DT 29374 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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DT 29374

Daily Telegraph Cryptic No 29374

Hints and tips by 2Kiwis

BD Rating – Difficulty **Enjoyment ****

Kia ora from Aotearoa.

Monday had some exciting moments for us. About 8.30 am we got shaken up by a 5.8 strength earthquake that had it’s epicentre just off the coast from where we live. Since then we have had dozens of after-shocks, the biggest (5.3) being at lunch time Tuesday. Lots of shaking about and a few things falling from shelves but no damage that we have noticed. On the wildlife front, a NZ fur seal seems to have taken up residence on a grass area beside the river just along the road from us. We’ve put a picture of it at the bottom of the post.

Unusually for a Wednesday cryptic we discovered a ghost theme (one that you don’t need to have found to solve the puzzle). Even more intriguing is the Quick Crossword which is one significant letter short of a pangram. That started us wondered whether the pun might be telling us something. Any thoughts?

All this added to the fun we expect from our Wednesday solving.

Please leave a comment telling us how you got on.


1a     Vacant blonde on the way will be attractive (8)
BECOMING: The first and last letters (vacant) of blonde and then ‘on the way’ or approaching.

5a     People who work in prison may be cheats (6)
SCREWS : A double definition. Cheats here is a verb.

9a     Person with whom to arrange meals out? (4,4)
SOUL MATE : The whole clue is the definition. An anagram (to arrange) of MEALS OUT.

10a     Willing to finish early and scrap tactical play (6)
GAMBIT : Remove the last letter from a word meaning willing or ‘up for it’, and then a scrap or small piece.

12a     Worker sees nothing for each musical rejected (9)
OPERATIVE : Nothing, or the letter that looks like zero, then a three letter word meaning ‘for each’ and the reversal of a musical that is set in South America.

13a     Hands should accept northern men on board (5)
PAWNS : Hands usually found on animals contain N(orthern).

14a     A flyer‘s fleece (4)
ROOK : A double definition. The flyer is from the Corvidae family.

16a     Father had put on a serious face (7)
FROWNED : The abbreviation for a religious father and then had or possessed.

19a     Understanding boundaries of Italian tourist attraction (7)
INSIGHT : The two outside letters of Italian and a tourist attraction that is worth seeing.

21a     Royal family gathering at last (4)
KING : Another word for family often associated with ‘kith’, and the final letter of gathering.

24a     Mosque encouraged to welcome head of state (5)
QUEEN : A lurker, hiding in the clue.

25a     Medicinal preparation covering most of Italy’s capital gets publicity (9)
PROMOTION : Remove the last letter from Italy’s capital city and put what is left inside a medicinal preparation.

27a     Maintain insurance is essentially pointless (6)
INSIST : The three letter abbreviation for insurance, then ‘is’ from the clue and the central letter in pointless.

28a     Straining to accept husband moving (8)
SHIFTING : Put H(usband) inside straining or sieving.

29a     Long angry speech from one in business (6)
TIRADE : Business or commerce contains the Roman numeral one.

30a     Poor wit needs cheerful period of decline (8)
TWILIGHT : An anagram (poor) of WIT and then cheerful or not serious.


1d     Confer and trounce old women (6)
BESTOW : Trounce or thoroughly defeat, and then the abbreviations for old and women.

2d     Reasons may see politician abandoning universities (6)
CAUSES : Remove the two letters denoting a Member of Parliament from within universities described by referring to their grounds.

3d     Snake dance from Brazil with a different beginning (5)
MAMBA : Change the first letter in the name of a Brazilian dance.

4d     Criticise choice under fool (7)
NITPICK : A three letter informal word for a fool and then a choice or selection.

6d     Suppressive measure from buffoon imprisoning a politician (Democrat) (9)
CLAMPDOWN : A buffoon who might be part of a circus contains ‘A’ from the clue, a Member of Parliament and D(emocrat).

7d     Pushing criminal, begin low (8)
ELBOWING : An anagram (criminal) of BEGIN LOW.

8d     Reserve place for pier around the fourth of September (3,5)
SET ASIDE : The geographical location where a pier might be found contains the fourth letter of September.

11d     Complaint from Belgium on raised charge (4)
BEEF : The IVR code for Belgium and the reversal of a charge or subscription.

15d     Put up some guides in a group as arranged (9)
ORGANISED : A reversed lurker, hiding in the clue.

