DT 28197 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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DT 28197

Daily Telegraph Cryptic No 28197

At Sixes and Nines!

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

BD Rating – Difficulty ***Enjoyment ***

Greetings from Warrington! Myself and the lovely Crypticsue have popped in to cover the Friday slots while certain people are sunning themselves / facing court appearances / taking tea with the Queen (delete as appropriate). And it is my lot to do battle with the Don!

I found this a nice enjoyable puzzle, reasonably straightforward, although it’s using one of the older Telegraph grids and one of my least favourites, as basically it’s almost four puzzles in one, with only one link to each section via the two fifteen-letter answers. Most of the answers are either six or nine letters long. The nice thing is that there is a good smattering of anagrams to help ease the pain.

Please leave a comment telling us what you thought.


1a    Old-style rule, prior to anything being written down? (9)
PRESCRIPT    An old way of saying a rule or regulation is found by taking a prefix that means before or prior and a word that describes writing. Because of the question mark you could also take the second half as a cryptic definition for the time before anything was in writing.

9a    Part of SA gets sun and zero water — zero! (6)
SOWETO    Our setter is quite adept at writing good clues that may be read as all-in-ones. So here there’s an image of a place that is quite hot and gets little rain. Not being too familiar with the climate here, it may well be the case. A place in South Africa, one of the famous townships, is mad up of S (sun) + O (zero) + a word meaning water + another zero.

10a    In Cyprus a post’s secured a small vessel (9)
CAPILLARY    The name for a small (blood) vessel in the body is found by taking A + a word for a post in architecture and placing it inside the IVR code for Cyprus.

11a    Accident when little Philip’s swallowed Romanian money (4-2)
PILE-UP        Inside a shortened form of the name Philip (think of the main narrator in Great Expectations) goes that name of the Romanian currency to give a phrase for an accident.

12a    List minister of religion as being into home improvements? (9)
DIRECTORY    Inside the abbreviation for home improvements goes the name for a minister of the church (or an officer of a University) and this reveals the name for a type of list.

13a    Bishop getting in the way of walkers, beast! (6)
FERRET        There does seem to be a fair few container clues lurking round today, and here’s another. Inside a slang name for those things that stop your legs from fraying goes the standard two-word crossword abbreviation for a bishop’s title.

17a    A little female dog companion let loose (3)
BIT    A word that means a little piece of something is found by taking the name for a female dog and removing CH (an abbreviation for a Companion of Honour – another crossword regular abbreviation)

19a    To administer a Co. differently, move towards giving everyone a say (15)
DEMOCRATISATION    The word for the process of giving people the vote or say in a country is an anagram (differently) of TO ADMINISTER A CO.

20a    Clumsy person in a gym (3)
APE    A slang word for someone who is clumsy is made up of A + one of the abbreviations for gym at school.

21a    Process of ‘refuelling’ — what you need to get ‘ot (6)
EATING    this clue comprises two cryptic definitions. The main definition is away of saying refuelling the body (note the inverted commas) and the other is a way of describing the basic thing that makes you warm, but it’s how someone who drops their aitches when they speak (shown by the apostrophe at the start of words).

25a    A person, if misshapen, should get particular garments (9)
PINAFORES    This takes me back to my Auntie Buff who used to take the very young Tilsit on a Saturday to see her family and Wigan and always bought a wrap-around one of these garments (and kept me quiet with one of the locally made pork pies filled with jelly an still warm! It’s an anagram (misshapen) of A PERSON IF.

26a    Around the walls of tabernacle see most unusual symbols (6)
TOTEMS    The name for type of religious statues (assocated with Native Americans) can be found by placing an anagram (unusual) of MOST around T and E (the outside letters, walls of TABERNACLE). Another nice all-in-one type imagery from the clue.

27a    Unsettled person that is to shout angrily about money (9)
ITINERANT    A slightly complex clue. Inside the abbreviation for ‘that is to say’ and a word meaning to shout and get cross goes a slang word for money. This gives the name for someone who is unsettled and wanders around a lot.

28a    Forcibly carry off very little one covered in spots? (6)
RAVISH        Something that means to forcibly carry someone away is found by taking the abbreviations for very & one, and placing them inside the name for the spots from measles, or chicken pox.

