DT 26743

Daily Telegraph Cryptic No 26743

Hints and tips by Gazza

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

I was expecting a themed puzzle today but it’s a straightforward offering from Giovanni, enjoyable as ever. The grid does contain some of the dreaded double unches which I know that some don’t like although I don’t see them as a problem. Let us know how you fared.
Since this is my last blog before the holiday may I take this opportunity to wish everyone (setters, fellow bloggers, commenters and lurkers) a Very Happy Christmas.

Across Clues

1a  Analyse Eastern adherent of monotheistc sect (6)
{PARSEE} – a verb meaning to analyse and split a sentence (or a clue) into its component parts is followed by E(astern) to make an adherent of a Zoroastrian sect in India.

5a  No cure — it is awful suffering mentally (8)
{NEUROTIC} – an anagram (is awful) of NO CURE IT.

9a  Hungarian obedient? To some extent the reverse — carefree (8)
{DEBONAIR} – an adjective meaning carefree or self-assured is hidden (to some extent) and reversed in the clue.

10a  Engineers given second signal will be free from danger (6)
{RESCUE} – a verb meaning to free from danger is built from the abbreviation for the Royal Engineers, S(econd) and a signal or reminder.

11a  Bird has fun heading off back with straw for home? (8)
{NUTHATCH} – we had this songbird a couple of weeks ago. Remove the initial letter (heading off) from (f)UN and reverse what’s left (back) then add the type of straw that may be used as a roof covering for a home.

12a  In centre of Brussels there will be long delays (6)
{STALLS} – take the two central letters of BruSSels and between them insert a synonym for long. The result is a verb meaning delays or plays for time.

13a  Message that something still needs to be done about bodyguard (8)
{REMINDER} – put together a preposition meaning about or concerning and a bodyguard of the type that Arthur Daley employed.

15a  Plant in wet ground that spreads across river (4)
{FERN} – marshy, wet ground contains (spreads across) R(iver) to make a flowerless plant.

17a  Opposing Victorian child-exploiter: ‘Off with his head!’ (4)
{AGIN} – drop the initial F (off with his head) from the name of a Dickens child-exploiter to leave a dialect form of a proposition meaning in opposition to.

19a  Indian lords, heartless folk making slow progress (8)
{CREEPERS} – the definition here is folk making slow progress. A member of an Indian tribe living in North America is followed by another word for lords without its middle E (heartless).

20a  What is’t that completes fine infusion?! (6)
{TISANE} – this is an infusion of the type that Hercule Poirot is very fond of. To get it you have to explain what completes the word finE (’3,2,1). Rather than saying “it is …” you have to contract that bit of the explanation to match the is’t in the clue.

21a  She may need to come down to earth (8)
{AIRWOMAN} – this was the last answer I put in because I thought there must be more to it and that I was missing something, but it’s just a weakish cryptic definition.

22a  River racer? (6)
{RUNNER} – double definition.

23a  Dire end to time in hospital unit covered in muck (8)
{BEGRIMED} – put a synonym for dire and the end letter of (tim)E inside the unit used to define the size of a hospital.

24a  Is nothing in Ulster city ridiculous? (8)
{DERISORY} – insert IS and O (zero, nothing) in the name of a city in Northern Ireland.

25a  The drunk stood for election in the capital (6)
{TEHRAN} – this capital city is an anagram (drunk) of THE followed by a verb meaning stood for election.

Down Clues

2d  Competent English Queen participating in an engagement (8)
{ADEQUATE} – an adjective meaning competent or suitable is constructed by inserting (participating) E(nglish) and one of the abbreviations for queen in A and an engagement (possibly one of a romantic nature).

3d  It can help one entering court (8)
{SHOEHORN} – … court here being something that ladies wear.

4d  Eat morsel that’s horrible rubbery stuff (9)
{ELASTOMER} – an anagram (that’s horrible) of EAT MORSEL produces a natural or synthetic polymer having the qualities of rubber. A new word for me.

