DT 29859 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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DT 29859

Daily Telegraph Cryptic No 29859

Hints and tips by 2Kiwis

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

Kia ora from Aotearoa.

We’re heading towards a record breaking rainy December We have blue skies with strong winds at the moment but the forecasters tell us that there are more systems with plenty of moisture heading our way. Bother!

A good thing we have enjoyable crosswords to distract and amuse us all.

Please leave a comment telling us how you got on.


1a     Investigates tense gangster finding religious office (10)
PRIESTHOOD : Investigates or probes, then T(ense) and a slang word for a gangster.

6a     Emperor penguins ultimately eaten by sailor (4)
TSAR : A three letter familiar nickname for a sailor contains the last letter of penguins.

10a     Recall almost always covering fine (5)
EVOKE : Place the two letters signifying fine or satisfactory inside another word for always with its last letter removed.

11a     Strange about European Community penchant for lying (9)
RECUMBENT : The abbreviation for European Community is enclosed by strange or odd and then a penchant or tendency.

12a     Walk to find answer during journeys east (7)
TRAIPSE : A synonym for journeys contains A(nswer) and all this is followed by E(ast).

13a     Bizarre and stupid quarrels with no origin (7)
SURREAL : An anagram (stupid) of (q)UARRELS once the first letter has been removed.

14a     Engineers search new posts for public transport facilities (7,5)
REQUEST STOPS : String together army engineers, a search or mission and an anagram (new) of POSTS.

18a     Fiercely sound horn, confronting worker with arrest (5,3,4)
TOOTH AND NAIL : The noise a horn makes, then a manual worker and a slang word for arrest or nobble.

21a     Artists young reporters will entertain first (7)
CUBISTS : Young reporters, or even bears or wolves surround ‘first’ written as a Roman numeral and two letters.

23a     Obsessions of German chap holding dog back? (4-3)
HANG-UPS : A common German name (not Otto this time) contains the reversal of a dog with a pushed-in nose.

24a     Small fruit with fresh flavour (9)
SPEARMINT : S(mall), then a fruit related to an apple and a word meaning fresh or new.

25a     South American chain oddly missing this dish (5)
SUSHI : The abbreviation for South, then the two letter abbreviation for American is followed by the second and fourth letters of chain.

26a     Shops starting to employ attention-seeker (4)
PSST : A lurker hiding in the clue, indicated by ‘to employ’.

27a     Person whose work may be forged (10)
BLACKSMITH : A cryptic definition. This forging is not falsifying.


1d     Rather small-minded about the centre of Perth (6)
PRETTY : The central letter of Perth is inside a word meaning small-minded.

2d     Descriptive line from Boris, upset about article? (6)
ISOBAR : An anagram (upset) of BORIS contains the indefinite article.

3d     Expensive case of lemonade drinks for jumpers (14)
STEEPLECHASERS. : Expensive or exorbitantly priced, the first and last letters of lemonade (case) and then drinks that are spirits that accompany beer.

4d     Capital rugby player, a buffoon! (9)
HARLEQUIN : A double definition. The rugby player comes from a London club.

5d     Comes a cropper holding up killers (5)
ORCAS : a reverse lurker, hiding in the clue.

7d     Key frame? (8)
SKELETON : A double definition. The frame may be osseous.

8d     Criminal hustlers showing no pity (8)
RUTHLESS : An anagram (criminal) of HUSTLERS.

9d     Brass-rubbers may be so described as artists (14)
IMPRESSIONISTS : A double definition. The artists could be Manet and Monet.

15d     Fake copy finally found in battered tin chest (9)
SYNTHETIC : An anagram (battered) of TIN CHEST contains the last letter of copy.

16d     Robs drink, depressed by criticism (6,2)
STICKS UP : An informal word for criticism and a verb meaning drink.

17d     Line crossed by Aussie mates is absolute nonsense (8)
COBBLERS : What Aussies commonly call their mates contains L(ine).

