DT 27161 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
View closed comments 

DT 27161

Daily Telegraph Cryptic No 27161

Hints and tips by Falcon

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

BD Rating – Difficulty ***Enjoyment ***

Greetings from Ottawa where spring seems slow to arrive this year. One may even still see the odd isolated pile of snow in some well-sheltered locations.

This is a DNRT (Definitely Not Ray T) puzzle. I also found it to be a difficult puzzle to rate. To start with, the difficulty level of clues seems to range all over the map. I have set the difficulty at three stars, but some of the British terms may have caused me more difficulty than they will you. I also found it a bit tedious to review — especially the down clues where one encounters charade after charade after charade. I hadn’t particularly noticed this while solving the puzzle as I typically find myself tackling clues in a random order. I tried not to let this factor influence my rating, and gave it three stars for enjoyment as I felt that I had enjoyed the solving experience more than the blogging experience.

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 Utter old bag! (7)
{ EXCLAIM } — old in the sense of former and bag in the sense of to obtain or reserve a seat

5a Slander in the air: rugby forwards getting cosmetic treatment (7)
{ MUDPACK } — something which when slung is slanderous plus the forwards in a rugby team collectively


9a Caught with an 18-year-old perhaps in restaurant (7)
{ CANTEEN } — from rugby to cricket; C(aught) plus AN (from the clue) plus the age group to which an 18-year-old belongs

10a Sitting in dustcart is ‘ancillary skilled worker‘ (7)
{ ARTISAN } — hidden in (sitting in) the middle three words of the clue

11a A spring sauce for pasta — second course or side dish maybe (9)
{ ASPARAGUS } — a charade of A (from the clue), a spring from which healing waters issue, the name of an Italian meat sauce (which has been appropriated as a brand name by Unilever), and S(econd)

12a Jamaican music revived without group initially keen (5)
{ EAGER } — reversal (revived) of a type of Jamaican music after having deleted (without) the initial letter of G(roup)

13a Support vegan’s zeal off and on (5)
{ EASEL } — alternate letters of vEgAnS zEaL (turn a letter off, turn a letter on, repeatedly)


15a Preserved quiet getting peeved with France losing out to Italy (9)
{ MUMMIFIED } — a synonym for quiet followed by a word meaning peeved with the second F(rance) changed to I(taly)

17a Complicated roots and ties for those who never 14 (9)
{ TORTOISES } — anagram of ROOTS and TIES

19a Labour offering bribe (5)
{ GRAFT } — double definition; hard work or a corrupt payment

22a Royal Horse Guardsmusic? (5)
{ BLUES } — another double definition; nickname of the cavalry regiment or slow melancholy jazz

23a Floor cleaner contains iodine — you might be comfortable with this (9)
{ DECKCHAIR } — the floor of a boat, perhaps, plus a daily who has ingested I(odine)


25a Tribe leader right to tuck into cooked ham pie (7)
{ EPHRAIM } — place R(ight) in an anagram of HAM PIE to obtain the progenitor of one of the Tribes of Israel

26a A liberal president losing Ohio at first but gaining a different state (7)
{ ALABAMA } — start with A (from the clue) and L(iberal), then append the surname of the current US president, changing the O(hio) to an A (from the clue)

27a Intellectually artist’s retrospective is satisfactory (2,2,3)
{ UP TO PAR } — a phrase (2,3) describing where the seat of one’s intellectual capability resides followed by a reversal of the usual Crosswordland artist

28a Delays restricting commercial mass publications (3,4)
{ LAD MAGS } — a synonym for delays encircling the word sum of a short commercial message and a physicist’s shorthand for mass produces publications featuring women with minimalist wardrobes



1d Enrolled nurse with word of warning about Left tract (7)
{ ENCLAVE } — begin with E(nrolled) N(urse) plus a warning heard in ancient Rome — and British school yards; then insert L(eft) into it

2d Nibbles about half banana before exercise on Sabbath (7)
{ CANAPES } — a charade of the single letter abbreviation for circa, the latter half of (ban)ANA, the short form for Physical Education, and S(abbath)

3d A paltry so-called Islamic prince (5)
{ AMEER } — A (from the clue) followed by a homophone of a word meaning nothing more than

4d Object to athletics event’s psychological warfare (4,5)
{ MIND GAMES } — another charade; to be upset plus events such as those held in London last summer

5d Miserly so-and-so’s first to make money (5)
{ MEANS } — another word for stingy with the first letter of S(o-and-so) appended

6d Dubious diet lacks European fish — gutted (9)
{ DITHERING } — DI(e)T with E(uropean) deleted (lacks) plus a common food fish with its middle letter deleted (gutted)

