DT 29985 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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DT 29985

Daily Telegraph Cryptic No 29985

Hints and tips by StephenL

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BD Rating – Difficulty **Enjoyment ****

Good morning everyone from a pleasantly warm South Devon. Our esteemed setter has given us another not too difficult fun puzzle that all went in smoothly for me with just a couple of parsings requiring some extra thought.
Please leave a comment telling us what you thought.


1a Bug rogue planted in American agency (6)
CICADA: Place an unscrupulous person, a rogue or bounder inside (planted in) a US intelligence agency

4a Curious cat with smile seeing plant (8)
CLEMATIS: Anagram (curious) of CAT and SMILE

9a Mock one the French Queen rejected (6)
UNREAL: Mock here is an adjective. A 2-letter informal word or dialect term for one (thanks Gazza) is followed by a reversal of a French definite article and the queen’s regnal cipher.

10a Hilarity after catching disgusted expression (8)
LAUGHTER: Place a synonym of after around a 3-letter informal expression of disgust or horror

11a Move to cut cost for routine (8)
PRACTICE: A 3-letter synonym of move in the sense of take action is inserted into (to cut) a synonym of cost

13a Discounts, perhaps without a squabble (6)
HASSLE: Discounts here is a verb. Split the solution 3-3 and you’ll see we are missing the letter A (without a) in the second “word”

15a Moral rot in republic corrupted … (13)
INCORRUPTIBLE: Anagram (corrupted) of the previous three words. The anagrind and solution seem very close

18a … issue against party helping (13)
CONSIDERATION: You can ignore the ellipses, they’re only there to help the surface read. A three part charade of an abbreviation for against, a party or a team and a helping or portion

22a By inches, pose oddly, showing muscles (6)
BICEPS: Alternate letters (oddly) of the first three words

24a Line found in funny gag (8)
STRANGLE: Insert the abbreviation for Line into a synonym of funny or queer

26a Person acting so dubiously? (8)
AGNOSTIC: I think this is a very clever &lit where the whole clue serves as wordplay and definition. Anagram (dubiously) of the preceding two words

27a Mechanic is possibly hunkier (6)
FITTER: Two meanings, one a noun the other an (informal) comparative adjective.

28a Size slimmer, taking a medium (8)
DIAMETER: Slimmer here is a noun, someone on a reduced food intake. Insert (taking) A from the clue and the abbreviation for Medium

29a Assistants covering small digressions (6)

ASIDES: Some assistants or helpers go around (covering) the abbreviation for Small


1d Idiots and cronies seizing power (6)
CHUMPS: Some cronies or pals go around (seizing) the abbreviation for Power.

2d Briefly worry people in the pink? (9)
CARNATION: A synonym of worry loses its last letter (briefly) and is followed by a synonym of people or country

3d Doctor since second cut getting violent (7)
DRASTIC: Start with an abbreviation for a doctor. Add a synonym of since as a conjunction. Append a synonym of second in the sense of time without its last letter (cut)

5d First guitarist in heavy metal? (4)
LEAD: Double definition. Different pronunciation. Here’s one of the best, Donald “Buck Dharma” Roeser of the mighty Blue Oyster Cult.

6d Traveller could give harangue following plane (7)

MIGRANT: Append a synonym of harangue to an old Russian fighter plane. Strange surface read

7d Carries babies, consuming energy (5)
TOTES: Some babies or small children go around (consuming) the abbreviation for Energy

8d Angrier about Church initially roasting witch (8)
SORCERER: A synonym of angrier or more miffed goes around the abbreviation for the Church of England and the initial letter of roasting

12d Turn over motor, even losing velocity (6)
CAREEN: Motor here is a noun. Follow it with the word EvEN once the abbreviation for Velocity has been removed (losing velocity). A new word for me but easily obtainable from checkers and wordplay.

14d Kingdom, United Kingdom, overturned Remain (6)
KUWAIT: Reverse (overturned) the abbreviation for the United Kingdom and follow it with a synonym of remain. Ignore the false capitalisation, it’s there to mislead you into thinking about the referendum.

