DT No 30243 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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DT No 30243

Daily Telegraph Cryptic No 30243

Hints and tips by StephenL

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

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

Good morning everyone from a snow-free but windy South Devon coast.

The setter (I have my suspicions) has given us a very fine puzzle indeed to warm the hearts if not the hands of you all. I filled it in quite quickly but I’ve added a star for difficulty due to a couple of tricky parsings. I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did.

Please leave a comment telling us what you thought.


1a Cautious, limiting on and off white wine (10)
CHARDONNAY: place a word meaning cautious or wary around (limiting) a very cleverly disguised anagram (off) of ON AND.

6a Understand point of view (4)
TAKE: Double definition, one a verb, one a noun.

9a Bloomer youth plans to remedy (10)
POLYANTHUS: Anagram (to remedy) of the preceding two words. The bloomer of course is not a mistake.

10a Lawyer discards fine cheese (4)
BRIE: Remove the abbreviation for Fine from the end of an informal word for a lawyer, giving a soft cheese.

12a Redeeming feature of change by Heather around home (6,6)
SILVER LINING: Start with a synonym of change as a noun in a monetary sense. For the second word insert an adjective meaning “at home” into a 4-letter crosswordland staple heather.

15a Ape beginning to eat fruit (6)
ORANGE: An informal name for a reddish brown tree-dwelling ape and the initial letter of Eat.

16a Manual inspiring African politicians to show leadership (8)
GUIDANCE: Insert the initials of an African political party that is very useful for setters, into a manual or handbook.

18a Constant support mostly comprising brave individual, Native American (8)
CHEROKEE: Insert a brave person or champion into the abbreviation for Constant and all but the last letter (mostly) of a synonym of support or maintain. The containment indicator is comprising.

19a Nick is about to back proportional representation (6)
PRISON: Is from the clue and a preposition meaning about or regarding follow (to back) the abbreviation for Proportional Representation.

21a PM meets popular army officer (5-7)
MAJOR GENERAL: A relatively recent Conservative prime minister (there’s been a few very recent!) and a synonym of popular in the sense of mass-market or common.

24a Greek character, doctor, lacking any feeling (4)
NUMB: A 2-letter Greek character and the abbreviation for a Bachelor of Medicine.

25a Stage performance barely entertaining the audience? (10)
STRIPTEASE: A cryptic definition, the barely being a reference to without clothes.

26a Son gets drunk over casual fling (4)
TOSS: The abbreviation for Son and an old fashioned word for a habitual drunkard are reversed (over).

27a Took turns with Bill tackling terribly late rent (10)
ALTERNATED: An abbreviated bill in the sense of publicity goes around (tackling) an anagram (terribly) of LATE RENT.


1d Carry On Constable, typically English? (4)
COPE: A “typical” or common name for a (police) constable and the abbreviation for English. Good clue!

2d Removing top, intimate friend (4)
ALLY: Remove the initial letter (top) of an adjective meaning intimate or close in a relationship sense.

3d Choosing committee for project’s planning stage (7,5)
DRAWING BOARD: A synonym of choosing or selecting and a committee that often sits at the head of a company.

4d Genuine new Lloyd Webber musical mounted (6)
NATIVE: The abbreviation for New is followed by a reversal (mounted in a down clue) of a well known musical written by the gentlemen in the clue.

5d Sign of a university in Iraq upsetting America (8)
AQUARIUS: Start with A from the clue and add a reversal (upsetting) of IRAQ into which is inserted the abbreviation for University. Finally append an abbreviation for America to get a star sign under which all the best people are born!

7d Stories Dan concocted, displaying skill (10)
ADROITNESS: Anagram (concocted) of the preceding two words.

8d Trees always succeeded hiding part of golf course (10)
EVERGREENS: An insertion (hiding) of a part of a golf course (where you do the fiddly bit!) into a synonym of always and the abbreviation for Succeeded.

11d Right to block incorrect grade in Kent school (12)
KINDERGARTEN: Kent has nothing to do with the location of the school, it’s part of the fodder. Insert (to block) the abbreviation for Right into an anagram (incorrect) of the following three words. Very clever wordplay.

