Toughie 2828 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 2828

Toughie No 2828 by Osmosis

Hints and tips by Dutch

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

Today’s Osmosis felt a bit easier than some of his recent puzzles. Once again, he omits eleven letters of the alphabet in his grid. I appreciated the clues more on writing up the blog than during the solve, which often happens. There are some lovely surprise definitions, and the wordplay is precise as always. Osmosis is true to the convention of ON meaning following in across clues – I remember that by thinking “added ON to”.

Please leave a comment telling us what you thought.


1a    Shaver held by relative making cut (5,3)
SPARE RIB: A 5-letter shaver (e.g., for vegetables or fruit) is contained (held) by a shortened form of a relative

6a    Bore fuel reserve (6)
GASBAG: A type of fuel and a word meaning to reserve. My last one in, funnily enough

9a    Fumbling done on seat, each carried away — like some dates (6)
STONED: An anagram (fumbling) of DONE follows (on) S(ea)T with the abbreviation for each carried away

10a    One fighting fit by stream, cycling (8)
GUERILLA: Place a word for a fit by a word for a stream, then cycle the first letter to the end

11a    Adversary going over Custer’s Last Stand for kinsman once (8)
FOREBEAR: A 3-letter adversary goes around the last letter in Custer, plus a verb meaning to stand or tolerate

12a    Flash frills of shirt dress (6)
STROBE: The outer letters (frills) of shirt, plus a dress

13a    Cook good, in general, working on double-power spit? (12)
DOPPELGANGER: A 2-letter word meaning cook, then the abbreviation for good goes inside (in) an anagram (working) of GENERAL, following (on) twice (double) the abbreviation for power

16a    Amicable character somehow resists receiving punishment (12)
SISTERLINESS: Ah, character here is a trait, not a person. An anagram of RESISTS contains (receiving) a punishment you might get at school, like Bart.

19a    One who’s filled out slip in test centre, reversed (6)
BARREL: Reversal (reversed!) of a slip or mistake inside (in) a place where experiments are carried out

21a   Try, on margins of fiesta, new dance (8)
FANDANGO: A 2-letter word meaning a try follows (on) the outer letters (margins) of FiestA (expressed as 1,3,1) plus the abbreviation for new

23a    River festival dominated by native, being supreme over water (8)
POSEIDON: Ah, that kind of being. A 2-letter Italian river, then a Muslim festival which is contained in (dominated by) a male offspring that is used synonymously with native

24a    Leaning motorbike, Mike’s unsettled by pair of slackers (6)
SLOPED: A 5-letter motorbike (serious bikers might disagree) from which the initial letter coded by Mike is removed (un-settled) follows (by) the first two letters (pair) of slackers

25a    Article in Paris Match about farceurs, primarily Marx brother? (6)
LEFTIE: A French (in Paris) definite article and another word for a match go around (about) the first letter (primarily) of farceurs

26a    Charity entertained by songstress in Antipodean location (8)
ADELAIDE: A 3-letter word meaning charity goes inside (entertained by) a popular songstress


2d    Brew several cupfuls before return of boss (6)
POTION: A container that would hold several cupfuls, then the return of the boss, or numero uno

3d    Nice woman of infinite energy uplifting? (5)
RENEE: As in a woman from Nice. Reverse hidden (of … uplifting)

4d    Barbecue guest might stomach this flaming shower (3,6)
RED PEPPER: A word for flaming and a verb meaning shower or sprinkle. Not sure why this has to be a bbq, but yes, such a person might. Perhaps it’s undercooked!

5d    Maybe ladies fancied dear old actor (7)
BOGARDE: A word that could mean the ladies’, plus an anagram (fancied) of DEAR

6d    Judge‘s stout shoe missing half liner? (5)
GUESS: A stout shoe without the first 3 letters (missing half) plus the abbreviation for a steamship (liner)

7d    Prison gang’s causing agitation more than once (9)
STIRRINGS: Another word for prison and another for gang’s, keeping the ‘S. The ‘more than once’ indicates the plural

8d    Notice ex-politician on site of congress performed impromptu (2-6)
AD-LIBBED: A 2-letter notice, an ex-political party member, and perhaps the more conventional place to have congress (of the sexual kind)

13d    Sort of soap bar, on Belgian territory, husband removed (9)
DETERGENT: A word meaning to bar or hinder, plus a Belgian town from which the abbreviation for husband has been removed

14d    Man perhaps underpinning eco-friendly home of Liam? (5,4)
GREEN ISLE: What the Man piece of land is known as goes underneath (underpinning) a word meaning eco-friendly

15d    Nail area backing base piece of wardrobe (8)
PINAFORE: Another word for nail, the abbreviation for area, a word meaning backing or supporting, and the base of natural logarithms

