DT 27718

Daily Telegraph Cryptic No 27718

Hints and tips by Deep Threat

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

BD Rating – Difficulty **Enjoyment ***

Good morning from South Staffs on a bright frosty morning.

I found no particular difficulty from the Don this week, and finished comfortably inside ** time. As usual, a couple of words which are perhaps not in everyday use, but clued fairly so that they can be worked out.

In the hints below, the definitions are underlined. The answers are hidden under the ‘Click here!’ buttons, so don’t click if you don’t want to see them.

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

7a           View of professional put on record (7)
PROFILE – A common short form of professional followed by a formal record in an office.

8a           Order fellow to be brought into company doctor (7)
COMMAND – Start with an abbreviation for ‘company’ and the letters a doctor may have after his or her name, then put a fellow inside the result..

10a         Think after short break provides one with the answer (9)
RESPONDER – Remove the final T from a break or relaxation, then add a word for think deeply.

11a         Watery fluid the man’s put into alcoholic drink (5)
RHEUM – Put the pronoun meaning ‘the man’ inside a drink made from sugar cane.

12a         Austrian composer makes little girl keep very quiet (5)
SUPPE – Put the musical symbol for ‘very quiet’ inside a short version of a girl’s name. We know a cryptic one rather well on this blog!

13a         Eddy gets left in some tram that’s broken down (9)
MAELSTROM – Anagram (broken down) of SOME TRAM and L(eft).

15a         Regarding message on hospital sign? (7)
TOWARDS – Split (2,5) you might see this as a direction sign in a hospital.

17a         Not in favour of having article in vessel’s hold (7)
CONTAIN – Start with a Latin abbreviation for ‘not in favour of’ (the opposite of ‘pro’), and add a vessel that may be used for storing or preserving food, with an indefinite article put inside it.

18a         Story lasting a long time — false story I avoided (9)
CHRONICLE – Something, such as a pain, that lasts for a long time, followed by a false statement with the I removed.

20a         Butterfly that may make someone speaking pause (5)
COMMA – Double definition, the second being a punctuation mark.

21a         Frontier this writer’s established in literature (5)
LIMIT – Another way of saying ‘this writer is’ put inside a shortened form of ‘literature’.

23a         Females getting into row (9)
OARSWOMEN – Cryptic definition of some female athletes afloat.

24a         Shelter at back of yard, showing sign of tiredness? (7)
YAWNING Yard followed by the sort of shelter erected on a boat or caravan to protect the occupants from the sun (or, more often in this country, the rain).

25a         Go wrong and start to spoil jobs (7)
ERRANDS – Put together ‘go wrong’, AND form the clue, and the first letter (start) of Spoil.

Down

1d           Measure of an Arab’s capacity for work? (10)
HORSEPOWER – Cryptic definition. The Arab in question has four legs.

2d           Aerial I had set up on post (6)
DIPOLE – Reverse (set up) an abbreviation for ‘I had’, and add a post or rod.

3d           Old women left deranged, upset, with stingers around (8)
BELDAMES Left followed by the reversal (upset) of a word for ‘deranged’, with some stinging insects wrapped around the result.

4d           Deficient Conservative in panic (6)
SCARCE – An abbreviation for Conservative inside a panic or alarm.

5d           Lock up mischief-maker, revolutionary Irish boy (8)
IMPRISON – Put together a small demon, the reverse of an abbreviation for ‘Irish’, and a father’s boy.

6d           Servant‘s contribution to book? (4)
PAGE – Double definition: a junior servant; or part of a book.

7d           Soldier to brood with one cold fellow-soldier as a hanger-on (13)
PARASITICALLY – Put together an airborne soldier, what a broody hen does, the Roman numeral for one, Cold, and someone fighting on the same side.

9d           Loose women said to mingle with monied men (4-9)
DEMI-MONDAINES – Anagram (to mingle with) of SAID MONIED MEN. One for our friends from Outre-Manche, peut-être.

14d         Back with soldiers in dull initiative to prepare for war again? (10)
REARMAMENT – A word for back followed by a dull (non-shiny) finish with some soldiers inside it.

16d         Sort of cat trailing around (8)
RINGTAIL – Anagram (around) of TRAILING, giving a variety of cat found in the southern US and Central America, also known as a cacomixl (thank you, the BRB).

17d         Fruit that may be dear in France starts to ripen in early summer (8)
CHERRIES – The French for ‘dear’ followed by the initial letters of the last four words in the clue.

