Thursday, June 2, 2016

Thursday, June 2, 2016 — DT 28023

Puzzle at a Glance
Puzzle Number in The Daily Telegraph
DT 28023
Publication Date in The Daily Telegraph
Friday, January 29, 2016
Giovanni (Don Manley)
Link to Full Review
Big Dave's Crossword Blog [DT 28023]
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


In his review on Big Dave's Crossword Blog, Deep Threat informs us that us that he "found today’s Giovanni pangram quite difficult, with the last couple of four-letter answers pushing [his] time well towards the top of [his] *** difficulty range." In my case, the difficulty was pushed well beyond the *** range and my electronic assistants got their most strenuous workout in ages.

And to top matters off — I failed to notice that the puzzle is a pangram! (show explanation )

A pangram is a crossword puzzle in which every letter of the alphabet appears at least once in the solutions to the clues.

hide explanation

You will see many comments on Big Dave's Crossword Blog today referring to the seventh anniversary of the establishment of that blog. In fact, many readers from the UK — and even further abroad — were to gather in London on the day following the publication of this puzzle to celebrate the occasion. This reminds me that the seventh anniversary of the National Post Cryptic Crossword Forum slipped by unnoticed a month ago on May 2.

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   Collapsed, // having lost spark in performance (8)

5a   Little son worries -- // sudden attacks of fear (6)

The phrase "little son" signifies 'abbreviation for son'.

9a   Way-out assessment at election time (4,4)

10a   Base // character in Shakespeare play (6)

Nick Bottom[7] is a character in Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream who provides comic relief throughout the play. He is famously known for getting his head transformed into that of a donkey by the elusive Puck.

12a   One dying in his ship/'s/ hold (6)

Horatio Nelson[5], Viscount Nelson, Duke of Bronte (1758–1805) was a British admiral. Nelson became a national hero as a result of his victories at sea in the Napoleonic Wars, especially the Battle of Trafalgar, in which he was mortally wounded [and died aboard his ship].

A nelson[5] is a wrestling hold in which one arm is passed under the opponent’s arm from behind and the hand is applied to the neck (half nelson), or both arms and hands are applied (full nelson).

13a   Plant // coming from Cuba is so unusual (8)

The scabious[5] is any of several species of plant of the teasel family, with pink, white, or (most commonly) blue pincushion-shaped flowers.

15a   Five children in the Home Counties /getting/ glittery little bits (7)

Quin[5] is an informal British short form for quintuplet.

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

"Five children from the Home Counties" would therefore be 'SE quins'.

16a   Leader falling off step -- // one on the floor? (4)

20a   Man desperate for food /taking/ some of the sausages (4)

In the Bible, Esau[10] is a son of Isaac and Rebecca and the firstborn twin brother of Jacob, to whom he sold his birthright (Genesis 25).

Esau returned — famished from the fields — to his twin brother Jacob whom he begs to give him some "red pottage*" (a play on his nickname, Edom, meaning "red"). Jacob offers Esau a bowl of lentil stew in exchange for Esau's birthright (the right to be recognized as firstborn son with authority over the family), and Esau agrees. Thus Jacob bought/exchanged Esau's birthright. This is believed to be the origin of the English phrase "for a mess of pottage".
* archaic term for soup or stew.
21a   Chemical /in/ an hotel getting sprayed (7)

I would say "a hotel" but I presume to a Cockney it would be "an hotel" (pronounced "an 'otel").

25a   Fellow finally achieved an eminence /as/ issuer of orders (8)

Eminence[5] is a formal or literary term denoting a piece of rising ground ⇒ an eminence commanding the River Emme.

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.

Thus "an eminence" would be "a tor".

Mandator[5] is a legal term for a person who gives a mandate.

26a   Fervent enthusiast /gets/ to laze around (6)

28a   Shrew in need of taming interrupted by a king /in/ unarmed combat (6)

"king" = R (show explanation )

Rex[5] (abbreviation R[5]) [Latin for king] denotes the reigning king, used following a name (e.g. Georgius Rex, King George) or in the titles of lawsuits (e.g. Rex v. Jones, the Crown versus Jones — often shortened to R. v. Jones).

hide explanation

Katherina (Kate) Minola[7] is a fictional character who is the "shrew" referred to in the title of William Shakespeare's play The Taming of the Shrew.

29a   Inveterate /and/ bluff king keeps somewhat unfriendly at first (8)

The clue is an allusion to a nickname for King Henry VIII of England whose love life is documented in a poem that begins:
Bluff King Hal was full of beans
He married half a dozen queens
For three called Kate they cried the banns
And one called Jane, and a couple of Annes.
30a   Hesitation about stage act // coming back (6)

Here "coming" is a gerund acting as a noun.

A turn[5] is 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.

