DT 26528 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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DT 26528

Daily Telegraph Cryptic No 26528

A full review by Crypticsue

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

This was one of those Saturday Prize Puzzles that left me in a good mood for the rest of the day. It was fun to solve, with some very good clues and great penny-dropping moments. I then had even more fun working out the wordplay out for the review. Thank you very much Mystery Setter, more of the same please!

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    Amusing chap travelling by rail or older form of transport (5,5)
WAGON TRAIN – an amusing chap or a WAG ON TRAIN, split 5, 5 would be a group of wagons used by those early American settlers going west when that part of the country was considered to be wild.

6a    Northerner one’s excluded from racecourse (4)
SCOT – Remove A (one excluded) from ASCOT racecourse and you are left with someone from Scotland, which is, of course, in the North – well it is from where I am sitting!

10a    Almost settle the country’s ministry (5)
DEFRA – DEFRAY means to settle or pay up. The first five letters (ie almost [all of] settle) are the acronym for the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, the Government department responsible for regulation of matters relating to the countryside.

11a    Gather about stormy life with Master, it has its ups and downs (6,3)
RELIEF MAP – A ‘lift and separate’ clue. Take an anagram (stormy) of LIFE, follow this with M for master and insert into REAP – another word for gather or harvest. These maps show the ups and downs of the country by means of elevations and depressions in the material used to make them.

12a    Look over boy turning in disgrace (7)
SCANDAL – An alternative word meaning disgrace is easily found in the wordplay: SCAN (look over or examine closely) and a reversal of LAD (boy turning).

13a    More dandified servant of S Pickwick (7)
SWELLER – A swell is a dandy so someone more dandified would be SWELLER. Using S Pickwick in the wordplay, the setter is clearly indicating that we only need the initial and surname of Mr Pickwick’s servant, S(am) WELLER.

14a    Cultivating talent adds spice to keeping wild fern round Spain (5,7)
GREEN FINGERS – People who are good, or talented, at growing plants are said to have green fingers. An anagram (wild) of FERN round E (IVR code for Spain) inserted into GINGERS (puts ginger or spice into in order to enliven or make spirited).

18a    Irregular army can then capture five ships (8,4)
MERCHANT NAVY – Ships involved in commerce – an anagram (irregular) of ARMY CAN THEN with V (five) captured by insertion.

21a    The girl has to make a visit returning clobber (7)
SHELLAC – A learn-something-new-every day clue. Our setter has resisted the temptation to use the more common definition of shellac as a resin used as a varnish. We now all know that, if you take SHE (the third person female pronoun) and follow it with a reversal of CALL (make a visit), you can also define the resulting word SHELLAC as a North American informal term meaning to defeat decisively – this is, of course, also a definition of clobber.

23a    Civil war protagonist arrayed in rosy kit (7)
YORKIST – a supporter of the House of York in the Wars of the Roses is an anagram of (arrayed in) ROSY KIT.

24a    An experimental flower maybe pure white (9)
ALABASTER – My last one in – I think all those checking letter A’s put me off. A charade of A LAB (something experimental – eg a lab rat) followed by ASTER (a garden flower) produces a translucent form of gypsum which is often (maybe) pure white.

25a    Something valuable when regulated (5)
ASSET – an item of value when split 2, 3 could be said to be as laid down or regulated.

26a    Unknown alien, one supposed highland inhabitant (4)
YETI – You can’t get much higher land than the Himalayas where this creature is supposed to be found. An easy charade of Y (an unknown, especially in algebra) ET (the abbreviation for extra-terrestrial although these days people tend to think of the film Alien) and I (one).

27a    Study lawyers in the case that’s falling apart (10)
THREADBARE – Another ‘lift and separate clue’ . Take READ, a term meaning to study, follow it with BAR (barristers, lawyers and advocates collectively) and then insert or case in THE. Something THREADBARE is worn and shabby and so probably falling apart.


1d    Wife that is most broad (6)
WIDEST – normally in a crossword that is means that you have to insert IE the abbreviation for the Latin term id est. Here the reverse applies, you need to put the full term after W (wife) to get an adjective meaning most broad.

2d    Nonsense gets a weak laugh (6)
GUFFAW – an informal term for nonsense, GUFF, followed by A and W(eak) – a GUFFAW is far from weak, being defined by Chambers as a loud, boisterous laugh.

3d    Cruelly harm lean tanned primitive type (11,3)
NEANDERTHAL MAN – a man from pre-historic times can be obtained from an anagram (cruelly) of HARM LEAN TANNED.

4d    Harry Lauder ran as church dignitary (5,4)
RURAL DEAN – Another anagram (harry). LAUDER RAN rearranges to RURAL DEAN, a clergyman who has the duty of care and inspection of the clergy in certain parishes.

5d    Keys for passageways by the sound of it (5)
ISLES – definition or homophone? – keys are types of islands or ISLES. This of course sounds like AISLES or passageways.

7d    Yields to falsehood in ‘bog-standard’ schools (8)
COMPLIES – COMPS is an abbreviation for comprehensive schools, which some might consider to be ‘bog-standard’. Insert a LIE or falsehood to get a word meaning yields or agrees with the wishes of another.

8d    Officers to lead donkey’s about right (3,5)
TOP BRASS – A term for the officers in the military services – another charade TO plus PB (the chemical symbol for lead), with R for right inserted (about) before ASS, another word for donkey.

9d    HP Lovecraft’s foremost with world of fantasy (5-5,4)
NEVER-NEVER LAND – Nice mislead here. Did I know about HP Lovecraft’s books? Turned out I didn’t need to! Sometimes people refer to buying something on Hire-Purchase or HP as on the NEVER-NEVER. Follow this with L (the foremost letter of Lovecraft) and AND (with) to get a fantasy world where you might find Peter Pan and the Lost Boys.

15d    Without a care, such infancy would be fashionable (5-4)
FANCY-FREE – The solution that fits the first part of the clue is obvious. Working out the second part of the wordplay took a little time. If you remove the word fancy from infancy (ie make it fancy-free)
you are then left with the word IN, regularly used in crosswordland as a synonym for fashionable.

16d    Spy girl in year out (8)
EMISSARY – An anagram (out) of YEAR with MISS (an unmarried girl) inserted produces EMISSARY. I was not aware of the definition of emissary being someone sent out on a secret spying mission, but it is Chambers’ second definition of the word.

17d    What’s made finally in working at craft (8)
ARTEFACT – a thing made by human workmanship is an anagram (working) of AT CRAFT with E inserted (madE finally in).

19d    Some of the drowsiest animals rest (6)
SIESTA – a hidden clue – a rest that all animals, including humans, have been known to enjoy is hidden in drowSIEST Animals.

20d    Representation of person well-regarded in country (6)
STATUE – a representation, usually life-size of the human form – STATE, another word for country, with U inserted (socially acceptable, well-regarded).

22d    Bag fastening (5)
CATCH – I wasn’t the only one to originally have clasp here. A double definition – a bag/quantity of game caught or a fastening such as that on a window.

My favourite clue remains 24a but I have highlighted in blue some of the others that were close runners-up. The next two Saturdays will be in the safe hands of Gnomethang.

1 comment on “DT 26528

  1. Nice review of a good fun crossword.

    I liked 1D for the unusual treatment of “that is”.

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