DT 26077

Daily Telegraph Cryptic No 26077

Enjoyable or 5 Down?

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

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

Greetings from the Calder Valley. I think I nearly had a relapse with today’s puzzle. Another grid that I am not too keen on, as you are only offered one way into each corner. With almost 50% of the answers you have neither the first nor last letter, and, with the exception of the two long answers, in the remainder you have only either the first or last letter. This to me adds additional difficulties in solving. The other problem is using the Clued Up software, you don’t automatically see the enumeration if the solution runs across two answer spaces, e.g. 1a and 9a.

As the setter is a very dear friend, I am used to solving some of his puzzles and he does produce some of the toughest around in the variety of dailies he sets for. I suspect here he is an acquired taste for some, and I hope you won’t be put off, particularly as one of the answers gives me a chance to play you one of the funniest pieces of comedy from TV history. If you feel you are quite blank with this, have a look at how one or two of the clues work below (especially the two log ones), and go back to it. I know sometimes when you look at a puzzle and don’t get much in reward, the temptation is to leave it, but persevere, it is worth the effort. If only for solving 20 across which made me smile. The puzzle itself is terrific and contains some wonderful clues.

As usual, you can have your say after the puzzle, and rate the puzzle using the star system. I know all the bloggers love reading what you have to say and it helps us pitch our blogs to you as well. For new visitors, your first comments always have to be moderated to prevent spammers gumming up the works. And if you wish to see the answer, it is hidden between the squiggly brackets at the start of each clue. Simply highlifght that part of the page to view the answer.

And if you do get really stuck, as the man on telly used to say, don’t have nightmares, and another will be along tomorrow, as will I with the Toughie!

Across

1a& 9a    Smoking accommodation? (9,6)
{CIGARETTE HOLDER} A cryptic definition for something beloved of Marje Proops (solvers under 35 may need to Google her). As a lifelong non-smoker, I have never found the need, or seen the need for one!

9a    See 1a

10a    Hip team overseeing one patient identify criminal abuse of Trust? (6,3)
{INSIDE JOB} A word-sum. If something is said to be “hip” it could be said to be this, daddy-o, (IN) + another word for a sporting team (SIDE) + one patient, that is a Biblical character renowned for his patience (JOB). Put together it relates to something said to identify a criminal abuse of trust. To keep the health imagery generated by the clue, the word Trust has a capital (as in Health Trust), but I don’t think it’s strictly necessary here.

11a    Dandy who’s employed to give lectures? (6)
{ADONIS} I like the cleverness of this clue, where every part of it plays a role, including the question mark. “Dandy” is one definition. The other is a question. Who is employed to give lectures (at a university)? Answer: A DON IS!

12a    Trifle with beautiful woman holding a gun (9)
{BAGATELLE} Have seen this clue elsewhere recently. “Trifle” is the definition and you need a word for “a beautiful woman” (BELLE), with a word for “a gun” (A GAT) inside. There are several words for a gun in Crosswordese that come in handy: a GAT is one, as is a PIECE, a STEN or a BREN.

13a    Mate has row in English (6)
{ENDING} Another deceptively clever clue. “Mate” is an ending in chess and is the definition. The clue comprises DIN (row) inside ENG (English).

17a    There’s a film all about her previous 24 hours (3)
{EVE} One of a couple of film references today. This one starred the wonderful Bette Davis. The film is called “All About…” and is also defined as the previous 24 hours.

Here Ms Davis is at her best!

19a    American hero ordering free lunch by rink (11,4)
{HUCKLEBERRY FINN} An anagram of FREE LUNCH BY RINK gives you a fictional hero popular in the US.

20a    Having a spin in car — but I give a couple a lift (3)
{BRA} Naughty old Elgar. A definite Nudge Nudge, Wink Wink clue. It’s a HIDDEN answer but reversed (shown by “spin”) from “in car – but”. The remainder of the clue is a lovely definition!

Especially for gnomethang!- BD

21a    Improve wayward children with no heart (6)
{ENRICH} Take out the “heart” (middle) of CHILDREN, i.e. LD and anagram (wayward) the remainder to get a word meaning improve. Another lovely clue.

25a    Round Thailand hospital is extra unpleasant smell all right, according to regulations? (2,3,4)
{BY THE BOOK} “According to the regulations” is the definition, the remainder is a rather complex word sum. Extra (in cricket, a BYE) around Thailand hospital TH. An unpleasant smell is BO and “all right” is OK.

