DT 29972 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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DT 29972

Daily Telegraph Cryptic No 29972

Hints and tips by 2Kiwis

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

Kia ora from Aotearoa.

Our pleasant autumn weather continues. Long may it last.

We note that Jay as Logman has set today’s Toughie so we can be pretty certain that this is by a different setter. We found it quite a lot harder than we are used to on a Wednesday with quite a lot of GK required in places. Our ratings reflect this.

Please leave a comment telling us how you got on.


1a     High flier? (11)
HUMMINGBIRD : The first seven letters could mean high in an olfactory sense.

9a     Mail perhaps won’t feature first Republican affair (5)
AMOUR : What mail could be an example of as protective apparel has the first usage of R(epublican) removed.

10a     Saved having experienced the Second Coming? (4-5)
BORN-AGAIN : The Second Coming has natal connotations.

11a     Keen to gather complete cereal crop? (3,4)
ALL EARS : Complete or in totality, then parts of cereal plants that bear the grains.

12a     Storm in Timor Sea that generates spray (8)
ATOMISER : An anagram (storm in) of TIMOR SEA.

14a     Watch golf with girl: singular spectacle? (8)
EYEGLASS : Watch or observe closely, then G(olf) and a girl or young woman.

15a     Chancellor once in black eyeliner (4)
KOHL : A double definition. The Chancellor was from the 1980/90’s.

17a     Very good designer is provocative (7)
PIQUANT : A two letter ‘very good’ and a fashion designer, first name Mary.

19a     Hit hard getting boxing prize (4)
BELT : A double definition.

20a     Girl with name to conjure with in Zola’s book (8)
GERMINAL : An anagram (to conjure with) of GIRL and NAME.

21a     Suave and refined socialite currently broadcasting? (8)
DEBONAIR : A socialite ‘presented’ at a ball and then a 2,3 phrase meaning currently broadcasting.

23a     See 6 Down

25a     Quarrel with boss to make this point (9)
ARROWHEAD : Quarrel as a type of missile and then boss or leader.

26a     Woman in cold sea turned back (5)
CLARA : C(old) and the reversal of a Central Asian inland sea.

27a     Enigma resolved with elder’s magical skill (11)
LEGERDEMAIN : An anagram (resolved) of ENIGMA and ELDER.


2d     Undersea menace could be about (1-4)
U-BOAT : An anagram (could be) of ABOUT.

3d     Token note the French sent north (7)
MINIMAL : A note equivalent to two crotchets and the reversal of the French feminine definite article.

4d     Ask again for change in Japanese city (8)
NAGASAKI : An anagram (for change) of ASK AGAIN.

5d     Newsreader Bruce fine to leave Scottish island (4)
IONA : Bruce is a surname here. Remove F(ine) from the forename.

6d & 23 Across     Scandalous amount taken in old window tax? (8,7)
DAYLIGHT ROBBERY : An all-in-one clue. The definition is ‘Scandalous amount taken’.

7d     Dictator having a role in something contentious? (9)
BONAPARTE : ‘A’ from the clue and a role in a performance are surrounded by a metaphorical article of contention.

8d     Dublin-born compiler’s flame-haired companion? (5,6)
IRISH SETTER : The nationality suggested by ‘Dublin-born’ and a crossword compiler.

12d     Bread requested for starters? (6,5)
ASKING PRICE : A cryptic definition. Bread here is slang for money.

13d     Charged again in hearing — that’s put back up (7)
REBUILD : A homophone of an expression that could mean a second invoice has been issued.

16d     Pulse right to coat in warm batter (9)
HEARTBEAT : Warm as a verb contains (coats) R(ight) and then batter or thrash.

17d     Ancient vampire rowing on lake
PRIMEVAL : An anagram (rowing) of VAMPIRE plus L(ake).

18d     Recruits down below almost lost (3,5)
NEW BLOOD : An anagram (lost) of DOWN BELO(w) with the last letter removed.

19d     Stolen meat comes to philosopher (7)
BENTHAM : A synonym for stolen (yes, it is recognised by Mrs B) and then cured pig meat.

22d     Arab or Irish-American on QI (5)
IRAQI : The two letter Irish, single letter American and then QI from the clue.

24d     Vote against elevating good, positive principle (4)
YANG : An opposing vote is reversed and followed by G(ood).

Quickie pun    Chopin    +    Liszt    =    shopping list


69 comments on “DT 29972

  1. I thought this an absolutely cracking puzzle and one of the best backpagers for a while, although I rather suspect views may be sharply divided! The many double-unches will have won few friends, and the 2Ks refer to the required level of GK, but what splended artistry in the construction of the clues, all entirely fair and most of which had surfaces as smooth as silk. For me almost every clue required a little more mental agilty than normal, a little more lateral thinking, but what a satisfying reward when the grid was filled.