19d     Unusually impulsive VIP missing breakfast? (6)
MUESLI : Remove the letters VIP from impulsive and make an anagram (unusually) of what’s left.

20d     Book one’s first-class — that’s a surprise (6)
ISAIAH : Roman numeral one with its ‘S, then the two letters signifying first class are followed by an expression of surprise.

22d     So far yet not moving (5)
STILL : A double definition.

1a delayed our start so we’ll go with that as favourite.

Quickie pun    wager    +    nurse    =    wage earners

83 comments on “DT 29859

  1. This was by no means plain sailing and involved a fair bit of head scratching. 26a completely eluded me and I had to resort to electrons. 1d meaning “rather”? I suppose so at a stretch and 2d is a descriptive line in a way. All a bit quirky for me but fun nevertheless. My COTD is 23a. The Quickie pun didn’t work for me no matter how I pronounced it.

    Many thanks to Jay? Not sure but, if not, thanks to the setter. Thanks also to the 2 Kiwis for making sense of things.

    Time to start making two cottage pies – one for dinner and one for the freezer.

    Nice to see the festive banner on the site.

    1. Re 1d Steve, I think they work perfectly well as synonyms
      “I thought this was a rather/pretty good puzzle”

  2. I couldn’t help but notice that we had, “penchant for lying”, “buffoon” and “Boris” (not to mention “bizarre and stupid” and “rather small minded”) all in the top half. Coincidence? Surely not.
    As for the puzzle itself, I thought it was an absolute peach, I take my hat off to the setter. Impossible to pick a favourite but 18,23&26a all made me smile.
    Thanks to setter and the 2Ks.
    Ps 22d is a triple definition.

      1. More mud slinging. I wonder what decisions aome of the ceitics would make if they had to take responsibility for decision making about potential deaths from omicron?

        1. It’s easy to criticise when you have neither responsibility nor accountability for the decision.

        2. “Uneasy lies the head that wears the crown”. Who on earth would want that job. Btw, nicely illustrated Hints today, thank you.

    1. Before this comment thread gets any longer, can I remind people that BD likes the blog to be a politics-free area

      1. I totally agree CS, people know my opinion on that subject. Just to be clear I wasn’t expressing any political views whatsoever, just pointing out something that I thought conspicuous in the puzzle.

        1. SL
          I seem to recall a discussion some time ago where (if I remember correctly) it was said that the printed puzzles had been submitted a number of weeks before publication. So perhaps it is just serendipitous

    2. 2d sent my mind off at various tangents with the words Boris and descriptive in the same sentence.

  3. 3.5*/4.5*. It took me quite a while to get started today. Then it all came together with a bit of teasing out along the way, and it was a pleasure to solve.

    Isn’t the convention for 19d to require a secondary anagram indicator where the letters to be removed (in this case VIP) don’t appear in the source word in the same order?

    With plenty of great clues to choose from, my podium comprises 11a (great surface), 7d & 9d.

    Many thanks to the three birds.

  4. I have to record a DNF for this puzzle as 26a baffled me completely. Thanks to the Kiwis for wnlightenment. There were some very clever clues but it was all a bit of a slog, with not a lot of fun to be had (4*/2*). It took me ages to figure out 4d and some help was needed from Mr CC, who is a Rugby Union fan, unlike me. I mist confess, i have not heard the synonym ‘buffoon’ used for a 4d before either. Thanks to the compiler for their efforts.

    1. CC
      I think 4d was the winner in the Prize clue competition in the Puzzles Newsletter a few weeks back.

  5. Beautifully awkward and pleasantly misleading in enough places to make this one of the trickiest backpagers for some time. The relative toughness certainly made it more enjoyable and rewarding. A terrific selection of top quality clues from which to pick a COTD, and 11a was a real cracker and made me laugh, but my favourite was 3d.