13d Plant that stings adults cuts little child (5-2-3)
TOUCH-ME-NOT: Hands up all those thinking of a stinging plant?  If so the setter has done his job in misdirecting you. Start with a 3-letter small child into which is inserted an exclamation of pain and some male adults. The insertion indicator is cuts. A quite brilliant clue and worth the admission fee alone.

14d Places where track athletes can make a splash? (5,5)
WATER JUMP: A cryptic definition, the track athletes I think being steeplechasers

17d Impedes Taliban capturing base (8)
PEDESTAL: Hidden in the clue. (capturing)

20d Falsify getting infiltrated by unknown country (6)
BELIZE: A rather formal verb meaning failing to give a true impression goes around (infiltrated by) a mathematical unknown.

22d Reportedly full agreement (4)
PACT: A homophone (reportedly) of a synonym of full or crowded.

23d Demands regularly to succeed hotel manager (4)
HEAD: Alternate (regularly) letters of dEmAnDs follow (to succeed) the abbreviation for Hotel.

Great stuff setter, my winners are 1a plus 1&23d with 13d the outstanding favourite. Feel free to tell us yours.


102 comments on “DT No 30243
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  1. Quite tough I thought at top end ***/***. The GK was ok but for some reason everything seemed a bit of a struggle! I thought 7d quite a hard although obvious anagram and that was my last one in. Thanks SL and the setter.

  2. I really enjoyed that. Lots of clever misdirection as in the anagram indicator in 1a. I had a different answer to our blogger for 6a, which would give us an X-less pangram but I bow to Stephen’s superior wisdom. My favourite was 13d, a plant I’ve never heard of but I enjoyed working out the answer. Many others worthy of mention, especially 12a, 16a, 25a and 22d. Thanks to our setter for a pleasant coffee time and to StephenL for keeping me on the right path!

    1. Re 6a, my last one in, my first thought with the checking letters was FACE (which would have made it an X-less pangram), although I couldn’t make it work.

    2. In Jamaica we call it shame-me-lady, it grows wild in the cow pastures, here in America people buy them!

  3. I found this a mix of straightforward and tricky – one or two clues were hard to parse and my LOI – 6a – was a bung in. I was fooled for a while into looking for an X-less pangram but the puzzle fell one letter short. However, I can’t find fault with a crossword that starts at 1a with my favourite white and which therefore has to be my COTD. Thanks to the setter and thanks to StephenL, particularly for the Pink Floyd clip.

  4. Took me a while to get going on this jewel of a cryptic. I actually worked up from the bottom-right to the top-left, slowly into *** time, with 13d, 18a,12a, 20d, and 1a taking top honours. Missed the Quickie pun altogether–not a clue. Thanks to Stephen and the X-less setter. ***/****

    Brilliant Beam Toughie today, not much more demanding than Mr T’s backpagers.

  5. Complete contrast to yesterday. Brain clearly not in gear for a very laboured solve. At least it wasn’t just me with 7d, my last but one in, which took an embarrassingly long time to sort out the fodder. Wasn’t familiar with the plant at 13d but got it from the wordplay & then confirmed with Mr G. It’d be my pick of the bunch too with 1,12&18a plus 1,8&17d. Very enjoyable despite my struggles with it.
    Thanks to the setter (couldn’t hazard a guess) & Stephen.
    Ps brain fog extended to the Quickie – couldn’t recall the Northumberland castle & couldn’t work it out from the pun which wasn’t surprising as when I cheated & looked it up it then took some time before I twigged the correct pronunciation to get to the pun.

    1. I’m from Morpeth, just down the road, so I know Alnwick = “ANNICK” – but beware! Nearby is Alnmouth, in which the L is pronounced! We’re just tryin’ to catch yers oot, y’knar!

  6. 2.5*/4*. I was on pangram alert from about the halfway stage but it didn’t quite materialise.

    I’m certainly not an expert in these matters, but I’m not sure that “stage” is needed in 25a.

