DT 29623 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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DT 29623

Daily Telegraph Cryptic No 29623

Hints and tips by Falcon

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

BD Rating – Difficulty ***Enjoyment ***

Greetings from Ottawa, where we have recently had days where the temperature has reached the mid-teens. Snowbanks that two weeks ago were three or four feet high have shrunk to a mere foot or so. This weekend, Canada switched to Daylight Saving Time, so for the moment we are only four hours behind the UK meaning the puzzle was not released until 8:00 pm Sunday evening our time rather than the customary 7:00 pm. Fortunately, my body has not yet adjusted to the time change and thus thinks it is 11;00 pm as I write this despite the clock insisting that it is now midnight.

I found today’s puzzle from Campbell to be more difficult than usual – or at least the top half was more difficult. Of course, it did not help that I was trying to follow a cliff-hanger hockey game with one eye and solve the puzzle with the other – and I could hardly be said to be applying sufficient attention to either task.

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   Crazy slanderous remarks about celebrity in plant (4,7)
WILD MUSTARD — a word meaning crazy or frantically excited followed by the kind of slanderous remarks that are slung about a celebrity (from the world of film, perhaps)

9a   Ice, briefly, over Irish lake (9)
RESERVOIR — coldness of manner with its final letter removed (briefly) trailed by abbreviations for over in cricket and Irish

10a   Snare, one so devilish (5)
NOOSE — an anagram (devilish) of the middle two words in the clue

11a   Initial letters from a friend, male (7)
ACRONYM — line up the A from the clue, a close friend, and M(ale)

12a   Persistently question family that supplies fruit (7)
PUMPKIN — combine synonyms of persistently question and family to get a fruit that most people other than botanists consider to be a vegetable

13a   Time to study factory’s routine (9)
TREADMILL — a charade of T(ime), to study at a university, and a factory

16a   Fashionable greeting in Conservative clubs (4)
CHIC — a brief greeting sandwiched between abbreviations for a right wing politician and a playing card suit

18a   Give upDecline and Fall‘? (4)
DROP — triple definition; the latter two are similar, perhaps only differentiated by the speed at which they occur

19a   Top grub, as cooked here? (9)
GASTROPUB — an anagram (cooked) of the first three words in the clue; the entire clue provides the definition in which the wordplay is embedded

22a   Mythical creature, fabulous bird, displayed over in a French home (7)
UNICORN — a legendary Arabian bird that could carry off an elephant is reversed in a charade of a French indefinite article and an adverb denoting (at) home

23a   Severe blow, printing error involving house name (7)
TYPHOON — place the two-letter abbreviation for house inside a printing error and append N(ame) to the result

25a   Bring in grand polar explorer (5)
GROSS — gangster slang for $1000 precedes the surname of a polar explorer – could be either Sir John or his nephew Sir James

26a   On crusade to get pardon (9)
REMISSION — a short word meaning on (the subject of) and an impossible crusade that one may accept or refuse (but was the latter option ever exercised?)

27a   Initially managed well, nursed by friends in US city (4,7)
PALM SPRINGS — the initial letter of Managed and a water-producing well sit inside a synonym for friends or buddies (I think I can slip in an Americanism; after all, it is a US city)


1d   With complete authority (7)
WARRANT — W(ith) and a adjective meaning out-and-out or complete

2d   Runner-up in close race? (5)
LOSER — a lurker, hiding in the final two words of the clue

3d   Chef’s mixture, notice, taken in by soldier aboard ship? (8)
MARINADE — a short commercial message ingested by a sea-going soldier

4d   Wife turned up, about to hit the roof (5)
STORM — reverse the title accorded to a married woman and insert the TO from the clue

5d   A storage tower erected to keep produce in citadel (9)
ACROPOLIS — the A from the clue and the reversal of an agricultural storage tower surround another word for the produce or yield from a farm

6d   Energetic type held up by so many duties (6)
DYNAMO — hidden (held) and reversed (up in a down clue) in the last three words of the clue