16d Get behind spanked being ignorant (9)
BENIGHTED: Anagram (spanked) of the preceding two words

17d Shakespeare supports rogue dagger holder (8)
SCABBARD: A 4-letter title often given to Shakespeare goes below (supports in a down clue) a synonym of rougue in the sense of a strike breaker

19d Independent politician innocent with European deadlock (7)
IMPASSE: Start with the abbreviation for Independent. Add the usual abbreviated politician. Follow that with a synonym of innocent as a noun in the sense of green or not wise and the abbreviation for European

20d Characters here  inclining towards the right? (7)
ITALICS: The characters here are letters. Need I say more

21d Tries pinching end of wet suit (6)
HEARTS: A synonym of tries in a legal sense pinches or goes around the final letter of weT

23d Chase one’s neighbour, grabbing anything originally! (5)
CONGA: An acrostic (originally) clue. For newer solvers this setter invariably includes one

25d Endure sweetheart holding up proposal (4)
BIDE: We have to wait until the final clue for an appearance of this setter’s swEeetheart. It goes under (holding up) a straightforward synonym of an offer or proposal.

Quickie Pun:  Standard + Tease = Stand at ease

13 & 26a were my winners today, along with a great pun. Which ones made your podium?


81 comments on “DT 29985

  1. Hooray! It’s Thursday, RayT day, and Kath day. I didn’t find this at all difficult and I really enjoyed it. I thought 15a was a bit weak as the anagram indicator unwittingly gives the answer away immediately – perhaps “perverted” might have been better?

    My rating is 1.5*/4* and I’ll go along with SL’s top two of 13a & 26a.

    Many thanks to RayT and to SL, and a big Thursday hi to Kath.

  2. I agree with SL’s rating of this pleasant exercise. 12a gave me pause for thought – easily parsed but a new term for me. My favourite was 28a which I thought clever. Thanks to SL and the setter.

  3. A steady solve for me today, 12d was a new word,last in was 13a-thanks to SL for the parsing , I thought 8d was a wizard and the witch had an ‘ess’ at the end! a tad clumsy.
    Anyway well clued. 28a was my favourite for the surface, going for a ***/***

  4. A friendly Ray T this morning but still chock full of his usual humour, conciseness and excellence. 26a was very clever and my favourite, closely followed by 14d.

    My thanks to Mr T and SL.

  5. And the winner of the ugliest guitar competition is …
    I found this to be a typical RayT puzzle. Once you are used to his little peccadilloes it all falls into place so easily. Not like the old days when it was an all day struggle to finish. Thanks to RayT for the puzzle and to StephenL for the blog. Looking forward to seeing you on Saturday

        1. Hi Nas
          Pre Covid we used to have an annual “bash” in London every January. Hoping it’ll be reinstated next year. If you look under “Features” and click “Gallery” you can see pictures of past events.

          1. Great – thanks. Often wondered where you are in our glorious County. We are just about to buy a house in Tavistock.

            1. Totness Saturday morning you are welcome as far as I’m concerned. Not sure what time yet

              1. Many thanks – sadly I have a meeting with our house builder. I’d rather be discussing crosswords🤣🤣

        2. We have had a birthday bash in London every year until Covid got in the way. It should be on for Early next year. Watch out for an announcement. There are photos from previous years in the gallery which you can find under the features tab above. Nurse Ninepence and I will be on our way to St Mawes on Saturday so a stop off to meet up with Steve seemed a good idea

  6. Trickiest so far this week. Two words I either didn’t know or had forgotten and a synonym for innocent that had me scratching my head. Thanks to RayT and SL.

  7. Nice RayT today, but not entirely happy with 8d. Shouldn’t a witch be a ….ess?
    And, Stephen, surely mock in 9a is an adjective, not a noun!

      1. Hi Angelica.

        If that’s not PC, does that mean princess is too?

        I’m not up to speed with these things.

          1. Mrs. C. has just read out something from the paper. The “woke” are having a go at nursery rhymes now. Miss Muffet is no longer “frightened” by the spider and, in fact, has her day “brightened” by it. In Baa Baa Black Sheep the sheep now explains that it is wrong to steal wool and give it to the pastor, dame or little boy who lives down the line. As for the Three Blind Mice they thank the farmer’s wife for saving their lives. :scratch:

            1. And what about Goosey Goosey Gander? Is he still allowed to take the old man and throw him down the stairs? Should it have a trigger warning?

