DT 25991

Daily Telegraph Cryptic No 25991

Hints and tips by Tilsit

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BD Rating – Difficulty ** Enjoyment **

Quite an enjoyable start to the week with some very good cryptic definitions, which are the hallmarks of the Monday Maestro.  However, there are a couple of not-so-good ones, which is a shame, otherwise this would have been a real quality puzzle.

As usual, your comments are appreciated.


1a Agrees to change gun ammunition (6)
{GREASE} An anagram to start today.  The ammunition for this particular gun is more likely to be found at B&Q rather than a gunsmith.

4a A writer’s attributes (8)
{ASCRIBES} I wish I had a pound for each time I’d seen this clue.  It’s a simple definition (attributes) with the solution being a word sum of A + word for an old fashioned writer.

9a Pointless advance warning? (3-3)
{TIP-OFF} Two definitions, one of which is cryptic.  An advance warning is the “normal” definition, but if something is pointless, what does it lack?

10a Heartless person who’s well-known for speed (8)
{CELERITY}  One of the best clues today.  You need the name of a person and remove the central letter (heartless) and you’ll get a word which means quickness.

12a The letters column (4)
{POST}  A double definition clue.  It reminds me of the old crossword joke.

“73ac He brings the mail each morning.”

“How many letters?”

“Take a look in his sack!”

13a Outcast who reflects the way people treat him (5)
{LEPER}  The definition here is OUTCAST and the indication is what many people do when confronted by him, but reversed (reflects).  If you are still stuck, think of Hansen’s Disease.

14a Low average (4)
{MEAN} A double definition.  I had BASE

17a A firm grip on the throttle? (12)
{STRANGLEHOLD} A cryptic definition for something not terribly pleasant as practised by Albert deSalvo.

20a A bit to drink? (4,2,6)
{HALF OF BITTER} Another cryptic definition, and one I feel over-eggs the pudding.   You’re looking for a drink, but not a whole pint.

23a Spot the sign of a faulty washer (4)
{DRIP} Another cryptic definition, this time you need the consequences of a faulty washer, not a machine in your kitchen, but one in your tap.

24a Go in for chips without fish (5)
{ENTER} Someone who has the nickname “Chips” is usually a CARPENTER, now remove the name of a fish, and what’s left?  Nice clue with good surface reading.

25a Low joint where a cap is worn (4)
{KNEE}  Another weak clue for me, I’ll stand the “low joint”, but “a cap is worn” is a bit too much.

28a Describing sounds of one pitch, perhaps (8)
{PHONETIC} An anagram of one pitch contained in a nice clue.

29a Stop and fire (3,3)
{LAY OFF}  I was quite troubled with this as I entered PAY OFF, which I felt was a valid answer.  The clue consists of two definitions, one of which is to stop, as in to desist.  The other is to fire, as in to make redundant.

30a Left with a suggestion of evil (8)
{SINISTER} Double definition.  Heraldry contains a whole lot of its own words and phrases and we have one here.  The phrase for left on a shield is the word required (The word for right is DEXTER).  The other definition is of someone furtive.

31a Exclude crafty frequenter of pubs (6)

{BARFLY} A word sum.  A word meaning “exclude” and a word more often used in the USA to mean “crafty”.  Put them together and you get the wonderful Barney Gumble of The Simpsons. Here’s his finest moment.


1d Our mutual confidant (8)
{GATEPOST}  Another really good clue.  Think of the old expression Between you, me and the…..”

2d Revelation made by a photographer (8)
{EXPOSURE}  A cryptic definition, one I have seen a few times before.  A photographic term for a picture.

3d Notes seating is provided (4)
{SOFA}   Two notes from a musical scale.  I feel a song coming on….

5d He has a moving part to play in the theatre (5-7)
{SCENE-SHIFTER} A cryptic-definition.  Think of the person who moves all the props around.

6d Rush animal from below (4)
{REED}  The animal required is DEER and you should reverse it to get a plant akin to a Bullrush.

7d Bridge expert in court (6)
{BAILEY}  Nothing to go with cards, (though it didn’t stop me looking through my bridge dictionary!).  A type of bridge is needed, with the name for a court in a castle.

