DT 28338 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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DT 28338

Daily Telegraph Cryptic No 28338

Hints and tips by Mr Kitty

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BD Rating – Difficulty *** Enjoyment ****

Hello everyone. Today I needed a dash of electronic help to get the grid filled and the hints written before the blog submission deadline. I’m not sure if that’s because my head is still fuzzy from flying all over the world recently, or if it’s an indication that this is a tougher puzzle than we’ve had on recent Tuesdays. I greatly enjoyed the solve and unscrambling some clever and novel clue constructions. I’m ranking it above average for enjoyment.

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 how you got on and what you thought.


1a    Decided what hairdresser might have done (3,3,5)
CUT AND DRIED: The past tense of a standard hairdressing procedure provides a cryptic definition of an adjectival phrase meaning decided.

9a    Every second, a flier’s coming in behind schedule (9)
ALTERNATE: The A from the clue, followed by Jane’s favourite seabird placed inside (coming in) a word meaning “behind schedule”.

10a    This person’s returned twice to tour a city (5)
MIAMI: Take two copies of the contracted form of how the setter would say “this person is”. Reverse them (returned) and place one on each side of the A from the clue (toured a).

11a    Test monitor (6)
SCREEN: A double definition. At first I wanted to put SURVEY in here because it seemed to fit both definitions, but annoyingly the puzzle site thought otherwise.

12a    Go with swimmer to find toll road (8)
TURNPIKE: A charade of a go in a board game and a predatory fish. While the answer is now usually associated with the US, the BRB also lists it as a historical UK term. Here’s one in 19th century London.

13a    Search agent, overlooking info for battle (6)
COMBAT: Link together a verb synonym of “search thoroughly”, and AgenT from the clue minus some information.

15a    Mean to get price for trendy plan (8)
STRATEGY: Start with a synonym of mean or tight-fisted. Inside it replace (to get ….. for) crosswordland’s usual word for trendy with a synonym of price.

18a    Occupant let team inside (8)
RESIDENT: A word meaning let (e.g a flat) contains a sports team.

19a    Jack, stableworker, runs away to jog (6)
JOSTLE: Jog here means shake. The answer is found from the playing card abbreviation for J(ack) followed by a stableworker minus its R (runs away). I hadn’t heard of this stableworker and so I needed to verify him afterwards in the BRB.

21a    Sneak out of place after 60 per cent of force deserted (8)
FORSAKEN: Sixty percent, or 3/5, of FORce followed by an anagram (out of place) of SNEAK.

23a    One espousing leather trousers? (6)
SINGLE: The second and third words of the clue hide (trouser) the answer. Best lurker indicator ever.

26a    Ace party? Shame! (5)
ABASH: A timely clue. I’ve heard that the birthday do on Saturday was certainly not a C-party and nor was it a B-celebration. No, it was most definitely an …….. (or, for those wanting a serious hint, the answer is a charade of the playing card abbreviation for A(ce) and a synonym for party).

27a    Sit and fete DI upset, as given in evidence (9)
TESTIFIED: An anagram (upset) of SIT FETE DI.

28a    Revolutionary, 20, adopting line ‘I’m in charge of support!’ (11)
CHEERLEADER: Crosswordland’s favourite revolutionary, followed by the answer to 20d containing the abbreviation for L(ine) (adopting line).



1d    First form going on about great work (7)
CLASSIC: A (5,1) phrase that could mean “first form” in a school followed by (going on, in a down clue) the single letter abbreviation for about. So very many possibilities for music to accompany this clue. This great work feels appropriate:

2d    Egyptian king familiarly seen with gold coach (5)
TUTOR: A charade of the short nickname for the well-known Egyptian boy king, and the heraldry abbreviation for gold.

3d    Mobile insured to include mother and nanny (9)
NURSEMAID: An anagram (mobile) of INSURED containing (to include) a two-letter mother.

4d    Trade board (4)
DEAL: Double definition. The board is made of wood.

