DT 26718 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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DT 26718

Daily Telegraph Cryptic No 26718

Hints and tips by Big Dave

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BD Rating – Difficulty **Enjoyment *

The disappointment I felt when opening the Quick crossword and finding out that Ray T was not today’s setter was confirmed when I tackled this puzzle.

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    Old woman at home getting bag in country’s chief part? (8)
{MAINLAND} – a charade of Crosswordland’s old woman (2), the usual synonym for at home (2) and a verb meaning to bag or catch gives the chief part of a country – bag is used here as a noun but the alternative meaning only works when used as a verb

9a    A place for a contest in broad street (6)
{AVENUE} – combine A from the clue with a place for a contest to get a broad street, usually lined with trees

10a    Source of notes kept by hobo eagerly (4)
{OBOE} – a musical instrument (source of notes) is hidden in (kept by) the last two words of the clue

11a    Cold sore with lip man treated (10)
{IMPERSONAL} – this adjective meaning cold or unfeeling comes from an anagram (treated) of SORE with LIP MAN

12a    What minister regularly does, fine sort entertaining queen? (6)
{PREACH} – what a minister regularly does in a church is derived by putting an exceptionally attractive person (fine sort) around (entertaining) R (Regina / queen)

14a    Police concerned with university left to block entrance (8)
{REGULATE} – a verb meaning to police is created from a two-letter word meaning concerned with or about followed by U(niversity) and L(eft) inside (to block) an entrance – this time police is a noun in the clue and a verb in the answer

15a    Send abroad ace having love for European (6)
{EXPORT} – a verb meaning to send goods abroad is derived from an ace or specialist with an O (love / a score of zero in tennis) in place of the second E(uropean)

17a    Delight shown in place with comfort (6)
{PLEASE} – a verb meaning to delight (indicated as a noun!) is a charade of PL(ace) and a synonym for comfort

20a    Break from popular part of festival? (8)
{INFRINGE} – a verb meaning to break is a charade of a two-letter word meaning popular and part of a festival, particularly the one in Edinburgh

22a         Wise person after party getting medicinal measure (6)
{DOSAGE} – put a wise person after a two-letter word for a party to get a medicinal measure

23a         I get ace pot for cooking dish (7,3)
{COTTAGE PIE} – an anagram (for cooking) of I GET ACE POT gives a dish made from minced beef and mashed potatoes

24a         Small article from Grasse among peripheral items of perfumery (4)
{PUNY} – to get a word meaning small or undeveloped put the French indefinite article (article from Grasse) inside (among) the outside letters (peripheral items) of PerfumerY

25a         Sickly lad around start of week showing pale colour (6)
{ALMOND} – put an anagram (sickly) of LAD around the shortened form of the first day (start) of the week to get a pale colour

26a         Maritime guide around edges of harbour getting exciting work (8)
{THRILLER} – put a lever for turning a rudder (maritime guide) around the outside letters (edges) of HarbouR to get this exciting work of fiction


1d           Congestion tolerated close to festive social gathering (8)
{JAMBOREE} – a charade of a traffic congestion, a verb meaning tolerated and the final letter of (close to) festive gives a large and lively social gathering

2d           Joint or cut of pork needed (4)
{KNEE} – this joint is hidden inside (cut of) the last two words of the clue

3d           Free like a poodle? Not initially (6)
{LAVISH} – an adjective meaning free or bountiful is created by drop[ping the initial letter from an adjective meaning like a poodle or servile (as mentioned in the comments, like Blair to Bush!)

4d           Out to lunch, a girl improvised song (8)
{MADRIGAL} – combine a three-letter word meaning out to lunch or crazy with an anagram (improvised) of  A GIRL to get a song for several voices, especially one of the Renaissance period, typically unaccompanied and arranged in elaborate counterpoint

5d           By implication, learns nothing in US city? (3,7)
{NEW ORLEANS} –the first word of this US city is acting as an anagram indicator for RLEANS, in order to give the LEARNS in the clue – O is then inserted (nothing in) to get the answer

6d           Perform better than university volunteers in autumnal period (6)
{OUTACT} – a verb meaning to perform much better on stage than another thespian is created by putting U(niversity) and the UK’s volunteer fighters inside one of the autumn months (autumnal period)

8d           Leave exercise held up in river (6)
{DEPART} – a verb meaning to leave is derived by putting Physical Exercise reversed (up in a down clue) inside (held … in) a river in Devon

13d         Normal appeal in piano playing — or unsettling presence? (10)
{APPARITION} – put a word meaning normal and a two-letter word for (sex) appeal inside an anagram (playing) of PIANO  to get an unsettling presence

16d         Grandee disturbed about English traitor (8)
{RENEGADE} – put an anagram (disturbed) of GRANDEE around (about) E(nglish) to get a traitor or turncoat

18d         Manipulate one instrumental in bridge construction? (8)
{ENGINEER} – a double definition where the verb (manipulate) and the noun (one instrumental in bridge construction) are from the same root

19d         Side largely with drug — and provider of drink? (6)
{TEAPOT} – combine the first three letters (largely) of a sporting side with a slang word for cannabis to get a vessel in which I make a brew every morning – in my house there is a choice of Assam, Ceylon, Darjeeling, Earl Grey, Kenya, Lapsang Souchong or Breakfast Blend, all from Waitrose and none of them in bags!

