DT 26928 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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DT 26928

Daily Telegraph Cryptic No 26928

Hints and tips by Digby

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

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

“Beware, all who enter here!” Big Dave did warn me that this one somehow found its way onto the back page, but really belongs in Toughie Territory.  Have a go – with lateral thinking, and generous helpings of perservation, it is solvable.  I found the “Downs” marginally easier, so you might try that approach. Happy solving!

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.


7a           Blair finally dragged into his old school in chains (7)
{FETTERS} To derive this synonym for chains insert (drag into) the final letter of our ex-PM’s surname into the preparatory school that he attended in Edinburgh

8a           Judicial examiner getting gold returned — he may be happy to go on record (7)
{CROONER} Reverse the gold (OR) element of a court official, and find the kind of singer of whom Sinatra is probably the best-known

10a         Queen conceivably protected by most uncivilised creature (10)
{WILDEBEEST} This African mammal is constructed by inserting (protecting) a buzzy kind of queen into an adjective describing “most uncivilised”

11a         Dispute among characters in ‘Flaubert’s Parrot’ (4)
{SPAR} Hidden in the final two words is a kind of dispute

12a         Without her Olympic chief’s not in short articulate (8)
{COHERENT} Is it Olympic Week or what? Wrap the little Lord who planned it all without HER, and add the truncated (short) version of NOT, to derive a word meaning articulate

14a         Loathsome one of the Smiths less than tuneful (6)
{ODIOUS} You need the first name of the Smith who duo-ed with Griff Rhys Jones. Subtract (less) this from a word for tuneful, and you get another meaning loathsome

ARVE Error: need id and provider

15a         Peanuts that may get scattered around Dorking? (11)
{CHICKENFEED} As a farmer’s son I should have known that a Dorking is a farmyard free-ranger. Peanuts could be part of its diet, and is another word for insignificant.

19a         Succeeded with identical-sounding follow-up (6)
{SEQUEL} S(ucceeded) + a word that sounds like identical = follow-up (often applied to TV / films)

20a         On reflection most of Etna is uneven and alien (8)
{VENUSIAN} The answer is hidden / reversed (on reflection) in the clue, and describes someone from another planet

22a         Guitar part giving trouble (4)
{FRET} Double definition – one being the metal strip on a guitar’s keyboard

23a         She’s picked on Conservative leader in articles in Germany, Spain and France (10)
{CINDERELLA} Build this pantomime babe from C(onservative) IN (from the clue) and the three definite articles

25a         Dicky reviles fawning (7)
{SERVILE} Dicky is the anagram indicator for a word meaning unctuous

26a         Uproar about student love affair (7)
{CLAMOUR} A synonym for uproar is derived from C (about) the standard Learner and a French tryst


1d           Phrasebook with ‘wreath containing cross’? That’s got to mislead (7)
{LEXICON} Insert (containing) X into a kind of garland, followed by a misleading trick, to derive a book of words

2d           Revival of drug test oddly exposing testosterone type (4)
{STUD} Take the odd letters of drug test and reverse (revive) them  to find this “meaty male hunk”

3d           A smallholder ultimately practised kind of farming (6)
{ARABLE} Take A, the final letter of smallholdeR and add a synonym for practiced = cultivated farming

4d           Disaster immediately on the news (5-3)
{WRITE-OFF} The result of a bad car-smash sounds (a bit?) like something that needs doing straight away. Homophones aren’t my favourite kind of clues.

5d           Belligerence stands out in uppity oaf (10)
{BOLSHINESS} Reverse a kind of oaf (often linked to fat) and in-sert a word for something that stands out (like a star) to find this word – derived from a member of the extreme Communist Party.

6d           The Flying Horse’s soft sausage rolls lacking original character (7)
{PEGASUS} Follow the musical term for soft with a reversal (rolls) of sausage with the A (original / first character) missing, and Bellerophon’s steed emerges. With thanks to Gazza for spotting my deliberate mistake in the original hint.

