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