Comment – Jan-Dec 2015 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog

148 responses to “Comment – Jan-Dec 2015

  1. Help! My subscription has not been renewed due to reasons I’m trying to understand therefore would some kind soul e-mail me a pdf of today’s puzzle please? Many thanks in anticipation.

  2. Hi BD. Just a thought – how about asking the Rookie compilers to do their own review on the day following publication, prior to the BD experts giving their ‘take’ on it. The comments would surely be more pertinent given an insight into the way they had thought out the clues?

    On the other hand – maybe you already do that and it’s just that the rest of us don’t get a look in!

  3. I hope I have found the right place to post this.
    I came across this site but a short while ago and find it very helpful. I attempt most dt cryptics but rarely the toughies.
    My thanks to BD et al for this site, it is a boon.http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_good.gif
    Is there any specific format for sending prize puzzles to DT? My scanner’s preferred option is PDF so that is what I use.
    Haven’t been able to find any info on this but am aware of the requirement for spaces and commas in subject line.

    Many thanks,
    Tobes.

  4. Trust me to find the one crossword with such a polemic.
    Downloaded Ntspp 162 by Wiglaf. Pure chance given the amount of puzzles in the memory bank. Even if I can’t reveal that particular clue with my little windows phone I think I get the hint of who it might be.
    The blog being closed, I post here.
    I don’t think 18a is a real word is it?
    21a is a bit far fetched.
    Liked 20d although it’s a very long clue.
    Thanks to wiglaf.

  5. Help! Where is the blog for today, January 26th Daily Telegraph??? I\t’s nowhere to be seen and no explanation. Feeling lost!

    • Welcome to the blog Rosie

      11:00 am is only the target time for the blog. Today’s blogger also holds down a full-time job as a publican and has to fit the blog around his other duties.

  6. We need all the help we can get, but often the hints aren’t enough for us, so we just want to be told what the answer is. But we aren’t getting any Click Here buttons with the hints and tips – it was easier for us when the answers were just hidden in brackets to be clicked on. That worked. Now we feel so frustrated – we have to wait a WHOLE DAY to get the answer in the paper. Has anyone any ideas as to how we can make the Click Here buttons appear?

  7. No – the only Click Here I get is on some ad. for skin creams that pops up. Nothing for the hints. Funny though, if you can get them with the same system, why can’t we?

  8. Hi Big Dave
    Several weeks ago the Telegraph cocked up my subscription to the crosswords by cancelling it. I spoke with them on Friday and everything seemed to be sorted out. This morning…..no bloody crossword! Any way to get a copy of today’s crossword? I will give them another call in the morning. Cheers

  9. Good Morning. Having issues accessing the internet with IE again (yes, I’m dumping it!), and via Chrome the puzzle site won’t accept my password. While I’m waiting for them to send me a new password, would you be so kind as to send me today’s cryptic, and the Quickie also if you have it. Many thanks! .

      • Thanks very much Pommers. Malwarebytes didn’t find anything and I have now done a full system scan and the problem has disappeared. I can access the puzzles with my current password. My knowledge of IT is very limited, but maybe I had an uninvited add-on that the full scan got rid off.

    • Love it, spindrift – but they taste vile if eaten straight from the tree. Tried one in the garden of Shakespeare’s daughter’s house a few years ago. Great when cooked and bottled as a jam.

      • Hi Jane.
        We used to have a neflier in the Jardin, but it slowly suffocated under the ever growing cedar tree. It used to make lovely fruits but you had to eat them pretty fast. The flesh between the skin and the rather large inside stones was like honey but turn blet quickly in the open air.

        • Hi Jean-luc,
          It never ceases to amaze me that you are so very good at doing crosswords, despite them being in a foreign language. Do you translate the whole thing before you start? I can’t imagine any other way that you could cope with the anagrams.

  10. Hi BD – just to say thank you for the St. David’s day logo. I bet Mary will have enjoyed it as well, but don’t know whether we have any other Wales based commenters?

