DT 26781 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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DT 26781

Daily Telegraph Cryptic No 26781

Hints and tips by Digby

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

BD Rating – Difficulty */**Enjoyment ***

Thanks to Pommers and Big Dave, who both stayed up late, today’s Rufus puzzle awaited me in the early hours, and so normal service is resumed.  Like Mary, and many more of you, I do enjoy the gentle, flowing style that Rufus seldom fails to deliver.  This was no exception, though it fell into place quite quickly for me. How about you?

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.


1a           Children may be found playing it (4,3,4)
{HIDE AND SEEK} This classic child’s game usually starts with the expression “Ready or not, here I come!”

ARVE Error: need id and provider

8a           Poor consolation that’s found in a luxury igloo? (4,7)
{COLD COMFORT} An expression used to offer encouragement in the face of reverse could also describe what you would feel in one of these – not traditionally always made of ice, by the way.

11a         School which sets tone (4)
{ETON} Today’s chestnut – what would setters do without this famous learning establishment today clued by an anagram (sets) of TONE

12a         Heard I’d watched (4)
{EYED} A homophone (heard) of the second word = the third

13a         Corresponds with strikers (7)
{MATCHES} A double-definition, the second one produced by Swan Vestas and others. (Cricket, and wine, lovers might recognise John Arlott’s mellifluous tones in this clip).

ARVE Error: need id and provider

15a         Amenity activated on an unspecified date (7)
{ANYTIME} An anagram (activated) of AMENITY gives a word for today / tomorrow / sometime / never.

16a         Impressive marine animals? (5)
{SEALS} Before envelopes were invented letters were “closed” by these, and they are also to be found at sea.

17a         Insensitive one, for example, displays no hesitation (4)
{NUMB} We’re looking for a synonym for insensitive. Drop the last 2 letters of what one (or two, three etc) is.

18a         Agrees about lost times (4)
{AGES} Another deletion here – remove the abbreviation for about from AGREES to produce a description (usually historical) of times.

19a         A month to live, perhaps (5)
{MAYBE} Take the only month that typically doesn’t get abbreviated, add a word meaning to live, and perhaps you’ll get the answer.

21a         A land is devastated by ancient Muslim warrior (7)
{SALADIN} Make an anagram (devastated) of the previous 3 words to get this well-known warrior.

22a         He helps those wishing to take cover (7)
{INSURER} This chap provides cover for your house, car, legs, voice………?

23a         They marked the passing of horse-drawn vehicles (4)
{RUTS} Nowadays vehicles leave tyre marks in the road, but once they made rather more indelible marks.

26a         The leading Catholic essayist (4)
{POPE} A double definition of he who is the leading Catholic , and an 18thc. English author.

27a         Parisian tour? (6,5)
{EIFFEL TOWER} The English spelling of this famous Parisian landmark.

28a         Unlawful gatherings? (6,5)
{STOLEN FRUIT} It was called scrumping in my day – this is a more formal expression for the taken produce of an orchard.


2d           Trickster admitting his image? (4)
{ICON} How a trickster might describe himself is also used to define a mega-star.

3d           Suffers, made to conclude certain changes are needed (7)
{ENDURES} This word for suffers is made (3,4) from a synonym for conclude and an anagram (changes) of another  word for certain.

4d           One is distracted by northern light (4)
{NEON} I had this one back-to-front initially. We’re looking for a kind of light, formed by N(orthern) and an anagram (distracted) of ONE.

5d           Calms frequently seen on board (7)
{SOFTENS} Embed a synonym for frequently inside the traditional abbreviation for ship.

6d           Big lake rising in S Ireland (4)
{EIRE} Take one of the Great Lakes and reverse it (rising in a down clue) to derive how the Irish Republic is also known.

7d           They preach remorse with sins, perhaps (11)
{SERMONISERS} An anagram (perhaps) of REMORSE and SINS produces these preachers of the Gospel. Memories of Sunday School!

