DT 29869 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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DT 29869

Daily Telegraph Cryptic No 29869

Hints and tips by Mr K

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BD Rating  -  Difficulty *** Enjoyment ****

Hello, everyone, and welcome to the final Tuesday puzzle of 2021. It's a good one. It's got amusing cryptic definitions, a couple of clues where sorting out the vocabulary might require a visit to the dictionary, and some wordplay that needed a scratch of the head to hint. That sounds like X-Type to me. Thanks to him and the other setters who have brightened our Tuesdays throughout the year. And Happy New Year to all members of the BD community and everyone involved in creating our daily crosswording entertainment.

In the hints below most indicators are italicized, and underlining identifies precise definitions and cryptic definitions. Clicking on the answer buttons will reveal the answers. In some hints hyperlinks provide additional explanation or background. Clicking on a picture will enlarge it or display a bonus illustration and a hover (computer) or long press (mobile) might explain more about the picture. Please leave a comment telling us how you got on.



1a    Sack, following support for unwanted report (8)
BACKFIRE:  Sack or dismiss is following support or second 

5a    Spot Nicholas, reportedly looking attractive (6)
SCENIC:  A homophone (reportedly) of a phrase that could mean, informally, "spot Nicholas"

10a   Prison: or quite literally, the very end of prison? (9,6)
DETENTION CENTRE:  If the answer is read quite literally as a wordplay instruction, it gives the final letter of (very end of) PRISON 

11a   Britain and NI getting precipitation, along with Spain and another country (7)
UKRAINE:  Link together the abbreviation for Britain and Northern Ireland, some wet precipitation, and the IVR code for Spain 

12a   Agents with female performers (7)
FACTORS:  The abbreviation for female with some performers on stage or screen 

13a   Rugby tactic  that cuts through? (8)
SCISSORS:  A rugby tactic is also something that cuts through stuff

15a   Made to go around clubs: it's a trail (5)
SCENT:  A verb meaning "made to go" is wrapped around the playing card abbreviation for clubs 

18a   Harsh sounds made by river snakes (5)
RASPS:  The map abbreviation for river with more than one of the snake that supposedly did for Cleopatra

cat rasps

20a   European knight (so-called) owed something by right (8)
ENTITLED:  Assemble the single letter for European, the chess abbreviation for knight, and "so-called" or "designated by" 

23a   Significant calcium found in Spanish island (7)
MAJORCA:  An synonym of significant is followed by the chemical symbol for calcium 

25a   Run over and play guitar, perhaps, where the conductor stands (7)
ROSTRUM:  Put together the cricket abbreviations for run and for over, and follow that by one way (perhaps) to play a guitar 

26a   Firstly, have pen: treble one ... um ...? Bother this; just tell us what the digits are! (9,6)
TELEPHONE NUMBER:  An anagram ( … bother this) of the first letter of HAVE and PEN TREBLE ONE UM. The definition here refers back to the clue 

27a   Salesperson -- yes, son -- gives money back (6)
REPAYS:  Chain together a salesperson or agent, an informal yes, and the genealogical abbreviation for son 

28a   Have second thoughts about donkeys found in reserve (8)
REASSESS:  Some small grey donkeys are inserted in (found in) an abbreviation for reserve 



1d    Something in the boudoir, perhaps, that listens to pillow talk? (6)
BEDBUG:  This thing you don't want in the boudoir split (3,3) might, whimsically, be something that listens to pillow talk 

2d    Falls causing eye problems? (9)
CATARACTS:  Another word for waterfalls is also an eye problem 

3d    Desires  iced cakes (7)
FANCIES:  A double definition. The iced cakes are bite-sized 

iced crossword cake

4d    Excited ears I prick up? (5)
RAISE:  An anagram (excited) of EARS I 

6d    Forces getting cold, with zero on loose scree (7)
COERCES:  Concatenate the single letter for cold, the letter representing zero, and an anagram (loose) of SCREE

