DT 26129 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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DT 26129

Daily Telegraph Cryptic No 26129

Hints and tips by Gazza

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BD Rating – Difficulty ** Enjoyment ***

It’s snowing quite heavily here now, so it’s very pleasant to sit in the warm drinking a cup of coffee and writing this review, whilst stealing a glance at the Christmas card scene outside.
The puzzle has all the hallmarks of a Ray T composition – tight surface readings, a few smiles and one belly laugh. I think that it’s slightly easier than his usual offerings, so I’ve given it only two stars for difficulty – of course you may disagree, and if you do (or even if you don’t) we’d love to get a comment from you.
(Regular readers will get fed up with reading this bit, but please remember that we have new readers joining us all the time.) The answers are hidden inside the curly brackets – just highlight the white space inside the brackets to reveal.

Across Clues

7a  States tour may start here (8 )
{AIRSTRIP} – a nice bit of misdirection to start – we want a synonym for states or announces followed by a word for tour or journey to end up with a runway.

9a  School’s an aid to cultivation (6)
{HARROW} – double definition. It makes a pleasant change to get a school other than Eton.

10a  Try holding on to right chick (4)
{BIRD} – put a synonym for try around (holding on to) R(ight) to get a feathered friend (chick).

11a  Sounded thick (10)
{PRONOUNCED} – double definition, the second how you might describe a strong accent.

12a  Relieve detective before endless shift (6)
{DISPEL} – place DI (Detective Inspector) in front of SPEL(L) (a period of time, shift, without its final letter) to get another word for drive away or relieve.

14a  Voluntary one found in irregular platoon (8 )
{OPTIONAL} – put I (one) inside an anagram (irregular) of PLATOON to get an adjective meaning voluntary or non-mandatory.

15a  The woman admitting a road’s more complicated (6)
{HARDER} – start with a feminine pronoun and put A and the usual abbreviation for road inside.

17a  The man behind the counter? (6)
{GEIGER} – cryptic description of the German physicist who co-invented the radiation detector which bears his name.

20a  Interior of planet here, almost unearthly (8 )
{ETHEREAL} – hidden (interior) in the clue is a word meaning spiritual or unearthly.

22a  Gruff sailor’s game on exercise (6)
{ABRUPT} – to get an adjective meaning gruff we need three two-letter abbreviations joined together – a) an able-seaman, b) the fifteen-a-side game and c) Physical Training (exercise).

23a  Turn on team broadcast for match (10)
{TOURNAMENT} – an anagram (broadcast) of TURN ON TEAM gives us a sporting event or match.

24a  Shakespeare is flipping tedious (4)
{BARD} – in spite of the amusing surface reading, with which lots of schoolchildren would agree, here we have another of those horrible reversals (groan) where it’s not clear whether “is flipping” applies to Shakespeare or tedious, so we have to wait for one of the checking letters to discover that it’s the synonym for tedious which has to be flipped.

25a  Wind up around hard part of city (6)
{GHETTO} – put a phrasal verb meaning to reach or wind up at around H (hard, pencil classification) to get a part of a city, normally a slum area, occupied by a minority or racial group.

26a  He barely takes part in match! (8 )
{STREAKER} – cryptic definition of someone (not always a male) who makes an exhibition of himself at a sporting event.

Down Clues

1d  Lower skirt, being embraced by stunner (8 )
{DIMINISH} – the definition is to lower or reduce. We want the type of skirt popularised by Mary Quant and around it (embraced) put an old word for an attractive person (stunner) (Tilsit will hate this one!).

2d  Old and regularly unsteady (4)
{USED} – the definition is old, in the sense of second-hand – take the odd (regularly) letters of UnStEaDy.

3d  Force from cable in power line (6)
{PROPEL} – put a synonym for cable inside the abbreviations for P(ower) and L(ine).

4d  Choke or accelerator (8 )
{THROTTLE} – double definition.

5d  He’s nuts! (10)
{IRONMONGER} – you have to expand he’s to “he has” rather than “he is” to understand this cryptic definition, and to get to the type of tradesman (if you can find one these days) who sells nuts (as well as bolts).

6d  Chap, for example, with ace wine cellar (6)
{BODEGA} – string together an informal word for a chap (a shortened form of body), the letters meaning for example and A(ce) to get a Spanish wine shop or cellar.

8d  Particle, real or theoretical, of nucleus initially (6)
{PROTON} – this sub-atomic particle is formed from the first letters (initially) of the first six words. I think that this is a semi all-in-one, although I don’t know enough physics to be able to say if the “theoretical” bit makes sense – perhaps someone can enlighten me?

13d  Perform ‘Under Pressure’, Queen favourite, on speed (10)
{PERPETRATE} – we want a verb meaning to carry out or perform. Start with P(ressure) and under this (in a down clue) put the usual initials for the Queen, a word (both adjective and noun) meaning favourite and a synonym for speed.
ARVE Error: need id and provider

16d  Lift to reveal bum! (8 )
{ELEVATOR} – an anagram (bum) of TO REVEAL produces a lift. Bum can mean wrong, as in “he played a bum note”. It made me laughwhat do you think?

