DT 26861 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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DT 26861

Daily Telegraph Cryptic No 26861

Hints and tips by pommers

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BD Rating – Difficulty **Enjoyment ***

Hola from the Vega Baja and welcome to my 50th blog – not exactly Sachin Tendulkar but a half century ain’t bad!

We have a rather unusual grid today with twelve sets of ‘double unches’ but it didn’t spoil my enjoyment of another excellent Wednesday puzzle.

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.


1a           Thankyou note asks for money (4)
{TAPS} – An informal word meaning asks or begs (someone) for money is made from the usual two letter thankyou followed by a note you might put on the end of a letter.

3a           Learner wearing joke jumper is a clumsy fool (10)
{CLODHOPPER} –The definition is clumsy fool. You need to start with an unusual word, of Irish origin, for a joke, as in a hoax or trick, and insert (wearing) the usual learner and then follow with a word for someone who jumps, especially on one leg.  This was my last in. Never come across the Irish word before but my Gran used to call me one of these – when she wasn’t calling me a lummox, which is pretty much the same thing!

8a           Vulnerable European Community protected by guarantee (8)
{INSECURE} – Insert (protected by) the abbreviation for European Community into a word meaning to guarantee and you get a word meaning vulnerable or at risk.

9a           Voting system is working in gaol (6)
{PRISON} – This word for gaol is a charade of a voting system, IS (from the clue) and a word for working, as in not switched off.

10a         King George and father grab a quiet drink (6)
{GRAPPA} –Drink is the definition, specifically a spirit, of Italian origin, distilled from fermented grape pulp left over after wine making. Take the abbreviation for King George and a short word for your father and insert (grab) A (from the clue) and the musical abbreviation for quiet.  If you’ve never tried this stuff I strongly recommend you keep it that way – it’s revolting and dissolves the fillings out of your teeth!

11a         In the long run such work may be offered (8)
{OVERTIME} – If split (4,4) this word would mean in the long run but as one word it’s some extra work you might be offered.

13a         Bed rest taken regularly after some golf game (8)
{ROUNDERS} – This game, on which baseball is based, is a game of golf followed by the alternate letters (regularly) of bEd ReSt.  Hope I’ve not upset our American friends! Perhaps gnomey can tell us if bed rest is actually needed after a game of golf!

14a         Field sports, initially with copper present (6)
{SPHERE} – A field or area of activity is a charade of S (Sports initially), the abbreviation for a copper coin and a word meaning present or in this place.

16a         Copies given to doctor — that’s curtains! (6)
{DRAPES} – The usual crosswordland word for copies placed after (given to) one of the abbreviations for doctor will give you some curtains.

19a         A lot live dangerously, liable to explode (8)
{VOLATILE} – A word describing something or someone unstable or liable to explode is an anagram (dangerously) of A LOT LIVE.

21a         Put up with topless yobbos and aggressive moves (4,4)
{BEAR HUGS} – These aggressive moves, in wrestling perhaps, are formed from a word meaning to put up with (4) followed by some yobbos without their first letter (topless).

22a         Showing respect after victory in quagmire (6)
{BOWING} – A way of showing respect that’s common in Japan is a word for a victory inserted into a quagmire or swamp.

23a         Religion like this welcoming suggestion (6)
{SHINTO} – Another Japanese reference, this time it’s the indigenous religion of Japan. A short word for ‘like this’ with the sort of suggestion that I’m writing inserted (welcoming)

24a         Grudgingly accept new role in gallery (8)
{TOLERATE} – A word meaning to grudgingly accept is an anagram (new) of ROLE inserted (in) into a famous art gallery.

25a         Land and fit rear arm anew (5,5)
{TERRA FIRMA} –A phrase from Latin meaning solid earth or ground is an anagram (anew) of FIT REAR ARM.

26a         Almost cherished name for man of the church (4)
{DEAN} – In the Church of England this guy is the administrator of a Cathedral. You need a word for cherished or loved one and remove its last letter (almost) and follow with N(ame).


1d           Set off in time and fixed with engineers inside (9)
{TRIGGERED} – Insert (inside) the usual engineers into a word which can mean fixed or kitted out and place after T(ime) to get a word meaning set off or initiated.

2d           Pregnant rep lies about investor (8,7)
{SLEEPING PARTNER} – This sort of investor who takes no active role in a business is an anagram (about) of PREGNANT REP LIES.

3d           South America invested in oil campaign (7)
{CRUSADE} – A sort of campaign is formed by inserting (invested in) South America into some oil as it comes out of the ground.

4d           Old fools, trapping English wild cats (7)
{OCELOTS} – To get these wild cats start with O(ld) and follow with some fools or idiots and then insert (trapping) E(nglish).

