DT 28539 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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DT 28539


Daily Telegraph Cryptic No 28539

Hints and tips by Deep Threat

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

BD Rating – Difficulty ***Enjoyment ***

Good morning from Sandringham in Norfolk, where we’re staying on the royal estate for a few days (on the Camping and Caravanning Club site, not with HM). I’m on a somewhat limited wifi connection, so no pictures this week.

A touch of the ‘old’ Giovanni today, I thought, with some GK and a certain amount of ecclesiastical knowledge needed.

In the hints below, the definitions are underlined. The answers are hidden under the ‘Click here!’ buttons, so don’t click if you don’t want to see them.

Please leave a comment telling us what you thought.


1a           Author has dreamy eye movements, taken aback by little sparrow? (8)
MEREDITH – Reverse (taken aback) the three-letter acronym for a type of eye movement which happens while we are dreaming, then add the first name of the French singer known as ‘the little sparrow’ (one who had no regrets). The answer is the surname of a Victorian author.

5a           British party-goer taking more risks? (6)
BRAVER British followed by someone attending an all-night dance party.

9a           To attract support is a problem (8)
DRAWBACK – A four-letter word for ‘to attract’, followed by another four-letter word for ‘lend support to’.

10a         This as PM begins to make changes (6)
AMENDS – Split the answer (2,3) and you get what happens when p.m. begins.

12a         Army officer comes to old American city where people have settled (6)
COLONY – Put together an abbreviation for a senior rank in the army, Old, and the initials of an American city (so good they named it twice).

13a         Petitions regarding hunts (8)
REQUESTS – The Latin word for about or regarding followed by the sort of hunts undertaken by King Arthur’s knights.

15a         Powerfully persuasive wife just into ninth decade (7)
WEIGHTY Wife, followed by the age of someone just entering their ninth decade.

16a         Buddhist school backed by old philosopher (4)
ZENO – A school of Buddhism (sometimes linked with the art of motorcycle maintenance), followed by Old.

Paper version: Man of paradox seen as some brazen opportunist (4)
ZENO – Hidden in the clue. The answer is a Greek philosopher known for a logical paradox.

20a         Unopened Hungarian wine gets an endorsement (4)
OKAY – Remove the first letter (unopened) from a famous Hungarian wine.

21a         Front of cathedral has gold — pleasant architectural feature (7)
CORNICE – Put together the first letter (front) of Cathedral, the heraldic term for gold, and another word for pleasant.

25a         Poor and holy, albeit dancing around (8)
PITIABLE – A word for holy or sanctimonious followed by an anagram (dancing around) of ALBEIT.

26a         Republic‘s old coin (6)
GUINEA – Double definition: an African state; or a coin which was worth 21 shillings.

28a         A drink for you and your companions in the vicinity (6)
AROUND – A (from the clue) followed by the term for the drinks bought for a group of friends in the pub.

29a         Embarrassed performer gets one to change script (8)
REDACTOR– The colour your face may turn if you’re embarrassed, followed by a stage performer.

30a         Settle comfortably in Swiss company (6)
NESTLE – Double definition, the second being a manufacturer of chocolate.

31a         Products from sewers (8)
STITCHES – Cryptic definition of what is produced by sewers using needle and thread.


1d           Famous family producing two-thirds of pharmaceutical products (6)
MEDICI – The family who ruled Renaissance Florence, or the first six letters of a nine-letter word for what a pharmacy supplies.

2d           Drug smuggled into meeting? That surprises me! (6)
REALLY – The usual crossword drug inside a political meeting.

3d           Exposed, being removed from bed? (8)
DEBUNKED – The exposure of a myth or false theory could also be what happens to someone hauled out of a double-decker bed.

4d           Food parcel that a company wraps (4)
TACO – Hidden in the clue.

6d           –Strengthen little dog after appearance of aggressive male beast? (4,2)
RAMP UP – A male sheep followed by a young dog.

7d           One hiding in front building disappeared (8)
VANISHED – A three-letter word for the front of an army and a garden building, placed either side of the Roman numeral for one.

8d           Group of stores is to retail electrical component (8)
RESISTOR – Hidden in the clue.

11d         In Paris the first person with smart ridicule? (7)
JESTING – The French word for ‘I’ followed by the sort of smart that a nettle gives you.

14d         One French city with soldiers leaving base (7)
IGNOBLE – The Roman numeral for one. Followed by a French city in the Alps from which the initials of a regiment of engineers have been removed.

17d         Grumble when evening service is cut short, penning article (8)
COMPLAIN – Remove the final letter from the last service of the daily liturgy, then insert an indefinite article.

