Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Wednesday, December 16, 2015 — DT 27853

Puzzle at a Glance
Puzzle Number in The Daily Telegraph
DT 27853
Publication Date in The Daily Telegraph
Tuesday, July 14, 2015
Link to Full Review
Big Dave's Crossword Blog [DT 27853]
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
The National Post has skipped DT 27852 which was published in The Daily Telegraph on Monday, July 13, 2015.


I found today's puzzle to be fairly difficult but managed to tease out solutions to all the clues over the course of several solving sessions. However, I was not able to decipher the wordplay for one clue and had to look to Gazza's review for an explanation.

The Diversions page editor at the National Post has continued his or her assault on my sanity by dropping yet another puzzle.

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   Firm line held in competition /in/ vessel (7)

Coracle[5] (a term used especially in Wales and Ireland) denotes a small round boat made of wickerwork covered with a watertight material, propelled with a paddle.

5a   Incompetent // prescription against consumerism? (7)

9a   Extremist // engaged in awful trade (5)

An ultra[3,4,11] is an extremist, as in politics, religion, or fashion.

10a   Places where some are dazzled and most are kept in the dark? (9)

I would offer a slightly different explanation from that given by Gazza in his review. I concur that, in auditoria, most of those present (namely the audience) are kept in the dark due to the dimming of the house lights. However, since only "some are dazzled", it would seem that this does not refer to the audience being impressed with the performance but rather to the performers who are blinded (dazzled) by the spotlights under which they perform.
Dazzle[5] can mean either:
  1. (of a bright light) blind (a person or their eyes) temporarily ⇒ she was dazzled by the headlights; or
  2. amaze or overwhelm (someone) with a particular impressive quality ⇒ I was dazzled by the beauty and breadth of the exhibition.
This very point is raised by Beaver at Comment #4 on Big Dave's site where it becomes clear that I am approaching the clue from a very North American perspective. In the UK, the stage is not part of the auditorium and thus the performers would not normally be in the auditorium (although many of them were when I saw CATS).

In British usage, an auditorium[5] is the part of a theatre, concert hall, or other public building in which the audience sits ⇒ the stage was small and the auditorium had only 366 seats.

Whereas, in a chiefly North American usage, an auditorium[5] is a large building or hall used for public gatherings, typically speeches or stage performances ⇒ the National Indoor Arena is a magnificent auditorium and one of Britain’s premier indoor venues.

Note that the usage example in the latter definition actually refers to a British venue — so perhaps this usage is not entirely foreign to the UK.

It has been noted on many occasions that one of the mystery "Tuesday" setters often employs North American usages in his (or her) clues. I seem to recall Gazza wondering whether the setter may, in fact, be a North American.

11a   Sudden inspiration // in bar, potentially? (10)

This an inverse anagram [or, if  you prefer, a reverse anagram]. The solution, BRAINSTORM, could be viewed as wordplay in which an anagram (storm) of BRAIN produces the result IN BAR (which is found in the clue).

In a normal anagram, the anagram indicator and fodder would be given in the clue with the result appearing in the solution. However, in this clue, we have the inverse of that situation with the anagram indicator and fodder appearing in the solution with the result being given in the clue itself.

I'm with Angel (Comment #3 on Big Dave's Crossword Blog) that a BRAINSTORM "is not exactly a sudden inspiration which is rather more a brainWAVE". However, as Gazza points out, Oxford Dictionaries defines brainstorm[5] as an informal North American term for a sudden clever idea ⇒ these three brainstorms may flop like other well-intentioned innovations.

12a   Impressively long // English film (4)

14a   Flag approaching mile in circuit? // That's illuminating (8,4)

Standard lamp[5] is a British term for a lamp with a tall stem [post] whose base stands on the floor (known in North America as a floor lamp[5]).

18a   Check high-level craft /needed for/ executive position (12)

"check" = CH (show explanation )

In chess, ch.[10] is the abbreviation for check.

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Craft[5] is used in the sense of skills involved in carrying out one’s work ⇒ the artist learned his craft in Holland.

21a   Over drink, reviewed // work (4)

"over" = O (show explanation )

On cricket scorecards, the abbreviation O[5] denotes over(s), an over[5] being a division of play consisting of a sequence of six balls bowled by a bowler from one end of the pitch, after which another bowler takes over from the other end.

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As a verb, sup[5] is a dated or Northern English term meaning to take (drink or liquid food) by sips or spoonfuls ⇒ (i) she supped up her soup delightedly; (ii) he was supping straight from the bottle. As a noun, sup[5] means (1) a sip of liquid ⇒ he took another sup of wine or (2) in Northern England or Ireland, an alcoholic drink ⇒ the latest sup from those blokes at the brewery.

"work" = OPUS (show explanation )

In music, an opus[5] (plural opuses or opera) is a separate composition or set of compositions.

The abbreviation Op.[5] (also op.), denoting opus, is used before a number given to each work of a particular composer, usually indicating the order of publication. The plural form of Op. is Opp..

Opus[5] can also be used in a more general sense to mean an artistic work, especially one on a large scale ⇒ he was writing an opus on Mexico.

