Friday, July 24, 2015

Friday, July 24, 2015 — DT 27719

Puzzle at a Glance
Puzzle Number in The Daily Telegraph
DT 27719
Publication Date in The Daily Telegraph
Saturday, February 7, 2015
Link to Full Review
Big Dave's Crossword Blog [DT 27719 – Hints]
Big Dave's Crossword Blog [DT 27719 – 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.


I solved this puzzle several days ago — well, I solved all but one clue at that time. I had a total blind spot when it came to 21a. I came back to puzzle several times over the next few days, but without any more insight into the solution. Then I picked up the puzzle again one day — and, like a bolt out of the blue, the solution miraculously appeared. What an incredible mystery are the workings of the brain!

A couple of those commenting at Big Dave's Blog (Caravaggio at Comment #4 and Hillary at Comment #16) refer to having "run into" or "hit the buffers". Buffers[5,10] is a British term for a pair of shock-absorbing pistons projecting from a cross-beam at the end of a railway track or on the front and rear of a railway vehicle to reduce shock due to contact. The buffers will literally stop a railway car in its tracks.

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.


5a   Husband in Christmas show, Marley at first, then // ghost (7)

It did take me a moment to realize how the word "then" is being used.

The clue parses as H (husband) contained in (in) PANTO (Christmas show) + (then; afterwards) M (Marley at first; initial letter of Marley).

Panto[5] is an informal British short form for pantomime[5], a traditional British theatrical entertainment, mainly for children, which involves music, topical jokes, and slapstick comedy and is based on a fairy tale or nursery story, usually produced around Christmas.

Scratching the Surface
Jacob Marley[7] is a fictional character who appears in English writer Charles Dickens' 1843 novella A Christmas Carol. He is Scrooge's deceased business partner, now a chained and tormented ghost, damned to wander the earth forevermore as punishment for his avaricious and uncaring attitude towards mankind. Marley roams restlessly, witnessing the hardships others suffer and lamenting that he has lost his chance to help them forever.

7a   Birds // chatter about new bag (7)

As crypticsue states in her review, a net might be considered to be "a type of bag". However, I think a better explanation is to use net[5] as a verb in the sense of (1) to catch (a fish or other animal) with a net ⇒ (i) damage caused when netting the fish; (ii) rabbits can be netted all the year round or (2) in the figurative sense of to acquire or obtain in a skilful way ⇒ customs officials have netted large caches of drugs. The corresponding meanings for bag[5] would be (1) to succeed in killing or catching (an animal) ⇒ Mike bagged nineteen cod or (2) to succeed in securing (something) ⇒ (i) we’ve bagged three awards for excellence; (ii) get there early to bag a seat in the front row.

The gannet[5] is any of three species of large seabird with mainly white plumage, which catches fish by plunging into the water.

9a   Only admitting copper // at the right moment (2,3)

"copper" = CU (show explanation )

The symbol for the chemical element copper is Cu[5] (from late Latin cuprum).

hide explanation

10a   Candidate's'/ cold sore, one almost being concealed (9)

11a   First to spot a spot of misguided // flattery (4,4)

Soft soap[3,4,11] denotes flattering, persuasive, or cajoling talk.

13a   Fungus // among bundle brought back (3-3)

The ink cap[5] is any of several species of widely distributed mushroom with a tall, narrow cap and slender white stem, turning into a black liquid after the spores are shed.

16a   Right to ring head of faculty after answer // relating to a Greek mathematician (11)

Archimedes[5] (circa 287–212 BC) was a Greek mathematician and inventor, of Syracuse. He is famous for his discovery of Archimedes’ principle (legend has it that he made this discovery while taking a bath, and ran [in many versions, naked] through the streets shouting ’Eureka!'); among his mathematical discoveries are the ratio of the radius of a circle to its circumference, and formulas for the surface area and volume of a sphere and of a cylinder.

20a   Practically // everyone, contrary to expectation (3,3)

21a   Something from the watercolourist? (8)

The setter postulates that a watercolourist might not only paint with water but also paint images of water.

24a   Rector has confused // band (9)

26a   Photographs // ten broad flat fish (1-4)

28a   A pound, cash // thus far (7)

"pound" = L (show explanation )

The pound[5] (also pound sterling) is the basic monetary unit of the UK, equal to 100 pence. While the symbol for pound is £, it is often written as L[10]

hide explanation

Ready[5,10] or the ready[10] (also called readies or the readies) is an informal British term for ready money[5,10] (also called ready cash), funds for immediate use or, in other words, available money or cash.

29a   Heather coming round to put back // risqué books (7)

Erica[5] denotes a plant of the genus Erica, especially (in gardening) heather.


1d   Powder // used by Faust (alchemist) (4)

Scratching the Surface
Faust[5] (also Faustus) (died circa 1540) was a German astronomer and necromancer [a practitioner of necromancy (see below)]. Reputed to have sold his soul to the Devil, he became the subject of a drama by German poet and playwright Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, an opera by French composer Charles Gounod, and a novel by German writer Thomas Mann.

Necromancy[5] denotes (1) the supposed practice of communicating with the dead, especially in order to predict the future ⇒ alchemy, necromancy, and other magic practices or (2) witchcraft, sorcery, or black magic in general. [Of interest in the context of the clue, one may note that the usage example lumps together alchemy and necromancy as examples of magic practices.]

Alchemy[5] is the medieval forerunner of chemistry, concerned with the transmutation of matter, in particular with attempts to convert base metals into gold or find a universal elixir ⇒ occult sciences, such as alchemy and astrology.

