DT 25960 – Review – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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DT 25960 – Review

Daily Telegraph Cryptic No 25960 – Review

A full analysis by Peter Biddlecombe

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

Much harder than most recent Saturday puzzles – something like double my average time for them.  Mostly good grid, though it does have eight 7-letter words with only three checked letters. Some of my potential quibbles disappeared after looking up words in Chambers, so there are only a couple of clues I’d count as unfair.   That said, there are some very easy cryptic definition clues to go with the difficult ones.  Generally a better puzzle than most Saturdays as others said in the hints posting.  My main reservation is the number of cryptic definitions which seem weak to me, like 28A.  It seems very hard to make these difficult unless they’re unfairly vague.  Did any readers get the same satisfaction from this as from working out the wordplay and def in a clue like 17, or even just half-remembering Polly Flinders at 2?

1 Away team falling into this trap? (7)
OFFSIDE – OFF=away,SIDE=team. The offside trap is a football move – possibly best remembered by those who don’t watch football in a scene from the film The Full Monty where “Arsenal offside trap!” is used to help the near-naked dancing gents understand that they need to step forward in a line. And this clue is a semi &lit, with “away team” adding extra value to the basic def “trap”, as well as providing the wordplay.
9 Australian during storm found small pillar (8 )
BALUSTER – A=Australian in BLUSTER=storm (verb.). A baluster is a small piller, as found in your staircase.
10 Italian gentleman’s groin is injured (7)
SIGNIOR – anagram of “groin is” – a spelling I didn’t know about, but it’s in Chambers
11 Term of admission that had previously been agreed (8 )
PASSWORD – cryptic def which doesn’t really deceive – “terms of admission” may be the meaning which is intended to trip you up, but singular/plural is too big a difference for this to work
12 Short commercial break that is not connected (6)
ADRIFT – AD=”short commercial”,RIFT=break – the phrase “commercial break” is literally “not connected” here!
13 Too much stress arranging reservation without internet (10)
OVERSTRAIN – which does have the required noun meaning in Chambers. anag. of reservation less one e=internet – as in “e-commerce”
15 High point in bridge (4)
ARCH – I hope! This seemed at first to be a double def., but I can’t justify {bridge=arch} so I think I’m counting it as a cryptic def. You get arches in bridges and arches come to points – not sure that this is enough but perhaps I’m missing something.
16 Company car? (9)
TWO-SEATER – cryptic def. based on “Two’s company, three’s a crowd”.
21 Bears minimum charge for metal fastener (4)
HASP – HAS=bears (verb),P=penny=minimum charge. A hasp is the moving part in a “hasp and staple” fastening, commonly used in conjunction with a padlock.
22 Without water swallow single drink (3,7)
DRY MARTINI – DRY,MARTIN=swallow,I=one=single
24 Mother’s temperament? (6)
NATURE – 2 defs., one referring to “mother nature”
25 Coming on dramatically (8)
ENTERING – cryptic def. – enter as in “enter pursued by a bear”
27 Trout is dished up for holidaymaker (7)
TOURIST – anagram of “trout is”
28 It’s not what one expects (8)
SURPRISE – barely cryptic def.
29 Label having no strings attached? (5-2)
STICK-ON – no strings as it’s attached by paste.
2 Polly fragments? (8 )
FLINDERS – difficult for me as I barely remembered “Polly Flinders”. She’s from a nursery rhyme: “Little Polly Flinders / Sat among the cinders / Warming her pretty little toes. // Mother came and caught her / And whipped her little daughter / For spoiling her nice new clothes.”
3 Seven days out of date (8 )
SENNIGHT – obsolete name for a week – guessable if you understand that fortnight = “fourteen nights”, but much easier to guess if like me you’ve seen it before in other puzzles.
4 How postmen go from one portal to another (4-2-4)
DOOR-TO-DOOR – two defs., or two versions of the same def.
5 Common girl has a celebration (4)
6 Star prepared for evening event (6)
SUNSET – SUN=star,SET=prepared – it’s easy to forget that our nearest star is not Alpha Centauri but our own sun, and crossword setters love to take advantage.
7 Seat of Empire (7)
OTTOMAN – the Ottoman Empire was the “sick man of Europe” before the British Economy took over the title, and an ottoman is a seat or bench without arms.
8 Discreet but ill-mannered in non-U boat (7)
PRUDENT – RUDE = ill-mannered inside P(u)NT
11 Coming before Penny again giving way (9)
PRECEDING=coming before. P=penny,”again giving way” = re-ceding – I thought this was a crossword invention in the style of flower=river, but this version of recede is in Chambers.
14 Not dancing during open-air meeting (7,3)
SITTING OUT – 2 defs, joined by one of my bête noire link-words – “during”. Convenient for setters, but to my mind nonsense in the cryptic reading.
17 He goes to right in endless full-toned speech (8 )
RHETORIC – R(HE,TO,R)IC(h) – “endless full-toned” is good for “RIC(h)”, esp. when attached to “speech”. But either “goes” does nothing in the cryptic meaning, or “to” does double duty and “He goes to to right” is the real cryptic reading, so this one must count as a dud clue.
18 In offices press one selection for coffee (8 )
ESPRESSO – hidden word, and nicely done. Could very cheekily have been “press 1” for those who remember drinks machines with numbered selections
19 Unfavourable re Dave’s acrobatics (7)
ADVERSE – anag. of “re Dave’s” – usual reservation about arbitrary names in anagram fodder
20 Whodunnit? It remains a secret (7)
MYSTERY – 2 defs
23 Topless lady hides gold at dawn (6)
AURORA – OR=gold in (l)AURA. No need to know French here – just the heraldic colour words which are in all English dictionaries. Possibly worth a short list in the Mine.
26 Mum has no leading food (4)
NOSH = NO,SH=mum. In Chambers “mum” is an interjection meaning “not a word”, as well as an adjective meaning silent.

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