Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Tuesday, October 17, 2017 — DT 28484

Puzzle at a Glance
Puzzle Number in The Daily Telegraph
DT 28484
Publication Date in The Daily Telegraph
Thursday, July 20, 2017
Setter
Unknown
Link to Full Review
Big Dave's Crossword Blog [DT 28484]
Big Dave's Crossword Blog Review Written By
Falcon
BD Rating
Difficulty - ★★ Enjoyment - ★★★
Falcon's Experience
┌────┬────┬────┬────┬────┬────┬────┐
███████████████████████████████████
└────┴────┴────┴────┴────┴────┴────┘
Legend:
- solved without assistance
- incorrect prior to use of puzzle solving tools
- solved with assistance from puzzle solving tools
- solved with aid of checking letters provided by puzzle solving tools
- solved but without fully parsing the clue
- unsolved or incorrect prior to visiting Big Dave's Crossword Blog
- solved with aid of checking letters provided by solutions from Big Dave's Crossword Blog
- reviewed by Falcon for Big Dave's Crossword Blog
- yet to be solved

Introduction

The setter of this puzzle remained reclusive although many — myself included — looked in the direction of Shamus to see if he might stand up to take a bow.

I invite you to leave a comment to let us know how you fared with the puzzle.

Notes on Today's Puzzle

This commentary is intended to serve as a supplement to the review of this puzzle found at Big Dave's Crossword Blog, to which a link is provided in the table above.

Primary indications (definitions) are marked with a solid underline in the clue; subsidiary indications (be they wordplay or other) are marked with a dashed underline in semi-all-in-one (semi-&lit.) clues. All-in-one (&lit.) clues and cryptic definitions are marked with a dotted underline. Explicit link words and phrases are enclosed in forward slashes (/link/) and implicit links are shown as double forward slashes (//).

Across

1a   In which one sees fish thus given new // flavour (6)

4a   Look like // rowdy males lacking a beer (8)

8a   A formal garment, American -- time /for/ change? (6)

Dinner jacket[10] (abbreviation DJ or dj) is the British name for a tuxedo, a man's semiformal evening jacket without tails, usually black with a silk facing over the collar and lapels.

9a   Accusation after having been elected /and/ bearing authority? (2,6)

10a   Erudite // argument behind school book (8)

What did I say?
In my review on Big Dave's Crossword Blog, I pointed out that the educational institution required is a grammar school.
Grammar school[3] is a chiefly British term for a secondary or preparatory school.

11a   Financial means /of/ explorer that's lost weight (6)

David Livingstone[5] (1813–1873) was a Scottish missionary and explorer. He went to Bechuanaland as a missionary in 1841. On extensive travels, he discovered Lake Ngami (1849), the Zambezi River (1851), and the Victoria Falls (1855). In 1866 he went in search of the source of the Nile, and was found in poor health by Sir Henry Morton Stanley in 1871.

The stone[5] is a British unit of weight equal to 14 lb (6.35 kg) ⇒ I weighed 10 stone.

12a   Informal essay overlooking core // department of hospital (8)

Here and There
From a British perspective, emergency room[5] (abbreviation ER[5]) is a North American term. The equivalent British term would be either accident and emergency[5] (abbreviation A & E[5]) or casualty department[5] (also casualty ward).

13a   Bemoan // what's in the heart of bitter German from the East (6)

15a   Hard-up eccentric /in/ seclusion (6)

Purdah[5] denotes a state of seclusion or secrecy(i) the supermarket's own self-imposed purdah on the GM issue; (ii) expect the lawyers to re-emerge from their temporary purdah when the legislation is published.

Delving Deeper
The term purdah[5] comes from a practice observed in certain Muslim and Hindu societies of screening women from men or strangers, especially by means of a curtain. In Britain the term is used to refer to the period leading up to an election, during which government departments generally refrain from making any new announcements⇒ it is very difficult at the moment with the election on and the government in purdah.

18a   Local wearing something revered /in/ Ireland, say (8)

Politically, the island of Ireland[7] is divided between the Republic of Ireland (officially named Ireland), which covers five-sixths of the island, and Northern Ireland, which is part of the United Kingdom, in the northeast of the island.

20a   Call policy restricted /in/ European capital (6)

Dublin[5] is the capital city of the Republic of Ireland, situated on the Irish Sea at the mouth of the River Liffey.

21a   Shoot perhaps in small film location /revealing/ particular expertise (5,3)

Many British commenters were unfamiliar with this term. A search through my dictionaries found it present in only two. The Chambers Dictionary defines skill set[1] as commercial jargon for a range of job-related aptitudes.

