DT 28290

Daily Telegraph Cryptic No 28290

Hints and tips by Mr Kitty

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

BD Rating – Difficulty ** Enjoyment ***

We don’t usually know the identity of the Tuesday setter, but I am pleased to be able to announce a debut back-page puzzle from Chris Lancaster a.k.a. Samuel, who outed himself on Facebook (this link only works if you are signed in to Facebook).

Hello everyone. I’m happy to be back in the chair after a long week filled with travel. With only six anagrams featuring in today’s crossword it took me a little while to get going, but it gradually all came together in a reasonable time with quite a few smiles along the way. There’s something of an astronomical theme running through it, which I liked. Definitely recommended.

Changing the subject slightly, I’ve observed that long clues generally don’t get a lot of respect among the commentariat. So I’ve been amusing myself recently researching just how short a clue can be made. Some here may remember the two-character clue “O? (4,6)” [pattern with checkers: L_V_L_T_E_ answer: LOVE LETTER ] that appeared 22 months ago in DT 27714 (02/02/2015). While that’s impressively concise, it’s still not enough to win the brevity stakes. Looking further back, DT 25129 (21/10/06) offered the single-letter clue “X (4,2,3,5)” [checkers: S_G_O_T_E_I_E_ answer: SIGN OF THE TIMES]. Of course, the only way to top that brilliance is a clue with no letters. Well, we find just that in DT 26060 (15/10/09), which offers “? (8)” [checkers: _L_E_E_S answer: CLUELESS ]. It’s possible that some of these clues from the past may be chestnuts for our experienced solvers, but they’re all new to this crossword fledgling and they all made me smile. Perhaps they’ll do the same for you.

In the hints below the definitions are underlined and the answers will be revealed by clicking on the ANSWER buttons.

Please leave a comment telling us what you thought.


1a    Cross Cheshire, say, with lift (7,3)
CHEESED OFF: Follow an edible item hailing from Cheshire, among other places, with a verb meaning to lift one’s hat.

6a    Big Brother gets backing when suppressed by Brussels (4)
ESAU: The abbreviation for the political entity associated with Brussels contains (suppressed by) the reversal (backing) of a two-letter word for when. I needed Mr Google to explain that this biblical son of Isaac was big brother to Jacob. However, my database shows that he’s made two appearances here in the past year so I really should have remembered him.

9a    Work hard having got rid of rodent? (6,4)
BEAVER AWAY: Taken literally the answer could be a command to remove a large dam-building rodent.

10a    Left sitting next to Mum eating Eastern dinner, maybe (4)
MEAL: A two-letter mother containing (eating) E(astern) is followed by (sitting next to) L(eft).

12a    Inflammation from dusty environment (4)
STYE: Crosswordland’s usual eye problem is hidden (from) inside the clue.

13a    Swimmer‘s ginger hairdo (3,6)
RED MULLET: The colour associated with ginger hair followed by an infamous 1980s hairstyle gives a swimming creature.

15a    Dickens character heard American coin word meaning ‘beside’ (8)
NICKLEBY: Follow two syllables which sound like (heard) the US five cent coin with a short word meaning beside or next to.

16a    Deprive nameless servant when drunk (6)
STARVE: Anagram (when drunk) of SERVAnT without the one-letter abbreviation for name (nameless).

18a    Commit again to stand down (6)
RESIGN: Split 2-4 the answer would mean to repeat a written commitment.

20a    Tease over mostly rubbish weapon (8)
GARROTTE: Join the reversal (over) of a three-letter word meaning tease to a synonym of rubbish without its last letter (mostly).

23a    Novel refreshment for energy sag (5,4)
AGNES GREY: An anagram (refreshment for) of ENERGY SAG is the first novel of Anne Bronte. Thanks again to Mr Google for helping with the parse.

24a    Low-grade boat needs a horn (4)
TUBA: A disparaging term for a boat followed by the A from the clue.

26a    Greek character cheers after score is halved (4)
IOTA: Start with two letters which together look like the number that is half of one score. Then append a short colloquialism meaning cheers or thanks.

27a    Fancy man entered, showing sign of affection (10)
ENDEARMENT: Anagram (fancy) of MAN ENTERED.

28a    Somewhat divine Roman emperor (4)
NERO: This ruler is hidden (somewhat) inside the clue.

29a    Small animals hide in town (10)
SHREWSBURY: Joining some small untamed animals with a synonym of hide gives a town in Shropshire. Anyone who has spent time in New Zealand will undoubtedly associate the answer with this jam-filled biscuit.


1d    Young European, perhaps twenty-seven (4)
CUBE: Concatenate a young animal with the abbreviation for European to get a special class of number. Eight and sixty-four are some other members of this class.

2d    Flexible response after auction goes belly up (7)
ELASTIC: An inadvertent response follows (after) the reversal (goes belly up) of the activity which includes auction as an example.

3d    Footballer in alone, meaning he plumbs the depths (12)
SPELEOLOGIST: Put the most famous Brazilian footballer inside another word for alone. Then append the meaning or important point of a story.

4d    Harangue terrible-sounding family (8)
DIATRIBE: This rant sounds like an adjective meaning terrible plus an informal term for a family.

