DT 28272 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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DT 28272

Daily Telegraph Cryptic No 28272

Hints and tips by Mr Kitty

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

BD Rating – Difficulty ***Enjoyment **

Good morning everyone. I found this crossword hard going at first, to the point where I was starting to wonder whether climbing into the blogging chair was a mistake. Fortunately, the letters gradually started to fall into place and I got there in the end with a couple of trips to the electronic BRB. I’m sorry to say that I didn’t find a lot of smiles in the solve, but that may well be a wavelength thing.

Something that has amused me, however, is considering whether the repetitions of answers (e.g. TUTORIAL) we saw last week could be random. That coincidences are more common than might be expected is shown by the Birthday Paradox: a group need contain only 23 members for the probability of a shared birthday to reach 50%. I’ve been looking at the past 15 years of Telegraph Cryptics so that I can repeat this calculation for crossword answers. Instead of 366 possible birthdays one finds that there are 48,886 possible answers, which turns out to give a 50% chance of a repeat after only 260 clues, or roughly every 9 days. That surprised me. This all assumes that every answer is equally likely, which the data shows is most definitely not the case. I hope to post some of that data later today. In the meantime, I invite you to speculate, if you wish, on the most common answers used in back pagers since 2001.

In the hints below the definitions are underlined and the answers will be revealed by clicking on the ANSWER buttons. If you’re already seeing the answers uncovered, click http://bigdave44.com/2016/11/15/dt-28272/ or type that link into the address box of your browser.

Please leave a comment telling us what you thought.


1a    Winning deputy, good and respectable (10)
UPSTANDING: A charade of a short word for winning (e.g. ** 1-0), a deputy or a replacement, and G(ood).

6a    Struggle with scene (4)
VIEW: A short word meaning struggle followed by the abbreviation for with.

9a     In love, you and me after a second run out (7)
AMOROUS: Another charade: A from the clue, a short time (possibly a second), cricket’s abbreviation for “run out”, and a word for you and me.

10a    Judge arrives carrying grip (7)
ARBITER: The timetable abbreviation for arrives encloses a type of grip (perhaps one involving teeth).

12a    Hi-tech duo’s ATM fiddling shows a gift for making money (3,5,5)
THE MIDAS TOUCH: Anagram (fiddling) of HI TECH DUOS ATM.

14a    Pack in place in Kent (8)
SANDWICH: Double definition. Pack as in squash or squeeze.

15a    Create and settle differences (4,2)
MAKE UP: Another double definition.

17a    Grounds of Parisian art gallery (6)
ESTATE: Parisian art here indicates a French form of the verb “to be”. Follow it with a well-known London art gallery. Thanks, Big Dave, for the French language section of the Mine.

19a    Endless sex entertaining a jolly foreign policeman (8)
GENDARME: A word for one’s sex minus its last letter (endless) encloses (entertaining) A from the clue and a two-letter abbreviation for the soldier known colloquially as a jolly.

21a    Pedant tense? No, it’s I, corrected (13)
PERFECTIONIST: A grammatical tense (the really, really, good one) followed by an anagram (corrected) of NO ITS I.

24a    Time to walk like a duck? Nonsense (7)
TWADDLE: Follow a one letter abbreviation for time with the gait of a duck.

25a    One could upset speaker — he upset clerk (7)
HECKLER: HE from the clue followed by an anagram (upset) of CLERK.

26a    Pull domesticated ox round rear of barn (4)
YANK: A three-letter ox surrounding (round) the last letter (rear) of BARN.

27a    Opera company’s manager breaking a promise to tour Rhode Island (10)
IMPRESARIO: An anagram (breaking) of A PROMISE contains (to tour) the two-letter abbreviation for Rhode Island.


1d    Code name — ‘Omaha’ — Turing covers up (4)
UTAH: Lurking reversed (covers up in a down clue) inside the clue. The answer was a code name for one of the D-Day landing beaches. (Thank you, Mr. Google).

2d    Prune others growing wild, indefinite number (7)
SHORTEN: Anagram (growing wild) of OTHERS followed by a letter often used to stand for a mathematical unknown.

3d    Desperate to know how to proceed and make amends, put cards in post (2,4,4,3)
AT ONE’S WIT’S END: Start with a five-letter word meaning make amends. Follow it with a verb meaning post (e.g., a letter) that encloses some people who might be described as cards. Divide as shown in the clue enumeration.

