Toughie 2956 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 2956

Toughie number 2956 by Osmosis

Hints and tips by Dutch

Difficulty: ***** Enjoyment ****

I found this tricky with some devious definitions. However we have a very nice pattern one block in from the perimeter.

Please leave a comment telling us what you thought


1    Strong blow in martial arts impacted back (7)

MISTRAL: Reverse hidden (in … back)

5    Reclusive type with lip filling in for new metal worker (7)

LORIMER: A 5-letter reclusive type contains another word for lip or edge replacing the abbreviation for new (with … filling in for …)

9    John bypasses current status of house? (2,3)

TO LET: A 6-letter word for a John without (bypasses) the physics symbol for current

10    Travel on Vespa briefly, body ruined by old animated dog (6-3)

SCOOBY-DOO: A 5-letter word meaning to travel on a scooter without the last letter, an anagram (ruined) of BODY and the abbreviation for old

11    One takes a plane to Brazil? (10)

WOODWORKER: cryptic definition, with a play on plane and Brazil

12    Drunk failing to get dry (4)

BLOT: A 6-letter word meaning drunk without (failing) the final TO

14    Doctor‘s note to Carol about swelling (12)

MICROSURGEON: A note on the do-re scale, then a verb meaning to carol or sing goes around (about) a word meaning a swelling or wave

18    Abroad the gourmet gorges on local variety of yak? (6,6)

MOTHER TONGUE: An anagram (abroad) of THE GOURMET contains (gorges) ON

21    Herb gathered for chef’s preparation (4)

ROUX: A homophone (gathered) of a herb I hadn’t heard of

22    Bubbly on ice opened by wrinkly songstress (6,4)

CELINE DION: An anagram (bubbly) of ON ICE contains (opened by) another word for wrinkly, as a face might be

25    Jerry to stream Irish reflective medley (9)

POTPOURRI: A jerry, a verb meaning to stream or decant, and a reversal (reflective) of the abbreviation for Irish

26    Watchdog belonging to Mike patrolling business (5)

OFCOM: A (2,1) phrase meaning ‘belonging to Mike’, where Mike is the radio code for letter, contains (patrolling) an abbreviation meaning business or firm

27    Modernise packaging firm in odd places somewhere in Scotland (7)

RENFREW: A 5-letter word meaning modernise or revitalise contains the odd letters (in odd places) of FIRM

28    Brothers on vacation rebuff staff attendant at Kentucky Derby? (7)

TURFMAN: The abbreviation for trade union (brothers), rebuff without the inner letters (on vacation), and a word meaning to staff. The answer is an Americanism, hence Kentucky


1    Stuck-up cat with personal name on platter (6)

MOTOWN: Platter is an old word for gramophone record. A reversal (stuck-up) of a male cat plus a pronoun meaning ‘personal’

2    Enthusiastic about very good student teacher (4,2)

SOLD ON: A 2-letter word that can mean ‘very good’,the abbreviation for learner, and a 3-letter teacher or professor

3    Hound corrupt roof man possibly stifling teammates (10)

ROTTWEILER: A 3-letter verb meaning to corrupt or decay, then someone who fixes roofs containing (stifling) a pronoun used for teammates

4    Bridesmaid, increasingly promiscuous, wanting love? (5)

LOSER: A 6-letter word meaning more promiscuous without one of the O’s (wanting love). A bridesmaid is also a runner-up in a competition, I didn’t know that.

5    They witness child beneath mantrap? (7-2)

LOOKERS-ON: An attractive woman followed by a male child

6    Person entitled to underpin king’s outfit (4)

ROBE: The title associated with a medal goes underneath (to underpin) the Latin abbreviation for king

7    Male warbler abandoned by unknown craftsperson (8)

MODELLER: The abbreviation for male, then someone who warbles in the alps without the initial Y (abandoned by unknown)

8    Feature of hen night involved scrapping hard, overcome by bouncers? (8)

ROOSTING: An anagram (involved) of NIG(h)T without the H (scrapping hard), but first (overcome by) some Australian bouncers

13    Carp on second or twelfth of August teeming here? (6,4)

GROUSE MOOR: A word meaning to carp on or complain, a 2-letter second and OR from the clue

15    Off on run that hurts (old track in London) (6,3)

ROTTEN ROW: Off or gone bad, the abbreviation for run, and a 2-letter exclamation meaning ‘that hurts’

16    Rogue cowboy perhaps unfit (8)

IMPROPER: A 3-letter rogue or mischievous person, and then someone like a cowboy who might use a lasso, for example

