DT 26670 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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DT 26670

Daily Telegraph Cryptic No 26670

Hints and tips by Big Dave

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BD Rating – Difficulty **Enjoyment ****

A very enjoyable puzzle from one of this week’s mystery setters (but I have a suspicion as to who it might be!). My only grumble is that 1 across may be a bit too difficult for some.

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 Refined sort accompanied by small number tucking into select meats? (10)
(GASTRONOME} – this all-in-one clue defines a lover of good food and wines – put an anagram (refined) of SORT and NO (small number) inside (tucking into) select meats from animals hunted for sport – that was a bit tough for a back-page puzzle!

6a Ill-natured support shown around college (4)
{ACID} – this adjective meaning ill-natured or sarcastic is created by putting some support or assistance around C(ollege)

9a Item that might be squeezed during unprofitable month (5)
{LEMON} – this fruit that can be squeezed in order to extract its juice is hidden inside the final two words of the clue

10a Not a regular local porter? (5,4)
{GUEST BEER} – a cryptic definition of an ale which is only on sale for a limited period (usually until the barrel runs out!)

12a Decoration is taken in by Latin knight in pointed monument (7)
{OBELISK} – start with an honour awarded by Her Majesty and follow it with IS, from the clue, inside L(atin) and K(night)

13a Season with no end of rain producing small growth (5)
{SPRIG} – take one of the four seasons and drop the N (with no end of raiN) to get a small growth

15a Trouble facing book in publication in which letters appear? (4,3)
{MAIL BAG} – put a verb meaning to trouble and B(ook) inside a shortened form of a publication to get something in which letters are carried – both Chambers and the ODE give the enumeration as (7)

17a Poles enthralled by quality in passage (7)
{TRANSIT} – put both of the poles inside a quality or attribute to get a passage

19a Service in principle free from outsiders all together (2,5)
{EN MASSE} – put a church service inside a principle from which the outside letters have been removed (free from outsiders) to get a word meaning all together

21a Nameless lot get on by the sound of it in London district (7)
{MAYFAIR} – drop the N(ame) from a lot of people then add what sounds like a word meaning to get on or progress to get an expensive London district

22a Plan to dispense with European house in state (5)
{IDAHO} – take a plan or thought, drop (dispense with) the E(uropean) and add HO(use) to get a US state

24a Not even good time touched figure (7)
{ODDBALL} – a charade of a word meaning not even and what you have to get a good time gives a touched or eccentric person

27a Key sale set in ground (9)
{ESSENTIAL} – this adjective meaning key or important is an anagram ()ground of SALE SET IN

28a Worthless sort skirting river and aquatic creature (5)
{OTTER} – take a worthless sort and drop (skirting / avoiding) the initial R(iver) to get an aquatic creature

29a Mood in school first to last (4)
{TONE} – to get this mood start with Crosswordland’s favourite school and then follow the instructions in the clue

30a Brew of tea truly in a grey state? (10)
{NEUTRALITY} – an anagram (brew) of TEA TRULY IN gives a grey or unbiased state


1d Sport found in front of hotel? (4)
{GOLF} – this sport precedes Hotel in the NATO phonetic alphabet

2d Conference providing a merry session for Greeks (9)
{SYMPOSIUM} – this conference originates from the Greek for together and drinking

3d Wash created partly by liner in sea (5)
{RINSE} – a word meaning to wash is hidden inside (created partly by) the final three words in the clue

4d Worrying criminal gang importing drink (7)
{NAGGING} – to get this verb meaning worrying put an anagram (criminal) of GANG around (importing) an alcoholic drink

5d Animal always close to desk occupying rug (7)
{MEERKAT} – this mongoose-like South African animal, which has been the subject of a recent television series, is constructed from the poetic word for always and the final letter of (close to) desK inside a rug

ARVE Error: need id and provider

7d Empty plain (5)
{CLEAR} – a double definition – to empty or remove and plain or evident

8d Insulting scoundrel detaining Queen, a right-winger (10)
{DEROGATORY} – this adjective meaning insulting is created by starting with a scoundrel (3), inserting (detaining) Elizabeth Regina (Queen) and then adding A, from the clue, and a right-wing politician

