DT 26550 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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DT 26550

Daily Telegraph Cryptic No 26550

Hints and tips by Big Dave

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BD Rating – Difficulty ***Enjoyment **

Judging by the early recorded times on Telegraph Puzzles (that is those times entered before the cheats have come along) it seems that several people found this puzzle difficult, so I have opted for three stars rather than two (that probably won’t be enough for some!). Although I had no difficulties in solving, I thought that several of the constructs were bordering on unfair.

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    Be critical of a Catholic institute in friendly Central American location (6,4)
{PANAMA CITY} – start with a word meaning to criticise (3), follow that with A and then C(atholic) I(nstitute) inside a colloquial word for friendly to get a location in a Central American state

6a    Black dog has lead for restraint (4)
{CURB} – B(lack) is preceded by (has lead) an unkempt dog to get a restraint

9a    Old sea dog (5)
{ROVER} – an old sea dog or pirate is also the name of a dog – easy to solve, but it is neither a double definition nor a proper all-in-one clue – I can see how some might think this was clever, but I’m not one of them

10a    O’Connor Socrates — not so daft philosopher (9)
{DESCARTES} – start with the first name of Mr O’Connor (not Tom but the one with Careless Hands) and then add an anagram (daft) of (SO)CRATES without the first two letters (not so) to get this famous French philosopher – “Cogito, ergo sum”

12a    Writer’s profession lacking new hip art’s development (13)
{CALLIGRAPHIST} – to get this creator of decorative handwriting start with another word for a profession, drop the N(ew) and then add an anagram (development) of HIP ART’S

14a    Tack that’s more than near the knuckle! (4,4)
{OSSO BUCO} – a cryptic definition of an Italian dish of veal knuckle cooked with the bone and stewed in wine, herbs, etc.

15a    Composer of ‘Give Ireland Back To The Irish’ and ‘Eleanor Rigby’ (6)
{HANDEL} – this composer is hidden in the clue – and is accompanied by rather too many words that are only included for the surface reading, which might have been acceptable if the answer was Paul McCartney, the actual composer of the two songs

17a    Sweet so good they named it twice (6)
{BONBON} – take an originally French word meaning good then repeat it to get a confection or sweet

19a    Change of heart tends mostly to portend evil (8)
{THREATEN} – an anagram (change) of HEART followed by TEN (tends mostly / over half of the word tends) gives a word meaning to portend evil

21a    Deploying grit then force is not Labour’s inclination (5-2-6)
{RIGHT-OF-CENTRE} – an anagram (deploying) of GRIT THEN FORCE gives the political ground usually occupied by the Conservatives

24a    See 22 Down

25a    Relative’s confused when a right is disregarded (5)
{UNCLE} – to get this male relative, take a word meaning confused or indistinct and drop (disregard) A R(ight) from the end

26a    Bad emotional experience foolishly starts quarrel (4)
{BEEF} – take the initial letters (starts) of the first four words in the clue to get a quarrel or argument

27a    Five crack police confronting regular peddler with old bike (10)
{VELOCIPEDE} – combine the Roman numeral for five, an anagram (crack) of POLICE and the even (regular) letters of pEdDlEr to get an old bike – the answer is not a lady who has numerous male visitors!


1d           Too much French upset Stanley, for one (4)
{PORT} – reverse the French for “too much” to get the word that precedes, for example (for one) Stanley in the Falkland Islands

2d           Recruits in order to have these? (7)
{NOVICES} – split these beginners or recruits (in a religious order, perhaps) (2,5) to get what the recruits are supposed to have

3d           Naughty Romeo stole bra — it should give support (6,7)
{MORALE BOOSTER} – an anagram (naughty) of ROMEO STOLE BRA gives something that should give support to someone who needs it! – Chambers gives the enumeration as (6-7)

4d           Code cracked by detective on the tail of classic English item of apparel (8)
{CODPIECE} – put CODE around (cracked by) a Private Investigator and follow with C (tail of classiC) and E(nglish)

5d           He is dumped by Theresa — not exactly a stunner (5)
{TASER} – drop HE (he is dumped) from T(HE)RESA and then an anagram (not exactly) gives a stun gun

7d           Rule in loose case not brought to court (7)
{UNTRIED} – put R(ule) inside a word meaning loose or not done up to get a word describing a case that is not brought to court

8d           Unreliable atlas bound to show antiquated name for African country (10)
{BASUTOLAND} – an anagram (unreliable) of ATLAS BOUND to give the  antiquated (pre 1966) name for Lesotho

11d         Following Arbuckle’s lead, the metamorphosis of Chaplin, a true star (5,8)
{ALPHA CENTAURI} – start with A (Arbuckle’s lead) and follow it with an anagram (metamorphosis) of CHAPLIN A TRUE gives the third-brightest star in the sky

