DT 26735 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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DT 26735

Daily Telegraph Cryptic No 26735

Hints and tips by Falcon

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BD Rating – Difficulty **Enjoyment ***

Greetings from Ottawa where we are having a run of unseasonably mild weather – it may be shaping up to be a green Christmas. Today Jay delivers his typical offering of solid, well constructed clues. I gave it two stars for difficulty as I completed it with minimal outside assistance (despite there being a couple of new British terms for me).

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.


2a Excess fat gets bras out of shape and causes astonishment (12)
{FLABBERGASTS} – unwanted body fat followed by an anagram (out of shape) of GETS BRAS creates a verb that means amazes or astonishes.

8a Grim smell with no discernible origin (4)
{DOUR} – remove the first letter (origin) from a distinctive smell to get an adjective denoting stern or sullen.

9a Make a mental note of list (8)
{REGISTER} – one part of this double definition is a verb meaning make an impression on or be recorded in the mind and the second a written list or record of names, events, etc.

10a Area with no boundaries — note to call on the way to bed (8)
{RETIRING} – to get another way of saying “hitting the hay”, start by stripping the outer letters (with no boundaries) from (a)RE(a), then add a musical note (one that goes well with jam and bread) and a verb meaning to contact by telephone.

11a Confirm shaft must contain suitable return (6)
{RATIFY} – a word meaning to give formal consent to (a treaty, for example) is produced by a shaft of light around a reversal of a three letter word meaning suitable to a purpose.

12a Instrument for deciphering Cretan icon (10)
{CONCERTINA} – an instrument that is in essence a small accordion is also an anagram (deciphering) of the final two words in the clue.

13a Intimidating woman’s long haul in operation (6)
{DRAGON} – a colloquial term for a frighteningly domineering woman is the sum of a word meaning to haul with effort and difficulty plus an adjective denoting working or functioning.

16a Carpet made from skin by head of class (5)
{CHIDE} – a synonym for reprimand or scold is formed from the first letter (head) of C(lass) followed by the the skin of an animal, especially when tanned or dressed.

17a One shoots beer drinkers drinking last of ale (6)
{CAMERA} – shots taken by this shooter might be posted to Facebook. The solution appears when what is reputedly “the largest single-issue consumer group in the UK” swallows the last drop of al(E).

18a Regret a pun that’s tricky but novel! (4-6)
{PAGE-TURNER} – the anagram indicator is not novel (but is tricky) and suggests that the first three words of the clue could become a book that is hard to put down.

21a Ship carrying white wine causes a sensation (6)
{SHOCKS} – the definition is “causes a sensation”. It consists of the abbreviation for a steam ship around a British term for a dry white wine from the German Rhineland.

23a Left mother in risky act of prayer (4,4)
{HAIL MARY} – a prayer used chiefly by Roman Catholics is L(eft) plus a short form of mother all contained in an adjective which can mean dangerous, frightening or exciting.

24a England manager with girl — one man who’s a control freak! (8)
{SVENGALI} – I’m not familiar enough with English football to know if this Swedish-born former England manager was a control freak or not. However, if we take a diminutive of his name and add to it another term for a girl plus the Roman numeral for one, we get a fictional character who has become the epitome of a control freak.

25a Digital protection for pin (4)
{NAIL} – the name of the protective growth on the ends of our ten digits is also something that looks like a fairly substantial pin.

26a One’s instinct is developed but haphazard (12)
{INCONSISTENT} – an adjective describing someone who does not always act in accordance with the same principles is an anagram (is developed) of the first two words of the clue.


1d Cheer for the Spanish in brother’s dance (6)
{BOLERO} – place a cheer traditionally heard at bull fights in an informal term for brother to get this traditional Spanish dance.

2d Nut or tomato, for example, on something baked (9)
{FRUITCAKE} – although either end of this clue could serve as the definition, it is found at the front. A slightly mad person (or a bit of Christmas baking) is a charade of what a tomato is an example of followed by a less specific term for the aforementioned type of baked good.

