DT 29146 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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DT 29146

Daily Telegraph Cryptic No 29146

Hints and tips by Mr K

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

Hello, everyone.  Today we've been treated to another excellent puzzle from Telegraph Puzzles Editor Chris Lancaster.  I just loved it.  As is often the case with his puzzles, I rated it a definite 4* for difficulty.  But since there is also 4* enjoyment to be had here I recommend persevering with it, possibly using whatever aids you find necessary to fill the grid and parse the clues. 

On the subject of aids, several comments in the recent survey revealed that there's a wide range of views on using aids to complete puzzles.  My own view is that, while a completely unaided solve is rewarding, when you're trying to improve if you get stuck on a clue it makes sense to use aids to get unstuck rather than staring at the clue for hours.  That frees up time to solve more clues and hence become a better solver.  But that's just me.  What does everyone out there think about the use of aids?

It also occurs to me that some readers may not be aware of all the helpful solving aids now available.  Click on the expandable spoiler box for a discussion of a few useful ones.

Click here for a list of solving aids

1. Dictionaries:  Both Collins and Oxford make their serious dictionaries and thesauruses available online for free.  The BRB is not available online, but Chambers does offer their 21st century Dictionary and the Chambers Thesaurus for free.  The least expensive way to acquire the full Chambers Dictionary (BRB) is as the app for Android or iPhone/iPad.  The Chambers Crossword Dictionary [sometimes called the Small Red Book (SRB)] is another useful resource. For a huge number of words it lists synonyms that have been used in actual crosswords.  To the best of my knowledge it's only available in hardcopy and not as an app.  Definitely worth buying, in my opinion.  Finally, Green's Dictionary of Slang can be amusing reading and it may sometimes help us foreigners make sense of something that's not in the BRB. 

2. Electronic word search tools:  The Chambers apps can return all words that match a specified pattern.  For example, searching on ?E?E? will return all 211 words matching that annoying pattern.  Of course, it is still up to you to identify the particular word that fits both wordplay and definition and to then parse the clue.  When it comes to websites,  OneLook is possibly the most powerful online word search tool available.  OneAcross is another useful site with simpler (but less powerful) syntax.

3. Anagram solvers:  The Chambers apps will also return all anagrams of a set of letters simply by searching on the letter combination.  Among online anagram tools, anagram-solver.net is probably the most comprehensive.  OneAcross has a simple page that returns anagrams.

4. Lists:  The biggest and best list of crossword-relevant general knowledge that I'm aware of is Big Dave's own Mine of Useful Information.  I highly recommend looking over all that is on offer there.

If I've missed any of your favourite tools please tell us about them in the comments.


In the hints below most indicators are italicized and definitions are underlined.  Clicking on the helloo 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    Delightful stupor with music playing (11)
SCRUMPTIOUS:  An anagram (playing) of STUPOR MUSIC

9a    Sneaky  sort of service (9)
UNDERHAND:  A double definition, the second referring to a way of serving the ball in tennis.  Or, at one time, cricket

10a   Get together when entertaining graduates (5)
AMASS:  A synonym of when containing (entertaining) some usual graduates

11a   Hard-up criminal in seclusion (6)
PURDAH:  An anagram (criminal) of HARD UP

12a   Losing heart, forty-niner dynamited to get edge (8)
FRONTIER:  An anagram (dynamited) of all but the central letters (losing heart …) of FORT[y n]INER

13a   Reportedly smell lubricant and shy away (6)
RECOIL:  The answer sounds like (reportedly …) smell or stink (4) and a lubricant

15a   Hold up single actor (8)
STALLONE:  Hold up or delay followed by the number associated with single

18a   Dance enthusiast, about to be replaced by daughter, is able to perform (8)
FANDANGO:  Link together an enthusiast or devotee and a (3,2) phrase meaning "is able to perform" in which the single-letter Latin abbreviation for about is replaced by the genealogical abbreviation for daughter

19a   Remove from place on security council? (6)
UNSEAT:  Split (2,4) the answer could describe a place on the Security Council of the United Nations

21a   Unnecessary bait in front of ship (8)
NEEDLESS:  Bait or annoy comes before (in front of, in an across clue) the usual abbreviated ship

