Toughie 3180 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 3180

Toughie No 3180 by Osmosis

Hints and tips by Dutch

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

I struggled with this today, could just be me. It seemed an unfortunate combination of vague definitions and more than average general knowledge

Please leave a comment telling us what you thought.


1a    False barricades also surround huge estate (11)
SANDRINGHAM: A 4-letter word meaning false or fake goes around (barricades) a word meaning also and a word meaning to surround

7a    Fine that’s levied in US state delivering vehicle (3,4)
AIR TAXI: Two characters meaning fine or first-rate, then something that’s levied goes inside the abbreviation for a small US state.

8a    Foreign brass getting in Indian snack, not hot dog (7)
BASENJI: A 100th of a yen goes inside (getting in) an Indian starter but without the abbreviation for hot to give you a non-barking dog

10a    Flight chiefs remain stern in control tower (5)
BABEL: The abbreviation for an airline, a 2-letter verb meaning remain or live, and the last letter (stern) in control

11a    Activist condemned votes to adopt electric vehicle that’s inadequate (5,4)
STEVE BIKO: This South African anti-apartheid activist is an anagram (condemned) of VOTES containing a (1-4) electric vehicle without the last letter (that’s inadequate)

12a    Sally on counter occasionally praised nursing staff (7)
RIPOSTE: The even letters (occasionally) of ‘praised’ contains (nursing) another word for staff or rod

14a    Writer with great deal drinking like crazy (7)
TOLKIEN: A 3-letter word for a large amount contains (drinking) an anagram (crazy) of LIKE

15a    Maybe party operative‘s worried about boring councillor (7)
CATERER: A 3-letter word meaning worried plus a small word meaning ‘about’ or ‘concerning’ go inside (boring) the abbreviation for councillor

18    Dancer‘s career regressed before scan number five (7)
NUREYEV: A reversal (regressed) of a word meaning to career or go fast, to scan or look at, and the Roman numeral for five

20a    Islands halfway through fiesta embraced by First Lady once (9)
MELANESIA: The central letters (halfway through) in ‘fiesta’ go inside (embraced by) Trump’s wife

21a    Uncultivated lifer allowed pens (5)
FERAL: Hidden ( … pens)

22a    Ruin principles of green transport after switch-over (7)
SUBVERT: A 4-letter word meaning green and some underwater transport, but in reverse order (after switch-over)

23a    French rice used in half of train’s food (7)
CHORIZO: The French word for rice goes inside half of a child’s word for train

24a    State interest financier finally attained so bullishly (6,5)
RAISON D’ETAT: The last letter (finally) of financier plus an anagram (bullishly) of ATTAINED SO


1d    Local church’s going over to perform routine in theatre (5,2)
SCRUB UP: The reversal (going over) of a local and the abbreviation for United Reformed Church’s (including ‘S)

2d    Limerick chap perhaps elevated in a couple of lines (5)
NIALL: This Irish name comes from a reversal (elevated) of IN from the clue plus A from the clue and twice the abbreviation for line

3d    Note hankie wiping first and second platter? (7)
REISSUE: A musical note then a paper hankie without (wiping) the first letter

4d    Suit in case grander than all (7)
NOBLEST: A 3-letter ‘suit’ or toff and a 4-letter word that means ‘in case’

5d    Tourist, entertainer and clerk sharing Tango? (9)
HOSTELLER: A 4-letter entertainer and an accounting clerk share the letter that has the radio code Tango

6d    Blood one found underneath staff leisurewear (7)
MANKINI: A 3-letter word for blood or family plus the Roman numeral for one follows (underneath) a word meaning to staff or crew

7d    Novelist setting chapter in province raised problem (6,5)
ALBERT CAMUS: This French existentialist comes from putting the 1-letter abbreviation for chapter inside a Canadian province and adding the reversal (raised) of an arithmetic problem