5d  Novel by a Bronte surprisingly full of hot wrath (10,5)
{NORTHANGER ABBEY} – this is my least favourite Jane Austen novel. It’s an anagram (surprisingly) of BY A BRONTE around H(ot) and a synonym for wrath.

6d  Come back into section of green territory (2-5)
{RE-ENTER} – a verb meaning to come back into is hidden (section) in the clue.

7d  Mark has got together with Heather — that’s exciting! (8)
{TICKLING} – combine the sort of mark that teacher would give you for getting your sums right with a word for heather (ignoring the false capitalisation) that turns up a lot in crosswords.

8d  A board member, he’s entertained by Civil Service staff (8)
{CHESSMAN} – there are 32 of these board members standing at the start of a game. HE’S goes inside (entertained by) the abbreviation for Civil Service, then to finish we want a verb meaning to provide staff for.

14d  Small plant you found hidden in the middle of Hebe, correct? (9)
{EYEBRIGHT} – this is a small plant with white flowers, once used as a remedy for sight problems. An old word meaning you goes inside (found hidden in) the middle letters of HEBe and this is followed by a synonym of correct.

15d  Female became different and stumbled (8)
{FALTERED} – F(emale) is followed by a verb meaning changed or became different.

16d  One tries to be logical about a boy with hesitation (8)
{REASONER} – someone who tries to be logical is a charade of a) a preposition meaning about, b) A, c) a male child and d) what you say if you’re stuck for a word (hesitation).

17d  Regarding province, say nothing to shock (8)
{ASTONISH} – a verb meaning to shock is a charade of a phrase (2,2) meaning regarding, the abbreviation for a province of the United Kingdom and a request to say nothing.

18d  Secret American manoeuvres (2,6)
{IN CAMERA} – this is a phrase meaning secret (often used to describe a meeting from which the public and press are excluded). It’s an anagram (manoeuvres) of AMERICAN.

19d  Children’s game — defeats being reported (7)
{CONKERS} – this children’s game takes place in the autumn (if the Health and Safety czars allow it). It sounds like (being reported) defeats or overruns.

The clues that I liked best were 9a, 20a, 5d and 17d. What about you?

Today’s Quickie Pun: {PEN} + {TEA} + {COST} = {PENTECOST}



  1. cheese
    Posted December 23, 2011 at 11:12 am | Permalink

    We’re not a particularly vociferous demographic, but on behalf of all lurkers, can I wish you and everyone on here a particularly merry Christmas and an extraordinarily happy and prosperous new year!

    • gazza
      Posted December 23, 2011 at 11:17 am | Permalink

      Thanks Boaz and the same to you.

      • Posted December 23, 2011 at 11:20 am | Permalink

        Good morning Gazza. What is a double unch? A happy Christmas to you and all the team and many thanks for your support through the year

        • gazza
          Posted December 23, 2011 at 11:26 am | Permalink

          A double unch is two consecutive unchecked characters (like characters 6 and 7 of 2d and 7d).

          • Posted December 23, 2011 at 11:44 am | Permalink

            Ah Holmes, I see it all now! Thanks for that, it’s one of those things I always wondered but was afraid to ask. :-)

    • Posted December 23, 2011 at 11:23 am | Permalink

      Heh. I really ought to learn how to post on here properly! Cheese indeed. That certainly isn’t my ‘low level all purpose internet password’. Oh no…

  2. moose
    Posted December 23, 2011 at 11:23 am | Permalink

    A struggle this morning though a 30 minute interlude seemed to act as a suitable prompt. The letters I had in 14d suggested what turned out to be the answer though I needed to look it up, not being strong on matters of the garden!
    Didn’t solve 1a ’cause I anticipated the ‘E’ at the beginning. Enjoyed 20a, 3d and 25a but found 21a very ‘flimsy’.

  3. Giovanni
    Posted December 23, 2011 at 11:34 am | Permalink

    Can I take this opportunity to thank all those who have contributed comments over the past year and wish you all the compliments of the season.