21d         Head for pasta (6)
{NOODLE} – a double definition – a slang word for the head and very thin long strip of pasta eaten with a sauce or in a soup

22d         Grim study almost embraced by hardline Conservative (6)
{DREARY} – an adjective meaning grim is created by putting most of a verb meaning to study inside a hardline Conservative (where an ineffectual or feeble one is known as a wet)

24d         Game explorer (4)
{POLO} – a double definition – a game played by two teams of four mounted on horseback and a famous  Venetian explorer (1254–1324)

This one left me with a severe attack of the grumps!

The Quick crossword pun: {hide} + {ranger} = {hydrangea}

89 comments on “DT 26718

  1. Quite enjoyed todays crossword. In particular 15a, 20a and 19d. Struggled a little at first with 24a and 24d but got there eventually. Not convinced that my answers to 12a and 3d were correct until checking the blog.

  2. We managed this in rather better time than usual for a Thursday; some of the answers coming more by instinct than reason, initially at least. Quite like 24a, though blanched when I first saw the length of the clue for a 4 letter answer. Assume that we got the right answer for 3d, but cannot claim to understand it.

  3. Good morning Dave, I must say I found this really hard in parts today, with some clues worthy of a toughie as far as I was concerned, e.g. 22d, 3d and several others, once again we have the seemingly new style of shortening words to make a clue fit, I’m sure when I started doing these just over two years ago there was very little if none of this around, is it some new way of just making a clue fit? I really dont like it e.g. in 19d surely there was a better way of clueing ‘tea’ , finished without the hints but using all necessary ‘aids’, lookinf forward to reading blog, thanks Dave :-)

  4. Thanks to setter and to BD. No particular favourites today, although when I saw the six sequential letters of the alphabet at the top of the puzzle I was hoping it might continue all the way round!

    1. How dull am I, I was looking for the Nina today, as the grid is the same as yesterday and didn’t notice the six letters at the top!

        1. J2O is recommended when recovering from “a severe attack of the grumps”. If that doesn’t work try a nice cup of tea of your own choice! Or maybe something stronger? :grin:

  5. Not overly difficult today but with a lot of thought needed. For some reason I can’t explain, I didn’t enjoy this too much, perhaps it was the length of some of the clues given. Did anyone (like me) solve 3D by seeing the word POODLE and immediately think Tony Blair?

  6. This one will have to wait until I get to the airport. Probably won’t get on here while in the UK so see you all again on Sunday 4th, and some of you in Derby on Saturday I hope.

    I can recommend today’s Toughie by Petitjean as it’s very amusing in places, but you will need your ‘slightly mad hat’ as gnomey once said!

  7. Fun one today. Filled in 5d as the us city but no idea how the clue works. Bit of an anagram with learns and zero maybe but the first word is a mystery?

      1. Strictly speaking I think the only way this clue works is with NEW as the anagram indicator with the fodder being LEARNS + O (nothing) as a reverse indirect anagram, rather than O being inserted. That is rather tough for a back pager.

        1. I agree it is tough for a back pager external, I thought three or four fell into that category today

      1. Re the first word – could it be – ‘ learns nothing (new)’ because by implication you already knew (new) Orleans

  8. I’ve found this very difficult and it’s taken me much longer than usual – closer to 4* for me today – maybe just having an off day as most others don’t seem to have had much trouble, except maybe Mary. I’ve finally finished without needing the hints but can’t make any sense at all of what I have for 13d – perhaps it’s wrong!! I never think of 21d’s as pasta although I suppose they are – associate them more with Chinese and SE Asian food – yum! I liked 20 and 25a and 1 and 4d. With thanks to the setter and BD.

      1. Thank you – I got the “par” bit but so often forget that “it” can be appeal! I’m grumpy today too – don’t know why but can’t really blame the crossword as I was grumpy as soon as I woke up and hadn’t even SEEN the crossword then. :sad:

    1. Kath – I found it extremely difficult and couldn’t have finished without the hints! Also needed them to explain some of my answers, which I couldn’t do myself – so you are not alone! Fact that I’ve been at a funeral to-day probably didn’t help – a friend of my own ag – makes you start to think!!

    1. I agree whole heartedly. I still can’t work out what the answer to 18d has to do with the clue!

      1. To engineer is to manipulate and Brunel, for example, was an engineer.

        What I didn’t like about it was that a good double definition has two entirely separate meanings like “Manipulate old Indian wicketkeeper” – that one is especially for Rishi!

  9. It’s been a funny old crossword week – there was a time with this one when I thought I was actually going to have to put it down to ‘cogitate’ but I perservated and ended up in a reasonable time. I had spotted the J 2 O but wasn’t quite sure what it was all about. Thanks to the setter and BD.

