DT 29160 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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DT 29160

Daily Telegraph Cryptic No 29160

Hints and tips by Kath

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BD Rating — Difficulty ***Enjoyment ***

Hello everyone. I haven’t quite made up my mind about this one yet so I’ll just tell you a few general thoughts. The style felt unfamiliar; the clues are admirably brief; the setter is not Ray T; there was a slightly odd mixture of some very straightforward ones and a few that completely floored me for ages. In other words I really don’t know which is why I’ve gone for 3* for both difficulty and enjoyment. Over to all of you now.

Please leave a comment telling us how you got on today.

In the hints the definitions are underlined and the answers are hidden under ANSWER so only do that if you want to see one.


8a        Star among compulsive gamblers (4)
VEGA — A lurker or hidden answer which is indicated by ‘among’

9a        Uranium supplied to Royal Navy vessel (3)
URN — The chemical symbol for uranium is followed by R[oyal] N[avy]

10a       Explanation senora concocted (6)
REASON — An anagram (concocted) of SENORA

11a       Flowers for Molly and Poldy? (6)
BLOOMS — In the singular form these ‘flowers’ was the surname of the fictional protagonist of James Joyce’s Ulysses – his first name was Leopold (Poldy) and his wife was called Marion (Molly) – no, I didn’t know any of this but Mr Google was very helpful, thankfully!

12a       Empress wrongly claiming India for estate (8)
PREMISES — An anagram (wrongly) of EMPRESS contains (claiming) the letter which is represented by India in the phonetic alphabet

13a       Decline to enter a dubious agreement (7,8)

15a       Graduates quickly finding instrument (7)
BASSOON — The abbreviation for some graduates of the arts is followed by a synonym for quickly or shortly

17a       Figure provided in month before November? (7)
OCTAGON — The abbreviation for a month in the autumn, another way of saying before or in the past and then the letter that is represented by November in the phonetic alphabet

20a       Event for the Manx people? (5-6,4)
THREE-LEGGED-RACE — How the major event held in the Isle of Man could be described as it’s over three days

Please forget this load of twaddle and I’ll try again – thanks to everyone who pointed out how the clue really works. It’s nothing at all to do with the TT races and is all to do with the symbol for the Isle of Man.


23a       Point of no return? (3,5)
TAX HAVEN — An off-shore country where no-one has to declare their wealth – not being terribly ‘up’ in financial matters I could easily be missing something here!

25a       Sponsored youth in gallery performing (6)
GODSON — The gallery is the highest and cheapest seats in a theatre and it’s followed by a synonym for performing or showing

26a       British monarch keeps bird in hat (6)
BOWLER — The one letter abbreviation for B[ritish] and the two letters for our queen (monarch) contain a bird

27a       Everyone in dining room denied starter (3)
ALL — A dining room or other large room without its first letter (denied starter)

28a       First couple unseen in country garden (4)
EDEN — A Scandinavian country minus its first two letters (first couple unseen) – the answer was obvious but it did take me ages to see why



1d        Flier a legendary charmer (6)
MERLIN — I think this is a double definition – the second one is a wizard


2d        Noblewoman in pub with one’s son (8)
BARONESS — A synonym for a pub is followed by the ONE’S from the clue and then the abbreviation for S[on]

3d        Film spun as bold US venture (6,9)

4d        Check page penned by six-footer (7)
INSPECT — A six legged creature – most of them either bite or sting – contains the abbreviation for P[age]

5d        Red uneasy with feelings about possessing wealth? (9,6)
FRIEDRICH ENGELS — I think those who really know what they’re talking about would call this an ‘all in one’ clue but it’s also an anagram (uneasy) of RED and FEELINGS  which contains (about) a synonym for ‘possessing wealth’. Time to quit while I’m winning here – I did get into an awful muddle with this one and it took me ages to even get this far!

