DT 30141 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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DT 30141

Daily Telegraph Cryptic No 30141

Hints and tips by Mr K

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BD Rating  -  Difficulty ** Enjoyment ****

Hello, everyone, and welcome to Thursday. I believe that a RayT cryptic is the only puzzle where the Telegraph Puzzles editor allows a so-called lift and separate clue, specifically the use of SWEETHEART to mean SWEET HEART = the letter at the centre or heart of SWEET. Many of us recognize that signature device and on Thursdays automatically read sweetheart in wordplay as E. But that approach doesn’t work today, because this fine puzzle contains three quite different sweethearts. It also has two wonderful all-in-one clues.  All that plus smooth surfaces and concise tight wordplay made for a very enjoyable solve. 

In the hints below most indicators are italicized, and underlining identifies precise definitions and cryptic definitions. Clicking on the answer buttons will reveal the answers. In some hints hyperlinks provide additional explanation or background. Clicking on a picture will enlarge it. Please leave a comment telling us how you got on.



1a    Recital isn't ruined with tense musician (12)
CLARINETTIST:  An anagram (ruined) of RECITAL ISN’T with the grammatical abbreviation for tense 

9a    Restore controls facing rubbish European (9)
REINSTATE:  Link together controls a horse, perhaps, some rubbish stuff, and the single letter for European 

10a   Sponge from a sucker taken aback (5)
LOOFA:  A from the clue with a sucker or dupe, all reversed (taken aback

11a   Respect Democrat in a mess (6)
ADMIRE:  The single letter for Democrat inserted in the fusion of A from the clue and a boggy mess

12a   A drug forming rock, perhaps (8)
ASTEROID:  A from the clue with a performance-enhancing drug. Perhaps because the answer might be made of rock or it might be made of something else 

13a   Meadow nourished having new growth? (6)
LEAFED:  A poetic word for meadow followed by a synonym of nourished 

15a   Part of Republican inside rebellious group (8)
FRACTION:  The single letter for Republican inserted in (inside) a rebellious group 

18a   Spread betting odds before final (8)
SPLATTER:  The usual abbreviated betting odds SP = starting price placed before final or near the end 

19a   Extracted from gum, a sticky substance (6)
MASTIC:  The wordplay tells us that the answer is hidden inside the important part of the clue (extracted from … substance). The entire clue can serve as the definition. To read about it click here 

21a   United lead conceding own goal (8)
TOGETHER:  A lead for an animal containing (conceding = letting in) the football abbreviation for own goal

23a   Guard retreat following conflict (6)
WARDEN:  A retreat or lair following a serious conflict 

26a   Reportedly unearthly bird's nest (5)
EYRIE:  A homophone (reportedly) of unearthly or strangely frightening 

27a   Conductor picked right lyric (9)
ELECTRODE:  Concatenate an adjective meaning picked or chosen, the single letter for right, and a synonym of lyric 

28a   Request a hard ground for base (12)
HEADQUARTERS:  An anagram (ground) of REQUEST A HARD 



1d    Rein in dog on dog (7)
CURTAIL:  Join two synonyms of dog, only one of them an animal 

2d    Saw a cross on small island (5)
AXIOM:  Assemble A from the clue, the letter representing a cross, and the abbreviation for a small island where some cats don’t have tails 

3d    Revolutionary nut reigns, revolting (9)
INSURGENT:  An anagram (revolting) of NUT REIGNS 

4d    Periodically need farm to produce cheese (4)
EDAM:  Alternate letters (periodically) of NEED FARM 

5d    Endless indulgence? Of course, sweetheart! (8)
TREASURE:  All but the last letter of (endless) of an indulgence or reward followed by another word for “of course” 

6d    Trade involving launch of vanishing cream (5)
SALVE:  A trade or deal containing (involving) the first letter of (launch of) VANISHING 

7d    One drives over hill in fog (8)
MOTORIST:  The cricket abbreviation for over and a rocky hill inserted together in fog or vapour

8d    Usual fellow providing excuse (6)
PARDON:  Usual or standard with a fellow at a university such as Oxford or Cambridge

