DT 29656 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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DT 29656

Daily Telegraph Cryptic No 29656

Hints and tips by Miffypops

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

BD Rating – Difficulty *** Enjoyment ***

The sun is already shining here in Barrel just before 7.00am. I feel beer may be involved later.

With a geezer literally out of the ark, a character from a novel from centuries past an outdated pop chart, references to 1960s dances and ditty singers I needed a time machine to complete today’s puzzle. I suppose that probably confirms Giovanni as the setter who dropped in yesterday to comment on Cryptic Sue’s review of Toughie 2631.

Please leave a comment telling us what you thought. 


1a        Little mite smuggled aboard ship doesn’t go away (6)
STICKS: This mite is a parasitic arachnid which is to be placed between the letters used by setters to suggest a steamship and indicated by the words on board. It’s become quite normal to me but now appears to be a touch strange

5a        Platforms allowing vocal quartet to be heard (8)
FORETOPS: Split 4,4 This platform at the top of a ship’s foremast sounds like a cheesy Tamla Motown vocal group from the last century. I’m feeling quite seasick already. I hope we reach dry land soon

9a        Dedication of US university evident in discussion (10)
COMMITMENT: The initials of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology sit snugly inside a synonym of the word discussion

10a      Endless sarcasm offered by good conductor (4)
IRON: A word similar in meaning to sarcasm needs to have its last letter removed to leave a metal which is a good conductor of electricity

11a      Support fire damaged in arch (8)
BEFRIEND: An anagram (damaged) of FIRE sits inside an arch or curve

12a      Shiny stuff — no good — rubbish! (6)
LITTER: Remove the abbreviation for good from the beginning of a word meaning shiny stuff that isn’t gold

13a      Second character surviving flood is a fraud (4)
SHAM: The abbreviation for second is followed by the second of Noah’s three sons

15a      Most untidy place for eating that is on street (8)
MESSIEST: A place for eating (particularly by the armed forces) is followed by the Latin abbreviation for that is and another abbreviation, this time for street

18a      Rugby player Don played in teachers’ team maybe (5-3)
STANDOFF: A collective term for the teachers in a school surrounds an anagram (played) of DON

19a      What is expected by end of week is place in which to relax (4)
PARK: A term meaning the norm or what is expected (as a score on a golf course for example) is followed by the last letter of the word week

21a      Duty of a queen intervening in row (6)
TARIFF:  A mild spat contains the letter a from the clue and the initial letter denoting a Queen (Regina)

23a      Situation with inadequate leader: such will be ineffective (8)
PLACEBOS: A situation or location is followed by the head of a company minus his or her last letter (inadequate)

25a      Girl? One may be hugged by mother returning (4)
MAID: The letter that looks like the number one is surrounded by the reverse of the female parent of a domesticated animal

26a      Family member tries changing by incremental amounts (10)
STEPSISTER: An anagram (changing) of TRIES follows small changes in a gradual process 

27a      Raven had to fly around terrace (8)
VERANDAH: Anagram (to fly around) of RAVEN HAD

28a      Cruelty making one unhappy is last thing kingdom needs (6)
SADISM: A word meaning unhappy followed by the word is from the clue and capped off by the last letter of the word kingdom. “Hit me” demanded the masochist. “No” replied the sadist


2d        That group shows spirit, first to last (5)
THOSE: the characteristic spirit of a culture, era, or community as manifested in its attitudes and aspirations needs to have its first letter moved from the beginning to the end of the word

3d        Fellows who may shoot others without killing them (9)
CAMERAMEN: Those who shoot pictures not guns

4d        Dog in sofa, not quite right (6)
SETTER: A long sofa for two or more people minus its last letter (not quite) has the abbreviation for right added

5d        Human right that could result in cheeps (7,2,6)
FREEDOM OF SPEECH:  This clue is a description of how an anagram of the word cheeps becomes a human right. This clue construction was explained most thoroughly recently but I cannot recall by whom, or when, or what this type of use of anagrams is called

6d        Wicked hustlers showing no mercy (8)
RUTHLESS: An anagram (wicked) of HUSTLERS. Nothing to do with the clue but split 4,4 it describes my ex brother in law after my sister left him

7d        Young fellow requesting extra   dance (5)
TWIST: The name of a dance popular in the middle of the last century is also the surname of the boy who asked for more in a Charles Dickens novel from the century before that

8d        I have a chair, I declare (9)
PROFESSOR: The holder of a chair in a university might also be a person who declares utterances 

