DT 26944 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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DT 26944

Daily Telegraph Cryptic No 26944

Hints and tips by pommers

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BD Rating – Difficulty ** Enjoyment ****

Hola from the Vega Baja, where it is ridiculously hot and sticky tonight (ask Prolixic if you don’t believe me!). Forecast 37C and 74% humidity for later today – Agosto en Espana, yuk!  Anyway, we’ve got a bit of musical chairs again this week!  Big Dave yesterday instead of Libellule and now me today.  Pommette’s in the UK again (she’s now on first-name terms with the Ryanair cabin crew that are based in Alicante) and so, having no job list to do and therefore being at a bit of a loose end,  I’m giving Gazza a well-deserved day off.  Not sure who’s doing the rest of the week but I’ll be back again for the back pager on Thursday, which will be my regular slot in the future.
Don’t know who the setter is today but I really liked this puzzle, not too difficult but enough to make you think a bit – perfect for a Tuesday (at least I think it’s Tuesday)!

As usual the ones I like best are in blue. 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           Working lunches with a macabre sort of lawyer (9-6)
{AMBULANCE CHASER} – A slightly sleazy sort of lawyer who tries to make a profit from sueing on behalf of accident victims is an anagram (working) of LUNCHES A MACABRE.  Sorry if I’ve just upset any bloggers who are in this slightly sleazy trade!

 9a           Seldom encountered by British, Italian cheese dish (7)
{RAREBIT} – A famous Welsh cheese dish is formed from a word for seldom or uncommon followed by B(ritish) and then IT(alian)

10a         Mutter curiously about piano and something to play (7)
{TRUMPET} – Take P(quietly in musical terminology) and MUTTER and make an anagram (curiously). You’ll end up with a brass musical instrument – something to play.

11a         Trooper willing to keep going (7,2)
{SOLDIER ON} – This is a phrase meaning to keep going, possibly against the odds.  It’s a trooper (think army) followed by a word which could mean willing, as in up for something.

12a         Go round one Italian city (5)
{TURIN} – Your go, in a board game perhaps, placed around I (one) gives you a city in northern Italy.

13a         Escape of water from a lake, unfortunately, by outskirts of Grasmere (7)
{LEAKAGE} – This escape of water is an anagram (unfortunately) of A LAKE followed by GE (outskirts of GrassmerE).

15a         A grant secured by the Olympian (7)
{ATHLETE} – You’ve probably watched a lot of these Olympians over the last week or so!  Start with A (from the clue) and follow with THE (also from the clue). Then insert (secured by) a word meaning grant or allow. A bit topical in view of all the talk about ‘legacy’!

17a         Saying name of dog, perhaps held by lead (7)
{PROVERB} – A supposedly common dog’s name inserted (held by) into the chemical symbol for lead gives a saying.  Anyone ever met a dog called this? I certainly haven’t – or a FIDO either!

19a         Significance of less than wholesome wine (7)
{PURPORT} – This is a word meaning significance or importance. Start with a word for wholesome, as in unadulterated, and remove the last letter (less than). Then add crosswordland’s favourite fortified wine.  It’s my favourite fortified wine too, although I do like a bit of Manzanilla sherry!

21a         Change flag once fellow leaves (5)
{ALTER} – A word meaning to change is a word meaning to flag, as you might at the end of a Marathon, without the initial F (Fellow leaves)

23a         Main place for the rest of the natives? (6-3)
{OYSTER BED} –To get this one you have to know a slightly obscure meaning of the word ‘native’. I’ll give you a clue – it’s a shellfish. If you know that then the clue is easy. It’s the place in the sea (main place) where these molluscs would rest or sleep (or indeed are farmed!).

25a         In conflict with commander this month (7)
{AGAINST} – To be in conflict or in opposition is the usual Turkish commander followed by a word for ‘this month’.

26a         Put rings round the lines for play’s hero (7)
{OTHELLO} – Take a couple of O’s (rings) and place them around THE (from the clue) and a couple of L’s (Lines) and you get the hero of a famous Shakespearean play.

27a         Play’s hero overcome? Not he, if composed (3,4,2,6)
{THE MOOR OF VENICE} – This is another way of referring to the guy in the last clue.  It’s an anagram (composed) of OVERCOME NOT HE IF.  If you haven’t already got it, cracking this anagram will give you the answer to the last clue, and vice versa I suppose!


 1d           Lose oar at sea in spray (7)
{AEROSOL} – This spray, which you might use for underarm deodorant, is an anagram (at sea) of LOSE OAR.

2d           A gem of a girl? (5)
{BERYL} – This semi-precious stone is also a girl’s name.  A well known name perhaps but I don’t remember ever meeting one!  I’ve seen this exact clue before but last time the ennumeration was (4) and the answer was RUBY, which I tried to write in this time until I spotted I was a letter short!.

