Toughie 2796 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 2796

Toughie No 2796 by Osmosis

Hints and tips by Dutch

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

Yet again, Osmosis bamboozles us by not using 11 letters of the alphabet – typically the highest scoring scrabble letters, i.e., the least frequent. However, the grid features Y’s and W’s today. Is Osmosis playing a game of the odd man out in his crossword series?

I found today’s puzzle hard-going when I started the online version at midnight, and only got about half way through, already using 3* time. Luckily, the rest followed quickly after a bit of sleep. Please leave a comment telling us what you thought.


6a    Film made by English money perhaps Bergman mostly appreciated (9,4)
EDUCATING RITA: The abbreviation for English, a 5-letter old type of money, the first name of Swedish actress Bergman without the last letter (mostly) and a short word meaning appreciated

8a/26a     Normal seeing Mark sometime between eight and nine (6-6)
TWENTY-TWENTY: Perfect or normal vision can be read as a time

9a    Big bank, sort of, attracting our other son (8)
GENEROUS: A sort of bank containing DNA, an anagram (other) of OUR and the abbreviation for son

10a    He raced among cream in middle-distance? (3)
COE: The central letters (middle-distance) of ‘raced among cream’

11a    Cat with zero resistance being in pain (6)
ANGINA: A cat with a long silky coat in which ‘zero resistance’ is replaced by (being) ‘in’

12a    Something on plate that is cut by officers investigating butcher (8)
REGICIDE: Something on a car licence plate, then the abbreviation for that is containing (cut by) some police officers. I thought the answer meant a killing but Chambers tells me it can also mean a killer

14a    Describing lasagne, starter in eatery during repeated plonk (7)
LAYERED: The first letter (starter) in eatery goes in between two meanings (repeated) of plonk, the first a verb and the second a noun

16a    One leaves European port carrying large support for table? (7)

TRESTLE: A 7-letter Italian port without the Roman numeral for one, but containing (carrying) the abbreviation for large

20a    Gurner maybe heading for Egremont, Cumbrian place at heart of event (8)
EDENTATE: The first letter (heading) for Egremont, a village in Cumbria, AT from the clue, and the central letter (heart) of event

23a    Sauce spilling on new fabric (6)
TARTAN: A sauce often used with fried seafood but without (spilling) the last two letters that mean ‘on’ – then add the abbreviation for new

24a    Board over many a school — is it common? (3)
LEA: The answer is both a meadow or pasture which could be a common, as well as the abbreviation for a school authority that you might well see on a board or sign at a school

25a    Passed on official document that tipster recommends? (4,4)
DEAD CERT: A word meaning passed on, and an abbreviation for an official document of achievement or qualification

26a    See 8 Across

27a    Being awkward on tour, Alice Cooper abandoned musical style (13)
RECALCITRANCE: An anagram (on tour) of ALICE + C(oope)R without the middle letters (abandoned), then a musical style (not easy-listening)


1d    Sliced duck in pleasant ambience failed to impress (3,2,3)
CUT NO ICE: A 3-letter word meaning sliced, then a score of zero in cricket goes inside ( inambience) another word for pleasant

2d    Child’s-play ward needing no special cleaning? (4-4)
EASY-CARE: A word meaning child’s-play, i.e. not difficult, and a word for ward as in guardianship

3d    Cautiously dismissing student of Titian (7)
GINGERY: An 8-letter word meaning cautiously without (dismissing) the abbreviation for student or learner

4d    Late drinking gees up boozer ordering this? (6)
EGGNOG: A reversal (up) of a 4-letter word meaning late, as in passed on, containing (drinking) two Gs. All letters have their phonetic spellings in the dictionary.

