Thursday, December 8, 2016

Thursday, December 8, 2016 — DT 28208

Puzzle at a Glance
Puzzle Number in The Daily Telegraph
DT 28208
Publication Date in The Daily Telegraph
Thursday, September 1, 2016
RayT (Ray Terrell)
Link to Full Review
Big Dave's Crossword Blog [DT 28208]
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 came to a total impasse in the southwest quadrant and needed to call in electronic support to complete the puzzle. Even with their help, I failed to parse 13d and needed pommers' review to explain that clue.

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.


7a   Religion's leader always facing extreme // cleric (8)

9a   Assumes // trouble approaching uneven bits of paths (6)

10a   Breathe in /and/ talk softly (4)

"softly" = P (show explanation )

Piano[3,5] (abbreviation p[5]), is a musical direction meaning either (as an adjective) soft or quiet or (as an adverb) softly or quietly.

hide explanation

11a   Fit // old man's back caught in elastic (10)

"caught" = C (show explanation )

In cricket, one way for a batsman to be dismissed is to be caught out[5](phrasal verb,2), that is for a player on the opposing team to catch a ball that has been hit by the batsman before it touches the ground.

On cricket scorecards, the abbreviation c.[2,10] or c[5](1) denotes caught (by).

hide explanation

12a   Loosely /could give/ large hint (6)

14a   Puzzle /of/ fleece uncovered (8)

15a   Vinegar needed to trap flipping // bug (6)

Scratching the Surface
Flipping[5] is an informal British term used for emphasis or to express mild annoyance ⇒ (i) are you out of your flipping mind?; (ii) it’s flipping cold today.

17a   Dashes, holding iron over // suits (6)

The symbol for the chemical element iron is Fe[5] (from Latin ferrum).

20a   Fall backwards clutching old useless // support (8)

The abbreviation for useless or unserviceable is U/S[10].

22a   Pong, a not quite fresh // kind (6)

Pong[5] is an informal British term that means
  1. (noun) a strong, unpleasant smell ⇒ corked wine has a powerful pong; and
  2. (verb) to smell strongly and unpleasantly ⇒ the place just pongs of dirty clothes.
In British and Irish slang, hum[10] (as a noun) denotes:
  1. (noun) an unpleasant odour; and
  2. (verb) to smell unpleasant.
23a   On a sea trip waving // farewell (10)

24a   Sailor heading north /for/ mountain lake (4)

"sailor" = TAR (show explanation )

Tar[5] is an informal, dated nickname for a sailor. The term came into use in the mid 17th century and is perhaps an abbreviation of tarpaulin, also used as a nickname for a sailor at this time.

hide explanation

The clue parses as TAR (sailor) preceding (heading) N (north, abbrev.)

A tarn[5] is a small mountain lake.

25a   Prattle endlessly, detaining // former PM (6)

Clement Attlee[5], 1st Earl Attlee (1883–1967) was a British Labour statesman, Prime Minister 1945–51. His term saw the creation of the modern welfare state and the nationalization of major industries.

26a   Ran // humiliated being a non-starter (8)

Scratching the Surface
The surface reading of the clue would seem to present a bit of a contradiction. If the horse ran, then by definition it could not be a non-starter.

A non-starter[2,5]) is a horse (or other animal or person) which, though entered for a race, does not run.


1d   Refusal, // say, to be put in home (8)

2d   First of parr following river /leading to/ ocean (4)

The Dee[5] is either of at least two rivers in the UK [in his review on Big Dave's Crossword Blog, pommers lists a couple of others as well as one in Ireland]:
  1. a river in northeastern Scotland, which rises in the Grampian Mountains and flows eastwards past Balmoral Castle to the North Sea at Aberdeen;
  2. a river that rises in North Wales and flows past Chester and on into the Irish Sea.
Scratching the Surface
A parr[5] is a young salmon (or trout) between the stages of fry and smolt, distinguished by dark rounded patches evenly spaced along its sides.

3d   Gift/'s/ frilly, capturing bridegroom's heart (6)

4d   Panic with tee shot /in/ game (8)

Patience[5] is the British name for solitaire[5], any of various forms of card game for one player, the object of which is to use up all one’s cards by forming particular arrangements and sequences.

5d   Stay // quiet, taking in speaker and this writer (10)

"this writer" = I (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.

hide explanation

6d   Surreptitiously taken or lifted, even nicked initially (6)

If one considers the word "initially" to be part of the definition, this is an &lit.[7] clue (sometimes called an all-in-one clue). In this type of clue, the entire clue (when read one way) is the definition, but under a different interpretation takes on the role of wordplay.

If one does not consider the word "initially" to be part of the definition, this becomes a semi-&lit (semi-all-in-one) clue in which the entire clue is the wordplay and the portion of the clue with the dashed underline is the definition.

Nick[5] is an informal British term meaning to steal ⇒ she nicked fivers from the till.

8d   Show // of French dive around beginning of cabaret (6)

"of French" = DE (show explanation )

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

hide explanation

Pit[1] is a slang term for a very dirty or untidy place.

13d   In the flesh, // 'tight' describes Queen's playing (10)

It never occurred to me that pally[1,2,3,4,5,10,11] could be a word, although I discover that it does appear in all the dictionaries.

"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

The use of the word "describe" as a containment indicator is a common cryptic crossword convention. This device relies on describe[3] being used in the sense of to trace the form or outline of ⇒ describe a circle with a compass. Thus, in today's clue, we have PALLY (tight) containing (describing) ERSON (Queen + 'S + playing) with the rationale for the wordplay being that the container (PALLY) forms an outline around the contained entity (ERSON) in a similar manner to the circumference of a circle forming an outline around the circular area contained within it.

16d   Fine // work about block being turned (8)

18d   Small smalls protecting right // stuff? (8)

Smalls[5] is an informal British term for small items of clothing, especially underwear.

What did he say?
In his review on Big Dave's Crossword Blog, pommers describes smalls as being a colloquial term for bras and pants etc.
If I were to remove my pants in the UK, I would be far more exposed than if I were to do so in North America!

The following is how Collins COBUILD English Usage explains the difference between pants in Britain and North American:
[BritainPants are a piece of underwear which have two holes to put your legs through and elastic around the top to hold them up round your waist or hips. I put on my bra and pants [underpants in North America].

[North America] Pants are a piece of clothing that covers the lower part of your body and each leg.He wore brown corduroy pants and a white cotton shirt. [trousers in Britain]

19d   Turn red accepting one/'s/ a bit obscene (6)

21d   Shut up keeping warmth /in/ cover (6)

22d   Sharpens head of tool /getting/ blunt (6)

24d   Precious // time with two sweethearts? (4)

"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

Precious[3] is used in the sense of affectedly dainty or overrefined.

Twee[5] is a British term meaning excessively or affectedly quaint, pretty, or sentimental ⇒ although the film’s a bit twee, it’s watchable.
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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