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Toughie 2425

Toughie No 2425 by Osmosis

Hints and tips by Dutch

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

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

Our Pangram Maestro gives us a double pangram today, again with a grid that avoids use of strange vocabulary, very clever. If you want to understand how much of a feat this is, just have a go at filling a blank grid with a double pangram. Ha! You see now! I have only ever managed a single pangram (Independent on Sunday, 1521). I had noticed my grid was one letter short of a pangram and I spent half a day working out how to get that last letter in. I was proud that it appeared natural enough for the blogger to miss the pangram. Our own Maize (rookie puzzles 69, 81, ntspp 343, 350) of course is quite good at this art, having offered a quadruple pangram for his debut puzzle in the Independent (9392) and thereafter a (now legendary) penta-pangram for his 2018 New Year’s day puzzle (Independent 9740). That did however include a Syrian city (albeit a well-known one). So yes, I continue to be massively impressed at how Osmosis has, with apparent ease and without complexity, produced pangrams for every one of his grids for quite some time now. In addition, the clueing is clever and precise, with some cracking surfaces today. Great fun – and yes, I did manage to use the pangram in the solve (for 2d, for example).

Please leave a comment telling us what you thought.


1a    Authoritarian head of athletics cancelling street dash (6)
FASCIA: An authoritarian in government with extreme nationalist tendencies in which the final abbreviation for street is replaced (cancelled) by the first letter (head) of athletics

4a    Extremely concise celebration of cheese? (8)
BRIEFEST: Split (4,4), the answer would be a celebration of cheese

9a    Sports team‘s horse making name quietly (6)
EQUIPE: A word meaning horse in which the abbreviation for name is changed to (making) the musical abbreviation for quietly

10a    Mate let extension that includes broadcasting service on TV (8)
TELETEXT: Hidden (… that includes)

11a    Mocking English father in short film falling over (8)
DERISIVE: A reversal (falling over) of the abbreviation for English, then a word meaning to father inside (in) a short colloquial form of a recorded movie

13a    Moderate intelligence talker regularly displayed (6)
GENTLE: A 3-letter word for intelligence or news then the odd letters (regularly displayed) of talker

15a    The European fellows gossip in the City about former PM (7,6)
CLEMENT ATTLEE: A European translation of the article ‘the’, a 3-letter word for fellows or blokes and a 6-letter word meaning gossip or talk go inside a reversal (about) of the postcode for the financial part of London known as the City

18a    Maestro obsessive maintains high speed during drive (7,6)
ANTONIN DVORAK: A 6-letter obsessive or geek contains (maintains) a 3-letter high speed, a 2-letter preposition meaning during, and the abbreviation for drive used in a street address

22a    Power of films beginning to transfix class of schoolkids? (6)
TYRONE: The definition asks for the first name of filmstar Mr Power. The first letter (beginning) of transfix, then a (2,3) construction that refers to a particular class of school kids

24a    Panelling, the centrepiece of Newark home, by Mackintosh perhaps (8)
WAINSCOT: The central letters (centrepiece) of Newark, a small word meaning home, and the national that Mackintosh would exemplify

26a    Jack has maybe forty-five minutes to fill in reflective passage for blog (1-7)
E-JOURNAL: The card abbreviation for Jack plus 75% of HOUR (45 mins) goes inside (to fill in) a reversal (reflective) of a passage or narrow street

27a    Dirt from end of shoe found in lounge by son (6)
SLEAZE: The last letter (end) of shoe goes inside a verb meaning to lounge or idle, after (by) the abbreviation for son

28a    Being convenient, make an advance towards head (8)
NEARNESS: To make an advance or approach plus a word for head or promontory

29a    Remain after others leave relative to cross river (4,2)
STAY ON: A 3-letter relative goes around (to cross) a river in Scotland


1d    Field day in the outskirts of Fermanagh? (6)
FLEADH: An all-in-one, with the whole clue doubling as the definition. A 3-letter field or meadow plus the abbreviation for day go inside (in) the outer letters (outskirts) of Fermanagh

2d    Crouch keeps on about top-class shot at Old Trafford? (6,3)
SQUARE CUT: A word meaning crouch contains a short word for on or concerning, the 1-letter Latin abbreviation for about, and an abbreviation meaning top- or upper-class

