DT 30190 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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DT 30190

Daily Telegraph Cryptic No 30190

Hints and tips by Senf

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

BD Rating – Difficulty ***/**** – Enjoyment **/***

A very good Friday morning from Winnipeg for what will be my last ‘regular’ Friday back page blog.  When I stepped into the breach four months ago it was on the understanding that I would occupy the ‘chair’ until a permanent occupant could be found.  That has now happened and there will be a new Friday blogger from next Friday but you will have to wait until then to find out who it is.  I wish her or him every success and hope that, based on next Friday’s date, she or he is not friggatriskaidekaphobic.

But, I will continue to be here on Sundays.

proXimal was ‘on duty’ last Friday so that means ‘half’ of the remaining members of the triumvirate is ‘on duty’ today and I am going to put my five bob on this being a Zandio production.

Candidates for favourite – 10a, 17a, 16d, and 22d.

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

Please leave a comment telling us what you thought.


1a Striking about Ford car that’s put in posh flooring (10)
REMARKABLE: Our favourite two letters for about, and a two letter Ford car inserted into (put in) a type of ‘posh’ flooring.

6a Number 11? (4)
MASS: What the answer to 11d could be a type of?

9a ‘Mighty Mouse’ — is Mickey taking part? (7)
SEISMIC: A lurker (taking part) found in three words in the clue.

10a Costume has bible class in shock (7)
APPAREL: One of the abbreviations for bible class inserted into (in) a synonym of shock (as in offend?).

12a Toughened blade retracts for transporting (6-7)
BATTLE-SCARRED: An anagram (for transporting) of BLADE RETRACTS.

14a One’s wasted a sovereign (8)
REGICIDE: A single word term for a particular type of killer (one’s wasted) – and the BRB says the answer can refer to the ‘doer’ of the deed as well as the deed itself.

15a Aristocrat bags very soft pelt (6)
PEPPER: A four letter generic term for an aristocrat contains (bags) the musical notation for very soft(ly).

17a Bring charges over brooch in flat (6)
SUPINE: A four three letter term for bring (civil?) charges containing (over) a synonym of brooch – thanks to Andrew Powell, I must have been confused by the ‘S’ on the end of charges.

19a Little South American hurt by flash mob (8)
MARMOSET: A three letter synonym of hurt followed by a two letter synonym of flash and a synonym of mob.

21a Instead of taking turns, eating four (13)
ALTERNATIVELY: A single word adverb for taking turns containing (eating) the Roman numerals for four.

24a One’s originally put in an organ on either side (7)
EARPLUG: The first letter (originally) of Put inserted into the combination of one of our (otic) organs and an informal synonym of the same thing.

25a Construction is permitted if I certify missing sections (7)
EDIFICE: A lurker (is . . . missing sections) found in four words in the clue.

26a Scruff using pot rejected Ecstasy (4)
NAPE: A synonym of pot (as in cooking vessel) reversed (rejected) and the single letter for Ecstasy (the drug).

27a One visiting source of holy river, supposed to be announced (5,5)
HOUSE GUEST: The first letter (source) of Holy, the name shared by four rivers in England, and a homophone (to be announced) of a synonym of supposed.


1d Others sleep (4)
REST: A double definition – I don’t think any more is required.

2d Rumoured fellow graduate, Girton’s top one will retain post (7)
MAILBAG: A homophone (rumoured) of a synonym of fellow, the two letters for one type of graduate, and the first letter (top) of Girton.

3d For cutting off ‘Strictly’, perhaps one should be taken in hand (6,7)
REMOTE CONTROL: A hand-held device for ‘cutting off’ what ‘Strictly’ is the short form of on the idiot box.

4d ‘Pop’ presented by daughter in first-class tribute (8)
ACCOLADE: A synonym of pop (as in soft drink) placed before (presented by) the single letter Daughter all inserted into a three letter term for first class.

5d Youngster’s getting to grips with electronic clues (5)
LEADS: A synonym of youngster’s (including the possessive S) containing (getting to grips with) the single letter for Electronic.

7d Make fresh cricketing clanger — high delivery (7)
AIRDROP: A three letter term for make fresh (clothing or linens) and a four letter cricketing clanger.

8d Team spirit dissolved in daily riots (10)
SOLIDARITY: An anagram (dissolved in) of DAILY RIOTS.

11d Beam, coming in for each date — will this session be heard upstairs? (6,7)
PRAYER MEETING: A three letter synonym of beam contained by (coming in) the three letter term equivalent to for each and a synonym of date.

13d Canned tuna, scarce sea-dweller? (10)
CRUSTACEAN: An anagram (canned) of TUNA SCARCE.

16d Conflict over one point causes mistrust (8)
WARINESS: A synonym of conflict placed before (over) the Roman numeral for one and a synonym of (geographical) point.

18d One holds up underground service, overturning publicity operation (7)
PITPROP: A payment for service (by restaurant staff) reversed (overturning), the two letters for publicity, and an abbreviated form of operation.

