DT 29134 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
View closed comments 

DT 29134

Daily Telegraph Cryptic No 29134

Hints and tips by Mr K

+ - + - + - + - + - + - + - +

BD Rating  -  Difficulty ** Enjoyment ***


Hello, everyone.  I found this less of a challenge than last Tuesday's puzzle.  I have no idea who the setter might be, so if our setter should happen to visit the site to read our comments, perhaps they could also leave a comment of their own?

Last week I had to abandon an attempt to collect data on your solving experiences because of problems with the survey.  The goal is to measure how long most of us took to solve a specific puzzle and whether we used any aids, because I believe that the data will be reassuring to solvers who feel that they take longer than everyone else.  The brief survey should now work properly.  Click here to open it in a new window.  Thanks in advance for your responses.  I'll present the results next Tuesday. 

In the hints below most indicators are italicized, and underlining identifies precise definitions and cryptic definitions.  Clicking on the answer will be here buttons will reveal the answers.  In some hints hyperlinks provide additional explanation or background.  Clicking on a picture will enlarge it.  Please leave a comment telling us how you got on.



1a    Chewing end of pen? Heather follows book (8)
NIBBLING:  Concatenate the business end of a fountain pen, the abbreviation for book, and a usual synonym of the heather plant

5a    Is in for arson, ultimately, here? (6)
PRISON:  Insert IS from the clue in a word meaning for or supporting, and then append the last letter (…, ultimately) of arson.  The entire clue is the definition and everything but the last word is wordplay, making this a semi-all-in-one clue

10a   Scratchier cats strangely adopting one's mannerisms (15)
CHARACTERISTICS:  An anagram (strangely) of SCRATCHIER CATS containing (adopting) the Roman one

11a   Conservative by the church in reflecting god's triumph (7)
SUCCEED:  Fuse together the single letter for Conservative and the abbreviation for the Church of England, and then insert that lot in the reversal (reflecting) of the Latin word for god

12a   Who, in France, caught King with the Queen getting livelier? (7)
QUICKER:  Link together the French word for who , the cricket scoring abbreviation for caught, the chess abbreviation for king, and the Latin abbreviation for the current Queen

13a   Get rid of diamonds with one small crack (8)
DISSOLVE:  Assemble the playing card abbreviation for diamonds, the Roman one, the clothing abbreviation for small, and crack or figure out

15a   Spring up and large dog might do this (5)
GROWL:  Spring up or get taller, with the clothing abbreviation for large

18a   Fixed dress I had (5)
RIGID:  An informal word for dress or clothe is followed by the contracted form of "I had"

20a   Look  who might delight in bloody deeds (8)
BUTCHERS:  The Cockney rhyming slang for look is also some shopkeepers whose work might make them bloody (although I'm not sure that they find delight in that)

23a   Not all  biased (7)
PARTIAL:  A double definition.  When followed by to, the answer also means having a preference or fondness for

25a   Release Romeo by end of day -- entertaining fib! (7)
RELIEVE:  The letter corresponding to Romeo in the NATO phonetic alphabet is followed by the end of a day (or the day before an event) that's containing (entertaining) a fib

26a   Political agents perhaps mauling inveterate press (15)
REPRESENTATIVES:  An anagram (mauling) of INVETERATE PRESS.  The answer is defined by example (perhaps)

27a   Ruler already nasty, to an extent (6)
DYNAST:  The answer is hidden as part of (…, to an extent) the remainder of the clue

28a   They're on holiday, I trust -- so drunk (8)
TOURISTS:  An anagram (… drunk) of I TRUST SO



1d    Best French city street (6)
NICEST:  Glue together a resort city on the French Riviera and the abbreviation for street

2d    Splitting part of tree in garden, initially (9)
BRANCHING:  A charade of the part of a tree that bears leaves, IN from the clue, and the first letter (..., initially) of Garden

3d    Bosses those who beg to leave quietly (7)
LEADERS:  Some people who beg or implore minus the musical abbreviation meaning quietly (... to leave quietly)

4d    Famous school put up with daughter (5)
NOTED:  A well-known public school is reversed (put up, in a down clue)  and followed by the genealogical abbreviation for daughter

