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DT 26101

Daily Telegraph Cryptic No 26101

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

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

Tilsit escaped from the Calderdale Colditz this morning and should be back with you tomorrow.

Surely no one other than Elgar could have set this puzzle [I was wrong, this is not by Elgar]. I found it to be a mix of good and bad clues, some of which seem out of place in a daily cryptic. I’m sure you will all have your favourites and your pet hates. Personally I did today’s Toughie in about half of the time I spent on this one.

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.


1a Get rid of two animals with a tine possibly (11)
[ASSASSINATE} – two identical animals at that ! – add an anagram (possibly) of A TINE to get a word meaning to get rid of an important person

9a Time waster hiding on bridle-road (5)
[IDLER} – this time water is hiding inside bridle-road

10a Fixers concerning two chaps (9)
{REPAIRMEN} – here we have people who fix things that are broken – a charade of RE (concerning) PAIR (two) and MEN (chaps)

11a Heaving drunk returned to croon (7)
{TOSSING} – a word meaning heaving, in the sense of throwing from side to side, is derived from SOT (drunk) reversed and a word meaning to croon

12a The sanctimoniousness of Matins is doubtful (8)
{SAINTISM} – this little used word meaning sanctimoniousness is an anagram (doubtful) of MATINS IS

14a Not out to note holiday bonus (8)
{INTEREST} – this is a charade of IN (not out) TE (note) and REST (holiday) and it results in the premium paid on an investment (is that really a bonus?)

15a Star animal’s not acting (4)
{BEST} – start with BE(A)ST and remove the A (acting in the sense of performing a duty on a temporary basis) but while best can be used interchangeably with star (best player, star player) this answer did not come immediately to mind

17a Vermouth for two men from Rome, presumably (7)
{ITALIAN} – well, well, well – as long as you haven’t already forgotten Monday’s puzzle this sweet vermouth should be easy to get, which is more than I can say for the rest of the wordplay which leaves me cold at the moment – why did it not just say “Vermouth from Rome, presumably”? [It seems I got the definition confused with the wordplay, but I still think that it’s poor when part of the wordplay is also the answer.  When I met Micawber a few months ago he told me that a charade should only contain words that were not related to the answer, and today we have this one and ITEM-ISE at 23a]

19a Small group visits Rio after tour starts (4)
{TRIO} – this small group is formed by putting RIO after T (Tour starts) – so Easy that I thought at first it must be wrong

20a With fellow missing excitedly clears off outside (8)
{ALFRESCO} – an anagram (exitedly) of CLEARS OF(F) without the F (fellow missing) gives a word meaning outside in the open air

ARVE Error: need id and provider

The song where Alfresco rhymes with Tesco!

21a Diminutive person Nina’s fine female at heart but very loud at the end (8)
{NIFFNAFF} – as I write this I can hear the howls of protest! – start with NINA and insert F(ine) and F(emale), then add FF (fortissimo / very loud) and the answer is a word that I had never heard before meaning a diminutive person – more appropriate to a Toughie than a daily puzzle??

23a Specify matter is at last complete (7)
{ITEMISE} – a word meaning to specify is constructed from ITEM (matter) IS and E (at last completE) – since what is being specified is a list of items I thought this was a weak charade

25a Register Tom with a record half-blue (9)
{CATALOGUE} – this register is another charade, this time run together TOM (cat) A LOG (a record) and (BL)UE (half-blue)

26a She was pleasant over everything initially (5)
{NIECE} – she is a female relative, somewhat loosely defined, and you find her by putting NICE (pleasant) around (over) E (Everything, initially)

27a XX (6-5)
{DOUBLE-CROSS} – one of the shortest cryptic definitions I can remember seeing


2d Woman graduate from the Yemen (5)
{SHEBA} – SHE (woman) and BA (graduate) together give this former territory, famous for its Queen, which is now, allegedly, part of Yemen

3d In opposition to a giant’s crazy acts (7)
{AGAINST} – a word meaning in opposition to is an anagram (crazy acts ??) of A GIANT’S

4d Even less than a flush (8)
{STRAIGHT} – if you don’t play poker then this one may be difficult – a flush is a hand containing only cards from a single suit while a straight contains cards in a contiguous sequence – I thought my initial answer of sprinkle was much better, pity it doesn’t fit with the checking letters!

