DT 27143 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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DT 27143

Daily Telegraph Cryptic No 27143

Engaging Pencil before Brain

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BD Rating – Difficulty ***Enjoyment ***

Greetings from the Calder Valley! I’m helping BD out today as his Toughie blogger is not around. We have a pleasant offering from Ray T (I thought it was Petitjean because of the pop references!). Nothing too taxing, although I hadn’t heard of the alternative spellings of 4 down and 5 across, which I had only seen in the Bible in that form. I wonder how many of you have an answer at 7 down which is actually correct. I had an answer in there which when I came to parse it, I couldn’t and realised with a prod from BD, that I was wrong. A good example of answering without thinking fully.

Can I say hello to Christian White, who’s a newbie to the blog and cryptic crosswords. I bumped into him on Twitter last night and I hope you find the blog useful. It’s full of helpful souls (and the odd curmudgeon) who’ll point you in the right direction if you get stuck! I hope you find this a nice puzzle to find your feed in the wacky world of cryptic crosswords!

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.


1a    Religious leader facing back of pulpit for natter (6)
{RABBIT} A word for chat or talk is found by taking the name of a Jewish priest and adding T (the back, i.e. last letter of pulpit). Lovers of music will be pleased to know that we will not be featuring Chas and Dave’s song of this name.

5a    Leaves outside overdone soups (8)
{POTTAGES} A word for a thick soup from the Middle Ages or, as I knew it, an oatmeal dish from biblical times is revealed by taking an abbreviation for overdone or too much, over the top, and placing it inside the word for leaves of a book. Interestingly this is not to be confused with potage, which is a different type of soup.

9a    Security changing to all-clear (10)
{COLLATERAL} The name for security on a loan or a type of damage is found by making an anagram (changing) of TO ALL CLEAR.

10a    Work on piano unveiling symphony initially (4)
{OPUS} The name for a musical work is revealed from the initial letters of ‘on piano unveiling symphony

11a    Holding some ladies’ underwear (8)
{STOCKING} One of Ray T’s nudge nudge wink wink clues that will make you smile. Something that means holding or keeping is the name for a type of undergarment worn by ladies and in their surgical form by me at the moment!

12a    Very old and tense, the compiler’s dedicated (6)
{VOTIVE} Is this a description of our setter? I guess so! This clue is a word sum broken down as follows: V (Very) + O (Old) + T (Tense) is added to what the compiler would say if he had done something, i.e. a past tense. This gives the name of a type of candle or a description of someone who is dedicated.

13a    On reflection consumed fine cheese (4)
{FETA} Something that means consumed or eaten plus the abbreviation for Fine is all reversed to get the name of a Greek cheese.

15a    Cain sent wandering, for example (8)
{INSTANCE} An anagram, indicated by wandering, of CAIN SENT leads you to something that means example.

18a    African foreign national’s in charge (8)
{SUDANESE} The name for someone from Africa is revealed by taking the name for a national from Scandinavia, plus an ‘s’ for the apostrophe and placing that inside a legal word meaning to charge or take action against someone.

19a    Intimate with maiden’s hand (4)
{PALM} Part of the hand is found by taking a word for a friend and adding M for maiden.

21a    Fate‘s woven threads, central character from mythology (6)
{CLOTHO} The name for one of the Fates in Greek mythology is shown by taking something that means woven thread and adding it to the middle letter of the word MYTHOLOGY.

23a    Sailor certainly not right to knock back rum (8)
{ABNORMAL} Another word sum. The standard cryptic abbreviation for a sailor (as in able-bodied) is added to a word that means “certainly not”, R(ight) and then a word meaning hit that is reversed. This all reveals a word that is defined as rum or unusual.

25a    Aide’s kept as retainer for bureau (4)
{DESK} A hidden answer, shown by retainer. Concealed inside AIDE’S KEPT is a word meaning a bureau, as in a type of furniture.

26a    Business  takeover (10)
{OCCUPATION} A nice double definition clue, with a word that means business or job being the same as a takeover of a house, as in squatters.

27a    One may fall for Brad Pitt (8)
{STUNTMAN} A cryptic definition that our Monday Maestro would be proud of (or has probably previously utilised!). You’re looking for the name of a person who might help the afore-mentioned Mr Pitt in a film by doing the dangerous stuff such as falling off a cliff or a building for him.

28a    Routine arrest following shaky case (6)
{SYSTEM} A word meaning routine or operation is revealed by taking a word meaning arrest or stop and putting before it SY (the ‘case’ of SHAKY, i.e. first and last letters).


