Toughie 2477 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 2477

Toughie No 2477 by Osmosis

Hints and tips by Dutch

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

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

Lots of great misleads today, especially in the definitions – a joy to solve. Not quite a pangram, as we are missing the J.

Please leave a comment telling us what you thought.


1a    Popular single room with unusual character (5,6)
SPACE ODDITY: A 5-letter word for room plus another word for an unusual character or trait

10a    Bikini perhaps left line after caution regularly ignored (5)
ATOLL: The abbreviations for left and line follow (after) the even (regularly ignored) letters of caution

11a    Ice hockey team overwhelmed by Alan, the Incredible Hulk (9)
LEVIATHAN: The number of players in an Ice hockey team, expressed as a Roman numeral as teams often are, is surrounded (overwhelmed) by an anagram (incredible) of ALAN THE

12a    Inter, bottom of league maybe snapping up variable European past peak (3,2,4)
LAY TO REST: A 4-letter ranking that could be the bottom of league contains: (snapping up) a letter used an algebraic variable, and the abbreviation for European after (past) a 3-letter peak

13a    One-nil for United? (2,3)
IN ONE: Split (1,4), the answer shows the Roman numeral for one and a word meaning nil

14a    Jam that vegans can eat (6)
SQUASH: Two meanings, the first to pack or cram, the second a vegetable

16a    One breaks into old Vauxhall, suspect reptile found here? (8)
VIVARIUM: I had to check that the first 4 letters did indeed represent an old make of Vauxhall. Place the Roman numeral for one into the combination of an old Vauxhall and a word meaning suspect or odd

18a    With too much on race, old vagrant crosses fingers for victory thus (8)
OVERCLAD: An anagram (vagrant) of RACE OLD goes around (crosses) the sign you make with your fingers to indicate victory

20a    Firstly ask little Robert to withdraw element of metal away from mouth (6)
ABORAL: The first letter (firstly) of Ask, a reversal (to withdraw) of a shortened (little) version of ROBert, and the chemical symbol for a metallic element

23a    Seasoning lamb, as illustration shows (5)
BASIL: Hidden ( … shows)

24a    Actress retired to direct remote series (3,6)
MIA FARROW: Reversal of a 3-letter verb meaning direct or point at, a 3-letter word meaning remote, and a 3-letter word meaning series

26a    Scared, court heard, in the main (6,3)
YELLOW SEA: A word meaning scared or cowardly, plus a homophone (heard) of a word meaning to court or to date

27a    Fly back with ordinary character following Sierra (5)
TANGO: A reversal (back) of a 4-letter fly, plus the abbreviation for ordinary

28a    One with scientific mind superior where racing is a concern? (6,5)
NEWTON ABBOT: A famous scientist and a religious superior


2d    Nose absorbs source of meat substitute (5)
PROXY: A 3-letter verb meaning to nose contains (absorbs) a type of cattle (source of meat)

3d    Visits from stand-by engineers, say, when temperature goes cold (7)
CALLOUS: Some (4-4) visits by stand-by engineers to come fix your home appliance, without the abbreviation for temperature (when temperature goes)

4d    Rambling mile, happening outside, they organise well? (6)
OILMEN: An anagram (rambling) of MILE has outside of it a 2-letter word that can mean happening, as in scheduled to occur

5d    Joint, symbol of peace Catlin endlessly passed around (8)
DOVETAIL: A 4-letter symbol of peace plus an anagram (passed around) of the inner letters (endlessly) of cATLIn

6d    Ruler‘s dress held by promoted crawler (7)
TSARINA: An Indian dress is contained (held) by the reversal of (promoted) a 6-legged crawler

7d    American football team putting soap on hands (6,7)
DALLAS COWBOYS: Possibly the best-known American tv soap, plus some hired hands (working on a ranch)

8d    Rather fussy maker of stocking, including zip, put under chimney’s opening (8)
CHOOSIER: A dealer in stockings and underwear including the letter that looks like a number with a value of zip, all underneath the first letter (opening) of chimney

