DT 26549 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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DT 26549

Daily Telegraph Cryptic No 26549

Hints and tips by pommers

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

Hello from the Vega Baja on a beautiful sunny morning. At least the weather here has resumed normal service over the last few days!

Maybe it’s just me but I think Jay has raised the bar a little on this one and based on my solving time I’ve had to give it 4* for difficulty. (I really must stop staying up late to solve the crossword. It doesn’t come online until 0100CEST and my brain isn’t really in gear at that time of the morning! )
A nice mix of clues with a couple of obscure words and phrases to get you thinking.

As usual my favourites are highlighted 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.


1a. Negative response to request for lift? (6,4)
{THUMBS DOWN} – A negative response that a Roman gladiator would not have wanted to see is also a colloquial term for how a hitch-hiker gets his next ride.

6a. Employed in religious education (4)
{USED} – A common crosswordland word for employed is hidden in (in) religious education.

9a. Unfortunate person becoming strange when regressed (5)
{SADDO} – A slang term for a socially inadequate person, a nerd or loser, when reversed (regressed) and split (3,2) gives a word meaning strange or unusual followed by a synonym for when.  

10a. Doctor left nothing on board ship for cause of malaria (9)
{MOSQUITOS} – Definition is ‘cause of malaria’ and what we want is the insects that carry the disease.  Start with one of the usual abbreviations for doctor followed by SS for ship, inside (on board) the SS place a word meaning left or departed and O (nothing). This clue was easier to solve than write a hint for and one of these little buggers bit me last night but at least the ones round here don’t carry malaria!

12a. Gentleman comes back with excessive love for food from Italy (7)
{RISOTTO} – An Italian rice dish is made up of how you might address a gentleman or knight of the realm reversed (comes back), an abbreviation for a slang phrase for excessive and O (love).

13a. Broadcaster needing cover for private call via internet (5)
{SKYPE} – A piece of software that allows free video calls via the internet is a charade of a satellite broadcaster and PE (cover for PrivatE). I like this clue because pommette uses it a lot which keeps the phone bill down!

15a. Emotional upsets caused by university degrees on art design (7)
{TRAUMAS} – An anagram (design) of ART followed by the usual abbreviations for University and some degrees gives you a word for emotional upsets.

17a. Work hard for a victory in track (7)
{TRAVAIL} – A word meaning work hard or toil is formed by placing A and V(ictory) inside a word for track, in the sense of follow.

19a. Birds that could be good for one date amongst friends in America (7)
{BUDGIES} – These birds, of Australian origin, are an American slang term for friends with one of the D’s changed to a G (Good for one Date)

21a. Bug Moscow HQ with new leader in place (7)
{GREMLIN} – Take the place in Moscow where the government sits and change the first letter (new leader) to get a word for an imaginary imp often said to be responsible for malfunctions in machinery. I think we have a few of these in our house!
ARVE Error: need id and provider

22a. Endless tennis outside centre court causes boredom (5)
{ENNUI} – Definition is boredom. Take tENNIs (endless tennis) and place it around (outside) the centre letter of coUrt.

24a. Piggy in the middle? (4,3)
{ROAD HOG} – This is the sort of piggy you might find driving along in the middle of the street.

27a. Next to go in leads off (9)
{ALONGSIDE} – A word meaning next to, especially in a nautical sense, is an anagram (off) of GO IN LEADS.

28a. Express’s topless spread (5)
{UTTER} –  A sort of spread which you may put on your bread without its first letter (topless) leaves a word meaning to express or speak.

29a. Language of poetry that has no origin (4)
{ERSE} – An alternative name for any Gaelic language, especially Irish, is a word for poetry without its first letter. I thought the construction of this is a bit too similar to the previous clue.

30a. Doctor and vet sure to have exciting times (10)
{ADVENTURES} – These exciting times are an anagram (doctor) of AND VET SURE.


1d.  It’s a load of rubbish, mate! (4)
{TOSH} – A double definition. Slang terms for ‘load of rubbish’ and ‘ mate’.

