DT Cryptic No 25894 – Review

Daily Telegraph Cryptic No 25894 – CD Collection

A full analysis by Peter Biddlecombe

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BD Rating – Difficulty ** Enjoyment ***

This puzzle was memorable for the number of cryptic definitions. I like some of them and had reservations about others. The grid is good this week – six different word-lengths, no isolated corners, and 50%+ checking throughout. Other grid designers might have put the 11-letter words on the same row as a 3-letter word, but as Telegraph puzzles seem to have more three-letter words than some others, a puzzle with none of them is fine!

This was probably the easiest of the Saturday puzzles I’ve covered so far – there was no “nasty corner” to delay a solution when everything else was finished.

Across
1 Dramatic part of room where food is cooked? (7-4)
KITCHEN-SINK – a type of drama reflecting the gritty reality of working-class life. Our first CD and it seems a weak one – the surface meaning doesn’t take you far from the real meaning, and “room where food is cooked” has to be kitchen, doesn’t it?
7 One in woollen who is more nervous (7)
JUMP(I)ER – not very difficult but there’s a mental image of a nervous person in a woolly which is a bit different to the real meaning.
8 I’d, with Clare, reproduced condemnation (7)
DECRIAL – anag. Sound enough clue, but with any name like “Clare”, the solver is helped – why not Doris or Ethel? Usually because of anag. fodder requirements.
10 Very small rise in the main (4,4)
NEAP TIDE – a tide with small range, when the sun and moon are opposite. “the main” for “the sea” is too old and corny to fool old hands for long, but we do get a potentially deceptive surface.
11 Highest head-covering (3-3)
TOP HAT – a CD (or maybe a charade) that I thought was weak. Wordplay based on “Op.” in “That”, for example, could have avoided the need for “hat” in both wordplay and the answer.
13 Two pages on a tree (4)
LEAF – 2 defs, a ‘leaf’ in a book being two pp. But weak surface meaning – why should there be two pages on a tree?
14 No dress rehearsal for this show? (10)
STRIPTEASE – another “corny but good” cryptic def. – Good because “dress rehearsal” means something.
16 One who was cornered in rhyme (4,6)
JACK HORNER – because he “sat in the corner”. Another CD which I thought was weak, thought cornered meaning “trapped” is a bit of a potential decoy. Maybe something like “cornered with duff fruit” could have been used, rather than use “rhyme” which seems a give-away.
18 Store no tat in fancy 11 acrosses (4)
Here we leap from mild cryptic defs to a compound anagram. 11As are TOPHATS – remove tat from them and you have an anagram of SHOP.
21 She is a real beauty, we hear … (6)
ISABEL = “is a belle”. A common question from beginners is what “…” means when it links a pair of clues like this and 22. The commonest answer is: Nothing, except that the surface meaning of the clues crosses the gap. That’s the case here. Occasionally, the cryptic reading of one clue will continue across the gap too.
22 … reigning beauty in fancy lei, she has been maligned ( 8 )
LIBELLEE = someone maligned. BELLE=reigning beauty as in “belle of the ball” or similar, in anag. of LEI. For the surface to work, you need to know that a lei is a Hawaiian flower garland of the kind you receive as arrivals at Honolulu airport.
24 Entering the pit he translated phrase (7)
EPITHET – hidden word. Weak surface again – why do your translations on the way into a pit?
25 Seems in order for retributive justice (7)
NEMESIS – anag. Much better surface, though the cryptic reading needs “XXX order” to mean “new order of XXX”.
26 Myra removed instrument from boat (4,7)
MARY CELESTE – the famous boat found in good order with the crew nowhere in sight, back in 1872. Not bad surface but has the same arbitrary name issue as 8. The musical instrument should arguably be ‘celesta’, but the dictionaries allow “celeste”.
Down
1 Said tent site is in the French fashion in East Africa (7)
KAMPALA = “Camp”,A LA = “in the French fashion” (or really “in the fashion, in French”, though the usage here is arguably no worse than the v. common “the French” for “the, in French” or ‘French “the”‘.) The setter’s implicit assumption that we don’t know more than half a dozen or so East African placenames is probably right – otherwise “in East Africa” would be hopelessly vague.
2 Score 50% more (6)
THIRTY – 150% of a “score” = 20.
3 Her dietary recipe was able to be passed down (10)
HEREDITARY – anag. Logically sound, but “able to be XXX” seems very easy for “(synonym of XXX)-able”.
4 Gearless model? (4)
NUDE – CD hoping to con you into thinking of some kind of car.
5 Nothing consumed on island first that had not been developed ( 8 )
INCHOATE = undeveloped. INCH=island,0=nothing,ATE=consumed. Complex but logically sound and the surface meaning could have you thinking of somewhere too rough to provide much grub
6 Hindu deity I shrank from (7)
KRISHNA – anag. – easy enough, but not keen on simply “XXX from” to indicate an anag. of XXX
7 Alcoholic liquor coming from the forest? (6,5)
JUNGLE JUICE – roughly prepared strong booze, but a fairly weak CD.
9 Character with journalists producing printed reading matter (11)
LETTER=character,PRESS=journalists. OK, but both halves of the wordplay are close in subject matter if not meaning, so a pretty easy clue. There are other meanings for both LETTER and PRESS that might have led to a more cryptic clue.
12 Pips giving precise moment (4-6)
TIME SIGNAL – OK, but I couldn’t see that “pips” could mean anything else, so another weak CD.
15 Shark found on the farm! ( 8 )
THRESHER – 2 defs, and the surface just might have you thinking of a greedy farmer.
17 Mental case (7)
CRANIUM – seems like another corny but good CD.
19 Dedicated spot around Rome (4,3)
HOLY SEE – “the the episcopal jurisdiction of the Bishop of Rome, commonly known as the Pope” says Wikipedia. This is certainly “around Rome” in some way, though whether it’s exactly the same as a “diocese of Rome” and hence a geographical area, I don’t have time to check. Weakish clue as “Holy” has no change in meaning between surface and cryptic readings, though See=Spot does.
20 Herald caught by another messenger (6)
HERMES – hidden word, and nicely done clue.
23 Empty reflex action of the ear (4)
O,TIC = reflex action. “of the ear” is a pretty clear def., and good thing too I’d say. O=empty? Only by association – if something’s empty there’s nothing in it, but that does not mean “empty” and “nothing” are synonyms. A tic is a spasmodic twitching of muscles, and a reflex action is a response to a stimulus. As far as I can tell these are different things – I couldn’t see anything in the Wikipedia entries that was both a tic and a reflex action. My conclusion is that this is as bad as using “ant” to clue BEE – just less obviously wrong. As with O=empty, solvers will probably get there by association, but they should be able to use more precise methods.

By now I am sure you will have realised that when Peter refers to a CD he really means Cryptic Definition and not Compact Disc! BD


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