DT 26812

Daily Telegraph Cryptic No 26812

Hints and tips by Gazza

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

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

This puzzle is a bit like Baby Bear’s bed, not too hard but not excessively soft. There are a couple of clues (21d for example) where the answer is fairly obvious but you have to think about the wordplay. Let us know how you got on.
If you found it more like Daddy Bear’s bed then you can reveal the answers by dragging your cursor through the spaces between the brackets under the clues.

Across Clues

1a  Leader, forceful and obstinately self-willed (10)
{HEADSTRONG} – a charade of the top person (leader) and an adjective meaning forceful or powerful.

6a  Hard to lose opening argument (4)
{TIFF} – drop (to lose) the opening letter of an adjective meaning hard or rigid to leave a minor argument.

9a  Shot, clerical dignitary, reportedly at social function (10)
{CANNONBALL} – this is a round projectile (shot). Join together what sounds like (reportedly) a member of the clergy attached to a cathedral and a formal social function involving dancing.

10a  Message about lake plant (4)
{FLAX} – the message is one scanned and transmitted by telecommunications. Put it around L(ake) to make a blue-flowering plant.

12a  Intelligence needed to secure right legal document (4)
{WRIT} – a synonym for intelligence or shrewdness goes round (needed to secure) R(ight).

13a  In New York, a sole cooked with onions (9)
{LYONNAISE} – a description of a dish cooked with onions comes from an anagram (cooked) of IN NY A SOLE.

15a  Prince about to broadcast back in capital (8)
{PRETORIA} – prince here requires a one-letter rather than two-letter abbreviation. Add a prefix meaning about or concerning, TO (from the clue) and a reversal (back) of a verb to broadcast. The result is a capital city.

16a  Old thriller writer taking stroll by river (6)
{AMBLER} – a stroll is followed by R(iver) to make the name of the English author who brought a gritty realism to spy novels and was a precursor of John le Carré.

18a  Spoil one married couple (6)
{IMPAIR} – a verb to spoil comes from I (one), M(arried) and a couple. Today’s old chestnut?

20a  Counter clean? Unfortunately it’s very sticky (8)
{BARNACLE} – something that’s very sticky in the sense of being difficult to detach is constructed from a counter (across which refreshments are sold) followed by an anagram (unfortunately) of CLEAN.

23a  Slim-waisted, rough foreign girl (9)
{HOURGLASS} – a description of a female figure that is slim-waisted but more ample elsewhere comes from an anagram (foreign) of ROUGH followed by a synonym of girl.

24a  Spell ‘vase’ after bit of tuition (4)
{TURN} – this is a spell in the sense of a stretch or tour of duty. A type of vase follows the initial letter (bit) of T(uition).

26a  Thing I encountered upon retirement (4)
{ITEM} – I is followed by a reversal (upon retirement) of a verb meaning encountered.

27a  In a bad way, PC teenager cut (10)
{PERCENTAGE} – this is a cut or fixed allocation. It’s an anagram (in a bad way) of PC TEENAGER.

28a  Takes it easy, to some extent, in position (4)
{SITE} – hidden (to some extent) in the clue is a position.

29a  Gangland controlled by society (10)
{UNDERWORLD} – the shady environment of criminal gangs comes from a preposition meaning controlled by or subservient to followed by a synonym for society or mankind at large.

Down Clues

1d  Stagger, having no head for wine (4)
{HOCK} – our word for any dry white wine from the Rhineland comes from a verb to stagger or astonish without its leading S (having no head).

2d  Trainer mostly worried about English racecourse (7)
{AINTREE} – an anagram of TRAINE(r) (mostly, i.e. without its last letter) goes round E(nglish) to make a racecourse in Merseyside.

3d  Limitations of concise US poet, it’s said (12)
{SHORTCOMINGS} – the definition here is limitations. It’s a charade of an adjective meaning concise and what sounds like (it’s said) the surname of a US poet (whose initials and name are often written in lower-case).

4d  Satirist, a Bel Air comic, on second (8)
{RABELAIS} – this is a French humanist and satirist of the Renaissance period, known for his bawdy jokes and double-entendres. His name is an anagram (comic) of A BEL AIR followed by (on, in a down clue) S(econd).

