DT 27667

Daily Telegraph Cryptic No 27667

Hints and tips by Miffypops

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

BD Rating – Difficulty ***Enjoyment ***

I found this puzzle quite difficult and due to time constraints had to call upon Big Dave for the answers to 1a 2d and 18d and to add the pictures. Thank you Big Dave.

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.

Across

1a An A for apprenticeship (8)
ARTICLES: As an indentured apprentice engineer I struggled with this one. Had I been apprenticed to an architect, solicitor, accountant or surveyor I may have been more familiar with this definition. Those of you who have a basic understanding of English grammar may recognise A and AN as these

6a Notice saying ‘Playground equipment‘ (6)
SEESAW: To notice is to perceive with the eyes a saying is an adage or a proverb or one of these. Together they make a piece of playground equipment which goes up and down. The first time I saw this clue I was delighted by it. I appears in a different guise in a recent puzzle. It still delights despite now being a read and write chestnut.

9a Director’s backing me first to do relief work (6)
EMBOSS: Flip the ME (backing) from the clue and add a word meaning director or the person in charge of a workforce.

10a Eden is in the march past (8)
PARADISE: Place IS from the clue inside a public procession, especially one celebrating a special day or event.

11a Clear course of action after study (8)
CONSOMMÉ: This course is a foodstuff. A thin dishwater soup best served to the servants. Take our usual three letter word for study (No not den, the other one) and add a first world war battle (action). Just don’t bother with the soup.

12a Observe nothing in being old and infirm (6)
SENILE: For the second time today we have to use a three letter word for observe or notice (6a) and place within it three letter word meaning nought, nowt or zilch.

13a Didn’t remain wholly calm (4,2,6)
WENT TO PIECES: Golly! A cryptic definition that is what it is. A reviewer’s nightmare. If you didn’t remain whole you did this. Actually a piece of cake once the checkers are in. Best get them and work it out for yourselves I suppose.

16a ‘Ratty‘ making sure a knot can get undone (12)
CANTANKEROUS: There is an anagram here (get undone) I presume the fodder is SURE A KNOT CAN. The answer describes myself at times and is often used with the word curmudgeon to describe Mr Van Morrison. Actually he is rather wonderful.

19a It makes what’s left look right (6)
MIRROR: A looking glass. Images in a looking glass are reversed.

21a Recognise who’s who, yet I find that’s mistaken (8)
IDENTIFY: What a lovely anagram with a fine indicator (that’s mistaken) of YET I FIND

23a Hard top makes vehicle fast (8)
CARAPACE: The only time I come across this word is right here in Crosswordland. This is the hard upper shell of a tortoise, crustacean, or arachnid (thank you Google). The vehicle is the one we drive. It is followed an adverb meaning swiftly or quickly

24a Didn’t deny it’s a selfish characteristic (6)
AGREED: Concurred (didn’t deny) – A from the clue followed by one of the seven deadly sins

25a Take exception to being ordered to leave again (6)
RESENT: The first part of this clue is a straightforward definition. To feel bitterness or indignation at (a circumstance, action, or person). The second works if split 2-4

26a Toolshed adapted for climbers’ requirements (8)
TOEHOLDS: Anagram (adapted) of TOOLSHED. I liked this clue.

Down

2d In disorder, arm staff that will press home a charge (6)
RAMROD: Anagram (In disorder) of ARM followed by a word meaning staff, in this case a a thin straight bar, especially of wood or metal.

3d Does an evening job? (5)
IRONS: To even here is to press with a hot flat plate.

4d Cricket finalist? (4,3,2)
LAST MAN IN: The chap who bats at the end of an innings. (sorry girls, it’s the best I can do)

5d The foolish snipe at the wise (7)
SAPIENT: Anagram (foolish) of SNIPE AT. Terry Pratchett fans will know this one. The luggage is made from this form of Pearwood

6d People are unhappy when out of these groups (5)
SORTS: Another clue that amuses and delights whilst solving but is difficult to parse. As a verb, arranges systematically. If we are ill we are said to be out of this

7d Risks of heat in terminals (9)
ENDANGERS: Our usual terminals or extremities hold (in) a five letter word meaning heat or a strong feeling of annoyance, displeasure, or hostility.

