DT 26496 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
View closed comments 

DT 26496

Daily Telegraph Cryptic No 26496

Hints and tips by Big Dave

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

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

Suspecting that today would be Ray T’s turn I tackled the Quick crossword first. To my surprise there were three words rather than one in the clue for 22 down – is this a rare aberration or has someone tinkered with the puzzle before publication? This puzzle certainly is typical of Ray and I’m sure he will be along later to confirm.

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    Crew approaching ship’s hold (7)
{POSSESS} – a charade of a crew or group and the usual Crosswordland ship gives a verb meaning to hold

5a    Authoress of play featuring Romeo (7)
{DRABBLE} – this English authoress, whose works include The Millstone, The Ice Age and The Radiant Way is created by putting a word meaning to play or tinker around R (Romeo in the NATO phonetic alphabet)

9a    Rest with case of scarlet fever, perhaps (9)
{STILLNESS} – a word meaning rest or tranquillity is derived from the outside letters (case) of ScarleT followed by a disease or complaint (fever perhaps)

10a    Rod’s swagger (5)
{STRUT} – a double definition – as a noun it’s a rod and as a verb it means to swagger

11a    Bowl while protected by box? (5)
{BASIN} – this bowl is created by putting a synonym for while inside a box or container

12a    Dismembering insects, it could be his speciality (9)
{SCIENTIST} – an anagram (Dismembering) of INSECTS IT gives someone whose speciality could be dismembering insects!

13a    ‘Marine! Get moving, bud!’ (9)
{GERMINATE} – an anagram (moving) of MARINE GET gives a word meaning to bud

16a    Being lissom turned on the man (5)
{LITHE} – this word meaning lissom is a charade of a verb meaning turned on and the masculine third person pronoun

17a    Comedy features including Hardy’s middle (5)
{FARCE} – this comedy of extravagant humour, buffoonery, and improbability is derived by putting the fron part of the head (features) around R (HaRdy’s middle)

18a    Boat is able to put about a river (9)
{CATAMARAN} – this twin-hulled boat is constructed by putting a word meaning is able around A and a river that forms part of the boundary between Devon and Cornwall

20a    Sort of software preventing ruin with Vista running (9)
{ANTIVIRUS} – this software that prevents other software from disrupting or damaging a computer system is an anagram (running) of RUIN with VISTA

23a    Escort the woman in old city (5)
{USHER} – this escort is derived by putting the feminine third person pronoun inside the old city so beloved by crossword setters

25a    Smacks and spanks gripping end of thong (5)
{TANGS} – a nice bit of misdirection here – a noun meaning smacks in the sense of flavours is created by putting a verb meaning spanks or wallops around G (end of thonG)

26a    Native American carried around one with firewater (9)
{ABORIGINE} – more misdirection – a native of Australia is built up from A(merican) followed by a verb meaning carried around I (one) and an alcoholic drink (firewater)

27a    King George in Succession embarrassment (7)
{CHAGRIN} – put the cypher for King George inside a word meaning a succession to get a word meaning a feeling of embarrassment

28a    Treatment for people generally hit internally (7)
{THERAPY} – to get this treatment put a pronoun that refers to people generally around a synonym for hit


1d           The answer contains a mixture of letters (7)
{POSTBAG} – a cryptic definition of a sack used for mail

Reminds me of this old chestnut:

Clue: Heavily laden mailman
How many letters?

2d           Weighs anchor and sailor initially is unwell (5)
{SAILS} – what a ship does after it weighs anchor is a charade of S (Sailor initially) and is unwell

3d           For example worker in railway plant (9)
{EGLANTINE} – start with the Latin abbreviation of “for example” and then put a worker-insect inside a railway to get this fragrant species of wild rose

4d           They help to see details (5)
{SPECS} – a double definition – what helps you to see and details, both words being shortened versions

5d           Policemen flank exterior of nearest protestor (9)
{DISSIDENT} – start with these senior members of CID and then add a flank and the outside letters (exterior) of NearesT to get this protestor

6d           Crime of clergyman losing head (5)
{ARSON} – this crime results if you take a clergyman and remove his initial letter

7d           Brief obstruction blocking street (9)
{BARRISTER} – brief is a slang word for this member of the legal profession – put an obstruction around (blocking) ST(reet)

8d           Seen in undergarment? It lessens style (7)
{ENTITLE} – hidden inside (seen in) the clue is this verb meaning to style or designate

