DT 26851 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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DT 26851

Daily Telegraph Cryptic No 26851

Hints and tips by Libellule

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

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

First of all I would like to thank everybody for their birthday wishes last Saturday as I hit my 50th. Then secondly I would like to thank Gazza for stepping into the Monday spot at short notice (I had a sick cat to pick up from the vets). That left me with the opportunity of blogging a Friday Giovanni. I don’t know about the rest of you but this seemed to be a tough one and took longer than normal. Just in case you missed it, it is also a pangram.

If the hint is not enough highlight the space between the curly brackets to reveal the answer.

1. Composer and tot meeting woman outside church (8)
{SCHUMANN} – Place CH (church) inside another word that means to count up, then add a woman’s name to get a German composer.

5. Sailor is positioned the wrong way round in descent (6)
{ABSEIL} – A word that means to descend by rope is constructed from one of the normal abbreviations for a sailor followed by a reversed (the wrong way round) word that describes a recumbent or reclining position.

9. Mischief-maker, one to get freedom from punishment (8)
{IMPUNITY} – Definition is freedom from punishment. A three-letter word for a mischievous child or sprite is followed by a word that describes the state or quality of being one.

10. Careless agent has left work to be collected (6)
{SLOPPY} – L (left) plus OP (work) inside a word for someone who engages in espionage.

12. Something that may leave black stain on brown cloth (6)
{TARTAN} – The name of a Scottish cloth is a dark, oily, viscous material followed by another word for brown colour.

13. Pieces of artwork at a higher level that one is invited to see? (8)
{ETCHINGS} – The sort of artwork that is created by carving or cutting into blocks that are subsequently used for printing. Presumably “at a higher level” is a reference to the old invitation “come up and see my ….”.

15. See funny fellow stagger around (7)
{GAGSTER} – An anagram (around) of STAGGER.

16. Article stuck in piece of furniture may be necklace component (4)
{BEAD} – Put A (an article) into the item of furniture you sleep in.

20. God of old, big noise (4)
{ODIN} – A Norse god can be created from O (old) and a loud discordant confused noise.

21. Knave with bundle returning, a proverbial thief (7)
{JACKDAW} – Another word for a knave (e.g. in cards) and a three letter word that describes a small mass of soft material (or a bundle of money) reversed (returning), is a black/dark grey bird noted for its thieving habits.

25. One who can’t stand being in another’s house? (8)
{SQUATTER} – A word that describes a person sitting in a crouching position is also a person who occupies property or land to which he or she has no legal title.

26. Dog’s getting about square after four (6)
{CANINE} – CA (about) plus the next number that is a square after four.

28. Fools one spots traversing island (6)
{IDIOTS} – I (one) and then I (island) inside another word for small round marks.

29. Left in grass, covered in newspaper? (8)
{REPORTED} – The nautical term for left inside a word for tall perennial grasses produces the sort of formal account that could be found in a journal.

30. Presumably one who has found football player? (6)
{KEEPER} – Someone who takes charge of care of something (finders ……., losers weepers).could also be found in goal.

31. Medieval cleric finished being embraced by one of Henry’s wives (8)
{PARDONER} – Place a word that means accomplished or finished inside the name of the sixth and last wife of Henry VIII to get a “medieval ecclesiastic authorised to raise money for religious works by granting papal indulgences to contributors.”


1. Keep mum enthusiastic about religion (6)
{SHINTO} – SH (keep mum) and then an informal word that means interested in or involved with, for a native Japanese religion.

2. Gardeners keeping quiet as optimistic folk? (6)
{HOPERS} – Place P (quiet) inside people who may be weeding or cultivating with a tool with a flat blade and you could end up with a word that describes people who are wishing for things. I don’t know about you but this seems to be a bit clumsy.

3. Fancy a lady going after fellow in foreign city! (8)
{MANDALAY} – An anagram (fancy) of A LADY after MAN is a city in Burma (Myanmar).

4. Upsetting shock makes one crazy (4)
{NUTS} – Reverse a word that means to daze or render senseless.

6. Lout turning up, unable to say much and stroppy (6)
{BOLSHY} – A word that describes a clumsy person or a lout is reversed (turning up) is followed by another word that means to be retiring or reserved to get a word that means obstreperous..

