Thursday, January 21, 2016

Thursday, January 21, 2016 — DT 27886

Puzzle at a Glance
Puzzle Number in The Daily Telegraph
DT 27886
Publication Date in The Daily Telegraph
Friday, August 21, 2015
Giovanni (Don Manley)
Link to Full Review
Big Dave's Crossword Blog [DT 27886]
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


Sometimes there appears a clue — though not that difficult in hindsight — that I just cannot get my head around. Such is the case with 18a today where, under pressure of the posting deadline, I threw in the towel and looked to Digby's review at Big Dave's Crossword Blog for assistance.

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   East European briefly securing time in charge of // party matters? (8)

"East European" relates to the usual country — except today it is an adjective rather than a noun (although Digby appears not to have noticed).

"in charge of" = IC (show explanation )

The abbreviation i/c[5] can be short for either
  1. (especially in military contexts) in charge of ⇒ the Quartermaster General is i/c rations; or
  2. in command ⇒ 2 i/c = second in command.
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5a   Bit of change /for/ officer? (6)

This "bit of change" vanished from the Canadian monetary system three years ago.

9a   Briton gallantly defends // this monarchy (5)

Tonga[5] is a country in the South Pacific consisting of an island group south-east of Fiji; population 120,900 (est. 2009); official languages, Tongan and English; capital, Nuku’alofa. Also called the Friendly Islands.

The kingdom of Tonga consists of about 170 volcanic and coral islands, of which thirty-six are inhabited. Visited by the Dutch in the early 17th century, Tonga became a British protectorate in 1900 and an independent Commonwealth state in 1970. It has been a constitutional monarchy since 1875. 

10a   Bird in a spot, having lost tail /in/ plant (9)

Erne[5] is a literary name for the sea eagle[5], any of several species of large Eurasian fish-eating eagle that frequents coasts and wetlands.

The pimpernel[5] is any of several species (in particular the scarlet pimpernel) of small European plant of the primrose family, with creeping stems and flat five-petalled flowers.

12a   Those euros exchanged /in/ treasury (10)

13a   Two metallic elements in minimal supply /in/ rock (4)

The phrase "in minimal supply" is a subtle clue that the two elements make no more than a symbolic appearance.

Chromium[5] (symbol Cr) is the chemical element of atomic number 24, a hard white metal used in stainless steel and other alloys.

The symbol for the chemical element silver is Ag[5] from Latin argentum.

15a   Artist ate out after work, eating bad // stew (11)

"artist" = RA (show explanation )

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

hide explanation

Ratatouille[5] is a vegetable dish consisting of onions, courgettes [zucchini], tomatoes, aubergines [eggplant], and peppers, fried and stewed in oil and sometimes served cold.

16a   Stretch out in bed maybe /for/ story (3)

17a   Name given to an // elderly relation? (3)

Nan[5] is an informal British term for one's grandmother.

18a   Improved // performance needed by little man getting 0! (6,5)

For the latter part of the solution, we need to take two steps to get from clue to result — "0" = O = ROUND.

The digit "0" is commonly used in cryptic crossword puzzles to clue the letter O, because they both have a round shape.

The word "round" is commonly used in cryptic crossword puzzles to clue the letter O, simply because the letter has a round shape. However, today the setter reverses the process.

As an adverb or preposition, the Brits are more apt to use "round"[adverb, preposition] whereas North Americans tend to use "around"[adverb, preposition]. Thus if the economy improved, the Brits would say that it "turned round" whereas we would say that it "turned around".

20a   One languishing? // Vitality // must be found (4)

Although a bit of an unusual construction, from a cryptic perspective the clue boils down to:
  • Vitality // must be found in one languishing (4)
21a   Amadeus is one well-known in musical circles (6,4)

... but his true middle name was Wolfgang!

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart[5] (1756–1791) was an Austrian composer; full name Johann Chrysostom Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.

24a   Something wicked, you might say, presented by the little girl // reasoning? (9)

26a   Label the French /used in/ presentation of information (5)

"the French" = LE (show explanation )

In French, the masculine singular form of the definite article is le[8].

hide explanation

27a   Bear // stopped short outside old city (6)

Ur[5] is an ancient Sumerian city formerly on the Euphrates, in southern Iraq. It was one of the oldest cities of Mesopotamia, dating from the 4th millennium BC, and reached its zenith in the late 3rd millennium BC. Ur[7] is considered by many to be the city of Ur Kasdim mentioned in the Book of Genesis as the birthplace of the Hebrew patriarch Abraham.

28a   Eastern isle occupied by extremely // common person (8)

The Isle of Man[5] (abbreviation IOM[5]) is an island in the Irish Sea which is a British Crown dependency having home rule, with its own legislature (the Tynwald) and judicial system.

Everyman[5] denotes an ordinary or typical human being ⇒ (i) at £1.80 a dozen, the oysters are Everyman’s treat; (ii) he is a kind of Everyman, who rises to heroism in the face of adversity.


1d   River volunteers getting pipe down /for/ chemical (6)

The Po[7] is a river that arises in the Cottian Alps and flows eastward across northern Italy entering the Adriatic Sea through a delta near Venice.