8d Saw off the tongue (6)
{SAYING}  I am beginning to see the word “saw” in crosswords as being  like “flower” and “banker”, i.e. meaning something else.  A saw is an old saying and that is the main definition here.  I think “off the tongue” is a bit weak as a co-definition and perhaps should have been qualified a bit more.

11d An unholy racket! (4,2,1,5)
{HELL OF A NOISE}  Another cryptic definition for a phrase I don’t often use myself.  I tend to use “racket” as the last word.  Presumably “an infernal din” has been used before.

15d Sort of snake in the grass (5)
{SNEAK}  An anagram of SNAKE reveals one who cannot be trusted.

16d Clear the ground (5)
{PLAIN} Double definition clue – something that is this is clear, and also means a wide, open space.

18d Keep one’s distance in an impasse (5-3)
{STAND-OFF}  Another double definition.    I wasn’t over-keen on two phrases that feature “OFF” (See 29 ac).  Think off a phrase that starts “Mexican” and means an impasse.

19d Environmentally friendly insect? (8)
{GREENFLY}  A cryptic definition for an aphid.  If something is environmentally-friendly it is said to be this colour, and add to it a common insect.

21d Takes on commercial post needing organisation (6)
{ADOPTS}  Take on is the definition and the clue is a word sum  A short word for a TV commercial + An anagram of POST.  Again, I didn’t much care for this as post is one of today’s answers.  The clue could have read “commercial 12” and would have been OK for me.

22d Refuse to acknowledge down is out (6)
{DISOWN} An anagram (shown by out)  of DOWN IS, will give you a word meaning to refuse to acknowledge.

26d Rigid forms of worship (4)
{PEWS} Cryptic definition for church seating.  “Form” is used as in a type of seating.

27d Senile and repetitive state (4)
{GAGA}  The phrase “state” in a crossword usually means the abbreviation for one of the US states (two recent crosswords in other newspapers featured these), and  a visit to Big Dave’s Mine will reveal them.  Here you need the abbreviation for Georgia.

I shall spare you the musical Lady of that name.  The DJ played her latest hit at my birthday party on Saturday night and I knew I had reached a certain age…….

Thanks to our Monday maestro for today’s challenge.

You can give your assessment of this puzzle by selecting from one to five stars below:



  1. Roger
    Posted July 27, 2009 at 5:02 pm | Permalink

    A very nice crossword with some very pretty, if a little obscure, clues.

  2. nigel
    Posted July 27, 2009 at 5:19 pm | Permalink

    I agree re the above and found gatepost and greenfly amusing but am still in the dark re fish and chips for enter at 24a!
    I await your review with interest.

    • Libellule
      Posted July 27, 2009 at 6:03 pm | Permalink

      24a, A Chippy/Chips is another word for Carpenter. If you remove the fish (CARP) what are you left with?

  3. tilsit
    Posted July 27, 2009 at 5:32 pm | Permalink

    After a somewhat difficult day involving a District Nurse, a Fire Alarm and a Power Cut (make of that as you wish!!), the review is on its way to big Dave.

  4. Posted July 27, 2009 at 5:55 pm | Permalink

    I puzzled over “bridge expert” in 7 down, and wondered if it might be the inventor of the bridge, Sir Donald Bailey, rather than the bridge he invented.

    • Libellule
      Posted July 27, 2009 at 6:05 pm | Permalink

      I read this simply as Bailey (Bridge) and Old Bailey (Court)

      • Posted July 27, 2009 at 6:15 pm | Permalink

        Where does “expert” come into that explanation?

        • tilsit
          Posted July 27, 2009 at 6:20 pm | Permalink

          I don’t think it can be Old Bailey, as there are no references to Old in the clue. I think it’s as in Motte and Bailey castles.

  5. Andrij Baran
    Posted July 27, 2009 at 6:06 pm | Permalink

    How can 10 Ac be celebrity, thats 9 letters not 8

    • Posted July 27, 2009 at 6:12 pm | Permalink

      Andrij welcome to the blog.
      I missed it when I checked – the answer is CELERITY, which is CELE(B)RITY without the middle letter, and I have now updated the blog. Thanks for pointing it out.

  6. james
    Posted July 27, 2009 at 6:14 pm | Permalink

    10a something wrong with this. your answer has 1 too many letters.

