DT 25918 – Review

Daily Telegraph Cryptic No 25918

A full analysis by Peter Biddlecombe

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BD Rating – Difficulty *** Enjoyment **

Started this off very fast but slowed down in the bottom half.  A saying to ponder from one of the Times for the Times bloggers: “Some of the words in a clue are there for their meaning, and some for their content”.   As a solver, it’s well worth asking “why is this particular word used”, and any passing setters will already have realised that concealing the words included for their content can be quite difficult.

Across
1 Meal quietly taken inside – first-rate (6)
SUPPER – p=piano=quietly in super=first rate. Very easy starter for old hands as this kind of wordplay is often used and P is the first thing to try on seeing “quiet” or similar.
4 Chinese food that repeats (4-4)
CHOW-CHOW – orientally-based slang for food. Any mention of “repeats” or similar combined with (x-x) as opposed to (x-y) should have you thinking of this kind of word – there are quite a few.
9 Church architect first to use force (6)
WREN=architect,CH=church. The “first” ordering instruction contributes to a good surface meaning.
10 Listen again to words of approval (4,4)
HEAR,HEAR – what was I just saying for 4A? I wondered briefly whether we were in for a theme applied to all the 8-letter answers, but it was not to be.
12 Sad sage frantically going round the bend provided physical relief (8 )
ASSUAGED – U=bend in anag. of “sad sage”. The beginning of the clue is an anagram and fodder “screamer”, so rather too easy.
13 Soldier back in Portuguese port is rascally French hero (6)
FIGARO – G.I. rev in the Portuguese port of Faro. The geographical side is quite tricky but accurate. Although Beaumarchais who seems to have invented Figaro was presumably French, the character himself is, as far as I can tell, 100% Spanish – he’s the Barber of Seville! So “rascally operatic hero” or similar seems a better def.
15 Money falls I comprehend (3,5,5)
THE PENNY DROPS – 2 definitions. Not the easiest phrase to see, but perfectly OK. Solvers of fiendish thematic crosswords often talk about the “penny-drop moment” when you see what this week’s theme is.
18 Knowing one’s rank below (13)
UNDERSTANDING – 2 defs, one whimsical – “rank below” = “under-standing”
22 Outside broadcasting (6)
SOWING – the original kind of broadcasting, done outside – well you can sow seeds indoors, but you wouldn’t throw them around.
24 One making violent effort with sieve (8 )
STRAINER – 2 defs again.
26 Enclosure from commissioner, relatively small amount of money (8 )
COMPOUND – COM.=commissioner,POUND. More evidence that the DT permits abbrevs in Chambers but not Collins or Concise Oxford – that’s the deal with this one. Best point here is the meaning change for “enclosure”.
27 I had one coy problem with foolish behaviour (6)
IDIOCY – I’d,I=one,OCY=anag. of coy. Mechanically OK but the surface meaning is very poor. “coy problem” makes no more sense than Chomsky’s “colourless green idea”, so ‘coy’ is too obviously there for its content.
28 Wasn’t one playing with the tool? (5-3)
TENON SAW – anag. of “Wasn’t one”. I saw the answer quickly – (5-3) is a big help – but at least this clue means something.
29 They have their standards in English education (6)
OFSTED – gentle cryptic def.
Down
1 Does it matter performing at show? (2,4)
SO WHAT – anag. of “at show”. Another one where (2,4) helps a lot.
2 Newsmen look contemplatively losing end of fastener (5-4)
PRESS,STUD(y).
3 Enclosure left inside in French hollow (7)
ENCLAVE – “in French” = EN (same logic as “the French” = LE/LA/LES),left=L in hollow=CAVE. An enclave is part of country’s territory entirely inside another’s territory. See wikipedia for the gory details.
5 Part of the elephant’s foot? (4)
HEEL – hidden in “the elephant”. You could quibble about which parts of this clue are definition and wordplay, but it’s fun, easy to solve and the surface meaning is good, so let’s not.
6 Was unduly anxious about wordier translation (7)
WORRIED – anag of wordier. Convincing surface though not a very difficult clue.
7 Animal desire within both ends of hacienda (5)
HYENA – YEN in H(aciend)A. Another poor surface – why hacienda? Must be for the H and A. As hyenas are often “laughing”, I wondered whether you could use this to get the “HA” part.
8 Belligerent steed? (8 )
WARHORSE – very gentle CD
11 Be finished on time at lower level (7)
BENEATH – be=BE – can’t argue there!, finished=NEAT – bit of a stretch but OK, H=time – Why? I can see h=hour, but h=time only by way of H-hour = an appointed time, similar to “d-day” in military language. If the excuse is the first, then solvers must presumably consider H,M,S,T for “time”. I have no objection to “amount of time” leading to H/M/S, but “time” just seems too vague. (The umpteen possibles for “state” can be difficult, but they are unarguably states.)
14 Silliness in article gangster took out of Italy (7)
IN,AN,IT(al)Y – good old Al Capone again.
16 Pipes up? Here presumably (5-4)
ORGAN-LOFT – where the pipes and other workings of an organ are. Nice meaning-change poser.
17 A spy cuts loose diminutive feline (5-3)
PUSSY-CAT – anag of (A spy cuts). Not very impressed by this – if the spy is going to cut loose a pussycat, why not the Bond girl type of pussycat? To rescue the kind used in this surface meaning, you call the fire brigade, not MI6!
19 Hurry with grain and port (7)
RUNCORN – hurry=RUN,grain=CORN. A place-name to wind up some of you, but clear wordplay and a bigger place than some we’ve had.
20 Benefiting India for endless disaster (2,3,2)
IN AID OF – anag of (India fo(r)). Easy from (2,3,2) but otherwise a good clue.
21 Became threadbare despite losing nothing while being raided (6)
FRAYED from F(o)RAYED. Minor mutter about “while” as the def/wordplay link.
23 Lady was successful to include graduate (5)
WOMAN – M.A. in won. No unspecified female this time.
25 Armed forces were entertained by some eleven satirists (1,1,1,1)
E.N.S.A – hidden in “eleven satirists”. Entertainers of troops in WWII. Can’t remember what it really stood for, as the jocular “Every Night Something Awful” gets in the way. Letter-counts like (1,1,1,1) are such a giveaway that you may as well print the answer in the grid! I don’t think COMPOUND or TENON SAW was so good that this corner of the grid couldn’t be reworked to avoid this. (I’m assuming nothing else to fit ?N?A was considered worthy of a clue.) Alternatively, the instruction “answers include one abbreviation” tells the solver enough without saying “and by the way it’s 25D”.

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