DT 27685 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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DT 27685

Daily Telegraph Cryptic No 27685

Hints and tips by Gazza

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

BD Rating – Difficulty **Enjoyment **

I didn’t enjoy this one a great deal – quite a few of the surfaces seemed clunky and didn’t make much sense and some of the definitions seemed a bit off. So, there’s plenty of room for discussion here – let’s hear what you thought. If you’re a lurker why not make a New Year’s resolution to introduce yourself and join in the banter?

If you click on any of the areas showing ‘Click here!’ you’ll see the actual answer so only do that as a last resort.

Across Clues

1a Gin and whisky, they’re divine (7)
SPIRITS – double definition. Although the answer was pretty obvious from the start I delayed writing it in because I can’t see why these disembodied beings are divine.

5a Almost flog Ray? That’s inconsiderate (7)
SELFISH – a verb to flog or hawk without its last letter is followed by what a ray (the sort found in water) is an example of.

9a Out of bed and prepared for trouble (5)
UPSET – charade of an adverb meaning out of bed and an adjective meaning prepared.

10a Doris ran off, grabbing last bit of soap — the sign of a shower (9)
RAINDROPS – an anagram (off) of DORIS RAN contains (grabbing) the last letter of (soa)P.

11a Recoiling from French writing and illustrating (10)
DESCRIBING – recoiling is normally a reversal indicator but there’s no reversal here so I think it’s being used to mean bringing together (as one might an untidy rope). What’s being brought together are the French word meaning ‘of’ and a present participle meaning writing.

12a ‘Dessert’ or ‘desert’ — it will come back with time (4)
TART – what you may have for dessert is a verb to desert or betray reversed (it will come back) followed by T(ime).

14a Mean host isn’t prepared for shock (12)
ASTONISHMENT – an anagram (prepared) of MEAN HOST ISN’T.

18a Turning to grab at gossip (12)
CONVERSATION – a turning or transformation (especially in a religious or political sense) contains (to grab, as used in 10a) AT.

21a Dirty, therefore I left (4)
SOIL – the definition, dirty, is a verb here. String together an adverb meaning therefore, I and L(eft).

22a Deciphering unfinished Alan Turing rule initially concerning the numbers 0, 1, 3, 6, 10… (10)
TRIANGULAR – an anagram (unfinished) of ALA(n) TURING followed by the initial letter of R(ule) gives a word for a series of numbers defining the balls or dots which can be used to make an equilateral triangle. I can see how this works for the numbers from 1 onwards but I can’t see how a triangle can be made from zero balls – I’m sure that someone with a more mathematical bent will explain it!

25a What surgeon might be doing — lecturing about physical exercise (9)
OPERATING – a word for lecturing or public speaking contains the abbreviation for physical exercise.

26a In a strange manner, as Moet might get me? (5)
ODDLY – if you apply the answer to the word Moet you end up with ME.

27a Ordering track to go round ends of border nearest Delhi (7)
SORTING – a track (one on a cd for example) contains the end letters of the last three words.

28a Correspondent: ‘er editor’s sandwiches put down on paper (7)
ENTERED – the clue conceals (sandwiches) the answer. What do you suppose the surface means?

Down Clues

1d Cram maintaining run is strong (6)
STURDY – Cram is not the runner Steve but a verb meaning to mug up, possibly for an exam. Insert (maintaining) the cricket abbreviation for run.

2d Demand in relation to 50% off (6)
INSIST – string together IN (from the clue), the abbreviated term for a female relative and just half of the word TO.

3d Engrossed in heartless article, then relaxed (10)
INTERESTED – a similar clue to the previous one. Again we start with IN, then we add a definite article without its middle and a verb meaning relaxed.

4d Polish  scratch (5)
SCRUB – double definition, scratch in the sense of cancel or abandon. This activity seems to me to require a bit more elbow grease than ‘to polish’.

5d Dissecting insects — it could be one’s job (9)
SCIENTIST – an anagram (dissecting) of INSECTS IT.

6d When they’re closed you can’t see in or out (4)
LIDS – a (not very) cryptic definition of what covers the eyes.

7d Recognised  lonely  individual (8)
ISOLATED – triple definition.

8d Delay His Excellency — one in government (8)
HESITATE – the abbreviation for His Excellency is followed by another word for government with the Roman numeral for one inserted.

13d Completely tough Roth novel about university (10)
THROUGHOUT – an anagram (novel) of TOUGH ROTH contains U(niversity).