    Neither I nor Mrs RD, my resident horticultural expert, had heard of 13d but it gets my vote as favourite. 1d & 23d join it on my podium.

    Many thanks to the setter for a very enjoyable puzzle and to SL.

    1. I’ve only just seen this comment about 25a, RD. So, apologies if you have signed off for the night.

      You raise an interesting point.

      I’m sure most compilers aim to create short clues, trying their utmost to avoid any superfluousness. In this case, you are correct: it isn’t required.

      My guess is that Silvanus added it to make the clue either slightly easier or just fancied a bit of poetic licence.

      If all clues are stripped back (pun intended), they can make for fairly bland reading.

      Including it makes the clue six words which is pretty short anyway.

      1. Hi Tom,

        Your guess is a very good one in that I added “stage” for a combination of the two reasons you mentioned! RD is quite correct that it isn’t really needed, but I thought, like you, that it enhanced the clue.

        1. I love getting into the minds of compilers.

          I really am in awe of yooz lot.

          I’m sure we can all muster up the occasional clue but to create 25 to 30 of them on a regular basis really is a skill, especially you and your silky, smooth….oh, that alliteration could go on forever.

  7. Heavy snow in darkest Cheshire, cracking puzzle and 13d a new plant for me too, decided to adopt a scatter gun approach to get enough checking letters to help the solve
    Favourite was 12a, could have been lots of others.
    Thanks to SL for the 24a pic ,will play it later.
    Failed to get the quickie pun as my pronunciation of 1a was lacking !
    Going for a ***/****

  8. I thought this was a very clever and beautifully constructed puzzle, full of guile and wit. There were so many excellent clues that picking one seems disingenuous but I will go for 13d for the neatness and misdirection.

    My thanks to our Thursday setter and SL.

  9. A very enjoyable puzzle with a fine lurker, lots of clever anagrams and charades and a sprinkling of General Knowledge to spice things up. I liked 1a, 7d, 11d, 18a and, of course, the geographical clue at 20a . Thanks to SLCfor the hints and to the compiler for a puzzle with just the right degree of challenge for a Thursday.

  10. Great crossword but very hard for my simple solving skills. Managed about three-quarters but then needed Stephen’s excellent pointers to keep me on track. The plant was new to me.

    Seems strange to me that ‘the media’ posits that because Gary Lineker has a viewpoint (I believe his view is not shared by the majority of the UK) then we humble citizens will assume it is also the stance of any broadcasting organisation for whom he works. His sometimes over the top social media posts neither enhance nor take away his ability to host television shows about football. In other words this is all a fuss about nothing (his influence, not the subject matter).

    Thanks to the setter and Stephen Of The Dumnonii.

      1. I can never understand how someone hosting a late night highlights show warrants that much money in the first place.

        1. Let’s face it, MOTD could be presented by a total unknown so long as they were knowledgeable about football, and it would get similar viewing figures – I suggest the vast majority of the audience watch MOTD for the highlights first and foremost, the analysis second, and for the presenters not at all.

  11. A very enjoyable challenge for a ‘guess the setter’ Thursday and my five bob is going on a member of the Friday triumvirate who seems to be a regular ‘stand in’ for Ray T when he is appearing as his alter ego on the ‘inside pager’ – in a word, Silvanus – 2.5*/4.5*

    Candidates for favourite – 10a, 26a, 1d, and 22d – and the winner is 1d.

    Thanks to Silvanus, or whomsoever if it is not he and my five bob goes down the drain, and thanks to Stephen L, especially for the turophilic illustration for 10a.

  12. Too tough for me and needed help with several clues. Never heard of 13D and couldn’t get it with all the checking letters in place.
    ****/**. COTD has to be 7D

  13. A dnf for me. 1a defeated me, once I’d looked that up in the blog, all else flowed but cunning and dastardly misdirection the order of the day in a very fairly clued puzzle. Brain now officially stretched. Thanks to setter and blogger as ever

  14. Much tougher than yesterday, although that one’s probably not a good benchmark to judge by, it being fairly easy. I found 7d a tad tricky too, maybe I was overthinking a relatively straightforward answer. 13d was a new one on me, although I’m always rubbish at plants and flowers in crosswords – botanical clues are my nemesis. All told I finished in my usual-ish time, but it was difficult in parts.

