DT 28727 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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DT 28727

Daily Telegraph Cryptic No 28727

Hints and tips by Mr K

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BD Rating  -  Difficulty **** Enjoyment ****


Hello, everyone.  I found today’s puzzle trickier than the average Tuesday crossword.  Some of that might be because I’m tired after travelling most of the day, but I think it probably has more to do with how the puzzle combines just three anagrams with a healthy dose of general knowledge and some nicely-disguised complex wordplay.  I very much enjoyed the battle with this puzzle so I’m rating it high on the enjoyment scale.

In the hints below most indicators are italicized and underlining identifies precise definitions.  Clicking on the buttons will reveal the answers.  In some hints hyperlinks provide additional explanation or background.  Clicking on a picture will enlarge it.  Please leave a comment telling us how you got on.



1a    Rough spherical object found by recreation ground (8)
BALLPARK:  A generic spherical object used in several games is followed by a generic recreation ground.  The answer is an American sports field, big enough that if you’re in it you’re roughly where you want to be.  But apparently not big enough for a cat to watch the game in peace

5a    Not charged, deserter held by American soldiers (6)
GRATIS:  A deserter or turncoat is contained in (held by) some usual American soldiers

9a    Bad thing, weapon used in disco (9)
NIGHTCLUB:  An anagram (bad) of THING with a caveman’s weapon

11a   Country in revolutionary fairy story (5)
SYRIA:  The answer is hidden in the reversal (revolutionary) of the rest of the clue

12a   Live on edge (6)
RESIDE:  The usual short word for on or concerning and the edge of a triangle or a square, for example

13a   Good boys protecting kid in best clothes (4,4)
GLAD RAGS:  The abbreviation for good, followed by some boys containing (protecting) kid or tease.  Of the many recorded versions of this song I’ve chosen this one by Mike d’Abo because he wrote it

15a   Take the part of one of Silver's crew and he will be very angry (4,5,4)
PLAY MERRY HELL:  The three words of the answer are respectively “take the part of”, a member of Long John Silver’s crew in Treasure Island, and a short form of “he will”

18a   Fifties Kitchen sink drama -- something Winnie was fond of? (1,5,2,5)
A TASTE OF HONEY:  It’s long before my time, but apparently Kitchen sink drama is a genre of 1950s theatre, film, art, literature, and television plays that revolves around angry young men.  The answer is one of its better-known examples, picked out by the clue because it’s also something that a fictional bear named Winnie enjoys

22a   Judge's pipe (8)
RECORDER:  A double definition.  One a barrister or solicitor appointed as a part-time judge, the other a musical instrument

23a   In section of sea, notice a large fleet (6)
ARMADA:  Assemble a section of sea that could be an inlet, a usual short word for a notice selling something, and A from the clue

26a   Played out, even across river (5)
TIRED:  The state of a sports match when the scores are even contains (across) the map abbreviation for river

27a   Announce team in the USA (9)
STATESIDE:  Combine synonyms of announce and of team

28a   County town originally producing a red wine (6)
CLARET:  Put together a county in the Republic of Ireland and the first letter of (… originally) of Town

29a   You almost sussed out Greek hero (8)
ODYSSEUS:  An anagram (out) of SUSSED and all but the last letter (almost) of YOu



1d    Row right up close to craft on the rocks (8)
BANKRUPT:  Concatenate a row (of switches, perhaps), an abbreviation for right, UP from the clue, and the last letter of (close to) crafT

2d    Gallons stored in Asian country port (5)
LAGOS:  The abbreviation for gallons is inserted in (stored in) a land-locked country in SE Asia to give a port city in Nigeria

3d    Foolish to stay up in German city (7)
POTSDAM:  Fuse together foolish or crazy and stay or pause.  The reversal of that lot (up, in a down clue) then gives a city in eastern Germany

4d    Function of pitch, reportedly (4)
ROLE:  The answer sounds like (reportedly) a word meaning pitch, in the sense of a ship’s motion in rough seas

6d    Remainder to lodge round university (7)
RESIDUE:  To lodge or live containing (round) an abbreviation for university.  Surprised to see this lodge making a second appearance today

