DT 26346 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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DT 26346

Daily Telegraph Cryptic No 26346

Hints and tips by Falcon

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

BD Rating – Difficulty **Enjoyment ***

Welcome to the Wednesday blog. Before getting down to business, let me give you a brief background about myself.  I am a retired engineer living in Ottawa, Canada as well as a relative newcomer to cryptic crosswords, having taken up the pastime (to which I quickly became addicted) only a couple of years ago, following my retirement.  However, I do have a fairly solid foundation, having been a longtime solver of regular crossword puzzles.  Furthermore, my training has been greatly accelerated by closely following a number of British cryptic crossword sites, in particular, this one.

I produce a couple of blogs myself here in Canada, covering syndicated British cryptic crosswords carried by newspapers in Canada – the DT Cryptic (featured in the National Post) and the Sunday London Times Crossword (which appears in the Ottawa Citizen and other papers).  These puzzles are published in Canada a few weeks or months after they appear in the U.K.  For example, yesterday the National Post published DT 26266 which those of you in Britain saw on June 14 of this year.  My aim in my blogs is to complement the material already available on the British sites and not to duplicate it.  I have discovered that there are often differences (sometimes blatant and sometimes quite subtle) between British and North American English which add a whole extra level of complexity to these puzzles for those of us on this side of the pond (and which also gives me something to write about).  If you are curious you might care to check out the National Post Cryptic Crossword Forum and the Ottawa Citizen Cryptic Crossword Forum.

When Big Dave asked me to consider acting as a guest reviewer, I felt both highly honoured and more than a bit apprehensive. I was really not sure that I was qualified to write for such a knowledgeable readership.  However, I recalled recently hearing a remark on the radio along the lines of “one’s life is defined by the challenges that one accepts and not by the opportunities that one passes by” and decided to pick up the gauntlet.  Of course, Alexander Pope also said “fools rush in where angels fear to tread”.  So, shall we rush into today’s puzzle.

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 Secure cover protecting copy writer (6)
{SCRIBE} We start with an interesting container type clue where the outer letters (cover) of “secure” are placed around (protecting) a word meaning copy (as a pupil might do on a school assignment) to get a person employed to make handwritten copies of documents before printing was invented.

4a Act as inspiration for puzzle (6)
{BEMUSE} A verb meaning perplex when split (2,4) becomes a phrase meaning “act as an inspiration” (perhaps it is Terpsichore, as setters are known to dance around words).

8a A cricket ground reportedly welcoming very quiet cheers (8)
{APPLAUDS} A word meaning show approval is constructed from A + a homophone of “the home of cricket” around (welcoming) the musical notation for very soft or quiet. I’m afraid that this homophone would fail miserably on this side of the Atlantic.

10a Broken husks in front of church office (6)
{BRANCH} These broken husks that one might find in one’s cereal bowl precede one of the standard abbreviations for church to give us a regional office, perhaps.

11a Tired, lacking energy and showing caution (4)
{WARY} A word meaning tired is transformed into one meaning vigilant by removing E[nergy].

12a Serial criminal on protest to cause depression (10)
{DEMORALISE} In a charade that follows Anax’s convention for across clues, we have an anagram (criminal) of SERIAL following a word that might also be a protest or a sales pitch to yield a word meaning to dishearten.

13a Almost save a politician from the hothouse (12)
{CONSERVATORY} This hothouse is not the House of Commons but a place where plants may be grown. Most of (almost) a word meaning to save is followed by A + a right wing politician.

16a To go to sleep mid-flight could cause an emergency (5-7)
(CRASH-LANDING} This flight emergency is the sum of a word meaning to go to sleep (especially following an unusually prolonged period of wakefulness) and a level area that may be found part way up a staircase.

20a Trials worth investigating? (5,5)
{MEANS TESTS} A cryptic definition of examinations of the state of one’s financial circumstances.

