DT 29259 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
View closed comments 

DT 29259

Daily Telegraph Cryptic No 29259

Hints and tips by Mr K

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

BD Rating  -  Difficulty ** Enjoyment ***

Hello, everyone.  Today's fun puzzle brought to mind that "puzzle of two halves" cliché.  The top opened up nicely, suggesting that perfection might be attainable, but then the bottom put up some resistance and it took sustained effort to get that filled.  That thought made me wonder where the original "game of two halves" cliché originated.  The best that the internet can offer is that it originates in 1980s football commentary, but that its creator remains a mystery.  Anybody know who was responsible for it? The Google Ngram viewer agrees with the internet, with its data showing appearances in print of the phrase taking off from the early 1980s.  There is also a flurry of appearances around 1940.  I wonder what that was about? 

The last puzzle of 2019 (DT 29247) was unusual because it used a grid that contained only 18 different letters.  Today's setter has gone one better by producing a puzzle that uses just 17 different letters.  That has happened here only four times in the past 20 years.  An unprecedented 16-letter grid could have been obtained by replacing the answer holding the single G with something else that fitted the checking letters.  If our setter is reading, perhaps they can tell us if this is all just a coincidence.

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



1a    Progressive artist rejected LSD and left (7)
RADICAL:  Link together the usual artist, the reversal (rejected) of another word for LSD, and the single letter for left 

5a    Son, unfriendly with Edward, gets told off (7)
SCOLDED:  Chain together the genealogical abbreviation for son, a synonym of unfriendly, and a contracted form of Edward 

9a    Tea follows instant coffee (5)
MOCHA:  A slang word for tea follows an instant or short time 

10a   Shocks gentleman with awards, we hear (9)
SURPRISES:  Homophones (we hear) of synonyms of gentleman and of awards 

11a   Foreign banker tests businesses (10)
INDUSTRIES:  In crosswordland a banker can be something with banks, i.e. a river.  So put together a foreign river and a verb synonym of tests 

12a   Region in Far East (4)
AREA:  The answer is hidden in the remainder of the clue 

14a   Handsome judge -- and clever (12)
CONSIDERABLE:  Cement together judge or opine and clever or adept 

18a   Cuckoo smeared this with small beak? (12)
HEADMISTRESS:  An anagram (cuckoo) of SMEARED THIS is followed by the clothing abbreviation for small


21a   Aim  low (4)
MEAN:  A double definition.  Aim or intend, and low or of little value 

22a   Train, please, on two-thirds of RAF jets? (10)
AEROPLANES:  An anagram (train, as in exercise) PLEASE ON RA (two-thirds of RAF).  The ? indicates that the definition is by example 

25a   Was champion jockey seduced outside church? (9)
SUCCEEDED:  An anagram (jockey) of SEDUCED containing (outside) a usual church 

26a   Excellent? No -- sad to leave university (5)
NOBLE:  NO from the clue is followed by an adjective meaning sad with the single letter for university deleted (to leave university) 

27a   Is finally confused what the horse was? (7)
SADDLED:  Follow the last letter (finally) of IS with confused or muddled 

28a   Particular  value (7)
RESPECT:  A double definition.  Particular or characteristic, and value or admire



1d    Last Queen sent up chief (6)
REMAIN:  Glue together the reversal (sent up, in a down clue) of the royal cipher of Queen Elizabeth and an adjective meaning chief 

2d    Choose detectives to probe curtailed action (6)
DECIDE:  Some usual detectives are inserted in (to probe) all but the last letter (curtailed) of an action or act 

3d    Where pupils learn about morals -- so unusual before start of school (10)
CLASSROOMS:  Concatenate the single-letter Latin abbreviation for about or approximately, an anagram (unusual) of MORALS SO, and the first letter of (start of) School 

4d    Close race overshadows who came last? (5)
LOSER:  The collection of letters forming the first two words of the clue hides (overshadows) the answer, which is defined here by example (?

