DT 26254 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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DT 26254

Daily Telegraph Cryptic No 26254

Hints and tips by Crypticsue

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BD Rating – Difficulty **Enjoyment ***

[In case you missed Crypticsue’s first appearance last Thursday, she has joined the team as our first lady blogger.  Other commitments mean that she will only be able to contribute occasionally, and Libellule has stepped aside today to allow her to take advantage of the Spring Bank Holiday.  She will be back on Thursday with a review of last Saturday’s puzzle and is then off on holiday (lucky her!)]

Ten days ago, I was just Sue, a long time fan of the DT cryptic (40 years which apparently equates to over 10,000 puzzles, even allowing for time off for good behaviour), when following an email approach by Big Dave to confirm whether his detective work was right and I would be too busy to be a reviewer (he was), I couldn’t resist a challenge and am now Crypticsue, the first lady reviewer on his blog, here with my comments on today’s puzzle. Despite my long experience, I was quite nervous this morning but needn’t have worried, Rufus has given us all, novice reviewer, experienced and non-experienced puzzle solvers alike, a very nice Bank Holiday puzzle, with a good mix of clues, some straightforward and some needing a little deliberation.

Please 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    In direct opposition, before guillotine’s brought into action? (4-2)
{HEAD ON} – Wonderful clue, if you haven’t yet been under the guillotine, you still have your 4  2, giving you a term meaning in direct opposition.

4a    Phoney admission of poverty takes in good man (8)
{IMPOSTOR} – Here we need to find term for a phoney: take the usual abbreviation for a good man and put it inside (takes in) what you would say if you hadn’t much money!

9a    Go round with a list at half-term (6)
{ROTATE} – Take a type of list, add to it half of the word “term” and you should get a way of going round.

10a    I acted in variety show (8)
{INDICATE} – “variety” tells us that this is today’s first anagram – of I ACTED IN. You are looking for another word meaning to show.

12a    Flower goes to politician in ceremony (4)
{POMP} – The flower in this case is one of the more popular two letter crossword rivers coupled with the abbreviation for a politician, giving you a term for ceremony.

13a    Post office workers (5)
{STAFF} – Workers, particularly in offices are …. ,and this is of course a synonym for a post (pole)

14a    A pool I object about (4)
{MERE} – Quite straightforward, you get a word for pool from adding the two letter term for “about” (think email replies) to the objective form of I.

17a    An American can (12)
{PENITENTIARY} – Another straightforward one – once you realise that the American slang for prison is can, it’s just a matter of remembering how to spell the 12 letter version of their name for a prison!

20a    Bound to fight in brave company (2,3,7)
{ON THE WARPATH} – The braves in this case being Native Americans who were more often than not 2  3  7!

23a    A long way off getting a return of service (4)
{AFAR} – Reverse the abbreviation for one arm of our armed services, and put an A in front, then you won’t be this.

24a    Most important man in all Airdrie? (5)
{LAIRD} – This is a hidden clue, the answer being a Scottish landowner.

25a    Cut price bargain (4)
{SNIP} – A synonym for “cut” gives you a term for a bargain.

28a    Flood means Aunt Enid has to move (8)
{INUNDATE} – One of my favourite clues, you know it’s an anagram of AUNT ENID (has to move) and that the answer will be a word meaning to flood, but the whole is excellent wordplay.

29a    Knock out some facts about aircraft (6)
{DAKOTA} – Take the boxer’s abbreviation for a knock out, put it inside a some facts and it gives you a WWII military transport aircraft.

30a    A number in quiet surroundings provide music (8)
{SERENADE} – The number in this clue is the Roman numeral for 500, put in quiet, or peaceful, surroundings, (don’t forget to include the A from the clue) producing a type of love song.

31a    Took a hard look at various trades (6)
{STARED} – An obvious anagram (various) here of TRADES – the answer meaning a term for a hard look.


1d    Dance band instruments (8)
{HORNPIPE} – Two instruments give you a dance much favoured by sailors in the past.

2d    One element that may be split into many (8)
{ANTIMONY} – Split (form an anagram with) INTO MANY to find a toxic element.