4d    Plain individual (8)
DISTINCT: Double definition. Plain as in clear or obvious.

5d    Antelope present in many a land (5)
NYALA: Hidden inside the clue.

7d    Elected head of trustees, impolite to butt in (7)
INTRUDE: Concatenate a short word that could mean elected, the first letter (head) of TRUSTEES, and a synonym for impolite.

8d    Almost get the better of more fashionable one seen in church (10)
WORSHIPPER: Drop the last letter (almost) of a five-letter word meaning get the better of, then attach a comparative adjective meaning more fashionable or more trendy.

11d    Various small things of interest to a coin collector? (4,3,6)
BITS AND PIECES: Cryptic definition of two types of coin.

13d    Form of treatment that may be shown in photo, as yet to be developed (10)
OSTEOPATHY: Anagram (to be developed) of PHOTO AS YET.

16d    Pour alcoholic drink, drowning insect (2,6)
BE MOTHER: An alcoholic drink contains (drowning) an insect renowned for being attracted to flames. I would have had no idea how to parse this clue if I hadn’t read Gazza’s recent Toughie blog. Thanks, Gazza.

18d    Blunder among reserves in ground (7)
TERRAIN: A short verb meaning blunder inside (among) a military reserve force, followed by the IN from the clue.

20d    Unnerve leader of ramble, pointing to snake (7)
RATTLER: Follow a verb meaning unnerve with the first letter (leader) of RAMBLE to get an informal name for a snake found in the Americas.

22d    Hard to penetrate word for unit of heat (5)
THERM: The abbreviation for hard (e.g. on a pencil) is put inside (to penetrate) another word for a word.

23d    Close to body dropping temperature (2,2)
OR SO: Remove (dropping) the one letter abbreviation for temperature from the central region of the human body.

In the favourite stakes, I have 16d in second place with the title going to 17a (although I do suspect that clue may be a chestnut for the experienced solvers. Time to sift through those 48, 886 answers and check).

Which clue was your favourite?


141 comments on “DT 28272

  1. I found this one very straightforward – no problems today. A good mix of clues and a nice start to the day.

  2. According to Google when I search for your website it says your website may harm my computer and won’t let me access.
    You fallen out with Google

  3. I quite liked this one with 16D being my last in & for that reason my favourite of the day,also agree with the ratings offered.Many thanks to the setter & to Mr Kitty for his review. Off out now to sweep up yet more leaves.

  4. I’d go for a **/*** rating today. Favourites were 16d followed by 23d. Thanks for decode of 3d.
    Interesting to hear about your stats analysis.
    Thanks all.

  5. At first reading, one in each direction – 24a and 1d – and then nothing. But, after some head scratching the dominoes started to fall and I just managed to beat the clock for the bonus points on submitting to the puzzle web site – */***.

    Interestingly, in 1d, ‘Omaha’ was also a D-Day beach code name.

    Favourite 16d. Thanks to Mr Ron and Mr K.

  6. Simple and straight forward. Pleasant enough but…..
    Favourite was 3d, just cos it doesn’t come up that often. 2/2* overall.
    Thanks to the setter, and to Mr Kitty for his review.
    Ps. Mr Kitty… are you serious??? Wow!

  7. Got off to a good start with no problem in the East but West was a different kettle of fish however pressed on regardless and finally got it sorted with much joy along the way (what a long sentence!). Failed to parse 6a so thanks Mr. Kitty for your help on that and also mentioning nickname in 20d where I had struggled to explain final letter. All good fun but no particular Fav. TVM Mysteron. ***/***. Mr. Kitty, outcome of your research on repetition of cruciverbal solutions will be fascinating. I am wracking the grey matter to come up with candidates.

      1. I do recall seeing a few TURNCOATs recently. Since 2001 there have been 8 TRIREMEs and 10 TURNCOATs, but the most common words, which appear over 50 times, are much shorter.

              1. That’s interesting question, Angel. It wasn’t too hard to get complete clues and complete answers, but the parsing is an entirely different matter. I suppose that information is all here on the site, but extracting it from the wonderfully individual blogs is beyond my computer skills.

  8. I enjoyed this one.
    Like Mr K I was terribly slow to get going – I’d read half the across clues before I had a single answer but then everything speeded up.
    My last answer was 23d – just couldn’t see it at all.
    Untangling 3d took for ever – I forget about those kinds of cards all the time.
    21a made me think of RD.
    I liked 19 and 24a and 3 and 20d. My favourite was 16d.
    With thanks to Mr Ron and to Mr Kitty.

