Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Tuesday, May 25, 2015 — DT 27670

Puzzle at a Glance
Puzzle Number in The Daily Telegraph
DT 27670
Publication Date in The Daily Telegraph
Thursday, December 11, 2014
RayT (Ray Terrell)
Link to Full Review
Big Dave's Crossword Blog [DT 27670]
Big Dave's Crossword Blog Review Written By
BD Rating
Difficulty - ★★★ / ★★★★ Enjoyment - ★★★★
Falcon's Experience
- 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


I wholeheartedly concur with Kath's assessment that this puzzle "was quite difficult". Although I only resorted to the use of electronic aids for a couple of clues, I was expecting to have to use them far more extensively. However, several holdout clues surrendered at the last moment just before the call for help was issued.

Should you read through the comments on Big Dave's site, you will encounter several references along the lines of  "Aren’t we lucky. 2 RayTs in 2 days – wow." (upthecreek at Comment #12). The comments are referring to the fact that Ray Terrell (whom we know as RayT) had also set the Toughie (a second, more difficult, cryptic crossword puzzle which appears in The Daily Telegraph) the previous day under another nom de plume, Beam.

I have instituted an innovation in today's blog. For quite some time, I have wanted to do something different with terms that appear frequently in the puzzles. I am sure that long-term readers are tired of seeing these entries constantly reappearing in the blog. However, I want to continue to include them for the benefit of new readers. I have finally figured out how to hide them. Therefore, should you happen to be curious about why G is the abbreviation for good but B is not the abbreviation for bad or why the abbreviation for hard is H but the abbreviation for soft is P, you can click on (show explanation) and all will be revealed.

Go ahead and try it now. (show explanation)

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

 H[5] is an abbreviation for hard, as used in describing grades of pencil lead ⇒ a 2H pencil.

 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)

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 all-in-one (&lit.) clues, semi-all-in-one (semi-&lit.) clues and cryptic definitions. Explicit link words and phrases are enclosed in forward slashes (/link/) and implicit links are shown as double forward slashes (//). Definitions presented in blue text are for terms that appear frequently.


1a   He organises room with satchels scattered (12)

This is a semi-&lit. (semi-all-in-one) clue. The entire clue is the definition, while the portion with the dashed underline is the wordplay.

In the UK, the word satchel[5] would appear to be used primarily as another name for a schoolbag.

9a   One showing skill that's welcome in booze-up (9)

Supposing this to be a cryptic definition, I failed to notice the wordplay hiding in it. It is another semi-&lit. clue—very similar in style to the previous clue.

Booze-up[10] is British, Australian and New Zealand slang for a drinking spree. However, I do seem to recall having encountered this term in Canada.

10a   Amphitheatre // gripped by warfare, naturally (5)

11a   Oust // terrible aunts, embracing Bertie finally (6)

Scratching the Surface
Rabbit Dave writes in Comment #5 at Big Dave's site My favourite with its flavour of P G Wodehouse was 11d (sic) [he meant 11a].
Sir Pelham Grenville Wodehouse[7] (1881–1975), known as P. G. Wodehouse, was an English humourist whose body of work includes novels, short stories, plays, humorous verses, poems, song lyrics, and magazine articles. He enjoyed enormous popular success during a career that lasted more than seventy years, and his many writings continue to be widely read. A quintessential Englishman, born during the Victorian era and spending his twenties in Edwardian London, he also resided in France and the United States for extended periods during his long life. His writing reflects this rich background, with stories set in England, France, and the United States, particularly, New York City and Hollywood.

Bertie Wooster[7] is a recurring fictional character in the Jeeves novels of British author P. G. Wodehouse. An English gentleman, one of the "idle rich" and a member of the Drones Club, he appears in the novels alongside his valet, Jeeves, whose genius manages to extricate Bertie or one of his friends from numerous awkward situations.

