Thursday, March 9, 2017

Wednesday, March 8, 2017 — DT 28301

Puzzle at a Glance
Puzzle Number in The Daily Telegraph
DT 28301
Publication Date in The Daily Telegraph
Monday, December 19, 2016
Rufus (Roger Squires)
Link to Full Review
Big Dave's Crossword Blog [DT 28301]
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


This puzzle proved to be far more of an effort to review than it was to solve. A large part of that may have been due to writing the review in bit and pieces being constantly interrupted by having to deal with other matters.

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   Wrestling club // that might get you hooked (9,4)

I think Miffypops, in his review on Big Dave's Crossword Blog, is overly generous in identifying the definition.

10a   Alfresco // dancing in opera (4-3)

11a   Hide // at one time found in California (7)

12a   Awkward ones /making/ negative votes (4)

13a   Evict wild /and/ smelly cat (5)

A civet[5] (also civet cat) is a slender nocturnal carnivorous mammal with a barred and spotted coat and well-developed anal scent glands, native to Africa and Asia. A strong musky perfume, also known as civet, is obtained from the secretions of the civet's scent glands.

14a   Game of poker // cut swotting (4)

Swot[5,10] is an informal British term meaning to study assiduously or, in other words, cram ⇒ kids swotting for GCSEs*. To swot up on means to study (a subject) intensively, especially in preparation for something ⇒ (i) swot up on the country's driving laws before you go; (ii) I've always been interested in old furniture and I've swotted it up a bit.

* In the UK except Scotland, GCSE[5] (General Certificate of Secondary Education) is a qualification in a specific subject typically taken by school students aged 14-16, at a level below A [advanced] level. The equivalent in Scotland is Standard Grade.

Swotting, being a gerund, can function as a noun. Thus swotting — and, for that matter, studying — can mean study (as a noun) ⇒ She attributed her good result on the exam solely to last minute swotting.

Thus the wordplay "cut swotting" is an instruction to delete (cut) the final letter from STUD[Y] (swotting).

What did he say?
In his review on Big Dave's Crossword Blog, Miffypops writes Swotting here means reading such as one might do to pass an exam or university course.
In Britain, to read[5] means to study (an academic subject) at a university ⇒ (i) I’m reading English at Cambridge; (ii) he went to Manchester to read for a BA in Economics.

17a   Trying to get something from the bank? (7)

18a   Highest place in the church (7)

Behind the Picture
The illustration used by Miffypops in his review on Big Dave's Crossword Blog would appear to be a picture of Salisbury Cathedral[7], formally known as the Cathedral Church of the Blessed Virgin Mary, an Anglican cathedral in Salisbury, England which has the tallest church spire in the United Kingdom (123m/404 ft).

Thus Miffypops has chosen to show what is literally the highest place in what the English would consider to be The Church (i.e., the Church of England).

19a   Beginning again, // we learn afresh (7)

22a   Wine // created by one artist (7)

"artist" = RA (show explanation )

A Royal Academician (abbreviation RA[10]) is a member of the Royal Academy of Arts[5] (also Royal Academy; abbreviation also RA[10]), an institution established in London in 1768, whose purpose is to cultivate painting, sculpture, and architecture in Britain. 

hide explanation

About the Video
"Have Some Madeira M'Dear"[7] is a darkly comic song composed by the British comedy duo Flanders and Swann*. In the video, the piece is performed by Wendy Weatherby and Roger Lang.

* Flanders and Swann[7] were a British comedy duo. Actor and singer Michael Flanders (1922–1975) and composer, pianist, and lyricist Donald Swann (1923–1994) collaborated in writing and performing comic songs. They first worked together at a school revue in 1939 and eventually wrote over a hundred comic songs together.

24a   Kind /and/ good man with a heart of gold (4)

"gold" = OR (show explanation )

Or[5] is gold or yellow, as a heraldic tincture.

In heraldry, a tincture[5] is any of the conventional colours (including the metals and stains, and often the furs) used in coats of arms.

hide explanation

25a   School's head hasn't the power, // being poorly supplied (5)

As the solution, scant[10] is a postpositive adjective (followed by of) meaning having a short supply (of) or being poorly supplied (with) ⇒ She subsisted on a meagre diet scant of nutritious food.

26a   Backs plans /for/ junk mail (4)

29a   They count for nothing (7)

Nought[5] is a British term for the digit 0.