7. Old joke good editor crossed out (8)
{EXPUNGED} – EX (old), a three letter word for a play on words, G (good) and then ED (editor).

8. Discard amateur leading a team (3,5)
{LAY ASIDE} – The definition is discard, A word for non professional, then A and then a word for one of two or more contesting factions.

11. Having different bands of inconsistent quality (7)
{STREAKY} – Double definition, marked with or as if with stripes or linear discoloration’s or variable or uneven in character or quality.

14. First person, having pierced a fish, is sorry (7)
{ASHAMED} – ME (first person) inside A and a herring-like fish for a word that means overcome with guilt, or remorse.

17. Pleasurable things given sign of approval — an element in computer game? (8)
{JOYSTICK} – Things that provide a source of happiness, then the sort of positive mark you might see on your homework could be a manual control for a computer game, but you are more likely to see it in the cockpit of a plane.

18. Auntie, I’m fussed about minor details (8)
{MINUTIAE} – An anagram (fussed) of AUNTIE IM.

19. Roving in bad van, go mad (8)
{VAGABOND} – Another anagram (mad) this time of BAD VAN GO.

22. Eminence not right — stony-looking character? (6)
{STATUE} – Remove R from a word that means an achieved level or status to get a type of sculpture.

23. Mechanical device — power is coming with great speed (6)
{PISTON} – P (power) IS and then a slang term for a hundred miles per hour.

24. Money given to the German who supplies grub? (6)
{FEEDER} – A charge for professional services and then the German word for the.

27. Foreign character stuck in maze tantalisingly (4)
{ZETA} – The sixth letter in the Greek alphabet can be found hidden between the two words maze and tantalisingly.

The Quick crossword pun: {purr} + {severe} = {persevere}

88 comments on “DT 26851

  1. “The Telegraph crossword editor would like to apologise for the Friday 27th crossword where all the words in all the clues inadvertently got mixed up. Not only that, the clues were for a completely different crossword and the answers were a mix of Swahili and Mandarin”.

    In other words, I haven’t got a ruddy clue. OK..I fib. I managed two.

      1. Hi Domus, I’m ‘ordinary folk’ and nearly three years into cryptic crosswords, in the beginning Giovanni puzzles on Fridays, but with lots of perservation and help from this blog, he is now my second favourite setter, it depends how much time you’ve got and how much you want to do it, I had to give in and get help from Libelulle today though and often do, some of the clues I think are hard and worthy of a toughie but if you go through the blog I think you will see they are all fair today and make sense, memory is my failing and vocab, in fact I’m surprised I even mange to finish one occasionally unaided!! Don’t give up it will get better :-D

          1. Sorry to disagree with you Mary as you and I are often of a similar mind but I thought this one was just plain awful. Not as bad as a you know who as at least I got three answers but it’ll do.

            1. Brian, Mary and Domus – reading this blog sure does make me feel better about my ‘progress’… or lack of when it comes to a crossword like this one! I’ve been doing the DT cryptic (the only daily one we get in NZ’s papers, but I’m in England right now so I’m getting them real-time!) for about 2 years, and in this one I got 12 clues, which is my worst effort by a mile since the very early days. I finished the last 3 I’ve attempted, so this has brought me crashing down to Earth. I wasn’t far away from getting some of these clues, some I thought were a bit tenuous. I know I’m getting better, but it really is a matter of perseverance and learning from your ‘failings’ isn’t it? :o)

      2. I am with all the folks who found this hard and I have been doing them for 50+ years. I needed help with 8 of the clues and I have never needed help with more than 2 or 3. I am quite discouraged with some of the puzzles we have been getting lately. I want to be stretched but not totally frustrated, that takes the fun away. Thanks to Libelulle and all the other bloggers who help us out.

  2. The best puzzle of the week so far for me. I thoroughly enjoyed this one. Thanks to Giovanni, and to Libellule.

    Back to (hopefully) finish the toughie, which I am struggling with today.

  3. Wow, I am normally a great fan of Giovanni but this is so tough as to be totally pointless. Sorry sir but this is not for me and IMHO should NOT be on the back page, this would be difficult for a Toughie.

