DT 28512 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
View closed comments 

DT 28512

Daily Telegraph Cryptic No 28512

Hints and tips by Mr Kitty

+ - + - + - + - + - + - + - +

BD Rating  -  Difficulty *** Enjoyment ***


Hello, everyone.  For me, today's puzzle was about average difficulty for a Tuesday back page and it delivered the expected number of penny drops and smiles.  So on the BD scale of one to five I'm giving it three stars for both difficulty and enjoyment.

This paragraph has some crossword statistics.  Readers not interested in such things may click to jump to the Across or Down Hints, the Quickie Pun, or the Comments.  On Sunday's blog there was a discussion about whether 32 was the largest number of clues seen in a back-page puzzle.  I think it's interesting to understand the constraints that our setters operate under, so I investigated that question.  The short answer is that the number of clues in back page crosswords since 2001 has ranged from 26 to 42.  For the long answer, complete with charts and data, click the expandable spoiler box.

Click here for histograms of the number of clues in back-page puzzles

Here is a histogram showing the distribution of the number of clues in all back-page puzzles since November 2001.  Click to enlarge these charts.

So, 28, 30, and 32 are the most common number of clues in a back-page puzzle.  This histogram zooms in on the relatively small number of puzzles that have contained more than 32 clues:

So far, 42 is the maximum number of clues used in a back-page puzzle.  The most recent example is DT 100007, which appeared on Christmas Day 2015.  Remarkably, that 42-clue grid (shown below) included two 15-letter answers.

At the other end of the distribution, 26-clue puzzles are not uncommon:  in recent weeks DT 28476 (11 July 2017) and DT 28485 (21 July 2017) both had only 26 clues.

These clue count distributions reflect an underlying distribution of the set of grid patterns that the Telegraph allows its setters to use.  I will probably have more to say about that in a week or two.

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    Give Commanding Officer salute with unknown number involved (10)
CONTRIBUTE:  A usual letter for an unknown number inserted into (with ….involved) the concatenation of the abbreviation for Commanding Officer and a salute or homage

6a    Troublesome situation created by return of moderate Conservatives (4)
STEW:  The answer is found by reversing (created by return of) a derogatory term coined by Margaret Thatcher for Conservatives who disagreed with some of her policies.

9a    Extremely glad to eat our fruit (5)
GOURD:  The outer letters (extremely) of GlaD containing (to eat) OUR

10a   I dash back with money to purchase old habit (9)
TRADITION:  Start by joining I from the clue to a four-letter synonym of dash.  Then reverse that object (back), and append (with) a slang term for money that contains (to purchase) the abbreviation for old.

12a   Most difficult dart he's thrown (7)
HARDEST:  An anagram (thrown) of DART HE'S

13a   Jobs for Poles (5)
POSTS:  A double definition.  Poles has been capitalised to mislead the solver – these poles might be made of wood.

15a   Trouble with method that should follow right lines (7)
RAILWAY:  Put synonyms of trouble and of method after (that should follow) the abbreviation for right

17a   Bird table with nothing in it (7)
ROOSTER:  A table assigning duties contains (with …. in it) the letter that looks like zero (nothing)

19a   Resent a drunk getting sober (7)
EARNEST:  An anagram (drunk) of RESENT A

21a   Perhaps Carmen then regularly avoided work (7)
OPERATE:  The musical form of which Carmen is an example (perhaps), followed by ThEn without its even letters (regularly avoided)

22a   Coarse grass restricts runs (5)
HARSH:  Another slang name for marijuana contains (restricts) the cricket abbreviation for runs

24a   You're looking for these responses (7)
ANSWERS:  A part-cryptic double definition.  The first is what you're looking for when solving the puzzle.

