DT 27991 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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DT 27991

Daily Telegraph Cryptic No 27991

Hints and tips by Gazza

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

BD Rating – Difficulty **Enjoyment ***

I made swift progress through this one until I got to my last answer which was 6d. Even with two out of four checking letters in place I was getting nowhere until I remembered my earlier thought (on getting 25a and 16d) that the puzzle might be a pangram. Indeed it is and that was the help I needed to get 6d. Do let us know how you fared and what you thought of the puzzle.

I’ll be here tomorrow with the Toughie review but this is my last back-page blog before the festivities so I’ll take this opportunity to wish everyone – setters, bloggers, commenters and lurkers – a Very Happy Christmas.

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

8a Don’t make me laugh: instruction to trainee bellringer? (4,3,5,3)
PULL THE OTHER ONE – double definition, the second what the captain of the bellringing team might say to a trainee who’s taken hold of the wrong rope.

9a Antelope bagged by foreign upstart (3)
GNU – hidden (bagged) in the clue.

10a Mum and dad, perhaps oddly impersonal entertaining daughter (11)
PALINDROMES – an anagram (oddly) of IMPERSONAL containing the abbreviation for daughter.

11a Fur, black, entered in auction (5)
SABLE – the abbreviation for black goes inside an auction.

12a Evicted Doctor of Divinity shown around island cottage (9)
DISLODGED – the letters used to identify a Doctor of Divinity contain the 2-letter abbreviation for island and a cottage (one found at the gate to a country house, for example).

15a Arab from second tribe featured in article (7)
SARACEN – start with the abbreviation for a second then insert a tribe or ethnic group into an indefinite article.

17a Swindler swindled? Turn a blind eye (7)
CONDONE – charade of a term for a swindler and an informal past participle meaning swindled. Chambers doesn’t recognise the first word on its own as meaning a swindler – it usually has to be followed by another word such as ‘artist’.

19a Powerful ruler in old marquee introduced to head (9)
POTENTATE – the abbreviation for old and a marquee or temporary shelter go inside an old word for a person’s head.

20a Member of religious group sitting in orchestra stalls (5)
RASTA – hidden (sitting) in the clue.

21a Carpenter’s power-driven piece of machinery noticed on flier (8,3)
CIRCULAR SAW – a verb meaning noticed or spotted follows (on, in an across clue) a flier or pamphlet.

24a Break down  rubbish (3)
ROT – double definition, the first a verb to break down or decay and the second an informal word meaning rubbish or nonsense.

25a Dark horse, any one of the last three characters? (7,8)
UNKNOWN QUANTITY – another double definition. The last three letters of the alphabet are used in mathematics as variables whose value is yet to be ascertained.

Down Clues

1d Sudden downpour in Cape followed by noisy crack (10)
CLOUDBURST – the abbreviation used on maps for Cape is followed by an adjective meaning noisy and a verb to crack or break open.

2d Basic flat round centre of Ripon (6)
STAPLE – an adjective meaning flat, like old draught beer, goes round the central letter of Ripon.

3d Ring a teacher at university over North American drug (10)
BELLADONNA – string together an informal verb to ring or telephone someone, A (from the clue), a university teacher and the abbreviations for North and American.

4d Small tailless fish cause amazement (4)
STUN – the abbreviation for small is followed by a type of edible fish without its final letter (tailless).

5d Awfully neat word for ‘destroy‘ (4,4)
TEAR DOWN – an anagram (awfully) of NEAT WORD.

6d Shoot reserve, male (4)
ZOOM – this reserve is a place where wild animals are kept protected. Add the abbreviation for male.

7d Fully acquainted with poetry with depth (6)
VERSED – another word for poetry and the abbreviation for depth.

8d Margaret’s astride a US steed that’s legendary (7)
PEGASUS – one of the many diminutive forms of the name Margaret plus the ‘S go round (astride) A (from the clue). Finish with US (also given in the clue).

