DT 26275 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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DT 26275

Daily Telegraph Cryptic No 26275

Hints and tips by Big Dave

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

I have nearly worn out the blue highlighter today – there were so many excellent clues in this puzzle. Once again we don’t know the name of the setter, but we have not had a puzzle as good as this one on a Thursday since Jay relinquished the slot at the start of the year.

The clue at 8 down is one of the best I have seen in a long time. I hope the setter owns up to this one.

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    Obsessive type teaches at Hogwarts? (12)
{TRAINSPOTTER} – I winced when I saw this as my knowledge of Hogwarts is almost non-existent, but this anorak is simply a charade of a word meaning teaches followed by the eponymous schoolboy hero of the books

9a    What gangster demands, muscle in among others (7)
{RESPECT} – the gangster tends to demand that you don’t diss him! – put a short word for a chest muscle inside the others

10a    Strong wind damaged a celebration (7)
{TORNADO} – this violent whirling windstorm characterized by a long funnel-shaped cloud is a charade of damaged, A and a celebration

11a    Being crazy turned to use knife (4)
{STAB} – this is a well-know semordnilap (a word formed by reversing another, somewhat similar to a palindrome) – take a synonym for crazy and reverse it (turned) to get a word meaning to wound a person by using a knife

12a    Vintage traveller through space in small vessel (5)
{CRUET} – a wine vintage is followed by Steven Spielberg’s visitor from outer space to get a small vessel for sauces and condiments – some setters follow a convention that you can have definition IN wordplay but not, as here, the other way around; discuss!

13a    Subtle punishment (4)
{FINE} – a double definition – subtle in the sense of delicate and punishment by a monetary penalty

16a    Developing loftier plant like clover (7)
{TREFOIL} – an anagram (developing) of LOFTIER gives a trifoliate plant, like the clover

17a    Sweet biscuit to have covered in cheese (7)
{BROWNIE} – a square piece of a kind of rich, chewy chocolate cake is derived by putting to have inside a soft French cheese

18a    Peer given honour, one may bear a ring (7)
{EARLOBE} – an excellent example of a charade where neither part is related to syllables in the answer! – combine a peer of the realm with an honour to get a part of the body on which a ring may be worn

21a    Jolly one seen at work in takeaway (7)
{CHIPPER} – a colloquial word for jolly is a device that turns potatoes into a favourite British takeaway food

23a    Be inclined to pay attention to poet (4)
{LIST} – a double definition, the second part of which is a poetic word for to pay attention

24a    Motorway a messy place with poor visibility (5)
{MISTY} – The UK’s main motorway is followed by any messy place, particularly one for pigs, to get poor visibility

25a    Intelligence about Republican leads to legal document (4)
{WRIT} – put intelligence, or common sense, around a R(epublican) to get a legal document

28a    Free from insult an Asian potentate’s wife (7)
{SULTANA} – you need to free the hidden word from this clue to get potentate’s wife

29a    Judge toasted rarebit (7)
{ARBITER} – a person chosen by parties to judge a dispute is an anagram (toasted) of RAREBIT

30a    Engineer in attendance behind Brunel’s ship (5,7)
{GREAT EASTERN} – this cleverly-worded clue puts a Royal Engineer inside the attendance at a match and then a synonym for behind to get one of Brunel’s ships


1d    Finally allot deceased person’s assets, being this (7)
{TESTATE} – T (finally alloT) followed by a deceased person’s assets gives a word meaning having made and left a valid will

2d    Top copy with illiterate signature (4)
{APEX} – the top or highest part of something is constructed by putting to copy before how an illiterate person signs a document

3d    Tenor breaks into note heard neither sharp nor flat (7)
{NATURAL} – put T(enor) inside N(ote) and a word meaning heard to get a note that is neither sharp nor flat ()

4d    Kitchen plant for cooking endless pea broth (3,4)
{POT HERB} – this kitchen plant is an anagram (cooking) of PE(A) (endless pea) and BROTH – the enumeration of this plant often causes arguments; Chambers gives, as here, (3, 4) the ODE gives (3-4) and elsewhere you might find (7)