23a   Nail chorus heard to be tricky (6)
TAXING:  The answer sounds like (… heard) a small nail and a verb synonym of chorus

26a   Fruity request? (5)
APPLY:  Here you want a word that could, whimsically, describe something that's fruity like an apple  Feeling some déjà vu here

27a   Understand European politician is overcome by terrible heat (9)
EMPATHISE:  The single letter for European and a usual politician are both followed by IS from the clue contained in (overcome by) an anagram (terrible) of HEAT

28a   Abba  solos  wow  Anna? (11)
PALINDROMES:  I have never seen anything like this brilliant clue – it's a quadruple definition by example!  Look for something which the four words in the clue are all examples of.  Consider the clue read backwards



1d    Wreck meal to welcome Conservative (7)
SCUPPER:  A light evening meal containing (to welcome) the single-letter abbreviation for Conservative

2d    Haggard  equestrian? (5)
RIDER:  A double definition.  With a couple of checkers in place the answer was pretty clear, but I spent a while trying to think of a connection to Merle Haggard before finally turning to Mr Google.  There I learned that the first definition actually refers to Haggard the English novelist, not Haggard the outlaw country singer.  YouTube has no videos of the novelist, so here's Merle (with Willie Nelson)

3d    Drink a small measure served up by woman (9)
MARGARITA:  Find the best cocktail by joining A from the clue to a small metric unit of mass and reversing that lot (served up, in a down clue), and then appending a woman's name (the Beatles sang about a meter maid by that name).  Did not have to look far to find a pic for this clue

4d    Warm cloth: awesome clothes (4)
THAW:  A lurker.  The second and third words of the clue are hiding (… clothes) the answer

5d    Hard-hearted former pupil of the French judge (8)
OBDURATE:  Concatenate the usual abbreviated former male pupil, a French word meaning "of the", and judge or assess

6d    Mostly remain in disgrace (5)
STAIN:  Stick together all but the last letter (mostly) of remain or wait and IN from the clue

7d    Increase in post regularly received by upmarket press (7)
UPSURGE:  Alternate letters (… regularly) of PoSt are sandwiched between (received by) the single letter for upmarket or upper-class and press or encourage

8d    Cold friend only in underwear (8)
CAMISOLE:  Connect together the abbreviation for cold, a French friend, and a synonym of only

14d   Disdain shown by new office worker in bed (8)
CONTEMPT:  Fuse together the abbreviation for new and a non-permanent office worker, and then insert that lot in a small bed

16d   Canals spoiled their oddly northern city (9)
LANCASTER:  I had no problems finding this week's northern city.  An anagram (spoiled) of CANALS is followed by the odd letters of ThEiR

17d   Spreadsheet program, according to Sean Connery, that's easily cracked (8)
EGGSHELL:  The answer is, apparently, a Scots homophone how actor Sean Connery would pronounce (according to Sean Connery) of Microsoft's spreadsheet programCan any Scottish readers confirm that this homophone works?

18d   Sweet and loving worker (7)
FONDANT:  Loving or affectionate with the usual worker insect

20d   Hair covering hide of imposing beast (7)
TIGRESS:  A long lock of hair containing (covering) the outer letters of (hide of) ImposinG

22d   Taking top off, behave badly in store (3,2)
LAY UP:  A (4,2) phrase meaning behave badly loses its first letter (taking top off, in a down clue).

24d   Detective visiting TT venue, in a manner of speaking (5)
IDIOM:  A usual detective inserted in (visiting) the abbreviation for the venue of a famous motorcycle Tourist Trophy

25d   Drive second, going over flag (4)
SPIN:  The single letter for second followed by (going over, in a down clue) the flag marking a hole on a golf course


Thanks to our editor for a very enjoyable solve.  I smiled at how he effectively signed the crossword in 16d.  Top clues for me included 10a, 12a, 19a, 26a, 27a, 3d, 20d, and 22d.  My favourite was the very clever 28a.  Which clues did you like best?


