DT 27907 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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DT 27907

Daily Telegraph Cryptic No 27907

Hints and tips by Gazza

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

BD Rating – Difficulty **Enjoyment ***

This is a pleasant puzzle with very smooth surface readings throughout. Do let us know how you got on and how you liked it. If you’re one of our many lurkers and you haven’t yet introduced yourself then today would be the ideal time to use the comment facility at the bottom of the blog to break cover and tell us who you are – we promise not to bite!

If you click on any of the areas showing ‘Click here!’ you’ll see the actual answer so only do that as a last resort.

Across Clues

5a Onset of hail — pergola may provide shelter (7)
HARBOUR – the first letter (onset) of hail followed by a pergola or shady garden alcove.

7a Wheel may show this as rake scoops in grand? (5)
ROUGE – a rake or libertine contains the abbreviation for grand. The whole clue paints a picture of a croupier raking in the chips of someone who has made an unsuccessful bet on noir.

9a Forcefully strike brick structure at work (6)
WALLOP – a brick structure is followed by the abbreviation for an artistic work.

10a Novel off pile I arranged (4,2,2)
LIFE OF PI – an anagram (arranged) of OFF PILE I gives us the novel by Yann Martel which won the 2002 Man Booker Prize for fiction.

11a Youngster could get rise in benefit? Just the opposite (10)
ADOLESCENT – ‘just the opposite’ tells us that instead of inserting a rise into a benefit we have to insert unemployment benefit into a rise or climb.

13a Herb, reportedly, in thickening agent in sauce (4)
ROUX – this sounds like (reportedly) an evergreen shrub used as a herb.

14a By inference, girl who’s fit for nothing? (3,1,5-4)
NOT A DICKY-BIRD – this could be describing a young woman who isn’t poorly and who, by inference, must be fit and healthy.

16a Leading performer, bald almost (4)
STAR – an adjective meaning bald or unembellished without its final K (almost).

17a Chief minister‘s in luck getting cycle back (10)
CHANCELLOR – a word meaning luck or fortuity is followed by the reversal of a verb to cycle or move on wheels.

19a Block in middle of cobbled street with playing court outside (8)
OBSTRUCT – the middle letter of cobbled and the abbreviation for street have an anagram (playing) of COURT outside them.

20a One considering getting rid of husband, a rascal (6)
TINKER – one who considers without the abbreviation for husband.

22a Ghostly eastern lake (5)
EERIE – E(astern) and one of the great lakes of North America.

23a Lock of hair stuck inside covering letter (7)
RINGLET – it’s a lurker.

Down Clues

1d Examination of rocklike substance with no carbon content (4)
ORAL – start with a rocklike substance typically found in reefs and remove the chemical symbol for carbon.

2d Created  calm (8)
COMPOSED – double definition, the first a verb and the second an adjective meaning calm or unflustered.

3d Chair, Italian, could make one a fast buck (6)
PROFIT – chair here is the office of a high-ranking academic at a university and is used to refer to that person himself or herself. We want the abbreviation for the office-holder followed by the abbreviation for Italian vermouth.

4d Strange our factory being the source of tittle-tattle? (6,4)
RUMOUR MILL – string together an adjective meaning strange or odd, OUR (from the clue) and a factory.

5d Tried to catch leader of antelopes in group (5)
HEARD – insert (to catch) the leading letter of antelopes into a group of animals.

6d Series of violent ups and downs as large wave hits vessel (13)
ROLLERCOASTER – charade of a large wave and a cargo-carrying vessel that doesn’t venture far from the shore.

8d Talk about former beat (7)
EXPOUND – the prefix meaning former or one-time is followed by a verb to beat or batter.

12d Information in special air letter about uranium (10)
LITERATURE – this information is printed matter. It’s an anagram (special) of AIR LETTER containing the chemical symbol for uranium.

14d Striking number heading chart (7)
NOTABLE – the two-letter abbreviation for number precedes a chart or list.

15d Cynthia, awfully good sport (8)
YACHTING – an anagram (awfully) of CYNTHIA followed by G(ood).

17d Gives rise to lawsuits involving university (6)
CAUSES – lawsuits contain the abbreviation for university.

18d Clear above top of trees (5)
OVERT – a preposition meaning above or higher than is followed by the first (top) letter of trees.

21d Childish? Not half, in river (4)
NILE – we need just the second half of an adjective meaning childish.

