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




  1. Jaydubs
    Posted December 30, 2014 at 11:10 am | Permalink

    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. neveracrossword
    Posted December 30, 2014 at 11:13 am | Permalink

    I agree entirely with Gazza’s comments. Thanks to him and setter.

  3. Sheepdog
    Posted December 30, 2014 at 11:16 am | Permalink

    Even with the hint I don’t understand 26A

    • crypticsue
      Posted December 30, 2014 at 11:20 am | Permalink

      IF the solution was part of a clue, which letters would you take away and/or be left with?

      • Sheepdog
        Posted December 30, 2014 at 11:26 am | Permalink

        Thank you, I think I must have had too much Festive cheer! Brain is addled.

  4. Rick
    Posted December 30, 2014 at 11:35 am | Permalink

    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…

    • Vince
      Posted December 30, 2014 at 11:48 am | Permalink

      Rìck, if you mean that you now understand 22a, could you please explain?

      • gazza
        Posted December 30, 2014 at 11:59 am | Permalink

        If you look at Wikipedia here you may find out (but you may need a good supply of wet towels!).

        • Rick
          Posted December 30, 2014 at 12:37 pm | Permalink

          I am really looking forward to Brian’s take on this…

          • Kitty
            Posted December 30, 2014 at 1:06 pm | Permalink

            I think Brian could go either of two ways:

            Atrocious – how can we be expected to know something so obscure
            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

            • Rick
              Posted December 30, 2014 at 2:00 pm | Permalink

              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!

              • Kitty
                Posted December 30, 2014 at 2:05 pm | Permalink

                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.

                • Steve_The_Beard
                  Posted December 30, 2014 at 2:10 pm | Permalink

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

                  • Kitty
                    Posted December 30, 2014 at 2:16 pm | Permalink

                    Thanks Steve. I am prone to worrying too much, so your viewpoint is much appreciated :).

                • Rick
                  Posted December 30, 2014 at 3:34 pm | Permalink

                  None taken! http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_bye.gif

                  • Hrothgar
                    Posted December 30, 2014 at 6:45 pm | Permalink

                    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.

                    • Kath
                      Posted December 30, 2014 at 10:45 pm | Permalink

                      I was, and still am, good at maths too but never heard of this one. Oh dear – http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_sad.gif

        • Vince
          Posted December 30, 2014 at 12:59 pm | Permalink

          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.

          • Miffypops
            Posted December 30, 2014 at 2:18 pm | Permalink

            Well I got it and I never went to school

      • Moja
        Posted December 30, 2014 at 2:50 pm | Permalink

        For him, a scalp ruffled!

  5. Rabbit Dave
    Posted December 30, 2014 at 11:40 am | Permalink

    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.

    • gazza
      Posted December 30, 2014 at 11:51 am | Permalink

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

  6. Ed O
    Posted December 30, 2014 at 11:56 am | Permalink

    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

    • gazza
      Posted December 30, 2014 at 12:04 pm | Permalink

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

  7. Una
    Posted December 30, 2014 at 11:59 am | Permalink

    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

  8. George
    Posted December 30, 2014 at 12:05 pm | Permalink

    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.

  9. Rod
    Posted December 30, 2014 at 12:08 pm | Permalink

    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.

  10. Spook
    Posted December 30, 2014 at 12:39 pm | Permalink

    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

    • Steve_The_Beard
      Posted December 30, 2014 at 1:50 pm | Permalink

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

  11. Miffypops
    Posted December 30, 2014 at 12:44 pm | Permalink

    Well I liked it so ta to all

    • Shropshirelad
      Posted December 30, 2014 at 1:40 pm | Permalink

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

      • Miffypops
        Posted December 30, 2014 at 2:14 pm | Permalink

        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

        • Shropshirelad
          Posted December 30, 2014 at 3:24 pm | Permalink

          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

  12. Kitty
    Posted December 30, 2014 at 12:52 pm | Permalink

    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 :).

