Monday, May 22, 2017

Monday, May 22, 2017 — DT 28378 (Victoria Day Bonus Puzzle)


It being a holiday, the National Post has not printed an edition today. To provide you with a bit of mental stimulation between chores at the cottage or in your garden, here is DT 28378 which I expect the National Post to skip. However, should the editors depart from their established pattern, you may get an early start on Tuesday's puzzle.

Happy Victoria Day to all my readers.

Puzzle at a Glance
Puzzle Number in The Daily Telegraph
DT 28378
Publication Date in The Daily Telegraph
Saturday, March 18, 2017
Link to Full Review
Big Dave's Crossword Blog [DT 28378 – Hints]
Big Dave's Crossword Blog [DT 28378 – Review]
Big Dave's Crossword Blog Review Written By
Big Dave (Hints)
gnomethang (Review)
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
As this was a Saturday "Prize Puzzle" in Britain, there are two entries related to it on Big Dave's Crossword Blog — the first, posted on the date of publication, contains hints for selected clues while the second is a full review issued following the entry deadline for the contest. The vast majority of reader comments will generally be found attached to the "hints" posting with a minimal number — if any — accompanying the full review.


Aside from one clue, this puzzle did not cause me a great deal of difficulty. However, at 18a — despite the solution being blatantly obvious — I could not for the longest time see how to parse the 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.


1a   Almost all of Georgian city /is/ imposing (6)

Augusta[7] is a city in the US state of Georgia that is best known for hosting The Masters golf tournament each spring. Membership at the Augusta National Golf Course where the tournament is held is widely considered to be the most exclusive in the sport of golf across the world.

4a   Italian with list reflected by silver // stirrer (8)

"Italian" = IT (show explanation )

This cluing might be explained in a couple of ways:
  • It.[10] is an abbreviation for Italian or Italy.

  • Italian[10] is another name for Italian vermouth. It[5] is an informal, dated British term for Italian vermouth ⇒ he poured a gin and it.
hide explanation

Rota[5] is a British term for a list showing when each of a number of people has to do a particular job ⇒ a cleaning rota.

The symbol for the chemical element silver is Ag[5] from Latin argentum.

10a   Most shrewd // about large mountain (9)

Mount Everest[5] is a mountain in the Himalayas, on the border between Nepal and Tibet. Rising to 8,848 m (29,028 ft), it is the highest mountain in the world; it was first climbed in 1953 by Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay.

11a   Moor that is in place seen heading west (3,2)

Scratching the Surface
While there are a couple of opportunities for misdirection with the definition in this clue, neither is likely to distract one for long.

Moor[5] is a chiefly British term for a tract of open uncultivated upland, typically covered with heather.

A Moor[5] is a member of a northwest African Muslim people of mixed Berber and Arab descent. In the 8th century they conquered the Iberian peninsula, but were finally driven out of their last stronghold in Granada at the end of the 15th century.

12a   Nobleman pinning one on // settler (7)

peer[5] is a member of the nobility in Britain or Ireland, comprising the ranks of duke, marquess, earl, viscount, and baron.

13a   Puzzle /of/ indefinite number on bonus (7)

The letter n[10] is used (especially in mathematics) as a symbol to represent an indefinite number (of) ⇒ there are n objects in a box.

14a   Written messages // attack doing volte-face (5)

15a   South American writers first to evoke // what Hitchcock wanted? (8)

Sir Alfred Hitchcock[7] (1899–1980) was an English film director. Acclaimed in Britain for films such as The Thirty-Nine Steps (1935), he moved to Hollywood in 1939. Among his later works, notable for their suspense and their technical ingenuity, are the thrillers Strangers on a Train (1951), Psycho (1960), and The Birds (1963).

18a   Just released, // with nitrogen in mixture (5-3)

Although the correct solution was virtually jumping off the page, I swear it took me as long to parse this clue as it did to complete the entire remainder of the puzzle. The "nitrogen" was obvious but the rest of the wordplay eluded me for the longest time.

The symbol for the chemical element nitrogen is N[5].

20a   Care of the French when adding last of oily // fish (5)

"the French" = LE (show explanation )

In French, the masculine singular form of the definite article is le[8].

hide explanation

Coley[10] is a British name for any of various edible fishes, especially the coalfish.

23a   Mediterranean meal // dished out on plate (7)

This is meal[5] in the sense of flour.

Polenta[10] is maize [corn] flour as used in Italian cooking; in other words, cornmeal maize is used, more coarsely ground, in Italy's versatile polenta.

Here and There
Maize[5] is the British name for what is known as corn[5] in North America (as well as Australia and New Zealand). In Britain, corn[5] refers to the chief cereal crop of a district, especially (in England) wheat or (in Scotland) oats.

While the definition given above might well lead one to believe that cornmeal is synonymous with flour ground from maize, that is not the case. From a British perspective, cornmeal[5] is meal made from corn, especially (in the US) maize flour or (in Scotland) oatmeal.

Nevertheless, in the UK, maize for human consumption is known as sweetcorn[5], the core of an ear of maize, to which the kernals are attached, is called a corncob[10], and when eaten straight from the cob it is referred to as corn on the cob[5].

25a   Fight involving a duke, // one that bores (7)

"duke" = D (show explanation )

A duke[5] (abbreviation D.[10]) is a male holding the highest hereditary title in the British and certain other peerages*.

* The peerage[5] is the nobility in Britain or Ireland, comprising the ranks of duke or duchess, marquess or marchioness, earl or countess, viscount or viscountess, and baron or baroness.

hide explanation

A bradawl[5] is a tool for boring holes, resembling a small, sharpened screwdriver.