8d           Intend to deceive a model (11)
{CONTEMPLATE} A charade (3,8) of a term meaning to deceive, and a pattern used to produce a design, combine to form a synonym for intend.

9d           Mistake made by a key worker (6,5)
{TYPING ERROR} I’ve made several of these this morning – thanks goodness for spellchecker!

10d         Advisers are represented on opposing sides (11)
(ADVERSARIES} Make an anagram (represented) of the first 2 words in the clue to produce these opponents – such as Dave and Ed in the House of Commons?

14d         Seat of battle? (5)
{SEDAN} A double-definition of a seat, or litter, and this 1870 skirmish in the Franco-Prussian War.

15d         Bail arranged by one giving a reason for innocence (5)
{ALIBI} This “cover story” offered to police is made up of an anagram (arranged) of BAIL followed by I (one).

19d         Wary, I’m raising new fund with a pound (7)
{MINDFUL} Construct this word for wary by reversing (raising) I’M, followed by an anagram (new) of FUND, and finally the pound symbol (as in £sd).

20d         Delight from being in love with the French language (7)
{ENAMOUR} Following 27a we get another flavour of France with a “translation” (2,5) of an expression for “being in love”. Which is, of course, to delight.

24d         In a way, provided riddle (4)
{SIFT} Place a word meaning provided inside the standard abbreviation for way and we get a verb meaning to riddle.

25d         Family blunders? Not half (4)
{CLAN} Start with a word for blunders and drop the last 4 letters to arrive at a (mainly Scottish) term for family.

26d         Spirit used in experiment (4)
{PERI} This fallen angel is to be found inside the last word of the clue.

This was a nicely balanced puzzle I thought. Though it contained 12-four letter words, they were all fairly clued, but as ever I’d love to hear your views.

The Quick crossword pun: {Suffolk} + {eight} = {suffocate}

158 comments on “DT 26781

  1. A nice gentle start to the week. No real problems for me today. My favourites were 8a,8d & 28a. Thanks to Digby for the review.

    1. Digby, obviously you were able to get your copy early enough today notwithstanding the weather. No weather problems here in Bristol, just a bit chilly.

  2. I do find these Rufus crosswords quite strange – not that I mind; they’re lots of fun to do and full of odd d’oh moments – I just find them oddly weird……. cannot quite put my finger on why! Thought 15a would have been two words not the one. Chambers has it as two words, but maybe I’m being petty!! Favs were 8a, 13a, 6d and 19d – Good start to the day….. :-)

    1. Unlike the Boomtown Rats I /do/ like Mondays – what a pleaseant way to start the week with a puzzle that wasn’t too taxing but was still enjoyable.

      Must say I think of 15a as one word myself.

      Favourites were the fours that made the ‘main square’ – 8a and 8d, 9d and 27a.

      Didn’t like 28a – felt contrived.


  3. Straight through today with no problems (which makes a nice change). Thanks to Digby for a great review. Clear the last of the snow from the car now!!

  4. I’ve seen 2d somewhere else recently but can’t think where. Usual gentle start to the week from Rufus and another excellent review from Digby so thanks to both.

    Planning to go to York next weekend, any bets on the weather improving. We’ve got thick snow on the ground and freezing fog here in West Bridgford. Lethal combination for driving and Mrs S wants me to e-mail our sons (28 & 26, that’s their ages not their names) at work to make sure they’re safe and sound. Do the words “apron strings” spring to mind?

    1. That’s not apron strings spindrif – just a mother’s natural tendency to worry about her loved ones. Tell her – well done I agree with her!!!

    2. I agree with Mrs S and Lea – OF COURSE she wants to know they’re safe – worrying is what mums do best of all. Whenever I start fussing around them our daughters tell me that there’s far too much border collie in me – I do like to have everyone rounded up!!

      1. As a father I tend to worry in the background while Mrs S is at the forefront in full on matrernal mode. Anyway I did as bade and both sons are esconced in their places of work although number two son is disappointed his school hadn’t closed due to the weather which means he still gets to teach 30 eight year olds .