5d    German woman and policeman con merchants (6)
FRAUDS: The German word for woman followed by the two-letter abbreviation for a Detective Sergeant.

7d    Girl runs like a star (7)
STELLAR: A girl’s name (associated, for example, with a famous fashion designer) followed by the cricketing abbreviation for runs.

8d    Peacekeepers allow one to flee in ranks with little education (10)
UNLETTERED: Combine the usual two-letter peacekeepers, a verb meaning allow, and a word for “in ranks” with its I removed (one to flee).

11d    Sweet things loveless actor sprinkled with stardust (7,5)
CUSTARD TARTS: Anagram (sprinkled) of ACToR without O (loveless) and STARDUST.

14d    Lack of fizz upset Frenchman, acclaim being a non-starter (10)
ENERVATION: Reverse (upset) one of Crosswordland’s favourite Frenchmen (much discussed in last Sunday’s blog) and attach a type of acclaim often delivered standing minus its first letter (being a non-starter).

17d    Cast end game orbiting unknown satellite (8)
GANYMEDE: With the inclusion (orbiting) of a single-letter mathematical unknown, an anagram (cast) of END GAME gives one of the four Galilean moons of Jupiter. Here it is casting its shadow on the planet.

19d    Treason destroyed politician (7)
SENATOR: Anagram (destroyed) of TREASON.

21d    Picture story about black gold (7)
TABLEAU: Into a four-letter story insert (about) the abbreviation for B(lack). Then attach the chemical symbol for gold.

22d    Yank‘s rule broken by serving-girl? Quite the opposite (6)
WRENCH: Inverting the wordplay as instructed (Quite the opposite), a medieval serving girl contains (broken by) a single-letter abbreviation for rule.

25d    Southern river lodge (4)
STAY: S(outhern) and the longest river in Scotland.

Thanks to today’s mystery setter for the fun [Not so mysterious – see prologue.  BD]. I smiled most today at several of the short answers. In particular, I liked 26a a lot but the honours go to 1d for its clever misdirection that had me looking for a connection to 27a. Which clues made you smile?

The Quick Crossword pun: THAI+TAN+NICK=TITANIC


  1. Young Salopian
    Posted December 6, 2016 at 11:04 am | Permalink | Reply

    Although not the best clue, 29 across has to be my favourite due to my geographical location. I thought 17 down the pick overall.

    Many thanks to our debut setter for a thoroughly enjoyable puzzle to brighten up this cold, grey morning and to MK for a fine review. 2*/3*.

  2. Miffypops
    Posted December 6, 2016 at 11:10 am | Permalink | Reply

    A really enjoyable puzzle that took slightly longer than usual. 12ac and 3d being the last two in. Thanks to Samuel and thanks to M Kitty.

  3. Senf
    Posted December 6, 2016 at 11:21 am | Permalink | Reply

    */*** for me, very enjoyable without too much head scratching. Long favourite – 9a, short favourite – 1d, a real gem in my book.

    Presently in the midst of the first (later than usual) serious snow storm here in the centre of Canada, heading for high temperatures of minus 18 degrees C by the end of the week (no misprints in this sentence).

    Thanks to Samuel and Mr K.

  4. Jose
    Posted December 6, 2016 at 11:38 am | Permalink | Reply

    Mr K, the shortest cryptic clue I’ve ever seen (though I’m not sure in was in the DT) is: 1a (1,7,3,4) – and you can’t beat that for brevity. I’m sure this is an old chestnut for the regulars on here, but some younger people and novices may find it mildly intriguing.

    • Mr Kitty
      Posted December 6, 2016 at 5:59 pm | Permalink | Reply

      Hi Jose. Nice. I’m pretty sure that that unbeatable clue hasn’t been in the DT in the last 16 years. Can you supply the checkers?

      • Jose
        Posted December 7, 2016 at 10:17 am | Permalink | Reply

        Sorry Mr K, I’ve mislead you – it should read 1,6,3,1,4. I don’t have any checkers but there is an apostrophe in the clue (which I counted as a letter before) – which will help. I’ll put the answer into the Google search engine above and see if it turns up in the archive.

        • Jose
          Posted December 7, 2016 at 10:32 am | Permalink | Reply

          I can’t find it in the archive but that doesn’t surprise me because I do solve cryptics from many different publications and it is quite a few years ago (probably before 2009). I always assumed it was a famous (none) clue in Crosswordland?

        • Merusa
          Posted December 7, 2016 at 1:06 pm | Permalink | Reply

          Got it!

  5. dutch
    Posted December 6, 2016 at 12:21 pm | Permalink | Reply

    plenty to enjoy and a few old friends as well. I didn’t know the novel, probably should have.

    1,6,9,&13a all made me smile, a good start. I liked the penny drop moment for 26a – I was waiting for the checker to rule out BETA, but should have seen it earlier.

    Speaking of checkers – would you share them Jose?

    Many thanks Mr Kitty and Samuel

    • Miffypops
      Posted December 6, 2016 at 12:34 pm | Permalink | Reply

      Reference 26ac, this answer has appeared a lot of times. I have used it both of my Rookie puzzles. Just how many ways can a simple four letter word be clued? I really liked like this example.