27a   For instance, boxers inferior to women are unusual (9)
UNDERWEAR:  Glue together a preposition meaning "inferior to", the abbreviation for women, and an anagram (unusual) of ARE

28a   Hitting lob, Edberg nets ball (5)
GLOBE:  The first three words in the clue are hiding (nets) the answer

29a   Bring in vase, by the sound of it (4)
EARN:  A homophone (by the sound of it) of a type of vase

30a   Mark Twain, say, used this? (10)
TYPEWRITER:  A synonym of mark or variety, followed by the type of artist that Twain is an example of (say).  Since Mark Twain did indeed use a 30a the definition is the entire clue, which makes this a clever semi-all-in-one clue.



1d    Lock up composer (4)
CAGE:  A double definition.  The composer is perhaps best known for 4'33''Here's a death metal version of that composition

2d    A Turing -- he cracked what could be more difficult (9)
NAUGHTIER:  An anagram (cracked) of A TURING HE

3d    Passenger, Irish from the South, turned crimson (5)
RIDER:  Glue together the reversal (from the South in a down clue) of the abbreviation for Irish, and the reversal (turned) of the primary colour of which crimson is a shade

4d    Treat criminal in neighbouring cell (7)
BATTERY:  An anagram (criminal) of TREAT inserted into (in) a preposition meaning neighbouring.

5d    18 for field trip? (7)
TRACTOR:  A form of 18d suitable for driving across a farmer's field

7d    Gets little bits of wood (5)
TWIGS:  A double definition.  The little bits of wood come from a tree.

8d    Engineer screwed in new part of car (10)
WINDSCREEN:  An anagram (engineer) of SCREWED IN and N(ame).

11d   Progress seen in this writer's show (7)
IMPROVE:  A contraction of "this writer's" seen from the setter's perspective, followed by a synonym of show or verify

14d   Coveting top of hill by river as suitable place for plants (10)
GREENHOUSE:  Link together the colour associated with envy, the first letter (top of in a down clue) of Hill, and a Sussex (or Yorkshire) river that's a favourite of our setters

16d   If that man enters outskirts of Wainfleet, that woman's following (7)
WHETHER:  A pronoun for "that man" goes inside (enters) the outer letters (outskirts) of WainfleeT, followed by (…'s following) a pronoun for "that woman"

18d   Bear managed small drink after end of jaunt (9)
TRANSPORT:  After the last letter of (end of) jaunT, assemble a usual synonym of managed, the abbreviation for small, and a fortified wine

20d   Attempt to catch ancient play (7)
TRAGEDY:  A three-letter attempt contains (to catch) an adjective meaning ancient

21d   Watch over bishop and perform duties (7)
OBSERVE:  Concatenate the cricket abbreviation for over, the chess abbreviation for bishop, and a verb meaning "perform duties"

23d   It detects signals from north and south (5)
RADAR:  From north and south in a down clue tells us that we are looking for a palindrome.  This one detects signals that measure the position of, for example, an aeroplane

25d   Keen, for example, to roll up and be entertained by organ (5)
EAGER:  Take the Latin abbreviation for "for example" and reverse it (to roll up).  That's then inserted into (… be entertained by) the organ that listens

26d   Expensive honey (4)
DEAR:  A double definition.  Honey here is a term of endearment.


Thanks to today’s setter for a fun solve.  My favourite is 16d.  Which clues did you like best?


The Quick Crossword pun:  PAY+PER+WAITS=PAPERWEIGHTS


63 comments on “DT 28512

  1. 1.5*/3*. Light but enjoyable fare today with 30a my last one in and favourite.

    Many thanks to Mr Ron for the entertainment and to Mr Kitty for the review and interesting histogram on number of clues in the back-pagers.

  2. **/*** for me. Super surface readings on just about every clue. Well done Mr Ron and thanks Mr Kitty. Fave 18d for the picture it created in my mind – a million miles from the answer.

  3. I see that once again we have a setter who seems to think that N represents an unknown number – if you don’t know the difference between unknown and indefinite then don’t use it as a clue construct.

    1. Seconded! I was looking for a word ending in ‘y’, or with an ‘x’ or ‘y’ in it.
      Thanks to Mr Kitty, the setter and BD for the blog. Agree with ***/*** rating.
      I was pipped at the post here, I was seconding BD’s comment

    2. It didn’t cause me a problem, because I can’t remember the difference between unknown and indefinite, I shall have to google it!!
      A level maths seems a long time ago.