3d    This person’s exhaust gets bunged up on M25 area gridlock (7)
IMPASSE: How the setter might say ‘this person is’ (1’1), the reversal (gets bunged up) of a 3-letter word meaning exhaust or drain, plus the general area of England where the M25 is located

5d    Leader of kids always raised stink (4)
REEK:     A reversal of (raised) the first letter (leader) of kids plus a poetic version of a word meaning always

6d    He perhaps needs part for water heater (7)
ELEMENT: Read chemically, He is an example of an …

7d    Make a strenuous effort taking piano from specialist (5)
EXERT:     Remove the music abbreviation for piano from a word meaning specialist

8d    One who reckons that Cockney lady’s a drunk? (8)
TOTTERER: A 6-letter word for one who reckons or adds, plus how a Cockney would say ‘that lady’

12d    Intersecting diagram contains one area somewhere in mid-Europe (6)
VIENNA: Osmosis is kind to narrow things down with mid. A mathematical diagram of circles that indicate how groups of things might intersect contains the Roman numeral for one, followed by the abbreviation for area

14d    Rower Redgrave, short of energy, I put on a sugar substitute (6)
STEVIA: The first name of Rower Redgrave without the final abbreviation for energy, plus (put on) I and A from the clue

16d    Enjoy a particular version of golf intensely (4,5)
LIKE CRAZY: To enjoy or appreciate, plus a particular (not very serious) version of golf

17d    Siesta over, switched on the building in Rome (8)
PANTHEON: The reversal (over) of a 3-letter word for siesta, then ON and THE from the clue but in switched order

19d    Property of fabric female gets to male cryptically thus? (3-4)
NON-IRON: A cryptic indication of a description applied to the word female that would turn it into the word male

20d    Some of Barnet gang joining obstruction (7)
RINGLET: Another word for a (criminal) gang plus an obstruction in sports (e.g., by the net in tennis)

21d    Loosely scattered timber abandoned in all directions (6)
STREWN: TimbeR without its content letters (abandoned, as in deserted) goes inside (in) the 4 compass points (all directions)

23d    Rim on jar continually leaking latest booze from Spain (5)
RIOJA: The first 3 words in the clue all without the last letter (continually leaking latest)

25d    Rude-sounding vocalist (4)
BASS:     A homophone of a word meaning rude or contemptible

My favourite clue is the Maestro obsessive (18a) – brilliant! The Maestro was of course an iconic Austin car from the 80s. I also liked 2d and 6d for the elegant hidden capitalisations at the start of a sentence, and I liked the continually leaking device in 23d. Which clues did you like?

40 comments on “Toughie 2425

  1. Not only a double pangram but also totally lacking in anagrams – I bet that’s a combination that’s rarely seen.
    I liked the puzzle a lot. My podium selections went to 22a (for the penny-drop moment when I realised what Power was), 2d (for the clever use of the cricket ground in a football-related clue) and 16d.
    Many thanks to Osmosis and to Dutch.

    1. ah! – the 2d answer meant precious little to me: I found a football meaning and used that for the illustration. However you are absolutely right, Old Trafford refers not to the football stadium but to the cricket grounds, and the answer is much better known as a cricket term, a shot into the off side near 90deg, apparently :)

      1. In fact, the correct name for the football stadium is Trafford Park. There’s actually no ambiguity if one is being totally precise.

  2. Rather heavy on GK I thought and how many of us are there left who remember 15a.?
    I had never heard of 1d. That was given me by a word search looking for something between f and h that fitted the description.
    I got 18a but query if a composer and a maestro are synonymous while the car obsession reference is, I’m afraid, beyond me
    22a was clever and COTD has to be 4a

    1. There was an annual London 1d until 2003.

      15a’s stint as PM ended over a quarter of a century before I was born, but the period of World War 2 is covered more than most, so 15a is probably better known than several who came after him.

      (Not that I solved either of those clues without Dutch’s excellent hints. I’m just hear for everybody’s comments and to marvel at both Osmosis’s setting ability and that anybody manages to solve it.)

  3. There’s also a nice symmetry in the 4 corners!
    I’d give it at least 4* for difficulty – especially the NW corner.
    Loved 26a and 19d.

    Many thanks to Osmosis and Dutch.