7d    Unit rottweiler hides explosive (5)
NITRO:  The word pair at the start of the clue hides the answer 

8d    Exposed wood treated with secret preservative (8)
CREOSOTE:  An anagram (treated) of WOOD minus its outer letters (exposed) and SECRET. The definition here refers back to the rest of the clue 

9d    Dies from sniffing tobacco? (6,2)
SNUFFS IT:  The answer is an informal synonym of die. Taken literally it could also describe what someone sniffing tobacco does 

14d   Someone who should know a 26: a surgeon? (8)
OPERATOR:  The answer is a person who should be familiar with the answer to 26a. It could, whimsically, also be a surgeon 

16d   Business leader facing half-hearted mob: very bad (9)
EXECRABLE:  An informal word for a business leader is followed by a synonym of mob minus one of its two central letters (half-hearted

17d   One who helps those who are lost for words? (8)
PROMPTER:  A cryptic definition of a person who assists those who have forgotten the words 

19d   Agent drinking strong wine up becoming argumentative (7)
STROPPY:  A secret agent containing (drinking) the reversal (up, in a down clue) of a strong wine 

21d   The problems spoken of in Yorkshire are, on paper, insubstantial things (7)
TISSUES:  How a person in Yorkshire might refer orally to "the problems" are, in the form of paper, insubstantial things 

22d   Singular male irritates: giving smug looks (6)
SMIRKS:  Glue together the single letters for singular and for male, and follow that with irritates or annoys

24d   Brief month on ecstasy with soft, sweet drink (5)
JULEP:  Join together an abbreviation (brief) for one of the months, the single letter presenting the drug ecstasy, and the musical abbreviation for soft 

25d   Former official transported in free vehicle (5)
REEVE:  This historical official is hidden in (transported in) the remainder of the clue 

Superman actor Christopher 25d


Thanks to today’s setter. I especially liked 10a and 26a for their novelty, 1d for the smiles it generated, 6d for "loose scree", and 8d because the surface was both smooth and apt. Which clues did you like best?

The Quick Crossword pun:  GOAL + DEN + EIGG = GOLDEN EGG

78 comments on “DT 29869

  1. This took a bit of teasing out and It took me a while to get into it. Once I had a few under the belt it began to fall into place albeit slowly. Not being a rugby player I did not know 13a but it could be nothing else and the BRB confirmed it. I cannot for the life of me parse 26a so will need to look at the hints for an explanation. My COTD is 1a and 1d made me smile.

    Many thanks to the setter for the challenge and to Mr. K for the hints, which I will now read.

  2. 2*/4*. This was good fun and nicely quirky. My top two were 10a & 8d.

    Many thanks to the setter and to Mr K.

  3. Funny how we all see things differently. Mr K has given this four stars for entertainment but I thought it one of the less enjoyable Tuesday offerings of late though still reasonable fun.
    Many thanks to the setter and to Mr K for this and all his other well illustrated reviews this year.

    I can highly recommend the Toughie by the way.

  4. Amusing, with some sparkling clues (2*/4*). I really liked 1d (once the penny dropped) and 8d was good fun too. Thanks to the Kiwis for the hints and ro the compiler.

  5. Hard to look beyond 8d for the COTD this morning in this entertaining and fairly straightforward puzzle, although 10a was a very neat and clever construction.

    My thanks to both Misters involved, with special thanks to Mr K for a year of comprehensive reviews.

  6. Pleasant solve, done from the bottom up. No particular reason just as I saw a start on the bottom it gave checkers to neighbours and one followed after another. 8d was a cracker for me too.
    The hardest part was picking the right Scottish island for the quickie pun. Skye, Coll, Muck and Rhum were all in contention before I found the right one.
    Thanks to Mr K for another of his excellent blog and thanks to (the presumed) X type.