13d Acknowledged fuss: c-clue’s faulty (10)
SUCCESSFUL – an anagram (faulty) of FUSS C-CLUE’S.

14d Freight carrier, reliable type (5,5)
GOODS TRAIN – split the answer 4,6 and you have a reliable type or variety.

16d Magician working in clubs, member of panel (8)
CONJUROR – insert an adverb meaning working or in operation between the abbreviation for the card suit clubs and a member of a panel selected to judge.

18d Just ten appear in play in cathedral city (7)
EXACTLY – the Roman numeral for ten and a verb to appear or perform in a play go inside a cathedral city in Cambridgeshire.

19d Collect truck (4-2)
PICK-UP – if you replace the hyphen with a space this becomes a phrasal verb meaning to collect or call for.

20d Arguing in line in front of gymnasium (6)
ROWING – stitch together a line or tier, IN (from the clue) and the front letter of gymnasium.

22d Dissolute man in horse-drawn carriage blowing top (4)
RAKE – start with an open horse-drawn carriage with four wheels and drop the initial B (blowing top).

23d Relative lean and haggard? Not good (4)
AUNT – an adjective meaning lean and haggard without the G(ood).

Clue of the day for me is 10a. Which one(s) tickled your fancy?

Today’s Quickie Pun: NEIGH + PULLS = NAPLES

66 comments on “DT 27991

  1. Excellent crossword except for 25a which I though just plain daft!
    Shame as the rest was very enjoyable. Best clue for me was 10a which was very clever.
    Thx to all

        1. Me too – it was my second one in after 8 across and I thought it was the best clue of the whole crossie. It gave both of us old codgers here a chuckle at any rate.
          Thanks to all the setters for some greatly entertaining stuff again this past year and thanks too to all you bloggers for your efforts. Happy Christmas to you all out there and here’s to 2016 – let’s hope it’s a good year. Btw – c’mon you Foxes!!! 2016 might just be a wee bit special.

    1. I put Brian in at 25 across. Big Dave at 19 across. Brian again at 20 across. Tstrummer at 16 down (he is a wizard and a true star) and Miffypops in at 23 down. Hanni rides out so I put her in at 22d.

  2. 1* or maybe 2* (because of the time that 6d took me) for difficulty and 3* for enjoyment.
    Apart from 6d this was as close as a crossword ever is for me to being a read and write.
    Very few anagrams – two, or can’t I count?
    As usual I missed the palindrome and I also missed the second hidden answer – 20a – until I had three of the five letters in. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/icon_rolleyes.gif
    I didn’t think 13d made a lot of sense.
    I liked 17a and 6d, eventually. My favourite was either 10 or 25a.
    With thanks to Mr Ron and thanks and Happy Christmas to Gazza.
    It was a good thing that this one didn’t take too long – off to London now to collect our first two Christmas visitors – Elder Lamb’s cats!

  3. Loved this one from Mr Ron with lots of very pleasing clues. We raced through it initially but in fact made a stupid mistake on 12a. Many thanks to Gazza and Captain Scarlet’s nemesis for a lovely start to the day. Now it’s on with the last-minute preparations for the ‘festive’ season!

    A little Christmas treat …..


  4. I enjoyed this offering & thought 25A was clever but top marks go to 10A. Last one in for me was also 6D having pondered different meanings of reserve & shoot then the penny dropped.Many thanks to the setter & Gazza for his review?

  5. Refreshing, and of the difficulty level I needed this morning. Plenty of gimmes to provide a firm foothold, then a few which required a little more thought. All in all a crossword that, like the weather, could have appeared in spring. Perhaps if I just close my eyes…

    For hard-to-explain reasons I struggled to get 13d. I had all the ingredients but couldn’t see where to deploy them.

    I took a while to get 6d too, but went through the alphabet and enjoyed the penny drop as I got to the end.

    I kept thinking apocalyptic things for 25a, knowing full well that there are four horsemen not three. If I hadn’t already exhausted my back page favourites allocation for the year, this would win today.