8d Discharged sailor worked out (8)
ABSOLVED: Chestnut time. Our usual suspect for sailor followed by a word meaning to have worked out. It is what you are doing with this very clue.

13d Treat wage adjusting as a political scandal (9)
WATERGATE: Anagram (adjusting) of TREAT WAGE

14d Walk recollected in Arden poem (9)
PROMENADE: Anagram (recollected) of ARDEN POEM. Today’s anagram indicator of the day.

15d Without notice, serviceman’s in a pickle (8)
MARINADE: A member of a body of troops trained to serve on land or sea needs to be placed around (without) our usual word for notice or ad(vertisement)

17d It’s obvious I’d engaged in contest (7)
EVIDENT: And again we put I’D from the clue inside a word meaning a contest

18d A piece of land away from home (6)
AFIELD: A from the clue followed by an area of open land, especially one planted with crops or pasture, typically bounded by hedges or fences

20d Give a telling-off to cook (5)
ROAST: A double definition. The second being a form of cooking that made Sunday dinner one to look forward to.

22d Trunk roots disturbed (5)
TORSO: And God said let there be light, and there was light. God said let there be anagrams and there were anagrams and this was the first and the oldest and the easiest of all.

RIP Justin Newsome. Best before 5th December 2014.


The Quick Crossword pun: queue+tickle=cuticle


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76 Comments

  1. Heno
    Posted December 8, 2014 at 12:40 pm | Permalink

    Thanks to Rufus and to Miffypops for the review and hints. A very nice start to the week, some difficult clues, but lots of anagrams to get you started. Favourites were 11&19a. Last in was 9a. Was 3*/3* for me.

  2. Brian
    Posted December 8, 2014 at 12:41 pm | Permalink

    Excellent but I don’t find this too difficult at all. For me **/**** .
    Loved some of the misdirection such as 3 and 19a but my favourite was def 4d. Shame about the ODI, why leave out your best spinner on a turning wicket, insanity!
    I think the England management went on the same course as those at Spurs!
    Thx to the setter and to Miffypops for the hints.

  3. dutch
    Posted December 8, 2014 at 12:43 pm | Permalink

    I enjoyed this puzzle, even though there were a few chestnuts. I liked the anagrams, there seemed to be more than usual on a monday. Last one in was 19a (left look right). Favourites were 1a (apprenticeship) and 14d (walk).

    Many thanks Rufus and miffypops.

  4. George
    Posted December 8, 2014 at 12:44 pm | Permalink

    A quite easy romp today – but 19a and 15d were my last in and tool my brain a bit of time to figure out making it more than a write in! Nice puzzle.
    2*/4* I would say.

  5. F1lbertfox
    Posted December 8, 2014 at 12:45 pm | Permalink

    A lovely gentle solve to begin the week and a lot of smiles too. It took on a strange shape for me, because top left and bottom right and straight across the middle were all write ins. Top right was the last to be completed once the penny dropped with 6, 7 & 8 down. Thank you to the setter for a most enjoyable puzzle and to MP for your review.

  6. Michael
    Posted December 8, 2014 at 12:46 pm | Permalink

    A good puzzle with plenty of anagrams that played straight into my hands – a reasonably straight-forward start to the week.

    Onward and upward – roll on Tuesday! http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_smile.gif

  7. skempie
    Posted December 8, 2014 at 12:47 pm | Permalink

    Interesting SE corner. I managed to convince myself that 21A was IDENTITY and 18D was STRAND which seemed to fir reasonably well util I twigged 24A, then I ended up with a whole bunch of scribblings and overwrites. I think I’ve got everything in correctly, but still can’t be 100% certain – at least I know what the answers SHOULD be.

