DT 26293 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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DT 26293

Daily Telegraph Cryptic No 26293

Hints and tips by Big Dave

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BD Rating – Difficulty ** Enjoyment **

This week’s mystery setter has given us a puzzle that I can think of little to say about, so that’s what I’ll do.

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    Records a pound, extraordinary sum (6)
{ALBUMS} – these records are a charade of A, the symbol for a pound in weight and an anagram (extraordinary) of SUM

4a    Mysterious European, very tense man (8)
{ESOTERIC} – a word meaning mysterious is built up from E(uropean) a synonym for very, T(ense) and a man’s name

9a    What winter in Lapland is like? Head off, if not (6)
{UNLESS} – winter in Lapland is very dark – remove the first letter (head off) from a word that describes this to get a synonym for “if not”

10a    Completely astonish toxopholite? (4,4)
{BOWL OVER} – a phrasal verb meaning to completely astonish could be an archer (toxopholite [sic]) if split (3,5)

11a    Ambassador’s enthralled by sign in reference book (9)
{THESAURUS} – put the title of an ambassador inside (enthralled by) a star sign to get an indispensable reference book for crossword solvers (and setters)

13a    Admit juvenile’s lost face (5)
{ALLOW} – a word meaning to admit or grant is derived by dropping the first letter (lost face) from juvenile or immature

14a    A dance could make a number, not all, feel giddy (9,4)
{EIGHTSOME REEL} – a Scottish dance is built up from the number of dancers involved, a few but not all and to feel giddy, possibly because of excess drinking

17a    Symbols and holy ciphers GI decoded (13)
{HIEROGLYPHICS} – Symbols used in ancient Egyptian picture-writing are an anagram (decoded) of HOLY CIPHERS GI

21a    Dismay a missionary, reportedly (5)
{APPAL} – to dismay sounds like A and a missionary in the Bible

23a    Trick may get huge flans recalled (9)
{STRATAGEM} – a trick or scheme is constructed from huge and flans all reversed (recalled)

24a    State in a right state (8)
{ARKANSAS} – a US state comes from A R(ight) and another US state

25a    Or is he mistaken, this shopkeeper? (6)
{HOSIER} – an anagram (mistaken) of OR IS HE gives a shopkeeper who stocks underwear

26a    Go with extra pie (8)
{TURNOVER} – a go or shot followed by extra or surplus gives an apple pie

27a    Barking dogs at party (4,2)
{STAG DO} – an anagram (barking) of DOGS AT gives a party for men only, especially one held for a man about to be married – Elgar is having one next Saturday in Oxford


1d    Sharpness shown by a copper on it close to motorway (6)
{ACUITY} – a synonym for sharpness is built up from A, the chemical symbol for copper, IT and the final letter of (close to) motorwaY

2d    Almost ring De Vere relaxing in pavilion (9)
{BELVEDERE} – most of (almost) a ring or chime followed by an anagram (relaxing) of DE VERE leads to a pavilion on the top of a house, built to provide a view

3d    Wild animal gets Laurel in the face (7)
{MUSTANG} – a wild horse is derived by putting Oliver Hardy’s partner inside a slang word for the face

5d    Appears with good sort of act attracting prolonged applause (11)
{SHOWSTOPPER} – a word meaning appears or turns up is followed by a person who excels at anything (a good sort) to get an act that attracts prolonged applause

6d    Husbandry prior to decline (7)
{TILLAGE} – the preparation of land for growing crops (husbandry) is a charade of “prior to” or “up to the time of” and to decline or get older

7d    Composer in rage over ending in ‘Parsifal’ (5)
{RAVEL} – a French composer is derived from to rage over the final letter (ending in) ParsifaL

8d    Worn, strangely, during visit in part of England (8)
{CORNWALL} – put an anagram (strangely) of WORN inside a visit to get a county in Southwest England

12d    Reptile unnerves nude no doubt, at first (11)
{RATTLESNAKE} – this reptile is a charade of unnerves or flusters with a synonym for nude without the first letter (no …. T first) of Doubt

