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DT 26962

Daily Telegraph Cryptic No 26962

Hints and tips by Gazza

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BD Rating – Difficulty **Enjoyment **

I thought that this was a fairly mundane puzzle with not a lot of laughs (and remarkably few opportunities for an illustration). Did you consider it a bit 21d or did you think it was a 1a? In either case let us have a comment.
To see an answer drag your cursor through the gap between the curly brackets under the clue.

Across Clues

1a  Caught girl with 2/3 of diamonds — great work (7)
{CLASSIC} – the way that ‘caught’ is shown on a cricket scorecard is followed by a girl and two of the three letters of an informal word for diamonds.

5a  Rats on plants with long, narrow leaves (7)
{GRASSES} – double definition, ‘rats on’ meaning betrays.

9a  Male removing top from mineral water, getting more tipsy (7)
{MERRIER} – the abbreviation for male is followed by a French brand of mineral water without its initial letter (removing top).

10a  Exchange bowl finally after salesman gets hole in one (7)
{REPLACE} – append the final letter of (bow)L to an abbreviated salesman, then finish with an informal term for a hole in one at golf.

11a  Realisation: war seen as wrong (9)
{AWARENESS} – an anagram (wrong) of WAR SEEN AS.

12a  Monkey grabbing ends of peel to obtain fruit (5)
{APPLE} – a word for a monkey contains (grabbing) the two end letters of P(ee)L.

13a  Pen — the French kind (5)
{STYLE} – nothing to do with la plume de ma tante – this is a charade of the type of pen in which you’d house your pigs and one of the French definite articles.

15a  Land turtle, half conserved by one conservative (9)
{TERRITORY} – retain just the first half of a freshwater turtle and add I (one) and a Conservative.

17a  Quietly said he drew ship at sea: not hard (9)
{WHISPERED} – an anagram (at sea) of HE DREW S(h)IP without the H(ard). The surface is pretty poor.

19a  Newspaper absorbed by American soldier’s talents (5)
{GIFTS} – the abbreviation of the daily paper that specialises in business and finance goes inside (absorbed by) the abbreviation for a private soldier in the US plus the ‘S.

22a  Pork pie eaten by an extraterrestrial (5)
{ALIEN} – what pork pie means in rhyming slang is contained within (eaten by) AN.

23a  Criteria which could be raised on ships? (9)
{STANDARDS} – double definition.

25a  Head holds sanctimonious belief (7)
{OPINION} – one of the many slang words for a head (nut, noodle, bonce and bean being just a few of the others) goes round an abbreviated adjective meaning sanctimonious or holier-than-thou.

26a  Think of wise men in inn going by east and northern deserts (7)
{IMAGINE} – the word, derived from Persian, that is used for the wise men bearing gifts in the Christian tradition is inserted in INN and E(ast). Then, as an afterthought, we have to go back and delete one of the Ns (northern deserts).

27a  Mum turning less nice after leaving son (7)
{SILENCE} – this is the sort of mum that you are urged to keep when secrecy is demanded. It’s an anagram (turning) of LES(s) NICE after one S(on) has been left out.

28a  Most within range are in retreat (7)
{NEAREST} – simply insert ARE in a retreat or refuge.

Down Clues

1d  Ring company with millions to spend (7)
{COMPASS} – although the wordplay is pretty clear I wasn’t sure how the answer matched the definition until I consulted the BRB; it’s being used as a verb here, meaning to go round or ring (we’re more used to seeing it in this sense when it’s preceded by en-). Start with the abbreviation for company and add M(illions) and a verb to spend (time rather than money).

2d  Almost everyone prepared by the time in question (7)
{ALREADY} – all but the last letter of a synonym for everyone is followed by an adjective meaning prepared.

3d  Runner left out of team? On the contrary (5)
{SLIDE} – this is the sort of runner that you’ll find on a sledge or a drawer. On the contrary means that, rather than leaving L(eft) out, we have to insert it in a synonym of team.

4d  Saw user complain then go in (9)
{CARPENTER} – a verb meaning to complain or find fault is followed by another verb meaning to go in.

5d  Shoots Europeans after article is censored (5)
{GERMS} – remove (is censored) the indefinite article from citizens of a large European country.

6d  What bowler might be doing is attractive (9)
{APPEALING} – double definition. What the bowler is doing is asking the umpire for a favourable decision.

7d  Locks cleaner in Lewisham poolroom (7)
{SHAMPOO} – something used to clean locks is hidden in the clue.

8d  Almost need cry — upset after sun’s setting (7)
{SCENERY} – an anagram (upset) of NEE(d) CRY follows S(un).

14d  Sign of something wrong in a pension — unusual growth (9)
{EXPANSION} – insert the letter used by a teacher to indicate yet another mistake in your homework into an anagram (unusual) of A PENSION.

