DT 29142 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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DT 29142

Daily Telegraph Cryptic No 29142

Hints and tips by Falcon

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

BD Rating – Difficulty ***Enjoyment ****

Greetings from Ottawa, where we are enjoying the final vestiges of summer. Days are shorter, nights are cooler, and The Farmer’s Almanac predicts a brutal winter ahead.

Today’s puzzle is without question the work of RayT. I enjoyed it immensely but I suspect that anagram aficionados may not feel the same way. It is rare to encounter a puzzle with more lurkers than anagrams!

In the hints below, underlining identifies precise definitions and cryptic definitions, and indicators are italicized. The answers will be revealed by clicking on the ANSWER buttons.

Please leave a comment telling us what you thought of the puzzle.


7a   Old Queen title, not empty decoration (8)
ORNAMENT — string together O(ld), the Latin abbreviation for queen, a word meaning title or designation, and the word N(o)T emptied of its contents

9a   Stick plug in this place (6)
ADHERE — a commercial message followed by an adverb denoting “in this place”

10a   Starts to decline in popularity, say (4)
DIPS — the initial letters (starts) of the final four words in the clue

11a   This compiler’s style mostly regarded as extravagant (10)
IMMODERATE — a charade of a contracted pronoun and verb that the setter would use in place of “this compiler is”, a word meaning style or fashion, and all but the final letter of a word meaning regarded or judged

12a   Deal catches current by North Sea? (6)
SALINE — an instance of the exchange of goods or services for money (as in “close the deal” containing (catching) the physics notation for electric current and N(orth); as the definition, sea is an adjective used to denote a characteristic of the sea

14a   Just close to missing sweetheart bottling argument (8)
NARROWLY — first remove the letter E (swEetheart) from an adverb meaning “close to” or almost; then insert a synonym for argument or quarrel in the result

15a   Took home listener backing study (6)
EARNED — one of the listeners on your head followed by a reversal (backing) of a study or office

17a   Yorkshire person’s finally mean! (6)
INTEND — split (2,1′,3), the solution becomes how someone from Yorkshire would pronounce a phrase meaning “finally”

20a   Deftest providing laces in knots occasionally (8)
NIFTIEST — words meaning “providing” and “laces” are inserted into alternate letters (occasionally) of kNoTs

22a   Shield grasped protecting cavalier’s flanks (6)
SCREEN — grasped (as you might an idea) wrapped around (protecting) the outer letters (flanks) of CavalieR

23a   Break lag facing bird inside deserted Thameside (10)
CONTRAVENE — start with a lag of the criminal persuasion; follow this with a large black bird inside the outer letters (deserted) of ThamesidE

24a   Brood makes cat sounds, audibly (4)
MUSE — sounds like (audibly) the sounds made by cats

25a   Undaunted, the woman’s in charge, taking over (6)
HEROIC — a possessive pronoun denoting “the woman’s” and the abbreviation for “in charge” are embracing (taking) the cricket abbreviation for over

26a   Sound of youngster lingered (8)
STERLING — a lurker hiding (denoted by the preposition “of“) in the final two words of the clue


1d   Evacuation of shower during day time … (8)
DRAINAGE — a meteorological shower sandwiched between D(ay) and a very long period of time

2d   … damages  planet (4)
MARS — double definition

3d   Old face finally wrinkles up (6)
SENILE — a reversal (up in a down clue) of the final letter of facE and a word meaning wrinkles

4d   Official chap on bottle endlessly (8)
MANDARIN — a synonym for chap or fellow and all but the final letter of a word meaning bottle or nerve

5d   Shout stifling a scream for Ben-Hur? (10)
CHARIOTEER — a synonym for shout wrapped around the A from the clue and a scream or extremely amusing event; the question mark indicates that Ben-Hur is an example of the solution

6d   Harsh routine in research facility set up (6)
BRUTAL — a boring and dreary routine inside the reversal of a research facility