    Very slow morning here today – it was the wife’s firm’s works do Saturday and I get the feeling I’m still suffering from it tad – it was probably the £5.25 shot of Bombay Sapphire that did it for me – works out at £210.00 per litre bottle which I normally get for £27.00 – enough to give anyone a sore head. And wallet

    • F1lbertfox
      Posted December 8, 2014 at 3:29 pm | Permalink

      Skempie, if like me you enjoy sampling different gins, try Aldi’s Oliver Cromwell, only sold in 50cl bottles, but it works out at just under £20 a litre. It’s a medal winner and received great acclaim in one of the Sunday colour sups earlier this year. You were most certainly ripped off at £5.25 a shot – I’d want a very good malt whisky for that price!!

    • Annidrum
      Posted December 8, 2014 at 4:16 pm | Permalink

      Lovely puzzle. I give it **/**** . My last one in was 1a & my favourite was 26a. Thanks to Rufus & MP.

    • Tstrummer
      Posted December 9, 2014 at 1:02 am | Permalink

      If you want the finest gin I’ve ever tasted – and I’m tasting it right now – try The Times Gin from their whisky club. £35 for 75cl, but worth even more. Delicious

      • F1lbertfox
        Posted December 9, 2014 at 1:45 pm | Permalink

        I’ll look online to see if I can track down a bottle. I have some of Wm Chase’s produce all ready for Yuletide consumption.

  8. Clarky
    Posted December 8, 2014 at 12:51 pm | Permalink

    An odd mixture today as first impressions were not encouraging then the NE went in quickly followed by SE and SW but NE caused considerable trouble. I enjoyed the right side at least!
    Favourite probably 15d even though it is on the left side.
    Thanks to setter, MP and BD. ***/**

  9. williamus
    Posted December 8, 2014 at 12:51 pm | Permalink

    One of the best of Mr Squires’ puzzles I can remember. He sets them how I like them and ***/***** for me. Some straightforward clues and anagrams but laced with misdirection and humour. There are clues here that I’ve seen before, but never tire of, e.g. 3d. Lovely clue construction (11a and 7d). Very many thanks to Rufus and to Miffypops. Mondays wouldn’t be the same without either of you.

  10. Sweet William
    Posted December 8, 2014 at 12:58 pm | Permalink

    Thank you Rufus, an enjoyable puzzle. Bottom half in first, and I thought, a lot easier than the top half. I thought that 11a was a lovely clue. Thanks MP for your review and hints – and BD as well !

  11. Angel
    Posted December 8, 2014 at 12:58 pm | Permalink

    This was somewhat of a curate’s egg with East going in swiftly but West presenting problems. My disorder in 2d was random which snookered 9a. 3d amused when penny finally dropped – no doubt it’s an old chestnut but new to me. Stupidly needed MP to find alternative for reject in 25a. Thanks for entertaining start to week Rufus and MP/BD for your hints. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_yes.gif

  12. overtaxed
    Posted December 8, 2014 at 1:03 pm | Permalink

    A nice easy start to the week, once I realised the answers to 1a and 15d which taxed me for a while. 2*/3* for me. Favourite was 1a.
    Some nice anagrams helped the flow.

  13. Rabbit Dave
    Posted December 8, 2014 at 1:05 pm | Permalink

    1*/4* for a light delight. 1a was my last one in and favourite.

    Many thanks to Rufus and to Miffypops.

  14. Littlemart
    Posted December 8, 2014 at 1:36 pm | Permalink

    */**** here. Loved 11 across. A very pleasant start to the week.
    Last in was 9 across (relief work) . In retrospect I have no idea why!

  15. Owdoo
    Posted December 8, 2014 at 2:03 pm | Permalink

    Well I am definitely in the “found some of this rather tricky for a Monday” club. NE corner was the last section to go in but it all fell into place eventually.
    Thanks for the challenge Rufus and Miffypops for the entertaining review.
    3*/3*

    Isn’t it strange that, with so many words in the BRB to choose from, the same word can appear from two different setters in such quick succession? Do you think the editor does it on purpose?

