Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Wednesday, July 26, 2017 — DT 28425

Puzzle at a Glance
Puzzle Number in The Daily Telegraph
DT 28425
Publication Date in The Daily Telegraph
Friday, May 12, 2017
Setter
Giovanni (Don Manley)
Link to Full Review
Big Dave's Crossword Blog [DT 28425]
Big Dave's Crossword Blog Review Written By
Miffypops
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

With today's puzzle, we find Giovanni in a mellow mood — and Miffypops occupying the blogging chair on an unusual day for him.

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   Destructive types // raid coast furiously, led by monarch (11)

"monarch" = ER (show explanation )

The regnal ciphers (monograms) of British monarchs are initials formed from the Latin version of their first name followed by either Rex or Regina (Latin for king or queen, respectively). Thus, the regnal cipher of Queen Elizabeth is ER[5] — from the Latin Elizabetha Regina.

hide explanation

9a   Ultimately manager riles // football team (7)

I would think that the clue might refer to either of two British soccer clubs, but the Brits always seem to associate the name with the northern one.

Rangers Football Club[7] is an association football [soccer] club in Glasgow, Scotland that plays in the Scottish Premiership, the first tier of the Scottish Professional Football League.

Queens Park Rangers Football Club[7] (also known as QPR) is a professional association football [soccer] club in White City, London that plays in the Championship, the second tier of English football.

10a   An alto sadly // lacking a certain musical quality (6)

12a   Policeman /and/ doctor let loose (7)

"doctor" = MO (show explanation )

A medical officer[5] (abbreviation MO[5]) is a doctor in charge of the health services of a civilian or military authority or other organization.

hide explanation

What did he say?
In his review on Big Dave's Crossword Blog, Miffypops explains the abbreviation by making reference to a Medical Orderly.
A medical orderly is hardly a doctor. Oxford Dictionaries defines medical orderly[5] as an attendant in a hospital responsible for the non-medical care of patients and the maintenance of order and cleanliness.

By the way, Oxford Dictionaries is the only dictionary in which I found the term medical orderly. Other dictionaries list the term merely as orderly.

13a   Ray maybe keeps work quiet, /being/ wet (7)

"work" = OP (show explanation )

In music, an opus[5] (plural opuses or opera) is a separate composition or set of compositions.

The abbreviation Op.[5] (also op.), denoting opus, is used before a number given to each work of a particular composer, usually indicating the order of publication. The plural form of Op. is Opp..

Opus[5] can also be used in a more general sense to mean an artistic work, especially one on a large scale ⇒ he was writing an opus on Mexico.

hide explanation

"quiet" = P (show explanation )

Piano[3,5] (abbreviation p[5]), is a musical direction meaning either (as an adjective) soft or quiet or (as an adverb) softly or quietly.

hide explanation

Wet[5] (adjective) is an informal British term meaning showing a lack of forcefulness or strength of character; in other words, feeble ⇒ they thought the cadets were a bit wet.

Delving Deeper
Wet[5] (noun)  is an informal British term for a person lacking forcefulness or strength of character ⇒ there are sorts who look like gangsters and sorts who look like wets.

In British political circles, the name wet[5] is applied to a Conservative with liberal tendencies ⇒ the wets favoured a change in economic policy. It was a term frequently used by former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher for those to the left of her in the British Conservative Party [which must have been just about everyone].

14a   Working for // characters in Sunderland (5)

Scratching the Surface
Sunderland[5] is an industrial city and metropolitan district in north-eastern England, a port at the mouth of the River Wear; population 171,300 (est. 2009).

15a   Most worthless // fool finally attempts to get in touch (9)

17a   Footballer getting sacked // had an unfortunate effect (9)

Footballer here would refer to a soccer player and it is a virtual certainty that sacked is intended to mean dismissed from employment in the surface reading as well as in the cryptic reading. Only a fan of North American football would see the clue as describing a quarterback being tackled for a loss.

A back[5] is a player in a team game who plays in a defensive position* behind the forwards ⇒ their backs showed some impressive running and passing.

* except, of course, in North American football where there are both offensive backs and defensive backs.

In his review, Miffypops cuts the definition a tad short.

20a   Stein's original potato dish /is/ a hit (5)

Mash[5] is an informal British term for mashed potato ⇒ for supper there was sausages and mash.