7d   Intensive course in hospital in Notts town (8)
WORKSHOP — the street sign symbol for hospital is planted in a Notts town

8d   Fox coming from marshy land with endless boldness (6)
FENNEC — marshy land in the East of England followed by a colloquial term for boldness with its final letter removed (endless); the word meaning boldness is also a body part (not cheek, not lip, but close)

14d   Feeling upon receiving Charlie’s messaging symbol (8)
EMOTICON — insert the the letter represented by Charlie in the NATO alphabet into a word denoting a strong feeling deriving from one’s circumstances, mood, or relationships with others

15d   Usually popular army officer (2,7)
IN GENERAL — a short word meaning popular or trendy and a very senior army officer

17d   One making toast, professional model (8)
PROPOSER — a shortened form of professional and what a model might be called based on how one spends his or her working hours

18d   Menial servant died — Dickens character (6)
DRUDGE — D(ied) and the title character, Barnaby, of a little known (by yours truly) Dickens’ novel

20d   Two articles supporting bishop? Like crazy (7)
BANANAS — the parts list consists of two instances of the same indefinite article, the chess abbreviation for bishop, and a synonym for like; now follow the assembly instructions in the clue

21d   Talk idly having small drink after work (6)
GOSSIP — S(mall) and a coincidentally small drink follow a verb meaning work or function

23d   Prison sentence beginning to skate by (5)
TIMES — an informal word for a prison sentence alluding to its duration followed by the initial letter of Skate; the definition is an arithmetic operator

24d   Nothing new working under single bulb (5)
ONION — in step one, link together the letter that looks like a zero and N(ame); in step two, place a small word meaning working or functioning after (under in down clue) the letter that looks like how a single run in cricket would be recorded on a scorecard; finally, append the result from step two to the result from step one

The spots on my podium go today to 1a, 27 and 3d with the laurels awarded to 1a for putting up more of a fight.

Quickie Pun (Top Row): ROUX + LET + WEAL = ROULETTE WHEEL

Quickie Pun (Bottom Row) : CREW + SIR + WAIT = CRUISERWEIGHT

72 comments on “DT 29623

  1. 2.5*/4*. This was fun, and, as Falcon says, the top half proved to be far trickier than the bottom.

    8d was a new word for me (I think!)

    Jostling for podium positions today are 12a, 18a, 27a, 1d & 5d.

    Many thanks to Campbell and to Falcon.

  2. I didn’t get on with this at all well. My first giving up in a long while. Failed on 1a as I tend to on horticultural GK. Also 1d and 9a (what with a lake being natural and the answer artificial), 8d – a new one on me – and 18d – I don’t like Dickens. Sorry Campbell I just wasn’t up to it! Thanks Falcon for steering me through a ****/* for me.

  3. This was quite difficult, with some unusual synonyms (2d, 4d) and quite a bit of General Knowledge involved (1a, 27a, 7d, 8d and 18d). It took a bit more than 2* to solve and I’m afraid I found some of the clues a bit convoluted too. So it wasn’t that enjoyable really (2*). The best clue for me was the reverse lurker at 6d. Thanks to Falcon for the hints, which I needed to confirm some of the parsing and thanks to the compiler.

  4. Like Falcon, I found the top, especially the NW corner, the toughest part of this very fine Monday offering by Campbell. 1a, 11a, and 9a were my last three to fall–and each one gave me a special ‘frisson’ (a kind of cruciverbal rush) when I solved it, and so they are my three podium winners. I also liked 3d and 5d. I had to confirm 8d after my bung-in; don’t think I’d ever heard of one. A very pleasant start to the week. Thanks to Falcon and Campbell. *** / ****

  5. It was the NW corner that put up the most resistance this morning, despite 1a having occurred to me fairly early in the solve. 11a & 4d were the stumbling blocks and I also needed to check the definition of the ‘complete’ part of 1d. I thought 8d was new but having seen the illustration I suspect that he’s turned up previously.
    An enjoyable solve and my top two were 12&27a.