3d More dismissive of broadcast that’s finally over (6)
{AIRIER} – a word meaning flippant is the sum of what is (according to Chambers) a North American term meaning to broadcast on radio or television plus a shortened form of that’s plus the final letter of (ove)R.

4d Exclude winning golf shots — they’re used to get concessions (10,5)
{BARGAINING CHIPS} – something which can be used to advantage in negotiations is a charade of a word meaning to prevent (someone) from entering plus a word denoting winning or achieving plus a short high shot in golf.

5d Right deal includes a good supplier of clobber (3,5)
{RAG TRADE} – the clothing business may be R(ight) plus a synonym for deal all wrapped around the combination of A (from the clue) and the mark that an average student might see on an assignment.

6d A complete collection, including last of series, is a thing of value (5)
{ASSET} – start with A (from the clue) plus a full complement of pieces needed for a particular activity. Into this, insert the last letter of (serie)S to get something that is considered valuable or useful.

7d French turn up supporting pedigree amphibian! (4,4)
{TREE FROG} – this arboreal amphibian is a a genealogical table on top of (being supported by in a down clue) FR(ench) plus a reversal of a turn in a game.

14d Flat section in area — people start tipping (9)
{APARTMENT} – a section inside a charade of A(rea) plus a synonym for people (one that some people may think does not encompass all the people) plus the starting letter of T(ipping) produces the name by which a flat is known in North America.

15d Where one may get off scot-free? (3,5)
{TAX HAVEN} – a cryptic definition of a place where one could avoid paying scot (I wonder if such places existed in the days when this term was in vogue). By the way, scot is an archaic term for a type of taxation.

16d Does better with bronzes and winches on ship (8)
{CAPSTANS} – these winches on ships (or spindles in tape recorders) are formed from a charade of the plural form of a verb meaning to improve on or outdo someone or something plus the plural form of another verb denoting taking on a bronze colouration from basking in the sun.

19d Pair, say, up in pain (6)
{TWINGE} – a verb meaning to pair or match combined with a reversal (up) of a shortened form of a Latin expression meaning for example produces a sudden sharp stabbing or shooting pain.

20d Bug? (6)
{EARWIG} – this must be double-double definition. Not only does the solution have two different meanings, but they are each defined by different meanings of the single word clue. The name of a voracious garden pest is also a British term meaning to eavesdrop on a conversation.

22d Is unable to love melody in music (5)
{CANTO} – the solution is a musical term but I will leave it to those more musically inclined than I to determine if it means melody. The wordplay is a contraction meaning is unable to (3’1) plus a very disappointing score in tennis.

I would say my favourite clue was 1a. It made me wonder if Jay might be drawing inspiration from Ray T. I did consider throwing in an illustration – but the image it conjured up was not very pretty. Also, I must say that I always have a feeling of immense satisfaction when I am able to crack clues like 24a and 20d (with their particularly British references and connotations).

The Quick crossword pun: {hawser} + {lauds} = {House of Lords}

63 comments on “DT 26735

  1. A most enjoyable puzzle today – thanks to Jay for a plethora of good clues, and to Falcon for the review.

    Re 14d – The hint requires the explanation for the 4-letter synonym for ‘section’.

  2. I must have been off-tune this morning because it took me quite a while to finish, probably due to last night’s insomnia. Solid enjoyable fare, thanks to setter and retriever.

  3. Very enjoyable with some super clues. On first run through, I only managed 3 of the across clues but the down clues proved more prolific. After that, the rest went in quite easily. Many thanks to Jay, and to Falcon for the review.

  4. I was very slow in getting 2a this morning and hence the first run through resulted in just 4 entries made. Once the penny dropped the remaining answers just flowed in. I particularly liked 24a and 23a also raised a smile.