20d Company broadcasting series, ‘Horizon‘ (7)
SKYLINE: A (satellite) broadcasting company and a synonym of series.

22d Goods coated in rolled gold — a hassle (5)
AGGRO: The single letter for Good repeated and contained by (coated in) heraldic gold and A from the clue all reversed (rolled).

23d Ace doubling up on wings for his home town, bypassing midfield (4)
BEST: A football ace from a city in Northern Ireland – from which the first two and last two letters are kept (doubling up on wings) and the centre letters are ignored (bypassing midfield).

Quick Crossword Pun:



137 comments on “DT 30190
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  1. Super tough, superbly clever, extremely enjoyable, the gold standard of crosswords!
    Got stuck for ages on 10a, as I read the clue as ‘consume’, my own silly fault I suppose.
    Not sure our overseas friends would have got the reference in 1a, but when they found out what is was I bet they still couldn’t believe Ford called a car that!
    My top clues for today were 14a and the lovely 19a. Great work compiler.

  2. This was a completely above my pay grade and I managed only 4 clues. It would have made a good Toughie, I think. Thanks to Senf for all the great Friday hints, which I shall now read to enlighten my ignorance. Thanks to the compiler for his efforts, which were wasted on me, I fear.

  3. Tricky!! As is often the case with this setter it was only when going over the wordplay in order to nail the parsings that I appreciated the cleverness and ingenuity of the wordplay.
    Like our blogger I had to check that 14a could refer to the “executioner” as well as the evil deed itself but that was my only real parsing problem.
    Ticks all over the place but I’ll highlight 24,26&27a plus 2,3&22d. Good stuff indeed.
    Many thanks to Zandio and Senf, the former for a great puzzle and the latter for the blog and ably holding the fort.

  4. Thank you Senf for putting me out of my misery. Most wasn’t too hard the four letter ones were.
    In 17a you mean three letters not four

  5. Many thanks to Senf for his sterling work in the Friday slot and for today’s review.
    I thought that this was about as tricky as we’re likely to get for a back-pager (23d took me an age before the penny dropped). Thanks to Zandio for a very enjoyable puzzle.
    The clues I ticked included 6a (which I took to be a double definition), 24a and 27a with my favourite being the excellent 14a.

    1. I would describe my PDM on 23d as being like the TV game show, I can’t remember the name, where the contestants have to push ‘coin blanks’ off a shelf and there is frequently one ‘on the brink’ which is very reluctant to drop but, in the end does.

  6. So far I have managed just 8! Off to run the Warm Space at the Village Hall for a couple of hours and will come back to it later but I don’t think I will do much better – seems very hard today and just can’t get a foothold.

    1. Manders- you mentioned a while ago that you had cooked a roast in your all singing all dancing microwave. It was Latish when I commented and I don’t think you could have seen it, but I did ask how it went. I have one of those fancy machines and am trying to use it to be economical with power but I have never dared to risk cooking a joint. I wish Panasonic did a more comprehensive cook book.

      1. Sorry DG, must have missed it. To be honest it wasn’t all that brilliant – I’ve mastered small cuts of meat/sausages etc. in the combination microwave, but a whole joint was not that good, rather tough – should have used a slow cooker. My microwave must be at least 20 years old now so they are probably more versatile these days. I did a boned shoulder of mutton in my slow cooker at Christmas with a bottle of red wine thrown in, perfection if I say so myself!

        1. I did wonder about the roast. Nowadays a joint of meat is an investment and one doesn’t want to ruin it. I get good results from my slow cooker too, but your mutton in red wine sounds good!

    2. This was one of this puzzles that starts very very slowly whilst you try to gain a foothold but then accelerates as you progress. I must have spent 50% of the total solving time teasing out the first half dozen clues. Luckily I had enough time to keep at it and it became easier. Very satisfying in the end, although I must admit I thought I would crash and burn.

  7. Took a while to get started on this puzzle which has to be the toughest for a while and a ****/***** difficulty for me with *** enjoyment, last in was 23d which needed the checking letters as did 19a.
    Favourite was the 18d charade followed by 27a

  8. The toughest for a while and it took some time to work through this at ****/***. My favourites were 6a and 3d and I needed Senf’s hints to understand the answer to 23d. Thanks to him for standing in so admirably and to the setter for his three pipe problem.

  9. A game of two halves for me – the west went in quite smoothly but the east proved more tricky and required a few bung-ins which I only made sense of from the hints. I thought 11d and 19a vague definitions with complex wordplay, maybe it was just me. 15a and 23d were too clever for me and needed hints for. Overall on the trickier side for a back-pager ***/***

    Thanks to Zandio (?) and Senf

    1. Hear, Hear! The semi-pros have their toughie, why cannot those less talented have the opportunity to enjoy, and complete, a more modest challenge? Friday has become a no-go zone.