6d    Grass at home -- good to be stepping on it (7)
RUSHING:  Chain together a grass-like marsh plant, the usual short word for at home, and the single letter for good

7d    Second mark gets criticism (5)
STICK:  The single-letter abbreviation for second with a mark indicating that something is correct or chosen

8d    Liz almost snorts violently -- through these? (8)
NOSTRILS:  An anagram (violently) of LI[z] minus her last letter (almost) and SNORTS

9d    Visit  occurring often (8)
FREQUENT:  A double definition, the first a verb and the second an adjective

14d   Identified boy embracing beautiful girl (8)
LABELLED:  A synonym of boy containing (embracing) a beautiful girl

16d   Yank sure loves US! (9)
OURSELVES:  An anagram (yank …) of SURE LOVES.  The capitalization of the last word is just for misdirection

17d   Ready before father, and embarrassed (8)
PREPARED:  Cement together a preposition meaning before, an informal word for one's father, and the colour associated with embarrassment

19d   Tiger plays with these motorists (7)
DRIVERS:  Some things with which Tiger Woods plays golf

21d   Rifle lost? Her gun could be in here (7)
HOLSTER:  An anagram (rifle ..) of LOST HER

22d   Feels nurse seems to ignore every other character (6)
SENSES:  A usual, but obsolescent, abbreviation for a nurse is followed by the odd letters of SeEmS (seems to ignore every other character)

24d   Mature writer follows religious instruction (5)
RIPEN:  A writing instrument follows the abbreviation for Religious Instruction

25d   Relation's allowance finally cut (5)
RATIO:  An allowance or quota loses its last letter (… finally cut)


Thanks to today’s setter for a fun solve.  Top clue for me today was 16d.  Which clues did you like best?


The Quick Crossword pun:  SUM + MAR + THYME = SUMMERTIME

80 comments on “DT 29134

  1. This has to be the work of a neophyte. I cannot remember the last time I completed in an easy * time. I had all but three inserted on my first read through.

    I’m not complaining, I do believe that we should encompass a broad spectrum of difficulties. I have no doubt that this one will be balanced out soon by one causing me to comment “Way above my pay grade today!”

    Many thanks to the setter and Mr K.

    1. A pleasant and enjoyable puzzle with just enough to keep you guessing for a while, mostly in the SE (**/***). I agree that it hasn’t the complexity/depth of a more experienced setter but many thanks to the mysteron anyway. Thanks to Mr K and I loved the cat in the hint (not the cat in the hat).

    2. Hello, Malcolm. I don’t think that a puzzle like this would come from a novice setter. It’s much harder to create a crossword like today’s than one where the setter can use an obscure answer to fill a problem slot in the grid or use complex wordplay to clue an awkward answer.

      1. Also it’s got Latin, golf and “EN” meaning Nurse in it. These all point to quite an experienced setter.

  2. An excellent puzzle easy in parts and just enough to keep the old grey matter in gear. Favourites for me 12a and 14d. My guide for completion goes by cafitierres. One is not quite a write in, two for the trickier puzzles. Finally three leave it come back to it or resort to hints if a complete stinker.
    Dogs are also fairly good timers
    Thanks to Mr K and setter

    1. Hi, Spook. Thanks for that explanation of your scoring system. How does one use a dog as a timer?

    2. My cafetière is currently 12 cups. We did have an 8, but it came apart and we also had two single-person cafetières, but they got stolen by my daughter for her office drawer.
      I only say this because, if I had more than one mug of ground coffee at a time, I would have to be scraped off the ceiling.
      I congratulate you and am guessing that your ID pic has dark glasses and a face obscured by a mug to conceal the mania beneath…
      …..although you do look quite relaxed.

  3. Much more approachable than yesterday’s horror.
    Thanks Mr.K for the hints, a couple of parsing confirmations needed.
    Thanks also to the setter.

  4. For me this was an example of a puzzle that is still very enjoyable even though it was very gentle. If, as MalcolmR suggests, the compiler is a newbie, then very well done!

    */**** and I’ll make 20a the favourite.

    Thanks to all.