26a    What Grace will turn into (6)
{BECOME} Luckily, the letters available were B+C+M+, and a check in Bradfords reveals BECOME under “Grace”. I was looking for one of the Greek Graces to start with. It’s a double definition clue with “will turn into” as one of the definitions, and “what Grace” is the other.

27a    Always paced worriedly about islands (4,5)
{CAPE VERDE} An anagram (indicated by worriedly) of “paced” around a word meaning “always” EVER gives you the group of islands in the North Atlantic.

28a& 29a Med waterway with which fantasist is more concerned? (6,2,7)
{STRAIT OF MESSINA} One of the more famous waterways in the Mediterranean which is clued by an anagram of FANTASIST IS MORE. I don’t really like “concerned” as an anagram indicator.

29a    See 28a

Down

2d    Greek writer describing Scots one? (6)
{IONIAN} A word-sum to start the Downs. I (the setter / writer) + ON (describing, about) + IAN (archetypal name for a Scotsman in Crosswordland, although shouldn’t it be IAIN?). The definition is a Greek.

3d    Brutal strike in area that’s up-and-coming (6)
{ANIMAL} A reversal of LAM IN A (strike in area) gives a word meaning brutal.

4d    See former wife, one travelling far and wide on medical programme (6)
{EXETER} Another word to watch in Crosswordland is “See”. It frequently refers to the religious definition of the word meaning “an area of jurisdiction of a Bishop”, often it refers to Ely, BUT NOT HERE. It is the definition and you need to look for another Bishopric. EX (Former wife) + ET (in film one who travelled far and wide) + ER (Medical TV programme, the US equivalent to Casualty).

5d    Smart-Aleck Tory getting involved with lovable chef (3-6-2-4)
{TOO-CLEVER-BY-HALF} An anagram (indicated by “getting involved”) of TORY and LOVABLE CHEF gives a phrase that some of you will utter about this puzzle, and means “Smart Aleck”

6d    Film unlucky one in Duck Soup? (9)
{GOLDENEYE} I think this is a cryptic definition of a James Bond film, and means that if a chef made soup of a Goldeneye, it would be very unlucky for the duck, rather than any Marx Brothers connotations.

7d    Study image in it, in assembly (9)
{IDENTIKIT} The definition is another cryptic definition referring to the old police method of building pictures of criminals. I’m not sure they use it any more, so perhaps a reference to the past would have been helpful. The rest of it is a word sum – DEN (study) + TIKI (an image, often in the form of a large wooden or small greenstone ornament, representing an ancestor, the smaller form being worn in some Polynesian cultures as an amulet or charm – thank you Chambers) inside IT

8d    Group of reporters in Shanghai? (5-4)
{PRESS-GANG} A double definition, both parts of which are sort of cryptic. A group of reporters would be a PRESS GANG, and to Shanghai someone would be to press gang them into doing something.

14d    Performance of Carmen may rest on this (9)
{WHEELBASE} Utterly brilliant! Nothing to do with opera, think mechanics! If you employed some “car men”, then they would probably need a wheelbase to look under your car.

15d    Sporting accumulator — twenty races on the day? (9)
{SCORECARD} Another double definition, where one part is cryptic. A scorecard can contain an accumulation of race results and bets. TWENTY (Score) + CARD (the list of horse races in any one day)

16d    Angry letters following crime (9)
{BLACKMAIL} Angry letters (BLACK + MAIL) gives the name of a crime. This brings me nicely to…..

17d    The decline of electronic books (3)
{EBB} E= Electronic + B B (books). Decline is the definition.

18d    The Days of The Raj (3)
{ERA} A hidden answer, indicated by “of” “The Raj”

22d    This asthmatic may have a cunning plan (6)
{WHEEZE} a DOUBLE DEFINITION. If you are asthmatic, you may have this. A cunning plan in Billy Bunter might be described as this…..

23d    She may get into the habit in order to take charge (6)
{ABBESS} A cryptic definition of the lady in charge of a priory.

24d    Hardly a no-strings-attached roadblock! (6)
{CORDON} A double definition, one part of which is cryptic. If it had a CORD ON, it would have strings attached!

A tough but very enjoyable puzzle, although perhaps a couple of cryptic definitions too much for my liking. I hope you persevere with it and get some enjoyment out of it. See you tomorrow!