    Thanks to Jay, if it was indeed he, and the 2Ks. Frustratingly, the Toughie has failed to appear in the online version, so I have to visit the Telegraph puzzles website.

  6. Yay! Another unaided finish, I’m on a roll. The NW was my last quadrant to fall, mainly because I couldn’t recall the right gangster.

    We’ve had 26a previously, and I quite like it. The Quickie pun eluded me completely, the best I managed was wagoners.

    Thanks to the setter and the 2Ks.

  7. Haven’t looked at the puzzle (singular) yet but notice that for the second day running the Toughie isn’t in the digital edition. Having pleaded for it to be included & DT finally doing so surely they’ve not decided to pull it. On the plus side the offer to allow subscribers to gift a second piggyback subscription free of charge is extremely generous.

    1. “Mr Bond, they have a saying in Chicago: ‘Once is happenstance. Twice is coincidence. The third time it’s enemy action’.”

  8. As expected that was a tad harder than earlier in the week. I have been trying to follow the Miffypops maxim of saving ink by doing this mentally but failed miserably. If I have doubt about parsings I have to write it out and give a good coat of looking at it before I can commit to an answer. As such I have more written in the margins than on the puzzle. 20d was an example but when the penny dropped I recalled a childhood teddy bear, not named for religious reasons but because one eye’s higher than the other one.
    26a Is that a word?
    psst or pst exclamation used to draw someone’s attention quietly or surreptitiously.
    ETYMOLOGY: 1920s.
    BRB confirms it.
    Thanks to (I presume) Jay and the 2 Kiwi’s
    Nice sunny crisp morning here I think I will take Mama Bee for a stroll along the Ouse and maybe afternoon tea at Betty’s

    1. As I should have known Betty’s was queueing round the block but we went to the shop and bought a nice Christmas cake and found a nice cup of coffee down the road.

      1. My tastebuds are frequently tickled by their promotional emails – perhaeps more convenient than queueing on site!

  9. This was great fun, thank you setter. LOI 26a like lots of others above.
    I seemed to find the 2-coffee sweet spot and fairly cruised through this morning, held up a little by 24a, 26a and 16d which I didn’t like much.
    Thanks 2 Kiwis

  10. Pleased to see that I wasn’t alone in struggling with 26a and failing to make sense of the Quickie pun!
    A very enjoyable puzzle with top marks going to 9d and a nod to the seasonal reference in 12a.

    Thanks to Jay and to our 2Ks for the review – sounds as though you could be in for something approaching a UK December!

  11. Arrrgh! 26a! Arrrghhh! *weeps*
    26a was the only one that prevented me finishing unaided!
    However – a great crossword that needed some brain power and head scratching, but I enjoyed it all apart from ARRRGHHH! 26A

    Today’s crossword soundtrack: Alison Krauss and Robert Plant – Raise The Roof

    Thanks to the setter and the 2Ks


    1. Great choice for the soundtrack. Amazon delivered my copy of their first CD Raising Sand yesterday. I have to wait another couple of weeks for Raise the Roof.

        1. Whisper it to Terence, Jose, that a four letter lurker was my LOI & it gave a DOH! moment it was my COTD. I’m easy to please.

    2. 26 across. If all else fails look for a lurker. I’ve got Mr Plant and Ms Krause on hold until after Christmas Day. Until then the only album is

  12. Jay with a definite ‘hint’ of his Toughie alter ego Logman – ***/****.

    Candidates for favourite – 12a, 18a, 27a, 3d, and 9d – and the winner is 9d.

    Thanks to Jay and the 2Kiwis.

