DT 28685 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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DT 28685

Daily Telegraph Cryptic No 28685

Hints and tips by Mr K

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BD Rating  -  Difficulty ** Enjoyment ***


Hello, everyone, and welcome to another Tuesday back-page crossword.  Today we have an enjoyable puzzle that I found a little more accessible than average.  It's also a pangram (as is the Quickie).

Click here to read about the Telegraph's failed attempt to impose computer-generated crosswords on readers

I believe that everyone who commented last Tuesday on the prospect of a future with crosswords created by Artificial Intelligence was turned off by the idea.  This week I'd like to look back to 1997, when the Telegraph tried to impose a much cruder form of computer-generated crossword on its solvers.  Roger Squires (Rufus) tells the story here.  The idea was that a computer would fill grids with clues recycled from a database that the editor had built up from earlier puzzles.  Roger relates how setters were then told that while complete puzzles were no longer required, the editor would still pay £2 for a good clue!  Reaction from readers to the Frankenpuzzles was not good, and that, in conjunction with a PR campaign waged by Roger and his fellow setters, led to the scheme being abandoned.

That failed experiment leads me to pose a question which may be best answered by those readers who set crosswords:  How much more is a crossword than the sum of its clues?  To give a concrete example, if one used a database of, say, 5000 Petitjean clues to randomly fill a grid, would the result be, or even feel like, a Petitjean puzzle?


In the hints below definitions are underlined, and most indicators are italicized.  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 or display a bonus illustration.  Please leave a comment telling us how you got on.



7a    Performing boy creates strange events (6-2)
GOINGS-ON:  Performing or functioning, and a boy seen from the perspective of his parents

9a    Body part of cat probed by a practitioner, ultimately (6)
LARYNX:  A smallish wild cat containing (probed by) A from the clue and the final letter (.., ultimately) of practitioneR

10a   Fairy queen admitted to malice (6)
SPRITE:  The usual Latin abbreviation for queen inserted into (admitted to) malice or vindictiveness 

11a   Boring book about anger and self-control, primarily (8)
TIRESOME:  A weighty book is wrapped about both a short word for anger and the first letter (…, primarily) of Self-control

12a   He, for example, in holy Mecca with limbs broken (8,6)
CHEMICAL SYMBOL:  An anagram (broken) of HOLY MECCA LIMBS gives us what He is an example of

15a   There may be talk after this Fifties dance (4)
JIVE:  Placing "talk" after the dance of the answer gives a form of slang associated with the jazz musicians who popularized the dance

17a   Allowed out of bed? That's a relief (3-2)
LET-UP:  Put together synonyms of allowed and of out of bed

19a   Cover Westlife's first hit (4)
WRAP:  Combine the first letter of Westlife (..'s first) and hit or knock

20a   Ordering again? Between the two of us, I couldn't agree more (5,7,2)
YOU'RE TELLING ME:  Between pronouns describing the two of us goes a word that could, whimsically, mean ordering again

23a   Porter, say, in company with male model (8)
COMPOSER:  The usual abbreviations for company and male, with a noun synonym of model appended.  The answer is what Porter is an example of (…, say)

25a   Resolve of detectives diving into river (6)
DECIDE:  Some usual detectives inserted in (diving into) a river in NE Scotland (and several other places)

27a   Witness a time trial (6)
ATTEST:  Cement together A from the clue, the physics symbol for time, and a trial or experiment

28a   Allow  penalty (8)
SANCTION:  A double definition.  A verb meaning allow or authorize, and a noun that is a penalty, perhaps for non-compliance



1d    Very happy to make broth (4)
SOUP:  Join two-letter synonyms of very and of happy

2d    At home, stiff and weak (6)
INFIRM:  The usual word for at home, and an adjective meaning stiff or unyielding

3d    Giving rise to defeat in tie (4)
KNOT:  The reversal (giving rise to, in a down clue) of a verb meaning to defeat

4d    Like a squirrel checking its tail in light fall of snow? (6)
FLURRY:  An adjective that could describe the exterior of a squirrel, containing the last letter of squirreL (checking its tail)