18d         Warring groups maybe in loud battles (8)
FACTIONS – The musical symbol for loud followed by some combats.

19d         Resident giving muddled account about parking (8)
OCCUPANT – Anagram (muddled) of ACCOUNT wrapped around the symbol for Parking.

22d         Sensual dipper’s bottom visible in waterway (6)
CARNAL – The last letter of dippeR inserted into an artificial waterway.

23d         Bit of a lift (6)
SNATCH – A type of lift in weightlifting, which may also be a bit of something, such as a song.

24d         Mum needing doctor when in Indian city (6)
MADRAS – Put together a two-letter word for Mum, an abbreviation for ‘doctor’ and another word for ‘when’, giving us the former name of the Indian city now known as Chennai.

27d         Modern message that is extracted from the Bible? (4)
TEXT – A modern method of electronic communication, or an extract from the Bible on which a preacher may base a sermon.

The Quick Crossword pun BILLS + HIKES = BILL SIKES

53 comments on “DT 28539

  1. 4*/2*. With a lot of verbose cluing and GK thrown in, this pangram from the “Old Giovanni” contained a mixture of the good (10a, 15a, 23d, 27d) and the obscure (1a, 16a, 1d, 17d). It was quite tough in parts but overall it felt a bit flat.

    Thanks to Giovanni and to DT.

  2. A very enjoyable Giovanni whichever persona was present today. Not quite sure of solving time as I was multi-tasking preparing for a significant event taking place today so I will go with 2.5*/3.5* as my overall rating.

    Candidates for favourite – 1a, 26a, 23d, and 27d – and the winner is 1a.

    Thanks to Giovanni and DT.

  3. Oh dear – a horror show!

    I just couldn’t get on with this one, not on this guy’s wavelength at all – tomorrow is another day!

  4. I enjoyed this, fairly clued as always. I didn’t know the evening service, and I’d forgotten about the little sparrow until I got the answer. Anyway the wordplay got me there no problem.

    I really liked 10a and 30a.

    Many thanks Giovanni and thank you DT

  5. 10a my favourite in this quite testing puzzle from The Don this morning, with 1a coming a close second. I had never heard of the author, but it had to be what it was, so hats off to Giovanni for the accurate wordplay.. Luckily my GK just about saw me through, but it was a struggle in places, so 3.5*/3* from me overall.

    Thanks to The Don and to DT.

  6. Yes, a touch of the ‘old’ Giovanni here but nothing like as obscure as he can be! The 1a author was the only one I didn’t know but I was OK with the dreamy eyes and the little sparrow so even that didn’t hold me up for long.

    18d seems to be enjoying a few outings recently – yesterday being the latest, I think.

    10a comfortably made the favourite stakes today.

    Thanks to DG and to DT for the review.

    PS The Osmosis Toughie is quite accessible and has some nice touches of humour.

  7. Nice test this morning. Unlike some, I enjoy a bit of general knowledge content. 2.5*/4* for me. Lots of good clues, especially1a, 15a, 3d, but my favourite was 10a where I had the word but it took a while for the parsing penny to drop.

  8. As a relative novice, I raced through this today, almost to the point that I was not convinced that it was Giovanni, with whom I always have an almighty tussle, yet others, far more experienced than I, seem to have found it hard. Just shows what wavelength is all about. Yesterday’s Ray-T was a no-goer for I, yet others found it a breeze.
    I enjoyed 1a, as I knew straight away who the ‘little sparrow’ was, just had to google the author to check as I was unfamiliar with him.
    It (and the quickie) is a panagram isn’t it, or have I missed a letter.
    Enjoyed the pun in the quickie as I have just finished the said book!!
    Thanks all.

  9. Smiles from 10a. (PM begins). 15a. (ninth decade) 29a (change script).
    I thought 25a was like it’s definition.
    Have learned all about George, a favorite of Oscar Wilde and Conan Doyle, who I’d never heard of.
    * rating = 3½ / 2½

  10. I was SURE there used to be an old coin called a Ruanda.

    Apart from that and, along with others, not knowing who 1a was, I found this relatively straightforward. *** for me.

    Many thanks to all.

  11. Great fun to solve with just enough challenge. NW corner was last to yield mainly due to not knowing the author in 1a but should have guessed that as I had Piaf in mind. Fav was 14a with 10a as runner-up once my bung-in had been parsed for me. Thank you Giovanni and DT (hope you enjoy HM’s hospitality).

