DT 27688 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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DT 27688

Daily Telegraph Cryptic No 27688

Hints and tips by Deep Threat

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

BD Rating – Difficulty ***Enjoyment ***

Good morning and Happy New Year from South Staffs where the day is starting bright.

I thought that Giovanni has set us a stiffer challenge this morning than he has for the last couple of weeks – well into *** difficulty for me.

In the hints below, the definitions are underlined. The answers are hidden under the ‘Click here!’ buttons, so don’t click if you don’t want to see them.

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.


4a           The cream to play against Wolves (4,4)
FACE PACK – Nothing to do with football. This is a beauty treatment that could also describe being in opposition to a group of wolves.

8a           Duck beyond river grabbed by some other bird (6)
PARROT – Put an abbreviation for River and the letter that looks like a duck on a cricket scorecard inside a word for ‘some’.

9a           Symbols in old books stored in country (8)
NOTATION – The usual abbreviation for the first part of the Bible inside a country or ethnic grouping.

10a         Conservative getting found out fell apart (8)
CRUMBLED – An abbreviation for Conservative followed by an informal word for ‘found out’.

11a         Payment covered by parent always (6)
RENTAL – Hidden (covered) in the clue.

12a         One in sheltered accommodation’s in Chinese city (8)
TIENTSIN – Put the Roman numeral for one inside a camping shelter, then add the ‘S and IN from the clue.

13a         Joker concealing name is a criminal (8)
GANGSTER Name inside someone telling a series of jokes.

16a         Urge fellow to be a correspondent? (8)
PRESSMAN – A synonym of ‘urge’ followed by a fellow or chap, to get a correspondent for a media outlet.

19a         Removes portions of text (8)
EXTRACTS – Double definition, the first being what a dentist might do.

21a         Cards shown round front of club to get such initially? (6)
ACCESS – This is an all-in-one clue. Put the first letter (front) of Club inside examples of a particular rank of playing card, then add the first letter (initially) of Such. And if you show your membership card at the front door of a club you get…

23a         Rural communities full of anger — they can kill people (8)
FIREARMS – A word for anger inside some examples of rural activity.

24a         Josh revealed as wicked in time (8)
BADINAGE – Josh is being used as a noun here. Put together a word for wicked, IN (from the clue) and a word for a period of time.

25a         Man in street unruffled (6)
STEVEN – A man’s name is made up of the abbreviation for street and a word meaning unruffled or calm.

26a         Thy meat’s going off — it’s purple! (8)
AMETHYST – Anagram (going off) of THY MEAT.


1d           Bend that may be seen in locks (7)
HAIRPIN – A tight 180 degree bend in a road, or something which keeps hair tidy.

2d           Amount of muck one found in ghastly loch (9)
GRIMINESS – The Roman numeral for one placed between a word for ghastly and a famous Scottish loch.

3d           Photos of work aboard ship (6)
STILLS – The sort of work that is done to soil inside the usual crossword ship.

4d           Getting established — it can be harder for someone with a big corporation (7,4,4)
FINDING ONE’S FEET – A metaphor for becoming used to a new situation, or something literally difficult for a fat person.

5d           Worrying about the heartless activity at event (8)
CATERING – Remove the middle letter (heartless) from T(h)E and put the result inside a word for worrying about something.

6d           What mountaineer requires is hint when ascending — to get on (5)
PITON – Reverse (ascending) a hint or clue, and add ON (from the clue).

7d           Men having beer after church — where this is sung? (7)
CHORALE – An abbreviation for church, followed by the acronym for soldiers who are not officers, and a variety of beer.

14d         Animals brought up and graded in different cages? (9)
SEPARATED – Reverse (brought up) some of the higher animals, and add a word for graded, to get an answer of which ‘in different cages’ is an example.

15d         One sent before time, left to go to collect girl (8)
EMISSARY – Remove the L (left to go) from a word meaning ‘before time’, and insert a form of address for a girl.

