Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Wednesday, March 9, 2016 — DT 27933

Puzzle at a Glance
Puzzle Number in The Daily Telegraph
DT 27933
Publication Date in The Daily Telegraph
Thursday, October 15, 2015
RayT (Ray Terrell)
Link to Full Review
Big Dave's Crossword Blog [DT 27933]
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 managed to get hung up in the northeast quadrant today and had to call out the electronic reinforcements to help subdue that zone.

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   Produce // uniform piece of low-down compost boxes (11)

Uniform[5] is a code word representing the letter U, used in radio communication.

10a   Amateur Queen // cover (5)

"Queen" = ER (show explanation )

The regnal ciphers (monograms) of British monarchs are initials formed from the Latin version of their first name followed by either Rex or Regina (Latin for king or queen, respectively). Thus, the regnal cipher of Queen Elizabeth is ER[5] — from the Latin Elizabetha Regina.

hide explanation

11a   Massive // star, practically perfect, embracing 'Posh' (9)

"posh" = 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

Scratching the Surface
The surface reading could possibly be an allusion to Victoria Beckham[7] (née Adams), an English singer who became known as Posh Spice as a member of the all-female British pop group Spice Girls in the 1990s

12a   'Best friend' catching a cut branch // to chew (9)

In Britain, mate[5] is:
  1. an informal term for a friend or companion ⇒ my best mate Steve; or
  2. a friendly form of address between men or boys ⇒ ‘See you then, mate.’.
13a   Too much one would set back // as before (5)

Before calling in the electronic reinforcements, I spent a good deal of time and effort in a fruitless attempt to justify RETRO.

OTT[5] (short for over the top) is an informal British expression denoting excessive or exaggerated ⇒ presenting him as a goalscoring Superman seems a bit OTT.

14a   Sweet // spot for drive outside below par (6)

Off[5] is an informal British term meaning unwell ⇒ I felt decidedly off.

Sweet[5] is a British term for a small shaped piece of confectionery made with sugar ⇒ a bag of sweets. In North American parlance, sweets would be candy[5] and a sweet would be a piece of candy.

16a   They ogle taking in finale of 'Buck // Naked' (8)

Starkers[3] is chiefly British slang for stark-naked.

Scratching the Surface
The surface reading is likely meaningless. However, I did turn up a couple of extremely remote possibilities to explain it.

Buck Naked[7] is the name of the first indie demo tape released by the Canadian alternative rock band Barenaked Ladies.

Buck Naked and the Bare Bottom Boys[7] were an American rockabilly band from San Francisco, California. Lead singer Phillip Bury (better known under his stage name "Buck Naked") performed wearing only cowboy boots, a cowboy hat, a guitar, and a strategically placed toilet plunger.

18a   Game /of/ golf, par broken round course's last (8)

20a   Declared /to be/ satisfied about Tories' leader (6)

23a   Girder's ends enclosed by small // beams (5)

24a   Daily function, exterminator to be shown empty // property (9)

Daily[5] (also daily help) is a dated British term for a woman who is employed to clean someone else’s house each day.

26a   Joined keeping unit /and/ served in the army (9)

27a   Sailor's capsizing holding head of pilot // fish (5)

The sprat[3,4]is a small marine food fish, Clupea sprattus, of the northeast Atlantic Ocean and North Sea that is eaten fresh or smoked and is often canned in oil as a sardine; also called brisling.

28a   Criminal raid -- need top // plunder (11)


2d   Some Embassy baggage returned /in/ Gulf (5)

3d   Lift // United with adulation (7)

"united" = U (show explanation )

In the names of sports clubs, U[5] is the abbreviation for United[5] — in Britain, a word commonly used in the names of soccer and other sports teams formed by amalgamation ⇒ Man U [Manchester United].

hide explanation

4d   Hermitage // Museum's opening supporting a quiet artist (6)

"artist" = RA (show explanation )

A Royal Academician (abbreviation RA[5]) is a member of the Royal Academy of Arts[5] (also Royal Academy; abbreviation also RA[5]), an institution established in London in 1768, whose purpose is to cultivate painting, sculpture, and architecture in Britain. 

hide explanation

An ashram[5] (especially in South Asia) is a hermitage, monastic community, or other place of religious retreat.

Scratching the Surface
The Hermitage[5] is a major art museum in St Petersburg, Russia, containing among its collections those begun by Catherine the Great. [Named with reference to the ‘retreat’ in which the empress displayed her treasures to her friends]

5d   They pour /from/ mountain fissures (8)

A tor[7] is a large, free-standing rock outcrop that rises abruptly from the surrounding smooth and gentle slopes of a rounded hill summit or ridge crest. In the South West of England, the term is commonly also used for the hills themselves – particularly the high points of Dartmoor in Devon and Bodmin Moor in Cornwall.

6d   More chubby, // almost game? (7)

Rounders[5,7] is a ball game between two teams that has been played in England since Tudor times.

Delving Deeper
The game of rounders involves hitting a small, hard, leather-cased ball with a cylindrical bat. Gameplay centres on a number of innings, in which teams alternate at batting and fielding. A maximum of nine players are allowed to field at any time. Points (known as 'rounders') are scored by the batting team when one of their players completes a circuit past four bases arranged in the shape of a diamond without being put 'out'. The game is popular among Irish and British school children. [Sound at all familiar?]

The earliest reference to the game of rounders[7]was  in 1744 in A Little Pretty Pocket-Book where it was called "base-ball" by John Newbery. In 1828, William Clarke in London published the second edition of The Boy's Own Book, which included the rules of rounders and which contained the first printed description in English of a bat and ball base-running game played on a diamond. The following year, the book was published in Boston, Massachusetts.

Rounders is played under slightly different rules in Britain and Ireland.

Both the 'New York game' [from which modern baseball evolved] and the now-defunct 'Massachusetts game' versions of baseball, as well as softball, share the same historical roots as rounders and bear a resemblance to the Irish version of the game.

7d   Global warming expert/'s/ got coal limits resolved (13)

8d   Feeling // conveyed that is not heartless (8)

9d   One cared and isn't, I fancy, // selfish (13)

15d   Changing belief around when // possible (8)

17d   More angry about Church beginning to roast // witch (8)

"Church" = CE (show explanation )

The Church of England[10] (abbreviation CE[10]) is the reformed established state Church in England, Catholic in order and basic doctrine, with the Sovereign as its temporal head.

hide explanation

19d   With oddly free site, the compiler's // happy (7)

"compiler's" = IVE (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 "compiler" with the verb "to have" producing "compiler's" (a contraction of "compiler has") which must be replaced by "I've" (a contraction of "I have").

hide explanation

21d   Journey/'s/ special feature covering polar extremes (7)

22d   Open // container's finished (6)

25d   Part of chest or solid // trunk (5)
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

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