    Whilst I’m writing – wonder whether anyone else has asked if it would be possible to post the Rookie puzzles on a Sunday? It would certainly be a bonus for me but I guess might not appeal to others.

    • Don’t know that it’s intentional, but I now find that if I stay up late on a Sunday, I can often get the Rookie – which makes me stay up even later! Thanks, BD.

  11. My local paper – the Bangor Mail – is published by the Trinity Mirror North Wales, a subsidiary of Trinity Mirror PLC. It has a very decent Cryptic crossword – any idea who sets these?

  12. Once again, I am having issues with my DT subscription. I received notification that it had been automatically renewed. But when I tried to access the puzzles, I am told my subscription had been cancelled or expired! This is a depressingly annual occurrence. Would you mind sending me the Cryptic, Toughie and, if possible, the Quickie? Many thanks.

  13. Much prefer to do the puzzles on paper which means that, although I buy the DT, I have to resort to the printer for Rookies, NTSPP and monthly Prize Puzzles. I’m going through black ink cartridges at a rate of knots – anyone found an alternative way to print?

  14. Re Tuesday, 27769.

    Haven’t posted for a while, although I have been tracking all your views and fun comments, but had to say Hi tonight on behalf of the Island’s tourist board (with whom I have no connection!) for the answer to 20A!!!

    Please come and visit – you will love it!! And enoy a 23A …….MP I’ll let you know where you can get a special one whilst Saint Sharon chills out from all of those chores.

    Just into **/**** for me. Held up by first word in 9a and answer to 24a – and as usual, for no obvious reason

    Thanks to Tuesday’s Mr Ron http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_bye.gif

  15. I am not sure why, but I have been having quite a few problems accessing the site over the last couple of weeks. I keep getting an error saying the site is off line. I can connect to the hosting server OK, but then not the bigdave44.com pages. It seems to be OK after 10 to 15 mins but it seems to happen about 1 out of every 3 attempts to connect. Just thought I would let you know.

    • I usually find the ‘off site’ flashes up just after I’ve tried to post a really long comment, with lots of emoticons. Always thought it was a BD ‘too much, already’ comment but your posts are usually very succinct so I really can’t say.
      I CAN tell you that it’s a heck of a problem to recreate a post once it’s been committed to cyberspace! http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_wacko.gif

  16. Hi BD, I’m no longer receiving the notifications of blog postings. Are you trying to tell me something (!) or have I inadvertently blocked them when deleting ‘junk’ stuff?

  17. please could anyone tell me how to change my icon (avatar?) i cannot remember how i put it in in the first place, many thanks for any help

  18. In this week’s prize cryptic crossword 341, I have solved it correctly (submitted 100%) but cannot parse the solution to 1 across:

    Powerful, take what’s ours close to coast (6)

    Without giving the answer away (as per prize conventions), can anyone explain where the “b” comes from please?

    • This is the prize cryptic crossword on the Telegraph Puzzles site.
      1a is ‘take what’s ours’ (3,2) followed by the closing letter of coast.

      • That’s enough for me to understand it, thanks. I was going for anagram of ours+t. I was on the wrong tack completely.

  19. One for the pedant’s corner which I’ve come across twice in the last couple of weeks . . .

    A MISS is not a young woman, she’s an unmarried one who could be any age, like my aunt Winnie who died aged 94, still a miss.

    • I’ve just spotted this comment and it doesn’t sound quite right to me, so I respectfully respond as follows. The word Miss (with capital) is a title prefixed to the name of an unmarried woman or girl. Definitions of miss (without capital) include “a schoolgirl” and a “person between a child and a woman”. And for the adjective missish: “schoolgirlish” (all from the BRB). Collins Online Thesaurus gives the following synonyms for miss: girl, maiden, maid, schoolgirl, young lady, lass and damsel. So, your lovely aunt is definitely a (titular) Miss but I’m not convinced that at 94 she’s a miss.