The Quick Crossword pun:  RIM  + SKI + CORSA + COUGH = RIMSKY-KORSAKOV

118 comments on “DT 29146

  1. 28a quite the best clue I have seen for some time. Quite exceptional. Overall this was certainly at the tougher end of the setting spectrum but marvellously enjoyable. An absolute gem.

    Thanks and congratulations to CL and many thanks to Mr K.

  2. Very enjoyable with 17D favourite followed closely by 28A . Last entry 12A for no particular reason .

    Great fun and pun today .

    Thank you

  3. I’m afraid I can’t agree with our revered Mr K, as I found this one quite plain. Solved in **/*** time with no clue giving me much of a work-out. The only one I might have struggled with was 11a, but I had just read it an hour earlier in the front pages of the paper! This means I am going to struggle tomorrow.

    On the use of aids, I absolutely agree. Try to avoid them, but use one to get you going when you have stalled. There is an immense feeling of satisfaction to complete the grid without them, though.

    Many thanks to CL and MR K.

    Just a thought. When CL sets the puzzle, who accepts it for publication?

    1. Hi Malcolm – take a look at comment 59 left by our illustrious editor on DT 29140. That might answer your question!

              1. Nesting is, and always has, been there In order that the windows don’t get narrower and narrower the indentation have been removed from smaller screens but you can still tell from the boxes surrounding the comments which are nested.

                1. I took Bluebird’s comment to mean that the nested comment indentation had suddenly increased on his iPad. Could there be a difference in behaviour between landscape and portrait orientations?

                    1. Thanks BD.
                      It was nice while it lasted, but not the end of the world if it doesn’t.

                      Incidentally, I generally look at my iPad in landscape.

  4. A really excellent puzzle (*** for difficulty **** for enjoyment. It had some witty clues and my favourites were 28a (brilliant) and 23a and 17d. Thanks to Mr K and to CL.

  5. Loved it all apart from 23a. Just into ***/****. We seem to be having a James Bond week so I’ll make 17d my favourite, but I agree 28a is a great clue both as a surface and as a device to the answer. Thanks to Mr L and to Mr K, especially for the explanation of 2d which had to be what it was but I couldn’t be bothered googling for an explanation of the first definition.

  6. I found this challenging but enjoyable. Because I am sitting on a sunny beach in Greece, I stuck at it. Eventually I got it all bar 6D. This blog had not been posted so I looked up the answer. No complaints about 6D.

    I did enjoy 28A but I needed letters 1 and 3 for the light to dawn.

    Thanks to all.

  7. Delightful puzzle – thanks to Mr L and the elusive Mr K.
    I think the 17d clue refers to a characteristic of Mr Connery’s speech in particular rather than to Scots in general (“Yesh, Mish Moneypenny”).
    The correct Haggard was first to come to mind because we quite often get clues along the lines of ‘Haggard woman (3)’ to get the title of his most famous book.
    The clues I liked included 21a, 26a and 17d but favourite has to be 28a.

    1. I agree about Sean Connery’s speech being thought by some to sound as though his s sounds are sh sounds.
      Difficult for me to say, being Scottish , whether everyone in Scotland sounds their s sounds as sh. I don’t think so, though…or at least they don’t sound like that to me. Ora Meringue ?

  8. Totally agree with you on use of aids!! I always start with ones which give least help and then progressively move to ones which help more. This improves my solving capabilities over time.
    If you don’t agree with aids then why are you using this site??

    1. Welcome from me as well, Potter, and thanks for sharing your thoughts. Good point in your last sentence – we’d be out of a job if nobody needed any help with these puzzles.

    2. To your question as to why use this site if you don’t like aids, it’s not just about the aids, although the hints are so very much appreciated. I think most of us come here daily, not just for the hints, but to read the amusing and interesting comments from the bloggers, to share comments with other crossword fans. Who feel like friends over time.

      1. Very true, Lizzie. There are also thousands of brief visits every day from lurkers who are presumably just seeking help with a clue or two.

  9. Brilliant puzzle; thanks to setter and totally agree with the blogger on 4*/4*. Favourite, like others, was 17D. Most enjoyable. Use of aids? I feel I have failed if I have to resort to them even if it prolongs the exercise!! Perhaps that’s just me.

