DT 26978 (Hints) – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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DT 26978 (Hints)

Daily Telegraph Cryptic No 26978 (Hints)

Big Dave’s Crossword Club

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As is usual for the weekend prize crosswords, an assortment of clues, including some of the more difficult ones, have been selected and hints provided for them.

Don’t forget that you can give your assessment of the puzzle. Five stars if you thought it was great, one if you hated it, four, three or two if it was somewhere in between.

Could new readers please read the Welcome post before asking questions about the site.

Most of the terms used in these hints are explained in the Glossary and examples are available by clicking on the entry under “See also”.

A full review of this puzzle will be published after the closing date for submissions.


1a           Foremost of ladies always will take time to make purchase (8)
The initial letter (first) of Ladies followed by a word meaning always and a longish period of time – purchase in the sense of a mechanical advantage in raising or moving something

10a         New Testament taken from monastic rambling of Biblical character? (6)
An anagram (rambling) of MO(N)AS(T)IC without (taken from) N and T (New Testament)

12a         Basil with group outside, getting fizzy drink (7)
The kind of cookery ingredient of which basil is an example inside (with … outside) a group

16a         Vehicle taking wife and cad to Cumbrian town (11)
A charade of W(ife), a cad and a Cumbrian town

23a         Collapse caused by calcium meeting artery? (4,2)
Combine the chemical symbol for calcium with a blood vessel – surely some mistake as an artery carries oxygenated blood and the vessel required here carries oxygen-depleted blood

26a         Shopkeeper disinclined to get in ground rice (8)
A four-letter alternative spelling of a word meaning disinclined inside an anagram (ground) of RICE


1d           News of the French sports fixture (6)
The French feminine definite article followed by an international cricket or rugby fixture

2d           Val literally a hooligan! (6)
Split VAL as (1,2) and separate the two parts with a conjunction

7d           Make a hash of meal back in US picnic (8)
An anagram (make a hash) of MEAL BACK – this picnic last appeared, as a beach barbecue, one week ago!

12d         Splendid to be seen with Parisian here in Cornish river, on the surface (11)
A word meaning splendid followed by the French for here inside a Cornish river

17d         Letting outspoken general make notes (7)
The letting of property is derived from a homophone (outspoken) of a famous Confederate general followed by a verb meaning to make musical notes

20d         Grand being on top, and on Queen’s aircraft (6)
G(rand) followed by a removable cover for the top of a container and the usual abbreviation for Elizabeth Regina

The Crossword Club is now open.  Feel free to leave comments.

Please don’t put whole or partial answers or alternative clues in your comment, else they may be censored!

The Quick crossword pun: {dough} + {Finn} + {was} = {dauphinoise}

63 comments on “DT 26978 (Hints)

  1. good morning Dave and dare I say it, it is a beautiful sunny morning so far! I enjoyed this one today and didn’t need any hints, even so needing my usual ‘friends’ to find a word I didn’t know, never heard of 10a in the bible, needed your explaination for 2d and a minor quiblle on 23a, as this is not an artery!? I wouldn’t have known 7d if we hadn’t had it last week, and I’m not quite sure how 6d works, other than that two fav clues today 11a and 22a, a two star for me today, thanks once agin Dave

    1. As always you and I are 100% in agreement. For 6d think the usual abbreviation for caught, a shortening of the UK term for vacation and the usual crossword land term for a long time. 10a is just a derivative of the guy who parted the waters. As for 23a, bit sloppy. However, that’s not-picking because overall I loved this one.

      1. As always, I agree with both of you except that I think that the usual abbreviation for caught is ‘ct’ as in cricket. Now can either of you help me with 15d?
        It’s my penultimate one I am pleased to say so I will be able to watch the Rugby if you can help
        Got it! It was a Gnomy moment. Finished without aids not hints (thanks Dave all the same). Now I can watch the Rugby

        1. Collywobbles, “c” is standard usage in cricket scorecards for “caught”, eg:

          IT Botham c Marsh b Lillee 50

          1. A better example (from an English perspective) is from England v. Australia 1981 – Old Trafford.

            IT Botham c Marsh b Whitney 118

            1. That one was from Headingley the same summer. Beefy went on to do rather better in the second innings, IIRC.

  2. I thought the same as Mary re 23A,but I suppose the idea is there, otherwise no problems and finished in record time. Favourite has to be 24A, also liked 21A, 2, 6 and 12D

  3. My lectric Chambers give it as any blood vessel with the caveat loosely.

    Still enjoyed this puzzle, made it difficult for myself by entering letters in wrong order on one of the clues, but once that was sorted it all fell into place.

    Thanks to BD and the setter.

    1. There is a question mark at the end of 23a, which usually indicates something a little out of the ordinary, but in my book that doesn’t include a definition diametrically opposed to the one required.