"volunteers" = TA (show explanation )

In the UK, Territorial Army[5] (abbreviation TA[5]) was, at one time, the name of a volunteer force founded in 1908 to provide a reserve of trained and disciplined military personnel for use in an emergency. Since 2013, this organization has been called the Army Reserve.

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Potash[7] is any of various mined and manufactured salts that contain potassium in water-soluble form. The name derives from pot ash, which refers to plant ashes soaked in water in a pot, the primary means of manufacturing the product before the industrial era. The word potassium is derived from potash.

2d   Nothing upsetting on journey, /in/ a manner of speaking (5)

3d   Path /of/ car or jet moving into territory's borders (10)

4d   Slide /with/ outer coating slightly deficient (3)

For me, this proved to be a clue with the solution slightly deficient. I carelessly parsed the wordplay as SKID (slide) with the final letter removed (outer coating slightly deficient; i.e., missing one of its outer letters). Of course, in retrospect, I can clearly see that this results in "slide" having to do double duty as both definition and part of the wordplay — a clear contravention of convention.

6d   Responsible for // maiden? (4)

In cricket, a maiden[5], also known as a maiden over, is an over in which no runs are scored.

In cricket, an over[5] is 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.

What did he say?
In his review on Big Dave's Crossword Blog, Digby says We need a few more of these [maidens] at the Oval !!.
The Oval[7] is an international cricket ground at Kennington, in the London Borough of Lambeth, South London. The Oval has been the home ground of Surrey County Cricket Club since it was opened in 1845. It is always referred to as "The Oval", and not "the Oval". It was the first ground in England to host international Test cricket in September 1880. The final Test match of the English season is traditionally played there.

At the time this puzzle appeared in The Daily Telegraph, England was hosting Australia in a Test match at The Oval and — from Digby's comments — it is obvious that Australia was batting.

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.

7d   Poster with a pleasant message (3,6)

This poster is someone who posts [mails] a letter.

Penfriend[5] (or pen friend[10]) is a British term for a person with whom one becomes friendly by exchanging letters, especially someone in a foreign country whom one has never met. An alternative name is pen pal[5] — the term that is customarily used in North America.

8d   Belief // about brave man, soldier imprisoned (8)

"soldier" = GI (show explanation )

A GI[5] is a private soldier in the US army ⇒ she went off with a GI during the war.

Contrary to popular belief, the term apparently is not an abbreviation for general infantryman, but rather derives from the term government (or general) issue (originally denoting equipment supplied to US forces).

hide explanation

10d   I sport chest that's exceptional -- // surgery responsible? (11)

The question mark is a key element of the definition clearly flagging the definition as a question — which we are to interpret as "[What was the branch of] surgery responsible?"

Prosthetics[5] is the branch of surgery concerned with the making and fitting of artificial body parts. A prosthetic[5] is an artificial body part, such as a limb, a heart, or a breast implant.

I am amazed by the number of Brits — the vast majority seeming to be women — who professed to not having realized what part of the body was implicated in the clue.

11d   Entertainments not to be taken at face value? (11)

A masquerade[10] is a party or other gathering to which the guests wear masks and costumes. Oxford Dictionaries asserts that this is a North American[5] usage although this contention is not generally supported by other British dictionaries[1,4,10] — although Chambers 21st Century Dictionary might appear to provide seemingly internally contradictory support[2].

The clue plays upon the fact that attendees have their faces covered by masks ("not to be taken at face value") as well as a masquerade[5] being a false show or pretence I doubt he could have kept up the masquerade for long.

14d   Get so cruel, wandering around // city (10)

Gloucester[5] is a city in southwestern England, the county town of Gloucestershire; population 127,100 (est. 2009). It was founded by the Romans, who called it Glevum, in AD 96.

15d   Vehicle running into grass // put on new course? (9)

16d   Person responsible for pub // seen scurrying around after insects (8)

A licensee[4] is a person who holds a licence, especially one to sell alcoholic drink.

19d   Head of faculty holds this person /to be/ lower in reputation (6)

"this person" = ME (show explanation )

It is a common cryptic crossword convention for the creator of the puzzle to use terms such as (the) compiler, (the) setter, (this) author, (this) writer, or this person to refer to himself or herself. To solve such a clue, one must generally substitute a first person pronoun (I or me) for whichever of these terms has been used in the clue.

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22d   US gangster and tramp /contributing to/ book (5)

Al Capone[5] (1899–1947) was an American gangster of Italian descent. He dominated organized crime in Chicago in the 1920s and was indirectly responsible for many murders, including the St Valentine’s Day Massacre.

23d   Rubbish piling up around hospital /can make/ one thunderous (4)

In Norse mythology, Thor[5,7], the son of Odin and Freya (Frigga), is a hammer-wielding god associated with thunder, lightning, storms, oak trees, strength, the protection of mankind, and also hallowing, healing and fertility. Thursday is named after him.

25d   Anger /with which/ father dismisses son (3)
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. 18a defeated me, as well. And a couple in the upper left corner. At least three stars and too many clunky legos for my taste.

    Plus, reading about Justin at Davos, it was one of those days when I wish the paper hadn't arrived.