23a   British firm backed about new-fangled oil /as/ healthy food (8)

24a   Exile might request it, /given/ year in a poor district (6)

25a   Bit of spirit's shown by victory, say, // somewhere in Canada (8)

26a   Increase // unknown number occupying former flat (6)

Flat[5] is a chiefly British term for what would be called an apartment[5] in North America.

The letter n[10] is used (especially in mathematics) as a symbol to represent an indefinite number (of) ⇒ there are n objects in a box.

Down

1d   What smoker's left with after street // drugs haul? (5)

2d   Source of corruption /in/ opulent sport dividing southern Germany (5,4)

"Germany" = D (show explanation )

The International Vehicle Registration (IVR) code for Germany is D[5] [from German Deutschland].

hide explanation

3d   Sincere /kind of/ note (7)

In music, natural[5] (noun) is another name for natural note; that is, a note that is neither sharp nor flat.

4d   Gary is in slow car moving around // transport intersection (7,8)

5d   For this, a clue's devised 'with minimal sign of religion'? (7)

Some reviewers might have marked merely the word "this" as the definition. However, I have trouble accepting that a single pronoun can be a meaningful definition in its own right.

6d   Advocate dropping good man, // an impediment (7)

7d   Name grand Frenchman on the rise /that's/ very active (9)

While the abbreviation G for "grand" is deemed by the Brits to be an Americanism, it seems to be one that is well known to them — undoubtedly from American gangster films (show more ).

Grand[5] is an informal term for a thousand dollars or pounds he gets thirty-five grand a year. While the term "grand" itself would seem to be commonly used in the UK, the informal abbreviation G[5] meaning grand appears to be regarded as a North American usage I was up nine Gs on the blackjack tables.

G is defined in various British dictionaries as follows:
  • Oxford Dictionaries: (North American informal) abbreviation for grand, a thousand dollars)[5].
  • Chambers 21st Century Dictionary: (North American slang) abbreviation for a grand, 1000 dollars[2].
  • Collins English Dictionary: (mainly US slang) a symbol for grand (a thousand dollars or pounds)[10].
hide explanation

If René does not top the ranks of most popular names for a Frenchman in Crosswordland, it certainly comes close.

12d   Part of mug // I'd put amid trophies, sign of respect? (6,3)

14d   Fail /in/ devious ploy with bugle (2,5,2)

16d   Dry // food, not good at a reduced price (3,4)

17d   Home where the residents lay on straw beds (3,4)

19d   Soldier/'s/ retiring? (7)

22d   Shrinking // section of government? I'm idealistic! (5)
Key to Reference Sources: 

[1]   - The Chambers Dictionary, 11th Edition
[2]   - Search Chambers - (Chambers 21st Century Dictionary)
[3]   - TheFreeDictionary.com (American Heritage Dictionary)
[4]   - TheFreeDictionary.com (Collins English Dictionary)
[5]   - Oxford Dictionaries (Oxford Dictionary of English)
[6]   - Oxford Dictionaries (Oxford American Dictionary)
[7]   - Wikipedia
[8]   - Reverso Online Dictionary (Collins French-English Dictionary)
[9]   - Infoplease (Random House Unabridged Dictionary)
[10] - CollinsDictionary.com (Collins English Dictionary)
[11] - TheFreeDictionary.com (Random House Kernerman Webster's College Dictionary)
[12] - CollinsDictionary.com (Webster’s New World College Dictionary)
[13] - MacmillanDictionary.com (Macmillan Dictionary)
Signing off for today — Falcon

Monday, October 16, 2017

Monday, October 16, 2017 — DT 28483 (Published Saturday, October 14, 2017)

Puzzle at a Glance
Puzzle Number in The Daily Telegraph
DT 28483
Publication Date in The Daily Telegraph
Wednesday, July 19, 2017
Setter
Jay (Jeremy Mutch)
Link to Full Review
Big Dave's Crossword Blog [DT 28483]
Big Dave's Crossword Blog Review Written By
ShropshireLad
BD Rating
Difficulty - ★ / ★★ Enjoyment - ★★★
Falcon's Experience
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███████████████████████████████████
└────┴────┴────┴────┴────┴────┴────┘
Legend:
- solved without assistance
- incorrect prior to use of puzzle solving tools
- solved with assistance from puzzle solving tools
- solved with aid of checking letters provided by puzzle solving tools
- solved but without fully parsing the clue
- unsolved or incorrect prior to visiting Big Dave's Crossword Blog
- solved with aid of checking letters provided by solutions from Big Dave's Crossword Blog
- reviewed by Falcon for Big Dave's Crossword Blog
- yet to be solved
Notes
This puzzle appears on the Monday Diversions page in the Saturday, October 14, 2017 edition of the National Post.

