DT 29979 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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DT 29979

Daily Telegraph Cryptic No 29979
Hints and tips by Miffypops
+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +
BD Rating – Difficulty ***Enjoyment ***

Good day one and all. I have no idea who set today’s puzzle but I found it very enjoyable and a lot easier than last Thursdays offering. Three clues held out for a short while at the end. All with unchecked first letters. Twelve out of the twenty-seven answers have unchecked first letters which ups the ante for solvers. The Toughie is proving to be good fun as well

After last week’s debates on Friday and Saturday about the difficulty of some puzzles here are some thoughts from planet Miff
Reading the clues will not help. Stop reading the clues.
Staring at an empty grid will not help. Try staring at the clues
Mmms and raised eyebrows belong elsewhere.
Thursdays are setter friendly days. Be nice to setters
Don’t sweat the small stuff (like getting irritated by Mmms, raised eyebrows and difficult puzzles) It will not help.
As Piet Hein says

The road to wisdom?
Well, it’s plain

And simple to express:


and err

and err again,

but less

and less

and less.

Please leave a comment telling us what you thought.


4a South American writers start to exploit uncertainty in stories? (8)
SUSPENSE: A straightforward charade starts us off today. Begin with the abbreviation for South. Add the two-letter abbreviation for the United States. Add a word meaning writes (with an inked implement). Add the first letter of the word exploit

8a Clear to sanction again? (6)
REFINE: A word meaning to clear impurities when split 2,4 will suit the wordplay in the clue

9a Lids seen flickering — condition of one slouching? (8)
IDLENESS: Anagram (flickering) of LIDS SEEN

10a Dismissed a politician for something potentially explosive (8)
FIREDAMP: A synonym of the word dismissed or sacked is followed by the letter A from the clue and a member of parliament to find a type of methane or marsh gas

11a Vessel foremost for cargo, say (6)
CUTTER: The first letter of the word cargo is followed by a word meaning to say or state something

12a Disregard   wreck (5,3)
WRITE OFF: A double definition. The second usually applied to badly damaged vehicles after a prang

13a Ideas, even if offered by witless twits (8)
THOUGHTS: An adverb meaning even if or however is followed by the letters of the word twits once the word wit has been removed

Home-Thoughts, from Abroad

Oh, to be in England
Now that April’s there,
And whoever wakes in England
Sees, some morning, unaware,
That the lowest boughs and the brushwood sheaf
Round the elm-tree bole are in tiny leaf,
While the chaffinch sings on the orchard bough
In England—now!

And after April, when May follows,
And the whitethroat builds, and all the swallows!
Hark, where my blossomed pear-tree in the hedge
Leans to the field and scatters on the clover
Blossoms and dewdrops—at the bent spray’s edge—
That’s the wise thrush; he sings each song twice over,
Lest you should think he never could recapture
The first fine careless rapture!
And though the fields look rough with hoary dew,
All will be gay when noontide wakes anew
The buttercups, the little children’s dower
—Far brighter than this gaudy melon-flower!

16a Old iron used around American state (8)
FOREGONE: The chemical symbol for Iron sits around an American state known as the Beaver state

19a Ate clumsily and messed up beard with food (3,5)
TEA BREAD: Two obvious anagrams should lead to the answer here. Something I’ve never heard of but I’ll eat it anyway

21a Feels the loss of the company of    young ladies? (6)
MISSES: A double definition. A word describing young unmarried ladies is also a word meaning feels the loss of the company of somebody. A feeling particularly strong after a bereavement

23a Late drink that may go to the head (8)
NIGHTCAP: When put together the late time of day and something that sits on one’s head form a drink taken before bed

24a In archaeological operation everyone favoured old-style communication process (8)
DIALLING: The clue here says it all. A word meaning everyone plus a word meaning favoured or trendy sit inside an archeological excavation

25a After falsehood mean to keep out of sight (3,3)
LIE LOW: An untruth is followed by an adjective meaning mean or despicable

26a Distress of a good girl with smile mostly hidden (8)

