DT 28717 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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DT 28717

Daily Telegraph Cryptic No 28717

Hints and tips by pommers

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BD Rating – Difficulty **Enjoyment ***

Hola from the Vega Baja and welcome to a non-RayThursday.  I don’t know who the setter is but there are some clever bits of wordplay here and some very original anagram indicators.  I quite enjoyed it and hope you did too.

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           China protects gold haul for nation (8)
PORTUGAL:  Start with heraldic gold and a word meaning haul or pull and around it (protects) put another word for your mate (china in rhyming slang).

6a           End of all but the last of medium-dry wine (6)
DEMISE:  A two word phrase (4,3) describing not dry champagne without its last letter (all but the last of).  This is an odd one.  Although a literal translation of the French phrase is Half Dry the type of wine is commonly known as medium-sweet – from Collins:- (of wine, esp champagne) medium-sweet.

9a           Selection of odder maladies relating to organ (6)
DERMAL:  The organ it’s relating to is your skin and it’s hiding in (selection of) ODDER MALADIES.

10a         Rioting is over — caught in a new hostility (8)
AVERSION:  An anagram (rioting) of IS OVER placed between (caught in) an A (from the clue) and N(ew).

11a         Beset by trouble, airmen with ultimately duff fuel (8)
PARAFFIN:  Our military airmen with an extra F (with ultimately dufF) placed inside (beset by) some trouble gives the fuel otherwise known as kerosene.

12a         Invertebrate pierced by daughter beginning to emit gunk (6)
SLUDGE:  Take an invertebrate disliked by gardeners and insert (pierced by) a D(aughter) and then finish with an E (beginning to Emit).

13a         Army officers ran non-specialist shop (7,5)
GENERAL STORE:  Take some high –ranking army officers and a word meaning ran or ripped and split it (7,5).

16a         Landowners in arrangement to sell lord hams (12)
SMALLHOLDERS:  Anagram (arrangement) of SELL LORD HAMS.

19a         Reveal Frenchman’s one request after getting married (6)
UNMASK: The French word for one followed by M(arried) and a word meaning to request.

21a         Possessing case? (8)
GENITIVE:  A not very cryptic definition of the grammatical case indicating possession.

23a         Quietly remove painting, perhaps (8)
ABSTRACT:  A word meaning remove is also a style of painting.  Not sure what the word quietly brings to this clue.

24a         Outsiders in Sale are characters to be shifted (6)
ALIENS:  Anagram (are characters to be shifted) of IN SALE.

25a         Revolutionary astute about black gemstones (6)
BERYLS:  You need a word meaning astute or crafty, two letters meaning about and a B(lack) and then reverse the lot (revolutionary).

26a          Given the OK, I’d fire at criminal (8)
RATIFIED: Anagram (criminal) of ID FIRE AT.


2d           Working with upset celebrity, not suitable for many (3-3)
ONE MAN:  Take a two letter word for working, as in not switched off, and follow with a reversal (upset in a down clue) of a celebrity (4) and split the result (3,3)

3d           Father supporting crew without energy to reach US city (5)
TAMPA:  Take a crew but without the E(nergy) and follow with (supporting in a down clue) a short word for your father.

4d           Bird folding flailing wings in crash (9)
GOLDFINCH:  Anagram (flailing) of FOLDING followed by CH (wings in CrasH).

5d           Left well-paying job to become student (7)
LEARNER:  L(eft) followed by a nice little well paid job.

6d           Prepare  to put on clothing (5)
DRESS:  Double definition.

7d           Insects from plant life covering South American capital (9)
MOSQUITOS:  A small soft green plant which grows on moist ground placed around (covering) the capital of Ecuador.

8d           Entertainer‘s to demonstrate climbing large apparatus (8)
SHOWGIRL:  A word meaning to demonstrate or explain followed by a reversal (climbing in a down clue) of L(arge) and some apparatus or equipment.

13d         Good colleague accepts worker with right spirit (9)
GALLANTRY:  Start with G(ood) and a colleague, or someone who’s on your side, and insert (accepts) one of the usual workers and R(ight).

14d         Delay surfacing — overheard force prepare an ambush (3,2,4)
LIE IN WAIT:  A phrase (3,2) meaning to delay surfacing, as in delay getting out of bed, followed by a word which sounds like (overheard) a force, of an argument perhaps.

15d         Willing, in the morning, to help (8)
AMENABLE:  The two letters for in the morning followed by a word meaning to help or make possible.

17d         The girl taken another way becomes less wearying (7)
LIGHTER:  Anagram (taken another way) of THE GIRL.

18d         A meeting-place’s means of access (6)
AVENUE:  A (from the clue) followed by a meeting place or location where something happens.

20d         Romantic kiss on vacation includes bite (5)
KEATS:  This romantic was a romantic poet.  He’s made from K(is)S (kiss on vacation) with a word meaning to bite or chew inserted (includes)

22d         One in possession of article with force after them? (5)
THIEF:  An all-in-one.  The force after the person in possession of the article is the police force.  Surely it should be force after HIM as the answer is singular.

Favourite for me was 24a because of the excellent anagram indicator.  Also on the podium are 14d and 13a.

