DT 29552 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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DT 29552

Daily Telegraph Cryptic No 29552

Hints and tips by Falcon

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

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

Greetings from Ottawa, where the traditional Christmas preparations are underway despite there being little prospect of celebrating the festivities with others. The vaccine has begun to be administered but it seems that it will be another six to nine months at least before life returns to any semblance of normality.

Today’s puzzle offers a meager serving of anagrams but an abundance of charades. I started at the proverbially fast gallop and was well on my way to a record completion time. However, just before the finish line, the nag stopped dead in its tracks and decided to saunter across pushing my solving time just beyond the limit of the one star range.

As this will be my final appearance until the New Year, I would like to wish all readers and my fellow bloggers a Very Merry Christmas and a Safe, Healthy, Prosperous and Happy New Year.

In the hints below, underlining identifies precise definitions and cryptic definitions, and indicators are italicized. The answers will be revealed by clicking on the ANSWER buttons.

Please leave a comment telling us what you thought of the puzzle.


1a   Ban for Hungary initially took effect after international (8)
PROHIBIT — we begin with a charade whose elements are a word meaning for or in favour of, the initial letter of Hungary, the abbreviation for international, and a word meanig started to have an effect, usually an adverse one …

5a   Sharp, a group of detectives in charge (6)
ACIDIC — … quickly followed by a second; this time, the A from the clue, the detective branch of a police service, and the abbreviation for in charge

10a   This is not what it appears to be (7,8)
OPTICAL ILLUSION — a cryptic definition of a phenomenon that is visually deceptive

11a   Forecast from pair before proclamation (7)
PREDICT — the abbreviation for pair precedes an authoritative proclamation

12a   One who should be able to give better advice? (7)
TIPSTER — a cryptic definition of a source for 21d

13a   Arm in arm  continuously (8)
TOGETHER — double definition; the first dealing with physical proximity and the second with temporal duration

15a   Subject to endless choice (5)
TOPIC — TO from the clue and a truncated word meaning choice or the best of a group

18a   Evident through time (5)
OVERT — a word meaning through or during a specified time or period followed by the abbreviation for time

20a   A wild boar found in many a wood (8)
MAHOGANY — place the A from the clue and a castrated boar in MANY; displeasure with the surgery may explain why the beast is wild

23a   Sovereign‘s agent in capital sent back (7)
EMPEROR — put a shortened term for an agent inside a southern European capital city and then reverse the lot

25a   Anger shown by siren, one preying ruthlessly on others (7)
VAMPIRE — another term for anger or rage follows a seductive woman

26a   Make every possible effort in Lorna’s flat first? (2,4,5,4)
DO ONE’S LEVEL BEST — a charade of the surname of the title character of a 19th century novel (including the possessive S), a synonym for flat or horizontal, and first or most desirable

27a   Tabloid‘s florid chief (3-3)
RED-TOP — string together the colour denoted by florid and chief or most important

28a   Quite possibly raised abroad, a leader of yours (1,4,3)
I DARE SAY — the first anagram of the day — an anagram (abroad) of RAISED — forms the first element of this charade; it is followed by the A from the clue, and the the initial letter of Yours


1d   Sharp  reminder (6)
PROMPT — double definition; an adverb denoting punctually and a noun meaning a cue

2d   Honest one struggling to win (2,3,4)
ON THE NOSE — an anagram (struggling) of the first two words in the clue produce a type of wager that 21d might make

3d   List including band (7)
INCLINE — the abbreviation for including followed by a band or stripe

4d   Fashionable to rent in bay (5)
INLET — the usual short word word for fashionable or trendy and a word meaning to rent accommodations

6d   Cold drink with favourite item of food (7)
CRUMPET — string together C(old), a strong drink, and a favourite or someone perceived to be accorded special treatment

7d   Current doctor, awfully fit (5)
DRIFT — the abbreviation for doctor precedes an anagram (awfully) of FIT

8d   Pick up Conservative leaflet (8)
CONTRACT — the abbreviation for Conservative followed by a religious pamphlet; the answer means to pick up something like the dreaded virus

