DT 27994 (Hints)

Daily Telegraph Cryptic No 27994 (Hints)

Big Dave’s Saturday Crossword Club

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I hope you all enjoyed Christmas – over 3,000 of you found time to check into the blog yesterday!

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.


1a    Fish go to the bottom crossing lake (8)
A verb meaning to go to the bottom or sink around L(ake)

10a    Stable studies article probing series of races (8)
An adjective meaning stable is derived from a verb meaning studies followed by the two-letter indefinite article inside a series of motorcycle races

13a    Farrago, initially? (8,4)
This farrago or disordered mixture is made up of single letters (initials)

16a    Small one replacing article in row elsewhere in store (8,4)
S(mall) followed by a row or argument in which the indefinite article is replaced by I one) and finally an adverb meaning elsewhere gives a verb meaning to store or hoard

19a    Trick gained by one with clubs, after finesse (6)
I (one) and C(lubs) preceded by finesse or diplomacy

23a    Pomade, perhaps — mention different types, initially (8)
This preparation, of which pomade is an example (perhaps), is derived from an anagram (different) of MENTION followed by the initial letter of T[ypes]

25a    English bridge player following female showing the least (6)
E(nglish) and a four-letter bridge player preceded by F(emale)

26a    Novel finish in my novel about love (8)
A three-letter finish followed by an anagram (novel) of IN MY around O (love) gives the title of a novel, better known as the title of the poem which includes the line “A thing of beauty is a joy for ever” but that wouldn’t suit the surface reading


2d    Folly of girl touring North America (6)
A girl’s name around the abbreviation for North America

3d    Enclosure covered in mud, though maiden not appearing to tip over (2-3)
A three-letter enclosure inside (covered in) [M]UD from which the M(aiden) has been dropped not appearing)

4d    Anger after first of dogs is showing viral illness (9)
A six-letter word meaning anger preceded by the initial letter first) of D[ogs) and IS from the clue

7d    On the move, coot is stalked by cat in film (9)
An anagram (on the move) of COOT followed by an affectionate word for a cat

14d    Totally absorbed, warden playing entertaining piano in gym (9)
An anagram (playing) of WARDEN around P(iano) and a two-letter abbreviation for gym

17d    Pop song with odd title, extremely bizarre (3,2,2)
An anagram (odd) of TITLE followed by the outer letters (extremely) of B[izarr]E

18d    Husband leaving play for opera based on it (6)
Drop the H(usband) from the title of a play by Shakespeare to get the title of an opera by Verdi based on said play

22d    Not all of Belloc? Umbrian shows relief (5)
Hidden (not all of) inside the clue gives, for example, a relief doctor

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: bok+sing+daze=Boxing Days


  1. Brian
    Posted December 26, 2015 at 11:31 am | Permalink

    Got answers for all but don’t understand many of them. Very tough I thought even for a prize puzzle. For me 3.5/2.5. Still don’t really understand 13a even after looking up Farago. Not much fun this one but great news, the 1st Test Match is on Sky, super way to spend Boxing Day morning, http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_good.gif

    • Heno
      Posted December 26, 2015 at 2:51 pm | Permalink

      Farrago is a mixture, so the clue points you to a mixture of initials. I can’t say any more, or I’ll be in Naughty Corner :-)

  2. Caravaggio
    Posted December 26, 2015 at 11:31 am | Permalink

    At first sight, I thought that this was going to be something of a slog but, as it turned out, it wasn’t. I could see what the answer was for 24a but I had to resort to Chambers to provide a definition that I’ve never heard of in this part of the world. It just goes to prove that a copy of the Big Red Book should be in every cruciverbalist’s library. A happy and prosperous 2016 to one and all.

    • Vancouverbc
      Posted December 26, 2015 at 3:46 pm | Permalink

      Father Christmas brought me my first ever copy of the BRB. And this also clarified 24a for me – a term I’d never heard either. A fair challenge with a slow finish for the SE corner. Thanks to all.

  3. Miffypops
    Posted December 26, 2015 at 11:48 am | Permalink

    13across. If you eat too much of that you might have a massive vowel movement. Hi to all. ta to all..

    • Paso Doble
      Posted December 26, 2015 at 11:54 am | Permalink

      Lavatorial cruciverbalist humour – never not funny. Well done, MP!