16d  Fixed portion without cooking aid such as a microwave? (9)
{RADIATION} – ‘such as’ indicates that a microwave is just an example of the answer. Put a fixed portion or quota round (without) an anagram (cooking) of AID.

17d  We will need kitchen items — run out to get knives, maybe (7)
{WEAPONS} – start with WE and add the sort of garments you might need to wear in the kitchen, then  take out the R (run out) to make what knives are examples of.

18d  Win it? I almost secured first (7)
{INITIAL} – the answer is hidden (secured) in the clue.

20d  Small body of soldiers storing last bits of the plunder set to be rich (7)
{FERTILE} – a line or small body of soldiers contains (storing) the last bits of thE plundeR seT.

21d  PC uses reconstruction to get time for accused (7)
{SUSPECT} – this is someone who is thought to be guilty (I’m not convinced that it has quite the same meaning as the accused). It’s an anagram (reconstruction) of PC USES followed by T(ime).

23d  Church after evil past (5)
{SINCE} – an adverb meaning past or ago comes from appending one of the abbreviations for church to a synonym of evil or wickedness.

24d  Small drink before a show (5)
{DRAMA} – a theatrical show comes from a wee drink followed by A.

The clue that stood out for me was 7d. How about you?

Today’s Quickie Pun: {GRATE} + {DEIGN} = {GREAT DANE}

76 comments on “DT 26962

  1. More a 3*/2.5* for me. I thought there were some nice clues -7 and 22 particularly stood out but far too many substitution type clues where one or more letters is dropped out before scrambling them around. I’m sure there’s a name for these but I don’t know it but hope you know what I mean! They seem to be characteristic of Jay’s puzzles.

    Thanks to both.


  2. This one was more of a 3* than 2* difficulty for us. As you suggest it felt a bit ‘clunky’ rather than smooth. Did have some nice clues though. Our preference 4d and 17d. Thanks setter and Gazza.

  3. Enjoyed it ‘cos I finished it ! I find it difficult to adjust from one day to another to the different wavelength of each setter. I found today’s puzzle harder than yesterday’s – but no doubt others will see it in reverse.

    Not sure who the setter is, but I have a feeling that last week I needed a few hints to finish – so perhaps some progress is being made !

    Thank you to the setter and to Gazza for your review – your photos make the answers fairly clear without even reading the hint or indeed the clue !!

  4. Apart from a couple in the top right, this mostly went in without pause for thought. 2*/3* for me.
    Thanks to setter, and to gazza.

    Probably just me, but I thought the toughie was a little tricky in places for a Tuesday, but great fun. Confused about the definition of one of the clues – which BD will no doubt clarify for me later.

      1. No problem with that one, but I had better not say any more, in case I spoil it for anyone who has not looked at it yet.

                1. Yes, had that, wondered which one you had, spending every other weekend in Glasgow it’s not easy to forget what happened to Rangers….

  5. Morning Gazza, a three star for me today, though I didn’t need the hints, I thought the ‘instructions’ in the clues quite straightforward but still had to use my CDC and electronic friends quite a bit, I’m with you on 1a although I put it in, I couln’t see the connection, also I needed your explainations for 15d, 20d and 28a, although I had the right answers, I couldn’t see how they worked, there were a few clues I quite liked but nothing that really stood out, quite an enjoyable puzzle, which I had to perservate to finish, thanks for hints and explainations Gazza, still no sunshine here!!!!!!! :-(

  6. Agree with your opening comment Gazza. No really good clues and it all seemed to be a bit mechanical.
    For reasons unknown I found the bottom half harder than the top! At one point I had everything down to 17a/19a but nothing below, but then 14d came to the rescue!

    Thanks to the setter and Gazza

  7. Certainly 3* for us today. Rather too many clues requiring the addition or subtraction of letters from words either in the clue itself or alluded to. Having said that, I did quite like 9a. Favourite was 4d. Thanks Gazza for your elucidation.

  8. Plodded through most of this one, not particularly enjoyable, needed a couple of hints to finish, so a three star diff. for me.

    Thanks for review,

    Thanks to setter I did enjoy some of the clues, 4d favourite.

  9. A rather boring puzzle, with no moments of sudden enlightenment to enliven its completion. I was able to catch up on some reading for much of my train journey.

  10. Agree with Wozza and Lord Luvvaduck. Far too much subtraction, addition and general messing about with letters, resulting in a boring puzzle

  11. I quite enjoyed this but was on a totally different wave length to the setter and found it difficult – at least a 3* for difficulty for me, maybe a bit more, and probably 3* for enjoyment too.
    I needed the hints to explain 26a – however I looked at it I had too many of something – and 20d. I got in a terrible muddle with 15a but eventually managed to sort that one out for myself. 5d and 5a were my last two. The only plant that I could think of with long narrow leaves was a spider plant so I spent a while trying to find out if there was a kind of rat called a spider or if it was some kind of slang for being a traitor! :roll: I didn’t like 21d very much although the answer was clearly an anagram.
    I liked 12, 22 and 27a and 7d.
    With thanks to the setter and Gazza.

