DT 26124

Daily Telegraph Cryptic No 26124

Winding Up or Down the Year

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BD Rating – Difficulty **Enjoyment **

Another gentle wind-down towards year’s end in keeping with the recent run of daily puzzles, which seem to be finding a good level for solvers. I am sure that most of the regulars will find this acceptable. There were a few really nice clues, but a couple of weak ones. These seem again to be the cryptic definitions.

If I have one wish for this particular puzzle in 2010, it’s that our setters will not try to outdo each other by trying to come up with smarter and smarter cryptic definitions. A good cryptic definition will come naturally and push all the right buttons, but I believe that far too many are forced and demonstrate a lack of adventure and thought on the part of the setter.

If you have finished this, and have a little time to spare, try these two challenges from the Guardian of the past two days by Giovanni and Elgar respectively. Both extremely enjoyable!



Rant over. Can I take this opportunity to wish you all a happy and challenging New Year and thanks to everyone for their kind comments and messages during 2009. See you next year!


7a    Mind china for someone close (4,4)
{SOUL MATE} A simple word sum to set things off today. A word for mind or spirit, plus in Cockney rhyming slang, china is a shortened version of “china plate” which is a rhyming word for a friend or ally. The whole thing then defines someone close. A bit messy for me, with two of the three definitions being similar.

9a    US general on track, with room to manoeuvre (6)
{LEEWAY} Add a short word for road, or avenue on to the end of famous US general Robert E. This will give you a word meaning room for expression or latitude.

10a    Free turncoat held by US soldiers (6)
{GRATIS} A turncoat is unprincipled and an unprincipled person may be named after which creature? This needs to be placed inside an abbreviation for American soldiers to give you the Latin word for free of charge.

11a    Embarrassed, old woman producing meths drink (3,5)
{RED BIDDY} One you’ve either heard of or not (hopefully not consumed!). Think of the colour of your face if you are embarrassed and add to it a slang name for an old lady. If you are still stuck, try googling Ms Baxter who used to be the ferocious editor of children’s TV show Blue Peter. The drink is commonly made from mixing cheap wine and meths, but it’s also a beer and seems to be a similarly foul concoction.

12a    Turned in by gold broker one’s crossed in New York (8,6)
{BROOKLYN BRIDGE} An anagram (indicated by turned) of IN BY GOLD BROKER gives you a construction found in the Big Apple.

15a    A papal edict? Nonsense (4)
{BULL} Double definition. A word for a papal edict, and the other refers to nonsense “A load of old _____”

17a    Deer curiously circling one duck (5)
{EIDER} An anagram (curiously) of DEER around I (for one) gives you the name of a breed of duck.

19a    Man staff caught out (4)
{ROOK} The man here is not a person, it’s a piece in a well-known board game. In fact, “member of board” might have added value to the clue instead of just “man” which is a little lax to me.

20a    What past master gave at school? (7,7)
{HISTORY LESSONS} This illustrates my point about cryptic definitions. I don’t see how this can lead to anything else other than the solution.

23a    Unhappy on stage, so quit (4,4)
{STEP DOWN} A word sum. Attach a word meaning depressed, or fed up onto a word meaning a piece or a stage or part of something. This will give you a two word phrase meaning to quit or resign.

25a    Ready to drive off, wearing harness (2,4)
{IN GEAR} if you are ready to drive away, your car must be this. As for the other definition, I presume it’s something tied up with hunting.

27a    Compensate for cancelled series (6)
{OFFSET} A word meaning to compensate or balance is the definition required. A word sum comprises the answer if something is cancelled it’s not on, it’s ___ and add to this another word for a series or group.

28a    Fly back wearing new gear supplied by the clothing industry (3,5)
{RAG TRADE} Reverse a word meaning to fly or, when plural, a sport (the two world championships of this sport are on at the moment) and around it place an anagram of GEAR. This will lead you to a phrase referring to the clothing industry, that was also the name of a successful sitcom of the 1960’s.


1d               Take up space in dock (4)
{MOOR}     Reverse a word meaning space, or a part of a house and you’ll get a word meaning dock or land.

2d               Extremely drunk, bishop on top of house (6)
{BLOTTO}   }  On checking my Chambers via iPod  (the joy of gadgets!), this is a word meaning drunk comprising B (Bishop) on top of LOTTO.  However, lotto is another word for bingo, also known as housey-housey.  I can only think that you can shout “lotto” instead of “house” to claim a prize.  However Chambers doesn’t confirm this.

