DT 29987 (Hints) – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
View closed comments 

DT 29987 (Hints)

Daily Telegraph Cryptic No 29987 Hints)

The Saturday Crossword Club (hosted by Tilsit)

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

Greetings from Warrington and thanks to Senf for stepping in at short notice for the last two weeks.

As I am shortly to have some surgery, I had to go to the hospital last Saturday afternoon after work for a COVID Test for this week’s pre-op procedures. The next morning I received the results that I had tested positive for the second time in five weeks. Apparently the virus lies within for up to 90 days and can reappear at any time. Back to isolation again! However today will be the first day out after testing negative again. Spending two years avoiding the wretched disease, and now the possibility of having to change my life at the drop of a hat or the line of a test is not my idea of fun for the next three months.

Anyway, back to the matter in hand. Just 13 puzzles to the big 30000! I suspect today’s puzzle has the pawprints of Cephas all over it. We have a pangram, and this was definitely on the gentler side of things. It was a bit of an oddity, as I virtually put the across answers in from top to bottom in order, only to have to revisit one answer (more later) when I tackled the down answers.

Thank you to our esteemed setter for the fun today and I hope to be back next Saturday. If you are looking for alternative cruciverbal fun, you can find a very enjoyable Guardian puzzle from Imogen and our Toughie setter Robyn on duty in the FT in one of his pirate guises. Both are worth tackling. See you soon.

As is usual for the weekend prize crosswords, an assortment of clues, including some of the more difficult ones, have been selected and hints provided for them.

Most of the terms used in these hints are explained in the Glossary and examples are available by clicking on the entry under “See also”. Where the hint describes a construct as “usual” this means that more help can be found in The Usual Suspects, which gives a number of the elements commonly used in the wordplay. Another useful page is Wolves in Sheep’s Clothing, which features words with meanings that are not always immediately obvious.

A full review of this puzzle will be published after the closing date for submissions.

Some hints follow.


4    A sheep heard in metropolis? Disaster! (8)
Let’s start with A, plus a word that sounds like a young sheep inside the name for a metropolis.

8    Muslim official, namely one with queen (6)
One of the older three-letter abbreviations that means namely. I’ll save the reviewer a job. It’s a corruption of the Latin word ‘videlicet’, which itself is a corruption of the Latin phrase ‘videre licet’, meaning it is permitted to see. I’ll test you on this later.

Add to the abbreviation the numeral for one and the abbreviation for the Queen. You’ll end up with an official that frequently appears in the Arabian Nights tales.

12    Let out by a tenant (8)
Thinking what a clever clue this was, and how I’d got it so quickly. I wrote in my answer, and then when I wrote in 1 down, I realised I’d put the wrong one in! The answer is a similar word, and the idiom of the clue is similar. It’s an all-in-one definition that’s also cryptic, so if a tenant decided to rent out their abode, what would they be doing?

13    Cheap way to live without tears (4-4)
Two definitions, one is probably why our 12 across tenant is doing what they are doing, and a phrase that means it has no tears, but not in the sense of weeping.

19    Depressing part of music (8)
A word that means depressing as well as a way of playing music in a similar manner.

21    Island it follows is for one living in solitude (6)
You’ll need the name of one of the smaller Channel Islands, followed by IT.

25    To step back in part of Oxford? (6)
Clever clue. Don’t go looking in your A-Z for a district of the city. Instead look in a fashion magazine for what an Oxford could be. After TO, the reverse of a word meaning a step is reversed, and there you have it!

26    Bypass road used by aircraft! (8)
There’s me thinking Cephas was giving us a helpful new technical term used in flying. It’s not! You need a word meaning to bypass something followed by a word for a road. This gives you a type of aircraft that doesn’t have wheels. Just realised that if you put an invisible break in after the third letter, all is properly revealed. Duh! This is why he’s a master crossword setter and I’m not!


