DT 26285

Daily Telegraph Cryptic No 26285

Hints and tips by Gazza

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BD Rating – Difficulty **Enjoyment ***

Ray T must have taken pity on us this week because this puzzle is not as tricky as his usual offerings. The downside is that, amongst the clever and amusing clues, there are several cryptic definitions which are a bit weak. As always we’re keen to hear your views, so let us have a comment.
The answers are hidden between the curly brackets under the relevant clue. Just highlight the space between the brackets to reveal.

Across Clues

1a  Ageing old boy with unique odour (11)
{OBSOLESCENT} – an adjective meaning ageing or passing its sell-by date is constructed from the abbreviation for old boy, an adjective meaning one and only and a synonym for odour.

10a  New start with former American bond (5)
{NEXUS} – string together the first letter (start) of N(ew), a preposition meaning former and one of the abbreviations for American to get a bond or linked group.

11a  Double eagle producing handicap (9)
{ALBATROSS} – double definition. This large seabird is an alternative name for a score of three under par on a golf hole (double eagle) and is also used to describe an oppressive burden (derived from Coleridge’s Rime of the Ancient Mariner).

12a  Flog, beating the opposition (9)
{UNDERSELL} – this is a verb to do what John Lewis say their competitors will never do to them (to their knowledge). Not really very cryptic because flog is probably used more often in this sense than as a verb to beat, so the attempted misdirection does not work very well.

13a  A kid’s back sponge (5)
{LOOFA} – this sponge (more often spelt with a final H) is A and a verb to kid or deceive all reversed (back).

14a  Nun from the slums is Teresa (6)
{SISTER} – a nun is hidden (from) in the clue.

16a  Excessive butt on one lass (8)
{PRODIGAL} – guffaw time. An adjective meaning extravagant or excessive is made by stringing together a verb to butt or nudge, I (one) and a way of describing a young woman (lass).

18a  Dabblers in art with a muse, perhaps (8)
{AMATEURS} – an anagram (perhaps) of ART and A MUSE.

20a  Sounds made by good little pigs (6)
{GRUNTS} – this should be no problem to anyone who did Saturday’s Cryptic. Start with G(ood) and add the smallest piglets in a litter.

23a  Flower gift around middle of July (5)
{TULIP} – put a gift or gratuity around the middle letters of jULy.

24a  Platform for ‘Brief Encounter’? (9)
{COURTROOM} – I really like this clue, not least because the film Brief Encounter was shot largely at the railway station at Carnforth (a nine-letter word starting with C). This is a cryptic description of a place where a barrister (brief) has the opportunity (platform) to argue his/her case in an engagement (encounter) with the opposing side.

26a  Disparagement when individual takes Independent (9)
{ASPERSION} – a synonym for disparagement is AS (when) followed by another word for an individual with (takes) I(ndependent) inside.

27a  Bird with a new superman (5)
{TITAN} – start with  small songbird and add A and N(ew) to get someone of very great strength (superman).

28a  Clear spring after flowed into river (11)
{TRANSPARENT} – the definition is clear or see-through. Put a mineral spring after a verb meaning flowed or moved swiftly, and then place both inside the river which flows through Nottingham.

Down Clues

2d  Scrapped and put in container (5)
{BOXED} – double definition, scrapped meaning took part in a contest in a ring.

3d  See’s ever so worried about Bishop (7)
{OBSERVE} – see here is not, as the setter is trying to make you think, a diocese but a verb meaning to watch. It’s an anagram (worried) of EVER SO around B(ishop).

4d  External protection for canines? (6)
{ENAMEL} – what do you think of when you see the word canines? If you’re a regular solver then you probably think of teeth.

5d  You’ll find them, at last, working (8)
{COBBLERS} – another cryptic description which should be pretty easy as long as you know that a last is a model of a foot to assist in the making or repairing of footwear.

6d  Cross trapped around edge of goal (7)
{NETTLED} – the definition is cross or peeved. Put a word meaning trapped or caught (a fish, perhaps) around the last letter (edge) of (goa)L.

7d  Taliban is nuts blowing up weak (13)
{INSUBSTANTIAL} – an anagram (blowing up) of TALIBAN IS NUTS.

8d  One may go downhill fast (8)
{TOBOGGAN} – another cryptic definition which is a bit weak. Think of the Winter Olympics.

9d  Firm foundation (13)
{ESTABLISHMENT} – double definition.

15d  Ship netting endless fish rising for seafood (8)
{SCALLOPS} – we want the name of the fish of the cod family that hit the headlines last year when Sainsbury’s announced that they were renaming it “colin” (the French word for said fish) because some of their customers were too embarrassed to ask for it by name (they must have got some very precious customers, is all I can say). Drop the final K (endless) from this fish and reverse (rising) what’s left and place it inside the usual abbreviation for ship to get seafood.

