DT 27996 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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DT 27996

Daily Telegraph Cryptic No 27996

Hints and tips by Gazza

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

BD Rating – Difficulty **Enjoyment **

Wonders will never cease – the sun’s shining and there’s no rain this morning here in North Devon. I hope the same applies in those areas of the North of England which have been devastated by flooding and that those suffering there will be able to return to normal as soon as possible.

I thought that this was a fairly 13a type of puzzle with a few good clues but also some pretty weak ones. Do let us know how you fared and what you thought of it.

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 A lilac jug missing top represented emperor (8)
CALIGULA – an anagram (re-presented) of A LILAC [j]UG gives us the name of a Roman emperor famed for his excesses.

9a Traded item with European instead of old specialist (6)
EXPERT – start with a traded item sent abroad and replace the O(ld) with the abbreviation for European.

10a Energetic figure discussed part of India (3)
GOA – this Indian state sounds like (discussed) an energetic, or possibly promiscuous, person.

11a Source of heat in a cold run when struggling (8)
CAULDRON – an anagram (when struggling) of A COLD RUN. I take the answer here to be a situation characterised by strong emotions rather than a cooking vessel.

12a Withdraw wine close to unpalatable around church (6)
RECEDE – a type of wine and the closing letter of unpalatable contain the abbreviation for the Church of England.

13a Bland  description of traffic island? (6-2-3-4)
MIDDLE-OF-THE-ROAD – double definition, the first normally used to describe a bland, unadventurous type of music.

15a Celebratory gathering one might see in dens? (4-3)
SEND-OFF – this is a reverse anagram. If you take the second bit of the answer as an anagram indicator and make an anagram of the first bit you should end up with ‘dens’.

18a Accidentally repeated delivery from good man with tool in East End (7)
STAMMER – the abbreviation for a good, holy man is followed by how someone in the East End of London might pronounce a striking tool.

21a Safe device I used after brush with people getting forward (11,4)
COMBINATION LOCK – I (from the clue) follows a verb to brush or groom. After that we have a people or race and a rugby forward. I’m not sure that the verb at the start is really a synonym of to brush.

24a The Italian’s after fast food for vegetarian (6)
LENTIL – one of the words for ‘the’ in Italian follows a fast in the Christian calendar.

25a Batting, what batsman adopts as illustration (8)
INSTANCE – charade of an adverb meaning batting (in cricket) and the position a batsman adopts at the crease.

26a Type lawyer initially ignored (3)
ILK – a word used to mean a Queen’s Counsel (derived from the material used to make his or her gown) without its first letter.

27a Daughter detained by drinks in Cheshire town (6)
WIDNES – the abbreviation for daughter goes inside (detained by) alcoholic drinks.

28a Loner unexpectedly was first on a course? (8)
ENROLLED – an anagram (unexpectedly) of LONER followed by a verb meaning was first or headed the field.

Down Clues

1d Seasoned meat? It gets left with friend in bistro (6)
SALAMI – ‘it’ here is an informal word for personal magnetism in the romantic sense. We need an abbreviation that means the same thing and that’s followed by L(eft) and the word for a male friend in the country where you’re most likely to find a bistro.

2d Man, perhaps, blocking executive given wrong information (6)
MISLED – if you see Man capitalised at the start of a clue you should think immediately of the bit of land stuck in the Irish Sea. Put that inside an abbreviation for the top executive in an organisation.

3d Iraq unit falters after mobilising, one of eight in field (7-8)
QUARTER-FINALIST – an anagram (after mobilising) of IRAQ UNIT FALTERS.

4d Enlarge publication provided in US city (7)
MAGNIFY – start with the informal word for an, often glossy, publication then insert a conjunction meaning provided or ‘in the event that’ inside the abbreviation for a US city.

5d Be dominant in union? (4,3,8)
WEAR THE TROUSERS – cryptic definition. This union has just two members.

6d Colourful range in toasted crumpets (8)
SPECTRUM – an anagram (toasted, in the sense of cooked) of CRUMPETS.

7d One given first degree? (8)
GRADUATE – weak cryptic definition. I suppose that one might think of ‘first degree’ as a homicide category (but that’s not used in the UK) or it could be a type of burn, but in neither case is it a very persuasive misdirection.

14d Some ignored index in great volume (3)
DIN – hidden (some) in the clue.

