DT 27988

Daily Telegraph Cryptic No 27988

Hints and tips by Deep Threat

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

BD Rating – Difficulty *Enjoyment ***

Good morning from South Staffs on a slightly less gloomy morning than many we’ve had this month.

A gentle Giovanni this morning, with some seasonal flavour.

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           Half of allies will be this, beyond everything (5,3)
AFTER ALL – A literal description of where you will find the second half of ‘allies’.

5a           Eagerly desire to have a dreamy Oxford feature (6)
ASPIRE – A (from the clue) and one of several ecclesiastical features said to be dreaming in Oxford in a poem by Matthew Arnold.

Image result for oxford spires

9a           Enclosed area in which one may see car dry out (9)
COURTYARD – Anagram (one may see) of CAR DRY OUT.

11a         Male is having hesitation — not the most generous fellow! (5)
MISER – Put together Male, IS from the clue, and a hesitation.

12a         Show remorse as initiators of ruthless enterprise, then shut up (6)
REPENT – The initial letters (initiators) of Ruthless Enterprise, followed by a word for shut up or imprisoned,

13a         Gentle pieces of poetry enthralling artist — they are sweet (8)
PRALINES – The musical symbol for gentle or soft, and some bits of verse, placed either side of the usual artist.

Image result for pralines

15a         Smart heretics ruined a feature of the festive season (9,4)

18a         Lose enthusiasm, as one deprived of heat and water could (3,3,2,5)
RUN OUT OF STEAM – … especially if it was an old railway locomotive.

22a         Delightful cleaner of a bygone time in China (8)
CHARMING – A cleaning person followed by a Chinese dynasty which ran from 1368 to 1644, and is noted for its porcelain.

23a         Come down in flames (6)
ALIGHT –Double definition, the first describing a plane landing or someone getting off a bus.

26a         Stranger story embedded within article (5)
ALIEN – An (untrue) story with an indefinite article wrapped around it.

27a         Protest about naughty form of government (9)
DEMOCRACY – Put together a political protest, a Latin abbreviation for about or approximately, and a word for naughty or suggestive. The result is a form of government that, to paraphrase Winston Churchill, is the worst form except for all the others that have been tried.

28a         Having a floor covering that is rough (6)
RUGGED – Double definition, the first being a description of a floor covered with a small carpet or mat.

29a         Picture of foreign river — river with distinguishing feature (8)
PORTRAIT – An Italian river followed by an abbreviation for River and a distinguishing feature or characteristic.


1d           In truth Bill has a position as a minister (8)
ACCURACY – An abbreviation for a bill or account, followed by the office held by an assistant minister in a parish.

2d           The last noise maybe in a club? (5)
TRUMP – The sound which may be heard at the end of the world, or something which for a bridge or whist player may be a club, or a diamond, heart or spade.

Image result for last trump

3d           TV bosses show an interest in these sailors (7)
RATINGS – Double definition: the measure of viewer popularity used by TV companies; or some naval junior sailors.

4d           King to gain knowledge when knight has fled (4)
LEAR – Remove the chess symbol for a knight from ‘to gain knowledge’ to get this Shakespearean king.

6d           More unsuspecting learner taken in by silly smile (7)
SIMPLER – The abbreviation indicating a learner driver placed inside a silly or affected smile.

7d           In wickedness prophet is said to be hypocritical (9)
INSINCERE – Put together IN (from the clue), wickedness or evil, and a homophone (is said) of a word for someone who foretells the future.

8d           Say engineers will be needed on ship to provide exit (6)
EGRESS – Put together the Latin abbreviation for ‘say’ or ‘for example’, the initials of a regiment of engineers, and the usual crossword steamship.

10d         I repeatedly snored dreadfully — a laughing stock (8)
DERISION Anagram (dreadfully) of I, I, (repeatedly) and SNORED.

14d         I am some sort of dog, little fellow to be opposed (8)
IMPUGNED – Put together the shortened form of ‘I am’, a small dog, and one of the shortened forms of Edward.

16d         Wounded grenadier is studying again (9)
REREADING – Anagram (wounded) of GRENADIER.

17d         It presents a purple colour — as may the drunk on street (8)
AMETHYST Anagram (drunk) of MAY THE followed by (on, in a Down clue) an abbreviation for street.

Image result for amethyst

19d         Candidate has no source of wealth before start of election (7)
NOMINEE – Put together NO (from the clue), a source of (mineral ) wealth, and the first letter of Election.