  12. Tuesday puzzles are usually like this, sort of more difficult than a Rufus and less fun than some of the others puzzles later in the week. Thanks to the mystery setter and to Gazza – I agree with you about 7d.

  13. I generally agree with the above comments (I hope I don’t tempt someone to add something derogatory about me above – after I have posted this).

    Last in was 5d. Some nice clues and one or two more unusual definitions. *** for enjoyment.

    Regds to all

  14. I generally agree with the above comments (I hope I don’t tempt someone to add something derogatory about me above – after I have posted this).

    Last in was 5d. Some nice clues and one or two more unusual definitions. *** for enjoyment.

    Regds to all

  15. Thanks to the setter and to Gazza, fairly enjoyable if untaxing crossword and the usual excellent review.

  16. Hi Dave

    Just noticed your blog and wondered whether you / blog respondents might be interested to know that we have a show called Cracking Cryptics, presented by Tony Long, and it is being held in various places between now and end November, Swindon tomorrow, then Maidenhead, then Potters Bar and others. Details are on the Personal Crosswords website. Best wishes, Helen

  17. Hi Digby

    5d was my last as well!

    From Collins on-line:-
    Germ (n) – often plural the rudimentary or initial form of something

    Synonyms : beginning, root, seed, origin, spark, bud, embryo, rudiment, egg, nucleus, sprout, spore, ovum, ovule.

    Doen’t actually give ‘shoot’ but I guess it’s near enough.

  18. Just starting out, and resultingly had to use your hints for around 30% of the puzzle.

    Interestingly, the first two I looked at were 5a,d and got them both instantly, I can’t explain this other than beginners luck and thought they were quite clever. Along with 15a these were my favourites because I got them!

    The lower half is where I struggled (with a few exceptions) and agree about the “mechanical” comments, a very good descriptor for today.

    Thanks to the setter and Gazza of course!

    1. Hi Jim – welcome to the blog. Now that you’ve found us I hope that we’ll hear from you regularly.

      1. Thanks Gazza. I hope so too – you never know maybe one day I’ll finish one all by myself too!


        1. Hi Jim
          There used to be a group on here called the “Clueless Club” (CC for short). To get out of it you had to solve at least one DT back pager with no external help whatsoever, no dictionary, thesaurus, Google or anything! Not heard of it for a while as I think most of the original members have graduated! Perhaps you would like to start it again?

            1. Membership is free and open to all – all you have to do is come out and admit you’ve never completed one unaided. It’s a big celebration day when somebody graduates :grin:

              1. Oh dear ! – perhaps I don’t qualify after all. I have solved unaided when on a plane etc, but recently, since I started trying to do them every day I use every gadget / means available to speed things up when I get stuck. I try to go as far as possible without electronic help, but if deadlock is reached I do summon assistance !

                I have assumed ( maybe incorrectly ) that setters also use reference books etc in compiling clues and that it is fair game for a solver to do the same if stuck ??

                1. You’ll have to ask Mary as she’s the one that started it. As far as I know once you’re out there’s no going back!

                  I’m sure the setters use Chambers and a Thesaurus and also electronic aids to filling grids so I’ve no problem with us solvers using them as well if we get stuck. But I do try to do as much as I can without help!

                  1. You young people don’t realise how lucky you are. Back in the dark ages, we just learned how to solve the crossword as best we could and then waited for the next day’s paper to find out the one’s we couldn’t get and where we might have gone wrong with the ones we solved. Blogs and electronic aids weren’t even twinkles in someone’s eye when I started.

                    1. .. and the most frustrating thing was that having got the right answers the next day, you often couldn’t see why they were the right answers.

                2. I do think that when you have no help available – ie dictionary etc etc – you somehow manage to do crosswords that you wouldn’t otherwise have been able to do, mainly because you would have gone running for help before you needed to. The first one that I ever completed on my own was in the Channel Tunnel.

          1. Hi Pommers,

            After today’s effort it sounds harsh to say the least, especially without the use of anything.

            I think you haven’t sold it too well. Maybe if there was some sort of benefit (e.g. moral support/inpirational messages from non-CC’ers) it might work?

            Obviously I would be in – but can I get a show of “CC” s to guage how many others there are out there?

            Who know’s maybe I’ll get out of it tomorrow …


            1. Haven’t sold it too well? Retired from Marketing about seven years ago so must have lost the knack :grin:
              There’s always support and guidance from more experienced solversavailable on here so all you have to do is ask and you’ll get a pretty quick reply. If you keep at it and use the blog, you’ll get there quicker than you think! My wife (pommette on here when she occasionally posts) got out of the CC in about six months from being a complete novice! It’s all just a bit of fun but can spark off some amusing banter at times.

