DT 26981 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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DT 26981

Daily Telegraph Cryptic No 26981

Hints and tips by Big Dave

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BD Rating – Difficulty **Enjoyment ****

Scchua is otherwise engaged today, but will be tackling Giovanni on Friday. A puzzle that was a joy to review.

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    Biscuits and scrambled eggs in turn (6,4)
{GINGER NUTS} – an anagram (scrambled) of EGGS IN TURN

6a    Dessert‘s no good (4)
{DUFF} – a double definition

10a    Fish is no good in beer (5)
{ANGLE} – to fish as a verb: the abbreviation of No Good inside a beer

11a    Bribe a substitute? (9)
{SWEETENER} – a double definition: the second one is a substitute for sugar

12a    Winner has one in front of a queen (8)
{VICTORIA} – a charade of another word for a winner, I (one) and the A from the clue

13a    The best swot welcomes start of exams (5)
{CREAM} – a verb meaning to swot around (welcomes) the initial letter (start) of Exams

15a    Licence charge about right — act married! (7)
{FREEDOM} – a three-letter word for a charge or cost around R(ight) followed by a verb meaning to act and M(arried)

17a    People who can absorb information are parasites (7)
{SPONGES} – another double definition

19a    Goes to a restaurant in castle at Southport (4,3)
{EATS OUT} – hidden inside the clue

21a    Biscuit from Madeira, say, on vessel with clipped prow (7)
{OATCAKE} – the type of baked item of which Madeira is an example (say) preceded by a vessel without (clipped) its initial letter (prow)

22a    Misses sleep on board ship (5)
{SKIPS} – a word meaning sleep inside (on board) Crosswordland’s usual ship

24a    Quietly cut down by soldiers, having got ready (8)
{PREPARED} – the musical symbol for quietly followed by a verb meaning cut down itself preceded by some soldiers

27a    Place trap to upset this! (5-4)
{APPLE-CART} – an anagram (to upset) of PLACE TRAP: the definition is something that is proverbially upset – this type of clue is a semi-all-in-one as part of the clue is not included in the wordplay

28a    Cut around the base of horn and grind (5)
{GNASH} – a cut around the final letter (base) of horN: the definition is to grind one’s teeth

29a    Put back smooth tailless fish (4)
{EELS} – reverse (put back) an adjective meaning smooth without its final K (tailless)

30a    Hamlet, for example, gets mainly faithful worker to skive (4,6)
{PLAY TRUANT} – the kind of entertainment of which Hamlet is an example followed by most of an adjective meaning faithful and a worker insect


1d    Animal from Indian state east of Gujarat (4)
{GOAT} – an Indian state followed by the final (east / right) letter of GujaraT – this state is actually east of Gujarat, a nice touch

2d    Careless in short nightdress — not without love (9)
{NEGLIGENT] – a nightdress without its final letter (short) followed by N(O)T without the O (love)

3d    Authority with no power to wield (5)
{EXERT} – start with an authority on a given subject and drop the P(ower)

4d    Lad getting up on time with strange remedy (7)
{NOSTRUM} – reverse a male offspring (lad) and add T(ime) and an adjective meaning strange

5d    Flipping good service in the best digital coverage (7)
{TOECAPS} – reverse (flipping) a good service in tennis inside a word meaning the best: the definition is coverage for the digits in the feet

7d    Heartily pull and eat leg bones (5)
{ULNAE} – the middle letters (heartily) of four words in the clue

8d    The arsonist’s foe ties farmer in knots (4-6)
{FIRE-MASTER} – an anagram (in knots) of TIES FARMER

9d    Continue to resist project (5,3)
{STICK OUT} – a double definition: the second one means to protrude

14d    Pudding? Own cheeky alcoholic preparation (10)
{AFTERSHAVE} – a charade of another word for a pudding or dessert and a verb meaning to own: this alcoholic preparation is used on the cheeks

16d    Act on gold measure threshold (8)
{DOORSTEP} – a charade of a verb meaning to act, the heraldic term for gold and a measure or process

18d    A distraught mate held in unfinished prison camp in part of America (9)
{GUATEMALA} – the A from the clue and an anagram (distraught) of MATE inside (held in) most of (unfinished) a Soviet prison camp

20d    Betters suffer trapped wind here on board! (7)
{TOPSAIL} – a charade of verbs meaning betters and to suffer: the definition is something that traps the wind on a boat

21d    Brazenly finished those without stockings — lady gets disheartened (7)
{OVERTLY} – a four-letter word meaning finished followed by T(hose) without the hose (stockings) and L(ad)Y without her inner letters (gets disheartened)

23d    Drive leaves member in poor lie (5)
{IMPEL} – the usual politician (member) inside an anagram (poor) of LIE

25d    Irritation comes from linking of exchange rates (5)
{ANGER} – hidden (linking) inside the clue

26d    Bill‘s child (4)
{CHIT} – the final double definition – the second one has come up before so I hope you all remember it!

