Thursday, March 3, 2016

Thursday, March 3, 2016 — DT 27928

Puzzle at a Glance
Puzzle Number in The Daily Telegraph
DT 27928
Publication Date in The Daily Telegraph
Friday, October 9, 2015
Giovanni (Don Manley)
Link to Full Review
Big Dave's Crossword Blog [DT 27928]
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


Deep Threat characterizes this puzzle as "quite a tricky offering". I would say that sums it up rather well.

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   Agent, having got round Home Counties, /is/ to be still (6)

The Home Counties[5] are the counties surrounding London in southeast (SE) England, into which London has extended.

Delving Deeper

No exact definition of the term exists and the composition of the Home Counties remains a matter of debate. Oxford Dictionaries restrictively lists them as being chiefly Essex, Kent, Surrey, and Hertfordshire.

On the other hand, Wikipedia tells us that the Home Counties[7] are generally considered to include Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Essex, Hertfordshire, Kent, Surrey and Sussex (although Sussex does not border London).

Other counties more distant from London, such as Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Dorset, Hampshire and Oxfordshire are also sometimes included in the list due to their close proximity to the capital and their connection to the London regional economy.

4a   Instrument // fixed with insertion of peg (6)

Historically, a spinet[5] was a small harpsichord with the strings set obliquely to the keyboard, popular in the 18th century.

8a   Joining in marriage? // Marrying outside church (8)

The question mark denotes that the definition is on the whimsical side.

10a   Stay /in/ control having brought graduate aboard (6)

11a   Sun is one // name for a tabloid (4)

The Star[7], often known as the Sheffield Star, is a daily newspaper published in Sheffield, England. Originally a broadsheet, the newspaper became a tabloid in 1989.

Scratching the Surface
The Sun[7] is a daily tabloid newspaper published in the United Kingdom and Ireland by a division of News UK, a wholly owned subsidiary of Rupert Murdoch's News Corp.

12a   Pretty piece of ground? Could be dragons 'ere (4,6)

For the longest time, I failed to spot the anagram. Consequently, I spent a lot of time and effort fruitlessly trying to figure out why there might be dragons present and what the cockney connection might be. In the process, I did discover the existence of the rather striking Black Dragon Rose.

13a   Cult member to move into // area near London maybe (8,4)

I have opted to identify the anagram indicator as "move into". Should one go with merely "move" as shown by Deep Threat in his review, then "into" would necessarily become a link word.

Commuter belt[5] is a British term for the area surrounding a city from which a large number of people travel to work each day ⇒ the London commuter belt.

16a   After short time get train /as/ an alternative (6,6)

Second string[5] (often in phrase a second string to one's bow) denotes an alternative resource or course of action in case another one fails ⇒ he was principally a batsman and bowling was the second string to his bow.

20a   County fellow /and/ charming son no good unfortunately (10)

"good" = G (show explanation )

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

hide explanation

A Cornishman[5] is a male native or inhabitant of Cornwall[5], a county occupying the extreme southwestern peninsula of England; county town, Truro.

21a   Sort // to do manual work in office? (4)

22a   Father taking part /gives/ word of honour (6)

Historically, parole[5] was a promise or undertaking given by a prisoner of war to return to custody or act as a non-belligerent if released ⇒ (i) I took their paroles of honour; (ii) a good many French officers had been living on parole in Melrose.

23a   Thought // about a boy and what he might be called (8)

24a   Material /providing/ end of bed with a covering (6)

This seems to be the fabric of the month.

25a   Ridges /made of/ wood seen aboard ship (6)

"aboard ship" = 'contained in SS' (show explanation )

In Crosswordland, you will find that a ship is almost invariably a steamship, the abbreviation for which is SS[10]. Thus phrases such as "aboard ship" or "on board ship" (or sometimes merely "on board") are Crosswordland code for 'contained in SS'.

hide explanation


1d   Chemist may study this // response (8)

2d   Hidden among sheep, a certain // sort of horse (5)

Pacer[5] is a chiefly US term [Oxford, as usual, seems to be oblivious to the existence of Canada] for a horse bred or trained to pace, used in some types of racing.

