DT 25956

Daily Telegraph Cryptic No 25956

Hints and tips by Gazza

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

After last Tuesday’s disappointing puzzle it is good to get a really solid one with some excellent surface readings. In terms of difficulty I would rate this half way between a standard cryptic and a Toughie, so newcomers should not be discouraged if they cannot finish it without assistance.
As usual the answers can be revealed, if required, by selecting the white space between the curly brackets.

Across Clues

1a  Hard cheese? Far from it! (10)
{MASCARPONE} – the setter is trying to misdirect us into thinking that hard cheese here means tough luck, whereas actually we need to take it literally. “Far from it” indicates that we need the opposite of hard, so what we want is a soft cheese, in this case a mild Italian variety.

6a  Made return call (4)
{LAID} – a synonym for made (as in made a plan or a trap) means to initiate a telephone call when it is reversed (return).

9a  Scales see ‘lardy’ perhaps put on stone (10)
{STEELYARDS} – an anagram (perhaps) of SEE ‘LARDY’ is put after ST (stone) to get weighing apparatuses with a long graduated arm on which a weight is moved until it balances.

10a  Stagger back getting unbalanced (4)
{NUTS} – to stagger somebody is to STUN them – reverse this (back) to get a slang term for unbalanced or crazy.

12a  Fast time after finish (4)
{DIET} – finish is DIE – add T(ime) to get a verb meaning to restrict your food intake, hence to fast.

13a  Doctor endearing and cordial (9)
{GRENADINE} – an anagram (doctor) of ENDEARING gives us a sweet cordial traditionally made from pomegranates. The word is derived from “grenade” (the French word for pomegranate).

15a  Profanity following socialist leader’s taxing (8 )
{SWEARING} – start with S (socialist leader) and add WEARING (physically or mentally demanding, taxing) to get a synonym for profanity.

16a  Old actor’s unsteady walk, losing heart (6)
{STAGER} – an archaic term for an actor is found by taking STAGGER (unsteady walk) and removing the middle letter (losing heart).

18a  Arouse former wife with advance (6)
{EXCITE} – put together EX (former wife) and CITE (put forward as proof, advance) to get a verb meaning to arouse.

20a  Copper with detectives, English agree (8 )
{COINCIDE} – a charade of COIN (copper), CID (detectives) and E(nglish) produces a verb meaning to match or agree.

23a  Look in newspaper for a tedious bore (9)
{PERFORATE} – a brilliantly hidden (look in) verb in newspaPER FOR A TEdious is a synonym for bore. I spent some time trying to think of a word with LO inside a newspaper!

24a  Leave a lasting impression? (4)
{ETCH} – a cryptic definition of making a design on metal or glass by eating out the lines with an acid.

26a  Bird starts to talk excitedly about love (4)
{TEAL} – the first letters (starts to) of the last four words reveal a small freshwater duck.

27a  Hospital is on trauma scramble (10)
{SANATORIUM} – an anagram (scramble) of IS ON TRAUMA gives us a type of hospital often used for convalescents.

28a  Squawk from chicken losing tail (4)
{YELL} – take YELLOW (cowardly, chicken) and remove the last two letters (losing tail) to get a shout or squawk.

29a  Minor trouble with the French cologne (10)
{ADOLESCENT} – a charade of ADO (trouble), LES (the, in French) and SCENT (cologne) produces a term for a young person or minor.

Down Clues

1d  Bulk idiot male put on top (4)
{MASS} – put M(ale) in front of (on top of, in a down clue) another term for silly idiot to get a synonym for a large amount or bulk.

2d  Heart of minister I learnt is clean (7)
{STERILE} – another well-hidden word, signalled by heart of, is to be found inside miniSTER I LEarnt to give a word for clean.

3d  This is what William Wordsworth wrote (12)
{ALLITERATION} – this is a figure of speech signifying the recurrence of the same initial sound in words in close succession, as in What William Wordsworth Wrote. About a month ago in DT 25934 we had the same word (the verb rather than the noun that time) when the clue was Start soundly, saving some salary? (10) – then my hint was obviously not good enough because we had a few queries about it in the comments!

