DT 28991 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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DT 28991

Daily Telegraph Cryptic No 28991

Hints and tips by Grizz Wyllie

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

BD Rating – Difficulty ** Enjoyment ***

Kia Ora , I am standing in for The 2Ks today as they continue their camping trip to Fiordland on South Island.

Jay has provided a real humdinger of a puzzle today. All fairly clued but with just enough trickery to baffle and delight in equal measure. The fun begins at one across and stays with us all the way to 24 down. I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did.

There are two lurkers in this puzzle. There are lots of lurkers reading this blog. How about de-lurking today. The 2Ks will be watching this space and will be delighted to hear from you

Please leave a comment telling us what you thought.


1a    Grass over after graduate mob runs riot (6)
BAMBOO: A clue which I solved backwards. The abbreviation for over follows an anagram (runs riot) of MOB which follows the abbreviation for a university degree

5a    Edges in wearing shoes, being careless (8)
SLIPSHOD: The plural of the edge of a hollow container or an opening sits inside a word meaning to be wearing shoes.

9a    One problem splitting thread is such illumination (5,8)
STRIP LIGHTING: a dangerous, difficult, or otherwise unfortunate situation sits nicely inside a thread. Thicker than cotton, thinner than rope. The difficult situation here appears once more in this puzzle with a completely different meaning

10a    Maintain power and propriety of manner (8)
PRESERVE: Begin with the abbreviation for power and add a word synonymous with reticence or formality

11a    Empire builders taking some from answer (6)
ROMANS: A hidden word (lurker) The answer is hidden amongst the words of the clue. The word some tells us so

12a    Cake or meal found in 75% of France once (6)
GATEAU: Your afternoon meal sits nicely inside the first three letters of a four-letter word for France. The France of Asterix

14a    Fool declines credit (8)
DIPSTICK: A word meaning declines or drops is followed by an old fashioned word for credit

16a    Theory incorporating different line that’s charted to a degree (8)
ISOTHERM: The wordplay works like this – a distinctive practice, system, or philosophy, typically a political ideology or an artistic movement (that is three letters of the clue explained) contains a word meaning different.

The definition is this – a line on a map connecting points having the same temperature at a given time or on average over a given period.

Thank you Google

19a    Settle comfortably in finest leather (6)
NESTLE: This is also a hidden word clue. The word in tells us so

21a    Name inscribed in heart — a bit of a looker (6)
CORNEA: Begin with a word meaning the heart or middle of something. (An Apple will do nicely) Insert the letter N (Name) and append the letter A from the clue. The answer is part of one’s eye

23a    Ultra-modern sort of green gathering speed (5-3)
SPACE AGE: A type of green named after a herb gathers (surrounds) a word meaning a speed (of walking perhaps) There is a nice cheese from Derby made with this herb

25a    Running through reason for deadlock (8-5)
STICKING POINT: Impaling with a piece of wood followed by a reason or particular gist of an argument

26a    Hover around poor diner being sociable (8)
FRIENDLY: To hover like a Kestrel contains an anagram (poor) of DINER

27a    Grant immunity to former partner, mostly unoccupied (6)
EXEMPT: Ones former boyfriend, girlfriend, or marital partner is followed by a word meaning unoccupied or containing nothing minus its last letter (mostly)


2d    A short hearing covering American nation (7)
AUSTRIA: Begin with the letter A which is a gift from the setter. Add the abbreviation for The United States (American) Add a hearing in a court of law minus its last letter

3d    Reveals feature of prison holding English (5)
BARES: These features of a prison prevent escape through windows. They need to include the abbreviation for English.

4d    Convenient being one up for review around harbour (9)
OPPORTUNE: An anagram (for review) of ONE UP sits around a harbour where ships load and unload

5d    Allowance from crown included in remit (7)
STIPEND: One’s crown is an extremity. Place a three-letter word meaning an extremity inside a verb meaning to remit money. This answer appeared quite often many years ago. Only seen in Crosswordland

6d    Divine liquid offered by church singers after promoting one (5)
ICHOR: I have given two explanations for this clue. Use the one you understand

Move the letter I (one) from a church singing group to the beginning of the word thus promoting it to lead position.

