DT 27977 (Hints)

Daily Telegraph Cryptic No 27977 (Hints)

Big Dave’s Saturday Crossword Club

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As is usual for the weekend prize crosswords, an assortment of clues, including some of the more difficult ones, have been selected and hints provided for them.

Don’t forget that you can give your assessment of the puzzle. Five stars if you thought it was great, one if you hated it, four, three or two if it was somewhere in between.

Most of the terms used in these hints are explained in the Glossary and examples are available by clicking on the entry under “See also”. Where the hint describes a construct as “usual” this means that more help can be found in The Usual Suspects, which gives a number of the elements commonly used in the wordplay. Another useful page is Wolves in Sheep’s Clothing, which features words with meanings that are not always immediately obvious.

A full review of this puzzle will be published after the closing date for submissions.

Some hints follow.

Performance problems are still affecting this site, which is why it has taken so long to add these hints.


1a Danger! Noun penned by this compiler genius (6)
N(oun) sandwiched between the first person objective pronoun (this compiler) and a genius

4a Damage reputation of space station in school (6)
The name of the Russian space station inside the abbreviation for SCH(ool)

8a Dull system of bank payments returned cover (8)
An adjective meaning dull and the system for the electronic processing of bank payments within the UK, both reversed (returned) gives a cover for a weapon

13a US president’s pay for working in area around Boston (12)
The name of a nineteenth century US president followed by the S from ‘S and a word meaning pay for working gives the area around Boston – that’s the UK town not the US city

16a King’s mistress engaged in making battlement (12)
The first name of a mistress of King Charles II inside (engaged in) a word meaning making

20a Pasta poor church creatures fed to sick clergyman coming round (10)
Put the church creatures from the simile “as poor as …” inside the reversal (coming round) of an adjective meaning sick and an abbreviated clergyman

22a Movies showing spies framing soldiers from the East (6)
The US organisation that employs spies around the reversal (from the East in an across clue) of a three-letter word for soldiers

25a Gambler  improved (6)
Two very easy definitions


1d Central heating in 22 busted? One’ll fix it (8)
The abbreviation for Central Heating inside an anagram (busted) of the answer to 22 Across

2d VIP old boy under arrest (5)
The abbreviation for Old Boy preceded by (under in a down clue) a a colloquial verb meaning to arrest

5d Drink one needs to get over bird? On the contrary (7)
I (one) goes not over but, on the contrary, under a bird

6d Theatre company feel bad about show (9)
The three-letter abbreviated form of a theatre company followed by a verb meaning to feel bad about

14d Two coppers meeting topless smouldering things — they could be pickled (9)
Two instances of the chemical symbol for copper followed by some smouldering things without their initial letter (topless)

15d Bliss perhaps of calm river (8)
Sir Arthur was an example (perhaps) – a verb meaning to calm followed by R(iver)

18d Temptation to consume drug is for relaxation (7)
A four-letter temptation around the usual single-letter drug and the IS from the clue

21d A number enjoy computer stuff (5)
A three-letter a colloquial word for to enjoy followed by the two-letter abbreviation for “computer stuff”

The Crossword Club is now open.

Could new readers please read the Welcome post and the FAQ before posting comments or asking questions about the site.

As this is a Prize crossword, please don’t put any ANSWERS, whether WHOLE, PARTIAL or INCORRECT, or any ALTERNATIVE CLUES in your comment. If in doubt, leave it out!

Please read these instructions carefully. Offending comments may be redacted or, in extreme cases, deleted.

The Quick Crossword pun: eye+lev+white=Isle of Wight


  1. Rabbit Dave
    Posted December 5, 2015 at 3:35 pm | Permalink

    3*/3*. I enjoyed this puzzle of two halves – the bottom half was virtually R&W (except for 19d) and in complete contrast to the top half which I found very challenging, although with hindsight it’s hard to see why. It was a pity that some of the surfaces were clunky, e.g.: 20a & 14d. My favourite was 13a.

    Many thanks to Mr Ron and to BD.

  2. Vancouverbc
    Posted December 5, 2015 at 3:37 pm | Permalink

    **/***. Pleasant solve with 16a and 14d my favourites. Thanks to the setter and BD for the review. I hope the site gets better performance wise.

  3. Young Salopian
    Posted December 5, 2015 at 3:37 pm | Permalink

    Welcome back!!