  15. It’s Thursday.
    Took an age to get started.
    But did so, eventually, on the eastern half.
    Thereon steady progress to completion in ** time.
    Smile at 12 and 25a.
    And an even bigger one at the brilliant 13d.
    1a could only be, after the checking letters, what it was.
    Last in, 6a, always a pesky four letter word!
    Many thanks to the setter, Silvanus?, and to StephenL

  16. Tricky indeed, but solvable at a decent lick…except for 6A, which was my last one in. I “get” it, but I didn’t “take” to it at all. 13D was new to me. As plants go, I much prefer 9A. Favorites are 18A and 7D. Thanks to Stephen L and the setter.

    1. As an example of its clue type I thought 6a was very clever and on most other days would have made my podium.

  17. A nice Thursday puzzle with great clues providing a decent challenge and an enjoyable solve. I have ticked a few and will mention 1d. 3*/4*.

    *What the photo for 13d lacks is a speech bubble coming from the plant saying: “Oi – GERROFF!!”

  18. Outstanding. Even though I’m nowhere near green-fingered, I enjoyed the floral theme.

    6a took forever as _a_e gives you a squillion options.

    I give the nod to the plod in 1d as those films were just the best.

    I once met someone whose name was 1a but with an S not a C. She said….”My mum said that it’s pronounced with an s. So, why not?’

    I can give you a thousand reasons why not!

    Thanks to the brains behind this and, of course, SL.


  19. A curate’s egg of a puzzle for me as I looked for a positive note or two afterwards with which to praise the dish. 90% fell swiftly and with no real problems, the last three clues taking as long again. I thought 6a rather vague, likewise the clue structure of 18a, and had never heard of the plant. A scarcity of ticks afterwards emphasised for me how very underwhelming I found it, with mentions only to 16a and 27a.

    2.5* / 1*

    Thanks but sorry, setter, just not for me today; thanks to Stephen.

  20. Just the ticket to take my mind off the current state of play outside the windows. When the low mist lifts a little, the mountains of Snowdonia do look rather pretty but I’m very relieved not to be out there in the freezing temperatures.
    The guile of the anagrams and ‘hiddens’ in this plus the smooth surfaces point towards one of my favourite setters whom I suspect will be along to claim ownership at some point during the day.
    I enjoyed the clever ‘on and off’ in 1a and the allusion to the ‘Carry On’ films in 1d but my podium places went to 12,16&21a plus 3d – probably my favourite. The tooth-sucking Quickie pun rounded things off nicely.

    Many thanks to our setter and to Stephen for the review.

  21. Enjoyable puzzle – thanks to the setter and StephenL.
    I’m not keen on 6a which seems rather ‘same-both-sidey’.
    My podium boasts 1a, 1d and 13d (I didn’t know the plant but the wordplay was excellent).

    1. Hello Gazza, long time no see, I don’t recognise may names so hello to you and RD, my first crossword for a while, hard going to get back into but once the brain got going I almost finished it, my fav clue was 13D, least fav15a and hadn’t heard of the plant at 13d, thanks to StephenL for the ‘help’ today

      1. Hello, Mary.
        Lovely to ‘see’ you again. I hope you’re well. Now that you’ve got back into crosswords I hope that you’ll be commenting on a regular basis.

        1. My intentions to do so are good Gazza!!! But sometimes so busy with ukulele gigs, there isn’t much time for anything else, you were my first mentor when I started doing the telegraph cryptic and at one point it seemed my life revolved around the site and everyone on it, especially the “saturday club’, do people still get put in the naughty corner?????? Hopefully this week is quiet as far as gigs go, so you may see more of me, on another note, my email has been hacked and I need to change it on the site, any ideas how please????

          1. Hi Mary, so good to hear from you again and I’m sure Kath will be equally pleased that you’ve popped in.
            Yes, the naughty corner is still alive and lying in wait for weekend offenders – and CS isn’t being generous with the cake for those who finish up there!
            Don’t know what it is with this ukulele business but I’ve virtually lost two of my friends to it – every time I try to arrange something with them they seem to have a ‘gig’ on their agenda!