  5. Typical Jay for me. After first read through of the Across clues, I had a total of 2! This was followed by 4 of the down clues, after that everything fell into place. I thought 4 down was a particularly well crafted clue.

    Went to get my paper this morning in almost pitch darkness (9:00am), ten minutes after I got home, it was blowing a hoolie and snowing, now its bright sunshine. And people wonder why us Brits talk about the weather a lot!

  6. Another fine puzzle – its been a good week so far. Both 2a and 2d went in straight away so the rest was fairly easy. Favourite was 7d which was last in and gave me a giggle. Also liked 16d 18 23 and 24 [Ex -surely?]. I presume this was Jay’s work so thanks to him.

  7. Usual time for a Jay and I did enjoy myself. My favourites, partly because of the fun and partly because of a d’oh moment were 2a, 17a and 20d. Thanks to Jay for the fun and Falcon for the review.

    The Beam Toughie has quite a wicked glint (or should that be Beam?) about it. It is well worth giving it a try, yes even you people who have trouble with his alter ego, Ray T, because it is great fun to solve.

    Off now to the office Christmas lunch – I may be back later – or as I don’t have to drive today – I may not :D

    1. One of the very few things that I remember from history at school is a tax called “scot and lot” – think it may have had something to do with voting but not sure (and haven’t got time to look it up now!) :smile:

  8. For me a 5 star for difficulty, almost totally incomprehensible! Shame after two quite nice puzzles. I do hope tomorrow isn’t a Ray T day.

    1. Hi Falcon, later checking in today and unlike most of the rest of you I have found this tough today, my mind not quite with it as I have a sick ‘other half’ at home with serious chest infection we spent most of yesterday afternoon at the hospital getting xrays and blood tests for which we were told the results would be at least ten days!! as they are running behind, they rush you up as a matter of priority then you have to wait!!! Anyway I found this quite tough going and relied on your help for about six clues, thanks for that, only clue I really liked was 2d, I thought the reading of 10a was awful, unless I’m missing something and also 7d!

      1. Hi Mary,

        Sorry to hear that you are dealing with family medical issues. I hope the situation is resolved quickly and favourably. I think medical facilities the world over operate the same way. You are expected to wait “patiently” – never knowing if you will be called in five minutes or five hours.

        Having just completed another of Jay’s puzzles (DT 26663 which was published today in Canada in the National Post – it originally appeared in the DT on September 21), I wonder if I may have been a bit severe with my marking on today’s puzzle. Pommers gave the previous puzzle 2* for difficulty and 4* for enjoyment. I would say that today’s puzzle was more difficult and equally as enjoyable (if not more so).

        [If anyone read my earlier bizarre comments regarding 10a and 7d, I was looking at the wrong puzzle when I wrote them.]

        1. Hi Falcon

          Don’t know about you but I give the difficulty rating purely from my solving time. Don’t normally bother with timing and rarely sit down and finish a puzzle in one go – there’s usually something that interrupts. But for blogging at least it gives me a basis to give a rating.
          I think enjoyment is purely personal. I thought this a pretty entertaining puzzle but not, I think, one of Jay’s very best.

          1. I have tried to be somewhat objective and base my evaluation on the number of clues remaining unsolved at the point where I start to use electronic aids (such as synonym finders, anagram solvers, and tools that generate lists of words matching the checking letters). When blogging for Big Dave’s site, I feel I need to make an adjustment for Briticisms (expecting that solvers in the UK should not have difficulty with them). Of course, I am finding that as I gain experience I am able to progress further on my own, not to mention that my vocabulary of British expressions is rapidly growing. As a result, I may have to throw in yet another adjustment factor to compensate for this effect. All of which is to say that the rating scale quickly starts to become quite subjective.

            1. You should see some of the discussions about difficulty on my previous blogs! I think it is personal so that’s why I now opt just for the time. Problem with that is if I get stuck on a couple and have to cogitate a while then the time goes into 3 or 4 star when really the puzzle isn’t that hard, it’s just me being a bit word-blind!

