DT 26176 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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DT 26176

Daily Telegraph Cryptic No 26176

Hints and tips by Rishi

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BD Rating – Difficulty ***Enjoyment ***

This crossword was certainly not on the ‘easy’ side. Let me unabashedly confess that I had a slow start and at one stage I had the following clues yet to go: 1a, 11a, 14a, 25a, 29a and 31a and 2d, 3d, 7d, 21d, 22d and 27d. You will notice that among these are some anagram clues!  In the notes below I will try to say what gives a twist of hardness to some of these.

I generally say that the Monday crossword gives a gentle start to the week. This time it may not have been so gentle, but let me assure you that it is a very pleasant solve and we marvel at the superb cluemanship of our Monday Maestro.

Each of the answers is masked in white. Just highlight the white space within the curly brackets and you can read it. When you must!
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 Sign up ace goal maker, an ex-England player (4,9)
{PAUL GASCOIGNE} – Jumble the letters SIGN UP ACE GOAL to get the name of a retired English professional football player. Easy for football fans but I had to wait for some crossings before I dredged the name from memory.

Ex-England player

10a Still a variety of sausage (7)
{ASSUAGE} – Anagram after anagram! Rearranging the letters SAUSAGE, we get a word that means ‘still’ as a verb.

11a Leaves to dress for dinner (7)
{LETTUCE} – The clue evokes the picture of someone leaving for the dressing room to deck themselves up for a dinner engagement but the word we want is a vegetable with a lot of leaves. Remember ‘Eats shoots and leaves’? (Supply comma wherever you like.)


12a Israeli port area (4)
(ACRE} – double definition – Israeli port/ area

13a Swift and quiet in attack (5)
{RAPID} – A single letter abbreviation for a musical term that means ‘quiet’ (‘soft’ or ‘softly’, to be more accurate) inserted in a word that means ‘attack’ provides the answer that means ‘swift’.

14a Once put down, it can be served (4)
{WRIT} – Double definition – A word in an archaic past tense that means ‘put down’ (the word ‘once’ in the clue suggesting the old-fashioned form) is also a word for a legal document that is ‘served’ on whom it is meant for. Remember “The moving finger writes; and, having ___, / Moves on…”

17a Arrange to get rid (7)
{DISPOSE} – Double definition – Arrange / to get rid

18a Girl I sign on as a star-gazer (7)
{GALILEO} – Word sum – An informal word for ‘girl’ + I + a Zodiac sign (which is a noun though in the surface reading with ‘on’ it is a verb) = the name of an astronomer (star-gazer). (I gaze at the likes of Aishwarya Roy, Katrina Kaif, Deepika Padukone et al.)

'Through a glass darkly'

19a Carried on organising coup d’etat but having to drop out (5,2)
{ACTED UP} – Drop the letters TO from COUP D’ETAT and jumble the remaining letters CUPDETA to get a phrase that means ‘carried on’.

22a Strong wind wrenched a door half off (7)
{TORNADO} – A word that means ‘strong wind’ is derived by putting together a word that means ‘wrenched’ and A (a) and DO (half of ‘DOor’).

24a They’re drunk and sing wildly (4)
{GINS} – ‘drunk’ in the surface reading is an adjective but the definition for the word required is “They are drunk”. What are drunk? Rearrange the letters SING (‘wildly’ being the anagram indicator). (Add ‘rum’ if you like.)

25a Minor injuries — in fact they sound nothing (5)
{NICKS} – Once upon a time males while shaving used to suffer these but now  razors have become quite safe and sophisticated and these have become uncommon. Get the word by saying aloud a word that means ‘nothing’.

26a Cunning means of support (4)
(ARCH} – double definition – cunning/ means of support (in the architectural sense)

29a Have fun on leave near Portsmouth (7)
{GOSPORT} – For the name of a town near Portsmouth,look for an imperative phrase that means ’have fun, taking time off from work, getting away from the desk’.

