DT 25957

Daily Telegraph Cryptic No 25957

Hints and tips by Big Dave

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

What a good week this is turning out to be.  Today we have a first class puzzle with some of the best surface reading that I have seen in a daily cryptic for some time.  One or two minor quibbles where that surface reading gets in the way of the accuracy of the clue, but when you get quality like this who cares!

Following recent discussions on the difficulty rating I have increased this from two stars to three to compensate for clues like 18 down which, while making us oldies smile, will no doubt cause problems for the younger solvers


1a Magazine is up-to-date says servant (3,9)
{NEW STATESMAN} – this magazine is NEW (up-to-date) STATES (says) MAN (servant / as in My Man Jeeves)

9a Scold a German crashing in motorbike race (9)
{TERMAGANT} – straight out of yesterday’s Toughie! – this derogatory term for a woman (scold) is an anagram (crashing) of A GERMAN inside TT (Tourist Trophy / motorbike race)

10a Pawnbroker having soiled article taken away (5)
{UNCLE} – this affectionate term for a pawnbroker comes UNCLE(AN) (soiled) with AN (article) taken away

11a Popular song the man broadcast (6)
{ANTHEM} – a much misused term for a popular song is an anagram (broadcast) of THE MAN

12a At home in safe job requiring little work (8)
{SINECURE} – put IN (at home) inside SECURE (safe) to get a job requiring little work

13a Shoot portrait painter’s foot back inside (3,3)
{LET FLY} – a phrase meaning to shoot comes from (Sir Peter) LELY (portrait painter) with FT (foot) reversed (back) inside

15a Rustic grabbing head of huge bird (8)
{PHEASANT} – this rustic is noun –  PEASANT – put H (head of Huge) inside (grabbing) and you get a large bird

18a Suffer later, with toe being broken (8)
{TOLERATE} – a synonym for to suffer is an anagram (being broken) of LATER with TOE

19a Scares off pet (6)
{CARESS} – an anagram (off) of SCARES gives a word meaning to pet

21a Rustic’s previous examination (8)
{PASTORAL} – here rustic is an adjective which is a charade of PAST (previous) and ORAL (examination)

23a Watch fire in half of Bucks town (6)
{BEACON} – a fire on high ground lit as a signal, for example, to warn of danger (watch fire) is exactly half of BEACONsfield (Bucks town) – rather clever how “watch” as noun is used as an adjective while masquerading as a verb

26a Delete facility pressing ‘R’ (5)
{ERASE} – a synonym for delete comes rather awkwardly from EASE (facility) around (pressing) “R” – I found the use of facility as “ease in performance or action (Chambers)” a little unusual, and combining that with the use of pressing as an anagram indicator made the wordplay quite difficult

27a Information given by staff about early garden plant (9)
{GOLDEN ROD} – put GEN (Information) next to (given by) ROD (staff) around (about) OLD (early) to get a garden plant

28a Outstanding piece of strategy shown by expert oarsman (12)
{MASTERSTROKE} – here an outstanding piece of strategy comes from MASTER (expert) and STROKE (oarsman)


1d Girl collecting new bat for game (7)
{NETBALL} – NELL (girl, the affectionate version of Eleanor) around (collecting) and anagram (new) of BAT for a game, usually played by girls

2d Most unpleasant defeat (5)
{WORST} – a double definition  – the superlative of the adjective bad and as a verb to worst is to defeat

3d See ‘Gypsy’ in rep? (9)
{TRAVELLER} – another double definition – a gypsy on the one hand and a representative on the other – I found the word “see” owed a lot to the surface reading and brought nothing but confusion to the clue and could, surely, have been omitted

4d Adult feeding toddler perfectly (2,1,1)
{TO A T} – put A (Adult as in the old film classification) inside (feeding) TOT (toddler) to give a short phrase meaning perfectly

5d In Street, I mean to wait patiently (3,5)
{SIT TIGHT} – inside ST(reet) put I, then add TIGHT (mean / stingy) to get a phrase meaning to wait patiently

6d A quaintly pleasing accent (5)
{ACUTE} – A CUTE (a quaintly pleasing) combined together give an accent used on the penultimate “e” in crème brûlée (the other accents being grave and circumflex)

7d Without error, a chapter on clergyman (8)
{ACCURATE} – a synonym for without error is a simple charade of A C(hapter) and (on – properly used as a down-clue construct) CURATE (clergyman)

8d First of date trees to be sprayed in the Sahara (6)
{DESERT} – take the first letter of Date and then an anagram (to be sprayed) of TREES to get a type of terrain of which the Sahara is an example

14d Rabbit’s foot and a variety of animals may be a symbol of luck (8)
{TALISMAN} – here you take the rabbit’s fooT and add an anagram (a variety) of ANIMALS to get a symbol of luck

16d Putting down in a cellar (9)
{ABASEMENT} – a word meaning putting down is simply derived from A BASEMENT (a cellar)

