Toughie 2876 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
View closed comments 

Toughie 2876

Toughie No 2876 by Osmosis

Hints and tips by Dutch

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

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

Osmosis uses just 14 letters of the alphabet. Today is the first time I’ve been able to use this to my advantage: once I had a Y, I knew what the two algebraic variables were likely to be.

Please leave a comment telling us what you thought.


1a    Beauty parlour mainly discussed darling’s outfit for Chamonix? (10)
SALOPETTES: Chamonix is a famous ski resort. A 5-letter beauty parlour without the last letter (mainly), then a homophone (discussed) of a term of endearment like darling, with the ‘S

6a    Regulars inside getting at smoker? (4)
ETNA: Regular letters inside ‘getting at’

9a    Each vagrant clutching pound coin, as it were (7)
HA’PENCE: An anagram (vagrant) of EACH containing (clutching) another word for pound

10a    VW, a banger perhaps coated in this red stuff? (7)
PASSATA: A model of VW plus A from the clue

12a    Jazzman, tense during openers, played with gong (5,8)
OSCAR PETERSON: The abbreviation for tense goes inside an anagram (played) of OPENERS, after (with) a gong or award

14a    Apply horn around variable area for road user (6)
TOYOTA: A word meaning to ‘apply horn’ or honk goes around an algebraic variable, then the abbreviation for area

15a    Recluse is panning a lot in presence of gold (8)
ISOLATOR: IS from the clue, an anagram (panning) of A LOT, plus the heraldic word for the colour gold

17a    Unknown, inclined to eat pastries, extremely gassy (8)
YAPPIEST: An algebraic unknown or variable, then a 3-letter word for inclined or liable containing (to eat) some pastries

19a    Help thugs filling out hit lists? (6)
CHARTS: Some help in the household plus T(hug)S without the inner letters (filling out)

22a    Probably lost key, alas, in rubbish (2,6,2,3)
AS LIKELY AS NOT: An anagram (rubbish) of LOST KEY ALAS IN

24a    Concentrated energy concluding how cash may be dispensed (7)
INTENSE: The abbreviation for energy comes after (concluding) a (2,4) phrase describing in which notes you may have your cash dispensed

25a    Flier taking odd look inside where plane’s stored? (7)
TOOLKIT: Ah, that kind of plane. A 3-letter bird contains (taking … inside) an anagram (odd) of LOOK

26a    Section of Matterhorn on own? Impossible (2-2)
NO-NO: Hidden (section of … )

27a    Suspiciously observe Yankee with aces under the table (3,7)
EYE ASKANCE: An anagram (under the table, i.e., drunk – or illicit) of YANKEE + ACES


1d    Sweltering before temperature dropped somewhere in New York (4)
SOHO: A (2,3) phrase meaning sweltering from which the abbreviation for temperature is dropped from the end

2d    Vacant latrine flushed after pee — it’s a condition (7)
LEPROSY: L(atrin)E without the inner letters (vacant), the letter pee, and a word describing a flushed colour

3d    Perhaps Peter, since new housing scam, fearful (5-8)
PANIC-STRICKEN: The flying boy who doesn’t grow up, then an anagram (new) of SINCE containing (housing) a word meaning scam or con

4d    Greek astronomer Ptolemy ultimately finding ideal situation (6)
THEORY: A Greek first name and the last letters (ultimately) of astronomer and Ptolomy

5d    Itinerant rep’s in good company if wanting to top up drink (8)
ESPRESSO: An anagram (itinerant) of REPS plus a petrol company. Not sure about the ‘in’ here, not needed.

7d    Pair at bridge entering characteristic passage (7)
TRANSIT: Some bridge partners entering another word for characteristic

8d    Like attending sport, excited to see F1 driver earlier (5,5)
ALAIN PROST: A (1,2) French phrase meaning like or in the manner of, a preposition that can mean attending or at, then an anagram (excited) of SPORT

11d    Female Aussie comedian no longer an actress (6,7)
SHEILA HANCOCK: Aussie slang for a woman, plus a well-known comedian Tony who died in 1968

13d    On yacht without husband? It’s a riotous holiday (10)
STAYCATION: An anagram (riotous) of ON YAC(h)T IT’S A, without the abbreviation for husband

16d    Old music producer‘s hand on deck during record, spinning tracks (8)
PSALTERY: A ‘hand on deck’ or sailor goes inside (during) a reversed (spinning) abbreviation for a vinyl record containing 4 songs, followed by the abbreviation for railway

18d    Group drafting draw, just one time, in felt-tip? (7)
PELOTON: A draw where your chances are minimal, but with just one abbreviation for time, goes inside a writing implement exemplified (hence the “?”) by felt-tip. Thanks Gazza for explaining “drafting”.