3d    Don’t lie under it (4)
{OATH} – You’ll be in trouble in court if you lie once you have sworn this.

5d    He’ll fulfil his promise (3,2,3,4)
{MAN OF HIS WORD} – Big Dave was this today when he provided me with the promised template and support I needed.

6d    Forget to put it on the order (4)
{OMIT} – The order in this case is the Order of Merit, the abbreviation of which has “it” added to give you a synonym for forget.

7d    Signs liable to be kicked over (6)
{TRACES} – Another synonym here, an alternative word for signs giving something that you kick over when you do what you want without respect for authority.

8d    Joint may be worn out (6)
[REEFER] – A type of a jacket or a “naughty” cigarette.

11d    Feeling callous? Then destroy a settlement (5-7)
{STONY-HEARTED} – This is one of those clues where you know it’s an anagram but have to look carefully to see whether its “destroy” or “settlement” that’s the indicator. It’s the latter, and an anagram of THEN DESTROY A gives another expression for callous.

15d    Where one may sit or get to one’s feet (5)
{STAND} – People would sit in this to watch a game before they do what the last part of the clue says.

16d    Arranged tour around river and cathedral city (5)
{TRURO} – A fine cathedral city can be obtained by putting R for River, inside an anagram of TOUR.

18d    One shouldn’t miss this store opening (4,4)
{BARN DOOR} – The store is one used by farmers, the entrance of which is often proverbially used to indicate something large and obvious.

19d    The control of the stock-holder? (4,4)
{WHIP HAND} – Someone generally in charge would hold this, but clever word play means that someone in charge of stock (a hand) would also have this item.

21d    V-sign shows one is not in agreement! (6)
{VARIES} – An astrological sign added to V, gives you a term for something not in agreement.

22d    Animal driven on the roads (6)
{JAGUAR} – I would have said “cat” more than animal, you are looking for the name of one of this country’s “grander” cars!

26d    A study of foreign port (4)
{ADEN} – All good solvers know the three letter alternatives for “study”, just add one of them to A to get a well-known Middle East port.

27d    Touched, dead astern (4)
{DAFT} – At the start of today, I thought I was this to have agreed to do this blog, it’s another straightforward clue – D for Dead added to a nautical term for astern.

I hope my comments have helped. BD and his fellow gentlemen bloggers make it look so easy; my heartfelt thanks to them for their welcome and encouragement.

45 comments on “DT 26254

  1. Lovely review crypticsue, concise and varied. I’d say you made it look pretty easy too (although you now know the time it takes!).
    I struggled on 7d as I have not come across this phrase before. Favourites were 21d and 28a.
    Take the rest of the day off!

  2. A nice enjoyable puzzle to solve on an overcast Bank Holiday morning. Thanks to Rufus, and to Sue for the comprehensive review.
    On with the packing… Portsmouth to Bilbao crossing tonight, a week in Biarritz, and a week in Cantabria. Hope the weather in the Basque Country is better than here!

  3. Excellent diversion for the bank Holiday. Best clue by far is 17a, raised a smile in our house :-)
    Must admit I wouldn’t have got 14a without the help above, always thought this was a lake rather than a pool but hey ho!

  4. I found todays puzzle a bit higher quality than the normal Monday offering, good clues and enjoyable.
    Thanks for the blog Sue, perhaps you could encourage Mary to do a few reviews if she still does the puzzle. I havn’t heard from her for a while, I hope she is ok.

      1. Perhaps someone should warn her that once BD has you in his sights, there is no escape!!

  5. Excellent review, crypticsue. My favourite clue was 20a.
    I think that there’s a further subtlety in 19d, in that the handle of a whip is known as the stock.

  6. Enjoyable puzzle, great review and I needed it too for some of these.

    Confused about 6d; having read Anax’s excellent rules about the use of ‘on’ in down clues, this clue seemed to put ‘it’ the wrong way round … or have I misunderstood something??

  7. Thanks for your help today Crypticsue. I had ‘versus’ for 21d which led to all sorts of problems in that corner but it’s all better now and I’m off for an afternoon at a beer festival. Maybe I shouldn’t have started the crossword until I got back… I’m with Barrie on 17a, but also like 6d.

