DT 28412 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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DT 28412

Daily Telegraph Cryptic No 28412

Hints and tips by Kath

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BD Rating — Difficulty ***/****Enjoyment ***

Hello everyone. We’re now only four days away from May 1st which is celebrated in Oxford by the Magdalen College choir singing from the top of the tower at 6.00am followed by the bells ringing out over the city. There is then general revelry, all the pubs, bars and restaurants are open and those of a loopy disposition jump from the bridge into the River Cherwell. At the moment it’s 1C here and I’m jolly glad of my thick woollies and a big fire.

I found today’s crossword quite difficult. I don’t know who set it but I don’t think it’s a Ray T. Please leave a comment telling us what you thought and how you got on.

In the hints the definitions are underlined and the answers are hidden under the things that say ANSWER so only do that if you need to see them.


8a            Put forward comment about ministry, centre of affairs (8)
NOMINATE — A comment or mention contains the abbreviation for ministry and the middle letter (centre of) affAirs.

9a            Belligerent female extended flower (6)
AMAZON — A double definition – a stroppy woman and the second longest river in the world.

10a         Some antisocial characters heading west somewhere in Greece (3)
COS — Our first lurker or hidden answer – a Greek island is hidden (some) and reversed (heading west) in the second word of the clue.

11a         Work a lot in being trained? It’s not mandatory (8)
OPTIONAL — The usual two letter abbreviation for a musical work is followed by an anagram (being trained) of A LOT IN.

12a         One puncturing plumbing, maybe delivering angry speech (6)
TIRADE — The letter that looks like a one goes inside (puncturing) something of which plumbing is an example – it could just as well be carpentry or painting and decorating.

13a         Derogatory lie countryman concocted about politician (15)
UNCOMPLIMENTARY — An anagram (concocted) of LIE COUNRTRYMAN contains (about) the two letters for a member of parliament (politician).

15a         Obstructs rowers’ benches (7)
THWARTS — The second double definition – I didn’t know the second one.

18a         Excellent ship backed by energy and skill (7)
FINESSE — Begin with a synonym for excellent or very good, follow that with our usual crosswordland two letter abbreviation for a S(team) S(hip) and finish it all off with the abbreviation for E(nergy).

21a         Following a correct course like a disciplined athlete? (2,3,5,5)
ON THE RIGHT TRACK — I think this is another double definition but if I’m wrong I’m pretty sure someone will tell me.

24a         Outstanding Eastern European housing at college (6)
SUPERB — An Eastern European contains (housing) a little short word meaning ‘at college’ or university.

25a         Rash ambassador meeting journalist not so often (8)
HEEDLESS — The two letter abbreviation for a title given to an ambassador, another two letter abbreviation for a journalist or head of a newspaper and then a word that means not so often or not as much as.

26a         River is immacutely clean, ignoring the source (3)
URE — A word that means immaculately clean or uncontaminated without its first letter (ignoring the source).

27a         More advanced figure rose in ground (6)
SENIOR — An anagram (ground) of ROSE IN.

28a         Pursuit of an ace? (8)
AVIATION — Pursuit here means an occupation or speciality rather than a chase – the ace is an expert and was originally an informal term for an airman.



1d            Publishers engaged in fraud making slip (6)
COUPON — One of the usual little words for a fraud or swindle contains (engaged in) the three letter abbreviation for one of the major publishing companies.

2d            I book to get into pool, showing natural desire (6)
LIBIDO — The ‘I’ from the clue and the one letter abbreviation for book are contained in (to get into) a pool or beach.

3d            Christian basilica put up food in historic city (5,10)
SAINT PETERSBURG — A basilica in the Vatican City is followed by a reversal (put up) of an informal word that means food. This one took me ages.

4d            Speak aggressively in French of allegation (7)
DECLAIM — The French word for ‘of’ is followed by an allegation or assertion.

5d            Intricate hassle having to alter unrealistic plans (7,2,3,3)
CASTLES IN THE AIR — An anagram (having to alter) of INTRICATE HASSLE.

6d            Artist making final move on board grabbing bottle (8)
MAGRITTE — The final move in a game of chess (move on board) contains (grabbing) a slang word for bottle or courage. Once I realised that the ‘final move’ wasn’t ‘check’ this was much easier.

