DT 29961 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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DT 29961

Daily Telegraph Cryptic No 29961
Hints and tips by Stephen L
+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

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

Good morning everyone from the South Devon coast.
After last fortnight’s minor “tremor” when we had a different setter it appears normal service has been resumed with, I’m pretty sure, the return of Mr T who has given us a fun puzzle with one or two real smile inducing clues. I enjoyed it a lot.

Please leave a comment telling us what you thought.


1a Head of big bolt for cart (6)
BARROW: The first letter (head of) Big is followed by a bolt or dart, typically used with a crossbow

4a Drowsiness in Oscars broadcast (8)
NARCOSIS: Anagram (broadcast) of the preceding two words, giving a drug (not a slap!) induced drowsiness or stupor

9a Consequences of bill on one politician (6)
IMPACT: Start with the letter that looks like the number one. Add the usual abbreviation for a British politician and append a (parliamentary) bill.

10a Veto such as held by state (8)
NEGATION: An abbreviation for “such as” is inserted into (held by) a state or a country

12a Republican in a party, fit and winning (8)
ADORABLE: A from the clue and a synonym of a party or bash are followed by a word meaning fit or adept. Insert the abbreviation for Republican in the result

13a Thwarts moles covering top of trap (6)
SPITES: The moles here are not animals but agents. They go around (covering) the initial letter of Trap

15a Strangely guarded nature seen in student (13)
UNDERGRADUATE: Anagram (strangely) of the following two words

18a Winning group staying in key(13)  PREPOSSESSING: A group or gang is inserted into (staying in) a synonym of key in the sense of vital or urgent. My last one in

22a Warn of tiny criminal (6)
NOTIFY: Anagram (criminal) of the preceding two words

24a Iron skirt, born ladylike (8)
FEMININE: Start with the chemical symbol of iron. Add a type of skirt much loved by men and finish with a two-letter word meaning born or originally called.

26a Fresh from pub with zero coin (8)
INNOCENT: Splitting the solution 3-1-4 shows how the wordplay works. A pub, the letter that looks like zero and an American coin. A real smiler


27a Tragedy is way too big (6)
PATHOS: A way or track is followed by a two-letter abbreviation for too big or oversized

28a Rejected in street, a renegade’s cause (8)
GENERATE: Hidden (in) and reversed (rejected) in the clue

29a Occasionally duel and ally gets implacable (6)
DEADLY: The alternate (occasionally) letters of the following three words.


1d Wedding tackle on a horse, say (6)
BRIDAL: This synonym of marriage is a homophone (say) of a some “tackle” on a horse. Naughty but fun!

2d Transcribe from expert put in dock (9)
REPRODUCE: Insert (put in) an informal word for an expert into a word meaning dock in the sense of shorten

3d Garden producing fruit, alternatively some veg (7)
ORCHARD: A conjunction meaning alternatively is followed by some leafy green veg

5d Hail Queen for State (4)
AVER: A three letter Latin word meaning”hail” and the abbreviation for Regina or queen

6d Hindered Conservative giving easier access? (7)

CRAMPED: The abbreviation for Conservative is followed by the past tense of a verb meaning to provide a slope, which could give easier access particularly for those in wheelchairs

7d Destitute family put in street (5)
SKINT: Place a three-letter synonym of family inside the abbreviation for StreeT. Very amusing!

8d Forbidding some assassin is terrifying (8)
SINISTER: Hidden (some) in the clue

11d Trader in stocks? (7)
FLORIST: The stocks here can be found in gardens. Need I say more?

14d Sort of cut chance in gamble (7)
BRISKET: Place a straightforward synonym of chance inside a straightforward synonym of gamble to give a cut of meat.

16d Tortured genius had broken down (9)
ANGUISHED: Anagram (broken down) of the preceding two words

17d Cleaning drains, finally humming (8)
SPONGING: Humming here has nothing to do with singing or being busy, but is an informal word for smelly. Add it to the final letter of drains.

