Thursday, July 9, 2015

Thursday, July 9, 2015 — DT 27708

Puzzle at a Glance
Puzzle Number in The Daily Telegraph
DT 27708
Publication Date in The Daily Telegraph
Monday, January 26, 2015
Rufus (Roger Squires)
Link to Full Review
Big Dave's Crossword Blog [DT 27708]
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


Miffypops rated this as three stars for difficulty — assuming he didn't merely forget to change the stars from the default setting (*** / ***). Therefore, I feel rather pleased with myself (or chuffed, as the Brits would say), having finished without the need to involve my electronic assistants.

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   Go from bad to worse? (7)

5a   One who volunteers to fight, but he's not a boxer (7)

Terrier[5] is an informal British term for a member of the Territorial Army (TA)[5] which was at one time the name of a volunteer UK force founded in 1908 to provide a reserve of trained and disciplined military personnel for use in an emergency. Since 2013, it has been called the Army Reserve.

9a   Sucker for the bottle (5)

10a   Cite other changes /being/ purely speculative (9)

As one can observe from his review of this clue on Big Dave's site, Miffypops' written work is definitely more precise than his drawing.

11a   Almost the end of the match? (6,4)

In English law, a decree nisi[5] is an order by a court of law stating the date on which a marriage will end unless a good reason not to grant a divorce is produced.

12a   Experienced // hat-maker (4)

14a   Presumably one's bent on breaking the law (4-8)

This is truly a superb clue from the master at his finest. The word "bent" can be interpreted in a variety of ways. In the surface reading, "bent on" would be read as 'determined to'. In the cryptic reading, "bent" can be interpreted as meaning "curved". Furthermore, in Britain, the word bent[5] has the same connotation (dishonest or corrupt) as does the word crooked[5] in North America. [It would appear that the British use both bent and crooked in this sense].

Thus, the clue facetiously suggests that an ARCH-CRIMINAL gets his name due to becoming "bent" as a result of breaking the law.

18a   Eton prepared to change // rule (12)

Scratching the Surface
Eton College[7], often referred to simply as Eton, is a British independent [private] school for boys aged 13 to 18. It was founded in 1440 by King Henry VI as "The King's College of Our Lady of Eton besides Wyndsor". It is located in Eton, near Windsor in England, and is one of the original nine English public schools as defined by the Public Schools Act 1868. [Note: In Britain, "public schools" are a special class of private school; what North Americans would call public schools are referred to in Britain as state schools.]

21a   Not a fair copy (4)

I will part company with Miffypops and declare this to be a cryptic definition rather than a double definition. The broad straight definition is "copy" and the portion with the dashed underlining is a bit of cryptic elaboration that adds specificity  to the definition.

Crib[5] is used informally as a noun meaning (1) a translation of a text for use by students, especially in a surreptitious way ⇒ an English crib of Caesar’s Gallic Wars or (2) a thing that has been plagiarized ⇒ is the song a crib from Mozart’s ‘Don Giovanni’?.

22a   Bore, a title problematic // to get rid of (10)

Behind the Picture

The illustration in Miffypops' review comes from one of his favourite reference sources, My First Dictionary, a blog which later became a book. (expand explanation )

Here is how a review in the Boston Globe described the book:
In his new book “My First Dictionary: Corrupting Young Minds One Word at a Time’’ (It Books), Ross Horsley, a British librarian with a wicked sense of humor, skewers the adult world of lies and secrets, infidelities, and overindulgences. He accomplishes this by pairing cheery illustrations based on a children’s dictionary from the 1970s with his own twisted and irreverent definitions. Each word, from “abandon’’ to “zoo,’’ is used in a simply stated vignette involving adult subject matter, running the gamut from sexually transmitted diseases, pedophilia, and adultery to alcoholism, suicide, and murder. Horsley is an equal opportunity offender.
hide explanation

25a   Coming to river -- // that may be exciting (9)

In Christian theology, Advent[5] denotes the coming or second coming of Christ. Advent[5] is also the name of the first season of the Church year, leading up to Christmas and including the four preceding Sundays.

The word "to" is used as a charade indicator in the sense of "pressed against"—as in expressions such as "shoulder to the wheel" or "nose to the grindstone".

The River Ure[7] is a stream in North Yorkshire, England, approximately 74 miles (119 km) long from its source to the point where it changes name to the River Ouse.