14d      Old listing of characters involved in apartheid (3,6)
HIT PARADE: An anagram (of characters involved in) of APARTHEID will provide an outdated method of measuring the success of records sold by such as those alluded to at 5 across

16d      Confession of someone in a hurry was breathtaking? (9)
IMPRESSED: The usual spoken form of ‘I am’ is followed by a word meaning pushed for time or in a hurry

17d      Bewildered prisoner mingled (8)
CONFUSED: A three-letter member of the criminal fraternity is followed by a word meaning joined or blended together to form a single entity

20d      Parts of document getting left out — the reasons? (6)
CAUSES: Separate articles in a contract need to have the abbreviation for left removing

22d      Pouring rain’d come from me? (5)
INDRA: This god of rain and thunder can be worked out from an anagram (pouring) of RAIN’D. Our gardens and farms could do with some rain

24d      Old chaps beginning to see warning signs (5)
OMENS: The abbreviation for old is followed by the pronoun for adult males and the initial letter of the word see

Quickie Pun Whines Heller = Wine Cellar


68 comments on “DT 29656

  1. I got there in the end, but it took two visits and *** time.

    5a is a bit of GK that I didn’t know, I thought it was part of the rigging. I also thought that 8d was a little strange and 20 down was my last in. However, I think the one that I spent the most time on was 23a, so that is my vote for COTD.

    Many thanks to Giovanni, if it is he, and MP.

  2. As MP said, Giovanni popped into yesterday’s Toughie blog to express his philosophy on aspects of cryptic crosswords that cause endless comments on this blog. I don’t necessarily agree with him bit he’s the setter and I’m a mere solver admiring his skill and (mostly) enjoying his puzzles.

    I want sure of the parsing of the rather weak 25a and didn’t like the obscure 5a with the dated homophone reference. Had to check the God at 22d too. However they were balanced by a plethora of really good clues. Thought the reverse anagram at 5d was great and big ticks also go to 23&26a plus 2,4&20d
    Going for 3/3.5*
    Many thanks to Giovanni and to MP for the entertainment.

  3. Some while ago a correspondent to the Telegraph said he wondered why the crossword was always harder on a Thursday. This week I am forced to agree with him.
    Took me about twice as long than usual. None the worse for that of course. I enjoyed it.

  4. I found this difficult to get into and some of the clues seemed unnecessarily convoluted, although 5a was witty. Thank you, MP, for explaining the parsing of 5d, which I bunged in and 2d, which I guessed on the basis of the letters I had (incorrectly). There were a few rather weak clues here such as 8d, which was an exercise in obfuscation and 11a, where bend taken as synonymous with arch was a bit of a stretch. The surface of some clues was less than smooth, as in the case of 28a, where the misdirection was a bit clumsy. Altogether it took longer than average and was not all that enjoyable (3*/2*). Thanks to MP and the compiler.

  5. 23a also held me up and was my last one in because the clue suggests a singular answer, not a plural one, but nothing else seemed to fit the checking letters I had. I did in fact breathe a huge sigh of relief when I finished this quite tough and strange puzzle. But it takes all kinds, doesn’t it? I assume this is Giovanni at work, and he usually gives me fits, but today I was victorious. Yay. No favourites, sorry. But thanks to the valiant and ever-resourceful MP for the hints and consolations, and to the setter for this extended oddity. *** / ***

    Most enjoyable Thursday Toughie (which I finished in one sitting! Saints preserve us.) As my grandmother on the farm used to cry, “Merciful Guidance!”

    1. I had a great aunt, who would exclaim in a broad rural accent from the Essex/Suffolk borders, “Ye gods and little fishes!”.

      1. So did I but mine was from Devon – she was almost totally blind and absolutely hilarious – my sister and I loved her coming to stay.

        1. The only saying I can recall is my mother placing her hand on her mouth and saying “May the saints preserve us! “

  6. Quite a testing puzzle for a Thursday with the last half a dozen clues taking as long as the rest of the grid to complete. Among them were 10a and 7d, my final entries. 23a was my top clue this morning. As a lover of GK this crossword held no terrors for me and I thoroughly enjoyed the challenge.

    My thanks to The Don and MP.

  7. Thursday Quickies are turning into Toughies 🤨
    I had a different answer for the quickies 1a which gave me an equally valid pun ( Chancellor)

    Need to go for a walk now and recharge the brain before starting the back-pager and Toughie

    1. We had the same thought as you re the quickie pun. Works either way for me!
      It was quite a tough quickie!

  8. Fairly straightforward, but I’m afraid it did not raise too many smiles here.
    Fortunately I am old enough to remember 5a and 14d, but younger solvers might struggle.
    I thought the contrived anagram at 22d was particularly weak.
    Still, I was cheered up no end by watching Jonny drop that winning goal in 2003 off his weaker right foot. It still gives me goose bumps all these years later!
    Thanks MP!

