DT 26688 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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DT 26688

Daily Telegraph Cryptic No 26688

Hints and tips by Big Dave

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BD Rating – Difficulty **Enjoyment **

Not one of my favourite puzzles. In my opinion, answers like 30a don’t really belong on the back page.

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.


5a    What a lazy setter may resort to (6)
{KENNEL} – a cryptic definition of where a dog might sleep

8a    A half of Pernod and vermouth provided drink (8)
{APERITIF} – a charade of A from the clue, the first half of PER(nod), the short name for IT(alian vermouth) and a two-letter word meaning provided gives this alcoholic drink taken before a meal

9a    Smallest particle visible in any dissection (7)
{ANATOMY} – put the smallest particle inside ANY to get the science of the physical structure of an animal or plant learned by dissection

10a    First-class oil used for garlic mayonnaise (5)
{AIOLI} – the two-letter abbreviation for first-class followed by an anagram (used) of OIL gives a garlic-flavoured
mayonnaise that came up in a recent Micawber Toughie

11a    Found a woozy bliss following electric shock treatment (9)
{ESTABLISH} – a word meaning to found or create is created by putting A from the clue and how someone might say bliss if they were drunk after the abbreviation of Electric shock treatment

13a    Dunces’ stream the customary form for rugby forwards? (8)
{THICKSET} – split the answer as (5,3) and it might be the dunces stream in a school, but it is actually an adjective that could describe a typical rugby forward

14a    Ocelot’s first and second target is a raptor (6)
{OSPREY} – a charade of the initial letter (first) of Ocelot, S(econd) and a target, perhaps of the bird in the answer, gives this raptor

17a & 19a    Peruse missing article by premier in tabloid (3,3)
{RED TOP} – drop the A (indefinite article) from a verb meaning to peruse then add a word meaning premier or foremost to get a collective name for the Sun, Mirror and Star

19a    See 17a

20a    A ‘kosher’ ratatouille’s ingredients generating a list of corrections (6)
{ERRATA} – hidden inside the clue (ingredients) is a list of corrections

23a    Rest during fighting (8)
{INACTION} – this word meaning rest or passivity is a charade of a a two-letter word meaning during followed by fighting

26a    Wok legend cooked for acquaintance (9)
{KNOWLEDGE} – an anagram (cooked) of WOK LEGEND gives a word meaning acquaintance or familiarity

28a    George Raft’s Colombo a match for petty quarrels (5)
{SPATS} – the nickname of the character played by George Raft in the classic film Some Like it Hot also means quarrels or disagreements

29a    More than half of vivisections performed in regular clothes (7)
{CIVVIES} – an anagram (performed) of more than half of VIVISEC(tions) gives regular clothes as opposed to uniform

30a    Street musician’s extraordinary charisma drawing one in as sun comes out (8)
{MARIACHI} – I had to look up this traditional Mexican strolling musician which is an anagram (extraordinary) of CHARI(S)MA with I (one) added (drawing one in) and S(un) removed (comes out)

31a    Craving designer T-shirt (6)
{THIRST} – this craving is an anagram (designer) of T-SHIRT


1d           Before noon accountant is duty-bound to be free (6)
{VACANT} – put a Chartered Accountant in front of N(oon) and then insert into (bound) a sales tax to get a word meaning free or unoccupied

2d           Semi-nude model without turnover of work that’s money in the bank (7)
{DEPOSIT} – start with the second half (semi) of (nu)DE and a verb meaning to model or pose then put this around  (without) a musical work reversed (turnover) and the result is money in the bank

3d           Small white wine cocktail in San Tropez starts a fashion (9)
{MINISKIRT} – a synonym for small is followed by a white wine cocktail (one that is suffixed by royale when champagne is used) inside the iniotial letters (start) of San Tropez

4d           Misinformation about red fruit (6)
{LICHEE} – put misinformation or untruth around a famous left-wing rebel to get one of several alternative spellings of this small rounded fruit

5d           Abandon anorak and go for jumper (8)
{KANGAROO} – an anagram (abandon) of ANORAK and GO gives this jumping marsupial

