DT 29508 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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DT 29508

Daily Telegraph Cryptic No 29508

Hints and tips by Deep Threat

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

BD Rating – Difficulty ***Enjoyment ***

Good morning from South Staffs as October runs out in damp gloom.

I found today’s puzzle quite tricky, though a good deal of that was down to the length of time it took me to parse 1a.

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           Rough for friend on team in a police dept (12)
APPROXIMATED – This quite a complicated assembly job. Start with the roman numeral for the number of players in a cricket team. Add another word for ‘friend’. Put the Latin for ‘for’ in front of the result. Finally, wrap A (from the clue) and Police Department round the rest.

9a           Resisting shifting clutter covering article (9)
RELUCTANT – Anagram (shifting) of CLUTTER wrapped round an indefinite article.

10a         Leave time for craft group (5)
FLEET – This group of craft may belong to the Royal Navy. Another word for ‘leave (in a hurry)’ followed by Time.

11a         Released bunny, tail end dropped off and on (6)
UNTIED – Alternate letters (dropped off and on) of the second, third and fourth words of the clue.

12a         Teacher consuming whiskey following everyone failing (8)
DOWNFALL – Put together a university teacher wrapped round the letter represented by Whiskey in the NATO alphabet, Following, and another word for ‘everyone’.

13a         Suspects cook bust mobile (6)
DOUBTS – A two-letter word for ‘cook’ followed by an anagram (mobile) of BUST.

15a         Desire 12 months at home? No good hiding that (8)
YEARNING – A period of 12 months followed by an abbreviation for  No Good wrapped round ‘at home’.

18a         Discussion notes available here (8)
EXCHANGE – Double definition, the second being somehere to get hold of currency notes.

19a         Branded evil, good editor (6)
BADGED – Put together another word for ‘evil’, an abbreviation for Good, and an abbreviation for EDitor.

21a         Male with a place excited about university admission (3,5)
MEA CULPA – Anagram (excited) of M(ale) and A PLACE wrapped round University, giving a Latin phrase which is an admission of guilt.

23a         Female animals cross in struggle with partners (6)
VIXENS – Put a cross-shaped letter into a word for ‘struggle, then add some bridge partners.

Red Fox Behaviour - Helpers in Fox Society | Wildlife Online

26a         Bore youngster heading off for bed (5)
TOTED – The definition is the past tense of ‘bear’. Another word for a small child followed by (b)ED with its first letter removed (heading off.

27a         Entering unprotected mine wielding club (9)
INPUTTING – Remove the outside letters (unprotected) from (m)IN(e), then add an action being carried out on a golf green, to get a word for entering data onto a computer.

28a         Member of nobility in drugs den loaded with cash (5,7)
GRAND DUCHESS – Anagram (loaded) of DRUGS DEN and CASH.

Down

1d           The highest-rated stadium on earth (7)
AGROUND – This is the sort of ‘on earth’ that a ship doesn’t want to be. We have a single letter which often indicates the highest rating, followed by another word for ‘stadium’ or ‘pitch’.

2d           Plan to catch one fly (5)
PILOT – The Roman numeral for one inserted into a plan or scheme.

3d           Using line of torches, tracked people in pit (9)
ORCHESTRA – Hidden in the clue.

4d           Via road regularly used, finish in southern country (4)
IRAN – Alternate letters (regularly used) of vIa RoAd, followed by the last letter of southerN.

5d           Wrote date with hour to be arranged (8)
AUTHORED – Anagram (to be arranged) of DATE and HOUR.

6d           Dainty female carried by river to the north (5)
ELFIN – Reverse (to the north, in a Down clue) an African river and insert Female.

7d           Stress-free times with beer served up in club (8)
RELAXING – Put together the letter which looks like a multiplication sign (times) and some beer. Reverse the result (served up) and wrap a club or gang around the result.

8d           Street carnival turned camp (6)
STALAG – An abbreviation for STreet, followed by the reverse (turned) of another word for a carnival or celebration, giving a word for a type of camp which was difficult to get out of.

WWII POW German Stalag Luft camps for Airmen

14d         Indecent Frenchman’s one caught with urgency (8)
UNCHASTE – Put together the French for ‘one’, the cricket abbreviation for Caught, and another word for ‘urgency’ or ‘hurry’.