15d Watching old boy getting plateful (9)
OBSERVING – the abbreviation for old boy followed by a plateful or portion.

16d Hold  hairdresser’s equipment (8)
SCISSORS – double definition, the hold being one used in wrestling.

17d Train the Queen to manoeuvre (8)
ENGINEER – a train (or really, what pulls a train – we’ve had discussions about the difference previously) is followed by the regnal cipher of our Queen.

19d Good ride up in the air — learner driver is in this? (6)
GLIDER – G(ood) and an anagram (up in the air) of RIDE with the letter displayed by a learner driver between them.

20d Hoped bit of light could be captured by page editor (6)
PRAYED – a bit or beam of light is inserted (captured) between the abbreviations for page and editor.

23d Quarrel with a head of government in Parisian street (5)
ARGUE – A (from the clue) followed by the French word for street with the first letter of G(overnment) inserted.

24d Returning at times to get one form of transport (4)
TAXI – reverse (returning) AT and follow this with the mathematical sign meaning times and the Roman numeral for one.

Today’s Quickie Pun: MISSED + ARIGHT = MR RIGHT

 


137 comments on “DT 27685

  1. Not exactly a lurker but as I am in Brisbane have finished early. Thanks for the explanation to 27a. Happy New Year to everyone.

  2. Completed this in 2* time but spent a while after fully untangling it. Never did get to the bottom of 22a, so glad of Gazza’s explanation that it was balls.
    As I have said before, Tuesdays can be a bit hit and miss…

          1. I think Brian could go either of two ways:

            Atrocious – how can we be expected to know something so obscure
            or
            Well, give me primary level maths over obscure general knowledge any day.

            I hope it’s the first, because otherwise I might find myself agreeing with Brian… http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_wacko.gif

            1. It’s over 50 years since I did primary maths and the need to know about triangular numbers has not cropped up until today. I won’t get caught again!

              1. Oh, I’m sorry – I didn’t mean to be mean. It’s perfectly reasonable not to know about triangular numbers. My point was only that they are not too obscure to be in a crossword, not that everyone should know them. But I don’t like how my comment sounds: unkind to non-mathematical people, not to mention Brian. I am chastened: please accept my apologies http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_rose.gif.

                1. To an independent party, your comment didn’t seem offensive, nor did Rick seem to take it that way. Be kind to yourself! :-)

                  1. Atrocious.
                    Probably the worst clue I’ve ever attempted.
                    Never heard of such numbers.
                    Still don’t understand it.
                    Load of b…s
                    Sorry but I’m, hopefully, with Brian on this.
                    And I was good at maths, came first in the fifth form.

        1. I thought I was good at maths, but I must have been off school the day triangular numbers were covered. Not only does it not ring any bells, but it doesn’t make any sense to me. I think this is a little too complex for a Telegraph crossword.

  3. 2*/1*. Thank you very much, Gazza. I was left with a feeling of dissatisfaction after I had completed this puzzle, but was much relieved to read your review which articulated many of my thoughts.

    I thought 1a was a poor clue and I didn’t like the use of “recoiling” in 11a. My admittedly rusty mathematical knowledge would lead me to think that 0 is not a triangular number, although I expect there may some esoteric reason why the series could start with it.

    I thought 2d was a mistake as I only managed to parse this by removing 33.3% (recurring!) from sister! Having read Gazza’s explanation, I think the use of sis is a bit iffy although, having just looked it up, it is in my BRB. I also can’t see why the answer to 7d means recognised, and I can’t find this meaning in my BRB.

    Oh dear, that all sounds a bit moany. Sorry about that. I am in a good mood really.

    Thanks to the setter for making the effort and to Gazza for his excellent review.

    1. I think that isolate can mean to recognise or pick out, as in “it will be difficult to isolate the significant factors”.

  4. I’ve been using the website for a year now and can usually finish the DT crossword myself. Still sometimes need Big Dave to help out with the more obscure clues.
    I agree with Gazza about today’s offering. Some very dubious definitions/clues (1A, 5A, 11A, 20D). And I don’t understand 26A either.
    Thanks for the help
    Ed

    1. You’ve shortened your alias so your comment needed moderation – both should now work.
      26a The odd letters of MoEt give you ME.

  5. Reading through the hints and comments above, my appreciation for the puzzle increases.The subtlelties of 22a and 26a.I also liked the connection between surface readings and anagram fodder , such as in 5d.Thanks Gazza and setter.http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_smile.gif

  6. I agree with the comments above – the wordplay did not seem to be the best. I made a bit more heavy weather of this one than I should have – entering words while puzzling at length as to why they were correct.

