Toughie 2549 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 2549

Toughie No 2549 by Osmosis

Hints and tips by Dutch

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

A fun puzzle by Osmosis today with well-crafted surfaces. My last ones in were the two double clues – it took me a while to get my head in the right space. Another near pangram, missing J again.

Please leave a comment telling us what you thought.


1a    Fellow politician with non-standard dialect difficult to understand (11)
COMPLICATED: A fellow politician would be a (2-2), plus an anagram (nonstandard) of DIALECT

7a/8a Fabled Captain ran the manoeuvres east of Tennessee maybe (7,7)
WILLIAM SHATNER: An anagram (manoeuvres) of RAN THE follows (east of) the surname of the American playwright

8a    See 7a

10a    Taking a turn, Welshman holds one born yesterday? (5)
NAIVE: The reversal (taking a turn) of a common Welsh name contains (holds) the Roman numeral for one

11a    A ref’s to be organised for Sunday fixture? (5,4)
ROAST BEEF: An anagram (organised) of A REF’S TO BE

12a    Unkempt, small Dutch footballer advancing very powerfully (7)
SCRUFFY: The abbreviation for small plus the best ever Dutch footballer, in which the musical abbreviation for very powerfully is advanced a space towards the front

14a    Order class design catalogue (7)
ARRANGE: Four verbal definitions, though perhaps some overlap in meaning

15a    Ask for horseman to eject Republican Scotsman following king (7)
REQUEST: A posh 10-letter word for horseman from which we delete (to eject) the abbreviation for Republican and a Scottish male name, all following the Latin abbreviation for king

18a    Little snog? As spoken by drunk rather lacking in taste (7)
WEAKISH: A homophone of a ‘little snog’ (3,4) as spoken by a drunk describes the opposite of builder’s tea

20a    Pop‘s diversity seen in vocal duet occasionally (9)
ORANGEADE: A 5-letter diversity or assortment goes inside (seen in) the even letters (occasionally) of ‘vocal duet’

21a    Unknown hacks into a German website (1-4)
E-ZINE: A letter used as an algebraic unknown goes inside (hacks into) a German word for ‘a’

22a/23a Player‘s prank in former times: spraying water (7,7)
PATRICK STEWART: We have a related symmetry-equivalent of 7a/8a. A 5-letter word meaning prank or ruse goes inside (in) a 4-letter word meaning former times, then an anagram (spraying) of WATER

23a    See 22a

24a    Insect, the thing over car plate that’s seen from behind VW (5,6)
TIGER BEETLE: A reversal (over) of a 2-letter ‘the thing’ and another reversal (that’s seen from behind) of an informal contraction of a car license plate, then a nickname for an iconic VolksWagon


1d    One operates underground dog races, showing front (7)
COLLIER: A breed of dog and the first letter (showing front) of races

2d    State of America that’s up in east (5)
MAINE: The reversal (that’s up) of a 2-letter abbreviation for America, IN from the clue and the abbreviation for east

3d    Pound put on game, often losing? Sucker (7)
LAMPREY: A verb meaning to pound or beat, and the kind of animal that is hunted (often losing) rather than hunting

4d    It’s starchy dumpling served in wine (7)
CASSAVA: A 3-letter dumpling or silly person goes inside (served in) a Spanish bubbly

5d    Eatery closed after vermin cited in short hearing (9)
TRATTORIA: A 2-letter word for closed comes after a 3-letter vermin, all inside (in) another word for a court hearing without the last letter (short). Not sure why we need ‘cited’, unless it is part of the insertion indicator (cited in). ‘Sighted’ makes more sense to me.