31a   Raise // bird for laying eggs with number inside (8)


1d   Governess // expected to get girl set up (6)

A duenna[5] is an older woman acting as a governess and companion in charge of girls, especially in a Spanish family; a chaperone.

2d   Quite // an insect that seems to have breathed! (6)

The phrase "seems to have breathed" could be replaced by "has taken in air".

3d   A very quiet ramble daughter // agreed to (8)

Pianissimo[5,10] (abbreviation pp[5,10]) is a direction used in music to mean either (as an adjective) very soft or very quiet or (as an adverb) very softly or very quietly.

4d   Jazz singer /offers/ uplifting 'Alleluia', not half! (4)

Ella Fitzgerald[5] (1917–1996) was an American jazz singer, known for her distinctive style of scat singing.

6d   Singer from Merseyside area (6)

Crosby[7] is a town in the Metropolitan Borough of Sefton, in Merseyside, England. Historically in Lancashire, it is situated north of Bootle, south of Southport and Formby and west of Netherton — as if one knew where any of those places is found. Its north of Liverpool.

Bing Crosby[5] (1903–1977) was an American singer and actor; born Harry Lillis Crosby. His songs include ‘White Christmas’ (from the film Holiday Inn, 1942). He also starred in a series of films (1940–62) with Bob Hope (1903–2003) and Dorothy Lamour (1914–1996).

7d   Characters in riot fret about // something modern being introduced (8)

8d   Academic course // seems terrible? Cut period of learning! (8)

11d   Look at contrary boy /creating/ shame (7)

14d   Fair had success after being set up // very recently (4,3)

17d   Ward nurse perhaps /bringing/ glass, interrupted by doctor turning up (8)

Beaker[5] is a British term for a tall drinking container, typically made of plastic, with straight sides and no handle.

Off on a Tangent
A tumbler[5] is a drinking glass with straight sides and no handle or stem — formerly having a rounded bottom so as not to stand upright.

In Britain, the degree required to practice medicine is a Bachelor of Medicine[7] (MB, from Latin Medicinae Baccalaureus), which is equivalent to a North American Doctor of Medicine (MD, from Latin Medicinae Doctor). The degree of Doctor of Medicine also exists in Britain, but it is an advanced degree pursued by those who wish to go into medical research. Physicians in Britain are still addressed as Dr. despite not having a doctoral degree.

18d   Knight /or/ a pair of knights in French headgear? (8)

"knight" = N (show explanation )

A knight[5] is a chess piece, typically with its top shaped like a horse’s head, that moves by jumping to the opposite corner of a rectangle two squares by three. Each player starts the game with two knights.

N[5] is the abbreviation for knight used in recording moves in chess [representing the pronunciation of kn-, since the initial letter k- represents 'king'].

As an aside, it is interesting to note that the Chambers 21st Century Dictionary defines: 
  • K[2] as an abbreviation used in chess for knight. 
  • K[2] is a symbol used in chess to represent a king. 
  • N[2] is a symbol used in chess to represent a knight.
The dictionary fails to specify how one differentiates an abbreviation from a symbol.

On the other hand, both The Chambers Dictionary and the Random House Kernerman Webster's College Dictionary list K or K.[1,11] as an abbreviation for knight without specifying the specific context in which this abbreviation is used. However, the context may well be in an honours list rather than in a game of chess. In the UK, for instance, KBE[5] stands for Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire.

hide explanation

Banneret[5] is a historical term for:
  1. a knight who commanded his own troops in battle under his own banner; or
  2. a knighthood given on the battlefield for courage.
19d   Get in row, stupidly // looking down on others? (8)

22d   Loud performer // that has to be taken into account (6)

"loud" = F (show explanation )

Forte[5] (abbreviation f[5]) is a musical direction meaning (as an adjective) loud or (as an adverb) loudly.

hide explanation

23d   Female learner and relation /in/ parade (6)

"learner" = L (show explanation )

The cryptic crossword convention of L meaning learner or student arises from the L-plate[7], a square plate bearing a sans-serif letter L, for learner, which must be affixed to the front and back of a vehicle in various jurisdictions (including the UK) if its driver is a learner under instruction.

hide explanation

24d   Garment on middle of bench // pinched (6)

27d   Feature on map indicated by blue /or/ red pigment (4)

Lake[5] is a red dye obtained by combining a metallic compound with cochineal [a crimson substance used for colouring food and for dyeing obtained from the crushed bodies of a Mexican homopterous insect, Dactylopius coccus, that feeds on cacti].
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. Definitely a bit of a struggle. Needed a crossword solver and dictionary for a couple of the more obscure answers. On the plus side, we always learn something new from Giovanni.

    1. ... at least I am introduced to new words. Whether I learn them (i.e., able to remember them the next time that they arise) is another matter. Sort of like meeting someone new. I often need to be introduced to them two or three times before I remember their name.