    2*/3* for me.

  7. I will admit that I fail totally to get the answer to 12a and left it blank pending the blog. Having seen and understood Gazza’s solution I still would not have solved it by myself. Very crafty. My favourite by a long way is 26a. I felt ever so clever when I solved it.

    I have no idea how 0 or 1 (or even 2) of anything can make a triangle but maybe I’m just thick. I put the word in as a ‘bung in’ without really understanding why it could be correct. A very contrived clue.

    Many thanks, Gazza. Not too sure if I should thank the setter, but it is nearly New Year so thanks anyway.

  8. Entirely agree with Gazza not a pleasant ramble through I was also stumped by 22a also 1a not sure if spirits are divine except possibly some single malts!
    Many thanks to setters and bloggers may we all have a good and peaceful New Year.Slainte mhath. (Slahnje Vah) good health in the Gaelic

    1. That’s rather wordy, isn’t it? I was brought up to say merely “slainte” (but by Irish folk, not Scots) :-)

    1. MP – didn’t know if you read my post from yesterday’s review regarding ‘jolly boats’.

      1. Hello Shropshire Lad. Yes I read your post (I read them all) but had a busy day as you may surmise from my lack of comment. I googled Jack Speak by Rick Jolly and very interesting it sounds too. I had an idea that a Jolly Boat might be used from ship to shore but did not know. it just came up as the second definition of a Yawl. I doubt that I could write a review without the aid of Google and thankfully Google occasionally throws up a bizarre little snippet I can put to good use. Thankfully Big Dave is not a censor, an editor yes, but censor, no. Thanks for commenting (and thanks to all who do) Miffypops

        1. Thanks for the reply Miffypops – I thought you might be busy at this time of year. Hope you have a good onehttp://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_good.gif

  9. I enjoyed this, finding it gentle and pleasant.

    6d may be easy, but I had eyes for it until I saw that the e had no place in 10a. Like Gazza, I didn’t enter 1a immediately.

    I agree with the points our blogger raises (I’d completely missed the recoiling in 11a), but would move one star across from difficulty to enjoyment.

    26a was a smiler. What a shame there is an extra 0 in 22a, because I very much liked it otherwise.

    5d for the win. That went in with a smile.

    Many thanks to Mr Ron and Gazza :).

  10. **/**

    Hmm. Having read through what setters go through I am reluctant to criticise puzzles. But this just didn’t do it for me.

    There are some lovely clues with 26a standing out but quite a few left me cold. Like others I got 1a on first pass but I just can’t see agree with the whole spirit/divinity thing.

    I did enjoy 3d and 18a.

    Many thanks to the setter and to Gazza for blogging! Outstanding work on the pic for 16d ;-)

    I solved this today without using my beloved pencils for the anagrams. I felt so guilty I doodled a house. Now I’m going to the Runswick Bay. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_yes.gif

    I hope everyone has a lovely day.

      1. I still prefer to do my crosswords in pencil, even after half a lifetime as both a cruciverbalist and a programmer :-)

    1. I like that you used your pencils to doodle a house, Hanni. Because now, with reference to perfectly-fitting items made by Saint Sharon, I can ask: did you draw the curtains?

      I’ll get my coat.

  11. Certainly wasn’t sure that some of my answers were correct – circled 12a, 4&7d as possible errors, but Gazza tells me I’m right so that’s OK by me! As for 22a – I just came up with the anagram, bunged it in and didn’t trouble myself about the numbers – ‘simples’ http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_mail.gif

    As for the debate about clues, hints etc. Seems to me that there’s a million and one ways to find answers to most puzzles if you choose to do so. I’d rather not use them as I fear that could lead to reliance upon them and not improve my skills (which definitely need improvement!) but if they offer encouragement to others then that’s their decision to make. Could take some of the fun out of waiting for the subsequent excellent reviews on this site, though!

    Having said my piece, I’m off to resume the fight with Rookie 038 – seem to be missing a few feathered friends. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_wacko.gif

    1. Somewhat belatedly, Terry, well done on de-lurking and welcome! Please do keep contributing. It’s great fun and very addictive.

    2. Yes – I’m with Rabbit Dave here – keep commenting, please. But do be warned that it is really addictive. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_yes.gif

  12. Thanks to the setter and to Gazza for the review and hints. I didn’t like this at all, couldn’t understand half of it. Needed to look up 10 answers. Was 4*/1* for me.