5d    Weapon taken from section of ship under bridge (8)
CROSSBOW:  The front section of a ship goes after (under, in a down clue) a verb meaning bridge

6d    Animated movie film a man shot about return of artist (6,4)
ANIMAL FARM:  An anagram (shot) of FILM A MAN containing the reversal of our usual artist (about return of artist)

8d    Number in science lab initially producing copy (7)
STENCIL:  A three-letter number is inserted in an abbreviation for science, and then the first letter (… initially) of Lab is appended

13d   Hit toy, toy I mistreated, being snobbish (5-5)
HOITY-TOITY:  An anagram (mistreated) of HIT TOY TOY I 

14d   Large Italian male, supple (5)
LITHE:  Concatenate an abbreviation for large, an abbreviation for Italian, and a male pronoun

16d   Supplied key, then made a clever remark (8)
EQUIPPED:  A letter representing a musical key, followed by a word meaning "made a clever remark"

18d   Peer, seeing a young man entering security number (7)
PALADIN:  A from the clue and a young man or boy both inserted into (entering) a security number that protects your debit card, for example.  The answer is one of the twelve peers of Charlemagne's court

21d   Made in imitation of some items in jeweller's at Zermatt (6)
ERSATZ:  The letters of the answer are hidden within (some items in) the remainder of the clue

22d   Refinement shown by French resort type? Not half! (6)
NICETY:  Put together a resort on the French Riviera and one half (not half) of TYPE

24d   Flower  sprang up (4)
ROSE:  A straightforward double definition

26d   Decline work supporting doctor (4)
DROP:  Our usual musical work goes after (supporting, in a down clue) an abbreviation for doctor


Thanks to today’s setter for a fun solve.  9a wins the award for most uncomfortable surface reading.  Top clue is one of 12a, 20a, and 4d.  Which clues did you like best?


The Quick Crossword pun:  CREWE+DITTY=CRUDITY

80 comments on “DT 28685

  1. Today’s pangram was straightforward and pleasant enough but nothing to write home about. No Favs. Thank you Mysteron and Mr. K.

  2. I found this one hard to get started in top left corner. The middle two clues started me off. Not familiar with the word for defeat in 3d. Quite a satisfying puzzle.

    1. A relief to hear I wasn’t the only one who’d never heard of 3d – in its going up!

  3. This was a rare occasion where my wavelength and the setter’s stayed the same. NW corner was last to yield, but did so quickly once the penny dropped about He in 12A.

  4. Tough for me but eventually came through – 3d was last in and my least favourite (not at all convinced re the reversal, though I see you can find it in the dictionary)…..like Angellov, no special favourites

  5. I was stupidly slow to get 20a for some reason. Didn’t know 15a talk or the reversed defeat in 3d, both of which had to be checked after the solve. Seems I did know 18d but I didn’t know I did.

    Other than that no probs. :)

    4d is favourite.

    Thanks to endarkener and enlightener both.

    (My response to the 12a pic is of course He He He … )

  6. 3 down refers to a favourite word of mine used regularly this season as Coventry Rugby Football Club have dished out some right good tonkings. Thanks to the setter and the blogger.

  7. This didn’t take long to see off once I got started, but it was an enjoyable ride so thanks to the setter.

    Thanks to you, too, Mr. K, I always find your blogs so interesting. I read the article about computer generated crosswords which then set me off on a voyage around the internet looking for related articles. Tom Utley is a favourite Friday columnist of mine so I was sad to read he wrote an article supporting them, but I suppose he was only doing his job.

    1. Thanks, Margaret. I haven’t been able to find the two articles that Rufus mentions or any of the composite crosswords. I’ll have to visit the British Library next time I’m in London.

      1. No, I couldn’t find them either. Infuriatingly the Telegraph online archive only goes back to 2000 – just two more years……!

  8. I found this quite tough. Only a handful of solutions on my first read through, but then got the last 6 or 7 down clues. That left me solving it from the bottom up. It took me a very full **** time.

    One of the last in, and definitely COTD was 12a.

    Many thanks to Mr Ron and Mr K.

