Monday, February 1, 2016

Monday, February 1, 2016 — DT 27895

Puzzle at a Glance
Puzzle Number in The Daily Telegraph
DT 27895
Publication Date in The Daily Telegraph
Tuesday, September 1, 2015
Link to Full Review
Big Dave's Crossword Blog [DT 27895]
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 27894 which was published in The Daily Telegraph on Monday, August 31, 2015.


With the puzzle riddled with supposedly North American usages, I was expecting howls of outrage in the comments on Big Dave's site today. However, their is scarcely a whimper. Are the Brits losing their edge or have these terms successfully infiltrated British English?

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   High-flier up for trial? (4,5)

6a   Self-satisfied // son, sucker (4)

Mug[5] is an informal British term for a stupid or gullible person ⇒ they were no mugs where finance was concerned.

10a   Dull // ending of secret ceremony (5)

11a   Supposing that, entering important // round of cup (4-5)

Cup[5,10] is a British term for a sporting contest in which a cup is awarded to the winner playing in the Cup is the best thing ever.

12a   Long and complicated procedure // investing millions in capital function (9)

Riga[5] is a port on the Baltic Sea, capital of Latvia; population 722,000 (est. 2007).

14a   A wing /that's/ out of the way (5)

15a   One in clear // case (7)

This is a case ironically demanding a doctor's attention.

16a   Tout // upset priest after Towcester's first (7)

During the solve, I supposed that tout[5] was being used in the North American sense of a person who offers racing tips for a share of any resulting winnings — and thus was bracing for the expected cries of outrage from commenters on Big Dave's site.

However, I set that thought aside when I discovered that tout[5] is an informal Northern Irish and Scottish term for an informer.

Thus I was rather surprised to see that Gazza's illustration shows tout being used in the supposedly North American sense.

Scratching the Surface
Towcester[7] (pronounced "Toe-ster"), the Roman town of Lactodorum, is an affluent market town in south Northamptonshire, England.

Towcester Racecourse[7] is a horse racing course at Towcester in Northamptonshire, England. Recently rebuilt, it hosts National Hunt Rules race meetings (over jumps) in the Winter months.

As Gazza points out in his review, "the surface means the first race at a meeting there [Towcester Racecourse]" — which lends further credence to the view that the word 'tout' is being used in the North American sense.

18a   Awful threat involving English // playhouse (7)

20a   Duck /taken from/ shopping precinct -– charge wife denied (7)

A shopping precinct is a mall — like Sparks Street in Ottawa. In fact, Oxford Dictionaries defines mall[5] (also shopping mall) as a chiefly North American term for a large enclosed shopping area from which traffic is excluded. Horrors — another North Americanism!

21a   Start // working with group (5)

23a   Bravery /of/ everyone locked in tower (9)

25a   Customers // tell niece off (9)

26a   Publish // thin paper once time runs out (5)

28a   Part of film /is/ true, reportedly (4)

A reel[5] is a part of a film ⇒ in the final reel he is transformed from unhinged sociopath into local hero.

Delving Deeper
Once upon a time, before the digital age, motion pictures were distributed to theatres on reels of film[7].

It is traditional to discuss the length of theatrical motion pictures in terms of "reels". The standard length of a 35 mm film reel is 1,000 feet (305 m), which runs approximately 11 minutes for sound film (24 frames per second) and slightly longer at silent film speed (which may vary from approximately 16 to 22 frames per second). Most films have visible cues which mark the end of the reel. This allows projectionists running reel-to-reel to change over to the next reel on the other projector.

A so-called "two-reeler" would have run about 20–24 minutes since the actual short film shipped to a movie theater for exhibition may have had slightly less (but rarely more) than 1,000 ft (305 m) on it. Most modern projectionists use the term "reel" when referring to a 2,000-foot (610 m) "two-reeler", as modern films are rarely shipped by single 1,000-foot (305 m) reels. A standard Hollywood movie averages about five 2000-foot reels in length.

As digital cinema catches on, the physical reel is being replaced by a virtual format called Digital Cinema Package, which can be distributed using any storage media (such as hard drives) or data transfer medium (such as the Internet or satellite links) and projected using a digital projector instead of a conventional movie projector.

29a   Sleep /in/ Happy Valley? (9)

Happy valley[5] is a a place of remarkable beauty, tranquillity, and contentedness. The term is frequently used with allusion to the earthly paradise depicted in English writer Samuel Johnson's Rasselas — where it was first used.

Gazza reports that he was unable to "find any definition (in the BRB or elsewhere) where Happy Valley has this meaning". He clearly neglected to consult Oxford Dictionaries. However, as we can see from his response to Comment #1 on Big Dave's Crossword Blog, it was not long before he had tracked down a source.


1d   Coach // tour arranged, crossing heart of Montana (5)

2d   Piece of sports equipment /found in/ dumpster, incomplete (3)

Skip[5] is the British name for a large transportable open-topped container for building and other refuse [in North America, known as a dumpster[5]] I’ve salvaged a carpet from a skip.

