DT Cryptic No 25876 – Review

Daily Telegraph Cryptic No 25876 – Review

A full analysis by Peter Biddlecombe

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BD Rating – Difficulty *** Enjoyment **


For me, this was rather a disappointing puzzle. I’m not mad keen on the grid, with some 7-letter answers with only 3 letters checked, though some others have 5 checked letters. And like some other DT grids, it’s all short words – the longest entry is 9 letters. It does have a good side – the shortest answer is 6 letters so we get a day off from ERATO and tricky little 4-letter words.

Mrs B, whose cryptic solving is only occasional, looked at the completed puzzle while I was making breakfast, and said something like “it’s not much of a thing, is it?”. When asked what exactly was wrong, she identified the amount of meaning in the surface readings and a general shortage of wordplay.

Being specific, there are four double definitions here, and eight CDs or what I think of as “allusions” – gentle puns like 16D. In the eight I’m including ones like 23 and 15 which look like double def’s but both def’s are really the same. On the surface reading side, 9, 8 and 13 don’t mean much as pieces of text.

I’ve left in the minor website production cock-up by which apostrophes were converted into í.

Across
1 Break off and attend to faulty wiring (4,5)
STOP SHORT – 2 def’s, one referring to ‘short’ = a short circuit. Perfectly OK start.
9 Coming from galleon with attachment to bill of exchange (7)
ALLONGE – a word in Chambers (but not the Concise Oxford) for a bit of paper “attached to a bill of exchange for further endorsement”. Anagram of ‘galleon’. Well the intersecting answers are mostly fairly easy so you’ll get there in the end, but I don’t think this sort of obscurity belongs in a daily paper puzzle. The clue also has one of my pet hates – “with” as a def/wordplay link.
10 Second present (7)
INSTANT – 2 def’s, one archaic – “of the present” – or referring to the use in old business language – “your esteemed favour of the 24th instant”
11 Weakly emotional lady has nothing coming back (7)
MAUDLIN = Maud + nil reversed – Maud being the first of several ladies we meet in this puzzle
12 Expedient to be recommended (9)
ADVISABLE – 2 defs. I initially had ‘admirable’ but thought it was just a bit too weak. Some say that you can’t use double def clues like this, which are different expresssions of the same definition – you have to use different def’s like (grotty instant example) “Sketch tie (4)” = DRAW. I don’t go that far, but the rule probably makes plausible “red herring” answers much less likely.
14 Bound to be a prisoner (2,6)
IN CHAINS – 2 defs, or 2 versions of one def? The surface meaning at least has something (bound = likely) to make you think of something else.
15 Honour during said dark period (6)
KNIGHT (vb) = “honour”. But “during” is as bad as “with” for me – in the cryptic reading, it’s just an extra word.
17 Eeyore’s unfortunate blemish (7)
EYESORE – anag. Mrs B’s favourite clue because she likes Eeyore. Very easy anag. to solve, but the clue reds well, Eeyore being unfortunate generally.
20 Excite a lady going round the bend (6)
AROUSE – A,U (type of bend) in Rose – our next lady.
23 Stand up joker ( 8 )
COMEDIAN – 2 defs. As presented, there doesn’t seem to be anything to divert you from the real meaning except a missing hyphen in “stand-up”. But old hands take no notice of surplus or missing hyphens. Putting something like “Stand up, joker!” might have made for some more disguise.
25 Art, figuratively speaking (9)
SCULPTURE – def plus gentle pun on “figure” – first of a run of gentle puns
26 After oral examination, one may pull out (7)
DENTIST – the next gentle pun – though we do get two – the oral exam and the pull
27 Notable burden (7)
REFRAIN – still going with the puns, and exploiting the fact that “burden” is an old name for the refrain of a song, and hence ‘notable’.
28 Look out heard near Minehead (7)
WATCHET = “watch it!” – town 9 miles from Minehead. Out of the gentle puns to a more formal version.
29 Alternative to hard currency? (4,5)
EASY MONEY – back to the gentle puns, but I like this one better than the others. (I’ve always been a sucker for idle musings about (e.g) why shoulders can be cold or hard, but not warm or soft.)
Down
2 Made sure of a good reception (5,2)
TUNED IN – cryptic definition – but a weakish one as there’s not much to make you think of the social “reception” the setter wants you to think of.
3 President’s one association with Ruth (7)
P=president,I=one,TYING=association. “ruth” is an old word for pity, so “with Ruth” is the def. P=president is not in Concise Oxford or Chambers, but is in Collins. I don’t understand yet what rules apply to abbreviations in the Telegraph, but “anything from COED, Collins or Chambers” seems like too many choices to me.
4 Then part yourself from female do (3-5)
HEN PARTY – hidden in “then part yourself”. But this is just plain wrong. Cryptically, it’s “Female do from then part yourself”. When setters expect solvers reading “A from B” or “A wearing B” to read it as the opposite, the urge to get out a big red pen gets quite strong.
5 Revenue collectorsí time with US woodcutters (6)
T,AXMEN – if axe becomes ax across the pond, axeman must become axman.
6 Real thugs involved in the killing (9)
SLAUGHTER – anagram
7 In French class, music thatís uncoded (2,5)
EN=”In French”,CL.=class,AIR=music. Same thing as “plain text” in cryptography.
8 State fewer than a dozen with ease, say, went round loch (9)
TEN(NESS)EE – TEN=”fewer than a dozen”,EE = “ease say” = E’s,loch=NESS. “Ease say” is pretty hackneyed – I’m sure others underlined it and jotted EE next to it. I should probably say the same about loch=NESS but didn’t notice it when solving. Very easy once you’re past the possibility that state is GA, PA, NY or umpeen other abbrev’s.
13 Move mouth in time with insolence and unison (3-4)
LIP=insolence,SYNC=synchronization=unison. LIP SYNC is best defined by this Heineken commercial
15 Fell very low (9)
KNOCKDOWN – 2 defs, one for “knock down”. My instinct would be to hyphenate knock-down, but as so often, it depends which dictionary you look in. As for president=P, this version agrees with my ageing Collins. Maybe the conclusion is that Collins is where the Saturday setter looks first. If so, hope he doesn’t use anything too modern as mine is 17 years old.
16 Motoristís halo? (9)
HEADLIGHT – we’re back in gentle pun territory
18 Lily with rare trouble during light-hearted satire ( 8 )
RAILLERY – anag. of (Lily, rare) – answer is a bit obscure, but in Concise Oxford. If this is your first sighting of it in a crossword, I promise it won’t be your last. “during” again – grrrr.
19 Facility can be arranged anytime (7)
AMENITY – anagram. First of a run of better clues at the end.
21 Remarkably not a port but a lake (7)
ONTARIO – anag. of “not a”, then Rio=port. Good surface reading.
22 One of the fish that had been packed? (7)
SARDINE – gentle pun, using the “cram a large number of things into” meaning of pack.
24 Part of vast utensil it is shrewd to have (6)
ASTUTE – hidden word. The “it is {def} to have” bit at the end is a bit flowery but I think makes sense in the cryptic reading.

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