Friday, January 15, 2016

Friday, January 15, 2016 — DT 27881

Puzzle at a Glance
Puzzle Number in The Daily Telegraph
DT 27881
Publication Date in The Daily Telegraph
Saturday, August 15, 2015
Link to Full Review
Big Dave's Crossword Blog [DT 27881 – Hints]
Big Dave's Crossword Blog [DT 27881 – 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.


The consensus seems to be that this puzzle is both more difficult and more enjoyable than the typical "Saturday" prize puzzle. The puzzle is even more challenging to those of us on this side of the pond due to the inclusion of several pretty obscure British references.

Those who attempted to visit Big Dave's Crossword Blog yesterday may well have encountered various problems ranging from extremely slow response to outright failure to connect. The site was experiencing major technical issues throughout the day which seemed to be resolved by evening here in Ottawa. Hopefully, the improvement is not solely due to all the Brits having gone to bed.

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.


4a   I boast // highbrow subject introduced by appropriate presenter (8)

Presenter[5] is a British term for a person who introduces and appears in a television or radio programme. In North America, terms such as host, announcer or anchor might be used for such a person.

Melvyn Bragg[7] is a British broadcaster, author and parliamentarian. He is best known for his work with British commercial television network ITV as editor and presenter of the The South Bank Show [a television arts magazine show] (1978–2010).

8a   Bishop's joint // a job for chiropodist (6)

"bishop" = B (show explanation )

B[5] is an abbreviation for bishop that is used in recording moves in chess.

hide explanation

A union[5] is a joint or coupling for pipes.

9a   A bird/'s/ exciting times out (8)

Titmouse[5] is another term for tit[5], any of numerous species of small songbird that searches acrobatically for insects among foliage and branches. Called chickadee in North America.

10a   What riders wear // jumping Becher's, consuming energy (8)

"energy" = E (show explanation )

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

hide explanation

Unless I misconstrue her intent, crypticsue has introduced an extra "E" into her explanation.

Scratching the Surface
Becher's Brook[7] is a fence jumped during the Grand National, a National Hunt horse race held annually at Aintree Racecourse near Liverpool, England. It is jumped twice during the race, as the sixth and 22nd fence, as well as on four other occasions during the year. It has always been a notorious and controversial obstacle, because of the size and angle of the 6 ft 9 in drop on the landing side. Some jockeys have compared it to "jumping off the edge of the world."

After the deaths of Dark Ivy in the 1987 Grand National and Seeandem and Brown Trix in the 1989 Grand National, all at Becher's Brook, Aintree bowed to pressure from animal rights groups and undertook extensive modifications to the fence. Further changes were made after two horses, Ornais and Dooneys Gate, died during the 2011 Grand National, the latter at Becher's. The incident involving Dooneys Gate resulted in the fence being jumped only once for the first time in the race's history; it was bypassed on the outside on the second circuit while veterinary staff attended to him.

11a   Conductor/'s/ upset (6)

Sir Simon Rattle[7] is an English conductor. He rose to international prominence during the 1980s and 1990s, while Music Director of the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra (1980–98). He has been principal conductor of the Berlin Philharmonic since 2002, and plans to leave his position at the end of his current contract, in 2018. It was announced in March 2015 that Rattle would become Music Director of the London Symphony Orchestra from September 2017.

12a   Cancel my orders /for/ plant (8)

A cyclamen[5] is any of several species of European plant of the primrose family, having pink, red, or white flowers with backward-curving petals and grown as a winter-flowering pot plant.

13a   Record of top cricket match // that was once broadcast in quiet periods (4,4)

A Test[5] (short for Test match)[5] is an international cricket or rugby match, typically one of a series, played between teams representing two different countries ⇒ the Test match between Pakistan and the West Indies.

A card[5] is a record of scores in a sporting event; a scorecard.

Test card[5] is a British term for a still television picture transmitted outside normal programme hours and designed for use in judging the quality and position of the image. [The equivalent North American term is test pattern].

16a   Deny /being/ negative in a fit of temper (8)

I thought the setter was being whimsical, but it turns out that he (or she) is just being British.