Introduction

Today's puzzle is an extremely gentle workout from Jay.

I invite you to leave a comment to let us know how you fared with the puzzle.

Notes on Today's Puzzle

This commentary is intended to serve as a supplement to the review of this puzzle found at Big Dave's Crossword Blog, to which a link is provided in the table above.

Primary indications (definitions) are marked with a solid underline in the clue; subsidiary indications (be they wordplay or other) are marked with a dashed underline in semi-all-in-one (semi-&lit.) clues. All-in-one (&lit.) clues and cryptic definitions are marked with a dotted underline. Explicit link words and phrases are enclosed in forward slashes (/link/) and implicit links are shown as double forward slashes (//).

Across

1a   Actor's application // as agent ripe for review (11)

9a   Such a vegetable // sweetens sleep! (5,4)

In this style of clue, one interprets "such a ..." to mean "a type of ...".

Sugar snap[5] is short for sugar snap pea.

10a   Address // a chap with energy (5)

Bod[5] is an informal British term for a person ⇒ some clever bod wrote a song about them.

"energy" = E (show explanation )

In physics, E[5] is a symbol used to represent energy in mathematical formulae.

hide explanation

11a   Stout // barrel pinched by staff (6)

12a   Treatment /needed/ if dart is misdirected? (5,3)

13a   Menswear item /may be/ a tax on credit (6)

A value added tax[5] (abbreviation VAT) is a tax on the amount by which the value of an article has been increased at each stage of its production or distribution.

Delving Deeper
The European Union value added tax[7] (or EU VAT) is a value added tax on goods and services within the European Union (EU). The EU's institutions do not collect the tax, but EU member states (including the UK for the time being) are each required to adopt a value added tax that complies with the EU VAT code. Different rates of VAT apply in different EU member states, ranging from 17% in Luxembourg to 27% in Hungary. In the UK, the rate is 20%.

Canada's Goods and Services Tax (GST) and Harmonized Sales Tax (HST) are each instances of a value added tax.[7]

15a   Exhibit signs of exertion // seeing column on exercise runs (8)

"exercise | gym [class]" = PE (show explanation )

PE[5] is the abbreviation for physical education [or Phys Ed, as it was known in my school days]. 

hide explanation

"runs" = R (show explanation )

On cricket scorecards [not to mention baseball scoreboards], the abbreviation R[5] denotes run(s).

In cricket, a run[5] is a unit of scoring achieved by hitting the ball so that both batsmen are able to run between the wickets, or awarded in some other circumstances.

hide explanation

18a   Singing style/'s/ artificial with exaggerated backing (8)

"exaggerated" = OTT (show explanation )

OTT[5] (short for over the top) is an informal British expression denoting excessive or exaggerated ⇒ presenting him as a goalscoring Superman seems a bit OTT.

hide explanation

19a   Cost protecting new // member of royal dynasty (6)

21a   Conduct // diplomacy including managed source of secrecy (8)

23a   Designed // pen given by the French centre in Cadiz (6)

"the French" = LE (show explanation )

In French, the masculine singular form of the definite article is le[8].

hide explanation

Scratching the Surface
Cadiz[5] is a city and port on the coast of southwestern Spain; population 127,200 (2008).

26a   NATO's last // award? (5)

Oscar[5] is a code word representing the letter O, used in radio communication — in particular, in the NATO phonetic alphabet[7].

Oscar[5] (trademark in the US) is the nickname for a gold statuette given as an award by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, presented annually since 1928 for achievement in the film industry in various categories.

27a   Fuse // molten granite alien's turned over (9)

"alien" = ET (show explanation )

E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial[7] (often referred to simply as E.T.) is a 1982 American science fiction film co-produced and directed by Steven Spielberg. It tells the story of a lonely boy who befriends an extraterrestrial, dubbed "E.T.", who is stranded on Earth. He and his siblings help the extraterrestrial return home while attempting to keep it hidden from their mother and the government.

hide explanation

28a   Battles /to make/ dates (11)

Down

1d   A bit of beluga -- strictly // for the stomach! (7)

2d   First hotel lacking in stature /for/ boat crew (5)

The word "first" does not denote the first letter of Hotel; rather it tells us that it is the first occurrence of the letter "H" which is lacking from a synonym for stature.

