DT 28556 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
View closed comments 

DT 28556

Daily Telegraph Cryptic No 28556

Hints and tips by Kath

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

BD Rating — Difficulty **Enjoyment ***

Hello everyone. I don’t know who set today’s crossword. I enjoyed it and didn’t find it too tricky but, as I’ve said before, I find it difficult to judge difficulty and enjoyment when I know I’m doing the hints.

Please leave a comment telling us how you got on today.

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


1a            Money in US county (5)
BUCKS — To start us off we have fairly straightforward double definition – a slang term for American money and an abbreviation of an English county.

4a            Publication to catch is mesmerising at first — that’s attractive (9)
MAGNETISM — Begin with an abbreviation for a publication or journal, follow that with a verb to catch or trap, the IS from the clue and, finally, the first letter (at first) of M(esmerising).

9a            A comedian’s funny state (9)
MACEDONIA — An anagram (funny) of A COMEDIAN.

10a         Wear only down back? (3,2)
PUT ON — A reversal (back) of how you could say ‘down’. Oh dear – difficult to give a hint for this without giving the game away completely.

11a         Expression of disgust, ghastly one (7)
GRIMACE — This is a facial expression – a word meaning ghastly or hideous is followed by a one in a pack of cards.

12a         Bird dog (7)
HARRIER — A double definition – a kind of hawk and a hunting dog which I’d never heard of.

13a         Devious game in mystery (6)
ENIGMA — An anagram (devious) of GAME IN.

15a         Bird looking to circle lake (8)
STARLING — A word meaning looking very intensly contains (to circle) the one letter abbreviation for L(ake).

18a         Leaders, band members hitting the high notes? (3,5)
TOP BRASS — A section of an orchestra which includes trumpets and trombones which, for the sake of the clue, are playing the high notes rather than the lower ones.

20a         Good variety for farm (6)
GRANGE — The one letter abbreviation for G(ood) is followed by a variety or medley.

23a         Extraordinary thing to achieve fifty in speeding down the motorway? (7)
MIRACLE — The major motorway going from London to the north is followed by a contest to see how fast you can go (speeding) which contains (to achieve) the Roman numeral for fifty.

24a         Curious girl, ten, curl in hair (7)
RINGLET — An anagram (curious) of GIRL TEN.

26a         Tot has a play (5)
DRAMA — A tot or a small drink is followed by the A from the clue.

27a         Italian girl dancing on air after clue (9)
SIGNORINA — A clue or indication is followed by (after) an anagram (dancing) of ON AIR.

28a         Vessel touring a river, large boat (9)
CATAMARAN — A kind of vessel or a tin contains (touring) the A from the clue and a river in the south west of England and Tasmania.

29a         Scoundrel in heavy footwear, heading off (5)
ROGUE — A hefty kind of shoe which usually has a decorative pattern of holes without its first letter (heading off).



1d            Stay with me, and do as you please (2,2,5)
BE MY GUEST — A double definition and another one that’s tricky to give a decent hint for – an informal expression used to indicate willingness and approval for a proposed action.

2d            They’re prickly characters initially before start of play? (5)
CACTI — The first letter of characters (initially) is followed by the beginning of a play (split 3,1).

3d            Pistol, say, raised in action, beginning to misfire (7)
SIDEARM — An anagram (in action) of RAISED followed by the first letter (beginning to) of M(isfire).

4d            Style in private house discussed? (6)
MANNER — A homophone (discussed) – a style or appearance sounds like a large house – well, it does to some of us although I’m sure others will disagree.

5d            Success in Merlot, perhaps, offers lead for writer? (8)
GRAPHITE — A success or something that has become popular goes inside (in) something of which Merlot is an example.

6d            More in play that’s absorbing for each in Julius Caesar, say? (7)
EMPEROR — An anagram (in play) of MORE contains (that’s absorbing) a way of saying how much something costs for each person.

7d            Perception of truth in instruction (9)
INTUITION — The IN from the clue is followed by instruction or teaching.

8d            Subordinate underground worker, we hear? (5)
MINOR — A homophone (we hear) – an underground worker sounds like subordinate or junior.

14d         This person’s left with soldier leading (9)
IMPORTANT — How the setter might refer to him (or her) self is followed by the nautical word for left and then an insect of which soldier is an example.

