DT 27886 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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DT 27886

Daily Telegraph Cryptic No 27886

Hints and tips by Digby

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

BD Rating – Difficulty **Enjoyment ***

Having been lurking in the Blogger’s Back Room for many months it was indeed a pleasure to been asked by Himself to brush away the cobwebs and get back on the keyboard.

Is it just me, or has the DT become a bit slapstick in its management of their puzzles? I don’t recall so many instances of discrepancies between on-line and paper versions, and of missing clues, that seem to have occurred recently.

Today’s Giovanni does at least seem to be well presented, and is a good test of the cryptic craft, with the usual cornucopia of clever crossword clues, and some old chestnuts for good measure.

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.  Your views are, as ever, eagerly anticipated.


1a           East European briefly securing time in charge of party matters? (8)
POLITICS: Someone from Eastern Europe missing the last letter (briefly) with T(ime) and the standard abbreviation for in charge inserted (secured)

5a           Bit of change for officer? (6)
COPPER: Double definition, the second being slang for our lawmen

9a           Briton gallantly defends this monarchy (5)
TONGA: Hidden clue

10a        Bird in a spot, having lost tail in plant (9)
PIMPERNEL: Remove the last letter of a spot, often found on ones face, and insert a bird of the eagle family


12a        Those euros exchanged in treasury (10)
STOREHOUSE: A pretty straightforward anagram (exchanged) of THOSE EUROS to get you going

13a        Two metallic elements in minimal supply in rock (4)
CRAG: Put together the periodic table notations for 2 relatively scarce elements

15a        Artist ate out after work, eating bad stew (11)
RATATOUILLE: Start with a member of the famous art institution, followed by an anagram (after work) of the next 2 words with a synonym for bad (as in feeling) inserted (eating)

16a        Stretch out in bed maybe for story (3)
LIE: Double definition, the story being a fib

17a        Name given to an elderly relation? (3)
NAN: N(ame) and AN from the clue

18a        Improved performance needed by little man getting 0! (6,5)
TURNED ROUND:  Once I had realised that the definition was just the first word in the clue, this fell into place quite quickly. A performance, or “go”, followed by a shortened male name, and the  shape of an “O”. I read in the DT earlier this week that the abbreviated / nick-name versions of Christian names are statistically now more popular than the original – Jack, Evie, Millie, Charlie etc.

20a        One languishing? Vitality must be found (4)
ELAN: Hidden at the front of the clue

21a        Amadeus is one well-known in musical circles (6,4)
MIDDLE NAME: An example of a well-known person not always being known by their regular “handle”


24a        Something wicked, you might say, presented by the little girl reasoning? (9)
SYNTHESIS: A homonym for a dirty deed, THE from the clue, and a shortened version of a sibling

26a        Label the French used in presentation of information (5)
TABLE: A device that helps to file / find documents, then the French definite article

27a        Bear stopped short outside old city (6)
ENDURE: Drop the last letter (short) of a synonym for stopped and insert our favourite (?) old city

28a        Eastern isle occupied by extremely common person (8)
EVERYMAN:  E(ast) and an island off our west coast with another word for extremely inserted (occupied)


1d           River volunteers getting pipe down for chemical (6)
POTASH: Equally split: our favourite (?) river / volunteer soldiers / be quiet

2d           Nothing upsetting on journey, in a manner of speaking (5)
LINGO: Reverse (upsetting) nothing and add a word for a trip, or turn

3d           Path of car or jet moving into territory’s borders (10)
TRAJECTORY: Insert an anagram (moving) of words 3,4 & 5 into the extremity (borders) of T[erritor]Y

4d           Slide with outer coating slightly deficient (3)
SKI: Drop the last letter of our personal coating

6d           Responsible for maiden? (4)
OVER:  Double definition, the second being an example of this, hence the “?” We need a few more of these at the Oval !!

7d           Poster with a pleasant message (3,6)
PEN FRIEND: This poster is a particular type of correspondent

8d           Belief about brave man, soldier imprisoned (8)
RELIGION: Usual abbreviation for about, followed by a description for a brave man, loaned from the animal kingdom, with the standard US soldier inserted (imprisoned)

10d        I sport chest that’s exceptional — surgery responsible? (11)
PROSTHETICS: An anagram (that’s exceptional) of I SPORT CHEST gives a word which typically results from (responsible) an operation, usually involving amputation.

Analysis of this clue by several bloggers, who are clearly more awake than I was at 4am, suggests a category of the answer that hadn’t occurred to me.

In which case I feel that it merits an extra star for enjoyment, duly applied. 


