DT 27753 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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DT 27753

Daily Telegraph Cryptic No 27753

Hints and tips by Falcon

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

BD Rating – Difficulty *** ****Enjoyment ***

Greetings from Ottawa where spring appears to be just around the corner. Although we are experiencing wild fluctuations in temperature (from plus 10° C one day to minus 20° C the next), the snow banks are quite noticeably receding.

In Canada, we have already adjusted our clocks ahead for the summer meaning that we are only four hours behind the UK rather than the usual five. It also means that I start the puzzle an hour later than usual — and likely burn the midnight oil an hour later into the wee hours.

Apparently this should be RayT’s turn in the rotation. While the puzzle does seem to bear some of his traits, Her Majesty is missing and the innuendo is pretty tame. However, the Quick Crossword has only single word clues which should confirm that it is indeed his handiwork.

The definitions are underlined in the clues. The answers are 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.


1a   Zipper for man certainly keeps acting the part (11)
PERFORMANCE — a lurker is very well concealed (keeps) in the clue

10a   Trunks of trees or roots seem impenetrable initially (5)
TORSI — the initial letters of five words in the clue add up to a Latin plural

11a   Discover a spot framing church by river (9)
ASCERTAIN — A (from the clue) plus a soiled spot containing the C(hurch) of E(ngland) and a R(iver)

12a   Dispatched across Alps perhaps by jumbo? (9)
AIRMAILED — a cryptic definition of how a letter might be sent from London to Rome; I think the Alps are mentioned only to evoke an image of Hannibal

13a   Comparatively fine in volcanic eruption (5)
NICER — another lurker

14a   Got rid of Times editor (6)
ERASED — two or more units of geological time followed by the abbreviation for a senior journalist

16a   Grand pound shop’s opening for pants (8)
KNICKERS — string together the metric abbreviation for a grand, dated slang for a pound sterling, and the opening letter of S(hop)

18a   Poor devil exposed (8)
IMPAIRED — a charade of a mischievous child and a verb denoting made public, especially via the radio waves

20a   Caught by deceit, fool girl (6)
LASSIE — a fool caught in an untruth will reveal a girl from north of the border

23a   Time to go about around square (5)
AGREE — another measure of geological time goes around a preposition meaning about or concerning; should the clue not read “Time to go around about square“?

24a   One masks smell near to odd vagrant (9)
DEODORANT — an anagram (vagrant; as an adjective) of NEAR TO ODD

26a   Part of mug‘s tin and enamel cracked (9)
LINEAMENT — this mug is one’s face; an anagram (cracked) of TIN and ENAMEL

27a   Fertiliser starts to grow using ammonium nitrate originally (5)
GUANO — the initial letters (starts) of five words in the clue produce bat dung

28a   Repair broken toaster with iron elements (11)
RESTORATION — an anagram (broken) of TOASTER together with I, R, O, and N (the letters, or elements, comprising IRON)


2d   Panic losing tank top and slip (5)
ERROR — a synonym for panic with the T (initial, or top, letter of T(ank)) removed

3d   Cook a time in iron vessel (7)
FRIGATE — start by combining a word meaning to cook (the books, not a meal), the A from the clue, and T(ime); then place the whole lot inside the symbol for iron from the periodic table

4d   Actually recover swallowing last of medicine (6)
REALLY — a verb meaning to recover (either from your sickbed or on the sports field) wrapping around the last letter of medicinE

5d   Stress covering up identification in crash (8)
ACCIDENT — a word meaning stress or emphasis containing one’s personal papers

6d   Redhead about to wear fashionable rubbish (7)
CHRONIC — place the initial letter (head) of R(ed) and a preposition meaning about or concerning (not the one we saw previously) inside an adjective denoting appealingly elegant or fashionable; solvers outside the UK should be able to work out the answer from the wordplay — but you likely won’t believe the answer you arrive at

7d   South pathetically clutching table’s ends with finesse (13)
STRATEGICALLY — S(outh) plus a synonym for pathetically into which is inserted the initial and final letters (ends) of TablE

8d   Stock controllers? (8)
RANCHERS — cryptic definition of those who whose stock roams the open range

9d   Poetic sort in troubled new soul-searching (13)
INTROSPECTION — an anagram (troubled) of POETIC SORT IN with N(ew) appended

15d   Open marriage of father upset mother maybe (8)
APPARENT — a charade (marriage) of a reversal (upset) of a short term for father and what a mother (or father, for that matter) might be