              1. Not to mention little boys being made from “Snips, snails and puppy-dogs’ tails” with “sugar, spice and all things nice’ being reserved for little girls.

            2. Every day I am glad I am my age. The world seems to going be totally barking mad.

  8. Slow start but eventually lots of satisfying brain fodder. Agree with RD re iffiness of 15a. Needed help with 12d. 11a, 13a and 19d unfortunately all unparsed. No particular Fav (how about you Kath?). Thank you RayT and StephenL.

  9. I think that a rebus-loaded NYT puzzle took the starch out of me before I attempted this witty and often-brilliant Ray T gem. I struggled quite a bit to finish but ‘deed I did, albeit in **** time. Needed SL’s help in parsing 13a. I did know 12d (a NYT fave) but convinced myself that ‘get behind’ = ‘back’ in 16d (before the penny dropped on ‘spanked’) and couldn’t unthink it for the longest. As a result, 16d is my COTD, if only by default, but 26a runs a close second, with 10a third. Thanks to SL and Ray T. **** / ****

  10. RayT has his own little crossword world and I can’t seem to find my way there. Ah well maybe one day🔓

  11. Like Dave G above me, I found this more difficult to untangle than everyone else. I needed considerable help from SL. It’s not the end of the world. It’s a crossword.

    Thanks to Ray T, Stephen L, and a big Thursday cheer for The Lovely Kath

  12. Another great Ray T puzzle with a few head-scratchers to keep me on my toes (***/****. I liked the two anagrams at 18a and 16d. Off to another hospital appointment in Oxford this afternoon, my husband’s this time. Thanks to SL for the hints and to Ray T.

    1. Nice to see you back. I commented yesterday that I’d missed your posts. Hope the hospital went ok

  13. Both today and yesterday you have printed the answers below the clues. Why? Previously one had always to click on the shaded bar to check the answer. It is a bit pointless looking at the hint when the answer is already there!

    1. Welcome to the blog Mary.
      The solutions are covered for the great majority of people looking at the blog but for some (as yet unknown) reason they appear uncovered for others.

  14. Ray T at his best, I thought, which means I was able to solve it. I don’t know how he manages to keep coming up with clues of 7 words or less. Mind you, I don’t think there was a 7 word clue today with all being six or less. My COTD among many great clues is 8d.

    Many thanks to Ray T for the fun and huge thanks to StephenL for the hints and BOC.

    Great Quickie pun today.

  15. Horses for courses it seems as this one fell right into my lap whereas Tuesday’ offering had me beat with 25% unanswered.
    My first stab at 24a was ligature which I realised would not parse, otherwise very pleased to be on Ray T’s wavelength
    Thanks to Ray and MP

  16. A Ray T puzzle so straightforward even I could solve it! Albeit with computerized-assistance for anagrams and matching checking letters, but that’s still way better than I’ve historically managed with this setter’s challenges.

    Thank you to Stephen L for explaining the ones I hadn’t fully worked out — including 13A, which there’s no way I’d’ve got.

    Lots of clues marked as potential favourites. I think I’ll go for the neighbour-grabbing 23D for its mental picture. Thank you to Ray and the commenters, and hello to Kath.

  17. Completed prior to an appointment with the chiropodist – one of the few ‘medical’ people I seem to be able to contact since the advent of Covid.
    Took a while for the proverbial penny to drop where 13a was concerned so that gets my vote today with a mention for the Quickie pun.

    Devotions as ever to Mr T, thanks to Stephen for the review and a big shout out to Kath.

  18. George said H——-E straight away for 13a ( he has these occasional flashes of genius) but I discounted it as I could not parse it until I read StephenL’s hints. He also got 13d so he has earned his keep today. 1a went in immediately and from then on apart from 13a it was no great 13a and 25d was my last one in. I thought 22a was a nice way to clue an old chestnut and I put daisies by 24a,29a and 8 & 12d. Greetings to Thursday Kath and thanks as ever to RayT and Stephen. Optician this afternoon, new tinted glasses to take to Cornwall to see the sea!

  19. once again the answers are shown. The third time this has happened. Bit annoying really.

  20. Ray T like Dada is becoming a two thirds finished puzzle with hints thankfully used. At least things are getting better as I now keep all my toys in the pram.

    Many thanks to SL&RT. I liked the anagram at 26a and the clever 2d.

