DT 26151 – Hints – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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DT 26151 – Hints

Daily Telegraph Cryptic No 26151 – Hints

Big Dave’s Saturday Crossword Club

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BD Rating – Difficulty ** Enjoyment **

Next Saturday Tilsit and I plan to be in the White Horse on Parson’s Green between the hours of 11.00am and 7.00pm. Feel free to join us there for some or all of the time. If the last session is anything to go by then you can also expect to meet some or all of Elgar, Jetdoc, Notabilis, MynoT and Derek Harrison. For Listener fans, there will be a large contingent of setters and others connected with that puzzle. I’ll try and get a more accurate idea by next Saturday

That’s the interesting bit. Today’s Prize puzzle offered very little. Both of the enjoyment stars were earned by 16 across.

Don’t forget that you can give your assessment of the puzzle. Five stars if you thought it was great, one if you hated it, four, three or two if it was somewhere in between.

As is usual for the weekend prize crosswords, I will select a few of the better clues and provide hints for them. A full review of this puzzle will be published on Thursday, 4th February.


1a    Ham awkward to carve (7)
Ham in this context is something someone does on the stage and awkward tells you that it is an anagram of TO CARVE

16a    Drink enjoyed by hypochondriac one hears (9)
My one and only favourite today – this fizzy French wine sounds like something that a hypochondriac might enjoy (4,4)

24a    New books on churchyard having indentations (6)
A slightly unconventional word-sum: put together abbreviations for new, books of the bible, church and yard to get a word meaning having indentations or nicks – the use of words like Birkenhead to indicate B is considered incorrect by many purists so what would they make of churchyard indicating abbreviations of church and yard?

29a    Change one’s habit, that’s the remedy (7)
The first, cryptic, part of this double definition means to put clothes on again

2d    Sound container in larynx (5,3)
Even Mrs BD got this one, and she doesn’t do cryptic puzzles!

4d    Happen to arrive at the mountain route (4,2,4)
Be careful with the tense – the clue says happen not happened

6d    Leaving second book (6)
… of the Old Testament

18d    Same ship coming to prominence (8)
The use of “coming to” as an anagram indicator fooled me for at least 5 seconds!

20d    Our imprisoned heart (7)
Another construct that will annoy some and defeat many: put OUR inside a slang term for a prison to get a word meaning heart, as in bravery

26d    Single night, only part of it, spent in valley (4)
When part of the first two words is spent, as in wasted, you are left with a valley

The Saturday Crossword Club will open at 10.00 am (after Sounds of the Sixties on BBC Radio 2). Membership is free and open to all. Feel free to leave comments or ask questions before that time.

Please don’t put whole or partial answers in your comment, else they may be censored!

131 comments on “DT 26151 – Hints

  1. Agree completely with Big Dave on this one. A poor puzzle – made worse by the fact that 23 down is ambiguous and needs a correct solution at 25 to solve it.

    20 down is just dreadful, unless it is unfinished.

    1. 23d – Its my last one today and I can’t understand what its going on about. Any hint appreciated. Neil.

      1. Hi Neil, you are looking for a word meaning ‘most uninteresting’ made up of ‘ride’ changed around i.e. ‘rough’ with an abbreviation for ‘ a good man’

        1. If I had a £ for everytime the word Doh! came in my head… Thanks Mary – it has just fallen on me.

  2. For me this was not one of Cephas’s better puzzles. I found some of the surface readings unconvincing (eg 10a. 28a) and some clues too thinly disguised (2a, 13a). There were others that, whilst not difficult, were much more convincing like 9a and 14d. I agree with your comments on 24a and 20d.

    1. well done again Prolixic on coming 3rd in COW, i didn’t do so well this time but one of my clues was called ‘memorable’ :)

    2. I rather liked 20d! but totally agree with comments on 24a – an awful clue and silly word – surely having indentations would be *****ed? Anyway a good, accessible puzzle for us CCs and my favourite, like many of you was 16a.
      If possible can someone explain 5d – I’m sure it can’t be as obvious as what I have.

        1. 5d Excuse uncertain pleasure (4)

          Excuse is the definition and “uncertain” means to remove a word meaning certain from the last word. Dreadful construct, and yes, it is that easy!

              1. Peter
                7d. Bound to be appreciative (7)
                It’s a double definition. – the first meaning “duty bound”, the second a formal way of saying thank you as in “I’m very ******* to you”.

