Toughie 2708 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 2708

Toughie No 2708 by Osmosis

Hints and tips by Dutch

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

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

Either Osmosis is becoming more devious or I’m becoming thicker – I found this hard work. We have a pangram, which has become a signature of this setter.

Please leave a comment telling us what you thought.


1a    That man’s after reduced fast food in deli? (6)
QUICHE: A 2-letter male pronoun comes after a 5-letter word for fast or rapid without the last letter (reduced)

5a    Ailment of baby repelled by surgery (8)
SMALLPOX: A 5-letter word meaning baby (sizewise, as an adjective), then a reversal (repelled) of the arithmetic symbol for multiplied ‘by’ plus a 2-letter surgery

9a    Special paintings of a certain type harbour misery (10)
SPOILSPORT: Misery as in a type of person. The 2-letter abbreviation for special, paintings of a certain medium, and a harbour

10a    Tall tree repeatedly planted firm (4)
COCO: A repetition of the abbreviation for a firm

11a    Surplus pasty for one in Old Trafford team (8)
UNWANTED: Replace the ‘I’ in the Machester Old Trafford team with a 3-letter word meaning pasty or pale

12a    Explosive relations stifling mother occasionally (6)
SEMTEX: A 3-letter word for relations (not kin!) contains (stifling) the odd letters (occasionally) of mother

13a    American daughter is lacking in muscle tone (4)
AQUA: The abbreviation for American then a 4-letter leg muscle without the final D (daughter is lacking)

15a    Labourer discussed access to drive (8)
NAVIGATE: A homophone (discussed) of a 5-letter word meaning labourer and an access or entrance

18a    Plonk son Charlie on the counter for confectionery (4,4)
WINE GUMS: A 4-letter word for plonk, then a reversal (on the counter) of the abbreviation for son plus a Charlie or ass

19a    Breed hind (4)
REAR: Two meanings, the first to raise, the second meaning backside

21a    Postal centre in Stockport attracts tramp who goes downhill fast (3,3)
SKI BUM: I happen to live near Stockport – a 3-letter postal code, plus a tramp

23a    Tweeter‘s rule for articulating sentence (8)
RAINBIRD: A homophone (articulated) of a word meaning rule or government, and a prison sentence

25a    Button to help motor racing lady (4)
FIFI: A function key on your computer that offers a help menu, plus a 2-character abbreviation for the fastest kind of motor racing

26a    School attendant experienced with mop (4,6)
GREY MULLET: Experienced or old and an old-fashioned hairstyle now derided

27a    Danger of Juliet ready to disrupt nursing work (8)
JEOPARDY: The letter that has radio code Juliet, then an anagram (to disrupt) of READY contains (nursing) the Latin abbreviation for work

28a    Brother to turn on waterworks around superstore nearing completion (6)
CRIKEY: Brother as in an interjection. A 3-letter word meaning to turn on the waterworks in your eyes goes around a Swedish superstore whose flat-packs take embarrassingly long to assemble, without the last letter (nearing completion)


2d    Genet’s a writer let out of prison? (5)
UNPEN: A French indefinite article (Genet’s a) plus a writing implement

3d    Familiar supporting feature of mug, plates etc (9)
CHINAWARE: An adjective meaning familiar or informed/conscious goes underneath (supporting) a facial feature

4d    Fake fivers that Oz divided continually (6)
ERSATZ: The second halves (divided continuously) of ‘fivers that Oz’

5d    Words exchanged with church involved in shameful sort of film (5-3-7)
SWORD-AND-SORCERY: An anagram (exchanged) of WORDS, a conjunction meaning with, then the abbreviation for a church goes inside (involved in) a word meaning shameful

6d    Car parked on avenue beyond small data storage facility (8)
AUTOSAVE: A word letter word meaning car, then the abbreviation for avenue follows (beyond) the abbreviation for small

7d    Replacement bass put in an appearance in auditorium (5)
LOCUM: Think doctor. A homophone (in auditorium) of an adjective referring to a bass pitch or sound and a word meaning ‘to put in an appearance’ or arrive