5d Uniformly vague note is relative (4)
{AUNT} – if you’ve been reading recent reviews then you would have immediately spotted that the alternate letters (uniformly) of vAgUe NoTe spell out a relative

6d Scientist of the naughty Nineties! (8)
{EINSTEIN} – one of the world’s foremost scientists is an anagram (naughty) of NINETIES

7d Change fourth dimension within height-measuring instrument (9)
{ALTIMETER} – take ALTER (change) and insert the generally acknowledge fourth dimension. TIME, and you have a height-measuring instrument – to understand the concept of a fourth dimension, think of a missile fired to intercept a fighter aircraft; to succeed the missile must not only have the same three-dimensional coordinates as the target, but must be there at the same time!!

8d Intimidate cook ‘X’, audibly unwell (8,3)
{FRIGHTEN OFF} – a word meaning to intimidate is a sort of homophone (audibly) of FRY TEN, followed by OFF (unwell) – as Rishi mentions below, the subsidiary indicator “audibly” is detached from “cook”, the word to which it applies

12d Advance payments surrounding HQ depots which convert electricity (11)
{SUBSTATIONS} – the advance payments, usually against wages, are SUBS; put these around STATION (HQ? – maybe at a pinch) to get depots which convert electricity (into what?  blue cheese perhaps – this shows the danger of looking up something in the dictionary without understanding it as it is the voltage that is converted, not the electricity)

13d Mega-military person of great courage (7)
{MILLION} – we all know that a million bytes (approx) make a megabyte, the rest is a charade of MIL(itary) and LION (person of great courage)

16d More tight consuming English Navy’s strong drink (9)
{STIFFENER} – put STIFFER (more tight) around E(nglish) N(avy) to get a stiff drink – see my earlier comments on elements of wordplay being related to the answer

17d Unpublished diet I end emphatically (8)
{INEDITED} – a little-known word meaning unpublished, or not edited, is an anagram (emphatically) of DIET I END

18d Display skeleton, for example, as a body in flight (8)
{AIRFRAME} – a charade of AIR (display) and FRAME (skeleton, for example) gives the body of an aircraft

19d Oven has brown hatchway (7)
(TANDOOR} – this oven is a charade of TAN (brown) and DOOR (hatchway)

22d Obstructs talking chickens, for instance (5)
{FOULS} – here a word meaning obstructs sounds like (talking) FOWLS (chickens, for instance)

24d Material became crumpled in the middle (4)
{ECRU} – this material crops up a lot in crosswords because it is one of a few that fit certain checking letters, and the only one that fits today’s EC?U – it’s hidden inside (in the middle)  became crumpled

Having now finished the review I can say that my initial impression is unchanged – some good clues, some bad ones and others that are downright ugly.

65 comments on “DT 26101

  1. Dave,
    I really enjoyed it – it was an eclectic challenge. 19a why was it in the DT cryptic crossword? Whilst 27a although not overly complicated I liked it.

  2. My thoughts turned to Elgar as well – I had a lot of blank staring and head scratching before finally getting it. Not finished the Toughie yet but will not comment here!.

    Re: 15a – I agree it is pushing a little bit
    17a – Laughed when I saw it! I read it as IT/AL/IAN
    21a Got it but don’t understand it!

    Favourites were 12d and 13d as well as 1a (If only because I spent far too long trying to think of two different animals.
    Very Hard but enjoyable at the last.

      1. I read it as VERMOUTH=IT as in gin and it, TWO MEN=AL and IAN, and the definition as MEN FROM ROME, PRESUMABLY. but I don’t like it, and I see that Chambers says the in this usage IT is an abbreviation for Italian vermouth, so your comment still holds good.

        Harry Shipley

      2. Vermouth is the IT in Gin and It, then two men gives someone from Rome presumably (an Italian)

      3. I suppose this makes sense if the setter (like many of us) did not know that the ‘it’ in Gin and It was short for Italian. Otherwise it seems a bit slapdash.

        Of course I messed up completely and kept thinking of Bourbon instead, which did not exactly help matters.

  3. Oh dear just about to start but it looks as though i’m in for a hard time today – see u later ……………….much later!!!! :(

    1. Just spent an hour on it and getting nowhere fast – 12 clues so far & now ground to a halt. Trying to resist looking above!! I actually liked 17a (perhaps because I got ‘it’ straight away!) also 25a – thought 19a a bit lame. I’ll keep trying – good luck Mary!

      1. I’m still at it Claire back & fore about to give up still got 6 left to do!! Yes i got 17a stright away remembering it from Mondays…hope u r better today??