          1. Only my very best comments get written in the margin – the rude remarks about c**p clues get scribbled underneath the grid!

  9. 2*/3* overall with 16 down my favourite. Did this one lack sparkle, or are we just used to such high-quality puzzles that occasionally one appears that lacks that extra bit of bling?

    Either way, many thanks to our Tuesday setter for brightening up a rather colourless day, and to Mr K for his thought-provoking preamble.

  10. Easy/Medium difficulty but still don’t understand 17a explanation. Es is French for “are”, as stated, second person singular, used after Tu in the informal friendly way; “you are”, to a friend or child, is “Tu es”.

    But the clue says “Grounds of Parisian art gallery”. I spent a few minutes thinking the clue must start with “De”, the French for of. I think this clue is faulty; surely “Grounds ARE Parisian art gallery” leads to the correct answer, but sounds wrong!

    1. I too was a bit flummoxed by 17a. But the art here is the archaic English form of “are”, e.g.: ” thou art a villain, Othello.”

      1. Thanks, I was still confused until you explained the “art”. I think that’s pretty clever actually, way above my IQ limits!

      2. I found the explanation in the Mine at http://bigdave44.com/features/the-mine/french-words/.

        I don’t remember it because I wasn’t solving regularly back then, but the construction was also used in 16a of DT 27761 http://bigdave44.com/2015/03/28/dt-27761-hints/. Speaking about it in her full review of that Saturday puzzle http://bigdave44.com/2015/04/03/dt-27761/ CrypticSue said “Never in the history of crossword blogging has one clue caused so much fuss”.

        1. The French word ‘es’ also appears as part of the answer in three Toughies:

          Toughie 94 (MynoT) Declines French art in books? On the contrary (4)

          Toughie 640 (Kcit) French are occupying vehicles, showing neck (6)

          Toughie 1353 (Shamus) Art in Versailles was in abundance, attracting veneration (8)

          1. Thanks, Gazza. I haven’t looked much at the Toughies yet, I also found these:

            TOUGHIE 381 Shamus 8d Make time to take in French art that’s serious (7) EARNEST
            TOUGHIE 1080 Mynot 6d Try French art for example (5) ESSAY
            TOUGHIE 1475 Shamus 21d Information on French art is to be used in group (7) GENESIS
            TOUGHIE 1509 MynoT 24d Side issues in relation to French art (4) BYES

            Seems like some Toughie setters are rather fond of the construction. There are probably more.

            I’m impressed that found those three – you must have a great memory. My memory is lousy but now I have a very big spreadsheet.

            1. My memory is like a sieve – I used Google to search for ‘tu es’ thinking that would be required in the hint or comments.
              It’s interesting that, except for one, the Toughie examples all come from MynoT and Shamus.

  11. 2/3*. Recently Tuesday’s back-pagers have been of a consistently high standard and today’s was no exception with some nice surfaces and good humour.

    I spotted the first word of the clue for 21a immediately, solved it, and put a tick by it. However, in the end it was usurped as my favourite by the wonderfully humorous 19a.

    I had no idea how the first two letters of the obvious answer to 17a were clued by Parisian art and was very thankful for explanation coming from BD via Mr Kitty!

    Many thanks to Mr. Ron and to Mr Kitty.

  12. Struggled with a few, NW corner mainly, but managed without hints for a change! Love the pic for 21a. Favourite definitely 16d!
    Thanks to setter and Mr K

  13. Rabbit Dave – 17a must be parsed as ES 1234 where 1234 is the art gallery (in Pimlico, or on the South Bank of the Thames, or St. Ives et al)

    As I already posted, I don’t understand where ES comes from, as it means ARE in French. “Of Parisian” led me up the garden path, as OF in French is DE!

    Error, or am I missing something?

      1. P.S. When replying to a comment it’s a good idea to click on Reply to keep all related comments in a single chain rather than posting a new comment.

          1. Richard, you can delete a comment within 5 minutes of posting. If you copy it before deleting you could then paste it as a reply.

            After that time it would need a site administrator to move it, but I wouldn’t suggest asking BD to do that. He’s got more than enough on his plate – keeping us in order, keeping the site running smoothly, and fighting off hackers.

            1. I can move a comment to a different post, but not to a different thread – to do that you must repost and request that the original be deleted, but only if there have been no replies.