    Hon Mentions to the 6d/23a combo, 7d and 21a; COTD to the splendid laugh-out-loud 1a.

    2* / 4.5*

    Many thanks indeed to the Setter (Silvanus?) and to the 2Ks.

    1. MG, I know my setter detector failed miserably on Friday, but I would bet my house on this not being a Silvanus compilation.

      1. I learned a long while ago that placing bets on anything from fruit machines to horses was for me not a sensible course of action, so you’ll forgive me not taking you on, I trust!

        My rationale for thinking it might be Silvanus is the smoothness of the clue construction; the level of GK might hint at the Don, but there’s nothign overtly religious in there. Senf’s suggestion of NYDK could be a good call, though.

        Whoever it was, more please!

  2. I agree with our bloggers that this a degree or two up in difficulty for a Wednesday. The clues were generally very concise, with 27a and the 23a/6d combo pushing my eventual winner, 1a, for top spot.

    Many thanks to our setter for a great challenge, and to the 2Ks.

  3. This was definitely a step up in difficulty but it was extremely enjoyable with some cracking clues including 1a, 11a, 6/23 and 12d.
    Many thanks to the setter and the 2Ks.

  4. Sorry, didn’t enjoy this at all. I finished unaided except for the dictionary. Indeed at my first attempt only managed about half a dozen. Enjoyed 1a and began to make some headway when I solved a few of the longer ones. Didn’t help spelling the Chancellor’s name incorrectly. So Mustafa is spot on in that some of us found it very hard with very obscure general knowledge.
    Thanks to the setter for the head scratching and 2 Kiwis..

  5. I thought this was excellent, if somewhat unfamiliar, full of clever and well disguised definitions, which led to a bit more thinking than is usually required for a back pager.
    I liked several including 11&21a plus 7d but my favourite was the genius and lol1a.
    Many thanks to the setter (more like this please) and the 2Ks for the top notch entertainment.

  6. Not for the faint hearted.! excellent cluing throughout.
    Favourites was 12d for the surface and the 16a charade which mislead me nicely in my search for the right bean.8d elicited a smile,
    Going for a ****/**** as per 2K,s
    Thought 15a needed an exclamation mark for completeness.
    Last in was 26a which needed checking.

  7. Another slow start but always the more satisfying when completed. 1a was a bung-in however later when the penny dropped it became a joint Fav together with 11a. My GK let me down re 26a sea. Can’t quite pass eyeliner in 15a. A fun solve thank you Mysteron and also to the 2Kiwis.

  8. A very enjoyable mid-week challenge – 2.5*/4*.

    For a change, I noticed the double unches early on and they did not present any problems and, as I know nothing of his works, I did have to e-confirm that my fairly obvious answer was one of Zola’s books in 20a.

    Candidates for favourite – 1a, 17a, and 12d – and the winner is 12d.

    Thanks to the setter, as Jay is on Toughie duty as Logman, my five bob is on NY Doorknob, and to the 2Kiwis.

  9. This was my first fail in a long while but I couldn’t guess the anagram in 27a across so had to resort to the hints kindly supplied by our Antipodean colleagues for that solution. I thought there were many brilliant clues though and my favourite was 8d which made me smile. As I didn’t know the offending 27a I can’t really score the difficulty but otherwise thought it a ***/****. Certainly a challenge. Thanks to whoever the setter is.

  10. 4*/1*. I found this puzzle very unsatisfying with some easy clues and some very tough, including a few helpings of obscure GK along the way.

    On the positive side, I really liked 1a and 6d/23a.

    I feel sure that this was not a Jay production but thanks anyway to the setter and to the 2Ks.

  11. Certainly in Toughie territory.
    All the more enjoyable for that.
    Lots of experimentation but got there in the end without the hints.
    Loved 6a and 23d, and 19d and 25a.
    So, a solid **** time.
    Many thanks to the setter and to the 2Kiwis.

  12. Quite taxing, I thought, but brilliant. Knew all the GK but got held up by 16d, which I’d convinced myself was some kind of pulse bean and couldn’t get that misbegotten idea out of my head. Got there in the end, though, with 1a, 27a, & 17d (or pick any clue here) leading the pack. Thanks to the Kiwis and today’s setter. 3* / 4*

  13. Very glad to have had Mick solving beside me, as he was much more tuned in that I was today. Even so, we both appreciated the quality of the clues (favourites, like others have already said, were 1a and the 6d/23a combination). Managed, by luck more than judgement to spell the Chancellor correctly, but did have to check our answer for 20a met the definition. ***/**** for us today.