5d    Type of acid trip curtailed in Islington clubs? (6)
NITRIC: TRI(p) from the clue without the last letter (curtailed) goes inside the postcode for Islington and the abbreviation for clubs

6d    Artist drew frantically to capture central view (5,8)
EDWIN LANDSEER: An anagram (frantically) of DREW contains (to capture) a 6-letter word meaning central (when referring to a country, especially one with a seashore) plus a word meaning to view

7d    Keep half of Duran Duran working on project in magazine (7,6)
ARUNDEL CASTLE: An anagram (half of … working) of DURAN, then a 4-letter verb meaning to project or throw goes inside (in) a women’s magazine

13d    Swimmer buoyant in Mediterranean (3)
IDE: Reverse hidden (buoyant in …)

15d    Yearning for the other channel (3)
RUT: The desire of deer (and other ruminants) to mate

17d    Spinning pants used by a right-winger (8)
ROTATORY: A word meaning pants or rubbish plus A from the clue and a right-winged politician

18d    Dick perhaps transported fencing gear to compound (8)
SERGEANT: A word meaning transported or dispatched contains (fencing) ana anagram (to compound) of GEAR. The definition presumably refers to a police detective; I started thinking about the actor, but he is spelled differently

19d    Pianist shortly brought in performed on triangle (7)
DELTOID: The first name of Rocketman Mr John without the last letter (shortly) goes inside (brought
in) a word for ‘performed’

21d    Refusal to move loaf above freezer (2,4)
NO DICE: A movement of the head goes above some freezer

22d    Antique George left in trailer (3-3)
AGE-OLD: The abbreviations for George and left go inside a 2-letter trailer or promotion

I liked 23a (sauce spilled on new fabric) because it read so smoothly. I also enjoyed the yearning for the other channel (15d) and Alice Cooper (27a). Which were your favourite clues?

18 comments on “Toughie 2796

  1. Very enjoyable low scrabble scores. Slightly easier than the last couple from Osmosis but still a proper toughie. Quite a lot of reverse engineering for the parsing. Thanks to Osmosis and Dutch.

  2. A very enjoyable Friday-level Toughie – thanks to Osmosis and Dutch.

    I think the 6a Bergman is the actress rather than the director.

    I’m not keen on the use of the Cumbrian place in 20a – it’s a small village with, according to Wikipedia, a population of under 800.

    I ticked 11a, 25a and 3d but my overwhelming favourite was 15d for the LOL moment when the penny dropped.

    1. Not sure about 20a, it’s certainly obscure (and beat me) but this is a Friday Toughie – and, as Dutch has illustrated, the use of Egremont in Cumbria gives a great surface referencing the Crab Fair. (I also thought the definition, as an adjective, might have an unindicated lift and separate i.e. “Gurner may be” .. but found out it is also a noun, albeit usually referring to sloths/anteaters/etc)

  3. I also found this tricky to get into but once started [6a and 8/26] it fell into place in 4 or 5* time. Favourites were 11a and the LOL 15d. I so wanted it to be “yearning for the other” but couldn’t think of the word until I got 14a.
    Thanks to Osmosis and Dutch.

  4. A proper Toughie, I thought, many thanks Osmosis and Dutch. Perhaps even slightly trickier than Elgar’s rare and very welcome appearance (as Enigmatist) in the Graun today?
    Failed to parse 11a (didn’t know the cat) and 20a (didn’t know the village), and took 18d to be the actor (didn’t check the spelling) … but still, pleased with a full grid! Favourites 8/26a, 25a, 15d, 21d – but now Dutch has explained it maybe 11a gets COTD.
    Thanks again!

  5. Thanks to Osmosis for a real Toughie, and to Dutch for your assistance in nudging me over the line. I have no problem with asking for help, as it were, on a Friday! 4*/4*.

    1. Btw, I first saw 6a in Bromley? Catford? in the early 80s, then again Portsmouth a couple of years ago. Interestingly the first had the well-known leading lady (who went on to star in the film version) and a lesser known leading man; the second was a complete reversal, well-known man, less famous lady. Not to denigrate either of the “lesser” actors, both put on an excellent show. Much prefer stage version to screen. No names in case I’ve already said too much…

  6. Even with electronic assistance failed to finish 19d and 24ac.
    I also needed a lot of parsing help, thanks Dutch.
    Not quite as impenetrable as Elgar but still *****/*** for me.
    Thanks Osmosis for the challenge.