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77 Comments

  1. Harry Shipley
    Posted November 4, 2009 at 11:23 am | Permalink

    No, it didn’t do anything for me. As it happened I solved the two long answers (both anagrams!) and the centre square first, so I was left with twelve words with one letter (neither first nor last) each and twelve more with nothing. Though the two answers split between clues did help a little. Added to that we have the “allusion” clues like 6d and 14d, where there is no wordplay, which leaves doubt even when one has got the answer. The Telegraph letting two of its annoying quirks full play at the same time, and by the time I’ve finished I’m fed up with it.

    Harry Shipley

  2. nanaglugglug
    Posted November 4, 2009 at 11:41 am | Permalink

    Hi Tilsit – did you realise that all the answers in brackets are showing? Finding this very tough!!

    • Posted November 4, 2009 at 11:45 am | Permalink

      Mea culpa – will fix asap

  3. mary
    Posted November 4, 2009 at 11:45 am | Permalink

    HI Tilsit, after struggling for nearly 2 hours so far I have read your introduction to this puzzle, to see if it was as hard as i thought it was, to me it is a real toughie, i have not looked at your hints yet and will persevere a while longer, so far i have manged all but 29a of the bottom left corner and 3 of the middle bit i.e. 17a, 17d & 20a also done 5d but that is it, speak again MUCH later :)

    • mary
      Posted November 4, 2009 at 11:47 am | Permalink

      I should have said bottom r.h corner have done none of the left! :(

  4. Vince
    Posted November 4, 2009 at 11:48 am | Permalink

    Didn’t enjoy this at all! Finished it, all but two answers. Second time I haven’t finished it in about six months. Some I guessed at, eg, “Goldeneye”. Even after seeing your explanation, it still doesn’t make sense!

    Purists say that using reference books is cheating, but how many of us have words such as “tiki” (7d) to hand in our vocabulary?

    Too many clues to complain about. Let’s hope that’s the bad one out of the way for this week.

    • Posted November 4, 2009 at 11:53 am | Permalink

      I was given a Tiki as a good luck charm by a former girlfriend when I was at University, but she asked for it back when we split up!

      • mary
        Posted November 4, 2009 at 11:57 am | Permalink

        Goldeneye? is that an answer, I must be really slow today, cant see it even when its given!! :)

        • Posted November 4, 2009 at 12:11 pm | Permalink

          Mary

          it’s a James Bond film and a type of duck.

          • mary
            Posted November 4, 2009 at 12:14 pm | Permalink

            Yes but I still don’t understand the answer Dave, thank you

  5. nanaglugglug
    Posted November 4, 2009 at 12:03 pm | Permalink

    Much too clever for us!! Didn’t really enjoy it – had to use your help far too often!

  6. mary
    Posted November 4, 2009 at 12:13 pm | Permalink

    I gave up today and completed it with your help, i found it much too difficult for myself but daresay others will have enjoyed it, i feel i have wasted a whole morning today, actually did like 5d, started off on the wrong track thinking of Jamie Oliver !! I wonder how the rest of us ‘clueless club’ will feel today???

    • nubian
      Posted November 4, 2009 at 1:39 pm | Permalink

      Mary, Can I join your cluless club ? I feel in need of tlc and I don’t think BD in the one to ask
      22d was my favourite clue but threequarters of the way through I gave up the will to live, It was like reading a foreign language and thst was just the clues, the explanations left me even more bewildered. I going to bed

      • mary
        Posted November 4, 2009 at 2:31 pm | Permalink

        welcome nubian – :)

  7. gnomethang
    Posted November 4, 2009 at 12:17 pm | Permalink

    Maybe it was the bang on the head yesterday but I failed on the duck and the see as well as the dandy.
    I really didn’t like the dandy clue as I have never seen it as a synonym for the answer. I was looking for cops and spivs, not hunks and beefcake. The top right corner spoiled an otherwise pleasant puzzle for me

  8. bigmacsub
    Posted November 4, 2009 at 12:38 pm | Permalink

    Spitefully clever imo

  9. Prolixic
    Posted November 4, 2009 at 12:41 pm | Permalink

    I can see that this is a crossword that people will love or hate. I am in the former category. It took three times as long to solve but it was well worth the effort. It might easily have been set as a Toughie. It is certainly one of the most difficult back page cryptics for some time. My favourite clues were 10a and 11a. In 14d, there might have been some indication that Carmen was being used in a (nicely) outrageous fashion but that did not detract from the puzzle as a whole.

