DT 28968 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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DT 28968

Daily Telegraph Cryptic No 28968

Hints and tips by Falcon

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

BD Rating – Difficulty ***Enjoyment ***

Greetings from Ottawa, where the weatherman has been throwing everything in his arsenal at us. We have gone from the super frigid temperatures of the polar vortex, to snow, rain, freezing rain, ice pellets, and now we have freezing drizzle to look forward to.

Today’s puzzle is clearly not by RayT, failing to match any of the usual identifying traits. I got off to an extremely slow start. After establishing a beachhead or two, I was able to push out from there and make what seemed like painfully slow progress. However, I was surprised to discover on completion that I had solved the puzzle in a fairly typical time.

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   Dental work recalled by man with crown and filling (7)
PACKING — a reversal (recalled) of some dental work placed before a man with a crown

5a   Company passes over 100 ancient documents (7)
CODICES — CO(mpany) followed by a word meaning to pass or stop living wrapped around the Roman numeral for 100

9a   Mostly prudish crowd (5)
STUFF — remove the final letter (mostly) from a word meaning excessively dull, staid, or conventional

10a   Pioneer not vain or fake (9)
INNOVATOR — an anagram (fake) of the three words in the middle of the clue

11a   Sorry about bit of food covering fine uniform (10)
REMORSEFUL — begin with a short preposition denoting about or concerning; then follow with a small quantity of food containing the designation for fine found on pencils and the letter represented by uniform in the NATO phonetic alphabet

12a   Enthusiasm in Aztec site regularly displayed (4)
ZEST — extract a regular sequence of letters (regularly displayed) from “Aztec site”; I’m sure you can figure out which ones are needed

14a   Punishing head of gang after second burglary (12)
BACKBREAKING — to second or support, a burglary or forced entry, and the initial letter of Gang

18a   Rendered safe after ordering protective wear (3,9)
EAR DEFENDERS — an anagram (after ordering) of the first two words in the clue

21a   Batman has one crime curtailed (4)
CAPE — remove the final letter (curtailed) from an illegal scheme or activity

22a   Joined with friend inside and plotted (10)
MACHINATED — a word meaning joined (mechanical parts, for instance) surrounding a Cockney friend

25a   Break up sad initially, overwhelmed by faint remnant of passion (9)
DISMEMBER — the initial letter of Sad is inserted into a synonym for faint (or Kath’s favourite self-deprecating expression) and this is followed by a remnant of passion (or the last vestige of a bonfire)

26a   1 down is wrong, reportedly (5)
TORTE — an example of the answer from 1 down sounds like a wrongful act

27a   A fly is buzzing around small edible plant (7)
SALSIFY — an anagram (buzzing) of the first three words in the clue enveloping S(mall)

28a   Make smooth punch? It’s full of grains! (7)
SANDBOX — a charade of verbs meaning to make smooth (in a woodworking shop) and to punch (in a ring)


1d   Father’s attempt to make dough (6)
PASTRY — a familiar term for father, the accompanying S, and another word for attempt

2d   Poor game of cards with clubs leading (6)
CRUMMY — C(lubs) and a card game that originated in the US

3d   Wearing animal product, I provoked date to be incensed (10)
INFURIATED — link together a phrase (2,3) meaning wearing an animal product, I from the clue, and an anagram (provoked) of DATE

4d   Cunning guy is Leo, shaking all tails (5)
GUILE — remove the final letters (shaking all tails) from the second, third, and fourth words in the clue

5d   Beat trick question, shunning unknown journalist (9)
CONQUERED — to trick or cheat, a five-letter synonym for question from which an algebraic unknown has been removed, and the short form for the usual senior journalist

6d   Bird ousting rook from collective group (4)
DOVE — remove the chess notation for rook from a moving herd of cattle

7d   Match in competition that is a beauty (5-3)
CUTIE PIE — this may get complicated; start with a match in a knockout competition; place this inside a term used to refer to said competition that arises from the trophy awarded to the winner of said competition; finally append the Latin abbreviation meaning that is