30a Eggs turn into cheers (7)
{OVATION} – A three-letter word that means ‘eggs’ + an anagram of INTO (‘turn’ being the anagram indicator) gives a word that means ‘cheers’ in the sense of an outburst of applause). What does ‘eggs’ in the surface reading mean? Persons? We speak of a bad egg or a good egg. But eggs? What do you think?

31a Coups cause teacher to have moments of apoplexy (13)
{MASTER STROKES} – Word sum – A word that means ‘teacher’ + a word that means ‘moments of apoplexy’ (by adding ‘moments of’, the clue-writer is very helpful in telling us that we have to look for a plural termination) = a word for ‘coups’, not in any military sense but in the sense of ‘clever and successful actions’.


2d Maintains a rising pressure (7)
{ASSERTS} – A word that means ‘maintains’ in the sense of ‘says positively’ is derived by putting together A (a) and a reversal of a word that means ‘pressure’

3d Head’s bloomer, perhaps (4)
{LOAF} – Managed to solve this. The answer-word is the term for a cabbage-head. In Cockney rhyme ‘loaf of bread’ means the head or brains, I think.  A bloomer is a particular type of long crusty bread.

4d Mean to declare a woman’s secret (7)
{AVERAGE} – Word sum – A word that means ‘declare’ + a personal detail that women usually hate to disclose = answer word that means ‘mean’ in the sense of ‘the middle point between two extremes’.

5d Town-crier’s profession? (7)
{CALLING} – Cryptic definition – A word that means ‘profession’ is attained by a word that describes what a town-crier might be doing

6d Nothing in it, a mere tittle (4)
(IOTA) – Insert O (nothing) in IT, and then add A (a). It is ‘tittle’.

7d Gear in a new Renault (7)
{NEUTRAL} – An anagram that I didn’t solve too quickly. That is because the definition for the word required is ‘gear’. As long as you are thinking of ‘dress’, ‘finery’, ‘kit’, ‘rig’ you’re not going to get it. It is something that you often change while driving an automobile, Renault or no Renault.

8d Cases of eviction? (3,3,7)
{BAG AND BAGGAGE} – ‘Cases’, not in the sense of ‘instances’ but in the sense of bags, barrels, bins, trunks, boxes, etuis, holdalls that may all be thrown out when we are evicted from somewhere

9d An almost negligible amount, like one in ten (4,2,7)
{NEXT TO NOTHING} – A phrase for a very small amount described by the words ‘like one in ten’, 1 is next to 0. You don’t get it? OK, what do strippers wear?

15d By the sound of it, gather a crowd (5)
{HORDE} – A word that means ‘crowd’ (n.) sounds same as that of a word that means ‘gather’ (v.) (as unscrupulous traders might do in times of scarcity of a product)

16d Such panic may be started by fire or burglary (5)
{ALARM} – A word that means ‘panic’ or ‘fright’ ; also a device warning of an incident such as fire or burglary

20d A unit is ordered to somewhere in N Africa (7)
{TUNISIA} – Anagram of A UNIT IS for a republic in N Africa. I think the surface reading suggests the despatch of an army contingent. ‘Somewhere’ is OK for a city or town but for a republic as a whole the term seems vague.

21d Dog lead? (7)
{POINTER} – Double definition – A breed of dog/’lead’, n., in the sense of clue, hint, something that shows a way.


22d Date and remove (4,3)
{TAKE OUT} – When you ‘date’, what do you do with the girl? And when you ‘remove’ an article, what do you do with that article?

23d A service for car and plane-travellers (7)
{AIRLINE} – This is a word for transportation system that plane travellers use. How ‘car’ comes in, I have not been able to figure out.

27d Two officers, one gun (4)
{COLT} – Two abbreviations, one for Commanding Officer, and another for Lieutenant, put together give a word for a gun.


28d Turn up gas-ring to cook it (4)
{SAGO} – By reversing GAS and adding O (‘ring’) we get an ingredient that goes into some dishes. In India this is a staple for a pudding.