      1. The backpagers are intended to increase in difficulty from Monday through to Friday, such that the Friday backpager is on a par with an earlyish-week Toughie. If there was no such progression it would be very much more difficult to attempt any more challenging puzzles, either in the DT or elsewhere, I think.

        Until finding this wonderful site the Friday and Sunday backpage puzzles, let alone the Toughies, were for me often no-go areas, but reading the tips/hints from the regular bloggers and posters here, learning what to look for, and plugging away week after week, has taught me more about solving crosswords in the last 2 years than in the previous 32 combined. Thanks heavens for Big Dave & his Blog!

        1. I don’t agree. I can practise as much as I like and still will never get a decent handicap in golf. Others, more gifted, will continue to improve.
          I think it is worth remembering that the regulars on this site amount to perhaps a few score and, more or less by definition, are up there with the most able. What about the many thousands who try the crossword, know nothing about this site and give up, thoroughly disheartened.
          There does seem to be the attitude, and I have noticed it before: I can do it, and I also have the fun of doing the toughie, so nuts to everyone else.

          1. I’m regular(ish), and that’s because I so often need the hints — I’m definitely not one of the most able. Hanging around here I’ve definitely improved massively in many aspects of crossword solving.

            I do agree with you to some extent though, in that some of us have a ceiling and can’t improve past that. I don’t think I’m going to get much better than I am: I suspect I’m largely limited by my vocabulary, and I haven’t got any better at solving anagrams (which I tend to leave till late on). I’m not going to get to the level of some others, however much I practice, and I’ll probably continue to be caught out on, say, Mondays by phrases and meanings that are unfamiliar to me. And that’s fine.

            But I completely disagree on the attitude: the regulars round here are lovely, and the accomplished solvers are so kind in sharing their knowledge and explaining things for the rest of us. That somebody has different preferences to you — for instance preferring harder crosswords, or finding easier some setters’ styles that you struggle with — is just that, a preference. Like having different tastes in music, or food, or hobbies. And that somebody expresses their preference isn’t a slight on you, or a suggestion that your preference is wrong or your experience is in anyway invalid.

            If the Big Dave crew didn’t care about beginners, they wouldn’t spend so many hours every week writing tips and explanations for them.

          2. Good Evening LL
            Forget crosswords.
            Why will you never get a “decent” handicap at golf with practise? May I suggest you practise wrongly? Get a lesson or two from a Pro and practise rightly. Ive dropped my index by 4.3 since last year with only a little help… and much well directed practise.
            PS what do you consider a “decent” handicap?
            Back to crosswords; same as above!
            Happy Golfing- if you are ever in my neck of the woods (Sheffield) I’ll gladly host you for a round; as long as we can do a crossword after!

    2. Agree entirely. I rarely attempt Friday crosswords now as they are too convoluted by half. I followed today’s by using this blog as I had tried and failed to get more than about half a dozen answers.

  10. This was one of the hardest I have come across after years of doing these crosswords. I have been finding Fridays offerings particularly tough recently, not for me unfortunately.

    1. Your comment went into moderation because you appear to have changed your alias and the @xxxxxxx.com part of your e-mail address. If you are the same person, you previously used ‘todd’ as your alias. Both old and new combinations should work from now on.

  11. Yes, this was quite difficult but the Toughie I found impossible as I usually do on a Friday
    I was beaten by the pesky 6a and 23d. I really do not see how we were supposed to realise George Best featured in the latter.
    My COTD? 14a
    Thankyou Senf for standing in. I’m glad a replacement has been found as it shows this site isn’t moribund yet!

    1. Hear hear to the George Best clue. There was absolutely no indication as to the ace in question. Irish ace may have been fairer. That was the only clue I failed on after two days of slogging !

      What a difficult crossword, I was quite proud to get within one !

  12. Absolutely wonderful puzzle: plenty of exercise for the “LGCs” and it was certainly no walkover, but what a cracker, not a duff clue in sight and plenty of lateral thinking required. Imaginative anagrinds and anagrists, very smooth surfaces, smiles everywhere and the regular sound of pennies dropping. The one clue I biffed and could not parse was 23d – he was rather before my time.

    Particularly liked 6a, 14a, 24a, 26a and 11d, but to be honest I could triple that list and not include all those that merit special mention.

    2.5* / 4.5*

    Many thanks indeed to the setter/Zandio for such a good coffee-break challenge. Thank you also and especially to Senf, not just for today’s blog but for all your sterling work over the last four months – it’s been very much appreciated.

  13. A pleasingly tricky and thoughtful puzzle that was at the tougher end of the setting spectrum for a Friday. However, as is often the case, the senses of reward and satisfaction were much enhanced as a result. 14a and 23d were my favourites but I could have used my trusty pin and still found top clues.

    My thanks to, presumably, Zandio for the challenge, and to Senf for all his hard work on the blog.

  14. Ah well – another Friday puzzle for Zandio fans it would seem. Put aside all desires for smooth surface reads……
    Best of the bunch for me were 17&21a.

