DT 27270 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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DT 27270

Daily Telegraph Cryptic No 27270

Hints and tips by Gazza

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

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

In terms of difficulty I thought that this was towards the top of Giovanni’s back-page range and only slightly easier than his Toughie yesterday. I wonder whether he starts out with the intention of creating a puzzle of a specific category or whether he just goes ahead and completes it and only then decides which envelope to put it in.

Do let us know how you got on. If you have to admit defeat on a clue you can reveal the answer by highlighting the gap between the brackets under the clue.

Across Clues

1a/26a  Play with energy running around in gym (4,4)
{PEER GYNT} – an Ibsen play comes from inserting an anagram (running around) of ENERGY inside an abbreviation for gym (the activity rather than the place).

3a  Mum and boy, a quiet little boy socially awkward? (10)
{MALADAPTED} – bolt together an affectionate term for mother, another word for boy, A (from the clue), the musical abbreviation meaning quiet and an abbreviated male name. What you should have manufactured is a description of someone who has not adjusted well to their living environment.

9a  Defeat sees king ousted (4)
{ROUT} – a single-character abbreviation for king followed by a synonym for ousted.

10a  Most impressive workshop almost blocking two streets (10)
{STATELIEST} – a workshop or studio without its final R (almost) goes inside two abbreviations for street.

11a  Where many of you will now be writing, in theory (2,5)
{ON PAPER} – double definition, the second meaning in theory, as opposed to in the real world.

13a  Absurd behaviour of cleaner (a dame, not a maiden) (7)
{CHARADE} – a word sum (it seemed more appropriate to use Tilsit’s term for this construct for once) of a cleaner followed by A DAME after you’ve taken out one of the As and the abbreviation for a maiden over.

14a  Thinking outside the box may lead to these inside it! (11)
{SUGGESTIONS} – cryptic definition of what you may put into a box at your place of work if you have imaginative ideas on improving efficiency or reducing costs. “Sack all the managers” does not usually go down too well.

18a  It would be unusual for this spy to be centre stage (6,5)
{SECRET AGENT} – a semi-all-in-one coming from an anagram (it would be unusual) of CENTRE STAGE.

21a  Further test limited by broken rope (7)
{PROMOTE} – the definition here is a verb. An annual test is contained (limited) by an anagram (broken) of ROPE.

22a  Listening to explosive, say, wanting noise restricted (7)
{HEEDING} –  abbreviations for a) explosive and b) say or ‘for example’ with an unpleasant noise put inside (restricted).

23a  This writer’s sure to make a prediction of personal restriction (3,2,5)
{I’LL BE BOUND} – double definition, the second a statement of someone possibly anticipating a period of bondage.

24a  A bishop gets in the way of union — it’s forbidden (4)
{TABU} – insert A and the chess abbreviation for bishop in a union.

25a  Terrible danger, even in ground-floor apartment (6,4)
{GARDEN FLAT} – an anagram (terrible) of DANGER followed by an adjective meaning even or level.

26a  See 1a

Down Clues

1d  River to rise — that same river’s trapped creature (8)
{PORPOISE} – Gnomey’s favourite river appears twice here – once at the start and then trapped inside RISE.

2d  Attendants taking time following head of empire joke (8)
{EQUIPAGE} – this is an old term for a carriage and horses with attendants. A long period of time follows the first letter of E(mpire) and a joke or witty remark.

4d  Modify piece of furniture in church according to report (5)
{ALTER} – ‘according to report’ is signalling a homophone.

5d  Something eaten in lorry — the man’s eating all right! (9)
{ARTICHOKE} – string together the abbreviation for a type of lorry and a male pronoun (the man) containing an abbreviation meaning all right or acceptable.

6d  A fresh start for pupils before they were eleven? (1,5,5)
{A CLEAN SLATE} – this is a phrase meaning a fresh start but the whole clue is also descriptive of what young schoolchildren in the past used to start each day with until a) they reached the age of eleven or b) graduated to working 11a.

