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DT 26000

Daily Telegraph Cryptic No 26000

Hints and tips by Gazza

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

Today marks a significant milestone for the Telegraph crossword – look at the crossword number – and the setter has incorporated references to this milestone in the clues. Additionally, there is a gimmick described at 16a/1a.
So, it’s a bit different from the usual daily cryptic; I liked it – what about you? – give us your views via a comment. And please take the time to click on one of the stars at the bottom of the review to vote for the entertainment factor.

Across Clues

1a  See 16a

6a   It’s thrown out of eastern plane, one with cargo of cocaine (6)
{EJECTA} – a word meaning matter which is thrown out of volcanoes is made up from E(astern), JET (plane) and A (one) containing (with cargo of) C(ocaine).

9a   Maybe John’s turn to enchant, briefly? (6)
{GOSPEL} – put together GO (turn) and SPEL(L) without its last letter (briefly), which as a verb can mean to enchant, to get one of the four books that come at the start of the New Testament, for example the one according to John.

10a  First person to mention vessel for cosmetic (8 )
{EYELINER} – start with a sound-alike (to mention) of I (first person) and add LINER (vessel) to get a cosmetic.

11a  S American native finds top unknown horse to back (8 )
{CAPYBARA} – this South American native is the largest living rodent and its name is constructed from CAP (top), Y (the second unknown quantity in an algebraic expression) and a reversal (to back) of ARAB (horse).

12a  Number left after the start of the year (6)
{TWENTY} – this number is formed from WENT (left) which comes after T (first letter of The) and is followed by Y(ear).

13a  Like word with two meanings, and big clue to anagrams? (6-6)
{DOUBLE-ACTING} – an anagram (anagrams – that’s novel!) of AND BIG CLUE TO produces a term meaning (and I’m relying on Chambers here) producing a double result.

16a/1a  26 all in attendance herein for today’s 3 6dn (7,2,3,8 )
{LETTERS OF THE ALPHABET} – there are 26 of them and they range from A to Z, and the setter is explaining that each one appears (in attendance) at least once in the answers (herein) to today’s puzzle in celebration of the milestone (which is described as a 3d, 6d).

19a  The design of the lawmaker (6)
{MOSAIC} – double definition – the lawmaker in the Old Testament was Moses and we want an adjective, based on his name, which means relating to Moses, which is also a noun meaning a design made up of small pieces of marble or glass.

21a  Parasite exercising power to spear Burns’ hero (8 )
{TAPEWORM} – this parasite is constructed from an anagram (exercising) of POWER which goes inside (to spear) Robert Burns’ hero TAM (O’Shanter).

Now, wha this tale o’ truth shall read,
Ilk man and mother’s son, take heed:
Whene’er to Drink you are inclin’d,
Or Cutty-
sarks* rin in your mind,
Think ye may buy the joys o’er dear;
Remember Tam o’ Shanter’s mare

(* as far as I can establish a cutty-sark can be either a short shift or a playful girl wearing such a garment – I’m sure that bigboab will correct me if I’m wrong.)

23a  More of us dancing reel (8 )
{FOURSOME} – an anagram (dancing) of MORE OF US gives us the name of a Scottish highland reel in which groups of four dancers participate.

24a  This sound pierces! (6)
{SHRIEK} – the punctuation in the clue is important! – this is a double definition, meaning both a piercing cry or scream and a colloquial term for an exclamation mark.

25a  It’s not theoretical: press relations ace backs what today goes after 12 and before … (6)
{PRAXIS} – [you have to solve this clue and 26a together to make sense of them] – a word meaning the practical side of things (it’s not theoretical) is constructed from PR (press relations? – it’s normally an abbreviation for either public relations or press release but this usage seems to be an amalgamation of the two), A(ce) and a number backwards – this number goes after the answer to 12a to form the first two digits of today’s crossword number…

26a  … this of our 20 22 seeing you on the beach! (8 )
{THOUSAND} – … and this describes the last three digits of the same number. Put THOU (you) in front of SAND (beach). The 20 22 reference is to the answers at 20d and 22d.

Down Clues

2d  What can you see through the halo of a holy scrubber? (6)
{LOOFAH} – this scrubber is hidden (what can you see through?) in haLO OF A Holy.