  3. I totally agree with the previously-posted comments and thought that I had stumbled into a general knowledge crossword when looking at 2d and 13a. Are we certain that Cephas is the compiler this week?

        1. I did publish details back in December, and will again on the day. Fortunately my sister lives not far away so I will be spending the nights before and after with her.

          1. “Of all the gin joints, in all the towns, in all the world.”

            Silly coincidence. The White Horse is just 2.5 miles away from the house I’ve just helped to buy for my stepson in Earlsfield.

            Sadly too little notice for me. If that is a regular haunt, perhaps next time.

  4. I agree with the general comments above, I finished today’s in record time (for me) but some of the clues were poor and the answers were ambiguous, one or two I felt could have had more than one solution.

    28a I’m sure that I’ve got the right answer, and I understand the first and middle part but not the last part. Can anyone enlighten me? Many thanks

      1. Apologies, Paul. Hit Post Comment before I realised you only needed last bit.

        Big Dave. is there no post edit on here (apart from your goodself)?

        1. This facility is not provided by WordPress.com, but we try to make any changes that are requested (I’m not the only one with that access).

  5. I thought 13a particularly poor, as Caravaggio says, more general knowledge than puzzel! Still, a good one for Barrie I hope.

  6. I agree generally with the comments made above, and also feel that 16a was one of today’s few saving graces!
    With reference to 5d, is the use of “uncertain” to remove a synonym from “pleasure” an acceptable means of clueing? Whilst not difficult to determine the answer, I thought it was perhaps stretching things somewhat! :smile:

    1. As I mentioned above, certain constructs are frowned on by purists and others love them. Today’s queries include uncercertain, churchyard and imprison. Your opinions, expressed here, could influence future puzzles, so have your say!!

    1. On another site I have seen 8d described as an anagram of IT + EARLY. This is incorrect as the wordplay demands that the I and T be inside the answer word, contiguous and in that order.

      1. I must be misunderstanding something here! In my answer to 8d the I and T are in that order and next to each other and within the answer word. Do I have an incorrect answer?

        1. I think if you read again you will see that you are precisely correct. What I was trying to put over was that this construct is an insertion into an anagram, but don’t worry about it!

        2. Probably not. The setter has given you IT as a freebie and you want an anagram (development) of EARLY around it.

  7. Thank you, I have been enjoying your blog for several weeks now. Previously I was only ever able to do about half the crossword, now I get close to finishing more often than not. You have hugely increased my crossword enjoyment. Thank you!

    Still can’t get first part of 10 though, despite your hint!

          1. Thanks for this – I get it now – doh! Like Matthew I am fairly new to your blog, but it is great and I have gone from having a few unanswered clues to finishing it on occasions.

    1. Matthew (and others)

      If you click on reply for the comment to which you are referring, it keeps the thread together. Today it didn’t matter, but sometimes you get a number of comments between.

  8. I think or hope Barrie will like todays, i liked 3d but did not get it straight away, what makes me feel quite useless somedays is that everybody else finds it so easy, admittedly there were some ‘general knowledge clues’ there but some still took quite a bit of working out for me, nevertheless, i finished it in good time, thanks once again Dave and thank you setter for one for the CC :)

    1. Mary – can you explain to me what CC stands for please. Keep seeing it being referred to in the comments. (How do I manage to do cryptic crosswords {sometimes} you are no doubt saying!!)

      1. Hi Medlar, it is just a very select club on Big Daves website for us not quite so clever members who need lots of help and encouragement to enable us to sove these crosswords, the CC stands for ‘clueless club’ :) membership is open to anyone who cares to call themselves clueless!! seriously it is just a bit of fun and makes us feel better about ouselves when we see there are quite a few of us out there, we exist entirely at Daves discretion of course :) I cant quite remember who used the term first but we have kept it going – welcome

          1. where is Tom Tom now? surely he wasn’t so clueless that he gave up?

            Cant wait for the surprise Dave, is it today??

        1. Thank you Mary – does one have to be invited to join (I certainly have all the qualifications!!)

          1. not at al Medlar you are very welcome, see Big Daves new twitter for CC members at the top of the page :) we now can have our own say without feeling too stupid as well as join in on this blog as usual

  9. Happy Saturday – finished this in record time for me and only hesitated on 10a (first word) – second was easy. Can’t say anything stood out for me but 6d was bearable. I definitely did not like 24a.