11d        Entertainments not to be taken at face value? (11)
MASQUERADES:  Costumed balls involving an element of surprise

14d        Get so cruel, wandering around city (10)
GLOUCESTER: Another anagram (wandering) of GET SO CRUEL

15d        Vehicle running into grass put on new course? (9)
RETRAINED: This passenger vehicle is placed neatly (running into) the usual riverside grass.

16d        Person responsible for pub seen scurrying around after insects (8)
LICENSEE: Insects typically found on the scalp followed by an anagram (scurrying around) of SEEN

ken pulling pint

19d        Head of faculty holds this person to be lower in reputation (6)
DEMEAN: This person is ME inside a university officer

22d        US gangster and tramp contributing to book (5)
ALBUM: Another chest-nutty clue joining Mr C and an American “gentleman-of-the road”

23d        Rubbish piling up around hospital can make one thunderous (4)
THOR: Reverse (piling up) a word for rubbish around H(ospital)


25d        Anger with which father dismisses son (3)
IRE: Drop the first letter of a word meaning father

10d was the stand-out clue for me; a couple of mid-table anagrams helped to get me going in the early hours before dawn.

The Quick Crossword pun: Beaune+idol=bone idle


72 comments on “DT 27886

  1. I started off quickly with this puzzle but slowed down significantly and found it pretty tricky overall. Thanks to Digby and Giovanni ***/***

  2. A great test of my cryptic crosswording skills. Almost each and every clue needed to be teased out of its very tight shell. I struggled for an age with 10ac and when it fell I found it impossible to parse so thanks to Digby for that and welcome back. Thanks to The Don and thanks to all of you who help the days along for so many people. Have a nice weekend one and all.

  3. Started well and quite quickly but then slowed to a crawl and got stuck in the NW corner for ages. Needed help with 2d and 9a. Found some of the wordplay daunting but got the right answers.

    Liked 19d,15d and 16d.

    Overall enjoyable but challenging.


    Thanks for hints Digby and to setter Giovanni.

  4. ***/***

    The long anagrams got me started fairly well. In fact the LHS went in just fine, well almost. I didn’t spot the hiddens until I’d filled the grid in, but that’s OK.

    The RHS was trickier. I’ve no idea about some chemical elements so just guessed for 13a. Had to double check 10a.

    Good way to end the week.

    Many thank to the Don and to Digby for blogging. Welcome back.

  5. An offering well up to the high standard we have come to expect from a Giovanni. My only setback was getting hung up on Ned in 18a leaving Tur, Doh!
    Thought for a while it was going to be a pangram like his Quick ones always are but not to be. Almost but no Z.
    Lots of lovely anagrams but best for me was 24a. Unusually no obscure words or religious refs not than I am complaining you understand http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_good.gif
    Many thx to all.

  6. I think I found todays solve more difficult than I should have ,really liked it eventually with some excellent cluing .Took ages over 7d,then the d’ oh moment arrived. Liked 10a and 18a.Originally had ‘replanned in my mind for 15d,which fitted the clue reasonably well until I saw the light, thanks Digby for the review and pics-21a reminded me of the film which I loved,and setter for an enjoyable Friday .

  7. So so far above my pay grade.

    When I see the hints I can see that the clues are fair, but I was just not on the wavelength at all and suspect that I may never be.

    Thanks to the setter and to Digby.

    1. Beyond me too. Got a few words mostly in south east corner with only a scattering elsewhere. Needed help from this blog for the rest. Still don’t understand 2d. Must be brain dying again as quick crossword is also beyond me today. Perhaps too depressed by England batting.

  8. I thought this was quite tough. I must admit I had not realised 10a was a plant. 3*/3.5*. Thank you Digby and setter. With 10d I think the surgery comes first and 10d are fitted afterwards.

      1. Yes, I agree with you both. The “……….responsible ?” part of the clue was I’m sure meant to indicate that the answer is the result of, rather than the surgery itself.

      1. I thought it referred to a boob job hence the exceptional chest. Ex nurse Saint Sharon says that one would call breast implants prosthetics. Not a fan really. I like them perfectly formed

      2. Like Miffypops I took the prosthetics to be silicone-based and that makes 10d a very amusing clue. Thanks to Giovanni and Digby (don’t make us wait so long for your next review!).

      3. That was very silly of me – I suppose it’s because I’m not a bloke but the silicone -based ones just didn’t occur to me. Dim! http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/icon_rolleyes.gif That does make it a very good clue!

            1. You jumped in ahead of me, MP.
              They may well be part of a lady’s anatomy but it certainly seems to be men that have a ‘thing’ about them!

                  1. Lol Kitty, I’d totally forgotten about that series – I must’ve been nearly bang on 13 and three quarters when it aired. Of course the book was better but even so, I ‘connected’ with bouncing dreams.

