DT 29990 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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DT 29990

Daily Telegraph Cryptic No 29990

Hints and tips by 2Kiwis

BD Rating – Difficulty ** Enjoyment ****

Kia ora from Aotearoa.

On our constitutional earlier this morning, when walking beside the river, we spotted a round full moon dipping towards the western horizon while in the middle distance our resident flock of 17 royal spoonbills were standing to attention on the exposed tidal flats of the estuary. We did not have our phone/cameras with us so afraid you’ll only get our word picture of this magical scene.

We found plenty to enjoy in this typical Wednesday puzzle too.

Please leave a comment telling us how you got on.


1a     Cult leader on drugs quietly tries to get sorted out (4,6)
HIGH PRIEST : A word that can mean under the influence of drugs, then the musical symbol for quietly and an anagram (to get sorted out) of TRIES.

6a     Request that may see enjoyment cut by half? (4)
PLEA : Find an eight letter synonym for enjoyment and remove the second half.

10a     Revolutionary American flag and tree (5)
BALSA : Working from right to left (revolutionary) we have A(merican) and a flag or large paving piece.

11a     Awkward seeing husband lodging in small but poor surroundings (3,6)
ALL THUMBS : An anagram (poor) of SMALL BUT surrounds H(usband).

12a     Sort of plug more suitable after promotion (7)
ADAPTER : A publicity promotion and a word meaning more suitable.

13a     Endure insinuations about controls? (5,2)
REINS IN : A lurker, hiding in the clue.

14a     Coat found by two Europeans (6,6)
FRENCH POLISH : Two nationalities, one from just across the Channel and the other from further east.

18a     Switching vote if course not working (3,2,7)
OUT OF SERVICE : An anagram (switching) of VOTE IF COURSE.

21a     Flyer‘s collapse, having swallowed insect (7)
FANTAIL : Collapse or not achieve contains the insect often clued as soldier or worker.

23a     Women once used these cunning ploys to snare politician (7)
WIMPLES : Member of Parliament is inside cunning ploys.

24a     Stop here essentially for this merchant (9)
STATIONER : A stop, possibly for a train, and then the two central letters (essentially) of ‘here’.

25a     Stone barrier on the west of Alcatraz (5)
AGATE : The first letter (west) of Alcatraz and a barrier that might be at the entrance to a field.

26a     Useless son finds clothes (4)
DUDS : Useless or non-functioning and S(on).

27a     Gave thought to Tory team on the left (10)
CONSIDERED : The three letter abbreviation for the Tory party, then another word for team and the colour associated with the political left.


1d     Part of wheel clamp oddly below centre (3-3)
HUB-CAP : Centre or focal point then the first, third and fifth letters of clamp.

2d     Law must be broken in cheerful port city (6)
GALWAY : A word for for cheerful, that’s not used with this meaning very often these days, surrounds an anagram (must be broken) of LAW.

3d     Material supplied for cast following break (7,2,5)
PLASTER OF PARIS : A cryptic definition.

4d     Quickly seeing one replaced by a name, spellbound (2,1,6)
IN A TRANCE : Start with a 2.1.5 phrase meaning quickly and replace the Roman numeral one with ‘A’ from the clue and N(ame).

5d     Fly high crossing line of the sun (5)
SOLAR : Fly high, possibly like an eagle, contains L(ine).

7d     Blinks, surprised about a medium woollen cloth (8)
LAMBSKIN : ‘A’ from the clue and M(edium) are inside an anagram (surprised) of BLINKS.

8d     Sailor — isn’t he drunk, having drunk this? (8)
ABSINTHE : The letters for an able-bodied seaman and an anagram (drunk) of ISN’T HE.

9d     Orders may be transmitted through this mountain HQ (5,2,7)
CHAIN OF COMMAND : A mountain made of an extended ridge and the chief function of HQ. (Not sure we’ve got this one fully sorted, Any thoughts?)

15d     Dispute rumour accepted by people with wealth (4,5)
HAVE WORDS : Another term for a rumour or suggestion is contained by a colloquial expression for people with wealth.

16d     Baffled and sadly unfocussed with no American (8)
CONFUSED : An anagram (sadly) of UNFOC(us)SED once the abbreviation for American has been removed.

