Thursday, May 12, 2016

Thursday, May 12, 2016 — DT 27999

Puzzle at a Glance
Puzzle Number in The Daily Telegraph
DT 27999
Publication Date in The Daily Telegraph
Friday, January 1, 2016
Giovanni (Don Manley)
Link to Full Review
Big Dave's Crossword Blog [DT 27999]
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


Happy New Year! Well, it was New Year's Day when this puzzle appeared in the UK. The puzzle does seem to be a bit more challenging than some that we have seen recently. Although I solved the puzzle without outside help, I did have to look up several terms to see what they mean — or to confirm whether they even exist.

By the way, did anyone happen to look at the Jetpack annual report for Big Dave's Crossword Blog which Big Dave posted on his site in the Comments section of the review of the puzzle which appeared yesterday in the National Post? The report shows that his blog was viewed about 5,800,000 times in 2015. While the report presents a wide range of statistics, what I find most surprising (and, I must say, very gratifying) is that the post which received the most comments in 2015 was the review of DT 27909 on September 17 — a RayT puzzle reviewed by yours truly (and duly noted by Jane in a response to Comment #2)!

How does this blog stack up against Big Dave's? I don't have figures for last year but in the six years that the blog has been in existence it has received over 800,000 pageviews including nearly 12,000 pageviews in the last month. So it would appear that this blog may be generating 2%-3% of the traffic volume that Big Dave gets.

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   A bit of fatty food, // say, in B&B, given to everyone (10)

A butterball[1] is a single portion of butter rolled into a ball.

6a   This person backed Irish // ruler (4)

"this person" = ME (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 substitute a first person pronoun (I or me) for whichever of these terms has been used in the clue.

hide explanation

Emir[5] (also amir) is a title of various Muslim (mainly Arab) rulers ⇒ HRH the Emir of Kuwait.

10a   Revolutionary house name /in/ French city (5)

Nîmes[5] is a city in southern France; population 147,114 (2006). It is noted for its many well-preserved Roman remains.

11a   Sunday's // social event -- small, with calories cut down (9)

Dominical[5] is an adjective meaning of Sunday as the Lord’s day.

12a   Maybe Bangor's act /is in/ decline (8)

Bangor is a large town in County Down, Northern Ireland. It is a seaside resort on the southern side of Belfast Lough and within the Belfast Metropolitan Area.

Turn[5] can mean either:
  1. a short performance, especially one of a number given by different performers in succession ⇒ (i) Lewis gave her best ever comic turn; (ii) he was asked to do a turn at a children’s party; or
  2. a performer giving a short performance ⇒ Malton’s comedy turn, Mark Poole, takes to the stage tonight in Cinderella.
Similarly, an act could be either a performance or a performer. Thus, in either sense, "Bangor's act" (an act from Bangor) might be described as a "Down turn".

13a   Give everything needed /to/ English queen, one with limited power (5)

Alternative parsing:
  • 13a   Give everything needed to // English queen, one with limited power (5)
I struggled here to determine the extent of the definition. Is it "give everything needed" as Deep Threat has shown in his review or is it "give everything needed to". There is no doubt that the former interpretation works but the latter may also work ⇒ We will equip [give everything needed to] the expeditionary group for its two-month trek across the Sahara.

Should we opt for the latter interpretation, there is no link word in the clue. However, if we choose the former interpretation then to[10] becomes a link word — in this case, a preposition used to indicate equality ⇒ 16 ounces to the pound.

"queen" = QU (show explanation )

Qu.[2] is one of several abbreviations for Queen. Others are Q and R.

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

Regina[5] (abbreviation R[5]) [Latin for queen] denotes the reigning queen, used following a name (e.g. Elizabetha Regina, Queen Elizabeth) or in the titles of lawsuits (e.g. Regina v. Jones, the Crown versus Jones — often shortened to R. v. Jones).

Thus Queen Elizabeth signs her name as 'Elizabeth R' as seen here on Canada's paint-stained constitution.

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"power" = P (show explanation )

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

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15a   Bird // seed by pile of hay (7)

Cock[5] is a dated term for a small pile of hay, straw, or other material, with vertical sides and a rounded top ⇒ we perched on a half-built cock of hay.

17a   Sixties teenager in dance /showing/ style again (7)

Mod[5] is a British term for a young person, especially in the early 1960s, of a subculture characterized by a smart stylish appearance, the riding of motor scooters, and a liking for soul music.

19a   Tense, // with higher notes having to be sung? (5-2)

Split (5,2), the solution (as Deep Threat says in his review) "could also describe a piece of music being performed at a higher pitch".