5d    Almost certain to offer to concede (9)
SURRENDER:  All but the last letter (almost) of an adjective meaning certain is followed by offer or give 

6d    Around a river, sailor paddles (4)
OARS:  A usual sailor is wrapped around both A from the clue and the single letter for river 

7d    Give account of some French writer (8)
DESCRIBE:  Stick together a French translation of some and a writer or copyist 

8d    Doctor said see Head of Special Illnesses (8)
DISEASES:  An anagram (doctor) of SAID SEE is followed by the first letter of (head of) Special 

13d   Fertile places -- rat arrives (10)
GRASSLANDS:  Join together a rat or informer and arrives like an aircraft 

15d   American writer in South Dakota editor excluded (9)
SUSPENDED:  Insert the fusion of an abbreviation for American and a writing instrument in the abbreviation for South Dakota, and then append the abbreviation for editor 

16d   Drug-dealers caught with millions in armed robberies (8)
CHEMISTS:  The cricket scoring abbreviation for caught with some armed robberies in which the single letter for millions has been inserted (in

17d   Level-headed criminal concealing weapon (8)
BALANCED:  An adjective meaning criminal containing (concealing) a long pointy weapon 

19d   United Nations starts to abandon boycott, leaving everyone powerless (6)
UNABLE:  Assemble the abbreviation for United Nations and the initial letters (starts to) of the next four words in the clue 

20d   Paces around this, wiping his face (6)
ASPECT:  An anagram (around) of PACES is followed by This from the clue minus HIS (wiping his) 

23d   Socialist party upset stranger (5)
ODDER:  The combination of a socialist or communist and a usual party is reversed (upset, in a down clue) 

24d   Drink left for bird (4)
TEAL:  Join together a drink brewed from leaves and the single letter for left 


Thanks to today’s setter for a fun solve.  Top clues for me out of a fine bunch included 1a, 14a, and 20d.  Which clues did you like best?


The Quick Crossword pun:  ROE + MAN + ROWED = ROMAN ROAD

80 comments on “DT 29259

  1. A thoroughly enjoyable and not too taxing puzzle to cheer up a drab day here in Shropshire. 16d stood out for me as the highlight clue from several worthy contenders.

    Thanks to both Misters involved.

  2. Fair enough puzzle today. 2*/3*
    I gave up puzzling for most of last year and decided to come back this year. Not really a resolution but I am enjoying being back in the fold!

  3. Yes, it was a game of two halves. It looked like the compiler of the top half invited an alien guest compiler from the planet Zog to do the bottom half clues. I whizzed through the top half but stalled and got into *** time for difficulty. Enjoyment was ** as the surface read of the bottom clues was a touch clumsy compared with the top. However 16d at the bottom was quite clever and my favourite clue. Thanks to the setter and to Mr K for the hints.

  4. Found this about as gentle as yesterday (agree top half was r &w) but a little more enjoyable. 1.5*/3*. Enjoyed the less frequently seen anagram indicators and “removals” (e.g. cuckoo and jockey and wiping) and don’t think I’ve seen banker for a while. Favourite is probably 16d for the image the surface gives. No idea about the football; it’s a Coleman-ball but I expect it was a manager not a commentator. Thanks to Mr K and to today’s setter.

    I can recommend the Donnybrook Toughie – more like a back pager.

      1. B. It’s the football (quote) mentioned by Mr K in the first paragraph at the top of this page.

        1. Ah hadn’t read that bit. Wahoo is quite right, it was by David Coleman about a Man U game if I remember correctly.

  5. I thought this was quite tricky and should have satisfied those moaning about recent puzzles being too easy. I needed the hints for a couple of parses due to anagram indicators I hadn’t come across before (jockey and train), though the answers were quite obvious with all the checkers.
    Podium places go to the very amusing 9a along with 16d (though I suspect it’s a bit of a chestnut) and the very clever 20d, which took me ages to see.
    Many thanks to the setter and to Mr K for his usual excellent blog (in particular the picture accompanying 18a…love Mr Springsteen) .

    1. I was pleased to find that 18a pic. Apparently Michael’s father took the note along with him and asked Bruce to sign it, which Bruce happily did. The teacher got a photocopy.