3d               Conflict involving East River (4)
{WEAR}       A word for conflict or fighting needs an E inserted to make the name of a famous river of the North East.

4d               Fifty fish put aboard Greek sailplane (6)
{GLIDER}     One of the favourite fish stocked in Crosswordland’s lake is the IDE,  here it has an L before it to show fifty and the whole is then surrounded by GR for Greek.  This gives you a type of sailplane.

5d               Become more violent and stagger (8)
{BEWILDER}    If you are more violent, could be be said to BE WILDER, and of course put the two words together and you get a word meaning amaze or stagger.

6d               An article from the previous issue? (4-2-4)
{HAND-ME-DOWN}     A cryptic definition for those clothes that other members of your family wore before you.  Bit of a bugger if you were the only lad among girls!

8d               Pardon seaman’s answer (7)
{ABSOLVE}  AB is a stock abbreviation for a sailor, and add to it a word meaning answer, as in a crossword clue.  This will lead you to a word meaning pardon.

13d             Violence in rowdy crowd (5,5)
{ROUGH STUFF}  A phrase meaning violence is made up a word meaning rowdy and one meaning crowd or fill-up.

14d             A tern uncommon in New York (5)
{NODDY}    Apart from being Enid Blyton’s children’s favourite, a noddy is also a member of the tern family, a word meaning “uncommon” or “not even” goes inside NY  (New York).

Which reminds me of the reason why elephants have Big Ears.   Noddy won’t stump up the ransom.  I’ll get my hat.

16d             Least likely place for a bugle call (4,4)
{LAST POST}    A double definition that looks at first like a cryptic definition, synonyms for least likely and place leading to a bugle call.

18d             Whirling dance in centre of Lagos (7)
{REELING}   A few of the definitions and sub-definitions have been a bit close to each other today, and this one is another example.  Whirling is the definition. The  rest is a word sum  a dance (REEL) + IN + G (centre of Lagos).

21d             Old Oscar drinking wine in a European city (6)
{OPORTO}  O O (Old & Oscar in the NATO alphabet) with the name of a wine associated with that town.  Similar to 18d, you could argue the clues are clever, but I feel a bit cheated.

22d             Sweet boy following us around (6)
{SUGARY}   US around means reverse it and get SU and add a boy’s name to it to get a word meaning sweet.

24d             Emperor imprisoned by tribune, Roman (4)
{NERO}       Hidden answer inside  2 by tribune, Roman” is the famous fiddling emperor

26d             Backing a Verdi opera (4)
{AIDA}         Backing can be assistance or help = AID + A gives Verdi’s splendid opera not actually written to celebrate the opening of the Suez canal as  widely known.

So let’s finish on some high notes…….

Happy New Year!


  1. Vince
    Posted December 30, 2009 at 1:02 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Another easy puzzle today.

    7a. didn’t particularly like “mind” as a synonym for “soul”. I thought that “soul” was spiritual or emotional, rather than intellectual, inner self.

    11a. Hadn’t heard of this, but it was easy to work out, then look it up. The same for 14d.

    20a. I agree that this was too obvious. As was 17a. I got these two straight away and this set me on my way.

    I thought it was strange having “gear” in the answer for 25a and in the clue for 28a??

    I thought that 6d was the best clue and 12a the hardest, as I didn’t spot the anagram until I had most of the checked letters.

  2. Barrie
    Posted December 30, 2009 at 1:03 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Overall a very enjoyable puzzle (unlike yesterdays horror!). Still can’t understand the connection between man, staff and rook (19a) even with the explanation above. And why the caught out? Shame really because it prevented me from completing the crossword.

    • Posted December 30, 2009 at 1:07 pm | Permalink | Reply


      staff = crook, c= caught (on a cricket scorecard) – remove c from crook and you have rook, a chess man

      • Posted December 30, 2009 at 1:10 pm | Permalink | Reply

        Sorry for missing the explanation off.

      • Barrie
        Posted December 30, 2009 at 2:34 pm | Permalink | Reply

        STONE ME! (in the words of the greatest comic who ever lived, one Anthony Hancock), that I would never have got. Thanks for the explanation.