16d         It is clear eccentric is genuine (9)
REALISTIC – Anagram (eccentric) of IT IS CLEAR.

17d         Crossing yard quietly, eating nuts from Africa (8)
EGYPTIAN – Anagram (nuts) of EATING, wrapped round an abbreviation for Yard and the musical symbol for ‘quietly’.

18d         Issue around New Year causing malice (6)
ENMITY – Another word for ‘issue’ or ‘send out’ wrapped round an abbreviation for New, with an abbreviation for Year added at the end.

20d         Lowers oneself to take in small objects (7)
DESIGNS – ‘Lowers oneself’ or ‘condescends’ with Small inserted. The ‘objects’ here are plans or aims.

22d         All banks depleted — funds zero and below (5)
UNDER – Remove the outside letters (all banks depleted) from (f)UND(s) (z)ER(o).

24d         Chosen most common Scrabble piece to pick up (5)
ELITE – The most common letter (in English generally, as well as in Scrabble) is placed in front of the technical term for a Scrabble piece, then the whole thing is reversed (to pick up).

25d         Potato soup’s starter, superior to dessert (4)
SPUD – The first letter (starter) of Soup, followed by a short word for a dessert.


The Quick Crossword pun WOOL + FOUND = WOLFHOUND

127 comments on “DT 29508
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  1. That was one of the hardest back-pagers I have attempted in a long time. It was certainly a “Downs first” and probably a “Wrong envelope”. I would rate it as ****/*****, only missing the last half point because I actually finished it without aids, and parsed every letter, eventually.

    Too many outstanding clues to list them all, but, as with our blogger, 1a was my LOI.

    Many thanks to the setter and DT.

  2. This was indeed a very complex and clever puzzle, which ttool a long time to finish (4*/3*). Ia was one of the last in for me too, but became one of my favourites, once rhe penny dropped. The lurker at 3d was another enjoyable clue. I did a lot of reverse engineering and used electronic help for one clue but got there in the end. Thanks to DT for help in parsing one clue and to the compiler for a good brain workout.

  3. I too took an age to solve this crossword – definitely into Toughie time for me.

    It is that grid with two sets of + black squares in it and there are also two Xs in the solution which I seem to think probably makes it more Zandio than proXimal, but what do I know

    Thanks to whoever for a proper brain mangling and to DT for sorting it all out

    1. Hi CS,
      Yes, I stayed up very late to finish the book and – yes, it was very well worth it. So nice to find a book these days with a ‘proper’ beginning, middle and satisfactory ending. Thank you again for the recommendation.
      The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek is next on my list so that’s the weekend reading sorted out!

  4. This was very tricky but very enjoyable. I confess I completed it with the help of a Brontosaurus. No… wait… not a Brontosaurus – a thesaurus. I always get those two mixed up. Perhaps that’s why my shelves keep falling down.

    I retrieved my car from the garage on Wednesday, after it was agreed the warranty covered the cost of fitting a new water pump. This decision took eight days. The car also received a service and M.O.T. On arriving home I noticed that the service book had not been stamped, nor the mileage added, so I went back yesterday morning and handed the book to the young lady on reception. My registration number was given. She returned the book without comment. When I looked inside I noticed she had written the wrong mileage (double mine) for the wrong car. She had clearly noticed her mistake as she had scribbled out the error with a black ballpoint pen, with all of the skill of a two year old with a crayon, and then written the correct mileage next to it. This, of course, will cause immediate suspicion if I wish to sell or trade in this car. “Do ya want me to Tippex over it then?” she asked when I pointed this out (politely, but firmly). I replied that such action would make it look even worse, and then I left. A minor ‘first world’ problem for sure, but an irritation, certainly. It seems that young people are no longer taught that if one makes a mistake on an official document, a thin line should be drawn through the error and initialled.
    I sound like Alan Partridge, don’t I?

    Thanks to the setter and DT.

    1. There was bound to be something went awry, Terence, thank goodness it doesn’t appear to have been the actual repair – although that has probably yet to be confirmed. I don’t have problems where the service book is concerned, my beloved car is so old that there aren’t any spaces left to fill in, just have to keep the garage worksheets and receipts as proof!