4d  Ringing man after proposal (8 )
{PLANGENT} – put GENT (man) after PLAN (proposal) to get an adjective meaning loud and resonant (ringing).

5d  Naked women possessing grand butts! (6)
{NUDGES} – an amusing clue where NUDES (naked women) have (possessing) G (grand, thousand dollars) inside to form a word meaning butts (pushes or strikes with the head). As Eric Idle used to say in Monty Python “……, ……, wink, wink – say no more!”.

7d  Jolly smug in a dicky (7)
{AMUSING} – an anagram (dicky) of SMUG IN A gets a word meaning entertaining or jolly, though not, reputedly, to Queen Victoria.

8d  He’s ardent, I fancy, revealing crush (10)
{DISHEARTEN} – an anagram (fancy) of HE’S ARDENT I reveals a verb meaning to cause someone to lose confidence or crush them.

11d  Cross endless river on tin ship (12)
{CANTANKEROUS} – a lovely charade of CAN (tin), TANKER (ship) and OUSe (river without the final letter) gives us a word meaning bad-tempered, argumentative or cross.

14d  Practice rolling joints, perhaps (10)
{OSTEOPATHY} – a cryptic definition of the practice of a form of complementary medicine which involves the treatment of medical disorders by massage and manipulation.

17d  A ship’s propeller? (8 )
{FORESAIL} – a cryptic definition of the thing that propels a sailing ship along when the wind is blowing – the principal sail on the foremast.

19d  Rein in dog chasing another dog (7)
{CURTAIL} – a synonym for rein in is formed from TAIL (to dog or follow) which comes after (chasing) another word for a dog.

21d  It’s cold queuing outside bank (7)
{INCLINE} – take C (cold) and put outside it IN LINE (queuing) to get another word for a slope or bank. A very neat clue!

22d  Ace artist in clay getting loot (6)
{MARAUD} – put A (ace in bridge notation) and RA (artist, Royal Academician) inside MUD (clay) to get a verb meaning to raid, plunder or loot.

25d  Obscene material turning stomachs (4)
{SMUT} – reverse a childish word for stomachs to get lascivious or obscene material.

I liked 23a, 29a and 3d, but my clue of the day, for its excellent surface reading is 21d. What do you think? – leave us a comment.


  1. bigboab
    Posted June 16, 2009 at 10:13 am | Permalink

    I found this one very hard indeed, I think I’m still suffering from an excessive weekend. I liked 14d. Thank you yet again for some smashing hints, I would not have got 4d without them.

    • gazza
      Posted June 16, 2009 at 10:19 am | Permalink

      Thanks bigboab
      Big Dave and I have been having a discussion about the difficulty of this one. He thinks it should have only 3 stars for difficulty, whereas I think 4. It will be interesting to see where the consensus lies in the comments.

      • bigboab
        Posted June 16, 2009 at 1:12 pm | Permalink

        I agree with you, I thought it was really difficult but very enjoyable, if I had brains like the bloggers and BD I’d probably give it 2*

  2. Kram
    Posted June 16, 2009 at 12:03 pm | Permalink

    Sorry Big Dave I have to agree with Gazza regarding the difficulty of this crossword, Sundays crossword 2488 was rated as 3* but this one is much harder , in my humble opinion. The clue given for 3d is not as good as the one used in 25934 as the latter had the indicator of ‘start’, once again only in my opinion. 1a relied too much on solving its letters contained in the down clues. Liked 29a though.

  3. Libellule
    Posted June 16, 2009 at 12:39 pm | Permalink

    3 stars, it was on a par with last Friday’s my 2c

  4. mary
    Posted June 16, 2009 at 2:00 pm | Permalink

    even my brother found it hard and he has been doing them for over 30 years, he found todays toughie easier!!!
    I as a beginner had little hope! still enjoying though

    • Libellule
      Posted June 16, 2009 at 2:03 pm | Permalink

      Mary, I found the toughie more complicated – honest :-) Ah well it takes all sorts.