  16. Hanni
    Posted December 8, 2014 at 2:08 pm | Permalink

    **/***
    It seems to be anagram central today, but that Monday morning feeling has been lifted by the crossword. And my pencils have had some fun.

    6a always makes me smile but I got waylaid with 12a. I put in senior without thinking. Ridiculous of me but there we go.

    Favourite is 26a with 1a taking the runner up prize.

    Many thanks to the setter and to Miffypops for your lovely blog.

    N.B 11a is not only God awful stuff but stupidly tricky but make! Floating egg whites…correct temp etc.
    But I’ve just had proper chicken soup on a wintery N.Yorks day whilst sat outside.
    La dolce vita.

    • Jane
      Posted December 8, 2014 at 7:23 pm | Permalink

      Thought of you as I was doing ‘letter circles’ all over the place for the anagrams!

      How did the GC Ball go? Did you need the Cognac when you got home? http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_smile.gif

      • Hanni
        Posted December 8, 2014 at 9:16 pm | Permalink

        I do love those letter circles!
        In answer to your question about Cognac…oh my goodness yes. In fact the other half went straight in and poured me it himself. I was getting out of my wellies that I drove home in.

        How did the bird watching go? :-)

        • Jane
          Posted December 8, 2014 at 9:38 pm | Permalink

          I’m guessing there’s a lot to be read between your lines! http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_whistle3.gif

          Bid watching was great, thank you. Two full days, Saturday & Sunday. No long black ‘frock’ but plenty of ‘wellies’.

          • Hanni
            Posted December 8, 2014 at 10:14 pm | Permalink

            Indeed Jane. But I’m guessing you know how these things can go. ;-)

            Any good ‘spots’? I hope you, daughter(s) and new walking boots are well? :-) Oh and are ‘bids’ a rare bird? Sorry….I certainly make enough typos and ridiculous auto correct mistakes. :-)

            • Jane
              Posted December 8, 2014 at 10:50 pm | Permalink

              Yep – I reckon ‘bids’ are very rare indeed. I’ve certainly never seen one! http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_yahoo.gif

              Boots are fine – daughter is pining. Looks like the fiancé won’t be home until 20th Dec. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_cry.gif

              • Hanni
                Posted December 8, 2014 at 11:10 pm | Permalink

                Oh no :-( She must be missing him so much.
                I’m very glad the ‘bid’ spotting went well though. ;-) You’ll have to tell me about the ‘real’ birds you see. I can Google them because goodness knows I am particularly rubbish at ornithology. I’ll explain the story of the ‘Little Owl’, one day. I don’t come out well in it. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_yes.gif

  17. neveracrossword
    Posted December 8, 2014 at 2:18 pm | Permalink

    On my first run-through, I only managed a couple of clues; but then everything fell into place without too much exertion. I may have been assisted by the fact that I have personal experience of 1ac. Thanks to Miffypops and setter. 2*/3.5*

  18. Mary Mary
    Posted December 8, 2014 at 2:27 pm | Permalink

    ***/**** for me, too, as I found 1a, 9a and 11a VERY difficult but 1a was also VERY clever ! Would not define 15d as to pickle, though …Liked the anagrams. As a 12a, I strongly object to that definition !!!

  19. Kath
    Posted December 8, 2014 at 3:13 pm | Permalink

    I’m in the slightly tricky camp too so 2* plus a bit for difficulty and 4* for enjoyment.
    I ended up in real trouble in the top left corner with 1 and 9a and 2d that I couldn’t do for ages – they were the ones that gave it a + a bit for difficulty.
    3d caused a bit of a hiccough – how many times have I seen something like it? It still catches me out.
    I was going to argue about the 12a and 15d definitions but BRB tells me that I’m wrong so I’ll shut up.
    I liked 16 and 19a and 5 and 6d, and lots more. My favourite was 13a.
    Thanks to Rufus, Miffypops and BD.
    More Christmas stuff to do then going to have a go at Mr Rookie as a reward.