20d         Court is thus within the law (7)
SOLICIT – Another word for ‘thus’ followed by a term meaning legal or within the law.

21d         City den supplying cake (6)
ÉCLAIR – The postal district of the City of London followed by a wild animal’s den, producing a cake described in Chambers as long in shape but short in duration.

24d         A horse topples over traversing hard country (5)
GHANA –Start with ‘ a horse’, reverse it then wrap it around Hard, and you get an African country.

Image result for ghana

25d         A war medal, something circular that is given to a soldier (4)
AMMO – Put together A (from the clue0, a gallantry medal awarded to soldiers who are not officers, and a circular letter, to get something which is distributed to soldiers in combat.

I expect to be here to do the online-only crossword on Christmas Day. To those who do their crosswords in the paper, a Happy Christmas and best wishes for the New Year.

The Quick Crossword pun SANDER + CLAUSE = SANTA CLAUS


  1. Rabbit Dave
    Posted December 18, 2015 at 11:05 am | Permalink

    1*/2*. Straightforward and dull. Thanks to the setter and to DT.

  2. Paso Doble
    Posted December 18, 2015 at 11:07 am | Permalink

    We agree with DT that this was The Don in a genial mood but would still give it a 1.5/3. A pleasant start to the day but must now get on as Christmas preparations are well behind schedule! Thanks to Giovanni and DT

  3. Heinz
    Posted December 18, 2015 at 11:26 am | Permalink

    Giovanni may be straightforward occasionally but he is never dull!

    • Jose
      Posted December 18, 2015 at 11:51 am | Permalink

      Absolutely agree! Why do people write in to criticise the setter – then go on to thank them (presumably for being so expertly disappointing)?

      • Heno
        Posted December 18, 2015 at 12:44 pm | Permalink

        I think they thank them for compiling the puzzle.

        • Rabbit Dave
          Posted December 18, 2015 at 12:57 pm | Permalink


  4. Kitty
    Posted December 18, 2015 at 11:37 am | Permalink

    A fine crossword I thought, not very hard but I did need to look up one of the abbreviations in the SE. I appreciated 1a and quite a few others. I liked 2d marginally more than other things of that word.

    Thanks to Giovanni and DT.

    • David Carvel
      Posted December 18, 2015 at 10:27 pm | Permalink

      SE for “City”? I always return to LA!

  5. Michael
    Posted December 18, 2015 at 11:50 am | Permalink

    Straightforward and not too difficult – easy for a Friday for a change!

    I had a Geography Teacher whose lessons were split into two halves, the first half talking about the subject and the second dictating the notes, he’d obviously done the same thing for twenty years or more. I remember his nasally voice dictating, ‘the River Po is a example of a meandering river’ – his style was peculiar but I still remember about the River Po.

    Rugby tonight!


    • neveracrossword
      Posted December 18, 2015 at 3:02 pm | Permalink

      I had a history teacher whose lessons consisted entirely of dictation. The only thing I remember from the lessons is the phrase: “…opened the floodgates to righteous indignation”, which we had to write in our exercise books. Can’t remember what caused the gates to open, though.

      • judetheobscure
        Posted December 19, 2015 at 11:23 am | Permalink

        I had a similar economics teacher at A Level. Unsurprisingly, I didn’t do very well :(

    • Miffypops
      Posted December 18, 2015 at 5:30 pm | Permalink

      I had bullies

      • Shropshirelad
        Posted December 18, 2015 at 11:57 pm | Permalink

        I really don’t know what to say about that mp – other than I’ve been there a long time ago. I think we’ve done quite well for ourselves don’t you think? http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_cool.gif

  6. Gwizz
    Posted December 18, 2015 at 12:07 pm | Permalink

    I spent more time completing the so called quickie! This was a very benign Giovanni crossword; pleasant enough but rarely challenging. My favourite was 15a, topical as it was it did have nice surface reading. 1/3* overall.
    Thanks to Giovanni and to DT.
    Now where did I put the tree lights transformer?http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_scratch.gif

  7. Jane
    Posted December 18, 2015 at 12:23 pm | Permalink

    Easy enough once I’d got over the urge to put ‘above all’ into 1a, despite it not fitting the definition!
    I did hesitate briefly over 25d – there are so many different war medals – and am not too sure that derision=laughing stock. Surely a laughing stock is an ‘object’ of derision? Any of the pedants out there want to comment?