11d Group of workers glance over yard in foreign region (7)
{TUSCANY} – a charade of the abbreviation for a group of workers, a verb meaning to glance over and Y(ard) gives this region in Italy

14d Obstacle in road going north associated with part of old building (10)
{IMPEDIMENT} – this obstacle is derived by reversing (going north in a down clue) the motorway that goes North from London followed by a triangular structure crowning the front of a Greek building

16d Instrument shown by low singer in the nude? (7)
{BASSOON} – this large woodwind instrument comes from a low-voiced singer with O ON (nothing on / in the nude)

18d Composer prepared a short track list (9)
{SCARLATTI} – this Italian composer could be Alessandro, the father, Domenico, the son, or perhaps another member of the same family – he’s an anagram (prepared) of A TRAC(K) (short track) LIST

ARVE Error: need id and provider

20d Sensational grounds shown on the internet? (7)
{EMOTIVE} – an adjective meaning sensational comes from the grounds, perhaps for committing an offence, preceded by (on) the usual prefix for internet-related services

21d Foreign character beginning to discover what’s opposite to sharp estuary feature (7)
{MUDFLAT} – a charade of a Greek character, the initial letter of (beginning to) Discover and the opposite, in music to sharp gives a feature of a river estuary

23d Offence caused by minister ousting leader (5)
{ARSON} – this criminal offence is created by dropping the initial P (ousing leader) from a religious minister

25d Stink raised among team or associates (5)
{AROMA} – this stink or smell is hidden reversed (raised among) the final three words of the clue

26d Hear about a handy carrier (4)
{TRAY} – put a word meaning to hear in a court of law around A to get a handy object for carrying things

The Quick crossword pun: {meaty} + {Yorick} = {meteoric}

Someone managed to sneak in to take this picture of the Telegraph Puzzles development team at work on the improvements to the site:

70 comments on “DT 26670

  1. 5* enjoyment for me! Nothing too tricky, although I was puzzled over the last 3 letters of 16d.
    Thanks to setter for an excellent puzzle, and to BD for the notes.

  2. I threw a few answers in without getting all the wordplay (1a Included). I’ll check through them later. In the meantime thanks to the setter for a good fun workout and to BD for the hints.
    Do you think that there are enough monkeys there or do we need some more?

  3. Very enjoyable. Personally, I found 1A reasonably easy and was held up on the composer on 18D (had a name stuck in the brain which was not only spelled wrong, but was the wrong name anyway)(if that makes sense). Also, when I see the word ‘skirting’ (28A) I assume it means a word around another (as in the R being inside the answer) although I knew what the answer had to be, I couldn’t bring myself to put it in.

    Enjoyed 10A (very clever) and 1D, (just as clever).

    1. I agree – “skirting” is not a synonym for “avoiding”. I put the correct answer in, as it couldn’t be anything else, but it isn’t very satisfactory when you have to do so!

  4. I really enjoyed this challenge – it took me a fair time to complete but I got a great sense of satisfaction when it was done. Loved 1a, 10a, 13a to name a few. My only query is about 14d – I got the answer from the def plus checking letters, but even with the hint I don’t understand it. Any help? Thanks to Setter and BD.

    1. Think of a major motorway and turn it upside down, then think of a part of a building (particularly found on old stately homes) put them together to get an obstacle

      1. D’oh! Thank you that – for some reason I thought that the motorway referred to the 6th and 7th letters in the answer, so couldn’t make sense of the other letters around them. I can be alarmingly thick at times:)

  5. Have to say I found this far more difficult than a 2 Star, more a 4 Star for me. Guessed what 2d was but needed to resort to BD review for an explanation. Not my cup of tea today but I’m sure it will be enjoyed by many.
    Thanx Compiler and BD.

  6. I enjoyed this puzzle greatly. It took me quite a while but most satisfying as it came together. Fav clue 16d. Totally cheesed off with Clued up. I have a message that the site is to be upgraded today. Let’s hope and see…….otherwise I’ m out of there. Weather great in Northumberland so off for a bike ride. Thanks BD and mystery setter.