7d            Sour hand misbehaving in country (8)
HONDURAS — An anagram (misbehaving) of SOUR HAND.

14d         Subdue animal (3)
COW — A double definition.

16d         Queen, say, starts off every duty held in admiration (8)
HONOURED — The ‘Queen’ isn’t the usual ER and it’s not the group – it’s one of the four best trumps in a game of whist or bridge and it’s followed by the first letters (starts off) of E(very) D(uty). Another one that took me ages to understand.

17d         Like runners and jumpers, half of them allowed in capital clubs (8)
ATHLETIC — The usual two letters that mean capital or excellent contain (in) the first two letters (half of) TH(em) and a little word that means allowed or permitted – finish that lot off with the one letter abbreviation for C(lubs).

19d         Deep regard, it’s said (3)
SEA — Deep is a poetic word for an ocean and the answer is a homophone (it’s said) of a verb to regard or look at.

20d         Bookworm, for instance, supported by good authoritative teacher (7)
EGGHEAD — Start off with the two letter abbreviation of the Latin that means for instance or for example, then the one letter for G(ood) and, finally, an authoritative teacher or ‘boss’ in a school.

22d         Tell where a warring couple might go? (6)
RELATE — A double definition.

23d         Copper most unpredictable, one’s regularly observed (6)
CUSTOM —The chemical symbol for copper is followed by an anagram (unpredictable) of MOST.

Having finished this crossword and done the hints I can’t quite see why I found it tricky. I haven’t changed my rating for difficulty as that is how it felt while I was actually doing it.

I liked 9 and 28a and 14 and 19d.


81 comments on “DT 28412

  1. 3*/3*. Just the right level of difficulty for me for an enjoyable back-pager although I did think that a few of the surfaces were a bit iffy, e.g.: 9a, 27a, 7d, and it was a shame about the typo in the paper in 26a.

    Despite the presence of Her Majesty this is definitely not a Ray T (who seems to have gone AWOL on Thursdays – hopefully only temporarily) but I’d venture the possibility that this might have been set by Shamus.

    16a was my last one in as it took me a while to twig that it involved a relatively unusual version of Queen.

    14d was my favourite with 28a a close second.

    Many thanks to the setter and to Kath.

        1. Strange that you see what you want to see (unless you are famed for your pedantry of course)

    1. I couldn’t initially come up with an Irish reference to back up the Shamus theory but then I remembered Keith Harkin of Celtic Thunder fame and his lovely version of 5d. Too tenuous? Have to wait and see who pops in to claim responsibility. There were certainly a few clues (21a & 2d for example) which would suggest the little leprechaun.

  2. I went so far as to query with a friend as to whether this was wrong envelope day, as I found this one quite tricky and the Toughie really user-friendly

    1. Yes, I agree the Toughie was relatively gentle but it was certainly very enjoyable.

    2. Oh good – I thought it might be just me having a dim day due to extreme lack of sleep this week – people staying, late nights and general chaos all round.

    3. Thank you Sue for pointing me towards the Toughie 😀 It was indeed benign I completed it for the first time ever apart from needing a hint for 10a, a really wet afternoon helped as well 😰

  3. I found this quite tough. Managed the right hand side without much trouble but the left side was much trickier. I needed Kath’s assistance with 3d, otherwise I doubt I would have finished. My favourite was 13a. Many thanks to the setter and to Kath for her help

  4. Surprisingly, given CS’s & RD’s comments I found this OK. Perhaps because I got 3 of the 4 long answers early on. Also perhaps had steeled myself for a vintage Ray T day.
    Held up by putting athletes in 17d which meant 27a was messed up. Didn’t spot “ground” as an anagram indicator – can’t remember it before. Re-think sorted it out.
    Thanks to setter and Kath for review.

    1. I also spent far too long trying to justify athletes for 17d but, because I have seen ground as an anagram indicator before, 27a sorted it out – even then it took a while to work out why 17d was what it had to be – definitely not firing on all cylinders today. :yawn:

  5. Today’s game was short and sweet with the North requiring a bit more thought than the South. 15a obvious even though rowers’ benches were new to me. 28a my Fav too. Thank you RayT and Kath.