21a Kid chasing black crow (4)
{BRAG} This crow, not a bird, but a boast is formed from B[lack] plus a synonym for to kid or tease.

22a Dishes a la Milanese contain meat (6)
{SALAMI} Hidden in the “Dishes a la Milanese” served up at this Italian eatery, one can find a spicy sausage.

23a Joy following the end of Winter’s Tale (8)
{RELATION} This story or narrative is formed from the last letter (end) of Winter followed by a word meaning euphoria. However, I would think that the solution usually refers to the telling of the tale rather than to the tale itself.

24a Poet wanting a drink before study (6)
{DRYDEN} The name of this 17th century English poet is a charade of a word meaning thirsty and the room where he might do his writing (or relax with a drink).

25a Pair of fives — wrong flipping game! (6)
{TENNIS} A game traditionally played on grass or clay is a charade where the first part is the sum of a pair of fives and the second part a reversal (flipping) of a moral wrong.


1d Parsons dancing around old singers (8)
{SOPRANOS} These singers are an anagram (dancing) of PARSONS around O[ld]. They might also be American mobsters on the telly!

2d Recover from a bout of 25 (5)
{RALLY} It seems that our setter may consider tennis (the solution to clue 25a) to be a disease. He playfully suggests that one may recover from a bout of tennis just as one may from a bout of influenza.  The “bout of 25” does, of course, refer to a phase of play for during the game.

3d Brazil’s wingers subject to error (7)
{BLUNDER} Here, “Brazil’s wingers” indicates the outer letters (wings) of the word “Brazil” (similar to “secure cover” in 1a). Thus we have BL + a word that could mean either “lower in rank than” or “subject to” to produce a foolish or thoughtless, and usually serious, mistake.

5d English doctor on old Greek ship gets ban (7)
{EMBARGO} E[nglish] + a British medical degree + Jason’s ship produces a restriction on trade.

6d You end in trouble, accepting everybody’s pure (9)
{UNALLOYED} An anagram (in trouble) of YOU END with a word meaning “everybody” inserted to give a word meaning unadulterated that can be applied to either metals or emotions.

7d Tax cut (6)
{EXCISE} A double definition, a domestic tax or the type of cut an editor or a surgeon might make.

9d One shows understanding of poor shipmaster taking last of company aboard (11)
{SYMPATHISER} Someone who shows compassion is an anagram (poor) of SHIPMASTER containing (taking … aboard) Y (last of company).

14d Little time on a risky case of minor importance (9)
{SECONDARY} For a change, little time is not T but rather the unit of time marked by the fastest moving hand on the clock. Add to this, A + the outer letters (case) of R[isk]Y to produce a word describing an issue of subordinate interest. This is the third variation we have seen today on the theme of “take the outer letters of a word”.

15d Popular footballers must mainly accept nothing disreputable (8)
{INFAMOUS} We start with a charade of IN (popular) + the governing body of English football + most of (mainly) MUS[t], which has within it (accept) O (nothing). The result of all these machinations is a term meaning disreputable or notoriously bad.

17d A way to travel on horseback? (7)
{ASTRIDE} A fine &lit. (or all-in-one, should you prefer). One reading of the clue describes how one may sit on a horse, while a second reading reveals the wordplay A + an abbreviation for a thoroughfare (way) + a word meaning to travel on horseback.

18d A bad start and answer is clear (7)
{ABSOLVE} To clear or pronounce free from blame is a charade of A + B[ad] (bad start) + what you are attempting to do at this very moment.

19d First two to react turn up raffle prize (6)
{REWARD} A prize, given not on the basis of luck, but for a service rendered is formed from the first two [letters] of RE[act] + a reversal (turn up) of DRAW (raffle).

21d One directing players not to declare? (5)
{BATON} A thin stick providing direction to members of an orchestra if split (3,2) would describe what cricket teams do when their captains decline to declare.

