Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Wednesday, February 22, 2017 — DT 28290

Puzzle at a Glance
Puzzle Number in The Daily Telegraph
DT 28290
Publication Date in The Daily Telegraph
Tuesday, December 6, 2016
Samuel (Chris Lancaster)
Link to Full Review
Big Dave's Crossword Blog [DT 28290]
Big Dave's Crossword Blog Review Written By
Mr Kitty
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


A new setter makes his debut today on the Telegraph back-page. The puzzle is referred to in Britain as the back-pager as it normally appears on the back page of the paper unless forced inside by an advertising feature (causing howls of complaint from cruciverbalists).

If you visit Big Dave's Crossword Blog today, you will find him celebrating the  birthday of Rufus (Roger Squires) who set the puzzle which appeared yesterday in the National Post.

You might like to try your hand at the trio of terse clues offered by Mr Kitty in his review on Big Dave's Crossword Blog. In addition to the solutions, he also mercifully provides some help in the form of the checking letters.
  • O? (4,6)
  • X (4,2,3,5)
  • ? (8)
Let us know how many you managed to solve.

I also invite you to leave a comment to let us know how you fared with today's 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   Cross // Cheshire, say, with lift (7,3)

Cheshire[5] is a kind of firm crumbly cheese, originally made in Cheshire[5], a county of west central England.

6a   Big Brother /gets/ backing when suppressed by Brussels (4)

Brussels[5] (the capital of Belgium) is also considered the de facto capital of the European Union[7], having a long history of hosting the institutions of the European Union within its European Quarter. The EU has no official capital, and no plans to declare one, but Brussels hosts the official seats of the European Commission, Council of the European Union, and European Council, as well as a seat (officially the second seat but de facto the most important one) of the European Parliament.

Just as Washington and London are used as metonyms for the US and UK respectively, Brussels serves as a metonym for the EU.

In the Bible, Esau[5] is the elder of the twin sons of Isaac and Rebecca, who sold his birthright to his brother Jacob and was tricked out of his father's blessing by his brother (Gen. 25, 27).

Scratching the Surface
Big Brother[7] is a reality game show franchise, originally broadcast in the Netherlands and subsequently syndicated internationally. The term Big Brother originates from George Orwell's novel Nineteen Eighty-Four, with its theme of continuous oppressive surveillance.

In the show, contestants called "housemates" (or "house guests") live together in a specially-constructed house that is isolated from the outside world. Housemates are voted out (usually on a weekly basis) until only one remains and wins the cash prize. During their stay in the house, contestants are continuously monitored by live television cameras as well as personal audio microphones.

Behind the Haircut
"The Story Behind David Bowie's Ziggy Stardust Haircut, A Radical Red Revolution" is an account by David Bowie's hairstylist on how the haircut came to be.

Coincidentally, "Big Brother"[7] is a song written by David Bowie in 1973 and intended for his never-produced musical based on George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four. In 1974 it was released on the album Diamond Dogs. It segued into the final track on the record, "Chant of the Ever Circling Skeletal Family".

9a   Work hard // having got rid of rodent? (6,4)

10a   Left sitting next to Mum eating Eastern // dinner, maybe (4)

12a   Inflammation // from dusty environment (4)

13a   Swimmer/'s/ ginger hairdo (3,6)

According to The Chambers Dictionary (I kid you not), a mullet is a hairstyle that is short at the front, long at the back, and ridiculous all round. The term perhaps comes from the dialect word mullethead, 'a fool'.

The red mullet[5] is an elongated fish with long barbels on the chin, living in warmer seas and widely valued as a food fish.

15a   Dickens character // heard American coin word meaning 'beside' (8)

Nicholas Nickleby[7] (in full, The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby) is a novel by English writer Charles Dickens (1812–1870). Originally published as a serial from 1838 to 1839, it was Dickens' third novel.

16a   Deprive // nameless servant when drunk (6)

18a   Commit again // to stand down (6)

20a   Tease over mostly rubbish // weapon (8)

Rubbish[5] (adjective) is an informal British term meaning very bad; worthless or useless ⇒ (i) people might say I was a rubbish manager; (ii) she was rubbish at maths*.

* maths is the British term for math

A garrotte[5] (also garotte or garrote)* is a wire, cord, or other implement used to kill (someone) by strangulation ⇒ he had been garrotted with piano wire.