    1. The Johnny Wilkinson clip all goes together so well. Ian Robertson’s excitable commentary. The effort on the pitch. Rob Andrew’s shout as the ball goes over. Perfect. I had the commentary as a ringtone for a couple of years afterwards. Just right whenever we were in the company of Australians.

      1. I was on a locum job in Stirling and Mrs. C and I were staying in our caravan. We had a TV but the signal was awful so we listened to the match on the radio. You should have heard the noise from us both when Johnny Wilkinson gave that drop kick in the final seconds! The owner of the farm, a keen rugby player, where we were staying ran over to us shouting, “Did you see it? Did you see Wilkinson’s drop goal?”

        A memory that will never fade.

  9. Heck, that was tough! I said at the start of the week when I struggled with Monday’s offering that I was about to have a bad week and that has proven to be true. In fact, my best crossword this week was Chalicea’s Toughie and that is not something I can usually say.

    Still, with the help of a Mr. G and MP’s terrific hints, I managed to struggle over the finish line. No real favourite today – I was just pleased to finish.

    Many thanks to the setter and to MP for the amusing hints.

    I wonder what Brian will have to say? :grin:

    1. I thought Beams Toughie was quite accessible this morning – for a Beam Toughie that is

      1. I’ll go and have a look MP but I rarely get far with a Toughie this far into the week.

      2. You were quite correct, Miffypops. The Toughie by Beam was most enjoyable although I needed help for about a third of it. Then I found out why it clicked with me. I did not know that Beam was Ray T. 👍

  10. Not sure about this one. Doesn’t really smack of Giovanni as some clues were sloppy like 5d but others were clever such as 3d.
    Never heard of the god or Noahs son (more ***** religious clues, Grrrr!).
    We seem to be going through a tough period on the DT Cryptic, nice for those who enjoy such things but sometimes it’s like having 2 Toughies a day which is unbalanced. I have a suspicion it is due to the DT crossword editor also being an experienced setter so they seem much easier to him, just a theory.
    Thx to all

    1. Or perhaps the editor in question has been exhorted by those in charge to aim for ever-increasing difficulty, a bit like the EU and ever-increasing union?

    2. I am surprised that everyone has not heard of Noah’s son. It is something most of us learnt as little children in rhymes and stories. Perhaps the setter will oblige you another time with the well-known character in one of the best known books by Charles Dickens. That, however, may not please everyone but then you can’t please all of the people every time.

  11. Well… I found this one a little peculiar. I had to order the old retainer to bring me the largest thesaurus he could carry, and the volumes of reference books, and I still had to fall back on the splendid hints from the equally splendid Miffo for a couple. Quite a learning experience.

    Amazon delivered a cat door for little Lola yesterday (I held back on doing this for ages as I didn’t want my lovely neighbours thinking I was trying to take her even further away, but they are in full agreement as it is clear that Lola is not returning ‘home’ now) but her microchip was not recognised by the cat door’s ‘learning mode’ so Lola is going back to the vet next week for a new chip to be inserted (sounds a bit painful to me) and for a review of her steroid intake (as they are making her pile the weight on faster than me at an all-you-can-eat buffet).

    Today’s crossword soundtrack: Yacht Rock (Spotify playlist)

    Thanks to the setter (Giovanni?) and The Miff.

    1. My goodness. A microchip recognizing cat door, wish they had that back when we had our cat Merlin in England. When we used to come down to the kitchen in the morning it was to see half the neighborhood cats scrambling rapidly out through the flap. He apparently liked to play open house host at night ….

    2. I keep wondering, regarding our hintmaster today, how many more nicknames you’re going to come up with for what is already a nickname…

  12. Managed just over half before resorting to either electronics or the hints.
    Not much fun for me.

    Thanks to the setter and to MP.

  13. Having had a quick look through and only solving two clues, I’m not sure that I am that fussed about even starting this one! I’ll go back through the archives and look for an accessible toughie. Thanks for the answers MP, I might have a look later.

  14. This was an interesting one – only got about 4 at first glance but then slow and steady and unlike Brian I thought 5d was a great clue. 17d I was trying to make an anagram of prisoner! 25d a bit weak but mostly I enjoyed this a lot. Loved the rugby clip – we were watching with friends and I got so excited couldn’t take any more so said I was off to Sainsburys – they locked the doors so I couldn’t go and I am so glad they did! If India is put on the red list why isn’t it with immediate effect? What is the point in allowing literally thousands of people in who may be highly infectious? Rant over. Ta to the setter and MP.

