Toughie 2501 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 2501

Toughie No 2501 by Osmosis

Hints and tips by Dutch

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

Another precise and quite tricky puzzle today from Osmosis, though there were a few easy clues to get started. I had finished the entire right-hand side before I had a single entry on the left, which may reflect the grid. It looked like it would be a pangram but we appear to be missing a V. I’m beginning to wonder if I need to keep track of the missing letters in Osmosis’s near-pangrams to give some kind of trans-puzzle Nina (though I don’t think we’ve had any vowels yet, so maybe not)

Please leave a comment telling us how you got on and what you thought


1a    One scans radius on, say, monthly attendant in centre for patients (6)
IMAGER: The abbreviation for radius follows (on, in an across clue) a 3-letter contracted form of a periodical publication (which could be a monthly, say) which goes inside (attendant in) the middle two letters of (centre for) patients

5a    Was anchor commoner before, when overrun by fish? (8)
COMPERED: A commoner, as in someone working in the House of Commons, plus a 3-letter word meaning before, all surrounded by (when overrun by) a fish

9a    Sun follower, shopper on holiday around island (10)
MONTSERRAT: The day that follows Sun, then a 3-letter shopper or betrayer follows (on, in an across clue) a reversal (around) of a holiday or break

10a    Origin of bank charge brought about complaint (4)
BEEF: The first letter (origin) of bank, then the reversal of a charge or price paid for services

11a    Stinging character of nettle reduced by some nursing Charlie (8)
PIQUANCY: The first 4 letters (reduced) of a 5-letter word meaning to nettle or vex, then another word for ‘some’ containing (nursing) the letter corresponding to the radio code Charlie

12a    Latest romantic encounter in aircraft? (6)
UPDATE: Split (2,4), the answer whimsically describes a romantic encounter in an aircraft, say

13a    Bonus, for each, £1,000 (4)
PERK: A 3-letter word meaning for each plus an abbreviation for 1000

15a    Unqualified to delete line, article gets zero change? (3,1,4)
NOT A BEAN: Ah, that kind of change! A (3,4) phrase meaning unqualified from which we remove (to delete) the abbreviation for line, then a 2-letter indefinite article

18a    Perhaps loafer stole those bananas (4,4)
BOAT SHOE: The kind of stole that you can wrap around your neck, then an anagram (bananas) of THOSE

19a    Disreputable woman‘s fur coats picked up (4)
MINX: A homophone (picked up) of a particular kind of fur coats

21a    Toecap regularly scratched some games in tennis service (3,3)
TEA SET: Toecap with the even letters removed (regularly scratched) plus a tennis term for some games

23a    Movement of dancer‘s damaged leg to house is pitiful (8)
GLISSADE: An anagram (damaged) of LEG contains (to house) IS from the clue plus a word meaning pitiful or sorrowful

25a    Caribbean refectory after vacation carrying little meat (4)
WIRY: A 2-letter abbreviation that refers to the Caribbean, then then RefectorY without the inner letters (after vacation)

26a    Turning fit on Earl Grey, for example, bypassing every dessert (5,5)
PEACH MELBA: The reversal of a 4-letter word meaning fit or skilled follows (on, in an across clue) a 2-letter abbreviation for the political position held by Earl Grey, for example, which goes around (bypassing) a 4-letter word meaning every

27a    Pop band appreciated fifty per cent off jacket and headwear (4,4)
TAKE THAT: A short informal word meaning appreciated, the second half of (50% off) jacKET, plus a piece of headwear

28a    Greek character with drink on the counter shows taste (6)
PALATE: The reversal (on the counter) of a Greek letter plus a verb meaning to drink (like dogs do)


2d    Market research company disturbed by adult language (5)
MAORI: A 4-letter market research company, now merged with Ipsos, containing (disturbed by) the abbreviation for adult

3d    Food processor and receptacle needed for roly-poly (9)
GUTBUCKET: Another word for stomach plus the receptacle used by Jack and Jill

