Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Tuesday, April 4, 2017 — DT 28344

Puzzle at a Glance
Puzzle Number in The Daily Telegraph
DT 28344
Publication Date in The Daily Telegraph
Tuesday, February 7, 2017
Link to Full Review
Big Dave's Crossword Blog [DT 28344]
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


Today's puzzle is a fairly gentle exercise from one of the mystery Tuesday setters.

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   Wine expert? // Lightweight! (8)

Port[5] (also port wine) is a strong, sweet dark red (occasionally brown or white) fortified wine, originally from Portugal, typically drunk as a dessert wine. The name is a shortened form of Oporto, a major port from which the wine is shipped.

9a   Familiar with // a hospital shown in book (2,4)

10a   First round with // present (6)

11a   Grown-up lads use four-letter words, // such as vest, suit, and ties! (8)

12a   Such a dismissal may be given by a drill-sergeant (8,6)

The entire clue is a cryptic definition comprised of a precise definition (solid underline) combined with cryptic elaboration (dashed underline). In clues of this type, the so-called "precise definition" is usually anything but precise. It is precise in the sense that this is how one would find the solution — which, as today, is often a figure of speech — defined in the dictionary. The cryptic elaboration commonly, as today, will allude to a literal interpretation of that figure of speech.

15a   Finish // work on stone (4)

"work" = OP (show explanation )

In music, an opus[5] (plural opuses or opera) is a separate composition or set of compositions.

The abbreviation Op.[5] (also op.), denoting opus, is used before a number given to each work of a particular composer, usually indicating the order of publication. The plural form of Op. is Opp..

Opus[5] can also be used in a more general sense to mean an artistic work, especially one on a large scale ⇒ he was writing an opus on Mexico.

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The stone[5] (abbreviation st[5]) is a British unit of weight equal to 14 lb (6.35 kg) ⇒ I weighed 10 stone.

The setter respects the cryptic crossword convention that "on" — used as a charade indicator in an across clue — signifies 'following'  (show explanation )

"A on B" Convention
An often ignored cryptic crossword convention provides that, in an across clue, the construction "A on B" is used to clue B + A.

The rationale for this practice is that in order for A to be placed on B, B must already have been positioned (i.e., already have been written). Since the English language is written from left to right, this means that B must come first and A is then appended to it.

Notwithstanding the above, a solver must always be vigilant for setters who flout this convention.

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17a   Crook who sneaks in King George mug (5)

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 King George was GR[5] — from the Latin Georgius Rex.

Mug[5] is an informal British term for a stupid or gullible person ⇒ they were no mugs where finance was concerned.

From its frequent appearance in British crossword puzzles, I was familiar with grass[5]being  an informal British term meaning:
  • (noun) a police informer; and
  • (verb) to inform the police of someone’s criminal activities or plans ⇒ (i) someone had grassed on the thieves; (ii) she threatened to grass me up.
This expression may derive from rhyming slang (grasshopper being rhyming slang for 'copper'). (show explanation )

Rhyming slang[5] is a type of slang that replaces words with rhyming words or phrases, typically with the rhyming element omitted. For example, butcher’s, short for butcher’s hook, means ‘look’ in Cockney rhyming slang.

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However, that seemingly would not necessarily imply that the a grass himself (or herself) is a crook — they are merely someone who informs on a crook. Therefore, I was prompted to search further to see if the term might have another slang meaning of which I was not aware. The answer, found in The Chambers Dictionary, is that while the term does not have another slang meaning, the word grass[1] denotes an informer (especially to the police on a fellow criminal). Further enlightenment came from the article What Is a Grass in British Slang and How Can You Be a Grass? which tells us that the term was first used in the criminal underworld and later moved into mainstream use.

Well, that partially resolved my confusion. But why specifically a "crook who sneaks"? Another visit to the dictionary shelf in my library and all became clear.

Sneak[5] (verb) is an informal British term (especially in children's use) meaning to inform an adult or person in authority of a companion's misdeeds; in other words, to tell tales ⇒ she sneaked on us.

19a   With nothing on // brownish-grey horse, backed last in race (4)

20a   Long-haired right-winger swallowing setter's // yarn (6,3,5)

"right-winger" = TORY (show explanation )

The abbreviation for Conservative may be either C.[10] or Con.[10].

A Tory[10] is a member or supporter of the Conservative Party in Great Britain or Canada.

Historically, a Tory[10] was a member of the English political party that opposed the exclusion of James, Duke of York from the royal succession (1679–80). Tory remained the label for subsequent major conservative interests until they gave birth to the Conservative Party in the 1830s.

The Conservative Party[5] is a a major British political party that emerged from the old Tory Party under Sir Robert Peel in the 1830s and 1840s. Since the Second World War, it has been in power 1951–64, 1970-74, and 1979–97. It governed in a coalition with the Liberal Democrats from 2010 until the general election of May 2015, in which it was returned with a majority.

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A shaggy-dog story[5] (or shaggy dog story[2]) is a long, rambling story or joke, typically one that is amusing only because it is absurdly inconsequential or pointless. The name supposedly originates from an anecdote involving a shaggy dog[12].

23a   Form of pollution /in/ sewer -- CIA involved initially (4,4)

The Central Intelligence Agency[5] (abbreviation CIA) is a federal agency in the US responsible for coordinating government intelligence activities. Established in 1947 and originally intended to operate only overseas, it has since also operated in the US.

25a   Bird, // duck, on turbulent Loire (6)

"duck" = O (show explanation )

In cricket, a duck[5] is a batsman’s score of nought [zero] ⇒ he was out for a duck. This is similar to the North American expression goose egg[5] meaning a zero score in a game.

In British puzzles, "duck" is used to indicate the letter "O" based on the resemblance of the digit "0" to this letter.