6d           Oddly least pain that comes up is to do with birth (5)
{NATAL} – take the odd letters of the second and third words in the clue and reverse them (comes up, in a down clue) to get an adjective meaning to do with birth

7d           Caught hem needs repair (8)
{ENMESHED} – this word meaning caught or trapped is an anagram (repair) OF HEM NEEDS

12d         Pen with a lot of style (3)
{STY} – this pen or enclosure is formed from most of the letters of STY(LE)

15d         Tramp’s wearing outfit that wouldn’t have looked out of place in the Apollo (9)
{SPACESUIT} – put a verb meaning tramp or march together with the ‘S from the clue inside an outfit to get another outfit, this time one that was used in the Apollo missions – I complained the other day about words in the clue that didn’t match the way they were used in the wordplay – here “tramp” is a noun in the clue and a verb in the wordplay

16d         Wag is somewhat akin to comedian? (8)
{BRANDISH} – a word meaning to wag or shake could mean akin or similar to the real comedienne Jo or the allegedly funny Russell

18d         Land right in the middle of green with meanest shot (8)
{EASEMENT} – a right attaching to a piece of land entitling its owner to exercise some right over adjacent land owned by another person is derived from the middle letter of grEen followed by an anagram (shot) of MEANEST

21d         Something very difficult in 12? (3)
{PIG} – something that is very difficult is also one of the occupants of 12 down

22d         France changing rule for popular subsidy (7)
{FINANCE} – start with FRANCE and then change R(ule) for a word meaning popular to get this subsidy or funding

24d         Sailor depressed by Birmingham’s centre gets delicious drink (6)
{NECTAR} – put this three-letter word for a sailor after (depressed by, in a down clue) Birmingham’s National Exhibition centre to get a delicious drink

25d         Monster is seen swimming (6)
{NESSIE} – this mythical Scottish monster is an anagram (swimming) of IS SEEN

27d         Review a verifiable case for change (5)
{WAVER} – hidden inside (case) the first three words of the clue is a word meaning to change or vacillate

The only high spot for me was being reminded of Some Like it Hot!

The Quick crossword pun: {Esk} + {ape} + {claws} = {escape clause}

87 comments on “DT 26688

  1. I thought this was a good challenge, quite tough. I had heard of 30a and worked backwards. A few easy anagrams to help along the way. Thanks as ever.

  2. First; I enjoyed the pun in the quickie, which is more than I can say for the Xword. No outstanding clues for me and thought 21d was “iffy” closely followed by 30a. 3* for Difficulty and 1* for Enjoyment. Certainly not my favourite Xword ever. Thanx to Compiler and to BD for (half) his Review.

  3. I agree with the rating for difficulty and enjoyment. No particular favourites today, but no real complaints either.
    Thanks to setter, and to BD.

  4. I enjoyed this and thought that there were some clever clues, but it did put up quite a fight – for a while I thought that I was never going to be able to finish it. At least a 3* if not a 4* for difficulty for me today. The ones that gave the most trouble were 11, 13 and 28a and 3, 4, 16 and 18d. The clues I really like include 8a and 5, 7, 15 and 24d. With thanks to the setter and BD.
    VERY cold here – first day of having to wear multiple layers so feeling a bit like a stuffed earwig! :sad:

    1. that conjures up an interesting picture Kath, cold here too but warm enough at mo to be sitting here with the patio doors open for dogs to go in and out :-)

      1. Definitely not warm enough to sit with kitchen door open – and now it looks as if it might rain. Going for dog walk soon then some digging in the garden.

    2. I thought I was never going to get going, but then things started falling into place and I enjoyed it in the end. 30a is my new word for today, but I don’t think I’m likely to be able to use it very often.

      Stuffed earwig? I’m trying to picture you, but can’t quite manage it.

    1. As I thought, 16D does not work for me at all especially due to the lack of comedians in BD’s clue. As far as I am concerned, one is a self centred, egotistical unfunny person who seems to delight at people squirming when they use crude language and the other is a female self centred, egotistical unfunny person who seems to delight at people squirming when they use crude language. I have to hear either of them tell a joke or recount a funny story that does not involve swearing or bodily functions.

