DT 26963 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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DT 26963

Daily Telegraph Cryptic No 26963

Hints and tips by scchua

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

BD Rating – Difficulty **Enjoyment ***

I rate this about 1.5 for difficulty, and a 2.5 for enjoyment.  The clues were not that difficult, and there were some nice surfaces too, eg. 17d and 25a.  Thanks to setter.

At the request of our sponsor, I’m changing my spots, well half of them today, for a start.  So it’s RIP to the style in the Across clues below (apparently some perceived it as near rocket science and/or written in a foreign language and/or outside their comfort zones and/or not chatty and/or too detailed and/or whatever).  And hello to a more conformist style a la the Down clues below.  Please comment, but, in order that I may respond intelligently, please be as specific as you can.

As usual, definitions are underlined in the clues, and clicking between the curly brackets brings up the answers (bold font) or bits of the answers (regular font).


1a    Helicopter ejecting hotel inspector, for example (6)

{COPPER} : Informal term for a Helicopter,{chopper} minus(ejecting) “h”,represented by “hotel ” in the phonetic alphabet.

Answer: An example of which is an inspector.

5a    Restricted dealing in trade covering source of oil (8)

{RATIONED} : Anagram of(dealing) “in tradecontaining(covering) initial letter(source) of “oil“.

9a    Symbols of authority priest understands (6,7)

{FATHER FIGURES} : Padre,priest,{father} + works out,understands,{figures}.

10a    Practical people mostly relax welcoming top celebs (8)

{REALISTS} : To take it easy,relax,{rest} minus its last letter(mostly) containing(welcoming) the roster of top celebs,{a-list}

11a    City dweller getting personal in match (6)

{TOWNIE} : Descriptive of what belongs to one,personal,{own} contained in(getting … in) a game, match,{tie}.

Answer: A rather derogatory term used by country folk.

12a    A power unit rejected by old capital city (6)

{OTTAWA} : Reversal of(rejected) [A + a unit of measure of power,{watt}] placed after(by) abbrev. for old.

14a    Good man! Steak and French tart (8)

{STRUMPET} : Abbrev. for a religiously Good man,{st} + a particular cut of Steak,{rump} + French for and,{et}.

Answer: A person, not a pudding.

16a    Militant craftsman confronted by pressure (8)

{PARTISAN}: craftsman,{artisan} placed after(confronted by) symbol in physics for pressure,{p}.

Answer: As a noun.

19a    Energy retained in using oddly natural talent (6)

{GENIUS} : Symbol in physics for Energy,{e} contained in(retained in) anagram of(oddly) “using“.

21a    Gems thrown out by last one standing (6)

{STONES} : Hidden in(thrown out by) “last one standing“.


23a    Fishwives? Maybe! (8)

{MERMAIDS} : Cryptic defn: wives of Fish-men, tails and all.

25a    Polite and direct person such as Brunel? (5,8)

{CIVIL ENGINEER} : Polite,{civil} plus(and) to manipulate,direct,{engineer}.

Answer: An exampleof which,such as, was the Englishman Isambard Kingdom Brunel.

26a    Fine source of water, I say (4,4)

{WELL WELL} : In conjunction with good,Fine,{well} + a source of water,{well}.

Answer: A double-barrelled expression.

27a    Understand boy is making progress (4,2)

{GETS ON} : To grasp the meaning,Understand,{get} + a boy,{son}.


2d    Unusual round after start (7)

{OFFBEAT} : The round that a policeman walks placed after part of what a commentator would say at the start, of eg. a race.

3d    A bit of flower power — and other things (5)

{PETAL} : Symbol in physics for power + Latin for “and other (things)”.

4d    Short tea breaks initially satisfied current controllers (9)

{RHEOSTATS} : Anagram of(breaks) “Short tea “+ initial letter of(initially) “satisfied “.

5d    Declines employment opportunities ultimately given to football official (7)

{REFUSES} : employment opportunities placed after short form of a football official, the one who blows.

6d    Tourist attraction with time for son to get drunk (5)

{TIGHT} : A Tourist attraction, something to look at, with the abbrev. for time, replacing the abbrev. for son in the word.

7d    People rowing creating chaos in a newsroom (9)

{OARSWOMEN} : Anagram of(creating chaos) “a newsroom “. Another hint (and excuse me, those who’ve heard this before): Heard in a recent TV presenter’s commentary of a medal ceremony: “Ah, isn’t that nice, the wife of the IOC president is hugging the cox of the British crew.”