  9. Wasn’t sure about ‘tonk’, and needed the hint to justify every letter of 8d ( I read it as science lab initially = sl). Thanks to all.

  10. I didn’t know the slang word for lose at 3 d.
    Anyone know its derivation. I quite like the sound of it.

    What a tonker!

    1. The Oxford Dictionary of English says about tonk – origin early 20th century: imitative of the sound of a powerful blow reaching its target.

  11. 2* /3* . 12 and 20a were co-favourites this morning in this straightforward Tuesday solve. Thanks very much to our setter and Mr K.

    1. It’s two words: jive talk. The hyperlink in the hint leads to its Wikipedia page, which has both explanation and examples.

        1. I did think about including a video of that song, but I decided against it because I didn’t want to give everyone an earworm

  12. I’ve always associated “tonk” with cricket but the BRB has some interesting alternative definitions from down under!
    Is there a convention on the number of letters shown for an answer when an apostrophe is involved. 20a gives no indication but I’m sure I’ve seen other examples where it has been indicated.
    A gentle Tuesday puzzle: 2*/2* . Thanks to setter and Mr K

    1. Apostrophes are often missed out of the enumeration, but sometimes they are included and this one would be (3’2,7,2). I’m not sure if there is a definitive convention – Mr K might know more than me?

      1. Ooops…I’ve just seen Mr K has already answered this at #25, below. Sorry Mr K – that’ll teach me to comment before I’ve read the whole blog.

  13. Struggled a bit with this one I took a while to get going but another fine example of the settes craft and not some electronic gizmo.
    Favourite clue 18d. Thanks to Mr K and setter

  14. Managed to dredge up 18d from the recesses.
    Did not know the definition of 3d u til I looked it up.
    Got stuck on 19a for some reason …cannot see why now.

    Thanks to the setter and to Mr K.

  15. Thanks to the setter and to Mr Kitty for the review and hints. I enjoyed this one, but initially found it difficult to get on the setter’s wavelength. Once I’d “re-tuned” everything fell into place. Some good clues, I liked 13d and 20a apart from the enumeration, but my favourite was 12a, and so is the joke in the review. Was 2*/3* for me.

  16. Found this fairly straightforward today with NW being last to crumble. Enjoyable nonetheless. [**/***]
    In the same boat as many of you when it comes to 3d, never heard of that defeat before.
    13d made me laugh through association with DI Grim’s rants in ‘The Thin Blue Line’. COTD is split between 20a and 4d.

    Blown away by Rufus’ crossword stats, and glad that the ‘seismic changes’ were swiftly reverted.

    Thanks to the setter and Mr K.

  17. 7a&3d were the last to fall for me and I certainly won’t be joining the appreciation society for the latter word!

    15a & 18d were somehow dragged up from the depths – amazing how that can happen – and 18d was probably my favourite.

    Thanks to Mr Ron and to Mr K for the blog although I don’t think I fancy either of the broths you depicted! Lovely pic of a red squirrel.
    PS The Quickie pun looks rather familiar – any info Mr K?

    1. When I got the first two answers in the Quickie and the pun I assumed that there’d been a mix-up at Telegraph Towers and they’d reissued the same puzzle as two weeks ago. Now that I’ve looked again at both puzzles it’s only the top line (and therefore the pun) that are the same, so probably just a coincidence.

    2. I don’t need any data to be dredged up re the Quickie pun as it’s in my head. It was used on 1st March – can’t remember the clues but I know it was the last time I did Thursday hints.

      1. Wow. I remembered it, so searched the DT’s page of quickie puns to finds the one I linked to. The one from two weeks ago wasn’t included as they haven’t updated it for a while. A popular pun this year.

      1. Ah well – if we can vote just for the wording of the clue, I’ll give it top billing!

  18. I went into pangram mode after solving 9a. Enjoyable puzzle. Took a little while to get into it but then a smooth solve. Not sure about 20a and the missing apostrophe – bit naughty? The He in 12 was clever. 23a my pick of the day. 2.5*/4*.

