Thursday, November 15, 2018

Thursday, November 15, 2018 — DT 28772

Puzzle at a Glance
Puzzle Number in The Daily Telegraph
DT 28772
Publication Date in The Daily Telegraph
Friday, June 22, 2018
Setter
Giovanni (Don Manley)
Link to Full Review
Big Dave's Crossword Blog [DT 28772]
Big Dave's Crossword Blog Review Written By
Miffypops (subbing for Deep Threat)
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

If you are like me, you found that this puzzle from Giovanni not unexpectedly contains some new words, some unfamiliar meanings for words you thought you knew well, and a Biblical reference.

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.

Click here for an explanation of conventions and symbols used in explaining the parsing of clues.


The purpose of this article is to explain the conventions and symbols that I use on this blog in explaining the parsing of clues.

Legend:

The following symbols are used in reviews:
  • "*" anagram
  • "~" sounds like
  • "<" indicates that the preceding letters are reversed
  • "( )" encloses contained letters
  • "_" replaces letters that have been deleted
  • "†" indicates that the word is present in the clue

The review of a clue takes the following general structure:

#a/d   Clue containing parsing markup (num*)

* num = numeration

Explanations pertaining to the wordplay (or first definition in a double definition)

(Horizontal separator)


Explanations pertaining to the definition (or second definition in a double definition) and solution.

Explanatory Box
An explanatory box provides additional information about the clue. In most cases this information will not necessarily help in solving the clue but provides information about the clue. In the case of the weekday syndicated Daily Telegraph puzzles, such information is often intended to help the North American solver appreciate how the clue may be perceived by a British solver. These boxes may also provide information on people, places, films, television programmes, works of art and literature, etc. mentioned in the clue.

Although the titles of these boxes will usually be drawn from a standard list, I do occasionally throw in a title specifically suggested by the subject at hand. The standard titles include:
  • Scratching the Surface - an explanation of the surface reading of the clue
  • Delving Deeper - in-depth information pertaining to a subject mentioned in an explanation
  • The Story Behind the Picture - for weekday puzzles, information about an illustration found on Big Dave's Crossword Blog
  • What did he/she/they say? - for weekday puzzles, an explanation of a remark made in a review or comment on Big Dave's Crossword Blog
  • What are they talking about? - for weekday puzzles, an explanation of a discussion on Big Dave's Crossword Blog
One box that may provide information that could prove helpful in solving the clue is the following:
  • Here and There - for weekday puzzles, discusses words whose British meaning differs from their North American meaning

Note that there are many types of cryptic crossword clue and it is not my intention to exhaustively go through all of them here. I will only deal with clue types to the extent necessary to explain the conventions and symbols used on the blog. Furthermore, be aware that, in the world of cryptic crosswords, there seems to be an exception to every rule.

With one exception that I can think of, cryptic crossword clues provide two routes to the solution. These are commonly referred to as the definition and wordplay. While these terms serve well for most clues, there are some cases where the more formal terms of primary indication and subsidiary indication may be more appropriate.

Most cryptic crossword clues consist of a definition (primary indication) and wordplay (subsidiary indication). The definition may be a "precise definition" (a definition that is either taken straight from a dictionary or at least phrased in a non-misleading fashion) or it may be a "cryptic definition" (a definition misleadingly phrased so as to misdirect the solver either with respect to the meaning of the definition as a whole or to an incorrect sense of a word used in the definition).

The only type of clue that I can think of where there are not two ways of finding the solution are those in which the entire clue is a cryptic definition.
I identify precise definitions by marking them with a solid underline in the clue and cryptic definitions by marking them with a dotted underline.
In clues in which both definition and wordplay are present, the two parts of the clue combine to provide an overall meaningful statement (the surface reading) which usually bears no relationship to the underlying cryptic reading of the clue. In some cases, an extra word or phrase will be inserted into the clue to create a meaningful link between the definition and wordplay. I define clues which contain such a link word or link phrase as having an explicit link and clues which contain no link word or link phrase as having an implicit link.
I mark the existence of an explicit link by enclosing the link word or link phrase between forward slashes (/link/) and mark the existence of an implicit link with double forward slashes (//) positioned between the definition and wordplay.
Examples

A few examples may help to illustrate these points more clearly.

The first example is a clue used by Jay in DT 28573:

  • 4d   Fellow left work // a failure (4)
Here the definition is "a failure" which is marked with a solid underline to show that it is a precise definition. The wordplay parses as F (fellow; abbrev.) + L (left; abbrev.) + OP (work; abbrev. used in music) which gives us the solution F|L|OP. The double forward slashes (//) between the definition and wordplay indicate the existence of an "implicit link" between the two parts of the clue (that is, no extra words are inserted into the clue to form the link).

