DT Cryptic No 25852 – Review

Daily Telegraph Cryptic No 25852 – Review

A full analysis by Peter Biddlecombe

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BD Rating – Difficulty ** Enjoyment **

This analysis is the first contribution from Peter Biddlecombe.  Peter was Times crossword champion in 2000 and 2007 and is a pioneer in crossword blogging in the UK (see Times for the Times).  I gave this two stars for both difficulty and enjoyment, Peter has been rather more generous and upped it to three! BD.

My time for this was about 60% longer than an average Times puzzle, but I made life hard for myself with two dud answers which had to be corrected – ROUGH OUT at 6D, though the weakness of “some golf = rough” should have made me rub this out, and INCITE at 22D. Without these, an ‘average Times’ time should have been possible.

Difficulty and enjoyment both moderate for this one (does that mean three stars?).

Thanks to Dave for the billing as a crossword blogging pioneer last week. Although the original version of Times for the Times was (as far as I know) the first regular blog for a UK daily cryptic, the idea was pretty shamelessly ripped off from similar blogs about the New York Times puzzle. Amy Reynaldo’s Diary of a Crossword Fiend was the original inspiration, though Rex Parker does the NYT Crossword Puzzle is now my favourite blog on the NYT puzzle.

1 Lent hat to cricketer (4,6)
FAST=Lent,BOWLER=hat – the whole is a cricketer. Using “to” to link def and wordplay isn’t a favourite technique of mine, but it’s a minor point. The fact that “Lent”, rather then “Lent, say” is used to mean “fast” suggests that at least this Telegraph setter is following the recent trend at the Times for not indicating “definition by example”. For strict Ximeneans, fast=>LENT is fine, but to get from Lent to FAST requires the addition of “say” or similar. I’m with the Ximeneans for barred-grid puzzles, but for daily paper puzzles, I’m with the rebels, mainly because getting from (e.g.) Alsatian to DOG seems easier than the other way round. (Capitals indicate the letters in the answer, which is the convention I use throughout, except for a few things like “e.g.” which I can’t bear to capitalise.)
6 Free to include new skin (4)
RI(N)D – rid=free, N=new
8 Suffering Dean’s ill in Bedfordshire (8).
LINSLADE = anag. of (dean’s ill). Linslade was a new name for me, though it turns out to be within 20 miles of where I’m sitting.
9 Tightly hold eggs (6)
CLUTCH – 2 defs
10 Turned out during case for conference (8).
TUTORIAL – anag. of “out” in TRIAL = case
11 Being attractively plump, give endless hug at end of day (6)
CUDDL(e),(da)Y – maybe a slightly weak clue as cuddle and cuddly are so closely related
12 One taking reversible material found in the sea (4)
AGAR – A=one,GAR=’reversible’ rag=material. AGAR is derived from seaweed, but I’m not sure it’s really “found in the sea”.
14 Lady with a kebab starting in Malaysia (7)
SARA=lady,W=with,A=a,K=”kebab starting”. Sarawak is one of the two Malaysian states on Borneo – if Brunei’s shape on the map reminds you of a tooth, Sarawak is its gum.
18 Editor provided one with limited edition that strengthened spiritually (7)
ED=Editor,IF=provided,I=one,ED=limited edition. Easy for old hands as ‘Editor’ and ‘limited edition’ both suggest ED so strongly.
20 Grizzly speculator? (4)
BEAR – 2 defs – a bear as a speculator being the opposite of a bull.
23 Must possess said pair (4,2)
HAVE TO – 2 defs – “must” is the def. (though treat it carefully as it can also mean “has to”, being one of those verbs that doesn’t change for the third person singular). Then possess = HAVE, and “said pair” is TO = “two”.
24 One who nominates a southern Italian gentleman (8).
A=a,S=southern,SIGNOR=Italian gentleman
25 The open ocean, halfway across it (3-3)
MID-SEA – 2 defs again. Can’t find this word in Chambers, Collins or Concise Oxford, so not convinced that it’s really pukka. Web-searches trace it to “Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary, published 1913 by C. & G. Merriam Co.”, and it’s also in the OED, but neither are books I’d expect DT solvers to have to look at. Fussy perhaps, as the answer wasn’t hard to see, but I prefer well-supported answers. “Air-sea” as a type of rescue would have been an alternative answer verifiable in any of the three dictionaries. [Mid-sea is in Chambers, 11th edition – BD]
26 One suffering from lack of balance (8).
BANKRUPT – cryptic def. – balance = bank balance
27 Not in favour of a set of books I concluded (4)
A=a,N.T.=New Testament=a set of books,I=I
28 Old sauce or skill (10)
EXPERTNESS – def (skill) and whimsical def (old sauce = ex-pertness)
1 Ball matador must avoid! (4,4)
FULL TOSS – 2 defs – a ball that reaches the wicket before hitting the ground in cricket, and more whimsically, something for a matador to avoid.
2 One has no reason to want it (6)
SANITY – cryptic def – if you want=lack sanity, you’ve lost your reason
3 Awful bloomer, Frenchman leaving jacket (6)
BOLERO – anag. of bloomer, less M=Monsieur=Frenchman
4 Felt hat unlikely to drop off? (9)
WIDEAWAKE – a type of felt hat, and a more obvious def.
5 Fairly stiff programme of course (8).
RACE CARD – a list of races or “programme of (race) course”, stiffer than a “race paper” if there were such a thing.
6 Finish some golf out of form (5,3)
ROUND = some golf, OFF=out of form
7 Ornamental fabric, narrow part first, for string of beads (8).
NECK=narrow part,LACE=ornamental fabric
13 Flying room? … (9)
AERO-SPACE – cryptic def.
15 … one taking six more into a storm flying (8).
A=one,VI=six (more),ATION = (‘into a’ storm)
16 Ask Piers about evening of entertainments (5-3)
APRES-SKI – anagram, which should be easy to spot as your solving brain asks “Why Piers instead of Frank or Sid?”
17 Cancel boat gear ordered (8).
ABROGATE – anag. of ‘boat gear’ – slightly obscure answer but the anag. fodder should be fairly obvious, and you get 5 checking letters in this answer.
19 Duster, it removed debris (8).
DETRITUS – third anag. in a row. For me, ‘removed’ isn’t as convincing an anagram indicator as something like “replaced” or just “moved”, but maybe that’s just because I’m not used to it.
21 Just the thing needed for train journey (6)
TICKET – as in “just the ticket”
22 Prompt delivery (6)
INDUCE – a barely cryptic definition, once you see what kind of delivery we’re talking about, and that ‘prompt’ needs to be a verb.