7d  Perhaps Oxford’s leading element needs to step up (6)
{TOECAP} – this is the reinforced front bit (leading element) of what an Oxford is an example of. Start with TO then reverse (up, in a down clue) a verb to step.

8d  Responsibilities of the French with strings attached (6)
{DUTIES} – a charade of a French word meaning ‘of the’ and another word for strings or links.

12d  Police tense about period long ago (11)
{PLEISTOCENE} – this is a geological period long ago. It’s an anagram (about) of POLICE TENSE.

15d  Marked with sign of approval or shown disapproval? (6,3)
{TICKED OFF} – double definition, the first how teacher may have marked the sums that you got right.

16d  Many rise when trained in educational establishment (8)
{SEMINARY} – an anagram (when trained) of MANY RISE.

17d  Flap during road accident in which animal may have got killed (4,4)
{STAG HUNT} – insert what the BRB describes as ‘a flap, or a loose or flapping end’ into our informal word for the sort of road accident that North Americans call a rear-ender.

19d  Season to be frugal with article unavailable (6)
{SPRING} – start with an adjective meaning frugal or thrifty and take away the A.

20d  Seize foreign money after initial 80 per cent devaluation (6)
{COLLAR} – a basic monetary unit (one used by many foreign countries) starts with a Roman numeral. Reduce the value of this initial letter by 80 per cent to get a different Roman numeral.

22d  Husband has upset woman — could it make her go red? (5)
{HENNA} – H(usband) is followed by the reversal (upset, in a down clue) of a woman’s name.

Top clues for me today were 18a, 6d and 20d. Which ones appealed to you?

Today’s Quickie Pun: {PARR} + {TICKLES} = {PARTICLES}

62 comments on “DT 27270

  1. It took us a while to parse 6d. We had the right answer but did not immediately look across to 11 to make sense of the word-play. A tortoise wanted to creep into 1d for a while until Gnomie’s river washed it away. An enjoyable puzzle that felt about just right for a Friday back-pager.
    Thanks Giovanni and Gazza

  2. I’m surpised that this merited a **** for difficulty from you , Gazza. Maybe I just hit Giovanni’s wavelength today because I had no problems with it and was through fairly quickly except for 7D which, in retrospect, I really should have been able to unravel. But when I looked at my print-out, I had not checked any clue as being a highlight, which is odd. Oh, well. Thanks to both. Happy to have this done before I start what promises to be a 12-hour workday.

  3. 3*/4* for me today. I enjoyed this one much more than the Giovanni toughie yesterday,
    The last one in for me was 12d; only because i was too lazy to work out the anagram until i had all the checking letters.
    Many thanks to Giovanni, and to Gazza for the excellent review.
    Now for Notabilis…

  4. Glad you gave this four star difficulty as I really struggled to complete it, usually when this happens the review gives one to two star and the comments all say it was easy.

    Needed the review for some of the wordplay so thank you.

    Thanks to Giovanni for a real tester.

  5. Found this one of the toughest puzzles for a very long time & could only manage half before requiring much needed hints, guess im just not on the same wave length as the setter or im a plank! Thanks to gazza for riding to the rescue.

    1. I think everyone has a setter they struggle with more than others. The cryptic definitions of Rufus on a Monday are my downfall. Most people race through the Monday puzzle, but my solving time for this Monday’s puzzle was approximately the combined total of the amount of time it took me to complete the previous Friday, Saturday, and Sunday puzzles!

  6. Made one silly mistake and nearly failed today! I put EQUIPPED in for 2D (seemed to sort of fit the clue – head of empire and a joke) this meant that I stuck in stereotypes for 14A and found that I couldn’t fit anything in for 5D. Took rather lot of backward engineering to get things right and the paper looks a right mess now.
    Other than that, a fine example of The Don’s work.

    Have Somerset won yet? I thought they took things a bit easy towards the end of yesterday.

  7. We struggled with this one. As we don’t get out of bed until we complete both back-page puzzles, preparations for a big birthday party are seriously late. That’s a big birthday, not a big party! You’ll all feel the warmth of the candles.
    Thanks to the setter and Gazza.