      1. Thanks for that extra bit of imformation Mr K. As an excuse for missing for missing school they don’t come more justifiable than that!

  6. Yes , as above , bottom half different/harder .
    Enjoyable . 25A my COTD due to its clever misdirection .
    Thanks Mr K & Setter .

  7. 2.5*/3.5*. I agree this was a game of two halves. The top half went in unmentionably quickly, and the bottom half put up quite a fight particularly in the SW corner.

    21a was my last one in and 18a was my favourite.

    Many thanks to the setter and to Mr K.

  8. Very enjoyable. Great to have a straightforward cryptic puzzle without any GK or other non-cryptic clues, which only by 21A, which I found a bit iffy. Favourite, by a country mile for its cleverness and for holding me up until the penny fell with a resounding clang, was 20D. Thanks to the Setter and to Mr K for his usual entertaining hints.

  9. Excellent puzzle, I even learned yet another new anagram indicator ‘jockey’. Although I had the correct answers I had to think carefully to parse 22a, 25a, 26a and 28a. My favourite was 27a.
    Thx to all

  10. Clerihew of the day:

    Mr Kitty
    Shows us pictures so witty
    That aid and abet us
    When we’re baffled by the Tuesday setters.

    (I’m still on yesterday’s crossword — almost finished! — and haven’t actually looked at today’s hints yet. But I always enjoy them so much that will read them later, even if I decide to skip today’s puzzle.)

      1. When Smyler’s done with solving clues
        He turns his hand to clerihews.
        But even though he tries intently
        He’ll never challenge E C Bentley.

  11. A pleasing puzzle today and nice of Mr K to include something for all the Deadheads on here.

    1. Thanks, yellowwolf, nice to know that the 4d clip found an audience. I very much liked that version.

  12. Guess it’s a case of be careful what you wish for……
    Struggled with the bottom half & laboured to an unaided finish in a shade over 3.5* having stalled for a long time on 13d & 22a. Fully agree with Wahoo re comment on the anagram indicators. I had to resort to pen & paper for 18a and I’m not familiar with the synonym despite distant memories of having been up in front of Miss McCartney for misbehaviour – considerably more daunting than a magistrate I suspect.
    Thanks to Mr K for the review & the setter for today’s head scratcher

    1. Hi, Huntsman. ‘The Beak’ was quite a common nickname for the head teacher in boys’ boarding school stories of the Billy Bunter era. Perhaps you’re too young to have read them! :-)

  13. What a pleasant way to accompany a cuppa & a marmite sandwich. A smidge over 1* time for difficulty, but a 3 or 4 for joy. Beak (18a) was one of the many names we called ours (male version) in my youth. Loved the 16d armed robberies, & penny-dropping clang moment for 21a. Thanks setter & Mr K.

  14. Quite tricky, I thought, many occasions the penny took too long to drop.
    For me **** plus for difficulty.
    Got there, unaided, apart from one spelling check, in the end.
    Many thanks to the setter and to Mr. K.

  15. I thought this was tough but fair. Great sense of achievement completing this but not inclined to share the number of asterisks! As usual Mr Kitty’s blog entertained. I loved the NGram Viewer. (Not sure why it couldn’t find “slap-up meal” though). Thank you to Setter.

  16. Pleased to see that l am not alone in finding the South to be difficult.Indeed l had to look at your answer for 16d. which is annoying as l am fairly sure we had a very similar clue recently.Thankyou for your help and to the setter.

  17. Most of the top half was typical Tuesday (mild) but the bottom half was much trickier. Overall it was a good puzzle and an enjoyable solve. Favourite, paradoxically from the top half, 8d. 2.5* / 3.5*

  18. Late start as 6 scaffold boards lost in Storm Brendan – breaking the glass on the balcony. Struggled a bit today as mind not focused – but give it a 3/3. Thanks to Mr K, for while researching the origin of a game of two halves I stumbled across Colemanballs again, which cheered up my day. Example: from goalie Peter Shilton – if you stand still there is only one way to go. – and that’s backwards…

    1. “Alberto Juantorina opens his legs and shows his class” is the one DC will always be remembered for.