5d    Like an actor showing unfairness? (8)
INEQUITY: Split (2,6) the answer describes a member of the American actors’ union.

6d    Protest over new diabolical spirit (5)
DEMON: A charade of a protest and the abbreviation for N(ew).

7d    Navy tie modelled to present innocence (7)
NAIVETY: An anagram (modelled) of NAVY TIE.

8d    Renewed fame isn’t obvious (8)
MANIFEST: An anagram (renewed) of FAME ISN’T.

14d    Abuse film superstar going topless (8)
MISTREAT: Join a four-letter film or thin layer (of water, perhaps), and a superstar minus its first letter (topless).

16d    Native sailor beginning to head east (9)
ABORIGINE: One of our usual sailors and a synonym of beginning joined together, and then placed on top of (to head, in a down clue) E(ast).

17d    Disturb international organisation supported by Yorkshire Dales town (8)
UNSETTLE: The usual two-letter international organisation followed by (supported by, in a down clue) a small market town in North Yorkshire.  [The town is probably best known for the its railway line to Carlisle.  Michael Portillo regards helping to keep this line open as the highlight of his time as an MP.  BD]

18d    Burden umpire with bad weather (7)
REFRAIN: This burden is not heavy. Rather, it’s a part of a song repeated at the end of every stanza. We find it by following an umpire like hoofit with some wet weather.

20d    Book substitute before a Liverpool fan’s turned up? (1-6)
E-READER: Concatenate a poetic word for before, the A from the clue, and the reversal (turned up, in a down clue) of the informal name for a supporter of Liverpool Football Club (named for the team colours).

22d    Unplanned commercial wine broadcast (2,3)
AD HOC: Our usual two-letter commercial and a word that sounds like (broadcast) a German white wine.

24d    Smile and start to detest the nine-to-five? (5)
GRIND: Link together a broad smile and the first letter (start to) of Detest.

25d    American exposed hero as addict (4)
USER: The usual two-letter American followed by hERo without its outer letters (exposed).

Thanks to today’s mystery setter for an enjoyable solve. A long list of likes today, including 1a, 13a, 15a, 23a, 28a, 1d, 16d, and 20d. My favourite is 9a for the very smooth surface and the misdirecting definition. Which clues did you like best?


96 comments on “DT 28338

  1. Quite tricky I thought, but i did manage to finish without any help. I needed Mr Kitty’s hints to understand the answers for 14d and 23a. Not sure about 18d, burden = refrain?. Favourites were 1a, 15a and 5d. 3.5*/3* Many thanks to the setter and especially to Mr Kitty for his explanations.

    1. With regard to burden, your dictionary (which doesn’t necessarily have to be the BRB) will be your friend.

  2. 3*/4*. With a mixed bag of difficulties this proved to be a very enjoyable and challenging puzzle today with splendidly brief cluing and smooth surfaces throughout.

    I bunged in 14d based on the definition and the checkers but it took me a long while to parse. I always forget the 18d meaning of burden, and today was no exception necessitating a dip into my BRB.

    With lots to like here choosing a favourite is quite tricky. I’ll settle for 14d followed closely by 5d.

    Many thanks to Mr R & Mr K.

  3. Harder in places than recent Tuesday offerings with a couple of bung-ins for me (14d which I couldn’t parse last night) and 23a (which I didn’t see – great lurker – thanks Mr K). re 9a -“every second” or “every second one”? Enjoyable -approaching ***/***. Favourite might be 13a. Thanks to setter

  4. Liked this, really had to think, but some good ‘penny dropping ‘ moments. Needed the hint to fully understand 14d, so ta to Mr K.

  5. Many thanks Mr Kitty, especially for the parsing of 15a which I had bunged in, the Johnny Cash clip and the nice picture of the kindle.

    I liked 1a & 23a, as well as the 20d/28a combination.

    Many thanks setter

    1. Yes, that’s a lovely looking kindle, I thought so too :smile:
      Good to meet you Dutch. Now I can picture you saying that!

