DT 28748 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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DT 28748

Daily Telegraph Cryptic No 28748

Hints and tips by Miffypops. Every day is a school day.

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BD Rating – Difficulty **Enjoyment **

The heart of downtown LI is awash with rain. I have been given two tickets for tomorrow’s big game at Twickenham. Saracens v Exeter. I do love watching from a position of impartiality. May the best team win. Today we have a very clever puzzle by Giovanni. We have a smattering of obscurity and an overabundance of anagrams. I do wish there was a limit to the number of anagrams used by each setter. One per month possibly.

Please leave a comment telling us what you thought.


1a Set with mishap at sea? They hope not! (9)
SHIPMATES: The sailors and their friends can be found by solving an anagram (at sea) of SET and MISHAP. A lovely clever clue to set the bar

6a Animal with desire has briefly got outside (5)
HYENA: Begin with a synonym for desire. Place outside this word the first two letters (briefly) of the word HAS which can be lifted straight from the clue.

9a Dad — gosh! — beginning to nibble cinema food (7)
POPCORN: We have a three-part charade in this clue. 1. A three-letter informal word for you dear father. 2. An exclamation similar to gosh, blimey or my. 3. The first or beginning letter of the word nibble. I take issue with the definition. No food should be consumed at the cinema. I will not go to the multiplexes that stink of cola, candy and the solution to this clue. Saint Sharon and I only go to the cinema at Warwick Arts Centre where audiences arrive in good time, watch in silence and frown gently if anybody dares to unwrap a sweet.

10a Box with crazy old jokes? (9)
CHESTNUTS: A box or coffer is followed by a synonym for crazy to find a description of old tired jokes. It is also used to describe tired old crossword clues.

11a Skilled worker is biased, wanting leader got rid of (7)
ARTISAN: Remove the first letter (wanting leader got rid of) from an adjective meaning prejudiced in favour of a particular cause

12a A new husband in gloomy state — a male condition! (7)
MANHOOD: Place the letter A (gifted to us by a kind setter) together with the abbreviations for new and husband inside an angry irritable or sullen state of mind

13a Admit defeat now and then, sir? Oh, that’s bad! (5,2,4,4)
THROW IN ONE’S HAND: A very easily solved anagram (that’s bad) of NOW AND THEN SIR OH

18a Removes risk element from brilliant exercises (7)
DEFUSES: Begin with a three-lettered informal adjective which is a synonym for brilliant and until now known only to our setter. Add a synonym for exercises. My brain has been truly exercised with this simply solved but hard to explain clue.

20a Applauds a miser reforming, having hoarded pennies once (7)
ADMIRES: Anagram (reformed) of A MISER which contains the Latin abbreviation for a penny. The clue asks for pennies which suggests two times the letter suggested. The word once tells us only one is required.

22a One can work a miracle? The claim’s false! (9)
ALCHEMIST: Anagram (false) of THE CLAIMS. One of the aims of these chaps was to create an acid so strong that it would dissolve anything it came into contact with. If successful what would they have kept it in?

23a Severe sort of wind heading for England (7)
AUSTERE: An archaic term for a south wind (represented by an old man with dusky wings) is followed by the initial (heading) letter of the word England. A quick search of google images was in order to try to understand what dusky wings might look like. It came up with lots of pictures of old aircraft. Now I may be wrong but I reckon that the good old BRB will not tell you that the archaic term for the south wind is also an aeroplane. Bizarrely there are several plates of oysters as well. Possibly it is the French word for Oyster.

24a Most of cast starts to experience pressure — docile types? (5)
SHEEP: Find a synonym for the word cast as in what a snake does with its skin. Remove its last letter as the clue only asks for most of this word. Add the beginning letters (Starts, note the plural) of the words experience and pressure

25a Support one group and tease kids naughtily (4,5)
TAKE SIDES: Anagram (I do get so bored by these) of TEASE KIDS indicated by the word naughtily.


1d Replace inadequate substitute worker (8)
SUPPLANT: Start with a replacement such as a replacement teacher. The word inadequate is asking us to remove the last letter of this word. Add one of Crosswordland’s regular worker insects.

