DT 27904 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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DT 27904

Daily Telegraph Cryptic No 27904

Hints and tips by Deep Threat

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

BD Rating – Difficulty ***Enjoyment ***

Good morning from County Mayo, where we’re visiting my sister, on a damp Irish morning.

As with last week’s Giovanni, I took a little time to get into today’s puzzle, but the fair cluing meant that after I’d finished I wondered why it had taken so long.

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.


1a           Tear off to be entertained by thin relation (5-4)
GREAT-AUNT – Anagram (off) of TEAR inside a word for thin.

9a           Clothes are left, found behind a piano more than once (7)
APPAREL – A (from the clue) followed by two instances of the abbreviation for the musical symbol piano, ARE (from the clue) and Left.

10a         Attribute of a writer (7)
ASCRIBE – Split (1,6) this verb meaning ‘attribute’ could be ‘a writer’.

11a         Time to argue for disloyalty (7)
TREASON – An abbreviation for Time followed by ‘to argue’ or work through.

12a         Virtue of a disciplined pet (9)
FAVOURITE – Anagram (disciplined) of VIRTUE OF A.

14a         Strange folk dances led by old theologian (8)
ODDBALLS – Put together Old, the letters a theologian might have after his or her name, and formal dances.

15a         Fool is last to accept help (6)
ASSIST – Another word for fool followed by IS (from the clue) and the last letter of accepT.

17a         A piano in small room is used by a star (7)
CAPELLA – A (from the clue) and the musical abbreviation for piano (again!) placed inside a small room occupied by a prisoner or a monk, then the second A from the clue, giving the name of a star in the constellation Auriga, the third brightest in the northern hemisphere (thank you Mr Google).

20a         One shouldering heavy burden — tons at the end (2,4)
AT LAST – The mythical figure (5) who had the cares of the world on his shoulders, followed by Tons.

23a         Don’t yet try to kill the fellow hugging ancient tree! (4,4)
HOLD FIRE – Synonyms for ‘ancient’ and ‘tree’ placed inside the pronoun for ‘the fellow’.

25a         Coming by northern river for exciting experience (9)
ADVENTURE – A coming or arrival followed by the North Yorkshire river which flows through Ripon and Boroughbridge.

26a         One of three kids scattering litter round front of park (7)
TRIPLET – Anagram (scattering) of LITTER wrapped around an abbreviation for Park.

27a         Greek character thus joins leader of Gang Show (7)
MUSICAL – The 12th letter of the Greek alphabet followed by the Latin word for ‘thus’ and the first name of a famous US gangster.

28a         Hair that could be inch long with initial cut (7)
CHIGNON – Anagram (could be) of INCH and (L)ONG, with its initial letter removed.

Image result for chignon

29a         Quality of ungainly person offering weak signs taken amiss (9)
GAWKINESS – Anagram (taken amiss) of WEAK SIGNS.


2d           Allocates new chairs to each in the course of breaks (7)
RESEATS – An abbreviation of EAch placed inside breaks or pauses from work.

3d           Possible claim of abbot’s number two, based on logic (1,6)
A PRIORI – Split (1,5,1) this Latin phrase could be a Yoda-ish statement of his position by an abbot’s deputy.

4d           A right uninteresting person leading volunteers in the woods (8)
ARBORETA – Put together A (from the clue), Right, an uninteresting person, and the former initials of the UK’s volunteer reserve force.

5d           Food should be put under grill? Not egg (6)
TASTED – Remove the egg-shaped letter from a word for ‘put under the grill (especially bread).

6d           Essence of sung message to encourage escape of Prince in vessel (9)
SPEEDBOAT – Remove the inessential words from the first line of the Skye Boat Song to get a motorised vessel.

7d           What could make lass cry in a silly manner? (7)
CRASSLY –Anagram (could make) of LASS CRY.

8d           Area misunderstood puts learner in annoying situation, awkward position (5,4)
BLIND SPOT – Put the symbol of a learner driver inside an annoying situation or dilemma, then add an awkward position, as in ‘He’s in a ____’.

13d         Rose and Dorothy after upset were kept inside (7)
TOWERED – WERE (from the clue) inside the reversal (after upset) of a diminutive from of Dorothy.