AGGRIEVE: A four part charade in this order. 1 The letter A from the clue 2 The abbreviation for good   3 A word meaning smile but minus its last letter 4 A girl. “Which girl I hear you say? “The one that fits the clue” say I. This type of clue which uses a random girl or boys name has been around for years. The setters like it. The editor allows it. It’s not going to go away so best to simply suck it up and get on with life. As I’ve advised above Don’t sweat the small stuff


1d What is boring about sin and wickedness? (7)
DEVILRY: A word meaning boring or dull sits around a word meaning profoundly sinful and wicked

2d Note slime fouling up wayside marker (9)
MILESTONE: Anagram (fouling up) of NOTE SLIME

3d Old boy recording upset in boat (6)
PEDALO: Begin with the abbreviation for old. Add a boy. Not a boys name, simply a synonym of the word boy. Add the abbreviation for an extended play record, the same size as a single but usually having two tracks on each side. Reverse all of what you have as indicated by the word upset

4d Spoken error upsetting fool, he being corrected (4,2,3,6)
SLIP OF THE TONGUE: Anagram (being corrected) of UPSETTING FOOL HE

5d One making a choice — second person at the polling station? (8)
SELECTOR: The abbreviation for second is followed by a person casting their vote at a polling station as many of you will be doing today.

6d Painter contributing to modern style (5)
ERNST: The answer lies hidden within the words of the clue as indicated by the words contributing to

7d Funny people watching the match not half entertaining us (7)
SUSPECT: The word us from the clue sits inside the first half of a word meaning those who watch a sporting event

14d Murderer with bit of cloth turned up — wicked fellow (9)
GARROTTER: A piece of old cloth is reversed and followed by a wicked fellow. A cad or a bounder perhaps

15d Study feature of church scheme (8)
CONSPIRE: A regular three-letter crosswordland word meaning to study is followed by a feature of a church which points to the heavens

17d Having 13 of love and longing (7)
OPINING: When a number such as 13 here appears in the clue it usually (but not always) refers to that clue in the same crossword. The letter suggested by the word love (the tennis score) is followed by a word meaning yearning or longing

18d eSoldier to finish getting cross? It seems absurd (7)
PARADOX: The soldier here is a paratrooper. Begin with his shortened name. Add a two-letter word meaning to complete and the letter symbolising a kiss

20d Messenger from heaven descending on a girl (6)
ANGELA:  The name given to a messenger from heaven plus the letter A from the clue will lead to a girls name

22d ‘Sunny‘ lake spotted in upward journey (5)
SOLAR: Find a rather stretched synonym of the word journey. Buzzards and Eagles do this when riding the thermals. Insert the abbreviation for lake

Quickie Pun Keep + Players = Key Players


69 comments on “DT 29979

  1. Very enjoyable, slowish start but fast finish. I think this may be the work of our old regular Friday setter, who knows.
    I thought the 13a&17d linked clues were very clever as was 7d and they make up today’s podium.
    Many thanks to the setter and to MP for the fun in the South Devon sun..
    Ps can definitely recommend the not too tough Beam Toughie.

  2. Reasonably easy. Beaten by 8a. COTD 10a.
    Unlike SL I’m not finding Beam friendly at all!

  3. Some tricky cluing today,especially the SW corner and particularly last in 16a which took a while to parse and has to be my favourite.
    3d nicely misled the ‘Old Boy ‘ for a change.
    Thanks to MP for the pics especially 6d I liked his deers in te forest.
    Enjoyed the solve and a ***/**** for me

      1. Mine too and favourite. Very clever, I was even looking for old golf irons. Of which I have a couple with wooden handles – what do I do with them?

        1. I have a hickory shafted putter that belonged to my father-in -law. We keep it as an ornament.

      1. I agree, don’t like the one you chose. Funny old artist, I think he’s either superb or a load of old rubbish, all his stuff varies so much.

        1. Superb I would say Merusa,
          We love Max Ernst in Hyères.
          Both in the Villa Noailles and the Foundation Carmignac.

          1. Sorry, I should have worded that better – he has many superb paintings, but other works of his seem to be by a different artist altogether.

