Thursday, February 4, 2016

Thursday, February 4, 2016 — DT 27898

Puzzle at a Glance
Puzzle Number in The Daily Telegraph
DT 27898
Publication Date in The Daily Telegraph
Friday, September 4, 2015
Giovanni (Don Manley)
Link to Full Review
Big Dave's Crossword Blog [DT 27898]
Big Dave's Crossword Blog Review Written By
Deep Threat
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


I got myself into a bit of a mess on this puzzle by misspelling the name of the animal at 8d which then handicapped me at 10a and 16a. While I did call in the electronic reinforcements briefly, they really didn't deliver any solutions although they may have gently nudged me back on the right path. So I will give them a bit of credit.

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   Woman in charge, // a complainer, ruler in muddle (10)

"ruler" = 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.

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6a   Gardener's son // revealed by Somerset House (4)

In the Bible, Seth[10] is the third son of Adam and Eve, given by God in place of the murdered Abel (Genesis 4:25).

Scratching the Surface
Somerset House[7] is a large Neoclassical building situated on the south side of the Strand in central London, overlooking the River Thames, just east of Waterloo Bridge. The building, originally the site of a Tudor palace, was designed by Sir William Chambers in 1776, and further extended with Victorian wings to the east and west.

9a   A ben scaled could be construed as this (10)

I think we can consider the anagram indicator to be "could be construed as this" making the clue a true &lit. (all-in-one).

Ben[5] (used especially in place names) is Scottish for a high mountain or mountain peak ⇒ Ben Nevis.

Delving Deeper
Ben Nevis[5] is a mountain in western Scotland. Rising to 1,343 m (4,406 ft), it is the highest mountain in the British Isles.

10a   Wise guy, // the crossword compiler -- but not an abstainer (4)

I spent ages trying to construct a solution in which the first two letters were ME (show explanation ). However, I was to eventually realize that I was heading down the wrong path.

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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"an abstainer" = TT (show explanation )

Teetotal[5] (abbreviation TT[5]) means choosing or characterized by abstinence from alcohol ⇒ a teetotal lifestyle.

A teetotaller[5] (US teetotalerabbreviation TT[5]) is a person who never drinks alcohol.

The term teetotal is an emphatic extension of total, apparently first used by Richard Turner, a worker from Preston [England], in a speech (1833) urging total abstinence from all alcohol, rather than mere abstinence from spirits, as advocated by some early temperance reformers.

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13a   Hitting // the sack with only a bit of the body tucked in (7)

15a   Chaps in planes // mean to fly across Ireland (6)

Ir.[10] is an abbreviation for Ireland or Irish.

16a   Shabby // item taken from Hamish's allotment? (6)

As is customary, the National Post has published the clue as it appeared in the print edition of The Daily Telegraph. The problem with the clue is that it is missing a homophone indicator. This oversight was corrected on the Telegraph Puzzles website by revising the clue to read:
  • 16a   Shabby-sounding // item taken from Hamish's allotment? (6)
Tatty[5,10] is an informal, mainly British term denoting worn out, shabby, tawdry, or unkempt ⇒ tatty upholstered furniture.

I tried to identify who Hamish might be but found there were just too many possibilities. Then it hit me — that is precisely the point. Hamish[7] is a common Scottish name. Well, if truth be told, Hamish is the Anglicized form of the Scottish Gaelic name Seumas (equivalent to the English name James). Well, it does make a welcome change from Ian and Mac.

Allotment[5] is a Britsh term for a plot of land rented by an individual for growing vegetables or flowers. This term is also used in Canada — at least in Ottawa — although one would be more apt to hear the longer version of the name, allotment garden[7].

Tattie[5] is an informal, chiefly Scottish name for a potato ⇒ a hot plate of tatties ‘n’ mince.

What did he say?
In his review on Big Dave's Crossword Blog, Deep Threat refers to "tattie" as the vegetable that goes with haggis and neeps.
Neep[5] is a Scottish and Northern English name for a turnip ⇒ haggis and neeps.

Haggis[5] is a Scottish dish consisting of a sheep’s or calf’s offal mixed with suet, oatmeal, and seasoning and boiled in a bag, traditionally one made from the animal’s stomach.

17a   Be a bit mad, // having lost the thread? (4,1,5,5)

I interpreted the wordplay somewhat differently from Deep Threat, thinking that a screw which has lost its thread (i.e., having become worn) would be loose.

18a   Dismissed // a knight involved in heavy defeat (3,3)

"knight" = N (show explanation )

A knight[5] is a chess piece, typically with its top shaped like a horse’s head, that moves by jumping to the opposite corner of a rectangle two squares by three. Each player starts the game with two knights.

N[5] is the abbreviation for knight used in recording moves in chess [representing the pronunciation of kn-, since the initial letter k- represents 'king'].

As an aside, it is interesting to note that the Chambers 21st Century Dictionary defines: 
  • K[2] as an abbreviation used in chess for knight. 
  • K[2] is a symbol used in chess to represent a king. 
  • N[2] is a symbol used in chess to represent a knight.
The dictionary fails to specify how one differentiates an abbreviation from a symbol.

