DT 29973 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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DT 29973


Daily Telegraph Cryptic No 29973
Hints and tips by StephenL
+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +
BD Rating – Difficulty **/***Enjoyment ****

Good morning everyone from South Devon. After last Thursday’s appearance of Mr T, I wasn’t expecting to see him gracing our “pages” today but there’s no doubt that this is one of his. I found it a little tricky in places but a lot of fun

Please leave a comment telling us what you thought


1a Positive plaudit with Ibsen novel (12)
INDISPUTABLE: Anagram (novel) of PLAUDIT and IBSEN giving a synonym of positive in the sense of certain

9a Soldier on exercise about taking part (9)
PERSEVERE: Start with the usual abbreviation for physical exercise. Add a preposition meaning about, into which is inserted a synonym of part or cut.

10a Opening of hotel in French resort (5)
NICHE: Insert the abbreviation for (H)otel into a well known French resort

11a Shot around goal is in (6)
TRENDY: Shot here is an attempt. Place it around a synonym of goal

12a Smacked star keeping tense so far (8)
HITHERTO: A synonym of smacked is followed by a star (not in the celestial sense) into which is inserted the abbreviation for (T)ense

13a Glass finally raised getting drunk (6)
SUPPED: The final letter of the word glass and a word meaning raised as one might “the ante”

15a Wife eager to get weird (8)
WITCHING: Follow the abbreviation for (W)Ife with a synonym of eager or dying

18a Stable against housing single horse (8)
STALLION: A synonym of stable as a noun and a preposition meaning against in the sense of in contact with contain the letter that looks like the number one

19a Office of Bishop managed church (6)
BRANCH: The abbreviation for (B)ishop a word meaning managed or organised, and the abbreviation for CHurch

21a Star of Stratocaster is Knopfler (8)
ASTERISK: A terrific lurker (of) with the surface read so apposite

23a Apse concerned with church vessel (6)
RECESS: A preposition meaning concerned with or about, the abbreviation for the Church of England and the abbreviation for a vessel on the seas

26a Exclusive lot is terribly exclusive initially (5)
ELITE: A first letters clue (initially)

27a Choose lyric about Queen for conductor (9)
ELECTRODE: A synonym of choose as one might an MP and a lyric poem contain the Latin abbreviation for Regina

28a Unusually harder quest capturing a camp (12)
HEADQUARTERS: Anagram (unusually) of the following two words plus (capturing) A.


1d Drive yours truly’s sweetheart and American (7)
IMPETUS: How the setter may say “your’s truly”, a term of endearment or sweetheart in the conventional sense and an abbreviation for American

2d Beginning to groan in dreadful lament (5)
DIRGE: Insert the initial letter of (G)roan into a synonym of dreadful

3d Made water flow under small flower (9)
SPEEDWELL: I don’t really know how to hint this. Start with the abbreviation for (S)mall then a whimsical 4-letter synonym of “made water” followed by a synonym of flow or seep.

4d Worn out, occasionally unsteady (4)
USED: The occasional letters of UnStEaDy

5d Adult, saucy, admitting one provided drink (8)
APERITIF: The abbreviation for (A)dult is followed by a synonym of saucy into which (admitting) the letter that looks like the number one is inserted. Append a synonym of provided as a conjunction

6d Model uncharacteristically consumes meal (5)
LUNCH: Hidden (consumes) in the clue

7d Arachnid is on crop circles (8)
SCORPION: Anagram (circles) of the preceding three words

8d Take ages to get fit? (6)
BELONG: If you split the solution 2-4 you’ll see the reference to “takes ages”. Fit is a verb

14d Insect found in open banana (8)
PLANTAIN:. Insert one of crosswordland’s favourite insects into a synonym of open in the sense of straightforward

16d Chippy with fish on table (9)
CARPENTER: Start with a 4-letter fish and append a synonym of table as a verb. Clever clue

17d Shoots flock or piece of clay (8)
POTSHERD: Shoots as one might do with a pool cue plus a flock of animals