Find a word which means a church singing group. Move the letter I three spaces to the left where it will now sit at the beginning of a new word

7d    Shifting emphasis to keep time for companions on board (9)
SHIPMATES: Anagram (shifting) of EMPHASIS which also includes the abbreviation for time

8d    Natural love and caring, oddly (7)
ORGANIC: The letter which looks like the number that represents the love score in tennis is followed by an anagram (oddly) of CARING

13d    Comprehensive may be costly, needing tons for parking (9)
EXTENSIVE: A word meaning costly or dear has the letter P (parking) exchanged for the letter T (tons) (needing tons for parking)

15d    Fruit produced from two trees (9)
PINEAPPLE: Two trees unite to create a fruit. The first tree is a conifer and has ones called Scots and Ponderosa the second tree is a fruit tree producing Granny Smiths and Cox’s Orange Pippins

17d    Provide finance for track around the outskirts of Nimes (7)
SPONSOR: The track or scent of an animal sits around the outer letters (outskirts) of the word Nimes

18d    Skill in construction of ‘Madonna carrying child’ (7)
MASONRY: The name of the Madonna carries the gender of her child

20d    Promise to go topless on a horse, and suddenly look cheerful (5,2)
LIGHT UP: A promise has its first letter removed (topless) This is followed by a word meaning on a horse. The promise appeared earlier at 9 across where it had a completely different meaning

22d    Demanded a second look ultimately with journalist (5)
ASKED: A long charade. Begin with the letter A from the clue. Add the abbreviation for second. Add the final letter of the word look (ultimately) Add our usual journalist, the one who edits.

24d    English low-fat cream (5)
ELITE: The abbreviation for English is followed by a word meaning low calorie which is a misspelling of the word light

It has been an honour to take over from The 2Ks. I hope I have maintained their excellent standards

Quickie Pun: miss+defying=mystifying


58 comments on “DT 28991

  1. For me, Jay continues his run of trickier puzzles with some excellent clues here requiring a little extra cogitation.

    Thanks to GW and Jay 3*/4.5*

  2. Oh dear, the gremlins are back.

    4*/4*. I found this at the tougher end of Jay’s spectrum but no less enjoyable for that in spite of a couple of iffy surfaces.

    16a was my last one in. I never immediately remember that “theory”, but the penny dropped in the end.

    My podium comprises 14a, 21a & 20d.

    Many thanks to the ever excellent Jay. Thanks too to MP for standing in as the 2Ks’ substitute and particularly for explaining the parsing of 12a which completely baffled me.

    1. Gremlins? It’s taken me ages to access this site starting late this morning. Am I alone in having had problems?
      P.S. enjoyed the puzzle though not sure 1a is a grass.

        1. I never realised it is grass until I got this year’s seed/garden catalogues and there it is.
          I don’t think it is quite so invasive when planted here but they do warn just the same.
          My sister in the UK lives right beside a huge estate (not the housing kind) owned by a foreign royal type who sublet it to someone who planted acres of said grass as a cash crop but then left. It is now a forest and incredibly tall. It was beginning to really block light to sis’ place but she finally managed to contact foreign rich chap’s representative and they have promised to clear it or at least cut it back.

    2. Hi Whenever I struggle with one of these, I always look to this posting to see what the Difficulty rating is, and hope that it gets a high score meaning others suffered as I had. This one I thought was difficult but was chest fallen when I saw it was marked as a **. Then I thought is the scale out of 3? Then I saw your posting above suggesting a 4 so I thought does that mean out of 5? If so I must be useless!

      1. Alan, the rating system is totally subjective. The first number relates to difficulty from 1* (easy) to 5* (hard) and the second number is for enjoyment from 1* (not particularly enjoyable) to 5* (very enjoyable). A 3* in both cases represents the average for the person doing the rating, so it’s quite possible that one person’s 3* rating for difficulty could mean a puzzle took twice as long as another person’s 3*.

        For me today this was a 4* for difficulty and 4* for enjoyment. In other words it took me longer than my average time for a back-pager and I enjoyed it a lot.