  4. I liked solving this crossword. I was intrigued by 27a, which I would classify as an illustrative clue. For, a cryptic clue must have a definition for word required, which I think is missing here.

    The Down clue with a single X too draws the solver’s attention, but this is not so good for the reason that “audibly unwell” (after the comma) in surface reading does not make sense and the homophone is that of the preceding words cook ‘X’ and even here the sound alike is only from ‘cook’ (frigh/fry), X giving ten straightaway.

  5. I had a feeling that we were due our monthly Elgar. Although this was a fair bit easier than his previous outing on the back pages, it was by no means a walk in the park. With 21a, I simply followed the instructions in the clue and hoped that the resulting word was not double dutch!

    Favourite clue was 27a but I also liked 11a, 6d, 7d and 16d.

  6. I could hardly do any of this. Thought at first that, having just been burgled (Merry Christmas!), my brain wasn’t functioning properly. Was reassured that BD also rated it high for difficulty and found some of the clues pretty mind-boggling.

    Of what I managed to do, I enjoyed 25a and 6d and was chuffed to work out 27a, though I started out thinking it was twenty-something. Why on earth did 17a mention two men? Having now read your helpful blog, BD, I didn’t think much of 12a and loathed 21a. Am now going to have another go at the downs. :-)

  7. enjoyed this apart from 21a. I got it from the wordplay but the nearest definintion I could find was afro-carribian slang meanig riff-raff! where did you find your definition? Re 17a doesn’t the It come from vermouth and the meaning is from rome?

  8. I found an explanation for 21a on the internet saying it was an old Northumbrian word meaning diminutive, I have lived in the area for the last 58 years and never heard anyone say he’s a bit n***n***.
    By this reasoning can they now use words like Oddbodkins and alarum and prithee ?

    1. We also found a word from Yorkshire defining it as “A Trifle” – Presumably a trifling thing – gets closer in stature but doesnt really relate to a Diminuitive Person as such.

        1. I realise that Chambers is the bible but I get fed up when a good discussion always seems to be stopped in its tracks by the words ” Its in Chambers”. I think it should be used sparingly like the guillotine in parliament.
          Anyway I am off to Carcassonne for a week without my laptop, I will have to buy the DT at infliated prices and a day late. It gives a me a chance to calm down and get some real food and drink for a short while.

          1. Have a great time Nubian. :-) I do agree that we should have half a chance of knowing a word without resorting to Chambers (which incidentally I don’t have!)

            1. Thanks for that Claire, I don’t have Chambers either. I consider crosswords to be a flexible puzzle that can be done anywhere and not just sat at home with all the ref books you need.

              1. If only it was that simple for all of us Nubian, now for someone like my brother who has been doing these for almost 40 yrs and completed this one without any reference books in just over half an hour it is, but for others like myself who are as i’ve said before ( and refer to each other as the ‘clueless club’ ) it is a learning curve and six months down the line to be able to complete these puzzles even with all the aids going is an achievement, i live in the hope that one day i might be able to complete one without but until then i continue to use the aids available to me i.e. chambers crossword dictionary, electronic thesaurus and sometimes google online dictionary, i do not feel guilty about this, it is all about enjoying it on a personal level, most days i am having fun, especially with this marvellous blog to help out and comment on, i can at least now understand the clues most of the time even if i need help to get the answers, so yes it would be lovely to be able to just pick up a paper and solve without any aid but i am afraid that day is a long way away for me and i suspect many others :)

  9. Had a good laugh at 17a following Mondays blog( a compiler with a sense of humour though I think he lost the plot slightly when figuring how to clue it )
    Never heard of 21a and the only references seem to be based around inanimate trivia as opposed to an actual being.
    Favourites were 8d and 12d

  10. In my opinion, if you remove the first half of the answer to 21a, that just about sums up this puzzle!!!

    Yes “niffnaff” is in the dictionary, but you’d have to know the word to look for it. And with such a contrived clue, how do you work out what word to look for??

    There are too many other clues to moan about to be bothered!!

  11. By far the toughest this week, and it took me some time to finally complete the bottom left corner.
    Unlike some others, I actually relish the use of X or XX and similar in cryptics, whether it be roman numerals or the need for lateral thinking as in 27a.
    Had to check in Chambers for confirmation of 21a.
    No real favourites, but a few disliked ~ particularly 15a and 13d.

