Thursday, April 1, 2010

Thursday, April 1, 2010 (DT 26111)

This puzzle by Rufus was originally published Monday, December 14, 2009 in The Daily Telegraph

The National Post has skipped DT 26110 which was published in The Daily Telegraph on Saturday, December 12, 2009

Introduction

I was going great guns through the lower portion of this puzzle, but then got a bit bogged down by the Briticisms in the upper portion.

Today's Glossary

Some possibly unfamiliar abbreviations, people, places, words and expressions used in today's puzzle

Alpini - elite mountain warfare soldiers of the Italian Army

backhander - noun 2 Brit. informal a bribe

open prison - noun Brit. a prison with the minimum of restrictions on prisoners’ movements and activities [Note: This may be what Canadians would call a minimum security institution. Other categories of prisons here are medium security and maximum security.]

Royal Engineers - (abbreviation RE) a corp of the British Army, clearly overworked as evidenced by their frequent appearances here (most recently yesterday)

Today's Links

Rishi's review of today's puzzle may be found at Big Dave's Crossword Blog [DT 26111].

Commentary on Today's Puzzle

3d An unsustained desire (6)

Although hanker was the first idea to come to mind here, after a few moments I developed an appetite for a different solution.

7d A gift for dishonesty? (10)

I discovered long ago that one must check (and double check) the meaning of every possible candidate solution, no matter how implausible it may seem. One of my tools gave me five potential solutions for this clue based on the checking letters available at the time, the list being "backhander, calamander, mainlander, palisander, and salamander ". The two with which I was not familiar turned out to both be tropical woods used for making furniture. None of these words seemed to satisfy the clue. However, checking with a British dictionary showed that backhander (in addition to being a tennis stroke, as I knew it) is a term used in the U.K. meaning a bribe.

12d Firm belief of criminal's guilt (10)

The second definition in this double definition struck my ear as being slightly off key. A conviction relates to a criminal being found guilty, not merely the fact that he or she is guilty. I know this is a very picky point, but the clue just didn't ring true for me - although it was certainly not enough of a concern to impede me in finding the solution.

14d The populace protests (5)

Although I was not familiar with the first meaning (the populace) in this double definition, I easily got the solution from the second (protests). If all you read on Big Dave's site is Rishi's review, you may be left in some doubt about the meaning of demos ("“The populace” is supposed to be the other [meaning] but actually demo- is a prefix that means the populace (as in ‘democracy’) and how it can take a plural is a puzzle for me."). The issue is cleared up in the comments section. You can also find the word defined here.

Signing off for today - Falcon

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