On the other hand, both The Chambers Dictionary and the Random House Kernerman Webster's College Dictionary list K or K.[1,11] as an abbreviation for knight without specifying the specific context in which this abbreviation is used. However, the context may well be in an honours list rather than in a game of chess. In the UK, for instance, KBE[5] stands for Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire.

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In cricket, run out[7] denotes the dismissal of a batsman by hitting a wicket with the ball while the batsman is out of his ground while running (ground[10] being the area from the popping crease back past the stumps, in which a batsman may legally stand). Should this occur while the batsman is out of his ground for any reason other than running, the batsman would be said to have been stumped rather than run out.

20a   More than one animal // goes by sea -- any number brought aboard (6)

The letter n[10] is used (especially in mathematics) as a symbol to represent an indefinite number (of) ⇒ there are n objects in a box.

21a   Leader of Democrats backing savage // cut (7)

22a   Return of workers' organisation one dismissed /as/ unacceptable to toffs (3-1)

Toff[5] is a derogatory, informal British term for a rich or upper-class person.

Non-U[5] is an informal British term meaning (of language or social behaviour) not characteristic of the upper social classes or not socially acceptable to certain people ⇒ he’s always teasing her for her Cockney accent and her non-U turns of phrase.

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

The latter 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).

25a   A docile man stirred up, // influenced by a devil (10)

26a   Vehicle // was first after starting second (4)

27a   Mob around Italy getting about, /making/ advance (4,6)

The International Vehicle Registration (IVR) code for Italy is I[5] [from Italian Italia].

Scratching the Surface
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".


1d   Nasty // plan (4)

2d   Charming // home set up overlooking church (4)

"church" = CE (show explanation )

The Church of England[10] (abbreviation CE[10]) is the reformed established state Church in England, Catholic in order and basic doctrine, with the Sovereign as its temporal head.

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3d   Good to reduce the courage of // potential killer (6)

"good" = G (show explanation )

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

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4d   Try something that looks impossible? // Oh, from earth once very tricky! (5,3,3,4)

I suppose that to reach for the moon[10] is a slightly less ambitious goal than to reach for the stars[5].

5d   Mum // is upset -- time to give things up? (6)

In the Christian Church, Lent[5] is the period preceding Easter, which is devoted to fasting, abstinence, and penitence in commemoration of Christ’s fasting in the wilderness.

7d   Chosen man in charge of // modern type of technology (10)

As an adjective elect[5] can mean chosen in several contexts:
  • (of a person) chosen or singled out ⇒ one of the century’s elect;
  • (in Christian Theology) chosen by God for salvation ⇒ (i) success was a sign that they were one of the elect; (ii) the elect group of saints which was predestined for heaven ;
  • (postpositive) chosen for a position but not yet in office ⇒ the President-Elect.
"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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8d   When trained he's a better // animal (10)

Initially misspelling the name of the animal certainly made solving 10a and 16a far more challenging than they need to have been.

The hartebeest[5] is any of three or four species of large African antelope with a long head and sloping back, related to the gnus.

11d   Groups coming together // chat about Wagner's work (10)

Der Ring des Nibelungen[7] (The Ring of the Nibelung) is a cycle of four epic music dramas by the German composer Richard Wagner. The works are based loosely on characters from the Norse sagas and the Nibelungenlied (The Song of the Nibelungs, an epic poem in Middle High German). It is often referred to as the Ring Cycle, Wagner's Ring, or simply The Ring.

12d   Source // established beyond doubt -- one of the forebears half forgotten (10)

13d   Country // vehicle conveying drunken earl (7)

Belarus[5] is a country in eastern Europe; population 9,648,500 (est. 2009); official language, Belorussian; capital, Minsk. Formerly called Belorussia, White Russia.

14d   Floral arrangement // guy brought up and put down (7)

Guy[3,4,11] means to make fun of, to hold up to ridicule, or to mock.

19d   Girl // runs into river -- start of adventure (6)

"runs" = R (show explanation )

On cricket scorecards [not to mention baseball scoreboards], the abbreviation R[5] denotes run(s).

In cricket, a run[5] is a unit of scoring achieved by hitting the ball so that both batsmen are able to run between the wickets, or awarded in some other circumstances.

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The Tees[5] is a river of northeastern England which rises in Cumbria and flows 128 km (80 miles) generally south-eastwards to the North Sea at Middlesbrough.

20d   Older // one is falling apart, little right! (6)

23d   Bit of the crust // a light brown? (4)

24d   Gee, boy /is/ cock-a-hoop! (4)

Cock-a-hoop[5] is an adjective denoting extremely and obviously pleased, especially about an achievement ⇒ the team is cock-a-hoop at winning its first game of the season.

The expression comes from the phrase set cock a hoop, of unknown origin, apparently denoting the action of turning on the tap (cock) and allowing liquor to flow (prior to a drinking session).
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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