7d    Sailor, man wearing waterproof stuff (9)
TARPAULIN:  Stick together a usual sailor, a man’s name (an alter ego of one of our regular Monday setters, a Beatle, a chain of bakeries, a saint, …), and a short synonym of wearing (particular clothes)

8d    Few and far between, boxes on foremost of estates (6)
SPARSE:  Cement together a verb meaning boxes, perhaps in training, and the first letter of (foremost of) Estates

10d   Everyone, taken in by most of band, in uproar (8)
BALLYHOO:  Begin with a simple word for everyone inserted in (taken in) BY from the clue.  Then append everything but the last letter (most of) a band or ring

14d   Fellow members run into trouble with Society (8)
BROTHERS:  Insert the cricket abbreviation for run into trouble or annoyance, then attach a single-letter abbreviation for Society

16d   Evergreen opera song about a posh limo? (9)
ARAUCARIA:  A type of song in a opera contains (about) the fusion of A from the clue, the single letter for posh or upper class, and what a limo is an example of (indicated by the ?).  This evergreen plant is also known as the Monkey Puzzle Tree.  But in our community the word is better known as a pseudonym used by a distinguished crossword composer

17d   Famous pianist, murderess's first husband in Sayers novel (4,4)
MYRA HESS:  Inserting the first letter of Murderess and the abbreviation for husband in different locations in an anagram (novel) of SAYERS gives a famous pianist (who I had never heard of.  This puzzle is making me feel rather young)

19d   Shorten a piece of snooker equipment (7)
ABRIDGE:  A from the clue and a piece of snooker equipment that can support the cue in situations where it’s awkward or infeasible to use the hand

20d   Short durable cape -- that's the gear (7)
HARNESS:  All but the last letter (short) of a synonym of durable is followed by a usual cape or headlandSome people think this gear works with cats.  It doesn’t

21d   Bitterly cold in lorry crossing Canada's capital (6)
ARCTIC:  An informal short word for a bendy lorry containing (crossing) the capital letter in Canada

24d   Similar article to enjoy (5)
ALIKE:  Combine a grammatical article and a synonym of enjoy

25d   Eccentric  queen, for example (4)
CARD:  A double definition.  Crosswordland’s favourite eccentric or witty person is also a thing of which a queen is an example


Thanks to today’s setter for a fun solve.  I liked how several of the clues took us around the world, and I appreciated the shout-out to a couple of setters.  Among the clues, one or more of 15a, 1d, and 10d occupy my top spot.  How about you?


Quick Crossword puns:

75 comments on “DT 28727

  1. Cracking puzzle Gromit,top half ****, bottom half ** so going for a *** difficulty with a **** enjoyment.
    Favourites 15a and 18a for no better reason than I remembered them-15a to be fair was a super surface.
    Had heard of 17a before , did she play for Spandau Ballet or was it her brother?
    Liked 29a-should have said alternative spelling.
    Thanks to Mr K for a top class pics and setter for a real treat.

            1. In informal communication I think people should be free to use however many exclamation marks they wish.

              The comma in your previous comment, however, is vital!!!

              1. I don’t think I could manage without exclamation marks – please don’t make me feel obliged to ditch them :sad:

                1. An exclamation mark is a truly wonderfull thing and, very much, has its place.

                  It does irk when people are forever putting after a witty comment, just in case we missed it…..which Kitty has done with my first comment to Beaver.

      1. What a super pianist. She was a friend of neighbours so I was lucky enough to hear her play in their drawing-room several times.

    1. She put on a lot of wartime concerts at the Natonal gallery to raise morale.

  2. Yes, certainly trickier than the average Mon-Wed puzzle. Good clues, very enjoyable, 11a and 2d my favourites. 3* / 4*

  3. No, sorry, not my cup of tea at all. Far too much GK to expect a man on the Clapham omnibus to solve without help.

  4. A pleasantly tricky yet ultimately satisfying puzzle this morning. A good balance of clues and some head-scratching needed to complete it. Very enjoyable, with the rekrul at 11a my favourite. 3* /4.5* for me.

