DT 28404 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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DT 28404

Daily Telegraph Cryptic No 28404

Hints and tips by Mr Kitty

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


Hello, everyone, and welcome to another Tuesday back-pager.  Today’s puzzle is refreshingly free of obscurities and general knowledge.  There’s also no cricket.  It does have a bit of a physics flavour running through some of the clues, but even that doesn’t bring in anything unfamiliar.  I thought difficulty-wise it was about right for a Tuesday, but that it ranked above average for enjoyment.  I’m not going to nominate a setter, but since there were a few smooth surfaces here that reminded me of Mister Ron I’m including a cat picture or two just in case.  As always, if the setter is reading, please remember that we all love to hear from you.

In my last two blogs, I’ve discussed some ways that setters like to make things challenging for themselves and interesting for us by imposing constraints on letter choices.  The best-known example of this must be the pangram, so I want to wrap up the discussion with a few pangram statistics.  The relevant charts and data are under the spoiler box following this paragraph.  My database now has 5585 back-page puzzles, of which 155 are pangrams.  The data shows that most of those appear on Saturday and that Rufus and Virgilius really don’t go in for pangrams.  Things are different with the Quickie, where the pangram chart is dominated by Friday – it looks like Giovanni produces a pangram Quickie almost every week.  Finally, a different setting challenge to using all of the letters available is using as few different letters as possible.  Here the data suggests that the minimum number of letters needed in a back-pager is 17.  There are only three of those, and they were all published before 2006.  I have no idea why that might be.

Click here for charts and data

Click on the charts to enlarge them

This chart shows the number of back-page pangrams by the day of the week that the puzzle was published.

This chart shows the number of Quickie pangrams by the day of the week that the puzzle was published.  Note that the total number of Quickie pangrams is almost seven times greater than the number of back-page pangrams.  Giovanni comes up with a pangram Quickie almost every Friday.


Finally, this chart shows the number of back-page puzzles versus the number of different letters in the puzzle.  The bump at 26 letters shows setters making the extra effort to create a pangram.  There are only three puzzles using 17 letters, so presumably it is extremely difficult to compose a puzzle with fewer letters.


In the hints below the definitions are underlined and the answers will be revealed by clicking on the buttons.  In some hints hyperlinks provide additional explanation or background.  Please leave a comment telling us how you got on.



1a    Club ordered synthetic cream (10,4)
MANCHESTER CITY:  An anagram (ordered) of SYNTHETIC CREAM gives a football club playing in the English Premier League.

9a    Begin accepting law broken for loyalist? (8)
STALWART:  A synonym of begin contains (accepting) an anagram (broken) of LAW.

10a   Hurry over and see heartless carer (5)
NURSE:  The reversal (over) of a word meaning hurry, followed by SeE without its centre letter (heartless).

12a   Flier‘s mischievous activity (4)
LARK:  Double definition.  The flier is a songbird renowned for getting up early.

13a   Get faster a cold vegetable, mostly devoured (10)
ACCELERATE:  Concatenate the A from the clue, C(old), all but the last letter (mostly) of a vegetable best used to eat blue cheese, and a short synonym of devoured.

15a   Rate terribly evil toy entertaining child at first (8)
VELOCITY:  Insert the initial letter (at first) of Child into an anagram (terribly) of EVIL TOY to get the name given in physics to the rate of change of position.

16a   Might one prohibit flag? (6)
BANNER:  Interpreted cryptically, this type of flag might describe a person who prohibits something.

18a   Republican quietly abandoning Bill’s schedule (6)
ROSTER:  The single letter abbreviation for Republican followed by a bill or advertising notice without the usual musical abbreviation for softly (quietly abandoned).  For those perplexed, as I once was, about the capitalisation here of bill, the convention is that while the setter may capitalise at will to mislead us, they may not decapitalise proper nouns.  (This and other cruciverbal conventions are explained clearly in Prolixic’s wonderful Brief Guide to the Construction of Cryptic Crossword Clues.)