8d   Prepared target within second year for long-term plan (8)
STRATEGY — an anagram (prepared) of TARGET placed between S(econd) and Y(ear)

13d   Caution welcoming band to northern town (10)
WARRINGTON — to caution or alert to danger encircling a wedding band and TO from the clue

15d   Hold back tense horse after a butcher’s turned up (4,2,3)
KEEP AT BAY — a grammatical T(ense) and a reddish-brown horse follow a reversal (turned up) of A from the clue and what butcher means to an East Ender

16d   Miner losing home gives up car (8)
MERCEDES — first we have M(in)ER with the usual term for (at) home removed to which we append a word meaning gives up or hands over

17d   Suggestion bizarrely so popular, to leave university (8)
PROPOSAL — an anagram (bizarrely) of SO POP(u)LAR after U(niversity) is removed (to leave)

19d   At start of battle, supporting mounted men with hearts pulsating (6)
ATHROB — the answer starts with AT from the clue; it being a down clue, we can think of the remainder of the answer as a pile of letters; at the base of (supporting) this pile, we place the initial letter (start) of Battle on top of which we put a reversal (mounted) of O(ther) R(anks) and H(earts)

20d   Farewells from a Parisian couple hugging one (6)
ADIEUX — A from the clue and the French word for two embracing the Roman numeral for one

23d   Wounds seen in hospital wings (5)
HARMS — (H)ospital and appendages that might figuratively be equated to wings

24d   Forceful people in films turned some characters for inside job (4)
JEDI — hidden (some characters for) and reversed (turned) in the final two words of the clue we find the film characters associated with a famous intergalactic blessing “May the Force be with you”.

On the podium today, I will place 25a, 7d, and 19d with top honours going to 7d.


86 comments on “DT 28968

  1. :phew:
    5*/3*. Crikey that was tough – a definite wrong envelope day and a puzzle to be admired rather than enjoyed.

    24d was my last one in due its incredibly obscure definition and only the fact that I had spotted we were dealing with a pangram today gave the game away.

    I had other major hold-ups with: 2d, which I’ve never spelt like that before; 5a, which was a new word for me; and, 13d, where I spotted the RING early on but spent ages trying to justify ACCRINGTON as the answer.

    I managed to finish after a lot of blood, sweat and tears and I can’t really pick a favourite, but I will say there was a lot of clever stuff going on here.

    Thanks to the setter and to Falcon.

    P.S. to CL. This would have been great as a Friday Toughie!

  2. The brilliant rekrul at 24d was my final entry and my COTD. Like RD above, I found this distinctly tricky but perseverance paid off and I completed it in above average time. Rewarding and enjoyable after wiping my brow from the mental exertions.

    Thanks very much to our setter for the considerable challenge and to Falcon..

  3. I too took a while to get going but finished in about 4* back page time. For this reason, I wondered whether the setter was ProXimal as that is my usual experience with him. Spotting the pangram did help

    Thanks to Falcon and Mr Thursday

    PS – RD I don’t quite agree with you about the Friday Toughiness of this crossword, but I’d certainly say that about today’s Beam, about which more anon

  4. One of the best back-pagers of the year for me… very enjoyable.

    Many thanks to the setter, and to Falcon.

  5. Just the right sort of puzzle for being on holiday with nothing to do and all day to do it !
    Tough but doable , with application & concentration , and satisfaction at the end .
    Joint favourites 14A , 21A & 16D .
    Unlike Ottawa warm & sunny in the Canary Islands .
    Greetings and thanks to everyone .

  6. I thoroughly enjoyed this one and like some others was flummoxed by 24d until the penny finally dropped (after way, way too long). It has to be my clue of the day in a puzzle full of excellent clues.

  7. Really enjoyable puzzle – thanks to proXimal (?) and Falcon. My podium selections were 1a, 14a and 15d.
    I took the Quickie pun to involve 3 words with a result that fits in well with Falcon’s opening paragraph.