As always, feel free to add your own comments.



  1. Mark
    Posted February 19, 2009 at 1:44 pm | Permalink

    Many thanks for full solution! A number of these clues had got me stumped and frustrated. I agree some of the clues are a bit forced!

  2. Posted February 19, 2009 at 2:11 pm | Permalink

    For the record, I deleted a comment which was just a copy of part of this posting’s content. (Left by one of those odd people whose “blog” consists of nothing but quotations from other blogs.)

  3. Posted February 19, 2009 at 2:25 pm | Permalink

    I wondered what it was. It actually went in to Spam, and I took it out – I won’t do that again!!

  4. Nigel
    Posted February 19, 2009 at 4:00 pm | Permalink

    Re 8a, Just for interest, Linslade was the site of the Great Train Robbery in 1963.
    The blogs/answers and all the useful info is very enjoyable.
    Thank you.

  5. Posted February 19, 2009 at 9:10 pm | Permalink

    I award myself a slap on the wrist for relying on an old Chambers (1993) that happened to be within reach, rather than the current edition, online or printed. And a mini-slap for “Monsier”.

  6. Posted February 19, 2009 at 10:40 pm | Permalink

    I was the sub-editor, and I missed the typo on 3 down (now corrected)!

  7. Jane
    Posted February 20, 2009 at 10:22 am | Permalink

    Re. 8a Linslade. I think the Great Train Robbery of 1963 actually occurred a little south of Linslade near the village of Cheddington.