    2. Every day, sometimes two or three times a day, I get a call offering to renew the warranty on my car. I never did as I felt it was a scam, but often wondered what they gained from it? Due to my dodgy eyesight, I sold my car and no longer drive, and when I hear stories like yours, I’m so glad I did.

    3. That is very annoying. Reminds me of when we took our car in for a minor service, and was clearly not drivable when we tried to drive away. Turned out they had dropped it when lowering the car lift and crushed the exhaust pipe. Took about half an hour of arguing before they took responsibility.

  5. My paper is littered with scribblings which a suggests I found it quite tough. I still have a couple to parse fully but I’ll persevere. Some great penny drop.moments, particularly on the parsings, podium places go to the double definition at 18a plus the clever and amusing 24&25d, though I did like 27a too.
    4/4*
    Many thanks to the setter and to DT for the entertainment

  6. Brilliant. And deucedly tricky. And the best Friday Cryptic in weeks. Took me into *** time with 1d/11a my last two in. Twigged 1a early on, fully parsed, as was the entire puzzle, which was very satisfying to me since I’ve been wearing my dunce cap after yesterday’s personal 12a. Podium stars: 1a, 21a, 1d /14d (another tie). Many thanks to D T and to today’s terrific compiler. *** / *****

    Almost as tough as today’s Toughie, with two more to go….

        1. Hi Huntsman and John: I’m just an OLD movie junkie, and I think Holden’s performance in Stalag 17 is one of the greatest on film. He was Stanwyck’s ‘Golden Boy’, and she enshrined him as such in her most poignant salute to him at the Oscars.

  7. I am in awe of DT who managed to blog and parse all that. 1a and 17d were right at the limit of my abilities and needed DT to help.
    Nevertheless, I enjoyed the fight and I am only going to get better when pushed by puzzles like this. Thanks to DT and setter
    I will pick 21a as my COTD today and have a cup of tea and a sit down before tackling the toughie.

  8. Very difficult and certainly needed the hints to understand more than a handful of the answers. *****/*** 18a favourite. Thanks to all.

  9. That was a real head scratcher which took a while to break into – completed at a fast canter – ***/****.
    However and interestingly, I only had to use the white space on my printed sheet for one clue (21a).
    I am going with proXimal as the setter since I found four quadrantial Xs in my solution (1a, 7d, 23a, and 18a).
    Candidates for favourite – 23a, 27a, 6d, and 24d – and the winner is 6d.
    Thanks to proXimal and DT.

  10. Definitely a ***/**** for time for me today but I really enjoyed it, so I will give it ***** for enjoyment with lots of good clues.
    1a is my COTD as I really enjoyed parsing it.
    Thanks to DT and the setter.

  11. Fridays back-pagers have certainly become more enjoyable with the new raft of setters. I loved this one – thanks to proXimal (?) and DT.
    My ticks went to 10a, 1d and 24d.
    The Toughie is also excellent so all-in-all it’s the sort of entertaining day in Crosswordland that we need to lighten the pervasive gloom.

  12. A nicely testing and thoroughly enjoyable puzzle for a damp morning. 24d was probably my favourite of many, with 1a getting a mention for complexity.

    Many thanks to proXimal, if it was indeed he, and DT.

  13. 4*/4.5*. This was a very challenging puzzle presumably from proXimal with his signature 4Xs, with the NW corner taking me the longest time to unravel.

    The abbreviation needed for 1a is American (my BRB agrees!), but that apart this was very enjoyable indeed with 24d my favourite.

    Many thanks to proXimal and to DT.

    1. “Police dept” is itself an American term, so I think it follows that its abbreviation has to be as well. There’s hardly going to be a British abbreviation for a term we don’t use.

      If you read “police dept” = “US police force”, then I think it’s fair not to need an other Americanism indicator.

        1. RD and S. This is all very interesting, but I can’t see what the issue is? The PD in the answer is merely a straightforward abbreviation of the (American term) Police Dept clearly visible in the clue. Why does the nationality derivation matter at all?

  14. Crikey that was really hard!! Possibly the most difficult back pager I have encountered in the 30 or so years that I have been doing the Telegraph Crosswords.

    Managed to unravel about a dozen clues without help but even with markers in then got hopelessly stuck and had to rely heavily on the hints and tips from DT.

