DT 26553 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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DT 26553

Daily Telegraph Cryptic No 26553

Hints and tips by Libellule

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BD Rating – Difficulty ** Enjoyment ***

A little trickier than normal? How many of you waited for checking letters to be sure of some of the answers? Otherwise it’s the usual stuff from the Monday Maestro.

To reveal the answer highlight the space between the curly brackets.


1. Look at and study working pattern (11)
{CONTEMPLATE} – A standard crossword term that means to study or examine carefully plus another word for a model or standard used for making comparisons when put together create a word that means to look at attentively and thoughtfully.

9. Kept quiet and withdrawn (9)
{PRESERVED} – P (quiet) and then a word that describes being restrained or reticent produces another word that means kept or protected.

10. Clean up in the lottery (5)
{SWEEP} – To clear up using a brush is also another term (shortened) for a lottery.

11. Simulated tears shed by Zulu leader (6)
{ERSATZ} – An anagram (shed) of TEARS and the first letter (leader) of Zulu is a word that typically describes an inferior imitation.

12. Back one aiming to retain his title (8)
{DEFENDER} – The sort of football player that might be described as a “back”, is also someone who competes against a challenger in an attempt to retain a championship for example.

13. Move fast after take-off (6)
{STREAK} – What you might do in a public place if you undressed. Cue pictures of Erika Roe.

15. The case of the blackleg poet (8)
{SCABBARD} – A person who works while others are on strike, and another term for a poet (an epithet usually associated with Shakespeare) is also a sheath for a dagger or sword.

18. Supported when given a temporary transfer (8)
{SECONDED} – Double definition, to endorse something e.g. a motion or nomination, and to temporarily transfer an employee to another branch etc.

19. Conclude it’s how to treat the present (4,2)
{WRAP UP} – Another double definition, to bring to a conclusion, and to enfold something with paper for example.

21. Quick diet a man ordered (8)
{ANIMATED} – An anagram (ordered) of DIET A MAN is a word that means being alive.

23. Scatter shot around in season (6)
{PEPPER} – Double definition, a word meaning to shower with missiles is also a condiment.

26. Negotiate withdrawal from Jobcentre attendance (5)
{TREAT} – A word that can mean to engage in negotiations can be found hidden between Jobcentre and attendance.

27. I’m ready with socially acceptable ad-lib (9)
{IMPROMPTU} – IM, then a word that means ready to respond, and a single letter that means “of the upper class” is a word that means unrehearsed or spontaneous.

28. Seen in the garden bed, a single flower (11)
{COTONEASTER} – A shrub that has richly coloured autumn foliage and many small white to pinkish flowers is constructed from a three letter word for a narrow bed, a synonym for single, and finally the genus to which michaelmas daisies belong.


1. They nick money (7)
{COPPERS} – Double definition, policemen and small change.

2. Observed to rise, without many shortcomings (5)
{NEEDS} – Reverse (rise, it’s a down clue) the past tense of to perceive visually around the Roman Numeral for five hundred (many) to get the sort of things that are required.

3. Monitors public transport complaint (9)
{EYESTRAIN} – A word that means to look at carefully, is followed by the sort of public transport that consists of coaches and a locomotive for a word that describes tiredness of vision.

4. Decorate with flags? (4)
{PAVE} – These sort of flags might be made out of concrete.

5. People at play (8)
{AUDIENCE} – People who might be listening to a theatrical performance.

6. Follow directions and prosecute (5)
{ENSUE} – East, North (directions) and a word for initiating court proceedings is also a word that means to take place subsequently.

7. Hoped to rise from despair (7)
{ASPIRED} – An anagram (to rise) of DESPAIR.

8. Light equipment for miner and motorist (8)
{HEADLAMP} – The sort of light a miner might wear on his helmet is also found on the front of a car.

14. Came back after being fired (8)
{RECOILED} – What happens to gun immediately after it has been fired?

16. A lone crab scuttles round by the sea in Spain (9)
{BARCELONA} – An anagram (scuttles round) of A LONE CRAB is also the capital of Catalonia.

17. Monk who founded a monastery order at foot of Scottish mountain (8)
{BENEDICT} – A Gaelic term for a mountain, and then a term for a formal pronouncement or command produces the name of an Italian monk who founded a monastic order.

18. Simple type but he shows skill in bridge (7)
{SPARTAN} – Put ART (skill) into another word for a section of a bridge for a sort of person who leads a frugal, or austere life.

20. It is just one after another (7)
{PURSUER} – Somone who is chasing after someone with the intention of overtaking or catching them.

22. It can turn into quite a lark (5)
{ANTIC} – An anagram (turn into) of IT CAN.

24. Estella’s admirer was given it — the bird (5)
{PIPIT} – Take a character from Great Expectations and then add IT for a small songbird.

