DT 28938 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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DT 28938

Daily Telegraph Cryptic No 28938

Hints and tips by Kath

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BD Rating — Difficulty ***/****Enjoyment ***

Hello everyone. Another tricky Thursday but, again, maybe it’s a ‘just me’ day – I always find it impossible to judge difficulty and enjoyment when I’m doing the hints so I’ll just have to wait and see what everyone else thinks. Please leave a comment telling us how you got on today.

In the hints the definitions are underlined and the answers are hidden under ANSWER so only do that if you need to see one.


1a        Dejection from shoddy gear yours truly gained in cost reduction (14)
DISCOURAGEMENT — An anagram (shoddy) of YOURS GEAR and what someone means when they talk about ‘yours truly’ goes inside (gained in) a word meaning cost reduction or a concession

9a Lying low after Charlie gets rebuke (7)
CHIDING — The letter that Charlie represents in the phonetic alphabet is followed by (after) another way of saying lying low or skulking around out of sight

10a       Personnel involved in opening of sea urchins and crustaceans (7)
SHRIMPS — The two letter abbreviation for a department dealing with personnel goes in between the first letter (opening) of S[ea] and some urchins or rascals

11a       Take out tie (4)
DRAW — A double definition, the first meaning extract

12a       Male in one card game showing restlessness (10)
IMPATIENCE — The one letter abbreviation for M[ale] comes after the letter that looks like a one and is followed by a card game for one person

14a       Roll in bistro’s terrible (6)
ROSTER — A lurker, or hidden answer indicated by the word ‘in’

15a       Suffered setback regarding drink and speed regularly taken (8)
RELAPSED — The usual two letters meaning regarding or about, a verb to drink as a dog or cat might and the odd letters (regularly taken out) of SpEeD

17a       Frenchman with scarf on rambling around island (8)
FRANCOIS — An anagram (rambling) of SCARF ON which contains (around) the abbreviation for I[sland]

18a       Vacancies: fifty in financial institutions (6)
BLANKS — The Roman numeral for fifty is contained in (in) some financial institutions – the kind found on the high street

21a       Second rat reported and more in order (10)
 STRAIGHTER — The abbreviation for S[econd] is followed by a homophone (reported) of a rat – the kind who betrays rather than the rodent

22a       Article is about a group of countries (4)
ASIA — The indefinite article and a reversal (about) of IS (from the clue) is followed by the A (also from the clue)

24a       Old flame, rich model (7)
EXAMPLE — The usual two letters meaning an old flame or previous partner are followed by a synonym for rich or plentiful

25a       Over European capital, note Japanese craft (7)
ORIGAMI — The ‘crickety’ abbreviation for O[over] and a European capital of a republic in the U.S.S.R are followed by the third note in a musical scale

26a       Words fail me, soap not a broadcast giving insightful advice (6,2,6)
PEARLS OF WISDOM — An anagram (broadcast) of WORDS FAIL ME, SOAP, without one of the A’s (not A)



1d        Take up gamble in one choice of roulette bet for important game (7)
DECIDER — A gamble or risk goes inside (in) one of the two colours that can be bet on in a game of roulette and then the whole lot is reversed (take up) – knowing nothing at all about the game I’m just hoping that I’ve got this right but please feel free to say if you have a better idea!

2d        Circuitous flight? (6,9)
SPIRAL STAIRCASE — This flight is nothing to do with aeroplanes

3d        Poet’s old verse on papers (4)
OVID — The one letter abbreviations for O[ld] and V[erse] are followed by (on) some papers that are a bit like a passport

4d        Command soldiers on base to capture Russian aeroplane from the south (6)
REGIME — One of the many two letter abbreviations for some soldiers and the one letter maths symbol which means the base of the natural systems of logarithms contain (to capture) a reversal (from the south) of a Russian fighter plane – I’m really glad we had the maths thingy recently or I’d have been a bit lost here!

