DT 29346 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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DT 29346

Daily Telegraph Cryptic No 29346

Hints and tips by Deep Threat

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

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

Good morning from South Staffs on another sunny day of lockdown.

I found today’s crossword difficult, hence the **** solving time, though looking at the answers, the words used weren’t particularly obscure, so it must have been a wavelength thing. I’ll be interested to see how others got on.

In the hints below, the definitions are underlined. The answers are hidden under the ANSWER buttons, so don’t click if you don’t want to see them.

Please leave a comment telling us what you thought.

Across

1a           Cultured and calm, holding small cleaning item I flog (12)
COSMOPOLITAN – Start by wrapping another word for ‘calm’ around Small and a tool used for swabbing floors, then add I (from the clue) and another word for ‘flog’ or ‘beat’.

8a           Bans expenses after wife’s accommodated for year (7)
OUTLAWS – Start with another word for ‘expenses’ then replace the Y(ear) with W(ife).

9a           Left-winger rejects first and second parties (7)
SOCIALS – Remove the letters which look like an alphanumeric way of writing ‘first’ from a word for someone with left-wing political views, then add an abbreviation for Second.

11a         From part of England, say, needing to go back or go west (7)
GEORDIE – Put together the reverse (needing to go back) of a Latin abbreviation for ‘say’ or ‘for example’, OR (from the clue), and a word for ‘go west’, and you have someone from part of the North-East of England.

[arve url=”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B-vGq-aJsWQ” /]

12a         Nieces raging about carbon technology (7)
SCIENCE – Anagram (raging) of NIECES, wrapped around the chemical symbol for Carbon.

13a         Performer on dobro offers classical piece (5)
RONDO – Hidden in the clue.

14a         Raised in Belgium — coarse, backward place! (7,2)
BROUGHT UP – Put together the IVR code for Belgium, another word for ‘coarse (textured), and the reverse (backward) of a verb for ‘place’.

16a         Staff go to join army (9)
WORKFORCE – A synonym of ‘go’, as in ‘these machines go 24/7’, followed by a word for the army, navy or police.

19a         Boxer with degree? Some might believe it (5)
DOGMA – The type of animal of which a boxer is an example, followed by a higher Arts degree.

21a         Curt with absent employee (7)
OFFHAND – Another word for ‘absent’ (from work) followed by another word for a manual employee.

23a         Design of new arrow hitting king brought about end of conflict (7)
ARTWORK – anagram (new) of ARROW, followed by the chess notation for a King, and with the last letter (end) of conflicT inserted.

24a         The Bay Club pose oddly drinking from these? (7)
TEACUPS – Alternate letters (oddly) of the first four words of the clue.

25a         Sadistic alien? (7)
INHUMAN – Double definition, the second being a factual description of someone who does not belong to the people of this planet.

26a         Overlooked university censoring broadcast by journalist (12)
UNRECOGNISED – A single-letter abbreviation for University, followed by an anagram (broadcast) of CENSORING and the usual senior journalist.

Down

1d           Sad after rising workers’ organisation fell (3,4)
CUT DOWN – Reverse (rising) the acronym for the overarching workers’ organisation in England and Wales, then add a word for ‘sad’ or ‘depressed’.

2d           Really pretty housing with cheeky character (2-3-2)
SO-AND-SO – Here we have two examples of a two-letter word which, used as an adverb, can mean ‘really’ or ‘pretty’, linked by another word for ‘with’.

3d           One’s clients expect delicacy when just out of bed (6,3)
OYSTER BAR – Cryptic definition of an establishment specialising in marine molluscs which are cultivated in beds.

4d           They dry in spring time in this person’s place (5)
OASTS – Start with a word for a spring found in the desert, then replace the pronoun for ‘this person’ with Time, to get somewhere used for drying hops.