  7. Initial assessment lead to a little panic but starting at the bottom got the whole show on the road.
    Many clever clues although 1a held me up for some time, quite why I am not sure.
    Best clue for me was 21d because it raised a smile.
    Off to take the dog for a walk, I think man’s next evolutionary step may be to grow webbed feet!
    Thx to all

  8. Hugely enjoyable. Wonderfully straightforward. Read the clues, solve the puzzle (after a bit of head scratching!). No knowledge of the Ottoman Empire or Chinese dynasties required – always a winner with me.

    Today’s crossword soundtrack is handy if you need to be woken up: The Ramones – Blitzkrieg Bop

    Thanks to the excellent setter and The Celebrated Mr K.

  9. Phew, that was tough! Needed the hint to parse 10a, though it is of course obvious once you see it….26a seemed v clumsy to me but otherwise an excellent puzzle with some unusual clues leading to enjoyable head scratching….

  10. This seems to be maintaining the level of increased trickiness that we saw last week – ***/***.

    Favourite – a toss-up between 11a and 1d – and the winner is 1d.

    Thanks to the setter and Mr K.

  11. My wavelength circuitry must be on overtime today, because I had this done and dusted in */** time. I will admit that the full parsing of 10a had me beaten. I can’t say I have heard of the rugby term in 13a, either.

    Many thanks to the setter and Mr. K.

  12. Quite enjoyable and not too taxing although this didn’t “feel” like the usual Tuesday setter. My days are a bit muddled anyway so it’s probably just me. **/*** I didn’t know the rugby move either but as SC says it couldn’t be anything else so that’s something new I’ve learned. Favourite 1a. The toughie was brilliant this morning. Thanks to all.

  13. I really enjoyed today’s puzzle, easing smoothly through the gears (hit the caffeine sweet-spot), pausing to admire 10a & 26a constructions then tripped badly on my complacency. Inserting a synonym for digits instead of digs it at 3D, 11a then got messy. Slim chance I will learn from this. Thanks Mr K, thanks Terence for the Ramones.

  14. Really nice crossword with so many amusing clues 😃 **/**** Favourites (so hard to choose 🤔) 11a, 2 & 21d 🤗 Thanks to Mr K and to X-Type

    1. Ah, so you identified me: my style must be getting recognisable to some of you regulars! Thanks for all your nice comments on the clues – I was pleased with this batch: they all came together very well, I thought. See you on a Tuesday in the New Year!

  15. Did not find it too difficult (for a change) but although I got 10 across very quickly I still don’t understand the cryptic side of it, even looking at some of my fellow solver’s explanations

    1. The answer tells you where the final letter of ‘prison’ can be found within it and is also a type of prison in itself.

  16. Working my way through the clues it almost felt to me as though the top part had been written by one setter and the lower reaches by another. The rugby tactic was a ‘guess then check’ moment and 26a had me tied up in a few knots.
    Clues I liked the most were bunched together at the top – 1,3&10a plus 1d.

    Thanks to our setter and to Mr K for the review – I wish you both a much happier New Year, as indeed I do for all of us.

  17. Straight forward enjoyable solve for me today,I thought that 26a was rather oddly clued and the checking letters revealed the definition.- liked the tie up with14d
    Going for a **/***.
    I think that 21d has occurred before with reference to Yorkshire.
    Favourite was 16d, nice word,difficult to pronounce.
    Thanks to our setter and Mr K for the pics -especially the rugby tactic- maybe we should try something similar in cricket-might fool the Aussies!

  18. Very much enjoyed this one though can’t claim an unaided finish. Couldn’t see the answer to 6d so pressed reveal mistakes – no wonder as I’d bunged in picnic at 5a for some reason. Immediately corrected & completed. Top two for me today are 8d & 10a for their clever wordplay.
    Thanks to the setter & to Mr K for his splendidly entertaining reviews & feline pics each & every Tuesday throughout the year.

  19. By no means a walk in the park but a satisfying cerebral exercise particularly in the NE. 21d is amusing although possibly not easily parsed by (non ex-pat) bloggers from abroad. Fav was 1d. Thank you setter (X-type) and MrK.