19d         Bird we hear make a puffing sound (6)
CHOUGH – A variety of bird which sounds like the noise a steam locomotive is supposed to make.

20d         Theatrical fellow who would shy away from difficulties? (6)
COWARD – A theatrical knight whose name suggests that he might not have been up for a fight.

22d         Cut makes one grumble audibly (4)
MOWN – A description of a lawn after it has been cut, which sounds like a grumble or complaint.


The Quick Crossword pun SUCK + COMING = SUCCUMBING.

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105 Comments

  1. Brian
    Posted February 6, 2015 at 11:10 am | Permalink

    Must be me then, found this almost impossible, managed 4 answers and I not sure about one of them. Normally a huge fan of Giovanni but not today I’m afraid, found it just horrible.

    • Roger
      Posted February 6, 2015 at 1:04 pm | Permalink

      Not at all, Brian. I also found this way above my paygrade.

    • Angel
      Posted February 6, 2015 at 3:15 pm | Permalink

      That was my initial reaction but I gritted my teeth and did eventually get there!

    • F1lbertfox
      Posted February 6, 2015 at 3:40 pm | Permalink

      Me too. My first read through yielded only two answers and I must have sat here for twenty minutes or so before I managed a third. Slowly, very slowly a few more words were added, until there were some checking letters which helped to solve a few more. Over the afternoon I managed to finally complete it without having to resort to peeping at any answers, though I have to own up to checking the blog for a couple of explanations afterwards. Thanks to the Don for making me think a lot harder than I usually need to on a Friday – a most enjoyable workout and thanks also to DT for providing some clarity.

    • Wahoo
      Posted February 6, 2015 at 11:28 pm | Permalink

      Totally agree. Left this one until tonight so that I can try Saturday’s prize puzzle immediatley after i.e. before you all (in the UK)get up (early Friday night here now) – after watching the England v Wales game – great result, Wahoo! (which, by the way, might make the answer to the clue “Excited expression for a game fish”!?). All fine until caught out by some (for me) very obscure words and, with great respect, some strained constructions (7d?). So not that much fun really. Let’s see what the next one offers in about 30 minutes or so. Thanks to the Don and to DT for explaining those I didn’t know.

  2. Rabbit Dave
    Posted February 6, 2015 at 11:16 am | Permalink

    2*/2*. Not difficult but dull and sprinkled with obscurities, although to be fair they were all solvable from the wordplay.

    Thanks to setter and to DT.

  3. andy
    Posted February 6, 2015 at 11:20 am | Permalink

    Obscurities for obscurities sake. Solvable and in parts enjoyable. Thanks to Deep Threat

  4. bifield
    Posted February 6, 2015 at 11:22 am | Permalink

    I did not find this dull, I quite enjoyed it. A bit tricky in places but all solvable from the wordplay. Favourite 9d. Thanks to The Don and to deep Threat for the review.

  5. dutch
    Posted February 6, 2015 at 11:34 am | Permalink

    Failed to complete before the school run, leaving me with low self esteem. I really struggled on the right hand side this morning finding it almost impossible, had to leave it for a few hours then completed the left hand side fairly rapidly. I hadn’t heard of the ladies in 9d but a fair anagram. Once I *finally* got it, I realised with mixed feelings what a beautiful clue this is, so it is my reluctant favourite. New bird, composer, and I hadn’t heard of the ladies in 3d either. I found Don’s toughie yesterday less of a challenge! But all’s well that ends well.

    I did wonder if a comma would pause my speaking vs reading, but never mind.

    Many thanks Giovanni and many thanks Deep Threat – and happy to learn last weekend your pseudonym is an anagram.

  6. Jezza
    Posted February 6, 2015 at 11:36 am | Permalink

    I managed all of this without problem, except for the bird at 19d.
    Thanks to Giovanni, and to DT.

    • crypticsue
      Posted February 6, 2015 at 1:12 pm | Permalink

      The birds are on the Canterbury Coat of Arms so no problem with that one.

      • F1lbertfox
        Posted February 6, 2015 at 3:48 pm | Permalink

        It also has a big connection with Cornwall.

        • Jane
          Posted February 6, 2015 at 7:22 pm | Permalink

          We have a good breeding population of 19d’s at Southstack – at least that was one I could get without any trouble!