6d    Scottish king getting George to replace fourth and fifth cell (7)
DUNGEON: A 6-letter Scottish king featured in Macbeth in which the 3-letter abbreviation for George will replace the fourth and fifth (letters)

7d    Cleaner‘s house programme (7,4)
WINDSOR SOAP: A Royal House plus a type of tv programme

9d    Novices stuck in middle of arete needing sustenance (11)
REFRESHMENT: Another word for novices (e.g. at University) goes inside (stuck in) the central 3 letters (middle) of arete

13d    Youngster went ahead with golf, cutting pitch (9)
FLEDGLING: A verb meaning ‘went ahead’ plus the letter associated with the radio code Golf go inside (cutting) another word for pitch or throw

16d    A couple of pints and in another world? Blur perhaps (7)
QUARTET: A measure equalling two pints plus an abbreviation meaning out of this world

17d    Dick‘s investment fund (7)
TRACKER: Two meanings, the first as in snoop or private eye

18d    I’m unhappy with old English semi being converted (3,2,2)
WOE IS ME: The abbreviations for with, old and English, then an anagram (being converted) of SEMI

19d    Ape‘s current temper not improving outwardly (7)
IMITATE: The physics symbol for current then an 8-letter word meaning temper, or make less serious (MITIGATE), from which the outer letters of improving are omitted (not … outwardly)

21d    Runner with a temperature gets leave of absence (5)
EXEAT: Runner as in a river (in south England), plus A from the clue and the abbreviation for temperature

My favourite today had to be the Dutch footballer (12a), though there are lots of neat clues. Which ones did you like?

28 comments on “Toughie 2549

  1. I thought this was a bit more Wednesday than Friday, but it was fun all the same. I’ve never seen dumpling used with that meaning before. Am I missing something or does the ‘space’ theme only have two components? I spent a while looking for other crew in the form of Ninas, but I can’t see anything.

  2. Very enjoyable and not too tricky – thanks to Osmosis and Dutch.
    Getting 22/23a was a big help in solving 7/8a.

    I liked 10a, 18a and 18d but my favourite was 2d which is indeed positioned thus on a map.

    I wonder if we’ll ever solve the mystery of the almost-pangrams.

  3. The usual smooth quality from Osmosis and pleasantly untaxing for a Friday. I think “cited” in 5d is there more for the legalistic surface than anything else.
    Favourites were 7/8 for the time it took me to twig the Tennessee bit and 20a – my last in.

    Thanks to Osmosis and Dutch.

  4. I agree that this was quite user-friendly for a Friday, but for this relative Toughie novice it was spot on. I, too, spent ages looking for extra space characters or references but came up with nothing. There were so many excellent clues it is hard to pick a winner, but I will go for the 7a/8a combo.

    Many thanks to Osmosis for the challenge and to Dutch.

  5. Tricky enough for the likes of me & nice to at least be able to have a chance of completion on a Friday. Managed to finish bar the 2nd letter of 21a albeit with the aid of 2 letter reveals (7a/d & 4d/8a checkers) as the fabled captain wouldn’t come despite having 22/23a. Really enjoyed it & like Dutch 12a was probably my pick but also particularly liked 18a&d among many fine clues. Haven’t heard 21d in quite some time & it brought back memories of boarding school In Wolverhampton & Sunday exeats after chapel.
    Thanks to Osmosis & to Dutch.

  6. I didn’t know the Dutchman (and still don’t: sorry, Dutch), but 12a had to be what it was. I had to resort to some electronic gifts to finish, but I did, finally. 18d was my first one in and still my COTD, but I also liked ‘discovering’ our two Trekkie stars, both quite honoured in this household, as I live with the World’s Foremost Trekkie. WS and PS have spent more time in our Man Cave than I have. Podium stars: 18d, 9d, 6d. Thanks to Dutch for some necessary parsing, and to Osmosis for the pleasure. [PS: Just found him, Johan C.!]

    1. He was a very cultured player Robert & for my money far better than the recently departed Maradona

  7. Didn’t know whether to laugh or wince over 16a but I think the giggles finally got the better of me. The 12a Dutchman also made me smile – apologies to our reviewer!
    Top two here were 18&21d with a nod to 11a for the reminder of family Sunday fixtures in the past when the gang were all at home.

