Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Wednesday, January 20, 2016 — DT 27885

Puzzle at a Glance
Puzzle Number in The Daily Telegraph
DT 27885
Publication Date in The Daily Telegraph
Thursday, August 20, 2015
RayT (Ray Terrell)
Link to Full Review
Big Dave's Crossword Blog [DT 27885]
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


In his review at Big Dave's Crossword Blog, pommers rates this puzzle as warranting a mere single star for difficulty. My performance on the puzzle was far from stellar and his rating makes my performance look even worse. A bit of inattention to detail at 20a made 19d impossible to solve. I eventually threw in the towel and sought assistance from pommers' review.

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.


7a   Wavering // atheist accepting new changes (8)

9a   Man-eating monster // thus brought back by ship (6)

"ship" = SS (show explanation )

In Crosswordland, a ship is almost invariably a steamship, the abbreviation for which is SS[5]the SS Canberra.

hide explanation

10a   Tabloid king // hit rock bottom? (4)

The Sun[7] is a daily tabloid newspaper published in the United Kingdom and Ireland by a division of News UK, a wholly owned subsidiary of Rupert Murdoch's News Corp.

"king" = K (show explanation )

K[5] is an abbreviation for king that is used especially in describing play in card games and recording moves in chess.

hide explanation

11a   Porcelain incorporating cool // cat (10)

A chinchilla[5] is:
  1. a small South American rodent with soft grey fur and a long bushy tail; or
  2. a cat or rabbit of a breed with silver-grey or grey fur.
12a   Secret // past revealed in court (6)

"court" = CT (show explanation )

Ct[2] is the abbreviation for Court in street addresses — and possibly in other contexts as well.

hide explanation

14a   Propositions // sweetheart leaving dodgy threesome (8)

"sweetheart" = E (show explanation )

Here we encounter a common cryptic crossword device, in which the word "sweetheart" is used to clue E, the middle letter (heart) of swEet.

hide explanation

15a   Romantic // Bond perhaps keeping trim (6)

James Bond[5] (known also by his code name 007) is a fictional British secret agent in the spy novels of English author Ian Fleming (1908–1964).

17a   Unit of force, // current and weight (6)

In physics, the newton[5] (abbreviation N) is the the SI (Système International d'Unités or International System of Units) unit of force. It is equal to the force that would give a mass of one kilogram an acceleration of one metre per second per second, and is equivalent to 100,000 dynes. [Named for English mathematician and physicist Sir Isaac Newton.]

20a   Right split about the first female // rector (8)

I carelessly interpreted "split" as a noun rather than a verb and thus ended up with an adjective for a solution rather than an noun. Needless to say, this played havoc with 19d.

In the Bible, Eve[5] is the first woman, companion of Adam and mother of Cain and Abel [not to mention Seth and their other sons and daughters].[Gen 5:4]

A rector[3,4,11] is a member of the clergy in the Episcopal, Anglican, or Roman Catholic churches.

22a   Gruff // detective taking over (6)

Inspector Endeavour Morse[7] is a fictional character in the eponymous series of detective novels by British author Colin Dexter, as well as the 33-episode 1987–2000 television drama Inspector Morse[7], with the character played by John Thaw. Morse is a senior CID (Criminal Investigation Department) officer with the Thames Valley Police force in Oxford, England.

"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.

hide explanation

What did he say?
In his review on Big Dave's Crossword Blog, pommers describes Inspector Morse asITV's most famous detective.
ITV[7] is a commercial TV network in the United Kingdom. Launched in 1955 as Independent Television under the auspices of the Independent Television Authority to provide competition to the BBC, it is also the oldest commercial network in the UK.

23a   Rotten cop I fancy // extorting money (10)

I think we have to interpret "extorting" as a present participle acting as an adjective.

Protection[5] is:
  1. the practice of paying money to criminals so as to prevent them from attacking oneself or one’s property ⇒ (i) a protection racket; (ii) protection money;
  2. protection money paid to criminals, especially on a regular basis.
24a   Beginning to feel ancient /seeing/ wrinkle (4)

On the Telegraph Puzzles website, the clue was changed to read:
  • Fellow, ancient, /seeing/ wrinkle (4)
"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

25a   Green GI needed to carry // apparatus (6)

Scratching the Surface
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).