    As Pommers says, you will need Gnomey’s slightly mad hat for the Petitjean and start looking at the RH side first, but it’s worth a perservate.

      1. It wasn’t the most difficult toughie (it took me the longest time this week, but that’s relative!) and I have known Petitjean be much more fun.

  10. what is the ‘for’ doing in 23a Dave, shouldn’t it come after the ‘cooking’ or is ‘for cooking’ all part of the anagram indicator?

    1. Mary

      ‘for cooking’ is the anagram indicator, in other words the letters ‘I get ace pot’ (are) for cooking.

  11. I thought that this was an awful XWD – guessed it was NOT RayT.

    Only faves : 9a, 23a, 26a, 1d, 19d & 22d.

    Looking forward to better fare from The Don tomorrow!!!

    1. Hi Derek, I didn’t think it was awful, just hard in parts and sometimes I’m quite glad not to get a RayT on a Thursday ;-)

      1. Hi Mary! Nice to hear from you again!
        Read BD’s comments on the clueing to the puzzle – there is a complete mix-up of verbal and nominial meanings which leads to unfair readings!
        Rufus never does this on a Monday – his clues are pristinely fair.

        I forgot to mention in my posting that the weather here in NL continues to be sunny – just in case anybody is coming over to this side of the North Sea.
        It is nearly December and this weather is exceptional. Sinter Klaas next week!

            1. Correction – Sinterklaas is celebrated in Holland on 5th. December (pakjesavond) and on 6th. December in Belgium on St.Nicolas’s nameday.
              Old Christmas Day is in January.

        1. When I went to see the vicar about the arrangements for my mum’s funeral, his wife reeled off a list of available tea varieties which makes BD’s list look tiny. I had terrible trouble convincing her that I only wanted a cup of plain brown ‘ordinary’ tea. :)

        2. I read somewhere that teabags were invented by Thomas Lipton to use up the dust swept up from the floor of the packing factory!

          Wikipedia credits it, of course, to an American.

          1. But didn’t they invent everything? Tea bags, computers, the web, WWI, WWII, sliced bread, the wheel, steam engines to name but a few

  12. Well I use the how much have I done in an hour scale to measure the difficulty of crosswords. After an hour on yesterday’s 3 star puzzle I’d done it all but. 2 clues. Today’s one starrer – 11 clues completed. Ho hum.

    My record is one hour spent on the Sunday Times Mephisto with 1 clue completed.

      1. I think it’s a which head did I put on this morning thing for me. I do find the 1* accreditation a quick route to a slow puzzle for me. 2* slow also – 4* are simple for half of them and then brick wall time. So 3* my favourite. Haven’t seen a 5* one yet.

        1. Several Toughies get awarded 5*, but it is rare for a back-page puzzle. For me that would mean a puzzle where I lost all my bonus points on Telegraph Puzzles!

            1. I got the HR immediately, I already had the initial T so the rest was easy. It’s very difficuly for two people to compare thought processes. We offer the difficulty rating as a guide, but please remeber that it is based on the reviewer’s experience of the puzzle. If I were able to solve puzzles as fast as Times Champion Mark Goodliffe (three difficult puzzles in the final in under 30 minutes for four consecutive years), they would all be 1* !!

  13. A lot more difficult than 2* for me. Also, I thought the 1* rating for enjoyment was a bit harsh!

    You learn something new every day. After 40+ years of doing cryptics, I now discover that if a word is a noun in the clue it shouldn’t be a verb in the answer and vice versa. Better late than never! Who set the rules?

  14. On the who.e I enjoyed today with some clever clues. Sooooooo much better than the usual Thursday fare from you know who! Best clue for me was 7a, took a while to get it but very clever. Trickiest was 26a, needed the hints for this one. Thx to BD and the setter for a good thursday puzzle. Mind you, for me any Thursday without a Ray T is enjoyable

  15. A bit trickier than most recent puzzles. Failed with 3d, and thought 19d clue showed lack of imagination with the tea(m) part.

  16. This was a fairly enjoyable puzzle, I thought – I needed the hints to confirm my thinking for 20a and 26a, and also to put me on the right track for 3d, but the rest of it was do-able without assistance.
    I appreciate the explanations for 12a, 4d, 5d and 22d – four answers I put in that sorta looked right, even tho’ I couldn’t entirely explain why. Not sure I like 5d, now it’s been explained.
    Fave clues: 15a and especially 19d, which did make me smile.
    I’d give it a pair of 3s…hope Ray’s back next week! 8)

  17. Best puzzle of the week so far in my view with some clever clues. I did not finish it – got stumped on 1d, 3d and 12a. A good brain work-out and it took me ages to get 11a too.

  18. I also found this one tricky and found the clues really helpful. That is when I eventually managed to get the crossword. Have they had another lightning strike? Impossible to get in between 5am and 7am the last two days and today is no better. It really puts me in a foul mood for the rest of the day as I do like my morning routine

  19. Agreed – 5 – 7 is exactly the time that the site should be online so working folk can print them off prior to leaving in the morning – I have been buying the paper at the new inflated price the last few days.

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