    2/4 from me today. A really well-clued and hugely enjoyable puzzle. Many thanks to Mr Ron and BD for all his hard work.

    I hope all fellow contributors are not suffering any damage due to the storms hitting the north of the country. Desmond sounds about as frightening as a bag of frozen peas, but I guess he has hidden destructive talents.

  4. Caravaggio
    Posted December 5, 2015 at 3:47 pm | Permalink

    I’m sorry to see that you’ve been having problems, Dave, and I’m pleased that you’ve been able to rectify matters. Ironically, I collected the paper at 7:15 this morning and got an early start for once! I couldn’t believe my eyes when I scanned the puzzle because I actually used the word which provides the answer to 16a while I was in York last Sunday and everything else seemed to fall into place too.

  5. Michael
    Posted December 5, 2015 at 4:02 pm | Permalink

    Very straightforward, non-controversial solve today – no references to Religion to upset some of our more sensitive brethren, no Cricket, no Recreational Vehicles – all-in-all an enjoyable easy workout!

    The servers are really playing up – I bet all the techies are out on a pre-Christmas binge when they should be wielding the ‘spanners’!

    No Emoji’s (I think that’s the right word) – I do like a nice Emoji!

  6. Kath
    Posted December 5, 2015 at 4:10 pm | Permalink

    Might have to keep this short.
    First of all, well done and thanks to BD for the ‘perservation’ that must have been required to get any hints on here.
    I thought this was quite tricky for a Saturday which seem, so often, to be the most straightforward of the week.
    13a took a long time – was thinking of the wrong kind of Boston, probably because of the first bit of the clue.
    I liked 23 and 24a (once I’d realised that 24 wasn’t the obvious answer) and 6 and 15d.
    With thanks to Mr Ron and again to BD.
    Now to see if this will go . . .

    • Tantalus
      Posted December 5, 2015 at 4:51 pm | Permalink

      The wrong kind of Boston – exactly. Tried to get Massachusets (sic) to fit but none of the letters matched ! (And thus avoids the naughty corner)

      Lovely sunny day here in new Boston – final prep for chorus tonight at Old North Festival Chorus in Marblehead.

      Thanks to Messrs Ron & Dave.

      • Merusa
        Posted December 5, 2015 at 5:47 pm | Permalink

        Welcome back! You haven’t checked in for some time.

    • Badger
      Posted December 5, 2015 at 9:58 pm | Permalink

      24a was a nice one- the word was used as an adjective for wartime coffee made from acorns….(not in this country)
      There were some odd ones -like 1a & 22a but it was good to complete w/o the hints though. Liked 13a -luckily didn’t fall into US trap-&16a -picked the right King fortunately.
      Got the Xmas tree up as well and posted many cards at huge cost. Bloke in front bought 100 stamps! Ye Gods!

      Thanks to BD & setter.

      • Posted December 5, 2015 at 11:39 pm | Permalink

        technically that’s an alternative clue, albeit extremely obscure. Please be careful in future.

  7. merusa
    Posted December 5, 2015 at 4:56 pm | Permalink

    Nice diversion for a Saturday with no real problems, except for 7d. I was just about to ask for help with that when I tumbled to it. Why on earth did it take me so long? Who knows, it was probably the easiest of the lot.
    Fave was 13a, I didn’t fall for the misdirection and feel quite pleased about that.
    Thanks to setter and to BD his review. It must be so frustrating for you, trying to hold this together when the server is so unreliable! Well done you.

  8. Snape
    Posted December 5, 2015 at 4:58 pm | Permalink

    I thought this was different to normal Saturday puzzles. It was of similar difficulty, (a nice level for me) and I found the bottom half easier than the top, and there were some nice clues, of which my favourites were 21a and 23a, but normally every clue is a work of art, and I thought there were quite a few strange and forced surfaces – for example 14a (Two coppers meeting topless smouldering things??), 8a and 19d, so I presumed this was a different setter. I still enjoyed it though, and was happy to complete it without hints – a rare event, so thanks to the setter and BD.

  9. Thebear
    Posted December 5, 2015 at 5:19 pm | Permalink

    Enjoyed this one too…not sure why 17 d is what it appears to be but last one in, so happy to finish it…

    • JamesW
      Posted December 5, 2015 at 5:40 pm | Permalink

      Abbreviation for hour between a typographical space and a contraction meaning unable.

