DT 26647 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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DT 26647

Daily Telegraph Cryptic No 26647

Hints and tips by Gazza

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

Giovanni follows his excellent Toughie yesterday with a less tough but still very enjoyable back-page puzzle. How did you fare? Leave us a comment!
If, as a last resort, you want to see an answer, highlight the space between the brackets beneath the troublesome clue.

Across Clues

1a  It’s a sort of bird, we affirm (6)
{WEAVER} – a small finch-like bird is a charade of WE (in the clue) and a verb meaning to affirm or assert.

5a  A community that’s prosperous but not quiet? (4,4)
{BOOM TOWN} – cryptic definition of an urban area experiencing a period of prosperity that sounds very loud.

9a  Yokelish drama excited visitors to the seaside pier? (13)
{HOLIDAYMAKERS} – these visitors are an anagram (excited) of YOKELISH DRAMA. The question mark indicates that the pier is just an example of where they may visit.

10a  Hurried to far end of valley to grab one plant (8)
{VALERIAN} – a plant bearing clusters of small pink or white flowers is constructed by putting a verb meaning hurried after (to far end of) a valley, then inserting (to grab) I (one).

11a  Decree from old duke stuck in wet weather (6)
{ORDAIN} – a verb meaning to decree or dictate is formed from O(ld) followed by wet weather with D(uke) stuck inside.

12a  Smear from self-satisfied English about Germany (6)
{SMUDGE} – an adjective meaning self-satisfied is followed by E(nglish) and this contains (about) the International Vehicle Registration code for Deutschland.

14a  Obscure group of women beginning to laugh coming in drunk (8)
{TWILIGHT} – the answer can be a noun but here it’s an adjective, describing the obscure period between day and night. Put the abbreviation for a women’s group and the first letter (beginning) of L(augh) inside an informal synonym for drunk.

16a  After drink, sat and hypothesised (8)
{SUPPOSED} – a past tense meaning hypothesised comes from a small mouthful of drink followed by a synonym for sat (for an artist or photographer).

19a  Single maiden with name for being poker-faced (6)
{SOLEMN} – string together another word for single, M(aiden) as used in cricket and N(ame).

21a  To blame for running late (6)
{BEHIND} – double definition, the first meaning being to blame for or responsible for.

23a  Lacking order by reason of getting left in muddle (8)
{FORMLESS} – the definition here is lacking order. Start with a preposition meaning by reason of or because of, then add a muddle with L(eft) inside.

25a  Opposition group kept slightly in the dark? (6,7)
{SHADOW CABINET} – humorous cryptic definition of the opposition group currently chaired by Miliband Minor.

26a  Run away from ordeal most quickly (8)
{FLEETEST} – a charade of to run away from and an ordeal or trial.

27a  Excuse offered by old lover meaningless almost (6)
{EXEMPT} – this is a verb meaning to excuse or let off. Start with the short word for a former lover and add an adjective meaning meaningless (used, for example, to describe a promise lacking substance) without its final Y (almost).

Down Clues

2d  I’m happier somehow, having abandoned pious biblical tribe (7)
{EPHRAIM} – this is one of the tribes of Israel, named after a son of Joseph. It’s an anagram (somehow) of I’M HAP(pi)ER having removed the abbreviation of pious.

3d  Appreciate having very small drink outside university (5)
{VALUE} – a verb meaning to appreciate has an abbreviated (small) V(ery) and an alcoholic drink around U(niversity).

4d  Glow of fantastic sunrise seen across two days (9)
{RUDDINESS} – this healthy glow is an anagram (fantastic) of SUNRISE containing (across) a double D(ay).

5d  Blade makes opening initially in reddish-brown material (7)
{BAYONET} – a blade (“They don’t like it up ‘em” as Corporal Jones was wont to say) is made by putting the initial letter of O(pening) between a reddish-brown colour (used to describe a horse) and a material traditionally used for curtains in suburbia.

6d  Part of New Zealand’s collection of books in the past (5)
{OTAGO} – this is a region at the Antarctic end of New Zealand (where England will play their first two matches in the forthcoming Rugby World Cup). Put together the abbreviation for the first chunk of the Bible (collection of books) and an adverb meaning in the past.

7d  Time to study philosopher? It’s routine drudgery (9)
{TREADMILL} – a word used to describe the non-stop daily grind (routine drudgery) is made from T(ime), a verb meaning to study and the surname of a nineteenth century English philosopher.

8d  Spiteful desire to squash snake (7)
{WASPISH} – put a desire round (to squash) a small viper to make an adjective meaning spiteful.

13d  Copy political party with untruth about woman being nasty? (9)
{DUPLICATE} – the definition here is copy. Start with the abbreviation of the Northern Ireland political party founded by Ian Paisley and add an untruth containing (about) a metaphor for a spiteful or malicious woman.

15d  All right for getting covered, wearing fur around old city (9)
{INSURABLE} – all right for getting covered means that you are unlikely to be turned down when seeking financial protection for unexpected events. Put a phrase (2,5) meaning wearing dark-brown fur around the usual old Biblical city.

