DT No 30363 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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DT No 30363

Daily Telegraph Cryptic No 30363

Hints and tips by StephenL

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

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

Good morning everyone from a grey and gloomy South Devon coast

I found today’s puzzle somewhat trickier than the average Thursday back-pager and I’ve reflected this in the rating. There’s a lot of clever stuff in there. I know who didn’t set it but I’m not sure who did. It may be the work of our former Tuesday blogger.

Please leave a comment telling us what you thought.


1a Holiday little bit warmer? (7)
WHITSUN: A word meaning the least bit or iota plus a whimsical reference to the yellow ball in the sky (distinctly lacking here at the moment!)

5a Take little dog round on ship for exercise (5-2)
PRESS-UP: Place an abbreviated little or young dog around a preposition meaning on and the usual two letters for on board a ship

9a Dispenser of milk shake Juliet refused (5)
UDDER: A synonym of shake or vibrate without the abbreviation for Juliet.

10a Hard nut in bizarre accident (3-3-3)
HIT-AND-RUN: Anagram (bizarre) of the preceding three words.

11a Drink and drive conveying a tense playwright (10)
DRAMATURGE: A small quantity of drink (associated with whisky) and a synonym of drive in the sense of push or spur go round A from the clue and the abbreviation for Tense.

12a Island of no great length? (4)
INCH: This may refer to a small island in Lough Swilly off the north coast of Ireland which shares it’s name with a short imperial measure of length but it’s also a Scottish name for a small island.

14a Duck fine among bats endangered in paradise (6,2,4)
GARDEN OF EDEN: Insert the letter representing a duck in cricket and the abbreviation for Fine into an anagram (bats) of ENDANGERED

18a An opening hotel missed housing odd associate (12)
ACQUAINTANCE: A(n) from the clue and a synonym of an opening or opportunity without the abbreviation for Hotel go around (housing) a synonym of odd or twee.

21a Soldiers capturing American base (4)
MEAN: A generic name for some soldiers goes around (capturing) the abbreviation for American. Base here is an adjective.

22a Police almost there crashed aircraft (10)
HELICOPTER: Anagram (crashed) of POLIC(e) missing its last letter (almost) and THERE.

25a Second time heretic becomes bigoted (9)
SECTARIAN: Abbreviations for SECond and Time are followed by a Christian heretic or supporter of Arius.

26a Goodness found in an oak seed (5)
ACORN: Insert an exclamation of surprise into AN from the clue.

27a Small turtle leaving soft ground (7)
TERRAIN: Remove the single-letter musical abbreviation for soft from a small turtle.

28a Bird colony in castle by eastern railway (7)
ROOKERY: Put together the chess piece that looks like a castle, the abbreviation for Eastern and that for a RailwaY.


1d Coiled snake for a start causes injury (6)
WOUNDS: A synonym of coiled and the initial letter (for a start) of Snake.

2d Funding raised in hotel restaurant? (6)
INDIAN: Place a reversal (raised) of a synonym of funding or help into a three-letter hotel.

3d Extraordinary as Grail heldby him? (3,7)
SIR GALAHAD: Anagram (extraordinary) of AS GRAIL plus a synonym of held giving a nice extended definition

4d 2 Down leader once lifted helium-filled vessel (5)
NEHRU: Insert the chemical symbol of HElium into a vessel usually containing a dead person’s ashes and reverse the result (lifted in a down clue)

5d Secretary off again to arid tableland (9)
PATAGONIA: The two-letter abbreviation for a secretary or Personal Assistant plus an anagram (off) of AGAIN TO.

6d Constant smoker’s Greek character touring north (4)
ETNA: Place the seventh letter of the Greek alphabet around (touring) the abbreviation for North.

7d Still holding an old penny piece (8)
SERENADE: Place an adjective meaning still or calm around (holding) A(n) from the clue and the single-letter abbreviation for an old penny. Here’s a great “piece”

8d Liking to write slogan (8)
PENCHANT: A three-letter synonym of write followed by slogan or rallying cry.