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22a   Revered figure engineered fuss about penalty, // being strait-laced (10)

25a   A posh drink hidden by variety of beer /is/ purple (9)

"posh" = U (show explanation )

In Britain, U[5] is used informally as an adjective (in respect to language or social behaviour) meaning characteristic of or appropriate to the upper social classes ⇒ U manners.

The term, an abbreviation of  upper class, was coined in 1954 by Alan S. C. Ross, professor of linguistics, and popularized by its use in Nancy Mitford's Noblesse Oblige (1956).

In Crosswordland, the letter U is frequently clued by words denoting "characteristic of the upper class" (such as posh or superior) or "appropriate to the upper class" (such as acceptable). 

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26a   'Brief // Encounter' -- selected screens (5)

Scratching the Surface
Brief Encounter[7] is a 1945 British film directed by David Lean about British suburban life, centering on Laura, a married woman with children whose conventional life becomes increasingly complicated because of a chance meeting at a railway station with a stranger, Alec. They inadvertently but quickly progress to an emotional love affair, which brings about unexpected consequences. The screenplay is by Noël Coward, based on his 1936 one-act play Still Life.

27a   Affair /produced by/ female hairstyle? (7)

Bang[2] (usually bangs) is a North American [especially US according to Chambers 21st Century Dictionary, although I am tempted to file a dissenting opinion] term for hair cut in a straight line across the forehead. The British term for this hairstyle is fringe. As a verb, bang means to cut the hair in this way.

Shebang[10] is slang for a situation, matter, or affair (especially in the phrase the whole shebang).

28a   Talk endlessly about old // weapon (7)


1d   My // discovery inside toaster? (6)

Crumbs[5] is an informal British term used used to express dismay or surprise (euphemism for Christ) ‘Crumbs,’ said Emily, ‘how embarrassing.’.

2d   Working group in retreat held up? // It's often repeated (6)

The solution may be clearer if one converts the prepositive adverb into a postpositive one "It's repeated often".

TU[3,4,11] is the abbreviation for Trade Union.

3d   This one car represented /in/ retail outlet (5,5)

4d   Bang on // outside of court after fire arises (5)

Bang on[5] is an informal British term meaning exactly right ⇒ the programme is bang on about the fashion world. [This term may be British, but I would say that it is commonly used in Canada.]

5d   Traffic facility // spared sun possibly (9)

6d   Food /from/ Orient slightly altered (4)

To me, this clue appears to be an indirect anagram — a definite no-no in cryptic crosswords. However, Gazza — in a statement that may have been made a bit tongue-in-cheek — excuses the transgression Without the word ‘slightly’ we’d probably be accusing the setter of providing an indirect anagram. I suppose that this is not unlike being only slightly pregnant.

7d   Pole, say, // that's seen shortly in back of canoe? (8)

I failed to decipher the wordplay and had to rely on Gazza's explanation.

The wordplay tells us that the final letter (back) of canoE is an abbreviation (shortly) for the solution.

8d   Artistic view in the main? (8)

The main[5] is an archaic or literary term for the open ocean.

13d   Manage a day with second of vicars /in/ church (10)

Minster[5] is a British term for a large or important church, typically one of cathedral status in the north of England that was built as part of a monastery ⇒ York Minster.

Scratching the Surface
A vicar[5] is a member of the clergy, although the meaning of the term varies among religious denominations. The term may mean:
  • in the the Church of England, an incumbent of a parish where tithes formerly passed to a chapter or religious house or layman;
  • in other Anglican Churches, a member of the clergy deputizing for another;
  • in the Roman Catholic Church, a representative or deputy of a bishop;
  • in the US Episcopal Church, a clergyman in charge of a chapel;
  • a cleric or choir member appointed to sing certain parts of a cathedral service.

15d   After nagging, initially only human to shed pounds? // It's almost disastrous! (4,5)

"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].

The Chambers Dictionary defines the upper case L[1] as the abbreviation for pound sterling (usually written £) and the lower case l[1] as the abbreviation for pound weight (usually written lb) — both deriving from the Latin word libra.

In ancient Rome, the libra[5] was a unit of weight, equivalent to 12 ounces (0.34 kg). It was the forerunner of the pound.

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16d   Lithe performers /in/ a musical entertaining mug (8)

CATS[7] is a musical by English composer Andrew Lloyd Webber, based on Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats by American-born British writer T. S. Eliot (1888–1965) and produced by British theatrical producer Cameron Mackintosh. It premiered in London in 1981 and on Broadway in 1982.

17d   Watch, perhaps, // woman with shift in a blue (8)

19d   Eccentric // party below river feature (6)

A weir[5] is a low dam built across a river to raise the level of water upstream or regulate its flow. [I am more familiar with its other meaning as a trap for fish.]

20d   /What's/ behind // master negotiator in part? (6)

Since the solution is ASTERN (an adverb), the definition must be "behind" (an adverb) rather than "what's behind" (a noun).

23d   Fellow with tie lacking a // physical presence (5)

"fellow" = F (show explanation )

F[2] is the abbreviation for Fellow (of a society, etc). For instance, it is found in professional designations such as FRAIC (Fellow of the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada).

hide explanation

The expression in the flesh[5] means in person or (of a thing) in its actual state ⇒ they decided that they should meet Alexander in the flesh.

24d   A song for promotion, // operatic number (4)

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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