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DT 26976

Daily Telegraph Cryptic No 26976

Hints and tips by pommers

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

 Hola from the Vega Baja.  I thought this one was at the tricky end of 3* but I did enjoy it a lot.  There are some nice bits of  misdirection and some clever clues.  I’ll be interested to hear your opinions.

 Definitions are underlined in the clue.

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.


7a           Key impression made around motorway north (7)
{SEMINAL} – Key as in vital. Take the sort of impression made in wax, on a letter for example, and place it around the motorway which runs from London to Leeds and N(orth).

8a           Old Chancellor with very regal character at all events (7)
{HOWEVER} – One of Margaret Thatcher’s Chancellors (1979-83) followed by V(ery) and the usual abbreviation for the Queen (regal character).

10a         Uncertain  situation for a high-flier? (2,2,3,3)
{UP IN THE AIR} – Double definition, the second one being where you might find a bird or an aeroplane. Pommette knows all about being this after the Summer she’s had!

11a         Drop reportedly in rank (4)
{TIER} – A homophone (reportedly) of a drop which may come out of your eye.

 12a         Only nameless lad is sadly lacking faith (8)
{DISLOYAL} – An anagram (sadly) of O(n)LY (nameless) and LAD IS.

 14a         A dope clearly disheartened in business (6)
{AGENCY} – A (from the clue) followed by a word for dope, as in information, and then C(learl)Y (disheartened) gives a sort of business.

 15a         Property magazine giving one chance to be with loved ones? (7,4)
{QUALITY TIME} – This is the sort of period when you can relax with your loved ones without worrying about work or other responsibilities.  It’s a word for property, as in attribute, followed by a famous American news magazine.  Don’t seem to have had much of this recently!

 19a         Beam and bloody equipment having to be put back (6)
{GIRDER} –A famous Scottish soft drink was said to be made from these! Take the colour of something which is bloody and another word for equipment and reverse the lot (to be put back).  Personally I can’t stand the stuff!

 20a         Criminal is a sort to possess naphtha initially (8)
{ARSONIST} – This sort of criminal, who may well possess naphtha or some other inflammable liquid, is an anagram (criminal) of IS A SORT into which you have to insert (to possess) N (Naphtha initially).

 22a         Student gripped by selfishness retracted amorous glance (4)
{OGLE} – More a lecherous glance IMO! You need a word for selfishness or conceit and then reverse it (retracted) and insert (gripped by) the usual student.

 23a         Fair woman getting measure of horse in end possibly (4-6)
{EVEN HANDED} – Fair as in unbiased.  Start with the very first woman and follow with the unit used to measure a horse’s height inserted (in) into an anagram (possibly) of END.

 25a         Mental image of fellow worker when by yard (7)
{FANTASY} – A charade of F(ellow), one of the usual workers, another word for when and finally Y(ard).

 26a         Lower figure in field getting plant (7)
{COWSLIP} – The lower here is an animal which lows. Follow it with a cricket fielding position to get a pretty little wild flower.


1d           Part of castle appropriate for exercises (4,3)
{KEEP FIT} – The first word is a central part of a castle and the second a word for appropriate or apt.

 2d           European mentioned part of fish (4)
{FINN} – This northern European sounds like (mentioned) a part of a fish.

 3d           Walk ostentatiously for instance around tree (6)
{SASHAY} – To walk  ostentatiously as a model might on the catwalk.  Another word for ‘for instance’ or ‘for example’ placed around a tree.

 4d           Exotic root included in previous times in dish (3,5)
{POT ROAST} – This dish is a way of slow cooking cheaper cuts of meat in a covered dish.  It’s an anagram (exotic) of ROOT inserted (included in) into a word for previous times or history and then the whole lot split (3,5)

 5d           Fish, perhaps? Then raw meat cooked with time running out (10)
{WEATHERMAN} – This Fish isn’t an aquatic animal but the Fish who famously said there was no hurricane. It’s an anagram (cooked) of THEN RAW MEA(t), (Time running out). Nice concealment of the necessary capitalisation of Fish by putting it at the beginning.

 6d           Backs  element in legal case (7)
{DEFENCE} – Double definition.  The part of a football team where you find the backs is also one side of a legal case or trial.  This was my last in! I knew what the answer was but it took a while for the penny to drop on where it came from.

 9d           On which a cross may be exhibited for those standing? (6,5)
{BALLOT PAPER} – Cryptic definition of where you put a cross in an election.

