Toughie 2724 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 2724

Toughie No 2724 by Osmosis

Hints and tips by Dutch

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

Osmosis gives us top quality: beautifully-crafted surface readings that nicely disguise the definitions, making for an enjoyable and satisfying solve. No sign of Q,X,Y,Z, so no pangram. Makes me wonder if I am missing something else.

Please leave a comment telling us what you thought.


1a    Nautical position affects deserted seabird (6)
ASTERN: Affects from the clue without the inner letters (deserted) plus a seabird

4a    Discharge letter by medical department following illness (8)
EFFLUENT: The spelling of the 6th letter, then the abbreviation for a hospital department following a seasonal illness

10a    Perhaps schooner‘s given to boss filled with whiskey (3-6)
TWO-MASTER: TO from the clue plus a 6-letter boss containing (filled with) the letter with radio code whiskey

11a    Habitual tumbler, jockey gets third knocking to head (5)
DRIER: Another word for a horse jockey with the third letter moved to the front (gets third knocking to head)

12a    Comparatively vile in-laws consistently row (7)
NASTIER: The even letters in ‘in-laws’ (consistently, as in regularly) plus another word for a row

13a    Addresses held at this large relocating centre (7)
LECTERN: The abbreviation for large and an anagram (relocating) of CENTRE

14a    Sort of woolly bears run island (5)
ARRAN: A type of woolly jumper contains (bears) the abbreviation for run

15a    Visiting centre of Brunei, see swamp (8)
INUNDATE: A preposition that can mean visiting, the central two letters of Brunei, and a word that means see (as in to go out with)

18a    Department prepared to defend head of research lab? (8)
DORDOGNE: A 4-letter verb meaning prepared contains the first letter (head) of research plus the type of animal exemplified by lab

20a    Spar‘s closed after class (3-2)
SET-TO: A 2-letter word meaning closed comes after a class or group

23a    Count Dracula marginally welcoming in French extras (7)
ADDENDA: A 3-letter verb meaning count or tot plus the outer letters (marginally) of Dracula contains a French word meaning ‘in’

25a    Rubbish drawer, with mainly bags in it (7)
DOODLER: I think that this just means the contents of the answer is a 6-letter word meaning bags or lots, without the last letter. Ah, note Gazza’s comment: the ‘it’ refers back to drawer, for which the banking abbreviation is dr. In Chambers, but somehow i missed it.

26a    Port on Adriatic’s eastern side? Split (5)
CLEFT: A word meaning the port side follows the last letter (‘s eastern side) of Adriatic

27a    Liberal character‘s approval shouted during electronic music (9)
TOLERANCE: A Spanish shout of approval goes inside (during) a type of electronic music

28a    One turns up incline in advanced driving area (8)
ATTENDEE: A verb meaning to incline goes inside the abbreviation for advance plus where you drive a golf ball from

29a    Filling in hole, a dentist’s overbearing (6)
LEADEN: Hidden (filling in … )


1d    Insurgent woman should be tethered by stake, they feel (8)
ANTENNAE: The reversal (insurgent) of a woman’s name goes inside (should be tethered by) a stake or bet

2d    Appropriate time set on alarm clock? (7)
TROUSER: The abbreviation for time and a 6-letter word that would describe an alarm clock

3d    Straightened out backside, wrinkly in audition (9)
REALIGNED: A 2-word homophone (in audition) of a word for backside plus a word meaning wrinkly, as a face might be

5d    US maritime centre‘s original dollar featured (4,10)

6d    Little Richard upholding volume, essentially playful (5)
LUDIC: A nickname for Richard without the last letter (little) has above it (upholding) the central letters (essentially) of volume

7d    Famous pit in Tyneside hoisted tons (7)
EMINENT: Another word for pit or quarry goes inside a reversal (hoisted) of the area known as Tyneside, plus the abbreviation for tons

8d    Modest shipping engineer liable to tax (6)
TIRING: An 8-letter word for modest dispensing with (shipping) the initial abbreviation for an engineer

9d    Keep can over fish piece (8,6)
STIRLING CASTLE: A can or prison, a 4-letter fish, and a chess piece

16d    Music genre sure transformed language (9)
DISCOURSE: A type of music plus an anagram (transformed) of SURE

17d    Number of vixen dash off northwards? (8)
FOURTEEN: Remove the ‘en’ dash from vixen and reverse (northwards)

19d    Scrap every other staff member close to retirement (7)
ODDMENT: A (3,3) description of every other staff member and the last letter (close to) retirement.