2d    Take on oxygen in publicity exercise (5)
{ADOPT} A word meaning to take on, as in foster parents, is found by taking abbreviations for advertisement and physical training and inserting O for oxygen.

3d    Battle  dress? (9)
{BALACLAVA} The name of a famous battle from the Crimean War is that of a type of headgear, I suppose the original hoodie! Dress here is used as a loose synonym for clothing.

4d    Bond’s after drink and chicks (6)
{TOTTIE} An alternative spelling of a word that became popular at the back end of the 20th century to describe an attractive woman or women (it’s a mass noun). I hadn’t seen this spelling before, although it’s in the Big Red Book (Chambers Dictionary). At a guess I’d say its origin is Scottish slang, it sounds like it could be, and probably a rather disrespectful word for a woman. Anyway, if you take a word for a bond and place it after the name of a small drink, especially rum, you get the aforementioned word. Sorry, BD, no posh versions of this to be pictured here today. Make do with 11 ac!

5d    In stir prefer ‘genial’ criminal for bird (9,6)
{PEREGRINE FALCON} If I was being picky, I’m a bit unsure apart from what the ‘in’ is doing in this clue apart from making it read well. You have two slang words associated with prison, stir and bird, though neither actually means that here. Stir is actually the anagram indicator; rearrange PREFER GENIAL and add on something that means a criminal or slang word for a prisoner. Put together you get a very beautiful bird of prey. Some will love this clue, I guess one or two won’t.

6d    Show Elvis gyrating wearing casual shirt (8)
{TELEVISE} A verb meaning show (on screen) is revealed by making an anagram of ELVIS and putting the name for a casual shirt around it (wearing).

7d    Ace bottom in the air (5)
{AFOOT} How many of you have ALOFT and can’t make it work (or haven’t bothered to think about it)? Add me to the list, and I needed BD to point me in the right direction. A (ace) is added to something that means bottom to give a word defined as in the air, as in something’s up! Nicely misleading.

8d    Uncertain note on Queen single’s sung (9)
{EQUIVOCAL} Here we have another word sum. A word meaning uncertain is found by solving E (note) + QU (Queen) + Roman numeral for one + a word meaning spoken or sung. Nice. Time for music…..

ARVE Error: need id and provider

14d    Enthusiastic English male that is not without love (9)
{EBULLIENT} Something described as enthusiastic is found by solving this word sum: E (English) + a word for a male animal + the abbreviation for ‘that is to say’ + NT (NOT without, minus O, love).

16d    Soldier dropped in appropriate American gear (9)
{APPARATUS} The name for gear or equipment is found taking the short name for a British airborne soldier and putting it inside something that means fitting or appropriate and adding the abbreviation for America.

17d    Old nuisance rising in crowd showing some bottle (8)
{JEROBOAM} The name for four or six bottles of wine or champagne, depending on which part of France you are in is revealed by taking O (old) and a word meaning a nuisance or dullard reversing it and placing it all inside a word meaning to crowd.

20d    ‘The Marksman’ does for American actor! (6)
{SNIPES} What a marksman with a rifle may do is the surname of an American actor called Wesley.

22d    Occupied army on range (5)
{TAKEN} The abbreviation for a branch of the armed forces that are volunteers is added to a word that means scope or range, as in the expression “Beyond our …..”and gives you a word meaning occupied.

24d    Opened one’s eyes all right in terror (5)
{AWOKE} The abbreviation for ‘all right’ goes inside something that means fear or terror and reveals something that means opened your eyes after sleep.

Thanks to Ray T for an enjoyable and cheery tussle. Let me know what you thought below. I’ll see you again soon!

The Quick crossword pun: (sang} + {rear} = {sangria}

123 comments on “DT 27143

  1. Can’t say I found this particularly easy. Had a lot of problems with the bottom half (mainly caused by a bad guess in 14D).

    Hardest part was finding the crossword – what a ridiculous place to put it, fancy having a back page puzzle on the back page, what’s The Telegraph coming to eh?

  2. Well you can put me down as a curmudgeon (!) as I thought this crossword, like most of Thursday’s, ridiculously hard…bordering on the impossible. To put it in perspective, most days I will make a fair fist of the crossword and in a reasonable time. Sometimes I manage it all without needing any electronic help or hints. Sometimes there might be four or five left that need some sort of aid. So that kind of sets my benchmark.

    Compare and contrast with Thursday where I am lucky to actually GET four or five. Thursday should be renamed a Toughie. I really do feel pretty miffed about these….it’s not just the odd week…it seems to be every week.