17d     Offer and pay for a case of red that’s average (8)
STANDARD : A word meaning offer and pay for a round of drinks perhaps, then ‘A’ from the clue and the first and last letters (case) of ‘red’.

19d     Star‘s key broadcast (6)
ALTAIR : A computer keyboard key and then broadcast or make public.

20d     Climb when cold and finish (6)
ASCEND : A synonym for ‘when’, then C(old) and finish or complete.

22d     Language used in baffling organisers (5)
LINGO : And another lurker to finish.

Lots of ticks on our pages but we will vote for 11a as favourite.

Quickie pun    core    +    tack    +    old    =    caught a cold

92 comments on “DT 29990

  1. An enjoyable solve but I did have a couple of bung ins that will need to be checked with the hints. One of these days my mind will accept the particular key found in19d. I always go through every other key before that one taps me on the shoulder. It was good to see the word for cheerful used in its original sense rather than what it has come to mean these days. I thought 3d was more GK than cryptic but what do I know?

    Did anyone else say to themselves “makes the heart grow fonder” after writing in 8d?

    As I said, most enjoyable and my COTD is 23a.

    Many thanks to Jay(?) for the fun and to the 2 Ks for the hints, which I will now look at.

    The Quickie pun caused a satisfying groan.

    Wordle in 3, Canuckle in 4 and Waffle with one go left.

    1. Re 3d: if we’re old, have sustained a fracture or have orthopaedic experience, this clue will read ‘straight’. A cast of players on a tea-break is the surface we’re supposed to see I think.

      1. Hi, Granimal Doctor. I somehow read it ‘backwards’, too: “cast” and “break” made me immediately think of broken bones, so I then spent ages trying to think of a theatrical term that would fit for the cryptic meaning!

    2. Wot no quordle, wheeldles or even octordle?! 🙂 Personally I’m in danger of becoming an addict to some of these things – often wait for the new daily one to come out just after midnight!

      1. I like Quordle the best. My current Wordle run is 130 and when ends I will stop Wordling.

      2. My daily schedule:-
        Breakfast time – Wordle
        Mid morning – Quickie & Cryptic
        Mid Afternoon – Toughie (excl Mon,Fri)
        Pre Dinner – Quordle
        After Dinner – Octordle
        Addicted to them all and my schedule 😁

            1. I’m retired, JS but couldn’t fit all those in with all that needs to be done … cooking, washing, cleaning, gardening, dog walking. I was less busy when I was at work! :grin:

              1. Steve
                I know the feeling. Got some very busy days. 😄
                I manage to squeeze in some DIY at my son’s house at the same time.

              2. We love it when our kids (or grandkids) ask “what do you do all day?”. There is a notion out there that being retired means you do absolutely nothing all day. For us, we are amazed that we ever found time to go to work 😊😊.

      3. Angelica, have you tried the Spelling Bee offered at the end of Wordle by The NY Times? I am fast getting addicted to that.

  2. Thanks 2Ks and our generous setter. I agree with **/****. Aside from having to bung in the feathered friend at 21a, easy enough from the word-play, there were no frowns, only smiles today. CsOTD 11 & 23a

  3. Some tricky cluing today ,mainly the SE quarter and especially 19d which supplied the D’ oh moment and was my favourite.
    Took a while parsing13a to say the least!
    Followed SC with the ‘heart grow fonder’ on a similar theme, did anyone remember ‘The Barrats of Wimpole Street’ when I twigged 23a ?
    Anyway really enjoyed the solve, thanks to our setter and 2K.’s, going for a ***/****

  4. Nothing too obtuse today so managed to work my way through reasonably smoothly. 26a new to me and also 19d I think. 4d was Bunged in as not fully parsed. Thank you Mysteron and 2Kiwis.

  5. Light, friendly and enjoyable – my favourite was 23a. Thanks to the setter and the 2Ks

    How lovely to see royal spoonbills – Jane will be very jealous. I’ve just added a bird song recognition app on my phone which has added a new dimension to our walks – for a start, we didn’t realise how many blackcaps live round here!

