DT 26548 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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DT 26548

Daily Telegraph Cryptic No 26548

Hints and tips by Gazza

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BD Rating – Difficulty ***Enjoyment ***

We have an unknown setter today (but a different one from last week, unless I’m very much mistaken). I thought that this was enjoyable and just about the right level of difficulty for the back-page puzzle – let us know what you thought in a comment.
To reveal an answer highlight the space between the brackets under the clue.

Across Clues

1a  Thick soup cowherd prepared (7)
{CHOWDER} – a rich, thick soup is an anagram (prepared) of COWHERD.

5a  Trendy drink I had in flat (7)
{INSIPID} – the definition is flat, i.e. lacking interest or dull. Start with a short word meaning trendy, then add a verb to drink and a contraction of I had.

9a  Step into someone’s shoes and do well (7)
{SUCCEED} – double definition.

10a  Boring little man with debts (7)
{TEDIOUS}  – add debts to the abbreviated version (little) of a man’s name to form an adjective meaning boring.

11a  Working miracle on excavator (9)
{COALMINER} – an anagram (working) of MIRACLE ON gives us someone who excavates.

12a  Dim British king (5)
{BLEAR} – the abbreviation for British is followed by one of Shakespeare’s kings to form an adjective (or verb) meaning dim, often associated with eyes or eyesight.

13a  Wife, one attending function with dowager (5)
{WIDOW} – the definition is dowager and you need four distinct bits to make this five-letter word: 1) the abbreviation for wife, 2) I (one), 3) a function or party and 4) the abbreviation for with.

15a  Praiseworthy naval officer, English, penning book (9)
{ADMIRABLE} – a very senior naval officer is followed by E(nglish) and has B(ook) inserted (penning) to make an adjective meaning praiseworthy.

17a  Type of missile launched originally is found in sea (9)
{BALLISTIC} – this describes a missile which relies on gravity for the final part of its journey. The initial letter (originally) of L(aunched) and IS go inside a northern sea.

19a  Pasty? Missing a Greek island (5)
{SAMOS} – pasty in the surface reading means pale but in the wordplay it’s a tasty snack. I don’t think our friends from Cornwall would recognise this as a pasty so the question mark is apt, but it is a small triangular savoury pastry from the sub-continent, filled with spiced vegetables or meat. Drop (missing) its final A to leave a Greek island.

22a  Spanish man holding no hearts in card game (5)
{OMBRE} – start with the Spanish word for man and drop the initial H (holding no H(earts)) to be left with a card game for three people.

23a  Battle against monarch’s attendants (9)
{AGINCOURT} – we want the name of a famous battle on French soil in 1415. It’s a charade of a dialect form of against and the word used to describe a monarch’s attendants and hangers-on. It’s lucky that the result of the battle wasn’t in doubt otherwise the judges would have had to wait for the tapestry to decide the winner.

25a  Half of solution is covered by tough political publication (7)
{HANSARD} – this is the official record of the proceedings of the UK parliament. The first half of a 6-letter synonym for solution goes inside another word for tough.

26a  Pardon a crack about bishop (7)
{ABSOLVE} – a verb meaning to pardon someone is formed from A and a verb to crack or decipher around the chess notation for bishop.

27a  Hacienda owner’s Rolls-Royce carrying revolutionary article on top (7)
{RANCHER} – someone who owns a large estate or hacienda is formed from the abbreviation of Rolls-Royce around (carrying) the usual South American revolutionary preceded by an indefinite article. I don’t really like “on top” in an across clue – “in front” would be preferable.

28a  Continuous let near resort (7)
{ETERNAL} – an adjective meaning going on and on (continuous) is an anagram or re-sort of LET NEAR.

Down Clues

1d  Caught cold during a musical, a money-spinner (4,3)
{CASH COW} – this is a term used in business for a money-spinner, a product for which the development costs have already been recouped and for which a large proportion of the selling price is pure profit. Start with the cricket abbreviation for caught, then insert C(old) in a staged musical performance (1,4).

2d  The place for fruit or veg? (7)
{ORCHARD} – this is a place where fruit grows. It’s OR followed by a variety of beet with edible white stalks.

3d  Switch off short play about end of battle (5)
{DREAM} – this is a verb meaning to fantasise and stop paying attention. It’s a play without its final A (short) around the last letter (end) of (battl)E.

4d  No longer needed to go on and on about duke, exposed and upset (9)
{REDUNDANT} – this is an adjective meaning no longer needed. Put a verb meaning to go on at length in an angry way around D(uke) and a synonym for exposed or naked which have to be reversed (upset, in a down clue).

