DT 28308 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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DT 28308

Daily Telegraph Cryptic No 28308

Hints and tips by Mr Kitty

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BD Rating – Difficulty ** Enjoyment ****

Hello everyone. My first pass through today’s crossword resulted in the bottom half being mostly filled, the top half being almost empty, and me feeling a little worried. But, happily, after a few more iterations through the grid it all came together without too much of a struggle. I’m ranking it high on the enjoyment scale because it contains several clever clues that I liked a lot, particularly 9a, 13a, 18a, 1d, and 17d.

We have no seasonal clues today, but the recent spate of Christmas-themed crosswords did inspire me to research chestnuts. The simplest chestnut is of course just a clue repeated verbatim. On the back page that category includes festive efforts like Christmas present drawer (8) REINDEER and Stocking up time (9,3) CHRISTMAS EVE . It also contains clues which are arguably good enough to warrant periodic reappearances, such as Blue feathers (4) DOWN (six appearances) and Very good article for cake decoration (8) ANGELICA (four appearances). However, most chestnuts are variations on a theme, and so they won’t show up in a simple database query for repeated clues. While I haven’t solved that search problem yet, the following simple estimate of the odds that a clue might just by chance appear to be a repeat suggests that it might be a pointless exercise anyway. The DT crossword has been running for 91 years, producing 91 years x 365 days per year x 29.5 clues per day = about 980,000 clues. Add to that 87 years of the Guardian, 86 years of the Times, and a few more years for the Toughie, Financial Times, and Independent, and it’s clear that over three million cryptic clues have already appeared in the UK daily newspapers. Most of the answers to those clues are presumably drawn from the 30,000 or so words known by an educated adult. Hence, for each familiar answer that we might encounter in a puzzle there already exist, on average, roughly one hundred clues. It won’t, therefore, be uncommon for a setter’s latest creation to have been previously discovered independently, and perhaps seen by a solver who might then innocently label it a chestnut. In my view, these statistics suggest that the inclusion in puzzles of some obscure words is almost a necessity if echoes of previous clues are to be avoided and, in addition, that the creator of a truly brand-new clue deserves considerable respect and appreciation.

Now, on to the hints. The definitions are underlined and the answers will be revealed by clicking on the ANSWER buttons. Please leave a comment telling us how you got on and what you thought.


1a    Visit places of interest, two spots (8)
SIGHTSEE: A charade of two verb synonyms for “spot”.

5a    Evidence of pressure, really, entering island pub (6)
ISOBAR: Place a two-letter synonym for really between the abbreviation for island and a type of pub, to get a contour of constant pressure on a weather map.

9a    British knight entering class jumping mare (5,4)
BLACK BESS: B(ritish) followed by an anagram (jumping) of CLASS containing the abbreviation for a Knight Commander of the British Empire. According to The Genuine History of the Life of Richard Turpin (1739) this mare carried Dick Turpin overnight from London to York. However, as Kitty would say, that account may contain traces of lie.

11a    Article of faith in gospel (5)
THING: Hidden inside the clue.

12a    Excellent piece of advice given by spinner (6)
TIPTOP: A charade of a piece of advice or a hint, and a child’s spinning toy. So many great musicians left us in 2016. This video of the late Prince shows that he was, on top of everything else, a most excellent guitarist.

13a    Half-hearted, hot gospeller originally (8)
LUKEWARM: A charade of the author of a New Testament Gospel and an adjective that could describe the current state of something that was originally hot.

15a    Fore! Huge bent shot across middle of fairway demands this golfing term (3,2,3,5)
RUB OF THE GREEN: An anagram (shot) of FORE HUGE BENT containing (across) the middle letter of faiRway.

18a    Altered attitude that could make son sin? (6,2,5)
CHANGE OF HEART: The answer could be interpreted as cryptic guidance for transforming sOn into sIn.

22a    Miss boxing star in entertainment centre (3,5)
LAS VEGAS: One of our usual short synonyms for girl contains (boxing) the brightest star in the constellation Lyra. The entertainment centre is found in Nevada.

