DT 29877 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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DT 29877

Daily Telegraph Cryptic No 29877

Hints and tips by Stephen L

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

Good morning all from a sunny South Devon.

As it’s my first blog of the year I’d like to wish everyone a happy, healthy and prosperous 2022.

Our esteemed setter has given us a fine puzzle today, displaying his usual cunning and wit with brevity, as ever, the order of the day. I found it quite tricky in places but great fun.

Please leave a comment telling us what you thought.


1a        Liverpudlian in pickle about clubs (6)
SCOUSE:  A nice easy one to get us underway. A verb meaning to pickle or marinate goes around (about) the abbreviation for Clubs

4a        Advances and returns (8)
PROCEEDS:  Double definition, one a verb, one a noun

9d        God over Lord exists (6)
OSIRIS:  String together the abbreviation for Over, a title for “the great and the good” (though not sure this equates to a Lord) and a short synonym of exists

10a      Stoop to embrace small Queen producer (8)

DESIGNER: A verb meaning to stoop or lower oneself goes around (to embrace) the abbreviation for Small. The queen’s royal cypher is added to the result

12a      Declining fast holding unfinished testament (8)

TWILIGHT:  An adjective meaning fast in the sense of secure goes around (holding) a testament without its final letter.

13a      Concerned with young woman getting careless (6)

REMISS:  The usual short preposition meaning concerned with is followed by a generic young lady

15a      Stroppy vegetarian with tum rumbling (13)
ARGUMENTATIVE:  Anagram (rumbling) of vegetarian and tum

18a      One’s attractive sweetheart abysmal to calmer gent (13)

ELECTROMAGNET:  Anagram (abysmal) of the following three words plus the E from swEetheart

22a      Catch reprimand on hospital department (6)

ENTRAP:  Add a 3-letter synonym of reprimand  to the abbreviation for one of the usual hospital departments

24a      Twisting a wire, it’s for climber (8)

WISTERIA: Anagram (twisting) of the following three words. The climber here is not someone who scales a mountain but one of my very favourite plants


26a      One with a will? Try a mountain! (8)
TESTATOR:  Put together a synonym for try or sample, A from the clue and a hill or rocky peak

27a      Sailor posted missing (6)

ABSENT:  The abbreviation for an Able Seaman and an obvious synonym of posted

28a      Miss follows record release (8)
DISCLOSE: A synonym of miss in the sense of err follows a record you might put on a turntable

29a      Hamlet, terrific keeping in character (6)

LETTER:  Hidden in the clue (keeping)


1d        Drinks purchasing right drinks (6)

SHORTS:  Place the abbreviation for Right  inside some popular alcoholic drinks, typically consumed very quickly to give some other strong drinks

2d        Issue of old judge swallowing one drink (9)
ORIGINATE: Start with the abbreviation for Old, add a synonym of judge as a verb into which the letter that represents a single and a strong drink are inserted

3d        Below decks, finally, sick at sea (7)

SAILING:  A synonym of sick goes below the last  letter (finally) of the word decks

5d        Regrets using trick for the audience (4)
RUES: A homophone (for the audience) of a synonym of a trick

6d        Dream occasionally after Ring fantasy (7)

CHIMERA:  Start with a synonym of ring, as bell might, (ignore the false capitalisation) and add occasional letters of dReAm

7d        Sarkozy’s expression of boredom? (5)

ENNUI:  The “Sarkozy’s expression” indicates this synonym of boredom is of French origin

8d        Upside-down cakes perhaps on edge (8)

STRESSED: Reverse (upside down) a course of a meal that may include cakes

11d      Treatment for bad state of shock? (7)

SHAMPOO:  The shock here is not in unpleasant surprise but what (most people) have on the top of their head

14d      People presently accepting hospital (7)
INHABIT: People here is a verb. Take a phrase (2-1-3) meaning presently or soon and insert (accepting) the abbreviation for Hospital in the appropriate place.

