DT 28996 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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DT 28996

Daily Telegraph Cryptic No 28996

Hints and tips by Mr K

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BD Rating  -  Difficulty ** Enjoyment ****


Hello, everyone, and welcome to another Tuesday back-page blog.  I liked this puzzle.  The clues all have smooth surfaces, the wordplay is precise, the answers aren't obscure, no general knowledge is required in the solve, and there are quite a few smiles along the way.  What more could one ask for on a Tuesday?  Politics gets a mention in several clues.  I wonder if that's a coincidence?

In last week's blogs there were a few comments about solving times and whether using aids is cheating.  New readers curious about how their solving experience compares with that of other site visitors might be interested in my 2017 survey on the use of aids, solving times, and personal ratings for one particular back-page puzzle.  I thought that the data was surprising.

In the hints below most indicators are italicized and definitions are underlined.  Clicking on the ANSWER 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    Bang on about revolutionary cleric (8)
ACCURATE:  The reversal (revolutionary) of the two-letter Latin abbreviation for about is followed by an assistant clergyman

5a    Got hold of hot stuff and used foil? (6)
FENCED:  A double definition.  The stuff is hot because it's stolen and the foil is long and pointy

10a   Scratchier cat is unfortunately making marks (15)
CHARACTERISTICS:  An anagram (unfortunately) of SCRATCHIER CAT IS

11a   What if model is after drink? (7)
SUPPOSE:  Place a verb synonym of model after another word for drink

12a   Returning fish for a kipper? (7)
SLEEPER:  Follow the reversal (returning) of some long fish (plural) with a preposition meaning "for a"

13a   Very impertinent language after unknown addition to a meal (3,5)
SOY SAUCE:  Fuse together a short synonym of very and a usual mathematical unknown with some impertinent language coming after it

15a   Male in chains for ages (5)
TIMES:  The abbreviation for male is inserted in chains or binds

18a   Out of bed and ready to be annoyed (5)
UPSET:  Stick together a short word for "out of bed" and ready or prepared

20a   Getting  charming (8)
FETCHING:  A double definition, the first a verb and the second an adjective

23a   Play it cool at first, changing routine (7)
TYPICAL:  An anagram (changing) of PLAY IT and the first letter of Cool (cool at first)

25a   Partly insincere, PM occasionally repelled host (7)
COMPERE:  The answer is hiding in (partly…) the reversal (repelled) of the rest of the clue

26a   Reforms save enterprise -- about time, MPs! (15)
REPRESENTATIVES:  An anagram (reforms) of SAVE ENTERPRISE containing (about) the physics symbol for time

27a   Drop  news story (6)
SPLASH:  A double definition.  A drop of liquid and a news story that might be seen on the front page

28a   One enters her tent drunk -- this could be unlucky (8)
THIRTEEN:  The Roman numeral for one is inserted in (enters) an anagram (drunk) of HER TENT



1d    Entrée of fancy cheeses on a regular basis (6)
ACCESS:  Alternate letters (… on a regular basis) of FANCY CHEESES

2d    Defends a politician wearing tight chinos (9)
CHAMPIONS:  A from the clue and the usual abbreviated politician are both contained by (wearing) an anagram (tight, here meaning drunk) of CHINOS

3d    Concerned with a relation's explanations (7)
REASONS:  Concatenate the usual short word for concerned with, A from the clue, and a young male relative with his 'S (without the apostrophe)

4d    Name bird by pasture with no tail (5)
TITLE:  A small bird followed by all but the last letter (… with no tail) of a pasture or meadow

6d    Each short afternoon nap could be most amenable (7)
EASIEST:  Join together the abbreviation for each and all but the last letter (short) of an afternoon nap

7d    Tweet from Republican enthralled by golf shot (5)
CHIRP:  The single letter for Republican is inserted in a type of golf shot.  Click here if you need a list of golf shots

8d    Is tense in formal clothing, producing suffering (8)
DISTRESS:  IS from the clue and the abbreviation for tense are inserted in some formal or ceremonial clothing

9d    View for spectators half concealed (8)
PROSPECT:  Cement together a synonym of for and one half of SPECTATORS (spectators half concealed

14d   Do end flu upset that's developed (8)
UNFOLDED:  An anagram (upset) of DO END FLU

16d   Engineer getting work on island? On the contrary (9)
MANOEUVRE:  On the contrary instructs us to invert "work on island" into "island on work".  So, the answer is given by a usual island preceding (on, in a down clue) the body of work of an artist, writer, etc.