  21. A clement puzzle from Ray T with great clues providing an enjoyable solve. Fav: 13a. 2*/3.5*.

  22. Got to love a RayT challenge and this didn’t disappoint.
    My one question mark is 9a which doesn’t quite work for me. If “one” and “the” both need to be in French then surely they both need to be reversed (rejected), which doesn’t work for the answer?
    Thanks to all

    1. GJR, I agree with you regarding 9a … there is no indication that “un” is a French “one”.

      No-one else has complained so I presume we are both missing something?

      Thanks to RayT & StephenL.

      1. As it happens this was the clue that caused me the most trouble when writing the blog. I thought at the time that it didn’t quite work but my hint was the only plausible explanation I could come up with.

        1. “un” or “‘un” is a dialect term for one, as in “He’s a good ‘un”.

          1. Thanks Gazza, I’ll take that as an explanation. Sneaky though, as Stephen L says

  23. Found this an enjoyable and benign offering from the mighty Mr T today, a quick solve during a late lunch of cheese & biscuits which was evidently my perfect brain fodder. 13a’s PDM made it my COTD, with 23a the runner-up.

    1.5* / 3*

    Many thanks to MrT and to SL.

    Other: Merusa said something yesterday about looking up a word to confirm the spelling “breaking the rules”, with Daisygirl reassuring her with MP’s frequent refrain that “the rule is that there are no rules.” I’m with DG & MP on this, and my view is what’s the point and where’s the pleasure in treating crosswords as puzzles from which you can never learn?

    Unless a puzzle is to be solved in a timed competition format, I see nothing wrong in using the BRB (other – inferior, obvs – dictionaries are available), Roget & the like, Bradfords, Atlases, Brewer’s, Mr Google and all other aids when completing crosswords of any type. Whether to confirm a nagging doubt, to verify an answer of which you’ve never heard but which can only be what the masterfully crafted clue results in it being, or to find out what a word in the clue actually means, all’s fair in love and the daily war with our quite ingenious crossword setters, without whom each day would be very lacking!

    1. The rules of completion according to Miffypops
      Rule 1. There are no rules
      Rule 2. See rule one
      There is much satisfaction gained upon completion of a cryptic crossword puzzle whatever your level of competence. Grizzled old campaigners will need little or no help due to their expertise having been gained over many years. Newcomers may be baffled by the simplest of clues.
      A completed grid is a completed grid and I don’t much care howsoever anybody gets there. The more experienced you are the less help you should need.
      Beginners should feel free to use to anything and everything to achieve completion, dictionaries, encyclopaedia, an atlas, books of crossword lists, and of course the internet. I have spent a couple of hours looking with amazement at just how much help is out there on the World Wide Web including this very blog itself.
      Scribble away in the newspaper margins or use a notepad. Make little circles of anagram fodder. Write a succession of dashes, put in your checkers and play with the clues to your hearts content
      Regard these aids as crutches, helping you along. With time and experience and a good memory it should be possible to throw these crutches away little by little as one becomes more proficient. For example, once someone learns to recognise how anagrams work i.e. Indicator, fodder and definition they really ought to stop using the anagram solver and work them out for themselves. One by one the aids should fall away until you sit there pencil-less with a quickly self-completed puzzle and think “Now what shall I do” as you reach for the toughie and contemplate volunteering to review puzzles for Big Dave.
      Happy solving to you all however you do it

      1. Ditto ditto ditto. That is the ultimate description of my crossword solving. To me it is a pleasure, and the pain of difficult days is forgotten in the joy of good ones. A bit like childbirth tho’ you wouldn’t know anything about that MP! Just have fun and stretch your mind.

        1. God gave women childbirth (bearable discomfort) so that women can nearly understand the rigours of Manflu

    2. A little cheeky remark on my part, not intended to be serious. I’m not competing with anyone, perhaps if I were, I’d be more likely not to admit the use of little helpers.