  13. We found this pretty hard going and needed quite a lot of help. I would like to say onwards and upwards, but sometimes the upwards takes a bit of a tumble. Anyway, thank you to the Tuesday setter and to Gazza.

  14. To those asking about the zero in the sequence in 22A… you start counting from zero, don’t you? So the first number in the sequence is the numbers of dots in a triangle whose side has length zero.

    What do you mean, you don’t count from zero? How many elephants are on your lawn right now? If your answer is greater than zero, can I pop round to have a look?

    After all that… this proud holder of a BSc and MSc in the subject needed almost all of the checkers before the penny dropped :-)

      1. I do think that heffalumps are probably spelt with two “FF’s but not surprised that you have a couple on your garden wall. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_whistle3.gif

      1. That’s a nice link.

        The Greeks used to display the dots in a right-angled triangle, as follows:

        x
        x x
        x x x
        x x x x

        I prefer this, as it makes it easier to think of triangular numbers in the context of square numbers et al.

        For example, the Wolfram site that you linked to points out that “The sum of consecutive triangular numbers is a square number”.

        That sounds quite esoteric, but a simple picture makes it blindingly obvious.

        y y y y y
        x y y y y
        x x y y y
        x x x y y
        x x x x y

        There’s a 4-triangle made up of “x”s, and an inverted 5-triangle made up of “y”s, and together they make a 5-square.

        I find that very pleasing :-)

        1. Oh dear – I’m still trying to deal with the idea of any triangle having a right-angle. Can I get back to you on the other questions later?

    1. This is all gobbledegook to me – we didn’t have triangular numbers when I was a school (which I admit was an awful long while ago!) I have no idea how 1 is a triangle let alone 0.

      Ignorance is not bliss – it just makes me feel inadequate and depressed! http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/smiley-phew.gif

  15. I agree with Gazza’s opening comments and star ratings. Not the best puzzle but not the worst either.

    Also never heard of the maths bit but the answer was fairly easy to guess from the anagram fodder once all the checkers were in. I have just read the Wiki article on it so now I’m going for a lie down.

    Thanks to Mr Ron and Gazza

  16. Thank you setter. I thought that were some very clever clues – and some, well, not so good. A bit of a mixture. Having to solve this in lots of short sessions again which doesn’t help with the overall satisfaction of completing a puzzle. There were a couple of “bungitins” for which I needed your explanations Gazza, but I did get 12a and 26a. Thanks for the hints and review. Getting the answer for 22a has done nothing to help understanding it http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_wacko.gif

  17. 22a – I’ve never heard of it – but Chambers (12th Edition) definitely has.

    triangular:(of a number) any of the series of numbers 0, 1, 3, 6, 10, 15, etc, the series being formed by adding 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, consecutively to consecutive members of the series.

    Isn’t BD a mathematician? Maybe he can explain?

  18. **/***
    Thanks to Gazza for explanations as to the reason for the answers that I arrived at, but I am still at a loss as to why Delhi is included in the clue to 27a

    1. The final letters (RTI) of the last 3 words were required for the answer so the final word (Delhi) could actually have been any word ending in I.

  19. Despite finishing this so quickly I attempted the Toughie, I still had to wait for the hints to explain 22a, 26a and 16d.

  20. I’ll tell you Brian’s take, absolutely ghastly!
    So many bad clues it’s hard to know where to start. 1a, 11a, 26a, 27a, 28a, 7d, I could go on longer but you get the gist.
    However, strangely enough I did like 22a, long time since I did primary maths.
    Very little to recommend this one at all. Must admit I saw no phrases and the Queen and my heart dropped ‘Oh No. Not a Ray T on a Tuesday’ but even I must concede that his are much better constructed.

    1. As soon as I saw ‘Queen’ I knew your heart would sink, but I DO hope Mr. T. looks in today and sees the compliment you paid him!

      HEY EVERYBODY – BRIAN PAID MR. T. A COMPLIMENT http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_yahoo.gifhttp://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_yahoo.gifhttp://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_yahoo.gif

  21. Back in the cupboard under the stairs with a new box of tissues. Not on my wavelength at all, bit downcast as I thought I was improving but even with vast quantities of electronic help I was still lost roll on tomorrow. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_cry.gif. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_cry.gif

      1. Hecky thump, I thought you were supposed to be cheering me up, at this rate I will be in the cupboard all next year. Yes I did finish it but with a fair amount of head-scratching and a little bit of electronic help. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/smiley-phew.gif

    1. It happens from time to time Hilary. I thought this one was a little off the wall and the comments above say the same. Tomorrow is another day. A Jay day. Now who knows what he may hit us with.