Tudor tiles helps in the restoration of Oast House

5d           Trading, apart from Devon area, is dying (7)
ITCHING – ‘Dying’ here is an expression of keenness, as in ‘I’m dying to get out of the house’. Remove the letters for the geographical location of Devon from a word for ‘trading’ or ‘exchanging’.

6d           Opposed to street neighbours once more (7)
AGAINST – Another word for ‘once more’ placed next to (neighbours) an abbreviation for STreet.

7d           What makes one ache, haggard — blooming marathon! (4-5-3)
LONG-DRAWN-OUT – The three words of the answer are synonyms, respectively of ‘ache (with desire)’, ‘haggard’ and ‘blooming (like flowers)’.

10d         Stretching one’s legs out? (12)
SLEEPWALKING – Cryptic definition of the activity of moving around while unconscious (out).

15d         Exercises going into speech and action in theatre (9)
OPERATION – Insert the acronym for the physical activities inflicted on schoolchildren in the gym into a formal speech.

17d         Words repeated in four-letter torrent undermining referee (7)
REFRAIN – A short form of ‘referee’ followed by something with four letters which falls from the sky in torrents, giving us the words which may be repeated between verses of a song.

[arve url=”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vT-2hoaLIsU” /]

18d         Display uniform to wear after storming Spain (7)
FEATURE – An anagram (storming) of AFTER wrapped round the letter represented by Uniform in the NATO alphabet, followed by the IVR code for Spain.

19d         Watercourses in deserts (7)
DITCHES – Double definition, the first a noun for some man-made watercourses, the second a verb.

20d         Following golf, stayed and tidied up (7)
GROOMED – The letter represented by Golf in the NATO alphabet, followed by ‘stayed’ or ‘lodged’.

22d         Where dancers go in galliard is contrariwise (5)
DISCO – Hidden in the clue.


The Quick Crossword pun END + EVER = ENDEAVOUR

117 comments on “DT 29346
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  1. An enjoyable struggle, even though it very nearly slipped into the wrong side of 2* time for me. Two “penny-dropping” moments when I eventually successfully parsed 4 & 10d. Thanks as ever to both Setter & DT. 2*/4*.

  2. I thought it a tricky crossword too – almost into my 5* difficulty time with added use of Tippex

    I particularly liked 3d

    Thanks to the setter and DT

  3. I found this difficult too and not altogether enjoyable, as some of the clues were very contrived.
    (3.5*/2*). I almost gave up at one point but seemed to find the right wave length as time went on. Also, as time went on and I got more checkers, I could guess the word and reverse engineer the parsing of it. However, I couldn’t parse 4d, 10d and 18d so thanks to DT for the hints. I thought 1a was quite good. Thanks to the setter, it definitely made my brain hurt. Keep well and safe everyone.

    1. Ditto to everything you said, except I haven’t got very far yet. I’m definitely off wavelength, on a different planet actually.

  4. 2.5*/3.5*. Enjoyable and not too tough except for the parsing of 4d which took me ages to unravel. The style seemed unfamiliar and there were a number of of interesting constructions on show.

    I liked 2d even though the surface seemed rather strange, and I had a lot of other ticks on my page with 19d winning the race to be my favourite.

    Many thanks to the setter and to DT.

    1. Tough week, tough crossword, tough luck Taking 5 back to school! Hope I can pull back some dignity with the Saturday effort ‘cos I got nowhere near this today.

  5. I thought that this was a tricky customer too – at one stage I did check my printout to see if I’d printed the Toughie by mistake.
    I enjoyed it a lot – top picks for me 8a, 14a, 4d and 10d.
    Thanks to the setter (who could it be?) and Deep Threat for the review.

  6. Took me a fair bit of time. Managed to get 8a but didn’t know why. Last ones in 3d and 5d. Waiting for a lovely fresh lobster to arrive which is costing just a fiver as one of our local fishermen is now doing deliveries. There are upsides to this awful business and the asparagus this year is fantastic. What could be better, lobster and asparagus. Huge Cromer crabs at 3 pounds! Stay safe everyone.

