DT 26940 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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DT 26940

Daily Telegraph Cryptic No 26940

Hints and tips by Gazza

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

Swapping days with Pommers this week has given me the chance to blog what I’m pretty sure is a puzzle by Petitjean, one of my favourite setters (though I prefer his back-pagers to some of his Toughies). I thought that this one was a fair bit easier than his previous couple of crosswords (which evoked howls of protest) and I was tempted to give it 2* for difficulty but decided that might induce apoplexy in some readers – so I’ve settled for 3*. I enjoyed it a lot. How about you?

Across Clues

5a  Tears shed before Tevez finally makes substitute (6)
{ERSATZ} – the surface is a reference to the temperamental Argentinian footballer who, allegedly, refused to come on as a substitute for his club Manchester City. An anagram (shed) of TEARS followed by the last letter of (Teve)Z makes a word, from German, meaning substitute (often referring to something of inferior quality, such as the coffee made from acorns which the Germans had to drink during the war).

8a  Cheryl’s regulation salad (8)
{COLESLAW} – the surname of ‘celebrity’ Cheryl is followed by the ‘S from the clue and a synonym for regulation to make a salad dish.

9a  Swimming coach admitting start of training before international is disorganised (7)
{CHAOTIC} – an anagram (swimming) of COACH contains (admitting) the start letter of T(raining) and I(nternational).

10a  One of four players with some flair in golf (5)
{RINGO} – hidden (some) in the clue is one of the ‘fab four’ players.

11a  Making shaky progress with fake jewellery (9)
{SHAMBLING} – a present participle meaning making shaky progress or walking with an unsteady gait is a charade of an adjective meaning fake or imitation and an informal term for ostentatious jewellery.

13a  He’s left to invest independent capital (8)
{HELSINKI} – this European capital city comes from HE followed by L(eft), a verb meaning to invest and I(ndependent).

14a  Row with the French causing anger (6)
{RANKLE} – a row or line combines with a French definite article to make a verb meaning to anger or irritate.

17a  After end of concert run out of time to get something to drink (3)
{TEA} – the end letter of (concer)T is followed by a period of time without its central R, i.e. with R(un) out.

19a  Musical intro before a new piece (3)
{MAN} – the intro to M(usical) followed by A and N(ew) makes a piece on a chessboard.

20a  Wader at cove is floundering (6)
{AVOCET} – this long-legged wading bird comes from an anagram (is floundering) of AT COVE.

23a  In relating to vision artist is prophetic (8)
{ORACULAR} – start with an adjective meaning relating to vision and inside (in) it place the abbreviation for a Royal Academician (artist).

26a  Outline faintly in umber a tad carelessly (9)
{ADUMBRATE} – an anagram (carelessly) of UMBER A TAD gives us a verb meaning to outline faintly.

28a  Personal magnetism low around outskirts of Plymouth (5)
{OOMPH} – an informal word meaning charisma or personal magnetism comes from reversing (around) a verb to low (as cows do) and following it with the outer (outskirts) letters of P(lymout)H.

29a  Virginia wearing trendy top to no effect (7)
{INVALID} – the abbreviation for the US State of Virginia is contained between (wearing) an informal adjective meaning trendy and a top or cover. The outcome is an adjective meaning to no effect or not lawful.

30a  Boa’s lack of length is more unusual (8)
{STRANGER} – start with what a boa is (based on the way it dispatches its prey) and take out the L(ength).

31a  Backing small wager without room to manoeuvre (6)
{LEEWAY} – the definition here is room to manoeuvre. A reversed (backing) adjective meaning small has outside it (without) a verb to wager or place a bet.

Down Clues

1d  Dry half of crockery up in silence (6)
{SCORCH} – a verb meaning to dry or parch comes from inserting the reversal (up) of the first half of crockery inside an exclamation calling for silence.

2d  Ignore extremes of lunacy without showing one’s feelings (7)
{BLANKLY} – an informal verb meaning to ignore someone by pretending not to see them is followed by the outer letters (extremes) of L(unac)Y to make an adverb meaning without any facial expression. I’m not too keen on this one – the answer and the first bit of the wordplay are from the same root and have pretty much the same meaning.

3d  Colleague having a small tossed lettuce. I scoffed (9)
{ASSOCIATE} – this colleague is assembled from A, S(mall), a type of lettuce reversed (tossed, in a down clue), I and a verb meaning scoffed or consumed.

4d  Daughter with query about mother’s stuff (6)
{DAMASK} – this stuff is a rich heavy silk or cotton fabric with a pattern woven into it (named after the Syrian capital). D(aughter) is followed by a verb to query or enquire containing (about) an affectionate word for mother.