  6. Thanks to Mr Ron and to Mr Kitty (especially for informing me that I had 11a wrong – ‘survey’ seemed to work). I liked 9a and 1d but my favourite is the well-disguised lurker at 23a.

    1. When Mr Kitty suggested survey in the hints, I thought hm, it was a bit same-sidish hence the true answer was preferable – however, had I first stumbled on survey, I would have had no way of knowing that.

  7. More tricky than recent offerings. I managed it at a second sitting. Took a while to tumble ‘every second’ wasn’t to do with time. 1d gave me trouble until the penny dropped. Enjoyable puzzle. 9a, 14d , 1d and 25a – a well-concealed lurker. 3*/4*

  8. A lot to like in todays puzzle and definitely trickier than what we would sometime expect on a Tuesday. My only moan would be 11a – that’s the type of clue where the definition isn’t ‘nailed on’ and therefore results in people having to rely on using the online puzzle to get the correct answer. I don’t think that that is fair to the solver.

    Anyway, moan over – I enjoyed the rest of it and like Gazza I will elect 23a as my favourite COTD.

    Thanks to our Tuesday Mr Ron for the puzzle and to Mr K for his review (and putting me straight on 11a).

    1. Hiya SL – very pleased to have met you on Saturday, a good chat.
      Anyway, pleasantries aside, what’s the problem with 11a? One’s a verb, one’s a noun.

      1. The problem is that there are two words (SURVEY and the answer under the click here! above) that are consistent with the checkers and with the two definitions in the clue. The only way to know which of the two is “correct” is trial and error submission on the DT puzzle site. As SL says, that’s unfair to the solver.

        1. Fair enough, survey is plausible and I get the point of SL’s not ‘nailed on’. Only the setter knows which word they intended. For me though, monitor = ****** was first thought ‘cos I still use one. Figured that was the cryptic twist. :unsure:

          1. Now that the setter has posted below we know that ****** was indeed what they had in mind. :)

            If only last week’s setter had dropped in to explain the thinking behind greyest. Then all would be well on the Tuesday blog.

  9. Found this one to be something of a curate’s egg having flashes of brilliance in the likes of the 23a lurker but then the rather weak 11a and a couple of iffy surfaces – particularly 27a.
    The definition of burden was new to me – hard to see what the correlation is between that and the more familiar meaning.
    Top of my pile were 1a & 5d. 26a gets a mention for the reminder of the ‘ace party’ last Saturday!

    Thanks to Mr. Ron and to our roving reporter – not my favourite Johnny Cash number but the man himself is without doubt a 1d.

    1. Hi Jane – good to meet you on Saturday, thanks for being so welcoming.

      Agree 27a is a bit weak.

      1. Nice to meet you as well – and Mrs. LbRoy – knew you’d enjoy it!
        Hope to see you again next year.

  10. On the wavelength today and so a **/**** for me . Very logical cluing ,sharp and snappy reminded me of Bilko !
    Liked 2D, remember going to the original exhibition in London in the early 1970’s-mask and all at this one .
    Liked the surface of 19A and 9A.
    Thanks Mr Kitty for the excellent pics.

  11. Not too taxing for a Tuesday but I did put in “survey” for 11a ? What exactly is wrong with survey ??. Monitor could easily be stretched to include this , I’ve seen much more stretching than this over the year grrrr . Still a very enjoyable solve , even if on the easy side **/**** 1a and 24d my picks today .

  12. To start with I felt there was no way I was going to complete this but then top RH corner began to give and gradually the rest fell enjoyably into place. Even after having lived near Newmarket for years the stableworker in 19a was new to me and I also needed help in parsing 15a and 14d. 1d song may be a ‘classic’ but I’m afraid I have never heard of it! Altogether a very pleasant exercise for which I thank Messrs. Ron and Kitty.

