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.

Across Clues

1a  Novel features in this store? (8 )
{BOOKSHOP} – cryptic definition of a store where you could purchase a novel, or a biography or a dictionary …

5a  Karl’s drug (6)
{POPPER} – double definition – the surname of a famous twentieth century philosopher is also an informal term for a small vial of amyl nitrate used for inhalation.

9a  Giving a makeover to girly nest in need of renovation (9)
{RESTYLING} – a clever clue with two potential anagram indicators – in fact it’s an anagram (in need of renovation) of GIRLY NEST and it means giving a makeover to.

11a  Garment very French worn by women (5)
{TREWS} – these close-fitting, normally tartan, trousers are made from the French word for very, with the abbreviation for women inside.

12a  Fifty in University Street meeting the Queen in the province (6)
{ULSTER} – put the Roman numeral for fifty between standard abbreviations for university and street and add the short form of Elizabeth Regina.

13a  Wrote music that’s calm (8 )
{COMPOSED} – double definition.

15a  Trade declines unfortunately out of London? (13)
{DECENTRALISED} – an anagram (unfortunately) of TRADE DECLINES produces a word, often applied to government, meaning not concentrated in the capital but dispersed in various parts of the country.

18a  Like certain weapons sent in plane or distributed some other way (4-9)
{ANTI-PERSONNEL} – an anagram (distributed some other way) of SENT IN PLANE OR leads to a description of the sort of weapons designed to kill or injure people rather than damage buildings or equipment.

22a  Hide from essayist’s relations (8 )
{LAMBSKIN} – a charade of the surname of an English essayist, who used the pseudonym Elia, and a word for relations which is normally bracketed with kith.

23a  Sailor travels west with commercial cargo (3,3)
{SEA DOG} – a term for an old, experienced sailor is produced by reversing (goes west, in an across clue) a synonym for travels or moves and putting an abbreviation for a commercial inside (cargo).

26a  Girl is terrific but ultimately getting a bit twisted (5)
{GRETA} – start with a synonym for terrific and reverse the last two letters (ultimately getting a bit twisted) to get the name of a girl – Ms. Scacchi perhaps?

27a  Unofficial information may be given on this plant (9)
{GRAPEVINE} – cryptic definition of an informal network used to circulate rumours and unofficial information. It’s how Marvin Gaye heard his news.

28a  Dispute’s terrible — this examiner makes an appearance (6)
{TESTER} – there’s a hidden word (makes an appearance) meaning examiner in the clue.

29a  Side on journey given somewhere to land (8 )
{AIRSTRIP} – put together a term meaning a boastful or pretentious manner (side) and a synonym for journey and you have somewhere a plane may land.

Down Clues

1d  Red weapon discovered finally in NW town (8 )
{BURGUNDY} – a word meaning red (a wine and, by derivation, the colour) is constructed by putting a firearm and the last letter of discovered inside the name of a Greater Manchester town famous for its black puddings.

2d  Place of refreshment, old, unaltered (5)
{OASIS} – put together the abbreviation for old and a phrase meaning without modification (unaltered) to get a place of refreshment in a desert.

3d  Vegetable being munched could make boy sane (3,4)
{SOY BEAN} – an anagram (being munched) of BOY SANE produces a vegetable.

4d  Miss offering love to tiny boy when upset (4)
{OMIT} – start with the letter associated with zero or love (in tennis) and then reverse (upset) the forename of young Master Cratchit from a Christmas Carol.

6d  Month given to work in an organisation with widespread influence (7)
{OCTOPUS} – string together the abbreviation for a month and the term for a literary or musical work and you have a metaphor for an organisation whose tentacles are far-reaching.

7d  After various sprees, university fellow got on with it (7,2)
{PRESSED ON} – start with an anagram (various) of SPREES and add a university fellow to get a phrasal verb meaning continued (with the ironing?).

8d  Some of the army team found in lodge (6)
{RESIDE} – a charade of an Army Corps commonly known as the sappers and a synonym for team make a verb meaning to live or lodge.

10d  Horticultarists must get across lake? They sound angry (8 )
{GROWLERS} – put a synonym for horticulturists (ignoring the spelling mistake in the clue) around the abbreviation for lake to get people or animals that make angry guttural sounds.

