DT 28879 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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DT 28879

Daily Telegraph Cryptic No 28879

Hints and tips by Falcon

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BD Rating – Difficulty *** / ****Enjoyment ****

Greetings from Ottawa, where life has returned to what passes for normal following the tornado. I say “what passes for normal”, as construction crews have been busily at work on the storm sewer on our street since July, removing relatively small concrete pipes and replacing them with humongous concrete pipes. I guess the next biblical plague is expected to be a flood.

As for the puzzle, charade enthusiasts will likely love it as, by my count, 16 of the 28 clues are charades or partial charades. I found many of the clues difficult to decipher, although in hindsight I can’t see why that should have been the case. The clues look very straightforward — at least, they do once you know the solution! Then again, perhaps I was just off my game.

In the hints below, underlining identifies precise definitions and cryptic definitions, and indicators are italicized. The answers will be revealed by clicking on the ANSWER buttons.

Please leave a comment telling us what you thought of the puzzle.


1a   Suitable jumper medium? Find out here (7-4)
FITTING ROOM — a charade of suitable or appropriate, an Australian animal known for its jumping ability, and a letter you might find on the label of a jumper or other garment; the entire clue is a cryptic definition (which one can interpret as meaning “a place where one would find out if a medium jumper is the right size to buy”) in which the wordplay is embedded

7a   Follower making arrangement to usurp monarch (7)
PURSUER — an anagram of (arrangement to) USURP precedes our monarch’s regnal cipher

8a   That woman returned ring for varnish … (7)
SHELLAC — a feminine personal pronoun followed by a reversal (returned) of a word meaning to ring on the telephone

10a   … ring for Charlie in ‘Hair and Beauty‘ (5)
LOOKS — take some curls of hair and insert a ring-shaped letter in place of the letter represented by charlie in radio communication

11a   Next to assistant, hiding desires (9)
ALONGSIDE — an assistant placed around a word meaning desires strongly or pines

12a   European fuses creating issues (7)
EMERGES — E(uropean) comes before a word meaning blends, combines or joins

14a   With interruption of power, rather faulty speaker (7)
SPOONER — when a physicist’s symbol for power is placed in an adverb denoting rather or preferably, the result is the famous reverend who hissed the mystery lecture

15a   Fuel company noticeably depleted French region (7)
GASCONY — string together a 4d fuel, the abbreviation for company, and N(oticeabl)Y missing its interior letters (depleted)

18a   Some loathe a treatment room in hospital (7)
THEATRE — if you cut away the surplus letters, you will find the room hiding in clue

20a   Where racing drivers compete  enthusiastically? (2,1,3,3)
IN A BIG WAY — a double definition, the first rather cryptic

21a   Torrent reduced surface by delta (5)
FLOOD — a lower interior surface missing its final letter followed by the letter represented by delta in radio communication

22a   Keeping close to bear, Pooh’s friend set off (7)
TRIGGER — Pooh’s bouncy friend ingesting the final letter of beaR

23a   Give learner tips from elder animal trainer (7)
HANDLER — concatenate a word meaning to give or pass (something), the letter that must be displayed by learner drivers, and the outside letters (tips) of EldeR

24a   Daughter with hidden pressure before creative social event (6,5)
DINNER PARTY — a charade of D(aughter), a synonym for hidden (said of thoughts or feelings), a physicist’s symbol for pressure, and a word denoting creative in an affected or ostentatious way


1d   Given up working in smithy (7)
FORGONE — a word meaning working or functioning inside a blacksmith’s workshop

2d   Secure half of trunks on ship (5)
TRUSS — place the first half of TRUnks on top of the usual Crosswordland ship

3d   Raids in Greek island reported (7)
INROADS — the solution sounds like a Greek island, once home to a colossal statue

4d   Usage so versatile, like some elements (7)
GASEOUS — an anagram (versatile) of USAGE SO

5d   Cook’s covering duck with very English honey? (4,5)
OVEN GLOVE — Lego time again; connect a crickety duck, V(ery), an abbreviation for English, and a term of endearment

6d   Note cat eating large amount (7)
MILLION — start with the third note of the musical scale; then append a cat that is not only large but has consumed L(arge); although not specified, the required amount is also large

7d   Harry Potter’s agile seeing off a supernatural being (11)
POLTERGEIST — an anagram (harry) of POTTERS (a)GILE after removing the A (seeing off A); “harry” is presumably used as an anagram indicator based on it meaning to ravage or destroy

9d   Supporter of revolutionary device like Kindle bringing in fifty (11)
CHEERLEADER — sit the ubiquitous South American revolutionary in front of a device such as the Kindle; then insert into this the Roman numeral for fifty