  15. 21a threw me as I can never remember how to spell it. Looking at the (hidden) answers, it seems neither can Miffypops!

  16. The left hand side went in fairly easily but I had to work hard for the rest. 5A brought back memories but my COTD is the clever 5D.
    Thanks to MP and the setter.

  17. Normal Thursday for me, seldom manage to complete one. Still can’t see how 16d fits the clue, where does confession come into it and shouldn’t it end with “ive “ to fit with breathtaking. I know it’s too many letters before anyone comments. MP I think you spelt your answer to 21a wrong . Cowers behind sofa waiting for a response 😳. Thanks to all.

    1. Not sure how 16d works Dave as the answer doesnt seem to be a synonym of the definition. Best I could come up with is split 2/7 how someone would say (confession) they are in a hurry and if they were literally pressed it would be breathtaking, hence the question mark at the end of the clue. I may be barking up the wrong tree though!

  18. Only two required electronic help and both were the result of not reading the clues properly. Nothing jumped out as a favourite but it was an interesting puzzle.

    My thanks to MP and the setter.

  19. Very enjoyable – needed Miffypops answers to confirm my assumptions for a few of them. “Pouring” as an anagram indicator (22d) was a first for me. Best clue 2d for me – when will I remember the meaning of “first to last”? Glad it was rated 3 star difficulty – it was for me.

  20. Did anyone else think the answer to 19a was bunk? I thought a bun (if in the oven) is something ‘expected’ which fitted nicely. I might even argue it’s a snappier answer but wrong nonetheless!

    1. 100% with you on that. I was so convinced of this ‘snappy’ answer that I got hopelessly stuck on 8 and 18 down

  21. Really enjoyed this Giovanni delight, coming as it does after his satisfying Toughie yesterday.

    At first glance thought it was going to be a ‘mare, so diverted my attention to the SE, which fell into place swiftly and with 5d giving a backbone to the puzzle it became a reasonably rapid z-shaped solve. Just wish that for the surface 4d could have read ‘on’ rather than ‘in’ … as our own pack have all individually had to learn over the years!

    2* / 4*

    So many good clues, chuckles and laughs – 8, 9 and 19a; 2, 3, 7, and 20d all carry ticks on the print-out – but for me sharing the top step on the podium are the wonderful 5d and 8d (I groaned when that particular penny dropped!).

    Many thanks to Giovanni, and to MP for the review

  22. I liked constructions such as “last thing kingdom needs” and “inadequate leader”.
    Knew the group in 5a but not the sailing term.
    Good cryptic in 3d.
    Thanks to the setter for the enjoyment factor and to MP for the review.

  23. I am quickly losing interest in this one. Not even sure if it is a Ray T, doesn’t feel like it. I’ve already told Merusa that she didn’t miss Jay on Wednesday while she is out of the loop. Actually she picked a good week, as they’ve all been strange and on the tougher side. Perversely, I’ve found some of this week’s Toughies more friendly than usual. The setter lost me at 5a and 5d, clearly above my pay grade. Thanks Miffypops, might come back for another stab later.

    1. Hi, BL. What do you hear from Merusa? I hope that she is progressing well and will be able to rejoin us soon.

  24. Completed unaided but needed two rather lengthy sessions.
    Stupidly, 2d and 11a held me up.
    So ****/*****
    Can’t readily identify the setter but many thanks for a great mental workout.
    And thanks to Miffypops.

  25. This was one of those where you struggle for a bit and get the one which acts as a laxative for the next 4 or 5 answers. I was still left without 20d and 23a at the end. Only minor complaints about them, which are peculiar to me. I think of clauses as being in contracts, rather than most documents as such and I also never assume 23s are ineffective……sometimes the effect is surprisingly powerful. That isn’t any sort of criticism, just a reason why the answers didn’t come to me from the checkers.
    I also spent too long thinking 13 was scam, which interfered with 18 – I only got that when it couldn’t really be anything else and my OH confirmed it for me. I wasn’t a big fan of that clue anyway. I wonder if it is autobiographical and sentimental for our setter?

    Thanks to MP for the pics. The conjunction of a reel to reel and the 5a group shot me right back to Sep 1966, when I got such a device for my birthday and was forever taping Pick of the Pops on a Sunday and records from friends that I couldn’t afford to buy. I even took it to University with me a few years later.

  26. I enjoyed the puzzle, thanks to both hinter and setter. The engineering pedant in me says good is not an adjective that describes the conductivity of iron. About 20% of copper.