9d           Indicator of onset of rain stopping unexpected heatwave over north-east (7,4)
{WEATHER VANE} An anagram (unexpected) of HEATWAVE and the onset of R(ain), followed by NE produce an indicator linked to the theme of the clue. Is this a semi-all-in-one? Clue classification is not my strong suit

13d         Sweeping hit for six nothing short of vexatious, eh? (10)
{EXHAUSTIVE} “Hit for six” is a new anagrind to me. The fodder is the last two words in the clue, minus O (nothing short) and the answer is a synonym for sweeping, as in thorough

16d         Parky’s visit creating unexpected buzz (4,4)
{COLD CALL} The sort of intrusion, unpopular to most, is derived from synonyms of the first two words in the clue

17d         Dense Romeo overwhelmed with uncontrolled desire (7)
{SERRIED} An anagram (uncontrolled) of DESIRE, with R(omeo) inserted, produce a word meaning shoulder-to-shoulder

18d         Inexperienced? Not with us getting hardened (7)
{CALLOUS} Start with a 6-letter word for inexperienced, remove (without) the final letter W(ith) and add US. This kind of hardness is associated with feelings, and the big toe!

21d         Ignore closing seconds of unwelcome heckle (6)
{NEEDLE} Remove SS (closing seconds) from a synonym for unwelcome to derive a kind of provocative heckle

24d         Alpha male with chronic fatigue syndrome turning up for work (4)
{EMMA} A(lpha) M(ale) + M(yalgic) E(ncephalomyelitis) all reversed (turning up) produce this epic Austen work

Are you still with me? Can someone lead me into Naughty Corner and turn the lights out. Or was it just that, at 5am, my brain hadn’t engaged? Do let me know what you think.

The Quick crossword pun: {rocks} + (Emu} + {sic} = {Roxy Music}

ARVE Error: need id and provider

92 comments on “DT 26928

  1. I thought this one was extremely enjoyable (5* for entertainment for me). Thanks to Petitjean (it must be him?) and to Digby for the amusing review.
    I’d like to nominate 16d for clue of the month (especially after Parky was used to mean something completely different in the Quickie).

    1. Hi Gazza,
      BD suggested that this was a Petitjean Puzzle too.
      No argument from me as to your Enjoyment Rating.
      I gave a mere 3* as “punishment” for making my brain ache!
      Always nice to see a link between Cryptic & Quickie.

      1. Digby,
        I think that 6d is meant to be a reversal (rolls) of sausage after the P, with the A missing.

  2. Loved the quick pun. Finished this with lots of electronic assistance and used one of my 5 letters for 24d plus needed the explanation, otherwise it was solveable by the word play. Fav 7, 8,12. Thanks Digby, and to the setter (torturer) whoever he/she maybe, now going to lie down in the darkened room happy with my new knowledge regarding hens!

  3. Very tough for a back page, but good fun. At least 4* on both counts for me.
    Thanks to setter, and to Digby for the review.

    I think a couple of the letters in the answer to 8a need to be reversed.

  4. Golly! After ages got most but needed Digby to solve remainder and explain some. A real sweat and not enjoyed because I felt so weedy.

  5. Thanks for explaining the ones we just couldn’t get Digby – think you made a mistake with the answer you put down for 8a – should reverse letters 2 and 3 in the answer you’ve given or 4 down just won’t work. We were delighted to get two thirds of the answers of a 5* difficulty.

  6. Thursday for me is fast turning into a no-go area. I managed a few but I find the alliteration/syntax of the clues too obscure for my feeble brain. Just doesn’t gel for me. Even with the excellent hints above I struggle with some of them. Not pleasant.

  7. I’ve never commented before but felt the need to express my extreme satisfaction in completing this one all by myself. It was hard.
    I do have one question/niggle. Re. clue 19a, is S a recognised abbreviation for succeeded?