    Favourite was 18a and I’ll go for a 1*/3* on this one.
    Thanks to DG and also to DT – a Merry Christmas to you from one of the ‘paper’ solvers!

    • Kitty
      Posted December 18, 2015 at 1:07 pm | Permalink

      I would agree with you Jane (so too the ODE unless I’m missing something), but the definition is straight out of Chambers:

      1. Act of deriding
      2. Mockery
      3. A laughing stock

      and Collins agrees:
      1. the act of deriding; mockery; scorn
      2. an object of mockery or scorn

      so that’s two out of three. Unlike with yesterday’s two against one dictionary battle, I am not inclined to do any further research :) .

    • Maggie
      Posted December 18, 2015 at 10:24 pm | Permalink

      Completely foxed by putting above all for 1a. Had to resort to hints. Oh dear.

    • Carmen
      Posted December 19, 2015 at 9:50 am | Permalink

      We made the same comment over 10d, Jane.

  8. Heno
    Posted December 18, 2015 at 12:51 pm | Permalink

    Thanks to Giovanni and to Deep Threat for the review and hints. I enjoyed this one even though it was very straightforward. Favourite was 17d, I thought the wordplay was a from the clue, and methy for drunk, followed by the abbreviation for street. Although I can see that Deep Threat’s interpretation is correct. Mine made me laugh :-) Was 1*/3* for me. Clouded over now in Central London, but the mildest December I have ever known.

  9. S
    Posted December 18, 2015 at 12:54 pm | Permalink

    Started badly, as I ended 1d with ‘ate’ instead of ‘acy’, which became apparent later, and like JANE,’ above’ nearly went into 1a. Thanks DT for the other trump(noise) as I did waver between thump and trump but luckily opted for the bridge card. Yes it was mainly straight forward so a 2 */ 2.5* for my own indecision and as GUIZZ says-pleasant enough.
    No 3 son ,who is in the Met, is due to see Star Wars today so I’ve just texed him a message-‘ may the force be with you !

    • Deep Threat
      Posted December 18, 2015 at 12:59 pm | Permalink

      This is not your usual alias, which is why your comment went into moderation.

  10. Young Salopian
    Posted December 18, 2015 at 2:22 pm | Permalink

    Almost R & W but NW corner held me up, forcing me to go 1.5*/2.5*. Certainly nothing to scare the horses today, but thanks nonetheless to the Don and DT.

  11. Vancouverbc
    Posted December 18, 2015 at 3:41 pm | Permalink

    An enjoyable puzzle which got an extra star for difficulty due to my incompetence. Putting above rather than after in 1a held me up no end until I realized I must have made a mistake. Thanks to the setter and DT for the review. I think I’ll make a curry today. Yum!

  12. dutch
    Posted December 18, 2015 at 3:57 pm | Permalink

    Straightforward, which is nice once in a while, and I liked 1a (half of allies), “stranger stories” in 26a, and “court” in 20a

    many thanks Giovanni and DT

  13. Spook
    Posted December 18, 2015 at 4:32 pm | Permalink

    Late today lots to do before Christmas, boat out of water for insurance inspection boring I know but weather being so mild seemed like a good idea. This puzzle was a first for me done without recourse to hints, thesaurus or dictionary. Thanks to Giovanni,and after a quick look through the hints thanks to DT.
    I am sure that tomorrow will be a different story. Now off to the pub.

  14. silvanus
    Posted December 18, 2015 at 4:46 pm | Permalink

    It’s curious how recent Monday puzzles have been trickier than normal whilst recent Friday puzzles have been more benign – this one did nothing to reverse that trend.

    Unlike Dutch I didn’t much care for 1a and thought it very uninspiring, but fortunately the wordplay and cluing did improve thereafter! Favourite was 17d for the mental image it produced.

    Many thanks to Mr. Manley and to Deep Threat.

  15. Merusa
    Posted December 18, 2015 at 4:57 pm | Permalink

    As DT says, very benign Giovanni. No holdups at all, though I did need the hint to understand 1a.
    Unfortunate that the buffoon vying to be POTUS should have the same name as 2d.
    Thanks to Giovanni and to DT for his hints.

  16. från
    Posted December 18, 2015 at 5:20 pm | Permalink

    I have played a lot of bridge over the last 40 years but the connection in 2d is very ruff indeed ; as was the other reference to the last noise at the end of the world . Maybe it refers to the final contract ? Overall a benign finish to the week which I enjoyed: thanks to the setter and DT.