      1. Me too because my dad was a radio engineer and he never used iron wire!
        Am I correct in thinking gold is the best conductor?

  27. Not a lot of fun to be had today so wonder if this did in fact come from DG whose puzzles I usually enjoy so much. North less challenging than South although my GK let me down with 13a and indeed again with 22d. Today’s spelling of 27a is as per my thinking this time. 8d hard to properly parse. 7d amused and brought back jolly memories of getting stck into that energetic dance. Thank you to whomever and to hinty MP.

  28. Found this on the tricky side of tricky but enjoyable once solved 😃 ****/*** Favourites 11a & 7d 🤗 Thanks to MP and to Giovanni 👍

  29. As is typical for me I struggled somewhat with this Giovanni puzzle. It is truly a wavelength thing for me with him. ***/*** today, with the SE holding me up for the longest time, even with the hints on a few of them. 5a was GK one I did not know nor 22d, but figured them out with some Google time. Clues that I liked included 9a, 21a, 26a, 5d, 7d &14d with winners being 26a & 7d. 3d & 14d made me smile too.

    Thanks to Giovanni & MP for the hints much needed in the SE

  30. Thank you Giovanni and MP. For me this was much more fun than yesterday which I found tortuous. I managed without aids. Did not know the word at 5a but was doable with the homophone. Favourites were 11 and 13a and 2 3 5 and 8d. I only added 5d to my list of favourites after I had read MP’s explanation of the parsing. I think we had the terrace a few days ago but without the H. Not many were write-ins for me but the ones that were were a great help. Like others I struggled with 23a and 20d. I jumped for joy when I got the latter but was deflated when I thought I was a letter short. I am not sure why 20d took me so long and even then I had got to the last vowel going through the alphabet before the penny dropped. I have no difficulty in associating clauses with documents.

  31. Not as difficult as I usually find Giovanni but not a bundle of laughs.
    I think 5d is rapidly becoming a trademark kind of clue for Giovanni, a bit like the Queen and the sweetheart is for Ray T – it seems to have divided the commentariat – I quite like it.
    I’ve never heard of 5a and didn’t know the god at 22d – just assumed that there are monsoons in India so that’s where rain comes from – you can all call me dim, if you like!
    I liked 8d.
    Thanks to Giovanni and to Miffs, as I’ll now call him!

  32. Late to this after golf & a quick read through of the comments but not the review yet. Found it tricky in places & suspected it might be Giovanni (thought he was a bit shirty in his Toughie comments yesterday). There were a few clues I wasn’t overly keen on but plenty I really liked. My favourite was 5d (condemned by Brian as sloppy) followed by the 5a homophone because it made me play Baby I Need Your Loving very loudly.
    Thanks to Giovanni & to Miffs for what I’m sure will be his usual entertaining review.

  33. Never heard of the platform in 5a or the God in 22d but hey ho! I have now, every day’s a school day. I didn’t struggle with too much else though. I didn’t think the clue for 23a implied singular and unlike Brian I thought 8d was splendid therefore my COTD. Thanks to the setter and MP.

  34. No enjoyment in solving all but 3 clues and taking ages in the process. 5a surely relies on you being a 300 year old sailor. 23a also defeated me. Having worked briefly in medical trials, placebos are a very effective tool so would have dismissed it as an answer even if I thought of it. 20d was another one to defeat me.

    13a and 18a were bung ins. Who knew Noah had a son…? Not me. I also don’t spend my precious free time memorising all the various terms of every sport I don’t have the slightest interest in. How about some Formula 1 terms…? 😀

    Here’s hoping the offering tomorrow is more enjoyable.


    Thanks to all.

  35. Phew, that took me all day on and off, nothing much to add to all of the comments above. Some perverse satisfaction in finishing but it was a bit of a slog. The review by MP cheered me up though. Favourite was 5a.
    Thanks to the setter and MP.

  36. Is it National Tricky Crossword week? This is the third in row where I’ve given up, having decided I really can’t be bothered. Come on Mr Lancaster – what’s the point of having the Toughie if the backpager is this tricky? A week without Jay, Ray T and Chalicea is a week without any cruciverbial fun. Nul points from me.

  37. 16d doesn’t work for me. Impressed = someone’s reaction to something. Breathtaking = impressive, a description of the something.

  38. Looking at this over my morning coffee. I can only comment that yesterday’s Toughie was far more enjoyable.

  39. May I put my pedant’s hat on for 11D in the quickie to point out that the arachnid is venomous, and not poisonous? ;-)

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