DT 29128 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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DT 29128

Daily Telegraph Cryptic No 29128

Hints and tips by Mr K

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


Hello, everyone.  I felt that the difficulty level and enjoyment in today's excellent puzzle were both above the Tuesday average.  I look forward to hearing what everyone else thought of it.

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    Breakwater protecting solitary adventurer (7)
PIONEER:  A breakwater or promenade containing (protecting) solitary or single

5a    Attack port, drinking inappropriate amount? (3,4)
RIP INTO:  The short name of a usual South American port containing (drinking) a measure of drink appropriate for beer but probably not for port

9a    Weapon of unknown gauge mentioned (9)
EXCALIBUR:  Homophones (mentioned) of a usual mathematical unknown and of the gauge of a rifle bore, perhaps.  The weapon is mythical

10a   Father in small island discovers demon (5)
AFRIT:  The abbreviation for a religious father inserted in a British word for a small island in a river.  I had to reverse engineer the island from the demon.  He's well-known in crosswordland as the pseudonym of Alistair Ferguson RitchieHe and Ximenes laid down many of the principles and conventions used in modern cryptic crosswords


11a   Skirt or a pair worn? (5)
APRON:  Concatenate A from the clue, the abbreviation for pair, and a synonym of worn (as in "with gloves worn").  Look here if you are troubled by the definition

12a   Moving over winter terrain is killing they say (9)
SLEIGHING:  A homophone (they say) of a synonym of killing

13a   Making mistake to load the German pistol (9)
DERRINGER:  "making mistake" inserted in (to load) a German definite grammatical article

16a   Clergyman denied start -- it's a crime! (5)
ARSON:  A parish priest with his first letter deleted (denied start)

17a   Rancour involving second-class book (5)
BIBLE:  Rancour or bitterness containing (involving) the letter associated with second-class

18a   Went through stop light rounding car on late trip? (9)
REHEARSED:  The colour associated with a stop light containing (rounding) the vehicle that transports someone who is late (as in dead)

20a   Staff put out over EU scheme (9)
MANOEUVRE:  A synonym of staff with an anagram (put out) of OVER EU

23a   Small role reversed for mouse-catchers? (5)
TRAPS:  The clothing abbreviation for small and a role in a play or film are joined and then reversed

25a   Smooth son in clubs (5)
IRONS:  Smooth creased clothes, perhaps, followed by the genealogical abbreviation for son

26a   Poe dreads corrupt bandit (9)
DESPERADO:  An anagram (corrupt) of POE DREADS

27a   Number that could make noise in exam (7)
ORDINAL:  A noise or racket inserted in an exam that's not written

28a   Show couple embracing in ecstasy (7)
MATINEE:  Couple or join containing (embracing) IN from the clue, with the result followed by the single letter for the drug ecstasy



1d    Bipedal -- that's unusual for horse! (7)
PIEBALD:  An anagram (… that's unusual) of BIPEDAL

2d    Man having old wound (5)
OSCAR:  The abbreviation for old with wound or mark

3d    Rose for example worker planted in row (9)
EGLANTINE:  The usual worker insect is inserted in (planted in) a row or column, and the result placed after the Latin abbreviation for "for example"

4d    Puzzle about public transport (5)
REBUS:  Stick together the usual short word for about or concerning and a common form of public transport

5d    Element thin on ground (4,5)
RARE EARTH:  Thin or sparse is followed by (on, in a down clue) a synonym of ground.  The answer is a type of chemical element, not a specific one

6d    Police initially called to crash (5)
PRANG:  Combine the first letter (… initially) of Police and called on the telephone

7d    Drug agent is above suspicion in plant (9)
NARCISSUS:  Link together an informal word for a drug agent, IS from the clue, and an informal contraction of suspicion

8d    Figure needs energy in broken-down Acton (7)
OCTAGON:  Energy or drive is inserted in an anagram (broken-down) of ACTON

14d   Bird on top in falconry is forest legend (5,4)
ROBIN HOOD:  A red-breasted bird is followed by (on, in a down clue) a head covering for a hawk used in falconry

15d   Writer shows insane drive in ambition (4,5)
GORE VIDAL:  An anagram (insane) of DRIVE inserted in an ambition or aim gives an American writer who died in 2012

16d   Cunning people in fitting rooms (9)
APARTMENT:  Cunning or craftiness is joined to a synonym of people, and the result inserted in fitting or relevant

