Toughie 2676 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 2676

Toughie No 2676 by Osmosis

Hints and tips by Dutch

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

Looks like we have a double pangram, and we have plenty of Osmosis-style devious definitions making for some great penny-drop moments – though the result was more fun than the ride!

Please leave a comment telling us what you thought.


1a    Visionary vacuum cleaner perhaps puckered fabric (10)
SEERSUCKER: A 4-letter visionary and a word that describes a vacuum cleaner

6a    Barman‘s mass of ice (4)
BERG: This Barman is a composer. A word for a mass of floating ice

9a    A free agent on broadcast probing drawback of celebrity (4,3,3)
ONE’S OWN MAN: ON from the clue, then a word meaning to broadcast goes inside (probing) a reversal (drawback) of a word for celebrity

10a    Removing odd bits of leaf lifts impression of fence? (1-3)
E-FIT: Fence as in criminal. Remove the odd letters from ‘leaf lifts’

12a    Welshman tailed driver without licence — here? (4)
RHYL: A 4-letter Welsh first name without the last letter (tailed), then the abbreviation for a learner driver

13a    Geordie wrestler cutting head, in pain, developed illness (9)
PNEUMONIA: The part of England that Geordie refers to plus a fat Japanese wrestler without the first letter (cutting head) goes inside an anagram (developed) of pain. Ok, so I wasted time looking for a Geordie wrestler. Did anyone else?

15a    Golf aim disheartened Clive, thinking seriously about specs (5-3)
PINCE-NEZ: The rod of a golf flag indicating the hole, the outer letters (disheartened) of Clive, and a reversal (about) of some deep Japanese philosophy

16a    Unknown roused a disco, removing small sparkly belt (6)
ZODIAC: An algebraic unknown plus an anagram (roused) of A D(s)ISCO removing the abbreviation for small

18a    Electronics accessed by crack motor-racing team? (6)
EQUIPE: The abbreviation for electronic (twice) contains (accessed by) a crack or joke

20a    Fashion designer keeps a drawer for measuring device (8)
QUADRANT: The fashion designer who gave us the mini skirt contains (keeps) A from the clue plus the abbreviation for drawer

23a    Stomach discharge to remain constant (5,4)
STAND FIRE: A word meaning to stomach or bear, and a word meaning to discharge or sack

24a    Bank on lavatory being vacant (4)
RELY: A short word meaning on or concerning plus the outer letters (being vacant) of lavatory

26a    Legendary warrior‘s degenerate weapon mentioned (4)
AJAX: A homophone (mentioned) of a verb meaning to degenerate or grow old plus a weapon

27d    Little piece by hack accepted by editor for Oldie (10)
WHITEBEARD: A 4-letter ‘little piece’, then a verb meaning to hack or tolerate is contained (accepted) by the abbreviation for editor

28d    One serves drinks right after lamb? (4)
EWER: The abbreviation for right comes after a female lamb

29d    Writer‘s item for storing college files foremost in room (10)
CHESTERTON: A lockable box or crate for storing, then an elitist college contain the first letter (foremost) of room


1d    Blubber keeping lake’s chill out (4)
SLOB: A verb meaning to blubber or cry contains (keeping) the abbreviation for lake

2d    After hesitation, married couple maybe taking ages outside fabulous land (7)
EREWHON: The utopia that is an anagram. A 2-letter abbreviation, then a pair of abbreviations for married partners goes inside a word meaning ages

3d    Clothing accessory digs into joints (8,4)
SHOULDER PADS: Digs as in a place to stay goes inside (into) some joints at the top of your arms


4d    Pictures shown here of pencil doodling echo times (8)
CINEPLEX: An anagram (doodling) of PENCIL, then the letter with radio code echo and the arithmetic symbol meaning ‘times’

5d    Make mistakes penning answer, periodically applying this? (6)
ERASER: A 3-letter verb meaning ‘make mistakes’ contains (penning) the odd letters (periodically) of ‘answer’

7d    Turkish official that is upset about very loud curtains (7)
EFFENDI: The abbreviation for ‘that is’ is reversed (upset) then contains (about) the music abbreviation for very loud plus a word meaning curtains or close

8d    Penguin territory acquired food given by Sydney, say (6,4)
GOTHAM CITY: A 3-letter verb meaning acquired, a three-letter meat, and what Sydney is an example of

11d    Elusive rogue dealer, half-hidden, nobody rumbled (12)
IMPONDERABLE: A 3-letter rogue or rascal, then an anagram (rumbled) of DEALER + NOB(ody) (half-hidden)

14d    Make progress in freezing conditions pulling up ocean’s fish (5-5)
SPEED-SKATE: A reversal (pulling up) of a word meaning ocean’s (including the ‘S) plus a fish

17d    Saucy dressing to catch the eye in pub outlet and club abroad (8)
JUVENTUS: Another word for gravy (originally French) contains (to catch) the central letter (eye) of ‘pub’ plus a word meaning outlet (eg for air)

19d    In the dark, a conflict is dominated by an Alsatian (7)
UNAWARE: A from the clue plus a word for armed conflict is contained (dominated) by the French (Alsatian) female indefinite article (an)

21d    A series of bike races involving fields in any event (2,5)
AT LEAST: A from the clue, then some motorbike races on the Isle of Man containing (involving) another word for fields

22d    Team rowing hard, last in quarter-final? (6)
EIGHTH: A number representing a rowing team plus the abbreviation for Hard

25d    PM‘s need for reshuffle (4)
EDEN: An anagram (for reshuffle) of NEED

My favourite penny-drop moment was Penguin territory (8d). Which clues did you like?

