DT 28639 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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DT 28639

Daily Telegraph Cryptic No 28639

Hints and tips by pommers

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

BD Rating – Difficulty ***Enjoyment **

Morning all from a rather cold but sunny Vega Baja.  I was put off this puzzle when I saw the terrible grid which gives you four separate crosswords, only linked by the four 10-letter lights in the centre. The grid coupled with a bit more difficulty than in recent puzzles makes things a bit tricky but fortunately there are enough gimmes to give you a start in each corner so I think most of you will be OK.  I’ll be interested to see if anyone agrees with me.

As usual the ones I liked most are in blue.  The definitions are underlined in the clues and the answers are under the “click here” buttons so don’t click on them unless you really want to see the answer.  Please leave a comment telling us what you thought.


1a           Military force, say, encapsulated by brave character (6)
LEGION:  The usual two letters for say or for example inserted into (encapsulated by) a brave character, or big cat.

4a           Child’s first out of bed to enter part of kitchen (8)
CUPBOARD:  C (Child’s first) followed by a 2-letter word meaning out of bed and then a word meaning to enter, a ship or train perhaps.

9a           Location announced for swimmer (6)
PLAICE:  This swimmer in the sea sounds like (announced) another word for location.  I told you there were some gimmes!

10a         Where unprofessional film actor might go for a peripheral part? (8)
OFFSHOOT:  An unprofessional actor might abandon his work and go here (3,5) but as one word it means a peripheral part or by-product.

11a         Support for snaps shown by retired party after excursion (6)
TRIPOD:  This is a support for the thing that takes snaps and it’s the usual party reversed (retired) and placed after an excursion.  I’m not convinced about this clue.

12a         Perhaps service policy reveals limit in growth (4,4)
TREE LINE:  Service is an example of the first word and the second word is a policy perhaps.  The whole thing is the altitude where things stop growing.  Quite a while since we’ve had this meaning of service.  I’d nearly forgotten it!

14a         Guess Conservative starts to justify economy’s course? True for a change (10)
CONJECTURE:  Start with  CON (Conservative) then the first letters (starts to) of the next three words and finally an anagram (for a change) of TRUE.

18a         A request given backing with noise in a set of peers? (3,7)
AGE BRACKET:  Start with A (from the clue) and then a word meaning to request or plead but reversed (given backing) and finally another word for noise or din.  Split that lot (3,7) to get the answer.

22a         Part of winter valued for a break (8)
INTERVAL: A lurker.  It’s hidden in (part of) WINTER VALUED.

23a         Urn one’s broken in cell (6)
NEURON:  Anagram (broken) of URN ONE.

24a         Leading project? Female falls behind with it (8)
FLAGSHIP:  Charade of F(emale), a word meaning falls behind and then a word meaning “with it” as in trendy.

25a         Work online revealing meteorological phenomenon (2,4)
EL NINO:  Anagram (work) of ONLINE.

26a         Anglican event nonetheless no good (8)
EVENSONG:  A phrase (4,2) meaning nonetheless followed by the abbreviation of no good.

27a         A companion divides prepared bag of medicine? (6)
SACHET:  A (from the clue) and the initials of a Companion of Honour go inside (divides) a word meaning prepared or ready.


1d           Some slap son after effrontery, wanting credit (8)
LIPSTICK:  Nothing to do with giving your son a clip round the ear for being cheeky.  This slap is a bit of make-up.  Start with some effrontery and follow (after) with S(on) and then a slang term for credit.

2d           Drop in allowance? It could show degree in fall (8)
GRADIENT:  This is a word for the angle of a slope and it’s a word for to drop or end placed inside (in) another word for an allowance.

3d           In the past, twice giving casual look (4-4)
ONCE OVER:  Two words. each one of which could mean “in the past” and the whole thing is to give something a casual look.

