DT 26849 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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DT 26849

Daily Telegraph Cryptic No 26849

Hints and tips by pommers

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

Hola from the Vega Baja.  Well, after last week’s walk in the park we have a pretty tricky puzzle from Jay this week. It was close to getting 4* but I clicked 13d just in time! I enjoyed the tussle!  You don’t really need to start with the downs but it will help if you have your slightly American hat on today as several of the clues have a distinctly US flavour.

The clues I like most are in blue and the answers can be seen by highlighting the space between the curly brackets. Please leave a comment telling us what you thought. You can also add your assessment by selecting from one to five stars at the bottom of the post.


9a           Instant cure initially found in most of samples (5)
{TRICE} – This is an instant as in short period of time. You need a word for samples or tests and remove the last letter (most of) and then insert C (Cure initially).

10a         Percentage losing heart during speech surgery (9)
{OPERATION} – Definition is surgery . Take a popular crosswordland word for a speech and insert (during) PE (PercentagE losing heart).

11a         Why a severe punishment? (4,3)
{WHAT FOR} – Another way of asking why is also a colloquial term for a punishment as my mother used to give me.

12a         Time is lost — and energy — producing list (7)
{ITEMISE} – This word meaning to list is an anagram (lost) of TIME IS and E(nergy).  Thanks to Gazza for putting me right on this one!

13a         Inexperienced soldiers beset by information (5)
{GREEN} – A word for inexperienced is some of the usual soldiers surrounded by (beset) a term for information.

14a         Dispatched to cover a press ceremony in church (9)
{SACRAMENT} – A church ceremony is a word for dispatched, a letter perhaps, placed around (to cover) A (from the clue) and a word meaning press or stuff.

16a         This lawyer can reach us — blame changes (9,6)
{AMBULANCE CHASER} – A term of US origin for a lawyer who seeks to profit from the lawsuits of accident victims is an anagram (changes) of CAN REACH US BLAME.  The first of the slightly American clues.

19a         Launch full of drugs? (9)
{SPEEDBOAT} – A small, fast craft if split (5,4) would sound like it was delivering amphetamines.  Don’t know about amphetamines but the bad guys use these to smuggle cannabis into Spain from Morocco across the Straits of Gibraltar!

21a         Signs nothing — and people sail without trouble (5)
{OMENS} – These sign or portents are a charade of O(nothing), some male people and S (Sail with the AIL (trouble) removed)

23a         Sick twice, absorbing wife’s hostility (3-4)
{ILL WILL} – Take a word for sick or unwell, repeat it (twice) and insert (absorbing) W(ife) and then split that lot (3,4) and you get some hostility.

25a         Used explosive bullets initially and survived (7)
{BLASTED} – Definition is used explosive. Start with B (Bullets initially) and follow with a word for survived or continued.

27a         Relative’s known aims to be put off (9)
{KINSWOMAN} – A female relative is an anagram (to be put off) of KNOWN AIMS.

28a         Enthusiastic about including Mahler’s last opening bars (5)
{INTRO} – The opening of a piece of music is R (MahleR’s last) inserted into (including) a slang term for enthusiastic about or keen on.


1d           Stitch around back of skirt causing worry (4)
{STEW} –Another word for to stitch placed around T (back of skirT) gives a word for worry.

2d           Face drop during struggle (6)
{VISAGE} – This is a posh word for your face.  Take a word for struggle (3) and insert (during) a word meaning  drop or droop.

3d           Excessively modern England few regulated (10)
{NEWFANGLED} – A word meaning excessively modern is an anagram (regulated) of ENGLAND FEW.

4d           Theatre dames with right to drop a couple of places (6)
{BOARDS} – A colloquial term for the theatre or stage is made by taking an American term for women and moving the R(ight) two places down.  I like this one as ‘dames’ is also an American term for women which might give a pointer to the word you need – cue video!
ARVE Error: need id and provider

5d           Second-rate crossword compiler cried about keeping love (8)
{MEDIOCRE} – A word for second rate is formed from how the compiler might refer to himself followed by an anagram (about) of CRIED with O (love) inserted (keeping).

6d           Cotton belt’s first alcoholic drink (4)
{BALE} – A large bundle of cotton is B (Belt’s first) followed by an alcoholic drink.  In the USA this word means specifically 500 pounds of cotton.

7d           Lacking a stone, grabs one showing no mercy (8)
{PITILESS} – Not sure how to explain this one!  Start with an American term for a fruit stone and add LESS so it means ‘lacking a stone’ and then insert (grabs) I (one) and you get a word meaning without mercy.  If anyone can come up with a better way of hinting this one please let me know!

8d           Plates placed under popular apprentices’ contracts (10)
{INDENTURES} – These apprentices’ contracts are the usual word for popular (2) followed by the type of plate you might need to wear in your mouth.