  10. Enjoyed this puzzle, though I found it difficult.
    Had to resort to aids for my last in which was 23a….never been good with hardware.

    I agree with Mr K about aids.

    Thanks to the setter and to Mr K.

  11. Very annoyingly I pressed the wrong button on my Kindle about two thirds of the way through which revealed all the answers. However don’t think I would have got the James Bond one but I was thoroughly enjoying this puzzle. Many thanks to all. Any tips on how to get rid of the irritating ad choices that keep popping in?

    1. One of our contributors suggested to me a while ago that all I needed to do was to install ad-blocker. Takes seconds, even for an IT dummy like me, and works like a charm.

  12. My appreciation of this excellent puzzle grew as I progressed into it. 2 and 17d, which I could only justify by the shh sound in the second syllable, were bung ins but obvious with the checkers.
    I thought the wordplay for 18a was brilliant but my favourite three were 23, 26 and 28a.
    As a Lancastrian by birth nice to see 16d getting a mention by the appropriately named setter.
    Many thanks to CL and Mr K for his customary excellent review.

  13. Thought of the right Haggard straight away, in fact I hadn’t heard of Mr K’s alternative! Who could forget ‘she who shall be obeyed’ from his possibly best known book. I also agree with Gazza that 17d probably applies specifically to Sean Connery (THE one and only James Bond) rather than to his nationality.

    1&18a get a mention for the sound of the words (and for Procul Harum), my favourite was 17d with 28a sliding into second place.

    Thanks to our crossword editor and to Mr K for the blog – I’d like to bet that the inclusion of 3d was specifically for you!
    PS Not sure why, when you click onto a puzzle, all the contents of the right hand column have slid down to below the review – most discombobulating.

    1. Hi, Jane. I did wonder about 3d, but I’m not sure that the setter is aware of its significance. Regardless, it’s great to see it in a puzzle.

    2. Me too with Mr. Haggard. His book used to show up regularly, not so much now, bet she’ll come back in vogue.

  14. The more conversant I become with the idiosyncrasies of some setters such as CL and indeed Dada the more smoothly my solving seems to go and today is a case in point – I certainly enjoyed the endeavour. The North was less demanding than the South. 17d was a bung-in and I’m not now much wiser. 28a is clever. Thank you Messrs. Ed and K.

  15. Absorbing puzzle – but quite tough. Liked 15a and 17d, but COTD certainly 28a – brilliant. Thanks to Mr Lancaster and Mr K for excellent hints.

  16. enjoyable puzzle. last one in was 23a it took a lot of looking at even after reading Mr K’s hint.

  17. Superb puzzle, thanks Chris.

    Agree 28a is one of the best clues we have seen in a long time, and easy when you “see” it!

    Managed without Mr K’s excellent (No Scots homophone there!) hints but they made great reading afterwards.

  18. 4*/4.5*. I thought this was a brilliant puzzle, very challenging and supremely enjoyable so much so that it would be churlish to mention two minor niggles.

    Picking a favourite from such a good selection was also challenging and, in the final analysis, 28a takes first place for me hotly pursued by 17d.

    The review matched the brilliance of the puzzle, and it was great to hear Procul Harem again as well as Willie and Merle, two of the grand old baddies of Country, the latter sadly no longer with us.

    Many thanks to Messrs L & K.

    1. Thanks, RD. I was very amused by Merle inviting Willie to duet on what was once a song seriously opposing long hair, marijuana use, etc.

      1. It was my only niggle as I thought it unfair there was no indication a French word was required (albeit a very common one)

        1. Very minor niggle but yes, as the/of etc are usually indicated even though as you say a very common one.

  19. A great puzzle. Many thanks to our esteemed setter.
    Like others above, I really enjoyed 17d, 23a and 28a.
    I saw “cold” and “only” in 8d and immediately biffed cashmere, which of course makes no sense at all! The answer is very well explained both verbally and pictorially by Mr K!

  20. I did this one on the bus over the Cat and Fiddle in “real time”, so I can comment on the same day for a change. I found it an excellent puzzle with great clues providing a quite stiff challenge and much enjoyment/entertainment. My favs of a fine bunch: 12a, 28a, 17d. 3.5* / 4*

    * Mr K, 12a. This is a cracking clue, but I don’t recall (probably, I’ve forgotten) seeing dynamited (very apt in this clue) as an anagram indicator before?