1    Mother has short skirt, it’s the very least (7)
A word for a short skirt and a word for your parent.

2    I felt unwell almost at first in entertainments after dark (9)
A word meaning almost goes before an anagram (unwell) of I FELT.

4    Precise reference that’s given at start of lesson (7,3,5)
This took me a while to think through, even with most of the crossers in. When an explanation is given, a precise one is said to be this. It is also what’s given before the reading of a lesson in a church service

6    Deserve an order (5)
Quiz time! What connects all the people in this photo? There are only ever 24 members of a special group. The name of the group is a word meaning ‘deserve’. At the moment, there are just nineteen, due to bereavements, and sadly the most notable and longest-serving member left us last year. Answers below.

14    Renovated last of land after fighting bushfire (9)
An anagram of BUSHFIRE followed by the last letter of LAND.

15    Winner, independent taking a state (8)
The name of a state, not one in the US, though. A word for a winner, followed by the abbreviation for Independent plus (taking)  A (from the clue)

18    Just means it’s part of the course (7)
A word meaning just and one meaning the means of doing something gives you something found on a sporting course.

22    Swot with drinking vessel raised (3,2)
A phrase meaning to revise a subject is a word for a drinking vessel that could be held in the air.

Thanks to Cephas (if it is he of course!) and our Mysteron impersonator of the great man if not! The answer to the little quiz can be found here: https://tinyl.io/6F8u

Could new readers please read the Welcome post and the FAQ before posting comments or asking questions about the site.

As this is a Prize crossword, please don’t put any ANSWERS, whether WHOLE, PARTIAL or INCORRECT, or any ALTERNATIVE CLUES in your comment. If in doubt, leave it out!

Please read these instructions carefully – they are not subject to debate or discussion. Offending comments may be redacted or, in extreme cases, deleted. In all cases the administrator’s decision is final.

If you don’t understand, or don’t wish to comply with, the conventions for commenting on weekend prize puzzles then save yourself (and me) a lot of trouble and don’t leave a comment.

The Quick Crossword pun: SOULS + BERRY + PLANE = SALISBURY PLAIN

Music today is something nice and uplifting from two masters of their art. Sadly I can’t find them performing.



39 comments on “DT 29987 (Hints)

  1. A couple of clues had me running all over the place. These were 12a and 14d. In 12a, I took let out to mean “to free” and that caused all kinds of problems. I did a similar thing with 14d but can say nothing more because of the naughty step. I had not heard of 26a but it could be nothing else given the clue. I did like 4a and thought the lurker was terrific but I have no COTD.

    Many thanks to the setter for the fun. Thank you, Tilsit for the hints.

    It looks set to be a lovely warm day here in The Marches so lots to do in the garden with plenty of iced water standing by.

  2. A quick solve for me, after getting 4D straight away, which crosses with most of the across clues. I didn’t even get stuck for long enough to consider that it was a pangram.

    I’ll go for 4A as my favourite — because it reads like the plot of a Shaun the Sheep movie. Thank you to Cephas (surely) and Tilsit.

    A few clues where I thought the wordplay was a bit overlappy with the definition, but I won’t say any more till Friday. And I (and Lexico, for what it’s worth) quibble with Tilsit’s second definition of 19A.

  3. I rather enjoyed this and although on balance I agree that Cephas is the likely suspect, the winter sports references made me consider Chalicea.
    I did like 4d for “reasons” the naughty step precludes me from saying more. Thanks to Tilsit and setter

  4. Not as tricky as most Saturdays but very enjoyable. My fav was 25a, thought 12a a poor clue and didn’t fully understand 26a, seems a odd word.
    Many thanks to the setter and for the hints.
    Now to see if I can maintain my 100% in Wordle😀

    1. Read Tilsit’s explanation Brian and it all makes sense, I too thought it was an odd word at first

  5. I enjoyed this one. As Brian says, not as tricky as many Saturday puzzles.

    No time to dawdle – off to Wembley for the FA Cup Final (due to ‘flu, this is my first time out of the house for sixteen days!).
    C’mon Chelsea!