  5. Funnily enough I quite enjoyed this one today, a few ‘iffy’ clues maybe but on the whole enjoyable I thought, a 3* for me, fav clue 23a, thanks for hints Dave even though didn’t need tham today, as a matter of interest why do you think 30a doesn’t really belong in a back page crossword?

  6. Had to resort to Mr Google for George Raft ( a bit even before my time) but even he couldn’t get me the musician even though I’d got the anagram letters right totally new to me. Couple made me smile like 11a and 16d.

    1. I actually worked out the relevant letters but then had to resort to my electronic friend for the “anagram solver”! Totally new word for me – thought it a bit “toughie” for a back-pager! Did finally finish without hints, but found it quite hard going.

  7. I seem to be getting through on line OK now. Does this mean that the problems have been fixed? Does anybody know

      1. I spent 90 minutes trying to submit this puzzle, then gave up and went to bed! The site is definitely not yet fixed, but does seem to run better than it did a few weeks ago.

        1. I’ve got straight on to it for the past 3 days. I think that they should tell us when it is fixed to save all the extra trouble. They are a shower whomever they are

        2. I find I am unable to get onto the site until 7 or 8pm UK time so it is not fixed from my perspective. Also problems with it getting stuck when I try to submit. I think they should be entered in the Guinness Book of Records for longest time a web site was down:)

        1. 20th October 2011 @ 16:05 – the DT’s pdf files on their home page are still yesterday’s puzzles. How is it possible that BD can provide the latest puzzles before the DT?

          1. Probably because I have better control over what happens on this website than the Puzzles Editor does on his. Believe you me, I wouldn’t want to be updating the Telegraph Puzzles site.

            1. Hope you didn’t lose too much sleep last night! Noticed that there was a bit of a delay in publishing today’s puzzles! Zzzzzzzzzzz!

              1. Someone forgot to send them to me until after I went to bed! I wasted quite a while trying to access the puzzles on the Telegraph Puzzles site so that I could create my own pdfs, and finally gave up the fight.

                1. I always thought that running this blog was a lot harder than it seems. Many Thanks to BD & Team! (Beginning to sound like Kath in her effusive praise)

                  1. When I took over the blogging of the back-page puzzles from James Cary he accurately described the job as a “self-imposed responsibilty”.

                  2. Franco – are you mocking me? I just think that this is such a fantastic blog – see, you’ve set me off again!! :grin:

                    1. Kath, – not mocking you at all – I hope that you are not offended. But, you are always so enthusiastic about this site!

                      (Must admit that I don’t know the meaning of “effusive”) :smile:

  8. I am on the side of the grumpy people today – it took me about three times longer than my ‘normal’ to get to the end of it and I didn’t enjoy myself much either. Like Beangrinder, I had heard of the musicians and worked backwards to sort out the wordplay. Thanks to the Mysteron and to BD too.

    The Toughie lives up to its name – took me ages but did help to sitting in the back row at a large and long meeting pass by!

    1. I’ve given up on the other one, cannot get it at all. First time for months and months. 3/4 done and no further despite cogitation. Hmmpphh

      1. I recommend going to a two hour meeting, and sitting in the back row so that I could do the crossword surreptitiously, worked wonders for my cogitation:D

        1. I tried taking it to the Doctors to do in the waiting room awaiting a post-dog bite Tetanus jab, still stared blankly at the SE corner. Some days you can, some days you can’t!!

  9. No real issues with today’s offering except I had to look up 30a for confirmation. Agree with 2* for difficulty and enjoyment. Thanks to setter and to BD.

  10. 30 a was one of the first clues I got – remembering it from a film early in Antonio Banderas’s career.