  4. Sorry, forgot to thank setter and BD. Very many thanks for a fun puzzle and comprehensive helpful hints.

  5. Another “straight from the brainer” (i.e. no aids, references or hints used) for me in a RECORD personal best time!! Woo! Woo!

    Now what………?

        1. Look at the top right hand side of this web page. Under recent posts is NTSPPxxx. Click on that and then depending on whether you want to do it on line or on paper, just follow the instructions.

    1. Thank you, Mary, and I do hope that you’re nearly back to normal. The sun’s shining in Cheshire too, after overnight frost, and it’s still uncomfortably cool in the shade. I thought this puzzle was most enjoyable, although I too have an issue with 23a, and I was rather surprised to see 7d appear again after only a week.

  6. Lovely sunny day so it helps to have a Saturday puzzle that I completed in a world record time even for me – I didn’t think it was possible to solve a cryptic as quickly as that.

    Off out to enjoy the sun while it lasts – we are apparently going to get the weather equivalent of the Apocalypse tomorrow although that might just be the Michael Fish effect (you know, weather people not wanting to get a bad storm wrong again).

    I can recommend the NTSPP when it appears.

  7. Damn – have just written a comment and it’s disappeared into thin air! Try again!
    I enjoyed this very much and thought there were some good clues apart from 23a – I agree with all the others who are being picky about it. I didn’t have much trouble with any of this – 9a and 1d were my last ones – could see that 9a was an anagram but just couldn’t get it. As an occasional 13a I can assure everyone that I AM conscious of what I’m doing – it’s just that it doesn’t seem to make any sense at the time, to me or anyone else who’s there!! I thought that 2d was a bit Virgilius style.
    I liked lots of these – 9 and 16a and 2, 4, 6 and 15d.
    With thanks to Cephas (or Mr Ron – have lost track of Saturdays) and BD.
    Cold and sunny in Oxford. :smile: Muntjacs have had babies!! :sad: Now to try again to see if this comment will “go”.

      1. Thanks – can never remember which Saturday we’re on. Don’t know why – usually remember whether to expect a Ray T or not on Thursdays.

  8. Agree with everyone that this was a lovely easyish puzzle and a great way to start the weekend. Fave was 12d and 24a a good runner up. Like Cryptic Sue am preparing to batten down the hatches! Thanks to setter and BD.

  9. Enjoyed this one – in spite of lack of GK – not too bad on geography ! Managed to finish without a hint for the first time for a day or two. Important to get this finished early as under pressure from Mrs SW to get on with veg prep and things for visit of friends this evening.

    So thank you setter for making this possible ! and Big Dave for hints.

  10. I’m with crypticsue – probably my fastest ever solve of a Saturday puzzle.
    Many thanks to setter, and to BD.

      1. Same for me. Two easy puzzles in a row – at least I think so. I couldn’t start it last night because I was late back from an all day business trip yesterday, but just raced through it this morning. The only help I needed was to search for a list of rivers in Cornwall in 12d.

  11. Thanks to B D for the hints and to the setter,

    Eventually polished this off but had never heard of 26a and 9a took too long to get.

    5a first in and I liked 2d

  12. To Big Dave, thanks BD for the books they arrived today.
    cant find any hints on the blog though, Looks like i’ll have to solve them on my own I reckon it’ll take up to a year to get though this lot.
    Thanks again

    1. I got my books yesterday – do you really think that it’s only going to take you a year to do them all?!!

      1. Rough Guess Mary , will have to do the daily puzzle first of course, then if time allowes acrack at the ones in the book.
        the garden will soon get overgrown

            1. sorry Kath, although i dont comment much, i do read the blog and the comments most days, Kath and Mary comment a lot and they seem to be like sisters to me, thats my excuse ,not a good one but thats all i have.
              I know that Kath was not very well recently, or was that Mary? Ho hum

              1. It was Mary who hasn’t been very well recently – I’m fine! I think, judging by Mary’s comments for the last couple of weeks, that she’s probably feeling a bit better. :smile:

              1. Haven’t quite got round to doing any of the puzzles in the prize books yet – done back page puzzle and NTSPP today (and stacked big pile of wood and cut grass) – enough is enough!! I’m looking forward to trying some of the ones in the books. No hints though!! What spoilt brats this wonderful blog is turning us into!!

  13. I was really pleased with myself today, having completed this in record time with no help of any sort; until, that is, I saw that so many of you are just as clever, if not more so. ‘Teach me to be cocky! Favourite was 16a, for no better reason than Cumbria got a mention.
    Greetings all and for those of you south of here, I sincerely hope you come through the promised weather unharmed and no damage; we are told it shouldn’t be too bad here. Gorgeous today, I cooked breakfast on the barbie and Mrs B and I ate at the patio table, perhaps for the first time this year.
    Very enjoyable puzzle and an agreeable day so far. Thanks BD and setter.