17d   Animated deer no youngster (7)
BAMBINO:  Follow Walt Disney's animated deer with NO from the clue

19d   Bare Romeo amongst writhing bodies (7)
DISROBE:  The letter represented by Romeo in the NATO phonetic alphabet is inserted in (amongst) an anagram (writhing) of BODIES

21d   Ascetic last to leave for German city (5)
ESSEN:  Another clue where I had to do some reverse engineering.  A member of an ascetic sect that flourished in ancient Palestine loses his last letter (last to leave

22d   Feel glum about eating second course (5)
EPSOM:  The reversal (… about) of feel glum or sulk containing (eating) the single letter for second

24d   Stove popular once more? (5)
AGAIN:  Glue together a brand of large iron stove and the usual short word for popular 


Thanks to today’s setter for a fun solve.  My list of top clues today included 11a, 18a, 20a, 28a, 16d, 19d, and 22d, along with the Quickie pun.  Which clues did you like best?


The Quick Crossword pun:  SIN + CAWS + WHIM = SINK OR SWIM

104 comments on “DT 29128

  1. Held up in the bottom right corner and by the spelling of 20a . Suprised by the difficulty rating. Perhaps I’m just improving, thanks to this blog. 12a favourite. Ta to all.

    1. Hi, Ape. Going by the comments below, I think my difficulty rating was about right.

      So you must be improving :)

  2. Thanks Mr K and Setter!

    Trying to help your empirical study: I think I am mid/low level and found this to be a **.

    Personally I think the biggest variable for ‘difficulty’ comes from your ability to sync with the Setter. Not sure how you can measure this.

    Hope this helps

    1. Thanks for that, TQ. I think you’re right. Many of us usually find some setters more straightforward than others.

  3. Must have been on my wavelength – the only bung in was 21d, and a bit of puzzling to get10a. Enjoyed this immensely ,7d and 9a were my favourites.
    Thanks to setter and Mr K

  4. For me, slightly tricky but very doable. Plenty of thought needed but once on the wavelength it went in very smoothly. 18a was my favourite from many top clues, and overall this was immensely enjoyable and good fun to complete.

    Thanks to both Misters involved.

  5. Definitely trickier than yesterday. I hadn’t heard of 10a, and I’d forgotten the pistol in 13a. I thought that the definition in 25a was “smooth”, and tried to fit the son into various clubs. I liked 16a, but now have the word parson or should I say “parson’s nose” going round in my head. I wonder where that came from. I’ll need to google it. Many thanks setter and Mr Kitty.

  6. 3*/4*. I found this very enjoyable and not too difficult apart from the crossing 28a & 22d which were my last two in and added considerably to my solving time.
    When the penny finally dropped with 28a that edged out 18a as my favourite.
    Isn’t the “drugs agent” in 7d solely an American abbreviation?
    Many thanks to Mr R & Mr K.

    1. P.S. to Mr K. The survey allows me to enter a number for the solving time for today’s puzzle but it will not accept a number for my maximum 1* time so I cannot submit my answers.

          1. Blimey, how tough was that !! An all-dayer for me, just put in 22d – wasn’t thinking of that kind of course !

            Some sense of achievement today,
            ****/***. Thanks to all.

      1. Yep, same here ‘Please enter a number within range’ – also it won’t accept ‘none’ as the ‘use of aids’ answer

          1. Bizarrely, it accepts 0 (minutes) but not 10
            Oh well, Mr K will get the gist I’m sure

      2. Sorry about that, RD et al. I think I’ve fixed it, but since the issue prevented many early readers from submitting their responses I’ve removed the survey link from the intro and I’ll try it again next week.

    1. Hi, Jenny. Thanks for sharing your experience with the puzzle. Despite what some of the early commenters are saying, I think this puzzle was considerably more difficult than what we usually get on a Tuesday.

  7. I certainly would agree with a **** rating today. I didn’t know the demon in 10a, the writer in 15d or the Ascetic in 21d, but all three got bunged in correctly.

    COTD has to be 18a, quite brilliant in my view.

    Many thanks to all.

  8. Very enjoyable. 2* time for me today. Had to check 10a in the dictionary. Apart from that, all went in quite smoothly. Some excellent clues amongst them: 5a, 12a, 18a, 28a, 17d and 22d.

