DT 28344 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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DT 28344

Daily Telegraph Cryptic No 28344

Hints and tips by Mr Kitty

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BD Rating – Difficulty ** Enjoyment ***

Hello everyone. Today we have another solid Tuesday puzzle: nothing too obscure, a modest number of anagrams, and several clever surfaces masking straightforward wordplay. It was a fun solve, and I even had a few laugh out loud moments.

To compensate for the lack of obscurities in today’s puzzle I’m going to address the recent blog thread asking about the most obscure answers seen on the back-page. My starting point for the analysis is the Google ngram viewer, which provides data on how often words appear in a very large collection of books digitized by Google. For example, click here to see how usage of two blog-relevant terms has evolved over the years. I ran all 48,000 back page answers through ngram, and found to my surprise that many of the words with low ngram scores are more uncommon than they are obscure. That category includes unusual variations of common words, such as BEERIEST, KLAXONED, UNPRIEST, and LASSOER. So, for this analysis I’m adopting the simple definition that a word with a low ngram count is obscure if Mr Kitty hasn’t heard of any variation of it. Using that criterion, here are the seven most obscure answers seen on the back page since 2001, along with their clues:

Trains cute monkey to be gushing (10) SCATURIENT
Clear tone I produced is modern (10) NEOTERICAL
Stupidly ran a sound beehive without pollen producers (9) ANANDROUS
Complicated campaign to trap a busybody (14) PANTOPRAGMATIC
Sin, lie – it can isolate one (6) INISLE
Afraid of dirt so follow my irrational fears (10) MYSOPHOBIC
Flatterers popular with fault-finding folk (9) INCENSORS

After making this list I discovered that these clues all have something interesting in common. I invite you in your comments to both speculate on that common factor and to tell us how many of these answers fit your own definition of obscure.

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.


7a    Wine expert? Lightweight! (8)
PORTABLE: A charade of a type of wine and an adjective meaning expert.

9a    Familiar with a hospital shown in book (2,4)
AT HOME: A from the clue, then H(ospital) inside a generic large book.

10a    First round with present (6)
BESTOW: Concatenate a superlative synonym of first, the round letter, and the single letter abbreviation for with. The answer is a verb.

11a    Grown-up lads use four-letter words, such as vest, suit, and ties! (8)
MENSWEAR: A charade of some grown up lads and a synonym of “use four-letter words”.

12a    Such a dismissal may be given by a drill-sergeant (8,6)
MARCHING ORDERS: A cryptic definition of an informal expression for being dismissed or sent on one’s way.

15a    Finish work on stone (4)
STOP: Link together the two-letter abbreviation for stone as a unit of weight and our usual abbreviation for a musical work.

17a    Crook who sneaks in King George mug (5)
GRASS: The two-letter Latin abbreviation for King George followed by a mug or a fool.

19a    With nothing on brownish-grey horse, backed last in race (4)
NUDE: The reversal (backed) of a brownish-grey horse followed the last letter of racE. My heart sank when I first saw the words “grey horse” in the clue, but this week he shouldn’t be causing us any trouble.

20a    Long-haired right-winger swallowing setter’s yarn (6,3,5)
SHAGGY DOG STORY: An adjective meaning long-haired and a British right-wing politician sandwich (swallowing) both the creature of which a setter is an example and the ‘S from the clue.

23a    Form of pollution in sewer — CIA involved initially (4,4)
ACID RAIN: An anagram (involved) of CIA followed by a generic sewer (which is here, for a change, not describing something that sews).

25a    Bird, duck, on turbulent Loire (6)
ORIOLE: The letter that looks like the score associated with a duck in cricket followed by an anagram (turbulent) of LOIRE. Isn’t the rule about A on B in an across clue meaning B followed by A (as employed in 15a) being violated here?

27a    Insect, bumbling I wager (6)
EARWIG: An anagram (bumbling) of I WAGER.

28a    District of Paris pulled out of by financial establishment (4,4)
LEFT BANK: A charade of a word meaning “pulled out of” and the best-known type of financial establishment.


1d    Poet reportedly cheated (4)
DONE: The answer sounds like (reportedly) the surname of a famous 17th Century English poet. Thanks to Tstrummer’s post on Monday’s blog I knew just how to illustrate this clue.

2d    Interference in stable (6)
STATIC: A double definition. Stable here means stationary.

3d    Party in power, lacking leadership (4)
TEAM: An antiquated power source without its first letter (lacking leadership).