15d         Designer of the thing seen in sly form of therapy (9)
ARCHITECT – The pronoun for ‘the thing’, placed between a word for sly or disingenuous and the acronym for a form of therapy involving electric shocks.

16d         Support for injury having got hit in fighting? (9)
SCUFFLING – Another word for hit inside the support for an injured arm.

18d         Lady Fortune, for Spooner, one no longer effective (4,4)
LAME DUCK – This term for someone whose effectiveness is reduced, perhaps because his term of office is coming to an end, could also be a synonymous phrase for Lady Fortune after Dr Spooner had mangled it.

Image result for lame duck

19d         Channel Islands in grip of evil Italian breaking the law (7)
ILLICIT – Put together a word for evil or bad and an abbreviation for Italian, then insert the abbreviation for the Channel Islands.

21d         European valiant in battle (7)
LATVIAN – Anagram (in battle) of VALIANT.

22d         Do better than basic success in exam after teacher is listened to (7)
SURPASS – A homophone (is listened to) of the traditional appellation for a male teacher, followed by the basic level of success in an exam

24d         Sailor chattering, not quiet at first (6)
RATING – Remove the initial P (not quiet at first) from a word for chattering.

The Quick Crossword pun: CHEQUE + LISZT = CHECKLIST

69 comments on “DT 27904

  1. Well done DT for finding the reference for 6d (essence of sung message)! I had absolutely no idea though the answer was obvious, so many thanks. That was the bizarre clue of the puzzle for me. I’m still not sure how you decide which the inessential words in the first line are.

    Otherwise it was ok, the clues I liked best, mainly for having a nice surface reading, were 12a (Virtue of a disciplined pet), 15a (Fool is last to accept help), 16d (Support for injury…) and 21d (European valiant in battle). I also like the “folk dances” in 14a.

    Many thanks DT and Giovanni

    1. Perhaps you just take the verb and the noun – the essence of the first part of the song. The rest just qualifies those two parts of speech.

  2. Oh, dear. 2*/1*. After two enjoyable Fridays in a row we seem to be back to normal today, but made even worse by the abysmal 6d. Only one word would fit with the checking letters, but without DT’s excellent review I would never have been able to parse this.

    I might tackle the Toughie later to see if that will entertain me.

    Kath, permission for a week off please.

  3. I only know one song about an escaping prince, so 6d was not difficult for me! ( Though it is not, admittedly, the most precise of clues). 3*/3.5*. Thank you DT and Giovanni.

  4. Some quite good clues. Got 6d without having the faintest idea why. Last in was 3d, with which I needed help. ***/**.

  5. Thought today’s puzzle was difficult ,have to agree that the infamous 6d was a bizarre clue or ‘toughie’ standard at best.I imagine it was a ‘bung in ‘ for most;i seemed to solve it in quarters with the SW being the last. Not sure about the rating, can’t really quibble with DT’s ***/***- liked the duck pic !, For once I liked the spoonerism so it can’t be all bad.

  6. Didn’t have a lot of problems, 6d did seem obvious but not convincing. Last one for me was 3d, I could only see it ending in “y” which doesn’t work. DT’s breakdown of 1/5/1 enlightened me,


  7. Sorry to disagree folks but 6d was one of my first in and definitely my favourite!
    Managed to miss the anagrams in both 12a & 21d until well after I’d filled in the answers (dim, as Kath would say!) and had forgotten about that sort of therapy in 15d, which caused a bit of head-scratching.
    Had to ask Mr. Google to confirm that my thought for 3d answered the definition – fortunately it did!
    Happy to go along with the 3*/3* rating.

    Thanks to DG and also to DT – that poor little duck seems to be coping OK with his ‘support for injury’.

    By the way, does anyone else find that they’ve got so used to the Don throwing in obscurities that they sometimes go looking for them without noticing the blindingly obvious? http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_scratch.gif

  8. It is not often I admit a total failure to complete a crossword – but today is one of those days. I could not get into the right train of thought on this one at all.

    5*/1* for me today, unfortunately.

  9. Thanks to DT for explaining 5d & 6d & 8d.

    Failed on all three! (Is it me or just poor clueing?)

    The Don wasn’t very charitable today … dare I say … not very “eleemosynary” ? Probably not.

