DT 26055

Daily Telegraph Cryptic No 26055

Hints and tips by Gazza

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

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

It was all a bit like groundhog day. There was I, relaxing over a late breakfast and wrestling with today’s Toughie, when I got a message from Libellule saying that his communication problems have resurfaced so that he could not do the review. So I’m afraid that you’re stuck with me again.
Not that reviewing a Giovanni puzzle is ever a chore – it’s well up to his usual standard, so that means some excellent surface readings with a number of smiles, not to say guffaws.
We’d be delighted to get your comments as usual.

Across Clues

1a  Professional dream, a learner becoming qualified (11)
{PROVISIONAL} – a charade of PRO(fessional), VISION (dream), A and L(earner) leads to an adjective meaning subject to restrictions or qualified.

10a  Singer is almost impish (5)
{ELVIS} – the name of the erstwhile King forms most of ELVIS(h).

11a  Salt a runner used in run? (9)
{CYCLAMATE} – put A MAT (a runner, or strip of carpet) inside CYCLE (run, series) to get a salt of a synthetic acid which is a cyclohexyl derivative of sulphuric acid. These were once used as sugar-substitutes. If yesterday’s review is anything to go by I should now stand by for comments from many people who know what all this means, telling me that I’ve got it all wrong!

12a  Wind creates a stir, blowing around lots of paper (9)
{AIRSTREAM} – put together an anagram (blowing around) of A STIR and add REAM (a lot of sheets of paper) to get a synonym for wind.

13a  Group of eight a bit behind the commanding officer (5)
{OCTAD} – place TAD (a bit) after OC (officer commanding) to get a group of eight.

14a  Innocent youngster with old-fashioned haircut, a Greek character (6)
{LAMBDA} – an innocent youngster is a LAMB –add DA (duck’s arse, a man’s hairstyle of the 1950s named after the rear end of a duck, because of the way it tapered) and you get  a Greek letter.

16a  Following Descartes, first to go off as well (8 )
{ARTESIAN} – a follower of the ideas of the philosopher René Descartes is a Cartesian – drop the first letter (first to go off) and you are left with a type of well.

18a  No-nonsense tactics, an element of cricket (8 )
{HARDBALL} – double definition – a ruthless and uncompromising approach (no nonsense tactics) is also a description of the type of projectile used in cricket.

20a  Feel sad about performer finally getting the bird (6)
{REGRET} – a verb meaning to feel sad about is constructed from the last letter (finally) of performeR followed by EGRET (a type of heron).

23a  Beast making speed to lake (5)
{RATEL} – this badger-like mammal is formed from RATE (speed) and L(ake).

24a  So the Engineers must come to front (9)
{THEREFORE} – a synonym for so is a charade of THE, RE (engineers) and FORE (front).

26a  Trial for stroke-player joining one cricket side (9)
{PROBATION} – a period on trial is formed by running together PRO (for), BAT (batsman, stroke-player), I (one) and ON (the leg side in cricket). The dreaded ON for a cricket side re-appears but at least this time it’s well flagged-up.

27a  God dressed like a tranny, all but (5)
{INDRA} – for those wondering how their old transistor radio could be embellished to look like a god, tranny here is an abbreviation for transvestite, who may appear IN DRAG. Drop the last letter (all but) to leave the name of a Hindu god.

28a  Spy’s target seen moving round about (6,5)
{SECRET AGENT} – an anagram (moving) of TARGET SEEN is put round C (circa, about) to get a spy.

Down Clues

2d  Flower I have found in middle of burrow (5)
{RIVER} – the middle letters of burrow are RR – put I’VE (I have) inside them to get something that flows.

3d  Spent time in place, struggled to get around it (7)
{VISITED} – the definition is spent time in. Put VIED (struggled) around SIT (place).

4d  Holy bag the colour of blood (6)
{SACRED} – a charade of SAC (bag) and RED (the colour of blood) produces a synonym for holy.

5d  Artist arrived in front of audience, being filmed (2,6)
{ON CAMERA} – the definition is being filmed, and to be get it you need to rearrange RA (Royal Academician, hence artist), CAME (arrived) and ON (performing, in front of audience). Unless I’m missing something, there does not appear to be anything in the clue to define the right order for the three bits.