2d   Strain /shown by/ rest at sea on steamship (6)

"steamship" = SS (show explanation )

In Crosswordland, a ship is rarely anything other than a steamship (abbreviation SS[5]). However, today's setter leaves absolutely no room for doubt.

hide explanation

3d   Houseman, English, twice // confined suspected terrorist (8)

In Britain, houseman[5] (North American intern) is another term for house officer[5], a recent medical graduate receiving supervised training in a hospital and acting as an assistant physician or surgeon.

Will the use of the North American term "intern" in the solution provoke the usual howls of protest across the pond?

In North America, houseman[5] is another term for houseboy[5], a boy or man employed to undertake domestic duties.

Scratching the Surface
For me the clue brought to mind Romanian-born British-American actor and film producer John Houseman[7] (born Jacques Haussmann; 1902–1988) who is perhaps best known for his role as Professor Charles Kingsfield in the film The Paper Chase (1973), for which he won a best supporting actor Oscar. He reprised his role as Kingsfield in the subsequent television series adaptation of The Paper Chase. However, I have to admit that I didn't remember his first name correctly, getting confused with English poet A. E. Housman[7] (1859–1936).

4d   Heavy metal // guitar accessory? (4)

Lead[5] is a British term for a wire that conveys electric current from a source to an appliance, or that connects two points of a circuit together.

5d   Writer // in favour of American technique, initially (6)

Marcel Proust[5] (1871–1922) was a French novelist, essayist, and critic. He devoted much of his life to writing his novel À la recherche du temps perdu (published in seven sections between 1913 and 1927). Its central theme is the recovery of the lost past and the releasing of its creative energies through the stimulation of unconscious memory — now, there's a goal to which cryptic crossword devotees could certainly aspire.

6d   One employed by F1 team, // male, by newly-built chicane (8)

FIA Formula One World Championship[7] (also Formula One, Formula 1, and F1) is the highest class of single-seat auto racing that is sanctioned by the Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile (FIA). The "formula", designated in the name, refers to a set of rules with which all participants' cars must comply. The F1 season consists of a series of races, known as Grands Prix (from French, originally meaning great prizes), held throughout the world on purpose-built circuits and public roads.

Scratching the Surface
A chicane[5] is a sharp double bend created to form an obstacle on a motor-racing track or a road ⇒ the Austrian’s car flew out of control and spun across the chicane.

7d   Bell // sounding? I must leave (4)

In general terms, go[5] (said of a machine or device) means to function ⇒ my car won’t go. As crypticsue points out in her review, The Chambers Dictionary is very precise, telling us that go[1] (said of e.g. a bell or gun) means to sound.

Thus the wordplay is GOING (sounding) with the I removed (I must leave).

8d   Waste energy /making/ jam (6)

"energy" = E (show explanation )

In physics, E[5] is a symbol used to represent energy.

hide explanation

12d   Weak // female needs to get on track (5)

14d   Dance // clubs round northern Georgia (5)

"clubs" = C (show explanation )

C[1] is the abbreviation for clubs, a suit in a deck of cards.

hide explanation

"round" = O (show explanation )

The word "round" is used to represent 'O', a letter having a round shape.

hide explanation

"Georgia" = GA (show explanation )

The conga[5] is a Latin American dance of African origin, usually with several people in a single line, one behind the other.

15d   Tea, say, /and/ beer gave out (8)

17d   Paved footpath /in/ grounds, wide, leading to a yard (8)

In cricket, a wide[5] (also wide ball) is a ball that is judged to be too wide of the stumps for the batsman to play, for which an extra is awarded to the batting side. An extra[5] is a run scored other than from a hit with the bat, credited to the batting side rather than to a batsman.

Causeway[2] is a [seemingly — at least chiefly — British] term for a stone-paved pathway.

Behind the Picture
The illustration in Big Dave's hints shows the Giant's Causeway[7], a UNESCO World Heritage Site in County Antrim on the northeast coast of Northern Ireland, about three miles (4.8 km) northeast of the town of Bushmills. The area contains about 40,000 interlocking basalt columns, the result of an ancient volcanic eruption. The tops of the columns form stepping stones that lead from the cliff foot and disappear under the sea. In a 2005 poll of Radio Times readers, the Giant's Causeway was named as the fourth greatest natural wonder in the United Kingdom.

Having always thought of a causeway as raised road across water such as the Canso Causeway in Nova Scotia, I was always puzzled by the name Giant's Causeway which is not a road across water but a path into the sea. Discovering this [seemingly British] alternative meaning for causeway certainly explains all.

18d   Temple /of/ a deity in Pennsylvania (6)

"Pennsylvania" = PA (show explanation )

In India and East Asia, a pagoda[5] is a Hindu or Buddhist temple, typically in the form of a many-tiered tower.

19d   A professional companion // his age, surprisingly (6)

Continuing our exploration of the Orient, a geisha[5] (also geisha girl) is a Japanese hostess trained to entertain men with conversation, dance, and song.

22d   Church officer // attacked carrying cross (6)

A sexton[5] is a person who looks after a church and churchyard, typically acting as bell-ringer and gravedigger.

23d   Speak about short time /in/ lodge (4)

25d   Study involving the origin of rye /and/ another crop (4)

Con[5] is an archaic term meaning to study attentively or learn by heart (a piece of writing)  ⇒ the girls conned their pages with a great show of industry.

27d   Song /from/ Callas needing no introduction (4)

Maria Callas[5] (1923–1977) was an American-born operatic soprano, of Greek parentage; born Maria Cecilia Anna Kalageropoulos. She was a coloratura soprano whose bel canto style of singing was especially suited to 19th-century Italian opera.

In music, an aria[5] is a long accompanied song for a solo voice, typically one in an opera or oratorio.
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

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