    3d was also a nice antidote to the prickly and hemiparasitic plants prevalent at this time of year.

    Gazza’s favourite would have won on another day.

    Thanks to the setter and Gazza.

    Now for the imminent invasion…

  6. 2*/3* today for this enjoyable offering from Mr Ron. 10 and 25 across my standout favourites and 16 down my last one in. Many thanks to the aforementioned and Gazza for his very readable blog.

  7. taking the kids to star wars today. Dreading the traffic and parking at the trafford centre, so will leave well on time.

    Gentle pangram today. 6d was my last one in as well. I’d forgotten about it, and when i reached the bottom i submitted, and was reminded by the “you have made 1 error” message.

    I liked 10a (mum & dad), 17a (swindler swindled), 21a (noticed on flier) and 25a (last 3 characters) – that seems to overlap nicely with everyone else so far.

    I wondered whether the two halves in 24a and 19d were quite closely related, but maybe just my own associations

    Many thanks setter and Gazza

  8. Excellent crossword favourite clues 25a and 16d, when I started attempting the puzzles I found them very trying but by reading the hints I struggled on. Now I can happily report that I can complete them without resulting to the “click here” or indeed the hints. No doubt in the future I will get well and truly bamboozled. Many thanks to Gazza and setter.
    A very merry Xmas to you all and a prosperous new year

  9. Cracking puzzle. Very enjoyable. Thanks to all who have anything to do with site. Howsoever you do so.

  10. **/****

    Lovely stuff.

    Like others my last in was 6d and helped by the pangram. Clever. Even spotted the hiddens today. Lots to like with 1a, 25a and 16d. Favourite by far is 10a. Not only a great clue but I am one.

    Many thanks to the setter and to Gazza for a great blog. Happy Christmas!

    Torrential rain on the moors, no riding it seems and far to much work in front of me. I think I’ll make some tea and toast.

  11. Very enjoyable – I started like train getting the first five across clues without thinking – it all fell into place very easily. I too was left with 6d and had to reach out for assistance, I understand the wordplay but can’t see how the answer means ‘shoot’ – ah well, it’s probably being a bit nit-picky (if there’s such a word!).

    I wonder if there’s a good old British film on the goggle-box – that would make my day – I saw ‘Ice Cold in Alex’ the other day for the umpteenth time, I never tire of it – brilliant!


    I’m getting error 524 – I’ll try again for the fourth time!

  12. This was a historic crossword for me. The first one I didn’t have to use this page to finish it off. I’m getting better !!!!

      1. Well done indeed Dylan….as aspiring debutants we couldn’t get ‘zoom’ without the help of Gazza!

  13. Possibly just over the 1* time as I needed the checkers in place to get 21&25a and thought at first that I was looking for a word ending in ‘D’ for 17a.
    6d went in OK although I was glad of the pangram to confirm. Actually I think ‘reserve’ is much too pleasant a word to use for several of the zoos I’ve either seen or read about.
    Wondered whether 8a might be too ‘British’ for some of our overseas friends?
    13d was certainly ‘iffy’ – I thought perhaps the wording of the clue was almost an apology from the setter!
    Leader board shows 10,21&25a plus 14d.
    Many thanks to both Mr. Ron and Gazza – if I don’t make it across to the ‘other side’ tomorrow, all the best to you for the festive season and my gratitude for your unstinting help over the year. Look forward to meeting you in January.

  14. As most have said, a straightforward puzzle with 6d being the hold-up for a wee while.

    Thanks to Gazza and setter */***

  15. Right up my street! */***. This was virtually a R&W for me and I agree with Mrs B that 25a was a neat clue. Thanks to the setter and Gazza for the review.

  16. Thanks to Mr Ron and to Gazza for the review and hints. A very nice puzzle. Luckily I managed to get 6d after some thought. It was my favourite, only a three word clue, but tricky. Also liked 10a. Last in was 3d. Was 1*/3* for me. Happy Christmas to everyone.