    Many thanks to Elgar for a cryptic with teeth!

    • Posted November 4, 2009 at 12:45 pm | Permalink

      By Elgar’s standards, this is an easy puzzle!!

      • Prolixic
        Posted November 4, 2009 at 12:50 pm | Permalink

        Possibly. However, the last confirmed Elgar (26053) was a walk in the park compared to today’s puzzle and 26053 was not one of the easier daily cryptics. Heaven help us if he comes out all guns blazing for his next treat!

  10. sarumite
    Posted November 4, 2009 at 1:08 pm | Permalink

    I found this tough today, but persevered and eventually got there, and agree some of the clueing was top-notch.
    Was determined not to look for any assistance with answers, but I did need your explanation of the wordplay on one or two:
    4a I realised SEE and had Exeter, but could not “see” ET.
    7a Again needed help with construction .. esp. TIKI.
    25a This was too long winded in my view.
    14d I realised the context of “Carmen” fairly quickly, but should it really be clued with a capital “C”??
    20a Agreed this was a real :smile: of a clue.

  11. Posted November 4, 2009 at 1:18 pm | Permalink

    If there are real masochists around, you may like to have a spar with Elgar’s alter-ego in the FT today.

    http://media.ft.com/cms/6c6ec014-bcbd-11de-a7ec-00144feab49a.pdf

  12. Big Boab
    Posted November 4, 2009 at 1:29 pm | Permalink

    Very tough, not very enjoyable, liked 10a did not like 6 or 7d.

  13. nubian
    Posted November 4, 2009 at 1:48 pm | Permalink

    Can I ask Prolixic how he managed to complete the crossword in the time he did, he must be in the same form at school as Hotlips but three desks infront?

    • Prolixic
      Posted November 4, 2009 at 2:08 pm | Permalink

      Time is relative. I spent the whole of the morning commute solving the puzzle and the final clue only fell into place in the lift up to my office. Because there were one or two clues where I was unsure about the answer, I fired up Clued Up and entered the solutions to double check that I had the right answers. I will probably be expelled from school for doing so!

      • nubian
        Posted November 4, 2009 at 2:19 pm | Permalink

        There will be rejoicing in heaven and on earth at one sinner who repenteth (sic)
        You may go back to your desk.

  14. Terry
    Posted November 4, 2009 at 1:59 pm | Permalink

    Finished the bottom half with only 5d and 8d in the top half. When I got 1 and 9 a I thought I had cracked it but still needed a few hints to kickstart it again,. I liked 19a and disliked 13a and 25a too wordy. 7d could only be what it was but it took your explanation for it to make any sense to me. Just too hard for me.

    • Toby
      Posted November 4, 2009 at 6:29 pm | Permalink

      Hi Terry – I was exactly the same as you – got all bottom half and 5d and 8d – How weird is that?

      Havent looked at the clues above yet but am not likely to get any more! I am not too sure how I got some of the ones I did get but no doubt BD will help with that!

      • Posted November 4, 2009 at 6:46 pm | Permalink

        Toby

        Tilsit wrote this one!

  15. Franny
    Posted November 4, 2009 at 3:33 pm | Permalink

    I absolutely loathed this puzzle — from the eye-boggling grid to the last obscure and mind-twisting clue! Managed with much wailing and gnashing of teeth to find all but 13a and 6d, but often found correct words with no idea why. 26a is still beyond me, and as for 25a, 4d and 14d … :-(

    • Posted November 4, 2009 at 3:59 pm | Permalink

      Franny

      There are two meanings of the verb to become. The first, intransitive, one is the one with which most are familiar and is clued by “will turn into”. The second, transitive, one is defined in Chambers as:

      * to suit or befit
      * to grace or adorn fittingly
      * to look well in

      and it is from here that the adjective becoming is derived.

      • Prolixic
        Posted November 4, 2009 at 5:08 pm | Permalink

        As in “Moonlight becomes you, it goes with your hair”, presumably!

    • Bondini
      Posted November 4, 2009 at 4:31 pm | Permalink

      I’m with you Franny. Even with enough letters to solve 6d and 7d I wasn’t convinced they were right.
      Not on my wavelength today so hats off to anybody who completed it. One for the connoisseur I feel.

