DT 26988 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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DT 26988

Daily Telegraph Cryptic No 26988

Hints and tips by Falcon

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

Greetings from Ottawa where we have been enjoying some lovely autumn weather. The leaves are just beginning to turn. While they are unquestionably a gorgeous sight, I dread the thought of soon having to rake them.

In today’s offering, Ray T seems to have dialed down the difficulty knob a smidgen while boosting the naughtiness control a notch. You should certainly have no difficulty finding an entry point.

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 Bug rat planted in American agency (6)
{CICADA} — a warbling insect is created by a dishonourable chap placed inside an American spy agency

5a Struck and played gripping top of five iron (8)
{AFFECTED} — a term denoting portrayed a role on stage is placed around F(ive) and the symbol for the chemical element iron

9a ‘Offspring‘ providing accompaniment around finale (10)
{DESCENDANT} — a melody played or harmony sung above the main tune envelopes another word for finale

10a Faint, losing head, showing fever (4)
{AGUE} — a synonym for indistinct or imprecise with its initial letter deleted

11a A place, incredibly loaded, filled with gold (8)
{ELDORADO} — this semi all-in-one is an anagram (incredibly) of LOADED into which a gold tincture used in heraldry has been inserted

12a Girl‘s fib about backside (6)
{LASSIE} — it seems that this Scottish girl has but an untruth covering her derrière

13a Bone usually located near adductor initially (4)
{ULNA} — a bone of the forearm is formed from the initial letters of the four words in the middle of the clue

15a Sprinter valiantly bridging gap (8)
{INTERVAL} — the solution bridges the gap between the first two words of the clue

18a Comes into the house? (8)
{INHERITS} — a cryptic definition alluding to one’s situation upon the execution of a will

19a Top primate approaches cross (4)
{APEX} — a primate that is more apt to be found in a zoo than a church stands next to a St. Andrew’s cross

21a Dream when tart embraces redhead (6)
{ASPIRE} — a charade in which the first part is a short substitute for when and the second part is a type of pastry containing the head of R(ed)

23a Whole of Queen brought back into being (8)
{ENTIRETY} — the usual cipher for Her Majesty is reversed inside something that has a physical existence

25a Chick‘s tender holding Romeo (4)
{BIRD} — an offer around the letter represented by Romeo in radio communication

26a Fat reduction (10)
{SHORTENING} — double definition; a fat used in cooking and lessening the length

27a Imprisoned grass admits bloke died (8)
{REMANDED} — a type of marsh grass is planted around a charade of a male person and D(ied)

28a Ruddy woman’s covered in blubber! (6)
{CHERRY} — the apostrophe and S are important here; a feminine possessive pronoun is placed inside the sort of blubber that produces cascades of tears


2d International trade standard (5)
{IDEAL} — a charade of I(nternational) and a word meaning to take part in commercial trading

3d Branch or agency includes foreign city (9)
{ANCHORAGE} — a northern US city is hidden in (includes) the first three words of the clue

4d Queen with Henry without hot temper (6)
{ANNEAL} — temper is used in the sense of heating and cooling a material to make it easier to work; the solution is a charade of an early 18th century British queen and a nickname for Henry with its initial letter deleted {without H(ot)}

5d A drug can tailor bodies’ changes (8,7)
{ANABOLIC STEROID} — an anagram (changes) of CAN TAILOR BODIES

6d Heavyweight boxer typically ends in loss (8)
{FATALITY} — the solution is a word sum of (1) an adjective signifying of considerable portliness, (2) a US boxer who claimed to “float like a butterfly, sting like a bee” and (3) the first and last letters of T(ypicall)Y

7d Guys in leather pants displaying rear (5)
{CHAPS} — a double definition ; men and leather trousers worn by cowboys with nothing to cover the derrière; hey, ladies, this ones for you

8d Explain dodgy clue one time (9)
{ELUCIDATE} — could this be an all-in-one clue describing what we reviewers attempt to do? The solution is a charade of (1) an anagram (dodgy) of CLUE , (2) the Roman numeral for one and (3) time in the sense of a point or period which is marked by some event or some particular characteristic

14d Left in saddle, breaking runaway (9)
{LANDSLIDE} — L(eft) followed by an anagram (breaking) of IN SADDLE leads to an adjective often applied to an overwhelming election victory