    1. well spotted! i hadn’t seen that. i wonder what i’ve missed in previous puzzles. Very interesting, it puts some of the hardest letters into unchecked positions but in an elegant way

  4. A very good double pangram – all ‘stuff’ I knew’ – finished in a 4* Toughie time

    Thanks to Osmosis and Dutch

  5. This may have been a puzzle well within Dutch’s vocabulary and GK but it was too obscure for me and I found it nothing other than a dull drag. I am surprised I did not give up. 1d and 9a were unknowns so the NW corner was problematic. I have meet Barnet in crosswords often but only know to associate it with a hair style, not what it looks like. I have never heard of Mr Power so that one was nigh on impossible. I knew the maestros surname but not the first name. Many of the clues with words I know well were fairly easy so I think it is impossible to give it a star rating for difficulty but a one star enjoyment would be about right from my view point.

    Apologies to Osmosis – I don’t like GK puzzles – and thanks to Dutch for explaining that I could not have got 22a no matter how long I tried

    1. I don’t think a Barnet looks like anything, though I’ve been known to be wrong. I think Barnet as in Barnet Fair just means hair, so the answer is what “some of” that might be, much as glove could be an answer to clothing. My 2p worth, anyway

      1. Never heard of Barnet Fair so I guess it is cockney slang – something that has cause me much grief in crossword land

      2. You’re quite right Dutch. Well known Cockney slang. I had more trouble with the “obstruction” than the “Barnet”.

        1. British passports contain the following sentence:

          Her Britannic Majesty’s Secretary of State Requests and requires in the Name of Her Majesty all those whom it may concern to allow the bearer to pass freely without let or hindrance, and to afford the bearer such assistance and protection as may be necessary.

  6. Somewhere along the miraculous way, I realised we were in double-pangram territory: I could count double Zs, Qs, Js, Xs, and Ks. and so I thought I was on my way towards stardom. Not so! Even after smugly arriving at the right PM and conductor (though I tried to squeeze Pappano into 6 letters; after all, he’s still maestro-ing, I think), 8d and 9a did me in. And I thought that answering 17d and 26a first of all had really set me up. Never heard, of course, of 9a but I should have got 8d–well, maybe, even though we don’t ‘tot = reckon’ over here. But how great is this puzzle anyway?! I ended up using 3 electronic-gifted letters and still didn’t finish since I tossed in ‘equips’ at the end, without having a clue. ***** / ***** Thanks to Dutch (whom I esteem highly as a setter) and to King Osmosis.

    1. I meant to say that I did in fact notice the symmetrical diagonalising of Q,X,J,Z in the four corners, and I forgot to say that I Googled a lot to double-check on the Rower, the Irish festival, and the hairdo.

  7. Great crossword apart from 1 down, I don’t much like the use of obscure foreign words that are no in Chamber (1998) when there are English words that will fit. It meant that I had to resort to electronics to find a word that I had already looked for. However I do now know that Dvorak is spelled with an invisible j, so I’ve learned two things today.

  8. Thought I was going to get across the finishing line but was defeated in the end by the 1d field day (sorry, Dutch, but that was obscure vocab in my book!) and the class of school kids – kicking myself over the latter.
    Liked 19d despite the surface read being somewhat odd and my favourite was definitely 4a – that would be my idea of a good day out!

    Thanks to Osmosis and to Dutch for his help over the last couple of hurdles.

    1. ah, I did check chambers for the irish festival but the wordplay was clear, and to check the spelling of maestro’s first name, i think, but again the wordplay left little doubt. maybe there were a few more little checks – the football/cricket thingie – i didn’t at all mean to suggest i knew everything! :)

  9. A real tough Toughie, unfinished – thank you Dutch for 1d, I had the F*E*DH but couldn’t for the life of me remember the word. So, as I didn’t finish, does that make it 5* difficulty? As for the rest, 4.5* happiness quotient. Thank you Osmosis for stirring my grey matter.

    1. Not sure of the etiquette of replying to my own post, so at the risk of incurring Moderator wrath: just finished a cuppa, and realised I could have worked out 1d – with the now blindingly obvious inclusion of the 3 letter meadow. Oh well.

      1. It seems to be the most obvious way of qualifying your own post, so completely fine – we want to hear what you’re thinking!