5d           Bar group’s excited about food’s introduction — it’s readily available (2,3,5)
UP FOR GRABS:  Anagram (excited) of BAR GROUPS around (about) an F (Food’s introduction).

6d           Demand to jump into punt for hamper (6)
BASKET:  A word for demand or request is inserted in (jump into) a word for a punt, on the horses perhaps.

7d           Rising sign of approval is following a handsome figure (6)
ADONIS: Start with A (from the clue) and after it (following) you need a sign you might make to indicate approval or agreement but it’s backwards (rising in a down clue) and the IS from the clue.

8d           Show hesitation as one working in trench — cold must be ignored (6)
DITHER:  A word for someone digging a trench has the C removed (C(old) must be ignored).

13d         Decline in male race (10)
STAGNATION:  Start with a word for male, as in male parties, and follow with a race of people, not a running race.

15d         Flower left in a climate unusually with no end of heat (8)
CAMELLIA:  Anagram (unusually) of L(eft) with A CLIMATE but without the T (no end of heaT).

16d         Endlessly go round motorway before quiet minor engagement (8)
SKIRMISH:  Take a word for to go round something and remove the last letter (endlessly).  Follow with the motorway which runs from London to Leeds and finally an admonition to remain silent.

17d         Part of ground revealed something exceptional (8)
STANDOUT:  Part of a cricket or football ground is followed by a word for revealed or in the public domain.

19d         Collection including very loud rubbish (6)
PIFFLE:  The musical two letters for very loud are inserted into (including) a collection or heap.

20d         Re-evaluate as everyone at heart becomes relaxed (2,4)
AT EASE: Another lurker.  It’s hidden in (at heart) the middle of RE-EVALUATE AS EVERYONE.

21d         Camper ditching load on English river, causing grave difficulty (6)
CRISIS:  Take the inner letters out (ditching load) of CampeR and follow what’s left with what the river Thames is called when it flows through Oxford.

Favourite today was 14a and the one I like least is 11a because it makes no sense.

Quick crossword pun:     MIST     +     ACHE     =     MISTAKE


83 comments on “DT 28639

  1. Took a while to get going with the SE corner last to yield. 1d proved to be my favourite and overall this was 3* /3* for me. I agree that the grid was unhelpful but that just increased the satisfaction upon completion.

    Thanks to our setter and pommers.

  2. I think this one was in the wrong envelope – a statement which may or may not prevent a Brian rant in due course!

    Thanks to Pommers and the setter – I agree with you about 11a, not least because I don’t think ‘support for snaps’ is the first thing that comes to mind when you think about the solution

    I think today’s “Toughie” was in the wrong envelope too so I’ll be interested to learn whether others agree with me in due course.

  3. 4* / 2*. I agree with CS this was definitely Toughie material which I couldn’t get started on at all. The NW, my usual starting point, followed by the NE yielded almost no answers at all on my first pass. The bottom half seemed a bit easier but I struggled the whole time to get onto the right wavelength and it was more a sense of relief than achievement when I finally finished.

    Not my cup of tea today, I’m sorry to say.

    Thanks anyway to the setter and to pommers.

  4. First mpression was that there was no way I would finish this but then I surprised myself by pressing on regardless and finally getting there. IMHO this was the trickiest challenge this week so far. 12a and 20d were bung-ins. 18a was Fav with 26a a close-run second. Thank you Mysteron and pommers.

  5. I must’ve been on wavelength as I didn’t find it particularly tricky. I quite enjoyed the solve but agree that the grid was a bit dubious…

    Thanks to pommers and setter 1.5*/3*

  6. I wasn’t sure about ‘ditcher’, wasted time thinking about ‘ham’ for the unprofessional actor, and needed a hint for ‘tree line’. Thanks to all!

  7. Vote for the right envelope! Toughie presently has me stuck inthe in the NE – first time for ages – whereas I shot through this one.

    Enjoyed it though so thanks to the setter and pommers.