              Hey ho! Can’t please all of the people etc!

      2. Hi Mary – really not sure where to put a reply to you!! Just wanted to say that I do hope your “other half” is feeling better soon. Not surprised that your mind wasn’t working properly today. :smile:

      1. Hi Mary, thx for that, hope your sick patient recovers in time for the festivities. The bugs going about at the moment do seem rather nastier than normal.

    2. I found this a tough one today as well. Mind you exhausted after looking after 2 year old grand daughter for the morning. Brain dead as all I can think of is Peppa Pig and by the way, doesn’t David Cameron look like Iggle Piggle from “In The Night Garden”!

    3. I logged on today to see if the difficulty I had with this was due to my bad head, or due to my putting ‘chip’ in for 25a. Now I’ve read the comments/clues, I think I agree with you Brian. Some days you just can’t ‘get on’ with a puzzle I suppose. Enjoyed 20d, but like Mary, thought the readings for 10a and 7d were hard going.

  9. Many thanks to Jay for an entertaining if untaxing crossword and to Falcon for the excellent review.

  10. The usual fine stuff from Jay – he very rarely disappoints!
    Lots of good clues but favourite has to be 20d, if only for the D’oh moment!
    Also liked 7d for its (intended?) use of the rather rude way of referring to a Frenchman when French is in the clue. At first I thought this might be part of the wordplay until I realized that Phil McNeil probably would’nt have allowed it!
    Thanks for the review Falcon and I agree with your 2* difficulty.

    1. I elected to tread carefully in my review, with the use of that particular epithet for a Frenchman being a more sensitive issue here in Canada than it likely would be in Britain.

      1. That hadn’t occured to me! I guess you’re not far from the French speaking parts of Canada so I don’t blame you for being careful. I’m sure your analysis of the clue is correct and I worked it out eventually but it was the epithet which first gave the the second word of the answer!

  11. Interesting that today was rated two stars; I really struggled to get started and didn’t enjoy it at all. Yesterday’s three star I breezed through in ** minutes with NO outside help (but I was familiar with all the words and phrases).

    1. Hi SJA,
      Your comment had to be moderated because you’ve changed your handle since your last comment – both should now work. Also, I’ve edited it slightly because we try to discourage the posting of solving times – just saying “very quickly” or “very slowly” is fine.

      1. Thanks Gazza
        I knew I’d posted before but couldn’t for the life of me remember what my handle was!
        Wasn’t boasting with my ** minutes solving time but ** is VERY quick for me!

  12. I loved this one – a perfect puzzle for me. It was difficult enough to make me think without being impossible and had some that made me laugh – 2a, 7d (even after I’d dissected the clue and realised that the “frog” wasn’t the “French” bit!) and 20d. Probably trickier than a 2* for me. I was very slow to start with, as is so often the case on Wednesdays, and only had a few answers in after the first read through, then it all got going and then I had a handful that took a while. Favourites today – the aforementioned three clues plus 23 and 24a and 4 and 15d. With thanks to Jay and Falcon.
    Arctic again today – going for dog walk, then home and light fire, wrap Christmas presents and then reward myself with a go at my favourite compiler’s toughie.

    1. Kath,
      I know how much you enjoy Ray T so I would really recommend you have a go at today’s Toughie by his alter ego Beam. It’s very amusing and really enjoyable.

        1. Thanks for both replies, Gazza – if you didn’t read to the end of my comment it’s probably my fault for “running on” a bit! :oops: I certainly intend to have a go at the toughie later but should probably do a few useful bits first, also need a bit of time for hands to thaw after second dog walk!

  13. In the took me a while to get a foothold camp today but once got going all fell into place at a steady pace. Favourites 1a and 7d. Thanks to Jay and Falcon

  14. Thanks to Jay for the puzzle and to Falcon for the review and hints. I liked this one, a few head scratching moments. Especially 18a, I was initially looking for a specific novel until the penny dropped. Favourites were 2& 17a and 2,4,7,16d.