13d A heartless romance and trouble for lover (10)
AFICIONADO: Put together A from the clue, a synonym of romance in the sense of story without its middle letter (heartless) and a three-letter synonym of trouble.

15d Daughter Ann holding up drunk gets a wine (9)
DANDELION: Start with the abbreviation for Daughter, add Ann from the clue into which is inserted a reversal (holding up) of a synonym of drunk as a verb.

16d Maestro out to cage minute monkey (8)
MARMOSET: Anagram (out) of MAESTRO placed around the single-letter abbreviation of Minute (in the sense of time).

17d Panda one of four young in pit (5,3)
SQUAD CAR: An insertion of an abbreviated “one of four children” placed inside a pit or pockmark. Not sure they are referred to as this anymore?

19d Foil lining trays too generously (6)
STOOGE: Hidden (lining) in the clue

20d Distilled product of unknown make? (6)
BRANDY: If we split the solution 5,1 we have a synonym of make plus a mathematical unknown

23d Topless Victor becomes intimate (5)
INNER: Remove the first letter from a synonym of victor. Ignore the false capitalisation in the clue.

24d Soldier dropping in standard initially achieved (4)
PARA: A three-letter synonym of standard (think golf) and the initial letter of achieved. The “dropping” refers to his role.

9a gets my vote today. Which ones did you like?

Quickie Pun:  Venice + Wailer = Venezuela

120 comments on “DT No 30363

  1. I never thought I would say this ever but I found the Toughie easier than today’s back pager. I did not get on with it at all and needed far too much help from Mr. G.

    Sorry but not my cup of tea.

    Thank you for your efforts Miss Tree Setter but I simply could not get on wavelength. Thank you for the hints, StephenL.

    1. I think someone’s playing games with us Steve. Yesterday”s Toughie was also vastly easier than the backpager.

  2. Don’t care who ses wot, that was more like a toughie than a even the toughest of toughies!
    Had to check the last one in (11a) was actually a proper word, as have never heard of it before (is it in common use, or something out of Dickens?)
    Anyway it took two (long) stabs at this, with the pleasure of dismantling the sink U-bend in between. Like to see who the setter is on this one, great fun anyway, and always good to learn summat new.

    1. But the question everyone wants to know is did you find the angrier earring you were looking for?

        1. Sorry just an attempt at humour over the “Bent out of Shape” being an Americanism for the earring anagram angrier from yesterday and the U bend being deliberately bent. I know not particularly funny but beer had been consumed

          1. Wow, that’s more cryptic than any crossword clue I’ve ever encountered, I’m guessing a good amount of beer to see that one!

  3. A veryclever, difficult guzzle, with wily misdirection and some magnificent hidden anagrams. It was the anagrams that helped me to get into it, otherwise I’d still be staring blankly at the grid now . There were some good lego clues too. Its difficult to pick out just a few clues but I liked the geographical clue at 5d, the anagram at 14a and the lego clues at 18a and 11a. 4d held me up for a bit, with the strange combination of letters and link to 2d , very clever, once the penny dropped. Rthanks to SLfor the hints and to the compiler. The clever anagrams could point to Silvanus but I’m not sure enough to put 5cbob onit.

    1. I agree – I haven’t finished it yet and have to dash off for the funeral of one of our Almshouse ladies, but what a clever, fiendish guzzle. Can’t wait to get back to it. 9a ! 10a!

  4. A 4 yesterday and it seemed to me a harder 4 yet, today, so two heavy lifts!
    Struggled but got there unaided and relieved to see that others suffered too!
    11a is a new word to me?
    Thanks to setter.

  5. Testingly brilliant. I’m not quite sure who this is but it felt very fresh so I have an idea and, right or wrong, I’m a fan. In Toughie territory, certainly, but hey, it’s a Thursday. Too many favourites to list but, for me, 13D stands out, largely because I’ll never again forget how to spell it! Huge thanks to all.