    1. A warm welcome to the blog Corky
      I’m sure someone will point out the authority for this abbreviation – it doesn’t appear in my reference material, but it’s the only explanation that fits the clue.

        1. Thank you. That would have been my best guess but it would have been just that – a guess.

      1. Thank you for the welcome.

        I regularly follow the blog, especially on those (not infrequent) occasions when I need a helping hand.
        I do have another question. How do you guys know who set the crossword? That’s a puzzle I’ve never been able to solve.

      2. I’ve always gone by the principle that *any* noun can be replaced by just its first letter – given the frequency with which clues turn words into single letters it’s helped a lot, especially when you have limited knowledge of genealogy etc…

        V tough today – def 5*

  8. Before remembering the correct spelling of 10a, I wondered whether the first five letters were derived from a non-PC meaning of ‘queen’ and referred to a certain playwright. ;)

  9. Enjoyed the challenge of this one. Only got two clues on my initial skim through but finished in usual time with husband’s help. Finished, that is, apart from 5d! Neither of us, even with electronic help, could get that one. Had to dash for a blood pressure check at 9.30am, it was raised. Guess who I blame!

  10. I enjoyed this puzzle a lot, and, like others, I thought that it was probably by Petitjean.

    I can’t agree with the 5* rating for difficulty, though; I thought it was a good bit easier than that, although slightly tougher than the average back-pager.

    1. Hi Qix, It’s a very subjective assessment, and clearly depends upon many factors.
      I don’t keep a stop-watch running, so tend to judge by how much electronic help – some say cheating – I need.
      With this puzzle I needed quite a lot of such help, and still feel that it really belongs nearer the centre-fold.
      Let’s agree to differ!

  11. I would say this was totally out of place on the back page. Might put the average solver off buying the Telegraph

    1. I tend to agree (see my previous reply), but take Mary’s advice and keep perservating!

    2. You’re absolutely right phercott, this should never have appeared. A waste of another £1.20, a mistake I’m getting tired of making.
      Don’t have enough time to go through everything that I hated about this, but top of the list is probably expecting typical Telegraph readers to know what a Dorking is. Unforgiveable.

    3. Perhaps that’s why it wasn’t on the back page today! Just a big advert instead.

  12. I am just looking at this and am glad I read your comment at the top Digby! after half an hour I have done just three and was just thinking I’d been away too long!!! Ah well here goes with the tons of perservation then :-)

  13. Best back pager for weeks, many thanks to the setter and to Digby for the entertaining review. I loved 8a and 16d.

  14. ok have finished this with a lot of perservation, usual ‘help’ and help from Digby, thank you Digby, I think if I had more determination today I could have done better but there were clues I would never have got, one or two I liked 26a and 9d, I thought the reading of 12a was terrible! and S for succeeded I would never have known, I didn’t know where Blair had gone to school, indeed is it something I really need to know :-) ? surely in 24d work could be anything, although the answer was obvious, not one of my favourite but perhaps not quite as hard as I first thought, keep on perservating everyone
    Thanks for hints and help Digby

  15. Wish i had’nt started it, looked obscure at first glance,unfortunately i was right.Put a few answers in and then the slog began, clues were gettable if you managed to guess what you were looking for-*****/*** for me.More of a marathon than a sprint.Thanks to Digby for the wordplay, still don’t get the ‘ent’ bit of 12a, liked 15a and 23a,never heard of 17d.Hope tomorrow’s a bit easier!

  16. Phew! Found this a lot trickier than today’s Elkamere Toughie but great fun – Mel Smith indeed! Guessed 7a from the checkers and then had to look up the school, and also had the bright idea to look up dorking to see if was anything other than a Surrey town!

    Think I’d go for 5*/5* for this one. Almost certainly Petitjean for me as I felt I needed the ‘slightly mad hat’ to get there :lol:

    Thanks to the setter and also to Digby.