  7. George
    Posted February 6, 2015 at 11:45 am | Permalink

    Quite a challenge for me today – but I did learn some new words and an unknown composer. Always like to learn some new things. It took me a while to get the first few answers in, but then the checking letters helped quite a bit.

    One thing about a tricky crossword is the extreme sense of achievement as the last word goes in!

    I thought it was a very fair puzzle if challenging. I would rate it as 3*/4* for me.

  8. George
    Posted February 6, 2015 at 11:45 am | Permalink

    Usually I can manage without help, but like Brian I found today impossible

    • Rabbit Dave
      Posted February 6, 2015 at 11:52 am | Permalink

      Spooky. Two people with the same blog name both post at exactly the same time.http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_wacko.gif

      • George
        Posted February 6, 2015 at 1:55 pm | Permalink

        Arg! a doppelganger

        • Rabbit Dave
          Posted February 6, 2015 at 2:26 pm | Permalink

          Why not adopt a royal approach? George I, George II …

          That would work as long as the next George is mad.

          • Franco
            Posted February 6, 2015 at 2:43 pm | Permalink

            IVe got that one … I think?

    • Deep Threat
      Posted February 6, 2015 at 12:09 pm | Permalink

      It may be helpful if you amend your blog name for future posts, to avoid confusion with the other George, who has posted more often.

      • Rick
        Posted February 6, 2015 at 1:07 pm | Permalink

        It’s hard enough remembering all the Daves!

  9. Michael
    Posted February 6, 2015 at 11:56 am | Permalink

    I found this very, very difficult and it made me feel totally inadequate – anyone who managed to do it has my admiration!

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

    NB – on the Home screen this particular blog is labelled ‘27218’ instead of ‘27718’ – a job for the Guvnor methinks!

    • Deep Threat
      Posted February 6, 2015 at 12:01 pm | Permalink

      Thanks, now sorted.

  10. Rick
    Posted February 6, 2015 at 12:00 pm | Permalink

    For the second day running we have a five-step construction clue down the left side. I needed all the checkers for this and the 9d counterpart which slowed me down and took me into 3* time. Another day 7d might have fallen earlier which would have helped a lot, but you can’t win ’em all. The obscure stuff was fairly clued I thought.
    3/3*

  11. Sweet William
    Posted February 6, 2015 at 12:09 pm | Permalink

    Thank you DG. A real struggle today – but got there in the end. A sense of achievement, yes, a lot of fun, no. I always find Friday’s puzzle a big challenge and I think I would rather go for something like last Saturday’s puzzle which was amusing and enjoyable to solve. Sorry Sir ! Thanks DT for your review and hints and most impressive 2 star difficulty rating. Men versus boyshttp://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_yes.gif

  12. Beaver
    Posted February 6, 2015 at 12:23 pm | Permalink

    Decided on a ***/*** before I read DT’S blog, found it a mixture of the difficult and the write in. Thought 9D should have had a language indicator, like 17D did, when checking if I had unravelled the anagram in 9D successfully, my reference gave the answer as one word, not two ? I note DT said nothing-which is correct. Agree that the clueing was fair throughout and logical, thought also that a good general knowledge was a great help with a few ‘obscurities’.

    • Deep Threat
      Posted February 6, 2015 at 12:29 pm | Permalink

      As usual, the answer is to be found in Chambers, which is the standard reference for Telegraph crosswords, and gives the solution to 9d as hyphenated -which is what the clue shows.

      • Beaver
        Posted February 6, 2015 at 1:02 pm | Permalink

        Thanks, did’nt notice the hyphen.

  13. Kitty
    Posted February 6, 2015 at 12:30 pm | Permalink

    I made a good start but towards the end I needed to look up a few things, although was happy to remember the composer from a recent crossword. Mr K used to get 16ds visiting, so that one made me smile. They are very cute.

    Anyway, if this sorts the men from the boys I must be a boy. Off now to do what boys do. Have a good weekend everyone http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_bye.gif.

    Thanks to Giovanni and DT.

  14. Dave Hartley
    Posted February 6, 2015 at 12:58 pm | Permalink

    I am really looking forward to dropping demi-mondaine into casual conversation!

    • Beaver
      Posted February 6, 2015 at 1:04 pm | Permalink

      If i had enough money, i’d go for a full one!

    • Franco
      Posted February 6, 2015 at 1:10 pm | Permalink

      The beldames quite often drop it into their casual conversation … why not you?