16d Change order and put back on stove (9)
{REARRANGE} — this sounds painful but the setter seems to be directing us to place our derrière on the kitchen stove; okay, I realize she’s not on the stove and its probably called a cooker in Britain — but it was the best I could do

17d Went west round oceans becoming sick (8)
{DISEASED} — a word meaning ceased to exist is placed around a synonym for oceans; the expression “go west” does not exist (in the British sense) in North America (in fact, 19th century American newspaper editor Horace Greeley famously advised “Go West, young man, go West ” — to a place where opportunity beckoned). However, the North American term “go south” would seem to have a somewhat similar connotation to the British term “go west”.

20d Constant interference? (6)
{STATIC} — double definition; constant or immobile and noise on a radio channel

22d Donations raised supporting popular country (5)
{INDIA} — this Asian country is a reversal (raised in a down clue) of a synonym for assistance (monetary or otherwise) following (supporting in a down clue) the usual term for popular

24d Singer‘s time with right single in comeback (5)
{TENOR} — start with a charade of T(ime) and R(ight); then insert (in) a reversal (comeback) of a synonym for single

There are lots of fun clues in this puzzle, but for my favourites I have to opt for the trio of derrières (12a, 7d and 16d).

The Quick crossword pun: {seen} + {cause} + {whim} = {sink or swim}

83 comments on “DT 26988

  1. I thought this was almost perfect. Not as tough as normal Ray T but beautiful clues. 4d and 5d stood out amongst many smiles

    2*/4* for me.

    Thanks to both. A lovely start to a rare sunny day in Kent.

  2. Greetings in return from sunny East Kent where the leaves are turning too.

    I did have to spend a moment or two getting on Ray’s wavelength but would agree that it is 2.5 difficulty and 4* fun. Definitely a bit bottom orientated today! Love the pic for 7d. Thanks to Falcon and Ray too.

    The Shamus Toughie is tougher on the LH side than the right but I did manage to sort it out before official work start time.

    1. I see what you mean about the toughie LH side. I have half a dozen left, and they are all on that side.

  3. RayT at his very best with so many chuckles and great clueing. My favourites were 4 6 7 14 15 and 17 but how do you pick a winner from that lot. We have been spoiled this week with 2 puzzles from the master of innuendo. What’s the betting we don’t get any next week. Thanks Ray, you’ve made my day.

  4. Found this just pitched at the right level for me. Very, very enjoyable so therefore ***/****. Never heard definition of fat given as 26a, guess you’re never to old to learn. Thanx to Compiler and to Falcon.

    1. I’m amazed none of the cooks here have explained that shortening is a fat used to make pastry.

      I’m no cook, so here’s a song that you might know:

      Two little babies, lying in bed
      One was sick and the other ‘most dead
      Sent for the doctor and the doctor said
      “Give those children some shortnin’ bread.”

      Mama’s little baby loves shortnin’, shortnin’
      Mama’s little baby loves shortnin’ bread

                1. I guess that’s what will be going round and round in my head tonight when I’m trying to sleep!!

                2. Oh dear – I DID know it and now it’s not just going round in my head but I’m singing it too – poor husband!! :smile:

    2. My wife’s a qualified chef so I guess I should have ask her. Oh well, we live and learn.

  5. A nice puzzle for me today. It stretched my brain a bit but was certainly do-able. ***/**** for me. Thanks to Ray T and to Falcon for the review.

  6. A very enjoyable puzzle from RayT. Many thanks to him, and to Falcon for the review.
    Lots of excellent clues, favourite probably 28a for the chuckle it produced.
    2*/4* for me.

  7. Good morning Falcon from a sunny West Wales at the moment, I can actually say I thought some of the clues were great today, although I used your help to finish this (thank you) as it’s too nice a day to spend struggling over the last few, fav clues18a,12a, 15a, 23a, 7d, fav of all 5d I’m amazed to like so many in a RayT crossword :-)

      1. Try 4 star for me. I would love to know why everyone seems to enjoy Ray Ts puzzles so much. To me they are a complete mystery.

