DT 28416 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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DT 28416

Daily Telegraph Cryptic No 28416

Hints and tips by Mr Kitty

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BD Rating  - Difficulty **/*** - Enjoyment ****


Hello everyone, and welcome to another Tuesday crossword.  Today we have a puzzle both packed with smooth surfaces and mostly free of obscurities (I did have to look up one answer, but I’m foreign and English history was not a big part of my education).  There are a couple of new-to-me clue constructions that provided an enjoyable parsing challenge.  Based on those familiar ingredients, I’m going to stick my neck out and suggest that this is the work of Mister Ron.  Bearing in mind  his comments from a fortnight ago, I counted the number of unique letters employed and got 18, so perhaps today is a warm-up for an assault on the minimum letter count record?

Several comments on Saturday’s blog complained about the verbing of nouns such as medal and podium and decried them as unwelcome Americanisms.  As an American I felt somewhat aggrieved by that discussion, and so I’ve been researching the origins of medalling and podiuming.  First, I used Google’s Ngram Viewer to get historical occurrence rates in printed literature of the American “medaled” versus the English “medalled”.  Click on the spoiler box to see the data.

Click for historical usage data of "medalled", "medaled" and "to medal"

Click on the chart to open it in Google Ngram Viewer


Well, that was a surprise.  To make sense of it, all one has to do is, if I may verb a noun, to Google.  One soon finds that the steady rise of “medalled” shown in the chart began with a 1822 letter from Lord Byron to Sir Walter Scott (3rd paragraph).  The verb then grew steadily in popularity, appearing, for example, in the works of Thackeray and of Disraeli (4th paragraph in Chapter 8).  There’s certainly been a recent uptick in usage of all three verb forms of medal, presumably due to the televising of the Olympics and similar events, but it appears questionable at best to pin the verbing of medal on America.  Turning to podium, the consensus is that its rise as a verb began with a 1992 article in an Australian newspaper.  You can find the details in this article from the New York Times, which also demonstrates that folks on this side of the pond get just as spun up about such things.  Finally, I learned some of the history given above from this column in the Guardian.  In it, the author also points out that the 1950 edition of the Manchester Guardian stylebook forbade the use of such Americanisms as balding, boost, call on the telephone, teen-ager, and top secret!  It’s clear that battles over language purity have been being waged and lost for many years.

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.  Clicking on a picture will enlarge it.  Please leave a comment telling us how you got on.



1a    Love black fish aroma approaching the sell-by date? (11)
OBSOLESCENT:  A charade of the usual letter associated with the tennis score love, the single-letter abbreviation for black, a flat fish, and a synonym of aroma.

7a    Magic turn (5)
SPELL:  Double definition, both nouns.

8a    Set up mother with part in performance (9)
RIGMAROLE:  Link together a three-letter setup, the shortest informal term for mother, and a part in a play.

10a   Mean to declare true time (7)
AVERAGE:  A verb meaning to declare true, followed by a long time.

11a   Go back on something nice (7)
RETREAT:  Another charade.  This time we’re to follow a usual word for on or concerning with a word meaning something nice.

12a   Beg daughter to enter enclosure (5)
CADGE:  The abbreviation for daughter is placed inside (to enter) an animal enclosure (at the zoo, perhaps).

13a   Charge around area followed by gold flashing light (9)
INDICATOR:  A synonym for charge in the legal sense, containing (around) the abbreviation for area, and followed by the usual abbreviation from heraldry for gold.

16a   Sailor falls trapping animal, and gives up (9)
ABDICATES:  One of crosswordland’s usual sailors, followed by a word meaning falls (in a very final way) that contains (trapping) the favourite animal of the Tuesday bloggers and of Mrs Ron.

18a   Country's friend (5)
CHINA:  A double definition.  The second is a usual suspect derived from Cockney rhyming slang.

19a   Sat shaking after dance? This could be heavy! (7)
BALLAST:  A formal dance, followed by an anagram (shaking) of SAT.

22a   Stomach terribly bad portent (7)
ABDOMEN:  An anagram (terribly) of BAD, followed by a portent or sign of things to come.

23a   Slow cattle run around (9)
RELUCTANT:  An anagram (around) of CATTLE RUN.

24a   Number three's in a mess (5)
ETHER:  An anagram (in a mess) of THREE.  If you haven’t seen this one before, read number as a noun with a silent B, and then recall how in crosswordland flower can mean river because it’s something that flows. In a similar way, a number could be .....