The second example is a clue used by Giovanni in DT 28575:
  • 29a   Female going to match // travels with mother in advance (10)
Here the definition "female going to match" is cryptic (the setter is attempting to misdirect our thoughts to a sports event rather than a marriage ceremony) and thus is marked with a a dotted underline. The wordplay is {RIDES (travels) + (with) MA (mother)} contained in (in) BID (advance) giving us the solution B(RIDES|MA)ID. As in the first example, the double forward slashes indicate the presence of an implicit link.

The third example is a clue used by Rufus is DT 28583:
  • 18d   Knight caught by misplaced big blow /is/ staggering (8)
Here the definition is "staggering" which is marked with a solid underline to show that it is a precise definition. The wordplay parses as N ([chess symbol for] knight) contained in (caught in) an anagram (misplaced) of BIG BLOW producing the solution WOBBLI(N)G. Finally, forward slashes mark the link word (/is/).
I also use distinctive underlining to mark &lit.[7] and semi-&lit. clues. Note that the reviewers on Big Dave's Crossword Blog generally prefer to refer to these clue types by the less pretentious names of all-in-one or semi-all-in-one clues respectively.

In an &lit. clue[7] (or all-in-one clue) the entire clue provides not only the definition (when read one way), but under a different interpretation also serves as the wordplay.
In future, I will mark such clues with a combined solid and dashed underline. Although this is a departure from past practice, it would seem to make more sense than using a dotted underline as I have in the past). Henceforth, the dotted underline will be reserved for cryptic definitions.
In a semi-&lit. clue (or semi-all-in-one clue), either:
  • the entire clue acts as the definition while a portion of the clue provides the wordplay; or
  • the entire clue acts as the wordplay while a portion of the clue provides the definition.
For these clues, I will mark the definition with a solid underline and the wordplay with a  dashed underline. This means that a portion of the clue may have a solid underline, a portion of the clue may have a dashed underline and a portion of the clue may have a combined solid and dashed underline.
One final clue type is what I characterize as a cryptic definition comprised of a precise definition combined with cryptic elaboration. For example, in DT 28560 (setter unknown) the following clue appears:
  •  26d   Heroic exploit, whichever way you look at it (4)
As the entire clue is a cryptic definition, it is marked with a dotted underline. The 'precise definition' is "heroic exploit" and is indicated by a solid underline.

Given the numeration, the precise definition could give rise to at least two solutions, DEED or FEAT. However, the 'cryptic elaboration' ("whichever way you look at it") indicates that the solution is a palindrome thereby immediately eliminating one of the two obvious choices.

Note that the part of the clue that I have called 'cryptic elaboration' does not provide a second independent route to the solution (as the wordplay would do in most other types of clue). Rather it merely provides a piece of additional information (elaboration) related to the 'precise definition'.

Again, this approach is a departure from past practice, but like the other changes mentioned previously is intended to remove inconsistencies in the way that I have been applying parsing markup to clues. The markup rules that I have been using until now evolved bit-by-bit over a long period of time resulting in some degree of internal inconsistency.

hide explanation

Across

5a   Enchanted -- /and/ about to get hurt (7)

7a   Preface // for this writer written retrospectively (5)

"this writer" = ME (show explanation )

It is a common cryptic crossword convention for the creator of the puzzle to use terms such as (the or this) compiler, (the or this) setter, (the or this) speaker, (this) author, (this) writer, or this person to refer to himself or herself. To solve such a clue, one must generally substitute a first person pronoun (I or ME) for whichever of these terms has been used in the clue.

hide explanation

Proem[5] is a formal term for a preface or preamble to a book or speech.

9a   Duck /when/ escort gets hit (6)

The scoter[5] is a northern diving duck that winters off the coast, the male of which has mainly black plumage.

10a   Article about group of people in the middle of Russia, // Muslims (8)

The meaning of Saracen[10] has evolved over the ages. At the time of the Roman Empire, it meant a member of one of the nomadic Arabic tribes, especially of the Syrian desert, that harassed the borders of the Roman Empire in that region. Later, at the time of the crusades, the name was used for a Muslim, especially one who opposed the crusades. Later yet again, the term came to mean any Arab.

11a   Detected // journalist's halo maybe! (10)

13a   Place /of/ bitterness not keeping quiet (4)

"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

14a   Flexing muscle, sire is carrying one // powerful weapon (6,7)

A cruise missile[5] is a low-flying missile which is guided to its target by an on-board computer.

16a   Fool // cuts material short (4)

Clot[5] is an informal British term for a foolish or clumsy person ⇒ Watch where you’re going, you clot!.

17a   William Brown's friend mad /for/ biscuits (6,4)

The Just William series[7] is a sequence of thirty-nine books written by English author Richmal Crompton (1890–1969). The books chronicle the adventures of the unruly schoolboy William Brown. William is the leader of his band of friends, who call themselves the Outlaws, with his best friend Ginger and his other friends Henry and Douglas.



