Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Wednesday, June 17, 2015 — DT 27689

Puzzle at a Glance
Puzzle Number in The Daily Telegraph
DT 27689
Publication Date in The Daily Telegraph
Saturday, January 3, 2015
Link to Full Review
Big Dave's Crossword Blog [DT 27689 – Hints]
Big Dave's Crossword Blog [DT 27689 – Review]
Big Dave's Crossword Blog Review Written By
Big Dave (Hints)
crypticsue (Review)
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
As this was a Saturday "Prize Puzzle" in Britain, there are two entries related to it on Big Dave's Crossword Blog — the first, posted on the date of publication, contains hints for selected clues while the second is a full review issued following the entry deadline for the contest. The vast majority of reader comments will generally be found attached to the "hints" posting with a minimal number — if any — accompanying the full review.


In the intro to her review, crypticsue characterizes this puzzle — together with those that came earlier in the week — as being "relatively trickier than 'normal'". Personally, I found today's puzzle to be considerably easier than those that preceded it (several of which the National Post has skipped). However, it was certainly not easy to write the review.

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   Tackle // current expense (6)

"current" = AC (show explanation )

AC[5] (also a.c.) is the abbreviation for alternating current.

hide explanation

4a   Aircraft /with/ replica Spruce Goose's tail (8)

Spit[10] is an informal, mainly British alternative term for spitting image. The phrase be the spit of (or be the dead spit of) is an informal expression meaning to look exactly like ⇒ Felix is the spit of Rosa’s brother. The term spit[1] (usually very spit or dead spit) meaning an exact replica comes from the phrase as like him as if he had spit him out of his mouth.

What Thinkest Thou?
Are spruce and fir synonymous? You be the judge.
Spruce[5] is a widespread coniferous tree of the genus Picea which has a distinctive conical shape and hanging cones, widely grown for timber, pulp, and Christmas trees.

Fir[5] is an evergreen coniferous tree of the genus Abies with upright cones and flat needle-shaped leaves, typically arranged in two rows. Firs are an important source of timber and resins.
Well, I suppose they are both coniferous trees. Does that mean that a Fiat is a Lamborghini — after all, they are both Italian cars!

Scratching the Surface
The Hughes H-4 Hercules[7] (also known as the "Spruce Goose") is a prototype heavy strategic airlift military transport aircraft designed and built by the Hughes Aircraft Company. Intended as a transatlantic flight transport for use during World War II, it was not completed in time to be of use. The aircraft made only one brief flight on November 2, 1947, and the project never advanced beyond the single example produced. Built from wood because of wartime restrictions on the use of aluminium and concerns about weight, it was nicknamed by critics the "Spruce Goose", although it was made almost entirely of birch. The Hercules is the largest flying boat ever built and has the largest wingspan of any aircraft in history. It is on display, and remains in good condition at the Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum in McMinnville, Oregon, United States.

10a   Recycling centre // to go metric? (9)

11a   Long for // start of trip on small bay (5)

12a   /See/ Hurd end rebuilding /in/ part of Chilterns maybe (7)

The Chiltern Hills[5] (also the Chilterns) are a range of chalk hills in southern England, north of the River Thames and west of London.

The Chiltern Hundreds[5] is a Crown manor, whose administration is a nominal office for which an MP applies as a way of resigning from the House of Commons. This is because stewardship of the district is legally an office of profit under the Crown, the holding of which disqualifies a person from being an MP.

Delving Deeper
The Chiltern Hundreds[7] was an ancient administrative area in Buckinghamshire, England, composed of three "hundreds" and lying partially within the Chiltern Hills. "Taking the Chiltern Hundreds" now refers to the legal procedure used to effect resignation from the British House of Commons. This is because the ancient office of Crown Steward and Bailiff for the area, having been reduced to a mere sinecure (show explanation ) by the 17th century,

A position requiring little or no work but giving the holder status or financial benefit.

hide explanation
became the first to be used in this resignation procedure a century later. Other titles were also later used for the same purpose, but at present only the Chiltern Hundreds office and the Crown Steward and Bailiff of the Manor of Northstead are used.