9d    Award quartet gold book, mostly vulgar (4,7)
IVOR NOVELLO: This songwriter and screen composer award has the Roman numeral for 4, the heraldic colour gold, a 5-letter fiction book, and a 3-letter word meaning vulgar or base, but without the final ‘w’ (mostly)

13d    Park still retains good centrepiece for artist (9)
SERENGETI: This African wildlife park comes from a 6-letter word meaning still or calm that contains (retains) the abbreviation for good, then the central letters (centrepiece) of artist

16d    Railing sound on musical section (4,3)
TOLL BAR: A sound made by a bell, and a piece of musical score

17d    Flamboyant old master hoisted dish (7)
RISOTTO: A reversal (hoisted) of a 3-letter abbreviation that means flamboyant or too much, the abbreviation for old, and a title for a school master

18d    Delicate character in taverna, say, managed dance (7)
NUANCED: A Greek character (in taverna, say) and an anagram (managed) of DANCE

19d    Variable risk to injured house champion (7)
YORKIST: An algebraic variable and an anagram (injured) of TO RISK

21d    Mock female yob (5)
FLOUT: The abbreviation for female and a yob

The leisurewear raised the biggest smile for me today – which were your favourite clues?

10 comments on “Toughie 3180
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  1. Loved this, a lot of clues made me smile when the penny dropped. A couple of trips to google required, but a fully parsed completed grid will do for me on a Friday. 10a, 15a and 17d are on my podium.

    Thanks to Dutch and Osmosis.

  2. A bit of a struggle, certainly, but I finally crossed the finishing line and managed to parse the previously unparsed bung-ins, so feeling pretty smug. I thought there was some nice humour on display, along with a fair bit of GK, with 23a, 13 and 17d making it on to the podium.

    My thanks to Osmosis and Dutch.

  3. Completed this this morning with a bit of reverse parsing in places and some head scratching and pen and paper.

    Strangely (because I usually enjoy Osmosis a lot) this didn’t really gel for me. Happy with the blend of some easy some difficult but it’s the weird ones that put me off a bit – like URC’s, Ate (I can see “what’s eating you up” but not quite “Did you get all ate up about that”) Sen without more of an indicator. But they were all gettable with some checkers.

    Yet when I looked back at it tonight, it didn’t feel so bad! Thanks Osmosis and Dutch.

    1. ‘Ate’ for ‘worried’ and the like seems to have been used quite a lot this last year or two, both in the DT and Times – which familiarity helps in solving the puzzles even if it’s not an expression one ever really hears these days, as in “it worried him” / “it ate him up”.

  4. Enjoyed a lot of this, which for an Osmosis puzzle, surprised me somewhat – maybe because for an Osmosis puzzle I found it rather more approachable than usual. Having said that I still needed to come here afterwards for a few parsings, and still don’t understand what 3d has to do with ‘second platter’ (whatever that is – surely not the BRB definition of a gramophone record, noted as being old, informal, and esp US? That really would be obscure!), let alone what purpose other than surface read is served in that clue by ‘and’. I felt that 24a should have been enumerated (6,1’4), and that 16d’s railing synonym was rather loose.

    Many thanks indeed to Dutch and to Osmosis

      1. I guess so. Not the best clue in the grid IMO. Thanks, Wahoo – Mrs B is on my shelf but to my cost rarely used, as yesterday’s Toughie evidently proved!

  5. Certainly quite a challenge for us but with a little help from Google for the last few we got it all sorted.
    Thanks Osmosis and Dutch.

  6. Hi I hope it’s all right to post here Dutch. Beet here (old timers may remember me from Rookie Corner). I’ve written an elaborate treasure hunt puzzle that runs over Christmas if anyone is interested in that sort of thing. The teaser poster is available now on and the main hunt will be released shortly. People usually tackle it as a team (it would be great to have a Big Dave’s team). There is real life treasure (well a box with a card in it saying “you found the treasure”) hidden somewhere out there. And even if you don’t fancy the whole shebang… there is a Beet crossword (a rare thing these days) as part of it that can stand alone. I’ll post again when the main hunt is released.

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