Writing this blog has been a bit of a revelation for me. Even though I have my own blogs, the style is quite different from this one. I pick a few clues and discuss an aspect of them in some depth. Here a hint has to be crafted for every clue. It quickly becomes apparent that it is not easy to create hints which provide sufficient information without completely giving away the solution, which don’t merely mimic the clue, and which are concise. I am sure I have committed sins in all of those areas for which I should perhaps seek absolution from Big Dave. However, I award myself bonus points for solving the cricket related clue.

58 comments on “DT 26346

  1. I warmly welcome Falcon to the blog. I had intended to write a few words of introduction, but Falcon has done that far better than I could have done.

  2. Welcome Falcon. As I know well, it’s not easy moving from being a mere solver to a reviewer and hint giver. A typical Jay puzzle, I thought but with a couple of tricky clues that made me glad I didn’t have to review it! 13a, 15d and 21d stand out as favourites for me. Thanks Jay and Falcon too.

  3. Welcome to the “family” Falcon. I have lots of Colonial Cousins in Canada, so know only too well about “Two Nations united by an uncommon language” (or something like that). I haven’t attempted today’s challenges yet, but would just like to point out the sad story on page 3 of today’s paper. Yesterday’s Toughie included Nobby Stiles (17d) who was a sporting hero in 1966. Today he has sell his World Cup medals, cap and shirt to raise money for his family. Something feels very wrong about that!

    1. I couldn’t agree more. The idea that has been proposed that Man U should buy the medals & give them back to Mr Stiles is worthy of the club’s consideration. After all it would cost only as much as certain payers expenses for tanning salons & hair gel!

  4. Welcome Falcon!!

    When I saw that today’s review had been posted much earlier than normal, my first thoughts were that the reviewer must have got up very early!. However, having read your introduction, I now realise that you must have stayed up very late.

    Looking forward to reading the review after tackling today’s offering.

  5. Welcome to the club, Falcon, and congratulations on an accomplished and amusing review (particularly on the cricket reference!!).
    17d stood out as a favourite and I also enjoyed 1d and 3d.
    Many thanks to you and to Jay for the puzzle.

  6. Thanks to Jay, who can always be relied upon to produce an enjoyable puzzle, and to Falcon, for his splendid first review.

  7. Welcome Falcon and thanks for the blog. A good one today, but needed to hint for 20a. I liked 25a, and 21d particularly, but I am a cricket nut!

  8. A big welcome to Falcon. I do read his National Post blog most days as it’s very instructive to read his take on the puzzles that we did about three months before. Not only does he give a different perspective to the puzzles, but he very often picks up on things that the reviewer (me, mostly!) and the commenters have failed to spot.
    I now have to hope that his excellent review doesn’t totally eclipse my efforts on today’s Toughie.

  9. Thanks for the review Falcon and welcome to this happy breed. I good puzzle from Jay and lots of workable clues with good surface reading.
    Favs were 15d and 6d in that order.
    I wonder if Mary is having withdrawal symptoms ?

    1. I seem to recall that she’s on holiday – Torquay, Taunton Tintagel or somewhere in that neck of the woods. I wonder who is running the CC in her absence?

  10. Really enjoyed this, with references to my 2 favourite sports (and I don’t mean soccer!). 16 & 23a stood out, but lots of well-constructed clues.

  11. Welcome to our excellent panel of blog-writers, Falcon! I had got a few answers but wasn’t sure how I got there till I read your clues. Many thanks! As always happens, just as I was setting about the one or two blanks I suddenly saw the anwers to two or three without consulting the tips! Loved the cricketing 21d.

  12. Thanks Jay for your usual thoroughly enjoyable if not too taxing puzzle and thanks and welcome to Falcon for an excellent first review.

  13. Thought that the cricketing references in 8a and 21d might have caught out our debutant reviewer from across the pond. Not a bit of it – very nicely off the mark!!