  8. This was excellent! Great clues, a fairly vigorous challenge requiring plenty of cogitation and a very satisfying solve with a real sense of achievement/victory at the end. Just the sort I like, everyday if it was up to me. Favs: 7d and 27a, which I’ve never heard of but it was all there in the wordplay and just needed a quick Google to confirm. 4* / 4.5*

  9. I found this puzzle very difficult – makes me realise how much I have yet to learn about cryptic crosswords! Many thanks for the hints and tips that I needed today 😶

  10. Again, I find myself in concert with RD on something – definitely a wrong envelope – ****/**.

    A lot of head scratching required. I did like 16d.

    Thanks to the setter and Falcon.

  11. Well it was certainly a difficult solve today and I thought a ***/**** difficulty with the same enjoyment rating.
    Thanks Falcon for the 13d pic- recognised the hospital gates !
    This puzzle needed careful parsing and it took a while to tune in, it became easier as I progressed.
    Favourite 25a, not seen 7d for a while and liked this clue.
    Thanks to setter for a rewarding solve.

  12. Like others, it was 24d that held out to the end although I didn’t have many problems elsewhere.
    Podium places went to 14&25a with 7d taking the gold medal.

    Thanks to our setter (proXimal sounds good to me) and to Falcon as he shivers in the Quickie pun!

  13. I agree with comments above, that was a tough deal, but was smugly satisfied that I completed it without outside help – apart from 5a which was unknown to me.

    I checked 27a in a dictionary, to learn that it tastes like oysters. Really? I don’t think I have ever seen 19d before, and the French required for the SE corner wasn’t welcome.

    Thanks to all.

  14. Absolutely loved this puzzle, very clever clues.

    With a bit of digital assistance managed to complete in reasonable time, some words I had not heard of such as 5a were logical to work out.

    Almost too many good clues to name a favourite, but I really liked 16d as something a bit different. Managed to get 24d after a bit of thought.

    Thanks to setter and Falcon, Winter draws on!

  15. Thanks to the setter and to Falcon for the review and hints. I just couldn’t do this to save my life. I wonder if the setter was Jed, who did a Toughie the other day. I needed 10 hints to finish, and got the wrong last letter on 20d. Favourite was 21a. Way above my pay grade. Was 5*/2* for me.

  16. Not a fast solve, but I liked it.Totally missed the pangram, as usual. I saw 24D quickly, though, and it’s my top pick today. Thanks to Falcon and today’s setter.

  17. If it was a day with less time, I might have resorted to electronic help, but I did persevere and although hard, they all went in, so I’d give it 3* and 4*. It was fair because I realised I had to go for the achievable ones first and this definitely helped with the tricky little blighters.

    A bit of bunging was involved but parsing wasn’t hard after the event.
    22a was the last – I’m always forgetting that friend synonym……

    Is there any agreement in how to pronounce 27a? I’ve heard both down at the allotments.

  18. Like others I thought this was well on the tricky side and would have gone for ****/**** if I had been in the blogging chair today. Most of it went in fairly smoothly but there was a distinct sting in the tail. 5a/5d and 22a probably took longer than the rest of the puzzle. Also took ages to parse 13d as I got fixated on the TON at the ed being the TO from the clue and then N(orthern) with the definition being just TOWN, d’oh.

    Fav has to be 24d for its off-the-wall definition – forceful people indeed :lol:

    I’d go along with proXimal as the setter.

    May the force be with both setter and Falcon.

  19. Based on the comments to date, it would appear that I badly underestimated the difficulty level of this puzzle. Of course, in setting the difficulty level, I do take into consideration my unfamiliarity with British geography, colloquialisms, etc — but perhaps I am making too much of an allowance. I do have a fair knack for pattern recognition so many of the clues were solved from the checking letters with the parsing being worked out after the fact.