Hotel[5] is a code word representing the letter H, used in radio communication.

An eight[5] is an eight-oared rowing boat or its crew.

3d   Stock lost /from/ time under psychiatrist (9)

4d   Factory dropping line /is/ blow (4)

5d   Spoilt // broadcast supporting independent politician (8)

"independent" = I (show explanation )

I[1] is the abbreviation for independent, in all likelihood in the context of a politician with no party affiliation.

hide explanation

"politician" = MP (show explanation )

In Britain (as in Canada), a politician elected to the House of Commons is known as a Member of Parliament[10] (abbreviation MP[5]) or, informally, as a member[5].

hide explanation

6d   Pitfalls /of/ role set up with son (5)

7d   Completed short composition for two // later than expected (7)

8d   Incitement without professional // calling (8)

14d   Union /giving/ everybody a nice woolly (8)

Scratching the Surface
In Britain, woolly[5] is an informal term for a garment made of wool, especially a pullover. On the other hand, in Australia, New Zealand and the western US, a woolly[3,4,5,11] is a sheep.

16d   Plan /to make/ great pastry dishes rise (9)

I suspect that the word mega may be used more prevalently — and in more contexts — in the UK than in North America. Mega[5] is an informal term which can be used either as an adjective or adverb. As the former it can mean (1) very large or huge ⇒ he has signed a mega deal to make five movies or (2) excellent ⇒ it will be a mega film, while as the latter it denotes extremely ⇒ they are mega rich.

17d   Holding supplies of // raised beds with family arriving at last (8)

What did he say?
In his review on Big Dave's Crossword Blog, ShropshireLad describes the beds in the clue as being ones for babies.
In Britain, a small bed with high barred sides for a baby or very young child is called a cot[5] rather than a crib[5] as it is known in North America.

18d   Heat regularly seen in sheep /or/ horse's joint (7)

The word "regularly" indicates a regular sequence of letters. In this case, we need the even letters but the term could just as easily be used to indicate the odd letters as they also form a regular sequence.

20d   Showing no sign of finishing, // tip not so much (7)

It may be because I am at the end of a long day, but I do not get ShropshireLad's drift. The wordplay is simply END (tip) + LESS (not so much). I fail to see how that equates to "shortened" or how "shortened" has anything to do with the definition.

22d   Be of use /and/ dish up (5)

24d   Find out // Labour's beginning to work for money (5)

Scratching the Surface
The Labour Party[5] in Britain is a left-of-centre political party formed to represent the interests of ordinary working people that since the Second World War has been in power 1945–51, 1964–70, 1974-9, and 1997–2010. Arising from the trade union movement at the end of the 19th century, it replaced the Liberals as the country’s second party after the First World War.

25d   Good man needing a good // party (4)

"good" = G (show explanation )

The abbreviation G[10] for good likely relates to its use in grading school assignments or tests.

hide explanation
Key to Reference Sources: 

[1]   - The Chambers Dictionary, 11th Edition
[2]   - Search Chambers - (Chambers 21st Century Dictionary)
[3]   - TheFreeDictionary.com (American Heritage Dictionary)
[4]   - TheFreeDictionary.com (Collins English Dictionary)
[5]   - Oxford Dictionaries (Oxford Dictionary of English)
[6]   - Oxford Dictionaries (Oxford American Dictionary)
[7]   - Wikipedia
[8]   - Reverso Online Dictionary (Collins French-English Dictionary)
[9]   - Infoplease (Random House Unabridged Dictionary)
[10] - CollinsDictionary.com (Collins English Dictionary)
[11] - TheFreeDictionary.com (Random House Kernerman Webster's College Dictionary)
[12] - CollinsDictionary.com (Webster’s New World College Dictionary)
[13] - MacmillanDictionary.com (Macmillan Dictionary)
Signing off for today — Falcon

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Saturday, October 14, 2017 — Anagrams Wild

Introduction

Anagrams run rampant through today's puzzle from Cox & Rathvon.

I invite you to leave a comment to let us know how you fared with the puzzle.