  12. I was astonished to see claims that this was an Elgar puzzle, not in my book. Too many duff clues there for my liking, which was a shame as there were some nice efforts in there too.

    I am often told by setters that the first clue should be something of a blockbuster as it sets the tone for the rest of the puzzle. Today’s 1 across doesn’t come anywhere close to that.

    There’s an interesting debate on The Crossword Centre Message Board about the use of “over” as in 26 across.

  13. Hmm. Never heard of 21a (neither had my dictionary). The fact that I didn’t have 22d didn’t help either. Apart from that it was pretty straightforward.

  14. Well after working my ay through that I think a VERY large whiskey is called for.

    Definitely in the top notch of difficulty which for some will detract from the enjoyment.

    Some excellent clues but as in 21a some that may be called “royally naff”. I am unconvinced that dredging up answers to fit the grid is a good policy. There will be those I know that disagree with that statement, but what person would normally have in their vocabulary the words “niffnaff” and inedited. These only serve to deter the CC members, which should be avoided.

    Am I happy with the crossword. Happy to have finished it, but unhappy with the way in which it was constructed and the effects on learners, if I may call them that. In other words this was a Toughie and even then a diff. Toughie.

  15. We finished this and found it was easier than yesterday’s. I agree that some of the clues were really odd. I like to learn new words, but ‘niffnaff’ may be of little use.

  16. Am late to it today and have just read the comments before downloading it from clued up. Not sure I will bother as have to get my overseas presents wrapped and ready for posting. Will wait and see how I feel later.

    Interesting blog.

  17. Bizarrely, it seems, found it easier than yesterday’s. Thought it was quite fun.

  18. Did this quite easily..even though some answers came more from intuition rather than any logic! Had to come to the blog to find out about a couple. I liked 27a!

  19. I have been doing the DT crossword ever since I found a pile of old papers outside my attic room in Oxford when I should have been revising for finals. Otherwise I might have got a second (or a fourth?).
    Over the years I have often managed to fight my way through to the end, but since discovering this blog, something has definitely gone “click”. Thank you.

  20. Sorry if I am always negative but 15a a=acting is a bit much for me. Can compilers used the first letter of any word? A little too difficult for me , I needed too many hints to kick-start my efforts. If I was faced with this without the help of the blog I would have abandoned it a few hours ago with less than half the clues solved.

    1. Terry

      No they can’t use any initial letter as an abbreviation – I did explain this one, and there is usually a context from which the abbreviation comes – O.S. maps, chess, etc.

  21. Whew – if i was a drinker i would pour myself a nice large something or other right now, this was exhausting and i think i must be hooked to stick at it :) i have been back & fore to this crossword all morning and have only just finished but still could not get 2d, 15a and 16d, there was no way i was going to get 21a, it was the only thing that would fit there in the end!!
    How are you doing Claire, hope you haven’t had a relapse :) I am now going to read through the blog to try & understand it all, thanks Dave ……… Barrie how are you doing ot daren’t i ask …… a real stinker for us CC members today

    1. No relapse – feeling better thanks, back to work tomorrow. No better with the crossword though! Like you I have been back & forth to it all day – finally admit defeat on the last few. Got 2d but had to look it up as I’d never heard the word before. 21a is crazy and not in my dictionary so no way I’d have got it. Also failed on 10a, 7d, 15a, 16d Oh well – we’ll see what tomorrow brings. Thought I might try the toughie after Dave’s comment, but first look through suggests I don’t stand a chance!!

    2. I think someone at the DT is trying their level best to send readers to another newspaper. Last week and so far this week, we have had some of the toughest crosswords I can remember. This is probably the worst of the bunch! A REAL STINKER!! ABSOLUTELY HORRIBLE.. WHY OH WHY CANT THEY KEEP THIS SORT OF THING FOR THE TOUGHIE AND LEAVE THE REST OF US WITH A PLEASENT PASTIME. I AM SERIOUSLY BEGINNING TO HATE THE DT!!!

  22. Oops – just checked the explanations and realised I got 2d wrong after all (had Shema) … and it was so easy!

  23. I thought there were some pretty dodgy clues – all previously mentioned but I got further with this than some – finished all but 6 without resorting to any aids.

    With regard to 17a I read it as “It” being vermouth, Al and Ian were the two men – Simple! I think that the setter didn’t realise that It stood for Italian, which we all knew following Monday’s blog – I was listening to you all and remembered!

