DT 26459 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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DT 26459

Daily Telegraph Cryptic No 26459

Hints and tips by Falcon

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BD Rating – Difficulty ***Enjoyment ***

Today we have a solid puzzle with a fairly good mix of clue types. One clue, in particular, I found especially enjoyable – that being the one dealing with the Peers of the Realm. If it is original, I am sure many others likely enjoyed it also. If not new, then it is one to be savored by those of us relatively new to this pastime.

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.


7a Extreme case of indecision under stress (7)
{INTENSE} – to obtain an adjective often used in describing deeply felt emotions, start with the outer letters (case) of indecision and add an adjective denoting the state of one exhibiting mental strain, perhaps a blogger facing a rapidly approaching deadline

8a In the main, forces welcome victory for workers (7)
{NAVVIES} – a symbol famously linked to Winston Churchill, when inserted into maritime forces, produces labourers typically employed in road-building or canal-building.

10a Well-worn bed, rather a mess! (10)
{THREADBARE} – an anagram (mess) of BED RATHER A might describe an article of clothing that has seen better days

11a Clumsy chap encountered during dinner date (4)
(NERD} – if you look carefully, you may spot this ‘foolish and annoying’ fellow hidden in the final two words of the clue

12a Assumptions that come from building (8)
{PREMISES} – a fairly straightforward double definition for a word that a logician would define as ‘either of the propositions introducing a syllogism’

14a Approach a goddess, finally changing direction (6)
{AVENUE} – start with a charade of A plus the Roman goddess of love and beauty, then replace the final letter by another cardinal point of the compass to arrive at a tree-lined approach to a house

15a Song of genie hoarding two antiques (6,5)
{GOLDEN OLDIE} – this type of song that you’ve no doubt heard many, many times is formed by inserting a synonym for antique into ‘genie’ – not once but twice

19a Dresses for work duties (6)
{SHIFTS} – loose fitting dresses are also the sets of consecutive periods into which a 24-hour working day is divided

20a He, for example, is the talk of the House of Lords! (5,3)
{NOBLE GAS} – This is a name commonly given to the constituents of the column of the periodic table in which one finds the element having the symbol He. Our setter thinks it is also an apt description of debate in the Upper Chamber.

22a Check out oxygen bar (4)
{VETO} – … continuing with our exploration of the periodic table, we begin with a word meaning to investigate someone for suitability for a particular activity and add to it the chemical symbol for oxygen to get the right to formally reject a proposal or forbid an action

23a Fruitless campaigns, having mislaid bags outside university (4,6)
{LOST CAUSES} – what the airline did on your last trip, wrapped around the standard abbreviation for university, results in futile efforts, perhaps attempts to recover your luggage

25a To empower student, one needs logic, say (7)
{LICENSE} – a verb indicating to give official permission is a word sum of the symbol designating a student driver, the Roman numeral for one and a word scrap that sounds like (say) a common word for logic

26a Ruins Blackpool’s first illuminations (7)
{BLIGHTS} – the first letter of B(lackpool) together with these festive decorations forms a word meaning harms or destroys


1d Roots and branch — or some part of it (7)
{ANCHORS} – hidden (part of it) in ‘branch or some’ is a word that describes how a root attaches a tree to the earth

2d Nothing more than water (4)
{MERE} – double definition, only a lake or pool

3d Comments from assistants welcoming head of security (6)
{ASIDES} – put the first letter (head) of S(ecurity) inside assistants who are often confidential advisers to the head of a government and you get comments also known as stage whispers

4d Game for foundation degree students (8)
{BASEBALL} – So the ladies don’t like cricket! How about this American descendant of the game. Here the word meaning ‘foundation’ actually sits atop a graduate in arts and humanities and a pair of student drivers

5d Leaving see, prepared to spread the word (10)
{EVANGELISE} – to preach the Holy Scripture is an anagram (prepared) of LEAVING SEE

6d Confirm half of bets on a heavy defeat (4,3)
{BEAR OUT} – a phrase meaning to prove to be true, such as in the case of an assumption, is a word sum of the first two letters (half) of BE(ts) plus A plus a word denoting a complete and overwhelming defeat or a confused and disorderly retreat

9d A bit of chicken for the minister? (7,4)
{PARSON’S NOSE} – this fowl piece (or piece of fowl) seemingly resembles a facial feature of a man of the cloth. Having been raised in a protestant family, it was a different holy man – the Bishop of Rome – whose likeness was recognised in our house.