13d   Becoming more appealing to go in pub after good argument (7,2)
GROWING ON — place GO in another name for a pub; then front this with a charade of G(ood) and a noisy quarrel

16d   Bread is prepared for gannet, perhaps (7)
SEABIRD — an anagram (prepared) of the first two words in the clue

17d   Plant in yard he’d water here regularly (3,4)
YEW TREE — begin with Y(ard); then add a regular sequence of letters from hE‘d WaTeR hErE

18d   Blurry photos bearing unknown retailer (7)
TOYSHOP — an anagram (blurry) of PHOTOS containing (bearing) one of the mathematical unknowns

19d   One taken up the aisle raised cry, with nothing right (7)
TROLLEY — link together a synonym for cry or shout, the letter that looks like a zero, and a two-letter abbreviation for right; then reverse the lot (raised in a down clue)

21d   Comparatively thin piece of fish gutted earlier (5)
FINER — a body part of a fish followed by the exterior letters (gutted) of EarlieR

I thought the clues virtually without exception exhibited very smooth surface readings. That perhaps contributed to the difficulty level — no clunky surface readings giving away cryptic devices. There were also a few novel anagram indicators to raise the challenge. Perusing the clues after having finished the review — in an attempt to pick a favourite — I gained a greater appreciation for the puzzle. In fact, I went back and added a star for enjoyment. While picking a favourite is a difficult task, I will place 14a, 22a, and 19d on the podium with the latter taking the gold medal. And an honourable mention to 21a, merely due to the construction mess surrounding me.

Quickie Pun: SOLE + LOAF + LIGHT = SOLO FLIGHT I have taken a stab at the Quickie Pun knowing that my attempt is almost certainly incorrect. I have no idea how many elements to include and what I have entered makes virtually no sense. I am sure someone will correct it while I am asleep. [Now corrected – thanks Robert.  BD


62 comments on “DT 28879

  1. Chronic insomnia allowed me to complete this, I’m sorry to say, rather uninspiring outing. Even though complete, I am very gratified to find the hints available as I found some of the parsing very outre to say the least!! I can only assume that Falcon is afflicted with the same sleep issue as I!
    I have no idea why 20a is what it is.
    Thanks both.

    1. Spare a thought for those who have not yet tackled the Quick Crossword please. The comments here are for comments about A. This cryptic puzzle. B. Life in general. (We have had some very strange but amusing threads)

        1. Thanks Dave. I usually do the Quick Crossword straight after the Cryptic well before the blog gets published.

          1. Funny how we all have different routines. Mine is to solve the cryptic & the toughie in the evening while nursing a glass or two or three of a malt &hops based drink & save the quickie & the codeword for the following morning while enjoying a mug of strong Yorkshire Gold.

            1. When I solved in the newspaper I read all the across cryptic clues followed by all the across quick clues. Then all the down cryptic clues followed by the down quick clues and so on until compete. Now I do The Cryptic followed by the Quick followed by the codeword. The Toughie is an afternoon pleasure.

    1. Caroline, normally the Quickie pun is the first two across clues. However, it can be more than this which is indicated in the paper by italicising the clues, but I don’t think this applies to the electronic version. Today the pun is the first three across clues.

      1. Ah! I think I misunderstood your comment as saying the components of the pun today were two words but you meant the answer was two words. Did you mean to type “… first 3 across clues”?
        E and 3 are very close on the keyboard :wink:

      2. RD – you are correct, there is no italicisation for the Quickie Pun in the (web site) electronic version which can make it somewhat more challenging.

        1. Maybe the new improved version of puzzles.telegraph will have italics?

          How many months ago did Chris Lancaster say “It’s a matter of weeks rather than months?”

          Not an exact quote … but something like that.

          1. I have to admit that I am somewhat pleased that I see the ‘present’ version when I launch the web site. I can only assume that the new site is not doing well in testing.

  2. 3* / 4*. I wasn’t sure about this when I started but the more I completed, the more I warmed to it with its brief but smooth cluing throughout. My only reservation is 20a for which neither definition makes any sense to me.

    Falcon, I think in your review the “to” in 13d needs to be underlined as part of the definition. I’m delighted to hear that life in Ottawa has settled down after the tornado and I hope that your fears of plague and flood are not realised.

    My favourite thanks to its absolutely brilliant definition is 19d.

    Many thanks to Mr Ron and to Falcon.

  3. For a change I managed to complete this early in the day (as in bed with a cold – a shame as it is a beautiful day, but now I’m up I will clear my head with a walk on the beach) and quite liked it apart from 20ac as many have already mentioned. My favourite was 14 ac. Thought 17dn was a bit clunky.

    Thanks setter and Falcon.

