Toughie 2584 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 2584

Toughie No 2584 by Osmosis

Hints and tips by Dutch

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

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

Ooph. A knowledge of Scottish football will have given you a considerable advantage over me. I struggled particularly in NE. A would-be pangram if we had an F, but we do have a ‘PH’

Please leave a comment telling us what you thought. Definitions are underlined as usual


6a    Club‘s goals recalled by United international, having cracked domestic title (13)
STENHOUSEMUIR: A reversal (recalled) of a word that can mean goals plus the abbreviations for united and international going inside (having cracked) a word meaning domestic plus the abbreviation for the title of a man

8a    Present rebuffed by the European, Stevie? (6)
WONDER: A reversal (rebuffed) of a 3-letter word meaning present, plus a German word for ‘the’

9a    Boundary stroke Lord’s devotee wanted (8)
VICARESS: A roman numeral representing a score for a boundary in cricket,plus a 6-letter word meaning stroke

10a    Cockney reportedly roused more anger (3)
IRE: How a cockney might say more elevated

11a    Councillor entering reserves work clothing (6)
SCRUBS: The abbreviation for councillor goes inside (entering) some reserves on a team

12a    Pen industry latterly knocked out by mass disease (8)
RINGWORM: A word meaning to pen or enclose and a word meaning industry or labour without the last letter (latterly knocked out), plus the abbreviation for mass

14a    Bird labourer notes from behind (7)
JACKDAW: A labourer (a **** of all trades), plus a reversal (from behind) for a bunch of notes you have in your wallet

16a    Member divided just over three pounds, maybe for barman (7)
BERLIOZ: The second half (divided) of memBER, plus 51 ounces (phew!). Barman as in composer, one preoccupied with putting notes into bars

20a    Garden rubbish — right tip belonging to some sloth? (8)
EDENTATE: A biblical garden, a word for rubbish, and the rightmost letter (right tip belonging to) of some

23a    Slow down Liverpool fan crossing pitch (6)
RETARD: A 3-letter word for a Liverpool fan contains (crossing) a substance like pitch

24a    Jumper stocked by retro outfitter (3)
ROO: Hidden (stocked by … )

25a    Bandage plugging open wound causes calmness (3,1,4)
NOT A PEEP: A verb meaning to bandage or bind/secure goes inside (plugging) an anagram (wound) of OPEN

26a    Boozer, typically with artist, knocked back 8 (6)
PHAROS: A 2-letter abbreviation for a boozer or bar, then the reversal (knocked back) of a short word meaning typically plus the abbreviation for artist. The definition refers to 8a in the sense ‘of the world’

27a    Highlands resident cooked bangers and legumes occasionally (8,5)
ABERDEEN ANGUS: An anagram (cooked) of BANGERS AND ‘EUE’ (lEgUmEs occasionally)



1d    Passed on zip that doesn’t work (4,4)
DEAD DUCK: A word meaning passed on or deceased, and a cricket term for zip or zero

2d    Drink Roy’s opening is revolutionary, having no ring pull (8)
CHARISMA: A drink or cuppa, the first letter (opening) of Roy, IS from the clue, and a 3-letter Chinese communist without (having no) the letter that looks like a ring

3d    Panic-stricken quartet gatecrashing ? (7)
QUIVERY: A tell-tale space before the question mark! The Roman numeral for four goes inside (gatecrashing) another word for question (‘?’)

