DT 28925 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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DT 28925

Daily Telegraph Cryptic No 28925

Hints and tips by Mr K

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


Hello, everyone, and welcome to another Tuesday.  It is a long time since I have had this much fun with a crossword.  Today's offering was not an easy solve and I have no hesitation in giving it 4* for difficulty.  In fact, since today's Toughie blogger said she spent twice as long on it as she did on the Toughie, perhaps it should even be a tad higher.  What's impressive is that the difficulty doesn't come from the usual sources like obscure vocabulary, esoteric general knowledge, or complex, contorted clue constructions.  Instead, it comes from some quite masterful misdirection.  In many clues the obvious approach turned out to be a dead end, leading to head-scratching and pondering often culminating in a wonderful penny drop.  If our setter is reading the blog today, please comment below to take credit and receive thanks for this masterpiece.

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In the hints below most indicators are italicized, and underlining identifies precise definitions and cryptic 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 or display a bonus illustration.  Please leave a comment telling us how you got on.



1a    Imagines  charactersfeatures (7)
FIGURES:  A smooth triple definition gets us underway.  Imagines or estimates, characters or personalities, and features or makes an appearance

5a    Honour to be in cleaner room (7)
CHAMBER:  A (3) abbreviation for a particular honour is inserted in (to be in) a cleaning lady often encountered in crosswordland

9a    Field right beside motorway (5)
REALM:  Right or genuine is placed beside the road sign abbreviation for motorway

10a   Tom intends to change daughter's vanishing creams (9)
OINTMENTS:  An anagram (…to change) of TOM INTEN[d]S minus the genealogical abbreviation for daughter (daughter's vanishing)

11a   Quietly allowed to cut salary? That's not done (10)
INCOMPLETE:  The usual musical abbreviation for quietly or softly and a short synonym of allowed are inserted together (to cut) in salary or earnings

12a   Women's bad self-control (4)
WILL:  Cement together the abbreviation for women and bad or evil

14a   Boss searches for main office (12)
HEADQUARTERS:  An obvious synonym of boss is followed by a less obvious verb synonym of searchesOne where I had to verify the synonym after the solve

18a   Where students could be ordered 'Sit and revise!' after returning in uniform (12)
UNIVERSITIES:  An anagram (ordered…) of SIT REVISE is placed after the reversal (returning) of IN joined to U[niform], its abbreviation in the NATO phonetic alphabet

21a   Imprison  American composer (4)
CAGE:  A double definition, the second the avant-garde American composer perhaps best known for his composition 4'33"Last time this answer came up I featured the death metal version of that piece.  It's worth a look if you haven't seen it.  Here's a different interpretation

22a   Trick receiver of stolen goods, assuming I had courage (10)
CONFIDENCE:  Trick or scam is followed by a slang word for a receiver of stolen goods containing (assuming) the contracted form of "I had"

25a   Are new bananas in animal's grasp? (9)
AWARENESS:  An anagram (bananas) of ARE NEW inserted in an animal that's a beast of burden

26a   It beats a run in the wild (5)
HEART:  A and the cricket abbreviation for runs are inserted in an anagram (…wild) of THE.  I smiled when I solved this and I smiled again while writing the hint.  Just a brilliant clue

27a   Set  view in the country (7)
SCENERY:  A double definition.  The set is theatrical

28a   The best drink regularly tried by this writer (7)
SUPREME:  Put together a verb meaning drink, the even letters (regularly) of TRIED, and a pronoun for "this writer"



1d    Brave investigator initially interrupting US president gets ban (6)
FORBID:  The first letters (… initially) of BRAVE INVESTIGATOR are inserted in (interrupting) the only US president never elected as president or vice president

2d    Look good with weapon (6)
GLANCE:  Stick together the abbreviation for good and a long pointy weapon

3d    Thought about animal limb perhaps found in grass (10)
REMEMBERED:  A word whose many meanings include "animal limb" is found in a tall grass encountered in marshy areas and crossword grids. The perhaps is needed because "animal limb" is being a definition by example

4d    Seat in Commons too limiting (5)
STOOL:  The answer is hiding in the remainder of the clue

5d    Make prisoners rude over time (9)
CONSTRUCT:  Follow some usual prisoners by the reversal (over, in a down clue) of rude or abrupt, and then append the physics symbol for time

6d    I'm in it, lifting objects (4)
AIMS:  I'M from the clue inserted in the reversal (… lifting, in a down clue) of a dated abbreviation that's a synonym of it, as in "She's got it!" or "Aidan's got it!"