          1. . . . and funny!
            Brian, try reading the clues and appreciating all the innuendos before you even start to try to work out any of the answers. Then try to do some of the easier ones – there is nearly always a) an answer that uses the initial letters of the rest of the clue. b) something hidden in the middle. c) an anagram. I’m sure there are others that would get you into the puzzle. It’s now my mission to convert you!! Do, please, keep trying!!

  8. Thank you Ray T and Falcon. SE corner still to complete but have long journey to make to North Norfolk coast for a few days birdwatching. Will have to complete on the way !

  9. Is RayT slightly letting us off this Thursday?
    Perhaps, some very clever and crafty clues, though.
    Thanks RayT and Falcon.
    12a and 16d PWOAR!!

        1. …funny how the hidden word can be so obscure, sometimes.
          But that’s the compiler’s skill, I suppose. :)

          1. However much of a Ray T fan I may be I think that Virgilius is the king of hidden in the middle type answers. The ones that I usually miss, even more than most, are the ones that cross over two lines of the clue – if you see what I mean.

            1. thanks for replying yesterday. I fully appreciate working at home, did it myself for four hard years.

  10. I have to agree with most of the comments already posted – for me this was nudging a ***and a **** for enjoyment. Last in was 18a took a while for that last one. Couple of old chestnuts but a couple of very well hidden words. Regds to all.

  11. Maybe I’m being really thick, but I don’t understand “a nickname for Henry with its initial letter deleted {without H(ot)}” – i.e. ‘heal’ …. Can somebody please 8D?

      1. I was being really thick – I had spelt the Queen’s name without the ‘e’ … all makes perfect sense now. Many thanks

  12. In general agreement of 2.5* and 4*, excellent fare, not too hard for a thursday, apart from wanting to put leslie in for12a and a bit slow on 7d, all went to plan;.knew vaguely that 26a had something to do with pastry, better on the clues relating to alcohol!Thanks all.

      1. All four very well thanks all with green eyes,three jet black,one with white ‘socks’!Want to keep them all.

  13. :grin: Ray T at his fantastic best! It’s made me laugh the whole way through.
    I wasn’t expecting one of his today so didn’t even look for the trademarks – it was only when I got down to 12a that I did.
    I didn’t think that it was one of his trickier crosswords so agree with Falcon’s difficulty rating but I would give it 5* for enjoyment. My last two were 5a and 7d.
    I can’t pick any favourites today as I thought all the clues were brilliant.
    With thanks to Ray T and Falcon.

  14. Lovely Thursday treat took a while to get started then flowed nicely until tricky last few therefore ***/***

    1. I don’t imagine that he is often mistaken for Putin. More likely, the picture is what Putin sees when he looks in the mirror!

  15. Thanks to RayT for a very enjoyable crossword if a wee bitty on the easy side and thanks to Falcon for the excellent review.

  16. Great stuff! One of those that prove it doesn’t have to be hard to be fun!
    Favourite was 6d – “heavyweight boxer” indeed :lol:
    2*/4* from me I think.

    Many thanks to RayT and to Falcon for the fine review.

  17. Marginally better, managed 1/3 of today’s but the right hand side remains a complete mystery. I do dread Thursdays!

  18. Four days in a row of great puzzles. Thanks to Ray T for this one . Last one in was 18a and now I don’t know why and 4d was a new word for me. 2.5*/****. Thans to Falcon for the hints. :smile:

  19. I found that very hard and needed all the help that I could get from the blog. Thanks for all that help!

    Roll on tomorrow

  20. The usual concise, succinct (& naughty) clueing from RayT! (No more than 8 words in any clue, today – as usual).

    Compare and contrast today’s Toughie.

    My favourite was the only one I failed to solve: 18a – “inherits”.

    Is there any significance in the quotes in 9a ‘Offspring‘………?

      1. We’re all about the Offspring!
        Another fine RayT puzzle and I agree with the ratings.

        In particular I agree with Falcon’s summary and the phrase “You should certainly have no difficulty finding an entry point.” – As the actress said to the Bishop…

        Good work here today. My thanks to all!

      2. There ya go! Please don’t click if you are likely to be offended by images of dancing girls etc.

        1. thank you for replying to my question yesterday.I have just taken up cryptic crosswords recently ,not in my first flush of youth,just to do something i have always found difficult.I am more maths and science and not so much languages.So after work I settle right down and take a couple of hours to get ,so far , about half the clues ,unaided.Also i dont commute much,12 minutes by car.