6d  Sailor away from other crew members finds gastropod (7)
{ABALONE} – put together AB (able seaman, sailor) and ALONE (away from other crew members) to get an edible shellfish.

7d  Shedding pounds to improve one’s mood? (6,7)
{RETAIL THERAPY} – a tongue-in-cheek cryptic definition of shopping as a cure for depression.

8d  More miserable friend, one having a go (8 )
{PALTRIER} – a charade of PAL (friend) and TRIER (one making an attempt, having a go) produce a comparative meaning of poorer quality (more miserable).

9d  A new lady involved with eight acting as pioneers (7,3,3)
{LEADING THE WAY} – an anagram (involved) of A NEW LADY EIGHT leads to a phrase meaning going ahead or acting as pioneers.

15d  Fellow trapping rodent, house task taking time (8 )
{MARATHON} – the definition is task taking time, and you need to put MAN (fellow) outside (trapping) RAT (rodent) and HO(use).

17d  Fool greeting monarch — man among the duds? (8 )
{CLOTHIER} – another charade – this time of CLOT (fool), HI (greeting) and ER (monarch) – produces someone who makes or sells clothes (duds).

19d  Poem able to stir boy within (7)
{BALLADE} – an anagram (to stir) of ABLE with LAD (boy) inside (within) gives us a type of poem.

21d  Ironing that comes late in the day (7)
{EVENING} – double definition, the first a cryptic reference to smoothing clothes (ironing).

22d  After gym a silly person gets a bit of food (6)
{PEANUT} – gym is PE (physical education) – add A NUT (a silly person).

25d  Ancient cave? Look up at the top of it (5)
{OLDEN} – a word for ancient is made from DEN (cave) with LO (look) reversed (up) at the top of it.

I liked 14a and 27a but my clue of the day has to be 7d. What do you think? – please leave a comment.


  1. Barrie
    Posted October 9, 2009 at 11:47 am | Permalink | Reply

    Congratulations to todays setter, I have failed to solve a single clue! I hope the experienced puzzlers amongst you enjoy this horror, the rest of us mere mortals will wait for Saturdays which is always encouraging.

    • mary
      Posted October 9, 2009 at 4:52 pm | Permalink | Reply

      I agree with you Barrie, i didn’t get the paper til late and i am really struggling to get started, i think this should be a toughie :(

      • newtocryptic
        Posted October 9, 2009 at 5:43 pm | Permalink | Reply

        I’m with you two. I have come straight to the comments having seen Gazza’s *** difficulty. I normally agree with his ratings but this one is way out IMO. I am about half way through but really struggling, I will give it another half hour but suspect I’m going to need the hints to get much further

        • newtocryptic
          Posted October 10, 2009 at 9:45 am | Permalink | Reply

          Saturday morning and after another go at yesterday’s puzzle I have to apologise to Gazza and Giovanni for saying that it was too difficult as once I had cracked a couple of key clues everything else dropped into place leaving me feeling very satisfied. Going out now to buy Saturday’s paper!

          • Prolixic
            Posted October 10, 2009 at 9:57 am | Permalink | Reply

            It’s often the case that if you get completely stumped with the crossword, put it to one side and come back to it later on, clues that seemed baffling suddenly become clear. I’ve heard (rightly or wrongly) that this is because your subconcious is still processing the clues in the background and when you come back to the crossword, the results surface to the concious and things fall into place.

            • gnomethang
              Posted October 10, 2009 at 10:06 am | Permalink | Reply

              I am a firm believer in this. If ever I am struggling in the morning and dont complete on the train I will look at it again at lunch or evening commute and regularly throw 4 – 5 clues in as fast as I can write them.

          • gazza
            Posted October 10, 2009 at 10:05 am | Permalink | Reply

            No apology needed, newtocryptic (to me at any rate).
            I suspect that those people who liked this one won’t like Saturday’s and vice versa!

          • Jane
            Posted October 10, 2009 at 10:04 pm | Permalink | Reply

            I too struggled with this on Friday and put it aside until this evening. Now completed it and Saturday’s. Hope you have also.

  2. Vince
    Posted October 9, 2009 at 11:59 am | Permalink | Reply


    We seem to be on the same wavelength, today. I, too, enjoyed this. I also particularly liked 7d. It made me smile, when the penny dropped. Also, I had the same observation on 5d. I got the three elements, then juggled them around until they fit the definition.