  9. I found this 80% very straightforward and 20% very tricky. I needed the hint for 10a and couldn’t quite see where “inappropriate” came in 5a. Lot’s of other clues to like though including the homophone and part homophone 12 and 11a and the amusing 16a.
    For the second day running the “when in doubt look for a lurker” rule has been redundant so hope Jay gives us one tomorrow!
    Thought we may have got a musical clip of Rick 13a or even better 26a but no complaints Mr K, another excellent and imformative blog. Thanks to the setter too.

    1. As Mr Kitty stated in the review, the measurement in 5a would be an inappropriate amount for a drink the likes of port. More suited to ale or cider. Though some people may try and give it a good go. I like a nice port with a bit of stilton, but it doesn’t take much of the stuff to give me a terrible headache.

      1. Florence, if you look at my comment re 5a it says I “couldn’t” quite see, not that I “cant” quite see. Obvviously after reading the hint I can see what it means but thanks for your imformation on your port drinking preferences.

  10. I enjoyed this puzzle very much but would only give it 2 stars for difficulty.I think as others have said, sometimes you just click on the setters wavelength. I checked 10a on google as it was a new word for me. COTD 12a,18a 20a. Many thanks to all.

  11. Probably a little more challenging than is usual for a Tuesday with some head scratching in the SE, finished at a fast canter – 2.5*/3*.
    Candidates for favourite – 9a, 12a, and 22d – and the winner is 22d.
    Thanks to the setter and Mr K.
    Same for me with the survey problem.

  12. Slightly more challenging than yesterday but none the worse for that. Enjoyable work-out with South going in first then North soon succumbed. Never heard of 7d drug agent or 10a demon. Like simple surface of 24d but Fav was 9a. Thank you Mysteron and MrK.

  13. Hi, just wanted to say thanks to all the lovely people who take the time to write hints. I’ve been referring to this forum to help improve as a solver for years but never posted.

    1. Welcome to the blog, Whiskeyjack. Now that you’ve de-lurked I hope we’ll hear from you more often!

    2. Welcome from me too, and thanks for your thanks. As Gazza says, we hope that you’ll keep commenting.

  14. A ***/**** for me today, spelt 20 a with er at the end which made the SE corner difficult until I checked the spelling.
    Last in was 28a which was my favourite.
    Should 16d have said room in the clue- does the s not make the definition plural?
    Anyway cracking puzzle,
    Day off today so did the toughie, very ‘doable’-waiting for the blog to see what the ratings are!

  15. Appreciation grew with progress . The across clues did not sparkle at first but the down clues produced enough checks for steady progress . The 22D & 28A combo were last in with 17D my COTD .

    Could not submit the survey .

    Thanks to all

  16. Very tricky bottom half which def pushed it into the **** for difficulty. Learnt 3 new words today in 3d, 4d and 10a (is this Giovanni in disguise?). Thought too many clues were weak and dislike setters who use parts of words as in 7d, strikes a bit of desperation to finish a puzzle.
    Did like 18a which was a very clever clue.
    All in all not too bad.
    Thx for the hints in explaining 28a and 16d.
    PS I thought the small island in 10a was spelt Eyot as in Chiswick Eyot but the BRB does give Ait as an alternative spelling.

    1. On your wavelength Brian. Agree with your rating and don’t think the definition in 16d works at all

      1. I know it reads a little oddly, but an apartment is some self-contained rooms – in my case a kitchenette/sitting room (my desk), a bathroom and a bedroom

      2. Hello, LJ. Chambers defines rooms as A set of rooms in a house, etc rented as a separate unit, so I think the setter is on solid ground.

        I was expecting complaints about the answer being an Americanism, but it looks like the word has now been absorbed into British English.

      1. Hello, Mike. As an American, I don’t have a problem with Americanisms, and they do provide some interesting slang. However, they should be indicated in the clue, so in my view “American drug agent….” or even “Short American drug agent….” (to indicate the contraction) would have been better.

    2. Hi Brian, went for a rare visit darn sarf to Kew Gardens last Friday which is just up river from Chiswick and the famous EYOT, and was surprised to find the Brentford AIT, and a pub on the bridge called “one over the ait”. Strange having the two spellings within sight of one another. You live and learn.

  17. A nice puzzle, solved on my usual Tuesday bus journey. I found it slightly above average for a back-pager with mostly fine clues providing an enjoyable solve. Favs of a decent bunch: 13a, 28a, 15d. 3* / 4*

  18. Very much enjoyed this one despite feeling it necessary to check a few of my assumptions.

    My favourite was 20a – could have been supplanted by 18a if the setter had used ‘overtaking’ in place of ’rounding’.