3d  Dwarf very quietly nestling in the dry grass (5)
{HAPPY} – the name of one of Snow White’s little friends is made from PP (pianissimo, very quietly) inside HAY (dry grass).

4d  Pester porter about union coming to premature end (9)
{BELEAGUER} –a verb meaning to pester comes from BEER (porter) which contains (about) LEAGUe (union, without its last letter, i.e. coming to premature end).

5d  London thoroughfare not entirely blessed by Vera Lynn? (3,4)
{THE MALL} – the London thoroughfare is the long wide road that leads from Admiralty Arch up to Buckingham Palace, and the Vera Lynn wartime song contains these letters, but with the initial bit suppressed (not entirely):
Bless ’em all, bless ’em all
The long and the short and the tall
Bless all the sergeants and W.O. Ones
Bless all the corp’rals and their blinking sons
For we’re saying good-bye to them all
As back to their billets they crawl
You’ll get no promotion this side of the ocean
So cheer up my lads Bless ’em all,

6d  The end of the opening match? (5)
{EVENT} – an old chestnut and strong candidate for Tilsit’s Oh! Crap top ten (see review of DT 25997 if you don’t know what I’m talking about!) – put the last letter (end) of thE in front of VENT (opening) to get a match or contest.

7d  Impressive dish unfinished: I’m over the cause of the disturbance (9)
{EPICENTRE} – put EPIC (impressive, large-scale) in front of ENTRÉe (one of the dishes in a meal, with its last letter dropped, i.e. unfinished) to get the point on the earth’s surface which is above the focus of an earthquake.

8d  Doctor’s aim: get train going west! (8 )
{TREATING} – an anagram (going west) of GET TRAIN produces what a doctor’s job is.

13d  Complete trademark at 9, employing computer’s ultimate printing method (3,6)
{DOT MATRIX} – string together DO (complete), TM (trademark), AT and IX (Roman numeral for 9) and insert the last letter (ultimate) of computeR to get a method of printing. The first printer I ever bought for my personal use, a long time ago, was one of this type and its print head had a matrix of only 9×9 pins so it could not print true descenders – its output looked horrible!

14d  It starts in Italy at points to be negotiated after one (9)
{ANTIPASTO} – put an anagram (to be negotiated) of AT POINTS after A (one) to get an Italian starter.

15d  No time at all to attack? (4,4)
{ZERO HOUR} – double definition, the first cryptic – a measurement of time that has no duration, and the time at which a planned military operation is set to begin.

17d  Secretly not daft, comprehending the question (2,3,2)
{ON THE QT} – an informal phrase meaning clandestinely or unobtrusively is formed from an anagram (daft) of NOT which contains (comprehending) THE Q(uestion).

18d  Press cutting one in theatre’s not initially seen (4,2)
{URGE ON} – a cutting one in a theatre (lovely image!) is a sURGEON. Take off the first letter (not initially seen) to leave an expression meaning press or encourage.

20d  Peevish, use bridge … (5)
{CROSS} – double definition – an adjective meaning annoyed or irritable (peevish), and to go over (use bridge).

22d  … text for actor’s libretto (5)
{WORDS} – another double definition, though the two are almost identical – what an actor learns and delivers on stage, and the text (libretto) of an opera or musical, as opposed to the music.

I was amused by 18d, but my favourite clue was 5d – what was yours? – leave us a comment, and please do not forget to vote below.

88 comments on “DT 26000

  1. This was a total disaster for me. Gave up after solving only two clues. 5d cos The Mall fitted, couldn’t work out the reason and 10a. Moved on to the Toughie and managed to finish that fairly easily which doesn’t happen very often.

  2. A curious paradox today, I would argue that the normal cryptic crossword (26,000) is much harder than the Toughie…

  3. I din’t enjoy it at all. After an hour and only solving 4 clues, I gave up. It’s many years since I gave up,on a DT crossword. I haven’t voted, as I don’t think it desrves even one star! I still don’t understand 16a/1a, even after your explanation. Why is today a happy event??

    1. Vince,
      If you had managed to complete the crossword you would have by now realised that 16a and 1a refers to the fact that all the letters of the alphabet appeared in the crossword (a bit like codewords).

      1. Oh and today is supposedly a happy event, because it celebrates the 26,000’th Daily Telegraph Cryptic crossword :-)

    2. Vince
      16a/1a is telling you that there is at least one of each of the letters of the alphabet in the answers.
      I suppose it’s a happy event because it’s a milestone (just as the Millennium was a happy event).