Quick crossword pun:     BACKED     +     EERIER     =     BACTERIA


60 comments on “DT 28717

  1. Not too demanding, but quite enjoyable, completed at a gallop – **/***.

    Candidates for favourite – 6a, 13a, and 14d – and the winner is 14d.

    Thanks to the setter and pommers.

  2. Sitting in the warm sun greatly enhanced enjoyment of today’s puzzle. SW was last to give in mainly due to hitch with 25a gems and difficulty parsing 23a (agree with pommers re relevance of ‘quietly’). Wonder whether 9a really refers to an ‘organ’. Liked ‘on vacation’ (new to me) in 20d. Fav 21a for its brevity. Altogether great entertainment. Thank you Mysteron and pommers.

  3. All completed in **/*** except for 6a – I didn’t know the wine reference.

    Strictly speaking, I believe that 9a is regarded as an organ – the biggest in the human body, it is said.

    I had to check 21a, I never was taught words like that at school.

    Thanks to the setter and Pommers.

  4. My old Latin master would have been proud of my having remembered 21a. We should all campaign to promote Latin teaching in schools. Invaluable for crossword solvers and general vocabulary.

    1. Yes indeed valuable also for learning so many other languages. Such a shame that more Latin is not generally available in more school curricula.

  5. Pleasant puzzle – thanks to Mr Ron and pommers.
    The third meaning for 23a in Chambers is ‘to remove quietly’.
    I think the ‘them’ is needed in 22d for the cryptic grammar to work – the force follows two things (one and article).

  6. No problems apart from having a blind spot over the 21a/18d combo – no idea why!

    Top of the shop for me was 14d with 11&12a taking silver and bronze.

    Thanks to Mr Ron and to Pommers for the blog – enjoyed listening to Mr Knopfler.

  7. 20d was my favourite in this sometimes tricky Thursday puzzle. Some of the parsing took a while, but it was enjoyable enough and worth the effort. 2.5* /3* for me overall.

    Thanks to our setter and pommers.

  8. Nicely solved whilst sitting in the Dingle (tried not to look too much at the flowers….)
    But no help with 26a?

    1. I assume that you’re talking about the Dingle in Shrewsbury? I was looking at it last night on the TV programme ‘Britain in Bloom’ – looks amazing.

      26a – the definition is ‘Given the OK’ and it comes from an anagram (criminal) of ‘I’d fire at’.

  9. Didn’t anyone else find this hard – 3***.? So depressing when first dozen or so posts say “completed at a gallop” “simple but enjoyable “ and so on.

    1. I’m not really commenting on difficulty level any more but I’d have ranked this very slightly harder than a Ray T backpager.

        1. Quite!! Compared to a Ray-T, this is like ‘Janet and John’ compared to ‘Crime and Punishment’

          1. Janet and John is very hard for a child learning to read. By the time they get to Crime and a Punishment it should be a doddle.

    2. You’re not on your own Domus. I found the northeast and southwest portions quite hard and so the puzzle took me much longer to solve today. A good one though.

    3. I’m with you on this one, Domus. I thought it was a wrong envelope Toughie masquerading as a back-pager. It was enjoyable but hard work so I’m going for 4* / 3*.

      20d was my last one in and favourite.

      Many thanks to Mr Ron and to pommers.

      1. It’s not often that I have less reservation than you RD in a puzzle but I had no real problems here.

    4. I’ve come to realize that the early posters are those that always find these puzzles easy than most of us. I’ve been doing these for at least 30 years and I will never finish that quickly. If they are from someone who takes a turn at providing the hints, clearly they are very smart indeed. If you look later in the day you will see comments from others who didn’t find so easy. Don’t be discouraged, I am struggling with this one today, as I am sure many are, including those who never comment.

      1. As you say, Lizzie the first posters tend to be Toughiers, so they jolly well should find the back-pager a breeze!!

      2. Providing the hints gets easier with practice BusyLizzie. We all have Kath moments where the clue is easier to solve than it is to explain. We also have no idea whatsoever at times and rely on fellow bloggers for help.

        1. I am still in awe of those of you who solve the entire puzzle and write the hints, pics etc., all against a deadline. I think I would take a long walk off a short pier if I had to do that 😊

      3. I was relieved to read your comment as I am often discouraged to read that a crossword I have struggled with is treated as easy by the “big Dave” bloggers.

        1. Welcome to the blog Jeanjeannie

          It has been repeated many times that the difficulty rating is 1) subjective 2) intended only as a guide and 3) the personal opinion of the blogger. Please remember that everyone’s experience is different.

        2. You might also want to remember and shout it from the rooftops that Miffypops never ever sets the difficulty enjoyment rating. I would like it taken out completely on Mondays. Big Dave sets it for me. It is his blog so, so be it.

  10. I’m in the tricky camp with this one, needing electronic help for a couple, but still enjoyable.
    Fave was 20d, but liked lots more. Needed the hints to “get” 6a.
    Thanks to setter and to pommers for his hints.

  11. Quite a tough one for me but helped by sitting on patio looking out to sea.
    Top left sent in quite easily, then bottom left. Then a complete standstill until 7d.
    Thanks to Mr Ron and to Pommers.