17d   Support for napper? (8)
HEADREST — a barely cryptic definition of something on which to lay one’s napper; this clue was likely more cryptic for those of us unfamiliar with British slang who didn’t see beyond someone taking a snooze

19d   Run over steaming around empty thoroughfare (7)
ITERATE — steaming or incensed around the initial and final letters of ThoroughfarE

21d   Surrounded by stress, including short time (7)
AMONGST — a feeling of apprehension or anxiety around a short, indeterminate period of time

22d   Owl‘s beak? (6)
HOOTER — this works as a double definition and maybe even also as a cryptic definition

25d   Danger warning, losing right old battle (5)
ALAMO — remove R(ight) from a warning of danger and append O(ld) to uncover the siege where Davy Crockett made his last stand

The southwest quadrant gave me the most trouble, likely due to a combination of questionable wordplay at 23a and a word with which I was unfamiliar at 26a. There are lots of good clues in the puzzle but none that really stand head and shoulders above the rest. I will go with 20a as my favourite for the smooth surface reading.

The Quick Crossword pun: cream+annul+axe=criminal acts

112 comments on “DT 27753

  1. Another dreadful Thursday puzzle with awful synonyms. 5*/1* I don’t want to talk any more about this one.

    1. I actually thought this was a terrific challenge – great fun and a good work-out for the grey cells. I must confess that SW stumped me though – 23a and 19d. 16a was my favourite. Thanks to The Setter – a grand distraction for the commute. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_good.gif

  2. I was definitely not on wavelength today and became frustrated with myself as a result which does not help the solving process. Thankfully the hints were out early as I needed one for 7d which helped solve the LHS. Not particularly pleased with my effort today as I resorted to solving aids which I rarely do now, but I guess sometimes these things happen and at the end of the day, it’s just a crossword! Thanks to Falcon for the hints and to Ray T for confusing me sufficiently ****/***

  3. After confirming with a friend, I am going for ‘wrong envelope day’ as it took me longer to solve than a ‘normal’ Ray T backpager – thanks to Ray T and Falcon.

    1. Your comment certainly makes me feel better about my efforts. I did seriously consider rating the puzzle as four stars for difficulty. I will admit to using quite a bit of electronic help to solve it, the need for which I attributed to a combination of reduced time available because of the time zone discrepancy and my lack of familiarity with several British terms appearing in the puzzle.

      1. I never alter the difficulty/enjoyment ratings any more so Mondays are always 3/3. This puzzle has written my prologue to next Monday’s blog. Golly bongs it’s tough.

  4. I think that might qualify for a ‘Golly Bongs’ from our South Warwickshire correspondent. Did it slip off the Beam pile by mistake? A 4* tussle for me with 5 looming fast. Time for some manual labour to give my fried brain a chance to recover.

    PS loved 16a

    1. Confidence has been restored. I made another cup of coffee and rattled off the Times in record time. Not useless after all…

  5. Lots to like here I thought, I enjoyed 1a (zipper – needed some checking letters before i saw what was going on!), 10a (trunks – beautifully illustrated thank you), 14a (times editor – simple but smooth and funny), 20a (caught by deceit, fool girl – lovely new surface for an old friend) and 3d (cook a time in iron vessel) for the way wordplay is worked into the surface.

    12a (alps) confused me, i was wondering what i was missing.

    last ones in were 23a (about around) and15d (open marriage), having also ended up in SE at the end, and also new to 26a.

    many thanks rayT and Falcon

  6. Well, i did say that after two easy solves would come retribution and voila! The NE corner was the main culprit, did’nt help when I had ‘barcodes’ for 8d until I solved 16a,then a more obvious solution came to mind for it, 6d could only be one word ,but I still don’t know why? I know Falcon underlined rubbish, but I can’t find confirmation anywhere. Anyway a ****/**,yesterdays toughie was easier.

    1. The ODE defines the answer to 6d as an (informal) adjective meaning ‘of very poor quality’.

      1. Thanks Gazza may be it would have helped if rubbish had a ? after it due to its informal nature?

    2. Further to Gazza’s contribution, Chambers 21st Century Dictionary defines chronic as a British colloquialism meaning very bad; severe; grave • “The film was chronic”.

      I worked it out from the wordplay and initially thought it too absurd to even bother looking up in the dictionary.

      1. As a schoolboy in Blackburn in the 1970’s the use of chronic to mean bad was very much the norm. It was frequently combined with ‘summat’, as in “my leg hurts summat chronic”. I remember having difficulty understanding the difference between acute and chronic pain, as they seemed to be the same thing by my definition of chronic.