  14. Thank you Falcon

    We finished over lunch at the Groes Inn

    ?too many charades and 15d was annoying

    But 4 star overall

  15. Welcome Falcon and many thanks for your first review.
    Enjoyed this puzzle which was completed during this mornings showers. Liked 20a, 5d and 15d.
    Thanks to Jay also.

    1. Just read your comment and wondered about two things. Firstly, how many showers does one need in the morning, and secondly how do you do the crossword while having one!

    1. Welcome to the blog Allan

      Falcon has been posting under that name in Canada for some time, but I am happy to clarify that you and he are not the same person.

      Perhaps we might see you again when one of your Telegraph puzzles are published!

      1. Re the Crossword Who’s Who, is it possible to have a link somewhere on the home page, or would I be in the minority of those who would find it quite interesting?

  16. I add my warm welcome to this blog, Falcon, and thanks for your hints. Creating them must have been almost like solving the puzzle twice! I have fond memories of Canada, having graduated from Queen’s University and spent a season with the company at Stratford Ont.

    This puzzle contained a number of clues that gave me trouble, mainly the ones where you had to take first and last letters, but I find charades difficult too. Still learning. I managed to finish it without always understanding why, mainly at 12 and 16a and 15 and 21d. My favourites were 4 and 21a — I must be feeling poetical today! :-)

    1. Franny, I also attended Queen’s University – as a postgrad student. You are right that creating the hints requires a good deal of thought. I think the process is sort of a cross between setting a puzzle and solving it. Whereas the setter is aiming to obscure the true meaning by deliberately introducing misdirection, the hint writer is attempting to lift the veil just enough to put the solver on the right track without revealing all.

  17. Hi Falcon

    Thank you and congratulations for a comprehensive first review. Hope it will be the first of many reviews on this blog.

    Thanks also to Jay for an enjoyable Wednesday solve.

  18. Thank you Jay, and welcome and thank you, Falcon. I really enjoyed this puzzle and even managed (not to mention understood) the football and cricket related clues – very unusual for me! My favourites today include 4, 13 and 16a and 6d. The one that took me the longest was 20a – couldn’t see, for ages, the first word. Do hope that Mary is having a good time in Torquay and not suffering from either bad weather or withdrawal symptoms!

  19. An excellent review Falcon. Particularly well done on the cricket reference in 21d. I didn’t pick that up and I’m going to the Oval on Friday!

  20. Bienvenue Falcon! Welcome to our happy band of cruciverbalists, I look forward to more of your reviews in the coming months.
    Just taking a swift look at the blog to see how difficult it is going to be later on when I’ve got more time to sit & relax with a cold beer. Unfortunately that pesky thing called work is beckoning & won’t be ignored. Being a one man band means I can’t get somebody else to do it!

  21. May I add my thanks and salutations to Falcon. 1d Toughie!

    My favo(u)rite clue today was 20a for the simple yet clever clue. The many charades for my liking though.

    1. Bigmacsub, may I ask what is the significance of the brackets in “favo(u)rite”. Sorry, but as Mary is away someone has to ask these questions.

        1. In Canada, we see a mix of British and American spelling. I would say that we tend to favour the British “our” spelling over the American “or” spelling. On the other hand, the American “ize” spelling is probably more common than the British “ise” spelling. We do call it “zed” though rather than “zee”.

  22. Setter here
    Excellent analysis from Falcon, for which many thanks. Enjoyed all the comments and missing Mary already!

  23. Good heavens, a midweek puzzle I could actually complete! And before the blog was available, or rather before I thought it was available. Is this a first?? As usual, there were a few constructs I didn’t understand at all, 12a in particular.

    Welcome and thanks to Falcon for a fine and thorough review and to Jay for an entertaining puzzle.

  24. When this puzzle appears in the National Post in due course, will Big Dave provide Falcon’s usual commentary on the puzzle??

  25. Very enjoyable puzzle today, partly due to one of my very rare half hour completions. I liked 16a and 6d amongst others. Well done Falcon on a good review, more late nights to follow.