8d   Coordination can start to go around motorway (6)
TIMING — a can from the pantry shelf and the initial letter of Go surround the London-Yorkshire Motorway

13d   Bother single Romeo having sex in allotment (10)
IRRITATION — start with the Roman numeral for one and the letter represented by Romeo in the NATO phonetic alphabet; then append a euphemism for sex embedded in a share or allotment

16d   Style of European say, in cut … (8)
ELEGANCE — E(uropean) followed by a Latin abbreviation denoting say or for instance inside a medical cut

18d   … design’s modified round bottom of Dior clothing (8)
DRESSING — an anagram (modified) of DESIGNS enclosing the final letter of DioR

19d   Brief answer to secure the capital (6)
ATHENS — an abbreviation for answer containing THE gives a Mediterranean capital city

21d   From armchair one declines to be pressed (6)
IRONED — the second lurker of the day, this one indicated by the preposition from

22d   Stick end of stick in waste pipe (6)
SKEWER — the final letter of sticK contained in a pipe for carrying waste

24d   Head of martin seen on ailing plant (4)
MILL — initial letter of Martin followed by (on in a down clue) a synonym for ailing

There are too many great clues in this puzzle to pick a favourite. Instead, I will single out a couple for special mention for other reasons – 17a because I am chuffed at having recognized this bit of Yorkshire dialect and 11a as a seemingly self-deprecating reference by the setter.

Quickie Pun: THUG + AIM + SUP = THE GAME’S UP

89 comments on “DT 29142

  1. I will have to admit that this was a struggle for me. In ***/**** time I had all but completed it with just two to go. The intersecting 3d & 12a, were the culprits, both having only vowel checkers. I know some solvers prefer to see vowels, but I am a consonant man. I had to resort to a few electrons to complete the grid.

    COTD has to be 17a, which was a bung-in, but took ages for the penny to drop. Doh!

    Many thanks to RayT and Falcon.

    1. Change 3d to 1d, and I can copy paste your comment, (I am.in a meeting) 😊


  2. Quite tricky today I thought, especially with the lack of anagrams – a good example of RayT on form in my opinion (when isn’t he though…?)

    Thanks to Falcon and RayT 2.5*/4.5*

  3. I had the same experience as MalcolmR, with my last two being the intersecting 3d/12a.

    Many thanks to RayT, and to Falcon for the write-up.

    1. Nods in agreement with both yourself and Malcolm R. Not overly happy with 3 down – at 76 I’m old, but I am far from being the answer to the clue . . . . . I hope!

      1. That was exactly my reaction to that one Shropshire Bloke, I’m slightly younger than you but felt a little aggrieved by it.

        1. The setter would appear not to understand the difference between old age and senility. Rather strange for a crossword setter!

      2. The first 4 synonyms of SENILE (adj) listed in the (online) LRB are: old, aged, doddering, decrepit and the last one is gaga! Seems to be a quite flexible word…

      3. I admit to sometimes being classed as a “wrinkly” by the grandchildren but hopefully no way would they consider me senile! 😠

  4. Like MR the 3D & 12A combo last in . Overall a struggle but satisfaction achieved on completion . I predict that , like the prorogue , this will not please everyone .

    Thanks Ray T and Falcon

  5. 2.5*/4*. Apart from 12a & 17a, I really enjoyed this with all the usual Ray T hallmarks.

    I am not convinced by the adjective “sea” as the definition for 12a. Surely this would be synonymous with “marine” and not “saline”. 17a, which was my last one in, didn’t float my boat at all.

    11a was my favourite.

    Many thanks to Ray T and to Falcon.

    1. My understanding of the question mark after “sea”, is that it is a convention that includes as potential answers, not just synonyms, but also, properties thereof.

      Saying that, I got marine….

    2. Total genius in my view. Took me forever, then when the penny dropped I wanted to strangle the setter. Brilliant stuff!