    Thanks to Campbell and to Falcon for the review.

  6. I struggled with the fruity pumpkin and the fennec. The first Monday in a long while that I didn’t really enjoy it as the clues seemed to lack their usual crispness. ***/*.

  7. Another superb Monday puzzle from Campbell but, yes, it was more tricky than usual – 2.5*/4*.
    I do think that we have seen 8d before as, with the three checkers, I had enough inspiration to be able to reach for the BRB to check. Although I did start out by thinking that the second E was an I.
    Candidates for favourite – 22a, 7d, and 23d – and the winner is 23d.
    Thanks to Campbell and Falcon.

  8. Agree with all. Trickier than normal Monday puzzle, with the bottom half completed first.I have withdrawal symptoms for 27a. Happy holidays there with teenage children playing lots of golf. Oh for a bit of sunshine. Thank you setter and Falcon.

  9. I will happily join the club that has 12 and 27a as favourites, and that found the bottom half easier than the top. The trickiness increased my enjoyment of the puzzle, with the clueing fair and pleasantly intricate in places.

    My thanks to Campbell for the challenge and to Falcon.

  10. The north west corner held me up for ages. ***/** 8d was a bung in. I’ve never come across this little creature before or indeed the plant at 1a. This puzzle lacked its usual sparkle for me. No difficulty with the Dickens or geographical clues but I share Nas’s misgivings about 9a being a lake. Favourite 5d. Thanks to all.

  11. More tricky than normal for a Monday but none the less enjoyable. I spent far too long sorting 1a out. I wanted the second word to be message or mistake. Of course, had I seen the reverse lurker at 6d much earlier than I did …! ***/**** for me today. Thanks to all.

  12. Much more difficult than the usual Monday puzzles and I felt a little contrived in many of the clues although they were all solvable if parsed correctly and proved so even when working back from the solution. 5d way ahead in the race for favourite today.

    Thanks to Falcon and Campbell.

  13. Pretty hard for a Monday, I thought. Nice to learn a new word (8d) even thought it will never be used by me again and thus quickly forgotten ( forgotten already, I fear). I thought 5d was a clever construction and don’t mind the odd bit of GK provided it is gettable from the clue.

  14. I was relieved to see that the majority thought today’s puzzle to be at the trickier end of Campbell’s setting. Like many, I found the NW corner resisted all efforts to make it reveal its secrets. I could not get “pull strings” out of my head for 27a but I did not enter it because it just was plain wrong. My favourite clue today was 5d.

    Many thanks to Campbell for the challenge and to Falcon for the hints.

    1. I kept thinking of pull strings too and kept going round in circles because the clue didn’t make a lot of sense to me.

      1. I’m sure there are others who “pulled strings”, Huntsman. The annoying thing when an answer is obviously wrong is that it seems impossible to think of anything else.

    2. Think Palm Springs a a “City” is a little unfair.
      Having visited it on a number of holidays (the climate in March is superb – you can go skiing in the San Jacinto mountains in the morning & sunbathe by the pool in 25 C heat in the afternoon) we never thought of it as a city. Population less than 50,000 & 809th largest in the according to Mr Wiki.

      1. Palm Springs may be small, but its population of 50,000 dwarfs the 1600 or so souls living in the city of St Davids, Wales.

        1. However, Wales has a population of about 3 million, and the USA over a hundred times that.

          So as a proportion, St Davids is about 0·05% of Wales, whereas 27A is only about 0·01% of the USA …

        2. I knew that was coming. Three points:
          St David’s is one of 69 places in the UK that are seats of bishops & are cities as defined. In the US there are countless “cities” as the term is not really defined.
          It is in the UK & in GK it is known because it is the smallest city the cross.
          27a is the smallest of the 3 cities in the Coachella Valley conurbation (Cathedral City, Indio & 27a).
          Its only claims to fame was that in the 40s & 50s it was the winter retreat for Hollywood stars and in the 15 or so miles of the valley there are over 100 golf courses. (St David’s has one 9 hole course so infrequently played that it has an honesty box to collect green fees. It is not to be confused with Royal St David’s which is near Harlech).