2d. Sneaky subordinate worker (9)
{UNDERHAND} – A word meaning sneaky is a charade of a word for subordinate or lower (5) and one of the usual crosswordland workers, not an ant this time!

3d. Floats for purchases to cover first of operations (5)
{BUOYS} – These floats, used to mark harbour entrances, are a synonym for purchases placed around (to cover) O (first of Operations).

4d. Puts down a bit of unease to medicine being upped (7)
{DEMOTES} – This word for put down, to a lower rank perhaps, is hidden in (bit of) uneaSE TO MEDicine but it’s backwards (being upped in a down clue).

5d. Clean bowled? A complete failure (7)
{WASHOUT} – This complete failure is a charade of a word meaning to clean or launder and how you might describe a batsman who has just been bowled.

7d. Remain to eat a dish from the East (5)
{SATAY} – This dish from the Far East involving skewered pieces of meat and often a peanut sauce is a word for remain placed around (to eat) A.  Neat surface on this one I think and one of my favourites, as indeed is the dish!

8d. Regularly admit taking turn driving off (10)
{DISPELLING} – A word meaning driving off or dispersing is formed from the alternate letters (regularly) of aDmIt followed by a word meaning taking your turn or giving someone else a break.

11d. Raise leg and steal show (7)
{UPSTAGE} – A word for raise, or make higher, followed by a leg or phase gives a word meaning to steal the show.

14d. Horse’s breaking down, lame at best (10)
{STABLEMATE} – An anagram (breaking down) of LAME AT BEST is a word a horse might use to describe the horse in the adjacent box.

16d. Posting that’s trouble in China (7)
{MAILING} – A word for trouble or ill (3) placed inside a famous Chinese dynasty associated with fine porcelain (4) gives a word for posting, as in posting a letter.

18d. A strange girl a lot find a dangerous creature (9)
{ALLIGATOR} – A, followed by an anagram (strange) of GIRL A LOT gives a dangerous creature found in the Everglades in Florida.

20d. Arranged to capture one, having made a quick attack (7)
{SORTIED} – A word for arranged, that I haven’t done to a pile of paperwork in our lounge, with I inserted (to capture one) gives a word meaning ‘having made an attack’, often associated with cavalry. This is another one that’s easier to solve than to hint, I wish Jay would stop doing this to me!

21d. Clearing pay rise finally, gets an eager look (4,3)
{GLAD EYE} – Take a shady clearing in a wood or forest and add the final letters of paY risE and split the result (4,3) to get a colloquial phrase for an eager or appreciative look.

23d. Chefs have name for cold corners (5)
{NOOKS} – A substitution clue. Take a word for chefs and change the C (cold) to an N (name) to get a word for corners or niches (often associated with crannies).

25d. Frequent search covers area (5)
{HAUNT} – Frequent is a verb in this clue. Take a word meaning to search or track down and insert (covers) a letter A(rea).

26d. Blade with which king made knight arise? (4)
{KRIS} – an asymmetrical dagger indigenous to Indonesia is an abbreviation for King followed by the form of address for a Knight reversed (arise in a down clue).

No overall favourite but if pushed I think I’d have to go for 23d for its smooth surface reading.

The Quick crossword pun: {eye} + {fault} + {our} = {Eiffel Tower}

48 comments on “DT 26549

  1. I didnt find this much harder than usual looking at the solving time. As ever with Jay, a fine puzzle.
    My favourite was 25d for the surface reading and simplicity.
    Thanks to pommers and to Jay. If the technical director is unavailable I may be able to do the colouring in!

    1. Gnomey – many thanks for your offer of help. I really am going to have to teach him how to do it!

  2. One of Jay’s more gentle puzzles, but excellent as always. The only clue I did not like was 8d – or at least the last 8 letters of it.
    Thanks to Jay, and to Pommers.

    1. I agree – the Spelling section ran out for me after Spell and trying to fit “ing” wasn’t in the clue.
      Also I thought that “Horse’s” wasn’t enough for a stablemate even though the anagram clue had to be this.

      My favourite was 24a for its humour and succinctness.