      • Mr Kitty
        Posted December 6, 2016 at 3:06 pm | Permalink | Reply

        Hi, MP. The answer to your question appears to be nine.

        26a is in seventh place on the list of most-repeated back page answers, with 50 appearances since 2001.

        The constructions employed to clue it in the DT Cryptic include:
        1. Variations on I + (TO reversed) + A, I + O + (AT reversed) or I + O + thanks.
        2. Lurkers e.g. “Some Cypriot admiring Greek character”.
        3. Cryptic definitions along the lines of “Letter to the Corinthians”.
        4. Double definitions involving Greek character and scrap/trifle/tittle, etc.
        5. Initial letters: “The origins of interesting old tale about Whit”.
        6. Alternating letters: “Regulars in minor team getting tiny amount”.
        7. Charades including a deletion: “Revel losing head a little bit”.
        8. A to I reversed: “First nine of our letters turned up, and one from Greece”
        9. Finally, variants of the “ten cheers” used today have appeared twice before.

        No anagrams though :)

        • Jose
          Posted December 7, 2016 at 11:26 am | Permalink | Reply

          How about: They speak Ta Oi in Vietnam but after translation it sounds a bit Greek (4).

          • Mr Kitty
            Posted December 7, 2016 at 3:23 pm | Permalink | Reply

            Brilliant :)

            So the answer to MP’s question is “at least ten”.

            • Jose
              Posted December 8, 2016 at 11:03 am | Permalink | Reply

              That one of mine probably doesn’t count, I just wrote it myself for a bit of fun – it’s not been in a published crossword.

              • Mr Kitty
                Posted December 8, 2016 at 3:32 pm | Permalink | Reply

                It should be. :)

  6. Kath
    Posted December 6, 2016 at 12:22 pm | Permalink | Reply

    :phew: Am I really the first one to say that I found this difficult? Very enjoyable but very tricky.
    I didn’t help myself one litle tiny bit by dividing 11d 4,8 – how I did that I have no idea but I did and so it was, rather inevitably, my last answer.
    I’ve never heard of the 23a book but being an obvious anagram that one was OK.
    Neither have I ever heard of 3d and I needed to check the spelling of the 15a Dickens character – my first attempt looked odd but was actually right.
    I got into a terrible muddle with the 20a weapon.
    I liked 1 and 29a and 5 and 22d. My favourite, once I realised that it was nothing to do with 27a, was 1d.
    With thanks to Samuel and to Mr Kitty.

    • Kath
      Posted December 6, 2016 at 12:24 pm | Permalink | Reply

      PS – for anyone who has never done so it’s worth looking up the 13a ‘hairdo’ in the BRB.

      • Mr Kitty
        Posted December 6, 2016 at 3:09 pm | Permalink | Reply

        Thanks, Kath, that’s brilliant. I wonder what other gems lurk in the BRB besides that and the famous éclair.

        • Gazza
          Posted December 6, 2016 at 3:49 pm | Permalink | Reply

          Check out ‘stud’ (definition 2).

          • Mr Kitty
            Posted December 6, 2016 at 3:58 pm | Permalink | Reply

            Wonderful. Thanks, Gazza :)

          • Kath
            Posted December 6, 2016 at 4:00 pm | Permalink | Reply

            . . . and ‘duvet day’ which really makes me laugh. :smile:
            I like the idea that these brain boxes who are responsible for clever stuff like putting together the BRB are human beings with a sense of humour.

            • Mr Kitty
              Posted December 6, 2016 at 4:14 pm | Permalink | Reply

              Same here. That humour just below the surface makes the BRB all the more appropriate as an aid for solving cryptic crosswords.

            • Rabbit Dave
              Posted December 6, 2016 at 4:51 pm | Permalink | Reply

              Although stud and éclair are in my ageing BRB, the hairdo and “duvet day” are not. Would you relieve my frustration and tell us what the later versions of the BRB has to say about them please?

              • Mr Kitty
                Posted December 6, 2016 at 5:00 pm | Permalink | Reply

                Mullet: A hairstyle that is short at the front, long at the back, and ridiculous all round.

                Duvet day: A day’s absence from work arranged at short notice between an employee devoid of inspiration for a plausible excuse and an employer who has heard them all before.

                • Rabbit Dave
                  Posted December 6, 2016 at 5:04 pm | Permalink | Reply

                  :lol: Many thanks, Mr K.

                  I think perhaps it’s time to ask Father Christmas for a new BRB this year …

                  • Mr Kitty
                    Posted December 6, 2016 at 5:23 pm | Permalink | Reply

                    I love having the BRB app on my phone. It has useful search functions and then the BRB is always with me.

            • Posted December 6, 2016 at 6:13 pm | Permalink | Reply

              Some more:

              charity begins at home
              rock salmon
              road hog
              sea serpent

              • Gazza
                Posted December 6, 2016 at 6:46 pm | Permalink | Reply

                … and a few more:


    • Bluebird
      Posted December 6, 2016 at 3:06 pm | Permalink | Reply

      No, Kath … I found this decidedly tricky. Not on the wavelength at all.

      I wrestled with the 20a weapon for ages and spend a year and a day trying to get ‘oil’ ( I.e. Black gold) into 21d.

