Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Wednesday, February 3, 2016 — DT 27897

Puzzle at a Glance
Puzzle Number in The Daily Telegraph
DT 27897
Publication Date in The Daily Telegraph
Thursday, September 3, 2015
RayT (Ray Terrell)
Link to Full Review
Big Dave's Crossword Blog [DT 27897]
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 found today's puzzle to be very tricky indeed and needed quite a bit of aid from my electronic assistants to complete it. It was quite a relief to see from the comments on Big Dave's Crossword Blog that I was far from being alone in finding the puzzle difficult. As is so often the case, the problematic clues occur in interlinking clusters — one in the northwest quadrant and one in the southwest quadrant.

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   Hit /and/ stumped round end of over (6)

Scratching the Surface
As Kath says in her review at Big Dave's Crossword Blog, this clue has Nothing at all to do with cricket – it’s just pretending to be!.

In cricket (as in baseball), hit can refer to the batsman (or, in baseball, batter) striking the ball with the bat.

In cricket, stump[5,10]denotes a play by a fielder, especially a wicketkeeper, to dismiss a batsman by breaking his wicket with the ball or with the ball in the hand while the batsman is out of the crease but not running. [Had the batsman been running, he would be said to have been run out rather than stumped.]

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.

4a   Fought // advance with daughter embracing darling (8)

9a   Was first to admit slob // was idle (6)

I had this clue figured out correctly, but the correct slob refused to come to mind.

10a   Terribly serious following new // obsession (8)

12a   Court/'s/ central point overturned in court case (8)

13a   One's back having taken in a distant // expedition (6)

15a   Cat // litter's loose blends keeping hot (13)

18a   Offensive former husband can be polite, possibly (13)

Exceptionable[5] is a formal term meaning open to objection; causing disapproval or offence ⇒ his drawings are almost the only exceptionable part of his work.

22a   Insect originally circling // field (6)

24a   Regimen broken eating acceptable // dessert (8)

"acceptable" = U (show explanation )

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

The 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).

In Crosswordland, the letter U is frequently clued by words denoting "characteristic of the upper class" (such as posh or superior) or "appropriate to the upper class" (such as acceptable).

hide explanation

Meringue[3,4,11] is:
  1. a topping for pastry or pies made of a mixture of egg whites and sugar beaten until stiff and often baked until brown; or
  2. a small pastry shell or cake made of this mixture, often containing fruit, nutmeats or cream.
I was only familiar with the former meaning. However, the solution was obvious once the checking letters were in place.

26a   Anaesthetic /with/ nitrogen and oxygen kept in cold (8)

The symbol for the chemical element nitrogen is N[5] while O[5] is the symbol for the chemical element oxygen.

In medicine, a narcotic[5] is a drug which induces drowsiness, stupor, or insensibility, and relieves pain ⇒ pethidine, usually given as an injection, is a narcotic which causes drowsiness.

27a   Hesitate, /seeing/ female change (6)

28a   Shifty about cooker left // dirty (8)

Again, I was on the right trail but could not come up with the correct cooker.

29a   Polishes, accepting corporal's first // orders (6)


1d   Recognise // sailor hugging upper-class European (6)

"upper-class" = U (show explanation )

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

The 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).

In Crosswordland, the letter U is frequently clued by words denoting "characteristic of the upper class" (such as posh or superior) or "appropriate to the upper class" (such as acceptable). 

hide explanation

2d   Almost discover jerk's // unsentimental (9)

3d   Shout for joy, capturing Queen, guru's last // piece (7)

"Queen" = Q (show explanation )

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

hide explanation

5d   Harbinger // literary mariner raised (4)

Captain Nemo[7] (Latin for "Nobody")—also known as Prince Dakkar—is a fictional character created by the French science fiction author Jules Verne (1828–1905). Nemo appears in two of Verne's novels, Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea (1870) and The Mysterious Island (1874) as well as making a cameo appearance in Verne's play Journey Through the Impossible (1882).

Nemo, one of the best known antiheroes in fiction, is a mysterious figure. The son of an Indian Raja, he is a scientific genius who roams the depths of the sea in his submarine, the Nautilus.