  5. Easier puzzle today. Only needed Mr K’s help with 3 clues. Almost a record for me. Thanks to Mr K & setter.

  6. My first time here so I hope you receive this.
    Finished at a reasonable canter without any outside assistance (BRB etc). Like Ape, my last in was 22d although I didn’t understand why until I read Mr. K’s hint so presumably it qualifies as a bung in.
    I’ve been reading comments here for some time and it’s always good to know when others are having the same problems as me and it’s not my brain in a state of decline.

    1. Welcome to the blog, Mike the Bike.
      Now that you’ve de-lurked I hope we’ll hear from you on a regular basis.

  7. It’s a good job BD didn’t rate this as it might not have registered on the difficulty score. Mildly pleasent but I have to confess to my usual sense of satisfaction when I complete a puzzle being strangely absent from this. I did enjoy it though and I particularly liked 16d which is my COTD with 25a/d making up the podium.
    Many thanks to Mr K for his usual imaginatively illustrated review and to the setter.

  8. Yes the puzzle was straightforward, but their were lots of good surfaces and the parsing was clear and precise, liked 5a and 20a.
    Going to go for a **/***
    Thanks to Mr K for the pics-the monkey in 8d looked surreal !

  9. ‘Borrowing’ from CS’s comment yesterday, almost that thing we are not supposed to say, completed at a fast gallop – 1.5*/3.5*.
    Favourite – a toss-up between 20a and 25a – and the winner is 25a.
    Thanks to the setter (could it be Navy Clues?) and Mr K.

    P.S. Some of you may have already seen this ‘buried’ in the Lifestyle section of the paper last Thursday, I found it via the DT Puzzles Facebook page, a profile of (today’s) Toughie setter, and apparently an ‘anonymous’ Tuesday and Thursday back page setter, Donnybrook – https://www.telegraph.co.uk/family/life/secrets-crossword-compilers-paul-bringloe-donnybrook/

      1. I didn’t think of Navy as the nurse at 22d is before her time! Probably before her mother’s time too.

    1. Thanks for the link Senf, fascinating and very amusing article. Wondering what the clue for “chardonnay” would involve but I have an inkling!

  10. A bit of a doddle today but fun while it lasted. Top was more or less R & W then South was just nicely esoteric. Imagine 20a might not immediately spring to mind for non-Brits and 12a requires a basic knowledge of French which it seems is no longer a compulsory part of schools’ curricula in the U.K. Thank you Mysteron and MrK particularly for your usual helpful parsing/surface assistance (actually not needed today).

  11. Having now read Senf’s comment above am wondering if today’s Mysteron is in fact Donnybrook. Strange that many setters prefer to remain incognito.

    1. It wouldn’t be Donnybrook today as he is on Toughie duty and that would break the no ‘double duty’ convention.

  12. Entertaining while it lasted – thanks to the setter and Mr K.

    Re 20ac, I thought the answer referred to e.g. “The butcher of Lyon” Klaus Barbie, who certainly delighted in bloody deeds.

    Thanks again.

    1. Hello, M Nik. Yeah, that could be well what the setter had in mind with 20a, but I preferred the less unpleasant interpretation.

  13. Enjoyed today’s puzzle, pretty plain⛵️ **/*** 😃 Favourites 19 & 25d. Thanks to Mr K and to today’s Setter 🤔

  14. Another comfortably straightforward and enjoyable Tuesday offering. Nothing too challenging or obscure but fun while it lasted. 16d was my clear favourite.

    Thanks setter, whoever you are, and also to Mr K.

  15. Thanks to the setter and Mr Kitty for the review and hints. All very straightforward apart from 5&11a and 22d, which I got, but couldn’t parse them. Favourite was 16d, very enjoyable. Was 2*/3* for me.

  16. Short and sweet so perhaps not the best day for conducting the survey – it could produce results that none of us will be able to live up to on another day!
    I did wonder whether the fourth word in the clue for 20a should be read as ‘de-light’ – makes sense for the gentleman in question.

    Favourite has to be 28a – so very true here at the moment and Mr K’s illustration really made me laugh.

    Thanks to our setter and to Mr K – I do enjoy your blogs & ‘extras’.

    1. Hi, Jane. Re surveying on a 2* puzzle, I think it’s the relative, rather than the absolute, performance that’s relevant to what I am trying to do. Thanks for the kind words about the blog.