    • Hanni
      Posted December 30, 2014 at 1:00 pm | Permalink

      Hi Kitty.
      I forgot to put that I pencilled in ‘eyes’ for 6d too! :-)

      • Kitty
        Posted December 30, 2014 at 1:08 pm | Permalink

        Well, “curtains” wouldn’t fit… :)

      • Steve_The_Beard
        Posted December 30, 2014 at 2:11 pm | Permalink

        Ahem… you’re not alone in that…

        • Miffypops
          Posted December 30, 2014 at 2:19 pm | Permalink

          Our curtains fit. Saint Sharon made them

          • Hanni
            Posted December 30, 2014 at 5:47 pm | Permalink

            You worry me sometimes Miffypops. ;-) you really do!

  13. Hanni
    Posted December 30, 2014 at 12:55 pm | Permalink


    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.

    • Miffypops
      Posted December 30, 2014 at 1:11 pm | Permalink

      Your pencils will soon be redundant where crosswords are concerned.

      • Steve_The_Beard
        Posted December 30, 2014 at 2:01 pm | Permalink

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

      • Hilary
        Posted December 30, 2014 at 5:35 pm | Permalink

        Me and my pencil are welded together you will never separate us.

    • Kitty
      Posted December 30, 2014 at 5:04 pm | Permalink

      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.

      • Hanni
        Posted December 30, 2014 at 5:31 pm | Permalink

        Oh my goodness! You and miffypops are unbelievable! Even worse that it made me smile! http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_yes.gif

  14. Jane
    Posted December 30, 2014 at 1:01 pm | Permalink

    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

  15. Terry
    Posted December 30, 2014 at 1:31 pm | Permalink

    Speaking as a lurker, many thanks to Gazza and setter and have a great day everyone!

    • Rabbit Dave
      Posted December 30, 2014 at 7:01 pm | Permalink

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

    • Kath
      Posted December 30, 2014 at 10:47 pm | Permalink

      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

  16. Heno
    Posted December 30, 2014 at 1:31 pm | Permalink

    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.

  17. SheilaP
    Posted December 30, 2014 at 1:47 pm | Permalink

    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.

  18. Steve_The_Beard
    Posted December 30, 2014 at 1:58 pm | Permalink

    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 :-)

    • pommers
      Posted December 30, 2014 at 2:07 pm | Permalink

      We don’t have a lawn . . . but there are a couple of pink hefalumps on the garden wall http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_wacko.gif

      • Steve_The_Beard
        Posted December 30, 2014 at 2:13 pm | Permalink

        Take more water with it, my friend :-)

      • Kath
        Posted December 30, 2014 at 10:52 pm | Permalink

        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

    • Kitty
      Posted December 30, 2014 at 2:11 pm | Permalink

      That’s why I liked the clue at first and didn’t take exception to the zero. After reading the blog, I looked it up on here (which was a fun diversion!):


      • Miffypops
        Posted December 30, 2014 at 2:16 pm | Permalink

        I could not have stated it more clearly Kitty

      • Steve_The_Beard
        Posted December 30, 2014 at 2:23 pm | Permalink

        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

        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 :-)

        • Kitty
          Posted December 30, 2014 at 2:29 pm | Permalink

          What a lovely explanation.

          Maths is beautiful.

          • Rick
            Posted December 30, 2014 at 3:41 pm | Permalink

            Beer is beautiful; maths was the boring bit between English and Games

            • Kitty
              Posted December 30, 2014 at 4:58 pm | Permalink

              Beauty comes in many forms. No arguments from me about the beer :).

        • Rabbit Dave
          Posted December 30, 2014 at 3:35 pm | Permalink

          Love it. That’s beautifully elegant!http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_good.gif

        • Hanni
          Posted December 30, 2014 at 5:32 pm | Permalink

          Beautiful simplicity! Thank you for that.

    • Kitty
      Posted December 30, 2014 at 2:53 pm | Permalink

      Oh, now I’m really having fun. And wanting to accept zero into the triangular fold:


      • Rabbit Dave
        Posted December 30, 2014 at 3:37 pm | Permalink

        Is zero a number? Are Black and White colours? Do I exist?

        • Jane
          Posted December 30, 2014 at 5:20 pm | Permalink

          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?

