothes Prince periodically displayed in Asian territory (6)
BORNEO: a word indicating dislike around (clothes) the even letters (periodically displayed) of a word in the clue

15a    What may accompany Scotch egg in periphery of Shetland area (4)
SODA: the egg-shaped letter goes inside the outer letters (periphery) of S[hetlan]D and is followed by A(rea)

17a    South American resident‘s car opened endlessly (10)
JAGUARUNDI: the name of this South American animal can be spelt in two different ways, only one of which fits the wordplay – a make of car is followed by a verb meaning opened without its final letter (endlessly)

18a    Soldier, one hundred and ten, touring city that’s not as good as expected (10)
ANTICLIMAX: a soldier insect is followed by the Roman numerals for one, a hundred and ten around a South American city

20a    Non-flowering plant westwards somewhat unrefined (4)
FERN: hidden (somewhat) and reversed (westwards) inside the clue

22a    Test fish nets back in laboratory (3,3)
TRY OUT: a fish around (nets) the final letter (back) of [laborator]Y

23a    Find fault with lime, having peeled fruit (7)
IMPEACH: [l]IM[e] without its outer letters (peeled) followed by a soft fruit

26a    Cruise acts erratically, bypassing Oscar (5)
COASTS: an anagram (erratically) of ACTS around the letter represented by Oscar in the NATO Phonetic alphabet

27a    Joy conserves energy — taking five — for ballet leap (9)
ELEVATION: a word meaning joy around (conserves) Energy and he Roman numeral for five

28a    One secretes nuts and bagels to sustain managing director (US) (9,5)
SEBACEOUS GLAND: an anagram (nuts) of AND BAGELS around (to sustain) an abbreviation for a managing director and US from the clue


2d    Tomb site covering over marketplace once (5)
AGORA: the site, in India, of a famous tomb around O(ver)

3d    Chest scanner envelops extremely sick European (6)
CASKET: a type of scanner used in hospitals around (envelops) the outer letters (extremely) of S[ic]K and E(uropean)

4d    Dipso’s latest stupor arises, Spanish port spilling from this vessel earlier (5,5)
AMOCO CADIZ: the reversal (arises) of the final letter (latest) of [dips]O with a stupor and followed by a Spanish port

5d    Fashion commentator’s lowered level of pitch? (4)
MODE: sounds like (commentator’s) a verb meaning lowered the level of the grass on a cricket pitch

6d    Kitchenware‘s finish in bronze and gold (7)
TANDOOR: not an item to be found in a typical British kitchen! – a two-letter verb meaning to finish inside a verb meaning to bronze the skin and the heraldic term for gold

7d    Regulation pants Ronnie cadged, half-cropped (9)
ORDINANCE: an anagram (pants) of RONNIE with the first half of CAD[ged]

8d    A Grecian throng reworked religious song (9,5)
GREGORIAN CHANT: an anagram (reworked) of A GRECIAN THRONG

9d    Manchester community copper’s protecting current wine book — it’s sacred (14)
ECCLESIASTICUS: a community in Greater Manchester, the chemical symbol for copper and the S from ‘S around the symbol for electric current and a sparkling Italian wine

14d    As it were, number two of teachers filled in, head being nauseous (10)
QUEASINESS: a five-letter word meaning as it were or pretty much around (filled in) the second letter (number two) of [t]E[achers] followed by a headland

16d    Bombastic article affected bird? My hat (9)
DITHYRAMB: the best definition I could find of the answer came from the Oxford Dictionary of English “a passionate or inflated speech, poem, or other writing” – an anagram (affected) of BIRD MY HAT

19d    An example of 15 extremists in Canada and US, twitching (7)
CAUSTIC: this word can precede the answer to 15 Across, although I wouldn’t recommend adding it to Scotch whisky! – the outer letters of (extremists in) C[and]A followed by US from the clue and a twitching

21d    Records describing battles around urban aggregation? (6)
SPRAWL: some long-playing records around (describing) a series of Battles, all reversed (around)

24d    Every year when climbing, Scotsman connected with colonist perhaps (5)
APIAN: the reversal (when climbing) of an abbreviation meaning every year is followed by a common Scottish first name – these colonists are insects!