  8. ***/*** for me today. This followed the pattern I seem to find frequently with Giovanni’s puzzles – a very enjoyable challenge with the edge taken off it slightly by a couple of obscure or convoluted clues, which today for me were 2d (never heard of the answer) and 6d (when last did anyone use a slate at school?)

    My favourite was the superb 20d.

    Another coincidence today was the answer to 9a turning up for the second day running!

    Many thanks to the Don and to Gazza for his excellent review, which I needed to explain why my answers to 14a, 2d and 6d were correct.

    1. “when last did anyone use a slate at school?” I wrote on a slate until about 1963 :-)

      1. I used a slate , for junior infants, at much the same time. It does strengthen the fingers for fine motor skills, and it’s” greener”. I wonder if it should be brought back for dyspraxic students ?

      2. I started school in the UK at 5 years old in 1951 and don’t remember ever having to use a slate. I do remember at 7 or 8 ( or maybe 9) years old learning to write with a dip pen and inkwell, though.

        1. So did I. Remember getting blobs of blotting paper from the inkwell on the end of the nib?!

          1. I’m from the same era too. No slates at my school!

            And yes, what a mess you could get into with ink and inkwells :smile:

  9. Fairly sailed through this until I discovered that my passion for the dormouse meant I couldn’t get 1a no matter what. Shame! So that was almost my last one in, before 24a which I didn’t know could be spelled that way. And my feebleness in maths meant I couldn’t work out 20a (I put in Dollar) without Gazza’s hint – thank you. And thanks to setter also for a lorrafun. Now off to plant out the first Anniversary present – a rose called Ruby Wedding – a gorgeous scented David Austin plant. But not having the green fingers of so many of you I’m only hoping it survives…. Hope everyone has a good day.

  10. Glad for the ****rating, thought I was having a bad day, certainly for me the toughest for a while, hard to score the enjoyment element ,a bit like heading a brick wall -good when it’s over! solving each clue was a minor triumph in itself struggled with the wordplay with 13a for ages which made 6d difficult-wanted to put a close shave, or a level stage-getting desperate when the Damascus moment arrived-will enjoy a few Robbies tonight.

  11. Ouch, where did that come from ! I finished it eventually but found it hard. I like to try to finish the puzzle and then be able to get on with other things, but become frustrated when I get stuck and stop enjoying it. Thanks for the challenge Giovanni, new words and all. Thanks Gazza for your hints – I needed your explanations for the wordplay to a number of answers which I had.

  12. Another enjoyable Friday puzzle from Giovanni!

    Faves : 1a+26a, 3a, 13a, 23a, 1d, 5d, 7d & 12d.

    6d brought back fond memories of yore at the original Brownhill elementary school in Leeds! I still remember “pot-hooking” on the slate when I was a five-year old pupil!
    That school was knocked down and replaced by houses – it was shifted up Harehills Lane to a new site near York Road.
    I still have a photo of the original school.

  13. Phew! 4* from me. I managed only about a dozen or so answers before I had to turn to a couple of Gazza’s excellent hints to get me going again – notably 3a into which I was desperately trying to fit “maladroit” (which I think fits the definition far better than the actual answer) and 22a where I was trying to fit “hearing”.

    I was also desperate for 5d to include “Yorkie” (only Brits of a certain age will know why!) but alas that wasn’t to be…

    I eventually managed to complete the grid, but had to return to Gazza’s hints to see why 2d, 7d, and 20d were what they were…

    With thanks to Giovanni and especially to Gazza, without whose help I would now be clearing up shredded paper from the floor…

  14. Gazza
    Some of the more recent joiners to the blog may not understand the reference in the hint for Gnomey’s favourite river at 1d & far be it for me to kick that one off again…

    1. It was mentioned in despatches yet again (poor Gnomey) the other week so the hint should work except for those of us who try to avoid mentioning said river and put in ‘dormouse’ before realising that 1a didn’t work at all with a D :oops:

      1. Well I reckon I’m in exalted company as I put in Dormouse as well (river Ouse, an extra R etc.)! Got an inkling I was wrong with Gazza’s image as it didn’t look in the slightest like a small furry being….