17d  Redhead in party piece (8)
{FRACTION} – “redhead” in this context means the initial letter (head) of R(ed). Some cryptic purists frown on this usage (other examples being the use of legend for “G” or Middlesex for “E”) but it seems fine to me. Put this letter inside a small political grouping (party) to get a piece or fragment of something.

19d  Nero say, through in ruined Rome (7)
{EMPEROR} – put a latin word meaning through or by means of inside an anagram (ruined) of ROME to get what Nero was an example (say) of.

21d  It goes round and round, up and down (7)
{ROTATOR} – we want a word that reads the same up and down (in a down clue) so it’s a palindrome.

22d  Vegetable staple perhaps, with furrow turned over (6)
{TURNIP} – reverse (turned over, in a down clue) a sort (perhaps) of staple and a synonym for furrow to get Baldrick’s favourite vegetable.

25d  Regularly starts to open Financial Times, expecting news (5)
{OFTEN} – an adverb meaning regularly or frequently is constructed from the initial letters (starts) of five words in the clue.

The clues which I liked today included 1a, 16a and 3d, but my favourite was 24a. What about you? Leave us a comment!


  1. Nubian
    Posted July 6, 2010 at 11:07 am | Permalink | Reply

    A nice gentle puzzle today which is just what I needed.
    All doable clues although 11a may get some people irritated.
    Fav was 10a
    least fav 6d,
    Thanks for the blog Gazza, I always enjoy Blackadder.I still laugh at ‘A sticky situation,stickier than when Sticky the stick insect got stuck to a sticky bun”

    • gnomethang
      Posted July 6, 2010 at 11:30 am | Permalink | Reply

      I do like the Cunning Plans – “Its so cunning that you could put a tail on it and call it a weasel”

      • Kath
        Posted July 6, 2010 at 12:32 pm | Permalink | Reply

        I love that one too – it’s an expression used often in our family!

  2. crypticsue
    Posted July 6, 2010 at 11:12 am | Permalink | Reply

    I enjoyed this nice puzzle too. Agree with Gazza re weak clues, but didn’t mind too much as most are very good. Major problem understanding why 6 down was what it was as there is a splodge of ink on the final ‘l’ in my paper, making it look like a “t” so I spent a few minutes trying to see what a goat had to do with it!

  3. Jezza
    Posted July 6, 2010 at 11:23 am | Permalink | Reply

    I thought this was an easier offering from RayT, but still enjoyable. My only mistake was putting in ‘braces’ for 4d, which help me up on 1a!

  4. gnomethang
    Posted July 6, 2010 at 11:28 am | Permalink | Reply

    I thought I was in the middle of a complete stinker today and didn’t recognise RayT’s hand in the puzzle at all. I then realised that I had actually started the Times and not the Telegraph!.
    I agree that this is not as hard as many but was still very nicely observed – I thought that 18a and 24a were great.
    Thanks to RayT and to gazza for the review

  5. Prolixic
    Posted July 6, 2010 at 11:51 am | Permalink | Reply

    Nice crossword from Ray T. I agree that it was gentler than his past few puzzles. Favourite clues, like Gazza, were 24a and 16a. Many thanks to Ray T and to Gazza for the review.

  6. Mr Tub
    Posted July 6, 2010 at 12:16 pm | Permalink | Reply

    On Monday nights I lay awake worrying about Tuesday’s crossword, but I didn’t find that as difficult as I have some other weeks. Spelling mistakes in 1a and 8d caused me the most problems!

  7. Kath
    Posted July 6, 2010 at 12:31 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Major problems with 1a and 11a due to falling into a trap with 4d – too embarrassed to even write down what I had for the answer – would have thought that I had been doing cryptic crosswords for long enough not to make that kind of mistake! Oh dear! Several of these clues had me scratching my head a bit, the main ones being 12a, 24a and 7d. I have never heard of 10a but worked it out from the clue and then looked it up – always quite pleased to have learnt a new word.

    • AndrewMB
      Posted July 6, 2010 at 2:06 pm | Permalink | Reply

      I was thinking of ‘Kennel’ for 4d too Kath but fortunately avoided the trap.
      Favourites today were 11a and 16a.

  8. Nubian
    Posted July 6, 2010 at 12:48 pm | Permalink | Reply

    The toughie is very reasonable today.

  9. BigBoab
    Posted July 6, 2010 at 1:12 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Thanks RayT and Gazza, fun crossword and review, very enjoyable.

  10. peter
    Posted July 6, 2010 at 1:15 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Liked and finished this

    11a is super

    I Thought Carnforth too

  11. Lea
    Posted July 6, 2010 at 1:21 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Thanks Gazza and Ray T. Best clues for me wre 1a, 16a and 26a. 16a madee me smile for the wordplay.

