DT 26717 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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DT 26717

Daily Telegraph Cryptic No 26717

Hints and tips by pommers

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BD Rating – Difficulty ***Enjoyment ***

Hello from the Vega Baja where it is raining cats and dogs with some spectacular thunder and lightning and my garage roof has started leaking again!

I think this one is a little trickier than recent Wednesdays so I’ve gone for 3* difficulty. I’m sure that some of you will disagree but I think you will agree it’s quite a fun puzzle.

The clues I like most are in blue and the answers can be seen by highlighting the space between the curly brackets. 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.


7a.    Rules broadcast by football official for songs (8)
{REFRAINS} – This word for songs is a charade of a football official and word which sounds like (broadcast) a word meaning rules, as a monarch.

9a.    Fruit variety after the beginning of October (6)
{ORANGE} –  Take O (beginning of October) followed by a word meaning variety or scope and you get a fruit, which is one of the main crops grown in the Vega Baja.

10a.    Top member of coven showing desire (4)
{ITCH} – Top here is a verb meaning ‘ to remove the top’. Take a member of a coven and remove the first letter to leave a word meaning desire or yearning.

11a.    Imparts information to single then goes off (10)
{ENLIGHTENS} – An anagram (goes off) of  SINGLE THEN gives a word meaning  imparts information or informs.

12a.    Fruits escape destruction in empty oasts (6)
{OLIVES} – A word meaning escape destruction or survive placed inside OS (empty O(ast)S) gives another fruit grown in the Vega Baja.

14a.    Commercial break making a difference? (5,3)
{TRADE GAP} – I’m not really sure how to describe this one! It’s a word for commerce (5) followed by a word for break or space (3) to get a phrase describing the difference between a country’s imports and exports.  If anyone can do better please let me know!

15a.    Trouble’s common, by the way (6)
{STRIFE} – Definition is trouble. Take a word for common or widespread and place it after (by) the usual  abbreviation for way or road.

17a.    Recover couple of recipes requiring vessel to hold duck (6)
{RECOUP} – Take RE (couple of REcipes) followed by a vessel, from which I’m currently drinking tea, around O (duck) to get a word meaning recover or get back.

20a.    Over the moon — until jab goes wrong (8)
{JUBILANT} – A word meaning ‘over the moon’ or exulting is an anagram (goes wrong) of UNTIL  JAB.

22a.    Engineers can — with a bit of a looker (6)
{RETINA} – Take the usual engineers followed by another word for a can, of baked beans perhaps, and A (from the clue) to get a bit of the eye (looker).

23a.    A guess in case of dangerous enterprises (10)
{ADVENTURES} – Definition is enterprises. Start with A (from the clue) and then place a word which can mean guess or suppose inside DS (case of DangerouS).

24a.    Bearing one in pieces (4)
{MIEN} – A word meaning bearing or demeanour is some pieces, from a chess board perhaps, with I inserted (one in).

25a.    One may seek buyers for noisy basement (6)
{SELLER} – This person who needs a buyer sounds like (noisy) an underground room at the bottom of your house.

26a.    A bit of matter eponymously rejected in a stage performance (8)
{OPERETTA} – A musical stage performance is hidden (a bit of) but reversed (rejected) in mATTER EPOnymously.


1d.    They may encourage ginger before lopping top off stems (3,5)
{PEP TALKS} – These are things which may encourage, given by a football manager at half time perhaps. Take a word for ginger, as in energy, and then a word for stems without its first letter (top off).

2d.    Principal hospital supporting a church (4)
{ARCH} – Principal, as in your principal enemy, is H(ospital) place after (supporting in a down clue) A (from the clue) and the abbreviation for the church of Rome.

3d.    Ducks die off and fighters lose struggle (6)
{EIDERS} – These ducks are an anagram (off) of DIE followed by ERS (what you are left with if you take fight (struggle) out of the word fighters).

4d.    The frequency of an extended farewell? (4,4)
{LONG WAVE} –This radio band, where you get Test Match Special, is a word for extended followed by a gesture you might make when saying goodbye or leaving.  I suppose that this is really a wavelength rather than a frequency but it’s OK by me.

5d.    Desperate attempt to survive Benidorm? (4,6)
{LAST RESORT} – A phrase for a desperate or final attempt is a charade of a word meaning survive or continue and something of which Benidorm is a well known example.  Pommette and I are going there for a few days over Christmas as it’s only about an hour’s drive from here. Whether we will survive is anyone’s guess!