  3. Franny
    Posted October 9, 2009 at 12:11 pm | Permalink | Reply

    I agree with Barrie. Today’s was awful. I managed to solve about four clues quite quickly, but then got completely stuck and frustrated. Such a contrast to yesterday’s which I enjoyed enormously.

    As a newcomer to this blog, I’d like to say how much I enjoy reading all the comments and how greatly I appreciate your explanations of the clues — though I hate having to rely on these to finish!

    My favourites today were 14a, 5d and 7d. And incidentally, from yesterday, I knew the word ‘bromide’ meaning a dull person from youthful reading of the novels of Georgette Heyer.

  4. Mari
    Posted October 9, 2009 at 12:17 pm | Permalink | Reply

    I also enjoyed 7D but the images conjured up by 27A made me smile more.

  5. Lea
    Posted October 9, 2009 at 12:36 pm | Permalink | Reply

    I enjoyed this even though it took time to get my first clue. Once I did I was away.

    Enjoyed 13a 24a but my favourite was the same as yours Gazza (and Vince) – 7d. That pasttime has always appealed to me.

    I had to seek your help for 26a – cricketing terms make my mind go blank so I am going to have to do more work on them. Thank you

  6. Prolixic
    Posted October 9, 2009 at 12:55 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Joy, rapture, happiness! If I were a cat I would be purring with pleasure – two Giovanni puzzles in a row. i will go with the flow with 7d as one of the best clues but I also enjoyed 16a. I wonder how many people (including me) began thinking that 13a was OCTET!

    Thanks for the hints Gazza and thank you again to Giovanni for keeping me first bemused then amused and suffused with delight on the journey to work today.

    • Posted October 9, 2009 at 12:58 pm | Permalink | Reply

      13 Guilty for as long as it took to realise that TET is “Vietnamese new year”, not “bit”.

    • newtocryptic
      Posted October 9, 2009 at 5:47 pm | Permalink | Reply

      Yes I also thought OCTET which stopped me getting 9d for ages. I guessed 9d was an anagram but octet gave it a T in the first word which was a killer!

  7. Posted October 9, 2009 at 12:56 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Stumped by 11 as I didn’t know the salt and failed to think of runner=MAT. Also had fun with MAVIS as a dud answer at 10, thinking MAVISH might just mean impish, though managed to think of retail therapy and fix it.

    I don’t think it was as horibly hard as some comments suggest. At 1, PRO??????AL should have been fairly easy to see, 20’s charade is routine and “feel sad about” is hardly deceptive, the anagram in 28 is pretty blatant, 4D’s “Holy bag” shouldn’t fool you for long, and 21D’s double def is routine.

  8. gnomethang
    Posted October 9, 2009 at 1:12 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Hah! 11a was the only one that got me stumped!
    Don’t think I am aware of the word.

  9. Roger
    Posted October 9, 2009 at 1:55 pm | Permalink | Reply

    The most difficult we have attempted for a while. Failed to get haf a dozen answers. However, all the clues seemed fair so it was a good challenge and quite enjoyable.

  10. Lizwhiz
    Posted October 9, 2009 at 2:19 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Thought I was going to be in difficulty today as I read through all the across clues without doing any and only got started on the down ones! Then it was easy! Thoroughly enjoyed it! :)

    • mrpauly
      Posted October 9, 2009 at 2:36 pm | Permalink | Reply

      Funny… I had the exact same experience. Although I wouldn’t go so far as to say it was easy :-)

  11. mrpauly
    Posted October 9, 2009 at 2:34 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Really enjoyed today’s and I tried and tried to complete it without help (even managed to work out those which were new words to me!) but had to concede to defeat with about 6 left. All easy now I see the answer apart from 16a where I was intent on fitting RENE in to the answer somehow.