5d        Delicate material sags more easily (8)
GOSSAMER — An anagram (easily) of SAGS MORE

6d        Barely one month before drink with friend (10)
MARGINALLY — The abbreviation for the third month of the year and a drink that goes very nicely with tonic water are followed by (with) a friend or someone who’s on your side

7d        Everyone needs help answering question: are Douglas et al on mainland? (2,3,2,2,6)
NO MAN IS AN ISLAND — I really don’t know quite how to give a hint for this one but I suppose  with a comma after the first word the whole thing could be an answer to that question – oh dear – sorry!

8d        Get up when caught on object (6)
ASCEND — A little tiny word meaning when or at the same time and the ‘crickety’ abbreviation for C[aught] are followed by (on) and object or an aim

13d      New article, about two pages on European mercantile vessel (3,7)
TEA CLIPPER — An anagram (new) of ARTICLE contains two one letter abbreviations for P[age] and the one letter abbreviation for E[uropean]

16d      That’s spoken greeting head (8)
HIGHNESS — A homophone (spoken) of a greeting or an informal way of saying hello is followed by a head or cape – that’s a bit of a pig’s ear but it’s the best I can do here – I think I have to be missing something  

17d      Join footballers setting up equipment for goals (6)
FASTEN — The  F[ootball] A[ssociation] (footballers) is followed by (setting up) the meshy thing that players try to kick the ball into to get a goal

19d      Admit being unsettled with US venue (7)
 STADIUM — An anagram (being unsettled) of ADMIT and (with) US

20d      Strongman Capes, perhaps, smothers head of torch that’s alight (3,3)
GET OFF — The first name of a British former shot putter, strongman and Highland games competitor goes around (smothers) the first letter (head) of T[orch] – I’d never heard of him either!

23d      Not totally pristine, current car (4)
MINI — The first three letters (not totally) of a four letter word that means pristine or new are followed by the one letter physics symbol for electric current

Clues of the day for me were 10 and 17a and 2d.

The Quickie pun:- EGGS + CALIBRE = EXCALIBUR

86 comments on “DT 28938

    1. I’m perfectly happy to admit that I don’t have the first idea what’s going on with 16d – it doesn’t do much for the ‘street cred’! :oops:
      I hope that someone – Gazza or CS maybe – will sort me out!

      1. 16d. I think you’ve got it more or less spot on – that’s how I parsed it. Not a pig’s ear at all. But we both might have missed something, of course.

        1. Or it might be a cryptic definition of something that’s spoken (said) when greeting a head (of a country) – (your) h******s.

      2. I took it as an all-in-one, Kath, where the wordplay is as you describe – a homophone of hi followed by a synonym of head – and the definition is what is said when you greet a head (of state).

      3. A way of greeting a head would be HIGHNESS HI (greeting) NESS (head in the sense of cape of land)

      4. I suppose if you accept the likelihood of someone actually greeting a geographical feature in that way, it’s all right, but I think it’s a bit daft.

          1. Lacking foresight? Aha! Erne-nest

            I’ll get me coat…

            I won’t tell you the one about the Irishman attending a fancy dress party…

            1. Correct, Killer!

              Sorry – I forgot I’d asked a question and neglected to return to the blog………

              I blame John Malkovich.

    2. MP says that the answer, preceded by ‘your’, is how one would greet the head of the monarchy – thanks MP.

        1. Exactly, but Emperors and Empresses are also Imperial ‘Majesties’ whereas Princes, Princesses and certain other Royal Family members are Royal Highnesses.

  1. I was finding this a bit of a grind until I got 7d . A brilliant clue .
    18a gave me a smile .
    I liked 16d .
    I’m baffled by 20 d.
    Thanks to Kath and the setter .

    1. U. 20d. Maybe you’ve spelled the strongman’s shortened Christian name wrongly – like I did at first.

    2. 20d one of my favourites today, because if you got the GK it was dead easy – if not, it would be very puzzling indeed.

