DT 26258 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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DT 26258

Daily Telegraph Cryptic No 26258

Hints and tips by Gnomethang

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

Morning All!

A big thank you to Gazza for allowing me to make use of his chair for the day.

On with today’s puzzle. Giovanni, as you would expect, has delivered some finely constructed clues with very smooth surface readings. I found the difficulty to be greater than last week but really enjoyed the challenge. The tiny niggle I have is at 21a where not only is the answer not widely known (I would suggest) but the solver is left with a choice of two wordplay elements after filling all the checking letters. How many of you had to search to confirm the answer?

Speaking of answers, if you are new to the blog you can, as ever, find them by dragging your cursor between the curly brackets. 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.


7a Son must have bravery, not wanting a whip (7)
{SCOURGE} – To start things off we need the usual abbreviation of Son followed by a synonym of ‘bravery’ with the ‘a’ removed (not wanting a). The result is a word meaning whip as a noun or flog as a verb.

8a A he-man wandering around one Californian city (7)
[ANAHEIM} – A  city in Orange County California is an anagram (wandering) of A HE-MAN around ‘I’ for one.

10a Communicate basic instruction for voter (3,6)
{PUT ACROSS} – If you need to be told this then you may be too daft to vote!. The instruction for a voter would be written (3,1,5) but as written above it means communicate or convey (e.g. an idea).

11a Little bird to ‘oller — and in French! (5)
{OWLET} – A baby bird of prey. Remove the first letter from a word meaning to holler (or hoot, geddit?!!) and add to the French word for ‘and’.

12a This competitor getting nearer? Not first! (5)
{LOSER} – My mum always said “Well, someone has to come last!”. This unfortunate race competitor is derived from a synonym for nearer, again losing its head.

13a Form of belief that accepts terrible fate (9)
{DEFEATISM} – A lovely &Lit, or all-in-one clue. Put an anagram of FATE in the belief in a God to reveal a willingness to accept losing.

15a The control in that place (7)
{THEREIN} – A simple charade of THE and a word for control (of a horse, maybe).

17a Old record is quiet when set alongside most recent (7)
{PLATTER} – A record from the gramophone era; put the musical abbreviation for ‘quietly’ in front of a word for more recent or most recent (of two).

18a Assailant’s got nasty dogs (9)
{ALSATIANS} – An anagram (got nasty) of ASSAILANT gives a plural noun for dogs that can be lovely, depending on their trainers.

20a Inertia in hospital after a particular period (5)
{SLOTH} – Think of a particular period as a holding point of an aircraft on a runway perhaps. Add to this the abbreviation for Hospital and you have the Deadly Sin of indolence.

21a Board game hard for woman to follow (5)
{HALMA} – Not a firm family favourite chez gnomethang! In fact I have never heard of it and had to use a search engine to confirm the answer. Take Hard, then add a woman’s name (you effectively have a choice between Olga and Alma). The result is a board game invented in 1883 or 1884 by an American plastic surgeon at Harvard Medical School, George Howard Monks.

23a Shopkeepers deftly absorbing taunts? Quite the opposite (9)
{JEWELLERS} – These vendors of expensive baubles combine two words, one meaning ‘deftly’ and the other ‘taunts’. The initial wordplay requires us to but ‘taunts’ into ‘deftly’ but ‘Quite the opposite’ tells us to put ‘deftly’ in ‘taunts’. The checking letters help a great deal!.

24a Ruins silver in wild parties (7)
{RAVAGES} – A verb meaning to ruin. Place the chemical symbol for silver into a wild party from the 80’s where you can get ‘sorted for E’s and Wizz’.
(Cue seamless segue into the wonderful Jarvis Cocker and Pulp)
ARVE Error: need id and provider

25a Like salad? No — it’s criticised (7)
{ROASTED} – This made me laugh!. A cooking process that you should carry out on meat, hard vegetables but NOT lettuce. It also means criticised or upbraided.


1d Notices Greek character being included in ‘second-rate writers’ (10)
{POETASTERS} – The last one in, along with 21a, and a word that I have heard in the past but not appreciated. The wordplay is clear but choice of words is tricky. We need a letter of the Greek alphabet placed inside an advertisement stuck on a wall. The definition is a ‘Writer of Contemptible (or poor) verses. Note that the 5 letter suffix is used to denote a ‘poor imitation of’.

2d Bullet needs little time — fast mover (6)
{TRACER} – This bullet contains a small pyrotechnic charge that ignites on firing to allow the shooter to follow the path relative to the target. Place the usual abbreviation of Time in front of a fast mover or runner. See below – they are the ones with the little red tip.

3d Blonde he gets into trouble — is under a moral obligation (8)
{BEHOLDEN} – Someone who has been placed under an obligation or debt of gratitude is described thus. We are looking for an anagram (gets into trouble) of BLONDE HE. The surface reading nicely conveys an image of a young man who needs to ‘do the right thing!’.