I initially supposed that "a fit of temper" was a play on the word "abate" meaning to lessen or temper. However, that proves not to be the case. Bate[5] (also bait) is a dated, informal British term meaning an angry mood ⇒ he got into a stinking bate.

Neg[5] is an informal term for a photographic negative ⇒ I’ve got the negs and the prints.

Abnegate[5] is a formal term meaning to renounce or reject (something desired or valuable) ⇒ he attempts to abnegate personal responsibility.

19a   British manager sacked // -- he gets lighter work (8)

It looks like the sacking season [see Wednesday's review of DT 27879] is not over yet.

A lighter[5] is a flat-bottomed barge or other unpowered boat used to transfer goods to and from ships in harbour.

21a   Boost /for/ royal consort proclaimed (6)

Prince Philip[5], Duke of Edinburgh is husband of [consort to] Elizabeth II. The son of Prince Andrew of Greece and Denmark, he married Princess Elizabeth in 1947; on the eve of his marriage he was created Duke of Edinburgh.

I suppose it is instructive that Oxford Dictionaries lists Prince Albert[5] as consort to Queen Victoria but shows Prince Philip[5] as husband of Queen Elizabeth.

23a   Stay more upright, // lacking interest (8)

24a   Rugby player /see/ stick around new party (5-3)

In rugby, stand-off[5] is short for stand-off half[5], a half back who forms a link between the scrum half and the three-quarters.

This clue was rephrased on the Telegraph Puzzles website to read:
  • Stick around northern party /to see/ rugby player (5-3)

What did she say?
In her review, crypticsue wonders Such an insignificant change – I wonder why??.
I would think because the original wording is not only awkward but, surely, also grammatically incorrect.  I'm glad to see that I'm on the same page as Gazza on that point. However, rather than Yoda-speak (as he saw it), the clue reminds me of the stilted dialogue spoken by American Indians in old Hollywood westerns.

25a   Peacekeepers in intricate // act of madness (6)

"peacekeepers" = UN (show explanation )

The United Nations[5] (abbreviation UN) is an international organization of countries set up in 1945, in succession to the League of Nations, to promote international peace, security, and cooperation.

The UN Security Council bears the primary responsibility for the maintenance of peace and security, and may call on members to take action, chiefly peacekeeping action, to enforce its decisions.

hide explanation

26a   Dickens character in uninteresting, // dull work (8)

Barnaby Rudge: A Tale of the Riots of Eighty[7] (commonly known as Barnaby Rudge) is a historical novel by British writer Charles Dickens (1812–1870).


1d   Coaches // county seconds (7)

Surrey[5] is a county of southeastern England; county town, Kingston upon Thames.

A surrey[5] is a light four-wheeled carriage with two seats facing forwards. According to Oxford Dictionaries, this is a US term. However, neither Collins English Dictionary[10] nor Chambers 21st Century Dictionary[2] characterize it as such. The name originally denoted a Surrey cart, first made in Surrey, from which the carriage was later adapted.

Scratching the Surface
The seconds[5] are the reserve team of a sports club. A reserve[5] is an extra player in a team, serving as a possible substitute ⇒ he was reserve hooker [position on a rugby team] for the World Cup team. The reserves[5] are the the second-choice team ⇒ playing in the first team has been a big step up after the reserves.

"County" likely refers to a sports organization — perhaps a cricket club — representing a county. In fact, it might even refer to the Surrey County Cricket Club[7], one of the 18 professional county clubs which make up the English and Welsh domestic cricket structure.

County cricket[7] is the highest level of domestic cricket in England and Wales. It involves many county teams, of which eighteen currently play in the first-class competition called the County Championship and a number of others in the Minor Counties Championship.

What did he say?
In his hints, Big Dave refers to Surrey as one of the Home Counties.
The Home Counties[5] are the counties surrounding London in southeast (SE) England, into which London has extended.

However, no exact definition of the term exists and the composition of the home counties remains a matter of debate. Oxford Dictionaries restrictively lists them as being chiefly Essex, Kent, Surrey, and Hertfordshire.