21d    Hawk’s so isolated in shade (7)
TALONED: A 4-letter word meaning isolated goes inside a word meaning a sade or a bit (thanks for the correction gsolphotog)

22d    Car Mike gets out of AC Milan’s deal (6)
LANCIA: An anagram (deal) of AC (m)ILAN without the letter with radio code Mike

24d    It’s impossible, climbing or descending (3,2)
NOT ON: The answer reads the same upwards and downwards

I think my favourite today is defending the head of research lab, though the alarm clock comes close. Which clues did you like?

18 comments on “Toughie 2724

  1. Very enjoyable. Slim pickings on first run through but then picked up pace with a few checkers. Took me a long time to see the parsing of 17d. Thanks to Dutch and Osmosis.

  2. Enjoyable with some wordplay that had to be teased out. Thanks to Osmosis and Dutch.

    I had visions of RD becoming apoplectic when when solving 9d.

    I think for 25a that ‘it’ refers back to drawer (the banking abbreviation for which is DR).

    I ticked 18a, 25a and 2d but my favourite was the very neat 17d.

    1. RD doubly apoplectic when solving 1d?

      I had no idea how to parse 25a.

      Thanks to Osmosis and Dutch!

  3. The usual inventive wordplay from Osmosis. I too puzzled a bit over 25a but eventually concluded that “drawer” is doing double duty, both as part of the definition and as its abbreviation in the wordplay. Favourites were 18a [lab] 23a, 8d [well-disguised definition] and 17d.
    Thanks to Osmosis and Dutch.

  4. An excellent conclusion to the Toughie week. I think 2d has to be my favourite of many excellent clues. The whole grid was a delight from top to bottom, so many thanks to Osmosis for the challenge and to Dutch.

  5. I really struggled with this and only managed about 6 clues. Being a knitter, I wish I’d solved 14a. I notice the answer to 2d is beginning to be as popular as brassica! I bet someone here counts how many times a word appears.
    Just got back from lunch out with friends. It really made me realise how much I’d missed such social contact during lockdown.

  6. At 21d I think it’s LONE in TAD the latter being a shade as in small amount rather than shade if brown as suggested in the blog?

  7. Good Toughie, very satisfying. Defeated by 6d for which I needed Dutch’s hint, but I felt the rest were very fairly clued and “gettable”.

    Rated on all the other clues I’d say this was a 4* Toughie and gentle for a Friday … but defeated by that one clue must therefore make it higher up the scale!

    Many thanks to Osmosis and to Dutch.

  8. A very satisfyong thoroughly enjoyable solve for us.
    No chance of picking a favourite as so many great clues.
    Thanks Osmosis and Dutch.

  9. I know it’s very late for me to post but I do want to go on record as having attempted this very challenging and ultimately quite satisfying Toughie. I failed gloriously, however. 6d and 25a most notably escaped me, as did a couple others I should have got. Was quite happy as a foreigner to solve 18a and 9d, especially. Those two get my vote as the best of a very fine lot. Thanks to Dutch and Osmosis.

  10. Thanks for the blog! it clarified some stuff for me — in particular, DOODLER (like many others). 22d deserves an honourable mention for incorporating my first name in the fodder.

    On a serious note, how does one know who the setter is online? (in this case Osmosis apparently)

    1. Scroll down the Welcome page to this site and the week’s setters are listed on the right hand side (usually from Tuesday).

    2. If you subscribe to puzzles.telegraph ….

      Tap on The Knowledge, then Toughie Crossword Compilers.

  11. I follow the wordplay in 9d. But how does Stirling Castle become keep. I thought castles had keeps within them?

  12. Great puzzle. Took a while (not the entire six days!) but managed it unaided. Didn’t parse 17d though. It was the only number that would fit in. Favourite was 2d.

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