20a   Most frightening hotel – and most spacious (8)
HAIRIEST:  Link together the single letter represented by hotel in the NATO phonetic alphabet and an adjective meaning “most spacious”.  The answer could also describe this angora rabbit.

23a   Tailor awaits cost for garments (10)
WAISTCOATS:  An anagram (tailor) of AWAITS COST.

24a   Love is about in land of the Wizard from the East (4)
ZERO:  Put a usual abbreviation meaning about or concerning inside the place where a well-known Wizard lives, and then reverse the lot (from the East, in an across clue).  The answer is the numerical value of love as a tennis score.

26a   Support son, overweight, knocked back by female (5)
STAFF:  Chain together S(on), the reversal (knocked back) of an adjective meaning overweight, and F(emale).

27a   Account in the red? That’s sweet (8)
MACAROON:  Put the usual abbreviation for account or bill inside a crimson shade of red.  Jean-Luc generously brought several boxes of these delights to the 2016 Birthday Bash.  The photo shows some of them.

28a   Current therapy cure for problem on top? (5,9)
SHOCK TREATMENT:  Interpreted cryptically, this psychiatric therapy could describe a cure for problems with one’s hair.



2d    Cheers up with lunar shot being seen around common (7)
NATURAL:  A short informal word of thanks is reversed (up, in a down clue) and placed inside (with …. being seen around) an anagram (shot) of LUNAR.

3d    Fit wife leaves deep-sea diver? (4)
HALE:  The largest diving thing found in the ocean, minus the single-letter abbreviation for wife (wife leaves).

4d    Lack vehicle in south London, say (8)
SCARCITY:  S(outh) and a thing of which London is an example (say) contain a common motor vehicle.

5d    European setter regularly upset this setter – one needs respect! (6)
ESTEEM:  Concatenate E(uropean), the odd letters (regularly) of SeTtEr, and the reversal (upset, in a down clue) of a pronoun our setter would use to describe himself.

6d    Shelve getting daughter to replace carbon support under a light source (10)
CANDELABRA:  Start with a word meaning to shelve or to call off and replace an instance of the chemical symbol for carbon by the abbreviation for daughter.  Then append the A from the clue followed by (under, in a down clue) crosswordland’s usual supporting underwear.

7d    Trainer reorganised ground (7)
TERRAIN:  An anagram (reorganised) of TRAINER.

8d    Star’s allowance for party? (11)
CELEBRATION:  Split (5,6), the answer could describe an allocation given to a famous person.

11d   Suspect I’ve writ lots? I want some more! (6,5)
OLIVER TWIST:  The owner of the underlined catchphrase is an anagram (suspect) of I’VE WRIT LOTS.  Click on the picture to reveal another image that better illustrates the answer but isn’t as cute.

14d   Fancy cities mostly find Conservative to be methodical (10)
SCIENTIFIC:  An anagram (fancy) of CITIES and all but the last letter (mostly) of FINd, followed by the single letter abbreviation for Conservative.

17d   Song may amuse if heard on the radio (8)
CANTICLE:  Split (3,5) this type of hymn is a synonym of may and a homophone (if heard on the radio) of a synonym of amuse.

19d   Vegetable that’s somewhat crisp in a chilli (7)
SPINACH:  This vegetable is a hiding in part of (somewhat) the remainder of the clue.

21d   Reportedly, one glimpsed something ugly (7)
EYESORE:  Split (3,4) the answer sounds like (reportedly) one saying that one has glimpsed.

22d   Promise company 2,001 tons (6)
COMMIT:  Assemble the usual abbreviation for company, the Roman numerals for 2001, and the abbreviation for tons.

25d   Worry doctor after forgetting answer (4)
FRET:  An anagram (doctor) of aFTER minus (forgetting) the single-letter abbreviation for answer.


Thanks to today’s mystery setter for a most enjoyable solve.  I liked the amusing surface of 3d, the smoothness of 6d, and I appreciated the nice 13a, 15a, and 14d triplet.  I smiled at the memories brought back by 27a.  My favourite today is the compact, smooth, and clever 24a.  Which clues made you smile?