14d         ‘Land of Hope…’ (9)
{RURITANIA} – a cryptic definition of this fictional country invented by novelist Anthony Hope

15d         Discover a smear about Church rector (9)
{ASCERTAIN} – a word meaning to discover is created by putting A and a smear or blemish around the Church of England and a R(ector)

16d         Motor oil in use travelling around motorway (9)
{LIMOUSINE} – this type of motor car is derived by putting an anagram (travelling) of OIL IN USE around M(otorway)

17d         Agitated French caper (7)
{FRANTIC} – a word meaning agitated is a charade of FR(ench) and a caper

19d         Where issue may be raised in the House? (7)
{NURSERY} – one meaning of issue is children, so we a looking for somewhere in a house that children are raised

21d         Peak is gold following victory (5)
{VISOR} – this peak on a helmet is built up from IS and the heraldic term for gold following V(ictory)

22d         Tail to catch old spy (5)
{SCOUT} – put  the tail of a hare, rabbit or deer around O(ld) to get a spy sent out to reconnoitre

24d         Port starts to have an Israeli fleet anchored (5)
{HAIFA} – this appropriately Israeli port is derived from the initial letters (starts) of the last five words in the clue

As you might expect, I loved this puzzle from one of my favourite setters.  14 down was, for me, the stand-out clue.

The Quick crossword pun: {warrant} + {piece} = {War and Peace}

58 comments on “DT 26496

  1. 13a, 10a and in particular 25a were firm favourites, the latter convincing me that this was a RayT production. I found this slightly more straightforward than previous of his but as usual a lot of fun to be had.
    Thanks to the setter and BD.

  2. A new words to add to my lexicon in 22d which is always nice. Quality puzzle that I deliberately took ages to finish as I was enjoying it so much. Sometimes I think the race to finish a puzzle in a given time detracts from the enjoyment of the chase. A bit like shooting the grouse while it is on the ground.
    Thanks to B Dave and Ray T for quality, it never goes out of fashion

  3. I thoroughly enjoyed this offering from one of the finest setters.
    SE corner was last with 26a last of all. I just needed all the checked squares to crack it. Brilliant clue.

    Before that, I struggled with 22d.

    If not for those two, it would have been over coffee. Now it needed a bit more reflection…

    Diff: **, enjoyment ****

    Thanks RayT & BD!

  4. Another cracker from RayT. Really enjoyed this one; favourite was 26 but the rest were all top notch. 8d gave me a laugh. Thanks for a great workout.

  5. Cracking puzzle from Ray T. Only just over a two stopper when the light dawned on 26a to complete the grid. Favourite clue was 20a. Many thanks to setter and blogger.

  6. Have 4 left in bottom L/H corner, finding it hard to concentrate today one dog Angel) gone in for biopsy and her sister (Shadow) moping and whining around the house! So far a 4 * for me today, back later

    1. Not surprised that you can’t concentrate with that going on. Do hope that they’re both OK – and you of course!!

  7. Loved it! Not as difficult as some of his, in my opinion anyway. I got a bit snarled up in the top left hand corner – couldn’t ‘see’ 1a to save my life and wondered about (but didn’t get as far as writing in) making 1d ‘settler’ – an anagram of ‘letters’ meaning to settle an argument, or a tie in some kind of match, or something along those lines anyway! Just an idea ….
    Took a while to get 12a as I was trying to think of a specific one rather than a general term.
    Best for me today include 5, (so misleading) 9, 12 and 25a (so Ray T!) and 1 and 22d.
    Thanks to Ray T for a great puzzle and to Big Dave for the hints.

  8. Not a good day for me today I’m afraid :-( but hey ho, the crossword was a good workout, likes 13a, 18a, 20a and 14d. Many thanks and hopefully the rest of the day will get better.

  9. I found this the toughest one of the week so far, but still enjoyable. 11a was the last in for me. Some of these 5 letter words seem to be getting as difficult as 4 letter words to solve! Thanks to setter and BD for the [so far partial] review

  10. Enjoyed this one so thanks to Ray T.

    Pommete’s gone out for the day leaving me doing some tiling in the courtyard so, having done this and the Toughie, I’d better go and get on with it as I can’t stand the sight of blood – especially my own!