17d     Detectives finding drug during leave worry (8)
DISQUIET : The three letter abbreviation for detective inspectors, and then leave or resign contains the drug E(cstasy).

18d     One who examines classes so rigidly boxed (8)
ASSESSOR : A lurker, hiding in the clue.

20d     Beats view from the south (4)
TOPS : The reversal of view or catch sight of.

21d     Expertise lacking for the audience in what way? (7)
KNOWHOW : A word that sounds like a negative (lacking) and a word that asks the question ‘in what way?’.

22d     I confess, supporting Republican revolution (6)
RISING : The abbreviation for Republican, then ‘I’ from the clue and confess in a betraying manner.

23d     End of break — almost time for a piece by 14 (6)
KNIGHT : The last letter of break, then a word meaning almost or close and T(ime).

26d     Refuse, as not working on a line (5)
OFFAL : Not working or on holiday, then ‘A’ from the clue and the abbreviation for line.

We enjoyed discovering the ghost theme, so these collectively become today’s favourite.

Quickie pun    soda    +    feud    +    outs    =    sowed a few doubts

115 comments on “DT 29374

  1. We did know you had had an earthquake – the lovely Jacinta was on our news channels carrying on speaking, earthquake or not. She’s wonderful – you are so lucky to have her as a leader

    I noticed a ghost theme in the crossword too which added to the usual Wednesday fun. Thanks to Jay and the 2Ks.

    1. She featured on our news as well, several times, she’s certainly lovely. We have people by the hundreds of millions but we can’t fine just one of the same calibre, how sad.

  2. I certainly noticed a chess theme as well. The top half was more difficult than the bottom half but still doable in 2* time. It was quite enjoyable (4*) and a bit different from other Wednesday puzzles. I liked 23 d wand 30 a. Thanks to the 2Ks with help parsing 27a, my only bung-in and bad luck about the earthquake. Very scary . Thanks to the setter. Keep safe and well everyone.

  3. Enjoyable puzzle today with my favourite as 23d. I am finding the puzzles at the moment at just the right level to enjoy. I wait with bated breath and not a little apprehension for tomorrows Ray T.
    Thx to all
    Hope you are not too badly affected by the quake, must zoom with my friends in Napier where they are particularly nervous about quakes for obvious reasons.

  4. I don’t usually spot themes but this one does leap out. I enjoyed it but over very quickly leaving more time for Giovanni. 2d was my favourite today. Thanks all.

  5. Fun solve completed in 2* time. A couple I was not certain about and therefore relieved when told it was all correct. Will need to look at the hints to ensure my parsing was right on a couple (27a and 21d). Favourites 12 19 and 30a and 17d. 6d took me a little time as the buffoon was obvious but there were a couple of other first words which would meet the definition. My last two in were 19a and 20d. Thanks to setter and 2Ks.

  6. Agree with **** for enjoyment, but thought it was worth at least *** for difficulty. Really struggled with several, and was unable to parse 2d, although worked out what the answer had to be. Crossword full of clever and fun clues. Favourites, 16a,1d, 23d and 8d and my personal favourite 10a

  7. 2*/5*. What a truly excellent puzzle this was: a lot of fun and a mini-ghost theme dear to my heart.

    My only delay was initially entering “conmen” as my answer for 5a, but the anagram fodder for 7d didn’t include an M so I needed to rethink that.

    I wouldn’t know where to start to try to select a favourite with all the clues so good.

    Many thanks to the three birds.

    1. Just popping in to say that you were not alone in initially entering CONMEN at 5ac, as I also fell into that trap when solving the puzzle a few weeks ago!

      1. If you’d followed the Jay rule of ‘always start with the Downs’ you wouldn’t have had that problem!

      2. Thanks for popping in, Chris. It’s always nice to know when one is not alone!

        1. The two confessions make me feel better about my entering “conmen” thank you.
          Thank you CL for providing us with our daily entertainment.

      3. I had conmen too. Just want to say that the puzzles section is by far the very best part of the DT right now. It’s the only reason I keep paying my subscriptions.

        1. I agree – there’s no sport to speak of and the news journalism has continued to decline. Analysis continues to be replaced by more and more opinion and the quality of the writing is sometimes excruciating. Thank goodness for the crossword!