26a   Short row about winning // flower (5)

The lupin[5] (North American lupine) is any of several species of plant of the pea family with deeply divided leaves and tall colourful tapering spikes of flowers.

27a   What's missing from pay packet /may be/ nonsensical to Mexican (6,3)

28a   Some lover a wedding // intimidated (8)

29a   Poems about small area /in/ old grain port (6)

Odessa[7] or Odesa is the third most populous city of Ukraine and a major tourism center, seaport and transportation hub located on the northwestern shore of the Black Sea. Although the modern city was founded only in 1794 — relatively recently by European standards — by a decree of Russian Empress Catherine the Great, the Greeks had established a port on the site by the middle of the 6th century BC. Following the end of the Crimean War of 1853-1856, Odessa became Russia's largest grain-exporting port. Ukraine[7] has long been a global breadbasket because of its extensive, fertile farmlands and is one of the world's largest grain exporters [a major portion of which presumably flows through the port of Odessa].


1d   Gangster, // unaccompanied, carrying detonator (2,6)

Al Capone[5] (1899–1947), nicknamed  Scarface (show explanation ), was an American gangster of Italian descent. He dominated organized crime in Chicago in the 1920s and was indirectly responsible for many murders, including the St Valentine’s Day Massacre.

Capone[7] was born in Brooklyn (New York) and began his life of crime in New York City before moving to Chicago. Capone inadvertently insulted a woman while working the door at a Brooklyn night club and was slashed by her brother Frank Gallucio. The wounds led to the nickname that Capone loathed: "Scarface". Capone's boss, racketeer Frankie Yale, insisted that Capone apologize to Gallucio, and later Capone hired him as a bodyguard. When photographed, Capone hid the scarred left side of his face, saying that the injuries were war wounds. Capone was called "Snorky", a term for a sharp dresser, by his closest friends.

hide explanation

2d   Stops burning // leaves (4,3)

3d   'Boy's Own' dropping Western // writer from Scotland (9)

In his review on Big Dave's Crossword Blog, gnomethang states that the "W [is] for Western (the abbreviation presumably from GWR – Great Western Railway)".

However, we do not need to jump through such hoops to justify the abbreviation as it is found in its own right in The Chambers Dictionary. In fact, I have long understood that it is not considered acceptable to use an abbreviation that exists only as part of an acronym and does not stand on its own.

Robert Louis Stevenson[5] (1850–1894) was a Scottish novelist, poet, and travel writer. Stevenson made his name with the adventure story Treasure Island (1883). Other notable works: The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde and Kidnapped (both 1886).

Scratching the Surface
Boys' Own[7] (or Boy's Own or Boys Own) is the title of a varying series of similarly titled magazines, story papers, and newsletters published at various times and by various publishers, in the United Kingdom and the United States, from the mid-19th century to the mid-20th century, for pre-teen and teenage boys.

5d   Take retaliatory action // to recover lost property? (3,4,3,4)

The latter part of the clue (marked with a dotted underline) is a literal interpretation of the figurative expression which constitutes the solution to the clue.

Get one's own back[5] is an informal expression meaning to have one's revenge or retaliate.

6d   Something that flits up and down, a new // moon (5)

Titan[5] is the largest satellite of Saturn (diameter 5,150 km), the fifteenth closest to the planet, discovered by C. Huygens in 1655. It is unique in having a hazy atmosphere of nitrogen, methane, and oily hydrocarbons.

Here and There
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.

7d   Order is about right // support for climbers (7)

8d   Meal/'s/ about finished (6)

9d   Typical // travelling salesman (14)

16d   Called /as/ former partner demanded (9)

17d   Awful delays restricting team? // Reading affected by this (8)

Eleven[5] is the number of players in* a cricket[7] side [team] or an Association football[7] [soccer] team — and is often used as a metonym for such a team ⇒ at cricket I played in the first eleven.

* Note that, in Britain, a player is "in a side" rather than "on a team" as one would say in North America.

Scratching the Surface
Reading Football Club[7] is a professional association football [soccer] club based in Reading, Berkshire, England. The team play in the Championship, the second tier of English football.

19d   Pearls cast before swine ultimately /causes/ setback (7)

Scratching the Surface
To cast pearls before swine[12] is to present something of great interest or value to someone incapable of appreciating it.

21d   Sheds // original bit of light on teas prepared (4-3)

22d   Handsome young man /may get/ Oscar after a ballot (6)

Oscar[5] is a code word representing the letter O, used in radio communication.

In Greek mythology, Apollo[5] is a god, son of Zeus and Leto and brother of Artemis. He is associated with music, poetic inspiration, archery, prophecy, medicine, pastoral life, and the sun.

In modern usage, apollo [3,4,11] has come to mean a strikingly handsome youth.

Scratching the Surface
An Oscar[5] (trademark in the US) is the nickname for a gold statuette given as an award by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, presented annually since 1928 for achievement in the film industry in various categories.

24d   Jack in girl, // trained assassin (5)

"jack" = J (show explanation )

J[5] is an abbreviation for jack that is used in describing play in card games.

hide explanation

A ninja[5] (Japanese, literally 'spy') is a person skilled in the Japanese art of ninjutsu[5], the traditional Japanese art of stealth, camouflage, and sabotage, developed in feudal times for espionage and now practised as a martial art. Chambers 21st Century Dictionary defines ninja[2] as (especially in medieval Japan) one of a body of professional assassins trained in martial arts and stealth.
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)
[13] - (Macmillan Dictionary)
Signing off for today — Falcon

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for posting this entertaining puzzle, Falcon. Some dandy double-definitions.