Ginger nut[1,2,4,5,10] (also called ginger snap[2,5] or gingersnap[1,3,4,10,11]) is a British term for a hard ginger-flavoured biscuit [cookie (see "Here and There" box)]. The Chambers Dictionary defines ginger nut[1] as a small thick gingersnap.

Here and There
The British use the term biscuit[3,4,11] to refer to a range of foods that include those that would be called either cookies or crackers in North America.

A North American biscuit[5] is similar to what is known in Britain as a scone.

19a   Unmarried female writer having time // wasted (8)

Here and There
The setter has almost certainly used "writer" as a cryptic allusion to an implement used for writing. While North American dictionaries also define pen[3,11] as a writer or an author ⇒ a hired pen, British dictionaries do not list this meaning although they do show pen[2,4] (or the pen[5,10]) as symbolically denoting writing as an occupation.

Thus the use of the word "writer" to clue PEN would likely be slightly more cryptic to the Brits than it is to us on this side of the pond.

20a   Notice old politicians /making/ off-the-cuff comments (2-4)

Endangered Species
The Liberal Party[5] (abbreviation Lib.[5] or L[2])* in Britain emerged in the 1860s from the old Whig Party and until the First World War was one of the two major parties in Britain. In 1988 the party regrouped with elements of the Social Democratic Party to form the Social and Liberal Democrats, now known as the Liberal Democrats.

However, a small Liberal Party still exists (founded in 1989 by members of the original Liberal Party opposed to its merger with the Social Democratic Party) although it has no representation in the UK Parliament, no Members of the European Parliament (MEP), no members of the Scottish Parliament, nor any members of the National Assembly for Wales. Today, the party holds only a handful of seats at the local government level.[7]

* Although Lib.[5] may be the more common abbreviation for the Liberal Party in Britain — likely to distinguish it from the the Labour Party[5] (abbreviation Lab.[5]) — Chambers 21st Century Dictionary indicates that L[2] may also be used.

Who is he talking about?
In his review on Big Dave's Crossword Blog, Miffypops describes the Liberals as politicians of the Jeremy Thorpe era.
Jeremy Thorpe[7] (1929–2014) was a British politician who served as leader of the Liberal Party between 1967 and 1976. In May 1979 he was tried on charges of conspiracy and incitement to murder, arising from an earlier relationship with Norman Scott, a former model. Thorpe was acquitted on all charges, but the case, and the furore surrounding it, ended his political career.

22a   Superficial brightness /of/ hospital noticed on the outside (5)

"hospital" = H

The Story Behind the Pictures
Miffypops illustrates his review with photos of British professional motorcycle racer Barry Sheene (1950–2003) and American actor Martin Sheen[7] (professional name of Ramón Gerard Antonio Estévez) who played President Josiah Bartlet in the television series The West Wing (1999-2006).

23a   Son gets box -- // one greedy for chocolates, maybe? (7)

"son" = S (show explanation )

In genealogies, s[5] is the abbreviation for son(s) ⇒ m 1991; one s one d*.

* married in 1991; one son and one daughter.

hide explanation

Down

1d   Stay // to hear Terry who was held hostage (4)

Terry Waite[7] is an English humanitarian and author. Waite was the Assistant for Anglican Communion Affairs for the then Archbishop of Canterbury, Robert Runcie, in the 1980s. As an envoy for the Church of England, he travelled to Lebanon to try to secure the release of four hostages, including the journalist John McCarthy. He was himself kidnapped and held captive from 1987 to 1991.

2d   Independent politician travels here and there /for/ rallies (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

What did he say?
In his review on Big Dave's Crossword Blog, Miffypops writes Use three abbreviations that signify independent politicians.
Although they combine to produce three letters, I would say that only two abbreviations are involved.

3d   Sort of town Communist // liberated (6)

A spa town[7] is a resort town based on a mineral spa (a developed mineral spring). Patrons visit spas to "take the waters" for their purported health benefits. The word spa is derived from the name of Spa, a town in Belgium.

4d   Study period said /to be/ right (10)

"study"= CON (show explanation )

Con[5] is an archaic term meaning to study attentively or learn by heart (a piece of writing)  ⇒ the girls conned their pages with a great show of industry.

hide explanation



A concession[5] is the right to use land or other property for a specified purpose, granted by a government, company, or other controlling body new logging concessions.

5d   Plants /needing/ some drastic action (5)

6d   Rebellious minister is cad /and/ is prejudiced (13)

8d   Marine creature // mum has eaten -- horrible! (7)

A manatee[5] is a sea cow* of tropical Atlantic coasts and estuaries, with a rounded tail flipper.

* A sea cow[5] (or sirenian[5]) is a large aquatic plant-eating mammal of the order Sirenia, such as a manatee or dugong.

