December 11, 2009 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog

ST 2513

Sunday Telegraph Cryptic No 2513

A full analysis by Peter Biddlecombe

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

A fairly tricky puzzle, this one. Someone on Sunday asked whether the “level at which they are set is in the gift of the setter for the day or whether the crossword editor issues guidance to toughen things up or to ease back a little?”  I’m sure some attention is paid to this, and I believe the daily setters have some notion of a general desire for the Telegraph puzzle to avoid some of the tougher vocabulary and “general” knowledge that you might need for other broadsheet puzzles (or the Toughies); but I hope they don’t spend too much time agonising about difficulty, because it’s so hard to measure. Two different people of the same ability level can give you completely different reports about the difficulty of a puzzle, whether they’re beginners or experts. In this puzzle, knowing some fairly standard cryptic xwd material probably helped a lot in keeping the solving time down.

Sunsetter seems to have gone for a bit of Times crossword nostalgia here – this grid is the quirkiest one in the current Times set. It was made by former Times xwd editor Edmund Akenhead, and the big black E is his “signature”. It’s also the only Times grid with answers you might not have to solve at all – the two fully checked four-letter answers.

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Toughie 267

Toughie No 267 by Notabilis

A pleasant wander through a minefield

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BD Rating – Difficulty *** Enjoyment ***

Three stars each? No, it isn’t a cop-out – it feels like a pretty fair reflection of a puzzle that seemed to have a 50/50 balance of easy and tough, clever and occasionally cumbersome clues. At the time of writing, only the explanation for 14d eludes me (assuming I’ve got the answer right). Fingers crossed, everything will click by the time it’s reached by the write-up. [It did, thanks to some help from Prolixic, who emails the name of the setter to me each day. These blogs may look serenely smooth above the surface, but as with the proverbial duck there is often a lot of furious paddling going on below! BD]

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.

My favourite clues are shown in blue text.

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DT 26109

Daily Telegraph Cryptic No 26109

Hints and tips by Gazza

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

We have another fine puzzle for Giovanni, probably not as tricky as last Friday’s but nevertheless a good workout.

Following the discussion on Wednesday’s blog about the style of the hints I have tried today not to reveal directly any part of the answers (except for the hidden contents of the curly brackets of course!). The result is, I think, more like the hints for the weekend prize puzzles than my usual reviews. I really need some feedback as to how you like it and which style you prefer – should I persevere with this method or revert to the old one? Note that if you click on any of the links you will still see (bits of) the answer.

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