  8. Well, agreeing with CS and RD, this seemed to be a wrong envelope day, slowed right down to a walk with lots of head scratching to complete it – ****/**.

    Sorry, no obvious favourite.

    Thanks to the setter and pommers.

  9. Must have been tuned in today as I put down **/*** on completion, just a steady solve.
    As Pommers says, it proved to be four crosswords in one as I moved round clockwise in the four quarters.
    Anyway, remembered the ‘service ‘ in 12a-I think it was in a recent puzzle.
    Liked 1d-thanks to Pommers for the pic,an old favourite of mine!

  10. Mixed feelings – I’m with Jon/Beaver in that It wasn’t too tricky for me, but also have to say, it’s not my favourite puzzle. Solved from the bottom up, perhaps that made it a little easier?
    No stand-out clues today, sorry to say.
    Thanks to setter and to pommers.

  11. Strangely after yesterdays struggle this one was a different kettle of fish. Completed in good time. All in all a pretty fair crossword thoroughly enjoyable.
    A blustery day in North Cornwall, dogs raring to go.
    Thanks to an entertaining Pommers and setter.

  12. This took me longer than average for a back page puzzle but not half as long as the Toughie, so I’d say the editor’s envelopes are in order.

    I was held up in the SW, not helped by a spot of lurker-blindness. Didn’t mark any favourites but nor did I note any grumbles.

    Like pommers I’d nearly forgotten the 12a kind of service. So was glad of the reminder.

    Thanks to the setter and pommers.

    1. I agree with Beaver, I think we’ve had the 12a tree fairly recently. Perhaps Mr. K can check that?

      1. Apologies for the late reply – I’m swamped at work and finding almost no time for crosswords and for monitoring the blog.

        You’re quite right about the 12a tree. We met him back in October:

        Thu 26 Oct 2017, DT 28568: Where elders may be seen between services? (9) ARBORETUM

        1. That’s over three months ago! How do you expect an aged and alcohol ridden brain like mine to remember something from that long ago. To me three and a bit months is ”quite a while”.

  13. It’s interesting to see the range of opinions on the difficulty or otherwise of the puzzle. I thought it was about average for a Thursday with fair clues and no obscurities. I enjoyed it but agree that 11a could have been better. I didn’t even notice the grid until I read the review. Top clues for me were 1d and 3d.
    Thanks to the setter and pommers.

  14. Right envelope day for me although I did suffer a slight hesitation in the SE when my brain refused to go beyond ‘barrier’ for the second word of 18a despite it being very obviously incorrect.

    Like Pommers, I wasn’t overly convinced by 11a but that was the only niggle in an enjoyable puzzle.

    Prize money going to 12a with a mention for the humorous definition in 1d and the great word at 19d.

    Thanks to Mr Ron and to Pommers for the blog.

    PS I never notice grid layouts so that didn’t bother me in the least!

  15. Struggled with this one, eventually finished but with some bung-ins and real head scratching. Found I needed to solve two clues in each corner to even begin to get going, so agree with Pommers that it seemed like four different crosswords. Needed the hints for 18a -thankyou – and it was only after completion that some of the surfaces seemed to read more smoothly and make more sense to me , perhaps a wavelength thing ? Enjoyed 1d , but overall not really for me today although I do appreciate the inventiveness of the setter – many thanks.

  16. Good afternoon everybody.

    Had a right struggle with my last six solutions but got there in the end.

    Favourite 24a. 15d I was fortunate to guess correctly from the unused letters.


  17. There’s something in nearly everyone’s comment so far that I agree with – I think this is called sitting on the fence.
    I never notice grids but I’m usually quite grateful for one that gives lots of starting letters and this one did.
    I thought it was about average in difficulty and enjoyment although I admit to grinding to a halt for a while.
    I agree that 11a is a bit dodgy – it’s a stand for taking snaps.
    I got stuck with 13d because my ‘go round’ was ‘skid’ endlessly which gave me a spare R until I realised.
    I’d forgotten the 12a tree.
    My last answers were all in the bottom left corner.
    I liked 24a and 8d and my favourite was 14a.
    Thanks to whoever set this one and to pommers – my 15d’s are much nicer than your pic.

