DT 29986 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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DT 29986

Daily Telegraph Cryptic No 29986

Hints and tips by Deep Threat

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BD Rating – Difficulty ***Enjoyment ***

Good morning from South Staffs. I have other commitments today, so no pictures or music for you.

I thought this was a fairly typical Friday puzzle. It took me well into *** time, but that may have been because I was very tired when solving it last night.

In the hints below, the definitions are underlined. The answers are hidden under the ANSWER buttons, so don’t click if you don’t want to see them.

Please leave a comment telling us what you thought.


1a           Crotchety sleeper perhaps welcoming kip (6)
SNAPPY – A sleeper in this context is a secret agent. Wrap another word for a secret agent around a short sleep

4a           Bang on about retired cleric (8)
ACCURATE – Reverse (retired) the Latin abbreviation for ‘about’ or ‘concerning’, then add a holder of clerical office.

10a         Plate on half of armour showing stain (9)
DISHONOUR Put together another word for a plate, ON (from the clue) and half of the word ‘armour’.

11a         Daughter sent back inferior sink (5)
DROOP – An abbreviation for Daughter, followed by the reverse (sent back) of a word for ‘inferior’.

12a         Setting competition with ten entered for Sweden (7)
CONTEXT – Start with a word for a competition, then replace the IVR code for Sweden with the Roman numeral for ten.

13a         Bird collecting article from another planet (7)
MARTIAN – A bird in the swallow family, wrapped round an indefinite article.

14a         Rook with slippery fish totters (5)
REELS – The chess notation for a Rook, followed by some famously slippery fish.

15a         Presumably nothing left in safe (3,5)
ALL RIGHT – If there’s nothing on the left, everything must be …

18a         Oscar received by actress cast as philosopher (8)
SOCRATES – Anagram (cast) of ACTRESS, with the letter represented by Oscar in the NATO alphabet inserted.

20a         Budge seal restricting opening of noodles (5)
SHUNT – A word for ‘seal’ or ‘close’ wrapped round the first letter (opening) of Noodles.

23a         One’s uncertain state after whiskey? I’m uncertain! (7)
WAVERER – Put together the letter represented by Whiskey in the NATO alphabet, another verb for ‘state’, and an expression of uncertainty in speech.

25a         Fan making return visit had totally uncovered country (7)
TUNISIA – Reverse (making return) a fan or enthusiast, then add the inside letters (totally uncovered) of (v)ISI(t) (h)A(d).

26a         Praise and kiss a soldier on base (5)
EXALT – Put together a logarithmic base, the letter used to indicate a kiss, A (from the clue) and an abbreviated military rank.

27a         Camel roamed dry ground (9)
DROMEDARY – Anagram (ground) of ROAMED DRY

28a         Reviewed religious subject is to include earnest faster (8)
SPEEDIER – Put together the abbreviation used for religious studies in school, and IS (from the clue) wrapped round another word for ‘earnest’ or ‘serious’. Then reverse (reviewed) the result.

29a         Church official taking characters from Essex to Norfolk (6)
SEXTON – Hidden in the clue.


1d           As cider’s drunk, making cocktails (8)
SIDECARS – Anagram (drunk) of AS CIDER’S.

2d           Lack of muscles means crew regularly lost (7)
ABSENCE– A shortened form of the name of a set of muscles, followed by alternate letters (regularly lost) of mEaNs CrEw.

3d           Academic expert following fuel company heading for renewables (9)
PROFESSOR – Put together a word for an expert or non-amateur, the abbreviation for Following, the UK name of an international oil company, and the first letter of Renewables.

5d           Rate main social works for Browning (14)

6d           Short of a French wine to serve up (5)
UNDER – The French for ‘a’ followed by the reverse (serve up) of a colour of wine.

7d           Axe having a second-rate shine, needing head scrubbed (7)
ABOLISH – Put together A (from the clue), the letter which indicates ‘second-rate’, and a verb for ‘to shine’ minus its first letter (needing head scrubbed).

8d           Elaborate finishes on the onyx container with diamonds (6)
EXPAND – Put together the final letters (finishes) of thE and onyX, a container or cooking utensil, and the abbreviation for Diamonds in a pack of cards.

9d           Cross after draw in card game (8,6)
CONTRACT BRIDGE – Another word for ‘draw in’, followed by a verb for ‘cross (a river, perhaps)’.

16d         False one, screen in plastic (9)
INSINCERE – The Roman numeral for one, followed by an anagram (plastic) of SCREEN IN.

17d         Calm down relative consuming drink both ends of day (6,2)
STEADY ON – A male relative wrapped round a typical British drink and the outside letters (both ends) of DaY.