4d    Spoke about uprising, that is showing repentance (6)
RUEING: A 4-letter spoke goes around (about) the reversal (uprising) of the abbreviation for ‘that is’

5d    Commotion over textile worker’s picture from the 1950s (5,2,8)
CARRY ON SERGEANT: A (5-2) commotion goes on top of (over) a 5-letter textile and a 6-legged worker

6d    Flash opening of trade fair by European displaying suitable expression (3,5)
MOT JUSTE: A 2-letter flash, the first letter (opening) of trade, another word for fair and the abbreviation for European

7d    Did sink stand up on flat surface? (5)
EBBED: Reversal (up) of a short word that can mean stand (let it **) plus a flat surface

8d    Result of excessively scanning votes in auditorium with entourage (9)
EYESTRAIN: A homophone (in auditorium) of yes votes plus an entourage or retinue

14d    Mysterious objects oddly put to sea around Morecambe? (9)
ESOTERICA: An anagram (oddly put) of TO SEA goes around the first name of comedian Morecambe

16d    Introduction of spray into armpit (having separated) stunning woman (9)
BOMBSHELL: The first letter (introduction) of spray goes in between (into) an arm as in a weapon, and an infernal pit (having separated armpit into two words)

17d    Dwelling with unknown secretary in Switzerland shows effrontery (8)
CHUTZPAH: A simple dwelling, an algebraic unknown and an abbreviation for secretary go inside (in) the IVR for Switzerland

20d    Mum and dad upset after motorway accident (6)
MISHAP: An interjection meaning mum or silent and the reversal (upset) of another word for dad follow (after) UK’s first motorway

22d    Communication system annoying when characters cycled (5)
SKYPE: A word meaning annoying, often used here to describe 4-letter clues, with the first 2 letters cycled to the back

24d    Using coinage, took London Underground northwards for first time (5)
DEBUT: A reversal (northwards) of a coined expression (using coinage, I think! Other suggestions welcome) for having travelled by the London Underground

I liked the sun follower (9a), the mile-high club clue (12a), and the communication system (22d), but my favourite for its simple, elegantly smooth surface is 20d “Mum and dad upset after motorway accident”. Which clues did you like?

23 comments on “Toughie 2501

  1. On the easier side for Friday [helped by the giveaway5d] and nothing wrong with that. Some precise and witty clues, favourites of which were 9a [last in, loved “sun follower”] and 14d [penny dropped after a shamefully long time]. Re24d – I too can only assume he is referring to “tubed” as a coined word.
    Thanks to Osmosis and to Dutch.

    1. 5d no gimme for me – it’s taken an age for that particular penny to drop, albeit with a loud clang…..

      1. I generally find it easy to get into Osmosis’ head [famous last words] whereas some other setters that many of you find easier take me forever to solve.

  2. Took all morning and was beaten by 6d. Just didn’t think of the right European.
    Lots to like, especially 9a and 19a.
    Is anyone else struggling with the Quickie? I’ve only solved 3 clues and I’m beginning to think one of them is wrong!

  3. A very enjoyable though not overly-difficult puzzle – thanks to Osmosis and Dutch.

    It can’t be a coincidence that Osmosis keeps giving us a pangram-lite. He could easily have incorporated a V in this one (e.g. by changing the answer to 21a) if he’d wanted to, so I wonder what’s going on.

    My selections today match Dutch’s with the addition of 18a.

  4. 4 down and 11 across held out until the end. The rest went in slowly but surely as more checkers gave extra insights. Thanks to Osmosis for the puzzle and to Dutch for the review.

  5. I thought I was done for after spending the better part of ten minutes staring at the NW quadrant without getting anywhere, and then I finally solved 3d and the rest followed pretty steadily.

    That only left 16d unparsed. Thanks to Dutch.

    Thanks to Osmosis too. ****/**** seems about right. And no complaints!

  6. I’ve started trying to do the Toughie most days. Today I did the bottom half and most of NE but gave up after failing in the NW (apart from 3D, which I enjoyed). I also didn’t get 22d.
    Seeing that Dutch gave this a 4* bucked me up, although most of you here seem to think it was easier.
    Still, I think I’m improving, so I’ll keep on keeping on……
    Thanks to Osmosis and Dutch.

