Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Wednesday, March 30, 2016 — DT 27954

Puzzle at a Glance
Puzzle Number in The Daily Telegraph
DT 27954
Publication Date in The Daily Telegraph
Monday, November 9, 2015
Rufus (Roger Squires)
Link to Full Review
Big Dave's Crossword Blog [DT 27954]
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


There is an old saying Be careful what you wish for, lest it come true. In Monday's Bonus Edition of the Blog, I wrote It's been quite a while since we've seen a Rufus puzzle .... Well, lo and behold, here we have one — and one that I found very challenging indeed. In fact, not even my usually highly reliable electronic assistants were able to help me complete the puzzle and I was forced to seek enlightenment from Miffypops' review at Big Dave's Crossword Blog

While I do enjoy solving Rufus' puzzles, I find them difficult to explain — and trying to sort out Miffypops' explanations of them further compounds the challenge.

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   Didn't succeed in crossing the ice? (4,7)

According to Miffypops, this is a double definition — although that is not necessarily the terminology that I would use. I would say that the entire clue is a cryptic definition which has a straight definition (marked with a solid underline) embedded within it. The solution is a figure of speech that means (with respect to plans, for instance) didn't succeed. The entire clue describes what might have happened to someone who attempted to cross thin ice.

9a   Exact money? (9)

10a   To save /s /difficult with nothing coming in (5)

11a   Available // with deferred payment (2,4)

This is a double definition — although Miffypops has not marked it as such.

In hand (in the sense of available) is a [seemingly British] alternative term to on hand.

In hand[5] means ready for use if required; in reserve ⇒ he had £1,000 of borrowed cash in hand.

On hand[5] means readily available ⇒ she kept stocks of delicacies on hand.

In hand[10] also means with deferred payment ⇒ he works a week in hand.

12a   He's smart to order // pets (8)

13a   One's in charge but sometimes has a leader (6)

Leader[10] (also called leading article) is a mainly British term for the leading editorial in a newspaper.

15a   Salad item -- you can add it /in/ haste (8)

18a   Provides soft soap /and/ cloths for the cricket team? (8)

Soft soap[3,4,11] denotes flattering, persuasive, or cajoling talk.

Flannel[10] is an informal British term meaning to to talk evasively to or to flatter in order to mislead.

Cricket whites[10], also known as flannels, is the term used for the kit or uniform worn by most cricketers, and usually consists of trousers, shirt, jumper [pullover] and a jockstrap with cup pocket and "box", or protective cup.

My initial thought was that flannels are clothes for the cricket team — not cloths for the cricket team. However, after a bit of contemplation, I realized that Rufus is doing what he does in 1a and 13a — i.e., providing a cryptic definition consisting of a straight definition "cloths" (which could be flannels or any other fabrics) accompanied by a cryptic allusion "for the cricket team" (whose uniforms are known as flannels).

Scratching the Surface
In the surface reading, I took "cloths" to possibly be referring to facecloths.

19a   He goes to clinic initially, twitching /and/ feverish (6)

I had supposed that "feverish" was merely being used in a figurative sense ⇒ on election night, the studio was a hive of feverish activity.

However, I discover that hectic[5] is an archaic medical term meaning relating to or affected by a regularly recurrent fever typically accompanying tuberculosis, with flushed cheeks and hot, dry skin.

21a   It is backed in race /to be/ beat (8)

Chase[5] is short for steeplechase[5], a horse race run on a racecourse having ditches and hedges as jumps.

Chastise[5] is a dated term meaning to punish, especially by beating ⇒ her mistress chastised her with a whip for blasphemy.

23a   Parliamentary official rising // to arouse the House? (4,2)

A whip[5] is an official of a political party appointed to maintain parliamentary discipline among its members, especially so as to ensure attendance and voting in debates.

House[5] is another term for a theatre a hundred musicians performed in front of a full house.

Whip up means to arouse; the question mark indicates that a theatre (house) is but a typical example of where such action might take place.

26a   Landowner /has/ to ring back about river (5)

In Scotland, a laird[5] is a person who owns a large estate.

27a   /Either/ rise quickly /or/ don't budge (5,4)

Contrary to Miffypops, I see the first part of the clue as a charade rather than a second definition.