25a   Criminal class looted holiday place (5,3,3)
COSTA DEL SOL:  An anagram (criminal) of CLASS LOOTED.



1d    Old writer finished without deadline (4-5)
OPEN-ENDED:  A charade of the abbreviation for old, something you can write with, and a synonym of finished.

2d    Rescue original piece of valuable silver found in auction (7)
SALVAGE:  The first letter (original piece) of Valuable and the chemical symbol for silver inserted into (found in) a noun synonym of auction.  The picture shows the recovery of MV Tricolor, which sank in the English Channel laden with 3000 luxury cars.  It was sliced into nine sections for lifting.

3d    Thief's run inside as client worked (9)
LARCENIST:  An anagram (worked) of AS CLIENT with the cricket abbreviation for run inserted (inside).

4d    Tease you and me over term of endearment (5)
SUGAR:  The reversal (over) of a (3,2) phrase meaning “tease you and me”.

5d    Feel a stick-in-the-mud's somewhat flexible (7)
ELASTIC:  The answer is lurking in part (somewhat) of the clue.

6d    Every now and then, stubborn veggie finally gets something meaty (1-4)
T-BONE:  “Now and then” suggests something alternating.  Here it’s being part of an instruction to take the even letters (every now and then) of sTuBbOrN.  Do that, and then append the last letter (finally) of veggiE.

7d    Court in celebrity bedroom (4,7)
STAR CHAMBER:  Link together simple synonyms of celebrity and of bedroom.  To understand this one I had to look up this old English court of law in Wikipedia.

9d    Record and somehow retain performer (11)
ENTERTAINER:  Record in a logbook, for example, followed by an anagram (somehow) of RETAIN.

14d   Destroy detective's cover (9)
DISMANTLE:  One of our usual detectives, with the ‘S from the clue, followed by an archaic term for a cloak.

15d   Victorious president holds one in thrall on a regular basis (9)
TRIUMPHAL:  Insert the first Roman numeral into the president who does things bigly, and then append the even letters (on a regular basis) of tHrAlL.

17d   Risks part of church abandoning liberal son (7)
CHANCES:   The part of a church around the altar, minus (abandoning) the single letter abbreviation for Liberal, and followed by the abbreviation for son.  Either there’s a typo in the clue (liberal instead of Liberal) or the convention about not decapitalising proper nouns is being violated here.

18d   Gets thicker after what's chewed sticks (7)
CUDGELS:  What cows chew, followed by a verb meaning gets thicker or forms a wobbly kind of solid.

20d   Ring up about painter's third colour (5)
LILAC:  Reverse (up, in a down clue) a synonym of ring (on the telephone) and insert the third letter of paInter

21d   Qataris discovered broken crown (5)
TIARA:  An anagram (broken) of the inner letters (dis-covered) of qATARIs.


Thanks to the setter for a fun solve and for an introduction to some new clueing devices.  Smiles throughout, and I particularly enjoyed 6d and 21d for the satisfaction derived from managing, after some pondering, to parse their word play.  Of the two, 6d comes out on top because of the smooth surface.  Which clues did you like best?


The Quick Crossword pun:  WHINE+SELLER=WINE CELLAR

69 comments on “DT 28416

  1. 2*/4*. Most of this very enjoyable puzzle slotted in quite smoothly with just a handful of clues needing a bit more cogitation. Lovely to see such concise but accurate cluing and my guess is that this is the handiwork of Mister Ron.

    With neither a bad clue nor an obscurity to be seen and some great words like the answers to 8a, 3d & 18d, double ticks went to 1a, 8a (my favourite) & 24a.

    Many thanks to Mister Ron and Mr K.

    1. Good to see that our resident statistician has been hard at work again and I’ve just read his statistical analysis about “verbing”.

      On the basis that statistics never lie :wink: , I surrender.

  2. I know it’s Tuesday, but felt like a Monday crossword( thought it was Mr Ron ) and a straight forward enjoyable solve for me ,put down */*** on completion.
    No outstanding clues,21d my favourite.
    Loved Kr Kitty’s pics, especially 3d- brilliant

  3. 21d my favourite clue in this excellent and quite friendly puzzle from Mr Ron. As others have mentioned, this was beautifully clued with some really smooth surfaces. No obscurities, no wasted words and superbly concise. This was 1.5*/4* for me, with many thanks to the aforementioned and to Mr K for his review and statistics.