14d   Sweetheart consumed by every bloody story (8)
ALLEGORY:  The usual Thursday sweetheart (see intro) contained by (consumed by) synonyms of every and of bloody 

16d   Personality of a Conservative in authority (9)
CHARACTER:  A from the clue and the single letter for Conservative inserted together in authority expressed in writing 

17d   Bishop close accepting first female minister (8)
REVEREND:  The fusion of a usual abbreviation for bishop and conclusion or close containing (accepting) the first woman in the Old Testament 

18d   Place with support? (6)
SETTEE:  The wordplay tells us to follow place or put with a golfer’s support.  The entire clue can serve as the definition 

20d   Admit criminal with iron shackles, gutted (7)
CONFESS:  Join together a usual criminal, the chemical symbol for iron, and the outer letters (gutted) of SHACKLES 

22d   Subject of article on Middle East (5)
THEME:  A grammatical article followed by the abbreviation for Middle East 

24d   Controlled  mob (5)
DROVE:  A double definition. The mob could be sheep or cattle

25d   Ring, say, for sweetheart (4)
BEAU:  A homophone (say) of a ring or loop 


Many thanks to RayT. Sitting at the top of my list today are the two &lit clues 18d and 19a, 21a for its perfect containment indicator and smooth surface, and the Quickie pun. Which clues did you like best?

The Quick Crossword pun:  LIE + CHEER = LIGHT YEAR

69 comments on “DT 30141
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  1. The King of Concise on top form for me today.
    I have ticks all over the grid particularly in the SW so I’ll highlight 18&21a plus the very clever &lit at 18d. Great stuff.
    Max thanks to Messrs T&K

  2. A thoroughly Ray T puzzle with all rhe usual variety of clue types. I liked the 1a anagram, the 22d homophone, the 1d charade and the 9a lego clue. Thanks to Ray T for the usual excellent ezample of a cryptic crossword and to Mr K for the hints (loved the picture of the cat and his food splattered over the kitchen floor).

  3. Spot on puzzle & lovely to get back to a brisk back page completion in under ** time after the last couple of days. The SW won the quadrants for me – thought 18,21&26a + 14&18d all great clues.
    Thanks to Ray T & Mr K

  4. A puzzle of two halves for me today. The top half went in clue by clue like a dream then I struggled in the SW corner. Looking now I don’t really know why. It took far too long for the penny to drop on 18a and 18d. I’m still not sure that bow and ring are synonymous but the answer was obvious. I did check that it was OK to spell 1a with the double T but again, it had to be. I liked lots of clues today, my favourites being 12a, 26a, 2d and 24d. Thanks to Ray T and Mr K. Loved all the cat pics today!

  5. I obviously stand alone in not being a great fan of this compiler . ” Sweetheart ” problem in 25d led me to put in ”bell” [ which could work ] for a while until I spotted the anagram in 28a . Didn’t like 25d much either. Ironically, found rest of the puzzle pretty easy. **/** for old grumpy !

  6. 1.5*/5*. I found this very light for a RayT puzzle but huge fun with 18d the best of many outstanding clues.

    I was flummoxed today by the Quickie pun, but it seemed so obvious when I revealed Mr K’s answer.

    Many thanks to RayT and to Mr K.

    P.S. Congratulations to England on a comprehensive win in today’s T20 World Cup semi-final.

  7. I thought this was on the gentle side for a Ray T but as enjoyable as ever – thanks to him and Mr K.
    The quickie pun caused me a lot of muttering that “it doesn’t sound much like lychee to me” so extra thanks to Mr K for revealing what is, in fact, a much better solution.
    My ticks went to 21a, 1d and 18d.

  8. I steamed through this until I didn’t. I came to a full stop with six to go and no matter how i looked at them ( even standing on my head) I could not decipher them. I spent about an hour trying to work them out until I had to give in and resort to the hints. I’m still not sure about ode meaning lyric but, whatever. Now that Mr. T no longer has The Queen there are a number of sweethearts that add colour. Which one does he mean here? So, a DNF but most enjoyable with my COTD being one of the sweethearts – 14d.