      1. He could carry on to you after dropping a crab off to me. Get enough along the route to make it worth his while? :good:

  7. This was a reality check for me. Found it very tricky. Without help from this section, I would not have got 4d and 5d, and had trouble with 7d. 5* difficulty for me. With so much more time these days to tackle crosswords, I thought I was improving. Not so sure now

  8. I thought this was the diametric opposite to yesterday’s, clever and classy with no obscurities. I found it very tricky but all down to the wordplay. I did peep at the hint for 4d, which unlocked 9a, though I still couldn’t parse the latter.
    I thought the four perimeter clues were very good along with 8 and 14a plus 2d.
    4*/4*
    Many thanks to the setter for a highly original puzzle and to DT for providing clarity where needed.

  9. Certainly a ***** for difficulty for me.
    Nevertheless, thoroughly enjoyable and a bracing mental workout.
    Chuffed as hints were not needed
    Ingenious clueing, eg 8a, 11a and 5d.
    Many thanks to the setter and to DT.

    1. The clients of an establishment such as 3d would expect them to be really fresh – they are ‘fished’ from beds, so just out of bed would describe their freshness

  10. Started well with a third completed after my first look. Then it all went to pot and I only managed to solve some clues by deducing the missing letters. Had to use DT’s hints for the rest. Probably 5* for difficulty and 3* for enjoyment.

    I liked 1d but probably because it was straightforward.

  11. Waste of time for a back pager, far above most peoples ability probably certainly way above mine.
    *****/0
    Yet again the DT lets us down unless you are a Toughie solver. Shameful!

  12. Phew that was tough for a DT back pager (more like a Graun cryptic). Just scraped in marginally under ***** time & like Chriscross there was plenty of bunging in answers and then figuring out the parsing (mind you that’s not unusual for me). None of the 4 long ones flew in which didn’t help matters & my last 4 in (3d, 11a, 5d & 9a) took an age to fall. Having said that all were fully parsed at finish which isn’t always the case for me. 3d & 10d were the pick of the clues for me today.
    Thanks to both the setter & to DT for the review.

  13. To my mind the answer to 1d was obviously ‘run down’ = ‘sad’.

    After a reversal of NUR (rising workers’ organisation), ‘down’ = fell.

    It was only when I had spent a good while completely unable to do the other 5 in the NW that I realised it must have been wrong!

    Thanks to DT for explaining the logic behind my three bung-ins – and thanks to the setter for the challenge.

  14. Definitely a head scratcher which slowed the poor old nag to a canter – 3.5*/3*.
    Candidates for favourite – 1a, 16a, 19a (I started with the favourite human boxer), and 7d – and the winner is 16a.
    Thanks to the setter (I think) and DT.

    1. So did I – stupidly put in alibi – without spotting would only work if last letter an A. As soon as I twigged I got 20d although 19d harder to crack and my LOI. I was looking for a geographical feature.

  15. I’m pleased to see I am not the only one who thought this was difficult. Very little enjoyment in it for me and quite a few consultations of the excellent hints. I did like 10d because it had a great diversion. I was thinking of hill walking, rambling etc and not the meaning the clue really referred to. This has to be my COTD but none of the others stood out because of the sheer hard work needed.

    Grateful thanks to the setter and to DT for the much needed and enjoyable hints.

    Happy Ramadan to my Muslim friends.

  16. Strangely, except for NE corner I found this quite doable. (And I am definitely not of Toughie paygrade). Unusually the first word that popped into my head was the right one – “wavength” as DT says I guess. I don’t do ** times as “milky way” would often be appropriate but it took two visits for the first time this week.
    Wondered why Boxer was chosen for 19a then realised if a Boxer equates to a Masters a Labrador would be a PhD
    Was pleased to see 4d without needing explanation and it was my COTD.
    Thanks to setter & DT for the diversions.
    Surely if masks stop me passing the lurgi on to others (and others to me) would not wearing one mean that social distancing could be halved, or is that too simplistic? Otherwise the over 75s like me seem to be faced with never approaching within 2 meters of another human being probably untill summer 2022. Stay safe everyone wherever you are.