    Just had a quick look at the hints. 12a…by what bizarre and obscure machinations could ‘the compiler’s’ become i’ve ? Daft. I’m cross. I’m very very cross.

    1. I agree with you Rog and so do quite a number of other people. On my first pass I am lucky if I get 1 or 2 and my standard is about the same as yours. The other problem is that the anagram indicators are often obscure. I’d put difficulty of this one to at least 4* and am still struggling with it having started this morning. I try not to use the clues if at all possible so as to improve my standard

      1. When you talk about using the clues I assume you mean the hints – I don’t think that even the really clever people would get far with any crossword without using clues! Having got that out of the way surely using the hints is one way of improving your standard – if you’re completely stuck and read the hint it’s very often possible to get the answer without looking at it – that way you get the benefit of the solving experience of all the helpful people who do the hints.

        1. Yes, Kath, I mean hints. I look on using the hints as failure to resolve the clue. I, therefore, reluctantly refer to the hints but, as you suggest, I do read the hint, and they are very helpful in resolving the clue for which we should all be grateful to the various contributors. I think that is why this site is so successful

    2. Couldn’t have put it better myself Roger – I agree with every word. I’ve had better luck with Toughies occasionally.

  3. I found this very hard indeed today ****/**

    I did put in the wrong word to start with in 7d but it worried me, so I came back to it later and realised my mistake. I didn’t get 28a at all because I wrongly had an R as my last letter in 20d, and I’m not sure even with Tilsit’s review why the clue for 12a leads to IVE and not just I for “compiler’s”.

    Thanks very much to the setter and to Tilsit.

    1. I flirted with aloof for 7d as in bottom=fool in the air being a slightly dubious indicator to turn it upside down and the meaning as in nose!?

    2. compiler/setter or compiler’s/setter’s crops up fairly often. Normally the clue element will be some variation on I or ME.

      eg compiler’s (possessive) MY or MINE, compiler’s – compiler is IM, compiler has IVE, compiler on its own can indicate I or ME. Worth knowing

  4. Nice one Tilsit, personally I love Ray T’s puzzles ans yes of course I put aloft in a 7d and 4d I could not find until raided my wife’s scrabble dictionary. Many thanks to both.

  5. Thank you so very much Mr Ray T. At last a puzzle worth of the back page (unusually, actually on the back page for a change). I have read through the clues several times and have only solved 13 out of 29 so far. After too many read and write puzzles this one is a snorter. I will stick it out to the end even if it means taking on my holiday in June. More of this please Daily Telegraph Crossword Editor.

  6. I thought this was quite tricky for a RayT puzzle, but no complaints from me. The top right was where I finished up, with 7d being my last one in.
    Thanks to Mr Terrell, and to Tilsit for the review.

  7. Took forever to get going on this, and ages to finish. I thought it was very tricky. Lots of groans when the answers finally clicked. 23A was the last one in. However, I managed without clues and yes, I did get 7D correct but did try to make something else work for a while. Liked 8D and 22D and I’ve only seen 5A spelled with seven letters before.

    Not sure I can say I enjoyed this greatly, but it was certainly a workout. Thanks to the setter for the exercise and to you, Tilsit, for pinch-hitting. I think I’ll leave tackling the Toughie for a while. I need time to recover.

    1. This post sums it up for me Chris. A thoroughly enjoyable and long winded workout and great satisfaction when the last one went in

  8. I agree with skempie, not particularly easy at all.I perservated and almost got there but needed assistance with 24a and 22d. Some clues took an age, such as 5a,12a,and 8d.Thanks to Tilsit and RayT.

  9. Many thanks to RayT for a most enjoyable crossword and to Tilsit for a delightful review.

  10. Thanks to RayT and to Tilsit – I rushed back to check but actually got 7d correct!.

  11. I always enjoy Ray T crosswords. I thought this was one of his more difficult ones or maybe I’ve got a frozen brain, again. 4* for both difficulty and enjoyment from me today.
    I didn’t have ‘aloft’ for 7d. I had ‘about’ and couldn’t explain why apart from ‘but’ or ‘bot’ being ‘bottom’. Either of those still left me with one unexplained letter so thanks for that, tilsit.
    Lots of these took ages. 5a – I always forget about OTT. 27a – no excuses, it just did. 8d – because Queen is so often ‘ER’ I kept trying to find a way to fit that in. 20d – my last one – I’ve never heard of the actor and eventually got it when I had alternate letters.
    Just a short selection from a very long list of clues that I liked – 1, 11, 21 and 27a and 4, 6 and 20d.
    With thanks to Ray T and tilsit.
    2C and snowing in Oxford. :sad:

  12. This was an exercise in frustration with the setter obviously delighting in showing off his (inaccurate) knowledge of the arcane and obscure. Time for RayT to lay aside his thesaurus and seek gainful employment elsewhere.