    Many thanks, Ray T for the challenge and beating. Huge thanks to Mr. K. for the helpful hints and pusskits.

    Blustery today in The Marches but sunny so managed to get in the garden. The dahlias were in desperate need of deadheading.

  9. I will go with the flow and agree that this was Ray T in friendly mood, yet on absolutely top form when it came to compiling the clues, with the masterful 18d taking the gold.

    My thanks to Messrs T and K for the fun.

  10. Unusually for me, a Ray T curate’s egg with the SW providing most of the problems – ***/****.

    But, plenty of candidates for favourite, all in the Downs – 1d, 2d, 14d, 16d, and 17d – and the winner is 1d.

    Thanks to Ray T and Mr K.

  11. What a relief to have this puzzle that I could actually complete alone and unaided after the last 2. I never thought I would say this about a RayT as for ages they were impenetrable for me. Another plus for this website.

    Thanks to RayT and to Mr K. Great pics as usual.

    1. It was the opposite for me, Monday and Tuesday I managed but only completed half of this unaided, just can’t get on his wavelength.

  12. Super puzzle, racing through it quite smoothly until suddenly I wasn’t – held up by a few in the S. But an absolute cracker from start to finish, with great surfaces (the combined clue/answer of 1a started it off nicely) and Ray T’s trademark concise clueing. 25d my COTD with 12a, 15a, 18a, 5d & 7d the Hon. Mentions.

    2.5* / 4*

    Many thanks to the Maestro and to Mr K (also a maestro, of course!)

  13. Off to a poor start with only 2 on first read-through however pennies gradually began to drop. NE held out longest. I found this a mixed bag of clues including some stretched definitions e.g. 13a (new growth?), 3d (revolting?) and 25d (ring?). Only knew two alternative spellings for the sponge and that used in 10a is not one. My podium places in no specific order go to 1d, 14d and 17d (once I had ceased trying to use an ‘f’). Thank you RayT and MrK.

    1. I pondered those words too, but I believe the stretchy bits you identify are justified by the dictionary. A plant that has leafed has produced leaves/new growth, revolting in the sense of rebelling feels OK as an anagram indicator, and I’ve added an illustration for 25d to justify that one.

  14. Our setter in very friendly mode today which gave the bruised and battered a reasonable chance of completing his puzzle.
    Having said that, I confess to needing Mr K’s help to sort out the Quickie pun!
    Ticks on my paper alongside 19&23a plus 5,7,18&22d.

    Devotions of course to Mr T and many thanks to Mr K for the interesting review. I learnt a lot about 19a and laughed out loud at the unearthly nest – it’s to be hoped that the eagle doesn’t try to land!

    1. I was hoping that the combination of RayT and Mr K might tempt you to comment today, and it has :smile:

      I hope you are feeling much better.

    2. Great to see you here, Jane. I am relieved to read that the pun was not obvious to Gazza, RD, and you, because it had me stumped for a long time.

  15. I fully concur with Mr K’s assessment and join many others in raising an eyebrow at the use of ring in 25d.

    19a does make an elegant all-in-one clue. However, in order to deem it to be one, one has to consider “sticky substance” to be a single entity as otherwise the word “substance” does not factor into the wordplay. I’ve long wondered if doing so is considered permissible under cryptic crossword conventions.

    The alternative (and less satisfying to me) explanation would have the definition being merely “substance” with the remainder of the clue constituting the wordplay.

    1. … or, as another alternative, to consider the entire clue to be the definition in which the wordplay (“Extracted from gum, a sticky”) is embedded.

      1. I’m not familiar with that clue type. It might be regarded as a semi-&lit where the entire clue is definition and all of it except “substance” forms the wordplay, although I thought that in semi-&lits the extra word tacked on one end to provide the weak definition is typically something short and generic like “this”, “they”, “here”, etc. My approach to hinting clues like this is to give the setter credit for an &lit if there’s a legitimate way to do so because it is the hardest type of clue to write well.