    I didn’t enjoy this one at all!

      1. Not a word I’m familiar with but .. it was a word in the Giovanni Toughie this week.

        Toughie 1462

        I have most probably used it wrongly … but it was a challenge to use it somewhere.

        Definitely not down the pub!

  10. Yep, have to agree didn’t enjoy this one. It was a hard slog from start to finish. Couldn’t find any obvious anagrams to start with and only got about three answers from the first couple of passes so difficult to make any headway afterwards.

    Interesting words and parsing some of which were new to me and the parsing I wouldn’t have got without the hints.
    It is a Friday though….

    Thanks to setter and DT

  11. I made the SW corner more challenging for myself in having SLINGSHOT for 16d. SLING = support for injury, SHOT = got hit, and wasn’t it a slingshot in David vs. Goliath? I had heard of neither the star in 17a nor the hairdo in 28a which made detecting my error more challenging. It was fortunate that 26a was a gentler clue and that led me eventually to the right path.

  12. Really slow going but very good – once it was all over!!

    28a was a new one on me but it was the only word that my Wordsearch program came up with!

    Back to the Cricket – come on Engerland!!! http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_yahoo.gif

  13. Fascinating to see how our opinions differ but obviously chacun à son gout! I thought this was terrific – big thanks Giovanni. I raced through Southern half but had to put thinking-cap on in the North. Liked 1a, 15a and 23a but didn’t like 5d or 6d. Don’t really think of 7d answer as synonym for in a silly manner – rather more rudely – but went along with Chambers. Thanks for your hints DT which parsed a couple for me. ***/****. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_yes.gif

  14. Hmmmm and oh dear! http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_sad.gif
    It took me ages to get anywhere near the right wave-length toady so 3*+ difficulty and 2* for enjoyment.
    Could see that 12a was an anagram but read ‘pet’ as ‘poet’ – as I was writing the letters down and trying to think of a poet I even noticed that they spelt the answer! Dim – well, blind anyway.
    I’ve never heard of the 17a star and didn’t understand 6d but nothing else would fit.
    I think that 28a is a hair style not just hair.
    Enough – I liked the Spoonerism.
    Thanks to Giovanni and to Deep Threat.

  15. ****/**. I got 6d but needed DT to explain – thanks muchly. This was for me a dreadful clue and made me beg questions then about 17a which I also eventually got but again not a very satisfying feeling and because of questions around this one 13d became another debate. Tomorrow’s another day and hopefully better than this one.

  16. Not completely enjoyable nor particularly easily solvable. A bit of a struggle but got there in the end. I think I will have to go 4/2 for this puzzle, mainly because my last two in, 3d and inexplicably 12a, took so long. Thanks all round.

  17. Thanks to Giovanni and to Deep Threat for the review and hints. A very difficult puzzle, but I quite enjoyed the challenge. Needed the hints for 8&13d and 17&27a, couldn’t get the definition for any of them. I thought 6d was really weird, got the answer, but had no idea why. 28a was a tad obscure, but I remembered it. Favourite was 29a. Was 4*/3* for me. Nice and sunny in Central London.

  18. This bucked the trend of the last few weeks from Giovanni being quite a tricksy little number. I struggled with his toughie during the week and this went the same way for the last few clues. As DT has said, the clueing is fair but it all lacked a bit of sparkle for me I’m afraid. No particular favourite today.

    Thanks to the Don for the puzzle and DT for his review.

    Have a great weekend all.

    Now, where’s that Pinot Grigio…….http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_wacko.gif. Oops, silly me – it’s a Marlborough Sav Blanc from Aupouri (ASDA £5 a bottle)

  19. What a brilliant crossword, every clue a challenge but very enjoyable. Certainly not the easiest Giovanni but immensely satisfying to complete. For me ***/*****.
    Many thx to all.

  20. Something of a slog, but that’s not unusual for a Friday puzzle!

    Three pianos in one crossword is definitely two too many, and I have to join those who weren’t convinced by 6d (sorry, Jane!). I did like the Spoonerism though, if only all were as genuine as today’s example.

    Many thanks to Giovanni and to Deep Threat.

