DT 28980 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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DT 28980

Daily Telegraph Cryptic No 28980

Hints and tips by pommers

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

Hola from the Vega Baja on a bright and sunny morning.  It’s a bit chilly at the silly o’clock time I’m writing this but the forecast for today and the next week is pretty good.  If you’re interested then have a look here: https://www.eltiempo.es/almoradi.html
I don’t know who today’s setter is but whoever it is has set a bit of a tricky rascal again so I have my suspicions.  On first pass I only got five of the acrosses and then eight of the downs so that makes it a bit tricky in my book but it could just be due to the early hour and too much vino collapso last night. However, tricky or not there’s five longish anagrams to give a lot of checkers so it shouldn’t frighten the horses too much.  I’ll be interested to see how you all got on with it.

As usual the ones I liked most are in blue.  The definitions are underlined in the clues and the answers are under the “click here” buttons so don’t click on them unless you really want to see the answer.  Please leave a comment telling us what you thought.


1a           Probing viral disease, doctor with a carrier (6)
BUMBAG:  Start with an informal word for flu or a cold and insert (probing) one of the two letter doctors and the A from the clue.  You’ll get the sort of carrier that has a long strap and is designed to be worn around the waist.

5a           Work with a venture that’s most shady (8)
OPAQUEST:  A charade of the usual work, the A from the clue and a venture or search.

9a           Beast Adam learns about (10)
SALAMANDER:  Anagram (about) of ADAM LEARNS.  I’m not a huge fan of anagrams but I like this one – short and to the point.

10a         Graduate close to pet project (4)
BABY:  This graduate is a Bachelor of Arts.  Follow him with a word meaning close to or next to.  I spent too long thinking “close to pet” was going to be a T, d’oh!

11a         Asian animal‘s sweep blocking comeback of viper (3,5)
RED PANDA:  Take the other name for a viper and reverse it (comeback of).  Into this you need to insert a word which can mean sweep when applied to a camera sweeping from side to side.  This clue might have been a lot harder if I hadn’t seen one of these on “The Secret Life of the Zoo” a couple of days ago.

12a         60s mum keeps home (6)
MINUTE:  You need to remember what an S usually refers to in crosswords then you need a word for mum, as in not talking, and insert the usual two letters for home to get what 60s is.

13a         Prime Minister’s said there’s no obvious exit from this (4)
MAZE:  This place that’s difficult to get out of sounds like (said) it belongs to the Prime Minister.

15a         Learner involved in giving treatment (8)
HANDLING:  Insert (involved in) an L(earner) into a word meaning giving or passing to someone.

18a         Surmise about South American city being poor (8)
INFERIOR:  Nothing to do with lacking money, poor here as in not very good.  It’s a word for surmise (5) placed around (about) a large South American city which sometimes is clued as a port.

19a         Miss, born first of December (4)
NEED:  This miss isn’t an unmarried woman but to lack or to require.  It’s a word for born, used to show a woman’s maiden name, with a D on the end (first of December).

21a         With wings withdrawn, falcon over compartment (6)
ALCOVE:  “With wings withdrawn” means to remove the first and last letters so do that to the words FALCON OVER and bolt together what’s left.

23a         Not all who use site take care of property (5-3)
HOUSE SIT:  A lurker.  It’s hidden in (not all) the next here words.  I like this clue as the eight letter answer is hidden in just ten letters of fodder.

25a         Heckle, dismissing one European king as fool (4)
JERK:  Take a word meaning heckle which has a double E in the middle and remove just one of them (dismissing one European).  Follow that with a king from chess notation.

26a         Rival clubs locking small Parisian in changing room (10)
COMPETITOR:  Start with C(lubs) and follow with an anagram (changing) of ROOM.  Into this insert (locking . . . in) the French (Parisian) word meaning small.

27a         Knight crazy about English rose regularly ignored beauties (8)
STUNNERS:  Take a Knight from chess notation and an informal word for crazy and reverse them (about).  Follow with E(nglish) and the alternate letters (regularly ignored) from RoSe.

28a         Harry Styles, most roguish (6)
SLYEST:  Anagram (harry) of STYLES.  I’m slightly surprised that I haven’t come across this wordplay before I’ve managed to resist a One Direction clip but here’s a photo of him for those who like that sort of thing.


2d           Custom from America, say, taken up (5)
USAGE:  The usual three letters for America followed by two letters for say, but they are reversed (taken up in a down clue).

3d           Swear sheep is dancing with lamb (9)
BLASPHEME:  Anagram (. . . is dancing with . . .) of SHEEP LAMB.

4d           Coarse Yankee supporting Republican in win (6)
GRAINY:  Take a word for win or profit and insert (in) an R(epublican) and follow with what Yankee is in the phonetic alphabet.