I liked 7a and 20a but my favourite clue today was 14a. Which one(s) appealed to you?

Today’s Quickie Pun: RUNNER + MOCK = RUN AMOK

119 comments on “DT 27907

  1. I found this puzzle very tough unlike Gazza. Lots of bung-ins for me until it all made sense.

    4*/3* is my rating today.

  2. Yes, pleasant puzzle with nice clues. I liked “covering letter” in 23a, and i quite liked the novel anagram in 10a, possibly because i liked the novel, but also because the anagram had me foxed at first. Also enjoyed 12d (Information in special air letter) and 15d (Cynthia…). Just noticed these are all different to Gazza’s pick, which I think is to the setter’s credit.

    Manny thanks Gazza and setter

  3. For me this was by far and away the best back page puzzle in a long while – thank you to the setter, some excellent clues.

  4. Took me a long time to get going on this but made steady progress & got there in the end.No real stand out clues but did chuckle at 14A.Thanks to the setter & Gazza for his review.http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_good.gif

  5. Really enjoyed this today and agree with Gazza regarding the surface read, also a **/***,Have to say that 7a was somewhat obscure ,could only be one solution -thanks Gazza for the explanation -which I have to admit is very clever. I liked the pic of Peter Parker, read the book and saw the film, but no teashirt. Thanks setter-14a made me smile.

  6. I wonder how many others started out by trying to get an anagram out of 4d? I fell for that and then also took a while to see that there actually was anagram fodder in 15d! Stupidly slow to spot the lurker in 23a.
    Thought this might be rather hard work at the outset but it all slotted in nicely so I agree with Gazza’s rating.
    14a had me thinking of PJ, but then 20a put me in mind of Shamus so no ‘head over the parapet’ today!
    Favourite is probably 11a with 4d getting a mention.

    Thanks to Mr. Ron and also to Gazza. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_good.gif

    1. No, not I. 4d was my first one in, although For a millisecond I did think that the first word could be ‘gossip’…then inspiration!,!

  7. Agree with the **/*** – enough of a challenge without ever being stuck for long. Thanks for the explanation of 7a – had to be that but I missed the link to roulette completely. Your picture for 14a is spot on – first thing I thought of when I got the answer. Thanks to Gazza and the setter.

    1. I meant to welcome you to the blog yesterday but didn’t get round to doing yesterday’s comfortable puzzle until this morning.

  8. A bit more than 2* difficulty for me today and probably a bit more than 3* for enjoyment too – not that I’m trying to be difficult!
    Only four anagrams, I think – maybe I can’t count.
    7a took ages to understand – it could only have been what it was but I couldn’t get beyond thinking the definition was just wheel.
    Like Jane I spent too long trying (and failing) to turn 4d into an anagram – never heard the expression either.
    If I wanted to nit-pick I’d do it about 13a.
    I liked 5 and 20a and 6 and 15d.
    With thanks to Mr Ron and to gazza for being there just in case.

    1. I wanted to nit pick about 13a too but unfortunately there are a few definitions online which seem to support the setter http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_negative.gif

      1. No – we’re right judetheobscure. A 13a is the base of a sauce made from butter and flour – the thickening agent is the flour. I have to say that I haven’t looked all this up in the BRB but I still say that we’re right.

        1. Kath, surely “agent” can stand for ‘means’ hence the whole roux can be regarded as the means/agent by which the sauce is thickened? http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_wacko.gif

  9. Took me a while to get going on this but 7a and 13a were the last two in, thought 7a very obscure too, no real fav clue today and a 3* for difficulty … thanks Gazza for blog

    1. Hi Mary,
      It’s good to have you back on the blog. I trust that you’ve got your red shirt ready for the next few weeks. :D

  10. How wrong first impressions can be. First read through rang alarm bells but gritted my teeth and pressed on regardless without too much pain. 7a was my only hitch as I tried to use an M for thousand (grand). 4d is new to me too. Thanks Mysteron and Gazza. ***/***. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/icon_neutral.gif

  11. Not difficult but spoilt by some very poor reaching clues such as 7a (how weird was that?), 13a (what herb?), 14a (just very weak) and 16a. For me not much to enjoy, just a bit of a slog.
    Thx to Gazza for his usual excellent hints.