        1. Agree with you entirely Dave. My 1970’s schooldays were spent in Leicestershire where the use of chronic meant rubbish/useless!
          Yer chronic at left back m’duck, so yer goin’ up front from now on etc….

      2. I think this type of strained synonym is why I dislike RayT puzzles so much. I enjoy clever word plays, sharp misdirections, complex anagrams, especially if they make the crossword challenging – but I do not think making clues which have tenuous word meanings is a very pleasant way of setting a puzzle. It just strikes me as underhand.
        Solving a puzzle should be, in my opinion, about taking the elements of the clue. parsing them and then working out the solution – not poring through a dictionary in search of a vague word meaning – which is what I have to do with RayT.

        I am still grumpy 9 hours after doing this one!

  7. Blimey – that was tough today! The longest time I have spent on a back-pager for a while; 5* enjoyment though!

    Many thanks to RayT, and to Falcon for the review.

    1. Thank you for noticing that. It has now been been fixed. Put it down to a sloppy cut and paste job at 1:00 AM.

      I have also changed the difficulty rating to **** as there seems to be a clear consensus that my initial rating understated the degree of difficulty. Unfortunately, strikeout does not work very well on asterisks – looks more like an underscore.

  8. Relieved to read the comments so far as I too found this puzzle difficult! Definitely 4* for me. Needed the hints for 20a and 21d so many thanks Falcon for a brightly illustrated review. 16a made me smile and my favourite was 14a. Enjoyment, well I would give it a 3*. Many thanks to the setter. Will have a go at the Toughie now!

  9. 1 across was enough to convince me that this was a RayT puzzle. Best for me were 3 and 12 and they were the last in. Also liked 1 4 5 10 16 17 19 and 22. Are there any more left? All clues with great surface readings as usual. Thanks to Ray for a bit of warmth in a cold morning.

    1. You went into moderation because you used your real name rather than your alias. Both should work now.

  10. I’ve awarded myself a day off today – that, to me, means doing what I want to do and that means crosswords.
    Blimey – that was really tricky – thought it was just me so very glad to find that it wasn’t. If I’d been doing the hints today it would have made me cry!
    Definitely Wrong Envelope Day.
    I didn’t get 6d – it was the only word that looked as if it might fit but it didn’t occur to me to look it up – thought I knew what it meant.
    I wasn’t very happy about 23a either.
    On the plus side I did spot the two lurkers without a huge amount of trouble.
    I think 27a is seagull poo – not sure about bats.
    I liked 10 and 16a and 4 and 15d.
    With thanks to Ray T and to Falcon.

    1. It is interesting to see that some British colloquialisms seem to be as obscure to fellow Brits as they are to us colonials.

    2. Thanks so much to all of you – you’re all really appreciated. Things are a combination of http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_cry.gif and http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/smiley-phew.gif here at the moment.
      I miss the blog when I don’t look in – it’s so much a part of normal life.
      I will be absent for a couple of days next week and after that will, hopefully, be back to normal . . . watch this space! http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_unsure.gif

    3. Hi Kath, You have been in my thoughts over the last couple of days. Take caer. All the best to you and yours.

      1. I thought so too but wondered if it might be revealing too much about my age if I said so

  11. Feeling sad that I’m probably the only one to have wasted too much time thinking I was been ultra clever and trying to fit something to do with Hannibal and his elephants into 12a – http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_wacko.gif & wasn’t aware of the other meaning for 6d – am I too old or too young? But Mr P returns from Yorkshire today, so Poppy all brushed and red-collared with a twinkle. Thank you to setter and to Falcon for much-needed hints for this struggling apprentice solver.

    1. You aren’t alone in the Hannibal and elephants mistake – we wasted quite a bit of time on that too. However, today’s puzzle was certainly a joint performance because I don’t think either of us would have finished on our own.

  12. Finished this but needed Falcon to explain why 6d (last in) was correct.Some nice clues and the lurker at 1took a while to suss. As others, liked 2d and 12a. Agree **** for difficulty. Thanks to setter and to Falcon for the explanations.

  13. Thank goodness most people found this difficult. We could only finish by finding the definition from the hints and then thinking of a word to fit. Not very satisfactory at all. Thank you to Falcon and to the Thursday setter.