  12. Quite difficult , needed hints for some bottom right hand clues . However some gems in here , particularly 10a .16a and 28a .Thanks to the setter and DT ***/**

  13. In the printed version 16a is: “Man of paradox seen as some brazen opportunist”. Why are there often differences between the printed and online versions?
    I found this enjoyable and relatively straightforward, but I missed the pangram, as always. Thank you DT and Giovanni.

    1. Sometimes the editor quite reasonably asks for an alternative clue — this can be because the original is deemed a bit too hard or because another setter has recently produced the same or a very similar clue. Sometimes (to this setter’s relief!) a mistake is spotted so a change is absolutely necessary. So hats off to the editor for encouraging consistent high standards! After this everything falls out of the setter’s hand and every so often the ‘correction’ is made in one format but not in another, because there seem to be different post-editorial production processes at the Telegraph offices (quite possibly beyond the editor’s control?). I hope though that it doesn’t happen ‘often’, but if it does you might like to take the matter up with the paper. I hope that explanation helps.

      1. I thought 27 down was hidden in the clue, what big dave calls a lurker it produces SEXT from that is extracted which i understand is a modern method of messaging called sexting although of course not anything to with the bible

  14. Quite tricky in places.
    I caught two of the three lurkers but missed 8d.
    I didn’t know the ‘man of paradox’ but looked him up and didn’t know the 1a author either but that wasn’t too difficult to guess from the eyes and the sparrow.
    8a and 3d were my last ones.
    I did spot the pangram.
    My favourite was 1d.
    Thanks to Giovanni and to DT.

  15. Found this a challenging pangram. Managed to figure out 1a but have never heard of the author. I liked 10a and 3d

  16. I could just ditto RD. Started off well, but it turned into a bit of a grind towards the end, making it a tad so-so overall – despite some admirable cluing

    Many thanks to Giovanni for the education and DT for the blog. ***/**

  17. Quite a work out but I’m pleased as I think it’s the first time I’ve completed a DT, I’m never completely on his wavelength. Finished the Ray T yesterday as well so a fully successful week so far. Really liked 1a once I twigged the French connection, and also, like many others, 10a. A ****/*** for me as it took so long. Many thanks to DG and DT.

  18. Not keen on this one today, mainly because it was a bit too diffcult for me. Again a different clue in the paper, it drives me mad.
    Why does it keep happening?

    Thanks for the hints.

  19. I quite liked this, but RD’s obscurities were straightforward for me, wavelength again. I found the SE corner difficult and I never did get three answers there. I never knew 23d, well, I knew it meant grab but I know bodiddly of weight lifting.
    I liked 1a, “little sparrow” can only mean her to me, that’s my Fave, but lots of good stuff. I thought 1d was very clever.
    Thanks to Giovanni and to DT for his hints. Remember, if you run into HM perchance, you address her as Ma’am.

  20. Some really great clues interspersed with a few which I found either unconvincing or obscure.

    Ticks went to 10a, 20a, 1d and 3d. I didn’t know the 1a author (well done to anyone who did) nor the 17d evening service and was under the impression that the Indian city in 24d hasn’t used that name for over twenty years. I can well imagine why the editor might have requested an easier online clue than the paper version of 16a, but it was good of the setter to drop in and clarify that point.

    Thanks to Giovanni and to DT, and a good weekend to all.

    1. 16a. I had no problem at all with the paper clue, even though I’ve never heard of the answer. With the two checkers and the clue containing an obvious lurker, the solution jumped off the page at you. But I would agree that the online clue is probably easier to parse definitively.

  21. Managed to finish this in ***** time, despite severe RSI in my right hand – thus having to scribble illegibly with my left. If that doesn’t win me the B.D. Perseverance Award, then nothing will. Had to be a good puzzle in order to keep me a-movin’..

  22. Thanks to Giovanni and to Deep Threat for the review and hints. I found this the most difficult back pager that I can remember. Only managed to solve 10 clues. Then copied the definitions from the blog onto the puzzle, which yielded nothing. So many GK obscurities, had never heard of 1,16,20a. Managed to get 17d, but I still don’t know what the last liturgy is. Needed 11 hints and 3 lookups to finish. Was 6*/2* for me.

    1. Hi Heno,
      The last service of the day is known as compline (night prayers). I only knew it by virtue of being an avid follower of Call the Midwife!