    2. With 19a, I initially read guN instead of gum and quickly decided it was a cryptic definition clue and bunged in the (correct, as it happens) answer. That is, the answer is a sticky substance extracted from a (mastic) guN. Then a few seconds later I thought: in that case it would need to be to be extruded instead of “extracted”. Then, I noticed the lurker and the rest is history …

    3. Hello, Falcon. I’d say that in the first parsing you describe, “substance” would be padding, which is generally not allowed. I agree that one could safely say that the definition in 19a is just “substance” and add that the definition refers back to the rest of the clue. As you say, that is rather unsatisfying, so in the end I went with interpreting “substance” in the cryptic reading as “principal part” or “heart” and taking “Extracted from ….. substance” as the hidden word indicator. If he pops in later, perhaps RayT will tell us what he intended.

  16. A fairly mild Ray T puzzle but certainly enjoyable enough. I have ticked a few and will mention 18d. 2*/4*

    *That 18a cat seems to be an inordinately relaxed/messy eater!

    * That “lift and separate” phrase will probably be known in a different context by the ladies on here.

  17. I concur with the majority of the above comments and just a ** with **** for fun. I enjoyed Mr K’s feline images which are very amusing and thought 21a and 14d the best of RayT’s crop today in what was a steady and flowing solve for me. Extremely satisfying.

  18. Must be a gentler Ray T as I understood at least half of the clues. Bit too tricky to be really enjoyable but satisfying to complete.
    Still don’t see 18d as an all-in definition but the wordplay is fair.
    Thx for hints in explaining the more esoteric clues and to Ray T for being quite kind today.

    1. Brian,
      The entire clue can provide the definition as the answer is a place that provides support to a person when they sit down. The wordplay (again the entire clue) is a synonym for place or put (as a verb) plus (with) a support that I expect you often use on the links.

  19. A Ray T light.
    I was remarkably in sync in 1.5 time.
    Nonetheless enjoyable.
    12, 13, 21, and 26a and 20d are but 5 of many ticks.
    Many thanks and to Mr K for the interestingly illustrated review.

  20. Curate’s egg for me too. I do not connect now with ring. I couldn’t parse 21a as thought a tether is what you tie an animal up with and not a lead. Settee = place with support, really? Not keen on 27a. On the other hand I liked 12 and 28a and 2 14 and 17d. Thanks Ray T and Mr K.

  21. For me a bit of a struggle as I have come to expect from Ray T puzzles, but still doable eventually.
    2.5*/3.5* today

    Favourites include 10a, 12a, 27a, 1d, 2d & 7d with co-winners 1d & 7d
    12a made me smile as did 27a with the misdirection.

    Thanks to Ray T and Mr K for hints

  22. Not exactly a breeze of a solve but altogether enjoyable as usual from our master of brevity and the soul of wit. I would nominate the entire SW corner for high honours, especially 18d, 21a, & 14a. It took me a moment to recall the British spelling of 26a (Am sp = ‘aerie’). Thanks to Mr K and Mr T. 2.5*/4.5*

    We are experiencing early bands of rain, wind, and tornado alerts as Tropical Storm Nicole approaches us on the Carolina coast. Hunkered down here.

    1. Oh no, not tornados! Hurricanes are bad enough. Stay safe and dry. I think we had a little rain last night while I was asleep but today has been sunny and dry. I must be doing something right!

      1. Many thanks to Steve, Merusa, and Huntsman. The TS warning has now been discontinued; it’s just rain and some lighter winds now. Downtown Charleston is flooded in places, though.

  23. I am going to stop reporting on my efforts at solving puzzles where the blogger, in this case Mr K, writes about justifying clues, or when the BRB is invoked to justify the use of a word which is not in everyday usage as a synonym of word given in said book.

    So nothing to say today. Thanks to Mr K for admitting to have to justify certain clues and to Ray T for providing a puzzle of such obvious simplicity to the majority of those on today’s blog.

    1. Hello, Corky. I’m sorry to hear that this puzzle was not fun for you. Can you tell me which clues you feel I’m having to justify? I’ve looked back over my hints and I can’t see anything that’s not standard wordplay explanation or a hyperlink to more information about a word.