    1. I find it almost impossible to decide how many stars to give a crossword for both difficulty and enjoyment when I know I’m doing the hints – I don’t time myself so just go on how it felt while I was actually doing it. Maybe that’s why my ratings are quite often very different to what other people think. :unsure:

  20. This was a very slow solve today. Went on pangram alert quite early on. 24d was my last to fall and, but for the missing J in the pangram, I probably still be looking at it. Very enjoyable.

  21. A thoroughly enjoyable and intriguing puzzle, which seemed ro get trickier as I progressed from NW to SE. The lurker at 24 d was particularly clever, which is probably why it took me longest to work it out. Thanks to Falcon for providing reassurance on the parsing of 9a and 21a.

  22. So many horrible wordy clues its difficult to know where to start. Very little to recommend this puzzle for me, I dislike crosswords full of contrived wordy clues. No fun at all.
    Thx for the hints.

  23. As I have said Ad Nauseam, why oh why do the powers that be at the DT put a Toughie on the back page so that the experienced solvers have the pleasure of two crosswords whilst the rest of us are left scratching our heads or just not bothering. Come on DT sort yourselves out as Wallace and Grommett would say.

        1. They have advertised the subscriptions deal as being the whole paper but it clearly isn’t. I am not interested in subscribing to the puzzle site a fiver a month just to get four puzzles a week. when I get them delivered with the dead tree version for free. The buffoons at The Telegraph should realise that we get The Toughies anyway and include them in the subscrition package. i also think that the premium rate helpline should be scrapped and a link to Big Dave’s site put in its place. It cannot raise that much money and anybody who phones a line beginning with 09 is probably too stupid to solve a back page puzzle anyway

          1. Well said, Miffypops, wise words indeed. I have only done the toughie once and enjoyed it – I’d love to add it to my daily cryptic, quick, codeword and sudoku. (In order of importance 😉). Can’t somebody influential bring them to their senses?

          2. The much-missed Tstrummer once told me that newspapers make a lot of money from their premium rate crossword help lines.

  24. A thoroughly enjoyable back-pager – just right for a Thursday!

    For once I noticed that it was a pangram which helped in solving the “Northern Town.”

    Favourite amongst many was 1a.

    (I wish I had looked after my teeth 🦷 )

  25. Started unusually in the top left today and when progress was slow, I thought that was the reason. Got there over a few long, cool soft drinks in this 34 degrees Cape Town heat with no assistance which was rewarding.
    A thoroughly good puzzle with my fav being Jedi – without ever having seen a Star Wars film. I smoked the Pangram early on which helped.

    Yep, a belter. Thank you P and F.

    1. Hi HP. I am delighted that it is warm in Cape Town as we are heading there on Monday. Don’t worry, Jane, the bird book is already packed!

      Spotted the pangram early which definitely helped with 13d and 24d.

      Challenging but very enjoyable. Thanks to setter and Falcon.

  26. I must say that I’m rather surprised that this should be described as a “wrong envelope”, inferring it should have been assigned as a Toughie puzzle, and that somehow reduces the enjoyment (as if the very position of the puzzle in the paper or its designation directly affects the enjoyment of solving it!). I found this excellent cryptic to be on a par with an above-average Ray T back-pager. Let’s keep Thursdays and Fridays for more (or much more) challenging puzzles and the rest of the week for milder ones.

  27. Right up my street. I enjoyed the trip to Accy to see Saint Sharons folks. Realised I was in the wrong place so nipped across to the jam eaters in Workington before settling down in Eddie Waring country. Loved 7d. Thanks to the setter and Thanks to Falcon especially for the JJ clip

  28. This one was definately in my stinker pile, for some reason could not get going, even now its not finished. Will have a look this evening.
    Nice atormy weather though so long walks today.