      1. With Biggles PhD equates to Pretty hopeless Dog – this morning I had pity on him after he spent *** time trying to get a piece of cauliflower out of his anti-scoff bowl

        1. We didn’t have anti scoff bowls in our dogs day but he was still smart enough to lick the gravy off anything green or veg like and wolf the rest down. we tested him once with a solitary pea in some leftovers we didn’t have peas with and afterwards there his bowl was licked as clean as a whistle with one solitary pea in it.

          1. It wasn’t that he is averse to cauli. Quite the reverse (what is edible to labradors? -anything that fits in their mouth). It is just that he has to get things out with his tongue & the piece was just too big

  17. Not much fun to be had today – too many convoluted and not very clever clues. None worthy of Fav status. Bring back DG. Thank you Mysteron (would be interesting to know who you are) and DT.

  18. Quite tricky in places, but I enjoyed the challenge.

    Last one in was 4d, and my favourite was 10d.

    Many thanks to the setter and to DT for the review.

  19. Had a couple of sticky moments when it came to the parsing of 9a & 4d and I fell into the same trap as Senf where the human boxer was concerned – only sorted when I couldn’t sensibly award him a degree!
    Favourite was 3d although I have to confess that I don’t particularly like the delicacy in question.

    Thanks to our setter – please let us know who you are – and also to DT for the blog. Listening to the recording at 11a confirmed my belief that I’d find it very hard indeed to communicate with our friends in the N.E!

  20. I found this a comfortable solve with very few hold-ups. It was definitely a wavelength thing, and I imagine if you weren’t on it you would find it pretty tricky. Plenty of choices for a COTD, but I particularly liked 4d with an honourable mention to 10d.

    Thanks to our mystery setter and to DT.

  21. Oh my goodness! I found this one very ***** ish. Needed DT’s help with a few. Although I worked out 10d from the letters I had in place, I thought the clue was too cryptic if you see what I mean!
    On the other hand 3d is clever and brought a smile.
    Yours with head spinning (but thanks to setter and DT, of course).

  22. I solved four on the first pass of today’s Toughie by Osmosis. This is four times the number I got on my first pass of today’s back pager. :scratch:

  23. I toiled into the wee hours last night with this one after hitting a huge wall with the Toughie, but I managed to finish without any help. Plunked in a few answers without fully parsing them, and so I wasn’t very proud of my ‘finishing’. I think this one is a worthy candidate for Toughiedom. Still, some real corkers, like 7d, 9a, and 3d (I kept wondering if the delicacy might be some kind of candy ‘bar’!), but the COTD comes from Devon, 5d, my last one in. Thanks to DT and this demanding setter. *** / ****

  24. Very difficult but got there in the end. I was hung up for ages with 4d and 9a. I can’t say I understand the answers even after checking with this blog. Living in Kent, oasts came to mind but I have no idea where “this person’s place” comes into it. Equally obscure was 18d. Given the degree of difficulty, I’m please to have finished it. Albeit in two sessions and two espressos! For me, this was a shade too far on the wrong side of contrived and, therefore, not especially enjoyable. No idea who the setter is??

  25. That was a nightmare. Maybe I’m 10d. Many thanks to all. Just taken delivery of some specialist cheeses. Very envious of the person with the lobster. I yearn for some fresh fish, but can’t seem to get it delivered. I manage to get everything else.

  26. Ooooh finding this one very difficult for some reason. Isolation rotting the old grey matter perhaps? I shall persevere.

    Got an e-mail from a friend with a photo of a couple sitting on a sofa. It days ‘Day 35 of the Covid19 Quarantine. Can you blink a little more quietly please?’