2d Phoney person gets nothing right, going after this person’s job (8)
IMPOSTOR: Begin with a contraction of I Am (this person) Add a synonym for a job) Add the letter that looks like nothing or zero. Add the abbreviation for the word right

3d Indigenous people wander north over island (6)
MAORIS: Use the reverse (north in a down clue) of a word meaning wander. Add one of the abbreviations for the word Island

4d Container that’s brown put outside home, third for recycling (3,3)
TIN CAN: Place a word meaning at home followed by the third letter of the word recycling inside a yellowish brown colour.  Or Place a word meaning at home followed by the third letter of the word recycling inside a verb meaning to become browner due to exposure to the sun

5d Business guys reconvened en masse, about fifty (8)
SALESMEN: Anagram (reconvened) of EN MASSE placed around (about) the Roman numeral for fifty

6d Has to go around smart coastal town (8)
HASTINGS: Place the word HAS from the clue around a verb meaning a sharp pain

7d Does wrong, pocketing copper coin (6)
ESCUDO: Anagram (wrong) of DOES which has the chemical element symbol for copper inside it

8d A maiden exploited, unlike a famous queen? (6)
AMUSED: Begin with the letter A form the clue. Add the abbreviation for maiden. Add a verb meaning exploited. The queen mentioned is Victoria. She was not thus.

14d Exhausted wife, a female joining party in NI (6-2)
WASHED-UP: A Lego clue. Build it up bit by bit. Do as the clue suggests and all will be revealed. Start with the abbreviation for Wife. Add the letter A from the clue. Add the feminine pronoun. Add one of the political parties from Northern Ireland. Job done.

15d Out of sorts titaness can be most unpleasant (8)
NASTIEST: Oh, Lordy Lordy. Not another one. Anagram (out of sorts) of TITANESS

16d A situation where some may be brought down to earth (8)
AIRFIELD: A cryptic definition of somewhere a passenger plane might land. A situation being a location.

17d Little girl with emotional state, extreme suffering (8)
DISTRESS: We need to begin with a girl’s name. Not only do we have to choose correctly from the entire list we also have to shorten it as indicated by the word little. If it helps it’s Harry’s Mum. Followed by a state of mental or emotional tension.

18d Road held up with animals hidden under covers (6)
DRAPES: Use the reverse (held up) of an abbreviation for road. Add a load of monkeys

19d Superficial account placed in record folder (6)
FACILE: Place the abbreviation for account inside a document

20d A change of policy said to be needed in military action (6)
ATTACK: Use the letter A from the clue and add a homophone of a change of policy which is itself based upon a sailing manoeuvre

21d Lots of married fools (6)
MASSES: Use the abbreviation for the word married and add a word meaning fools to get a perfect example of 10 across.

Sarries v Exeter tomorrow. I have a ticket. Bring it on.

Quickie Pun: miss+tree=mystery


67 comments on “DT 28748

  1. A very gentle and enjoyable end to the work week completed at a gallop – **/****.

    Candidates for favourites – 10a, 23a, 3d, 8d and 14d – and the winner is 10a.

    Thanks to Giovanni and GMoLI.

  2. I thought this was a good solid puzzle and enjoyed it. Nothing religious or obscure, just solid clues. Hardly seems like a G puzzle.

    Many thanks to Giovanni and to MP for an amusing blog.

    PS – I keep forgetting to tick ‘the box’ – anyone else?

  3. This anagram-fest from Giovanni did not excite me this morning. 18a I still don’t really understand as far as the first three letters are concerned. 7d probably my favourite for its simplicity and pleasant surface, and overall this was 2.5* /2* for me.

    Thanks to The Don and a Twickenham-bound MP.

    1. Def, according to Chambers, is hip-hop speak for brilliant. I can’t believe that it is part of our setter’s everyday vocabulary and I’m not sure why he expects it to be part of the vocabulary of a typical Telegraph solver.

      1. Giovanni hopes (in vain maybe) that there will be a few solvers of the hip-hop generation learning how to solve crosswords and who will find his puzzles def! (Or maybe there are a few old crossworders out there who actually talk to their children/grandchildren?).