5d    End time at university (4)
{TERM} – this is a clever double definition – an end and a period of time at University or other educational establishment

6d    Broken toenail brings great joy! (7)
{ELATION} – an anagram (broken) of TOENAIL leads to great joy

7d    What politicians on the stump do could give newspapers source of temptation (5,3,5)
{PRESS THE FLESH} – a term used by politicians to describe shaking hands with lots of people is a charade of the collective word for newspapers together with the physical body as a source of temptation

I didn’t realise that some of you would not be aware of the expression “on the stump” so here is a link:

8d    Here, T May’s core work (4,9)
{HOME SECRETARY} – wow! – an excellent, and topical all-in-one clue – an anagram (work) of HERE T MAY’S CORE gives Theresa May’s new job

Whoops, that was Teresa May!  Here’s Theresa.

14d    Drive model car in wild place (5)
{MOTOR} – a word meaning to drive a car is constructed by putting an early model of Ford car inside a wide expanse of uncultivated ground often covered with heather

15d    Subject: best one, first in class (5)
{TOPIC} – a subject, as in a talking point, is a charade of the best, I (one) and C (first in Class)

19d    Person in charge rounding up street criminal (7)
{RUSTLER} – put the person in charge of a country around ST(reet) to get a criminal who steals cattle – nice to see this clued without mentioning stocktaking!

20d    Go abroad rejecting Government for Arab country (7)
{EMIRATE} – a word meaning to go and live abroad without the G(overnment) gives one of several Arab countries

21d    Blade snubbed girl (7)
{CUTLASS} – this blade that is often wielded by a pirate is a charade of snubbed and a young girl

22d    Person shunning extravagance cooks a turnip (7)
{PURITAN} – to get this person shunning extravagance you need an anagram (cooks) of A TURNIP

26d    Beat a Tibetan monk (4)
{LAMA} – a word meaning to beat is followed by A to get a Tibetan monk

27d    Accomplished politician, not Conservative (4)
{ABLE} – to get this word meaning accomplished simply remove the C(onservative) from the Liberal Democrat Business Secretary

Thursday’s are really looking up. Libellule will be asking to have his old slot back if this continues!

43 comments on “DT 26275

  1. I agree with the above sentiment; excellent puzzle from the mystery setter! I did fail to solve 12a, as I could not fathom the wordplay. A minor grumble at 4d, as I initially thought the endless referred to the ‘H’ of broth.
    Thanks to BD for the review.

  2. BD,
    Just read through the blog, and have to agree with you, a real treat today, and last Thursdays crossword was pretty good too.

  3. 12a.
    Good point, although in fairness it’s generally the crossword editors who decide whether or not this juxtaposition is allowable. I don’t mind it – at the end of the day, Ron, if the clue makes enough logical sense to be solvable it’s OK in my book.

    1. I have been meaning for some time to suggest a chapter for your “Crossword Rules” on the use of two-letter words.

      In, on, by, etc. cause so many problems for setters and solvers alike.

  4. I am glad I wasn’t the only one to seek the wrong anagram at 4d. What a great crossword – big smile on my face when I finished it. I was a little dubious about term for end but I am in the office without access to Chambers so I am sure it will be in there – as ever. Is there an electronic or Internet dictionary that others use?

    1. If its just a definition that I want to confirm and in particular it is a proper noun or obscure plant I would just Google, sometime using “Define: WORD”. If it was in any way important to be highly accurate I would rather use Chambers or OED than e.g. Wiki

      1. For a long time I used the subscription-only online Chambers (different from the free version). Since they have stopped taking renewals, i have switched to WordWeb Pro, which gives me access to Chambers 11th edition, Chambers Thesaurus, The Oxford Dictionary of English, Wiktionary, Wikipedia, OneLook etc. all from the same window. What makes it a real winner for me, however, is that clicking on any word and using a hot-key (I use Ctrl + right mouse) takes me straight into WordWeb Pro – I don’t know how I ever managed without it!