26 comments on “Toughie 2676

  1. The sort of Toughie/pangram fest you expect when you see the name Osmosis on the list.

    Thanks to him and Dutch – my favourite was also 8d

  2. Good fun – thanks to Osmosis and Dutch.

    I thought we were getting a double pangram but I can’t find the second V.

    My top clues were 24a (amusing), 8d and 17d.

    1. Gazza, you probably already know this, but Mark Cavendish just tied Eddie Merckx’ record!

      1. Yes, Robert. I watched it live – the stuff that dreams are made of. It would be wonderful to see him get to 35 wins on the final stage in Paris.

  3. Osmosis didn’t catch me out today (for a change), though I almost felt a tad silly looking up 1a rather incredulously, only to find it there in black and white
    Many thanks to setter and Dutch

  4. I was surprised to see Dutch had given this five stars for difficulty as I finished it. I can never say that about a five star Elgar. Perhaps we need a new rating for Elgar. However most enjoyable with the usual light bulb moments you get from Osmosis.
    A double pangram is a bonus.
    Thanks to him and Dutch for the explanations.

    1. I’m never a fast solver but for some reason I was particularly slow today. Could be me not osmosis!

  5. Lovely stuff from Osmosis altho a few surfaces were a bit clunky [what on earth is 4d about?]. He seems to have continued his “almost a pangram” run but gone one better with almost a double. I found the disguised definitions and wordplay even more cunning than usual [eg 8d, 10a] to which I’ll add 12a and 21d as favourites.
    Many thanks Osmosis and Dutch.

  6. The was a thoroughly enjoyable puzzle and a rewarding way to end the Toughie week with some clever and inventive clueing. (I seem to have used that phrase a couple of times this week). 8d was the outstanding clue of the day, it not the week. I thought as a puzzle this was a good balance between the often very difficult Elgar and the far more accessible puzzles we have been getting in the Toughie slot. Let’s hope it pleases everyone who attempts it.

    Grateful thanks to Osmosis for a fine challenge and to Dutch.

  7. I rarely attempt Friday Toughies but I decided to give this one a go today. I seemed to drop straight onto the correct wavelength and, although it was certainly tough, I actually finished it in less time than the back-pager took me.

    With so many excellent clues to choose from, the wonderful 8d gets the accolade of my favourite.

    Many thanks to Osmosis and to Dutch.

  8. I really enjoyed all the challenges Osmosis posed today, though I fell six clues short of finishing. I thought that 8d, once I realised what the Penguin signified, was the COTD, if not of the week, as Young Salopian suggests. Most clever and amusing. Of those I didn’t solve, 18a and 17d were the only two I’d probably never solve until my next life. So thanks to Dutch for all the help, and many thanks to Osmosis for the brilliance.

  9. The constant reference to Pangrams intrigues me. I obviously know what they are but I don’t understand how one starts to identify them and thus gain some sort of benefit.
    I did not enjoy this crossword.

    1. In some ways a pangram is a setter’s indulgence. It greatly increases the difficulty of constructing a grid. A double pangram, etc is more of a challenge. There is a fantastic New Years day puzzle in the independent by Maize which, on inspection when you complete it, turns out to be a quintuple pangram. The challenge is to use ordinary words, like zany, ox, quiz, rather than syzygy, etc. Crosswords, I believe, should have ordinary words

      Having said that, they are also an aid to the solver. If you suspect a pangram, you might think about where your missing J, Q and X are going to appear. Often that can lead to the answer of remaining difficult clues

    2. Oh, how to identify them? Well, if you find x,y,z,q,j,v you might suspect one. With osmosis, every one of his puzzles has been a pangram or near pangram recently, so you get to know that too

  10. This was hard work today. Two sittings, one for the right hand side, another for the left hand side and then finally resorted to the hints for 17d. Great achievement by Cavendish in today’s Tour de France.

    Thanks to Dutch and Osmosis.

  11. Really enjoyed this one. Not a quick solve for us but penny-drop moments all the way through with lots of chuckles’
    Interesting about the almost double pangram as it would have been so easy to have used a V in 28a instead of a W. Is there perhaps some other cleverness we have missed?
    Thanks Osmosis and Dutch.

    1. We’ve worried about the almost pangrams for some time. Is it a game? Is there a V hidden elsewhere in the grid?

  12. Never got 2d ans 12a.
    Took a while to get écurie out of my mind in 18a.
    Noticed the pangram.
    I don’t think everything degenerates with age in 26a.
    Thanks to osmosis and to dutch.

    1. Happy you think not everything degenerates with age. I just wish some of the things that do didn’t.

  13. Well, I got correct answers for all the ones I solved but I’m not prepared to say how many clues that covers!
    Really liked 1a so that gets my vote.

    Thanks for the challenge, Osmosis, and gratitude to Dutch for answering all those – ‘what on earth is that’ queries.

  14. Gak, I found this pretty terrible, with weak to moderate surfaces and some IMHO unacceptable wordplay. “Eye” means “central letter” now? Pangrams are clever but no excuse for bad clueing.

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