7d Like South Africa without for instance one indigenous weapon (7)
{ ASSEGAI } — a charade of (1) a synonym for like, (2) S(outh) A(frica) outside (without) the Latin abbreviation meaning for instance, and (3) the Roman numeral for one

8d Socialist type takes precedence, being related (7)
{ KINDRED } — start with the colour associated with Socialists; then place a synonym for kind or sort before it

14d Man-eater caught tail first in noose — pull your finger out! (4,5)
{ LOOK SHARP } — this man eater is the predator from the movie Jaws; move the final letter (tail) to the beginning (first) and place the result inside another word for noose

16d Variety of cash I dissipated in Hebridean isle (5,4)
{ MUSIC HALL } — an anagram (dissipated) of CASH I inserted in an island in the Inner Hebrides produces a type of variety entertainment named for the venue in which it is held

17d Picture expert getting inside Greek character (7)
{ TABLEAU } — an adjective meaning expert or skilful is placed in the nineteenth letter of the Greek alphabet

18d Camp trio huge all over the place apart from East (5,2)
{ ROUGH IT } — an anagram (all over the place) of TRIO HUGE with E(ast) removed

20d Potboiler epic? (3,4)
{ AGA SAGA } — in the words of The Observer, a tale of illicit rumpy-pumpy in the countryside


21d Clobber poor hardest (7)
{ THREADS } — anagram (poor) of HARDEST

23d Dissent of Parisian with spirit returning (5)
{ DEMUR } — the French preposition meaning ‘of’ followed by a reversal of the Royal Navy’s favourite spirit

24d Vegetable burnt to a cinder by the sound of it (5)
{ CHARD } — a homophone of another way of saying scorched

While the clues are all solidly constructed, I felt that a good many lacked any real sparkle. My favourite clues would include 5a, 14d, 16d and 20d.

The Quick crossword pun: (prints} + {char} + {ming} = {Prince Charming}


67 comments on “DT 27161

  1. Good morning. Had loads of trouble with this, so was very glad of Falcon’s early blog – thank you, Falcon. Don’t know why, but just couldn’t get on the setter’s wavelength, so while appreciating all his/her hard work (thank you) have ended up rather discouraged. Must still be on Scottish time…

  2. I had an inkling that the last 2 days were softening us up for a sterner test. I agree with Falcon’s rating. Only knew 3 down because of the song ( Abdul Abulbul Amir – assumed that ameer was a variant spelling of amir which is a variant spelling of emir!))

  3. I found it hard to get started but gathered pace as I went along. Only needed hints to confirm some of my answers. Thanks to setter and to Falcon for the review. ☼

  4. An interesting puzzle today, definitely not easy, but by no means impossible to solve. I’ve never come across that particular spelling of 3D, but it seemed pretty obvious what the answer was (the problem with Arabic words is that the English version can only be written phonetically, when I worked in Saudi, there was one road where a town name was spelled in five different ways on five different signs). 17D held me up a while as I was trying to put ACE in the middle.

    Busy day today, Sky showing Somerset’s game on telly, so do not disturb me for the next four days, thanks.

    1. Yes, 17d held me up trying to use PRO……and the Greek letter did not come to me without looking it up.
      I don’t like having to use aids, as it spoils my fun- a bit like guessing in a diabolical Sudoku- you get it right but with no satisfaction….

  5. I quite liked this one today; perhaps because I found it more of a challenge than some of the recent back-page puzzles where it has been a case of read the clue and write the answer in. Definitely not the case for me today.
    4*/4*. Thanks to setter and to Falcon.

  6. We had to spend more time on this than usual, crept into the 4* range. Did not recognise the setter’s style so took a while to get on her/his wavelength. Some really clever clues that were satisfying to work through, like 15a.
    Thanks Mr Ron and Falcon.

  7. Agree that this was the most difficult puzzle of the week by far, on first read through it seemed ‘messy’ and convoluted,which was bourne out when i started to solve it,i think a ***+ and **,20d was a new word,perhaps i don’t read enough!or may’be a bit slow like 17a.Thanks Falcon for the review, it was certainly different and all over the place.

  8. Another puzzle on the cusp of 3* difficulty but I did enjoy myself. Thanks to Falcon and Mr Ron.

    Its a good day for enjoying crosswords today – the Toughie isn’t tough but I liked it – there is a lovely Paul (Dada) in the Graun. Just going to finish my sandwiches and then see what the Times and FT have to offer.

  9. Quite liked this one, presented no great difficulties, don’t know why, but got the feeling that more than one person was involved in clueing.

