DT 28904 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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DT 28904


Daily Telegraph Cryptic No 28904

Hints and tips by Deep Threat

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

BD Rating – Difficulty ***Enjoyment ***

Good morning from South Staffs on yet another damp, misty morning.

I found today’s Giovanni to be quite challenging, with some of the bits of GK outside my comfort zone – the horse at 18d and the composer at 26a were both new to me.

In the hints below, the definitions are underlined. The answers are hidden under the ANSWER buttons, so don’t click if you don’t want to see them.

Please leave a comment telling us what you thought. 


1a           County team’s disadvantage (8)
DOWNSIDE – A county in Northern Ireland followed by another word for a team.

5a           Catholic services getting lots (6)
MASSES – Double definition: Catholic celebrations of the Eucharist; and another word for ‘lots’.

9a           Favourite child in difficult situation in African country (8)
BENJAMIN – A West African country wrapped around another word for a difficult situation, giving us the name of the beloved youngest son of Jacob in the Old Testament.

10a         Arrive at total (4,2)
COME TO – A pretty straightforward double definition: both parts are verbs.

12a         Various bits of velour in art gallery (6)
LOUVRE – Anagram (various bits) of VELOUR.

13a         Those who criticise devices to attract attention of residents (8)
KNOCKERS – Another double definition: a figurative term for people who criticise negatively; or a device on your front door used by callers.

15a         Shook as one shown the way ahead (7)
QUAILED – Put together the Latin for ‘as’ or ‘in the capacity of’, The Roman numeral for one, and another word for ‘shown the way ahead’.

16a         North African place of desolation? (4)
MOOR – A generic term for those of North African origin – like Othello – is also a piece of desolate upland.

20a         Contemptible person? Just a bit, hiding love (4)
TOAD – Another word for a little bit wrapped around the letter which looks like a love score at tennis.

21a         The curt drunk in foreign city (7)
UTRECHT – Anagram (drunk) of THE CURT. Some may remember that Dr Strabismus (whom God preserve) came from there.

Image result for utrecht

25a         Fish and chips mostly cooked with lard (8)
PILCHARD – Anagram (cooked) of CHIP (chips mostly) and LARD.

26a         Composer to give a verse new setting (6)
VARESE – Anagram (give … new setting) of A VERSE. The answer is a French-born American composer who died in 1965. Here’s one of his pieces: I don’t think I’ll be looking for others.

ARVE Error: need id and provider

28a         Pull number back getting ahead (6)
ONWARD – Put together another word for ‘pull’ and an abbreviation for ‘number’, then reverse the lot.

29a         Assign numbers to a drink to be stored by head (8)
PAGINATE – A (from the clue) and some strong drink, with another word for ‘head’ wrapped around the result.

30a         ‘Essential to get eastern money back’ (economist) (6)
KEYNES – Another word for ‘essential’ followed by the reverse (back) of some Asian currency.

Image result for keynes

31a         Reportedly hung around to be given a handicap (8)
WEIGHTED – A homophone (reportedly) of a word meaning ‘hung around’.


1d           Tool in stream of liquid not beginning to rust (6)
DIBBLE – Remove the first letter of Rust from a thin stream of liquid to get a garden tool. I’m more familiar with the alternative spelling of this, which ends ‘-ER’.

2d           Worried person is said to have this finish (4,2)
WIND UP – This expression for bringing a speech or the affairs of a company to a close can also, with a different pronunciation, be part of a figurative description of someone who’s uneasy or frightened.

3d           Fish are stout swimming around (3,5)
SEA TROUT – Anagram (swimming around) of ARE STOUT.

Image result for sea trout


4d           Welshman’s platform (4)
DAIS – A speaker’s platform which could also be a common Welsh name plus the ‘S from the clue.

6d           Affirm, using Bible with an expression suggesting pain (6)
AVOUCH – The two-letter acronym for the King James Bible, followed by an exclamation of pain, giving us a word for ‘affirm’ which the BRB classifies as ‘archaic’.