            1. Hi Jane, nice to ‘see’ you again, what no cake? things have really slipped! Perhaps too may ending up on the Naughty step!!!
              Ive been using for nearly 6 years now, so much fun, who’d have thought at my age Id have so much fun!!!!!get yourself a uke and join them xx

              1. I assume “using” is the dreaded autocorrect version of “uking”, otherwise the meaning could be completely misconstrued?! :wink:

      2. Good to hear from you again, Mary. We’ve missed your contributions and I endorse Gazza’s hope that you drop in more regularly again.

        1. Hi RD nice to see still contribute too, I think I saw Jezza here too, all blasts from real fun times on the site, as I said to Gazza, I am hoping to come on more often

      3. Hello Mary (and Gazza, Jezza, RD, Jane and a few others too)
        How lovely to see others from such a long time ago,
        I don’t comment very often now for various reasons but I do read the blog, and try to do the crosswords but not every day – it depends a bit on the setters as sometimes I find them too difficult – stupid brain isn’t quite what it was – sometimes is a bit dim!!!
        Anyway xxx to everyone from me,

      4. Mary! What a pleasure. We’ve missed you so much. The last we heard of you, you had just adopted a friend from a shelter, can’t remember his name, I presume you still have him. Look forward to seeing you again.

  22. Clever puzzle today that asked a few questions but on the whole was very fair. 8d was my favourite and 13d I thought was a dreadful clue, far too involved and wordy.
    However that aside it was a very enjoyable solve.
    Thx to all

    1. 13d wordy? There were only 7 words used in the clue. I doubt it could be pared down any further.

  23. Found this tricky in parts & when I saw 2 plant clues, I thought it was going to be GK heavy but it wasn’t that bad.


    Fav 13d LOI 6a

    Thanks to setter and StephenL

  24. A tricky puzzle for this Thursday even though not a RayT.
    Lots of parsing issues with clues, but the bung-ins worked so I’ll take it for what it is.

    2*/3.5* for me.

    Favourites include 1a, 12a, 24a, 25a & 8d with winner 12a

    Thanks to setter and StephenL

  25. Very challenging, but equally enjoyable. Didn’t give up and eventually finished without needing the hints to complete, but did for some of the parsing, particularly 13d which became my favourite once I understood it. Thanks StephenL.

    Thanks to setter for stretching my brain.

  26. Needed Stephen’s hints for the last three, quite enjoyable but with no outstanding clues. Thanks to Stephen and the setter.

  27. Thoroughly enjoyable, especially 10,12a seemed to amuse me. 6a last one in and, dare I say it, I don’t take to it. I did yesterdays toughie in the bath and finished it at breakfast – I really liked 2d – the autopilot, George! Back to today – many thanks to Setter and Hinter.

  28. I found this quite tricky and had to go to the hints for assistance. I thought 13d a clever clue. We had one of the plants when I was young but called it sensitive plant. The south west was my most successful area, with 21a being a favourite.
    It has just started to snow in this part of Cheshire, not settling though. Thankyou Stephen and setter.

    1. Thanks, Bijou, I knew there was another name for 13d but couldn’t bring it to mind. We also had one at home when I was a youngster.

  29. Finally completed with a little help from StephenL especially for understanding the parsing of 2d and 19a, I am still not sure of 6a but see I am not alone. Some very clever clues. I could not get the more common flower out of my head for 13d which made it harder than it should have been, I had not heard of the actual plant. 12a was my favourite.

    After the snow of yesterday we now have persistent rain so glad to be able to do some puzzles in the dry!

    Many thanks to the setter and Stephen L for the great hints.

  30. Many thanks to Stephen for his excellent Hints and Tips (I hope I was the person he suspected) and to everyone else for their comments.

    Like many solvers, I frequently find those “pesky” four-letter words the most difficult from a clueing perspective, so I’m often inclined to make them double definition clues. I take Gazza’s point that there is not a huge gap between the two meanings of 6a, but at least one definition is a verb and the other is a noun so I hope that they are not quite bonded at the hip!