  14. A really enjoyable head-scratcher. I slowed up across the board until 8 & 12d pennies dropped. I also briefly had the wrong glass at 14a until its impossibility dawned. LOI 1a with no excuses really. Thanks to our teasing setter and 2Ks, though I still don’t quite get 25a. Help gratefully received.

    1. Second definition of quarrel in the BRB helps to explain 25a (it can also be found in Collins On-Line dictionary).

  15. Not for me, I’m sorry to say. Simply didn’t get on to the setter’s wavelength and found it a hard slog.
    Saving graces were 6&8d.

    Apologies to our setter and many thanks to the 2Ks for making sense of it.

  16. Brilliant. Brilliant. Brilliant. Thanks to the setter, more please. Thanks to the 2Ks

  17. I enjoyed that and managed a fairly rapid solve. 17a had me going for the thesaurus, I was sure it would be there but had a need to check. Even the GK was easily found and I concur with Miffs – more please.
    Must dash parking running out.

    1. Home from York, time to thank 2K’s and setter, (I will have half a crown on Zandio.) Loved the pic of 5d it is a lovely place just down the coast of the Isle of Mull where the family Bee hail from.

  18. Tougher than usual, but nicely challenging. I didn’t know the second definition in 15a, or, I am ashamed to say, Zola’s book, but both were gettable. Ticks from me for 1a, 11a, 12a, 27a & 12d. I believe the expression at 6d/23a originated from the controversial window tax.
    Good puzzle.

  19. Well, that was a poser and no mistake! Thoroughly enjoyable, nevertheless. Plenty of smiles raised here in Shropshire such as 7d and the fabulous 1a, which is my COTD. Others of note are the 6d and 23d, combination, which, as Sahbbo says, comes from the Window Tax first introduced by William 111 in 1692, and 5d. A most satisfying solve.

    Many thanks to the setter, whomsoever he or she may be, and thanks to the 2K’s for the hints.

      1. Obviously, the picture does not wish to be seen! :scratch:

        Oh, it has suddenly appeared!

  20. Definitely 5* enjoyment.

    1a gets top billing closely followed by 6/23 & 12d.

    More puzzles from this setter will be most welcome!

  21. I’m firmly in the positive camp. Thought it an absolute belter of a puzzle with a good number of super clues. Though I didn’t peg it as a Silvanus production I can quite see why MG considered him as there are some excellent surface reads on display. Unlike yesterday’s Toughie I had no problem with the GK here other than the wet stuff at 26a so that helped. Last in 12d where it took an embarrassingly long time to twig the second word. Clear favourite 1a (if it’s a chestnut I can’t recall seeing it) & with big ticks elsewhere – 17&21a along with 2,7,12&13d plus the 6d/23a combo.
    Thanks to the setter & the 2Ks
    Wordle in 4.

    1. Welcome to the blog

      The solutions are hidden from view – it is up to the reader to decide whether to use the helpful hint or just reveal the solution

  22. Very enjoyable and definitely slightly harder than expected.
    I really liked 10a and the 6/23 combo.
    It took a while for the penny to drop in 5d.
    Thanks to our Kiwis and the setter.

  23. Is there some reason the answers are plainly shown instead of hidden?-the 2nd time this week

    1. On both Google Chrome and Microsoft Edge, the solutions are hidden. What are you using to access the blog?

  24. Tough, but very enjoyably so. I’d guess Silvanus if not for the double-unches (I’m not keen on them, and think they contributed to the difficulty, but the quality of cluing more than made up for it!) Too many good ‘uns to single out a favourite. Many thanks to setter & 2Ks.

  25. An excellent puzzle, just up my street. Great clues, a good challenge and much enjoyment. Too many ticks to isolate a favourite. 4*/4.5*.

    *I can’t understand why people, especially keen cruciverbalists, feel the need to whinge about double unches or a bit of GK. If they make the puzzle slightly more difficult/enigmatic, that’s a good thing in my book.

  26. A very much more difficult puzzle for Wednesdays, which I usually find difficult, but enough clues solved to get checkers to help with many of the others. Completed, but with help from all sources except the hints.

    Someone mentioned, I think, that nothing religious this week but if 10a doesn’t belong to the evangelical sky fairy squad then I am an expert in nuclear fission.

    Many thanks to the setter for clues which were superb in craft and honesty and to the 2Ks.

    1. I take your point, Corky, but don’t class 10a as being on the Don’s level of religious reference and clueing, which usually requires quite a good level of religious GK, unlike this clue.

      Very much hope today’s setter makes themself known!

