DT 26267 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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DT 26267

Daily Telegraph Cryptic No 26267

Hints and tips by Gazza

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

We have an entertaining puzzle from Shamus today (but no Nina, as far as I can tell!). Let us know your thoughts in a comment!
As always, the answers are hidden inside the curly brackets under the clues. Highlight the space between the brackets to reveal them.

Across Clues

1a  Unscrupulous live bet? Tell who is corrupt (5,3,4)
{BELOW THE BELT} – a phrase, derived from boxing, meaning unscrupulous or outside the bounds of what is fair is constructed from BE (live) followed by an anagram (is corrupt) of BET TELL WHO.

8a  In which Romans mobilised say among amphitheatre performers? (7)
{LEGIONS} – the major divisions into which the Roman army was organised are made by putting EG (say, for example) inside performers in the circuses of Rome. I couldn’t decide whether the word for these performers is meant to be taken literally (and these beasts certainly took part in the Roman circuses) or is a metaphor for the brave men, such as gladiators, who fought there.

9a  Severely punish leaders of teenage rowdies with measure (7)
{TROUNCE} – a verb meaning to punish severely comes from the initial letters (leaders) of Teenage Rowdies followed by a unit of weight equal to 1/16 of a pound.

11a  Wrongly put dear deal in dearer terms (5,2)
{TRADE UP} – an anagram (wrongly) of PUT DEAR gives us a phrasal verb meaning to exchange what you currently have for something more expensive.

12a  One taken as security from house and theatre (7)
{HOSTAGE} – someone who is held captive as security for the fulfilment of a condition is constructed from an abbreviation of house followed by a metaphor for the theatre.

13a  Soldiers returning in watch largely not a friendly force (5)
{ENEMY} – reverse (returning) ordinary soldiers and put them inside a verb meaning to watch which has lost its final E (largely).

14a  Obligatory holder of post (9)
{INCUMBENT} – double definition, the second used for the current holder of an office (often ecclesiastical).

16a  Board arrive around college with note (9)
{COMMITTEE} – a group of people who meet regularly to carry out some allotted business (board) is formed from a verb meaning to arrive which surrounds a famous New England technology college and a note from tonic sol-fa.

19a  Short walk around a golf tournament (3-2)
{PRO-AM} – put a short walk, often along the shoreline, around A to get a golf tournament, usually held to raise money for charity, in which full-time players are partnered with part-timers (often celebrities).

21a  Good road almost in close country (7)
{ENGLAND} – to get the name of this country put G(ood) and a synonym for road without its final E (almost) inside a verb meaning to close or finish.

23a  Dissimilar woman with dig (7)
{UNALIKE} – a charade is made by putting a woman’s name (and a charade is very appropriate if you’re thinking of the same person that I am) ahead of a verb for which dig is a slang alternative.

24a  Poor international, no good as import (7)
{MEANING} – the definition is import or significance. Start with an adjective meaning poor or inferior and add I(international) and the abbreviation for No Good.

25a  Quiet period among books before start of easier work (7)
{OPERATE} – a verb meaning to work or function is made by putting P (piano, quiet) and a synonym for period inside the abbreviation for the books which form the first part of the Bible, then finishing with the first letter (start) of Easier.

26a  Nancy’s indefinable quality? (2,2,4,4)
{JE NE SAIS QUOI} – the appearance of Nancy (like Nice) at the start of a clue so that it starts with a capital letter should make you suspect a French connection. What we want here is a French phrase indicating that the speaker can’t quite pin down some elusive quality.

Down Clues

1d  Tigers, say, in cup final? (3,4)
{BIG GAME} – double definition. Tigers are an example (say) of this, as are the animals from 8a.

2d  See female writer first in a rough sense (7)
{LOOSELY} – the definition is in a rough sense. When you’ve got the answer it’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking that the first two letters are “see”. Actually, see is being used in the ecclesiastical sense, so we want a Cambridgeshire diocese and before that (first) put the surname of the female author of “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes”.