5d  Bury’s season with no games won (5)
{INTER} – remove the letter that appears at the head of the “games won” column in a league table from the start of a season to leave a verb meaning to bury.

6d  Minor poet’s facial hair (9)
{SIDEBURNS} – this facial hair is a charade of an adjective meaning secondary or minor and Scotland’s national poet.

7d  Saw lead choking dog? (7)
{PROVERB} – if you see the word “saw” in a clue it’s always worth checking out whether it’s being used in the sense of a maxim or saying, as it is here. Put the chemical symbol for lead around (choking) the name of a dog. The question mark indicates that other canine names are available.

8d  Merit extremely debatable present? (7)
{DESERVE} – a verb meaning to merit is constructed from the outer (extremely) letters of D(ebatabl)E followed by a verb meaning to present or hand over.

14d  Chess player was hard to beat comprehensively (9)
{WHITEWASH} – the player who makes the first move in a game of chess is followed by WAS and the abbreviation for hard (as used to classify pencils) to make a verb meaning to beat comprehensively.

16d  Friend involving another in scheme (9)
{MACHINATE} – this is a verb meaning to scheme. Put a synonym for friend around the rhyming slang word for a friend (the unspoken rhyming word “plate” actually leads you to the first word).

17d  Trade Unionist’s concern about onset of revolution (7)
{BROTHER} – this is how a trade unionist might address a male colleague. It’s a verb meaning to concern or worry around the first letter (onset) of R(evolution).

18d  The French prohibition includes no Middle-Eastern country (7)
{LEBANON} – the French definite article (masculine singular version) is followed by a prohibition and then NO is included to make the Middle-Eastern country where I lived for a year as a student.

20d  Mawkish woman left home (7)
{MAUDLIN} – an adjective meaning tearfully sentimental or mawkish is the name of a woman (who was reluctant to go into the garden in an old song), L(eft) and a short word for home.

21d  Literary family have comfortable seat (7)
{SITWELL} – the name of a literary English family consisting of Dame Edith and her two brothers could mean, as (3,4) to have a comfortable seat.

23d  Tree with less on top, pollarded (5)
{ALDER} – to pollard means to cut the top off a tree. What we want here is to cut the top letter (in a down clue) off a comparative meaning having less on top (being less hairy) to leave a tree related to the birch.

24d  Class players, European (5)
{CASTE} – a social class, especially in India, is the dramatis personae followed by E(uropean).

I liked 1d, 5d and 7d today but my favourite was 19a. Tell us which clues you liked in a comment.

Today’s Quickie pun: {MILL} + {CROWNED} = {MILK ROUND}

68 comments on “DT 26548

  1. 7d and 16d were my favourites. I found this rather tricky in places but agree, gazza, that it is a very well pitched back page puzzle that was very satisfying to solve. Thanks to you and to the setter who did rather a good job!

  2. Again, another very enjoyable but not too difficult puzzle today. No great favourites, but 16D did require some thinking about as did 19A.

  3. I enjoyed this one, which all fell into place without any difficulty.
    Favourite clues were 17a, 14d, and 16d.
    Thanks to setter, and to gazza.

  4. Finished this very pleasing puzzle whilst waiting at the barbers. (Quite a long queue) :( Some pleasing clues, especially 23a and 7d.

    1. Forgot my manners….. Thanks setter and some great bits of blog from Gazza. Must be feeling light headed.

  5. I must be having an upside down week. Having found yesterday’s Rufus trickier than usual, I raced through this one in 1/3 of the time – only just over a one stopper – to see it has three stars.

    Many thanks to the setter and to Gazza for the notes.

  6. Liked this one, Gazza are you suggesting that Ted was a boring little man or the answer to 10a or both? :-) Thanks to the setter and Gazza for the hints

    1. Read into it what you will :D I thought that putting him next to a coalminer (responsible for his downfall) was apposite.

  7. I found this one just right for a Tuesday, couple of tricky bits but great fun. Once again the same favourites as Gazza. Thanks to him for the review and the mystery setter for a great start to Tuesday.

    I think the Toughie must have got lost on its way to the end of the week because it’s very tough for a Tuesday. Worth a perservate as it has some great clues, although it might help if, like me, you have a handy Gnome to let you on to the secret of the first letter of 6a!

    1. This then must be one of the very very rare occasions when a “handy andy” could have helped you!!

  8. I enjoyed this one and also thought that it was about the right level of difficulty. I’ve never heard of 1d but it was one of those that was possible to work out from the clue – always good to learn a new word or expression! Liked 10, 19 and 23a and 2, (our chard has red and yellow edible stalks – don’t think they taste any different but they look pretty in the veggie patch!) 7, 14 and 20d – favourite was 16d.