A hundred was a traditional division of an English county that could raise one hundred fighting men for the Crown. The three Chiltern Hundreds were Stoke Hundred, Desborough Hundred, and Burnham Hundred. Despite their collective name only Desborough Hundred was located within the area defined by the Chiltern Hills in Buckinghamshire. The area had been Crown property as early as the 13th century.

13a   When school is open, I will go in /as/ stop-gap (7)

14a   Matador's opponent carries small // trunk (5)

15a   They don't appreciate // where fires get started (8)

18a   Dance with boorish type without a // fuss (8)

20a   Leg bone // slightly twisted going round island (5)

23a   Ineffective treatment /of/ Post Office landing Cable in a mess (7)

Scratching the Surface
As crypticsue alludes to in her review, the deceptive capitalization of "Cable" is intended to direct our attention to Vince Cable[7], a British Liberal Democrat politician who — at the time this puzzle appeared in the UK — was the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills (a post he held from 2010 to 2015 in the Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition government). He was the Member of Parliament for Twickenham from 1997 until losing his seat in the 2015 election.

25a   Second-rate celebrity // that's swelled up (7)

26a   Marsupial's time /for/ bed (5)

Roo[5] is an informal Australian term for a kangaroo.

The Chambers Dictionary defines roost[1] as a perch or place for a sleeping bird; a hen house; a sleeping-place; a bed; ....

27a   Liverpool's colour kit adopted by Newcastle's centre // forward (9)

I am pleased to see that crypticsue confirms my conclusion that the wordplay in the clue is the inverse of that which was intended.

The intended wordplay is clearly A (Newcastle's centre; the middle letter of NewcAstle) contained in (adopted by) {RED (Liverpool's colour) + DRESS (kit)}. Unfortunately, the clue states precisely the opposite.

Kit[5], as used in the surface reading, is a British term for the clothing used for an activity such as a sport ⇒ a football kit; in other words, what would be called a uniform on this side of the pond. 

Kit[10] also has the sense — as it may be used in the cryptic reading — of clothing in general, especially in the informal British expression get one's kit off[5] meaning to take off all one's clothes.

Strip[5] [used by crypticsue in her review] is a British term denoting the identifying outfit worn by the members of a sports team while playing the team’s away strip is a garish mix of red, white, and blue.

Liverpool Football Club[7] (nicknamed The Reds) is an English professional association football [soccer] club based in Liverpool that plays in the Premier League (the top level in the English football league system). Can you guess what their home colours might be? (take a peek )

Newcastle United Football Club[7] (nicknamed The Magpies, among other things) is an English professional association football [soccer] club based in Newcastle upon Tyne that also plays in the Premier League. The Newcastle kit bears no resemblance to that of Liverpool — but I can certainly understand why a Magpie might covet the Liverpool strip (take a peek ).

Have a look at what British football commentators and fans think of the Newcastle kit.

In soccer and [field] hockey, a centre forward[5] is an attacker who plays in the middle of the field.

28a   Aid to pirate, perhaps -- // rover mostly returning with girl (8)

29a   Hero of the Rovers, amid retreating English, // that stands against the tide (6)

Roy of the Rovers[7] is a British comic strip about a fictional footballer named Roy Race, who played for Melchester Rovers. The strip first appeared in 1954 and ran until 1993. Following the demise of the comic strip, Roy and his son Rocky (who also played for Melchester) continued to feature in various other publications until 2001.

Delving Deeper
To keep the strip exciting, Melchester was almost every year either competing for major honours or struggling against relegation to a lower division.

The strip followed the structure of the football season, thus there were several months each year when there was no football. By far the most common summer storyline saw Melchester touring a fictional country in an exotic part of the world, often South America, where they would invariably be kidnapped and held to ransom. The average reader probably stayed with the comic for only three or four years, therefore storylines were recycled; during the first ten years of his playing career, Roy was kidnapped at least five times.

The stock media phrase "real 'Roy of the Rovers' stuff" is often used by football writers, commentators and fans when describing displays of great skill, or results that go against the odds, in reference to the dramatic storylines that were the strip's trademark.

A groyne[5] (US groin) is a low wall or sturdy timber barrier built out into the sea from a beach to check erosion and drifting.


1d   Tease the abstract // art lover (8)

2d   One investigating death // trap -- there's nothing in it (7)

3d   One who's wise following grand // American sporting event (5,4)

This puzzle appeared in the UK a month before Super Bowl XLIX[7] was played.