9d   Biographer of Greek god, endlessly cunning (8)
PLUTARCH — the Greek god of the underworld (or a Disney dog) loses its tail (endlessly) and is followed by a word meaning cunning or sly; the biographer’s life bridged the 1st and 2nd centuries

14d   Self-government in order (4,4)
HOME RULE — link together a word meaning at one’s place of residence and an order or regulation

16d   Very poor writer on African river steamship (9)
PENNILESS — concatenate a writing implement, a superlatively long African river, and the usual designator for a steamship

17d   Strange order to a fighter in ring (8)
TOREADOR — an anagram (strange) of ORDER TO A; the ring is neither a boxing ring nor a wrestling ring

19d   Explosive device enlisted men put in depot, nervously (7)
TORPEDO — soldiers lacking commissions inside an anagram (nervously) of DEPOT

21d   Good author of thrillers, I’ll wager (7)
GAMBLER — the abbreviation for good precedes the surname of an English author of thrillers and spy novels

22d   Dope test for the nobs? (6)
GENTRY — add together the sort of dope that 21d might obtain from 12a and a word meaning to test the suitability of an item

24d   Haughty, staff round university after power (5)
PROUD — a physicist’s symbol for power precedes a staff or pole containing the abbreviation for university

25d   Intense and very very angry, blowing top (5)
VIVID — finally, the abbreviation for very followed by a word meaning very angry from which the initial letter must be removed (blowing top)

I liked the racetrack wagering theme suggested by 12a, 2d and 21d. As my clue of the day, I will go with 2d which was not only a new term to me but it took me forever to spot the anagram.

Quickie Pun (Top Row): TRANCE + FURZE = TRANSFERS

Quickie Pun (Bottom Row) : WASTE + BANNED = WAISTBAND

79 comments on “DT 29552

  1. I found this one to be mid-week difficulty rather than Monday level, but then I was solving it in the newspaper (which I haven’t done on a weekday for a very long time) and after an early morning ‘this is the last time I’m leaving the house before Christmas’ Sainsburys shopping trip

    I enjoyed the mini theme but have no particular favourites

    Thanks to Falcon and Campbell and season’s greetings to both

    1. I agree, much more than * for difficulty. It wasn’t that it was really difficult, more nebulous, hard to pin down what Campbell was trying to say – if that makes any sense.

  2. I always get the impression that Campbell could set these in his sleep, not difficult but consummately put together.
    I’ve ticked 20a plus 6&22d for special mention but top spot goes to 28a
    Knocked half a point off for the obscure 9d, which was just about derivable from the wordplay and checkers and my LOI.
    Many thanks to the aforementioned setter and to DT.

  3. I found some of the clues in this puzzle quite hard to pin down, particularly considering it’s Monday. I could not get any sort of start in the SE and had to resort to electronic help on one of the clues to open it up, after which it fell into place. Whilst not the most enjoyable of puzzles (3*/2*), it did have an outstanding clue at 26a and 16d wasn’t bad. Thanks to Falcon and to the compiler and a Peaceful Christmas and a better year in 2021 to everyone.

  4. What a nice gentle and civilised start to the week. Managed to complete in * time and agree with Falcon about that although I’d give it a *** fun rating. I agree 28a the COTD.

  5. 2*/4*. This was good fun apart from 10a which didn’t seem to me to be cryptic in any way, shape or form (so perhaps it “.. is not what it appears to be”?)

    22d was my favourite with 26a runner-up.

    Many thanks to Campbell and to Falcon.

    1. To me, 10a is reminiscent of the “barely cryptic” clues we often got from Rufus when he set the Monday puzzle.

    2. I liked 10d but agree with you that it is not cryptic. I did not insert until I had most of the checkers for that reason. It could be a dictionary definition. If one of my grandsons asked me what one is I might reply “Something that isn’t what it appears to be” or words to that effect.

  6. I, too, rated this a little more difficult than the usual Monday fare, taking a full ** time to complete.

    Stephen L has voiced my thoughts on 9d, and I didn’t know the writer in 21d.