12d   Ladies // keep a tally of letters, we hear (10)

"Lady[7]" is a formal title in the United Kingdom. "Lady" is used before the family name of a woman with a title of nobility or honorary title suo jure (in her own right), or the wife of a lord (i.e., a duke, marquess, earl, viscount, or baron), a baronet, laird, or a knight, and also before the first name of the daughter of a duke, marquess, or earl.



A countess[5] is:
  • the wife or widow of a count [a foreign — from a British perspective — nobleman] or earl [a British nobleman]
  • a woman holding the rank of count or earl in her own right
Thus all British countesses are Ladies, but not all Ladies are countesses.

14d   Underground workers not given right // dogs (7)

15d   Designer, // the female artist leading French fashion (8)

"artist" = RA (show explanation )

A Royal Academician (abbreviation RA[10]) is a member of the Royal Academy of Arts[5] (also Royal Academy; abbreviation also RA[10]), an institution established in London in 1768, whose purpose is to cultivate painting, sculpture, and architecture in Britain. 

hide explanation

Ton[10] (a French word adopted into English) means style, fashion, or distinction.



Thomas Sheraton[7] (1751–1806) was a furniture designer, one of the "big three" English furniture makers of the 18th century, along with Thomas Chippendale and George Hepplewhite. (show more )

Sheraton gave his name to a style of furniture characterized by a feminine refinement of late Georgian styles and became the most powerful source of inspiration behind the furniture of the late 18th century.

hide explanation

17d   Author // sounding fresh (6)

Green[5] (said of wood, food, or leather) denotes in its original or untreated state; not seasoned, tanned, cured, or dried.



Graham Greene[5] (1904–1991) was an English novelist. The moral paradoxes he saw in his Roman Catholic faith underlie much of his work. Notable works: Brighton Rock (1938), The Power and the Glory (1940), and The Third Man (written as a screenplay, and filmed in 1949; novel 1950).

18d   Mount /or/ hill in which sailor is buried (5)

"hill" = TOR (show explanation )

A tor[7] is a large, free-standing rock outcrop that rises abruptly from the surrounding smooth and gentle slopes of a rounded hill summit or ridge crest. In the South West of England, the term is commonly also used for the hills themselves – particularly the high points of Dartmoor in Devon and Bodmin Moor in Cornwall.

hide explanation

"sailor" = AB (show explanation )

In the Royal Navy, according to Oxford Dictionaries, able seaman[5] (abbreviation AB[5]), is a rank of sailor above ordinary seaman and below leading seaman. On the other hand, Collins English Dictionary tells us that an able seaman[10] (also called able-bodied seaman) is an ordinary seaman, especially one in the merchant navy, who has been trained in certain skills.

hide explanation



Mount Tabor[10] is a mountain in northern Israel, near Nazareth: traditionally regarded as the mountain where the Transfiguration* took place. Height: 588 m (1929 ft) * }

* The Transfiguration[10] is the change in the appearance of Christ that took place before three disciples (Matthew 17:1–9)

21d   Biography, // story about France's leader (4)

Life[5] is another term for biography ⇒ a life of Shelley.
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)
[14] - CollinsDictionary.com (COBUILD Advanced English Dictionary)
Signing off for today — Falcon

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Wednesday, November 14, 2018 — DT 28771

Puzzle at a Glance
Puzzle Number in The Daily Telegraph
DT 28771
Publication Date in The Daily Telegraph
Thursday, June 21, 2018
Setter
Unknown
Link to Full Review
Big Dave's Crossword Blog [DT 28771]
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

There are some tricky bits to this puzzle which appeared in the UK on the first day of summer.

The preceding comment led me to a fascinating Wikepedia article on Seasons[7]. I knew that summer in Australia coincided with winter in Canada — or does it. I was surprised to discover that the Australian seasonal boundaries do not align with ours. The Australian summer runs from December 1 to the end of February as they observe meteorological seasons versus our astronomical seasons.

Not all countries observe four seasons; many Asian calendars have six seasons.

And perhaps most interesting of all, Sweden and Finland use a non-calendar based definition for the seasons based on the temperature. This implies two things: first, the seasons do not begin at fixed dates but must be determined by observation and are known only after the fact; and second, a new season begins at different dates in different parts of the country.

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.

Click here for an explanation of conventions and symbols used in explaining the parsing of clues.


The purpose of this article is to explain the conventions and symbols that I use on this blog in explaining the parsing of clues.

Legend:

The following symbols are used in reviews:
  • "*" anagram
  • "~" sounds like
  • "<" indicates that the preceding letters are reversed
  • "( )" encloses contained letters
  • "_" replaces letters that have been deleted
  • "†" indicates that the word is present in the clue

The review of a clue takes the following general structure:

#a/d   Clue containing parsing markup (num*)

* num = numeration

Explanations pertaining to the wordplay (or first definition in a double definition)

(Horizontal separator)


Explanations pertaining to the definition (or second definition in a double definition) and solution.