Scratching the Surface
Rick Stein[7] is an English celebrity chef, restaurateur and television presenter. He is head chef and co-owner of "Rick Stein at Bannisters" at Mollymook, New South Wales, Australia, and owns restaurants and fish and chip shops located in several towns in Cornwall, England. He has written cookery books and presented [hosted] television programmes.

22a   Run meal organised /for/ 2 or 3, say (7)

24a   Circle /with/ peer and politician, both inadequate (7)

"politician" = TORY (show explanation )

A Tory[10] is a member or supporter of the Conservative Party in Great Britain or Canada.

Historically, a Tory[10] was a member of the English political party that opposed the exclusion of James, Duke of York from the royal succession (1679–80). Tory remained the label for subsequent major conservative interests until they gave birth to the Conservative Party in the 1830s.

The Conservative Party[5] is a a major British political party that emerged from the old Tory Party under Sir Robert Peel in the 1830s and 1840s. Since the Second World War, it has been in power 1951–64, 1970-74, and 1979–97. It governed in a coalition with the Liberal Democrats from 2010 until the general election of May 2015, in which it was returned with a majority.

hide explanation

25a   Little woman closed, having not finished, a // book (6)

Little Women[7] is a novel by American author Louisa May Alcott (1832–1888), which was originally published in two volumes in 1868 and 1869. The novel follows the lives of four sisters—Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy March—detailing their passage from childhood to womanhood, and is loosely based on the author and her three sisters. Little Women is set in the Alcott family home, Orchard House, in Concord, Massachusetts.

Joshua[5] is the sixth book of the Bible, telling of the conquest of Canaan and its division among the twelve tribes of Israel. Joshua (fl.c.13th century BC) was the Israelite leader who succeeded Moses and led his people into the Promised Land.

26a   Put a hard coat on // metal, front edge being lost with corrosion (7)

Incrust is an alternative spelling of encrust[5] meaning to cover or decorate (something) with a hard surface layer (i) the mussels encrust navigation buoys; (ii) the dried and encrusted blood.

27a   Spy // dispatched, having collected odd bits of gear etc (6,5)

Down

2d   Become a member again, /as/ penitent person but no pawn (2-5)

"pawn" = P (show explanation )

In chess, P[10] is the symbol for pawn.

A pawn[5] is a chess piece of the smallest size and value, that moves one square forwards along its file if unobstructed (or two on the first move), or one square diagonally forwards when making a capture. Each player begins with eight pawns on the second rank, and can promote a pawn to become any other piece (typically a queen) if it reaches the opponent’s end of the board.

hide explanation

3d   Paint /is/ something that can affect dogs badly (9)

Distemper[5] is a kind of paint using glue or size instead of an oil base, for use on walls or for scene-painting.

Distemper[5] is a viral disease of some animals, especially dogs, causing fever, coughing, and catarrh.

4d   Guy /with/ a couple of females after church (5)

Guy[3,4,11] (verb) means to make fun of, to hold up to ridicule, or to mock.

Chaff[5] (verb) is used in the sense of tease ⇒ the pleasures of drinking and betting and chaffing your mates [buddies].

5d   Soldier // held up by fire, poor thing (7)

6d   Understand // what could be easier will engage learner (7)

"learner" = L (show explanation )

The cryptic crossword convention of L meaning learner or student arises from the L-plate[7], a square plate bearing a sans-serif letter L, for learner, which must be affixed to the front and back of a vehicle in various jurisdictions (including the UK) if its driver is a learner under instruction.

hide explanation

7d   Highest-quality 27 /as/ investment in lottery (7,4)

The numeral "27" is a cross reference indicator directing the solver to insert the solution to clue 27a in its place to complete the clue. The directional indicator is customarily omitted in situations such as this where only a single clue starts in the light* that is being referenced.

* light-coloured cell in the grid

James Bond[5] (known also by his code name 007) is a fictional British secret agent in the spy novels of English author Ian Fleming (1908–1964).

In the UK, a Premium Bond[5] (also known as Premium Savings Bond) is a government security that offers no interest or capital gain but is entered in regular draws for cash prizes. [It sounds more like a perpetual lottery ticket than a government security.]

8d   Provided // the last bit expected to be brought in (6)

Endue[5] (also indue) is a literary term meaning endow or provide with a quality or ability Martin Luther once wrote, ‘The defects in a preacher are soon spied; let a preacher be endued with ten virtues, and but one fault, yet this one fault will eclipse and darken all his virtues and gifts.’.