  6. 5d was my favourite in this moderately testing but very enjoyable offering from Ray T. An honourable mention, too, for the excellent 11a. As mentioned by RD at #5, 12a and 17a were not to my taste, but they did not spoil the overall experience of the solve.

    Many thanks to Ray for the challenge and to Falcon.

  7. Agree with RD re 12a (and I did originally put in marine), and objected to 3d. Having said that, thoroughly enjoyed the rest which took a fair bit of teasing out.

    Many thanks to RayT and Falcon

  8. Found today tricky, totally stuck in SW corner hence early visit here.

    Liked 5d, not so much 12a. Loved 17a (once I came here for tip… Missed this as maybe I’ve been suckered by the recent spate of (like me) Cockney clues! I must get out of the smoke more…at least mentally!)

    Thanks to Ray T and of course to Falcon

  9. Took me a while to crack this one. The east side fell into place, followed by the SW corner, then NW corner. I thought 12a was a bit suss and the last to go in. Saline might be a characteristic of a/the sea but it’s not a Sea for mine. 5d was my favourite. Anyway, good to crack a Ray T without BD’s help. Thanks Ray and Falcon for the extra insight🦇

  10. Add me to the people who had trouble with 3d/12a – my last two in -mainly because I don’t equate the definitions with the solutions.

    Thanks to Ray T and Falcon

  11. 26a work by our setter and I forgave him for 3d on the grounds that it can only apply to someone MUCH older than I am!!!
    Had to work hard to justify 12a and the parsing of 17a took far longer than it should have done.

    11a made me smile so gets a vote from me although my favourite was actually the Quickie pun.

    Devotions to Mr T and many thanks to Falcon for the review. Make the most of your remaining summer days and ensure that you’re well stocked up to get through the potentially 6d winter to come. Temperatures have definitely dipped here on Anglesey but we hopefully won’t have to face any of your extremes.

  12. Ditto on 12a! Otherwise very enjoyable and a good Thursday challenge with solving slowed down to a fast canter – **/****.
    Favourite a toss-up between 13d and 22d – and the winner is 22d, which does seem to have a hint of familiarity about it.
    Thanks to Ray T and Falcon.

  13. I thought yesterday’s was good but this one capped it. Took me a while to get going but once I had it came together surprisingly (to me) quickly. I thought 3d was hilarious, not politically correct but harmless to anyone with a sense of humour. I also liked 17a (I suspect John Bee will love it) and parsed it immediately….my Northern roots. My last two in were 19d and 26a, where the lurker indicator was very subtle and well disguised.
    Going for 3*/4.5*
    Thanks to Falcon and Mr T for the entertainment.

  14. Very enjoyable.
    Lots of insertions and omissions and pleased to see sweetheart being used for E, even if the Ximeneans probably wouldn’t agree.
    Suitably inspired, I’m off to the allotment!

      1. I know exactly what you mean. Every year at my local community club we have piles of runner beans, courgettes, cucumbers, tomatoes, apples, pears, quinces, rhubarb and even cut flowers – all surplus and free from the allotments brought in by members. It’s great and a lovely gesture.
        One of my little pleasures in a rather dismal world these days

      2. Hi Jane
        I’m no gardener. That was a wistful and somewhat optimistic reference to the allotment in the puzzle!!

      1. Hi Lady KR
        E is the heart of SWEET.
        Fine by me, but others frown upon this type of technique.

  15. Two weeks ago Ray T gave us two anagrams, this week it’s just one. Is he gradually morphing into Beam?
    My favourite (for the penny drop moment) was 17a.
    Thanks to Ray T for the enjoyable puzzle and to Falcon for the review.

  16. This was a bit of an epic quite a hard solve for me, as to 3d wrinkled I may be but at 69 and counting senile I aint. Rant over.
    I to liked 17a but also 20a.
    Thanks Falcon and Ray T

  17. They do say pride goes before a fall and after doing so well yesterday I really struggled today, So my grateful thanks to Falcon and to the setter, even tho I had thought of socket for 9 a, I have no objection to being called senile !