    1. Mr Tub. I charge you with raising a nice Summer Ale in a toast to me, languishing as I am in a very dry Middle Eastern hell-hole!. Have fun.

        1. Very unkind – there is poor Gnomethang without even a “body of fresh water” (dictionary definition of ‘mere’ so it can be a ‘pool’! ) Presumably he can make up for lost time on his return.

          1. Well done that Tub!.
            There is a pool on the camp, crypticsue but the only thing do with pools is sit next to them in the shade with a rum and banana drink and a book/crossword!
            I think if I attempted a ‘gigantic bender’ on my return it might last about 5 pints!

  8. Really good review. Thanks. 7d and 14a had me completely stumped. 1a made me smile and I liked 21d. Overall I thought it was quite tricky.

  9. I liked 1a and 17a best. 15d made me wonder why we call a xxxxx what we do, when it is quite the opposite.

  10. Although no help need was Good review . Again done in awonderful sunny Morning in the garden in Northumberland .

  11. Thought that there were a few quite difficult clues today or maybe my brain isn’t working too well. 2d had me completely stuck – hadn’t even spotted “split” as being the anagram indicator but, since I didn’t know the word, I’m not even sure if that would have helped. 1, 18 and 19d all took a while. Particularly enjoyed 17 and 20a.

  12. Nice start to the week from Rufus, great review from Crypticus ( I agreed with the difficulty rating but enjoyed it too much for a 3* , thought it worth 4* for sheer enjoyment) Liked 20a and 18d.

  13. Welcome to the blog Crypticsue. I enjoyed your comments and hints very much, although I didn’t need the latter to complete today’s puzzle. In fact I did it quite quickly over breakfast and in time to do it again on Clued Up. Needed a letter hint for 21d and thought it a really bad clue, also had trouble working out 14a but made a good guess. On the other hand I was very happy with most of the clues, favourites being 1d, 17a, 20a and 19d. :-)

  14. Thank you, Crypticsue.

    We got all except 14a and 21d before coming here

    20a seems tenuous

  15. I normally enjoy Rufus’ Monday crosswords, but I really struggled today, so thanks for the hints, CypticSue. I was also a bit disappointed with the ‘on’ in 6d.

    Lots of meanings for words today that I didn’t know.

  16. Didn’t need any help and did this quickly before off to exercise the body playing tennis (the mind having been already taken care of!) Thanks for the review and good luck CrypticSue with your next review.

  17. Found todays wonderful… but then got stuck in the NE area!!… Welcome to the life savers hints crypticsue!! Very brave! You must be an old hand at these crosswords. I have been doing them for about 2 years but still find some so easy and others totally off my wavelength. somehow clues like 18d are not in my head! is this because i never encounter any or I am so illiterate?????????
    Anyway a very BIG welcome! Off to continue cooking Roast pork fillet, gravy roast potatoes and yet more unheathy bit .. but it does have broccoli????!

    1. Thank you for your kind thoughts. I can’t believe I have been doing the DT cryptic for so many years either. Please can I come to your house for tea??

  18. Agree with Franny on 21d but the rest of the puzzle is a Rufus classic-not too many anagrams, some good double definitions, a few phrases and all read well -just my level.

  19. Well done Crypticsue. Thanks for the review and thanks to Rufus for a puzzle that was certainly brighter than the weather!

  20. Good Puzzle , good blog and a good day today, in spite of the dubious weather! Thanks Sue & Rufus.

  21. I should like to add my congratulations to CrypticSue for this blog. Well done – it’s extraordinary that it’s your first attempt!

    I must read my friend Anax’s Rules re use of “on” in a Down clue. I’ve always assumed it could be used for both sets of clues, “on” meaning “added” for Across clues, and “on” meaning ” superior, above, placed above” for Down.

  22. I would just like to say thank you to everyone, particularly Rufus as the compiler of today’s puzzle, for their lovely kind comments on my first “instant” blog. (I have done two Saturday puzzle reviews now (one published, one in the pipeline) which are a lot less stressful than having to do the puzzle, work out the different types of clue, provide a good hint,and get it all in to Big Dave by 11 am!) . As and when my work commitments permit, I am sure BD will be letting me loose on weekday puzzles again soon.