    Many thanks to Campbell and Falcon.

  7. Completed alone and unaided but needed Falcon’s help to parse 25d. A very enjoyable start to the week for me.

    Thanks to the setter and to Falcon.

  8. Bunging in penurious for 16d put paid to the mad dash for a PB finish but soon sorted & all over in 1.5* time with no parsing issues or problems other than a quick check with Mr G to see who the 9d bod was. Enjoyable without being up there with his best though I did particularly like 2d & 26a & the mini punting theme.
    A truly miserable day in Harpenden today so you’d need to be a duck to want to venture out. Thankfully Monday is good day for crosswords & a new Netflix series might get started or if all else fails the pile of ironing tackled – what joy….
    Thanks to Campbell for keeping us entertained each Monday throughout the year & to Falcon for reviewing them.

      1. Yes, indeed, Huntsman! “Fasten your seatbelts! It’s gonna be a bumpy night!” (She really should have won an Oscar for that one.)

  9. A lovely puzzle to kick off the solving week, with 22d and 26a sharing the top spot. I, too, thought this was a notch up in difficulty for a Monday, but the setter’s high standards were evident throughout.

    Many thanks to Campbell for this and all his compilations this year, and to Falcon.

  10. I agree with CS with this one, I did enjoy it and 16d brought a smile as did 26a so I will give them joint top on the podium **/****.
    Seasons greetings to all.
    Thanks to Campbell and Falcon.

  11. I found this most enjoyable although I was unsure about a couple – 13a didn’t quite work for me. I could not see where “continuously” fitted in. My favourite clue was 16d and 26a was my COTD.

    Many thanks to Campbell and Falcon.

    1. Re: 13a

      As one definition of together, Lexico gives without interruption; continuously “she sits for hours together in the lotus position”.

  12. It’s Monday, it’s a Campbell, and he seems to be more and more like Rufus every week – completed at a fast gallop – 1.5*/4.5*.
    Candidates for favourite – 10a, 12a, and 22d – and the winner is 22d.
    Thanks to Campbell and Falcon.

  13. What a great way to start the week. Easily accessible solutions to the clues with no obscurities to challenge the progress to a ** finish.

    Thanks to DT and Campbell for a pleasant morning.

  14. Most enjoyable, as is usual for a Monday Campbell. I agree with the comments about 10a being barely (if at all) cryptic.
    I didn’t know the author at 21d and, although I’d heard of the name at 9d, I didn’t really know who he was.
    Thanks to Campbell and Falcon (great choice of illustration for 10a – I like Escher)

  15. Glad to sail through this one as Christmas chores awaiting attention. Pleased to be just within Tier 2 in Sussex and going to Tier 2 also in Sussex – phew! although both locations near to Tier 4 borders – Surrey and Kent respectively. Agree that 10a is hardly cryptic. Three joint Favs (perhaps due to my horseracing interest) were 12a, 2d and 22d. Thank you Campbell and Falcon.

  16. Another enjoyable Monday romp although I was a bit sketchy on the required authors.
    Quite a few that made me smile and I handed out rosettes to 11,12&26a plus 6&22d.

    Thanks to Campbell and to Falcon – the very best of festive wishes to both of you.

  17. I’m going to join the boring club and start cutting and pasting the same comment every Monday.
    A pleasant puzzle and a gentle solve but just a tad too Mondayish. A sensible number of anagrams though. It’s a cold, grey and miserable day here in our bubble barrel. Which makes me think of a couple of my favourite sayings. ‘The sun is always shining, sometimes we just can’t see it’ and ‘This is the day our Lord hath made. Rejoice and be glad in it.’ I’m in the blogging chair tomorrow for a Toughie by Silvanus. Have a crack at it and let us know if you found it enjoyable.

  18. Reporting live from Tier Four!
    Borrowed Senf’s ‘orse to gallop away then found myself at walking pace for the last few, including the ‘never heard of’ 9d, once again proving that my education was entirely wasted. Much of my early teenage years was spent dodging both the fists and ‘affections’ of priests, so there was little time for the education bit.