  21. Struggled with this one today. Not helped by working out 14a, and putting it into 10a in the singular!!! As it was my first one in, it took me a little while to unravel. Not a good start. Thanks to the setter and to DT. Loved 18d, and the picture to go with it.

  22. Might get to this one tomorrow. Been out for a long lunch (hic!) with pommette’s cousin who has a holiday home in Torrevieja. Now of to local to meet other visitors. It’s a hard life http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_wacko.gif

  23. Struggled with this but was determined to try to finish it without recourse to hints. Succeeded until 17a stumped me completely. The “bonny” vessel was next-to-last in and I find the clue clumsy, sorry ! Thought “essence” was meant to convey “seed” but, if so, rest of clue makes no sense, oh dear ! Liked today’s Spoonerism, though. Used to have a 28a and bought “hair nets” for it from dear old Woolworths ……..
    3*/2* for me today.Nose still hurting !!!! http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_cry.gif

  24. Really off wavelength today and only managed to solve half, even with help of electronic gizmo. I have given up and am now going to try to accomplish something a bit more constructive.
    Thanks to Giovanni and to Deep Threat for the hints.

    1. Hi Merusa,
      Caught up with your comment from yesterday – thank you again!
      Jane Duncan is an unknown for me, but quite happy to give her books a whirl. Any particular recommendations or just get what I can and work my way through them? http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_bye.gif

      1. She wrote a lot of books about Scotland, roman a clef. Some were good, some ordinary, mainly about her life in the highlands, called the “My friends” books. My friends the Miss Boyds, My friend George, etc. Her husband was sent to Jamaica as engineer to our neighbouring sugar estate, but he sadly died very suddenly, she then sat down and started writing. Her husband died when I was in England but I did meet her when I returned to Jamaica. Her book about Jamaica was called My Friend Sandy, with very recognizable people! Try them, but they are a tad lightweight..

  25. Hello, just discovered this site and I think it’s great. Missed the anagram in 12 across today but finished it anyway. Particularly liked the classic cryptic beauty of 26 across. Regards, Nick

  26. On the whole I found this pretty straightforward, but I was held up by a couple that took me into 2* territory. Thanks to DT and Giovanni **/***

  27. Like Deep Threat this took me longer than I’d have thought it should looking back at the clues. Quite a lot longer actually :(. Still, I found it a pleasant enough crossword but was utterly at a loss to explain my answer for 6d. Was thinking along the same lines of Mary Mary wanting SEED to be part of the wordplay. I suppose I should brush up on my Scottish folk songs. Or not!

    Thanks to Giovanni and to DT – especially for enlightening me over 6d.

        1. Oh dear – no, Kitty. We can’t do without you for that long. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_sad.gif
          Just go for the bits about the escape of Bonnie Prince Charlie to the Isle of Skye. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_yes.gif

  28. Judging by others’ comments, this is a regular Marmite of a puzzle. Well, l loved it. 2*/4*, l think. My last in – 27a – is my favourite clue. Thanks to The Don, and to DT for the review.

  29. Aargh that was tough, I thought 13 d was a new word for me swapping the w for an S. Oops. Rating would be ****/**** I confess to liking them awkward! Thanks for the hints and tips, explained a few dodgy write-ins

  30. Slightly on the tricky side so not a quick solve and well put together as Giovanni puzzles always are. Really enjoyed 6d, a different type of clue to what we are used to but I saw it quickly. The only problem is that the song has become an ‘ear worm’ ever since. Plenty to enjoy and appreciate.
    Thanks Giovanni and DT.

    1. I didn’t get it, but when I read DT’s hints, I thought “what a clever clue”! I loved it, just too hard for me.

  31. Back at Hertford visitor moorings to tackle this difficult offering from the Don. The first half went in after the asparagus, but the duck interrupted the solve. After gooseberry fool I returned and found myself well and truly stumped for a while. Got there in the end, but needed the hint for 17a. Favourite clue: 6d (was my childhood lullaby, even though my family were staunch Protestants). Least favourite: 17a. Many thanks to DT for sorting out the parsing of 15d and 17a, and to the Don for an enjoyably rigorous challenge. 4*/3*.
    Now, where did I leave the rest of the Abelour..?

    1. 6d was my lullaby as well – sung by my grandmother, who came from a staunchly Protestant Irish family!