    Thanks to Zandio for completing his leg with the baton and much gratitude to Senf for all his extra duties over the past few months – so pleased to learn that we have a new blogger to take over the Friday slot and sending best wishes to him/her for next week.

  15. Oh my goodness. I needed Senf’s help here to get me rebooted (more than once). My level of competence is limited and this was way over the 20d.

    I was asked about THE LIST.
    Appearing on THE LIST is not a badge of honour. Words or phrases on THE LIST are the Prince Harrys of lexicography. They are spares to be banished and never heard from again. “Oh”, some may argue, “but it’s in the Big Red Book!” I say the BRB can take a running jump. If a word is so obscure that in solving a crossword one person (with specialised knowledge) out of every ten thousand participating might just know it then it goes on THE LIST.

    THE LIST started out as a post-it note and is now growing and will require a small book to hold this growing compilation of doom and horror.

    Words and phrases on THE LIST to date are:

    A bootless errand; Hanseatic League; netsuke; cloisonne; alb; succubi; archimandrites.
    Also – any obscure parts of a Japanese apron (it appears there are many), and various members of the Ottoman Empire.

    Thanks to the setter and The Man From Manitoba

    1. I now have a mental image of the BRB springing myriad legs, much as though it were Rincewind’s Luggage (see Pratchett, T), and running towards a cliff edge at your command, Terence!

    2. But what’s the point of making such a list? Just so you can refer to it and seethe and gloat about how much you loathe everything on it? It would be much easier and healthier just to forget about and abandon all those bugbears.

      1. Jose – everything I write (and I’ve made a career of it somehow) is light-hearted flim-flam. Never take me seriously. I don’t.

        1. OK, got you,Terence. I had rather suspected that, but sometimes it’s hard to be sure with the written word. I always remember this, said to Kenneth Williams by his headmaster: Jokes will make you popular, but you won’t be taken seriously when you want to be sincere.

          Anyway, have a listen to this track which contains the lyric:

          I guess I’ll see you next lifetime
          Maybe we’ll be butterflies …

    3. Terence, you are funny! But a cultivated man like you must know about netsuke (there’s a wonderful book about a netsuke collector during the war I’ll remember it in half an hour) and cloisonné, I have always imagined you had choice little objets d’art in your vitrine.

      1. The Hare with Amber Eyes! I remember that Jane (and perhaps you too, DG) recommended it to me during my first few weeks here on the blog, early in 2020, and it remains one of my most memorable reading experiences.

        1. Yes indeed what a marvellous memoir of Edmund de Waal’s family. He himself is such a talented ceramicist and author. He already had an OBE but was then deservedly awarded a CBE for services to the arts in 2021.

  16. Another almost unsolvable (for me) Friday crossword. No fun whatsoever. An escaped toughie for sure.
    Thanks and well done to Senf for working the darned thing out and also for standing in on Fridays.

  17. I’m beginning to dread Friday crosswords as they are way too difficult for me and this was no exception. Thanks to Senf for the answers!

    1. I do the dead tree version And I am considering the idea of cancelling Friday’s ewspaper as so many of the puzzles are out of my league on that day so it’s a waste of money

        1. Hear, hear
          Enough is enough. We are all thoroughly bored by it and if he keeps on about his military exploits in Afghanistan, he is putting himself and his family in the sights of terrorists.

          1. Surely any boredom we’re suffering is the fault of the media who keep reporting on it? They could presume anybody who’s interested what he says will buy and read his book (and so don’t need its contents repeating in the press), and choose to stop inflicting it — seemingly page-by-page — on the rest of us.

            That they don’t is hardly the fault of the book’s author!

  18. Puzzle of the week for me. Only a failure to parse 23d took a bit of the shine of the satisfaction of completing – but if it taxed Gazza & Senf & foxed MG I’ll not be too hard on myself.
    Thanks to Zandio & Senf – surprised you resisted the temptation in reply to an earlier comment – but my other 25,000 answers over the last year are right.

    1. I presume that you mean Comment 5. It is quite 1a that us bloggers are ordinary people who are not infallible and errors are made occasionally. Those who cannot accept that should, in my opinion, ‘take a pill’ and try to be as polite as possible in pointing out the error while commenting on the puzzle in general.

      But then you get people like the one in Comment 5 who has only commented twice both pointing out errors in puzzles that I have blogged! I suppose the next time we will see a comment from him will be the next time I make an error.

      1. I have a theory about curt/strange/suspect comments like the ones from Blair Hicken and the one at #5 above. But I could be wrong so I’ll say nothing.

  19. This Friday puzzle just did not click with me this week.
    3*/1* for me

    Favourites far and few between in this indecipherable puzzle for me.
    I pick 9a, 1d & 20d

    Too many that I couldn’t even bung in.