    Thanks for the review.

    Thanks to the setter(s?).

  10. Hi Falcon, thanks for blog, I needed your help for a few including 3d, a couple today I thought worthy of a toughie e.g. 27a and 14a, a definite 3 star for me today, I quite enjoyed it but no favourite clue, another dull day in West Wales, is it too much to ask for warmth and sunshine on the same day!!! :-( , Ah well acupuncture later, I always come away feeling more positive :-)

  11. Thanks to the setter for a very enjoyable crossword and to Falcon for a very amusing review.

  12. I really enjoyed this one, which I thought was a ‘proper’ crossword and which I’d have rated as 4*/4*. I thought that the plethora of food-related clues and answers pointed to one particular setter but nobody else has had similar thoughts so perhaps I’m wrong.
    Thanks to ???? and Falcon for the review (and the excellent pics).

    1. If you mean who I think you do I thought about it too but, being notoriously bad at spotting any setter other than Ray T, I decided to keep quiet, for once!

      1. I think he may be right both about the ??? and the ‘properness’ of the crossword.

    2. It is interesting that others besides myself found the puzzle difficult. I always figure that it will be less difficult for those of you in the UK and make allowance for that it my rating.

      Glad you liked the pics. It is always nice to get praise from the one who set the bar :smile:

      1. E.g., 28a and 20d, the only ones I couldn’t get, you had to have been living in UK recently to know.

  13. Enjoyed this one. Some very nice clues …loved 11a..plus a few that had me stumped until the hints. So thanks to the setter and Falcon.

  14. Blimey I don’t know – I found this one really difficult and needed a lot of help.

    14d is really convoluted and took some getting, 3d was an unusual spelling, 28a is also an unusual spelling they are normally referred to as ***’s **gs.

    Not up to the usual high standard – sorry!

  15. I really enjoyed this one but found it very difficult. 4* for both from me. I agree about DNRT and I did wonder about one of gazza’s WED’s.
    There were quite a few things that I’ve either never known or have forgotten, which is probably more likely.
    I didn’t know that rugby forwards were called a pack – I’m sure that won’t come as a surprise to anyone! Didn’t know that a graft was a bribe and I didn’t know that the Royal Horse Guards were called Blues.
    This has taken me a very long time but it was well worth it.
    I liked 1, 9, 11, 12 . . . oh dear – I liked too many to bore all of you with my opinions! My favourite was 15a.
    With thanks to Mr Ron and Falcon.
    Warm and sunny – well, almost.

  16. I have been working abroad for six years. One of the things I looked forward to on return was the Telegraph crossword. Sadly, it has changed enormously in my absence. I’ve tried to analyse the difference with this puzzle
    A good crossword looks effortless to the solver. This one shows clearly all the grinding steps that went into creating each clue
    The swopping of letters(15 and 26A) the pick-every-second-letter (13A) the use of the first or last letter of some word to mop up a letter that didn’t fit into the clue (5D).
    No originality no flow and, worst of all, no joie de vivre

    1. I didn’t enjoy doing it – sorry!
      This comment explains exactly the problem – many of the answers were just too tricksy and too far off the actual definitions or synonyms.

      As for defining Blues as a variety of jazz – wash your mouth out, compiler!!

      1. That last comment is rubbish – sorry. It refers to a clue with ‘melancholy jazz’ in it. Where was that?

        1. It was in my hint for the clue. If it is an inappropriate definition, then the one who should wash his mouth out is the dictionary compiler, Mr. Chambers.

          blues – slow melancholy jazz music of Black American origin, a typical piece consisting of three four-bar phrases and making use of blue notes [Chambers 21st Century Dictionary]

          I don’t profess to be a music expert, and therefore didn’t question the definition. However, it certainly wouldn’t be the first time that a definition in Chambers was found wanting.

  17. Never heard of the answer to 19 across to mean bribe ( I’ve obviously led a sheltered life). I’m not sure that the answer to 21down that I’ve got means clobber, and the answer to 6 down is what you do if you are dubious about something rather then the word itself. Thank you both setter & hinter.

    1. In this case, clobber is a British slang term — fortunately, one with which I have had previous experience

      clobber – clothing, personal belongings, or equipment — “I found all his clobber in the locker.” [Oxford Dictionaries Online]

      1. I understand the meaning of the word clobber….I just don’t understand the connection between clothes and the available words which fit t..r..a..s.

        1. I think it’s a slang term for clothes – I also think it was in a crossword not that long ago and caused a fair few problems then.