19d Policeman perhaps present, keeping in charge (7)
OFFICER: A synonym of present or tender goes around (keeping) the abbreviation for In Charge.

20d Current partner admitting sex is fake (7)
IMITATE: Start with the symbol for electrical current, add a partner into which is inserted a dated synonym of sex.

21d Poor yours truly, crafty concealing answer! (6)
MEASLY: The personal pronoun the setter might use (your’s truly) and a synonym of crafty go around (concealing) the abbreviation for Answer

23d Number touching part of joint (5)
TENON: A number is followed by a preposition that could mean touching, giving a joint used in carpentry.

25d Insect bite is raised (4)

GNAT: Invert (raised in a down clue) a word meaning bite in the sense of kick or zest.


Good stuff, my winners today are 26a plus 1,7&17d.

94 comments on “DT 29961

  1. I found the Quickie more difficult than usual so I expected the cryptic to be similar. As it turned out it was most enjoyable. Plenty of head scratching needed but there were a few gimmies for encouragement. Some of the clues were, for me, quite clever and I have ticks all over the paper. My choice of COTD was between 11d, 17d and 21d with the winner being 11d.

    1d caused a wry smile.

    Many thanks to Ray T for the fun challenge and to SL for the hints.

    Wordle in 3.

    1. SC. On the subject of pop-up ads (yesterday’s blog), remember the other week when you suggested I was getting thongs confused with G strings (it was related to a clue answer)? Well, I did some research on Google to check – and I probably was. These pop-up ads are apparently based on your recent browsing activity and, of course, appear randomly/unexpectedly. Now, most of mine are sales ads showing shapely young women wearing thongs, G strings and all sorts of other skimpy underwear. A bit hard to explain if one of my family or friends happen to be looking over my shoulder whilst I’m messing about on my laptop! We all have our crosses to bear …

      1. Oh, Jose! I believe Huntsman is correct! :grin:

        What worries me is I get lots of ads for funeral parlours.

        At the risk of opening a nest of angry hornets, why are G-Strings so called? :scratch:

          1. Does it have a lifetime guarantee?

            Mrs LrOK needs one too, do you do BOGOF?

            Do you deliver to the Highlands?

            1. Weavers Chris who occasionally comments might deliver for a fee. I can only do BOGOF if I double up the price

        1. I don’t know but here’s an amusing clue from an old Firefly Toughie:

          Fondle a thicker thong? (5)

  2. All done and dusted in *** time.
    Last in 10a held me up for too long until the penny dropped.
    Enjoyable but light for a Thursday.
    Many thanks to the setter and Stephen L.

  3. Gentle fun with a few old chestnuts. 11d and 17d get my vote today. Thanks to today’s setter and StephenL.

  4. 17d and 18a were my last in today and needed quite a bit of thinking about. 11d and 15a my favourites today. Thanks to SL and RayT.
    Taking a trip to the Himalayan garden just north of Ripon. Looks like a nice place. Hope the back gets better soon SC.

      1. Further to this comment, SJB – I took Mrs. C to the surgery for a routine blood test. Entrance door closed too quickly and twisted me. Back now worse than ever. 😡

        It spoilt a lovely meal with our daughter this evening at a very good restaurant in Oswestry.

        The joys of tempus fugit!

  5. 2*/4.5*. Excellent fare from RayT today with my only hold up being with 17d, which was my last one in.

    I’m not an expert on these things but I would have thought that ironing the skirt shown in SL’s picture accompanying 24a would result in a very nasty mess.

    My top three today were 1d, 7d & 11d.

    Many thanks to RayT and to SL, and the usual Thursday shout out to Kath.

    P.S. The Ad Blocker I installed yesterday is now telling me it has blocked 119 ads!

    1. The next annoying thing is when you visit some web sites that feel obliged to tell you that you are using an Ad Blocker and ask you if you want to know how to remove it so that they can show you lots of Ads!

      And, you might need a magnifying glass to find the ‘No Thank You button’ on said sites.