17d   University about to infiltrate sects' lifestyles (8)
CULTURES:  The single letter for university and a usual word for about or concerning  inserted in (to infiltrate) some religious or quasi-religious sects

19d   Notices bloodsucking mites eating alien (7)
TICKETS:  Some bloodsucking mites containing (eating) the usual cinematic alien

21d   Animal meat knight cut from tail (7)
HAMSTER:  Meat from a pig is followed by the tail of a sporting dog, or the tail end of a boat, with the chess abbreviation for knight deleted (knight cut from tail)

22d   What teacher provides without working? (6)
LESSON:  Join together a synonym of without and working or operating 

24d   Student's flipping cheek at university (5)
PUPIL:  Combine some cheek or insolence and an Oxbridge word for "at University".  Find the answer as the reversal (flipping) of that lot

25d   Understand cleric at church? To an extent (5)
CATCH:  We finish with a lurker.  The answer is hidden as part of (… to an extent) the rest of the clue


Thanks to today’s setter for a fun solve.  I ticked a long list of clues: 12a, 26a, 28a, 1d, 2d, 7d, 16d, 21d, 22d, and the Quickie Pun.  This puzzle reminded me of some from the early stages of my blogging career, back when Mister Ron was a regular Tuesday setter.  The impeccable cluemanship, gentle humour at the expense of politicians, lack of obscurities, and a cat clue (plus Jane's favourite bird, although that may be a coincidence) have me wondering if this is the work of Samuel?  Perhaps our setter will make an appearance below to let us know if that guess is correct.


The Quick Crossword pun:  INK + HUM + TACKS = INCOME TAX

74 comments on “DT 28996

  1. 2*/3.5*. I found this light but a lot of fun with nice cluing and generally smooth surfaces throughout. 28a was my favourite with 5a in second place.

    Many thanks to the setter (X-Type?) and to Mr K.

  2. I really enjoyed this excellently compiled puzzle. It may have been relatively straightforward but it was an absolute joy from start to finish. 5a gave the rekrul at 25a a good run for the money as favourite.

    Thanks to both the setter and Mr K.

        1. I realised just as I clicked “post comment.” I don’t like it but thank you anyway.

      1. In the survey, some people disliked R&W … “rekrul” and “lurker” will, hopefully, never appear again in this blog.

        1. Have to agree, Stan. Rekrul is a rather ugly fabrication – almost as bad as Backstop.

          Since the word fills the fodder in reverse, how about ‘plug’ reversed – gulp?

          I’ve already got me nanny and me titfer…

        2. I think ‘lurker’ is OK – it describes the kind of clue it is perfectly – it’s something that gets up and bites you when you’re not looking – I can’t bear the reversal and don’t know who dreamt that one up.
          R&W is just plain patronising and, to me at least, smacks of, ‘Look how clever I am’.

  3. This was a nice puzzle, not too difficult, with good clues giving a pleasant solve. 20a: Hands up everyone one who wrongly bunged in BECOMING. Well, it does fit the clue but not the checkers. I’ve ticked 28a, 21d but have no particular favourite. 2* / 3*

    1. Me. I put becoming in on the first pass of the across clues with no checkers. On reading through the down clues i changed it when the anagram fodder at 14d did not include the letter B. I also briefly put HOT as the first word for 13ac but changed it quickly after reading the clue for the second time. I got the answer to 27ac as I read the clue but held off entering it until I got the checkers in. The first letter of 27ac had to be an S because of the plurals in 17d.

    2. Me too. No hesitation at all in putting becoming at 20a.soon realised my mistake!t

  4. That was much harder than yesterday, not getting to grips at all with the Tuesday setter. Needed a hint to keep going. Poor effort today.
    Thanks all.

  5. This was a pleasurably challenging puzzle after yesterday’s struggle. The clues were well designed, particular favourites being 1a, 10a, 13a and 22d. Thanks to Mr K for both the hints and the superb cat pictures and also to the setter.

  6. Pleasant enough but, for me, a bit ho-hum, completed at a gallop – **/**.

    No obvious favourite, but 16d did raise a smile.

    Thanks to the setter and Mr K.