15d    What may help to make jockeys relaxed? (4,5)
{EASY GOING} –a double definition – possibly the condition of the ground on a race course and relaxed

16d    Yokel eating first piece of high game bird (8)
{PHEASANT} – if you see yokel and bird in the same clue you should know what’s coming! – put H (piece of High) inside the yokel to get a game bird

18d    Character in love with Rosalind in Woolf novel (7)
{ORLANDO} – another double definition – the character in love with Rosalind in Shakespeare’s As You Like It and a book by Virginia Woolf

19d    Anthem’s opening before it (7)
{INTROIT} – the anthem sung at the beginning of Mass is derived from the opening passage of a jazz or popular music piece and IT

20d    What could be the beginning or be my undoing? (6)
{EMBRYO} – an animal or plant in its earliest stages of development (What could be the beginning) is an anagram (undoing) of OR BE MY

22d    Game — fine cuts for each (5)
{POKER} – a card game is created by putting a synonym for fine, as in satisfactory, inside a word meaning for each

Posted early as I will be out all morning.

96 comments on “DT 26293

  1. Agree its very average – although I have to say today’s so-called Toughie slightly easier – both of them were no trouble at all to finish in one sitting – which is good because I have the dentist in my lunch hour!

  2. I’m with you, Crypticsue.
    Nothing hard from either two
    Hope your Dentist does OK
    Tomorrow is another day.

  3. Nothing more to add to the above.
    Is there a misprint in the cluedup toughie 21a? Looks like an extra ‘an’ not needed.

  4. Made a right pig’s ear of this by starting with Elgar for 7d and not spelling 11a correctly. Got back on track – favourite clue 10a.

    1. Prolixic,
      Re. 7d – Not just me then :-) Error quickly corrected when I realised what 4a had to be.

    2. And me! That wasn’t the only clue that revealed my inexperience14 a and 2 d are both filed away now for future reference. Thanks for te help Big Dave!

  5. Minor typo in your clue for 1a – should be “pound”. Agree with everyone’s views, so here’s to tomorrow. Nubian’s a poet, and didn’t know it!

      1. Oh yes (5,7,5)… very good! I presume the ‘fish’ bit, was the reference to the natural world?

  6. To me, I will admit, this was quite hard in parts. 7d was an outrage as I would have sworn the answer was elgar – misleading surely (or is that the whole point?)

    1. Hi spencermay – welcome to the blog.
      Sorry for the delay in getting your first comment approved.

    2. The wordplay doesn’t quite work for Elgar does it? If you assume that “over” means reverse RAGE, then there’s no insertion indicator telling you to put the L in the middle rather than at the end.

  7. I stayed my pen at 7d as I spotted the 2 possibilities and waited for checking letters like a good boy!
    Not much more to add – OK but workmanlike and nothing to shout about. 5d was favourite.
    Thanks to the setter and BD for the review.

  8. Sorry I just don’t see this as a 2 star, it was jolly tricky with some weird words (belvedere, introit) both of which I had to google to find out what they meant. Thought it was a good 3 star and having finished it (albeit with help) I feel a bit cheated to be told it was only a 2 star. Best clue for me 1a and worst definitely 23a (nasty!).

      1. Blimey if you think thats easier, I take my hat off to you. Can’t even start it! It’s like a Ray T times 10!

        1. My apologies, I took a longer look at the Toughie over a cup of tea and to my amazement, it came together and I completed it for the 1st time EVER!! Never tried an Excalibur before.

    1. Yesterday I ramped the difficulty up to four stars and nearly everyone complained! I found this one very easy. BELVEDERE leapt out of the clue and INTROIT came up in DT 26221, less than three months ago.

      12a Opening bars to Italian anthem (7)

      1. OK I agree that difficulty, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder but with two obscure words it seems to me that it is more than a 2 star. Don’t remember introit at all, not a word I am familiar with and belvedere was tough because it wasn’t a complete anagram but one where you needed to solve another part to reach a word that is certainly not in common usage. For these reasons alone I stand by my original assessment.