  7. Took me quite some time to sort out the parsing for 1&9a and I’d never heard of 3d so the NW corner was the last to fall.
    Particularly liked 17d (lovely word) and can’t miss out on mentioning 22d – my lifeline when it comes to ‘seeing’ my new granddaughter whom I probably won’t get to meet until next year.

    Thanks to Osmosis for the challenge and thanks also to Dutch for the well illustrated review and the music clip – I do like listening to that ‘pop band’ regardless of the naysayers!

  8. Well I finished though certainly not entirely under my own steam. I read Gazza’s comment so knew I was looking for a Q which helped with 11a then revealed the 6d/9a checker & still needed to read Dutch’s hints to finish these last two. Had never heard of the 6d expression & am rather embarrassed to admit I hadn’t realised 9a had a T in it. Found it the hardest of the week but very fairly clued and with a pleasing absence of obscurities. A toss up between 20&22d for my pick of the clues.
    Many thanks Osmosis & Dutch – shall now read the review to fully appreciate the wordplay on a couple.

  9. It was mainly the NW that was my undoing at the end; I simply could not solve (because I had never heard of) the ‘roly-poly’ definition and so had to rely on Dutch’s most helpful hints. I fared very well early on, with ‘mot juste’, ‘Montserrat’, ‘glissade’, and ‘Take That’, and other clues that I enjoyed answering. (Another problem, incidentally, is the spelling of ‘rueing’, in which we tend to drop the ‘e’ over here, but that was a minor glitch.) I also missed ‘bombshell’ and ‘Maori’, and so I’ll give myself the old English prof’s “Gentleman’s B-” for my mixed achievement with this very fine Osmosis puzzle–Osmosis whom I thank for the pleasure, as well as Dutch of course. ***** / ditto

    1. By the way, ‘chutzpah’ was my first one in, for some really strange reason. Must be all the Jewish-related literature I’ve been reading lately, and I strongly recommend (a propos of my usual bent) APEIROGON by Colum McCann. It’s on the Booker Short List right now. It’s fiction, but more docu-fiction than otherwise.

      1. Just placed an order for it, Robert, I usually enjoy your recommendations. The last couple you’ve suggested aren’t yet available in paperback and as that’s my preferred way of reading it will give me some nice surprises to look forward to in the new year!

    2. It’s not just across the herring pond Robert – I’ve never seen ruing with an E – looked as dodgy to me as tranquillised did the other day with two LLs.

  10. We really struggled in the NW. Did not know 3d or the 9a island and even 2d, which should have been a gift for us, was tough as we did not know the market research company that ceased to exist as a separate entity in 2005. However we did eventually get everything sorted with assistance from Mr Google and appreciated the challenge.
    Thanks Osmosis and Dutch.

  11. Looked a this Sat AM with a strong cup of coffee – only manage 5 or 6 clues on my own. Too much trickery for a novice and such a step up from the standard. Back to cryptic school for me. There were some I couldn’t get even with the excellent , as always, hints. However, on the positive side I came across The MINE on the blog. Best thing since sliced bread!!- wish I’d found it sooner. Would be nice if there was an easy way of printing it out.

  12. I did this puzzle because, with no Saturday Telegraph, for once, I had the spare time. Definitely 4* for difficulty, it had some unusual words like the synonym used for roly-poly, which is also the name for a type of jazz music. I had a couple in the NW corner, which I failed to finish but otherwise found it a refreshing challenge. I liked 9a, once the penny dropped and also 23a. Thanks to Dutch for the hints and to Osmosis.

  13. Not one of my best days. I solved the lower half with reasonable ease but like many of you I failed on the NW corner. Gutbucket is not a word that comes easily to mind and parsing Montserrat defeated me until i read Dutch’s excellent guidance. I find that I am not very good at homophone clues. which did not help.
    my favorite clue was 26a

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