September 2009 – Page 2 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog

DT 26043

Daily Telegraph Cryptic No 26043

Hints and tips by Gazza

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

It’s Friday already and we have another gem from our usual Friday setter, full of immaculately constructed clues with a few chuckles thrown in. I debated whether to give this three or four stars for difficulty, and ended up with four. I’m sure we’ll get comments ranging from “easiest of the week” to “total nightmare” – please do continue to give us your views; it’s the variety of comments that makes the blog so interesting!

As usual the answers are hidden inside the curly brackets – highlight the white space if you want to reveal them.

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DT 26038

Daily Telegraph Cryptic No 26038

The Big Ones Get Away!

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BD Rating – Difficulty *** Enjoyment **

Having been a solver for many years, I always looked forward to Saturday’s puzzles. Each paper usually offered you more than one puzzle, and invariably, the puzzle you got on a Saturday was something special. Sadly I don’t feel that magic with the Telegraph puzzle. It’s an OK challenge, but I don’t get to feel the magic that you get with other papers and setters. This week’s contained a couple of good clues, but they were taken down by the two long answers in the centre. Both were clued with cryptic definitions, and while you could argue one was reasonable, I simply had not heard of the expression, and the other struck me as too remote and obscure to lead to the answer. The grid itself didn’t help with the centre almost isolated. I recognised the across answer, but had to guess at the down one. Even an anagram might have helped a bit.

Anyway, whine over, off we go. Your comments as to how you coped with the puzzle are welcomed.

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Toughie 222

Toughie No 222 by Excalibur

You Pays Your Money……

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BD Rating – Difficulty **** Enjoyment **

I subscribe on a monthly basis to Telegraph Crosswords which means I pay £60 a year for my puzzles.

However, It’s days like today that I wonder why I bothered. When I was a lot younger my mum and dad used to get the Weekend Magazine, which was I suppose the Hello or OK!! of its day. A heady mix of salubrious celebrity tittle tattle and some rather curious adverts that baffled a prepubescent teenager and one of its features was The Stinker Crossword set by our setter today, described as being the toughest of its kind. As someone who had become spellbound by cryptic crosswords I could only look at it and wait for the solution to see what was going on. Even when I saw the solution, a lot of what I saw bemused me, and I waited until my dear old Latin Master spent lunchtimes explaining the magic of cryptics to me using the Guardian, Times and Telegraph. In all honesty, this puzzle might as well have been from that era given the language of the cluewriting and the words used. For the first 60 minutes today, I couldn’t work out a single clue. It’s rather strange as I tackle the Listener, Azed and Enigmatic Variations on a regular basis and can usually make a decent start, even if I don’t always finish it without resorting to dictionaries.

It is very noticeable that this setter seems to like using grids that contain answers with the minimum of checking letters and here we have another grid like that with ten of the answers having less than 50% of their letters intersecting. This means you can end up trying to guess and answer from a pattern such as * I *E * I * C*. Grossly unfair. The surface readings and accepted devices seem to be happily sacrificed at the altar of fairness. The Monday Maestro consistently manages to provide good surface readings and accurate cluemanship. Here it is not a case of hitting the bullseye, but just about scraping the outside of the target in quite a number of instances.

There are some decent clues in this puzzle, but they are outweighed by the puzzle’s inadequacies, of which there are many. There are a couple of answers where I have used my solving aid called TEA, and would not have finished without it, as I cannot make out the way the clue works. I am sure my esteemed colleagues will make more sense of those clues.

I don’t mind a tough challenge, but this is not tough, just inadequate.

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DT 26042

Daily Telegraph Cryptic No 26042

Hints and tips by Libellule

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BD Rating – Difficulty *** Enjoyment ***

I came to appreciate this crossword more when I started writing up the blog, than when I actually did it. For once I can’t really complain about anagram indicators, except for 10a where I was a little unsure which one is supposed to do the job, but eventually decided on display.  Otherwise this is a gentle work out for the grey cells, having a good mix of clue types, and clues that vary from being quite simple to others that are more complicated.

As usual feel free to comment and dicuss what you thought of today’s offering.

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Toughie 221

Toughie No 221 by Shamus
Pulses and Smiles

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

When I wrote the review of yesterday’s Cryptic I said that it was pretty straightforward but with not a great deal to get the pulses racing or bring a smile to the lips. I did not know at the time of writing that it was by Shamus, who later left a tongue-in-cheek comment to the effect that he would try to get into a more pulse-racing mode in future puzzles. Imagine my surprise when the Toughie I have to review the very next day is by the same setter, and, as good as his word, he’s included a number of challenging and amusing clues.
We appreciate all the contributions that you make, so please take the time to leave a comment and tell us what you thought of the puzzle or the review.

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DT 26041

Daily Telegraph Cryptic No 26041

One Banana, Two Banana, Three Banana Four…….

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BD Rating – Difficulty ** Enjoyment: ***

Greetings from the rain-kissed paradise that is the Calder Valley.  A nice friendly puzzle  that shouldn’t cause too much trouble to newer solvers, although a couple of clues require a careful reading of the words.  I also thought there were rather a lot of anagrams (eleven actually, especially of short words and five out of the first six clues), which can suggest a little laziness on behalf of the setter, although here the surface readings of clues are generally very good.

As usual, the answers are  “hidden” inside the curly brackets.  Highlighting them will reveal all.  At the end of the blog, you can click on the star rating to show your opinion on the puzzle, and of course, you are welcome to have your say at the end and newer posters should note that their first posts sometimes take a little while to appear due to having to be moderated to check for spammers.

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Toughie 220

Toughie No 220 by Warbler

Four Play

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BD Rating – Difficulty ** Enjoyment ***

Not a particularly difficult Toughie today and generally enjoyable, in fact the kind of Toughie that all solvers of the normal daily Telegraph cryptic crossword should try. There are (for me) a couple of new words. However I did find the grid a little strange with what seemed like a large number of four letter answers spread all around the edge, but then maybe that’s just me.

As ever please feel free to leave a comment.

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DT 26040

Daily Telegraph Cryptic No 26040

Hints and tips by Gazza

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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.

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DT 26039

Daily Telegraph Cryptic No 26039

Hints and tips by Big Dave

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BD Rating – Difficulty *** Enjoyment ***

Yet another relatively easy puzzle from Rufus to get the week off to a good start.

Big Dave Towers seems strangely empty today as the 3-litre Capri Ghia that we have owned for the last 23 years, 15 of which it spent motionless in the carport, went off to a new home yesterday.

Capri Ghia

Leave a comment telling us what you thought. You can also add your assessment by selecting from one to five stars at the bottom of the post.

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ST 2502 – Hints

Sunday Telegraph Cryptic No 2502 – Hints

Selected hints by Big Dave

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

I was surprised that Peter Biddlecombe thought that last Sunday’s puzzle was quite easy, but then he is a former Times Crossword Champion.  I found this one moderately difficult but very enjoyable.  I have added a few hints, but I rather expect that some of you may be struggling with a number of these clues.

Don’t forget that you can give your assessment of the puzzle. Five stars if you thought it was great, one if you hated it, four, three or two if it was somewhere in between.

As is usual for the weekend prize crosswords, I will select a few of the better clues and provide hints for them.

Peter Biddlecombe’s full review of this puzzle will be published at 12.00 on Friday, 25th September.

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