6d        Isle that rises to enclose one Pacific paradise (6)
TAHITI — Begin with the abbreviation for I[sle], THAT (from the clue) containing (to enclose) the letter that looks like a one and then reverse the whole thing (rises)

7d        Daughter regularly taking ecstasy is finished (4)
DONE — The abbreviation for D[aughter] a little word meaning regularly taking (medication of some kind) and finally the abbreviation for E[cstasy]

14d      Student loves convenience (3)
LOO — The letter that has to be on a car to tell others that the driver hasn’t yet passed his or her driving test is followed by two letters that look like zero or a love score in tennis

16d      Like hard wood (3)
ASH — A short conjunction that means like or in the same way and then the abbreviation for H(ard)

18d      Notice about game being shortened (8)
ABRIDGED — A notice or some publicity contains (about) a card game for four people

19d      Centre for refugees with an African (7)
UGANDAN — The middle two letters (centre for) of refugees, another word for ‘with’ and finally the ‘AN’ from the clue

21d      Prince Henry in river to breathe out (6)
EXHALE — A river in Somerset and Devon contains (in) the abbreviaton for Henry

22d      Necklace good enough to be possessed by singer (6)
CHOKER — This American singer who is so useful to crossword setters used to be part of a duo – she goes round the outside (to be possessed) of two letters that mean ‘good enough’ or acceptable

24d      Long time taken in Mycenae once (4)
AEON — Just as we started we finish off with another lurker or hidden answer indicated by ‘taken in’ – he’s hiding in the last two words of the clue

I think I’ll leave it up to all of you to pick out particular clues for mentions.


84 comments on “DT 29160

  1. I liked this drill with it’s elegant surfaces and interesting GK gems in 1d, 5d & 11a. I interpreted the answer to 20a as being an allusion to the symbol for the IoM. Thanks Setter and Kath.

    1. I agree about 20a, if Kath is referring to the TT, it lasts about 14 days in all, I think. And did you notice 23a to follow it?

  2. Completed in *** time, but only because I spent far too long trying to solve the long anagrams before resorting to electronics.

    I think the fact that my last three in ( 13a, 3d & 5d) all contained ‘foreign’ words says it all.

    11a was a bung in, but I didn’t know why and I didn’t know the film at 3d. We have had plenty of discussion about how this use of GK either heightens or reduces the enjoyment, I am in the latter camp.

    Many thanks to the setter and Kath.

      1. I think it’s always the same with a puzzle with perhaps a bit too much GK. if you know the answers it feels like fun and if you don’t, it’s a bit tedious, especially if they take up a large number of squares and the checkers are common letters.
        As it happens, I’d heard of a lot of these, but they didn’t emerge till after a lot of scribbling and wrestling.
        I didn’t know 1d was a bird. And only remembered the IOM flag because there were a lot about for Mark Cavendish at last week’s Tour of Britain.

        1. For me, a good puzzle is a combination of clever wordplay and amusing surfaces. An anagram of an obscure foreign name without a proper definition is neither and as for 11a, it’s not at all cryptic nor can the answer be deduced from the clue
          I have no problem expanding my vocabulary but Googling obscure references is not my idea of fun and should not be the key to solving a cryptic crossword in my view
          Rant over – have a nice day everyone!

  3. For me this was **** for difficulty, part of the problem being the awkward construction of the grid. The other part of the problem was the long anagrams, three of which needed GK in the solving. This restrictwd the checkers for other clues. Altogether it was not altogether enjoyable, although it gave a strenuous mental work out (** for enjoyment. I didn’t really have a favourite clue. Thank you to Kath for some much-needed explanations and thanks to the mystery setter.

  4. I thought this was firmly gping into the stinker pile, but it turned out to be a crossword of two halves, east and west. No paricular favourites but 5d completely stumped me. Not the greatest clue.
    However thanks to Kath and Setter whiever it may be.