    2. I am impressed that your first thought on looking at the skirt was to iron out the creases!

  6. Last in those humming drains at 17d which caused a brief head scratch in an otherwise a quick solve. This setter’s ability to create a clever clues using just 4 words is quite something. I thought 4,22&24a plus 17d great examples.
    Thanks to Ray T for another enjoyable puzzle & to Stephen whose review I’ll now read.
    Wordle in 4. I appear to have wiped my performance history mucking about with ad blockers yesterday. I was up to 81 & am now back to 1

    1. H. Does that Ad blocker work on YouTube? I’ve read that the free blockers don’t work on there?

      1. When I realised whatever the hell I installed wiped everything (completed Graun & DT puzzles on the puzzles website) I reverted & thought I’d tolerate the ads instead.
        Unfortunately I’m a complete muppet when it comes to these things.

  7. Thanks to this blog, I have learned that one of the UK uses of ‘humming’ (one which is rarely used here across the pond) is, as SL reminds us, that of giving off an unpleasant odour. And that fact helped me finish today’s excellent Ray T puzzle. It was my LOI, and it followed my COTD 18a by a moment or two. Very enjoyable, with ticks all over the place. Thanks to SL and to Ray T. ** / ****

  8. Enjoyed this a lot with just a few headscratchers. COTD 11d but there were many good ones. Can anyone tell me why Jersey Royals have no taste anymore, they used to be so fantastic and are now just bland. Wordle in 5 Quordle in 9. Thanks to the setter and SL.

    1. Re. Jersey Royals I’m not certain if this is true but one reason given is that they stopped using dry seaweed on the fields, or vraic as they call it in the Channel Islands.

  9. If this was a RayT then I found him unusually gentle but excellent today at */**** with all the clues suiting me and I thought very consistent. Usually I find him ***. Only a bit of head scratching on 14d which I don’t think anybody else has mentioned. Just back from a run up near Princetown on Dartmoor which was oddly deserted for nearly a Bank Holiday so very pleasant. Thanks to SL and the setter.

  10. Terrific entertainment as usual from Ray T with the snigger-inducing 1d my first entry and favourite clue. I spent too long on 10a, my final entry, and having parsed it could not understand why it took so long.

    My thanks to Mr T and to SL.

  11. A Ray T. puzzle is invariably so much fun to solve! I had ticks against 5, 11, and 14D, with 11D taking top podium position. Thanks to Mr. T and SL.

  12. A very accessible Mr T production, no need to use any of the significant amount of white space on my printed sheet for ‘scribbles.’ 2.5*/4.5*

    The PDM for the type of ‘stocks’ in 11d was accompanied by a small groan and there was a repetition radar blip on the 12a/18a definition.

    Candidates for favourite – 26a, 27a, and 14d – and the winner is 14d.

    Thanks to Mr T and SL and Thursday thoughts for Kath.

  13. Concise clues, the Queen … but no sweetheart? A very enjoyable solve – although 4* rather than 5* as the pedant in me couldn’t help but notice some repetition: containment indicators “in” (12a, 14d), “put in” (2d, 7d), and of course definition in 12a & 18a. Probably just me in a bad mood having found the ‘quick’ puzzle tougher than the Toughie! Many thanks Ray T (presumably?) and SL.

  14. It seems I was not alone in finding 17d hard to pin down and also the parsing of 18a – nice to have company in the dunce’s corner!
    I did smile at our setter’s possibly intentional reference to the fairer sex being 12a,18a & 24a but ultimately 29a – there’s a man who knows a thing or two, as indeed does the policeman in SL’s cartoon at 19d!
    What great fun to be found in this puzzle – masses of ticks awarded with my picks of the bunch being 27a plus 1,7&11d.

    Devotions to Mr T as ever and many thanks to Stephen L for an excellent review – I even quite approved of your music choice today!