  5. A few to think about here. Worked out 21a, but it isn’t in my version of ‘the bible’! Not really convinced by 23a. We have seen 16a recently as well I think. Thanks to Digby and Rufus.

  6. Comfortable start to a chilly week. Last in, and favourite, was 28A. Thanks to Digby and compiler.

  7. Morning Digby. Well, that was a pleasant solve over a very late breakfast due to watching the Superbowl last night.

    Not sure about 3d though – I thought setters weren’t supposed to make us do anagrams of a synonym!

    No real stand-outs for me today but I think 9d is worth a mention – excellent surface reading!

    Now to tackle Rufus in the Grauniad where I usually find him a little trickier.

    Thanks to Rufus and Digby.

      1. Hi Jezza

        I don’t think I’ve ever seen a clue before where we’re asked to do that, not even in the more Libertarian Grauniad – distinctly non-Ximenean IMHO!

      1. gazza could 3d just be obscurely clever because if you put the suffix ‘ure’ after a word it ‘changes’ it to an adjective? plural ‘ures’

    1. He was a little more tricky in the Grauniad today – but still very do-able – the odd lateral moment!

    2. It’s not the first time Rufus has pushed the boundaries. We had an indirect two letter abbreviation to be used in an anagram not so long ago. Can these transgressions be seen as minor when the synonyms/abbreviations are so obvious or is it just unfair? Not sure, but if this is a precedent for allowing less obvious indirect anagrams, I think it is a backward step.

  8. I really enjoyed this one. My mind went blank on the first read through, but once I got onto the right wavelength it all became clear. No clear favourites. Not sure I understand 24d totally, I got the correct answer, but is it a little used definition? Last one in was 28a – I had the first word, but couldn’t get beyond grain for the second word.
    Thanks to BD I could enjoy doing this with my early morning coffee.

      1. Thanks Mary, I got st bit, but have just never heard riddle used this way, although I guess ‘riddled with’ must come from a similar definition.

        1. I think to riddle meaning to sieve is often used by gardeners who riddle soil to get stones out of a seed bed. But what do I know, I’m no gardener!

        2. My Gran (bless her) always riddled her flour – never 24d! That would cost me a clip round the ear :-)

  9. Good morning Digby, thanks once again for an excellent blog, who are those people in the video for 1a?? Re 28a Digby, you have an extra ‘s’ in the answer? Once again so many clues I liked today fav 12a and 19a and so may others, having spelt 27a wrong got stuck on 25d! last one in, last part of 28a, enjoy everyone :-)

    1. Thanks Mary. Spell-check didn’t spot that one – now corrected.
      The group is Peter, Paul and Mary (Puff the Magic Dragon et al). Much beloved of The Head Blogger apparently!

      1. The words at the end of “Puff the Magic Dragon” used to make me cry – haven’t heard it for ages but probably still would!

        1. Me too, and my and I used to get very strange looks at junior school because I knew the lyrics to White Rabbits by Jefferson Airplane. Always blame(or not) the parents!

          1. If I knew how to put a video in I would but pommette’s not back yet! (Just key ‘white rabbit jefferson airplane’ into youtube and it comes up first.)
            Jefferson Airplane – sounds of my youth! Don’t you just love Grace Slick?
            Surrealistic Pillow a real WOW at the time.

            Is this it Pommers? (Digby)

            1. Not the same one but much better – thanks Digby, you’ve reminded me that I was young once! What a band they were and that Grace – Phew, what a voice!

              Also have a copy, on plastic, of ‘Bless it’s Pointed Little Head’ which I am now going to play for the first time in about 10 years!

  10. No real problems again today (but then there rarely is with a Rufus). Do I detect some new clue forms making an appearance (27A, 20D) ? No particular favourites, but always like to see the answer to 21A – takes me back to my childhood when being told he was the main enemy of the Crusaders, I could never help wondering why they had so much trouble against beating a bunch of lettuce, cucumber, radishes, etc.