      BD, perhaps (if you have time) you could give an official definitive ruling on this apparent incongruity?

  20. Help please. In the Week magazine’s competition crossword for w/e 25 April (closing date 4 May) the following clue has me beaten as to why the answer must be what it is:
    ‘Crack and Ecstasy with time can bring on madness’ _E_E_T_A

    • As soon as I pressed send it came to me – an anagram (crack) of TIME, AND E

      Not had a gnomoment for a long time!

  21. Good morning. The DT’s not accepting what I thought was my password. I’ve sent a request for a new one, but meanwhile could you send me today’s puzzles, plus the NTSPP if it’s available. thanks!

    • Never mind about the NTSPP. I don’t need a password for that! Can you tell I’m still half asleep?

      • Never mind. I’m apparently still logged in if I access the DT puzzles via IE, which I have been avoiding using because it’s awful. If I use Chrome it asks for log on details. I don’t understand that, but at least I have the puzzles for now.

  22. A newbie to the site and I love it!
    When you give a BD Rating I fully understand the enjoyment factor being subjective but is there a yardstick for the difficulty? e.g. time to complete and if so what are the norms?
    Keep up the good work
    neil

    • Welcome to the blog, Neil. Now that you’ve introduced yourself I hope that you’ll become one of our ‘regular’ commenters.
      Some bloggers have a personal formula for calculating the difficulty stars based on time taken to solve; others (me included) just make a subjective assessment – I try to use 3* as ‘average’.

  23. Good morning, I’ve just looked at the solution of puzzle 27,827. Regarding clue 15d, “contrail” is not in the dictionary (Oxford, Cambridge, Macmillan…). Where did the setter get the word from, and what does it mean, please?
    Thanks for your answer,
    Regards,
    Chris Green.

    • We can’t repeat often enough that Chambers is the “dictionary of choice” for Telegraph setters, and that means the Big Red one, not the condensed online free version.

      contrail
      noun
      * short form of condensation trail

      condensation trail
      noun
      * a vapour trail

      • BD, just for the benefit of some readers (I know you will be aware yourself) “contrail” is a good example of a “portmanteau word” (coined by Lewis Carroll in 1872) – a word which condenses the meaning of two words into one shorter word. Like a portmanteau – a travelling case having two halves joined by a hinge.

      • I tried to post on the 27835 thread as normal. My email and name are saved so I don’t have keep refilling them in, and it went to a CAPTCHA page. Hey ho.

        I’ll just repost my comments on the rather good crossword again.

        Cheers BDhttp://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_smile.gif

    • I have recovered several comments from the spam folder, including some of yours. Don’t ask why they were they as I don’t know.

  24. Very surprised to see no solution to DT 27838 dated 26 June
    I finished, eventually, but found it hard.

    • Welcome Tony. A major server crash meant that anything posted on 26 June was lost and access to the site is only just coming back on-line.

  25. Re ST2805. Hope it’s not like it is tonight online (about 9.00pm UK) in the morning. No word/letter numbers with any of the clues. Makes it a little more difficult!

    Tried switching off/on/exit etc. Juts thought – half of every clue is missing! Back to finish post-dinner “tea” until the DT fixes it.

  26. Thank you for this. I’d done nearly all of it, but not sure why some of them were right. So great to have that all explained. Excellent site!

    • Welcome to the blog, Sue May. Now that you’ve introduced yourself I hope that you’ll become a regular commenter.
      You don’t make clear which puzzle you’re referring to – if you’re leaving a comment about a specific puzzle it’s best to use the ‘comment’ facility at the bottom of the relevant blog, then more people will read it.

  27. As I am not a frequent visitor to BD – I do try to manage without it – I may have missed the introduction of the feature of tagging pictures with the answers to the clue. I noticed it when I looked for hints to DT27881. It seems to defeat the object of a “Hints” page and to go against the rules.

    • Did you read the FAQ before leaving your comment?
      FAQ #9 explains the “rules” and pictures have been tagged in this way since the early days of the blog and I have no intention to change that.