    * 17d. I’m not sure that this is a generic “Scots homophone”, but more of a Scots accent combined with a slight, and individual, speech impediment – and quite charming it is, too.

    1. Hi, Jose. Re 12a, I can’t find any previous examples of dynamited being used as an anagram indicator. It’s a good one, especially for this clue.

  21. Having picked up paper at lunchtime I then planned to do some ironing but decided to do the crossword instead in view of Mr K’s assessment of it. You could say a challenge! Well this was truthfully my swiftest solve ever. Only slightly held up in NE. Once I got 8d after wondering whether “All in one” had been contracted into one word for an undergarment10a and 6d swiftly followed. My last and least favourite was 7d. Is this a double unch? Outstanding favourite was 28a. Did not properly parse 17d. Just assumed it was a quote from Bond but now understand. Definitely Connery rather than Scottish. Truly amazing. Thank you Mr N City and Mr K. I dare say the widely varying view of difficulty has something to do with solvers having many different origins. 2d was a gimme to me whereas I had not heard of Mr K’s person of the same name.

  22. Excellent puzzle and a nice challenge. Got there in the end. In fact, I think the Toughie took me slightly less time today. I worked out what 18a might be and was pleased to find the dictionary agreed with me – so a new word for me to try and remember. Nothing really wrong with 16d but ‘dissed’ is such an awful word. Lots of entertaining clues amongst them, 12a, 23a, 28a, 7d with top spot just going to 17d. Nice one CL.

  23. What a wonderful puzzle today! I had to have a little electronic help with a couple of clues but managed to complete without resorting to BD’s hints, which does not happen often. Agree with all that 28a is a great clue with 17d a close second.

    Thanks to all concerned.

    1. Hi, Steve. I was told that you recently raised “HIJKLMNO (5)” as a possible best clue of all time. That’s an interesting one. In his Chambers Crossword Manual Friday setter Don Manley attributes that clue to pioneering composer Torquemada. Rebus-like clues such as that one are certainly amusing, but today they would be regarded as unfair because, among other things, they do not contain a definition. “Gegs (9,4)” is another well-known clue along those lines. I do wonder how many solvers today would get the answer and how many would just admire it in hindsight. “Tawer? (7,5)” or “L-Girl (5,5)?” anyone?

      The approach that John Bee mentioned was used in The Telegraph in a 2009 Jay puzzle as “? (8)”. The blog for that puzzle implies that it’s actually a chestnut.

      I’m not sure that I can identify an all-time favourite, but I do find Elgar’s “I say nothing (3)” memorable.

      1. I quite like the odd Rebus-style clue but I know they’re not strictly correct so not to be overused

        {water, scrambled eggs, running water, mixed grill, clueless, ego}

          1. That one really is excellent. And with Rufus you do know that the clue’s likely to be a cryptic definition of something.

        1. Thanks, LbR. I’ve now hidden your answers under a spoiler button. I had in mind a BOILING WATER for “Tawer? (7,5)”, but that’s always going to be an issue with that type of clue.

      2. Well, I think the originality makes such clues acceptable if not overused. After all, there are frequently clues not quite fitting established patterns. But you’re right, they are tricky. Any chance of getting the answers, or even better, hints, for the clues you mentioned? Oops, just saw the reply, beat me by 15m. Thanks

      3. Like Advent or Christmas, but not Lent? (4)
        Pa bear? (5)

        One of my faves was Virgilius(?) – Spots setter playing Dawson (7)

  24. Off track in 24 Down!!!

    As anybody with a love for the Isle of
    Man, motorcycles, or extreme sports
    knows, the acronym TT stands for
    Tourist Trophy, and NOT “time trial”.

    The TT races have been held on a track
    comprising more than 37 miles of sinuous public road for more than a century, with a lap
    record that currently stands at more than
    135 mph. It is rightly regarded as one of
    the supreme challenges in sports, thoroughly
    meriting it’s place in the crosswording lexicon.