    1. Hi Polly,
      Do you like Dorking?
      I don’t know, I’ve never dorked.
      (thanks to Mrs Digby for this one)

          1. Well, I likes a bit of change every now and then and everyone seems to like the Quickie puns so I thought – why not?

            But I’ll stick with my real name on blogging days.

  17. I’m SO glad that this one had 5* for difficulty – I think that it’s taken me longer than ever before. I’m not sure that I’ve seen a back page puzzle given 5* since I’ve been reading this blog. I enjoyed the whole thing but did think, at various stages, that I wasn’t even going to get close to finishing it.
    I probably could say something about almost every clue but will spare you all!! I needed the hints to explain 5 and 21d. I’m still not sure what tells us to leave out an “A” in 6d although the answer was obvious.
    Lots of clues that I really liked so just a few are 15, 25 and 26a and 4, 9 and 18d. Best of all for me today was 16d – brilliant!
    With thanks to the setter and Digby.

    1. Hi Kath,
      6d The Flying Horse’s soft sausage rolls lacking original character (7)
      “A” is the “original character” in the alphabet

      1. Thanks Digby – how dim can I possibly be? Just kept looking at it and thinking that the original character in “sausage” is “S”! :oops:

        1. Me too! Think I might have woken the neighbours from their siesta when the penny suddenly dropped with a clang that could be heard in Madrid!

  18. Absolute nightmare, has no place on the back page at all. DT hold your head in shame!

    1. Brian

      Have you ever asked yourself why the Telegraph, or any other newspaper, should only publish puzzles that you can solve? How will you ever improve your ability if you never get stretched? It’s a bit like saying that no-one who can cycle faster than you should be able to enter the Tour de France.

      1. I would love to improve BD but you have to ask yourself, why do I do crossword puzzles? Is it to pass an enjoyable hour or so in the mornings over breakfast etc or is it make ones brain so hot it feels as if it could explode on occasions. I def fit into the former category. I have no problem with the DT publishing the Toughie for those looking to improve and hone their skills, all I ask is that there is a credible alternative. After all why should the experts have all the fun.

        1. BTW. I did mange some 10 answers so at least I can feel I have made a little progress over the years. :-)

        2. It’s a good job that Digby reviewed this instead of me as it only clocked up about 4 stars on the difficulty meter. Looking at the comments, it seems that the clues based on general knowledge gave a bit of grief. Fette(r)s was the first one I put in and knowing that a Dorking was a type of chicken helped more than the fact that I used to live near there. Other than those two, the rest were solvable with a bit of persistence.

          As Anax mentions on the Toughie blog, the real culprit here is the dreadful grid in which a number of answers have less than 50% checking. A number of us have been asking for a major overhaul of the grids for some time.

    2. Brian, spot on, if this was typical of Telegraph crosswords I’d change papers.

      1. … but it’s NOT typical of a back page puzzle. One of the best things about Tuesdays and Thursdays is the complete unpredictability. For that reason they are my favourite days of the week – well, at least, from the crossword point of view!

  19. I’m with gazza here – tremendous fun and nice;y tricky. Thanks to petitjean and to Digby for a fine review.

  20. I enjoyed this puzzle but it took longer than usual. 17d is a word I have never come across before. 21d I would never have associated with either unwelcome (even with the ss) or heckle.
    Thanks Digby and setter.

  21. May I join in with my first ever contribution? I should have known that being brought up on a diet of Gilbert and Sullivan would come in useful one day. Re 17d – Nanki-Poo’s first song in The Mikado contains the line “Their warriors in serried ranks assembled”.
    Very tough – thanks for explaining Dorking.

    1. Welcome to the flock Soaring Eagles and Grumpy Turkeys, Albatross
      G&S put in frequent appearances, so your upbringing won’t be wasted.