  9. Nice puzzle, although I thought that it wasn’t quite three stars for difficulty.

    Thanks to the setter, and also to Gazza for some excellent blogging, particularly the Heath/miner juxtaposition and the italicised comment on 23a. Lovely stuff!

  10. Maany thanks to the setter for a well constructed and enjoyable puzzle and to Gazza for the usual superb review.

  11. An enjoyable workout today….thanks to the setter!

    16d an absolute blinder

  12. Well, I’m sorry, but I didn’t enjoy this one much at all, and couldn’t have come near finishing it (even with Chambers) without your hints, Gazza, for which many thanks. Not the right wave-length, I expect, but I don’t like clues like 1d and 25a, and I’d never heard of ‘whitewash’ meaning to beat — though I’ve just found it under ‘obscure’ in my dictionary.

    1. Hi Franny
      I’ve always known a ‘whitewas’h to be when you beat somebody and they don’t even score, 6-0, 6-0, 6-0 in a tennis match or winning a test series 5-0 in cricket. I suppose 1-0 in a football game would be one too but I’ve never heard the term used in football.

  13. Enjoyed today’s puzzle and found it not too difficult, apart from making trouble for myself with 19a – I took out the ‘s’ instead of the ‘a’. In my defence, Samoa is an island, but I admit I was having trouble justifying ‘s’ as a Greek anything! :-) This, in turn, led to issues with 21d – ‘Attwell’ isn’t quite the same…
    Thanks to the mystery setter and to Gazza for your entertaining comments.

    1. Oh dear – poor you. It’s so difficult when you screw one clue up and that has repercussions with a load of others!

  14. Excellent crossword I thought and also excellent blog!
    16d was favourite with7d a close second.
    Thanks to the setter and Gazza.

    1. I’m very late on parade here today – spent most of the day trying to set up a blog for the community where our apartment is – failing miserably most of the time but kept look here to see how it’s done (thanks BD)!

      Anyway, I enjoyed this puzzle but got seriously stuck in the SW corner by trying to find a chess players name for 14d and a Spanish man’s name with a “B” in the centre for 22a. Pablo fitted perfectly . . . but it did not make sense. Big D’oh moment when the light finally dawned.

      Thanks Gazza for the excellent blog (but where were the ladies today?) and setter for a stretching (for me) crossword. As usual my own PB came to the rescue on a few.

  15. No I didn’t synchronise with the setter on this one…not great for me…but thanks Gazza and ?

  16. Only had a short time to look at this today (back at work) so looked at the review for a couple of answers this evening. I was struck by the quality of the review itself and ended up reading it all out of interest. Enjoy the evening all – a great time of year I think – off out with the dog now.

  17. I haven’t been on line all day until now, way after everyone else has had their say but late as it is I have to say AlisonS I did the same and also was a bit amazed at Attwell! Otherwise pause for thought from time to time but kept chugging along. Thanks to setter and Gazza

  18. I too found this easier than yesterday’s, but not unusual for me to struggle with a rufus. This was more my bag. Thanks to setter and Gazza.

  19. Not as late as me Brendam, but then I didn’t start very early – again! Think I’m brain-dead this week as had a lot of trouble with this one and needed hints to kick-off the bottom half. However, have finally finished but don’t feel too pleased with myself! Thanks to hinter or would still have a lot of blanks!!

  20. Sorry but I have to say that 7d is the most obscure, ridiculous clue that I have ever come across. Obviously greater minds than mine (including Gazza) are needed to solve or explain that one. I’M obviously in a minority of one as there appear to be no other comments on that particular clue.
    Thanx to Gazza but certainly not the Compiler.

    1. I really like that clue.

      It’s not the usual definition of “saw”, but it is one that’s commonly used in Crosswordland.

      Lovely misdirecting metaphor exploiting the ambiguous “lead” by using a dog-related definition for the middle letters, and “choking” as a containment indicator.

      Nice compact clue that says exactly what it means, but doesn’t mean what it says.

      1. That comment makes it even worse, Glad you enjoyed it Qix, I certainly didn’t.

      2. I’m with you there Qix – it was nearly one of my favourites but I must admit it took a few minutes for the penny to drop! I was looking for a breed of dog rather than a dog’s name with PB or van etc around – probably what the setter intended!