13d         Nipper caught barber dressed in short gown (6,4)
{ROBBER CRAB} – this “nipper” is a crustacean with pincers – put an anagram (dressed ??) of C(aught) and BARBER inside a gown without its final E (short)

16d         How opening of ‘Star Trek’ spelled out sequel (5,3)
{SHREK TWO} – an anagram (spelled out) of HOW S (opening of Star) TREK gives a sequel of a popular animated film

18d         Close bond that’s fashioned with retirement in mind (7)
{NIGHTIE} – a charade of a word meaning close or near and a bond gives a garment worn in bed (fashioned with retirement in mind)

20d         Essential ingredient of philtre? A clear sticky goo (7)
{TREACLE} – hidden inside (essential ingredient of) the clue is a clear sticky goo

22d & 24a            What a buttoned-up 18 might be? (5-9)
{FLAME-RETARDANT} – if the garment in 18d is buttoned-up it might cool the passion of a lover – as it is it makes said garment resistant to catching fire

23d         Radio’s top dog (4)
{PEKE} – what sounds like (radio’s) the top of a mountain is actually an informal word for a Chinese breed of small short-legged dog

Too many messy clues for my liking – better luck next Thursday!

The Quick crossword pun: {bray} + {cull} + {egg} = {break a leg}

75 comments on “DT 26550

  1. osso buco…… this knuckle head clue was too fanciful, but in general the clues were clever.

    1. Especially since osso buco is made from shin of veal, not knuckle. (Per the OED; it doesn’t seem to be in Chambers.)

      1. The definition in Chambers is the one I gave in the hint.

        The ODE has:
        an Italian dish made of shin of veal containing marrowbone, stewed in wine with vegetables.

        and just to be awkward the New Oxford American Dictionary has:
        an Italian dish made with veal shank containing marrowbone, stewed in wine with vegetables and seasonings

        BTW the OED is the huge dictionary – the Oxford Dictionary of English (ODE) is the single-volume version.

      2. Having pointed out that you had probably not looked it up in the OED, I thought I had better check what it says. No surprise here – you were right!

        Pronunciation: Brit. /ˌɒsəʊ ˈbʊkəʊ/ , /ˌɒsəʊ ˈbuːkəʊ/ , U.S. /ˌɑsoʊ ˈbʊkoʊ/
        Inflections: Plural ossi buchi, osso bucos.
        Forms: 19– osso bucco, 19– osso buco.
        Etymology: < Italian ossobuco (earlier osso buco…

        An Italian dish of shin of veal containing marrowbone, stewed in wine with vegetables.

        1908 N. Newnham-Davis Gourmet's Guide to Europe (ed. 2) i. 40 On Monday, at the Restaurant Italien, you will find Lasagne Passticciate as the plat de jour, on Tuesday Osso Buco.
        1937 R. Thompson & L. Hanges Eating around San Francisco 113 Tuesday—Osso Buco, Milanaise with rissoto.
        1961 Guardian 21 Apr. 8/7 Florentine Veal Stew is reminiscent of the Osso Bucco most of us approve of.
        1961 A. Wilson Old Men at Zoo ii. 97 She‥had arranged with Grazia my favourite meal—ossobuco, a light red chianti, zabaglione.
        1974 Times 2 Nov. 11/5 Prepared beef olives and osso bucco.
        1995 Gourmet Mar. 60/2 The slow-cooked veal shank comes simply strewn with plenty of gremolata, the crucial mince of lemon zest, parsley, and garlic that creates lifelong osso buco seekers.

        1. I did indeed look it up in the OED, as can anyone with a library card and an internet connection!

          1. My apologies for doubting you – a lot of people refer to the ODE as being the OED. Like you I use a library card to acess the OED (that’s the only reason I have the card!).

          2. Boys – Thanks. Didn’t know about this and although no longer live in UK still have my library and am now logged in. Yippeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee

      3. “W’are I cum from” the phrase “near the knuckle” was interchangeacle with “near the bone” as in a bit naughty/blue with jokes. Maybe this is what is alluding to?
        Didn’t like this clue at all – it was our last one in. And I agree with Nubian – “tack” is a bit thin for food. I thought it might have been a typo and should have been “tuck”. But Hey ho . . .

  2. I’ve never heard of the answer to 14a and wouldn’t have got it if I’d sat here for another day! Enjoyed the crossword mostly though and managed to finish all except that one eventually. A few comments though – I think there’s one too many “I”s alluded to in the clue for 1a, I agree with your comment re 9a, I didn’t think there was any indication that the answer to 15a was included in the clue, I didn’t see any sign of an anagram in 13d unless it’s “dressed”. I most enjoyed 22d/24a and 16d, both of which I thought were quite clever.
    Many thanks to BD for hints, and to (mystery?) setter.