      • Steve_the_Beard
        Posted February 6, 2015 at 2:08 pm | Permalink

        Are they the ones without mercy? :-)

        • Deep Threat
          Posted February 6, 2015 at 3:32 pm | Permalink

          Only if they have thee in thrall http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_yes.gif

          • Franco
            Posted February 6, 2015 at 5:39 pm | Permalink

            Only if they have thee in thrall

            Sometimes the comments on this blog are more cryptic than the Cryptic … How many letters?

            • Deep Threat
              Posted February 6, 2015 at 6:01 pm | Permalink

              Steve and I were referring to a poem by John Keats.

              • Franco
                Posted February 6, 2015 at 6:29 pm | Permalink

                Thanks Deep Threat,

                Without your help I might have been Alone and palely loitering?

        • Tstrummer
          Posted February 7, 2015 at 12:15 am | Permalink

          I thought they were the beautiful women who never say thank-you

    • Angel
      Posted February 6, 2015 at 3:40 pm | Permalink

      You and Franco are obviously not above giving the game away. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/icon_rolleyes.gif

      • Franco
        Posted February 6, 2015 at 4:00 pm | Permalink

        Angel, I’m not quite certain what you mean. But … I only read the comments when I have finally failed to finish the flaming thing!

  15. Bluebird
    Posted February 6, 2015 at 1:03 pm | Permalink

    I had to look up a few names for things, which goes slightly against the grain in a cryptic (in my book).

    Far too much nature study….you’d never think I had nearly half of a Zoology A levelhttp://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_scratch.gif

    My favourite was 13a ( with 9d a nose behind).
    Thx to DT

  16. Adelma
    Posted February 6, 2015 at 1:23 pm | Permalink

    I’m not on the same wavelength as this setter! Not helped by some of the answers being unknown words to me. Thanks for the help.

  17. Andrew
    Posted February 6, 2015 at 1:45 pm | Permalink

    Really struggled with this never heard of 3d or 9d nor the Austrian Composer. Couldn’t have done it without the hints and even then couldn’t sort out 9d

  18. SheilaP
    Posted February 6, 2015 at 1:58 pm | Permalink

    For once we found the Friday crossword not too bad and are amazed that others have found it so difficult. It’s usually the other way round. It makes it a little easier when one has come across some of these more obsolete expressions such as the word in 9 down. I have never come across the word in 2 down, but the better half had, so that was a help. Thank you to the Friday setter and to DT.

  19. Shropshirelad
    Posted February 6, 2015 at 2:52 pm | Permalink

    Found this one harder than Giovanni’s toughie offering this week. For the second week running I haven’t gotten on the same wavelength with his Friday puzzle, so it was all a bit of a struggle and therefore lacking enjoyment for me (sorry Giovanni).

    Thought 14d was a bit clunky, likewise 7d. 24a was probably my favourite. Thanks to Giovanni for the puzzle and DT for his usual excellent review (didn’t know that your avatar was an anagram – being an ex submariner I thought you were from the same brotherhood).

    Now to get prepared for a weekend of 6 nations rugby – albeit I hate these evening kick-offs. Not a thought for the ticket paying fanshttp://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_negative.gif

    Sorry, rant over.

    • Miffypops
      Posted February 6, 2015 at 2:59 pm | Permalink

      Money doesn’t talk, it swears.

      • Shropshirelad
        Posted February 6, 2015 at 3:06 pm | Permalink

        You’re spot on there MPhttp://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_good.gif

        • Miffypops
          Posted February 6, 2015 at 3:54 pm | Permalink

          I went to The Heineken Cup final there last year. Never again.

          • Shropshirelad
            Posted February 6, 2015 at 4:14 pm | Permalink

            Mrs SL and I are off to both the Aviva and Europeans champions cup finals at Twickenham this year – both kick off at a reasonable time. However, I do wonder if current weather conditions across Europe have been taken into consideration for the France v Scotland match tomorrow – remember the 2012 debacle?

  20. jean-luc cheval
    Posted February 6, 2015 at 2:57 pm | Permalink

    Found the right side easier than the left.
    My grid remained half empty for quite a while and I was going back and forth between the toughie and the back page without using any ink.
    But the Don always gives us logical clues and with a bit of perseverance, the answers came.
    Had to check the spelling of 19d though.
    I can easily imagine the horsepower of demi-mondaine oarswomen.
    It was nice to meet you DT.
    Thanks for the review and to Giovanni.