29a    Track badly fouled up with wire (9)
BRIDLEWAY    A type of track or path is revealed by unscrambling (fouled is the anagram indicator) BADLY and WIRE


2d    Band’s helper gets fee finally after radio broadcast (6)
ROADIE        The name for someone who moves the equipment round for a rock band is made up of an anagram (broadcast) of RADIO + E (the last letter of FEE).

3d    Son is given meat, not a thick slice (6)
SLIVER        A very thin slice of something is made up of S (son) + a type of meat, usually served in a casserole with bacon.

4d    Give an account of soldiers deceased (6)
RELATE        A standard crossword abbreviation for a soldier, a member of the Royal Engineers takes a word meaning deceased or behind time to give omething that means to give an account of.

5d    Artist left with a tinier part needing to be changed (8-7)
PORTRAIT-PAINTER    Should this phrase be hyphenated? If, like me, you spent a little while trying to make the name of a famous artist, you would have been wasting your time! It’s a type of artist such as Gainsborough, Leonardo and Rembrandt. A word meaning left (on a ship) is added to an anagram of A TINIER PART to give this person.

6d    Brit collaring little pests, an officer (9)
POLICEMAN    Inside a slang word for a Brit (think Aussie) goes the name for nasty little insects. Add AN to this, and you get the name of an officer of the law.

7d    Heavenly body is remote, I do fancy (9)
METEOROID    A slightly less common name for something that traves the heavens is an anagram (fancy) of REMOTE, I DO. This is actually the scientific name for the body in space. Once it hits the eart’s surface, it gets its more common name.


8d    Being efficient, manage to protect maiden needing shelter (9)
COMPETENT    A word that means capable or efficient is found by taking a word meaning manage and putting it round M (maiden) and then add to this the word for a (canvas) shelter.

14d    Days before Christmas with university about to provide exciting experience (9)
ADVENTURE    An exciting experience, such as enjoyed by Enid Blyton’s Famous Five, is revealed by taking the word for the period immediately before Christmas and adding U (university) and RE (about).

15d    Like 20, I am the bee’s knees with musical coming up (9)
IMITATIVE    Something that means being the same as the answer to 20 across can b found by taking a phrase that means I am something clever, or in a game of Tag I am the chaser. Add to this the name of a famous musical reversed (coming up as it’s a down answer). This gives me the excuse to play one of my favourite sons from the show by one of my favourite singers.

ARVE Error: need id and provider

16d    I’m one involved with cost (9)
ECONOMIST    A nice all-in-one clue, one I have seen before, but good to see again. An anagram of I’M ONE and COST gives a word meaning someone who would be!

17d    Beastly sound from a sailor capsizing (3)
BAA    A word for a noise from an animal is A + the standard crossword abbreviation for a sailor, all reversed (capsized).

18d    Part of formal attire for the match (3)
TIE    A double definition clue. Something that is part of formal attire is also a word that means match.

22d    Blasted theologian restricting English composer (6)
DARNED    Another expletive for blasted is made up of the standard crossword abbreviation for a theologian (a Doctor of Divinity) with the name of an English composer inside. If you are still stumped he wrote Rule Britannia.

23d    Starter perhaps for run (6)
COURSE    Another double definition. A word that describes what a starter (of a meal) is also means run.


24d    The female’s at home, upset with a medical condition (6)
HERNIA        A word describing a female, plus something that means at home, reversed (upset) and with an A added gives a painful medical condition.

Thanks to the Don for an enjoyable solving session. Why don’t you have a look at today’s splendid Toughie, if you have some time on your hands. It’s by Notabilis, one of the finest setters around. If you get stuck, the fragrant Crypticsue will be along in a while to hold your hand through it.

The Quick Crossword pun: gnome+hoar=no more

53 comments on “DT 28197

  1. I enjoyed today’s offering from the Don. I solved the anagrams early on which gave me a good start.and the rest followed fairly quickly. Thanks to Giovanni and to Tilsit for the review.

  2. I was pleased to have a challenging crossword this morning, since my golf game was lost to the weather. I thought this was much more difficult than Ray T’s yesterday, but fair and enjoyable. Thank you Tilsit and the Don.

