DT 26686

Daily Telegraph Cryptic No 26686

Hints and tips by Gazza

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BD Rating – Difficulty **Enjoyment ***

We have a not too strenuous workout today from one of our unknown setters. Let us know how you got on in a comment.
The answers are present, but hidden between the curly brackets under the clues. Just highlight the space between the brackets to reveal one.
Congratulations to Tilsit and his team on last night’s excellent performance. Can they go all the way?

Across Clues

8a  Eccentric taking day off for river feature (4)
{WEIR} – take off the final D(ay) from an adjective meaning eccentric or strange to leave a river feature.

9a  Reportedly, make outlet for tea? (3)
{URN} – a large container, with a tap, for delivering tea to a group of people sounds like (reportedly) a verb to make money.

10a  Prize in harbour recalled happily after vacation (6)
{TROPHY} – “after vacation” here means after having been vacated or left empty, so we want to remove the contents of H(appil)Y after a reversal (recalled) of a harbour.

11a  Companion with primate by Latin place of worship (6)
{CHAPEL} – a place of worship is a charade of the abbreviation for a Companion of Honour, a primate and L(atin).

12a  Mention awkwardly close to pharmacist lotion (8)
{OINTMENT} – an anagram (awkwardly) of MENTION is followed by the last letter (close) of (pharmacis)T.

13a  Noisy bird restrained by family before start of drinks? There’s wishful thinking (5-6-4)
{CLOUD-CUCKOO-LAND} – put a synonym for noisy and a bird with a distinctive cry inside (restrained by) a family or tribe then finish with the first letter of D(rinks). The result is a phrase meaning wishful and impractical thinking. It originates from the nineteenth century translation of the play The Birds, written by the Greek playwright Aristophanes in 414 BC.

15a  Authority in school prepared listening device (7)
{HEADSET} – the boss of a school is followed by a past participle meaning prepared.

17a  Disjointed fight with outsiders in party (7)
{SCRAPPY} – an informal word for a fight is followed by the outside letters of P(art)Y.

20a  A ballet or rally arranged to include hot musical venue (5,6,4)
{ROYAL ALBERT HALL} – this is a musical venue in London. It’s an anagram (arranged) of A BALLET OR RALLY with H(ot) included.

23a  Describe clearly at home petty officer consumed by drink (8)
{PINPOINT} – this is a verb meaning to identify and describe with great accuracy. The short word meaning at home and the abbreviation for petty officer go inside (consumed by) an informal way of referring to a drink of beer.

25a  Cloth not new put round English breakfast dish (6)
{MUESLI} – start with a lightweight cotton cloth, then drop the final N (not new) and put what’s left around E(nglish) to make a breakfast dish.

26a  Light opening to exhibition held by artist (6)
{BEACON} – insert the opening letter of E(xhibition) inside the surname of an Irish-born British painter of the twentieth century to make a light that’s visible from a distance.

27a  Scandinavian leaving fine hostel (3)
{INN} – this hostel is a Scandinavian without (leaving) his initial F(ine).

28a  Revered figure and kind soul? The odds are non-existent (4)
{IDOL} – if the odds are non-existent then we’re left with just the even letters of kind soul.

Down Clues

1d  Service shown by prince having deadly consequences (6)
{LETHAL} – a service on the tennis courts that needs to be re-taken is followed by the name given by Shakespeare to a prince (later King Henry V).

2d  Advocate opposed to the euro? (8)
{PROPOUND} – if you’re British and you’re opposed to the Euro then the assumption is that you must be (3,5).

3d  What storyteller in square might give, maintaining a favourable image? (6,9)
{PUBLIC RELATIONS} – double definition, the first cryptic. The significance of “in square” is that the storyteller is not giving private performances, i.e. anyone can listen.

4d  Fashionable singer’s trademark producing request for payment (7)
{INVOICE} – this request for payment is a charade of a short word meaning fashionable or trendy and the distinctive characteristic or trademark of a singer.

5d  Bear a single time right sort of money to observe proper behaviour? (5,2,8)
{STAND ON CEREMONY} – this phrase means to insist on the observance of formality and correct behaviour. String together a) a verb to bear or endure, b) an adverb meaning a single time, c) R(ight) and d) an anagram (sort) of MONEY. I can’t make much sense out of the surface.

