DT 27759 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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DT 27759

Daily Telegraph Cryptic No 27759

Hints and tips by Pommers

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

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

Hola from the Vega Baja where it’s nice and sunny but there is what my Grandad used to call a “Lazy wind”. It’s too idle to go round you so it just goes straight through you!

What put this puzzle into 3* territory is that some of the synonyms are really stretching things to the limit. To be fair though if you look up the answers in a thesaurus you’ll always find the definition from the clue listed as a synonym so one can’t really complain. I enjoyed the head scratching (nits perhaps?) but I’ll be interested in your comments.  I don’t know who the setter is but I have my suspicions.

As usual the ones I liked most are in blue.  The definitions are underlined in the clues and the answers are under the “click here” buttons.  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           Producer of stamps in Spain? (8,6)
FLAMENCO DANCER:  Not only do these people stamp a lot, they also do a lot of rather weird wailing. One of the drawbacks of living in Spain . . .

10a         Tastefully restrict endless urge to check former bald patch (9)
EXPURGATE: Start with the usual two letters for former and then a word for a bald head and insert (to check) URG (endless URGe)

11a         In retrospect Bob Marley by and large a hero on screen (5)
RAMBO: It’s hidden (by and large) in Bob Marley but it’s backwards (in retrospect).

12a         What John Peel might have called house record previously (5-2)
TALLYHO: Not the DJ but the hunstman, subject of the song D’ye Ken John Peel.  An abbreviation for house has a record or count placed before it.

13a         Insecure United fans agitated with point (6)
UNSAFE: U(nited), an anagram (agitated) of FANS and then a point of the compass. I’ll leave you to work out which one.

15a         Remove prow from vessel to make another (4)
RAFT: Take a generic word for a vessel or boat and remove the first letter and you’ll get a specific type of boat.

17a         Twirls rake, with mine about set to go west (10)
PIROUETTES: Start with a rake or libertine and place around it (about) a slang term for a coal mine.  Then TES (SET to go west).

18a         Urbane sect I quit without a cent (10)
CULTIVATED: Another word for a sect followed by I (from the clue) and then a word meaning quit or left but with A and C(ent) removed (without).

20a         Sharapova’s losing start causing strain (4)
ARIA: Take the first letter off her Christian name (losing start) and you’re left with a strain or song.

22a         Head of Penguin right to sack author (6)
PROUST: Head of Penguin is a P so start with that.  Then it’s R(ight) and a word meaning sack or expel and you get a famous French author who was born in 1871.  He had this unlikely set of Christian names – Valentin Louis Georges Eugène Marcel

23a         Got away with drugs wearing part of Superman costume (7)
ESCAPED: Start with one of the usual drugs and then an S because it’s plural. Then an adjective describing someone wearing the most famous bit of Superman’s costume.  You know, the wotsit crusader.

26a         Quality  cup of tea? (5)
THING: Double definition?  The second is another way of saying “It’s my cup of tea” or “it’s my bag”.  I think it must be a double definition but I can’t see how the first bit works. Perhaps someone will enlighten me.

27a         Express can unexpectedly echo opinion (9)
UTTERANCE: A word for express or say followed by an anagram (unexpectedly) of CAN and then what echo represents in the NATO phonetic alphabet.

28a         Gently embracing Dicky her date in jest (14)
LIGHTHEARTEDLY: Start with a word meaning gently, think touch, and insert an anagram (dicky) of HER DATE.


2d           Collar partly tailored from chinchilla pelt (5)
LAPEL: It’s another hidden answer. At least this one isn’t reversed.

3d           Meagre try intermittently meeting resistance and torment (6)
MARTYR: The alternate letters (intermittently) of MeAgRe TrY followed by the symbol for electrical resistance.

4d           Elton with a piano cut short broadcast from somewhere in Italy (10)
NEAPOLITAN: Anagram of ELTON with A PIAN(o) (cut short) gives a person from an Italian city.  NAPLES if you want to know which one.

5d           Ancient history that could be all spin (4)
OVER: A word describing something ended or finished with could indeed be all spin, or medium pace. It’s up to the bowler really.

6d           Managed to get into terrible rage in class (7)
ARRANGE:  A three letter word meaning managed is inserted into (to get into) an anagram (terrible) of RAGE.

7d           Performer after free ticket? This can be crushing (9)
COMPACTOR: A slang term for a freebie ticket followed by a performer on stage.

8d           State colour required for layer (5,6,3)
RHODE ISLAND RED: The smallest US state followed by a primary colour gives a layer of eggs.  This maybe a bit of a chestnut but I always like it.