7d    Rubbish in Berlin -- it's put in the trashcan (3-5)
BIN-LINER:  An anagram (rubbish) of IN BERLIN

8d    Remains on the French vessel, ill at ease (8)
RESTLESS:  A synonym of remains is followed by (on, in a down clue), "the" in French, and the usual abbreviation denoting a ship

13d   Relationship with China? (10)
FRIENDSHIP:  A cryptic definition.  Ignore the capitalization of China, which is just for misdirection, and recall what china means in Cockney rhyming slang

15d   Find party jolly (9)
DISCOVERY:  Glue together a party from the late 70s or early 80s and an adverb synonym of jolly

16d   Trump dismissed social division (8)
OUTCLASS:  A synonym of dismissed, perhaps in a game of cricket, is followed by a social division or category

17d   Shame Democrat is with Kelly, possibly (8)
DISGRACE:  A third clue with a topical surface.  Kelly defines by example (.., possibly) not General  or Gene, but an American actress who married a prince (in 1965, not 2018).  She is placed after both the single letter abbreviation for Democrat and IS from the clue

19d   Hold goose's tail, moving an egg (6)
ENGAGE:  The last letter ('s tail) of GOOSE is followed by an anagram (moving) of AN EGG

20d   Clement Attlee ultimately supporting fellow Liberal (6)
GENTLE:  The final letter (…ultimately) of ATTLEE comes after (supporting, in a down clue) the fusion of another word for fellow and the single letter abbreviation for Liberal

23d   Dukes succeeded in attacks (5)
FISTS:  The genealogical abbreviation for succeeded is inserted in some attacks of coughing or laughter, perhaps

24d   Fair chance, we're told (4)
FETE:  And we wrap up with a homophone (… we're told) of chance or destiny


Thanks to today’s setter for a brilliant crossword.  It is hard to pick highlights when so many clues are so good.  But if I had to choose, I'd put 26a in top spot with 6d and 20d not far behind.  Which clues did you like best?


The Quick Crossword pun:  THROWN + RHEUM = THRONE ROOM

62 comments on “DT 28925

  1. I completely agree with our blogger’s assessment of this really excellent puzzle. Each clue was heautifully constructed, and it was a genuine and fair battle to complete it. Hard to pick a winner from such a great list of clues, but I will go for the marvellous 26a.

    Thanks very much to our mystery setter for a terrific challenge, and to Mr K.

  2. 3* / 4.5*. This was nicely challenging and very enjoyable indeed. I’ll join the consensus (so far) and pick 26a as my favourite.

    Many thanks to Mr Super Ron (as requested, please drop in and reveal yourself!) and to Mr K.

  3. Thanks Mr K and the setter, a lovely challenge on a beautiful day here in Hong Kong.

    Not sure it merits a 4* as personally had more problems yesterday on what was collectively seen as ‘milder’ but hey-ho.

    All slotted in apart from SE, which took a while.

    25,26 & 27a all beautiful clues: 27a had me searching in vain on Wikipedia for countries ending in y… 😂

  4. Wow that was a stiff workout for the brain box,I managed to complete apart from 25A 27A , I normally find Tuesday’s a fairly easy solve but not today. Thanks to the setter & Mr K for his needed hints.

  5. I agree with Mr K. it was a super crossword. How wonderful to have our back-pager back again after all the flirtation with Toughie land.
    Many thanks setter and Mr K

  6. Having first read Mr K’s preamble I’m almost loath to make comment. I thought it was a closely run thing as to whether the Toughie was easier to solve than the back page cryptic. Both took about the the same amount of time and both very enjoyable. Maybe just a case of me being in the right mind set, having little else to do whilst awaiting news of car servicing and repair on a foul wet morning and delaying walking the dog for as long as possible. Thanks to setters and Mr K. Disappears off into the rain. 😊

    1. I sailed through this, looked at the Toughie and could only get one answer.
      Dada’s puzzles are utterly beyond me.