4d    Old train company accommodating woman as standard (6)
BANNER: Put a common female name inside the two letter abbreviation for the company that ran the UK’s railways before the system was privatized. The standard is a type of flag.

5d    Fried noodles cold — who cooked? Me, at home (4,4)
CHOW MEIN: Join together C(old), an anagram (cooked) of WHO, ME from the clue, and crosswordland’s usual short word for “at home”.

6d    Diplomat, a male, so sad, drunk in pub (10)
AMBASSADOR: The A from the clue and the single letter abbreviation for Male, followed by a type of pub containing an anagram (drunk) of SO SAD.

8d    Nightbird seen in Crosby making deliveries (7)
BOWLING: This Crosby is a crooner, not a town. Put a well-known nocturnal bird inside him. The great version of “Hotel California” in this clip from “The Big Lebowski” is by the Gipsy Kings.

13d    Not friendly towards others, worker is one in pub blowing top (10)
ANTISOCIAL: Concatenate our usual worker insect, IS from the clue, and the pub just down the road after removing its first letter (blowing top, in a down clue) and inserting the first Roman numeral (one in).

14d    Greek with thousand pounds (5)
GRAND: The two-letter abbreviation for Greek and a synonym of with.

16d    Make light of theatrical piece, blue (4,4)
PLAY DOWN: What you might see performed in a theatre and a word meaning blue or sad.

18d    Figure of female makes one stop broadcasting (4,3)
SIGN OFF: A charade of a noun synonym of figure, OF from the clue, and F(emale).

21d    Outlying farm, good place to practise shooting (6)
GRANGE: G(ood) followed by the place where one goes to practise shooting.

22d    Attempt to secure one pound for a hat (6)
TRILBY: An attempt contains (to secure) the Roman numeral for one and the two-letter abbreviation for pound as a unit of weight.

24d    River‘s in the heart of Sweden, I learned (4)
NILE: Hidden inside (in the heart of) the last three words of the clue.

26d    Welsh town fellow’s eschewed dressing (4)
LINT: The answer is a synonym of dressing as in bandage or gauze. Find it by dropping the single letter abbreviation for F(ellow) (fellow’s eschewed) from a Welsh town situated on the estuary of the River Dee. Apparently, any similarity between the notable sculpture outside the town’s railway station (left) and Terry Gilliam’s famous Monty Python creation (right) is purely coincidental.

Thanks to this week’s Mr Ron for an enjoyable solve. My favourite today was my first answer in, namely 11a. What was yours?

The Quick Crossword pun: LAY+SAY+FARE=LAISSEZ-FAIRE

91 comments on “DT 28344

  1. Completed this very enjoyable puzzle at a gentle gallop; not quite what I expected after a slow start – */***

    Instant favourites, 12a and 20a. What can I say, two 14 letter non-anagrams.

    Speaking of anagrams; there has been quite a lot of discussion recently on anagram indicators. The Chambers Crossword Dictionary (3rd edition) has a listing of indicators, with an opening of “Anagram indicators include:” suggesting that the list of 1,416 indicators, yes that many, that follows may be missing a few.

    Interestingly, all of today’s indicators are included, but the one that caused a lot of discussion yesterday – liquid – is not.

    Thanks to Mr Ron and MrK.

    1. I find the CCD invaluable, Senf, although the listings are far from exhaustive. For example, “discovered” is not shown as a ends deletion indicator, “originally” is not down as a first letter indicator, and, very surprisingly, “regularly” is not given as an alternate letter indicator.

      Interestingly, although “liquid” isn’t shown as an anagram indicator, as you rightly say, “fluid” is!

      1. I agree, the introductory pages to the CCD are a mine of information, which I don’t refer to often enough. As well as the ‘Indicator Lists,’ the articles/essays, especially ‘Crossword English. by The Don, are particularly interesting.

        1. I’m currently working my way through The Don’s Chambers Crossword Manual. It also looks pretty good.

  2. Finished without needing the hints, I put tick against 11A as it had me smiling,20A came a close second. Agree with the ratings offered.Thanks to the setter & Mr Kitty for his review.

  3. I had a comical coincidence when pondering over 20 across. With no letters in, our long haired sprocker decided to pester me – canine inspiration indeed. Thanks to today’ setter – no pun intended, a most enjoyable solve

  4. Easy fare today. 1*/3* for me. 10a and 11a were my favourites. I’m now having a think about Mr Kitty’s obscurities.

  5. Very enjoyable and some really amusing clues. I had to guess 26d but otherwise not too tricky. Favourites were 7a, 11a and 12a. 2*/4* Many thanks to Mr Ron and to Mr Kitty.