      • Posted December 5, 2015 at 7:19 pm | Permalink

        Welcome to the blog James

        Are you looking for a job?!

        • Shropshirelad
          Posted December 5, 2015 at 10:04 pm | Permalink

          Good Heavens BD, surely you’re still not after more volunteer reviewers?

          Where have the emoticons gone?

        • Little Dave
          Posted December 6, 2015 at 12:49 pm | Permalink

          Really enjoyable. Thanks to B D et al. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_good.gif

      • Thebear
        Posted December 5, 2015 at 11:08 pm | Permalink

        Aha! See so obvious now! Thank you

      • Angel
        Posted December 5, 2015 at 11:25 pm | Permalink

        The solution was obvious but does the setter really expect uninitiated mortals such as myself to know, as I have discovered, that “xx. is a common unit in typography, half the width of the point size”?! Imagine my “confused” emoticon!

        (It may well be as you say but giving away part solutions is one of the things we ask you not to do! CS)

        • crypticsue
          Posted December 6, 2015 at 9:26 am | Permalink

          Without disobeying the rules of the Big Red Box, you might like to look up (and remember) this space’s slightly bigger brother as he quite often turns up in cryptics too.

        • Posted December 6, 2015 at 9:34 am | Permalink

          It’s always a good idea to check here:


          where I have gathered together over 200 of the most common elements used in wordplay.

          • Angel
            Posted December 6, 2015 at 4:53 pm | Permalink

            Oh dear, I’m obviously in hot water all round. I consider myself duly reprimanded and have gone all through your wordplay list going from space to measure etc. and duly noted the big brother. I will now nervously try to remember and will take care never to comment on these elements again. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/smiley-phew.gif http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/icon_redface.gifhttp://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/icon_redface.gif

  10. Paso Doble
    Posted December 5, 2015 at 5:28 pm | Permalink


  11. Angel
    Posted December 5, 2015 at 5:59 pm | Permalink

    I quite agree Kath this was certainly decidedly tricky for a Saturday but that was the good news for me – let’s hope for more of the same. I do admit however that I came to a grinding halt at one point so waited with bated breath for BD to bail me out. Thanks for that BD and also Mr. Ron for a nicely testing Saturday session. Enjoyed unravelling 14d plus 13a and 18a. Stupidly 7d didn’t occur to me. ****/***. Hope all will soon be completely well with the blog. What a worry for mein host. (No emoticons?)

  12. stanXYZ
    Posted December 5, 2015 at 6:27 pm | Permalink

    Nice Quickie Pun …. not to mention …

    and Ride or is it Ryde

  13. Heno
    Posted December 5, 2015 at 6:32 pm | Permalink

    Thanks to the setter and to Big Dave for the hints. A very enjoyable puzzle, but a little bit tricky. Strangely, I got 1d then managed to solve 22a from it, rather than the other way round. Favourites were 2&9d. Was 3*/3* for me.

  14. Faraday
    Posted December 5, 2015 at 6:34 pm | Permalink

    I found this to be a very enjoyable challenge and I lost a few more brain cells this week when compared to last Saturday. Only needed BD’s help once to explain why my answer (to 18d) was correct, and then couldn’t understand why I hadn’t seen the logic of the solution myself – it was so obvious! I particularly enjoyed 8a. I thought it was a very clever clue but perhaps that says something about the way my mind works…..?

  15. Drapdor
    Posted December 5, 2015 at 6:57 pm | Permalink

    This seemed harder than usual Saturdays, or maybe just different. I certainly needed the hints.
    I too fell for 13a and tried to make Massachusetts fit!
    I don’t fully get 17d – the answer seems right but I’ve missed something in the ‘space’ bit of the parsing.
    My first one in was 16a, such a pleasing word.
    Thank you to the setter and to BD for the hints.

    • Tstrummer
      Posted December 5, 2015 at 7:06 pm | Permalink

      Printers’ measure. A twenty-fourth of a inch. Smallest space a hot-metal block can allow

      • Drapdor
        Posted December 5, 2015 at 7:11 pm | Permalink

        Thank you!

  16. Tstrummer
    Posted December 5, 2015 at 7:02 pm | Permalink

    Piece of cake, or morceau de gateau as les francais never say, sadly, after yesterday’s trial of strength (which I lost). Nice misdirections and fun anagrams, but no obscurities – just how I like ’em. Well done to BD for perseverance. Is the wobbly nature of the site here for ever? 1/*/3*

    • Kath
      Posted December 5, 2015 at 7:37 pm | Permalink

      The site will be fine – let’s not be pessimistic. Here’s an imaginary smile and a thumbs up.