9d    Supervised by male class, Hazel exemplifies such work in 1950s (5,4,4)
UNDER MILK WOOD: A 5-letter preposition that can mean ‘supervised by’, the abbreviation for male, a 3-letter word meaning class or type, and a material exemplified by Hazel, all gives a 1950’s work by Dylan Thomas

15d    Each student’s heading into college lobby, not content with Labour (8)
UNEASILY: The 2-letter abbreviation for each plus the first letter (heading) of student go inside (into) a 3-letter informal short form of university or college, plus the outer letters only of LobbY (not content)

17d    Marketplace contains some performing monkey (8)
MARMOSET: A 4-letter market contains an anagram (performing) of SOME

19d    Folded part of Italian menu roughly over pound section (7)
CALZONE: The 2-letter Latin abbreviation for roughly goes on top of (over, in a down clue) the abbreviation for pound plus a section of area

21d    Mind one scratching, having just turned up here for lottery (4,3)
BRAN TUB: A 5-letter word for mind or intelligence without the Roman numeral for one (one scratching) plus the reversal (turned up) of a 3-letter word that can mean just or merely

22d    Legendary nobleman‘s legacy? ‘Twas mine, in essence (6)
GAWAIN: Take the central 2-letters (… in essence) from 3 words in the clue

25d    He’s famed for drumming patter, swapping hands (5)
RINGO: A word meaning patter (as in specialised talk or language) in which the initial letter is swapped between the abbreviations for right and left

I enjoyed seeing 1a. I liked 11a, partly out of relief that I didn’t have to know any hockey teams, but mainly because of the Incredible Hulk – and similarly 7d, out of relief that I had actually heard of this team. I liked the hidden and the character following Sierra. Plenty more to choose from. Which clues did you like?

22 comments on “Toughie 2477

  1. Another enjoyable near pangram from Osmosis, which I solved at average pace without requiring assistance. A few surfaces seemed a bit clunky and wordy (e.g. 18a). I did wonder about 13a having part of the solution in the clue but the parsing is clever enough to be forgiven. 3d was my favourite. Thanks to Dutch and Osmosis.

  2. Great stuff – thank Osmosis and Dutch.

    I made better progress once I’d crossed out ‘scrape’ for 14a (I believe that vegans can eat margarine). 28a was easy for me since I’ve subsidised the bookmakers there quite often.

    My podium comprises 3d, 15d and 22d.

    It wouldn’t have been too difficult to fit a J in by changing one answer so I wonder whether the omission was deliberate.

    1. maybe we need to be paying attention to the omitted letters in the sequence of puzzles

      1. A quick scan reveals (I think) that all the Toughies this week have no J. However, Tuesday and Thursday are missing other letters as well so I’m not sure what it means (if anything).

        1. i just meant in the recent near pangrams by osmosis, but i wasn’t expecting anything – it would be a devious way to offer a message!

  3. Agree with Jonners about a few surfaces but, oh, how nice not to have to devote the entire day to Friday’s toughie. Osmosis on [mostly] top form with some Byzantine wordplay and cunningly hidden definitions. My favourites were 20a, 3d, 15d and the LOL19d.

    Many thanks to Osmosis and Dutch.

  4. Right on wavelength for this lovely offering from Osmosis.
    A bit of GK but nothing too obscure.
    Love the song in 1a but now prefer the version from that colonel in the MIR station.
    Thought Newton Abbot was more famous for cheese and onions than racing.
    Thanks to Osmosis and to Dutch.

  5. Well, just to cheer up those people who hate it when I find a Toughie back page level, I found this really difficult and took an age to get on the Osmosis wavelength. I gave it my full three goes – between the first and second, I did a mammoth amount of housework, returned to the crossword a bit later and still had two to go for my third session.

