Toughie 2660 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 2660

Toughie No 2660 by Osmosis

Hints and tips by Big Dave

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BD Rating – Difficulty ***Enjoyment *

Dutch is unavailable today.  I hadn’t anticipated the problems of the last two days when I agreed to cover for him, which is why this review is so late.

I enjoyed very little of this puzzle. I’m sure if it were to appear in our Rookie Corner the main comments would be on the surface readings, or lack of them, of many of the clues. For example just what image does “Insurgent clothes touring American carried mainly, so to speak” conjure up?

Please leave a comment telling us what you thought.


1a    Theatrical release of captive with key, saying sorry (10)
ESCAPOLOGY: a key on the computer keyboard followed by an expression of regret (saying sorry)

6a    Leap from plane with tail on fire (4)
JETÉ: a type of plane followed by the final letter (tail) of [fir]E

9a    Companion stumbling over new road sign (7)
CHEVRON: a Companion of Honour followed by an anagram (stumbling) of OVER and N(ew)

10a    Masks, etc used by Republican in specialist regiment, and another (7)
SAPPERS: the paraphernalia that was in short supply at the start of the pandemic and R(epublican) inside a specialist regiment of soldiers gives another regiment of soldiers

12a    Emcee and minder ejecting one that’s drunk the liqueur (5,2,6)
CRÈME DE MENTHE: an anagram (that’s drunk) of EMCEE with M[I]NDER without (ejecting) the I (one) followed by THE from the clue

14a    Master and kids discussed mathematical table (6)
MATRIX: a Master of Arts followed by what sounds like (discussed) a verb meaning kids

15a    On first part of journey maybe ring about help with cases? (5,3)
LEGAL AID: the first part of a journey could be (maybe) described thus (3,1) followed by the reversal (about) of a verb meaning to ring on the telephone

17a    A-Z map briefly reviewed before stay in Derby? (8)
ALPHABET: most of (briefly) a word meaning a map is reversed (reviewed) followed by a verb meaning to stay or exist inside an unindicated Americanism of an example of a type of headwear

19a    Drink following each Xmas (beer) all reduced by half (6)
CHASER: the second half (reduced by half) of three four-letter words in the clue

22a    Writer‘s series of holy books current estate regularly discarded (6,7)
SAMUEL BECKETT: a series of two holy books in the Old Testament followed by a current or stream and the odd letters (regularly discarded) of EsTaTe

24a    In Scotland, gas bill lacks content — it’s different there (7)
BLETHER: B[il]L without (lacks) its middle letters (content) followed by an anagram (different) of THERE

25a    One’s in part of church and cathedral sharing echo, in innocence (7)
NAIVELY: insert I (one) into a part of a church which ends in the letter that is represented by Echo in the NATO Phonetic alphabet and follow it with a cathedral sharing that letter

26a    Visualised double measure of Chianti featuring in retreat (1-3)
E-FIT: hidden (measure of) and reversed (in retreat) inside the clue

27a    Arrange further scripture class to avoid returning after school (10)
RESCHEDULE: a two-letter scripture class and the reversal (returning) of a verb meaning to avoid, the latter coming after SCH(ool)


1d    Score, and the rest start to hug (4)
ETCH: an abbreviation meaning “and the rest” followed by the initial letter of (start to) H[ug]

2d    Rowers on canal identifying arrangement of locks (4,3)
CREW CUT: a group of rowers followed by a canal or channel – locks here refers to hair (which is conspicuously missing from the answer!)