        Hope that helps, and I’m sure you’re not useless.

        1. Hi Dave Thanks for the clarification. Having been in my own cocoon up to now, where I couldn’t share thoughts on a puzzle with anyone else, stumbling across this website was a bit of a revelation. This gave me a benchmark to compare myself against for the first time. I’m glad that your thoughts on the difficulty of this puzzle is similar to mine. Confidence restored. Alan

      2. Hi Alan. Miffypops does not set the ratings, he leaves it to Big Dave. As for the puzzles, some days they just click and off we go. Other days we grind it out slowly. Please don’t be put off by somebody as experienced as Big Dave scoring a puzzle only two stars. He has been solving for ever and knows every trick in the book. If rabbit Dave scores it 4 for difficulty take that as a marker. Chin up.

        1. Hi I really do appreciate your response. Drives me forward to learn more. I read up a manual which a link in a previous post included, which was helpful. For instance had never realised that the definition normally is at the start or end of a clue. My approach has changed quite a bit since unearthing that gem. So hopefully I’ll be knocking these off a bit quicker in the future, I always try to finish.

      3. I know that I say this all the time but so what – how difficult a person finds a crossword is more to do with whether or not he or she is on the same sort of wave-length as the setter than anything else.

        1. Totally agree. And as we are in the middle of selling and buying our home, with all its allied frustrations and sleepless nights, I am finding it very hard to concentrate at all. But it is not at all unusual for me to find a puzzle difficult whereas others breeze through, or I find it gentle, and others say they found it tough.

      4. Alan please don’t feel useless. There are days when I sail through – very rare days! – and many, many others where I worry I don’t even get one. I do have a great man Homer Simpson ‘Doh’ moments when the penny drops.

        My method is, go through and look for all the multiple words anad put in the little linees on the grip. Go through again and realise I have put at least one or two on thee wrong clue reading an a as a d clue and vice versa. Correct all little lines. So before I even start my crossword grid looks messy.
        I used to make the mistake of assuming any single letter word is ‘a’. Soon learned my lesson there.

        Then I have a bash. Go to bed. Wake usually around 3, insomnia! and somehow my brain has managed to parse at least a couple more . Then eventually back off to sleep until morning, send LSH off to work and settle with cup of tea and most of the time I eventually get there, but by no means always. Even when I do I come here to make sure I was on the right track. And for the cartoons and cats and sound clips :)

        1. Haha Carolyn! I lamely compile the blasted things and Lady LbR regularly berates me for getting up in the middle of the night because I’ve just had an idea. Insomnia indeed.

          I also get a string of groans when she hears the printer cranking up on a Saturday afternoon – she knows what’s coming.

          However, the Lady is a delight and a very blunt test solver. I suppose that’s love.

      5. Take no notice of the difficulty rating, just enjoy the puzzles whatever your ability. Then join in and tell us how you got on and whether you liked it…

        1. I am really flattered that a number of you have responded to my cry of despair at my ability to wrestle with the puzzles. It shows that there is a real community out there who seem to have as much interest vested in the puzzles that I do. I’ll be a regular contributor in the future. I always try to complete every day, one major reason being that I know it’s essential to keep our brains active when we become older, I work with a charity who look after people living with dementia, and as a consequence know this very well. So thanks once again.

  3. A very enjoyable mid-weeker with a good start by going up the downs and completed at a gallop – **/****.

    17d was filled in so I easily got the theory part of 16a, the different part eluded me or a short while.

    Candidates for favourite – 9a, 21a, and 25a – and the winner is 21a.

    Thanks to Jay and GMoLI for another fine blog.

  4. Average time for a Jay – no special favourites, just good all round entertainment

    Thanks to him and to the Man with a Different Name Every Time He Turns Up

    1. Ditto. **/**** for me last night.

      The man of many names has such a distinct style I recognised him after reading his first two hints this morning, although I didn’t recognise which part of Warwickshire is shown in the opening photo.

      Thanks to he and to Jay.

    2. I got into all sorts of trouble with this. At least a 3*….

      Lots of correct bung-ins but got nowhere understanding half of them till Mp provided me with the correct parsing- thanks to him!