 13d         High street concern as a French doctor with little energy tucked into coffee (10)
{LAUNDRETTE} – A place you may find on the high street (although there seem to be few of them nowadays) is the French indefinite article, an abbreviation for doctor and E(nergy) all placed inside (tucked into) a type of milky coffee.

 16d         Beer glass manufactured with no end of aplomb making substantial gift? (8)
{LARGESSE} – This generosity is an anagram (manufactured) of (b)EER GLASS (with no end of aplomB).

 17d         Indian tourist site appears in dull plan (7)
{DIAGRAM} – The Indian tourist site is the one where you’ll find the Taj Mahal. Place it inside (appears in) a word for dull or poorly lit.

 18d         Austere figure from church stopping wine clubs (7)
{ASCETIC} – Place the abbreviation for the Church of England inside (stopping) the usual Italian fizzy wine and follow with C(lubs).

 21d         Train  group of swimmers? (6)
{SCHOOL} – Double definition, the swimmers being fish (the aquatic animals this time!).

 24d         Set of tables featuring in fine store (4)
{NEST} – A set of tables which fit inside eachother is hidden in (featuring in) fine store.

 Quite a bit of blue today but my favourite is 5d.

The Quick crossword pun: {bar} + {sir} + {loner} = {Barcelona}

90 comments on “DT 26976

  1. 2* difficulty for me, 3* fun. I did like 5d. Thanks to Thursday Mr Ron and Pommers too.

    The Toughie is back page level difficulty, only taking me one minute more than the back page, so have a go and you will be able to say you solved a ‘toughie’ .

  2. 3*/3* for me. 5d was favourite. Shame no Ray T but still the best xword this week for me.

    Thanks to setter and Pommers for his lucid clues.


  3. Thanks to setter & to Pommers for the review.

    I don’t know what the weather is like in the Vega Baja but here in West Bridgford it’s decidedly backendish. Time to put the shorts and sandals at the back of the wardrobe and bring out the fleeces and warm boots methinks.

    1. Hi spindrift

      Weather here still sunny and high 20’s so shorts, T-shirt and sandals still the order of the day. Beginning to cool downa tad at night so I can tell that Autumn approaches :sad:

    2. Hi Spindrift. Had you originated in that part of the country, you would have used the expression “Goose Fairish”, rather than “Backendish”.Just thought I’d let you know. Hope the sciatica has cleared up. I suffered for years until the good folks at Park Hospital sorted it with surgery, you’ll know where that is.
      Good crossword today, despite numerous interruptions from Mrs B, who always seems to think I should be doing something more important; is there anything?
      Thanks Gazza and Mr Ron. Favourite was 26a. Now: is it pronounced Cow’s Lip, or Cowslip?
      The Sun has just come out in West Cumbria.

      1. Don’t know how it’s pronounced but I thought the entry in Wiki was amusing!

        The common name cowslip derives from the Old English cowshit meaning “cow dung”, probably because the plant was often found growing amongst the manure in cow pastures.

      2. I’ve heard the expression “Goos-Fairish” and didn’t have a clue what it meant until it was explained to me by the “southerners” down here. I’ve only attended the actual fair once when my sons were much younger – it’s not for the fainthearted and has become quite intimidating over the years so I am told. Rival gangs from the Meadows & St Anne’s congregate to exchange fisticuffs and worst…

        1. Quite right. I don’t think my children ever attended Goose Fair. I used to bribe them by offering what I would have spent on them in cash. The crime rate went through the roof during the Fair. I can well believe it has deteriorated to the levels you outline. Don’t get them up here, agricultural shows are about as far as we go.

  4. Thank you setter and Pommers for your review. Needed a hint to finish at 8a – but as soon as I saw your photo I didn’t need to read the hint !

    Took me a long time to get 12a 5d and 18d – but very enjoyable nontheless.

  5. I really enjoyed this puzzle. :D 5d last in but definitely my fav. clue. Agree totally with your assessment. Thanks Pommers and setter.

  6. This would have been a 2* if I had not wasted time trying to fit GOA into 17d (admittedly not a tourist site).
    Thanks to setter, and to pommers.

  7. Found this one tough, so would agree with rating, needed gizmos and 4 hints to solve.

    Thanks to Pommers, and to the setter.

  8. I needed to my electronic aid and a lots of luck today to complete today’s (with the exception of four clues). So thanks to Pommers and RayT for the hints and the crossword

    I still don’t understand 20 across. Isn’t the word criminal being used twice? Once to indicate the anagram and again for the definition?