  21. Miffypops
    Posted February 6, 2015 at 3:00 pm | Permalink

    I used an Impact Roller Ball Pen to solve the anagram at 9d

    • bifield
      Posted February 6, 2015 at 3:59 pm | Permalink

      I’m really glad you didn’t use a pencil, apparently it’s forbidden on this blog. At least on a Monday. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_mail.gif

    • Hilary
      Posted February 6, 2015 at 5:33 pm | Permalink

      I used my trusty pencil but I have to admit that having got the two checking letters in the first half I knew what the answer was – tee hee.

  22. kermitthepilot
    Posted February 6, 2015 at 3:08 pm | Permalink

    ***/* for me. I gain satisfaction from finishing a puzzle, so the inclusion of several obscure words knocks it on the head for enjoyment, hence the *. I’m usually on the move when I tackle the DT, perhaps i need Chambers app for iPad.

    At least I’ve learnt 2 new words/phrases. Should a cryptic crossword entertain, or educate? If both, in what proportion?

    • Rick
      Posted February 6, 2015 at 3:41 pm | Permalink

      I can recommend the Chambers app, it’s very good.

  23. silvanus
    Posted February 6, 2015 at 3:09 pm | Permalink

    Certainly a challenge today but also more enjoyable than recent Friday puzzles.

    2d, 3d and 9d were new to me, but as Deep Threat rightly says, the more obscure answers could be definitely be obtained from the clueing.

    19d is a personal favourite, but then I’m biased as I used it in my own debut puzzle last month :-)

    Thanks to Giovanni and DT (good to meet you last Saturday).

  24. Vancouverbc
    Posted February 6, 2015 at 3:14 pm | Permalink

    ****/*** for me. This was difficult to get going but helped by 7d revealing itself when I despaired of getting a single answer. Then it started to flow. There were a couple of bung ins before I could parse the answer. I agree with those who commented about some obscure answers (9d for example) but fair clues nevertheless. Thanks to the setter and DT for the review.

  25. Mike Manley
    Posted February 6, 2015 at 3:35 pm | Permalink

    I am not a genius!! I found most of these clues extremely difficult and it was only after I had cheated did I understand the answer to one or two of the clues.

    Mike Manley

    • Posted February 6, 2015 at 3:44 pm | Permalink

      Welcome to the blog Mike

    • Hilary
      Posted February 6, 2015 at 5:30 pm | Permalink

      Your comment perfectly reflects what the blog is all about, you will find that having what you have put in explained helps you to see more clearly and increases your confidence. Also the camaraderie here is tremendous it is like having a new circle of friends. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_bye.gif

    • Miffypops
      Posted February 6, 2015 at 6:23 pm | Permalink

      It’s not cheating.

  26. Angel
    Posted February 6, 2015 at 3:36 pm | Permalink

    Phew that certainly was a struggle and I can’t believe I made it without DT’s assistance. Some distinctly esoteric clues which certainly challenged the old grey matter and bi- lingual vocabulary. Think 12a might have been given his full surname. Fav was 1d. Thanks Giovanni for a real work-out and DT for being there. ****/**. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/smiley-phew.gif

  27. fran
    Posted February 6, 2015 at 3:38 pm | Permalink

    The toughest of the week by a long chalk , not helped by putting in the wrong composer at 12a as my first in . The left hand descended into chaos : but along came a 9d with what I took to be an anagram but alas I couldne’ solve it , even more problems, however with a couple of cribs/hints it eventually came together . 12a whoever he is became back marker rather than front runner.
    ****/*** for me. I think I might invest in a Chambers dictionary .Thanks to DT for the hints. I will join Kitty and the boys .(For me watching the Rugby)

  28. Merusa
    Posted February 6, 2015 at 4:17 pm | Permalink

    For the second week in a row I’ve had to retire from a Giovanni puzzle. I just cannot get onto his wavelength. It’s totally my fault; I couldn’t get even 7a and how basic is that? Must be a mental block. Thanks anyway, and many thanks to DT for giving me my missing answers.

    Godson is sailing today from Fort Lauderdale in the Pineapple Cup Race to Montego Bay, hope he doesn’t freeze to death. Wish him good luck!

    • Hilary
      Posted February 6, 2015 at 5:36 pm | Permalink

      Good luck from me. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_good.gif

    • Poppy
      Posted February 6, 2015 at 7:24 pm | Permalink

      And very best wishes from Poppy and me, too. I was so pleased to find I wasn’t the only one to struggle today, and, following your honesty, also confess I couldn’t even get 7a….l Bah! Ah well, hope things go better next time. Thank you to Setter, as well as DT. I love being able to put a few more faces to names since last Saturday.