  6. Re. the obscure words, I confidently predict that:
    a) They all appeared on Friday
    b) Crypticsue knew them

  7. Thought I’d done well, finishing without hints until idly looking through the above I realised I’d got 17a and 18d wrong with 2 answers that made sense (sort of). 17a I made out to be the mug of a Holy sort, and 18d is how you end your computer session.
    Thanks to Mr Ron for enlivening a cold damp morning in Devon and to Mr K for putting me right.

  8. Enjoyable with little to cause problems. A small point, I don’t think British Rail was a “company” in the accepted sense so spent too much time with GWR, GER, SR etc.
    20a COTD for me of course.
    Thanks to setter & Mr K for hints (possibly “deliveries” in 8d intended to refer to cricket not Ten Pin bowling?)

    1. I went for LNER at first. have you noticed that your blog name is an exact anagram of LetterboxRoy?

      1. I’m flattered MP I guess it also applies to Centiped too.

        However having worked for BR for a number of years, “old” it may be, but a “company” either operation or mentality it was not.

            1. Don’the want to stir up poor old Albert, all we may be left with is the stick with the ‘orses ‘ead ‘andle.

            2. Not my fault. LetterboxRoy and LabrdorsruleOk are perfect anagrams of one another as are Hoofityoudonkey and Neveracrossword. Try it.

    2. Hi, LrOK. Yes, I expect the setter had cricket in mind with 8d. But we don’t want for crickety illustrations here and I couldn’t turn down an opportunity to post a clip from one of the best movies ever.

      1. Hi Mr K,
        As good as Shane? Not for me, prefer a good “cowey”.
        Not many films, good or bad with cricket in them I don’t think though

      2. I will stick with 10 pin bowling if it means,a chance to see a clip from The Big Lebowski

    3. When I parsed it, I thought the girl was called Ann and the company BER for some British Empire Railways. Couldn’t check at the time.

  9. This was similar to yesterday’s, very mild but quite enjoyable. 1.5*/2.5*. Mr K, what a conundrum you have posed! Immediately, all the words listed are obscure to me, except the last one which I am readily familiar with. Saying that, have I fallen into a foxy trap? Of course, just because a word is foreign to our own personal vocabulary doesn’t necessarily mean that it is generally obscure. I will have to think deeply about the common link. When are you going to reveal the answer?

  10. Pretty straightforward but all good and well. Plenty of time for obscurity untangling.
    Many thanks to setter and to Mr K for the write-up.

    1. I now have the words and checked them, I’d only heard of two of them. Wouldn’t be surprised if they are all G’s inventions.

  11. The horses got a little anxious over team = party but no other issues to report.
    Rather liked 20a but 11a wins by a country mile.

    Thanks to Mr. Ron and to our resident mine of crossword information! All of the words listed would come under my heading of obscure and, like Rick, I would assume that they all appeared on a Friday.
    By the way – that’s the most bizarre version of Hotel California I’ve ever heard!

    1. Meant to mention – that foot sculpture is huge but anatomically perfect. Clearly visible from the train as it pulls into Flint station. Not that I would recommend Arriva Trains Wales as the way to travel………….

  12. Failed to solve 26d. Mostly because it was to do with Wales. All the rest was very enjoyable. Ta to all.

    1. Apparently there is a law still on the statute book that allows a man in Chester to shoot a Welshman on a Sunday with a crossbow as long as he is within the city walls after midnight.

  13. No hold ups today, plenty of smiles like 20A 12A ,so a */*** for me.
    26 A would have been tricky without the checking letters. Some nicely misleading cluing eg 19a and 17a which warranted a careful read.
    Don’t like single letters in lieu of words ie O and W in 10a- impressed with Mr Kitty’s concatenate !

  14. I agree with the 2* difficulty and 3* for enjoyment, maybe a little bit more.
    I made life difficult for myself by dividing 10a into 2,4 – don’t know how or why I did that.
    Another problem that I created ‘all my own self’ was getting 1d the wrong way round – it’s the kind of clue that I almost always get wrong.
    26d caused a spot of bother – Welsh towns are not one of my strong points and anyway I was thinking of the dressing you’d put on salads.
    I’m never sure about 13d and I know that the BRB disagrees with me but I think it’s more actively nasty, like bashing old ladies on the head or mugging people, than just not being friendly, i.e. unsociable – rant over.
    I liked 12 and 20a and 5 and 21d. My favourite was 11a.

