DT 26089 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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DT 26089

Daily Telegraph Cryptic No 26089

Hints and tips by Big Dave

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BD Rating – Difficulty *** Enjoyment ***

Tilsit is unable to review today’s puzzle, but he will be back here tomorrow with the Toughie.

When I solved this crossword I quite enjoyed it, but once I sat down to analyse the wordplay I must admit to being less than impressed with a few of the clues. For example most setters try not to use the same indicator twice in a puzzle but here we have “up”, a dubious anagram indicator at the best of times, in two of the across clues.

Leave a comment telling us what you thought. You can also add your assessment by selecting from one to five stars at the bottom of the post. And don’t forget that the answers can be revealed by highlighting the space between the curly brackets.


1a Switch, or ultimately several switches (8)
{REVERSAL} – a word meaning to switch is an anagram (switches) of R (oR ultimately) and SEVERAL

5a Musical pieces — old piano exercises (6)
{OPUSES} – these pieces of music are built up from O(ld) P(iano) and USES (exercises)

10a Gossip — it’s linked with big fibber; belt up! (15)
{FLIBBERTIGIBBET} – a word meaning a gossip is an anagram (up ??!) of IT with BIG FIBBER BELT

11a Incomplete drawing — last in gallery (7)
{SKETCHY} – a word meaning incomplete is built up from a drawing, as a study towards a more finished work, followed by Y (last in gallerY)

12a Wardrobes possibly cost less when unfinished (7)
{CLOSETS} – these wardrobes are for putting things in or for coming out of! – they are an anagram (possibly) of COST LES(S)

13a I lose blasted newspaper inside women’s quarters (8)
{SERAGLIO} – put an anagram (blasted) of I LOSE around a derogatory term for a tabloid newspaper to get the women’s quarters in a Muslim house or palace

15a Am fed up being renowned (5)
{FAMED} – an anagram (up ?? again!) of AM FED fives a word meaning being renowned

18a Dining-room extremely, extremely untidy (5)
{MESSY} – take a dining room for members of the armed forces and add Y (the last letter of / extremely of extremelY) to get a word meaning untidy

20a Hide from foolish person’s family (8)
{GOATSKIN} – a type of hide or animal skin is a charade of a GOAT (foolish person) followed by S (because it’s possessive) and KIN (family)

23a Cheese on toast — especially good portion (7)
{RAREBIT} – this Welsh dish of melted cheese, with or without ale, on hot toast is a charade of RARE (especially good) and BIT (portion)

25a Twin bed held up by ends of wool and tape (7)
{COUPLET} – a synonym for twin is built up from COT around (held) UP and L E (ends of wooL and tapE)

26a One gives points to writers (6,9)
{PENCIL SHARPENER} – a cryptic definition of this gadget for putting a point on a writing implement

27a Recurrent stress (6)
{RHYTHM} – Chambers defines this word as regular recurrence, especially of stress or of long and short sounds – say no more!

28a Envy novel, e.g. B. Rudge (8)
{BEGRUDGE} – a word meaning to envy is an anagram (novel) of E.G. B. RUDGE – one of those love ’em or hate ’em clues!


1d Rubbish match official getting us embittered at first (6)
{REFUSE} – a synonym for rubbish is derived from REF(eree) (match official) US and E (Embittered at first)

2d Mum has no opinion? (9)
{VOICELESS} – a double definition – mum, as in silent and has no opinion, as in doesn’t speak out

3d Girl’s book (7)
{REBECCA} – when Giovanni used ”Book by a tennis champion (4)” last week there were howls of protest – this week’s book is a rite of passage novel by Daphne du Maurier which has one of the most famous opening lines ever – “Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again”

4d Display a river fish (5)
{ARRAY} – a word meaning to display is a charade of A R(iver) and RAY (fish)

6d Put two and two together? (4,3)
{PAIR OFF} – a cryptic definition

7d Son touches wild bear — it could easily hurt you (5)
{SABRE} – start with S(on) and add an anagram (wild) of BEAR and you get a sword, but is “it could easily hurt you” good enough as a definition?