4d    Perform the role of right-winger, number 26? (6)
BEACON: The definition refers to clue number 26. Split (2,1,3), the answer means perform the role of a right-winger

5d    Set menu item in Mexico with / without wine (6)
BURROW: A Mexican dish of a filled tortilla plus the abbreviation for with, omitting (without) the informal word for the fortified wine you would add (dropwise!) to a gin cocktail

6d    Standing over drunken Ada, Don’s put the lid on booze (6,3,4)
SCOTCH AND SODA: On top of (standing over) an anagram (drunken) of ADA DONS, we have a verb meaning put the lid on or quash

7d    Store with Barker and Jason centrally in picture (9,4)
RESERVOIR DOGS: A 9-letter store, a 3-letter ‘barker’, plus the central letter of Jason

13d    Swimmer wearing armbands gulps (3)
GAR: Hidden ( … gulps)

15d    Con, given time, that’s associated with Morse (3)
DOT: To con or trick, plus the abbreviation for time

17d    Scotsman dons tie? Same perhaps (8)
EUROPEAN: A 4-letter Scottish first name contains (dons?) a verb meaning tie or bind. I guess the answer is perhaps the same as the Scotsman if you split him (2-2)

18d    Inert character Garth shuffled into line (8)
LETHARGY: An anagram (shuffled) of GARTH goes inside (into) a straight line between features on a landscape

19d    Flipping homework left on old floor (7)
PERPLEX: A reversal of an informal 4-letter word for homework, the abbreviation for left, and a word meaning old or past

21d    Spruce up north grazed? (6)
NEATEN: The abbreviation for north, plus a word meaning grazed

22d    Become old and broadcast bucket list? (6)
AGENDA: As in a ‘to do’ list I guess. A 3-letter word that means become old, and an anagram (broadcast) of AND

My favourite will have to be 3d today. I didn’t understand the parsing until writing up the blog, when Word highlighted the gap before the question mark!

49 comments on “Toughie 2584

  1. My first pass resulted in two answers, both of three letters.

    I think I’ll go for a walk.

    Thanks anyway.

  2. Very enjoyable indeed with loads of tricks to catch us out. Thanks to Osmosis and Dutch.
    I finished in the NE corner with 9a and 5d holding me up for ages.

    I can’t understand 17d. I did wonder whether the two Scottish football teams at top and bottom of the grid were relevant (the bottom one being known as the Dons). Also 27a which crosses the answer could be a Scotsman … but none of that helped much.

    I ticked 9a, 2d and 5d but my favourite was the very sneaky 3d.

  3. A few went in on a wing and a prayer, so I can’t claim to have fully understood it all but I enjoyed the challenge
    2d made me check the fridge (has Osmosis been spying on me?), but I agree 3d is pick of the bunch
    Many thanks to Osmosis and to Dutch for filling in the gaps

  4. 9, 16, 20, and 26 across beat me today. Very tricky, a genuine Toughie. Thanks to Osmosis for the run around. Thanks to Dutch for explaining the whys and wherefores. Especially thanks to Dutch for reminding me of that special day back in the 1980s when my two young daughters and I turned the telly up and danced like crazy to Stevie Wonders Superstition on a kids TV program. It went on and on getting better and better while we danced our way around the room, on and off the furniture singing and laughing. Oh deep joy for nearly seven minutes. A google of Stevie Wonder Sesame Street throws up some interesting facts. Not least that the show was already ten years old when we got to see it. Bluetooth your device to a decent sound system, crank up the volume and hit play. I defy you not to dance. Thank you Dutch

    1. Oh, joy, joy, joy joy, joy, MP! I can almost see you and your daughters now. Reminds me of the time my sainted mother and I broke out into a mad Charleston at my niece’s otherwise staid wedding reception. The band struck up ‘Five Foot Two’, and Mama Lois and I were off. What joy that was. And yes, we were in Downtown Charleston.

  5. Ooph is right, Dutch. I was proud of my labours once I answered three of the long answers, but I would have sat here until Doomsday before solving 6a. Nor did I (or do I) understand 5d (what has been left out?) or 17d (even though my bung-in was correct). But I very much liked 2d, as well as the ‘Stevie’ connections (I should have twigged that lighthouse!), and 3d, which probably is the COTD. I actually finished about 75% on my own, and I very much enjoyed the tussle. Thanks to Dutch and Osmosis.

      1. Thanks, Jane. I thought that the spelling was ‘sett’ and so I had no idea what the definition was, nor did I know about the Italian Vermouth. Is that a must?