  14. I found this quite tough and had a real problem getting started especially as I got 13d wrong which set me back. No favourites today as setter made it really tough.
    However thanks to Mr K and setter.

  15. Don’t really want to be 21a but we mustn’t confuse policeman and gendarme. The latter being part of an army in itself with all the ranking to go with.
    Got the picture wrong also unfortunately.
    But I don’t really care. Never been interested in law enforcement. Never been stopped or arrested by an uniform in 54 years.
    I might sound like a 1a member of society but not really.
    Thanks to the setter and to Mr Kitty for the review and fascinating facts and figures.

    1. Oops. Apologies for the picture error – I snipped it from an article that did appear to be about the clue answer. It was surprisingly difficult to find aesthetically pleasing photos of them.

  16. A slow start but soon started falling into place. I found it good fun to solve with plenty of smiles along the way. Thanks to setter and to Mr Kitty for his first rate blog.

  17. Many thanks Mr Kitty

    Recently when I was an undergrad we took bets on the birthday thing. We’d bet that two people in a classroom (of 30 or so) would have the same birthday, or 2 people in the pub would, etc. And now I’m a millionaire.

    Of course beery hiker has a data base of guardian clues and can tell you instantly which were the most frequent answers – I wonder how hard it would be for him to do the same for the telegraph.

    I found it a mixed bag today, some easy and some hard, from the chunky 12a to the sleek 13d. I enjoyed 15a and 25a.

    many thanks setter

    1. I impressed that mathematics can be so profitable.

      I’ve seen a few of beery hiker’s posts elsewhere, which got me wondering if the same analysis could be done for the Telegraph. It can. For example, we now know that DUTCH appears as a back page answer five times (24465, 25323, 2593, 26587, and 27636) and as a Toughie answer once (1059).

        1. Welcome from me too, mike.

          I don’t know the origin of beery’s blog identity. If you want to ask him about it he’s often seen over on the Toughie blog.

  18. Thought this would be too tricky today, but stuck at it. Rainy season underway here, so going to the beach was not an option… Agree that the eastern half was easier. I liked the way that 1a and 3d were put together. The slang term “jolly” was new to me, but I guessed the word. 1d was last in – being a bit of a geek I knew it was a D-day beach, but I still thought that clue bordered on unsporting… Thanks to Mr Kitty for explaining why my guesses were right.

      1. Yup, I’ve found that very useful but I wanted to do the crossword without coming here, and I’d forgotten that one! :-)

  19. Thanks to Mr Ron and to Mr Kitty for the review and hints. I enjoyed this one very much. On the first pass, I couldn’t get anywhere at the top, so I started at the bottom. Just needed the hints for 23d. Favourite was 16d. Lots of humour, very good puzzle. Was 2*/4* for me. Cloudy again in Central London, next time we see the moon it won’t be so super :-)

  20. Here I am having managed to slip in by the back door 😜 Nice crossword with a couple of quirky clues **/*** 😏 Big thanks to Mr K for the blog and to RD for explaining the “es” in 17a 🤗 Liked 1a, 19a but first prize to 16d (my last one in) 🏆 Thanks also to the setter, surprisingly so far no one has said who they think he is! 🤔

  21. */**** for me. I had to read the blog for the correct parsing of some, even though the words were obvious. Favorite, 16d, it just tickled the spot. Thanks to Mr Kitty and the setter who always seems to be on my wavelength.

  22. I enjoyed this, but didn’t take the time to savour it so have little memory now. I liked 1d and 24a produced a smile.

    Thanks Messrs Ron and K.

    I’ve said before when repetitions come up that I think it is by chance, and cited the birthday paradox too. See here. I’m grateful that Mr K has the mathematical ability to collate the answers and analyse them to lend support to this hypothesis. Of course, the answers are not entirely random – some words fit better into crossword grids than others, and you also have topical words turning up – but I’m glad that the stats support the assertion that repetitions happen naturally and gives the lie to the notion that there is some sort of big setter/editor conspiracy. :)

  23. I started off thinking that Mr. Kitty might be right about this one not being much fun, as there seemed to be a surfeit of single letter abbreviations, but as I progressed I really warmed to some extremely inspired cluing, especially the wonderful 16d. 19a ran it a close second and raised the widest smile.

    Like my soulmate RD, I was struggling to parse 17a until I accessed the blog, this and the use of “cards” in 3d I thought were both exceptionally clever.