      1. But you have to complete the crossword to know that all 26 letters are used!! So we’ve got a “chicken and egg” situation.

        The number of the puzzle had no significance for me, before you pointed it out. It may be some kind of milestone, but a “happy event”???

        1. I asked Peter Biddlecombe about this the last time that we had such a puzzle (DT 25912). He said that when you are doing one like this in a competition and you see two or more of the letters J,Q,X and Z you are on the alert for the others and this sometimes helps to solve the puzzle.

    3. The fancy word for it is a pangram. This strictly speaking is a sentence like “The quick brown fox…” but it has also been applied to crosswords.

  4. By the way, there is a bit of the same theme in today’s quick crossword.

    Regular solvers will be fairly certain that both puzzles are the handiwork of Enigmatist, aka Elgar, as the similarity to T 186 is too much to be a coincidence.

  5. If you ask me, the cryptic and toughie crosswords were the wrong way round. Today’s toughie wasn’t tough, and looks more like the usual cryptic. And the cryptic was more than tough!

    1. Roger
      Your comment corresponds with others on here, so it must be just me, because I thought that today’s Toughie was more difficult than this one (of course I’m much too young to remember 10a in the Toughie :D)

  6. I absolutely loved it and have given it five stars, as we say up here “Pure dead brilliant”. My favourite clue was obviously 21a but I also loved the main one 16&1a.

  7. I am nearly 80, and cut my crossword teeth on pre-war Mickey Mouse puzzles, but I can honestly say that I have never felt such a sense of achievement as I did on completing today’s cryptic 26,000.

  8. Sat down for my usual lunchtime crossword fix and after 15 minutes gave up with only 5d answered (like Fallingstar I didn’t know why). It was as if I had never done a crossword before. I’m off to buy the Times, I might as well fail with that instead! Can I mark it less than one star?

  9. I have to agree with the majority that it was hopeless!! Even with the answers it still makes no sense to me.

  10. I loved this crossword… maybe I’m mad, but I was on the same wavelength as this compiler today. I got stuck on 25a and 6a for some reason! :)

    1. I get the feeling that this particular crossword is dividing us into two camps, those that liked it and those that hated it :-)

  11. Agree with you Libellule (and I’m firmly in the disliked camp) but how come it’s being rated at almost 5 stars? By the way reference my previous blog I didn’t have to give Mr Murdoch my money as I discovered that the Toughie was more my standard today.

    1. The rating at nearly 5 stars shows that more people actually rated (rather than commented) this crossword highly than hated it…. simple as that I suppose.

  12. Forget my gourmet comment of yesterday, for me it was back to the greasy spoon!, sadly not to my OAP liking, but at least it was different, LOVED 20d!!!!!

  13. I find myself in the camp of those who didn’t enjoy this crossword. To be able to enjoy it you have to feel that there is at least a possibility of finishing it. The toughie has never been this difficult. Only one star I’m afraid.

  14. Come on guys, lighten up! This was a special crossword, for a special occasion and was super fun! In years to come, people will certainly remember no. 26,000, which is what it is all about, not to disappear in a vat of obscurity amongst all the other puzzles.

    One further question, are Tilsit and Lie-in-King one and the same person, as they both seemed to celebrate a birthday at the same time?

    Great website, Dave. Thanks for putting it all together.

    1. Welcome to the blog Tilly

      This one has been more divisive than any I remember. I’m in the five star camp.

      BTW Tilsit and Lie-in King are not one and the same, but I understand what you mean.

      [Lie-in King is probably the best-known contributor of crossword clue solutions on AnswerBank]

      1. Thanks, Big Dave.

        i used to visit Answerbank occasionally, and found your site from there as it was referred to on one of those occasions. So pleased I did!

        Is Gazza’s comment a cryptic clue?

        1. When I started the site I had absolutely no idea of what it should look like, and it has evolved from there! I think the total lack of preconceptions has helped create something a bit different from other crossword blogs.

          1. And how! One of the things which really infuriates me about that particular blog, is the way people take the easy way out ie some of them ask for large amounts of answers in any one particular crossword. Their names come up again and again. In the case of the DT crosswords, it is invariably the prize ones that are discussed, hardly ever the daily ones, so one can only assume why the answers are wanted.