On the other hand, Wikipedia tells us that the Home Counties[7] are generally considered to include Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Essex, Hertfordshire, Kent, Surrey and Sussex (although Sussex does not border London).

Other counties more distant from London, such as Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Dorset, Hampshire and Oxfordshire are also sometimes included in the list due to their close proximity to the capital and their connection to the London regional economy.

2d   Feature of room // provided uplifting change (9)

I failed to see the full extent of the wordplay here, thinking that the clue was merely a cryptic definition of a feature that produces a change of air in a room by uplifting the old air up the chimney.

3d   Scan the melody in part // song (6)

Scratching the Surface
According to Oxford Dictionaries, a part-song[5] [which it spells with a hyphen] is a secular song with three or more voice parts, typically unaccompanied, and homophonic rather than contrapuntal in style. On the other hand, Collins English Dictionary spells the term without a hyphen and tells us that part song means:
  1. a song composed in harmonized parts; or
  2. (in more technical usage) a piece of homophonic choral music in which the topmost part carries the melody.

4d   Crazy // golf place -- club to go wrong at the start (4-2-3-6)

The Belfry[7] is a golf resort in Wishaw, Warwickshire, near Birmingham, England. The resort has three golf courses as well as being home to the headquarters of The Professional Golfers' Association. The Belfry has hosted the Ryder Cup on four occasions and has staged numerous European Tour events.

Really! I should know that?

5d   Star // in danger taking two separate directions (8)

The word "separate" here is key. It flags that there are two separate insertions.

6d   Good landlord /provides/ spirit (5)

"good" = G (show explanation )

The abbreviation G[10] for good likely relates to its use in grading school assignments or tests.

hide explanation

A landlord[5] is a man who keeps lodgings, a boarding house, or a pub.

Host[2] is an old term for an innkeeper or publican.

7d   Thief /is/ person in charge around street (7)

14d   Minor leader -- // one participating in revolutionary affair (9)

Che Guevara[7] (1928–1967) was an Argentine Marxist revolutionary, physician, author, guerrilla leader, diplomat, and military theorist. A major figure of the Cuban Revolution, his stylized visage has become a ubiquitous countercultural symbol of rebellion and global insignia within popular culture.

A chiefling[10] is a minor chief.

15d   US lawman to make point -- // it helps to listen (8)

Wyatt Earp[5] (1848–1929) was an American gambler and marshal. He is famous for the gunfight at the OK Corral (1881), in which Wyatt with his brothers and his friend Doc Holliday fought the Clanton brothers at Tombstone, Arizona.

17d   Second-rate celebrity is a pest (7)

A B-lister[5] is someone who is included on a real or imaginary list of the second most celebrated or sought-after individuals, especially in show business a B-list celebrity.

Blister[5] is a dated, informal British term for an annoying person ⇒ the child is a disgusting little blister.

18d   One used to pray /for/ fool in debt (7)

A hassock[5] is a cushion for kneeling on in church, while at prayer ⇒ he collected the prayer books and straightened the hassocks.

I discover that the meaning of hassock[5] with which I am familiar, a footstool, is a North American usage.

20d   One who's beaten up needs start of emergency // repair at last (6)

This repair would be done at a last, a last[5] being a shoemaker’s model [of the foot] for shaping or repairing a shoe or boot.

22d   Gave false report about North // having rules (5)

British dictionaries define rule[5] as a thin printed line or dash. This would seem to be a considerably broader definition than that found in American dictionaries where rule[3] is defined as a solid or decorative line, as used for separating newspaper columns.

As a verb, American dictionaries define rule[3] as to mark with lines, especially parallel straight lines, with the aid of a ruler or the like to rule paper. So it would appear that the Brits rule paper with rules while the Yanks rule paper with lines. In Canada — as is so often the case — we likely do both.
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. I think I hated this puzzle. I never heard of Bragg or Rattle or The Belfry. Nor am I familiar with a "lighter" as a barge and "bate" as temper (I parsed 16a the same way you did Falcon). I though 13a was impossible for a non-Brit and 20d very poor. Thanks for the explanations Falcon.

    1. The Briticism quotient was certainly amongst the highest that I've encountered.