    1. Mike, I cancelled my Clued Up subs many moons ago, simply because I buy the paper anyway and wasn’t making use of the site. I’ve been reading all the comments here in recent months about the problems you are all having and I really think it’s appalling, particularly as you pay for the privilege. I really feel for all the subscribers who can’t get the paper so rely on Clued Up to get their daily fix. I’ve never come across a website, free or otherwise, which so consistently fails to deliver. It can’t simply be down to a lightning strike?

      1. The problems have been evident for a long time, but have been ignored until they became critical. As I’ve said before, that’s what happens when you have a computer system designed by professional design consultants who lack commonsense IT skills.

        1. The picture of the DT development team at work must surely be wrong as if it was a bunch of chimpanzees doing the repairs then it would have been fixed back in July! What a bunch of numpties!

          1. I’m reminded of the Theory of Accidental Excellence. Something along the lines of, “If an infinite number of monkeys are given an infinite number of keyboards to bash, eventually one of them will reproduce the complete works of Shakespeare.”

            It could be some time:)

            1. There was an article about that in the paper the other day – apparently the monkeys have achieved the words (but not necessarily the complete works) of Shakespeare. I can’t remember exactly how much and the recycling was collected this morning so I can’t go and rummage and check.

      2. I have been trying to get on the site since 12.00 European time and still can’t make it. I don’t think they care

        1. Me too. It’s especially galling when everybody is saying what a great puzzle it is and we ‘foreigners’ can’t even get it.

    2. After several written complaints I have finally had two month refund. Why are they not doing that for all subscribers without us having to hound them individually. Finally got on just before one but it still won’t save or submit.

  7. Superb puzzle today. Really enjoyed it although it was certainly on the tough side for a back page IMO. Like Skempie, I had reservations about the wording of the 28a clue. Last in for me were 18d and 30a. Too many good clues to mention. For 1d the answer was obvious but there was much chin stroking before realising why. Thanks to Mystery Setter and to BD.

      1. From Chambers Thesaurus:

        1 circle, move/go round, border, edge, flank
        formal circumnavigate

        2 avoid, evade, bypass, find a way round
        formal circumvent

        The setter has chosen to use the latter option, but all of the above comments are taking it as the former.

  8. Oh dear!! This was much more of a 4* for difficulty for me. I have made SUCH a b***s up of the whole thing! :sad:
    I finally finished it but put in several answers without understanding why so have used loads of hints for explanations today. First fatal error was confidently putting in “dour” for 6a. The logic, such as it was, was “rod” for the support bit, reversed (around) and “U” for college ie university. That effectively screwed up the top right hand corner until I realised what I had done. Lots of the others took me a very long time. I liked 10, 21 and 24a and 1, 11 and 18d. I thought 16d was best of all. With thanks to the setter and Big Dave for the very much needed explanations. NOT my finest day!

    1. I found it hard too. I only got about two thirds done before resorting to the hints. Some complicated clues, I thought. Sometimes I was on the right track but just couldn’t see the answer. I can’t even type properly today, having taken a chunk off my finger end with a pair of scissors. Maybe I should just have a lie down!

  9. I agree with Kath, this is a tough one for me today, I left it on half to go and read my book, strangely enough though I did get 1a :-), will get back to the crossword later, got to make the most of the sunshine, fav clue so far 1d

  10. Help! I can’t even get on the Clued Up site, never mind print the puzzle. Could somebody please send me a link?

  11. I would say 2.5/3* difficulty for me, but very enjoyable so thank you to the Thursday Mysteron. Thanks to BD for the review too – I didn’t have any trouble with 1a, but haven’t got a favourite amongst the rest.

    In between doing what I am paid for, I have spent the rest of the morning alternately fighting with the Elkamere Toughie and the Paul in the Guardian. Anyone up for a challenge should try both of them. Just going to eat my lunch and read the paper and then go and find a spot in the sun for the remainder of my lunch hour.

  12. Superb crossword which Ithoroughly enjoyed, particularly 1a and 16d. Many thanks to the setter and to Big Dave for the review.

  13. I have never (okay, not that I remember!) come across ‘oon’ for ‘in the nude’. What do people think of this?

    Usual thanks to compiler and reviewer.

      1. Sue, you misunderstand me – I can follow the clue, I’ve just not come across it (the ‘in the nude’ bit, that is) before, so I was wondering if others had.