  22. This was hard and I was pleased to see that Digby gave it 5* which , like Kath, I don’t think I had seen before. However, I am equally pleased with myself for completing it except for 5d (had to look in the brackets) and 15a but got this when I read Digby’s hint. I think i enjoyed it & think 23a is a brilliant clue. Thanks to Pettijean & Digby.

  23. Did a little poll of six solving friends. We all agreed that we want a crossword that entertains us . One that we can solve without resorting to electronics. We don’t have time to spend working out ridiculously involved clues. Humour, ingenuity and half an hour (more or less) of relaxation. The Telegraph crosswords in past years used to provide all of that. Few of the puzzles now do

    1. I don’t mind a tough challenge now and again. This was a real test but I think the DT is mainly fair for me. Don’t need the blog for answers so often but always check in just for the ratings. I was chuffed to solve this only checking that serried was indeed a word! Helps that I was poolside and had plenty time in the Baleari

  24. When I saw the puzzle on the inside of the back page I was ready to have a grumble. Then I turned the page to see what had pushed my crossword from its proper place – and the grumble crumbled!

  25. I’ve read all these comments with some interest, so thought I’d post this under my real name instead of Polly.

    OK, this was much trickier than usual for a back-pager but is eminently solveable. Pommette and I solved it over lunch as usual with only two looks in the BRB. One to check an answer that we’d worked out from the wordplay and one to check if a word had other meanings wot we didn’t know. As Polly I said it was 5* difficulty, but that’s for the back page. As a Toughie I would give it 2* (or perhaps just edging into 3*).

    The only 2 dodgy bits for me (that needed the BRB) were that I think it’s a bit off to expect us to know what school Tony Blair attended and the Dorking bit was a tad obscure. Apart from that, what’s the problem? If all puzzles were easy they would get very boring! I like a challenge occasionally and this certainly provided one!

    1. agreed. nuff said. Thanks as always to Digby and setter.A few years ago I would have been in Brian and Grumpy Andrews camp. However I Lurked, learned a bit and continue to learn

      1. My point exactly! Suppose it depends on whether you actually WANT to get better – some people can’t be arsed :grin:

    2. Yes, pommers and Andy – I agree with you both, although I really did find this difficult and my confidence now has as big a dent in it as my car has after Tuesday evening.

      1. Sorry about the car Kath, but it happens to us all. Taken my ‘pontificating hat’ off so reverted to Polly! :grin:

        Too much angst about this puzzle IMHO.
        It was hard but fair and an occasional wake-up doesn’t do any harm. At the end of the day it’s just a puzzle and if it was a hard one, so what? A surprise on the back page perhaps but you’ve been doing Toughies recently so don’t let it knock your confidence, you’re pretty good as far as i can see (BD could do with some more bloggers!).

  26. In 5d, I don’t think oaf is synonymous with slob.

    And can somebody please explain 8a. I understand OR backwards, but where does the rest of the word (coner) come from?

    Hardest for a long time for me – really stretched the old grey matter!

      1. Hi Gazza, didn’t know we were allowed to give the game away, otherwise I would have said exactly same.

        1. Hi Pommers,
          As this has been an extreme sort of day on the blog, I decree that a slight relaxation of “The Rules” is in order.

        2. There are no rules, except for weekend prize puzzles. The hints evolved during the early days of the blog in response to requests for a “second-chance saloon”. However, once you get as far as the comments it is caveat emptor. (and that’s not Latin for beware the dog!)

        3. This isn’t a prize crossword so we can be explicit in the comments if someone is still having a problem understanding the wordplay even after reading the excellent hint.

  27. Hi Nora

    CONER doesn’t come into it! Take the Judicial examiner, at an inquest perhaps, and reverse the OR to get someone who might like to make a record.

  28. Phew, what a stinker! Half went in quite easily, some more a little more slowly, and the last five had to wait until the end of the working day. That left me with a complete crossword and three big “WHY”s writen by the clues…

    Thanks to Digby and PJ, especially for the very welcome image of Blair being dragged away in chains – you know he derserves it!