  10. Managed to get 2d thanks to BD’s mine as usual, which opened up the NW, my last corner.
    Always thought that the Maestro was just Anton.
    Loved the Power in films and the 45mins.
    Some interesting new devices like Leaking and Abandoned.
    Thanks to Osmosis and to Dutch.

    1. Remember Tyrone as the generous and wounded hero of Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises–Jake Barnes by name? I’m old enough to remember when his real-life marriage to Linda Christian (or Crystal, can’t remember which) made newspaper headlines, and he sadly died so young! I remember that day too. He was also quite intriguing in Maugham’s The Razor’s Edge. (Sorry for my geriatric wool-gathering this morning, J-L.)

  11. I really don’t like names in puzzles, never mind ancient ones (22a) Apparently he died 62 years ago, long before I was born, and I have never watched films. Similarly 18a – last name fair enough, but the full name of an ancient foreign person could be anything. Also, isn’t the abbreviation for Drive Dr?
    A few clues like that are enough to spoil an otherwise great puzzle for me
    Never mind, they can’t all be favourites
    Thanks Osmosis and Dutch

      1. Can’t find it anywhere else but I suppose, god willing, it must be ok if Chambers says so…

  12. Oh my – how very clever. Sadly, I failed to notice a pangram – let alone a double one. A pity, because if I had, I would have correctly suspected I would need a ‘y’ in the one failure I had which was in 22a. (I had never heard of the actor) – and in general I found the GK beyond my comfort level. It was disappointing to fall just short, but agree with everyone’s accolades for a wonderfully well constructed puzzle. Thanks to Osmosis and Dutch.

  13. Infinitely better than today’s back pager. Difficult as a Toughie should be but more rewarding and satisfying. Being relatively new to The Toughie, I did need the hints for a few. I have never heard of 1d but I should have got it from the parsing. I particularly liked 26a and its use of “forty-five minutes”.

    Grateful thanks to Osmosis and Dutch.

  14. I was happy to spot the double pangram, although too late to be of any real use. I correctly parsed 1d but considered the result to be so unlikely I didn’t even check such a word existed. So a completed grid bar that, although I did spend a fair while trying to parse throne into 22a. 4a is my favourite although 21d came a very close runner up. Thanks to Osmosis and Dutch.

  15. We thoroughly enjoyed this over afternoon beers in the garden. We had to check 1d and guessed the first word of the composer but otherwise found it doable even though it was at the tough end of the Toughie spectrum (as it should be on a Friday). 4*/4*.

    Favourite was 22d for the penny-drop moment, but several clues we’re out of the very top drawer.

    The shadows are on us now, so the next beers will be inside.

    Thanks to Dutch and Osmosis.

  16. Certainly a tough challenge for us but with a bit of Google assistance we did get it all sorted. Missed a couple of the subtleties such as the placement of the less used letters and the lack of anagrams. Satisfaction in getting it all and huge respect for the cleverness of the setter.
    Thanks Osmosis and Dutch.

  17. You have attached (as is your wont) a little thumbnail to illustrate the answer to 20d. Is it vulgar to ask where you acquired that gorgeous picture?

    1. Hi Ray,
      Just Google ‘pictures of 20d’ and you can scroll across to your ‘gorgeous picture’.

  18. Managed to complete without actually opening any answers in Dutch’s entertaining blog..
    liked 27A ” dirt from end of shoe found in lounge by son (6) “

  19. I have spent most of today wrestling with 1d. I have never heard of the place and I gave up when I realised the answer must be some Irish name. I should have got there from the clue which you have expertly explained but I was held up because I could not parse 11a and I still do not get it from your explanation what is the recorded movie referred to? I also failed to parse 19d and still do not see what the answer has to do with anything male or female.
    Never the less a very enjoyable crossword and I particularly liked 12d,14d and18a which I thought was a masterpiece.
    I started in the SE corner so I realised that a double pangram was on the cards almost immediately though that was no help with the Irish .Thanks to Osmosis for an entertaining puzzle and to you Dutch for your explanations though I think that you should stick to cricket for the solution to 2d.

    1. 11a The recorded movie is a video, abbreviated as vid.
      19d The chemical symbol for iron is FE. To get from the word FEmale to the word male you have to remove the FE i.e it’s “non-iron” which is a property of fabric.

  20. Excellent puzzle overall, just let down by the dodgy class in 22a, but fair enough in a Friday Toughie! Definitely value for money.

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