    Just not on my wavelength, but I did enjoy 20a.

    Thanks DT for rising to the challenge and to the setter for a memorable puzzle.

  15. This was so nearly a stinker, last one in 14d. A real struggle for me. Short today as bit of stirm damage to repair.
    Thanks to DT and setter.

  16. A few hiccups today – finding the necessary police department, realising that the 18a notes weren’t musical and that ‘singed’ wasn’t going to work for 19a.
    Certainly took longer than usual but very satisfying to complete. 24d raised the biggest smile.

    Thanks to Mr 4X and to DT for the review.

  17. Fantastic fun! And somehow I found this more straightforward than the average crossword. I mean, it still took me a long time (pretty much all of them do), but I got a full grid without needing to use any hints, and in a single session, both of which are unusual for me. No obscure words or stretched synonyms, just fiddling around with letters.

    While solving I ended up marking 10 clues for potential favourites, including 3d’s splendid lurker, and 22d’s depleted banks. I think my absolute favourite was the Scrabble piece in 24u.

    Thank you so much to the 4Xer, and to Deep Threat for help with parsing a couple.

    It was announced yesterday we’re classified as Tier 3 from Monday. It won’t really affect us as a family — fortunately we got away for our wedding anniversary last weekend, and we haven’t been drinking in pubs or meeting friends anyway. Though the fortnightly church service in a soft play centre we participate in could go either way (church is allowed; soft play isn’t; it doesn’t look like those writing the law considered the two together).

    Mainly it’s just the constantly changing rules that are preventing planning anything: with us having been in the initial Bradford local lockdown, then out of it, then back in again (but differently), then Tiers 2, and 3, we may have the UK record for most changes in what we’re allowed to do. I don’t think we’ve managed 3 consecutive weeks without the rules changing in some small way since that nice stable period in spring when we couldn’t do anything.

  18. Certainly the most difficult back page puzzle that I can remember and I am going for a ***** with a **** enjoyment as it was a pleasure to solve.
    Certainly some of the clues in my opinion were of Toughie standard for example18d and 21a-in fact the SW quadrant as a whole.
    Favourites were the charades 7d and 23a with a special mention for 1a.
    Many thanks for our setter and DT for the picks.

  19. Definitely a wrong envelope day. I found it solvable by seeking the definition and ignoring the complex and confusing wordplay, IMHO life is too short for unpicking this sort of wordplay.
    Good manners prevents me from giving my opinion of this puzzle.
    Thx for the hints
    *****/*

    1. Oh come on Brian! Anyway at the moment there isn’t much to do or place to go, so it is nice for some people to sit and while away an hour on the back page. It wouldn’t be so much fun if they were all of a muchness!

        1. If I can’t solve a puzzle or don’t enjoy it as much as usual, that is due to my shortcomings. It doesn’t mean the puzzle is defective. At least, with this blog, I can learn and improve.

  20. Well all I’ll say is that if CS is correct and it is Zandio rather than proXimal then yesterday’s Toughie & today’s back pager were in the wrong slots. Thought that I was destined for consecutive DNFs as I stalled with 6 to go & popped into the comments to see what others made of it & was at least encouraged that MalcolmR’s opening comment confirmed it wasn’t just me. Got there in the end though it took just under ****** time & reckon this one is right up there with the toughest back pagers in recent memory. A toss up between 17&24d as pick of some super clues.
    Thanks to the setter & to DT for the review.

  21. This was one of the most challenging crosswords that I have ever been able to complete more or less unaided, and that is because of the invaluable help given to me by Big Dave and his team over the past couple of years. I would not have been able to scratch the surface when I first started. My heartfelt thanks to you all! I wonder whether I was alone in putting “singed” for 19a. Only when I came to 16d did I realise my error.
    We are still in Tier 1 here in East Devon. I wonder how long that will last?

  22. The semi-professionals who populate this site have the extra option of the toughie to test their metal of a morning. The 3rd division cruciverbalists, who can be expected statistically to be in the majority, have only the back-pager to look forward to. That is why a crossword of this complexity on the back page never fails to irritate me; it requires far too much time and resourcing to artificial aids to give any pleasure to a 3rd division player. I only came back to the crossword because of lockdown. This is not an encouragement to continue. The 1st division is richly catered for, why not us?
    There have been complaints about too easy Saturday competitions, presumably from people too young to remember that around the Millennium it was the easiest one of the week. Could that have been designed to lure people into having a go? Perhaps not a bad policy.