  4. Was not easy but far from undoable. I totally missed the “Come up and see..” joke.

    My major gripe is the unfriendly grid with the centre and the corners connected by only one square, creating almost five mini-grids.

    Otherwise a sparkling challenge! Thanks to the Don and the reviewer!

    1. Yes ****/****, solved in four quarters,sw and ne straightforward se a little more difficult and then the nw corner- his magnum opus and my nemesis! only just got to work.As Mr J. H Fingleton wrote ‘brightly fades the Don

  5. The Don at his best. Once again, the maestro delivers and excellent crossword with some very tricky clues that are solvable once the slightly easier clues are completed, just as a crossword should be. 1A my favourite today.

  6. Thanks Giovanni and Libellule.
    Brilliant clues, thoroughly enjoyable.
    Got there unassisted but spent far too long trying to find a bishopric (See) in 15a.

    1. Hi H, did the same myself, but gave up after exeter and ely, then wanted to put re el around a funny man, when all the time the solution was simple- when you saw it!

  7. Good morning Libelulle, nice to see you on a Friday, Yes a three to four star for me today, a puzzle of four corners I thought, I found the bottom left the easiest but struggled with the rest, the top left being last to go in, still I thought the readings of most clues were good and I enjoyed it, never heard 18d, in 6d the ‘s’ is doing double duty, once again I thought this was frowned on, it is being used for ‘slob’ and ‘shy’ what is the ruling on this? fav clue 25a, off to the gym soon, have enrolled in a posture, balance and fitness class “for older adults”! all done to sixties music. Keep perservating, though some of this is worthy of a toughie :-)

    1. Mary,
      Re. 6d I can see why you think the S is soing “double duty” but the actual word you are looking for thats reversed is
      LOB and has the definition in Chambers as a “a clumsy person; a lout”.

    2. Hi Mary – I was puzzled by 6d too, but the clumsy person or lout is LOB (as per Chambers).

    3. Thanks Libelulle and Roland, I just assumed it was slob, never heard of a lob in that respect but if it’s in Chambers……… :-)

      1. Never heard of LOB either – all I could see was YOB, which didn’t explain the LSH, did it? was going to have a beef about this clue, so thanks for above explanations.

      1. Hi Wayne yes started Tai Chi classes a few years ago but for various reasons all the arm movements affected the nerve end pain I get in the chest, I was enjoying it nut had to stop :-(

        1. Thats a real shame. I’m a septuagenarian and find it very beneficial, can even put my socks on without sitting down !! :-)

  8. I must agree with Nestorius – I was left staring glumly at the middle section which was blank and had only four checking letters (3 vowels and a T). Got there in the end and enjoyed many of the clues. Thanks to Libellule and to Giovanni.

  9. Got there in the end having borrowed some of Mary’s electronics, this was tough but good fun. Especially liked 13 and 31. Thanks Giovanni and Libellule (belated Happy Birthday :-))

  10. Thanks for interesting feedback — and it makes a nice change from ‘Typical Giovanni’ with two three stars. I am pretty well aware of what Telegraph solvers expect but if I aim to vary the level just a bit (up and down) to make things interesting because you can’t please everyone all the time.This isn’t my favourite grid either with three out of seven letters checked in the middle answers but I’ll use it now and then.

    1. Sir, I am normally your greatest fan but could you leave these for the Toughie please. Far too difficult for the average Joe.

  11. Hi Libellule thanks for the info re the pangram element of the crossword, did you notice that the quickie is one as well, clever Don!

    1. dickiedot,
      Generally the quick is a pangram on Friday (at least I expect it to be), but the cryptic…

        1. I did not want to be chastised this morning for pointing out the toughie pangram on this page before others had looked at it :)

  12. I am surprised no-one has remarked on that fact that the Quick Pun is in fact an instruction from Giovanni with regard to the cryptic puzzle :) Definitely a crossword of four corners and then a considerable time spent working out what was going on in the middle. Thanks to Giovanni for a right proper Friday brain stretching and to Libellule for the explanations.

