Puzzle at a Glance
Puzzle Number in The Daily TelegraphDT 27046
Publication Date in The Daily TelegraphTuesday, December 11, 2012
Link to Full ReviewBig Dave's Crossword Blog [DT 27046]
Big Dave's Review Written ByDeep Threat
|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
IntroductionI thought that I was going to finish poorly on this puzzle, as — for a long time — I was unable to make any inroads at all into the northwest quadrant. However, once one clue fell, the remainder quickly followed suit.
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.
5a Travelled on horse, by the sound of it, with Member of Parliament holding a route finder? (4,3)
In many Commonwealth countries (including Britain and Canada), a member of the House of Commons or similar legislative body is known as a Member of Parliament (or MP for short).
9a Ascetic possessing cold nature (7)
An Essene is a member of an ancient Jewish ascetic sect of the period from the 2nd century BC to the 2nd century AD in Palestine, who lived in highly organized groups and held property in common. The Essenes are widely regarded as the authors of the Dead Sea Scrolls.
10a Typical ancient city in old African province (7)
Ur is an ancient Sumerian city that formerly existed on the Euphrates, in southern Iraq. It was one of the oldest cities of Mesopotamia, dating from the 4th millennium BC, and reached its zenith in the late 3rd millennium BC.
Natal is a former province of South Africa, situated on the east coast. Having been a Boer republic and then a British colony, Natal acquired internal self-government in 1893 and became a province of the Union of South Africa in 1910. It was renamed KwaZulu-Natal in 1994. The name comes from Latin Terra Natalis 'land of the day of birth', a name given by Vasco da Gama in 1497, because he sighted the entrance to what is now Durban harbour on Christmas Day.
In his review, Deep Threat questions the definition in this clue. However, in Collins English Dictionary, the list of synonyms for natural includes normal, common, stock, standard, established, regular, usual, ordinary, typical, routine, everyday, accustomed, customary, commonplace, habitual, run-of-the-mill, and unexceptional.
12a Strike a mate (5)
Chin is a slang term [possibly chiefly British] meaning to to punch or hit (someone) on the chin.
In Britain, china is an informal term for a friend (or, as the Brits would say, a mate). This comes from Cockney rhyming slang, where china is the shortened form of china plate which rhymes with 'mate'.
13a Conclusion about this compiler's correct (5)
It is a common cryptic crossword convention for the creator of the puzzle to use terms such as compiler, setter, author, or writer to refer to himself or herself. To solve such a clue, one must usually substitute a first person pronoun (I or me) for whichever of these terms (today, it being expanded to "this compiler") has been used in the clue.
15a Spinning, thin pike caught not initially in perfect condition (2,3,4)
The expression in the pink (meaning in extremely good health and spirits) comes from the English foxhunting tradition; people who foxhunt often wear scarlet jackets and are called pinks—so if you are in the pink, you are about to set off to gallop your horse across country.
17a Needing support of French writer, having depression (9)
De is a French preposition meaning 'of'.
22a Plague remedy includes sulphur (5)
The symbol for the chemical element sulphur is S.
23a All at sea like tar -- on this? (3,6)
I failed to notice the anagram — but still managed to come up with the correct solution. This is a semi & lit. (semi all-in-one) clue in which the entire clue constitutes the definition and the first portion of the clue (in fact, all but the final word) serves as the wordplay.
One might argue that the "definition" here is not really a definition. It is, at best, a cryptic definition. A more formal name for the definition in a cryptic crossword is 'primary indication' — a term which also seems to imply a broader range of possibilities than the word 'definition'. I think that this is one of those situations where the formal term 'primary indication' is far more appropriate than the looser term 'definition'. By the way, the formal term for the wordplay is 'subsidiary indication'.
25a Rock tour in US without hit, finally getting wrecked (7)
Rock is used in the sense of to shake or move (something) violently.
I questioned whether ruinous actually means wrecked. A bit of investigation reveals that ruinous can mean characterized by ruin or destruction, in which sense synonyms include ruined, broken-down, derelict, ramshackle, dilapidated, in ruins, decrepit, and tumbledown. Nevertheless, this is not a sense with which I am familiar and not one that I would expect to encounter.
1d Women are dancing the twist (7)
I suspect that Deep Threat may have been a victim of predictive typing here and likely intended to say "A charade of W omen ..." rather than "A charge of W omen".
3d Dance beat with energy (5)
In the wordplay, the solution is split (3,2).
5d Gran cooked on English stove (5)
A range is defined a bit differently in Britain than it is in North America. In North America, a range may use any type of fuel (wood, coal, oil, gas, electricity, etc.). However, in Britain, a range is specifically a large stove with burners and one or more ovens, usually heated by solid fuel. A cooking device that does not use solid fuel would be known as a cooker.
8d People regularly want fish (7)
A pollack is an edible greenish-brown fish (Pollachius pollachius) of the cod family, with a protruding lower jaw. Found in the NE Atlantic, it is popular with anglers.
16d Bird's poorly -- took food to stimulate (9)
As it appears incorrectly in the paper:
- 16 Bird's poorly -- took food to srimulate (9)
The British name for a chickadee is tit (or titmouse).
20d Bogarde, perhaps, missing first part? Tedious (7)
Sir Dirk Bogarde (1921 – 1999) was an English actor and writer.
23d Genesis on television (5)
Genesis are an English rock band that formed in 1967. The band currently consists of its three longest-tenured members - Tony Banks (keyboards) and Mike Rutherford (bass, guitar), who were founder members; and Phil Collins (vocals, drums), who first joined in 1970. Past members Peter Gabriel (vocals, flute), Steve Hackett (guitar) and Anthony Phillips (guitar) also played major roles in the band in its early years.
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)