13d         Shifts clobber before staff realises, finally (4-6)
{GEAR STICKS} – The definition is shifts and you need your American hat on again – it’s to do with a car transmission!  The first word is clobber as in clothing and the second is another word for a staff or rod followed by S (realiseS finally).  This was my last in and it took ages for the penny to drop!

15d         A dreamer with no name embraces church, having no shade (10)
{ACHROMATIC} – A word meaning without colour is formed from A (from the clue) and another word for a dreamer with the N removed (with no Name) and then all this lot placed around (embraces) one of the usual abbreviations for church.

17d         Scurrying supporter is up, wearing fancy jewellery (8)
{BEETLING} – Take a supporter found on a golf course and reverse it (is up in a down clue) and then surround it (wearing) some fancy jewellery to get a word for scurrying.  I think we’ve had this supporter quite recently.

18d         He is excluded from design of phenomenal source of illumination (4,4)
{NEON LAMP} – Remove the HE (he is excluded) from PHENOMENAL and make an anagram (design) of what’s left and you get a sort of light.

20d         Haul includes container for wine and pipes (6)
{TUBING} – Take a word for haul or pull (3) and insert (includes) a place where wine bottles are stored and you get some pipes.   A pipe is also a container for wine measuring 105 gallons – don’t drink it all at once!

22d         Being a bit different, it yields (6)
{ENTITY} – This being is hidden (a bit) in different it yields.

24d         Channel island area and state (4)
{IOWA} – For this American state we don’t need one of the Channel Islands but we do need the abbreviation for an island found in the English Channel. Add A(rea) and you get the state.

26d         Dump doctor before work (4)
{DROP} – A charade of one of the abbreviations for doctor and the usual word for work give a word meaning to dump or get rid of.

I like all the ones in blue but favourite was 13d, just for the D’oh moment when the penny finally dropped – you probably heard the clang!

The Quick crossword pun: {yore} + {sews} + {wheat} = {you’re so sweet}

92 comments on “DT 26849

  1. Definitely 4* for me today (is that the highest?). Many thanks for the clues, I needed them!

    1. Hi Wozza

      We can go up to 5* but it very rarely, if ever, happens for a back pager. Happens for Toughies, especially Friday ones.

      1. Hi Wozza and Pommers – 4* from me today also. I think this was edging towards the most difficult. I personally don’t think the rating system for the back page and the toughie should be connected. They should stand as independent ratings. I have said before that the back page ratings tend to rate on the low side. If a one star represents the easiest of puzzles and 5* for the most difficult (on the back page) I think this is in the 4* (ish) category. Happy for others to disagree of course.

        1. Hi Nigel

          The back page and Toughie ratings are kept different.. A 2* Toughie might get 4* if it were published on the back page, but it’s all a matter of personal opinion. I rate them purely on how long it takes me to solve and, as I said in the intro, if it had taken just a little longer for the penny to drop on 13d I would have been into 4* time so 4*(ish) is about right.

        1. Haven’t had a go at that one yet – saving it for when I’ve got a couple of weeks to spare :grin: I think it was Tilsit who once awarded 5* squared to a Toughie!

        2. For me, far too many to count, even using all fingers and toes, and probably those that belong to a few other people too!! :sad:

  2. Well it was as hard as I want to face! Out of interest, what happens if you are responsible for that days hints and you can’t solve it? Can you call on a wider tenor does it never happen?

    1. Not failed yet but if I ever get to the time for awarding 5* I’ll be emailing the other bloggers for help and hoping that at least one of them is up for it :grin:

      I have got the parsing a bit wrong a few times though :oops:

  3. A bit of a struggle for me today but I got there in the end. Needed the hints to justify some of my answers. Thanks to compiler & to Pommers for the explanations.

  4. Last one in for me today was 7d; I kept wanting ST(one) to feature somewhere in the wordplay!
    Thanks to setter, and to Jay.

    The toughie today is reasonably gentle, although there are a few to think about.

  5. Completed this, but a real struggle so a 4* for me.
    Pommers thanks for review, needed it to explain some of my answers!
    Thanks to Jay for a tricky little puzzle.

  6. A hard (but very fair enjoyable) slog today which really required me to use the old grey cells. I thought 11A was a very good clue and 17D nearly stumped me as I so wanted to put BUSTLING in there. Personally I found the quickie tougher but mainly because the word associations left two or three possibilities in a number of places.

    Absolutely rotten day today, so much so that I got up early and built an Ark just to be on the safe side. Just need two Aardvarks and a couple of Green Sloths now and I’m all set. Think I might see about getting a couple of compilers on board too.