  15. Took me a while to get going also today … couldn’t see the logic of 7d until I read the tip. I liked 17a.

  16. I too have found this a 5* puzzle. I worked out 22D but both Wiikpedia and Websters online do not have this words listed as anything other than seperator of a poem. What is one to do?!

    1. pommette is a musician and when I asked her if the word was to do with melody she instantly said yes, so in it went!

      I just checked the OED and the first definition is a song or ballad, from the Italian for song or singing. The second def is the division in a long poem!

      1. Whilst we are on the subject the Italian verb for To Sing is Cantare. The conjugation is as follows: canto, canti, canta, cantiamo, cantate, cantano.

        Physician heal thyself!

    2. Like you, I had difficulty finding this word online. Both the Chambers and Oxford websites list it only as meaning a section of a long poem. Collins gives an additional entry as another word for the second listed definition for cantus, which is the highest part in a piece of choral music. I didn’t think that the “highest part” was necessarily the same thing as the melody. However, being relatively unschooled with respect to music, I didn’t feel qualified to make anything more than a vague reference to this in my hint. Of course, I really should have consulted my big red tome, as The Chambers Dictionary, 11th Edition gives as one definition for canto: the part in a piece of music that carries the melody.

  17. I think I must be getting on to the Jay wavelength at last. After a pathetic first time through with only three answers in, I plodded on for a while, then took a break to make an aubergine curry. Did the spices clear my head, because I came back and finished quite quickly? I think I’ll try a quick sniff of turmeric, coriander, etc, next time I’m stuck and see if it’s the magic formula!

  18. Very enjoyable puzzle from Jay – gratie lei!
    Faves :11a, 17a, 23a, 24a, 2d, 4d, 7d, 15d & 16d.

    Got the DT very late today as had to wait all morning for the trombosedienst (thrombosis service) worker to come and check my blood INR – slightly thicker this month so shall wash down roast magret de canard with Grand Vin de Bordeaux to help thin it somewhat.

    Weather here in NL is a lot colder with drizzly rain. One week to go to the solstice!
    Ordered my fireworks for New Year!

  19. Didn’t find this easy but enjoyed it very much – due to other commitments had two goes at it – one over lunch and one about an hour ago. Second word of 4d took me ages (and me a golfer??!) but then that really helped with finishing SE corner, leaving a few blanks in NE corner, which suddenly fell into place. Couldn’t work out 7d – though I had it – so needed hints for explanation (though I’d had the second word in mind all along, for apparently all the wrong reasons!! Did think it a tad non-PC for the DT puzzle!) Favourites were 2d and 19d. Thanks to setter for an entertaining Wednesday and to Falcon for the explanations, which I thought mighty succinct, if I may say so!

  20. I have just finished, although I have not been at it all day. I did find it hard and would give it 3* although it was thoroughly enjoyable despite 1 or 2 ‘iffy clues eg. scot = tax. Hmm. I did refer to the hints on 4 clues for which, thanks, Falcon

    1. Sorry, can’t see anything wrong with using the word Scot for tax. It was a tax in ye days of yore and gives us the well known phrase Scot Free.

    1. I’m a paid up member and I had trouble with that one too! It’s only thanks to Falcon’s review I finished at all today: I really made a pig’s ear of it but thoroughly enjoyed myself all the same. If today was the rough, maybe tomorrow will be the smooth!

      1. Tomorrow may be a RayT, as we haven’t had one for a while, so he’ s due – anything but the smooth solve! I always find them on the harder side of tricky – sorry Brian!

  21. Trickier than the usual Wednesday offerings, I would say, but there were some clever clues in there – I liked 16a, 24a and 25a, plus 20d was quite good too.
    Going by comments, I think I’ll skip the Thursday puzzle and go straight to Friday in my little crossword catch-up… :)

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