DT 26263 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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DT 26263

Daily Telegraph Cryptic No 26263

Hints and tips by Tilsit

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BD Rating – Difficulty **Enjoyment **

A bit of a curate’s egg today with a couple of interesting and challenging clues, plus a number of very hackneyed ones: 9a, 11a, 22a, 1D, 20d and 24d. As I’ve said before, there will be some of you who have never seen these before, but 11 across was one of the first clues I ever solved in a crossword at some tender age.

I also wasn’t keen on a couple of clues, as you’ll see in the narrative. Overall I thought it rather easy for a Thursday and probably just about suitable for the Telegraph daily.

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    Club overhauls counselling and welfare, for example (6,8)
{SOCIAL SERVICES} We start with a word sum today. A type of club (drinking, not the bash over the head or golf) + a word meaning overhauls, maintains (as in a car). This gives you the Local Authority Department that looks after welfare of people.

9a    Grandmother avid about cotton material (7)
{NANKEEN} Another Word sum, and one of the hackneyed clues I spoke about. A word for your Grandmother and add to it another meaning for the word “avid”. This will give you a fabric not seen very much nowadays.

10a    Large plant around a cold lake produces molasses (7)
{TREACLE} A word for a large plant takes A C L (a cold lake) inside, and this gives you a thick black syrupy liquid that your Grandmother probably put on your sandwiches (once the dripping had run out!)

11a    Club for the press (4)
{IRON} A double definition. A word meaning club, not the type in 1 ac or the weapon) but a name for one found on the golfing tee. It also means something to help smooth and press your clothes.

12a    Tries again Alan’s dummy runs (10)
{REHEARSALS} If you do something twice you “redo” it. And if you try a case in court twice you could be said to do this. Add an abbreviation for Alan’s – and you get a word meaning dry runs.

14a    Tittle-tattle concerning white china holiday mementos I personally originate (6)
{GOSSIP} A rather clunky clue which most of you will get from the definition alone and look up the indicator. Otherwise you would need to know a word for pottery souvenirs with town crests on that originated in Stoke on Trent and add to it I and P (personally originate).

15a    Alien park officer found on the way (8)
{STRANGER} One of those “on” clues where A is stuck on to B. To get the definition, think of Yogi Bear’s enemy and put it on the end of an abbreviation for a type of way. This will give a word meaning foreigner or an alien.

17a    Legend in fancy sewing (8)
{NEEDLING} An anagram (indicated by “fancy”) of LEGEND IN gives a word meaning sewing.

18a    ‘L’ is for ‘hirer’ (6)
{LETTER} One of those clues you’ll love or hate. Clever or too clever for its own good. L is one of these and it also means someone who hires or rents a house, for example.

21a    Sailor with two other men seen on the road (10)
{TARMACADAM} A word sum. A name for a sailor + two names for men (one of which is a nickname for a Scotsman, rather than an actual name). Added together these will give you the name for a road surface.

22a    Contacted the fruit centre (4)
{RANG} Another one I have seen many times before, I think Rufus may have used this first. It’s a bit of an indirect indicator. A word meaning contacted is the centre part of a word for a type of fruit. As an example Talk about fruit centre (3) would lead to RAP, i.e. gRAPe.

24a    Repeatedly imitating a mountain nymph, in German (7)
{ECHOING} Not keen on this clue. The definition refers to a trait of the actual mountain nymph, so it isn’t really different to the indicator. You need a mountain nymph who was named after “repeatedly imitating” and add to it IN G (If you look in Chambers how G comes to mean German – it is rather a nasty connotation) for IN GERMAN.

25a    I hoot as a result of a sneeze (7)
{ATISHOO} An anagram (which is probably indicated by the definition) of I HOOT AS gives the noise you make when you sternutate.

26a    Pasta pieces tipped over on a dress (9,5)
{SPAGHETTI STRAP} I doubled my fashion knowledge today with this clue for presumably something found on a lady’s dress. A type of pasta + a word for pieces reversed gives you what I assume to be what holds it up.


1d    Airing one’s notes (7)
{SINGING} A cryptic definition, much used in other puzzles, for the way you make music vocally.

2d    Skill of well-informed person somehow crushes opinions (15)
{CONNOISSEURSHIP} An anagram (indicated by somehow) of CRUSHES OPINION gives a word relating to the knowledge held by a person.

3d    Make good a wager (4)
{ABET} Probably one of the oldest clues in the book. A + word for wager = a word meaning help.

4d    Criminal started shooting at target area (6)
{SINNER} A word for a criminal is found by taking S (started Shooting) and adding a word meaning a part of an archery target.

5d    Withdrawals from the refuges (8)
{RETREATS} Double definition. A word meaning withdrawals in the sense of going backwards and one which means places of refuge where monks and hermits go.