    1. Sue – this birdsong recognition app is intriguing… I should love to have it. What is it called, please?

        1. Thanks, CS. I’ve just downloaded it and can’t wait for the afternoon walk. :good:

        2. Thanks CS, I’m really looking forward to trying it – not sure how it will adapt to my adamant refusal of its request to use my GPS and location (one would be able to select a country, which should suffice for its purposes) but will have a “play” this evening!

    2. I’ve had this app for some time but do wonder if it confuses other birds?

      1. According to our local ‘experts’ it’s fine to use providing that you don’t have the volume turned up too high.

  6. Took me a little longer than average for a back pager to get this sorted, particularly in the SE where I somehow always regard a gate as an opening rather than a barrier. Still, got there eventually, very enjoyable with 11a my favourite with 4&15d making up the podium.
    Many thanks to the setter and the 2Ks.

    Great fun and not overly difficult Django Toughie by the way.

  7. I always look forward to Wednesdays, and today’s puzzle–easily the fastest Jay gem I’ve ever finished (assuming it is Jay)–pleased me with its neat surfaces and several of its particular references, especially 11a (my COTD), 4d, 15d, 19d, & 2d (because of great memories of being there 50 years ago, after spending Bloomsday in Dublin with my academic mentor). A most enjoyable gift, with thanks to the Kiwis and Jay, or so I assume. 1.5* / 4*

  8. Another winner from Jay and many thanks to him fora most enjoyable puzzle i liked the geographical clue 2d and the stone 15a and 23a and3d made me laugh. The coat made of two Europeans is an oldie but a goodie, but it always catches me out. Many thanks to the Kiwis, I envied tou your view of the Spoonbills but I shouldn’t complain, watching the Red Kites wheeling gracefully above my garden on a regular basis.

    1. Your typing is really good now CC have you made progress in all other ways?

      1. Yes, DG, i have. In the first few weeks after the stroke, i had lots of visual hallucinations in my left peripheral visual field ( people appeared to be standing where there were none or walking past me). Stray letters appeared in the margin of the books on my Kindle too and I had raise the size of the font from 1 to 6. The flashing lights in front of myleft eye persisted for a few weeks too. These problems have mostly disappeared but a gape remains in my left field of vision, which affects typing. Since I have to re-apply for my driving licence this summer, I am awaiting further tests by the hospital opthalmologists to see if I am ‘ safe’ to do so. The prosopagnsia (inability to tecognise faces–including my own in the mirror) has almost gone. Mytyping is still erratic but I check and use the predictive text on my phone. The brain is one part of the body that repairs itself and mine has done so a lot. Many thanks go to the Early Stroke Support team, who put me onto various tools online to improve field of vision! Hope that helps anyone else recovering from a stroke.

        1. Congratulations on the progress you have made Chriscross. It’s amazing. :good:

          1. It’s kind of you to say so, Steve but I had a lot of help from doctors, technical support, nurses and therapists within the NHS, from friends, neighbours and family. It restored rhis old cynic’s faith in humanity.

            1. I’m sure you have had superb help, CC but there still has to be a determination from within yourself to make progress.

              It reminds me of the wonderful progress Kath is making.

              All power to both of you and other members who have problems at present.

  9. I had the 19d problem as we’ll wasting a few minutes trying to think of a homophone for a synonym of key and this nudged me into ** time. That was my last one in the rest being an enjoyable romp. Thanks to the 2 Kiwis for helping me fully understand my answer to 13a and the setter for the fun.

  10. A breezy and very enjoyable puzzle to accompany the mid-morning coffee. Nothing to alarm the equines and elegant clueing pretty much throughout, although I do agree with SC that 3d was more a GK write-in than cryptic. Even so, liked the long clues. Hon Mentions to 15d, 16d, 19d (as with NAS, my LOI – starting to remember that use of key at last!), 1a and 27a, with COTD 23a.

    1.5* / 4*

    Many thanks to Jay (presumably) and the 2Ks.

  11. Raced through this only pausing to check a couple of my constructions in the SE. Very enjoyable, my days of 8d with Redbull are behind me. Thanks to today’s setter and the 2Ks.