  5. This took me the same time as the Beam and my concluding thought was that if this is Mr X with his back page hat on, I’ll be interested to see what we get in the Toughie tomorrow

    My last one in was 5d which I think was a clever all-in-one

    Thanks to Mr X (I presume) and Kath

    1. I had the checking letters for the second word of 5d and it just “looked like” it could be, so just bunged it in, misspelling the first word which threw off 12a.

  6. It’s 30 degrees Celsius here in Turkey where I’m on holiday. My brain boiled over 5d until I read the blog, thanks Kath. It was a stinker of a clue but we wouldn’t want it too straightforward. Thanks again to Kath and Mr Ron.

  7. Oh dear – apologies everyone. It looks as if I’ve really messed up with 20a and, no, I didn’t notice the clue that followed that one but now that you mention it . . .
    The trouble with playing this ‘hinty game’ is that you win some and you lose some! :oops:

    1. I don’t think you need to apologise, or feel remotely embarrassed, Kath.
      I regard this as a good natured, grown-up community, not a schoolroom and I think nearly everyone would agree. If anyone says they don’t get the wrong end of the stick sometimes, they’re liars or else, in the case of GK, spending far too much time on Wiki….

  8. The first three flew in but after that I slowed to a slowish but steady solve. I really enjoyed it, thought it had a very original and fresh feel to it.
    I quite liked 5d, along with 20 and 23a plus 22d.
    11a was a complete bung in so thanks to Kath for doing the research to justify it and for her great review, not withstanding the parsing of 20a. Nice to know you “hinters” are fallible! 😉Thanks to the setter too

  9. I thought this was something of an oddity and didn’t find it a particularly enjoyable solve.
    Quite happy to admit to needing Mr Google’s help with both 11a & 5d.

    23a was the star of the show for me and stands alone on the podium.

    Thanks to our setter – and apologies for not being on your wavelength. Thanks also to Kath for staying up late to write the review when I’m sure she’d have much preferred to be tucked up in bed!

  10. Unlike others i don’t mind some GK in a puzzle as it’s preferable to obscure words only found in specialist dictionaries. Surely a founding father of Marxism and a film regularly voted as one of the best movies of all time are not esoteric though Joycean characters may well be.

  11. Somewhere around a ***/*** for me today.
    Last in was 11a and a bit of a logical ‘bung in’
    5d was a contentious clue, needed all the checking letters in the surname before the penny dropped, I suppose it was an all in clue with red being the answer.
    Liked 20a ,used to go to the TT often-Hailwood Honda 6 days and bought stickers for my helmet with the three legs and emblazoned motto quocunque jeseris stabit which for some reason I never forget.

  12. What Kath said! Having never even seen the book in question, I had no idea about Molly and Poldy until, like others, Google came to my assistance. Then, after staring down 5d for some time, with all the checkers, I had a brainwave (ha ha) on the surname with Google to the rescue again. Completed at a fast canter – 3.5*/2.5*.
    Favourites – a toss-up between 20a and 23a – and the coin has landed on its edge!
    Thanks to the setter and Kath – how is it you always seem to get the tricky Thursday puzzles to hint on?

    1. Hmmm – in reply to the last bit of your comment I think I must have been very naughty in a previous life and someone’s out to get me for it. :unsure:

  13. I reckon Kath’s summary of this is about right. I thought 5d was a ‘Toughie’ type clue. Ta to all.

  14. I really think that Thursdays have got a lot more interesting since Mr X (I presume that this is his) joined the back-page team.
    I thought today’s puzzle was great. I ticked 11a, 23a, 25a and 7d but my runaway favourite was the brilliant 5d.
    Thanks to the setter and Kath for her usual star act on the blog.

  15. The short words flew in but the longer anagrams took a bit of working out.
    Unlike some, I thought 5d was a great clue. My favourite though, was the wonderful 23a.
    Not too fond of 27a. If you come to dinner at Shabbo Towers, you will definitely not be fed in there!

    1. I’m just watching a re-run of Downton season 2, and there, the Hall can seat 20 soldiers (officers only of course) and a dog!