    1. Many thanks for popping in and for another very fine puzzle Silvanus. You were indeed my “primary suspect”

    2. Didn’t peg it as likely one of yours at any stage probably because I was too busy struggling to figure out the answers. Reading back through it though I can see why Stephen, Senf & Jane spotted your fingerprints. Thanks for popping in

    3. Thank you, Silvanus, for the very enjoyable workout. I suspect that I was misled into thinking of another setter because of the absence of X’s. So good to have you and Mr T together again on a Thursday.

  31. A bit overrated on the enjoyment front for me . Flowers one’s never heard of – 13d- don’t understand 18a and dual answers for 6a detract from what was otherwise ok . Very often when solvers struggle – as evidently some did from the comments above – the answer is that the clues are not that good or too clever by half .

  32. Its been a long time since I was on the site, I know Dave had been very unwell but don’t know how he’s doing now???????

    1. We’ve only heard from him ‘officially’ once, on the blog’s birthday, but I think the best answer to your question is probably ‘struggling on’. A very capable bunch of caretakers (Mr.K, CS & Gazza) are currently running the site on his behalf and making an excellent job of it.
      Why don’t you send him an e-mail, I’m sure he’d be pleased to hear from you.

    2. I think he’s in touch with CS (and possibly others too – maybe Gazza but not sure who else)
      I really think the general feeling of the blog is different – I certainly notice the difference anyway.
      I remember your dogs (beagles – Angel and Shadow – hope I’ve got their names right!

      1. I agree with you, Kath. The blog has changed since The Big Man has not been around. Mind you, I do think the blog still has heart. 🙂

      2. hi Kath, thanks for reply, yes you got the names right, now we have Cai who is such a lovely boy cross beagle fox hoound, I think Dave put a pic of him on the site for me a few years back, I don’t know why my “face’ has changed from my little dog ???? Im about to attempt todays crossword now
        found yesterdays reeky hard!!!!! Hope all well in your world xx

  33. Just the 13d flower that eluded me. Can see it now but agree with Brian (22). More clunky than wordy thou as didn’t feel clue flowed. Also never heard the orangutan shortened but apparently it is a thing. 🤷🏻‍♂️Thanks to both.

  34. Definitely needed a bit more thinking compared to today’s toughie.
    Lovely challenge.
    Thanks to Silvanus and to StephenL for the review.

  35. After a carefree beginning to the week I thought this was going to be a killer but in fact its bite was worse than its bite and it gradually came together with the South getting there first. Not sure where I have been ‘cos I’ve never come across 10a lawyer. 18a was tricky to parse. Presumably our own Busy Lizzie identified with 13d which I needed MrG to sort out for me. A satisfying challenge with which to get to grips. Thank you to the self-revealed Silvanus and to StephenL for lurking in case of need.

  36. I always struggle with Silvanus but I seemed to do this one a little more easily with copious ehelp. I DNF, I couldn’t get 6a and can’t spend any more time on this. The Heather in 12a and wine at 1a helped a lot, then 21a, those seemed to open it up for me. Fave was 13d, as I said above, it’s a weed in Jamaica and we call it shame-me-lady. We loved making it close up as kids!
    Thank you Silvanus, and thanks for your invaluable help StephenL to understand most of this.

  37. Good evening
    Halfway through today’s shift and the back pager is done – with help, however. I needed Dr Google to confirm the plant names in 9a and 13d; and I needed StephenL of this parish to help me with the reasoning behind 1a and 18a.
    Thanks StephenL and thanks to our compiler.

  38. I love it when an answer is so obviously right I can have fall confidence in penning it in. Alas there weren’t many of them today, at least not for me. But I am clearly having an off day, having missed the 17d lurker, and failed to solve the 9a anagram. As an avid gardener, I should hang my head in shame on the latter. Truly, I have never heard of the 13d plant. We just had stinging nettles and their dock leaves antidote in our woods when I was a child. But a good brain work out.