8d    Facilities in empty European train? (2,5)

{EN SUITE} :  “European” without its inside letters(empty) + a train of followers.  This was my last one to be parsed, even though I got the answer early on.  Got stuck by being fixed on “train” as the kind you travel in.

Answer: Descriptive of bathroom Facilities adjoining and in a (bed)room.

13d    Not in favour of new form of literature (4-5)

{ANTI-NOVEL} : Not pro-,Not in favour of + newfangled.

15d    Considering revision of grade during call (9)

{REGARDING} : Anagram of(revision of) “gradecontained in to call on the phone.

Answer: Taking into account.

17d    Help for a newsreader reporting traffic jam? (7)

{AUTOCUE} : Homophone of(reporting) a line of waiting vehicles, ie. a traffic jam. Nice surface.

18d    Token oilman working after a touch of nerves (7)

{NOMINAL} : Anagram of(working) “oilman, placed after the initial letter(a touch) ofnerves “.

Answer: What the sum of $1 is described as.

20d    Experience reporting to work (7)

{UNDERGO} : Descriptive of a position/someone in an organisation who is reporting to a higher-up (who isn’t?) + the root verb from “if it’s working, then it’s …..”

22d    Only about five work out (5)

{SOLVE} : Of one,Only containing the Roman numeral for five.

Answer: As you would this crossword puzzle.

24d    Expert said sexpot needs to get rid of regulars (5)

{ADEPT} : “said sexpotminus(needs to get rid of) its odd-positioned letters(its regulars). What’s that expert expert in, I wonder?

Defn: As an adjective.

The Quick crossword pun: {aisle} + {ashes} = {eye lashes}

74 comments on “DT 26963

  1. Agree on difficulty but would give at least 3* for enjoyment. Being nice people looked for a culinary answer for 14a at first. Quite a lot of chuckle moments in the puzzle. Favourites were14a, 23a, and 17d. Thanks Scchua and Jay. It is nice to see the review up early as it usually doesn’t arrive until our bedtime.

    1. Hi 2Kiwis. Re 14a, were you by any chance thinking of a 7 letter word with almost the same spelling that is both a culinary item and which might also fit the definition here? :-)

  2. 1.5 difficulty 3* fun. Very enjoyable start to Wednesday thank you to Jay. Thanks to sschua too.

    Once you get on his wavelength, the Beam Toughie doesn’t take long (leave the NW corner to last!) and is very enjoyable.

  3. Found it harder than that. 3*/2* for me. Favourite was 3d. I do prefer your down hints to your across ones.

    Re 24d. Doesn’t it need to get rid of its odd letters not even ones?

  4. 2*/3* for me today. 4d brought back memories of my apprentice days as a sparks. Fav clue 25a. Thanks to setter & to scchua for the hints. I prefer the format of the down hints, clearer for me.

  5. Pretty normal stuff from Jay and very enjoyable. 2*/4* from me.

    Favourite was 14a where I too was looking for a culinary answer!

    Thanks to Jay and sschua – now for Mr Beam!

  6. Good fun, thanks Jay and Sschua, liked 4d 6d
    25a. Sschua, I prefer the down clue format, kinder on the eye.
    Had fun with 21a convinced myself Jagger et al had an LP called last man standing full of gems, Googled it and found they didn’t but there is a magazine called Rolling ?????. Never saw the hidden letters D’oh

    1. I’d like to agree with “Sschua, I prefer the down clue format, kinder on the eye.”.

    2. I also agree with the down clue format – makes it much easier when viewing the blog on my BlackBerry.

  7. Yesterday I only managed 4 clues. Today I finished it. If I keep taking the medicine I ‘may’ get better

  8. Thank you Jay and Scchua. I found this harder than yesterday’s and needed one hint to finish – not saying which one of course !

  9. Despite penning 22d and 27a early doors – I didn’t! Still in the CC. However, I did get 11 answered completely unaided (mostly anagrams and hidden words), I guess that’s a start.

    After looking at the hints I still struggled with most, maybe i’ll do better tomorrow.

    An interesting point about wavelength (I like to kid myself) would be how I solved 5d (slightly) differently to scchua: synonym for employment plus the last letter of (ultimately) opportunites on the end of (given to) a football official. Like I said only slightly different – but hopefully you get where I’m coming from.