    • Michael
      Posted December 30, 2014 at 6:03 pm | Permalink

      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

  19. pommers
    Posted December 30, 2014 at 2:04 pm | Permalink

    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

  20. Sweet William
    Posted December 30, 2014 at 2:27 pm | Permalink

    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

  21. Franco
    Posted December 30, 2014 at 2:32 pm | Permalink

    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?

  22. Jay legs
    Posted December 30, 2014 at 2:34 pm | Permalink

    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

    • gazza
      Posted December 30, 2014 at 3:19 pm | Permalink

      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.

  23. Jerome
    Posted December 30, 2014 at 3:34 pm | Permalink

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

  24. Brian
    Posted December 30, 2014 at 4:19 pm | Permalink

    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.

    • Brian
      Posted December 30, 2014 at 4:24 pm | Permalink

      Sorry forgot my manners, many thanks to Gazza for explaining 26a and 11a.

    • Jane
      Posted December 30, 2014 at 5:29 pm | Permalink

      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

      • Kath
        Posted December 30, 2014 at 10:54 pm | Permalink


  25. Hilary
    Posted December 30, 2014 at 4:29 pm | Permalink

    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

    • crypticsue
      Posted December 30, 2014 at 4:37 pm | Permalink

      Hilary – come out of the cupboard at once – crosswords are like buses, if you aren’t on the right one, there’ll be another along shortly.

      Why not have a go at today’s Guardian – http://www.theguardian.com/crosswords/cryptic/26455/print – I’ll bet one of Mr CS boxes of liqueur chocs that you won’t need any tissues at all after you’ve solved it.

      • Hilary
        Posted December 30, 2014 at 5:37 pm | Permalink

        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

        • andy
          Posted December 30, 2014 at 11:55 pm | Permalink

          Hilary start with the downs in todays guarniad, the acrosses will come. (imho)

    • SheilaP
      Posted December 30, 2014 at 4:39 pm | Permalink

      Don’t worry, you are not alone. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_unsure.gif

    • Miffypops
      Posted December 30, 2014 at 4:42 pm | Permalink

      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.

    • Kitty
      Posted December 30, 2014 at 4:55 pm | Permalink

      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…

    • Mr Kitty
      Posted December 30, 2014 at 5:19 pm | Permalink

      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.

    • Hanni
      Posted December 30, 2014 at 5:42 pm | Permalink

      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.

      • Miffypops
        Posted December 30, 2014 at 6:03 pm | Permalink

        Croswwording? Wwhats that?

        • Hanni
          Posted December 30, 2014 at 6:16 pm | Permalink

          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’.

  26. JonP
    Posted December 30, 2014 at 4:55 pm | Permalink

    **/*** 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.

  27. Michael
    Posted December 30, 2014 at 5:02 pm | Permalink

    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

    • Kitty
      Posted December 30, 2014 at 5:08 pm | Permalink

      Say the catchphrase, Michael. Say it!

      • Michael
        Posted December 30, 2014 at 6:06 pm | Permalink

        Backward and downward today I’m afraid!

        • Kitty
          Posted December 30, 2014 at 6:08 pm | Permalink


  28. Hilary
    Posted December 30, 2014 at 5:07 pm | Permalink

    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).

  29. Kath
    Posted December 30, 2014 at 5:15 pm | Permalink

    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.

    • Kath
      Posted December 30, 2014 at 5:17 pm | Permalink

      That’s funny – don’t we usually go on to the next page when the comments get to 25? http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_unsure.gif

      • Kitty
        Posted December 30, 2014 at 5:20 pm | Permalink

        Yes – I noticed that too. All comments including past ones are now on the one page.

        • Rabbit Dave
          Posted December 30, 2014 at 5:38 pm | Permalink

          Hooray! That’s a great improvement! Thanks and well done, BD!

      • stanXYZ
        Posted December 30, 2014 at 5:35 pm | Permalink

        Moët is a drink – n’est-ce pas? Zut! Alors!

        • Kath
          Posted December 30, 2014 at 11:00 pm | Permalink

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

          • gazza
            Posted December 30, 2014 at 11:11 pm | Permalink

            Moët is a short form of Moët et Chandon, a brand of champagne.