7d           Description of key scheme reduced to essentials (8)
SKELETON – Double definition: the sort of key which used to open inconvenient locks in old detective stories; or the bare bones of a plan.

8d           Supporters making tracks with eleven players finally inside (8)
SPONSORS – Take the last letters (finally) of eleveN playerS and put them inside some tracks left by wildlife.

11d         Woman, no longer one looking after paper that’s taken over (7)
ANNEXED – Put together a woman’s name, the prefix meaning ‘once’ or ‘former’, and an abbreviation for the person in charge of a newspaper.

14d         Imagine member of ancient tribe on Yorkshire river (7)
PICTURE – The ‘painted people’ who lived in pre-Roman Scotland, followed by the river which flows through Boroughbridge in North Yorkshire.

17d         Valve head of plumbing company installed in store (8)
STOPCOCK – Put together the first letter (head) of Plumbing and an abbreviation for COmpany, then insert the result into the store of goods held by a trader.

18d         Horse with energy carrying everyone over street? (8)
GALLOWAY – Another word for ‘energy’ or ‘drive’ wrapped around ‘everyone’ followed by another word for street or road. The answer is a type of horse named for the district of Scotland where it originated.

Image result for galloway horse

19d         Beginning to stand trial for activity on farm (8)
SHEARING – The first letter of Stand followed by another word for a trial in court.

22d         Cleaner gets only half what customer pays (6)
CHARGE – A domestic cleaning person followed by the first half of GEts.

23d         Occupant dealt with by letter (6)
TENANT – The letter here is the landlord.

24d         Have another look at what could turn out to be dearer (6)
REREAD – Here we have a reverse anagram, where the answer could form the fodder for an anagram (could turn out to be) which produces ‘dearer’.

27d         Upset produced by iron-bound extremist characters (4)
FAZE – The chemical symbol for iron wrapped around the first and last letters of the alphabet.

The Quick Crossword pun POLE + TACKS = POLL TAX

91 comments on “DT 28904

  1. I struggled a bit in the SW corner, not helped by never having heard of the composer. I thought 1d was what you did with the tool ending in ER that DT mentions in his hint and that the 18d was a type of cattle. Also according my Biblical sources, Joseph was the favourite son not 9a

    Thanks to Giovanni and DT

    1. A reverend gentleman known to some of you made the same point about Benjamin. I originally defined B. by tribe, but my editor thought the Chambers defintion would be more helpful, and I am always inclined (being an editor myself) to trust an editor’s judgement. (I’d have like tribe though!)

  2. Finished but not without difficulty especially as backed the wrong horse in 15D ( although it seemed to fit ok ) .Never heard of the composer which did not help as well .

    Favourites 9a ,13a ,23a but top award to 27d .

    Thanks to everyone .

    1. Welcome to the blog C.Cunnington

      The spoilers are there, but don’t show on some platforms. Unless you tell us what yours is, we cant help at all.

  3. The 26a clip reminds me of when my mother used to give me a wooden spoon and some pans as a toddler.
    1d reminded me of Top Cat (anyone else?)

    Not my favourite puzzle, but thanks to the Don and DT

  4. This was excellent from the reliably good G. A good challenge, good clues and a really enjoyable solve (yes, that’s three “goods”). One or two bits of obscurity, but that’s fine in a serious cryptic puzzle. I initially had 30a ending in Y (which would eminently fit the wordplay) but it didn’t look quite right, so I checked it on Google. I ticked 20a and 25a, but it could have been many others. 3.5* / 4*

  5. I agree with DT on a ***/*** today ,a steady solve for me, not helped by putting the answer to 14d in 11d.
    Last in was 15a ,I thought Latin must be involved as the definition was the only reasonable solution.
    Liked 27d when the penny finally dropped.
    I think that I had heard of 29a as i was quite pleased to have worked out the charade.
    Thanks DT for the picks, lovely sea trout-used to night fish with worm on the Liner

  6. Thanks to Giovanni and to Deep Threat for the review and hints. After failing to get 9a, I thought it was an African country, I largely gave up on this. Needed 10 hints to finish. Too much GK for my liking. Favourite was 29a. Was 5*/2* for me.