Another puzzle that does exactly what it should do – provide painless entertainment.

The Quick crossword pun: {coarse} + {ticks} + {odour} = {caustic soda}

56 comments on “DT 26981

  1. I struggled with this a little but nevertheless thoroughly enjoyed it. Lots of amusing clues but fav. definitely 14d. Thanks setter and BD

  2. Thoroughly enjoyable puzzle with lots of tasty nibbles to be found. About 3* difficulty for us. Favourites were 30a, 14d and 21d. Thanks Jay and BD.

  3. Beyond me how this very tricky puzzle can be a two star, it’s a least a 3/4 if only for 21d and 26d both of which were so cryptic as to be untrue. How are sponges parasites? Spongers are parasites. Managed to finish with help but with very little enjoyment.

        1. Sorry, but the hardest clue for me, and the last in, was the plum duff – because the word is not often seen on its own. Most of the rest were of the kind where you read the clue and insert the answer. Beware if I do give 4 stars to a puzzle!

          1. Point taken Dave. I had to refer to your hints for Plum Duff and many others. Some of the clues were very difficult for me to understand. I did not think that this was a very good crossword and I look forward to tomorrows’ with hope

              1. I do hope so! Who will be doing the blog? I’m wondering if it could be Gazza as everything seems a bit upside down this week – Ray T plus Gazza could prove to be a lethal/interesting combination with lots of picture possibilities! :grin:

                    1. It’s a bit late now, but Pommers did leave a reminder!

                      DT 26977

                      I tried to tell you last night but unfortunately my broadband link went down at the critical moment!

  4. I presume this was by Jay today. I found this a little trickier than normal for a Wednesday, but great fun. 3*/4* from me.
    Thanks to setter, and to BD.

  5. The hateful insomnia meant I had finished this by 5am – thank goodness for the electronic edition in the dark hours.

    At the time I found it quite tough but looking back now It doesn’t seem too hard. Anyway! I managed it without clues (I was wondering where Schuua was today as he has usually posted by then) but did need to consort to the BRB so 3*/4* for me with 1a and 14d my favourites out of many clever clues.

    I enjoyed this more than I normally enjoy Jay’s puzzles. I assume this was one of his. There was a bit less letter substitution than usual i thought.

    Thanks to both.


  6. Lots of good clues here and fun to do — thanks to setter and BD. Hard to pick a favourite, however I think 21D deserves a mention along with 7D

  7. Found today’s offering so much easier than yesterday, breezed through with only scant reference to my Bradford’s
    ( I have just even successfully completed the Toughie. ) What a difference a day makes.
    Many thanks to BD and the setter.

  8. I have to confess that, although I thought this was a good puzzle and enjoyed it very much, I’ve found some of it quite difficult so at least a 3* for me today and at least a 4* for enjoyment.
    I didn’t help myself at all by putting “stand out” for 9d which made 13a virtually impossible until I realised what I’d done. I couldn’t do 21a for ages – I know that Madeira is a kind of wine, an island and a river – ALWAYS forget that it’s a cake as well! 17a and 5 and 18d also caused a bit of grief for me – not my best day really!
    Lots of great clues – 1 and 6a and 1, 14, 21 and 26d. My favourite was 7d – brilliant but took for ever!
    With thanks to Jay and BD.

  9. I’m with Jezza on the 3/4 rating – there were a few to trip me up but a great puzzle to finish. Thanks to Jay and to BD

  10. I was so excited to finish yesterday’s totally without help or hints, I thought I’d cracked it…..until today’s. Back to the beginner’s slope.
    I like 30a and 16d – I could so those two easily!! Struggled alot though.
    Thank you setter and especially BD for loads of help.

  11. Very enjoyable but a bit tricky today. Best clue for me was 7d closely followed by 5d and 21d. Rate it as ***/****
    Thanx to Compiler and to BD for his hints which although I didn’t need today I always read for verification.