  2. I thought this very tricky, particularly the SW corner

    Thanks to Kath and the Thursday Mysteron

  3. 4* / 4*. I thought this was pretty tough but very enjoyable.

    My favourite was 7d with 2d hot on its heels in second place.

    Many thanks to Mr Ron and to Kath.

  4. Yet again, I’m in complete agreement with RD and would add 10&17a for podium places.

    Thanks to Mr Ron and to Kath for a great blog – not a pig’s ear by any means!

  5. Things here are just on the verge of getting back to normal (whatever that is). I hope to write proper comments soon (first time for everything…), but for now I’ll join Young Salopian and Jane in requesting RD for a piggyback (bunnyback?) – his comments today say all I might have.

    With thanks to the setter (proXimal?) and to Kath.

  6. I appear to be bucking the trend as I did not find this too tricky but I was a little slow to get going with one here and one there before getting up to a gallop to finish – **/***.

    Candidates for favourite – 2d, 6d, and 7d – and the winner is 6d.

    Kath – I think the anagram material in 1a should be GEAR (not YOURS).

    Thanks to the setter and Kath.

  7. This was tricky but I enjoyed all the geographical clues and they helped me a lot. My favourite was 7d , of course but 25a was also good. Thanks to Kath for help parsing 16d. I’m sure you have the right if it and was thinking along those lines myself.

  8. Tried hard to get 1ac in isolation but failed miserably until I solved some of the down clues.

    I believe it is an anagram of a word meaning ‘cost reduction’, me and gear. If so the hint is wrong as it cannot include ‘yours’. Having set the standard I thought we were in for a toughie day but it got easier and I found it a nice stretching diversion from a raw dull day here in the Peak District.

    On a good solving run at present – must be achieving some stamina fitness from all those Sunday crossword work-outs! Thanks to setter and Kath.


    1. Yes, I think you’re right about 1a: an anagram (shoddy) of GEAR + yours truly (ME) inside (gained) a synonym of “cost reduction” (DISCOUNT) – DISCOU(RAGE + ME)NT.

    2. Yes, you’re almost right and Jose is completely right.
      I hope that it’s fairly obvious that that is what I meant to put but, by that stage, my brain was a bit scrambled and once that happens however many times you check things you don’t notice mistakes – well, I don’t anyway!

      1. I had three errors on Monday Kath. You are in good company. I was over excited at the prospect of being taken to see Mary Poppins Returns.

  9. I thought 1d was one word plus a letter.
    Made sense to me.
    Pretty tough in places, but very satisfying when done without help.
    For me *** plus a bit more.
    Many thanks to the setter and to Kath for the nicely illustrated review.

  10. Thanks to the setter and to Kath for the review and hints. I enjoyed this one a lot, but found it very tricky. Needed the hints for 17a, originally thought I was looking for an island. Managed to get 16a which was last in. Favourite was 10a. Was 3*/3* for me.

  11. Thanks to the setter and to Kath for the review and hints. I enjoyed this one a lot, but found it very tricky. Needed the hints for 17a, originally thought I was looking for an island. Managed to get 16a which was last in. Favourite was 10a. Was 3*/3* for me.

  12. I thought it was a bit under 3*, but just me on the wavelength, I expect, and some lucky Gk connections.

    I did need parsing hints for 23d and 10a, which although “gettable”, didn’t make a lot of sense to me and I couldn’t get the synonym in 11a, so thanks to Kath.

    My favourite was 21a.

  13. Think I’m swimming against the tide here but today’s puzzle didn’t really float my boat. Nothing to do with difficulty (solve time was about average) and I liked 2d, 6d and 9a but there were quite a few bung-ins including 1d, 7d (something to do with the Isle of Man?) and 16d. And I also didn’t care for 11a (synonym feels a stretch) and 20d where the GK required feels a touch unfair on younger / overseas solvers. It did bring back fond memories of BBC Superstars though… and Brain Jacks with his oranges and questionable squats technique!

    COTD: 6d. LOI: 11a

    Many thanks to the setter and to Kath for helping to decipher the bung-ins.