19d         Prevent bad smell coming up through hollow tube (7)
OBVIATE – Reverse (coming up) the two-letter acronym for the sort of bad smell your best friend couldn’t mention, the Latin for ‘through’ or ‘by way of’, and the outside letters (hollow) of TubE.

21d         Social climber put off hosting celebrity (7)
UPSTART – Anagram (off) of PUT, wrapped round a celebrity.

22d         Third of zoos with permits for young birds (6)
OWLETS – Put together the third letter of zoOs, an abbreviation for ‘with’, and a verb for ‘permits’.

24d         Measured temperature in beloved person rising (5)
RATED – Reverse (rising) the term which may be used in addressing a beloved person, then insert Temperature.

We’re off on holiday to France next week, for the first time in three years. I haven’t yet heard from BD whether he has a substitute available, or whether I shall be blogging from French campsites.

The Quick Crossword pun ABBA + WRIST + WITH = ABERYSTWYTH

68 comments on “DT 29986

  1. I really enjoyed today’s offering. Just the right amount of head scratching required. I have a couple of bung ins that need to be checked but, otherwise, it all fell into place at a steady pace. I always think that getting the first one across is a good omen and today it proved to be so. I managed quite a few on the first pass. I loved the anagram at 5d although I needed a lot of checkers before it succumbed.

    My COTD is 25a.

    Many thanks to the setter for the challenging fun. Thank you to DT for the hints.

  2. Three excellent back pagers on the bounce, this the pick of them, from I presume The X man, one of my top setters.
    12a was my favourite and for me the perfect clue where the solution is in a completely different 12a to the definition so the difficulty coming from cunning wordplay and misdirection only. I also liked a whole host of others, 2,5&19d to name but a few.
    Great stuff.
    Many thanks to ProXimal and DT

  3. 2*/5*. This provided an extremely enjoyable end to the week’s back-pagers, with only 28a, my last one in, holding me up. There were too many excellent clues to pick a single favourite or even a podium selection.

    The 4Xs confirmed my suspicion of the setter’s identity, so many thanks to proXimal and to DT.

  4. A tricky little number, oh well, it is Friday. Enjoyable solve with a few headscratchers but no probs with parsings after the event. Thanks Setter, and DT; Friday Toughie looms!

  5. A typically tricky Friday puzzle, which I enjoyed a lot. I liked the geographical clue at 25a, which was well-hidden, the long anagram T 5d and 1a for its clever misdirection. 18a was also clever and reminded me of happy days at Oxford University Adult Ed classes, reading Plato’s books on the philosopher’s ideas. Thanks to the compiler and to DT for the hints.

  6. Mirroring RD, it was just 28a that held me up in this elegant puzzle from Mr 4X.
    It would be disingenuous to play favourites but 12a & 8d were definitely amongst the best.

    Many thanks to proXimal and to DT for the review – hope you enjoy your long-awaited return visit to France.

  7. Fittingly, the puzzle of the week for me, a really enjoyable, steady solve to cap off a terrific week. Although I didn’t find Paracelsusian (or some variation thereof) for Robert Browning, I must award the Clarkie to 5d as the COTD, with other honours going to 12a, 28a, 19d, & (for Chriscross especially) 25a. Thanks to DT and today’s setter, who would appear to be proXimal. 2.5* / 5*

  8. An almost perfect puzzle spoiled by the three letter “anagram”, swap the first two to create a non-word, as part of 21d; a topic covered very well by our esteemed editor in this week’s newsletter. Now, 5d that was an anagram par excellence. 2.5*/4.5*

    Candidates for favourite – 4a, 2d, and the OBG 19d – and the winner is 2d.

    Thanks to proXimal, for, with an X in each quadrant, it has to be he, and DT.

  9. A proper Friday puzzle, as others state, quite a bit of head scratching required, last in was 23a and the surface makes it my favourite followed by18a.
    Needed a few checking letters to fathom out 5d-there is an alternative spelling with z for s which only became clear when our philosopher appeared.
    Thanks to setter and DT, going for a ***/****

  10. Perfect Friday fodder this **/**** ending as others have said a nice trio of puzzles. COTD for me was 12a but there were many other contenders. With thanks to the setter and DT.

  11. Cracking puzzle, and having entered the firsrt half-dozen across clues I proceeded at a ripping pace in an AC direction before stumbling to a halt in the NE, where I realised I had quite the wrong answer for 4a (although it parsed nicely: “bang on” = preach, “about retired” = er, cleric = preacher). Resolving that mix-up took this into 2* time, but what a super end of week backpager. Great surfaces, all eminently fair, good red herrings.