    2. Inclined to agree with you Wayne – I did get it but only because I know that “saw” in a Xword can mean what the answer is, or an old saying, or adage etc. – think using the dog’s name was very obscure! My dog was called Elsa – that would hardly have fited the clue, would it?? If setter couldn’t use a breed of dog thenn something like “tramp” or “wanderer” would perhaps have been more appropriate. Just a thought – a giving some supoort here!

      1. If you were to go down the “Family Fortunes” route, and ask 100 randomly chosen people for a dog’s name, I suspect that the middle five letters of the solution here might, possibly, be marginally more popular than Elsa.

        Similarly, if you were to present that five-letter word to a group of 100 people and ask what it meant, I’d hazard a guess that “a name for a dog” would be right up there, and would probably be more popular than either of the equally valid alternatives that you suggest.

        That, really, is one of the most attractive aspects of cryptic crosswords, for me. The words in the clue are almost always capable of being interpreted in several, often very many, different ways. The compiler’s task is to formulate a clue that gives all of the information required to arrive at the correct answer, while providing a challenge to the solver by attempting to obscure it. Ultimately, the setter wants the clue to be solved, but not without a reasonable degree of effort on the solver’s part.

        I think that this clue achieves that very well.

        1. Qix, What is the famous quote about Setters wanting to put up a good challenge, but ultimately wanting to be defeated? (I don’t think that the compiler of today’s Times Crossword plays by the same rules!)

            1. Franco, I think it was “The ultimate aim of a setter is to do battle with a solver but to lose gracefully.” I must admit that I don’t know who originally wrote that, but it is spot-on.

              The Times today was tricky, but, I think, ultimately wanted to be appreciated in exactly that way.

              Funnily enough, today’s clue of the day for me also contained pet-related misdirection and a less-common interpretation of the definition.

              From the Punk crossword in today’s Indy: 13a “Piddles” primarily among names withdrawn for pussy? (6)

                1. OK you guys – what’s the answers? Being a bit thick at the moment as it’s 0140 here and I’ve had a long day tiling the back wall!

      2. Saw lead choking setter? (7) Perhaps?
        What a well reasoned argument, Qix.

        I think it was Brian Greer in the Guardian who wrote a clue:
        Me and my dog (5,6)
        It helps if you know who he is. Most people who solve that paper regularly DO know him so all the information is there but is was a great feat of whimsy to coin the clue in that particular way.

        1. What a great clue – if you know who Brian Greer is. Otherwise grossly unfair IMO!

          1. Perhaps not so unfair; his pseudonym in the Guardian (which is published as a byline of the puzzle) is Brendan. That might give enough of a hint.

            1. OK, happy with that.
              Didn’t know ‘Brendan’ asa pseudonym but, of course in the Grauniad, that is published. I only know him as Virgilius in the DT – one of my favourites!

            2. The clue would be perfect if Brian Greer does actually own an Irish Setter!! I wonder . . .

            1. Hi France
              Nicked from bestforpuzzles.com –
              Brian GREER
              Brian Greer was born in 1944 in Strabane, Ireland, and is now resident in Portland, Oregon. He is a former crossword editor of The Times (1995-2000) and of The Independent (2005-2006). He continues to set crosswords for The Guardian (as Brendan), and the Sunday Telegraph prize puzzle. He has also set crosswords for The Times, The Independent (as Virgilius) and Toughie crosswords in The Daily Telegraph (as Jed).

              Didn’t realise he was Jed.

                1. Yes – formerly (sometimes) known as “red setter” (which was a clue in The Herald‘s Wee Stinker: “Red Setter? (5)”

                    1. One clue remaining from today’s blog…….“Red Setter? (5)

                      Any hints? – insomniacs in the UK & all others from different time zones are welcome!

                    2. The above reply from Qix languished in the spam folder for reasons only known to the spam filter, which is a law unto itself!

    3. Sorry Wayne – I’m with the majority here – I thought it was a really smart clue.

    4. 7d – I had no problem with this clue – as soon as I saw “Saw” I presumed it was the definition – quite common in CrosswordLand. Nice clue ! Surprised that it’s a matter of debate!

      1. I had a dog called “George”.
        And another one called “Len” at the same time.

        Irrelevant maybe, but while you’re on the subject…….

  21. Didn’t tick any as favourites, but there were several penny-dropping moments. Enjoyable fare.Thanks to all

  22. A very late apology for not saying “thank you” to the mystery setter and to Gazza for a great review, and pictures!

  23. Well, thankfully that was straightforward, good fun and relatively easy, as I didn’t start it until 10:45 last night.
    Happily, lights off about an hour later, so I’m not too grumpy this morning!

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