September 24, 2009 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog

DT 26038

Daily Telegraph Cryptic No 26038

The Big Ones Get Away!

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BD Rating – Difficulty *** Enjoyment **

Having been a solver for many years, I always looked forward to Saturday’s puzzles. Each paper usually offered you more than one puzzle, and invariably, the puzzle you got on a Saturday was something special. Sadly I don’t feel that magic with the Telegraph puzzle. It’s an OK challenge, but I don’t get to feel the magic that you get with other papers and setters. This week’s contained a couple of good clues, but they were taken down by the two long answers in the centre. Both were clued with cryptic definitions, and while you could argue one was reasonable, I simply had not heard of the expression, and the other struck me as too remote and obscure to lead to the answer. The grid itself didn’t help with the centre almost isolated. I recognised the across answer, but had to guess at the down one. Even an anagram might have helped a bit.

Anyway, whine over, off we go. Your comments as to how you coped with the puzzle are welcomed.

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Toughie 222

Toughie No 222 by Excalibur

You Pays Your Money……

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BD Rating – Difficulty **** Enjoyment **

I subscribe on a monthly basis to Telegraph Crosswords which means I pay £60 a year for my puzzles.

However, It’s days like today that I wonder why I bothered. When I was a lot younger my mum and dad used to get the Weekend Magazine, which was I suppose the Hello or OK!! of its day. A heady mix of salubrious celebrity tittle tattle and some rather curious adverts that baffled a prepubescent teenager and one of its features was The Stinker Crossword set by our setter today, described as being the toughest of its kind. As someone who had become spellbound by cryptic crosswords I could only look at it and wait for the solution to see what was going on. Even when I saw the solution, a lot of what I saw bemused me, and I waited until my dear old Latin Master spent lunchtimes explaining the magic of cryptics to me using the Guardian, Times and Telegraph. In all honesty, this puzzle might as well have been from that era given the language of the cluewriting and the words used. For the first 60 minutes today, I couldn’t work out a single clue. It’s rather strange as I tackle the Listener, Azed and Enigmatic Variations on a regular basis and can usually make a decent start, even if I don’t always finish it without resorting to dictionaries.

It is very noticeable that this setter seems to like using grids that contain answers with the minimum of checking letters and here we have another grid like that with ten of the answers having less than 50% of their letters intersecting. This means you can end up trying to guess and answer from a pattern such as * I *E * I * C*. Grossly unfair. The surface readings and accepted devices seem to be happily sacrificed at the altar of fairness. The Monday Maestro consistently manages to provide good surface readings and accurate cluemanship. Here it is not a case of hitting the bullseye, but just about scraping the outside of the target in quite a number of instances.

There are some decent clues in this puzzle, but they are outweighed by the puzzle’s inadequacies, of which there are many. There are a couple of answers where I have used my solving aid called TEA, and would not have finished without it, as I cannot make out the way the clue works. I am sure my esteemed colleagues will make more sense of those clues.

I don’t mind a tough challenge, but this is not tough, just inadequate.

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DT 26042

Daily Telegraph Cryptic No 26042

Hints and tips by Libellule

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BD Rating – Difficulty *** Enjoyment ***

I came to appreciate this crossword more when I started writing up the blog, than when I actually did it. For once I can’t really complain about anagram indicators, except for 10a where I was a little unsure which one is supposed to do the job, but eventually decided on display.  Otherwise this is a gentle work out for the grey cells, having a good mix of clue types, and clues that vary from being quite simple to others that are more complicated.

As usual feel free to comment and dicuss what you thought of today’s offering.

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