    Bring on Saturday

    Thanks to Zandio and Senf for hints

  20. I have nothing to say other than I gave up.

    Thanks to the setter for the thrashing and Senf for deciphering it for me.

  21. Managed to solve ’em all except that underground object at 18d (Jimmy and I tried all kinds of piping, subway–i.e., Metro-like–holdups, you-name-it), which is now so obvious I could scream. Before and beyond that, I just steadily worked through the grid, plugging in the right answer for 23d without knowing why, though I certainly did know the superstar, and finding it (oh, how I hate to say this) a bit of a slog. I am on Jane’s side regarding this compiler, finding his constructions rather oblique and his surfaces often impenetrable. Different strokes. I did like 14a very much, as well as the lurkers. Thanks to Senf for his gallantry and to Zandio for the workout. ****/**

    1. I find Zandio clues are like reading something in a foreign language that I’ve never studied. They are very clever but I don’t know where to start.

      1. My thoughts exactly! I know that with say Ray T, I can apply a bit of logic and lateral thinking and eventually arrive at a solution. With Zandio’s clues, I often don’t even know where to start.

  22. Hello, compiler here. Thanks very much for taking the time to solve, analyse and discuss. All the best to Senf. Have a good weekend.

  23. Thankyou Senf for your excellent hints today. I definitely needed them. I hope your replacement blogger is as generous as you, it could be a hard act to follow!
    8d was my first success and progress was slow after that. We are lucky to have this site and 8d should be our mantra.

  24. I found it a bit chewy today, harder than a normal back-pager for some reason. Maybe the Christmas imbibing hasn’t fully worn off yet.
    I wondered if the “doubling up on wings” in 23d was referring to his noted ability to play both wings in a game.

  25. As many comments already posted, I found this quite heavy going.
    I managed a full grid after a great deal of head scratching and a (correct) bung in for 23d for which I could have studied the wordplay till Doomsday without parsing, as I was way off beam.
    Thanks to the setter and Senf for this blog and all the sterling relief work.

  26. Another really excellent puzzle from Z, who is now a favourite setter of mine. Great clues, a good/tough challenge and a very enjoyable tussle. Too many first class clues to isolate any, so I won’t. 4*/5*.

  27. 5*/2.5*. I found this very difficult particualrly in the SE corner and a curate’s egg in terms of enjoyment not helped by some strange surface reads.

    I failed to parse 23d which I think is rather obscure for a back-pager. I am not convinced by the definition for 12a nor by the anagram indicator in 13d.

    6a was my favourite.

    Many thanks to the setter and to Senf.

  28. Thank you Zandio for composing this, and the editor for publishing it — such fun! My top clue was probably 19a (‘hurt by flash mob’) for cuteness. Close contenders were 11d (‘Beam’) and 27a (‘visiting source of holy river’).

    Also the first cryptic crossword in ages where I haven’t needed any of this site’s wonderful hints. I did make use of an anagram solver early on, but pleasingly this puzzle featured few of those. For commenters above saying this was “too hard”, please bear in mind that difficulty is subjective: the puzzles within my abilities are clearly different from yours.

    It’s great that The Telegraph publishes a range of styles from different setters, so we each get turns at the ones that most suit us. If all the backpagers were of the type you find doable, it’s possible I would never manage to solve one! So when a crossword isn’t for you, please just skip that day — while knowing it’s giving others pleasure, and that one will be along for you soon.

    Thank to Senf for filling in, and best wishes for whoever’s taking over.

    1. “difficulty is subjective” – Yes, from the point of the examinees, some of whom are stronger than others. However, setters of exams tailor according to a standard: there would be an outcry if A level maths questions turned up in a GCSE paper. If the toughie could be regarded as A level standard, should there not be something to cater for the GCSE cruciverbalists who are likely to be the large majority?

      1. Of course. But by subjective I mean that there isn’t just a linear progression where crosswords can be classified from easiest to toughest — that which things people find tough varies. Obviously some people struggle with GCSE maths and others find it straightforward. But there’s pretty much nobody who would find A-level maths easy yet struggle with GCSEs; A-levels are objectively harder than GCSEs, and even those who sail through the A-level would agree with that.

        Whereas it is possible for one crossword solver to struggle with puzzle A yet be able to complete puzzle B unaided, and for a different solver to experience that the other way round. Neither is right or wrong, and neither can claim that the puzzle they found easier is objectively easier than the other one.

        I need this site’s hints more days than I don’t, yet I solved today’s backpager without them. I’m not a Toughie-level solver who relishes ‘harder’ crosswords; I’ve almost certainly failed to solve unaided crosswords that you have managed, those which you consider a suitable level for backpagers.

        That today’s puzzle doesn’t suit you doesn’t mean it’s too hard to be a backpager. Or, to put it another way round, if all the puzzles suited you then there might not be any that I would then be able to solve unaided, and that would make me sad! Don’t solvers like me deserve to have the style of puzzle that suits us just as much as you do yours?