      1. I think I must have had an inspired morning today, as by 10.30, with both puzzles solved, my other half said, “I suppose I’ll have to get you a ‘Times’ again today”. She did that yesterday and although the cryptic quickie was soon dispatched, the proper puzzle beat me all ends up – totally out of my league that one.

  7. Agree with everyone so far, this was a splendid puzzle. There were some clever misdirections, but fair. I was held up temporarily in the NW at the end. And I tried hard to parse subclass for 16d until the penny dropped with a dull thud. Difficult to single out a winner as they were mostly all excellent. Well done the Setter.

  8. Very enjoyable although , after reading above , surpringly , I finished in ok time without any major stumbling blocks .
    Loved 26A for its simplicity and cleverness .
    Thanks again Mr K for the cats ( will forward to my feline friends) .

  9. I found this refreshing and challenging. I was quite pleased to be able to complete it without help after considerable difficulty with the North West corner due to my being bamboozled by misdirection. Most enjoyable, if time-consuming.

  10. One of the best for a while for me. Very tough but fair and such a pleasure to get there without hints, excellent though they were.
    Brightened what is otherwise a thoroughly miserable day in South Wales.
    Thenk you to setter & Mr K, the video clip for 5a is a bit too deep for me (or perhaps its just another misdirection)

    1. Yeah, the link between 5a and its video is tenuous. I thought that at a stretch the boxes might be considered chambers for cats.

      1. It brought a smile to the better half in stark contrast to a thoroughly miserable day here so thank you.

  11. Really enjoyed this, and pleased you gave it 4*.,as it took quite a long time to crack.
    Thanks mr k and the setter.

  12. An excellent puzzle indeed but I must have been on the right wavelength as I found it rather easier to solve than our blogger appears to have done. Doubtless get my come-uppance with the Toughie!

    I’ll put 26a on the podium along with 6d (for obvious reasons – thanks for the pic, Mr K!) and the delightful triple at 1a.

    Many thanks to Mr Ron and to Mr K for another most enjoyable blog.

  13. 26a was my favourite too. Struggled with the across clues and needed Mr K’s help with most of them but sailed through the down clues. Very enjoyable and satisfying puzzle. Now to walk the dog in the rain and the wind 🙁

  14. OMG,! Are we being punished for yesterday’s walk in the park.
    I managed to complete it after several visits and vast amounts of electronic aid but I was still left with 6 clues that I needed the hints to explain. Unfortunately I still don’t understand:
    3d, why animal, 6d makes no sense at all, 16d why trump, 15d the BRB gives no definition of very for jolly and 20d where is the man?
    For me a poor puzzle with some vague and sloppy clues.
    Thx for the hints.

    1. For 16d you trump someone you could be said to ouutclass them, the capital T was not because it referred to Potus perhaps but as the sentence opening.
      15d you found this one jolly difficult it seems.
      20d fellow = gent as Mr K explained

      1. Thx for trying to explain, still don’t get the clues, must be me as most people loved this one, I found it poor.

      2. Brian, please don’t blame the crossword or the setter for your own lack of ability to solve or understand a clue or a puzzle simply on your own personal understanding. Honestly, it really wasn’t a poor crossword puzzle.Your comments often mar what for many of us has been an enjoyable mental workout. Please keep trying and honing your solving skills. Maybe one day, you too will experience the delight or joy – whatever you want to call it of an unaided solution to a tricksy puzzle. I really am not being patronising and I’d hate to be interpreted as such, but it has taken me the best part of the last fifty years of filling in Telegraph crossword puzzle after Telegraph puzzle to get anywhere close to the understanding that I flatter myself I have now. At the end of the day, all these puzzles are meant to be enjoyed – just a bit of fun and for a few minutes, or hours or even day’s a diversion from the daily grind. It really isn’t that important.