          1. Sorry LROK, given the opening, I couldn’t resist taking a light-hearted poke.

            Your points are mostly well-founded although I have to take issue with the statement that the term ‘city’ is not defined in North America. From a legal perspective, cities are incorporated municipalities with definite boundaries and legal powers set forth in a charter granted (in the US) by the state or (in Canada) by the province. Of course, in everyday conversation, people may use the terms town and city in a more loose fashion than the strict legal definition.

  15. What else can I add? The NW was completely blank after **** time, and it was only on my return visit, and some inspired guesswork, that I managed to complete it without help. The fox was new to me, despite his cousins now being regular visitors to my garden.

    Many thanks to Campbell and Falcon.

  16. It seems that the Monday gimme from Campbell is a thing of the past. Like others some head scratching in the NW but I could add 8d & 25a to these as I can’t say that I’ve heard of the critter or the polar explorer. Fortunately Campbell’s impeccable wordplay guides you to the answer & thought this a super start to the week. Wonder if there’s anyone else prepared to admit wasting time wondering what pull strings at 27a had to do with the price of fish & that despite having played some cracking golf courses there many moons ago. A dead heat for COTD for me between 5d&11a.
    Thanks to Falcon & to Campbell
    Ps Today’s music: a trilogy of albums by William The Conqueror, recommended to me by my brother & which I’m enjoying.

    1. The polar explorer has a seal named after him, as well as an ice shelf and an island. He was the first to locate the magnetic North Pole.

      1. It was Sir John Ross who led the expedition that located the North Magnetic Pole (an expedition of which his nephew Sir James Clark Ross was also a member). Sir John Ross’ explorations all took place in the northern polar regions.

        It was his nephew, Sir James Clark Ross, who was the antarctic explorer and for whom the Ross Sea, Ross Island, and the Ross Ice Shelf are named.

        In an interesting coincidence, although Sir James Clark Ross discovered the island, it was another antarctic explorer, Captain Robert Falcon Scott, who named the island in honour of Ross. The setter of today’s puzzle, Allan Scott, has told us that Robert Falcon Scott was the inspiration for one of his pseudonyms, Falcon. (As for my pseudonym, it has purely avian roots.)

  17. NW corner took me into 3* time, and I needed a lunchmaking break to clear the neural pathways, after which 1a and 1d fell into place. I felt most of the clues were clever and that 4d just beat all the others to my favourite. Thanks Campbell and Falcon.

  18. Well… that was a challenge. Like many others I found the northern area hard to crack; especially Cumbria and Lancashire.
    Along with Steve and Chris, I was pulling strings but could make no sense of it.

    H, feeling a little nauseous (to be expected) and still reclining, gracefully, on the sofa.
    Lola, doing well. She has completely worked out the ‘pill putty’ and ‘pill pockets’ game so I am now having to seek out ever more devious methods for her to receive her meds. We have not returned to the bath towel routine yet as we both found that very stressful.

    Today’s crossword soundtrack: Blue Öyster Cult – The Symbol Remains (recommended by Zandio last week. I’ve played it a few times since and really love it)

    Thanks to the ever trickier Campbell and Falcon in his (relative) heatwave.

    1. Hi Terence,
      I’ve been doing a bit of research into Lola’s condition and it seems that where its effects are localised, which would appear to be the case for her, good results have been obtained from the application of Pimecrolimus cream over a period of 40 days. I don’t know whether it’s suitable for cats but if you reach the end of your tether with administering the pills perhaps it would be worth asking the vet.