  26. I will add my welcome to Falcon. Have just returned from London and haven’t printed today’s puzzle but thought I would read the blog first and enjoyed all the comments.

    I must go on to your Canadian sites to see the differences. I was born and educated in Canada but have lived in London for 40 years now and did my postgrad studies here.

    Because I have been here so long I tend to forget some of the nuances of Canadian spelling – forgot about the “ize” which frustrates me no end when it is used. I am often found asking what an expression or saying is in Canadian – obviously become far too English!!!

    I will now go to the puzzle and hope it doesn’t have as many four letter words as the last two days have had.

    Well done BD for increasing our enjoyment level. Gazza I am sure your position as a reviewer is safe – yours are always excellent.

  27. Last as always a big hallo to Falcon! Brilliant blog, actually not needed today, but nonetheless appreciated. Carry on the good work.

  28. Welcome from Hertfordshire, Falcon. I enjoyed this puzzle and frankly struggled a tad until after lunch when I finished it off. And was very pleased to do so. Some nice clues. 8a and 21d both cricket themes my favourite. I would grade this as 3*.

    1. I’ve grumbled about that in the past, when I didn’t know how to do them.

      I can see BD’s point as I couldn’t help wondering how I would have phrased the hint for 19d – a synonym for raffle, reversed?

  29. Pleasant non-taxing puzzle from Jay – I got through it rather quickly back home after birthday dinner with my twin grandchildren after they came home from school at my daughter’s place.
    I liked 16a, 20a, 5d, 6d & 15d. Some nice anagrams too.
    Re 24a – Chambers Crossword Dictionary classes him as Playwright whereas Chambers Biographical Dictionary as Poet.

    Welcome to the blog Falcon.

  30. Welcome and thanks for an ecellent review Falcon and also to Jay for an excellent puzzle today.
    Finished it at work tonight in my break however got stuck on 9d for a while due to me putting the last 2 letters of 8a in wrong Doh ! :? put in se instead of the correct ones, all corrected now.

  31. I must have had a bad day. I finish the crossword 4 days out of 5, but this one had me beaten all ends up. Only managed about half of it. I think 2 star difficulty was way off the mark. More like 4.

  32. Solved this today when I noticed that Falcon had joined us – here’s another welcome – good to see another cryptic crossword blog with contributors from both sides of the Atlantic (true at both of the other ones for UK newspaper puzzles).

    I can’t fault your comments on the clues, though I was reading them after solving so couldn’t test them as hints. I think the best you can do towards getting the ideal balance between hint and explanation is just to keep the issue in mind – one person’s subtle hint will always be another’s give-away. (And there will always be a mixture of questions people have about the clue – some will just want to see why the answer is right.)

    I had only one minor problem solving this puzzle – the desire to make the “cheers” of 8 into APPROVAL, using London’s other famous cricket ground – quite tempting until you see no role for “reportedly” and no indicator for the R. So for me, 2-star difficulty seems a good assessment.

  33. As you know we get our Telegraph once a week. For some reason 25A & 6D gave the wrong clues which didn’t make any sense although the answers had to be.
    25A was,”Pair if fives squeezes new game” and not “‘….wrong flipping game” and 6D “Pure nonsense – one duty including everybody” instead of the logical “You end in trouble accepting everybody pure”.

    Completely spoilt it for me.

  34. Not a bad Jay puzzle.Welcome Falcon,a very competent analysis for a non-Brit.Do you know perculiarly British words like ‘twig’ if you twig what I mean in Canada?

    1. Hi Chadwick,

      This puzzle was published today in Canada, so in revisiting my review I noticed your comment. ‘Twig‘ in the sense you use it is shown by Collins English Dictionary as “British informal. However, the word is also commonly used in this sense in Canada and (I believe) the U.S. (as evidenced by the entry from the American Heritage Dictionary at the same site). Given that the word comes from Gaelic, and many early settlers to North America came from Ireland and Scotland, this is perhaps not surprising.


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