        1. If that had gone in, it would have been a goal…
          The batsman’s Holden, the bowler’s Willey (not DC)

          1. Slight correction, LbR. The (probably apocryphal) quote attributed to Brian Johnston was, “the bowler is Holding, the batsman’s Willey” but no-one apparently has been able to verify it. The view is that, if he didn’t say it, he certainly would have loved to have done so.

            1. I should have known I’d be corrected on a crickety quote – my reliable source was a matchbox in the 70’s

            2. I also remember it being attributed to the great Brian Johnston. All those chuckles in the commentary box!

        2. “The front wheel crosses the finish line, closely followed by the back wheel.”

          “The Republic of China: back in the Olympic Games for the first time.”

          “That’s the fastest time ever run, but it’s not as fast as the world record.”

          “Forest have now lost six matches without winning.”

          “There is a fine line between serendipity and stalking.”

          “This evening is a very different evening from the morning we had this morning.”

          “He’s seven seconds ahead and that’s a good question.”

          “I think there is no doubt, she’ll probably qualify for the final.”

        3. Here are a few from the Telegraph at the time of David Coleman’s death.
          “He is accelerating all the time. The last lap was run in 64 seconds and the one before that in 62.”
          “It’s gold or nothing … and it’s nothing. He comes away with the silver medal.”
          “There is Brendan Foster, by himself with 20,000 people.”
          “Forest have now lost six matches without winning.”
          “The front wheel crosses the finish line, closely followed by the back wheel.”
          “And here’s Moses Kiptanui – the 19-year-old Kenyan who turned 20 a few weeks ago.”
          “If that had gone in, it would have been a goal.”
          “This evening is a very different evening from the morning we had this morning.”
          “I think there is no doubt, she’ll probably qualify for the final.”
          “Nobody has ever won the title twice before. He (Roger Black) has already done that.”
          “Both of the Villa scorers – Withe and Mortimer – were born in Liverpool as was the Villa manager Ron Saunders who was born in Birkenhead.”
          “And the line-up for the final of the women’s 400 metres hurdles includes three Russians, two East Germans, a Pole, a Swede and a Frenchman.”
          “We estimate, and this isn’t an estimation, that Greta Waltz is 80 seconds behind.”

          My personal favourite, and I’m not even sure it was by David Coleman, is “He’s pulled it out. It’s enormous. The crowd has gasped. It must be a world record”. I think this was commentary on a javelin competition.

          1. Ted Lowe’s on the snooker, when colour TV’s were in their infancy…
            “Ray Reardon is on the green, and for those of you watching in black and white, that’s the ball next to the blue”

            1. Allan Freeman when doing the chart rundown many years ago on Radio 1…
              “Next is 10CC with Rubber Bullets, ruling supreme at number 15”

            2. Ronnie O’Sullivan at 14 years old –
              Q: How big do you want to be in the game?
              A: Dunno, maybe 5′ 10″

        4. Rivelino, he really is the Brazilian Bender.
          Coleman, 1970, Mexico.

          Even as I speak, the game kicks off in three hours.

          Motson, c.1980s.

  19. Just managed to finish the top half after lunch. I am completely flummoxed by the bottom half and need to take a break. I may or may not come back later, so many thanks to the setter and to Mr Kitty. Well done to the perseverers.

  20. I agree that the top half went in easily whist we had to ponder about the south. We have had 6d before and I said then that is was IMHO (as they say) it is a bad clue. My husband has been deeply involved in rowing for 60 years and that word just is not a synonym for paddles or rows. Sorry to have a rant, I love you all really! 16d and 20d favourites.

    1. Hi, Daisy. Re 6d, Chambers Thesaurus gives “oars” and “paddles” as synonyms of each other when used as nouns (the paddles of a canoe / the oars of a canoe), so I think it’s OK.