  13. As GD says lots of fun ,nicely clued with nothing obscure.
    Liked 21a and 24 across for the surfaces.
    Last in was 26a, which turned out to be incorrect! thanks to 2k.s for the lurker.
    I had Pose-short for Poseur- I constructed this from shops-POS=Post Offices together with E the starting letter from Employ-good try!
    Going for a ***/****

  14. A very pleasing Wednesday puzzle with fine clues providing a good tussle. I’ve ticked quite a few and will pick 26a as my favourite, though I would have put a ! after the definition. 3.5*, 4.5*

  15. No problem with 26ac. My stand out clue is 11ac. A very sound crossword.

    Thanks to Jay and 2Ks

  16. I’m embarrassed to admit that 1a took ages before the penny dropped and as such is my favourite today. I really wanted to fit play school in there even though there is no rhyme or reason for that. 26a was a guess. I couldn’t come up with anything else but didn’t realise it was even a real word. ***/**** Great fun. Thanks to all.

  17. A great (presumably Jay) puzzle followed by a dog walk on the beach in the pale winter sunshine gave a lovely start to the day, Puzzle between ** & *** difficulty but was **** enjoyment / satisfaction.
    9d was a clever clue but COTD was 26a. I guessed it might not be to everyone’s liking. I wonder how much comes from kicking themselves for not seeing it. “If all else fails etc”.
    Bouquets for Jay & the 2K’s.
    Brickbats to the Telegraph for the non-appearance of the Toughie again. Has the policy of putting it in the e version been reversed?

    1. I’ve brought this up to the puzzles editor who was unaware that the Toughie had not been included. He is now on the case

      1. Thank you MP. Hopefully the person who did it will u do it.

        Glad that lightning missed Biggles!

  18. I thought that this was a trickier-than-usual Jay but nonetheless brilliant for all that. Luckily, I saw into 26a early on, solved the breakthrough 3d when I was floundering, and then eased my way into a exultant 2.9* finish (haha). I don’t do ticks online of course, but if I could, they’d be all over the place, starting with that fiercely witty18a and including 11a, 1a, 4d, 13a …and ending with that stern but ever-hopeful 20d, my COTD. My LOI was 14a, something we don’t have over here any longer, if we ever did. I loved this one. Thanks to the Kiwis and Jay. 2.5* / 5*

  19. Clues are nicely intricate. SW brought up the rear. I wondered if everyone would be aware of 4d which came quickly to my mind thanks to many happy times at Twickenham for the Seven-a-Sides in days of yore. 17d Aussie mates new to me. Not sure where “up” comes from for 5d. Simple Fav 9d. Thank you Jay (?) and 2Kiwis.

  20. Having completed Imogen’s Graun puzzle I was expecting to breeze through this but found it jolly tough. 1a,4d & 14a were the hold ups for me. With 14a I convinced myself engineers was the anagrind (search + N for new & posts) & the other two only fell when that penny eventually dropped. I didn’t know 4d was a buffoon & had reckoned Al was bound to figure in 1a. Anyway got there eventually & thought it a super crossword packed with excellent clues. 1,11,14,18,23&26a plus 3,4&9d could make up 3 podia.
    Thanks to Jay (agree with Senf’s observation) & the 2Ks
    Ps Lateral flow test kits the new pasta/toilet roll/petrol crisis? It would be easier to procure gold bullion currently so hope it’s just a temporary blip.

      1. I got nowhere with Brendan’s Prize that you finished.
        I’m on a good run this week in the Graun now the the distractions of the Florida sunshine are a receding memory

  21. I too failed at 26a. Best I could manage was pest.
    Failed at 12a too, so not my best day, but enjoyed the rest of it. Very pleased with myself for remembering 4d was a rugby team.

    Thanks to the setter and to the 2 Kiwis. Hope your weather improves soon.

  22. A Wednesday puzzle that I found very straightforward and no bizarre definitions. I am assuming this week is a Jay offering as he was not on last week.
    I found that I needed no hints for this one, so that was pleasing too. 2*/4* for me today.
    Clues for favourites include 14a, 18a, 2d, 5d & 7d with winner 2d closely followed by 7d.
    Liked the 18a clue for its lego quality as well as 3d too.