      • Robin Newman
        Posted December 26, 2015 at 4:43 pm | Permalink

        misread vowel initially, really

  4. Paso Doble
    Posted December 26, 2015 at 11:57 am | Permalink

    Very enjoyable workout for Boxing Day. Many thanks to BD for the hints and to the Setter. Looking forward to Liverpool v Leicester this afternoon and Van Gaal’s departure should Man U lose at Stoke.

    • Shropshirelad
      Posted December 26, 2015 at 2:23 pm | Permalink

      I think you may have your wish PD

  5. dutch
    Posted December 26, 2015 at 11:57 am | Permalink

    No problem with the song or the film, but had to guess the opera and the novel from the checkers and confirm, they were the last ones in.

    I really liked 13a- very clever, and a nice use of “farrago”. I also thought 19a was very clever – very nice bridge surface reading. I have a soft spot for old chestnuts that are beautifully executed – how can “thorough appraisal dictates changes” (11a) fail to please

    Many thanks setter and Big Dave

  6. Kitty
    Posted December 26, 2015 at 12:10 pm | Permalink

    A mixed bag for me. Needed a couple of googles to confirm half-known things in the SE, but am pleased because I spotted the nina. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_yahoo.gif

    Thanks to the setter and BD.

    • Senf
      Posted December 26, 2015 at 12:36 pm | Permalink

      Ninas remain somewhat of a mystery to me. And, even after your comment that there is one today, I still can’t see it. As this is a prize puzzle, can you make any suggestions without being sent to the naughty corner? Thanks.

      • Kitty
        Posted December 26, 2015 at 12:51 pm | Permalink

        Take a look at the edges, Senf http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_smile.gif.

        • Senf
          Posted December 26, 2015 at 1:05 pm | Permalink

          Thank you Kitty, greatly appreciated. I might get the hang of Ninas one day.

        • Rai
          Posted December 26, 2015 at 8:56 pm | Permalink

          What excellent setting, but please why a “Nina”? (BTW, there are also two niner blocks in the puzzle.)

          • crypticsue
            Posted December 26, 2015 at 9:05 pm | Permalink

            The question about ninas is asked frequently. Click on the FAQ tab at the top of the page and you’ll find the answer to this question and many more

    • Shropshirelad
      Posted December 26, 2015 at 1:28 pm | Permalink

      Hi Kitty – the NINA appears again in the across and down clues. The paper version even highlights them.

      • Fred Snowball
        Posted December 26, 2015 at 1:53 pm | Permalink

        Just discovered Ninas from this .. thanks!

        Looking at the print edition, I don’t see how the Nina is highlighted even though I can see it?

        • crypticsue
          Posted December 26, 2015 at 2:02 pm | Permalink

          Welcome Fred.

        • Shropshirelad
          Posted December 26, 2015 at 2:15 pm | Permalink

          Hi Fred – welcome to the blog. In my paper the first letters of the clues are in ‘bold’ type and the rest of the clue is indented which also makes the first letter stand out, that’s not the way the clues are normally printed. Maybe ‘highlighted’ was the wrong term http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_scratch.gif

      • Kitty
        Posted December 26, 2015 at 2:29 pm | Permalink

        That’s very clever, SL. The same nina in three places, with the right number of across clues, down clues and edge squares to make that all possible. There’s no highlighting of any kind in the masochist’s edition, but still, I’m annoyed now that I only spotted the one in the grid :( .

      • Stone Lee
        Posted December 26, 2015 at 5:50 pm | Permalink

        Thanks to Kitty and SL for pointing out the Ninas – this was a new term to me but will definitely look out for them in the future. Thanks to BD for explaining 16a. Overall 3* for difficulty – enjoyment gone up to 3* having seen the ninas – well done to the setter, very clever.

  7. Senf
    Posted December 26, 2015 at 12:15 pm | Permalink

    A gentle, not very exciting ‘plod’ through this one and completed before lights out last night. No real stand out clues for me, but I did like 13a and 16a.

  8. Little Dave
    Posted December 26, 2015 at 12:21 pm | Permalink

    All done but a few clunky clues I thought. Watching cricket in between rain delays. Off to Cape T on Wednesday so hoping for better weather at the most beautiful ground in world cricket. Except Lord’s of course. Thanks to BD and The Setter.