* My commonly-consulted dictionaries present differing views on the spelling of this word (show explanation )

The three British dictionaries (Chambers, Collins, and Oxford) list the principal spelling as garrotte while the two American dictionaries (American Heritage and Random House) show it to be garrote. Chambers and Oxford differ on the American spelling with the entry in Chambers corresponding to the principal spelling shown in both American dictionaries. Collins avoids designating an American spelling.The American dictionaries fail to agree on the alternative spelling.
  • Chambers 21st Century Dictionary: garrotte[2] or garotte or (US) garrote
  • Collins English Dictionary: garrotte[10], garrote or garotte
  • Oxford Dictionaries: garrotte[5], (US garotte) (also garrote)
  • American Heritage Dictionary: garrote[3] or garrotte
  • Random House Kernerman Webster's College Dictionary: garrote[11] or garotte
hide explanation

Delving Deeper
Historically, a garrotte[10] was a device, usually an iron collar, used by the Spanish as a method of execution by strangulation or by breaking the neck.

23a   Novel // refreshment for energy sag (5,4)

Agnes Grey[7] is the debut novel of English author Anne Brontë (writing under the pen name of Acton Bell), first published in December 1847, and republished in a second edition in 1850. The novel follows Agnes Grey, a governess, as she works within families of the English gentry.

24a   Low-grade boat needs a // horn (4)

26a   Greek character // cheers after score is halved (4)

Ta[5] is an informal British exclamation signifying thank you ‘Ta,’ said Willie gratefully.

A score[5] is a group or set of twenty.

Iota[5] is the ninth letter of the Greek alphabet (Ι, ι).

27a   Fancy man entered, /showing/ sign of affection (10)

28a   Somewhat divine Roman // emperor (4)

Nero[5] (AD 37-68) was Roman emperor 54-68; full name Nero Claudius Caesar Augustus Germanicus. Infamous for his cruelty, he wantonly executed leading Romans. His reign witnessed a fire which destroyed half of Rome in 64.

29a   Small animals hide /in/ town (10)

Amazingly, never having heard of the town, I was able to correctly guess the animals.

Shrewsbury[7] is the county town of Shropshire, England. It is on the River Severn and has a population of approximately 72,000.

Behind the Picture
Shrewsbury Biscuits (British)
In his review, Mr Kitty shows a picture of New Zealand Shrewsbury biscuits* — not to be confused with British Shrewsbury biscuits.

* Biscuit is the British term for cookie.


1d   Young European, // perhaps twenty-seven (4)

An initial attempt to parse "twenty-seven" as a cross-reference to clue 27a held up progress for a while. I see from Mr Kitty's epilogue that I was not alone in going down this path.

2d   Flexible // response after auction goes belly up (7)

3d   Footballer in alone, meaning // he plumbs the depths (12)

Pelé[5] is a retired Brazilian professional footballer [soccer player]; born Edson Arantes do Nascimento. Regarded as one of the greatest footballers of all time, he appeared 111 times for Brazil and is credited with over 1,200 goals in first-class soccer.

 A speleologist[5] is someone who studies or explores caves.

4d   Harangue // terrible-sounding family (8)

The word "dire", when pronounced in a non-rhotic (show explanation ) accent typical of many parts of Britain, sounds like "dia".

Non-rhotic accents omit the sound < r > in certain situations, while rhotic accents generally pronounce < r > in all contexts. Among the several dozen British English accents which exist, many are non-rhotic while American English (US and Canadian) is mainly rhotic. This is, however, a generalisation, as there are areas of Britain that are rhotic, and areas of America that are non-rhotic. For more information, see this guide to pronouncing < r > in British English.

hide explanation

5d   German woman and policeman // con merchants (6)

Frau[5] (plural Frauen) is a title or form of address for a married or widowed German-speaking woman ⇒ Frau Nordern.

DS[10] is the abbreviations for Detective Sergeant. Within the British police, sergeant is the first supervisory rank. Sergeant is senior to the rank of constable, and junior to inspector. Detective sergeants are equal in rank to their uniformed counterparts; only the prefix 'detective' identifies them as having completed at least one of the various detective training courses authorising them to conduct and/or manage investigations into serious and/or complex crime.