    Today’s soundtrack: Rickie Le Jones – Pirates.

    Thanks to Campbell, and Falcon

  19. An enjoyable and relatively easy start to the week. (*/***). Is 10a cryptic? – it is not what it appears to be – to me, anyway. I’m not an anagram lover, so the relative lack of them pleased me. Joint top spot to 9d and 26a.

  20. Loved today’s puzzle – not least because as a bookie’s daughter I enjoyed the racetrack references! Favourite has to be 26a though, I do like getting a namecheck (Increasingly rare as both name and book fall further out of fashion). Thanks to setter for a **/**** and to Falcon. May all setters, hintmeisters and solvers have the best Christmas currently available to them wherever they are!

    1. Mama Bee is a Lorna too so that one gets COTD for me both this and the bonus cryptic were done in double-quick time.
      A gentle start to Christmas week but I expect we will have to gird our loins a bit for the Elgar Double toughie.
      Thanks to Campbell and Falcon – have a good one and see you in the New Year!

  21. Lulled into the usual monday fare, still mit is always good to start the week without stretching the brain to much. Makes me feel better knowing that this was an enjoyable solve.
    Thanks to Falcon and Campbell.

  22. I think it has all been said, so I’ll just say thank you to Falcon and the setter – both for this diversion and all the offerings during this horrid year. I too did not fully understand 13a, but it had to be. I liked the various misdirections, how many others tried an anagram in ‘Lorna’s flat first’ ? Two nice Quickie puns also.

    1. I spent quite a bit of time looking for that anagram. When the penny dropped it turned into my favourite clue. Glad to hear you are walking well now Daisy.

      1. Thanks Chris – one of the joys of this miserable year has been the support and friendship of this site –
        even though we are all strangers and could pass in the street unaware, we share a common interest. It is heartwarming!

  23. A pleasant stroll through the interesting Monday offerings, I thought. Delighted, and a bit surprised, by the appearance of 9d (whose works are full of rare bits of ‘curricula vitae’). But my favourites are those mentioned by many above: 26a, 16d, & 28a. All the best wishes for Christmas felicity to Falcon and to Campbell. 1.5* / ***

  24. I realize that I am remiss in my Season’s Greetings in failing to extend them to the setters of the puzzles. After all, without them, there would be no reason for the rest of us to be gathered here at all.

  25. Lovely start to the week a humorous and solvable puzzle, how Mondays should be 😃 **/**** Favourites 16 & 22d 🤗 9d was new to me 🤔 Big thanks and a Happy Christmas to Campbell and the Falcon 🎄

  26. I did not realise that 9D seems so obscure. He is the main source for Shakespeare’s Roman plays. Whole passages are lifted word for word.

    My cotd is 26A

    Thanks to setter & falcon

  27. We seem to be much agreed on most of the favourites. Mine are 18 20 26 and 28a and 1 16 and 22d some of which for their brevity or wit. I agreed with Rabbit Dave that 10a is hardly cryptic but enjoyable nevertheless. I can’t say I could quote chapter and verse on 9d but the last four letters were a gimme when the second and fourth were in and with a well-known God to fit in it did not take long to work out. The NE was my last to fall with 6d for some reason being the last one. Congratulations Campbell for pleasing most of the people most of the time in this annus horribilis, and to Falcon for the hints although not needed on this occasion. Wishing you both the best Festive Season you can have in the dreary circumstances and the same to Big Dave, all his band of merry men and women hinters and, of course, all of you followers. I am currently marooned in a very wet, normally delightful, corner of Cornwall (well-known to Miffypops) with only my husband and having to forego the delights of my grandchildren, their cousins, and their parents. We have been well served by ASDA deliveries and and a trip to Aldi, St Austell, today. We are well-served in the village by butcher, baker and Candlestick maker (Co-Op for short) but avoiding as much as possible to as not to be suspected of bringing the dreaded v—— in.

    1. I’m actually envious. I haven’t seen the sea this year. The Roseland is calling us. Enjoy your stay.

        1. St Mawes next to St Just in Roseland, the latter with the most beautiful church and churchyard/gardens by the waterside.

