DT Cryptic No 25860

Daily Telegraph Cryptic No 25860

Today’s hints and tips by Gazza

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BD Rating – Difficulty *** Enjoyment ***

It seems you all like Gazza’s hints and tips, so I’ve twisted his arm and he’s agreed to do two days a week, starting today, and then back on Thursday.  I’ve added a few new bits and pieces to The Mine – Birthstones, Roman Numerals and Zodiac Signs – with more in the pipeline.  BD

Today’s puzzle is quite interesting and certainly a bit harder than yesterday’s. There’s one clue (24 across) where I’m unable to provide a very satisfactory explanation of the wordplay and I’d be grateful for comments [stop press – mystery now solved – see clue below]

Across Clues

1a  Animal – hound perhaps? (6)
There’s a double meaning here – BADGER meaning both an animal and to hound or pester.

4a  Spread contains Independent column (8 )
Spread is PLASTER which includes (contains) I(ndependent) to form a word meaning a rectangular column.

9a  Skipper’s first joining knots for ships (6)
Skipper’s first is the letter S and this is followed by (joining) LOOPS (knots) to form one-masted sailing boats (a famous one being the title of a song by the Beach Boys).

10a  Wire cable (8 )
Double meaning – TELEGRAM.

11a  Row with the French getting upset (6)
Row is RANK and this (with) LE (the in French) join together to get a verb meaning to upset, annoy or irritate.

12a  Rhythm’s about vintage blues (8 )
The rhythm section of a band are DRUMS. Put this around (about) OLD (vintage) to get a word meaning parts of the ocean where there is no wind to fill the sails so that sailors get bored and listless. Hence the word has acquired the meaning low in spirits or the blues.

14a  Broadcast had endured idiot (10)
An anagram (broadcast) of HAD ENDURED to form a dated word meaning idiot (this is the second time we have had this word in the past few days – perhaps it is coming back into fashion?).

18a  Turning Labour leader in rebellion (10)
One form of rebellion is DEFECTION. Put L (leading character of Labour) inside (in) it to form a word meaning turning aside.

22a  Passes on for strikers (8 )
Another double meaning – passes on means FORWARDS; on the football field such players are referred to these days as strikers.

23a  Horse, say, in Lego components creates wonder (6)
A horse as it is referred to (say) by children is a GG. Include this in an anagram (components) of LEGO to form a word meaning stare at with wide-open eyes in wonder.

24a  Great wrong embracing maiden (8 ) [clue as on Clued Up]
24a  Great Tory leader surrounded by blue (8 ) [clue as in the paper!!]
The answer is IMMORTAL which means great, as in Greek/Roman gods or “les immortels” (the members of the French Academy). The problem lies in the wordplay. “Wrong” would seem to be “immoral”, then we have to find some way of making “maiden” equate to T. Both BigDave and libellule have suggested that maiden is a female model which leads to the Model T Ford, but this is extremely tenuous and I’m sure there’s a better solution. I’d be delighted if someone could provide a better answer… The clue in the paper is much better – T (Tory leader) surrounded by IMMORAL (blue).

25a  Returns from Spain – comes home (6)
There is a hidden word (from) inside “Spain – comes” meaning what you earn (returns).

26a  Risk bitterness following scrap (8 )
Bitterness is ANGER. Put this after (following) END (scrap, i.e. put an end to) to form a verb meaning to put at risk.

27a  Claim sounds like a sure thing (6)
ASSERT means claim and also sounds like “a cert” – something which is bound to win (a sure thing) on the racecourse.

Down Clues

1d  Get on highest roller coaster? (8 )
The highest roller coaster in a fairground may well be the BEST RIDE – join the two words together to make a word meaning get on, i.e. mount.

2d  Having doctor before going under (8 )
Doctor is a very popular word in cryptic clues. Often it is the trigger word for an anagram, but not in this case; at other times it requires an abbreviation, of which there are many to choose from, e.g. DR, MO, MD, PHD. In this case it’s DR. Having is OWNING, which is preceded by the DR (before) to form a word meaning going under.

3d  Frame for climbers? (8 )
Climbers here are not mountaineers but trees or shrubs which are being trained to grow (against a wall, for example). The wooden lattice-work (frame) constructed to do this is an ESPALIER.

5d  Harsh exile or ban possibly (10)
This is an anagram (possibly) of EXILE OR BAN to form a word meaning unyielding (harsh).

6d  They are made to do penance (6)
To do penance is to make AMENDS.

7d  Force to confess, say (6)
The answer is a force which tends to cause something to rotate. So we need a word for confess which, when spoken (say), sounds the same or similar. To talk is to confess secret information, under torture for example, and talk sounds like the answer (especially if you say it the way Jonathan Ross would!).

8d  Failure on about delinquent (6)
Failure is a MISS and this follows (on) RE (about) to form a word meaning negligent or delinquent.