  28. DT 27,885.

    If that was a Ray T (maybe?) then even Brian must enjoy it. Just into 1.5 because of a couple but fun, say 3+. Let’s see what the morning brings!

  29. Hi BD et el. Toughie 1453 has almost identical clues in the paper version for 3 and 4d. Has anyone got the online copy? Think there may have been a printing error.

    Edit..to clarify they both read..

    With wild cat entering animals turned tail: didn’t remain impassive.

  30. Hello, Big Dave! Re meeting up when we are in the UK. We will be going to Cheltenham on Monday September, 14th, having spent a few days in Ramsbury. We plan on visiting the old homestead of Eckington on the way. It’s just a few miles from you. Are you up for lunch at The Bell around 1 o’clock on the 14th? This time we are not renting a car so my brother-in-law will be driving us. If that’s not convenient for you, perhaps we can meet in Cheltenham on the 15th for lunch. Let me know, and please e-mail me a phone number so that I can keep in touch once we are there in case anything changes. Looking forward to seeing you!

  31. Why do you persist in tagging photos on the Hints page with the actual answers! It makes a mockery of the big warning not to include answers in comments.

    • Welcome to the blog John

      Why to people persist in ignoring the instruction above the comment box that reads “if you are asking a question please check the FAQ first”?

      I don’t take kindly to those whose first comment is a complaint.

  32. A bit touchy aren’t we? This is not my first comment! The first one, some time ago, was about a particular clue.
    Anyway I have commented before (19August) about the tagging, having that time checked the FAQ without success – and I’ve just looked again with the same result. I’m afraid I missed your response to my August comment but reading it now enabled me to discover the answer. I even tried searching for “tag”, “picture” and “image” but that only works if the relevant FAQ is open, so short of opening all 31 FAQs I was unlikely to find the reference! So you see I did make a bit of an effort and I’m sorry if I upset you – you must have a lot of idiot comments to deal with.
    Thank you for the help your site provides and I shall continue to use BD when I’m really stuck but must be careful in future to avoid those images with my cursor.

  33. DT 27937
    Some were ghastly which prompts me to make the following observations:
    There seems a great disparity nowadays between two extremes, hard and easy fine, but somewhat more uniformity in the formats. I like working the cryptic to fit the definition. Not guessing what is the definition, trolling through Roget hopefully to find a word that fits the known letters and then firuring out how the cryptic can be satisfied. Often now the case and like this one so tenuous and ghastly.
    in the old days a dictionary would suffice, now sportsmen, actors etc are a prerequisite.
    An opinion.

    • Welcome Dick

      Although your opinion relates to observations on cryptics generally, if you are commenting on a particular crossword, it helps if you post your comment on the blog for that puzzle.

      If BD was around, he’d probably move your comment to the right page, but I can’t work that sort of magic so you’ll have to remain here in ‘comments’.

  34. Greetings, Does anyone know what’s happening to the Telegraph puzzles points system? I’m showing at over 9 million points. Best to the best.

    • I don’t think anyone understands any of the Telegraph puzzles systems. I particularly like doing the Quick prize winning puzzle on a Monday which apparently takes me thousands and thousands of hours!

    • Lately my points seemed to have jumped to about ten times what they should have been. I took it as a crumb of comfort when looking at the person at the top.

  35. I’ve been downloading your help blogs for the Daily Telegraph Cryptics for about a month now.

    When I was 26 I seem to remember cracking the cryptics in less than an hour. At a ripe 76 I struggle to get up to 1/3 of the answers before looking at your hints -but then I do get to within about three/four before needing to look up the word.

    I have read as many of your guides as I can find. What I have not come across is anyone suggesting work flow. By that I mean what do the wizards do first? Do they try to identify what type of clue it is? Do they try to pick the key word and look for synonyms that fit the clue?

    One piece of advice I have seen and followed is not ticking off the clues as they are solved. Thus keeping clear of the clue panel and concentrating on leads created by letters from the crossing words. It seems to work.

