DT 26044 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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DT 26044

Daily Telegraph Cryptic No 26044

God Save the Nina!

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

I think I shall start this review by introducing you to a new word. Or at least a word whose meaning you are not familiar with. NINA. What is it, O wise one, you ask? Well, gentle reader, it’s a word that has been adapted by crossword setters to mean something hidden in a crossword that you may not be aware of. Quite a few puzzles have Ninas, although you’d never know if you were not looking for them.

The Nina is actually named after the daughter of American artist Al Hirschfeld, who would hide things in his drawings that are related to Nina, his daughter. And so crossword setters happily nicked the idea for their puzzles as well. Some contain little messages like HAPPY BIRTHDAY or suchlike around the perimeter or in the rows between the answers. Sometimes some of the answers are linked in a sort of private joke. Some of you may know that I compile puzzles for the Independent General Knowledge Jumbo series (as Harbinger, I’m in this Saturday’s paper by the way!) and in July, a puzzle of mine read HAPPY BIRTHDAY BERYL across the top, as a tribute to my lovely sister who was celebrating her birthday on the day it was published. The Sunday Telegraph recently had a General Knowledge puzzle where a lot of the answers were the names of Toughie Crossword compilers. The Telegraph Crossword actually has a sort of famous history of Ninas going back to World War II, where the then setter Leonard Dawe published several puzzles that inadvertently contained the top secret codenames of the D-Day beaches just before the landings happened, and he was hauled in for questioning.   Although that article says it was coincidence, Dawe was a teacher and used to encourage his pupils, some of whom were sons of RAF Officers, to supply words for him to put in the puzzles.

Anyway, back to 2009. Last Saturday’s puzzle was a tribute to our very own Big Dave and this site, and while it is tempting to think of our host as a dementia-ridden nun who likes to sing God Save The Queen, I think that would have been going a bit too far. Although Mrs BD may like to produce evidence!

This was quite a nice puzzle and certainly an improvement on the previous week. There were some lovely clues and as I solved it, I began to see one or two things appearing. So let’s have a look….

Don’t forget to vote on it at the end of the blog by clicking on the star rating, and have your say in the comment boxes at the very end. Newer posters sometimes take a little while for their posts to appear as their posts are moderated.

1a    Man welcome after daybreak (4)
DAVE – Our hero. D – Daybreak. The outbreak of D, I suppose. This unfortunately is one of the more contentious clues. There’s a bit of controversy within crosswords as to whether Minehead could equal M, or Birkenhead equal B. Here technically it means the break of day which should mean it’s an anagram of DAY, which it isn’t. So it’s D + AVE, which here is supposed to mean “welcome”. It doesn’t in my Chambers. It means “hail” or “greetings”, not welcome as such. There’s a phrase ‘ave atque vale’ which means “hail and farewell”.

3a    Rock’s returned, being oversized (3)
BIG – The Rock is the nickname for Gibraltar (often shortened to GIB) and this is reversed to get BIG.

5a    Professional knocker? (6)
CRITIC –     A cryptic definition for another word which could be associated with this site.

8a    In the tube a constant light (6)
BEACON – A hidden answer ..the tube a constant….

9a    Detain me, struggling with deteriorating mental state (8)
DEMENTIA – An anagram of DETAIN ME gives a name for failing mental capacity.

10a    Lecturer found amongst fancy regalia in arcade (8)
GALLERIA – Quite a tricky one. At first I messed up and went for GALLERIE, which held me back briefly on 4 down.

11a    Spoke about Darius (6)
RADIUS – I was surprised to see a number of solvers having problems with this clue. “About” can mean a reversal, but it can also be an anagram indicator, as it is here. An anagram of DARIUS produces a line in a circle.

12a    Permit Oriental seller of alcohol (8)
LICENSEE – License = permit + E Oriental, eastern.

13a    Old orator cooking rice in company (6)
CICERO – A name from my Latin classes under the marvellous tuition of Mr Burrows. An anagram of RICE inside CO (short for company) gives you a famous Roman orator and historian.

15a    Man coming first (6)
VICTOR – A cryptic definition ( or you could read it as a double definition) for someone who wins or comes first, plus MAN could be used to suggest you are looking for a name.

18a    Space, it stops one hitting the roof (8)
HEADROOM – One of those clues that is a double definition but half of it is a cryptic definition. Space = HEADROOM and the remainder is a cryptic description of it.

20a    Lose many a Scottish island! (6)
MISLAY – Lose is the definition. M = many a + Scotish island = ISLAY, an island famous for its whisky.