    2. Yes, no cupboards please Hilary. Dry your eyes and find comfort in the corner club. I am currently Skyping bespoke hints to another struggling person, who most certainly is improving in leaps and bounds, but not liking today. You are not alone.

      Now, to quote Michael…

    3. Struggling person here. I thought I was getting the hang of these things, but eventually abandoned today’s puzzle in frustration. So Hilary, I know exactly how you feel and I commiserate. Quite a few clues seemed off to me. And why is “Ray” in 5a capitalized?

      Probably going to get grief for this from a certain feline, but I didn’t like 22a. I have an honours degree in maths, and I do not remember ever hearing the members of that particular arithmetic series called triangular numbers. Perhaps it’s a regional thing.

    4. Oh Hilary!
      Please don’t feel bad. As the Sufi poets said, this too shall pass. I have made enough mistakes croswwording to challenge the patience of a Buddhist monk.

        1. The sort of error you make whilst typing on your pphone, that would make the aforementioned monks cold cock me with a large club! Drat! Or other such ‘words’.

  22. **/*** for a fairly enjoyable if unremarkable puzzle. I got held up briefly in the SE corner and found 22a a bit of a coincidence as I started reading a book called Enigma today in which he was referenced in the first chapter (that’s as far as I’ve read today as I’ve been working). Thanks to Gazza and setter.

  23. Oh dear, this was definitely not within my comfort zone – I didn’t enjoy it at all, there were too many clues I just didn’t get. I hasten to add it was entirely down to me being particularly thick today – must be sickening for something.

    Crash and burn – back to the drawing board! http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_wacko.gif

  24. P S I forgot to say that I love the Mark Twain quote for the day, it is one of the OH’s favourtite expressions – I don’t mind and you don’t matter – shortly followed by a cushion hurtling across the room towards him (I usually miss).

  25. I agree with 2* and 2* – possibly a bit more for difficulty as, although I finished it, I did need a couple of explanations.
    It took me ages to even see that 22a was an anagram – completely blinded by all the numbers at the end of the clue and when I got the answer I was none the wiser as to why it was right.
    I didn’t understand why 26a was right either – even looked up Moet (to see if it’s a drink – it isn’t) and oddly (to see if it means drunk – it doesn’t) – oh dear!
    Didn’t get the recoiling bit of 11a.
    For no very good reason 17d was my last answer.
    With 2d I thought it was 50% off both the ‘relation’ and the ‘to’.
    I liked 10a and 5d – OK – they’re both anagrams – never mind – I like anagrams.
    With thanks to Mr Ron and to gazza.

        1. Oui – mais the BRB doesn’t think so . . . and neither does the BRB think that ‘oddly’ means pissed.

    1. I grumbled about the Moet clue as well. I suppose “… as Moet might get Me” would be too easy, but after been misled by “Ray” in 5a I’m unclear about what is legal in clues when it comes to arbitrary capitalization. Can somebody enlighten me? Oh, and Moët is a drink (www.moet.com) but presumably cryptic clues, like URLs, are allowed to ignore accents.

      1. The convention on capitalisation is that it’s permissable to capitalise the first letter of a word which is normally lower-case but not allowed to make a normally upper-case letter lower-case.

        1. Nice one, Gazza!

          Reminds me of Sir Humphrey Appleby explaining something to Prime Minister, Jim Hacker!

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

      2. Well you’ve heard my thoughts, but since I too am unsure and would like clarification from the experts, let me add them here.

        Since the answers are essentially caseless, capitals in the wordplay that change sense when embedded into the grid are fine. E.g Ray as a name could find its way into an answer as “ray”/”RAY” The lower case “me” in the clue scrapes into acceptability because “me” here is understood to be “ME” in an answer grid. I thought that in Telegraph crosswords at least, capitalisations in clues that change the sense of the word are not allowed. So “Ray” (unless he’s sneakily at the beginning of a sentence) can’t be in a clue to mean “fish” as part or all of an answer. Have I got that right? Answers on a postcard please.

        Anyway, after spending far too long here today, I shall leave Mr Rookie unfinished and bid you all a lovely evening. I managed one sober day, but am off out for drinkies shortly http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_yahoo.gif.