    Thanks to our setter and to Mr K for another very informative blog. I will fill in the questionnaire but perhaps leave it until Mr K has dealt with the glitches that others have mentioned.

  19. I didn’t think this was that difficult although I did struggle with 10a and 21d, I got them but couldn’t see why so thank you for the hints Mr K. Thank you also to setter for a very enjoyable puzzle.

  20. Since my survey was broken for the first wave of blog readers, I’ve removed the link and I’ll try again next Tuesday.

  21. I did not know 10a, or the word needed to solve 21d. I did know the American author at 15d but don’t think he’s all that well known in the UK.

    So, not an enjoyable experience for me, though I soldiered on until I managed to finish using some electronic help.

    Thanks to Mr K and to the setter.

  22. Clearly I am on a different wavelength to this setter, so throwing in the towel half way through. Thanks for the hints Mr K, but if I need more than a few it becomes a fruitless exercise, at least for this humble solver. Found very tricky with several new or ancient, obtuse words. And clues that are part anagram and part Cryptic drive me up the wall. Glad that lots of you enjoyed this, but for those of you lurking or uncomfortable with saying this was above your pay grade, you are not alone.

    1. Thanks for that, Lizzie. I’m sure that many lurkers will feel better after reading your comment.

  23. A bit more tricky than the usual Tuesday type crossword of recent times but apart from a couple of entries most answers went in steadily. I liked 18a so that is my favourite.
    Thanks to the setter, and to MrK for the hints and pics. Is that tag line on the pic for 19d serious?

    1. Yes, I believe that the caption on the 19d pic reflects an old Ohio law that’s still on the books.

  24. Stumbled on the same two as RD and will agree with him and MalcolmR on 18a as COTD.

    Thanks to Mr K and setter for a fine blog and puzzle.

  25. Fell short today. Never heard of 10a. Made a mess of spelling 20a. Didn’t twig 22d until I read the hint,but I now think it’s
    my favourite clue.

    Thanks to Mr K and the setter

  26. Hi all. I’ve noticed sometimes it’s mentioned here about difficulty levels for different days of the week. Is this also true for The Toughie?
    Sometimes I do the normal cryptic a bit too quick these days. I’d like to have a go at the Toughie but it’s usually beyond me, so is there a recognised ‘easy day’.

    Any suggestions welcome.

    1. Welcome to the blog, Anthony. I believe that the editor’s goal for the Toughie is for the difficulty to increase through the week. Friday almost always offers a stern test. Tuesday is your best bet for finding an accessible Toughie, but that’s a guide, not a rule.

  27. I completed this before leaving the house this morning and from memory I enjoyed it, although I did note that it took a little longer than normal Tuesdays.

    The demon was a new word for me but confirmed by Google and I only got the German city from the definition and checkers so needed the hint to explain the rest.

    Many thanks to Mr. K and setter

  28. For the second day running we have actually finished on the day! Can’t keep this up! But very encouraged that it was rated 4/4. Some straightforward clues and some decidedly tricky ones – some of which required electronic help, I’m afraid. But completed without looking at the hints. ‘Rare earth’ and ‘rip into’ held us up for along time. Favourites 11a, 12a & 18a (although perhaps ‘late trip’ is a slightly macabre description!)

    1. Congratulations, DJs. I stand by my 4* rating because I believe that this puzzle is of above-average difficulty (and on the BD scale, 3* is supposed to be average)

  29. Thanks to the setter and to Mr Kitty for the review and hints. A very enjoyable but quite tricky puzzle. I’d never heard of 10a & 15d, but was able to get them from the wordplay, which is what it’s all about. 14d made me laugh as did 18a, the latter was my favourite. Last two in were 28a & 22d. Was 3*/4* for me.

  30. I found this crossword a little odd 😬 Some very clever clues that made me smile and went in straight away but some I could not fathom 😟 e.g.10 & 28a and 16d so ***/*** Favourites we’re 9a, 10a, 12a & 13a Big thanks to Mr K for his explanations and to the unknown Compiler 🤔

    1. Hi Jaylegs – Being a curious type (in every sense!) what are the characters after the words ‘odd’, ‘fathom’ and ‘Compiler’ in your post? I see little squares or ‘equals’ ie =
      Is it a Mac thing I wonder?