21a    First two questioning sprite about one making witty remarks (8)
QUIPSTER – First two (of) questioning = QU +     an anagram of SPRITE. I personally think PRIEST would have been better and made the clue seem more real.

23aFour arranging travel outside using three regulators (8)
TRIVALVE – IV (four) inside an anagram of TRAVEL gives a description of a vehicle using three circulatory methods .

24a    Flier cut in in old car (6)
JALOPY – LOP (cut) inside JAY (flier)

25a    Comedian Tommy without daughter in the Potteries (6)
HANLEY – The comedian is Tommy Handley star of the radio show ITMA – It’s That Man Again. I heard it on BBC7 a couple of years back and was surprised we won the war listening to his humour. Take D (daughter) out of his name and you get a town in the Potteries, or part of the village that’s Home to our Hero.

26a    Number one French devout woman (3)
NUN – N = Number + UN (one [in] French)

27a    Young lover losing independent bird (4)
SWAN – SWAIN minus I (independent). More links to Our Hero.


1d    Remove trousers held inside baggage (5)
DEBAG – Hidden answer: “inside baggage”

2d    Beat fast time — splendid (9)
EXCELLENT – EXCEL (beat) + LENT (fast time / time for fasting)

3d    Benjamin’s taking time up in old Indian city (7)
BENARES – BEN’S (short for Benjamin’s) – really should have said shortly- with ERA (time) reversed (up) inside.

4d    A song that’s guaranteed to get you on your feet (3,4,3,5)
GOD SAVE THE QUEEN – A cryptic definition for the National Anthem, for which you always stand, don’t you? I can’t stand our national dirge. Much better is the jolly and cheerful Italian one.

5d    Cambridge runner places most of block on material (7)
CAMBRIC – Runners like flowers in CrosswordLaLaLand mean rivers. So you need a river in Cambridge and add on to it most of a building material (BRIC[K]).

6d    One in island race with rodents or birds (7)
TITMICE – An Island (Isle of Man) race is TT (The Tourist Trophy, as in motorcycle races) with I (One) inside + MICE (rodents) to give the names for a country bird or two.

7d    Many a girl has opportunity to learn here (9)
CLASSROOM) C (Many) + LASS (a girl, let’s forget the “a” today) + ROOM (opportunity).

12d    0-0 draw, it’s not an arranged marriage (4,5)
LOVE-MATCH – Cryptic definitions for a romantic tryst.

14d    Going round loch scaryish sort of pupa (9)
CHRYSALIS – L (loch) with an anagram (sort of) of SCARYISH around it.

16d Relinquishing tax charge (7)
CESSION – This held me up for ages. I was convinced it was a spectacular poor clue for CUSHION. I personally don’t like ION = charge, it doesn’t quite mean that. CESS (Tax) see Chambers.

17d    Monarch’s fee? (7)
ROYALTY – A cryptic definition for the Public Lending Right , or the money paid to the Performing Rights Society.

19d    An offer 31 days afterwards for African port (7)
ABID JAN – A BID (An offer) + JAN (31 days, sucks teeth)

22d    Ronald always content with the material (5)
RAYON – RON (Ronald) with AY (always) inside.

Enjoyabe stuff. I am in the middle of a few days much-needed R & R and will be back next week. See you then.

5 comments on “DT 26044

  1. Stll don’t like 16d after your explanation (I didn’t get it). As you say ION is not a charge as such and surely reliquishing is the wrong tense for the answer? Didn’t get 25a either, too young (and ignorant?)

    Enjoyed it but tackled it after your intro above and thought there would be more NINAs than there were.

  2. 1A: My shiny new Oxford Dictionary of English (on offer at WH Smiths at present, though the same price on Amazon) has “literary: a shout of welcome or farewell” for ave, so welcome is good enough for me. Daybreak is dawn and therefore the beginning of day, innit?

  3. The Sunday Telegraph crossword mentioned contained 17 compilers out of 32 answers. Nine were Toughie setters and another eight from various papers. Two were rather obscure, one was Hamamelis who, like me, has had only one crossword in the Listener. Hamamelis was one of the first people I met at the first Listener Dinner I attended. The other obscure one is (the late Alan) Cash, A Daily Telelgraph compiler for many years.

    1. Cephas

      Many thanks for confirming that. The puzzle was GK No 874 (Sunday 16th August).

      We managed to find all 17 between us

      Busman *
      Campbell *
      Cephas *
      Citrus *
      Columba *
      Elgar *
      Micawber *
      Osmosis *
      Shamus *

      Those asterisked have set Toughies, although Columba has not had one published since the blog started.

      For those who haven’t realised, Cephas is the regular Saturday setter and DT 26044 is one of his.

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