DT 28990 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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DT 28990

Daily Telegraph Cryptic No 28990

Hints and tips by Mr K

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


Hello, everyone, and Happy Pancake Day.  Much like last week, this was a steady solve until things got tricky down in the SW.  Unlike last week, and unlike most back-page puzzles, today's offering is packed with cryptic definitions.  While some were mild, I thought the best were excellent.  They raised my enjoyment to the 4* level.

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    One after another? (7)
PURSUER:  A cryptic definition.  Read "after" as "following in search of", not as "behind"

5a    Marvel as vehicle reversed in distance (7)
MIRACLE:  A vehicle is reversed and inserted in a unit of distance

9a    Segregate nutty chocolate product (6,3)
EASTER EGG:  An anagram (nutty) of SEGREGATE

10a   Sad song in Matrix about Neo's heart (5)
DIRGE:  The reversal (about) of a synonym of matrix is followed by the central letter of NEO (Neo's heart).  The capitalisation is just misdirection to get you thinking about this film

11a   Deposing leader in panic is blunder (5)
ERROR:  Another word for panic has its first letter deleted (deposing leader in …)

12a   Contemplate large drink and experience its effect? (3,6)
SEE DOUBLE:  Put together contemplate or look at and a large measure of spirits.  The definition refers back to the wordplay

13a   Wind up eating this at Ship and get sloshed (9)
SPAGHETTI:  An anagram (sloshed) of AT SHIP GET.  The definition is a cryptic allusion to how one might eat the answer.  Unless you're a cat

16a   Ridge where one hundred take breather (5)
CREST:  Join one hundred in Roman numerals and a breather or break

17a   Just beat news boss introduced by channel? (5)
PIPED:  'just beat' in a race, and the usual abbreviated news boss or journalist

18a   Curious in insects and sheep for example (9)
RUMINANTS:  Concatenate curious or strange, IN from the clue, and some worker insects

20a   Give to monarch breaking weapon (9)
TOLERANCE:  TO from the clue is followed by the Latin abbreviation for Queen Elizabeth inserted in (breaking) a long pointy weapon (not the one in the picture)

23a   Gas round region (5)
OZONE:  Assemble the round letter and a region or district

25a   Understand Shakespearean king and knight (5)
LEARN:  Combine one of Shakespeare's tragic kings and the chess abbreviation for knight

26a   Final demand: time short in mutual wrangling (9)
ULTIMATUM:  All but the last letter of (… short) TIMe inserted in an anagram (wrangling) of MUTUAL

27a   One feeling for a six-footer? (7)
ANTENNA:  A cryptic definition of one of the things used for feeling by an insect (six-footer here being a whimsical reference to a creature with six feet)

28a   Reviewer of books? (7)
AUDITOR:  A mildly cryptic definition.  The books we want contain accounts, not prose.



1d    Woman behind the lines? (7)
POETESS:  It's another cryptic definition.  These lines are lines of verse 

2d    Part of staircase in corridor is erected (5)
RISER:  The answer is hiding in the remainder of the clue

3d    Discovered  in shocking condition? (9)
UNEARTHED:  A double definition.  The second is a cryptic description of a situation that could allow a faulty electrical device to deliver a shock 

4d    Broadcast studies for musical instruments? (5)
REEDS:  A homophone (broadcast) of studies or peruses

5d    Redesigned MG is meant to show pulling power (9)
MAGNETISM:  An anagram (redesigned) of MG IS MEANT

6d    One to transmit commercial in Brazilian city (5)
RADIO:  A short word for a commercial is inserted in the short name of a Brazilian port city

7d    A bribe can corrupt West Indian (9)
CARIBBEAN:  An anagram (corrupt) of A BRIBE CAN

8d    Peak some climb in severe storm (7)
EVEREST:  Another lurker.  The peak is hiding in the remainder of the clue

14d   Try again to meet this person's request! (9)
APPELLANT:  Another cryptic definition.  This person is asking for a court case to be tried again

15d   Goodbye? Aunt in tangle over large arachnid! (9)
TARANTULA:  Join a (2-2) informal Northern English goodbye and an anagram (… in tangle) of AUNT containing (over) the clothing abbreviation for large.  Here's one I met while hiking

16d   New class in school followed rules (9)
CONFORMED:  Join the abbreviation for new to a school class, and then insert that lot in a short name for a school that isn't single-sex

17d   Spanish stew containing last of meat and bone (7)
PATELLA:  A Spanish stew of rice, chicken, seafood, and vegetables containing the last letter of meaT

19d   Cooking vessel? Yes and no! (7)
STEAMER:  Yes and no because the answer is both a cooking vessel and a vessel of a different type