      1. I can read this blog on both a Mac and a Windows, and on both I see emoticons after those words, Roy.

        1. Ah, I can see them on my Android phone – must be a Vista/Chrome thing, thanks Malcolm

      2. They are emojees Roy I always comment from an I-pad and I am after the record for the most number used!

  31. Tricky one and it took me most of the day. Agree with the comments on “narc” 10a completely baffled me. 14d was my favourite.

    Thank you to all involved.

  32. Raced through this at first, then slowed to a stop with the last few.
    Like Beaver, I spelt the end of 20a incorrectly; clearly I’ve lived in the US too long. That made 22d very tricky, but I got there in the end by using an anagram search.
    Strangely enough, I had 10a in another puzzle not long ago, so that was a great help.
    I got held up with the NE corner way too long, pure pigheadedness wouldn’t allow me to use electronic help.
    I did enjoy this a lot, so thank you Ms/Mr Setter, and, of course, enjoyed the hints, tips and pics Mr. K.

  33. I enjoyed this. 1d made me laugh, largely because we have an ongoing joke at work about horses with unusual qualities. Qualities like being explosive and radioactive … Probably a “you had to be there” thing, so I won’t go on but will instead shut up except to say thank you setter and blogger.

    1. Lovely to ‘see’ you, Kitty. I do yearn for a return to Tuesdays being ‘Kitty zone’. Good to know that you’re still amongst us, if only in spirit.

      1. Aw, I would never abandon you, Jane!

        Solving a bit more lately, despite all the demands “real life” is making on my time. (How dare it?!) Getting back into the commenting habit should follow, with a little luck.

    2. Nice to hear from you Kitty
      I can’t think of any jokes that involve radioactive horses tho :unsure:

      1. Hi LbR – good to see you too, as always.

        Some kind of clinic? It can feel that way!

        The shortest version of the story I can manage is this: I was wading through reams and reams of some rather heavy going material. In the middle of this, my little cat-brain thoroughly mashed, I came across a passage about conditions when a horse might suddenly explode. As in bolting, clearly, but I was immediately struck with a mental image of a cartoon horse going “KABOOM!” in a suitably cartoonish way, and consequently collapsed in fits of laughter.

        Other material at other times has enabled the running joke to continue and grow, but the details of the radioactive horses are a bit too distinctive to go into here (confidentiality issues). So I’m afraid you’ll just have to use your imagination … :wacko:

        Still, if you ever want to make me laugh, just mention exploding horses and that’ll almost certainly do the trick!

  34. I found this very tricky, needed far to much help from the blog, so not one of my favourites.

    1. Thanks for sharing that, Lady kr. It was a hard puzzle for a Tuesday and so I’m sure that there are many readers lurking out there who had a similar experience with it.

      1. My comments lately seem to be published with those of hours before ! Must be this old i-phone !

        1. Hello, Harry. Looks like you are replying to comments in threads rather than starting a new one. To do that enter your comment in the box right at the end of the list of comments.

  35. A few places where a bit of head-scratching was required but in the end the only one we needed to check in BRB was 10a.
    An enjoyable solve.
    Thanks Mr Ron and Mr K.

  36. First of all I must offer my thanks to the setter for a fantastic set of clues that truly gave me the runaround. I agree with fellow bloggers that getting into the setters wavelength for me is the factor that determines the length of solving time. My enjoyment rating is based on exactly that & more often or not that ‘doh’ moment when I realise the setter had fooled me with a cracker of a clue.
    10ac totally new to me.
    4*/4.5* repeated thanks to setter (be nice if you could let yourself be known) & to MrK for a thorough review & help with a few that stumped me.

    1. Hi Max,
      You do realise of course that, despite Mr K’s assertion, 9a is not purely mythical. It’s out there somewhere waiting to be found again – any child could tell you that………..

        1. She must have been one very excited little girl – I do hope that she was allowed to keep the sword. Imagine the stories she can tell to her own children one day.

      1. The Cash version does have Don Henley singing back-up. I did look for live versions by The Eagles but I couldn’t find anything that I preferred to Johnny.

  37. Whew! 10a was completely new to me, and I struggled with most of the top. First one in was 13a, which is my COTD!
    Nice to see I am not alone in finding this a bit tricky – thought it was just me! 🙃
    Thanks to Mr K – and to the setter.

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