    1. Morning skempie
      I might have taken a bit longer on 17d if I hadn’t recently blogged the supporter in DT26825, but there it was clued as “supporter of course” so it was a bit easier.

      Warm and sunny here today but we’re off to the UK on Friday so I’m packing the waterproofs :lol:

      1. I’d pack a few woolly jumpers too, if I were you! It’s really rubbish weather here at the moment and you and pommette must be used to warmer temperatures!

  7. More difficult than usual for me today, but managed (just) without hints. 15d best clue for me followed by 8d because that made me smile. ****/**** rating for me. Thought the Quickie pun was excellent. Thanx to Compiler and to Pommers for Review.

  8. Very enjoyable – thanks to Jay and Pommers. Was I the only one to write in ‘gear levers’ for 13d and thus get delayed in the SW corner?

    1. Always hard to rate crosswords but thought today’s was a bit more sign posted than yesterday’s once the US link was established.

  9. ****/**** from me today as well. I agree with others here; this is as long as I want to spend on a puzzle. Got 4 down but was not quite sure about it, thanks for the hints and tips to confirm. Needed some help with 8d, not a familiar word for me. That said the other clues were all ‘gettable’ and some very clever an enjoyable ones. Favourites for me 11a, 18d, and 16a.

  10. I really enjoyed this. I thought that it was a fair bit trickier than a usual Wednesday but it might just be me – very cold, very wet and no electricity all morning! :sad:
    My last one was 8d – just couldn’t get it. I was also pretty slow to get the big long anagram that goes across the middle. I thought that 24d was a sneaky one! Lots of really good clues – far too many to mention them all so I’ll just go for 11 and 19a and 4d because they made laugh and, with the weather as it is, there may not be much else that’s going to do that today! With thanks to Jay and Pommers.

  11. Very enjoyable head scratcher today. Started with an easy 25d and finished with a tricky 4d. Some clever clues – I liked 2d the most and 19a for its humour. Very wintry weather here in Surrey today. I had a strange dream last night that we had warm sunny days in April! Thanks very much to Jay & Pommers for brightening up the morning. ***/****…and well done Chelsea!

    1. Sorry Captain, I am hijacking your space here, I am having lots of trouble getting into the comment box lately, anyone else?? Hola pommers, I really didn’t enjoy this today, too many Americanisms, too many bits and pieces of words, and some awful readings! never heard of 16a, 15d or 17d, some clues very worthy of a toughie IMHO :-( a four star for me, however 3 clues I liked were 19a, 23a and 13a
      very wintry here again today, 2 inches of hail fell in the space of five minutes yesterday and some of it was still on the ground this morning!!

      1. If you click refresh, then the comment box will let you comment. Well it did me. It is definitely not a happy box. :(

        Try the Toughie Mary – you may get on better than you think.

        1. I might try it later sue, I don’t know, lately life is getting in the way of my crossword!! :-)
          Glad I’m not the only one with an unhappy comment box! ‘Reply’ is fine, but comment on it’s own is a no no, now to try and get my name back, lets hope I don’t lose the dog again :-)

          1. I think we probably need to worry more if crosswords get in the way of our lives!! :smile: Keep track of that dog of yours!

            1. Not sure Kath. I hate it when life interferes with the crossword! Tomorrow I’ve got lots to do so probably won’t have time and that’s a real bummer! Big tears

  12. Anyone else finding that the ‘leave a comment’ box is playing silly whatsits again today? At one point, I did think I was going to have to leave this one to cogitate but eventually finished in about 3* difficulty time. No particular favourites. Thanks to Jay and Pommers

    The Toughie is, relatively speaking, a much more friendlier beast than the backpager today. Have a go and see what you think.

      1. I haven’t had any trouble with the comment box but I’m sure there’s time! Absolutely miserable day here – it’s hardly stopped raining. My highly sophisticated and scientific water measuring apparatus (a straight sided glass and a tape measure!) says that we’ve had the best part of 2″ of rain in the last week.

  13. Best puzzle of the week so far i gave it ***/**** before reading Pommers blog, so must be right!.A nice mix of ‘clue types’ not many’shoe ins’-had to work the brain hard today,did,nt get 15d until i’d got all the letters and eventually twigged the synonym for dreamer,favourite clue 4d, also remembered an american asking me once if i could drive a ‘stick shift’which helped with 13d.

  14. super puzzle from Jay and a very entertaining review from Pommers, many thanks to both.

  15. Now I thought this was far easier than yesterday APART from 20d. Tub – wine container, I don’t think so! Best clue forme was 15d, very clever.

  16. Hi pommers, you might want to revisit 3d, your anagram and the answer doesn’t work (missing the “f”)

    1. Thanks Andy – now sorted.

      Doesn’t matter how many times you proof read your own work you nearly always see what you think you wrote rather than what you actually wrote!