  11. A most peculiar thing just happened on my computer, not seen it before, a small window opened saying, runtime error and ‘danced’ its way to the right hand bottom corner of the screen until there was a row of these little windows ,once in the corner it stopped and let me close it, weird!!!

        1. Hopefully it was just a glitch, but it may have been a nasty pop-up – some sites produce pop-ups which look like message boxes, but if you click on the buttons, they are actually a link which at the least will take you somewhere you don’t want to go. If you get any more, make sure you click on the red ‘x’ in the top right corner and nowhere else.

          1. thanks Alisons, that’s what I did and the little window went on a merry dance!! :-D , all seems ok now

  12. Very good puzzle but done too quickly and now will have to find something useful to do in the house – MUCH too cold to do anything else. Damn – looks like housework!! :sad:
    I hadn’t noticed the large number of four letter answers – they’re usually the ones that I have trouble with but not today. The word that I was thinking of for 23a didn’t fit with anything else, and isn’t a plural anyway!! The second word of 28a was my last one. I think my favourite clue has to be 25d. With thanks to Rufus and Digby.

  13. For the first time in ages I tackled the Monday puzzle having picked up a paper when I went to the bank. Over coffee I did half of it and just got home and finished it. Despite the number of four letter words (I’m with you Kath – I normally hate them) they were sensible and easy to solve. Can’t say I have any favourites but didn’t like 3d – agree with everyone else that it isn’t a good clue – had to read why and that made me dislike it even more.

    Snow is melting here so the drive and road outside are slush – heaven help us if it gets cold as it will then be just sheer ice.

    Thanks to Rufus and to Digby for hints.

  14. A nice if 1* difficult start to the cryptic week. As enjoyable as ever thank you Rufus. Thanks to Digby once again for an excellent review.

  15. I concur totally with Crypticsue, 1* difficulty and 3* enjoyment, thanks to Rufus and to Digby for the excellent blog.

  16. After many moons of trying, I have completed my first one.
    Must have been easy!

    Have had trouble trying to get you up on the computer in Evesham Library.
    Kept getting blocked; I assume they thought that Bigdave44, was going
    to send me to porn site.

    Now sorted.

    1. Well done Tom, that’s brilliant. And if it is any comfort, I have known a few more that were easier than that. Now that you have persuaded the library that BD’s site is a great place to visit, you should be finishing many more soon.

  17. 28a. Horrible clue, IOHO. Cracked it. But v.archaic idiom. The ‘forbidden’ variety, fair play… But this!? Come on! Nasty!

    1. Tend to agree with you there Russ. I put the answer in more in hope than anything else, because I had all the checkers, and was mildly surprised when the web site accepted it!

    1. Cricket? Still basking in the glow of Sunday’s rugby here and thinking England are bloody lucky that Scotland can’t score tries (although if you listened to the experts and read the reports it seems England just thrashed the All Blacks in a World Cup final).

  18. As most other people have said, nice easy but fun start to the week from Rufus. Several made me smile. Second half of 28a was my last in, as I hadn’t heard the phrase before, but it seemed to fit. Took me far too long to come up with the middle of 24d – we’ve had that often enough that I really should remember it by now!! Thanks to Rufus and Digby.

    (I still haven’t finished Friday’s Toughie, though I didn’t spend that much time on it over the weekend. I started off getting 3 or 4 quite easily, then just ground to a complete halt! I used the blog to get 1a & d, and then got a few more, but I think it just proves that I’m not quite up to the Toughies yet :) .)

    1. AlisonS, I still haven’t started last Friday’s Toughie – and never will – Elgar on a Friday? Too scary!

      1. I learnt a lot attempting that. Like, now I know I Can’t do it :-) Seriously, looking back, I can’t believe how many anagrams I missed. Actually solved 11 clues unaided.

        1. I also know that I can’t do toughies at all – let alone Elgar toughies – but when/if time permits I follow Gazza’s advice from a few weeks ago, which is:- have a go: when it all goes **** up look at the hints and put in the across clues and then, having done that, have another go at the downs. When completely screwed, read and understand the hints and, if you don’t understand any, ask. I haven’t got all that word for word but that is the gist of it.