  4. My pick of the clues finds me in complete agreement with RD @ #4 as I thought 19d was quite exceptional. I got on our setter’s wavelength fairly quickly today and thoroughly enjoyed the whole puzzle. Many thanks to Mr Ron and Falcon.

    Mrs YS and I are off to a concert at Symphony Hall Birmingham shortly, the brilliant Benjamin Grosvenor playing Mozart. A rare opportunity to see an exceptional young talent.

    1. Centenary Square is a screened off building site. The rest of the area around Symphony Hall is looking like a second city should. Enjoy BennyG. He is to play Mozart K467 today. I like hearing Helene Grimaud playing this. Anyway enjoy your time in Birmingham and enjoy the gig. BennyG and the CBSO. As good a covers band as you will find anywhere

      1. Thanks MP. The whole programme was excellent. A drop of Wagner and Sibelius to top and tail the Mozart. You are right about the area around the ICC. An absolute mess, and I cannot see it being ready for the usual Xmas ice rink, market and big wheel. But when it is finished, it will be a remarkable addition to the city.

    2. Found this on the difficult side of tricky 😬 ***/*** needed help with 1d & 5d 😕 Favourites 3d & 11a Thanks to Falcon and to the Setter 😃

  5. As is often the case, today’s initial bark was much worse than the bite so I soon got going and then enjoyed the ensuing exercise. East got there ahead of West. Alternative spelling for 1d fooled me for a while. I wasn’t keen on 1a and am with RD et al re dubious 20a. 19d was Fav hotly pursued by 10a which was last in. Many thanks Mysteron (RayT?) and Falcon.

  6. Although I can’t say I like it, I think 20a just about works. If you accept that Silverstone is a very large road, then Mr Hamilton races “In a big way” and considering his reactions when he wins, he certainly celebrates enthusiastically, or in a big way.

    Many thanks to all.

  7. After a slow start leading to panic wondering if I would find a clue I could actually do, it went in surprisingly quickly, right side first.
    I enjoyed it very much, nice surfaces, but was unconvinced by my (correct) answer to 20a so once again many thanks for the reassurace provided by the blog,
    To Falcon, and to the setter, thanks to you both. (I liked the cartoons!)

  8. Looked daunting but once started went v well. Particularly liked 5d and 19d. Agree about 20a. Still find the Toughie, well, tough. Love getting the hints to help me puzzle through it.

  9. For me, this was somewhat uninspiring causing furrowed brows and finished at a fast canter with no standout favourite – **/**.

    Totally agree with all the comments on 20a; if it takes the lengthy explanation that MalcomR has ‘put together’ it can’t be a very good clue.

    Thanks to the setter and Falcon.

  10. Hit and miss for me today . Liked 14a but not 20a . Needed the hint for 10a to parse .
    Thanks to everyone .

  11. I found this quite tough and resorted to the hints for the last couple. Setter one, MP Nil. It has been a long time since that happened with a back pager. Off to London soon.

  12. Thank you to Setter and Blogger.

    Is there a reason why this was posted early? I clicked on the latest comment this morning, expecting it to be for yesterday’s puzzle. Fortunately I had already done today’s or it would have been very annoying.

    Puzzle was very nice anyway. The semi-&lit 1a, the faulty speaker 14a, 6d (reminded me of my cat) and 19d all favourites.

    1. As you have noticed, each member of the blogging team has his or her own idiosyncratic way of working. Falcon lives in Ottawa, a city that has decided British Summer Time is not for them. So he solves and blogs a good five hours ahead of the rest of us. Most bloggers set their blogs to appear at 11am. Falcon just posts it when he has finished it. He usually blogs once a month sharing Thursdays with Kath and Pommers who both follow the 11.00am timings. Both 11.00am for the back pager and 2.00 pm for the Toughie are only guidelines. We try but sometimes (rarely) real life gets in the way.

    2. Many solvers that I know like the site’s 11am publication policy because it forces them to solve on their own for long enough that they might experience the satisfaction of making good progress unaided, but not for so long that they are left frustrated for most of the day.

      I thought this was a puzzle packed with excellent clues (except for 20a). Thanks to the setter and to Falcon.

  13. I thought this was an excellent puzzle, nicely challenging with some cracking clues and elegant surfaces. My picks of a very good crop were 22a, 5d, 6d and 13d.

    Many thanks to today’s setter and to Falcon.

  14. Like many others,l was dubious about 20a,but bunged it in anyway .14a was last to go in and favourite was 5d.A great clue..although I was trying to get glaze in there at first ..with the honey and all ..sounded delicious!
    Thanks to all.