70 comments on “DT 26176

  1. Rishi, in 23d the “service for car” is the one provided at garages to pump the tyres.

  2. Seems like Rufus left his claws out today!
    A thouroghly excellent puzzle that was in no way easy.
    Favourite for me (by a mile) was 9d.
    I now have ‘Gosport Nancy’ by Rolf Harris going round and round my head. Which is nice!
    Thanks to Rishi and Rufus.

    1. “I now have ‘Gosport Nancy’ by Rolf Harris going round and round my head. Which is nice!” – You need to go and lie down in a darkened room somewhere.

      1. gnemethang

        It is such things from popular culture that I miss while solving UK puzzles.

        I read the lyric just now.

        Prolixic: I will also do as suggested.

    2. gnomething. As someone who was born in Gosport I totally agree with Prolixic. Lie down somewhere. The good thing about Gosport these days is the road out!

      1. Yoshik,

        I see your team managed a win on Saturday! Perhaps you should have gone into administration a lomg time ago???

  3. Rishi – for 19a, I think you mean drop the letters TO from COUP D’ETAT to get the anagram material. I started off trying to remove out when solving and was left with too few letters!

    A good challenging puzzle from Rufus today. I agree it is a change from his more gentle Monday masterpieces. Last one to go in was 23d. I stared at it for ages before the penny droped. Top marks for Rufus from me today. Thanks for the notes Rishi.

    1. Prolixic
      Thanks. I have amended it suitably.
      Generally I solve the anagrams in my head. Rarely do I have to write the letters in a circle on paper to work out the answer.
      In this case I had to do so when I first removed OUT and only subsequently did I (like you) realise that it is TO that we have to ‘drop out’.
      However, when I wrote the notes, the human mind being what it is, the monkey had jumped back to the other branch.

  4. There’s a note on the Guardian website saying that the Rufus puzzle there today is his 1,000th for them. What an achievement!

  5. Needed the correction fluid a couple of times on this. Foolishly entered AMASS for 15d, which held me up for quite some time, until I sussed 19a.

    1. Jezza
      Be comforted to know that at 15d the first word that struck me too was AMASS. But I am too experienced a solver to put in what occurs to me straightaway. What’s “by the sound of it” doing there? It can’t be AMASS. So it took a few more moments before the right word came to me. And if it’s a homophone clue, you have to be doubly careful and must wait for some crossings before you ink in your answer. You see how I save on correction fluid!

  6. For some reason I had put “amass” for 15d and this held me up for a while. I agree with most of the comments, this was a smashing crossword from Rufus and much harder than his normal Monday fare. I really enjoyed it, my favourite clue was 31a.

      1. I’ve just had to check my answer for 15d as I too had amass. Now I can crack on….

  7. Must admit to being stuck on 2 11a and 14a, an enjoyable crossword which involved a good deal of working out, I also started to remove ‘out’ from 19a! fav clue 9d A bit disappointed that there were no Welsh references today, because today being the 1st March is of course St Davids day :) Off to enjoy the beautiful sunshine and listen to the children singing in the town square all dressed up in their Welsh costumes, Hwyl nawr :)

  8. Rishi,

    Not sure what you mean in your explanation of 29a. I took it to be: SPORT (fun) added to GO (leave).

    22d. Asking “When you date, what do you do with the girl?” can get the imagination going! Or is that just my imagination??

    I don’t know if I’m in a good mood for a Monday, but I didn’t find this as difficult as some seem to have done.

    Liked 11a, 30a & 3d, but thought the clue of the day was 9d.

      1. Vince

        Your annotation is simple and must be the setter’s intended breakup.

        But we bloggers solve the crossword and then write the report with time running when under pressure we may sometimes read too much! We don’t fail to see tne explanation but we may err on the wrong side.

        Logically ‘Have fun on leave’ is SPORT + GO. But the answer is GO SPORT. So I looked at this part of the clue in its entirety and wrote something.

        Thanks for correcting me!

        In Down clues when we say A is on B, it IS AB.