    Thanks to our Tuesday setter for a good challenge, and to Mr K.

  5. 2* / 4*. I enjoyed this a lot but I didn’t find it at all difficult apart from two self-imposed problems in the NW. For 12a, I confidently put “beside” as my answer, which in my befuddled state this morning I decided could sort of mean “edge” with “live”=be and “on”=a side of a cricket pitch. :oops:
    I then equally confidently wrote in “make” as the first word of 15a.

    22a was my favourite.

    Many thanks to the setter and to Mr K.

    1. I made exactly the same mistake with 12a and I was beside myself in annoyance as 1d was impossible with a B in the middle. Sorted it out after a look at the blog.
      4d and 16d needed a nudge too. Thanks to setter and Mr K for his always amusing blog pics and music.

  6. I am getting on, so I had no trouble with the GK clues. I’ll give it a 2.5*/3* rating. Thanks to Mr K and the setter (who is a fellow OAP, no doubt.)

  7. Challenging and very satisfying. I thought the eccentric queen was Maud of Norway.

    Thank you Mr K and the setter.

  8. I thoroughly enjoyed today’s exercise which had a nice combination of enigma, GK and humour. 16d evergreen new to me but simple enough to fathom. Fav 15a. Amazing how you can find so many contexts for your feline illustrations, MrK 🐱! Many thanks setter and hinter.

  9. Nicely in my comfort zone – not a computer part or piece of text-speak in sight and, better still, GK that I knew without having to consult my friend Mr Google!

    15&18a in a dead-heat for the top spot in this most enjoyable puzzle.

    Many thanks to Mr Ron and to Mr K for a great blog with all the usual links to provide extra info – always much appreciated.

    Can’t find anything to say what eventually happened to the poor cat in the 1a – any ideas Mr K?

    1. I don’t know what happened to the cat, Jane. But given how resourceful it appears, I expect that it was fine.

  10. There is also a Quickie pun on the bottom line today.

    To be pedantic, 4d the answer sounds like what a ship does from side to side. Pitch is what a ship does front to back.

    I’ve been ‘lurking’ on this site for years and never got round to commenting before. Mainly because someone else has usually said what I was going to say!

    So I’ll take this opportunity to say ‘Hello’ and thank everyone involved for their contributions. Visiting the site has helped me enormously – so much so that I can actually manage most of the Toughies now.

    1. Welcome to the blog, Uncle G, and thanks for sharing your story.

      Thanks also for pointing out the second pun. I hadn’t even looked for one today because we had one just last week. I have added it to the hints.

  11. Certainly a puzzle for older people. 15a and 18a would be a challenge to anyone under 60. Still, hugely enjoyable. Thanks Mr.K. Obviously a cat fan!

  12. Bits of this eluded me for some time. Especially in the NW for some reason, even with 1a in place.

    I was glad that it turned out I didn’t need to know any Sayers novels or US sports teams.

    15a did go in from wordplay (with the pirate only faintly familiar though I’m sure we’ve seen him gridded before) but I haven’t heard of the phrase as given – and neither, unless the search function or my brain is broken – has Chambers. Oxford has, but defines it differently

    A bit tired and grumpy when I solved this but that’s not the fault of the setter – I’m sure I’d have enjoyed it more on another day.

    Thanks to the setter and blogger.

    1. I wonder what your parents used as an alternative – 15a was regularly invoked by mine during my rebellious teenage years!

          1. Umm – the only thing that’s 10d is Kitty’s assertion that I could possibly lead her astray. I think she’s quite good at straying all by herself – in the manner of most kitten cats!

  13. Bleagh.

    Well I completed it, but I can’t pretend to have heard of 17d, and I had to look up 16d. And despite writing them in, I struggled with 23a, 7d and 20d. My saving grace, albeit cheating somewhat, is that the iPad version can at least show mistakes, and allows me to try out hypotheses as to how the clue is constructed. I doubt I would have finished it otherwise.

