DT 26956 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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DT 26956

Daily Telegraph Cryptic No 26956

Hints and tips by crypticsue

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

The other day someone commented  that some of BD’s blogging team seem more human than others.   Well no-one has ever actually seen Gazza, but whichever planet he comes from, his powers of both observation, deduction and persuasion are second to none, as once again, when I have a day off,  he is the one having the lie-in while I go off to the local shop at the usual time, today returning home to blog the crossword.

One of the Tuesday Mysterons has given us with a fairly straightforward puzzle with a nice mix of clues, which was enjoyable both to solve and blog.

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 Novel — book in four parts (later, when revised) (9,6)
{FLAUBERT’S PARROT}   The title of a prize winning novel by Julian Barnes is an anagram (revised) of FOUR PARTS LATER plus B for Book.

9a Novel reveals exploits involving sly criminal (7)
{ULYSSES}  Another novel, this time by James Joyce.   Insert an anagram (criminal) of SLY into part of a verb meaning to exploit someone.

10a Wind, more vicious across dunes, initially (7)
{MEANDER}   One of those sneaky ‘depends how you pronounce it’ definitions.   Here wind is a verb meaning to traverse by twisting and turning.   Insert the first letter (initially) of Dunes into a word meaning more vicious or with a nastier disposition.

11a Mates falling out under canvas will? (9)
{TESTAMENT}   The formal term for a will – insert an anagram (falling out) of MATES into a temporary home made of canvas.

12a Greek character volunteers after article appears (5)
{THETA}   Follow the definite article with the abbreviation for the volunteers of the Territorial Army.

13a Old soldier or cadet in the wars (7)
{REDCOAT}   A historical name for a British soldier is an anagram (in the wars) of OR CADET.

15a A job, extremely lucrative for Bartholomew, say (7)
{APOSTLE}  A fairly obvious charade – A (from the clue) a synonym for job, and the ‘extreme’ or outside letters of LucrativE  –  Bartholomew is an example (say) of one of the lesser known of Jesus’ followers.

17a Ranch employee who can, working with dogies at first (7)
{COWHANDNow that there aren’t so many cowboy films made,  I wonder how long it will be before people forget that a dogie is a motherless calf?  An anagram (working) of WHO CAN plus D (the first letter of dogies) produces the name of the ranch employee who would look after such animals.

19a Local fare? (3,4)
{PUB GRUB}   A cryptic definition of the sort of food found in one’s local hostelry.

21a Some of the Bay City Rollers in part of Austria (5)
{TYROL}   Interesting image conjured up by this clue!   Hidden in part of the Bay CiTY ROLlers is part of Austria.

23a Criticise the Spanish willing to make a TV show (5,4)
{PANEL GAME}  A TV show where a team of people work out the answers –  a charade of a word meaning to  criticize harshly,  the Spanish word for ‘the’, and an informal adjective meaning having the willingness to perform some act, split 5,4.

25a Assorted pages written about us backing fabulous horse (7)
{PEGASUS}  The mythological horse is an anagram (assorted) of PAGES  into which is inserted (about) a reversal (backing) of US.

26a Intern beginning to cotton on all right (7)
{CONFINE}  Here again you need to check the definition as this time intern is a verb meaning to imprison or limit to a prescribed area.   The first (beginning) letter of Cotton, ON (from the clue) and an adjective meaning all right.

27a Informally try out chow mein in a new way while touring East (7,8)
{WITHOUT CEREMONY}    An expression meaning informally or without adhering to conventions is an anagram (in a new way) of TRY OUT CHOW MEIN plus E (touring East).


1d Female, 50, say, makes a modest bet (7)
{FLUTTERI like the image of a lady of middle years popping down to the bookies to make a small wager.   F (female) followed by the Roman numeral for 50 and a verb meaning to say.

2d Foolish person crossing through deep chasm (5)
{ABYSS}  Insert a preposition meaning through into a dull stupid person.

3d Dance master leading a bright star (5,4)
{BOSSA NOVA}      I wouldn’t exactly call the lovely Simon my master but he is technically this informal term for my manager.   Follow an informal leader with A (from the clue) and a type of bright star, splitting the result 5,4.

4d A particular consideration (7)
{RESPECT}  A double definition  which if one looks at all the dictionary definitions of both particular and consideration, the solution should be obvious.

5d Mountainous island — climbing, in part, a must (7)
{SUMATRA}   A hidden reversal (climbing) in pART A MUSt reveals an island in Western Indonesia.