  6. I think this run of **** ratings is down to the fact that too many puzzles have been rated **. For some reason setters don’t seem to be able to set *** . I have managed to do them but have not found much to enjoy.

  7. Quite a head scratcher for a guess the setter on a non-Ray T Thursday and my half crowns are staying deep in my pocket – 4.5*/2.5*

    Candidates for favourite – 26a, 15d, and 19d – and the winner is 15d, another glass? I don’t mind if I do.

    Thanks to the setter and StephenL.

  8. I’m not sure who set this one but I thought it about right for a Thursday. I did write ‘chestnut’ by 27a and ‘RD’ by 28a

    Thanks to the setter and StephenL

    1. I’m intrigued now as to why RD would comment about 28a in particular and await with interest – it seems entirely fair and accurate to me!

      1. Even Wikipedia agrees with RD!
        “The term ‘castle’ is considered to be informal, incorrect, or old-fashioned”.

        I’m not such a purist myself..

      1. The late BD put it to bed back in 2017 (after a long campaign by myself and others):

        Big Dave
        February 26, 2017 at 4:29 pm
        Welcome to the blog Mark

        The bottom line is that, whatever the purists think, castle = rook = castle in crossword terms.

  9. Apart from getting really stuck in the NW corner (is 11a really a word?!), I sailed through this one. I sensed it was challenging, but I quickly aligned my fusty solving skills to the setter’s misdirections. Yes, it was tough, but refreshingly so.

  10. As someone who doesn’t really like anagrams I was very grateful for them today. I don’t think I would have got started without them. I did think that some of the synonyms were somewhat elastic, but I suppose that’s what makes a clever clue. Quite a lot of reverse engineering today but I did manage to parse most of them. I was confused by having too many letters in the 3d anagram and needéd a trip to the hints to see the error of my ways. I’ve never heard of 11a, my LOI, and thought I was looking for an actual playwright. Lots of marks on my paper today with podium places going to 9a, 15d and my favourite 18a. Thanks to the compiler ( I need a lie down in a darkened room now!) and StephenL for helping me sort out the NW corner.

  11. A very good crossword indeed, and I think I spent as long on my last 5 clues in the NW as on the rest of the puzzle combined. Good Thursday/Friday backpage fare.

    Glancing at the first few across & down clues I changed tack and started in the S, which I found very much more accessible and making for a reasonably rapid solve up to that tricky NW corner. Some of the clueing was a little repetitive and there were a few old friends, but so much was achieved with considerable precision and flair, with generally great surface reads.

    At the end I found I’d marked ticks aplenty and it’s been hard narrowing the selection down to just three – 14a, 15d, & 19d.

    3.5* / 3.5*

    Many thanks to the mystery setter, and also to Stephen of course.

  12. I’m another who found this a bit tougher than our official Toughie but it is very enjoyable – thanks to our setter and SL.
    I have masses of ticked clues including 1a, 5a, 21a, 26a and 13d.

  13. Another two toughies day. The editor might be able to explain the difference in difficulty level between this toughie and the Toughie, but I suspect it would be academic to me. Perhaps the DT isn’t intended to offer anything for newcomers or people who want an offering that’s light entertainment, except maybe occasionally on a Monday. But I was under the impression that the back-pager is supposed to increase in difficulty steadily across the week, only reaching ** Toughie level on a Friday (although it seems a bit odd that there’s no Toughie on a Monday for the elite solvers – if there’s only going to be 4 Toughies a week, arguably they’d be better appearing Mon-Thurs). I did manage about 2/3 of this one though, albeit quite often guessing and working backwards or checking the encyclopaedia, etc. Had no chance with 11a though. Thanks StephenL for the hints.

    1. Hi Mark – including the Sunday Toughie there are five, all told. On Saturdays and Mondays it always feels as though solvers are short-changed, having only one cryptic to tackle, but at least via this site there is also very generously the NTSPP on Saturday, and the Rookie Corner puzzle on Monday (Rookie being the setter, not the solver).