        1. Barrie

          I guess that already having the initial B from 1a helped a lot, but having …VEDERE as an anagram of DE VERE wasn’t particularly difficult.

  9. Big Dave, I see Cluedup are up to their normal standard of leaderboard setting. Has anyone ever queeried the reasoning behind their logic? I gave up on it months ago but you must have got frustrated with your positioning today or are you like me ?.

    1. Both Chambers and the ODE agree with you – it is unusual for the enumeration to be different from that shown in Chambers.

      1. I think I heard last year that there were moves afoot to take the hyphen out of the English language. Perish the thought. What with that and people having it in for the apostrophe too, I despair for our beautiful language.

  10. I think this is probably more than a 2*. Unlike most other people who have posted comments, I really enjoyed it. Managed to finish without any hints but, on first run through, ie reading all the clues and putting in anything that was easy and quick (including Elgar for 7d?) I only had about six answers so was convinced that it was going to be a real stinker but then things fell into place fairly easily and quickly, for me anyway. I thought that there were a lot of good clues – 9a, 10a, 14a, 23a, 5d, 12d, 18d. Feeling a bit sorry for the mystery setter as nobody seems to have anything good to say about the puzzle today!

    1. Collywobbles:
      Chambers gives
      1) The anthem sung at the start of a mass,…,when the priest has ascended to the altar (Roman Catholic)

      2) In other denominations an introductory hymn or passage

  11. 2* seems fair, quite a straightforward solve. Last in was 6d. I seem to remember 19d appearing in The Times in the past six months, too.

  12. I am definitely with Barrie on this one, I didn’t like it at all and found it the hardest of the week so far, yesterdays toughie was easier for me, too many words I didn’t know, not the kind of crossword I find easy to get into, no more to say ……..now don’t all shout ‘that makes a change’ :)

  13. Thought maybe I’d been a bit tough on it but no, on reading through I definitely have to agree (with myself) too many words I didn’t know, too much general knowledge needed. no I didn’t find it easy, no I didn’t like it, may try the toughie

  14. I think we had 23a just a few weeks ago! It certainly makes it easier when clues are repeated, but less of a challenge.

  15. Oh good, Barrie AND Mary struggled with this – as did I. Like yesterday, I just couldn’t see what the setter was getting at with most of the constructs. Didn’t like, didn’t enjoy. Sometimes I seem to be making no progress at all …

    Is there a connection between Ravel and Parsifal? Can’t find one – put in Elgar anyway.

    Thanks for review, virtually nothing made any sense without it, alas

      1. Mary, have you tried todays Toughie, I was told and I agree that it was easier than this one? For the 1st time ever I completed a Toughie so it must be quite straightforward. Quite fun as well which is more than can be said for this one.

    1. Have a look at the explanation above, the only connection is the last letter of Parsifal as in ending!!

      1. As usual, I read close = nearby instead of = end or shut. But I guess a word like festival could have been used just as easily as Parsifal. Looked at Toughie and could do just one …

  16. I’m with the minority. I thought there were some good tricky clues. I needed help only with the reptile clue as couldn’t work out the wordplay but overall it took me a lot longer than yesterdays (or was it tuedays) 4*. I’m interested to know why others didn’t like it. I can understand not liking clues which don’t “work” properly but that didn’t seem to be the case here.

    1. Well I actually enjoyed some of the clues …some cracking ones to me were 10a and 20d as such I am going to up the ratings hopefully!

  17. In my opinion a ‘workmanlike’ puzzle – nothing too taxing but nothing particularly good either!
    I too fell into the Elgar trap and didn’t realize the error until the penny dropped on 10a (favourite clue) so I struggled for a bit on 4a and 13a as I was convinced Elgar was correct! Doh!!!!!.
    Anyway, I quite enjoyed it so thanks to the setter and to BD as always for the blog.