      1. Mr K (and D); just to expand on this a little. Oars does = paddles as a noun but I think Daisygirl is referring to the verbal use. The clue implies the verbal use as it states “sailor paddles” and not “sailor’s paddles”. My (brand new) BRB is at home but Collins Online gives the following for OAR:

        4. to row or propel with or as if with oars
        the two men were oaring [rowing] their way across the lake

        So, I think the clue is OK either way. But I’d better check in the BRB when I get back!

    1. For reasons of economy I morphed in the other direction, but apparently the transformation is not complete.

  21. I simply couldn’t get on to the correct wavelength today. Like Stephen L above, I missed the obscure (to me) anagram indicators and I had to use the hints more than I usually do. All in all, not very satisfying for me but I appreciate others will have enjoyed it.

    Grateful thanks to the setter and to Mr. K. for the much needed hints.

  22. Thanks Mr.K. I agree with everyone regarding the easy top half, tricky bottom half.
    More challenging than yesterday and as much fun.
    Some new anagram indicators as others have mentioned.
    Thoroughly miserable day here in north Kent.
    Thanks Mr.Tuesday setter.

  23. Sorry but I can’t say I enjoyed this, especially the southern half ☹️ ***/** where, for me, quite a few were “fill ins” Favourites 9a & 22a 😃 Thanks to Mr K for his very nice blog and especially for wheeling out the lovely photo of the Green-winged Teal for its annual outing ( so much prettier than its Eurasian cousin) and of course to today’s Setter 😬

  24. Agree with others that the bottom half of this was a little more tricky than the top, which perhaps lulled us into a false sense of security. Took a little while to convince myself of the answer to 21a and I think my favourite was 16d for its surface read.

    Thanks to our setter and to Mr K for the review. What a brilliant way to skip school for the day – wish I’d thought of it when I spent the day queueing for tickets to see The Beatles all those years ago. As it was, we all finished up in detention!

  25. There was I, swanning along in the north, happily writing in my answers, when I got to 18a and hit a brick wall. South was definitely a different puzzle. I had to go to Mr. K’s hints to get 18a and help to get back in the puzzle. In the end I missed some in the SW, four to be exact.
    I’m not sure that girls’ schools call 18a a “beak”, but that’s being a tad picky maybe. My fave was 1a, but 9a also ran.
    Thanks to our Tuesday setter and to Mr. K for the entertaining review, as always.

  26. I join the league who found the North undemanding whereas the South was just nicely testing. 11a was a bung-in as that chestnut banker didn’t occur to me. Liked the surfaces of 18a and 25a but 16d was definitely my Fav. Thank you Messrs. Ron and Kitty.

  27. No problem with 7d but some in French is nearly always des, isn’t it? De is only used when the adjective precedes the noun, I thought. Very happy to be corrected.

      1. Thanks, that’s true, but after a negative it would render the English ‘any’ and after expressions of quantity, it would be ‘of’. Wouldn’t it?

    1. I had a similar intital reaction, so I included a link to the dictionary entry that convinced me the wordplay was legal.

  28. Great Blog Mr K and thanks for sorting out the parsing for me on 26a – could not see it. I also marvel at your analytics which I would never notice but are always interesting.
    *** for it’s resistance today because of the lower half. I did find it a satisfying solve though.
    Thankee to the setter. Now for a bash at yesterday’s…

  29. Another one here in agreement with the game of two halves opinion. I sailed through the top half before leaving the house this morning, but really laboured at the bottom half when returning this afternoon. I got there in the end and very much enjoyed it.

    Many thanks to the setter and to Mr. K for his usual entertaining blog.

  30. In my case, the two halves were East (good) and West (mostly not good).
    Thanks to Mr K for the hints…..in my book 9a isn’t coffee, but a combo of that and choc……..moaning and tutting ensues.

    So, I didn’t much enjoy it, but thanks for the Colemanballs, which made the comments page very cheerful and stopped me from the endless whinging.

  31. Enjoyed finding the novel anagram indicators used here. 18a with its ‘cuckoo’ being the last clue to yield for me.
    Really good fun all the way through.
    I’m intrigued now to find out whether the restricted alphabet used was accidental or not. Bet no one except our blogger noticed this.
    Thanks Mr Ron and Mr K.