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Scratching the Surface
The Loire[5] is a river of west central France. France’s longest river, it rises in the Massif Central and flows 1,015 km (630 miles) north and west to the Atlantic at St-Nazaire.

If you read my comments on the "A on B" convention for across clues at 15a, you may recall that I referred to it as being "often ignored" — and we did not have to wait long for prove of that.

27a   Insect, // bumbling I wager (6)

28a   District of Paris // pulled out of by financial establishment (4,4)

The Left Bank[5] is a district of the city of Paris, situated on the left bank of the River Seine, to the south of the river. It is an area noted for its intellectual and artistic life.


1d   Poet reportedly // cheated (4)

Do[5] is an informal British term meaning to swindle ⇒ a thousand pounds for one set of photos — Jacqui had been done.

John Donne[5] (1572–1631) was an English poet and preacher. A metaphysical poet, he is most famous for his Satires and Elegies (circa 1590-9) and his love poems. He also wrote religious poems and, as dean of St Paul’s from 1621, was one of the most celebrated preachers of his age.

2d   Interference /in/ stable (6)

3d   Party /in/ power, lacking leadership (4)

4d   Old train company accommodating woman /as/ standard (6)

British Railways[7] (BR), which from 1965 traded as British Rail, was the operator of most of the rail transport in Great Britain between 1948 and 1997. It was formed from the nationalisation of the "Big Four" British railway companies and lasted until the gradual privatisation of British Rail, in stages between 1994 and 1997. On privatisation, responsibility for track, signalling and stations was transferred to Railtrack (which was later brought under public control as Network Rail) and that for trains to the train operating companies.

5d   Fried noodles // cold -- who cooked? Me, at home (4,4)

Chow mein[10] is a Chinese-American dish, consisting of mushrooms, meat, shrimps, etc, served with fried noodles.

6d   Diplomat, // a male, so sad, drunk in pub (10)

8d   Nightbird seen in Crosby // making deliveries (7)

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).

A delivery[5] is an act of throwing, bowling, or kicking a ball, especially a cricket ball.

Scratching the Surface
Crosby[7] is a coastal town in the Metropolitan Borough of Sefton, in Merseyside, England.

13d   Not friendly towards others, // worker is one in pub blowing top (10)

"worker" = ANT (show explanation )

The word "worker" and the phrase "social worker" are commonly used in cryptic crossword puzzles to clue ANT or BEE.

A worker[5] is a neuter or undeveloped female bee, wasp, ant, or other social insect, large numbers of which do the basic work of the colony.

In crossword puzzles, "worker" will most frequently be used to clue ANT and occasionally BEE but I have yet to see it used to clue WASP. Of course, "worker" is sometimes also used to clue HAND or MAN.

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Local[5] is an informal British term for a pub convenient to a person’s home ⇒ a pint in the local.

14d   Greek with // thousand pounds (5)

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 (show more ) usage.

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.

G is defined in various British dictionaries as follows:
  • Oxford Dictionaries: (North American informal) abbreviation for grand, a thousand dollars)[5] I was up nine Gs on the blackjack tables.;
  • Chambers 21st Century Dictionary: (North American slang) abbreviation for a grand, 1000 dollars[2];
  • Collins English Dictionary: (mainly US slang) a symbol for grand (a thousand dollars or pounds)[10] .
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16d   Make light of // theatrical piece, blue (4,4)

18d   Figure of female /makes one/ stop broadcasting (4,3)

I would say that, in his review on Big Dave's Crossword Blog, Mr Kitty includes too much in the definition. To "sign off" is to "stop broadcasting"; the words "makes one" are a link phrase between the wordplay and the definition and connote "produce for the person solving the puzzle".

21d   Outlying farm, // good place to practise shooting (6)

"good" = G (show explanation )

The abbreviation G[10] for good likely relates to its use in grading school assignments or tests.

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Grange[10] is a mainly British term for a farm, especially a farmhouse or country house with its various outbuildings.

22d   Attempt to secure one pound /for/ a hat (6)

For a change, "pound" refers to the unit of weight rather than the British currency, both of which derive from the Latin word libra. In ancient Rome, the libra[5] was a unit of weight, equivalent to 12 ounces (0.34 kg). It was the forerunner of the pound.

Trilby[5] is a British name for a soft felt hat with a narrow brim and indented crown.

24d   River/'s/ in the heart of Sweden, I learned (4)

If you count carefully, you will find that the river is precisely in the heart of "SwedeN I LEarned".

The Nile[5] is a river in eastern Africa, the longest river in the world, which rises in east central Africa near Lake Victoria and flows 6,695 km (4,160 miles) generally northwards through Uganda, South Sudan, Sudan, and Egypt to empty through a large delta into the Mediterranean.

26d   Welsh town fellow's eschewed // dressing (4)

Here, I spent a great deal of time and effort trying to find a four-letter Welsh town that is contained in a six-letter synonym for "fellow", presuming that "eschewed dressing" was an indication that the fellow was naked having thrown off his coverings (outer letters).

Flint[7] is a town in Flintshire, Wales, lying on the estuary of the River Dee.

Lint[5] is a fabric, originally of linen, with a raised nap on one side, used for dressing wounds ⇒ he smeared ointment on a strip of lint.
Key to Reference Sources: 

[1]   - The Chambers Dictionary, 11th Edition
[2]   - Search Chambers - (Chambers 21st Century Dictionary)
[3]   - TheFreeDictionary.com (American Heritage Dictionary)
[4]   - TheFreeDictionary.com (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] - CollinsDictionary.com (Collins English Dictionary)
[11] - TheFreeDictionary.com (Random House Kernerman Webster's College Dictionary)
[12] - CollinsDictionary.com (Webster’s New World College Dictionary)
Signing off for today — Falcon

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