DT 28643 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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DT 28643

Daily Telegraph Cryptic No 28643

Hints and tips by Mr K

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BD Rating  -  Difficulty *** Enjoyment ***


Hello, everyone, and welcome to an enjoyable Tuesday back-pager bursting with multiple definitions and almost devoid of Usual Suspects.

In the hints below underlining identifies precise definitions and cryptic definitions, and most indicators are italicized.  The answers will be revealed by clicking on the ANSWER buttons.  Clicking on a picture will usually enlarge it or do something else.  Please leave a comment telling us how you got on.



1a    Courage  to pull out (5)
PLUCK:  We start with a double definition.  One is a word for courage derived from its meaning of the heart, liver, and lungs of an animal.  The other is how one might remove feathers from a bird

4a    Identify all letters in time (5)
SPELL:  The double definitions continue.  To “identify in order” all the letters in a word is also a period of time

10a   County partition comprising cereal crop? (8)
CORNWALL:  When split (4,4) this county could be a whimsical definition of a barrier made from a cereal crop

11a   Royal Engineers in temper, tied up (6)
MOORED:  Insert the obvious abbreviation for the Royal Engineers in temper or frame of mind

12a   Pretty tune carried by little creature (6)
FAIRLY:  A melody or tune is inserted in (carried by) a little creature stereotypically not hurt by those who are calm and gentle

13a   Vehicle I abandoned, gone! (8)
VANISHED:  Combine a commercial vehicle often painted white, I from the clue, and abandoned or discarded

14a   Crucial game ends in unexpected failure: drink! (7)
DECIDER:  Follow the final letters of (ends in) UNEXPECTED FAILURE with a fermented apple drink

16a   Musical organ behind orchestra leader (6)
OLIVER:  After (behind) the first letter of (… leader) ORCHESTRA comes the bodily organ stressed by drinks such as the one in 14a

17a   Trout swimming around black fish (6)
TURBOT:  An anagram (swimming) of TROUT is wrapped around the pencil abbreviation for black

19a   Suppose papa has to start again (7)
PRESUME:  Take the letter represented by papa in the NATO phonetic alphabet and append a word meaning “to start again”

21a   Beginning in Norway, Laotian moving across the country (8)
NATIONAL:  The first letter of (beginning in) NORWAY, followed by an anagram (moving) of LAOTIAN

22a   Minister in power tries to reform (6)
PRIEST:  Join the physics symbol for power and an anagram (to reform) of TRIES

23a   Little  affront (6)
SLIGHT:  Another double definition.  Little as in lacking significance or stature

24a   New Testament book including Church of England stories (8)
ROMANCES:  A book of the New Testament named for some Italians, containing (including) the abbreviation for the Church of England

25a   Dull writing increased on page (5)
PROSE:  Place increased (in height, perhaps) after the abbreviation for page.  This clue is adhering to the convention that in an across clue “A on B” means “A after B”.  I had to verify that Chambers gives “dull writing” as one meaning of the answer

    Newspaper version:  Dull writing needs beauty on page (5)
PROSE:  Place a beauty after the abbreviation for page

26a   Cheap drink  put down carelessly (5)
PLONK:  The acrosses conclude with yet another double definition.  The answer nicely echoes 1a



2d    Sign sailor died in onesie (7)
LEOTARD:  Concatenate a sign of the zodiac, one of our usual sailors, and the abbreviation for diedChambers defines onesie as “A soft, loose-fitting, one-piece garment worn by adults for sleeping or lounging” and the answer as “A skintight garment worn by dancers, acrobats, etc.”.  Not quite the same thing IMHO

3d    Shorten link in game (8,6)
CONTRACT BRIDGE:  Make a card game from synonyms of shorten and of link

5d    State supports friend making unnecessary fuss (7)
PALAVER:  State or swear comes after (supports, in a down clue) an informal name for a friend

6d    Fish left lonesome at sea (5,4)
LEMON SOLE:  Our second fish of the day is revealed as the abbreviation for left with an anagram (at sea) of LONESOME attached

7d    Quick money earned, cash initially invested (4)
PACY:  Money earned for working, with the first letter of CASH inserted (cash initially invested)