  20. Ginny
    Posted December 8, 2014 at 3:52 pm | Permalink

    Thank you very much, setter, for this. It appeared difficult at first but it was enjoyably solvable as it went in. Thank you Miffypops, particularly for 11a which I would never ever have got, and for 3d which I got but couldn’t understand why. Like Kath, I have been caught out before by that one and should have remembered it. Favourite was 19a. I found 3d, 9a and 11a the most difficult. Now to do a bit of 3d before starting the Christmas cards.

  21. Vancouverbc
    Posted December 8, 2014 at 4:01 pm | Permalink

    ***/****. I really enjoyed this puzzle but it took a little while for the penny to drop re 19a and 3d which I bunged in and then laughed when I realized the connection. Thanks to the setter for a good start to the week and MP for the review.

  22. Merusa
    Posted December 8, 2014 at 4:16 pm | Permalink

    I was dead on wavelength today, the bottom half going in first. So many that really made me smile, I can’t name them all; 1a and 19a in particular. I even managed to do the quickie, I don’t think I’ em ever solved one of those. I can’t agree about 11a as a good one is very good, particularly with a dash of dry sherry!
    Thank you Rufus for the most entertaining puzzle, and to M’pops for the review.

    http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_yahoo.gif

    • Merusa
      Posted December 8, 2014 at 4:27 pm | Permalink

      That autocorrect drives me crazy!!

  23. Annidrum
    Posted December 8, 2014 at 4:21 pm | Permalink

    Lovely puzzle. I give it **/****. Last one in was 1a and my favourite 26a. Thanks to Rufus & MP.

  24. Salty Dog
    Posted December 8, 2014 at 4:36 pm | Permalink

    Gentle but amusing; 1*/3* or thereabouts. I toyed with 11a for favouritism, but plumped in the end for 6a (which stirred a rueful smile when the penny dropped). Thanks to Rufus, and to Miffypops.

  25. Chris
    Posted December 8, 2014 at 4:58 pm | Permalink

    All reasonably straightforward until 1a and 3d – just couldn’t think of suitable words despite having the right ideas. Gave in and looked up what would fit into 1a, which is never quite as satisfying! 2*/3* with no special clues to highlight today. Many thanks to MP and the setter.

  26. Kitty
    Posted December 8, 2014 at 5:13 pm | Permalink

    It all slipped in swiftly and straightforwardly… until I 13a and hit some resistance with only three to go. After some pondering 15d gave way, then some more mental probing produced 1a (although I hadn’t heard of those in relation to apprenticeships). Then there was 3d. No excuses there, so I shall hang my head and slink off into a corner.

    I think that’s why I prefer the hard ones: there’s no shame if you can’t finish, and loads of satisfaction to be had if you do!

    I liked 19a, 26a and 6d, but will go for 2d as favourite. Thanks to Rufus and Miffypops.

  27. Hilary
    Posted December 8, 2014 at 5:21 pm | Permalink

    I thought it was quite difficult but had a lovely time today with only a tiny bit of electronic wizardry mainly due to not being able to read my pencilling in, must get a new sharpener. The OH has just suggested that it is probably because I am a bit 12a so I said he was a bit 16a and we 24a to differ. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/smiley-phew.gif Thanks to Rufus and Miffypops and BD – the only problem left what do I do with the rest of the evening?

  28. 2Kiwis
    Posted December 8, 2014 at 5:22 pm | Permalink

    We started off as we usually do by looking at 1a. As it transpired, it ended up being our last answer to fill in, after having moved right around the grid. A pleasant puzzle that took about the normal solving time for a Monday.
    Thanks Rufus and Miffypops.

  29. Una
    Posted December 8, 2014 at 5:56 pm | Permalink

    Oh that top left corner !Thanks for your help Miffypops.Otherwise enjoyable but tough. Thanks to Rufus.