        1. My mother-in-law always drank ‘gin and it’ but I have to say that it didn’t hold much appeal for me.

  6. Most of the right hand side remained stubbornly blank until reading the first line of the preamble from Dutch gave me a guide to 6a.
    Even then, I struggled to get satisfactory answers to several and I certainly didn’t spot the space before the question mark in 3d.
    Definitely a challenge so thank you for that Osmosis. Grateful thanks to Dutch for being there with all the explanations when I needed them.

  7. 3d and 16a my standout favourites from this very difficult puzzle. My normal solving time went off the chart, and I found this about as hard as a tough Elgar. Had it not been for my naturally stubborn nature, I may well have thrown in the towel a lot earlier, but I persevered and was ultimately well rewarded for my efforts. As a challenge it was first rate.

    Thanks to Osmosis and Dutch.

  8. I was able to get a foothold in the SW quadrant, and after much effort I had most of the SE quadrant and all of the left hand side until I got to 1a. For me, sports references in general do not travel well across the Atlantic, and this one seemed more obscure than most. (I wasn’t able to follow Dutch’s explanation of how the word play worked either, but no matter). Without 1a, there were several clues in the NE quadrant with the first three letters unchecked, and I ground to a halt abandoning the rest of the puzzle – which was a pity because I was thoroughly enjoying the challenge. Abandonment was probably just as well because on reading Dutch’s review, I had not heard of the movie in 7d, and I am not sure I understand how the definition in 9a is related to ‘Lord’s devotee’. I’m sorry I missed 16a – I thought this was a great clue, but I doubt I would have been able to unravel it. Many thanks to all.

      1. Thank you – not a word I had come across (and one that did not seem to appear immediately in references)

  9. Must admit to checking the list of Scottish Clubs to find the second division team in 6a.
    Thought 7d might be a famous Scottish dog painting and only found the Blackfriars Bobby as an example. Unfortunately it is a sculpture.
    The correct answer readily came with a couple of checkers.
    Needed a lot of research to check the possible answers derived from the parsing.
    9a and 4d were the last in.
    A proper toughie for a Friday.
    Thanks to Osmosis and to Dutch for the review.

  10. Way beyond my pay grade!
    About a third managed with aids and that was it.
    As tough as Elgar.
    Now for a 6d .
    Thanks to Dutch, I’ve no idea how you do it ! After decades of daily struggles I get no nearer.
    Thanks also to Osmosis but a little easier next time….?

  11. The Scottish football reference suddenly made 1ac jump of the page, which opened up most of my missing answers, but I still don’t get 17d. I noted Dutch’s question mark by ‘dons’. I see how dons can put a word round another (as in dons a coat), and I can see how it can put a word on top (in a down clue), but I don’t see how it puts it inside. Can anyone give me a usage that works please? Likewise ‘EU an’, very Yoda. EU man would work, but I don’t like this clue. Otherwise a brilliant challenge. Certainly harder than the last 3 Elgars. Oops I hope that dosen’t make Elgar angry, because that would be sure to end my recent good run.

      1. Yes, I can’t believe that Osmosis would use ‘dons’ as a containment indicator, which is why I flirted (to no avail) with Angus from Aberdeen being the Scotsman. It would be really good if Osmosis looked in to reveal his intention with the clue.

    1. well ok, an EUan is whimsical. I’m only guessing that is the intention

      and ys, you correctly interpreted my question mark for dons – seems the wrong way round at first

  12. Did about half unaided. Bunged in 3d, but would never have parsed it in a million years. How devious. Wow. Well done Dutch and thanks Osmosis.

  13. Thought this was very hard, but only got stuck on five which I needed help with. Thanks BD for that. I thought 5d was spelt sett. Can’t find it anywhere spelt with a single t. Listening to the football results in the 60s obviously left a useful impression on me, because it was among the first few I solved, over 6 hours ago !
    Thanks to Osmosis as well

  14. Having decided that this, with its Scottish overtones, was worse than an Elgar, I have to ask. Did anyone really enjoy it?