8d    Prescribed strollauthorised (14)
CONSTITUTIONAL:  Another double definition, with the first being a stroll taken for the benefit of one’s health and the second referring to set of laws or system of governance.  I went back and forth on whether to call this a double definition or a triple definition.  If it was a triple, then two of the three definitions would be similar.  Since that’s undesirable I’m going with double

9d    Sheltered by sympathiser, enemies calm (6)
SERENE:  The answer is hidden in (sheltered by) the remaining words in the clue

15d   Switch rotated on explosive device (9)
DETONATOR:  An anagram (switch) of ROTATED ON

18d   Functional Italian island retreats headed by American (6)
USABLE:  The reversal (… retreats) of an Italian island is preceded by (headed by) an abbreviation for American

19d   Star's path originally followed by sailor adrift (7)
POLARIS:  The first letter (originally) of PATH is followed by an anagram (adrift) of SAILOR, to give a star located near the North Celestial Pole

20d   Festival, North Japanese possibly? (7)
EASTERN:  Take the festival associated with eggs and bunnies, and append the abbreviation for north

22d   Father's enthralling mass ceremony (4)
POMP:  An informal term for one’s father containing (enthralling) the physics symbol for mass


Thanks to today’s setter for a fun solve.  Topping my list today is the 1a/26a pairing.  Which clues did you like best?


The Quick Crossword pun:  HELL+LOAD+OLLIE=HELLO, DOLLY!

80 comments on “DT 28643

  1. 6d was straight in as that’s my favourite fish. It took me a little while to go through the books of the NT from memory before I got the right one in 24a, and I was a bit slow to realise that 9d was a lurker. 25a was the last one in. I don’t know why. Looking at it, it’s fairly straightforward. Lovely pic for 23a. Thank you setter and Mr K.

  2. Straightforward and maybe a little unremarkable but nonetheless enjoyable with 19d my hero for the day. 4 & 8d also notable. **/** with thanks to the setter and our felinophile blogger.
    Now for something unstraightforward, remarkable and unenjoyable – this year’s tax return.

  3. A straightforward and enjoyable trip into crosswordland this morning. A lovely clue mix, nothing obscure and some elegant surfaces made this 2* /3.5* for me. Hard to pick a favourite but I will go for 19d.

    Many thanks to the Tuesday setter and Mr K.

  4. Mr K, 2d. I agree, a onesie isn’t the same thing (at all) as the answer. But then I have been known to be wrong before…

  5. Back to straight forward land today and a **/*** for me.
    Did my usual trick of reading country for county in 10a, which did not help.
    The short solutions were my favourites today , last in was 4a preceded by 25a, 26a also amused.
    Must remember all the ‘little women’-invaluable for crosswords.
    Thanks to Mr K- loved the onesie .
    Best quickie pun for ages, liked the way the D and O combined.

  6. 1* / 3*. This was a very enjoyable puzzle with commendably brief cluing which fell into place very quickly apart from 1a which took me nearly as long as the rest of the clues put together. 26a was my favourite.

    Many thanks to Mr R and Mr K.

  7. Most enjoyable – decent length clues, clear definitions and a sprinkle of humour, what’s not to like!
    In company with Mr K, I put the 1/26 combo head of the leader board with 19d only a short head behind. The Quickie pun also deserves a mention.

    Thanks to Mr Ron (any chance that you’ll show yourself?) and to Mr K for the blog. Loved the label on the ‘wine’ but the alternative pic for 2d was rather scary!

    1. I hadn’t a clue what you were talking about Jane re 2d. I made the misfortune of taking a look.!! I hope my mother – in – law doesn’t take a look otherwise I will have to explain ‘Why is he dressed liked that.’ I might have to get her to sign in and ask Mr Kitty.

  8. A straightforward and enjoyable solve today.

    Thanks to Mr K and setter */***

    PS The weather forecasting stone made me chuckle.

  9. I would not say that I found this one straightforward, but I did enjoy it and got there in the end without external assistance.
    Quite a relief after my failure yesterday.
    Loved the weather forecasting stone.

    Thanks to the setter and to Mr Kitty.

  10. Lovely puzzle. 1.5*/3.5*. Over a little too quickly. I, too, doubted that dull in 25a, but reassured by Mr K’s checking of it. 13a was my favourite for its misdirection (well, misdirected me, anyway) into trying for what looked like an obvious anagram of the first two words.