  8. Another super puzzle from Jay. Thanks to him and 2K.
    I came here in the hope of finding the bishop.

  9. Thanks to all yesterday for your kind wishes. Today was a something of a struggle for me so definitely more than 2 for difficulty, especially the south east quadrant. It took me twice as long as usual and gave me plenty to think about which is no bad thing. The ghost thing passed me by completely! Quite a few chess references in this one though. No real favourite. 16a and 28a are candidates for a mention. No idea about the setter. Didn’t feel like a Jay puzzle. Does anybody know?

    1. Belated best wishes to you both from me too. My 86 yr old neighbour has just battled through it & other than tiredness his chief gripe is the continued loss of taste which renders his glass of wine tipple pointless.

      1. I’ve had to pass altogether on the wine at the moment, sadly but nothing actually has any taste. Hope that passes!

  10. Obviously was a Jay puzzle! Hadn’t heard about the earthquake – hope everyone is ok after that. Thanks to all.

  11. I only noticed the theme right at the end when I put in my last answer, 14a. Not very clever of me. I used to teach the game at a primary school during the lunch break. Many thanks to the setter and to the 2Ks.

  12. I thought this a bit tougher than the usual brilliant Jay-fare, though I finished in good time and thought the overall result still quite wonderful. Last one in was 28s, which I stared at for the longest time (‘chuffing’? ‘whiffing’? ;???’) until the straining process hit me! Also liked 8d and 21d. Those are my three medallists today. Thanks to the Kiwis (I too saw your iconic Jacinta shrug-off that earthquake as not so much to-do, considering the bigger viral-quake the earth has just suffered); I noted the chess theme as well. And thanks again to the ever-resourceful Jay, whose Wednesdays I wake up looking for and towards. ** / **** [Bugger of a Toughie today!]

    1. How strange! I sailed through the Toughie. This was the b….r, I couldn’t finish it unaided!

      1. Ain;t it though? Strange. One man’s meat… (You mean you ‘knew’ MF’s DOG? And ‘advowson’?) I was quite chuffed by Isolde’s ‘olde’ appearance and managed to solve about 85% of the clues. I wrote a soulful comment over there on the Gazzablog. Please read, JB, and thanks for writing me.

    2. Are you being affected by Bertha? I think that’s the name of the hurricane hitting your coast. We had rain, wind, lightning and thunder of biblical proportions yesterday. Our roads were underwater. I have an old adobe house so I’m about three feet above ground level. Keep dry and safe.

      1. Thanks for asking–and caring!–about us, Merusa. Bertha just roared through this morning with a lot of rain but not much wind (and, fortunately, not any damage I’ve heard of) and is now hoping to leave this benighted state. You seem to have fared much worse than we did. How nice to have an adobe house; ours is a post-WW2 bricked-over shingle but about 25 feet (we’re atop a little ‘tor’ of sorts) above sea level so we don’t get any flooding right here. I dread this upcoming season, which sounds, in early predictions, to be another apocalypse. How many can we go through in one lifetime? Take care.

  13. I enjoyed that, but it took me a long time to get going ….

    Once started, rattled in top right corner.

    For some reason, I kept humming “One night in Bangkok” …..

    Thanks to 2Kiwis – stay safe with all that going on !

  14. Very slow start, then it all fell into place without hints or electronic help. I enjoyed the chess theme. Nice puzzle.

  15. Another entertaining puzzle from Jay, and a tad more difficult than his normal I’d say.
    My only problem was toying with ‘blooming’ for 1a (but couldn’t acount for the ‘e’ from vacant blonde) which held me up in the NW for a while.
    Hard to choose a favourite but if pushed I’ll go for 6d.
    Many thanks to Jay and to the 2Ks for their excellent works

    1. I didn’t toy – just bunged blooming in as my first answer which set the tone for the struggle that ensued

    1. Welcome to the blog, Aldhelm.
      I think it’s very likely that he did but that the clue got changed during the editorial process.

  16. Another helping of excellence from Jay – goodness knows how he keeps up such a high standard.
    Too many gems to really pick a favourite but have to say that dad’s serious face made me smile, I remember it well!

    Many thanks to Jay and to our 2Ks for the blog – is there a particular significance in the chess set that you used for the illustrations? Hope that you don’t get any more quakes for a while although your wonderful PM is doubtless able to take any more tremors in her stride – you are so lucky to have her.