    Thanks for the hints and explanations 👍😀

    1. The iPad version wouldn’t do that if I wrote the programme. The some answers incorrect box at the end is useful for me to find spelling mistakes.

      1. I try not to use it, but it does stop complete despondency setting in at times 😂

  14. Got all of this today …except for 25d which for some reason I thought had to be Maud!
    Well, when I say ‘got it’ I did need help with the parsing of 1d and 15a which were bung ins.

    Found it hard, but much more doable than yesterday’s.

    Thanks to the setter and to Mr K for the hints.

  15. I annoyingly needed a nudge for 1a, no idea why. After that the NW corner fell into place. The rest of it was fine, though I did want to try and fit Israel Hands into the Long John Silver clue.
    Thanks all.

  16. Enjoyed this puzzle. It seems odd that I can struggle with what is rated a 2 star puzzle and this one with 4 stars was totally straight forward and no help needed.Thanks to all involved.

  17. I suspect this was one of those puzzles where if you knew the GK it was fairly straightforward, but, if you didn’t, then it became a lot trickier. Fortunately I was in the former camp.

    Top clues for me were 17d (lovely surface) and 16d (nice to see another nod to the legendary setter).

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

  18. Started slowly but when 7dn went in it unlocked much … Then slowed again especially in SE corner. Needed the blog for 20d and 25dn. Favourites were 16dn, of course, 22ac and I managed to get 17dn with confirmation from Google. Lastly, I couldn’t parse 10dn so thanks to Mr K and setter.

  19. I have mixed feelings about this. Some delightful clues, a couple of general knowledge that were way above my pay scale but so dated it was almost quaint.
    Thanks to the setter and reviewer

  20. Enjoyed the challenge and agree with Malcolm R and others re the number of GK clues. Didn’t know the pianist at 17d and got it electronically, not my thing pianists. Only know Les Dawson, and boy could he play! Didn’t know the German city either but worked the bottom bit of the clue out and googled it to get the answer. Last in 14d. Thought Mr K would have given a *** for difficulty before I checked the blog so nice to have completed the puzzle with a slightly lower rating than his, that’s a first for me.

    Clue of the day: 10d and did eventually parse that.

    Rating: 3.5* / 3.5*

    Thanks to Mr K and the setter

  21. As others have said this didn’t pose too many problems if you knew the GK. The 17d pianist has appeared in a back-pager before (DT 28002) which also appeared on a Tuesday (so maybe the same setter?).
    The clue I liked most was 10d. Thanks to setter and Mr K.

  22. I liked today’s crossword. Maybe I’m of a certain age where the GK was fairly easily solved… nah… of course not! Oh well…
    1a was my favourite once I understood the clue. 4* for pleasure.
    Thanks to the setter and to Mr K for the review.

  23. Not so good for me, thanks to certain deficiencies in the GK domain – my brain apparently taking the form of ‘rough spherical object’ for several of the clues. Might perhaps borrow Senf’s trusty steed and spend a few days cantering around the National Library. I did get the piano player and had even encountered the expression ‘kitchen sink drama’, so I can’t be all that bad?
    I’d be interested in hearing what Brian has to say.

  24. Very enjoyable, very, very tricky, requiring three hints.
    As Gwizz says, I’m of a certain age so the GK clues were rhe easiest for me. I remember 17d well, a very talented pianist.
    My fave was 18a, with 15a as runner up.
    Thanks to the Tuesday setter and to Mr. K for helping me to finish.

  25. I was a bit slow with 10d and the first word of 15a but not too many other problems which is surprising given the very few anagrams in this crossword.
    It took me ages to spot the 11a lurker even though I’d already decided that it was in there somewhere.
    I didn’t know that I knew the pianist but I must have done.
    Picks of the day for me were 15 and 18a and 10d.
    Thanks to today’s setter and to Mr K.

  26. I’ve just been reading through all the comments again and I reckon we can now fairly accurately put most of our ‘regulars’ into age groups. What a brilliant way for the DT to determine demographics!