5d  He’s getting married in record time — they won’t last (8)
{EPHEMERA} – things that have a very short lifespan (they won’t last) come from inserting HE and M(arried) between an old record format and a distinct period of historical time.

6d  Reel from retrospective cuts putting the squeeze on old (5)
{SPOOL} – this reel is the sort that cotton may be wound round. It comes from reversing (retrospective) a verb meaning cuts and inserting (putting the squeeze on) O(ld).

7d  Conflict about essentially horrible instrument (8)
{TRIANGLE} – a word for a conflict or argument contains (about) the middle two letters (essentially) of horrible to make a percussion instrument.

12d  Knock success (3)
{HIT} – double definition.

15d/16d  I’ve connected a lead wrongly? That’s hearsay (9,8)
{ANECDOTAL EVIDENCE} – an anagram (wrongly) of I’VE CONNECTED A LEAD gives us a phrase meaning hearsay, information passed on by word of mouth without any hard facts.

16d  See 15d

18d  Forever losing her head, Hetty cuddles short straight man (8)
{ETERNITY} – Hetty loses her first letter (head) and what’s left goes round (cuddles) the member of the famous comedy duo with the “short, fat, hairy legs” without his final E (short). I think that he was a bit more than a straight man, as exemplified by the plays what he wrote.

21d  Drug found in sink (3)
{POT} – double definition, the second a verb to sink (a snooker ball, perhaps).

22d  Prime time gets you down (7)
{PLUMAGE} – the sort of down found on a bird comes from a charade of an adjective meaning prime or choice and a period of time.

24d  Discount rule taking the edge off discussion (6)
{REBATE} – R(ule) replaces (taking the edge off) the first letter of a formal discussion to form a discount.

25d  Indignation after that woman returns book again (6)
{REHIRE} – this is a verb meaning to book or charter again. A synonym for indignation or anger follows a female pronoun (that woman) which is reversed (returns).

27d  End up with expression of pain in response to spiteful remark (5)
{MIAOW} – this informal verbal response to a spiteful or catty remark comes from reversing (up) an end or objective and following it with a cry of pain.

There are lots of good clues here. The ones I’ve selected are 5a, 28a, 22d and 27d. Which ones did you enjoy?

Today’s Quickie Pun: {CHILLY} + {CONK} + {ARNIE} = {CHILLI CON CARNE}

51 comments on “DT 26940

  1. Agrred with the suspicion of the setter and also that it was on the easier side – 2** for all but a couple of clues for me. 22d was my favourite – short, concise and misleading. Thanks to the setter and gazza (who really ought to be illustrating at least one clue in the Toughie! ;-) )

  2. I enjoyed this one, but I’m easy to please! Some words used in ways that make you think which is good. Faves were 28a and 22d. 10a worthy of groan of the week!

  3. For some reason, this one took me ages to get going then I managed fine except for 22d (had a jamais vu moment and didn’t immediately recognise it as a real word never mind the solution).

    To my delight I have now finished the toughie which I usually find a real challenge.

  4. Thank you setter ! Finished one without hints – first for a few days. Thought my brain had become fuddled with Olympic fever. Thank you Gazza for giving it 3* difficulty – restored my confidence !

    Very enjoyable and amusing 8a and 10a. plus new word at 26a.

    Enjoyed your pictures as usual.

  5. This was a lovely puzzle today – most enjoyable. 2*/4* from me. The SW held me up the longest, and my last in was 2d.
    Thanks to Petitjean (if he), and to Gazza.

    The toughie is good as well, and apart from a couple, I did not find it too tricky either.

  6. I found this one quite tricky today but there was so much going on around me, it was quite hard to concentrate. Thanks to Petitjean and Gazza – my favourite was 28a, even though I do seem to be lacking in it at the moment!

    The Toughie is tremendous fun and highly recommended.

    Off to the beach now – hoping to snooze in a chair rather than get involved in the sandcastle competition.

  7. I would say this is the hardest puzzle I’ve ever completely solved without recourse to the clues so a very happy 3*/4* for me.

    Flying back to the UK tonight after 2 weeks in paradise. Has anything been happening at home? :-)


    1. Not a lot wozza – I’ve had 2 weeks off playing golf and enjoying the odd pub lunch. Not missed London at all!

      1. There is that – Flipping lovely out there at the moment – I am just going to sample some of the outside stuff.

        1. Joking apart we have been picking up some of the coverage out here and It looks to have been a tremendous success. London is looking at its finest, many of the venues have had magnificent backdrops and the supporters and volunteers have appeared wonderful. So good to see after so many cynics were writing it off long before it started.