17    Popular style of men‘s sledge stored away amid reported heat (8)

STAUNTON: Chessmen. Didn’t know that. Sledge is cricket slang for making offensive remarks to put off a batsman. Didn’t know that. A word meaning to sledge goes inside a homophone of a solar system heater

19    Small broadcaster’s website dismissing very funny programme (6)

SITCOM: The abbreviation for small, a TV station, and the suffix for a website – but omitting the abbreviation for very

20    Sort of band playing alongside rising celebrity (3-3)

ONE-MAN: A preposition meaning ‘playing’ plus a reversal (rising) of a celebrity

23    Lemon‘s acidity drops noted when peeled twice (5)

IDIOT: ‘acidity drops noted’, with each word stripped of the outer pairs of letters (when peeled twice)

24    Visit either partner’s house (4)

DOOR: A 2-letter verb that can mean ‘visit’ plus the partner of ‘either’

My favourite today was ‘bubbly on ice’. Which clues did you like?

12 comments on “Toughie 2956

  1. Slow start and a lot of head scratching & a couple of trips to google. I liked 22a and 25a. 24d took me a fair while to see. Of course I failed to see the pattern.

    Thanks to Dutch and Osmosis.

  2. I too entirely missed the pattern. 4* time for me – certainly easier than an Elgar, but a very nice challenge. I had never come across that meaning of ‘platter’ before, so 1d took me a long time to figure out, and – though I did know about sledging, I had never come across the answer to 17d before. Indeed, that there might be names for styles of chess pieces had never occurred to me until today!

    Many thanks as always to the setter and to Dutch.

    1. With cryptic crosswords, every day is a school day! The Staunton chess set is the standard style of chess pieces, recommended for use in competition by FIDE, the international chess governing body. I’ve been playing for various chess clubs for decades and simply can’t play unless it’s a Staunton chess set.

      1. You’re so right. And indeed, if I didn’t do crosswords, I’d almost certainly never have learnt what an eft is.

  3. I was very much on wavelength today and the top half went in fairly quickly, although the bottom half took some teasing out. 22a gave me the biggest laugh and proved to be my favourite clue. Any obscurities were nicely clued so no complaints. Overall a most rewarding and entertaining puzzle.

    Thanks to Osmosis and Dutch.

  4. Totally beaten by 17d, which was totally new to us, and 24d. If we had noticed the second letter thing we would have looked again at 24d and corrected our TOUR which we could not parse.
    Lots of good clever clues to enjoy.
    Thanks Osmosis and Dutch.

    1. Recently Osmosis has taken me longer than Elgar, although I love most of his clever clues, such as 18a and 23a, and the amusing ones, like 8d and 25a. Today, like 2Kiwis, I failed to spot the plethora of O’s, and guessed that 24d must be ‘tour’ which I couldn’t parse. However ‘visit’ is barely a simile of ‘do’ (‘I visited Stonehenge is fine’ but ‘I did Stonehenge’ is very sloppy.) Likewise ‘house’ and ‘door’ aren’t really interchangeable either. Anyway thanks Osmosis for a proper Toughie as ever. Definitely a Friday offering.

  5. I’ve admired Osmosis’s style for many years so one might think I would be able to deal with it. Sadly not – his combination of complex wordplay and cleverly hidden definitions is, at times, even more difficult than Elgar to crack. Which is why, I guess, he so often occupies the Friday slot. This was a right struggle. I failed on 17d, having never heard of it. I could deal with sledge OK but failed on the “reported heat”.
    Awards go to 12a for the fiendish definition, not “dry” which I guess many more than me spent ages pondering, but “get dry” – so obvious when you see it; and 1d, my last in, even tho I’m perfectly familiar with both “platter” and the answer -and when you see it, again it’s obvious.
    Thanks Osmosis for several hours’ struggle and thanks Dutch for the blog.

  6. I really enjoyed this excellent puzzle, though it’s taken me three visits to crack it. The contrived complexity of the clues results in some odd surfaces, inevitably, but I ended up smiling on almost every clue when the light(s) dawned. Spotted the pattern halfway through, which helped with a couple in the south. Will have to think more about the parsing of 24d later, possibly when I have access to my BRB. Highlights were 10, 14, 18, 21 & 25a, 16 & 19d.

    Many thanks indeed to Osmosis for one of the most enjoyable Toughies I have yet completed, and to Dutch for the review.

  7. I enjoyed this puzzle very much, but still don’t understand the connection between “door” and “house”. Help !.

  8. Can’t understand 5* rating for difficulty.
    I thought it was one of the easiest Friday toughies for weeks.
    Door for house – as in “2 doors down”.

    1. You’ve changed your alias – last time, when you were Sir, you didn’t think the toughie you commented on was that difficult either

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