  18. ****/ ** for me. The ones I solved without help of any sort were a very small proportion of the whole. The hardest puzzle for a long time. Not on the setter’s wavelength at all. By the way I think 17a should be split 3/3 as int’ end. No sound space between the n and the t. My thanks to the setter are very muted today but after all the devotion above I’m sure he will not be worried about my opinion. Thank you to Falcon for enlightening me on so many clues.

  19. This is back to the bad old days of Ray T being close to incomprehensible. Good manners prevents me from giving my opinion of this crossword. Suffice it to say it was both unfinished and unloved.
    Thx to all except the setter/

  20. Pleasant enough with some reservation including re 12a, 17a and 8d. 3d is amusing if not necessarily accurate! Thank you RayT and Falcon.

  21. Like Brian, I found this puzzle hard to love. It was ***/**** for difficulty and ** for enjoyment. 12a was a real stumbling block and I was thankful to Falcon for setting me straight. There were no real favourites among the clues although 14a wasn’t bad. I have seen better Ray T puzzles but thanks anyway.

  22. I found this difficult. A certain amount of E assistance required. But it was worth it for 17 across. Like everyone 3d and 12a were the last in. Thanks to all

  23. Thanks to Ray T and to Falcon for the review and hints. A very enjoyable puzzle, that I enjoyed trying to fathom out. I was completely beaten by 12a&3d. Needed the hints to parse 17&26a and 24d. The latter still had me confused as I was still thinking of a botanical plant, doh! Favourite was the side-splitting 13d. Was 4*/4* for me.

  24. I got a bit carried away with 9a and put socket, we seem to have had so many general knowledge clues lately. Soon realised my mistake.
    Thanks to both setter and hinter

  25. Well above my pay grade so gave up…..very little enjoyment here I’m afraid……and I thought I was starting to get the hang of RayT too. Sigh.

    Thanks to Falcon for unravelling it all.

  26. Definitely above my pay grade, but that is the norm with Ray T puzzles. I know it is time to do something else when even some of the hints baffle me, sorry Falcon. I was a happy camper yesterday, but not today. But I should be getting ready for the Hurricane anyway so really can’t concentrate. Don’t like leaving a puzzle unfinished, but you can’t win them all. And a nice day for the brighter folks.

  27. Oh dear! I found this one really difficult – had I been doing the hints today (and thank goodness I wasn’t) I’d have given it 4*.
    I can’t really say what held me up because just about everything did.
    Like others I tried to justify ‘marine’ for 12a but couldn’t so I didn’t put anything in.
    I’m not saying that I didn’t enjoy it because I did but it was a real little piglet, not helped by the almost total lack of anagrams.
    26a fooled me completely – thinking of the wrong kind of sound – dim!
    I particularly appreciated 11 and 14a and 5 and 13d. My favourite was 17a.
    With thanks to Ray T and thanks and admiration to Falcon for sorting it all out.

  28. This was totally beyond my solving abilities! I could only understand five or so clues, so I’ve given up. Maybe tomorrow will bring more fun. Thanks Falcon, I didn’t understand any of it.
    I’m waiting for my delivery of ‘alf dozen botts of Famous Grouse to be delivered, my hurricane preparedness quota.

  29. I thought this was difficult but gradually inched my way through it all. I finally clicked with 1d but was another who put marine in for 12a because I really couldn’t think of anything else. I agree with previous comments about this clue but I did enjoy the crossword although like Kath I would rate it 4*. My favourite clue was 17a, I thought it was very witty – when I finally realised how it worked.
    Thanks to Ray T and Falcon.

  30. Evening all. My thanks to Falcon for the analysis and to everybody else for your comments.


  31. I love Ray T Thursdays and I loved this more than usual. Brilliant clueing from start to finish and several moments of violent feelings when the pennies dropped. 4*/5* from me. More please!