        1. Brian is surely entitled to his view. I too am if not exactly a beginner certainly a learner and found even with the hints that some of the clues were impenetrable. No doubt down to my ignorance albeit I’m never too keen on constructs such as SA which are found nowhere outside of crosswordland.

          This blog is normally very friendly so you may wish to re-read your comments which weren’t actually very nice.

          1. Welcome to the blog, Mark. If you could explain where the hints aren’t providing sufficient explanation, I’d happy to try to help you understand the clues. That information would also help me write better hints in the future.

            In Shropshirebloke’s defense, Brian does have a habit of branding puzzles “poor” without giving any reasons for that assessment, so we have to assume that it’s because he couldn’t solve them completely. This puzzle was technically perfect – it adheres to Ximenean standards of cryptic grammar, the definitions are precise, and the surface readings all make sense. That does not of course mean that it was easy. In my view, your statement that you found some clues impenetrable is quite different to Brian’s statement that it was a poor puzzle. Your description of how you found it is welcome, not least because it will provide encouragement to other learners who also found this puzzle challenging.

  15. At least I know why I struggled today. Found this tough for a novice…but solace gained from the comments here.

    Thanks to setter and Mr K…good explanations for newcomers like me!

  16. On wavelength, then, because this was a steady solve for me with only the full parsing of 6D needed from our blogger. I, too, loved 26A but 23D made me smile so that’s my pick. Thanks to Mr. K, and to the setter for a terrific puzzle.

  17. Going for a 3.5*/ 4* and what a treat for a Friday, nothing obscure and excellent cluing throughout.
    Last in was 6d which I thought was Army initially as you are in it, until I parsed it correctly.
    Remembered 23d-thanks Mr K for the pic- thought it was a ‘south paw’! to begin with !

  18. A very enjoyable back-pager accompanied by an equally entertaining blog from Mr K.

    Thanks to both setter and blogger.

    How many more times will I miss SA = “it”? (6d)

    This took slightly longer than today’s Toughie.

    1. I shouldn’t bother about the SA -it thing. I never remember.

      SA as an abbreviation hasn’t been in use ( outside crosswordland) since at least the mid 60s. When I see it ( not “it”) I always feel I’ve strayed into a corner of the billiard room of a Pall Mall club, where chaps are muttering about waitresses, cinema usherettes, Anita Ekberg or the latest James Bond novel.

  19. Agree with Mr K and fellow bloggers so far that this was a top top puzzle that was elegantly and concisely clued, without being in the slightest esoteric.
    I was held up for ages by 24d at the end even though I’d realised it was a homophone, the penny just wouldn’t drop. Also couldn’t parse 6d (still not sure)
    Too many great clues to pick a favourite (though 26a was almost a thing of beauty for its ultra smooth surface) so I’m going to pick an illustration of the day. ……it HAS to be…… the wonderful 23d 😉😉
    3*/4* for me.
    Thanks to setter and Mr K for his excellent review

  20. I must be on the right wavelength today, as I had this done in *** time without any outside help. I did need the hints to parse 6d, as others have mentioned.

    Too many cracking clues to single out a favourite.

    Many thanks to the setter and Mr.K.

  21. A bit surprised to see the 4-star difficulty rating. I thought this was about average trickiness for a back-pager – but above average for enjoyment as others have noted.

    Liked 1a, 7d, 17d. Fave was 20d. Couple of bung-ins: 6d (needed the hints to parse this) and LOI 23d (new meaning for me).

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

  22. What a weird puzzle.
    I started with the quickie and, as I was doing it, I got a bit uptight and started to dread the main one.
    Then I finished the little’un and gingerly started the big one at the easiest point – 7d, the only 2 word answer-. Kept going in a clockwise manner, finishing with 1a. It all slipped in, no bother. I decided 2* or 2.5* for time – didn’t much enjoy it. Then I came to the blog…..oooh!

    I conclude, it was one of the following:
    1) a maze that needed the correct “route” – proceeding ‘backwards’ helped avoid hasty bung-ins
    2) a masterpiece of misdirection (Mr K’s conclusion)
    3) an indication that I am brilliant

    I prefer 3.

    Thanks to setter and to a jolly Mr K.