The Quick Crossword pun: BAWL+TICK+SEE=BALTIC SEA

64 comments on “DT 28404

  1. Am I the first? we shall see. I found this pretty straight forward and quite enjoyable. The only one to cause a slight blip was 18a. Many thanks to the mystery setter and to Mr Kitty

  2. Unusually, I will nominate an anagram, 1a, as my COTD. It was concise, smooth and fun to solve. Overall I agree with Mr K and his views on difficulty and enjoyment, so 2*/4* from me. The SW corner held me up a tad, but not as long as yesterday.

    Many thanks to both Misters involved in today’s production.

      1. Yes :)

        And responding to those occasional complaints about the answer being revealed by a simple hover over the picture.

        1. That’s a good idea! I hovered over one by accident and was so intrigued that I had to check the rest. I’ve never had much will-power…

          1. Well-spotted, by the way. I was wondering how long it would be before somebody noticed the inverted text. Nobody commented on it last week.

    1. Perhaps because Mr K is originally from NZ?

      (Alternatively, something he started doing last week to make the answers less clear, useful in cases of accidental mouse hovering.)

  3. Help needed please, and hope it is acceptable to post this here. I want a device that can use adobe in order to be able to do the online crossword in a mobile way. My iPhone and kindle fire are not compatible. What do others use?

    1. I presume that you mean that you want to create an ‘editable’ pdf. I have found that, even with Adobe Acrobat Pro, it is not possible to do that. It might be me, but I like to think that the software that is used by the crossword providers does not allow it.

      So, the only sure way I know of mobile solving without a wifi connection (which is part of my presumption of what you want to be able to do) is paper and pencil.

    2. Hi there.
      I have just solved the problem.
      I have an android tablet, but use the Dolphin browser. You can install flash player, set a few settings in the browser and the online DT puzzles work fine. There is plenty on Google to advise.
      BD gave me the heads up.

      1. Thanks- got lots of warning messages when starting to download this to the Kindle, so gave up. But the puffin browser seems it might work with the iPhone.

  4. A straightforward Tuesday solve, completed at a gallop – */*** for me.

    Three contenders for favourite – 13a, 28a, and 6d, and the winner is 28a.

    Thanks to the setter and Mr K.

  5. All jolly good fun and I’m more than happy to lay the responsibility at the feet of Mister Ron.
    Had to think for a while about the parsing of 18a and the vegetable hid itself fairly successfully, but plain sailing elsewhere.
    My top two for the grins they produced were 28a&17d.

    Many thanks to Mister Ron (better had be you or Mr. K will never let me live it down!) and to Mr. K for the review, pics and further enlightenment regarding the world of crossword setting.

  6. Nothing to ruffle feathers but a pleasant way to get back into harness after Easter break. Stupidly didn’t manage to parse 25d. Several goodies but 28a probably Fav.
    Thank you Mysteron and Mr. Kitty.

  7. I think I’m having a dim day as I found this a bit trickier than the rest of you so far.
    The very obvious anagram at 1a took ages so I didn’t have any first letters for the down clues at the top until I finally saw the light.
    18a was my last answer – not a very difficult one so I don’t know why.
    I’m not sure that you have to be 14d to do something methodically.
    I liked 28a and 25d. My favourite was 17d.
    Thanks to Mr Ron, or Mister Ron, and to Mr Kitty.
    Off to carry on weeding – something I’ll do methodically but there’s nothing scientific about my gardening.

  8. 2*/4* for a puzzle today which was not difficult but very enjoyable. Strictly speaking, shouldn’t the clue 6d specify that only one instance of carbon be replaced?

    1a was a great anagram, but my favourite was 28a.

    Many thanks to Mister Ron and Mr Kitty.