  4. How we do differ, eh MP? I found this one considerably tougher than last Thursday’s, especially the SW corner and most especially 16a, which was my LOI. I agree with SL that the 13a/17d combination takes top prize today, with 16a & 26a fleshing out the podium. Took me two sittings-cum-stabbings (last night, this morning) to finish, so I must post a 5* for the time factor and 3.5* for enjoyment. Thanks to MP and to today’s wily setter.

    Thoroughly enjoyable Beam Toughie today–top puzzle of the week for me.

    1. You a solving with English English as your second language Robert. I would struggle solving a puzzle written in American English. I admire your skill and tenacity

  5. I rather enjoyed this. I tend to agree the 13a 17d linked clues are my favourites too. Mrs Botham’s Bakery do a rather nice 19a too. And I liked the extended play part of 3d too.
    I think Sister Bee has my Magical Mystery Tour EP but I can still listen to it.

    1. 19a is better known as Tea Loaf where I come from & Taylor’s of Harrogate bake a belter.

      1. I’ve had many a slice at Betty’s with Mama Bee. Spread with butter and served with a nice Darjeeling.

        1. I totally agree with a generous spreading of butter but Darjeeling!? Sorry but only a very strong mug of Yorkshire Gold is acceptable to drink with Tea Loaf….and it has to be loose leaves brewed for four minutes.

          1. Only four minutes? That’s barely enough to develop a proper colour, let alone strip the surface from a teaspoon … !

            1. Coffee should be as hot as hell and black as night (and sweet as love – but my dentist has banned sugar) Tea is a delicate brew that should be sipped with Tea Loaf or a scone IMO. Builders tea should be saved for building sites and bacon butties.

              1. No one is going to read this now but you, so I can tell you! I was once serving teas at a charity event in local stately home. Towards the end of the afternoon a man asked for two cups of tea and I started to pour it. Oh no, I said, you can’t have that. I will make a fresh pot. No, that’s fine he said. No, no I said you cannot possibly drink that – it is builders tea. He leant forward confidentially – Madam, he said, I AM a builder!
                Collapse of stout party, as Punch says.

  6. Steady and enjoyable progress to completion.
    Last in 16a and 17d.
    Thought the former and 26a were gems amongst novel clueing.
    Many thanks to the setter and to Miffypops.

  7. Very good crossword. 16a last one in. I had not heard of 10a but it had to be what it is.

    I agree with The Miff that becoming rather aggrieved at the nature of a crossword is a bit excessive, yet I feel that most people who say, “This crossword was impossible! No more of these please!” are frustrated by their inability to finish it, rather than shaking a fist at the setter (and the world). I say this as someone who is still only at beginner/intermediate level after years and years of attempting cryptic crosswords.
    In essence, I’m rather a placid person and I simply can’t work up the energy to become excitable about how someone has constructed a grid of black and white squares.

    Thanks to the setter and The Miff. Big Thursday shout out to The Lovely Kath

    1. I agree wholeheartedly, Terence.

      Unfortunately, I still get aggrieved by those who continually criticise the setter/editor rather than their own ineptitude.

      Best to ignore their comments … if only I could.

      1. I speak for myself, I’m quite aware of my ineptitude, I’ve lived with it for a long time. I know you’re part of the intelligentsia, but those of us who are not, are only asking for the back pager to be at least comprehensible for our tiny brains. The Toughie can be as complicated as a setter can make it to satisfy your superior intelligence. Here’s how you can ignore my comments … look up the word “ignore” in the dictionary, my name is clearly stated at the top of my comments.

      2. At the top of every blog, before the clues, it says “Please leave a comment telling us what you thought.” I take that to mean whether you enjoyed or not, whether you found it difficult or not.

        I think you have missed the context of the recent complaints. It is that frequently the backpager is on the tricky end of the spectrum, on the same day that there is already a Toughie to satisfy those who prefer a more difficult challenge.

        Nobody is criticizing the setter per se, rather the scheduling of two high level crosswords on the same day. Nobody is begrudging you a crossword that you find worthy. You might also notice that many of us will say “above my pay grade” etc. acknowledging our ineptness, or aging brains.