  27. We’re old enough that the GK was known, at least by one of our team, so that was not much of a hold-up. Still it was not a rapid solve for us as some of the wordplay, for example 10d, took a bit of thought to unpick. An enjoyable solve.
    Thanks Mr Ron and Mr K.

  28. Struggled but didn’t feel so bad when I saw the difficulty rating. Just glad I was old enough to remember 18a. But felt really bad for the two cats in 20d. Wonder how the owner would feel being pulled around on the grass by his/her neck?

    1. Hi BusyLizzie,

      I did wonder the same thing but concluded that it looked ok. I’ve now found the original video on YouTube (here) and this is what the owner has to say:

      “We took the kitties to the local park for some outside adventure, only for Simon to completely refuse to walk at all while wearing the leash. He demanded he be carried. He doesn’t care if Wash gets in his way. The pet will become the master.

      “These are my two cats, Simon and Wash. I have seen some people upset by the video and I wish they didn’t feel that way. Both of my cats are wearing a harness specifically made for cats. The leash attaches at their shoulderblades and is designed so that there is no pressure exerted on the neck. It’s very similar to a helicopter harness where the weight is mostly supported at the armpits. The straps are fairly wide. The grass is healthy and is a low-friction surface, in my opinion.

      “This is the second time that I’ve taken them to this park and they live indoors, so I think that has a lot to do with the way Wash slinks around. Any time that I put something on Simon (like his Stegosaurus costume) he falls over like this and pouts.

      “I do no think either of them were in any distress and I apologize to those of you who are upset by this video, but I love both of my cats very much and would be heartbroken if they got hurt.”

      1. Umm – she lost me when she mentioned the Stegosaurus costume. One of my pet hates is people who think it’s OK to put their animals into costumes.

        1. Yes, I do agree about the costume. But I think that it’s clear the cats are loved, even if the owner is not perfect.

        2. Jane, there are some animals that LOVE dressing up. I’ve had three or four throughout my life, but most don’t like it. I had a Maltese who would go into ecstasies when I brought out his winter jacket for a walk, he didn’t want to take it off. The secret is not to dress up those who don’t like it.

  29. Thought this was a cracking crossword. Held up for some time in the NW corner where I thought there was some nice misdirection in 1d, 9a and 10d. Managed to parse 15a and it all fell into place.

    Only slight quibble is with 22a (LOI) where I thought the second part of the clue was stretching things.

    Particularly liked 27a for its simplicity and thought 11a was a good lurker.

    Thanks to the setter and to Mr K.

  30. 25d reminded me of the chap introduced to the Queen. She asked him what he did for a living.
    “I am a photographer Ma’am”
    “That’s a coincidence my brother in law, Lord Snowden, is a photographer too”
    “More of a coincidence than you realise Ma’am my brother in law is a queen”

  31. Also found this to be on the tricky side. The NW corner just wouldn’t budge, so I utilised the old trick of putting it to one side for a couple of hours, at which point it fell in no time. So perhaps I just wasn’t in the right frame of mind.

  32. Ref 1 across – I seem to remember from working for a few years in North America Many decades ago that a ballpark figure (or estimate) was a common expression for an approximate (= rough) one. But can anyone tell me why?

    1. Because it’s a large area so not exact, rather ‘in the region of’

    2. Also, possibly has something to do with the fact that the size of a baseball field, often called a ballpark on the west side of the pond, is not specified by the rules of the game. The infield diamond (where the bases are) is very precisely dimensioned but the outfield can vary significantly. You can have a guess at the approximate size but you can’t know exactly without measuring it.

    3. Chambers’ third entry for ball park is:

      “The area designated for the landing of a spacecraft (in the right ball park (informal and figurative) more or less correct)”

      That sounds like a plausible origin story.

    4. I too heard the expression frequently used when I was working in New York also eons ago and presumed it referred to a baseball ground.

  33. I’ve been wondering for sometime why a puzzle that left me stumped in the evening (I get my paper at 6pm) goes in at a canter the following morning. My good lady, using that tone reserved for a stupid child, explained it to me. “You don’t go to the pub in the morning”

  34. I cannot see that it has been mentioned above, but the quickie is a pangram,

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