6d A fraction to one side (5)
{APART}  Just merge A (from the clue) and a small piece of something, a fraction being an example.

7d Dog, note, by entrance to Downing Street, barking (3,6)
{RED SETTER}  The second note of the scale, followed by the first (entrance) letter of Downing and an anagram (barking) of STREET,  when split 3, 6 produces a type of dog.  Nice to see this one clued without reference to compilers of crosswords!

8d Caterer tripped leaving balcony (7)
{TERRACE}  An obvious anagram (tripped) of CATERER, although until I checked in Chambers I hadn’t really thought of this word being applied to a balcony.

14d Utterly depressed? Correct (9)
{DOWNRIGHT}     An adjective meaning depressed followed by another way of saying correct, go together to make  an adverb meaning utterly or thoroughly.

16d All things considered, you need rest after working (2,7)
{ON BALANCE}  A two-letter word meaning working followed by the synonym for the rest or remainder of something.

17d Hitch in musical? ‘Chess’ piece shortened (4-3)
{CATS-PAW)  A hitch or knot in a rope providing two loops for a hook.   A well-known musical followed by almost all (shortened)  of the name of the smallest chess piece.

18d Security is coming over in store (7)
{DEPOSIT}   A security made to reserve something you want to buy.   Insert a reversal (coming over) of IS (from the clue) into a type of storehouse, quite often one used by the military.

19d Follow, with a camera, a revolutionary with style (7)
{PANACHE}  A grand sense of style or splendour.   A verb meaning to follow with a camera, A (from the clue) and finally crosswordland’s favourite revolutionary.

20d Right jug put in by beer maker (7)
{BREWERYThis clue made me think of Gnomey for some reason!!   Insert into BY (from the clue) both R (right) and a large water jug with a wide spout.

22d Catch girl with nothing on (5)
{LASSO}   An easy chestnut –  a girl followed by O (nothing on).

24d I turn to follow a male friend (5)
{AMIGO}  A Spanish friend.   A (from the clue) M (male) I (from the clue) and a turn or spell at something.

I hope Gazza enjoyed his lie-in as much as I enjoyed sorting out the back page puzzle.  This would have been a lovely Saturday prize puzzle as it has definitely left me in a good mood and with time to spare to do other things once I have finished the blog.   I liked 17a, 21a and 27a – which ones appealed to you?

The Quick crossword pun: {hide} + {raw} + {lick} = {hydraulic}

52 comments on “DT 26956

  1. Over all too quickly but very pleasant.

    19d favourite for me. I think Sue’s assessment is spot on. Thanks to both.


  2. We also enjoyed this puzzle.Found it hard to get started but once we were on the setter’s wavelength it fell into place nicely. Thought that some of the clues pointed to Petitjean again perhaps? Liked 1a and 15a but would nominate 17d as the star of the show. Thanks setter and CS.

  3. Morning CS, agree with all that you say, thanks for the review.
    Got hung up on 1a till I spotted the anagram, lesson for the future, Ignore brackets.
    Thanks to the setter for a very nice start to the day.

    Now as punishment going to Ikea at Lakeside, a hell within a hell, no doubt the Dartford crossing will be clogged adding to my misery.

  4. Good morning sue and thanks for blog, although I didn’t need to use it today, I started off quite well but slowed down considerably in the middle but put a spurt on at the end, I think a two star for me today, however a year or so ago I would have considered it at least a three star, so don’t despair any newbies after three years if I can get there anyone can :-), by the way I almost always still need my books and machines!! which I don’t consder cheating :-D
    I had never heard of the book at 1a, must be reading the wrong type of thing, as I have been an avid reader forever, I remember my teacher in primary school telling my mother, Marys reading is way in advance of her fellow pupils, however she does read the wrong type of books!!! I was a big fan of Enid Blyton, what did she want me to read at eight years old!!!!
    Sorry waffling on here, no favourite clue for me today, a few ‘iffy’ readings I thought, eg 11a, oh sorry I did like 3d
    I see the sun is out, the first time really since I came out of hospital, hopefully go for a walk later on

    1. Glad you’re back, Mary, and that the sun is shining and you feel well enough to go for a walk.

    2. The sun always shines on the righteous…glad to see you back & getting up to speed with the blog.

  5. I have felt in recent weeks that the bloggers-in-chief, experts that they are, are being rather ungenerous with the difficulty stars. Those of us who are less skilled are a little disheartened to find something with which they have struggled is given a mere *. It is interesting that the first few comments are usually from those who find things easy, but as the day progresses the suggestions that the grading has been leaning over-much towards simplicity tend to come in. For all that, many thanks to all for the work they put in towards enlightening the rest of us.