      I had to look up the map measure and tried ‘mastery’ for the Madonna skill, before the checkers eventually drew the answer out. The anointing fluid I got, but more because the bung rang a bell, rather than because I knew it off the cuff.

      O for ‘over’ I didn’t know and it’s about 50 years too late for the ultra modern definition.

      Otherwise, congratulations to Jay and to those of you who had it down as 2*.

  5. Let’s hope the Gremlins have been taken outside and dealt with.

    This should have been a ‘start with the down clues’ day for me, with only one across clue filled in on the first pass. However, the down clues proved much more friendly and I had the grid completed in *** time. In the end it was only 5a that I needed the hints to parse, so thanks to GW and Jay.

  6. I started slowly but speeded up after I tuned in.
    Last in was 16a and took a while to parse until the ism synonym was found.
    7d is also an anagram of steamship so there’s a good clue in the making for a compiler !
    Liked the surface of 1a and18a, my favourite was 6d.
    Going for **/**** ,really enjoyed the solve-thanks all.

  7. Needed the blog to explain several of my answers e.g. 16a and 5d. I saw the problem in 9a but not the promise in 20d.

  8. A bit of a struggle – I was held up on 12am’s and as I had no idea what Asterix was (is it a cartoon? I don’t get out much) I needed your help, for which many thanks as I can now go and finish the ironing.

  9. Very nice puzzle. A bit of a slow start but finished at speed once I had a few checkers. Top spot to 16a and special mentions to 14a and 20d.

  10. Another Wednesday, another cracker from Jay.
    I managed to finish it, all be it with two or three bung ins. I’ll try to parse them later and if I can’t I’ll have to look at Wyllies hints… ahem.
    My only slight quibble, and it’s very slight would be 23a…I’ve not heard that used for ultra modern in about 40 years. LOI was 21a, I needed all the checkers and to go through the alphabet before the penny dropped.
    Podium places in a strong field go to 8 and 18d with top spot the brilliant 14a. …3*/4.5*
    Many thanks to Jay and to Grizzypops

  11. Good midweek crossword **/****. LOI was 16a. COD’s were 14a & 16a. Thanks to all

  12. I hope those blasted gremlins have packed their bags and gone.
    The usual very good crossword from Jay which I didn’t find too tricky – I often get stuck on my last few answers on Wednesdays.
    16a was my last one in and I didn’t get that until 18d gave up fighting with me.
    I wondered briefly if we were being taken up the garden path with 7d – I’ve been ‘had’ before with stairs on boats.
    Clues that I particularly liked today included 14 and 25a and 18d. My favourite was 20d.
    With thanks to Jay and to MP in disguise – where on earth do you get your aliases from – I’ve been trying to make today’s an anagram!

  13. Later than usual today but worth the wait as this was Jay at his fairly demanding best. Top quality clues throughout, which makes it difficult to pick a favourite, but 21a gets my nod.

    Thanks to the solitary bird and MP.

  14. Enjoyed today.

    GW – many thanks…you explained where I got stuck: 12, 16 & 21a, as well as explaining a couple of other bung-ins I had but couldn’t see the “why”.

    Learning everyday:)…thanks to you and setter

  15. Of course..Asterix! It was a bung in so thank you for explaining that one.
    16 a was last one in and took ages..a three cup of tea clue.
    Favourite today was 14 a ,I love that word .Thank you to all for a really entertaining puzzle.

  16. The gremlins were lurking from 11am until 2 pm today. Nasty little pests! I found a lot to enjoy in this puzzle by Jay, as is usually the case, so thanks to him. There were a few challenging ones. I liked 5a, 9a, 14a and 6d. Thanky you to WG/MP for the hints.

  17. Well I got there but it was wonderfully tough, so real sense of achievement when the final one went in. I had 9a right but could not see why, thank you so much for the explanation, what a clever clue!
    Thanks to everyone.

  18. Another lovely crossword from Jay! Tricky but ‘doable’ with a tad of cogitation. 21a was my last entry and also top clue.
    Thanks to Jay, and to MP for the review.