26a   Instrument/'s/ bent with room to play (8)


1d   Shapeless // half-nude with blouse undone (8)

2d   Steal /and it's/ arrest /and/ prison (4)

The clue is a play on three different meanings of the word nick in British slang:
  • Nick[5] is an informal British term meaning to steal ⇒ she nicked fivers from the till.
  • Nick[5] is an informal British term meaning to arrest (someone) ⇒ Stuart and Dan got nicked for burglary.
  • The nick[5] is an informal British term for prison ⇒ he’ll end up in the nick for the rest of his life.
Of course, along the way there would almost certainly be some time spent in another nick.
  • Nick[5] is an informal British name for a police station ⇒ he was being fingerprinted in the nick.
3d   Tap stuck in barrel? // Wrench it, say (6)

From the perspective of a British dictionary, a faucet[10] is:
  1. a tap fitted to a barrel;
  2. (US & Canadian) a valve by which a fluid flow from a pipe can be controlled by opening and closing an orifice. Also called (in Britain and certain other countries) tap.
This is another instance where the British and US terms are both in widespread use in Canada.

The phrase "force it", when pronounced in a non-rhotic[7] British accent ("fo'ce it"), sounds like "faucet".

Delving Deeper
Non-rhotic accents omit the sound < r > in certain situations, while rhotic accents generally pronounce < r > in all contexts. Among the several dozen British English accents which exist, many are non-rhotic while American English (US and Canadian) is mainly rhotic. This is, however, a generalisation, as there are areas of Britain that are rhotic, and areas of America that are non-rhotic. For more information, see this guide to pronouncing < r > in British English.

4d   Real // civilisation, initially where Zeus was born (8)

Zeus[7] was the sky and thunder god in ancient Greek religion, who ruled as king of the gods of Mount Olympus.

Zeus is the child of Cronus and Rhea, the youngest of his siblings to be born, though sometimes reckoned the eldest as the others required disgorging from Cronus's stomach.

Cronus sired several children by Rhea: Hestia, Demeter, Hera, Hades, and Poseidon, but swallowed them all as soon as they were born, since he had learned from Gaia [the mother of both Cronus and Rhea] and Uranus [the father of both Cronus and Rhea] that he was destined to be overthrown by his son as he had previously overthrown Uranus, his own father, an oracle [prophecy] that Rhea heard and wished to avert.

When Zeus was about to be born, Rhea sought Gaia to devise a plan to save him, so that Cronus would get his retribution for his acts against Uranus and his own children. Rhea gave birth to Zeus in Crete, handing Cronus a rock wrapped in swaddling clothes, which he promptly swallowed.

5d   Referee /and/ one supporter turned renegade, we hear (10)

6d   Greasy lumps in // retreat? // On the contrary (6)

Some preparation is required before popping this clue in the oven. After following the instructions conveyed by the clue, we are left with:
  • Retreat in greasy lumps (6)
8d   Spoils // are not commonly wrapped by heartless thieves (6)

13d   Terrible conceit -- grew endlessly // selfish (10)

16d   Missionary /making/ contact in unending country (8)

In his review, pommers writes "This doesn’t quite work for me as the tenses don’t seem to match". However, with a slight adjustment to his explanation everything will be fine. The word REACH is clued by "contact" rather than "making contact". The word "making" simply plays the role of a link between the definition and wordplay.

18d   Catch fish, interrupted by small, // small bird (8)

The ling[5] is any of a number of long-bodied edible marine fishes including various species of large East Atlantic fish related to the cod, in particular Molva molva, which is of commercial importance.

19d   Plug breach // at sea (6)

My carelessness 20a came back to haunt me here.

21d   Duty // Queen performed with Freddie's heart (6)

"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

Scratching the Surface
Freddie Mercury[7] (1946–1991), born Farrokh Bulsara, was a British singer, songwriter and record producer, best known as the lead vocalist and songwriter of the rock band Queen. As a performer, he was known for his flamboyant stage persona and powerful vocals over a four-octave range. As a songwriter, he composed many hits for Queen, including "Bohemian Rhapsody," "Killer Queen," "Somebody to Love," "Don't Stop Me Now," "Crazy Little Thing Called Love," and "We Are the Champions."

22d   Guru/'s/ followers on hill (6)

A tor[7] is a large, free-standing rock outcrop that rises abruptly from the surrounding smooth and gentle slopes of a rounded hill summit or ridge crest. In the South West of England, the term is commonly also used for the hills themselves – particularly the high points of Dartmoor in Devon and Bodmin Moor in Cornwall.

24d   Starts to fabricate implausibly bogus stories (4)

This is an &lit.[7] clue (which pommers prefers to call an all-in-one). The entire clue (when read one way) is the definition, but under a different interpretation takes on the role of wordplay.
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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