    1. Oops. Thanks, John, I will correct 24d. I did know from BD’s Pedant’s Guide that TT is often expanded incorrectly in crosswords, but I mis-remembered which possibility was correct.

  25. Sitting feeling very lucky and thankful that Dorian is just above us, and only treating us to Tropical Storm winds, unlike the devastation it has wreaked on the Bahamas, and may yet do on the East Coast north of us.
    Only about half of the crossword done so far, so definitely finding it a tricky one today.
    Re Mr K’s question on aids. While I get immense satisfaction when solving unaided, the hints provided on this site are a godsend. When stuck I look here, but firstly only at the hints with pictures. That will usually get me back on track, with enough checkers. If I am still stuck I then work my way through the Across hints, but by that point, satisfaction is zero. If I still can’t finish, then I throw in the towel. Using aids for too many clues just defeats the purpose for me. I never use anagram solvers, if I can’t solve it without, while having all the letters, I feel really dumb. I don’t care for the clues that are part synonym and part anagram. My tiny brain just turns off then. If totally exasperated by a clue, and at weekends when there is no answer, I’ll resort to Danword to try to get moving.

    1. Thanks, Lizzie. Glad that Dorian is proving less of a threat than he might have. As you’ve probably realized, some of my pictures illustrate the wordplay rather than the answer (e.g. 22d) and some are only indirectly related to the clue or the answer (e.g. 2d).

  26. A thoroughly enjoyable ****** with a cup of tea this afternoon. A big thank you to Mr L and Mr K whose hints for once I didn’t need. As usual the greater the number of stars for difficulty the easier I find it. It’s the one star ones I dread! Favourite clues 12a and 16a. As for aids, I would not be where I am in crossword solving today had I not used aids and learnt by them. I also think you still need skill to know which word from a list fits the clue so wordfinders are not huge cheats (IMO!)

    1. Hi, Tydfan, and thanks for sharing your thoughts. I’m afraid that I’ve had to redact your comment slightly because site policy is that we don’t give solving times.

  27. This was a terrific crossword from Mr L. I’m surprised at the number of people on here finding it tricky to solve though; I found it no more than fairly gentle. Different folks, different strokes once again! 28a was very clever, but I have to say it was very obvious. I preferred 11a.
    Thanks to Mr Lancaster, and to Mr K for the review.

  28. All to do with wave-length and whether you’re on the right one or not.
    I didn’t have too much trouble with the answers but working out why took ages with several of them.
    My favourite is either 28a or 17d.
    With thanks to Mr Lancaster and to Mr K.

  29. I did not find that too difficult. I did it in fits and starts while at work so maybe it took longer than I thought. 23a was the most 23a clue today and I had a glance at the hint before it fell.
    I did like 28a and have given some thought as to how to clue that word myself but failed to come up with anything as good as Mr L.
    Thanks to Mr K Mr L.
    As an aside yesterday S Cowling was asking about favourite clues. He offered
    HIJKLMNO (5)
    I gave the following
    __________ (3,3,3,1,4)
    I know you have an extensive database of clues do you have any particular faves?

  30. Fantastic puzzle, CL, I just loved it. Not the easiest puzzle to solve but huge satisfaction.
    I worked 17d backwards, had the checking letters so it had to be right, so then looked for the spreadsheet.
    I never did get 23a, even with word search.
    Fave had to be 28a, that was a real epiphany after staring at it for ages, but 17d was special too.
    Thanks to CL for the fun and to Mr. K for the hints and pics, needed a couple unravelling, 6d for one.

    As aids, I use a word search that has anagram solver and dictionary, and a thesaurus. I don’t like Don’s word, I don’t like one that gives the answer, I prefer to winkle it out on my own. If I need to resort to that, I’d rather just go straight to BD.

  31. Well that one was a top drawer stunner & I enjoyed every bit of it. Top half went in without much of a fight but bottom half put up stiff resistance.
    3.5*/4.5* favourites 28ac, & 17d.
    Many thanks to Chris Lancaster for such a corker & MrK for review & direction on a few that stumped me!