    1. I wouldn’t have got it except that we’ve had it before, my radar homes in when I see Yorkshire.

  20. Thanks to the setter for the enjoyable puzzle and to Mr K for his review (and for all his very entertaining reviews in 2021).
    I ticked 1a, 23a and 1d but my favourite clue was 10a.

  21. My COTD is 1d.but, unlike Mr. K, I don’t find it whimsical, just itchy!
    As there is an x in 16d doesn’t this exclude the X man?

  22. Held up by 1a and 1d ..,which is always a nuisance, but otherwise a very enjoyable puzzle, solved sitting by a wood stove in my son’s apartment in Norway. An overcast minus 7 outside, so the prospect of a walk in the snow does not appeal….perhaps tomorrow.

    Thanks to the setter and to Mr K.

  23. A gentler than normal Tuesday puzzle today, I thought. My rating 2.5*/3.5*
    Lots of good clues that took some sussing out … 1a, 5a, 26a, 14d & 21d with winner 26a/14d pair
    Some others could have been in the list too but these ones made me smile/chuckle … 11a, 25a, 1d, 21d & 22d

    Thanks to setter and Mr K

  24. I knew my rugby knowledge would come in handy eventually!
    Sorry to be a pedant, Mr K, but your rugby diagram is not quite right. The first receiver would need to pass to the second receiver (indicated as “decoy”) running on that angle, rather than dummy the pass as drawn. Clear as mud? Thought so! Anyway, It doesn’t really matter, as everyone seems to have got the right answer!
    I really enjoyed the puzzle. 8d was my pick of the day.
    Thanks to our setter and Mr K.

    1. Thank you for explaining the scissor manoeuvre, Shabbo. Yes, clear as mud! Rather pleased I did not take up rugby! :grin:

        1. I didn’t take it up either but I do enjoy watching it – far better than overpaid footballers taking a dive.. For some weird reason I knew the answer but thanks for the explanation concerning the manoevre.

        2. Yes, I was once stuck in Lagos, lots of hookers outside the hotel ! I think they were on ‘the’ game.

    2. Hi, Shabbo. All I know about rugby is that the All Blacks usually win, so thanks for the clarification on 13a. The pic is one that showed up in a Google search on the answer + rugby.

  25. Forgot how good Tuesdays were.
    A real joy to solve even though my first answers were scattered all over the grid.
    Thanks to the setter and to MrK for the usual detailed review.

  26. I’ve been out of the picture for several days with other things taking precedence but nice today to get back into harness with the crossword at lunch. DD2 and her husband drove us up to Droitwich 4 hour journey frightful traffic to stay with elder grandson & his wife in their new home. His mother,DD1, had been collected from her care home and allowed out for the day. She was completely overwhelmed by everything, strange surroundings, too many people etc. She wouldn’t eat anything but sat hunched and unhappy. Suddenly she said Is it Christmas? Yes, we said delighted that she had perked up. She then sang, rather reedily and quavering, all the verses of Silent Night in German. ( She spent a year as an Au Pair in Aachen before she started her nursing training and became very fluent.) How extraordinary that 40 years later she remembered it all! She didn’t really say much more for the rest of the day but those quavering verses brought tears to all our eyes! Enough of that. We enjoyed the challenge, 10a was very clever, I liked the lurker at 25d and George knew the Rugby clue. 6d was last in, the proverbial penny suddenly dropped! Many thanks to Messrs Setter and K.

    1. What a poignant and heartwarming occasion for you and your family to remember, DG, and how lovely to hear your daughter fluently sing Stille Nacht after a 40 year gap. Blessings to you all.

    2. Oh Daisy, that made me cry! That must have been a most beautiful moment, a blessing for your family!

  27. Enjoyable fare, reasonably straightforward, plenty of amusement. COTD the laugh-out-loud 1d, with 8d a close runner-up.