18d Southern port having crew cut (6)
SHAVEN: The abbreviation for (S)outhern and a port or harbour. My last one in and a great clue, though some might say the definition is not entirely accurate

20d Hardy woman following house guests finally? (7)
HOSTESS: The “Hardy” here is the author and the woman a character in one of his books. Add her to the abbreviation for HOuse and the final letter of guestS to give a nice &lit

22d Empty role crushes first female magistrate (5)
REEVE: The outside letters (empty) of the word RolE on top of (crushes) the biblical First Lady

24d Run after sweetheart? (5)
ELOPE: A synonym of run goes after this setter’s swEeetheart. The whole clue serves as wordplay and definition.

25d Reportedly ring sweetheart (4)
BEAU: A homophone (reportedly) of a synonym of a ring or loop


My medals go to 9 & 21 across plus 16, 18, 20& 24 down


79 comments on “DT 29973

  1. I thought a definite *** for difficulty and **** for fun. Struggled with 3d as I thought – surely not!!😳😳 Also found 14d held me up for a while. A great lurker in 21a and my COTD was 8d for being so original. Thanks to SL and Mr T.

  2. A little beyond my reach so I needed help with a few. However, to agree with Stephen, 21a is worthy of being carried around Wembley accompanied by the cheers of a capacity crowd.

    An exciting hour ahead now as I undertake another battle with the Sahara dust – it must have been mixed with glue on its way across the Channel.
    Saharans! Don’t send any more, please.

    Thanks to Ray T and Stephen L.

    1. Think of orange juice with bits as you scour the dust – I was delighted it was on offer in waitrose this morning😃

  3. Wot larks – a most enjoyable Ray T offering, I thought, and noted his having now embraced a whole bevy of sweethearts, but there’s still only one Queen! Very speedy until unaccountably grinding to a halt with the last few in the NE, just pushing to about 2.5 time.

    COTD for me 21a with the peerless Mark Knopfler – thank you, SL, for one of the best tracks DS ever did. One of the top guitarists (and lyricists) of all time IMV. Hon Mentions to 6a (great surface), 8d and 18d.

    2.5 / 3.5

    Many thanks indeed to RayT and to Stephen L

  4. Really enjoyed this, three different sweethearts, Knopfler, the risqué 3 down, all made for more fun than usual. One of those difficult starts but all falling into place. Brilliant. And I remember that years ago I could never finish Thursday’s. Either they are easier or I’m getting better – at last.

  5. 2*/4.5*. What a lovely surprise – the third consecutive Thursday when we have been favoured by a RayT back-pager.

    I’m not entirely convinced by the all-in-one 24d as I would have thought the definition should be “run with sweetheart”. Also, is “circles” an acceptable anagram indicator? I thought it meant the same as cycles where you need to keep the letters in the same order.

    SL, my thought for 3d was that “flow” = “well” as in tears welling up.

    My podium choices today are 13a, 21a & 20d.

    Many thanks to RayT and to SL (excellent choice to illustrate 21a!), and a warm Thursday hi to Kath.

  6. The first half went in quite smoothly albeit rather scattered about but then came to a grinding halt. Spent an hour doing other things and thought I would take another look and it all sort of jumped into place. I too was rather taken aback at 3d! Heaps more enjoyable than yesterday’s offering. Thanks to the setter and StephenL. Really freezing here not helped by all the windows being open as the painters are doing the outside – they will be here for two and a half weeks – very nice people but its very disruptive and means one of us has to be here all the time.

  7. Unless I am mistaken the peerless RayT has managed to cut his maximum number of words per clue down to six: remarkably concise yet he loses nothing in the meaning. There were so many great clues; the naughty 3d, the clever 21a, but my favourite was 27a.

    My thanks and congratulations to Mr T for a terrific puzzle, and thanks, too, to SL for a fine review.

  8. I think that was about as definitive a RayT as I have ever seen. I had to pause for. Caffeination in the NE, but loved every minute. The rest of the 2nd cup was spent trying to guess which clip SL would use for the sublime 21a and I plumped correctly. It is the Daily Telegraph after all.