6d  Stiff group of students supported by a lecturer (6)
{FORMAL} – supported by (in a down clue) means held up by or preceding, so the last letters here are A and L(ecturer). What’s being supported (i.e. what comes first) is a group of students attending the same classes.

7d  Excel hiding foot, revealing bit of leg (4)
{SHIN} – here we have another construct that only works with a down clue. The foot of a word in a down clue is the last bit, so we want a verb meaning to excel or stand out without its last letter (hiding foot).

14d  Short rest in card game (3)
{NAP} – double definition.

16d  Self-confidence retained by agile goalkeepers (3)
{EGO} – hidden (retained) in the clue is a word meaning self-confidence.

18d  Like a blue part of floor (not half) in refurbished chalet (8)
{ATHLETIC} – the definition here is like a blue (i.e. someone who has represented Oxford or Cambridge University in a sporting contest between the two). Put half of a square used as a floor covering inside an anagram (refurbished) of CHALET.

19d  One on board facing sign of shame? Avoid expressing an opinion (7)
{ABSTAIN} – one on board is nothing to do with chess but the abbreviation for someone serving on board ship. Follow this with a sign of shame or disgrace on one’s character or reputation to make a verb meaning to sit on the fence.

21d  Record account in group that’s aiming to recover animal (6)
{ALPACA} – put the abbreviations for a vinyl record format and account inside the abbreviation for a group that aims to recover your car in the event of a breakdown to make a South American animal valued for its wool.

22d  Idle lines penned during game in retreat (6)
{LOLLOP} – I had to rely on Chambers to tell me that this verb (which I previously thought just meant to bound along in a clumsy way) can also mean to lounge or idle. Put a couple of L(ines) inside (penned) a game played on baize which has to be reversed (in retreat).

24d  Pair feature in news bulletin (4)
{ITEM} – double definition, the pair being in an established relationship.

The clues I liked best today were 13a and 18d. Which ones did you like?

Today’s Quickie Pun: {PENNY} + {TENSE} = {PENITENCE}



  1. spindrift
    Posted October 18, 2011 at 11:15 am | Permalink

    Not too much of a challenge but acceptable for a Tuesday nonetheless. Thanks to setter & to Gazza for the tips.

    If anyone’s interested I’ve just ordered a brand new copy of”Chamber’s 12th Edition” in hardback with thumb indexes for £28 from play.com – that’s down from the printed price of £50!

  2. Prolixic
    Posted October 18, 2011 at 11:24 am | Permalink

    Straightforward and enjoyable fare this morning from our Mysteron. Thanks to him and to Gazza for the review. Off to sunny Swansea for to see the Land Registry today. Must remember not to mention the rugby!

    • mary
      Posted October 18, 2011 at 11:32 am | Permalink

      It is sunny in Swansea at the moment Prolixic, only 20 miles away from where I live :-)

  3. Posted October 18, 2011 at 11:26 am | Permalink

    I thoroughly enjoyed today’s offering, and personally found it quite challenging. After first run through, had about 6 answers and then had to work on each clue carefully until I suddenly realised that I’d got into the compiler’s head and things speeded up then. I thought the long answers (13A 20A, 3D and 5D) were particularly good and really enjoyed 22D (never thought I’d see that in a DT crossword.

    Have decided I don’t need any more good weather at weekends. ot roped into doing some stuff in the garden and now finding some serious blisters :-(

  4. mary
    Posted October 18, 2011 at 11:30 am | Permalink

    Really strange Gazza, my least favourite clues today were the two you like best! 13a how on earth are you supposed to know the bird is a cuckoo?! 18d, ‘part of floor, not half’ ! how are you supposed to get that? No, no, no ,for me today, I thought the reading of lots of the clues was poor, not making any sense in lots of cases, the only one I liked today was 9a, I had to have lots of help off you to complete this because I got really fed up of it, so thanks for the hints Gazza, It was at least a three star for me today, maybe I’m a bit grumpy because I had to have a ‘fasting’ blood test done and be out of the house by 8.15 to get there on time but no not one for me today, sorry setter :-(

    • Kath
      Posted October 18, 2011 at 12:06 pm | Permalink

      Looks as if you and I are the only ones to find this difficult! You do, at least, have an excuse – out of house without coffee or anything by 8.15? You MUST be joking!! Enough to put anyone in a foul mood for the rest of the day!!