9d           Cultivate pear hybrid to secure new funding (7,7)
VENTURE CAPITAL: Anagram (hybrid) of CULTIVATE PEAR with N(ew) inserted (to secure).

14d         Zero character shown in billet-doux (4,6)
LOVE LETTER: Zero in tennis followed by a character of the alphabet.

16d         Love line in continuous suite (9)
FOLLOWING: Insert (in) O (love in tennis) and L(ine) into a word meaning continuous.

19d         Showing  awareness (7)
INSIGHT: Double definition.  To get the first you have to split the answer (2,5).

21d         Southern concern about cold is rare (6)
SCARCE: S(outhern) followed by a word for concern or worry placed around (about) the usual abbreviation for cold.

24d         Corrective pressure on the way up (5)
PENAL: P(ressure) and then a reversal (on the way up in a down clue) of a way, or in this case a country road.

25d         Roobarb originally a French character (4)
RUNE: R (Roobard originally) followed the feminine for one in French.  Shame Roobarb wasn’t French or this would be a brilliant clue!

A lot of good stuff here but I think my favourite is 1a (not the video!) or perhaps 12a.  What about you?

Quick crossword pun:  SHEIKH  SPEAR  SHAKESPEARE


94 comments on “DT 27759

  1. Early again today and as Wallace would say ‘a cracking crossword Gromit ‘ best for a while for me anyway and fully deserving of a ***/**** aka Pommers. Liked 1a and 17a . Regarding Pommers and the double definition meaning in 26a for ‘quality’-what about she’s got this thing about her-ie a certain quality ? just a thought,25d jogged my memory of a PD James story called the casting of the runes ,always loved the word for some reason.

    1. As is often the case, Chambers Thesaurus is the culprit:

      Option 4
      * aspect, detail, particular, characteristic, trait, feature, quality, property, factor, element, attribute, point, fact, concept, notion, thought, idea

      1. As I said in the intro, “To be fair though if you look up the answers in a thesaurus you’ll always find the definition from the clue listed as a synonym so one can’t really complain”.

        Just ‘cos it’s there doesn’t mean I understood why though. I think Beaver’s got it right.

        Utterance/opinion was another.

        1. Well I would moan a bit still. Crosswords should not be about scouring a Thesaurus for an infrequently used synonym., in my opinion. This essentially means that the puzzle is difficult to complete if you happen not to have a specific reference text or an encyclopaedic database of synonyms in ones head.
          For me it should be about recognising the solution from adept wordplay.

          1. Totally agree George and although this crossword was in my opinion an absolute” belter”, it is so frustrating to see something like 26d holding you up at the end . ; and I might add I may not know my ” P’s and Q’s ” I certainly know my “T’s” there must be a dozen different types in my larder

  2. I thought this was a little tricky in places, but a most enjoyable puzzle to complement my morning coffee.
    Many thanks to setter (my wild guess is PJ), and to Pommers for the write-up.

  3. 26a is a bit obscure to say the least. “It’s my cup of tea” or “it’s my thing” can indicate quality I suppose. Apart from that I found the remainder reasonable and fair although 17a took some unravelling. **/**** for me.
    Thanx to Compiler and to Pommers for the review.
    Re: the Quickie, in the paper version it seems to indicate the first three clues make up the pun, but I can’t see how the third clue/answer fits.

    1. I wondered about the pun but if the third answer is included it doesn’t work for me. Wrong part of speach.

      1. I’m with Pommers on this one – I looked at the possibility of the pun involving three words, but ruled it out on the basis that 1a/4a gives a noun to which AN would need to be added to get the relevant adjective. The indication of the thematic content still works with just 1a/4a.

      2. While I hate to disagree with Pommers and BD, I am in the three-word camp, if only because the paper has italicised the first three clues, which it only does when the pun is more than the usual two.

        I think it’s fairly common to see the name of an author used adjectivally without modification: Hemingway novels, or Feydeau farces, for example.

    2. Not the best of grammar, but I interpreted the pun as Shakespeare roles (Rolls) – maybe I’m wrong? As for the main puzzle, I too thought it was an absolute belter and like many I spent far too long on 26 across.

      1. I’m with you Potato on that interpretation. Surely one doesn’t necessarily need the AN before the homophone for rolls? I dare to beg to differ BD – but have no doubt you are technically correct. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_unsure.gif

  4. A joyful expedition. Thank you Mr. Ron and Pommers without whom I just managed to complete. 26a didn’t work for me either – where does quality come in I wonder?Imagine Kath won’t care for 5d! Initially misspelled 4d in spite of it being anagram which caused hiccup with 10a. ***/***. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_good.gif

  5. I have been unusually busy for the last week or two, so either I’m low on time or the puzzles are getting a little more difficult. I only got half way last Thurs, finished today’s but quite tricky i thought. Liked 1a, Not overly convinced by 26a. Thanks to all.

