Thursday, November 24, 2016

Thursday, November 24, 2016 — DT 28196

Puzzle at a Glance
Puzzle Number in The Daily Telegraph
DT 28196
Publication Date in The Daily Telegraph
Thursday, August 18, 2016
RayT (Ray Terrell)
Link to Full Review
Big Dave's Crossword Blog [DT 28196]
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


The puzzle in today's National Post happens to one that I reviewed on Big Dave's Crossword Blog when it was first published in The Daily Telegraph in the UK. Coincidentally, I am also responsible for the review on Big Dave's site for the puzzle that appeared today in Britain. Therefore, after a late night working on my review of that puzzle, it was a pleasant surprise to discover that this puzzle is one that I had seen before and, furthermore, that I not only recognized it quickly but could remember most of the wordplay. 

We do need to do a bit of stretching in today's workout.

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   Smouldering leaves catching // fire (5)

Ingle[5,10] is an archaic or dialect term (originally Scots) for a domestic fire or fireplace.

4a   Attire dishevelled by supporter upset // referee (9)

9a   Behaviour // of French, more disagreeable reportedly (9)

"of French" = DE (show explanation )

In French, de[8] is a preposition meaning 'of'' or 'from'.

hide explanation 

10a   Aquatic creature/'s/ fiercer blowing top (5)

11a   Rubbish // bin's first put in car port (7)

As our first stretch, we must accept that a car port is the same thing as a garage.

Some British dictionaries would have us believe that rubbish[5] and bin[5] are British terms and that garbage[2,5] is a North American term. However, the former two terms are certainly not unknown in Canada and I suspect that the latter term is not as exclusive to North America as the dictionary editors might suppose.

12a   Sun possibly // turning a bit old (7)

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 Australian-born American publisher and media entrepreneur Rupert Murdoch's News Corp.

13a   Tech company techie's opening // small program (6)

Apple Inc.[7] is an American multinational technology company headquartered in Cupertino, California, that designs, develops, and sells consumer electronics, computer software, online services, and personal computers.

Applet[5] is a computing term for a very small application, especially a utility program performing one or a few simple functions ⇒ there's a useful control applet which can be used to centre the picture.

15a   Craves // food after detailed written description (8)

The setter uses "detailed" in a whimsical cryptic crossword sense meaning having the tail removed — based on an analogy with words such as deflowered or defrocked.

Crave[5,10] is used in an archaic sense meaning to ask for, beg or plead for ⇒ I must crave your indulgence.

18a   Tit's head emerged from egg // covered in straw (8)

The tits, chickadees, and titmice[7] constitute the Paridae, a large family of small passerine birds which occur in the northern hemisphere and Africa. These birds are called either "chickadees" or "titmice" in North America, and just "tits" in the rest of the English-speaking world.

20a   Fine performer /creating/ part (6)

"fine" = F (show explanation )

F[5] is an abbreviation for fine, as used in describing grades of pencil lead [a usage that Oxford Dictionaries surprisingly characterizes as British].

hide explanation

23a   Settled with a devil, almost // devilish (7)

Nick[2] (also Old Nick) is another name for the devil.

24a   Old politician kept in loop? /That's/ sporting (7)

"politician" = MP (show explanation )

In Britain (as in Canada), a politician elected to the House of Commons is known as a Member of Parliament[10] (abbreviation MP[5]) or, informally, as a member[5].

hide explanation

Sport[5] is used in the sense of to play in a lively, energetic way ⇒ the children sported in the water.

26a   Slow // fabulous ship on west side of lake (5)

In Greek mythology, the Argo[10] was the ship in which Jason sailed in search of the Golden Fleece.

Largo[5] is a musical direction meaning in a slow tempo and dignified in style.

27a   Simple men tend to purchase // gadget (9)

I would say that there may be a small stretch involved in accepting the hidden word indicator. Methinks that purchase[10] is used in the sense of obtain or acquire.

28a   Finish United's competition gaining new // stamina (9)

"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

29a   Smooth // character in empty suavity (5)


1d   Bitter // gin and 'It' drunk around mid-morning (9)

Scratching the Surface
It[5] is an informal, dated British term for Italian vermouth ⇒ he poured a gin and it.

2d   One plays // start of Metal Gear excitedly (5)

Scratching the Surface
Metal Gear[7] is a series of action-adventure stealth video games published by the Japanese entertainment company Konami.