  17. Lovely one.. Favourite was 10a,was determined to get paren—– in before the penny dropped. (seem to remember a Monty Python sketch ‘ The palindrome of Bolton is Notlob’). Thought 25a clever also.
    Thanks to the setter and Gazza for brightening up a miserable afternoon.

  18. Quite a little cracker with only 25a & 6d holding me back. Solved 25a and then the pangram radar came on (far too late) to help with 6d.

    Thanks to all involved.

    Off out to the cinema to see Star Wars with my mate and his young lad. The young lad (Simon) is kicking and screaming that he doesn’t want to go. That’s the problem with the youth of today – ungrateful http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_yes.gif

    1. Youngest child type thing is desperate to see it. I shall dispatch her with an appropriate adult, or her father, after Christmas. I liked the original ones, despite giving me a fear of giant octopuses, but I’m not sold on the new ones.

      1. I’d pay good money NOT to see it. I never saw the first three or six, however many there have been!

        1. Definitely six Merusa…daughter has the box set. She’s watching them all in the holidays, again.

          How was it SL?

          1. Funnily enough, I’ve been trying to comment on the site for a bit – but it keeps freezing on me. Thank Heavens for ‘copy’

            I haven’t been to our local cinema for a year or so and after this evening – I will be doing an Arnie / General McArthur! It’s a refurbished Odeon with VIP leather, electric reclining seats and a brilliant 2D auditorium for 50% less than it costs in an IMAX. You can even get wine, beer and spirits to take into the movie. Beats the pants off popcornhttp://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_wacko.gif

            I’ve always enjoyed Star Wars (episodes IV, V & VI), not so keen on the prequel lot (episodes I,II & III). The current episode is pretty much a rerun of episode III but with some interesting twists. The only downside was how bad Carrie Fisher’s teeth fitted below her botoxed upper lip. Other than that, It was great.

            Simon loved it and my mate and I are ‘so cool’ to have so much Star Wars knowledge. I haven’t enjoyed a night out at the cinema for such a long time and seeing so many smiling faces coming out after the performance was super http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_good.gif

            1. Oh glad you enjoyed it, and Simon thought you were cool. I have not seen the last two so can’t comment. When the child type thing wants to watch I tune out with laptop and earphones in one ear.

              You’re right about the improvement in cinemas though. I love the whole taking wine in now. I still have a soft spot for old ones though. Zeffirellis in Ambleside and one in Thirsk (not sure that is even open now) are wonderful.

              Now if Dior could do 3D glasses I might consider going more.

              1. Sorry, can’t be doing with 3D – it makes me feel nauseous. When you see how much it costs for a night out at an IMAX for 2 adults and a kid with all the extras and the ‘jobsworth police’ at the screen entrance to ensure you do not smuggle in any contraband, it was very refreshing that it cost us less than £35 at the Odeon. Cheap as chips http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_good.gif

                1. I saw one of the Pirates of the Caribbean films about 4 years ago in 3D. First time. Gosh stuff really does ‘come’ out at you!

                  Ahh the smuggling thing. I am a master of it. One of the joys of riding is that I am handy with a hip flask. Handy with about 4 of them actually! And one of my friends Pippa can get decent wine glasses in too.

                  Nope, still glad I don’t have to see Star Wars.

  19. Nice and straightforward */*** the only tiny fly in the otherwise sea of tranquility was 6d, which I now understand thanks to Gazza’s Police Car zooming/shooting past ? Favourite 10a & 24a. I have the feeling that I am missing something about 25a ? And is the pangram just the fact that all letters of the alphabet are used in the solution! Seasons Greetings to Gazza & Mr Ron and to all contributors to the blog ?

    1. You’re right about a pangram – see the FAQ for more info.
      A dark horse is someone whose abilities or character are not known and the letters x, y and z are used in algebra as variables or unknown quantities. So the clue is a double definition.

  20. Pretty benign stuff I thought and my only problem was self-inflicted. I put DISHOUSED in 12a. Well, it’s in Collins with the definition “to cast out of a house” so it seemed to work.