23a    Professional side with no opening for amateur in it, for the time being (3,3)
PRO TEM: The usual abbreviation for professional, followed by a short word for a group of sportsmen minus its A (with no opening for Amateur). The answer is an abbreviation of the Latin phrase whose translation is the underlined definition.

26a    Show letter from Greece, having penned six (5)
EVITA: The seventh letter of the Greek alphabet contains (having penned) the Roman numerals representing six. A production of this show will tour the UK in 2017.

27a    Persuasive speech made by tragic Queen Cleo (9)
ELOQUENCE: An anagram (tragic) of QUEEN CLEO. Kissing the Blarney Stone, which is not for the faint-hearted, supposedly imbues one with this trait.

28a    Draw colour in layers (6)
TIERED: A charade of a sporting draw and a colour often met in crosswordland associated with some form of embarrassment.

29a    See harem abroad? Me too (4,4)
SAME HERE: An anagram (abroad) of SEE HAREM.


1d    Downturn in account of old boy on board, Conservative (3-5)
SOB STORY: This tale of woe is assembled from the usual abbreviation for (steam)ship containing (on board) the usual abbreviation for Old Boy, followed by one of the usual terms for a political conservative.

2d    Grip end of big file with teeth (5)
GRASP: A charade of the final letter (end of) biG and a file having large teeth and typically used to shape wood.

3d    Become popular mimic (4,3)
TAKE OFF: A (barely) cryptic double definition.

4d    Uniform happening to be short (4)
EVEN: A noun synonym for a happening, minus its last letter (to be short).

6d    Defiant remark made by habitual drunkard present (2,5)
SO THERE: A charade of someone stupefied by alcohol and a word meaning present or in this place.

7d    Figure on coins being from these shores? (9)
BRITANNIA: A double definition. Being is a noun here.

8d    System of government, for example, brought in by Muslim ruler after revolution (6)
REGIME: The abbreviation for “for example” is inserted into (brought in) the reversal (after revolution) of a ruler in an Islamic country.

10d    Nurse got boiled fish (8)
STURGEON: An anagram (boiled) of NURSE GOT. This is sixth appearance in 2016 of this fish/politician, promoting it to second-equal on this year’s list of most-used answers.

14d    Article on Greek copycat wine (3,5)
THE GRAPE: A charade of the definite article, the (two-letter) abbreviation for Greek, and a primate copycat.

16d    Defenders lied wickedly showing lapse in morals (9)
BACKSLIDE: Generic football defenders followed by an anagram (wickedly) of LIED.

17d    Prepared for post heading East in mad rush (8)
STAMPEDE: A charade of the state of a piece of mail ready to be posted, and the abbreviation for East found on a compass or map.

19d    To declare the length of time someone’s lived is mean (7)
AVERAGE: Join a verb meaning to declare or to affirm, and a short word meaning “the length of time someone’s lived”.

20d    Said that woman’s outfit is covered in hairs (7)
HIRSUTE: This adjective sounds like (said) a pronoun describing “that woman” and a coordinated set of clothing items.

21d    One seller deals with legal right protected by court (6)
CLIENT: A legal right to take possession of an item if the owner fails to pay, placed inside (protected by) the usual abbreviation for CourT.

24d    Not relaxed in past, perhaps (5)
TENSE: A double definition. The first not cryptic, the second a definition by example.

25d    Item of furniture, to date unfinished (4)
SOFA: A (2,3) phrase meaning “to date”, without its last letter (unfinished).

Thanks to today’s setter for a most enjoyable crossword. And thanks to everyone who has read or commented on my blogging efforts over the past two months. See you all in 2017.


71 comments on “DT 28308

  1. The alcohol must have loosened a few brain cells as I managed to skate through this in just about record time. I shall now prove the old maxim that pride comes before a fall by attempting the Toughie.
    Lots of enjoyable clues, favourite was 9a, last in was 21d which was nicely disguised.
    Thanks to Mr Kitty for the usual, superb set of hints, full of wit and facts about clue history.
    Thanks also to Mr.Ron too, looking forward to my weekly ‘comeuppance’ to be provided by Jay tomorrow.
    PS, my first post disappeared into the ether, so lucky I had already typed it out in notepad++

    1. I just love reading posts like this. A novice from a months ago is about to attempt the toughie. Our work is not in vain.