    1. Deciding on the difficulty stars is a tricky thing. I go by the time it takes me to solve the crossword (the grading differing as to whether the time is for the back page or the Toughie). I also think it is a case of the more puzzles you do, the easier you find them and after over 40 years and now doing all the daily cryptics, I certainly solve a lot of them.

    2. Hi LL, I am a comparative newbie to cryptics having been doing them for just over 3 years now, I agree that sometimes the rating given is nowhere near to the difficulty I experience with a puzzle but I’ve never let that discourage me and as sue says they have to base it on their own solving times, however we are all welcome to make our own comments and assessments and it is often encouraging to see that others struggle with certain puzzles too, that’s what this great blog is all about :-D

      1. I agree that practice makes perfect, and Lady L and I have been doing the Telegraph back page for a number of years now, but I do feel that there has been a slippage in the grading of late. What we found 2 or 3* a year ago, and we agreed more or less with the blogger, seems to have slipped down the hardness assessment scale by a notch or two. The less kind might suggest that senility is having its effects on us, but I am not convinced that is the entire answer. I do accept that grading this is not dissimilar to asssessing art coursework for A level – it cannot avoid being subjective to a degree.

        1. I agree that the difficulty grading may appear to be subjective, but we do try, as CS said, to make it as objective as possible. Since solvers have been complaining, in various degrees, about the gradings since we started doing them three and a half years ago, I don’t think they have changed much in that time.

          You can see what has happened with GCSE gradings over recent years with the left-wing educationalists wanting everyone to pass with flying colours and the employers finding that they have become increasingly meaningless as a guide to ability. I don’t think that is what you want us to do here.

          1. BTW my own personal time for this puzzle put it comfortably inside a two-star difficulty rating, even though I did have to guess the book title from the checking letters and look it up on Wikipedia.

            1. I did the same with the book title – had all the checking letters and worked out the anagram. Nice to know that you, Bloggers, sometimes actually have to look things up – I always get the impression that you know EVERYTHING!

              Thanks to Today’s Setter – “Nice Surface Readings” & to CS for an amusing review.

              (I was going to ask if anyone has seen Gazza today…….but apparently not!)

        2. The difficulty ratings, as BD says, have been contentious since we started and they do pose dilemmas for the bloggers (for example what rating to give a puzzle where you solve all but one clue very quickly but that last one takes twice as long as the rest put together?).
          If you take 3* to mean average difficulty then, logically, there should be as many puzzles with more than 3* as there are with fewer. But what does average mean? If we take it to mean the average difficulty of the DT puzzles, then I agree that our difficulty ratings for the back-pagers tend to be on the low side. However, if (as I tend to do) you judge the difficulty against the “broadsheet” puzzles in general then I think that we get it about right for the back-pagers.

  6. We got back from France yesterday – feel as if I have been thrown into the air and landed with all of me in the wrong order. I did the crosswords on husband’s iPad while we were away – with lots of “help” from French sister-in-law! :roll:
    I really enjoyed today’s puzzle – done on paper, sitting at kitchen table and with no gratuitous “help”!
    Although I did 1a it took me ages to work out what it was an anagram of – always forget abbreviations like “B” for book.
    Too many good clues today to write them all down so just a few that I particularly liked were 19, 21 and 27a and 1, 17 and 19d.
    With thanks to the setter and to Crypticsue.
    Off to do lots of sorting out now – house is a complete tip and garden looks as if Autumn has arrived in one week.

    1. Back from two weeks in Skiathos, the good news is that you can get the telegraph(compact size) the same day- ideal for solving by the pool with a cold beer or two!
      The cat resembles a puffer fish and i fear the inevitable will shortly happen.
      Anyway i thought it was a **/*** and ***and i too had difficulty with 1a and b for book, which was a little sneaky, only solved it when i had all the down clues, apart from this a good selection of clues. As a Holmes fan( Basil Rathbone and Jeremy Brett) i remember there was a reference in one story- to a “giant rat of sumatra” of which the story was never told, can anyone else recall this?

      1. I’m glad that Skiathos was good and that you could get the paper the same day – NOT in the Loire! Sorry about the “puffer fish” but tiny kittens are SO beautiful – you will want to keep them all! Well, I did, and we had fifteen in five months – OK you can call me irresponsible if you like!! Good luck! :smile:

      2. I meant that I WANTED to keep all of them – not that we did. I think husband might have gone on strike just a little tiny bit!!