        2. I used to go to Porth en Alls with friends to sing back on the 90s. One of the loveliest places on Earth. I have such happy memories!

  28. Late on parade. I had a few interruptions this morning not least amongst them the fact that my printer wouldn’t work. It doesn’t appear to be picking up a wifi signal. This may be in protest to tier 4. So, having done it on the iPad, I can’t remember which clues are which number now. It was a */*** for me in the end and I liked the Lorna Doone one best. Plutarch isn’t obscure to me either, Andrew+Budgen. Thanks to all.

  29. I didn’t find this as easy as everyone else … not helped by somehow assuming ‘pointer’ for 15a .. doh! Whilst 26a is a brilliant clue in my opinion 27a is at the other end of the spectrum. Thanks to Campbell & Falcon

  30. I too didn’t find this a gentle Monday puzzle. It did gradually fill in, but 10a only because of the checkers as I was reaching for a more cryptic answer. Had trouble with 13a. Then I spent too long thinking honest was the definition in 2d, nothing unusual for me there. Confess to not knowing the 21d author. I do love mystery thrillers, just not spy stories. At least I was able to pull 9d out of the dark recesses. Like Terence, it was nothing I ever learnt in school, more from books, crosswords and quizzes. Looking forward to try 635 later. Thanks to Campbell and Falcon up there in chilly Ottawa. Just shut the patio doors, as it’s a chilly 72F here right now 😊.

      1. It’s why we spend 6 months of the year with one eye on the tropics and our fingers crossed, so that we can have our lovely winters. If it were not for that, and air conditioning, I would have been on the first plane back.

  31. This one was definitely on my wavelength. I managed it with no help. Thank you to the setter. In case I don’t join the comments again before Christmas, keep safe and cheerful.

  32. Sorry ladies and gentlemen, one of the worst Monday crosswords it has been my misfortune to try and solve. I don’t get 22D – even with the explanation given!

    1. If you give someone the information, you could be said to give them the dope or, in the solution, the gen. The second part oymf the solution is try, a synonym for test. It’s a bit corny, made me groan loudly enough to wake up my husband, Jim.

      1. I found a few clues a bit corny/ hackneyed as I have already.
        explained for 22d. 10a was, as some others have also said not really a completely cryptic clue. I thought 13a was a bit vague although I see it is valid from comments above. As for the rest, perhaps I really was not on the compilers wavelength today. I frequently find that other contributors to this blog have not enjoyed puzzles, whilst I have found them really entertaining. It is not as surprising to me as it is to you that, today, the situation is reversed. We all have different likes and dislikes, that’s what makes this blog and , indeed, life itself so interesting

  33. Found this a little trickier than normal for a Monday puzzle **/**** Filled this grid starting at SE and gradually upwards ending in the NW.
    COTD candidates include 10a, 26a, 28a, 9d & 22d with winner 26a with 9d runner up

    Thanks to setter and falcon

  34. I’m writing from a sunny but cold Manhattan. This was a very enjoyable puzzle and I managed to complete it on the day of, for a change! I disagree that 9d is obscure (surely less obscure than 21d) but then my Masters is in Classical Studies. 20a was my COTD, and 1d was my LOI. Thanks to Falcon and Campbell and season’s greetings to everyone here, whose comments I have enjoyed reading throughout the year. I really feel like I have improved by crossword skills in 2020, so that’s a small silver lining to such a bad year.

  35. As commented above, this was much more than * for difficulty. The answers were about as easy to pin down as quick silver.
    I didn’t know the author at 21d but the answer had to be. Fave was 26a, love the book.
    Thank you Campbell for the fun and to Falcon for the unravelling. A Merry Christmas to you both, keep safe and well.

  36. Rats – first comment disappeared somewhere! Try again.
    I didn’t find this as easy as most of you – my concentration is having a day off – very little sleep last night for some reason.
    I think that 10a is one you either see immediately in which case not cryptic or you don’t and then it is!
    I did have a bit of a dither about 13a.
    My favourite was 26a.
    Thanks to Campbell and to Falcon

  37. I haven’t looked at all the comments but, once again, I am on my own in finding this rather difficult. Because of the amount of time spent on 13a, I would rate this ****/*.