3d  Feeble reason to restrict southern school for campaigners? (4,5)
{WEST POINT} – I love this clue. School for campaigners is the US military academy where army officers are trained. To get its name start with a term for feeble (as used by Mrs Thatcher), add a synonym for reason or relevance and put S(outhern) inside (restricted).

4d  Old director’s problem (5)
{HITCH} – double definition, the first being the familiar nickname for the film director who was the master of suspense.

5d  Employer acquiring liberal award in flourish (7)
{BLOSSOM} – a verb meaning to flourish is made from an informal noun for employer with L(iberal) inside (acquiring), followed by an award which is in the personal gift of the sovereign and which is limited to 24 living recipients at any one time.

6d  Story about horse carrying European ancestry (7)
{LINEAGE} – the definition is ancestry. Place a story or untruth around (about) an informal word for a horse and inside that (carrying) put E(uropean).

7d  Fool sadly created bit of mess making delicacy (7,5)
{CLOTTED CREAM} – we want a dairy product (delicacy) which is a speciality of the area where I live. Start with a fool, add an anagram (sadly) of CREATED and finish with the first letter (bit) of M(ess).

10d  Activity supported by English politician before day is calm (4-8)
{EVEN-TEMPERED} – to get an adjective meaning calm or not easily annoyed start with an activity or competition and add (supported by, in a down clue) E(nglish), the usual abbreviation for a politician, a poetic word meaning before and D(ay).

15d  Unsuspecting child initially rues loud eccentric (9)
{CREDULOUS} – an adjective meaning prepared to believe anything (unsuspecting) starts with the first letter (initially) of C(hild) which is followed by an anagram (eccentric) of RUES LOUD.

17d  Tycoon having a grand name in China (7)
{MAGNATE} – in Cockney rhyming slang a pal is a china (short for China plate). Inside this put A G(rand) N(ame) to make a tycoon.

18d  Picture statement by opponent of Ecstasy? (7)
{IMAGINE} – the definition is picture (form a mental image of) as a verb. The question mark should alert you to the fact that the word is constructed in a slightly unorthodox way – it’s how an opponent of E(cstasy) might express his opposition to it, using a dialect form of against.

19d  Some elevated land no longer found in French city (7)
{PLATEAU} – a description of someone who is no longer with us is found in a French city on the edge of the Pyrenees which is regularly on the route of the Tour de France.

20d  A master in beginning curtailed Eastern pastime (7)
{ORIGAMI} – put A and M(aster) inside a synonym for beginning or source which loses its final N (curtailed) to get an Eastern (specifically Japanese) pastime.

22d  Follow scholar’s teaching (5)
{DOGMA} – we finish with a final charade of a verb to follow closely and a Master of Arts (scholar).

The clues which I particularly liked today included 26a, 2d, 7d and 18d, but my clue of the day is 3d. Tell us what you thought in a comment!

55 comments on “DT 26267

  1. Woof! **** difficulty for me!. Ultimately satisfying but I started very slowly with a lot of headscratching. Thanks for the explanation on 2d – it is still penned in lightly as I hadn’t figured it out. 4d, 3d and7d were favourites for me.
    I would also like to take Shamus to task in 1d for failing to use Lions instead of Tigers, thus missing the opportunity to nod towards Millwall (The Mighty Lions)

    Thanks gazza and thanks to Shamus

    1. I’m with gnomey on this one, felt like a **** crossword to me. However 26a was the first to go in :-)

    2. Totally agree with Gnomethang and Libellule, super crossword from Shamus today, loved 3d.

  2. Here we go again with the French phrases 26a.
    2d requires a literary wizz, but apart from that I enjoyed the puzzle overall although 8a was a bit thin.
    Same temp in Newcastle as it is here in Carcassonne, I should have stayed at home Alors!