    1. To make you feel even better Jane, I didn’t crack 17d at all. Bunged in spinning even though I couldn’t really parse it.
      Love that Robert C has a better grasp of English subtleties than me!
      Every day’s a school day

      1. Believe me, I tried very hard to make ‘spinning’ work before realising I was barking up the wrong tree!

        1. Even worse, I discovered this week that the BBC has stopped allowing the showing of EastEnders here in the US on PBS, the public station which offers many British TV shows. It can now only be seen on Britbox. I suppose they are trying to drive up revenues. And I’m sure it is not going to be the last British TV show that will be withdrawn, I’m pretty annoyed, having watched it over here since the early 80s.

      1. Absolutely, Huntsman. I convinced myself that the group were many different things but not what they turned out to be………..

  15. Solved with no grid, which I had to construct from scratch using the clues/enumerations (don’t ask, it’s a long story). I found this about average difficulty for a Ray T, but a tad above average for a blanket back-pager. Good clues provided an enjoyable solve. Fav: 7d. 3*/4*.

    1. Solving without a grid establishes you as a genius. Such a feat makes my mind boggle.

      1. You don’t need to be a genius, T – it’s usually straightforward when you’ve done a few. You can add a few black squares/clue numbers to the empty grid just from the clue enumerations, then a few more because you know it will be symmetrical one way or another. Then, the rest usually falls into place without too much trouble. I like cryptic Skeleton puzzles where you get an empty grid with just 2 or 3 black squares/clue numbers, plus a full set of clues with no enumeration.They can get a bit tricky.

  16. That was fun but not quite as much so as the Quickie which was more food for thought than usual (hear, hear SC). North fastest to yield. Enjoyed fathoming brief 24a to make it Fav. 17d last to dawn – d’oh! Thank you RayT and StephenL. “Oh what a beautiful morning”!

  17. Hooray! No obscure species of duck wearing even more obscure Japanese clothing.

    The quickie gave me a headache but the cryptic flowed beautifully; a gentle cascade of answers filling the pool of the grid with sun-kissed droplets of joy.

    Thanks to Ray T (is it Ray T? No sweetheart…) and the Splendid Stephen L

    Thursday shout out to The Lovely Kath

  18. Thank you Ray T for a happy puzzle. I was a little slow to spot an anagram indicator (16d, nice clue), a reverse lurker (28a) and the parse at 18a so altogether a bit dim but satisfied. Thanks for the help and Don Henly SL.

  19. Thank you RayT for an interesting solve. I have no idea why you terrified me so much when I first joined this blog. You don’t scare me now. I appreciate the skill behind your work so much better. Keep up the good work. I hope the trader selling stocks sells the night scented ones. They are gorgeous. Thanks to StephenL too. A top blog

  20. This was a nice workout before I gird my loins to head into Cambridge to see my dentist – I know I have a filling to be done. 17d was last one in, a subconscious resistance to a word I do not like perhaps. 11d was funny when I fell in, I liked 14&16 down. Many thanks to the setter and to StephenL. Greetings to Kath. Hope I don’t get held up at the level crossing, I shall surely go to sleep. I am so tired all the time since my Covid experience, but if that’s my only complaint, I’m not complaining!

  21. As normal for me with RayT a bit of a struggle with three DNF without peeking.
    3*/3* for me today.
    Favourites include 4a, 22a, 24a, 1d & 7d with winner 24a

    Thanks to Ray T and StephenL

    Wordle and Canuckle in 4

      1. Just done Canuckle for the first time – got it in 5. And you get a “fun fact” related to the answer word. Don’t like the square going red for correct instead of green – ultra counter-intuitive, that is!

        1. Jose
          One thing about Canuckle it does plurals so, in my view is more difficult than Wordle (can’t recall a Wordle ending in “s”).
          Don’t mind the red letter thing I’m getting fed up with “Green” being synonymous with everything virtuous. Red letter day is a memorable day so there is an oblique (not stretched) connection.