  13. I struggled with this one the top half went I quite easily, then it was out with the coffee and thesaurus.
    It did beat me though electronic help needed for 19a. Although a struggle I did enjoy it therefore ****/**** for me.
    I hope all enjoyed the birthday bash, I will make it one day.
    Thanks to Mr Kitty and Mr Ron

  14. A very enjoyable puzzle, I thought.
    I was yet another one who ‘surveyed’ 11a and didn’t know the less common meaning of the 18d burden.
    I misinterpreted the 9a ‘every second’ and thought it meant all the time so that one was my last answer.
    Not sure I’ve heard of the 17d Yorkshire town so good luck to our commenters from anywhere other than the UK.
    I liked 15 and 19a and 3 and 16d. My favourite was the 23a very well hidden lurker – so well hidden that, even though the answer had to be what it was, it took me ages to see why.
    With thanks to Mr Ron and to Mr Kitty.
    Just wondering if I feel brave enough to try the Giovanni Toughie . . . :unsure:

    1. You’ll get on very well with the Giovanni Toughie (and that’s all I’m going to say here ;) )

  15. Thanks also for the Johnny Cash clip which I have just played following other comments. I don’t know how I’ve managed it, but I’ve never seen it before.

  16. Found this difficult but got them all in the end.
    14d took a while even after we got the answer!
    Also 23a lurker wasn’t helped by me misspelling 16d. Onwards and upwards.

  17. Lots to like here. 15a was more like a Toughie than a back-pager clue. 5d brought a smile and, yes, great hidden word in 23a. Favourite, though, was 13a. 2.5*/4* overall.

    In fact, this took us a little longer than the Toughie which we did first.

    Thanks to Mr Kitty and the setter.

  18. Certainly a tricky one today but I got there in the end. I needed the hints to help with the parsing of some of my answers. I missed the lurker in 23a completely. Thanks to the setter and to Mr Kitty for the hints and the Johnny Cash video.

    1. It was nice to finally get to meet you on Saturday, Bifield.
      Take good care of yourself and hope to see you again at next year’s ‘bash’.

  19. Mr Kitty thank you very much for the review. After a busy morning, my husband decided to take me out for lunch. I’ve just printed the puzzle off, and am alarmed at what I can’t do. I managed two of the three words for 1a, and looking at the picture for 15a, the answer can’t possibly be ‘doughnut’. I have abandoned the ironing for the afternoon in favour of the crossword, but I’m not very hopeful of finishing. Thank you setter, I’m not sure if this is a puzzle better attempted with red wine or not.

              1. I agree with “All things in moderation”, but I can’t get “all things” and don’t want to, either.
                Is a slight excess in one thing equal to lack of others? Reminds me of moderation*

                * May contain a lie. :smile:

    1. I abandoned the crossword in favour of the ironing. Both are now finished, and neither one was as challenging as first thought. A case of the red wine wearing off. A glass of the red wine wearing off ! Thanks to all. Favourite was 26a. I am still laughing at 1a. I have my hair ‘cut and blow dried’…..but it didn’t fit. I knew it had to be ‘cut and…….something?’ I definitely put that down to the red wine. Must find out the make, and avoid. Husband is still doing dry January, so only had a glass of house wine.

  20. Hard to look beyond 5d for my clue of the day in this quirky, quite difficult puzzle. 15a was the most difficult to parse, and 13a was my final entry. After yesterday’s cakewalk, this was a more severe test of our solving skills, but all the more enjoyable as a result. 3*/4* overall, with many thanks to the Tuesday Mr Ron and Mr K.

  21. Quite tricky for a Tuesday ****/*** but when you look back you wonder why 🤔 Thanks to Mr K for his amusing blog and to Mr X for a morning of 13a without much of a 15a 😳 Favourite 5d with 1a a close second 😜

  22. I wuz taken! I started out solving the first three on first read and thought it was going to be easy peasy, then came to a screeching halt. I did finish in the end, but I did need the hints to know the “why” of 15a and 14d; pretty obscure, but I knew they had to be correct.
    Much to enjoy here, I find it hard to choose a fave but I think 1a is it, closely followed by 10a (guess why) and 19a.
    Thanks to setter, and to Mr. Kitty for helping me to understand a couple.