    1. Hello. I see your point, but there aren’t just two levels of difficulty, with backpage puzzles and Toughies both varying. So sometimes that means that all of us will encounter a crossword that’s either too easy for us or pitched beyond us. Not much we can do about the former, but for the latter there are at least the hints on this site. So in some ways ‘too hard’ is better than ‘too easy’.

      On days when I can’t get anywhere, I’m glad to learn things (whether new vocabulary and synonyms, or new crosswordy tricks) from the hints, and pleased that, should my crosswording abilities ever improve, there will still be puzzles of interest to me.

      But also, puzzle hardness is subjective and personal. I rarely manage to finish any crossword unhinted, yet I did with this one. You are clearly in the majority of commenters who found this harder than usual; for me it just happened to click. There are plenty of other days when I struggle with a crossword others find straightforward. So it’s literally impossible for The Telegraph, or anyone, publish a puzzle which everybody would agree is easy.

      But having a group of setters, with minds that work in different ways, means we get a range, and some will suit each of us more than others. There are some setters’ crosswords I find impenetrable, but I see from comments here that they give many other solvers great pleasure. It’d be weird to stop publishing them just because I happen not to like them.

      1. Smylers: there is little I can disagree with in your comments but suggest that, given a wide feeling that this crossword was particularly taxing, it would have been better as a toughie. After all, the vast majority of people who might attempt it are unlikely to be readers of this site and, as I said, probably 3rd division. Why put them off?
        P.s. should have written ‘resorting’, not resourcing.

        1. Some will be easier, some will be harder – what else can they do to please everyone?
          Surely any puzzler does so for the challenge and the satisfaction solving brings

            1. It was a difficult puzzle, I agree. I am not a division 1 solver by any stretch of the imagination but I finished it unaided. I am very pleased I did so.

              If it’s too difficult for you, don’t bother or learn from it. It’s a puzzle not an examination.

              1. One can learn. However, it is best not to start with the French subjunctive when you are starting out on your first day with the language. That might just put you off, which is the point I am trying to make.

                  1. Perhaps, after going round the houses a bit, I can revert to my original point: on a day like this Friday the first division can look forward to two exciting challenges, toughie and back page. Second division can struggle to a greater or lesser extent depending on determination, skill and use of aids and this website. The third division, the largest if you believe in the standard deviation bell curve, have nothing to divert them over a well-earned cup of tea and biscuit. The vast majority, not being aware of BD’s site, will give up. I am not blaming the setter at all – my complaint lies with the puzzles’ editor.

                    1. I disagree the normal distribution would suggest the majority of any population is in the middle. ie in a 3 division set-up the majority would be in division 2 and 67% would be within one standard deviation of the mean.

                    2. Ah, but you are ignoring the amateur leagues and absolute no-hopers on the local rec who would make up a long tail end. But this is something for which we have no data, so have to agree to disagree.

    2. Agree – I got fed up with the Guardian for similar reasons. I don’t mind spending an hour or even more (We had two great ones from two of our best setters this week) but when they are this hard I really do have better things to do.

      1. Quite; lockdown and self-isolation are undoubtedly tedious, but there are other things to do in life than flog away at an unyielding puzzle.

        1. Mi Lud,
          I am a Division 1 / 2 solver, if every backpager is going to be solvable by D3 it will not be satisfying for me (the objective being a mental workout). The Toughie is for Premiership solvers so I find mostly too difficult. Where do I get my satisfaction from?
          Today was tougher than manybut go back over the last few weeks & find how many days posts have said “gentle” “easier side of” etc. Through perseverance I did finish without help & got more satisfaction than finishing a Monday in * time.
          If you feel there are “other things in life” do them on the days there’s a D1 puzzle. Let’s accept there are many varieties of solver and all deserve to be treated equally.
          On statistics my view would be the abilities are normally distributed
          and this would put people like me in the majority

            1. Just a general comment on the “rating” or “levels” of cryptic crossword solvers. There is a truly cosmic gap between an absolute beginner (or even an average solver) and a top expert or “the best in the World”. I would compare it to chess ratings, where a total beginner would be rated 0 and the current World Champion, Magnus Carlsen, is rated 2862.