      Your requests for a Quickie Cryptic (such as appears in The Times) would possibly fall on more fertile ground if emailed to the puzzles editor, Chris Lancaster. I rather suspect the DT’s defence will be that they also offer the (rather ghastly, third-rate and not ‘proper’ cryptic UK crosswords at all) Cross Atlantic puzzles online for solvers to get their teeth into!

      1. Thanks Mustafa. I didn’t include the weekend offerings as I don’t think they fit into the ‘increasing difficulty programme’ and, I think, strictly speaking, Mon-Fri is the DT, whereas at the weekend there’s the Saturday and Sunday Telegraph.

        I haven’t sensed much support for a quick cryptic on here, so I’m not sure there’s any point in emailing Chris Lancaster. The Times has one but would be another subscription, and I am not sure that I want two subscriptions. Which to choose? This one has this great blog, but the back pager seems increasingly inaccessible.

        1. It’s all cyclical, Mark – a week or three where the middle is harder than usual is just one of those things. Not too long ago we had a run where Monday to Thursday each week seemed to be pretty light and untesting. But the assessment of difficulty is entirely subjective – maybe the Setter &/or Ed. found the puzzle less or more challenging than many commenters subsequently decided it to be.

          Stick with it, and on days where it doesn’t ‘flow’ try different tactics – maybe start in the S, or by “going up the Downs”, or by looking for anagrams and lurkers until you’ve got a few letters in place on which to build further answers. And then head for the hints here. As I and many others have said, frequently, persistence plus this wonderful site will rapidly improve your solving skills.

          Personally I think the crosswords in the two papers are of very different styles so, as the DT is rather too right wing for me I have a full subscription to The Times (£26/m exc. Sunday hard copy), and a Puzzles-Only subscription to the DT (c.£30/year). I miss the DT’s sports coverage but it’s a price worth paying!

          1. Thanks Mustafa. I might try the Times puzzle site for a month, maybe. They’re offering a trial for £1 which won’t break the bank. I have had the odd go at the Times back pager and agree that the back-page puzzles in the Times and DT are different styles. I prefer the DT style. I have been trying the FT crossword which is free, but I find that and the Times difficult. So I’d be subscribing just for the quick cryptic.

            And thanks for the tips. I do scan around for clues I can answer with some certainty, such as anagrams and lurkers. I think it is key to me to identify what is the definition and what is the word play (perhaps obviously, but it isn’t always straightforward!). That can lead to establishing letters in words if the whole word is elusive, or even guessing the word (particularly if there’s favourable word structure). I would like to say that I learn things from the crosswords, but for example, 11a is likely of no future use to me and I’ll probably forget it! That is unless I were to find myself in a conversation about the theatre in France, where 11a is the word for playwright (and possibly easier than saying ‘l’auteur dramatique’), which I imagine is where the English lexicon got it from.

    2. It does make one wonder what is going on. One setter explained a while ago that they are just asked to provide a crossword, and have no idea or control as to where it ends up. That is up to the editor. So for reasons unknown, the DT seems intent on ignoring the less than Mensa solvers. Disappointing after very many years of enjoyment,

      1. Yes, it does make me wonder what the long term strategy is. As Mustafa says, I don’t think the Cross Atlantic is really on the same path as the back pager. Why do people start doing crosswords, I wonder? I am guessing that the elite code breakers might just have a go and like it, but a lot of people used to introduce their friends and colleagues to them, and probably still do at least to some extent. They might have done these things as a sort of social thing or perhaps say to avoid talking to nutters on the train. But nowadays, people work from home more and buy fewer paper papers, so might perhaps be less likely to do the crossword on the train or with colleagues in the office. I suspect long term there needs to be an accessible offering that busy people will just have a go at on the spur and actually enjoy. I suspect that may be a reason why the Times offers a quick cryptic.