    Have not seen Steve Cowling on here for a few days? I do hope he is Ok.

    1. Hi, BL. Thank you for your concern but, as Merusa says, I’m marking essays. Not only that, Mrs C has a number of important hospital appointments. We saw a consultant dermatologist today about Mrs C’s very nasty itching skin. She was brilliant and, hopefully, we now have a strategy to get it sorted.

  39. I found this harder than the Beam toughie which I didn’t find easy. I guessed the answer to 13d then reverse engineered it having checked it actually existed. 4d took an embarrassingly long time to solve considering I worked on one for most of my working life before it was superseded by CAD which did a lot of harm to my eyes. 6a my last in. Cotd was the irritatingly difficult 22d. Thanks to Silvanus and SL.

  40. I’ve never heard of the flower. The only “me not” I know is “forget” but you live and learn. I managed two thirds before having to take Mrs C to see a consultant dermatologist at the Royal Shrewsbury Hospital. Not easy with the snow in The Marches. So, yet again, my time with the backpager has been curtailed but that is not an issue. Mrs C comes first.

    Thank you to the setter and SL.

  41. Late to the puzzle party today- 4*/ 3* for me
    Toughest backpager of the week so far and by far. 17d wins the Slur Kermit lurker of the week competition and was my pick of the bunch today
    Thanks to Silvanus and to SL

  42. Sheer misery. I know some on this forum are seasoned solvers and relish the arcane but there are newcomers who need to be encouraged. You experts have the Toughie.

    1. Hi LS

      If all of the crosswords were for newcomers, the paper risks losing the seasoned solvers (nice alliteration by your good self) which would be a great shame.

      Mondays and Tuesdays most certainly cater for the rookies with Wednesday being the next rung on the ladder. A good challenge.

      The last two of the week – the dark side – tend to be tough. But, I would say that, if the stars aligned, one in three could be within reach for the newbies. I think this is why Mr Lancaster has so many compilers for the end of the week as one maybe smack bang on your wavelength.

      It’s a long journey but see it as a challenge.

      I hope you take my comments as encouraging not patronising.

      Forgive me if it’s the latter.

      Right, to quote Tony ‘Great!’ Webster from Reggie Perrin, I’m off to Zedsville, Arizona.

    2. LS
      I am a newbie, having only been here for a few weeks, the lovely bloggers and other people who comment on here have been nothing but helpful to me in helping me improve. As you know they do not set the crosswords but it is good to see the setters drop on to see feedback and I am sure they take on board peoples views but you can’t please everyone. My tip is to not lose heart but maybe reset your expectations, this stops a feeling of disappointment. I start every crossword (including easy days) with the aim of doing a few clues, I am then extremely pleased if I get over half way and ecstatic if I finish it unaided (very rare). When it is difficult, which if you read the comments as I do, you will often see that others who I consider real experts often also struggle with certain clues or areas of knowledge. I am amazed that any crossword can be written to a certain level as I certainly find that apart from the way clues are written there is also the general knowledge required which most of us will not have in all areas. In addition there are the personal factors that influence success eg.having a clear head, being able to go away and come back several times and being on the wavelength of the setter are all important. When I learn a new word/synonym/technique I see that as education. Forgive me if I am stating the obvious but I too have had days when I just can’t get started but I try not to let that defeat me.

    3. I couldn’t agree more. When the Cryptic is gentle, on most days there is the Toughie for those capable of sterner stuff. But on the days when the Cryptic is OTT, there is nowhere for us lesser mortals to go.

  43. What alot of comments to plough through. Harder than last few days but doable without hints and aids. I put mate for 2d which made a mess but I righted in. I took it out of intimate. Once I had the right checkers I got 1a. Just couldn’t think of the wine. It used to be very popular but shortlived. Favourites 19 25 and 26a. Themis to Sylvanus and Stephen. Love to Mary and Kath and to any others who have not been here for a long time. I am here but always late. Too busy tweeting, How I miss our birthday gatherings.

  44. Quite difficult for me. Favourites were 4d and 14a. Touch me not defeated me , although I got” me not” Good mental exercise for an octogenarian (me)

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