  23. Yes that was hard work. Many thanks to Deep Threat for the hints, I managed to get there with the underlined word not the reveal. I gather you have finished the book Jane, I liked the little comment at the end about the new wife – sweet! Thanks to the setter also. Off to try and have a rest, sleeping is so uncomfortable!

    1. Yes, I’ve finished it, Daisy, and how satisfactory it was at the end when everyone got their just deserts. One of my favourite lines came right near the beginning when a handsome cowboy was described as making Nancy’s heart ‘flutter like a clean sheet on a long line’.

      1. I read the book about this time last year and from time to time I still smile at the second wife having to borrow “the book”

  24. Like Bluebird I was glad to find that it wasn’t a ‘just me’ day.
    Grey, gloomy and grumpy today, and the weather’s no different!!
    I’m quite glad that the crossword was so difficult – it’s taken a large chunk out of the day very nicely.
    I only had nine answers having read all the clues through once – the rest of them followed very slowly.
    I never did get 26a – stupid as it was probably one of the easier ones – wasn’t thinking of the right kind of ‘bore’.
    I didn’t see the 3d lurker until I got 1a and they were two of my last ones in.
    Altogether a very enjoyable and jolly tricky crossword so thanks to proXimal, if he set it, and thanks and a very large amount of respect to DT.

  25. Virtually every answer had to be coaxed out taking me into **** time did not need DT’s hints so **** satisfaction. Feel I’ve been through the mangle a bit.
    Managed 1a OK but think the “ed” ending leads to roughly and not rough.
    27a my COTD.
    Thanks to setter & DT for excellent review.

  26. First pass I struggled with across clues but got plenty of downs which helped me finish it in one sitting. A very satisfying puzzle.

  27. A bit chewy and concentration was required to parse some of the trickier clues, but I thoroughly enjoyed the challenge.
    My only query is the anagram indicator of “loaded” in 28a. I am struggling to see how this works. Any thoughts welcome.

  28. late to the party after the dutiful son in law taxiing an 91 year old for a pre -op Covid swab at the NOC in Oxford. Thought this was going to be straightforward initially until the NW corner which were all bung-ins initially. 1a was really tricky i was convinced CID was the police department and 11a i was convinced the bunny was bugs ! Slowest solve of the week *** but enjoyable none the less so *** again. Thanks to the setter, not a style i recognised and DT.

  29. Another Friday nightmare and I haven’t had my afternoon nap yet. Thank you DT for your brilliant blog which enlightened me of the solutions to nearly half the clues. As I solved 1a with my own little brain that can be my clue of the day. My thanks to the setter for bringing me down to earth after crowing yesterday about solving a Ray T with my own little brain. I will keep quiet in future.

  30. I found this very tough but ultimately very satisfying as I managed to solve and parse it all unaided. It took a few sessions and much head scratching. A number of excellent clues but I shall go for the clever 24d along with many others of you. Many thanks to the setter.

  31. *****/****. I’m so glad to read others thought this was very tricky but enjoyable. Thanks to DT for explaining some of my bung-ins and for filling in a few gaps. Thanks also to the setter for an excellent challenge.

  32. A nice way to end the week with this Friday puzzle. Challenging in spots yet some others janswers umped right out at me. SW last area completed with 26a last in. Overall ***/****
    COTD I liked were 10a, 18a, 21a, 8d & 25d with winner 10a and runner up 25d for its fun simplicity.
    1a was indeed hard to parse even when I managed to fill in the answer with all the down letters I had for it.

    Thanks to setter and DT

  33. Solved alone and unaided but needed help with the parsings of a few…..but it did take me ages.
    I

    Thanks to the setter and to Deep Threat.

    Sunny day today here in Dundee…got the washing out but sadly not properly dried…..not enough drouth.

    1. “Drouth” — I hadn’t heard of that.

      Please keep using such words: they seem likely crop up in a Sunday EV sooner or later, so it’s really useful to encounter them!