  12. Pommers
    Posted July 6, 2010 at 2:47 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Liked this one – thanks to Ray T and Gazza.
    I, too, had braces for 4d for a while until I got all the checking letters. Then for some reason I stared at it for about 5 minutes before the penny dropped! Must be the Alicante heat (33C and rising) that’s getting to me!

    • Pommers
      Posted July 6, 2010 at 2:47 pm | Permalink | Reply

      Think I might have a beer before tackling the Toughie!

      • crypticsue
        Posted July 6, 2010 at 2:52 pm | Permalink | Reply

        Its quite nice today, probably doable with just a cup of tea, unless of course the sun is over the yardarm where you are!!

        • Pommers
          Posted July 6, 2010 at 3:08 pm | Permalink | Reply

          Sun’s always over the yardarm somewhere! But we are an hour ahead of UK time here in Spain and the weather v hot and the beer v cold!.

  13. Barrie
    Posted July 6, 2010 at 2:50 pm | Permalink | Reply

    OH GOD a Ray T!! Still I managed 7 clues which is 7 more than I normally do with one of his. With help I am now halfway but losing the will to live! Think I’ll just wait for tomorrows, just can’t see his reasoning at all.

  14. David R
    Posted July 6, 2010 at 2:54 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Thanks for the excellent blog, especially the Blackadder clip. Certainly easier than many Tuesday puzzles. Favourite clue was 21d for the way it reads.

    Will try the Toughie on Nubian’s recommendation. Hopefully it won’t have me tearing my hair out.

  15. Geoff
    Posted July 6, 2010 at 3:12 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Got about halfway and then needed some hints. Unlike most, I didn’t enjoy it much, although I can see the appeal of 24a.

  16. Sarah F
    Posted July 6, 2010 at 3:36 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Liked this very much & needed the blog for just a few, so feel I’ve achieved well today. Fav clues 11a, 16a, 22d,5d and 6d.

  17. Digby
    Posted July 6, 2010 at 4:17 pm | Permalink | Reply

    First clue to go in was the “obvious” 24a, which was a very bad way to start. As an eagle is 2 under par, wouldn’t a double eagle be 4 under, not 3? (11a)

    • Digby
      Posted July 6, 2010 at 4:19 pm | Permalink | Reply

      I just Googled it, and I’m wrong. But it still doesn’t compute, to my mind.

    • gazza
      Posted July 6, 2010 at 4:24 pm | Permalink | Reply

      I think that 4 under par is impossible. As far as I can make out “double eagle” is not used much in the UK where albatross is the preferred term.

      • Digby
        Posted July 6, 2010 at 4:26 pm | Permalink | Reply

        You’re correct Gazza. I guess in the USA that 2+2=3, which could explain many things!!

      • Pommers
        Posted July 6, 2010 at 4:42 pm | Permalink | Reply

        You are quite correct Gazza – 4 under apr would require a hole-in-one on a par five which is even out of Tiger Wood’s range! The problem is that the yanks can’t spell “albatross” but of course “double eagle” is something to do with their money!

        • gazza
          Posted July 6, 2010 at 4:48 pm | Permalink | Reply

          An eagle used to be a gold coin worth $10 and a double-eagle one worth $20, so their maths is a bit better when money is involved!

          • Digby
            Posted July 6, 2010 at 4:59 pm | Permalink | Reply

            Or, as our Colonial Cousins would say, “math”

            • gnomethang
              Posted July 6, 2010 at 5:32 pm | Permalink | Reply

              There is a par 5 at our course where the winter green position makes it drivable for a pro so conceivably it could be aced and in theory be a treble eagle or somthing stupid.
              An albatross is a pretty rare bird as it is.

              • gazza
                Posted July 6, 2010 at 5:38 pm | Permalink | Reply

                The Americans would probably call that a quadruple eagle.

              • Pommers
                Posted July 6, 2010 at 7:06 pm | Permalink | Reply

                I think I’m losing the will to live! I’m not a golfer!

                • gnomethang
                  Posted July 6, 2010 at 7:14 pm | Permalink | Reply

                  Don’t worry – normal service will be resolved soon.

  18. Ray T
    Posted July 6, 2010 at 6:56 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Setter here, just to say thanks for the analysis and all the comments.

    Ray T

    • Pommers
      Posted July 6, 2010 at 7:18 pm | Permalink | Reply

      Hi Ray T, thanks to you for the puzzle!
      Difficult but doable and , in the end, very enjoyable! More like that one please!

  19. Pommers
    Posted July 6, 2010 at 8:17 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Gazza, you say in your intro that there are some “weak” cryptic definitions. I can’t see them as i thought the puzzle was pretty good and fair overall. I’d be interested to know your thoughts.
    I personally didn’t like 24a (unlike everyone else) because for some reason I had got “countdown” in my mind and couldn’t get rid of it! I invoke either age or heat as my excuse!