Solution to Today's Puzzle

Falcon's Experience
┌────┬────┬────┬────┬────┬────┬────┐
███████████████████████████████████
└────┴────┴────┴────┴────┴────┴────┘
Legend:
- solved without assistance
- incorrect prior to use of puzzle solving tools
- solved with assistance from puzzle solving tools
- solved with aid of checking letters provided by puzzle solving tools
- solved but without fully parsing the clue
- yet to be solved

Legend: "*" anagram; "~" sounds like; "<" letters reversed

"( )" letters inserted; "_" letters deleted; "†" explicit in the clue

Primary indications (definitions) are marked with a solid underline in the clue; subsidiary indications (be they wordplay or other) are marked with a dashed underline in semi-all-in-one (semi-&lit.) clues. All-in-one (&lit.) clues and cryptic definitions are marked with a dotted underline. Explicit link words and phrases are enclosed in forward slashes (/link/) and implicit links are shown as double forward slashes (//).

Across

1a   Wild blue yonder’s enveloping male // in an onerous way (12)

{BURDENSO(M)ELY}* — anagram (wild) of BLUE YONDERS containing (enveloping) M (male; abbrev.)

9a   Have a craving in Ken/’s/ room (7)

K(ITCH)EN — ITCH (have a craving) contained in (in) KEN (†)

10a   Quiet sort joining our // loud shouting (7)

CLAM|OUR — CLAM (quiet sort) + (joining) OUR (†)

11a   Daisy upset about arrival // confusion (8)

{DIS(ARR)AY}* — anagram (upset) of DAISY containing (about) ARR (arrival; abbrev. encountered on transportation system timetables)

12a   Strands // wild horses (6)

SHORES* — anagram (wild) of HORSES

14a   Poverty // bared, go hog wild (10)

BEGGARHOOD* — anagram (wild) of BARED GO HOG

16a   Hurt // wild rose (4)

SORE* — anagram (wild) ROSE

18a   Roulette bet // in or out of order (4)

NOIR* — anagram (out of order) of IN OR

19a   Wild pitches are // most annoyingly instructive (10)

PREACHIEST* — anagram (wild) of PITCHES ARE

21a   Deuces wild, // lead the wrong way? (6)

SEDUCE* — anagram (wild) of DEUCES

Dedicated to Harvey Weinstein — who seems incapable of such subtlety.

22a   Wild card code // given (8)

ACCORDED* — anagram (wild) of CARD CODE

26a   Bunk // back of house, beside two trees (7)

E|YEW|ASH — E (back [final letter] of housE) + (beside) {YEW + ASH} (two trees)

27a   One arachnid grasping at // parrot (7)

I|MIT(AT)E — I ([Roman numeral for] one) + MITE (arachnid) containing (grasping) AT (†)

28a   Incapable of sucking up, // Ann’s born to be wild (12)

NONABSORBENT* — anagram (wild) of ANNS BORN TO BE

Down

1d   A king in the sack // was hot (5)

B(A|K)ED — {A (†) + K (king; abbrev. encountered in chess or card games)} contained in (in) BED (the sack)

2d   Appraises // unopened shipping containers (5)

_RATES — [C]RATES (shipping containers) with the initial letter removed (unopened)

3d   Empty article, very // airy (8)

E|THE|REAL — E (empty; abbreviation found on a fuel gauge) + THE ([definite] article) + REAL (very; extremely)

4d   People on the beach // scattered burnt ashes (10)

SUNBATHERS* — anagram (scattered) of BURNT ASHES

5d   Spice // club (4)

MACE — double definition

6d   Hate // vow taken by the French (6)

L(OATH)E — OATH (vow) contained in (taken by) LE (the French; masculine singular form of the French definite article)

7d   Quartet // auditioned for total amount (8)

{FOUR|SOME}~ — sounds like (auditioned) {FOR (†) + SUM (total amount)}

8d   Most of ship’s hands detect // moon at times (8)

CRE_|SCENT — CRE[W] (ship's hands) with the final letter removed (most of) + SCENT (detect; verb)

Scent[5] (verb) can mean:
  • discern by the sense of smell a shark can scent blood from well over half a kilometre away
  • sense the presence, existence, or imminence ofthe Premier scented victory last night
13d   Vault within funds // kingdoms (10)

MON(ARCH)IES — ARCH (vault; architectural construct) contained in (within) MONIES (funds)

14d   Rail // is held by kid (8)

BAN(IS)TER — IS (†) contained in (held by) BANTER (kid)

15d   Diner fixtures // general shoots full of holes (8)

G|RIDDLES — G (general; abbrev. for film classification) + RIDDLES (shoots full of holes)

17d   More selective // Indiana resident following Conservative (8)

C|HOOSIER — HOOSIER (Indiana resident) following (†) C (Conservative; abbrev. for a member of a certain Canadian — or British — political party)

A Hoosier[5] is a native or inhabitant of the state of Indiana, US. The origin of the term is unknown.