6d    Special ship that cuts through formalities! (10)
{ICEBREAKER} I don’t understand why the clue has an exclamation mark. Why would a ship “cut through formalities”? Again it’s a double definition. A specific type of ship found in polar regions also can mean something used to get things going at a meeting or party.

7d    Conversation guide for tutor from abroad, perhaps (8,7)
{EXCHANGE TEACHER} A word for a dialogue or conversation plus a word meaning a guide gives a word given to a temporary educator who comes from abroad to instruct for a while.

8d    Crafty person’s noisy domestic heater (6)
{GEYSER} Dislike these sorts of clue intensely. The word “noisy” is used to indicate a homophone, but which half of the clue does it refer to. By putting it in the centre, it could mean either and means you have to solve crossing letters to get the right answer. Not far, say I. In fact, I would say it’s 13 down!

13d    Advising wrongly on badly inlaid gems (10)
{MISLEADING} An anagram (indicated by “badly”) of INLAID GEMS gives a word meaning informing or advising wrongly.

16d    Extricate from fashionable National maze (8)
{UNTANGLE} Another word sum. U = fashionable, as in “U or non-U” + N (for national) + a word meaning maze = a word meaning extricate from a complex situation.

17d         Lower region above the clouds to the North (6)
{NETHER} A word meaning lower comes from the region above the clouds preceded by N(orth)

19d         Actively urge pro to join up again (7)
{REGROUP} An anagram (actively) of URGE PRO means to reassemble into organized teams

20d         Explosively blast a rock (6)
{BASALT} An anagram (explosively) of BLAST A gives a rock

23d         X (4)
{KISS} What this represents on a love letter

21 comments on “DT 26263

  1. Hi Tilsit and thanks for the blog, personally I found it much harder than a 2* and though lots of the clues may be well known to more experienced setters, it was the first time I had come across many of them, I don’t think I have come across 9a since starting to do cryptics a year ago nor 22a, though I managed to finish the crossword without the blog I did find it quite hard going, fav clues 1a, 6d as for 18a ‘L’ for letter surely a letter is not a ‘hirer’ ??

  2. I must agree with Tilsit on the chestnuttyness of some of the clues but on the whole it was OK.No real favourites for me.
    Thanks Tilsit and our setter.

  3. I did not enjoy this today and didn’t find any redeeming clues. Nor do I agree with your 2* Tilsit – obviously if they are repeat clues then it makes it easier but wasn’t impressed with many.

    Mary – I missed wishing you Happy BlogDay yesterday – you have come a long way and are ahead of lots of us.

    I work on the basis if I enjoy it then it is worth it. This was a real let down – roll on tomorrow.

  4. Not a nice one today, nothing to make you smile and def one of two halves. The left hand side is OK but the right hand side made little sense to me. Didn’t enjoy at all. :-(

  5. Thanks Tilsit for the review, I agree with the star markings on the whole, maybe a 3* for enjoyment.

  6. I’m with Mary: hmm…
    I did enjoy 21a, but not a lot else. I’m in the habit of starting at the end and working back and it could’ve gone horribly wrong as I initially wanted to put ‘spot’ for 23d. And although it’s not the fault of the setter I’ve never heard of a 7d. Has anyone else?

    1. When I was at school my mum used to take in a couple of exchange teachers (just in University) from France as part of their degree course requirements – they used to take language labs around the local schools

      1. Thinking about it now I seem to recall that one of my housemates may have spent time in France doing the same thing. I knew I should’ve paid more attention at school!

  7. Definately a 3.5* in my book – took a tad to get going (first in 20d) and I missed 24a (poor). Liked 12a. Got the brain cells zipping did this one. Thanks to the mystery setter.

  8. Harder that 2* but not helped by the fact I had the 1st word of 7d wrong for a while. Took me far to long to get it once I knew it was wrong. 21a good fun.

  9. It took a while for me to get into my stride on this one. Looking back I cannot see why! Like others, I thought that there were a mixture of good and not so good clues.

    Many thanks to the setter and to Tilsit for the notes – hopefully recovered fully from his Ninja bridge sessions.

  10. Busy day, busy evening, only glanced at this briefly early this morning. Reading the blog, it doesn’t look as if I missed much.

    18a strikes me as odd. Surely a letter offers what is for hire, which is taken by a hirer. Or is that not a cryptic view?

  11. I also thought that it was harder than a 2* – for me it was enjoyable. Probably about the best standard – some took me a while but, in general, the kind of crossword that I’m very happy with. I’ve never heard of the “white china holiday mementos” that make up the first 4 letters of 14a but, since that was clearly what the answer was going to be, I looked it up and therefore learnt another new word – always good! Favourite clues for me were 21a, 2 and 6d but the best of all was 26a – I suspect that this is an American term for a dress with very thin shoulder straps although I stand to be corrected!

  12. Got about half of this and did not enjoy it much.

    25a amused me, maybe because I did the crossword in the doctor’s waiting room.

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