6d.    Schedule badly managed, apart from the start (6)
{AGENDA} – This schedule for a meeting is an anagram (badly) of (m)ANAGED (managed apart from the start).

8d.    Source of lipids found in quickly-fried toast (6)
{SALUTE} –  Insert L (source of Lipids) into a dish cooked by quick-frying and you get a toast, as in honour.

13d.    Pasta dish making MC livelier (10)
{VERMICELLI} –A type of pasta is an anagram (making) of MC LIVELIER.

16d.    Cause of breakdown in dull Lebanese port (4,4)
{FLAT TYRE} – Something which will stop your car is a word for dull or boring followed by a port on the coast of Lebanon, which was besieged by Alexander the Great in 332BC. Today’s bit of trivia!

18d.    African organisation in huff with volunteers getting meat from Italy (8)
{PANCETTA} –A South African political organisation placed inside a word for a huff and followed by the usual volunteer soldiers gives a type of cured pork popular in Italy (and Spain). We had this word for huff only a few days ago!

19d.    Austere organisation impounding sound equipment (6)
{STEREO} – A sound system is hidden (impounding) in austere organisation.

21d.    Opens with love for one in pants (6)
{UNDOES} – Definition is opens. Take a word for pants, as in undergarments, and replace the I with an O (one for love).

22d.    Game played with the girl’s zips (6)
{RUSHES} – A word meaning zips or moves quickly. Take the initials of a 15-a-side ball gave, a word for girl or female and don’t forget the ‘S.

24d.    Fitting, just without right bit of timber (4)
{MEET} – A word which can mean fitting or appropriate is a word for just, as in he’s just a boy, with the R removed (without Right) followed by T (bit of Timber). This is a new meaning of this word for me!

Photo opportunities are a bit limited again bit I’ve managed both a car and a girl in 16d!
I like the ones in blue but I think my favourites are 22a and 1d.

The Quick crossword pun: {toots} + {wheat} = {tout suite}

118 comments on “DT 26717

      1. I had trouble when I first tried, the little square thingy kept going round, so I closed it down and started again and it worked

      2. Wev’e had 4 weeks of rain but yesterday the sun came out so I’ve shelved my plans to return to Blighty

        1. Pommers, I was wondering if you have the telephone number for 16d because Mrs Collywobs is back in Blighty and I am at a loose end

      3. Success! I’m in at last. Do I detect this is an on-going problem?
        Because I’m a bit of a cynic, are they trying to get you to buy the newspaper that has increased in price by 20%!!?

        1. I think that this is 4* Pommers. I’ve been at it for an hour and I’m going to have to refer to your hints, for which thanks in advance

    1. Oh yes! Even when I got onto the site this morning, I couldn’t get the x words! Took several attempts.

      Enjoyed the puzzle once I got into it, not as easy as the last two days, so have had to look at a couple of hints, especially for NW corner! Thanks to Pommers for the assistance.

  1. I liked this one, and it raised a few smiles as well. The last couple in for me were the two 4-letter ones bottom right.
    Thanks to Jay, and to pommers for the review.

      1. Had no problem with the definition and answer, but didn’t like “just” as, in this context, the synonym would be “merely” not “mere”. Am I being too pedantic?

        1. Hi Vince
          I wasn’t too happy with the just bit either! I think it’s from ‘he’s just a boy’ or ‘he’s a mere boy’ or something like that anyway!
          Nowt wrong with a bit of pedantry in crosswordland, we thrive on it!

  2. I enjoyed this one – quite challenging with some clever clues, but I needed your help with the two 24s. Four-letter answers with one checking vowel often get the better of me. A quick glance at the Toughie suggests we have an uphill battle today! Thanks to Jay and Pommers.

  3. Very enjoyable today even if it wasn’t as easy as Monday’s and Tuesday’s. I particularly enjoyed 1D, 4D, 8D and 22D.

    Pommers, I have heard 24D used in this meaning, but it took a while for me to justify from the clue (a tad involved for a 4 letter answer I thought). I must congratulate you on the your reticence to produce a picture clue for 21D.

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  5. i enjoyed this one very much – needed the hint to explain 24d – knew the meaning but couldn’t make it fit the clue. The first bit of 1d took a very long time – had managed to convince myself that it had to be “red” as in “red hair” but got there in the end. I liked lots of these clues – 10 and 22a and 1, 5, 8, 21 and 22d. Is it just me or does anyone else think that the “something for something else” type of clues like 21d are becoming more common – we seem to be seeing a lot of them recently. With thanks to Jay (I assume) and Pommers.