      1. Thanks but I would always assume that you’re right – either would do though . . .
        On alternate Thursdays Ray T would ‘pop in’ and tell us what he meant. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_yes.gif

  26. I did not enjoy this at all as many of the definitions were often of dubious origin.
    There was no satisfaction in getting many of the clues – only frustration!

  27. We are firmly of the opinion that the setter was trying to fool us into thinking that this might be a RayT puzzle. It has Ray in one of the clues and one of the answers, all the answers are single words and even the queen makes an appearance. However the word count on the clues is not restricted to 8 or fewer and the reading of them did not seem quite right. A quick glance at the quickie showed that to not have RayT characteristics either. We pondered for a while on what ‘recoiling’ was doing in 11a without reaching a satisfactory answer. Not a quick solve for us but pleasant enough.
    Thanks Mr Ron and Gazza.

  28. I also forgot to share the wonderful news with you all that Morrison’s have Easter eggs on the shelf when we went shopping today. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_yahoo.gif

    1. Great news! That means we can all just buy one and hatch out the rest in plenty of time for the day.

  29. Well I enjoyed this despite lots of comments to the contrary. But I didn’t enjoy the wiki articles about 22a which kept me from commenting for more than an hour – although it did make me go back to programming – something I’ve not done for 30 years. My thanks to the setter and Gazza for the hints which confirmed my bung-in for 26a.

  30. Finished it but didn’t like it.
    Got the hairdressing tool but didn’t know why.
    Thanks to both.
    It,s cold

  31. Late on today as had a doctor’s appointment and got back late. Not an easy puzzle but I did get to finish with help from magic gizmo with last two answers, 22a and 11a. I needed Gazza’s explanation for 22a, not sure that I really understand it but I take your word for it!
    Strange puzzle, but I did enjoy it as I normally do with a crossword.
    Thanks to setter and to Gazza for his much needed explanations.

  32. A bit of a hotchpotch for today I thought. I managed everything bar 27a cos I didn’t take enough initial letters! How daft am I? No answers required thank you.
    I must say that today’s blog is a joy to read, I have to say I enjoyed it far more than the crossword.
    Therefore thanks to the setter and to Gazza and to everybody who contributed today.
    http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_yahoo.gif

  33. ***/*** for me. I enjoyed the challenge of some dodgy clueing, so thanks to setter. I also enjoyed the blog banter so thanks to everyone and a happy new year from Warks.

  34. I didn’t really enjoy this one, and found some of the clues somehow unsatisfying. I’d have to score it 3* for difficulty (l found the Toughie easier today) and no more than 2* for satisfaction. I’m afraid l had no particular favourite clue either. Anyway, thanks to the setter for his/her contribution to exercising my little grey cells, and to Gazza for the review.

  35. I found it all a bit pedestrian but finished in 2* time. As regards 22a, I got it from the anagram and moved swiftly on. I’ve never heard of triangular numbers, but then that might be why I failed O-level maths six (yes six) times and never passed. I have never been able to complete a sudoku (not even the kids’ one on a Saturday). The great thing about cryptic crosswords is that there are always at least two ways to discover the answer. Thanks to Gazza for explaining the Moët bit and triangular balls. Only 2* fun for me today.

    1. I got ‘O’ level Maths Grade 2. Teachers said I was capable of a 1 so should resit it. I did and got a level 3. Really not sure what, if anything, that taught who . . . http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_scratch.gif

  36. Broadcasting live from the centre of France. It took me all day to arrive in the middle of nowhere with no internet access until late last night.
    Managed both crosswords on the train with no electronic help like in the not so distant past.
    Enjoyed the challenge despite some rather odd definitions that have been quite well commented upon
    Very busy blog.
    Business seems to be back to its usual level.
    Felt like Gazza was reviewing a Rookie Corner submit.
    Thanks to him and to Mr Ron and to Toro and Shamus for the toughie.

  37. Managed to complete it this morning after a couple of hours – only my third completed withiut help in just over a year !
    Last one in for me was 12a, i got it by associating desert with rat and reversing it then adding the t

    1. fuzzle, you’ve changed your alias since your last comment so moderation was required – both aliases should work from now on.
      Congratulations on your progress.

  38. I didn’t look at this crossword till yesterday as I have been busy getting to grips with Windows 8. Having now read the reviews of Windows 8, I wish I had waited for its replacement.

    Is 0 a triangle? Well, it can be any shape – just like 1 and infinity, it just depends on how you approach it. Keep reducing the size of a triangle and you end up with 0.

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