        1. Your hope is not in vain. If archaic words are game, so are neologisms.

          Def Jam record label was formed in 1984 meaning ‘great music’ – that’s 34 years ago.

        2. I am hugely impressed that you have heard the term, DG.

          I present at schools all the time and have heard them all….On fleek, Totes, Bae, Peng, Shade….etc but have never come across Def meaning Excellent (which it does). Deffo is an obvious one but It’s a different meaning to Def.

          Please forgive me for saying this but, as it is so left field that you have heard of it, it begs the question that you had ‘def’ left in the clue and didn’t know what to do with it. So, you looked up possible meanings for it and came across this one.

          I can’t help thinking it and completely understand if you are offended.

        3. I seem to remember this term from TV’s The Wire.

          We watched the first series with subtitles, which, not being privy to Baltimore street talk, made the experience easier and more enjoyable.
          Of course there is “ mos def”, which, in my head, is a short form of “most definitely”, another jive expression.

        4. As with 23a I live and learn. These terms for brilliant and south wind show the wonderful richness of our language. I really enjoyed this puzzle for that reason. Thanks to Giovanni and MP for the hints.

    2. The BRB shows the first three letters of 18a as a slang word for excellent or brilliant originating in hip-hop culture. So, it would appear that there is an ‘age factor’ in play.

    3. Thanks for the explanation. I may be a ‘young’ Salopian, with, I am told, many attributes, but understanding hip-hop culture is sadly not one of them. You live and learn………

    4. It would seem that ‘def’ used in this context has something of a pedigree. DG also used it in a Guardian puzzle on 8th May at which time a comment was left regarding its possible first use – by Araucaria in a Guardian puzzle back in 2008!

      PS I have my crossword guru to thank for the detailed info – I just ‘knew that I knew it’ but hadn’t joined up the dots!

      1. My guess is that the compilers who used it in 2008…etc had a gap to fill in a word and looked up what it stood for which is, of course, common compiler practice (and quite right too).

        I just checked with my triplets and got them to ask a few mates and their siblings of varying ages and no one has heard of it, even though it clearly exists.

        Maybe it was in the playgrounds in the early noughties (hate that one?) but it most certainly hasn’t stuck.

        That’ll be a ‘deffo….or should that be a Daniel? (Defoe)

        It’s moved on.

      2. The first use of def that I’ve found so far is by DG in his Guardian guise of Pasquale: “Really excellent performance based on poor score (2,5)”, in Guardian 22233 (12 June, 2001).

        p.s. the 2008 Araucaria clue was “Brilliant clue to the back teeth? (3,2)”. Your crossword guru pointed out to me that Pasquale commented on the fifteensquared blog for that puzzle to explain that def=brilliant.

  4. The most fun thing about this crossword (and it isn’t the grid with all those double unches that even I noticed) is the way you can make phrases from quite a few of the across clues and then you wonder why 1a’s would have a 5a and also why do 24a 25a? and so on

    Thank you to Giovanni and to MP

  5. Whilst the answer for 20d is clear the reasoning leaves me baffled. Ttack is the most obscure homophone i have met.

  6. Auster in French means a south wind. Has nothing to do with oysters as far as I can tell.
    Loved the whole puzzle
    Thanks to Giovanni and MP

    1. Welcome to the blog Jimbob

      MP was just pointing out that if you put auster into a search engine you get pictures of oysters!

  7. Oh no, another comment vanishes into the ether (guess like LetterboxRoy I probably forgot to tick). Today’s challenge from Giovanni for some reason had a different feel to it but it was as much fun as ever. NE corner was last to yield. I agree with BD’s reply to Young Salopian re 18a and gather def = brill in young speak! Fav was 14d succeeded by 8d. Will now read your hints MP – so thanks for those and also to The Don for a pleasant assignment.

  8. Looked up brilliant in chambers and lo and behold there was ‘Def’-we live and learn-just occurred to me is that how Def Leppard got it’s name?
    Anyway, a **/*** for ne today.
    Liked 1d.
    Won’t mention the cricket-thanks all.