    I used to put the letters from anagrams in a circle. Someone has suggested vowels on one line and the consonants on another – that is now what I do.

    But, to cut a rambling post short, can anyone point me to a URL that suggests the ‘best’ way to work through the clues assuming one has already understood the differences between anagrams, hidden words, etc, etc.

    It is a great web site, Dave, Well done to you and the other helpers.

    • Welcome to the blog Tony

      I think you will find that there are as many approaches to solving crosswords as there are solvers. Personally I would describe myself as a completist – I get a foothold in a corner of a puzzle and endeavour to complete that corner before moving on to an adjacent corner.

      As far as anagrams are concerned, once again there are many methods that are used. I enter the letters into a grid that is three or four (depending on the length of the answer) letters wide along the top row then backwards along the second row and so on. For example, with 12 Across in today’s puzzle:
      CAST
      YAWA
      GENI
      SU

  36. Thanks Dave,

    Two valuable suggestions there.

    I’ll be interested to hear what the other gurus come up with.

    Tony

    • Hi Tony and welcome from me too.

      I always start a puzzle by going thought the acrosses and then the downs in order. No more than about 10 seconds thinking time on any clue, unless perhaps an anagram is identified when I may spend longer trying to crack it. This process usually reveals a few answers and after that I look at the grid and use BD’s technique – go for the areas where you have the most checkers.

      Anagrams I do a bit differently. If you think think the clue is an anagram you must know the indicator, the fodder and therefore the definition. I then treat it as a quick crossword clue and guess answers before checking if they fit the fodder. Pommette uses the BD method ans sometimes she’s quicker and sometimes it’s me – I fare better on long anagrams.

    • Firstly if you click on ‘reply’ if keeps the comment thread together.

      I start with the Across clues and work my way down, then do the same with the Down clues, and then I work my way back up the grid from bottom to top. Only then do I look properly at the grid to find places where I have more checking letters than others and start to fill the missing.

      Anagrams – I either cross out the letters I already have from the word(s) in the clue in the paper and see if I can fit in what’s left or if that doesn’t work, I write out the anagram fodder in either a long line or a couple of rows of say 3, 4, 3 letters or whatever the number is and again cross out the ones I have.

          • Do you folk use dictionaries?

            I tried 27,950 yesterday and only managed about two answers before having to resort to your help posting.

            I always get to within about two clues from the end with your help. Those are usually words I don’t know. It is just that I struggle so much getting moving before I need your help.

            Tony

            • I can’t quite work out which day 27950 was but you have to believe me that I will have used a dictionary – I almost always need to – I don’t think it’s cheating. It’s how you learn things so what’s wrong with that – others will disagree with me but whatever – just keep going I say. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_smile.gif

            • I always have my Chambers dictionary handy! That’s the one the Telegraph compilers follow. I wouldn’t be without it. My vocabulary is fairly good, but it doesn’t include those obscure words that turn up so often. I find a “real” hardback dictionary is so much better than any on-line version, which seem to be somewhat limited. I also use a thesaurus at times. As Kath says, that’s how one learns.

              • I am pleased to say that yesterday I managed to complete the cryptic 27,964 of Friday 20th Nov without once resorting to your help notes.

                I have been trying to do two puzzles a day since writing on the 8th – but I have never managed without needing to look at your help for about 40% of the clues.

                One site I found useful was http://www.crosswordunclued.com/ It says nothing much new that is not on your site, but maybe the same instructions in different words has helped a bit.

                However the biggest help I have found is http://www.the-crossword-solver.com/
                In one system I get synonyms, anagrams and the facilty to key in the letters already showing and get a list of all the matches.

                I have also got the on-line Chambers Dictionary and Thesaurus which I turn to if the above site fails. I loaded the Chambers app but it does not seem as good as working on-line.

                It’ll be interesting to see how I fair with today’s puzzle.