5d           Unfortunate — splashed endlessly around (7)
{HAPLESS} – A word meaning unfortunate or unlucky is an anagram (around) of SPLASHE (splashe(d) endlessly).

6d           How Marxists might celebrate a victory? (5,3,4,3)
{PAINT THE TOWN RED} – A cryptic definition of how Marxists or communists might celebrate.  Could also apply to Man U or Liverpool supporters if either of them ever win the Premiership again!

7d           Called with electronic compass (5)
{RANGE} – Like 14a this is a word for your compass as in your field or area of activity. It’s a word for called, on the phone perhaps, followed by E(lectronic).

12d         Ruin most of planet (3)
{MAR} – A word for ruin or spoil is one of the planets without its last letter (most of).

15d         Always popular, the first lady runs without experience (9)
{EVERGREEN} – Start with the first lady, then R(uns) and then a word for without experience to get a word meaning always popular.

17d         Mourn the French way? (3)
{RUE} – To mourn or regret is also the French word for a street (way).

18d         Block sources of support and help useless posh bloke (4,3)
{SHUT OFF} – To get a term meaning to block or stop the flow of you need the first letters (sources of) Support and Help Useless and a slang word for a posh or upper class bloke and then split the result (4,3).

19d         One who calls for victory — is it over outside? (7)
{VISITOR} – This is someone who calls round to your house. It’s V(ictory) followed by IS IT (from the clue and then OR (OveR outside).

20d         Nothing found in unusually labile plant (7)
{LOBELIA} – Insert O (nothing) into an anagram (unusually) of LABILE to get some plants.  This might be the first time ever that I’ve solved a plant clue without any checkers!

21d         Live group getting besieged (5)
{BESET} – A common crosswordland term for live or exist followed by a group gives a word meaning besieged.

No stand out favourites today although I did quite like 10a – the clue that is, NOT the drink!

The Quick crossword pun: {accede} + {hence} = {accidents}

76 comments on “DT 26861

  1. I thought this was harder than 2* at least for me, but I thought it was a great challenge, with no unreasonable clues and nicely written word play. Thanks to both and congrats on your 50. Now on to the century!

    1. Morning Wozza
      I see from the bit on the right that gnomey has his century and Prolixic just needs a single!

  2. I quite liked this one today; nice surface readings, and plenty of enjoyment, as we come to expect from Jay.
    Thanks to setter, and to pommers for the review.

    Back to the toughie which is not falling together quite as well as this one did!

  3. Morning Pommers from a dreary dull day in Canterbury.
    Congrats on your 50, look forward to the ton.
    A steady and enjoyable slog for me with a few blind alleys, but got there in the end with no outside agency help.
    Worried about the compilers taste in booze, we’ve had Grappa today and Marc recently, both designed to cause grief.
    Thanks to the compiler for a good start to my day.

    1. There’s a Spanish equivalent called Orujo which is just as bad! It may come up one day as Jay lived in Spain for several years.

  4. Congratulations on the half ton Pommers but I think you’re going to need a few boundaries to catch up with some of the others.

    Very enjoyable again today with no great problems but requiring the grey cells to work hard. Can’t say that any clue stands out as a favourite, but 20D has always tickled me as a name for a flower. Not only am I a fanatical Discworld aficianado, but I have always enjoyed H.E. Bates’ Darling Buds Of May books, Ma Larkin names her twin girls after her favourite flowers – Zinnia and Petunia – I’ve always wondered how thongs would have panned out if her favourites were 20D and Begonia.

    1. Hi Collywobs

      No, a double unch is two consecutive unchecked letters, as found in 1a et al today. They usually make things a bit harder, apart from in 4 letter words perhaps.

      1. Tks Pommers, could you say that again in a slightly different way. Are the 2 unchecked letters the ones that represent ‘thankyou’?

        1. I always got mixed up with the meaning of double unches too pommers, if you look at the black squares of the grid there are at least 8 today, they are two black square together, why they are called this I’ve no idea! they make the puzzle more difficult, oh yes unch stands for unchecked! Maybe someone more familiar with them can explain better?

            1. pommers can a double unch go downwards too, or just across, because if so there are two down ones as well?

              1. They can go across or down but I can’t see any in today’s downs Where are they?.

                1. perhaps they don’t count as they are at edge of crossword? after 1a andafter 25a?

                2. Just to clarify, unches are the white cells, not the black ones. An unch is an ‘unchecked cell’ – that is, it only contributes to one answer (either across or down). The opposite is a checked cell, one which form the intersection of an across and down answer.
                  A double unch is where two unchecked cells are next to each other – this can be across or down but in today’s grid it’s restricted to the across answers only. They’re not particularly popular with solvers as they can make clues harder to solve (unless the setter’s conscience leads to deliberately easier clues).
                  Most newspaper series allow double unches; even The Times, but the rule there is that double unches can’t appear as the first or last two letters of the answer.