16d Obscure score with time (after month gone) composed (8)
ESOTERIC – an anagram (composed) of SCORE and TI[m]E after we’ve taken away the abbreviation for month.

17d One coming out with money stopping a good argument (8)
DEBATING – a young lady ‘coming out’ into society is followed by a slang term for money between (stopping, i.e. plugging) A (from the clue) and G(ood). The answer is a gerund.

19d Way of working restricting a chairman (3)
MAO – the abbreviation for a method of working contains (restricting) A (from the clue).

20d Footballer who’s offensive in match? (7)
STRIKER – double definition, offensive here meaning ‘used in attack’.

22d Dodgy libel about area being exposed to risk (6)
LIABLE – just about the easiest anagram you’re likely to find. A rearrangement (dodgy) of LIBEL contains A(rea).

23d Prestige gained by a revolutionary in court (6)
CACHET – insert A (from the clue) and our usual South American revolutionary into the abbreviation for court.

Best clue for me is 5d. Which one(s) gained your approval?

Today’s Quickie Pun: CURBED + RILL = KERB DRILL

90 comments on “DT 27996

  1. I normally start with short clues but today the 4 long ones were write-ins (pity) and went in first. I thought 3d was a good anagram. I have a tick against 24a because I like “fast food”.

    1d, I didn’t care much for bistro as a French indicator, might as well use restaurant, cafe or disco, where does it end? I didn’t think of 11a as a turbulent emotional situation, and was confused because i saw the pot as a recipient rather than a source of heat. 17d jarred a little, felt like “stopping” was being used the wrong way round, but maybe it’s ok. In 15a, I would have preferred something like “might provide dens” rather than “one might see in dens”, which doesn’t quite nail the reverse clue relationship for me.

    22d may be an easy anagram, but i still entered “labile” first (ok, maybe a stretch) and had to fix it.

    Many thanks setter and Gazza

  2. Straightforward puzzle today which was reasonably enjoyable to solve. Thanks to Gazza and setter */***

  3. I found this one a bit dull but a steady plod on a sunny morning. Favourite today 21a, **/** for me today. Thanks to setter and to Gazza for a couple of explanations I needed clarifying.

  4. This was one of the few occasions when I found the cryptic easier than the quickie, although I did get there in the end. I felt some of the cryptic clues were rather ‘clunky’ and the definitions stretched a bit, eg 21a ‘brush’. Took me a while to get my head round 15a, although I thought it was quite clever when the penny dropped. A mixed bag really, I thought **/** for me. Thanks to Gazza and setter.

    1. I thought the Quickie was a lot harder and couldn’t work out the pun at all – mainly because I put in ‘curfew’ instead of ‘******’ into 1a – not my day! http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/icon_redface.gif

      Again, it fitted perfectly!

        1. Gazza, thank you for the excellent review but I just wanted to comment on 21a, though I’m a little hesitant to start a debate with someone who can spot a gerund (17d) so readily! Anyway, I found the use of “brush” for “comb” perfectly OK. Relating to hair-care, the verbs “to brush” and “to comb” both have identical actions (of the arm/hand) and the effect of both is also similar. The teeth of the comb enter the fibres of the hair and the bristles of the brush also (to a lesser degree) enter/arrange the hair fibres. I suppose it depends on how deeply/laterally you think about it.

          PS. I clicked on REPLY to your comment here assuming you will get an alert and see it, rather than posting a new, separate comment which would sit at the bottom of the list. Do you get alerts for all comments, or just replies to yours?

          1. The blogger gets an email alert for all comments no matter how long after the date of posting. I take your point about brush/comb but I’m not really persuaded that they mean the same.

            1. Well, I did my best to convince you! Just confirm please – I know you will get an alert if I click on REPLY to one of your comments but if I send a new/stand-alone comment for your attention (which wouldn’t be a reply) would you also get an alert (I mean automatically, because you are the reviewer)?