    Thanks to Osmosis and to Dutch for the review – much needed to confirm bits of doubtful parsing.

  8. Having watched most of the original ST when I was a University in the 70’s, I thought the “Fabled Captain” clue in 7/8 a was really inspiring, could not then help but laugh out loud when the answer to 22/23a finally popped out at me. Nice one Osmosis!

    Took me xxxxxxx to complete, faster than I expected. I still have not got my head around the BD star ratings for difficulty but definitely ***** for enjoyment.

    Really enjoyed this Toughie, wish more of them were like this.

    Thanks Osmosis and Dutch…….

    1. I am not preaching but mentioning time taken is a no no on the site. Your post must have sneaked in while the moderator was having a doze.

    2. Urgh sorry was not aware of that protocol. Just sent myself to the naughty step for an hour and now out to enjoy the sunshine…….

  9. What an excellent Friday puzzle. Very solvable although I struggled with both 21s. I failed to make A translate into one and then into Eine for the across clue. Failed to recognise that a runner could be a river for the down clue. Thanks to Osmosis for the enjoyable and accessible puzzle and to Dutch. See you on Monday folks

  10. Agree that this crossword was very accessible and hugely enjoyable.
    Always been a Star Trek fan.
    Thanks to Osmosis and to Dutch for the review.

  11. Many good clues in a fun puzzle but I will also give a special mention to 10a for being clued without reference to a French mineral water. Nothing against Evian just bored with it getting a mention so often.

  12. Never having heard of the 12a footballer, the 22a player or the investment fund meant that we had to spend more time searching on Google than most commenters appear to. Also needed to check whether Blur had 4 or 5 players as either would have fitted our grid when we solved that clue. However all sorted in reasonable time.
    Thanks Osmosis and Dutch.

  13. What a difference a day makes! Yesterday I eased through the Toughie, today I have solved just one clue! I don’t think I’d ever have got there. For instance, the answer to 7a is Captain Kirk, not the name of the actor who played him. Sour grapes?

  14. One of my Achilles heels is actors and films – so 22 & 23 across could be Latin for all I knew. I agree with JB too as regards 7a – a very poor clue IMHO. 21a could have been equally as foreign, as without looking it up it is totally meaningless to this numbskull. Otherwise a very enjoyable Friday Toughie. Sailed through much of it, but alas it also sadly exposed my ignorance. Never say die though :-) Thanks to setter and Dutch

  15. It took the whole evening yesterday to untangle just three and a half clues, so gave up. This morning however managed to steadily fill it in, in a clockwise direction, with no external assistance. Amazing.
    Thanks to Osmosis, and to Dutch for confirmation of a couple of things

  16. Just like Jules, I got pretty much nowhere yesterday evening but then it all fell into place this morning. I’m blaming Ocado for having substituted St. Emilion with screw top Beaujolais. Thanks to Osmosis & Dutch.

  17. I didn’t get around to doing this puzzle yesterday and now I’m glad I didn’t as the weather here in the Vale of Belvoir is positively dreich and it looks like we will be confined to barracks so I will need as many distractions as posssible if I’m to avoid assisting (hampering) Mrs S with the Crimble decs.
    Also today’s FT puzzle is impenetrable imho.

  18. I must be the only one who has no idea about Star Trek looking at the previous comments. I had the Williams bit for 7a and the start of the second word however I have to agree that the clue is misleading as i was looking for an actual captain and not the actor who I had not heard of anyway in contrast i sorted 22a/23a from the clue even though i had not heard of this actor either, for 7d i had Windsor Soup ! as i thought of Barbara Windsor ! but I failed to check if such a programme existed. A very enjoyable solve thanks to Osmosis. Thank you Dutch for your parsing which solved the ‘hatner’ bit. 12a and 18a were my favourites.

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