                    1. Thanks Anax, I understand it, it’s 2 white cells together which cannot contribute to another clue. It never ocurred to me before but I can see the point

                  1. Thanks Anax.

                    BTW – defeated by one clue in your Toughie today but it might just come to me before the blog is posted!

  5. Hola pommers, I thought this was at least a three star today, on first run through I only got 5 and needed your help for 1d and 10a!! two fav clues today 17d and 16a, perservation did it for me today, don’t give up folks, it is doable if you have the time and determination :-) Thanks for help/blog pommers together with books and electronic friends I got there! I bet your glad to be home, shame you didn’t take this weather with you! cold wet and grey today, dentist this afternoon, all good fun! My brother and his wife went just over a week ago in their campervan and are now somewhere near Valencia, I get updates each day about the sunshine etc. I think we will follow them out next year, they are gone for five or six weeks, nice :-)

      1. I agree Mary, my first pass got 9 clues but I still found it hard. 3* for me. Congrats Pommers on you half century

        1. I’d like to revise that. Once I got into it I moved very quickly. I thought that the’p’ in 14a was a bit iffy. 2* for me

          1. Trust me to think 21a was something (L)outs…..got the first part right….thought it sounded a little odd as an expression of putting up with things :-)

    1. Hi Mary
      I must have just been ‘in the zone’ this morning, a couple of minutes quicker and it would have been 1*! That would have put the cat among the pigeons by the sound of comments so far!

      Certainly glad to be back in the warmth! Unusually warm for May at the moment :grin:

  6. The RHS went in very quickly this morning whereas the LHS was a bit of a struggle, especially the NW corner. I was a little disappointed when Sweet Pea(s) didn’t fit into 20d !!

  7. Congrats on your 50th pommers.
    Lovely crossword today, I thought, although much more of a 3* for me, if only because of 1a and 1d which took me ages. I’ve never heard of the Irish word for joke in 3a – my Dad used to refer to something as “a load of cod” – have now looked it up and I don’t think he meant a joke! I got 21a wrong – I had “bear OUTS”, thinking that it was yet another expression I didn’t know and that the yobbos were (L)outs! Oh dear!
    Lots of favourites today – 3, 13 and 16a and 2, 6 (have had that one fairly recently, I think) and 12d. With thanks to Jay and pommers.
    Grey and mizzly here today. :sad:

    1. Kath
      If it makes you feel any better, I also thought of ‘bear outs’ at one point!

      1. Thanks – it does make me feel marginally better to know that you THOUGHT of it. What doesn’t is that you obviously didn’t write it in!! :sad:

    2. I always considered a load of Cods as meaning a load of codswallop, ie rubbish. Luckily, I remember seeing COD as joke some years ago, probably in the DT crossword.

      1. I always thought that cod meaning sham or joke and codpiece had the same derivation, but apparently it’s not so.

  8. This was a lovely puzzle. Not too taxing, just the right difficulty for a Weds. The clues are really well written and the setter only once resorts to using the first letter of an arbitrary word, when sometimes we have the amount of these clues in a puzzle moving towards 10. It is good to see so much variety and the surface readings are fluid. More of this please.
    Well done to setter and thanks and congrats to pommers on your 50th.

  9. Congratulations Pommers. I thought this one easier than yesterday so have given it **/***. Some excellent clues – last in was 1a – simple really but could not spot it for a while. Another grey day in Guildford but at least it feels warmer. Thanks to setter and Pommers

  10. Lovely Wednesday puzzle thank you Jay. Perfect to cheer me up on returning to work on this muggy grey morning. No special favourites. Thanks to Pommers too – 50 eh?! I am just reaching my two year anniversary. I am sure you will agree with me that blogging for BD is certainly life transforming.

    Apart from a couple of clues (one of which will be on the receiving end of a big grump from me when the review goes up) I didn’t find the Elkamere Toughie that bad. Just off to try his other alter ego in the FT.

    1. Hi Sue
      You’re well past your century of blogs – I’m just a novice by comparison!

      I bet the big grump in the Toughie will be the one I can’t see!

    2. Could this be a day for me to give even looking at the toughie a miss? Having said that it’s now raining properly so might have a quick peep after dog walk.

  11. Great crossword today, really enjoyed it, perhaps I’m improving. My last entry was 1A, as I struuggled with the NW corner. Thanks to the setter and Pommers for the confirmations.

    1. It’s Wednesday so it’s probably Jay. Certainly feels like one of his.

      Don’t see anything iffy about 19a unless it’s just that it’s a bit easy because most of the answer is just lifted straight from the clue.