21a   Spooner's worry, notice, /is/ no longer confined (3,4)

The Rev. W. A. Spooner has bequeathed to us this slip of the tongue. (show explanation )

A spoonerism[5] is a verbal error in which a speaker accidentally transposes the initial sounds or letters of two or more words, often to humorous effect, as in the sentence you have hissed the mystery lectures. It is named after the Reverend W. A. Spooner (1844–1930), an English scholar who reputedly made such errors in speaking.

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22a   In the morning soldiers knocked over // character in Athens (5)

"soldier" = GI (show explanation )

A GI[5] is a private soldier in the US army ⇒ she went off with a GI during the war.

Contrary to popular belief, the term apparently is not an abbreviation for general infantryman, but rather derives from the term government (or general) issue (originally denoting equipment supplied to US forces).

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Sigma[5] is the eighteenth letter of the Greek alphabet (Σ, σ).

24a   Care is arranged, old boy being kept inside /for/ exercises (8)

"old boy" = OB (show explanation )

In Britain, an old boy[5] (abbreviation OB[2])  is:
  1. a former male student of a school or college ⇒an old boy of Banbury County School; or
  2. a former male member of a sports team or company ⇒ the White Hart Lane old boy squared the ball to present an easy chance from 12 yards.
It is also a chiefly British affectionate form of address to a boy or man ⇒ ‘Look here, old boy,’ he said.

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27a   At some stage // a yellowish-brown bird will nibble worm's head (2,3,4)

28a   City // weeps when leader is lost (5)

Leeds[5] is an industrial city in West Yorkshire, northern England; population 441,100 (est. 2009). It developed as a wool town in the Middle Ages, becoming a centre of the clothing trade in the Industrial Revolution.

29a   Lengths of cloth // to dispose of, first to last (4)

The ell[5] is a former measure of length (equivalent to six hand breadths) used mainly for textiles, locally variable but typically about 45 inches in England and 37 inches in Scotland. [I bet the parsimonious Scottish textile merchants purposely hired clerks with small hands!]

Delving Deeper
Surely, six hand breadths cannot equal 45 inches (or even 37 inches). Those would be incredibly large hands.

According to Wikipedia, what came to be known as an ell may actually have derived from a "double ell" which would make the ell equal to twelve hand breadths which is far more reasonable.

In fact, Oxford Dictionaries is the only source that I found which claims that the ell derives from the breadth of the human hand. Other sources attribute the measure to the length of the forearm from elbow to fingertip.

An ell[7] is a unit of measurement, originally a cubit, i.e., approximating the length of a man's arm from the elbow ("elbow" means the bend or bow of the ell or arm) to the tip of the middle finger, or about 18 inches (457 mm); in later usage, any of several longer units. In English-speaking countries, these included (until the 19th century) the Flemish ell (34 of a yard), English ell (54 yard) and French ell (64 yard), some of which are thought to derive from a "double ell".

Several national forms existed, with different lengths, including the Scottish ell (≈37 inches or 94 centimetres), the Flemish ell [el] (≈27 in or 68.6 cm), the French ell [aune] (≈54 in or 137.2 cm) the Polish ell (≈31 in or 78.7 cm), the Danish ell (≈25 in or 63.5 cm), the Swedish aln (2 Swedish fot ≈59 cm) and the German ell [elle] (Hamburg, Frankfurt, Cologne, Leipzig: 57,9 cm).

30a   Fruit from old garden /creating/ lump in the throat (5,5)


1d   Hairstyle /that is/ a hit (4)

Bang[2] (usually bangs) is a North American, especially US (according to Chambers 21st Century Dictionary), term for hair cut in a straight line across the forehead. The British term for this hairstyle is fringe.

2d   Portray me being silly -- // here today, gone tomorrow (9)

3d   German city // being without Anglican church (5)

Essen[5] is an industrial city in the Ruhr valley, in northwestern Germany; population 583,200 (est. 2006).

"Anglican church" = CE (show explanation )

The adjective Anglican[5] means relating to or denoting the Church of England or any Church in communion with it. The term comes from the Latin phrase Anglicana ecclesia 'the English church' in the Magna Carta.

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.

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4d   Hard cheese // naughty lad fed to male rabbit? (3,4)

Hard cheese[5] is an informal British term used to express sympathy over a petty matter ⇒ jolly hard cheese, better luck next time!.

5d   Blow with awful rain // as sheet upon sheet (7)

7d   Three leading characters from Cambridge set up a university // somewhere in China (5)

Macau[5] is the Portuguese name for Macao[5], a former Portuguese dependency on the southeastern coast of China, on the west side of the Pearl River estuary opposite Hong Kong; population 433,700 (est. 2006); official languages, Portuguese and Cantonese; capital, Macao City.