20d   Oxygen tank company returned // book of a certain size (6)

{OC|TAV|O}< — reversal (returned) of {O ([symbol for the chemical element] oxygen) + VAT (tank) + CO (company; abbrev.)}

23d   Loosely cover // doctor and primate (5)

DR|APE — DR (doctor; abbrev.) + (and) APE (primate)

24d   Inhabited // end of island next to raised ridge (5)

D|WELT — D (end [final letter] of islanD) + (next to) WELT (raised ridge)

25d   Start of a question, and a // command to stop (4)

WHO|A — WHO (start of a question) + (and) A (†)

Epilogue

There was certainly no subtlety involved in the theme of today's puzzle
Key to Reference Sources: 

[1]   - The Chambers Dictionary, 11th Edition
[2]   - Search Chambers - (Chambers 21st Century Dictionary)
[3]   - TheFreeDictionary.com (American Heritage Dictionary)
[4]   - TheFreeDictionary.com (Collins English Dictionary)
[5]   - Oxford Dictionaries (Oxford Dictionary of English)
[6]   - Oxford Dictionaries (Oxford American Dictionary)
[7]   - Wikipedia
[8]   - Reverso Online Dictionary (Collins French-English Dictionary)
[9]   - Infoplease (Random House Unabridged Dictionary)
[10] - CollinsDictionary.com (Collins English Dictionary)
[11] - TheFreeDictionary.com (Random House Kernerman Webster's College Dictionary)
[12] - CollinsDictionary.com (Webster’s New World College Dictionary)
[13] - MacmillanDictionary.com (Macmillan Dictionary)
Signing off for today — Falcon

Friday, October 13, 2017

Friday, October 13, 2017 — DT 28482

Puzzle at a Glance
Puzzle Number in The Daily Telegraph
DT 28482
Publication Date in The Daily Telegraph
Tuesday, July 18, 2017
Setter
Unknown
Link to Full Review
Big Dave's Crossword Blog [DT 28482]
Big Dave's Crossword Blog Review Written By
Mr Kitty
BD Rating
Difficulty - ★★ Enjoyment - ★★★
Falcon's Experience
┌────┬────┬────┬────┬────┬────┬────┐
███████████████████████████████████
└────┴────┴────┴────┴────┴────┴────┘
Legend:
- solved without assistance
- incorrect prior to use of puzzle solving tools
- solved with assistance from puzzle solving tools
- solved with aid of checking letters provided by puzzle solving tools
- solved but without fully parsing the clue
- unsolved or incorrect prior to visiting Big Dave's Crossword Blog
- solved with aid of checking letters provided by solutions from Big Dave's Crossword Blog
- reviewed by Falcon for Big Dave's Crossword Blog
- yet to be solved

Introduction

After a stumble yesterday, I was tripped up a couple of times today. It will be interesting to see if anyone on this side of the Atlantic gets 14d without aid.

I invite you to leave a comment to let us know how you fared with the puzzle.

Notes on Today's Puzzle

This commentary is intended to serve as a supplement to the review of this puzzle found at Big Dave's Crossword Blog, to which a link is provided in the table above.

Primary indications (definitions) are marked with a solid underline in the clue; subsidiary indications (be they wordplay or other) are marked with a dashed underline in semi-all-in-one (semi-&lit.) clues. All-in-one (&lit.) clues and cryptic definitions are marked with a dotted underline. Explicit link words and phrases are enclosed in forward slashes (/link/) and implicit links are shown as double forward slashes (//).

Across

7a   A centre in the Parisian // ball game (8)

"the Parisian" = LE (show explanation )

In French, the masculine singular form of the definite article is le[8].

hide explanation

In soccer, hockey, and other team games, a centre[5] is a kick, hit, or throw of the ball from the side to the middle of field.

In soccer, a cross[5] is a pass of the ball across the field towards the centre close to one's opponents' goal Beckham's low cross was turned into the net by Cole.

9a   Closer game? Lose out, /but/ well done! (6)

10a   Remarkable reign associated with a // queen (6)

"queen" = Regina (show explanation )

In the United Kingdom and the other Commonwealth realms*, Regina[5] (abbreviation R[5]) [Latin for queen] denotes the reigning queen, used following a name (e.g. Elizabetha Regina, Queen Elizabeth) or in the titles of lawsuits (e.g. Regina v. Jones, the Crown versus Jones — often shortened to R. v. Jones).