    1. So did I but it’s an alternative spelling – think we’ve probably had both before but I still had to look it up to check – a bit like muesli – always have to check that one too. :smile:

      1. Hi Kath
        I also found another spelling of it ending in ” *itchi” which I summise is derived from the Latin name for it, ah well 4 days of peace now I’ve just dropped the other half off at Dover docks, she’s off to Paris for 4 days with her sister which means no interrupted solving sessions and even better I can stay in the garage tinkering with my motorbikes till whatever time I feel like. :D

  11. I agree with BD, I don’t know who the setter is but I found that I did not understand a lot of the clues and I do feel that, as a result, it deserves more than 2*’s

  12. A 3* difficulty at least for me. Finished just within the upper end of my personal acceptable time parameters but was pleased to do so as it felt pretty tough. I have a particular loathing for clues which are anagrams of part of a word such as 29a. If you can’t find an appropriate anagram (unless with a clear steer to miss 1 or 2 specific letters out) then find another way to clue it!

    1. I totally agree. I’m not going to bother to finish it and that’s going to spoil my day. Do we know who the setter is?

  13. Not much happiness at the stately home today. Finished reasonably quickly but ended up feeling grumpy rather than satisfied. Guessed 28 early on but still fail, having looked at Big Dave’s hints, to understand what Colombo has to do with it. If the answer is that that was the name, as opposed to nickname, of Raft’s character, I am not impressed. Agree entirely with Warren about part anagrams.

  14. How odd. Haven’t had time to tackle the puzzle itself, but just reading through Across clues & answers (thus no opinion on Downs as yet) but… surfaces of 103a & 26a are a tad clunky but all of the others feel very nicely constructed to me – a good balance of starters and challengers for a late-in-the-week offering. Might be 2-3 stars for difficulty, but easily 4-5 for enjoyment.
    I know what the problem is. BD is turning you all into expert solvers! I mean that entirely as a compliment; this blog is giving you all such a good grounding in how to solve clues that you are, without realising it, raising your expectations in terms of what clues should do to entertain.
    Without naming names, there are regulars here who, by their own admission, could be called novice solvers only a year or so ago, but who are now writing top flight clues on DIY COW. That forum is doubtless part of the training, but I think this blog may be playing an even greater role.

    1. Perhaps it’s a getting on the solver’s wavelength thing – I am an experienced solver ( 41 years) and today’s back pager took me three times as long as those on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday did.

      1. I think wavelength does help, but practice and guidance from the blog are what have really made me a better solver. I used to think I could never solve a RayT, as I wasn’t on his wavelength, but as I now have a better understanding of how clues are constructed, he holds no fear any more (well, perhaps just a little bit).

        I only have the odd REALLY bad day nowadays (like Tuesday)!

        1. I agree Nora Ray T and Giovanni were names to strike dread, now however they are mostly ‘tacklable’ with a little ‘perservation’ :-)

    2. If you want an example of the master at work, have a look at today’s Toughie by Elkamere (aka Anax). Even if you can’t finish it, read Bufo’s explanations of the clues.

    3. I agree Anax, without this blog I would not be anywhere near solving these puzzles, having accidentally come across it just over 2 years ago when I first started doing cryptic crosswords, it has been invaluable to me, Dave and his band of helpers have been extraordinarily patient, welcoming and helpful, as well as most others taking part, I would be totally lost without it, I have also been ‘having a go’ on COW and found that forum also helps in understanding of cryptic clues, what more could I ask! only that I wish I still didn’t need my books etc. so often :-( A huge ‘Thank you’ to Dave and his merry band :-)

        1. In the same boat here. Started doing the crossword about a year and a half ago and would probably have abandoned the idea if I hadn’t found this site. So i too have learned so much from all the solvers…..not enough to solve today’s crossword though which I found difficult to say the least. So thanks to Big Dave and the team. I’ve struggled long enough with this and will now check out the hints.

      1. I have some old DT Cryptic Crossword books with puzzles from 50 years ago and, except for anagrams, the way the clues are written has changed considerably. I think they have become harder.

    4. Anax, I’m with you (in the minority) on today’s puzzle. Lots of really good surface readings – 26a & 3d for example – very entertaining!

      A few minor quibbles – 28a = GK and 16d should have been comedienne (if I’ve got the right comedian?)