21d   Argument and arrest (3-2)
RUN-IN:  Without the hyphen, the answer means arrest and take to a lock-up

22d   More than usually  wide? (5)
EXTRA:  A double definition.  The first is straightforward.  For the second, wide is being a crickety definition by example (indicated by the ?) of the answer

24d   Group leaders to end talks after month (5)
OCTET:  The first letters of (leaders to) End Talks are placed after an abbreviation for one of the months of the year


Thanks to today’s setter for a fun and different solve.  If you're reading, please consider commenting below so we can thank you.  Top clues for me were 13a, 17a, 27a, 1d, and 17d.  Which clues did you like best?


The Quick Crossword pun:  JESTER + MINUET = JUST A MINUTE

74 comments on “DT 28990

  1. 1*/2.5*. Apart from a false start with 1d putting “actress” as my first answer in and a couple of clues in the SW corner, this was all over very quickly. 3d was my favourite with 14d as runner-up.

    Many thanks to Messrs R & K.

  2. Pleasantly straightforward and enjoyable this morning. Lots of good clues to enjoy, but my favourite was 3d from 27a.

    Thanks to both Misters for today’s fun. 13a gave Mr K the chance to use that very funny pasta-sucking cat again.

  3. This was a quirky one. I counted 10 clues with ‘playful’ question marks, two of which also had exclamation marks. Is this a record? It was challenging enough and very entertaining. Thanks to Mr K for the hints and cat pictures and our interrogatory setter.

    1. Hi, Chris. It looks like today is not a record for question marks. The puzzle with the highest number of clues ending in question marks that I’ve been able to find is DT 26440, which had 12 of them.

      1. Thanks, either I have done that one and missed seeing it, or perhaps it was one I didn’t attempt. I have become more aware of the style of clue since starting to read BD’s Blog. Sorry for the delay in replying, we were in Oxford for a hospital appointment (very time consuming).

        1. Today must be an outlier because in the time that I’ve been solving the back-pager on most days I cannot remember a puzzle with anything like the number of cryptic definitions that we have here.

          1. I’ve been attempting the backpager since the late 1960s and I agree. It’s most unusual.

            1. My crosswording memories do not go back nearly that far, so that’s useful to know.

  4. Going to go for a **/*** as no hold ups and an enjoyable solve for me today.
    Liked the surface of 17a and like RD 3d was my favourite.
    Thanks to Mr K for the cat pics, especially 27a.
    Liked the quickie pun.

      1. Welcome to the blog, John.

        I didn’t see a problem with the numbers of p’s in 17a. The single p in the answer tells us that that the end of the clue must hold the definition, although the clever surface reading tries to make us think otherwise.

  5. Agree the SW. order was tricky.

    Did you really meet 15d while out hiking? A real traveller’s tale.

    1. There is now way I would be able to take a photo. I would be out of there like a shot

    2. Yes, I’ve encountered a few of them when out and about. They’re docile and you just have to stand and admire them because they move so gracefully. I’m not about to provoke one to find out, but their bite is supposedly no worse than a bee sting. It’s the rattlesnakes that you have to worry about.

  6. Just enough food for thought made this a fun solve. The East made it before the West. 10a parsing escaped me. 17d was probably Fav but also liked 12a, 28a and 16d. Thank you Messrs. Ron and K.

  7. Super puzzle. Just right to put me into the mood for mowing the field and the lawns. Ta to all

  8. Second gentle puzzle of the week but much enjoyed here.
    My favourite was 3d with 18a slotting into second place.

    Thanks to our setter and to Mr K for the fun blog. The pic at 1a reminded me of one of our kittens – she never did figure out where her quarry disappeared to every time she reached the end of the tiled floor!

  9. Lots of loveliness.

    My favourite (although nearly last in) was 3D.
    27a runner-up.

    Didn’t like 1d.

  10. Like others have said, very “cryptic” and not really my cup of tea though it did lead to several loud penny dropping moments.
    I’d carelessly bunged in Barbadian for 7d which slowed me for a while and was temporarily flummoxed by “six footer” in 27a (He WILL remember it next time) but after much head scratching it all went in if not entirely parsed.
    In a strong field 3d just pips the clever lurker 8d and 22d as my COTD. 3*/3*
    Thanks to the setter and to Mr K for his customary feline filled review.

  11. Some head scratching required to complete this at a gallop – **/***.

    Favourite – 18a, with 12a not far behind.

    Thanks to the setter and Mr K.

  12. I found three quarters of this puzzle straightforward to solve but was held up in the SW corner. Once I had sorted that out my time had pretty much doubled.