16d      Bury extreme group making cross (9)
INTERSECT:  A straightforward synonym of bury is followed by a religious group or faction

17d      Envied being excited in tall grass (8)
RESENTED: Insert a less than obvious synonym of being excited into some tall grass

19d      Labour shadow clinches a victory (7)

TRAVAIL:  A word for shadow or follow goes around (clinches) A from the clue and the abbreviation for Victory

20d      Celebrity is generous welcoming cheers (7)

NOTABLE:  A synonym of generous as in decent or upright is placed around (welcoming) an informal word for cheers

21d      Bird is engrossed over rook (6)

RAPTOR:  Abbreviations for Over and Rook follow a word meaning enthralled or captivated giving a bird of prey.

23d      Jobs questions following Tories’ leader (5)

TASKS:  Initial letter of Tories plus questions as a verb

25d      Criminals collared opening night safe initially (4)

CONS: We end as we started, with a nice easy one. The initial letters of the four words following the definition

In a strong field I particularly liked 12&15a plus 3d with 14d taking top spot

Quickie Pun Fought + Knocks = Fort Knox


108 comments on “DT 29877
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  1. This was an absolute belter of a crossword, with all the setter’s trademark conciseness, humour and clever misdirection. 15a was a wonderful anagram, and 19d was cleverly topical, but my top clue, and final entry, was 11d.

    Thanks to Ray T for a sparkling puzzle, and to SL for the review.

    1. I would agree with your comments entirely YS, but I really have to say that I should have gone to Specsavers, because once again I misread the lower case letter m for r n making the worn turn rather than tum – easy to do when you’re me :-) :-) A superb puzzle though.

      1. I had to screenshot the puzzle and big up the photo. Bizarrely we can alter the font size of the newspaper in the settings but unfortunately not the font size of the crossword puzzle clues.

        1. Not quite sure how you were doing this. If you were doing it on IPad I cannot help, but if on a PC you can select the text of the clues and copy/paste into Word. Then you can up the font. I do it regularly for my 95 YO mother.

  2. 2*/4*. This made a splendid start to the New Year for our master of brevity. I loved it from start to finish with 15a & 14d my top two of a very fine collection.

    Many thanks to Ray T and to SL, and, as usual on a Thursday, our ongoing best wishes to Kath who seems to be making slow but steady progress.

  3. Felt this was on the easier end of the spectrum except for one or two posers which, once solved, I really don’t know why. I’m interested in why Ray chose M. Sarkozy amongst an inexhaustible supply of candidates. Was he renowned for this? Devotions to RT and SL. If there’s a word for “splendidly succinct” you both deserve the epithet 😊

  4. A really sparkling puzzle from Ray T to begin the New Year. I enjoyed the two long anagrams at 15a and18a but joint Cs OTD were the magnificently misdirected 1d and 14d. However, so many of today’s clues were exemplary in their brevity and wit that it was hard to choose. Many thanks to SL for the hints and to Ray T.

  5. Lovely puzzle. 11a my favourite & one of 3 head scratchers (12a&14d the other 2). The 2 long ‘uns a nice entry point to a brisk solve with no parsing problems. 100 + posts each day this week I see.
    Thanks to Ray T & Stephen for his customary spot on review.

  6. I have not got very far yet but checked my answer for 9a with Stephen’s hint before proceeding. I agree with his comment which is what caused me to check! I managed to do that without looking at any other hints.

  7. Not one of my favourites but quite absorbing whilst requiring a little help with a couple. For me no outstanding clue(s). Cheers in 20d context irked once more. Thank you RayT and StephenL.

  8. Today’s puzzle flowed far easier for me than yesterday’s at **/**** and was I thought one of the more accessible RayT offerings. I find it impossible to single out a COTD as they were all spot on. Thanks to StephenL for his hints – not quite so sunny now is it Stephen!

      1. I wouldn’t bother Stephen as otherwise you’d be all day editing with our weather! Great hints by the way. I always read them although I am pleased to say only very occasionally need them.