17d Respectable hand (8)
{STRAIGHT} – a double definition – for those who don’t know, a straight is a hand containing a sequence of five cards, irrespective of suit, in poker

18d Old comic hat (6)
{TOPPER} – another double definition – Topper was a UK comic published by D. C. Thomson & Co. Ltd that ran from 7 February 1953 to 15 September 1990, when it merged with The Beezer and both comics were renamed as Beezer and Topper which ran until 1993

20d Denise and I abroad indefinitely (4,3)
{SINE DIE} – an anagram (abroad) of DENISE and I gives a Latin phrase meaning indefinitely

22d Love a theatre company coming up with Tosca, maybe (5)
{OPERA} – O (love) and A REP ( a repertory / theatre company) reversed (coming up) gives a musical entertainment of which Tosca is an example – in yesterday’s Toughie we had Grand Opera, today we have the less grand variety!

24d Goods carried from vehicle on drive (5)
{CARGO} – these goods are a charade of CAR (vehicle) and GO (drive, as in energy)

25d Slight defect in speech? (4)
{SLUR} – we finish on a double definition – an imputation of blame or wrongdoing (slight) or a running together resulting in indistinctness in speech (defect)

I would like to hear from you as to your opinions on the quality of recent puzzles.  I think a lot of credit is due to the impact that Phil McNeill, the Puzzles Editor for the Telegraph Media Group, is beginning to have.  The occasional weak puzzle still slips through, but in general the standard does seem to be on the increase.


  1. bigboab
    Posted June 17, 2009 at 1:29 pm | Permalink | Reply

    A nice mixture of easy clues and difficult ones made this a fairly enjoyable puzzle, I liked 12a and 20d particularly. I agree the puzzles are getting better all the time as is the blog.

  2. mary
    Posted June 17, 2009 at 2:24 pm | Permalink | Reply

    where are the down clues?

  3. mary
    Posted June 17, 2009 at 2:47 pm | Permalink | Reply

    like it the downs will be up soon!

    • Posted June 17, 2009 at 3:35 pm | Permalink | Reply

      Just to clarify, Mary wrote this before I added the down clues, and I had left a message to say “The downs would be up soon”, which I have subsequently deleted.

  4. Kram
    Posted June 17, 2009 at 2:54 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Couldn’t agree more about the improved standard of the Telegraph’s cryptic crosswords recently, especially the Sunday ones.The blogs hints and tips have improved greatly at the same time, as the increased comments show.
    Todays crossword perhaps deserved two and a half stars!, liked 16d,25d, and 28a.

  5. Libellule
    Posted June 17, 2009 at 4:45 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Dave, by being “controversial” are you hoping to create a large number of comments? :-) Anyway my 2c on the current status of the DT crosswords.
    1, The improvement on the Sunday is to be applauded.
    2. Saturday as a prize puzzle should be more difficult, perhaps Friday should be Saturdays?
    3. Generally the weekday puzzles have remained constant in quality with the odd problem now and then.
    4. For the Toughies to be be true Toughies, then we need an improvement in some of them. But I don’t think I could handle Elgar every day.

    • Posted June 17, 2009 at 5:11 pm | Permalink | Reply


      Would I be deliberately controversial? I plead the fifth amendment on that one.

      I meant what I said. Leaving aside the occasional howler like DT 25933, I have enjoyed a lot of the recent puzzles, particularly the last couple of days. The problem with the Saturday puzzles, apart from proper nouns, is that we expect a prize puzzle to be more difficult than the others, but that has not been the case with the Telegraph for many years. I expressed my view on that a few Saturdays back.

      I perhaps didn’t make it clear that I was not referring to the Toughies. The schedule for those shows that a large variety of setters is being used, at least eighteen this year, and that there is a wide range of both difficulty and enjoyment being experienced. I agree that the bar should be raised, but that needs to be done without having a retrograde effect on the quality.

  6. Greenhorn
    Posted June 17, 2009 at 7:15 pm | Permalink | Reply

    All done but had to use an electronic cheat on 9a & 27a (never heard of either) and couldn’t get word play on 13a . A personal dislike is names of poets, composers, artists , authors etc as I’ve usually never heard of them.

  7. Little Dave
    Posted June 17, 2009 at 7:30 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Another good one – two in two days!! WOW!!
    I got stuck on 27a but otherwise it was okay. “Sinecure” is a word I particularly like although it is rarely heard.

  8. Bryher
    Posted June 17, 2009 at 8:12 pm | Permalink | Reply

    once again thank you, 13 Across was way to obscure for me a novice at this crossword

  9. NathanJ
    Posted June 18, 2009 at 12:39 am | Permalink | Reply

    Great puzzle – easier than yesterday’s but still a great challenge.

    I too have noticed the recent improvement in the standard of these puzzles which is good.

    I wonder if this is just good luck or is it by design?

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