  11. Off to a flying start but then hiccupped in NW corner where I finally needed help with 7d (not a word that springs to mind!). Overall definitely a fun run. Thank you Mysteron and Mr.K.

  12. Pleasant stuff. In particular I lapped up the drinky ones: 14a and 26a.

    Thanks to Mr Ron and the blogger.

    P.S. I’m afraid I’m partly to blame for the inclusion of the 2d bonus: Mr K sought my opinion and I laughed and said it simply must be included!

  13. Our 25a question is different? “Dull writing needs beauty on page” ? Please explain? We did get the answer right? Beauty = rose!! Ta!

    1. Looks like the clue for 25a printed in the newspaper is different to the one on the Telegraph puzzles site, which is what appears above.

      I’ll update the blog to show both clues.

  14. Very enjoyable puzzle with some nice clues such as 17a and my fav 16a. Not sure why the setter has included the word “dull” in 25a, deathless prose is dull but ordinary narrative prose can be anything but dull. The clue works perfectly without it.
    For me **/***
    Thx to all

    1. B, 25a. Prose (as a verb) means to talk or write in a tedious way, so “dull writing” is a good definition.

  15. Nice and straightforward 😃 **/*** Favourite had to be 2d (as a Countdown fan) 😬 with 24a as runner up. Big thanks to Mr K for enjoyable blog and to the Setter. I had ****y as the answer to 25a 🤔 Which I think I still prefer!

  16. Seven of the acrossess followed by eleven of the downs but enjoyable throughout so it’s **/**** from me.

    Favourite was 10a but it’s nice to see the vino collapso makng a return in 26a :yes:

    Many thanks to the setter and to Mr K.

  17. A watery theme today with fish and sailors in plentiful supply. Matches the wet weather here. Nice puzzle , I liked the double definitions, definitely brightened up my day.

  18. I’m slightly surprised by the generally lukewarm comments – I thought it was a really good crossword – 4* enjoyment for me.
    All the clues were short and to the point with good surface readings and plenty of humour.
    One day I’ll get round to learning the phonetic alphabet.
    My top clues include 13 and 21a and 2 and 5d. I think my favourite was 5d.
    Thanks to whoever set this one – does anyone have any idea – and to Mr K.

    1. One advantage of having been a sailor is that I know the phonetic alphabet. Useful off the water as well. If you want to spell something over the phone it still work even if the other person doesn’t know the code – Mike works just as well as Manchester to give an M.

      Worth learning anyway but it sure comes up in crosswords a lot.

    2. I was spelling something out to an American on the phone last year and they said that ‘Yankee’ had been replaced by ‘Yellow’ – just so no one gets offended, at least in the clerical world if not aviation and maritime. When you think there are some pretty divisive words used: Foxtrot and Tango – well what if you are a person of reduced mobility? – Romeo and Juliet – what an insult to all the LBGTOs out there? Yup the whole thing needs a re-write for sure.

      1. Never thought of that but, now I come to think of it, I’m probably due some royalties for the use of my name without my permission. Me and a few million other Mikes that is :grin:

              1. As far as I’m concerned spelt is a species of wheat which turns up in crosswords from time to time. Spelled is the past participle of spell but I’m a Mancunian so it’s probably different elsewhere. Don’t really care either way.

                1. …..you need to put a Muttley emoji at the end of your comment.

                  Still giggling here like a good’un…

    3. Kath, the phonetic alphabet I learned was “a for apple”, etc. but now it’s “a for alpha” not to mention the Cockney version “a for ‘orses” and there are others so you have a choice!

  19. Commendably brief clues of a Terrellesque length and some excellent surfaces in a very enjoyable solve. Rare to see a puzzle with only twelve Down clues, and I don’t recall seeing this particular grid before, although Mr K might prove me wrong?

    My top two clues were 13a and 16a. 2d almost made the podium but, like others, I had my doubts about whether the definition and “onesie” were actually synonymous or not.

    Many thanks to setter and blogger.

    1. I can certainly investigate whether that grid has been seen before, but I can’t do it until later. I’ll try to get an answer before it gets too late in the UK.

      1. Examining grids from the last 5,865 back-page puzzles reveals one previous appearance of today’s grid, in DT 26233 (Saturday, 24 April, 2010).