    • mary
      Posted December 23, 2011 at 3:40 pm | Permalink

      Same to you Giovanni, Merry Christmas! :-)

  4. Franco
    Posted December 23, 2011 at 11:37 am | Permalink

    I found this far more difficult than usual for a Friday. The typo in the clue to 1a made me suspicious about all the other clues, especially 20a.

    However, my favourite was, in fact, 20a – I normally miss this type of clue.

    Thought that 5d was really clever until discovering that it was not written by one of the Brontes. Thanks G & G.

  5. Posted December 23, 2011 at 11:45 am | Permalink

    I found this heavy going today but am not upset about that. I like to be stretched as long as I can get on the wavelength of the Setter so thanks to Giovanni for his fine puzzle and to Gazza for his hints which were needed in the TLH corner.
    Seasons Greetings and Hark the Herald Angels sing to one and all, Have a nice festive holiday.

  6. Posted December 23, 2011 at 11:48 am | Permalink

    The memsahib and I found this enjoyable but somewhat harder than your average Friday Cryptic. 5d was clever, had me running through all the Brontë œuvres until the bells clanged.

    Thanks to the GGs for setting and disecting, condiments of the seasoning to everyone.

  7. Mr Tub
    Posted December 23, 2011 at 12:06 pm | Permalink

    I think I’d go to three stars for difficulty on this one. And 5d is the only one of hers I actually like! Thanks to the setter and Gazza for the much needed assistance.

  8. Roland
    Posted December 23, 2011 at 12:07 pm | Permalink

    I found this very tough and very enjoyable in equal measure, but eventually finished without having to resort to the hints (except for the explanation/wordplay for 17d – thanks Gazza). Both categories minimum ***/**** for me. Merry Christmas to one and all. Many thanks to G n G.

  9. wbgeddes
    Posted December 23, 2011 at 12:19 pm | Permalink

    Good morning and festive greeting to one and all. Nearly finished here but have had to check up on 22A. As I can’t find a River by that name anywhere am I write in assuming that the answer is just river in crossword speak aka flower aka banker?

    • crypticsue
      Posted December 23, 2011 at 12:20 pm | Permalink

      Yes or as in bean!! :D

  10. crypticsue
    Posted December 23, 2011 at 12:20 pm | Permalink

    I am so glad to see that most people found it as difficult to get on Giovanni’s wavelength this morning as I did. I wasn’t sure whether I was suffering from post-supermarket stress disorder. Thank you and Season’s Greetings to Giovanni. A Merry Christmas to Gazza and all my fellow, bloggers and the lovely posters and lurkers too, If you are one of the latter, why not make it your New Year’s resolution to comment in 2012.

    I was obviously on the Osmosis wavellength as his Toughie didn’t take me much longer than the back pager.

  11. Brian
    Posted December 23, 2011 at 12:41 pm | Permalink

    Usual tricky stuff from the Master made much more difficult for me with two words I’ve never come across before 20a and 14d, a word that’s seems very odd 21a and a novel that I’ve never heard of 5d.
    The rest was brilliant although I must admit I had to look up 1a and I did need the excellent hints on occasion? Thx to Giovanni for the excellent puzzle and Gazza for for clues even if I didn’t understand one or two of them (19a and 20a)

    • Brian
      Posted December 23, 2011 at 12:44 pm | Permalink

      Sorry meant to say 4/5 star for difficulty IMHO. Merry Christmas to all.

    • gazza
      Posted December 23, 2011 at 2:08 pm | Permalink

      19a is CREE (Indian) + PE(e)RS (lords, heartless)
      29a is ‘TIS AN E (that is the last letter of finE).

  12. BigBoab
    Posted December 23, 2011 at 1:17 pm | Permalink

    Many thanks to Giovanni for a very enjoyable crossword and to Gazza for a most informative review. Seasons Greeting to all.