    20a had me stumped too…. I was looking for a bird by putting ‘feel sad’ about R

  12. Barrie
    Posted October 9, 2009 at 3:43 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Can I say once more that I do not understand the logic of the DT publishing two fiendish crosswords on the same day. For all you guys out there who loved this HORROR, can I suggest you revel in the Toughie and preferably take Giovanni with you.
    I fully realise what a clever setter he is BUT for all but the most experienced he is almost completely incomprehensible and it leave us with no crossword puzzle worth the name on a Friday. Given that the Toughie is available every day, why not give the rest of us a chance to enjoy a crossword a day as well.
    Sorry if this sounds a bit of a diatribe but as you can probably gather I am pretty fed up. This is a wonderful blog that takes a huge amount of work I am sure and we all fully appreciate it and give thanks for the help you guys provide.

    • gazza
      Posted October 9, 2009 at 4:02 pm | Permalink | Reply

      We do know that the Crosswords Editor of the Telegraph sometimes reads the blog, and he has left comments, so he may well see your diatribe, as you describe it.
      I do have some sympathy with you – both the Cryptic and the Toughie tend to get harder towards the end of the week. But if you can complete some Cryptics, I can’t understand how, as you say, you can’t get a single answer in today’s puzzle. I don’t believe the step up is that great – have you tried going through the clues in conjunction with the review, so that you can get into the mindset of the setter?

      • Barrie
        Posted October 9, 2009 at 4:29 pm | Permalink | Reply

        I do that every day with clues if I cannot understand them (I can often finish a clue without fully understanding it!). Believe me I have tried with every one of Giovannis since I have been on this blog and realised who is Fridays setter and still find them pretty nigh incomprehensible. Take 15d for example, where in the clue does it say that you only have to take the first two letters of HOUSE or 11a across which I can barely make out even with Dave’s excellent help or even 28a – finding circa from that clue – give me strength! Monday to Thursday I can generally complete each puzzle and seldom fail to finish Saturdays past a late breakfast, but Fridays – no chance if its one of Giovannis. Obviously his and my mind are realms apart.

        • gazza
          Posted October 9, 2009 at 4:53 pm | Permalink | Reply

          HO is a standard abbreviation for house, and C or CA (short for the latin word Circa) are standard abbreviations for about or approximately. You do get used to these after a while, and Giovanni is not the only setter who makes use of them.

  13. Edi
    Posted October 9, 2009 at 4:21 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Unfortunately didnt have my head on today. some obvious answers i missed but made sense after Gazza’s wise words. thought 16a was very naughty. i am getting used to the cricket references though.
    After a good Cryptic i tend to have a go at the toughie, like i did last night. But after a few hours wrestling i lost a good portion of my hair, is it worth trying todays or shall i preserve my sanity?

    • gazza
      Posted October 9, 2009 at 4:26 pm | Permalink | Reply

      Today’s Toughie is pretty much as advertised, so I would suggest that you do it in conjunction with Big Dave’s review, so that you can to grips with the mindset of the setter.

      • Edi
        Posted October 9, 2009 at 4:35 pm | Permalink | Reply

        Advice noted. Ta Gazza. I’m going in :wink:

  14. Mike Kent
    Posted October 9, 2009 at 4:40 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Thanx 4 the explanations. Got all but 9d (because I had OCTET and not OCTAD
    and wouldn’t have got 16A in a million years – I did metal work !!. Loved Cylamate and retail theraphy like every one else. Look fwd. to your next blog.

  15. Emandan
    Posted October 9, 2009 at 4:40 pm | Permalink | Reply

    At first i thought my routine of completing one then failing dismally was going to continue. When i first looked at todays i got one clue straight away then stared and stared at it not knowing any other answers. All of a sudden it clciked and i filled half of it in in no time at all. had to use a dictionary to check a ciouple of things like is Ratel an animal? can you spell ballad with an e on the end and is elvish a real word. All of which were proved to be correct . didn’t like on camera to start with but realised it had to be that but even then with all the letters in 11a i couldn’t get cyclamate.

    I don’t think it was too hard buti do think this setter takes a good while to get used to

  16. nanaglugglug
    Posted October 9, 2009 at 4:44 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Found this really good, if a bit taxing – liked 10a and 16a.

  17. David Hayes
    Posted October 9, 2009 at 4:53 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Regarding 26055 .5down is ON CAME THE RA (artist on stage- I guess) or on camera

    • gazza
      Posted October 9, 2009 at 7:01 pm | Permalink | Reply

      Hi David and welcome to the blog.