          1. PS and don’t forget that it’s all in the mind!! If it’s called a toughie it’s all too easy to say “Well I’m not going to be able to do this” and give in far too quickly.

  19. Yes, a pleasant gentle one today, but there were two where I just put in the answer because it couldn’t be anything else but didn’t get the cryptic bit. These were 25d which I now follow, and 3d which was a clue I don’t really approve of even now I get it. Favourite was 9d.

    1. Hello Tiny Dave – if this is your first visit, then a very warm welcome from all at BigDave44. If you have just changed your email address, then you are still very welcome! 3d has srtirred up a minor storm, and we hope to add some background to this later on.

  20. Thanks to Rufus & Digby for the review & hints. Was sorry when it was over, a nice puzzle to start the week. Couldn’t get the second word of 28a, had to use the hint, then was able to get 20d. Apart from that, I found the rest quite straightforward. Favourites were 1& 8a.

  21. Very good solve on train today. Did on one go but SE corner had me foxed for a while., Hot 27a no problem and first word of 28a, in fact second word so slow coming I began to think I was barking up the wrong tree. Hardly cryptic save for thinking of the other gathering (meeting or party) Don’t we pick fruit and gather flowers? Happy with everything else Inc. 23a which I thought good with the dual meaning of passing. I wanted to put in plan for 25d thinking of family planning gone wrong but saved myself in time. Agree with others about the 4 letter words. In this case there seemed to be a number of words which would fit but once you got there there was no room for doubt. Thais setter, Digby and bloggers whose comments I enjoy

  22. Hello all, Telegraph Crossword Editor here.
    Thanks for all the interest in the secondary anagram in 3d. I did make a note of it when editing the puzzle but I thought it would be interesting to let it go in. After all, it’s very solvable, and if a compiler who has set two million clues thinks it’s OK, why not?
    Usually, on the rare occasions that a setter tries to get one through, I ask them to change it, though I may have let one through before. (I think it was by another massively experienced compiler, Nuala Considine.)
    I usually tell setters that “We don’t allow this” (as, for instance, when a compiler wants to split up an abbreviation and chuck it into an anagram).
    But to be honest that always feels quite arbitrary. We don’t have any instructions written down for Telegraph compilers apart from a brief note by Val Gilbert, who edited the crosswords for 30 years up to 2006 — and even that note wasn’t passed on to me.
    Nor are there any rules that solvers can refer to. In reality there are no rules apart from what the editor thinks is fair.
    I don’t want to speak for Roger here but I don’t think he’s a great one for rules — he does what works and what’s entertaining. I also get the impression that we (setters, editors and solvers) adhere to rules more than used to be the case. As it happens we are republishing Roger’s very first Telegraph Cryptic to celebrate his 80th birthday (it will be on the back page on Mon Feb 20, two days before his birthday) so it will be interesting to see whether that plays by the rules.
    So we do have an unwritten rule about this but I just thought, let’s break it for once.
    All the best

    1. Sorry Phil, I think it might have been me that opened this can of worms here with comment #7!

      I really didn’t mind the clue as the required synonym is so obvious but I had an idea, for some reason, that the DT was a bit strict about this sort of thing – I must have missed the Excalibur you refer to.

      Looking forward to Roger’s first puzzle!



    2. Thanks for dropping by Mr Ed. I’m in the “Guidelines” rather than “Rules” camp and, as you say, Rufus is senior, respected and a one-off, so it it’s OK by him it will do for me.

    3. Interestingly, 1d in today’s FT Crossword by Dante is “Suffers, made to conclude sure change is needed (7)

    4. So when was his first puzzle published? I looked at some very old crossword puzzles at my brother-in-law’s place in France a couple of years ago. Tried to do them with my French sister-in-law – I think we managed about two clues between us. None of the usual “stuff” seemed to apply.

    5. I think that this is the thin end of a very unpleasant wedge.

      It might be easy enough to solve a four-letter indirect anagram (particularly where the clue is published elsewhere, on the same day, without ‘indirectness’), but that doesn’t make it fair.