      My Hall doesn’t require a capital letter and could accommodate a dog, and maybe a Captain, but only with the front door closed.

  16. A steady completion until 5 down. Not clever enough to work it out and couldn’t get 25A either.
    Apart from these two, enjoyable.
    3*/3* for me
    Thanks Kath

  17. Definitely a *** for difficulty. As for enjoyment the rather long anagrams reduced it to **. But many thanks to Kath for her hints without which I would have been looking at the answers. To the setter thanks for flooring me do comprehensively.

  18. I was just thinking about 23a and wondering which would be best ……

    The IOM has Manchester weather, but fewer houses and more sheep.
    Andorra would be all right if it weren’t for the constant steepness and constant greyness.
    Monaco has the lovely climate, but can you park? Can you buggery!
    Grand Cayman – you can park, but there is the question of the occasional hurricane.

    You have to feel sorry for those having to make the choice, really …

      1. Now, would that be the one which a friend of mine, who lived there for 10 years, described as “50,000 alcoholics clinging to a rock”, which is, of course, grossly libellous….?

        1. We prefer to talk about 2000 people in Alderney in this way! As our alcohol prices now seem to be largely on a par with the UK (and our petrol is dearer) I think it’s slightly outdated. As they say, “it’s grim down south…” 🤣

  19. I thought this was mainly really good, I’m not averse to the odd bit of GK such as in the brilliant 5d but what on earth is one supposed to make of 11a? I’m completely with Letterbox Roy on that one. Needed a bit of googling help with 3d and 13a so overall ***/****, and have to say I loved the simple but funny quickie pun. Many thanks to Kath and Mr Ron.

  20. Thank you Kath for the review as there were a few clues that I couldn’t really understand why my answers were correct. As for GK I rather liked 5d but 11a confused me. Discovering that Poldy is a scarecrow in a series of children’s books didn’t help at all. I think Bluebird’s comment above hits the GK nail on the head.
    With regard to 23a Kath, can I say that as I live in one of these wicked, sinful places (not the three legged one) your understanding of them is, as you stated, slightly limited. Having spent over two hours this week talking to our local taxman the description “where no one has to declare their wealth” is disappointingly, slightly misleading…😂

    1. Hi Faraday,

      I met the scarecrow as well – got me quite discombobulated.
      As for the taxman – I don’t worry overly about him these days, nothing left to pay tax on!

  21. Sorry, not on my wavelength or to my liking today. 11a was incomprehensible (but thanks Google) and 5d seemed to me to be too much, too long, too hard, and in the wrong place. Sadly I found this all got a bit tedious in the end. Great to see so many enjoyed it, though – variety is indeed the spice of life!
    Many thanks to Kath, and to the setter.

  22. It is not very often that I make negative comments, but the GK in this one ruined an otherwise good puzzle. I always look forward to the Thursday puzzle, but for me, because of the GK, this was probably the least enjoyable crossword for a very long time.
    Sorry setter – not my cup of tea. Thanks to Kath for the review.

  23. With the exception of two clues I reckon that this has to be the easiest back page Telegraph crossword puzzle that I have ever attempted. For me 5 down was quite brilliant (that was one of my two exceptions) I needed electronic help for that one and is my clue of the month, closely followed by 23 across. The less I say about 11 across the better, except suffice it to say that without Googling Molly and Poldy I could have sat until Christmas and still not worked out the answer. Overall some good fun – thanks to the setter and of course to Kath.

  24. Of passing interest Molly and Poldy were two cloned sheep. That’s as far as I got on Google and put it down to a setters moment. It didn’t bother me too much but do agree that the GK was a tad higher than normal. Couldn’t spell Engels first name either not that I knew it.