  19. Two sittings required for this dreadful puzzle.
    Horrible clues and zero fun.
    Thx for the hints

  20. Certainly agree the NW took twice as long as the rest of the puzzle. Hard work but got there in the end.
    Thanks to Campbell and Falcon

  21. My name should change to Mary as I am quite contrary. Found it impenetrable at first, but with checkers some answers were easy to spot before parsing. Favourites 1 12 19 22 and 27a and 5 14 and 18d. I did not go for that well known US city of Pull Strings for the last one across. Like others I did not know the fox but got the first three letters. Then checked the dictionary. Quite foxy as the answer did not have to be an animal. No complaints about the Dickens character. He does have hundreds of them but to give us a title character was benign. There are often complaints about archaic words, or long dead celebrities so I think Campbell should be congratulated for including 19a and 14d. Thanks to him and to Falcon although hints not needed today.

  22. Too hard for me today, and a disappointing start to the crossword week. Sorry, but I do long for the good old days of gentle Mondays. I would need too much help to finish, giving little enjoyment. Strange, as I used to do well with Campbell’s puzzles. Thanks to Falcon.

  23. Oh dear, I did puzzle #647 by mistake! I’ll save today’s puzzle for another day, maybe Thursday or Friday.

  24. Found this to be a typical Monday puzzle from Campbell. **/**** with some clever clues that required some thought to bring to the surface.
    My favourites include 11a, 23a, 25a, 7d, 8d & 17d with winner 7d and 8d a close second.
    Lurker in 6d was well hidden.

    Thanks to Campbell and Falcon for hints.

  25. That was a bit of a struggle for me, folks. 4d was my last one in but I did enjoy 11a and 5d and 13a. All the clues
    were meticulous really, I just was not bright enough to twig them straight away. It is all good exercise for the brain I guess.
    Very strange weather, every time the sun comes out and it is bright I decide I should go for a walk and then the skies
    darken and it looks like the apocalypse is on its way . I am a fair-weather walker. Many thanks to Falcon and the setter.

  26. Thought the NW corner Toughie standard. For the first time in years on a Monday needed hints for 1a & 1d to get me over the line.
    8d my COTD for the Lee Westwood connection. Pity, for the second week running he couldn’t quite pull off the win. Still a nice little earner though.
    Thanks to Campbell & Falcon for the needed explanations.

    1. I was desperately disappointed & after it all began so promisingly with the opening hole birdie. If only he’d putted so solidly in round three he would have been another couple clear. I thought JT was the value bet (5/1 available) going into the final day but would never have bet against Lee. Don’t know if you caught his interview after but he’s taking his lad to Augusta for 36 holes today & tomorrow – wish he was my pa……

  27. Paul & Anne Not one for us. Started by putting “overall! in 1 down – a much better answer than warrant so couldn’t start. 1 across therefore impossible. Obtuse we would say or undo-able. Even with help from BigD some of the answers defied understanding. Might have to change our newspaper if things don’t improve!

  28. Too tricky for me, but lots of good clues: by the time I got stuck and started looking at the hints I’d only solved 6 clues … but I’d ticked 5 of them!

    Sorry, let me rephrase that: a really fun puzzle, and I aspire one day to be good enough at crosswords to be able to solve it.

    I gave up with 3 still to get in the bottom-left corner — and unlike with today’s Rookie Corner puzzle, there wasn’t a helpful theme to provide some extra letters. It turns out I’m not good on American cities, explorers, or words where the only crossing letter is O (because of crossing with the city and explorer).

    My favourite is 23D’s minimal definition, with other ticks to 11A, 12A, 19A, 23A, 2D, 7D, 17D, 20D, and 24D. I don’t think I’ve ever before had so many ticks in a crossword in which I solved so few unaided. Thank you Campbell for the puzzle and Falcon for letting me share in it.

    1. PS: I also enjoyed learning what an 8D is. I’d only heard the word before as the code-name for the technology used in Mozilla’s mobile web-browser. Given they also make Firefox, it makes sense that 8D would be a fox as well, but apparently I’d never considered it before.

      (A firefox isn’t a fox, of course: it’s a red panda.)