17d         Recover as result of fantastic miracle (7)
RECLAIM – Anagram (fantastic) of MIRACLE.

18d         Out on the field, puzzled? (7)
STUMPED – Double definition, the first being a method of dismissal at cricket.

20d         Bird that is half hidden sitting on water plant (6)
THRUSH – Half of TH(at) followed by an aquatic plant found at the water’s edge.

22d         Be established as transporter of football team? (5)
EXIST – The Roman numeral for the number of players in a football team, inside an abbreviation of ‘established’.

The Quick Crossword pun LITTER + ALLEY = LITERALLY

77 comments on “DT 27688

  1. I must admit I did not get the answers to 25a or 20d. Having seen the hints the answers are obvious but I was too thick to get there on my own. Took me a while to get started on this tough one. 26a was first one in. Couldn’t get my head around any clues before that. I blame it all on New Year celebrations or maybe not. Thanks DT for enlightening me. Have a great 2015.

  2. What a difference a day makes! Today my rating for this tough and largely unenjoyable puzzle is 4*/1* compared with yesterday’s 1*/4* :sad:

    Yesterday I was on the setter’s wavelength from the word go. Today I just couldn’t get on the right wavelength at all and really struggled with the whole thing, needing several hints from to finish. Many thanks DT for putting me out of my misery.

    I thought that 12a was an awful clue but 4d was splendid and my favourite.

  3. Stiffer challenge! That’s a bit like saying that Attila the Hun was unkind, it’s a real terror today. So far I have managed 3 answers, I got far more than that with yesterday’s Ray T. I usually really like Giovannis but today is a nadir as far as I am concerned for him.

    1. Finished after spending far too much time on it. For me 4/5 for difficulty and all a bit of a slog. Thx to DT for the much needed hints. Please Sir, no more of thesehttp://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_wacko.gif

  4. A bit of a grind today and I really struggled with NW corner.. 12a was sneaky – I now realise how little I know about China!- but I should have been able to work it out. Much more than a coffee mug’s worth for me today. Thanks for the great hints.
    For me 3*/2*. Chris – clearly you know the local legend about Little John’s grave being in my village!

  5. Definitely a tricky one today. It took me into my 4* time and I nearly gave up on it with just a few answers on the grid but persevered and managed to finish it. Thanks to Giovanni and DT ****/***

  6. Hard but enjoyable for me. Maybe because I was solving at midnight last night, whilst Skyping, on paper so I could doodle and allow myself the luxury of writing out anagrams. Bliss!

    (The Android app usually updates around 1:30am which is a bit late even for this night owl. Like others with only the app, I am denied access to the Toughie which I am simultaneously annoyed and relieved about. Friend with a puzzles subscription and crosswords delivered fresh to my inbox? I recommend!)

    I made slow progress but encountered no real problems. Did have to google the Chinese city, having worked it out. A puzzle of four quarters, my order was SW, NE, NW, SE. I liked 24a because I spent ages trying to put something inside something else before all was revealed to already be in place. 1d is probably a chestnut, but though I had the right kind of locks it stumped me for ages: it was the key (or lock-pick perhaps) to that corner.

    Thanks to Giovani Deep Threat – your work is much appreciated.

    I have lots to do in the next few days, so might have to go quiet on here soon. But not before I’ve finished and commented on Micawber’s NYE masterpiece – I am in awe.

  7. Cracking crossword but was it tough! Made me late for the gym! I realised early on the hidden meaning of corporation in 4D but needed check letters to get it. Still my favourite clue. 25 was last in as I was fixated on a man inside the two letter abbreviation for street meaning unruffled. ****/***

    Thanks to setter and DT.

  8. Thank you DG. Too hard for my liking ! I finished it but it took me ages. As I have said before, if I am struggling with a puzzle and it is taking far too long, the enjoyment level drops with every hour that passes ! Thanks DT for your review and hints – it takes an expert to decode that lot.