Scratching the Surface
Cambridge University[5] is a university at Cambridge in England, founded in 1230. The university comprises a federation of thirty-one colleges.

8d   Puddings /making one/ poorly somehow? Stories! (4-6)

Roly-poly[5] (also roly-poly pudding) is a British term for a pudding made of a sheet of suet pastry covered with jam or fruit, formed into a roll, and steamed or baked ⇒ a nice bit of jam roly-poly.

Behind the Video
Deep Threat illustrates his review with a clip of the Roly Polys, a British dance troupe consisting entirely of overweight middle-aged women who would perform the most amusing dances which, if they had been young and slim, would not have been at all funny.

During the troupe's 21 year existence (1982 to 2003), they are reported to have "performed in 5 royal command shows, personally [been] invited to perform in a show in Monaco for Prince Rainier, in the audience were Frank Sinatra and Charlton Heston to name but a few. They were featured many times in the Les Dawson show and topped the bill in many variety shows."

9d   In school period it /amounts to/ pause (8)

Intermit[5] is a verb meaning:
  1. to suspend or discontinue (an action or practice) for a time ⇒ he was urged to intermit his application; or
  2. (especially of a fever or pulse) to stop for a time.
14d   Tool // said to have succeeded getting in (10)

A spokeshave[5] is a small plane with a handle on each side of its blade, used for shaping curved surfaces (originally wheel spokes).

The abbreviation s[5] stands for succeeded, in the sense of to have taken over a throne, office, or other position from ⇒ he succeeded Hawke as Prime Minister. It might be seen, for instance, it charts of royal lineages.

The wordplay parses as {SPOKE (said) + (to) HAVE (from the clue)} containing (getting in) S (succeeded; abbrev.)

As a charade indicator, the word "to" is used in the sense of "pressed against"—as in expressions such as "shoulder to the wheel" or "nose to the grindstone".

16d   Experienced folk -- // arthritic strugglers when pen has to be put to paper? (3,5)

I've marked the second part of the clue with a dotted underline as its sort of a definition.

18d   Hat priced ridiculously, // attractive to potential buyer? (4,5)

20d   Like many an egg // taken illegally (7)

21d   Tot crossing river in a // South American country (7)

Surinam is an alternate spelling of Suriname[5], a country on the northeastern coast of South America; population 481,300 (est. 2009); languages, Dutch (official), Creoles, Hindi; capital, Paramaribo. Former name (until 1948) Dutch Guiana.

Colonized by the Dutch and the English from the 17th century, Suriname became fully independent in 1975. The population is descended largely from African slaves and Asian workers brought in to work on sugar plantations; there is also a small American Indian population.

23d   Good alternative to roads /is/ what some look for (5)

A grail[5] (usually holy grail) is a a thing which is eagerly pursued or sought after ⇒ the enterprise society where profit at any cost has become the holy grail.

In medieval legend, the Grail[5] (or the Holy Grail) denotes the cup or platter used by Christ at the Last Supper, and in which Joseph of Arimathea received Christ’s blood at the Cross. Quests for it undertaken by medieval knights are described in versions of the Arthurian legends written from the early 13th century onward.

Behind the Video
Monty Python and the Holy Grail[7] is a 1975 British surreal comedy film concerning the Arthurian legend, written and performed by the comedy group of Monty Python.

25d   A thin flat piece turned over /in/ wood (5)

I did a bit of a double take here. I thought, surely, a slab is thick rather than thin. And every dictionary supported me until I came to The Chambers Dictionary which defines slab[1] as a thin flat piece of stone, etc. However, it would seem that the modern generation of editors at Chambers have come round to the conventional way of thinking as Chambers 21st Century Dictionary defines slab[2] as a thick flat rectangular piece of stone, etc.

Balsa[5] (also balsa wood) is a very lightweight timber used chiefly for making models and rafts.

26d   Fair one is in shipping bulletin // I will broadcast (4)

Fair Isle[5] is a shipping forecast area in the northeastern Atlantic off the north coast of Scotland, including Orkney and Shetland.

Fair Isle[5] is also one of the Shetland Islands, lying about halfway between Orkney and the main Shetland group.
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 comment:

  1. At least 3 star difficulty for this Canucklehead, given the many obscure words and British references. Thanks, as always, for the explanations and assorted trivia.

    Your blog is apparently much more visited than the number of comments would suggest. Lots of lurkers out there.