  23. Oh my; I started in the NW corner as I (boringly) always do. 1a – I had not heard of the author, and I did not know either the reference to the sparrow or the eye movement. I understood the word play in 9a, but it took me for ever to come with the correct ingredients. With only one checker, the famous family in 1d wasn’t going to happen in any hurry. I spent far too long in Los Angeles in 12a. . . . . . . In the end, the NW corner took me as long as the rest of the puzzle combined – in fact I nearly gave up. In my youth I attended a number of 17d services, but I had not heard of the wine in 20a. I did get there in the end, but it was quite the struggle, and I am not sure I can honestly say that I completely enjoyed the journey.

  24. The NW corner, where we usually start, ended up being the last to yield as it took us longer than it should have to identify the little sparrow. Plenty to enjoy and beautifully put together as usual.
    Thanks Giovanni and DT.

  25. Quite a challenge today from the Don, especially in the far SE and SW corners. Missed the pangram, which wouldn’t have helped anyway with the bits I was stuck on. :-)

  26. Definitely too hard for me today, but at least no one is calling me a dotard (as far as I know)…

    1. Prior to Kim Jong-Un’s name-calling of Donald Trump I for one would not have had the first idea whether to be offended by being called a dotard. Perhaps we can expect the word in a crossword sometime in the future – suggested clues?

      1. It hasn’t been seen here for a while, but I’ll be very surprised if it doesn’t reappear soon.

        Sat 26 Nov 2005     Telegraph Cryptic 24847     Dorothy has a way with one showing excessive fondness (6)
        Tue 24 Jul 2007     Telegraph Cryptic 25364     Old fogey’s knees-up, endlessly slow (6)
        Fri 2 Mar 2012     Telegraph Cryptic 26803     Oldie in party running late with yen to leave (6)
        Sat 30 Jun 2012     Telegraph Cryptic 26906     Mark has a way to produce dope (6)
        Thu 9 Jul 2009     Telegraph Toughie 178     Cheat mostly slow old fool (6)
        Wed 26 Jan 2011     Telegraph Toughie 500     Extremely affectionate types showing a way in … (7)
        Fri 4 Nov 2011     Telegraph Toughie 662     Doctor Who’s vacated time machine I’ll leave for buffers (7)
        Tue 17 Sep 2013     Telegraph Toughie 1050     Doctor’s vehicle I lost chasing party idiots (7)
          1. What LbRoy said – I built a database holding the past 16 years of Telegraph Cryptics, Toughies, and Quicks.

        1. Thanks Mr. Kitty. I didn’t recall any of those clues and even knowing the solution it has taken me a while to parse them all. As you say I will now await a reappearance.

            1. Not feeble IMHO – you’ve come up with a different decomposition of the answer than the DO+TARD(y), DOT+A+RD, (A+RD) in DOTS, and DO+TARD(i)S used by all of the Telegraph setters.

    2. Not at all. Most of this puzzle was GK with some religious references. I went to a C of E boarding school and was steeped in religion, a truly captive audience, churched and chapelled several times a day! The wine I knew because I have a Hungarian friend who introduced me to it … and so on. That’s called knowing by accident!

      1. Your Hungarian friend would probably have spelt it TOKAJI (as per the wine region) rather than phonetically.

    3. Got there in the end, after reading Deep Threat’s hints for several of the across clues the down ones fell in on their own. Usually works for me. Before this blog I would have just sighed and confined to the round filing basket. Thanks to all.

  27. Couldn’t see 23d for the life of me. Even with all the checkers. Oh well, I enjoyed the rest so it doesn’t matter too much.
    My rule is that if a crossword grid is full bar one, it’s completed.
    26a made me laugh as I will always remember Prince Philip or Charles on spitting image giving someone a guinea and saying: Here. Go and buy yourself a new house.
    Thanks to the Don and to DT for the review.

  28. Late on parade today. This was not a R&W that’s for sure! It took me a while to really get going; I started at the bottom of the grid and worked up eventually finishing with 1d and 1a, the latter being unknown to me. 15a was my favourite and overall, perhaps 3/3.5*.
    Thanks to Giovanni for exercising the few grey cells of mine which function, and also to DT for his review.

  29. We liked this – 2.5*/3*.

    We didn’t like the grid, though. Each corner has just one connection to the centre block – not good. It’s like solving five mini-grids.

    Our favourite clue was 14d. So all three Telegraph puzzles today were pangrams. Is this some kind of record?

    We’ve stayed at the nearby Caravan Club Sandringham site which, like all Caravan Club sites, has slow Wifi, so we appreciate your efforts, DT.

    Thanks also to the Don.

  30. Excellent! A good challenge and very enjoyable – G is very consistent at delivering top-class puzzles. Best of the week for me. Didn’t know the 1a author, but the answer was gettable from the sublime clue. 3.5*/4.5*.

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