30a   Itinerant craftsman /and/ ancient poetic character (7)

In this clue, the dashed underline is meant to indicate that I am labelling the first part of this clue as a cryptic definition making this clue a double definition.

The Rime of the Ancient Mariner[7] (originally The Rime of the Ancyent Marinere) is the longest major poem by English poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1772–1834), written in 1797–98 and published in 1798 in the first edition of Lyrical Ballads.

31a   Offer hospitality to all, though a cold thing to do in winter (4,4,5)

In this clue, on the other hand, the dashed underline is meant to identify the cryptic elaboration portion of a cryptic definition consisting of a precise definition combined with cryptic elaboration.

The phrase keep open house[5,10] means to provide general hospitality or to be always ready to provide hospitality.


2d   They're usually concealed in smoking // jackets (7)

Here, I have once again marked the first part of this double definition with a dashed underline. While the first definition may not be overly cryptic, neither is it a precise definition. It alludes to a characteristic attribute of the solution — by the way, an attribute that (in the near future) will not be applicable in Canada.

Reefer[5] is short for reefer jacket[5], a thick close-fitting double-breasted jacket (also known as a pea coat or pea jacket). Despite Miffypops identifying it as such in his review on Big Dave's Crossword Blog, a reefer is not a smoking jacket — unless, of course, one is smoking outdoors in a Canadian winter.

3d   Quiet place /for/ fun (4)

"quiet" = 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

4d   Sporting // poet has a grand finish (7)

Philip Larkin[5] (1922–1985) was an English poet whose poetry is characterized by an air of melancholy and bitterness, and by stoic wit. Notable works: The Whitsun Weddings (1964) and High Windows (1974).

While the abbreviation G for "grand" is deemed by the Brits to be an Americanism, it seems to be one that is well known to them — undoubtedly from American gangster films. (show more )

Grand[5] is an informal term for a thousand dollars or pounds he gets thirty-five grand a year. While the term "grand" itself would seem to be commonly used in the UK, the informal abbreviation G[5] meaning grand appears to be regarded as a North American usage I was up nine Gs on the blackjack tables.

G is defined in various British dictionaries as follows:
  1. Oxford Dictionaries: (North American informal) abbreviation for grand, a thousand dollars)[5];
  2. Chambers 21st Century Dictionary: (North American slang) abbreviation for a grand, 1000 dollars[2];
  3. Collins English Dictionary: (mainly US slang) a symbol for grand (a thousand dollars or pounds)[10] .
hide explanation

Lark about[5] (or lark around) (verb) is an informal British term meaning to enjoy oneself by behaving in a playful and mischievous way he's always joking and larking about in the office.

5d   Metal machine operators in America? (7)

The solution is NICKELS — not NICKEL, so the definition that Miffypops has shown in his review is obviously incorrect. I suspect he was so focused on working Tom Waits into the review that he lost sight of the actual solution to the clue.

The entire clue is a cryptic definition of low-value (North) American coins that can be used to operate slot machines.

What did he say?
In his review on Big Dave's Crossword Blog, Miffypops writes of nickels These are the coins used in Fruit Machines called Nickel Slots ....
Fruit machine[5] is the British term for a slot machine[5], a coin-operated gaming machine that generates random combinations of symbols (typically representing fruit) on a dial, certain combinations winning varying amounts of money for the player.

Given that Oxford Dictionaries characterizes slot machine[5] as a North American term, it is of interest to note that Penny Slots apparently exist in Britain (judging by Miffypops remarks where he says that Nickel Slots are The equivalent of our Penny slots at the seaside*.

* see the following box on British pleasure piers

Delving Deeper
Pleasure piers[7] were first built in Britain during the early 19th century with the earliest structure being the Ryde Pier on the Isle of Wight, opened in 1814. At that time the introduction of the railways for the first time permitted mass tourism to dedicated seaside resorts. The large tidal ranges at many such resorts meant that for much of the day, the sea was not visible from dry land. The pleasure pier was the resorts' answer, permitting holidaymakers to promenade over and alongside the sea at all times. Providing a walkway out to sea, pleasure piers often include amusements and theatres as part of the attraction. The world's longest pleasure pier is at Southend-on-sea, Essex, and extends 1.3 miles (2.1 km) into the Thames estuary.