25d    Ban covers motors, both mid-range (4)
VETO: the middle letters (mid-range) of two words (both) in the clue

By now you should have realised that I didn’t enjoy solving this puzzle.


14 comments on “Toughie 2377

  1. Odd surface readings and a bit of borrowing from the Book of Obscure Words, not to mention having to remember the name of tankers from the late 1970s. I was helped by it being a pangram as that indeed helped me get the ship. I was reluctant to write in the solution to 12a as I did know that the grassy plain didn’t have an ER in it.

    Definitely a Toughie (well I suppose it is Friday) but much of it for the wrong reasons. Thanks to BD and Osmosis

  2. Well, all the years of building Lego with my sons have clearly paid off as I found this to be ** in difficulty and to the point where I didn’t notice that the surfaces were truly meaningless until I read them again in your blog.

    Thanks all.

  3. I thought the puzzle started well with 1a and 10a being good clues – unfortunately it went downhill after that with far too many surfaces being gobbledegook.
    I spent as long on 12a as on the rest of the puzzle and I can only assume that a word from the clue got lost because all the dictionaries I consulted had the answer as an inhabitant or worker on the plain rather than the plain itself.
    Thanks to Osmosis and to BD.

  4. A tough Toughie for me. I counted 19clues that were not so bad but 8 others that were a major struggle. Last four to fall were 4d, 14d, 17d (those three helped by needing the final letters for a hoped for pangram, starting with the Spanish port, but needed Google to find the cat) and then 12a which I’ve never heard of but the answer was accepted. I agree that some of the surfaces were a bit bonkers, IMHO. Overall about ****/** for me but that time included going away to have a think about some things and have another drink (last night). Thanks to all.

  5. Found this a good challenge, and managed to finish after a steady slog with no recourse to reference books other than checking 12a and 17a were actually really words! I agree that 12a should be an inhabitant of the plain. Can’t find anything to contradict it! Very enjoyable.
    Thanks to all

  6. I did manage to finish this, but it was a mighty struggle. There were at least half a dozen definitions that lay off my beaten track (glands, plains, ships that sank in the ’70s, etc. etc.) Unfortunately I did not notice the possibility of a pangarm which may well have helped with the ship while at the same time wrestling with the plain. I was pleased to have finished, but I seldom enjoy (for me) obscurity ridden puzzles, and I am sorry that I did not enjoy this more than I did. Thanks, in any event, to Osmosis and Big Dave.

  7. We had to use some electronic assistance for the new words and GK.
    So we weren’t the only ones to think that 12a is incorrect.
    A pleasant solving experience for us.
    Thanks Osmosis and BD.

  8. Yesterday we had sodium hydroxide and today caustic soda. About the same thing really.
    That the only similarity between the two though.
    Very tough.
    Took a while to finish and the pangram helped in getting 14d and 18a.
    Thanks to Osmosis and to BD for the review.

  9. Struggled badly – not unusual for me on a Friday – but even after BD had enlightened me I was still struggling and unimpressed with some of the answers.
    Thanks to BD, but this puzzle was not for me.

  10. 15ac. What may accompany Scotch egg. Great start to a clue as it misdirects as a possible definition of a foodstuff when the answer is a drink. Gladly gave up though and tidied the woodshed instead. Ta to all

  11. I began the puzzle yesterday in a brewery taproom but only managed a handful of solutions. I think the Brass Castle Chestnut Mild may have had something to do with it.

    This morning, equipped with a clear head, I finished the puzzle. Luckily I remembered the “trickster on wheels” (1A) and the unfortunate vessel spillage (4D), however I take issue with 12A: a Llanero is an inhabitant of a Llano and not the plain itself.

  12. Well that was a true toughie, some of the answers I had never heard of. and it dosn’t help when I had put ECCLESIASTICAL in when in fact it was CUS at the end, which meant 28 across i thought began with “L” . So trying to work out the answer was in my mind someting that secretes was LACHRYMAL GLAND, which was never going to work.
    Tough Frustraing and Bloody Annoying

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