    There were some very good clues today that made for an enjoyable solve.

    Thanks to Mr K and setter 2.5*/4*

  13. Good puzzle today with no stumpers for us – although 1a and 1d were our last in. DOH
    The Spanish food at 17d is definitely not a stew. If you told a Spanish madre she’d stewed this dish, she’d have your guts for garters!
    Thanks to setter and Mr K – love cat piccie at 13a

    1. I wouldn’t get too picky about the description Pommette. All cooking is only warming things up.

  14. SW corner also held me up but otherwisw all went smoothly. *** enjoyment.
    3d clever & my COTD.
    Thanks to setter & Mr K for review and pictures. Is it me or did the 13a picture appear a few weeks ago?

    1. Yes, LrOK, you’re correct – I used the 13a picture in a comment not too long ago. I though it was entertaining enough to warrant an encore.

      1. No complaints Mr K it is just that these days I “recall” things that never happened & forget things that did. Also things that seemed like they happened yesterday were years ago was what prompted my question.
        Shows we do take note of the clips in spite of the very slght feline bias.

        1. i know that fuzzy time feeling all too well. And yes, it’s good to know that readers take note of the clips.

  15. I’m over my grumps from yesterday. I thought this was just right for a Tuesday, easy enough and hard enough at the same time. 1a, 3d, 13a, 14d and 27a were my favourites with 27a just pipping it. Many thanks to the setter for an excellent puzzle and Mr K for hosting the blog.

  16. Apart from getting 17a hopelessly wrong by being lazy before I saw reason, I found this fairly straightforward and pleasant. 18a was my top clue.
    Thanks to the setter and to Mr K for the review and films.

  17. A nice easy one with one or two really nice clues. I am surprised that you couldn’t find a picture of the Queen with a weapon and a cat – on the other hand, no, she is not known for being a feline fancier.

  18. Straightforward apart from hold up in SW 😳 ***/*** Favourites 13 & 18 across 😃 Thanks to Mr K and to the Setter. My one reservation is wth 17a because I have always been “pipped” at the post 😬

    1. I had the same problem with 17a until it dawned that the definition is ‘introduced by channel’ and not ‘just beat’ – that only defines the first three letters of the answer.

      1. That clever and well-disguised definition ensured that the clue made my list of favourites.

        1. I was looking at just beat for the definition for a while, probably because the past and present tense of beat are the same, which lends itself to the clever deception of the clue.

  19. I was very tempted to put “stalker” straight into 1a, so I was glad that I held on until I had some checking letters. 12a made me smile once the penny dropped. I think I’ve seen the answer to 17d before, but I think that the clue just read something like “Two women ?”
    Thank you setter, I was grateful for a friendly puzzle today, and thank you too Mr Kitty. I’ve had a really frustrating time trying to print the crosswords off since I got back from my holiday on Friday. First of all I got the message to link my two accounts together ( which I thought I’d done last year when DT were changing their systems). Never mind, I tried to link the accounts together, only to find I got a different message telling me I had to subscribe before I could print anything off. I checked my subscription which was paid at the beginning of February, but still couldn’t print the crossword. After two phone calls to the DT office, someone eventually managed to flick a switch and get me back up and running. I really don’t know why I should have been switched off in the first place. Grumble over.

    1. Hi, Florence. Perhaps the clue you’re thinking of is the Rufus creation used as the title of the book pictured below the hint?

      1. Sorry Mr Kitty, I was so busy looking at all the lovely kitty pics that I missed the illustration for 17d.

  20. **/****. Very enjoyable with 18a&1,3&15d getting ticks. I think 3d just takes first prize. Thanks to all.

  21. This was an excellent puzzle. I was racing along, then ground to a halt in the SW corner. Took my Collie out for an hour, resumed battle and completed.


    Thanks to setter and Mr.K.

  22. Yes, indeed, lots and lots to like here.
    I needed the hints to unravel 17a and 24d, I must be as thick as two short planks.
    It’s really hard to choose a fave, but I think 12a and 18a are right up there.
    Thanks to our Shrove Tuesday setter and to Mr. Kitty for the hints and pics, always look forward to the kitties.

    1. Back in the days Shrove Tuesday was traditionally Manchester University Rag Day. Remember days spent building floats etc then parading through town. Having got the float’s theme past the committee of course.

      1. We always had pancakes on Shrove Tuesday, do they still do that? I wonder why, I should google. In New Orleans they call it Fat Tuesday!