      • gazza
        Posted November 4, 2009 at 4:40 pm | Permalink

        Hi Bondini – welcome to the blog.

  16. Boxy
    Posted November 4, 2009 at 4:34 pm | Permalink

    I didn’t think wheelbase was a noun (14d), but a measure of the distance between axles on a vehicle.

    Different wheelbases affect the performance of a car in different ways such as the ability to climb hills and travel quickly. For this reason, not Tilsit’s, the clue is almost legal!

  17. Lizwhiz
    Posted November 4, 2009 at 4:35 pm | Permalink

    Oh My God!!!! Left me’ dead in the water’ nearly late for work as a result :(

    Not a chance of finishing this- does this make me normal or brainless?????

    • Posted November 4, 2009 at 4:52 pm | Permalink

      Yes

      • Lizwhiz
        Posted November 4, 2009 at 5:09 pm | Permalink

        Thanks!!!!! I know where I stand!

        • Prolixic
          Posted November 4, 2009 at 5:38 pm | Permalink

          I hope and suspect that Big Dave was answering Yes to the first and not to the second of the alternatives.

          • Posted November 4, 2009 at 6:45 pm | Permalink

            It was intended as ambiguous!. I give the same answer when I’m asked if I want tea or coffee.

  18. Barrie
    Posted November 4, 2009 at 5:08 pm | Permalink

    WOW is this tough or what! So far I have failed to solve a single clue. This setters mind and mine must be on totally different frequencies. Sorry far too tough for me.

    • Lizwhiz
      Posted November 4, 2009 at 5:10 pm | Permalink

      I did 3 on my own! I am not alone!! whoop ! whoop!

    • Barrie
      Posted November 4, 2009 at 5:15 pm | Permalink

      I now have had chance to go through the answers given above and I take my hat to anyone who completed this puzzle, even when I see the answers they are so convoluted as to be beyond the range of any but the most experienced. I return to my original observation, save these types of puzzle for the Toughie.

      • NathanJ
        Posted November 4, 2009 at 11:08 pm | Permalink

        Barrie – I totally agree with you on this point.

        John H is a very clever and distinguished compiler but he shouldn’t be allowed anywhere near a DT regular cryptic. His undoubted talents can easily be utilised by the Times, Guardian, Independent and DT Toughie which all have a reputation for very challenging puzzles. I can’t understand why he also sets for the FT and DT regular cryptic which have a reputation for being somewhat more solvable than the other broadsheets. Surely the Times, Guardian, Independent and DT Toughie should be enough for him to weave his magic.

  19. Paul
    Posted November 4, 2009 at 5:17 pm | Permalink

    I found this a very enjoyable challenge … until I found myself stuck with three blank bits at the top right. Resorting to one of those naughty crossword helping websites (tsk tsk) I ended up with an incomprehensible POLYVINYL as 6d and so scuppered my chances completely.

    That’ll learn me.

  20. JP
    Posted November 4, 2009 at 5:46 pm | Permalink

    “Black” for angry? The Goldeneye clue doesn’t hang together at all. And a cordon isn’t a roadblock. ET is one who travels far and wide? Not the first thing you think about – you’re more likely to think Polo or Columbus. The wheelbase is a very minor factor in a car’s performance. The setter’s trying too hard to be clever and is just confusing.

    • gazza
      Posted November 4, 2009 at 6:01 pm | Permalink

      Hi JP – welcome to the blog.
      Chambers gives black, as an adjective, meaning “sullen, bad-tempered, angry”.
      .. and for cordon it has “a system of road-blocks, encircling an area so as to prevent or control passage into or out of it”.

    • Mister Sting
      Posted November 4, 2009 at 10:12 pm | Permalink

      JP – I agree.
      Wholly unconvinced by the angry/dandy synonyms.
      Chambers can take a walk. Just what would have been wrong with a bit of English as she is spoke? You can always make a clue so torturous that it’s nearly impossible.
      6dn was rotten. It’s a film. It’s a duck. Uh-huh. Duck soup means something that’s easy to accomplish (as here (‘Wintering in Wisconsin is Duck Soup to the goldeneyes’): http://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=1368&dat=19810123&id=Z3wWAAAAIBAJ&sjid=DRIEAAAAIBAJ&pg=4253,4098373). The clue don’t work.
      Not all the clues were horrible, but one had forgotten that by the time it was over.