  23. That was very enjoyable. 19a was my last one in as I mistook 20 down for I-reader rather than E-reader.
    5d was my favourite.
    Thanks to Mr Kitty and the setter.

  24. Splendid puzzle! Really liked 1,9&23a. Got 15a but couldnt parse it without help. Thanks to messrs R and K. Our sixth artic outflow of the winter is underway. What happened to the Vancouver riviera 😀

  25. I am tryin to write a clue for Tilsit and Prolicix advised something about surface, a phrase which I have seen here frequently. Can somebody please explain in very simple language so that I can understand it what is meant by surface when applied to clues.

    1. What it really means is does it make a decent sentence rather than just a load of gobbledygook or a row of words bunged together to make a clue.
      I don’t quite know why I’m answering you – I should have left it to the clever ones who actually set crosswords which is something I’ve never even tried to do.

    2. Hi OA,

      In simple terms, the term means how the clue reads to the solver. The best surface readings (surfaces for short) are those that read naturally and unforced and would not be out of place in a sentence or paragraph from a book, say, quite apart from a cryptic puzzle, but will contain some subtle or deceptive wordplay. If you look at a typical Monday puzzle by Rufus, he is widely considered to be one of the best exponents of a smooth surface. I hope this helps and good luck with your clue writing!

    3. I have several candidates for my word so I asked Mr P.

      “I would avoid the most fiendish – clues that try too hard to be fiendish are often the worst. I would send Tilsit the two or three with the smoothest surfaces (they often best disguise the definition and wordplay) and the funniest and let Tilsit decide which is the best fit for the crossword overall.”

      Hope that helps – smooth seems to be the goal, with a clever or funny twist or misdirection. I’m trying to avoid an anagram and it isn’t very easy!

    4. Orphan Annie

      Someone once said that the best crossword clues don’t look like crossword clues.

      Good Luck!

      Hope you have been given a nice word!

  26. Jane and I are of one mind with this one, she has expressed in her first line almost exactly what I was going to say! The definition of “burden” in 18d was new to me too.

    My three ticks went to 1a, 9a and 23a, replicating Vancouverbc. 23a will please Snape if he is around, as it contains one of his favourite lurker devices.

    Thanks to today’s setter and that peripatetic tomcat, Mr. K.

  27. I was going to say that I thought this was a bit of a curate’s egg, but on reflection I’m not so sure! 11a was no problem but I had forgotten the other meaning of ‘burden’ and parsing 14d caused me a headache for some reason, even though the answer was obvious from the checking letters. 13a was my favourite. 3/4* overall.
    Thanks to the mysteron for making me think a bit more than usual, and to Mr Kitty for his efforts I now need a drink….

  28. We of course had never heard of the town in 17d but it turns out our guess was correct anyway. Luckily ‘survey’ never occurred to us as a possibility for 11a so we were saved from that error. An enjoyable solve that flowed steadily for us.
    Thanks Mr Ron and Mr Kitty.

  29. Thanks to messers Ron and Kitty. A very enjoyable puzzle, a lot more to it than most recent Tuesday offerings. Needed the hints to parse 15a, and had to read it four times before the penny dropped. Also needed the hints to parse 14d, presumably it was a cinema great? Had to look up 24a, would never have got that. I liked the linked 28a&20d, and 5d, but my favourite was 19a. Was 4*/4* for me.

    1. Since “film” in 14d clues the first part of the answer and “superstar” the second part, I think the clue still works if the superstar excels in any field. They could be a musical superstar or a sporting superstar or indeed a cinema superstar.

  30. As usual had several goes (I’m still a wage slave so limited time and not an expert so can’t whizz through in 15 mins) but I got there in the end and tbh really enjoyed the clues – which is not always the case – especially when there are cricket clues.