      Many longer indirect anagrams are almost impossible to solve without many checking letters and a great deal of reverse-engineering.

  23. What a good crossword. Entertaining and in some respects challenging. If it has not already been written I particularly liked 16a and 18a – very clever. A nice start to the week

  24. Hi Digby

    Just watched the video for the Swan Vesta. I bet that ad would be banned nowadays and not for the cigarette but because if you go round shaking boxes of non-safety matches like that there’s a very small chance they might all ignite!

    Bet the ‘nanny-state’ brigade would outlaw it :roll:

        1. I do too but your last :grin: didn’t work because you did SEMIcolon first, instead of colon. I’ve done that lots of times and always feel stupid when the word itself comes up in the comments!! Keep trying! :grin:

            1. So glad you said that – thought I must have been seeing things! Being able to correct something is a bit of a cheat in my opinion! :grin:

    1. A box of Swan Vestas, an ounce of Old Holborn and a packet of Green Rizlas. Essential necessities when going to school in the ’60’s!

      Unfortunately, I’m still addicted! Don’t know why I started – after my first puff I looked like this ==> :mrgreen:

      1. Talking about Swan Vestas, this made me chuckle this morning, from the BBC live cricket feed:
        From George, Birmingham: “Regarding Geoffrey’s Uncle Algie [0853], I was waiting to bat, padded up and smoking cigar. Wicket falls , I put out cigar and go out to bat. First ball hit me on the thigh where I had left a box of swan vestas in pocket and the box immediately ignites along with flannels.”

        1. Shortly before we got married, Mr CS was playing in a cricket match while I was in the pub helping prepare the post match sausage and mushy peas. Rumours came down the lane that perhaps I should reconsider matrimony as he had sustained a nasty burn at the ‘top of his leg’ following a ball hitting his pocket with a box of matches in it. Luckily it wasn’t too bad but he never again played cricket without checking his pockets for matches first..

      2. I’m still addicted too, Franco! I started smoking when I first started my nursing training in 1967. ALL my friends smoked – I HAD to learn how to – I HATED it but it made me look a bit older and more sophisticated (or so I thought!!) 44 years on I’m still an addict! One of the great things about these meetings of crossword addicts is that lots, if not most, are smokers so you don’t feel like a social outcast, at best, or a criminal, at worst, as we do most of the time!! :sad:

        1. Kath, I’m very surprised to hear that you’re a smoker! Nice to know that there are at least two “social outcasts” on this blog!

          1. Just see what a 30 second video clip has brought to the surface! John Arlott must be having a quiet chuckle to himself.

            1. Digby, where did the inspiration for the “Matches” clip come from? Do you have shares in Bryant and May?

              An Aunt of mine who worked for Bryant and May many,many years ago once told me that they had bought out the patent for an “eternal match” – maybe not eternal but one that could be used over and over again.

              1. One of my earliest cricketing memories was listening to John Arlott describing the scene at The Oval – no need for TV with him at the mike! So the Swan Vestas ad was a favourite of mine, even though I didn’t, and still don’t, smoke.

                  1. It seems absolutely ages ago that I left a nice warm bed (and Mrs Digby) to prepare this review. So, if you don’t mind, Franco, I’ll return whence I came and Bookmark your clip to enjoy over a cuppa in the morning. It sounds very promising. Good night !!

  25. Hello – back again after a rather too close and horribly unexpected death in the family but am now trying to get back to normal and beginning to feel like blogging again. Enjoyed this one and finished relatively easily (with a little help from electronic friend!) Even with the hints, I confess I don’t really understand 27a – am I missing something here? Agree about 28a – would have put “goods” for the second word if I hadn’t had the checking letters. Also don’t understand the quibbles about 3d – didn’t ocur to me it was somehow “illegal” – probably because I solved it fairly quickly!! (Why do I have a green box keep appearing in my tool bar telling me “You have 1 iphone waiting” followed by a pink one which is now saying “congratulations”??????)