  9. Fairly gentle for a Ray T puzzle. The only real head scratch was finding the correct synonym for shoots at 17d & then needing to check my answer having either forgotten or never known the ceramic. The Knopfler lurker was great – I’ve been fortunate to see him live a few times.
    Thanks to Ray T & Stephen – shall read your review later as dashing off for golf at the lovely Ashridge Golf Club.
    Wordle in another phew.

  10. Enjoyable challenge throughout.
    Completed in 3* time.
    Pleased that I constructed correctly a new word for me, 17d.
    Many thanks, Ray T and Stephen L.

  11. Lots of misleading cluing in the surfaces,eg 9a,favourite was 27a, 24a was clever with wordplay and definition as per SL.s blog comment.
    3d was slightly riske! terrific concise clueing throughout and a ***/**** for me.
    Excellent quickie too
    Thanks to SL for the pics especially 21 a true guitar ‘picker’

  12. Oh dear. The SE corner was my downfall. I stared at the last few for ages before all except 25D were resolved, and the penny never did drop for that one. 3D earned a “really?” I missed the cleverness of 21A since I’ve not heard of the gentleman. On a more positive note, once again I learned a new word in 15A. Top picks for me are 8D and 20D. Thanks to SL and Mr. T.

  13. I am afraid this was a rare DNF for me. I found many clues rather clinky and I needed a lot of help so will refrain from detailed comment. Anyway thank you RayT and StephenL
    Preoccupied at present with fox den in garden – anyone got solution suggestions?

    1. We had that problem some years ago and someone suggested human hair?! Visit the local barber and collect his sweepings.

      1. Yes DG I have heard that previously. I have in fact had enormous quotes for varying treatments including lavender spray and also more drastic solutions.
        I have seen 3 cubs but so far no adult.

        1. Foxes need drastic solutions. Roughly where are you in the UK ? – I’ve got a .22 Rifle with a Sound Moderator (a silencer) and it’s highly effective in dispatching foxes.

  14. I cannot comment because I cannot solve! My card expired at WorldPay, so I tried to login with the username and password they gave me, but it wouldn’t let me in.

    In the end I subscribed using a different email and the transaction apparently went through and I have new username/password.

    A few hours later I had an email saying payment refused and today I cannot access the puzzles. Nor does new username/password let me in.

    Has anyone had this happen?

    I have contacted Telegraph support but from previous comments I don’t hold out much hope for a quick solution.

    Are you looking in Chris Lancaster?

    1. As an afterthought, can anyone logon to WorldPay using the username/password supplied by WorldPay? If so can the give me the address of the web page they are using?

    2. Stoney – I have been having exactly the same issues with my subscription renewal and have been in contact with the Telegraph ‘help’ people for weeks. Their responses have been very slow and vague. I believe it is due to some banks introducing a second tier of authorisation for payments. This works well when the user is in direct contact as we can simply confirm using a text code or similar – but – when the process is automated the payment fails as the bank is requesting its second tier of authorisation to a piece of software that doesn’t understand what is being asked of it; so it refuses the payment.
      WorldPay told me they are unable to help and referred me to the Telegraph who (eventually) replied saying this is a common problem, but without offering any solution.

      Luckily, to date, my subscription has not been cancelled, despite this ongoing issue.

      1. But the payment went through … i have all the transaction details from WorldPay … transaction id, agreement number etc. then in the middle of the night I get a payment failure email.

        However the payment has not been processed by the bank.

        But please can someone try logging on to WorldPay and if successful give me the address of the logon page?

        1. I have solved the issue of Logging on to WorldPay. There I find that I have an operational subscription from 27/04/2022.

          But I cannot access Puzzles!

          Telegraph support standard reply says they are “experiencing high levels of …”

          I am not surprised. Perhaps they should dump WorldPay.

          Are you there Chris Lancaster?