    1. Welcome to the blog Alan

      I’m sure that a lot of others would disagree with you. For me a Ray T puzzle is one of the highlights of the week.

      1. Thanks for the welcome Dave.

        I should probably have put a smiley at the end of the comment but 5a and 5d sum up my frustration. I got both but found the resolution extremely dissatisfactory.

        1. Ray T is one of my favourite setters. There’s always something that sounds a bit smutty and always something to make you laugh – have to confess that for me they’re usually the same clues. I can’t see anything particularly arcane or obscure, let alone inaccurate.

          1. Down to personal taste, I happen to detest his crosswords as I know many others do. Some like them as you do. But there is room for everyone. As regards arcane and obscure look at 5a. According to the OED potage and pottage mean exactly the same yet pottage is archaic, ergo the use of the terms arcane and obscure. The clue for 5d is, in my view, inaccurate and pointlessly complicated.

            1. I thought that pottage and potage were the same, but they are two separate headwords unlinked in Chambers and internet searches say they can be different things.

              I always thought the “mess of pottage” was more oatmeal-related than soup-based.

              Have tweeted OED and will see what they offer!

  13. Thank you Ray T – I enjoyed that. Managed to get 7d right and enjoyed the A*O** of 2d 7d and 24d. Made good progress but SE corner was last in and had usual problem with GK and had to Google 20d – kept thinking “Sniper” until the penny dropped. Thank you Tilsit for your comprehensive review. More new words for me again at 12a and 21a.

  14. Thanks to Ray T and to Tilsit for the review and hints. What a nightmare, just couldn’t get on the Ray T wavelength. Managed to only solve 17 clues. Needed 12 hints of which I had to look up 5. Still, I enjoyed the challenge, good puzzle but I just couldn’t unravel it. Couldn’t get 7d. Never heard of 12a, and wouldn’t have got 8d or 18a in a million years. Favourite was 20d. If I hadn’t actually finished Tuesdays Toughie earlier, I have may have been tempted to hang up my pen :-) Snow flurries in Central London, roll on Summer!

  15. Well I put ‘titbit’ in for 4d and I guess this must be wrong – I have no idea what it could be.

    Apart from that I managed to get it done before this blog was released and was quite pleased with myself!

    1. It’s an alternative spelling of a word meaning attractive woman “posh ____” i think was used in Men Behaving Badly by Martin Clunes and also applied ot the girls of St Trinians!

      Think of a small quantity of rum in the navy and add a word meaning bind or fasten.

      1. Maybe it’s a regional thing, but we used the word tottie, spelt as in the puzzle, back in the sixties, years before Men Behaving Badly. As I recall, it was only slightly derogatory and applied to an older woman who dressed as if she was a lot younger.

        1. Somewhere in the back of my mind that ‘tottie’ is the original Scottish spelling and it was a slang word for a prostitute or lady of ill virtue.

          One of the quirky words in the Big Red Book is kickie-wickie. Have a look!

          1. My Dictionary of Slang has Tottie (or Totty) as meaning Hottentot originally. From about 1880 it came to mean a high-class whore and in the 20th century it evolved to mean “a girl, a young woman, especially if of a compliant nature, but not a whore”.

        2. Tottie is also west of Scotland vernacular for potato or spud!

          I lived up there many years.

        3. I get spam emails asking if I want to meet “Top English Tottie” My wife says No I don’t!

      2. What threw me on this , although I had the word, was that I couldn’t fit in the plural as it says “chicks”.

        1. Tottie in the respect it is being used, can refer to the singular or the plural – a bit like ‘sheep’ (and no comments about my Welsh background thank you)

  16. Well I put ‘titbit’ in for 4d and I guess this must be wrong – I have no idea what it could be.
    Apart from that I managed to get it done before this blog was released and was quite pleased with myself!