    3. It didn’t bother me because I typically use x, y, and z for unknowns that can be anything, and n and m for unknowns that are integer.

  4. 2*/3* for this pretty straightforward Tuesday morning offering. 22a amused but 30a my COTD.

    Thanks to the Tuesday setter and Mr K.

  5. Straightforward enough, but took a little longer than usual, so it’s a **/*** from me.

    Are we going to have a discussion about the use of N for unknown in 1a? I recall we had one in the past but don’t remember the outcome! ::Edit:: Big Dave beat me to it!

    COTD 4d for reasons I just can’t fathom.

    Many thanks to the setter and Mr Kitty.

  6. A really enjoyable puzzle solved with a slight hangover after last nights staff night in. This took longer than normal with the top clues being last to reveal themselves. Every clue was a winner for me. lots of smiles along the way. Thanks very much to our setter today and thanks to our cataholic hinty person especially for the clip at 1d which took me too long to work out.

  7. Lovely crossword today.
    Thanks to Mr.K for explaining the Mark Twain reference, I bunged it in, but it makes perfect sense now (I did spend ages trying to make ‘pseudonym’ 10 letters long!!)
    I enjoyed the misdirection at 27a.
    Last in was 10a, I forgot the reference to ‘money’ yet again.
    Fav was 23d, though I suspect it is an old chestnut for the more experienced.
    Ta Mr. K and Mr. Ron.

  8. Not going to guess despite the Irish passenger staring me in the face but, whoever set this one, it was a fun solve.

    Particularly liked the clever 30a and the mental image conjured up by 18d of Yogi swigging from a bottle found in one of the stolen ‘pic-er-nic’ baskets but I saved the top spot for 16d – that must have taken some serious thought by the setter.

    Many thanks to Mr Ron and to Mr K for a great blog. The DIY cat and the clever clogs Siamese were hilarious and I’m always in awe of the type of art shown in your pic for 15a (I know there’s a correct term for it but I’m blessed if I can remember it!). Think the clip at 1d is perhaps as much as I’d want to hear from that particular band…….

    Fascinating stats today – obvious with hindsight but I hadn’t thought about how much the figures must be affected by the grids ‘allowed’ by editors.

  9. After completion of this fairly straightforward puzzle I wondered why I struggled today. There were several fine clues- 1a, 14d,27a but I liked 30a best. I wonder whether children read Mark Twain anymore. Both my grandchildren are fond of books but neither has heard of Tom Sawyer or Huckleberry Finn. It is all Harry Potter and super heros now.

  10. Just wanted to say how much I enjoyed the death metal clip. Let’s have more in the future!

  11. Not happy with some of the cluing today ,thought 10a was somewhat clumsy in its construction and green for coveting took liberties.
    Fine apart from these.
    Liked 27a , as I was nicely mislead with boxers , which I assumed were dogs and nearly put underdogs as the answer.
    Going for a **/***.
    Thanks Mr Kitty, loved the pic for 25a-is it a Siamese ?

  12. Thanks to the setter and to Mr Kitty for the review and hints. I enjoyed this very much, and found it very tricky, especially the top half. I got there in the end. I agree with Big Dave about 1a. Last in and favourite was 4d. Was 3*/3* for me.

  13. Hmmm. Unlike most people I really struggled with this. Tuesday’s puzzle is not my favourite at the best of times , a wavelength thing I think. Ah well, I can always blame it on Coming back after a three week transiberian jaunt , having left a lot of the little grey cells overseas!

  14. I enjoyed this and, for once, didn’t have much trouble with any of it – there’s usually at least one answer, and often more, that cause grief.
    My last few were 1a and 4 and 16d.
    Most of the ones that I particularly liked seem to be the simpler ones – 9 and 22a and 14d. My favourite was 26d.
    Thanks to whoever set today’s crossword and to Mr K.

