DT 26298 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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DT 26298

Daily Telegraph Cryptic No 26298

Hints and tips by Crypticsue

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BD Rating – Difficulty **Enjoyment ***

I thoroughly enjoyed this Wednesday’s offering from Jay. A lovely mix of clues, anagrams, hidden words, all-in-ones and even one of those pesky every other letter ones which I am only just (even after all these years) managing to recognise. Thank you Jay for giving me such a nice puzzle to review. I hope you all agree with my opinion and don’t all rush for the 5d! Hard to pick favourite clues today but I will plump for 1d, 17d and 21d.

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    Work out message in Christmas-time poem (6)
{DECODE} – Put the abbreviation of the month in which Christmas falls in front of the usual three letter crossword compiler’s favourite alternative to poem, giving you a word which means to work out a message (or even a crossword clue!)

4a    Ultimately useless dairy product — that’s a laugh! (6)
{SCREAM} – A synonym for laugh can be found by taking the last letter of useless (ultimately) and adding one of the richer dairy products.

8a    Sat artistically by drink and thought (8)
{SUPPOSED} – A three letter synonym for drink put in front of what an artist’s model did, gives you a synonym for thought.

10a    Pressed on in dire trouble (6)
{IRONED} – ON inside an anagram (trouble) of DIRE gives you a synonym for pressed.

11a    Cheerful announcement by disheartened girl (4)
{GLAD} – took me a while to work out why the solution is a synonym for cheerful, but of course it’s the first and last letters of GIRL (disheartened) and a two letter abbreviation for an advertisement.

12a    Not feeling level-headed after endless gins (10)
{INSENSIBLE} – “endless” indicates that you should take the first and last letters away from GINS and then find a synonym for level-headed, the whole being a synonym for lacking sensation or being indifferent.

13a    Talk for a time, absorbed by spiritual enlightenment (12)
{CONVERSATION} – Put A and T (for time) inside a noun meaning a change to another belief or religion and you get a synonym for a form of spoken communication.

16a    Undertook to touch down in paradise (8,4)
{PROMISED LAND} – a nice straightforward clue – the past participle of a verb meaning to undertake or give an assurance and another word for ‘touch down’ gives you a term for paradise, whatever your religious beliefs.

20a    Trip with graduate to Nile failing to get mineral (10)
{TOURMALINE} – This mineral is apparently a group of hard glossy minerals of variable colour and is easily obtained by a synonym for trip added to the abbreviation for a degree obtained by a postgraduate and an anagram (failing)of NILE.

21a    Almost explode, seeing blunder (4)
{GOOF} – When something explodes it can be said to G* O**. We need ‘almost explode’ here, which tells you to take the last letter away, join the two words together to get another word for blunder.

22a    Young girl in sales made returns (6)
{DAMSEL} – A nice reversal here (returns). A fairly old-fashioned word for a young girl can be discovered in SALES MADE.

23a    Bear — one seen by side of road (8)
{SHOULDER} – I spent a short time here working my way through polar, grizzly etc but of course it’s not that sort of bear, it’s bear as in carry a burden or responsibility, the hard version of which can be found at the side of the road.

24a    Remain to cover one’s dissent (6)
{RESIST} – Another word for remain with IS (cover 1’s) gives you a synonym for dissent.

25a    Importance given to women rowing crew (6)
{WEIGHT} – W for women and the number of people in a rowing crew gives you another word meaning importance.


1d    Nearly twice as many love working for a bit of gold (8)
{DOUBLOON} – Take a word for twice as many, take off the last letter (nearly) add O (love) and ON (working) gives you the pirate’s favourite gold coin.

2d    Investigating police take in leading matchmaker (5)
{CUPID} – Put a two letter word for leading or ahead inside (takes in) the three letter abbreviation for the department where detectives work (investigation), giving you one of the names for the Roman God of Love.

3d    File for individual held by person sleeping rough (7)
{DOSSIER} – A rough sleeper (apparently from the days when they slept in dosshouses) with I (individual) gives you a collection of papers (or file).

5d    Song about one single wine from Italy (7)
{CHIANTI} – another nice clue – You are looking for a wine from Italy created by a synonym for song (monks do this) around I (for one) with another I (single) at the end. Cue comments about yardarms from some of our friends!

6d    Showing feelings, a student supports key movement (9)
{EMOTIONAL} – A single letter for a musical key – E – a synonym for movement and A and L (for learner) gives you an adjective meaning showing feelings.