  6. Certainly at the more difficult end of the spectrum today partly due to an unfriendly grid.
    A few difficult parsings – a smirk when the penny dropped with 22d and 27a-last in.
    Thought 15a must be a double definition and something to do with ‘rowers seats ‘
    Bunged in 3d when I had most of the checking letters-thanks Kath for the ‘put up food’
    Like RD, thought this puzzle about right for the back page.

  7. I started off fairly quickly, and then gradually ground to a halt with the last handful taking me into 3* time.
    I was ignorant of the second definition of 15a, and it took me a while to spot the relevance of “queen” in 16d. My last in was 28a.
    Overall, a very good puzzle. Many thanks to setter, and to Kath for the write-up.

  8. Took me a while to remember the rowers’ benches and 3d remained stubbornly out of reach for quite some time even given that I had the initial letter of the second word in place early on in the solve.
    I think we had the card reference in 16d relatively recently, otherwise I would have been struggling to parse that one.
    22d gets my ‘smile’ vote.

    Thanks to our setter (Shamus?) for the workout and to Kath for the well illustrated blog. Have you or the lambs ever been down to observe the Magdalen College revellers? Also – did Mr. T put in his pink slip for time off?

    1. Oh yes – used to go down to the town very early on May Morning when possible but not for ages now – been there, done it and seen it although on a beautiful sunny morning it is wonderful.
      Both Lambs always used to go when they were in their late teens but there are far better, not to mention more approved of, ways to turn up at school!!
      No – no request for absence from Ray T.

  9. I found this much harder than a normal Thursday, with a couple of hold-outs pushing up my solving time, notably 1d and 16d. 6d was my favourite, and overall this was 3*/3* for me. Like others I missed the typo in 26a and saw what I wanted or expected to see.

    Many thanks to our Thursday setter, whoever you are, and to Kath for her review.

  10. Like LROK, I was a little surprised by some of the comments, as I thought this was about right (and I am sometimes beaten on a Thursday). On the other hand, I found yesterday’s puzzle more difficult than most of the comments suggest. A ‘wavelength’ thing I suppose. Thanks to all.

  11. Enjoyed today’s offering 😄 Definitely not Ray T as once again I managed to complete it ***/*** Thanks to Kath and to the setter 🤗 Favourites 5 & 15 across. If I point out that the word in the Quick Crossword should be “decongest” can I join pedants corner? 😬

    1. Yes – you can point out that I screwed up the Quickie pun – don’t know how I did that. Oh dear!

  12. As others hinted in comment 2, I also found this harder than the toughie.

    The long ones were bunged in quickly though I misspelt the historic city which gave me problems with the parsing and the river.

    Many thanks Kath and setter

  13. 14a – the answer is being displayed in plain text – shoorely shome mishtake!

    I don’t understand 28a – I’ll look it up in the BRB – no, still don’t get it! *correction* I’ve just read the blog again and have fallen in, the operative word is ‘pursuit’ – how dim can I get!!

    Toughest puzzle of the week, Thursdays seem to always be tough.

    1. :oops: Yes, sorry about the ‘cow’ being displayed. It’s very easy to make the odd mistake – was it 14d rather than 14a that you meant?

  14. Despite trying to get mate somehow into 6 down I failed, but surprisingly found the rest quite easy which I find very hard to believe! I also missed the spelling mistake in 26 across. Thank you to setter and to Kath.

  15. As a result of the above comments, I was tempted to have a look at the toughie. I’ve just finished it, so it must have been pretty easy!

  16. Not very often that I put the ‘stars’ this way round, but ***/* for me.

    The 6d artist has appeared before, and I was helped by a few more oldies but goodies.

    I did enjoy the four 15 letter clues, especially the two non-anagram ones. So my favourite is a toss-up between 21a and 3d.

