DT Cryptic No 25908

Daily Telegraph Cryptic No 25908

Today’s hints and tips by Gazza

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BD Rating – Difficulty *** Enjoyment ****

This is another fine Tuesday crossword, made up entirely of single-word answers. It contains some excellent and amusing clues and a number of clever attempts at misdirection. For those readers who have not read BigDave’s excellent FAQs, note that the white space between the curly brackets actually contains the answer – double-click on it and all will be revealed!

Across Clues

1a  Comic hoax taking in press (8 )
{COMEDIAN} – hoax is CON and this includes (taking in) MEDIA, the means of mass communication such as the press, to form a synonym for a comic.

5a  More anxious grieved constituents without victory (6)
{EDGIER} – an anagram (constituents) of “grieved” minus the V (without victory) gives us a word meaning more irritable or anxious.

9a  Firm line (8 )
{BUSINESS} – a double definition of a company (firm) and what it trades in (line). I’m not too keen on this clue because the two definitions overlap so much.

10a  Army track back following team leader (6)
{TROOPS} – reverse (back) SPOOR, the track of a hunted animal, after (following) T (team leader) to get a synonym for army.

11a  Water bearer? (8 )
{AQUEDUCT} – a (not very) cryptic definition of a structure built to carry a waterway over a valley, like this famous one in North Wales.

12a  Seen in mirror, dainty frock (6)
{ORDAIN} – a hidden word (seen) in “mirror dainty” means to invest someone as a priest (frock being a word for this which is no longer in regular use, although the opposite, defrock, is). Were you initially misled by the presence of “seen in mirror” into looking for a reversal, as I was?

14a  Bloke furious dropping one’s bitter (10)
{MALEVOLENT} – put together MALE (bloke) and ViOLENT (furious without the I, i.e. dropping one) to form a word meaning ill-disposed or bitter.

18a  Plan stratagem importing European drink (10)
{CHARTREUSE} – plan is CHART and stratagem is RUSE. Insert E (importing European) to get the name of a famous green or yellow liqueur. I really like this clue with its clever surface reading.

22a  Routine transport carrying nothing (6)
{BORING} – transport is BRING. Insert O (carrying nothing) to form a word meaning uninteresting or routine.

23a  Club charge is steep (8 )
{MACERATE} – a charade of MACE (club) and RATE (charge) produces a verb meaning to soften food by soaking it in a liquid (to steep).

24a  Bass player? (6)
{ANGLER} – once you’ve twigged that “bass” is being used here as a fish rather than a musical instrument, you’ve realised that it’s a cryptic definition of a fisherman,  who allows the fish to tire itself out (plays) before reeling it in.

25a  Top detective getting tough on precinct (8 )
{DISTRICT} – top detective is DI (detective inspector) and tough is STRICT. Put together they form a synonym for precinct. If you give precinct its North American meaning of a policing area, then the surface reading is again excellent.

26a  Tone down girl on instrument (6)
{DILUTE} – the girl is DI and the instrument (a favourite in recent puzzles) is LUTE. Together they form a verb meaning weaken or tone down.

27a  I’d return going crazy finding burglar (8 )
{INTRUDER} – I thought at first that this was going to be the third clue in a row starting “di” (because of the “I’d return”), but actually it’s an anagram (going crazy) of “I’d return” to give another word for burglar.

Down Clues

1d  Company supporters? Slippery creatures (6)
{COBRAS} – the standard abbreviation of company is followed by BRAS (supporters) to form highly venomous snakes.

2d  Place where quiet surrounds work (6)
{MUSEUM} – quiet is MUM (as in “keep mum”) and this includes (surrounds) USE (work, as in “to work the system”) to produce a building where items of historical interest are exhibited.

3d  Guy even ends in strip (6)
{DENUDE} – guy is DUDE. Include inside this the final two letters (ends) of evEN to get a verb meaning to strip.

4d  Oasis acted badly in a group, perhaps (10)
{ASSOCIATED} – an amusing clue which on the surface is being critical of the behaviour of the Gallagher brothers, is, in fact, an anagram (badly) of “oasis acted” which leads to a word meaning in the same group of companies.

6d  Space for development? (8 )
{DARKROOM} – a cryptic definition of a place where photographs are developed. Now that nearly everyone has a digital camera the number of these in use must be dwindling.

7d  Independent party next for devotee (8 )
{IDOLATER} – a charade of I (independent), DO (party) and LATER (next) produces a worshipper or devotee.

8d  Notes are played to echo (8 )
{RESONATE} – an anagram (played) of “notes are” leads to a verb meaning reverberate or echo.

13d  Novel point of view (10)
{PERSUASION} – double definition – the title of Jane Austen’s last complete novel also means a set of political or religious beliefs.

15d  Dagger holder and betrayer by Shakespeare (8 )
{SCABBARD} – you need to cast aside visions of Lady Macbeth or Brutus – the dagger holder in question is a sheath in which a dagger is carried. It’s made up from SCAB (someone who betrays colleagues by working when they are on strike) and BARD (Shakespeare).

16d  A grim lad performing song (8 )
{MADRIGAL} – an anagram (performing) of “a grim lad” produces an unaccompanied song.

17d  Most obdurate is sent to stir (8 )
{STONIEST} – an anagram (stir) of “is sent to” leads to a word meaning most hard-hearted or obdurate.

19d  Guide for chaps on rocky peak (6)
{MENTOR} – chaps are MEN and a rocky peak is TOR. Put together they form a trusted adviser (guide).

20d  Prepared to take flight? (6)
{TAXIED} – this is really a double-bluff, because in a clue like this “flight” normally means stairs, and I scratched around looking for a verb meaning to go upstairs or prepare for bed, before the penny dropped. The answer describes the way an aeroplane moved slowly from the terminal to the end of the runway prior to taking off, and “flight” means just what it says.

21d  Hamlet tersely delivering line (6)
{LETTER} – a word hidden (delivering) inside “Hamlet tersely” means a line (as in the phrase “to drop someone a line”).

There are some excellent clues here. I particularly enjoyed 18a, 25a and 4d, but my “clue of the day” has to be 20d because of the brilliant double-bluff. Agree or disagree? – do leave a comment.


  1. Posted April 21, 2009 at 9:57 am | Permalink | Reply


    As I completed the puzzle, I noted the misdirections so I could add a comment – you beat me to it!!

    This is our usual Tuesday setter back after taking a holiday last week.

  2. John W
    Posted April 21, 2009 at 7:40 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Agreed, some very clever distractors, and 20dn was the last one I got.

    23ac was a nice one: ‘steep’ indeed.

    But a small niggle – the grid seems to be in four almost disjoint parts, with only clues 14ac, 15ac, 4dn, 13dn linking them. This made solving it a bit slower than usual … for me, at least.

  3. gazza
    Posted April 21, 2009 at 8:09 pm | Permalink | Reply

    John W
    Thanks for the comment – I agree that 23a was also a good one, as was 24a – in fact there were 8 or 9 really good clues.
    I don’t tend to notice the grids too much, but I see what you mean about the four distinct parts.

  4. Posted April 21, 2009 at 9:29 pm | Permalink | Reply

    This is the grid I love to hate – still in use in one or two other papers I think, but really should be thrown away by the lot.

    But the puzzle rises above it. The clues are really short and concise – Mr Anorak here makes it an average of 4.75 words per clue. This isn’t a virtue on its own, but unlike some puzzles, I don’t think I can see a wasted word anywhere.

    7D is worth a mention for not using the usual stuff about “procrastionation” for “I do later”.

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