      1. Or a visit to see it at the British Museum if and when they let us back in London again.

          1. Me too – they appear on the both the ‘what to see in an hour’ and ‘what to see in three hours’ guides to the Museum so they are a definite ‘must see’

        1. I now remember you telling us where it was displayed when it cropped up in a previous puzzle. Apologies for not retaining the information although I did think the pieces looked rather familiar!

    1. My brother made me a copy of the Isle of Lewis chess set from a set of moulds when I was a child. If anyone is bored during lockdown they could give it a go. I will definitely not be giving it a go. I’m spending my time learning to play the ukulele.

      1. Interested to hear about your ukulele. Have you joined a local club yet? I’ve been playing for about six years now and belong to several clubs. It’s such fun doing gigs as well as enjoying club nights, and your playing improves when you’re with other people. You have to keep up!

  17. I wasn’t conned by the conmen but I was fleeced by 14 across which took nearly as long as the rest of the puzzle. Sorry to hear about your earthquake and pleased you are OK. Thanks for the pictures of The Isle of Lewis chess set. I have a very good copy which I love looking at and holding. Thanks for explaining 2 down which would not jump out at me. Thanks to Jay. Perfect as usual

    1. I was stumped by 14a as well, having firmly entered “gull” on first run through. I was so convinced my answer was right, I needed the hints to find out where I’d gone wrong.

  18. A bit of an enjoyable head scratcher with starting with the Downs revealing very little in either direction even though 26d leapt off the computer screen while waiting for the printer to burst into action. At least I had two checkers to avoid the RD/CL trap on 5a. Completed at a fast canter – 2.5*/3.5*.
    Candidates for favourite – 14a/23d, 25a, and 6d – and the winner is 6d, a good piece of Lego work.
    Thanks to Jay and the 2Ks.

  19. We reckon Jay is our favourite setter. Loved the chess theme, slightly startled by the number of lurkers crowded into one quarter of the grid. **/**** for us. Thanks to all the birds! 🙂🙂

  20. Missing a Bishop, I thought there might be a DD or RR in the grid. But No.

    Thankfully, there was no Castle!


  21. Got the Chess theme but my the Ghost theme. What was that all about? Very enjoyable and for me, slightly more straightforward than usual for a Wednesday. **/***. Thanks to the three birds.

  22. Oh dear! I am well out of step with everyone today. I simply could not get a hold on today’s puzzle from Jay. It took me three passes before I even managed to solve one clue. That was wrong because it was 5a and I put in “conmen”. At least Mr. Lancaster also did so at first. My mind must be on other things or, given I had a brilliant day yesterday, I was psychologically expecting to be defeated today.

    A pity because it was a brilliantly clued puzzle. Oh well, tomorrow is another day.

    Sorry to hear of your very close earthquake, 2Kiwis and so pleased you are ok. Is that why the seal appeared by the river? I saw your PM casually shrugging the quake off. What a lady!

    Thank you, Jay and I am sorry I could not do your puzzle justice. Also many thanks to the 2Kiwis for the entertaining blog.

  23. Took us a while to get started with this but then fell pretty smoothly into place. (I blame the starlings – so many chicks shrieking to be fed you can hardly hear yourself think). A very enjoyable crossword with some lovely clues. Thanks for the hints and to the setter

  24. NE went in quickly, then slowed down but got there in the end. Missed the chess theme entirely! 21d was favourite.

  25. This pleasant work-out had an unusual feel about it but the theme passed me by. NW corner held out longest. Thank you Jay and the 2Kiwis to whom commiserations re your earthquake – do keep safe now.

  26. Slowish start but then, after the conman hiccup all went OK.
    Noticed the theme when 14a went in. Lots of good clues but none stood out for me.
    Thanks to Jay & the 2 Ks
    Hope all OK after the’quake. We experienced one a couple of years ago in Cardiff. I find that Richter scale numbers are difficult to imagine in terms of “shakiness” although I would think 5.3 would rattle things about quite a bit

  27. It’s peculiar how one can tune in to a puzzle one day and then be left floundering like a Conservative adviser the next.
    I struggled here and needed 2K’s assistance more than once.
    Very still in the garden so a zero paperweight day (a rarity).
    Thanks to the setter and 2Kiwis.