      I probably enjoyed it a lot less than you.

    • Merusa
      Posted December 6, 2016 at 4:07 pm | Permalink | Reply

      I found it really, really tricky, with copious use of electronic gizmo.

    • BusyLizzie
      Posted December 6, 2016 at 7:35 pm | Permalink | Reply

      I found it tricky also, certainly tougher than yesterday. Might be because I am getting preoccupied with all the things I still need to do to get ready for Christmas, and thus not concentrating. That’s my excuse anyway.

    • Brookc
      Posted December 6, 2016 at 11:13 pm | Permalink | Reply

      Difficult and infuriating ****/*

  7. shropshirelad
    Posted December 6, 2016 at 1:04 pm | Permalink | Reply

    I had an inkling that this puzzle was not our usual Tuesday Mr Ron and it seems I was correct. I’ve not looked to see who it is purely because I don’t know what ‘Facebook’ is. Can anyone enlighten me? Is it a new ‘app’? :) Anyway, nothing really to scare the nags but enjoyable nonetheless. There are probably going to be a couple of clue constructs that may annoy Silvanus, but all in all – clued fairly. I retrieved the cave man (woman) from the depths of my memory banks – but the answer was very gettable from the checkers and the wordplay. No particular favourite – it was just good fun.

    Thanks to ??? for the puzzle and to Mr K for his review.

    Finally – thank you to all who left messages for me in yesterdays review. They were all most appreciated (that’s ALL MOST btw) and not the synonym of ‘nearly’. :). I told you that you wouldn’t get rid of me that easily.

    • Merusa
      Posted December 6, 2016 at 4:10 pm | Permalink | Reply

      You sound as techie as I am! I’ve had a Facebook page for two or three years but I haven’t posted anything on it!

      • shropshirelad
        Posted December 6, 2016 at 4:32 pm | Permalink | Reply

        Why on this God’s Earth would you want to post everything about yourself – every minute of the day, so that total strangers can view what you’re up to. Brings to mind Richard Burton’s opening words on ‘War of the Worlds’:

        No one would have believed that
        in the last years of the 19th century
        that human affairs were being watched
        from the timeless worlds of (cyber) space
        No one could have dreamed we were being scrutinized……..

        • Merusa
          Posted December 6, 2016 at 4:41 pm | Permalink | Reply

          I have a “friend” who posts four or five times a DAY! I never read them, how could I, there’s so much to do I wouldn’t have the time.

        • LetterboxRoy
          Posted December 6, 2016 at 5:53 pm | Permalink | Reply

          I have an idea what those who use Twitter should be called, and it’s not tweeters.

          Facebook appears to me to be the internet’s equivalent of a public toilet wall.

          Feel free to correct me if anyone disagrees.

          • LabradorsruleOK
            Posted December 6, 2016 at 8:21 pm | Permalink | Reply

            As someone pointed out twittered is a homophone for what can emanate from a twit.

            • LetterboxRoy
              Posted December 6, 2016 at 9:31 pm | Permalink | Reply

              Ugh. Very funny tho’ :smile:

        • BusyLizzie
          Posted December 6, 2016 at 7:39 pm | Permalink | Reply

          Zip, zero, zilch interest in Facebook. Cannot understand when/how people lost the desire for privacy and want to tell the world everything, including what they just had for lunch. And this old bird has never twittered either. Who has the time anyway? Apart from a certain infamous American… 😉

          • hoofityoudonkey
            Posted December 6, 2016 at 8:55 pm | Permalink | Reply

            I have friends who stick notes on Facebook saying: “I think I will have porridge for breakfast this morning”, I kid you not

          • Merusa
            Posted December 6, 2016 at 9:01 pm | Permalink | Reply

            I don’t know if you get the Miami Herald up there, but there were some very interesting reporting today.

            • BusyLizzie
              Posted December 6, 2016 at 11:15 pm | Permalink | Reply

              No, we used to get the Sun Sentinel, but stopped that about 3 years ago, as the news was old and too expensive. Just on line newspapers now. Favorite for me is the DT still.

  8. Jane
    Posted December 6, 2016 at 1:05 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Bluebirds reckoned we might be in for a tougher challenge this morning and it certainly took me rather longer than usual.
    Made a mess of 15a by trying, with the first two checkers in, to put the Dickens character’s first name into the grid – it was only when I twigged 4d that I realised the error of my ways.
    3d was, I’m tempted to say, a new word for me but I have a suspicion that it rings a distant bell – probably from a previous crossword.
    Podium places going to 1&13a plus 4d.

    Thanks to Samuel for the wake-up call and to Mr. K for a brilliant blog. Very much enjoyed the pics at 9a&14d as well as the 25d musical clip – not a version I’m familiar with. The ‘short clues’ info was a real eye-opener – bet I don’t remember them when I need to!

    • Mr Kitty
      Posted December 6, 2016 at 3:21 pm | Permalink | Reply

      Thanks, Jane.

      I do wonder how often those short clues are reused. I looked back at the 15 October 2009 blog (http://bigdave44.com/2009/10/15/dt-26060/) to see what it had to say about “? (8)”. To my surprise, Libellue labeled it a “hoary old chestnut”. I don’t know how often it was used before that, but it hasn’t appeared in the DT Cryptic since. Perhaps these clues are so memorable that they become chestnuts after a single use?