  12. As CS correctly surmised, I am indeed jealous of the 2Ks royal spoonbills, but I do have to stop and think about the many birds we have here that don’t grace their island. Interesting choice of flyer to illustrate 21a, I was thinking of the rather more mundane pigeons and doves!
    Another enjoyable romp with our setter this morning but nothing that really stood out for favouritism.

    Thanks to Jay and to our 2Ks for the review.

    1. We get such pleasure from our birds. Each morning I start my day with an apple and put the core out for Mr & Mrs Blackbird, who are waiting on the fence. We bought DD1 an elaborate bird feeder to go outside her window thinking it would entertain her, as she cannot switch on TV or radio but sadly she has not taken to it and when we go to visit all the feeders are empty. Such a pity.

      1. I remember you talking about the bird feeder you bought for DD1. I guess that her carers don’t have the time or manpower to keep it filled for her which is a sad but true reflection of our times. I wonder whether there is a branch of The Wildlife Trust or RSPB nearby who might have a willing volunteer?

    2. Hi Jane. The bird is a NZ native, Maori name piwakawaka. The one shown is widespread throughout the country and there is also an all black variant found only in the South Island. They are regarded as very friendly birds as they are often seen flitting around people or animals like ‘bluebirds of happiness’ in a Disney film. They are actually feeding on small insects disturbed by people or animals moving.

  13. 2.5*/4.5*. What a lovely midweek back-pager. It was a joy from start to finish with 11a, 23a & 19d beating off some stiff opposition and making it onto my podium.

    Many thanks to Jay and the 2Ks.

  14. Nothing wrong with the puzzle; I simply had ‘one of those days’ and needed to rely on a few hints to complete it.

    Thanks to the setter (Jay?) and The TwoKays.

  15. Thank you, setter. The ones I liked best were 22D’s baffling language, 27A’s Tories on the left, and 14A’s Yellow Pages advert (if I’ve encountered that wordplay before, I’d forgotten it). https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iKb3J9mctlo

    26A’s clothes were new to me, and I also made up the names of several non-existent stars with various other computer keys before finding the one that Wikipedia knows about.

  16. Very enjoyable and just right for a Wednesday, well a Tuesday evening, 2.5*/4.5*.

    Favourite a toss-up between 23a and 19d – and the winner is 23a.

    Thanks to Jay and the 2Kiwis.

  17. A cracker from our favourite Wednesday setter with some real sparkle and fun. I agree with others that 23a deserves the top spot of any podium ahead of 19d.

    My thanks to Jay and our 2Ks.

  18. The easiest of the week so far, had a DNF yesterday, but this was a pleasure to complete, nice to see the cheerful meaning word used in its original sense, todays usage brings a whole new meaning to the gay cavalier. Thanks to all.

    1. Answers back on show again with me too, didn’t matter much as I found this excellent crossword “a breeze” with no recourse to the hints. Usual high standard review from 2Ks, Thanks all round.

  19. Quite hard.
    Very tricky in parts.
    Made slow but steady progress until just 23a, 15d and 19d left.
    Eventual completion put me into 4* time.
    Many thanks Jay and the 2Kiwis.

  20. This is the fourth time that the answers have been mistakenly been shown in my printed out crossword.Am seriously thinking of cancelling my subscription!

    1. There is no subscription to look at BD’s blog – I’m not sure cancelling your DT subscription would help, you just need to look at the hints when you’ve solved most of the crossword as this problem seems to be more with the browser people are using to view this site rather than the site itself

    2. It’s a problem that appeared a couple of weeks ago for some users. It is not the fault of Big Dave nor Telegraph Puzzles. Please stick it out until it’s sorted.

  21. After getting only one of the across clues on first attempt I had little hope. But slowly it all fell into place and then a rare day solving both this and the Toughie without assistance ( though need to wait for Toughie hints to parse 14d my LOI). Thanks to both setters.

  22. Not sure this is a Jay puzzle as it seemed easier than I usually find his puzzles, but will be interested in others comments. My rating is 2*/3.5*
    Clues to like include 6a, 23a, 26a, 3d & 8d with winner 23a. Got a chuckle out of 11a, 14a, 24a & 2d
    Lots to like today.