  17. A complete R&W, puzzled why this is ** for difficulty and yesterdays was *. How does the hinter decide on the level, seems a bit arbitrary?
    I did like the little misdirection in 16d by capitalising US.
    Thx to all

    1. Hello, Brian. I can tell you how I decide on the rating. 3* is for when I judge the puzzle to be of average difficulty. 4* and 2* are respectively significantly harder and easier than that average. 1* would be extremely easy and 5* extremely hard. The editor will work to avoid such extremes so you will rarely see those scores on a Tuesday. Other hinters on other days do it differently.

      We discouraged the use of R&W (“Read and Write”) because many readers said it made them feel like they are very poor solvers. It’s also vague. Let’s have a quick straw poll of the readership – if you saw a puzzle described as “Read and Write”, how long do you imagine it took to solve?

      1. I consider that the thing that we are not supposed to say is very subjective and depends on the solver.

        1. Hello, Senf. To me, the term seems unambiguous. It takes a few seconds to read a clue and a few seconds to write an answer, so a read and write solve must surely be well under ten seconds per clue, which is well under five minutes to completely solve the puzzle.

          I believe we have many readers who interpret it the same way, which is why they feel like hopeless solvers when they read a bunch of comments labelling a puzzle R&W, when in fact they are average or better. I’m sure that’s not what those commenters intend to happen, but it is the reason why use of the term was discouraged.

          1. For me a very easy puzzle would take, say, ten seconds per clue; the average thirty clues is therefore five minutes – PLUS, I have timed filling in a solved crossword by reading out the clue and immediately writing in the answers over the top – takes about three and a half minutes so my answer would be 5 + 3.5 = 8-10 minutes or thereabouts

            It means diddly-squat though, we all sometimes struggle with some setters/puzzles and find other puzzles a breeze – there is no exact science, it is totally irrelevant

            1. I consider myself to be reasonably competent and I have never solved a puzzle in 8 to 10 mins. What’s the fun in that anyway. Another activity springs to mind.

              1. I agree with you Weekend Wanda – an easy puzzle is not very satisfying, but Mr K asked us what sort of solving time would warrant the label ‘R&W’

      2. The best example of R&W was when Mark Goodliffe did 3 of the dailies in quick time. I’m sure the video was posted on this site … but the “search this site” option seems to have disappeared … I certainly can’t find it!

        Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.

        1. I posted that video the last time we discussed read and write. For those who have not seen it, here is repeat Times Crossword champion Mark Goodliffe solving in succession cryptics in the Independent, Guardian, and Times, parsing and explaining as he goes, and doing it all in under 21 minutes. If he was solving on paper and not having to explain everything out loud he’d no doubt be faster. I’m fine with labelling a performance like that “read and write” or calling it a fast solve. I have to admire what he can do, but I will never be anywhere near that level nor, I think, are most of the commenters here. I just enjoy solving crosswords at my own pace, which is in my opinion the only thing that matters.

      3. Thank you Mr K for such a lucid and well reasoned reply. I will endeavour in future to avoid the dreaded R&W tag and opt for a more subjective description as after all we are all approaching crossword puzzles in our own individual manner.

  18. Well cluded, really enjoyable, romped through with no major challenges which is satisfying!

  19. A mild Tuesday puzzle with nothing much to scare the donkeys, but certainly enjoyable while it lasted. I’ve no exceptional clue to pic as a favourite but I have ticked 12a which has, if I’m not mistaken, 6 separate elements – not bad for a 7-letter word. Though, the first 2 elements could probably be lumped together into one, making only 5? 2* / 3*

  20. Straightforward but enjoyable nonetheless! Much easier than yesterday’s… Survey completed, but you might need to re run it for a more complex puzzle! My difficulty stars are not really time related – * completed easily ** some cogitation on the answers, but aids on only 1 or 2 clues *** needs thesaurus / dictionary after half way, e-aids for last few **** early and extensive use of dictionary / thesaurus and e-aids to complete more than a few ***** too hard! Unable to complete even with all aids.

    1. Thanks for that, Richard. I should have asked in the survey if others assigned difficulty stars like that. But I can still ask here in the comments: who else assigns difficulty ratings based in part on what aids were used?