  14. Hmm, like nearly everybody is saying, that was a struggle. Spelling 24a incorrectly made 21d highly problematical, and 26a was a new word for me which didn’t help things. 15d I decided was an anagram of ‘pa’ and ‘mother’; hence ‘metaphor’ really held me up! Not that I could parse it anyway… D’oh!
    Never mind, I’ll deem 11a as my favourite and 4*/3* overall
    Thanks to Ray T and Falcon for unravelling duties.

  15. I thought 8 down was the things that get scanned on your shopping at the till in the supermarket, made sense to me.

    1. You’ve changed your alias from your previous Minogue-related one so your comment needed moderation. Both should now work.

  16. TRUCE! I have ceased battle and laid down my arms! This was, as Brian says, waaaaay beyond my pay scale. I can’t remember when last I gave up so early, even had to look at the answers. After a few days of almost R&W, it’s brought me down to earth.
    Off to get something accomplished now. Thanks to RayT, if, indeed, it was him, and to Falcon for the answers … you must be one clever fella to sort that lot!

  17. I have six whole answers in. Plus three letters that begin a word. Three letters that end a word, and four letters that end another word. I am not giving up.

        1. Well along those lines.

          Rule 3. Make up the rules as you go along.
          Rule 4. Ignore rule 3 and see rule 1.

          Will that do?http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_yes.gif

      1. Yup. 18ac. I also have the ending to 24ac and 9d. They may all be wrong for all I know.We have been looking after our grandson so not a lot of time for the puzzle. It is still as described above. I suppose it will become a joy to behold as it slowly offers up it’s secrets. Time to prep the pub for opening and I may be able to take a peep every now and then as the night passes.

  18. Struggle this morning… ***\****. This week has been a lot more of a tussle than a few weeks ago when we were wondering how easy they had become! Surrounded by boxes as we prepare to leave Alabama for good old Blighty next week.

  19. ****/***

    I’m sure this would be a higher difficulty score had it not been for getting the hidden word in 1a first. Kath’s law… Always look for hidden clues.

    23a was a complete Miffypops rule moment. And quite frankly by then I was prepared to just pencil random letters into the grid and hope.

    I did enjoy a few moments. 6d and 16a were rather fun.

    Many thanks to RayT and to Falcon for much needed blog.

    It’s shiny sun here and will get suitably cloudy before the eclipse tomorrow.

  20. This certainly took me longer than today’s ‘Toughie’, so I’m pretty sure it’s a WED from RayT. Thought 1a was quite well hidden and 11a was a well constructed clue with a good surface. Apart from those 2, no real stand out favourites.

    Thanks to RayT and Falcon.

  21. The world is in a state of chassis. An odd week this for the DT crossword. I have found this excruciating. So difficult for me it is off the 5 star range. The few clues I did solve took me a long time to get the connection. Not enjoyable at all. Thank you to Falcon for the review which brought light into a dark place.

  22. Well, stretch my ears and call me Dumbo.

    Having read the comments, maybe not. I managed all but three eventually before getting device-happy to fill in the remaining holes.

    After a few nice easy ones I really struggled today. Thought a lot of it was good, but most unusually for a RayT I was left with frowns. I don’t mind the Queen having a day off but other RayT trademarks are more missed.

    I’m too southern to have got 6d’s definition and too young or maybe just not literate enough to know the other meaning of napper. Mr K did not know these either, but he has an excuse because he’s not a Brit. Now I think of it I may have come across it in another crossword, so maybe I should have been able to give that. Next time!

    Thanks to RayT and Falcon.

  23. A tricky little rascal and no mistake, but a lot of fun. Only five of the crosses and just six of the downs on first pass so that’s a 4* for me. Pommette has now gone for a siesta.

    ****/**** from us.

    Thanks to the setter and Falcon

  24. Gave up on this one, so am so relieved to find that lots of others found it difficult too.
    Cannot remember the last time I gave up .
    Not a happy day.http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_wacko.gif

    Thanks to Falcon and very grudging thanks to the setter.

  25. As usual for. Thursday Ray T, absolutely dreadful. Managed about 1/3 then gave up.
    12a must be the worst clue in the history of crosswords, totally and utterly pointless.
    No fun at all. *****/-*
    Thx to Falcon

      1. He’s even setting a new precedent. Minus stars!
        From now on it will be from – four stars to + four stars.

  26. Almost as hard as the toughie.
    SW corner gave me the most trouble.
    15d, I thought it was an anagram of Pa and Mother and came up with Metaphor which in itself is how Jesus described his relationship (marriage) with God.
    How simple can you get?
    That really messed up the across clues.
    For 19d, I thought the T was at the beginning and the E at the end. Can’t even read the clue properly.
    Definitely a hard slog but still enjoyable.
    Thanks to Falcon for the much needed help and to the setter of course.

