October 1, 2009 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog

DT 26044

Daily Telegraph Cryptic No 26044

God Save the Nina!

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

I think I shall start this review by introducing you to a new word. Or at least a word whose meaning you are not familiar with. NINA. What is it, O wise one, you ask? Well, gentle reader, it’s a word that has been adapted by crossword setters to mean something hidden in a crossword that you may not be aware of. Quite a few puzzles have Ninas, although you’d never know if you were not looking for them.

The Nina is actually named after the daughter of American artist Al Hirschfeld, who would hide things in his drawings that are related to Nina, his daughter. And so crossword setters happily nicked the idea for their puzzles as well. Some contain little messages like HAPPY BIRTHDAY or suchlike around the perimeter or in the rows between the answers. Sometimes some of the answers are linked in a sort of private joke. Some of you may know that I compile puzzles for the Independent General Knowledge Jumbo series (as Harbinger, I’m in this Saturday’s paper by the way!) and in July, a puzzle of mine read HAPPY BIRTHDAY BERYL across the top, as a tribute to my lovely sister who was celebrating her birthday on the day it was published. The Sunday Telegraph recently had a General Knowledge puzzle where a lot of the answers were the names of Toughie Crossword compilers. The Telegraph Crossword actually has a sort of famous history of Ninas going back to World War II, where the then setter Leonard Dawe published several puzzles that inadvertently contained the top secret codenames of the D-Day beaches just before the landings happened, and he was hauled in for questioning.   Although that article says it was coincidence, Dawe was a teacher and used to encourage his pupils, some of whom were sons of RAF Officers, to supply words for him to put in the puzzles.

Anyway, back to 2009. Last Saturday’s puzzle was a tribute to our very own Big Dave and this site, and while it is tempting to think of our host as a dementia-ridden nun who likes to sing God Save The Queen, I think that would have been going a bit too far. Although Mrs BD may like to produce evidence!

This was quite a nice puzzle and certainly an improvement on the previous week. There were some lovely clues and as I solved it, I began to see one or two things appearing. So let’s have a look….

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Toughie 226

Toughie No 226 by Kcit

Put through the Mangle?

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BD Rating – Difficulty **** Enjoyment **

After finishing this one I felt as if I had been put through the mangle! It was moderately difficult but I didn’t enjoy doing it. Some of the wordplay still eludes me so maybe I might change my mind later.

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DT 26048

Daily Telegraph Cryptic No 26048

Hints and tips by Libellule

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BD Rating – Difficulty ** and a half Enjoyment ***

Not quite two stars, but I don’t think this is worth three stars for difficulty either. But there’s still a lot of fun to be had and depressingly I can’t even complain about the anagram indicators.

Did the setter deliberately juxtapose 1d and 17d and also 21d and 8d? I am not sure, but I like the effect.

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