3d    Left the blaze raging around independent African city (4,9)
PORT ELIZABETH: the nautical term for left followed by an anagram (raging) of THE BLAZE around I(ndependent)

4d    Thin declining small shark? (6)
LENDER: start with an adjective meaning thin and drop (declining) the S(mall)

5d    Gambler bringing up son that keeps track of consumption (3,5)
GAS METER: start with another word for a gambler and move the S(on) up (towards the front in a down clue) two places

7d    European guitar players missing piano star (7)
ELECTRA: E(uropean) followed by the plural of a pointed device with which the strings of a guitar are struck (guitar players) without (missing) the P(iano)

8d    Show people around Stratford (10)
EASTENDERS: two definitions – a TV program and those who live near the London locality of Stratford

11d    Reprising rap, he performs with finest artistic style (3-10)
PRE-RAPHAELITE: an anagram (performs) of RAP with (reprising) RAP and HE followed by a word meaning the finest

13d    Icy roads may be such a devil when black (10)
IMPASSABLE: a devil followed by a word meaning when and an heraldic black

16d    Insurgent clothes touring American carried mainly, so to speak (8)
SEABORNE: the (somewhat debatable) reversal (insurgent / revolutionary) of a six-letter verb meaning clothes around (touring) A{merican) gives a word meaning carried on the “Spanish main”

18d    Ancient city failing to fulfil Portsmouth couple (7)
POMPEII: most of (failing to fulfil) a colloquial word for word for Portsmouth followed by two (a couple) in Roman numerals

20d    Rogue meets some Greek for business lunch? (3,4)
SET MENU: an anagram (rogue) of MEETS followed by a letter of the Greek alphabet

21d    Perhaps Durham prison sounded dramatic (6)
SCENIC: run together another word for a diocese (perhaps Durham) and a colloquial word for a prison and they sound like this adjective meaning dramatic

23d    Talk up front in hall on variable exercises (4)
HYPE: the initial letter (front) of H(all) followed by a mathematical variable and some Physical Exercises

A handful of good clues, like 6a, fail to rescue this puzzle for me.


9 comments on “Toughie 2660

  1. Really struggled to solve and parse quite a lot of this, and agree with Dave’s assessment about surface readings. No real favourites, but thanks to Osmosis for the workout and to BD for all the work he does on our behalf.

  2. Although I’ve never met any of the Toughie team I have a great respect for the daily mental challenges which they provide, especially for Big Dave, for keeping the blog going, even when technology intrudes and infuriates. I did enjoy this puzzle as usual from my favourite setter, although I agree with Dave about 16d, which was my last solve. Favourite was 10a, which amused me, as I’d not seen PPE in a crossword before. However I’ve seen enough PPE outside crosswords in the last year, which isn’t amusing, and would like to thank all the compilers and bloggers who have kept us going in these difficult times.

  3. Thank you so very much, Big Dave, for all of your efforts these past 24 hours! I was really glad to see your post tonight (it’s about 2300 Friday night over here in South Carolina) because I then realised that you had managed to deal successfully with all of the unexpected adversity. I did manage to complete about half of this Osmosis on my own (probably 24 hours ago or so), then resorted to some electronic aid (the gift of 5 letters) and still couldn’t complete it. Your review has now helped fill the grid for me. Again, many thanks for your hard work and for managing to solve this very challenging puzzle, and thanks to Osmosis.

  4. Given the technical difficulties, I was very glad to have been able to solve and parse this without recourse to the hints. That said there were a few head scratches along the way and I was heavily reliant on checkers to get the last few (16d and 21d being examples).

    Thanks to BD and Osmosis.

  5. Welcome back!
    I, too, wasn’t that enamoured of this puzzle. Too many convoluted clues with bits off here and reversals there.
    I suppose my COTD was 1a and then it was downhill all the way.
    I hope you manage a relaxing weekend….you deserve it!

  6. Really struggled with this puzzle. I agree that some of the surfaces were quite bizarre. I think my favourite was 1a, now that I have finally twigged that “key” refers to an an electronic keyboard. When I started solving the DT crosswords over 50 years ago there was no such item.

  7. Finished this puzzle early yesterday morning but unable to comment until now. One of those where I wonder afterwards why it took so long at the time.

    More than half of it I enjoyed immensely, but the convoluted surface readings took the edge off too many clues for me. Nonetheless I would love to tackle (knowingly in advance) another Osmosis puzzle after cutting my proverbial teeth on that one.

    Many thanks to Osmosis and to Big Dave.

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