    Still it was a lot better crossword for me than last Thursday’s Ray Ts so I enjoyed it. So it’s a 3* and 3* from me

        1. I reckon it does. If you cross out CRIMINAL as the anagram indicator and then all the fodder there’s nothing left! I’ll edit the hint to make it clearer.

              1. Agree about the word “initially” but my reading is that the criminal may initially have a bottle of naphtha but no longer has it when he’s used it to start a fire.

      1. Mary,

        I feel guilty using the electronic aid and my wife tells me I am cheating!

        But what is a man supposed to do when faced with such obscure clues?

        1. It’s not cheating Peter a little bit of perservation and help from electronic friends and books are what get me through most days, the way I see it if you know what the clue is asking you to do but you don’t know the word you are looking for then you have to have help to find it, that way you can move on, instead of being stuck :-) , there is no ‘cheating’ as such, it’s great if you can do without but if not, like me most days, you need a little help from your friends

  9. Hi pommers and thanks once again for blog, 3 star mostly for me today again, needed your help for 7a and 26a! In 20a isn’t it a case of ‘double duty’ again? ‘criminal’ being the definition and the anagram indicator? Sorry to labour the point when these come up but when on the ‘COW’ site double duty is not allowed, I would like to know what the general ruling is on this? Fav clue today 1d

    1. Hi Mary

      It’s not double duty as such. CRIMINAL isn’t the definition, it’s more specific than that. The definition is “Criminal is a sort to possess naphtha initially” specifically defining the sort of criminal who might well possess an inflammable liquid. See link in reply to Peter above.

  10. Best of the week so far,agee with ***/****,held up in the NE corner and did’nt know if 11a was tier or tear, thats the trouble with homophones,6d last in ,wanted to put an element ie Fe in a legal case to get backs,then the penny dropped ,5d favourite clue as pommers says-well concealed-thanks to the setter.

  11. Really liked this one. Favourites were 5d, 13d and 16d. I got the answer to 6d but not for the right reasons. I thought the fe in it was the element but then the remaining letters did not work out. ***/**** from me. Thanks to Pommers and the setter.

  12. The last three in made this *** territory for me today. Thanks to the setter and to pommers for the review

  13. Do we know whether this is RayT or not. I notice that Brial hasn’t made an appearance on the blog so I presume that it is. I’m having the usual trouble of getting into it with the anagrams, if they exist. very obscure. I will press on but with very little hope of finishing without heavy use of pommers good work

    1. Hi Collywobs
      Pretty sure this isn’t a RayT production – not much innuendo and no Queen (well we do have a Regal Character but that doesn’t count)!

      1. and some of the clues in the Quick crossword are very verbose – Ray only does one word clues in the Quick.

    2. Def not a Ray T, there are phrases which he abhors. Also I managed a corner so not a Ray T. B….y difficult though!

  14. I enjoyed this too – agree about the ***/**** rating although it was certainly at the top of 3* for difficulty for me. The top right corner took me AGES and I almost gave in and looked at hints for 8 and 14a and 5 and 6d but “perservated” for a bit longer (quite a big bit longer) and finally finished it.
    I would have found the unravelling of 8a much easier had I remembered that there was an “E” at the end of his name! :roll:
    Lots of good clues – 10, 15 and 23a and 1, 5, 9 and 21a.
    With thanks to Mr Ron and Pommers.

  15. Agree with the difficulty rating Pommers. Needed your hints to finish the last couple in so don’t consider I truly completed it today. I liked 5d very much. Thanks to you and the setter. As a newby to all this can someone tell me why a double definition is not allowed and who it is/was who set the rules?

    1. Hi Gillie

      Double definitions are fine, there’s one at 10a in this puzzle, it’s “double duty” which is frowned upon. Basically a word in a clue which is part of the wordplay should not also serve as the definition.
      A clue like “Change alert (5)” is a poor example. The word change indicates an anagram of ALERT is required to get the answer ALTER but change is also the definition.

      It’s not really rules, more like a set of principles, and setters often take a few liberties!

  16. The NE corner was the hard part for us too. 6d the last in. It was a very clever clue because it looked to be more complicated than it was. Struggled a bit with Messrs Howe and Fish, neither of whom being that well known in our bit of the world. Thanks Mr Ron and Pommers.

  17. My first posting sounds a bit pugnacious even to me – apologies; it wasn’t meant to … I asked purely out of interest.

      1. I sounds to me as if Gillie is probably mixing up a clue that is a double definition with a word in a clue doing double duty – there have been a fair few comments about that today because of 20a.