          1. Well nobody seems interested in helping.

            The problem with logging in is that the username is case-sensitive. The username they supply is lowercase, but the login field sets the first character to upper-case!

            Having logged in and entered my new card details I am still no further on.

            There is no option, for example, to re-do the payment. There is no “Contact Us” option!. Frankly the WorldPay system is a disgrace.

            It would be simple to remind people their card is about to expire and solve the problem before it happens. But no, we have to spend hours sorting out problems about “case” and still get nowhere.

            I hope at least I have given others info about the problem.

            No crossword today. Where would I find the time?

            1. I spent two hours today trying to sort out a friend’s subscription problem. The puzzles website gives two discontinued telephone numbers to call, sigh. The method I used to get through to a human being was to call the Telegraph help line, then select paper subscription > wish to cancel. Lo and behold up jumps someone who seems to want to do something, anything, to help you decide to stay.

    3. Yes, me. I am still trying to sort out my subscription renewal. DT has still, though, kindly given me access.
      It is a nightmare, the DT cannot seem to cope with renewals. I am in e-mail contact with them. Their Puzzles department will not deal with queries on the phone. My Worldpay account is all set up etc. with my correct bank details. My bank tells me that the DT is not doing something that it should be doing when trying to get payment.
      Good luck.

      1. It is indeed a nightmare. After a hard day’s work the crossword is a great relaxant … disappointing not to have it.

        It is not the DT. It is WorldPay that is the problem. But it is DT’s fault for using WorldPay … an organisation that you have to trust but cannot contact. Absurd.

        I wonder if they will give me access.

        Are you there Chris Lancaster?

        1. Thanks SW.
          I’ll keep you posted.
          As you say, Worldpay is impossible to contact.
          I would like the DT to just accept a normal credit card.

    4. Same problem, and same responses from Worldpay and Telegraph. In the end I cancelled my subscription to the puzzles site and then renewed. This worked, but I expect the same challenge when my bank card next expires. Telegraph should adopt another system – PAYPAL maybe – so much simpler and cleaner.

  15. RayT at his very best today. What’s not to like in puzzles such as these? As for 3 down. Well, when Micawber clued SPEECH as ‘Number one in school for language‘ I hinted it thus ‘The three-letter abbreviation for school contains what a number one might be called when using the lavatory. The sort of tone lowering clue that belongs in The Grauniad.’ I’ve mellowed since then. Thanks to RayT for the entertainment and to StephenL on three counts. 1 obviously, for the hints. 2 for providing such a wonderful lunch at 6 down (plus the beer at 13 across) 3 For choosing something other than the overly clichéd Sultans of Swing to illustrate Mr Knopfler’s prowess. I much prefer his post Dire Straits output.

  16. Could hardly believe my eyes when I realised Mr T was back for the third week running – how lucky are we!
    Don’t think I’d previously encountered 17d but the wordplay was clear enough to get me there and managed to justify 15a by thinking in terms of the ’15a hour’ – cut off time for me as a teenager on a night out.
    So many worthy podium contenders but my clear favourite was 21a – a star indeed.

    Devotions as ever to Mr T and thanks to Stephen L for the review and the music clip, although I think Kath might have preferred one of his Dire Straits numbers.

    1. Hi Jane, the song is a Dire Straits number, from their fourth studio album “Love over Gold”

      1. Oops, thank you, Stephen. Perhaps I should have said ‘better known to the oldies’ like myself who saw them live many moons ago at The Bridgewater Hall!

  17. I found this somewhat on the tough side and, consequently, struggled with it and have to report a DNF. Never mind, what I did manage was most entertaining especially the cheeky 3d. Plenty of sweethearts accompanied Her Majesty and, yes, Ray T has given clues of no more than six words. How on earth does he do it so consistently?

    Many thanks, Ray T but you beat me today. Thank you, StephenL for helping me make sense of it.

  18. Another great workout from Raymundo.

    I’m sure some of you know this one but, for the ones that don’t….