      1. Not indeed!!! Thanks to BD and you (collective) guys, I have progressed from ‘L’ plates to ‘just passed’

  2. 2*/2.5*. In similar vein to Mr Kitty, on my first pass I had almost nothing entered in the top half and a complete bottom half, but the top half came together second time around. I thought this was a bit of a curate’s egg, mostly good but with a few clunky clues such as 15a & 1d.

    I’m not sure that 13a works. I took “originally” to mean putting the “gospeller” before “hot” but, if applied to “hot” too (which It needs to be for the meaning required), it would be doing double duty.

    The brilliant 18a was my favourite.

    Many thanks to Mr Ron & Mr Kitty.

    P.S. One could form an outstanding group from those who have died in 2016. Perhaps Simon Cowell might like to consider setting up “Heaven’s Got Talent”.

    1. Hi RD. I didn’t have the same issue with 13a. I read it as simply ‘hot’ with the gospeller inserted originally. I’m not sure I see why ‘originally’ needs to refer to ‘hot’ as well.

      1. Simply because warm is not as hot as hot :wacko:
        I think this is also what Mr K is implying in his review as he has used “originally” to qualify “hot” but he hasn’t mentioned the need to put the gospeller first.

        1. I like your ‘warm is not as hot as hot’ – almost worthy of Donald Rumsfeld and his ‘known unknowns’. And, in terms of how I would normally use the words, I do agree with you. But both words are subjective: at some point, warm becomes hot and warm to me may be hot to you – especially in the context of ambient temperature like a warm/hot day.

          I know I’m sticking my neck out – but I’m not sure I agree with Mr Kitty’s parsing! I don’t see why originally has to apply to ‘hot’ at all. If we can accept hot and warm as (slightly iffy) synonyms, then originally only has to apply to the gospeller and the clue works fine.

          Apologies for the pedantry – but it’s one of the things I do enjoy about this site.

          1. Hi Mark, no need to apologize – these discussions are how we, or at least I, learn the rules of crosswordland.

            I was amused by “warm” = “hot originally”, but your parsing does indeed make more sense. And “warm” is the first entry under “hot” in the Chambers Thesaurus.

            But perhaps the only way to know for sure what the setter had in mind is for he or she to drop in and tell us (hint, hint :) )

          2. I’ve said it before (and I may very well need to say it again!) but there is never any need to apologise for pedantry. I’m all for it!

            I agree with you that “originally” has to be applied to the gospeller, but the pedant in me (with tongue in cheek) would have written the clue as “Half-hearted, originally hot gospeller originally”!

          3. 13a: Isn’t the word play just another way of saying that the gospeller (LUKE) was originally hot (WARM)?

            1. That was how I saw it when I wrote the hint. But I believe that the more direct parse suggested by Mark is what the setter had in mind.

              In addition, yesterday on the Tuesday toughie blog LetterboxRoy asked its setter Samuel what he thought of 13a. Samuel’s interpretation was the same as Mark’s, and he should know.

              1. Yes, absolutely – you can parse it that way and it’s probably marginally better. I think this is one of those clues that can genuinely be parsed two different ways, and they both work OK.

        2. Yes, RD, that’s what I had in mind re originally. The ordering in the hint was intended to show that the gospeller is the first element in the charade, although that’s not what the clue suggested on a first read. It does feel like a rule may have been bent there to create a smoother surface. I’ve just obtained the Chambers Crossword Manual, and once I have absorbed Mr Manley’s writings I should be in a better position to comment on such things. But for today, since I was able to get the answer and the parse made me smile I let that pass and just added 13a to the list of clues which I regard with special preference. :)

          1. 13a: I reckon the clue could be improved just by swapping the third and fourth words round as: Half-hearted gospeller, hot originally (8).