    Many thanks to today’s compiler and to Mr. Kitty. Merusa, Kath and others will be pleased to hear that the three stranded New Zealand cows were safely rescued. :-)

  24. Thank you Mr Kitty -m some helpful guidance there. Did you forget about the Quick Crossword though?

    1. Welcome to the blog, Oddjob. We already have a commenter using the pseudonym ‘oddjob’ so, unless that’s you with a different email address, it would save confusion if you changed your pseudonym.

      The Quickie pun is there now.

    2. No, in addition to 5,430 Cryptics and 1,712 Toughies I also analyzed the last 5,275 Quick Crosswords.

      Young Salopian’s suggestion of ERA is in second place on the Quickie popularity list with 111 appearances.

      1. Mr K – being somewhat statistically inclined, I have a couple of questions in reference to your study.

        What about the randomness of the data? I recall, I think, an article on the venerable Rufus some time ago and I recall that it included comments on him having developed a ‘library’ of index cards with favourite words and associated clues. An opening for some bias perhaps.

        Are ‘oldies but goodies’ repeated by the same setter, or are they spread across more than one setter? Even if they are spread across more than setter, is one setter more predominant than the other(s)?

        1. Excellent questions, senf.

          I haven’t yet had time to compute the statistics to determine if the repeats are uncorrelated. However, it’s already clear that some topical words do not appear randomly. For example, when a STURGEON was just a fish it appeared in the back pager 20 times over 12 years. But now it’s also a well-known politician and we’ve already seen it 5 times this year. The data shows though that the most popular words are not topical. I’ll be looking in detail at their distributions when I get a chance.

          The question of setter correlations is intriguing. While we have setters for all of the Toughies, I don’t know who set most of the back page crosswords. Perhaps someone can tell me how long Rufus, Jay, and Virgilius have occupied their current slots because I can certainly look for correlations by day of the week? If there’s any other setter information out there I’d love to have it.

          1. The entire 15 years of daily back pagers that I collected amounts to around 161,000 clues. Shows how amazing that Rufus number is.

  25. Wow, I found this really hard but equally entertaining. Like Mr. K., I had to resort to using electronic gizmo for a couple, I hate when I have to do that.
    There were so many fun clues, how can one possibly choose only one? All right, Kath, I won’t be tempted, just say I loved 19a but fave was 16d. Seems unfair to single out only two when there was such a good selection.
    Thanks to setter and to Mr. Kitty for super blog; loved the pic at 5d, what a splendid chap.

    1. Everyone’s being very well behaved about favourites at the moment. :good: I suspect it won’t last . . .

  26. Quite straightforward and workmanlike I thought with not too many ‘smile’ moments. Therefore, I would be hard pressed to single out a favourite but I suppose that as 21a brought to mind a couple of the regular commenters – I should put it on the podium but not the number 1 spot. That goes to 3d – the only one that brought a smile to my lips.

    Thanks to our Tuesday Mr Ron and to Mr K for his super review.

  27. Found this quite tricky but got there unaided in the end with several ‘bung ins’.
    Fortunately they turned out to be right.

    I thought 1d was a bit unfair . There are lots of code words.
    Many thanks to the setter and even more thanks to Mr Kitty for the invaluable hints.

  28. Thanks to Messrs Ron and Kitty for the puzzle and blog. I’ll be boring and say that my favourite was also 16d.
    I’ll nominate ENNUI, ETUI and EWER as answers that appear far too often.

    1. 25 ENNUIs (216th place)

      22 ETUIs (344th place)

      23 EWERs (296th place)

      But I agree that they all appear too often :).

        1. 46 IDEAs puts it in 13th place. :)

          Only 4 ELIs (12,107th place), the last being in 2009. I feel like we see ELI a lot, but it must be as a charade ingredient.

          6 ATEs (7,518th place).

          The top 20 words for the back page all have four letters except for two fives, one six, and one seven.

        1. Much more common that I would have expected. ISIS has appeared 33 times, putting it in 67th place.

          I punted on the Isis a few times many years ago. Good times.

          1. I’m drawing a blank on detectives we see regularly apart from Kath’s favourite. Who else should I look for?

            MORSE has appeared six times – three times as a detective, twice as a code, and once like this: Some worried about the end of another walrus (5)

            1. Holmes and Rebus, at least. I doubt if Poirot, Marple and Columbo have cropped up too often.

              1. HOLMES – 3, plus a homophone: They’re inhabited, the detective said (5)

                REBUS – 11 (but only clued twice as a detective. The other 9 definitions are puzzle or problem)

                MARPLE and COLUMBO have never appeared.