            1. Tilly
              The number of questions on there about daily DT crosswords used to be a lot more, but has decreased a lot since Big Dave started this blog.

  15. I’m afraid that was rather too much trouble to be really enjoyable, though I took some perverse pleasure in almost completing it.

    Didn’t like 17d though and had to look up the answer here. I (Welsh) still don’t recognise the phrase, but Mrs phisheep (Essex) did her usual groan of recognition, so I suppose it is OK.

  16. I think the compiler of this crossword needs to seek professional help! It is just too bizarre for words. Awful!

  17. I’m relatively new to all this and love this site. I normally get somewhere between half and 80% of a typical crossword but am slowly improving. This “special” crossword felt a bit try-hard in places and 17d was a really annoying. However i really loved 5d.

  18. thank goodness, I really was on the verge of quitting Dt crosswords after getting nto a bit of a mess yesterday and failing miserably with most of todays :( but I see I am not on my own today, whew!! I actually did like 1a & 16a, look forward to trying again tomorrow

  19. I was thrown by the Vera Lynn question.I have checked She did sing it on an L.P. 1988 but I am sure it was other vocalists who sang it during the war

    1. Lysander
      I think you’re right – the original recording was by George Formby! Vera Lynn recorded it in 1963 on her album “Hits of the blitz”.
      You can find out probably more than you want to know about the history of the song here

  20. While this was definitely more than a challenge than usual, I enjoyed this one. A lot more self-reference than one usually finds in a DT puzzle.

    Only got 17D due to the pangram nature of the puzzle. I think I may have seen the phrase before in another crossword, perhaps, but it’s certainly not familiar to me. When checking that here, I couldn’t help but look up 7D and 18D, which were my only blanks (after about 40 minutes, quite a bit slower than usual).

    1. Welcome to the site Jonathan

      It may have been a contentious puzzle, but it has been a good day for the site, with both page views and comments approaching record levels!

  21. Thought this puzzle quite difficult but very satisfying once I got any of the answers correct. Favourite clue 17d and I did wonder where the Z would appear. Hotlips hated it!

  22. 5 down one of the few I got, very clever, but I agree that it was a stinker to day

  23. Felt like I did when I first skiied. I got used to going fairly fast down the easier slopes and then tackled a black run. Exhausted, bruised, technique stretched to breaking point, needing help from the instructor I got to the bottom. metimes it’s good to go out of your comfort zone.

  24. I suspected something special was coming up. 26,000 times the average solving time, times the collective thinking of the average number of solvers adds up to quite a bit of brain power expended. And what have we got to show for it? Perhaps the successful solver walks taller or has a more positive outlook.

  25. Clever crossword but found it difficult. Thought 14d solution was ‘initiates’ so that led to problems!

    1. Jane
      I can see how ‘initiates’ fits the clue pretty well perfectly, so it was just your bad luck to complete that clue before you had any checking letters to make you suspect that it was wrong.

  26. Very interesting puzzle. I very rarely do the DT crossword as, dare I say it, I like a bit more of a challenge and so generally get by on a staple diet of Times and Independent.

    Of the 3 puzzles today, this was probably the toughest for me, which is saying something as the Nimrod in the Indy was a beast! Assuming the same setter is responsible for both, he’s given me quite a workout today.

  27. I only managed to solve six clues in a 3-hour period – disaster!

    I have no problem with a crossword like this being set as I appreciate that expert solvers like Big Dave and Tilsit enjoy a good challenge.

    However, there does not seem to be an adequate separation of regular cryptic and Toughie puzzles. Some Toughies are too easy for the expert solver and some regular cryptics are way too hard for the average solver like me.

    How is the decision whether a puzzle is to be a Tougie or Regular Cryptic made?

    1. Nathan

      You omitted Gazza from that list – he often cracks wordplay that has eluded the rest of us.

      As far as the decision on Toughies is concerned, I’ll try and explain. The regular cryptics are submitted by a small team. Toughies are invited from a larger team who submit at irregular intervals. I know of eighteen, four of these also do the regular cryptics. So the answer to your question is that the decision is that of the setter. It is, of course, up to the editor as to whether they get published but he can only select from those that are made available to him.