  32. I made hard work of today’s crossword; even the ‘easier’ top half was a struggle!
    However I finally completed it. 22a was my favourite.
    Thanks to the setter, and to Mr K for the review.

  33. Bottom half completely washed away yesterday’s euphoria. From a king to a jack in 24 hours. I’m sure there’s a song in there somewhere.

  34. Glad to see I wasn’t the only one who felt as if one setter compiled the top half of this puzzle, and another compiled the bottom half. But it all came together quite nicely in the end, although I did need to few hints to verify my answers before I penned them in. Also agree with Merusa that I have only seen 18a used to refer to a headmaster, but not his female equivalent. A very enjoyable solve today, thanks to setter and Mr. K.

    Anyone else notice that the DT referred to the Queen as Prince Harry’s “great grandmother” today in one article? Oops.

    1. I get so annoyed with the Telegraph and grammatical and factual errors. The grammatical one that annoys me most is “Prince Harry, the youngest son of the Prince of Wales”. How many has he got?

  35. I’m in complete agreement with the game of two halves comments as I found the bottom half harder than the toughie but, hey ho, nobody said life was going to be easy. Nobody said it was going to be as difficult as Elgar’s toughie on Friday either! Favourite 7d mainly because the writer was my late fathers pseudonym as editor of our local wildfowlers newsletter (I may have mentioned that before). Any road up many thanks to the setter and Mr K.

  36. Pretty difficult, got there in the end with two bung-ins to be confirmed. (they were). Thankful not to read about ‘galloping’ or ‘non-scared horses’, as it certainly wasn’t a breeze for me. Actually I’d say it was a good standard back pager. ***/**.

  37. I’m with everyone else who thought it was a puzzle of two halves – the bottom took me about 4 times as long as the top and I ended up stuck in the bottom left (which seems to happen quite often). I did get there in the end, though, with the help of a couple of dictionaries. Like others, I don’t think I’ve come across jockey as an anagram indicator before – although I now see that the small red book says it is. My favourite (like most people) was 16d, when the penny finally dropped with a clang. Loved the felines, especially the coffee cat (and the horse-rider … and the balancer), so thanks for them, Mr K – and the hints, which for once I didn’t really need. Thanks, too, to the setter for an excellent, if partly quite tough, puzzle.

  38. Definitely a puzzle to two halves and thanks for the footy cliches. Some clever anagram indicators, like ‘jockey’ in 25a. Numerous contenders for COTD. I’ve gone for 22a (but I would say that), 25 and 27a. 13d (another with an aviation theme) and 16d. Finally, thanks for the Grateful Dead clip. Happy solving!🦇

  39. Thanks to everyone who commented today, with extra thanks for the great contributions to the Colemanballs thread @20. This blog really is a wonderful community.

  40. Just popped in to read the hints and comments. All entertaining. Certainly was a puzzle of two halves and never seen this before to such a great extent. I surprised myself when I got exactly on half of the ups and downs – all contained in the top half. Getting the downs was more like pulling teeth! I’ve bought my train tickets for the birthday bash starting with the breakfast train on the way down to prepare me for the day ahead.

  41. Regarding a game of two halves, as a regular contributor to the retro football magazine Backpass, the phrase was certainly common in the 1970s as a form of derision, as a cliché, thanks largely to the post-match interviews conducted by Hugh Johns with his then boss Billy Wright in the guise of analysis. Johns was a commentator for ATV’s Star Soccer which aired highlights of First and Second Division games in the Midlands region while Wright, the former England captain and once holder of record number of caps for this country (105), was Head of Sport. Fine player though Billy was, his persona did not transfer kindly to the small screen and he often spoke in an aimless, rambling manner resorting to trite truisms that many imitated in a mocking fashion during that decade, mostly inside the professional game. As to its precise origin, that is a different matter. Most all, keep up the splendid work. Always informative and of course critical to resolving even the most stubborn word plays for amateurs like myself.

Comments are closed.