7d    Think aloud and slip inside for a healthy breakfast (6)
{MUESLI} – The breakfast some refer to as rabbit food can be achieved by a homophone for a word meaning think and the middle letters (inside) of slip.

9d    The differences for a side struggling with spirit (11)
{DISPARITIES} – It took me a while to spot the anagram here – struggling should have given this away – A SIDE and SPIRIT give you a synonym for differences.

14d    Passive or active sprays (9)
{VAPORISES} – Another anagram (active) of PASSIVE OR gives you a word meaning to change into particles of moisture.

15d    At home act fast, being lazy! (8)
{INDOLENT} – A nice charade here – a two letter term for being ‘at home’, two letter alternative to ‘act’ put with the period before Easter when you are supposed to fast.

17d    People who see vehicle brought back amidst Spanish cheers (7)
{ORACLES} – Ancient Greek and Roman temples often had these seers – reverse a common vehicle (brought back) inside the plural of a Spanish cheer.

18d    Looks with love – soldier’s a terrible sight (7)
{EYESORE} – Another nice charade here – a synonym for looks, with O (love) and the two letter abbreviation for a particular soldier – gives you something very ugly.

19d    Meaningless words from popular song (3,3)
{HOT AIR} – If something is popular it can be said to be this and another word for song (a simple tune) gives you something quite often spouted by politicians and the like.

21d    Joke about regularly full Russian prison camp (5)
{GULAG} – A three letter term for a joke or humorous story is placed round (about) the even (regularly) letters of full to give you the name of a Russian prison camp.

It’s exactly two months today since BD and I had our email exchange about how I would be too busy to review (reverse psychology works every time). I hope the next few Wednesday puzzles are going to be as nice as this one (Jay please note) as I am going to be helping BD out with reviews while my boss is on holiday (sshh!!)

54 comments on “DT 26298

  1. A great puzzle from Jay which I struggled with for no good reason since everything was quite clearly signposted. Favourites were 2d and 7d. It looks like you had the same problems as me on 9d and 23a – they were my last two in.
    Thanks for the review, crypticsue, and thanks to Jay for the puzzle

  2. I loved this puzzle – it’s the first one I’ve been able to solve without help for a long time! 15d was a new word for me, and I think 2d and 6d were my favourites.

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

  3. Thats the right hand side finished now only all the left side i already think it is a 3* :) not reading your review yet sue

    1. I gave it a 2* based on the time it took me to solve it, even allowing for the slight mind block I get when doing a review that has to be ready by 11 am (as opposed to the extra time you get to review a Saturday puzzle). It’s doable in a reasonable time which is more than I can say about today’s Toughie – if I had been down to review that you’d have been waiting a very long time!

      1. Interesting that I noticed clued up rated it 5 star for difficulty – not sure why.

        1. I’d only give it a 2 star for difficulty. I really enjoyed this crossword – so many lovely clues, I couldn’t pick a favourite.

  4. An enjoyable puzzle. Bottom left corner was last to complete i.e. 14d and 19d. Favourites were 20a and 1d. Thanks to Crypticsue for the review.

  5. Took a bit of starting but overall an enjoyable puzzle. Last to go was 3d, couldn’t get COP out of my mind!! Best clues for me 4a and 20a (nice to see a non-religious, non-literature clue). Thought it was more 3* than 2*.

  6. Well done Barrie. I don’t recommend the Toughie today – it may be the mugginess (27 deg in office with fan on and window open) – but I still have most of the right hand side to go.

  7. One for the all-rounder. Nice mixture of clue categories and degrees of difficulty. I’m unclear when hitting the assessment stars what we’re voting for – Difficulty or Enjoyment? As this was 2* and 4* respectively, I went for the true British compromise. Thanks for the review, Sue. I won’t tell your boss, so long as you make your deadlines!

  8. I think it’s more like a 3* – finished reasonably quickly apart from 9d (absolutely couldn’t decide what the anagram was made up from or what the definition was – at one stage I thought that “differences” was the anagram indicator so started to try to think of a musical term for “with spirit” etc etc) and 2d. Neither could I understand why 11a was what it plainly was – had to read the hint to understand that. Very nice puzzle – thank you Jay – also thanks to Sue.

    1. I agree Kath: struggled with 11a. 21a and 15d were my final answers – with help! Managed to get a friend to chip in, and that’s worth 4* enjoyment in itself!