    Hope Barrie found this more to his taste.

  10. I thought this was one of the best crosswords I have done. Esp loved 16a, very clever and made me laugh. Well done to the compiler. Given that I finished this over breakfast, I am still left to wonder at being unable to even start a Giovanni! :-(

    1. it is just a phsycological thing now Barrie, they are tough and I need loads of help, i think its also a case of have you got the time and the inclination :)

      1. Barrie

        I am at a loss as to how you can work out 20 down which is completely unsound, yet cannot get to grips with Giovanni whose puzzles are the model of scrupulous fairness.

        There is little in today’s puzzle to redeem it and when the majority of posters on here are saying it, something has to be wrong.

        1. Tilsit as an experienced setter can you please explain to me just what is wrong with 20d? I found it easy to work out so what is it exactly that makes it ‘unsound’

          1. Firstly, the clue is asking you to make an extra leap not specified in it.

            The setter is probably saying “OUR imprisoned” i.e put in prison. A synonym phrase for put in prison is PUT IN A CAGE not PUT IN CAGE,

            Alternatively, if he’s saying imprisoned equals CAGED, there is nothing to say put it in a cage. It doesn’t make sense under any of the rules I have been taught.

            I have no problem with challenging or off the wall ways of indicating things, but when you are being asked to make a double jump, then I will see it as unfair.

            Funnily enough in one of the crossword magazines I get on subscription, the Clue Expert was asked to analyse the following clue.

            Kinky full S & M (8) (From the Guardian – Paul – 090110)

            Quite an outrageous clue, but actually fully sound. Kinky is the anagram indicator. S is an abbreviation, so “FULL S” = SOUTH. Add AND (&) and turn that into an anagram of a word meaning M IN Roman Numerals.

            That to me is clever stuff and totally fair. Asking you to put OUR in CAGE by using imprisoned (past participle) is not.

            1. We’ll let this one go Tilsit! Mentioning the part-answer is discouraged, but this one is almost impossible to explain without mentioning the word cage,

            2. thanks for taking the time Tilsit but does it say something about me that i understood it? Oh dear don’t answer that :

              1. Mary, I’m with you. I thought the clue was clear and fair unlike Tilsit’s example which I thought was just plain gobbledegook!

                1. I just wonder what it says about us that we understood it easily!!! :) I did understand what Tilsit said too but don’t think i would have been able to answer that clue in a crossword, even with lots of checking letters

                2. Barrie

                  It may have been clear to you, but it was an unsound clue (I nearly added a few more adjectives there).

                  The day that you realise that guessing the answer and it turning out to be correct is not what cryptic crosswords are all about is the day that many of us will applaud.

                  1. I think “imprisoned” to suggest “inside cage” is fine as a starting point. Yes, ideally “inside a cage” would give us something more grammatically sound, but crosswords are littered with phrases which have been made as economical as possible. If we had the answer DARLING and wanted to do something a bit sneaky by putting L in DARING and describing the L as being “bottled” (daring=bottle/nerve) there would be one group of solvers calling it grossly unfair and another group calling it astonishingly clever.

                    In instances like this the key is to do something to suggest “a possible interpretation” – so you could have “apparently”, or even just add a question mark as long as it appears next to the dubious device; for me that’s all this clue lacks.

                    1. As far as I’m concerned a hundred question marks would not make this into a sound clue. I noticed that Mary and others were criticised in last week’s DIY COW competition for having a clue to a clue, which is precisely what this is.

                    2. Hi Dave – this is a reply to your reply below as it doesn’t have a Reply button.

                      Indeed. As I said, opinion will be divided over this type of clue. By the same token, though, what about those clues to answer phrases which have one component that can suggest an anagram. There are lots of examples but I’ll use one of mine (much rather have than panned than someone else’s!):

                      Lose it or what? (5,1,6)

                      The answer is THROW A WOBBLY. In the answer, “wobbly” can suggest an anagram of “THROW A”. which is shown as “or what” in clue without, of course, an indicator.

                      How do solvers feel about this type of clue? In essence, it takes a very similar liberty to the “imprisoned” one.