  12. Thought it was quite difficult today, score it ***/*****- very enjoyable but took longer than usual.Did’nt help when i spelt 30a wrongly-or rather misinterpreted the clue as i had all of true and the nt from most of the worker to give ‘truent’-which messed up 18d with an e at the end instead of a ! I also tried to solve 18d using ‘stalag’ and ‘states’ as part of America.Never mind,on with the motley.Thanks Dave for the ‘heartily’bit of 7d, as i could’nt quite get the wordplay.

  13. Definitely 2*/4* for me. It didn’t even require one to start with the Downs. Thanks to Jay for a lovely straightforward start to my Wednesday solving and to BD for the hints. I particularly liked 6a as Mr CS and I were only discuss the plum version of this the other day (he was remembering school dinners back in the dark ages).

    The Toughie has a nice gettable theme but definitely fits into the Toughie description.

      1. A steamed pudding with dried fruit and spices – not quite a Christmas pudding, but that sort of thing. I am probably going to regret typing this but similar to a Spotted Dick too. A cheap way of filling up the family as it has a suety ‘dough’ and dried fruit and spices mixed in and then steamed.

            1. My no longer here sadly Grandma made the best ever, twenty years later with closed eyes I can still taste it… and she made it on a baby belling!!

  14. Good afternoon Dave, I found this a little easier than yesterday but still needed your help to explain a few, eg 6a, what kind of dessert is that? never heard of it, a three star for me today, with help from my usual friends and yourself needed, haveing ‘repel’ at 23d didn’t help that corner!
    Fav clues today 19a and 26d
    Thanks Dave for hints and help

  15. Managed to finish without hints – but took me a long time. Thanks to setter and BD for your review. Read all the comments yesterday about difficulty – concluding that it is after all subjective and a ** rating by the experts means a lot more than that for me ! I think the higher handicap solvers like me need a conversion table – perhaps a Cryptic Sue ** is **** for me ! Enjoyed the hard work today – once a few answers went in, it started to make sense, but found it difficult to get going.

  16. Proper crossword, as crosswords ought to be. No gimmicks, no themes, no ludicrous (compiler-has-had-electronic-aid) words No nonsense. Just a nice little challenge

  17. Very enjoyable offering from Jay today. Completed over a cup of coffee (large cup – sipped very slowly). Would have been **/**** but I seem to have got one wrong. I thought 3d was ELECT (authority with no power – as in President Elect for instance) – but then elect to mean the same as wield was always a bit of a stretch. So it ended ***/****. Thanks to BD for sorting out 3d for me.

  18. Disturbed night sleep did not help today. Nothing contentious and nothing too difficult but I thought it was a little trickier in places than yesterday. Last in was 29a – the answer was fairly obvious but the sleek wordplay took a bit of figuring out! *** and *** from me. Regards to all

  19. Really enjoyed this and must confess I did rattle it off quite quickly. Last in was 5d which was also my favourite. Very enjoyable distraction from the daily commute.

  20. Couple of picture opportunities missed Big Dave – negligee with no stockings,etc. Oh, I think you also missed a star off your difficulty rating. Glad I’m not the only one to think so. Very enjoyable though, so tvm all.

  21. Left with six to get after my usual time, eventually got but far too much staring at!!
    So a 3* for me.
    Good solid clues though.
    Thanks setter and BD

    1. 12a was part of another clue with something that is a bit like X – being a bit cryptic here as I think it just could have been one of the prize crosswords at the weekend – have no intention of going to the naughty corner at this stage in the week – everyone will have gone and all the cake will have been eaten!!

  22. Hi Dave, I was amused to see your comment about “read the clue and see the answer” today. That is usually my situation re Monday offerings. Today for me it was “read the clue, think ?, think again, think ??, look at your hint, and think ???”. Clearly I’m on a very different wavelength today, could not get anywhere, don’t know why. Anyway many thanks to setter and yourself.

  23. Thanks to the setter & to Big Dave for the review & hints. Found this very difficult, was 11 short, got 3 from the hints & had to look up 8. Favourites were 30a & 1&20d.

  24. Really cross with myself today so much 25 and 28ing of teeth. A really good puzzle with lots of tasty clues, but gave up with 15 to go. Thanks to BD who helped put me back in a good mood as a put the answers in and realised my silly mistakes. Clearly I have to practice Jay’s more. As usual I also really enjoy reading everyone’s blogs. There seem to be some names I don’t recognise, so maybe this puzzle provoked more interest than usual. Feeling hungry now after all the mouthwatering across answers – including 12 and 22, in case you hadn’t noticed (but not so much 29a).

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