  21. Slim Jim
    Posted November 4, 2009 at 6:01 pm | Permalink

    Got everything except ‘Exeter’ – which is funny, as I live in Ely – thus ought to have been thinking along the right lines!
    11a made me laugh.
    I agree putting upper case on ‘Carmen’ is a bit of a liberty.

  22. Toby
    Posted November 4, 2009 at 6:50 pm | Permalink

    Never did finish the top half _ some good clues but too clever for me. I read 14 d differently to you though Tilsit – I felt the “carmen” referred to were perhaps drivers not mechanics who were therefore sitting on the”…………………” which strictly speaking should be a distance from front axle to rear but which the compiler was stretching to encompass that bit of the car that supported the wheels. I think this was a bit of a dodgy clue though.
    I notice that there were many comments of how difficult this was from some people who normally find them easy. I didn’t find it quite as convoluted as a one or two we have had in the last couple of weeks (still only got half though!)

  23. Little Dave
    Posted November 4, 2009 at 8:17 pm | Permalink

    The SE corner was the easiest for me. A bit of a stinker overall and I loved the picture above for 20a. A nice way to round the puzzle off I suppose. Lovely!

  24. NathanJ
    Posted November 4, 2009 at 10:26 pm | Permalink

    I managed to solve 12 clues on my own which for me isn’t bad for a John Henderson puzzle. My aim eventually is to be able to solve more than half of his puzzle on my own. I am improving but at a slow rate.

    Before this puzzle I had a run of 16 consecutive DT regular cryptics completely solved on my own without help. However, when I glanced through this puzzle I knew straight away it was an Elgar one and I knew my run would come to an end! Oh well!

    I respect John Henderson who I believe is one of the cleverest people in the world. For this reason shouldn’t he be compiling only the Toughie for all those cryptic geniuses out there? He makes Giovanni look like an easy compiler!

  25. Jane
    Posted November 4, 2009 at 10:32 pm | Permalink

    20a Well well! Another opportunity for a scantily clad female! But it was a clever and amusing clue.

    • gnomethang
      Posted November 4, 2009 at 10:40 pm | Permalink

      Sorry Jane!, this is all my fault. Nobody else had any involvement of the posting of that picture. I’m dragging the place down to my level.
      Please check out the ‘Toughie 245’ for a Hot Pic of Ms Marge Bouvier.

      • gnomethang
        Posted November 4, 2009 at 10:43 pm | Permalink

        Actually, thinking about 11a: If the clue was defined more to my liking the ladies could have had a nice Chippendale or something! (if that floats the boat!)

        • Jane
          Posted November 4, 2009 at 10:59 pm | Permalink

          Good idea!

  26. NathanJ
    Posted November 4, 2009 at 10:55 pm | Permalink

    One good thing about John H – his puzzles draw a lot of comments on this blog. Almost always more than 50.

    Big Dave – does John H get more comments on this blog than anyone else?

    • Posted November 5, 2009 at 12:10 am | Permalink

      It’s not easy to track, except manually. A number of recent puzzles have exceeded 50 comments. The last Elgar puzzle, three weeks ago, had 51.

  27. Posted November 4, 2009 at 11:06 pm | Permalink

    What a vile crossword. Had thought I was being particularly slow today, but having looked at the answers, realise I wouldn’t have got them in a million years. Thanks for the help, just a shame it was for most of the clues.

  28. Posted November 5, 2009 at 12:01 am | Permalink

    I can understand a lot of the comments on this puzzle, however I draw the line at saying that this setter should not set a DT puzzle.

    I also think that some of the comments are almost descending into personal abuse which is depressing.

    As a regular solver I believe that the canon should cover all ranges of experience, and while this was at the top end of the scale in difficulty, I found it infinitely preferable than one or two of the less than adequate puzzles we have seen recently. Elgar does tend to produce different and challenging clues, but there are a number of cryptic definitions in that puzzle that you could see in other daily puzzles.

    In some ways I have an additional difficulty in solving in that a great many here do not have, in that I have been solving for more years than I care to remember. Consequently there are times when i have seen the same clue rehashed and comment on it, as I did with BAGATELLE today. So one of the joys of solving an Elgar puzzle is that i know I have to think outside the box.

    I also offer to help newer solvers by analysing and presenting it in a style to help others try and achieve the enjoyment that I have out of crosswords, which has been immense. I treasure the great many friendships I have made and have internet chums in virtually every country in the world, quite a few of whom I have either met over here or on holiday in distant lands.