    2. P.S. With regard to your P.S., I completely agree with the sentiment but wouldn’t want to let Simon Cowell within a million miles of any of them!

      1. I wouldn’t mind seeing Prince being interviewed by Ant and Dec………..😂

        I haven’t see this clip – for years it was so hard to find him on YouTube at all (his choice, his right). It was uncomfortable watching Tom Petty trying to cut his solo to 8 bars and then trying again – as if!!

  3. I, too, would rate this one 2*/4* as a goodly selection of the clues, most notably 18 across, were a nice balance of clever and entertaining. This was one of those puzzles where the answers were obvious, but some of the parsing extended the time spent on completion.

    Many thanks to MK for an entertaining review, and Mr Ron for a fun tussle.

  4. Curate’s egg for me too. NE corner pushed my time up but still quick for me.
    15a probably quite unfair for the non-golfer but I hope all golfing bloggers get more than their fair share next time you put club to ball.
    18a my COTD.
    Thanks to setter & Mr Kitty for hints and statistical trivia. Who manages to solve the 0.5 clue in the 29.5? Presumably it is the person with 1.7 legs

  5. Pretty good puzzle just right for the Christmas wind down back to normality.
    Not much to cause too many problems, quite enjoyable so **/*** for me.
    Thanks to Mr Kittiy and setter.

  6. No real problems except in NW corner where I needed Mr. Kitty to get me out of a hole with 1d and 9a. Entertaining enough for attacking during the recovery period between Christmas and Hogmanay. Thanks Messrs. Ron and Kitty. ***/***.

    1. Yes me – not sure what it has to do with the pun at the top though- usually if there is a message at the bottom, it links to the one at the top

    2. Maybe it’s just a coincidence, though one name does spring to mind when I put them all together.

    3. Now I do – thanks ! I wonder if it is a coincidence though ?
      I think the clue numbers are 19 and 20 across.

  7. The Telegraph setters are clearly beginning the wind up to next Christmas’s puzzles with some nice and gentle warm-ups as today’s offering was on a par with the other two we’ve enjoyed since the big day.

    Mr K has ruminated on chestnuts in the review: 19d is certainly one of those and seems to appear quite regularly. 5a is another I recall seeing quite often and 10d is yet another – which is strange considering it’s a fish encountered reasonably rarely outside crosswords – unless you’re in Scottish politics.

    1d is good and I liked 17d which had me searching for a non-existent anagram. I agree with all those who’ve rated 18a as a contender but will plump for 13a as my favourite this morning.

    Thanks to setter and Mr Kitty

  8. I thought 18a was clever, which I solved before understanding the construction. There were 2 or 3 others like that today, so thanks to Mr K for the explanations and to Mr R for the puzzle,

    What does that golfing term mean? Is it something you actually DO? Ay, there’s the rub……. What?

    1. A golfing expression used in golf and now in ordinary life, meaning a piece of good or ill fortune which is outside the competence of the player or person. By way of example, A hits a shot to the green which glances off a stone into the woods; B hits the same stone at a different angle and his ball runs on to the green and into the hole. Since neither was aiming at, or aware of, the stone, the resulting disparity of fortune is the 15a

      This information came from Brewer’s Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, a useful tome I’ve consulted for many years when I need to know stuff – far better than an investigoogle for learning about the whys and wherefores of interesting things

      1. Ah, yes, many thanks CS. I knew about the everyday meaning, but, despite playing bowls for a while, I’d never heard it, unlike my OH, who says it is a flaw in the turf or, as you say, a tiny pebble, which may divert the wood (or golfball) from its planned trajectory………..

        ………that has happened to me a lot – now I can walk away, shrugging my shoulders and blame it on the rub. Marvellous!

        1. It is just the golfing / general sporting expression for “luck”. The term is also used in bowls a bowl that is wide & gets deflected (“wicks”) off another bowl & finishes shot is an example.
          The polite loser then says “You had the rub of the green today” the less gracious ” You were a lucky b*****d today”

  9. We did this anti-clockwise in quadrants starting with NW, struggled with SW, which is a different reaction to several earlier contributors. Our SE struggle moves this into 3* territory for us, resulting in 3*/3*.

