DT 26068 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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DT 26068

Daily Telegraph Cryptic No 26068

A Really Grumpy Old Man writes ……

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BD Rating – Difficulty ** Enjoyment *

I manage to enjoy most puzzles that I solve, but this just left me completely cold. I am sure there are some of you who will have enjoyed this but I just found some of the cluing lazy and lacking any wit or imagination. There are few decent clues there but they are swamped by the dross. I won’t comment on the double unches in the grid as one of my esteemed colleagues will come on and point out they are OK, suffice it to say I do not.

Fortunately there are better Saturday puzzles and I shall seek solace in those. In fact, this puzzle limps a long way behind all of the others. I have no problem with an easier puzzle if the clues are elegantly written (see every Monday in the Telegraph), but most clues here today are uninspired and in a few cases hackneyed. It would be the sort of puzzle I would expect to see in a magazine such as The Puzzler rather than a serious newspaper.


1a    Word of hesitation in record large sum (4)
LUMP – UM (a word of hesitation) inside LP (record). “Large sum” is the definition.

3a    One takes a backward view in it (10)
RETROSPECT – A cryptic definition for viewing things with hindsight.

8a    All the food remains as announced in Warwickshire (8)
NUNEATON – Homophone clues are notoriously dangerous ones to write and this is an example of where it can go wrong. When I pronounce NONE EATEN, it is not the same as the Warwickshire town that is needed here. I am sure that at least 60% of my fellow Brits will be in the same boat.

9a    Avoid backing small school included (6)
ESCHEW – Small = WEE, reversed with SCH for School inside. Avoid is the definition.

10a    Jay’s misplaced hopes for carpenter (6)
JOSEPH – Jay = J + an anagram (shown by misplaced) of HOPES to give the name of the Biblical carpenter. In the first five clues we have had a place name and a first name, Big Dave will be thrilled as well!

11a    Fellow working with a will (8)
EXECUTOR – I have lost count of the number of times I have seen this clue. Most of the time it leads to the answer here. Occasionally a setter tries to make it lead to TESTATOR. Anyway up, if I never saw it again, it would be too soon.

13a    Interjection of annoyance when sacred snug retreat is surrounded (8)
HONESTLY – Probably one of the clues that caused most trouble, I would guess. The setter is trying to say it’s a word for sacred (HOLY) around snug retreat (NEST), but I can’t get it to read that way.

14a    Much bid for (3,3)
THE LOT – A cryptic definition, and a rotten one. If you bid for “much”, you can’t bid for the lot, because much implies there is some left over.

16a    Joined, gently removed cut (6)
SLICED – Joined in nautical terms is SPLICED and “quietly removed” means take the P out of it.

19a    Afro to be incorrect wearing no shoes (8)
BAREFOOT – An anagram (shown by “incorrect”) of AFRO TO BE.

21a    Short distance behind river has included broken part of engine (8)
CAMSHAFT – CAM = river + an anagram of HAS + FT (short distance). I don’t get the surface reading of this clue.

22a    Bird coming from that French 17 down (6)
QUELEA – Today’s word you never knew you never knew. A simple word sum. QUE = “That” (in) French + LEA, the answer to 17 down.

23a    Listen to dance round and see dancing partner (6)
GIGOLO – Another word sum. GIG (dance) + O (“round”)+ LO (see). Two questions. Since the clue is ostensibly about dancing why the need to repeat “dancing”? I think I may have just answered my second clue which was why “Listen to”? I assume the setter is using GIG, which I took to be a dance or function, as a homophone of GIGUE.

24a    Principal route used by Lynne it is reported in US state (4,4)
MAIN LINE – My dislike for clues that contain random names is well-documented. This one is a homophone of Lynne (LIN) inside MAINE (US state). Poor fare.

25a    Lowest possible boulder wild tot in mob removed (4,6)
ROCK BOTTOM – Lowest possible = definition. ROCK = boulder. Add to this anagrams of TOT and MOB (anagrams indicated by wild and removed) My crossword compiling software has over 500 anagram indicators. Removed is not one of them.

26a    Clearly it cannot be seen through in the heat (4)
HAZE – Cryptic definition.


1d    Yearns to see fellow in underwear (4,5)
LONG JOHNS – JOHN (fellow) inside LONGS (yearns)

2d    Choice flower that’s an investment (10,5)
PREFERENCE STOCK – Not a phrase I’d heard of (have heard of preferential stock). Choice = PREFERENCE + STOCK = flower, unusually not a river! The whole is some sort of investment. Do remember your home is at risk if you use dynamite to clear a blocked drain.

3d    Deserter had revolutionary square toothed bar (7)
RATCHET – When you encounter DESERTER in a puzzle, it will usually be looking for the word RAT, as in “desert rat” and “rats deserting a sinking ship”. It is so here, plus another old favourite CHE = revolutionary. Add to this T for square (A T square in geometry).

4d    Skin treatment centre (7)
TANNERY – And another one as old as the hills. A cryptic definition for somewhere where skins or hides are treated.

5d    Make a pig of oneself on the other side each time (7)
OVEREAT – Word sum. “On the other side” = OVER + “EA” = each + T =time.