 3d           Built with care abroad to minimise friction (9)
{LUBRICATE} – Something you do to minimise friction in a piece of machinery is an anagram (abroad) of BUILT CARE.

4d           Hazel, for example, one who’s crazy over old actor (3-4)
{NUT TREE} – Hazel is an example of one of these. Start with a word for someone who’s crazy (3), as in a bit mad, and add the surname of an old actor and theatre manager who was noted for lavish productions of Shakespeare – if you don’t believe me have a look here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Herbert_Beerbohm_Tree   Anyone ever heard of this guy or am I just showing my ignorance here?

 5d           A country seat? No, I suspect (7)
{ESTONIA} – Just ignore the punctuation and all will become clear. A Baltic country is an anagram (suspect) of SEAT NO I.

6d           Chase round a resort (5)
{HAUNT} – A chase placed around A (from the clue) gives a resort or somewhere you might visit regularly.

7d           Comic-strip character, perhaps getting petrol on her overalls initially (9)
{SUPERHERO} –  This is a type of comic-strip character (think MARVEL).  It’s a word for a higher octane petrol followed by HER (from the clue) and then an O (Overalls initially).  Personally I think this clue is very unfair to any solver under the age of about 40. As far as I’m concerned the term went out of use with the introduction of star ratings followed by the change to unleaded petrol, although my first motorbike used to ‘pink’ on anything less than this!

8d           Train always holding one up (7)
{RETINUE} – This is a train as in a following.  Take a poetic word for always and insert (holding) another word for one and then reverse the lot (up in a down clue).

14d         Complete change of opinion concerning female expert (5-4)
{ABOUT FACE} – A phrase for a complete change of opinion is a word for concerning ( no, not RE but a 5 letter word) followed by F(emale) and then a word for an expert. Then split that lot (5,4)

16d         Charm of Arab, say, connected with Oxford? (9)
{HORSESHOE} – To get a lucky charm, which must always be hung the right way up, you need to start with an animal of which an arab is an example and follow with something that an Oxford is an example of.

17d         Rustic worker after vegetables (7)
{PEASANT} – A rustic or country person is some spherical green vegetables followed by our favourite worker.

18d         Fish lake wearing straw hat (7)
{BLOATER} – Take L(ake) and insert (wearing) into a straw hat and you get a fish, which is actually a herring smoked whole.

19d         Gradually disappear in route through mountains on holiday (4,3)
{PASS OFF} – A phrase meaning to gradually disappear, as a pain might, is a route through a mountain range followed by a word for on holiday, as in not at work.

20d         Youngster in Po Delta, swimming? (7)
{TADPOLE} – This youngster is an anagram (swimming) of PO DELTA.  At least I didn’t have to remember where the Po is – sorry gnomey!

22d         Piece of music from wassailer on doorstep (5)
{RONDO} – A piece of music is hidden (from) in wassailer on doorstep.

24d         Little time in Indonesian island for a British-style type of curry (5)
{BALTI} – A curry invented in Birmingham is a popular Indonesian island with T(ime) inserted.

I quite liked 7d but favourites were 15a and 23a (but only because I’ve come across the native before!).

The Quick crossword pun: {watt} + {knots} = {whatnots}

64 comments on “DT 26944

  1. My last word on the Olympics (possibly)!
    That ‘Big Ben’ Ainslie is a BEAST! Don’t know how many of you watched him or understand the subtleties of dinghy racing but what he did to the “Great Dane” in order to win gold, from being behind after 8 races, was nothing short of AWESOME! I loved the comment after race 8 – “he’s made me very angry – he really shouldn’t have done that!” – sounds like something Arnie might say! What happened afterwards is now history!
    I said the other day that pitching me against a Friday Elgar Toughie was a bit like putting me in a dinghy race against Ben – not a cat in hell’s chance! I bow my head to two Masters of their arts.
    Going to bed now – see y’all later.

  2. Interesting hours you keep Pommers. I finished the puzzle by 7 pm Chicago time and was surpised to see this in my inbox 3 hours later, when I was headed to bed and apparently it is 3:15 am in Spain. Perhaps it was the high humidity keeping you up. I enjoyed the puzzle too. Thanks to you and the setter.

    1. Often don’t go to bed until 3 or 4 in the morning during July/August – too hot and sticky and I don’t like sleeping with the aircon on, I wake up with a sore throat!

      1. Amazing range of Spanish weather. Here in Malaga it was 34º with 75% humidity 2 days ago, last night I woke up feeling cold. My outdoor thermometer read 23º at 08.00 this morning. Thanks for the hints. Didn’t like 4d – who??, or 19d – never associated Pass Off with “gradually disappear”, but I shared your favourites.