  29. I thought that was a brilliant and/but, depending on your viewpoint, crossword. It’s taken me ages.
    I never did get 24d – missed the pangram, never seen the films and combining those two with a reversed lurker meant I was on a loser from the word go. Oh dear!
    I didn’t know that the word that’s been curtailed in 21a had illegal connotations and hadn’t heard of 5a.
    So many good clues that it’s next to impossible to pick out any in particular but maybe 14 and 25a and 15d.
    With thanks to whoever set this this little beast and to Falcon – glad it was you today!

    1. Re: the curtailed word at 21a

      Although the word does not necessarily carry illegal connotations, it is often used in that way — I think especially when the illegal activity is of an especially complex or elaborate nature.

  30. An interesting but not over difficult puzzle . Last one in 19d , a word I have never come across before . 24d was one of my first in and was an obvious lurker . Maybe one of my little boys xmas presents , a Light Saver , which harnesses ” the force ” was helpful in the quick resolution of this clue .I haven’t been doing the crossword much of late but this one has whetted my appetite for more . Thanks to Falcon and the setter.

  31. I don’t normally comment on days that I don’t like the puzzle, but today I failed so spectacularly, the worst in my 60-odd years of doing the DT, that I laughed for a good five minutes, so I give it ***** stars for amusement. So, thank you setter for that.
    I knew this would happen after the delightful start to the week. I’m wondering if this stuff is really worth nearly $50 a year, sadly I’ve just renewed and I doubt they give refunds. The blog is worth it though! Love y’all.

  32. Slow, quick, quicker, dead slow and then suddenly a rapid finish! I put it down to me rather than the crossword when I look back at it.

    Yjanks setter and Falcon

    1. Thanks for dropping in to take a bow. Always much appreciated. And thank you for the entertaining and mind-stretching puzzle. I may eventually get to recognize your style — but, I wouldn’t hold my breath waiting for that to happen. After all, I failed to realize that the puzzle is a pangram.

  33. We found this quite tricky and good fun.
    With 5a we had worked out from checkers and wordplay what it should be but could not find it in BRB at a first look. Eventually we looked under the singular version of the answer and the plural is noted there. No problem with 24d as we were looking for the last letter for a pangram by then. 13d is another of our least favourite clue types but we got it.
    Thanks ProXimal? and Falcon.

  34. North fine but SE needed Falcon’s hints for most of them.
    As someone who has enjoyed the backpager for nigh on years with no time or ambition to graduate to the Toughie I find remarks like those in post 29 annoyingly elitist and somewhat selfish.
    Apparently it is fine to have 2 Toughies on Thursday and Friday and, if I remember correctly, another on Sunday, ie 7 per week. Whilst we tyros limited to a solve on Monday Tuesday, Wednesday and Saturday. Hopefully it was just being deliberately provocative.
    I absolutely agree that enjoyment is not always linked so a successful solve but judging by remarks on a Wednesday it is not always linked to difficulty either.
    I have subscribed fully to the Telegraph for over 20 years mainly for the Sport and the crossword. Should the crossword editor feel the majority feel that 7 Toughies are required it will certainly save me money.
    Thanks to setter and Falcon for excellent hints.

    1. Agreed, with knobs on. However, I have long felt that the commenter at post 29 is a lot of mouth and no trousers.

  35. An excellent puzzle today that I found myself on wavelength from the get-go. It certainly wasn’t a pushover but sometimes things just click and this was such a time.

    Thanks to Falcon and proXimal 3*/4.5*

  36. Found it as hard as a toughie but managed to finish with 5a and 7d being last to fall.
    Great challenge.
    Favourite 16d.
    Thanks to Proximal and to falcon for the review.

  37. Although not a Star Wars fan, I found 24d quick and easy. I wish I could say the same for the rest of the puzzle! I think today’s Toughie was marginally easier.

  38. Well I really had to put my workman’s hard hat on for this challenge. Slowly filled it corner by corner, a good third of the clues being challenging. I have completed Toughies quicker.
    Still looking at it a really good puzzle,,, 4*/4*
    Many thanks to Falcon & Setter.