  3. Another quality puzzle from Jay with some smiles on the way. Favourite clues were 24a/25d.

    I did not find this any more tricky than usual but I did this one after warming up on the Guardian and Independent crosswords so perhaps my brain was in gear – though I think it then disengaged when I turned to the Toughie!!

    Many thanks to Jay for the crossword and Pommers for the usual fine review.

  4. Can’t say I agree with the 4* for difficulty. I found this fairly easy with only two or three clues needing some serious thinking about/working out. Liked 10A and 11A (always like ‘techno’ answers). 7D is probably my favourite since I really enjoyed these during my time in Saudi and Thailand.

    Think you missed a good chance for a picture for 21A Pommers – excellent movie!

    1. Hi Skempie
      As I said in the intro I really must stop doing the puzzle in the middle of the night – they are probably easier in the morning!
      Pictures going in with a video for 21a!

      1. If you ant a real challenge, leave the toughie until about 11 o’clock at night after a good dinner and the best part of a bottle of wine. I find I can’t even read what I wrote in the previous evening !!

  5. 24a – a nice cryptic. Last 2 for me were 1d/9a – scraping the barrel with these ‘words’ I felt. Good stuff otherwise. Thanks to both as always.

    1. I agree with you there. They were almost the last words I put in and I didn’t like either of them.

    2. It’s encouraging when you’ve found a puzzle quite hard going to see it awarded four stars — so thank you Pommers, and also for the analysis. I needed several attempts to finish this, and the top left corner stumped me completely for some time. It took me ages to work out 1a, and I really disliked 1d and 9a which were last in. Apart from that I found it a really good challenge, so thanks to Jay also. :-)

    3. Ditto everything Beangrinder (great username!) said – for all the clues mentioned. Only difference for me was that I got the ‘dodgy’ words early on and it was the bottom right corner that I finished with. I’d go 2* for difficulty, but I finished work early today and that always helps.

      Thanks to Jay and Pommers.


  6. Really enjoyed this one, agree with Pommers selection of favourites. (As Prolixic in #3 states the “other one” to me at least is a real struggle)

  7. I found this one slightly easier than the average Jay but no less enjoyable for that. I thought the inadvertness topicality of 13a very good. No special favourites. Thanks to Jay and Pommers.

    As Prolixic and Andy say, the ‘other’ one is tough to fathom but didn’t take me that long once I got on the wavelength.

  8. I certainly thought this was easier than normal. First run through yielded all but 9 answers, and all complete within xx mins. On that basis, I would rate it as probably 1* or 2* for difficulty. However, I wasn’t trying to solve it in the small hours!
    Thanks to setter and to Pommers.

    1. The convention is that we don’t put solving times – just say quicker than normal or longer than normal.

  9. For the first time in ages I just started at the top left and just worked down to the bottom right, with 26d last in. This was a nice, fair puzzle, but only 2* difficulty, IMHO. Perhaps Pommers should heed the advice above and get a good night’s sleep before blogging?
    Cheers to you both, and of course Jay.

  10. My first 4* solve without using hints – wouldn’t have heard of 26d but for regular flights on a certain Southeast Asian airline! Thanks to setter and reviewer.

  11. Certainly not a 4* for me, I found more than half of this went in very easily. Just needed a few hints to finish it off. 26d was a new word. Don’t quite understand where the ‘ing’ comes from in 8d …

    Most enjoyable, thanks to Jay and Pommers for a fine blog.

    1. Hi Geoff
      As I read it, if you’re giving someone a break by taking a turn at something you are said to be ‘spelling’ them.
      Not my favourite clue I have to say but fair IMO.

  12. Hi Pommers, just noticed there’s a typo when you uncover the answer for 17a.

  13. Thanks to Jay and to Pommers for a gentle but excellent crossword and review.

  14. Well, I give myself a 1a for the difficulty rating but all I can do is base it on my solving time. When I was writing the review this morning I did wonder why it had taken me so long as it’s a great puzzle and very well clued (apart from 9a perhaps which was my last in).

    Promise to do the solve at a more sensible time of day next Wednesday!