      Incidentally, as a newcomer it’s fascinating to look at those early blogs to see how the site has evolved over the years and to realize who’s been here since the beginning.

      • crypticsue
        Posted December 6, 2016 at 4:00 pm | Permalink | Reply

        I think if you, like me, do most of the available cryptics, plus hundreds of testers, , ‘old chestnuts’ come round faster than you’d think

  9. Beaver
    Posted December 6, 2016 at 1:40 pm | Permalink | Reply

    What a lovely quirky crossword and a breath of fresh air, lots of lateral thinking required and quite a few Do’h moments, thanks to setter and Mr Kitty for the blog picks-was 9a Mr Beaver from the Lion Witch etc?.
    Favourite had to be 3d, what a charade.
    Never really associated Mr Bowie with a mullet, but I suppose it was-did he ever take a bad photograph ?
    Oh about a **/****

    • Rabbit Dave
      Posted December 6, 2016 at 4:59 pm | Permalink | Reply

      I see that today’s setter had an incorrect inkling that you might be on holiday today. :wink:

  10. Spook
    Posted December 6, 2016 at 1:55 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Great crossword lovely word play I hope we have more from Samuel, this was very refreshing. Favourite clue must be 3D. I agree with Beaver great charade.
    Many thanks to Mr Kitty and Samule.
    ***/*** for me.

  11. Jezza
    Posted December 6, 2016 at 2:02 pm | Permalink | Reply

    I wasn’t going to look at this one today, until I noticed that we had a new setter.
    I am glad I did, as not only was it enjoyable, but also put up considerably more of a fight than normal for me on a Tuesday.

    Many thanks to Samuel, and to Mr Kitty for the review.

  12. Heno
    Posted December 6, 2016 at 2:25 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Thanks to Samuel and to Mr Kitty for the review and hints. I enjoyed this one very much, but found it very tricky. Needed the hints for 3,4,14d. Last in was 15a. My favourite was 13a, which made me laugh. Was 3*/4* for me.

  13. Dr M
    Posted December 6, 2016 at 2:32 pm | Permalink | Reply

    A real curates egg with some very easy clues and some toughie standard. I think it was unfamiliarity with Samuels cluing which added to the hardness of the puzzle for me. Although I initially missed my gentle Tuesday workout I warmed to the new challenge and eventually finished. I had to check I had 3d right but in honour of ziggy 13a is my favourite.

  14. Vancouverbc
    Posted December 6, 2016 at 2:38 pm | Permalink | Reply

    ***/*. Didnt enjoy this as to me at least some of it seemed contrived and a little obscure. Also not nelped by my spelling of 15a and an alternative bung in for 8d which sealed my fate. Thanks to the setter and Mr K. The south west coast of Canada deals as badly with snow as the UK – total mayhem yesterday with more to come.

  15. MalcolmR
    Posted December 6, 2016 at 2:56 pm | Permalink | Reply

    **/*** for me I think. I didn’t know the book in 23a and I’m not sure I’ve ever heard the answer to 14d. But, I only got a grade 6 for English ‘O’ level, so what do I know?

    Thanks and welcome to Samuel and thanks to Mr Kitty.

  16. Bluebird
    Posted December 6, 2016 at 3:44 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Although I didn’t much enjoy the puzzle, I did enjoy your blog, Mr Kitty.

    I’ve downloaded the strip cartoon (which I shall forward to a couple of friends in this position), I admired the Red Mullet picture and it was great to see the Jackson Browne clip at the end (he has a property quite close to where my son lives). I reckon that guy has a picture in the attic………his hair hasn’t changed in 40 years.

    • Mr Kitty
      Posted December 6, 2016 at 4:29 pm | Permalink | Reply

      Thanks, Bluebird. I was happy to find that clip of the timeless Mr Browne. I saw David Lindley perform not too long ago, but before today I didn’t realize that he was the falsetto voice on “Stay”.

  17. Angel
    Posted December 6, 2016 at 3:56 pm | Permalink | Reply

    How nice to have a different feel to clueing – welcome Samuel – hope we can look forward to more of the same. 🙂 Don’t think I have come across 3d before but ended up with all the crossers so could work it out. Was brassed off to start with in 1a. 26a may put in regular appearances but I don’t recall that clue. Thank you Samuel and Mr. Kitty. ***/***.

  18. silvanus
    Posted December 6, 2016 at 4:09 pm | Permalink | Reply

    I found this fairly slow going but immensely rewarding, a terrific backpage debut from Samuel. interesting to see that it seems to have divided opinion.

    Seven fewer anagrams than yesterday, and some exceptionally clever wordplay, particularly for 3d, my LOI and overall favourite. I also gave ticks to 13a, 27a, 1d, 7d and 11d, which had a lovely surface reading.

    I hope I’m not disappointing SL, but I only had one quibble really, that was the abbreviation in 22d. I’ve seen “ruled” abbreviated to “r” before I think, but not “rule”. Seemingly both are accepted?

    Many thanks to Mr. Lancaster and to Mr. Kitty.