  3. I felt like a complete beginner solving this puzzle. I missed all of the usual indicators. Failing to see anagrams. Missing obvious chestnuts and taking far more time than usual to solve. In fact I still haven’t got 6d despite having a perfectly good clue and all of the checkers. Thanks to Tilsit (How is the studying going)? Thanks to Giovanni for the struggle. I sure hope my solving skills return to normal on Monday

    1. 6d was my last one in too….in fact I had to use the electronic aid in the end…..followed by much forehead slapping and shouts of doh!
      It’s a great clue!

  4. The hyphen in 5d was the only thing that steered me away from looking for a famous painter, so I was extremely grateful for it regardless of whether it should or shouldn’t have been there!
    Needed to verify 7d despite ‘oid’ being the only way of disposing of the last three letters of the anagram fodder.
    Got into all manner of difficulties with 22d by trying to find a 5 letter theologian whose name when jumbled up around an ‘E’ would result in a 6 letter composer. It doesn’t work – believe me!

    My top spots go to 10a plus 21a – the latter in recognition of it being one of DG’s rare forays into humour.
    Thanks to DG and to Tilsit for stepping into the breach and also for the lovely voice of Barbara Dixon.

  5. Some very clever clues which sadly went over my head. Too many anagrams for my liking, dont understand 15d and 3d is offal not meat.4*/2* Many thanks to the setter and to Tilsit for the much needed hints.

  6. Took a little longer than yesterday’s but enjoyable with some typical Friday references.. Last in 6d. Took a while to see 22d (had ‘damned’ stuck in my mind). The Romanian currency was new to me. Thanks to Tilsit and The Don.

  7. Have to admit I don’t think about what kind of grid a puzzle has but just press on regardless and today the bottom two sections went in more swiftly than the top half. Not too many chestnuts although I did again struggle to recall 2d. Fav 13a and least fav probably 21a. All good fun thank you Giovanni and Tilsit. ***/***. Grateful to have had a few drops of rain here in W. Sussex although it seems there may be much more plus wind to come.

    1. Grids like this leave lots of words with their first letter unchecked Angel. That always makes an answer more difficult to work out from the checkers when the clue is causing problems

  8. Excellent puzzle today, no great problems just some very good clues. Unusually for a Giovanni no weird words today but just beautifully constructed clues. Such a contrast to yesterday’s horror! Best clue for me def 6d.
    Thx to the Don for a great puzzle and to 6&7s for the hints.

    1. Surprising really Brian, that you couldn’t solve one clue yesterday but have this completed in good time.

  9. Agree with S and N about the grid, as I solved it in discrete quarters, thought it quite difficult but solved it in ** time and a **/*** overall. Nearly put in prescribe for 1a until 5d fell, enjoyed the clues generally, liked the three letter ‘cluster’ in the centre, and the wordplay of 17a in particular.; also 22d, as I remembered the composer from the proms.

  10. A bit of a struggle with the parsing today as usual with a Giovanni, but satisfying to finish unaided.
    MP – I had a similar mental block for 3d; and 6d – you’ll kick yourself when the D’oh! moment comes.
    Have a good weekend, folks and thanks to all as ever.

    1. 3D was a late one in for me too. I don’t know what got into me today. I am not going to insult Giovanni on account of my slow brain

  11. Struggled with this one and needed the electronic aids a bit.

    Forgot (again) about the synonym for money in 27a.

    Not sure that I think using the nautical word in the anagram in 5d is fair.

    Overall, though, a very pleasant way of spending my time.

    Thanks to the setter and to Tilsit for the much needed hunts and parsings.
    (Do people still have Auntie Buff s any more? Folk always had Aunties with funny names when I was young….Beenie, Bunt and Fred are ones that I recall. Winifred was Fred’s Sunday name. Never got to the bottom of Bunt or Beenie)

    1. I only ever had one auntie, but you can’t improve on perfection, can you? Mind you, we did have a couple of geographical Nanas – one was called Romford; the other Evesham.

      As for this puzzle, I score it 2*/4*. I liked 12a and 6d, with the latter just nosing ahead as favourite clue. Ta to the Don and Tilsit. I particularly enjoyed listening to Barbara Dickson while I browsed other contributions.