  17. Hanni
    Posted December 18, 2015 at 5:27 pm | Permalink


    As benign as possible from the Don. I have 4, yup 4, pencil circles around the edge of my crossword. I had 5 yesterday. And I am proud of every little one of them. I have now taken to writing them out even if they are ‘jumpoutatcha’ kinda ones. In fact I wish there were more anagrams just so I could do them more. I once had 6 in the same day. Definitely a record that day.

    As for the puzzle, no stand out clues but a pleasant solve. And no obscurities either.

    Many thanks to the Don and to DT for a great blog.

    After a hellish day yesterday, I managed to ride out three times today. Heavenly and unexpected. Have a good weekend all.

  18. Salty Dog
    Posted December 18, 2015 at 5:28 pm | Permalink

    Very gentle, but by no means without enjoyment: 1*/3*. Favourite clue is 13a, but 27a gets an honourable mention. Thanks to Giovanni, and to DT.

  19. Kath
    Posted December 18, 2015 at 5:37 pm | Permalink

    I agree with everyone that it was straightforward so 1* difficulty and only 2* enjoyment as no clue particularly stood out and nothing made me laugh.
    I also tried for ages to make 1a ‘above’ all.
    I’ve absolutely never heard of ‘the last trump’ so I needed the hint to see why, or even if, my 2d answer was right.
    Spent far too long trying to make 9a an anagram of the wrong letters – thought the anagram indicator was ‘out’ – dim!
    I liked 18a and 17d. My favourite was, inevitably, 5a.
    With thanks to Giovanni and to Deep Threat.

  20. Waltzing
    Posted December 18, 2015 at 5:59 pm | Permalink

    Just for once I am doing the crossword on the day on which it is published so I have de-lurked to say how much I enjoy the blog. Brian, you are my favourite.
    I too thought that laughing stock was an object of derision but bow to the superior knowledge of Collins, Chambers and Kitty. Liked the last trump.
    I will shortly be battling with David Astle (Fridays in The Age). He will win. I wondered if any of you brains have a go at him and if so how you get on.

    • crypticsue
      Posted December 18, 2015 at 7:01 pm | Permalink

      Welcome to the blog

    • Kath
      Posted December 18, 2015 at 7:07 pm | Permalink

      Welcome from me too – this is a brilliant blog and I agree – I have a sneaking fondness for Brian – he certainly says it ‘like it is’ and doesn’t mess around mincing his words.
      I’ve never heard of The Age – I assume it’s a magazine or a newspaper of some kind and that David Astle sets a crossword but . . .
      Keep commenting. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_smile.gif

      • Waltzing
        Posted December 18, 2015 at 8:43 pm | Permalink

        The Age is a Melbourne daily newspaper. As you have contributors from overseas I thought that maybe someone had come across DA and his fiendish crosswords in which I sometimes manage to solve one or two clues…on a good day.

        • Miffypops
          Posted December 19, 2015 at 2:33 am | Permalink

          Melbourne? Is that in Australia? My brother lives there. His name is Neil. Do you know him?

          • Waltzing
            Posted December 19, 2015 at 9:18 am | Permalink

            Hmm, Neil Miffypops…….I don’t believe our paths have crossed but will look out for him!

  21. Jaylegs
    Posted December 18, 2015 at 6:12 pm | Permalink

    Nice easy solve, not over inspiring */*** ? Did like 1d & 2d thought they were rather clever ? Thanks to DT & to Giovanni

  22. mre
    Posted December 18, 2015 at 6:23 pm | Permalink

    Good evening everybody

    This puzzle seemed like it would soon be solved until I floundered on 2d, 3d and 12a. 12a and 2d were the prime culprits. I find the idea of the world ending with a ‘*****’ somewhat doubtful but no matter. How I failed to see 3d I know not. I also struggled with the logic for 6d.

    Update: Having looked at the review I see that putting in a wrong solution at 1a was the problem.


  23. 2Kiwis
    Posted December 18, 2015 at 6:47 pm | Permalink

    We also started off with ATE as the ending for 1d and this was probably the only thing that held us up at all in putting this one together. A pleasant, well crafted puzzle as we always enjoy solving on a Friday.
    Thanks Giovanni and DT.