    • Mr Kitty
      Posted December 6, 2016 at 4:17 pm | Permalink | Reply

      The rule abbreviation was new to me as well. But it is in the BRB, which presumably makes it legal.

    • shropshirelad
      Posted December 6, 2016 at 4:36 pm | Permalink | Reply

      I just thought that 8 & 11d both used the removal of a letter in the word play – but that was from memory – and that’s not always reliable :cool:

      For some reason ‘word play’ always changes to ‘foreplay’ OO-er missus

      • Rabbit Dave
        Posted December 6, 2016 at 5:02 pm | Permalink | Reply

        And 16a!

        All three are clued using different words, although the devices in 16a & 11d are analogous.

      • silvanus
        Posted December 6, 2016 at 5:04 pm | Permalink | Reply

        Close, but not close enough to make my repetition radar bleep!

  19. Una
    Posted December 6, 2016 at 4:12 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Above a two star rating for trickiness , especially 3d and 6a.
    I liked 1a and 1d.
    Thanks Mr kitty for the clear hints , and also thanks to the setter.

  20. Merusa
    Posted December 6, 2016 at 4:28 pm | Permalink | Reply

    I’m totally exhausted! I can’t make up my mind whether I enjoyed this or not, there were so many to enjoy, but I was beaten by two. I wanted to put the correct answer in 1d but didn’t understand the twenty seven bit, not sure I get it yet. I, thus, missed 9a, but I should have gotten that.
    Fortunately, I got the Dickens one and knew the 23a novel, those helped. I got 3d by remembering spelunkers, it was easy after that.
    I needed gizmo for far too many, 14d, 20a, and more.
    Fave was 11d.
    Thanks to Samuel, and to Mr. Kitty for helping to cross the finish line.

    • Mr Kitty
      Posted December 6, 2016 at 4:35 pm | Permalink | Reply

      Hi Merusa.

      Regarding 1d, since three squared, defined as 3 times 3, = 9, 9 is known as a square.

      1d refers to 3 x 3 x 3. Does that help?

      • Merusa
        Posted December 6, 2016 at 4:44 pm | Permalink | Reply

        Yes, sorta! I’ve never been good at numbers. Doing maths at school, I aced geometry, I could “see” it because it was a drawing, but arithmetic floored me.

        • Mr Kitty
          Posted December 6, 2016 at 5:04 pm | Permalink | Reply

          Then perhaps picturing a cube 3 metres on each side and computing its volume works better as an explanation?

          • Merusa
            Posted December 6, 2016 at 6:37 pm | Permalink | Reply

            Got it!! Thanks for that, was feeling a bit dim – in reality, I was being dim.

            • BobH
              Posted December 7, 2016 at 10:00 am | Permalink | Reply

              Not being dim at all. I was very good at maths and if someone asked me what the cube root of 27 is I could tell them. However throwing a random 27 into a clue would usually indicate ref to the other clue, 27a, this threw me completely, having got the answer but not fully understanding it.

  21. Ridgerunner
    Posted December 6, 2016 at 4:35 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Had half the checkers fot 20a and saw the answer but without looking too carefully at the clue , thought the parsing was most of GARTEr (a tease) covering ROT(rubbish).
    Suppose this would have worked if “mostly” was moved a word forward.
    Enjoyed it and ***/*** from me.
    Thanks to Sam and Mr K

  22. Rabbit Dave
    Posted December 6, 2016 at 4:35 pm | Permalink | Reply

    2*/4*. I really liked this with, as others have commented, a different feel to the cluing today. The surfaces were generally good and there was much to smile about. I did like 1d but thought it might have been better disguised if the setter had used the number 27 instead. 3d was a new word for me but the charade fell into place smoothly and a quick BRB check confirmed the answer.

    Many thanks to Samuel and to Mr Kitty.

  23. Bluebirds
    Posted December 6, 2016 at 4:57 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Why is refreshment for an anagram indicator?

    • Mr Kitty
      Posted December 6, 2016 at 5:20 pm | Permalink | Reply

      Since “refresh” can mean change or update, “refreshment for” can be seen as an instruction to refresh or change the arrangement of the letters in the anagram fodder.

  24. Ora Meringue
    Posted December 6, 2016 at 5:12 pm | Permalink | Reply

    I had quite a fight with this one and had to resort to the electronic aids for the last three…..then still had to look at the hints for 14d….don’t think I have ever seen it before.
    Got myself in an awful tangle with 15a until I checked the spelling of the Dickens character…which made the caver in 3d all wrong…still it all came out in the end.

    Thanks to Samuel and to Mr Kitty.

  25. Orphan Annie
    Posted December 6, 2016 at 5:16 pm | Permalink | Reply

    I give up, three times I have written my beautiful thought and three times it has whizzed off into the ether. Spit

    • Mr Kitty
      Posted December 6, 2016 at 5:34 pm | Permalink | Reply

      I’ve noticed this too – the browser connection to the site seems to time out after a some period of idleness and then CloudFlare wants to do its check again. So I’ve been doing two things:
      1. Refresh the browser before starting a comment.
      2. Copy the text in my comment to the clipboard before hitting the Post Comment button (on a PC, click anywhere in the text, then Ctrl-A followed by Ctrl-C). Then at least it’s available to paste (Ctrl-V) into the next attempt.