8d    Around box, roar excited players (9)
ORCHESTRA: An anagram (excited) of ROAR goes around a type of box

14d    Soil additive shifting colour of grass? (9)
QUICKLIME: An adjective meaning shifting or fast-moving plus a greenish colour

16d    Unifying agent making biscuit (9)
GARIBALDI: A general who contributed to the Italian Unification is also a type of biscuit

17d    Suspect Graeme, short dodgy customer in jumble sale? (8)
RUMMAGER: A word meaning suspect or odd, then an anagram (dodgy) of GRAEM[e] without the last letter (short)

20d    In cinema, coat needed, just above freezing point? (6)
FILMIC: A coat or a thin layer/membrane, then a temperature which is only ‘just above freezing point’ gives a word I didn’t know meaning ‘related to cinema’

22d    Aircraft mechanic initially breaks spanner in the works (5)
BLIMP: The first letter of mechanic goes inside (breaks) a glitch or error (‘spanner in the works’)

24d    Official once content bypassing rare sinner (5)
REEVE: Remove (bypass) the central letters (content) of RarE, and add a sinner in the garden of Eden

I liked the jumble sale, the excited roar, the bird and the fish – which clues did you like

10 comments on “Toughie 2708

  1. Thanks to Osmosis for a very enjoyable proper Friday Toughie with loads of penny drop moments. To provide such a tricky puzzle without the need for any obscure words earns extra kudos from me. Thanks also to Dutch for his blog.

    I thought that we were getting a double pangram but the second J and Z are missing. Is that meaningful? Is Osmosis a fan of a certain rapper?

    My prizes were awarded to 10a, 12a, 23a, 26a and 4d.

  2. Too tough for me. Gave up. At least with Elgar I can grind the answer out without parsing it. Then with Elgar I enjoy seeing what I had missed with the hints. With this after getting about six in I called it a day and I’m not interested in the parsing even. ******/*
    Sorry Osmosis and Dutch

  3. A bit of a struggle and completed with more admiration for the setter’s skill than enjoyment. Obscuring the definition is perfectly legit but having cultivated a large allotment for over 20 years and never known anyone to use it I’m not convinced about 14d. Most admirable clues, for me, were 5a […by surgery] 11a [OK, I laughed at that one] 21a [hmmm] 4d [easy – just divide then continue!] and 17d [this year’s prize for misdirection [make an anagram {suspect} of the whole of Graeme then add a truncated word for dodgy customer -not].
    Thanks to Dutch for the blog. Thanks and respect to Osmosis.

    1. We had a debate about the definition as “soil additive” as the only use we could think of was getting rid of bodies (unlike slaked lime) liked 17 and 26

  4. I, too, enjoyed this excellent and thoughtful pangram. As with any difficult puzzle, I will admit to one or two unparsed bung-ins, but overall I got there without too much angst. 4d was one of my first solved and put me on pangram alert. 25a was my top clue.

    Thanks to Osmosis for the considerable challenge and to Dutch.

  5. Back to the Friday ***** toughie, difficult parsing-fair enough ,a wide spectrum of clues.
    Last in was 28a, can’t say I liked brother as the interjection
    Gave me a sence of satisfaction on completion.

  6. We thoroughly enjoyed this one. Certainly a challenge for us but everything fairly clued and as Gazza says, lots of penny-drop moments.
    Thanks Osmosis and Dutch.

  7. 17answers in & I know they’re correct having pressed the check button. Am resisting using any letter reveals or seeking Dutch’s assistance & will have another stab at it tomorrow but with more hope than expectation. By golly it’s tough though….

  8. Started this yesterday morning and, after getting a few, struggled on and off all day with the rest. Finished this morning with electronic help. I can just about equate ‘brother’ with 28a but it’s a stretch. Parsing of 25a was not helped by the F1 key on my laptop having nothing to do with help but simply switching the loudspeaker on and off. Not my most pleasurable solving experience.

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