8d Reserve placed on a team (3,5)
{SET ASIDE} – a phrasal verb meaning to reserve or lay by is created by combining SET (placed) and A SIDE (a team)

9d Breeze on a tree (8)
{CINCHONA} – today’s new word is a tree derived from a CINCH (a breeze, as in easy) ON and A

14d Least significant part of grid badly set (8)
{LIGHTEST} – a word meaning least significant is built up from LIGHT (part of grid) and an anagram (badly) of SET – the lights are that part of the crossword grid into which the answers are entered; hence this blog’s tagline “putting the words to lights”

16d Doctors in Milan with newspaperman injected drug (9)
{MAINLINED} – start with an anagram (doctors) of IN MILAN and add ED (EDitor / newspaperman) and you get a word meaning injected a drug into the bloodstream

17d I’m professional with person 50% unsuitable (8)
{IMPROPER} – Tilsit would have described this as a word sum! – I’M + PRO(fessional) + PER(SON) (50% of person) = a synonym for unsuitable

19d Lad turns up with his behaviour initially bad and loutish (7)
{YOBBISH} – take BOY and reverse it (turns up, as it’s a down clue) and add an anagram (bad) of HIS and B (Behaviour initially) to get a word meaning loutish – since the word yob is back-slang for boy this clue lacks inspiration

21d Scotch in one’s cup, perhaps (7)
{SCUPPER} – a word meaning to scotch is hidden inside one’s cup, perhaps

22d Look around very fast (6)
{STARVE} – take STARE (look) and put it around V(ery) to get an enforced fast

24d Before new year, manage to be thin (5)
{RUNNY} – before N(ew) Y(ear) put RUN (manage) and the result is a word meaning thin, as in custard (I hate runny custard!)

25d Long for Conservative party (5)
{CRAVE} – a word meaning to long for is built up from C(onservative) and RAVE (party)

As I said at the beginning, it’s not a bad puzzle at first sight, but then if you spot an anagram a mile off you tend not to worry about the indicator.

24 comments on “DT 26089

  1. Re 28a I am in the hate it camp. If you look at it – its basically an anagram of EGB with RUDGE tacked on at the end. Obviously a lot of thought went into this particular clue.

    1. It’s a pity Barrie is on holiday as I bet he would have loved it. It does have some merit in that the anagram indicator links with Barnaby Rudge.

      1. Dave,
        I did spot the use of novel as the indicator, and also noted the Dickens reference, but still thought that it was so obvious as to be a waste of space in a cryptic crossword. I will be interested to see what other people think.

        1. From my experience of managing an Orkut community on an Indian crossword, solvers don’t like anagram clues where little movement is involved.
          As for myself, I wouldn’t mind it if the clue as a whole is very good.
          I don’t think that 28a can be classified as too good a clue.

      2. With Barrie here, I loved it too, i like some of the obvious ones, makes life a little easier, i got stuck on quite a few of the down clues today but have completed with a little phone help from my brother who had finished, thanks once again Dave

  2. Not too excited about this. Got 10a from some of the checked letters, realised that “up” must be an anagram indicator (it seems any word will do these days!), so was able to do 15 a.

    Learned a new word in 9d.

    Nothing more to say!

  3. From my experience with an Orkut group on an Indian crossword, discerning solvers do not like the same anagram indicator being used twice in a puzzle.

  4. I wasn’t very keen on this but can’t quite figure out why, I think 23a and 26a have to vie with the vote for the easiest clue ever which was mentioned either yesterday or the day before. I did like 4d and 16d .

  5. Didn’t like 14d. where is the reference to light in this clue ?
    9d I think the setter has scanned his encyclo for obscure trees
    pretty abysmal puzzle although I enjoyed 10a

      1. What is a “light”?

        D. St. P. Barnard in his Anatomy of the Crossword (G. Bell and Sons, 1963) writes: ” ‘Light’ is an old English word which simply means a clue or suggestion.” That was where I first met this word in the given sense. Despite that quote, further reading suggests that what the author means by light is the word that goes into any slot in the grid. He also uses the term “pattern-light”. He mentions that a letter shared by a horizontal word and a vertical word is known as crosslight and goes on to add that, as often as not, the word ‘crosslight’ is applied to either letter or square.