Scratching the Surface
From the entry in Oxford Dictionaries, one might conclude that pacing does not exist in the UK. However, according to Wikipedia, it does.

Oxford Dictionaries defines harness racing[5] as another term for trotting[5], racing for trotting horses pulling a two-wheeled vehicle (a sulky) and driver [which would appear to totally disregard pacing].

Harness racing[7] is a form of horse racing in which the horses race at a specific gait (a trot or a pace). They usually pull a two-wheeled cart called a sulky.

Races can be conducted in two differing gaits – trotting and pacing. The difference is that a trotter moves its legs forward in diagonal pairs (right front and left hind, then left front and right hind striking the ground simultaneously), whereas a pacer moves its legs laterally (right front and right hind together, then left front and left hind). In continental Europe, races are conducted exclusively among trotters, whereas in Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States races are also held for pacers.

Pacing races constitute 80% to 90% of the harness races conducted in North America. Pacing horses are faster and (most important to the bettor) less likely to break stride (a horse which starts to gallop must be slowed down and taken to the outside until it resumes trotting or pacing).

3d   Plant // starts to ruin everything in border (7)

Skirret[5] is an East Asian plant (Sium sisarum) of the parsley family, formerly cultivated in Europe for its edible carrot-like root.

5d   Craft /of/ Greek character, unprincipled person (7)

Pi[5] is the sixteenth letter of the Greek alphabet (Π, π).

A pirogue[5] is a long, narrow canoe made from a single tree trunk, especially in Central America and the Caribbean.

6d   One gets over the line in mathematics (9)

7d   Bolt secured under top of the // stand (6)

9d   Grand sort of scientist // who enjoys visits to restaurants? (11)

Gastronome or gastronomer or gastronomist[10] are less common words for gourmet.

14d   Male is member of a class /that could be/ fool (9)

In Britain, a form[5] is a class or year in a school, usually given a specifying number. Thus the fifth form would be the British linguistic counterpart (although not the academic equivalent) of the fifth grade in North America and Form One would be akin to saying Grade One (show more ).

A form[7] is a class or grouping of students in a school. The term is used predominantly in the United Kingdom, although some schools, mostly private, in other countries also use the title. Pupils are usually grouped in forms according to age and will remain with the same group for a number of years, or sometimes their entire school career.

Forms are normally identified by a number such as "first form" or "sixth form". A form number may be used for two year groups and differentiated by the terms upper and lower. The sixth form is the senior form of a school, and is usually divided into two year groups: the lower sixth and upper sixth. If there is more than one form for each year group they will normally be differentiated by letters, e.g., "upper four B", "lower two Y". Schools do not follow a consistent pattern in naming forms.


15d   People who photograph // fish (8)

The snapper[5] is a marine fish that is typically reddish and is valued as food.

17d   Money report not initially available - // nuts! (7)

18d   Beaming type in the studio // upset students -- the French politician (7)

NUS[5] is the abbreviation for the National Union of Students[7], a confederation of students’ unions in the United Kingdom.

Noted in Passing
The counterpart organization for instructors in the UK is the National Union of Teachers (which goes by the acronym NUT[5]) [much to the delight of their students, I am sure].

"the French" = LA (show explanation )

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

hide explanation

19d   Fellow child being looked after /is/ one lacking courage (6)

21d   Scottish town // not accommodating soldiers after upset (5)

"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

Troon[5] is a town on the west coast of Scotland, in South Ayrshire; population 14,100 (est. 2009). It is noted for its championship golf course.
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. Giovanni always presents a challenge. One of those days when I regretted my dissolute life and consequent loss of brain cells. Needed on-line assistance for a half-dozen clues, but finally limped to a finish.

    Warming up in Ottawa this week, I hear.

    1. Regarding the temperature in Ottawa, it was still quite cold this morning. However, the forecast is for progressively warmer temperatures going forward -- reaching +10 by the middle of next week.