Puzzle at a Glance
Daily Telegraph Puzzle NumberDT 26857
Publication Date in The Daily TelegraphFriday, May 4, 2012
Link to Full ReviewBig Dave's Crossword Blog [DT 26857]
Big Dave's Review Written ByDigby
Big Dave's Rating
|Difficulty - ★★★ / ★★★★||Enjoyment - ★★★|
█ - 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
█ - unsolved or incorrect prior to visiting Big Dave's blog
█ - reviewed by Falcon for Big Dave's blog
I managed to get down to three unsolved clues before calling in my electronic reinforcements today. They not only helped me find the three missing solutions but helped me to realize that one of my answers was incorrect. I didn't discover a second error until I read Digby's review on Big Dave's blog.
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.
7a South American country fellow crossing Austria behind soldier (8)
In the UK, para is used as an informal short form for paratrooper. A is the International Vehicle Registration (IVR) code for Austria.
12a Moister bread? (6)
The second definition of damper had slipped my mind since first seeing it about two months ago in another Giovanni puzzle (DT 26809). In Australia and New Zealand, damper is an unleavened loaf or cake of flour and water baked in wood ashes [in the sense 'something that takes the edge off the appetite']. As I recall from the discussion on Big Dave's blog at the time, it is also a campfire staple at British youth camps.
14a Famous inventor was in debt and shouted (8)
Alexander Graham Bell (1847 – 1922) was an eminent scientist, inventor, engineer and innovator who is credited with inventing the first practical telephone. He was born in Scotland (so the Brits think of him as a Scot), he moved to Canada at the age of 23 (so we think of him as a Canadian), and he was granted US citizenship at the age of 35 (so the Yanks think of him as an American). The year following his move to Canada, he began training instructors at schools for the deaf in the US — and, from that time until his death, he maintained residences in both Canada and the US and divided his time between the two countries.
15a Tax row in which artist suffers setback (6)
RA is the abbreviation for Royal Academician, a member of the Royal Academy of the Arts, an institution established in London in 1768, whose purpose is to cultivate painting, sculpture, and architecture in Britain.
17a Like an astronaut made fun of (4,2)
I initially entered SHOT UP (thinking this might be yet another British expression with which I am not acquainted). It was only when nothing would fit in at 4d that I discovered my error.
20a Humourless-looking model, I have to create an image (8)
Po-faced is a British expression meaning humourless and disapproving • don’t be so po-faced about everything. The Chambers Dictionary would have us believe that po is a shortening of po-faced. However, it appears to stand alone among dictionaries on this point.
22a Restaurant offerings the man discovered in East Anglian town (6)
East Anglia is a region of eastern England consisting of the counties of Norfolk, Suffolk, and parts of Essex and Cambridgeshire. Diss is a town in Norfolk close to the border with Suffolk.
23a Returning soldiers will be having an undesired effect (10)
This would appear to be a double definition with the first one being cryptic. The trick is knowing where to split the clue. The straight definition is the latter part "having an undesired effect" with the solution being BACKFIRING. The cryptic definition "returning soldiers will be" precedes it. It stands to reason that soldiers returning to action will be BACK FIRING after having enjoyed a break from the fighting.
24a Swelling fruit, soft from one end to the other (4)
Piano[3,5] (abbreviation p), is a musical direction meaning either soft or quiet (as an adjective) or softly or quietly (as an adverb). [This surely must be the most heavily worked device in the cryptic crossword stable.]
1d Diagram produced by graduate of building design with skill (3,5)
I failed to look beyond the Arts degree to see the Architecture degree — leaving me perplexed about the wordplay. BArch[2,3,4] is the abbreviation for Bachelor of Architecture.
2d Hollow Conservative greeting (4)
In Britain, C is used as an abbreviation for Conservative (e.g., to show the political affiliation of Members of Parliament) • Sir Nicholas Fairbairn (C, Perth & Kinross).
3d Treasurer making sort of appeal in regional accent (6)
I thought this would be a homophone (sounds like) type clue — but it isn't. I debated whether the solution should be bursar (a person who manages the financial affairs of a college or school) or purser (an officer on a ship who keeps the accounts, especially the head steward on a passenger vessel). I eventually opted (unfortunately) to go with the latter — for no good reason. Although Oxford characterises the former term as being chiefly British, it is commonly used in Canada.
A burr is (loosely) a regional accent • a soft Scottish burr. SA is an abbreviation for sex appeal (deemed by Oxford to be an informal, dated usage).
4d French fortress to keep wet in hot conditions, bad inside (8)
I was so relieved to finally get this one — and anxious to move on to fix my error at 17a which held me up here — that I completely forgot to work through the wordplay. Thus I cannot be sure if I would have been able to work out the wordplay had I tried. The use of the phrase "to keep wet in hot conditions" is a clever way to define baste — the "hot conditions" perhaps being those encountered by a turkey in the oven.
8d Language of a lad brought up outside Rugby (6)
Yoruba is (1) a member of an African people of SW Nigeria and Benin and (2) the language of the Yoruba, which belongs to the Kwa group. It is an official language of Nigeria, with over 16 million speakers.
Rugby union (RU) is a form of rugby played in teams of fifteen, in contrast to rugby league, which is played in teams of thirteen.
13d Fussy person not half — devil to get changed yet (10)
Old Nick is an informal name for the Devil. I had a devil of a time trying to fit the solution into the space provided until I discovered that pernickety is the British term for persnickety.
18d Denim top manufactured somewhere in Italy (8)
Piedmont is a region of NW Italy, in the foothills of the Alps. Its capital is Turin.
19d Buried under food shop is American composer (6)
Frederick Delius (1862 – 1934) was an English composer, of German and Scandinavian descent. He is best known for pastoral works such as Brigg Fair (1907), but he also wrote songs, concertos, and choral and theatre music.
21d Old cad leading soldiers — one to stir them into action? (6)
Rotter [mentioned by Digby in his review] is an informal, dated British term for a cruel, mean, or unkind person • Rosemary had decided that all men were rotters. In the British armed forces, all those who are not commissioned officers are referred to as other ranks (abbreviation OR).
24d Scottish landlord, heartless and fat (4)
In Scotland, a laird is a person who owns a large estate.
Key to Reference Sources:Signing off for today – Falcon
 - The Chambers Dictionary, 11th Edition
 - Search Chambers - (Chambers 21st Century Dictionary)
 - TheFreeDictionary.com (American Heritage Dictionary)
 - TheFreeDictionary.com (Collins English Dictionary)
 - Oxford Dictionaries (Oxford Dictionary of English)
 - Oxford Dictionaries (Oxford American Dictionary)
 - Wikipedia
 - Reverso Online Dictionary (Collins French-English Dictionary)
 - Infoplease (Random House Unabridged Dictionary)
 - CollinsDictionary.com (Collins English Dictionary)