    Favourite clue 18a.

    Thanks to Mr Kitty (respect for all that research) and to the setter.

  10. The Blarney Stone might give you this (27a) –
    but at the same time your pockets are emptied
    on to the people waiting on the ground below……………

    1. I’ve a picture of my daughter doing this when she was about 14.

      Funnily enough, neither of her parents did it.

      She’s now an Englsh teacher……….

  11. Something of a curate’s egg for me too, I’ll add 23a to the list of clunky surfaces previously mentioned.

    18a wins my favourite vote for its cleverness. I’m never averse to a few chestnuts at this time of the year, even if they’re in crosswords :-)

    Thanks to today’s setter and to Mr. Kitty, always a mine of interesting information.

  12. Thanks to today’s setter for giving us a seasonal-free crossword!

    18a – my favourite.

    Thanks also to Mr Kitty for the review – especially for the Prince clip from the Concert for George at the Royal Albert Hall in 2002.

    The finale with Joe Brown playing the ukulele always makes me weep!

    1. Completely agree about the Concert for George, and I shall use excerpts from that performance when the opportunity arises.

      Today’s clip is actually the finale of the 2004 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony. Both George Harrison and Prince were inducted that year.

  13. Very enjoyable puzzle, not overly difficult, just right.
    Never heard of 15a but worked it out and googled it. Thanks to CS for her example, makes it clearer than google.
    I loved 9a, as a four-legged friend, but my fave was 18a for its cleverness.
    Thanks to setter, and to Mr. Kitty for his entertainment.

  14. Enjoyable Tuesday fare. I’m quite grateful for the lack of edibles (notwithstanding the chestnuts Mr K kindly roasted for us) since I’m full of stuffing, having already indulged over on the other side … (I can’t really say more because this is the wrong thread, but let’s just say all my pictures today share one thing in common.)

    Thanks to the setter and hinter.

          1. Chilli pistachios work a treat on the tame squirrels of Hyde Park … but I have always had mercy and let them go. I’m a big softie of a kitty really.

  15. Definitely had to do some serious thinking to get some of these and I didn’t make life any easier by getting carried away with the 20d homophone and writing in the wrong ending – that made 29a much more difficult than it should have been!
    Despite living with a pro golfer for 14 years I’d never heard of the 15a phrase – thank goodness it was mainly an anagram.
    26a has certainly proved to be a very useful show for our setters but I think more usually in its reverse form?

    Plenty of ticks as the solve progressed but I’ll settle for a top three of 9,13&18a.

    Many thanks to Mr. Ron for a really good puzzle and to Mr. K for the review and the latest instalment of ‘fascinating facts’ – I do enjoy reading those.

  16. Very enjoyable and again not too taxing as my head is a bit fuzzy from last nights celebrations – no more alcohol this week until next Saturday – oh hold on I’m playing golf tomorrow so that resolution won’t last long!

    Watching Harlequins v Gloucester – very good game if lacking a bit of excitement!

  17. Yes, I too found it hard going until I realized the bottom of the grid was capitulating nicely (?); the top half then followed suit. 18a was a clever clue but my favourite was 13a. 2/3* overall.
    Thanks to the setter, and to Mr K for his review and for the fascinating research.

  18. All good fun bar a few debatable clues. Personally, I wouldn’t call 22a an ‘entertainment’ centre; a pit of iniquity, maybe.
    If I think long enough about almost any clue, I can make it not make sense! :wacko:
    Thanks to all as ever.

    PS BD – Sorry if correcting my email address causes a headache, it’s correct now.

  19. Nice crossword good clues and apart from a couple in SW corner an easy solve 😄 Favourite 20d, with 28a in silver position */*** 😍 Thanks to Mr K & Mr Ron 😉

  20. We also started off with a bit of a struggle in the NW but when we moved on and then came back to that corner a bit later on it all fell nicely into place. Plenty to keep us smiling throughout the solve.
    Thanks Mr Ron and Mr K.