    2. So we can now describe clues with too many words as War and Peace clues and clues of brevity as Terrelesque. Nice work Silvanus.

      1. Good – I’m all for blogisms as long as we explain what we mean for the benefit of newcomers otherwise it’s not quite fair. I remember when we started referring to hidden answers as ‘lurkers’.

  20. Enjoyable although slow start. The answers began to reveal themselves last in were 20d 10a (kicked myself!)7d and 4a. Odd because not all in one corner. Favourites 10 16 26a and 2 3 5 8d. Thanks setter. Thought I would need hints for last ones but managed. Thanks anyway Mr K,

  21. After a slow start really got on the radar with this one. A really good challenge with some first class clues, also enjoyed the smiles along the way. One or two head scratchers but got the long answers in early and that helped. Last in 9d for some reason, simple enough ? A first class puzzle.

    Clues of the day: Best by a mile 10a / 16a

    Rating: *** / ****

    Thanks to Mr K (although hints not needed) and the setter.

  22. Started yesterday but not many entries and then got distracted. This morning it fell into place so swiftly. Strange? Favourites were 10&16a and 3d. Thanks to the setter and Mr K.

  23. I fairly rattled through this one. And great fun it was too. 12a was my top clue and 2/4* overall.
    Thanks to the setter (who he?) and to Mr K for the review. Loved the pic of the wine label!

  24. Like so many others, I had a very slow start, then I clicked and was suddenly dead on wavelength, and what a load of fun that was.
    I think, not sure, that 26a is fave, but 5d deserves a mention too.
    Thanks to setter, please own up! Thanks is due to Mr. K for the blog, in particular the pic at 23a, it made me purr.

  25. 2nd day running the east was done before the west was started. When the rest succumbed on the 2nd sitting I got the not all answers correct popup? But despite checking spellings and bung ins I couldn’t track the error down. I turned to the click here thingies and found I had a completely different answer to 26a! I had SLING which I thought parsed the clue reasonably. Maybe a Singapore Sling isn’t quite cheap enough (I have expensive tastes but not enough money).
    Thanks to Mr K for putting me right and to the setter.

    1. I had ‘sling’ as well. Mr Google tells me that it comprises a spirit mixed with water – sounds rather cheap to me!

    2. Yes I put sling in first and then realised it’s hardly a cheap drink! Plonk is far more likely to be my tipple.

  26. Just for interest we did a quick word count and found that it does conform to RayT’s limit and sure enough it does, as Silvanus has noted before us. There are a couple of multi-word answers which are not Terrellesque. We were slower than usual sorting this one out, not quite sure why now. We have given some thought as to the setter and there is one name from the Toughie stable that comes to mind. As we have not knowingly seen a puzzle from him on the back-page before we will just keep that thought to ourselves. Enjoyable solve.
    Thanks Mr Ron and Mr K.

      1. Sorry to be so long responding. It’s been a busy day. The name that came to mind was Elkamere.

        1. I don’t do the toughie so am not familiar with his. However, he didn’t own up, so we’ll never know.

  27. Did enjoy this, and was much more my cup of tea than yesterday’s. Too many great clues to pick a favourite. Only held up by 7d and 25a. Never heard of 7d as a word, and agree with Brian that prose can be anything but dull – speaking as someone who borrows at least 6 books a month from the library, Thanks to mystery setter and Mr K for a pleasant time in crossword land today.

    1. Tried to edit my comment above, but got a message that I do not have permission to edit? I was well within the time limit…

  28. It took me a while to get on the setter’s wavelength – 16ac was my first one in, and progress for a little while was faltering at best. Things then rapidly sped up to finish in ** time. Last in the NW corner, where I’d attempted and failed to start. I questioned whether 25ac is necessarily dull, but according to Chambers it can be, so there.

  29. Was so blocked on the right hand side that I almost put Constipational in 8d.
    But that managed to help me get the right answer and finished with 19a and 26a.
    Liked the brevity of the clues but would rather call them Alarayties.
    Thanks to the setter and to Mr K for the review.

  30. Yay! [does little dance] I got this one without any help, except for one brief trip to the thesaurus (for 22d, and to be honest I should have got it)

    LHS went in easily, RHS took a little longer, SE corner particularly. I really must brush up on my NT letters!
    Faves were 4a, and also 16a – never before has a clue asked for more :)
    22a last in.