  9. Hard work and into 4* time for me. Not a lot of smiles either apart from the very ‘crosswordy’ joke in 4d.
    I am a little surprised that a stickler like Giovanni would be happy with a grid that has two nine-letter words with five unchecked letters, including a double in each. In 14d three of those checkers are vowels, adding to the difficulty.
    I also hate proper names in cryptics and can see no reason for 25a. At least half a dozen perfectly good words would fit with those checkers.
    Sunny but windy here and nearly beer o’clock!

  10. I found this so hard and so unenjoyable that I just gave up after solving 10 clues and I resorted to hints.4d is amusing.Thank you Deep Threat.http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_sad.gif

  11. *****/***

    I really regret giving yesterday a 5* difficulty score. This was 5*.

    I spent most of it completely 18d. An answer I got wrong…I pencilled in ‘stymied’. The cricket reference was blatantly obvious and still….

    Complete guesses included 12a, 21a and 24a.

    Many thanks to Giovanni and to DT for blogging. I certainly needed your help today. A lot.

    I think I need a lie down.

    1. I need a lie down too but probably ought to make a start on the post-Christmas mountain of washing – sheets, towels etc etc. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_sad.gif
      There again I suppose it could wait another day or two . . . http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_yes.gif

      1. The engaged pair don’t leave until Monday so I’ve got the perfect excuse not to start the grand clear-up until then. Somehow, I doubt I’ll feel any more enthusiastic about it by then, but it feels good for now. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_yes.gif

  12. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/smiley-phew.gifOh dear! To quote Craig RH “Disaaaaaaaster darlings”
    I’m usually on the wrong wavelength on Fridays but today I was worse than usual or just plain slow. 4* difficulty and 2*, at a push, for enjoyment.
    This has taken me ages and I never did get the blasted 8a bird because, in desperation, I had loaminess for 2d – don’t ask.
    Very few anagrams – unless I can’t even count today I think there were only two.
    I spent too long trying to put a man inside the street for 25a before I finally saw it.
    I liked 10a and 24a (reminded me of Wonderful Wogan) and my favourite was 4d – a bit like being pregnant!
    With thanks and a very Happy New Year to Giovanni and to Deep Threat – never know how long to go on saying that.

    1. You’ve just reminded me of my NE corner problems. I may have mentally blocked it out.

      For 2d I pencilled in ‘dirtiness’. I have no idea why but it clearly caused a few problems with 8 and 10a. Today was definitely on the fiendish scale. I did like 4 and 6d.

      I know what you mean about post Christmas ‘sorting’. So far I’ve taken the tree down. I’m ignoring the other stuff for awhile. :-)

  13. Yes, a bit of a challenge – I was stuck on 8a and 1d – I don’t know much about cricket and ducks, but I should have figured this one out without a hint. Then I realised early on that 1d must involve hair, but after I tried pigtail, which was sunk by 10a, I spent too long trying to think of some curly hairstyle not to think of the answer!
    Ah well. Thanks for all the hints as I certainly needed them today.

    4*/3* for me.

    1. A duck (or, more fully, a duck’s egg) is to cricket what a bagel is to baseball in your part of the world.

  14. Difficult today brain definitely not in gear. Favourite clue 25a but like others had to resort to google. Thanks to Deep Threat.http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_cool.gif

  15. Surely this should be a toughie. Not enjoyable at all, as we needed the hints for at least three quarters of it, When the blogger finds it *** for difficulty, than its way to hard for us. Thank you DT.

  16. Quite a workout this morning as I hadn’t a clue until 19a then SE corner came together.
    NW corner required some hints to finish including the Chinese city which I have never heard of before.
    Favourite 4d.
    Didn’t appreciate 25a.
    Thanks to Giovanni and DT.
    (Yesterday was a total failure! The previous night may have had some bearing) HNY to fellow bloggers, setters and reviewers :o)

  17. That was a bit on the stiff side. Don’t really know why though. As the answers slowly revealed thenselves I was left wondering why we didn’t get them immediately. Only two of the acrosses and seven downs on first pass.