  5. libellule
    Posted June 16, 2009 at 6:29 pm | Permalink

    Gazza if this gets 4 * then Don will get 5 * every Friday :-)

    • gazza
      Posted June 16, 2009 at 6:59 pm | Permalink

      The majority of the comments above seem to support my view! I actually found it about on a par with today’s Toughie for difficulty.
      I think that one area of difficulty is that some of the cryptic definitions do not provide much wordplay help. For example, on 1a once you’ve twigged that you want a soft cheese, the wordplay does not help you to identify which one – you have to rely on checking letters. Similarly on 14d and 17d.
      I was hoping to challenge your record number of comments from last Friday with today’s effort, but that does not look very likely now 8)

  6. Little Dave
    Posted June 16, 2009 at 6:56 pm | Permalink

    I found this hard and still need 7 of the blighters. I will pore over it whilst enjoying my tea and will log in later.

  7. Bryher
    Posted June 16, 2009 at 7:31 pm | Permalink

    Oh dear had never heard of 4 down before really found it tough today
    Thank you for web sight

  8. Graybag
    Posted June 16, 2009 at 7:36 pm | Permalink

    Very hard today. Took an hour to get about a quarter doneand since when did stone mean ST ! I never even saw that 9a was an anagram

    • gazza
      Posted June 16, 2009 at 7:40 pm | Permalink

      Stone is ST when it is a weight as in 12ST 9LB.

      • Graybag
        Posted June 16, 2009 at 7:58 pm | Permalink

        Oh God, how stupid am I !! Of course it is. Aaarrgghh !!!

  9. Little Dave
    Posted June 16, 2009 at 8:02 pm | Permalink

    Well, this was one of the best ones for a while in my view. Not completed despite my best efforts and too much time spent on trains today. 23a was lovely – it defeated me and I was convinced the answer was something to do with the Daily Mirror!! 11d was another fine clue – I was looking for a type of vessel! I’ve been doing this crossword for over 16 years and days like this remain absorbing. This would be more suited to a Saturday challenge.

  10. Paul
    Posted June 16, 2009 at 8:59 pm | Permalink

    Have to agree with 4*, really struggled with this one.

  11. joanne
    Posted June 16, 2009 at 9:14 pm | Permalink

    Completed this with my sister, Marian, who also posts sometimes. Took us 2.5 hours. She has been doing the crossword for years but I am new at it. Loved the challenge! We both agree with the 4* rating – 11d our favourite clue.

    • gazza
      Posted June 16, 2009 at 9:25 pm | Permalink

      Hi Joanne
      That’s great – I hope that you’ll be dropping in regularly now that you’ve got the bug.

  12. Mr B
    Posted June 16, 2009 at 9:28 pm | Permalink

    Actually this one wasn’t too bad but I do have to take issue with the compilers generally. Do they not ever consider that a younger generation of crossword lovers actually exists? I have no issue with difficult clues, like ‘plangent’ or even ‘steelyards’ but Using words like ‘stagers’ is just unfair.

  13. NathanJ
    Posted June 17, 2009 at 12:18 am | Permalink

    I did OK with this puzzle – managed to solve all of it unaided except for 23a (I had personage rather than perforate for the answer). Mind you, it took me more than 2 hours to complete whereas usually I finish the DT cryptic in 30-45 minutes.

    A good challenge though. It’s good to have a puzzle of this difficulty level every two or three weeks to stretch our brains and give us a reality check.

  14. NathanJ
    Posted June 17, 2009 at 12:35 am | Permalink

    Sorry, I forgot to mention that I agree with Gazza’s four star rating. This puzzle could almost have been in the Toughie Category and I think Gazza was spot-on with his difficulty rating for this puzzle.

    Thanks Gazza for your review – although I completed this puzzle, except for 23a, I did not understand some of the wordplays. Your blog helped me to understand and appreciate all the wordplays in the puzzle so thanks very much for that.

  15. Posted June 17, 2009 at 1:11 am | Permalink


    Seems like I’m outnumbered.

    Although I enjoyed the puzzle, I didn’t find it that difficult.

  16. tilsit
    Posted June 17, 2009 at 1:54 am | Permalink

    I’m with Big Dave on this one.