17d  Implement let us in after manipulation (7)
{UTENSIL} – an anagram (after manipulation) of LET US IN.

18d  Expert concealing old company’s shortfall (7)
{DEFICIT} – the definition is shortfall. Put an adjective meaning expert or skilful around (concealing) the abbreviation for a British chemical company which was once the epitome of British manufacturing but which declined and was taken over by a Dutch concern in 2008.

20d  Maiden has upset cat? A blunder (7)
{MISSTEP} – the method of address for a maiden is followed by a reversal (upset, in a down clue) of something that a domestic cat is an example of. The whole thing is a (mainly North American) term for a blunder.

22d  Lazy type finished outside front of restaurant (5)
{DRONE} – put a synonym of finished around the first letter (front) of R(estaurant) to make a lazy person.

24d  Weapon, something for sale put out by knight (5)
{LANCE} – start with the name of the most famous of the legendary King Arthur’s knights (who blotted his escutcheon by dallying with Queen Guinevere) and remove (put out) an item for sale at an auction to leave a weapon that the knight himself would certainly have used (if he’d actually existed, of course).

I liked 14a, 23a and 24d but my favourite clue today was 25a. Let us know what you liked in a comment.

Today’s Quickie Pun: {MANNA} + {FACTION} = {MAN OF ACTION}

64 comments on “DT 26647

  1. Very tricksy today. One of those puzzles you have to get your head down and just persevere. There were a couple of times I thought I was stuck, but with a few lucky guesses, managed to get it done – must be the hardest of the week. Thoroughly enjoyed 19A once I’d figured it out (although I must admit, I worked out what the answer was before I worked out WHY the answer was). Thanks to Giovanni and Gazza although I can’t say I enjoyed the photo for 25A – something about them looks as if they’re staring at my throat and grinning.

    1. I agree 25a very scary picture!
      I often get an answer and then try to reason why, take 23a today I still don’t understand it!!
      I thought it very difficult today but then some people seem to like them the harder the better – but not me!

      1. 23a is FOR (by reason of) next to (by) L(eft) inside MESS (muddle) with the definition being “lacking order”.

  2. Morning Gazza, pretty tough today for me, at least a 3 star if not more, perservation the name of the game once again, I didn’t understand 24a until I read your explaination and for me this doesn’t read correctly, I do see what you say but it is all back to front as far as I am concerned? not my favourite Giovanni today

    1. Love the comment about the retriever although I suspect he (or she, but looks more like a he to me) is a Labrador!!

  3. I thought this was quite tricky too – probably a bit nearer to 4* for me. I didn’t know the biblical tribe in 2d but could see what it was an anagram of so guessed and looked it up – not in Chambers but it was in the other dictionary that I use all the time. Spent a long time trying to fit a ‘Y’ into 10a (far end of valleY) but that was never going to work and got there in the end. I’ve never heard of the first definition in 21a. Once saw the answer to 25a with the clue “Delighted MP’s”. Liked 14, 19, 25 and 27a and 8 and 24d. Thanks to Giovanni and Gazza.

    1. Kath,

      I’m sure you’ve heard of behind meaning “to blame for” as in “Guy Fawkes was behind the Gunpowder Plot”.

  4. This was about averagely tricky for me for a Giovanni – he always takes me a smidge longer to sort out. Lots to like in there, thank you Giovanni, including 14a and 25a. Thanks to Gazza too. Unless your picture for 24d which I can’t open is one, you have obviously missed out on your scantily clad lady quota today.

    Today’s Toughie is a great fun offering from Elgar who has returned to Vlad the Impaler mode. There are some good clues to get you started, so why not give it a go. You will, like me, need Gnome’s Law to finish it off :)

  5. I found bits of this tricky, but as always with Giovanni, fairly clued. A couple in the bottom right held me up for a while.
    Thanks to Giovanni, and to Gazza for the review.

  6. How stupid was I not seeing the ‘very small’ in 3d as ‘v’ just taking ‘v’ for ‘very’ and small drink as ‘ale’ figuring it was small because it was only 3 letters! Dunce!

  7. Very good stuff today with some clever clues and nothing to complain about.

    Thanks to Giovanni and to Gazza for the blog.

  8. As always a brilliant puzzle from Giovanni, I wish he would do Thursday’s as well.
    Best clue for me was 25a. Thx to Gazza for explaining a couple of answers.

  9. To use a cricketing analogy (much-loved by our ladies, no doubt) I found today’s puzzle a bit Military Medium. Somewhat lacking in pace, variety, bounce or swing. I usually enjoy the Don’s work immensely, but this one didn’t quite cut it for me. Thanks to him and Gazza. Dare I tackle some Elgar?

    1. Digby,
      I don’t think the ladies have too much to complain about in regard to cricket in the Telegraph puzzles. One of the answers in a Guardian puzzle the other day was “Duckworth Lewis”. :D

      1. “Duckworth Lewis” method – could you, please, explain how it works? Though I doubt that Messrs D & L could provide an answer!