  7. A very pleasant puzzle. The anagrams all went in quickly and soon there were more lights filled than unfilled. Thanks to the setter and thanks to Mr Kitty for the review. Our very own Silvanus has set today’s Toughie. Give it a go. His are usually fun and there will be help from 2pm ish over on the dark side.

    1. Cats are more intellectual than dogs and so are most appropriate in this context.
      My cat sits next to me and gives me a head-butt when she has solved a clue.

      1. Welcome from me too, Wiilson.

        Very amused by your cat anecdote. She must be frustrated that she can’t type the answer into the grid for you.

        1. Nooooo. If Cats could talk they wouldn’t. If cats could type answers in for us they wouldn’t.

    2. I like dogs and cats and they both have their good points and their bad ones – in general I probably prefer dogs, as long as they’re the right sort of dog – can’t be ***** with little yappy things!
      I think I’ll call this a challenge and the next time I do the hints I’ll take every opportunity to include a doggy pic!

      1. You won’t hear any objections from me! I love all animals, I have a dog and six cats, and I’d have more if I could.

    3. I do feature dogs from time to time, and I will make an effort to include more in the future.

      But it is a fact of life on the internet that for the answer to almost any crossword clue, a Google image/video search on “answer cat funny” will find many more illustration possibilities than does the canine equivalent.

  8. For me this was an ok puzzle finished ok but with no oomph , perhaps I am reflecting the gloomy wet weather .
    Thanks to everyone .

  9. This has to be a record for me, I don’t normally start doing crosswords this early let alone finishing them. It must be as indication of what a dismal day it is. Lovely crossword with lots to like. Favourite? 16d. Thanks to the setter and Mr. K for hosting the blog.

  10. I thought this was a cracker, not easy (well for me anyway) but like Mr K said no obscurities.
    I’d never come across “tight” as an anagram indicator before (2d) but in the context of the clue what else could it be and I shamefully bunged in 25d without spotting the lurker.
    In the light of present events I’m not sure if MP’S could accurately be described as 25a of the people but that’s a whole new topic.
    Many thanks to the setter and to Mr K for an excellent puzzle and review.

      1. I was actually going to qualify my comment thus (that’s Members of Parliament not Miffy Pops!)

    1. Thanks, Stephen.

      Since other readers may also be meeting it for the first time, I’ve expanded the hint for 2d to explain that as an anagram indicator “tight” means drunk.

      1. Ah, that makes more sense now, thanks. I was wondering earlier why the setter hadn’t used “loose” instead of tight chinos, a more appropriate indicator.

        1. Good question, MP, but no, it doesn’t. Every anagram indicator is a synonym indicating rearrangement, instability, etc. The setter usually tries to disguise what they are doing by choosing an indicator that has several possible interpretations. Tight, drunk, and high, for example, all fall into that category.

          In 2d, “close-fitting’ would be an example of an indirect anagram indicator. To solve the clue, the solver would have to first identify tight as the required synonym of close-fitting, and then go on to interpret tight in the sense of being intoxicated. Cryptic clueing conventions do not allow that sort of construction because it is unfair to the solver.

  11. A pleasant Tuesday solve, and as Mr K intimates ,nothing to complain about , a **/*** for me .Thanks for the usual feline antics !
    Liked the surface of 5a and 17d.
    Our Attorney General has just sunk Theresa-what now?

  12. I thought this was really tricky but now I can’t see why – because I found it so difficult I’m going to guess it was set by proXimal.
    Lots of good clues but if it was possible to get the wrong end of the stick I did – right down to missing anagram indicators.
    I liked 27a and 2d (for the mental picture). My favourite was 11a – I spend half my life “what-iffing”.
    Thanks to the setter, whoever he or she may be, and to Mr K.
    A thoroughly miserable day – pouring with rain, windy and 5C – stuff to do then the Toughie.

  13. Gave myself a slight problem by taking the definition of 1a to be the first three, rather than two, words of the clue. Remember it as something my Mum used to do a lot of during my teenage years – usually concerning the length of my skirts and the amount of make-up on my face!

    Enjoyable solve with the smiles going to the politician wearing tight chinos and the dropped news story.

    Thanks to our setter and to Mr K for the blog. The sofa in the pic at 10a brought back memories of a lot of despairing moments!

  14. I’m with Mr K in finding this very enjoyable and suspect CL may well be today’s setter.

    The screenshot @7d made oi larf. Thanks all round.