              1. Yes, the reviewer gets an email for each comment posted on the blog, whether a reply or a stand-alone comment.

  5. No need for me to comment today as my thoughts were almost identical to those of Dutch. However, I didn’t make his mistake at 22d – probably because I’ve never come across the word he used!
    Thanks to Mr. Ron and also to Gazza – lucky you with the sunshine today. We had more rain last night which resulted in yet another land slip, so our route to the Menai Bridge remains closed for a fourth day. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_sad.gif

  6. Like Bifield, we needed Gazza help in explaining some of the parsing and like Dutch not keen on the ‘bistro’. We got the long clues in fairly easily which helped get the job done. Thanks to setter and Gazza for a splendid review. **/**

  7. With noisy preparations for the next round of invaders underway, I resemble my avatar. So it was fine with me that this wasn’t a challenging puzzle. I did need Gazza to explain how the sausage I’d bunged in at 1d worked – can’t say I’ve come across that abbreviation before (only the full version) and had no idea why it was in a bistro.

    Thanks to the setter and Gazza.

  8. A reasonable puzzle. I have exactly the same answers as Gazza but I have a dialogue box which says some answers incorrect. Heigh Ho. I am off to get myself an education. (Shopping with Saint Sharon! I will make sure that it will be a long time before she invites me again) Ta to all.

  9. I agree this was a bit 13a. 5d was my Fav with 18a and 20d running up. Not keen on 1d clue. Had credit for 23d which caused 25a and 28a problems. Thanks Mr. Ron and Gazza. Now for (harder?) Quickie. Sunshine in W. Sussex – so far! ***/***. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/icon_neutral.gif

  10. I agree with Gazza – 2*/2* with a mixture of good and indifferent clues. I agree too with his choice of 5d as favourite and about the dubious use of brush in 21a. I needed the review to understand why the first two letters of 1d were what they had to be, and now I know I don’t think that is a very fair device.

    Thanks to Mr. Ron and to Gazza.

  11. I was not keen on the bistro or the brush either. Overall a fairly simple solve with a couple of good anagrams to get me started. Like Dutch, the four long clues soon gave the puzzle some shape and substance which speeded up the process no end. 2*/2.5*

    Thanks to Mr Ron and Gazza for a top review.

  12. Am I the only one to put debutant as the answer to 17? Doh. Thanks for putting me straight. And explaing a few others.

      1. Sorry, I didn’t read the comments before posting, see 15 below – a stupid rookie error!

        Incidentally, ‘Debutant’ works fine!


    1. I had debutant too – no wonder I couldn’t see why – yet again, if an answer can’t be explained it’s probably wrong. When will I learn? http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/icon_rolleyes.gif

    2. I also went for debutant whilst imagining a Queen Charlotte’s Ball for deb men ‘coming out’ (no comment please MP!). Have only just realised my error.

  13. **/**

    Agree with Gazza’s assessment of this and pretty much what everyone else has said. Also didn’t like bistro in 1d. The long clues went in quickly and I had to double check that 27a was actually in Cheshire. It is.

    Many thanks to the setter and to Gazza for blogging.

    Taking some child type things trampolining later…I’m expected to join in. I don’t think so.

    1. Yes – I managed it OK so it’s definitely on the easy side. No sign of a review as yet – who’s meant to be on parade?

  14. Aaaarrghh! I got 17d wrong – got end of the wrong end of the stick and stuck in ‘debutant’, which fitted the checking letters, and came on here to check the wordplay which I didn’t understand – I feel a right fool now! http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/icon_redface.gif

    I’ll get over it – apart from that it all went swimmingly, I made it seven anagrams and one lurker – definitely on the easier end of the spectrum!


  15. The number of empty lights in today’s grid and 4 long clues made it quite easy to complete in a short space of time. A couple of smiles along the way and like some others I put in the wrong answer in for 17d – should have read the clue properly D’oh! No particular favourite today but I did smile at 13a……now where did I put that record? Ah, here it is:

    Thanks to Mr Ron for the puzzle and Gazza for his review.

      1. Had to be done Michael. I seem to remember Mr Zimmerman doing a cover version – but I’m probably wrong http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_whistle3.gif

        1. Try my friend Derek Barker’s excellent book The Songs He Didn’t Write which lists every song Dylan is known to have covered. It is a history of modern music and Americana. Full of interesting facts about every style of music their is. Not utter crap like this though. Shame on you

  16. Oh well, obviously just me today. I thought it was trickier than 2* difficulty and more enjoyable too – I’d go for at least 3* for both.
    Only two of the four long answers went in straight away – 13a and 5d – the others took far longer which didn’t help much with anything.
    I’ve never heard of the Cheshire town and even having got it I needed to check where it was.
    I always forget IT = SA so needed gazza’s hint to explain 1d – I quite liked the ‘in bistro’ meaning the French word for friend.
    I agree with gazza that 22d is probably the easiest anagram ever – it took me ages.
    Looking at all this again now I’m not sure why I found it quite difficult – a dim day, I think.
    I liked 10 and 28a and my favourite was 5d, and the cartoon.
    With thanks to Mr Ron and to gazza.
    Daft though it may sound, given that it’s the 29th December, I’m off to cut the grass!