          1. Mind you that is sometimes harder than their Monday cryptic & frequently every bit as, if not more, challenging than a Campbell guzzle

        1. I wasn’t going to comment today I’m so disgusted. The total disregard for the average solver is cavalier. I have been doing the crossword forever, I’m 85 and my Dad introduced me to them in my teens. I’ve always enjoyed them, and I remember when the DT introduced the Toughie, which was welcomed by the intelligentsia, but where is the puzzle for less talented readers? You’re right Mark. I used to do the Times, why not try again, I wonder? Can’t be worse than this.

  14. After several years learning to get on Ray Ts wavelength, I now look forward to Thursdays, but that was tough! Another setter that I’ll have to try and fathom. I liked 11a – didn’t know the word, but one to add to my little crib book. Thanks to StephenL for explaining all my bung ins, and the setter. A quick lie down is now needed 🤣

    1. This wasn’t Ray T, Lanzalily. He is on Toughie duty as Beam. It is a good puzzle as well so do have a look at it.

  15. Where’s Ray T? Did not like this one at all. Couldn’t get a foothold so gave up. Not enjoyable.
    5* 1*
    Thanks Stephen L and setter?

    1. Ray T has provided the Toughie today in his Beam persona. Do have a go at it – it’s really no more difficult than his back-page puzzles (but remember that Beam doesn’t ‘do’ anagrams).

  16. Wah! Wah! WAH! What the devil is going on. This is the fifty-seventh day in a row of mega-toughies in the regular cryptic slot. I have already drafted letters of complaint using the very finest green ink, and addressed them to His Majesty The King, Mr Sunak, Mr Lancaster, and David Beckham.

    Dear Sinead – a troubled soul, and a very likeable woman.

    Thanks to the setter and Dharma of The South Dumnonii

    1. If you really want something to be done about Toughies in back page slots you should write to the man who has an opinion on everything and will share it with you whether you like it or not – Gary Lineker!

  17. As ever when I am struggling I look on to see what Steve C has said as I usually find I am on his wavelength.

    I found this really tricky to get into but have got to within 4 of the end. I did not know the word in 11a or the man in 4d so I have learnt something. I will use the hints later to help complete this which at least means I learn along the way.

    Many thanks to the setter and to Stephen L whose help I will need later.

  18. A real mixed bag for me with not a lot that made me smile. Put me down as another who hadn’t previously come across 11a – strange word.
    Top three here were 26a plus 8&20d.

    Thanks to our setter and to Stephen for the review.

  19. Really good challenge and very enjoyable. Just like yesterday I got held up for a long time by a few interconnecting clues, this time in the NW corner, where for ages I had little but the famous knight. And then suddenly it all fell into place. Hard work but very fair, or so I thought…..

  20. Eek! What a struggle and thank you to my fellow Devonian for the confirmatory hints to assure my guesses were correct. *****/** by my standards which I accept are not the highest. Having said all that it did benefit the Bedford Hotel extra coffee costs😳. My favourites were 9&21a and 17d the latter not the hardest by any means but my COTD. Thank you SL and our accomplished setter.

  21. Took a while to get into it today, but then a number of the anagrams clicked and I got going, until I ground to a halt again in the NW corner and needed the hints. Had never heard of 11a, like quite a few others. Much to enjoy until I got stuck though – faves 22a 5d and 8d, top to 22a.
    Thanks to the setter, and StephenL for the help today.

  22. Really rather difficult for a back page. I, too, had to check 11a was really a word and,sadly, how old fashioned seems 1a,
    I loved 15d for its sheer audacity. Does anyone now drink and enjoy it? I seem to remember my grandmother made a parsnip wine I enjoyed but I was very very young!

  23. Yet another puzzle today that seems of similar ilk to Wednesday’s, with awkward parsing and convoluted clues. 11a I have never heard of.
    Overall this was once again not my cuppa and given that Friday’s have been really hard recently, I just may give it miss until Saturday comes around.

    4*/2* for me today

    Favourites from the sensible clues for me were 10a, 27a, 28a, 17d & 20d with winner 20d

    Thanks to setter and StephenL

    1. I’m looking forward to tomorrow’s rating. As the most difficult of the week, it’ll have to be *****. Ever thought you’d see a backpager with that rating?