                    3. Apologies – didn’t realise my reply was going to appear at the bottom anyway!

                      But I’ve just thought, there are other sneaky devices that get used. In a down answer, the letters DEF in a clue could be read as “fed up”. Obviously, “fed up” in the clue is perfect, but what if “hacked off, apparently” was used? I know it’s a no-no in The Times but at least some other papers are OK with it.

                    4. We’ve exceeded the site limit of 10 nesting levels!

                      These clues where you are asked to find a clue vary enormously. Personally I rate yours as unsound for use in a daily cryptic, but, as you say, opinions vary.

                  2. There is no call for rudeness on this site. Just because not everyone is as ‘clever’ as you, does not give you the right to lambast them!!

  11. Not at all sure that I will get it finished today – and not even sure I want to!

    Having a degree in the second word of 3d, it would never have occurred to me that that word defined the first word … but that’s just my view of course.

    1. hit defines the first word, notes the second and the whole lot is a rhythmical monologue – or am i missing your meaning Newbie

      1. Maybe I didn’t express myself clearly; it isn’t easy to say what you mean when you can’t use the words. I was trying to say that, for me, this type of rhythmical monologue is not ‘second-word-of-answer’.

          1. I really had it down as “rim shots”. Are the compilers getting hip now?

            BD: might see you Saturday as Fulham FC are doing “mates rates” for the match.



            (Oh: second attempt on this – the first post told me off for saying I’d already said that (or some such error).

            1. Ahh, sorry – must have hit the Post Comment button twice, and been too impatient to see my ramblings.

                1. Well, as someone who always dreamed of being a drummer and ended up playing bass, I can tell you.

                  A rim shot (usually “rimshot”) is where the drummer hits the edging of the top of the drum instead of the drum skin. For lots and lots of rimshots listen to the start of:

                  So unplug the jukebox, and do us all a favour.

                  1. thank you Anax, that is brilliant, and Adam Ant was my son’s favourite when he was young, memories
                    thanks also for putting me in touch with COW I am really enjoying it but just hope I will never win it!!

    2. I (or we, with a little help from my partner) did finish it, but there was very little sense of enjoyment in doing so. All in all, rather disappointing.

  12. Nothing too taxing and finished before my poached eggs on toast had arrived. Fairly mundane but still a pleasant period doing it (albeit short). Easiest of the week by a country mile again.

  13. Well, here I am at 2.30 p.m. having finished the shopping and have just ten clues left to solve – many of the “done” ones solved by me alone before referring to this invaluable site.
    Must indicate that this one is much less difficult than last weeks which I gave up on after Wednesday !!
    As for 16a. I get the Fizzy Wine part of your clue but don’t see where Hypochondriac fits in.
    Regret that frozen in the wilds of Dorset I won’t be able to meet you at Parsons Green !

    1. try splitting the answer in two the words are homophones for two other words that a hypochondriac might have

      1. I thought this was a great clue having had to think about how it related to a hypochondriac for a few minutes before getting it.

    2. Re the fizzy drink… We have soundalikes (one hears) the first part sounds like another word for fake, followed by something that then sounds like suffering – put together you have two words that could describe a hypocondriac. Best clue in the whole puzzle!

  14. This Saturday’s crossword, had one saving grace, no people, or place names. I trust that a lot of 16a was seen on Thursday/Friday by you and the bloggers Dave, and it has to be my selection for the best clue!.

  15. Well, I enjoyed it. I especially enjoyed finishing it. Have we ever had so many comments on one day?

  16. interesting to see that the “easier” crosswords often get more comments than the more complicated ones.

    Nice that you have set up a blog for the CC Club, too! Good idea.

  17. How can I get a photo of me from Picassa onto your blog insteadof the silly litle drawing you have given me?
    Because of you and your help, I can now sleep at night without worrying about words like “coil” ; so many thanks.

    1. First – the “silly drawing” is generated automatically from your email address.

      Second, all the instructions are in the FAQ. When you have a WordPress logon you can upload a picture as many others have already done. You may not get the name that you would like, but don’t worry as you can set up a nickname and use that.

      Third, thanks for the compliment.

  18. OK I am sure I will make myself look silly here, I have finished it (fairly easy not sure why it got 4 star for difficulty on clued up) and checked my answers. Can somebody explain 12a for me please? I just cannot get the wordplay.