      3. It’s very cool that they got a mention!

        I had hoped that that was what the clue meant, and I’m very pleased to find that it was.

    1. I found several possible explanations – all of them unlikely. The Offspring is an American punk rock band but that is a pretty obscure reference to find in a British crossword. Perhaps it is a reference to a BBC Radio 4 program hosted by John Peel that aired from 1995 to 1997 which was a talk show dealing with the relationship between parents and children (also pretty far-fetched). Equally unlikely, Offspring is the name of an Australian television drama series. Most likely, it is just a creation of Ray T’s imagination.

      1. I see that RayT has beat me to the punch. And it seems that I was too quick to dismiss my first possibility.

  21. After a pretty miserable day rewiring the boat’s data cables, all wire runs in the most inaccessible and awkward places, this came as welcome light relief.

    As always with RayT took a little time to tune in to his unique style, but once there it fell into place quite nicely.

    Thanks for the review, needed for parsing a few clues.

    Thanks to RayT for a funny and enjoyable puzzle.

  22. Many thanks to Falcon for the dissection, and to all who left a comment. I’m glad that most of you enjoyed it…


  23. Great crossword – the best of the week thus far. 6a was my favourite – very clever.

  24. What a treat. An extra RayT when we were not expecting one, and what a great one at that. Thanks RayT and Falcon.

  25. I agree with other commenters who found this easier than normal for a Thursday (thankfully), but here’s the odd thing, for me anyway. I don’t usually buy the Telegraph on Saturdays but I was visiting friends last weekend and tried the prize crossword and got all but one answer, so I can’t be completely useless. But today, with an easier than normal Thursday puzzle, there were six answers that I couldn’t see. I suppose it’s that I just can’t on with this setter.
    Least favourites were 4d (never heard of the answer) and 2d: the answer does not mean standard. Someone will probably point out that a dictionary says it does, but you try using the answer to mean standard in normal speech and see how far that gets you.
    Thanks, as ever, for the lovely blog.

    1. 6d was my favourite clue of the week so far !!!

      Wonderful misdirection as “Heavyweight boxer” goes together so well as a phrase it’s hard to mentally separate the two words – as Kath says – brilliant!!!

      Look at that, not an exclamation mark in sight – a cogent argument doesn’t need them!

      10.26pm edit: Well, there are now – see Kath’s reply below!

      1. Oh dear – read your comment after I’d written my reply to Grumpy Andrew – I’m afraid that I used lots of exclamation marks – could we have half each?

        1. Hi Kath
          Exclamation marks now shared -see above! Hope I didn’t take more than my fair portion :grin:

              1. FWIW I agree that “heavyweight boxer” was a lovely way to clue those two components, but “Heavyweight boxer typically ends in loss”, I think, takes the shine off that excellent opening.

                Having said that, the surface readings in this puzzle were very good, and I really enjoyed solving it, as usual for a Ray T.

                1. Agree, as usual, Qix.
                  As soon as I saw “heavyweight boxer” I thought ALI as he’s the usual and also a heavyweight. The TY was fairly clear but it took a bit for the penny to drop on the FAT bit – couldn’t see where it was coming from for a few seconds until pommette wrote it in and it became soooo obvious :grin:
                  The clue raised a big smile from me so it’s still top of my list, but then I ain’t no purist about this stuff!

  26. I notice I have been given a funny little blue icon. Not a bad resemblence actually.
    I got quite a few so I am improving. This blog helps although I only look at it when I have given up.
    great cryptic crossword.

      1. i had a look at that and then i got quite confused, supposing i wanted to change my “name” and so on.

    1. Blue icon is fine – mine is a grumpy looking cross-eyed purple one! I’ve never tried to change it – my IT skills just aren’t up to it! I agree about today’s crossword – everyone else is sick of me banging on about it but Ray T is my favourite compiler. :smile:

  27. &Thanks to Ray T and to Falcon for the review & hints. Great puzzle from Ray T, 3* for difficulty & 4 * for enjoyment. Started with 22a,finished with 7d. Favourites were 4d & 6d . Late blogging due to a fault mobile & the Epsom Beer Festival & horse races.!

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