    As a CC’er I’m going to give it 2* fun and 4* difficulty, as I got some and simply would not have got others.

    Thanks scchua and setter.

    1. Thanks pommers, and good to know my brains not wrong crypticsue (unless we’re all affected).

      Fact of the day: Cryptic Crosswords are better than school, after today there’s no way I’ll forget what a rheostat is!

      1. No we’re not all affected! If you take ’employment opportunities’ to be USES (a bit thin!) then the word ‘ultimately’ is bringing nothing to the wordplay.

        1. You’re probably right, but at the time, I saw “employment opportunities” as in “the various uses that this gadget could be put to”, while “ultimately given to” indicates “placed after, at the end of the word answer”. In fact, I had initially put in “ultimately given to” in parentheses after “placed after” as an explanation, but deleted it for being too busy (cf. some previous comments). Different wavelengths, I guess, as SASManJim says.

          1. Indeed, when I read your tip I fully accepted that “ultimately given to” meant “added to the end of”.

            Possibly the increased transparency of clues having more than one valid route to a solution opposed to having one specific interpretation justifies the difference between difficulty *s in most puzzles.

            Maybe difficulty should be reversed and replaced by Bandwidth for each puzzle?

  10. Agree with Dave **/***,fairly straight forward and enjoyable.
    Did anyone else put ‘latent’ for 19a-ie retained or hidden energy from an anagram of talent? (ie using talent oddly) set me back for a while until i solved 15d, liked 9a and 23a.

  11. I thought this was going to be difficult to start with but eventually got going and decided that it wasn’t so I agree with the 2*.
    I was stupidly slow to get the fairly simple anagram at 5a – don’t know why! I missed the anagram indicator in 4d but finally, with alternate letters in, dredged up the word from the recesses of the brain. I’ve never heard of 13d.
    I liked 9, 14 and 25a and 3, 17 and 24d.

    As far as the style of the hints is concerned I prefer the one used in the down clues but only because it is closer to what we’re used to. I think that we’re all such creatures of habit that anything a bit different gives us a shock – I’m sure that, given time, we would adapt.

    Q How many Oxford professors does it take to change a light bulb?
    A What do you mean CHANGE – this is Oxford!

    1. Agreed!

      Woodrow Wilson said: “If you want to make enemies, try to change something.” :-)

    2. I agree Kath. It’s probably about what we’re used to and have grown comfortable with.

      Having said that, I do prefer the more narrative, less formal style that we are used to and find the Across style (in particluiar) used above a bit too clinical. I think it comes down to the difference between a hint and a structured explanation of the solution. The use of colour and brackets within the hint make it heavy-going to read and I would favour a less formal/rigid structure. I don’t think we need the solutions to the individual components – for instance, in 1A it would be sufficient to say “informal term for helicopter, minus phonetic ‘H’ leaves informal term for police officer”.

      The more heavily-structured style probably suits beginners more than seasoned solvers who need a few hints. I’d be interested to read more views.

      Thanks to setter and Scchua – always good to challenge the status quo!

      1. Thanks for your feedback, Stuart. I knew upfront that it would be impossible to write a blog that met everybody’s needs and tastes. The blogger is therefore in a quandary as to whom he should be addressing. I started off trying to address the lowest common factor (not that there’s anything wrong with being that), and hence the detailed structure, to offer maximum help. After all, the seasoned solvers need few hints, as you say, and therefore probably need to read only very selected parts of the blog.
        Looks like I made an unpopular choice. [Btw, I think that one can get a hint from a (slightly modified) structured explanation. Obviously not always the other way round]

        1. As a newbie, I have to say I enjoyed the down tips more. There was still a sense of achievement when I solved one after a down hint.

          Either way – thanks!

        2. scchua, with regard to your format – I hate to be critical, but my main problem is that it is not very easy on the eye! Normally, I always read the whole review, whether I have completed the puzzle or not! But, with your reviews, I only go to read the bits that I did not understand.

          Your way of doing things seems to involve far too much hard work – all that formatting!

          However, Many Thanks!

          1. stanXYZ, point noted. As for the hard work, it’s not as hard as you think – I’ve got macros to do the formatting and typing the standard phrases.

              1. Singapore is 7 hours ahead of BST at this time of year so sschua may be in bed by now as it’s about midnight. ( I only know because I have a good friend who lives there).