  18. If I can run this up the flagpole and see if anyone salutes it.
    The longer that I do crosswords on a regular basis, it is possible that I become more contemptuos of the damn things. I recognize clues, hints and hidden meanings and so it becomes blaze’. By the same token, the Setter I assume is also looking for clues that will test his readers more and so the journey continues. Occassionally, his train of thought stops at a metaphorical ‘station’ to take on new ideas and deciphering tasks and it is at this point that the Setter may have a rest. Then we get a crossword which is pretty run of the mill fare, nothing taxing and nothing special.
    Today’s was such a stop so the only thing to do is show your ticket, sit back and wait for the journet to continue.
    Am I being to philosophical ?

        1. Bien sure. Thanks Dave, I have been out of the country too long, time to come home.

      1. Thanks Pommers. I had a mate in thr RN called Father Pom, It’s not you is it ?

        1. Sorry, wasn’t in the Navy and not a father!
          Pommers is name coined by a mate when Brian Johnston (Johnners) started TMS commentary on radio 4 – Aggers, Blowers etc so now Pommers! It seems to have stuck!

  19. This HAS been unpopular!! Personally found it easy compared to some but nevertheless enjoyed it. Thanks to the setter and for the blog. I did like 10a and 23a, hadn’t realised it was reversible before. I’m always so grateful to the setters of these puzzles and think they are so clever I don’t like to criticise them — where would we all be without them?

    1. I agree Brendam, they are all geniuses, I find it hard enough to come up with a couple of clues on COW each week, let alone a whole puzzle! Personally in saying, that I don’t like it, it isn’t a criticism of the setter at all, it is just that for some reason I am not on the same wavelength, todays crossword I found difficult although most people didn’t, because I could not, in a lot of the clues see what the setter was looking for and in the clues that I could I didn’t know the word needed, so having done about a dozen I decided that it was better to finish it with the blog and try and understand it

  20. Well I just can’t get going on this. Reading the comments i’ve gleaned 3 answers so when I get home I’ll put them in and try again.

  21. Was our mystery setting responsible for the Quick Crossword too? The solution to 14a is in both puzzles.

  22. What is cryptic about 18d? It’s just a general knowledge question. I found this the most difficult of the week.

    1. I agree Patsyann, they do slip through the net occasionally. No way to work out the answer, you know it or you don’t. Very annoying

        1. Patrick Allen certainly had a long and varied career, I always thought he was an Aussie till I followed your link Dave.

    2. I didn’t know either character but could work out the answer very easily from checking letters. Does anyone know of any other 7 letter names beginning and ending with O?

    1. Me neither. Having a quick look at the toughie but might just abandon today and wait for Giovanni tomorrow.

  23. Just solved in a batch with other puzzles Tues-Fri – this was the slowest of the four cryptics but only by a whisker and I’d rate all four as no more than two-star difficulty. At 15D I had to talk myself out of EASY CHAIR, thinking of Grand National jockeys.

  24. I didn’t think it that bad – finished late as guessed the answers to 6d and 22d from the letters without working out the mechanics. Thanks for the explanations, BD. Everything else fell in to place apart from ORLANDO – not being familiar with Woolf novels had to look them up.

    Like 28 a very much, but assumed that somebody somewhere would have spotted the possibilities before, as BD confirms. And that clue was somewhat better.

  25. Sorry, that was 23 a, there isn’t a 28! You always spot typos just after pressing the ‘post’ button, and there isn’t a ‘recall’!

    Can you add a facility to allow a poster to modify his own comments, Dave? I’m sure others would find it handy, too.

    1. Andy

      While an edit facility would be useful, it’s not provided by WordPress.

      If you leave a comment requesting the change I can change it for you then delete the second comment.

  26. Thanks Dave. We are DT crossword newbies, and we posted this crossword up on the wall of our office kitchen. We were rather stuck until we found your crossword blog. Now we have most of the answers.

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