Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Tuesday, February 2, 2016 — DT 27896

Puzzle at a Glance
Puzzle Number in The Daily Telegraph
DT 27896
Publication Date in The Daily Telegraph
Wednesday, September 2, 2015
Jay (Jeremy Mutch)
Link to Full Review
Big Dave's Crossword Blog [DT 27896]
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


I always enjoy Jay's puzzles. As I recall, I returned to this one several times before the last few clues surrendered.

I invite you to leave a comment to let us know how you fared with the puzzle.

Solution to Gazza's Clue

In a comment yesterday, Gazza left us with something to ponder:

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)
To refresh your memory, 9d in yesterday's puzzle was:
  • 9d   To kill a // king (4)
which parses as OFF (to kill) + A (from the clue) to give us OFFA (an 8th century king of Mercia, a former kingdom of central England on the border with Wales).

Click here to see the solution to this clue.

  • 5d Two pairs of smalls under a popular // offer? (8)
From the numeration (5d), we can see that it is a down clue, which plays a key role in solving it.

It is also crucial to group the elements of the wordplay correctly:
  • 5d Two pairs of {smalls under a} popular // offer? (8)
The clue parses as {(A + SS) + (A + SS)} (two pairs [instances] of {SS (smalls; see below) under [following in a down clue] A (from the clue)} + IN (popluar) giving the solution ASSASSIN (offer; someone who offs).

I would say that the use of SS as an abbreviation for 'smalls' is a whimsical invention of the setter. However, it has its basis in the ancient writing tradition of doubling the last letter of a Latin abbreviation in order to indicate the plural. For instance:
  • p. (pagina / 'page') and pp. (paginae / 'pages')
  • sq. (sequens / 'the following one') and sqq. (sequentes or sequentia / 'the following ones')
  • op. (opus / 'work') and opp. (opera / 'works')
This practice has even been extended to English plural abbreviations:
  • f. ('following page') and ff. ('following pages')
Thus it is hardly that much of a stretch for the setter to further extend the practice to the word "small".

As for the definition, it too is rather whimsical (as flagged by the question mark) in that "offer" is used to mean one who offs (off[5] being an informal, supposedly North American term meaning to kill or murder).

Scratching the Surface
Smalls[5] is an informal British term for small items of clothing, especially underwear.

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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   Uproar /caused by/ American chasing tail (6)

5a   Note about counselling organisation /for/ senior churchmen (8)

Relate[7] is a charity providing relationship support throughout the United Kingdom. Services include counselling for couples, families, young people and individuals, sex therapy, mediation and training courses.

Prelate[5] is a formal or historical term for a bishop or other high ecclesiastical dignitary.

9a   Start to change when a star /becomes/ a lover (8)

In astronomy, a nova[5] is a star showing a sudden large increase in brightness and then slowly returning to its original state over a few months.

A Casanova[5] is a man notorious for seducing women.

The term comes from Italian adventurer Giovanni Jacopo Casanova[5] (1725–1798); full name Giovanni Jacopo Casanova de Seingalt. He is famous for his memoirs describing his sexual encounters and other exploits.

10a   District /where/ most of public disorder comes after the pub? (6)

A barrio[5] is a district of a town in Spain and Spanish-speaking countries. In the US, a barrio[5] is the Spanish-speaking quarter of a town or city, especially one with a high poverty level.

11a   Versatile employee/'s/ bill to corporation following fine (8)

"fine" = F (show explanation )

F[5] is an abbreviation for fine, as used in describing grades of pencil lead [a usage that Oxford Dictionaries surprisingly characterizes as British].

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Corporation[3,4,5,11] is a dated humorous term for a large paunch or pot belly.

Tum[10] is an informal or childish word for stomach.

12a   The ultimate in daylight robbery /for/ a believer (6)

13a   Company originally using mostly Liverpudlian // dish (8)

As a noun, Liverpudlian[5] denotes:
  1. a native of Liverpool; or
  2. the dialect or accent of people from Liverpool ⇒ she answered in nasal Liverpudlian.
Liverpudlian[5] can also be used as an adjective (as it is in the surface reading of the clue) meaning relating to Liverpool ⇒ a Liverpudlian accent.

As a noun, Scouse[5] is an informal British term denoting:
  1. the dialect or accent of people from Liverpool the man turned on him in Scouse; or
  2. short for Scouser[5], a person from Liverpool.
Scouse[5] can also be used as an adjective meaning relating to Liverpool ⇒ a Scouse accent.

Couscous[5] is:
  1. a type of North African semolina in granules made from crushed durum wheat; or
  2. a spicy dish made by steaming or soaking couscous and adding meat, vegetables, or fruit.
15a   Fish dish served with skins off /for/ divine female (4)

In Egyptian mythology, Isis[5] is a goddess of fertility, wife of Osiris and mother of Horus. Her worship spread to western Asia, Greece, and Rome, where she was identified with various local goddesses.