    1. Hi Brian,
      14a – ruta graveolens – known as common rue or herb-of-grace. I thought you’d determined to look things up these days! http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_wink.gif

        1. Brian, I agree with you. I remember being totally mystified when teachers told us to look in the dictionary if we didn’t know how to spell something. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_unsure.gif

          1. Oh – if I had a penny for every time No. 1 daughter’s said that to me! Actually, I wasn’t too sure how to spell it either, but a bit of persistence paid off – there’s only a few possibilities.

            1. Oh dear – spelling! I remember when I was really quite little having a spelling test at school. The teacher said, “Wales, as in the country Wales”. knew perfectly well how to spell the country but, as I wrote down “wails”, I wondered why the country was wailing!

  12. **/****

    Very enjoyable solve. Was sure 4d was an anagram and liked it even more when the penny dropped.

    Plenty of clues made me smile but my favourite is the lovely 20a.

    Many thanks to the setter and to Gazza for blogging.

    Toughie time.

  13. I struggled with this one. Mostly because our two cats have missed us and wanted so much attention. I kept having to rewrite answers with the correct letters instead of the ones the cats nudged to. So that is just one more thing that is my fault with the blame shifted elsewhere.
    A fine tussle today which I found quite difficult.
    Thanks to the setter and to Gazza.

      1. At one of the “so called” restaurants he ordered scraps (fried batter), a Findus crispy pancake and a pickled egg. Nothing else. He washed that down with a can of Tiser.

        Bizarre. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_unsure.gif

        1. Hanni, how do you know these things – am I missing something? However, he should have had a single black pudding in batter with some tattle fritters washed down with a bottle of IRN BRU (or perhaps some Buckfast)

          1. You’re not missing anything.

            For some inexplicable reason I want to try the black pudding thing. I have no idea what tattle fritters are? Or what wine to serve them with.

            1. Hi Hanni – we Scots have a undying love of things battered and deep fried. That extends to a stick of black pudding, battered and deep fried


              Tattle fritters are known as ‘Scallops’ for some reason in England.

              You only have to look to Rabi C Nesbitt (Outstanding Scottish sommelier) for any wine recommendations to drink with these low cholesterol meals – Buckfast or Lanlq

              Night, night

              1. Not once living on the islands did I hear them called tattle fritters. Impossible wee b*****s to catch leaps to mind. I’m just not good at spotting them.

                It is a good combination though. I’ve eaten them raw and I have to say they were rather nice.

              2. In Glasgow you can get – or used to be able to get – a stokie: a jumbo sausage wrapped in donner kebab meat, dipped in batter and deep fried. You have this with chips. Once, in a chippie in Balloch, the woman in front of me in the queue ordered a 9-inch pizza, which was then dipped in batter and deep fried. She had that with chips and a Diet Coke!

    1. Awwww. Poor cats. Next time you go away you must be sure to get me to cat-sit. I like to play a game: who will get bored of the stroking first? It generally lasts until one party either wants to eat or sleep.

  14. Struggled with this one but found it enjoyable and felt good when finished. There were some clues which left me cold like 7a (although can see it now) and 10a which I knew had to be an anagram but couldn’t see it for ages. Had “gathered” in for 2d so got stuck there for a bit. 14a was the last in and the picture in the hints spurred me on to the answer, although what a funny saying?!


    Thanks setter and Gazza

        1. Don’t trust me – I only think it is! Should have looked it up but haven’t yet got round to doing so.

            1. My favourite encounter with rhyming slang was in the early seventies when I first moved to London and went to look at a flat in the Old Kent Road. I was a bit lost so I asked a passing urchin of about ten years old, “Where’s the Old Kent Road?” He replied, “You’re in it, me old china.”

  15. I agree with Gazza’s rating. Thanks to him for explaining a couple of my answers – and to the setter for an enjoyable solve.

  16. **/***. Not a R&W but not too much of a head scratcher. I liked 17&20a. Thanks to the setter and Gazza for the review.

  17. Had to check our trusted google for 4d which instantly referred me to the Guardian sport section. Didn’t know that expression.
    Thought that grand in 7a was K so checked again the word Rouke and the first answer came from urban dictionary ( as it’s often the case) and felt sorry I did.http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_unsure.gif
    Didn’t recognise the person in 14a.
    Thanks to the setter and to Gazza for the review.

  18. I really enjoyed this excellent and well-balanced puzzle. No real dramas, so would go 2/3 with thanks to Gazza and our setter.