  24. Hmm. Another difficult it one, but got through in one long breakfast instead of the usual 2 meal toughies! Almost total blank on the first pass! Funnily enough got 4d before 2d, both being associated with
    my birthplace, so they must be today’s faves. Did know 11a and had fun getting the right (e-less) parsing for 3d.

  25. Thought I should just give up after first read-through, but glad I persevered. Thanks to Stephen L for hints – only needed 3 in the end, but many more required for parsing.

    Am in two minds as to whether I enjoyed it or not, but thanks to the setter anyway!

  26. Another challenging one to follow yesterday’s. They’re warming us up for fiendish Friday.

    Very fairly clued but it made me dig deep.

    11a is a truly bonkers word and 19d is a very satisfying one.

    Difficult to choose a podium as there were so many good surfaces but I’ll go with 5a, 10a and 14a.

    Many thanks to SL and compiler.


  27. I am going to go against the grain here, but I did not find this difficult, merely tricky in places. It certainly got the old brainbox working overtime, but it was fairly clued all round, with 14a a favourite.

    Thanks to our setter for a great challenge, and to SL.

  28. Pretty tricky today – got there in the end but had to look at the hints later to see how I did it. Thanks to the mystery setter and SL.

  29. Life is too short for this type of puzzle. Not helped by the fact that my subscription renewed today, and I have now lost access to the old puzzle site. Really do not like the new site, as the print up from there is in really small print. Seems the DT doesn’t give a hoot about its older subscribers, such as those of us who have been doing these puzzles 40+ years. I struggle with Ray T puzzles, but would much rather have found one of his here today. Yesterday the Toughie was far easier than the back pager, and I’ve just read that the same applies. What is going on? I really feel like cancelling right now.

      1. I can access. But it says “Thank you for your interest. You can access one puzzle a day or subscribe to puzzles”? I am fully subscribed to Digital Plus, but as of today’s renewal I have run into this road block. I have emailed the DT and hoping that can fix. I do so prefer the old site.

        1. I came across that message too BL when trying to access the Sunday Toughie – which is the only time I ever bother to access the DT puzzles site as it’s not for some reason in the digital paper content. I just kept trying & eventually got it. Like you I can’t abide the new site & the vanishing clues.

      2. I , and I expect other bloggers too, will really miss the old site when it goes as it is much more solver friendly, not least it updates at midnight on the dot and UK bloggers at least need the headstart

        1. The new site usually updates at midnight on the dot (or sometimes before) when I use the iOS app (I recall the website was buggy on that but it could have been to do with the browser / browser settings I was using). The app had updated 13 minutes before midnight the other day!

          By the way Lizzie, if you press print on the iPad you get a pdf to print. If you turn the iPad sideways, the pdf and all the clues re-orientate into landscape, and the clues get a bit bigger. Not sure if that’s an option you could try.

          1. I’ll keep checking but the new site has not been available to this android/pc user at midnight, even so I will still miss the freebie 5 hints or the submit to check progress facility

            1. On the other hand those crosswords I solve for my own entertainment are generally better on the new site, better fonts and easier to read and the fact that progress is autosaved has helped too

            2. On the new site there’s reveal letter, reveal word, and reveal solution options on the non-prize puzzles. There’s also check letter, check word, and check grid options for the non-prize puzzles.

  30. Oh dear – I’m not doing too well at the moment.
    Couldn’t do yesterday even a tiny bit, today isn’t much better and I know that I can’t do Fridays so that makes three days in a row.
    Bring on Saturday – or rapidly give up completely . . .

    1. Don’t give up Kath. There will be a good back pager sooner or later. Editor, please take note. Who knows, Gary Lineker might be a keen cruciverbalist and take up the isaue of the DT back page Toughieish puzzles!

    2. There’s a lot more of us who are not doing too well this week Kath. If it were not for all the lovely people on this blog I would be seriously considering throwing in the towel.