    Insect – 6 letters 6 legs
    Arachnid – 8 letters 8 legs

    I have made up very few clues over the years but this is one that I was pleased with for 16a that sounds like the start of a joke…

    Fish walk into a chippy

  19. About as good as it gets, methinks. Sublime and beyond, and even though I don’t know the music of Dire Straits (where have I been, you wonder), Jimmy (a rock star guitarist) certainly does, and we both agree that 21a is Mr T at the top of his craft, which is a pretty high summit. 9a & 22d were my last two in and pushed me well into *** time. Those three–21, 9, 22–plus 20d occupy the crowded podium, with many other worthies contending. Thanks to SL for the enjoyable review and to Ray T for his third straight brilliant Thursday. *** / *****

    Hello to Kath. Hope you join us today.

    1. Not sure you can put 9a 15a and 17d in the sublime box; i just don’t understand why lots rave about this setter.

      1. Don’t worry about it Ejl – setters are a bit like Marmite! I could give you quite a list of those whose work I admire but I doubt it would find favour in every quarter. Variety is the spice etc……….

  20. Not my cup of tea. I got there in the end (with a little e-check on the pottery front) but too many hmms and not enough ahhs. Thanks Ray T for the work-out and StephenL for the explanations of some uncomfortable bung-ins.
    Really great lurker though.

  21. Hard work and I neededStephenL for 15a and struggled to find something burlesque for 28a. Daisies beside 9,11,21a and 16 & 22d. Of course the footbally one went right over my head until I read the comments but the lurker was obvious. I ran out of time yesterday as a friend and I are re- writing the church guide which we did in 2006. Surprisingly one or two things have been found and a new window made from some mediaeval glass found under the organ. All got to be worked in. Followed by WI AGM of which I am secretary, today the dentist and Waitrose and now I am exhausted with this post Covid plunge in energy. No time for housework- yuk. Many thanks to RayT as I am told it is you and to StephenL. I hope my get up and go does not stay gone for too long!

  22. Ray T may be down to six words a clue but the many ways he uses certain words bewilders me and I cannot justify looking up in the BRB every word he is using in an obtuse or unusual way. Life is too short. Only comfort is that the NE corner was my best corner by a long way.

    Thanks to Ray T and to Stephen L for unlocking a third of the clues.

  23. Ray T to a “t”. Super puzzle slightly over average difficulty but a very satisfying solve. Had the “It can’t be” moment for 3d then remembered the setter. Brought a smile.
    It gets joint COTD with 21a (just for Kath who as I recall didn’t like a tie).
    Thanks to Ray T and SL didn’t need the hints but as always a required read.
    Lovely morning up here and the walk along a mile of almost deserted beach with Biggles revived my spirits.
    Best wishes Kath

  24. Another excellent Ray T production. Great clues, a tad above average difficulty and a pleasing solve. Fav: 5d. 3*/4*.

  25. Oh dear someone at the DT must be in very bad mood to inflict yesterdays and todays puzzles.
    Ray T at his most indecipherable today after yesterdays disaster.
    Not a great week for me.
    Thx for the hints

    1. Thank you Brian. I was thinking the same. I know I keep saying this, but why oh why do we have to have a difficult cryptic on the days when there is already a Toughie on offer for those that find the cryptic below their skill level? It seems to me that the DT does not really care that we all pay the same fees to be able to access puzzles, but some of us really enjoy a truly solvable puzzle, such as those provided by Chalicea and Cephas. Ray T does occasionally provide a more benevolent version, but today’s wasn’t one sadly.

        1. Thanks. I could finish the puzzle by clicking on the hints. But, for me, the satisfaction of completing a puzzle is in pulling the answers out of my head without any help. I truly appreciate the daily hints provided by the blog, and do use them when I get stuck. And sometimes it just takes one hint to get me back on track. But to use more than a few defeats the object. So when I can work my way through without any help whatsoever is a perfect puzzle day. And I suspect I am not alone in this.

          1. No, you are not alone, but I think you are tilting at windmills here. I’ve given up, too late in life to fight a losing battle.

