DT 26040

Daily Telegraph Cryptic No 26040

Hints and tips by Gazza

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

BD Rating – Difficulty *** Enjoyment ***

Today’s puzzle is fairly straightforward, but with not a great deal to get the pulses racing or bring a smile to the lips. It contains two place names, a girl’s name and a surname, but for all of them the wordplay is pretty undemanding.
As always we’d be delighted to get your comments, whether from experienced solvers or those dipping their toe in the water for the first time.

Across Clues

1a  Child’s play, teatime indulgence? (5,2,4)
{PIECE OF CAKE} – double definition – a popular phrase meaning something very easy (child’s play), and a slice of Battenburg or Madeira, say, with your afternoon tea.

7a  Hill by church, source of light (5)
{TORCH} – put together TOR (hill) and CH (church) to get a source of illumination.

8a  Triumphant figure, nut heard with gold (9)
{CONQUEROR} – start with a sound-alike (heard) of CONKER (nut) and add OR (gold) to produce a triumphant figure.

10a  A guard at ease beginning to linger by steps? (7)
{GRADUAL} – an anagram (at ease) of A GUARD is followed by the first letter (beginning to) of Linger to form an adjective meaning progressing slowly and regularly (by steps).

11a  Territory kept by brigand or racketeer (7)
{ANDORRA} – this principality in the Pyrenees is hidden (kept by) in brigAND OR RAcketeer.

12a  I had associated with Greek character, not a cretin (5)
{IDIOT} – put together ID (I’d, I had) and IOTa (the ninth letter of the Greek alphabet, without the final a (not a)) to produce a synonym for cretin.

13a  Splendid fish found by Scot with time (9)
{BRILLIANT} – a charade of BRILL (a European flatfish), IAN (Scot – it is a crossword convention that all Scottish males are called Ian or Mac, just as all Welshmen are named Dai and all Germans are called Otto or Hans) and T(ime) produces an adjective meaning splendid.

16a  Man, foremost of scholars, entering sign for reference work? (9)
{THESAURUS} – put HE (man) and S (first letter, i.e. foremost, of Scholars) inside (entering) TAURUS (sign of the zodiac) to get this useful reference work. ‘Why is there no synonym for Thesaurus?’ ranks alongside ‘Why is there only one Monopolies Commission?’ in the list of unanswered philosophical questions.

18a  A little money to acquire bit of tasty sauce (5)
{PESTO} – a little money is PESO (the monetary unit of several Latin American countries) – put inside this (to acquire) the first letter (bit) of Tasty to get an Italian sauce, typically served with pasta (7d maybe?).

19a  Wise figure recorded in file terribly dishonest fellow? (3,4)
{LOW LIFE} – put OWL (wise figure – the owl has this reputation for being wise, probably because it looks studious, but it actually has a relatively small brain and is not as smart as a goose, a crow or a raven) inside (recorded in) an anagram (terribly) of FILE to get a term for a dishonest fellow (when this term applies to a single individual, as opposed to a class or mass of people, Chambers has it as a single word rather than two).

22a  Woman, a second bewitching singer making comeback (7)
{NERISSA} – this woman’s name is formed from A, S(econd) and SIREN (bewitching singer whose seductive songs lured sailors to their deaths on rocks). Reverse the whole lot (making comeback).

23a  Grand course mostly, site of disturbance? (9)
{EPICENTRE} – put together EPIC (grand in scale) and ENTRÉe (most of a course) to get the point on the earth’s surface directly above the origin of an earthquake.

24a  Reach top beside yard looking off colour (5)
{PEAKY} – combine PEAK (reach top) and Y(ard) to produce an adjective meaning looking off colour.

25a  Backing – but not what driver wants? (11)
{ENDORSEMENT} – double definition, the second being the dreaded three (or more) points on your driving licence.

Down Clues

1d  Spread exciting VIP as ever (9)
{PERVASIVE} – an anagram (exciting) of VIP AS EVER produces an adjective which means spreading rather than spread (but a VIP would not get excited about a spreading!).

2d  Wear out part of car? (7)
{EXHAUST} – double definition.

3d  Noted weapon, a club Rex and I toyed with (9)
{EXCALIBUR} – the name of King Arthur’s sword is produced from an anagram (toyed with) of A CLUB REX and I.

4d  Fellow supported by lawyer and actor once (5)
{FONDA} – fellow is F – add ON (supported by, in a down clue) and DA (District Attorney, lawyer) and you get the surname of Henry, one of the great screen actors, who was the patriarch of an acting family including children Jane and Peter and granddaughter Bridget. Now, would you rather see a picture of old Hank or young Jane? – hmm, difficult choice!

5d  Deal devised about series in Sussex town (7)
{ARUNDEL} – an anagram (devised) of DEAL is put around (about) RUN (series) to get the name of a small market town in West Sussex where the Dukes of Norfolk have traditionally kept their seat. Locals are known as Mullets, because of the fish found in the local river rather than their hairstyles.

6d  Troublesome youth ignoring leader’s mistake (5)
{ERROR} – a troublesome youth is a young tERROR – drop the T (ignoring leader) to get a mistake.