      • mary
        Posted October 18, 2011 at 12:10 pm | Permalink

        our posts must have crossed there Kath, I don’t drink coffee or tea anyway but I do like a cup of hot water and some toast and cereal :-) Off to accupuncture clinic in hospital this afternoon, they are giving up trying to diagnose me I think and are just hoping to treat the pain!!! I cancelled the dentist at 11am after all, enough is enough :-D

      • Nora
        Posted October 18, 2011 at 12:47 pm | Permalink

        I just couldn’t get into this one at all. Even with the hints, I thought there were a lot of very tricky clues. So to console myself, I’m off for a potter in the garden in our lovely autumn sunshine.

        • mary
          Posted October 18, 2011 at 12:49 pm | Permalink

          Join the club Nora, :-)

          • Nora
            Posted October 18, 2011 at 1:00 pm | Permalink

            I’d certainly qualify for the Clueless Club today. I’m often stuck on one or two answers, but today most of them had me stumped.

            Of today’s illustrations, I liked the alpaca, but wasn’t so impressed with the semi-naked headphones model!

            • Brian
              Posted October 18, 2011 at 6:31 pm | Permalink

              Couldn’t agree more, a truly difficult and for me unpleasant puzzle.

              • Kath
                Posted October 18, 2011 at 10:13 pm | Permalink

                In my opinion – difficult certainly but not sure that it’s fair to call it unpleasant – yet again it’s all to do with whether or not one can get onto the right wave length. Today I absolutely could not and it sounds as if you couldn’t either but lots of other people could. I still think that anyone who can set a cryptic puzzle should be applauded so, again, thanks to the setter, whoever he or she is, and thanks to Gazza for the hints. :smile:

                • Franco
                  Posted October 18, 2011 at 11:16 pm | Permalink

                  “Unpleasant” does seem a little bit harsh! Brian, if you don’t enjoy these puzzles – simple – stop doing them! Stop complaining!

                  • mary
                    Posted October 19, 2011 at 8:54 am | Permalink

                    Hi Franco, Brians not really complaining, just saying how it is for him, we don’t stop doing them because at least in my case, we hope to improve, we all say when we really like a puzzle and ‘unpleasant’ isn’t really that strong a word, is it? Today I agree with several that it was hard and the reading of several clues just didn’t make much sense, to me, this doesn’t mean I’m not going to have a go at it, or that I don’t appreciate the work the setter put in, just that it’s one that’s not on my wavelength :-)

  5. Kath
    Posted October 18, 2011 at 12:03 pm | Permalink

    Oh dear!! I found this VERY difficult and, as I eventually got the last answer, I was thinking (hoping) that Gazza would have given it at least 4* for difficulty and that everyone else would have found it tough too. It must be me then. On the first read through I managed precisely one each of the across and down clues. Maybe just not my day!
    I always have to check the spelling of 25a, however many times it comes up. With 28a I spent ages trying to think of a “kind soul” that had an “SP” in it that I could lop off. Looking at it again now there were several clues that I did like – 13a and 2, 18 and 22d. With thanks to the setter and to Gazza.
    Windy and cold but sunny here today – going off up the garden to have a bit of a sulk now. :sad:

    • mary
      Posted October 18, 2011 at 12:06 pm | Permalink

      In case you didn’t notice Kath I’m sulking too! I agree with you, not a good day for me either

      • Kath
        Posted October 18, 2011 at 12:07 pm | Permalink

        Our replies to each other must have crossed over!! :smile: hope you’re feeling better now.

    • gazza
      Posted October 18, 2011 at 12:08 pm | Permalink

      But you did finish it, Kath, so there’s no need to sulk. :D

      • mary
        Posted October 18, 2011 at 12:11 pm | Permalink

        Yes that’s very true Kath, I couldn’t have done it without Gazza today :-)

      • Kath
        Posted October 18, 2011 at 12:25 pm | Permalink

        Thanks for the encouragement Gazza and Mary – yes, I did EVENTUALLY finish it but it’s taken me a very long time – clearly on the wrong wave length today.
        I really am going up the garden now but might forget about the sulking bit! :smile:

        • Scrabo
          Posted October 18, 2011 at 5:48 pm | Permalink

          Well I managed to finish it apart from 22d but it took several revisits and a lot of willpower to stay off this site. I thought it was a 4* too. Have a lot planned for tomorrow so I hope for a more straightforward workout in the am.