11d   Yon revolutionary has ceremony /befitting/ right-wing politician (11)

Che Guevara[7] (1928–1967) was an Argentine Marxist revolutionary, physician, author, guerrilla leader, diplomat, and military theorist. A major figure of the Cuban Revolution, his stylized visage has become a ubiquitous countercultural symbol of rebellion and global insignia within popular culture.

A Thatcherite[5] is a supporter of the political and economic policies of the former British Conservative Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, particularly those involving the privatization of nationalized industries and trade union legislation he was a Thatcherite on economic issues.

16d   Heather, full of terrible dread, /is/ running (9)

Ling[5] is another name for the common heather[5] (Calluna vulgaris), a purple-flowered Eurasian heath that grows abundantly on moorland and heathland.

In Britain, a vertical strip of unravelled fabric in tights or stockings is known as a ladder[5] ⇒ one of Sally’s stockings developed a ladder. As a verb, ladder (with reference to tights or stockings) means to develop or cause to develop a ladder ⇒ (i) her tights were always laddered; (ii) they laddered the minute I put them on.

18d   Design // firm wants male model (7)

19d   Help // to a greater extent (7)

20d   A little bit /in/ cup soon dissolving (7)

A soupçon*[5] is a very small quantity of something ⇒ a soupçon of mustard.

* Soupçon[8] is a French word meaning 'suspicion'.

21d   King /with/ skill, taking time, missing nothing (6)

Arthur[5] was a legendary king of Britain, historically perhaps a 5th- or 6th-century Romano-British chieftain or general. Stories of his life, the exploits of his knights, and the Round Table of his court at Camelot were developed by Malory, Chrétien de Troyes, and other medieval writers and became the subject of many legends.

23d   Most insignificant // saint buried under meadow (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

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Tuesday, July 25, 2017 — DT 28424

Puzzle at a Glance
Puzzle Number in The Daily Telegraph
DT 28424
Publication Date in The Daily Telegraph
Thursday, May 11, 2017
Setter
Dada (John Halpern)
Link to Full Review
Big Dave's Crossword Blog [DT 28424]
Big Dave's Crossword Blog Review Written By
pommers
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

Today's puzzle — according to the banter in the thread arising from Comment #19 on Big Dave's Crossword Blog — is the first "back-pager" Cryptic Crossword*.to be crafted by John Halpern who, under the pseudonym Dada,  is one of the setters for the Toughie Crossword** in The Daily Telegraph.

* The Cryptic Crossword is published Monday through Saturday in The Daily Telegraph. It appears on the back page (unless displaced by advertising). 
** The Toughie Crossword is published Tuesday through Friday in The Daily Telegraph. It appears on an inside page and gets its name from the fact that it is intended to be a more difficult puzzle than the regular Cryptic Crossword.

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   Ground amid spring, // moisture inside (6,4)

Rising damp[5] is a British term for moisture absorbed from the ground into a wall ⇒ he is looking at ways to halt rising damp.

Behind the Video
Rising Damp[7] is a British sitcom produced by Yorkshire Television for the British commercial TV network ITV. ITV originally broadcast the programme from 1974 to 1978. The series was the highest-ranking ITV sitcom in BBC's 100 Best Sitcoms poll of 2004.

The programme revolves around a miserly, seedy, and ludicrously self-regarding landlord* of a run-down Victorian townhouse and the tenants to whom he rents out his shabby bed-sitting rooms.

* The landlord is played by English actor Leonard Rossiter (1926–1984), thus Jane's reference to "Leonard and his lodgers" at Comment #10.

6a   Ultimately, self-righteous face shown to be this? (4)

In this semi-&lit (or, should you prefer, semi-all-in-one) clue, the entire clue serves as the definition into which the wordplay (marked with a dashed underline) is embedded.

10a   Characteristic of a city viewed from either direction (5)

The primary indication in this clue is a precise definition (indicated by a solid underline). The subsidiary indication is an elaborating phrase (marked with a dashed underline) that specifies that the solution is a palindrome. In this case, the subsidiary indication does not provide a separate means to obtain the solution but rather imposes a constraint on the primary indication.

11a   Massive // binding material (9)

12a   In a gale, struggling to maintain cold // plant (8)

Angelica[5] is any of many species of tall aromatic plant of the parsley family, with large leaves and yellowish-green flowers, used in cooking and herbal medicine.