* A Commonwealth realm[7] is a sovereign state that is a member of the Commonwealth of Nations and shares the same person, currently Elizabeth II, as its head of state and reigning constitutional monarch, but retains a crown legally distinct from the other realms. There are currently sixteen Commonwealth realms, the largest being Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom with the remainder being smaller Caribbean and Pacific island nations.

Thus Queen Elizabeth signs her name as 'Elizabeth R' as seen here on Canada's paint-stained constitution.

hide explanation

11a   Tall tale about king /causes/ disagreement (8)

"king" = R (show explanation )

In the United Kingdom and the other Commonwealth realms*, Rex[5] (abbreviation R[5]) [Latin for king] denotes the reigning king, used following a name (e.g. Georgius Rex, King George — often shortened to GR) or in the titles of lawsuits (e.g. Rex v. Jones, the Crown versus Jones — often shortened to R. v. Jones).

* A Commonwealth realm[7] is a sovereign state that is a member of the Commonwealth of Nations and shares the same person, currently Elizabeth II, as its head of state and reigning constitutional monarch, but retains a crown legally distinct from the other realms. There are currently sixteen Commonwealth realms, the largest being Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom with the remainder being smaller Caribbean and Pacific island nations.

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12a   Very imposing -- /that's/ how actors are on the cinema screen (6,4,4)

15a   Not even second // chances (4)

17a   Strange, // the two of us following one road? On the contrary (5)

19a   Dog // story heard (4)

20a   Pensioners initially sang in // tune in minstrel style (3,5,2,4)

"Old Folks at Home"[7] (also known as "Swanee River", "Swanee Ribber" [from the original lyrics], or "Suwannee River") is a minstrel song written by American songwriter Stephen Foster in 1851.

Delving Deeper
Since 1935, "Old Folks at Home" has been the official state song of Florida, although over time, the lyrics were progressively altered to be less offensive. American writer Diane Roberts observed:
Florida got enlightened in 1978; we substituted "brothers" for "darkies." There were subsequent revisions. At Jeb Bush's second inauguration as governor in 2003, a young black woman gave a moving, nondialect rendition of "Old Folks at Home," except "still longing for the old plantation" came out "still longing for my old connection." Perhaps someone confused Stephen Foster's lyrics with a cell phone commercial.
In 2008, a Florida statute established "Old Folks at Home" as the state song with an expurgated version of the lyrics replacing those from the 1935 version.



The river mentioned in the song is the Suwanee River in Florida. Foster purposely misspelled it as "Swanee" to fit the melody.

23a   Deliberate // trick by team on right (8)

"team" = SIDE (show explanation )

Side[5] is a British term for a sports team ⇒ there was a mixture of old and young players in* their side.

* Note that, in Britain, a player is said to be "in a side" rather than "on a team" as one would say in North America.

In North America, the term side[3] is used in a very general fashion that can denote one of two or more opposing individuals, groups, teams, or sets of opinions. While this same general usage would seem to exist as well in the UK, the term side[5] is also used there in a much more specific sense to mean a sports team, as we can clearly see from the following usage examples ⇒ (i) Previous England rugby sides, and England teams in many other sports, would have crumbled under the weight of such errors.; (ii) They'll face better sides than this Monaco team, but you can only beat what's put in front of you.

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25a   Sordid // Greek partner, according to a Cockney? (6)

Phrases such as "according to a Cockney" are used by setters to indicate that the initial aitch is to be dropped from a word — a speech characteristic associated with the cockney* dialect spoken in the East End of London.

* A cockney[5,10] is a native of East London [specifically that part of East London known as the East End[5]], traditionally one born within hearing of Bow Bells (the bells of St Mary-le-Bow[7] church).

27a   Hit // rower (6)

In rowing, stroke[5] denotes the oar or oarsman nearest the stern of a boat, setting the timing for the other rowers.

28a   No thanks! Great! // Don't mention it! (3,2,3)

Ta[5] is an informal British exclamation signifying thank you ‘Ta,’ said Willie gratefully.

Down

1d   Centre // of inferior quality (4)

In the end, I needed but the gentlest of nudges to point me in the right direction. However, before reaching that point and thinking the solution might be RARE (quality), I spent more than a little time and effort trying to find a word of the form _RARE_ that could mean "inferior".