Explanatory Box
An explanatory box provides additional information about the clue. In most cases this information will not necessarily help in solving the clue but provides information about the clue. In the case of the weekday syndicated Daily Telegraph puzzles, such information is often intended to help the North American solver appreciate how the clue may be perceived by a British solver. These boxes may also provide information on people, places, films, television programmes, works of art and literature, etc. mentioned in the clue.

Although the titles of these boxes will usually be drawn from a standard list, I do occasionally throw in a title specifically suggested by the subject at hand. The standard titles include:
  • Scratching the Surface - an explanation of the surface reading of the clue
  • Delving Deeper - in-depth information pertaining to a subject mentioned in an explanation
  • The Story Behind the Picture - for weekday puzzles, information about an illustration found on Big Dave's Crossword Blog
  • What did he/she/they say? - for weekday puzzles, an explanation of a remark made in a review or comment on Big Dave's Crossword Blog
  • What are they talking about? - for weekday puzzles, an explanation of a discussion on Big Dave's Crossword Blog
One box that may provide information that could prove helpful in solving the clue is the following:
  • Here and There - for weekday puzzles, discusses words whose British meaning differs from their North American meaning

Note that there are many types of cryptic crossword clue and it is not my intention to exhaustively go through all of them here. I will only deal with clue types to the extent necessary to explain the conventions and symbols used on the blog. Furthermore, be aware that, in the world of cryptic crosswords, there seems to be an exception to every rule.

With one exception that I can think of, cryptic crossword clues provide two routes to the solution. These are commonly referred to as the definition and wordplay. While these terms serve well for most clues, there are some cases where the more formal terms of primary indication and subsidiary indication may be more appropriate.

Most cryptic crossword clues consist of a definition (primary indication) and wordplay (subsidiary indication). The definition may be a "precise definition" (a definition that is either taken straight from a dictionary or at least phrased in a non-misleading fashion) or it may be a "cryptic definition" (a definition misleadingly phrased so as to misdirect the solver either with respect to the meaning of the definition as a whole or to an incorrect sense of a word used in the definition).

The only type of clue that I can think of where there are not two ways of finding the solution are those in which the entire clue is a cryptic definition.
I identify precise definitions by marking them with a solid underline in the clue and cryptic definitions by marking them with a dotted underline.
In clues in which both definition and wordplay are present, the two parts of the clue combine to provide an overall meaningful statement (the surface reading) which usually bears no relationship to the underlying cryptic reading of the clue. In some cases, an extra word or phrase will be inserted into the clue to create a meaningful link between the definition and wordplay. I define clues which contain such a link word or link phrase as having an explicit link and clues which contain no link word or link phrase as having an implicit link.
I mark the existence of an explicit link by enclosing the link word or link phrase between forward slashes (/link/) and mark the existence of an implicit link with double forward slashes (//) positioned between the definition and wordplay.
Examples

A few examples may help to illustrate these points more clearly.

The first example is a clue used by Jay in DT 28573:

  • 4d   Fellow left work // a failure (4)
Here the definition is "a failure" which is marked with a solid underline to show that it is a precise definition. The wordplay parses as F (fellow; abbrev.) + L (left; abbrev.) + OP (work; abbrev. used in music) which gives us the solution F|L|OP. The double forward slashes (//) between the definition and wordplay indicate the existence of an "implicit link" between the two parts of the clue (that is, no extra words are inserted into the clue to form the link).

The second example is a clue used by Giovanni in DT 28575:
  • 29a   Female going to match // travels with mother in advance (10)
Here the definition "female going to match" is cryptic (the setter is attempting to misdirect our thoughts to a sports event rather than a marriage ceremony) and thus is marked with a a dotted underline. The wordplay is {RIDES (travels) + (with) MA (mother)} contained in (in) BID (advance) giving us the solution B(RIDES|MA)ID. As in the first example, the double forward slashes indicate the presence of an implicit link.

The third example is a clue used by Rufus is DT 28583:
  • 18d   Knight caught by misplaced big blow /is/ staggering (8)
Here the definition is "staggering" which is marked with a solid underline to show that it is a precise definition. The wordplay parses as N ([chess symbol for] knight) contained in (caught in) an anagram (misplaced) of BIG BLOW producing the solution WOBBLI(N)G. Finally, forward slashes mark the link word (/is/).
I also use distinctive underlining to mark &lit.[7] and semi-&lit. clues. Note that the reviewers on Big Dave's Crossword Blog generally prefer to refer to these clue types by the less pretentious names of all-in-one or semi-all-in-one clues respectively.