  12. I rather enjoyed it despite the odd grid.
    I also got diverted trying to make the name of an artist at 5d, but then I forgot about the nautical “left”.

    And despite liking anagrams, I never saw the one in 29a at all….

    Thx to Tilsit for the Rule B composer – I got the answer but I’m damned if I could work out why! Also thanks to G for the puzzle with the usual (or unusual ) items to fox us.

    I’m sure that word for forcibly carry away is in the dictionary, but it means something rather different in my book, after having been carried away perhaps? How very 18th century…

  13. A straight forward crossword for a Friday. Nice to solve and for me 11a was favourite.
    2/3* overall.
    Thanks to the Don and to Tilsit for the review.
    Regarding Ora Meringue’s aunties, my wife had one known as Auntie Woo Woo!

    1. My mother’s mother always reckoned that her full name was Henrietta Bridget-Mary Pot Jodie Kay Swindells!

    2. I had an aunt we called Aunt Sal, but that was because of Uncle Gummidge – also had a Granny Smith and Bob was indeed my uncle.

      1. Mine too….and I had an auntie Mary who did indeed at one time have a canary.
        She kept it in a cage, though.

  14. Not too tricky – no odd words – I quite enjoyed it.
    A few problems but only the kind that I made ‘all my own self’ such as trying to put the answer to 15d in the 16d space and vice versa. :roll:
    Spent too long thinking that 5d was the name of a particular artist and that the 6d ‘little pests’ were going to be ‘imps’ because they often are.
    I liked 9 and 17a and 17d.
    With thanks to Giovanni and to Tilsit.
    Raining – proper wet rain. :smile: Ought to be doing stuff in the house but might have a go at the Toughie . . .

  15. We too had a discussion about the hyphenation in 5d and concluded there should be none. Answers flew in, starting in the NW quadrant and working anti-clockwise until we hit the NE where things got stickier. Overall 2.5*/2.5* with no particular favourite.

    Thanks to Tilsit, Crypticsue and The Don.

  16. 4*/2*. I agree with Brian if only to say that this puzzle was a complete contrast to yesterday’s!

    I got my knickers in a twist with a couple of clues which slowed me up considerably taking my time to 4*. I tried and failed to work out how “shelter” in 8d could lead to “ting” as the last four letters of the wrong answer. For 15d I wrote in “imitation” even though I didn’t like it as it is not accurately defined by “like 20”. My illogical logic being IM [I am] at the start + reversal of NO1 [the bee’s knees] at the end which would have required TATI to be a musical, which it isn’t. That, of course, made 28a impossible until the penny dropped.

    Many thanks to Giovanni and to Tilsit.

  17. I found it very tricky . I put that down to my new daily routine at the gym , where my gluts are a disgrace apparently.However , I see that some others also struggled.
    Thanks to Giovanni for the struggle and Tilsit for the much needed hints.

  18. Now, believe it or not, I thoroughly enjoyed this. Yes, it was a bit tricky and my problems were self-made, e.g., I got the answer for 8d right off but couldn’t justify it, consequently it was the last one written in.
    I solved 6d on first read through, but needed my gizmo in desperation to unravel the 7d anagram.
    I particularly liked 9a, 21a and 22d, maybe because they were some of my first solved.
    Thanks to Giovanni and to Tilsit for the hints, parsing 8d in particular.

  19. Found this quite tricky but enjoyable ***/*** 😊 Really liked 9 & 10a, 17d & 13a😜 Now I really am in trouble! Thanks to Giovanni and Tilsit 😬

  20. The sort of Giovanni puzzle I enjoy, relatively obscurity-free and light on the ecclesiastical references (if four qualifies as light?). Seven anagrams is probably just about ok, but not by much.

    Difficult to choose a favourite, but I’ll opt for 10a.

    The Barbara Dickson clip was notable for seeing how much younger Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd-Webber looked than Noel Edmonds at the time, whereas they both now look so much older than him!

    Many thanks to Mr. Manley and to Tilsit, and a good week-end to all amid the forecast showers. I hope Shropshire Lad will not need his brolly at Edgbaston tomorrow, but fear he might.