  11. A lovely Ray T today. I did smile at the cheeky 25a and, like BD my favourite is 14d. Wonder how many of our younger solvers will have heard of that one! Thanks to Ray and BD.

    Do try the other puzzle, apart from a couple of clues it’s definitely back page level do-able.

    1. I’d heard of 14d, but hadn’t ever realised that it was fictional – there are so many small eastern European countries…! Crosswords are definitely an education. :-)

  12. Of course it’s a Ray T, no way in as usual. Forgot it was Thursday or otherwise I would have bought the Indy!! Not going to waste my time, I’m going to play Golf instead.

      1. Well Sue, I’ve had a look and my only comment is – YOU HAVE GOT TO BE KIDDING!! I would have more chance of knitting fog!
        Can’t solve a single clue in either puzzle yet I have finished Monday to Wednesday. makes little sense to me (just like a Ray T crossword :-) )

    1. Barrie, if you can’t manage a RayT then you’ve not got a prayer with the Indy. Sun Coffee Time maybe better. If your agent offered you a cameo role as a Paris-based crossword setter, you would obviously have to turn it down – ‘Far too difficult, couldn’t possibly’ etc…..

  13. Thanks to RayT for another enjoyable puzzle, and to BD for the notes.
    Time to see what the marmite puzzle has to offer!

    1. Exactly! Ray T puzzles seem to divide opinion like no other. You either hate ’em or you love ’em. I’m with Barrie on this one and I suspect we are not alone. IMO his puzzles may be technically excellent but they are just too arcane and should be restricted to the Toughie for the enjoyment of the Ultras. Surely that’s why The Toughie was born – to give those who like extreme crosswording an outlet while lesser mortals just want a puzzle that they can solve within a human timescale without an overuse of electronic solvers etc. That’s why I leave the Toughies alone. Like Barrie I tend to wander off to other things when a Ray T appears which is miffing as the back page Cryptic – which I often complete unaided – is one of the reasons I subscribe.

  14. This took me longer than usual, but I had a good time working my way through it. I made things difficult for myself by putting “stick” for 10a, and spent a long time wondering if Margaret Drabble wrote plays, but on the whole it was an enjoyable challenge. 14d amused me very much, but favourites were 26 and 28a.

    Thanks to Ray T and BD. :-)

    1. You’re not the only one to put STICK in 10a, Franny. My PinC put the same and explained about the drill-sergeant’s swagger-stick, so I thought that sounds fine to me. We were glad of the help of Big Dave’s early across-clues posting to get us going on that corner and couldn’t believe it took us so long to spot the hidden word in 8d! Neither of us knew of 5a’s authoress (would’ve thought that surname would’ve rung a bell if we’d heard of her), so that didn’t help in the NE corner either

  15. Enjoyed the puzzle, but I am afraid 14d is as old as the hills (I suspect it probably a Rufus original) and really should be confined to the Home for Retired Crossword Clues, where it can live out the remainder of its days.

    I know there will probably be a few people who haven’t seen it before, but I think i have seen it four times in the past 12 months in various publications.

    1. Yes, it goes back at the very least to the 1980s, as I know it features somewhere in one of the ancient DT Cryptic paperbacks that still lurk on a bookshelf with quite a few still unfinished because I think they were harder then.

  16. I found this one a bit tougher than the usual Ray T. but it was a very enjoyable solve. A little (very little) niggle about unfair capital letters though – 19d – House and 27a – Succession.

    Many thanks to compiler and blogger.

  17. Found this one hard. Spent a long time but still thwarted by 26a and 22d and had to revert to hints. Didn’t solve many on first couple of passes then hit on the odd clue here and there to produce domino effect bar the south east. Guessed 14d after assuming it was a Bob Hope film reference! Very enjoyable despite my failure to complete and ignorance.

  18. This puzzle was definitely tougher than yesterday’s – I’d go with BD’s 3*, but I’d probably stick with 3* for enjoyment as well. I’ve never heard of 5a (or any of her novels), but I did guess correctly once I’d read the hint. Only then did I get 7d. Also, while I’d heard of 14d, I hadn’t ever realised that it was fictional (there are so many little eastern European countries and they keep changing!!) – got it from the checking letters and then looked it up. You do live and learn… I enjoyed 17a, 1d, 6d and 5d, once I finally worked it out. Thanks to Ray & BD.