5d  Hold naval commander (6)
{NELSON} – double definition with the hold being either full or half.

7d  What bad decision may cause? (3-4)
{ILL-WILL} – a semi-all-in-one. It’s a charade of an adjective meaning bad or sick and a decision or intention.

8d  Following bullock, soldier and dog (3,7)
{FOX TERRIER} – start with F(ollowing), then add a bullock and the nickname of a soldier in the TA to make a breed of dog.

11d  Uncle’s first to be embraced by uncommon woman, ninety very soon (3,6,3)
{ANY MINUTE NOW} – this is a phrase meaning very soon. Insert (to be embraced) the first letter of U(ncle) in an anagram (uncommon) of WOMAN NINETY.

14d  Argue about tiny details in Dalmatian city locks (5,5)
{SPLIT HAIRS} – a phrase meaning to argue about tiny details is a charade of a city on the Dalmatian coast and what locks very often are in the cryptic world.

17d  Slaughter millions as southern race decimated (8)
{MASSACRE} – a verb meaning to slaughter is built from M(illions), AS, S(outhern) and an anagram (decimated) of RACE. Decimated is often misused these days to mean almost destroyed but it actually means to have ten percent removed; in the Roman Empire if a legion was guilty of mutinous or cowardly behaviour then one soldier in every ten, randomly chosen, might be executed “pour encourager les autres”. So decimate really means to reduce by a tenth and not to a tenth.

19d  Careful having to write about endlessly vulgar time (7)
{PRUDENT} – an adjective meaning careful (a favourite word of our last PM) comes from a verb meaning to write containing a synonym for vulgar without its final E, then finishing with T(ime).

21d  Pirate in element following my lead in sea-roving (7)
{CORSAIR} – one of the ancient elements (the other three being earth, water and fire) follows an exclamation meaning My! and the lead letter of S(ea-roving).

22d  Understand trick (4,2)
{TAKE IN} – double definition.

25d  Study prepared? Almost (4)
{READ} – a verb to study comes from a synonym of prepared without its final Y (almost).

My favourite clue today was 20a. How does that match up with yours?

Today’s Quickie Pun: {QUEUE} + {BRUTES} = {CUBE ROOTS}



  1. Toadson
    Posted March 13, 2012 at 11:08 am | Permalink

    Needed the blog to fully explain 21d. Last in was15a. 9a gave me a laugh. Thanks to Gazza and the setter.

    • Posted March 13, 2012 at 11:41 am | Permalink

      Me too re 21d
      Some very good clues though
      8d 14d and 20a the best for me
      Many thanks

      • Toadson
        Posted March 13, 2012 at 12:13 pm | Permalink

        Agreed – they were all enjoyable clues.

  2. SpikeyMikey
    Posted March 13, 2012 at 11:15 am | Permalink

    My favorite today was 15a – first in was1a and last in was 25d – only because I forgot it was there!!! Enjoyed this today. Thank you Gazza for the Hints and Tips :-)

  3. Jezza
    Posted March 13, 2012 at 11:16 am | Permalink

    I really enjoyed this one today; no grumbles from me. Thanks to setter, and to gazza.

  4. Roland
    Posted March 13, 2012 at 11:18 am | Permalink

    21d did take a bit of thinking about in order to understand why it was right, but managed to get there eventually. The rest went in very easily, although I’m not sure I understand why “following” is abbreviated as F (in 8d). Quite enjoyable but over too quickly for me. Thanks to setter and Gazza.

    • gazza
      Posted March 13, 2012 at 11:24 am | Permalink

      f is used to mean following in books to refer to following pages, e.g. 78f means see page 78 and following page(s).

    • Posted March 13, 2012 at 11:25 am | Permalink

      It’s the usual answer! Because it’s given in Chambers.