        What was the clue in the Guardian?

    2. Oh, and Digby, tackle the Elgar – in amongst the impossible there are some very fun clues.

      1. Digby, don’t go anywhere near Today’s Elgar! Even more complicated than the “Duckworth Lewis” method.

        1. Digby, today’s Elgar is very similar to going in to bat when Shane Warne is bowling from one end, and Glenn McGrath from the other end! Not much joy!

  10. Finished. Thanks for the hints Gazza, I really needed them. I thought that 20d was a bit clumsy

  11. Many thanks to Giovanni for an excellent crossword – a tad trickier than some but not by much.

  12. Meh, didn’t like this one – more of a chore, than a slice of enjoyment.
    5a and 25a (my first one in) were quite fun, but a lot of clues hit on some of my weak areas – specific birds, flowers, geographical areas – not my strong suit.
    And 14a and 15d pretty much embodied a level of over-obscurity and ‘smart-ass-ness’ that I think *should not* be in a backpage puzzle clue.
    IMHO, of course…thanks to Gazza for explaining the clues! Really appreciated it today… :)

    1. Tim,
      Your comment made me take another look at 14a and 15d. I can’t understand what you mean by over-obscurity – could you explain how you think they’re over-obscure?

      1. HI Gazza,

        Well, to take 14a for example, I’d never heard of ‘obscure’ as meaning the same as ‘twilight’, which perhaps wouldn’t have bothered me so much had the choice of synonyms not been obscure as well. Never in my life have I heard ‘tight’ used to mean ‘drunk’. So, I found 2 in 1 clue a bit much – just struck me as a bit OTT.

        Hope that makes sense,


        1. TimCypher, ‘tight’ = ‘drunk’ – this is quite common in this part of the world! I always thought that it was universal (in the UK).

          1. Yes, I believe you – I’ll chalk it down to experience, and will try and remember that in future…:)

  13. Has anyone ordered “The Chambers Dictionary 12th Edition [Hardcover] ” via Amazon?

    Have you received it yet?

  14. Lovely weather today so hard at work in the garden. Enjoyed this offering but found it tougher than usual. Did not like 14A, very obscure IMHO, even the hints leave it obscure for me!
    Thanks to setter and Gazza for the hints, I just do not see how obscure becomes twilight without a very good thesaurus.

    1. In addition to all the light-related definitions of twilight, Chambers also lists “obscure, indefinite, partial and transitional’ as possible meanings of the word.

    2. Thanks Pete – good to see it wasn’t just lil’ ol’ me who had problems with that clue…:)

  15. Not a good start to the weekend for us! Really quite tricky after a hard day’s Friday – but no complaints – a good set of clues. Had to cheat drastically in the across clues, but then did all the downs OK.
    Pleased to see others found it hard as well, and curious to know where TimCypher has spent his early years if he hadn’t heard of “tight” for “piddled up”.

    1. Haha, Lyonness, I’m still in my early years thank-you very much! ;)
      And I’ve heard an awful lot of ways of saying ‘drunk’, but never that…
      If you describe someone as ‘tight’, it’s understood as ‘tight-fisted’ or ‘stingy’, but not drunk…I’ve never, ever heard the word used in that context.
      Meh, maybe it’s a generational or a regional thing, but, either way, it made the Friday offering somewhat inpenetrable for the likes of me. :(

  16. Next time I do a blog (Weds after next) I think I’m going to avoid a difficulty rating! After struggling big-time yesterday with RayT when many said it was easy I found today’s about the easiest puzzle for weeks! pommette and I did it this evening over a pre-prandial and I didn’t even finish my glass of wine before the crossword – how does that work then? I’d give it 1* but about 3 or 4 for enjoyment (easy doesn’t mean boring). It really is a personal matter and sometimes you get it and sometimes you don’t – today I/we did!
    Many thanks to Giovanni for a very enjoyable romp and to Gazza for a great review – entertaining as usual apart from the rather alarming 25a picture!

    1. Heh, I always enjoy reading the comments here. Today’s Giovanni I found really tough going, and a little annoying – a different world to Ray T’s superlative offering yesterday.
      I suppose it’s all down to individual perceptions, but I know what I preferred… ;)

      1. There we are then, I found the Ray T absolutely awful totally impenetrable which I couldn’t even start but today’s Giovanni quite straightforward. One mans metal etc!

  17. Thanks to the two G’s, I really enjoyed this one. Initially I couldn’t get anything, but then it fell into place, leaving me with half a dozen isolated clues, which I eventually whittled down to 10a, which I had to look up. Favourites were 5 & 25a.

    1. Thanks, Meg.
      Like most labradors his top three priorities in life are food, food and food. He disgraced himself the other day when we were on the beach. An elderly couple were sitting on the sand having a picnic and the lady rather foolishly put down her half-eaten sandwich when we were walking past about 20 yards away. He took this as an invitation and, before it could be rescinded, had nipped in and scoffed it. I apologised, of course, but they took it very well and actually gave him the crusty end of a bit of quiche for “afters”.

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