        1. It sounds as though that is from Mardi Gras. As I understand it, it was an opportunity to use up all the fat and sugar before Lent…….I wouldn’t know as I don’t give anything up for Lent…….we’re talking weeks!

        2. Just finished mine. It is still an annual ritual, in this house anyway.

  23. Most enjoyable. I loved the kittipic at 13a, although I don’t think a car would eat the answer. Also liked 17d – was the first crossword book I ever bought. It got me started. Thanks to setter and Mr. K.

  24. As our esteemed blogger all went well until the SW I brought it home to puzzle over the final few with the hints but had to field a minor emergency. Our kettle had died and neither mum nor I function without regular infusions of tea. A trip to buy a new kettle and I was finally able to finish with Yorkshire Gold and Mr K’s help on the Spanish bone stew. Thanks to him and setter. I will up my tea intake for a while and maybe toss a couple of pancakes in a few.

    1. Our Dualit kettle died after 3 years. We chose that (more expensive) brand because they claimed it was designed to be repairable. Sent it to them and a whole new one arrived back gratis. Not a word – just a free new kettle. we liked their style – and the kettle.

  25. Bashed this one off about an hour after it was published. Much enjoyed, esp. 9a. Last in was 1a. I could never make my choccy 9a’s last. Just wolfed them labrador-like. Always felt guilty and childish afterwards.


    Then, because I was wide-awake at silly-o’clock, did Private Eye’s cryptic which was fun. I notice they offer a £100 prize. How about it DT?

    1. The Private Eye crosswords are blogged on FifteenSquared once the final date for submissions has passed.

  26. 14d and 1d caused me problems at the close, cryptic definitions never being my strong point, the rest though was straightforward enough. Overall *** for difficulty sounds right.

  27. A puzzle not as testing as I first thought for my late start Tuesday solve. Once I hit the right wavelength clues seemed to go in quite steadily, hence 2*/4*
    I thought there was thoughtful structure to most of the clues, favourites were 20ac & 17d.
    Thank you to MrK & MrRon setter

    1. Welcome to the blog, J. Soper.

      Peeress does fit the checkers, but I don’t think it fits the definition very well. Certainly not as well as the answer that the setter had in mind.

      1. Hello from me too. Mr Kitty isn’t the only soul having a gander at nearly midnight. Or whatever the time is wherever in the world he is right now

  28. Since starting the DT cryptics as this year’s New Year’s Resolution, today’s puzzle has been my favourite – really enjoyable, not too difficult, with a couple of groaners. 1a and 14d very clever, and my favourite was 18a. Thank you to all.

  29. This one went in fairly quickly and was a little better in all departments than yesterday’s. But the clues were well written/constructed. I couldn’t comment, however, and like the Dark Destroyer who gets the hump when the library’s shut, I had the hump because the library computers were down all day. I think the Quickie pun was pushing it to the very limit. 2* / 3*

  30. Thank you Mr K — I needed quite a few hints for this one, and they all provided just the right level of help.

    I kept seeing anagram indicators which weren’t there: trying to stew the letters of ‘Spanish’ in 17d; and, having got the answer for 8d by putting the letters of ‘severe’ in a storm and adding a T, I really couldn’t work out how “in” indicated ‘add a T’!

    Like many others, 3d was my favourite.

    1. The clue for 8d doesn’t really ask you to do anything. There is no suggested wordplay. That is a sure sign that it will be a lurker

      1. I’m afraid that I have to disagree with that assessment, MP. It sounds like you saw right through it immediately, but the setter did try to misdirect us with a few possibilities for wordplay. In addition to the quite plausible route that Smylers went down, the clue could potentially be indicating that some part of a synonym of climb is to be inserted in a severe storm, to give a word defined by peak. Or a solver might have investigated, as I did, whether some climb in was indicating that the answer was hidden in reverse in SEVERE STORM.

  31. 3*/5*…..
    liked 27A (one feeling for a six-footer?).. and the picture;
    difficulty rating for this puzzle is ***, but Toughie 2187 is **…does this mean that the back page is easier than the Toughie, or are the two types of crosswords rated differently… I cannot see anything about this in the FAQ’s.

    1. Hi, Robin, and thanks for the thanks.

      Toughie and back-pager difficulties are rated on different scales. I heard somewhere that adding two stars to the toughie rating gives roughly what it might get as a back-page puzzle. 3* is supposed to be average difficulty on both scales, although the back-page average seems to have drifted closer to 2*

      Some bloggers (and commenters) assign ratings based on their solving time. In my second survey I asked solvers what rating they’d assign to that day’s puzzle (along with how long they took to solve it, whether they used aids, etc.). I try to assign difficulty ratings using that data point as calibration.

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