    • Posted July 27, 2009 at 6:17 pm | Permalink

      Not any more!

      Welcome to the blog.

  7. tilsit
    Posted July 27, 2009 at 6:17 pm | Permalink

    Sorry, my bad. It should be CELERITY

  8. newtocryptic
    Posted July 27, 2009 at 6:20 pm | Permalink

    Much better than the difficult puzzles from last week. It’s nice to finish without obscure words that most of us don’t use in normal life. Give a pay rise to this setter he has kept my interest in staying with the DT (sorry you experts but I can only afford to spend an hour or so and last weeks took me far longer)

  9. Rufus
    Posted July 27, 2009 at 6:34 pm | Permalink

    I see that other setters are using this site to try and give extra explanations when one of their clues is giving trouble, with one blogger suggesting this is a good idea. I think Tilsit has done his usual excellent job of dissecting my puzzle today, but I shall watch out in the future in case I may help.

    • Libellule
      Posted July 27, 2009 at 6:42 pm | Permalink

      Rufus, some work on 7d would help :-)

    • Posted July 27, 2009 at 6:44 pm | Permalink


      I was beginning to think that we would never persuade to “come out”.

      You are most welcome, and we look forward to hearing from you again.

  10. bigboab
    Posted July 27, 2009 at 6:52 pm | Permalink

    To quote the recent adverts with the cute little meerkats— “simples”. I liked 24a and 26d.

  11. mary
    Posted July 27, 2009 at 7:06 pm | Permalink

    nice crossword lot of repitition of words?? green’fly’ bar’fly’
    gate’post’ ‘post’
    lay ‘off” stand ‘off” tip ‘off”

    was this intentional do you think??

  12. Vince
    Posted July 27, 2009 at 7:33 pm | Permalink

    I think that the indefinite article in 20a is unnecessary. BIT is half of BITTER – A BIT isn’t.

    I agree with Mary re the repetitions.

  13. Bucktheory
    Posted July 27, 2009 at 9:38 pm | Permalink

    Shouldn’t 29a be Lay Off?

    • Posted July 27, 2009 at 9:49 pm | Permalink

      Welcome to the blog Bucktheory

      You may not have realised that the answers can be revealed by highlighting the space between the curly brackets. We do seem to say this a lot, but sometimes forget that new people are joining us every day!

      Pay off was Tilsit’s initial, but incorrect, attempt at an answer and he was pointing out how easy it was to go wrong on this clue.

  14. Rufus
    Posted July 28, 2009 at 12:17 pm | Permalink

    Thanks, Big Dave, for the welcome. I had a night without sleep – waiting for late arrivals at Manchester airport, so was a little bleary and didn’t look at the messages.
    Bailey was intended to be the expert builder and in “court” was meant to allude to the Old Bailey, which I understand is often referred to as “The Bailey”.

    When solving puzzles I don’t mind repetitions of “out””off” etc if the clues aren’t too similar. I originally clued “fly” in almost the same way in two clues, but on final edit, changed one.
    LAY OFF was my intended solution.
    I have always tried to use words that are well-known since I was asked to make the Monday puzzle a straightforward start to the week. Thank you for all the comments!

  15. Mark
    Posted July 28, 2009 at 11:02 pm | Permalink

    Well I was very pleased with myself when I came up with ‘Features’ for 4a. This led me right down the garden path for quite a while (still think my answer’s just as good :)).

    • John
      Posted July 29, 2009 at 12:56 pm | Permalink

      I agree. Had the same answer myself!

      Regarding 30a), I took ‘sinister’ from the Latin word for left rather than part of a shield.

      • Libellule
        Posted July 29, 2009 at 1:13 pm | Permalink

        Chambers has both definitions:
        left or on the left side
        on the left side from the point of view of the bearer of the shield, not the beholder (heraldry)
        To know for sure what Rufus meant, I guess we have to hope he pop’s back and explains.

        • argentandsable
          Posted July 31, 2009 at 4:02 pm | Permalink

          Yeah, the fact that “sinister” in heraldry actually refers to what one would usually call “right” is somewhat annoying, but only for those who realise the sinister/left link.

          • gazza
            Posted July 31, 2009 at 4:17 pm | Permalink

            Hi argentandsable and welcome to the blog.