      • Merusa
        Posted February 6, 2015 at 7:53 pm | Permalink

        Thanks to both of you. There is a norther blowing, so out on the briny is going to be a bit chilly for him as a tropical gent, though he did grow up in Scotland.. I think it takes about three days to get there.

  29. Unicorn
    Posted February 6, 2015 at 4:37 pm | Permalink

    I used to do (attempt) the Telegraph crosswords over 40 years ago when still a student. Now I am retired and curtesy of a certain supermarket providing a free paper I have started again. I have been getting better and solving about three quarters without resorting to help from this blog. It must be rather like golf, just when you think you are getting the hang of it, it knocks you back. Could not even get started today. Thanks to DT for revealing the thinking required today. Four words I had never heard of and several others I have never used made it more like a Toughie but even those I usually manage a few words.

    • Posted February 6, 2015 at 4:59 pm | Permalink

      Welcome to the blog Unicorn

      Giovanni does seem to be losing the plot rather a lot recently. He’ll probably come on here and blame us.

      • Wahoo
        Posted February 6, 2015 at 11:44 pm | Permalink

        Interesting take from an expert.

        The last two weeks’ offerings seem to me (IMHO) to have large elements that do not “feel” like the Don’s “normal” approach.

    • Michael
      Posted February 6, 2015 at 6:38 pm | Permalink

      Maybe it’s the old ‘puzzles in the wrong envelopes’ problem – I certainly hope so, this one was way above my pay scale!

  30. overtaxed
    Posted February 6, 2015 at 4:45 pm | Permalink

    Found this quite a stiff challenge and had to give up on 3d which I was not familiar with. ( Ok so its in the brb). Apart from this, there were some good clues and fair cluing on the obscure words..

  31. Ginny
    Posted February 6, 2015 at 5:01 pm | Permalink

    After a merry start with 18a and 17d, I suddenly realized that that was going to be it without significant help. I limped through on Wenesday and Thursday but may end up being carried on a stretcher this time. Hello Merusa, I hope your Godson has a happy and successful day. Thank you, Giovanni, it will get better as it goes on, and DT for your lifeline today. I think it is time to get the BRB.

  32. Hilary
    Posted February 6, 2015 at 5:22 pm | Permalink

    Phew, I’m glad it was not just me. I struggled through with loads of electronic help and (sorry MPs) nearly a whole pencil lead doodling round the crossword margin but I did finish before I dialled into DT to explain my machinations. Despite the anguish I had a lovely time so thanks to the Don as well, I hate it when it is too easy and the sense of achievement is great on a day like this. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/smiley-phew.gif

  33. Salty Dog
    Posted February 6, 2015 at 5:47 pm | Permalink

    I was moving confidently towards a 2* completion, but missed that through never having heard of a 9d ( although l suppose l would have come across a few during my louche days as a young naval officer). 3*/3*, then, on balance. As a longtime Cornwall resident, 19d has to be my favourite. VMTs to Giovanni, and to DT for an educative review.

  34. Paso Doble
    Posted February 6, 2015 at 5:49 pm | Permalink

    Only just finished but certainly thought it was more difficult than Deep Threat’s evaluation of 2**…..If i hadn’t spent 22 years ‘outre manche’ I don’ t think I would have finished. I’m writing in first person because the other half of the ‘Royal we’ was otherwise engaged. I had to Google a few things to make sure the answers were right.

  35. JonP
    Posted February 6, 2015 at 6:05 pm | Permalink

    I found this taking me into 3* time and I initially thought it was going to be too tricky but I seemed to up a gear or two after I had about half done and got it completed. I found it a bit trickier (certainly in getting started) than yesterday’s toughie that was also set by Giovanni. Needed to use electronic help for the anagram in 9d – never heard of that before. No way would I’d have been able to finish this several months ago – so thanks to the blog for the ongoing help…

    Thanks to DT and Giovanni ***/***

  36. Mycall
    Posted February 6, 2015 at 6:08 pm | Permalink

    Two firsts this week.
    On Monday I completed my first ever crossword without hints.
    Today was the first time ever that I could not solve any clues at all.
    Ah well, Monday will soon be here again.