  14. 16d makes me think proXimal, but overall I thought of X-Type (who may drop by). Either way a good puzzle so thanks to setter and to Kath.

  15. Oh damn, the ‘network connection was lost’ but I had said something like ….
    This was a bit of a proverbial curate’s egg for me with the North falling into line ahead of the South. Thought a few clues were rather clunky. Failed to completely parse 1a and 10a (Personel Dept. in my working days!). Nearly settled for ‘set’ in 20d as unfamiliar with shot-putting. Fav was 2d (chestnut?). 17a yet another name clue. Had forgotten ‘easily’ meaning in 5d. Thank you Mysteron and Kath with whom commiserations for today’s hinting task.

  16. This one went in at a nice, steady pace with a few head-scratching interludes. The clues were generally very good, giving an enjoyable solve. I particularly liked 2a, plus I could mention many others. 3* / 4*

    1. You’ve changed your alias.

      As for Kath – so say all of us, and not just in relation to crosswords!

  17. This one has gone in my semi stinker pile, a real struggle. Many thanks to Kath for the hints. These led to several doh moments.
    Thanks again Kath and setter.

  18. I shall also buck the trend in that I had no problems with this.
    7d as a super clue, though as soon as I saw ‘Douglas’ the penny was in mid-drop.
    20d was a write-in if you remembered the shot-putting policeman.
    Thanks for the explanation of 16d, much appreciated.
    Thanks Kath and setter, a very enjoyable challenge.

  19. Well done Kath. Must have been a nightmare to hint. I actually enjoyed the challenge which did not take too long. I thought the whole SW corner was the trickiest – 21a being my last one in. However that is one of my favourites. Others were 6d for its simplicity, 2d which sent me around the world before I spotted the obvious and cotd for me has to be 7d. As I’m on IPhone don’t want to scroll down and possibly lose this to find the commentator who had trouble with it but he’s On right lines. The answer is a saying which means “everyone needs help”. The answer also answers the question in the clue. Douglas (and others) are towns on the Isle of Man. Thanks setter. Please expose yourself.

      1. Funny you should mention John Donne the author of 7d. Was it intentional? Apologies for the double-entendre. In the event he did having been coaxed out by other contributors.

  20. I had a very slow start so wandered off and did a jigsaw on my iPad and read a bit of the paper. When I came back it all fell into place.
    I find it a bit scarey when that happens. Really enjoyed it too.
    Thanks to Kath and mysteron

  21. Kath..re your crossword difficulty ratings. I can’t foresee the day when you’ll find a puzzle “tricky” and I’ll find it a walk in the park. I suspect (but of course can’t be certain) that I speak for the majority of the bloggers on here so your your instinct was correct and your 3* for difficulty was quite conservative in my opinion.
    I thought some of the clues were clunky or bitty, which made them tricky to parse. Still, a few to smile about, 2 and 7d foremost amongst them.
    Thanks to setter too.

    1. Re the first bit of your comment – it is all to do with wave-length.
      I always struggle with Friday crosswords more than most people do and I used to find Mondays (in Rufus days) quite tricky – they were meant to be the most straightforward of the week.

  22. 4/4. Quite a head scratcher with some ah-ha moments. 2&7d were standout clues for me. I thought Kath did a great job unravelling this, thank you. And also to the setter, thank you for a rewarding challenge.

  23. A steady solve with re-visit for SE. HR = personnel is one of my mental blocks.
    16d – although not on familiar terms with royalty personally, could not “Highness” be a familiar form of “Your Highness”? Otherwise it does not make sense to me.
    7d has to be COTD.
    Thanks to setter & Kath for the hints.

  24. Blimey, that was hard, though I found it quite enjoyable until I got to the SW corner when I had to quit and look at the hints.
    Fortunately, I solved 2d and 7d on first reading, so that was a huge help. I also chose those for the top spots.
    Thanks to our setter and to Kath for her help to the final post.