In an &lit. clue[7] (or all-in-one clue) the entire clue provides not only the definition (when read one way), but under a different interpretation also serves as the wordplay.
In future, I will mark such clues with a combined solid and dashed underline. Although this is a departure from past practice, it would seem to make more sense than using a dotted underline as I have in the past). Henceforth, the dotted underline will be reserved for cryptic definitions.
In a semi-&lit. clue (or semi-all-in-one clue), either:
  • the entire clue acts as the definition while a portion of the clue provides the wordplay; or
  • the entire clue acts as the wordplay while a portion of the clue provides the definition.
For these clues, I will mark the definition with a solid underline and the wordplay with a  dashed underline. This means that a portion of the clue may have a solid underline, a portion of the clue may have a dashed underline and a portion of the clue may have a combined solid and dashed underline.
One final clue type is what I characterize as a cryptic definition comprised of a precise definition combined with cryptic elaboration. For example, in DT 28560 (setter unknown) the following clue appears:
  •  26d   Heroic exploit, whichever way you look at it (4)
As the entire clue is a cryptic definition, it is marked with a dotted underline. The 'precise definition' is "heroic exploit" and is indicated by a solid underline.

Given the numeration, the precise definition could give rise to at least two solutions, DEED or FEAT. However, the 'cryptic elaboration' ("whichever way you look at it") indicates that the solution is a palindrome thereby immediately eliminating one of the two obvious choices.

Note that the part of the clue that I have called 'cryptic elaboration' does not provide a second independent route to the solution (as the wordplay would do in most other types of clue). Rather it merely provides a piece of additional information (elaboration) related to the 'precise definition'.

Again, this approach is a departure from past practice, but like the other changes mentioned previously is intended to remove inconsistencies in the way that I have been applying parsing markup to clues. The markup rules that I have been using until now evolved bit-by-bit over a long period of time resulting in some degree of internal inconsistency.

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Across

1a   Learned person, // one in form? (7)

In Britain, a form[5] is [or, perhaps more correctly,was] a class or year in a school, usually given a specifying number. Thus what we in North America would call a grade would be — or once was — known in Britain as a form, although the numbering system for forms and grades are vastly different. (show more )

The term "form" seems to have become passé as Miffypops in his review of DT 28163 on Big Dave's Crossword Blog refers to "sixth-former" as "What a schoolchild would be during the year before university back in the old days. This would now be known as year 13 or 14." Furthermore, Wikipedia (see table below) characterizes the term "form" as an "alternative/old name".

A form[7] is a class or grouping of students in a school. The term is used predominantly in the United Kingdom, although some schools, mostly private, in other countries also use the title. Pupils are usually grouped in forms according to age and will remain with the same group for a number of years, or sometimes their entire school career.

Forms are normally identified by a number such as "first form" or "sixth form". A form number may be used for two year groups and differentiated by the terms upper and lower [in general, this would seem to apply primarily for the sixth form]. Usually the sixth form is the senior form of a school [although this apparently does not hold true for New Zealand where they would appear to have a seventh form]. In England, the sixth form is usually divided into two year groups, the lower sixth and upper sixth, owing to the 3-year English college/university system. In Scotland or North America, the 6th form is usually a single year, owing to the 4-year college/university system. If there is more than one form for each year group they will normally be differentiated by letters, e.g., "upper four B", "lower two Y". Schools do not follow a consistent pattern in naming forms [in the foregoing quotation witness Miffypops' reference to "year 14",  a term which does not appear in the table below].

Wikipedia would appear to be at best ambiguous and at worst inconsistent on the relationship between the British and American systems of naming school years. The article from which the table below is excerpted shows that the British first form is equivalent to the American 6th grade. On the other hand, the article cited above states "In North America, the 1st Form (or sometimes 'Form I') is equivalent to 7th Grade." However, this latter statement may in fact be a comparison between the few North American schools to use the form system and the vast majority of North American schools that don't rather than a comparison between British and American schools.

 Age RangeBritish SystemAmerican System
NameAlternative/Old NameName
11-12Year 7First form6th grade
12-13Year 8Second form7th grade
13-14Year 9Third form8th grade
14-15Year 10Fourth form9th grade
15-16Year 11Fifth form10th grade
16-17Year 12Lower sixth form11th grade
17-18Year 13Upper sixth form12th grade

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5a   Two coppers regularly ask me /for/ bakery item (7)

"copper" = CU (show explanation )

The symbol for the chemical element copper is Cu[5] (from late Latin cuprum).

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PC[5] is a British designation for a police constablePC Bartholomew made his report.

9a   Cloak /is/ article that's stamped reduced (7)

10a   Writer /is/ one infiltrating Triads in disguise (7)

Who is he talking about?
In his review on Big Dave's Crossword Blog, pommers writes Samuel Pepys was one of these writers.
Samuel Pepys[5] [pronounced 'peeps' (1633–1703) was an English diarist and naval administrator. He is particularly remembered for his "Diary" (1660–9), which describes events such as the Great Plague and the Fire of London.