13d  Characters of the Bard are hackneyed (10)
This is an anagram (characters of) THE BARD ARE to form a word meaning hackneyed, trite, overused (or, in the case of a carpet, worn away) – [not an anagram construct that I can remember seeing before, but it works well BD]

15d  Rates and bills (8 )
ACCOUNTS – double meaning.

16d  Determine change in dosage (8 )
This is a neat clue involving an anagram (change) of IN DOSAGE to generate a verb meaning what the doctor does (determine) once he or she has ascertained the patient’s symptoms.

17d  The inner turmoil is deep-rooted (8 )
We have another anagram (turmoil) of THE INNER to form a word meaning deep-rooted, innate, natural.

19d  Post’s cancelled preceding frost (6)
When a football game is cancelled it’s OFF and this comes before (preceding) ICE (frost) to form a word meaning post or position.

20d  Proper journalist’s loaded (6)
PRIM (proper) and ED(itor) (journalist) joined together to form a word meaning loaded (as a firearm or bomb would be).

21d  Empty pub with topless bird (6)
The answer means empty and is made up of BAR (pub) followed by (with) the name of a small bird (or famous architect) with its initial W omitted (topless).

Please let us know what you think, via the comments.  We only learn from the feedback what you think, and whether there are any improvements we can make.


  1. Jean Trim
    Posted February 24, 2009 at 11:33 am | Permalink

    In the printed version 24 across has a different clue – Great Tory leader surrounded by blue (8). Same answer though but easier wordplay in my opinion.

  2. gazza
    Posted February 24, 2009 at 11:36 am | Permalink

    The mystery as to the wordplay has now been solved – the clue in the paper is totally different from the one online!! (talk about organising an inebriated celebration in a brewery!!).

  3. Posted February 24, 2009 at 12:02 pm | Permalink


    Thanks for that, as you can see, Gazza has now had time to go out and pick up today’s paper!

    We use the CluedUp site as the puzzles are available at midnight, giving us time to solve them and get the review out in time to be useful. This is the second time in a week that we have been ScrewedUp!!

  4. Greenhorn
    Posted February 24, 2009 at 6:04 pm | Permalink

    I used to do the Telegraph a lot and usually got about 3/4 of it out. Today I just wasn’t on the setters wavelength.
    1a Had to be ???dog
    4a had to be something like margarine or butter with an I in it.
    9a Knots for ships was something to do with speed
    12a I had no idea that rhythm was drums
    11a Row was an argument not -I’m not too taken with rank
    18a I couldn’t think of defection for rebellion
    22a Passes on meant drops dead
    23a I have never come across components to mean anagram-maybe I should have done and i have now but I hadn’t.
    24a Give me a month of Sundays and i wouldn’t have got this!
    1d Your best ride at a fairgorund may be a rollercoaster but it wouldn’t be mine.
    2d Too clever for me
    3 I thought of trellis but had never heard of espalier
    15d I thought about rates but couldn’t see (and still don’t ) how accounts =rates
    Not my day

  5. gazza
    Posted February 24, 2009 at 8:01 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for your comments, Greenhorn. It’s useful to know which clues caused most problems.
    15d. an example of account being a synonym for rate would be “The visit was accounted (rated) a great success”.

  6. wil6364
    Posted February 24, 2009 at 8:13 pm | Permalink

    Have recently discovered this Blog – thank you, thank you, thank you.

    It is so helpful having the explanations of the clues. I understand a lot more of the clues now and I am getting more successful at solving them without assistance, lol.

    I totally agree with the “wavelength” comment above – some days I just don’t get it at all and other days the answers just seem to leap off of the page!

  7. gazza
    Posted February 24, 2009 at 8:58 pm | Permalink


    Thanks so much for your kind comments – it makes it all worthwhile. Once you’ve got to the stage of completing the Cryptic, you should start to have a go at the Toughie – it’s not as daunting as it may appear at first and you can usually find one or two simpler clues to get you started on the grid. For instance, in today’s puzzle there’s a simple clue at 21a “Ready for Gym after Scripture (4)” – I’m sure you can get it, but if not have a look at BigDave’s blog for a hint!

  8. Greenhorn
    Posted February 24, 2009 at 9:28 pm | Permalink

    Got it! Here’s my thought process. We either want something that means ready or we want something that means scripture. Scripture is re (religious education) or ri (religious instruction). Gym is pe so answer is ripe

  9. gazza
    Posted February 24, 2009 at 9:52 pm | Permalink

    Excellent analysis, Greenhorn. Now here’s a suggestion for a method of getting into the Toughie for first timers:
    1) Do as many clues as you can without help (as you’ve done with “ripe”).
    2) When you’ve got as far as you can, use BigDave’s blog and enter all the missing ACROSS answers making sure you understand all the wordplay as you go. Do NOT look at the DOWN hints at this stage.
    3) Now try the remaining down clues on your own, making use of the letters you’ll already have filled in from the Across answers.