    The Toughie does fit the Telegraph Puzzles description but it is worth noting that it took me a minute less than the backpager to solve.

    1. I found the toughie hard going this morning, but I am glad I persevered, because I really enjoyed it.

  13. Wow! I battled through this using every magical tool I could find! Was finally beaten by 5 of them so I am very grateful for the helpful hints!! Great crossword as always from Giovanni :)

  14. Proper tough one today. I really enjoyed it once I got a foothold. Loved the final wordplay element for 26A . I agree with Giovanni that it is nice to mix it up a bit. A good puzzle, thanks to blogger and setter.

  15. Certainly 4* for me – could only get 3d in NW corner without Libellule’s prompts. After a slow start, I found the rest reasonable though, so was surprised to see the comments about the middle! Liked 13a and 26a, thought 1a too obscure. Nonetheless thanks to Giovanni for an excellent puzzle and to Libellule for the hints.

  16. I thought that this was tricky (as the Friday puzzle should be) and very enjoyable – I’d have given it ****/****. Favourite clues: 26a and 30a. Thanks to Giovanni and Libellule.

  17. Double 5* for me, fabulous puzzle, great clues and a pangram, what more could you ask for? Many thanks to Giovanni and to Libellule.

  18. Impossible for the likes of me, the sort of crossword I used to come across in the Guardian, which is why I stopped buying that paper. Dear Daily Telegraph, I want my one pound twenty back.

  19. Blimey! I’ve had SUCH a struggle today but have finally finished it. I though this was more difficult than any back page puzzle that I’ve met for quite a long time. At one stage I had three left to do and really thought that I was going to give up, but didn’t. I’m glad that it got 4* and that everyone else thought it was a bit on the tricky side – very enjoyable but definitely tricky!
    I got in a muddle with 6d and needed the hint to explain that one – I didn’t know “lob” meaning “lout” so I thought that the “lout” was the “yob” which left me with a bit in the middle that I couldn’t explain. 1d took ages and 15a was my last one – got in a muddle with that too! Favourites today include 1, 10, 13 and 26a and 3, 7 and 18d. With thanks to Giovanni and Libellule. Do hope that your cat is feeling better, Libellule.
    Raining again …. ! I think I might leave the toughie to all the clever ones today!

      1. Might have a little peep later (after I’ve made your cheesy bacon loaf!) as I can really only do indoor stuff today – rain of monsoon proportions! Had intended to cut grass but ….

  20. Managed it over (a slightly longer than usual!) lunch. 26a held me up and so favourite. I joined site about same time as Mary and struggled as she did to begin with. Really enjoy Fridays now. Thanks to all

  21. Glad to see that the missing boots have been found and that Giovanni wore them with such panache today! Thanks to him for an enjoyable crossword and to Libellule for the review.

  22. Slightly less experienced than Mary (only 2 years in), but I thought this was a great test for us learners. There were three or four I needed Libellule’s help with (thanks), but it’s nice to be really stretched and I really look forward to Fridays and Sundays in that respect, as they rarely disappoint. Thanks for a great puzzle Giovanni.
    PS One of those mainly silent devotees, but I do so appreciate this site. Thanks Dave et al.

  23. Well, I have lurked here before. Never before have I felt impelled to comment. Though I needed help on 2, I have to say that I disagree with the other posters who say it was impossible. I found it to be a nice mix of humour and emminently solvable. I hope Giovanni doesn’t listen to the grizzlers because this is definitley what I want!

  24. Wow, that was hard work. 5* and a slight headache here. All made sense in the end apart from 21a. Why a proverbial thief?

    1. Hi Droolie, jackdaws are renowned for their love – and often theft – of bright, shiny objects!

      1. Thanks, but I’m not convinced that being renowned for something is synonymous with proverbial. Are there any actual proverbs, sayings, or common phrases that equate jackdaws with thievery? I can’t find one.

        1. Droolie, the name Jackdaw is derived from “Jack”- a thief or rogue ” and “daw” from its call. I would recommend the poem “The Jackdaw of Rheims” by Rev. R.H. Barham

  25. I’m in the “that was a tough one” camp – needed hints for far too many! Have never heard fof 31a and don’t quite understand 24d – how does grub become feeder? Food, yes, fodder even, but feeder? Perhaps someone will explain? I had most trouble with NE corner – had thought of 5a but couldn’t justify it – so could kick myself for that one, and 13a never, ever occurred to me. Favs were 12a and 29a. Thanks for workout Giovanni and Libellule for enabling me to complete.