5d   Cuddly character // providing extra material for a Bronte novel (10,4)

I interpreted PADDING to be a verb making the wordplay PADDING (providing extra material for) + an anagram (novel) of {A BRONTE}.

In her review, crypticsue provides an alternative explanation in which PADDING is interpreted as a noun:
  • 5d   Cuddly character /providing/ extra material for a Bronte novel (10,4)
with the wordplay being PADDING (extra material) + (for) an anagram (novel) of {A BRONTE}.

6d   /It's/ understood // one's engaged in diplomacy (5)

7d   The opposite /of/ how poetry is written (7)

8d   Doctor's after space to // put away body (6)

I failed to decipher the wordplay correctly, instead trying to explain ENTO using the combining form ento-[10] meaning inside or within.

"doctor" = MB (show explanation )

In Britain, the degree required to practice medicine is a Bachelor of Medicine[7] (MB, from Latin Medicinae Baccalaureus), which is equivalent to a North American Doctor of Medicine (MD, from Latin Medicinae Doctor). The degree of Doctor of Medicine also exists in Britain, but it is an advanced degree pursued by those who wish to go into medical research. Physicians in Britain are still addressed as Dr. despite not having a doctoral degree. 

hide explanation

9d   Mobile adverts with a human interface? (8,6)

Advert[5] is an informal British term for an advertisement. North Americans would shorten it even further to just ad[5] [a form that would appear to be used also in the UK].

Scratching the Surface
Mobile[5] is a British term for a mobile phone [North American cell phone[5]] ⇒ we telephoned from our mobile to theirs.

16d   Get the German // punishment for treason (9)

"the German" = DER (show explanation )

In German, der[8] is one of the several forms that the definite article may assume.

hide explanation

Attainder is a historical term for the forfeiture of land and civil rights suffered as a consequence of a sentence of death for treason or felony ⇒ (i) the attainder of the fourth Duke of Norfolk; (ii) Robert’s loyalty to Margaret of Anjou led to attainder and forfeiture.

17d   A ball played from the wing in the French // game (8)

"the French" = LE (show explanation )

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

hide explanation

In soccer, a cross[5] is a pass of the ball across the field towards the centre close to one’s opponents' goal ⇒ Beckham’s low cross was turned into the net by Cole.

19d   I would begin this Conservative declaration // of love (7)

21d   Queen tucked into sandwich /in/ larder (7)

"Queen" = ER (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

Butty (also buttie) is an informal, chiefly Northern English term for a filled or open sandwich ⇒ a bacon butty.

A larder[2] is (1) a cool room or cupboard for storing food, originally bacon or (2) a wild animal's winter store of food.

Buttery[5] is a British term for a room in a college where food is kept and sold to students.

22d   Electrician // to leave car aboard ship (6)

"aboard ship" = contained in SS (show explanation )

In Crosswordland, a ship is almost invariably a steamship, the abbreviation for which is SS[10]. Thus "aboard ship" is code for 'contained in SS'.

hide explanation

Spark[5] (also Sparks) is informally used as a nickname for a radio operator or an electrician, especially in the armed forces ⇒ she is the sexiest Spark that ever went to sea.

24d   Former lover directed endless // praise (5)
Key to Reference Sources: 

[1]   - The Chambers Dictionary, 11th Edition
[2]   - Search Chambers - (Chambers 21st Century Dictionary)
[3]   - (American Heritage Dictionary)
[4]   - (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] - (Collins English Dictionary)
[11] - (Random House Kernerman Webster's College Dictionary)
Signing off for today — Falcon


  1. Two new words today - 16D and 29A. Loved 18A - a real good challenge today

    1. Hi Anonymous,

      Luckily I had encountered both 16d and 29a in previous puzzles -- and they miraculously came to mind as I solved the puzzle.

      I hope you continue to drop by to comment on the puzzles. Why not choose your own alias to set yourself apart from other "Anonymous" commenters?

  2. A real workout and ultimately stumped by 29a. But a fount of trivia for Falcon, so not a total loss..

    1. Luckily I recalled 29a from a previous encounter. Googling "Roy Rovers" led me to the comic strip. I must say that I had been expecting to find a real football player.