Wodehouse, whose father was a British judge in Hong Kong, was born prematurely in England while his mother was visiting from Hong Kong. When he was three years old, he was brought back to Britain and placed in the care of a nanny. He attended various boarding schools and, according to one biographer, between the ages of three and 15 years, saw his parents for barely six months in total. He spent quite a few of his school holidays with one aunt or another, and the numerous aunts provided him with ample characteristics for some of his most vivid literary creations, including Bertie Wooster's formidable aunt Agatha and his good and deserving aunt Dahlia, as well as Lady Constance Keeble, who figures as an aunt to various nieces and nephews in some of the Blandings Castle series.

12a   One floats along // ocean, capsizing first? (8)

"First" is used to clue IST based on the resemblance of the latter to 1st.

Behind the Picture
Unfortunately, Kath illustrates the clue with a picture of a kayaker. However, to be fair to her, it would appear to be common British practice to consider a kayak to be a canoe. British dictionaries all define kayak[5] along the lines of a canoe of a type used originally by the Inuit, made of a light frame with a watertight covering having a small opening in the top to sit in.

13a   Hypocrisy /of/ Church restrained by infinite divinity (6)

"Church" = CE (Church of England) (show explanation)

The Church of England[10] (abbreviation CE[10]) is the reformed established state Church in England, Catholic in order and basic doctrine, with the Sovereign as its temporal head.

(hide explanation)

"Infinite divinity" is divinity without end.

15a   Break into a sweat // for each peak (8)

18a   Former wife cool about man endlessly /in/ need (8)

There are two possible solutions to this clue which I discovered from the discussion at Comment #3 on Big Dave's blog.

The "official" solution is EXIGENCE in which case the wordplay parses as EX (former wife) + {ICE (cool; as a verb) containing (about) GEN (man endlessly; GEN[T] with the final letter removed)}.

Exigence[5] is another term for exigency.

The solution that I—and many others—came up with is EXIGENCY in which case the wordplay parses as EX (former wife) + {ICY (cool; as an adjective) containing (about) GEN (man endlessly; GEN[T] with the final letter removed)}.

In fact, many of those who originally had the former solution actually plumped (see 3d) for the latter as the better choice when it was presented to them.

I will count my solution as being correct—despite it not being the official one—as the setter himself has validated it in a response to Comment #37 on Big Dave's site.

19a   Erotic // passage containing start of rumpy-pumpy (6)

Scratching the Surface
Rumpy pumpy[5] is an informal, humorous [and seemingly British] term for sexual relations, especially when of a casual nature ⇒ TV’s obsession with rumpy pumpy continues.

21a   Going outside, catching cold, // causing fever? (8)

I thought I had a most excellent solution with CHEATING (going outside [the rules]) with the wordplay being C (cold) + HEATING (causing fever) and "catching" serving as a link word. However, this certainly played havoc with my efforts in the southwest quadrant.

23a   Stones // like to include entrance (6)

26a   Taken on board /and/ left port (5)

Aden[5] is a port in Yemen at the mouth of the Red Sea; population 588,900 (est. 2004). Aden was formerly under British rule, first as part of British India (from 1839), then from 1935 as a Crown Colony. It was capital of the former South Yemen from 1967 until 1990.

27a   Stopped /and/ hovered, smart bombs inside (9)

28a   Great // band, close I fancy, covering Queen (12)

"Queen" = ER (Elizabetha Regina) (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


1d   Crushed // broken transport, hoisted grabbing vehicle's rear (7)

2d   Employs /and/ reportedly gives raises (5)

I had absolutely no idea that higher can be a verb. It seems to be a secret that The Chambers Dictionary has so far successfully kept to itself. Shh! don't tell the other dictionary publishers.

Higher[1] is (1) a transitive verb meaning to raise higher or lift or (2) an intransitive verb meaning to ascend.

3d   Plump compiler's taking time to get // working (9)

I did toy with the notion that the definition might be "to getting working" with the solution being OPERATISE but, in the end, I plumped for "working" and OPERATIVE respectively.

The decoding was further complicated by the fact that the word "time" might be clueing either ERA or T.

Plump for[5] means to decide definitely in favour of (one of two or more possibilities) ⇒ offered a choice of drinks, he plumped for brandy.