    • gazza
      Posted July 6, 2010 at 8:52 pm | Permalink | Reply

      I suppose the essence of a good cryptic definition is to persuade you that you are looking for one thing when in fact you need something completely different. I thought that 24a was excellent in this regard.
      The cryptic definitions which I didn’t like much (and it’s just a personal opinion) were:
      12a This is trying to persuade you that flog means beat, but I think that most people these days use it as an informal verb meaning to sell. When I read the clue I immediately thought of “sell”.
      4d. On a similar basis the setter wants you to think that canines means dogs, but in cryptic crosswords it’s probably more likely to mean teeth, and then it’s just a quick step to the answer (perhaps if I hadn’t already got some checking letters I might have thought of braces, as some others did from the comments).
      5d. The “at last” was a dead giveaway.
      8d. The clue is trying to make you think that “go downhill” means deteriorate, but we want something that literally does what it says.

      None of these is a bad clue, but for me (and I stress again that it’s a personal view) none of them made me head off in the wrong direction or gave me a “aha” moment when I grasped what was required (unlike 24a which definitely did), so I thought that as cryptic definitions they were a bit weak.

      • Pommers
        Posted July 6, 2010 at 9:16 pm | Permalink | Reply

        All fair comments. My thought is that you are obviously a far more experienced solver than most of us on this blog and I, for one, was momentarily distracted by some of the intended misdirection (especially 4d – see previous post!). However, we got there in the end!
        What to you seems a “weak” definition is probably as good as some of us get!
        Anyway, enough of that – many thanks for the review and the time it must take to write. Please be assured it is most appreciated.

      • Pommers
        Posted July 6, 2010 at 9:29 pm | Permalink | Reply

        By the way, my last answer probably explains why I struggle with Toughies most of the time!

      • Ray T
        Posted July 6, 2010 at 9:53 pm | Permalink | Reply

        Perfectly fair comment from Gazza. Clues like these may fool some, but the ‘old hands’ are not easily deceived!

        Ray T

        • Pommers
          Posted July 6, 2010 at 10:08 pm | Permalink | Reply

          I thanked Gazza for his time in writing the review and now I also thank you for the time and effort involved in constructing such a good puzzle. It really was a bit taxing for me but I got there!
          A crossword clue’s difficulty is in the eye of the beholder – Gazza is far better than me but I’m better than some of the CC. You can’t hope to be all things to all men but today’s, I think, came pretty close!

          • Libellule
            Posted July 7, 2010 at 11:57 am | Permalink | Reply

            Its is generally accepted in DT land, that Rufus is one of the masters when it comes to Cryptic Definitions.

  20. Franny
    Posted July 6, 2010 at 8:31 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Yes, thanks Ray T. I never thought I’d be able to finish one of your puzzles, but this one was most encouraging. I did it this morning quite early before the sun started beating down. Couldn’t remember the name of the station in “Brief Encounter”, but did manage to find the answer without it. A number of the clues amused me and I did enjoy doing it. I liked 9d as it made me think of corsets — a nightmare in this heat!

    • Pommers
      Posted July 6, 2010 at 8:42 pm | Permalink | Reply

      Glad I didn’t think or corsets! i’d never have got it finished!!!

  21. Little Dave
    Posted July 6, 2010 at 9:59 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Initially thought this was going to be a sticker but eased through it so it was done on the return commute. Great puzzle and a 3*.

  22. Spindrift
    Posted July 7, 2010 at 7:23 am | Permalink | Reply

    Put HERO+N in 27a which threw me for a while but after that it was plain sailing.

  23. old_bill
    Posted July 7, 2010 at 6:24 pm | Permalink | Reply

    other examples being the use of legend for “G” or Middlesex for “E” – how?

    I put ‘celluloid’ for 24a. doh!

    • Posted July 7, 2010 at 6:36 pm | Permalink | Reply

      Was that a question? leG end and middle sEx. These constructs are avoided by many setters.

      • old_bill
        Posted July 7, 2010 at 11:39 pm | Permalink | Reply

        Ohhh i get it now. Thanks!

        (Not a quiestion – something mentioned above)

  24. Wingnut
    Posted July 7, 2010 at 10:30 pm | Permalink | Reply

    I stupidly put MOTHER for 14a and then kept telling myself that 7d could not be an anagram. Eventually I wrote the anagram letters down and the answer jumped out at which point 14 across did too. Stupid. Can’t believe 11a, a double eagle would be 4 under par and that’s not an albatross. Don’t golfers do maths?

    • Pommers
      Posted July 7, 2010 at 10:47 pm | Permalink | Reply

      Apparently not – see previous posts on this subject!

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