Thursday, March 17, 2016

Thursday, March 17, 2016 — DT 27940

Puzzle at a Glance
Puzzle Number in The Daily Telegraph
DT 27940
Publication Date in The Daily Telegraph
Friday, October 23, 2015
Giovanni (Don Manley)
Link to Full Review
Big Dave's Crossword Blog [DT 27940]
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


Today's puzzle is set by Giovanni which means we should be prepared to encounter either some unfamiliar words or some familiar words with unfamiliar meanings. In several cases, I had the correct solution to a clue long before I had deciphered the wordplay.

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   Mother's scientific workplace set about /making/ ointment (6)

Balsam[5] is an aromatic resinous substance, such as balm, exuded by various trees and shrubs and used as a base for certain fragrances and medical preparations ⇒ (i) a mixture of olive oil and balsam; (ii) a hair conditioner with protein and balsams.

5a   Weeds /creating/ frightful ado in southern county briefly (4,4)

Wilts.[5] is the abbreviation for Wiltshire[5], a county of southern England; county town, Trowbridge.

Wild oat[5] is an Old World grass (Avena fatua) which is related to the cultivated oat and is commonly found as a weed of other cereals.

9a   Time to recover, /but/ not spiritually (10)

10a   This writer's additional note /identifies/ troublemakers (4)

"this writer's" = IM (show explanation )

It is a common cryptic crossword convention for the creator of the puzzle to use terms such as (the or this) compiler, (the or this) 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.

Today, the setter has made the scenario slightly more complicated by combining "this writer" with the verb "to be" producing "this writer's" (a contraction of "writer is") which must be replaced by "I'm" (a contraction of "I am").

hide explanation

11a   Oil fellow's /put into/ seats (8)

As was the case for Deep Threat, this was my last one in. Even after having the correct solution, it took a while to decipher the wordplay. For a while, I debated whether the fellow might be "TOM" — or, in desperation, even "OTTO" — rather than "MAN". Then, from the deepest recesses of my memory, the meaning of "otto" slowly emerged.

Otto[5] is another term for attar[5], a fragrant essential oil, typically made from rose petals ⇒ attar of roses.

12a   Record difficult situation // that brings traffic to a standstill (3,3)

Personally, I would refer to such a situation as a traffic jam rather than a log jam. Moreover, I could find no evidence that the term log jam is used in Britain to refer specifically to a traffic jam, although it seems that the term can be used figuratively (as it is in North America) to describe any deadlock or standstill. In fact, Collins English Dictionary defines log jam[10] (or logjam) as a mainly US and Canadian term for:
  1. blockage caused by the crowding together of a number of logs floating in a river; or
  2. a deadlock; standstill.
13a   Hints about // depth that may be dug in garden (4)

Spit[5] is [a possibly British term for] a layer of earth whose depth is equal to the length of the blade of a spade ⇒ break up the top spit with a fork.

15a   Carer -- she organised // investigation (8)

18a   Battle equipment // used by Richard, war enthusiast (8)

19a   Additional supply /for/ one who conjured up Utopia (4)

Sir Thomas More[5] (1478–1535) was an English scholar and statesman, Lord Chancellor 1529–32; canonized as St Thomas More. His Utopia (1516), describing an ideal city state, established him as a leading humanist of the Renaissance. He was imprisoned in 1534 after opposing the marriage of Henry VIII to Anne Boleyn, and beheaded for opposing the Act of Supremacy.

21a   No seat when turned over is found to conceal a // gun? (6)

23a   Amount of difference /when/ prisoner is given fresh start (8)

25a   Maybe one's climbed // a little height, getting unwell ... (4)

26a   ... which is what Bill would become if this, // lacking guidance (10)

Taking into consideration the ellipses, the wordplay is to be read as "(unwell) is what Bill would become if this" where "this" refers to the solution to the present clue.

27a   Send /from/ some French district (8)

In French, des[8] is a determiner[5] meaning 'some'.

Patch[5] is an informal British term for an area for which someone is responsible or in which they operate ⇒ we didn’t want any secret organizations on our patch.

Despatch[5] is a less common spelling of dispatch.

28a   This person's reversing in street that is /creating/ obstructive situation (6)


2d   Designated person // clearly not an uncouth fellow (5)

3d   Soldiers with time short drank outside, /being/ held up (9)

"soldiers" = OR (show explanation )

In the British armed forces, the term other ranks[5] (abbreviation OR[5]) refers to all those who are not commissioned officers.

hide explanation

Sup[5] is a dated or Northern English term meaning to take (drink or liquid food) by sips or spoonfuls ⇒ (i) she supped up her soup delightedly; (ii) he was supping straight from the bottle.

4d   Singer Ethel, // a fabulous creature (6)

Ethel Merman[5] (1908–1984) was a US singer and actress; born Ethel Zimmerman. The “queen of Broadway” for three decades, she performed in many plays and musicals, including Annie Get Your Gun (1946), Call Me Madam (1950), Gypsy (1959), and Hello, Dolly! (1970).

A merman[5] is the male equivalent of a mermaid.

5d   Let arch-wastrels loose -- /you'll create/ a huge financial crisis (4,6,5)

6d   See unknown character of celebrity status // who gives unstinting support (8)

"see" = LO (show explanation )

Lo[5] is an archaic exclamation used to draw attention to an interesting or amazing event and lo, the star, which they saw in the east, went before them.

hide explanation

"unknown" = Y (show explanation )

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.]

hide explanation

The A-list[5] (or B-list) denotes a real or imaginary list of the most (or second most) celebrated or sought-after individuals, especially in show business ⇒ [as modifier] an A-list celebrity.

7d   Outstanding // rugby player portrayed with halo (5)

(Click to enlarge)
The positions on a rugby team[7] are divided into forwards and backs. There are four three quarter positions (situated between the half-backs and the fullback) — two of these being the left wing and right wing (see diagram).

8d   One hoofs around -- // and carpet may be ruined (3,6)

14d   One would get puffed after a violent struggle (5,4)

16d   Notice a lieutenant in muddy // office of navy bigwig (9)

In the UK, the Admiralty[5] was the government department that formerly administered the Royal Navy, now incorporated in the Ministry of Defence and current only in titles.

17d   Iron glove /in/ a form of punishment (8)

Historically, a gauntlet[5] was an armoured glove.

Historically, to run the gauntlet[5] was to undergo the military punishment of receiving blows while running between two rows of men with sticks.

20d   Gets cross /in/ French city (6)

Angers[5] is a town in western France, capital of the former province of Anjou; population 156,965 (2006).

22d   Growth /allows/ old-style educational institution to gain power (5)

"power" = P (show explanation )

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

hide explanation

Poly[5] is a historical British term for a polytechnic[5], an institution of higher education offering courses at degree level or below, especially in vocational subjects.

In Britain the term polytechnic has largely dropped out of use. In 1989 British polytechnics gained autonomy from local education authorities and in 1992 were able to call themselves universities.

24d   Foreign food /has/ upset us -- deficient bit of beef (5)

Shin[3,4] is a chiefly British term [although known to at least one American dictionary] for a cut of meat from the lower foreleg of beef cattle.

Sushi[5] is a Japanese dish consisting of small balls or rolls of vinegar-flavoured cold rice served with a garnish of vegetables, egg, or raw seafood.
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)
Happy St. Patrick's Day — Falcon

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