    Ticks all over the shop – 18a, 25a, 26a, 2d, 6d among them, with COTD 8d.

    2* / 4*

    Many thanks indeed to the setter and to DT

  12. Another bamboozler of a puzzle which was just about complete in the west but the east was as empty as a stand at a women’s football match. Nul points I am afraid for the setter but cinq points for DT as he did as good a job as possible with what he had to do.

    Will be steering clear of Aunty tomorrow night with Graham Norton hosting the annual show for children and those who wish they weren’t adults.

    1. “As empty as a stand at a woman’s football match” 😀. I steer clear of Auntie most nights and resent having to pay a fee to do so.

      1. We haven’t looked at Auntie for over a year nor listened to her radio output. Resent the fee? Yes.

        1. The strange thing is that the BBC will not allow people overseas to buy a license and watch the programs. If they permitted this, their audience would increase greatly, and the fee could probably be at least halved. Even Brits who live partly in the UK and partly overseas, and who pay for a license in the UK, cannot watch while out of the country. Makes no sense.

          1. This would turn the BBC into a subscription service just like any other, and the fee would no longer be compulsory for British households. So, just like Netflix and Amazon, it would have to start chasing ratings across the world. Less-popular educational programming would be dropped, British-centric things would be made more US-centric, and corporate sponsors would appear everywhere. I personally don’t want to watch Question Time Sponsored By Wal-Mart, featuring American celebrities on the panel and Sharon Stone as host.

      2. I regard the licence fee as being my payment to the BBC for BBC Sounds, Radio 4 and Radio 4 Extra (and that for those alone it is excellent value), with the television channels, website and iPlayer being incidental gewgaws!

      3. Why is sport on the beeb always classed as “free to air”. £179 annually! I think not.

  13. Thoroughly enjoyable although I had to wait for the hints to see how I got there for several so thanks DT. Also to the setter for the fun. I thought 5d was excellent and my COTD. Just bought half a lobster a large crab and half a pint of prawns for lunch for us – bargain at just over a tenner.

    1. Ooh! Yes please. I’m trying to find a date in August to visit for a few days

  14. A tremendous Xword from Roger Bartlett 👏

    For those that don’t know the difference between 27a and its angrier, humpier chum….

    27a’s sole hump on its side is a D for its initial letter and its pal’s two humps are B for Bactrian

      1. Indeed, thanks RD. Possible confusion with Notabilis or Rufus, but either comparison fine by me!

      2. Ah ha!

        Surely it can’t be a coincidence that I was referring to Richard Attenborough’s character ‘Big X’ (Richard Bartlett) in the truly superb film The Great Escape.

        Tell all, Proxy. Is having the same surname a coincidence?

        If it is then what are the chances???

        1. Except that ‘Roger Bartlett’ in ‘The Great Escape’ was a fictional character based on a Roger Bushell and his escape exploits.

          1. Top knowledge, Senf!

            It was just a quick nod to the film’s Big X and this blog’s Big X, ie Mr 4X or should that be…..Castlemaine.

  15. 4a. The Latin abbreviation is for about (estimate of date or number) not “concerning”.
    25a. Is “totally really necessary?

    1. Re 25a, I would say not, but house style is that when more than one word needs uncovering, it needs a further indication.

  16. Tricky for me, and like Manders I wasn’t sure how I got to some of them until reading DT’s splendid hints.

    ‘Silence is the perfectest herald of joy’
    When I was younger I couldn’t concentrate on anything without music to accompany my thought processes. These days, I enjoy silence with only the occasional murmur, or gentle snore, from the snoozing Lola to symphonious with my crossword endeavours.

    Thanks to the setter and Threat Of The Deep.

  17. Me too. Even the evening news broadcasts have deteriorated to the point where I cannot be bothered to watch.

  18. This one didn’t really rock my boat as I found the clues and parsing on the trickier to impossible to solve side. My rating 3*/2.5*
    Favourites include 1a, 4a, 20a & 17d
    proXimal for setter is my guess with the 4X’s in each quadrant
    Nonetheless …

    Thanks to proXimal and DT

    No matter the satisfaction with the puzzle, I would rather have one, than none at all.
    Can’t make everyone happy every day!
    My hat is off to all the setters in what has to be a thankless task so many times.

    1. I would love to know if you built the whole crossword round 5d it was such lovely misdirection and well worked anagram!

      1. No, I chose the entry with the definition in mind, but the anagram came later.

  19. Phew that required much brain-racking (or is it wracking) but I did enjoy every minute of the exercise 🥵👍🙂. SW put up the most resistance. So many good clues from which I would top-list 15a, 7d and 9d. Many thanks indeed Proximal (?) and DT.