    :-)

    1. Ha ha ha. I bought a new mantle clock for mum recently and it was sold as very quiet. Now I think I can hear it in every room in the house!

  27. This was a pick up and put down several times, a walk round the garden pick it up again. Finally last one in 25a one of those that eludes you until the wavelength kicks in. I am sure that some setters “click” quicker than others. Got cucumber and tomato seeds at last. So that will be tomorrows job.
    I hope everybody is not catching covid 19, keep healthy and safe.

  28. I don’t often comment but this was a real head scratcher and definitely one of the hardest back pagers for a while. However I did enjoy it. 4d was the last one in. I particularly liked 5d, 9a and 11a. Hope everyone is staying safe out there. Time for a beer. Cheers.

  29. Too hard to be enjoyable, and I am definitely not on wavelength. I don’t understand 11a, “die = west”? Most of the answers I have penned in are despite the clues. Thanks to Deep Threat for the hints. Perhaps I am having problems because I am still speechless about our leader thinking we should all inject ourselves with disinfectant. He never fails to surprise. Also puzzled why some experts claim (including in the UK) that heat and humidity will kill the virus – news to us in South Florida where almost 1,000 have died and 29,600 confirmed cases.
    Will have another shot at this puzzle over lunch, when perhaps a few more grey cells might be awake.

    1. Why doesn’t our DoDo in DC just inject himself with disinfectant–like the strongest possible–and prove to all the world just how stupid and mean-spirited he is? Just when you think he can go no lower, down he goes….

    2. If you google Nate White you will understand why your leader is not popular with Brits and expats. It’s also worth googling Winston Churchill to compare what leadership/statesmanship is all about.

      1. Oh, a lot of us, I dare say most, of us fully understand why our leader is not popular with anyone, not just Brits and expats!

    3. Don’t forget to bombard your bodies with ultraviolet rays to kill the virus!
      This man is the gift that keeps on giving to all the comedians out there, I wonder if I dare put some of it here! I’ve been laughing all morning.

        1. Sorry, can’t do it. I am a technonit, I don’t know how this damned thing works. Most of it is on WhatsApp so it was too difficult trying to transfer to email. In any case, if I know the internet, give it half an hour and they’ll be in your inbox.

          1. It is difficult to work out what is fake news about Trump and what is not. I think I have sussed it! The more ridiculous and impossible it is, the more likely is he to have said it.

  30. Wow – I thought that was brilliant but, a very big but :phew: difficult or what?
    It took me ages and ages and ages.
    I bunged in 4d without understanding why but it fitted with the letters and the definition.
    I didn’t think that there was a single dud clue – just a lot of really good ones.
    I hope that we find out who set this one.
    I liked 8, 9 and 14a and 7d and, as one who used to do it, my favourite was 10d.
    With thanks to the setter and thanks and well done to DT.

    1. Totally agree Kath, I thought it was a cracker (see my comment @9). I can’t understand why it’s got so much “negative press”, I loved it.

      1. You’ve obviously got lots more time to devote to it than I have, or are at a much higher level of accomplishment. I’ve been doing the DT daily for 35 years because it was at the level that I could comfortably finish most days during my lunch hour. Since the Don went that’s no longer true on a Friday. I haven’t been furloughed so I guess I might come back when I’ve retired in 6 or 7 years.

  31. I normally do most of my puzzling on a Friday while Mama Bee has her Barnet primped, but today she could have grown a full head of hair twice over before I would have finished this. as an 11a I did like this one but tried for ages to justify Do or Die changing to Geordie before settling on DT’s much clearer explanation. I have only read Dutch’s preamble to the toughie but expect brain not up to the challenge.

  32. I love the last comment. However not having to do anything I persevered and finished after a lot of thinking. This was in between my wife’s 70th birthday and social distancing visit from family and then friends. Followed by another visit to vulnerable person recovering from a serious complaint who had a present for her. Very pleasant sitting in the garden. Anyway. Parsing was another matter. So thanks to DT and the setter for the challenge. Although I wasn’t happy with some of the synonyms.