  30. jean-luc cheval
    Posted December 8, 2014 at 6:44 pm | Permalink

    Hello everyone. Worked clockwise and finished with the SE corner. 11a was my last one in after reading the clue over and over again until I got the right parsing. Never too happy to have a particular battle being just dismissed as an action. Imagine the amount of battles in the world’s history. I remembered 1a when a friend of mine was doing her articles in a law firm. What a strange expression. Sounds more like working in a sweat shop. Anyway, on a lighter note, I met Framboise today and she was very kind to give me the last three Sunday grids. Maybe I should register for the online crosswords as she told me it’s only £25 or so a year. I already pay 4€ a day to get a copy but it’s such a pleasure to hold the paper in my hands.
    I just loved the blasé review from MP. And thanks to Rufus.

  31. Jane
    Posted December 8, 2014 at 7:19 pm | Permalink

    On first read through, thought this one could cause problems but in the event it all fell into place quite smoothly. Lots to smile about – 6,16 & 26a plus 2&4d, but will go for 13a as favourite. Also rather liked the Quickie pun. Would probably agree with Kath’s 2.5*/3* rating and definitely agree with Hanni about 11a. It can be done really well but, in my experience, generally isn’t and finishes up tasting like the proverbial dishwater. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_negative.gif
    Many thanks to Rufus and to MP for his usual personalised review!

    Off to launch another attack on the MPP – not yielding easily!

    • Hilary
      Posted December 8, 2014 at 9:00 pm | Permalink

      I enjoyed the Quickie pun but I suspect I have a rather warped sense of humour as they usually tickle my funny bone. The MMP is the first one I have tackled and as very newcomer tk BD’s gang found it heavy going. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_bye.gif

      • Hanni
        Posted December 8, 2014 at 9:25 pm | Permalink

        I like the quickie puns too. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_yes.gif

      • Jane
        Posted December 8, 2014 at 9:42 pm | Permalink

        Don’t panic, Hilary. I’ve now got to within four answers of completing the MPP and am already beginning to think that I won’t be able to make a real word out of the letters that remain unused. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_wacko.gif

        • jean-luc cheval
          Posted December 8, 2014 at 9:55 pm | Permalink

          I might be sent to bad boy’s corner but if you take the name of my town in Provencal you will understand.

          • Jane
            Posted December 8, 2014 at 10:45 pm | Permalink

            Got there eventually before I read your post – umm……. you just might be in the bad boys’ corner, but maybe you actually need to have got the answer before you can see the connection? http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_unsure.gif

            • jean-luc cheval
              Posted December 8, 2014 at 10:52 pm | Permalink

              sorry Jane, I think I suffer from chronic cryptic fatigue.

  32. Gwizz
    Posted December 8, 2014 at 7:30 pm | Permalink

    A gentle lead-in to the puzzles ahead. I enjoyed completing this crossword, I think mainly because it was ‘nice’ to solve. If that makes sense. Sometimes a crossword just doesn’t ‘hit the spot’ regardless of how easy/difficult it may be. This one did.
    Thanks to Rufus and to MP/BD for the hints.

  33. carlos
    Posted December 8, 2014 at 9:10 pm | Permalink

    Managed another completion after a few blank days, though this needed, what I am discovering is a handy trick… Leave it alone, and come back a few hours later, its amazing how many fall into place on second viewing.

    As I’m still new to this, I thought it time to ask a few quick questions on what constitutes help, or what constitutes cheating…

    1) An Anagram website (I sometimes use one as I tend to do these on the computer in the office, so cant spend too long working them out; once I know what it’s an anagram of, I can get the answer in a few seconds.

    2) a website like crossword solver – gives you a list of words that fit.

    3) The clues on here

    4) The answers on here.

    So far I am considering it a completion if I use the first two, but avoid the second two. Am I being too hard on myself, or am I having it too easy?

