Monday, August 10, 2015

Monday, August 10, 2015 — DT 27731 (Bonus Puzzle)


The National Post may be publishing on a reduced schedule for the summer. However, that doesn't mean you have to forgo your Monday puzzle. Here is DT 27731, the puzzle that I expect would have appeared had the presses run today.

Puzzle at a Glance
Puzzle Number in The Daily Telegraph
DT 27731
Publication Date in The Daily Telegraph
Saturday, February 21, 2015
Cephas (Peter Chamberlain) [possibly]
Link to Full Review
Big Dave's Crossword Blog [DT 27731 – Hints]
Big Dave's Crossword Blog [DT 27731 – Review]
Big Dave's Crossword Blog Review Written By
Big Dave (Hints)
gnomethang (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.


It would appear that gnomethang may have been more than a bit distracted as he wrote his review of this puzzle at Big Dave's Crossword Blog judging by the number of errors in it. The England cricket team were in New Zealand for the Cricket World Cup and faring very poorly when this puzzle appeared in the UK (having so far been defeated in both their games — against Australia and New Zealand). Perhaps that was weighing on his mind.

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   Nudist should cover the feminine French back // one's studying in the wild (10)

"the feminine French" = LA (show explanation )

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

hide explanation

The setter could equally well have chosen to minister to the feminine Spanish back.

A naturist is a practitioner of naturismnaturism[1] being communal nudity or nudity practised openly, sometimes in the belief that it encourages self-respect, respect for others and a feeling of being in harmony with nature. Among practitioners in the US, the term nudist would seem to be generally preferred while in Europe and Canada, the use of the word naturist is more prevalent.

The term naturist is often confused — sometimes to humorous effect — with naturalist[5], an expert in or student of natural history.

6a   Thus the Italian's entered // tower (4)

"the Italian" = IL (show explanation )

In Italian, the masculine singular form of the definite article is il[8].

hide explanation

This style of clue is what I like to think of as a recipe. To solve it, one must insert a mental pause or the appropriate punctuation into the wordplay to split it into a series of steps. When one does this, the wordplay becomes "Thus; the Italian's entered". This can be further expanded as "Step 1: [Start with a word meaning] thus; Step 2: [then] insert ([indicated by] has entered) an Italian definite article (the Italian) [into the result obtained in Step 1].

8a   Verify // detail arranged by Virginia (8)

"Virginia" = VA (show explanation )

There are a couple of possible explanations for this clueing:
  • The abbreviation for Virginia is Va[5].
  • In official postal use, the abbreviation for Virginia is VA[5].
hide explanation

9a   Irritation of fine // to be passed on (3,3)

Rub[3] might mean irritation in any of several senses, namely (1) an unevenness on a surface; (2) an act or remark that annoys or hurts another; or (3)a difficulty or obstacle.

"fine" = F (show explanation )

F[5] is an abbreviation for fine, as used in describing grades of pencil lead [a usage that Oxford Dictionaries Online surprisingly characterizes as British].

hide explanation

Note: gnomethang has clearly misspoken himself in writing "F – the abb. of F(rom)" and surely intended to say "F – the abb. of F(ine)".

10a   Jam // rugby man's put on grill (8)

In rugby, a lock[5] (also called lock forward) is a player in the second row of a scrum.

11a   Penny has a part /in/ limited release (6)

"penny" = P (show explanation )

In Britain's current decimal currency system, a penny[5] (plural pennies [for separate coins] or pence [for a sum of money]) is a bronze coin and monetary unit equal to one hundredth of a pound. The abbreviation for penny or pence is p[5].

hide explanation

12a   Note /it's/ old currency (4)

Until the introduction of the euro in 2002, the mark[5] (also called Deutschmark[5] or Deutsche Mark [from German deutsche Mark 'German mark']) was the basic monetary unit of Germany, equal to 100 pfennig Germany spent billions of marks to save the French franc from speculators.

Or, should you prefer an even older currency also known as the mark[5], there is a former English and Scottish money of account, equal to thirteen shillings and four pence in the currency of the day Sir William left 500 marks for repairing the road to Cambridge.

14a   Welcome // teams off and on going to British sporting event (7)

The phrase "off and on" is used to indicate an alternate series of letters in the word "teams" — in particular, the even numbered series. We discard (off) the first letter and use (on) the second letter (and so on), giving us [t]E[a]M[s]. Had the clue read "on and off", it would would indicate the odd-numbered series and we would use the first letter (on) and discard (off) the second letter (and so on) giving us T[e]A[m]S.

"British" = B (show explanation )

B.[10] is an abbreviation for British.

hide explanation

Note: I initially presumed that the word "British" would be clueing BR. On that point, it would seem that I was not alone as is evident from gnomethang's hint. The difference is, he seems not to have noticed his error.

18a   Get to know about the // thing seen on the moors (7)

Moor[5] is a chiefly British term for a tract of open uncultivated upland, typically covered with heather.

20a   Boat // in Rio Grande overturned (4)

In Greek mythology, the Argo[10] was the ship in which Jason sailed in search of the Golden Fleece.