  32. I thought this was a bit of a stinker! A bit of a Parson’s Egg puzzle for me! Managed to finish it, apart from 5d and 13d for which I needed the hints, but for some answers, I had no idea why! I Thought 13d was a horrid clue….who gets towered these days?….I Had ‘ togated ‘ in there for a while. However there were some clues I liked especially 3d,4d and 18d and 9a. Thought 5d was a bit dodgy, ……since when has O been egg- shaped? All in all I did not enjoy this and found it rather heavy going, but not in a challenging way, just a bit of a slog. But the good clues made up for it. 3*/2* thanks to setter and to DT.

    1. O is egg-shaped in crosswordland: the figure zero appears like an egg (l’oeuf in French), from which we get “love” in tennis – and love, meaning O, appears in virtually every cryptic puzzle.

      1. Mmmm….thanks TS, I know the love, zero, and nil stuff….just never come across the eggy thing. I’ ll look out for it in future. Been trying The Times crossword on some days….not getting very far!!

  33. Strange crossword ? I finished it correctly but had to refer to the blog for quite a few explanations ? ***/** Although I found it difficult whilst solving it looking back there were some nice clues ? 27a, 25a, 1a were quite good! ?

  34. Here we are again, late but we’ve spent a million hours on the telephone to Virgin trying to get our internet connection up and running. We initially spoke to a very rude Antipodean fellow called Ben who had the outlandish audacity to hang up on us saying everything was OK….but it wasn’t. We phoned back and got a very helpful chap by the name of Ahmed who told us that Ben would get a serious ticking off come the morning. Ben suggested that the problem was something to do with Apple (Big Dave would probably side with him) but it wasn’t! Oh for the days when you had to stop at a telephone box, drag your last threepenny bits out of your pocket and found that the telephone didn’t work.

    Anyway, we found this tricky but entertaining, so we must thank The Don for the puzzle and Deep Threat for the hints and and tips.

    1. Thanks for sharing that with us. (Not aware of a dynamic validator that recognised such coins, but i’m not infallible)

  35. First reading did not yield anything but little by little managed to get into it. Completely failed on 1a as I had break away which I knew was wrong! Consequently also failed on 5d… Did not understand why 6d was what it was so many thanks to DT for the explanation. The star was a new one on me but it was easy to work it out from the clue. In all an enjoyable solve after all, so many thanks to Giovanni. I though 28a was very clever. 3*/3*. Thank you Jean-Luc for your little note the other day. Looking forward to being back in our other home. See you soon!

    1. Are you saying that you never managed to get the correct prize / answer from the cryptic clues on 321? http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_yes.gif

      Join the rest of us – what a terrible showhttp://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_negative.gif

      1. Some libellous person once suggested that the clues were interchangeable, so the prize was never won, how scurrilous.(jp please check).

  36. Just too many words outside my active vocabulary today, such as 3d, 17a and 28a. Completely missed the anagram indicator at 21d. Enjoyed the rest though. Favourite by far was the 18d Spoonerism.

    Those who come up with 2* rating for this one are either genii (geniuses if you prefer), complete crossword nerds or guilty of using terminological inexactitudes.

  37. I gave up on this one last night with fewer than half the answers in. Picked it up again this morning and sailed through! Needed the blog for 3d. Don’t think I’d ever have got that one. Also needed Google to check the star as I’d never heard of it either. Got 6d but to my shame, as I know the song and the history behind it, didn’t connect it so really had no idea why. Enjoyed it in the end.

    Many thanks to the setter and DT

  38. Didn’t know anything about 6d either.
    But guessed the answer from the checkers and the vessel bit.
    A completed grid nonetheless.
    Nice clueing from the Don.
    Thanks to DT for the explanations.

  39. This was tough but enjoyable. Only one answer in after the first pass but most of it yielded eventually. Had to give up on 27a; not too good on Greek alphabets nor gangsters plus I’d parsed it all wrong, so thank you to DT for the explanation.
    A couple of words new to me, 3d and 17a, but Mr. Google confirmed my thoughts.
    Favourite 6d (yes, I’m with you too Jane) – love that song and it’s a slightly different clue.
    4* (because I couldn’t finish it) / 3*.
    Thanks to the setter for a bit of a work out :)

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