                    1. :). I never saw the series – have only read the books, but remembered the song as it’s in my music collection.

  9. For some reason I didn’t have quite the fight that I usually do on Fridays, not that I’m saying it was plain sailing – 3* for both difficulty and enjoyment.
    1a was my last answer – spent ages thinking that the brief E European was a noun rather than an adjective.
    For once I didn’t have “lurking trouble”.
    I love 15a except when it comes to having to spell it.
    Thought to begin with that the 27a bear was a growly one so that took a while.
    I’m not quite sure what 7d has to do with a pleasant message – thought I was missing something but maybe not.
    I liked 10a and 11d. My favourite was 16d.
    With thanks to Giovanni. Thanks and welcome back to Digby. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_yes.gif

  10. I thought this was really difficult today. I did get there in the end without using the hints but was very grateful for the explanations. Even then, I had to read 18a several times before it clicked. Great clues, many thanks to setter and to Digby.

    1. I finished this in bed this morning but have just checked the reasoning for the some of the answers I had got. It was not until I read your comments about 1a that the penny properly dropped for that one! Thanks Cat

  11. Like many of my fellow contributors to date, this had several sticky clues which dragged me into 3/3 territory. Nonetheless, it was thoroughly enjoyable and I felt a real sense of achievement once it was completed. Many thanks to our setter for a fair but relatively tough head-scratcher, and to Digby for a fine set of hints.

  12. Excellent puzzle but I’d go higher than Digby on the ratings – 3*/3* for me.
    Definitely with Hanni on the bung in for 13a – only knew the silver bit – and with Kath on the inability to spell 15a!
    Missed the hidden at 20a for far too long.
    Had the two checkers in the second word of 21a and was trying hard to get ……/FACE for the answer. Think I’ll go with that one for favourite but there were several other possibilities along the way.

    Many thanks to DG and also to Digby – it must be quite a while since you’ve done a review, I don’t recall having read one of yours before!

    1. Hi Jane – yes it has been a while.
      Big Dave sent me the template overnight (I’m typically a paper-person) so I started to solve at 4am.
      Maybe that is a good time to do crosswords, as I definitely finished it in 2* territory.
      In the cold light of day, and bearing in mind many of the sentiments expressed above, perhaps 3/3 is fair, but I’m sticking to my guns.

      1. You can only say it as you find it, Digby – well done to you! In any case, none of us knows what constitutes the * ratings for anyone else so it doesn’t really matter. I guess it’s just a way of expressing an opinion based on one’s own solving times.

        1. ps. Any news from Nubian? It used to be a bit like “Statler and Waldorf” most mornings way back when.

          Nubian was definitely the grumpiest one.

  13. A minor quibble: in 2d the second half of the clue is a synonym of journey as a verb, not a noun. IMHO.

  14. A really good Friday tussle. Took a while for the penny to drop (groan) at 5a, which I needed to be sure 6d was correct.
    liked 1d but 15a has to be favourite. A good ***/***
    Thanks to DG and Digby.

  15. Quiet lunch today.
    Allowed me to finish in good time.
    I have a friend who ‘s first name is 10a.
    16d brought a smile. We are invaded by mosquitoes down here and I am forever distributing repellents to my customers.
    Makes a change from the bar flies.
    Favourite is 28a.
    Thanks to the Don and to Digby for the review.

  16. We thought this was, as usual for a Friday, quite difficult, but we managed to make a good fist of it, and only needed a quick peep at one or two of the hints to complete. Much better than yesterday’s for us, so I’m gratified to see that one or two of the other crossworders thought it a bit tricky especially after we must have been almost the only people in the universe to have found yesterday’s difficult. Thank you to the Friday setter and to Digby.

    1. Hi SheilaP and other solving partner. I too found yesterdays to be tough, just not as tough as Ray T can be. I still had to painfully prise the answers from the clues unlike the JUMPOUTATCHA clues earlier in the week. Todays was a grind as well which took a lot of teasing out but the satisfaction at the end is well worth it.

  17. I grappled somewhat with this particularly in the South but enjoyed the challenge. Thank you Giovanni and indeed Digby for clarifying some bung-ins for me. Landlord was initial thought for 16d but that would have been too obvious and thought of bible for 22d but couldn’t parse either. Took a while to settle for 18a. ***/***. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_good.gif

  18. Just completed this after an extremely busy morning. Really glad that I was not in the blogging chair, as I found it to be the most difficult Friday puzzle in some weeks. A wide selection of clue styles to choose from and some clever word play. No particular favourites but an enjoyable solve nonetheless.