18d  Grass, left inside, grassed (8 )
{REPORTED} – the definition is grassed, in the sense of informed on – put the naval way of saying left inside the commonest grass found in crosswordland.

19d  Foreigners like eating porky new starter (6)
{ALIENS} – start with AS (like) and inside put what cockneys call a porky pie and N(ew).

21d  Work hard in attempt to get prize (6)
{TROPHY} – put OP (opus, work) and H (hard, that pencil again) inside a synonym for attempt.

22d  Supports not starting dessert (6)
{AFTERS} – supports are the beams which hold the roof of your house in place – drop the first letter (not starting) and you’re left with an informal word for pudding or dessert.

24d  Pearl’s ace in garden (4)
{BEAD} – every pearl can be one of these, but not all these are pearls – put A(ce) inside a garden plot.

The clues I liked today included 17a, 6d and 16d but my clue of the day is 5d. What do you think? – leave us a comment, and please don’t forget to grade the puzzle by clicking on one of the stars below.

41 comments on “DT 26129

  1. Views on ease will obviously differ, but I found this considerably tougher than most of Ray T’s puzzles. Indeed, I found the Toughie easier than this crossword – I think I solved it in half the time it took to get to the end of this one. Mostly this was down to four or five clues that were obstinate in their resolution. Nevertheless it was a cracking puzzle and my favourite clue was 16d.

  2. The first puzzle I’ve looked at for 2 weeks, and it took me a little while to get into this. The last 2 i struggled with were 17a and 5d. I guessed at 5d, but read “He’s” as he is, not he has…

  3. Gazza,
    Like Prolixic I disagree with the two stars for difficulty. Parts of this were a bit of a struggle. What do you put in your coffee?
    Re. 8d, it can’t be theoretical, because it has been proven to exist. The LHC for example was created in an attempt to prove certain areas of theoretical physics.
    Finally has anybody else seen bum used as an anagram indicator like this?

    1. Libellule,

      Re 3d, I trhink you mean 8d?

      16d. I’m not sure I have seen “bum” used as an anagram indicator before, but, I thought it was obvious and, compared to some indicators we’ve seen, I think this is quite acceptable.

      1. Vince, yes I did will fix it. I am not complaining about the use of bum as an indicator, I am just curious if anybody has seen it used as an indicator before.

        1. Not sure if I have, but Chambers Crossword Dictionary (highly recommended, btw) lists it in its anagram indicators. Ray’s use of it here shows a setter working hard to find exactly the right indicator to create a good surface and raise a smile at the same time.

          It prompted me to have a quick rummage through that indicator list for other unexpected inclusions. Some, I think, are plain wrong – structure, inky and react are just a few of those which I suspect most solvers wouldn’t be happy with. An interesting one (which I have seen used in even The Times) is “ginger”. I’ll stand corrected, but I think this is based on the rhyming slang “ginger beer”/”queer”, since Chambers has ginger (verb) as “to liven up”, which doesn’t really fit well with suggesting a jumbling of letters.

          1. Some time ago “pants” was the flavour of the month as an anagram indicator. I wonder whether we’ll see more bums now?

  4. Found this difficult and was eventually defeaated by 17a. There are a lot of clues I liked, but a few I didn’t. You have already mentioned 26a (why “he”?) and 24a (which word to be flipped?)

    11a. I thought “thick” was a poor definition.

    2d. Can’t compilers agree on a standard here? Usually, “regularly” indicates the even-numbered letters, with “oddly” referring to the odd-numbered” letters. But, occasionally, we get the compiler, as today, deciding that “regularly” means the odd letters.

    5d. The contraction of “he has” was a bit too clever for me. I wasn’t certain that I had the right answer, because I didn’t get 17a.

    I particularly liked 16d.

    1. Vince
      2d. Regularly can mean either evenly or oddly. I can’t see why regularly should be restricted to the even-numbered letters.

      1. Gazza,

        What you’re saying is: when a compiler uses “oddly”, he means odd letters, but when he uses “regularly”, he means odd letters or even letters. Surely we solvers need more consideration??? (For “he” read “he/she”)

        1. Vince
          Yes. 1,3,5,7… etc, is odd, and 2,4,6,8… etc, is even, but regularly just means in a regular pattern and can be either.
          In theory, although I’ve never seen it, regularly could be 1,4,7,10…. or 2,5,8,11… etc.

  5. Most of this was a complete mystery! Seeing the explanation to 13d, I understand the answer, but what has it got to do with ‘perform’ – or am I missing something??

    1. Newbie
      13d. The definition is (to) perform, and perpetrate means to commit or carry out, so it’s a reasonable synonym for perform.