13d Nocturnal climber scrambling from new loo (10)
{MOONFLOWER} – this vine, which flowers at night, is closely related to the morning glory and is an anagram (scrambling) of FROM NEW LOO

16d Reveal that day is nigh (8)
{DISCLOSE} – a word meaning to make something visible is a word sum of D(ay) plus IS plus a synonym for near

17d Encourage one love for so long (7)
{CHEERIO} – a stereotypical British term of farewell is formed from a yell of support followed by the Roman numeral for one and a tennis score of naught

18d Warnings from speleologists having a time for reflection, initially (7)
{CAVEATS} – It took much cogitation before the wordplay in this clue struck me. Speleologists are explorers of caves, or cavers. Replace R (reflection initially; i.e., the first letter of the word) by A T(ime) to get warnings or provisos of specific stipulations, conditions, or limitations

21d Legislature loses heart following dollar’s collapse (6)
{BUCKLE} – a verb meaning to bend or become bent out of shape, especially as a result of great heat or force, is formed from a North American slang term for the dollar followed by the outer letters of L(egislatur)E (loses heart, but retains its outer edges).

24d Desire that Labour generally suppresses (4)
{URGE} – hidden in (indicated by ‘suppresses’) ‘Labour generally’ is a word meaning a strong impulse

My favourite clue today, without doubt, is 20a. It was the last one to be solved and it was a most satisfying way to finish – causing me to chuckle out loud.

52 comments on “DT 26459

  1. Didn’t enjoy this one very much, found it very obscure in parts. Only enjoyable clue for me was 20a, nice to see a bit of science in amongst the arts and crafts that usually dominate the DT crosswords. Probably not one for the CC today.

  2. A very nice Wednesday offering from Jay today. Lots of good clues – I agree about 20a but I also liked 15a 13d and 18d. Thanks to Jay and to Falcon for the great review.

    The Toughie today is not for the faint hearted – it helps if you spot the theme early on – but is worth a bit of perservation as its got some great clues.

    1. Ditto that ditto! Two or three clues needed a bit of cogitation after arriving at the office but well worth the effort.

  3. I found this one quite tricky in places and loved the ‘hidden in plain view’ definition at 20a.
    Thanks to Falcon and (I presume) Jay for the puzzle

  4. Certainly more of a challenge from Jay today. Last one in was 13d.
    Thanks to Jay for the entertainment, and to Falcon for the notes.
    Now onto today’s Toughie – I wonder who is behind number 500.

    1. It is explained in the paper (and a message from Phil McNeill on Telegraph Puzzles) as a collaborative crossword with Elgar, Firefly, Giovanni, Jed, Kcit, Myops, Notabalis and Warbler all having as hand in the cookie jar!

  5. Many thanks to Jay for a superb crossword (consistency is his watchword). Agree with 20a as a fine clue. Lots of other goodies in there too. Thanks also to Falcon for the review.

  6. Oh yes, one of those “I’ll never be able to do this” puzzles which get more and more enjoyable as you proceed. Great clues like 20a come very rarely and must be savoured and committed to memory, same with 1d and 23a.
    A thouroughly enjoyable crossword.
    Thanks to Jay and to Falcon

  7. Today’s favourite clue 16a for its fine surface reading. Thanks J & Falcon!

    Now off to the Toughie…

  8. I found this much harder than of late (or probably just me). Guessed 18d but still find the clue difficult to understand despite the hint from Falcon. Favourite clue was 15a closely followed by 8a, 23a and 17d.
    Thanx to Compiler and Falcon.

    1. 18d Start with CAVERS (speleologists) and then put A T (a time) instead of the R (Reflection, initially) and you get CAVEATS (warnings)

        1. In my case, I’m still learning, and occasionally I get some cases like this where even when I see the answer I still don’t quite understand it. In this crossword, I got 10 clues right unaided (thought it was 11, but one was wrong), Then the rest I got through either reading the aids or just because I now had more letters filled in. There were two that I had to just highlight the answer to get – 20a and 2d. I did enjoy 20a, but not as much as I would have if I’d worked it out for myself!

  9. Didn’t get far with this one, NW corner and a few more. Not a difficult one, just can’t see some of the constructs. Sorry to say that 20a is completely lost on me, as my knowledge of the Periodic Table is that I’ve heard of it …

    Thanks for the review.

    1. Helium (whose chemical symbol is He) is part of a family of gaseous elements that also includes neon, argon, krypton, xenon, and radon, occupying Group 0 (18) of the periodic table. In addition to the name used by the setter, they are also known as the inert gases. They were long believed to be totally unreactive but compounds of xenon, krypton, and radon are now known. [Ref. Oxford Dictionaries Online].

        1. Mary,
          The House of Lords contains – nobles, and a synonym for talk is gas…. there is a ? mark at the end of the clue to suggest that you might have to think more laterally than normal to tie the two together.

  10. I enjoyed this puzzle, which needed quite a bit of thought to solve. I liked 20a and 23a and 18d. I had to look up what a speleologist was though! Thanks to setter and Falcon for the review. I shall look at the Toughie now – and that is probably as far as I will get!!

  11. A good one today, most clues are easily worked out, was getting along nicely but have had several interruptions! Have finished it at last, but am with Geoff on 20a, this is completely beyond me, what has helium got to do witha noble man which I thought was spelt nobleman anyway! fav clues 8a, 23a, 26a

      1. The first word of the answer is an adjective relating to those eligible to sit in the upper house, the second word is an informal term for chat (think “hot air”).