    Thanks to the 3 birds today

  23. What a lot of fun for a woozy headed lad to solve. Lovely clues throughout. Thanks to Jay and the 2Ks

  24. I really had to work hard at this one and 26a and 20d my last ones in. I think we have had 26a quite recently. My Water Rail is back and I literally fell off my chair with excitement so he ran down the garden and is now mooching around down there. I will try and get a photo when he gets closer but my phone takes forever to fire up and runs out of battery too quickly to leave on. I’m also very annoyed the Toughie isn’t appearing electronically. Anyway thanks to the setter and the 2 Kiwis.

  25. I return after an absence due to mater’s 90th birthday rather grand celebration in Sussex. I thought our Antipodean friend’s rating of ***/**** bang on. Strangely my eye wandered down to 26a first off and it luckily came to mind. Being an anagram man the rest came to light within *** time. So many top clues here I cannot pick one out. I am not sure if the censor will allow my photographof mum’s lunch table pre lunch but I shall endeavour to do so.

  26. Nice midweeker solvable with plenty of clever clues 😃 My Favourites: 1a, 14a, 3d, 5d & 15d 🤗 Thanks to the 2x Ks and Jay. Do you get Water Rail in NZ🤔

  27. A very enjoyable puzzle today, only stumped by 26a like many others. I almost penned in “pose” but it just didn’t gel. COTD for me was 3d, closely followed by 9d. If this was indeed a Jay then I am jumping up and down with glee. One of his, and a three star to boot. Doesn’t get much better than that. Thanks to Jay and 2Kiwis.

  28. Looks like it was 26a that gave most strife here. It always amazes us that lurkers manage to stay hidden so long when they are always right there in front of you. When we solve together if one person says “When all else fails…….” it is a hint that a lurker has been missed.
    It looks like it has at last stopped raining so hope things will start drying again. Fingers crossed.

  29. My run of success came to an end today! 5a completely threw me because I made the wrong assumption about ‘lying’ and the reverse lurker in 5d was too elusive. A terrific challenge, thank you Jay and 2Ks

  30. I started this at lunchtime as usual but had to dash off to an Almshouse Trustee meeting. The break sharpened the brain because I came back and finished it off immediately. What a lovely puzzle, stars by 11,18 and 23a and 19d. Many thanks to the three birds.

  31. WOW. That was tough! I knew we would pay for the super puzzles so far this week.
    Thx for the hints for explaining 19d, 14a and the worst clue this month in 26a.
    Although completed I really did not enjoy this one at all.

  32. On reflection, I don’t know why this puzzle took so long to finish.
    Stupidly, 14a held me up for some time as I would insist on sticking to a wrong construction of its second word.
    And a certain lurker added to my **** time. Shameful!
    Many thanks, indeed to Jay? or another setter for the stimulating tussle.
    And thanks to the 2Kiwis.

  33. I’m in the ‘I made harder work of this than I should have’ camp this evening. 26a has cropped up numerous times recently and at least it was a lurker. Favourite was 9d. Thanks to the setter and and 2K’s.

  34. Good evening to you all.late on parade again, but at least I made it tonight. Lateness in no small part due to this brain teaser, which took me well over time.
    So many CoD but so many that I entered incorrectly!
    Many thanks to setter & 2KWs for much needed assistance… stay safe everyone please.

  35. Glad I’m not the only one to have had trouble with 26a…..but I thought it was a fair and clever clue…

  36. This was a masterpiece. Do people never learn “If all else fails… “ What more you want than two checkers out of four and a lurker (not even a reverse) in plain sight. Last in for me were 1a and 2d. Top marks to 18a followed in no particular order by 1 14 and 24a and 1, 3 4 and 19d. Thank you Jay and 2Ks. Always enjoy the hints even when not needed.

  37. 3*/1*…..
    liked 26A ” Shops starting to employ attention-seeker (4) ” … my last one in.

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