Big Dave's Crossword Blog – Page 854 – Putting the words to lights – crossword clues explained in plain English

DT 25926

Daily Telegraph Cryptic No 25926

Today’s hints and tips by Gazza

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BD Rating – Difficulty *** Enjoyment **

In his review yesterday tilsit introduced a phrase “double unch” (double unchecked square) which I hadn’t heard before and which I determined to remember for future use – well, I did not have to wait long, because today’s puzzle is full of them! It’s a bit of a curate’s egg really, with a few nice cryptic definitions and some attempts at misdirection, but some of the surface readings are pretty poor, notably 16d.

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DT 25925

Daily Telegraph Cryptic No 25925

Hints and tips by Tilsit

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BD Rating – Difficulty * Enjoyment **

Very much at the easier end of the scale, the only thing that I suspect will hold solvers up today is the grid itself.  What an abomination!  Just under half of the clues contained a double unchecked square (known as a “double unch”).  Indeed my record solving time for the Telegraph would have been beaten only for being held up with 5 down. I really don’t like grids with double unches and although I’ll tolerate a couple in a normal puzzle, surely this was too much.

When a previous Times Crossword Editor took over a few years back, he devoted a bit of time to revising all the Times stock grids.  I think it’s time for the DT to follow suit.

Back to the puzzle.  It being Monday we have the usual collection of cryptic definitions, which are fine, but I would rather have two or three a puzzle instead of the number we get.  I always recommend the Telegraph and Guardian Monday puzzles as good places to start when solving cryptics but I sometimes fear that newer solvers are tempted to stick at this level when other puzzles adopted, shall we say, a more balanced approach.  In addition, as my esteemed colleague Big Dave points out, sometimes the puzzle is weakened by these, 26 across is a good example.

That said, there are some lovely surface readings and constructions.  Thanks as usual to our Monday Maestro.

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ST 2483 – Hints

Sunday Telegraph Cryptic No 2483 – Hints

Selected hints by Big Dave

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

Another Sunday puzzle to enjoy while sitting in the garden in the sunshine.  I even forgave the setter for including the now obligatory place name!

For the weekend prize crosswords I will select a few of the better clues and provide hints for them.  A full analysis of this puzzle will be available at 12.00 next Thursday, 14th May.

Some hints to get you started:

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DT 25924 – Hints

Daily Telegraph Cryptic No 25924 – Hints

Selected hints by Big Dave

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BD Rating – Difficulty *** Enjoyment ***

Without the obscure people and places this would have been a very good puzzle. There is quite a lot to enjoy and, for me at least, only one of those clues that give you that teeth-sucking moment.

Two small landmarks – this is the 200th post on the blog and earlier this week the view count topped 100,000.

Peter Biddlecombe’s full review of this puzzle will be published at 12.00 on Thursday, 14th May.

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Toughie 143

Toughie No 143 by Excalibur

A good puzzle, spoiled

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BD Rating – Difficulty *** Enjoyment **

There was much to enjoy in this puzzle, but, for me, it was totally spoiled by the silly phrases and by wordplay in which so much is sacrificed to achieve good  surface reading.  I fail to see how A B on C means A on B is C, but once you get used to the silliness of the construct the puzzle is not that difficult.

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DT 25923

Daily Telegraph Cryptic No 25923

Hints and tips by Libellule

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BD Rating – Difficulty *** Enjoyment ***

Not too complicated, not too easy either. One new word for me, a french phrase and a couple of Big Dave bete noires, what more could you ask for. Comments as always appreciated.


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ST 2482 – Review

Sunday Telegraph Cryptic No 2482 – Review

A full analysis by Big Dave

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BD Rating – Difficulty *** Enjoyment ***

The latest of a string of excellent Sunday puzzles.  It still seems odd to be writing a review having enjoyed the puzzle as I got used to the old-style over several years .  No more sucking the teeth or stabbing an effigy of the setter with my pencil!

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DT 25918 – Review

Daily Telegraph Cryptic No 25918

A full analysis by Peter Biddlecombe

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BD Rating – Difficulty *** Enjoyment **

Started this off very fast but slowed down in the bottom half.  A saying to ponder from one of the Times for the Times bloggers: “Some of the words in a clue are there for their meaning, and some for their content”.   As a solver, it’s well worth asking “why is this particular word used”, and any passing setters will already have realised that concealing the words included for their content can be quite difficult.

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Toughie 142

Toughie No 142 by Shamus

Hints and tips by Tilsit

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

Nice to see the Toughie live up to its name today with a fairly challenging solve.  As I am solving onscreen at the moment, I suffered several “Your solution is wrong” messages before finally getting the all correct one, which came as a great relief.

Incidentally, someone managed to solve the DT Wednesday Crossword on line in 2 minutes and 36 seconds according to the statistics.  Presumably they will be taking part in the final of the Crossword Championships in Cheltenham later this year.   Messrs Goodliffe and Biddlecombe should be quaking in their boots.

Anyway, back to today.  I think we can put Shamus firmly into the Ximenean camp with this cluing, all absolutely sound.

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