  17. That was slow but sure and very enjoyable. I would like to hear the choir on May 1st. My niece is at Oxford Universty. No doubt she will be at the heart of the shenanigans

  18. I agree, someone got the envelopes mixed up. Although I completed this puzzle, it was really tricky and on the whole not very enjoyable. For me ****/**. Far too many all in one clues that need a leap of faith, my least favourite type of crossword. Roll on tomorrow’s Giovanni.
    Thx for the hints

  19. I did enjoy this although there were a couple of things that were new to me – the rowers’ bench in 15 ac. and the artist in 6 d. for example. I found many of the clues unusual for me in that on first reading I drew a complete blank, but on second reading they were almost read and write. Many thanks to Kath and the setter.

  20. Thanks to the setter and to Kath for the review and hints. I quite enjoyed this, but I found it a real struggle. Two of the clues I couldn’t do were double definitions 9&15a. So was 22d,which I solved, but how does “where a warring couple might go” =relate?? Also needed the hints for 8a,6d and to parse 3,16,17d. No real favourites, was 4*/3* for me.

      1. Thankfully I’ve never had the need to go to ‘Relate’ but I can’t help wondering if your comment implied more than you meant it to? :unsure:

        1. Kath,
          55 years wed in June. “Love my dog love me and Love my cat love me has applied here so we haven’t needed Relate thank goodness.💑

          1. I’m really sorry if I’ve offended you – I didn’t mean to – I was joking and can’t really be bothered to explain.
            Fifty-five years of marriage is a great achievement – well done to you and Mrs LROK.
            A little :rose: for you and another one for her too :rose:

            1. Kath,
              Absolutely no offence taken at all.
              The reply was just to show maritally all is well in labradorland. It is Mrs LROK (SWMBO or, for non-Rumpole fans She Who Must Be Obeyed) who deserves the credit and congratulations for putting up with me, but thank you all the same.

  21. I’m in the more tricky than enjoyable camp. It didn’t help getting 21a, but then actually writing ‘racks’ for the last word, because my brain had given the ‘t’ double duty. To quote CS at #1 “Strange that you see what you want to see” – certainly is.
    Many thanks to setter for the tussle and to Kath for sorting it all out.

  22. Too many obscure elements to be a really first class puzzle for me, though got it done with a struggle

  23. Definitely tricky but most enjoyable for me. Getting the long ones early on was a huge help.
    I needed Kath’s help to understand 16d, I was looking for ER. I also needed LROK’s help at comment #20 to understand 22d! Esoteric or what?
    Loved 3d and 5d, I’ll toss a coin to decide fave.
    Thanks to setter and to Kath for unravelling 16d.

  24. Without Kath’s blog I only managed the SE corner and one or two other answers, bad day at the office😔

  25. Having endured the traumas and dramas of moving house and to a another city I have been unable to connect with the ‘cruciverse’ until today. And what a taxing puzzle it was to get myself going again. A hard slog but enjoyed it nevertheless

    1. You’ve expanded your alias so your comment required moderation. Both aliases will work from now on.

  26. Oh dear, above my pay grade today. Poor Kath, quite a stinker of a puzzle today, and I only got half done before I had to go to her hints. Never heard of the rowers benches either. Don’t get relate and warring couple? 21a was favorite. Seemed more like a Toughie today.

      1. Oh – you beat me to it, Merusa. Not sure about esoteric but probably a bit UK-centric – I have heard of it but, thankfully, have not needed it – yet (just to keep ‘him’ on his toes!

    1. “Poor Kath” is alive and kicking but thanks for the thought.
      As far as 22d is concerned have a look at LROK’s reply to Heno at comment 20 – it could be another one that is possibly a bit unfair to non-UK solvers.

  27. I’ve only recently discovered this site and it’s been a boon for a novice cryptic crossworder.
    I don’t feel it’s cheating when I can figure out the answers from your hints!
    Thank you. X

    1. Welcome from me too.
      Nothing is cheating as far as I’m concerned – well done if you can figure out the answers from the hints – if you can’t it probably means that the hint isn’t good enough!
      If you don’t understand something then all you need to do is ask – someone will reply really quickly.
      Please keep commenting.

    2. Hello from me too Jessebaby.

      I have rules about cheating.

      Rule one. There are no rules.
      Rule two. If in doubt see rule one.

      Howsoever you get there a completed grid wlil give you satisfaction.. The level of satisfaction will increase as you throw away the crutches you use to get you there..

      Good luck on your travels.