  8. Add me to the 16a last one in club. Thanks to today’s setter and planet Miff.

  9. Good puzzle, the most challenging so far of this week’s backpagers – as it should be. As with SL, a slowish start (not helped by this grid style) and speedy finish as I tuned in more accurately to the setter’s style and wavelength. Everything fair, just requiring a little more lateral thinking, to be a bit more “out of the box” – which certainly “dialled up” the enjoyment factor. 3d my LOI – never really thought of those as being boats, but no idea why not.

    Hon Mentions to 26a, 18d and 22d, with 16a my COTD.

    2.5* / 3*

    Many thanks to the mystery setter (I have no idea) and to MP for the blog – and the wonderful Youtube clip!

  10. Good gracious, I’m so pleased the 16a loi club is alive and well. Needed MP’s assistance to parse 26a also but apart from those two, a swift solve. Thanks to Setter and MP.

  11. Was not sure about 26a, aggrieved yes but aggrieve? How would you use that in a sentence?

  12. A great puzzle although 8a did hold me up but, once solved, I wondered why. Plenty to like and I have ticks all over the paper but one or two I thought terrific. These are 13a, 16a, 26a, 1d and 18d. My absolute favourite and COTD is 7d. As Mustafa G said, a bit of lateral thought required and this was most welcome.

    Many thanks to the setter for the fun challenge. Thanks, also, Miffypops for the usual amusing blog and hints.

  13. Didn’t understand the unnecessary “the company of” in 21a. Could anyone explain?

    1. I’ve edited the hint. The does indeed work without those words but it works just as well with them, perhaps a little more poignantly

      1. Thanks Miffypops, I suppose it does make sense the way you’ve underlined it in the hint now.

  14. A very enjoyable solve, although I can’t work out where “the company of” comes into play with 21A.

    Thanks to the setter and to Miffypops for an excellent blog.

  15. Both exceedingly friendly for a Thursday and enjoyable . 16a was my last one in too

    Thanks to the mystery setter and to MP

  16. Very enjoyable with just 16a and 18d keeping me guessing. The pocket rocket gardener has just arrived and keeps asking me questions so I have to go. Busy time in the garden! Many thanks to the setter as always and to MP

  17. 16a was not my last one in. That honour goes to 18d. Not my quickest solve but got most I. Pretty quickly. I thought some were going to be impenetrable but a lunch break resolved the issues. Favourites 16a and 1 4 15 and 18d. Thank setter and MP. No hints needed but the pilot cutter was rather familiar. That particular clue took me much less time to solve than 3d which led me a merry dance around the boating lake.

  18. How nice this was until I got super stuck with the northwest corner last and some help needed – and more doh moments thanks Miffypops and setter.

  19. Flew through this with no problem (though I’d never heard of the painter) until 16a which I left until after ⛳️. Though I’d only had time for a brief bit of head scratching before having to dash I wasn’t close until I opened the iPad upon my return & got it instantly. Top 3 for me 10,13&16a in no particular order.
    Off to see Joe Bonamassa at the Royal Albert Hall tonight which I’m very much looking forward to. The Beam Toughie will have to wait until bedtime.
    Thanks to the setter & MP
    Wordle in 4

    1. Hugely envious of you, Huntsman – IMV Joe Bonnamassa is one of the most remarkable guitarists, let alone blues guitarists, of all time. And then there’s everything he’s done with (the equally legendary) Beth Hart … Have a great evening!

  20. This was a puzzle of two halves for me, with right side completed before I got even one clue completed on the left side. Ended up as a 3*/4* for me.
    Favourites include 24a, 26a, 4d, 15d & 18d with 4d the winner today.
    New word for me in 10a and liked the lurker in 6d

    Thanks to setter and MP

  21. Love MFs intro to todays blog. I agree except for being nice to Thursdays setters, not b….y likely!
    Having said that although todays was definitely on the tricky side of *** I enjoyed it, the challenge was big but fair.
    Nothing to crib about (makes a change I hear you say).
    For me better than the average Thursday.
    Thx to all
    PS the only Ernst I know is Stavro Blofeld!