  26. Very nice puzzle as we have come to expect on Thursdays 🤗 ***/**** I am afraid that I have 4 favourites Kath 😳11 & 27a and 17 & 20d 😃 Thanks to Stephen L and to Ray T

  27. A relatively straightforward Ray T offering today that needed some head scratching nonetheless. 2.5*/4.5*
    Favourites include 11a, 21a, 1d, 16d & 18d with winner the lurker in 21a.
    8d, 25d & 13a all made me smile.

    Thanks to Ray T and Stephen L for hints

  28. 17d and 3d required StephenL’s assistance, thanks overall for a top quality puzzle from RayT

  29. I did a bit better than yesterday, I think I got a bit cocky and made mistakes, so can’t blame RayT for all the oddness of this puzzle. Gosh, he’s got such a strange brain. With my dodgy eyes, I read Stratocruiser at 21a and have never heard of Knopfler, the lurker popped out after struggling for a while. I also put “hard” in 17d instead of “herd”, that was silly as I knew the word. I was a DNF also by a good bit, not my finest hour. Please, for Pete’s sake, make tomorrow more accessible.
    Thanks RayT, you’re too clever by half for the likes of a tiny brain. I don’t know how you sorted that lot, SL. Wordle in 3.
    P.S. We still don’t know who compiled yesterday’s mind boggler, do we?

  30. A fine puzzle from Ray T. Managed to complete but had to verify two or three with the excellent hints.
    Off to Stratford for the big semi.


  31. I was in the rather tricky camp today – and I’ve never heard of 15a.
    As usual lots of brilliant clues – I think my favourite has to be 21a, even though it’s a lurker (hate them) but several other good clues worthy of mention – 18 (both across and down) and others.
    Thanks Ray T and StephanL.

    1. PS Thanks everyone.
      Most of the time we all concentrate on the cryptic so I just thought perhaps we should too give some attention to its little cousin – the Quickie!! I find that the Quickie can often more difficult and that’s particularly in the case of Ray T’s days.

    2. I’ve been thinking about 15a, we do speak of the “bewitching” hour, I presume this means the same thing.

  32. Evening all. Thanks to StephenL for the analysis and to everybody else for your contributions.


    1. Good evening Mr T. Couldn’t believe my luck this morning when I saw you were on duty again – really made my day!

  33. After the disappointing clunky Toughie it was a pleasure to romp through this. OK, I needed a bit of electronic help but the 1a and 28a anagrams were good weren’t they? My COTD is 3d

  34. Well yesterday was a complete disaster,( I’m not keen on GK ) so after many hours and only 6 clues in I had to resort to hints and electronic help. I have to finish it once I’ve started which is every day, even if it takes hours!
    So today, I started with trepidation as I don’t like Thursdays . It was a real struggle and I only had 9 and a half solved so with a deep sigh I started on my long journey to completion.
    What an idiot! I was doing the toughie.
    Abandoned that and found the right one, swipe left not right 😂
    Slow but steady, finished without help but I’m never on this setter’s wavelength so not much joy.
    Roll on tomorrow and who knows we may get a Zandio and then a Chalicea on Saturday which would be amazing for me.
    Thanks to Stephen and Ray T

  35. Hmm. I’ve never yet managed to crowbar the word at 17d into a conversation. A decent puzzle but, for me, a few clues just didn’t cut it.

  36. I found this really difficult but I finally managed it and parsed everything. SW last in. Favourite was the naughty 3d. Thanks to Rayt and SL. I haven’t done half of the toughie.

  37. I came to this late today but have solved less than a quarter of this offering in the time it would normally take me to finish.

    I may continue in the morning with a clear head but I doubt I will come anywhere near completing.

    Fourth dnf this week. Roll on next week!

    Thanks to all.

  38. After yesterdays nightmare I found this a pleasant change, and it’s not often I say that about a RayT. Only needed one hint ,for 17d, I have heard of it in the distant past possibly but couldn’t bring it to mind. It’s very late to comment so nobody will see this probably, but who cares 😁. Thanks to all.

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