5d           Personification of London banker? (3,6,6)
OLD FATHER THAMES:  The banker here isn’t one of those on Threadneedle Street but is a river.  This is a cryptic definition of how London’s major river is sometimes referred to.  Actually it’s the river God and here’s Gracie singing about him.

6d           Bitterness from a baseless misdemeanour over New Year (8)
ACRIMONY:  Star with the A from the clue.  Then it’s a misdemeanour or felony without its last letter (baseless) and finally an N(ew) and a Y(ear).

7d           University with refurbished bar north of city (5)
URBAN:  U(niversity) followed by an anagram (refurbished) of BAR and finally N(orth).

8d           Reserve opinion for matter (9)
SUBSTANCE:  A short word for a reserve or a player “on the bench” in a football team followed by your opinion or view.

14d         Lament nun’s straying and dissolution (9)
ANNULMENT:  Anagram (straying) of LAMENT NUN.

16d         Cuckoo covetingly wanting condor’s top endurance (9)
LONGEVITY:  Take the C off the word COVETINGLY (wanting Condor’s top) and make an anagram (cuckoo) of what’s left.

17d         Smart Aleck‘s main column’s beginning in Telegraph (8)
WISEACRE:  Start with what the main, especially a Spanish one, is an example of and follow with a C (Column’s beginning). Insert that lot into another word for Telegraph or cable.

20d         Hardship you reported squeezed into formal wear (6)
DURESS:  The letter that sounds like (reported) the word YOU inserted (squeezed) into some formal wear.

22d         Timber article put in fine space (5)
OAKEN:  Timber as an adjective meaning made of wood, a timber cottage for example. To get a word meaning made of a particular type of wood you need two letters for fine or alright with a printer’s space and insert an indefinite article.  Took a while for me to spot that timber can be used as an adjective but that was just me being a bit thick.

24d         English player‘s sporting equipment (5)
IRONS:  This English player is  an English actor who’s first major film role was in “The French Lieutenant’s Woman”.  His name is also some sporting equipment used in golf.  Here’s a bit of him in “Die Hard with a Vengeance” . . .

A lot of blue here but my favourite was 10a with 13a and 28a on the podium.

Quickie pun had me beat today so thanks to Kitty for the hint.  Should have got it myself ‘cos I’m a sailor for God’s sake.  

Quick crossword pun :      FOREIGN     +     DAFT     =     FORE AND AFT

64 comments on “DT 28980

  1. I spent far too long with 16d which was a bung-in. Have not seen cuckoo before as an anagram indicator. I really enjoyed both 16d and the excellent lurker at 23a. Overall this was quite testing but rewarding to complete. Good fun.

    Many thanks to our mystery setter and pommers.

  2. A struggle today as it did not flow but finished in a reasonable time ,

    A mixture of clues some needed retrospective parsing but a few good ones .

    My COTD 28A

    Lovely day in South Wales and set fair for the big game tomorrow .

  3. I thought this one was thoroughly excellent. I started off quite slowly, but picked up speed once I got going.

    Lots of ticks on the paper… plenty to enjoy.

    3*/5* for me.

    Many thanks to the setter, and to pommers.

  4. I had my strong suspicions about who set this one too – I’ll be interested to compare and contrast with tomorrow’s Toughie ;)

    Definitely a start with the Downs day but I finished up in a reasonable time for a Thursday

    Thanks to Pommers and the Mr [X] Eron

  5. I made a slow start with this puzzle, which had some very tricky clues. After leaving the SW corner, while i did one of the sudokus and the polyword puzzle in today’s DT, I finally managed to finish it. However, I needed some reassurance from Pommers on the parsing of 25a and 22d. Favourite clue 17d. Thanks to the setter and Pommers.

  6. Thanks Pommers and Setter.

    Lots of white space today…

    Not very enjoyable, even had problems following your hints…hmmm

  7. I thought that this was the best back-page puzzle for ages and really enjoyed it. I have loads of ticks on my printout including 10a, 12a, 13a and 23a.
    Thanks to Mr X (?) and pommers for the review.

    1. I think that if I’d solved it just now rather than at silly o’clock I’d probably have gone for 5* enjoyment. You’re right, the best back pager for ages.

  8. A really good puzzle, this one, with great clues (some pretty tricky) providing a decent challenge and good enjoyment. I’ve ticked 12a, 27a, 28a and 16d but could have ticked several more. I don’t recall seeing (smart) Aleck spelled that way before. 3* / 4*

  9. Certainly not a puzzle for the faint hearted, a notch or two higher than the weeks puzzles so far and a ****/**** for me.
    Lots of tricky inventive clues like 12a and 28a and excellent fare throughout.
    Failed to see where pan came from in 11a-thanks Pommers -all I could think of was a dust pan !