13a   Standard // scheme ending in betrayal (5)

Standard[2] is used here in the sense of accepted as supremely authoritative ⇒ the standard text of Shakespeare rather than taking the more common meaning of having features that are generally accepted as normal or expected; typical; average; unexceptional. Ironically, the two meanings are close to being direct opposites of each other.

15a   Coming down hard, // leaderless regiment gets beaten (7)

17a   Stupid, // as I figure (7)

19a   Get loan out /to acquire/ fruit (7)

The tangelo[5] is a hybrid of the tangerine and grapefruit.

21a   God longing /for/ spirit (7)

In Greek mythology, Pan[5] is a god of flocks and herds, typically represented with the horns, ears, and legs of a goat on a man's body. His sudden appearance was supposed to cause terror similar to that of a frightened and stampeding herd, and the word panic is derived from his name.

22a   Pensioner keeps books // handy (2,3)

In Britain, the abbreviation OAP[5] stands for old-age pensioner.

In Crosswordland, the word "books" is commonly used to clue either the Old Testament (OT) or the New Testament (NT). Today, as is frequently the case, the clue provides no indication whether the reference is to the former or the latter.

24a   Possible description of sudoku, // kind of finished (8)

27a   Vegetable /that's/ popular restricted by hotel (9)

An auberge[5] is an inn in France or other French-speaking country.

Aubergine[5] is a British name for eggplant.

28a   Message /of/ some vitriol I am expecting back (5)

29a   Measure // enclosed area (4)

Here and There
The terms yard and garden are used somewhat differently in Britain than they are in North America.

In Britain, a yard[10] is a piece of enclosed ground, usually either paved [covered with paving stones] or laid with concrete and often adjoining or surrounded by a building or buildings.

In Britain, a garden[2,10] is an area of land, usually one adjoining a house, where grass, trees, flowers and other ornamental plants, fruit, vegetables, etc, are grown (i.e., what one would call a yard in Canada and the US).

Note that a British garden includes the lawn as well as everything else whereas a North American garden would comprise only the flower and vegetable beds and any trees or shrubs contained therein and exclude the lawn and any trees or shrubs growing there.

30a   Short distance // putting fourth dimension in focus (10)

Down

1d   People // hurry (4)

2d   Number // observed hosting sporting competition, perhaps (9)

What did he say?
In his review on Big Dave's Crossword Blog, pommers writes of the sporting competition equestrians have just been doing a three day one at Badminton.
Eventing[7] (also known as horse trials) is an equestrian event where a single horse and rider combination compete against other combinations across the three disciplines of dressage, cross-country, and show jumping. The competition may be run as a one-day event (ODE), where all three events are completed in one day or a three-day event (3DE), which is more commonly now run over four days.

The Badminton Horse Trials[7] is a three-day event, one of only six annual Concours Complet International (CCI) Four Star **** events as classified by the Fédération Équestre Internationale (FEI). It takes place in April or May each year in the park of Badminton House, the seat of the Duke of Beaufort in South Gloucestershire, England.

3d   Mother-of-pearl /in/ new area of land (5)

4d   Stylish // sprinting (7)

5d   Bar with style of // Italian drink (7)

In cooking, à la[5] denotes (with respect to a dish) cooked or prepared in a specified way ⇒ fish cooked à la meunière. The term is also used informally to mean in the style or manner of ⇒ afternoon talk shows à la Oprah.

Marsala[5] is a dark, sweet fortified dessert wine that resembles sherry, produced in Sicily. It is named after Marsala, a town in Sicily where it was originally made.

7d   Chief over European // state (5)

8d   Staring wildly /given/ crack, goods you popped in Leeds when not all there (6-4)

"good" = G (show explanation )

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

hide explanation

Scratching the Surface
Leeds[5] is an industrial city in West Yorkshire, northern England; population 441,100 (est. 2009). It developed as a wool town in the Middle Ages, becoming a centre of the clothing trade in the Industrial Revolution.

9d   One's patients may not be looking well (8)

14d   Still // writing stuff for the radio? (10)

16d   Get // in old forward, /appearing as/ amateurish (8)

Neither the cryptic reading nor the surface reading of this clue is particularly clear to me.

In the cryptic reading, I would think that "get ... appearing as" must act is a split link phrase which envelops the wordplay.