  28. Another day of brain malfunction to such an extent that at one point I feared I would be driven to the hints with the bottom half virtually untouched. Got there unaided in just under 5* eventually but made unnecessary hard work of it. Spotted the chess theme which helped with 14a as I was unfamiliar with that meaning of the answer. No idea what the ghost theme is ? Fully agree with Aldhelm that it was a shame 1d was an addition to the theme.
    As ever hugely enjoyable from Jay & appreciated. Thanks to the 2Ks & pleased to hear no widespread damage.
    Ps Can’t work out what it is with my inability to spot lurkers – with 18d & 24a today they were only identified trying to parse my answer. I’ve spent 2 days returning on & off to my 1 outstanding in the Observer Everyman & blow me if it isn’t a lurker, albeit a reverse. May have to start a campaign to get them outlawed…..

    1. But the answer is that if all else fails look for a lurker! The problem with many of us that we don’t start to look soon enough.

  29. What a lovely puzzle even though it was the pesky 4 letter jobs that held me up. At 21a I assumed it was the last letter of ‘at’ and it wasn’t until the chess theme clicked in that I saw the error of my ways. I tried to change my stab at as instructed by StanXYZ but apparently someone else is already using Daisygirl. What a cheek! (Unless it is me already, but I have never signed into anything as far as I can remember. Pity as I have a good photo of me in the compromising position which is evidently very funny in a woman of my age and I have several times been asked to ‘perform’ for charity. Hilarious. Mind you, getting up again is becoming a struggle……

  30. Flipping predictive text should be avatar not stab at. That would make me a stabat mater.

    1. Wonderful! Predictive texts always turn me into some kind of xirgdkd being too, but never into a ‘Stabat Mater’! Love it.

  31. This was another pick up and put down for me (several times) I think it must be the weather, when the weather is fine and hot then puzzles seem harder. Cold wet and windy easier. Thats my exscuse anyway. Apart from that very enjoyable. Mrs Spook and I were caught up in the earthquake on Kos not the most pleasant experience I must say. Lets hope lockdown restrictions ate lfted soon. First action local pub pint of real beer.
    Thanks to the 2Ks and Jay.

  32. I absolutely agree with the 2Kiwis’ rating and this gave a pleasant romp on the beach this morning before a coolish dip. COTD was 8d for me as that was where I was near Hope Cove in sunny Devon.

  33. I found this a strange one from Jay, and a little harder than ** difficulty. Probably because I never did learn to play chess. Did enjoy the workout though, so thanks to Jay and the 2Kiwis. Sorry to hear about the earthquake and it’s aftershocks. The last thing you need right now. Glad you are OK. We could really use someone like Jacinta over here.

  34. I found this enjoyable as always and needed help, but I learnt something new which is always good and that is ghost themes, enjoyable and got my many grey hairs or cells working.

    stay safe and thank you Jay and 2Kiwis

  35. Struggled with this after sailing through the Toughie.
    I got the chess but nowhere can I see a ghost. Explanation please!

    1. I actually got on better with the Toughie than I did today’s back pager, which is very unusual for me.

  36. Very enjoyable today. Lots of great clues.
    Where are the ghosts please?

    Thanks to the 2Ks

    1. Ghost themes usually involve a number of linked solutions without any explicit reference to the theme in the clues. Today there are lots of chess related solutions including a bishop that might have once been the solution to 1d until it wasn’t

      1. There is a theme. The word Ghost is unnecessary and led to confusion. I’m just off to Pre heat the oven. I’ve already pre peeled the potatoes and pre sliced the meat. I’m wondering wether I should pre shell the eggs for breakfast tomorrow

  37. A brilliant puzzle and l also greatly enjoyed the quick one.The difference was that l could not get t grips with this one at all.For some reason l found myself just reading the words and not using the solving techniques that l want to learn.Hope lot do better tomorrow. Thanks to all.

  38. Oh dear, not a good day for me, just could not get on the wavelength at all. Love reading the blog and all the comments though.
    Didn’t know about the earthquake, I don’t know where you are kiwis, was it anywhere near Christchurch, my sister in law lives there.
    Stay safe and thanks.

    1. Christchurch is on the east coast of the South Island, about half way down. We are on the lower third of the North Island on the west coast. Our guess is that these recent quakes would have barely been noticed in Christchurch.