    Although together could mean continuously in the dictionary, it would confuse 99.9% of the population if you used together to mean continuously. “I have been solving the Telegraph crossword together for over 25 years…” Sounds a bit ludicrous to me and my far more talented cruciverbalist mother.

    Other than 13a, an enjoyable solve.

    1. Like virtually everyone — if not everyone — who has commented on 13a, “together” meaning continuously is not something that I would either say or expect to hear. However, it is in the dictionary. Perhaps it’s a usage that has fallen out of fashion.

      However, I do believe it has to be used postpositively (i.e,, following the word to which it refers). Therefore your example should read: “I have been solving the Telegraph crossword for over 25 years together …” (that is, for over 25 years without any breaks).

      Your original example (modified to have a plural subject as the singular doesn’t make much sense) would read “We have been solving the Telegraph crossword together for over 25 years…” would mean that you and someone else have been meeting to solve the puzzle for over 25 years.

  38. Anyone who found today’s puzzle on the difficult side like me, I thoroughly recommend the bonus cryptic 635 – just completed it with only a little help. Great clues, as least for me. Must have been right on wavelength. Thanks to the setter for bags of enjoyment.

  39. I’m in the “pretty straightforward” camp this evening. 9d is obscure if you haven’t heard of him, which I hadn’t, but eminently solvable from the clue with a quick visit to Google to confirm one’s answer. Favourite was 28a. Thanks to Campbell and Falcon.

  40. Fairly straightforward for me, though I didn’t like 13a very much, though I see it, I thought 9d was a philosopher more than a biographer.
    A nice Monday, though, yet to get one of those Christmas themed crosswords, must be one on the way.
    Thanks all.

    1. Plutarch was both a biographer and a philosopher but is apparently chiefly known for Parallel Lives, a collection of biographies of prominent Greeks and Romans.

  41. Late to the party again as I got stuck on 13a and 9d. Once I realised I couldn’t get 13a because I had misread one of my checker letters I quickly got them both although if you Google Greek gods, Pluto doesn’t come up as he was more commonly known as Hades in Ancient Greece (yes I know he was also called Plouton) and Pluto is more commonly thought of as Roman. So for me a bit of a mixed bag with some easy clues and some that needed a lot more thought. My favourite was 25d for the double very. **/***

  42. Pluto is a Roman god, not a Greek one. Hades is the Greek equivalent. This howler (and ‘together’ as duration) ruined an otherwise quick and fun solve.

    1. Welcome to the blog.

      As to your contention that “Pluto is a Roman god”, while I do not claim to be a classical scholar, I have found several sources that confirm that Pluto is the god of the underworld in both Greek and Roman mythology — or, more precisely perhaps, Pluto is the anglicized version of both the Greek and Roman name of the god.

      The most comprehensive source I found is Wikipedia (I know, some people like to dismiss it).

      “Pluto (Latin: Plūtō; Greek: Πλούτων, Ploútōn) was the ruler of the underworld in classical mythology. The earlier name for the god was Hades, which became more common as the name of the underworld itself. … Plūtō is the Latinized form of the Greek Plouton. Pluto’s Roman equivalent is Dis Pater, whose name is most often taken to mean “Rich Father” and is perhaps a direct translation of Plouton. Pluto was also identified with the obscure Roman Orcus, like Hades the name of both a god of the underworld and the underworld as a place. The borrowed Greek name Pluto is sometimes used for the ruler of the dead in Latin literature, leading some mythology handbooks to assert misleadingly that Pluto was the Roman counterpart of Hades. Pluto (Pluton in French and German, Plutone in Italian) becomes the most common name for the classical ruler of the underworld in subsequent Western literature and other art forms.”

    1. Welcome to the blog.

      Your question reflects what is apparently a commonly held misperception. Please see my reply to Bunty Rawlings at Comment #45 above.

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