    1. Not a lot!
      I do wonder how many of the 17,000 hits on BD’s site (see statistics) can solve this sort of difficulty.

  15. Don’t usually bother with Friday’s Toughie as the humiliation affects my sleep patterns but since I’m struggling with Paul in the Graun &it isn’t Elgar what the hell…
    Managed the 4 wee ones plus a couple of others & now time to retire hurt. May return to the wicket but doubt it though if not will try to make a point of seeing if I can make some sense of it with Dutch’s help.
    Thanks Osmosis but you’re far too tough a cookie for me sunshine.

  16. Good grief what a stinker! On the plus side it shows that a really tough puzzle can be compiled without all the jeux d’esprit of [to take an example at random] Elgar. But the struggle to fun ratio was not good, so is it self-defeating? Depends what you want from a crossword I guess. I got the 4 big uns and the 4 wee uns easily enough and eventually completed the LHS then ground to a halt. Much cheating and googling filled in most of the rest but 3d remained unparsed and 5d a complete mystery. In my defence I just don’t think of Italian Vermouth as a wine tho technically I suppose it is. Favourite clues were 6a and 6d because they are fine examples of what we [used to] expect from Osmosis! Thanks to him and Dutch [plus major respect if you completed this unaided].

  17. Had another stab at this at silly o’clock this morning & have advanced to 13 answers, one of which is 6a albeit having had the benefit of clocking the Scottish footie comment when I checked out the rating. For the life of me cannot parse it other than maybe the last 4 letters & still can’t even having read the hint.
    Can someone take pity & spell it out for me please

    1. 6a NETS (goals) reversed + HOUSE (domestic) + MR (title) containing UI (abbreviations for United and International).

  18. Goodness gracious me ! My favourite setter has certainly moved into Elgar territory with this extremely clever and worthy Friday Toughie. As usual Osmosis avoids the obvious answers, e.g. the Scotsman in 17d isn’t Mac, Ian or Mon, but a Scots name which doesn’t usually appear in crosswords. 16a and 5a certainly took some time to work out. My favourite (set of) clues were probably 8d/26a/4d. Very fair, as usual, with almost no unfamiliar words (I could work out 9a, without knowing the term.) Not an easy puzzle for less experienced Toughie solvers, though.

  19. Worked all day on this yesterday and finished it this morning. I thought that 17d might be a sideswipe at Nicola Sturgeon’s attitude to Brexit but, looking at it again, I wonder if ‘Same perhaps’ suggests that the tie dons the Scotsman.

  20. Wow ! a toughie of Elgar proportions. Without Dutch’s prompting I would still be at it; Thank you Dutch. the only complaint i have is that in 6a an ‘s was added which completely mislead me. Otherwise very fair if very difficult. COTD was 20a

  21. Wow ! a toughie of Elgar proportions. Without the prompting I would still be at it; Thank you Dutch. the only complaint i have is that in 6a an ‘s was added which completely mislead me. Otherwise very fair if very difficult. COTD was 20a

  22. Wow ! a toughie of Elgar proportions. Thank you Dutch. The only complaint i have is that in 6a an ‘s was added which completely mislead me. Otherwise very fair if very difficult. COTD was 20a

  23. A proper toughie…I’m afraid 26ac had me completely stumped although I had flirted with the answer without making the ‘wonder of the world’ connection via 8ac. Thanks for this and other insights.
    Incidentally, the cattle featured in the answer to 27ac look like Highland cattle to me and not Aberdeen Angus but that’s not a beef (sorry)!

  24. Glad people are so honest. I thought I was hopeless just managing the left-hand side. But seems I might be a high flier! I am always days behind as I only get a couple of DTs a week and like to make the puzzles last! Liked 15a the best though didn’t realise dividing member meant ditching half of it.

    1. There are all levels of ability here Janet. Whatever your level is your comments will be valued

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