    1. I know at least one of you 2Ks play golf & the golfing clue allows me to (tenuously) ask:
      Did you play before they introduced the Slope system. If so do you think it is a better system?

      1. I had to look on Google to find out what the Slope system was. I started playing after I turned 60 and I only play in a very non-competitive way with mid-week geriatric players and such finer points are of little concern to me. If I have a good day I might come home with two tins of Baked Beans. That’s my level of golf. I did know the phrase in the crossword from when I used to play bowls.

        1. In other words you enjoy playing the game for what is – great way to get out & meet people & a good excuse for a pint & a pie.
          Always wanted to play bowls in NZ I was fascinated by the speed of the greens playing on the cotula weed.
          I was most comfortable with the draw & drive shots so my skip who played Commonwealth games in Christchurch said my game very much would have suited your greens. Sadly I never got to find out.

          1. I play golf regularly, at least once a week, but had never heard of the Slope Rating and looked it up on Google – I submit my cards to the Club Secretary and let them sort out my Handicap like everybody else. You don’t want to get involved in how they work it out – that’s what computers are for!

            My Handicap is currently 12.6 and gradually creeping up – must play more often!

            1. Not quite everybody else M: of course the computer only does what it is told & somebody has to tell it (& the Club Handicap Cttee.).

      2. In case you’re still around, Labsrok – picked up on your Christmas Eve comment about Penderyn. I’m not a whisky drinker but can confirm that their gin is wonderful. Daughter and son-in-law did took a trip round the distillery a year or so ago and came back singing the praises of same. So much so that I was detailed to take bottles of said gin (Brecon) for drinks before the meal when they got married earlier this year!

        1. Thanks Jane.
          Not quite not around anymore!
          Penderyn distillery produces a very very passable malt, and as you say, an excellent gin.
          It hasn’t been open 20 years but is one of the Welsh “start up” industries to be a commercial success.
          Interesting your post re golf Pro:club Pro or Tour Pro?

          1. Just a club pro – still seemed to do a lot of ‘touring’ though – golf club after golf club after golf club………….!

            1. It’s a tough life but someone has to do it.
              Reminds me of the story where a club member went with his Pro to the Open. They were watching Tom Watson who hit a superb 3 iron to 6′ from 200 yards. The Pro said “Wish I could hit a 3 iron like that. To which the spectator next to the member said “Don’t worry mate I’ll bet he’s not very good at your job either”

  21. An enjoyable Tuesday puzzle, with clever clues. Never heard of 15a but worked it out from the anagram. 18a was also probably favorite. Couldn’t reconcile definitions with answers in 14d and 16d. Would never use either term like that. But good fun today nevertheless. Thanks Mr. Kitty with help on those 2 hold outs.

  22. The bottom half fell into place for me first too, but after that it was pretty plain sailing, oddly enough. An enjoyable puzzle.

  23. Must say we preferred your version of the clue for 17D. We got the same answer but couldn’t see why with our version. Were the paper and interweb at odds again? Otherwise, thoroughly enjoyable.

        1. Thanks, RD. So the same construction as the online version, although not quite as clever.

          Hilary, the parsing of that version would be “A verb meaning trampled, followed by the first letter of (top of in a down clue) of Escapees.”

  24. A good fun crossword spoilt by the (paper) clue for 17d – I won’t repeat my -ee rant for the 94th time, but it made me cross and I have therefore deducted two entire stars from the enjoyment quotient. Otherwise eminently doable, but as others have noted, the parsing often took longer than the the solving, viz 18a, 9a, 8d. Thanks to Mr Kitty for another informative and entertaining blog and to the setter, who has time to go and sort his -ers from his -ees before his/her next challenge. 2*/2*
    BTW: I reviewed Prince for the DT in the 90s. A bit like Bowie, he was not really my thing, but live was breathtaking. He did a two and a half hour set. I went to the after party, where he took to the stage again and played for another 90 minutes, just for fun.

    1. Thanks, Ts.

      I never saw Prince play live (I much prefer small venues to arenas), but what you describe in your anecdote is pretty much what I’d expect.

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