  24. Yes, ‘niffnaff’ was the one that stumped us! But, as they say: ‘it’s in Chambers’.
    This was more of a toughie, but enjoyable (in the long run)..

  25. 21 a was unfair, and while i got the rest i thought the language of too many clues was so ambiguous it lost some of the enjoyment

  26. I rather enjoyed this puzzle. I like clues such as 21a where I have never heard of the answer but I can arrive at the solution from the wordplay. I find that they stick in my mind and I’m ever optimistic that if by chance I get on “Who Wants to be a Millionaire?”, one or more of the big bucks answers will be “Lanyard”, “Trireme”, “Tarantella”, (type of hat, cheese, insect or dance?), or now, dare I say it, “Niffnaff”?

    Favourite clues – 21a, 27a, 7d, 16d.

  27. Yes indeed – 21a. I’m no spring chicken, and I have only ever come across that in the context of “…and trivia”, never as a reference to the vertically challenged. Really think that’s a bit of a no-ball if I’m honest. Still, if things were easy everyday, we’d probably all be playing Nintendo. They very thought….

  28. Got the paper late and came straight to the blog. Surely the cryptic and the toughie have been switched again?!? Well written xwrd, but far too obscure. Mary… think you should have a little drink after this one. Tilsit… hope you’re well. Nubian… enjoy your week. BD… excellent review as always and Barrie… couldn’t have put it better.

  29. Well it wasn’t as bad as I expected. Mind you the only way I could come up with 21a was through the word play and all the f’s in it. I liked 27a – need help with 8d – brain didn’t work for it. Not my favourite xword but it was okay.

  30. On looking at the comments above, I find it a shame to read so many negative posts, complaining about how difficult the DT cryptic is. I am by no means an expert, but compared to some of the other daily newspapers I consider the DT to set a mostly fair and solveable crossword for the average solver. In my opinion a cryptic crossword is not supposed to be a 2 minute exercise, but a challenging test for one to get into the mindset of the compiler. Some days the DT cryptic is harder than others, but never totally unfathomable. Just my humble opinion…….

  31. We thought this was reasonably straightforward compared with Monday and Tuesday. Must have been on the same wavelength as the setter…
    Agreed that Niffnaff was a rubbish one. Almost as bad as flibbertigibbet a few weeks ago.

  32. Broadband down yesterday so had no recourse to the hints. Finally completed it after battling most of the evening. Tough but enyoyable

  33. Did not think this was tough only weird in parts.
    Station is under HQ in my very originial Chambers Thesaurus – probably a police term?
    My favourite was 4d – I played a lot of poker long ago.
    Good laugh at 17a (barman still fresh in mind) and also 27a.

  34. Just for the record (because I get the schedules): this wasn’t by Elgar (and it wasn’t by me either).

  35. I do, or I should say I attempt, the cryptic in The Daily Gleaner here in Kingston, Jamaica everyday. It was only when I googled a particularly frustrating clue a few weeks ago that I ended up finding this site and realising that it’s the Daily Telegraph puzzle that they use. I certainly hope they have permission lol. I would certainly miss it. Unfortunately though we’re almost 200 puzzles behind so for example today I will be tackling No. 26,102. As a result I’m not able to comment in real time with the rest of you folks but I must say how much I enjoy this site and how helpful the hints are. It is refreshing to actually have an explanation for a clue you couldn’t figure out rather than having to try and work it out yourself from the answer the next day. Maybe I will try and sign up for the online version soon so I’m not so far behind. Thanks Dave for starting this site. I’m a huge fan!

  36. Pleased to see the comment from Aliya. We expats in Canada also get the DT crosswords months late – apparently even later in the Canadian “National Post” than in the Kingston “Daily Gleaner” – but we often visit this site when we get stuck. We always feel frustrated that we can’t join in with our twopennyworth of comment, especially today re NIFFNAFF; our bible is not Chambers but the Concise Oxford, which was no help. But we ‘ll be ready when this word appears again, which we hope it will do. It would be such a shame to waste it.

    1. Hi Cherry – welcome to the blog.
      Feel free to comment on the puzzles, even though they’re a few months old for us. Do you read Falcon’s reviews of the Telegraph puzzles?

  37. Hi Gazza:
    Thanks… No, we don’t read Falcon’s reviews – where do we find them?

    1. Cherry
      There is a link above in the right-hand panel under Crossword Blogs – look for “National Post Cryptic Crossword Forum”

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