DT 25978 – Review

Daily Telegraph Cryptic No 25978 – Review

A full analysis by Peter Biddlecombe

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BD Rating – Difficulty *** Enjoyment **

The difficulty of this puzzle was about average for a Saturday Telegraph. I didn’t enjoy this one much because there seemed to be quite a few problems of various kinds with the clues. So let’s get down to business.

1 Taking part in an oral examination (7)
TASTING – a weakish CD
5 Impact family made on one from the country (7)
BUMPKIN – BUMP = impact, KIN=family. The word “on” in the clue is “surface padding” – it’s superfluous in the cryptic reading.
9 Picture book theory used by the press (15)
PHOTOJOURNALISM – the wordplay is a nice charade of PHOTO=picture, JOURNAL=book, ISM=theory, but the definition – “used by the press” – isn’t very precise or interesting.
10 Sorry, nothing works! (4)
OOPS – O=nothing,OPS=works from the abbreviation Op. for Opus=work
11 Rocky inlet just starting to enter crossing-place (5)
FJORD = J (just starting) in FORD=crossing-place. Not a very convincing surface – can an inlet enter a crossing place?
12 Be successful going round Hungary for gorse (4)
WHIN = another word for gorse – H in WIN
15 Only small compartment for its driver (7)
MINICAB – a weak definition for which TAXICAB seems a perfectly valid answer though MINICAB is also MINI=small,CAB=compartment.
16 Steam is bothering painter (7)
MATISSE = anag. of “steam is”
17 Musical minimum? (1-6)
G-STRING – a clue that doesn’t work for me. I guess the idea is that a G string is a minimal requirement for a roughly functioning violin, being its lowest string, as used in the “Air on the G string” (though this turns out only to be truly “on the G string” in a special version). This seems a lot of musical stuff for the benefit of an unexciting clue.
19 Round permutation of ciphers (7)
SPHERIC = anag. of ciphers
21 Wean off afresh (4)
ANEW = anag. of “wean”. And what on earth does “wean off afresh” mean?
22 Work for one’s bread (5)
KNEAD – gentle CD, but a clue that works.
23 Wow, there’s zero first on the curve (4)
OGEE – O=zero,GEE=wow, and an ogee is a curve. But “on” is making another appearance as surface padding.
26 Get mad and take a dive (2,3,3,4,3)
GO OFF THE DEEP END – 2 definitions
27 Two beasts revealing rare metal (7)
WOLFRAM = Tungsten = WOLF+RAM – a clue which is as old as the hills.
28 Failure to exercise a right by nurse on shift (3-4)
NON-USER = anag. of “nurse on” – and a failure to exercise a legal right. “nurse on shift” to indicate the anagram is nicely done.
1 Bar drunken tramp pinching pair of spectacles (7)
TAPROOM – OO in anag. of tramp. “Pair of spectacles” for OO works in a couple of ways – pictorially, or as a name for a pair of ducks in cricket.
2 Winning first prize for dredging pond (8,3,4)
3 Press club (4)
IRON – 2 defs
4 Lucky thing in well-paid employment (4,3)
GOOD JOB – 2 defs
5 Herbert Ramsay’s middle name? (7)
BERTRAM – hidden in the (exact) middle of “Herbert Ramsay”
6 Keep channel circumventing it (4)
MOAT – the channel circumventing a keep. Clue relies on bizarre word order – you’re reading a “Puzzle article describing it”.
7 How sir gains advancement on board? (7,8)
KNIGHT’S PROGRESS – cryptic definition referring to the chess meaning – a sequence of moves in which a knight visits every square of a chess board.
8 Candidate found there was no motorway in Spain repeatedly (7)
NOMINEE – NO=no,M=motorway,IN=in,2xE=Spain (IVR). At least some of “found there was” has to count as surface padding.
13 Did not finish writing certificate (5)
SCRIP = SCRIP(t) – script being writing, and scrip a share certificate
14 Not starting to be spiteful when needing to scratch (5)
17 Gags owl fluttering over large built-up area (7)
GLASGOW = anag. of “Gags owl”. Another poor surface – gagging an owl is so improbable that the anagram is obvious.
18 Encouraging Hamish to take in fabric (7)
GINGHAM – hidden.
19 Substitute’s never-ending status (5-2)
20 Charlie had red sort of cheese (7)
CHEDDAR – C=Charlie (radio alphabet),+anag. of “had red”.
24 Are endlessly surrounding footballers from a distance (4)
AFAR = A(F.A.)R(e).
25 Protein coming from Zambia, East Indies and Norway (4)
ZEIN = Z,E.I.,N – thanks to Dave on Satuday for the information that this stuff comes from maize. I just recalled -EIN as a protein ending (e.g. casein, olein) and let the obvious wordplay do the rest.


  1. Ravinder
    Posted July 16, 2009 at 10:03 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Thank you for posting this. I’m taking the approach that as i keep on working through these solutions, I’ll get better at these crosswords. In fact, I did actually manage to get one or two on my own!

  2. Kell
    Posted July 17, 2009 at 2:17 pm | Permalink | Reply

    What a sheltered life you must have lived, Peter, to be unaware of the non-musical meaning of “G-string”.

    Your friend Google take you straight to a helpful Wikipedia illustration of “the minimum”.

  3. Posted July 17, 2009 at 2:36 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Not that sheltered – it just seemed that “minimum” wasn’t terribly convincing for a tiny bit of clothing. But this picture at amazon.com suggests that there is such a usage – and on reflection, it would have been less contrived than the violin idea.

  4. Paul Brierley
    Posted July 19, 2009 at 2:53 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Just found this blog. Nice work BD.

    Also just picked this crossword up a week late. By far the easiest Saturday Telegraph xword in ages. Completed all but ‘Non-User’ in under 10 minutes (a good rate for me). However, fairly pedestrian clues which I found rather unsatisfying.

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