  4. Having just packed D2 off to do her ‘elective’ on a Far Eastern paradise island, I turned to this very accommodating puzzle. Enjoyed solving it and agree with RD’s rating almost at **/***. Ne’er a rough edge in sight and just the thing before settling down to some work. Thank you Setter and Mr Kitty for your penetrating comments which manage to be fun at the same time.
    One clue that I lobbed into the gaggle of young people in the house, was 24a because I knew it would get them thinking and might stump them (it did) and would also give them a taste of the mix of ‘penny-drop’ and self-kicking that we all know so well. The self-kicking supplied by them knowing the fodder of the obvious anagram but simply not being able to think laterally enough. Well, we all have a recruitment job to do… would hate to see the demise of the Cryptic for lack of new entrants to the art-form.

  5. Fairly straight forward and enjoyable, although I did need Mr Kitty’s help to understand the answers for 6d & 21d. Favourites 1a & 15d. 2*/3* Many thanks to the two Misters.

  6. Well, I have come across ‘number’ before, but took the whole puzzle to remember it (last one in). I was very slow to find a way in today, but enjoyed it in the end. Impressive bit of research on the Americanisms Mr K, liked the Bowie, but found the cat in a tiara somewhat sinister!

      1. Now you mention it, that’s probably what was at the back of my mind Jane!

        1. After browsing through many such pictures on the internet, it would appear that no cat looks happy when made to wear a 21d.

  7. Feeling compelled to own up to learning two new things. The answer to 1a and the similar word ending in ‘ete’ do not mean precisely the same thing and 14d can have a far more devastating result than I’d given it credit for!

    Quite happy to go along with the Mister Ron notion for this fun puzzle and applaud him for producing one of the best clues I’ve seen pertaining to the new president of the USA.
    Ticks alongside 2,7 & 15d with the laurels going to 8a.

    Thanks to Mister Ron and to Mr. K for a great blog. It would seem, from your industrious homework, that many nations have had a hand in the verbing of nouns. Fair enough – but I still don’t like it!

  8. Really enjoyable.
    I started off thinking it was going to be a tricky one but then changed my mind.
    I was slow to get 1a which meant that I didn’t have first letters for lots of the down clues but those down clues gave me enough checkers to ‘see’ 1a.
    Until I got down to the bottom of the across clues I thought we were going to have very few anagrams but then five happened all at once.
    Lots of good clues – not a single dud. I particularly liked 1 and 13a and 2 and 14d. My favourite could be any of 8a and 6 and 21d.
    With thanks to whoever set today’s crossword and to Mr Kitty – no deadlines today, I assume!
    At the risk of being dim I don’t understand what’s meant by minimum letter count.

    1. Hi, Kath. In my blog two weeks ago I included a histogram showing how often a given number of unique letters occurs in the answer grid on the back page. The maximum is the 26 of a pangram, and the minimum so far is 17. In the comment I hyperlinked to above, Mister Ron seemed to express an interest in trying to break that record.

      1. Hmm – I’m a simple soul and I think I’ll probably just carry on enjoying the crosswords as I have done for a long time but thanks for your response.
        To quote a very good friend of mine when she doesn’t really understand something, “I prefer not to clutter my brain with that.”

        1. Hear, hear Kath – histogram, letter count etc. – I prefer not to clutter my brain with such as that. 😰

          1. I agree that the quality of the puzzle is paramount. I just admire a setter who can come up with a brilliant puzzle subject to some constraint like using a limited number of different letters, or including a nina, or adhering to a theme.

            1. But has the setter actually contrived to only use 18 different letters? Couldn’t it be just pure coincidence? That’s a genuine question – I’m not trying to be “clever” or sarcastic.

              1. I’ve just read the setter’s comment (18, below) and it seems it was pure coincidence. Sorry for asking an unnecessary question.

  9. Another lovely Tuesday offering with lots to like.
    22a was COTD for me with 8a 12a I haven’t heard for what seems like a long time.
    Thanks to Mister Ron (the soutce of the Tuesday goodies) and Mr K. I don’t understand the reference to rivers in the hint for 24a.
    Don’t fully agree with the analysis of “medalled” as I think “medalled” in the context you use is wearing of rather than “to medal” meaning winning one.

    1. I think the reference to rivers in the hint for 24a is encouraging us to think of a river as a flower in the sense that it’s something that flows in the same way that a number is something that can numb.

      1. Yep, that’s what I had in mind, hoping it would still allow the penny to drop for those who hadn’t seen that number before.