  6. Just popped in to say hello. I left home before the paper came this morning and I won’t be able to do today’s puzzle until I return home tomorrow evening. Bye for now …

  7. Good fun but over too soon.
    Can’t imagine meeting all the people mentioned in the same place though.
    Favourite is probably 9d for the surface.
    The toughie is on the same level. Should have a go at it.
    Thanks to the setter and to pommers for the review.

  8. I agree with pommers about some stretched synonyms – and as I have said before, I am always disappointed by this in a crossword – but I find it is common on Thursdays and I am getting acclimatised! Having said that, I did not find this puzzle too tough. It took me a bit of thought especially on some of the 4 letter words. It was a case of seeing the answer from checking letters in many cases and then trying to unravel the wordplay in the clue – not always successfully!

    I would agree with 3* but it was nearly 2* for me in toughness – 3* for enjoyment today.

  9. 5D – I missed Pommers’ cricket connection in the wordplay, but figured that ancient history was “all over” – which worked with all being spun, or turned over. Maybe I looked at it too deeply!

  10. Very enjoyable puzzle today. Liked the variety of clues. Very much enjoyed ‘the old chestnut’ 8d. We kicked off very quickly and thought it was going to be dead easy, but slowed down considerably and agreed with the ***/**** rating. However, 25d rather bewildered us. Thanks to Pommers and the setter.

  11. I enjoyed today’s challenge. Admittedly there was nothing too demanding and the answers seemed to flow steadily once I got underway with 8 and 9d, with 26a being the final entry. I liked 17a especially and overall I rate it as 2*/4*.
    Thank you Mr Ron and pommers for his review.

  12. Just to be different, I am going to say that I thought this one had strayed into the Wrong Envelope – parts of it put up a proper fight and it took me longer to solve than the ‘Toughie’. 4*/4* – thank you to the Mysteron (PJ methinks) and Pommers.

    1. Please may I be different too? I agree with all that CS said.I liked it a lot except for 26a (I’m still not sure whether it’s meant to be a double definition or a cryptic definition) and 27a (where the ‘express’ and the ‘opinion’ both come from the same root). Thanks to Mr John and pommers.

  13. Hoisted by my own petard. After getting 1A, 8D and 4D (yes, I also spelt this incorrectly) very quickly, I thought this was going to be a shoe-in. Ha ha..little did I know.

    I have a gripe about 16. According to the BRB suite is a noun and the word given is followers in the BRB. yet it is used as a verb here. Surely that is wrong?

    Thanks to all.

    1. The answer to 16d is FOLLOWING, not FOLLOWERS.

      From Collins:

      Suite (noun) – a number of attendants or followers

      Following (noun) – a group of supporters or enthusiasts

      1. Yes, I know it’s Following ( I did put in followers, I admit).

        But I thought the BRB was the Bible and if it wasn’t in there then it didnt count ?!

  14. How odd to see the first word in the clue to 9d appearing in the solution to 18a … and they sit side by side each other (in the layout in the paper version)

    1. Please don’t put answers to a different puzzle in your comments. Other commenters have been courteous enouph to avoid doing that. The point you are making is implicit in the earlier comments, as is the fact that the first word is a noun not an adjective.

  15. Thursday and Friday crosswords are nearly always difficult for us, and we wouldn’t be able to finish without the hints, so it helps our confidence when crypticsue and Gazza find them a little tricky. Thank you to the Thursday setter and to Pommers.

  16. I’m afraid that I was several answers short of a full house here, before having to call in the electronic cavalry.

    Agree with what’s been said previously about 26a. It couldn’t really be anything else with the checking letters in place, but not very satisfactory.

    Was annoyed with myself at getting (eventually) 17a, but not 18a – the latter being far less convoluted, in my opinion.

    I suppose that the phrase “by and large” is just about justified in 11a, as we are talking about 5/9ths of the name of the leader of a no longer with us popular beat combo.

    I did like 5d (which I only sussed having had help to solve 10a), but favourite has to be 1a, simply so that I can tell you that flamenco dancers are ten a penny in Spain, so much so that there’s Juan born every minute.

          1. …but I’m sure you could find a Swede who does flamenco if you “cast a net” widely enough http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_yahoo.gif

  17. Thank you setter, I found that quite difficult, but I am not sure whether it was the puzzle or just me not thinking clearly after a rather unsatisfactory evening at a well known Yorkshire gastro-pub. A bit of a relief to see Gazza’s and CS’s opinions http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_yes.gif Many thanks Pommers for your review and hints – which I needed to check some wordplay explanations.