  27. Trickier than usual, but not really that hard was it? This was one that rewarded perseverance but two sittings did the job.
    I rather enjoyed the challenge.

    Thanks Ray T (assuming it is him) and Falcon for the pictorial review.

  28. I don’t know whether my giving alcohol a miss during the Lentern period has sharpened the brain, but I thought what a superb crossword puzzle today’s one was. For once it was one that commanded far more thought than most have done recently. Having a four year old for keep an eye on did mean stopping and starting a time or two, but it’s a long while since a Telegraph puzzle has occupied me for more a couple of hours. 10 across fooled me up until I realised that the answer was a plural. I loved 1 across, very cleverly hidden. 12 across? Absolutely brilliant. 6 down caused much head scratching until I realised no other word made any sense, as did 16 across. Thank you setter, more of a similar standard, please.

    1. How lovely to have a http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_good.gif for one of my favourite setters.
      I think that we’re not supposed to mention solving times in case it discourages other less able setters but I’m sure that BD will make an exception here, even allowing for a few gaps to keep an eye on a four year old. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_wink.gif

  29. Thank you Ray T. A real battle today and I am afraid an unequal struggle. Solved in several sittings and finally giving in to some hints whilst enjoying a very good afternoon tea in Ulverston ! Saw lots of eider duck off Hodbarrow today, but I fear that the only King eider I will see is the one in your photo yesterday 2 Kiwis ! Thank you Falcon for your review and hints, without which we would have to have waved the white flag.

  30. Thanks to Beam RayT for today’s back-page Toughie!

    Well Done, Falcon! Your hints and tips were much appreciated.

  31. We took as much time on this one as we usually expect to spend on a Toughie, and consider it well spent time. Perhaps a little less innuendo than we often find but the clue word count and the answers all being only one word confirmed who the setter is for us. It took us ages to spot the hidden answer in 1a. A good challenge and good fun.
    Thanks RayT and Falcon.

  32. Hated it…. A real struggle and now confidence at rock bottom! Didn’t even manage to finish it today. I did like 22d though which was one of the ones I did manage to get. Ah well as Scarlett O’Hara says ‘tomorrow is another day’!

  33. Awful, in either envelope.I strived womanfully ,got a little more than half and then I gave up and I regretted trying so hard.Thanks Falcon.

  34. I agree it felt just like a Toughie today. Unfortunately the difficulty level was such that I was unable to do much of the left half without copious electronic assistance to find words that fitted and pick the right one. A slightly lower difficulty would have enticed me on – but as it was, it had to be dogged determination. Hence 4-5*/2* for me. (A bit disappointing to find it on the back page: on the Toughie page it would have at least been expected to be this hard.) So enjoyment limited but thanks to Ray T anyway, and thanks to Falcon whose hints I managed without to my surprise.

    1. Thank you for yet another brain stretching exercise, one day I will solve it without any help. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_rose.gif

    2. I always find it extremely gratifying to see the compilers making a contribution to this excellent blog in reply to their critics / fans. Long may it continuehttp://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_good.gif

      1. Yes – me too. It does, somehow, make a huge difference. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_good.gif and a http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_yes.gif to Ray T for always taking the time to pop in.

        1. Good to see you about Kath – I hope normal service will be resumed in due coursehttp://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_smile.gif

    3. The negative comments in no way reflect on you, as you will see, there are numerous comments telling how much some enjoyed this. They are entitled to their fun, most of us have our days, so one day for those that enjoy your puzzles is no sacrifice. I just wish I could do them!

  35. Not easy and not finished yet but very enjoyably tricky. Thank you Falcon for some necessary help and Ray T for the fun. ****/+**** so far.

  36. Thursday and nemesis looms. But the trusty pencil, electronic supertoy and I battled bravely on until only SW corner remained although there were several answers that we did not understand. Thanks to Falcon for firstly helping us to finish then explaining the mysteries to us. Defintely outside our comfort zone but the sense of achievement having got as far as we did made it all worthwhile. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/smiley-phew.gif

  37. Oh dear – I hardly smiled at all. Just hard work and a look at Falcon’s hints to complete.
    Sorry, Mr. T – I always look forward to your Thursdays SO much. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_cry.gif
    Thanks Falcon, I wouldn’t have made it without you.