  17. Resisted the aloft temptation more than once , wanted to spell 5a with one t ,the candle went out before I parsed 12a ,18a and 17d .,Loved 27a .All pretty straightforward really (I wish) .Good fun .
    Thanks Tilsit and Ray T

  18. Today’s crossword was good fun and one of those when three-quarters of the answers came nicely with the remainder taking a bit more thought – I kept picking the paper up and putting it down after much humming and haring and was quietly congratulating myself on completing it when ………. I checked 7 down in the above (thanks Tilsit) to discover how wrong I was with ALOFT – a thousand curses, lol. 17 down had me fipping a coin almost – until the penny finally dropped. Thank you Ray T – loved it :-)

  19. I expect it’s a daft question, but how do you old hands know who the ‘back page’ compiler is? Because you’re old hands and recognize the style perhaps? Just wondered – I enjoy reading all your comments. Cheers, Phil

    1. Not a daft question at all. Sometimes we know it’s a regular like Rufus (Monday); Virgilius (Sunday);Jay (Wednesday, I think) and Giovanni (Friday) and Cephas (every other Saturday). The Tuesdays and Thursdays tend to be a variety of setters including Ray T, Petitjean and Shamus and of course the Mysteron who alternates with Cephas. Some can recognise style. I was convinced today’s was Petitjean as he usually has rock music references in his puzzles and there are Queen and Elvis refs. However the nudge-nudge wink wink clues suggest Ray T is around today and I am told this is actually the case.

      The other papers usually list pen-names , as they do with the Toughie. The Times still refuses, and because the puzzles are so consistenly edited over there, it’s almost nigh impossible to identify the setter over there!

      1. As an occasional setter, my aim is to appeal to as many people as possible. I know there will be people who dislike my style, but I can’t help that.

        As a solver, there are setters in all the papers I dislike intensely for a variety of reasons; what I perceive as poor clue writing style or that their puzzles lack sparkle and wit and in a couple of cases for purely personal reasons. I have to say that at the moment my favourite puzzles tend to be in the Times because there is a consistent styleand difficulty each day. Some people like their puzzles easy/accessible at the start of the week, which is why Rufus appears in so many papers on a Monday building up to a ferociously nasty one on a Saturday. The DT prefers an accessible one on a Saturday although I’d say that Cephas’ puzzles are easier than the Mysteron! Discuss!

        My real favourite Telegraph treat is the Virgilius Sunday puzzle which is challenging, witty and contains such talented clue-writing that I would give my right arm to be able to do.

        1. I like the Times Saturday jumbo but I rarely, maybe once a year, actually finish it. I gnaw at it and worry it for a whole week before giving up, yet I still look forward to it every Saturday!

    2. Hi Phil – In addition To Tilsits comments another RayT trademark is if you look at the Quick Crossword all the clues contain only one word.

  20. I, too, enjoyed this one, even though some beat me. Needed the hints for 21a and 12a. I never did get 20d, had to look at that one. Naturally, I had “aloft” for 7d but knew it was probably not correct. I had no problem with 5a, I felt I had to be right, so I just checked it and found the meaning to be, as BD says, a sort of porridge. Didn’t Shakespeare use it?

    Thanks to setter and hinter, loved it.

  21. Definitely a start with the downs day today but I did enjoy the process – thank yu to Ray and Tilsit

    Agree with Alan’s second comment at 12 above. Crossword solving is a matter of personal taste and there is indeed room for everyone.

  22. Very enjoyable puzzle from Ray T – many thanks!

    Faves : 9a, 21a, 23a, 7d, 14d & 17d.

    Have now decided that we are experiencing New England weather – only two seasons viz. winter then summer. My neighbour who was bawling “witte Paas” in the entrance hall on Easter Sunday agrees with me.

    Must now call up my son in Boston MA and hear his news!

  23. In deference to CrypticSue I have refrained from commenting until I have calmed down and found something positive to say about today’s crossword. Unfortunately I have failed utterly. Ghastly!

  24. Having read Alan’s comment above (I am with you ALL the way), I have a suggestion to make to the DT. Given that there are most certainly a large amount of people who do detest or at least heartily dislike RayTs puzzles, could they not be confined to the Tpughie. That way those who enjoy his efforts may continue to do so and the rest of us may then enjoy our back page outings without being sabotaged once a week or so.
    Just a thought.

    1. Monday- Another tough Monday. What happened to getting the week started with something pour encourage les autres?

      Tuesday – I reckon life’s too short for crossword clues like these. Far too complex, very little enjoyment even after slogging through and finishing it.

      Wednesday – Thought I was going to enjoy this even with 17d but the bottom right defeated me.

      If you did get your way, the rest of us would have to go and find another newspaper with decent puzzles in it. Let’s hope things stay as they are.