  23. I thought it was a little bit transatlantic. Do you think the setter has connections with both shores?

    1. That’s an interesting speculation. I can’t remember a puzzle with three clues referencing current events in the US.

  24. Tough, I thought, but very satisfying when eventually completed.
    Excellent and inventive clueing.
    Many thanks to the setter and to Mr. K for the review.

  25. For one with a tiny brain, I was dead on wavelength today with a steady solve. I loved it all, just perfect.
    I did need hints to unravel a couple, 23d and 6d for example, and I made copious use of my thesaurus, for instance 14a second part “searches”.
    I agree that 26a is brilliant, but does not diminish the others.
    Thanks to whomsoever and Mr. K for his help unravelling a couple and the pics.

  26. Thanks to the setter and to Mr Kitty for the review and hints. A very enjoyable workout. Quite tricky in places. Was held up in the NW corner for ages, this was last to fall. I got 19d wrong, had “encase”, no wonder I couldn’t parse it. Favourite was 26a. Was 3*/3* for me.

  27. Aren’t we a strange bunch!! I found this easier than yesterday.
    Only 23d held me up as it was a new definition.
    Thanks Mr.K and Mr.Ron, it was an excellent crossword.

  28. Spot on Mr K as others have said. I hate words that haven’t been used this century too.

  29. Thanks to the setter and Mr K for this tough puzzle which I was pleased to be able to finish with a lot of electronic help and the hint for 20d. I had done about half before driving across most of Exmoor in heavy rain and the rest fell quite quickly when I picked it p again. It is extraordinary how the brain often seems to work things out when one stops trying!

  30. Splendid! This required a lot of pen sucking and a couple of bung-ins. 6d was one such and I needed the hint to explain – thanks Mr K. 26a was my favourite – such a clever clue. Thanks also to our setter – first class.

  31. A slowish steady solve for me. Penny-drop moments and smiles all the way through.
    Thanks Mr Ron and Mr K.

  32. I made hard work of solving this crossword; putting ‘Ned’ instead of herself in 17d did not help my cause at all. But I got there eventually.
    I liked 20d bestest.
    Thanks to the setter (come back again soon please), and to Mr K for the review and pics.

  33. Took forever to get 1a and 1d. The US president was last to fall. Funny thing as the only memory I have of him is that he couldn’t wave and go down steps without falling.
    Thanks to the setter and to MrK for the review.

      1. Yes we tend to forget that the current incumbent isn’t the first President with a penchant for rudeness.

  34. I fully agree with Mr K’s **** difficulty rating. Printer was kaput due to no ink so couldn’t do this one until we went and bought another cartridge. Did have a stab at 530 from yesterday and rather enjoyed it. Thanks to setters for both, and to Mr K for today’s hints. Might have a go at the Toughie later, ha ha.

  35. Ouch! ****/** ☹️ Sorry I did not enjoy it, some really good clues 👍 but far too many that I still do not understand 😳 Favourites 17d & 14a thanks to Mr K and to the Setter

  36. This definitely stretched the ol’ grey matter but that was worthwhile. 14a was a bung-in as were 13d and 23d. Liked the humour in 7d hint illustration. Joint Favs were 26a and 28a. Thank you Mysteron and MrK.

  37. Completely wrongfooted myself with 13d. Put ORiIENTALLY which made the south east corner
    impossible. Once rectified completed eventually. Can sleep easy now thanks to Mr.K

    1. Welcome to the blog, Wilkie, and thanks for sharing your experience with the puzzle. I’m happy to hear that you found the hints helpful.

  38. Late comment because I did this after an evening shift but I wanted to add to the praise for this outstanding puzzle. Got there in the end but haven’t felt so happy after a crossword for some time. Did we find out who the setter was? More from them I hope.

    1. No, unfortunately we still don’t know who created this puzzle. I hope the setter at least lurked here today and saw all the praise and enthusiasm for their puzzle.

  39. I tackled this one on Tuesday afternoon and found it a little tricky with mostly excellent clues and a very enjoyable/entertaining solve. Let’s have one of these, from this mystery setter, every week please! 3* / 4*

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