                I have to admit that without the above two aids I would not get far. My vocabulary is far too limited – but posters have said it is OK to use help so I don’t feel too guilty.

                Thanks for the help and confidence building. I never thought I’d get there.

                Tony

  37. Has anyone else noticed that the Prize Winners section of the Telegraph Puzzles web-site hasn’t been updated for some time (5th Oct).

    I have e-mailed the Telegraph but have had no reply. Do you still have the ear of the Editor, BigDave? (I recall that you were in regular contact during the site outage debacle.)

    I’m hoping that we are still being entered and that prizes are still being awarded.

  38. Big Dave, I have just been reading the FAQs on here and have learned something new. Although I was aware that some crosswords contained hidden features, I never knew they were called Ninas. I’m sure you know yourself, but others who read this blog might not be aware that the Quick Crossword underneath the Telegraph cryptic very often contains a Nina. Usually the first 3 or 4 across clues combine to make a longer word or well known phrase and they are indicated by the relevant clues being written in italics. Just thought I’d mention it ………

    • Thank you, but not sure what you mean. Do you mean that the Nina from the Quick crossword is shown under the daily hints for the crytic? You’re being too cryptic, Sue!

      • Yes, you did mean just that! Have found it now – but you can’t expect someone obsessed with cryptic crosswords to be able to understand a simple, obvious statement, surely!

  39. Cryptic 27962, 11 down
    Have got the right answer, but cannot work out how the answer fits the clue! If someone can explain it, I’d be pleased!
    http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_mail.gif

  40. Big Dave, how come the nina in the Quick crossword is sometimes indicated with italicised clues and sometimes not (as under DT 27,962)? Also, why is it referred to as the Quick “pun”, instead of the Quick nina. What’s the point of having a specific term for a hidden crossword feature (which a “pun” is) and then calling it something else?

      • BD, I see where you are coming from but in FAQs the definition of a Nina is a “hidden feature”, which surely covers a hidden “pun” or indeed anything else. Also one of the given examples (of a Nina) is “fine tooth comb” – which isn’t a hidden message, it’s a hidden pun! Thus plainly confirming that a hidden pun is actually a Nina. But if everybody calls it the Quick pun, then so be it! It’s merely semantics, I suppose.

        Also, my main point regarding italics is: if a crossword contains a Nina or pun and there is no indication of such a thing – how would anybody know what to look for? New readers (and some regular readers also) of the DT may be totally unaware that there is a pun included unless the clues are italicised or otherwise indicated.

      • World Pay! My card details had changed so when my subscription ran out they cancelled my membership to Telegraph puzzles but renewed it when I put new details in, I had puzzle yesterday but now they are telling me it has run out again!!!!! There doesn’t seem to be anything I can do!! Wot a pain, wot else to do on a dull cold wet Sunday morning http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_sad.gif

  41. Hi dave I’m begging again, still not been able to sort things out … pleased could you send me todays puzzle? Eternally grateful
    http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_smile.gif

  42. Me again Dave, despite phone calls to Telegraph still being blocked, will ring again soon, meanwhile … please can I have todays puzzle

    • Welcome to the blog Al.

      You’ll get on a lot better here if you don’t ask questions aggressively. Did you look in the FAQ first? I guess not.

      • Hopefully this will not be construed as an aggressive comment, but …

        … if one hovers over the “FAQ” tab … the drop down menu merely says …

        Prize Puzzles
        Toughie Setters

        I always feel great sympathy for the “newbies” who are harshly told to “Look at the FAQ first”

        • Ah – but if you ‘click’ on FAQ all sorts of info comes up! Even I managed that – and, believe me, that’s saying something!

        • I’ve dropped the subsidiary entries so there should be no further confusion.

          My ‘harsh’ response was because of the rudeness of the question, which I didn’t find to be in the least bit funny – more like when someone shouts out “Oi you!” to attract your attention.

  43. Hi again. It wasn’t meant to be aggressive; it was meant to be but humorous – that’s the problem with the written word. Thanks again.

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