  15. I have to agree with most people that this wasn’t that tough, probably nearer a 2* for me, but enjoyable with some good wordplay. I liked 7d – very smooth – and, like Pommers, the dish is one of my favourites too.

    Thanks for the review, Pommers, but, as you’ve already suggested, maybe after a night’s sleep next time, rather than before! And thanks to Jay for the puzzle.

  16. A beauty today and splendid illustrations pommers – particularly the Indonesian dagger and the mosquito..

  17. OK I am going to have to agree with Pommers – it took me longer than normal and I’m not sure why (obviously not on the same wave length today). Liked 19a and 22a but did not like 1d nor 28 and 29a (agree they are very “samey”).

    Having said that good overall – thanks for the review Pommers and thanks for the pics Pommette.

    Thanks for puzzle Jay.

  18. 22a. Uggh! As soon as you see the word boredom you put the answer in. I’m sick of the sight of it. Oh, and what was 9a all about? On the positive side I like 24a and 13a. If 10a has said ’cause of disease’ instead it would have been my favourite but that goes to 20d which I thought rather clever. Sorry Pommers but I give this 1 1/2 stars for difficulty only. Go to bed and sort it out in the morning!

    Thanks to Pommers and Jay.

  19. A rather gentle puzzle from Jay.
    I liked 13a, 24a & 25d.
    Always thought sortie was a noun!
    Nice review Pommers.


  20. Well, to top a day of very fine weather we’ve just had an earthquake! Nothing serious, more a sort of gentle side-to-side rocking motion that went on for a couple of minutes! Very strange feeling and made pommette a bit queasy, but she is prone to seasickness. I know, a bit bizarre for a keen sailor!

  21. Got “wipeout” for 5d – DOH! Consequently toiled over 10a all day – OBVIOUS really. Pointy hat in the corner for me.

    1. Done the same – maybe that’s why it took so long to solve! But then I spotted the 10a, little buggers who have just bitten me again, and suddenly all became clear!

  22. My first visit here for many a week, as for some reason I’ve recently dropped the daily cryptics habit.
    This morning I had a hospital appointment, so armed with the DT I made my way to the waiting room.
    As usual a lengthy delay, 1hr and 05mins to be precise, and I was able to all but finish today’s puzzle during that time.
    Not keen on 8down, it didn’t quite work for me. Favourite clues 15a and 24a.
    Thanks for the review pommers.

  23. Apparantly the eathquake was a lot worse nearer the epicentre close to Lorca ,in the province of Murcia – about 100 Km from us. People have been killed and it’s still not clear how many.
    Apologies for earlier,slightly flippant post! Not something to make jokes about.

    1. Apparently in 1915 a seismologist , Raffaele Bendani, predicted an earthquake (the big one) would hit Rome today. In 1923 he predicted an earthquake would hit central Italy on January 2nd 1924, he was in fact 2 days out.

  24. Brilliant, it’s rated as a 4* and I managed it quite quickly and with no recourse to aids or hints. Will ignore the comments of folk who rate it below 4* and enjoy my moment of satisfaction. Thank you Pommers and of course the compiler.

  25. Horribly busy day – not even anything exciting, just too much to do. Only started looking at the crossword at about 9.00pm, after supper and wine. This normally means that I can only do about half of it so, based on that, I would probably only give it, at most, 2* for difficulty. Managed all but two clues in quite quick time. Admitted defeat on 20 and 26d. Never heard of 26d and should have made a guess and looked it up, but didn’t. 20d just couldn’t do. Best clues, for me, today include 13 and 21a and 5d (anyone surprised that I not only did this one but liked it?) and 7d. Favourite was 24a.
    With thanks to Jay for a really good puzzle and to Pommers for the hints.

  26. Well, try putting the word “Wipe” in the start of 4d, and then see if you can finish it……
    Yet again I have fallen because of an answer where my own (wrong) answer works as a solution. Needed a hint for that, and then all was ok….. but not until a day late.
    I need to get a grip and remember that I’m not always right (as Princess Sharrona of Scandonorvania is always reminding me.)


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