Scratching the Surface
A Triad[5] is a secret society originating in China, typically involved in organized crime.

11a   Tell raver to be composed, // one on a trip (9)

Scratching the Surface
Raver[5] is an informal British term for a person who has an exciting and uninhibited social life she sounds like a bit of a raver.

12a   State /that/ vagabond's hiding (5)

Gabon[5] is an equatorial country in West Africa, on the Atlantic coast. (show more )

Gabon became a French territory in 1888. Part of French Equatorial Africa from 1910 to 1958, it became an independent republic in 1960.

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13a   Reportedly feel sorry for yours truly /being/ sizable (5)

15a   Businesses /from/ East developed polymers (9)

Scratching the Surface
In chemistry, a polymer[5] is a substance which has a molecular structure built up chiefly or completely from a large number of similar units bonded together, e.g. many synthetic organic materials used as plastics and resins.

17a   A-lister // informs Republican American to retire (9)

What did he say?
In his review on Big Dave's Crossword Blog, pommers writes Start with a word for informs or shops ....
Shop[5] is an informal British term meaning to inform on (someone) ⇒ she shopped her husband to bosses for taking tools home.

"Republican" = REP (show explanation )

A Republican[5] (abbreviation R[5] or Rep.[5])  is a member or supporter of the Republican Party[5], one of the two main US political parties*, favouring a right-wing stance, limited central government, and tough, interventionist foreign policy. It was formed in 1854 in support of the anti-slavery movement preceding the Civil War.

* the other being the Democratic Party

In the UK, republican[5] can refer to an advocate of a united Ireland but the abbreviation does not seem to apply to that usage.

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An A-lister[5] is someone who is included on a real or imaginary list of the most celebrated or sought-after individuals, especially in show business ⇒  an A-list celebrity.

19a   Times /for/ one set of exam questions? (5)

The Times[7] is a British daily national newspaper based in London. (show more )

The paper began in 1785 under the title The Daily Universal Register and became The Times on 1 January 1788.

The Times and its sister paper The Sunday Times (founded in 1821) are published by Times Newspapers, since 1981 a subsidiary of News UK, itself wholly owned by the News Corp group headed by Australian-born American publisher and media entrepreneur Rupert Murdoch.

The Times and The Sunday Times do not share editorial staff, were founded independently and have only had common ownership since 1967.

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Paper[5] is a British term for;
  • a set of examination questions to be answered at one session ⇒ we had to sit a three-hour paper
  • the written answers to examination questions ⇒ you need to test your students, mark their papers, and place them in the right class
22a   Has food /from/ India included in mail coming west (5)

India[5] is a code word representing the letter I, used in radio communication [a point that pommers has overlooked in his review].

23a   Running away /from/ asylum, a king of France (6,3)

25a   Physical // feat to split slab (7)

Tiles are a common roofing material in the UK, a tile[5] being a thin rectangular slab of baked clay or other material, used in overlapping rows for covering roofs ⇒ trees shook violently and tiles were dislodged from rooftops. [I note that pommers envisions a different sort of tile in his review.]

26a   Inspire // knight to get involved in the tricky exploit (7)

"knight" = N (show explanation )

A knight[5] is a chess piece, typically with its top shaped like a horse’s head, that moves by jumping to the opposite corner of a rectangle two squares by three. Each player starts the game with two knights.

N[5] is the abbreviation for knight used in recording moves in chess [representing the pronunciation of kn-, since the initial letter k- represents 'king'].

As an aside, it is interesting to note that the Chambers 21st Century Dictionary defines: 
  • K[2] as an abbreviation used in chess for knight. 
  • K[2] is a symbol used in chess to represent a king. 
  • N[2] is a symbol used in chess to represent a knight.
The dictionary fails to specify how one differentiates an abbreviation from a symbol.

On the other hand, both The Chambers Dictionary and the Random House Kernerman Webster's College Dictionary list K or K.[1,11] as an abbreviation for knight without specifying the specific context in which this abbreviation is used. However, the context may well be in an honours list rather than in a game of chess. In the UK, for instance, KBE[5] stands for Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire.

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27a   Craft // starts to speed leaving unknown headland (7)

As the initialism indicator "starts" is plural, it is a clear direction to take the initial letters of at least two words.

"unknown" = Y (show explanation )

In mathematics (algebra, in particular), an unknown[10] is a variable, or the quantity it represents, the value of which is to be discovered by solving an equation ⇒ 3y = 4x + 5 is an equation in two unknowns. [Unknowns are customarily represented symbolically by the letters x, y and z.]