    Thanks to the Don for the puzzle and to Digby for an excellent review. Can’t remember the last time I ‘saw’ you on the site – so welcome back.

  19. Hardest of the week for me, but enjoyable. Thought 18a and 10d would not be out of place in a Ray T puzzle. Thanks to all and have a good weekend.

  20. We thought this was pretty tricky on the whole and go for ***/***. Must have been on the wrong wavelength is all.

    10d by far and away the best clue of the lot.

    Thanks muchly to Giovanni and Digby – nice to see you back.

  21. I found quite doable actually , especially the NW corner.The only problem was 18a, which I didn’t get.My favourite is 21a, and now that the double entendre of 10a has been pointed out , I appreciate that too. 10a came to mind fairly quickly, from some old black and white movie.
    Thanks Digby and Giovanni.

  22. I can’t believe it, a RayT and now a Giovanni that I have been able to complete two days in a row. I must be improving.
    I do remember 10a in a puzzle a little while ago.
    18a was pencilled in without having any idea why so needed the hint.
    I quite liked 7d and 21a.
    Thanks to Giovanni, and to Digby for the much-needed enlightenment at 13a and 18a.

  23. For the first time for ages I had to come through to blog to help me, my brain has given up and I needed Digby’s masterly assistance – thank you. Severely bruised ankles where I kicked myself for being so stupid, it looks all so easy when you see the answer explained. Thanks to the Don, back into my shell to have a little sob. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_cry.gif

    1. As long as it’s just the ‘shell’ and not the cupboard under the stairs, Hilary. I seem to remember that there’s a suspicion that poltergeist are making free with your tissues in there! http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_sad.gif

  24. I can understand the 3* difficulty mark, but actually completed (just) within 2* time. From my standpoint, therefore, 2*/3.5*. 10a gets my vote as favourite clue. Many thanks to Giovanni, and to Digby for the review.

  25. We loved it and found it tricky at the same time.
    Off to Liguria next week for a well deserved break.
    Thanks to the Don and Digby!

  26. Thought this was quite tricky and not very inspiring. Very few smiles elicited and a bit dull really. 18a took me ages to get. Give this 2* for difficulty but only 1* for enjoyment. Thanks to setter and to Digby for the hints ……my daughter’s black labrador is called Digby….

      1. Oh good, Pommers. Glad you feel the same. It was looking as if I was out of step (as usual) as most others seemed to find it really enjoyable.

        1. 10d was the bright spot once the penny dropped on the “exeptional chest” bit – Pamela Anderson sprang to mind, but I’m just a dirty old man http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_wink.gif

          1. Very springy, Ms Anderson certainly was.
            And nothing wrong with being a DOM, IMHO, unless over-exposed.

          2. Well, that completely passed me by! As a podiatrist, i was completely thinking of artificial limbs, and various other devices for correcting problems with walking. Its all in the mind you see…………

  27. We thought this was a really good puzzle. It took us about the usual time that we expect to spend on a Friday and we found plenty to smile about.
    Thanks Giovanni and welcome back Digby.

  28. I found this quite a bit trickier than the last few Fridays have been – but also more fun. It required some proper pondering but wasn’t impossible: I nearly resorted to cheating, but the pesky triplet that held me up fell after I took a break.

    10d was unusually playful for the Don, and (as might be expected) was not lost on me. Great thread on comment 8 – thanks to all who chipped in there for giving me a good chuckle.

    Thanks to Digby – and welcome back to the Blogger’s Seat. Thanks too to Giovanni.

  29. Too tricky for me, not helped by again having only a short time available. I was left with 19 unsolved clues by the time I had to leave.

    The few I did solve suggested that this was probably a very good puzzle that I’d have enjoyed greatly had I had more time to devote to it although I suspect I’d have not completed the grid.

    Four/three for me.

  30. I enjoyed this Friday’s challenge. Most of the clues needed to be teased out and only then did the simplicity become apparent. The expression ‘Oh for goodness sake’ was oft heard! Well I think it was ‘for goodness sake’……
    I liked 28a and 11d – I think the latter was actually my favourite and overall, 3/4*
    Thanks to the Don and to Digby for his review.

  31. Thanks to Giovanni and to Digby for the review and hints. A very enjoyable puzzle, but very tricky. Needed 6 hints to finish. Would never have thought of any of them. Was 4*/2* for me.

  32. With the boat currently moored in Uxbridge, decided to spend my short weekend on it, so I’m writing this on my phone. I’ll keep it brief for once. Loved the puzzle, 18a takes the Ballon d’Or. Many thanks to the Don for a stiff challenge and to Digby, whom I’ve not read before – come back soon. 3/4

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