  19. I found this quite difficult and was very much on the wrong wave-length for most of the time I was doing it – don’t know why.
    I’m not sure if I’ve never heard of 3d or if I’ve just forgotten it.
    19a took ages and was my last answer.
    I liked 20a and 1d and my favourite was 4d.
    Thanks to the setter and to Mr K.

  20. I liked 12a and 23a , as they were not what I first thought they were .
    Very enjoyable .
    Thanks to Mr K and the setter .

  21. Didn’t know the reverse of 3d. Cottoned on to the pangram early on but for some reason had trouble with 9a.Thanks to the setter and Mr K. Still find the breakdowns educational and even though my brain seems to be full, I am getting better at solving!

  22. In answer to the questions from Spinky and Ray S about the enumeration of 20a, the Telegraph currently appears to be omitting apostrophes from enumerations. However, they have been included 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

    I’m guessing that punctuation marks are usually omitted from enumerations to make the answer less obvious. Hyphens are an exception because they can alter the meaning of an answer (e.g. SET UP vs SET-UP).

    1. Thanks for that Mr K. If that’s the current rules, then that’s the current rules. I’m happy.

    2. I don’t think that’s cricket at all. Is punctuation becoming optional? We ought to be maintaining its integrity here, at least!

  23. This puzzle reminded me of the verse about the “little girl with a little curl right in the middle of her forehead”, i.e. some excellent clues interspersed with, how shall I put it, some of more dubious quality.

    Those deserving of ticks, I felt, were 12a, 4d and 6d.

    Many thanks to today’s setter and to the tireless Mr K.

  24. Fun and enjoyable today with funest being 12a. (I’m sure the young of today using ‘funest’ – awful, isn’t it). **/*** for a fine Pangram, thank you setter. Thanks for the amusing pictures too Mr k.

  25. Tricky in parts ***/*** 😬 with some excellent clues 👍 Best of which were 9a, 19a & 4d 😃 Thanks to Mr K and to the Setter

  26. Re the preamble Mr K – I think using clues from a database written by a setter, no-one could possibly tell the difference, and you’d recognise PJ’s inimitable style in the clues.

    However, using a computer produced grid-fill would probably be instantly noticeable. The computer tends to produce clunky, unnatural and obscure words because it doesn’t have a feel for nice words that lend themselves to good clues (in my limited experience).

    So yes, a good crossword is more than just the sum of it’s clues, and I don’t believe a computer can generate spirited clues any more than it could season a ragout.

      1. Would there be enough answer words/phrases in the PJ archive to archive this? You’d need many thousands for a computer to be able to select a suitable group that would fit in/intersect correctly into a new grid.

    1. Sorry, but I can’t resist saying that computers are not the only source capable of producing clues of the type you describe!

        1. Can’t disagree with either of you.

          I seem to have a talent for writing clues that roll off the tongue like singing Hallelujah with a mouthful of broken biscuits whilst gargling with paint.

          PS I can season a ragout though

  27. I’ve been totally distracted and glued to the tv today. A pair of bluetits have decided to investigate the new bird box which has a camera. It’s been so exciting that I’ve been rather slow with the crossword, although it didn’t cause any problems. I hadn’t realised it was a pangram. Missed yet again ! Thank you setter. My favourite clue was 20a. Thank you too Mr Kitty. Unfortunately, under present circumstances, I might have to temporarily stop being a cat lover.

  28. I really enjoyed this one, a challenge but loads of fun from start to finish. Many splendid clues in my opinion and I soon realised it was a panagram with the checkers already in. Last in 3d and needed Mr K,s help for that one, agree with others comments for that clue. A good Tuesday puzzle.

    Clue of the day: 12a and also liked these 1a / 9a / 20a / 5d

    Rating 3* / 4*

    Thanks to Mr K and the setter

  29. I really enjoyed this, not too difficult but lots of smile worthy clues.
    I didn’t know 16a or 3d, both were bung ins, I doubt I’ll remember either.
    My fave was 4d, but 13d and 18d deserve honourable mention.
    Thanks to setter and to Mr. Kitty for his blog, particularly pic at 21d. I’m saving the Rufus clip for later.