    The grid was a bit “cornery” and the two nine letter answers less than half checked and with double unches http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_negative.gif ***/** from us.

    Thanks anyway to Giovanni and to DT.

  18. Slow start but gradually fell into place. ***/***, but no real smiles. Trademark Giovanni general knowledge at 12a which needed goggling to double check. Favourite 21a because of its all in oneness. Thanks to all.

  19. I thought it might well be just me that was struggling, so how cheering to find so many fellow sufferers! 4*/2* for me. Thanks to DT and Giovanni.

  20. Deep into **** territory for difficulty for me today. Like Sheila, I kept checking to make sure I hadn’t picked up the toughie by mistake. I needed the hints and tips to discover why 15d was emissary (I don’t think I have seen an instance where the insertion is in a different place than the removed letter (or group)). I hadn’t heard of 4a (though I am sure I should have) and so the NE corner was very slow in taking shape for me. I got there in the end, but I didn’t really feel a sense of accomplishment in having finished.

  21. Thought this was the most difficult crossword for some time and If yesterdays much more enjoyable offering merited a *** difficulty rating, then this deserves a *****,can’t say I enjoyed it very much as the word play to my mind was somewhat convoluted ,i did think however that there ere some excellent clues like 1D and 4A .Thanks to DT for the pics,just fed the pet 20D in the garden,seems to have developed a taste for Christmas cake and raisins-as have the squirrels !

  22. I expect to find Giovanni puzzles hard work (wavelength and all that!) but this was a real humdinger. Came within an ace of giving up on it and only pure b. mindedness kept me going. Could I just say that I NEVER want to have to wade through Google lists of Chinese cities again. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_negative.gif

    4*/1.5* with only a smile for 4a & 4d. Thanks to Deep Threat for agreeing that it wasn’t easy but still being able to come up with a consummate review and to the Don – please save those for the Toughie!

  23. A very difficult puzzle for me, certainly needed the hints. I rate this as 5/1 I thought that the use of a capital W in 4A was gentlemanly. I seem to recall a clue quite recently whereby the setter used the word Graves. He was deceptive because he was referring to the wine rather than a place of interment. He was clever as he made Graves the first letter of the clue thereby using the upper case without causing suspicion. I think 4A should have followed that pattern. My thanks to DT for the much needed review.

    1. Hi Graham. As one who is still learning the cryptic ropes, I had a grumble/posed a question about misdirecting capitalisation a few days ago. Gazza helpfully provided a succinct explanation of what is allowed in clues: http://bigdave44.com/2014/12/30/dt-27685/#comment-226405. Thanks to that advice I wasn’t fooled today by what might be regarded as an “un-gentle-Manley” clue (joke credit: Kitty)

      1. Thanks Mr Kitty, I followed your link and agree that the clue adheres to the rules. However after further rumination I still hold the opinion that the clue was unfairly constructed. When I look at the comments posted today it shows many thought this puzzle difficult. Deep Threat himself gave it a high level of difficulty. For him to to solve it in time to post his review deserves a well earned Pat on the back. Now is that a salutation or his he giving Mr Murphy a piggyback ride? Tee Hee!

        1. Didn’t mean to give any impression that I thought today was straightforward – I also found this puzzle extremely hard. In fact, after a struggle that yielded just a handful of answers I realized it would take me some time between all day and never to finish it, and so I gave up on this one (extra thanks therefore to Deep Threat for the explanations above). I thought it verging on impossible until I watched via webcam over the shoulder of my jokewriter as she solved it in a depressingly awesomely fast time. I agree that anybody who made it to the end today deserves much back patting. Now I’m wondering if “Pat on the back” could parse legally as tap?