  18. I was on wavelength also and worked through this steadily. I didn’t know the word for service, but the answer was clear. 1D is my favorite. Thanks to the setter and Pommers.

  19. I filled in all 7 clues in the NW corner fairly quickly only to discover that I was rewarded with a miserable 2 checkers for the rest of the puzzle. Definitely not a very friendly grid.

    I somehow remembered the tree.

    Thanks to pommers and today’s setter.

    Tough but fair seems to be an appropriate appraisal.

  20. Very difficult but managed to finish it eventually. 17d was a bung in as I cannot find anywhere this being one word. Surely it should be 5,3 or do I not have the correct dictionary? Thanks Pommers and the setter.

        1. Chambers is usually the dictionary of choice for the DT puzzles and it and Collins mostly agree, but not always so it’s worth checking both.

        2. Chambers also has it as one word … but it’s a long way down the list starting from stand . So well hidden that it doesn’t stand out!

  21. Very enjoyable today. I took far more passes than usual before finishing. Lots more difficult than the last three days. A perfect Thursday tussle. Thanks to the setter and thanks to pommers.

  22. Finished without help but much trickier than usual. Tree for service is odd and ditcher is obscure

    1. The service tree comes up from time to time so it’s worth trying to remember it. Let’s face it, it’s not something you’d be likely to guess if you didn’t know it.

      1. There is a Black Service tree in Ambridge. Linda Snell discovered it and it now has a tree preservation order on it.

        1. Haven’t listened to the Archers for nearly 30 years. I used to be a regular listener in the late 80’s when I was a sales rep.

    1. So did I, D’oh! There ain’t no anagram of UMONES as far as I can see but I spent some time looking for one :oops:

    2. So did I – time to go to Specsavers or we’ll all be shearing our pets instead of our sheep, assuming we have any of either.

  23. I certainly thought I was going to struggle to get to the finish line, and having been interrupted to take Her-in-Doors to have her hair and claws done, I’m not really sure how long it took, but I did get there.

    I agree with above comments about the grid, it certainly made it more difficult.

    Can I just say that I think there is nothing wrong with 11a? Unless you want to get all technical and say that a snapper would never use one, only a proper photographer would.

    Many thanks to the setter and Pommers.

  24. I don’t often get a chance to do the puzzle in the week, so they come into the occasional treat category. Like Kath I didn’t really notice the grid but found it helpful, which was just as well as I really struggled.
    So a satisfying one to complete – eventually.
    I have not heard the definition for 12a but chanced the answer.

    Thanks to BD, the team and the setter.

  25. I thought that I wasn’t going to be able to do today’s crossword because I can’t access it on my tablet. Staying with my mother-in-law, I couldn’t print it off as her computer and printer have given up the ghost. My lovely husband ventured out in the snow and managed to retrieve a copy of the paper from a local garage somewhere on the A1 heading up to Scotland. I didn’t think that today’s offering was too difficult, but there were three of us filling it in, which we managed to do without the review. Well, except for looking at the parsing of 12a which we filled in but didn’t know why. Service/tree ? It’s a first for all of us. 1d and 18a get my vote today. Thank you mystery setter and Pommers.

      1. Hi Jane. Thank you so much for explaining. Mystery solved for all three of us. We were completely in the fog.

  26. Enjoyed this as a, it was quite difficult for me and b, I finished without help from the blog. Nevertheless I needed same to check the parsing. Agree about the tripod its usually something a keen amateur or professional would use. So as a keen amateur I had no problem with the clue. ***/****

  27. I completed the top half after breakfast and the bottom half after lunch, so I didn’t think it was overly challenging. Crosswords (like exam revision) are easier when broken down into bite-size chunks.
    Those. who take issue with 11a have a point, but it did’t occur to me at the time.I biffed 12a – had completely forgotten that meaning of service – we’ve had so many masses recently.
    Thank you Pommers and setter.