  30. **/****. I like pangrams – they must be much more difficult to set. The clever lurker in 21a brought this to mind. Favourite was 12a. Thanks to the setter and Mr K. We had a taste of summer yesterday with 20c. Back to winter today 😀

    1. If you like pangrams, did news reach you of Maize’s New Year’s Day puzzle in the Indy? (Link.) If you haven’t done it, I recommend.

      The live solve of it on YouTube by Simon Anthony is priceless.

      1. Must admit that I only looked at it on the YouTube solve – I did get Simon’s last two well before him but he left me for dead on a high proportion of the others!
        Well worth a try – an amazing feat of setting.

  31. Shoehorned this in beautifully with a cup of tea while waiting for fudge brownies to bake. I like a chemical symbol now and then..but I can’t remember much of the Periodic table anymore! Thank you to the setter and entertaining bloggers.

  32. spotting the potential pangram helped us with 15a. We have often been fooled by clues similar to 12a but this time we saw the possibility of the misdirection quite early on. Plenty of smiles and chuckles.
    Thanks Mr Ron and Mr K.

  33. As the 2Kiwis, the pangram helped me get 15a and as Kath, I spent ages on.19a.
    Loved the little story in 4d. So cute.
    Favourite 12a.
    Bumped into Framboise, Mr Framboise and Fifi the dog today. They wanted to have lunch at Le Jardin but we closed for a month. The place is all bare, palm trees disposed of on Friday and new trees and structure waiting in the aisles.
    Thanks to the setter and to Mr K for the review.

  34. Relieved that I wasn’t alone in finding this somewhat tricky. 20a defeated me until I read Mr K’s hint. The apostrophe got me, as I thought it had to be included in the letter count, but now I see it doesn’t. Have to watch out for that in future. Also fooled at 12a as I never thought of He = chemical symbol, oh dear. And I’m sure we’ve had 18d several times but I just never remember it. Otherwise, another enjoyable challenge over breakfast and lunch.

  35. I did find a couple of clues that were bunged in without fully understanding them (3d and 18d) but the rest was a pleasant diversion from some expensive news about my car. :(
    I concur with 4d as COTD. Thanks to setter and Mr K.

    1. 3d. Ditto for me. Had not heard of the reverse word although the answer had to be one of two. Googles both reversals to get the right one. 18d. I thought easy to build up by putting a + synonym for young man, youth, or boy inside what we call the four digit number we need to use an ATM. This gave me a word I recognised although I could not have guessed the answer without building it. Did not like 3d but apart from that some excellent clues

  36. Good progress was made throughout until I got bogged down in the NE corner. Spotting the pangram eventually gave me 9ac, but I was still pushed into *** time.

  37. Straightforward (1*) but fun (4*). I’m torn for a favourite between 3d and 7a. The latter reminds me of my dear late Mother-in-Law; before l married her daughter, this imposing lady made it quite clear that she disapproved of two things – 7a was one, and “shenanigans” was the other. Apparently l positively radiated an intention to indulge in one or both of them. She was, of course, quite right! Thanks to the setter, and Mr K.

  38. A bit like yesterday, struggled with the wavelength but persevered and finished without any assistance.
    It was very enjoyable with lots of great clues. I need to peruse Mr.K’s hints to complete the enjoyment.
    Fav was 21d love the word.
    Thanks all.

  39. I made hard work of this. I eventually got going in the bottom half but for a long time it was like pulling teeth! Eventually completed with 15a being my
    favourite. 2/4* overall cos it was an enjoyable challenge.
    Thanks to the setter, and to Mr K for his review.j

  40. On first reading I thought I’d picked up a Czechoslovakian copy then a slow dribble became a flood when I got 20 a .Favourite was 12a. Re AI versus human compilation, it’s like the difference between lager and real ale, they both do the job ,it’s a matter of taste.

  41. I echo the comments made by Angellov and RD. I did get held up for a while with the Quickie by bunging in pruning shears instead of pinking. 2* /2.5*

      1. Pruning shears and pinking shears are both (7,6), so both fit into the grid. Especially if you bung it in before any of the checkers are there – which is what I did (obviously). That’s why it held me up!

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