  15. up and running I can get the telegraph crossword now all is well with the world, thank you to all who helped me

  16. Quite tricky but fair enough I thought. 2/3* overall and my fave was 4d.
    Thanks to the Setter, and to that mine of information Mr K for his review and info and kitty pix. Excellent stuff.

  17. Tricky wth some super clues but unfortunately marred by the inclusion of clues such as 19a (sober=earnest not either way in the BRB), 15a, 4d and 11d. All weak and needing leaps of faith, not to my taste. However, I loved 27a (my COTD) and 30a.
    For me ***/**
    Could someone remind me what the slang for money is in 10a, damned if I can see it nor can Mrs B.
    Thx to all

    1. Who in their right mind uses Tin for money these days. Clearly crossword setters but does anyone else?

    2. Using the BRB and cross referencing – both words are given as synonyms for “serious”. That was how I understood it and have just checked.

    1. Welcome from me too, Harry, and good catch. I have corrected the clue.

      I also missed that typo when preparing my blog, where the clues are imported directly from the puzzle site and not typed in by hand. I wonder if the missing letter is hard to spot because in many fonts progess and progress are almost the same length on the page?

    2. I did and googled it just in case! Could not believe there were two spelling mistakes in a couple of days! However, missed it first or even second time of reading as I did the other one. This proves the theory that you read what you want to and why we can read whole paragraphs with the letters mixed up. Good X word. Thanks Mr K – I got 30a but needed your explanation. Last few in were in NE. Do not agree with those (no names no pack drill) who criticised some of the clueing.

  18. Don’t know if this comment is of much interest but for 21d I too quickly entered “Oversee” which parses in terms of what a bishop is “over” , for “watch over” and for “perform duties”. But, OK it doesn’t quite hang together!.

    This meant that I couldn’t get 24a or 27a. But enjoyable- and that’ll teach me. I do enjoy the cat photos!

    And yes I did notice “progess”..

      1. I had the same thought too being familiar with See in the ecclesiastical sense. However, thought it unlikely that Over from the clue would be used in the answer although I think not impossible.

  19. Good puzzle, though I did have a problem parsing some answers. Some seemed too easy, e.g. 24a, and I hesitated to write it in until I had the checkers.
    Very difficult to choose a fave, but I think 30a must be it, particularly the cleverness.
    Thanks to the setter and to Mr. Kitty for the interesting review, particularly the kitties.

      1. There’s more about it in Wikipedia here, where it says the composition “became for Cage the epitome of his idea that any sounds may constitute music”

          1. Thought something had gone wrong with my computer when “playing” the track in the hint.

  20. Mr Kittty,

    This comment relates to your statistical aside rather than to today’s puzzle.
    You obviously have loads of data on the puzzles – do you have any data on the strategies that we solvers use?

    For example, my usual intention is to look at all across clues then all down clues before re-grouping in an attempt to pick off the more obvious “easies”. By this term i mean where there is a good cross check -eg the first letter of an answer, or a rare letter.

    But then, sometimes the answer to a cross clue leads me straight away to look at some of the cross-checking down clues. And so on-sometimes I spend a lot of time in this way without having ever looked at some other regions of the puzzle.

    Then again, sometimes I am waylaid by the enticing shape of some of the answers. Who could not be beguiled by an answer with a shape such as “1,2,3,4” or “5,3,4”. NB I’m not sure if these have ever appeared!

    OK, for me crosswords are an enjoyable relaxation, not a fierce competition with the setter (in contrast with my near obsessive determination to solve the Diabolical Kakuro on Friday), Nonetheless, I wonder if anything is known of crossword solvers’ strategies?

    1. Hi, Ash. I have lots of data on puzzles, but nothing on solvers’ strategies, unfortunately. I’ll think about whether it’s possible to set up some kind of poll to collect such data from blog readers. I did read somewhere advice about starting the solve in the SE, the idea being that a setter reaching the end of the puzzle will be tired and so more likely to create easy clues. But I’ve also read that most setters don’t write clues sequentially, so that may not work.