  7. I thought the source word for the answer to 1d was a somewhat dubious description of a ‘stream of liquid’ – it’s more like a trickle in my book.
    Otherwise, this was the usual Friday assortment of names and GK.

    Thanks to DG and to DT for the blog. Like you, I didn’t know the composer and the clip persuades me that I haven’t missed much!

  8. 4* / 1*. Today we had a pangram with an extinct horse and an obscure composer but only one man/woman/boy/girl. The edges went in quite smoothly but I got held up in the centre and found it a bit of a slog although I did like 27d.

    I’m sure others will have enjoyed it.

    Thanks to setter and to DT.

  9. I knew the composer, and the horse had to be what it was, but this was a bit of a struggle to complete. 27d stood out for me as a favourite, but I thought this Giovanni lacked sparkle, and I speak as an admirer and one who enjoys a bit of GK.

    Thanks to The Don and DT.

  10. Not too bad but made more difficult by having no idea who the composer is or was and the presence of three religious clues which I personally find offensive.
    Needed to drag up my fifth form Latin for 15a.
    Thx to all

  11. I enjoyed Giovann’s offering today – I knew the composer but not the horse. Thanks to him and DT. I am also just seeing vertical lines for the click here – I’m using Chrome on a laptop with Windows 10.

  12. Can anyone help me with opening the answers please as mu Macbook does not seem able to do so. Thank you

  13. Like the weather, left me a bit cold. Needed hints for four so thank you DT.

    Thanks to Giovanni not your fault, just me. As nearly always you win

  14. Parts fell into place quite easily, but I struggled with the rest and needed to get hints to complete.
    Thanks to Deep Threat and the Don

  15. Yesterday and today I cannot access the answers if I need them. There is a vertical line down in front of the box where the answer is stored and when that is present, the answer will not be revealed. Why has that line suddenly appeared?

    1. Welcome to the blog, Carol. We are still trying to understand why the buttons over the answers are misbehaving for some users.

      Were they working properly for you before yesterday? What computer/phone/tablet and browser are you using?

  16. I’m usually right on wavelength with Giovanni puzzles but I agree with YS that cryptic sparkle was missing today. 29a new to me. Messed up by toying with ‘lingered’ for 31a. As frequently in the past, the letter in 23d didn’t occur to me. Liked surfaces of the simple 13a and 22d but not keen on 11d. Thank you DG and DT. Spoilers are back today.

    1. Are the spoilers on yesterday’s blog now also working for you? What computer/phone/tablet and browser are you using?

  17. I couldn’t see the spoilers yesterday or today. I have a Kindle Fire.


    Find today’s puzzle v difficult.

    1. 404 on the Toughie for about the past hour – it was fine prior to that.
      PC Windows 7 with Internet Explorer.

  18. I eventually cracked my last one at 29a, but also cannot open the spoilers-I use an HP laptop.

  19. Whether this will help the IT probs I don’ know. I have always been working but the the cryptic blog is in an endless loop these days. It is continuously trying to download something. ASUS Android.

  20. I have found this entire week to be a bit tough, I did manage to finally get there but most of the time only because of the hints here, and a few times only by looking at the answers, which means I didn’t really do it. I think my brain must be a bit mushy because of the change in our weather, -22C last night here, hey it’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it! I haven’t touched a drop of Egg Nog yet I promise.

    I have laughed out loud a few times, I love a silly pun or slightly smutty giggle, sometimes I think I am somehow chaneling Terry Scott in schoolboy mode……

    Have a good weekend everyone.

    1. When did they stop working for you? If they worked on Wednesday or Thursday of this week, can you check whether they still work on those days?

      1. Thanks for reply. First noticed spoilers not working yesterday. Checked back a few days still not working. But I have tried the new version of toughie 2131 and that did work! Cheers and thanks. kindle fire.