        1. Took me few moments to parse the PASS OFF bit. I woke with a headache this morning but it soon passed off.

          Looks like the weather forecast was wrong – currently only 29C and 66% humidity at Alicante airport – probably a couple of degrees warmer where I am, a few miles inland.

      2. Nothing starts in the summer in Spain until midnight. A concert we went to at the weekend, scheduled for midnight, started at 1.30. We didn’t see any Spaniards yawning – only us Brits! I’m off to England on Friday for a week, looking forward to the cool, but no doubt after a few days indoors I’ll be craving the outdoor life again!

      3. I’ll have to try that when it is 100 degrees and high humidity here as I don’t like the a/c on either. Had no idea it got so hot in Spain.

        1. Hottest day I’ve known in the 6 years i’ve lived here was 3 or 4 years ago when the mercury got up to 42C – about 108F. That was HOT :grin: it’s usually low to mid thirties in July/August.

            1. Phew, that’s F’HOT :grin: Might be OK though because the humidity will be a lot lower than here in the Med. Enjoy :grin:

  3. A tougher Tuesday than normal I thought but all good stuff. 3*/4* from me too.

    And I thought I started the puzzle early…

    Thanks to both.


  4. Morning all from a humid but cloudy East Kent. I started this one at my normal (sensible) time and it didn’t take long. I would give it 2*/3*. Thank you to Pommers and the Tuesday Mysteron.

    Once you get on his wavelength, the Petitjean Toughie shouldn’t take you long either.

    Hooray and thank you to the DT – the backpager is actually on the back page :)

    1. I nearly called it the penultimate-pager during the Olympics, thank heavens it’s back in it’s rightful place.

  5. I quite liked this one, although the enjoyment was over far too quickly.
    My first thought for 2d was PEARL before I had any checkers. As for the fellow in 4d, I am sure I had seen him in a DT puzzle before, or perhaps in a toughie ?
    Thanks to setter, and to Pommers for the review.

    1. I too thought PEARL but didn’t write her in. And I had heard of 4d before- helps to have a mind that retains stuff useful for quizzes etc.

      1. I thought of pearl as wekk, but already had the r in the wrong place. I just couldn’t get 16d. You can imagine how I kicked myself when I read the hint! Thanks Pommers.

  6. Thanks to the setter for an enjoyable if untaxing wee crossword, a few too many anagrams for my personal taste but that is probably just me. Thanks also to Pommers for the amusing review.

  7. Pommers
    Herbert Beerbohm Tree , along with Warrington Minge, was one of the last great Actor-Managers back in the days when I trod the boards of many a provincial theatre,performing my rendition of Juliet opposite the inestimable Larry’s Romeo. Halcyon days indeed, dear boy.

  8. Oops! Sorry everyone! Meant to give this 2* for difficulty but must have forgotten to change the rating! When you create a new post it comes up with 3*/3* as the default! Mea Culpa :oops:

  9. Is anybody else having trouble loading the Xword today. This is the second day running and there is a message saying I need Adobe flash player is required. I’ve never had that before. Can any of you computer experts help?

      1. Is the compiler going on holiday? Driving to Italy perhaps? There is occassionally a very amusing quick crossword compiler whose answers give similar hints. Or maybe a visit to the theatre is planned.
        Very enjoyable.

      2. Is the compiler going on holiday? Driving to Italy perhaps? There is occasionally a very amusing quick crossword compiler whose answers give similar hints. Or maybe a visit to the theatre is planned.
        Very enjoyable.

  10. Doing the crosswords on my hs in Cornwall. Enjoyed it today bur over far too quickly. Yesterday had me stuck on LHS with those drafted four letter words. Said one or two myself. Thanks setter et al.

  11. Thanks for the review and the geography lesson, pommers!. Agree with you on the ** (almost a * looking at the time). Mr Tree turns up a fair bit in the Toughies so I got him OK but did scratch my head on the petrol reference for a while. Thanks to the setter as well.

  12. Very enjoyable. Had Pearl in mind for 2d but 1a sorted that out. The answer was a new word for me. Also never heard of 4d – a guess that proved to be correct.

    Thank you setter and to Pommers for your interesting review. Presumably it is about your bedtime now ?

    1. I discarded PEARL immediately. I hadn’t actually unravelled the answer to 1a at that point but could see it was an anagram, and there’s no P in the fodder.

        1. I quite often leave long anagrams until I have some checkers because I’m always slow at sorting them. However, if I know it’s an anagram I make sure that answers to crossing clues cross on a letter that’s part of the fodder.

            1. Doesn’t apply to everyone. Those who are good at anagrams love the long ones because they give an easy ‘in’ to the puzzle and a lot of checkers along the way! I have to get at least some of the checkers from the other clues and then unravel the anagram!

              1. Yes – LOVE long anagrams so got 1a as soon as I looked at it. Consequently didn’t consider any of the other alternatives that others had for 2d.