        Maybe less like GCSE maths v A-level maths, and more like GCSE maths v GCSE French?

        1. I take on board the points you make, but on days like today when so many people on this site, which I believe caters for the more skilled, remark on the difficulty then surely the puzzles editor has slipped an A level question into the GCSE exam. I am far less encouraged to even bother with Friday’s offering in future. On a slightly different tack, I am old enough to remember the ?late 90s? when the Saturday prize puzzle was the easiest of the week. This would be a way of luring people into taking part, rather than have them run into something like today’s offering.

          1. If you do not bother with Friday back pagers in the future, you will miss out. Remember, at the moment, we have a triumvirate of Friday setters and as a result get a wide variety of very good puzzles.

      2. The DT back-pagers are supposed to fluctuate in difficulty – mild on Mon/Tues, average-ish on Wed/Thur and culminating on Fri with a quite difficult one. Admittedly, this one was a bit tougher than a normal Friday, but still at the lower end of Toughie difficulty I think. But it’s not a precise science and dissent is bound to crop up.

  29. Very tough but enjoyable nonetheless. I did need Senf’s comments to fully parse19a (although that produced a ‘duh’ moment).
    I am used to the the puzzles getting progressively more difficult through the week, which adds to the enjoyment.
    Many thanks to Zandio and Senf

  30. I managed six solves before turning the air blue and only just prevented myself hurling my tablet across the room. Toughies have no place in the daily cryptic position and this was far harder than the one it two Toughies that have been recommended. Mind you I didn’t finish them either.

    Thanks to Senf for stepping in for so long and bringing us his excellent hints. Thank you to Zandio for …. I am not quite sure.

  31. OMG – this was hard! I had to put it down after my first pass with less than half the clues solved and instead endure a trip to Asda to allow my brain cells to reset. On my return was able to tap into new inspiration and pretty much finish the grid, other than I needed the hints for 6a and 23d. It’s amazing how the answers with the fewest letters can cause the most difficulty. Enjoyable though – I like a challenge even if it does give me 22d. COTD – 1a for managing to squeeze that Ford model into a cryptic clue. Thanks to the setter and Asda – we now have a full fridge again and food for tonight.

    1. I’m interested in what you mean by the first pass. If it’s the first read through then you did a darn sight better than me. I always read through the entire puzzle initially filling in answers as I go. Today’s yielded 5 answers & resultant dread. Only then do I work from an answer in with the benefit of checkers & the heavy fog hopefully lifts which it slowly did today.

  32. Too hard for me but I was pleased to get about 60% in before turning to Senf (and then getting a few more). What would i do without our dedicated band of solution explainers. Somebody described the crosswords as reaching max degree of difficulty on a Friday. Whether that is true or not it’s good to have a mix although if they were too many as hard as todays I would probably give up. Easier cryptic crosswords are where I and I suspect most people start – well done DT in keeping the mix varied.

  33. As I have said already, this was hard and I still haven’t cracked 23d – is it footbally? I’m going to have to do a reveal. I may be sticking my neck out here if I say Why all the fuss because you can’t finish a crossword puzzle every day? It is just a puzzle. It is designed to fox you, it isn’t the end of the world if it is sometimes beyond you.
    Our lovely setters are spending hours trying to stump us, and we always have the wonderful hinters to help us. I think those who don’t like the DT crossword should get another paper and do their blood pressures a favour. Have a lovely weekend everyone !

    1. Yes, footbally — but sufficiently well known that it isn’t necessary to follow football, or even to have been around in the appropriate era.

    2. Well said Daisygirl – I agree wholeheartedly with you. By the way, IMHO 23d is a dreadful clue to use in a back page crossword puzzle – that one along with 6 across were the two that foxed me the most. Do keep thinking around footie for your solution to 23down though ;-) Otherwise, I found this puzzle most absorbing and not especially difficult. Sadly, today’s Toughie and like most Friday’s Toughies is way beyond my solving ability, but I’m happy to say that Wednesday and Thursday’s this week were a treat. The less said about Robyn’s Tuesday puzzle the better as far as I’m concerned – I simply cannot get on his or her wavelength.

  34. I thought that Corky’s comment about his being the sorcerer’s apprentice to the Maestro yesterday was the POTD (phrase of the day). Today’s has got to be Terence’s “Prince Harrys of lexicographers”!

  35. Wow, tricks and ticks everywhere. Just 1 clue complete over breakfast. This afternoon brought more reward but I got stuck on the small South American. 23d was correct but a bung-in. Thanks Senf for your invaluable hints and Zandio for the work-out. Anagrams, homophones, lurkers all seemed extra elusive today. Favourites 10,17a, 22d.

  36. Back from my Warm Space duties and managed to finish off without hints but had to read 23d to understand it. What a lot of whingers we have got today – perhaps they are all having a dry January. A lot of mine were bung ins but that is why this site is so fantastic in showing us lesser mortals how we got there. My comment at 7 above says I only had solved 8 and that had taken me about an hour, but coming back to it later made all the difference. Stick at it my friends and keep following this great site. Thanks to Zandio and Senf – we will miss you on Fridays and thanks for stepping in.