16d         Dog in Hamlet? (5,4)
GREAT DANE — A large dog could also be a way of describing Hamlet.

17d         One who judges fools, so right (8)
ASSESSOR — Some fools or idiots are followed by the SO from the clue and the abbreviation for R(ight).

19d         Again, take 23 Across badly (7)
RECLAIM — An anagram (badly) of the answer to 23a.

21d         Bitterness flowed with boldness, age forgotten (7)
RANCOUR — Flowed, as a river might, is followed by a seven letter word meaning boldness or bravery without its final three letters (age forgotten).

22d         Continue to trail monster (6)
DRAGON — If split 4,2, the monster could mean continue to trail – and another one that’s really difficult to hint.

23d         GP entering home, dictator! (5)
MEDIC — Our one and only lurker or hidden answer for today – its hiding in the last two words of the clue and that’s indicated by ‘entering’.

25d         Telling stories in bed, perhaps? (5)
LYING — A double definition.

I liked 12 and 23a and 22d. My favourite was 1d (and the Quickie pun!)


64 comments on “DT 28556

  1. 1.5*/3*. I agree with Kath that this was enjoyable and not too tricky. My favourite was 12a.

    Many thanks to Mr Ron and to Kath.

  2. I agree with your assessment, Kath. 50 years ago this week I arrived in Oxford. When did you start your training at the Radcliffe?
    Thank you Kath and setter.

    1. We all arrived in Oxford on 1st September fifty years ago. Six of us who shared a house all had a good gab and lots of reminiscing on the phone on that day and are planning a proper get together later in this month – amazing that we’re still in touch let alone that we all still get on so well. Where were you – suppose we might have met!!

      1. My wife and I have just returned from a sunny walk and lunch in Lyme Regis. I am still in touch with friends who started at Exeter College at the same time. My room-mate in my first year had a girlfriend who was a local nurse (can’t remember her name, unfortunately) but at the time I had a girlfriend in London, so I didn’t mix with the local nurses.

  3. This was an average/run-of-the-mill backpager. 2*/3*. But 10a in the H & Ts – do we have an innovation here? The definition is underlined and also highlighted in pink. I quite like this – has it been deployed before?

    1. Rats – I was hoping that no-one would notice! I was on automatic pilot by that stage and put in the spoiler instead of underling it as the definition. I saw what I’d done and tried to sort it out but it just didn’t want to play nicely and I decided to leave it and quit while I was winning rather than risk the whole lot disappearing. Oh dear! :oops:

      1. I wasn’t complaining or being sarky – I do quite like it. Sort of an extra “woman’s touch” in pink.

  4. The NW was the last to yield for me. 2d is my favourite, I fell for the start of play again. Also liked 26a, 5d, 7a

    Many thanks setter and Kath

  5. For me too, the NW was last to submit. And, like Kath, I hadn’t heard of the 12a dog either. However, the whole thing was a bit of a hike for me and pushed me into ***/**** time.

    Many thanks to the compiler and Kath.

  6. Yes I too didn’t find that too hard after yesterdays failure. I hadn’t heard of the dog either (but Mr google had) I took it to mean one who H****es.
    I wonder which one the compiler had in mind.

  7. Reasonably straightforward, completed at a fast canter, and quite enjoyable – **/**.

    Favourite 28a.

    Thanks to the setter and Kath.

  8. Today’s puzzle follows the rest of the week with a low difficulty rating in my opinion and not much of a challenge, my rating is */***. like Jose I think average is about right.
    Favourite was 2d, I don’t remember the ‘start of play’ unlike Dutch apparently. 16d brought a smile.
    Best quickie pun for a while.

  9. Lovely puzzle. I had not heard of the dog either and wondered for a nanosecond if a terrier was also a bird? Excellent blog as usual Kath. Your picture at 15ac reminded me of watching murmurations of these birds making patterns in the sky as they twisted and turned just before dusk.

      1. I went down that path too! Had the setter put jet instead of dog it would have been so much easier to solve 🙂

  10. Good straightforward puzzle. As to 12a, surely no need for a new breed of dog as to harry someone is to dog them.

    1. Welcome from me too.
      Re 12a – I wasn’t suggesting it was a new breed of dog but it was certainly one I’d never met before. The BRB says, ‘A medium-sized keen-scented dog for hunting hares’. Most of the pics I found looked pretty much like what I would call a fox-hound.