  12. Apparently this is the handiwork of Steve Bartlett aka proXimal. We published some of his early work in the NTSPP series as eXternal.

  13. I’m in the “quite tricky for a backpager” camp, in fact the NE corner took longer to yield than the rest of the puzzle combined. I do agree with Pommers that there was some very clever wordplay in evidence, and I ticked four clues – 6a, 4d, 20d and 22d.

    The warmest April day in London since 1949 apparently. Amazing to think that we had snow little over a month ago!

    Many thanks to our setter and to Pommers. Lovely to see Merusa and RD back on parade :-)

  14. Found this difficult but finished using quite a lot of reference aids, but without using the blogs hints. Some straightforward clues mixed with a lot more difficult one’s. Several ” bung in’s” needed to finish but got there in the end. Bottom half went in easier than the top half with last in 2d a “bung in.” Don’t really rate that clue even after checking Pommers comments. A challenging but enjoyable puzzle.

    Clue of the day: 11a made me smile

    Rating 4* / 3*

    Thanks to Pommers and the setter.

  15. ***/**. I didn’t really enjoy this because of the SE corner. Too many bung-ins and I agree with Pommers that 22d should have been him not them. On the positive side I liked 25a. Thanks to all.

    1. Of course, the felon could have been a ‘her’, so to avoid sexism the setter may have opted for ‘them’, even though Chambers says it’s unacceptable to some – me included!

  16. A puzzle of two halves, with most of top going in over breakfast, and the bottom half over lunch. Not seen the wine term in 6a, and had forgotten the gemstones in 25a. A good workout nevertheless, thanks to setter and Pommers.

  17. I find it very discouraging when I have struggled to complete the puzzle, only to find that is awarded 2 stars for difficulty.
    My first post because you are all rather intimidating.

    1. Hello Jeanjeanie (Great name great name). We are all pussycats. Ask and you will get a kind answer very quickly. As said in my post at No 9 above. I would ditch the stars. I dont even know what they are supposed to represent and I have been blogging for who knows how long. Anyway this was a struggle for me. Welcome to the blog. Play nicely and comment whenever you want to.

  18. Congratulations to proXimal on his back-page debut. I thought this was a thoroughly enjoyable puzzle, though definitely more difficult than a 2 star – a most definite *** here. My last few dotted round the grid – 23ac, 27d and 25ac among them – took a little mulling over at the close.

  19. We did wonder who had put this one together. We thought, from some of the clue constructions, that it could be one of the harder Toughie setters but never considered proXimal as a possibility. Reasonably tricky for a back page we thought and good fun.
    Thanks proXimal and pommers.

  20. Perhaps it’s that I’ve done battle with the setter in other guises, but I didn’t have too many problems here – would put it at above average back page difficulty, but not by that much. An impressive change of pace from a tough Toughie setter.

    My favourite is 14d, in a large part due to the sound physics.

    Thanks Mr Ron  X and pommers.

  21. From Chris Lancaster on Twitter:

    “If anyone’s interested in hearing me being interviewed live about yesterday’s ‘hardest crossword in the world’ and the history of Telegraph crosswords, then the evening show hosted by Georgey Spanswick on BBC local radio at about 7.40 tonight is the place to be.”

    The catch-up link is here, and he’s about half an hour in.

  22. 4d was my last one in. I couldn’t quite understand the clue. From the checking letters, I knew it was going to be some sort of finch, but couldn’t work out if it was going to be goldfinch or bullfinch. Completely missed the fact that it was an anagram as I didn’t recognise ‘flailing’. 1A helped once the penny dropped. Thank you setter and Pommers. I felt as though I spent far too long on this one.

  23. Definately not an easy puzzle today. I managed v little at work today and when home it took 2 brews before I made much progress.
    2d and 20d last in and I needed hints.
    Faves 1a and 7d. I haven’t had time for many toughies this week but hope to rescue the petitjean before mum uses the dead tree for something nefarious.
    Thanks to Pommers and proXimal.

    1. If the nefarious use takes place just ask on here and I’m sure somebody will email you a .pdf of the Petitjean.

      1. Thanks but rescue mission accomplished, and I have bought a new pencil from Faber Castell to replace my favourite which I sat on and broke.

  24. I found parts of this puzzle rather tough and it has taken me all day, on and off. Now retiring, exhausted and nearly beaten. Mostly enjoyable though. Thanks to setter and Pommers for the hints which were gratefully received.

  25. A few sticky moments but good fun! [***/***]
    22d was my favourite (closely followed by 4d). Not often used, but I think I’m right in saying there is a singular ‘they’/’them’?
    Thanks to the setter and pommers.

  26. Top half went in fairly quickly then needed a lot of electronic help for the bottom half. So I am in the ‘tricky’ camp.

    Thanks to the setter and to Pommers .

  27. Interesting selection of comments on this crossword. I was held up by a few clues but overall nothing too demanding. I liked 7d and as I agree with the Bard from LI I’m going to cease giving a rate of difficulty score. So 3.5* for pleasure!
    Thanks to the setter and to Pommers for the review.

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