  25. Thanks to the setter and to Kath for the review and hints. I really didn’t enjoy this at all. I thought the general knowledge really spoilt it. Had to Google Molly and Poldy, had never heard of a bird called a merlin or Friedrich Engels. Harrumph. The two long anagrams for the film and the agreement took me ages, because I hardly had any checkers. Needed the hints for 21a, could only think of far haven, doh!
    Favourite was 25a, was 4*/2* for me. Didn’t seem like a ProXimal puzzle to me.

  26. It’s a long time since a crossword has taken me as long as this one and I normally enjoy the tussle, but I can’t say I enjoyed today’s. I had to rely far too much on electronic assistance for my liking. As others have said, a little general knowledge in a cryptic is acceptable but there was far too much in this one.

    Still glad others enjoyed it and very well done indeed to Kath for sorting it all out.

  27. If it wasn’t for 11a and 5d, this would have been a very enjoyable challenge. I’m in the ‘I like a bit of GK’ camp, but these two were a bit beyond the pale (my pale, anyway). **/**** without the aformentioned, ****/** with them.. I liked 25a and 23a.

  28. ****/*. Started like a train and finished like a snail – but still needed several hints to get there. This was too much reliant on GK – 11a was a total mystery to me and still is given I can’t spend my mornings chasing through Google. Thanks to Kath for a heroic blog. Thanks also to the setter.

  29. I struggled a bit too. Not helped by putting Val Halla for 23a. Pondered 3d to try Adventure for the second word, then twigged correct answer.

    Didn’t get 11a despite being part the way through the book in question. I probably stopped reading a year ago!

    Thanks to all

  30. Yes, three stars for difficulty, perhaps nearing four stars ? Whereas the long anagrams are usually a godsend, these proved very stubborn indeed, meaning today they were more a hindrance than a help.
    Challenging certainly, very pleased to complete.

    Thanks to Kath and to setter. ***.5/ **.5.

  31. The GK really doesn’t bother me; rarely does it feature to any extent so when it does it’s no big deal. The occasional use of the web soon provides the answer.
    I must admit putting ‘beneath contempt’ in 13a early on did nothing for my solving ability but eventually I realised my mistake… eventually.
    My favourite clue was 20a, although it is a chestnut.
    Thanks to the setter for an interesting challenge, and Kath for her excellent review.i

  32. I really dislike GK in the crossword. Probably because There are a lot of films and psychologists!
    I did get them both eventually but that wore me out so I missed the bird and the haven which annoyed me because I knew them both.
    Thanks Kath and setter.

  33. Wotta strange puzzle! We were treated to easy peasy solves, such as the first three across, and other diabolical ones. I got to the point of just bunging in what fit, e.g., 11a, and it was right!
    I knew 20a, I’ve had it before, can’t remember where, and it was a huge help. I thought the anagram at 3d was pretty obvious, another help.
    I used e-help for 13a, I think I was suffering from fried brain at that point.
    I did enjoy a lot of the puzzle, there were only a few brain sizzlers, so not all bad.
    Thanks to our setter, and gazillion thanks to Kath for unravelling that lot, you must be brilliant!

  34. 5d stumped me completely. I’m still not sure if I completely understand why it’s the answer (beyond the anagram)!

    1. If you investigoogle 5d you’ll find he was a ‘red’ who had uneasy feelings about the possession of wealth

  35. Late on parade today and scanning the posts tells me this has caused quite a spread of opinions when it comes to difficulty. I put my hand up to say it took me a while to get on wavelength and even then I never really felt in control of the grid. 5d was a superb clue and easily outshone the rest.

    Thanks to our setter and well done to Kath for sorting out the hints.

  36. That was no walk in the park but an enjoyable excursion beginning in the West. Stupidly failed to cotton onto the significance of red in 5d so that was my last in in spite of having all the checkers in place but in the end it became runner-up to my 23a Fav. 14d amused. 7d was unparsed as was 11a bung-in. Initially toyed with another Pacific island for 6d. Thank you Mysteron and Kath.