  18. ***+/****

    Eek. Despite having 1a and 9d pretty quickly, this certainly put up a fight. 12a had me reaching for Google and 26a had me reaching for an explanation.

    Also struggled with 25d and 10a.

    Really quite enjoyed it.

    Many thanks to the setter and to Pommers for a much needed and very enjoyable blog.

    After walking in shorts and t-shirt yesterday, today we’ve had snow. The moors are white in parts.

  19. Enjoyed, so thanks to all. Just wondering on the protocol of using a capital D for dickie in 28a?

    1. Hi Ian. The setter may capitalise words in the clue to mislead the solver but not remove capitals from proper nouns. That is the convention as I understand it.

      1. Thanks Kitty. I was certainly misled for a while. Didn’t see it as an anagram indicator because of the D. Did its job, I guess.

    1. Class is listed as a synonym of arrange in Collins thesaurus. Just about works works when both are verbs.

    2. To class is to arrange methodically, as a botanist might do with a plant collection, for example.

  20. An enjoyable crossword which I found a tad trickier than the ‘Toughie’. I’m in a agreement with several others about the validity of 26a but, hey-ho, it didn’t spoil my enjoyment. I think I’ll go with 22a as my favourite today.

    Thanks to the setter and pommers for his review.

  21. It strokes my ego just a little to see CS and Gazza saying this was a WED, since I could (almost) do this one without trouble. But as an abysmal failure where Toughies are concerned, I am pretty sure I wouldn’t agree were I to try today’s.

    This one wasn’t the easiest and I do agree about the stretched definitions, but I don’t think any were stretched beyond breaking point. After I had a few in, Mr Kitty came to the conclusion that he wasn’t going to like it and so changed the game from helping with the crossword to trying to distract me from it. It didn’t work :).

    So almost a complete win for me, but I didn’t fully understand 12a, lacking knowledge of that JP. John Peel the huntsman, I mean – not the JP/PJ we think is today’s setter. I also had to check the brb for my last answer which I really should have managed and so am not going to admit to. I don’t have to and you can’t make me!

    Thanks to the setter and pommers.

    1. I didn’t say anything about enjoyment, so will just add that I had fun. I deny rumours that I am a masochist. Favourite is a toss-up between 19d (but is it a double definition? I didn’t think so…) and 24d.

  22. This one beat me all ends up today. Managed about half then gave up. Way above my pay grade and for me into Toughie territory. Very little fun when they are this hard.
    Thx to Pommers for the excellent hints.

  23. Never seen 8d , but it amused me, before although some one I think referred to it as an old chestnut . Also liked 1 and 22a but so many good ones today ; thoroughly enjoyable ***/****

  24. Thanks to Mr Ron and to Pommers for the review and hints. I didn’t like this one at all. Definitely a WED for me. Almost impenetrable, lots of synonyms. Needed 6 hints to finish. Thought 5d was really weak. No Favourites. Was 5*/1* for me.

  25. Found this one a bit tricky in places. Got mislead by 25d in thinking it related to the old children’s TV prog amount a dog & cat called Roobarb &Custard so tried to fit French ‘chat’ into it! I agree with comments abou 26a don’t think it really works for me. Some other clues were quite straightforward eg 1a, 14d. I liked 8d – my favourite chickens! Give this one a ***\*** as I had to call in electronic assistant and Collins Concise. Thanks, enjoyable and an earlier finish than usual.

  26. I found the southwest quadrant very difficult. Had it been a toughie, I probably would have persevered more. As it was, I gave up and turned to the hints with 6 clues unsolved. On that basis, I can’t say I enjoyed it, but you can’t win ’em all. Thanks anyway, to the setter and to pommers for the review and hints.

  27. Started out thinking this was going to be R&W then hit a brick wall about 2/3rds of the way through. Took ages to unravel the anagram at 9d which meant that 15 & 26a were back-markers along with 16d and the first part of 28a. Really didn’t care for either 5d or 26a but thought the rest of the puzzle was great fun. 3.5*/4* with 17a as favourite. Put me down as another who can’t spell 4d correctly first time! http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_wacko.gif
    Many thanks to the setter – PJ? and to Pommers for explaining all the nuts & bolts of this one (and for refraining from adding a Bob Marley clip!).

  28. Found this quite tricky but managed to complete it albeit puzzled by 26a – from the checked letters it had to be what it was but, but… Will agree with Pommer’s 3*/4*. Took a while to get 8d as I was convinced that the third word was hen! 12a made me smile but my favourite was 22a, surprised? Many thanks to setter and to Pommers for the review which I need to check a few of my answers.