  26. Salty Dog
    Posted December 6, 2016 at 5:30 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Just into 2* time (entirely due to my missing the significance of the “heard” in the clue to 15a, and lazily misspelling the Dickens character, which in turn threw 3d out even though the answer was obvious). An enjoyable solve, though, so 4* for satisfaction. Both 4d and 13a made me laugh immoderately. Thanks to Samuel, and to Mr Kitty.

  27. 2Kiwis
    Posted December 6, 2016 at 5:40 pm | Permalink | Reply

    We agree with Kath in that we did find it trickier than normal. While we were solving we did have the feeling that it was by a setter we had met before in Toughies but had never considered Samuel as a possibility. We hope he now becomes a regular in this spot.
    For 29a we always thought that those biscuits were universally known by that name. It was a real surprise to us when were overseas to find that they are known as Jammie Dodgers to most people. We now wonder if this name is peculiar to NZ or is it used in other parts of the world?
    An enjoyable puzzle with a smattering of GK that at least one of us had heard of, even the Anne Bronte novel.
    Thanks Samuel and Mr K.

  28. Cryptor
    Posted December 6, 2016 at 6:15 pm | Permalink | Reply

    ***/*** for me. Answer to 6a couldn’t be anything else, but failed to parse it. Not convinced Brussels is a good synonym for EU. Otherwise a great crossword with lovely clues and misdirections. Thanks Samuel and Mr K.

    • Rabbit Dave
      Posted December 6, 2016 at 6:43 pm | Permalink | Reply

      I’m not convinced that Brussels is a good anything …

      • silvanus
        Posted December 6, 2016 at 7:00 pm | Permalink | Reply

        Accompaniment to Christmas dinner?!

      • Angel
        Posted December 6, 2016 at 7:50 pm | Permalink | Reply

        Hear, hear RD but now our destiny is at the mercy of the Lawlords. 🇪🇺😱

  29. happy days
    Posted December 6, 2016 at 6:34 pm | Permalink | Reply

    I missed the good surfaces of our usual Tuesday setter. Some of these clues were rather meaningless 15a, 20a, 2d and particularly 8d Peacekeepers allow one to flee in ranks with little education. Loved the illustration for 14d, Mr Kitty

  30. Gwizz
    Posted December 6, 2016 at 6:39 pm | Permalink | Reply

    I’ll try again….. a blank page greeted me when I pressed ‘send’ just now.
    It’s always interesting when a new setter comes on the scene. One is always jolted out of the normal mind think. Today’s crossword was very good with some lovely clues including 1a and 1d, but my fave is 11d. Overall 3/3.5*.
    Thanks to Samuel for an excellent puzzle, and to Mr K for an informative review. Lovely clip of Jackson Browne with Mr Lindley; that brought back memories of many (many) years ago when he (David Lindley) was with Terry Reid. He was brilliant then too.

  31. Jonny
    Posted December 6, 2016 at 6:41 pm | Permalink | Reply

    3 down, 23 across and 14 down all stumped me so *** difficulty for me today.

  32. Paso Doble
    Posted December 6, 2016 at 7:12 pm | Permalink | Reply

    We are up and running again after a very busy few weeks during which has built up a huge backlog of puzzles. A great puzzle to come back to – challenging but satisfying. Thanks to Samuel for to Mr K – we loved 29a. ***/****

  33. fran
    Posted December 6, 2016 at 7:12 pm | Permalink | Reply

    I thoroughly enjoyed this ; well done Samuel . Having said that , 6a was very iffy for me , but it couldn’t have been anything else given the checkers . Loved 1d and I am very partial to 11d . MG Mr K

  34. Pete
    Posted December 6, 2016 at 7:36 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Well, I found today’s really difficult !! 2* is not close for difficulty….. enervation ! Speleologist !! I obviously need a new brain …..

    • Gazza
      Posted December 6, 2016 at 7:51 pm | Permalink | Reply

      You’ve shortened your alias since your last comment so this one had to be moderated. Both variants should work from now on.

  35. BusyLizzie
    Posted December 6, 2016 at 7:51 pm | Permalink | Reply

    A new setter then making for a mixed bag today. Got off on the wrong foot with 1a when I was convinced the second word was cat (I.e. from Cheshire), put in Nicholas instead of the surname in 15a and confess to never having read 23a, so all in all I made a tough puzzle even more difficult. Thanks much to Mr Kitty for helping me to the finish line.

  36. LabradorsruleOK
    Posted December 6, 2016 at 8:03 pm | Permalink | Reply

    An uphill battle today & had to plumb the electronic depths for 3d. It was enjoyable (I think) to complete.
    This “outing” has me totally confused but at least now there’ll be conjecture “is this a Samuel?” To add to the Ray T etc. He has produced an entertaining puzzle & MrK entertaining & useful hints that has given rise to a lively blog. Thanks to both.
    Regarding definitions “The Devil’s Dictionary” (Ambrose Bierce) has a good number (e.g. adamant: “to be wrong at the top of one’s voice”).