      Here are a few more:


      f or f.
      Fathom or fathoms
      Forte (music)


      (as a medieval Roman numeral) 40
      Farad (SI unit)
      Filial generation, thus F1first or F2second filial generation (genetics)
      Fluorine (chem)

      Fellow (of a society, etc)
      Fighter plane (as in F-15, F-16, F-111, etc) (US)
      Fine (on lead pencils)
      Franc or francs
      France (IVR)

      • Roland
        Posted March 13, 2012 at 11:38 am | Permalink

        OK, thanks BD and Gazza. So basically, virtually any word beginning with f can legitimately be abbreviated to F then!

        • Posted March 13, 2012 at 12:22 pm | Permalink

          Only those given in the dictionary!

          • Roland
            Posted March 13, 2012 at 1:13 pm | Permalink

            Yes, sorry Dave, I was being facetious.

  5. mary
    Posted March 13, 2012 at 11:31 am | Permalink

    Morning Gazza, are you looking forward to the match Saturday? Had to go out early to get ink for printer so I could print my crossword, despite that I have finished it fairly quickly today but still give it a 2 to 3 star as some general knowlege ones I didn’t know and had to check after getting the answers, agree about 21d easy to get from checking letters but hard to figure out the first bit! no real favourite clue today, thanks for explainations gazza, off now to get ready for a rather unpleasant hospital procedure (Again!!) see you all later :-)

    • gazza
      Posted March 13, 2012 at 11:38 am | Permalink

      Yes, I am looking forward to Saturday’s match, Mary. Although I’m sure that Wales will win the championship whatever happens, it will be a bit of a damp squib if we miss out on winning the Grand Slam.

  6. mary
    Posted March 13, 2012 at 11:33 am | Permalink

    wonder what’s happened to collywobs?

  7. Jackie
    Posted March 13, 2012 at 12:14 pm | Permalink

    This took me longer than usual to finish, and like others, having written the answer to 21d I needed the why explained. 4d was also a stumbling block although I knew it was an anagram, just couldn’t quite get there. Having said that, I did enjoy the puzzle, so thanks to setter and Gazza. Favourite clues 14d and 20a.

  8. Colmce
    Posted March 13, 2012 at 12:27 pm | Permalink

    Horror as first scan produced just one answer, then got anagram indicators sorted out and it all fell into place. As always it was the four letter words that caused most difficulty.
    Very enjoyable though, thanks to setter and Gazza.

  9. Captain Duff
    Posted March 13, 2012 at 12:48 pm | Permalink

    Enjoyable crossword. Got the answer to 21d but needed the explanation. First in was 24a and last 4d which I needed Google to see if I was right. Clues I liked we’re 13a, 15a, 20a, 23a (nice pic – great hair) and 14d. ***/**** from me. Thanks Gazza.

  10. Alex
    Posted March 13, 2012 at 12:54 pm | Permalink

    i liked the surface reading of 23 across :) which made me blush at the accompanying mental image :p An enjoyable puzzle all round. Got 21 down without knowing why :) and need to scan the blog to ger 13 ac and 11 down. Thx to Gaz et al.

  11. crypticsue
    Posted March 13, 2012 at 1:15 pm | Permalink

    For me it was Baby Bear’s porridge with a touch of curate’s egg. Quite enjoyable but there was a certain je ne sais quoi that left me feeling slightly less entertained than I might have been. Thanks to the mystery setter and to Gazza – yes 20a was my favourite too.

    You don’t need Gnomey’s slightly mad hat for the Petitjean Toughie!

  12. Pam
    Posted March 13, 2012 at 1:34 pm | Permalink

    If I use my iPad, I can’t get the answers hidden in the brackets. I have to go to the PC.
    Am I missing something or is it tough luck on iPad users?

    • crypticsue
      Posted March 13, 2012 at 1:38 pm | Permalink

      If you have a look at Frequently Asked Questions, there is a new section to help users of iPads.

      • Pam
        Posted March 13, 2012 at 2:20 pm | Permalink

        Thanks Crypticsue and Dave. It worked! A bit long-winded but I know what to do if I’m driven mad and too lazy to go upstairs to the PC.

    • Posted March 13, 2012 at 1:52 pm | Permalink


      The advice was given by a couple of the blog’s whizz kids! Please let me know how you get on.