    1. I think you miss the point: you managed to bung in, well done, you are clearly skilled in the art. But why should those who are less gifted not have the pleasure of a solve, given that people of your standard have the toughie to get your teeth into?
      And I shall continue to whinge about the lack of opportunity for those of us in the lower divisions of the cruciverbalist world.

      1. You vastly over rate my capabilities! I’ve only ever completed about 6 Toughies and they were all one star. BUT I do what I used to have to do with the back pager when I started and that is when I come to a full stop I read the answer and then the hint to see how the answer is arrived at. Before this wonderful site I read the answers the following day in the paper and then tried to work it out, its very therapeutic and you gradually improve so, I say again, stick with it.

  37. Too hard for me. Failed on the footballer. How anyone got this I have no idea. 19a also through me, clearly it was an animal of some sort. But the first and second synonyms were beyond me. Especially the second. Where on earth does Mo come from.
    Thanks for the hints.

    1. “I’ll be there in a flash.” / “I’ll be there in a mo.” (as in, ‘moment’).

      I got it from the crossing letters then worked out the wordplay afterwards. I’m not sure I’d’ve ever got it t’other way round.

      More importantly: aren’t they so cute!!!

  38. In Toughie territory.
    Took me 4* time to get started!
    Thereon, slow but steady progress to an unaided completion.
    Apart from guessing correctly and checking this, a certain model of car.
    3d made me chuckle.
    Very crowded podium.
    Upon which, 14a and 23d stand out as joint CsOTD.
    Many thanks, indeed, Zandio and Senf.

  39. Hello again. An observation about 23d, and how one might approach solving it.
    On the face of it, it is about a footballer. The definition is almost certainly ‘ace’. So the answer is probably a famous football player. He has a home town, so the answer must be a real person rather than, say, ‘striker’. So we are looking for a real football player.
    It’s possible that the compiler has used an obscure footballer, but let’s first assume he has played fair and used a well-known footballer, one that even people who hate football will know. Which footballers are in the pantheon of people who transcend their field to the extent that they epitomise it — people as famous as Dickens, Tolstoy, Botham, Warne, Otis, Aretha, Che, Mao, Thatcher, JFK, Ali, Usain Bolt, Marilyn Monroe, etc? The two footballers in that company, I would say, are Pele and Xxxx. So that might be a starting point.
    Then we are told he is or was a winger. The two best-known wingers being Matthews and Xxxx. And his home town is well-known enough to be a clue — I can only think of one footballer whose home town is well-known. And his name means ‘Ace’.
    I’m not suggesting it’s an easy clue, and I appreciate that you probably have to get the answer before using all the sub-clues to confirm it. But I think it is logically solvable. Hope so, anyway! All the best. :)

    1. You make it all sound so easy. I’m even crosser now for throwing in the parsing towel 🙂
      Great puzzle incidentally

      1. Did you not notice that the setter took a rather long paragraph to explain a four-letter answer? I rest my case, this crossword was needlessly complicated and verbose.

    2. Sorry to disagree Zandio, but if you have no explain a clue in such length, then it’s not a very good clue (to my way of thinking, anyway!). And clearly not logically solved as a goodly number just ‘bunged’ it in without understanding why. I appreciate that you put a good deal of thought in to compiling the crosswords!

  40. Unlike most other people I didn’t find this too difficult, possibly due to the large numbers of anagrams. I got stuck on 1a, 6a, 17a, 23d.

    1. Your comment went into moderation because you shortened your alias to just the first letter of your surname. Both should work from now on.

  41. Thank you Senf for your invaluable hints and explanations for a harder than usual puzzle. I was pleased to solve half unaided. The other plus for me today: I completed the diabolical Sudoku (I assume I am allowed to mention that on here).

  42. I struggled and finally with several blanks DNF. For me no fun at all but to each his own so I am glad some bloggers did enjoy it. Thank you Zandio for that which for me was a bridge too far and Senf for your hints which I have yet to read (so sorry to know you are leaving the Friday slot).

  43. Thought that 24a was only cryptic but now I can see some wordplay involved.
    Clever clue.
    Failed on the same two 4 letter words.
    Hard but fair.
    Favourite 27a.
    Thanks to Zandio and to Senf.

  44. I think I had 3 answers after a first pass, and further thought got me nowhere. A “completely different wavelength” day for me. Often when I resort to help on here I can then say “stupid boy, you should have seen that” … but not today. 23d for example, I understand the compiler’s explanation (thanks Zandio), but never in a month of Sundays would I have seen that for myself.

    Many Thanks to both compiler and hinter.

    From a (to date) lurker.