    2* / 3*

    Thank you to the Setter and to MrK

  28. Comfortable Tuesday solve apart from 17d for no apparent reason.
    Maybe we should challenge the Aussies to shoveha’penny every three years, because we sure as hell can’t play cricket against them.
    Whingeing Pom.
    Thanks both.

  29. A lovely puzzle for Christmas Tuesday with no particular hold-ups. Agree with HYD above, the cricket was/is a disaster. Maybe tiddlywinks is the answer!. Thanks to the setter and Mr K on this truly atrocious day here in Norfolk, cold, wet and miserable.

  30. I too found this a bottoms up crossword. At first I thought this was going to be a DNF, but the top slowly came together. Not helped by knowing zero about rugby, and totally lost on 10a. LOL moments at 9d and 21d. COTD to 26a and the clever link to 14d. Thanks very much for an enjoyable solve to the setter and Mr K.

  31. Very late today. Strange puzzle for me as I didn’t really know what was happening in 10a and guessed at the Rugby clue, but enjoyed the challenge. 8d my favourite. Popped in mainly to thank Mr K for another terrific year of enjoyable blogs and to wish him a Very Happy New Year, hoping that he will continue to bless us with his wit, his humour, and his kitties. Thanks to today’s setter too.

  32. I was dead on wavelength with this one, no problems at all, even the rugby tactic was obvious from the checkers. So much to like here, lots of giggles and cleverness. I needed Mr. K to tell me why 10a was what it was – now, wasn’t that clever? Plus the video provided by Mr. K makes me choose it as my fave.
    Thanks X-type, I reely, reely enjoyed this! Of course, heaps of gratitude to Mr. K for unravelling 10a, I would have missed that without your help.

  33. I initially enjoyed today’s puzzle but really struggled with the NE corner not helped by putting notice in for 5a which caused much frustration, constantly referring to the dictionary and finally checking the hints. Doh!

    Many thanks to the setter and Mr K especially for his entertaining kitten pictures.

  34. No problems for us this afternoon although there was a couple of heads scratchers. Favourite was 10a, mainly because it was a joint effort and I managed to parse it correctly. Thanks to the setter and Mr. K.

  35. Thanks to the setter and to Mr Kitty for the review and hints. What a cracking puzzle to get on my Birthday. Really enjoyed it. Last in was 16d. I liked 26a, but my favourite was 10a. Was 3* /4* for me. Is there going to be a meet up for the Blog’s Birthday next month / year? Or will it be kiboshed by covid, or ousted by omicron?

  36. Although I got 10a – I’m still not sure how it works …… even after reading the bigdave explanation and other comments. Confused !

    1. The “end” of Prison is “N” as is the centre of dete”N”tion and a Detention Centre is a Prison.

    2. We’re looking for an answer that does two things:
      1. Be defined by the “prison” at the start of the clue
      2. When read literally, lead to the end letter of the “prison” at the end of the clue, i.e. “N”
      DETENTION CENTRE satisfies the first requirement since it is a form of prison.
      Read literally in crosswordland, that answer instructs us to take the centre letter of DETENTION, which is indeed “N”.

  37. Excellent crossword, thanks to the setter. Many good clues but 9d made me chuckle.
    16d might describe England’s performance in the cricket but even that might be paying them a compliment! I think Sir Geoffrey had it about right in the sports pages!
    Thanks to Mr K.

  38. 4d gave me a brief tangle with two different anagrams (differing in the order of the first and second letters) seeming to fit the wordplay and misdirecting me into trying to fit in a different short synonym of sack in 1a. And I was far too slow on 18a. Definite *** territory today. Particularly loved the two long across clues.

  39. Slow steady solve and some really clever clues. Needed hints to parse 10a, but I was delighted to solve 26a by building up the answer from the weird-looking elements of the clue. **/****

  40. 2*/4*….
    liked 1D ” Something in the boudoir, perhaps, that listens to pillow talk? (6) “

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