Following the building of the world's first seaside pier at Ryde, the pier became fashionable at seaside resorts in England and Wales during the Victorian era, peaking in the 1860s with 22 being built in that decade. A symbol of the typical British seaside holiday, by 1914, more than 100 pleasure piers were located around the UK coast. In a 2006 UK poll, the public voted the seaside pier onto the list of icons of England.

6d   Island /providing/ some inspiration, ascetically (4)

Iona[5] is a small island in the Inner Hebrides, off the west coast [of the larger island] of Mull. It is the site of a monastery founded by St Columba in about 563.

7d   Possibly prove to // be superior (7)

Overtop[5] (verb) means:
  • exceed in height ⇒ no building is allowed to overtop the cathedral;
  • (especially of water) rise over the top of (a barrier) ⇒ the old sea wall is regularly overtopped by high tides;
  • archaic be superior to ⇒ none can overtop him in goodness.
8d   /It's/ cheap, and any number can get it apparently (5,3,1,4)

I dithered over whether to call this a cryptic definition or a double definition. In the end, I opted for the former as I concluded that the portion of the clue with the dashed underline is merely a literal expression of the definition rather than a second independent meaning.

The word "It's" is effectively a link word, despite coming at the beginning of the clue. Although, on the surface, the cryptic elaboration appears to be saying that any number of individuals are able to obtain a particular item, what it really is stating is that the item can be obtained (gotten) in return for "a song" (any number).

About the Video
The video clip accompanying Miffypops' review on Big Dave's Crossword Blog is taken from an October 1971 episode of Going for a Song[7], an antiques quiz show broadcast by the BBC from 1965-1977. The series was a forerunner of the Antiques Roadshow. A revival of the show was broadcast from 1995 to 2001.

9d   They beat // transport strikes (6,7)

Sledge[5] is a [perhaps not entirely] British term for a sleigh.

15d   The prospects /for/ wayward wives (5)

16d   Prepared // to study before end of day (5)

See the box at 14a for the definition of read. While Miffypops seems to think that read and swot are synonymous, my research would suggest otherwise.Yes, both words can mean study; however, swot means to cram and read means to pursue a course of studies.

20d   Foster child? (7)

This is a [weakly] cryptic definition. The intended misdirection is that the setter expects us to think of "foster" as an adjective when it is really a verb.

21d   What a policeman does to a criminal is hair-raising! (5,2)

A cryptic definition consisting of a precise definition combined with cryptic elaboration.

22d   A three-legged race? (7)

The Isle of Man[5] (abbreviation IOM[5]) is an island in the Irish Sea which is a British Crown dependency having home rule, with its own legislature (the Tynwald) and judicial system. The island was part of the Norse kingdom of the Hebrides in the Middle Ages, passing into Scottish hands in 1266 for a time, until the English gained control in the early 15th century. Its ancient language, Manx, is still occasionally used for ceremonial purposes.

Flag of the Isle of Man
For centuries, the island's symbol has been the so-called "three legs of Mann", a triskelion of three legs conjoined at the thigh. Thus the Manx can be considered to be a race of people represented by three legs, or "a three-legged race".

Delving Deeper
World's Largest Three-legged Race
On May 6, 2013, 649 pairs of runners completed a 200m three-legged race in Douglas[5], the capital of the Isle of Man. This event has been certified by Guinness World Records as the world record for the largest three-legged race in a single venue [see: Guinness confirms record set at Isle of Man three-legged race].

23d   Threatens // to finish in bad spirits (7)

In folklore, an imp[5] is a small, mischievous devil or sprite.

27d   Composer drops in /for/ a bit of pork (4)

Frédéric Chopin[5] (1810–1849) was a Polish-born French composer and pianist. Writing almost exclusively for the piano, he composed numerous mazurkas and polonaises inspired by Polish folk music, as well as nocturnes, preludes, and two piano concertos (1829; 1830).

28d   River // a group of sailors love (4)

"a group of sailors" = RN (show explanation )

The Royal Navy[5] (abbreviation RN) is the British navy. It was the most powerful navy in the world from the 17th century until the Second World War.

hide explanation

"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

The Arno[5] is a river which rises in the Apennines of northern Italy and flows westwards 240 km (150 miles) through Florence and Pisa to the Ligurian Sea.
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)
[12] - (Webster’s New World College Dictionary)
Signing off for today — Falcon

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