  29. Struggled like so many others on the NW. Needed hints to get 1A and certainly never heard of the use of that word for slanderous remarks. Hard work and not a lot of fun for me… But I have learned some new tricks thanks to Falcon’s parsing. ****/**

    1. Regarding the mud-slinging (or mudslinging):

      The term appears to have originated in the US in the later half of the 19th century and is likely based on a Roman dictum ”Fortiter calumniari, aliquia adhaerebit” (Throw plenty of dirt and some of it will be sure to stick).

      I thought maybe it was an “Americanism”. However, despite its American origins, the term seems long ago to have become naturalized across the pond.

  30. I agree this was tricky in places but I never find Campbell easy anyway.
    I’ve certainly never heard of the 1a plant and haven’t met the little fox but he looks so sweet that I’m glad to have made his acquaintance now.
    19a took me for ever even though it was very obviously an anagram.
    I liked 12 and 13a and 14d.
    Thanks to Campbell and to Falcon.

  31. Thanks to Campbell and to Falcon for the review and hints. I enjoyed what I could do, but found it very tricky. Managed three quarters of it, but I stupidly put ROI backwards at the end of 9a, by not reading the clue properly. That stopped me getting 4d. Still needed the hints for 1&11a and 1d. Favourite was 19a. Was 4* /4* for me.

  32. Phew made it 😳 ****/**** Some very clever clues 8d was new for me and I feel 19a is two words, I shall have to ask Susie Dent 😬 Favourites: 22 & 23a and 14d 🤗 Thanks as always to Campbell and the Falcon

  33. I thought this was a clever **** challenge that I failed dismally but have learned a lot in doing so. Thank you Campbell and Falcon

  34. Bit of a head scratcher for Monday in the northern half! Once over the hurdles managed it in ***/***. Going with 19a as fav as I look forward to visiting one as soon as they open to belatedly celebrate my lockdown birthday of this week 😞

  35. I agree the top half was trickier, but didn’t find it took that much longer than the south. Had to check the 8d existed. 5d favourite. 11a LOI. Thanks all. ***/****

  36. Bit of a slog, but got there in the end ***/**, a little too much GK for my liking. However, I did pick up some new knowledge with 8d and the fabulous bird in 22a, which is always satisfying.
    My favourites were the two lurkers – 2d for the smooth surface read; and 6d as it was my LOI and a Doh moment.
    Thanks to Campbell and Falcon

  37. An ok crossword and curiously, I found it no trickier than recent Campbell puzzles. Like most, I had many pencilled in answers in the NW until they eventually fell into place.
    12a reminded me of that old adage…”knowledge is knowing that pumpkin is a fruit, wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad!”
    Thanks to Falcon and Campbell

  38. I’m gradually emerging from weeks of hospitalisation and a medication haze so was relieved to make it through today’s cruciverbal challenge which I really enjoyed. NW corner slowed progress a bit. 8d new to me – what a strange creature. 27a was definitely Fav once I, as per other bloggers, had abandoned string-pulling! Thank you Campbell and Falcon.

    1. Good to know you are on the mend, Angellov. Hopefully you’ll be as right as rain in a few days.

  39. I’m in the “thank goodness others found this difficult” camp this evening. I found most things in the west almost toughie standard and certainly not in the spirit of a Monday crossword but hey ho I got there. I’ll go with 1a as my favourite. Thanks to Campbell and Falcon.

  40. I regularly find Monday puzzles the toughest of the week…..this seemed no worse (or better) than usual….like others, I found the top half the trickiest….but I liked 1a once I saw it….

  41. I counted 14 clues that involved replacing a word with a single letter abbreviation, that’s too many in my book and rather spoiled the puzzle.
    Thanks to Campbell and to Falcon for the excellent hints.

  42. I, too, found this difficult and abandoned it yesterday. However, having just romped through today’s (Tuesday);Toughie I returned to it and finished it. It wasn’t a fun solve was it?

  43. Well no-one will read this, but I finally finished Monday’s puzzle on Tuesday evening. This felt really tough and needed Mrs Ynot’s assistance but no other aids were used other than dogged persistence. NW corner caused the most problem. I couldn’t begin to estimate how many stars to give it

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