          1. I agree with you Mr Kitty. Any way tomorrow is another day. I think I am losing my grasp of the surreal. Enjoy your evening!http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_yes.gif

  24. ****/*. A real slog and not a smile throughout. Good job it’s only 2 January because this was the least satisfactory puzzle of the year. Not really on the setters wavelength but thanks for the challenge nevertheless and to DT well done. I would have been 18d on a few of these without your help.

  25. Grumpy after too much surfeiting and then horrid crossword today !!!! Got 4d first, huh, too much stodge over Christmas and New Year ! Disliked 14d and 12a also 25a was uninspired clue. Realised what “josh” meant but hadn’t seen it as a noun. Oh dear ! Am feeling 10a ! ****/* sadly.

  26. It is a long time since we have spent as much time on a back-pager as we did on this one. It took us quite a lot of teasing out the answers but they did come eventually, and as ever from the Don, all were smoothly and cleverly clued. Appreciated the challenge and enjoyed it.
    Thanks Givanni and DT.

    1. Maybe you’ve just proved that ‘two heads are better than one’ – well done for actually ENJOYING’ this, 2K’s. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_good.gif
      Most of the rest of us are ready to http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_cry.gif throw a tantrum or slit our wrists. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_bye.gif

      1. Yup! This was a crossword that frequently made me say some ‘naughty words’. Ok it’s not as painful as Mephisto but close.

        The Toughie provides quite a few laughs today and is worth a look Jane. Not completed yet though.

        I’m so glad the newly engaged are back together again. :-)

        1. Hi Hanni, thank you for your thoughts – the engaged ones are having a great time and still have another four weeks together when they get back to the IOW. Hopefully, they will get completion on their new house and move in before Mathew has to leave again. I’m thinking the furnishing of same could take a while – they’ve spent an entire afternoon with two laptops running, sorting out which waste bin they want for the kitchen!!! http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_wacko.gif

          1. Ok…
            There are plenty of things in the heavens and on this rock we inhabit that I do not understand. There are plenty of things I do. This bin shopping thing is beyond my ken. I’m sure Miffypops said something about it as well. Has bin technology moved on in ways I’ve missed out on? Do kitchen bins have tricks? Is my bin now redundant and I need to upgrade to the 4.0?

  27. Too clever by half for me. No fun so I resorted to BD for the answers to about six clues.
    The most time I want to invest is two cups of tea and a digestive if the boss allows.

  28. Definitely in toughie category for me today. Quite a sense of achievement when the last penny dropped, quite a pile of them on the floor.
    Quite a heavy use of the electronic gadgetry, but no googling or hints. Phew!

  29. I think I quite enjoyed this today although it certainly needed a lot of perservating ,as Mary would say . I felt like throwing in the towel many times but just kept at it and it slowly unravelled corner by corner, SW, SE, NE and finally NW. I have to say that once getting the answer I appreciated the cleverness of the clues.

  30. Certainly a toughie, needed quite a lot of help from here especially for Chinese cities I have never heard of… Glad I am not alone in thinking this was far harder than the suggested 1* on the Telegraph site.

  31. Definitely harder than usual. Happy to see this is the consensus, for a while I thought I’d fried my brains over new year. Well, maybe I did.

    Many thanks Giovanni and dt

  32. Phew I’m glad it was not just me struggling. Lots of electronic help and a few rather naughty words uttered along the way but I got there and was delighted to find that when I logged into the blog I had got it right. Before the blog I would have said a naughty phrase and given up now I persevere and it feels marvellous. Well into five stars plus for difficulty and equal enjoyment. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/smiley-phew.gif

  33. Absolute debacle for me! Only got a few clues. Thought I had lost my mind overnight. No fun at all. Enouh to put one off solving cryptic puzzles…

    1. Sorry, lost my temper! Forgot in the process to thank DT for the review and the setter for sadly a puzzle beyond me!

  34. This was a challenge for sure as everybody has commented but I must say I enjoy these sort of puzzles. There is so much satisfaction to be gained from teasing out an answer; be it at the time or later. However I was beaten by 25a, because like Roger I too was trying for a synonym for unruffled. Curses!
    Thank you to the Don for a stiff examination and DT for explaining it all.

