Toughie 2533 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 2533

Toughie No 2533 by Osmosis

Hints and tips by Dutch

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

A very enjoyable crossword I thought – the top half went in quickly but there was plenty to keep me puzzled thereafter. Another near pangram, missing the J. I doubt Rabbit Dave will like 22a.

Please leave a comment telling us what you thought.


1a    Roman eats cake, initially welcome after endless dance over (7)
GNOCCHI: The first letter (initially) of cake plus a 2-letter greeting or welcome follow the reversal (over) of a silly dance in a long line without the last letter (endless)

5a    Understood work books decline (2,2,3)
GO TO POT: A verb meaning understood, an abbreviation for a work, and some biblical books

9a    Play face-card of superior rank twice, thwarting game opponents (5)
EQUUS: The abbreviation for a face-card plus twice the abbreviation for upper class or of superior rank go inside (thwarting) some bridge opponents

10a    Part of Sgt Pepper uniform beginning to excite McCartney imitator? (9)
EPAULETTE: The first letter (beginning) of excite and what you might whimsically call a McCartney imitator

11a    Complaint maitre d’ redressed, regularly wiping stains (10)
DERMATITIS: An anagram (redressed) of MAITRE D’ plus the even letters (regularly wiping) of stains

12a    Steal bank codes when withdrawing (4)
SNIP: A reversal (when withdrawing) of 4-digit bank codes

14a    E-tailer’s characteristic sitcom (4,3,5)
OPEN ALL HOURS: The name of a sitcom would be a characteristic of any e-tailer or online shop

18a    Old racer engine’s all different, restricting learner Mike (5,7)
NIGEL MANSELL: An anagram (different) of ENGINE’S ALL contains (restricting) the abbreviation for learner and the letter with radio code Mike

21a    Show previous back surgery (4)
EXPO: A word for previous plus a reversal (back) of a short word for surgery

22a    What flattens rabbit? Driver perhaps (6,4)
WAFFLE IRON: A verb meaning to rabbit or to talk inconsequentially at length (who am I thinking of?) plus a golf club which could be a driver

25a    Loved being alternative main speaker when short (9)
INAMORATO: An anagram (alternative) of MAIN plus another word for speaker but without the last letter (short)

26a    Money’s quietly replaced by husband in the future (5)
HENCE: Some coins with the musical abbreviation for quietly replaced by the abbreviation for husband

27a    Alsatian to be handled by militant plod again (7)
RETREAD: The French (Alsatian) for ‘to be’ goes inside (handled by) a militant or revolutionary, often communist

28a    Dove might be so innocuous around Hackney Marshes (7)
ARMLESS: How a Cockney (around Hackney Marshes) might say another word for innocuous



1d    Maybe Jackson Pollock’s essence embodied by e.g. swirling and splashing (6)
GLENDA: The central letter (essence) of Pollock is contained in a reversal or anagram (swirling) of EG, plus an anagram (splashing) of AND

2d    Work close to deadline in roofless museum (6)
OEUVRE: The last letter (close) to deadline goes inside a museum in Paris without its first letter (roofless, in a down clue)

3d    Seeing snake in class, students perform a charm (4,1,5)
CAST A SPELL: A 3-letter snake goes inside (seeing … in) a class in society, plus two abbreviations of student or learner, hence the plural students

4d    Nick and Denis both uncovered East Anglian rebels once (5)
ICENI: Nick and Denis without their outer letters (both uncovered)

5d    Iris‘s pair of gloves found on vale around Lake Superior (9)
GLADIOLUS: The first two letters (pair) of Gloves, then a vale or farewell (ADIOS) goes around the abbreviations for lake and superior or upper class

6d    Damage ring (4)
TOLL: Two meanings, the first often referring to the cost in lives

7d    Jack’s target in this training beat that in Paris (8)
PETANQUE: A physical exercise class, a verb meaning to beat, and a French word (in Paris) for ‘that’

8d    Wrong step during Twist? (8)
TRESPASS: A step in ballet goes inside a twist or braid of hair

13d    Spa place sprayed them with Chanel (10)
CHELTENHAM: An anagram (sprayed) of THEM + CHANEL

15d    Any swimming medley will entertain northern territory of old (9)
NYASALAND: An anagram (swimming) of ANY, then another word for medley or mixture contains (will entertain) the abbreviation for northern

16d    Mocking beheaded French king, ascendant before (8)
ANTERIOR: A noun describing the kind of gentle mocking you might have in a pub, without its first letter (beheaded), then a reversal (ascendant, in a down clue) of the French word for king

17d    Advised one of five that mass-produces gifts for Easter? (8)
EGGPLANT: Split (3,5), the answer could be a factory preparing Easter presents

19d    Relative on remote islands third in event, given this? (6)
BRONZE: The contraction of a sibling, the abbreviation for some antipodean islands and the third letter in event (hinting at the answer)

20d    Patient’s leg needs bandages, having turned red (6)
ENGELS: Reverse hidden that took me ages to see (… bandages, having turned)

23d    Plant life left to adorn marketplaces earlier (5)
FLORA: The abbreviation for left goes inside (to adorn) an old word (earlier) for marketplaces

24d    Well-informed chef uses this most common ingredient in sweet (4)
WOKE: What implement a chef would use for stir fries plus the most common letter (ingredient) in sweet

I think today the reverse hidden impressed me most, though there were lots of nice ways in which the definition connected seamlessly to the wordplay. Which clues were your favourites?