It is a common cryptic crossword convention for the creator of the puzzle to use terms such as (the) compiler, (the) setter, (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. Today, the setter has made the scenario slightly more interesting by combining "compiler" with the verb "to have" producing "compiler's" (contraction for "compiler has") which must be replaced by "I've" (I have).

4d   Flash of French // fashion (4)

Mo[5] (abbreviation for moment) is an informal, chiefly British term for a short period of time ⇒ hang on a mo!.

"of French" = DE (show explanation)

 In French, de[8] is a preposition meaning 'of''.

hide explanation

5d   Flag/'s/ raised initially on board ship (8)

Despite being an old chestnut, this was one the last holdouts.

6d   Muse // captured by painter at opening (5)

In Greek and Roman mythology, Erato[5] was the Muse of lyric poetry and hymns—the Muses[5] being nine goddesses, the daughters of Zeus and Mnemosyne, who preside over the arts and sciences.

7d   'Sun' issue /creating/ agitation (8)

Scratching the Surface
The Sun[7] is a daily tabloid newspaper published in the United Kingdom and Ireland by a subsidiary of Rupert Murdoch's News Corp.

The Sun is known for its Page 3[7] feature,  a large photograph of a topless female glamour model (often in a risqué pose) usually published on the newspaper's third page.

8d   'Fight // Club' title, losing it (6)

Scratching the Surface
Fight Club[7] is a 1999 film starring Brad Pitt, Edward Norton and Helena Bonham Carter which is based on a 1996 novel of the same name by Chuck Palahniuk.

14d   Copper joining detectives to oversee English // match (8)

"detectives" = CID (Criminal Investigation Department) (show explanation)

The Criminal Investigation Department (seemingly better known by its abbreviation CID[2]) is the detective branch of a British police force.

hide explanation

16d   Fall about in almost relentless // defeat (9)

Even after I had the correct solution, I had no idea what the wordplay was. Not only did I not know the alternative British expression for "rolling in the aisles", the synonym for relentless did not come readily to mind.

Fall about[5] is an informal British expression meaning to laugh uncontrollably ⇒ audiences used to fall about when he shrugged his shoulders.

Stern[5] (of a person or their manner) denotes serious and unrelenting, especially in the assertion of authority and exercise of discipline.

17d   A receptacle like this /produces/ plant (8)

The acanthus[5] is any of many species of herbaceous plant or shrub with bold flower spikes and spiny decorative leaves, found in warm regions of the Old World.

18d   First woman barely topless // with equanimity (6)

"First woman" = EVE (show explanation)

In the Bible, Eve[5] is the first woman, companion of Adam and mother of Cain and Abel. [What about Seth and their other sons and daughters].[Gen 5:4]

hide explanation

20d   The French gossip over practically new // dish (7)

"The French" = LA (show explanation)

In French, the feminine singular form of the definite article is la[8].

(hide explanation)

Lasagne[3,4] is the preferred British spelling of the Italian dish that we would more likely spell as lasagna. It would appear that, in Britain, lasagna is an alternative spelling of lasagne while, in North America, lasagne is an alternative spelling of lasagna. Of course, in Italy, lasagna is the plural of lasagne[8]. [Does that mean that the Brits eat only one, while we pigs in North American gorge on several.]

22d   Beat topping lead /in/ ballroom dance (5)

Go[10] is used in the sense of to lead, extend, or afford access ⇒this route goes to the north.

24d   Digit/'s/ hit with end turning black (5)

There may be more than a simple swap at play here. When the "p" at the end of "thump" is turned so that its stem is pointing upward instead of downward, it becomes a "b", thus producing the word "thumb".

25d   Surrounded /in/ a feeble uprising (4)
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)
Signing off for today — Falcon


  1. As close to a 4 for difficulty as we've seen in recent weeks. Needed online help a few times, as well. Poor Brian appears to have shredded the paper in frustration.

    I'm firmly in the Y camp, btw.

    1. Hi Richard,

      Welcome back

      I didn't even realize that another camp existed until I read the discussion on Big Dave's blog.