26a   Rodent that is about /to become/ irritated (5)

Treat the wordplay as if it read "rodent; that is about" which could be a string of instructions:
(1) [Start with synonym for] rodent
(2) [Place an abbreviation for] that is around (about) [the interim result from step (1)]

27a   Given a permanent income /but/ was in debt by the finish (7)

28a   Catty female (7)


1d   Settle // concerning interest (6)

Side[5] is used in the sense of the position, interests, or attitude of one person or group, especially when regarded as being in opposition to another or others ⇒ (i) Mrs Burt hasn’t kept her side of the bargain; (ii) I would have loved to have heard his side of the argument.

What did he say?
In his review, Miffypops characterizes the word 'side' as "a well-known word with the unusual meaning affectation".
I believe this to be a red herring which has nothing to do with the clue at hand. It is merely another random meaning for a word that happens to be involved as part of the solution.

Side[5] is an informal British term meaning boastful or pretentious manner or attitude ⇒ there was absolutely no side to him.

2d   Cyril's playing /with/ words in numbers (6)

3d   Magazine that's designed for women? (6,4)

A powder room[1] is (1) a ship's powder magazine; (2) [an obviously dated term for] a room for powdering the hair (also powdering room); or (3) a euphemism for a ladies' toilet or cloakroom [which itself is a euphemism for a lavatory].

4d   /It's/ taken in // college at 18 in oral English (5)

Here, "18" is a pointer to clue 18a.

The word "it's" is not part of the definition but part of the framework of the clue — elements of the clue which exist merely to provide hooks on which to hang the definition and wordplay. Where a simple sentence structure is used in a clue, any such "framework" would comprise merely a link word or link phrase situated between the definition and the wordplay. However, in cases such as this, where the setter has employed a more complex sentence structure in the clue, the "framework" may be found at the beginning or end of the clue — or even consist of fragments scattered throughout the clue. This can be illustrated by restating the clue with a simple sentence structure (although this compromises or destroys the surface reading):
  • College at 18 in oral English /is/ taken in (5)
5d   Official /makes/ rate reform more certain (9)

6d   Special // artist the Queen's elevated (4)

{"artist" = RA (show explanation )

A Royal Academician (abbreviation RA[5]) is a member of the Royal Academy of Arts[5], an institution established in London in 1768, whose purpose is to cultivate painting, sculpture, and architecture in Britain. 

hide explanation

"the 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

7d   Mean to arrest that man // eventually (2,3,3)

8d   Articles about // concerts (8)

13d   Material in carol /needs/ a bit of learning (10)

Carol is used as a verb.

15d   Restricted // like cattle (9)

16d   Wise step to enter // modern era (5,3)

Remember what you learned at 26a.

17d   Sort of feeling one gets as siege is broken? (8)

The solution is not a noun meaning "sort of feeling" but an adjective (well, a past participle, actually) that could modify the word "feeling".

What did he say?
In his review, Miffypops mentions Mafeking as an example of a siege.
Mafeking[5] is the former name of the town of Mafikeng in South Africa, capital of North West. In 1899–1900, during the Second Boer War, a small British force commanded by Lord Baden-Powell was besieged in Mafeking for 215 days; the town’s eventual relief was greeted in Britain with widespread celebration.

19d   Wild // herb found around Virginia (6)

"Virginia" = VA (show explanation )

20d   Holiday // nook? (6)

23d   Nitre treated // like nitrogen (5)

Nitrogen[5] is the chemical element of atomic number 7, a colourless, odourless unreactive gas that forms about 78 per cent of the earth’s atmosphere.

Scratching the Surface
Nitre[5] and saltpetre[5] are alternative names for potassium nitrate[5], a white crystalline salt which is used in preserving meat and as a constituent of gunpowder.

24d   Point at present // that may come at Christmas (4)
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. Some great clues today - 3d and 14a are brilliant. Lots of anagrams to keep my solver nearby and a latin legal to boot. Loads of fun 4/4 rating. Thnx for the hint in 4d Falcon.

    1. I concur with your assessment of 3d and 14a. It is certainly amazing how Rufus manages to come up with such gems week after week.

  2. Was beginning to feel a little bit inert myself, so glad to see this one rated three stars. Needed some on-line help, plus lots of pre-pondering and post-pondering.

    Agree with Falcon re 21a.

    1. Speaking of people being inert, do you think that Brian may have taken up yoga or transcendental meditation? He seems to be a whole different being lately.

    2. Good one! Actually, I think Brian may have turned the corner on solving DT cryptics. It took me about a year before I became familiar with the many conventions used in constructing these puzzles. Then, one day I began cracking them regularly.