  11. Morning peeps from a sunny Vega Baja. Finally got home at midnight last night after being stuck in the UK for 24 hours thanks to French air traffic controllers.
    Fairly straight forward – so 2*/3* for us. Like many we’d never heard of 12a in the doggy form.
    Thanks to Kath and Mr Ron
    Couple of quibbles though:-
    6d – Julius Ceasar was never this – the 1st one was his son Octavian who took the title Augustus Casear
    28a – they don’t have to be big. We have a friend who races a 14ft one!

    1. Sorry, Octavian was Caesar’s nephew. I do agree that 28a need not be large. In fact the original craft seen on the Coromandel coast were fairly small and the Tamil word from which 28a is derived means pieces of wood lashed together.

  12. Hi all. It’s been a while since I commented but I have been lurking in the background and continuing to enjoy the daily challenge that the compilers set for us.
    It felt like I got pretty close to my fastest solve for a back-pager today, although I can’t be certain as I don’t actually know precisely what my fastest time is!
    Either way, I seemed to be perfectly in tune with the setter’s wavelength and enjoyed it so thanks for that, and also to Kath for the blog.
    1*/3* for me.

  13. Nice crossword. 2d, 5d,14d,1d well constructed. I wonder who set it. Ps how did you get my picture for 11a?

  14. Raced through most of this but was held up a bit by the bottom right corner until I spotted the lurker in 23d. I don’t think that I am qualified as yet to award stars but I am in agreement with Kath’s assessment.

    1. I don’t think there’s any specific qualification needed to award stars – it’s really just a personal thing and reflects how you felt about the crossword – sometimes the various ratings awarded by commentors vary wildly. Both the difficulty and enjoyment go from 1* to 5* so, by my reckoning anyway, that means that 3* is average – if you felt that a crossword was either less difficult or enjoyable then just award fewer stars and the same goes for the other direction.

    2. Yes, no qualifications needed – the use of ratings rather than times is intended to level the playing field and allow everyone to offer their assessment without feeling small if they are slower or boasting if they are faster.

      Kath is right that 3* should be average. The difficulty ratings actually given for the back page, however, average at nearer 2* (at some point when I have the chance I will crunch the numbers and share the findings). I stop myself getting grumpy at this by just pretending that people are rating out of 3!

      I think somebody said recently that they hardly ever get up to 3* difficulty on page puzzles, and I remember thinking, how can you consistently beat your own average? not even Magoo could do that!

    3. Kath is also right about ratings varying wildly between people. I’ll add — while appreciating the irony of saying this in comments which indicate that I’ve given this not a little thought! — that I think they shouldn’t be taken too seriously. They’re meant to be just a bit of fun — and the fact that I want to analyse them is just my idea of fun because I like making graphs. (You can call me a weirdo, but there are worse ways to be weird.)

      Getting slightly annoyed by seeing 2* all the time I think mainly just stems from the feeling that some people might be put off seeing all the puzzles rated easy by regular commenters, especially as it could give the impression that we are experts, rather than a self-selected group of people who just like to comment on the crosswords, and have a bit of a chat.

      I’ll shut up in just a sec (I can almost hear the hurrahs from here) … but will just add one thing. I think maybe benchmark is a better term to describe 3*. Certainly I’m happy to average higher than that for enjoyment. After all, we find most crosswords enjoyable — or we wouldn’t do them — and it feels rude to rate lower than 3* unless there is a particular reason. So never mind!

  15. 2d was my favourite in this enjoyable Thursday puzzle. It took me too long as I was a bit tired after a few days away plus a quick dash through the motorway network to get home, so hard to rate it for difficulty on that basis, although three stars for enjoyment felt right.

    Many thanks to our setter ant to Kath.

  16. Thanks to whomever for the enjoyable puzzle and to Kath for the excellent review. My favourite clue was 5d but the highlight of the day for me was the Quickie Pun which I thought was the best we’ve had for ages.

    1. Yes – I agree about the Quickie Pun. I did both crosswords before I’d fetched the paper so didn’t have the italics to help – I was slightly at sea until I realised that the first four clues were involved.

  17. Started well then the phone rang and when I returned my brain had fallen out of my ears. Needed some help to get going again thanks Kath.