    • Miffypops
      Posted February 6, 2015 at 6:22 pm | Permalink

      Oh well one step forward and two steps back. Mondays are always the gentlest puzzles. As Michael would say “Onward and upward”

      • Hilary
        Posted February 6, 2015 at 6:26 pm | Permalink

        And you are there to hold our paws.

    • Merusa
      Posted February 6, 2015 at 6:39 pm | Permalink

      Don’t despair. I’ve been solving these ruddy things for nigh on sixty years and I struggled mightily with this one. I failed to get 7a, which is a perfectly basic clue that should have been solved by the greenest beginner.

    • JonP
      Posted February 6, 2015 at 6:42 pm | Permalink

      I actually find Monday’s puzzles can be quite tricky (although I would certainly be in a minority there). I usually find Tuesday and Wednesday to be the easiest. Kudos to you Mycall; the first unaided completion is a great feeling – so I echo the onwards and upwards sentiment wholeheartedly.

      Definitely do not be disheartened by the off days – they’ll get fewer and fewer as you improve as a solver.

  37. 2Kiwis
    Posted February 6, 2015 at 6:33 pm | Permalink

    9d was our last one to yield. Only one of our team (and we had a visiting son as part of our team today) was familiar with the term. We found it towards the tricky end of the spectrum and enjoyable to solve.
    Thanks Giovanni and DT.

  38. toadson
    Posted February 6, 2015 at 7:11 pm | Permalink

    Hardest of the week for me .. In the (quite reasonable) time I had this morning I only did 3/4 , and that with a few electronic aids. Still not bad compared to ‘the I’ though, where that is a regular occurrence. Anyway, it does no harm to be stretched now and then. Thanks to all.

  39. Framboise
    Posted February 6, 2015 at 7:16 pm | Permalink

    Enjoyed Giovanni’s offering and would agree with DT’s 2*/3*. I know that we must not say how long we took to complete a puzzle but have no idea what 1*, 2*, 3* times are. Probably somewhere in FAQs! BD, can you please tell me? Had no idea that 9d was used in English! Was chaffed to be able to complete without any hints but of course as usual read through them. Many thanks to DT. My favourites? 9d (of course) and 23a which made me chuckle.

    • Miffypops
      Posted February 6, 2015 at 7:39 pm | Permalink

      I have no idea about the stars either so I mostly ignore them. Sorry to have missed you last week Framboise.

      • Framboise
        Posted February 6, 2015 at 9:02 pm | Permalink

        Sorry I have missed you too! I wished I had worn a name tag – some of you did and It helped putting a name to a face. Quite a lot people there but difficult to touch base with everyone. Better luck next time!

    • Posted February 6, 2015 at 7:42 pm | Permalink

      The stars mean whatever you want them to be – 3* time will be your mean completion time, the others are easier or harder, you set your own targets.

    • Michael
      Posted February 6, 2015 at 8:04 pm | Permalink

      Yes, I’ve got no idea about the stars either – I find it virtually impossible to compare one puzzle with another, so ignore them as well!

      Rugby is about to start – come on England!!

      • Angel
        Posted February 7, 2015 at 12:57 am | Permalink

        Hurray, they certainly did “come on”. What a superb performance. Let’s hope “onward and upward” for them. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_rose.gif

  40. Jane
    Posted February 6, 2015 at 7:52 pm | Permalink

    Such a struggle that, by the time I finally finished, I’d pretty much forgotten about the clues I enjoyed. 4*/2* for me. Needed electronic help for 2d & 12a and didn’t care for the definitions at 15a & 4d (probably not the first ones given in the BRB?).

    On the upside – I did like 17&24a + 1&9d.

    Had this one been in the Toughie slot, I would probably have expected the ‘slog’ but I’m with those who thought that the Don’s actual Toughie was less of a problem. Thank goodness I’m not too bad on birds and butterflies! http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/smiley-phew.gif

    Apologies to Giovanni for not managing his wavelength today and thanks to Deep Threat for the great review (even though your rating on this one made me feel rather stupid).

    ps The only anagram I can make out of your ‘handle’ makes you sound every bit as scary! http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_sad.gif

    • Merusa
      Posted February 6, 2015 at 7:56 pm | Permalink

      Try Peter D’Eath, pronounced “deeth”. I’m only guessing as I knew a girl once called Tricia D’Eath.

