Today's crossword is especially cryptic – can you crack it?
Cryptic Crossword 30,213: Short and occasionally slightly blue
Despite an accusation thrown at me by a colleague just now, “short and occasionally slightly blue” isn’t a description of a certain well-known royal’s frostbite. Rather, it’s a pretty accurate précis of today’s Cryptic Crossword, which bears the hallmarks of one of our regular Thursday compilers: Ray Terrell.
Terrell has set more than 500 Telegraph Cryptics, in addition to having almost 150 Toughies published under his pseudonym of Beam (a synonym for “ray”, as in a ray of sunlight). This makes him one of our most experienced compilers, as well as one of the most distinctive. Whereas most of us mere mortals (myself included) are more than content with simply writing cryptic clues that work, Terrell sets himself a number of self-limiting challenges, each of which is evident in today’s crossword.
Perhaps the trickiest constraint to which to adhere is Terrell’s stated aim that no clue should contain more than eight words. This in itself is challenging enough, but a quick scan of the clues in today’s puzzle reveals that it goes one step further (if not two): each clue contains, at most, six words. It’s hard to convey just how difficult this is to achieve. Take the following epitome of conciseness, in which “fan” shouldn’t be read as a noun:
Fan letters providing support (7)
Another regular feature in Terrell’s armoury is using one or two clues that rely on initial letters to find the answer:
Improved cakes, enhancing decoration initially (4)
That’s not to say that the puzzles are free of subtlety and nuance. In probably my favourite clue today, some lateral thinking is required:
Feeling better than you are! (8)
So, that’s the “short” covered. But what about the “blue”? Well, typically, one or more clues in any puzzle by Terrell wouldn’t feel out of place in a Carry On film, if read in a certain way. Try the following for size:
Bust is forward, maintaining volume (9)
As is the case when solving any cryptic crossword, remember one thing: the first meaning that springs to mind is generally not the one that’s needed.
You can have a go at today’s Cryptic Crossword on our new puzzles website; the answers to today’s picks are at the bottom of this page.
Today’s other puzzles
As well as the Toughie, there are plenty more challenges and teasers to play online. Can you beat our team’s average solving times?
PlusWord 256 Today’s PlusWord is a little trickier than normal, due to the small number of shaded squares in the mini grid. Par solving time: 4 minutes
Quick Crossword 30,213 In the same way that Ray Terrell’s cryptic clues are concise and to the point, each clue in his Quick Crosswords only contains a single word, making his Quicks unique. Par solving time: 7 minutes
Cross Atlantic 74 Today’s Cross Atlantic features not just one, but two themes. We don’t think they are related, but, as you’ll find when you spot them, they would make for an interesting mash-up, which we would definitely pay to watch. Par solving time: 20 minutes
Mini Crossword 74 Today’s compiler, Russell Henwood, often produces Minis where the first and last across entries are linked; hopefully, this piece of information will help you see the light in today’s puzzle. Par solving time: 100 seconds
Toughie Crossword 3,003 Today’s Toughie contains a couple of more obscure words and occasionally intricate wordplay, but should still be on the accessible side. Par solving time: 40 minutes
Cryptic Crossword 30,213 clue answers:
TRESTLE: anagram of LETTERS
ICED: initial letters Improved Cakes Enhancing Decoration
ARROGANT: cryptic definition/joke
INSOLVENT : V (= volume) in INSOLENT (= forward)