    Thanks to setter(Jay?) & the 2K’s

  23. I’m glad I have a paper copy! No probs with this one, it all fell into place nicely as did yesterdays but didn’t get a moment to comment. Lovely concise clueing, does what it says on the label. Many thanks to the setters and hinters. Were there cats yesterday? I didn’t look. I’m really looking forwards to a break and some sea air to blow the cobwebs away.

      1. Tried to offset the plethora of cat pictures yesterday with a pic of our hound but it was rejected as too large, do you have to “compress” or something?

        1. I’ve never had to do that, Waldorf although sometimes it takes ages for one of my pictures to upload.
          In the meantime, here’s my hound.

          1. See – the picture did not upload and it was only a few kilobytes.

            I’ll try again.

              1. No need to apologise, Steve, I’m quite happy to look twice at your lovely boy!

              2. Labs really have the most soulful eyes. This pictures makes me think of our Toby. This was his “You’re not going out without me?” Look.

      1. I think there’s only one ‘s’ in unfocused, not two. But Steve says both are acceptable.

          1. I think that if focused is spelt with 2 s’s, ‘focussed’, then the accent would be on the second syllable, instead of the first.

  24. No great problems today but some clues needed more thought than others mainly to unpick the wordplay, the answer was in the definition. Rather enjoyable, well clued on the whole.

  25. I seem to have made quite hard work of this compared to others, and the penny never dropped for 19d (I keep forgetting that particular key).
    Nevertheless an enjoyable challenge, with 3d my favourite as I fell for the misdirection to start with.
    Thanks to all

  26. Morning all.
    Yes we agree that this puzzle has the feel of a regular Jay puzzle and looks like it has got pretty general approval. Haven’t noticed any suggestions on how the wordplay for 9d works so maybe our hint is OK after all.

    1. Just rereading the blog post work and been reminded that I couldn’t quite make sense of 9d either. Your hint is how I approached it but it doesn’t quite feel right, how does the “of” fit in?

      1. I think the second bit of the clue (mountain HQ) is a cryptic definition. Chain of command could (just about) be a mountain range (chain) where management is run from, i.e. where the HQ is situated.

        1. Thanks Gazza, the cryptic definition makes sense, I wonder why no “?” to indicate it though.

  27. I’m no longer seeing “click here” to display the solution; it’s there when you open the app! What’s happened? I just want the hints initially with the answer there as a last resort. Can’t be the only one, surely?

    1. Welcome to the blog

      Over the last couple of weeks there has been a large number of comments every day from people experiencing this problem. It is being looked into but it may help if you clear the cache or change to another internet browser

      1. If I click on a click here! The answer appears in yellow. Some times if you double click the answer is show in grey and click here! Is yellow. Double or triple clicking gets them back to normal. If you close your browser
        With the answers showing and your cache is not cleared, they can stay exposed next time you visit the site. I recommend making sure the answers are grey and showing click here! before closing and then clearing your cache. Please let me know if this helps.

  28. What a delightful puzzle. A good mix of easier and trickier clues, but not too tricky to be able to tease out. If it is indeed a Jay I am more than pleased to have finished one of his. Thanks to Jay (?)/setter and to 2Kiwis.

  29. Must have been having an off day. Nearly everyone has commented that this was a gentle Jay gem & Robert reckoned it his fastest solve. Well it was my slowest & thought at one point I was in danger of not finishing or needing hints (plural). Got there eventually. 11&23a my top 2.
    Thanks to Jay & 2Ks

  30. Good fun puzzle with a good balance of head scratching and gimmes. I am struggling though to see what indicates a lurker in13a. Can anyone elucidate?
    Thanks to all

    1. Hi Albert,
      ‘About’ or to paraphrase ‘surrounds’ is what we took to be the indicator.

  31. Only finished this one this morning after a late return from work yesterday. I am not sure that 9d needs a question mark, with the outcome of ‘orders may be transmitted through this’ just being the same as ‘mountain HQ’. Thank you for the parsing of 15d…I got the answer but could not work out why!

  32. Would be nice if completion of a puzzle was as simple as filling in the answer without the need to pile in for post microscopic dissection. All of my 122 dictionaries have the spelling of unfocused with alternative spelling unfocussed. See, you’ve got me at it now!

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