    2. :) In the Byron example, medalled could mean wearing medals. But in Thackeray’s “Irving went home medalled by the King” I’d say it means having won medals.

  10. After yesterday’s head scratcher from Rufus, back to a straightforward solve today, completed at a fast gallop – */***.

    Three candidates for favourite – 1a, 22a, and 7d; and the winner is 1a. I know some solvers don’t like ‘lego’ clues, but I thought that this was very good.

    Thanks to the setter and Mr K.

    1. I don’t like a lot of Lego clues which are often convoluted with strained surfaces. However 1a today is an absolute cracker. :good:

  11. Thanks to messers Ron and Kitty. A very well constructed puzzle, most enjoyable. 5d was really well hidden, I got the answer, but needed the hints to parse. Liked 8a, but my favourite was 18d. Last in was 9d. Was 2*/4* for me.

  12. Nice and straightforward */*** 😃 Despite everyone’s best efforts still bemused by 24a 🤔 My last one in. Favourite 22a Thanks to Mr K and to Mr Ron 🤗

    1. Hi Jaylegs,
      The substance at 24a might be given to numb one’s senses prior to an operation. The answer is an anagram of THREE.

    2. I think the chap in the picture looks as if he’s trying to murder his patient.

  13. Quite enjoyable, my only complaint being it didn’t last very long. 1*/3* for me. Enjoyable clues but no particular favourite today.

  14. Enjoyable and straightforward solve today – lucky because there are lots of other things I should be doing. 24a, 21d my favourites, especially as I often struggle with the shorter answers.

  15. Great crossword but at first look I was very slow, but on returning from my Probus meeting inspiration flowed. Thank you Kitty I had no idea as to the reason ether was the answer to24 across! Thank you to the setter.

    1. It’s Mr Kitty you should really be thanking today, Jen – though, since it was I who introduced him to cryptics and whipped him into shape, I’ll happily take the odd crumbs of thanks that accidentally come my way! :)

  16. Polished this off in two entertaining sessions – first over breakfast and now over lunch but help was needed to parse 21a, 4d and 6d – d’oh, d’oh and d’ oh! Fav was 24a. Thank you Messrs. Ron and Kitty.

  17. Thanks for the write-up, and for the comments so far. It’s always nice to see that a puzzle has been generally well-received.

    I’ve particularly enjoyed the pictures in today’s blog — cats and Bowie, always a good combination. The puzzle was set before I gave myself the challenge of using very few distinct letters in a puzzle, but 18 isn’t bad considering it wasn’t intended!

    1. Thanks very much for popping in, and many thanks for such a great puzzle to enjoy.

    2. Thanks for dropping in, thanks for the kind comments about the blog, and, of course, thanks for the excellent crossword.

    3. Good to hear from you, Mister Ron.
      I wonder how few letters you are aiming for in the challenge!

  18. This was an entertaining puzzle. Some very nice clues all eminently solvable and I liked 1 and 19a in particular. The latter is my fave. 2/3* overall.
    Thanks to Mister Ron, and to Mr K for the review and education.

  19. Having recovered from an energetic day in Padstow luckily not nursing a hangover.
    A really cracking puzzle today ether and cudgel held me up for awhile but still excellent.
    Thanks to Mr Kitty and Mr Ron great blog and puzzle.

  20. Good afternoon everybody.

    Mostly straightforward with just a handful of stragglers holding things up a little. Couldn’t fathom the justification of 24a at all but having read the hint three times I now see it was me being more than usually dim.


    1. I wasn’t sure how much to put in the hint for 24a. But since a few commenters have said that what I had wasn’t enough to get it at a first read, I’ve now added a few more words.

      1. It rather surprised me that so many folk fell foul of that one. I’m sure we’ve seen the answer many times before so I wondered whether it was the fact of it being an anagram that caught them out?

        1. Yes, that could be. Or perhaps my convoluted hint just made things more confusing?

  21. On Beeb R4 this lunchtime (during a programme about the psychology of people carrying out charitable acts to improve their own social standing) heard the term ‘to peacock’. E.g. ‘at least they can’t be found peacocking on social media’.

    1. Thanks, Toadson, I did not know about that example of verbing. Seems that it’s everywhere these days.

    2. While not a fan of verbing, and never heard this used, I can think of someone of someone over this side of the pond who fits that phrase 😉

  22. I really enjoyed this and found it pleasantly misleading a lot of the time.
    Like 18d , I’m getting thicker.
    Favourite ? I can’t pick between 22a, 8a, 2d and many others.
    Thanks to Mr Ron and Mr Kitty.