  23. Many thanks to Rufus and Sue for another excellent puzzle and first class review. I started late today so only just finished. I also struggled with 7d (never heard of the phrase Sue mentioned) and 14a. I am also a bit puzzled by 6d; My understanding is the precisely as set out by Rufus but doesn’t that mean the “it” should go on top of the order?

  24. Thanks to the setter and welcome to Sue too. With family commitments I only got to see today’s puzzle late afternoon and I finished it without too much hassle. Favourite for me was 29a – a clever clue. England cricket win as well so both made up for a rather dreary, overcast day.

  25. Thanks Dave; sorry the last part of my posting should have referred to 6d not 7d!

  26. Struggling with todays – got bogged down with 6 to get and as it’s late now I’m gonna call it a day.

    Don’t have a particular favourite clue in this one yet – all I know is I didn’t like 5D much – cryptic? Hmmm…

  27. Have now read the latest Anax rules and look forward to more! I see that my clue for OMIT should read differently as, strictly to these rules, it is, as Ian says, tantamount to putting OM on IT. However, I have always used “on” as “added” for both Across and Down clues. I shall have to think about this!

    1. In fairness I should point out that Anax’s “rules” are those that he imposes on himself, and are only meant as a guide. The problem with “on” in a down clue is that if it can mean “before” or “after” solvers find it confusing. Strictly speaking its use in an across clue is not dependent on it being an across clue, so it ought to be equally applicable to a down clue.

      1. Speaking as a solver of “all these years”, I didn’t find it confusing at all, I just saw what the answer had to be and put it in. It seemed to me a fairly straightforward clue but perhaps that’s because I am knew to having to think about the technical terminology for all the types of clue etc now I am a reviewer.

  28. Can I make a belated addition to this debate about “rules”? As the Telegraph Crossword Editor, my view is that there is only one rule: every clue should be capable of being explained and justified to someone who has never done a crossword before. (I’m not fond of the phrase “You often see that in crosswords”!)

    I raised this question of “on” with Rufus a while ago, and was happy with his explanation of “on” meaning “in addition to” (as in Chambers). It may not be the convention for Down clues, and of course in one way it appears to go against logic, but you can justify it — just!

    Having said that, it’s probably a good thing that he has used it in only a handful of his 1,004 Telegraph Cryptics…

    Best wishes

  29. Hi chaps

    Been away from the PC for a few days so only just got to see the comments above regarding my “rules” articles. Just a trio of responses:

    Rufus: You are the daddy of modern cryptic clue-writing – don’t change a thing! The subject of “on” is additional to my message to Dave, coming up in a few lines, but your style of clueing has been delighting solvers for many, many years, and long may that continue.
    Phil: Absolutely. If a clue can be solved using the given information, IMHO it works. Many of us (myself included) can be accused of occasionally trying to look too deeply into clues while forgetting that a clue – if you want to base it on a dictionary definition – is something that points you to answer. Syntax, grammar and logic are not an absolute requirement.
    Dave: Very glad you mentioned that these are effectively “my” rules. In writing the articles I’m following the rules I’m expected to follow for the Times which, of course, are not and should not be universal. As regards “on”, we are instructed to limit its possible interpretations in clues.

  30. I thought about this early this morning (pigeons on roof, cat on the prowl so woke early).

    As Anax says, if a clue can be solved used the given information, then Phil’s rule should apply. Someone who has never done a crossword before would probably pick up the paper, not have access to any of the books explaining how cryptics work, and unless very lucky when googling would not automatically know about this site (I only came to know about BD recently when searching for an answer). Therefore they would look at the clue, see that they probably had to find a synonym for “leave”, think its a four letter word and the clue implies you have to have IT as part of it, guess OMIT, check their dictionary and learn what OM is the abbreviation for. Following all the talk about the “rules”, I looked at the clue again and, from the experienced solver point of view, don’t think I even took conscious note of the “on” just thought, leave, IT, must be OMIT.

  31. Anax says, ‘If a clue can be solved using the given information, IMHO it works’.

    Fair enough. 6d works very well!

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