7d  Cooking late, I’ll get a food from Italy (11)
{TAGLIATELLE} – an anagram (cooking) of LATE I’LL GET A produces this pasta in narrow ribbons.

9d  Not a liberal answer given by Arkansas youth originally (11)
{REACTIONARY} – put together REACTION (answer), AR (official abbreviation for Arkansas) and Y (first letter, originally, of youth) to get someone who is no liberal.

14d  False representation of Dennis and Eric missing daughter (9)
{INSINCERE} – an anagram (representation) of dENNIS and ERIC (with the D for daughter dropped) means false. I haven’t a clue what the surface reading is meant to be saying.

15d  Fool mistakenly taints aide (9)
{ASSISTANT} – start with ASS (fool) and add an anagram (mistakenly) of TAINTS to get an aide.

17d  Flavouring I notice in a new starter for dinner (7)
{ANISEED} – put I SEE (I notice) between A N(ew) and the first letter (starter for) of Dinner.

18d  Item in butcher’s story (4,3)
{PORK PIE} – double definition – a tasty snack that you may buy in a butcher’s is also cockney rhyming slang for a lie (story).

20d  Ruse mentioned for a period (5)
{WHILE} – a homophone (mentioned) of WILE (ruse or trick) is a period of time.

21d  Go in among salesmen terrified (5)
{ENTER} – a verb meaning to go in is hidden (among) salesmEN TERrified.

The clues I liked today included 25a and 18d, but my clue of the day is 1a. Do you agree or disagree? – leave a comment about this or any other matter, and please remember to grade the puzzle by clicking on one of the stars below.



  1. Vince
    Posted September 22, 2009 at 11:33 am | Permalink

    16a. And “Why doesn’t PALINDROME read the same backwards?”. or “Why is DYSLEXIA such a difficult word to spell?”, and so on. However, the Monopolies (and Mergers) Commission was replaced in 1999 by the Competition Commission, so the joke’s a little outdated!

    1d. I agree with you re “spreading”.

    favourite clue was probably 18d, but, overall, nothing to get too excited about!

  2. Nubian
    Posted September 22, 2009 at 11:40 am | Permalink

    Enjoyed it all

  3. Yoshik
    Posted September 22, 2009 at 11:56 am | Permalink

    Whist it would be wrong to say this was a 1a, it certainly was not too taxing.

    I for one believe this level, or indeed yesterday’s level is necessary as gives confidence to people who joining the ranks of the more addicted addicts.

    • gazza
      Posted September 22, 2009 at 12:08 pm | Permalink

      I agree. Now that the Telegraph has the Toughie, it can, or should be able to, cater for both the novice and the experienced solver. It’s just a pity that there’s no Toughie on Mondays, when the Cryptic is often the easiest of the week.

  4. nanaglugglug
    Posted September 22, 2009 at 12:16 pm | Permalink

    Enjoyed this – quite a lot of anagrams which are my personal favourites!

  5. Andy
    Posted September 22, 2009 at 12:47 pm | Permalink

    Enjoyed this, although 22ac and 4d gave me problems today just didn’t read them properly. As to the level of difficulty of this crossword, I feel I still need these easier ones they help with learning how the clue should be read which in turn helps me when it comes to doing the more harder cryptics. Still haven’t got around to doing a Toughie yet, concentrating too much on the cryptic.

  6. Prolixic
    Posted September 22, 2009 at 1:09 pm | Permalink

    I found this one of those odd puzzles where my first “get the obvious ones” attempt yielded only a handful of answers and then I more or less completed it on the second reading (in less time than yesterday’s crossword). My favourite was 17d

    In respect of 1 down if you read “spread” as a good meal, the VIP might get excited. It reminds me of the story of a former Bishop of London who, when asked to say grace at a formal meal, would look to see if there were any champagne glasses. If there were, he would begin “O, most gracious Lord…”. If they were absent, grace would begin “We are not worthy to receive these, the least of thy mercies.”

    • gazza
      Posted September 22, 2009 at 1:20 pm | Permalink

      That’s how I read ‘spread’ – my argument is that, to match the answer, it ought to be ‘spreading’ but, if it were, the surface reading would not work.
      I liked your bishop joke!!

      • Paul
        Posted September 22, 2009 at 2:21 pm | Permalink

        Ah, but to be 1d it need not be spreading, it is much more likely – if it is 1d – to have been spread already.

        • gazza
          Posted September 22, 2009 at 2:32 pm | Permalink

          The Oxford Dictionary of English gives:
          pervasive adjective (especially of an unwelcome influence or physical effect) spreading widely throughout an area or a group of people.

  7. Andy
    Posted September 22, 2009 at 1:13 pm | Permalink

    ok about to do a toughie, is it slightly harder or easier than a cryptic or just different? Emm apologies if on wrong part.

    • gazza
      Posted September 22, 2009 at 1:18 pm | Permalink

      The wordplay is normally a bit more challenging in the Toughie, and overall, as you’d expect, it tends to be harder. But they vary from day to day, and today’s is a good one to start on.
      Good luck!