  20. Usual tricky Friday but I really enjoyed this as most clues made sense and the other two gave a definition I could follow.
    My favs were 5d, 2d and especially 13a.
    Thx to all

  21. Has the problem of the revealed answers gone away for everyone but me? If so, how did they solve it?

    1. I spoke to Big Dave about this and it’s quite a complicated business setting spoilers in WordPress. I believe our resident WordPress wizard Mr Kitty is looking into the problem

        1. Missing avatars … uncovered hints …maybe a little tweak of the software will resolve both problems?

          1. It just seems so strange that this problem should suddenly rear its ugly head. I hope our cat loving Mr Kitty can solve it.

  22. A great end to a great week. Many thanks to DT – I hope you manage to have an uninterrupted holiday in France, I envy you. I did wonder at one point if I should be looking for a pangram, but the X’s ruled. 5d a cracker but so was10 & 18a and 2,16&17d. Thank you DT and ProXimal. Strange business being a Trustee, this morning I found myself weeding the garden at the Community Hall whilst paying the pocket rocket to weed my garden😳 Have a good weekend everyone

    1. A typo in your email address ‘brinternet’ sent all three of your messages into moderation :(

      1. Ooops sorry. Too much weeding has made the arthritis in my thumbs flare up!

  23. What an enjoyable grid. The plucky NE put up some resistance but yielded after some fresh air and coffee. COTD 12a and 5d. Thanks to DT and proXimal.

  24. I’ve either struggled with or breezed through the crosswords this week, sometimes on the same day. Today was happily the latter with barely a pause for thought. I don’t understand it. Any road up I really enjoyed this excellent puzzle. Favourite was 12a. Thanks to ProXimal and DT.

  25. Not sure I gave this the attention that it deserved as I didn’t even register (until afterwards) the Xs in each quartile. I’ll blame a particularly early start golfing away & the need for a mid afternoon 💤. No real problems but a distinctly scattergun solve in ***time. 1a & 3d my joint favs. 28a unparsed as yet.
    Thanks proXimal & DT

  26. An excellent puzzle from ProXimal so thanks to him. Thanks also to Peter for the review. Nurse Ninepence and I have just visited Buckfast Abbey and gardens with my sister Sue. St Mawes tomorrow.

    1. Lovely part of the world – enjoy. And thank you for all your helpful comments, especially yesterday’s.

      1. Thank you Jan. I’ve been writing some tips on general solving and may start adding them to my Thursday back page blogs from next Thursday if I remember

    2. MP, I stayed with friends near Buckfast Abbey on three separate occasions (1974, 1990, & 2004) and loved the area. Enjoy your time with Stephen tomorrow and have a great holiday in St Mawes!

  27. Nice and steady today 3/4 went in over a leisurely lunch and the SW corner was mopped up while waiting for Mama Bee to have her hair done. 5d will go into the memory banks, not because of the anagram but the marvelous misdirection that sent me to look up some more poetry.
    Thanks to proXimal and Bonne Vacance to DT.
    Malton Food Festival tomorrow so that’s another bit of winter weight to lose

  28. Thoroughly enjoyed this today despite getting one wrong and needing the hints or answers to parse some clues.

    For some daft reason I put discolour for 10a. I just assumed it was another clue I couldn’t parse. Silly boy!

    26a required an understanding of maths. I googled logarithmic base and the definition might as well have been written in Greek.

    Most satisfying solve was 5d.

    Thanks to all.

  29. In agreement with the majority, I found this required a good deal of head scratching but with a few “bung-ins” I got there in the end (or so I thought) as I fell into the same trap as bananawarp with discolour as stain at 10a. Excellent clueing as usual from Mr. X. Thanks to DT for the explanations. Pleased to see answers correctly covered again!

  30. Just got round to this, but had to pop in and say what a great puzzle I found it. Lovely surfaces in concise clues with everything you need and just enough misdirection to make a (this) chap think. Summed up with the belter at 4a – I’d have loved to have thought of that one.
    Just not sure about 28a, but hey ho :-)

  31. I’m glad there were others who had discolour for 10a, I couldn’t for the life of me see where the plate was but this poor brain didn’t find it.
    Thanks to Proximal and DT some of whose hints I needed.

  32. Ooops — just found this tab still open my laptop from Friday; I must’ve had time to do the crossword but not get round to commenting. Anyway, 5D is a stunning clue — thank you, proXimal. And thank you to Deep Threat and anybody else still reading this …

  33. 3*/3*….
    liked 23A “One’s uncertain state after whiskey? I’m uncertain! (7)”

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