  13. Pommers – 20D runs through 12A…

    Re 4D – yes, you are! He did found RADA, after all…

    1. Hi Steve
      So it does! Only thing I knew about the Po is that it enters the Adriatic near Venice. Never really thought about its route. (oh, and I knew there’s also a Po river in Virginia USA)

      Still never heard of the guy but I will remember as it seems he’s come up before, and so probably will again! Can’t keep these old actor/managers down!.

  14. For some reason, even though I was up at 4.45am, I found this the most straightforward crossword for a very long time and did it very quickly, for me. Should I start getting up at that ridiculous time regularly – definitely not!
    I enjoyed it very much – the style felt totally unfamiliar to me. I didn’t have any trouble apart from wondering why 23a was what it obviously had to be from the checking letters, and I’d never heard of the bloke in 4d.
    Favourites include 15, 26 and 27a and 1 and 7d.
    Went to Heathrow to meet very old friend who has lived in Australia for a long time. Got lost trying to find car park in Terminal 3 – bad start! :roll: Then we completely missed each other in arrivals – oh dear! Then we both cried for the first hour – recovered from that, drove home and haven’t stopped giggling ever since!! That’s what it’s going to be like for the next three days. :grin:

  15. PS Think that I might have left my manners in Terminal 3! Sorry! With thanks to today’s setter and Droopy Lydia!

      1. CERTAINLY not! :grin: We carried on giggling for the rest of the day. It got worse when we had our first glass of wine and has gone steadily down hill from then. Wonder how long husband will survive before he tells us to behave ourselves! :roll: I’m being really unfair – he’s having a lovely time too but he’s better at being a “proper grown-up” than we are!!

            1. Pommette was once asked – “Is pommers having a second childhood?”. To which she replied, “What do you mean? He hasn’t finished his first one yet!”.

  16. Agree with Kath straightforward but enjoyable nonetheless. Had Portent for 19a, fits the checking letters but not the clue (had port in it tho). What’s with all the othello today, is it an anniversary or something? thx to all for a good days puzzling.

      1. In Brian’s defence I agree – it DOES fit with P?R???T which, if you haven’t got 7d, is what you have. I also wondered about it but, since it didn’t really work with the clue, I didn’t get as far as writing it in.

    1. Yup Brian, I went with that initially because I had’n’t looked at the downs , I can see whereyou were coming from

      1. It crossed my mind too but it doesn’t work so I didn’t put it in – see reply to Heno at #18 (below).

  17. Thanks to the setter, and to Pommers for the review & hints. Enjoyed this a lot, Like Brian, I had portent for 19a, which stopped me from getting 7d. Managed the rest ok. favourite was 16d.

    1. Hi Heno

      PORTENT almost works! You could say POOR for less than wholesome without one of the O’s and TENT is a red wine from the Alicante region! But there’s no indicator to remove a middle letter though, unless ‘less than’ is doing double duty!

  18. Thanks to our setter and to Pommers for the review.

    For the weather in the Mar Menor:

    Fiery plant reportedly found by old archdeacon (4,2,4)

  19. We are in Spain also (intermittent Internet availability so no frequent visits at the moment). In Seville for the past couple of days it got up to 48c. Back in Arcos a little cooler here. Very enjoyable puzzle today with no great difficulty. Got 23a but needed the explanation as native was a new one for me.

    Still having iPad problems paid double yesterday! At least DT acknowledge there is a problem.

    Regds to all.

    1. Jealousy abounds NB, so much to see, many years ago was there, and that was for Semana Santa, a combination of fear and awe. BUT i got mossie bitten to death on a later summer visit, I still laugh at the nonchalant comment from a waiter, “they’ve sprayed Huelva”….

  20. Evening folks. Really enjoyed today’s and finished it without too much hassle. Feeling rather smug I toddled off to my golf lesson where reality returned!

  21. Quite a lot of comments for a mid-week puzzle. I know that the Olympics have finished and people are, gradually, returning to normal life but, in my opinion anyway, lots of comments generally mean either a very difficult/controversial puzzle (which this wasn’t) or a good one.
    Thanks again to the setter.

  22. Thanks Setter and the nocturne! Missing the Larios con Tonica, dreadful gin but it works in that heat…….

    1. I stick to the cerveza and/or vino or, if it’s very hot, perhaps a ‘tinto verrano’ (red wine, a splash of lemonade and ice) and the occasional ‘Soberano’ – what a wonderful brand name for a brandy! :grin:

      Larios isn’t as bad as some of the stuff you can buy around here for €3.50/litre!

  23. It’s cooled down tonight, only 24C at the moment, so I’m off to bed! It’s ‘Asuncion’ tomorrow so I’ll get woken up by the church bells at about 0900. It’s a serious religious day and a public holiday, but the local will be open :grin: While the cat’s away . . . :lol:
    See you all tomorrow.

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