      1. I’m in Christchurch, and I didn’t feel it – perhaps the past nine years or so have taken the edge off, as it were. Today’s bottom half stumped me completely, and I needed 2 Kiwis’ hints to finish it! I hope you’re both ok, and coping with the aftershocks. Thanks to the setter too! 🙃

  39. I loved the puzzle today and spotted the Chess theme early doors.
    I was desperate to find a Bishop too I didn’t notice 1d as the ideal candidate for promotion to Bishop and as the SE was my last quadrant I tried to fit him in 22d until checkers prevented it.
    I included 9a and 10a as peripheral chess terms too and wonder if Jay had Smyslov in mind for 5a as well.
    The Smyslov Screw was an intimidating move whereby Vasily Smyslov screwed his pieces into the board, defying his opponent to remove them.
    Thanks to Jay and 2K’s I hope the world has stopped wobbling there but judging by Jacinda’s reaction it is all in a day’s work for the average Kiwi.

    1. The article by Stephen Fry was entitled ‘Giving the Smyslov Screw a theatrical twist’ and appeared in the Daily Telegraph, 26 October 1990, page 21:

      ‘My own theory, and I cannot emphasize its worthlessness enough, is that chess is fundamentally a theatrical affair. I first became really interested in the game when I heard about the Smyslov Screw. There was a great Russian world champion, who recently enjoyed something of an Indian summer, called Vassily Smyslov, particularly noted as a master of the endgame. Whenever he moved a piece from one square on to another he had a habit of twisting it, as if screwing it into the surface of the board.

      Others might drop their man lightly or bang it aggressively, Smyslov gently screwed it in. The psychological effect of such a move can be devastating. It looks so permanent, so deliberate, so absolutely assured. Kasparov hunches himself over the game, in a brooding, minatory and virile manner that is worth at least three extra pawns.’

      1. I thoroughly enjoyed your interesting and amusing account of Smyslov…and that lovely trio of adjectives at the end…seems to NAIL Kasparov right to the page.

        1. Thanks but not mine. Stephen Fry is well worth a read on all sorts of subjects. Many years ago he used to write a column in the telegraph that has been collected into a book called “Paperweight”.he presented the amusing QI for the first 13 series and lately, he has retold some of the Greek Myths. All in all a bit of a polymath and a hero of mine.

  40. Like many others enjoyed the puzzle and noticed the chess connection,but could not see the ghost bit. Thanks to setter and kiwis, glad they’re ok.

    1. The term ‘ghost theme’ just means that there was no explicit message that there was a theme. For example, if there had been a title identifying the chess theme it would have not been a ‘ghost theme’. With a ghost theme you have to work out for yourself that there’s a theme just from the clues and answers.

      1. We should blame crypticsue for throwing us all off with her Ghost early on! And thanks to Tattycoram for setting us straight just above.

        1. Excuse me but I made my ‘ghost’ statement after reading the Kiwis’ introduction

  41. I love Jay’s offerings, though I did find today’s trickier than most. I needed hints for the SW corner, first because I put “gull” in 14a, hadn’t twigged the chess theme, and, secondly, I missed the lurker in 24a. I became pretty smug at spotting one at 18d and relaxed my guard at spotting them.
    A great puzzle, so hard to choose a fave, I did like the top half particularly, going in without too much difficulty.
    Thanks to Jay for the fun and the 2Kiwis for the reviews, puzzle and nature!
    We’re being advised to beware more flooding this afternoon. Our aquifer must be fully replenished by now, nowhere for the rain to go.

  42. Just reading through the comments after doing yesterday’s Brummie cryptic in the Graun & came across the following –
    Real bastard contrived implausible eye test (5,2,7,6)
    Which I thought rather good.

    1. Yes very topical. I haven’t resorted to pen and paper but I assume the answer is Drive to Barnard Castle.
      I don’t think they are going to let this lie. There are too many political points to be scored by both sides when they ought to be dealing with the more important stuff.

      1. Agreed. There is far more important stuff to think about. Newscasters and politicians alike seem to be obsessed with DC and their own egos. Meanwhile people are still dying from Covid 19!

      2. Over here, the Unmasked would be wearing their MAGA caps, with their all-white assemblies accusing the Liberals (read: Labour Party there) of a HOAX and FAKE NEWS. (I think he should not have driven to Barnard Castle without stopping by Coventry first! Ha ha. That’s an American attempt at being funny.) Over here, your minister would now be promoted by our DoDo in DC to Lord High Pooh-Bah, especially because he broke the law!