    2. Pretty much same here. A scale of five does not give a great deal of scope – most of them are about average-ish

      1. A scale of 10 would be better, but you can achieve the same effect by using half-points. That’s what I do.

  21. Like others above, I wondered how representative the survey might be on such a benign puzzle. This one gave me no problems at all and I just needed Mr. K for an explanation to 22d which I solved with the checkers and the definition, stupidly missed the old abbreviation for a nurse and was trying to find the SEN in the fodder.

    Many thanks to the setter and Mr. K

  22. Not a lot to add from me too. I also solved 22d last after an embarrassing amount of time with the odd letters of nurses as well as seems. Embarrassing because Mamma Bee was a nurse and midwife at least until I came along and changed her career from nurse to Mother.
    Couldn’t think what tigers had to do with motorists either but bunged in and the penny has now dropped.

    Thanks to Mr K for the blog and setter for the puzzle.

  23. Ooh – I looked at this earlier and it’s different – much more as it used to be with all the replies being nice and cosy and cuddled up in a little box together.
    Right then – on to the crossword now. I don’t really have a huge amount to add to what has been said already.
    I agree it was pretty straightforward.
    I thought the two long anagrams were good and I liked 20a.
    With thanks to the setter, whoever he or she may be, and to Mr K.

  24. Well that was a load of laughs, the setter’s humour and Mr. K’s pics, can’t tell you how much I enjoyed this.
    I think 16d has to be fave, but lots more brought smiles. I’m still giggling at the 14d pic, and the 3d one.
    Thanks to setter, I wish I knew who you were, this is a perfect example of not having to be mind bending to be enjoyable. Also many thanks to Mr. K for his usual informative and funny review.

  25. Shared this with my mother-in-law and we flew through it. She is a nonagenarian, so her knowledge of cryptic crosswords is second to none. It was such a privilege to learn from her. The only growl was at 20a. Even as meat eaters, butchery can never be a delight. The rest of it was fun though as we worked through the clues together. Thank you setter and Mr Kitty. Loved the bunny pic.

  26. Perfect level, and I think the ** difficulty rating is spot on. A very enjoyable puzzle, with no outside help needed, just a couple of hints to finish, thanks Mr K, and for the amusing pictures as usual. Love the new site also. Re the cat leading the dog, we had a 12lb cat who was the boss of our 80lb yellow lab. He used to herd him into a corner and make him sit there, until he (the cat) got bored.

  27. Favourites 20a 16 and 25d. Usually have a lot more but their were no lightbulb moments. Can’t now remember which was last one in as did not labour over any of them but could have been 16d. Thanks setter for the puzzle quickly solved on a sunny day in Cornwall and to Mr K for the hints which I am sure will be excellent when I look at them

  28. A very enjoyable post dinner solve that was enough to give a workout. I thought some of the clues were very well thought out so nothing to complain about here.
    Thanks to our anonymous setter & MrK for his review

  29. Hugely enjoyable puzzle, I loved it. Didn’t need any hints to complete it, but was glad for a couple of the explanations, and the great choice of pictures.
    Thanks to the mystery setter and Mr K.

  30. 0.5*/2.5*. I completed this at a very fast pace first thing this morning since when I have been out all day so no chance to post until now. As Jane says, this was short and sweet – a pleasant, untaxing solve.
    Many thanks to the setter and to Mr K – the highlight for me was the picture for 1a.

  31. I found this unusually easy, finished in ******* without resorting to Big Dave/dictionary/thesaurus I only looked at the site after I finished to check the reasoning behind 16d!

    1. Welcome to the site, Val, and thanks for sharing your experience with the puzzle.

      I’m afraid that I have had to redact your comment because blog policy is that we don’t give solving times in comments.

  32. Apologies for joining in late…

    Very enjoyable puzzle and I agree with the BD rating. My favourite: 18d, very clever! That kind of driver🏌️‍♂️🏌️‍♀️

    Thanks for the cat videos Mr K. Mrs Flyingfox is very happy 😜

    Best, 🦇

  33. It’s catch up time for me! This was a lovely gentle puzzle that was great fun to solve. 20a was my top clue.
    Thanks to the setter, and to Mr K for the review, pics and survey. Which I must comment on….

Comments are closed.