    Agree with Mr K about 2d, though – not quite the same thing.

    Thanks very much for the review & hints, although for once I didn’t need them. **+1/2/***

  31. 16ac? Mmmn! The title of the musical is Oliver! The exclamation mark is a part of the copyright, brand name, advertising and everything to do with this musical. The exclamation mark is integral to Lionel Barts wonderful masterpiece of modern musical theatre as produced by Cameron McIntosh. Therefore the answer needs seven letters and this only has six. We went to see the production at The Drury Lane theatre a few years ago when Rowan Atkinson played Fagin. A lady sitting next to us proudly told us that she was the mother of the boy who was playing Oliver! that night. I told her not to be ridiculous. Oliver! Is clearly an orphan. End of unwanted conversation. I do have my moments.

    1. MP. I don’t know if you are being serious or not (one can never tell) about Oliver! but, just for the benefit of the uninitiated, punctuation marks aren’t letters and are not counted in the enumeration. But it would be interesting to see the feedback if a setter could manipulate the answers Oliver! and Westward Ho! to intersect and finish on the same square with a shared ! Maybe something like that has happened before?

      1. Hi, Jose. Just to expand a little on your comment for the benefit of our beginners, enumerations can in some special cases include punctuation. In particular, hyphens are usually indicated because they can alter the meaning of an answer (e.g. SET UP vs SET-UP). The Telegraph currently appears to be omitting apostrophes from enumerations, although they have included them in the past. For example:

          Fri 1 Feb 2013   DT 27090   Frightful rogue banned, so watch out (2,2,3’1,5)   BE ON ONE’S GUARD
          Mon 4 Feb 2013   DT 27092   Cast about on foot for someone else’s tool (3’1-3)   CAT’S-PAW
          Sat 9 Mar 2013   DT 27121   Won’t wash, as bath without plug (5’1,4,5)   DOESN’T HOLD WATER
          Mon 23 Dec 2013   DT 27368   Castro’s first up-to-date planned takeover (4,1’4)   COUP D’ETAT
          Tue 17 Jun 2014   DT 27518   Introductory cheer? (4,1’6)   HORS D’OEUVRE
          Fri 18 Jul 2014   DT 27545   Czar due to travel round holiday region (4,1’4)   COTE D’AZUR

        Regarding MP’s comment on the the musical answer, I decided that it would be confusing to add the ! to the answer without also adding to the hint a lot of prose to explain the enumeration conventions, which I didn’t want to do. I did include the analogous punctuation in the quickie pun.

        1. It is good you explain that for the benefit of beginners, but I didn’t say that punctuation didn’t “appear” in the the enumeration – I said that punctuation marks were not counted as letters in the enumeration.

          1. Ah, OK, I thought you were explaining why the enumeration for that clue wasn’t given as (6!). Apologies for the misunderstanding.

            Re your other point, the Telegraph has published special cryptics where the answers include digits as well as letters, but I haven’t come across any where punctuation is supposed to be entered in the grid.

            1. Yes, confusion can so easily arise with the written word. The name/title Oliver! is essentially a 6-letter exclamation that never appears in text without the ! Since the ! is not a letter it can’t be counted in the enumeration as a letter – MP did suggest that its enumeration should be (7) instead of (6). Using that strained logic, the answer Mercedes-Benz wouldn’t be (8-4) but (13) because you’d have to count the hyphen, which is likewise a permanent punctuation mark, as a letter. Personally, I think the enumeration for Oliver!, if anything different, should be (6[!]).

  32. Sorry for the late entry.

    Great puzzle, I thought! Lots of neat clues.

    Mr K, do you know the location of that orange mountain you used to illustrate “serene”? Absolutely stunning! Canada, perhaps?

    1. Hi, Christopher. I do know where the orange mountain is located. It’s sunrise at Dream Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado, USA

  33. Another mildish puzzle, a tad more challenging than yesterday’s I think. Quite enjoyable. 2.5* / 3*.

  34. Hard work today. Arrived at the finishing tape unaided only to find out that for PLONK I’d put in SLUNG. Felt rather a plonker..

  35. Liked the Cornish stone and the German wine label.
    As Miffypops said for the puzzle on the 22nd “if all else fails look for a hidden word”..so it was for 9D.
    **/*** for the puzzle.

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