  3. I am in the “this was trickier than usual camp”. As usual for a Shamus puzzle it was great fun to solve so many thanks to him and also to Gazza for the notes. Favourite clues were 7d, 18d and 3d

  4. Whew! That was hard!

    I only solved fourteen clues (half the puzzle) by myself. The rest I needed dictionaries, electronic aids and the blog to solve. Tuesday is becoming the toughest day of the week for me. Far tougher than Mr Greer on Sunday or Mr Manley on Friday.

    Very good puzzle – but very tough! I need a stiff drink after that one.

    Thanks to Shamus for the puzzle and to Gazza for his usual first-class blog – I found this blog very useful and learned a lot today. Many thanks Gazza – excellent work.

  5. Wow – really hard today – toughie category as far as i’m concerned, at least 4*, am giving up for now, have things to do, will get back to it later maybe, but not without your help Gazza, hasn’t helped that i had big cats for 1d – dunce – and up rated for 11a!!! good luck everyone else, back later and Barrie if you can do this you can do anything :)

    1. decided to stick with it with Gazzas notes, must admit I would only have done about 6 on my own today, even with the blog i found it difficult, just when you feel you are getting the hang of these crosswords someone sends you right back to the darkest corner of the CC, no favourite clues today!

        1. If you pronounce Nancy as if it were a city in France then you have it. What they would say in Nancy, France, for an elusive quality. As I wrote in the answer this morning I said to my husband “We have to thank Nottingham High School and Nottingham Girls’ High School for the good education which enables us to get that clue quickly”. I loved this crossword, particularly 21a so come on 21a!.

          1. Thanks Pamela, although I have to thank Carmarthen Girls Grammar School for knowing the phrase they never did teach us anything about ‘Nancy’ :)

  6. Excellent puzzle but’ didn’t get 2down untill seeing the blog.
    Favourites were 11ac,19ac and 21ac.
    Thanks to compiler and for blog.

  7. Very difficult, I have to be honest I didn’t enjoy it. Too many “almost”s and “largely”s and “bits of”

  8. What is going on with the DT? Are they trying to lose readers? This is another far too tough puzzle for the back page, it would be tough as the Toughie. Come on DT wake your ideas up and play the game.

      1. Maybe but this one is far too tough for the back page. It is difficult to the point of incomprehensible. Take 26a for instance, no indication of any French connection at all and I take my hat off to you for spotting one. I could go one but would only be accused of whinging!! For the CC, a terrible puzzle. It seems as if the DT are making a positive effort to discourage any but experts and put off those who are wanting to give it a try. It used to be that the beginning of the week were quite gentle efforts designed to encourage and later in the week the more difficult (not this difficult though) came out. Now it seems that every day has to be experts only!

  9. I struggled to get started but persevered in view of your encouraging review Gazza and actually finished it, dare not tell how rare that is. No obscure words, hooray! 3D my favourite.
    Thanks Shamus and Gazza for a most entertaining solve

  10. Well, well, well! I was on the same wavelength today, and though it probably took an hour I needed no help or hints at all. Not so the Toughie! Can’t believe you found it so hard, but that’s the way it goes — was going to say that’s the way the mop flops but not ready to divulge my age yet.

    1. Have never heard the expression “the way the mop flops” but, since it instantly conjures up a picture, I am going to use it at every available opportunity in the foreseeable future!! What’s it got to do with age?!!

  11. Along with most others I found this quite difficult – didn’t even get 3d having read the hints, had to look inside the brackets. Liked 26a but am not sure that I would have got it if we hadn’t had “Nice girls” quite recently – also thought that 16a was good.

  12. Definately at least a **** today

    Not very enjoyable & with poor surface readings.

    Guessed 2d but had no idea why until I looked on this site…..never heard of Anita Loos & I doubt more than a tiny handful of people have so it feels very contrived


    1. Have you never heard of “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes” which Anita Loos wrote, later filmed starring Marilyn Monroe and Jane Russell?

  13. This was far too hard for me as a newbie today. I can appreciate the skills that the setter must have in devising some of the clues; but I can’t say that I really enjoyed trying trying to solve them. I think that I only managed four or five answers before I had to resort to this page. I also agree with the earlier commentator that there were too many clues that featured ‘almost’s and ‘largely’s today for my taste.