  22. It took me ages to realise that it was Ray T – a bit dim today – I didn’t even know that it was Thursday! :roll: Never mind!
    Once I did know that it was Thursday and that it should be a Ray T day then I wasn’t sure that it was – a few things that it made me think about it.
    The Queen had arrived but the sweetheart was up to a load of no good somewhere and there was no one of the answers made up from the first letters of the clue.
    Lots of good clues including 13a (mainly because of our hatred of moles) and 1d.
    Thanks to Ray T for the crossword and to StephenL for the hints.

    1. I have never communed with you being a new boy but you are clearly on the mend and so congratulations from me

    2. Kath
      On Thursday I look at the Quickie first, if there are only one word clues it is odds-on that it is a Ray T day. Then if there are no two word answers in the backpager and economical cluing it is a near certainty.
      Main thing is – lovely that the improvement seems to be continuing.

  23. Well, here goes, I was totally off wavelength here, swimming in molasses again. With many unsolved in the SW, I gave up. When I find I’m having to use e-help to solve much of the puzzle, I lose interest. “Humming = “ponging?” Really! I never would have got that. I had 1d the wrong way round, no wonder 12a held me up so long, dingbat! I thought 11d was fun, my type of clue. I also liked 27a.
    Thank you RayT, I thought I was getting to know you. Thanks to StephenL for explaining the unexplainable. Wordle in 4.

  24. P.S. I’ve just received an e-mail from the Big Dave’s crossword blog inviting me to comment! What does that mean? I’ve been commenting, maybe even far too much, for years now. Can anyone throw some light on this?

  25. Great fun, thoroughly enjoyable. Last in was 11d but was my favourite.
    It may well have been a Ray T but I thought it was super.
    Thanks for the hint for 16 a which rather defeated me.
    Thx to all

  26. Thanks to Ray T and to StephenL for the review and hints. A super puzzle, not too tricky. 1d made me laugh, but my favourite was 4a. LOI was 2d. Was 2* / 4* for me.

  27. Evening all. My thanks to Stephen L for the decryption and to all for your observations. Much appreciated.


    1. Please keep setting them exactly like this as I can get to my bacon and eggs quicker! A brilliant puzzle. Thanks

    2. Love your puzzles, Mr T, especially when you’re Logman, over on the other side. You must have laugher to yourself for comng up with 17d.

  28. I didn’t know that the born in 24a could be spelt that way, I do now. Top draw from Rayt yet again, my favourite setter. Favourite was 1d for its humour closely followed by 11d for it’s deviousness. Many thanks to our esteemed setter and SL. Leicester city have just beaten PSV Eindhoven 2-1 away.

    1. 24a born – masculine. In English we usually see the feminine in connection with a maiden name.

  29. Nice to have Mr T back! An excellent puzzle as always. Lots of really good clues but 11d was my favourite.
    The quickie wasn’t quick but enjoyed the tussle!
    Thanks to Ray T and Stephen L

  30. I got stuck on 3 clues in a row, 10a, 12a, and 13a. None of which would ever spring to mind. I must have been marching to a different drummer, or I can blame it on a very stiff back Thanks to Ray T and StephenL.

  31. Not sure about 9a. Draft legislation is presented to Parliament in the form of a Bill. It does not become an Act until it has been passed by both Houses. In this context Bill and Act are not synonymous.

    1. Once a Bill has been approved by each House of Parliament, doesn’t it then need to receive Royal Assent before becoming law/an act?

      1. I had wondered about that but it does not affect the distinction between a Bill and an Act.

  32. Fairly straightforward for a Ray T that is, I thought.
    . Nothing that thinking in the Thhursday way wouldn’t solve although a couple in the SW only sorted out after a put-down & re-visit.
    11d brought a smile after the PDM so gets my COTD.
    Thank you Mr T and SL.

  33. I know everyone has moved on but this was a dnf for me. Never heard of this meaning for 11d. Spent ages trying to think of a word for a cattle trader. This caused issues working out 18a.

    Thanks to all.

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