    Moving on to the obscurities I think an obscure word is an unknown one that is difficult if not almost impossible to use in your average sentence or in every day conversation which is the best way, for me anyway, to remember them.

  15. Did anyone else get Orange first time round for 21d ? I originally parsed as O Range , and student nurses use Oranges to practice giving injections (shooting)

    1. Welcome from me too, Sheps.

      I wonder if one of our setters will pick up on that novel shooting target. It could make for a fun clue.

  16. I do like that “campaign to trap busybody” clue, but the other obscurities are quite eyeroll-y! Even if they do mostly favour the recipients of an old-fashioned classical education, I’m still against obscurity for its own sake.

  17. For me not one of the most entertaining offerings. Stupidly four littluns held me up viz 17a, 1d, 14d and 26d. 11a was Fav for me too. For a while couldn’t get au fait out of my mind for 9a although it wouldn’t parse. Thanks Messrs. Ron and Kitty. 😕

  18. Well – I’ve never heard of any of those obscure words – and couldn’t solve any of them.

  19. Quite pleasent without being outstanding. Would perhaps take issue with Team being another word for Party but really liked 11a and 13a.
    Thx to all

  20. 11a wins today’s top spot by a distance in this enjoyable puzzle. Like others, I had a slow start before picking up the pace once I got on our setter’s wavelength. I eventually settled on a 2*/3.5* score. Many thanks to the 2 Misters.

  21. Looking at the obscurities, numbers 6 and 7 were gettable without knowing the meaning through the wordplay. I will speculate that had they all formed part of a grid I would have got them through the checkers eventually. None of them are words I have ever knowingly come across, which I suppose means they are obscure to me. I’ve never even seen them in an article by Boris Johnson.

  22. Needed the hint for 1d .

    Thanks to the setter and to Mr Kitty.

    All of the obscurities are unknown to me, except, possibly the last and I can confidently say that even with every checker possible I would not get any of them without electronic assistance.
    I also have absolutely no idea what they have in common, so will be checking back from time to time to find out.

  23. Thanks to messers Ron and Kitty for the puzzle and review / hints respectively. Most entertaining, thought I’d finished when I solved 2d, but failed to notice that 26d was incomplete, actually read the hint, then solved it. Probably wouldn’t have got it, had I not seen the hint. I liked 10&12a, but my favourite was 11a. Was 2*/4* for me.

    1. Did exactly the same thing.
      Totally forgot about 26d after getting 1d.
      Shame we didn’t get to meet again this year. Glad to hear that you still enjoy your outings in Hampstead Heath and Kenwood House.

  24. Im not sure whether I really liked this crossword or not. It was ok but it didn’t pull up any trees for me. So 2/3* overall and favourite, at a push would be 11a I suppose.
    Thanks to Mr R and Mr K.
    As for the obscurities, I agree with YS. If Boris hasn’t used them then I shan’t either.

  25. Plenty of inventive cluing today which fortunately distracted my attention from the occasional unconvincing surface.

    My ticks went to 12a, 20a and to 11a, which produced the widest grin.

    I think Kath’s definition of what constitutes an obscurity is quite a good one, all of those listed above definitely can be classed as obscure in my opinion. I was tempted to go with the majority and suggest they have all appeared in Giovanni backpagers, but I see that theory has now been quashed.

    Many thanks to today’s setter and to Mr. K.

  26. Thanks all for your comments and suggestions on the list of obscure answers. I do like Young Salopian’s objective “Boris Criterion” for obscurity, although it might be difficult to apply in practice. Anyway, here’s the answer to my “common element” question:

    Those seven most obscure clues are all well over ten years old.

    I read somewhere that the Toughie was created in response to a feeling that the back pager had become easier over time, and this observation does indeed suggest that older puzzles contained some clues tougher than what we typically see today.

    1. To me, making a clue more cryptic is the art, not the obscurity of the answer.
      Four letter, everyday words can be just as clever, often more so, than obscurities.
      I don’t mind learning new words, as long as they are eloquent/informative ones that I can use (anandrous, mysophobic)
      I can’t imagine ever using the word ‘pantopragmatic’, except on a crossword blog, perhaps. :smile:

  27. I enjoyed this but had a huge problem getting a toehold. First run through, I only had two across answers, then the downs started to give. I must have been settling into wavelength.
    I never did get 26d and needed the hint. Last in was 17a, got it the wrong way round.
    Fave was 20a, natch, but 11a was a close second.
    Thanks to setter, and also to Mr. Kitty for his help with 26d.