    If I thought that I was being the conduit for people to indulge in nasty personal attacks on setters, as has happened today, then I will withdraw my services immediately.

    • Prolixic
      Posted November 5, 2009 at 8:01 am | Permalink

      I agree that Elgar should not be banished to the Toughie. We need a range of styles and challenges with the daily cryptic. It would become bland and less enjoyable were this not the case and none of us would be challenged to improve our solving skills. I pity Phil McNeill who has an unenviable job in getting the balance right.

      Several posters have asked whether, since we have the Toughie, puzzles of this level of difficulty should be on the back page. This is a reasonable question and this particular Elgar puzzle might have been better placed as a Toughie but it is a fine call andI expect that Phil thought long and hard about this. I would not have said that about previous Elgar puzzles.

      I don’t read the posts about the puzzle as descending to personal abuse about Elgar. Most posters have acknowledged Elgar’s undoubted setting skills. Many of us make comments on the style of puzzles that appear (me included) whether describing them as vile, utterly dreary or a Trabant of a puzzle. Sometimes it is easy to forget that the setters (or many of them) read the blog and what we say about something that they have spent days working over.

    • gnomethang
      Posted November 5, 2009 at 9:18 am | Permalink

      On balance, I think that this is a fair but hard one and is appropriate as a ‘Hard DT’. I still have a couple of quibbles with the dandy and the duck but in reality I have heard that a Goldeneye is a duck so might have solved despite not particularly liking the clue.

      I agree with Tilsit that Elgar is great at serving up fresh definitions for otherwise hoary old chestnuts (I have seen Bagatelle countless times but cant recall this exact definition).

      Regarding Dandy – I cannot see my way between dandy and adonis in my Thesaurus (although I havent opened Roget yet) without going through another word (e.g. rake or stud). This is really the only clue I have a grumble with., particularly as I have seen the construction before.

    • sarumite
      Posted November 5, 2009 at 10:38 am | Permalink

      In no way did I intend any personal criticism of the setter with my above comments, in fact I was impressed with the originality of many of the clues, and the satisfaction gained on completion was worth the “struggle”.
      Where there has been perceived disapproval by some, it’s may simply be the frustration of being unable to solve particular wordplay. At the end of the day we all wish to improve our skills and it’s only by attempting greater challenges that we will eventually do so.
      Although I only found this excellent site recently, I visit on a regular basis, and value the instructive and entertaining daily blogs provided by yourself (tilsit) and others. I most certainly hope you will continue to offer your services in the future. (S)

  29. Jonathan Richards
    Posted November 5, 2009 at 12:37 am | Permalink

    We love you, Tilsit… and we love the challenges the setters give us. It’s just that “failure” generates frustration. Please don’t withdraw your services; your insight is our inspiration. Thanks, also, for reminding me of the python sketch – quite a wheeze!

  30. Posted November 5, 2009 at 1:36 am | Permalink

    Although they don’t write clues in exactly the same style, John H is quite similar in nature to the other John H (Halpern); their clues are full of inventiveness and new ideas, laced with humour and gentle naughtiness, and occasionally bending Ximenean rules (both setters are firmly in the Libertarian camp anyway). And good on ’em!

    I’ve always found both Johns to be excellent, fun company, and in crosswordland they give us something slightly different by encouraging us – as Tilsit has said – to think outside the box. I fully understand that some may have found this puzzle difficult, but sometimes difficulty comes as a result of encountering wordplay observations you haven’t seen before. The devices themselves aren’t hard/obscure, just new.

    Oddly, I’ve never been asked who my favourite setters are, but I’ll answer it anyway. For sheer imaginative originality and brilliance I’d put Bannsider at the top of my list (I nearly gave his name then – not sure if it’s common knowledge, so I’ll keep schtum) and he’s closely followed in joint second place by the two Johns who, you can be sure, will always have you giggling with their “Surely you can’t get away with that!” clues.

    • NathanJ
      Posted November 5, 2009 at 1:54 am | Permalink

      Hi Anax

      Thanks for a thoughtful post. I really enjoyed reading your comments.

      I agree with you about John Halpern. He is fantastic. I have been solving his FT puzzles for some time now. I have just started solving his Guardian ones and although I haven’t finished one yet I enjoy them and am rapidly improving. Funnily enough I seem to be on Mr Halpern’s wavelength more than with Mr Henderson but I will keep slogging away with Elgar’s puzzles too as I am determined to one day complete more than half of his puzzle on my own (and eventually I would like to complete a whole Elgar puzzle on my own).