  15. Brilliant crossword from Giovanni, best back pager for ages, I thought 20d was terrific. Many thanks to Giovanni and to Gazza for a very enjoyable review.

  16. I’m sure this is a very clever puzzle, but not one of my favourites. I don’t like the missing apostrophe in 23 across & one or two of the others take quite a lot of explaining. Others however, I’m sure, will love it so thank you setter & especially today, hinter.

  17. Oh lovely lovely – the first really demanding puzzle for ages. Like boltonbabs I rarely get up before quick and cryptic are finished, but had to to-day or my dear cleaning lady would have been left on the doorstep. I wasn’t helped by the fact that I slammed in “maladroit”, “prehistoric” and “tortoise” without giving them any thought. Enlightenment finally came with the first coffee of the day and no need of recourse to the hints. But more of the same, PLEASE.

    1. Coffee BEFORE crosswords is essential. I have a great fridge magnet which my daughters put in my Christmas (sorry to mention the C word before the beginning of September!) stocking a couple of years ago. It says “Drink coffee and do stupid things faster with more energy”!

  18. Loved it, loved it, loved it! Giovanni must be my favourite.
    2 / 4 for me.

    Far too many clever/ cute/ fiendish clues to single one out.

    I did have to go away and do something in the middle (strong coffee) because I really wanted to avoid help. Then things did emerge. So, as I completed without help, I would never give it a **** for difficulty. That would be for the experts. But I agree that, although some of the terms and names might be seen as obscure, it happened to fit my knowledge base.

  19. Cracking crossword…Fiendish but eminently doable and in what for me is a respectable time. Thanks for explaining 20D. Note to self…do not put tortoise as 1d.

  20. Got the bottom half ok but the top is a virtual closed shop.
    For me this one has ruined a great crossword week.
    Far too tough for the back page even by Giovannis standards.
    Very hard and very little fun for me.

  21. I usually love Giovanni’s puzzles, but can’t have been on his wave length today. i had a dormouse at 1d and so took far too long to find the play. I needed the hints to complete it, though not the brackets so my face was saved. Many thanks to G&G :-)

  22. Four star, at least. If I had about a week to solve I might have done it without hints.Thanks to Giovanni and Gazza.

  23. I do love the Friday puzzle! It took me a while to get started and a while to finish but I enjoyed every minute of it. Thank you Giovanni.
    Thanks also to Gazza for your clear and entertaining explanations. I had no idea what an “artic” was in 5d. Not a short form we use here at all!
    Thanks again to everyone involved.

  24. Really tough today – I did about half before resorting to the blog. 2d was a new word for me.

    Just getting back into the swing of things after a fortnight on the Canal De Midi – oh those flies!!

    1. Lovely part of France.
      I’ve cycled its length from Toulouse to the Med. three times!

  25. Thanks to the two G’s, easily my favourite puzzle of the week. Did the bottom half ok, then persevated with the top half, and managed to crack it without the hints. Just needed gazza’s explanations to parse 7&20d. Favourites were 10,18,22a and 1,5,7d. Was 4*/5* for me. Late blogging due to doing the Latest squash Leagues, looking forward to watching Chelsea vs bayern Munich down the pub. Might take a peek at the Toughie.

  26. Great puzzle. I,m annoyed that I jokingly said plasticene for 12D and still had to look up the answer! Must listen to myself in future.

  27. Whew! That was HARD. I never did get 3a, wanting to put maladroit as well but knowing it was wrong, putting tortoise for 1d meant I never got 1a and 26a, and I would never have got 7d in a month of Sundays. Others, such as 6d and 22a, I put in because they “fit” rather than any confidence why. I did enjoy it, especially now I know Gazza’s rating, and feel quite satisfied even though I missed a few. We had been waiting for the bubble to burst, and here it is. I really needed the hints today, thanks for those.

  28. Finally did it without hints, but into *** time. The annoying part is that with six left, I had one of the key remaining words quite quickly but it took me ages to realise how the wordplay fitted. Doh! Once that was in the rest fell out.