    1. When Manchester City visits West Ham United, from now on I will think of synthetic cream at the new stadium!

    1. Just imagine a birthday bash without his 27a’s or CS’s lemon cake. Doesn’t bear thinking about…………..

  9. The bottom half held me up a bit, especially as I foolishly bunged in the first word I thought of for 20ac which then really held me up with 17d. Also spent a long time trying to solve the anagram of current therapy in 28ac. A very enjoyable puzzle, ***/**** for me. Many thanks to the setter and Mr Kitty.

  10. Thanks to messers Ron and Kitty. A very enjoyable puzzle today, seemed a bit more difficult than most Tuesdays in places. Lots of good anagrams. I thought 19d was very well hidden. Last in was 6d. My favourite was 17d. Was 2*/3* for me.

  11. I’m having another thick day, and only managed a few answers at first pass. Perhaps it is because I recently switched to decaf (in support of husband who had to on doctor’s orders)… Having spent the last two days head down weeding in the garden I thought the increased blood flow to the brain might have helped, but no. At least the garden looks better.

    Never heard of 17d so that held me up and only solved with Mr Kitty’s help. Favorite is 11d. I got at least 3 answers that I couldn’t justify until I read the hints. But another day and another word learned, so good.

  12. Very nice crossword except for 18a which beat me all ends up for an explanation to an obvious answer, daft clue I thought! Is there a special Circle of Hell for setters who use unnecessary capitalisations, if not there should be.
    COTD for me was 6d, a real ‘smiler’
    Thx to all

    1. Given the number of times you mutter about them, I’d have thought you’d have learnt to be on the lookout for misleading capitals.

  13. A very entertaining puzzle indeed, nine anagrams was probably a couple at least too many, but I for one am not complaining. My personal favourite was 3d.

    I found Mr. Kitty’s statistics regarding pangrams very interesting. I have to admit that discovering a puzzle is a pangram does, for me, give it an added something, but sometimes it can also mean obscurities are more inclined to infiltrate the grid to satisfy the presence of the more obscure letters.

    Many thanks to today’s setter and that mine of information that is Mr. K.

  14. I resisted bunging chandelier into 6d just because it began with a ‘c’ and had ten letters, and fitted the definition. Fortunately I just pencilled it into the margins until I had a better idea of what I was doing. 17d tickled my fancy. Thank you setter and Mr Kitty. I enjoyed this crossword much more than yesterday.

  15. Another Tuesday treat! I solved a few at the top at a canter, then got stuck. Left for half an hour, came back and it all fell into place. It seems each clue was more fun than the last.
    My fave was 17d, but there was lots of good stuff to choose from.
    Thanks to setter, I agree with Jane, Mister Ron, and to Mr. Kitty for the hints and pics.

  16. I was rattling through this crossword until 18 and 24a both caught me out. Why? Lord knows. I must be ill still. Actually once I had sussed it 24a was my favourite.
    Overall 2/3*.
    Thanks to Misters R and K.

  17. My resolution this year was to try to complete the Telegraph cryptic. Today’s was the first one I have finished without needing hints – a very satisfying moment for a novice. Canticle took me ages but I got there eventually. Thanks for the tips and clues – I find this community extremely helpful.

    1. Me too, ie the first cryptic I have completed without the hints even though afterwards it was useful to check the parsing on particularly 18a and 17d. This blog is quite life enhancing – thank you to all. Thank you to yesterday’s setter and the quite wonderful Mr K.

        1. Couldn’t have done it without you and all the effort you expend on our behalf. Again – thank you.

  18. I made an interesting discovery over the weekend, salt water and ipads are not compatible, hence the laptop.
    started later today and for some reason found the puzzle a little difficult. I struggled with 14d and 17d I was trying to various strange words in 14d and 17d just totally befuddled me. So hooray for the blog.
    Thanks to Mr Kitty and setter.
    13a must come close as a favourite together with 6d.