        1. Yes but you guys are very good at solving crosswords. A lot of us are relatively new and then there is the continuum between the two extremes. But as I have posted and at least one other person agreed with me, if one generally manages to sort out the crosswords during the rest of the week albeit with the odd four or five still to be solved and then one is confronted with one (regularly) where at best one might only solve four or five then there is something wrong with the balance.

          Also reading the comments on this one there seem to be a lot more people finding this one hard.

          1. Well I am relatively new, less than a year since my first ever attempt at a cryptic, and because today’s post was a bit later ,I just kept trying, and if it hadn’t been for “sniper ” snookering me ,I might have made it.Hard work though.

          2. I always read the blog, but don’t always comment as much of which I would say has already been said by others before me. Although this was a hard crossword, it was good. It would be boring if Ray T was removed. You can’t say that you guys are good at solving crosswords, so they need to be made easier for others – that is how we learn. If you know that the Thursday one will be beyond you, don’t do it. You should try to do it however, as that is how you improve. I’ve been doing the DT (and others) for over 40 years and some still frustrate, but they are Cryptic crosswords. That is their joy.

      1. I’ve been reading through these comments and I just can’t keep quiet any longer. I don’t always enjoy every puzzle I tackle. I didn’t particulary enjoy today’s offering, but I appreciated it. There are some setters that frustrate me mightily, but I put that down to me just not getting it…yet. In other words, it’s my problem, not the setter’s. Moaning won’t solve anything ( forgive the pun). I want to be tested so that I can improve and I will not improve if the challenges are dowgraded to accommodate those that want it easy. If people don’t like a particular setter for whatever reason, there are other puzzles out there. Why should the rest of us be deprived of RayT to pander to the bruised egos of the few?

        1. That is quite offensive. It has nothing at all to do with bruised egos. There is a place for trickier crosswords and that is the Toughie.

          1. Had this been a Toughie I would have rated it as easy, and 2-star difficulty at most. Very few back-page puzzles would make good Toughies, which is why they are where they are.

        2. I’m with you Chris all the way – if you can solve a puzzle and find fault with it, then criticise it, if you cannot solve it, then don’t insult the setter or the editor.

        3. Well said. You appear to be aware of your limitations, as am I. I’ve said it before that we need hard crosswords to stretch ourselves (that was on a Toughie blog). I maintain that we need the same on the back page. There are different rules for the Toughie puzzles and they allow more freedom to the setter (see Anax passim). This puzzle didn’t need any of that – it contained straight clues that required the knowledge of crossword clue types, standard abbreviations, an ear for a soundalike and a bit of nous, that’s all.

          1. No issue with crossword stretching one but I would argue that if one does well on other days bar four or five ‘unsolved’ but then have four or five ‘solved’ on the Thursday crosswords …then that is stretching things a bit too far.

    2. Problem is, those of us who only get the crossword online and can’t access the Toughie would be missing Ray T puzzles, which we enjoy. I vote to keep Ray T.

      1. We subscribe to the Telegraph Puzzles site and this gives access to all the Telegraph puzzles (including Sudoku if you’re one of THOSE people). The annual subscription is very reasonable too. About half a cup of coffee per week by our calculations.

        1. I’m afraid I’m one of THOSE people! I only learnt how to do them two or three years ago and I have to confess to being addicted to them – but not as much as I’m addicted to cryptic crosswords. There are only so many hours in a day and, unfortunately, other things have to be fitted in!!

          1. OK. Out of the closet time. I admit to doing them too. My source is WebSudoku site where I download the “hard” ones. My justification is that it keeps the logical part of the brain in trim as well as the cryptic part.
            Cheers, Colin.

        2. Me, too. 30 pounds sterling a year (don’t have the symbol on my US keyboard). Good value indeed.

        3. So am I. I adore a good diabolical,it’s very soothing.Telegraph sudokus are better than the Times.Though I wonder what the permutations are ? Maybe some mathematician out there could work out all the possible permutations, as I sometimes feel I must have done them all by now.

          1. 6,670,903,752,021,072,936,960 . Bertram Felgenhauer and Frazer Jarvis in 2005 calculated this.

      1. As someone who knows most of the national newspaper crossword editors, I can say that it is probably one of the most thankless tasks around keeping everyone happy.