    1. Daftness given the time of year was passing a garden with geraniums (the proper ones not pelargoniums) and honeysuckle both in full bloom, the honeysuckle smells wonderful. I’m off back past it again in a minute when I take my friend’s dog out for its second constitutional of the day while she’s at Covent Garden watching the Nutcracker with her grandaughter.

  17. Almost read and write for me, but I did have to drag 27A up from the nether regions of my brain. I wasn’t keen on 1D either. Unlike Dutch, I did like 15A and it’s the only one I had a tick against so that makes it my favorite. Thanks to the setter and to Gazza.

  18. Well, that certainly didn’t frighten anything, let alone the horses. A bit of fun though so I’ll go for */*** with 24a as favourite – the fast food had me thinking burgers or pizza for a while which is no doubt just what the setter intended.

    I did know the town in Cheshire as I must have been over that bridge hundreds of times. Not a good idea in the rush hour. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_negative.gif

    Thanks to setter and Gazza.

  19. 1/2.5. Started with the 4 long clues which were straightforward and then everything fell into place far too quickly. No real stand-outs for me. Thanks to the setter and Gazza for the review. No snow where I live but the mountains are covered. Splendid. My heart goes out to the north of England and also south of the border where the weather is even worse.

  20. Good fun crossword. Pretty straightforward, except 24a, which was last in, annoyingly. I blame the lack of lunchtime alcohol. **/**

  21. Reasonably straightforward **/*** ? Had a little trouble in the SE (Betty) I liked 8a, 27a & 5d ? Thanks to Gazza & to the setter.

    I also put Curfew in for 1a in the Quickie ? Stupid boy!

  22. Well, being reasonably new to cryptic crosswords, I found the clues unfathomable. Disappointing, as I have been making good progress up to now. Managed to fill in just 6, then utterly stuck.
    I shall have another look before resorting to the answers.

    1. If I am stuck on a crossword, I always give it three separate goes before admitting defeat. You’ll find there’s a part of your brain that carries on working on the clues even though the rest of your head is concentrating on something else entirely.

        1. Some answers I got, but could not fit the clue. 15a is an example, even reading the explanation, it makes no sense!!

          1. It’s a reverse anagram, where the wordplay is the answer. So, an anagram (off) of SEND gives you DENS.
            You need to watch out for this type of clue because they’re becoming more common.

  23. Tricky today, at least a 2.5. Quite nice but spoilt for me by three absolutely dreadful clues in 15a, 18a and 17d. Although I had all the right answers it was more by luck than the clues. I can perhaps see what Gazza meant in his clue but a cauldron implies some other form of heat, in itself it is not a heat source, pedantic perhaps but true.
    Not much fun I’m afraid, too long winded by half.
    Thx to Gazza for the hints.

  24. Nothing to worry about here but enjoyable nevertheless

    just spent the day at calke abbey, having a good walk & enjoying the december sun followed buy a pub lunch with sons & partners & Mrs S

    the ageing p’s live 100 yds away from the river foss in york but so far they’ve not been too effected apart from the media parking their cars in dad’s space much to his annoyance even though he sold his car last month & has given up driving (he’s 85 & was becoming a danger on the roads)

  25. Hello from sunny, cloudy, sunny then cloudy again Avignon.
    No real hold ups in solving and only had to check the Cheshire town once I had some internet connection.
    Thanks to the setter and to Gazza for the review.

  26. 13a was straight in , but can’t say the same about 5d. Really thought that ‘in union’ had to be ‘together’ but couldn’t make anything fit. Had to wait for a few more checkers. Still, I managed to finish on the right day. Thank you to the setter and to Gazza for the review. Off to make a curry.