    Loved the pun in the Quick, especially with the accent! :-)

  19. A game of 3 halves for me. Slow start; came back and did about 50%; went away and then it all fell into place. Nice one. Suspect BD is correct about the Quickie – why would Ray T forsake his trademark with 22d with a clumsy 3-word clue when there are plenty of one-worders that would have worked? Strange! Thanks BD & RT

  20. Never heard of 14d and got 22d wrong! struggled with rest of it but did finish, with lots of help and hints , thanks Dave, Dog due home any second now just have to wait for results in 3 or 4 days time now, how expensive was today?????? don’t ask between teeth and dogs! :-)

    1. Oh dear, yet again!! Poor you – do hope that Angel recovers well (always amazes me just how quickly animals recover from surgery) and that Shadow recovers from her (or? his) separation anxiety and that you recover from the general trauma of the day.

  21. I really surprised myself today, I got 15 answers without any help at all! Managed 3/4 of the puzzle before an exciting afternoon at the crem. But the NW corner was all white space, except for 1a. How can you tell whether the ST in 9a comes first, last or at both ends? I can’t see any indication there.

    Thanks to Ray T and BD.

    1. It’s all to do with where you lift and separate.

      The clue could be “rest with ST (case of scarlet) = fever, perhaps” or “rest = with ST (case of scarlet) put fever, perhaps”.

      The word with is confusing, but the second version is the correct one.

  22. An appropriate place to thank BD for the usual incisive analysis, and to thank all who commented.

    I’m still laughing at UTC’s ‘Sudoku’ line…

    Ray T

  23. Slow to get into this but all well constructed when I look back. Is it a deliberate policy never to allow Gazza to review a Ray T? I guess the blog would be X-rated. Thanks again.

  24. Very poor for me due to an inabiilty to find a good spot in the day. The worst yet in my nascent crosswording addiction! I would have been at it all night and not found 14d. Hope for better tomorrow.

    Many thanks for the tips BD – put me out of my misery.

    1. Hello Matt M
      Stick with it, you’ll be surprised how quick you hone your skills by reading the blogs on here. Some very clever people with a good knack of making the complicated sound simple! Plenty of ‘D’ohs’ along the way!
      I’ve learned loads in the last 12 months, to the extent that BD now lets me do the Weds blog! How spooky is that?

  25. Absolutely brilliant idea.
    Helps us improve our own crossword solving skills Top effort

  26. Staggering! second day of completion a) in daylight and b) without BD’ing. It’s a miracle.
    Great clues again, really good.
    DT, RT hats off.

  27. Nice puzzle Ray T.
    I liked 1a, 5a, 9a, 18a, 26a, 3d, 7d, 16d & 22d. 1d was a good laugh!

    A posse is more of a band or group than a crew – I restrict crew to members of a craft (ship or aircraft). Another case of crossword licence?

    1. Derek

      You’ve been away from the UK or too long!

      From Chambers:

      A gang or group of (esp young) friends (slang)

      Crew has a similar meaning but even Chambers has not caught up yet.

  28. I’m with Barrie – think golf would have been a much better idea!! Did finish, but only with loads of help from the hints – think Ray T has a very twisted mind. No offence – maybe it’s just twisted away from mine? Afraid I didn’t enjoy. 25a prime example – you may well say “it s*****” of something or other,but you never say it “t****” of something or other, although it may well have a “t***” of something. I consider the clue to be a verb and the answer to be a noun, which doesn’t sit right. However, I’m obviously in the minority and I shall still keep plodding on.
    I am sad to advise you that the person who directed me to this site died suddenly on Monday – I don’t know if he was a blogger but he definitely used the site so every time I do likewise I think of him – now how’s that for a testimonial?

    1. Hi Addicted
      Strange how our minds all work differently. Yesterday, in my blog, I had a complete blind spot on 4d which everyone else could see immediately.
      25a today, as soon as I read the clue I thought smacks must be different from spanks and thought ‘a taste’ , ‘smacks of’ or similar so the answer was fairly easy for me to spot. Verbs and nouns seem to me to be pretty well interchangeable in clues so don’t always believe what you read!
      I guess that’s what makes the whole thing interesting!.

  29. BD, forgot to mention it before but thanks for the boat picture!
    Not that I’m a great fan of catamarans as they’re more stable upside down than the right way up! At least Firenze was self-righting, not that we ever tested that theory!

Comments are closed.