  18. Thanks to the setter and Kath for the review and hints. I enjoyed this one a lot, but found it very tricky. It finally fell in 4 areas, with the bottom half completed, then NW & NE. Last in was 12a. I had penny drop moments with 1a&5d. Favourite was 10a. I thought the misdirection was very good in 28a&23d. Was 3*/3* for me.

  19. Bright and breezy puzzle, I thought, with my only hesitations being over 9a as a state, 12a as a dog and the suggested size of a 28a.

    Rather liked 26a&22d with top spot being shared by 1d and the Quickie pun.

    Thanks to Mr. Ron and to Kath for another well-illustrated blog. I thought your 22d looked quite friendly!

  20. Lovely fun back pager today.
    Didn’t get chance to blow the foam from my thinking water
    9a COTD as I couldn’t believe I’d seen the anagram before reading the whole clue!
    Must be the new specs

  21. Agree with Kath **/*** quite a few tricky clues🤔 in NW corner. Favourites 1d, 15a & 22d (which for some reason I did not get!) 🙁 Thanks to Kath for nicely illustrated blog and to the Setter 😃

  22. As others have said, very straightforward and solver-friendly if a tad formulaic and predictable in places (16d for instance). I thought the surface for 23d was very disappointing.

    My favourite was 3d.

    Thanks to today’s setter and to Kath.

  23. Liked the construction in 2d, 10a and 23a.
    Very enjoyable crossword.
    Thanks to the setter and to Kath for an equally enjoyable review.

  24. Enjoyable puzzle again today, but after an easy start, it was a little on the tricky side for me. Wavelength thingy again today.
    Last in was the bird dog, never heard of it.
    Fave was 1d, followed by 16d, and I love the quickie pun!
    Thanks to setter and to Kath for her hints and pics.

      1. You’re not going to get away with it, all grandparents have to tell whether girl or boy and name names! Out with it.

        1. Boy.
          Named Paul, I would like to think the baby is named after yours truly, but the parents are big fans of the great british bakeoff, so I have my doubts!!

  25. Liked it. Bottom went in in * time, top half ** so over all 1.5*/3.5*. I liked 12a, 1d, 5d and 16d with 2d being my favourite.

  26. Struggled a big in the NW corner, I spent to long looking for an American state for 9a, and 1d took ages to see.
    Very enjoyable though, thanks to all.

  27. Enjoyable puzzle, done on the move without noting favourites – looking now, I think I’ll choose the cute 22d.

    Thanks to the setter and Kath.

  28. Seem like we were not alone in not having met the 12a dog before. It all went together smoothly with plenty to keep us smiling.
    Thanks Mr Ron and Kath.

  29. Nice crossword raising few problems once I got started at the bottom of the grid. I liked both 7 and 16d with the former being my top clue. 2/3* overall.
    Thanks to the setter, and to Kath for her review.

  30. Thoroughly enjoyable, and most definitely a * for difficulty here. Last in the NE corner, before noting a misspelling at 27ac.

  31. Another great day in crossword land. Although at first pass I thought this was going to be an oh dear day, the clues were very workable, and I ended up only needing hints for 2, they weren’t even difficult (4 and 5d), I was just a bit dense. Thanks Kath.

  32. Really can’t believe 5d. Only got it by eliminating all other possibilities.
    As our American friends say, that’s out of left field.

  33. Nice and straightforward – Thursday is normally the most difficult puzzle in the week but not today (I think I said something similar last week – so maybe I’m wrong about the difficulty of Thursday’s efforts).

    I’ve been for a minor operation on my head today – which included a small skin graft – I’m trying not to burst the stitches by sitting slumped in the chair – I wouldn’t recommend it – the operation that is, not being slumped in the chair!

  34. Unlike the majority of bloggers I was on quite the wrong wavelength throughout that which was a veritable ordeal for me. I surprised myself by actually completing the East half and then eventually the West. 1d made me smile in the midst of my struggle. I too don’t think of 28a as necessarily being large. Hope for more fun tomorrow. Thank you Mysteron and Kath.

  35. Favourites 4 and 11a and 2 and 5d. What is wrong with 5d Bob Howat. I thought it was good although took me a while to solve. NW was last corner to go in. Thanks setter and Kath although I even managed to parse them all today.

    1. Merlot is a variety of GRAPE. A success can be a HIT. Put HIT inside GRAPE and you get GRAPHITE, the ‘lead’ that is in pencils (writers).

Comments are closed.