  14. Oof! I’m glad to see I wasn’t the only one who thought that was tough going. It was completely different to yesterday. A tip of the hat to you Gazza for all of your help, and I’m off down the pub for my birthday beer: another year older and hopefully about twenty years wiser after today’s puzzle.

        1. Isn’t it slightly worrying the way gnomethang is driving us all to drink!!

  15. Had five minutes of panic when I first read the clues, unsure whether a combination of hot sun, quantities of ice cold Croatian beer (not for myself you understand, but on behalf of gnomethang!) and an 8 daybreak had caused my cryptic brain cells to desert me. I got into it in the end apart from SW corner which after a break to deal with the washing mountain while my subconscious got on with the solving, I finished it. I think more of a “cogitator” than a “difficult” puzzle so as I am not bothered too much about instant solving, I would give it *** for both diffiiculty and enjoyment.

  16. Given up. Is this supposed to be a general knowledge crossword or a cryptic one? Even with hints I’m struggling and I’d rather watch Brazil…

  17. 4* for me – a right old challenge and one of the most taxing in recent weeks. Hats off to anyone who completed it – I did not.

    What a pearler!

  18. Too hard to be enjoyable with too many vowels as checking letters.

    Neede the hints to finish – thanks for the blog.

  19. Another disappointing day.

    I echo Barrie’s comment. The Telegraph must be trying to shed readers.

    It took two of us to get none of these.

    1. Peter/Barrie, I agree that this was a tough one. I looked at it and thought ‘Eeek!’ as after going through all the clues I had about 5 written in and was struggling to get into the rest of them. I had an email from a ‘blogger who similarly was wondering if it was just them being daft.

      I think that Crypticsue pitched the problem just right – “I think more of a “cogitator” than a “difficult” puzzle ” – and there is nothing in the puzzle which is unfair or that obscure.

      When I was struggling I forced myself to go ‘Back to Basics’ and examine every word in the construction for three things:
      1) What is the likely definition?
      2)If I have identified the definition, what words are remaining and what can they mean individually – I stopped trying to read the words as a sentence (the setter is trying to fool us!) and focused on the words themselves.
      3) Is there anything else the word can mean apart from what I am thinking of? I find that reading words aloud to look for other interpretations helps a lot as well as looking for the usual abbreviations etc.

      I also examined each clue against the list of standard clue types (as described in Anax’s ‘Rules’ posted on this blog (and also in various books listed here).

      I would suggest that as a solver these tough ones are actually the best type to practice on – it is well worth using the blog against the clues to see what constructions had you fooled and why.
      Hopefully, having got to grips with the harder puzzles you will find them more rewarding.
      As Cicero said: vulgo enim dicitur: jucundi acti labores.

  20. This was indeed a tricky one but I managed to battle through and get it done. Thanks Gazza for the clues which confirmed what I thought, but 18d caused some confusion. Could you please clarify what you mean as I ended up guessing it based on what fitted in. Thanks.

    1. Karl

      Your comments needed re-approving because of the recent change from googlemail to gmail.

      18 down could be read as I’m agin E – I’m against ecstasy

      1. Oh, now I see it. That’s what the ? means then. Every day’s a school day!

        Thanks Big Dave

  21. Enjoyed that thoroughly although it took me a while to get 3d. I did this in the garden while nursing a cold beer & watching my wife tidying the borders. Ah! Bliss!

  22. Only got around to looking at this today. Super puzzle from Shamus. Thanks to Gazza for the explanation for 2d, which eluded me, even though I had the answer!

  23. Phew! Definitly **** !
    Like others took ages to get going then wife got 11a and 3d and we were away!
    Very satisfing in the end!
    Thanks Shamus and Gazza.

  24. I’m with Jezza. The grumblers need to remember that crossword editors have to provide puzzles to keep experienced solvers on their toes as well as ones that give newer solvers a chance. This means there will be some puzzles that some solvers find absurdly hard (and the other way round).

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