4d Part of mountain that sounds huge (6)
{MASSIF} – Our first homophone. The central bulk of a mountain (Chambers also gives an orographic fault-block for all you geologists!) sounds like an adjective meaning huge or weighty.

5d View offered by soldiers in republic (8)
{PANORAMA} – The abbreviated soldiers in this case are the standard rank and file. When inserted into a Central American Republic we get a landscape or view

6d Inventor sounding like a very attractive person (4)
{BELL} – Our second and last homophone is a Scottish Inventor and sounds like an attractive girl (although the word is slightly old fashioned)

7d Locum educationist will provide rescheduled lectures — happy? (6,7)
{SUPPLY TEACHER} – An anagram (rescheduled) of LECTURES HAPPY leads to a stand-in educator who turns up when the usual master is sick (or sick to death of the kids!)

9d Dilapidated Dorset home Pam totally transformed (13)
{METAMORPHOSED} – Big Word Time!. Another anagram, here indicated by dilapidated, of DORSET HOME PAM leads to a verb associated with process of a caterpillar turning into a moth or butterfly. Some of you, like me initially, may have been looking for a word for dilapidated since ‘totally transformed could also serve perfectly as an anagram indicator – a nice bit of misdirection!.

14d Quiet types at home, not drinking, cuddling dog, beginning to snooze (10)
{INTROVERTS} – A lovely image of someone who eschews the outside world, preferring their own company. The standard two letter word for ‘at home’ is followed by the abbreviation for Teetotal containing (cuddling – aww!) a generic dog’s name.

16d Turn away east abandoning a whole lot of mountains (8)
{ESTRANGE} – Remove A from ‘east’ and add a series of mountains in a line. The result is a verb meaning to turn away or isolate from oneself.

17d The old man’s weapon is something guard may want (8)
{PASSWORD} – The required response to a question posed by a guard to allow access. If you break the word down as (2’1,5) it will read as your dad’s saber, for example.

19d Alter advertisement completely (6)
{ADJUST} – Alter is the definition. We have a charade of an abbreviation for ‘advertisement’ with a word for completely (as in ” It was —- beautiful, Man!”).

20d Ruler in the last month in hospital (6)
{SULTAN} – This was a tricky little clue. The ruler in question is a Muslim ruler associated with the Ottoman Empire. We need a Latin abbreviation for ‘the last’ – also the last month – and around that another TLA (Three Letter Abbreviation), this time of a hospital or clinic.

22d Liking nothing in sport (4)
{LOVE} – A double definition to close with; one meaning passion or liking, the other is the zero score in some sports that is named after the French word for egg.

Plenty of fine clues here (and no hidden words I noticed), but I am going to plump for 3d and 14d as my favourites. Many thanks to Giovanni and we look forward to your comments!.

38 comments on “DT 26258

  1. Many thanks for a fine review of a fine crossword and to Giovanni for the treat. Personally, I did not find this much trickier than is usual for the Friday puzzle. Favourite clues were 13a, 18a, 3d and 9d.

  2. Best puzzle I’ve done for a while. It was a day for learning for me. I wasn’t familiar with 8a, 21a or 1d.

    I think I’ve played a version of 21a, as a child, but didn’t know its name. If I remember correctly, it would come in a compendium of games, along with ludo, snakes & ladders, etc.

    Too many good clues to pick a favourite.

  3. Thanks, Gnomethang. Having reviewed lots of Giovanni puzzles now, I definitely thought that this one was at the harder end of the range, but very entertaining. My favourite clues were 13a, 3d and 14d.

  4. Thanks, Gnomethang. A perfect review for an enjoyable puzzle. i knew 21a (from my stock of hardly-ever-used general knowledge) but not heard of 1d before. Liked 13a and 9d.

  5. Too hard for me! Got about half way. 10/13a probably my favourites. Thought of ‘pa’ for start of 17d, but oftentimes the ‘s is dropped, so I dropped it; got it with the checking letters. Did think of ‘adjust’ for 19d, but couldn’t see what ‘just’ had to do with ‘completely’. 17a a new meaning, never heard of 21a of course and 1d a new word. Enjoyable, but all a bit uphill!

    1. Geoff, you are entirely correct on your observation regarding the ‘s in ‘”Pa’s” (and other words). There are a number of ways that the setter can exploit this little beastie. May I recommend This Article from the excellent Crossword Unclued website which helps with a number of uses and examples

      1. Thanks. Useful article and looks like an interesting site that I don’t think I’ve looked at before. Wonderful clue with the answer ‘apostrophe’!