  6. Posted October 18, 2011 at 12:12 pm | Permalink

    I found it hard to get started but it started falling into place. I did need some of the hints today. I liked 2d & 13a.

  7. crypticsue
    Posted October 18, 2011 at 12:31 pm | Permalink

    I am with Gazza all the way today, with the BD star ratings, the favourite clues and the congratulations to Tilsit and Co.

    The Toughie put up a fight today, but I got there in the end.

  8. Roland
    Posted October 18, 2011 at 12:36 pm | Permalink

    Not too much of a struggle for me today. Liked 13a, 23a, 3d, 5d, and 21d. Thanks to setter and Gazza.

  9. andy
    Posted October 18, 2011 at 12:45 pm | Permalink

    Got stuck in the SW , couldn’t see 23a or 24d for ages. Much longer solving time for me than usual for a Tuesday. In fact the Toughie quicker. Different strokes etc I suppose. Like Skempie I never thought I would see 22d so it is my favourite,and as did Gazza, I needed to check the Dictionary first.

  10. BigBoab
    Posted October 18, 2011 at 1:10 pm | Permalink

    Very enjoyable crossword today, I agree with Gazza re fav. clues but would add 3d, all in all good fun without being overtaxing. Thanks to the setter and to Gazza. ( love the head set )

  11. Wayne
    Posted October 18, 2011 at 1:11 pm | Permalink

    More than a 2* for me today. 3d, 5d, and 13a got me off to a flying start then things got increasingly difficult. 1d and 18d I guessed by the matching letters but needed Gazzas’ Review for an explanation. Still think 18d is a bit “iffy” ie half a floor covering, could be many things. Overall enjoyable and 3-4* difficulty for me. As the weather seems to be a popular theme on this blog, I can report a bright sunny ,but chilly day here on the south coast.
    Thanx to Compiler and to Gazza for his excellent review.

    • Posted October 18, 2011 at 1:28 pm | Permalink

      I took “part of floor” to be TI(ER) and never gave floor tiles a thought.

      • crypticsue
        Posted October 18, 2011 at 1:32 pm | Permalink

        Same here.

      • gazza
        Posted October 18, 2011 at 2:03 pm | Permalink

        I never thought of tier. It can certainly mean storey or floor but can it mean “part of floor”?

        • Posted October 18, 2011 at 2:09 pm | Permalink

          I took “part of” to mean the TI and “not half” to quantify the size of the part. Perhaps we will never know!

        • andy
          Posted October 18, 2011 at 2:14 pm | Permalink

          Thanks Gazza, I don’t feel so daft for wondering the exact same thing now!

    • Jan
      Posted October 18, 2011 at 2:14 pm | Permalink

      I couldn’t get this at all – got the anagram of chalet but tried half a dozen things for the 1/2 floor and was also trying to think along the lines of a word like azure for blue (very stupid today)

      • mary
        Posted October 18, 2011 at 4:27 pm | Permalink

        You’re not stupid Jan but the clue was a bit :-)

  12. Franco
    Posted October 18, 2011 at 2:22 pm | Permalink

    I thought this was far more difficult than 2*. Needed Gazza’s explanations for 10a & 7d. Liked the use of “after vacation” in 10a. Some of the surface readings are a bit clunky, the best example being 5d.

    • mary
      Posted October 18, 2011 at 4:28 pm | Permalink

      I thought there were quite a few too Franco

      • Franco
        Posted October 18, 2011 at 5:59 pm | Permalink

        Also, the grid wasn’t very helpful (Top row, Left column).

  13. Jezza
    Posted October 18, 2011 at 3:14 pm | Permalink

    Very enjoyable – thanks to setter, and to gazza for the review.

  14. Posted October 18, 2011 at 3:39 pm | Permalink

    Having got 13A half way through it occurred to me that the source of this phrase in reasonably common use was unknown to me. I checked on the blog first (before reaching for the OD of Qs) and there it was. Many thanks for including this.

    Aristophanes – who’d have guessed it? Didn’t he used to play for Panathanikos?