    • Posted March 13, 2012 at 3:20 pm | Permalink

      I find the easiest way of getting round this is to highlight the hidden word, use copy (or define in later versions), then you can paste in to the Google bar at the top. You don’t have to leave the Blog page then.

    • Jackie
      Posted March 13, 2012 at 3:52 pm | Permalink

      I feel so yesterday – I’ve only got a MacBook Pro – will have to update to an iPad soon!

  13. Derek
    Posted March 13, 2012 at 1:36 pm | Permalink

    An enjoyable puzzle from Jeremy???
    Clues that I liked : 9a, 13a, 20a, 23a, 27a, 3d, 8d, 11d, 19d & 21d.

    5d is a chestnut!

    One has to think very carefully to understand 21d.

    • gazza
      Posted March 13, 2012 at 1:42 pm | Permalink

      Do you think that this is by Jay? I doubt it – he’s normally firmly wedded to Wednesdays.

  14. Boxgreen
    Posted March 13, 2012 at 1:39 pm | Permalink

    Not too bad today overall but 25d was my last one and I struggled with it – real brain freeze moment :(

  15. beaver
    Posted March 13, 2012 at 1:39 pm | Permalink

    Two enjoyable puzzles for me this week maybe both **/***,Thought yesterdays 8d was the hardest clue to solve so far this week-cold frames, everything logical in today’s offering-must admit to not getting the cryptic ‘my ‘part of 21d also initially had ‘patient’ for 19d -did’nt read the clue properly,which did’nt help in solving 23a !

  16. BigBoab
    Posted March 13, 2012 at 1:40 pm | Permalink

    Thanks to the setter who gave me some trouble at first and to Gazza for the review.

  17. Steve_the_beard
    Posted March 13, 2012 at 1:57 pm | Permalink

    What an enjoyable puzzle, and what a lovely picture for 23A (is that the missus, Gazza?).

    My favourite clue was 13A, because it’s a new word for me but it came naturally from the clue.

    Re 4D; it’s not much of an anagram when you only have to move one letter!

    Thanks to all concerned.

    • Posted March 13, 2012 at 2:40 pm | Permalink

      S_t_b – true, but when is an anagram not an anagram, and the anagrind is not blindingly obvious.
      Agree with your comments, and presumably your suggestion is correct, as Gazza hasn’t denied it!

    • gazza
      Posted March 13, 2012 at 2:48 pm | Permalink

      The nice thing about the Internet is that we’re all allowed to dream :D

      • crypticsue
        Posted March 13, 2012 at 2:58 pm | Permalink

        That lady would be far too high maintenance – the cost of the underwear alone….. :D

        • Steve_the_beard
          Posted March 13, 2012 at 3:24 pm | Permalink

          Madam, I bow to your expertise :-)

          • crypticsue
            Posted March 13, 2012 at 4:41 pm | Permalink

            Not being a madam, merely the concierge, I don’t have much expertise in that sort of underwear, I only know I probably can’t afford it :D

  18. Posted March 13, 2012 at 2:29 pm | Permalink

    Enjoyed this one so thanks to the setter.

    Like others I struggled for a while to parse 21d – too many elements! There’s Cobalt at the start, Iridium at the end, Chromium round the outside and Oxygen, Sulphur and Iodine in the middle! Sometimes it doesn’t help to have been a chemist! Still, got there in the end :grin:

    Thanks to Gazza for another tastefully illustrated review. I particularly like the dog!

  19. Annidrum
    Posted March 13, 2012 at 2:43 pm | Permalink

    I must have been on the setter’s wavelength today as I found it a bit of a dawdle although I had to look up the name of the satirist and I needed Gazza’s explanation for 21d. Thanks to the setter & Gazza. :smile:

  20. Posted March 13, 2012 at 3:19 pm | Permalink

    I find the easiest way of getting round this is to highlight the hidden word, use copy (or define in later versions), then you can paste in to the Google bar at the top. You don’t have to leave the Blog page then.

  21. Brian
    Posted March 13, 2012 at 4:14 pm | Permalink

    Glad you thought it was easy, I thought it a 3/4 star for me, only managed 4 answers! No fun at all I’m afraid.