  27. This one was a puzzle where we enjoyed most of it except for 27a. It is one of those clues where the thousands of solvers around the world who do these puzzles either online or in their local papers have no option other than searching through lists in Wikipedia to find a town they almost certainly have never heard of. In this case there are other words that would fit the checkers so no need to have used this answer.
    The long answers all went in without too much of a fight and that gave heaps of checkers to play with. 1d had us scratching our heads to work out the wordplay but we did spot it and will name it our favourite.
    Thanks Mr Ron and Gazza

    1. Just back from 9 holes of early morning golf and offer as an alternative for 27a; “6 plus a bridge partner for food”

      1. Love it.
        Don’t you get me starting on this.
        Are we talking numbers?
        Here’s mine:
        Watch measures as “51” is for you French to drink in good number. (6) of course.
        Apologies to 2ks about the length of the clue.

  28. No real problem in solving today’s offering. Getting the two long anagrams early on certainly helped. For 24a was wondering about fast food names: burger? chips? till the penny dropped and it was the other meaning of fast that gave me the answer. Did not know that IT was also SA – still do not understand why in spite of Gazza’s hint! Did not know the town in Cheshire but worked it out from the clue. 2*/3* with 24a as favourite. Many thanks to setter and to Gazza.

  29. Just got back from golf – been a lovely day here in Cheshire. Read and write for me, but horrified to see from fellow scribes that I also have been conned into inserting ‘debutant’ for 17d. Spoilt my evening as had marked the puzzle ‘finished’ !

      1. I had a stab at justifying DEB+UT (Fifa UT coin) stopping a good argument (r)ANT.
        Have to admit it was a bit far fetched even for me. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_scratch.gif

  30. Another delightful brain teaser to ease me back in, got long ones across fairly early on which helped, did not fall into any of the traps which ensnared other people so my ‘rest’ must have done me good. No particular favourite but 5d amused me because my nickname apparently is Bossy Boots not sure why as I feel that I am a very kind benevolent sort of person.
    Jane – after your mention of Aidan Turner I decided to watch him on iPlayer as we do not have TV, I thought that the whole cast was brilliantly well chosen especially Charles Dance as Judge Wargrave.

  31. Just realised that I never did parse the ‘lock’ bit of 21a – the checkers were there, so I wrote it in and then forgot about it. Only now spotted Gazza’s rugby forward comment – who knew!!!

    1. I did, there’s been quite a few clues recently in the DT and others relating to rugby terms, prop, lock, back etc. Probably just the flavour of the month.

      1. Oh dear, and ***************** to it all. I thought I’d learnt the name of a rugby player – he was in a crossword a few days ago too – thought he must be a well-known one. Damn! http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_sad.gif

  32. Nothing to say about crossword, just trying out my new 2-in-1 computer. I have a question though: I used to use the Crux app on my iPad, but windows doesn’t support that – can anyone suggest an alternative for the windows operating system which will allow me to access the DT crosswords?

  33. I did yesterday’s this morning as I was too exhausted after work on Monday night to contemplate any mind games. I liked this one too, but I found the western side more demanding than the east. Got there fairly quickly, though, but a few were bung-ins (1d, 4d, 15a), so thanks to Gazza for the explanations. No favourites tonight. 2*/3*
    Hi Jane: I read your comment yesterday on JTO (with some amazement). Just as well we don’t all like the same things, I guess, but it is far and away the most important and influential of his novels and, for me, head and shoulders above the rest. I wonder if you might like Brooklyn, by Colm Toibin. Very different and really rather lovely.
    As for the wedding (thank you for asking), it was everything that the happy couple had hoped for. There were laughter and tears – there wasn’t a dry leg in the house – much sibling joshing and even a timely phone call from Canada, where it is currently -18C, making me think I need some new wardrobe solutions for my visit.

  34. Playing catch-up as usual. I found this one to be fairly straight forward and although the ‘union’ one wasn’t immediate to me it all fell into place fairly regularly. I actually liked the three letter ‘chairman’ best; the answer was pretty obvious I know but I liked the use of ‘way of working’. 2/3* overall.
    Thanks to the setter and to Gazza.

  35. It must be two years since I’ve written on here, I’ve had quite a break from doing these regularly.
    Totally fell for the Man usage in 2D, although the answer was obvious. However my biggest failing was 4D, lost the plot there! I don’t think I’ve ever caught ‘provided’. So I have a couple of learnings to build on in 2016 ?

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