    1. Addicted,
      Grub = food, therefore someone/something that “supplies food” would be a feeder, as in for example a bird feeder in a garden.

      1. Of course – “supplies” food – I should read the clues more carefully. Thank you.

  26. This must be a hard as a back page can get. Struggled with 14d and a lucky guess for 26a, needed the explanation for it. Thanks to all.

  27. Far more challenging than the normal Friday offering! It always amazes me that compilers can vary the level of difficulty at will.

    I managed to solve the 4 corner puzzles unaided – but required assistance with the middle one. This grid should be banned!

    Thanks to Giovanni & Libellule

  28. Agree that this was a shade tougher than usual but got through it while also keeping an eye on the snooker in Sheffield.
    Liked : 1a, 12a, 21a, 26a, 1d, 3d, 17d & 24d.

    Off out tonight for dinner to a fish restaurant on the beach in Katwijk to celebrate a friend’s 82nd anniversary!

    Weather definitely improving here in NL!

    1. First asparagus of the season (from the garden) for us tonight Derek. Have a good celebration. Weather in East Kent still hasn’t made its mind up!

    2. We have local gariguettes, white and purple asparagus, but no fresh green, seems our local weather is a problem at the moment.

      1. The rain seems to have worked on our green asparagus and there are lots more little shoots peeping through so it should be asparagus every day for a while. Lovely.

  29. Just logged in to see if it was just me , I see it’s not.
    I usually time my efforts, however I have ditched the watch and am using a calendar.
    Libellule, thanks for review, I will read it when I throw in the towel, at this rate Tuesday.
    Giovanni, what I’ve done has been fun, but it is tricky.

    1. If there were any such thing your comment about “ditching the watch and using the calendar” would be my comment of the day! I’m still laughing and told husband who also thought it was funny. :lol:

  30. Yes this was harder than usual for a Friday ,but as you say Giovanni,you can’t please everyone all of the time, but you get my vote for enjoyment whether it’s ** or ****
    for difficulty and everyone has this wonderful blog to refer to. This was an A team effort to-day and I don’t think I would ever have got 26a by myself and 31a stumped me too.
    Loved 12a, 21a & 17d. Thanks to Giovanni & Libellule

  31. Cracked it with the help of First Mate. Really made our brains work but did it without the help of the hints so really pleased. Worthy of ****/**** from us. Many thanks to G&L

  32. Thanks everyone. Have enjoyed reading the comments. I am in the minority. Found i was on the same wavelength as Giovanni on this occasion. Needed explanation to find out why I had what I did for 26a. Very smart – will remember that one. Many answers just appeared before my eyes which I then confirmed by working out why. On this occasion thus grid did not trouble me. I found I had checking letters for all words apart from 15a. 15a nice trick. I wanted to make it Chester. The crosswords I don’t like are the ‘uneven ones’ when you have one or two stragglers left!

  33. Some very convoluted clues today. It was one for the crossword fanatic, the linguistic genius or the retired gentleman with plenty of spare time to fill (like myself). I did enjoy it but finally gave up this morning and used the hints for my 3 missing answers, all from the bottom right corner.

  34. Thanks to Giovanni & Libellule for the review & hints. Way too tough for me, needed 7 hints & had to look up 3 of them. Didn’t enjoy this at all.

  35. Hi
    Only just finished – a challenging one.

    Got all except 1 d so looked up on another website what words could have the three filled in letters – took a while even then for it to dawn on me that the answer is a religion – dohhhh!!!!


  36. I’d been meaning to ask this for 2 years – do you crossword afficionados actually figure out who the setter is each day based on their style / the complexity, or is it actually stated somewhere? e.g. you all know this is a Giovanni special! Thanks…

      1. On the point of being “constructive” … which fellow blogger sent Bufo an email describing last Thursday’s Excalibur puzzle as “utter tripe”?

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