  19. A very steady solve from top to bottom finishing with the lovely macaroon in 27a along with 25d and 17d which became my favourite clue.
    27a did make me laugh as these great delicacies cost more than the flight but it’s such a pleasure to share them along with CS’ yearly birthday cake.
    Was trying to get some kind of cheap haircut in 28a until I unraveled the anagram.
    Thanks to the setter and to Mr K for the review.

  20. Well, today I was grateful for the blog even more than usual. It’s a lovely puzzle, but I really struggled to get on the wavelength of the compiler. My fault, not theirs. Having read this blog, I unwrapped some delicious answers. D ☺

  21. Very enjoyable without any real hold-ups. Not my team but as a Mancunian 1a my COTD. Thanks to setter & Mr K for hints & interesting stats. Distribution of letters shows why normal distributions get their name, but the “pangram blip” is quite marked.

  22. We confidently wrote Samuel (aka Mister Ron) in the margin quite early on in the solving process. A bit surprised that he hasn’t appeared while we have been asleep to fess up. Lots of people have used the word enjoyable to describe this puzzle so that’s the one we will use too, Sorting out how 18a worked was the last one for us.
    Thanks Mr Ron and Mr K.

  23. Gosh, talk about not on the wavelength, I gave up with about 6 left. That was so unfathomable it could easily have been a Shamus.
    This shows my inexperience I think, as I am unable to adapt to different setters style. Oh well, hopefully Jay tomorrow who I am much more in tune with.
    Thanks Mr. K and Mr. Ron.

  24. This one took me a while to finish, but I sort of knew that I was going to get there in the end, and I did.
    Mind you, there were a lot of interruptions.

    My favourite clue was 23a.

    Thanks to the setter and to Mr Kitty for his hints , reviews and interesting information about pangrams etc.

  25. I must have got on the setters wavelength straight away today. Unlike yesterday SW corner was first to complete and 8d was last one in. I think this may be the first time I have completed without recourse to any assistance, not even the BRB. It was certainly the first time I have completed in a single sitting and before I finished my morning coffee. Also got a lot more other things done today. So just * for difficulty and *** for enjoyment. Thanks to the setter, and Mr K whose help was not required today, and all the rest of you for an enjoyable read each day.

    1. Hey Unicorn well done. That first solo unaided solve feels so good. I still get a kick putting the last one in and showing Saint Sharon the ‘All answers correct ‘ banner on my IPad. Thanks for the ‘enjoyable read each day’ comment. It is comments such as yours that keep us going (well it is for me). Well done again and thanks once more.

  26. I enjoyed this along with the now traditional mug of hot milk with a spoonful of manuka honey after a hard day’s electioneering. Under normal circs such a day would authorise a couple of pints of Pedigree or London Pride, but the man in the white coat and the expensive wristwatch still says no. Sigh. I’ll opt for 6d as top clue simply because it took me the longest time to ascertain what was the fodder and what was the answer, and generated the widest grin. 20d also deserves a mention. Thanks to our setter (no idea) and to Mr K for an entertaining blog and some intriguing stats presented in a format that even a dunderhead like me can understand. 1*/4*

    1. PS Thanks to MP for alerting us to the “meet the bloggers” section of the site. An interesting read and some very impressive CVs. Next I’d like to see the same about our regular commenters …

  27. Sorry for not popping in earlier – I had completely forgotten that yesterday’s was one of mine, so am only just reading the blog. Thanks for the positive comments, and for the cat pictures. Interesting talk of pangrams (and of the least number of unique letters in a puzzle). Watch this space!

    1. Thank you Mister Ron for a lovely puzzle could not get 25d for ages but got there in the end!

      1. You’ve changed your alias since your previous comments so this one needed moderation. Both aliases will work from now on.

    2. Such a relief to hear from you, Mister Ron. Thought I was going to be left with egg on my face – again!

      1. Jane, I thought your strategy a few weeks ago of deliberately thanking the wrong setter was inspired. And it worked brilliantly :)

    3. Thanks for dropping in, Mister Ron, and thanks again for the fine crossword. I’m intrigued by your last sentence and looking forward to seeing what you come up with.

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