In the surface reading, I presume the clue insinuates that a sports club brings in (gets in) an over-the-hill player to fill a forward position. Perhaps his play is so bad as to appear amateurish. On the other hand, perhaps the manager appears amateurish for having brought in such a player.

18d   Unfortunate instances, // uninterrupted (9)

20d   Rotten team // illegally positioned (7)

Off[10] (said of food or drink) means having gone bad, sour, etc ⇒ this milk is off.

"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 "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.

hide explanation

21d   Something to open // here (7)

23d   King Edward, perhaps, /taking/ bath with the Queen (5)

Here we need to think of bath as a noun being a fixture in the bathroom.

"the Queen" = ER (show explanation )

The regnal ciphers (monograms) of British monarchs are initials formed from the Latin version of their first name followed by either Rex or Regina (Latin for king or queen, respectively). Thus, the regnal cipher of Queen Elizabeth is ER[5] — from the Latin Elizabetha Regina.

hide explanation

King Edward[5] denotes an oval potato of a variety with a white skin mottled with red [named after King Edward VII].

25d   Fantasy -- // in short, ecstasy (5)

Short[5] (noun) is a British term for a drink of spirits served in a small measure* or, as Collins English Dictionary puts it, a short[10] is a drink of spirits as opposed to a long drink such as beer.

* A measure[5] is a container of standard capacity used for taking fixed amounts of a substance.

"Ecstasy" = E (show explanation )

E[5] is an abbreviation for the drug Ecstasy* or a tablet of Ecstasy ⇒ (i) people have died after taking E; (ii) being busted with three Es can lead to stiff penalties.
* Ecstasy[5] is an illegal amphetamine-based synthetic drug with euphoric effects, originally produced as an appetite suppressant. Also called MDMA (Methylenedioxymethamphetamine).
hide explanation

26d   Dirty // colour (4)

Although pommers has not marked it as such in his review on Big Dave's Crossword Blog, I would classify this as a double definition with the first being an adjective meaning pornographic.
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, July 24, 2017

Monday, July 24, 2017 — DT 28423 (Published Saturday, July 22, 2017)

Puzzle at a Glance
Puzzle Number in The Daily Telegraph
DT 28423
Publication Date in The Daily Telegraph
Wednesday, May 10, 2017
Setter
Jay (Jeremy Mutch)
Link to Full Review
Big Dave's Crossword Blog [DT 28423]
Big Dave's Crossword Blog Review Written By
2Kiwis
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
Notes
This puzzle appears on the Monday Diversions page in the Saturday, July 22, 2017 edition of the National Post.

Introduction

Today we find Jay in a rather gentle mood, although there are a few British terms which may puzzle those on this side of the pond — especially those Saturday-only subscribers to the National Post who may have only recently been exposed to British puzzles. I expect the homophone based on British pronunciation may also cause consternation in some quarters.

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   Labour-shunning folk carrying Independent -- // they're seeking depth, not afraid to be wet? (4-6)

Skiver[5] is an informal British term for a person who avoids work or a duty by staying away or leaving early; in other words, a shirker.

Ind.[5] is the abbreviation for independent[5], a politician not belonging to or supported by a political party.

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.

Wet[5] (adjective) is an informal British term meaning showing a lack of forcefulness or strength of character; in other words, feeble ⇒ they thought the cadets were a bit wet.

In British political circles, the name wet[5] is applied to a Conservative with liberal tendencies ⇒ the wets favoured a change in economic policy. It was a term frequently used by former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher for those to the left of her in the British Conservative Party [which must have been just about everyone].

6a   Very dry, // yet welcoming the end of winter (4)

Brut[5] (an adjective used to describe sparkling wine) means unsweetened; very dry.

9a   Loud American taken in by genuine // rejection (7)

"loud" = F (show explanation )

Forte[5] (abbreviation f[5]) is a musical direction meaning (as an adjective) loud or (as an adverb) loudly.

hide explanation

10a   Capital /and/ income principally invested in new casino (7)

Nicosia[5] is the capital of Cyprus; population 233,000 (est. 2007). Since 1974 it has been divided into Greek and Turkish sectors.

12a   Doggedness /seen in/ argument with superior in error (5,5,3)

A stiff upper lip[3,5] is a quality of uncomplaining stoicism; in  other words, an attitude of determined endurance or restraint in the face of adversity senior managers had to keep a stiff upper lip and remain optimistic.