        1. Hey, all! Please don’t any of you think of leaving the blog! You would all be missed greatly and, anyway, tomorrow is another day. So we’ve had a run of tough ones. We have before. I never worry about it or moan that I am not being catered for. We are British! We can take it!

          Er .. some of us are British!

              1. Thanks SC – I thought I knew and indeed loved all the Flanders & Swann songs via “At the Drop of a Hat” etc. but I think this is a new one on me.

  31. Oh dear … starting to lose remaining confidence with these recent backpagers … but some of today’s clues really are clever … eg the panda. Thank you setter and SL

  32. A rare poster of comments , I am posting to say this was beast and had to rely on big Dave for a lot thanks for that . is 4stars the max

  33. I found this very difficult especially NW corner 11a ???? 🤔 ****/*** Favourites 9a, 6d and 7d 😃 Never thought I would ever say this but “Bring back Ray T!” Thanks very much to Stephen L for the explanations and to the Compiler 😬 Really liked the phrase in the Quicky 👍

  34. Heavy reliance on
    Checking letters enabled an
    Unaided completion, albeit
    In 4* time
    Misdirections abound. Smiled at the
    Cunning 11a and thought 18a an
    Absolute gem.
    Perhaps 1a was much less known
    By our younger brethren..
    Many thanks to the setter and StephenL.

  35. Well, after all these years I am doing the crossword on the day of issue, so I can add my thoughts. I love the DT cryptic crossword with all its varying levels of difficulty and ask that there is no change of policy or style.
    I am only annoyed by myself when I fail, not by the setter. I found this wonderful website a few years ago, and so many contributors feel like old friends, even though they do not know I exist. I do not have great expectations of joining you all regularly, as my crosswords lurk at my bedside to present a welcome challenge the following morning.
    Bless you all, my unseen friends.

    1. Thank you and well said Pip.
      I, too, pray there will be no change.
      Their present mix of easy and hard only serves to improve my solving ability.
      Thanks, also, the DT and all involved in the crosswords.

  36. Thanks to the setter and to StephenL for the review and hints. Might as well have been a Toughie, way beyond my pay grade. Not much fun at all.

  37. A really excellent Thursday puzzle. Great clues, a good challenge and a very pleasing tussle. Fav: 13d. 4*/4.5*.

    *28a. No problem at all with castle = that chess piece. Castle is a very common alternative name, especially amongst children and non-chess players/enthusiasts. I’ll just c/p what I said in 2017:

    February 24, 2017 at 12:11 pm
    9a. Well done G for correctly using castle as an alternative name for rook (the official/technical term), although nowadays it is probably regarded as old-fashioned, informal or colloquial. It is listed in:

    * The SOED.
    * The online Oxford Living Dictionaries.
    * The Oxford Companion to Chess.
    * Some others.

    February 25, 2017 at 10:09 am
    Castle is absolutely an alternative name for a rook, and has been since the 19th century. It is regularly used by Giovanni and many other setters (and allowed by crossword editors). It is listed as such in the reference books given above, including the SOED – probably the highest authority of all. On a recent episode of The Chase was the question: “How many castles does each player have at the start of a chess game?”. And the reason it was phrased so was because most members of the non-chess enthusiast general public (including quiz contestants) would readily recognise castle rather than rook. Just for the record, I am an absolute chess fanatic and would never dream of calling a rook a castle – but that’s simply not the point.

  38. Well I’ve enjoyed reading the comments (where’s Brian’s though?)every bit as much completing (eventually at the 3rd attempt) the guzzle. Most yielded (in between teeing golfers off) without too much difficulty until the impenetrable brick wall that was 5 clues in the NW. Left it until back home & had another look but still no light bulb. After a late afternoon doze the penny dropped with the ?s (definition by example) & the dominos fell one after t’other – 4d felled 2d toppling 1a then 3d. 11a (unfamiliar needless to say) wobbled a wee bit before it keeled over, the vowel checkers having given the wordplay away. Clearly Stephen’s ‘somewhat trickier than average’ difficulty assessment wide of the mark for many but I thought it very fairly clued & 11a aside pleasingly free of obscurity. 13d my runaway fav with ticks for 1,9&18a plus 2/4 combo,17&19d.
    Thanks to the setter (reckon our reviewer’s hunch a distinct possibility) & to Stephen – am listening to The Shins who kind of passed me by.