  28. The grid didn’t worry me, I was having enough problems as it was! I ended up with several ‘bung-ins’ which did not amuse me and I did find it a bit of a slog. 24a was possible top clue and overall I think I’ll go for 3/3*.
    Thanks to the setter, and to Pommers for his review.

  29. Certainly it was trickier than usual, but I didn’t find it as formidable some seem to have done. I admit it did take a little while to become attuned to the setter’s wavelength, which required some lateral thinking occasionally, but I thoroughly enjoyed it and there were some absolutely cracking clues.

    I have to disagree respectfully with Pommers both about the grid and 11a. How is “backing photographs shown by someone of pensionable age following a day out” nonsense? I thought the definition was cleverly disguised. I also really liked 10a, 25a, 1d and 5d, but my overall favourite was the brilliant 24a.

    My only reservation about the puzzle was the setter’s apparent penchant for using the same verb to link wordplay and definition in 12a, 25a and 17d.

    Many thanks to setter and blogger.

    1. Welcome to the blog Badger

      It would be appreciated if in future you use a different / modified alias as we already have a regular contributor who uses that name – unless you are he, but in disguise!

    2. Hi Badger, a service is a type of large woody plant; the second word is a synonym for policy “I’m sorry, it’s the company ****”. The two words together are the altitude above which large woody things won’t grow.

  30. Found this easier than others this week and with the exception of 12a , the other clues fell into place relatively quickly .Liked several clues but 18a and 1d favourites .Thanks to Pommels and the setter.

  31. 15d should have read “Anagram (unusually) of L(eft) with A CLIMATE but without the T (no end of heaT).” You missed out the second A.

  32. Well unlike many others I really enjoyed this puzzle. Didn’t really notice the grid but felt rewarded once I got to the end with a fair amount of pen sucking. My favourites were 14, 18 & 26a and 13d. Thanks to the setter and MP for the review.

  33. Until I read ‘Pommers’ leading comments I had never really considered the merits or otherwise of a crossword grid pattern and as far as today’s is concerned I really can’t say that it is any better or worse than any other. Personally I found some of the clues needed more thought than others and that the crossword itself was more challenging than some of late. For me this led to great satisfacion upon completion. I particularly liked 11a, 25a & 26a. 13d & 17d were fun clues. Thanks to today’s setter (I’m certain that it’s not one of RayT’s creations) and thanks also to Pommers.

  34. I found this decidedly tricky and had to resort to electronic help when I had a handful unsolved at the end. I usually get bored when I have to do that for more than two or three, but I’m glad I persevered.
    I did enjoy this but had too many bungins, so needed pommers help in parsing.
    Lovely word at 19d, but fave is 28a, how smooth is that?
    I don’t think it was that long ago that we had 18a.
    Thanks to the setter and to pommers for his review. My goodness, seems that 1d was soooo long ago.

  35. The other unusual thing about this grid is that there are no answers with fewer than 6 letters. This means that there are no pesky little 4 letter answers to deal with, which we think is a good thing. Agree that it is towards the trickier end of the spectrum and an enjoyable solve for us.
    Thanks Mr Ron and pommers.

  36. The grid was the first thing I noticed too, and the second thing was how slow I was to fill it.
    Very relieved that CS thought it was a wrong envelope day.
    I liked 4a ,14a and 18a . Thanks to pommers and the setter.

  37. Finished this one more quickly than usual, but only because I found it decidedly tricky and needed Pommers’ help for too many clues. Thank you for those, but thus no feeling of satisfaction today. Thought a lot of the clues were convoluted, although 11a was my second in and COTD. I don’t recall seeing service = tree before, must have missed that. Oh well they can’t all be easy ones and we have had a nice run of those lately.