    1. rightly or wrongly my interpretation involved taking less than half of the first word in the clue and adding an abbreviation for final or last giving a word meaning outcome…..

          1. Another one for the purists to argue about! Although Chambers gives this as an abbreviation of the full word, strictly speaking it should only be used in the sense that Chris has mentioned – last month – so final is incorrect. Someone could write a thesis on this puzzle alone.

            What would really interest me would be to find out how many of these clues would have found their way into a Times puzzle. I rather suspect that the answer is not many and that the Telegraph’s standards are slipping well behind.

            Note to the Telegraph’s Puzzles editor. Before complaining please read the disclaimer which is available from the pages listed at the top and side of the site. Opinions expressed on this site are personal to those posting them. These are mine, and I think that they are fair comment. You are perfectly entitled to reply to them.

  19. As usual I agree with Anax and (while 16 ac was favourite and I liked 14d too) 20 down was my other marked clue.
    There are now so many posts on this site that a variety of opinions are inevitable and what is unfair to one person is genius to another. What a compliment to the site!

    1. Funnily enough it was in the middle of discussing constructs like Birkenhead with Anax at the Times Crossword Championships last October that his involvement with the blog was born. We are the best of friends, really, it’s just that we never agree on what is fair and what is not!!

      1. And I’m glad we don’t, Dave, for therein lies madness.

        Seriously, what I mean is that if every solver liked/disliked exactly the same things, setters would end up having to write effectively identical crosswords across all the newspapers, and that would be Hell in the form of tedium.

        The fact that solvers like different things is what keeps crosswords fresh and full of variety.

  20. Big Dave,
    Slowly getting the hang of both this wonderful site and understanding cryptic crosswords!
    Finished at about 6.30 and mostly by myself!! Must be some sort of indication of the degree of difficulty though, this is only the second one I’ve ever completed so suspect I’m a suitable case for the CC !

  21. I enjoyed solving this. Many beautiful clues such as most of those in bottom left.

    On first reading 20d I puzzled over it. But once I put in 22a and 25a I had little problem with the clue which, in my opinion, is a fair one, brings novelty and adds entertainment value to the crossword. For me ‘imprisoned” gives the container/content indicator as well as the container.

  22. Pretty straightforward puzzle which I finished in record time late last evening after having made a fondue bourgignonne (à la suisse) for my daughter’s family! Forgot to post a comment this morning as was too involved in watching the Men’s singles final at Melbourne.
    Most of the clues were based on play of the meaning of words – a few anagrams etc..
    My favourites were 12a (I am a regular night sky watcher), 16a and 22a. I thought 24a had a bit of delusion in it in the word “new”. Down : 2d, 4d,11d and 17d..

    Not the hardest Saturday puzzle by any means.

  23. Tilsit has sent me this recent judgement by Azed, the current bearer of the Ximenean torch, from his competition to write a clue for ANADEM:

    “A handful of inventive but flawed offerings are worth analysing. (i) ‘Handsome bean may be topped, filleted, and wreathed in this’ (anag. less h and bones, & lit.). The author suspected I might not allow this, and he was right. ‘Filleted’ to imply the removal of BONES (or a jumble thereof) is a ‘clue to a clue’, surely requiring more of the solver than is fair, however attractive the idea may be. …….”

  24. I am not impressed by all this this talk about a “clue to a clue” and some expert’s judgement on clueing technique. After all, it is his opinion. Similarly we can have our opinions.
    The point is: is 20d attainable? I think most solvers, including members of the so-called CC, have had no problem in getting the answer and some have even liked it.
    If the clue had flummoxed many solvers, I can understand it being ruled out of court. On the other hand, it has not proved to be too abstruse.
    In crosswords published in India I have seen worse examples which I can by no stretch of imagination defend. I don’t put 20d in that category.
    One may not like it and one may say so. But others are entitled to think that it is after their heart.

      1. I think it is a matter f being on the same wavelength as the compliler. I was annoyed by some of these clues, but got most of them.

        I’m not bothered by the quality of another compiler’s clues if I cannot solve any of them.

    1. Hi Sophie – welcome to the blog.

      28a. Man first about to return record (8)
      The definition is record – it starts with an abbreviated man’s name (think Mr Perrin).

    1. It takes place on the first Saturday every three months and has done for as long as I can remember (excepting if Chelsea FC are at home on the same day, in which case it moves back a week.)

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