  13. Jezza
    Posted December 23, 2011 at 1:21 pm | Permalink

    I think my cryptic brain cells must be back to normal, as I did not find this too tricky today.
    Thanks to Giovanni for a very enjoyable puzzle, and to Gazza for the review.

  14. Posted December 23, 2011 at 1:48 pm | Permalink

    4* for difficulty today. A very hesitant start then did most ofit. Gazzas hints most definitely needed to complete. Overall quite entertaining. Seasons greetings to all the contributors, it’s nice to know I am not the only one who struggles some days.

    • njm
      Posted December 23, 2011 at 2:09 pm | Permalink

      I’ve only just finished , too – about 4 hours late! The puzzle was enjoyable and not overly difficult, but I guess the little grey cells are off on their Xmas hols! Thanks to setter and reviewer.

  15. Prolixic
    Posted December 23, 2011 at 2:18 pm | Permalink

    Many thanks and very happy Christmas to Giovanni. A little trickier than usual but a nice start to a busy Friday! Thanks for all the entertainment through the year.

    A very happy Christmas to all the contributers, setters, bloggers, commentators and those who drop by anonymously to the site.

  16. spindrift
    Posted December 23, 2011 at 3:01 pm | Permalink

    Greetings & salutations to all gathered here! This was more of a Toughie & without Gazza’s hints would probably have got finished at the same time as the turkey curry on Monday. So thanks to he & to Giovanni for the puzzle.

    God Bless one & all. See you on the other side of Christmas if we’re spared.

  17. Derek
    Posted December 23, 2011 at 3:05 pm | Permalink

    The usual enjoyable fare from The Don!
    Faves : 1a, 11a, 17a, 19a, 24a, 3d, 7d, 14d, 16d & 19d.

    Very best wishes for a Merry Christmas to Big Dave and all his Merry Crew, to the Setters and of course to all of us sloggers!

  18. mary
    Posted December 23, 2011 at 3:44 pm | Permalink

    Hi Gazza, late today other things been interrupting my concentration! I found it some of it straightforward and a lot of it quite difficult today, fav clue by far 20a, I really, really liked this although I didn’t solve it for a while! also liked 17a and 13a, Merry Christmas Gazza and thanks for all your help this year, see you after Christmas, unless you’re around tomorrow :-)

  19. mary
    Posted December 23, 2011 at 3:47 pm | Permalink

    Everyone seems to be wishing Merry Christmas today so Merry Christmas one and all, especially, Dave, pommers, Gazza, Libelulle, Sue, Gnomey, Falcon, Tilsit and all my crossword friends, have a lovely Christmas all
    Nadolig Llawen a Blwyddyn Newydd Dda!

    • gazza
      Posted December 23, 2011 at 3:51 pm | Permalink

      Best Wishes to you too, Mary. I hope that your husband’s getting better.

      • mary
        Posted December 23, 2011 at 6:52 pm | Permalink

        He’s on the mend thanks Gazza :-)

    • Prolixic
      Posted December 23, 2011 at 4:56 pm | Permalink

      A very peaceful and happy Christmas to you and yours as well.

      • mary
        Posted December 23, 2011 at 6:53 pm | Permalink

        How did I manage to leave you out of my list prolixic, apologies, Merry Christmas!

    • Sarah F
      Posted December 23, 2011 at 5:57 pm | Permalink

      And to you and yours, Mary.

      And to everyone.

  20. Silveroak
    Posted December 23, 2011 at 3:51 pm | Permalink

    Happy Christmas and Happy New Year from Chicago where it’s sunny and no chance of snow sadly. Also many thanks to all the setters and BD and the other good folk who help me out every day. Finding this blog has been a godsend. I often wonder if the “hinters” ever worry about not being able to finish a Xwrd in time to do the hints and tips. All I can say is they must be exceptionally good at these puzzles. I am hoping for a Christmas themed puzzle either Saturday or Sunday:)

    • gazza
      Posted December 23, 2011 at 3:54 pm | Permalink

      Cephas told us last week that tomorrow’s puzzle will be a special Christmas one, though not by him.