  17. Hooray got into the comment box :-) just for those of you that don’t know although my name is now coming up as my wordpress login ‘pepsib’ I am still me, Mary that is :-D

  18. Much too difficult for this old coot.
    Hope we’re not heading for Times and Guardian territory.

  19. Quite agree Estragon, I left the Guardian for the Telegraph precisely because I hated its crosswords.
    The following is more an observation than a complaint, but in connection with 16a, most ambulance chasers are not lawyers. Maybe they once were in the United States, but I think here in Britain the term is mainly associated with those tacky rip-off firms that advertise on daytime tv trying to persuade you to sue your council because you tripped over a paving stone. Mainly they’re “para-legal” charlatans, not lawyers at all. Not that I particularly want to defend lawyers, I just don’t think the synonym in the clue really works in the context in which the expression is used today.

    1. Tend to agree Andrew but ‘This person vaguely connected with the legal profession’ doesn’t have quite the same ring to it, Lawyer works for me :grin:

  20. Really enjoyed this, even though 4d took me ages and then I had to check hints to see why. Very clever. Appreciated good surface readings. Fave = 11a as giving me a ‘right what for’ was my dad’s favourite saying many years ago. Thanks to all.

  21. A stinker and help for 18d didn’t help as the spelling of phenomenal given as phenominal!

  22. Enjoyed knocking this one off after a slow start. The preprandial G&T helped to speed things up! Also put my fedora on! Haven’t got a ten-gallon hat any more!

    Liked : 11a, 14a, 16a, 19a, 25a, 4d, 13d, 15d, 17d & 24d.

    Had a good laugh at the last one as that is where my parents ended their lives – IoW not Iowa!!!

    Thanks Jay for the fun.

    Solid cumulus here being strongly driven northwards. This April has been the coldest for years – still got the central heating on.

    Ce soir, magret de canard á l’orange.

  23. Oh Jay ,you had us really stretching our brains to-day & starting with the down clues didn’t really help. Not for me anyway and can’t remember when I needed the hints for so many answers ,so thanks to Pommers. I was stuck on 2d,4d and 15d but there were a lot of great clues like 11a & 5d. For me ****/*** today.

  24. Thanks for an ace review Pommers and to Jay for a puzzle that I thought was a good *** but I was left looking at 13d, 17d (I had BLING at the end not around the supporter!) and also 4d/14a.

    “Any news from a broad?!”

    1. “Any news from a broad?!”

      I’ve seen this before, but I’ve forgotten the answer. Answers on a postcard, please!

    2. 17d was my last in for said reasons. Stop press, no more in any sort of plaster, wrist and foot all healed. Hospital yesterday for final checks and physios are happy. Today me Thabo and the new arrivals Cuthbert and Cynthia went for long, if a tad wet,walks. Whoop Whoop. Cheers all.

      1. ditto to what pommers said from me too, Andy! :smile: Very wet here too – and there’s nothing worse than a wet grumpy collie!

  25. A very nice puzzle from Jay today. I didn’t find it any more difficult than usual – but it was just as entertaining. Why is it too American?

    For once, I changed my tactics. Being a boring old “puzzler”, I normally start at 1a. However, I recently read a comment from Mary (aka mary) saying that she always starts from the the last Down clue – it worked for me today!

    1. Hi Franco
      I didn’t think it ‘too’ American but just pointed out that a USA hat might help.

      PIT for stone, BROAD, SHIFT for gear lever and BALE meaning specifically cotton rather than hay or something are all American terms that have sort of moved into English so it shouldn’t really have made much difference. Beginning to wish I’d kept my gob shut as I bet nobody would have noticed otherwise!

  26. Going to bed now as it’s just turned midnight here. Sorry for the couple of typos but I hope it didn’t affect anyone too much :oops:

    Thanks for all the comments.

    Oh, and the comment box appears to work fine for me using Mozilla.

  27. Thanks to Jay & Pommers for the review & hints. A 4* difficulty for me, I spent far too long grappling with this one, didn’t really enjoy the American theme. Needed 6 hints to complete. Had a penny drop moment with 8d. Enjoyed the misdirection of 18d. Favourites were 11a & 2,3,15d. So I liked some of it. Loads of rain in Central London today.

  28. Too difficult for me this one. Usually finish it, (9 times out of 10), but for first time in ages was many answers short. If they were all this tricky I’d play Bingo instead!

  29. Couldn’t do either Monday’s or Tuesday’s, but this one was done in a very good time for me, It seems we are all very different.

  30. Loads of “goodies” in this one but I had to build up to finally solving it.
    The final one was the BROADS/BOARDS answer – loved it when light finally dawned.

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