    Thanks to Osmosis and Dutch

    1. That makes me feel so much better, CS. Thank you for the honesty, even if your ‘really difficult’ equates to my ‘didn’t I do well’!

  6. Almost made it but 16a and 19d kept me from finishing this excellent Osmosis Toughie. I laboured long and hard last night–post-midnight oil in Charleston–and finally settled for 5 letters (of hints) and still could not finish, so I didn’t fare as well with this Osmosis as I did the last one. Still, some really classy clues and old headliners (Cowboys, Farrow, Bowie, D Thomas), but my biggest joys were 11a, 14a, and 3d/18a (tie). Many thanks to Dutch for the help and Osmosis for the uplift. ***** / ***** !

  7. Got the right hand side stowed away (had to consult Mr G about 20a) but the left hand side delayed me no end until the American football team finally registered. Think that subsequently became one of my favourites along with 19d.
    I did need help from Dutch with the full parsing of 12a & 3d but I’m counting it as a win for me nevertheless.

    Thanks to Osmosis and to Dutch for the review – loved your illustration of the jam at 14a!

  8. Newspaper deliveries having only recently resumed in my area, I approached my first Toughie in 127 days with some trepidation, but to my amazement managed to finish.
    Managed to get 7d straight away which was a good start, but struggled with the last few.
    I had to check a word new to me actually existed (20a) and had to rely on Dutch to parse 22d – btw is a Knight technically a Nobleman?
    Anyway, what a great feeling, to finish a Friday puzzle at any time is a very rare event for me!
    Favourite clues were 11a, 14a, and many thanks to Osmosis and Dutch for making my day.

  9. I rarely tackle Friday Toughies and, when I do, I approach them with trepidation. Well, this was certainly tough but I really enjoyed it. In the end persistence paid off and it proved to be a steady albeit lengthy solve but one which was very rewarding.

    With so many excellent clues I wouldn’t know where to begin to select a favoruite.

    Many thanks to Osmosis and to Dutch.

  10. I’m afraid I wasn’t having a great deal of fun or success with this and so I threw in the towel with a little less than half completed. There were several things I didn’t know (the popular single in 1a for immediate example – the lottery place in 21d, and the Vauxhaul in 16a, were among others), but there were many that I should have been able to sort out, but couldn’t (the ’50s work in 9d for instance – which I had heard of, but wasn’t nearly close enough to the surface to give me chance to check against the elegant word play). I certainly agree that this was a very cleverly constructed puzzle. So sorry, but this wasn’t my day, but thanks anyway to Osmosis and Dutch.

      1. No – I can’t say it rang any bells of recognition. If it’s not Mozart . . . . . . . . . !

  11. A couple of quibbles. You have spelled 6 d wrongly in the answer and CS has said that real people Included in crosswords should be dead. I think 24 a is still alive? I also rather take issue with 9d. It is a great favourite of mine but there were a lot of plays in the 1950s to chose from.
    I was ashamed at how long it took me to suss 28a. as I visit there quite often. The town not the racecourse.
    COTD? That has to be 14a. I loved the illustration.

    1. The Times has the rule about not using living people. I’m not sure about the DT

      1. They obviously don’t! Can you see the Times and DT agreeing? I can’t. Their readerships are very loyal and polarised. Friendships can founder on this almost as easily as political differences. I know, I’ve been there!

    2. Yes, it’s the Times with the house rule of no living people (except the queen).
      Thanks for spotting the typo in 6d, I’ve just corrected it using my phone which took about 2* solving time

  12. We also searched the grid several times looking for the missing J. Perhaps the setter will pop in and let us know if it is significant.
    We did happen to have heard of all the relevant GK, even surprised ourselves by knowing the geography for 28a.
    Not a rapid solve for us but enjoyable all the way through.
    Thanks Osmosis and Dutch.

  13. An enjoyable solve. I failed on 19d as I had never heard of a folded pizza let alone eaten one. Thanks Dutch for your explanations and to Osmosis for exercising my brain. My favourite was 9d

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