      • Prolixic
        Posted December 23, 2011 at 5:11 pm | Permalink

        Back in November, Rufus told us “I have set three themed puzzles over the Yuletide season – hope you enjoy them.” Maybe tomorrow’s will be the second of these – last Monday’s being the first.

        • Silveroak
          Posted December 24, 2011 at 1:17 am | Permalink

          One of the things I love about this blog is hearing all those English words and expressions I hardly ever hear any more. “Yuletide” is not part of the American lingo.

      • Silveroak
        Posted December 24, 2011 at 1:13 am | Permalink

        I just printed off the Saturday puzzle for my morning coffee tomorrow (it’s 7 pm here) and, as you promised, I got my wish:) It’s so nice to have the puzzle site back to normal. I hope I don’t jinx it by saying that.

    • Posted December 23, 2011 at 5:26 pm | Permalink

      It hasn’t happened yet, although very occasionally there is a lot of action behind the scenes. We do however sometimes miss the correct wordplay, but that’s where someone out there usually steps in and helps us out!

    • Franco
      Posted December 23, 2011 at 5:51 pm | Permalink

      Silveroak, if you want a Christmas themed puzzle – try the Rufus in last Monday’s Grauniad!

      Also, worth a look is the Guardian Quiptic from last Monday – very clever topical Nina. (And it’s all free in the Guardian).

      • Silveroak
        Posted December 24, 2011 at 1:21 am | Permalink

        Thanks Franco, I did catch last Monday’s but for some reason I love them all the more when we get one Christmas Eve or Christmas Day. I will take a look at the Guardian one.

  21. Heno
    Posted December 23, 2011 at 5:38 pm | Permalink

    Thanks to the two G’s. I couldn’t do this one. I needed 16 hints to complete and had to look up 11 of those. I still can’t understand 3d.

    • gazza
      Posted December 23, 2011 at 5:42 pm | Permalink

      3d is an implement that helps you put a shoe on. Court is a type of lady’s shoe.

      • Heno
        Posted December 23, 2011 at 5:49 pm | Permalink

        Thanks Gazza, Merry Christmas to you & all on the blog.

  22. Sarah F
    Posted December 23, 2011 at 5:59 pm | Permalink

    I am still struggling with this! But, never mind…………that’s what the hints are for!

    Thanks to all, and especially for this wonderful blog.

    • Jo
      Posted December 23, 2011 at 8:19 pm | Permalink

      Thank goodness I’m not alone. It’s dark now & apart from 5 & 19d the bottom half is completely blank – even having looked at the hints! Maybe shouldn’t have had that glass of wine at lunchtime :(. Think I’m gonna throw in the towel, (sorry Giovanni & thanks gazza, just wasn’t working for me today) Merry Christmas to all & long live the Blog!

  23. Annidrum
    Posted December 23, 2011 at 6:28 pm | Permalink

    Phew!! Finished with some help. Thought it was Giovanni and was relieved to see that Gazza has 2/3***.For me definitely 3*** but enjoyable.
    Thanks to the two G’s and to everybody behind the scenes who make this blog so enjoyable especially Big Dave for initiating it.
    And Pommers in answer to your query the other day I am in Cantabria.
    Felices Fiestas a todos.

  24. Boltonbabs
    Posted December 23, 2011 at 7:40 pm | Permalink

    I have to say what a revelation this site was to us. The phrase “what would Big Dave say” has entered our vocabulary! Thankyou so much and a very Happy Christmas.

  25. telboy
    Posted December 23, 2011 at 7:45 pm | Permalink

    another awful offering by giovanni, far too obscure to be any fun, opinion shared by a few of my fellow crossword addicts.

    • gazza
      Posted December 23, 2011 at 7:48 pm | Permalink

      Hi telboy – welcome to the blog.
      Which setters do you like then?