  6. They are not getting any easier, This was an excellent puzzle to get the gray matter warmed up.
    minus 3 outside and looking like snow up here in Geordieland. I have seen icicles today for the first time in quite a while.
    Thanks for descriptions Gazza.

    1. 4 inches of snow here at the moment Nubian, a good day for sitting by the fire and doing crosswords

  7. Nice crossword but like some others I thought it rated 3* at least for difficulty. Great blog as always Gazza thanks very much.

  8. Not on the right wave-length at all today. Hated it, and could only do about two words apart from the lower right corner. And on seeing your much-appreciated explanations I wasn’t much happier: didn’t like 11a, but agree that 16d was best.

  9. Got really stuck on the bottom r/h corner because I had flipped the wrong word for 24a and ended up with drab! which gave me obvious problems with 24d and 18d, also did not get 17a, otherwise it was a puzzle i had to ‘keep at’ and agree with most that it was harder than a 2*

  10. I thought that this was pretty tricky as well but very enjoyable.
    20 probably favourite

  11. Probably the most difficult puzzle for some time, been looking at it now since breakfast and have yet to get a single clue!
    Good luck to the more experienced guys, this ones for you!

    1. Just been through the answers on this excellent blog and my only comment, ROLL ON TOMORROW!
      For me absolutely diabolical!! Awful!

      1. Just before Christmas, Jay mentioned that he will be covering most of the Wednesday puzzles in the New Year. I don’t know who will taking over his Thursday slot.

    1. Hi Kev – welcome to the blog.
      Pressure (symbol: P) is the force per unit area applied in a direction perpendicular to the surface of an object. (source Wikipedia)

  12. Enjoyable and I’m no expert. 5D – I had Ironmonger (Nuts & bolts oviously) but could not see why – thanks for your explanation ( he has and not he is) . We have plenty of excellent Ironmongers here in Spain – they are called “Ferraterias” – and sell everything. Excellent blog – very grateful

  13. Just a random thought on 5d. He’s representing “he has” is fine where you are using the past tense of a verb such as “he’s been to the cinema”. However, is is legitimate to use it in the sense of possession of a noun? Can “he has nuts” be contracted to “he’s nuts” under normal English usage? If it cannot, does the clue stand up even under cyptic usage? Perhaps “He’s stored nuts” would have worked as a better clue?

    1. I think that he’s nuts is ok, in the same way as we’d say, of a farmer, “he’s 60 cows and 100 sheep”. The problem with “he’s stored nuts” is that it doesn’t have the same amusing surface reading.

  14. Setter here…

    Thanks again to Gazza for the review, and to everybody else for their comments.

    Regarding the contraction of ‘he has’ to ‘he’s’ in Present Simple as opposed to Present Perfect, how about ‘He’s lots to do’?

    A good New Year to all.

  15. Very hard this one, like pulling teeth. Finally got it 5D and 17A being the last two. Yes, loved 16D we both had a smirk about that one.
    Took a while with 7A as well.
    Just off for tea and then on to the Toughie! Someone said this was easier, thank goodness.

  16. I have never blogged before so I don’t know if I’m doing the right thing. What I can say is that crosswording has ruined my life!!! I now never seem to get out of my pjs until lunchtime which means I get nothing done, they are so totally addictive…

  17. I found this fairly easy but got 24a the wrong way round which meant that I couldn’t find words for 18 and 24d. Will look out for these double reversals in future!

    1. I would agree with this. I was well aware of that it was either Drab or Bard but the clue didn’t resolve itself upon reading to determine which was the actual definition.
      On the rare occasions that this happens I generally say ‘Ho-Hun’ and wait until I get a checking letter – this took a bit of time today!

      Question for more experienced setters/solvers – Is this frowned upon per gazza’s analaysis or is it considered fair game?

  18. I agree with John on this one, like pulling teeth. Managed just over half, not on the same wavelength at all. Can’t say I liked bum as anagram indicator, thought 5d was clever – which I didn’t get but liked it when I checked the breakdown – and like everyone else I got 24a round the wrong way…

  19. I agree with most that this probably should be 3* rather than 2*.

    However, I did find this easier than yesterday’s. I actually completed this with 100% accuracy whereas yesterday I got two wrong.

    I liked 17a, 24a, 26a, 5d, 13d, 16d and 19d.

  20. Quite a few permutations in this one – 23a &16d for example.
    24a was a nuisance!!
    I first thought that 17a was teller until I got 5d – used to know a dirty joke about a nut case in a laundry who ejoyed himself over a period of time and then vamoosed – headline was “Nut screws washers and bolts”

  21. Found this really difficult and therefore not particularly enjoyable although ‘bum’ as an anagram indicator appealed to our childish sense of humour.
    Why does Tilsit not like ‘diminish?’ If it’s because the use of the word ‘dish’ to describe a ‘stunner’ is so middle-aged, then I’m with him.

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