  21. 404 on the Toughie here too.
    As for this one – how nice to have a cryptic that gives that little bit extra to think about. No complaints from me on the religious ones – they were the easy bits. I don’t think I’d have got 30 across without outside help if I’d sat here all afternoon though. 9 across was my favourite and also my grandson’s name, so was first in – 17 down was my ‘lol’ clue and 26 across tested my musical knowledge. Brian’s comment about religious clues saddens me – I’ll keep my stronger thoughts to my self! Thanks to Mr Manley and DT.

  22. I have absolutely loved this site for ages, but until now, haven’t felt able to contribute. I use Google Chrome on a Windows 7
    pc ( pre-war, I know but it suits me) and had a few problems accessing the site in the last few weeks which seemed to have been solved until yesterday when the vertical lines came back. Today I tried control F5 and it worked!
    Your bloggers might be interested to hear that I have been trying to do the DT crossword almost every day since the sixties when my father introduced us. I am constantly astonished by the brilliance of your setters and bloggers but frequently feel inadequate!

  23. the little marks to to the left of your hints don’t work on my phone-this could mean I have to work the answers out myself!!

      1. Oh right thanks, is there a problem with them? I’m using an iPad and they look quite normal to me! 🤔

  24. I think I enjoyed this one today although it was pretty tough going. I should have solved 15a which was my last one in and knowing it was a pangram and the first letter was missing from the grid. So kicking myself now. Like others the word for stream of liquid in 1d is not a good synonym.

    I am on Kindle Fire and so far have not experienced any problems with spoilers for a long time. They are always accessible – and useful!

  25. That was really, really hard and I needed lots of help to finish.
    I did know the composer but can do without his discordant music.
    I also had the wrong horse in 18d, never heard of it, thought they were bovine.
    Thanks to Giovanni and to Deep Threat for bailing me out.

      1. Absolutely was! It was all there – street, everyone, not being a scientist, I thought an ion was energy! You can make anything be what you want it to be.

  26. Well good luck with that one Malcolm!
    I found today’s puzzle very tough and needed the hints for quite a few.
    Thank you for those or I’d be tearing my hair.
    I only knew 18d as a breed of cattle ..of the belted variety.
    As for the composer..where did he come from?
    I need a stiff drink now as my head is hurting, but it’s good to have to stretch myself.
    Thanks to all.

  27. We also had problems in the SW. Knew of the cattle but not the horse. Later checking showed us that it is listed as a horse in Mrs B and in BRB so no excuses there. A bit trickier than usual and a pleasure to solve.
    Thanks Giovanni and DT.

    1. 2K
      In my Google search I found you can buy Galloway horses / ponies in Australia (for whatever that is worth).

  28. Giovanni 1 Scousegit 0. It just wasn’t my day. Thanks DT, without you I’d be like 25a (which I did discern) on toast.

  29. Using Safari on iPad found going to Settings then sslecting Safari then clicking on Clear history and Web Data restores Spoilers.

  30. I’m giving Friday’s a miss from now on. Loved Silvanus’s toughie,but this setter seems to be being too clever for the sake of it.

    1. I’m afraid I agree with you.. I love a challenge but incorrect religious references, archaic words, virtually extinct horses and a composer known only to his mum and a few friends!! I tend to avoid Fridays now too. I finish most days without help but Giovanni is just a bit to much for me. Difficulty 5 fun 1

  31. I would rate this as a **** for 15a alone. An obscure bit of latin to find an archaic word.

    Several new words/meanings/people; the horse, composer and economist were new as well as the animal tracks in 8d. Lots of checking on the internet to verify my answers was required.

    My rating would be ****/**

  32. Crikey, that was difficult. I struggled throughout, staggering over the finish line in something like ***** time. I need to lie down now.

  33. I lost interest once the number of hints needed got to 10. The general knowledge was also beyond my capacity. I have often used a dibber, so dibble did not spring to mind at all. 9a, 26a, 6d and 18d also eluded me sans help. Thanks to Deep Threat for the hints.

  34. I have been doing the DT crossword for 30+ years, being an online subscriber from the earliest opportunity. I’m beginning to lose interest since the new editor took over. Extinct horses and obscure composers are not my cup of tea. The DT crossword team need to consider what the point of difference was between the DT crossword and those in the other broadsheets, because it has disappeared in a trice, Hint: not all of us have the time to spend hours poring over a crossword and googling obscure facts.