        Every solver has their favourite setters as well as their betes-noires. Sometimes it’s because they can’t solve their puzzles, sometimes it’s because of their clue styles and sometimes for other reasons. I make no secret that my tastes lie at the top end of the solving scale and I happily tackle the barred puzzles like the EV and Listener, and I enjoy most of the Toughie puzzles. I start each day with the Times and move onto the others depending on who the setter is in the other papers. I may give the Guardan or Indy a wide berth on a particular day; that’s the beauty of knowing who the setter is in advance. There are odd nightmare days when it seems all the setters I like least are around, I make a choice, do I tackle one fo them, or do I reach for one of the 175 (yes I am that obsessive) crossword books on my shelves? More often than not I face my demons and try the setter I dislike to see if Ican defeat the b****r!Half an hour later and three clues solved and the puzzle goes in the bin, I go away happy that my judgement is sound.

        I still enjoy tackling the DT puzzles although again there are setters I just don’t get on with. It’s all a matter of taste. For the few people here that dislike Ray T’s puzzles, there are probably a few more who don’t use the blog, but there are a great many who do like his wit and nudge-nudge attitude to setting.

        I reckon the Telegraph just about has the daily puzzle right. When I am contacted by people asking to move on to cryptics from ‘normal’ puzzles, I tell them to start with the DT as it offers that nice cosy territory that lets you find your feet and discover the different kinds of setters and their styles.

  25. I found that difficult but enjoyed the challenge and needed the hints to back up my thinking on 1 or 2 and I had aloft in 7d !

  26. I think some of you are being a bit hard on Ray T. I always like his crosswords and although today’s was hard going for me isn’t that the point of the daily workout? Thanks for hints, sorely needed today.

    1. Agree Scrabo.
      The harder the mental workout, the better in my view.
      More of the same, please, RayT.

  27. I finally cracked this beast, but if normal cryptic DT crosswords continue to be as tough as this, then a couple of my mates will pack in attempting them, a shame because they were coming along nicely & completing their fair share.
    Remember Ray T, give us a decent test & keep the crypticism clean, you did some eye gouging & ear biting today.

  28. I enjoyed today’s RayT offering. I didn’t find it any more difficult than usual so I was very surprised to see so many adverse comments.

    Many thanks to Tilsit for the entertaining and educational review.

    (What am I seeing – Sachin Tendulkar and Ricky Ponting opening the batting together! Has the World gone mad?)

  29. Thank you gentlemen, for your explanations. I was beginning to think you had psychic powers or something! Best, Phil

  30. Well it’s six o’clock and I’ve calmed down now. While I don’t wish to take sides I do feel that there was an overuse of bitty clues – the best (or worst) example being 12 ac. What on earth is wrong with “four in a ballot”? These bitty things should be consigned to toughie land!

  31. Setter here, with many thanks to Tilsit for the review and to all for your interestingly varied comments…


    1. … Thank you Ray

      Whilst there are plenty who find your puzzles above their comfort level in terms of difficulty, there are plenty who don’t.
      This was not an easy one for me, but an enjoyable challenge.
      I do not wish to put my head in the noose, but I do get fed up with derogatory comments from some who make throwaway comments because they cannot solve a puzzle. I can work my way through most DT puzzles, but there are other broadsheets that I really struggle with. In my opinion, the DT sets them quite kindly compared to the rest.
      Keep them coming Ray!

  32. We just loved it, and would grade it ****/****. We had thought of ALOFT for 7d but steadfastly refused to put pen to paper until we could parse it. Enlightenment ensued after brief cogitation. SW corner was last in for us.
    Thanks RayT and Tilsit.

  33. As I have come to expect another both challenging and enjoyable offering
    from Ray T.
    Many thanks to him and Tilsit for his equally enjoyable review.

    1. What a pity that the belief in ones ability to tackle such a crossword
      is not matched by their civility.

  34. Quite tough, but enjoyable. Needed assistance for 21a. (Mythology is my Achilles’ heel ! )

  35. Thoroughly enjoyed the tussle, got there eventually without assistance apart from spell checks and playing around with 4d
    Thought it was a rude word, not fit for polite company.
    Many thanks RayT, and Tilsit for the review.
    Great stuff.

  36. I was a bit of Tottie about 60 years ago – now more like a bit of tatty :sad:

    Really not bothered about the pottage/potage bit as I’m never really sure about the spelling. It was a fairly obvious answer anyway.

    Great crossie and a fun review so thanks to all.

  37. Gloves off then.
    This puzzle was (in my opinion) easier than many RayT puzzles (and many DT Back Page puzzles).
    Personally I struggle with Rufus EVERY Monday but I hear a constant ‘easy/gentle’ etc. I don’t mnd this.
    Today I had all but the SW corner sorted in less than X minutes. The remainder fell eventually and it was my mistakes that caused the confusion.
    I can’t see why this puzzle has caused such consternation and having read the adverse comments cannot see any justification for said comments.
    If you want a vanilla puzzle every day then buy a paper with vanilla crosswords.
    Can any of you please email me to explain your views properly? barryowen(dot)zutec (at in the ampersand way) gmail (dot) com.