    • Brian
      Posted March 13, 2012 at 4:37 pm | Permalink

      Obviously not one for me today as I have never heard of a flax pant, the author or the poet or a dish with onions called lyonnaise (I thought that was a potato dish – Pommes lyonnaise). Still at least there was a distinct lack of religeous clues, how about some sports or science clues in future?

      • crypticsue
        Posted March 13, 2012 at 4:41 pm | Permalink

        As I understand it, Pommes Lyonnaise is called that because it has onions in it! With regard to the plant, did you not learn about where linen comes from in school?

  22. Addicted
    Posted March 13, 2012 at 5:13 pm | Permalink

    First read through – complete blank – horrors! However, finally began to make some sense and struggled on until left with NE corner, which defeated me completely – so thanks for hints, Gazza. Never heard of 16a, which didn’t help. Not my favourite to-day but can’t win ’em all!

  23. Hrothgar
    Posted March 13, 2012 at 6:22 pm | Permalink

    Enjoyable but, perhaps, routine form-filling.
    Thought 3d and 21d rather clever.

  24. Little Dave
    Posted March 13, 2012 at 7:18 pm | Permalink

    Enjoyable and fairly straight-forward – 22a my favourite (lovely picture – cor!) Finished it on the District Line.

  25. andy
    Posted March 13, 2012 at 9:30 pm | Permalink

    Where to start, I agree with Brian re the lyonnaise, i’m sure i’ve eaten a salad somewhere called that but without onions. faves 9a 20a. Thanks to setter and Gazza. I thought todays Guardian offering rather good as well.

  26. Posted March 13, 2012 at 9:37 pm | Permalink

    A good set of clues to get you started and to get you thinking. Thanks to the Mysteron and to Gazza for the review.

  27. Posted March 13, 2012 at 10:43 pm | Permalink

    Enough fun for me too. ** difficulty and *** for fun. Can’t believe that 27a was my last in having left it for a full 20 minutes until I explained it to a friend!. Thanks to gazza and the setter.

  28. Jerome B
    Posted March 13, 2012 at 10:50 pm | Permalink

    Enjoyed the nearly 50% of what I could do without help, but there where too many things/people I’d never heard of – 10a 13a 16a (got the answer but thought it was too silly a name…), 4d and 8d. Despite having being in the TA for 25 years, the only place I hear “terrier” being used to describe us, is occasional press articles and crosswords. Ho hum.

  29. Pookie
    Posted March 14, 2012 at 2:03 pm | Permalink

    Like some others, a frightening “nothing” on first pass, but I slowly got it together, three literary references in one back pager is really two too many for me, never heard of Ambler or on looking at Wikipedia his novels – and whilst I see 21d from the hints – i thought that was too tough wordplay for me. Enjoyed it though – 14d and 20a in particular

  30. Kath
    Posted March 14, 2012 at 8:45 pm | Permalink

    Not much point in commenting now but I managed this without any help – no dictionaries, no internet and, worst of all, no blog!! Just shows what you can do when you have to!! The ones that caused me the most trouble were 8d – ox/steer ? surely an ox is a fully grown male cow and a steer is a young one. Having not got that one 10a also gave a bit of difficulty. It took me a long time to understand why 21d was what it was. With thanks to whoever set this one and to Gazza.

    • gazza
      Posted March 14, 2012 at 8:56 pm | Permalink

      Hi Kath,
      Welcome back – hope you enjoyed your mini-break! The 8d clue actually has bullock rather than steer (at least the on-line puzzle does) and a bullock is fully grown (though not necessarily in possession of all its bits).

      • Kath
        Posted March 14, 2012 at 10:41 pm | Permalink

        Thanks – mini-break was great. Just got all my somewhat limited terminology of “boy cows” a bit mixed up!! No dictionary is my excuse this time! Really should have looked in the BRB before I griped!

        • Posted March 14, 2012 at 10:48 pm | Permalink

          Hi Kath

          I too suffered from lack of BRB last week! It’s too big to take on hols and you’d feel such a nerd being seen in the bar with one tucked under the arm :lol: