DT 27336 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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DT 27336

Daily Telegraph Cryptic No 27336

Hints and tips by Deep Threat

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

BD Rating – Difficulty ***Enjoyment ***

Good morning from South Staffs where the sun is just coming over the horizon as I type this, which I notice is my 50th posting. Doesn’t time fly?

Rather more significantly, a note in the paper tells us that this is Giovanni’s 500th Telegraph Crossword, and I think today’s thematic offering has given us quite a work-out – well into *** territory for me – though if comments from the last couple of weeks are any guide, others may sail through it. Many congratulations to the Don.

In the hints below, the definitions are underlined

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           Ornament a lunatic knocked over — histrionic incident (9)
{ DAMASCENE } A (from the clue) and a word for lunatic, all reversed (knocked over) followed by a tantrum or histrionic incident. The definition is a verb, meaning to inlay steel with a wavy pattern.

9a           Wise man encapsulating Irish image, not what it seems (6)
{ MIRAGE } A wise man, perhaps one of the three from the Christmas story, with an abbreviation for Irish inside it.

10a         Sin-adorer upsetting bishops? (9)
{ ORDAINERS } Anagram (upsetting) of SIN ADORER, giving a reference to the function bishops have in creating new priests.

11a         Bad feeling bird gets by river (6)
{ REGRET } River followed by a variety of white heron.

12a         Paper transported as liquid? Fantastic notion! (4,5)
{ PIPE DREAM } If split (5,4) this would be a verb describing how liquid might be transported, followed by a quantity of paper.

13a         One of eight getting a bit of luck? (6)
{ STROKE } Double definition, the first being a member of a rowing eight.

17a         Cave in garden, front invisible (3)
{ DEN } Remove the initial E (front invisible) from the garden where Adam and Eve lived before the Fall.

19a         Chap taking lead at sea? Could be Nelson (7)
{ MANDELA } Nelson is a first name here, not a surname. Another word for a chap followed by an anagram (at sea) of LEAD.

20a         Out-of-form team in no position to score goal (7)
{ OFFSIDE } Put together synonyms for out-of-form and team, to get the aspect of football which, allegedly, women don’t understand!

21a         Matrimonial duties? Adam falls short (3)
{ BED } … or the place where they might be carried out. Remove the final E from the surname of the eponymous hero of a novel by George Eliot.

23a         Plunged into wine, fish swam! (6)
{ REELED } A variety of fish, often served jellied, inside an adjective describing the colour of wine.

27a         Woman, one old-fashioned, is backed up (9)
{ VALIDATED } A short form of a woman’s name (Ms Singleton, perhaps, for old Blue Peter viewers) followed by the Roman numeral for one and a word meaning old-fashioned.

ARVE Error: need id and provider

28a         Adherent to disagree about holy books (6)
{ VOTARY } The initials designating the first half of the Bible inside a verb meaning to disagree or be different.

29a         Communicators amiss, made to look silly (4,5)
{ MASS MEDIA } Anagram (to look silly) of AMISS MADE.

30a         Farm worker needing exercises with restrictive back (6)
{ REAPER } A two-letter acronym for exercises inside a word for back.

31a         Agitated blokes in terrible fret end losing heart (9)
{ FERMENTED } Another word for blokes inside an anagram (terrible) of FRET, followed by E(N)D from the clue with the middle letter removed (losing heart).


2d           Skilful soldiers climbing up inside passage (6)
{ ADROIT } Reverse (climbing, in a Down clue) an abbreviation for soldiers who are not officers, and put it inside a passage, especially one into a mine.

3d           Wreath borne by politician, a democrat (6)
{ ANADEM } Hidden in (borne by) the clue. I think I’ve only ever seen this word in crosswords.

4d           Article penned by eccentric person is a hoax (6)
{ CANARD } Put one of the forms of the indefinite article inside an eccentric or comical person, to get a hoax or French duck.

5d           Recount — was candidate upset, wanting speed? (7)
{ NARRATE } Reverse (upset) a verb describing what a person who was a candidate for election did, and add a word for speed.

6d           Employees will settle under quiet old American leader — that’s very plain! (9)
{ PIKESTAFF } A charade of the musical sign for quiet, an American President from the 1950s, and a collective noun for employees, giving what something is said to be as plain as.

7d           Loyal Irishman in charge restricting disorder (9)
{ PATRIOTIC } The short form of a common Irish first name and an abbreviation for in charge are placed either side of a violent disorder.

8d           Information on space module held by ten fellows (9)
{ GENTLEMEN } An informal word for information, followed by TEN (from the clue) with the acronym for the space vehicle which took Armstrong and Aldrin from lunar orbit down to the surface of the Moon inside it.

14d         Football team lead by little devil? They are getting better (9)
{ IMPROVERS } A small demon followed by the name of Blackburn’s football team.

15d         Like many an old family home in Lancaster needing repair (9)
{ ANCESTRAL } Anagram (needing repair) of LANCASTER.

16d         Army branch with purpose-built vehicles practises (9)
{ REHEARSES } One of the engineer regiments of the Army, followed by vehicles purpose-built for undertakers.

17d         Fingerprint  expert (3)
{ DAB } Double definition: an informal word for fingerprint; and an informal word for an expert, usually found in conjunction with ‘hand’.

18d         Fellow that’s set up number 500 may get gesture of approval (3)
{ NOD } Reverse (set up) our setter’s first name (or the title of his alias). Or take an abbreviation for number and add the Roman numeral for 500. Part of today’s theme.

22d         Rising Greek character, celebrity to come out (7)
{ EMANATE } A Greek letter followed by a celebrity, both reversed (rising).

24d         Chinese fare not distinct — a problem? (3,3)
{ DIM SUM } An adjective meaning not distinct, and the sort of problem set in primary school maths.

25d         TV technique means eccentric noise may be heard (4-2)
{ FADE-IN } A technique by which sound or picture is brought up to full clarity sounds like (may be heard) two words (3,3) which would describe an eccentric or whimsical noise.

ARVE Error: need id and provider

26d         Laugh at what’s conveyed by madder ideas (6)
{ DERIDE } Hidden in (conveyed by) the clue.


Spot the Nina relating to the occasion, as well as the reference in the Quick Crossword pun!

The Quick Crossword pun { FIE }{ FUN }{DREAD } = { FIVE HUNDRED }

70 comments on “DT 27336

  1. I thought this was very good today. 3* difficulty, and close to 5* for entertainment. Many thanks and congratulations to Giovanni, and thanks to Deep Threat for the review.

    I found the toughie today a blend of 75% straightforward, and 25% ferocious!

  2. ‘Damascene Ordainers’, perhaps a reference to Don’s editorship of the Church Times crosswords, or just a passing comment on just how many of our Bishops have had an experience like St Paul’s Damascene one. But perhaps it’s all a ‘pipe dream’.

  3. I found this a tad on the difficult side with some new words to take on board mainly 1A, 3D & 24D. Liked 19A once I got away from Horatio. Many thanks to the setter & DT for a much needed review.

  4. My print out chopped the clue for 26D. And then so did you! Conspiracy!

    Only needed the 35 million hints for this one…

  5. I feel like having a bit of a moan today!

    The object of my wrath is 3d, which turned out to be a hidden word. I had never heard of it, but that doesn’t disqualify it because I’m only displaying my ignorance BUT it seems to me that this answer is so obscure it is almost unfair.

    The only way of getting it that I can see is using something like WORDSEARCH, I always feel this is tantamount to cheating but then again maybe I’m wrong!

    Rant over – I’d be interested to read the views of others.

    3d excepted I enjoyed the puzzle

    1. Michael, I totally agree with you. IMHO Giovanni frequently spoils great crosswords with a sprinkling of obscurities. Today was no exception.

      1. I’m with you all the way on this one. I think it’s just a shame that someone as talented as the Don should have to resort to obscure words, he is much better than that.

        1. People, some of us are delighted to learn new words!

          It was a very fair clue, given that half of the letters lie in other answers and one of them was the leading letter. That meant that it really could only be one word, which is in Chambers (but not the ODE, I see).

          I write as one who was trying laurel and diadem until I had all three common letters and slowly realised that it was an “in” clue…

          1. Steve, do you write all these new words in a little book for future reference, or do you just have a fantastic memory.http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_wink.gif

          2. Whereas it may be great to learn new words, very obscure little used words are not really of use to anyone and if as myself today you are doing the crossword in a doctors waiting room you do not have access to electronic friends, BRB etc. etc. (by the way I don’t consider that cheating) how on earth are you ever going to get the answers????…just saying :-)

  6. I thought this was very difficult today – probably near to 4* and the same for enjoyment.
    For some reason, not that I can see it now that I’ve finished, I found it hard to find the definition in lots of the clues and so spent far too much time on wild goose chases.
    1a took ages – now that I’ve got it I think I have probably heard the word, almost certainly in a crossword. I definitely haven’t heard of 3d and it was hidden in the middle and I always miss them even when they’re words that I know. 12a and 8d were my last answers and I was also slow with 25d. I think just generally slow today about covers it.
    I liked 19a (once I’d stopped trying to justify Horatio) and 6 and 17d. My favourite was 12a, eventually.
    With thanks and congratulations to Giovanni. Thanks also to Deep Threat.

      1. Look at the long diagonal from top left. And there are several sets of DM (Don Manley’s initials) on other diagonals.

        1. So it is – thank you! I always think of a nina as being round the outside in the sticky uppy bits – no wonder I couldn’t find it.

  7. Great puzzle – many thanks, congratulations and best wishes for many happy returns to Giovanni. It’s good exercise to have to dig into depths of one’s latent vocabulary as was certainly the case here. ***/****.

  8. I found this very tough in parts, particularly the NW corner. It was about 3*** + for difficulty when I called it a day last night. But having been unable to complete 3 and 4d, I suppose that really means it’s ***** for difficulty as they remained unfinished when I resumed this morning, before looking at the hints.

    As to “enjoyment” – I usually love Giovanni, but with things like 1a (never heard of with that meaning) 10a (just add “ers” to a verb?!) 12a (from the mind of a child with a warped sense of humour?) I would have to give only 2** for enjoyment

    But than again, as a newcomer to this blog, perhaps you can let me know how one measures “enjoyment” – for example, is solving (by construction, but not knowing one has the right answer) an obscure or unknown word all part of the enjoyment?

    1. I’m sure everyone has their own way of deciding how enjoyable a crossword is. I quite like one with new words – I may not always remember them but at least the next time they come up I can usually tell that I’ve ‘met’ them before. I’m more likely to come across new words on a Friday than any other day of the week although Sundays come a close second. The thing that increases the enjoyment more than anything else for me is something that makes me laugh or, even better, makes me giggle for the rest of the day whenever I think of it. That’s why I love alternate Thursdays when it’s Ray T. Jay’s Wednesday crosswords do it quite a lot too.

      1. I agree with you Kath about enjoyment equals a laugh or smile, just a pity you had to include my nemesis!

      2. That’s it in a nutshell! I just enjoy crosswords, whether I can do them or not, I like the workout and learning new words.http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_good.gif

  9. Rating 3*/3.5* (would have been 4* without 3d!).

    The NW corner took me longer than the rest of puzzle with 3d my last one in. I hadn’t helped myself by putting artery for 2d as my first answer. Well it sort of fits : RE reversed inside ARTY giving you an internal passage in the body!

    I always thought a singular wise man was a “magus”, but BRB confirms “mage” is OK too.

    Favourite of many contenders – 19a.

    Many thanks and congratulations to the Don. Another Don (Bradman) would have been delighted with 500 not out. Thanks too to DT for the review.

    1. Bradman in the FT is Giovanni in disguise. And there are a few other Don’s compiling crosswords!

  10. I think it was the quantity and wordiness of the clues in this celebration puzzle (congratulations to Giovanni) that made it take 3* time as the only word I hadn’t heard of was 3d.

    Thanks to Giovanni for the crossword and to DT for the explanations.

  11. Oh, dear. Eight clues left unsolved. Not a happy camper.

    Many thanks to DT for the badly needed explanations. Congratulations to Giovanni on this 500th anniversary. Off to get bloodwork done now, the enjoyment level of which will be on a par with tussling with this puzzle.

    Grumpy Chris.

  12. Obviously Giovanni has been given a new dictionary of obscure words! 1a, 2d, 28a and 4d are all new at least to me along with 17a and 18d in the ‘quick’ crossword.
    For me today’s was def a 4star for both difficulty and enjoyment.
    Thx all round.

  13. 1st pass, only two in. 18d has a clue eleven words long for a two word answer. Is this a record?

      1. But you get at least two cryptic clues for the price of one! “Fellow that’s set up” would do for one – based on the term for a university fellow – I didn’t pick up it was his title as well! “Number 500” would do for another. Must have thought the alternative clues were too good to waste either of them. Anyway, well worth the 11 words for the entertainment value..

        1. I wrote the first post incorrectly. Yes it is two clues in one and I appreciate that. It is unusual to have such a wordy clue for a three letter word though.

  14. Tricky little number today agree with the DT score -thanks for the entertaining pics , thought the elusive 3d must be a hidden word, confirmed by the dictionary , as was 28a, also came in useful for the ‘fey’ bit of 25d -thought this clue was on the limit. Noted the Rabbit Dave comment regarding Magus and Magi, but my dictionary said a Mage was a magician not a wandering Zoroastrian Priest on a mission!

  15. My word this took some doing. I’ve never heard of 3 down either, but the answer is rather like the word diadem, which is a sort of wreath for the head. Can someone please explain to me what reeled has to do with swam in 23 across? Thank you setter & DT without whose help we would have given up by now.

  16. 21a is a bit risque isn’t it?

    What with these PC days and all that – ‘Matrimonial Duties’ = ‘???’ http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/icon_rolleyes.gif

    1. Matrimonial duties they are. They consist of “Midnight At The Oasis” “What’s The story Morning Glory” and “Afternoon Delight” In the first stages of marriage it may well be all three each day. I am happy to perm any one from three every other day. This is not what a crossword blog should be discussing is it?

      1. Oh – “Afternoon Delight” – the Starland Vocal Band – in my top ten ever – takes me back to the most wonderful little deserted beach in Pembrokeshire in 1976 . . . don’t ask!! http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_yahoo.gif

      2. PS And as far as what a crossword blog should be discussing or not I think BD once told me that only bad language and libel were banned from his. Long may it last!http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_good.gif

  17. I’ve heard of the word for 1across, but associated it with an enlightening experience. However even my dictionary gives this other meaning too.

  18. I was left with 7 undone….

    I would normally be cheesed off at this level of personalisation and self indulgence, but I guess now we have been told that it’s his 500th puzzle here, I can forgive the amount of esoterica. He’s entitled to do his thing…..

    Could someone give a mini tutorial on these funny layouts, e.g ‘ninas’ and the entire alphabet ones, or is one expected to pick that up over a number of years? I have no objection to obscure terms as answers to clues, but I can get fed up with in-jokes.


    Also, what are the nicknames of the compilers?

  19. This is one of my favourite crosswords of the week so far. Of my favourite clues I would nominate either 12a or 24a or possibly 21a.

  20. Not one of my favourite crosswords but I do appreciate how clever it was, a bit tough for me and 3 to 4 star IMHO, one favourite, no sorry Kath two hee hee – 18d and 19a, thanks for hints DT wouldn’t have finished without them and congratulations to Giovanni http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_rose.gif

    1. I think Kath must be up the garden path as there has been no outburst to my wind up just above .

    2. Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear YET again to the pair of you! http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_negative.gif Wrong again on most counts.
      No, I wasn’t up the garden path so Spindrift is wrong about that. He’s also very naughty to have suggested that this was ‘one of his favourite crosswords’. Mary is wrong because she had two favourites but she’ll have to be forgiven as she’s right about not getting away with it.