      1. Also wasn’t keen on 17a thinking ‘recover a couple of recipes’ meant ‘rr’ how are we supposed to know it means the first two letters?

        1. Hi Mary, I was thinking of 2r’s too, but got it in the end. It’s probably misdirection from the setter.

          1. Hi Heno, yes but just as I think I’ve learnt one thing it means another but there is nothing there to tell us which bit to take!

            1. Hi Mary, I started thinking 2 r’s too but that didn’t look very promising so I thought ‘what else can Jay mean?’ and it suddenly became obvious!
              I think you just have to be aware of the possibilities and try all until something works! It’s a bit like about – c, ca re, on etc or it could just mean put something round the outside of something else!.

              1. Hi pommers, yes I know you are right but I thought that kind of thing e.g. take the first two letters had to be better indicated, I, like you worked it out but it could have been any couple of letters from the word, nuff said :-)

    1. I was on red too for 1d – I thought of red head, and was trying to justify the lopping of stems as dead head, but it doesn’t work, does it?

  6. Hola pommers, don’t worry about the rain it has been lovely here for over a week now and hopefully will remain so for your visit :-) agree with 3* today fav clues 4d, 5d and 22a, ref 25a couldn’t it be taken either way ? personally I put ‘cellar’ in, couldn’t ‘noisy’ refer to the first or second part of the clue? Am the only one to think this?

    1. You might be right about 25a, I never really thought about it. I think it works because the link word FOR splits NOISY, the homophone indicator, from the first bit and leaves BASEMENT as the fodder.

      Apparently it’s going to stay chilly (only 16C which is chilly by Spanish standards) and rain all day today and tommorrow and then normal service will be resumed. Unfortunately I’m flying to Manchester at 1700 tomorrow just about when the rain’s due to stop!

      1. thanks pommers and apologies, meant to say thanks once again for the blog, hope you have a lovely weekend :-)

      2. couldn’t it be saying ‘one who seeks a buyer for noisy’ i.e. a homophone of ‘one who seeks a buyer for’, which gives you a word for basememt i.e. cellar, not nitpicking here, just wondering if it works this way too??

        1. I often have trouble with these but, for once, not today – I do think it’s definitely “seller” ie it’s the basement being “noisy” – nothing worse than a noisy basement is there? :smile:

            1. and my mind just read it completely the other way, didn’t even think of it the ‘right’ way round!

                1. Hi Stuart – welcome to the blog.
                  That must be an error. The wordplay points to SELLER and I’ve just checked the on-line site which indeed shows the answer as SELLER.

      3. Sun too hot to sit in here today – if I’d stayed out longer battling with the crossword, I’d have burnt the back of my neck!

        1. Strange! I’m about a 2 hour drive away and it’s cold and pissing down ( is it allowed to say ‘pissing’ on the blog? -but I’ve done it anyway).

          1. I’m quite sure that you’re allowed to say that – it’s pretty harmless considering the things that louts are allowed to say to our cops these days and not be done for it ….

        2. Well lucky old you – had to put fleece on to go to do some gardening – would settle for burnt back of neck ….

      1. So ‘case’ is crosswordlandspeak for ‘take the first and last letters’ because, if it is, I can’t see why

    1. Hi Collywobbles

      ‘Case of’ is a fairly common crosswordland device for indicating the outside letters of a word. The case of something, like a shell case perhaps, is it’s outer skin – the outer skin of a word is its first and last letters. Keep an eye open for this as it turns up fairly often!

      So what you have here is the A from the clue followed by the guess put inside the case of DangerouS

  7. I didn’t find this any trickier than any other Jay Wednesday puzzle but as enjoyable as usual. Thank you to him and Pommers too.

    Micawber isn’t quite as fiendish as he has been in the past in today’s Toughie but it is great fun.

  8. For me this was a ghastly puzzle with a plethora of clues so obscure they leave me speechless (26a, 24d, 18d, 24a). As a matter of interest how do you get just the re from 17a? Couln’t see21d so I looked at the hint and thought ‘how does knockers fit’? Only bit of humour or enjoyment in the whole thing for me today. thx to Pommers for the excellent hints, I take my hat off to anyone who managed today’s without them.