    Thanks to the setter and Tilsit.

  6. Both the Channel Island and part of Oxford seem to be in vogue this week. Straightforward solve except 8a where I resorted to the pangram. Thanks to today’s setter and Tilsit.

  7. On top of the Downs early this morning, hazy views for miles and not a whisper of wind. Whereas this fun-filled puzzle was a breeze. I loved 24 & 26a, 4d. LOI 12a, looking for more guile in the surface than was necessary. Thanks setter and Tilsit.

    Terence I’m very envious, the atmosphere along Wembley Way is wonderful but my team’s not going back there any time soon.

  8. A gentle start to the weekend – 4D & everything E completed first, and then attentions to the W. Smiled at the coincidental recurrence of both the Channel Island and Oxford clues, albeit moving from the inside pages to the “back”. Solid pangram with my COTD to 4d.

    1.5* / 2.5*

    Many thanks to the Setter and to Tilsit.

  9. Our setter applying a light touch I thought although I was grateful for the pangram reminder to give me a nudge on the Muslim official.
    4d probably my favourite.

    Thanks to Cepha and to Tilsit for the hints.

  10. Except for, perhaps, 12a, a straightforward and enjoyable pangram so the fickle finger of fate definitely points towards Cephas as our setter.

    Candidates for favourite – 25a, 1d, and 18d – and the winner is 1d (it must be an Oldie but Goodie by now).

    Thanks to Cephas and Tilsit.

  11. 1.5*/4*. This was a light but fun pangram which provided an enjoyable start to the day.

    I found 12a a bit weak, and wasn’t sure about the word order for 1d unless mother has got her skirt over her head!

    Many thanks to presumably Cephas and also to Tilsit, with commiserations for your health issues.

    PS. I don’t normally comment on Wordle, but I got very lucky today by getting it in 2. I then failed completely with Canuckle with what seems to be a bit of a non-word. Some Googling suggests the answer will be familiar to Canadians, which I guess makes it OK as it’s a Canadian app!

    1. My musical Canadian grandson had heard of it but even he wasn’t that knowledgeable. I got it at the last gasp as it was the only letter I had left over!

  12. Very enjoyable – like Jonners the realisation that it was a pangram gave me the key to 8a, so feeling quite smug about that.
    Favourite was 4a.
    Thanks to Tilsit and the setter

  13. It felt like a Cephas puzzle and was just as enjoyable as they usually are. It had a few headscratchers but the Muslim official came to mind fairly quickly, a great clue. I spent a few fruitless minutes cudgelling my brain in the part of Oxford and winter aports clues before the penny dropped, another pair of excellent clues. Thanks to Cephas and to Tilsit for the hints.

  14. No sweat today but plenty of lighter moments. SE last to fall not helped by delay in penny dropping for 25a whilst I tried to work around The High! Took a while also to bring 8a to mind. Joint Favs for me were 13a and 4d. TVM Cephas and Tilsit to whom very best wishes for delivery from your various troubles.

  15. Was on the lookout almost from the get-go for a pangram with my answer for 8a.
    Overall, I greatly enjoyed this puzzle on Friday evening as the sun finally came out, after we were hailed on for about 15 minutes at 11am.
    I even managed to cut the lawn at 5pm after the sun shone most of the afternoon! Likely more rain tomorrow according to the forecast.
    Anyway, I rate this 2*/4*
    Clues to like include 4a, 10a, 21a, 26a & 22d with winner 4a
    17d was a great lurker too
    Lots of smiles in this one … like 11a, 1d, 4d & 18d
    A great puzzle to start the weekend.

