DT 29236 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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DT 29236

Daily Telegraph Cryptic No 29236

Hints and tips by Mr K

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BD Rating  -  Difficulty ** Enjoyment ****

Hello, everyone.  As I wrote the hints for this excellent puzzle I realized that every clue (with the possible exception of 3d) has a wonderfully smooth surface reading and that many raised a smile.  It was a lot of fun.  I don't know who set it, but if our setter is reading today perhaps they'll take a bow in the comments section below?

Last Sunday's issue of the New York Times included a big puzzle supplement for the upcoming holidays.  Its "Super Mega Crossword" has an impressive 50 x 50 grid with over 700 (mostly not cryptic) clues!  I would not want to blog that.  The supplement also included a bunch of True/False wordplay questions that amused me, so I'll share a few of them here.  I'll add the Times' answers later today.

  1. "Sequoia" is the only common seven-letter word in English that contains all five vowels.  True or False?
  2. While many words start with a silent P, like "psychology" and "pseudonym", there is no common English word that ends in a silent P.  True or False?
  3. "Eat" is the only verb in English whose past tense is formed by moving the first letter to the end.  True or False?

In the hints below most indicators are italicized and precise definitions are underlined.  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 or display a bonus, possibly feline, illustration.  Please leave a comment telling us how you got on.



1a    Hand over alcohol -- it'll help when leaving the EU (8)
PASSPORT:  Hand over or give is followed by a fortified wine

5a    Evil spirits disturbed Slough (6)
GHOULS:  An anagram (disturbed) of SLOUGH 

10a   Euro result isn't fantastic -- embracing America is a risky game to play (7,8)
RUSSIAN ROULETTE:  An anagram (fantastic) of EURO RESULT ISN'T containing (embracing) an abbreviation of American


11a   Regularly acts in that place (7)
THEATRE:  A nice all-in-one clue where the entire clue is both definition and wordplay.  Alternate letters (regularly …) of ACTS inserted in a noun meaning "that place" 

12a   Went to bed really missing friend and bored (7)
RETIRED:  REALLY from the clue has a friend or supporter deleted (missing) and is followed by a synonym of bored 

13a   Is losing first hair? Editor's anxious (8)
STRESSED:  Concatenate iS from the clue without its first letter (… losing first), a long braid of hair, and the abbreviation for editor 

15a   Be in power shower, by the sound of it (5)
REIGN:  A homophone (by the sound of it) of a synonym of shower 

18a   More coarse fish almost about to return (5)
RUDER:  A fish related to the roach loses his last letter (almost) and is followed by the reversal (to return) of a usual short word for about or concerning 

20a   One who gives talks about parking next to European driver (8)
OPERATOR:  One who gives talks containing (about) the fusion of the single letters for parking and European 

23a   Red mark lethal? Not half! (7)
SCARLET:  A mark from an old wound with half (not half) of LETHAL 

25a   England player perhaps cheers -- not out, skipper! (7)
CAPTAIN:  Link together what an England player is an example of (perhaps), an informal synonym of cheers, and a short word for "not out".  Click on the picture if its relevance isn't clear 

26a   Cook in US: I've no clue about the French type of cooking (8,7)
NOUVELLE CUISINE:  An anagram (cook …) of IN US I'VE NO CLUE containing (about) "the" in French 

27a   Still following the Spanish team (6)
ELEVEN:  Still or calm following "the" in Spanish 

28a   Most of a piece of cake eaten by poor farm workers (8)
PEASANTS:  All but the last letter (most of) an adjective meaning "a piece of cake" contained in (eaten by) an informal word meaning poor or rubbish 



1d    Shame about a Republican's correspondence (6)
PARITY:  Shame or disappointment containing (about) both A from the clue and the single letter for Republican 

2d    Thought son cut speed round the bend (9)
SUSPECTED:  The genealogical abbreviation for son is followed by an anagram (round the bend) of CUT SPEED 