      (5,4,3) has appeared many times as an answer enumeration in the Telegraph: THREE WISE MEN, BLOWS ONES TOP, WORLD WIDE WEB, and a few others.

      I can’t find enumerations of (1,2,3,4) or even (1,2,3).

      1. I see you said (5,3,4). not (5,4,3). The former enumeration is much more common than the latter. Examples of it include BELOW THE BELT, LAGER AND LIME, SIXTY PER CENT, and GREAT RED SPOT

      2. Thanks Mr Kitty.

        I’d be very interested if such a poll as you suggest yielded anything useful.

        By the way, the “shapes” that I suggested were purely random ideas of mine, not based on any real phrases that I had in mind. Your suggestions are in fact all “5,4,3” not the “5,3,4” that I came up with. Now I just bet that you will come up with some of the latter as well!

        Finally-concerning my point about kakuros and other maths type puzzles -where I find these easier than crosswords. I meet Dutch from time to time in our local and – if I don’t get him wrong – he finds crosswords much easier than kakuros.

        If you do ever make a study of who solves what and how (probably a PhD to go for here) this might constitute another theme.

        Aren’t we getting deep here for a summer Tuesday evening!?

        all the best


  21. Enjoyable offering for today which did not cause me any problem. So I was not the only one to want to use x, y or z for the unknown number in 1a but happily settled for n! Quite a few lovely clues – 27a, 16d, 26d but my favourite was 30a. Needed Mr. Kitty’s review to justify some of my answers so many thanks to him and of course to the setter for a most pleasant tickling of my brain cells! 2*/3.5*. This is for Jean-Luc: sorry we did not come to you to say goodbye for the summer! We will not be back in Hyères before the beginning of November as we shall fly to the States from here for a Great Rail Holiday. Fifi is fine and has grown a lot.

  22. Tricky in places, 1d and 10a were holdups, couldn’t figure cage = composer, and never heard of tin = cash (nor had Mr BL). Both otherwise enjoyable today. Thanks Mr Kitty for hints and pics. Glad to report that our kitty is much better today, and should be able to come home from the hospital end of day on Wednesday, making us happy and our veterinarian richer ☺️ But they are a great practice and we were lucky to find them a few years back. We just have to learn how to do at home dialysis for him.

    1. Wow – that’s the first time I’ve heard of home dialysis for a cat! You must be so happy to have him back with you, I hope it all works out well.

    2. I’m so, so glad your furry friend is coming home. I do hope he continues to get better and better!

    3. That’s great news. I’m sure you and kitty will be much happier once he’s home. I hope he keeps on getting better.

  23. We were tossing up whether to nominate 16d or 30a for favourite and eventually decided on 16d. Another smile all the way through puzzle that we did enjoy.
    Thanks Mr Ron and Mr K.

  24. I wouldn’t say that I found this particularly straightforward while solving, and needed to chisel away clue by clue, but still managed to finish in ** time so not that hard after all. Last in 7d.

  25. An enjoyable ride with just the right amount of challenge. Have to agree with Brian re 19a = sober? (doubtless CS will point to where that is justified!). Have never heard of 1d (composer???!!!) and having run the hint I don’t think I mind if I never hear of him again. Messed up the SW for myself by wrongly settling on rough with a golf cou(a)rse in mind. Thank you Mysteron for fun and BD’s resident statistician for more mind-boggling facts and figures.

    1. Yes, it does. And here’s a typical dictionary explanation:



      1. not affected by alcohol; not drunk.
      synonyms: not drunk, not intoxicated, clear-headed, as sober as a judge.

      2. serious, sensible, and solemn.

      “a sober view of life”
      synonyms: serious, sensible, solemn, thoughtful, grave, sombre, severe, earnest, sedate, staid, dignified, steady, level-headed, serious-minded, businesslike, down-to-earth, commonsensical, pragmatic, self-controlled, restrained, conservative;

  26. Yes if earnest = serious and sober = serious in my book (BRB) earnest = sober. You have to get away from thinking of sober purely as meaning not drunk!

Comments are closed.