        1. Thanks you all, I now see the error of my ways having put noble man in for 20a!!!! teach me to read the review properly!! :oops: sorry

        2. In the House of Lords, a Noble (a Lord, Peer, Earl, etc) may gas (talk) hence “the talk of the House of Lords”

          Helium (Chemical symbol) He is an example of a “noble gas” – one of a group as previously explained.

          He, for example, is therefore a noble gas.

          1. Thanks Prolixic, I had nobleman as my answer and therefor couldn’t see the connection! Thanks everyone for your patience :)

      1. Ah, now I can see why those who know think this is such a good clue. Thanks for the link Qix.

  12. Thought I’d never get started but having solved a few the rest followed on. I liked 4d for it’s complete literalness, didn’t understand 20a till reading the blog. enjoyable on the whole so thanks to Jay and Falcon

  13. I would have thought 20a should read “It, for example, ” not “He, since the answer is inanimate

  14. What a lovely one today, I couldn’t see 7a to save my life and needed the help of Falcon thanks but got the rest. The blog has been really good as well thanks to the setter and all the contributors

  15. Not into periodic tables etc. etc. so would never have got that one, but once explained can see it’s a good clue. Also needed help with 8a – was firmly fixed on “sea” instead of those who serve thereon! Also had trouble with 14a. Thanks to all for the tips – my completion rate is improving since I’ve found the blog

  16. I thought that this was far more difficult than usual for a Wednesday – glad to read that it’s not just me!
    Needed the hints for 20a – could see that it had to be ‘noble something’ but missed the significance of ‘He’.
    Also needed to read the hints for 21d, and to explain 18d.
    Looking back on the whole crossword now I enjoyed it but found it hard to get started (not to mention completely impossible to finish on my own!)
    Clues that I particularly liked today include 8, 15 and 23a and 4 (even though it’s sport!) and 17d.
    Rather think that I might give the toughie a miss today …..
    Thanks to Jay and to Falcon for the hints.

  17. I second Kath. I thought 20a a wonderful clue once it was explained to me, but never would have got it alone. Also had put in ‘noble man’. I managed to do just over half before having to resort to your hints. For 18d i thought of ‘cave’ as a warning and went from there. Thanks to Jay, if it was he, and to Falcon for helping me finish. :-)

    1. Hi Franny, glad it wasn’t just me that put noble man!! It took a lot of explaining before I got it as you can see from the blog :)

        1. MMMMMMMMM – back on 1st Feb, would you believe I’ve had toothache since I’ve been, didn’t have it going there! thanks for asking :(

  18. Nice puzzle from Jay.
    Best for me : 15a, 20a, 9d, 13d & 18d.
    13d not in CCD!
    The convolvulus is presumably called Morning Glory because it flowers in the night?

    1. Being neither a botanist nor a gardener, I may be treading on shaky ground here. However, I don’t believe that morning glories flower at night. Some quick research shows that morning glory is a common name for over 1,000 species of flowering plants in the family Convolvulaceae. Wikipedia lists ten genera within this family whose members may be known as morning glory, with one of these being the genus Convolvulus. Wikipedia also says “Most morning glory flowers curl up and close during the warm parts of the day, and are fully open in the morning, thus their name.”

      Moonflowers are certain species of the genus Ipomoea (also in the family Convolvulaceae). Other species of this genus are considered to be morning glories. I would assume that those species that flower at night are called moonflowers and those that flower in the daytime (primarily in the morning) are called morning glories.

      Thus moonflowers are “closely related to the morning glory” (i.e., members, not only of the same family, but of the same genus) but are not themselves morning glories.

      Wikipedia also lists a number of species from other families that are called moonflowers. However, I mentioned this particular plant as the setter specified a “climber”.

  19. Found today’s puzzle a lot more taxing than recent challenges. I was pleased to get 13d (easy anagram but a new one on me) and there were a couple of others I should have got but did not. Very pleasing was this despite not quite rounding it off.

    Better luck tomorrow with DT 26,460.

    Thank to the Setter and for the review.

  20. Surprised to see this rated as a 3*. Did not find it anymore challenging than recent 2* offerings. Very enjoyable all the same.
    Thanks to setter and Falcon for the review.

  21. Managed all but 5 answered today. I too had guessed(!) nobleman for 20a. The more I practice the more successful I get.

  22. Today was a washout. We got 6 clues. I’d like to blame our 5.5 week old but I can’t. He answered one of them. Hats of to the setters. amazing agility of thought. Unlike Keys and Gray…

  23. Firstly, apologies for not commenting for so long on this blog, but a new line of work means that I don’t get to do the crossword until late in the evening as a rule. As such I feel as though I’ve rather ‘missed the boat’. However, feel much moved to say how much I enjoyed 20a; what an absolute gem!

  24. Ambivalent about this puzzle. Did not think it was up to jay’s usual standard, too many plain and simple clues and only two, 20a & 15a which needed some mental gymnastics. Liked 4d but the rest very so so. *for enjoyment and **for difficulty(but only because of 20a &15a

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