  38. Hard but with a lot of electronic help plus a quick peep at Pommer’s super comments I got there. Even with all that help I was still happy to have persevered as at one time I would have given up. Thanks to setter and Pommer’s off to lie down with ice pack on my head.

  39. The isolated quarters of the grid certainly didn’t help matters, but I managed to fill all but the SW pretty rapidly. The combination of 19d, 26ac and 21d took almost as long again, pushing me into ** time. Enjoyable and fair throughout, no complaints. Thanks to setter and blogger.

  40. A crossword like this would need a fresh brain, which I don’t have after a day’s work.
    Thanks all.

  41. I did not notice any difficulty with the grid. Most went in effortlessly. Just left with 12a. Convinced first word was Free so decided to look at the hint. I did not have a problem with 11a. Favourites 14 and 18a. Too many down favourites to mention. Can’t find a Brian comment. Cannot decide whether he had been stunned into silence or censored. Thanks all. Comments varied and interesting

  42. My gripe would be with 13d. Never thought it would mean decline. Thought it was more status quo or stillness. Certainly no movement involved.
    Apart from that I found it very enjoyable.
    Held up in the NE as I wrote Carousal in 4a. Just might have worked.
    Favourite 24a.
    Thanks to the setter and to pommers for the review.

  43. Had a quick look at this one over an instant coffee before golf. Did not have time even for proper coffee so failed to put much of a dent in it. Had another look before lights out and found it a steady satisfying solve – if slightly harder than norm -. The grid was fine for me. It’s too late to get into favourites etc so ***/*** and without a pen or pencil too.
    Thanks to setter and P.

  44. Thanks to the setter and to Pommers for the review and hints. I enjoyed this one very much, I must have been on the right wavelength because I didn’t find it too tricky. I agree that the grid was awful, and it was like four mini puzzles. Favourite and last in was 20d, got it thought it was a lurker, but couldn’t find it! Was 2*/3* for me.

  45. An excellent puzzle, the best of the week and a very worthy alternative to a Ray T. The clues were designed to be just a tad more tricky to parse than usual which, for me, means a better crossword, a longer solve, more lateral thinking/cogitation and therefore more enjoyment. And referring to the prelude above: I never, ever notice/consider the grid pattern, I just take ’em as they come and I don’t want to see any easy “gimmes” to get me started in a DT back-pager either. Ideally, all the clues should be equally good and equally difficult to fathom, but that is nigh-on impossible to achieve. 3.5* / 4.5*.

  46. I can’t find a comment from Brian – has this one battered and befuddled him into submission and silence? :-)

  47. Loved it. Started a day late. Good brain stretcher. Now for Friday’s. Is it any use commenting a day late??

    1. Always – the blogger gets an email when someone comments on their post and quite a few of the rest of us will have a look when something pops up in the Recent Comments list

  48. I agree with CS’s comment and with others who said much the same. It is rare for me not to enjoy doing the Telegraph crossword but this was just a slog throughout, with no ‘Aaaah’ moments or even a smile, just lots of very fragmented clues (as with the Toughie). Also, it must be difficult to know how much leeway to allow in setting clues, and how tenuous the links can be, but I felt there were one or two dubious clues, such as 11a and 8d. Right, I’ve finished moaning. I’ll look forward to the next one instead! By the way, if anyone can explain the first part of 12a I would be grateful. I just guessed it.

      1. Thanks very much, pommers. Even the hint from the photo was lost on me. Actually, I did try to send a request to delete my comment but that function would not work for me on my computer. After seeing the other comments in which several people said they had enjoyed this offering, I felt perhaps I was being unfair, and this one was just not my cup of tea.

        1. Don’t worry about it – it’s just a matter of personal opinion. I agree with you and only gave it two stars for enjoyment which is quite rare for me, I’m usually a three or four stars man.

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