      • williamus
        Posted December 5, 2015 at 10:25 pm | Permalink


    • jean-luc cheval
      Posted December 5, 2015 at 11:16 pm | Permalink

      Actually we do say “C’est du gâteau” also for something easy.

  17. Salty Dog
    Posted December 5, 2015 at 7:37 pm | Permalink

    This didn’t take too long but I relished every second (mind you, I was also eating one of my darling wife’s fabulous pizzas and listening to Exeter Chiefs putting it across Wasps on the radio, so I was hardly in the mood to be grumpy!). 1*/4* for me, and the wonderfully sneaky 13a was my favourite clue. Thanks to the setter, and to BD.

    • Gazza
      Posted December 5, 2015 at 7:52 pm | Permalink

      The Chiefs were even better on the TV.

      • Shropshirelad
        Posted December 5, 2015 at 10:08 pm | Permalink

        I’ll agree with that Gazza – I think they’re major contenders for finishing in the top 4 this season.

  18. Hilary
    Posted December 5, 2015 at 7:56 pm | Permalink

    Oh goody my name is in place just for a change, thanks to setter and BD for a super Saturday treat. Worked my way gracefully up from 21d then back down filling in the acrosses no major hitches, favourite has to be 20a just because I love the sound of it.

  19. crypticsue
    Posted December 5, 2015 at 8:13 pm | Permalink

    Solved on train on way to Times for The Times birthday bash. Journey home more exciting because Father Christmas was asleep a few seats down the carriage. Definitely him – red suit and hat, beard wellies and all!

    • Kath
      Posted December 5, 2015 at 9:43 pm | Permalink

      . . . so now would probably not be a good time to ask you what you thought of this evening’s dancing . . . tomorrow then?

      • crypticsue
        Posted December 5, 2015 at 9:49 pm | Permalink

        Don’t know what you are implying but consumption of orange juice during the afternoon meant that I was able to enjoy the dancing as usual. All too good – couldn’t put a fag paper between them

  20. Una
    Posted December 5, 2015 at 9:44 pm | Permalink

    Do you know that there a well known Irish business man called Dermot Desmond and he has a daughter called Storm, one age to my daughter..Apparently the poor girl is awash with Facebook jokes, snapchat and so on.
    The only real hold-up was 6d.I consider feeling that to be bad , rather than a bad feeling.
    Thanks to all concerned.

  21. jean-luc cheval
    Posted December 5, 2015 at 10:11 pm | Permalink

    It was indeed “simple comme bonjour”.
    Only the long battlement took a while.
    My usual downfall. Always left with these long words and find them difficult even with all the checkers. Especially as this particular mistress didn’t come to mind straight away.
    Liked 15d the most.
    Thanks to the Saturday setter and to BD for managing to keep the blog up and running despite the 56k connection.

    • Shropshirelad
      Posted December 5, 2015 at 10:39 pm | Permalink

      Good Evening JL – All the ladies seem to be vying to become your best friend at the January Birthday Bash for your delicacies and say I have zero chance of tasting said delicacies as they will have scoffed the lot before I arrive. I do hope this will not be the case as we Scots and French have a particular ‘entente cordiale’ N est ce pas?

      • jean-luc cheval
        Posted December 5, 2015 at 11:06 pm | Permalink

        Trust me. I’ll make sure there’s enough for everyone.

        • Shropshirelad
          Posted December 5, 2015 at 11:15 pm | Permalink

          vous êtes une star mon ami

    • Angel
      Posted December 5, 2015 at 11:47 pm | Permalink

      Thank you J-L I had forgotten that French equivalent of as easy as pie.