    Today gets a 3* for difficulty (harder than recent) but 4* for enjoyment

  31. Enjoyed this puzzle but needed some electronic help.
    Needed Mr Kitty’s help for a lot of the parsing too, so thanks to him and to the setter.

    So far doing better this week than last, but then that would not be difficult.

  32. Really loved this crossword. A head-scratcher for sure but got there with 9a being adorned with laurels. Is it me or has the bar been raised in recent weeks/months? I notice the cheerleader in the foreground is not smiling much. Been off looking at greenhouses today with the missus. Can’t agree on the colour sagey-grey or off-white? can anyone help?

    1. Sagey-green gets my vote. Should stay looking good for longer and blend better with the garden.

    2. Sagey gets my vote. But if you really wanted white, you could always paint it sagey later if you made a mistake. A bit more difficult the other way round. You’d need lots of coats of paint.

    3. If grey is whitest, then off-white must be greyest. The whiter, therefore, the less it requires cleaning. Go for green.
      Where’s Miffypops when you need him?

  33. Thanks to the 2 Misters, aka Ron and Kitty. It was quite tough and some pondering and head scratching were required but Paso did this on his own as Doble is too busy with her frequent requests for radio and television interviews concerning her new found celebrity. ***/**** for me. Very tricky and enjoyable.

    1. Hi PD – lovely to meet you both, sorry we had to be gone so soon. You both looked so happy together, well done!

  34. I’m going to swim against the tide and say I thought that was a * for difficulty, and a hell of a lot easier than yesterday’s. Perhaps this is just my type of puzzle? The bottom half of the puzzle fell a lot quicker than the rest, but once 1d had gone, so did the rest pretty rapidly. 5d was my favourite clue today.

  35. Tougher but clues made sense, mostly, so good day. I too had never heard of burden = refrain, but it fit too perfectly to be anything else. Thesaurus confirmed it for me. I bunged in 15a without really understanding how it worked, so thanks to Mr. Kitty for hint. As frequent users of the Florida 12a, that was probably my favorite. Did spend too long trying to make Mrs. May somehow fit in 23a!

  36. Thanks to all who have commented – and for the usual excellent blog write-up. It’s always pleasing when a number of different clues are given as favourites. Apologies to anybody held up due to having a different answer at 11ac; SURVEY never occurred to me.

      1. Ah, glad you’ve turned up. No elaboration necessary; thank you immensely Dave from Mr & Lady LbR.
        Yourself and Gazza are fascinating company for which I thank you again. See you in 362 days.

    1. Thanks for dropping in, Mister Ron, thanks for the wonderful crossword, and thanks for the kind words about the blog.

      I have my suspicions about your true identity (based on what appears to be a signature feature in the clues), but I’m keeping them to myself. :)

        1. Do your worst, Jane. But be aware that I hold in reserve the music video that you least want to see on the blog :)

    2. It’s always so nice to hear from the setter so thank you Mister Ron for paying us a visit and for your great puzzle today. 🙂

    3. Aha! A bit of subtle detective work and we have rumbled your ID Mister Ron. It did confirm our suspicions too. :smile:

  37. Needed the usual hints (9a, 3d, 7d), but it was a ***, so being a beginner, I can’t complain too much. One day I will finish without a hint!!
    Very enjoyable, and lots of good clues.
    Thanks Mr.K and Mr.Ron, especially for dropping in.
    Fav was 17d

  38. A good mix of clues with welcome brevity: never thought of “survey” (you don’t when you sit before two of the correct answers for 10 hours a day), but took an age to see 9a and kicked myself. I’ll pick 28a as the cherry. 2*/3*
    PS I wasn’t around yesterday, so a belated thank you to all who made Saturday fun. Great to see old faces and meet new ones. Where else but here would people travel from far and wide for a slice of (delicious) cake with other people they may never have met? Marvellous. Well done, indeed, Dave

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