    • Franny
      Posted December 30, 2009 at 2:01 pm | Permalink | Reply

      This clue also gave me the most trouble — so much that I had to use outside help, and even then the answer made me pretty cross. Surely it could have been better expressed. I agree with you, Tilsit,

      • Peter
        Posted December 30, 2009 at 7:44 pm | Permalink | Reply

        Absolutely appalling clue

  3. Will
    Posted December 30, 2009 at 1:20 pm | Permalink | Reply

    I thoroughly enjoyed today’s puzzle but with similar irritations to those reported above( Especially 11a,14d and 18a)
    However I very much liked 12a and 6d.

  4. NathanJ
    Posted December 30, 2009 at 1:24 pm | Permalink | Reply

    A gentle and enjoyable puzzle today. I liked 15a.

    Tilsit – thanks for all your work on this blog in 2009. I look forward to reading your contributions on both this site and fifteensquared in 2010. I wish you a happy, healthy and prosperous New Year.

  5. gnomethang
    Posted December 30, 2009 at 1:25 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Agree with most of the above butdont really have a problem with 19a, it’s just that Tilsits idea would have been an improvement.

    Failed on putting in 11a convincingly and thought 22d and 12a were the best of the rest.

    • gnomethang
      Posted December 30, 2009 at 1:27 pm | Permalink | Reply

      Ooh! Actually 6d was favourite!

  6. BigBoab
    Posted December 30, 2009 at 1:48 pm | Permalink | Reply

    I agree with most of the comments above, a straightforward crossword, not too taxing for the festive season. My favourite was 19a.

  7. Prolixic
    Posted December 30, 2009 at 1:54 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Gentle but nothing much to bring a smile to the lips.

  8. Franny
    Posted December 30, 2009 at 2:15 pm | Permalink | Reply

    I thought this was a good puzzle and had fun doing it, for the most part. Struggled a bit with 7a and 28a, where I had the answers without understanding why. Thanks so much, as always, Tilsit, for your explanations. Being a theatrical type, I put “cast down” for 23a, and so had a problem with 13d and 16d, but eventually realised that the cast had to be a step and all was well.

    Best for me were 20a and 6d, but 5d was my favourite. I shall probably be back tomorrow, but send my best wishes now to everyone for a very Happy, Healthy and Prosperous New Year. :-)

  9. PJ
    Posted December 30, 2009 at 2:24 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Got a strong “you can’t do that!” reaction on seeing Lee described as a U.S. General in 9a.

    • gnomethang
      Posted December 30, 2009 at 3:35 pm | Permalink | Reply

      That’s a very regular contributor, PJ!

  10. Adrian
    Posted December 30, 2009 at 5:39 pm | Permalink | Reply

    In harness- gear?

    • old bill
      Posted December 31, 2009 at 11:47 pm | Permalink | Reply

      Could ‘wearing harness’ suggest that ‘wearing’ is harnessing ‘earing’ which is an anagram of ‘in gear’….?

      Makes more sense to me than 19a!

      • markonamission
        Posted January 2, 2010 at 3:52 pm | Permalink | Reply

        I don’t know much about crosswords, but when i go rock climbing I have always referred to my climbing equipment as ‘gear’, although technically it only means the nuts and bolts climbers use.

  11. Paul
    Posted December 30, 2009 at 11:11 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Was burgled today ( abominable new year,gits) so was very late starting this one. Just what the doctor ordered, a relaxing work out except 19A, terrible clue. A Happy New Year to all!

  12. themoreiseeyou
    Posted December 31, 2009 at 1:14 am | Permalink | Reply

    I am new to this board. I do not mind these supposedly gentle crosswords of late. They have finally helped to convince my wife that she really can think laterally and complete, or at least contribute to the completion of a cryptic crossword. We can do more together on holiday now.

    • gazza
      Posted December 31, 2009 at 8:00 am | Permalink | Reply

      Hi themoreiseeyou – welcome to the blog. I hope that you and your wife will be regular visitors.

  13. Derek
    Posted December 31, 2009 at 2:43 am | Permalink | Reply

    Nice end to the year for me! Shall be too busy with the fireworks to do today’s.

    Happy New Year tae ane and a’ once again.

  14. Arthur
    Posted January 3, 2010 at 11:27 am | Permalink | Reply

    Agree 19a a terrible clue.

    Would like solutions to 5d – should be obvious but after several days – without alcohol – still cannot get it, and 6d

    • Posted January 3, 2010 at 11:31 am | Permalink | Reply

      Arthur – Welcome to the blog

      We do repeat it from time to time, but the answers are hidden between the curly brackets and all you have to do is to select them by dragging the mouse across them. This is so that you can dip in to the hints without seeing other answers.

      5d is BE WILDER

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