        1. I’d have met him in Coventry and led him to Downtown L I for a couple of pints.

  43. Morning all.
    We did wonder where the bishop was when we were putting the blog together and totally failed to notice that he could have fitted with the checkers in 1d. Bet Gazza has guessed correctly what happened to him.
    Sorry if the mention of a Ghost Theme in the preamble confused some people. We’d thought that the bit we put in brackets would help those not familiar with the term, but obviously not.
    Earthquakes are something we live with in New Zealand. Most are just a bit of excitement like these ones, but the memories of the devastation and loss of life caused by the Christchurch and Kaikoura ones in recent years are still very much in the minds of everyone.
    To all those wishing to lure Jacinda away from us. Forget it. We need her too much here and love her.

  44. As Huntsman, spotting the theme helped in getting 14a.
    A harder than usual Jay for me but managed to finish eventually.
    The grid didn’t help either.
    Thanks to Jay and to 2 kiwis.
    Glad to hear that you’re safe.

  45. What a lot of comments which is lovely but too many to read now which is always the problem when commenting late.
    I loved this – I always love the combination of Jay’s crosswords and the K’s hints.
    Had I not pledged my allegiance to Ray T many years ago Jay would be my favourite setter! :unsure:
    Needless to say I missed the ghost theme – wondered for a while if we were heading for a royalty one having got 21 and 24a pretty quickly.
    As usual by this time everything has already been said so that’s it from me today but thanks to Jay and the K’s.

  46. Yes I liked this puzzle, testing & entertaining in equal manner.
    Thanks to setter? Jay & 2KWS for review

  47. Another one here who enjoyed this early this morning. I missed the theme- typical of me!

    Sorry to hear of your wobbles 2 Ks, stay safe and thanks to you and Jay

  48. Tricky for me today…and I didn’t spot the ghost.
    However, I did solve it alone and unaided which is always good.
    Couldn’t parse 27a so a well done day for me today.

    Sorry to hear about your earthquake, Kiwis. Hope it has now all safely passed.

    Thanks to the setter and to the 2 Kiwis.

  49. Thanks for explaining the ghost theme. As a newcomer, I’d never really cottoned on to any themes. Some brilliant clues and 8d my favourite. Enjoyed doing this in the garden with a green woodpecker that prefers pecking the lawn rather than the tree. Thank you Jay for your brilliance and to the 2 Kiwis for help towards the end.

  50. Yikes! I found this a tough puzzle to get going and managed the NW first and gradually filled in most of the SW. Decided to take a breather for an hour or so, then came back to it. And then all of a sudden my brain must have woken up after the break as I literally galloped through the rest of the puzzle with 22d the last in.
    In the end a nice puzzle for the day.
    Really liked 10a, 13a, 25a, 8d & 23d …. with 8d the winner

    Thanks to Jay and 2 kiwi’s

  51. Failed with three to go which is success for me now on a ** puzzle. Better than being 6 short on a * puzzle like Monday.
    Hopefully Ray-T will be more my level tomorrow, thanks all.

  52. Just got back from our beach walk and we’ve come up with alternative clue and answer for 1d.

    See boss participating on board (6)

  53. Is anyone confused by the quick crossword on this day? Soda feud puts? Is that right? And what’s the onomatopoeia? (Trying out a new word there!)

    1. The Kiwis hide the quick pun at the bottom of their review. Your third word is wrong

      I don’t do the Quick Crossword so have no idea about your second question

  54. We had a lot of fun with this puzzle and enjoyed the chess theme but didn’t use it to our advantage, needing 2Kiwis‘ help for 10a and 13a (doh!). I have spent a very pleasant 20 minutes reading everyone’s comments and learning new words (thanks Daisygirl) and enjoying the cultural references (thanks Mr Bee and others). On our wildlife front, a strange thing happened while filling in the last few answers on our front porch – a baby starling flew into the side of our building and dropped dead in my lap. Poor thing. Gave me a shock, I can tell you. Best wishes to All.

    1. Sorry to hear about the bird – poor thing. Comments have certainly gone up in lockdown. Currently, we are debating the enumeration of crossword clues ( Saturday )and the political fallout of recent events (NTSPP). Come on in the waters lovely

  55. 3*/3*…..
    liked 6D ” suppressive measure from buffoon imprisoning a politician (Democrat) (9) “….
    chess theme apparent, but “ghost theme” ???

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