        In Across clues if A is on B, is it AB or BA? I invite Commenters to pitch in with their views.

        1. Rishi,

          In your example, I would say that it has to be BA. You would have to write down B before you can add A to it.

  9. Lovely crossword, top clue has to be 9d.23d, possible air line is a service provided by a garage to inflate car tyres.

    1. Thanks, Kram.

      For ‘airline’ Chambers indeed has ‘a hose carrying air under pressure’.

      Though the service is very much in India (FREE AIR, the petrol bunks advertise), the term itself is not used by people here so I was not familiar with it.

  10. I can’t put this as my favourite puzzle lately but it was okay.
    My favourite clue was 9d and 8d. Last to go in was 31a as didn’t connect the word with coups.

  11. Enjoyed having a slightly tougher Monday puzzle on this lovely sunny springlike morning! Just missed the time bonus on Clued Up by being dozy over 12ac!

  12. Got stuck because I put Aden in for 12a which made 2d impossible. 8d is a mystery to me – never heard of bag and baggage and just couldn’t do 14a. Tricky puzzle today.

  13. I thought this was a bit hard for a Monday. I completed it but had to check the blog for why 9d was right.
    My favourites were 4d and 23d (and now that I understand it, 9d)

    Personally I don’t like the “on” in 18a.

  14. Michael,

    I think the “on” helps with the surface reading. I think it also works with the clue, as the “on” does in29a.

    1. The “on” in 18a is questionable, but in 29a it conforms to what has become an accepted (if slightly odd) cryptic device. In a down clue, “on” can only mean “on top of”, but in an across clue it can only mean “after”; it’s as if it’s a shorthand version of “tagged onto the end of”.

      There are arguments for saying that if “on” means “attached to” there’s nothing to say in what order the components are attached; absolutely fair comment, and it’s for precisely that reason that editors have mutually agreed to stick to just one interpretation for the sake of fairness and consistency. So if you see “on” in an across clue and have narrowed down the wordplay to a charade (or word sum) then the bit described as “on” will always come after the other bit.

  15. Once put down, it can be served (4) I thought this was talking about wine. So I managed to fit “brut” to the crossing letters. I can see “writ” is the real answer, but I don’t think mine was a bad option either.

  16. Happy St David’s day, Mary! And any other Welsh around. I’ve got my daffodils out all right and proper. Just back from the Antipodes, I’ve been catching up on puzzles missed. I did find today’s rather tough going, but managed to finish all but 29a in two widely spaced sessions. 1a I figured out by juggling letters, but my favourite clues were 18a and 9d. It’s good to be back. :-)

  17. Too tricky for me today, only managed 14 answers, even with help. Didn’t stand a chance with 1a and then having entered NGE at the end, 7d made no sense …

    I’d be grateful if someone would explain 25a; I can’t make a connection between NICKS and ‘in fact they sound nothing’.

    1. A synonym for nothing is NIX, which sounds like Nicks, which is what you get if you don’t take care while shaving.

      1. Thanks, didn’t know that. Haven’t shaved for years – too boring, every flipping day!

        1. All I can add is that Rishi will have to tell me where to get whichever razor blades he uses. Despite spending ridiculous sums on best ever stuff my morning face continues to resemble a particularly bad day on The Somme.

          Incidentally, this does remind me of a news story of about five years ago (it was on Radio 5 Live) about a dog which had survived despite eating a pack of its owner’s razor blades. I wondered at the time if this was a case of Man’s Best Friend becoming The Best Friend A Man Can Get, but I kept the thought to myself then – as perhaps I should have done just now.

  18. Really enjoyed today with 9d my favourite clue. Is 8d a recognised phrase? I got it but don’t really see why

      1. ‘Bag and baggage’ is a very common phrase in India and even people who have only a moderate education in English use it in conversation or writing.

        Another such phrase that I often hear is ‘part and parcel’.