              One good tip is that when you get completely stuck read the hints for the across clues to get some checkers and then see if you can do the downs on your own.

  19. Thank you Pommers, although I had 5D I did wonder about “shoots” — and now I know ! Oh the English language and its subtle nuances! Otherwise pretty straightforward and enjoyable. Favourites 5, 17 and 22A, 4 and 17D. With thanks to setter and Gazza.

  20. I thought I’d been doing so well, improving every day – and then comes today’s puzzle ! Back to complete beginner’s status but thank you for the help and hints.

    1. Don’t be disheartened – there are always peaks and troughs but if you attempt the crossword every day (and ensure that you understand the wordplay of all the clues) you will achieve a sustained improvement.

      1. Gazza, Disagree completely! I’ve been trying the cryptics for well over 50 years! No improvement…so far!

        Very similar to golf! Practice does not make perfect!

        1. With you all the way here with both crosswords and golf. Good job I do both for pleasure and not for the results!!

    2. Just keep going – I’ve been doing crosswords for ages, on and off. I’ve only become a complete addict (ie doing them every day and feeling deprived if, for some reason, I can’t) since stumbling on this wonderful blog – not only is it friendly and helpful but, suddenly, solving crosswords is not a solitary occupation. I still have days when I find them really difficult.

  21. Don’t see how it can be a two star, I managed four answers after an hour then gave up. No phrases and if there are anagrams I can’t find them, awful! At least a four star for difficulty and 1 star for enjoyment for me.

    1. Not sure that’s really fair. I found it far more difficult than a 2* but think that I was just on a different wave length – perhaps you were too. Phrases and anagrams? Have just had a couple of glasses of wine and really can’t remember now!! I did enjoy it more than lots of other people seem to have done.

    2. Brian I wince at a) Giovanni and b) positively convulse at Virgilius because they take me probably far longer than you can do them and no doubt all contributors to this site can solve them. However I cannot find a fault with their clues, it’s me who is lacking, a wavelength thing for sure imho. You may be in luck, could be a RayT on Thursday, ducks out of the way……,

      1. RayT last week so the other tormentor on Thursday – getting butterfiels already as I’m in the hot seat!

        1. so it was, you have my day time e-mail, and I won’t be solving till I buy the paper enroute to Cambridge in the morning, no doubt you’ll be solving overnight…..

          1. No, won’t be doing the overnight job on Thursday. Weather cooling down now (only 28C today) so it’s safe to go to bed at a normal time and actually get some kip!

        2. Pommers , only just read your post reguarding your voyage on the (star) ship Heart of Gold , of course the real slarti , me, never flew on said ship, too busy designing Norway. However you may be uninterested to know that I once owned a small cabin cruiser (on the river great ouse) which I called “DARK STAR” . from the film and starship of the same name. It was an early John Carpenter offering and its just as daft as THGTTG, if you haven’t yet seen it you just gotta.

          1. Strange coincidence as it may seem, two of said crew (Trillian and Ford) went on a cruise around your Fjords last Spring! Not in a yacht I hasten to add but a rather large liner.
            I’ve not come across Dark Star but i’ll have a look as I like ‘daft’ :grin:.

            1. Go for it pommers, if you are a douglas adams fan you will love it. i’m sure its still available ..amazon must have it …..PS just look at the wikipedia entry, that alone makes me laugh PSS enjoyed the DT Xword today

              1. Shall have a look tomorrow. Certainly a fan of THGTTG and also The Meaning of Liff.

                Going bed now so – Goodbye, and thanks for all the fish :lol:

  22. I too had trouble with this one… But then I’ve only been trying to do these for less than a week. It was like I just wasn’t in the mood for this today…

    “tomorrow the future will be better” as President Bush jnr is reported to have said :-)

  23. Thanks to the mysteron & to Gazza for the hints & tips. First in was 11a, then needed 8 hints to finish, found it a bit of a slog with no laughs.

  24. I too found it very tough. I still have not finished it. But I am about to look at the hints above. Perhaps now (24 hours late) I will get to finish it ;-(

    1. Hi Mixalis – welcome to the blog.

      Ideally a crossword clue (it’s surface or ‘surface reading’) should mean something in its own right (i.e. it shouldn’t just be an assembly of unrelated words). I couldn’t work out what the surface of this clue meant.

    2. The “surface reading” of a cryptic clue is what it appears to say when read simply as a sentence.

      The “cryptic reading” is the set of instructions the solver must use to construct the solution.

      The best cryptic clues appear to be meaningful English sentences, while at the same time (when read correctly) containing a “recipe” for the solution, which can often be something quite unrelated to the apparent meaning of the sentence.

      One of the worst criticisms of a crossword clue is that it could only be a crossword clue.

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