  35. A decent struggle. ***/*** for me. Not helped by 12a. I did not know the city and although I had all the letters from the clue,I could not put them together in the right order. Not helped by failing to get 1 d. I was on the right lines with hair, but for some odd reason could not think of “hairpin”. Many thanks to DT and DG.

  36. Satisfying to have finished this without needing the hints, especially as I found it at the top end of the back page trickiness scale. It is satisfying when made up words turn out to be correct (12a). Didn’t think much of 3d or 15d, but 4d more than made up for them! Thanks to DG for the workout, and to DT for the review.

  37. All went very well and quickly but ended up with just 5a.
    Never heard of it and don’t understand why this particular abode needs the adjective ‘sheltered’
    Still, all very enjoyable.
    Many thanks Giovanni and DT for the review.

  38. My goodness I couldn’t come to terms with this Giovanni offering at all and in fact called it a day with less than half completed but am relieved to find I wasn’t alone in my negative feelings. Southern half was a reasonable challenge but the least said about the top half the better. My first *****/* rating ever. Thanks DT for putting me out of my agony. Things can only get better! http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/smiley-phew.gifhttp://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_negative.gif

  39. Did the toughie first (which was much more fun) so didn’t start this until later and then had to put it aside until the work day was over. I’ve just finished…well, almost finished, since 14D and 25A got the better of me. I was pleased to have worked out 12A all by myself, though that’s more a reflection of the setter’s skill than my talent. I though ’till’ as a synonym for ‘work’ in 3D was very tenuous and the answer for 5D, though clear from the clue, was bit too loosey goosey for my taste. I did like 4A, 24A, 1D and 4D. Definitely more challenging overall than recent Giovanni offerings, I agree, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. Thanks to G. and to DT for the review.

  40. Gusting 4* difficulty, but well worth the effort – say 3+*/3*. Some clues were more demanding, but 4d made me smile so gets favouritism. Ta to Giovanni for the work-out, and to DT for the review.

  41. It seems to me that, after a trickier than normal RayT yesterday and then this rascal today, Phil McNeil has asked the setters to up the ante for 2015. If so, then pin yer ears back, there may be trouble ahead – I look forward to it http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_smile.gif

    1. Grumble as we might on any given day, we won’t improve without challenge. There still has to be provision for less difficult puzzles for those new to the cryptics, I think.

    2. Gosh, just as I am beginning to feel that crosswords are within my capability, someone moves the goalposts and I am back in the cupboard under the stairs. Will put in bulk order for tissues. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_cry.gif

    3. Setters may or may not have been asked to “up the ante” but, as is witnessed by today’s puzzle (27,689), you better believe they will keep the prize one simple in order to obtain the maximum number of names for their mailing list! http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_smile.gif

  42. What a slog! But I think a fair challenge that was a little beyond me. I had to resort to a handful of hints. 4*/3*

    Many thanks to Giovanni and Deep Threat for the much needed hints.

  43. Usually after 8-10 clues go in , it tends to sort itself out , given the odd clue , but this one beggars belief : did someone mention 1* difficulty !!! I think they must have been referring to the quickie . I sincerely hope this is not an arbinger of doom for 2015. – * for enjoyment. Happy new year to all

  44. Having had a few days away, I’m playing catch up. This was one of those puzzles that needed two sittings although when I returned to last night after a not very successful attempt earlier in the day, the rest of it fell into place steadily. The Chinese city was my last one in and quite solvable despite me not having heard of it before.
    Overall I’d put it at 4*/3* with 4d raising a chuckle as my favourite.
    Thanks to Giovanni for the mental workout and to DT for the review.

  45. Usually complete them but couldn’t do any of this.
    Became a grandma yesterday. Must have addled my brain

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