            • Kath
              Posted December 30, 2014 at 11:28 pm | Permalink

              That’s what I thought but ‘oddly’ doesn’t mean pissed, damn it!

      • Posted December 30, 2014 at 5:43 pm | Permalink

        The comment paging was added to improve performance, but one of the tests that i did said the opposite was true.

    • Mr Kitty
      Posted December 30, 2014 at 5:46 pm | Permalink

      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.

      • gazza
        Posted December 30, 2014 at 6:24 pm | Permalink

        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.

        • Kitty
          Posted December 30, 2014 at 6:29 pm | Permalink

          Aha – thanks Gazza :).

        • Mr Kitty
          Posted December 30, 2014 at 6:34 pm | Permalink

          That helps. Many thanks for the explanation, Gazza.

        • Franco
          Posted December 30, 2014 at 6:41 pm | Permalink

          Nice one, Gazza!

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


      • Kitty
        Posted December 30, 2014 at 6:28 pm | Permalink

        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.

    • gazza
      Posted December 30, 2014 at 9:14 pm | Permalink

      Kath, I think your take on 2d is just as good as my explanation (and probably better).

      • Kath
        Posted December 30, 2014 at 11:11 pm | Permalink

        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

  30. Mike Sanders
    Posted December 30, 2014 at 5:15 pm | Permalink

    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!

    • Posted December 30, 2014 at 5:44 pm | Permalink

      Welcome to the blog Mike

    • Miffypops
      Posted December 30, 2014 at 6:06 pm | Permalink

      Hello Mike

  31. 2Kiwis
    Posted December 30, 2014 at 5:48 pm | Permalink

    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.

  32. Hilary
    Posted December 30, 2014 at 6:01 pm | Permalink

    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

    • Kitty
      Posted December 30, 2014 at 6:31 pm | Permalink

      Holy mackerel!

      • Hanni
        Posted December 30, 2014 at 10:12 pm | Permalink

        The Pope’s Easter lunch? ;-)

    • Jane
      Posted December 30, 2014 at 6:40 pm | Permalink

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

    • pommers
      Posted December 30, 2014 at 7:16 pm | Permalink

      Easter eggs? We have strawberries in our local supermarket. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_good.gif

  33. Vancouverbc
    Posted December 30, 2014 at 6:14 pm | Permalink

    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.

  34. Toni
    Posted December 30, 2014 at 6:41 pm | Permalink

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

  35. Merusa
    Posted December 30, 2014 at 6:46 pm | Permalink

    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.

  36. Collywobbles
    Posted December 30, 2014 at 7:14 pm | Permalink

    Not much of a puzzle. Do we know the setter?

  37. Gwizz
    Posted December 30, 2014 at 7:20 pm | Permalink

    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.

    • Kath
      Posted December 30, 2014 at 11:15 pm | Permalink

      I think that’s a really nice comment! http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_good.gif and http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_rose.gif to you.

  38. Ian
    Posted December 30, 2014 at 8:15 pm | Permalink

    ***/*** 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.

  39. Salty Dog
    Posted December 30, 2014 at 9:44 pm | Permalink

    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.

  40. Tstrummer
    Posted December 30, 2014 at 10:20 pm | Permalink

    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.

    • Kath
      Posted December 30, 2014 at 11:22 pm | Permalink

      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

      • Miffypops
        Posted December 31, 2014 at 1:09 am | Permalink

        My O level results spelled FUDGE

  41. jean-luc cheval
    Posted December 31, 2014 at 8:55 am | Permalink

    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.

  42. fuzzle
    Posted December 31, 2014 at 2:32 pm | Permalink

    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

    • gazza
      Posted December 31, 2014 at 2:38 pm | Permalink

      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.

  43. RobinNewman
    Posted January 1, 2015 at 9:38 am | Permalink

    mixed bag I thought

    liked 26a, once explained by Gazza, and 22a

  44. John of Groats
    Posted January 3, 2015 at 1:25 pm | Permalink

    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.

    • gazza
      Posted January 3, 2015 at 1:37 pm | Permalink

      Welcome to the blog, John.