  33. I’ve just finished this on the second sitting of the day and it took ages.

    I normally really enjoy the crossword when it fights back, but I can’t say I enjoyed this one at all. Like someone said above it felt too contrived and stretched. There were many answers I filled in but couldn’t fully parse and I was going through DT’s excellent blog, but found that the crossword had taken up enough of my time today and I lost interest.

    Very unusual for me.

    Apologies to the setter and thanks to DT who is always a great help.

    PS: I’ve just remembered, so I should say, I really liked 10d

  34. Wow that was a grind. Used my 5 hints. As someone earlier said, it had a different feel than usual. It’s Friday though, so fair play.

  35. That was a real tinker. Having started by putting accomplished into 1a I was already on a steep and very slippery slope. After much head scratching I realised that couldn’t be right – 1&6d made that clear. In the end after much electronic help I managed about 75% of this before resorting to the hints. Thanks to DT for explaining what I was missing and to the setter a begrudging thanks for a toughie or perhaps the DT just put this in the wrong place.

  36. Not a back page for me which I like to do whilst having breakfast, not have to return to later in the day. Thought 10d was excellent though.

  37. Waaay above the ability of my tiny brain! I did manage to solve about three quarters with copious e-help, but I began to lose interest after a while, so I just quit. There are so many bung ins, I’m surprised at how many were right.
    My fave, of those I could solve without help, was 10d, but I think 3d was pretty good too.
    Thanks to whomsoever did this and to DT for his completing it for me.

  38. I saw some of the comments before starting the crossword and was expecting a real tussle…..but I didn’t find it too bad. Started in the south and headed north and it all seemed to fall agreeably into place. Thanks to DT and the setter.

  39. Thanks to the setter and Deep Threat for the review and hints. This is the hardest back pager ever. Needed 15 hints to finish. Got nothing out of it at all. Much too difficult. Was 6*/0* for me.

  40. Quite a lot tougher for us than we are used to seeing in this slot but slowly and surely it did all come together.
    Enjoyable solve, hope the setter comes here to claim it.
    Thanks Mr Ron and DT.

  41. Sorry, just not my cup of tea today. Just a 17d puzzle. Thanks for the hints Deep Threat, I did persevere to the bitter end to see what I had missed, but would not have been able to solve a lot of them without help. Not even if I had waited till the cows came home, as my dear old Mum used to say.

  42. Convoluted clues and therefore not enjoyable. Have been solving DT cryptic for over fifty years and whilst I enjoy a challenge, I don’t need to feel ‘locked in’ during these days of lockdown.

  43. Think I’ll start skipping Fridays for the first time in thirty odd years. I’m still working and haven’t got time to be spending more than my usual short lunch on the crossword. The DT obviously thinks everyone’s on furlough and have got all day to devote to it, Left with 4 clues to go.

  44. Had a very enjoyable battle with Qaos in the Guardian today, which I won(ish).
    After one pass decided that there were far better ways of spending the evening than wading though this.
    Thanks all.

  45. DG come home. Please… tough and rather convoluted. Too many “that word fits this bit, then working back” clues, and felt at the start as if I was being shouted at, for some reason. 3d the best of the bunch, and at least none of the answers were obscure, else they’d have been impossible. Sadly, the only real joy was finishing without hints. But we don’t have to do it, and we don’t set them (well, most of us…) so this is still a grateful grumble!

  46. Found this to be tough for a back pager, but fair. Last two in were the comparatively straightforward 25a and 19d. Favourites were 11a, 14a, 3d and 11d. Thanks to setter and to DT for the review.

  47. Absolutely not enjoyable. I don’t want to be made to feel dim. Lockdown is affecting my mental capacity for sure, but some of the convultions and answers don’t merit any congratulation. I did a toughie the other day, whilst the back page cryptic on the same day was beyond my ken.