        1. Thank you Kath – exactly so. I did say I am a newby and I’m afraid I did get the words mixed up!

          1. Nothing wrong with getting things mixed up – everyone here is friendly, helpful and very tolerant. There are also lots of really knowledgeable and experienced crossword solvers. If you don’t understand something just ask – someone usually answers within minutes – particularly helpful at weekends when fewer hints, and no answers inside the brackets, are given. Keep going and good luck! :smile:

  18. Good fun crossword but only2* difficulty I think, thanks to the setter and to pommers for an entertaining review.

  19. Thank you pommers. I’ve still too much to learn to give it a rating like you pros but the ones I COULD do came in a flash (about 8 of them) and then the rest were from another planet for me. But I did manage to do more with the hints and only looked up three answers! But I’ll ‘perservate’ ! But would the person who mention Ch—-m-s and how close it is, please leave the room.

  20. Salut from Genève. I enjoyed this today even though I needed a good deal of help. Started with the downs, following CSue’s good advice, and spent a good while looking to see if there was a fish called ‘weatherman’, later had fun reading lists of past chancellors. I made life difficult by putting ‘voting paper’ at 9d and the wrong homophone at 11a. Also thought the second word at 15a was ‘home’. But despite all that confusion I did finish it, so I thank Mr Ron and Pommers for the fun. :-)

    1. You’d need to ask CS to be sure but I think the “start with the down clues” is mainly useful on Wednesdays, although Mary always starts not only with the downs but also with the last one!!

      1. Start with the Downs does only work on Wednesdays. However, Mary always starts with the last down clue as apparently she thinks it must be the last one the setter wrote and so he/she might have been a bit worn out by then and made it easier :) don’t think that works either!

  21. Another failure for me as has most of the last two weeks puzzles. 4 star for difficulty and 1 star for enjoyment. My copy of Chambers does not list seminal as key or vital, to be disloyal isn’t lacking faith, it means treacherous and why should a mental image be a fantasy rather than an idea. Very poor in my opinion. Still I least I managed a corner which is rather more than I normally would with the usual Thursday setter. Thx to Pommers for the explanations.

    1. Your views usually coincide with phercott Brian and he thoroughly enjoyed today’s toughie (which isn’t that tough). Why not go mad and try it?

      1. Oh and why is a fantasy a mental image?, not least because it is the third definition of fantasy in Chambers. Disloyla is also defined therein as unfaithful. Wonderful thing the dictionary!

  22. Well, finished at last with not inconsiderable help from Pommers for which thanks very much but I would give it 4* for difficulty. I agree with Brian about the dodgy clues and there were some others like 15a where ‘property’ = ‘quality’ and 20a where ‘criminal’ is the trigger for the anagram and the definition as well.

    1. Well done Collywobs

      Re 20a – see comments in reply to #8 and 9. It’s an all-in-one and CRIMINAL isn’t the definition and it isn’t doing double duty.

      Don’t see any problem with property = quality.

        1. Don’t worry, you’re not the only one who seems to struggle with the concept of an all-in-one. Have a look at the link in my reply to Peter – BD explains it very well IMHO.

  23. Enjoyed this one although I had trouble with 8a – couldn’t remember Geoffrey Howe!

    Best clues for me were 10a, 15a, 9d & 13d

    Weather in NL is now autumnal with grey skies and lots of rain.

  24. Pretty humdrum today. Was expecting a RayT so I am quite disappointed. This crossword was probably saved by the wonderful 5d but not many more aagh moments.

    1. Hi Una and a belated welcome from me!

      Not hopeless – if you got just one clue there is hope. It’s just a matter of practice and learning the code. Some of Mary’s perservation will help a lot!

  25. Thanks to the Mysteron & to Pommers for the review & hints. Couldn’t do this, only got 7 answers before resorting to the hints.

  26. Oh dear. I really struggled with this one. Did left hand side ok, but then fixated on “assassin” for 20a and couldn’t get out of the rut, even when I got 18d, so SE corner took a while. I never did get the Chancellor or, sadly, Mr Fish. Shame on me. I liked 17d, 3d and 15a. From being a day ahead of schedule earlier in the week I am now two days behind. Weather in New York was lovely today – not too hot on the football (soccer) pitch this afternoon, and a lovely end-of-the-summer atmosphere in Central Park. Thunder and lightning this evening, so I hope it clears up overnight. Thanks to setter and pommers. As usual an eclectic set of interesting photographs – I wonder if there is logic to which answers get illustrated?

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