  9. A Thursday delight – 2.5*/4.5*.

    Favourite – a toss-up between 1d and 8d – and the winner is 1d.

    Thanks to Mr T and Stephen L and continuing thoughts and prayers for Kath.

  10. I thought this was a gem of a puzzle. ***/**** 14d the best of the clues. I’ve temporarily abandoned the toughie with an awful of blanks in the east. Above my pay grade today. Thanks to all.

    1. I put the Toughie aside earlier in a similar position to yours Greta. I’ve just returned and got a bit further. 7 down and 13 across are holding out and I have no idea what 25 down is all about but I’ve bunged an answer in anyway. Either Gazza or Cryptic Sue will explain when the blog is published at 2.00pm

  11. I got on very well with this until I didn’t. I ended up being stumped by about five clues, which I just could not fathom no matter how long and hard I studied them. I needed StephenL’s excellent hints to get me home so satisfaction was not high today. Still, There was lots to like such as the god at 9a and the mountain on trial at 26a. My COTD because it caused me quite a laugh was 11d.

    Many thanks to Ray T for the fun even though I needed too much help to finish but that’s my problem. Grateful thanks to SL for making sense of the ones that stumped me.

  12. A delightful start by one of my favourite compilers to a new year of setting puzzles to delight and torment us!
    Very difficult to isolate a favourite but maybe 15a just edges out the competition.

    Devotions as always to Mr T and many thanks to Stephen for another excellent review – best wishes for 2022 to both of you.

    I do hope Kath is giving this one her best shot and pops in later to let us know how she fared.

  13. RayT was feeling kind today with what for me was a superb puzzle. Strangely enough for me with my well known views on religion my favourite was 9a which was very clever.
    Thx for explaining my answers to 19d and 20d which had eluded me a little.
    Even Mrs B who usually runs screaming from a RayT offering agreed that it was excellent.
    Thx to all especially RD for yesterdays explanations which I have just picked up.

  14. Splendid work, as ever, from ThursRay.

    But, for the life of me, I don’t understand the surface for 1d.

    Does it mean…Drinks while purchasing correct drinks?

    Can someone put me out of my misery?

    It must be screaming at me as it’s Senf’s COTD.

    I think a ‘face palm’ awaits…

    1. Tots of whiskey, say, are “shots”. Add (buy) “r” for “right” and you get more drinks – “shorts”.

      Hope that makes sense! :grin:

      1. Steve, I think Gordon is referring to the surface read only. I saw it as you suggested in the third paragraph of your comment Gordon.

  15. As Brian gets more benign, I must be taking over. This was not my cup of tea and I cannot believe it is the work of Ray T. I have previously mentioned 9a. I don’t like clues such as 26a as you have the answer from the first sentence without looking at the second. I would question the synonym for excited in 17d, the four outer letters being obvious. Even when I parsed correctly I could not be sure all were correct. On the plus side I have ticked 10 and 18a and 7 and 16d. Thanks to Ray T. I know you can’t please all of the people all the time and to Stephen for the hints with which I confirmed my answers.

    1. WW
      Before looking at the Thursday cryptic I look at the Quickie. If there are only one word clues (as today) it is almost certain the backpager is a Ray T.
      Add in the other trademarks it becomes very short odds-on

  16. Another excellent puzzle. The two long anagrams jumped out quickly and an abundance of checkers led to a completed grid. The synonym for declining was the last but one in with the bird hiding itself well because I put the letter E betwixt the T and the R, well what else could it be. Thanks to both setter and blogger.

  17. Enjoyed this on what is a very cold day here in Cambridge. Yuk. Lots to like here, 11d was a cracker as was 14d and of course the anagrams were a big help. Thank you Mr T and Stephen. To another Steve, I shall have another go at Wordle and click the X. Just haven’t had the time yet! I thought retirement was supposed to give you more time?

          1. I got the Wordle at my last attempt. I had the first three letters and it took me a while to realise I could use the same letter again. I think I could get quite hooked on doing it every day as it doesn’t take up much time. I’ve not seen Lingo either.