    I forgot to add – I have had a few years experience of solving crosswords (my bad!) and also bought a couple of books to enable me to spot clue tyoes. I also have have a BRB and a dictionary of synonyms and antonyms as well as a capacity to learn.

    1. Apart from this puzzle being easier than many Ray T puzzles I agree with you completely. I did find today’s pretty tricky but, like you and Jezza, I struggle with Mondays.
      If vanilla hadn’t come up recently, I think on a Sunday, I wouldn’t have known what you meant – who says that you don’t learn things from crosswords?

      1. There ya go Kath, we know what its all about ;-)
        Vanilla also applies to people who are not Goths! (as definedby Goths!)

  38. Going to bed in a minute but just thought I’d have another quick look at the comments.
    What a lot there are today. I know I’ve said it before but there is nothing like a Ray T puzzle for lots of things:-
    1. A load of fun.
    2. Brilliant and concise clues.
    3. Some laughs and a bit of innuendo – usually the same thing as far as I’m concerned.
    4. Making the brain think a bit differently.
    5. Provoking a huge number of comments and dividing the commentariat – the last time I used that word BD doubted its existence.
    Good night all.

  39. 4d is a very offensive word for women. As is chicks to be honest.

    It really ruined my enjoyment of the puzzle.

    Really, why use such sexist expressions – what is the point?

    1. I hear from a broad that Chambers is going to expunge these words in the next edition. Along with OR and WELL.
      Context is everything and I wouldn’t like to see them lost from the language.

    2. Not to me it’s not – merely a reminder of yesteryear.

      I seem to have got a very alarming avatar – I’m really not that aggresive, honest :grin:

    3. Goodness! I’m a woman of senior years and I’m not offended in the least by either word. I don’t consider them sexist at all, just another addition or two to our rich English slanguage, long may it last.

      1. I’m a man of fairly senior years. I’m not offended by tottie at all. It was also used (to good effect) in Wallace & Gromitt’s ‘Curse of he Warerabbit’ – Lady Tottington “Oh, please call me Tottie”

      2. Me too. I have too many things to care about that I can’t waste time taking offence at something as nebulous as that.

    4. I think the point is that it’s a cryptic crossword.
      I’m a woman too and I have to say that I don’t think it’s offensive or sexist at all. In the nearly three years that I’ve been reading and commenting on this blog there have been a few kerfuffles about sexism. I have to say that I think it’s all a load of PC rubbish.

  40. “Just another proof, of course, of what I often say – it takes all sorts to make a world.”
    ― P.G. Wodehouse

  41. Wow – I’m a frequent user of BD’s site without leaving comments (or indeed flicking through those left by others) – but I can’t believe the needle I’m seeing in the above.

    I’m very grateful to BD and his crew for explaining clues I can’t get – some days they are more than others – and it is comforting to see others suffering with me on bad days. But I’m with those who say it’s good to be stretched, and finding new spellings of words I thought I knew (I am a big fan of totty, never seen tottie before….yet I’ve only ever used auntie so why am I surprised?) or words I’ve never heard of (clotho wasn’t in my school curriculum) is part of the game. This is supposed to be a bit of fun and I don’t know where I’d begin to start as a setter so thanks to all of them – easy or hard I love the variety and it’s good to have a few easy days to make me think I’m doing well, only to be floored by over half as I was today.

    Please setters and BD etc. keep up the good work!

    1. Thank you thickso – well said.

      I think a lot of the trouble at the moment is that following this awful endless grey Siberian winter, people generally are really fed up and grumpy about everything. This has spilled over into Crosswordland and the comments on all the blogs do seem to be much ‘nastier’ at the moment. The other week both the Guardian’s own site and Fifteen Squared had terrrible arguments (for want of a better word) about Rufus puzzles.

      I think variety in crossword difficulty is a great thing – how boring would it be if every day the puzzle was the same What we should remember is, whatever we think about the puzzle or its setter, the setters are real human beings with feelings the same as the rest of us. They are, after all, only doing what their ‘boss’ asked them to do.

      1. I think it was Keith Waterhouse who pointed out the difference between aunts and aunties.

        Aunts sit in the parlour playing Come into the Garden Maud on the piano.

        Aunties sit at the piano bashing out Knees Up Mother Brown!

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