3d    Her pilot, up in the air, wanting love? This could help (7)
PHILTRE:  I suspect that our setter painted themselves into a corner here, because the checking letters accommodate only this obscure (to me, at least) word defined in Chambers as a drink or spell to excite love.  The setter has kindly clued it as an anagram (up in the air) of HER PILoT minus the usual letter for love (… wanting love), rendering it gettable from the wordplay once checkers are in place

4d    Compass needle moving right to the start (5)
RANGE:  A word meaning needle or annoy has the single letter for right moved to the start (moving right to the start

6d    Composer with sign of hesitation -- piece could be removed from here (7)
HOLSTER:  Gustav the composer with a short word of hesitation

7d    Golf club missing head, say (5)
UTTER:  A type of golf club loses its first letter (… missing head)

8d    Shooting pain's beginning in gardening activity (8)
SPEEDING:  Insert the first letter (…'s beginning) of Pain in an activity that happens in the garden 

9d    Bird  food (8)
PORRIDGE:  A double definition, with the first being slang.  In that context "bird" is short for "bird-lime", which is rhyming slang for "time" 

14d   Nip inside branch for business chat (4,4)
SHOP TALK:  Nip or move smartly inside a branch or stem 

16d   Separation, to a lion, is upsetting (9)
ISOLATION:  An anagram (upsetting) of TO A LION IS 

17d   Bearing gifts for the listener (8)
PRESENCE:  An homophone (for the listener) of a synonym of gifts 

19d   Dull relative? That is very impolite, ultimately (7)
RELIEVE:  Chain together the abbreviation for relative, the Latin abbreviation for "that is", the single letter for very, and the last letter of (… ultimately) impolitE 

21d   Makes a request of one eating fruit? On the contrary (7)
APPLIES:  On the contrary instructs us to invert the preceding wordplay, so we find the answer as some fruit containing (eating) the Roman one 

22d   Starts where thespians might be (6)
ONSETS:  The answer split (2,4) could be where thespians might be found 

24d   Occupy Vietnam? US endeavoured, to an extent (5)
AMUSE:  The answer is hidden as part of (… to an extent) of the remainder of the clue 

25d   Hide status? No time (5)
CACHE:  Delete the physics symbol for time (… no time) from a noun meaning status or distinction


Thanks to today’s setter for a very enjoyable solve.  Ticked clues for me included 1a, 11a, 15a, 26a, 28a, and 14d, with the top spot going to the smooth all-in-one 11a. I also liked the Quickie pun.  Which clues did you like best?


The Quick Crossword pun:  END + SIN + TIERS = ENDS IN TEARS

50 comments on “DT 29236

  1. Christmas must be coming. The back-pager wasn’t even on the penultimate page today. :negative:

    However it was an excellent puzzle, with the possible exception of 3d as mentioned by Mr K which was a strange clue for a strange word. My rating is 2*/4* and my joint favourites were 10a & 11a.

    Many thanks to Messrs R & K.

  2. Agree with Mr K that the surface reading (my greatest enjoyment if it fits the clue) was good and amusing. Many good clues such as 6D. A 1.5*\4.5* for me. Thanks to Mr K for some amusing hints – makes a great start to a wet day down here in Essex.

  3. This felt like an unfamiliar compiler and the clues were excellent with masterful examples of misdirection (2*/4*). It is hard to pick a favourite clue as there were so many good ones but I liked 17d and 20a. Thanks for the hints, Mr K and many thanks to the setter.

  4. I enjoyed this one very much. I’d never heard of 3d, but the anagram was obvious.

    Many thanks to the setter, and to Mr K.

  5. The brilliant anagram at 10a is right up there as a potential favourite along with the clever 11a. The ghastly 3d apart, this was a hugely worthwhile puzzle to solve and very enjoyable.

    Thanks to both Misters.

  6. Very nicely constructed puzzle with plenty to smile about whilst solving.
    Slightly different choice of top clues for me – 12a & 14d took the honours here.

    Thanks to our setter (please pop in) and to Mr K for the review – loved the lion hugger!