  7. I enjoyed getting stuck into this one, and very rewarding it was too. It is hard not to be impressed yet again at the skill of the compiler to put this together using so relatively few letters. From many fine clues I liked 6d the best.

    Thanks Osmosis for a terrific challenge, and thanks, too, to Dutch.

  8. Quite a work out! One of those where I thought I was going to have to give up with a nearly empty grid, but gradually it came together. So many penny-drop moments, I can’t name them all, but loved all of them – he’s so clever the way he misdirects, it’s a joy to behold. Three pennies that didn’t drop, leaving me with parsing queries, were what sort of bank he was thinking of (9a), what’s on a plate (12a) and how 10a worked – just didn’t see it at all.

    Brilliant. More please!

  9. Echoing Friar Richard, there were times early on when I looked at the nearly blank grid and wondered whether completing the back pager before 7am was such a good idea … no DT puzzle left until tomorrow! However perseverance, playing around with possible checking letters, and putting the puzzle down for an hour or so at a time, all helped immensely.

    Had Dutch not commented on the missing letters I should not have noticed … Some of my answers were bung-ins and I was delighted to see on reading the review that my grid was all present and correct, even if still needing to understand some of theparsing. A huge feeling of satisfaction for what I felt was a proper Friday Toughie.

    Penny Drop Moments could have left me with 20+ ticks for this excellent puzzle, and I loved the constructions of 6a, 6d and 27a (one of my favourite music genres) – but I could add 19d, 12a and 3d to the list of Hon Mentions yet still be unfair to so many other wonderful clues.

    5* / 4*

    Many thanks to Osmosis for a tremendous puzzle and the sense of achievement on completion, and to Dutch for the review and helping me understand what I’d done!

  10. I made a few dents (minor dings mostly) in this brilliant Osmosis grid last night, but realised finally that this American needed to live another life (preferably one that began in the UK!) before attempting to solve anything this remarkably challenging. I don’t know how you do it, Dutch (and Gazza), but I remain in awe of your talents. Cheers to Osmosis!

  11. We made a wrong guess about the geography in 5d and had the acid from lemons as our answer. The 20a geography also a challenge. Everything else slowly but surely slotted in to place eventually.
    a pleasure to solve.
    Thanks Osmosis and Dutch.

  12. Was totally hooked and didn’t want to put it down until I finished.
    A done thing now and very pleasurable it was.
    Didn’t notice the letters used to compile this beauty.
    Been a while since we saw the Islington clue. It used to crop up regularly. Was an N8 boy for so long. A bit further up the Archway.
    Thanks to Osmosis and to Dutch.

  13. Even had I known which 11 letters to discount before starting I’m not sure I would have advanced much further without help. Managed 16 unaided but with 5 letter checker reveals plus 4 hints I had a correct letter in each square but wasn’t really sure what one or two of them were doing there.
    Too tough for me but huge fun having a bash. As an ex bookie & a film lover 6&25a were my joint favourites but there was such an abundance of clever clues – 8/26a, 12a (reg’s 2nd showing this week), 14&27a plus 1,5,6&21d all excellent.
    Thanks Osmosis & to Dutch for making sense of it all as ever.
    Ps Elgar in the Graun was far easier.

  14. Started this this morning and worked on it, on and off, all day. Finally filled the grid but got one wrong.
    15d reminded me of a joke in ‘Much Binding in the Marsh’ (remember that?):
    Kenneth Horne: ‘What did you do on your holiday, Murdoch?’
    Richard Murdoch: ‘A bit of this, a bit of that, not much of the other.’
    How did that get past the BBC censor?

  15. Just finished this (slowly!) with only a couple of hints, so feeling a bit pleased. Thanks to setter and reviewer for a real workout. I struggle to see abandoned = omit middle letters in 27a – any explanation? Apart from It’s a Toughie …

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