  7. 1a needed google to work out. Didn’t like that clue. 19a was the best of the day.

    Nothing else stood out as good. Just straight forward and just needed thinking about.

  8. Many thanks to the setter for a very enjoyable puzzle and to Crypticsue for the excellent review. Reading the earlier contributions, I appear to be one of the few to have heard of the great Gustav, I believe it comes from the days when I used to “dog school” (play truant) and go to the Glasgow reference library known as the Mitchell, where I sat for hours on end reading all and sundry.

    1. Au contraire, Monsieur!

      I’ve heard of the great Gustave – but not his novel “Perroquet”.

    1. Please remember to pronounce the name of this book correctly; most people don’t realise that the “T” should be silent in both words.


  9. Smooth surface readings, obscure (for me!) general knowledge clue at 1a, one could almost think it was Giovanni, except it’s Tuesday. Confusing, eh. Agree with ratings, and with Wozza’s comment that it was all over too quickly. Faves 19 and 22 down

  10. Thought it was trickier than a two star if only for 1a which I have never heard of either the book or the author and 6d which I still don’t get. Couldn’t get the anagram 27a and nor could my electronic friend. Thought 26a was a clever misdirection.

  11. I return with news. I had heard of the book in 1a having seen in the public library, read the inside front cover and put it back on the shelf, but I have just been for a walk with someone who has actually read it! Her verdict was ‘good but his later books are better’.

    1. Not sure about Julian Barnes – I have read some of his but a long time ago and now can’t remember what. For some reason I mix him up with Ian McEwan …. oh dear – perhaps I’m losing my marbles!! :sad:

  12. Thank you again for the hints……..and I have to admit, some of the answers. I can’t believe some of you finish this thing in the morning!
    After starting to do the DT cryptic puzzles two months ago, I’m still struggling.
    I’ll keep going though, but can’t do it without you all !

    1. If you have only been doing the DT cryptics for two months that is very good going. One of the things people suggest is getting as far as you can, then looking at the hints for either the acrosses or downs which should help you fill in a bit more of them and give you some checking letters which should help you solve the other clues.

    2. Well done to you if you’ve only been doing these addictive things for a couple of months. You’re very lucky to have come across this great blog so soon – you will learn so much, so quickly, from all the wonderful people around here that you will, before long, be able to do them without much help. Good luck and keep going!! :smile:

  13. Pleasurable but over too quickly ( as the actress said to the Bishop)
    Yet, the DT has given this 5* for difficulty.
    Are we being softened up for Thursday?

    1. I wouldn’t take much notice of the difficulty level on the Telegraph Puzzles site. The only way they have of measuring is by using the elapsed times between subscribers starting or printing a puzzle and submitting it. So, if a few people print off the puzzle in the morning and take it to work with them, then submit the puzzle when they get home, that will skew the calculated difficulty level considerably.

    2. I agree with Gazza, For i am a member of that guilty party, I usually print off the puzzle before i go to bed but rarely give it a serious look and submit until the morning (so to speak).

      1. Thanks for the explanations but it’s odd that the 5* rating seldom occurs.
        Invariably it’s a 2*

        1. I find ratings to be far too subjective, Therefor i take no notice fof them. I have just completed toughie 65 with a rating of 4*, It took me twice as long as 64 also a 4*.

  14. I’m coming in late in the day, but did this puzzle this morning, and it’s exactly the kind of crossword that I like. I could complete it with the minimum of help and enjoyed the clues. Best for me today were 19a and 1d. Thank you CSue for your hints, and especially for explaining 17d — didn’t know it was a knot. So thanks to you and the compiler for a very pleasant breakfast. :-)

  15. 27a fave, fab review Cryptic Sue, normality resumes post beer festival and stoopidly agreeing to dog sit bank holiday weekend, 3 days, 5 dogs, 3 houses, 3 times a day. Shattered, thanks setter and CS. Oh

    1. 3 days, 5 dogs, 3 houses AND 3 times a day is over and above the call of duty – well done to you!! :smile:

  16. Solved it in bed last night as usual. Agree with your difficulty rating with exception of 1a, which in common with little dave I had never heard of. And I use to be a French teacher! Mind you, ashamed to say I’ve not read a novel for twenty years. Probably quite unusual for a cryptic crossword fanatic.

  17. A good many years since I last did this crossword and 1a may well stop me for a few years to come. Having said that, I obviously have a lot to catch up on and, since I like to work from the top left down to the bottom right, starting with “dowager” didn’t help.

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