    Otherwise*/***from me.

    Off to Benidorm tomorrow for the festivities so it’s a Merry Christmas to one and all. Hope you all have a good one.

    Thanks to the setter and to Gazza for today’s entertainment.

    1. We put disgorged in there for some silly reason which has something to do with Champagne making.

  21. No stupid errors for me today thank goodness! Virtually a R&W but pleasant enough while it lasted. Favourite clue was 8a which brought an early smile. I also liked 14d and 17a. 1.5/3* overall.
    Thanks to Mr Ron and Gazza.

  22. Apart from 6d which was my last one in, I did not encounter many difficulties in completing this enjoyable puzzle. Like Kath thought that 13d clue was a bit convoluted! Hesitating between 10a and 6d for favourite… 1.5*/3*. Many thanks to setter and to Gazza for he review. Miserable day here in Sussex!

  23. Good afternoon everybody.

    I made life harder by initially entering DISHOUSED at 12a but eventually saw my error. Favourite clues were last one in 17a and 10a – a variation on a very old theme that always seems to elude me – but the stand out clue was the excellent 25a. All in all just about spot on for a back page puzzle.


  24. Spotting the pangram helped to get 6d too.
    Didn’t need any outside help to solve the crossword as every clue was fair with straightforward answers.
    Liked the lurker in 20a.
    Thanks to the setter and to Gazza for the review.

  25. Very enjoyable and nothing too tricky thankfully. I’m glad I read Gazza’s introduction beforehand as it definitely provided the requisite nudge for 6d’s initial letter – thank you Gazza!

    I liked 25a (sorry Brian) but favourite for me was 17a.

    Great entertainment from our anonymous setter and a very Merry Christmas to Gazza.

  26. My process for getting 6d was exactly as Gazza described it in his preamble. That was the only significant hold up and 10 gets my vote for favourite. Good fun.
    Thanks Mr Ron and Gazza.

  27. Very entertaining puzzle.
    My last in was 6d, and, like most, by that time I knew it had to be a pangram so that solved that.
    Liked 8a and 25a (very clever), but runaway fave was 10a.
    Thanks to setter and to Gazza for his review.

  28. Perfect, some easy and some needing lots of thought. 6d was also my last in .
    Lots to like, 3d, 10a, and 25a and many more.
    Thanks to the setter and Gazza.

  29. Another one, like yesterday’s, completed without fuss or delay. We’d give it 1.5*/2*. We saw nothing wrong with 25a but we did think 13d was a horrid, ugly clue and we deducted one star just for that! Thanks anyway to Mr Ron for the puzzle and Gazza for the review.

  30. I liked it quite muchly. After working 9 out of the last 10 nights – and I have to be back at the grindstone in 10 hours’ time – I was glad of a fairly gentle ride. Three quarters slipped in like an eel into a doughnut, but I was left needing another drink before twigging 10a and finally, like most others, 6d. Never noticed the pangram, which would have helped, but got there by going through the alphabet. 3d and 18d will have to go behind the bike sheds and scrap it out for top-dog status. I’ll hold their coats. Everyone’s offering season’s greetings, but there are two more puzzles to go before the turkey and plum pudding (that no one wants because they’ve all eaten too many sprouts), so I’ll just wish Gazza the compliments of the season and, I hope, see the rest of you tomorrow. 2*/4*

  31. Puzzle much enjoyed
    . A 2* -3* for me with, unusually, no need for hints. Thanks to Gazza and setter and to all other contributors to this site – recently discovered but regularly enjoyed.

  32. I managed to misdirect myself over 10a, and as a result could not work out 3d, 4d, 5d and 6d. I came up with “parenthesis”, on the basis of Mum (parent), Dad (he) and daughter (sis). Well, it almost worked…

  33. Agree with Gazza. It was plain sailing all the way until I hit tha last one, 6d. Had to work my way through all the letters of the alphabet – it took a while ;)
    2*/3* – a pleasant solve with 10a and 15a my favourites.

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