                Searching on clues containing “detective” revealed: MAIGRET, HERCULEPOIROT, HERCULE, MOROSE (five times as some variant of O inside detective), REMORSE (four times as some variant of about detective), SHERLOCK, WATSON, NANCYDREW,

  29. Late in the day for me, anyway a **/*** with a few holdups .Naturally assumed 17a would start with a De and took a while to think of etre when the solution became obvious- subtle change.liked the surface of 14a and favourite 16d, don’t remember seeing this before and a D’OH when the penny dropped.

  30. Must be having a good wavelength day as this was definitely R&W for me with plenty of smiles along the way.
    1a made me think Shamus as did a few other clues but then I decided it was probably too easy to be one of his.

    Podium places go to 1,17&24a plus 3&16d.

    Thanks to Mr. Setter for the fun and to Mr. K for the review and the stats. Are you going to tell us the winners at some stage?

      1. Blimey – you really do need something to do!
        It really is quite interesting – well done for thinking of it.
        PS – Isis as a god – she must be pretty useful to setters.

        1. You’re right, Kath. There are a fair few “flower of Oxford” and “course at Oxford” clues, but most of the ISIS clues allude to the goddess.

  31. We did know the Kentish geography so that one was not the problem it might have been. It all went together smoothly for us and we found plenty here to keep us smiling. Liked the clever wordplay for 17a so nominate it for favourite.
    Thanks Mr Ron ans Mr K.

  32. Reasonably straightforward and pleasant 2*/2.5*. No particular favourite but 18d was rather nice and, once understood, 17a is ingenious.

    Thanks to our mystery compiler and to our data miner, Mr Kitty.

  33. My Anti-Virus software’s letting me back on the site again. Sounds like you’ve had a bit of a nightmare here…

    Today’s puzzle? Not too difficult, maybe **, with the longer answers taking the lion’s share of that. A nice puzzle to come back to. :-)

  34. I think the word ARTICLE may need an article all of its own. The word RECITAL possibly deserves a fanfare as does DECIMAL and MEDICAL. I have seen a few SEWER ‘s in my time as well.

    1. ARTICLE is up there – 62nd place with 32 appearances. The others not so much:

      RECITAL – 24 of them, 267th place

      DECIMAL – 7 and 6175th

      MEDICAL – 10 and 3190th

      SEWER – 9 and 3772nd

  35. Here’s the data that I promised. I considered 5430 back page puzzles. They held 160, 768 clues and 48, 866 distinct answers. The 20 most used answers, with their number of appearances are:
    EVEN 58
    ORAL 56
    ISLE 54
    EXTRA 54
    STUN 52
    IRIS 52
    STIR 50
    ONCE 49
    IOTA 49
    ESTATE 48
    APSE 48
    UNIT 47
    IDEA 46
    MEAN 45
    IRON 45
    STAR 44
    ITEM 43
    TREASON 42
    ACHE 42
    IDEAL 42

    1. I remember ‘extra’ as featuring strongly in the guardian list – must be something about checkers or word fill.

      1. EXTRA is also on top of the Toughie list. I can’t see why that might be – _X_R_ and E_T_A don’t seem like particularly challenging patterns. Only four words in the BRB fit the first pattern, and there are only two BRB candidates for the second. Perhaps the Toughie uses other grid intersections. Something else to research.

        1. Interesting stuff, Mr K. As you’ve said, No. 10 on the list appears in today’s backpager too!

          I think, putting my setter’s hat on, that EXTRA features so often owing to the lack of alternatives to fill the gap between the most common letter in English and the third most common letter. TREASON has always been tempting for setters because it lends itself so easily to anagrams in particular.

          Out of personal interest, does SYNECDOCHE feature anywhere? I included it in one of my puzzles in Rookie Corner mainly because I had never seen it in a puzzle anywhere before.

          1. Happy to check that for you, silvanus. Look like you picked a good word because I can’t find SYNECDOCHE anywhere in the past 15 years of Cryptics, Toughies, and Quicks.

            I couldn’t find it anywhere in my memory either, so I’ve just been to look it up in the BRB. One to store away.

            How did you clue it?