  29. Yep a real tester for me, the no electric help regime got binned in very short order.
    Needed lots of help from the review so thanks for that Digby.

    Didn’t really enjoy it, when I read a hint and think…that’s clever, no problem, when I read it and still don’t get it because of some really obscure references then I tend to lose interest.

    Anyway thanks to Petitjean, learnt some new words and clue constructions.

  30. Thanks to the setter, and to Digby for the review & hints. Way too tough for me, only managed 14 answers, used 6 hints, had to look 6 up. I wish I could improve, but couldn’t see the wordplay on most of them. Saw it for 17d, had the anagram fodder, but had never heard of the word, which is fine but frustrating. Roll on Monday.

  31. I agree with both sides of the argument/discussion, the toughie is there to provide for those who are more expert and able solvers and if we on the other side of the coin want to improve even more we can attempt this, daily after our back page puzzle, I would never ever have improved if todays puzzle had been typical of the back page puzzle when I set off on my cryptic travels just over three years ago, however as an occasional tougher puzzle thrown in I don’t mind it, but I agree if these were to crop up too often they would be completely discouraging, solvable? yes, hard work? yes, enjoyable? no too many of these and I’m afraid I might disappear into the cryptic labyrinth never to emerge!

    1. Welcome back Mary and welcome too your good common sense and words of reason. Let us hope that the powers that be at the DT see the common sense of your reasoning.

    2. Hi Mary and welcome back.

      You are right IMHO. Most puzzles get either 2* or 3* for difficulty with the occasional 1* or 4*. So why is it a problem if there’s a once a year (or longer) 5* chucked in? Keeps everyone on their toes and stop complacency.

      If you could solve this one you can do Toughies, if you couldn’t then perhaps stick to the back page.

  32. This was one of the hardest back page x-words I have encountered. I fancy many of you are overly inflating you skills. I think now I have figured it all out with a few nudges here and there some of you doth lie some what! This was a 5 star back pager through and through.

  33. Since when is equel an english word (19 across) Also Suggest some of the dissenters go downmarket to the SUN coffee time or be more persevating(which isnt an english word either

    1. Welcome to the blog Chris

      It is fairly common to have homophones of segments of words that are not themselves words.

      Perservation is a neologism coined by regular commenter Mary.

    2. It’s perservating Chris not persevating, perservation/perservating a mixture of perspiration and perserverance!!!

  34. Could not agree more with phercott ,after many years of enjoyment with dt crosswords may well look elsewhere it was not challenging it was typical toughie rubbish which I only bother with if snowed in !

  35. As a relative novice I found it very tough and agree that there was little opportunity to use checking letters. It seems to have created substantial blog traffic, which must mean something!

  36. Absolutely brilliant puzzle.
    All initially Ok apart from 5d and 18d which took quite some time (ages!!!) to get.
    But persavation triumphs, always!
    My advice? Persavate.
    Many thanks. setter, look forward to many more of yours, and Digby.
    Is it me or is the DT subscription site extremely irritating?

    1. Good Morning Your Liege,
      You may see from the blog that this puzzle (by Petitjean, by the way) provoked widely divergent opinions as to its difficulty and enjoyment.
      As a “back-pager” I believe that it probably merits 4* in both categories, but a couple of clues persuaded me to a 5/3 assessment.
      It certainly proved that you can only please some of the bloggers some of the time!

  37. I know I am three weeks behind, but someone will see this…..till I got stuck on my last couple of clues, I hadn’t looked at the blog so didn’t realise it was a difficult puzzle…now get this, I can only rarely get near finishing a toughie, this shows the paralyzing power of fear! There is a lesson somewhere…..and I think Fettes and Dorking are perfectly good general knowledge expectations. I do read the blog for all the crosswords, would comment more if I did them sooner!

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