  25. Many thanks to today’s setter for a puzzle which didn’t trouble me too much once I had recovered from being discontented at 1ac.
    I can’t begin to express how difficult it must have been for Kath to write the hints, I wouldn’t have known where to start so huge congrats to her. My favourite clue is 2d for its simple elegance.

  26. Not for me or in my view the back page. Persevered and finished without hints and without enjoyment. Hoping the standard of setting will improve as the year progresses and encourage younger generations to gain pleasure from a pursuit we may try and convince them is an exciting and informative pastime.

  27. We had to guess the name of the 20d strongman and guessed correctly. Found this one quite tricky and satisfying to solve. We go along with Kitty’s guess as to the identity of the setter.
    Thanks Mr Ron and Kath.

  28. 2d,7d and 26a were straight in, so I thought “hello, this going to be easy, I’lI have lots of checking letters.” I was so wrong, and I’ve already broken my New Years resolution. Never mind, I had a nice day out In Witney looking at teddy bears and woollen blankets. Thank you setter for the challenge, and well done Kath for managing to review this one.

  29. One of those puzzles that is easier to solve the clue than understand it. Clumsy and wordy I thought. Far too tricky for a back pager.
    Thx for the hints as they explained 3/4 of the clues.

  30. Rating ***/*** 🤔 Bit of a struggle Favourites 2 & 6 down Thanks to Kath and to the Setter 😬

  31. Try again , yet again so précis of original
    Thanks Kath and “well done “ to the Setter .

  32. eXternal / proXimal has retweeted this one, which more or less acknowledges that it is his, so well done Kitty and LetterboxRoy.

  33. I am happy as Larry today, as I didn’t have much trouble today, I must have been right on wave length. Even happier when I saw Kath’s **** difficulty rating, woo hoo… It helped that the three long answers fell straight in. My iPad was being charged, so I probably persisted for longer than normal before I peeked at the hints and thus I only needed a couple at the end. 21a, 16d and 20d were my big hold ups. Thank you Kath for the hints, and hope to see this setter again soon.

  34. Found this one of the most difficult I have ever done and needed some hints to make progress, and had many wrong checking letters, even towards the end. Favourite was 7d, and also liked 13, 16 and 20 d, (20d as it led to so many variations before getting it). I will be taking refuge with Giovanni tomorrow. Thanks to the setter and considerable thanks to Kath for the help.

  35. Yes – of course, well done to Kitty and LetterboxRoy for correctly guessing the setter.
    I can’t help but feel it’s a pity that eXternal/proXimal chose to tweet rather than just popping in to the blog to claim today’s crossword as being of his creation.
    it’s always lovely when a setter can be bothered to do so – it makes them seem human.

    1. Fair enough. I shall make it a resolution to pop in from now on. Sorry to make some clues hard to explain, but a great review, all the same. Thanks to Kath and commenters.

      1. Thank you very much – it’s always appreciated when the setters call in, especially when a crossword has been a bit on the tricky side.

  36. That’s it from me today so you can all breathe a huge sigh of relief.
    Thank you to proXimal for the crossword, and for popping in, and thank you, too, to everyone for the comments.
    Sorry for the hiccup with 1a.
    Night night all and sleep well. :yawn:

  37. Up to reading all the comments I had begun to wonder whether my inability to make much sense of 16 down was simply down to me being dim. I’d sailed through three-quarters of this puzzle, then hit a block in the south-west corner. Gradually I teased the remaining answers out, but I was left with the feeling that a couple of words or so had been omitted from the ‘troublesome’ clue. Small point, because otherwise it was a very enjoyable solve. Thanks to proXimal and to Kath.

  38. I was on the right wave length, but still required the explanation of the single letter maths symbol in 4d. Moreover, I put in the wrong letter at the end of 21a — that was very careless! Otherwise all was well.

    My grateful thanks to Kath for the excellent blog.

    My appreciative thanks to ProXimal. I enjoyed this, with 2d my fave.

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