2d   Making mistake // chopping head off fish (6)

3d   Insect landing on fine // meat (4)

"fine" = F (show explanation )

F[5] is an abbreviation for fine, as used in describing grades of pencil lead [a usage that Oxford Dictionaries surprisingly characterizes as British].

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4d   Fighting // court case (6)

5d   Area // DI observing rules very closely (8)

Scratching the Surface
A detective inspector (DI[5]) is a senior police officer in the UK. Within the British police, inspector[7] is the second supervisory rank. It is senior to that of sergeant, but junior to that of chief inspector. Plain-clothes detective inspectors are equal in rank to their uniformed counterparts, the prefix 'detective' identifying them as having been trained in criminal investigation and being part of or attached to their force's Criminal Investigation Department (CID).

6d   Promises no changes -- // an error in speech (10)

A spoonerism[5] is a verbal error in which a speaker accidentally transposes the initial sounds or letters of two or more words, often to humorous effect, as in the sentence you have hissed the mystery lectures. It is named after the Reverend W. A. Spooner (1844–1930), an English scholar who reputedly made such errors in speaking.

8d   Bird /in/ spring on river bank (7)

13d   Also short of bubbly, // etc (3,2,5)

14d   Hitch up /in/ Hawick, they say (5)

I certainly offer no apologies for needing to seek a bit of assistance here, being familiar with neither the Scottish town nor the British slang.

Hawick[7] ( (listen) HOYK) is a town in the Scottish Borders council area and historic county of Roxburghshire in the east Southern Uplands of Scotland.

Hoick[5] is an informal British term meaning to lift or pull abruptly or with effort she hoicked her bag on to the desk.

16d   Reconstructed Swedish boxing ring /is/ minor attraction (8)

18d   Current // doctor caught head of clinic out (7)

Here and There
South of the border, it is spelled draft; across the pond, it is spelled draught; here one might find it spelled either way.

21d   Senior citizens // love stories about duke (6)

"love" = O (show explanation )

In tennis, squash, and some other sports, love[5] is a score of zero or nil ⇒ love fifteen. The resemblance of a zero written as a numeral (0) to the letter O leads to the cryptic crossword convention of the word "love" being used to clue this letter.

Although folk etymology has connected the word with French l'oeuf 'egg', from the resemblance in shape between an egg and a zero, the term apparently comes from the phrase play for love (i.e. the love of the game, not for money).

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"duke" = D (show explanation )

A duke[5] (abbreviation D.[10]) is a male holding the highest hereditary title in the British and certain other peerages*.

* The peerage[5] is the nobility in Britain or Ireland, comprising the ranks of duke or duchess, marquess or marchioness, earl or countess, viscount or viscountess, and baron or baroness.

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22d   Husband and his mother's sisters /could be/ locals? (6)

Local[5] is an informal British term for a pub convenient to a person’s home ⇒ a pint in the local.

24d   Amphitheatre // in Trier, in Germany (4)

Scratching the Surface
Trier[5] is a city on the River Mosel in Rhineland-Palatinate, western Germany; population 103,500 (est. 2006). Established by a Germanic tribe, the Treveri, circa 400 BC, Trier is one of the oldest cities in Europe. It was a powerful archbishopric from 815 until the 18th century, but fell into decline after the French occupation in 1797.

26d   Ointment /from/ research centre spilled over motorway (4)

Motorway[2,5] (abbreviation M[5]) is a British, Australian, and New Zealand term for a dual-carriageway road [divided highway] designed for fast-moving traffic, especially one with three lanes per carriageway [direction of travel] and limited access and exit points [controlled access].
Key to Reference Sources: 

[1]   - The Chambers Dictionary, 11th Edition
[2]   - Search Chambers - (Chambers 21st Century Dictionary)
[3]   - TheFreeDictionary.com (American Heritage Dictionary)
[4]   - TheFreeDictionary.com (Collins English Dictionary)
[5]   - Oxford Dictionaries (Oxford Dictionary of English)
[6]   - Oxford Dictionaries (Oxford American Dictionary)
[7]   - Wikipedia
[8]   - Reverso Online Dictionary (Collins French-English Dictionary)
[9]   - Infoplease (Random House Unabridged Dictionary)
[10] - CollinsDictionary.com (Collins English Dictionary)
[11] - TheFreeDictionary.com (Random House Kernerman Webster's College Dictionary)
[12] - CollinsDictionary.com (Webster’s New World College Dictionary)
[13] - MacmillanDictionary.com (Macmillan Dictionary)
Signing off for today — Falcon