14d  Germany has smashing fat food (8 )
{DRIPPING} – put the vehicle registration code for Germany (think Deutschland) in front of another word for smashing or excellent (a word often used to describe yarns) and you end up with fat that has fallen from a joint of meat during roasting.

16d  Child like Venus in Paris lacking any social skills? (9)
{CHARMLESS} – put together an abbreviation for child and a description of the Venus de Milo in the Louvre which emphasises her physical deficiencies, to get an adjective meaning devoid of social skills.

17d  Pile of muck creates delay in phase of redevelopment (4,4)
{SLAG HEAP} – put a synonym for delay or fall behind inside an anagram (redevelopment) of PHASE to get a pile of muck from a mine or industrial site.

19d  Person providing the property, he having departed? (7)
{TESTATE} – cryptic definition of someone who has died, having made a valid will (the answer is a noun as well as a verb). There’s a clever bit of misdirection here, with the temptation being to look for a word from which you can remove HE. Remove HE from THE and a word for a landed property [Thanks to phisheep for pointing this out!]

20d  Writer getting terribly sore about certain batsmen (7)
{OPENERS} – put a writing implement inside an anagram (terribly) of SORE to get the two batsmen who start an innings.

21d  Minor insult (6)
{SLIGHT} – double definition.

24d  Day on river? That is right — it’s raining less! (5)
{DRIER} – just think abbreviations!

25d  Wise fellows can give one a leg up (4)
{MAGI} – these wise fellows (there were three according to some sources) turned up with Christmas gifts a long time ago. Reverse (up) a single and a word meaning a woman’s leg (derived from the Old Northern French term gambe).

I liked 1a, 23a and 14d today, but my favourite is 27a. Let us know what you think via a comment.


  1. Ranger
    Posted December 11, 2009 at 11:08 am | Permalink | Reply

    Not sure yet that the new style makes much difference but that maybe because I had solved it and was just confirming my reasoning for two clues. enjoyable workout as always Giovanni!

  2. phisheep
    Posted December 11, 2009 at 11:11 am | Permalink | Reply

    Most unusually, we finished this, without any crossing-out before the blog went up. I can promise that won’t be happening again for another few months!

    19d That’s not a clever bit of misdirection, Gazza, it is wordplay. You take HE out of THE ESTATE (the property)

    I got the answers but not the wordplay for 22a and 26a – it makes it so much less frustrating when you can find out WHY things are right!

    • gazza
      Posted December 11, 2009 at 11:20 am | Permalink | Reply

      19d. Thanks for pointing that out – I missed it completely!

      • phisheep
        Posted December 11, 2009 at 11:25 am | Permalink | Reply

        Any time, Gazza. Well, any time I get it right and you get it wrong that is.

        I do like the new style of explanation very much – it feels more like I am being gently helped in the right direction and less like I am being told how to do it.

    • Vince
      Posted December 11, 2009 at 11:22 am | Permalink | Reply

      You beat me to it, Phisheep, re 19d. Didn’t like the clue, though. “Testate” is an adjective. The person leaving a will is a “testator”.

      • gazza
        Posted December 11, 2009 at 11:27 am | Permalink | Reply

        Vince Both dictionaries I consulted give testate as a noun as well as an adjective.

      • phisheep
        Posted December 11, 2009 at 11:31 am | Permalink | Reply

        I suspect it can be a noun as well. I don’t have a Chambers to hand (refuse to have one on principle, being as everyone says it is essential!), but since you can have ‘an intestate’ meaning someone who dies without a will, I don’t see why you couldn’t have a ‘testate’ as well – though obviously it would be a lot rarer because you have ‘testator’ to do part of the job.

        Chances are there is a subtle difference in meaning as well – you can be a testator when you have written a will, but for you to be a testate you probably have to be actually dead as well.

        • Vince
          Posted December 11, 2009 at 11:38 am | Permalink | Reply

          You can die “intestate”, but I don’t think you can be an “intestate”.

          My copy of Chambers gives “intestate” as an adjective, and “testator” or “testatrix” as: a person who leaves a valid will at death.