  9. Knew it wasn’t going to be DT today as he safely arrived in Hyères.
    Really looking forward to spending some time with Mrs and Mr Deep Threat over the weekend.
    Found Giovanni in a gentle mood today.
    Even with the double unchecked.
    Thanks to the Don and to MP for the review. Oysters in French are huitres. And to pronounce this word, your lips need to be in the same way as if you tried to suck an egg out of a chicken.

    1. Thanks to MP and all those who have been filling the Friday slot while I am away – at present in beautifully sunny but not too hot Hyères. We’re looking forward to meeting JL shortly.

      By the way, I think that in 20a the ‘once’ is pointing to the abbreviation for pennies being the old, pre-decimal version.

  10. Unlike MP, I don’t get particularly wound up about a proliferation of anagrams in a puzzle and I quite enjoyed this one.

    Favourite was 1d with a mention for 21d – an example of a 10a that still makes me smile.

    Thanks to DG and to MP for the blog, especially the popping corn clip at 9a.

    PS Think you’re missing some business guys in the answer to 5d, MP!

    1. During the solve i just bung the anagrams in with little thought as to the number. it is when blogging and constantly writing the word anagram over and over again that irritation arrives. Thanks for spotting the missing men. I have rounded them up and they are now having a convention. I usually try to avoid these people. They are rarely my type.

  11. I think the “once” in 20 across means “in the past”, when the letter “d” stood for penny and pennies.

    1. Yes indeed particularly as prior to the right penny dropping I had for some time tried to use p for pennies rather than d for pennies once.

  12. I am in the anti-anagram gang but , like beer , there are no bad crosswords just some that are better than others .
    Thanks to everyone and may the best teams win tomorrow , especially Liverpool .

  13. Can’t say that I’d ever heard Def used in this way but maybe as I’m past my prime, it isn’t surprising. As said, you live and learn. Otherwise an enjoyable puzzle again. Thanks to all.

  14. More difficult than 2* worth for me today, even with all the anagrams,
    12a was my last answer.
    I’ve never heard of the ‘brilliant’ bit of 18a and either didn’t know or had forgotten the 23a wind.
    I didn’t notice all the double unchecked letters – I never do.
    I didn’t think there were any outstanding clues but, on the plus side, there were no obscure words or ‘sporty’ or religious clues.
    Thanks to Giovanni and to MP.

  15. I completely agree with Miffypops remarks re 18a , and 17d .
    The unknown unknowns , how is one supposed to solve them ?
    I always approach Giovanni’s puzzles with a little bit of dread .
    Thanks to all concerned .

  16. Amusing stuff, at least more enjoyable then England playing cricket today. Thanks mp and the Don

  17. Quite enjoyed this. Have not done a crossword for a while and it was a nice enough puzzle to return to. Had not remembered that 23a was a wind.
    2.5/2.5 Thanks Mr G and MP.

    1. It has the same root as the word ‘Australia’ and ‘Australis Borealis’ (Southern Lights).

      So, it isn’t as archaic as some people have said above.

  18. The top half went in swimmingly, the bottom half less so. 5a was my top clue – probably because of its simplicity.
    Thanks to DG for the workout, and MP for yet another review!

  19. Found this just as tricky as yesterdays puzzle and not nearly as much fun. Like Kath I thought this was much tougher than a two star rating. SE segment gave me most trouble and needed MP help for the “defgate” clue, with 24a being last in. Not one of my favourite Giovanni puzzles but that’s part of the game, not all the puzzles are going to fly my kite every single day.

    Clues of the day: 13a / 19d

    Rating: 3.5* / 2.5*

    Thanks to MP and Giovanni.

  20. Just a quick comment as MP has mentioned the match at Twickenham tomorrow. Mrs SL is quite poorly so I have 2 tickets for anyone who wants to attend the match but only if you can pick them up from me. They are free of charge. Sorry to misuse your blog MP

    1. Hello SL – I’d love to catch up and take you up on your fine offer, but I’m fitting a shower tray tomorrow. Deep joy. Not.

