ST 3109 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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ST 3109

Sunday Telegraph Cryptic No 3109

A full review by Rahmat Ali

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This puzzle was published on 23 May 2021

BD Rating – ******

Greetings from Kolkata. Once again, I have the pleasure of writing the full review of a Sunday puzzle for your kind reading and feedback. Dada has given us a very enjoyable and marvellous puzzle with some brilliant clues.

While delving deep into the broader details of GI or the ‘non-ant’ part of the answer to 22a, I came to learn about the evolutionary history of the two-letter abbreviation. As early as the early 20th century, GI, stamped on military trash cans and buckets by the logistics services of the US Armed Forces, stood for ‘galvanised iron’ from which these items were made. During World War I, US soldiers sardonically referred to incoming artillery shells as GI cans. The definition of GI even broadened to be interpreted as ‘Government Issue’ or ‘General Issue’, signifying the general items of equipment of soldiers and airmen. It was further accepted as ‘Ground Infantry’. GI came into widespread use with the start of the Selective Service System in 1940 and gradually replaced the term ‘Doughboy’ that started in the 1860s to describe Civil War soldiers and used in WW I. Soldiers in WW II began referring to themselves as GIs. Cartoonist Dave Breger, who was drafted into the Army in 1941, coined the name with the comic strip titled ‘GI Joe’ that was published in a military magazine. GI became a common term for the US soldiers. It was also used as an adjective having to do with the US Army or US Air Force! In 1944, President Franklin Roosevelt signed the Servicemen’s Readjustment Act, which became celebrated as the GI Bill. In 1945, General Dwight D. Eisenhower commended the truly heroic deeds of GI Joe et al. In 1964, Hasbro, a US toy company, deputed ‘GI Joe’, a military-themed line of action figures for boys.

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1a    Expert on defending old fool (7)
BUFFOON: BUFF (expert) and ON from the clue taking inside or protecting (defending) the abbreviation O (old) in a charade

5a    Vagrant longed to tour a county of Ireland (7)
DONEGAL: An anagram (vagrant) of LONGED around (to tour) A from the clue to arrive at the definition, named after the town of the same name in Ireland meaning ‘fort of the foreigners’

9a    Device diminishing the writer? (6,9)
PENCIL SHARPENER: A cryptic way of arriving at the definition which is making smaller (diminishing) the pencil (writer) while sharpening it

10a    Country that was my autocracy? (4)
IRAN: The definition as the name of a country is cryptically arrived at through the indication that I RAN (was my autocracy)

11a    Open mouth consuming first of ripened fruit (5)
GRAPE: GAPE (open mouth) taking inside (consuming) the first letter of (first of) R[I][P][E][N][E][D]

12a    Short message, cute (4)
TWEE: Most of the letters of (short) TWEE[T] (message) posted on Twitter

15a    Spring exam official in the city? (7)
MAYORAL: A charade of MAY (spring) being the last month of the season and ORAL (exam) leading to the definition of an adjective meaning related to the municipal boss of the urban area

16a    Often heroic, opener dismissed (7)
NIGHTLY: [K]NIGHTLY (heroic) having the first letter K (opener) removed (dismissed) leading to the definition meaning repeatedly or again and again or happening every day or every night

17a    Expertise for you and I takes two seconds (7)
PROWESS: The Latin word PRO (for), followed by WE (you and I) that has beside it (takes) SS (two seconds), all in a charade

19a    Saw covered in roundish marks (7)
SPOTTED: Double definition; the first meaning perceived with the eyes or discerned visually and the second meaning bedecked or smeared a neat surface with patches or spots of round marks different in colour from the surface around it.