  7. I thoroughly enjoyed this, I thought it was full of imaginative and innovative cluing. 10a seems to come up quite a lot but this was a topical, and hence particularly clever way of cluing it. I also liked 11a, 13a (I’d be that if I were losing my hair), 25a and the excellent homophone 17d.
    Haven’t got time to read the review, always a pleasure on Tuesday, but will look forward to it and thank Mr K in advance. Thanks also to the setter, who I hope will claim ownership.

  8. Unlike yesterday, I had almost all of these clues on the first reading, the rest fell easily into place . . . apart from 3d. The anagram was obvious, but the answer wasn’t.

    Many thanks to the setter and Mr. K.

  9. Thank you, both setter and blogger. Mr K, I was impressed at your being able to use the same picture for adjacent clues!

    Have your cats ever miaoued at eulogia? That could be quite the coup!†

    On another topic, is the quick crossword normally symmetrical? I don’t do it often (or I just do enough of the top few rows to get the pun), so maybe it’s normal, but today’s isn’t quite symmetrical: 3d doesn’t have an equivalent 4-letter word in the bottom-right corner (underneath 5d).

    † That spelling of ‘miaou’ is in Wiktionary but I haven’t found it elsewhere. ‘Eulogium’ is in Oxford. I don’t know whether ‘coup’ counts as being English, or indeed common.

        1. So it does, Smylers! I don’t do the online quick puzzle often. Yes, I do the paper version as a rule.

        2. Well-spotted, Smylers. I’ve looked up the newspaper version, where, as Steve says, it does indeed have the expected symmetry. The missing partner for 3d is: 21d Swift (4). The clue numbers of the last five across clues are increased by one.

  10. A pleasing puzzle The use of slang to clue a slang term in 9d amused as did Mr K’s pictures of one of my childhood heroes.

  11. Having given up on the Toughie I turned to this for light relief and was not disappointed. A lovely puzzle. I had heard of 3d but not the alternative meaning of 19d.
    COTD 6d
    Now, do I bother to return to the fray. Decisions, decisions!

  12. I did struggle with this and had to look at a fair number of hints. Despite this, it was most enjoyable and had some clever clues such as 6d. I also liked 1a, 11a and 28a.

    Thank you to the setter and to Mr. K.

  13. A real two sitter. Clever but many of the clues needed the answer to understand them. Bit out of my comfort zone, bits of slang as in 9d were uncomfortable. Too hard to be really enjoyable although i did admire the structure of many of the clues. Obviously going to be a tough week.
    Thx for the hints.

  14. Loved this despite needing Mr K’s explanations for 12a, 18a (never heard of that fish) and 9d (🤦‍♀️). Initially had the wrong composer at 6d which still made a word but not the right one. Thanks to Mr/s Setter and Mr Kitty for super-duper hints.

  15. Excellent puzzle, perfect for a rainy morning in Atlanta.
    Many thanks to the setter and Mr K. Loved the picture of Capt S., the indestructible …brought back childhood memories.
    Favourite had to be 10a. Terrific anagram
    3 d new to me but able to figure out.
    Thanks again

  16. I am in awe of everyone here because you all find the puzzles so easy while I’m still struggling. Hey ho I will struggle on and hope my grey cells get better.
    Thank you to you both

    1. I used to find the puzzles difficult, but I have learnt a great deal from this site, and with regular practice they become less tricky, and occasionally straightforward. So stick at it. Thanks to all on this site.

    2. Hi, Joan. The early comments are naturally dominated by solvers who found the puzzle straightforward. I know that there are lots of readers out there nodding their heads in agreement with you. Are there any lurking readers out there feeling the same way who want to comment?

    3. Joan, I agree with Mr K. The earlier comments are usually from those who have solved the puzzle quickly and easily. Look later on and you will find comments from those of us who sometimes do fantastically, but usually have to work at it, and often find the “straight forward” puzzles anything but.

    4. Keep going – don’t get discouraged – if/when you don’t ‘get’ something, even with the hint just ask – someone will reply really quickly and no-one is ever made to feel dim here.