    • Posted September 22, 2009 at 1:18 pm | Permalink

      Some of the constructs used in a Toughie would not usually be in the regular cryptic. Although today’s is relatively easy, that does not mean easy in daily terms! Try to do as much as you can on your own, and crib a few selected answers when you get stuck.

      • Andy
        Posted September 22, 2009 at 1:23 pm | Permalink

        Thanks for the reply. Yeah I prefer to do as much on my own and then then write down beside crossword how many I still have to do before I go looking for help on here.

      • Greenhorn
        Posted September 22, 2009 at 8:00 pm | Permalink

        Having reached the stage where I can do about 3/4 of the back page crossword quite quickly (though don’t often get the rest out) ., I thought I’d try the toughie.
        After 30 mins only had 13d out. It’s a quantum leap in difficulty!

    • Libellule
      Posted September 22, 2009 at 1:21 pm | Permalink

      Todays Toughie is on a par with today’s cryptic I would say.

  8. bigboab
    Posted September 22, 2009 at 1:57 pm | Permalink

    Quite enjoyable, I liked 22a.

  9. sarumite
    Posted September 22, 2009 at 3:01 pm | Permalink

    Several fairly obvious anagrams provided a good platform, making it reasonably straightforward to complete the grid today, but I still found it quite enjoyable.

    Favourite clues probably 8a and 19a, whilst 6d reads well.

    4d Is there really any need to ask gazza, you’ve made the right choice!!

  10. Barrie
    Posted September 22, 2009 at 3:13 pm | Permalink

    Nice puzzle today but would take issue defining a conker as a nut. My dictionery defines a conker as the fruit of the chestnut tree.

    • gazza
      Posted September 22, 2009 at 3:24 pm | Permalink

      I seem to remember Stephen Fry confusing the panel, and me, totally with a question about fruits and nuts on QI.
      The Oxford Dictionary of English gives:
      conker British the hard,shiny dark brown nut of a horse chestnut tree.

      • Libellule
        Posted September 22, 2009 at 3:30 pm | Permalink

        horse chestnut – a smooth, brown, bitter seed or nut.

  11. Shamus
    Posted September 22, 2009 at 5:24 pm | Permalink

    Many thanks for the blog and comments. The feedback is very helpful. Re 1d, my Oxford Dictionary Thesaurus and Wordpower Guide gives “widespread” as a synonym of “pervasive” so I think “spread” passes muster. Will try to get into a more pulse-racing mode in future puzzles!

    • gazza
      Posted September 22, 2009 at 6:26 pm | Permalink

      Thanks for dropping in and leaving a comment.

      For those who have not twigged, Shamus is today’s setter.

    • Kev
      Posted September 22, 2009 at 6:55 pm | Permalink

      I appear to be alone in finding 23a the most challenging and enjoyable clue. Had filled in everything else and it was only as I tried each letter of the alphabet for the second letter of the word – do other people use this method as a last resort?? – and arrived at P that the word leapt out at me and from that marvelled at the cleverness of the clue. For me, an enjoyable yet reasonably thought provoking crossword.

    • Toby
      Posted September 22, 2009 at 8:19 pm | Permalink

      Many thanks I enjoyed this one – better that yesterday’s! Us lesser mortals need some obvious clues to keep our interest up. Life can be very demoralising (or should that be with a Z) when you stare blankly for an hour and not get any! ! accross should always be easy so that we are encouraged to give it a go! My pulse races more when I get one right so carry on in the same vein.

      • Toby
        Posted September 22, 2009 at 8:20 pm | Permalink

        Sorry should read 1 across, not ! across

  12. James
    Posted September 22, 2009 at 7:51 pm | Permalink

    As a beginner (in skill, not time spent!) I’m proud to say that I had a personal best today. I only failed to answer 1 (23a) and in actual fact I had come up with the answer, but simply need to learn to spell! Still I’m not counting it, and look forward to my first “full house” :)

  13. Fallingstarr
    Posted September 22, 2009 at 10:35 pm | Permalink

    TECHNICAL HELP NEEDED PLEASE – As of late yesterday I have been unable to access the puzzle grids. Clued up site is no problem. Our main computer is fine but not my lap top. Any suggestions? I haven’t had any trouble in the past apart from the normal screwedup ones.

    • Posted September 22, 2009 at 11:21 pm | Permalink

      The puzzles use Adobe Flash, so you could try reinstalling that from the Adobe site.

      If you look at this site and don’t see the animated display then that is almost certainly the answer.


      • Fallingstarr
        Posted September 22, 2009 at 11:57 pm | Permalink

        Thanks for that – I’ll give it a go. I don’t see any animated things on this site – in fact never have!

        • Posted September 23, 2009 at 12:10 am | Permalink

          I was referring to the Adobe site!

          • Fallingstarr
            Posted September 23, 2009 at 12:23 am | Permalink

            Oh! Reinstalled it but no difference. Mozilla works so panic attack over and happy now. Strange Mozilla works and not Explorer…….

            • Libellule
              Posted September 23, 2009 at 8:11 am | Permalink

              I would consider that a good thing.