    1. Don’t touch the winning an i-phone thing with a barge pole. Just ignore it and eventuallty it will give up and go away.

    2. Hi Addicted and welcome back. Sorry to hear about your loss.

      27a – ‘Tour’ is French (Parisian) for tower and what tower do you know in Paris? That’s all there is to it.

      3d – This clue is not strictly Ximenean. To get the answer you first need to get a synonym for conclude and follow with another for certain, and then make an anagram of the second. That’s not really fair. It’s OK in this one because it’s a short word and such an old chestnut but what would it be like if you were asked to anagran a 7 or 8 letter synonym where you had a choice of 2 or 3? You’d be there all day going through the possibilities!

    3. Poor you, and your family – so sorry. Obviously have no idea what happened or to who (whom?) but I second what Digby says. We had a family tragedy nearly five years ago – if this blog had been around then I might have let off steam to people who were unaffected personally – so much easier to do that than to close family and friends. I suppose it shouldn’t be ….

      1. Thank you all for your good wishes, much appreciated. My school French (FAR too long ago to mention!) hadn’t extended to that but, in the middle of watching “Iron Lady” tonight, it suddenly occurred to me that that’s what it probably was!! Mush for brains currently. Thank you Pommers for the elucidation re 3d – yes, I take your point, a longer word would have you tearing your hair out, not just scratching your head! (Not sure if I actually “enjoyed” Iron Lady??? But Meryl Streep is terrific – so is the make-up!)

  26. P.S. I should add that, when it comes to judging what’s fair, I have an advantage over my predecessors, Val Gilbert and Kate Fassett — the existence of this website (which, by coincidence, started at the same time that I became crossword editor).

    The only problem is that it sometimes seems like I’m reading a different blog to the setters. If we go with a clue that I thought was iffy, the compiler will invariably say, “See, they thought it was OK on Big Dave” (looking at the people who loved it), whereas I’ll be thinking, “See, I said it was too hard” (looking at the people who hated it).

    Thanks again for the feedback.

    1. Digby and I discussed this clue by email and I suggested waiting to see what others thought about it rather than passing judgement.

      My own view is that it is the start of a slippery slope – at least the “no indirect anagrams” rule leaves no question as to where the dividing line is between fair and unfair.

      Ximenes wrote “I hate what I call an indirect anagram”, but went on to add “The indirect anagram, unless there are virtually no alternatives, hardly ever does [help the solver]” thereby leaving the door partially open.

  27. The usual pleasant start to the week from Rufus.
    Faves : 19a, 23a, 27a, 26a, 8d, 9d, 14d & 20d.

    Roast chicken and chips with salad tonight along with my last bottle of red Menetou-Salon.
    Am awaiting a delivery of Chinon as replacement.
    Burgundy is my real love in France plus the rosés of Provence.

  28. yes, thanks to Rufus for a gentle, entertaining start to the week, and to Digby for the review Lovely bright day here in Edinburgh, and warm enough to sit out in the park afterlunch.

  29. Hi, I spotted the indirect anagram straightaway, and was a little puzzled because I was convinced that this was outside of the “rules” that I expected to be able to follow when solving DT crosswords. Could raise doubts in the future if I’m struggling with a clue that looks like it contains an anagram, these doubts did not exist before today.

    One question though, are indirect anagrams “allowed” in the toughie?

    1. Hi Alan, Please see the DT’s Puzzle Editor’s comments at #26 above. My view is that “one size fits all”, whether Cryptic or Toughie. Only the degree of difficulty should differ.

    2. Hi Alan,

      Are there Rules? Who made the Rules? Rules are there to be broken!

      (Doesn’t apply to me – Unfortunately, I never notice such subtleties)

      1. Hi Franco

        You need to read all the other comments on the subject. Try this, not the best clue in the world but it makes a point and the best I can think of at short notice!

        Bomb, perhaps, arranged to get mad (7)

        There are 2 or possibly 3 answers to this that all fit the clue and are anagrams (arranged) of a particular type of explosive device (bomb, perhaps), which you have to think of! Is that fair play?