21a    Edible assortment, tasty snacks for starters? (4)
EATS: The words Edible Assortment Tasty Snacks having their first letters (starters) and serving as an &lit clue as a whole

22a    Massive pair of soldiers (5)
GIANT: A combo of GI or Ground Infantry as one of the soldiers of the United States army and the ANT as one of the soldiers of army ants (pair of soldiers)

23a    List in pieces, everyone can see (4)
MENU: A charade of MEN (pieces) as in chess and a tag or certification for a film, meant for people of any age and standing for ‘unrestricted’ or U (everyone can see)

26a    Pa miscounted and played joker (5-2,8)
STAND-UP COMEDIAN: An anagram (played) of PA MISCOUNTED AND leading to the definition of an entertainer communicating to a live audience, speaking directly to them through a microphone

27a    Substance with large molecules put back on my cut (7)
POLYMER: The abbreviation for the preposition regarding RE (on), MY from the clue and LOP (cut) placed in a reverse order (put back)

28a    Check on boy reversed — outrage (7)
SCANDAL: SCAN (check) placed before (on) LAD (boy) written from backwards (reversed)


1d    Religious ceremony requiring bread is held in outskirts of Trondheim (7)
BAPTISM: A large, soft and flat roll called BAP (bread), followed by the outermost letters (outskirts) of T[R][O][N][D][H][E][I]M with IS from the clue taken inside (held in)

2d    Aficionado totally fab, so amazing in supporters’ game? (7,8)
FANTASY FOOTBALL: FAN (aficionado) followed by an anagram (amazing) of TOTALLY FAB SO leading to the definition of a competition in which participants select imaginary teams from among the players in a league and score points according to the actual performance of their players

3d    US state I see, I love (4)
OHIO: The common expression of acknowledgement OH (I see), I from the clue and the score for zero in tennis, represented by O (love) in a charade

4d    Engineer lost in going round route initially — it’s one of two passages (7)
NOSTRIL: An anagram (engineer) of LOST IN embracing (going round) R[O][U][T][E], being the first letter (initially)

5d    Fallen container, dry (7)
DEADPAN: A charade of DEAD (fallen) when referring to a heroic soldier killed in battle and PAN (container) leading to the definition meaning expressionless or emotionless

6d    Some urchin, a perfect scruff (4)
NAPE: Hidden inside or part of (some) urchiN A PErfect arrives at the definition of the back of a person’s neck

7d    Picture where straw house would be after hurricane? (4,4,3,4)
GONE WITH THE WIND: Double definition; a cryptic way of arriving at the name of a 1939 American epic historical romance movie (first definition) by shouting the inevitable fate of a straw house after a cyclonic storm of great violence (second definition)

8d    Generally how 22 Across is perceived? (7)
LARGELY: Double definition; the first meaning in most cases and the second being the obvious reply as to how the answer GIANT as in 22a is seen

13d    Primp up or primp down? (5)
PREEN: Double definition; the first meaning (of a person) to make someone or oneself appear more visually attractive or appealing, specifically with regard to upper features, by combing, brushing, adjusting etc., the second meaning (of a bird) to clean and arrange its feathers with its beak

14d    Residence in Greenland primarily, with little room? (5)
IGLOO: I[N] G[R][E][E][N][L][A][N][D] with their first letters (primarily), followed by (with) LOO (little room) as in a card game and altogether serving as an &lit clue

17d    Fourth Estate prepared for exercise (5-2)
PRESS-UP: The media or PRESS (Fourth Estate) and UP (prepared) in a charade

18d    Item of footwear, skate perhaps? (7)
SLIPPER: Double definition; the first, a loose indoor shoe that can be easily slipped on is cryptically connected to the second, a sole or sandal mounted on a blade for moving or slipping on ice that can somewhat perform like the runner of a sledge

19d    Like snakes, four having shed skin inside hole (7)
SINUOUS: [F]OU[R] without the outermost letters (having shed skin) taken inside (inside) SINUS (hole), leading to the definition meaning serpentine or having many curves and turns or distinctive feature of the twisting motion of a snake

20d    Face carrying pot daily (7)
DIURNAL: DIAL (face) of a watch or clock containing (carrying) URN (pot) in a charade

24d    Spherical food shaped the wrong way (4)
EDAM: MADE (shaped) going upwards as reversal (the wrong way), leading to the definition meaning a round Dutch cheese, typically pale yellow with a red wax coating

25d    Greek character in private blew up (4)
BETA: Part of or hidden inside (in) privATE Blew going up (up) as a reversal in down clue

There were so many clues that delighted me – 10a, 22a, 27a, 1d, 4d, 5d, 7d, 14d and 24d, but certainly 9a to me was the chosen one. Thanks to Dada for the lovely entertainment and to BD for the encouragement. Looking forward to being here again. Have a nice day.