  34. Whew that was very enjoyable hard work. Singed caused problems for 16d until I had another look, and for 18d I assumed Time magazine to be an issue which still yielded the right answer. Thank you to the setter and DT for such a challenge

  35. I found that quite a graft but made it in the end and have to say it contains a raft of masterly clues from which it is difficult to single out Fav(s) but I particularly liked 10a, 12a, 21a, 3d and 17d. Banks in 22d is novel. Thank you Mysteron and DT.

  36. Oddly I didn’t find this too hard, took a while to tease out, but only a couple if trips to thesaurus in the SW corner. Did fail to parse 1a, but it couldn’t be anything else once I’d got it. I shall have a look at the Toughie which is apparently on a par with this, and no doubt fail to get a single one!!

    1. On reflection I appreciated this even more than at the time of solving. Just the right level of difficulty for Friday too. Thanks again proXimal.

  37. Tougher than usual and huge fun all the way through. Twigged who the setter would probably be when we spotted the first couple of Xs so we were on the lookout in the other two quadrants which was a bit of a help with answers there.
    Thanks proXimal and DT.

    1. No – the definition is country – from the even letters of the first two words of the clue and then the last letter (finish to) of southern.

  38. I solved just four before hitting the brick wall. I’m glad you chaps enjoyed it, but not to my taste!
    Sorry proXimal, not for me. Oodles of admiration for you Deep Threat for unravelling that lot.

  39. Not much to add. Late to the game in part due to a long walk with the family and in part due to the step up in difficulty. I was fully signed up to the singed club on 18a before 16d forced a rethink. Thanks to DT and today’s setter.

  40. Friday is always the hardest for me so nothing changes really.
    Took ages to parse 1a.
    27a and 20d were stared at for a very long time.
    17d made me laugh and becomes my favourite.
    Thanks to proximal and to DT.
    Thanks for the clip of Yes Minister. Nigel Hawthorne was brilliant in the role.

  41. Second day running the crossword is consigned to the recycling bin…..nowhere near finished. Thanks to DT for the hints, I’ll probably have a look at the answers and groan later!

  42. Having read the above comments and then gone through the clues one by one I can understand that this puzzle was tougher than the normal back pager to a great deal of solvers. But the clues are all fair.
    A puzzle like this combined with Deep Threat’s comprehensive review provides an excellent chance to learn how to deconstruct a clue and build an answer. To learn to spot the keywords that instruct the solver to do something. To learn how to ‘read’ a clue, rather than reading it as a whole phrase.
    Keep on keeping on. Thanks to ProXimal for a superb puzzle, to Deep Threat for the review and to all who commented. Play nicely children and I will see you all on Monday

    1. I do agree that this kind of puzzle provides a useful learning experience. So thanks to ProXimal for the challenge. It was worth the struggle.🤔

  43. Phew, I need a lie down now. At first I thought I was going nowhere, with very few answers for quite a while. Like others I got ‘singed’ until I’d worked out 16d, and then I seemed to get going. I very rarely finish without looking at the hints and I certainly looked at a few today, but thoroughly enjoyed it.
    Thanks to ProXimal and Deep Threat

  44. As I didn’t get to this until tea time, and only two answers going in at first pass, I decided life is too short and gave up on this one. It’s been that sort of day. Just finished watering the new turf, and yes you’ve guessed, it’s raining…

  45. Wow that was difficult! The most enjoyable part was actually doing it. Not a late start by my standards but interrupted by two long phone calls from America, numerous messages and getting everything ready for tomorrow. I’m not saying I didn’t struggle or nearly give up, I did, but I persevered. Favourite probably 1a. Thanks to DT and ProXimal.

  46. I found this reasonably straightforward, having struggled with some clues in the Times cryptic earlier today. Thank you setter and DT.

  47. A bit late…
    Wonderfully complex and clever crossword, but if I had the bandwidth in my life to finish this, there would be something wrong.
    Thanks all.

  48. A tough one for me but got it finished unaided after several short sittings on Saturday morning. Needed some hints to parse a handful. 1a was very late in as was 6d which I solved but could not parse. In terms of some earlier comments I welcome challenges like this if one is to improve. ****/****. 23a and 24d my picks. Thanks Proximal? and DT.

  49. Fiendishly enjoyable but spent ages on 14a as I had started 1d with air__u_d foolishly thinking that “highest rated” was A1.
    Thanks for this one, thorough enjoyment.

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