  38. I usually enjoy Ray T’s puzzles, but not this one. I agree with 4* difficulty (although l can’t help feeling that some of that difficulty was due to some rather dubious definitions), but 2* at most for enjoyment. I didn’t help by putting first “mattress” and then “bedstead” for 17d. I have a problem with 7d – in no sense does that word equate to “with finesse” – and 23a. Thanks for trying, Ray T, but this one didn’t ring my bell at all. Thanks to Falcon for the review as well.

    1. Re: “7d – in no sense does that word equate to ‘with finesse'”

      That was also my initial thought. However, I have found that if I look in enough dictionaries, I can justify virtually any meaning for a word.

      One of the meanings of finesse given by Collins English Dictionary is “(noun) a trick, artifice, or strategy”.

      The Chambers Dictionary defines finesse as (verb) to manipulate subtly to a desired conclusion — which might be seen to be acting strategically.

  39. I had to do this in two sessions interrupted by work. It was a slower and more challenging solve to be sure, with the last half a dozen taking quite some time. I was left with two that I needed hints for…16A that I just couldn’t see (no excuse for that) and 6D, which does not float my boat. I have no idea what the lurker is in 1A or what zipper has to do with anything. On the plus side, I loved 19D and 15D also when it finally clicked. Thanks, Ray T, and thanks to Falcon for the hints. Glad to see your snow banks are melting. We have snow forecast for tomorrow! Yikes.

    Not looked at the Toughie yet. I think I need some fortification before I do.

    1. It was a hidden word, with the last three letters of zipper forming the start of the word!

      1. Oh Lawdy! that was the last thing I was looking for. Totally passed me by. Thanks, Merusa.

  40. This took a while because the left bottom half held me up , I think *** difficulty but was surprised how quickly the right hand side fell into place . Some super clues but needed hints for one clue , definitely **** enjoyment for me which is not what I normally say for the usual Thursday offerings . Thanks Ray T and Falcon Favourite 6d

  41. Thanks to Ray T and Falcon. A very difficult puzzle. The worst I’ve ever done on a back pager for 40 years. Only solved 16 clues. Couldn’t get any more, even with the hints. Complete nightmare. Was 5*/2* for me.

  42. Granted, this was more difficult than Ray T’s usual Thursday offerings. But blaming the setter because you failed to complete it, as some here appear to be doing, is pretty poor. If we are not to be challenged to stretch our minds, how can we improve? I would rather try my utmost and come up short but learn something in the process, than be given a walk-in-the-park puzzle that only serves to stroke my ego because I got it right. Where is the satisfaction in that? Ray T deserves respect for his skill and artistry, not to mention the pleasure he has brought over the years.

    1. Hear, hear – shouldn’t lambast the setter because you cannot finish the crossword.

  43. Obviously a bit late to this but for the second week running I’m astonished at the level of vitriol and rudeness on display towards a crossword compiler. All these “awful”s and “dreadful”s, all those thumbs down. You couldn’t do it? Neither could I. I’ve posted before that Ray T and I are so far apart in our thinking that I generally have an easier time with his Toughies than his BPs. I struggled to about half of this today. But in the end there’s no point complaining if he gets the better of me. I just need to improve until he doesn’t. I used to greet his alternate Thursday resignedly. Now I want to get stuck in.

  44. i agree that some of the definitions were a bit dubious and i thought airmailed was a bit silly to be honest

  45. Finally had a crack at this one today (Sat). Very hard, but got there in the end but needed a couple of hints to explain my answers to me, so thanks to Falcon. And to RayT for keeping me in my place. 3*enjoyment, 5* difficulty.

  46. I know I’m 10 days behind and probably no-one but Falcon will see this, but I want to say that not everyone who finds a crossword difficult then says it’s rubbish. I’ve struggled for hours on this, the only one I gave up on was 1ac (I’m useless at hidden words) but I still appreciate what an excellent crossword it is. So belated thanks as ever to Ray T. and Falcon of course.

    1. Hi molly,

      As far as I’m concerned, it is never too late to comment.

      By the way, I will sometimes be working on several puzzles simultaneously — occasionally going back to the older ones to take another look at the clues that remain unsolved. Often the penny will finally drop — sometimes after revisiting the puzzle several times. I find that cracking those clues gives me the most satisfaction — far more than a “read-and-write” solution. Of course, I can’t do that when I’m sitting in the blogger’s chair — bloggers do not have the luxury of spending days on a puzzle. Using electronic puzzle solving tools may not be satisfying but it is expedient.

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