  19. Another great Wednesday puzzle with plenty of ticks awarded along the way.

    Final decision here put 18d in gold position with 14&21a taking silver and bronze.

    Thanks to Jay and to MP for stepping in as holiday relief.

  20. Slow start this morning but gathered pace as the puzzle opened up .
    Joint favourites 12A & 21A .
    Could not access the site earlier so will read all the comments later . Hopefully , everyone will agree it is of high quality .
    Thanks to everyone .

  21. Thought I was going to spin through the whole puzzle until got stuck on 16a. and had a couple others as well. The old trick of going away for some while and then coming back did the job. Most enjoyable and a good stretch. Many thanks to all.

  22. I was dead on wavelength again today. Jay’s puzzles are so consistently good.
    I needed Grizz’s help to unravel 9a and 16a, both bung ins.
    There was so much good stuff here, but I think 18d was fave with 21a runner up; “looker” indeed.
    Thanks to Jay and to Grizz for his hints and tips. According to my cousin, we have a distant cousin who played rugby for NZ and came to UK at some point where she saw him play. Many moons ago I believe.

    1. I have seen the New Zealand Rugby team four times Merusa but I have never seen them win. I wonder if I watched your distant relative play?

      1. I doubt it. I think it must have been 50 or so years ago. I think his name was Nurse, my family tree is littered with Nurses! I have the write up somewhere, I should look it up if I had the first idea where to look.

      2. His name was George Fletcher Hart and he played in UK in 1935. My cousin says her mother went to the game but she didn’t remember much about it, only barely remembering his visit to their house.

  23. **? More like **** for me. Must be a wavelength thing. I got there in the end but needed the blog to explain the parsing of a few answers. Thanks to GW and Jay.

  24. Pity about those pesky bugs. Slow off the mark but once underway all went smoothly and I surprised myself by making the grade. 12a was a bung-in so appreciated parsing help to make sense of it. Had forgotten 17d track. Fav was 18d. Thank you Jay and aka MP.

  25. An.excellent crossword from Jay and an equally excellent review as one would expect on a Wednesday.
    Thanks to all concerned.

  26. I found this slightly easier than average for Jay. UnusualIy seemed to “tune in” quickly & the top half, except for 1a, dropped in. Bottom half more of a struggle & needed hints to parse 16a.
    1a last one in &, as I parsed it without help from MP my COTD was 12a, although it is off my diet list.
    Thanks to Jay & MP for brightening up a day where the “heavy showers” just coincided with dog walking times.

  27. Goodness, that was tricky. Needed help completing 21a and 24d and much more help understanding answers. Thank you GW for that. I just wasn’t on the right wavelength today.
    Favourite was 18d.

  28. Thought this was quite tricky – came here fairly early on but once I had got 1A most of the rest fell in without needing the hints. Some nice clues. A lurker, so as requested posted.

  29. I thought that was quite tricky, pushing towards **** territory. Good, but tricky. :-)

  30. One plus for being 5 hours behind the UK, the gremlins had been sorted by our breakfast time. Lovely puzzle from Jay, and thank you to Miffypops for the hints. Certainly helped to take my mind off our moving woes.

  31. 5d Far from only being seen in crosswordland a stipend is the term used for a vicar’s salary in the Anglican Church. As the Queen is the supreme governor of the church in England one could argue that the clergy are employed by the crown hence their salary is a crown allowance. I hope this puts another slant on solving the clue.

  32. I had a bit of a slow start to this, so not much filled in before I had to dash off to choir. I did find it a bit of a mixed bag with some easy clues and some quite tricky. I’ve just managed to finish it, but my eyelids are dropping. My favourite clue was 28d, which I bunged in and then had to think about. Many thanks to Jay and to Miffypops.

  33. Took me a while to get started but got there in the end. Thanks Grizz for your further insight. Glad there’s life after rugby solving cryptic crosswords😜

  34. This was a very good puzzle, about medium difficulty but with mostly excellent clues providing an enjoyable solve. I’ve ticked 9a, 16a, 23a, 6d and 20d of a great bunch and I’ll go for 16a as my favourite. 2.5* / 3.5*

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