  15. Enjoyable puzzle, not too challenging. Same thoughts bout 20a as many others of you. Good to see the professor appearing in 14a – is this a sign of thin gs to come? I think 10a is just the winner for me. Now for the Toughie – wish me luck!

  16. Enjoyable, tricky in places, favourite 24a
    For me, ***
    Don’t understand 20a. though.
    Many thanks to the setter, and Falcon for the review.

  17. I concur with the first blogger, uninspiring and the first part of 20a is just plain daft! I think the setter is confusing cryptic with nonsensical..
    Thx for the hints and trying to explain 20a.

  18. As a ‘charadist ‘this was right up my street and made a note of **/**** on completion.
    I failed to see how the first part of the double definition worked in 20a -must just be me.
    Liked 9d and 19.
    Thanks Falcon for the pics-18a made me smile.

  19. ***/**. Not a particularly enjoyable solve and like some others 20a was a bit of a stretch. Thanks to the setter and Falcon. Our Indian summer is rapidly ending but nice while it lasted.

  20. I’m in the ‘really enjoyable puzzle – 20a ‘what’s that for’ camp.

    Thanks to Mr X and Falcon

  21. After an exceptionally late night working on the review, I slept late this morning.

    I found this to be a puzzle which requires one to slowly tease out the answers over a long period of time. Normally, I find that a very pleasurable experience. However, when the blogging clock is ticking loudly, the experience can be a bit unsettling.

    Like many who have commented, I found that 20a required one to really stretch their mind to get their head around it. I think MalcolmR has provided an excellent explanation at Comment #8.

    Sorry about the misguided attempt at the Quickie Pun. For years I ignored this feature, relying on someone else to fill it in. For the last few reviews, I have attempted to do it myself. Clearly, I had failed to carefully read the rule book. I thought (like in a Nina) that I had to use the letters in the top row of the grid. This approach worked well until today..Now I discover it is the answers to the first (for an online solver, unknown number) of clues in the puzzle with which I need to be concerned (which, as today, may extend over more than one row of the grid). Thank you to Big Dave for stepping in and dealing with the situation.

  22. Well I rather enjoyed this, I thought there were some cracking clues, the well concealed anagram of 18d and the well constructed 5d foremost amongst them. I quite like the much criticised 20a, I think it’s clever .
    Thanks to Falcon for the excellent review and to the setter.

  23. I quite enjoyed this – translation, I was able to solve it without frying my brain, albeit with electronic help for the last couple.
    I agree with Falcon that the clues flowed nicely.
    It’s hard to choose a fave as I thought quite a few would qualify.
    Thanks to our setter and to Falcon for his hints and tips, most enjoyable.

  24. A pleasant crossword that got just a glance at the hints. I had 24a as a dance rather than the correct answer and therefore a more specific 18d but common sense soon prevailed. I too was a bit daunted to start with when I tried to cram an 8 letter word into 7 lights at 1a but an apt answer soon came and the rest followed lickey split.
    Thanks to Falcon and setter.

  25. Late in again today but I certainly enjoyed this one. That wretched reverend managed to cause me problems even without getting his words muddled and I was also rather slow to get the cook’s covering.

    1a made me laugh (especially with the accompanying cartoon) and I’m nominating that along with Pooh’s friend for top honours.

    Thanks to Mr Ron and to Falcon for the blog – glad to hear that life is getting back to ‘normal’.

  26. No real holdups encountered with today’s puzzle… once I had started that is!
    5d or 9d were fave; I’ll go with the latter just to avoid the dreaded WoK.
    Thanks to the setter, and to Falcon for the review.

  27. ‘Motorway drivers’ rather than ‘racing drivers’ would make very slightly more sense for 20a. Although a completely different clue would work better I think.
    I enjoyed the rest of it though, thanks to Falcon and setter.

  28. Reading Falcon’s pre and postamble (ooh, I like this new term), I am not surprised that I liked it so much.
    I love charades.
    Found the clues very smooth as well.
    Thanks to the setter for the enjoyment and to Falcon for the review.

  29. Yikes, we seem to be getting a run of quite difficult puzzles recently. *** for difficulty, and one I wasn’t sure I’d finish. I for one am eagerly awaiting the new puzzles site, as I quite fancy solving on my Kindle.

  30. For 5 down I came up with over glaze. This made 14 across impossible. Otherwise all went well. Thanks to all..

  31. I needed quite a bit of electronic help with this one, but got there in the end. I didn’t help myself by putting farrier into 1d. Thanks to all

  32. Quite a struggle this evening. Eventually had to resort to blog as I had stutter in 14a. Agree that general standard of puzzles has been harder recently or am I just losing it! Thought 1a was a very nice charade. I enjoy solving charades more than anagrams. Thanks to all.

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