  29. Best one of the week for me and a good challenge. Took me a while to get going and I confess to having to check 12d. Did not see relevance of ‘eleven’ in 6d but I do now. Tomorrow’s should be a lot more straight-forward but one never knows. Some interesting comments and thanks to the Setter as always.

  30. Hi all! In 17d, what is the UK word for “fender bender”. I’m pretty sure I’ve never seen it before….

  31. Just thought that I would ‘pop in’ late in the day and say what I have and haven’t done. I’m starting with the list of things that I HAVEN’T done.
    No 1:- look at crossword
    No 2:- look at hints or comments
    No 3:- fill in necessary paper work to explain my absence
    No 4:- anything useful at home
    Now I’m going on to the list of things that I HAVE done today – from the morale point of view perhaps I should have started with these!!
    No 1:- driven from Oxford to London, via Birmingham, and then back to Oxford. Before anyone thinks that my sense of direction is EVEN worse than I’ve always said that it is I would like to point out that it was what I was meant to be doing. I won’t bore you all with details but, needless to say, it involves daughters – in this case elder one and her partner and their move from B’ham to London.
    No 2:- have achieved said move without clocking elder daughter one even though she was stressed and therefore hissing and spitting right left and centre
    No 3:- managed to make it home even though the M25 was unspeakable with accidents and lorries flat on their backs etc etc.
    Should have added “lost my glasses” to the list of things that I have done today! :sad:
    All in all an interesting day!
    On the plus side I still have this crossword and tomorrow’s and NTSPP to look forward to doing tomorrow. :smile:
    Knackered and going to bed soon . . .

    1. Now, I would call that a full day. Why not take tomorrow off, put your feet up and do sweet Fanny Adams.

      1. Mainly because I still need to go and sort out my ancient Mum (to make up for being absent today) and we are meant to be going to a lunch time party to celebrate the joint 60th birthdays of two of our most loved friends – at this precise moment I’m quite sure that they could celebrate without us but by tomorrow after a long sleep I know that I will feel differently! :smile:

  32. Still stuck on 10a…..it’s late and I’ve got all the other clues. Mental block driving me mad. Needed hint on 20d and hoped that 2d was a real word. Found that really tough, especially as I’m new to this.

      1. Thanks. I didn’t know the alternative word for workshop so was destined to be doomed. I can go to sleep now!

  33. Wrong envelope day?
    This was quite tough but thoroughly satisfying.
    Last in 1a and 26a, couldn’t see it for ages!
    Many thanks to the two Gs.
    Stinkers, in a nice way, like this are good for us.
    I think.

  34. Just a quickish comment, for once. Have finally got round to doing this one – or trying to. 4* difficulty and 3*/4* enjoyment from me.
    Commenting on a crossword from almost two days ago seems a bit pointless as I don’t imagine anyone will read it – I certainly never go back a couple of days.
    I thought it was tricky – I couldn’t do three of the longish answers – 14 and 23a and 12d which didn’t help.
    I didn’t know that 1 & 26a was a play – only know the music.
    I liked 25a and 22d. My favourite was 20d.
    With thanks to Giovanni and gazza.

    I often wonder whether the setters decide to compile a Toughie or a back page cryptic or if they decide which envelope it goes in when it’s done – in which case what makes the difference? Perhaps we could ask them. There aren’t that many compilers who do both back pagers and Toughies – Shamus, Ray T/Beam, Giovanni and Petitjean – who have I forgotten?

    1. Cephas? – though we haven’t had one of his Toughies since last year so he may no longer be setting them.

  35. At last a chance to get online! This is so late as to probably be irrelevant. Just to say I found this most enjoyable ( **** ) and challenging ( *** ). I managed to complete it without hints but needed Gazza’s explanations for 22a, 17d & 20d. Faves 1a, 10a, 1d, 5d, 7d — and add to that 20d after I had Gazza’s explanation. Thanks to Giovanni and Gazza. And also a very special thanks to Big Dave for this marvellous site (which I’ve been visiting regularly (incognito) for the past couple of years …)

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