  24. Kath
    Posted December 18, 2015 at 7:15 pm | Permalink

    Is it me or is the snow getting heavier . . . ? http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_unsure.gif

    • Merusa
      Posted December 18, 2015 at 7:26 pm | Permalink

      I’ve never been able to see the snow on my iPad or computer. I feel deprived!

    • Jane
      Posted December 18, 2015 at 7:27 pm | Permalink

      So that’s where it’s gone! Please can you send some back – mine’s almost disappeared.http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_sad.gif

    • Hanni
      Posted December 18, 2015 at 7:53 pm | Permalink

      Oh it’s not just me then. Lot’s of snow here too. It’s amazing how much time I can waste playing with it.

  25. jean-luc cheval
    Posted December 18, 2015 at 11:29 pm | Permalink

    Made the same mistakes in 1a and took the wrong letters for the anagram in 9a.
    But 3d saved the NW corner and everything fell back into place.
    Although quite straightforward, I found the surface of the clues very smooth.
    And no obscurities.
    Thanks to the Don and to DT for the review.

  26. Tstrummer
    Posted December 18, 2015 at 11:55 pm | Permalink

    Phew! After six nights on the trot at work, I’ve finally managed to get home on the same day that I left. And phew, too, for this gentle task from the Don after a week of harder than usual challenges. My only hold up was in NW corner where I was also in the Above all camp, but didn’t write it in because I wanted checkers to be sure – and they proved more tricky to come by, taking me into 2* time. No real favourite, but I liked the simple surface of 22a and the Lego of 29a. One of my two A-level geography teachers simply used to tell us to open our books at page whatever, and then proceed to read to us from the book that we had open in front of us, as if we were incapable of such a demanding task. The other, an older, more tyrannical Quelch type who taught physical geography, used to show us slide-shows of his wife standing in front of mountains of varying shapes and sizes. We all nearly died and I was sent to the headmaster after he intoned: “And this is Mrs Seymour with a cwm.”

    • Tstrummer
      Posted December 19, 2015 at 12:39 am | Permalink

      Oops. Forgot to thank the Don and DT – and wish both of them festive merriment unbounded

    • Jose
      Posted December 19, 2015 at 11:07 am | Permalink

      Ts, that’s a cracker – the anecdote about Mrs Seymour. But it will be lost on the younger ones – they won’t know what a cwm is or how to pronounce it. And if they learn that it’s a homophone of another word starting with a “qu”, they still might not know what that is either (it was common in the 60s and 70s as you know). It reminds me of when I was doing O-Level Geography in 1968 and Mr James was teaching us mnemonics to remember geographical facts, such as Tom Brown Has Short Fat Legs – the 6 Pottery towns in order from north to south. A few days later Andrew Wain stuck his hand up and said: “Sir, I’ve got a great way to remember the two rivers next to Southampton, from left to right”. “Go ahead, Wain”, said the teacher. He retorted: “Me testicles are itchin!”. (Test and Itchen). Well, you can imagine what a riot of giggling that caused……..

  27. Angel
    Posted December 19, 2015 at 12:06 am | Permalink

    Pleasant enough but nothing to write home about. Would never have thought of 6d as being unsuspecting. **/**. Thanks Giovanni and DT. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/icon_neutral.gif

  28. judetheobscure
    Posted December 19, 2015 at 9:00 am | Permalink

    I do find the star ratings intriguing.
    Wednesday and Thursday’s offerings were both rated at 3* – I thought they were more 2*. This crossword (Friday) I haven’t yet finished – 3 clues to go in the NW. If I finally finish it it will be 3*, if not it will be 4*. But the rating is a paltry 1* http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_scratch.gif

  29. judetheobscure
    Posted December 19, 2015 at 11:40 am | Permalink

    Finally finished. Not surprised I had difficulty with the NW as wasn’t overly impressed with the parsing of 1a and 2d (and like many others I had to force myself to let go of ‘above all’ in my mind). Liked 3d though when it finally clicked so that gets my favourite with 21d a close runner-up just because I love them :) Also agree with Tstrummer’s favourites and enjoyed the seasonal references.
    So 3* (maybe 2* at a push) / 3* for me.

  30. Cornishpasty
    Posted December 19, 2015 at 3:11 pm | Permalink

    Enjoyable but I got 5a wrong, I was going with Oxford shoes, a shine but could see nothing dreamy about it, hence the need to check. Now back to Thursday’s which I am making heavy weather of.