    Thanks to Cephas and Tilsit

  16. Enjoyed this but thought 12a a bit weak. Rather annoyed as my Quordle run was up to about 12 and then, today, they had zeroed it so have to start again. Sorry to hear of your ordeal Tilsit, I had no idea it could remain dormant for so long. I will attempt to attach a picture of a bird’s nest which is quite beautiful and all mossy. I would be grateful if someone could identify it. It’s about 5 ft up in a pear tree and the aperture is less than an inch across so it must be a very tiny bird. Thanks

      1. Thank you so much – yes it looks like a wren’s winter nest, which would make sense as we haven’t seen any activity round it.

        1. I don’t think they nest in Winter. It could be last years, or something may have happened to the birds since they built the nest. Seems my post caused your pic to disappear!!! And then it reappeared!

          1. Male wrens make several nests; the hen inspects them and chooses the one she likes most.

  17. I enjoy the Saturday crossword most weekends as I can usually finish it and this was no exception. Plenty of clues to like, 1, 13, and 25a, 4, 17,and 18d.

    Thanks to Tilsit, enjoy your weekend at home but hope all is well in the future. Thanks to the setter whoever it may be for continuing my enjoyable Saturdays.

  18. Very enjoyable pangram, which of course I failed to detect when solving. 25a, which caught me out the other day, was one of my first ones in last night. So there! I especially liked 26a, which took me a second to deconstruct, 4a, & 4d, which is my COTD. Thanks to Tilsit (all the best to you, sir!) and Cephas. ** / ***

    My copy of the latest Mick Herron in the Slow Horses series, Bad Actors, has arrived!

  19. A really enjoyable start to the weekend with only a couple of holdups. I don’t think I’ve ever read Arabian Nights, so needed the hint for 8a. Thanks to Cephas and Tilsit.
    So very sorry to hear about your health problems Tilsit. Getting that positive test must have been a real downer, especially pre-surgery. I do hope you get back on track soon.

  20. Every good wish for your forthcoming surgery, Tilsit; and many thanks for all your helpful reviews in what sounds to be a very busy life.

  21. Didn’t like 12a, couldn’t see that it was cryptic at all. Favourite was 2d. Thanks to the street and Tilsit.

  22. Light and enjoyable nevertheless.
    Constructed 26a, a new word for me.
    12a held me up until the proverbial penny.
    Many thanks to the setter and Tilsit.

  23. Very enjoyable puzzle today. Needed Tilsit’s hint for 15d as I could not get a plant that fits the checkers out of my head. Knew it was wrong but it wouldn’t budge.
    Thanks to the setter and to Tilsit. Sorry you are having such ongoing health troubles, hope it all comes good very soon.

    Enjoying a visit to our son in Norway taking in Norwegian National Day on Tuesday….if you visit, it is the day to come. Everyone is in national costume, even babies, flags are flying, bunting is out, there are parades and everybody is very very happy.

  24. A late solve & possibly due to the distraction of extra time & penalties in the football I totally missed the pangram. 4a&d my picks in a pleasant puzzle.
    Thanks to Cephas & Tilsit.

  25. Superb fun – thanks to the setter and Tilsit – all the clues were difficult and easy at the same time ! Just what we like !

  26. Thank you for your kind comments. Apologies for being so late, we have just been on charter train from Norwich to Windsor, five hours there, five hours at Windsor and five hours back. We are both exhausted.

    1. Thanks to you. A sleepless interlude in the night saw me solving in record quick time for me but enjoying the clues énormément! (Sorry, my phone predicted text does French and English)

  27. Really enjoyed this one, top half completed yesterday morning, plus some of the lower half and more later; the few remaining finished this morning.

    Thank you, Tilsit, for the clues of which I needed four, and thank you to the setter – more like that, please!

  28. Perhaps not the correct pictorial clue for 25a … a lovely clue I thought.
    Couldn’t quite see how 12a was cryptic, but thoroughly enjoyed it this week – and, for once, didn’t need that much help!
    Thank you everyone for everything!

Comments are closed.