          1. Thank you Kath. I’m sure you’re right, but it would have to be in a crossword like, yesterday, for me to remember it.

  18. I found this difficult to get started (3 solved at the first pass), then struggled to break into each of the four quadrants. As for others, the overall experience was vaguely dissatisfying – clues were too clever rather than amusing. Never heard the phrase in 20d, nor this variant of 3d. Liked 15a, though.
    Because of slowness, 4*/3* for me.
    Thanks to setter and for hints, which for once I didn’t need!

    1. I got bogged down on 15a for a while by convincing myself that “quiet” = “P” and then trying to justify “petrified” as the solution. All was revealed when I solved 16d.

  19. Toughie level today for me. Most of it is way above my pay-grade.
    Managed two answers unaided! Always struggle with Falcons, must be the Thursday curse:-(

    1. Had a chance to go through all the excellent hints and I must say that if there are worse clues than 7d, 14d,20d, 27a, 15a and esp 20d then I haven’t come across them, the sort of clues that Mrs B describes as life’s too short to be bothering with.
      And quite why camp should mean rough it is beyond me.
      I think you could say this was my least favourite non Ray T for a long time. Off to mow the grass, def more fun than this puzzle for me.

      1. According to Chambers 21st Century Dictionary:

        rough it – colloq to live in a very basic or primitive way, without the usual comforts of life one is accustomed to.

    2. Come on, Brian! Pay attention! Falcon is the Blogger – not the Setter!

      Many Thanks to Falcon for the Blog and also Many Thanks to the Unknown Setter!

  20. Thoroughly enjoyable tussle with many reminders of past answers popping up from the subconscious.
    Got there eventually without Falcon’s assistance
    Only got 1d through the word play but I suppose I must not quibble with the dictionary.
    Likewise 19a.
    Living and learning.
    Thanks Mr Ron and Falcon..

  21. Sorry, but I agree entirely with Michael Mason.
    The puzzle lacked soul, just a series of individual tripwires, set in self indulgent, egotistic, verbal mazes.
    I completed 80%, then put the paper down, denying the setter any more satisfaction in watching my brain boil.
    On the other hand It may be that I’m just crusty, thick, & a bad loser to boot!

    1. You have expressed perfectly how I feel. 6d especially irritated as a misleading definition.

    2. Great post, Venator, hedging your bets. :)
      Must agree about lacking soul, difficult to define but I would say ‘heart’.
      Just a series of disparate clues.
      Not a criticism of the setter, I like all sorts.
      And this was quite a mental exercise.

  22. I am sorry to say I agree with Michael and others. Thanks to Falcon and I hope I get on better with the setter’s next effort.

    1. Sums it up perfectly for me. Couldn’t get with it at all. First toughie I haven’t finished in relative comfort for ages. In fact, I could only manage about 6 answers before I waved the white flag.

      1. While compiling my first ever pub quiz last week I realised that the competition should be between the playing teams, not between the teams and the compiler. It should also be challenging, rewarding and, above all, fun – otherwise the punters won’t come back for more.

  23. Thank you setter. Defeated today and took a couple of hints in the NE corner to progress. Thanks Falcon for your review and hints. The yellow disc has been in the Suffolk sky again – apparently thats it for a while.

  24. I got ten clues after reading through twice then Saint Sharon set me to work on other things. When I stopped i took the toughie on and did really well. Back to this one and I must admit it has been a bit of a struggle which I enjoy. It is rather odd though. I will have another look at bedtime.

        1. Saint Sharon is my long suffering beautiful wife. I used to refer to her as Mrs C-S because that is her name. That led to confused people thinking I was married to Cryptic Sue.

  25. Not sure that 6d works. Nice to finish it but it was a little odd. More of the same please. Thanks to one and all. Toughie time.

  26. Did it in just about *** time, but also thought there was nothing much enjoyable about it, so ***/**

  27. Thanks to Mr Ron and to Falcon for the review and hints. Much too difficult for me, struggled all the way. Needed 6 hints to finish. Was 4*/2* for me. Favourites were 23a and 2&14d. Couldn’t get into it.

  28. AI must be the only one who doesn’t understand the clue for 17a. What has easel to do with tortoises? Maybe I’m as thick as a pound of lard.

    1. I think you must be reading the clue for 17a as if it says 13. It is actually 14 – referring to 14d.

      1. I know my eyesight is not what it was but that was a total misread! Thanks.

        Oy vey – do I feel foolish!

  29. Completed this on an aeroplane ,fortunately it was a longish flight !
    Thought it was interesting .Love the diversity of comments .
    Thanks very much .

Comments are closed.