DT Cryptic No 25898

Daily Telegraph Cryptic No 25898

Today’s hints and tips by Gazza

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BD Rating – Difficulty *** Enjoyment ***

I found this one slightly trickier than those of recent days and it was slow-going to start with, but I was able to proceed steadily once I had got the long clues, and I learnt a new word on the way. Several of the clues appear at first sight to be more complicated than they actually are, and the whole thing is enjoyable.

Across Clues

1a  The last but one round house (4)
{SEMI} – the round (the last but one) in a knockout competition which comes between the quarter-final and the final is also a type of house which is not fully detached but shares part of its structure with another. [this is a good example of a clue looking more complicated than it actually is – does “round” here mean the letter O, or is it signalling a reversal, or something surrounding an abbreviation of house? – none of these, it’s more straightforward than that!].

3a  Understand it to be a figure (5)
{DIGIT} – DIG is a slang word meaning to understand – add IT to form a figure.

6a  Cast female lead in drama (4)
{SHED} – the first letter (lead) of “drama” follows a female pronoun to produce a verb meaning to cast off (as a reptile might do with its skin, for example).

8a  Kind of eccentric in trouble from sting (10,5)
{CONFIDENCE TRICK} – a neat anagram of “kind of eccentric” gives us a term for a scam, a hustle or a sting.

9a  Ruling on leader of Tory tabloid is disastrous (6)
{TRAGIC} – ruling is IC (in charge) which follows T (leader of Tory) and the standard derogatory term for a tabloid newspaper to form a synonym for disastrous.

10a  Second group of lawyers accept speed is key (5,3)
(SPACE BAR} – second is S and the group of lawyers is BAR – put a word meaning speed inside these to get a key (the biggest one on your PC’s keyboard!).

11a  Winning looks for the audience on the floor above (8 )
{UPSTAIRS} – winning is UP and then we need a sound-alike (signalled by “for the audience”) of “stares” (looks) to get a word meaning the floor above.

13a  Blushing worker gets a six-footer (3,3)
{RED ANT} – a charade giving RED (blushing) and ANT (worker) to form an insect (six-footer) also known as the fire ant.

15a  Injury caused by rabies originally in part of Europe (6)
{SPRAIN} – part of Europe is SPAIN – put inside it the first letter (originally) of Rabies to get a type of injury.

17a  Trauma surrounding rampant ram in clover (8 )
{SHAMROCK} – trauma is SHOCK – include inside it an anagram (rampant) of “ram” to reveal a type of clover which is the national symbol of Ireland.

19a  Search for gold exposed by Panorama (8 )
{PROSPECT} – a nicely-worded clue which tries to deceive us into thinking of the TV programme by putting a capital P on panorama. In fact the answer is both a verb meaning to search for gold by drilling and excavating and a noun meaning a wide, panoramic view of a landscape.

21a  Girl who made a return in a new order (6)
{ROWENA} – a girl’s name is hidden backwards (made a return) in “a new order”.

22a  One hundred per cent humidity – it’s the limit! (10,5)
{SATURATION POINT} – a technical term meaning the point at which saturation is reached is also used figuratively to mean that no more of something can be absorbed or accepted.

23a  Give up church and start doubling earnings (4)
{CEDE} – CE (Church of England) is followed by the first letters (start) of Doubling Earnings to form a verb meaning to give up.

24a  Bird that bit the head off a dog? (5)
{EAGLE} – this bird/dog combination turns up a lot, but this cryptic clue is quite entertaining. The dog is a BEAGLE – bite off its head (first letter) to get the bird.

25a  Support pub with investment of energy (4)
{BEAR} – pub is BAR into which is invested (i.e. inserted) E (standing for Energy, as in Einstein’s famous equation) to form a verb meaning to carry or support.

Down Clues

1d  They make cuts, worrying us with a secret (9)
{SECATEURS} – an anagram (worrying) of “us” and “a secret” produces a pair of pruning clippers.

2d  Books labour of sorts on Sunday (7)
{MANUALS} – these are books explaining how something works (the sort that you get with a new gadget and normally stuff into a drawer unopened, if you are like me!). The term is made up of a type of labour involving use of the hands followed by S(unday).

3d  Daughter teaching misses a logical inference (9)
{DEDUCTION} – daughter is D – follow this with EDUCATION (teaching) but remove the A (misses a) to leave a word meaning logical inference.

4d  One’s chasing one’s inheritance for a start (7)
{GENESIS} – one’s inheritance is GENES (units of heredity which are transferred from parent to child) – follow this with IS (one’s chasing) to get a word meaning origin or start (or, specially for BigDave, a rock band formed in 1967).

5d  Character from overseas in the volunteers (5)
{THETA} – the “character from overseas” is a Greek letter, formed from THE and TA (Territorial Army, i.e. volunteers).

6d  More certain about right conclusion, but give in (9)
{SURRENDER} – “more certain” is SURER which includes (about) R(ight) and END (conclusion) to form a verb meaning to give in.

7d  Hold fast? He can in trouble! (7)
{ENCHAIN} – an anagram (trouble) of “he can in” produces a slightly obscure word for to bind with chains or hold fast.

12d  Hurried in the back way, before silent change (9)
{TRANSMUTE} – hurried is RAN. Put this inside the normal abbreviation for street reversed (in the back way) and add (before) MUTE (silent) to produce a verb meaning to change. [A word like “change”, which so often indicates an anagram, can be confusing when it means exactly what it says!]

13d  Make alterations behind the kitchen stove (9)
{REARRANGE} – as with the previous clue there’s a temptation to look for non-existent complications with “make alterations”. In fact the answer means exactly that, and it’s formed by a charade of REAR (behind) and a large kitchen stove.