          • phisheep
            Posted December 11, 2009 at 11:45 am | Permalink | Reply

            Vince, here’s some current usage

            “This Order increases the statutory legacy from £125,000 to £250,000 where the intestate is survived by issue.”

            From the explanatory note to the The Family Provision (Intestate Succession) Order 2009.

          • gazza
            Posted December 11, 2009 at 11:45 am | Permalink | Reply

            My copy (11th Edition) also has intestate as a noun meaning a person who dies without making a valid will. Similarly it has testate as a noun meaning a person who dies testate.

            • Vince
              Posted December 11, 2009 at 11:52 am | Permalink | Reply

              Thanks, Gazza and Phisheep for the clarification. Well, English is a living language. That’s why we should update our copies of dictionaries, occasionally.

  3. Jezza
    Posted December 11, 2009 at 11:21 am | Permalink | Reply

    By far the most enjoyable cryptic this week. As Jim Bowen would say, “Super, Smashing, Great…”!

  4. Vince
    Posted December 11, 2009 at 11:32 am | Permalink | Reply

    Thoroughly enjoyed this, despite my complaint re 19d.

    5a. I thought this was a bit obscure, as I’d never heard of Karl Popper. Got the answer from the checked letters, then looked him up.

    29. I’d never heard of “side” as a synonym for “airs”. Had to check that with Chambers.

    Particularly liked 18a & 16d.

    As I completed it, I didn’t need your hints, Gazza, but I think the way you’ve presented it today is better.

  5. LB
    Posted December 11, 2009 at 11:37 am | Permalink | Reply

    Most enjoyable but do have a bit of a quibble with 3d i.e. isn`t soybean all one word with soya bean being 2 words.
    22a could have been one of several authors/essayists and still produced a hide.Apart from those as stated quite enjoyable.
    Favourites 5a ( once I`d found out who he was ) and 23a and 29a.

    • gazza
      Posted December 11, 2009 at 11:40 am | Permalink | Reply

      Chambers gives both “soya bean” and “soy bean” as two separate words.

    • Vince
      Posted December 11, 2009 at 11:41 am | Permalink | Reply


      Soy, soya and soja all mean the same. “Soy bean” is two words.

    • Peter Biddlecombe
      Posted December 11, 2009 at 12:04 pm | Permalink | Reply

      Soy bean, soy-bean or soybean – look in enough dictionaries and you might find them all – this is one of those areas like computerise/computerize where there’s no clear right answer and writers follow house style or are “corrected” by subeditors. The best a setter or editor can do for you is to follow one dictionary consistently.

  6. LB
    Posted December 11, 2009 at 12:06 pm | Permalink | Reply

    I was only going by what I found out when I looked up to originally checked up my thoughts and found `The Board of Directors of the American Soybean Association ` and various other references including `Soybean or Soya Bean (Glycine max) is one of the world’s most important plants…….`
    There might just be a difference between grammatical and horticultural English.No probs anyway, just me being a pedant.

  7. Prolixic
    Posted December 11, 2009 at 12:18 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Super crossword from Giovanni again, for which many thanks to the setter. A lot more straightforward than last week’s but still as enjoyable for the crafting of the clues and the wordplay. My favourite clues were 16d and 5a.

  8. Lea
    Posted December 11, 2009 at 12:46 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Another good crossword – thank you Giovanni. Also thanks for keeping the 4 letter words to a minimum.

    Didn’t find it as easy to get started as last Friday’s but once I got going I was okay. Didn’t like 5a – too vague for me but enjoyed 22a, 1d and especially 27a.

    Gazza – like the new format for the hints – work well as they make you think. Had to get help with 5a – thank you.

  9. Peter Biddlecombe
    Posted December 11, 2009 at 12:47 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Just what we expect from our “university fellow” (7D), noticeably using one of the Telegrph’s better grids. There are a couple of potential red herrings – At 5A I thought of the Marx quote about religion and took a rather rash punt on OPIATE, and at 4D it takes a little bit of discipline to reject Miss OTIS. 13A and 21D look like old chestnuts, but both are perfectly sound clues and new double defs must be hard to find. COD to 15A for the anag which fits well and seems to be new.