17a   Second lieutenant locking up a // seasoned sailor (4)

I did enjoy the multiple connotations of a " seasoned sailor" .

19a   Fuel regularly pinched by favourite worker /getting/ irritable (8)

"worker" = ANT (show explanation )

The phrase "worker" is commonly used in cryptic crossword puzzles to clue ANT.

A worker[5] is a neuter or undeveloped female bee, wasp, ant, or other social insect, large numbers of which do the basic work of the colony.

In crossword puzzles, "worker" will most frequently be used to clue ANT and occasionally BEE but I have yet to see it used to clue WASP. Of course, "worker" is sometimes also used to clue HAND or MAN.

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The word "regularly" indicates that we are to extract a regular sequence of letters from the fodder (in this case "fuel"). The required regular sequence is most commonly every second letter (which can be either the odd sequence of letters or the even sequence of letters). However, on the rare occasion, I have seen this device used to indicate every third letter.

20a   Loud argument covering a right /to create/ litter (6)

"loud" = F (show explanation )

Forte[5] (abbreviation f[5]) is a musical direction meaning (as an adjective) loud or (as an adverb) loudly.

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A farrow[3] is a litter of pigs.

21a   Manxman perhaps /making/ one defamatory remark (8)

A Manxman[10] (feminine Manxwoman) is a native or inhabitant of the Isle of Man (show explanation ).

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. The island was part of the Norse kingdom of the Hebrides in the Middle Ages, passing into Scottish hands in 1266 for a time, until the English gained control in the early 15th century. Its ancient language, Manx, is still occasionally used for ceremonial purposes.

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22a   Work on body /producing/ a military display (6)

23a   Deviant /from/ sprawling capital city ultimately needs to be accommodated (8)

24a   Recognises // English branch of the Armed Forces in records (8)

The Royal Navy[5] (abbreviation RN) is the British navy. It was the most powerful navy in the world from the 17th century until the Second World War.

25a   Determined // to follow good editor (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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2d   A foreign area with goods for sale, // unexpectedly (8)

"a French" = UN (show explanation )

In French, the masculine singular form of the indefinite article is un[8].

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3d   Materials // most recently found in photographs (8)

4d   Others worried about endless trouble /and/ irascibility (5,4)

5d   Drugs // capitals are much busted (15)

6d   Smile as he struggles to release // restraints (7)

7d   Run to get served up, badly anticipating a // sort of pancake (8)

In Northern English dialect, badly[10] is used as a postpositive adjective meaning ill or poorly.

Delving Deeper
The word "poorly" is itself a bit of a Briticism. While North Americans might use the word poorly[5] to mean 'in poor health', we would do so in a statement such as I am feeling poorly today. On the other hand, Oxford Dictionaries provides the following examples of British usage: (i) I didn't manage too many lengths today but I haven't been for 2 weeks since being poorly sick.; (ii) Zoe Bird, 26, was forced to walk for an hour to reach her home with poorly toddler son Ryan after they were forced to leave the car.; (iii) Jakey on the other hand is poorly due to having an injection.

In Mexican cookery, a tortilla[5] is a thin, flat pancake made from maize [corn] flour, eaten hot or cold, typically with a savoury filling. However, in Spanish cookery, a tortilla[5] is an omelette.

8d   Too upset in call /for/ armed combat (5-3)

14d   Pure // uranium -- only deal is off! (9)

The symbol for the chemical element uranium is U[5].

15d   Left suet in shop going north. // Unfortunate! (3-5)

16d   People not happy /with/ fires burning here? (8)

17d   Reputation/'s/ up! (8)

18d   Enjoy getting up with plenty of time /for/ purchase (8)

19d   Writing about work offer (7)

"work" = OP (show explanation )

In music, an opus[5] (plural opuses or opera) is a separate composition or set of compositions.

The abbreviation Op.[5] (also op.), denoting opus, is used before a number given to each work of a particular composer, usually indicating the order of publication. The plural form of Op. is Opp..

Opus[5] can also be used in a more general sense to mean an artistic work, especially one on a large scale ⇒ he was writing an opus on Mexico.

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Key to Reference Sources: 

[1]   - The Chambers Dictionary, 11th Edition
[2]   - Search Chambers - (Chambers 21st Century Dictionary)
[3]   - TheFreeDictionary.com (American Heritage Dictionary)
[4]   - TheFreeDictionary.com (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] - CollinsDictionary.com (Collins English Dictionary)
[11] - TheFreeDictionary.com (Random House Kernerman Webster's College Dictionary)
Signing off for today — Falcon

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