  10. A very slow start for me, but nearly got there in the end. It was 17d that got me, it’s not a word in common usage in these parts.

    Pommers, you might want to revisit your hint for 17d, you have inadvertently provided part of the answer.

    Many thanks to all.

  11. For me, difficult but the best of the week so far. I did like 12a (but will try to remember earlier on what the ‘s’ could represent in the future). Thanks to the setter and Pommers.

  12. The trend for puzzles this week of above average difficulty for the day continues with this one. I really think it belongs on the Toughie page. I needed a few hints and a fair bit of electronic help to get anywhere near it, having only filled about half unaided. Having said that I recognise that it was a puzzle of the highest calibre with a plethora of excellent clues. I ticked seven for special mention, 10 and 12a being joint favourites. 4.5/4*
    My thanks and admiration go to Pommers (I bet Kath was pleased she avoided this one!) for his review and to the setter.

    Ps the clip of Gracie Fields was almost painful!

  13. Not even close on this one today! Enjoyable….but tough for a newcomer. Many thanks to setter and pommers…I’ll chalk this down as a good learning experience!

  14. I pretty much did it, but needed Pommers’s hints for my bung-ins – 17d, 25a and 24d. Thanks! The last one was my only complaint in a mostly ingenious puzzle. The name of an actor ( from, well, thousands…) and sports equipment ( from, well, hundreds) was a pretty limp clue.

    Otherwise, 12a was my favourite.

  15. I really enjoyed this. Only needed hint (thank you) for 10a – answer eliticed the response “oh, for goodness’ sake” (that’s the polite version).
    12a is excellent.
    Many thanks to Pommers for the clips especially the Die Hard excerpt.

  16. Loved, loved, loved this one. Lots of inventiveness on display and a fair few learning points for me here. Completed at a sitting but needed two coffees in Prets, NYC to solve – both of which cooled, embarrassingly, to room temp.
    Some favourites: 10a, 12a and 21a. I have written this before reading what others thought so that I would not be influenced. Now to find out if others agreed.
    I am going with Pommers’ Assessment at ***/**** with maybe half-a-star added to each.
    Thanks to the hard work of the setter and our duty Blogger today.

    1. Just read the comments and all seems broadly in line (phew). It is easy to form a skewed impression of a puzzle depending on how tired/time-pressed/playful one is feeling. I can’t remember ‘favouritizing’ a 4-letter clue before but 12a was cute. The penny hitting the Lino left a dent with 12a. Yup, that lovely puzzle has quite put a spring in my step today and what is that worth?

  17. I loved this puzzle. Thought the clueing of the four short answers (10a, 13a, 19a, and 25a) was brilliant. I had a long list of ticked clues: 1a, 11a, 18a, 23a, 28a, 3d, 8d, and 17d. My favourite was the very clever 12a. Thanks to proXimal for a wonderful puzzle and to pommers for a great blog.

  18. Ah… ProXimal! ….up there with Virgilius and perhaps (in hushed tones) a bit beyond. You even had me thinking I was dealing with a Pangram which had me trying to ram an ‘x’ in somewhere. Even that was a ruse.

    1. I’m impressed by how he can raise the difficultly a notch or two above the back-page average without resorting to obscure words or convoluted wordplay, relying instead on clever misdirection and unexpected but perfectly legitimate synonyms. 10a is a prime example of that skill. I’m looking forward to his Toughie tomorrow.

      1. 10a had me fooled completely until I got the second B by solving 8d. You probably heard me bashing the head with the tea tray at that point.

  19. A challenging crossword, so it was. I got close to completing, but bunged two answers in, which thankfully the hints said were correct. Those were 17 & 22 down.


    Thanks to setter and to Pommers.

  20. ****/****. More like a toughie but very enjoyable. Thanks to Pommers for explaining 17&22d and the rest of an enjoyable review. Thanks also to the setter – really liked 12a.

  21. Definitely a good one and I’d concur with opinions that proXimal was responsible.
    Took far too long to register the ‘s’ in 12a and thought 24d was perhaps a little too vague, but that’s a minor niggle.

    Plenty of ticks – 10,13&23a coming out as the top three.

    Many thanks to our setter and to Pommers – shame on you for needing help with the Quickie pun!

    1. I wasn’t going to mention it Jane but seeing as you brought it up. Just what sort of a sailor is it that doesn’t recognise fore and aft?

      1. A retired one who actually never used the term in his life, although both his boats had fore and aft rigs, specifically fractional rigged Bermudan sloops.

  22. It’s hard to choose a favourite, but 13a was the most brilliant clue in a superb crossword.

    Thanks to proXimal and Pommers.

