I knew it was going to be a bad day as soon as I saw today's grid - sporting more than its share of four-letter words. I threw in the towel, having penciled in one very unlikely possibility at 10a and without having any candidate whatsoever for the slot at 2d. And to top it off, I was to find out that I had overlooked an unsolved clue.
I had even cheated inadvertently at 6a, as I had taken an early peek at Big Dave's site for guidance on 14d and couldn't help but see Tilsit's intro dealing with the controversy concerning 6a.
Some possibly unfamiliar abbreviations, people, places, words and expressions used in today's puzzle
brown bread - Cockney rhyming slang for dead (Ref: Tilsit's review at Big Dave's blog)
Chase the Ace - a card game
earner - noun 2 slang an easy and sometimes dishonest way of making money.
Jack the Lad - noun informal a brash, cocky young man (ORIGIN nickname of Jack Sheppard, 18th-century thief)
nous - noun 1 Brit. informal practical intelligence
public school - noun 1 (in the UK) a private fee-paying secondary school. 2 (chiefly in North America) a school supported by public funds.
tout - noun (also ticket tout) Brit. a person who buys up tickets for an event to resell them at a profit
Tilsit's review of today's puzzle may be found at Big Dave's Telegraph Crossword Blog [DT 26053].
Commentary on Today's Puzzle
6a Victim was The Third Man (4)
According to Big Dave's blog, this clue originally appeared in the U.K. as:
6a His victim was The Third Man (4)
which had Cain and Abel reversing their roles in this Biblical drama. Judging by the chatter at Big Dave's site, the error was corrected on the Daily Telegraph's online site at some time during the day of publication (although the puzzle presumably was incorrect in the print edition). Amazingly enough, the error has also been corrected in the syndicated version, which is the first time that I can recall seeing that happen.
9a Perhaps between 3 and 7 years old represented thus ... (3-7)
It is an interesting coincidence, but only yesterday the Ottawa Citizen published a Sunday London Times cryptic crossword puzzle containing a clue with a leading ellipsis (see here for my review) and today we get in the National Post a Daily Telegraph puzzle with a trailing ellipsis.
On several occasions, I have encountered puzzles with paired ellipses (one at the end of one clue and the other at the start of the following clue) which indicate that the two clues are linked in some manner (I believe this device generally, if not always, indicates that the wordplay encompasses both clues).
In the Sunday London Times puzzle yesterday, the leading ellipsis was used to show that the clue number was part of the clue. The clue was:
- 4 ... am ill with child? (7,8)
In today's puzzle, the trailing ellipsis is used to show that the numeration is being incorporated into the clue. Thus the clue is to be read as "Perhaps between 3 and 7 years old represented thus: (3-7)". The solution is AGE-BRACKET, shown by the range "3-7" with the additional clue of it being enclosed in parentheses (a type of bracket).
10a Like the onset of WW2 intelligence (4)
NOUS is a British term for intelligence (not of the military kind). After discovering from Tilsit's review that this is the solution, I had a very dim recollection of having seen this term in a crossword at some time in the distant past. However, it certainly didn't pop to mind today. Tilsit explains the wordplay well in his review. In a desperate last-gasp attempt, I had made an extremely feeble stab at an answer with TOPS (the first few letters of Top Secret).
15a Where you might find 5 under control (2,4)
In this clue, the numeral 5 is a cross reference to the solution to 5d (which is THE ACE). You might find "the ace" IN HAND which can also mean under control. There may also be a reference here to card games (e.g., bridge), since a player is said to control a suit when holding the outstanding high card in that suit.
16a Source of shady income for only the middle-class? (6)
Although I totally missed the wordplay here, I did get the correct solution (mainly from the checking letters and the "source of ... income" definition). Not being cognizant of the British slang term earner (an easy and sometimes dishonest way of making money), the presence of the word shady was a complete mystery to me. I also missed the middle-class (middle of lEARNERs) wordplay.
21a Vulgar one ain't from a public school! (7)
Just remember that a public school in Britain would be called a private school in North America!
2d Look - is this a wind-up? (4)
I obviously threw in the towel too early, as it is extremely embarrassing not to have found the solution to this clue. I guess I exhausted myself on 10a and had no fight left to tackle this clue (pardon the pun). As a result, the setter was easily able to reel me in.
4d Miracle taxman OK to fiddle! (11,4)
There is a rule for solving cryptic crossword puzzles that says "Ignore punctuation." There is a corollary to this rule that states "There is an exception to every rule."
12d Solved buying an admission ticket? ______ ____, he didn't charge much! (7,3)
Tilsit says that the two blanks in the clue should be of length 6 letters and 4 letters respectively, and so I have typed them that way (apparently, as published in the U.K., one could actually discern the specific number of blank spaces in each word). However, as near as I can determine, the clue (as printed in the National Post, merely two continuous blank lines) has them at 7 letters and 3 letters. Although I won't claim to have perfectly understood the wordplay in this clue, I did see the THOUGH TOUT bit.
13d Tend to go up or down (7)
Initially I thought this might be a palindrome (a word or phrase that reads the same backward as forward). However, that turned out not to be the case. An example of a palindrome is the word level which might be clued (in a down clue) as:
- Not inclined to go up or down (5)
I was so convinced that this clue must be producing the solution DAIRYMAN (anagram of I AM RANDY) that I actually snuck a peek at Big Dave's site to see if there might be an error in the puzzle (as this solution would be too long to fit the grid).
20d Northern Ireland party about to enforce exile (6)
I found the correct solution mainly through the definition (to enforce exile), but neglected to verify my take on the wordplay before visiting Big Dave's site. I see from Tilsit's review that I had managed to overlook the obvious and had concocted a rather imaginative alternative explanation, which may give some a bit of a chuckle. I had supposed that BANISH might be an anagram (about) of BANSHI (which I had wrongly supposed might be an alternative spelling of BANSHEE). I was interpreting party in the sense of a person rather than an occasion.
23d I'm disturbed by some dismissals from security (4)
When I threw in the towel, I didn't realize that this clue was still hiding in the corner unsolved. It's probably just as well, as I am sure I could have spent an endless amount of time on it without ever figuring out the rather obscure cricket terminology employed.
Signing off for today - Falcon