  24. It’s Ray T so this was a struggle today for me. 3.5*/3*
    NW made this a DNF for me without the cheats. Even then I struggled.
    Favourites were 4a, 10a & 14d
    1a was unknown to me and 12d not a common word in my lexicon

    Thanks to Ray T (you beat me today) and StephenL for hints … much needed today

  25. Excellent puzzle from the Master. Lots of clever clues but one really takes the biscuit for me and that’s 6d.
    Probably on his more friendly side and I for one thank him for that.
    Very enjoyable
    Thx to all

  26. I can sometimes complete most of a Ray T puzzle, but not today. Definitely above my pay grade. Yet I did better with yesterday’s **** than this **. I do restrict myself to only looking at the picture hints, so I know I am my own worst enemy. However, the answers often spring to mind later over lunch, so here’s hoping. Thanks to Ray T and StephenL.

  27. Ugh. A personal worst today. Obviously the problem is at my end, given the consensus. So I am very grateful to SL for holding my hand through a grid fuller of holes than my alibi for that lockdown fish & chips on the beach with the kin. For which I shall resign if issued with a FPN.
    Thank you RayT. Will try harder.

  28. A smooth and enjoyable solve to completion without any hiccups.
    12d, a new word for me, could only be, perhaps, what the clue indicated.
    Top prizes to 10a and 11a.
    Many thanks Ray T and Stephen L.

  29. Hello everyone,
    Not too difficult today although I did have a bit of trouble, mainly in the bottom half.
    14d took a while to sort it out – I suppose we’re not focused on the answer but on somewhere else – obviously.
    27a was my last answer – just couldn’t see it – dim!
    I particularly appreciated 10 and 24a.
    Thanks to Ray T and to StephenL.

  30. Usual high standard from Ray T. Found it more difficult than did most, very satisfying to complete.
    Thanks to all.

  31. Late to the party. Apologies. But, crikey, it’s all so subjective isn’t it? This wasn’t two stars for me. More to my shame. More like ten! Got there in the end. But then four stars wasn’t four for me yesterday. Went through that like a spoon. I still think 12D was a stinker though. Yes, the parsing made it fairly easy. But crikey, that was hard for me. Some days you feel smart, others you feel really thick! Thick day for me clearly. Careen? Tsk.. Thank God for dictionaries, eh?! Huge plaudits to you all.

  32. Thanks to Ray T and to Stephen L for the review and hints. Super puzzle, not too tricky. My LOI was 13a, needed the hints to parse it. Favourite was 2d. Was 2* /3* for me.

  33. Evening all. As always, my thanks to StephenL for the hints, and to everybody else who left a comment.


    1. Good evening, Mr T and thank you for another excellent puzzle. Hope you’re in the frame for one of the puzzles during the jubilee celebrations – I think you owe something to HM when she’s been so useful to you in your compilations!

  34. Early solve late post as out all day playing golf. Trickiest back pager of the week so far that just took me to *** time. Both 12&16d arrived at from the wordplay & required checking. I wondered about the one at 9a (thanks Gazza) & wasn’t anywhere close to parsing 13a which was last in. 26a clear favourite for me.
    Thanks to Ray T for a typically enjoyable puzzle & to Stephen.

  35. I must be regressing, I couldn’t handle this at all. Must be having an off day.
    Thanks RayT, I can’t keep my eyes open, and you StephenL for unraveling that lot!

  36. Why have all the answers been shown instead of the usual method of choice. This is the 3rd time.

  37. I am another who consulted a dictionary for 12d post solve but 13a needed all the hint to get there. I totally agree with Miffs, all is fair if it gets you across the line. As the most recent blogger to pick up a puzzle and have a go I use all the dictionaries thesauri and other aides I can lay my hands on to create a full grid. Talking of the Sunday Toughie I have just realised I have signed up to a Speed Awareness Course on Sunday 5th June 😳🤯🚙🏎️
    The blog may be a bit perfunctory that day as I will be being lectured about the sins of driving at 36 mph between the hours of 10 am til 1pm.
    I am looking forward to meeting again next year and have already saved the date of Elgar’s birthday bash in York as well. I hope to see some of you at either or both.

    Thanks to RayT and Stephen l for a great puzzle. Has anyone worked out when DT 30,000 hits the newsstand?

    1. By my reckoning it should be Monday 30th May but I may have miscalculated.

  38. Having redeemed myself from a poor start to the week I rather fell off my perch this evening and made heavy weather of this. All parsed except for 9a, I got there in the end. Favourite was 6d. Thanks to Rayt and SL.

  39. liked 1D “Idiots and cronies seizing power (6)”
    & the picture in the hint thereto.

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