  9. Finished at last, several interruptions today, in the end i had to resort to blog also to understand why some of the answers were what they were, not my favourite crossword but liked a lot of the clues, fav were 23a, 17d, 16a, I’m with Barrie on 2d couldn’t get cop out of my mind, well done on a great review/blog crypticsue, think i’ll take your advice to Barrie on the toughie too, deadheading petunias in between showers is the order of the day, they really do not like the rain! think i’ll give them a miss next year :) Oh also liked 19d :)

    1. Good move Mary! I’ve managed 4 Toughie clues during my lunch-hour, and will need the blog to go any further. Pleeeeeeeeeeeeese send some of your rain to West Sussex – and to East Kent for Sue!!?? Do I hear hose-pipe bans in the hot air?

      1. Its here. Well a small shower anyway. Not enough for the gardens but its a start and it may make it cooler.

      2. We never have hosepipe bans here in Valencia, despite having had no rain for weeks, and the best we can hope for between now and September is the odd shower if we’re very lucky!

      3. We’ve had nothing but rain for about 10 days with 1 nice day last sat, the petunias realy hate it! me too, the sun is out now however so out to the garden hopefully for an hour or two :)

        1. Please can Mary have her rain back – I just got soaked to the skin in the three minutes twixt office and car.

  10. Lovely puzzle today – enjoyed it very much. Thank you Jay and thank you Sue for an excellent review. I’m with Kath on the fact that 9d was the last to go in and kicked myself soundly when I finally got it.

    My favourites were 15d and 20a.

  11. A lovely crossword with finely-crafted clues, but… a minor quibble over 20a – it could have been ‘TOURBALINE’ or ‘TOURMALINE’. I always feel that for an unusual word (well I’ve never heard of it!) the wordplay should be unambiguous.

    1. Following your comment, I have had a search online and had real trouble finding any reference at all anywhere to the BA version whereas I had heard of the MA one. Presumably that’s the only one Jay knew too.

      1. Sorry, I don’t think I made myself clear. I haven’t heard of TOURMALINE. From the wordplay, it could have been TOURBALINE or TOURMALINE. I like it when the wordplay is ambiguous for unusual words, so i don’t have to resort to checking. It IS an unusual word, isn’t it? Thank you for your review, by the way.

        1. Some foreign jewellery websites have the BA version. Presumably they can’t spell (or type??)!

    1. Nor me – suspect that there are at least two ways to spell it – in fact will go and look it up now! Am back – this is the only spelling in Chambers although in my other dictionary it says “mussli” as well but that is the German spelling. I thought that I might have seen it spelt “museli” but maybe not ….

      1. Kath: lets me, you and Geoff write our own dictionary! It’ll make these things a lot easier…

          1. Would you believe I realised it was spelled wrong after a while, changed it and it was STILL wrong ??

      2. Have now remembered where I have seen it spelt as “museli”! It’s on our shopping list white board in the kitchen – written by my husband!!

  12. Nor can I, Mr Tubb!! What a delightful puzzle! Definitely a 3* for me. So many good clues, it would be a long list indeed.

    Thanks to Jay and Sue for the great review.

    ‘Endless’ means remove first and last: first as well; always, every time? New to me.

    1. me too Geoff I always thought endless was just the last letter, well done again today :)

      1. Have been thinking about this overnight. I think its not necessarily every time but you need to see what makes sense for the particular clue and remove the appropriate ‘end’ letter(s).

    1. BD’s crossword guide (see side bar above Pages then Crossword Guide explains even and odd letter clues far better than I could ever hope to, as well as useful info on all the other types of clues (I’ve been doing a lot of homework in the last two months!)

  13. Very enjoyable puzzle. I’d say 2* for difficulty though I didn’t understand the word play for 21a until I read the blog. (my favourite clue) I also came up with an alternative wordplay for 11a: the answer plus “dys” is a girls name and if you take away “dis”/ “dys”(indicated by the words disheartened and announcement in the clue) you get the answer!

  14. Lovely puzzle today it may not have been the most difficult, but crafted well.Thank you Jay favourites 20a 21d 15d

  15. Finished with no help with 23a being the last to go. It really annoys me when my wife looks at the crossing letters and announces that she knows what it is. Took me another 3 minutes after that. Good all rounder. Wish it was a 3*.

  16. Hello Crypticsue.Now this is the kind of xword I enjoy .In fact it is so un-Jay,more of a Ray T .I kicked myself when I got muesli as i had insentient instead of insensible My tyro pal who fills 4 or 5 daily drew a blank.

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