                    1. Only when someone posts a solving time. Spelling errors are neither here nor there – unless they’re put in the grid!

                1. Sorry, Mate but I was merely trying to point out that you had misspelt the name of Today’s Blogger – scchua!

                  1. No pasa nada! Just wasn’t sure what the 15 mins was about for a while – I claim senility as my excuse! I’m logged in automatically when I open the site so I don’t see the 15 minute editing bit.
                    Spelling – Mea Culpa, not the first time and wnot be the lsat! You clock the Sex Pitsols in yesterday’s Grauniad?

  12. Nice puzzle today. Can’t argue with the **/*** rating – nothing too tricky. Was looking forward to seeing a 14a or at least a 23a but instead got Rowan Atkinson! Good explanations though. Regds to all.

  13. Having solved 12a, I had expected Falcon to provide today’s Blog!

    ***/*** rating for me. My favourite was “Autocue” – but it shouldn’t have been the last in! Thanks to Jay & scchua.

    1. I wondered about that too, as it would have been Falcon today, but he’s moved to Thursday along with me!

  14. Good afternoon all,
    Oh deary me. I had LATENT, a retained (?) energy and anagram of ‘talent’, for 19a. As you may imagine this complicated things for a while.
    Thank you for a wonderful site, jolly useful in times of trouble.

  15. 1.5 for difficulty? You must be kidding! I really struggled with this one. Never heard of anti-novel.

    Being slightly pedantic, a rheostat is NOT a current controller ..at least not in the generally understood context..but a voltage divider or potentiometer.

    1. Hi Roger

      You are technically correct about the rheostat but, as it’s a variable resistor and varying resistance alters the current, I think it’s near enough for a crossword clue.

  16. Im still learning and prefer to be informed of which words are indicating what. Eg anagram of (denoted by the word ‘chaos’)… Etc

        1. Yes of course, I was commenting in the eyes of a newbie, me included quite often, when it’s useful to see an indicator in the clue rather than reading the hint. The Underlining thing has really worked for me, only if i’m really stuck do I now look at the hint, and then only for clarification of parsing etc. Hope you didn’t take it as a critisism, wasn’t meant, hope Pommette coping ok.

          1. Pommette’s doing OK thanks. You going to the S & B on Sat? If so you may see her! The underlining actually makes the blog easier to write – surprised nobody thought of it earlier!

            1. Have train tickets but usual dog sitters all away, hope to get there think just the afternoon but gutted missing anax band in the evening, hey ho.

              1. Pommette will only be there for an hour or so early afternoon – if she makes it at all. She says she would be pleased to meet you, and others again, and Gnomey is supposed to be attending! Hope she turns up as I think the break would do her good!

                  1. Thanks for the e-huggle – I’ll try to grab it in person if I possibly can. It’s just that there is still so much to do after a few setbacks with the sale.

  17. scchua : I freely and happily own to being one of the lowest common factors and I can’t do without the blog………so whether you change the format or not, for me it’s perfect so thank you very much. I’m still struggling but persevering in light of the encouragement I’ve received.
    One day I shall also be able to rate difficulty and enjoyment ….for now all I can see is difficulty !!

    1. To quote Pommers from a post yesterday – “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” . Keep at it, you’ll be surprised how quickly you’ll progress.

  18. Just to say I do not like this style of hints, across or down. The underlining of the definition is a great idea and other reviewers are using it, but personally i do not like the change of colours or type face, also It must be a more time consuming task for the reviewer to do it in this way. Having said all that I wouldn’t have the nowse or time to do it myself, so thanks to the setter and reviewer . I read the blog every day but rarely get the chance to comment.

  19. Thanks to the setter & to scchua for the review and hints. Great crossword, I was defeated by 4d, much to my shame I had resistors, seeing as i worked for 37 years as a telephone engineer & did well at physics at school. never spotted the anagram, once corrected, I got all the others that were causing me problems. favourites were 14, 16a and 3d. Good news that my Mother has improved enough to start rehab next week. Super weather today in Central London. i prefer the down clue format.

  20. For me at least a three star for difficulty. Not doing very well this week, finding them all very hard.

  21. Is it me or is anyone else finding these hints more difficult to follow than some of the clues? Take for example 23a, isn’t that more cryptic than the actual clue?

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