  12. An enjoyable but gentle puzzle today – quickly solved.
    First in was10a – I used to drink this a lot when in Italy in the old days – last bottle I had was alla ruta but I eventually gave it to an Italian colleague (who was very pleased) as I prefer G&T and malt whisky! Also jenever with smoked eel (gerookte paling).

    A few anagrams but these are not a problem to a retired physicist.
    Liked 23a.

    Weather here is now much better – spring at long last!

    Asparagus for dinner with NZ sauvignon blanc..

  13. I really enjoyed this one today…a real sense of achievement as it wasn’t at all obvious.

  14. Enjoyed today’s very much esp after yesterday’s which I found very frustrating. The anagrams were intact today and I agree (makes a change I hear you mutter) with the difficulty assessment. Best clue for me was 3a. Don’t suppose there will be a xword for me tomorrow if it is by my nemesis so I have booked a round of golf instead, just as frustrating but t least I get some exercise!

  15. Congrats Pommers on your half century, and thanks for the review; also thanks to Jay for an enjoyable puzzle. Where I came from originally, Notts., 3a would have been associated with heavy footwear, rather than a clumsy fool. My mum used to say ” Take those 3as off before you come in. I’ve just mopped the floor”.
    Lovely spring day here in West Cumbria, but still gets cold at night. Mrs B is treating her tomatoes like new born babes.

  16. Another good one – took me 5 stops on the District Line to get 2d! DOH!! Last in was 8a. Good to finish it.

  17. Very enjoyable but all over very quickly except for two answers which went in after a few more time periods (but still just over a one-stopper). Thanks muchly to Jay and to pommers as well – congrats on the half-century (I missed my century and had to be reminded!). Was your sticky clue the cricket one?

    1. Cricket clue the tricky one. Otherwise a great puzzle. Prolixic will make his ton next weekend with his review of the NTSPP so remember to congatulate him :grin:

      I would have given this 1* but for 3a which I stared at for about 2 minutes before my Gran came to the rescue – as a young boy I was very clumsy and she always called me a clohdopper or a lummox when she wanted me to get out of her way :smile: – happy days!

  18. Phew! I got there in the end. 4d, last in, was a new animal for me to remember – which I somehow managed to get just when I was on the verge of heading here for the hints. A very enjoyable puzzle with some tricky ones that gave lots of satisfaction when solved – 3a giving most pleasure. ***/***

    1. “Not a lot of Ocelots” was a top headline from the Sun in Alan B’Stard’s “The New Statesman”. I think it was a car manufacturer

  19. Well done pommers on your 50th, see you in the autumn if all goes well. For me a 3*, and thanks to Jay for I think it is is he

    1. I’m 99% certain that this is a Jay puzzle, it usually is on a Wedesday and I’ve now blogged 47 of them so I can see the mindset..
      Called in at Big Dave’s place on the way north from Cornwall last week for a cup of tea and a much welcomed break in the long journey – much better than Strensham services. Also met Mrs BD, BD’s son and Max and Badger (dogs) and while there Dave mentioned a potential Midlands Sloggers and Betters in the Autumn so I’ll keep the eyes peeled. Be nice to meet you and anyone else from the blog again.

  20. Very nice challenge today, althougth I also thought “bear outs” was some kind of winning move in wrestling. Thanks to Jay and nice half century Pommers, although not a boat or bit of exposed flesh to be seen. Just back from Antigua Sailing Week – did you ever go?

    1. Hi zofbak
      No, never been to the W’indies but look forward to the cricket this Summer.
      Spent most of my sailing years in the Irish Sea (nasty), the English Channel (nearly as bad) or the Greek islands (wonderful). Always fancied the Caribbean but I guess that won’t happen now :sad:

      Lacking in photo opprortunities today but perhaps Jay will give me a break next week. We live in hope!

  21. Going to bed now as it’s midnight here. Blew the quiz tonight by only getting 4 out of 20 on the last round! Well it was hard – do you know what number David Beckham had on his shirt in his first World Cup match or how many points you get for a ‘behind’ in Aussie rules football? They were probably the easier questions!

    See y’all tomorrow

  22. Thought this was probably a ***/*** for me. Kept getting distracted by more and more news re the demise of Blackburn Rovers. Then having to work! Some very good clues. Many thanks all.

  23. Thanks to the setter and Pommers for the review and hints.Well done for reaching the 50. Don’t like double unches either, but only noticed when I was trying to solve 8a, which was the last one in. Quite a good puzzle, enjoyed 10a which I’d never heard of, but got it from the word play. Nice to see 20d again, the usual way of clawing this is to use highball to get the first syllable. Favourite was 19d, although I couldn’t parse it ! Late blogging due to the Squash Tournament again. Can someone move the Jetstream north of the British Isles, then we might get some decent weather :-)

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