      1. BD,
        But does not an editor determine the “level of difficulty” to any extent? If he doesn’t what is his function ?
        Then would not a setter then adjust his cluing accordingly?
        I ask out of genuine curiosity as I remember X Type’s comment after last Tuesday’s (very gentle) crossword “it was passed by the editor”

        1. BD,
          Having now read the blog below I would not wish my query to be associated with criticism of you or excellent contributors that make this site what it is. Many, as one can tell by reading their contributions, are still in employment.
          My pleasure in attempting the backpager is enhanced by this site.
          My query was genuine as, niaive as I am until last week I never really considered there was a crossword editor!

          1. Having just read this comment and reread my own comment I feel I must apologise as regards my comment regarding the work status of others and time spent etc. It was borne of frustration. I am a Yorkshire man and have often been guilty of speaking and thinking later. I do, however, stand by my comments regarding the regular ecclesiastical references in the Friday Crosswords. How would the general readership react to an obscure reference to an obscure Islamic practice? The same goes for references to outdated cultural figures. My teenage son was frustrated in prior crosswords by these. I really want him to love words as I do. I don’t know who said it, but I concur with the chap who said that the answers to crossword clues should be limited to words you could come across regularly in a broadsheet (including the Brian Moore column). Obscure general knowledge should be excluded,

            1. Hear hear to all that. I’ve been complaining since I joined this blog about the “off puttingly” dated nature of Friday’s puzzle

      2. Editors have zero input into the level of difficulty required of their setters and do not edit clues? One has to wonder what they are paid for! I am quite aware that the same setter has been operative on (mostly) Fridays for a long time. His obscurities have largely been confined to ecclesiastical definitions which I have managed to cope with by dint of my strict christian upbringing. One has to wonder how the man in the street would cope! My teenage son showed an all too brief interest in the DT crossword but a couple of Fridays six months ago disabused him of the notion that this was for the likes of him. I’m afraid he did not have the benefit of an extensive C of E education. My comment was, however, referring to the general direction the setters are taking.There will soon be no differentiation between the DT and the Guardian / Independent etc. You are aware that the reason many people do the DT as opposed to the others is that they, unlike a large number of your cabal, are working people who like a slightly gentler workout in the half hour they can muster during their working day? I feel like I am losing an old friend and am not happy about that.

    1. Speaking purely as a chap now aged 75, who left school at the age or 15 with no qualifications whatsoever, but took the odd occasion to obtain just a little general knowledge along the way and who has graduated through many crosswords puzzles in various newspapers, I find it hard to understand and empathise with many of the comments and complaints regarding DT crossword puzzles, especially those from the pen of Don Manley and Ray T (whatever Ray’s real name is) Brian’s carping comments, especially those on the Christian religion appall me and the fact that no one has even felt led to comment on my opinions expressed earlier suggest I am alone in my thinking. Let me be clear in that I welcome a challenge – I freely admit that Elgar is way beyond my comprehension as Toughies go, but all back pagers and most other Toughies are fair game as far as I’m concerned. Folks moan if a puzzle is too easy and they moan if it’s too difficult – the compiler can’t win whatever he does. I know my own personal level and I’m happy to climb a notch or two when I solve a puzzle compiled by one who I personally consider to be a setter above my intelligence and knowledge. I have considered long and hard over past months whether its worth even bothering to contribute to this blog, as no one really cares what one says. After all one can enjoy a solve in the quiet confidence that no matter what anyone else says, ‘I have solved it’ – what does it really matter, no one else really gives a sh1t, at least that’s how it seems to me.

      1. Hello Shropshirebloke, Can I beg to differ on one tiny point in your comment? I care about what you have to say. I read all of the comments even when I don’t comment myself. I love the quips and odd snippets of information here and there, I even read the complaints though I don’t always agree with them.