  32. Well, “am I alone in thinking” this was a difficult puzzle. From the previous comments it would appear so! I like to try and do it without aids but now Mr K has given me two websites to use I feel I will be tempted.. I have always just relied on the hints in the blog to get me going again. 28 a was a brilliant clue. Thank you Mr Lancaster and Mr K.

    1. No, Jen, you are definitely not alone in thinking that this was a difficult puzzle.

      Regarding the tempting word search tools, they still leave most of the work to the solver. We still have to identify the answer that fits the definition and the wordplay, and then figure out how to parse the clue. All they really do is supplement the vocabulary that we’ve already memorised.

  33. Not sure about this puzzle…some good clues for sure but I found it very tough and resorted to too much help from Mr K and elsewhere for it to be really enjoyable for me.

    Spotted the northern city very quickly….it’s only five miles from us and does indeed have a canal!

    Thanks Mr L for the workout and Mr K for the very helpful tips.

  34. Great fun with 28a being our stand out favourite. This weeks geography much more user friendly than last week’s one. Interesting to note that from where we live more than 99% of the cities and towns in the world are ‘northern’.
    Thanks CL and Mr K.

  35. Finally finished over a late lunch, and definitely a **** difficulty today. It was a good brain work out, with 28a being my COTD, even though I needed Mr K’s hints to get it.

  36. A wonderful puzzle today … lots of gimmes to start and a few very difficult ones to finish.

    The Sean Connery (Shame Spawned) one came second after the very clever 28a.

    Ps. Am I right in thinking that the Monday Cryptic Prize Puzzle (on puzzles.telegraph) is always the work of Chris Lancaster. Always very entertaining.

    1. I don’t know who sets the Puzzles Site’s Monday prize cryptics. If Chris comments today, perhaps he’ll tell us if they’re his.

      1. Feeling very smug that I got the Haggard and Connery ones straight off. Only got half a dozen or so clues today, mind… Found it very difficult – even with the marvellous hints.

        1. Welcome to the blog, Semaj (is that James reversed?). Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this one, and congratulations on getting those two tricky clues. Glad you found the hints useful for some of the others.

  37. I thought this was a great puzzle, not 4* for difficulty but definitely 4* for enjoyment. I loved 28a, initially tricky then so obvious and clever. As always, easy when you’ve done it!
    Thanks to Mr K and setter

  38. Breaking my self-imposed exile…I thought this was brilliant.
    Regarding 2d, King Solomon’s Mines was a great read as a lad.
    Thanks all.

    1. Hi Hoofit,
      Guess I should put it on my reading list – don’t recall anything other than the title.

  39. What a fab puzzle. Enjoyed the slog and especially the estimable 17d. Would never have got 28a without the checkers, but what a clue! Thanks to Chris 16d and Mr K.

  40. This was a fantastic crossword. Really tricky and took me ages to complete, but ultimately got there.

    So many great clues – 23a, 26a, 28a,17d, 20d, to name but a few…

    Loved it!

    1. Welcome to the blog, Tim, and thanks for sharing your experience with the puzzle. I hope that you’ll keep commenting.

  41. Most enjoyable and very satisfying.
    Gratifying to complete unaided apart from checking a spelling.
    Certainly for me a **** for difficulty and five for enjoyment.
    Loved 17d
    Many thanks to the setter and to Mr. K for the nicely illustrated review.

  42. Finally managed to finish this last night (having done Wednesday’s in the meantime) – more-or-less unaided but a communal effort. Brilliant puzzle – especially 28a, our last one in. Thanks to Mr L and Mr K (although probably too late for anyone to see). By the way, I think you have a point, Mr K (if you happen to see this), about using aids instead of staring at a clue for hours on end, which is what I tend to do – often not even moving onto another clue. Was also interested to see your list of aids – could that paragraph be incorporated into one of BD’s headings, perhaps? My stalwarts are the BRB and the SRB and occasionally a very elderly Crossword Companion.

    1. Thanks for that, Sarah. Communal solving can be fun – perhaps the next time I do a survey I’ll ask how many readers solve that way.

      BD has a list of aids on his crypticcrosswords.net site. I’ll see if that can be updated with the suggestions that have been made above.

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