    1. I stumbled upon them quite recently and was intrigued so listened to a few tracks and really enjoyed them. I particularly liked the one I put up, I find it slightly hypnotic.

    2. Brian is crouched in a corner foaming at the mouth! 😤😤😤

  39. It is obvious to me the crossword editor either does not read the feedback here or, chooses to ignore it. Neither scenario is good.

    A dnf due to the NW corner.

    The first part of 1a has not been used by any human in 100 years. I am also not a fan of clues that refer to other clues. That meant 2d and 4d were out of reach for me.

    The less said about 11a the better.

    Please do not take my comments as a dig as the setter. Their genius at being able to craft this crossword is in no doubt. I just feel the editor should have made it a toughie.

    Thanks to all.

    1. I see no reason why Mr. Lancaster should monitor this forum, Bananawarp. It is not an official feedback platform for DT puzzles.

      1. Interesting to hear that the significant number of DT crossword solvers here are of no importance to the crossword editor.

        What channels does the editor pay attention to? Surely almost everyone here pays for the ability to do the crossword. The fact that our opinions count for nothing is somewhat galling.

  40. After yesterday’s escaped toughie and dnf unaided I was hoping for an easier ride today. In the main it was until it wasn’t, the NE being the culprit. Without 2d 4d was nigh on unsolvable and vice versa and what 11a is doing in a back pager I’ve no idea, I had to check it was a real word. Any road up at least I managed to finish it. Whinge over. Hard work but done. Favourite was 18a. Thanks to the setter and SL.

  41. Not one for the short trousered solver. Not sure if the Pinot Gris helped.

  42. Approached this with much apprehension having seen comments (but no hints!) regarding difficulty. I really shouldn’t do that. Turned out to be very enjoyable with some fab clues, all slotting in until that blasted top-left corner… Got 1d wrong (for some unknown reason thought s+curvy was an injury 🙄🙄), but once I had that with 1a thanks to the blog, everything else slotted in apart from 11a. Even with seven of the ten letters filled in I had no idea. Sorry but I just don’t think it was a good clue, nor 12a which I put in but cannot fathom for the life of me. 5d 15d and 17d were my faves of many good clues and all raised a smile 😁

    1. I agree 12a is obscure, AgentB but Stephen has explained the obscurity in his hints.
      I have never heard of it.

      1. Well I certainly didn’t expect to wake up this morning and improve my knowledge of Donegal 😁🤓 Looks a nice place.

  43. I know most people will have moved on, but can recommend the toughie today.

    I did as well as with the backpager today, with a few needing the hints, but I enjoyed this solve more.

    Thanks to all.

    1. Agreed – a lovely quick pre lights out solve & as Gazza said earlier not much harder, if at all, than lis back-pagers. Oh & much easier than the cryptic

  44. *****/** I solved more than I expected but with a lot of assistance. There is no pleasure in struggling with a challenge that is way beyond one’s pay station. I would have thought that, for us lesser mortals at least, cruceverbalism should be one of the pleasures of the day. Noting the many comments on 11a, I would point out that although this is a word that many of us have probably never heard of, the BRB states quite clearly that the meaning is playwright.Thanks to all.
    PS Where is Brian???

  45. I have only just sat down and attempted this. Did not know dramaturge and missed an easy anagram plus gave up on the wine thinking it would be some make I hadn’t heard of, but I have enjoyed trying to solve it. If **** are allowed for the back page, then I am happy to have a go at them.

        1. I think that’s one of the things Mr K’s working on at the moment now that the site update has been carried out. He’s pretty hot on IT stuff so I have little doubt that he’ll succeed.

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