Scratching the Surface
The Rio Grande[5] is a river of North America which rises in the Rocky Mountains of southwestern Colorado and flows 3,030 km (1,880 miles) generally south-eastwards to the Gulf of Mexico, forming the US-Mexico frontier from El Paso to the sea.

23a   Rat appearing in river /for/ a number of years (6)

The Dee[5] is a river in northeastern Scotland, which rises in the Grampian Mountains and flows eastwards past Balmoral Castle to the North Sea at Aberdeen. Another river of the same name rises in North Wales and flows past Chester and on into the Irish Sea.

What did he say?
In his review, gnomethang points out that the River Deeis not in Italy.
This is a bit of a poke at himself. On December 31, 2010 in a review of DT 26437 (see 21a), gnomethang described the Po (a river in Italy) as being a Chinese river—a faux pas he has never managed to live down (with the ribbing beginning with this comment from Giovanni).

24a   Back // in the Commons? (8)

Return[5] (said of an electorate) means to elect (a person or party) to office ⇒ the city of Glasgow returned eleven Labour MPs.

25a   Sensation // that's revealed in backbiting letters (6)

26a   After lunchtime, two learners will join Sid as he goes round // slope (8)

The denizens of Crosswordland typically favour a late lunch.

What did he say?
In his review, gnomethang makes reference to ... the British Gas sell-off in the 80’s ....
British Gas plc[7] [public limited company] was an energy and home services provider in the United Kingdom which was formed when the state-owned British Gas Corporation was privatized in 1986 by the government of Margaret Thatcher. In December 1986, its shares were floated on the London stock market. To encourage individuals to become shareholders, the offer was intensely advertised with the "If you see Sid...Tell him!" campaign.

27a   A shade // gloomy (4)

28a   Change of heart // -- coach's to drop one near factory (10)

In his review, gnomethang slightly misses the mark in his explanation of the wordplay. To be precise, it is TRAN {TRA[I]N (coach; teach) with the letter I (one) removed (to drop)} + S ('s) + (near) PLANT (factory).


1d   Find way // to raise the terrible match attendance (8)

Ivan is the name of six rulers of Russia, the most famous being Ivan IV[5] (1530–84), grand duke of Muscovy 1533–47 and first tsar of Russia 1547–84; known as Ivan the Terrible. He captured Kazan, Astrakhan, and Siberia, but the Tartar siege of Moscow and the Polish victory in the Livonian War (1558–82) left Russia weak and divided. In 1581 he killed his eldest son Ivan in a fit of rage, the succession passing to his mentally disturbed second son Fyodor.

2d   Negotiate over one extra's opening /in/ film (6)

Talkie[5]  is an informal term for a film with a soundtrack, as distinct from a silent film ⇒ one of the most beloved actors of the silent screen and early talkies.

3d   Puzzle // that is full of holes (6)

A riddle[5] is a large coarse sieve, especially one used for separating ashes from cinders or sand from gravel. As a verb, riddle[5] means to pass (a substance) through a large coarse sieve ⇒ for final potting, the soil mixture is not riddled.

4d   It's unfortunately clear to me // one's a poor timekeeper (9)

5d   Go and fish // where one pays one's way (8)

Although the term turnpike is very much in current use in the US, it would apparently be viewed as a historical term by readers across the pond. In the UK, between the mid-16th and late 19th centuries, a turnpike[4] was (1) gates or some other barrier set across a road to prevent passage until a toll had been paid or (2) a road on which a turnpike was operated.

6d   Take away // warship on land (8)

7d   Large independent cat /offers/ vital bond (8)

"independent" = I (show explanation )

I[1] is the abbreviation for independent, likely in the context of a politician with no party affiliation. 

hide explanation

13d   He ordains eccentric // old African (9)

A Rhodesian[5] is a native or inhabitant of Rhodesia[5], the former name of a large territory in central southern Africa which was divided into Northern Rhodesia (now Zambia) and Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe). The region was developed, beginning in 1889, by British-born South African statesman Cecil Rhodes (1853–1902) [for whom it was named] through the British South Africa Company, which administered it until Southern Rhodesia became a self-governing British colony in 1923 and Northern Rhodesia a British protectorate in 1924.

15d   Mother and I will have nearly everything /that's/ relevant (8)

Mater[5] [Latin for 'mother'] is a dated, informal British term for mother ⇒ the mater has kept on the house in London.

Note: I am sure gnomethang had every intention of writing "I from the clue" rather than "A from the clue".

16d   Spruced up gala with reed // that grows underwater (3,5)

Red algae[5] are a large group of algae that includes many seaweeds that are mainly red in colour. Some kinds yield useful products (agar, alginates) or are used as food (laver, dulse, carrageen).

17d   With carbon on top, black must be scrubbed from lower-storey // window (8)

19d   Way paper /presents/ moving trial (4,4)

Paper[5], is a British term for (1) a set of examination questions to be answered at one session ⇒ we had to sit a three-hour paper or (2) the written answers to examination questions ⇒ you need to test your students, mark their papers, and place them in the right class.

21d   Stop // going uphill as well (4,2)

22d   Articles about drink /causing/ heart disease (6)
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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