DT Cryptic No 25864 – Review

Daily Telegraph Cryptic No 25864 – Review

A full analysis by Peter Biddlecombe

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BD Rating – Difficulty ** Enjoyment ***

I slipped up at 17D, but the rest was done in about an average time for a Times puzzle. Probably slower than it should have been, but I’m getting used to this setter’s style and tend to play safe with the answers that feel weak, like 21 and 13, and wait for plenty of checking letters. In the explanations, letters in round brackets are things contained in other words (caps), or bits omitted from other words (lower case).

Across
1 Dared to remove second half of outlet (4)
VENT, from first half of dared=VENT(ured) – relieved to see this, as these “half of something” clues can be hard to crack
9 Empty protest (6,6)
HUNGER STRIKE – empty in one sense, and possibly in another
10 Lady, one in the grips of another (4)
EV(I)E – an unusual answer lady, but an easy wordplay one.
11 Are losing a host for party (10)
(a)RE,PUBLICAN=host
15 Works of David in book form (7)
PSALTER – cryptic def., though not cryptic at all for those who sing in church choirs or recall that the Psalms are traditionally the work of the biblical king, David. A psalter is a book containing the Book of Psalms and possibly musical settings for them or other devotional material. Some well-known hymn tunes like the Old 100th originally appeared in psalters.
16 Switch-gear (5)
SHIFT – 2 defs, being to switch, and ‘gear’ as a shift is a garment.
18 See godson develop sound practical judgement (4,5)
GOOD SENSE = anag. of (see godson)
19 Soldier trapped old boy in arid area (4)
G.(O.B.)I. – name of a Mongolian desert
20 Way through on foot (4)
ARCH – 2 defs, a way through and part of your foot
21 Extremely upset it had been dashed to pieces (9)
SHATTERED – 2 defs again – extremely upset” and “dashed to pieces”. “it had been” is a poor part of the clue, playing no role in the cryptic reading.
23 Slick in southeast caused flood (5)
S.(PAT)E. You have to remember that pat (adj.) = slick = glib, to avoid thinking that slick = (cow)pat is hopelessly vague.
24 He left the motive for crime (7)
T(he),REASON – as we’ve already had “are losing a” at 11A, it seems a bit weak to have essentially the same trick here.
26 One taking two different Scotsmen to deep part of Indian Ocean (7,3)
A=one,RAB+IAN=”two different Scotsmen”,SEA=deep – a nicely-worked clue. Whether the Arabian Sea is deep turns out not to matter.
29 Attempt to include a carrier (4)
TR(A)Y
30 Needed as a prior condition before being indispensable (12)
PRE=before,REQUISITE=indispensable – this came very easily and the practically identical meaning of requisite and pre-requisite would have had many setters looking for a more interesting treatment.
31 During spree kept producing smell (4)
REEK=smell – hidden word
Down
2 One listens secretly hearing lady’s medicinal device (12)
EAVES=”Eve’s” =lady’s,DROPPER=medicinal device. For anyone who’d done the previous day’s Toughie, with STILLICIDE=eavesdrop=fall from eaves, this was surely a gift-wrapped answer on a plate – barely any thought required. Not the setter’s fault, but the editor should be noticing this kind of stuff and shuffling one of the puzzles to get them further apart.
3 The scientist who’s a writer on divinity (10)
THE,OLOGIST=scientist – shades of Maureen Lipman as Beatty in the phone ads.
4 Catch in a drum? (5)
SNARE – 2 defs – catch and snare drum – which can be called just “snare”
5 Continue to look up (4)
KEEP = peek rev. = “look up”
6 Also sat in bewilderment, puzzled (2,1,4)
AT A LOSS = anag. of (Also sat) – another gift-wrapped answer with clear anagram potential and a huge nudge from “(2,1,4)”
7 Element included by third unknown first (4)
Z=”third unknown”,INC.=included – by cryptic xwd tradition, the only unknowns in algebra are X, Y and Z.
8 Frenchman’s short trousers (4)
JEAN(s)
12 Learning rugby version outside (9)
E(R.U.)DITION
13 Show girl (9)
USHERETTE – weak CD – she shows to to your seats for a show, but “show girl” could suggest lots of other ladies, it seems
14 Disease destroyed loving (12)
AFFECTION=disease,ATE=destroyed
17 Service chief? (4,6)
HEAD WAITER – cryptic def. I had HEAD MASTER, though also a thumping great ? with it.
22 He has trapped bloodsuckers in the spirals (7)
HE(LICE)’S – plural of helix = spiral
25 Means of communication with one in road accident (5)
RADIO – I=one in anag. of road – easy, but a clue that works well
26 First Greek loses second article in river (4)
ALPH(a) – the river in Coleridge’s Kubla Khan
In Xanadu did Kubla Khan
A stately pleasure-dome decree:
Where Alph, the sacred river, ran
Through caverns measureless to man
Down to a sunless sea.
“First Greek” for “first letter of the Gk alphabet” is a pretty common cryptic clue feature, but surely not a good one, except for keeping “letter” and other giveaways out of the clue.
27 A page from the top (4)
A,P=page,EX=from (Latin)
28 Directions I am taking to progress through water (4)
S,W=directions,I’M – watch out for “(movement verb) through water” as about the best thing a setter can do with “swim”, which seems a bit of a sod to define.

As always, feel free to add your own comments to let Peter and myself know what you thought of this puzzle.  BD


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