  19. Thanks to Mr Ron and to Gazza for the review and hints. A very enjoyable puzzle, with some good clues. Favourite was 14a. I quite liked 7a. Got 4d straight away, must’ve been on the right wavelength. Last in was 13a, hadn’t heard of the herb. Sounds like elocution for Cockneys :-) Was 2*/3* for me. Dull and cloudy in Central London.

  20. Very enjoyable crossword for a fine sunny day – sorry – wet and blustery – sorry again – sunny day in Shropshire (you get the idea of the weather conditions herehttp://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_unsure.gif).

    Anyway, some really good clueing going on here and not too difficult to complete. My favourite today is 11a (this type of clue appears to be ‘on trend’ with the setters at the moment) with 14a just beaten by a nose.

    Thanks to the Tuesday Mr Ron for the puzzle and Gazza for his review. I didn’t fall into the possible anagram trap for 4d as I had 17a in the first read through. Smug http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_yes.gif

    The toughie is well worth a go but as some of the answers are easy to bung in – it’s the parsing that’s difficult.

  21. This was a jamboree bag of a puzzle, chewing gum, gobstoppers, liquorice allsorts, lemon sherberts and all the rest. We loved it. It took the right amount of time, so therefore, 2* for difficulty bur 4* for enjoyment.

    So thanks to Captain Scarlett’s nemesis and Gazza for his entertaining review.

  22. Not a bad puzzle, one of those which I had to keep coming back to. my rating is 3/3 No particular clue jumps out as a favourite but in my opinion 3D was not very good – a bit of a groaner. Thanks to Gazza for the review.

  23. Took me ages but a real feeling of achievement when I’d finished – a very good crossword and a lot of fun!

    Very sad news to hear of the death of Brian Close – I remember seeing him against Wes Hall and Charlie Griffith – a terrifying pair – and then later against Michael Holding, Andy Roberts and Wayne Daniel – Brian and a true hero, brave as a lion and more than a bit nuts! http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_good.gif

    1. Hear hear! And remember, in those not too far off days, the batsmen had little or no protection, other than pads and the box. No helmets, face guards, chest pads or even arm guards. True bravery.

  24. Well, I did struggle with this one so it’s 3* for me but I did enjoy the clues that I got so enjoyment is 4*. For the ones that did not get, many thanks Gazza and it’s 5* for you..

  25. Slow start, but managed to speed up half way through. Completely thrown by 4d. Thought that I’d got 17a wrong, as like others tried to make an anagram of our factory. Had to look at the review to discover that 17a was in fact correct, and 4d was something I hadn’t heard before. Favourite was 6d, but haven’t been on one this year. Trip to a theme park needed.

    1. Whoops. Forgot my manners. Thank you to the setter and to Gazza for the review. Just seen the cartoon for 6d. Very funny.

  26. Hello, all you friendly people. I’ve been lurking for well over a year, and you have helped me improve my crosswording skills no end. I found today’s offering most enjoyable, even though I missed the lurker in 23 a, but got the right answer anyway without being able to parse it. ***/**** for me. Keep up the good work!

    [See it really was there! Recovered from the trash can, but it has upset the numbering referred to in some comments. BD]

    1. Hmmmm – don’t quite know where to plant a comment saying, “Welcome from me too” to Maeve. A year is a long time to lurk . . .

        1. I can confirm that Jane wasn’t seeing things. Maeve must have deleted her original post but I have an email with it in.
          This isn’t actually Maeve’s first comment – her first one was in 2013 – see here.

          1. Poor girl is probably so confused by all this that she’ll never post again!
            Worry not, Maeve, we thrive on the glitches here. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_yes.gif

  27. Compared with yesterday on a first look it seemed very difficult but the it gradually all fell into place? Many thanks to Gazza for explaining the why and where for of at least half a dozen of the clues? ***/*** I enjoyed 5a, 17a & 18d

  28. Hello, all you friendly people. I’ve been lurking for well over a year, and you have helped me improve my crosswording skills no end. I enjoyed today’s offering very much, even though I missed the lurker in 23a, but got the right answer anyway, even though I couldn’t parse it. A ***/**** for me. Keep up the good work!

        1. Unfair, SL! The first line of Maeve’s message was duplicated so I reckon she deleted it all and started again. Either that, or I’m psychic as well as loopy. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_smile.gif

    1. Hello Maeve, welcome to the site. It has helped me enormously, and taught me such a lot about cryptic crosswords.

  29. A very enjoyable puzzle with extremely smooth surfaces as Gazza rightly said.

    Clever concealment/misdirection as regards the anagrams/non-anagrams too.