25. Odds on batting side (4)
{SPIN} – The abbreviation for Starting Price (odds) is followed by a word that describes a cricket team that is batting to give another word for something that is rotating rapidly. The reference to “side” is an effect seen in snooker for example, and is created by hitting a ball by striking it off-centre with the cue.

The Quick crossword pun: {slight} + {offend} = {sleight of hand}

54 comments on “DT 26553

  1. I certainly found this harder than normal and was flummoxed on the shrub for a long time – always my downfall.
    13a was favourite . Thanks to Rufus and to Libellule.

  2. Yes, a little longer than a normal Monday. All fairly straightforward though, but I had to look up the answer to 28a. I wasn’t sure about 20d, I know strictly speaking “it is just one……” is correct, but thought that “he is just one……” would have been better. Favourite clue was probably 15a. Many thanks to setter and to Libellule for the hints.

  3. I didn’t really take to this puzzle. It worked out reasonably well but lacked a bit of sparkle. One or two nice clues….. liked 13 & 15a. The quickie was like 4 separate small puzzles but straightforward thank goodness on a Monday morning. Thanks setter and Libellule.

    1. And the quickie clues were all one word, normally what we see from a Thursday setter.

  4. Just found this super Blog, just what I need when as often happens I am stumped by the clever setters of the DT. Thought todays was a bit trickier than normal for a Monday but loved 12a.

  5. Nice start to the week.
    28a all I had to do was look out of the window and there it was covered in little white flowers.
    Thanks to Libellule and Rufus

  6. Must admit, I was a little stumped by 28A, but wasn’t too difficult once I got my Boys Book Of British Plants out (and found it wasn’t in there so used the interwebby thing). Particularly liked 11A, 18A, 8D, 17D and 18D but favourite was 4D.

    Not sure if I’ll be posting for the rest of this week – have my neice from New Zealand visiting then I’m getting married on Saturday. Here’s hoping for fair weather.

    1. I add my best wishes for your niece’s visit and your wedding. May the sun shine brightly for you. :-)

    2. More dittos from Pommers & Pommette. Have a great day and don’t drink too much champagne!

  7. I thought it was a bit more difficult than usual for a Monday but have now finished it without needing the hints. Didn’t help myself by putting ‘scoop’ to begin with for 10a but that was sorted out quite quickly when I did the down clues and got 8d. For some reason that I now can’t understand I had trouble with 13 and 18a and 14d – just stared at those last three for longer than the rest of the puzzle had taken. How silly!! My favourites for today include 13, 19 and 28a (even though they are one of the very few plants that I really don’t like) and 1, 5 and 16d. Thanks to Rufus and Libellule.

  8. Rufus definitely had his tricky hat on when he compiled this one. We too have 28a in the garden so that was no problem. Thanks to Rufus and Libellule.

    1. Don’t know about tricky hat – but whatever he had for breakfast, can I have some please?

  9. Didn’t have much trouble with this one but took ages to “suss” 13a ! So obvious once the penny drops. I liked 15 and 19a, 5 and 17d. Many thanks to setter, some really nice clues, and to Libellule for clear hints which today I did not need but read anyway–14a I had ricochet in mind but it wouldn’t fit so finally came up with the correct answer

  10. Usual gentle start to the week from Rufus if slightly more difficult than normal. Loved 13a and 17d. Thanks Rufus and Libellule fro the review.

  11. My mind was not on this today — too many late nights, I suppose. But I couldn’t get into it and needed the hints to get anywhere. Maybe tomorrow will be better. Thanks, anyway to Rufus, whose wavelength I’m usually on, and to Libellule, without whom …

  12. Was horrified when I saw the ** rating for difficulty as was having a lot of trouble,, so relieved to find that most thought it trickier than usual. Needed hints to finish, but not actual answers, so that made me feel a bit better. Have a tricky meeting later to-day so maybe my mind was on that instead – will have to see how I fare tomorrow with meeting over. Rufus was having a bit of a “P” day, wasn’t he?? But thanks for the fun and to Libellule for the hints, without whom…. (to ditto Franny)

  13. Hi. Really struggling to understand 20d. Particularly the use of the word just. If it’s just a straight cryptic clue then aren’t the first three words redundant? I read it as a double definition at first and still struggle to make sense of the clue even though I know the answer…

    1. Zak,
      I read it as a cryptic defintion, where you are made to think of something occurring consecutively, rather than someone chasing after somone else…
      My 2c

      1. In Scots law, a pursuer is a person taking legal action against another (a plaintiff in some jurisdictions).

        The reference to “just” might hint at a legalese angle.

        1. I did consider the “just” reference and wondered about bounty hunters…

    2. I think Rufus may be using ‘It is Just’ to cryptically define that fact that the definition isn’t really cryptic – i.e merely one person who is ‘after’ another!