  18. Nubian
    Posted October 9, 2009 at 4:58 pm | Permalink | Reply

    A nice crossword to come home to.

  19. Giovanni
    Posted October 9, 2009 at 5:07 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Thanks for the feedback. I am sorry that Barrie is having such a continuing struggle ( rather surprising really, given that my particular puzzles are not unique in their style or difficulty!). I would recommend that he get hold of Chambers Crossword Manual by Don Manley. I believe it has helped quite a few people with the basics. Just trying to be helpful!

    • Barrie
      Posted October 9, 2009 at 5:12 pm | Permalink | Reply

      Thanks Giovanni, please be assured that my criticisms are not directed at you personally, rather they are a reflection of the frustration I feel when trying to understand your puzzles. I just don;t seem to get them! I have no trouble with all the other setters (give or take) but yours I find so difficult to grasp. I just cannot unravel them, clever though they are. I will certainly take your advice and obtain a copy of the estimable tome, lets hope it helps me get on your wavelength. Just do me a favour, don’t set Saturdays puzzle, I love doing that one!

      • Libellule
        Posted October 9, 2009 at 5:32 pm | Permalink | Reply

        I love it, what chutzpah – Giovanni advertising his own book on the blog. Mind you Big Dave recommends it in the which books section also :-)

        • Barrie
          Posted October 9, 2009 at 5:34 pm | Permalink | Reply

          Too late now, I’ve ordered from Amazon!

        • Posted October 10, 2009 at 10:22 am | Permalink | Reply

          A minor point, but “Which Books” was contributed by Peter Biddlecombe. I do, however, own a copy of the book.

          Apart from Chambers 11th edition, one of the most useful books is Bradford’s Crossword Solver’s Dictionary – read more here.

      • gnomethang
        Posted October 9, 2009 at 7:11 pm | Permalink | Reply

        I wouldn’t get too disheartened, there are compilers that I simply cant get my head around having taken the DT for about 18 yrs. It happens that I ‘get’ Giovanni where a fair few people don’t but then will hit a wall with a puzzle that the majority find straightforward.
        The more exposure the better!.

  20. Dave
    Posted October 9, 2009 at 5:15 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Not a bad puzzle but 11a is dreadful – ‘cycle’ for ‘run’ and ‘mat’ for runner’? Producing a word that most of us have never heard of? Very frustrating indeed!

    • gazza
      Posted October 9, 2009 at 7:04 pm | Permalink | Reply

      Hi Dave and welcome to the blog.
      Cycle means run as in a series of operations.

      • Dave
        Posted October 14, 2009 at 10:38 pm | Permalink | Reply

        Thanks Gazza – sorry for the late reply but I’ve been out of town. That’s still a synonym once removed – at best!

  21. Tomtom
    Posted October 9, 2009 at 5:56 pm | Permalink | Reply

    I am with you all the way Barrie! I came across the site 2 weeks ago; I thought it a great chance to get into cryptic crosswords. Big Dave your explanations are excellent, and they have helped me right up to today, when you have managed to expose my ignorance, especially 13a,16a and 23a. – but I won’t give up.

    • gazza
      Posted October 9, 2009 at 7:05 pm | Permalink | Reply

      Hi TomTom and welcome to the blog.

    • Posted October 10, 2009 at 10:17 am | Permalink | Reply


      Gazza wrote this one, not me.

  22. Greenhorn
    Posted October 9, 2009 at 6:06 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Got about half way through but failed on 11a, 13a , 14a 16a, 18a 26a 6d 7d 8d 15d, 17d , 19d . Filed under too hard.

  23. Toby
    Posted October 9, 2009 at 7:11 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Got half (probably closer to a third) of them but managed to put “weight lifting” in for 7 down. It looked about right in that improving ones mood could have had connotations of lifting and pounds sort of fitted with weight. This made the rest of the puzzle somewhat difficult! I never like the use of really obscure words like 11a. I did science A levels + a degree in science field and have never heard of this word. Whilst I accept it is in the dictionary I don’t think such a word is really in the spirit of things! However, I did think there were some excellent clues and I never mind some puzzles each week that I really struggle on. If I was as good as some of you out there I would get bored. I liked 16a, 27a, 9d and would have liked 7 down had I not put my own version of the answer in!

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