Yet another North Americanism.

3d   Having a litre in bar /is/ common (9)

4d   Endure // the French drink (4,3)

"the French" = LA (show explanation )

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

hide explanation

Stout[5] is a kind of strong, dark beer brewed with roasted malt or barley.

Last out[10] means to endure or survive ⇒ some old people don't last out the winter.

5d   Violent storm // encountered on the way up –- bother! (7)

A bother[4] is a person or thing that causes fuss, trouble, or annoyance.

7d   Welsh channel // broadcast a minister holding a first in theology (5,6)

Anyone who has been a regular reader of the comments on Big Dave's Crossword Blog will likely have heard of this Welsh channel.

The Menai Strait[7] is a narrow stretch of shallow tidal water about 25 km (16 mi) long, which separates the island of Anglesey from the mainland of Wales.

Scratching the Surface
In the surface reading, first[5] is a British term signifying a place in the top grade in an examination, especially that for a degree ⇒ chaps with firsts from Oxbridge.

Oxbridge[5] denotes Oxford and Cambridge universities regarded together ⇒ [as modifier] Oxbridge colleges.

8d   Info attached to cane carrying mature plant (9)

Gen[5] is an informal British term for information ⇒ you’ve got more gen on him than we have.

9d   To kill a // king (4)

The brouhaha on Big Dave's site will surely be of epic proportions.

Off[5] is a North American term meaning to kill or murder ⇒ she might off a cop, but she wouldn’t shoot her boyfriend.

Offa[5] (died 796) was king of Mercia 757–96. He organized the construction of Offa’s Dyke.

Delving Deeper
Mercia[5] was a former kingdom of central England. It was established by invading Angles in the 6th century AD in the border areas between the new Anglo-Saxon settlements in the east and the Celtic regions in the west.

Offa's Dyke[5] is a series of earthworks marking the traditional boundary between England and Wales, running from near the mouth of the Wye to near the mouth of the Dee, originally constructed by Offa in the second half of the 8th century to mark the boundary established by his wars with the Welsh.

13d   Urchin, // for example, raised to pocket absolute bargain (11)

Snip[5,10] is a mainly British term for a surprisingly cheap item; in other words, a bargain ⇒ the wine is a snip at £3.65.

15d   Father caught in lot with RR, a suspect // vehicle (6,3)

"caught" = C (show explanation )

In cricket, similar to baseball, one way for a batsman to be dismissed is to be caught out[5], that is for a player on the opposing team to catch a ball that has been hit by the batsman before it touches the ground.

On cricket scorecards, the abbreviation c.[2,10] or c[5] denotes caught or caught by.

hide explanation

The monogram RR appears on the grill of a Rolls Royce automobile.

17d   London theatre // element (9)

The London Palladium[5] is a 2,286-seat West End [London equivalent of Broadway] theatre located on Argyll Street in the City of Westminster. From the roster of stars who have played there and many televised performances, it is arguably the most famous theatre in London and the United Kingdom, especially for musical variety shows.

Palladium[5] (symbol Pd) is the chemical element of atomic number 46, a rare silvery-white metal resembling platinum.

19d   Bit of breakfast with chief // boffin (7)

Boffin[5] is an informal British term denoting:
  • a person engaged in scientific or technical research ⇒ the boffins at the Telecommunications Research Establishment; or
  • a person with knowledge or a skill considered to be complex or arcane ⇒ a computer boffin.
20d   French dramatist/'s/ further entertaining story (7)

Molière[5] (1622–1673) was a French dramatist; pseudonym of Jean-Baptiste Poquelin. He wrote more than twenty comic plays about contemporary France, developing stock characters from Italian commedia dell’arte. Notable works: Tartuffe (1664), Le Misanthrope (1666), and Le Bourgeois gentilhomme (1670).

22d   Quality of sound // from saxophonist on euphonium? (4)

Scratching the Surface
A euphonium[5] is a valved brass musical instrument of tenor pitch, resembling a small tuba.

24d   Return from investment // unknown, criminal lied (5)

In mathematics (algebra, in particular), an unknown[10] is a variable, or the quantity it represents, the value of which is to be discovered by solving an equation ⇒ 3y = 4x + 5 is an equation in two unknowns. [Unknowns are customarily represented symbolically by the letters x, y and z.]

27d   Quarrel briefly /in/ hydro (3)

In many parts of Canada, hydro means electricity[5] — but not in this clue.

Hydro[5] is a British term for a hotel or clinic originally providing hydropathic treatment ⇒ win a week at Springs Hydro.
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. With reference to 9d Petitjean gave us this rather fine clue in a Toughie puzzle last week:
    5d Two pairs of smalls under a popular offer? (8)


  2. Thank you, Gazza

    It took me a while, but I eventually managed to decrypt it. I agree that it is a "rather fine clue".

    So as to not spoil it for other readers, I will wait and include the solution in tomorrow's post.