      • Jane
        Posted February 6, 2015 at 9:29 pm | Permalink

        That still looks like ‘death’ to me! http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_sad.gif

      • Tstrummer
        Posted February 7, 2015 at 12:25 am | Permalink

        Reading used to have a goalkeeper called Steve Death – he was always trying to warm up a bit

    • Framboise
      Posted February 6, 2015 at 9:06 pm | Permalink

      Don’t worry about needing electronic helpor dictionary help! I suspect we all do it. It does not matter what helps you get the right answer at least this is my motto. I suppose that purists – do you use this word in English? – will object to this but so what. Am I about to be chastened for thinking aloud what a lot of solvers think and do. So be it.

  41. Mary Mary
    Posted February 6, 2015 at 8:59 pm | Permalink

    “By hook or by crook”……Remember trying to be last in an Autograph Book anyone ?
    Well, I’ve finished – just and with lots of the hints too…….Definitely ****/*** for me today. However, I DID know the French ladies de la nuit ( I mean I knew the word of course..) so was chuffed, ha ha. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/smiley-yawn.gif

  42. Chris
    Posted February 6, 2015 at 10:10 pm | Permalink

    I want to sign up to the group that found it very difficult. (About 4* in fact, with a bit of electronic help.) Still quite enjoyable.
    I have occasionally wondered what a demi-mondaine was and never previously looked it up – what an innocent life I must have led, to be sure. (And if I had ever heard of the beldames I’d have saved quite a long time trying unsuccessfully to understand and parse the mesdames.) You live and learn with Giovanni, so thank you to him and to DT.

  43. Jay legs
    Posted February 6, 2015 at 10:54 pm | Permalink

    ***/** the most difficult of the week :( despite my many years of cross-wording 9d and 12a were new to me! Although despite a life time of bird watching I also failed with 19d. :)

  44. Hanni
    Posted February 6, 2015 at 11:08 pm | Permalink

    ****/***

    This was solved at stupid o’clock this morning having been rudely awakened by someone claiming to be from Microsoft. I may have sworn at them. My pre-walk was not going well. Eschewing all news and heading to the almost backpage I was pleasantly optimistic. Island in the kitchen was laden with porridge, eggs and tea and I was smiling…right up until the point I read the thing.

    Ye God’s.

    7a went in nicely so I then looked for some helpful anagrams. They weren’t helpful. For the second day running I was flummoxed by a French term. I guessed at a bird, knew Jane would get it, and spent most of it doing 24a.

    But I thought it was fair. A nightmare but fair.

    Many thanks to the Don and to DT for a rather lovely blog. :-)

    20 miles through bits of snow were dispatched. Hot chocolate with Cognac was drunk along the route…by all of us.
    Home and then beef casserole, Pinot and egg chasing. I didn’t make enough casserole for everyone. Bad Hanni.

    I did look at the Toughie but it scared me. I’ll do it over the weekend. :-)

    • Jane
      Posted February 6, 2015 at 11:18 pm | Permalink

      I’m not even going to peek at the Toughie until tomorrow – the back-pager was enough for tonight! http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/smiley-yawn.gif

      • Hanni
        Posted February 6, 2015 at 11:34 pm | Permalink

        Very wise! :-) Hope your weekend is good.

  45. Tstrummer
    Posted February 7, 2015 at 12:31 am | Permalink

    Strangely, I found this easier than yesterday’s, when I did the crossword after my brain had been in the Moulinex at work all day/night. Lots of good clues, only a couple of rarities that were straightforward to work out. Bizarrely, my last one in was 7a, which as others have noted, was one of the easiest clues of the lot. Sometimes, with the Don, it’s hard to see the wood for the trees. 2* time seems about right, 3*.5* for enjoyment (the extra half is for 9d, which was a cracker). Thanks to DT for the well-illustrated review and to the Don for the challenge.

  46. Heno
    Posted February 7, 2015 at 2:02 pm | Permalink

    Thanks to Giovanni and to Deep Threat for the review and hints. A very enjoyable puzzle, but very difficult. Quite a few obscure words, had never heard of 12a, 3&9d. Needed 8 hints to finish. Was 4*/2* for me.

  47. Ginny
    Posted February 7, 2015 at 9:29 pm | Permalink

    Many thanks to Giovanni for a really absorbing and enjoyable time which greatly increased my solving confidence as the clues were complex but very doable with minimal help. Favourite was 7d. Last was 2d, which was new. Thank you DT for the review, especially for the clip at 12a.

  48. Nina Keay
    Posted February 10, 2015 at 1:26 pm | Permalink

    Unbelievably tough. And never did get 9d. Had to check with your blog.