  23. This was so enjoyable, from start to finish.
    Last in was 14d, first in 1a. I like when I solve the first clue, gives me confidence.
    I’m going for 7d as fave, ‘cos I remembered it, must have been nearly 70 years ago when I learnt it at school! Others that deserve a mention were 8a and 25a.
    Thanks to Mister Ron and to Mr. Kitty, for the hints and the most interesting lesson.

  24. 6d blew me away. Not in a 1000 years would I have understood this obvious answer.
    What kind of mind can think up clues like that!
    Apart from that pretty much a R&W for me but fun for all that, loved 5d.
    Thx to all

  25. Lovely puzzle indeed. I’d had a few spoilers by the time I got round to this, but still enjoyed going through it and filling in all the blanks.

    Thanks to Mister Ron for the puzzle, and for the appearance here, and thanks to the other 9d too.

  26. Really good fun and we did pick the setter correctly too. We’re looking forward to the minimum word challenge puzzles. We think that the bar should be set somewhere about 10 letters in the first instance and then see where it can go from there. If the editorial staff at the DT get a bit antsy about this then perhaps the NTSPP could be a forum for the challenge. Let’s see what happens from here.
    Thanks Mister Ron and Mr K.

  27. An enjoyable, straightforward puzzle – a most definite * for difficulty, **** for enjoyment. First in 1ac, last in 14d.

  28. Enjoyable, thanks Mr. Ron, but this was one those days when I was not sufficiently confident of my answer to fill it in (I use a pen) for several clues. Had to verify first with Mr. Kitty’s hints. Thanks for the lovely cat thief picture, sending on to eldest daughter as she has a adopted a black feral, plus his mum and brother.

    19a – I always forget about cockney for friend. Any fans of Wheeler Dealers out there? Disappointed that Ed China is leaving the series, doubt we will continue watching. He even made car repair interesting to me, who only knows how to help bleed the brakes from years ago.

  29. What a great crossword.
    The LHS went in very quickly, but the RHS was much more challenging. I don’t know why, it was either harder or my brain seized up. Probably the latter.
    15d was my favourite, but a bit unfair to single out one clue in such a great crossword.
    Thanks Mister Ron and Mister Kitty.

  30. A late solve thanks to each of us having a golf match (mine at 08.30 and Mrs Sheffieldsy’s an early evening 9-holer), then the pub quiz. We solved it fairly easily but found it very agreeable – 1.5*/3*. Could have been 4* for enjoyment but the grid had lots of black and therefore fewer clues than normal.

    Favourite was 22a with 21d a close second

    Thanks to Mr K and Mr Ron.

  31. I made this difficult for myself by writing 9d in 7d (I start with the down clues) and it took a while to register as I worked my up the across section, putting a* on my solving time. That’s what comes of doing the crossword on a shoogly train. However all that aside, I thought it beautifully clued, not too tricky and good fun, so thanks to Mister R and to the bafflingly diligent Mr K. Having been unable to post on the subject of using nouns as verbs the other day you have been spared what would undoubtedly have been an extended rant. And don’t get me started on uptick …
    BTW The new Times Style Guide is published in paperback form (although I don’t know how civilians can get hold of a copy – I’ll ask) and it’s not only very useful, but also hugely entertaining. Highly recommended

    1. Sorry for uptick, spun up, and any other foreign terms in the intro. I do strive to always use British English here, but I wanted to write those paragraphs of the intro as an American.

      I’d love to see the Times Style Guide. I just discovered its Guardian counterpart online ( https://www.theguardian.com/info/series/guardian-and-observer-style-guide ) through the column I referenced in the intro. Also useful and also hilarious. There’s no entry for medal in it, but just above the place where it would have been listed appears:

      Meat Loaf

      doesn’t sing

      1. Times guide says: “meatloaf, the minced meat dish; Meat Loaf, the substantial rock musician”. It too is silent on medalled.

  32. A pleasant early morning solve for me today – albeit a day late. Most slipped in very nicely with SE corner last to fall. Once I had 18d the rest followed. 24a could only be one thing but had to look at Mr Kitty’s hint to get the parsing. I don’t think I would have worked it out for myself, but I won’t get caught out by that one again. Now enjoying reading the comments. Thanks setter, Mr K and all

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