    I knew none of Mr. K’s obscurities, hope they never show up again!

  28. Missed 26d so thanks for the hint Mr K. The rest fell into place quite well and I thought 11a was amusing. Thanks also to Mr Ron for a pleasant workout.

  29. Our knowledge of UK geography must be improving as we had heard of the Welsh town for 26d, We had a slight hesitation sorting out the two words starting with GR in the centre of the grid but that was the only delay. Pleasant solve. Suspect it is a different Mister Ron to the one who popped in last Tuesday but have no idea who it might be.
    Thanks Mr Ron and Mr Kitty

  30. I’ve been following this blog for a couple of years now and been doing the DT cryptic for a long time and I still can’t figure out “Big Dave’s ratings”
    Can anyone enlighten me?

    1. Welcome to the blog RealCyberMod

      They are meant to be a guide, a yardstick against which you can, if you wish, judge your own experience of the puzzle. What they are not is a branch of science.

      1. I only ask, as the ratings seem to be almost always at odds with my experience. No matter. The blog is a great resource when I’m really stuck!

    2. Welcome from me, too.

      I assign the difficultly rating that I think will be about the average rating of all blog posts on that particular day. I also try to bear in mind that 3* should roughly indicate average difficulty for a back page puzzle. But as BD says, it is much more art than science.

    3. As far as I know these ratings are, like comments on here, purely personal/individual assements of the daily back-pager. A beginner/novice might give a 4* for difficulty, whereas an experienced solver could find the same crossword quite easy and only give it a 1*. Therefore, there’s bound to be a range of differing ratings.

  31. 1.5*/2.5*. We solved this at a good pace with no real difficulties. Took us a few moments to see that the woman’s name in 4d include the ‘e’ – the same few moments that we spent trying, and failing, to remember BER as a train company! Oh, well.

    Thought 17 was a pretty nifty clue.

    Thanks to Messrs K and R.

  32. Thanks Mr K.
    Didn’t know any of these obscurities.
    At least there were none in today’s offering as I solved this on a bus to Aix.
    But forgot about 26d as previously mentioned.
    The most trouble I had was trying to find a three letter word for crook which could fit in King G’s cipher in 17a until the penny dropped in 18d.
    11a favourite. Reminds me of a setter. Virgilius in fact, but knowing me the connection is probably a bit far fetched.
    Thanks to the setter and Mr K.

  33. I failed miserably in the entire NW corner having decided the poet couln’t be John Donne because his name rhymed with Don as in Giovanni, not with done as in fun. I went via Google for the poet Dunn instead. 😟 Tomorrow is another day!
    Thanks Mr K and Mr Ron.

  34. This was a steady but very enjoyable plod for me. Didn’t find anything obscure at all, and everything gradually fell into place with a little thought and husband help. Didn’t know the welsh town, but just been told his paternal grandmother came from there. Spent too much time thinking Crosby was in Lancashire rather than the crooner… favorites were 11a, 12a and 23a. Last in, with help from Mr. Kitty was 1d.

    1. A lot of our crew had a problem with 1d, but I was beginning to despair after not getting anywhere with the across clues, so I just bunged it in, even if it wasn’t a strict homophone! Could have got me in trouble.

  35. A little trouble in the NW corner, 1d/7ac/3d in particular, which together must have taken a third of the time, the rest was a mostly straightforward, enjoyable, steady solve.

    1. Welcome from me too, Neil.

      The web page where I found the Bond still identified the type of hat as the answer to 22d, but it’s not a great image and I’m not a hat expert so it’s possible that’s not correct. But it’s still a hat, so the picture at least illustrates the definition :)

  36. 1*/3*, I deem. 12a made me smile, even though it was pretty obvious. Ta to the Mysteron, and to Mr Kitty.

  37. Tried to make an anagram of ‘amsosadinn’ for 6d. Close but not close enough. 20a was my favourite. Thank you setter and Mr Kitty.

  38. Late in today and too tired to make much of a comment – an enjoyable and quite gentle puzzle. Thanks to Mr Ron and Mr K.

  39. About the same as yesterday for me. I think I must have spilt some treacle on my brain. Ta to the ever-resourceful Mr K (I only knew one) and our setter. 2*/3*

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