        Yes, like BD I also worked in IT and each time a site this big launches changes you just know that something is not going to work, or lots of things, or all of it. What I have/had a problem with is the DT’s reaction to someone (not me) who commented about paying for the service. … assuming it was someone on the DT team who posted something along the lines of ‘your shiny 20p piece is in the post’ or words to that effect, I thought that was unnecessary and a bad way to refer to paying customers . Also not keeping both systems up in tandem at least until the bugs were worked out was very amateurish. Apologies if they did run in tandem but I didn’t see that.

        I have also gone into battle with DT when trying to renew my subscription to the newspaper (note not the puzzles which are separate) their programming is appalling and if your card has expired and bank has issued a new one there is simply NO way for the customer to change the information. THEY can see every card you have used, but we (the customer) can only see the current one with no option to edit. This has been going on for years, every time they tell me to phone, b*gger that long distance from Canada and the only way to get their attention (I speak for repeated experience) is to be sarcastic. Which works even though one daft woman told me I was very rude! LOLOL.
        But all of that is a DT customer service/billing problem and not the crossword compilers/editor etc. But I mention it because I do understand the frustration that some have expressed and the feeling that we are just cogs in a wheel.

        I am trailing you by 11 years age wise and first had a look at the DT crossword when I was young to mid-teenage I think, that’s when Dad had finished hiding behind the paper as he peeked over the corner to watch Pan’s People on Top of the Pops – ah Dad I do miss you – and having left the UK in 1989 I was puzzle-less (I am sure that is not a word) for an achingly long time and then found the paper again was back in the fold – DT was one of the very first newspapers to get online.
        Back when we were in our 20’s, Long Suffering Hubby and I used to tackle the Independent cryptic too, haven’t seen that one for decades now. I did try the Guardian a few days ago but I just couldn’t warm to it.

        As for the latest DT puzzles, I understand that most people don’t like change. Certainly I have struggled over the past couple of weeks but I am finding that I am sort of getting the hang of how any particular compiler’s set of clues is put together I am getting a bit better.

        So after all that wittering on, please Shropshirebloke and everyone else, don’t stop commenting.

        Wishing everyone a lovely weekend.

      2. Don’t think because your comments don’t attract responses they are not read. I for one read them and use them to judge my performance. Like others, I suspect, I have an imaginary “league table” of contributors with people like CS, RD etc in the Premiership. I then like to compare how I find the puzzle with comments of how others found the same puzzle taking into account the LROK league tables
        PS You just went up a division!

        1. Thank you both – your words have most certainly cheered me :-)
          My apologies for a late reply, but this time of the year places a few extra demands on one’s time.

  35. 30 across. I don’t follow. You have “key” for essential. Then “nes” for Eastern money back. So really “sen”. What sort of currency is that?

  36. Great Friday puzzle tackled late as I was drained by the toughie first. My Latin is a bit weak so 15a was last in a d needed the hint. As others I thought that the horse was a cow as there is a herd of belted 18d at a farm shop near here. They look cute and taste great lightly seared with onion rings and chips. Fair cluing and a few checkers made it clear.
    Thanks to DT and Giovanni.

  37. I don’t know Latin and too many religious clues for me. Therefore, impossible. Mind you it didn’t help that I couldn’t even do 27d, even knowing the first and last letters 🙂

  38. Oh heck, I spent too long writing my comments and I timed out!
    A summary then. Some of the comments yesterday were very odd. Why does the DT cryptic have to be solvable every day? Why shouldn’t there be obscure clues? Religious or otherwise? Dear oh dear, some people…
    Anyway I thought this was a great puzzle. The favourite at 9a was my favourite.
    Thanks to Giovanni, and to DT for the review.

    1. I actually like obscure (possibly only to me) clues. For instance I have no clue about rugby or crickets except from quite enjoying the view of very fit young men running around for no apparent reason. Long Suffering Hubby has no problem with that, the chances of one of them noticing me is about the same as his chances of Rene Russo finding our place in rural Ontario.

      I am not a great fan of religion but quite get a kick out of dredging up knowledge from the dusty shelves at the back of my mind and getting those clues.

      Most of all, I find that at the very least once a week and frequently more often I discover a new word or concept because of those obscure clues.

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