6d   Shot phaser suppressing power, // maybe (7)

"power" = P (show explanation )

In physics, P[10] is a symbol used to represent power [among other things].

hide explanation

Scratching the Surface
In science fiction, a phaser[5] is a a weapon that delivers a beam that can stun or annihilate.

7d   Aluminium sink set up /for/ scientist (5)

Aluminium[5] is the British spelling of the chemical element aluminum, the symbol for which is Al[5].

I would say that Kath has not quite nailed the wordplay which actually parses as a reversal (set up) of {AL ([symbol for the chemical element] aluminium) + SET (sink; as the sun does in the west)}.

Nikola Tesla[7] (1856–1943) was a Serbian American inventor, electrical engineer, mechanical engineer, and futurist best known for his contributions to the design of the modern alternating current (AC) electricity supply system.

Delving Deeper
Tesla was a key figure in the "War of Currents"[7] in the late 1880s, in which George Westinghouse and Thomas Edison became adversaries due to Edison's promotion of direct current (DC) for electric power distribution against alternating current (AC) advocated by several European companies and Westinghouse Electric, which had acquired many of the patents by Nikola Tesla.

8d   Devotee /getting/ record on impulse, oddly (8)

11d   Brief // half of police catching a criminal (7)

I took me a while to cotton on to the fact that we are dealing with neither the first half nor the last half of "police".

14d   A star rose rising // up (7)

Up[3 (adverb: 16)] is used in the sense of apart or into pieces ⇒ tore it up.

16d   Tireless // Tsipras initially dividing Greece in broadcast (9)

Alexis Tsipras[7] is a Greek politician and the 185th and current Prime Minister of Greece.

Scratching the Surface
This clue appeared in the UK at the height of the Greek debt crisis. In fact, Tsipras had resigned two weeks earlier on August 20, 2015 and called a snap election for September 20, 2015. Despite a low turnout of only 57% versus 64% in previous elections, Tsipras received a solid vote of confidence, with his party, Syriza, achieving 35.50% of the vote, enough to form an anti-austerity coalition with rival party, ANEL.

17d   Yokels /in/ endless quiet among pines (8)

Pant[5] is used in the sense of to long for or to do something ⇒ the opening song makes you pant for more.

Somehow pant and pine do not seem synonymous to me. The former I equate with eager anticipation of an expected event, whereas the latter I would see to be a quiet longing for something that is not likely to happen.

19d   Tease /is/ acceptable in show (7)

20d   Outlaw // gang pinches gear (7)

21d   Wide bristles collecting // rubbish (6)

23d   Freight // vehicle on move (5)

25d   Pressure on unhealthy /to get/ some medicine (4)

"pressure" = P (show explanation )

In physics, the symbol p[5] is used to represent pressure.

hide explanation
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. One of those rare days where I seemed to be on RayT's wavelength. Filled it all in, but bunged a few and resorted to electronic help on a couple. Still no idea why 14d is "up".

    As for 1a, I was helped by not getting any of the cricket references which, from your commentary, I assume were designed to distract us.

    1. Re: 14d
      The definition is "up" -- meaning apart or in pieces as in "tore it up" which could alternatively be expressed as "tore it asunder".

      Re: 1a
      Yes, cricket is the intended distraction and as you say, when one has no knowledge of cricket, there is no distraction -- which, in my view, spoils the fun of the clue. The true enjoyment of the puzzle is the "Aha" moment when the penny finally drops. That is why I include the "Scratching the Surface" boxes in the review. Although the information in these boxes gives no assistance in solving the clue, it hopefully helps readers appreciate why clues which we might think are mundane and pointless may really be quite clever when read from a British perspective.

  2. PS I see Brian described this puzzle as "a waste of ink". Seems a bit harsh.

    Try this one:

    Lynch no liar til mad US politico appears. (7,7)

    1. Very nice. How about

      MD mixes with adult porn candidate (6,5)

    2. Outstanding! The Donald is political porn, without question.

  3. BTW, here are two of the courses I played in Palm Springs in December:

    Desert Dunes was designed by Robert Trent Jones, Jr and has been a US Open qualifying site and has hosted a Canadian Open tournament over the last few years. Large, elevated, undulating and fast greens. Usually windy conditions.

    Indian Canyons was formerly luxurious private club and a favourite hangout for the Hollywood crowd back in the sixties and seventies. Still immaculately groomed and pure golfing pleasure.