  9. Airhead
    Posted December 26, 2015 at 12:55 pm | Permalink

    SE corner is a challenge. I’ll go off and gorge on some more sugar treats and it may fall into place.

  10. Michael
    Posted December 26, 2015 at 12:57 pm | Permalink

    I think the envelopes got mixed up again, don’t they know that, although it’s Boxing Day, it’s also a Saturday and we have an easy one on a Saturday!

    Needless to say I struggled with this one, I had an idea what Farrago was but had to look it up and had no idea what the answer to the clue was – struggle, struggle, struggle – having a thick head this morning didn’t help but the red wine did help me get some sleep!

    24a was a new meaning for the word to me, but it’s in the BRB so it must be right!
    26a I needed to seek external help!

    Sport all the way today, plus some more red wine and an enormous buffet for the mob!


  11. Clarky
    Posted December 26, 2015 at 1:28 pm | Permalink

    Just right for Boxing Day morning.
    Not familiar with 26a but helpful wife confirmed my guess. Similarly, I asked what was the expression one uses to describe what ‘certain small rodents’ do with their nuts. Doh!
    Thanks to setter and BD as always.

  12. Kath
    Posted December 26, 2015 at 1:30 pm | Permalink

    Going by what BD said about over three thousand people looking at the site yesterday that means only about 1% of them commented – I do find it really odd – oh well!
    I found this one quite difficult to get started on but eventually got going and have finished now.
    I got into a 24a with 13 and 16a and, as usual, completely missed the Nina – thanks Kitty for pointing it out.
    I did spot the hidden answer.
    For some reason 19a was my last one.
    I liked 11 and 24a and 7d. My favourite was 17d.
    With thanks to Mr Ron and to BD and have a good Boxing Day, everyone.
    We’re all off to Sheffield in a minute to see sister, nephews, nieces etc etc – will take NTSPP with me if there’s room for all those heads in the car!

  13. Shropshirelad
    Posted December 26, 2015 at 1:34 pm | Permalink

    Pretty straight forward but enjoyable nonetheless. Last one in was 26a – a new one on me.

    Thanks to setter for the puzzle and BD for everything else.

  14. Heno
    Posted December 26, 2015 at 2:59 pm | Permalink

    Thanks to the setter and to Big Dave for the hints. A very enjoyable puzzle, but quite tricky. Some really good clues. Great Nina. Favourite was 13a. Was 3*/3* for me.

  15. jean-luc cheval
    Posted December 26, 2015 at 3:13 pm | Permalink

    What an extremely clever crossword.
    The three Ninas prove how much work has gone into creating this enjoyable puzzle.
    Very good surface all round.
    I’m on a roll. Even managed to crack Elgar’s double trouble toughie.
    Thanks to the Saturday setter and to BD for the blog.

  16. njm
    Posted December 26, 2015 at 3:43 pm | Permalink

    After my first scan led to only 2 solved out of 14 across clues, this turned out to be surprisingly easy to do. SE corner went in last, not surprising considering 26a and 18d being a little esoteric!
    1.5/4* for me. Thanks to the compiler for an excellent puzzle and to BD for the blog.

  17. Framboise
    Posted December 26, 2015 at 4:57 pm | Permalink

    Was foxed by 26a but got it thanks to BD’s hint – I did know the line but not the title of the poem. Otherwise very enjoyable and doable, a treat. The ninas completely passed me by! Even with the various hints and tips, I still can see them. I must be nina-blind! 13a will get my vote for favourite. 2*/4*. Hope everybody’s Christmas was a good one.

  18. Robin Newman
    Posted December 26, 2015 at 5:03 pm | Permalink

    no wish to quibble with what I found an excellent crossword, but I do wonder at the accuracy of the definition to the answer to 9A

    • Senf
      Posted December 26, 2015 at 5:40 pm | Permalink

      The Chambers Crossword dictionary shows the answer in the listing for the first word of the clue, so it must be accurate.

    • Waltzing
      Posted December 26, 2015 at 5:42 pm | Permalink

      As above. It struck me as a strange definition too. Off to pack a suitcase now, leaving for sunnier climes. Happy New Year to all!