  21. An enjoyable enough solve on a weird grid.

    Favourite is 7d although 10a was quite sweet.

    Man thanks to the Don and to Tilsit for a great blog.

  22. Just returned from lunch with friends who were staying in Snowdonia, and went straight into this little gem from the Don. Posting late I’ve not a lot to add to what has already been said. 10 across also my favourite of many finely-constructed clues, and overall this was a 2*/3.5* for me.

    Many thanks to Giovanni and Tilsit for filling the breach left by my cricket-loving near neighbour.

  23. I thought the courts were closed during August like in France and that the Queen was drinking Dubonnet and Gin while in Balmoral, so I expect everyone is somewhere on a beach at the moment.
    For once the 4 distinct corners didn’t hinder the solve.
    Enjoyed it immensely and only had to write down the letters of the anagram in 25a.
    I have an aunt named Yolande. We call her Tata Yoyo.

    Thanks to the Don and to Tilsit.

  24. I really enjoyed solving this puzzle, however the grid left something to be desired… It took me a while to complete but Friday’s puzzles often do.

    Thanks to Tilsit and Giovanni ***/****

  25. After a horribly hectic morning it was a relief to sit down with the crossword, a large coffee and a naughty (and not exactly small) edible treat. In this case I quite liked the grid because the centre square went in easily, followed by the “spokes,” allowing me to fill it in neatly corner by corner. It would have been a different story with harder clues though.

    5d was not hyphenated in my app, in which legitimate hyphens are often omitted. (I have just checked and that is the case today: 11a is down as (4,2).) My Big Red App says the artist should be hyphenated too, and who am I to argue?

    Thanks to Giovanni and to Tilsit – especially for the musical clip. :)

  26. Missed yesterday through running all-day golf Championship (just as stressful as playing ) & couldn’t get going today. In the end struggled with the anagram 29a then the NE corner & needed hint for 6d.
    Having read yesterday’s comments I think if we can’t get to grips with a grid we should look at why we can’t get on wavelength rather than rubbish the setter.
    My recommendation: start with Matt on the front page: he always brightens my day.Hope he enjoys his holidays – wished he was here this morning.
    Thanks to setter & Tilsit for needed hints.

  27. We spent longer than usual solving this one so definitely above average difficulty for us. The definition of Brit for 6d was probably more obvious to us than to most solvers for a change. A very enjoyable solve in our opinion.
    Thanks Giovanni and Tilsit.

  28. A good puzzle from the Don, into ***/**** for difficulty for me. An unusual grid that was a little off-putting at first. Last in 3 and 23d.

  29. Found this fairly tough, but not as tough as yesterday. At least there were some clues I could fathom, before reading Tilsit’s hints, thanks. Also spent too long on 5d trying to come up with a painter’s name, but did solve that pre hints at least. 28a was a new definition for me (not actually having a BRB I must confess) and 7d also a new word. What a lot of new words we learn each day. Now if I could just remember them for the next time they come up…

  30. Phew ! I almost always either finish the DT, or get to within one or two. I just finished this after a solid six hour effort. Last in 9a. I’d go so far as to say this was the toughest backpager I’ve encountered in several years. A great struggle and no shortage of satisfaction at this end.


    Thanks to setter and to Tilsit.

  31. Bizarre!!!
    Many of you, far more 8d than me found this a struggle, yet I slotted straight into the Don’s wavelength and finished with no hints needed. He is one setter I seem to do well with.
    Lots of great clues, favourite is 9a. Liked the use of “zero water”.
    Thanks to The Don and Tilsit for the hints…

    1. Find part of the puzzle where you have more ‘missing’ solutions and have a look at or more of the hints. Then have another go.

      Finally, if you’ve given it three separate goes, follow my rule and put this crossword in the recycling and start another one.

  32. Thanks to Giovanni and to Tilsit for the review and hints. A very enjoyable puzzle, very tricky in places. Couldn’t Think of the place in South Africa 9a. Missed the fact that 29a was an anagram. Couldn’t do 23d, I always struggle with double definitions. Favourite was 3d. Was 4*/3* for me.

  33. I rather liked this puzzle. Nothing so obscure that the BRB or Google was required. 29A was my last in. Thanks to Giovanni and Tilsit.

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