      1. Of course – thank you. I was thinking that it was AMITY with AC in the middle.

        1. In this context, ‘of’ is being used as a preposition to indicate possession, or belonging to, as in… the house of my sister..

          1. Thanks Jezza, Yes I get/got it – I suppose I just thought it wasn’t quite definitive enough? Probably just me.

  3. As BD knows, this paper solver found today’s cryptic difficult. It took me nearly three times as long as usual to solve and some of the clues fought until the end. I didn’t like 9a at all and some of the others were ‘groaners’ too. I did like 3d and 22/24. Thanks to the Mystery Setter for the crossword and to BD for the hints and discussions :)

    I agree with my friend Prolixic, that the Toughie is a ‘pussycat’ compared to the back page puzzle. Well worth a try.

  4. 14a annoyed me today as the last to go in. What has tack to do with the answer, if it means some kind of food or dish then I think that is too obscure.
    I was not keen on 23d either, it is not the full name of the dog just an abbrieviation.
    The whole crossword was good but spoiled by obscure clues.
    I am sure I havn’t seen a lot of the clues before.

      1. Thanks for that Roland, should have known that being ex RN although I still think the use of the word tack is a bit thin as a pointer to an Italian food dish.

  5. I took this one with me for a coffee, and then back to the office to finish off. One of the more tricky back page puzzles I have solved recently (and harder than today’s toughie), but I actually quite enjoyed it.
    Thanks to setter, and to BD.

  6. Well if the ‘toughie’ is considered easier than this one, I might well give it a go. Clue that held me up the longest being 4d and still dont understand it but will wait for BD’s explanation later. Favourite for me was 22d&24a.
    Thanx to all as usual.

  7. Regarding 25a, why does it not read “Relative’s confused when a right IS ADDED”. Found this difficult, meant we had a late breakfast!

  8. Very difficult this one. Really struggled with quite a few of the down clues. For example I have no idea where the composer is going with 22d/24a. Any quick hints please?

        1. 16d – An anagram (spelled out) of HOW S(tar)TREK gives the title of a sequel.

          1. TOtally missed the anagram flag, thanks Jezza.

            Got 23d from another hints page :)

        2. 23d – This is a homophone clue, indicated by the word ‘Radio’. You are looking for a word that sounds like ‘top’, that is also a breed of dog.

    1. Something that might put off unwanted attention may also be used to ensure no spread of fire.

      1. That was a better hint than mine – I really shouldn’t have given so much away.


  9. As others have said this is harder than today’s Toughie!
    thanks to BD and the setter.

    1. Well – we struggled at the start with the across clues and didn’t get going until 15a. But after the first pass we had 2/3rds of the answers. But the last 1/3 took some time. Enjoyable? In parts and I liked 3a. But I didn’t like 9a and 15a (agree with you BD far too much “fluff” in 15a and 9a isn’t a “proper” double definition). I also couldn’t work out where 22d/24a down came from even though I had the answer. Thanks pommers for explaining it.
      Thanks to the mystery setter and BD for the hints – finished the puzzle but needed a few to explain the answers.

  10. A lot of people have stated that they consider today’s puzzle ‘Hard’. I disagree, I feel it should be described as ‘Unworthy’. This has to be the puzzle most unworthy of appearing on the back page of the DT that I’ve ever seen with obscure clues and unacceptable answers. 14A – what are we going to get next? Perhaps a Swahili word for stewed aardvark or something along those lines? the majority of the clue in 15A is redundant and seems to have been put in solely to make a long clue, 1A was too confusing a clue, 12A too obscure, 22D/24A did not compute at all and the answer to 23D is an abbreviation.
    Having said that, I did quite like 10A 8D and 11D.

    1. I prefer ‘difficult’ to ‘hard’. Hard implies a different sort of toughness to the struggle I had with sorting out this one.

    2. Agree with both you and CS. ‘Unworthy’ and ‘difficult’ are more accurate than ‘Hard’ for this ltltle rascal. Fun in places though but spoiled overall by the iffy clues.

      Never tried stewed aardvark but it might be quite nice washed down by a bottle of Rioja Reserva!

  11. Some great clues today, but .. 14 across is quite simply a waste of time. What would Barrie have said?

    1. And I’ve just seen the answer to 15a – what the hell is that?? (No need to anwer that question).

  12. The frustrations of this puzzle are compounded by the DT computer having become semi-comatose. Right now (2.15 BST) it is taking several seconds to respond to each entry, and the clock has stopped. I agree with most of the comments above, especially those for 15a, however I feel for the puzzlers who have never experienced the delights of a good Osso Buco (“Bone with a hole” whatever the OEDs etc. say). Get thee to a trattoria and enjoy digging out the delicious marrow.