  19. Merusa
    Posted December 26, 2015 at 5:48 pm | Permalink

    Very difficult to get a toehold, but great fun once in.
    I knew 28a as a poem, but had enough letters to work it out.
    Fave was 17d as I love the song.
    This must have been set by a very, very clever Mr. Ron, no less than three ninas, must be a record. And a very clever Shropshire lad for spotting them!
    Thanks to setter and to BD for his hints.

  20. Una
    Posted December 26, 2015 at 6:36 pm | Permalink

    Lots of lovely clues :2d, 7d, 17d , 13a and 16a. I didn’t think it was too hard, maybe just a little mechanical at times.
    Thanks to the setter and BD.

  21. Tstrummer
    Posted December 26, 2015 at 10:49 pm | Permalink

    Most enjoyable, not too tricky, although I also had not heard of the novel, only the poem and so had to check. I never saw any of the Ninas but thanks to Kitty and SL for pointing them out. Jolly clever of the mystery setter. Lots of clues to like but the pine logs go to 13a, the flesh to 11a and the wine to 13d. Many thanks to BD and the setter. Early night for me, for tomorrow is my eldest son’s wedding. 1.5*/3*

  22. Young Salopian
    Posted December 27, 2015 at 9:30 am | Permalink

    I completed this one a day late as we had house guests from the States yesterday (they are still in bed as I write. Must be our hospitality). I found this quite tricky, and well into 3* territory for difficulty, but still a solid 3* for enjoyment. Great fun, pretty clever in places and a joy to solve. Thanks to the setter and BD. Continue to enjoy the festivities.

  23. Leveret
    Posted December 27, 2015 at 10:18 am | Permalink

    Very difficult for me. Still can’t get 6d. Nice to learn about what a ‘NINA’ is – very clever to pick the right day!

    • crypticsue
      Posted December 27, 2015 at 10:47 am | Permalink

      As I used to say to Brian before he took up my challenge to check before questioning definitions etc, look up the first word of the clue in the dictionary and all should become clear.

  24. Dinosaur Pete
    Posted December 27, 2015 at 2:09 pm | Permalink

    Wish I could say that I enjoyed this one as much as the last couple of days which were distracting to say the least !
    Finally sat down in peace and quiet to concentrate on it ( which made a big difference) and so have filled in all the squares with considerable electronic help and, as usual BD’s hints, so once again many thanks to him.
    I say I’ve filled in all the squares but not convinced some of the answers !

    Never mind, Happy New Year everyone !!

  25. Sarah
    Posted December 27, 2015 at 3:21 pm | Permalink

    Well here I am, a day late! I hope everyone had a great Christmas. I found this a bit of a struggle but that may be because the offspring are watching storage hunters which is a bit distracting. Anyway I was very grateful for the hints which have put me back on track. Happy New Year to you all ???

  26. Florence
    Posted December 27, 2015 at 5:35 pm | Permalink

    In London yesterday for a family trip to the theatre, so a day late with this one. Sons seem to have commandeered the TV this afternoon for wall to wall rugby. One supports Saracens the other Quins. A good opportunity for me to put my feet up in a different room without a TV. I only know 26a as a poem, so need to do some research. Favourite had to be 13a. Thanks to the setter and to BD.

  27. Miranda Lewis
    Posted December 27, 2015 at 6:10 pm | Permalink

    I have hit a brick wall with 9a, 16 a, 24 a, 15d and 14d. any thoughts.

    • Posted December 27, 2015 at 7:14 pm | Permalink

      9a Admits tenants not right from the start (6)
      Some tenants without the R(ight) from the start of the word

      16a – see above hint

      24a Hot water for mischievous child? (6)
      Two definitions – the first being a difficult situation

      14d – see above hint

      15d Even a sequel shot around island (8)
      An anagram (shot ) of A SEQUEL around I(sland)

  28. Josh
    Posted December 28, 2015 at 6:53 pm | Permalink

    Arrrrgghh…. why have you missed out 24a? I just can’t get it!!

    • Posted December 28, 2015 at 7:05 pm | Permalink

      You have changed your alias – which put your comment into moderation.

      I have already given a hint for 24a – see my reply to Miranda at comment #27 above