  14. An enjoyable Saturday puzzle embodying a lot of good word play.
    I liked 16a as I spent a lot of time in Cumbria when employed by the UKAEA – we used to call it ukelele!

        1. I think that Mary really should have a go at the NTSPP – I also think that they vary in difficulty far more than the back page puzzles. Today’s would have been fine but . . . see comment “over there”! :oops:

    1. Poor you – hope that you feel better soon. Let’s hope that it’s not a cold – a grass seed up the nose perhaps?

  15. got all the answers i think… what has 4d got to do with fortifications? Or have I got something wrong.

  16. I live in South Africa and used to be quite proud of the fact that I could (usually) finish the daily cryptic crossword in our local newspaper in 15 minutes to a half hour…and then they replaced the “old” crossword with the Telegraph crossword a month or two ago! I have battled (armed with my Roget’s Thesaurus, sundry encyclopaedias etc) until I finally completed one, and after a few weeks of frustration, I started actually enjoying them! I completed No 26978 without Big Dave’s help (very chuffed, until I found how many others had also managed it!), then came to BD’s blog to check on my answers and to see what others thought about the puzzle.
    I got 2d but still don’t understand how *** means “literally”. Battled with 26a – it was the last clue to be completed by me. And I am enjoying BD’s blog.

    1. Welcome to the blog Kingsley

      The conjunction in 2d doesn’t mean “literally”, it’s simply the word VAL spelt out. I’ve seen better clues.

  17. Just done – record for me too. No time yesterday. Loved most of clues but so descriptive that could write answers straight in without thinking! All done in time it took to write the answers except 19d and 26a which took a few minutes longer. Thanks all.

  18. Hello all, Telegraph Crossword Editor here.
    I read the comments on vein/artery with interest.
    The clue seemed OK to me. I checked the definition of “vein” in Chambers, as we do with every definition.
    Chambers gives vein as “(loosely) any blood vessel”. The Oxford Dictionary of English gives vein as “(in general use) a blood vessel: ‘he felt the adrenalin course through his veins’.” So any vessel that carries blood (which includes an artery) is a vein, in the loose/general use of “vein” given by two dictionaries including our “bible”.
    The Cryptic Crossword is not about general knowledge or scientific definitions: it’s about the use of words. If two different uses of a word contradict one another (but both are supported by the dictionary), then both uses are fair game. The only decision then is whether it is fair — i.e. is that usage too obscure or unfamiliar to be solvable? In this instance, I think it’s solvable.
    So that was my thinking.
    However, I do think it’s better if our definitions are supported by more than just Chambers. In this instance, one can cite ODE as supporting Chambers, but not most other dictionaries, as far as I can see.
    It’s also preferable if solvers think our definitions are fair and accurate, rather than us having to say: “But Chambers says…”
    I’ll tweak the clue in the online archive, and for future publication. Thanks for your thoughts.


      1. Good point! The restraint that everyone shows here about revealing answers, particularly of prize puzzles, is always much appreciated.

        1. Can you let me know your tweaked clue by Thurs evening please so that I can include it in my review.

    1. My SOED has {the four-letter term to which you refer} as, “Orig., any blood vessel. Now usu., any of the thin-walled tubes forming part of the system of vessels by which (usu. deoxygenated) blood is conveyed back to the heart from all parts of the body”

      Notwithstanding the second definition in Chambers, it seems to me that {the four-letter term to which you refer} can refer to “a blood vessel” in a non-specific way, but I think that it would be wrong to use {it} to clue ARTERY.

      This clue used “artery” to clue {that four-letter term}. I think that that’s even worse. While “artery” can mean “A major thoroughfare that bears important traffic” (Chambers), in cardiovascular terms the two are as near to being opposites as one could imagine.

      Using “blood vessel” would have avoided the problem; perhaps something nice could have come from using “inner tube”.

  19. Hello people. I’ve been using this blog for a few weeks to help explain some of the answers we were not sure about. I should say that we are very amateur and we’ve only recently started finishing the crossword on a regular basis. We always start on Sunday mornings (our paper spends the Saturday in our tearoom), and this week we finished last night, which I think is a record for us.

    However, I’m still not sure I understand 21a. Would I be right in saying that the answer is a bird, and enthusiast gives the first three letters? But what has the final part got to do with a dog, other than the fact that dogs quite often like chasing it?

    1. Hi Matthew – welcome to the blog. Now that you’ve introduced yourself I hope we’ll get more comments from you.
      For 21a you’d be right. Think of ‘dog’ as a verb.

      1. Aaah! (Sorry it has taken me so long to get back to you by the way.)

        I shall be starting the current DT prize crossword tomorrow. I imagine most of you have already finished. Ah well.


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