  37. Posted December 6, 2016 at 8:21 pm | Permalink | Reply

    I can’t really comment on difficulty because by the time I got around to this I’d had many spoilers. As for enjoyment, well I liked it but have to say that this setter’s Toughies are even more fun. For a favourite here I need look no further than 1a. I suppose a cross Cheshire cat would leave everything but the smile.

    Thanks to Samuel and to the hinter. Great Dilbert, thanks for the cube, and when did you take the photo of me you used to illustrate 14d?

    A warm welcome back to those returning to the fold. It looks like BDland may be complete again for Christmas.

  38. Jon_S
    Posted December 6, 2016 at 9:16 pm | Permalink | Reply

    A thoroughly enjoyable debut that I found quite difficult. Last ones in 9ac and 22d, where in both I knew what I had to do, but would the answer come? Would it… Looking forward to more. :-)

  39. RichardW
    Posted December 6, 2016 at 9:32 pm | Permalink | Reply

    3/4 fell in quickly, but then ground to a halt. Eventually teased them all out – I had depression for for 14d for a long time, which didn’t help with the Dickens character (which I have heard of) and the Bronte novel (which I haven’t!).

    My favourite short clue / long answer is E (15)

    • Mr Kitty
      Posted December 7, 2016 at 12:26 am | Permalink | Reply

      Hi, Richard. Can you give us the checkers for that 15-letter answer?

  40. Jaylegs
    Posted December 6, 2016 at 10:06 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Too difficult I am afraid 😳 ***/** Didn’t like (get) 14d & 23a 😕 Liked 1a & 4d Thanks to Mr K and the Setter 😬

  41. hoofityoudonkey
    Posted December 6, 2016 at 10:42 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Too difficult for me, if that’s a **, I don’t want to be around for a ****!!!!
    I have not been doing crosswords long enough to recognise these “turn this upside down”, “without this letter” type clues.
    I appreciate that more experienced solvers will prefer this to the previous Mr.Ron Tuesdays, but I missed it today!!
    Hopefully I will get on the setter’s wavelength eventually.
    Thanks Mr.K for the hints and the setter.

    • Mr Kitty
      Posted December 7, 2016 at 12:30 am | Permalink | Reply

      I’m still getting calibrated with the difficulty stars. It’s pretty clear now that to align with today’s average it should have been at least 3*.

      • hoofityoudonkey
        Posted December 7, 2016 at 7:06 am | Permalink | Reply

        Nothing to worry about Mr. K, they were a great set of hints and that’s all that matters, the stars are subjective so what is ** for you is **** for me. No problem with that. However I think MP’s comment is a good one in that they can be seen as a benchmark and for a beginner like me it is off putting when you make little progress with a **, far more than an expert saying it took him/her 20 minutes, which is banned,
        I found the toughie easier yesterday anyway, so I am off to see if I can make some more progress.

        • Mr Kitty
          Posted December 7, 2016 at 3:36 pm | Permalink | Reply

          What I’ve been doing is knocking about a star off my own personal rating, thinking that many will find it easier than I do. That estimate looked about right early in the day when the fast solvers were posting their assessments, but by evening it certainly appeared to be too low. Next time I’ll try going with no adjustment.

    • Mr Kitty
      Posted December 7, 2016 at 12:30 am | Permalink | Reply

      I’m still getting calibrated with the difficulty stars. It’s pretty clear now that to align with today’s average it should have been at least 3*.

    • Miffypops
      Posted December 7, 2016 at 1:10 am | Permalink | Reply

      If I could rule the world for one second I think the most important law I could pass would be to make star ratings on Big Dave’s blogs illegal. Oh and everybody around the world would have to play nicely together. Oh and nobody in the world would give a hoot about whether or not Bob Dylan gave a thought to an unwanted and unsolicited award even if that award is the highest possible accolade possible.And prevent people from making crap music.

      • Posted December 7, 2016 at 8:37 am | Permalink | Reply

        The star ratings are an integral part of the blog and have been there since the beginning. People are always free to ignore them, but they are here to stay.

  42. Robin Newman
    Posted December 6, 2016 at 11:13 pm | Permalink | Reply

    I found this quite tough-I seem to recall that Samuel is a toughie setter.
    Hints appreciated though.

  43. Tstrummer
    Posted December 7, 2016 at 1:05 am | Permalink | Reply

    Yup, a harder than usual Tuesday. I raced through the first half waiting for a non-existent train at London Bridge before hitting the wall. Resuming on the sofa after Southern Rail finally fulfilled their contractual obligation to get me home was a battle. I emerged bloody but unbowed. Lots to like and no quibbles from me. 3*/4*. Thanks to Samuel and MrK. I enjoyed the Barcelona Jacksone Browne offering from before he stopped dying his hair, if only to see the world’s greatest living guitarist in, albeit subdued, action. I reviewed David Lindley and El Rayo X at Dingwalls in the early 1980s for the Telegraph. My ears are still ringing.

    • shropshirelad
      Posted December 7, 2016 at 8:19 am | Permalink | Reply

      A particular thank you for your comment T. Will you be at the Birthday bash?

  44. BobH
    Posted December 7, 2016 at 10:02 am | Permalink | Reply

    Finished with hints for three. Not the most enjoyable of crosswords for me. Too easy in parts and too contrived and convoluted in others.

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