  19. What a disappointing puzzle for a Monday, not the nice gently start to week we have come to expect. I thought some of the clues just awful such 14a, 19a and esp 11a. Like you I always thought that Master Strokes were two words, no wonder it made very little sense. The only clue I liked was 1a, a reminder of one of the geatest footballers of modern times.
    All in all, I thought it was a very poor effort, sorry!

  20. Corker today, which I found quite easy, save I had “assures” in for 2d for no sensible reason, save it half fitted the clue, but it mattered not! So, like last week, I await a spectacular failure to hold form with Tuesday’s offering – ho hum! Bag and baggage took some getting (or some letters more accurately), as I rather have it in my mind as ‘bags” in the plural.

  21. I think that the reference to car is the ‘air line’ to pump up the tyres


  22. Enjoyed today’s crossword again but never heard of Bag and Baggage and never heard of Nicks meaning nothing either. Loved 9d and 30a and thought 21d was very clever. Also liked 18a.
    As for removing an article when you date a girl…..not on the first date I hope!
    Helen x

  23. Real teaser.
    Set off at a trot.
    Got all but 2d, 8d, 15d, 17a, 29a then got a refusal with 15d put in ‘amass’ which unhitched me.
    3d & 31a favourites.
    Past the post with your help 9d is usually what I win at the races.

  24. got `em all except 31 a which i thought was a killer . thanks rishi for your assistance

  25. Failedon 2d,8d & 12.
    Confidently wrote grit for 14a -you can put it down on the road or you can eat grits -so I assumed a single grits was a grit .

  26. 9 still needed – really enjoying this one. Only got a paper at 4.30PM as a busy day! Will return to it later this evening.

  27. I didn’t find this at all easy! I think I am regressing…. I’ve never heard of port Acre. Initially I googled ports and Israel and it didn’t come up. Later when I had checking letters and googled port acre there it was…. Not the gentle start to the week I like :(

    1. I found exactly the same with that Chablis, never mind tomorrow can only be easier…. duh….not :)

  28. I think it depends on what frame of mind I’m in. I had a good day at work and was feeling quite sprightly so I didn’t think it was too bad! Having said that I didn’t finish it. I liked 4d. I get in around 7pm and start it then so I think that I miss the post with most bloggers but ‘hello’ to all of you still out there.

    1. Hi Joanne – I’m a late starter too & it usually feels a bit superfluous to add a comment as everything has already been said! However – an enjoyable, though slightly trickier puzzle today. Thanks Rishi for the explanations – only needed 4 today (very good for me!) but it’s interesting to see if the other hints match my meanderings. Favourite was 9d but liked several for their simplicity – once I’d got them!! 5d,6d,11a,22a etc.

    2. Hi Joanne, there are still a lot of us hanging around at all hours, even if we do the crossword earlier and it’s always good to read what everyone thinks :)

  29. All done save 6 of the blighters. Like others I had “amass” for 15d which slightly skewed the NW for me – 19a a little weak. 14a – stumped completely and 8d a new phrase on me. Liked 1a and 18a especially. Great footballer was Mr G and a career too short. I could tell you a story about being at a party when he turned up but I won’t. Great challenge today worthy of a prize one.

  30. Re DT 26,176, 23D ‘A service for car and plane travellers’. The airline is to blow up car tyres

  31. Very late starting and not yet read the blog … but a super start to the week with lots of clever clues.
    Especially liked 10a, 13a, 30a, 7d and 9d.

  32. An enjoyable puzzle somewhat in the old style – not at all difficult!
    I think that the clue to 7d should have ended in a ? as the answer is not a gear!
    1a was a superb anagram.
    Best for me were 11a, 18a, 19a, 29a & 31a. 3d, 4d, 8d, 9d, 23d & 27d.

  33. i’m another who has never heard of bag and baggage or nix… i had kicks, which i though worked as a kick meaning a knock in football and ‘just for kicks’ meaning nothing. Of course it doesn’t fit the sounds like element. So, close but no cigar for me today. Incidentally and perhaps pedantically, but shoudn’t neutral be ‘not in gear’ rather than gear.

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