  32. We guessed that we would not be the only ones who spent time trying to justify MARINE for 12a. All the rest went in smoothly but not quickly which is what we usually find with RayT puzzle. Really enjoyable.
    Once again he has limited his clue word count to no more than 7 words. Well done.
    Thanks RayT and Falcon

  33. I got Saline but didn’t connect it to the sea Doh!
    I still don’t understand sterling although I’d put it in
    I too didn’t like senile, I’m 67!

    1. I was 70 a couple of months ago so I like it even less! :sad:
      Sterling is real, great, genuine sound etc – a sterling effort?

      1. Thanks Kath,
        I get it now. I was focused on the wrong sort of sound.
        I only got it because of the lurker. When everything else fails…

  34. Loved it and it fell into place nicely. My only falter was 12a, guess it works but not as well as the rest

  35. Struggled today and needed the hints. Spending all day in A&E with my beloved didn’t help. She’s ended up with a boot and I’ve ended up frustrated. Ta to all.

  36. Oh my goodness, what a slog, I think I’m going backwards. Way beyond me. I’m going for a lie down now!

  37. Started before breakfast in Warkworth and managed most of the bottom half before leaving for the smokehouse at Craster for a few kippers. Tried to complete this sat on the beach at Bamburgh but it was too sunny to see the screen (and a bit windy) finally finished over kippers on toast on my return home. I needed help from a few clues and Mr google but a pleasant day out and crossword.
    I am a Geordie by birth but lived as an honourary Yorkshireman since age 4 I am offended by 17a (not) ;) Thanks SL
    14d had an ED ending until late in the day. 7a needed most help to solve and parse Thanks to Falcon for explaining the sticklers.
    20a my fave today.
    Thanks to RayT for his usual 16d

  38. Flipping heck, what a struggle. Needed masses of help. Many thanks to Falcon. This setter’s too clever for me.

  39. I loved this crossword! It drove me up the wall at times but the sense of achievement when yet another clue revealed itself was wonderful! 20a floated my boat.
    Thanks to Ray T for doing the business, and to Falcon for the review.

  40. I needed a couple of hints today, but managed 17a and 5d unaided – these are my favourites! Many thanks to all! I enjoy the comments very much indeed! Spring is due here in two days – happy!

  41. I’m glad that so many people found enjoyment from this crossword — it’s great for The Telegraph to appeal to different solvers. I’m a long way off from managing something like this.

    I got just 5 answers before having to come here for hints (thanks, Falcon), and even then there were several I couldn’t do. Following the meta-hint about multiple lurkers, I scanned all the clues again and carefully wrote out GNIKATEGRAHC for 25a’s “in charge, taking over” and YTILICAFHCRAESER for 6d’s “in research facility set up”. I would never have occurred to me that an innocent little “of” could indicate a lurker (26a), but hopefully I’ve learnt that now.

    For several clues I’d at least managed to pick out a component or two and was attempting to do something with it, just not quite the right thing. For instance in 23a I was trying to find a word that starts with T and ends with E (“inside deserted Thameside”); and for 3d a word that means ‘old’ and starts with E, followed by a synonym for wrinkles going up. (Though for 1d I was trying to put SR (“evacuation of shower”) inside a synonym of ‘day’.)

    So I can’t quite put my finger on what I find so difficult about RayT puzzles, but I’m not expecting to solve one any time soon.

    I liked 9a and also that it and 22d have the same definition for different meanings, and 7a and 3d also start with the same word (one being wordplay in this case).

    10a was my favourite (I needed the hint, though), and that quickie pun is fantastic!

  42. Such a relief to me to know that I wasn’t the only one struggling. I was starting to worry that I had lost a lot of the little grey cells whilst looking after my grandchildren this summer! Thanks to Falcon for the explanations and Ray T for his crossword which I usually look forward to. Onwards and upwards and hoping I’ll have better luck with his crossword next week.

  43. Well I know I’m a day late due to a great wedding bash on the Gower but just wanted to say to RayT that the lurkers in this puzzle are quite superb!