14a   Pair oddly going with villains /to get/ canoes (8)

A pirogue[5] is a long, narrow canoe made from a single tree trunk, especially in Central America and the Caribbean.

15a   Soldiers hand out // painful experience (6)

"soldiers" = OR (show explanation )

In the British armed forces, the term other ranks[5] (abbreviation OR[5]) refers to all those who are not commissioned officers.

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17a   Popular commercial vehicle carries one // to no avail (2,4)

19a   Track information on love /and/ cause of disease (8)

Gen[5] is an informal British term for information ⇒ you’ve got more gen on him than we have.

"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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This clue adheres to the cryptic crossword convention that the word "on" — when used as a positional indicator in an across clue — signifies 'following'  (show explanation )

"A on B" Convention
An often ignored cryptic crossword convention provides that, in an across clue, the construction "A on B" is used to clue B + A.

The rationale for this practice is that in order for A to be placed on B, B must already have been positioned (i.e., already have been written). Since the English language is written from left to right, this means that B must come first and A is then appended to it.

Notwithstanding the above, a solver must always be vigilant for setters who flout this convention.

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21a   Area of growth /that's/ a redneck thing, possibly (7,6)

24a   Home team resistance /shows/ the person with the lowdown (7)

"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 "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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"resistance" = R (show explanation )

In physics, R[5] is a symbol used to represent electrical resistance in mathematical formulae.

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25a   Incorporated approach /for/ bank (7)

26a   Horse backed in front of good // crowd (4)

"good" = G (show explanation )

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

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27a   Looking back /with/ honour to accept the origins of this royal office (10)

Down

1d   Type // looked for on the radio (4)

The word "sort", when pronounced in a non-rhotic (show explanation ) accent typical of dialects found in many parts of Britain, sounds like "so't" — similar to the sound of the word "sought".

Non-rhotic accents omit the sound < r > in certain situations, while rhotic accents generally pronounce < r > in all contexts. Among the several dozen British English accents which exist, many are non-rhotic while American English (US and Canadian) is mainly rhotic. This is, however, a generalisation, as there are areas of Britain that are rhotic, and areas of America that are non-rhotic. For more information, see this guide to pronouncing < r > in British English.

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2d   A preparer of tea // endlessly refusing to work (7)

3d   Thin disguise failed and Democrat // saw the difference (13)

"Democrat" = D (show explanation )

A Democrat[5] (abbreviation D[5]) is a member or supporter of the Democratic Party[5], one of the two main US political parties (the other being the Republican Party), which follows a broadly liberal programme, tending to support social reform and minority rights.

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4d   Slandered // if I must be taken in by poor devil (8)

5d   Accumulated // some homespun articles on the way back (3,2)

7d   12 // about to work out (7)

The numeral "12" is a cross reference indicator directing the solver to insert the solution to clue 12a in its place to complete the clue. The directional indicator is customarily omitted in situations such as this where only a single clue starts in the light* that is being referenced.

* light-coloured cell in the grid

8d   Vagrant with old profession /as/ a bouncer (10)

11d   Gain on the cards /and/ get ready for action (5,3,5)

In this case — it being a down clue (in contrast to 19a which was an across clue) — the word "on" is used as a positional indicator to denote preceding (i.e., CLEAR is written 'on top of' or before THE DECKS in a down clue).

13d   Few /getting/ hint after super drops regulars (10)

The wordplay is INKLING (hint) following (after) SPR {SuPeR with a regular sequence of letters removed (drops regulars)}. While today the "regulars" turn out to be the even-numbered sequence, on an another occasion they might equally well be the odd-numbered sequence.

Scratching the Surface
Super is an informal short form of superintendent[2,3,4,5,10,11] or supervisor[4,10,11].

16d   Casual // supporter of the monarchy (8)

A Cavalier[3,5] (also called Royalist) was a supporter of Charles I of England in his struggles against Parliament in the English Civil War.

18d   Elects // to offend after challenging veto (5,2)

20d   Reports // figure moving around bottom of garden (7)

22d   Bottle // opener vet stocks (5)

Bottle[5] is an informal British term denoting the courage or confidence needed to do something difficult or dangerous ⇒ I lost my bottle completely and ran.

23d   Exploit // energy in adipose tissue (4)

"energy" = E (show explanation )

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

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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