I thought that "con merchant" might be a British term, perhaps equivalent to "con artist". However, that does not seem to be the case as the term "con artist" is found in British dictionaries while "con merchant" is not. I, therefore, must conclude that "con merchant" is merely a convenient construct invented by the setter to suit the needs of the clue.

7d   Girl runs // like a star (7)

"runs" = R (show explanation )

On cricket scorecards [not to mention baseball scoreboards], the abbreviation R[5] denotes run(s).

In cricket, a run[5] is a unit of scoring achieved by hitting the ball so that both batsmen are able to run between the wickets, or awarded in some other circumstances.

hide explanation

8d   Peacekeepers allow one to flee in ranks // with little education (10)

"peacekeepers" = UN (show explanation )

The United Nations[5] (abbreviation UN) is an international organization of countries set up in 1945, in succession to the League of Nations, to promote international peace, security, and cooperation.

The UN Security Council bears the primary responsibility for the maintenance of peace and security, and may call on members to take action, chiefly peacekeeping action, to enforce its decisions.

hide explanation

"In ranks" as it might be applied to stadium seating, not military forces.

11d   Sweet things // loveless actor sprinkled with stardust (7,5)

"love" = O (show explanation )

In tennis, squash, and some other sports, love[5] is a score of zero or nil ⇒ love fifteen. The resemblance of a zero written as a numeral (0) to the letter O leads to the cryptic crossword convention of the word "love" being used to clue this letter.

Although folk etymology has connected the word with French l'oeuf 'egg', from the resemblance in shape between an egg and a zero, the term apparently comes from the phrase play for love (i.e. the love of the game, not for money).

hide explanation

Custard tarts[7] or flans pâtissier are a pastry consisting of an outer pastry crust filled with egg custard and baked.

14d   Lack of fizz // upset Frenchman, acclaim being a non-starter (10)

A Frenchman in Crosswordland is almost invariably named René.

What did he say?
In his review on Big Dave's Crossword Blog, Mr Kitty describes René as one of Crosswordland’s favourite Frenchmen (much discussed in last Sunday’s blog).
The cryptic crossword puzzle that appears in The Sunday Telegraph is a different series from the one that is syndicated by the The Daily Telegraph and thus readers of the National Post do not get to see it.

The clue in questions was:
  • Frenchman and Englishwoman having pronounced difference (4)
to which Big Dave gave the hint "René as a Frenchman’s name is pronounced differently to Rene as an Englishwoman’s name – find another similar pair of names" (i.e., the solution to the clue is not RENE but another name that can apply both to a Frenchman or an Englishwoman).

In the comments, Dutch opined "I’m confused about Rene – have i been pronouncing it wrong?"

To which Big Dave responded "In France it is pronounced Renay, as in ‘Allo ‘Allo!* – in England the girl’s name is usually, but not always, pronounced Reenee."

* 'Allo 'Allo![7] is a BBC television sitcom broadcast from 1982 to 1992. Set in a small town in Nazi-occupied France during World War II, 'Allo 'Allo! tells the story of café owner René Artois (played by English comic Gordon Kaye).

17d   Cast end game orbiting unknown // satellite (8)

"unknown" = Y (show explanation )

In mathematics (algebra, in particular), an unknown[10] is a variable, or the quantity it represents, the value of which is to be discovered by solving an equation ⇒ 3y = 4x + 5 is an equation in two unknowns. [Unknowns are customarily represented symbolically by the letters x, y and z.]

hide explanation

Ganymede[5] is one of the Galilean moons of Jupiter, the seventh-closest satellite to the planet and the largest satellite in the solar system (diameter 5,262 km).

19d   Treason destroyed // politician (7)

21d   Picture // story about black gold (7)

The symbol for the chemical element gold is Au[5] (from Latin aurum).

22d   Yank/'s/ rule broken by serving-girl? Quite the opposite (6)

The phrase "quite the opposite" tells the solver to reverse the logic of the statement immediately preceding it.

In legal documents, r[5] is used as the abbreviation for ruleunder r 7.4 (6) the court may hear an application immediately.

Wench[10] is an archaic term for a female servant.

25d   Southern river // lodge (4)

The Tay[5] is the longest river in Scotland, flowing 192 km (120 miles) eastwards through Loch Tay, entering the North Sea through the Firth of Tay.
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

No comments:

Post a Comment