      By the way what do you think of another compiler who I think is an acquaintance of both the John H’s, Paul Bringloe? I have completed several of his FT puzzles and really enjoyed them. I think Paul Bringloe and John Halpern are very talented.

      • Posted November 5, 2009 at 11:55 am | Permalink

        Thanks Nathan – particularly for giving Tees a namecheck. Like you say, an extremely talented setter (and a damn good bloke too) who you could probably link in style to Dac of the Indy or Alberich of the FT. All of these are really sound, conscientious setters – perhaps one or two notches down in toughness from Bannsider.

        I particularly like Paul because, like me, he’s a muso – drummer if I remember correctly.

  31. mary
    Posted November 5, 2009 at 9:54 am | Permalink

    Tilsit, I have just read your comments this morning and think it would be a geat loss to all concerned it you withdrew your sevices, there are so many people who enjoyed yesterdays puzzle, who never comment on this site, and others like myself who are persevering with the help of you all to get better at this, some good days some not so good, but without the help of yourself and the others we would not be – dare I say ‘improving’ as we are, so thanks once again, and please carry on the good work

  32. Jane
    Posted November 5, 2009 at 9:54 am | Permalink

    Personally, I was pleased to complete yesterday’s puzzle and then find out it was by Elgar. Although the DT back page crossword is intended to be easier than the Toughie I see no harm in sometimes being challenged that bit extra. Indeed I think it can be very encouraging if one manages to complete all/some of it and if we don’t, the daily analysis helps us progress on the learning curve of crossword solving. Thanks to all, the setters and bloggers!

  33. Lea
    Posted November 5, 2009 at 1:08 pm | Permalink

    I didn’t get a chance to get to this yesterday so thought I would try today. Especially the challenge after all the bad comments. I in fact enjoyed the logic of so many of the clues.

    There were several lovely clues – my favourites being 7d and 14d as well as 11a. Got stuck on 10a and a couple of others and had to resort to your hints Tilsit. Thank you.

    i agree with Mary – it would be a real shame if you withdrew as you have the insight and knowledge that so many of us lack and that we find so helpful. Thank you for help.

  34. Posted November 8, 2009 at 10:33 am | Permalink

    I’m well behind the act on this one, as usual, but that is partly because we go at them for days rather than look up help on the day.

    Got all the bottom half, and 1/9 across, but the right top corner was a swine. I think the ‘goldeneye’ clue is rubbish, even if it is a type of duck. And Adonis was not a dandy, most misleading. Otherwise a very nice clue. Why not ‘Beautiful boy who’s employed to give lectures?’? More accurate.

    And Tilsit is obviously not a mechanic. The thing mechanics use to scoot under your car is not a ‘wheelbase’ – it’s a ‘crawler’. Others have sussed this clue correctly, but it is still rather poor in my opinion.

    • Posted November 8, 2009 at 11:37 am | Permalink

      “Tilsit is obviously not a mechanic.”

      True!

      Notwithstanding that, you do need to allow a bit of latitude. I know we complain about the construction of some clues, but that is usually when they have no other redeeming features.

  35. mary
    Posted November 8, 2009 at 10:52 am | Permalink

    struggling today on 2509, can’t wait for the hints :)

    • mary
      Posted November 8, 2009 at 11:50 am | Permalink

      sorry Dave I know this is in the wrong place but I’m not sure where else to put it, i have now progressed to having 3 left 22a, 25a & 23d and am giving up for the moment,

      • Posted November 8, 2009 at 12:39 pm | Permalink

        Duly noted – will include these in the post.

        • mary
          Posted November 8, 2009 at 12:46 pm | Permalink

          thanks Dave, awaiting with eagerness :)

  36. wojwilks
    Posted November 8, 2009 at 6:32 pm | Permalink

    It’s Sunday 8th and I’ve just given up on this one 8 answers to go. I’m glad to see all the posts as I was feeling distinctly dopey until then. Toughest one I’ve seen for ages!!

    • Posted November 8, 2009 at 6:41 pm | Permalink

      Welcome to the blog wojwilks

      A noble effort if you have spent 4 days on this one. Persevere with Elgar as you do get used to his style – although that only makes them a little easier!