    • Posted December 8, 2014 at 9:16 pm | Permalink

      My own view is that you should set your own targets and not worry about what others think. The main reason for solving crosswords is the enjoyment achieved and there is no such thing as cheating.

      • Hanni
        Posted December 8, 2014 at 9:24 pm | Permalink

        Exactly BD. How is it any different to using the BRB or any other dictionary? I found this site as I was stuck on a clue.
        So long as you enjoy it I don’t think you should worry at all. :-)
        Plus you really do learn so much here.

      • carlos
        Posted December 8, 2014 at 9:30 pm | Permalink

        Thanks Dave, I suppose “cheating” wasn’t the right term. I was just wondering what the consensus is on using a reference source, and the four I listed seemed fairly graded in the amount of help they give.

        Like Hanni, I found this site when I was stuck on a clue a few weeks ago, and I’ve found it invaluable in lighting the way.

        • Posted December 8, 2014 at 9:35 pm | Permalink

          I don’t think you can rank solving aids in any particular order. Decide on your own targets and, perhaps, set a time limit before you seek assistance.

    • Miffypops
      Posted December 8, 2014 at 9:28 pm | Permalink

      I agree with Big Dave here. Whatever gets you to a completed grid. With experience the artificial aids will get used less and less.

      • Hanni
        Posted December 8, 2014 at 10:09 pm | Permalink

        Jean-Luc I would love to know how Dan Manley’s mind works. Mephisto may as well be written in Icelandic some weeks.
        Just keep enjoying the solving process Carlos. What you have accomplished is fantastic. :-)

      • Angel
        Posted December 8, 2014 at 10:52 pm | Permalink

        I seem to remember you once saying that merely writing down letters to work out an anagram was cheating?!

        • Miffypops
          Posted December 8, 2014 at 11:02 pm | Permalink

          I rarely use anything for anagrams. I was being mischievous when I wrote that it was cheating.

          • jean-luc cheval
            Posted December 8, 2014 at 11:06 pm | Permalink

            I also like to write the letters in a circle. one up one down and sometimes it ends up looking like a caesarian clap.

            • Jane
              Posted December 8, 2014 at 11:51 pm | Permalink

              A WHAT!!! http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_wacko.gif

              • jean-luc cheval
                Posted December 9, 2014 at 12:06 am | Permalink

                another cryptic clue my dear…. a snail carapace.

    • jean-luc cheval
      Posted December 8, 2014 at 9:39 pm | Permalink

      This site is so useful as it really breaks down the how and why some rather evident answers are build the way they are. It gives you insight of how the minds of the real setters work. Just fantastic! And I don’t mean unreal as most dictionary would define.

    • Jane
      Posted December 8, 2014 at 9:53 pm | Permalink

      Hi Carlos – my personal ‘take’ on your four points:-

      1. Didn’t know there was such a site – pencil and circles usually gets me there.
      2. Oh yes – very useful at times and I’ve quite mastered the art of avoiding all the adverts!
      3/4 – Umm……. I really do look upon that as admitting defeat.

      Funny how we all set our own rules and live by them, but – as others have already said – it’s fun no matter which way you choose to go and the more you learn the less you need the help.

      Enjoy your puzzles and keep tuning into BD. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_bye.gif

    • Kath
      Posted December 8, 2014 at 10:24 pm | Permalink

      I don’t think that you can cheat yourself – crosswords are meant to be fun – let’s just enjoy them. In the process of enjoying them you get better at them and then you enjoy them even more, and so it goes on . . . http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_yes.gif

      • Kath
        Posted December 8, 2014 at 10:27 pm | Permalink

        PS Walking away from a crossword and doing something else – having a cup of coffee, hanging out the washing, pulling up a few weeds or whatever takes your fancy is called “cogitation time” – it’s quite amazing how your brain will have sorted out all kinds of things by the time you sit down and have another look.