  48. I got thirteen on the first try, a few more on the second, but could not get on to the setter’s wavelength at all! I’m so pleased that it wasn’t just me!
    Thanks to DT for the (needed) hints, and to the setter for an interesting and difficult time!
    Keep well, and stay safe, everyone! 🙃

  49. Definitely a wavelength. Tough but worth pursuing. Unusually the four long ones at the sides were difficult but doable. 10d particularly good clue. Both that and 1a I got on a return visit. Had all or most of the checkers and the answers jumped out.last two in 33a and 19d. No hints needed and even managed the parsing but admit checking with the hints that one or two were correct before persisting with the stragglers. There have been some recently which I have not finished but this was not one. We are all entitled to give our opinions but I object to those who condemn a puzzle without considering that puzzles vary in difficulty (rightly) in my opinion and that it more constructive to try and learn some of the tricks of the trade.

    1. Yes, I agree that sometimes the comments can be a bit harsh. However, puzzles like this are sometimes beyond the ability of some of us but I don’t believe that we should all comment how wonderful it is, that is not constructive. I found it beyond my solving abilities and I said so. I’m now 82, and I think it’s a bit late for me to learn “the tricks of the trade”, I shall continue to comment giving my opinion without being rude or negative. Maybe you believe that we should not comment at all if we don’t find the puzzle to our taste.

    2. Re your last sentence, of course we do not expect all puzzles to have the same level of difficulty. Some like to honestly comment on the difficulty level, especially when it appears more difficult than usual, given there is the Toughie option for those more with superior solving skills. Having done these puzzles since the 1970s I am well aware of the “tricks of the trade”, but that doesn’t mean I can always fathom out the reasoning of the setter. I find it more disconcerting when others comment that a puzzle is too easy. It’s like reviewing a film, someone else might love it and others may not enjoy. Sometimes an Oscar winning film fails to impress, yet a low rated film proves to be thoroughly enjoyable. We are all different.

  50. This felt more like a Toughie to me. Eventually I got most of it done. Only after realising ‘sad’ wasn’t ‘rundown’ in 1d which to me seemed the logical answer. I didn’t manage 9a, 5d, 19d or 25a. With the latter I just assumed that it was the name of an alien group I hadn’t heard of!!

  51. Well here’s Saturday and pleased to say we didn’t (yet) give up. Six to go. We just came to the blog to see if it’s us or if everyone was in the same boat. Pretty much agree that it was difficult, but none of the clues met the “unfair“ test. Won’t be starting today’s until we finish this one.

  52. I’m one of the more fortunate ones who was on the right wavelength and thoroughly enjoyed this puzzle. I thought the clues were very good. Mind you, having said that, 4d did get the better of me and I’m very grateful to Deep Threat for the encryption.
    Many thanks to the setter and Deep Threat.

  53. It’s strange that I found 29346 easier and more enjoyable than 29345 , with help from bigdave44 . On 29345 there were answers where I just had no clues whatsoever . I’m still trying to get my head round the meaning of “ spondee “

    1. With regard to Spondee: Me too!
      Usually I love the fact that every week I learn something new but this one…. perhaps my brain is full and I need a defrag to organise the data and free up some space.
      I like the days when things seem to fall into place for me but then I always get ‘finisher’s regret’. Oh look! I’ve finished the crossword, oh blast, I’ve finished the crossword.
      I like the middling ones where I get some and then really have to ponder to try to get the rest, often with help.
      I even like the hard ones where I definitely need help.
      But for some reason for me, sometimes they are just too tricky or too many references to sports I don’t know about and or ‘Englishisms’ I have either forgotten (I left the UK in 1989) or they involve words that have come into common usage in the UK since I left and I don’t have a hope of working them out.

  54. The challenge every time is to avoid peeking at the hints. Hence, it has taken all this time to twig 9a – very clever clue. A good crossword, but very hard going. As others have rightly said, it was another ‘wavelength’ operation.

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