        1. Mary, I’ve never considered him to be a comedian – more like an irritation! But, we all have our own likes and dislikes! Just like today’s puzzle which I thought was really clever and enjoyable!

    5. Lots of things in the last few comments to reply to.
      1. I agree with Anax about today’s crossword and about how much this blog has contributed to crossword solving ability and understanding for lots of people.
      2. I also agree with Mary’s comment.
      3. Really don’t like Russell Brand either.

  15. Thanks to Big Dave & the setter. I didn’t like it at all. Probably because I couldn’t do it. I thought some of the content very obscure, Never heard of 18 or 30,or Kir in 3. I was surprised was only 2* for difficulty. Needed 16 hints to complete, and had to look up 7 of those. Better luck tomorrow.
    Has something changed on the site ? I haven’t been able to add a comment via my Android Smartphone for the last 2 days, but it works ok on my PC.

          1. Thanks Dave, I just wanted to check wether something had changed on the site. It’s probably one of those things that’s impossible to track down> I’ll try again tomorrow via Android.

  16. Didn’t enjoy this puzzle very much.
    Faves : 8a, 9a, 14a, 30a, 3d, 7d, 15d & 25d.

    Re 14a, the only specimens I ever saw wild were in Yellowstone – magnificent birds.

    Central heating came on yesterday and today – first time since earlier this year so the summer is now behind us in NL.
    Had to put on my Noorse sokken (Norwegian socks) this morning – brrr!

    Left-over roast chicken tonight – the wine is never left over!!!

    1. Saw the 14a’s in Scotland in, I think, 1976 – Skye probably – when there was only a couple of breeding pairs in the whole of the UK. I could be wrong on all those facts but, if I am, I’m quite sure someone will tell me!! :smile:

  17. The Ratings give 2 stars (below average) . Don’t recall seeing such a poor rating before, perhaps Big Dave could check/comment.

    1. I think it means that the silent majority enjoyed it as little as I did. Not a “bad” puzzle, just one that lacked sparkle. The only other setter who regularly achieves low ratings is a certain Toughie setter!

      1. And the first few lines of the lyrics:-

        When it’s fiesta time in Guadalajara
        Then I long to be back once again in old Mexico
        Where we lived for today, never giving a thought to tomara
        To the strumming of guitars in a hundred grubby bars
        I would whisper, “Te amo”

        The mariachis would serenade
        And they would not shut up till they were paid
        We ate, we drank, and we were merry
        And we got typhoid and dysentery

  18. mumble mumble, seen better. Dave, you have the patience of a saint and the insight of a mystic. You are rearing a group of cynical experts in cruciverbalism which can only be a good thing.

      1. Exactly what I was thinking, it still bugs me that the mystery setters don’t have the decency to reveal who they are, especially when we are happy to criticize and praise them in equal measure on the blog.

  19. Big Dave, I have noticed that the Telegraph site is improving in terms of being able to get on and print (which is all I do), however there must be a strong possibility that this improvement is due to the reduction in demand as a result of the publishing of the crosswords on this site? My point being, please don’t stop this service until we are absolutely certain the problem is resolved. Just out of interest, do you have any indications of how many people are accessing the crossword via your site!
    Thanks again to Phil McNeil and yourself.

    1. I’ll publish them for as long as they are sent to me. You want to try getting on to the site in the early hours of the morning (or should I say you don’t want to try!).

  20. Ewwwwww, didn’t go much on this…
    From the outset, it was clear that this was going to be a tougher one, but, for me, ended up more a raw deal. I really didn’t care for some of the clues (eg ‘abandon’ as an anagram indicator, ‘IT’ as an abbreviation for vermouth, never heard of George Raft or the Mexican musician, and is an atom really the smallest particle, and is anatomy now dissection?)
    Too iffy for me, so I actually gave up on it, rather than endure further frustration with the obliqueness of it all.
    First one star I’ve ever given :(

      1. Haha, I must call her and see if that’s her tipple! She’s never been a big drinker, mind… ;)

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