28a   Small 'w' on sign? /That's/ novel (6,5)

Little Women[7] is a novel by American author Louisa May Alcott (1832–1888), which was originally published in two volumes in 1868 and 1869. The novel follows the lives of four sisters—Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy March—detailing their passage from childhood to womanhood, and is loosely based on the author and her three sisters.

What did he say?
In his review on Big Dave's Crossword Blog, Miffypops would seem to refer to the novel as The Little House on the Prairie.
Little House on the Prairie[7] is a series of American children's novels written by Laura Ingalls Wilder (1867–1957) based on her childhood in the northern Midwest during the 1870s and 1880s.

Presumably this is an inadvertent mistyping (or auto-correct gone berserk). Little Women is set in the Alcott family home, Orchard House, in Concord, Massachusetts — hardly an area known for its expanses of prairie!


1d   Having broken rib, feel // delirious (7)

2d   Three animals /in/ the lead (5)

Leash[5] is a rare hunting term for a group of three animals such as hounds, hawks, or foxes I saw a leash of foxes killed without a run.

Lead[5] is a British term for a strap or cord for restraining and guiding a dog or other domestic animal ⇒ the dog is our constant walking companion and is always kept on a lead. Despite being characterized as a British term by Oxford Dictionaries, the word lead[3] is found in The American Heritage Dictionary as another name for a leash.

3d   Recorded /as/ having been dismantled (5,4)

4d   Note in the morning // papers (4)

In music — specifically, in tonic sol-fa — re is the second note of a major scale. In Britain, where the more common spelling is ray[5], re[5] is seen as a variant [or even worse, American] spelling.

5d   Lacking weight, // emptied the Chamber (8)

6d   You could make a hash /of/ onomatopoeic sounds of laughter (2-3)

Behind the Picture
A ha-ha[5] is a ditch with a wall on its inner side below ground level, forming a boundary to a park or garden without interrupting the view.

7d   Reserve // enclosure, after a fashion (7)

8d   Brave pirate/'s/ superficial improvement (8)

14d   Very frightened, // I take a short rest before I can set off (2,1,5)

16d   Cosmetic // watch-dog? (9)

17d   Tightly packed // Wimbledon crowd may well enjoy it (5-3)

Split (5,3), the solution is an entertaining event at Wimbledon.

Wimbledon[5] is an annual international tennis championship on grass for individual players and pairs, held at the headquarters of the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club in the London suburb of Wimbledon. Now one of the world’s major tennis championships, it has been played since 1877.

18d   Power /is/ off -- cold inside (7)

20d   Catnaps -- possibly // that provides energy for the sailor (7)

A capstan[10] is a machine with a drum that rotates round a vertical spindle and is turned by a motor or lever, used for hauling in heavy ropes, etc.

22d   Moon-affected, in the main (5)

The main[5] is an archaic or literary term for the open ocean.

24d   New lamps // that will be put into service (5)

A psalm[5] is a sacred song or hymn, in particular any of those contained in the biblical Book of Psalms and used in Christian and Jewish worship.

In his review, Miffypops includes a lovely version of Psalm 23 — apparently transcribed by Yoda.

25d   Follow, /in/ the end (4)
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. Just a bit too tough for me, as well. Stymied by four words in the lower left corner.

    You never tackled my cryptic:

    Disreputable, but not Conservative, we hear (9)

  2. Hi Richard,

    Still thinking about your clue.

    I've been scrambling the last couple of days to even get the blog written. Whenever the National Post skips puzzles (especially when they jump several at a time), it totally plays havoc with my schedule.

  3. Well, I hope you can keep up the great work. I really enjoy your blog and read it every day.

    It's tax season for us beancounters, but so far, the returns have been trickling in a bit slowly. So, still have time for the cryptic.

  4. Could I suggest as the answer to Richard's clue:
    No tori ous



    1. Very good, Gazza

      I am afraid that I was well and truly led down the garden path.

      I thought of LIBERTINE which has the correct number of letters and matches the definition. I was then trying fruitlessly to find some path to get me from LIBERAL to LIBERTINE.

      But would not the clue work better if stated:

      Disreputable, but not Conservative, we heard (9)

      As the clue stands, the "we" appears to be part of both the homophone fodder [NO TORY US (not Conservative, we)] as well as the homophone indicator (we hear). However, "heard" can stand on its own as a homophone indicator which I don't think is the case for "hear".

  5. Well done, Gazza. Agreed, Falcon. In writing clues, I'm like an asian nanny on holiday, as they say.