    1. Totally agree Don Pedro. It is easy to get here in Spain from any good butcher and makes a fabulous meal

  13. I’m inclined to agree with Skempie, CS and Pommers above (10) – difficult and unworthy. I lost the will to fight after a while and just headed for the hints. Not the most satisfying puzzle ever! But I did think 8d was good. Thanks to BD and the blog for the hints.

  14. I found this on a par with the Toughie, probably because of some of BD’s issues ( once they were pointed out to me!)
    I did like the buttoned up nightwear though!)
    Thanks to our setter and to BD.

    1. Agree – are we going to see an illustration for 18d / 22d24a? Also agree with BD’s star ratings, though only just 2* enjoyment I feel.

  15. As it’s Thursday, and knowing that it’s normally Ray T, (and finding this very difficult), I had expected the Blogger to heap much praise on this puzzle. How wrong can one be?

      1. I’ll read your remarks on Twitter!

        (Sorry, but I just cannot distinguish a good crossword from a bad one!)

  16. Tricky, i thought.
    I thought some constructs were a bit “made up” and i really did not like the 22d/24a pun/ joke/ whatever.
    Still, finished it eventually, and obviously, like everybody, struggled with 14a.
    Give me spag bol anyday.

      1. I too have had these ‘worms’ in the brain. The only answer is to overwrite it with a different song. Be careful what you pick as the cure can turn out worse than the illness!

  17. An enjoyable puzzle with one or two unusually difficult clues.
    Best for me were 14a & 11d.

    Used to make osso buco a lot when my wife was alive but went off it when there was all that hoohah about the safety of beef some time ago. Shall get some shin and try it again!! I love marrow – although it is said to be bad for the figure! At my age who cares?
    It is good washed down with red Menetou-Salon.

  18. Took the car to the garage for a short sevice this morning. It took hours…….. in that time I still could not finish either the quickie or the cryptic. :( Needed help at home from the net.
    Never heard of 14a. In the quickie I hadn’t come across 20d def. of ‘sort’ Live and learn though.

    1. Yeah, the Quick was tricky today – never heard of 15a and, while I have heard 20d, it was a very long time ago! Not a great puzzle day, today. :-(

  19. After 144 plays on Telegraph Puzzles (Clued Up) this crossword is showing 2 smileys for enjoyment and 5 stars for difficulty…

  20. Too difficult for me. The most difficult DT crossword since we have been subscribing – 8 years!

  21. Evil! 14a & 22d/24a were just ridiculous. 9a, solved, but why? Never let this person near the back page again!

  22. With my PinC in hospital I had a go on my own today.

    Phew! Made a promising start at the top and enjoyed some nice clues. Glad I wasn’t the only one to struggle to finish. Left 9a until I had all the checking letters as it didn’t fully ‘work’ so felt like one of those wrong answers that half works but is incorrect.

    For 2d, I did like the “in order” (as in religious order) touch. I gave up with 23d, 22d/24a, 16d, 14a unfilled and only the second word of the nipper in 13d.

    Didn’t have a clue about our veal dish and was struggling to find a suitable interpretation of tack (I was playing with FIST for the first word before I had 3d and came up with a very near-the-knuckle possibility that I new couldn’t be in a family crossword, and didn’t fit the definition anyway!)

    I learned something in looking up the former African country and know about Paul McCartney’s other song, once banned by the BBC and released when I was a baby. Having found out about it, I felt that the titles were plausibly each a single compound proper noun adding a degree of legitimacy to the extraneous words around the hidden solution.

    I thought 10a was amusing and enjoyed 4d, 11d, 18d and 1a for some reason I can’t put my finger on.

  23. On behalf of the Clueless Club – crikey!

    No chance with many of these – pushing the rules too far for a novice.

    Many thanks BD – I still owe you a pint if you come up to sunny Cumbria!

    1. Much better chance of leaving the CC with the Toughie today. Nothing too obscure there, and very fair clueing.

  24. At first glance i thought this crossword looked strange, but as i got into it i actually enjoyed spending a lot more time than normal solving it.

  25. Both the cryptic & the quickie were very difficult IMHO but no less enjoyable for that. Some obscure references in both puzzles now stored in the encephalon for the future .

  26. I’m glad other folk found this one tricky to solve. It took me ages. Is this a new setter? I found it really hard to get on the same wavelength and, even when I thought I had got into the mindset, he/she threw me. Nevertheless a great puzzle, and one that certainly activated grey matter.

  27. Wow!What a mind bender!By the way,I have noticed that each UK paper has its own house style of setting cryptics.Is this deliberate on the part of editors?

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