  28. I found this one trickier than usual and decided that some of the reason was the grid that has many un-checked first letters. It did take longer to complete than the Toughie. Not sure about who the setter might be. As Thursday is when we do often get Shamus puzzles he must be top candidate for attribution but I still have some doubts about whether we are seeing his style of clues. If it is he, we can be pretty sure he will acknowledge it.
    I enjoyed the solve.
    Thanks Mr Ron and Kath.
    PS I think the pic in 3d is actually St Basil’s in Red Square in Moscow.

    1. Damn – I did have a bit of an ‘iffy’ moment but thought no-one had noticed.
      I’ve never been to 3d or Moscow but felt a bit generally uneasy about this one.
      Much as I always hate to blame anyone else for my mistakes if I ask the nice and helpful Mr Google Images for a picture of something I do tend to trust him.
      Sorry everyone.
      PS – If in doubt blame Kath, as the saying goes.

      1. I put Tennyson instead of Longfellow way back. Or the other way around. Somebody spotted it but my fault entirely. We are mere mortals when all said and done.

  29. I must admit that I was in two minds whether or not to brave this one but having solved two of the long clues the supertoy and I soldiered on and too my amazement found that I had filled in all the little squares. No particular favourite,and thanks to Kath and the setter.

  30. Quite enjoyed today’s crossword. Still don’t understand 16d but that’s just me. Noticed typo in 26a.

    1. OK – 16d. It caused trouble for me too – I’m not a card player.
      I think it might be a case of work out the answer and then go backwards from there.
      A word that means held in admiration, esteemed or revered. You need to find a synonym for any or all of those three.
      Having done that you should look up the first six letters of the answer – the last two come from the first letters of E(very) D(uty).
      I hope that helps.

  31. Definitely *** for difficulty, with one or two I didn’t fully understand to boot, the rower’s benches being chief amongst them. One or two mistakes made and corrected along the way, which is one advantage of solving online. No messy grid. If this was the Toughie I would have been looking for a Nina with a grid like that, but there doesn’t appear to be one.

    1. Very unappealing looking grid, I thought (if there is such a thing), certainly does not help with solving the puzzle.

  32. I was all set to agree with CS et al about the wrong envelope day … but then went and found Samuel rather harder than I expected to.

    So instead I am with Kath in having a slow day! Early night tonight to catch up on some missed sleep.

    Other than a lucky spot at 3d, all Kath’s italics applied to me too.

    Didn’t notice the typoo. I feel sorry for the editor!

    Thanks to the setter (I’ll bet on Shamus, just for fun rather than being based on much more than me struggling with a few) and to Kath for her signature-style review.

    For 5d:

    1. Oh, thank you so much for that! Love his music, Vincent and American Pie are other faves.

  33. Agree with all who say how much more enjoyable (and do-able) the Toughie is.

  34. Toughest one I’ve come across in a while, or maybe I was in the wrong mood. Slightly more difficult than it was rewarding, therefore: ****/***

  35. Thanks to everyone for the comments today – I’m glad that I wasn’t the only one to find it a bit tricky.
    I don’t do too well on lack of sleep – I’ve averaged just under five hours per night over the last three and consequently feel justified in saying, “Night, night, sleep tight and mind the bugs don’t bite”. :yawn:

  36. Well I a) enjoyed it and B) didn’t find it too taxing and c) was pleased to see that it wasn’t a RayT challenge. I don’t think I could have faced him tonight – it’s extremely taxing producing the Daily Newspaper of the Year every day/night. I’ll plump for 15a as best double definition I’ve seen for ages but 15d gets my vote as top trump. Thanks to Kath, who seems to be getting about as much sleep as me these days, and our mystery setter, who I don’t think was Shamus. 2*/4*

  37. Had to finish this one off this morning as very busy day and evening yesterday.

    Got through it with my usual mixture of bung-ins and parsings, but could not manage 1d or 8a without the hints.

    Thanks to Kath for her much needed parsings and hints and to the setter.

  38. Found this one very tricky and have only just finished it. Never heard of that painter, but I could work out the answer and I didn’t know the rowers’ benches, but I do now.
    4*/4* for me, but I ground it out. I liked 1d, 9a with 16d being my favourite..

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