      1. That’s a shame lbr I’m pretty sure that it will be a great match.

  21. Some enjoyable clues/answers – 21d & 22a esp. Thanks for the explanation for 18a.

  22. Gentle workout today, although it took me a bit longer because I was watching the Test Match at the same time. I am of the ‘I-don’t-like-too-many-anagrams’ brigade. Enjoyable solves with no real stand-out clue for me. I had come across def before in a different context which was helpful.

  23. Didn’t do a lot of this at work but I am not yet ready to resort to what are I am sure excellent hints as I have been watching the most amazing cycle racing from Chris Froome. I will give the crossword another push before the hints and may be some time.

  24. There are two answers here that have special relevance for us. 3d of course, where we were rather surprised to find that the answer is an acceptable plural according to BRB. In our experience and common usage in NZ the S is generally not used.
    There is a place in Hawkes Bay NZ with the same name as the 6d answer but unlike the UK one it is not coastal. It is where we two both lived when we first met many years ago.
    Pleasant solve that we enjoyed.
    Thanks Giovanni and MP.

  25. Fairly straightforward and enjoyable despite all those double unches. :-) Last in 16d, which is obvious once you have all the checking letters but perhaps not before.

  26. I was all over the place filling this in today. The anagrams started me off. Only confused by thinking it was a Monday. Are you reviewing on Monday Miffypops or have you done a swop? Thank you Giovanni and thank you Friday Miffypops. We have four rather large blue tit chicks left in the nest. Four young chicks were taken by a great spotted woodpecker which attacked the nest a few days ago. Mrs blue tit has been teasing her youngsters this evening by bringing various titbits into the nest, showing the youngsters, then she’s turned round and been sitting in the entrance/ exit hole trying to encourage the chicks out if they want more food. Cunning. We think they might fledge tomorrow. It’s 18 days since they hatched.

    1. As Peter is away for a few weeks the Friday blogging duties have been shared out to those willing to give it a go. I will be back on Monday as usual and I am also doing next Friday which wasn’t on the list but but ferry timings meant it became available. I remember a time when it seemed Big Dave was doing hints on most days. Somebody commented on this and BD called for volunteers and that is how I arrived in the Monday slot. It is fun to do and gets easier with experience. The comments and thanks are what keep us going. So thanks to all who comment.

    2. Horrific. All that work by the parent birds only to lose out to a predator. We are on tenterhooks here as our little brood is on the point of fledging. Our nest cam died just after they hatched (typical) but we have still been entranced. I think if our lot were predated my wife would cry for a week. She loves them to bits.

  27. I like anagrams, but agree with Miffypops that this is a clever puzzle from Giovanni – just too clever for me, and throw in the hip hop part and I am off to make a cuppa instead.

  28. Bit annoyed about 18a
    Remove “risk element” (re) from exercises and you get excises which means removes.
    Held me up for ages. Got there in the end.
    Thanks to both

  29. I thought I got off to a good start but making an error in 1a is always going to be fatal. I stumbled on all the down clues from the top row 8a eventually took a hint to fall and then I realised that although STEAMSHIP was a fine anagram of the fodder it mucked up 4 of the down clues and a major groan when the penny finally dropped let me solve the rest no bother.
    I am old enough to remember d for pennies and tanners and Fruit Polos yet Def=brilliant didn’t cause any probs. I assumed it was just an abbreviation for Definitive?
    I once sucked a fruit polo so long that it was as thin (and sharp) as a razor blade and lacerated my tongue quite badly. I still miss fruit polos though.
    Thanks to mr pops and gio

  30. I always get confused when a first person pronoun is suggested by the clue as in 2 down. In my way of thinking, “this person” suggests “me”, “this person’s” suggests “my” and neither of them suggest “I am”.
    Many thanks to all concerned, the blog is “def”.

    1. Hello AussieCris. I agree about 2d which is why the hint is written as it is. I have learned that the setter and the editor are rarely wrong so I keep my reservations to myself.

  31. Another fine puzzle from the dependable G. About average difficulty for him with good clues and an enjoyable solve. 3* / 3.5*

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