  17. Had never heard of 3D and am unsure of the abbreviated fish in 18A but nevertheless completed unaided in *** time. An enjoyable offering and thanks for the hints which enlightened me as to the parsing of my usual quota of bung ins

  18. Thanks to the setter and to Mr Kitty for the review and hints. A very well constructed puzzle, a new setter possibly? Most entertaining, got held up in the NW corner for a while, but all fell into place in the end. 9d made me laugh, I thought 11a was clever, but my favourite was 15a. Was 2*/3* for me.

  19. Another Tuesday treat, I hope you show your nose above the parapet, setter!
    I knew 3d, another instance of voracious reading of Georgette Heyer as a teenager paying off!
    The two long ones, 10a and 26a, were gimmes and opened up a lot of territory.
    My bête noir rears his (note the “his”) head again at 26a, I must learn to live with it.
    Thank you setter, loved it all, and to Mr. K for his fun review.

  20. I agree with Chriscross in that this had an unusual ring to it so I too wondered if the setter was someone new to us DT solvers. Once again the North required more effort than the South. There were several new words to add to my vocabulary e.g. 18a fish, 3d and 9d. Not too keen on ‘shooting’ in 8d. No real Fav. Thank you to Messrs. Ron and K.

  21. Multitasking like mad but managed to find time to solve this one.
    Forgot how Tuesdays could be so good.
    Use to be my favourite day for the backpage.
    Thanks for keeping up the quality and thanks to Mr k for the review.
    Love the captain scarlet. Didn’t spot it while solving.

    1. Hi J-L. Last Tuesday’s back pager got even more praise from the commentariat. It’s worth a look if you haven’t done it.

  22. Once I’d found the crossword I quite enjoyed it – no idea who set it but, to me anyway, it felt a bit ‘dadaesque’ – probably, almost certainly, wrong – can’t play the ‘setter spotting’ game.
    Some of it was quite tricky.
    The two long across anagrams, 10 and 26a helped.
    I’ve never heard of 3d.
    Did anything make me laugh? No! So not a very high score on the enjoyment level from me.
    Thanks to the setter and to Mr K.

  23. Late to the show due to visiting relatives for a Christmas get together.
    I completed this a long time ago and recall that it was hugely enjoyable.
    3d was a strange one, at least it was an anagram.
    Thanks all.

      1. First one is False – “Facetious” has all the vowels – in order!

        Second is False – “Coup”

        Third I am still working on…….

    1. Sorry for the late response – the work thing got in the way.

      1. The Times claimed that this is True. It may be so in the US, but miaou is listed in Collins as a variant spelling of meow, so Smyler’s “miaoued” shows it to be False, at least in the UK. MalcolmR, “facetious” doesn’t qualify here because the question was restricted to seven-letter words.

      2. False. “Coup” (well done Smylers, again, and MalcolmR) is one example.

      3. True

      It’s good to know that there was interest in those questions. I might include a couple more next week.

            1. I might have written a few lines of code to search the dictionary, but I suppose that still counts :)

              It’s a good question – thanks, Gazza.

  24. 3*/5*…..
    joint COD’s…..
    1A ” hand over alcohol — it’ll help when leaving the EU (8)”
    10A “Euro result isn’t fantastic — embracing America is a risky game to play (7,8)”

  25. I thought 3d was very good,knew that word, but a rarity. Got 9d but couldn’t see why – forgot about ‘doing bird’. But 19d completely threw me – never come across it used like that, and can’t find it as a synonym for dull in any of my dictionaries!

    1. Welcome to the blog, JM.

      The Oxford Dictionary of English lists “dull” as a verb meaning “to make dull”, and as an adjective it has “dull (of a pain) indistinctly felt, not acute”. So dulling a pain is making it less acute or relieving the pain. For example, the Telegraph wrote this about a tennis player’s injury: The injections were administered in the build-up to the French Open and were designed to dull the pain around a troublesome disc.

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