  27. I rarely pass comment these days, but todays puzzle was high quality – I have to be honest and admit that eye-liner is not one of my best subjects and without dear ‘Mr Google’ I could or would never have connected the word with a German Chancellor. I loved 1a & 10a, but the whole thing was a joy to complete. I hadn’t noticed that it contained doulble unches until reading their mention here. Thanks to setter and 2Ks. Most enjoyable. What with Wordle in 2 yesterday, in 3 today and now this splendid back pager I feel quite contented. :-) :-)

  28. Not my cup of tea at all today. Too much GK for a cryptic. 5*/1*
    Just an obscure puzzle.
    No favourites at all today except 8d as I liked the picture.
    Given the completed puzzle, (with using 90% of the hints), to my dog to shred. At least he enjoyed it.
    Best place for this one to end up.

    Thanks to the 2K’s for the hints

  29. So two Toughies on offer today… I struggled along for a while, until I realised my morning is fast disappearing. Of those solved, About half, I did award COTD to 6d and 23a. But 27a confirmed my thoughts that this is way above my pay grade. Congratulations to 2Kiwis and all those who could do this one.

  30. I solved six clues and feel quite brilliant, for a tiny brain that is. I lose interest very quickly when presented with “entertainment” such as this. Fave, of those solved, was 27a; I don’t know many big words but I did know that one and like the way it sounds.
    Thank you setter, whomsoever that is, not sure I care. Much appreciated your hints 2Kiwis.

  31. I could not really get anywhere with this … a grand total of 3 solved on first pass and so relied on too many of the hints, although even then still a bit puzzled, eg 1a – still don’t “get it”. Thanks to setter and the 2Ks.

    1. SC, 1a. The clue is suggesting (via the ?) that this flier (bird) could be “high” (or humming/smelly).

  32. Curate’s egg for me as I lacked the GK to complete without electrons. My favourite of the good parts was 17a. Thanks to today’s setter and the 2Ks.

  33. I enjoyed this and there were so many terrific clues, I did take longer than I should have in the NE 🤔 I am rating it ***/**** I liked 14a, 21a, 12d & 19d 😃 Thanks to the 2 x Ks and to the unknown Compiler

  34. I can think of only one word to describe this puzzle – Hideous!
    Save these sort of ghastly things for the Toughie.
    No thanks from me for the setter.

  35. I greatly enjoyed this. I had an inkling that it would not be to Brian’s taste.

  36. Morning all.
    We can’t remember the last time that a Wednesday Cryptic caused such a diversity of opinions. Our setter detecting radar is still showing a blank screen so hope the setter does pop in soon to acknowledge authorship.

  37. I wouldn’t like to be faced with this (type) everyday but it certainly contained some extremely clever and amusing clues. I had to use tinternet for a couple of general knowledge based clues and a hint or two, but I finished it and enjoyed it. I don’t know what unches means. Is it merely a split clue? Thanks to the 2K’s and the setter.

    1. Hi Fran
      An unch is an unchecked letter on the grid so a “double unch” is two unchecked letters, which is quite acceptable as long as there aren’t too many in one grid. If you look at 9a for example, both the A and I are unchecked so a “double unch”.

  38. Thought I had lost my marbles trying to do this puzzle. Not to my taste in the main. A few clues were written in but then a blank stare. I am sure those more erudite than I will relish their knowledge base capability being fit for purpose. Gave up and looked at the answers. A couple of very witty clues.

  39. Oh dear me! Not for me I’m afraid. Harder than the toughie. Never heard of 27a and didn’t study Zola at school. I wasn’t in a class high enough to do French let alone Zola so I’ve no idea what it means and have no intention of finding out, I’ll leave it there. If I had to pick a favourite it would be 21a. Thanks to the setter anyway and 2K’s

  40. My third dnf of the week (I am still reeling from yesterday’s horrible banjoist clue).

    Today was a grim slog with a word in 27a that I am stunned that anyone has heard of.

    An obscure philosopher from hundreds of years ago didn’t help me as well.

    Nevertheless, thanks to all.

  41. A curate’s egg for me too, some clues quite clever (eg 1a) and others, well, ghastly, as Brian said! Didn’t know the philosopher, the Zola book and have never come across 27a. Not the best of crosswording days! Thanks to the 2Ks for the useful hints and tips.

  42. Whilst I appreciate the quality of this puzzle I feel it should have been used as a toughie, obviously the more experienced/ brighter solvers enjoyed it ,but they have the toughie to do anyway, please leave the back pager to us lesser mortals. As you may have guessed this was a DNF for me. Thanks to all.

  43. Some loved 1a, some hated it. I’m in the latter camp and still, despite comment above, dont understand how humming and high are synonymous.

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