    1. freda – ‘oon’ for ‘in the nude’ – I’ve never seen it before either (or maybe, I, too, have forgotten). Took me a long time to comprehend, but once I understood – a little chuckle :smile: An excellent clue as the answer was so obvious, but very difficult to explain!

  14. I have barely been able to make a start today, toughest ** ever!

    I am going to give in and look at the answers and hopefully groan at my stupidity!

    1. I had to do the same, after solving only about 5 clues – so you are not alone! And I’m not sure you will “groan at your stupidity” because I had to read the answers in conjunction with the hints several times and found I was groaning at the convoluted mind of the setter! Too tangled for me, I’m afraid – and never having ever heard of 10a didn’t help! Thanks to BD or I would still be staring at a pretty blank puzzle.

    2. I found this really troublesome too and am also grateful for these fab hints. Hoping I’ll do better tomorrow.

  15. Well having rattled yesterday’s off in ** mins or so I was feeling confident about today’s.

    After one whole hour I have managed just 9 answers.

    Which do you think is best stimulation for tackling these puzzles? I’d had 6 espressi (NB correct plural please) yesterday and this PM it is a pint of Black Sheep. Stephen Fry’s approach is not one I have, or intend to, try. Comments and encouragement welcome.

    PS – is there a clue for which a picture of Uma Thurman can be appended? Just a thought.

  16. This was a tricky solve for many of the reasons mentioned above and the generally less obvious synonyms. I have noticed that when BD blogs a more challenging puzzle he tends to ramp up the enjoyment but not the difficulty. This could be dispiriting for less experienced solvers who visit this excellent site.

    Thanks to BD and Shamus.

  17. !5a -time to trot out my favourite crossword gag:
    Clue: “Another name for a postman’s round?”….” How many letters?”….”Bloody ‘undreds!”

    1. Groan! Thanks for giving me something to smile about after doing battle with what I found to be a very tricky puzzle.

  18. I tend to agree with most people that this was difficult today, I had to have your help Dave for at least 4 answers, never mind the sunshine has more than made up for it and we can all look forward to Giovanni tomorrow :-)

  19. Quite difficult today but very entertaining. (5d – Simples!)

    I suspected who the setter might be as today’s Quickie is a pangram.

    Thanks to Shamus & BD!

  20. For what it is worth, I thought that this Xword was very difficult, but then I am probably stupid

  21. Thanks to Shamus for an excellent, if challenging, back-pager. Pommette thought it a recycled Toughie! I’d certainly have given an extra star for difficulty but it was one of those puzzles that I struggled with, but looking at the answers later, I wonder why it was difficult! All very fair clues but just a little different from normal – smacked a bit of a Toughie to me as well.
    Thanks for the review BD but you’ll see what Gazza meant yesterday in his masterclass on assigning difficulty – I’ve certainly fell foul of that!

    1. I’ve said it many times, you can only assess how difficult it is for you, and anyway the rating is only intended as a guide. In the past I have added an extra star because I thought that others might struggle and been told it was easier than my rating. As it happens, I would have rated today’s Toughie at two stars difficulty as well – perhaps because I was tuned in to Elkamere/Anax’s wavelength.

      1. THE RH side of today’s Toughie was 2* for me but for some reason I then got a mental block which made the LH side 4* difficulty.

      2. Agreed! I usually assign stars based on my solving time but yesterday I lost my bottle and didn’t give 1* which my time indicated! Won’t do that again, but probably won’t get another 1* puzzle for ages! I’m struggling with the Elkamere as I can’t get into the site but gnomey’s come to the rescue!

  22. I thought it was only 1* for difficulty and can’t understand all the bleating today……only kidding but it was satisfying to finish it. Thanks.

  23. I found this v difficult today and jut couldn’t get into the zone. Perhaps more suitable for a Toughie. Just couldn’t see 1 a.. I stated with U for refined sort, then thought upper and had to resort to the blog.

  24. Thank you Big Dave.I found this one more difficult than usual.
    Although I eventually got there, I had to resort to this site for explanations of the wordplay in several answers. Maybe I’m not tuned in to this setter’s way of thinking. Favourite clues were 10a and 16d.

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