3d   Sweetheart scoffed about chap /getting/ discharge (7)

"sweetheart" = E (show explanation )

A common cryptic crossword construct is to use the word "sweetheart" to clue E, the middle letter (heart) of swEet.

hide explanation

"chap" = MAN (show explanation )

Chap[3,4,11], an informal term for a man or boy, is a shortened form of chapman[3,4,11], an archaic term for a trader, especially an itinerant  pedlar [British spelling of peddler].

hide explanation

4d   Brilliant time embracing very ordinary // bird (6)

"very" = V (show explanation )

The abbreviation v (or v.)[1,2,5,10] stands for very. Although this definition is found in most of my British dictionaries, it does not appear in any of my American dictionaries. Unfortunately no explanation is given as to the specific context in which one might encounter this usage. The only example that I can imagine is when combined with G as a grade of VG (very good) on school tests or assignments.

hide explanation

"ordinary" = O (show explanation )

Historically, in the UK (with the exception of Scotland), O level[5] (short for ordinary level[5]) was a qualification in a specific subject formerly taken by school students aged 14-16, at a level below A (advanced) level. It was replaced in 1988 by the  GCSE[5] (General Certificate of Secondary Education).

hide explanation

The avocet[5] is a long-legged wading bird with a slender upturned bill and strikingly patterned plumage.

5d   Singer/'s/ block on single about sex (8)

It[2,5] (usually written in quotation marks, "it") is an informal term for sexual intercourse or sex appeal ⇒ (i) the only thing I knew nothing about was ‘it’; (ii) they were caught doing ‘it’ in the back seat of his car.

6d   Plunder lifted, apart from // display of icons (7)

Toolbar[5] is a computing term denoting (in a program with a graphical user interface) a strip of icons that can be clicked to perform certain functions.

7d   One beginning to ascend to Saturn, perhaps (9)

In this semi-&lit. clue* (or, as some prefer to call it, semi-all-in-one clue), the entire clue is the definition while the portion with the dashed underline provides the wordplay. 
* In a true &lit. clue[7] (sometimes called an all-in-one clue), the entire clue provides not only the definition (when read one way) but under a different interpretation also serves as the wordplay.
8d   Socialist supporting Queen /is/ messed up (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

14d   Rendered // insensible with drink (9)

Render[5] means to cover (stone or brick) with a coat of plaster ⇒ external walls will be rendered and tiled.

16d   Active // agent accepts true-blue line (9)

As you may have observed, I sometimes question aspects of the reviews that appear on Big Dave's Crossword Blog — even when they happen to have been written by myself. Such is the case today. As I read my hint for this clue, I began to wonder why "right" should mean staunchly loyal (which it doesn't) and then realized that in August I had inserted the definition for "true-blue" into the hint rather than the definition for "right".

So why does "true-blue" equate to "right"? The answer lies in a difference in the meaning of the term "true-blue" between Britain and North America.

In Britain, true-blue[5] means staunchly loyal to the Conservative Party ⇒ even in true-blue East Hampshire Tory popularity is on the wane which explains where the equivalence to "right" comes from.

In North America, on the other hand, true-blue[5] means simply extremely loyal or orthodox ⇒ I'm a dyed-in-the-wool, true-blue patriot (though it would certainly sound bizarre to hear someone described as a true-blue Liberal).

17d   Backlash /created by/ an erotic novel (8)

19d   Profile // criminal preceding visit (7)

21d   Ace compiler's not so // rambling (7)

"ace" = A (show explanation )

A[5] is an abbreviation for ace (in card games).

hide explanation

"compiler's" = IM (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 be" producing "compiler's" (a contraction of "compiler is") which must be replaced by "I'm" (a contraction of "I am").

hide explanation

22d   End of leg split on exercise /producing/ infection (6)

"exercise" = PE (show explanation )

PE[5] is the abbreviation for physical education [or Phys Ed, as it was known in my school days]. 

hide explanation

Grippe[5] is an old-fashioned term for influenza.

23d   Work out // seeing overly large veins engorged initially (5)

25d   Pine to follow one/'s/ dream (5)

"deal" = PINE (show explanation )

In Britain, deal[5] means:
  1. fir or pine wood as a building material; or
  2. a plank made of fir or pine wood [what we in North America would commonly refer to as lumber]. 
 Apparently, this meaning of deal[3,11] also exists (or once existed) in North America, but I would think that it is very rarely used now — especially by the general public.

In Britain, lumber[5] has a totally different meaning than it does in North America, being articles of furniture or other household items that are no longer useful and inconveniently take up storage space

hide explanation
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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