26 comments on “Toughie 2533

  1. Maybe not the toughest but for me the most fun puzzle of the week. I loved “vale” in 5d and the hidden red in 20d but the tours de force were 22a and 17d – both of them “mad hat” clues.

    Many thanks to Osmosis and to Dutch for the blog.

  2. Great stuff with plenty of penny-drop moments. Thanks to Osmosis and Dutch.
    My last clue to parse was 17d where I took an embarrassingly long time to twig what ‘advised one of five’ was all about.
    I liked lots of clues including 9a, 22a, 27a, 1d and 20d.

  3. A hugely enjoyable and testing Toughie to complete the week. I am still trying to get my head around 17d despite the hint as that particular coin has yet to hit the floor. 24d, my least favourite word in current usage, was the last to fall and my favourite was the excellent 20d.

    Many thanks to Osmosis for the challenge and to Dutch.

  4. 18a, old, I should cocoa, he’s younger than me.
    Completed 3/4 before hints required, enjoyed what I could do.
    Thanks to Osmosis and Dutch.

  5. As YS above, I did not get the parsing of 17d and I was sorry to see that awful 4 letter word in 24d. 20d was a bit iffy too but there were some good clues and I liked being reminded of 18a.

  6. Failed on 24d.
    Loved the definitions in this wonderful crossword.
    Lots of penny drop moments.
    19d favourite.
    Thanks to Osmosis and to Dutch for helping me at the finishing line.

  7. I’ve had a quick look but this may be one for after my evening meal – the Roman’s already causing me trouble!

    1. OK – got there in the end but did have to take a couple of hints from Dutch to limp across the finishing line. A few – 1&28a plus 17d turned out to be less impressive than I’d expected and I’m definitely with those who can’t abide 24d.
      Apologies to RD but 22a was my favourite!

      Thanks to Osmosis for the Friday challenge and gratitude to Dutch for the nudges.

  8. Had to get Dutch’s help for three in the bottom right corner including 20d. Remote islands to me are the Outer Hebrides not home! LOL, Even with all the checkers still missed the reverse lurker. Needed Dutch’s hints to explain several of the parsings. I was surprised that most of the answers were eventually accessible after a very very miserable first run through. For once a very enjoyable Friday Toughie. Thanks Dutch and Osmosis

  9. Failed to solve three, despite some electronic help (7d, 12a, 24d), but still do not understand “Advised one of five” in 17d, even though my bung-in was correct. Is it a dietary thing, one of the food groups? But what a marvellous puzzle! Naturally, I had to google to check on 14a and 18a, but I was delighted when I solved 9a, 15d, and 20d–my three winners today. Nice to have two splendid puzzles to end the week with, today’s Cryptic and this Toughie by Osmosis. Many thanks to Dutch for all the help.

    1. In the UK, for health reasons, we are advised to eat five portions of fruit/vegetables per day.

  10. Slow to start and a scattergun approach today, around a ****/*** for me, some difficult parsing -to be expected for a Friday even in the absence of Mr Elgar!
    Last in was 20d ,thanks Dutch for the’ red’ explanation.
    Favourite was 10a, the checking letters gave the game away.
    22a was new to me and 17d took a while to parse.
    Two very enjoyable puzzles today thanks to both setters and bloggers.

  11. A few days ago it was WELLINGTON that had us head-scratching and with this one it was 19d. Probably because, like Kiwiman above, it never occurred to us that these islands could be called remote. Huge penny-drop moments right through this solve.
    Have been pondering why the J is missing from the pangram when it would have been so easy to have used it in 24d where it would have given us something else to laugh about too.
    Thanks Osmosis and Dutch.

  12. Fell short on several and finally had to resort to hints. Great puzzle, very enjoyable. Thanks to Osmosis and Dutch.

  13. Too tough for me I’m afraid but the very late start probably didn’t help. Only got 1d & 9a after revealing the checker & then required the excellent hints for a further 5 in the south but given the level of difficulty was fairly pleased to have got that far. Not sure I’d have got either 20 or 24d this side of Christmas without the review. 22a my favourite & really liked 1&2d also.
    Thanks Osmosis & Dutch for the hints.

  14. Only spoiled by the fact that the driver is a wood not an iron – even in these days when they’re made of metal.

    Thanks to Osmosis and Dutch.

  15. Like you Dutch I did the top half without much trouble but the bottom half presented much more of a problem. I failed on 20d and 24d and woke is in no sense well informed it is very PC. Never the less a very enjoyable couple of evening stints with my favourite clue being 10a.
    Thanks Dutch and Osmosis

  16. Sorry to go against the flow here but I did not enjoy this, finding it very frustrating. I don’t know anything about plants (5d), missed the lurker in 20d, being convinced that ‘leg’ meant ‘on’, and didn’t agree with the definition in 24d. For me, ‘hypersensitive’ would have been better than ‘well-informed’. I did better with Elgar last week, which is saying something.

  17. A lot to enjoy with this, far outweighing the annoyance of 24, which is appallingly defined. Also thrown by 12a, which I had as KNAB (which is allegedly an archaic form of NAB) and works just as well. Anyway, for once I was more on Osmosis’s wavelength than not….

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