  15. Don Pedro
    Posted October 18, 2011 at 4:30 pm | Permalink

    No, I really didn’t like this one. Without Gazza’s help I was ready to throw the laptop out if the window in disgust. Thanks Gazza for saving me the expense. Thanks also for the image of the overdressed young lady.

  16. beangrinder
    Posted October 18, 2011 at 5:05 pm | Permalink

    Enjoyed this but more than 2* for me. Thanks.

  17. Heno
    Posted October 18, 2011 at 6:03 pm | Permalink

    Thanks to the mysteron & Gazza for a nice puzzle, had to use the hint for 21. Some nice surface reading. Enjoyed the misdirection in 8 & 11. Favourites were 11 20 25 & 5.

  18. Derek
    Posted October 18, 2011 at 6:05 pm | Permalink

    Had a spot of bother with the SW corner of this one – like many of you I found some of the clues rather weird.
    Faves : 13a, 20a, 2d, 18d & 22d.

    Chicken & chips tonight on my Jim Jones as my son is down in the Midi and my daughter &co. are in Spain.

  19. Brian
    Posted October 18, 2011 at 6:30 pm | Permalink

    Two star, oh come on, must be at least 4 star for difficulty or at least it was for me. Managed only two answers.
    If this is the chap choosing the crosswords for the back page, no wonder they have been more difficult of late.

  20. gazza
    Posted October 18, 2011 at 7:28 pm | Permalink

    Well, the consensus view seems to be that this one was more difficult than my 2-star grading suggested. I have to say that I found it on a par for difficulty with yesterday’s Rufus, but, as we always say, that’s just my opinion – you’re welcome, and encouraged, to express your own views.
    Looking through the clues again I still can’t see where all the difficulties lie. All four long answers are fairly clued and you couldn’t ask for friendlier indicators for the four anagrams (awkwardly, arranged, sort, refurbished). I do take Franco’s point that the grid made it a bit trickier, with many “first letters” being unchecked.

    • Brian
      Posted October 18, 2011 at 10:02 pm | Permalink

      Gazza, difficulty is like beauty and the eye of the beholder. I finished yesterday’s with
      little trouble but only managed 3 answers today so for me (and many others it seems) this was far more difficult. I think it’s very difficult (!) for experts such as yourself to judge the difficulty of these puzzles as of course you can always finish them. Perhaps as well as the rather unhelpful star rating, we could ask people to rate the puzzles separately for difficulty and enjoyment.

      • Posted October 18, 2011 at 10:31 pm | Permalink


        I introduced the star rating for difficulty when I started the blog as I thought the approach used on certain other blogs (where the blogger and those leaving comments “boast” about their solving times) was discouraging to lesser mortals. The idea was to give a comparative indication of the difficulty. A two-star puzzle might take some solvers less than ten minutes while others might take half-an-hour or more. You should be measuring a puzzle against your own personal solving times, not those of the person writing the review. I am more than happy for people to disagree with the published rating, but please remember that it is only intended as a guide and I have no intention of changing it.

        As far as the star rating at the end of the blog is concerned, it is a facility provided by WordPress for readers to assess what they thought of the post itself. I have “reassigned” that to an assessment of the puzzle, but it is not possible to add a second category.

  21. Don1991
    Posted October 18, 2011 at 9:01 pm | Permalink

    Greetings all. Long time no speak. The new job’s got me chasing my tail a bit.

    This was a two attempt puzzle for me. Approx 7/8 done at the gallop during my lunch semi-hour (I hope that doesn’t count as time bragging as I hadn’t finished) with no clue as to the answers of the others. I looked at the rest in a calm environment when I got home and the rest collapsed like a house of cards. About a 2.5* for difficulty for me due to having to think.

    Thanks to the Mysteron and gazza (good snap for headset by the way).

  22. Guardian
    Posted October 18, 2011 at 10:38 pm | Permalink

    Can’t get onto wavelength of this setter who I trust will not be a regular. I agree with others this was not enjoyable and in my book warrants more than 2*. Grammar in 3d could be better – how about “that which” rather than “what”?!

  23. Wingnut
    Posted October 19, 2011 at 4:13 pm | Permalink

    A day late I had to come here for the hints to fill in the bottom left corner; ta for putting me out of my misery. Didn’t like this at all.

    • andy
      Posted October 19, 2011 at 4:15 pm | Permalink

      The Bottom left was the last in for a few of us!