      1. People sometimes suggest that Rufus’ clues are not cryptic, but sometimes you only see the non-cryptic reading and miss the intended surface. I like that idea of a double-bluff, but I don’t buy it.

        I suspect that Libellule got it right. “It’s just one thing after another” is a relatively common phrase, and I think that that was meant to be the surface reading.

        We may never know, though…

        1. Hi Qix
          That last one was from me on pommette’s PC and I forgot to change the name, as usual!
          You’re probably right and I was trying to read too much into it!

          I personally have never accused Rufus of not being cryptic! I think his puzzles are great and the trademark of perfect surface readings really works for me (and pommette as you may have read). They may not be the trickiest of the DT puzzles but are always satisfying to solve and enjoayble. His Mondays in the Grauniad (sadly missing today) are often a bit up the scale but just as well crafted.

  14. Set off at a gallop in the NE corner, such that I thought I might even break my personal best (except I don’t time myself). Then stumbled around in the SW, before getting home in about par. Perhaps not the usual mischievous grin from Rufus today, more a quiet smirk, but thanks to him & M. Libellule.

  15. A little more to think about than normal for a Monday.
    Favourite clue – 16d.
    Thanks to Rufus, and to Libellule.

  16. Well – What a mess we made of this one. If our solving time was anything to go by we would rate it 6*

    The reason? Got loads on first pass – but were having serious problems after that as we had several wrong!
    Including 12a = CHAMPION (which I prefer), 13a = FLYING (which works just as well although the correct answer is far more amusing) and 4d = DECK (you deck a boat with flags – we’re sailors . . .). Pommers was also convinced 27a was IMPROVISE and spent ages trying to justify the wordplay before the penny dropped with a clanging sound probably heard in Madrid.

    Once we sorted the errors out it was plain sailing without recourse to your excellent tips Libellue. D’oh – stupid or what? Must have been thinking to much about the forthcoming bridge game. Thanks Rufus too although I was knocking on the door of the CC to get back in.

  17. I’ve been reading a few old blogs – looking for something I mentioned a while back. Can’t find it – hey ho.
    But I did find a comment by Franny that said “I’m beating on the CC door to be let back in!”
    How apt for me too. Since I completet a couple of Rufuses (or is it Rufi ?) several months back I have not done it again. Often only 1 defeats me – but defeat me they do (take today for example!). And when it come to Jay, RayT and Giovanni I’m still waiting to complete one on my own.
    So – what I’m trying say I WANT TO FORM A NEW CLUB where I have some friends!
    How about NQCC (Not Quite Clueless Club)? Kath says she’ll join me. Anyone else want to as well?

    1. Still with you, Pommette! Have got quite close to escaping a few times but, actually, it’s really quite comfy in there – anyway, wouldn’t they miss us!! :grin:

  18. my usual Monday struggle! Always the same, stick all but 3 or 4 clues in without breaking sweat and then struggle desperately for the rest. Lots of ‘pure cryptic’ clues that you either get or you don’t, and can’t ‘work out’. Not a criticism of the setter, i just regularly struggle more with Monday’s than any other day.

    On this one, I too didn’t like the ‘just’ in 20d.. and don’t like d for many in 2d either.

    thanks to rufus and Libellule.

  19. SE corner stumped me; I have never heard of 28a, missed 23a (DOH!), 20d and 24d. Otherwise okay.

      1. Hi Kath
        I’m not a gardener either but I did have a running battle, over many years, with one of these that seemed to want to stop me getting the car up the drive!

  20. I struggled with 9a for ever, for no particular reason.

    Enjoted it- I had to work a bit.

  21. I liked this a lot, with 13a being a gem (I thought it was “spring” until the penny dropped with a big smile). Although an easy clue, I liked the surface reading in 16d very much. And like Pommers and Pommette, I was convinced 27a was improvise, but I never put it in, so saved myself a lot of trouble!

    Interesting debate on 20d – I thought the clue was perhaps trying to suggest the expression of frustration – “it’s just one thing after another” – as a nice piece of double/triple misdirection? Anyway, I liked it and it was last one in.

    Thanks to Rufus for a pleasant tease and Libellule for the nice review.

  22. A nice crossword. If I’d known the plant, I’d have said it was quite easy, but I’d never heard of a 28a. I hadn’t read Great Expectations either, which meant that the bottom right corner was the last in by a long long way.

    Favourite clue: 12a
    Big groan: 4d
    Next best: 15a

    Thanks to Rufus and Libellule.



  23. Apart from the cock-ups posted by pommette earlier I enjoyed this one. Trickier than usual I agree but none the worse for that!
    Solved over lunch in the bar before bridge started and it must have warmed the brain up as we won!! Not bad after being bottom last week – how does that work?

  24. Trickier yes. I really wanted 18d to be spanner…it’s one of my favourite derogatory words! Thanks again.

    1. With reference to Pommers’ comment above, a spanner might be someone who places last at bridge??

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