20d    Test might be concerned with reserve of old knowledge (7)
RETAKEN: A short word meaning concerned with, an old abbreviation for some reservists, and a word meaning knowledge

21d    Religious doctrine‘s final word about spiritual books (6)
TANTRA: A way of saying good bye goes around some biblical books

23d    Complaint line is out of hand (4)
STYE: A 5-letter word for hand (def 16 in Chambers) or handwriting perhaps, without the abbreviation for line, will give you an eye complaint

I liked the thugs and their hit lists (19a) as well as the VW banger (10a). Which were your favourites?

24 comments on “Toughie 2876

  1. Cracking puzzle. 25a was my favourite. The restricted letter set passed me by today.

    Thanks to Gazza and Osmosis.

  2. I got through this quite quickly for a Friday, but then I spent an age trying to justify ‘mantra’ for 21d before Cilla’s sign off finally came to my rescue.

  3. Osmosis has given us an enjoyable anagram-fest today (my anagram counter reached double figures) – thanks to him and Dutch.
    I got off to a bad start by writing ‘aperitif’ (which I parsed to my satisfaction) in 5d – I only (reluctantly) crossed it out when I got 12a.
    I thought the definition of 18d was ‘group drafting’ i.e. a group riding in formation to allow slipstreaming.
    I have lots of ticked clues including 19a, 2d, 5d and 11d.

    1. you’re no doubt right re drafting, I did wonder, but i didn’t know that meaning. I’ll change.

  4. Really did not enjoy this puzzle very much at all. Half of it straightforward, half not. It felt rather dated (or I just felt about 30 years too young), and I found myself getting irritated about various silly things, such as the enumeration of 9a (why not (2’5)?), extremely not being the same as most, and probably meaning more, not as, likely (as not). Hats off to 25a for the red herring but little else appealed.

    Thank you to Osmosis and to Dutch.

    1. Apostrophes are normally not used in enumeration by convention. However, I have seen them occasionally, whether this is neglect or out of fairness I don’t know

  5. Got off to a great start and really thought I was going to triumph over our setter but then things began to go awry with the likes of 9&27a. Not to worry, it was my best performance against Osmosis for quite a while.

    Thanks to our setter and to Dutch for filling in the blanks.

  6. Dutch, 5d. Isn’t the “in” an indicator to insert an anagram (itinerant) of REP’S into the company ESSO – E(SPRE)SSO ?

    1. That works, didn’t see that. Well spotted. A bit silly imo when the clue works fine without, why complicate, but hey ho

      1. If you do not have the ‘in’ the surface does nort read smoothly. I assume that is why it is there, and given that it works, who can fault it.

        1. i thought it would read smoothly. The rep’s good company (rep is good company). but it doesn’t matter :)

    2. *I can’t satisfactorily parse 5d and I may have missed something (again). But if it was stripped right down to: Itinerant rep’s in company drink (8), I could readily parse it. Mind you, that would be a bit of a naff surface – but I’ve seen plenty worse!

  7. Osmosis is very quirky, never more than today. I spent ages staring at 19a and just could not parse it, though of course it’s perfectly obvious. For some reason I thought it had to be a word meaning ‘help’ missing the central letter or central three letters of ‘thugs’. One of those situations where you miss the easy answer because you’re looking for a more complicated one that isn’t there. Good fun though. Thanks to Osmosis and to Dutch for the excellent explanations.

  8. A wonderfully clever and entertaining Toughie that was an absolute joy to complete. I will confess to a couple of unparsed bung-ins but that is par for the course on a Friday. 25a was my COTD from a goodly selection. 14 letters. Quite remarkable.

    My thanks and congratulations to Osmosis for a great challenge, and thanks too, to Dutch.

  9. Like Jane, I got off to a very good start and began thinking, ‘Will this be…?’ Well, no, it wouldn’t because there were two key solutions I did not know or hadn’t heard of (1a, 8d). But I knew the jazzman, worked out the actress from Oz, jumped for joy when the penny dropped on 27a and 25a, and thoroughly enjoyed this beguiling Toughie as far as I got (which was about 75% on my own). Thanks to Dutch for all the help and to Osmosis for the pleasure.

  10. Another Friday another Friday Toughie . Reading the hints, I’m glad my initial 2 solves didn’t fool me into thinking I had any hope of finishing this.

  11. That must be some grid-fill with the letter restriction. Is this akin to self-flagellation? :D

  12. Totally missed the limited alphabet phenomenon again so a tricky puzzle for us with the SE corner the last to fall. A satisfying feeling to get a conclusion.
    Thanks Osmosis and Dutch.

Comments are closed.