  6. Tough one today but some fantastic clues. I had the answers to 21a, 23a and 20d but wouldn’t have been able to work out why without the hints. In fact I’m still in the dark about 20d! Worked out 1d from the wordplay but, again, its a new word for me! Couldn’t get 6d at all until I saw the hint.

    Loads of misleading clues with super surface readings but 13a and 17d stood out for me.

    Thanks for a great review.

    1. cyclingbob – the word for ‘hospital’ or ‘health resort’ is more common in America and is described in Chambers as “Imitation Latin esp. N American”

      1. Got it now ta. Not an abbreviation I’m familiar with at all. Same thing with the latin abbrev. as well. I’ll remember them now though :-)

  7. Agree with cycling bob re tough and fantastic. Don’t think I would ever have got 1d.

  8. Thanks to Giovanni for a lovely and enjoyable crossword and to Gnomethang for a great review.Liked 1d and although I normally don’t like anagrams, 9d.

  9. Lovely crossword with too many good clues to pick out a favourite. Like others, getting 21a needed a dictionary and a bit of guesswork. Thanks to Giovanni and to Gnomethang

  10. I am in agreement today! It was an excellent puzzle and an excellent review Gnomethang – thank you.

    My favourite clues were 15a 17a and 14d. Ha trouble with 20d – got it from the cross letters but didn’t know why until I read your review.

    BTW re 14d I think you have left the final s off the word in brackets – you only have 9 letters – not 10.

  11. Thanks gnomethang – great review. Managed to complete it but had to google halma and poetaster as I’d never heard of either word. Well worth the 4 star difficulty but good fun nontheless! Just a small point – I thought the platter wasn’t the record but the revolving turntable you put it on!
    Thanks to Giovanni for a great work-out!

    1. Pommers, Chambers give ‘A gramophone record’. It also gives the disc in a hard drive and a large flat plate or dish. To be fair it could mean either depending on context.

  12. agree with all comments above, so thanks to all. Had 3rd woman’s name at 21a in addition to alma and olga, Ella, so also googled ‘Hella’!

    1. I had a number of other names that would fit – Elsa, Isla, Elka, Alba, Elna, Elia, Alva!
      Perhaps Giovanni, since like others I had no idea of the answer, could have helped by invoking dear old Miss.Cogan thereby narrowing the lottery search for a woman’s name from at least ten names to one.

  13. Oof!
    Thanks for the help gnomethang, I don’t think I could have done that without you.

  14. Oooo a tough Giovanni but those that I got were enjoyable (not that there were many!!). Couple of unknown words that I would never have got. By the way I think 1d is plural to gel in with 18a. Not my favourite Giovanni, rather too difficult for me but all this weeks have been real toughies. Here’s hoping for some relief next week and at least a couple that I can finish :-)

    1. Thanks Barrie – second one I missed today and now corrected. I hope you have a better week next week but this is a good one in which to check the answers against the wordplay.

  15. Many thanks Gnomethang. Didn’t get 1d – although I have no excuse as I knew the word. Also gave up on 21a and 23a. 19d and 20d also escaped me until I’d seen your hint and got 23a. Oh well!

  16. id took me back to my schooldays some 60 years ago! We had to learn a poem called “The P——–s of Ishpahan” Incredible how poetry sticks in the brain! Found this the hardest crossword of the week

  17. The clue for 17A should state “more recent” if looking for the comparative (latter); “most recent” is superlative, which requires 3 or more things to be compared, and would lead to “lattest”, or more properly “latest”.

  18. Excellent puzzle today, enjoyed the struggle. Still left with 1d and 21a, out and about so can’t look them up. Will see if my half guesses are correct tomorrow. Good fun.

    1. Put ULT (last month) inside SAN (sanatorium / hospital) and you get SULTAN (ruler)

      This is a good example of definition (ruler) IN wordplay (the last month in hospital) which is a correct usage of IN.

  19. Don’t usually do Friday but this was superb – after a slow start. I confess it was like sitting an exam. Stare at the paper for the first ten minutes convinced you will get no answers. Anyway, they started to flow. Finished with the help of Chambers. I did not actually know the meaning of 1 down – but the play by Clifford Bax was well known in girls’ school drama competitions 50 years ago! SE corner was the last to crack. Ist in was 8 ac – can always rely on an anagram to get me going. Favourites were 10 ac and 15 ac. 13a clever once I realised that “accepts” is used in two different ways.

  20. Thoroughly enjoyable puzzle. Failed to solve 21a without access to any reference books. The wife forgot the first rule of packing for a holiday and left the dictionary at home! Thanks to Giovanni and to Gnomethang.

  21. Just throwing away old papers and noticed we hadn’t completed either 1d or 21a (surprise, surprise). Looked them up to discover two words completely new to me. Another possibility for 21a was HELLA, – can’t even say I know ALMA as a woman’s name. Oh well, at least we did this Friday’s in pretty short order

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