            1. Dave, I downloaded your link to Wordweb, and it looks very useful. How does the hot-key work? I try highlighting a word in Word, then Ctrl / Right Mouse, but get told that the selection isn’t valid?

              1. Firstly, you may have the free version and I’m not sure what is available there.

                For the Pro version, go to Options / Hotkey and set the required key combination. Ctrl / right mouse was not the default, but I find it so easy to operate.

                Hope that makes sense.

  5. Ditto the above! – I had 8d pegged as soon as I solved it. Fine &Lit. 30a also worked extremely well. I suffered Jezza’s fate on 4d for a while but as you say no complaints!.
    Thanks to BD and also to our Mystery Thursday Setter.

    1. I’m in the 4d Club too, but that didn’t spoil the rest of it for me. I thought 10a, 18a and even 22d were some of the most enjoyable clues I’ve been able to solve. Top marks from me and a firm handshake for Big Dave and the setter.

  6. Yes, best crossword for weeks. All 4 13-letter clues were crackers plus a special mention for 18a is deserved.

  7. Excellent puzzle. Only had trouble with 12a – was running through a list of old (vintage) travellers but got there in the end. 8d was very clever but I also liked 1a.

  8. I was all set to say that I couldn’t get an anagram of PEABROT, and that the wordplay on 12a had me confused, but I see that almost everyone else had similar trouble, so I won’t.

  9. That was so good! Thoroughly enjoyed it and did a fair number without the hints – and when I did open the page, it was an early version without the helpful pictures. Ditto several others at 4d; 7d an unfamiliar expression. Needed a few hints and failed on 26d, the options on ?A?A are many and various and didn’t know either the monk or the US slang. Favourites have to include 1a, 3d, 8d.

    Excellent puzzle and review, thanks.

  10. Very enjoyable crossword from our mystery setter. 1a was my favourite. Thanks for the notes BD and thanks to X, whoever he or she may be.

  11. Had a bit of trouble with some of these – couldn’t do 12a, 23a or 7d. The first two I maybe should have got but have never heard the expression 7d – even having read the hint I had to look in the brackets – where did the stump come from – still don’t understand – am I just being dim?! Having never read any of the Harry Potter books nor seen any of the films I thought, when I read the first clue, that it was going to be a name but soon realised what it was.

    1. Kath,
      “on the stump” means going around campaigning, which is when politicians shake hands (press the flesh) and kiss lots of babies!

  12. I don’t usually do the Thursday puzzle but decided to give it a try.

    Found it quite tricky and did have to use the review to help, but SO worthwhile! Challenging, interesting, & really made me think—such a change from many anagrams etc.

    I didn’t get 8d—-so obvious once it was explained! !

    Many thanks for the puzzle and review.

  13. Excellent puzzle, so agree with all Daves comments. Esp love 1a, made me laugh out loud. Needed help with just one 23a, never heard of List being used in a poetic context before. For me such a relief after yesterdays Ray T horror. Yes I know you all love him but not me.

      1. Sorry nothing personal, just cannot fathom your puzzles! What about the odd phrase or two to help relieve the tension?

  14. I quite agree, it was a superb offering from the mystery setter. 12a was my bete noir. – I’d actually got the answer, but couldn’t work out why. Thanks BD.

  15. Although I visit the site daily I very seldom make a comment but like everyone else I thought today’s puzzle a delight.My favourite was 1a. I am still smiling!!

  16. Pleased to read the favourable comments. The mystery setter has published several toughies as Messinae and sets regularly for the Indepent under a different name, but this is the first regular DT puzzle.

    1. Welcome, Messinae. Thanks for unmasking the mystery setter, and thanks for the excellent puzzle. Let’s hope it’s the first of many!

  17. Excellent. Not even misdirected by 4d since ‘endless’ was immediately in front of ‘pea’.

  18. Gosh everyone seems to agree, including me.

    8d was one of very few I could not fathom, but having seen the answer I can have no complaint.

  19. Enjoyed that but not being musical could not get 3d & 12a was just pushing it too far!

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