  22. williamus
    Posted December 5, 2015 at 10:35 pm | Permalink

    I did leave some comments earlier but I think they must have got lost in the ether while Dave was sorting out the IT problems for us. Probably not worth reposting, but since I’m here: I made heavy weather of this one and as such decided that I didn’t enjoy it, but when I’d finished it (with a little help from here) I realised what a very good puzzle it was, nicely clued and well balanced. I struggled with the form for 16a but the checking letters meant that it had to be that way… and it was my favourite, though 13a with it’s clever construction and misdirection came close. ***/**** for me. Many thanks to Dave for persevering with the site and to Mr Ron for the puzzle. Cheers

  23. weekendwanda
    Posted December 5, 2015 at 10:38 pm | Permalink

    Got three quarters in without difficulty – bottom half first. I wa lucky to get 13a and 16a without two much difficulty. Slight delay when I was over the Atlantic but soon came back down to earth. Left with 10a and 7d. Now got 10a which I hope is right. Can’t get 7d. Probably so simple is it? Have all the checkers but still not there. Is there a spelling mistake with the first word of the clue? Can anyone help?

    • Angel
      Posted December 5, 2015 at 11:32 pm | Permalink

      No spelling mistake but second half is a past participle if that’s what you mean.

      • Anneeflower
        Posted December 6, 2015 at 8:11 am | Permalink

        It has three letter e’s in my newspaper version! Unless I need new specs.

        • Posted December 6, 2015 at 9:06 am | Permalink

          I think that’s a mistake – the online version is the same.

          • weekendwanda
            Posted December 6, 2015 at 7:30 pm | Permalink

            Yes that what was I meant. The three”e”s in Charioteer. I was not ssure whether it was a typo or something more subtle. I was clearly trying to make it more complicated than it was. Nevertheless still the last one in for me by a long chalk. Still couldn’t work out why “cast” necessary but I get it now. As Chris Tarrant used to say “It’s easy when you know the answer.a” Not my favourite clue but I got there in the end. Thanks setter and Dave and all for the comments.

      • Angel
        Posted December 6, 2015 at 4:57 pm | Permalink

        Oh I see that to which you were referring – I hadn’t noticed. My comment is obviously irrelevant, sorry.

        • weekendwanda
          Posted December 6, 2015 at 7:31 pm | Permalink

          No problem! it is interesting. I probably would not have noticed had my eyes not been glued to the clue for so long.

  24. Sheffieldsy
    Posted December 5, 2015 at 11:12 pm | Permalink

    We found this hard at first then the answers came in a rush for no obvious reason with a real Homer moment when we too found the correct Boston. 2/2 stars for us. Apologies for the late post – went to see The Lady in the Van and then had a curry! Thanks to BD and the setter.

  25. Airhead
    Posted December 5, 2015 at 11:19 pm | Permalink

    I found top half easier. I cobbled together word for 16 and then had to go to dictionary to tell me what it meant.

    • Posted December 5, 2015 at 11:38 pm | Permalink

      Welcome to the blog Airhead

  26. terry healy
    Posted December 6, 2015 at 12:05 pm | Permalink

    Could i have some help with 7d please many thanks terry

    • Gazza
      Posted December 6, 2015 at 12:31 pm | Permalink

      7d Charioteer, ejecting Ben, was ahead of cast (6)
      Start with the name of the most famous charioteer and throw away the ‘Ben’ bit. Now add a verb meaning ‘was ahead of’.

  27. Sarah
    Posted December 6, 2015 at 1:41 pm | Permalink

    So busy yesterday so saved the crossword for today. It seems I missed all the techy problems thank goodness. As with so many of you I found the bottom half easier than the top but I didn’t find this crossword quite as enjoyable as the rest of you. I did find it a bit clunky in places. However, it keeps me out of mischief ? Thanks to all concerned

  28. Gwizz
    Posted December 6, 2015 at 3:43 pm | Permalink

    More tricky than usual for a Saturday crossword. None the less still good fun.
    Yes of course I fell for 13a’s misdirection; nothing new there then!
    So 13a is my favourite and overall 3/3*
    Thanks to Mr Ron and to BD for his sweat and toil. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_good.gif

  29. Ronnie
    Posted December 7, 2015 at 9:58 am | Permalink

    Help with 15d would be appreciated.

    • crypticsue
      Posted December 7, 2015 at 10:08 am | Permalink

      There is a very clear hint for 15d in the Hints provided by BD on Saturday

  30. StuartR
    Posted December 8, 2015 at 9:06 am | Permalink

    Hi. Actually managed to get around to this one in the same week it was published! 3*/4* for me.

    Was stuck bottom right for a while. 15d last in as I missed the reference. Favourite was 16a – straightforward but lovely word. Least favourite was 4a, because I think it ought to have “be” on the front of it to make a “real” word!

    Thanks again for the hints!