  23. Whew, that was certainly a very tricky number but very enjoyable. I did need hints for 25a, just never saw it. The SW corner was the hardest for me. The gimme at 5d gave so many checking letters the length of the grid and was a life-saver.
    I can’t choose a fave, too much good stuff.
    Thanks to proXimal and to pommers for his hints and pics.

    1. See you tomorrow in Toughieland … but I doubt I will be able to solve it.

      Hope it’s not too “Nasty!”

  24. Our last one in was 1a where we had to wait for a couple of checkers before we could make sense of it. We guessed that the X missing from the pangram was a hint as to who had set this one. A quality puzzle that we really enjoyed.
    Thanks ProXimal and pommers.

  25. Definitely a worthy challenge! Took me a while to really get going but from then on all went reasonably smoothly until the last couple in the bottom left hand corner. The pennies finally dropped and all was well.
    21a was one of those two and is also my favourite.
    Thanks to ProXimal and to Pommers.

  26. I’ve had a dreadful day going out at 5 am and achieving nothing of what I’d intended until I got back home late this afternoon and tackled this wonderful puzzle which made me completely forget my woes. I was in no doubt as soon as I’d finished it that proXimal was the setter – a near pangram missing just the X coupled with so many superb clues gave the game away.

    My rating is 3.5*/5* with most of my time spent unravelling the SW corner.

    We are certainly spoilt for choice in trying to pick a favourite and I’m going to put 10a, 12a & 23a on my podium.

    Many thanks to proXimal and to pommers.

    1. Botheration. My comment has gone into moderation even though my name and e-mail address haven’t changed. I have been forced to use a different computer though, as my early trip today was made in the vain hope of getting mine fixed.

    2. I sympathise with you Rabbit Dave. I set myself extremely low targets which I consistently fail to achieve.

  27. I agree with all the praise for this one.

    My favourite was 12a (60s mum keeps home). More big smiles at 13a (no obvious exit) and 28a (the roguish Mr Styles), and smiles all round really.

    5d went in early but I think that if that meaning of banker hadn’t been done before and was being tried out for the first time, I don’t think there’s an editor who’d pass it. Not a grumble, just a comment. :)

    Thanks to the no-longer-missing X and pommers.

  28. Great puzzle but needed help with 25a. 17d a new word for me but worked it out OK in the end. Thanks to all.

  29. Well what a stunning puzzle, had everything right for me balancing some excellent surfaces perfect clueing & a maximum of entertainment.
    Was doing fine until the SW corner just pushed into 3* time, but certainly 5* for enjoyment.
    Grateful thanks to setter & Pommers for the review.

  30. A marvellous puzzle thank you setter and pommers I needed your help in SE corner; 1a my cotd but they are all good!

  31. A ** for difficulty here. Enjoyable, and just difficult enough to not fall too easily, but no write-in either.

  32. Thanks to proXimal and to Pommers for the review and hints. A thoroughly enjoyable puzzle. Had a few goes at this. Very tricky in places. I wrongly thought that the answer to 11 was sea panda, no wonder I couldn’t parse it. The lurker in 23a was very well hidden. Never seen cuckoo used as an anagram indicator before in 16d. I thought 12a was very original. I liked 1a, but my favourite was 26a. Was 3*/4* for me. Great stuff.

  33. Wow that was hard. Again I’m sure you’ve all packed up and gone, but I decided to do the toughie this afternoon and the back page this evening whilst eating my dinner of liver and bacon and regailing myself with a bottle of red wine. Whether I’ve addled my brains on the toughie again or its the red wine I don’t know but even though I got there in the end I had to read the hints to verify that I got the right answers. I’m starting to waffle now so I hope nobody reads this. Thanks to setter and Pommers.

  34. Took a while in two sittings but made it in the end encountering more resistance in the West than in the East. Like Jane I felt 24d rather unfocused and was not keen on 1a or 4d. Failed to fully parse 17d. Favs were 12a and 19a. Wondered who the setter was but gather it is ProXimal so thanks to him and also to Pommers.

  35. Missed the lurker. Hidden in plain view though it was. Wiseacre held me up and I got 16d by inference missing the anagram marker of cuckoo. Thanks to the setter for stimulating the little grey cells and to pommers

  36. I didn’t have time to do this one yesterday but have just finished it now.
    What a fabulous crossword – I loved it all – wish I’d been doing the hints for it although I think I might have had a nervous breakdown to begin with as I took a long time to get going.
    I think everything’s been said already so I’ll just pick a few random clues out of the hat which is overflowing with good ones – 10, 12 and 13a . . . . too many to choose from really so I’ll stop there.
    With thanks to proXimal and to pommers.

  37. 4*/4*…
    liked the topical 13A (prime minister’s said there’s no obvious exit from this).

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