            1. Many thanks for checking, I feel proud of having used it now!

              My clue was “Regular saying by City medic, male, is a figure of speech” (although the first attempt had “of” instead of “by” and “odd” instead of “regular”, but Prolixic put me straight!).

              1. Eleven word clues are a no no for me. There is a long clue in my forthcoming rookie puzzle but that is alright because as you well know I can do no wrong.

  36. Hmm – the spaces I carefully inserted to make the numbers line up apparently vanished in the posting. I hope that it’s still clear.

    Today’s much-discussed ESTATE appears on the list. It turns out that my speculation this morning that its clueing today might be a chestnut is wrong. I don’t see it clued like that before. The only previous appearance of French art = ES is the one I mentioned above. So it definitely deserved favourite status.

    1. Seems to me art=es has been used a lot since it first appeared. it will flummox you first time, after that you remember it… well, sometimes

      1. When the penny dropped in the Mine I felt that I’d seen the construction before, but I can’t remember or work out where that might have been.

  37. Another table that I find interesting is one I’ve seen beery hiker use in connection with his database of Guardian clues. This is the most repeated answer for word lengths from 3 to 15 letters:

    ICE 20
    EVEN 58
    EXTRA 54
    ESTATE 48
    TREASON 42

  38. I am just so relieved to see the site up and running again , that I am not going to complain about anything.The loss of the page somehow made me loose all my solving skills ,such as they are.
    I found this puzzle very difficult.
    Thanks to BD , Mr kitty and to the setter.

  39. Agree with Mr. Kitty, this one started out on the tough side, before the letters began to fall in place. Sometimes though I got the answer but couldn’t quite see how it fit the clue, 1a, 17a, 3d and 8d being examples. Even when you have figured it out the hints really help to illustrate how that clues work, so thanks. With 16a I was just about to press click here when the answer jumped out of nowhere. I was convinced this was some exotic alcoholic drink I had never heard of. All good fun and jolly good company as they say.

  40. Tuesday puzzles I am starting to look forward to & this was another in a growing trend.
    17a amused me & was COTD.
    Thanks to setter & MrK for hints. Was hoping for Dave Clark Five for 11d but then looked at it on Google dear me how amateurish.
    Late posting as I looked up the birthday paradox. As I am not a statician was intrigued with the rationale then got bogged down trying to follow things.
    Whilst I thought of RD with 21a, thought 3d must describe how BD has felt lately. Thanks again BD for your determination.

    1. The maths is about counting possibilities. Consider assigning birthdays to group of 4 people, say.

      If there are no restrictions, there are 365 ways to do that for the first person. For each of those there are 365 possibilities for the second person, and so on.
      For 4 people the total number of possible ways to assign birthdays would be 365 x 365 x 365 x 365.

      If we want the birthdays to be different, then there are only 364 choices for second person, then 363 for the third and so on.
      So the number of ways to give four people different birthdays is 365 x 364 x 363 x 362.

      The probability the birthdays are all different is then (365 x 364 x 363 x 362)/(365 x 365 x 365 x 365).

      The probability that the birthdays are not all different is 1 minus that: 1 – (365 x 364 x 363 x 362)/(365 x 365 x 365 x 365).

      The extension to more people is hopefully clear. One finds that this probability reaches 0.5 when the group is 23 people.

      1. MrK
        Thank you for taking the trouble to educate somebody who only vaguely understands probability. I had sort-of got the bit about 1/365 etc. It was when I got to the abstract proof that the horlicks started to take over my brain.
        Have to go back to my “Facts from Figures” when I get faster at doing the puzzles!

        1. If you’re talking about that “Abstract proof” section on the Wikipedia page, it doesn’t mean much to me either. I don’t agree with the claim that it’s a simpler proof of the probability expression, and it doesn’t add any insight to the problem beyond what one gets from the counting argument so I’m not sure why it’s there.

  41. Thanks Mr K. for another super set of hints and amusing blog.
    Enjoyed the crossword, very late so I needed a couple of hints.
    Favourite was 12a.
    Thanks to Mr.Ron…

  42. Enjoyable puzzle and glad to be able to access the site from my iPad. Thanks to all.

    BD, glad to see you’re back in business and trust that the idiots that attacked the site remain outside the wall. Google meanwhile wouldnt allow me to continue to the site at my risk despite their warning page commentary. Ive fed this back to them but cant see this having much impact. They’re probably too busy dealing with fake news stories.

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