  45. How many people who picked up the paper or their electronic device really enjoyed today’s offering.? I suspect that the very few who did probably do the toughie and succeed there. They probably do the FT, Guardian, Times etc . Good luck to them and well done but my sympathies lie with the average bod.
    Having said that I did reasonable well today only two or three escaped me. However I spent most of the morning trying to get there.
    Thanks Senf.

  46. Thanks to Zanido and to Senf for the review and hints. A very tricky but enjoyable puzzle. I managed the left hand side, but nothing much on the right. I was on the point of giving up when I managed to get 11d. The checkers really helped, and I was left with 23d and 6a, which I eventually got. Favourite was 19a. Was 4* /4* for me. After reading the previous comments, this puzzle has certainly caused a storm. I’m certainly not an expert, but this was definitely on the edge of my solving abilities. I think it’s great that the puzzles have a range of difficulties, and rather than be annoyed and give up, I think people should try and learn. If you’re never stretched you won’t improve.

  47. Well I’m late to the table as I only start the puzzle when I finish work. Lots of comments about the level of difficulty. I got about a third of the way through and was very pleased with myself. This blog has been brilliant in improving my knowledge for which I thank everyone especially BD. I know when I first started looking at cryptics I was totally thrown. I guess practice and not taking it too seriously is the answer. As ever thanks to all.

    1. Thank you for your comment. That’s a lovely thing to say about this blog, and I hope earlier commenters come back and read it.

  48. Somewhat dispiriting for me as I managed to finish three of the earlier ones this week. I managed six clues today and gave up. Here’s to Monday…

  49. I managed about 60% of this before becoming depressed about the ever-decreasing returns on my mental efforts. I guess we are supposed to just accept marble is posh flooring, flash is mo, mob is set, rumoured is heard and service is tip. In my opinion this stuff belongs firmly in Toughie territory. I suspect Zandio thinks that the closer his efforts get to Toughie standard the more plaudits he will receive. 23D is a classic example of a smarmy complex clue that I believe is baffling to the silent majority.

  50. Have never done the toughie. We always do the backpager and have been doing so for years. In the beginning we could hardly complete one per week. But we kept on keeping on. We now manage to (mostly) always complete. Including today’s. Practice makes perfect, as the saying goes! Thanks to all.

  51. I’m pleased to read that it wasn’t just me that found this tough. Re comments above this site has improved my solving capabilities beyond belief! As for toughies I would read through the clues and see if I could actually do any then I would go through the hints and solve it from there I usually don’t have to use them these days, I don’t ‘do’ fridays though. Nothing obscure today apart from perhaps 3d, but I do admire the sentiment. Favourite was 14a by a country mile. Thanks to Zandio and Senf.

  52. Managed to solve this excellent and quite difficult puzzle, but in **** time. From the North American perspective the unlikely name for a Ford car was gettable working backward from the obvious answer, however the idea that “ace” could refer to a footballer, a specific one at that, whose name could be derived from knowledge of his home town seemed a bit unfair.

    1. I agree. I tried to encourage my 16 year old to have a crack at a few of back pagers because he is rather intelligent, has an excellent vocabulary and enjoys problem solving. He enjoyed the first two or three then became rather frustrated by old cultural references that he could not possibly have a clue about. He says he may give it it a go when he is in his 50s and all the obscure 1950s general knowledge has become extinct (his words not mine)! A pity really.

  53. I stopped doing the Telegraph cryptic a while ago as I felt the difficulty and obscure words were impacting on my enjoyment.

    I started doing the backpager again this week and wish I hasn’t bothered. Today’s offering was about as difficult as I have seen as far as I can remember.

    I have found other pastimes and will not be attempting the Telegraph crossword again.

    Thanks to all.

  54. Found this much tougher than Thursday’s Toughie (which I tried thanks to encouraging comments about its accessibility). However I persevered on this one over 36 hours and finally got there with 23d as last in. I finally guessed it had something to do with an ‘ace’ footballer and bunged in the one that fitted. But it took Senf plus Zandio’s explanation of his thought processes to get the parsing. Phew! But I am highly appreciative of Zandio taking the trouble to give, in such detail, the workings of his mind. This is the first time I have seen a compiler taking so much trouble to help our understanding. Thank you!

  55. Difficult? Yes! Most enjoyable? Definitely yes ****!
    Much appreciation to Zandio for a cracking puzzle and for explaining how to parse 23d. I did get the answer but don’t know enough about this particular ‘ace’ to put together the wordplay.
    Many appreciative thanks to Senf for the excellent review and for ‘standing-in’ on Fridays.

  56. 4*/5*…
    liked 26A “Scruff using pot rejected Ecstasy (4)”….
    this blog, inc Zandio’s comments, most appreciated.

  57. Has to be five star difficulty. After two days (I rarely surrender), I got within one, the George Best clue. As has been said, how on earth would anyone know which ace, even an ace person, was required ?!
    Anyway, that clue aside, a terrific challenge, but probably too high a standard for a back pager.

    Thanks to all, nevertheless.


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