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.
The Quick Crossword pun: STRAIT+TORQUE=STRAIGHT TALK