  39. Once google provided the answer to 27a (never heard of it!), the southern section fell into place quite quickly. I had all the letters, but couldn’t make a sensible word…

    Massive groan/cheer when I got 24d – deffo clue of the day for me.

    Needed the hints to work out why 19d was correct.

    Glad to see others found this a challenge as well – normally I find a challenging crossword (for me) gets a ** rating!

  40. Above my pay grade, no fun for this dummy today. Totally agree with Brian’s question as to why the DT provides a Toughie for the clever blokes, and then instead of a gentler solve for us non brainiacs on the back page, they provide another stinker. Great if that works for you, and very disappointing for the rest of us. Not to mentioning putting off newbies entirely, losing the next generation of solvers. Thanks to Falcon for the hints, sorely needed as I only got 4 answers at first pass. Totally in awe that you could solve this and put in all the hints etc.

  41. This was ok apart from the SE corner which was Toughie standard.
    I did enjoy the challenge and the fact that the SE corner was beyond me did not really detract from the enjoyment as most of the clues were beyond my level.
    I got the Star Wars reference straight away, says much about my mispent youth.
    Thanks all.

  42. Just not my scene. It was a slog from beginning to end particularly in the South. No real Fav material although I did like the simple 20d. 5a now added to my vocabulary. Thank you Proximal but particularly Falcon for getting me over the finishing line. Let’s hope for better times ahead.

  43. I found the SE corner a bit of a beast. Also had to check 27a existed. Got it sorted in the end and enjoyed the process.

    For those comparing the difficulty of this with the Toughie, I think they took me roughly the same amount of time in all, but on this one most of that time was spent glowering at the few remaining in the SE, whereas progress on the Toughie was much more even. Well, until the end, when I gave up on the last one!

    Favourites today were 1a, 3d and 24d. Also thought 15d very clever (but did wonder whether it would hit any nerves with those who didn’t like the recent clue for abattoir).

    Many thanks to proXimal and Falcon.

  44. I was quite relieved to read that I wasn’t the only one to find today’s puzzle more difficult than usual, but having said that, it was nice to be mentally ‘stretched’ for a change. Today’s took me about twice as long as the regular puzzles to solve.16 down was one of my favourites, with 26 across a very close second. 24 down was last in, having stared at it for ages without seeing the obvious.20 down would have helped me to solve 28 across much sooner if I’d been a better scholar at French. Wrote in an S instead of X. An enjoyable, albeit masochistic slog, but pleased to get there in the end. Thanks to setter and Falcon.

  45. 15 d – Pedant-in-Chief here, but no one seems to have mentioned the total misuse of cockney rhyming slang. Butcher’s=Butcher’s hook=Look.
    “Peek” has nothing to do with it !! Very very poor clue- does anybody agree ?

  46. 3*? It took me so long to get started I’d give it 4*+. Dunno why, it all seemed perfectly logical once I got going. Butchers seems okay – it’s ordinary slang, not cockney.

  47. I sometimes find the Toughie easier and quicker to solve than the back page, so I think it depends on how you manage to connect to the setter’s style and train of thought.

    1. You’ve changed your alias for your initials – either should work from now on

      I agree – crossword solving is all about getting on the setter’s wavelength

    1. This crossword is a pangram because it contains all the letters of the alphabet

      Where Batman is concerned, I’d say a caper was definitely a crime

    2. The BRB lists caper as slang for “an illegal or questionable act, a crime”. Wikipedia has an entry on the Caper Story as a subgenre of crime fiction.

  48. Wow! Talk about different reactions to this crossword! I think everyone should remember that variety is the spice of life. How incredibly boring it would be to find a crossword that was the same old same old over too soon type everyday. So some of you couldn’t do it? So what? It’s only a crossword! Come on, life is too short to get uptight about it.
    For what it’s worth I thought this was an excellent challenge.
    It took me two cracks at it to complete but I loved it.
    Thanks to ProXimal and to Falcon for the review.

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