  44. Very late commenting but, after the discussions earlier in the week, decided to bother doing so! Thoroughly enjoyed this one. Me too with MARINE (well, I started with IONIAN, actually). Like others, that and 3d were my last ones in. I loved 17a. I always look forward to Ray T’s puzzles but sometimes find them quite difficult, although interestingly (well, I think so) he is probably the only setter whose answers, if I actually get them, I don’t need to check for parsing. So many thanks to him and to Falcon.

  45. Took advantage of a lazy day to catch up with a few grids.
    Came across this very enjoyable Thursday puzzle and didn’t regret solving it.
    Of course, it was a RayT.
    Thanks to him and to Falcon for the review.

  46. Another excellent puzzle from Ray T. Good clues, a decent challenge and very enjoyable 3* / 4*

  47. 4*/4*…..found the quickie rather tricky…
    liked 4D “official chap on bottle endlessly (8)”….
    I find that the synonyms in RayT’s puzzles are not always the first that come to mind.

  48. I’m at the point where I will only buy The Telegraph on Wednesdays from now on as the rest of the weeks crossword offerings are so dire they give me heartburn. There is so much “finally”, “starting”, “ending” et al; so little attempt to make the clues look anything other than cryptic crossword clues and very little humerous imagery. To me it just smacks of laziness and/or a lack of imagination.

    I am pleased to say that my first published crossword was praised for all that is lacking in any but Jay’s Wednesday puzzle. I know it’s too much to ask Jay to submit two of his enjoyable puzzles per week so, seeing as everyone looks forward to Wednesdays, why can’t the DT crossword editor find a other similar compiler to make two such so-anticipated days?


    1. A lot of people have a ‘favourite’ setter, Peter and – believe it or not – they wouldn’t all pick the same one. The crossword editor’s job is to cater for all tastes to the best of his ability and I don’t envy him the task!

      1. Thanks, Jane. I don’t mean to come over as a grouch, because I’m not, it’s just that some compilers overuse the et als in the same puzzle and it makes ME groan out loud as well. I like a puzzle to be challenging but enjoyable, and only the Wednesday puzzle is that for me. When I met sadly-missed Albie Fiore at a crossword meet in London a few years back, he noted that my clues were well-suited to the FT. Having since looked at its puzzles I see that they are gentler on the solver. I don’t mind if my clues are easy to solve as long as the solver enjoys filling out the puzzle. If I didn’t enjoy the clues myself then I wouldn’t compile at all.

        Mind you, I once saw an old copy of the Kent Messenger in the dentist waiting room, looked for my puzzle and started to fill it in. I had to look at the answers for some clues!

    2. Hello, Peter. Those cliche indicators and usual suspects are included in the Telegraph Cryptic to offer a foothold for solvers. The Telegraph Toughie usually has a lot less of that sort of thing.

      Where can we find your first published crossword?

        1. Thanks, LbR. I’ve printed the first published one and I’ll try to find time to solve it later. I recognise several old friends sprinkled throughout the clues, including the dreaded “finally”, but presumably they have other than their usual meanings as indicators and abbreviations. I’ve never heard of a “soot pie”. I wonder if it’s a UK dialect thing.

          1. What I meant in my comment was that the same puzzle will overuse final, finally, initially et al. I used ‘finally’ once but that puzzle was one of my first. As for soot pie, you can make a pie out of anything if you’re cooking up an anagram.

    1. I was relatively new at clueing, and I did wonder if ‘Atom’ was a fair enough definition (I have seen a lot more iffy definitions and anagram indicators in the DT crossword lately) but I still need to ask what it was that made you GOL?

      1. Hi, Peter. Wolfgirl’s comment is a top-level response to the crossword on this page, so I’m pretty sure it’s RayT’s chucklesome 17a that she’s praising, and not referring to your puzzle mentioned in the subthread above.

  49. Determination has paid off. Well, it took me only five days. 1d was an obstacle and, as for 12a, that was genius.
    A great puzzle.

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