  37. For once the GK part of this puzzle came to my aid… should I not have known these it would have taken considerably longer.
    A good assortment of clues , some of which were very well crafted.
    Many thanks to setter & Kath for today’s review

  38. I struggled today. 11a, 25a and 1d were my downfall. Feel pretty sore about the fail on 25 but put the other two down to a lack of general knowledge. My favourite clue was 20a, which ironically also requires some general knowledge. Not my favourite but then that’s probably because I didn’t finish !!!

  39. I found this a crossword of two halves some lovely easy but clever clues interspersed with a handful of diabolical ones 😳 ***/*** I managed to complete only because the easies were more numerous than the diabolical 😬 and there were plenty of checkers. My favourites were: 20a, 23a & 1d Big thanks to Kath for the explanations and also to the Setter (who possibly prefers to remain anonymous 🤔)

  40. Well I enjoyed most of (not 11a) that. I even knew most of (not 11a) the GK. I do agree with the comments about 11a though. It was a real stinker compounded by the source material (Ulysses) is probably a book very few start to read and even fewer persevere to the end. I was comotose long before page 10 and vowed never to touch the thing again!

    Thanks especially to Kath for the guidance and parsing and to the setter who I assume got at least as far as the Gorgonzola sandwich.

    1. Yarr Jim lad I be forgettin’ to chastise the scurvy knave John Bee for not mentioning international talk like a pirate day for this good day is the very same.

    2. I had the same experience with Ulysses except that I’m not sure that even got as far as page 10. It remains on one of the bookshelves glowering at me so perhaps now is the time to dust it off and try again. Mind you, I’ve still got a long way to go with Maggie Thatcher’s autobiography – keep having to stop reading in order to look up the plethora of acronyms!

  41. Another thoroughly enjoyable puzzle, so thanks to the setter and Kath, for a lot of enjoyment with this one. Needed the hint for 5d, and 11a was a bung in as I thought Molly and Poldy was a reference to some TV show we had never seen. Favourite by far was 23a, gave me a good giggle. I would love more from this setter.

  42. Certainly a very variable response to this puzzle. It was not a style that we recognised at all, so hope the setter pops in soon.
    We eventually did get it all sorted but there was a bit of Googling involved.
    Thanks Mr Ron and Kath.

  43. This was meant as a conversation piece as I drove to Devon with husband reading out the clues. We have just arrived after a three hour journey and a long way from completion. We’ll haver a gin i think.!

    1. Oh good – have one for me too – you and I, and husband too, deserve one – please make it a very large one with lot of ice and lemon!

  44. Really flew through this after a long day except for 5d who i had no idea who he was but my electronic helper did. Don;t really understand my last one in 25d, why is he a sponsored lad? Can;t work that one out.
    Apart from those 2 no problems, very enjoyable.
    Thx for the hints.

    1. Hi Brian,
      Try checking out the responsibilities taken on board by those involved in a christening service.

  45. Didn’t like that one bit but generally don’t like non Ray-T Thursdays anyway.
    Happy with GK, but not today’s, for reasons given.
    Thanks Kath for unravelling that lot, and the setter.

  46. I have to admit that I routinely use an anagram solver once I’ve spotted that a clue is actually an anagram. In the case of this puzzle, thank heavens I did, as they gave me a foothold. What a tricky solve! I got there, but needed Kath’s help rather a lot, and Mr Google’s too.
    Thank you Kath, and thanks to the mystery setter for the brain workout.

  47. Confess today has been a stressful one, checked 11a on the blog and the paper went straight in the bin. Life is too short.

  48. It’s getting late and what with one thing and another I’ve probably about had it for today.
    Thanks to everyone who has commented and to today’s setter.
    I’m off to bed now so night night to all and sleep well.

  49. Hard, hard work. Only just finished, but managed it without Hints.
    23a ‘Point of no return’ is a very clever clue – and another example of one that I defy anyone to have solved in its raw state – unless someone tells me otherwise.

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