    1. Brian I think the two 24s were the last in / most difficult for quite a few, and I certainly needed Pommers hints for both (plus dictionaries to check).

    2. Hi Brian, I agree about 17a how we are supposed to know that the ‘couple’ of letters we need are the first two??? I didn’t need the hints today but I did need my ‘electronic friends’ and books as on most days, I can very rarely finish without them! It is a good day for me if I can complete one this way because I have at least worked out what the setter is looking for, it has taken me two years to get this far and in that two years I don’t think I’ve completed more that four or five without any help at all, however with the help of this blog and everyone on it I keep perservating and who knows one day I might not need my ‘friends’ as much, so keep perservating and hopefully enjoying :-)

      1. Elliptical billiards? From the Mikado:

        “The billiard sharp whom any one catches,
        His doom’s extremely hard –
        He’s made to dwell
        In a dungeon cell
        On a spot that’s always barred;
        And there he plays extravagant matches
        In fitless finger-stalls
        On a cloth untrue,
        With a twisted cue,
        And elliptical billiard balls!”

      2. … and an “H” shaped thing for the ball to go through instead of a net for the ball to go into – just can’t do this stuff .. ! :smile:

  9. Thanks to the setter ( was it Jay?) and to Pommers for the review and hints. I found this tougher than yesterday, 7a led me a merry dance, I thought it was an anagram of “ref” & “rules “, so got ferrules, but that made no sense, then the penny dropped. Favourites were 14& 22a & 8d, also 19d & 26a which were both hidden words, and were the last two in. Great puzzle very entertaining.

  10. Thanks to the setter and to Pommers, a very nice crossword with just the right degree of difficulty for a Wednesday. ( I must say that I have never heard of a pointy ball in the sport mentioned but then again it sort of fits )

      1. … a thug’s game played by gentlemen as opposed to a gentleman’s game (the other one which is played with a round ball and a net for the ball to go into) played by thugs – quote from my Dad! :smile:

  11. I knew it was meet as I knew the meaning in this context. However, try as I might, I could not work out why.

  12. Well pommette and I are off to the UK tomorrow armed with 36 crosswords from the DT and Grauniad archives. Is that going to be enough for 9 days and 2 Ryanair flights I ask myself?
    Think I’ll print some more!

    1. I do so hope that you both have a wonderful weekend and enjoy the “sloggers and betters” meeting. I’m really sorry that I’m not going – would love to meet the two of you. Another time, perhaps … :smile:

  13. At least 3* for me and and wouldn’t have finished without hints for which my thanks. Would trade ban be a better answer for 14a?

  14. very tricky today, and not finished so may need a bit of tomorrow to get there. However, a bit of hard work does no harm!

    Thanks to setter, reviewer and to Big Dave for the blog.

  15. Many thanks to Pommers for the review, and to all for the comments. For anyone still struggling, you may find that Paella and Rioja could be of assistance if you look carefully. Hope to see some of you in Derby on Saturday

    1. I’ve got it too, now. Never remember to look for these complicated things although I do now start to look out for pangrams whenever I find the unusual letters fairly early on – sometimes they can be a bit of a red herring.

  16. That was tough, I thought and wouldn’t have finished without the hints -many thanks Pommers! Got very stuck in SE corner and agree with others about 24a & d – VERY obscure IMO. How are we suposed to think of “pieces” as “men”??? Do know the meaning of 24d but couldn’t justify it at all – also agree that surely “just” is “merely, not mere”. However, it has all been explained, thank you, but doesn’t make me any the less grumpy about it! And I’m forever missing the “ones in the clue” like 19d and particularly when they’re backwards, like 26a. Must study words more carefully! 3* for me too.

    1. Hi Addicted
      Men as pieces comes up with a fair bit of regularity so it’s worth filing away for the future – we’re bound to see it again!

  17. Needed lots of breaks today to regenerate brain but not really happy with 14a. Think I have right answer (thanks to BD’s hints) and can see the commercial and the break but can’t for the life of me see where the rest of the first word comes from.

    1. Hi Jo
      The answer could be read to mean ‘a break in commerce’, i.e. a commercial break, – the commerce being the whole of the first word followed by the break. The difference could be the difference in commerce too so it might be a sort of semi all-in-one or something, but as I said in the blog it’s not that easy to explain. I’d rather hoped someone would come up with something better!