14d  Pinch a foot here inside, and be like your mother (4,5)
{TAKE AFTER} – “pinch” is to TAKE without permission. Follow this with A FT (a foot) and the inside letters of hERe to produce a phrase meaning to resemble one of your parents or ancestors. It doesn’t have to be your mother, it could be your father, one of your grandparents or even the milkman!

16d  Replace damaged fabric (7)
{PERCALE} – an anagram (damaged) of “replace” to produce a word (new to me) meaning a closely woven fine cotton fabric.

17d  Frame for jewellery – going down! (7)
{SETTING} – double definition – a piece of metal in which a stone or gem is fixed, and the going down of the sun.

18d  Former working nurse finally gets prison sentence (3-4)
{ONE-TIME} – a pleasing clue with ON (working, as in switched on) followed by E (final letter of nurse) and a slang term for a prison sentence, to get a term meaning former.

20d  Render a service, keeping score (5)
{ERASE} – a hidden word (keeping) inside “render a service” means to score out (mark as deleted).

There were no really outstanding clues in this one, but the ones I liked best included 17a, 19a and 18d. Do you agree or disagree, and how did you find the puzzle? – leave us a comment!


  1. bigboab
    Posted April 9, 2009 at 1:28 pm | Permalink

    Agree totally, I liked 19a in particular, enjoyed the whole thing.

  2. Posted April 9, 2009 at 2:34 pm | Permalink

    I enjoyed this much more than usual, principally because I could do it at my leisure for a change!

    Thanks for the Music link, but they have never been a band that I followed, more Rock than Rock’n’Roll, but I must confess to owning a few Phil Collins albums.

    I agree with you on the better clues, but I thought that 13 across was a bit naff as it effectively used the same definition twice (worker and six-footer). However, I decided some time ago that any puzzle was allowed (at most) one naff clue!

  3. Bob Harding
    Posted April 9, 2009 at 2:44 pm | Permalink

    My wife and I found it very difficult. Unnecessarily obsure and silly. It puts one off wanting to do them. However many thanks for the extra clues. We could of course have got more answers if we had thought about it a bit more.

  4. Kram
    Posted April 9, 2009 at 2:51 pm | Permalink

    Agree regarding 16d, though I am sure that it has come up in the dim past. My favourite has to be 11a as it is a bit like a Sunday Telegraph crossword clue. 24a was and is a regular answer, and once 20d is solved no prob.

  5. bill
    Posted April 9, 2009 at 6:23 pm | Permalink

    re 16d is used in good quality sheets mixed with cotton

  6. gazza
    Posted April 9, 2009 at 6:45 pm | Permalink

    Thanks to Bob Harding and Kram for the comments, though I can’t agree with Bob that it is unnecessarily obscure and silly. Surely clues in cryptic crosswords are meant to be enigmatic?
    Thanks also to bill for the extra information on 16d. I’ll have to remember this word as it’s sure to crop up again.

  7. Bob harding
    Posted April 10, 2009 at 10:28 am | Permalink

    True but being a scientist etc. Its very interesting to see the responses. Im not brilliant at crosswords and have been slogging away since I retired 18 months ago. The point is that this site is really for beginners and improvers, but the only ones that seem to blog on it are clearly experts. Dare I say it but I detect a degree of showing off along the lines of ” Oh isn’t that clue wonderful”. The next crossword I do, I shall be more specific in my blog. I don’t mind admitting that, sometimes, I cannot see the answer even when given it. Hurrah for this site then.

  8. gazza
    Posted April 10, 2009 at 10:53 am | Permalink

    Bob harding
    Thanks for your comment. As you say the site is aimed at people who are new to cryptics or who want to improve, and we’d love to get more comments from people in this situation, like you, telling us how we could improve the reviews.
    I, for one, am no expert, but an enthusiastic amateur, and I hope that my enthusiasm for a cleverly-constructed clue does not come across as showing off – in future I’ll try to explain better why I like or dislike a particular clue.
    Please do leave a comment on any answer which you cannot understand and we’ll try to improve the explanation. Are there any answers in this review which are unclear? – please do let me know!

  9. Posted April 10, 2009 at 10:56 am | Permalink


    Like yourself I am recently retired, and I stumbled into blogging out of boredom. I have never regarded myself as an expert, but as a self-confessed pedant I am never happy unless I can see the complete wordplay.

    There are very few rules for this site, but the one thing you will notice is that I actively discourage any talk of how long a particular puzzle took to complete. For some an easy puzzle will take twice as long as it takes another, but that doesn’t stop it from being an easy puzzle.

    Expressing opinions on the merits or demerits of particular clues is, however, actively encouraged. Several setters have written to me to say that the feedback that they get is valuable – and one very honest setter even confessed that he had made a mistake!

    When one of us expresses great delight at solving a particular clue, I can assure you that it has nothing to do with showing off. It is our way of describing that warm glow that comes from cracking the challenge laid down by the setter.

    If you fancy having a go at contributing yourself, even on an occasional basis, I would be delighted to give you the opportunity. There is a lot of help available “behind the scenes” and you will be surprised how quickly your solving skills improve when you have to explain every clue.

  10. Bob Harding
    Posted April 10, 2009 at 7:15 pm | Permalink

    This is very interesting and ecouraging. My problem is that you have a clue for a word you can’t fathom but the part clues make no sense until you are presented with the actual answer. Even then it may take a while for the penny to drop. Im hopeless for instance at “sounds like”,or vague clues like temptress there must be hundreds in mythology etc. Then again short hand for “S” being second NT for religious book, and Or for gold all seems a bit pointless. But despite my moaning I must enjoy it as I can’t wait to have a go. Your extra clues are spot on. Thanks again for your input. I’ll shut up for a while, and go away and read FAQs