June 2010 – Page 2 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog

ST 2541 – as solved by two of us

Sunday Telegraph Cryptic No 2541

Blow-by-blow solving accounts from two contributors

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

Peter’s introduction

For a change this week, we’re trying to show you the solving process in action rather than an explanation of the clues written after the event. Two of us solved this puzzle while making notes about our thoughts, so that you can see two approaches to solving and the differences and similarities between our thought processes.

If you’re reading this to learn something, Gnomethang’s solving experience will be more familiar, and mine may seem absurdly unlikely. Mine is the result of a lot of practice – I’ve been trying to solve cryptics for about 34 years, tackling at least two puzzles a day for more than 25 of those years. I’ve been doing puzzles written by Brian Greer in particular for most of that period – he was probably a Times setter when I first looked (overambitiously) at Times puzzles in 1977, and he edited the Times crossword from 1995 to 2000 (Times xwd editors are setters, who amend clues quite often to achieve their version of the ‘Times style’). You’ll see that even with all that experience I don’t always see everything correctly when I first read a clue – I go up some blind alleys just like everyone else. As well as knowing commonly used tricks very well, the benefit of those years of practice is often seeing the right ‘wordplay structure’ early on, though not always knowing why. You might wonder why, after so much practice that these puzzles are often easy, I still do them. Apart from championship practice and spreading the cryptic crossword gospel, I do them partly because there’s always the chance that something will fox me for a while, and partly because I hope to see some clever treatment of words – in this puzzle, the ‘doubled’ bits of wordplay in 2D and 4D are a couple of examples.

Caveat: Although we’ve tried to record our thoughts accurately, cryptic clues rely on language-based tricks and our brains deal with language in ways that we don’t always understand – if you read books about language by people like Steven Pinker you’ll discover linguistic rules faithfully followed by your brain without your conscious knowledge. So when we’re solving clues, there may important things going on in our heads that we don’t know about, and statements about what we think and don’t think about apply only to our deliberate/conscious thinking.
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DT 26276

Daily Telegraph Cryptic No 26276

Hints and tips by Gazza

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

We have a typical Giovanni today (but with the usual sprinkling of religious references). Let us know what you thought of it in a comment.
As always the answers are hidden between the brackets under the clues. Just drag your cursor through the white space between the brackets to reveal one.

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Toughie 377

Toughie No 377 by Kcit

Hints and tips by Bufo

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BD Rating – Difficulty *** Enjoyment ***

It was a pleasant, non-controversial puzzle with some nice clues for me to blog this week. There was nothing really obscure in it and for once I had no problems working out the wordplay.

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.

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DT 26271

Daily Telegraph Cryptic No 26271

A full review by Crypticsue

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BD Rating – Difficulty **Enjoyment ****

Reading the first few clues, I had to check whether I had the right day of the week, as it seemed to me that the puzzle was slightly harder than previous Saturday offerings. Once I got into it, however, and 1a’d to the compiler’s cunning plan, it turned out to be a relatively quick solve with some splendid clues, 17a, 27a, 2d being just some of my favourites.

Please 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.

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DT 26275

Daily Telegraph Cryptic No 26275

Hints and tips by Big Dave

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

I have nearly worn out the blue highlighter today – there were so many excellent clues in this puzzle. Once again we don’t know the name of the setter, but we have not had a puzzle as good as this one on a Thursday since Jay relinquished the slot at the start of the year.

The clue at 8 down is one of the best I have seen in a long time. I hope the setter owns up to this one.

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.

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Toughie 376

Toughie No 376 by Excalibur

Robust bus expelled (3)

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BD Rating – Difficulty ***Enjoyment *

Disjointed, lacking structure and providing very little entertainment. But enough of the England football team, what of today’s Toughie? Well, pretty much the same really. I did think at one time that Excalibur’s puzzles were improving a bit after some of the very poor ones from last year, but it’s difficult to find much positive to say about this one (well, one thing, I did quite like 26a). Some of the surface readings (e.g. 19a, 15d and 25d) are gibberish, and there was nothing that made me smile, let alone laugh.
You may of course have a totally different view, and, whether you do or not, we’d love to get a comment from you.

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DT 26274

Daily Telegraph Cryptic No 26274

Hints and tips by Big Dave

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BD Rating – Difficulty *** Enjoyment ***

I can’t think of much to say about this puzzle. Perhaps my mind is on other events today!

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.

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Toughie 375

Toughie No 375 by Busman

Busman steps up a gear!

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

Usually I find Busman’s puzzles to be on the easy side and not particularly enjoyable. Although this one is not difficult, apart from the Greek abbot and the Spanish composer, there were some excellent clues. The biggest smiles came from 1 across and 11 across, with 15 down not far behind.

I rounded the difficulty up to 3 stars, mainly because of the aforementioned foreigners.

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.

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DT 26273

Daily Telegraph Cryptic No 26273

Hints and tips by Gazza

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

We have a challenging and very entertaining puzzle today from Ray T with some very amusing clues. It’s well worth persevering with, but, if you want something a bit easier Prolixic informs me that today’s Toughie is not as difficult. Let us know what you think of this one, and how you think it compares with the Toughie.
If you want to see the answers, they’re hidden between the curly brackets under the relevant clues. Highlight the space between the brackets to reveal.

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DT 26272

Daily Telegraph Cryptic No 26272

Hints and tips by Libellule

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BD Rating – Difficulty ** Enjoyment ***

First of all I would like to thank Dr. BlueDragon for his appreciation of the blog on DNUK. Now having done that, we can turn our thoughts to Monday’s crossword by Rufus. Although I did enjoy this, there are some fun cryptic defintions, I did at times feel as if I was dipping into a box of old chestnuts.

If you are still struggling with the answer after reading the hint, just highlight the space between the curly brackets.

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