  21. Thanks to Giovanni and to Deep Threat for the review and hints. A super puzzle from the Don, congratulations for the 500. I found this quite straightforward, but was beaten by 11a and 1a, which was a new word. Also learnt a new word in 3d. Favourites were 19a & 8d. Was 3*/4* for me. Lovely sunny day in Central London.

  22. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/smiley-phew.gif Whew! This was tough. First read through made my heart sink, but once I started, it wasn’t too bad, lower half anyway and it all fell into place nicely. The top right-hand corner then went in, and I was left with that top left-hand side. I never did get 1a and 12a, nor 3d. Like SheilaP, I thought 1a was an enlightening moment, as an eye-popping event.

    Good puzzle, lots of enjoyment, thanks Giovanni and congrats, and thank you BD for much-needed hints.

  23. Thank you DG and DT and congratulations on your achieving milestones today. I found this very difficult and within the time constraints I have resorted to 3 hints to get the puzzle finished. Very clever but too much for me !

  24. Needed 4 hints as well. Of which I should have got 11a (doh), but I don’t feel bad at all about not getting 1a or 3d!

    Thus rounding off a poor week for me, I think I was left with one missing every day except Monday.

  25. The NW corner was where we got held up longest in what was a fairly slow solve for us. Had totally failed to spot the NINA until we read the review this morning (our time).
    Thanks Giovanni, congratulations on your 500th, and DT.

  26. Very late commenting today – finished at my normal time, but have just been too busy to put fingers to keyboard.

    Congratulations to The Don, here’s to the next 500.

    Not easy today, but solvable – even 3D as the answer was there right in front of me and we were told it was included in the wording and it certainly helped to have a few checking letters. I must admit, the only time I’ve come across 1A it was involving St Paul on the road, but again quite solvable from the clue.

    See the DA pulled one back :- Daily Advertiser 2 : Crossword 3

  27. Like others before me, the NW corner took longer all the rest. Several new/unfamiliar words today.

    3.5/2.5 for me today.

  28. The more I look at it, the more it seems to me that 18d must be one of the most brilliant clues ever.

    ‘Fellow set up gesture of approval’ would be a good clue.
    ”Number 500 gets gesture of approval’ would have been even better.
    But ‘Fellow that’s set up number 500 may get gesture of approval’ is pure genius. A double cryptic clue underlying a plain language message that even manages to get his name into it as well!

  29. 1d damscene appeared in another crossword but that was related to an inhabitant of Damascus; never come across it as an ornamental process.

    2d threw me; had artery skilful(arty) soldiers climbing up (er) inside passage (artery).

    So NW corner was a problem

    3d I saw anadem but have never heard of it, didn’t check it and didn’t put it in; my fault.

    4d Canard is not a word I’ve come across much except french for duck.

    25d Had tune-in pencilled in rather than fade-in .

    After a good week, this was a bit of a come down.

  30. “Pride commeth before a fall”. We were away for a few days returning Friday. While on the return flight and suffering Cryptic withdrawal symptoms, the chap across the aisle from me turned to the crossword page in the Telegraph thus dashing my hopes of having it for myself. He really was making heavy weather of it. I thought to myself “Oh, for goodness sake…give it here. I’ll do it for you”. Mmmmm…just as well I didn’t ‘cos when I got home and printed it off. my God what a little stinker. 10* for difficulty. And smugness duly wiped off my face as I am going to need the hints.

  31. An interesting and very enjoyable puzzle: ****. I needed hints for 27a (didn’t know who the woman was) and 16d. I also needed the explanation for my answer to 17a, and the answer for 25d. Otherwise no problems. I always enjoy discovering new words, such as the hidden one in 3d. Clues I liked most were 1a, 10a, 19a, 15d and 18d.
    Congratulations to Giovanni, and many thanks for an excellent puzzle. And many thanks, too, to Deep Threat for most helpful hints and tips.

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