        Alec Robins in his work Teach Yourself Books: Crosswords (Hodder and Stoughton, 1975) alludes to the Chambers Dictionary definition of “light’ as a “hint, clue or keyword” and talks at length of the origin of “lights” from the acrostic (briefly mentioned by Barnard) and suggests that the word be banished from crosswords circulation. Robins concludes: “If for some reason it should still be considered necessary, then its intended meaning on each occasion ought to be made perfectly clear.”


        Oh say what’s that thing called light?

    1. I hadn’t known about lights in a crossword grid. I took the clue to mean part of an electrical grid or circuit (have been helping, or hindering, my children with their science homework).
      I liked a lot of the crossword for the fluency of the surface readings. I understand the quibbles; but I was doing it late last night after a long, long day and maybe how you judge a crossword depends on the circumstances in which you solve it?

  6. Leaving to one side the use of “UP” as an anagram indicator (perhaps Anax could comment on its usage?), there were some good clues in here and it was relatively straightforward and pleasant. My favourites were 2d and 22d. The answer to 9d was clear from the cluing but a new word for me.

    In relation to the dreaded anagram indicator, It feels as though the setter (and apologies to him or her if this is wrong) found that the phrases “belt up” and “fed up” fitted the surface readings and so plumped for UP as an anagram indicator on this basis as “broken up”, which would have been a more conventional indicator, would have not have fitted the clue.

  7. Well 10a was a new word to me so needed every available cross letter to figure it out. 9d seemed the only possibility after that but had to look it up to be sure. I’m fine with cricket but plant clues always fill me with dread.

    Enjoyed the first 2/3rds of the puzzle but struggled to finish the centre and was unsatisifed when I finally did.

    Favourite was 26a. I didn’t put 28a in at first as I thought I must be missing something.

  8. Thanks to Big Dave for covering for me. A combination of hospital appointments and flood alerts conspired against me. I’m pleased to say the floods have abated a bit, and mean that the roads are open again.

    There were a few bright moments in today’s puzzle, but I’m afraid I found some of the clues a bit on the poor side.

    Incidentally you may like to know that Percy Shaw invented cats’ eyes when he was driving at night.and a feline approached and the reflection gave him an idea. Had the cat been walking the other way, he’d have invented the pencil sharpener!

  9. Well I’ve done it and can’t say I enjoyed it much. Thought the best clue was 10a even though it took me until I go 1d to work it out.

    Took an elderly friend to the hospital for some tests and had time to sit with it. For ages I had scales as the answer for 5a. That of course meant a delay in getting 6d and 7d. Once I put in 10a I was okay.

    Didn’t like several of them – 9d, 16d, 23a, 28a and so on.

    Hope tomorrow is better.

  10. A real mixed bag today, with a number of easier answers, (possibly too obvious), but also a number of more challenging and interesting clues. Favourites 13a, 20a and 2d.

    Must admit a strong dislike of the use of “up” as an anagram indicator.

    Thanks Big Dave for the review.

  11. Managed all except 9D and 27A before I had to seek help from your Hints & Tips.
    Wasn’t sure about 5a at first as I thought the plural was opera, from my recollection of O-level Latin back in the sixties!

  12. Quite agree folks a bit of a varied bag. “Cinchona” is a new one one me and disappointed I did not get “seraglio”. If the aim was to teach us some new words this was a winner for me!

  13. I didn’t mind this, finished all but 2 without help. Got 14a but didn’t know why I was assuming light was referring to National Grid and just thought it was a dodgy clue. I now see that its fair enough if a little obscure for me! I agree with others that that 28a was a bit of a cop out clue. I thought 9d was a bit obscure and needed a crossword finisher to find it but did then recognise the tree.

    However on the plus side I thought there were some good clues 10a – I knew the word but had to look up how to spell it. I thought 21d was quite neat as was 26a. On the whole I thought it was quite good and cannot be too critical. Thank you setter.

  14. I quite liked this puzzle and was able to complete it without any help. However, didn’t understand the word play in 14d until I read the explanation in this blog. 9d was my last clue solved as I had never heard of a CINCHONA.

    Thanks to Big Dave for the review and thanks also to today’s setter. Does anyone know who it was?

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