      1. Thanks pommers It now makes sense. I thought commercial was “ad” so totally missed the other meaning. Your other hints were invaluable – couldn’t have done it alone. :)

    1. There isn’t one! First of Recipe would be R so couple of recipes can be RE or possibly RR.
      See conversation with Mary on Kath’s post #7.

      1. Hmm! I agree with Mary. I found this puzzle particularly difficult and it contained a number of clues where there is no reason to make the assumption to determine the answer, if that makes sense. Which it probably doesn’t. I wish I hadn’t said it now. Or wrote it. I’ll stop now

        1. Oh…shame – you were just getting going. Made me smile (to know others tussled as much as I did).

        2. I sort of agree about there being a couple of odd clues but, if I solved it in a 3* time, they must have worked. I thought it lacked some of Jay’s normal ‘sparkle’ but I did enjoy it, probably because it was a bit tricky!

  18. Thanks to Jay for the puzzle and also for pointing out the Nina! How clever!! I wonder if he was pleased or disappointed that no-one on this blog seems to have discovered it unaided? Thanks, also, to pommers for explaining 24d.

    1. I wonder if Jay put it in as a sort of test for me as I live in the land of Paella, Rioja and siestas – and the country is also there! Also the oranges and olives in the answers, we have oodles of them around here!
      I shall ask him on Saturday!

        1. Not so sure ‘tribute’ is quite what was intended but you never know! As I said I’ll ask him on Saturday.
          It will be really nice to meet Jay after all these months of battling with his puzzles and then having to explain them – not always easy (the puzzles or the explanations).

  19. I made heavy work of this today, and if I’d used all the four-letter words I thought of in trying to sort out the four-letter words in the SE corner, the air would have been blue, so thanks Pommers for the hints.

    It looks like our cats and dogs of yesterday have moved down your way. It poured for 10 hours, so it makes a nonsense of the saying about the rain in Spain. Still, the potatoes love it, and it means we’ll probably be having home-grown new spuds on Christmas day.

  20. I found this quite difficult today, so thanks for the hints, much needed.
    I am amazed by the skill of not only being able to set a crossword such as this, but also to include the nina. V impressive !
    i must admit that i hadn’t spotted it myself.

    1. The Nina seems to have been missed by everyone, including me and I live here! The skill is very impressive and I will say as much to Jay on Saturday when we finally meet!

  21. Good evening one and all. Trickier than the last two days particularly SE 24d and 24a. “Men” seems to be getting more common? Otherwise I found this reasonably straightforward. Interesting comments and some good hints.

  22. Thanks to Pommers and to Jay – both on top form as ever – As with the Toughie I had a couple hanging out for a while at the end and alas I also failed to spot the excellent NINA even having clocked the Mediterrranean clues.

      1. Had decided that this was a food orientated puzzle but didn’t spot the Mediterranean/Spanish influence. Please ask Jay if his puzzles are designed to be easier if you start with the down clues and, if so, why – it seems to happen SO often on Wednesdays.

    1. Strange site but it was an image Google came up with that seemed to fit the bill! Shame that more of the car wasn’t showing – or the girl for that matter! (on other pics it is a really tasty BMW) but the girl don’t show up too well)!.

  23. I found this pretty straight-forward until I got to the 24a/24d clues. Spent a long time mulling over both – finally brought myself to check the hints, but they didn’t help either. Having looked at the answers, I’ve never heard of 24a; 24d I had, but not in that context – doesn’t even sound right….
    I’m not entirely sure they were good clues…not sure that ‘mere’ was a good synonym, even in pommers’ sentence – he’s mere a boy?
    Shame, otherwise it was quite a good puzzle…

  24. Cor blimey, 103 comments (before this one). Congratulations to the Compiler for creating such debate although not all relevant to the Xword. For my part I found it much easier than monday and tuesdays’ Xwords but that’s only my opinion and I guess proves that ‘ones mans meat is another mans poison’
    Thanx to Compiler and to Pommers for the review. Nice pic for 16d, don’t recall the AA man being that attractive, maybe I should have gone to Specsavers!!

  25. Like many others I couldn’t do 24a/24d, even with the hints. I’ve not heard of the answer to 24a before. As to 21d, I thought the definition was pants so put in “Undies”. It just about fits the clue in a twisted sort of way!

  26. This was just too hard for me.
    Loads of trouble running NW to SE.

    But the main problem for me, is that the correct answer to 22a is clearly “Tinker”.


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