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"headland" = NESS (show explanation )

Ness[5] (a term usually found in place names) means a headland or promontory Orford Ness.

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28a   Ship infiltrated by hidden // evil-doers (7)

"ship" = SS (show explanation )

In Crosswordland, a ship is almost invariably a steamship, the abbreviation for which is SS[5]the SS Canberra.

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Down

1d   Army officer in fine // house (7)

2d   Criticise // attempt (4,1,2)

Have a go at[5] is a British expression meaning to attack or criticize (someone) she's always having a go at me.

3d   City // poorly covered in French article (5)

Poorly[5] (adjective) is a British term meaning unwell she looked poorly

* While North Americans might use the word poorly to mean 'in poor health', we would likely use it as an adverb in a statement such as I am feeling poorly today. On the other hand, Oxford Dictionaries provides the following examples of British usage:
  • I didn't manage too many lengths today but I haven't been for 2 weeks since being poorly sick.
  • Zoe Bird, 26, was forced to walk for an hour to reach her home with poorly toddler son Ryan after they were forced to leave the car.
  • Jakey on the other hand is poorly due to having an injection.
"French article" = LE (show explanation )

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

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Lille[5] is an industrial city in northern France, near the border with Belgium, the capital of Nord-Pas-de-Calais.

4d   Shocking // representation of Penn and Teller making Nag's Head disappear (9)

What did he say?
In his review on Big Dave's Crossword Blog, pommers writes As there are two N’s in the anagram fodder shouldn’t there be an indication that only one of them is to disappear?.
For myself, it was evident that only a single N was to disappear. Otherwise, would not the setter have specified "nags' heads"?

Scratching the Surface
Penn & Teller[7] (Penn Jillette and Teller*) are American magicians and entertainers who have performed together since the late 1970s, noted for their ongoing act that combines elements of comedy with magic.

* Teller[7] legally changed his name from "Raymond Joseph Teller" to the mononym "Teller".



Nag's Head may refer to:
  • Nag's Head[7], a locality in the London Borough of Islington (named for a no-longer existing pub)
  • The Nag's Head[7], a pub in Covent Garden, London

5d   IT worker // set up green screens over days (5)

On Big Dave's Crossword Blog, even some of the British solvers questioned the use of "green" to clue REC.

A green[10] is a small area of grassland, especially in the centre of a village [an area that might well be used for recreational purposes].

Here and There
Rec[5] is an informal British term for a recreation ground whereas in North America it is used as a short form for recreation ⇒ the rec centre. Thus Brits conduct their sporting activities at the rec while North Americans would pursue theirs at the rec centre.

"over" = O (show explanation )

On cricket scorecards, the abbreviation O[5] denotes over(s), an over[5] being a division of play consisting of a sequence of six balls bowled by a bowler from one end of the pitch, after which another bowler takes over from the other end.

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6d   Finally happy, getting in terribly popular // preschool club (9)

Unlike 27a (where there was a clear indication to take the initial letters of multiple words), there is no indication here that the final letter indicator ("finally") must be applied to more than one word.

7d   Friendly // question from self-doubter? (7)

8d   Stops supporting unlimited texts /as/ offers (7)

14d   Part of the country where there's more than one riding (9)

A riding[5] is one of three former administrative divisions of Yorkshire, specifically the East Riding, the North Riding, or the West Riding.

16d   Peak rates upset // flyers (9)

17d   Repositioned as steed // relaxes (7)

18d   Police station in settlement /makes you/ anxious (7)

Nick[5] is an informal British name for a police station ⇒ he was being fingerprinted in the nick.

20d   Obtain // advantage over scoundrel with ecstasy (7)

"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).

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What did he say?
In his review on Big Dave's Crossword Blog, pommers writes Not sure about the first three letters being an advantage.
Does not "Pros and Cons" mean "Advantages and Disadvantages"?

21d   They support // people going via water (7)

23d   Events /being/ those vegetarians eschew vocally (5)

What did he say?
In his review on Big Dave's Crossword Blog, pommers writesThese events might have been fox hunts back in the day ....
 Meet[5] is a British term for a gathering of riders and hounds before a hunt begins ⇒ she fell from her horse during a weekend meet.

However, it is not necessary to look to this particularly British sense of the word as meet[5] can also denote an organized event at which a number of races or other athletic contests are held major meets such as national championships.

24d   Half-hearted idea /is/ unacceptable (3,2)

What did he say?
In his review on Big Dave's Crossword Blog, pommers writes I’ve always thought “half-hearted” means remove one of a double letter from the middle of a word, not just take out any old letter as used here ....
While I can't recall having previously seen a clue such as this in which the two letters at the heart of the word are different, I see no reason for requiring them to be the same.
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)
[14] - CollinsDictionary.com (COBUILD Advanced English Dictionary)
Signing off for today — Falcon