        1. Ximenes gives this example in his book

          Tough form of monster (5)

          From this you are expected to work out that the monster is a HYDRA and that HARDY is an anagram of it.

      2. The rules to which the vast majority of setters comply were laid down by Derrick Macnutt, better known as Ximenes, in his book “Ximenes on the Art of the Crossword”.

        At the time he wrote it (1966) many cryptic clues were almost unsolvable and he was largely responsible for the cryptic crossword being how we know it today.

        You say that rules are there to be broken, but without guidelines the result could be chaos. Rufus’s “breach” today may be only a small one, but then there will be another and another and who knows to where it will lead.

        It is the job of crossword editors to rein back on the excesses of setters and today has, in my opinion, been a very poor precedent.

          1. I have had several clues in submissions for NTSPP puzzles that contain indirect anagrams.

            My favourite of these, by Chaz, I briefly flirted with allowing, then common sense took back control.

            Confusing child with 80 winks and 7 author? (6,1,4)

            The answer is Philip K Dick, the author of the answer to 7 down and it is an anagram (confusing) of CHILD + KIP + KIP where KIP KIP is 2×40 winks.

  30. I would just like to say I enjoyed this because I managed to complete it with very little help. However, I have no idea what any of you are talking about regarding 3d! Seemed a reasonable clue to me!

    1. Good Evening Carline, and welcome.
      The debate around 3d centres on whether it’s a fair clue construction. In this instance I feel that it just acceptable because the answer is pretty obvious. Pommers sums it up in his remark, which I hereby copy to save you having to read every comment:

      “3d – This clue is not strictly Ximenean. To get the answer you first need to get a synonym for conclude and follow with another for certain, and then make an anagram of the second. That’s not really fair. It’s OK in this one because it’s a short word and such an old chestnut but what would it be like if you were asked to anagran a 7 or 8 letter synonym where you had a choice of 2 or 3? You’d be there all day going through the possibilities!”

      The DT Puzzles Editor also commented on this at #26. All good, clean, healthy and harmless fun!

        1. By the sound of it (and all the other comments) I think I must be the only one who thinks that is really rather clever. I especially like HYDRA being an anagram of HARDY (see comments above).

    2. Hi Caroline – I enjoyed it too and thought that 3d was a perfectly OK clue. I’ve been doing these crosswords for quite a while and have been following this blog ever since I (actually, if I’m truthful, my husband – even though he is not a crossword solver) found it about a couple of years ago. I’ve learnt SO much. I wouldn’t have noticed anything wrong with 3d but for all the hoo-ha. Now that it’s been brought up I do remember one of the bloggers (can’t remember who) saying that “indirect anagrams” did not have a place in the back page cryptic crosswords – that, to me at least, implies that the toughies have different “rules”. Who knows???

  31. Did it all very easily except for the second word in 26a which I was never going to get! Thanks Digby for the review.

  32. Yet again – what a lot of comments for a Monday. What a great blog this is – thanks, as always, to BD and crew! :smile:

  33. Pretty straightforward stuff on the whole – I agonised over the second word for 28a for quite some time (my last in), and went for ‘grain’ in the end. Having checked the answer, I don’t see why it should be ‘fruit’ over any other word that fits the checking letters.

    Agree also with the 3d-gate controversy – bit iffy, if you ask me.

    20d was my fave clue today – major, major d’oh moment for me and very beautiful cluing I thought! :)

  34. Mea Culpa! Apologies to all solvers, crossword editors and Digby. I realised I had used a similar clue in the FT for ENDURES recently and, when I got to clueing this for the DT, having already used my allowed quota of full anagrams, did break the unwritten but sensible rules by using an indirect anagram. I thought CERTAIN would be obviously SURE but, on reflection, I was a bit naughty.
    I promise never to use an indirect anagram again!

    1. Thanks Rufus, I did my best to exonerate you by finding an alternative explaination (not) above :-D , you are forgiven

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