DT 25924 – Review

Daily Telegraph Cryptic No 25924

A full analysis by Peter Biddlecombe

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

Given a 4-star difficulty rating mainly bcause it took me a long time to be sure of 9A, so the total time was about double my average for this puzzle. One of those rather odd grids that’s perfectly OK apart from the over-unched 5-letter words, but includes a whopping 16 7-letter answers, and only three other word-lengths. It’s easy to see changes that would both increase the variety of answer lengths and fix the under-unching.

1 Patio redesigned with lines giving shapely cut (7)
TOPIARY – anag. of patio, then good old Ry. = railway = “lines”. Decent enough surface to excuse a fairly loose def.
5 Worker spotted cutter (7)
HAND=worker,SAW=gear. Some came up with the unfortunate red-herring answer HACKSAW. Understandable but “worker” is a pretty vague definition for “hack”, which would make this a fairly weak clue. But not entirely your fault – if the DT didn’t have a fair number of weak clues, you wouldn’t think that way so easily …
9 Completely submerged wearing a balaclava (4,4,3,4)
OVER HEAD AND EARS – which apparently means completely submerged. A new expression for me, so a fair while spent checking whether I could find anything more convincing than EARS as the last word. “Wearing a balaclava” is a second definition, though not a great one – the expression describes the position of the balaclava itself, not the wearing of it.
10 Only half of flower is stiffly formal (4)
PRIM(rose) – logically sound, but unconvincing surface – why should any part of a flower be “stiffly formal”?
11 Inferior Continental articles (5)
UN,DER – no arguments with this old chestnut. Watchout for OUI+JA as another Franco-German combo.
12 Fancy little sidearms (4)
IDEA – hidden word
15 How king spent his time (7)
REIGNED – can’t really see how this one is a cryptic clue
16 Sensitive people take it to be a crime (7)
OFFENCE – 2 defs, nicely combined together as long as you buy “to be” as a def/wordplay link. I guess I do.
17 Chap who admits it is his job (7)
DOORMAN – just cryptic this time, as you could see the wrong kind of “admit”.
19 Where to drink having arrived during sudden increase in business activity (3-4)
BAR-ROOM – arr. in boom
21 River mud broadcast (4)
OUSE = “ooze” = wet mud or slime
22 Bear has book on bankruptcy (5)
23 Individual during the month becoming adherent of an Indian religion (4)
JAIN – I in Jan. Dave had a good moan about the obscurity of this religious adherent. Not so bad if you’ve been on a trip to India and been round a Jain temple watching them all taking great care not to harm any insects.
26 Old scoundrel running sporting events (9,6)
GREY=old,HOUND=scoundrel,RACING=running. Simple breakdown, but it makes a good surface.
27 Willingly left (7)
TESTATE – an adjective or noun for someone who has made a valid will. Not convinced that “willingly left” really indicates either of these, so a case of “well OK, I can see what he means”.
28 Favourite one in Paris, one with a bloomer (7)
PET=favourite,UN,I,A – OK, though what kind of Parisian favourite might have a flower, mistake or loaf of bread isn’t very clear, so less marks for surface meaning than cryptic structure.
1 Actor becoming true pro (7)
TROUPER – anagram. But can “A becoming B” really indicate that the answer is an anagram of B? It seems to me that if there’s any “becoming” going on, it’s the anag. fodder in the clue becoming the grid entry. This goes the other way.
2 Sheer quality of valuable mine included on cape (15)
PRECIPITOUSNESS – MINE inside PRECIOUS=valuable, then NESS=cape. Good surface meaning, only three chunks for a 15-letter answer, and everything properly indicated in the cryptic reading. Best clue in the puzzle for me.
3 Bill the man finds is painful (4)
ACHE – A/C = account = bill, HE = “the man”. Descriptive def – “is painful”.
4 Deanery conversion had been craved (7)
YEARNED = anag. of deanery. This one’s pretty good, as some kind of religious conversion might happen at the deanery.
5 Stop in the Navy (5,2)
HEAVE TO – naval “stop!”. Not terribly cryptic, as quotes round “Stop” make it pretty much a plain definition.
6 Disagreement at employment department on swelling (4)
NO=disagreement,DE=the UK’s former Dept. of Employment
7 Cheering up (8,7)
STANDING OVATION – nice concise cryptic def. Not all two-word clues are double defs!
8 Gate was deteriorating, natural decay (7)
WASTAGE = anag. of (gate was)
13 Time is against us (5)
ENEMY – 2 defs, one descriptive – “(is) against us”. It’s an old crossword truism that time is “the enemy”. This seems to come from an old-fashioned way of asking the time – “How goes the enemy?”
14 Previously a number was announced (5)
AFORE = “a four”. Another good clue with a convincing surface.
17 Should be under doctor during dry spell (7)
DROUGHT = DR.,OUGHT. Strictly, “should be” and “ought” are not quite the same, but this is unlikely to prevent us from solving the clue.
18 Cherish ambition out of turn on waterway (7)
NURTURE – anag. of “turn”,URE (Yorkshire river) = waterway. Potential quibbles about whether “cherish ambition” = nurture, and whether “out of XXX” can indicate an anagram of XXX, but it’s getting late.
19 Advance praise for gradual increase (5-2)
BUILD UP – 2 defs. To build someone up is to give them potentially premature praise.
20 Fellow goes to one island (not Madagascar initially) capital (7)
MANAGUA – MAN=fellow,A=one,GUA(m). Managua is capital of Guatemala Nicaragua [thanks for the correction, Falcon], though I just recognised it as a city that could conceivably be the capital of somewhere.
24 Which one has a horsy expression? (4)
WHOA – WHO=which one,A=a
25 Los Angeles holy man ending a series (4)
LA=Los Angeles,ST.=saint=holy man. Def is for the adjectival meaning of “last”.


  1. Greenhorn
    Posted May 14, 2009 at 6:03 pm | Permalink

    I struggle with the weekdays but I got this out without too much difficulty. I think the difference is that on a Saturday I can do it in abs and drabs whereas during the week it is a snatched 20 mins at lunchtime and 25 mins on the bus home. Clearly my style is not suited to one sitting

  2. Posted May 15, 2009 at 3:51 pm | Permalink

    Having the puzzle on your brain’s back burner is a good way of doing it with much less strain and stress than trying to finish it before you do anything else. Answers to unsolved clues have popped into my head on all sorts of odd occasions.

    Must remember abs & drabs – my drabs come with dribs.