  29. I used the hint for 10a, and otherwise got there in the end . I looked up the explanations for 5d, 16d, 20a and I enjoyed the discussion about 26a. My favourite was 28a.Despite all the head scratching, it was enjoyably challenging. Thanks pommers and setter.Who is the suspect, by the way ?

  30. Threw in the towel with about half of this one done, so relieved to see that others on here also found it difficult.
    Thanks to Pommers for the hints and explanations.

  31. 26a was still unsolved when we turned our print-outs over and started on the Toughie. Further thought a bit later, and we settled for the only option that almost made sense to us. Apart from that it all went together without too much of a fight, possibly helped by the four long answers around the perimeter coming easily. We agree with the consensus on a possible setter. Good fun.
    Thanks Mr Ron and pommers.

  32. I was enjoying this until I ground to a halt on 19d and 26a. The penny eventually dropped on 19d but even when I’d concluded that 26a must be what it is, I didn’t like it much.
    Thanks to pommers for the review and to Mr Ron for the challenge.
    3*/ 3*

  33. Very enjoyable – but like Jane above in 29, I hit a very difficult patch towards the end. I managed without hints or electronics though, much to my delight, and came here agog to know the expert answer to the first part of 26a. I feel a bit disappointed there basically isn’t one apart from an obscure synonym: which is a sad end to this highly enjoyable crossword. (BD is exactly right to describe this sort of thing as “Thesaurus Disease”!) 3*/4* for me. Many thanks to the setter and to pommers for the excellent review.

  34. A real struggle for me, and, like others, I felt that the several strained definitions marred what would otherwise have been a very enjoyable challenge. The “Thursday Tricky” was not meant to be easy though !

    Stand out clue was 1a, pity that it took ages for that particular penny to drop.

    Thanks to the setter and to Pommers.

    1. I suppose that living in Spain I have an advantage. First clue, read it, look at the enumeration, write in the answer – about 10 seconds I would guess. BTW, I hate Flamenco, even without the wailing.

      1. If you hate good flamenco, might I respectfully suggest that you have no soul. Go across to the wrong side of the tracks in Jerez or Cadiz and make your way through the back streets to a real flamenco venue. They will make you very welcome. You will eat well, drink better and see guitar players who ought to be world famous. And then when the punters get up from floor to have a wail and a dance, the evening really takes off. I’d never buy or play a record, but en directo, it can be magic. I realise this is probably a minority view, but that doesn’t make it wrong

  35. After having about 3 hrs sleep last night (my neighbour phoned me at 1AM to enquire whether I could hear a dripping noise – it was raining outside..), I managed to go straight in with 1ac which always does my confidence the world of good. I got held up briefly in the SW corner but overall found it a fairly straightforward and pleasant solve.

    Thanks to pommers for some parsing that eluded me and thanks to the setter too 2.5*/3.5*

  36. Can we please put to bed this stupid discussion about the Quickie pun. I do the crossword online so don’t have the advantage of knowing how many clues are involved. Shakespeare works for 2 clues, Shakespeare roles works for 3 but is grammatically incorrect. How am I supposed to know?

    One thing I’ve learned is that I will never again include the Quickie pun in my blog. Someone else will have to add it.

  37. I liked this one a lot. Like many others I thought it was going to be a breeze after I got half way through in no time at all, impressing my fellow late-night train passengers with the fluidity of my solving, then I hit the buffers. It took two pints of Marston’s Pedigree to tease out the other half when I got home and at one point I was about to give up and consult Pommers’s excellent hints, but then a lightbulb moment on 16d saw me across the line unaided. Phew. Favourite clue has to 1a (I love proper, good flamenco, and so should you). 4*/4* for me.

  38. Even I gave up on this one so well done to the setter. Well done Pommers. I would have needed help to review this puzzle.

  39. Wrong envelope day for me I’m afraid. This was three beers long as opposed to the Toughie’s two.

  40. Eventually – 3*/3*. Very enjoyable challenge. 1a was my favourite.

    Many thanks to the mystery setter and pommers.

  41. Grrr! This crossword got us in such a rage! Nothing a double Scotch and a revolver wouldn’t solve however!

  42. have to agree that “thing” is dubious and that is being kind
    as for roobarb, i have never seen or heard this word before, it was obvious of course that we had to take the first letter, nothing cryptic about that but why the silly spelling?

    1. Roobarb is a character in the children’s cartoon series “Roobarb and Custard”. Roobarb is a green dog and Custard is a pink cat but who cares, apart from some children I suppose..

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