    Like Shropshirelad, my favourite was 11a, these type of clues are certainly being seen more and more, and I for one do like them.

    Many thanks to the setter and to Gazza.

        1. Interesting that both YS and yourself like the 11a type of clue but hate Spoonerisms. I actually see quite a few similarities in the deduction that is required.

              1. You never, ever, ever ∞ put anything in a good single malt – except some more single malt http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_wacko.gif

                1. Water is perfectly acceptable in a single malt. It is perfectly unacceptable to put a decent Ardbeg in your coffee unless you wish to turn your boss a vague purple colour.

                  So to sum up,

                  Water in single malt..OK
                  Single malt in coffee..not OK.

  30. I liked today’s puzzle a lot. A good selection of clues making it very satisfying to complete. 4d was my favourite, once I realised it was not an anagram….
    3/3* overall.
    Thanks to Mr Ron and Gazza for the review.

  31. I stared at this for ages without inspiration, only getting 4d at first. Then it suddenly improved and all slipped into place. Just needed help with 7a which eluded me, so thanks to Gazza for that. Otherwise all pretty straightforward. Some cracking clues…especially 14a, 8a and 3d. 10a is a great novel…if you havent read it …give it a go…much better than the film! 2*/4* and thanks to setter and Gazza for help with 7a.

  32. For some reason we just breezed trough this one. Good fun though so we are happy. 7a took a little time for the penny to drop and we did explore M and K as alternatives to G as the extra letter.
    Thanks Mr Ron and Gazza.

  33. Did this one in a single session (a two-beer session) and was stumped only by the herb – another of those nasty little 4-letter jobs – Loved 14a for it’s multi-layered clue. There was another I liked to but I have left it in the pub.
    Agree with Gazza, as I often do for the ratings. Thanks to setter-Ron for a nice puzzle. Is it me or is this blog/site getting bigger and bigger? – soon be time to sell advertising with all those ‘eyeballs! Only Kidding, Dave. I would not blame you as you have put a LOT of work into it.

    1. You have to be a bit careful about making comments regarding the size of the blog/ number of comments and the like……..or you get challenged by some of those comment writers……..I know Ive been there!!!

  34. One star for difficulty, and loads for entertainment value. At least until I got to 13ac, where something I’d never heard of was supposed to sound like something else I’d never heard of. Is it just me?http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_scratch.gif

  35. Tricky for me today, but apart from two, not sure why I made such heavy weather of it. I will use lack of sleep as my excuse. I had to cheat on 7&13a – and am a fully paid-up member of the 4d anagram club.

    Many thanks to Mr Ron and Gazza.

  36. Finished it on the day of publication so can’t be too bad.
    Parsing of 7a threw me and it was the last in. Are roulette colours usually referred to in French?
    2*/2* for me with favourite 4d.

    1. I understand that French terms for the colours (rouge/noir) and even/odd (pair/impair) are normally used in casinos even in English speaking countries.

    2. Since roulette is a French word (little wheel) it seems reasonable to assume that terminology used in the game would also be in French.

    3. Faites vos jeux. Rien ne va plus.
      Pair, Impair, Rouge et Noir.
      That’s all I know about French roulette.
      But if you want to know about Russian roulette, ask Franco.

  37. I thought that this was one of the easiest back-pagers for a long time – but enjoyable nonetheless, with lots of good surfaces, splendid anagrams and a good few gimmes to get the ball rolling. I thought 4d was brilliant, but it was pipped at the post by 7a as outstanding clue of the day. Thanks to the mysteron for the (short-lived) entertainment and to Gazza for a blogging master class. 1*/3*

  38. Hi all, I was battling with this overnight, driving my taxi round (and round) our fair capital. I got the last two this AM, 4D, 7A, but wasn’t sure, had to check with Gazza. Mr.Ron gave me a rough ride I thought, my rating is ****/**. I love a challenge !

  39. We do these things well after they’re published, I with the paper, my wife with the i-Pad. How come, then, then that 19a and 17d have ENTIRELY different clues on line and on paper? If one of them is solved on line, it blocks the solution of the other on paper, and vice versa. Disgraceful.

    1. Welcome to the blog, William.
      No differences between the paper and online versions were reported for this puzzle on the original day of publication, so presumably the changes have been introduced later. I can only suggest that you complain to the Puzzles Editor at the Daily Telegraph.

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