  10. gnomethang
    Posted December 11, 2009 at 1:01 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Another great runout from Giovanni! 16d and 23a were my faves. I actually found it a bit harder than last week but I am solving in a different environment – for some reason the train helps but I am working from home today!

    Thanks for the review gazza – I am ambivalent on the style for the same reasons as Ranger. It is probably better for people who like to get a hint without getting the answer pushed in their face.

    Now for the Toughie!.

  11. DaveH
    Posted December 11, 2009 at 1:35 pm | Permalink | Reply

    I loved the review but then I would! I felt lead to the couple that I coudn’t get rather than just told the answer.

  12. Pixie
    Posted December 11, 2009 at 2:13 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Straightforward today except I’d never heard of Karl Popper, but ‘drug’ was enough clue when added to the crossing letters.

    But how do you know it’s by “Giovanni”? I don’t think they give the “name” of the setter in the paper or online unless I’ve missed it?

    • gazza
      Posted December 11, 2009 at 2:18 pm | Permalink | Reply

      The Friday puzzles are normally by Giovanni (who often drops in to confirm the fact), so we tend to assume that this is the case.

  13. mary
    Posted December 11, 2009 at 2:44 pm | Permalink | Reply

    like the new format Gazza but also liked the old one all help is very welcome to me :) found todays crossword quite difficult and need your help for the bottom r/h corner, thought we had finished with cricket for now but unfortunately not, liked 13d,22a, 1d disliked 29a, 5a, never heard of, gam for leg how any people have heard of that, i think jambe is french for leg? also if 11a had said ‘very german’ i would never have known it, just as well i remember my o level french, thanks once more gazza for a brilliant blog

    • gnomethang
      Posted December 11, 2009 at 2:47 pm | Permalink | Reply

      Very German, and hers is bad!

    • gazza
      Posted December 11, 2009 at 2:54 pm | Permalink | Reply

      I think what gnomethang is trying to point out with his anagram is that the German for “very” is “sehr” :D

      • mary
        Posted December 11, 2009 at 2:56 pm | Permalink | Reply

        sehr gut thank you both :)

        • mary
          Posted December 11, 2009 at 2:58 pm | Permalink | Reply

          if it had been german we would have got shrew but them we would have to reinvent the clue for the definition, i think i should quite while ahead here or maybe i’m not ahead at all :)

      • gnomethang
        Posted December 11, 2009 at 8:53 pm | Permalink | Reply

        Thanks gazza – apologies for the pretty poor offering!.

        • mary
          Posted December 11, 2009 at 11:11 pm | Permalink | Reply

          thought it was quite good

  14. Uptodat
    Posted December 11, 2009 at 3:02 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Found it tough but got there. Guessed Greta and then worked it out. Guessed Magi but hadn’t heard of gam before (and checked to find gammy is unrelated.) Thankful that decentralised and anti-personnel opened it up for me.
    Liked 1d and 16d. My twenty-something daughter sometimes complains about setters using clues to outdated slang or expressions so nice to point out more current reference like 5a.

  15. Giovanni
    Posted December 11, 2009 at 3:10 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Dropping by (as you say) to confirm authorship and say thank you.

  16. Bryher
    Posted December 11, 2009 at 5:22 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Was very confused by 1 down being a southerner would never have got the link with Black Pudding

    • Peter Biddlecombe
      Posted December 11, 2009 at 5:49 pm | Permalink | Reply

      The stuff about black pudding is just a bit of information in the report – for solving the clue all you need to know is that Bury is a town somewhere in the NW of England. I’m a southerner too but knew that much.

  17. ian
    Posted December 12, 2009 at 12:33 am | Permalink | Reply

    liked the new hints. Some were almost like alternate clues which were a help. I tend to use my phone to visit blog and for some reason the curly brackets don’t open on the mobile version of web page. Thanks again for great site

  18. Derek
    Posted December 12, 2009 at 9:43 am | Permalink | Reply

    Not as hard as usual on Friday.
    27a was my favourite followed by1d.
    re 7d – during WWII, we all “pressed on regardless” (of the outcome?)
    I had a spot of bother with 5a.

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