      1. Should I be upset that I was omitted also?
        Hmm feel a boycott of Friday’s crossword coming on.

  28. Hi Big Dave
    Thanks for your explanation of the Toughie/Regular separation issue.

    A friend of mine who is a much better solver than me says Enigmatist is an even tougher setter than the legendary Reverend John Galbraith Graham – do you agree?

    By the way I would like to thank Gazza for his review of this puzzle. I thought it was outstanding.

    I also send my very best wishes to Tilsit now that he is home from hospital. I always enjoy his reviews of Mr Squires’s Monday puzzle.

    1. NathanJ
      Thanks for your remarks.
      On your question, the Rev Graham is of course Araucaria of the Guardian, and he is now, I believe, in his late eighties and still setting very clever and witty crosswords. In my view his regular crosswords are less difficult than Elgar/Enigmatist, but he occasionally sends in a fiendish one.

  29. On the whole I think very few of us would have completed this crossword without the excellent help provided by Gazza, even then I didn’t understand it all!!

  30. Glad to know other folk found this one difficult.
    Some clever clues nevertheless! I’m kicking myself for not getting ‘on the qt’ or ‘urge on’.

  31. *$&*#%!!! I was on track to complete all the week’s puzzles for the first time ever, until today. It took ages to get going but got nearly all of them, however I had ‘scream’ for 24a which meant I couldn’t get 18d.

    Despite all that I really enjoyed it. A crossword should be a challenge, otherwise what’s the point in doing them?

    Favourite clue was 19a for its neatness (only quibble being that Moses was surely a law-giver rather than a lawmaker).

    1. Andrew
      I did have the same reservation about lawmaker, but a bit of googling threw up several examples of Moses being described as such.

  32. Does anyone have a copy of DT crossword number 25,000?

    I recall that it was not nearly as difficult as 26,000, and had some REALLY unusual answers. One had to abandon all crossword conventions to finish it.

    1. If that is the case then the cryptic crossword numbered 25,000 on CluedUp isn’t it. I just downloaded it and did it. Normal Wednesday fodder. Best clue “Black dog that enjoys the high life” (3-6).

  33. Just got back from holiday, so haven’t been on your site for some time. Relieved that I was not the only one who thought this was a horror! Thought I might have killed off some crossword-solving brain cells with the holiday vino…

  34. Commenting late …

    This was certainly harder than many Telegraph puzzles, but it commemorated the anniversary quite cleverly – with 26 letters in the alphabet, the pangram and answer about the pangram were very appropriate.

    1. You’re right that it commemorated the anniversary well, but I felt the tone of many of the comments was that they were left out of the fun. Difficult to strike a balance, I know.


    1. mary
      Tilsit is doing the review today. If you’re really stuck tell us which clue and I’ll try to help.

        1. mary
          As Dave says the across clues will be up shortly.
          For 12d, “tied” means “wearing a tie” so you don’t want a blue-collar worker.

                  1. I belive you are purely being helpful Gazza … oh dear does that give another….do you think we will be deleted?????

              1. Dave,
                Since these comments are not for 26,000 and Mary now has the answers, you could delete them…..

  35. 12d Another name for management workers
    14a What do you do when you have finished with the phone?

  36. As the setter of the puzzle, may I thank everyone for the input. To mark a number like 26,000, my idea was to do something a little out of the ordinary, but to give plenty of other clues in the quick crossword that accompanied it.

    Yes it was harder than usual, but it wasn’t intended to be, given that there were various hints. I guess you had to notice the number of the puzzle.

    For everyone, here are the compiling steps:

    Grid (the Telegraph has a finite set) was selected because THOUSAND went in at answer 26.

    Then LETTERS OF THE ALPHABET (a group of 26).

    Then DOUBLE at 13ac. (2×13, no-one’s mentioned that).

    Then, all the letters of the alphabet.

    Then realised TWENTY could fit, and then, after email with editor, the clue for PRAXIS was written to incorporate SIX.

    It’s great to have the feedback, for which I thank you all.

    Elgar on Friday is far, far easier, and I never went on “holiday” to avoid you!



    1. John
      Thanks very much for letting us in on how you compiled the puzzle – I, for one, didn’t notice the significance of ‘double’ at 13a.
      You’ll have noticed that contributors were sharply divided on whether they loved it or hated it, but in spite of the number in the latter camp, the ‘enjoyment factor’ still ended up around 3.5.

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