    • Owdoo
      Posted December 8, 2014 at 11:05 pm | Permalink

      My advice would be to use the computerised help as you are “learning” and aim to use them less and less as time goes on. Set your own pace but with practice and determination one day you should enjoy the satisfaction of solving a puzzle without any of the 4 aids you listed. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_smile.gif

    • Hilary
      Posted December 8, 2014 at 11:09 pm | Permalink

      Don’t take it to seriously because what BD says is correct, I suspect that most people when they first start have some help. Using Google, or a helpful website, I own up to electronic helper I have a Seiko which has a spell check and an anagram solver, and as you get more into the crosswords and have been part of the blog for a while you will gain confidence and find things dropping into place. I have only been here for a couple of months and the difference is amazing. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_good.gif

    • carlos
      Posted December 8, 2014 at 11:50 pm | Permalink

      Thanks for all the comments everyone. I suppose by “cheating”, I meant “cheating myself” (or overstating my progress)… am I really improving or am I just getting better at looking things up,… you are right though. it doesn’t matter how you get there as long as you do… and with experience will come better ways to get there more often.

    • Ally
      Posted December 8, 2014 at 11:50 pm | Permalink

      I have been using the help but I am beginning to recognise patterns . There are some words that reappear such as seesaw ,evident, Classics, that I can get. I have been wondering whether it is ok to use help but sometimes there is the rest of the day to get on with too. I can’t wait until the day that I can do a write in. Each day I learn a bit from this blog.

      • carlos
        Posted December 8, 2014 at 11:55 pm | Permalink

        I got seesaw today because Ive seen it twice this week, I got the see.. I’m still not sure where the saw came from.

        • Ally
          Posted December 9, 2014 at 12:32 am | Permalink

          It was explained to me a few weeks ago here Carlos. A saw is an adage.

  34. Ally
    Posted December 8, 2014 at 9:53 pm | Permalink

    It all seemed to come together quite easily, more guesswork than anything else. I like Mondays. Thank you.

  35. After 10pm
    Posted December 8, 2014 at 10:54 pm | Permalink

    Did all this very easily except for 1a when I needed some help. Having got the answer, I thought what a brilliant clue it was!

  36. Tstrummer
    Posted December 9, 2014 at 1:12 am | Permalink

    Usual enjoyable Monday Rufus. Some excellent misdirection so which took it to 3* difficulty for me. 3* for fun too. However, I must disagree with the otherwise admirable MP on consommé. He clearly hasn’t had a good one. Get it piping hot and then crack an egg into it and leave for five minutes. Delicious. He’s right about Van the Man, though.

    • Miffypops
      Posted December 9, 2014 at 10:58 am | Permalink

      Good Morning Tstrummer. You must sometimes feel all alone posting when the rest of us are asleep. My only brush with Consomme was in the Balearics around 69 or 70. I was keen to try anything and everything new and was excited by so many new tastes. The consomme was awful. Maybe because we were used to thick hearty winter warmer soups and this was thin and uninspiring I have never seen it on a menu since. It was also m,y first real taste of Gin which you mentioned earlier and girls. A family trip to Ibiza when it was not at all built up led me to a small bar run by a German family where Leonard Cohen and Bob Dylan featured large on the playlist. That holiday helped to define my musical future. I would have ended up where I am but not by so direct a route. We flew to Belfast in October to see Van Morrison. I have tickets to see him in London on the 21st of this month. I just hope he leaves out the Brown Eyed Girl and Gloria and sticks withe highly personal stuff like On Hyndeford Street, Orangefields and In The Garden. Anything from Astral Weeks will be welcome too.

  37. weekendwanda
    Posted December 9, 2014 at 1:59 pm | Permalink

    I love reading all the comments when everyone had finished. Oh how different we are , Ia was a write in for me as I had articles once. They call them training contracts now. I never would have got 19a in a million years. Eventually got my last one without help 15a once I had the I from 19a to complete the checking letters. I went off on alot of wild goose chases with that one but agree with another blogger that I would not think of the answer as a pickle. Well done setter, MP et al.