  22. A nice surprise for a Thursday, a not too difficult puzzle. Moved along quite quickly at first, particular the right hand side, but slowed towards the end. I had heard of something similar to 10a, but it was something to slow or shut down a fire. So pretty straight forward to figure out the answer although it had nothing to do with what I remembered. I have a favorite recipe I brought with me from England for 19a. Strangely most Americans loath fruit cakes. Thanks to the setter and Miffypops. Robert Browning succinctly sums up my thoughts every spring here in South Florida.

  23. Oh dear – I couldn’t have done this one if my life had depended on it – as some one said (can’t remember who) it might have been Giovanni – that has given me an excuse as I always used to find him impossible!!!
    Thanks to the setter for the crossword and to MP.

    1. Hi Kath. Our hero was over in Toughie corner today wearing his Beam hat, perhaps you’d have been happier over there, it was certainly a better place for me!

    2. Nice to see you Kath, but sorry it wasn’t your fave. Maybe next Thursday!

    3. Perhaps your old favorite will be in this slot next week. Glad to see you again,

  24. Try again – previous Comment seems to have disappeared – perhaps I was too precipitous in moving on. Anyway nothing special to say about today’s enigma. 4d went straight in so that was a helpful base on which to build. Needed help with 10a. A hae ma doots re 8a sanction “synonym”. Like 21a with or without the company of. Thank you setter and MP.

  25. Thanks MP and setter. Well, I learned plenty about tea bread and etiquette re setters today, filled the East rapidly, the West slowly then needed a hefty hint with 8a. There were a few favourites but gold goes to 16a.

  26. I can’t believe today is Thursday! I wonder who set this thing, most enjoyable. Fave was 4d. I also appreciate M’pops inclusion of one of my fave poems at 13a. I remember Terry Thomas (remember him? ) in a movie, bending low over April, the heroine’s hand and kissing it, while murmuring the lines, huge grin with that famous space between his front teeth.
    Thank you setter for the fun, and M’pops for unravelling a couple. Wordle in 3.

  27. A crossword of two halves for me….4D and eastwards filled in in a jiffy, west took rather longer. Wasn’t keen on 14d but apart from that an enjoyable crossword. Thanks to the setter and MP for the blog.

  28. Annoyed that today we got the answers shown immediately rather than just seeing the hints first. What one wrong?

    1. There seems to be a problem where for a few people the answers aren’t hidden

  29. I was cruising through this until I wasn’t. I found this harder than the toughie. Never heard of the painter in 5d so the lurker was lost on me. Oh well! Tomorrow’s another crossword. If I had to pick a favourite it would be 24a. Thanks to the setter and MP.

  30. 4d was one of the best anagrams I saw in a long time.
    So nice to see that our blogger doesn’t get bored with providing such refreshing reviews.
    Thanks to setter and reviewer alike.
    A fan.

  31. Very late on parade today but I just wanted t add my thanks to our setter for a most enjoyable if slightly tricky puzzle. Thanks, too, to MP for his usual entertaining blog.

  32. 11a.

    Such a beautiful clip. Took me back to sailing days and then down various other sailing clips. Now it’s late and I’ve have not done any more of the crossword!

  33. Tried to finish this just now but defeated by 18d. 8a and 3d were bung ins. Pretty mild for a Thursday puzzle and better than yesterdays which I failed miserably on. Thanks to all, especially for the teen phone clip😂.

  34. Dear Big Dave,

    I really enjoy doing the crossword and your hints and clues really help when I get a bit stuck.

    Can you go back to covering the answers? I personally preferred that as it still made my mind work…

    Thanks again for everything!


    1. Welcome to the blog Richard.

      Please see comment #9 on the blog for DT 29980, perhaps let us know what browser you are using.

  35. Why are the answers unhidden today, or is this just my own technical manifestation?

    1. If you read the posts on Friday’s cryptic crossword, you will see that this is only happening to some people and we don’t know why

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