  8. I thought that this was brilliant and really enjoyed it. I found the top half quite straightforward and did it quickly, for me – the bottom half was much trickier. 2* for difficulty for top and 3* for bottom from me today – at least 4* for enjoyment.
    Some of them made me laugh – 8 and 28a and 27d.
    I’ve got little red splodges by lots of the clues – won’t put them all down so just a few of my other favourites are 10 and 11a and 5 and 22d.
    With thanks to the setter for a great crossword, and to Gazza.

    1. Hi-Kath, I too filled in the top half first then labouriously set about the bottom half, don’t know why the answer for 26a came into my mind as i did’nt know what it meant! Lots of excellent clues today and i give it ***/****Off to Skiathos for 2 weeks, i usually do the mail or express cryptics as they are ‘same day’papers and nobody wants to read yesterday’s news.The cat is still expanding, and i fear the patter of tiny paws!

      1. I was the same with 26a – I must have heard it before as it just popped into my head, eventually. Have fun in Skiathos – I have a sister-in-law in Greece at the moment – she says that it’s VERY hot there. Good luck with the tiny paws! I suppose an alternative is that cat has two homes and is just getting fat through double the amount of food! :smile:

        1. Thanks for the positive thought! although i am expecting or rather the cat is, a few 27d ‘s!
          Its a bit like the old Buster Crabbe Flash Gorden cliff hangers, will Ming be merciful?

  9. My posting would have been virtually identical to Kath’s today, so I’ll say no more!

  10. Yes, it’s me. I don’t always check the website, but I’m glad I did today to read such encouraging comments.

    1. Thanks for dropping in, John, and thanks for the very enjoyable puzzle.

      For those who don’t know John is Petitjean, so that confirms the authorship.

      1. But what made you think it was a Petitjean? What are his trademarks – I had it in my head from somewhere, or someone, that his crosswords usually had quite a few foody or sporting references.

          1. But not many of those today – 8a, possibly 10a, I suppose, 3d, but only because of the lettuce – can’t find any more. Who knows – it was still a great crossword. And thanks for replying.

            1. You could say that 5a, 9a, 10a and 21d are all sport-related and 10a, 17a, 19a and 7d all touch on music.

    2. Thank you for a most enjoyable puzzle. It may have taken me to waters i could not swim, but, definitely dragged me from the paddling pool.

      Thanks to Gazza for the review also.

      1. Thanks to the setter for an enjoyable puzzle and Gazza for the nice pictures.

  11. I am just begining this puzzle with trepidation taking account of my previous experiences with this setter whose puzzles I did not enjoy at all. Being difficult does not make it enjoyable

  12. I was expecting a RayT but was not disappointed with this fine puzzle. Many good clues of which my favourites were 10 22 28 and 29. Thanks to the setter for a nice morning in the sunshine.

  13. Finished but thought this was a horrid puzzle. No fun and def no favourites. At least a four star for difficulty and a one star for enjoyment.

    1. I’m with Brian, but I think he’s over generous with a star for enjoyment. No pleasure in this for me at all.

    2. Oh dear, Brian and Nora!
      So sorry that you didn’t enjoy what most people thought was a great crossword. As usual it’s all to do with “wave length”! Better luck tomorrow.

      1. Thanks, Kath. I could make the excuse that it’s 38 degrees here and brain cells are practically comatose, but I don’t suppose that would do for Brian!

  14. Managed the left half fairly easily but the right half had me totally foxed until I read the hints. I still don’t see how ‘essentially’ means the middle two letters. What word would mean take the single middle letter or the middle three letters?

    1. Essentially just means the essence or middle bit of something. In this case (7d) the word horrible has an even number of letters so essentially could mean take the middle 2, 4 or even 6 letters. You have to play it by ear, but there will always be the same number of letters remaining to the left of those selected as there are to the right.

  15. I found this really really difficult, and even after reading the hints, I wasn’t kicking myself for not getting about a dozen clues – a record in recent weeks. Can we have Ray T every Thursday please?

  16. Liked 22d and 27d … I rate crosswords by the number of times I smile at the answers, and this was pretty good. Couldn’t work out 19a until I saw the hint though. Must play some chess again.

  17. Now that I’ve finished it I can say I enjoyed it .Re 25d didn’t think of that kind of book (D’oh) so needed Gazza’s hint. Thanks to Petitjean & Gazza.

  18. 26a a word I did not know…never stop learning, but with my memory it will be gone in no time!

  19. Enjoyed this clever puzzle. Spent some time trying to justify “refute” for 24D until the penny dropped. Thanks setter and reviewer.

  20. Just a quick message for Mary in case she “drops in” to see what’s happening in her absence. All fine here, Mary, but missing your comments. Get better and come back soon. :smile: to you.

  21. Thanks to Petitjean and to Gazza for the review and hints. Found this hard going, probably due to the beer at GBBF, but enjoyable, was beaten by 19&29a. Favourites were 5a, one of my Dad’s favourite words, 23a and 22d.

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