6d    Moorland photograph includes lake showing perfect fitness (7,2,6)
PICTURE OF HEALTH – A moorland photograph is a PICTURE OF HEATH with L for lake inside. This clue contains a good idea but is spoilt by a definition that gives the clue a slightly odd surface reading. A shame.

7d    Keep tractor perhaps (5)
TOWER – A keep in a castle is a tower, and tractors tow things. Geddit?

12d    No hope of confining surprised expression (3)
OHO – It’s hidden in “No hope”.

15d    Four identical notes about a get-together (4-1-4)
TETE-A-TETE TE four times with A inside

17d    Partly clearing part of the countryside (3)
LEA – Another hidden answer. “Clearing”

18d    Help up then hit up taking nothing from game (7)
DIABOLO – More poor surface reading. Using “Up” twice in one clue as a reversal indicator is dreadful. “Help” (AID) reversed + “hit” (LOB) reversed + O.

19d    One can step on it out of the wet (4,3)
BATH MAT – A cryptic definition for something you find just outside your shower. My how we laughed. Not.

20d    Not right to ask maiden at mass (7)
REQUIEM – Ask = REQUIRE minus R = REQUIE + M (maiden)

21d    Smoke 101 fish (5)
CIGAR – CI = 101 + GAR = fish.

I hope you managed to get more enjoyment out of it than me. See you soon.

16 comments on “DT 26068

  1. Can’t really comment on the puzzle as a whole as I’m not looking at the grid, just reading Tilsit’s comments – and the clues. There are a few chestnuts and bits of dodgy wordplay but it’s the surface readings (or lack thereof) that stand out.
    When a clue’s surface isn’t convincing the immediate response is to not care what the answer is, and that spoils the fun. I don’t particularly like quoting from my own puzzles but, as they’re on my PC, they’re most readily to hand – but that “8mm..” clue in the demo puzzle is a case in point. When it was written I knew it was bending Ximenean rules by not separating “8” and “mm”, but the final clue was so unusual to look at I guessed most solvers wouldn’t mind the minor infraction. It’s by no means a memorable clue, but it’s of a type that will only be seen very rarely and has that “I’d like to see the answer to this” factor.
    Unfortunately the clues here don’t read in a way that intrigues me to want to know the answers. I only hope that newer solvers can gain satisfaction from working out the easier ones.

  2. What’s wrong with double unches? Every answer has at least half its letters interlocking. The first and last letters of each word also interlock. Far more generous than some of the grids used. It is also a pangram.

  3. I simply don’t like them, nor do I see the need for them. I view them as unfair, as, I think, did Ximenes.

    The Times still has a couple of grids with double unches, and the only time I see them in the Independent or Guardian is if something very special is going on.

    I believe that as the Telegraph has almost a special role in bringing new solvers into the cryptic fold, the grids should be as fair as possible.

    I know that my views are not shared by some such as Pete Biddlecombe, but I speak what I believe and I just don’t like ’em.

    Didn’t see the pangram as I’d lost the will to live by the end of the puzzle.

  4. I don’t mind double unches that much, so long as they’re used in moderation. Standard grids use O/O, E/E or E/O templates (see Dave’s crossword guide) but everyone likes variety – once you start playing around with these templates, mixing them up, instances of double unching become almost inevitable. It’s just a shame that some double-unched grids are downright ugly.

  5. I have no dislike of double unches. It seems to me that if you had a series of unusual words with more complex cluing, it may put the solver at a disadvantage. I don’t think that this was the case for last Saturday’s puzzle.

    More generally, I cannot recall looking for an answer and thinking to myself, this is unfair, every other letter has not been supplied from the interlocking answers. Indeed, until the last couple of clues fall into place, any grid is, by its very nature, going to have longer sequences of unsolved letters, so the whole issue is relative.

  6. I’m now going to make myself look really stupid! What on earth is an ‘unch’? Asked Hotlips if he knew, but he, cockney boy that he is, thought it was a 6th sense!

    That apart, we quite enjoyed the puzzle, particularly 17a.

  7. Isn’t 2D ‘PREFERENCE STOCK’ rather than ‘PREFERRED STOCK’? It has to have 10 letters and cross with the ‘E’ of HONESTLY and ‘C’ of SLICED.

    1. Welcome to the blog Mastoni

      You are, of course, correct. Tilsit did say that he had lost the will to live by the end of the puzzle!!

      It’s sorted now.

      1. Thanks Dave. Really enjoy the blog – has reignited my CW interest since stumbling upon it.

        Completed today’s Telegraph puzzle so thought I’d have a crack at the Guardian’s. Oh dear – I’ve a long way to go I fear !

  8. Re 23a:

    I think the setter was trying to use Gig as ‘Sounds like Jig’.
    I don’t often do the Saturday as I usually find it far too easy. With the exception of Nuneaton which I missed this has reminded me not to worry if I miss them.

  9. As a relatively new crossword enthusiast , this post has made me feel a little happier.

    I didn’t find last Saturday’s Telegraph crossword particularly difficult, but there were more than a couple of times where I knew what the answer must be, but it didn’t make sense; such as 13a and 24a, so many thanks to this blog for helping me out

  10. Thank-you – I am new! Just finished today’s but 8a went in without a rational.. which I hate – looking forward to reading why later.

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