  15. I am not a regular blogger, but I thought that puzzle was so good that I should take the trouble to congratulate the setter.

    Wonderful surface reads throughout with ticks and smiles all over the place.

    First class and great fun!

    Thanks also to Mr K.

  16. Slow start then smooth run to the finish. 5a was stupidly unparsed by me. Not sure about 19d (except vis-à-vis parking I suppose). Joint Favs 1a and 16d. Thank you Mysteron and MrK.

  17. Thanks to the setter and to Mr Kitty for the review and hints. A very good quality puzzle, nice surfaces, some humour, and a few to make you think. I was beaten by 16d, thought of “Man” for the island, but could only think of “on” for work, couldn’t spell the answer either! Favourite was 12a. Was 3*/4* for me.

  18. Loved it, you got the stars exactly right, Mr. K. North went in much faster than south, the opposite of yesterday.
    There was too much choice for fave, so I’m choosing 7d, I’ll leave you to guess why! As per LBR, wotta larf.
    Thanks to whomsoever gave us this gem, and to Mr. K for the pics, love the cats.

  19. A relatively straightforward challenge with some nice clues. No real favourite though.
    Thanks to the setter, and to Mr K for the review and pics.

  20. Enjoyable and pretty straightforward **/*** 😃 Favourites 7 & 16 down 🤗 Thanks to Mr K and to the Setter

  21. **/***. Enjoyable solve with a few smiles along the way. Thanks to the setter and Mr K.

  22. The crossword and it’s blog decode today were nicely matched – both light, fun and worthy. Interesting that ‘favourtited’ clues today are mainly diverse. Mine was probably 9d though I could probably be talked out of it.
    Particularly enjoyed all the feline antics on display though not really a cat fan. They’re like politicians – can’t trust em and just in it for themselves.
    Weather warming up a bit here in LA thankfully.

    1. ‘Favourited’ takes my disapproval of multiple ‘favourites’ to a new level . . . :negative:
      I can see I’m going to have to start waving the ‘favourites’ stick again – I had more or less given up!

      1. Awful isn’t it. Wave away with that stick. The only reason I used it is because it felt so naughty.

        1. The Oxford Dictionary of English has an entry for favourite as a verb, giving as an example you can see who else favourited the same pictures.

          1. Thank you. I had a feeling it was okay – ugly as sin though.
            I suspect our friends across the pond had a hand in it.

            1. I’m now one of those friends across the pond. Having invented web browser favorites, I suppose we might have come up with favorited (although not favourited).

              But perhaps not. We often get blamed for “medalled”, when Lord Byron is the first writer known to have used medal as a verb.

    2. Hi, HP. Good analogy, although unlike most politicians, cats are quite honest about being in it for themselves.

      Thanks for the kind words here and up above. I appreciate them.

        1. HP – that would be lol, smile or grin inside colons, but therein lies a connotation with which I am not entirely comfortable. :smile:

  23. The weather got the better of us today so late on parade, an excellent puzzle.
    On first pass I thought stinker coming up but no turned into a cracker.
    Many thanks to Mr K and setter.

  24. With reference to comment 13 above re Brexit! Urge you to Google ‘Australian TV speaks truth on Brexit’. More sense than all our gormless overpaid MPs put together. Have a look!

    Thanks for today’s puzzle, some good clues

    1. I don’t mind in the slightest but one of the very few things that are verboten on this blog is politics – just warning you. :smile:

      1. Fair comment I suppose but no more political than 13 above. It’s a jolly good watch though. Have a look.

      2. BD will doubtless tell me off, but ‘United Kingdom going through exercise, invoking this from all sides’ (4) seems appropriate.

        Verboten – great word.

            1. Original too – that answer hasn’t been used in any Telegraph or Guardian puzzles published in the last 17 years.

  25. That felt a little tricky while solving, and needed every ounce of concentration. That said I finished in about ** time, so who can tell. Supposing the U in the checked letters in 17d was the same as the one in the wordplay tripped me up for a long time, as did the wordplay as a whole for 13ac. All in all an interesting, enjoyable offering that kept me on my toes.

  26. And I thought our cats were making a good job of wrecking our sofa and chairs … having seen the one at 10a they clearly need to try harder. Loved the crossoword – started late and only finished this morning. Thanks to the setter and to Mr K for the hints (and the cats).

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