      1. Sorry Mr K but I have an example of what is called standard wordplay in today’s puzzle. 27a ‘Melancholy valley’. The BRB and the Chambers Crossword Dictionary both give ‘depression’ as synonyms for the two words in the clue. But if you heard someone say ‘the Yorkshire Dales are depressions in the Northern Pennines’ you would not think to yourself what an excellent comment. Nor would someone who enjoys the folk songs we were made to sing in primary schools in the 1950s hearing ‘Early one morning’ think ‘In the depressions below’ an accurate rendering. Although they may think singing that song to that awful tune was very depressing.

        My complaint is that using a word that would not fit into the normal use of that word, as in the valley/ depression example should be left to the Toughie. Still as I said that’s just my view. I will continue doing the puzzles but not comment when I think the clue is straying beyond an acceptable meaning of the word.

        I recognize that the beauty of the English language is the many different meanings that words can have which provide a lot of humour and fun as in crosswords. But I do feel it is best kept for Toughies and the more erudite puzzles. I don’t think the puzzles should be so simple that I could do them as a read and write. I enjoy a challenge and don’t expect to finish every puzzle but I like to think it’s a fair fight.

        1. Thanks, that’s a useful example. For a definition to be acceptable in a cryptic crossword, it’s enough to find one example sentence where that word and the answer can be interchanged without changing the meaning significantly. I’d say that “erosion formed deep depressions in the landscape” and “erosion formed deep valleys in the landscape” mean close enough to the same thing to make the equivalency OK for a definition in a cryptic clue. It’s not required that the words always be interchangeable and, as your examples show, in a given context one is often clearly preferable to the other.

          1. I can see that but my point is that you only have to find one example where it is appropriate when in the majority of cases it would not be. For me even though I am retired I find the necessity of checking the BRB every time a clue is obtuse too time consuming. In what time I have left there are more things I want to do. But thanks for taking the time to chat with me.

  24. Difficult but immensely enjoyable full of 💡 moments ****/**** 😃 Too many favourites but 12a, 27a and 14d are amongst them 🤗 Thanks very much to Mr K and to Ray T. I actually learnt two new words from the Quicky 22 & 27 across 😳

  25. I thought I was on for my fastest Rayt finish having done half the clues on first pass, unfortunately the ones I couldn’t do first time I couldn’t do second or third time. However with a few more answers and checking letters (advocated by someone who shall remain nameless) the scales fell from my eyes and I completed in a reasonable time. Favourite was 7d. Thanks to Rayt and Mr. K.

  26. Can’t say I enjoyed the SW corner which was on a different level of difficulty to the rest.

    I didn’t get any of the sweetheart clues. If I never saw the use of sweetheart in a crossword again I would not be upset.

    Maybe I am pronouncing 26a wrongly because it is a new word to me, but no idea how this clues works. Eye ree…?

    When is a bow a circle? Unless there is another meaning for bow I am unaware of.

    A bit grumpy due to a terminally ill parent, but not a fan of today’s crossword.

    Thanks to all.

    1. I pronounce eyrie as I pronounce eerie. To me is a bow is something you tie on your shoe lace or in a girl’s hair. Pronounced another way it is something you do if meeting the King. The nearest I can think of to a circle is a bow fronted chest which is not straight (but neither is it a circle.) I have not checked this or ring so I stand to be corrected.

      1. WW, I too was surprised by “bow” = “ring”.

        The BRB gives three groups of meanings for bow – (1) to bend downwards; (2) curved items, etc.; (3) the front of a ship. In the second of these groups, the sixth definition is “a ring of metal forming a handle”. Who knew apart from RayT?!

  27. Catching up on last week’s papers, I completed this, but found it a tough Ray T, unlike the majority of commenters.
    18d bunged in.


  28. A fine and gentle crossword that we would have completed a trifle quicker if it hadn’t been for the distraction of a gorgeous fluffy cat coming to have a chat with us through the window before strolling on to make itself at home on top of our shed.

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