17d    Prince’s partner in pop? (7)
INFANTA: IN from the clue and a brand of pop drink

18d    Definitely a sickly colour? How stuffed-up person might report this (6)
AGREED: A from the clue plus a sickly colour, as said by a person with a cold

20d    Junior taking initiative in Liverpool Echo gets scoop (5)
LADLE: A junior man takes the first letters (initiative) of Liverpool Echo

22d    Square drive caught by capless cricketer Brian (5)
AGORA: A 2-letter word for drive or energy goes inside (caught by) the surname of cricketer Brian without the first letter (capless)

I liked the dates getting carried away (9a) and Custer’s Last Stand (11a). I think my favourite is the amicable character (16a). Which clues did you like?

14 comments on “Toughie 2828

  1. Very enjoyable, it took me a while to get there. Was scratching my head about the barbecue in 4d and spent a while looking for something likely to be undercooked. 18d was a bung in and get’s a hmmm from me. Thanks to Osmosis and Dutch.

  2. An enjoyable puzzle, as always from Osmosis – thanks to him and Dutch.
    Add me to those who were a bit puzzled by the barbecue, but I suppose it’s there for the surface reading – those at a barbecue might have to tolerate rain.
    My ticks went to 23a, 25a and 6d.

  3. I found this harder than you did, Dutch, I think – I’d have given it a high 4* for difficulty, especially the LHS. The NE was completed first, thanks to 12a and 6a which were my first two in! But, though I had answers for both quickly, I couldn’t quite figure out the parsing of 6d and 10a, though now I can see them both quite plainly thanks to your usual clear explanations. I was also entirely at a loss as to the mention of a barbecue.

    On which topic, am I the only person who wants to weep upon seeing the word ‘barbeque’?

    Happy April to everyone. I wondered if there would be a fool-based theme somewhere today, but if there was I failed to spot it.

    1. I’m more likely to weep on learning that I have to go to one … in this country too often a guarantee of sudden bad weather, with charred but undercooked food! I have no issue with barbecue or barbeque, so long as it isn’t bar-b-q …

  4. This took me a while to complete but I got there in the end; there was a lot of very lateral thinking needed but that merely made completing the grid more rewarding and enjoyable. 11a was my top clue, followed by 3d.

    My thanks to both Osmosis and Dutch.

  5. Brain fog continues (latest excuse).
    Unable to finish.
    Some complicated parsings and mixed anagrams.
    16 and 25ac and 15 & 22d all beyond me, but understandable with blog.
    18d produced a groan, 5d a grin.
    Looking forward to feeling better next week.

  6. Found this a little more gentle than the usual Friday Toughie fare, enjoyable, and satisfying to finish – albeit that I had a few bung-ins for the parsing of which I was very grateful indeed to Dutch and his review. I wanted the brew to be poteen (once had an Irish neighbour who would bring back gallons of his family’s illicit produce every time he visited them: it was evil, eye-watering and throat-burning stuff!) but it was not to be. Felt that 4d and 18d were by some distance the weakest clues in the grid. Some lovely surfaces, though, and for me the COTD was 25a. Hon Mentions to 1a and 16a.

    4* / 2.5*

    Many thanks to Osmosis and Dutch

  7. A fun challenge, nicely difficult
    For 20d I think it’s initiative of Liverpool then Echo from the phonetic alphabet – I only noticed because ‘initiative’ is singular so can’t apply to both words; of little consequence though
    Many thanks to Osmosis and Dutch

  8. I went down a rabbit hole trying to parse 6D by starting with stout = Guinness then removing INN (half its liner) and then spending an hour wondering what the shoe had to do with it.

  9. Thank you Osmosis for (imho) a proper Friday Toughie which took me easily into 5* territory, and thanks to Dutch for giving me the test centre in 19a – I was hung up on the LSE or other establishments for far too long. As my inner London pupils were wont to say, That was well bad. P.S. Not too fond of the first part of 5d…

  10. Quite a lot of head-scratching was needed along the way and the last one to get sorted was the Marx brother in 25a. Good fun all the way through and a pleasure to solve.
    Thanks Osmosis and Dutch.

  11. Some brilliantly clever and humorous clues, as ever, from this setter. 26a, 5d and 25a were my favourites. Plenty of red herrings to mislead us, too. Very enjoyable, and worthy of a Friday Toughie slot without me ever thinking it might be insoluble. Thanks to Osmosis and Dutch (and also to Neil Diamond on BBC4 who is providing the soundtrack to my evening.)

  12. How glad I am I didn’t waste my time with this! I only solved 2 clues and reading the blog I realise I wouldn’t have got any more. Friday Toughies are, sadly, not for me.

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