  18. What a superb puzzle. For me it contained all the ingredients for a good (insert however long it took you)’s entertainment and fun.
    Many excellent clues but I’ll take 8d as COTD.
    Thank you Ray T and SL for the succinct review..

  19. Found this Ray T puzzle today easier than his normal offerings. 2*/4* for me today. Favourites include 1a, 18a, 26a 11d & 17d with winner 1a. A couple of obscurish type words as in 9a, 6d & 7d, although easily getable with cross checking letters.
    All in all a nice Thursday solve.

    Thanks to Ray T and StephenL for hints

  20. Nice – A RayT to solve. A few nice long anagrams to get one off to a fast start. The Quoon and a Sweetheart too.
    We have shampoo down and NAIR across in the unches, is Ray T deciding whether to Wash or go bald? – I currently have more Salt than Pepper in my hair and face a similar decision.
    Thanks to Ray and Stephen and of course good wishes to Kath.

  21. Really nice crossword with so many witty clues 😃 It is hard to believe that once upon a time I used to dread Thursday. 🤗***/**** Favourites are 6d, 11d & 21d 👍 I assume (probably incorrectly) any notable French person can be substituted in 7d 🤔 Thanks to Ray T and to Stephen L

  22. Hi All
    I’ve mentioned before that I’m transitioning from the Times QC to the DT. I could do with some advice.
    Some days I complete without looking at any hints. Yesterday I only needed 1 hint (to get PINCHBECK) but today I found it quite tough and needed a few nudges from StephenL, to whom many thanks.
    Regulars here seem to know the various setters and their styles, today being the economical Ray T. Is it possible to rank the days/setters in difficulty order?
    I’m not being lazy, I’ve looked but can’t find a reference to the star ratings for difficulty and enjoyment, would someone point me in the right direction?
    Finally, it seems to me that the “punning distance” for homophones, indicators etc. is bigger with the DT than with the Times (e.g. TWILIGHT for “declining”, “purchasing” for “inserting”), am I right?
    COTD for me, that I did not need help with and had no checkers from previous answers is 15a. Who’d have thought that ARGUMENTATIVE is an anagram of “vegetarian” and “tum”?
    Thanks to all for any help and to setter and SL, again.

    1. I am sure you will get advice from those on the blog more erudite that I, Stephen but I have tried to find PINCHBECK in yesterday’s back pager. Where is it?

    2. Stephen, to reply to some of your points.
      In general the easier puzzles tend to be at the start of the week, though this is not always the case.
      Some setters have very distinctive styles, if you follow the blog, you’ll gradually get to know them. Some have allocated days.
      I don’t think one setter is necessarily more difficult than another, often it’s a wavelength thing.
      Ratings are highly subjective, it’s very much a personal thing, the higher the rating, the more enjoyable/difficult the puzzle is.
      Twilight/declining synonym is in several thesauruses, and if you think of “purchasing” as gripping you can see how it works as a containment indicator.
      Finally the Quickie Pun is just a bit of fun.

  23. I’m also fairly new to this SGM and had acres of virgin white boxes today. I predicted being lulled earlier in the week and thus it came to pass. Thanks RayT for the challenge and SL for much-needed tips.

  24. Not my best day but not too terrible either – most of the bottom of the crossword is pretty good but not so good at the top – oh well, keep going . . . .
    I agree with everyone about having to be careful with reading 15a.
    Thanks to Ray T and to StephenL – thanks too for everyone putting up with my attempts . . .

      1. I started slowly, Kath but perseverance paid off as more checkers went in. Like you, I love Ray T’s spare, elegant cluing style and I hate to give up. I keep hearing my mother’s voice saying, “if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again” but it’s not easy sometimes.

    1. Well, Kath, even though I don’t know you, you are doing just great! The NW was the hardest in this puzzle with a couple in the NE tripping me up.
      Based on my performance, I’d say you are well on the way back!!
      Every day is victory.