DT 30491 (full review) – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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DT 30491 (full review)

Daily Telegraph Cryptic No 30491

A full review by Rahmat Ali

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This puzzle was published on 23rd Dec 2023

BD Rating – Difficulty ** Enjoyment ****

Greetings from Kolkata. A pleasant and delightful Saturday puzzle from the setter that I enjoyed solving and thereafter writing a review of the same for your kind perusal and valuable feedback.

I was eager to know the etymology of ‘portcullis’ the answer to the clue of 11a and had to surf the net. Portcullis is derived from Old French porte coleice and now porte coulisse which means ‘sliding door’; porte meaning ‘door’ coming from porta in Latin and coulisse meaning ‘slide’. A portcullis is a heavy, vertically closing door or gate typically found in medieval fortifications, consisting of a latticed grille made of wood and metal, which slides down grooves inset within each jamb of the gateway. Portcullises fortified the entrances to many medieval castles, securely closing off the castle during the time of any attack or siege. Every portcullis was mounted in vertical grooves in the walls of the castle that could be raised or lowered quickly with the help of chains or ropes attached to an internal winch. Portcullises have an advantage over standard gates in that they could be closed soon by a single guard in an hour of crisis. Often, two portcullises to the main gateway would be used. The one closer to the inside would be closed first followed by the one farther away. This was used to trap the enemy, and often, burning wood or fire-heated sand would be dropped onto them from the roof or murder-holes. Arrowslits in the sides of the walls also aided the archers and crossbowmen to kill the trapped group of attackers. Today, portcullises in working conditions in the United Kingdom survive at the Tower of London, Monk Bar in York, Hever Castle in Kent and at the hotel conversion, Amberley Castle and Edinburgh Castle.

The homophonic ‘Derry Air’ as the consequence of the wordplay and serving as a guide to the answer to the clue of 17d is the Irish folk tune that was first recorded in the nineteenth century and a short version for its original title ‘Londonderry Air’ that came from the name of County Londonderry; its largest city being Londonderry, the official name of Derry, that is also the second-largest city of Northern Island. The tune is played at the victory sporting anthem of Northern Ireland at the Commonwealth Games. The title was collected by Jane Ross of Limavady in the county and submitted to music collector George Petrie that was published in a book called ‘The Ancient Music of Ireland’ in 1855. Some Irish nationalists and others, with a political and cultural preference for the name associated with Irish nationalism, support the nationalist perspective of calling the song ‘Londonderry Air’ by the name ‘Derry Air’ instead.

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1a    Hour with Oscar in local, hammered: the cause? (7)
ALCOHOL: A combo of H (hour) as the abbreviation for hour and (with) O (Oscar) as the letter represented by Oscar in the NATO phonetic alphabet placed inside (in) an anagram (hammered) of LOCAL guides to the definition of a liquid generated by the fermentation of sugar or other saccharine matter and forming the intoxicating element of fermented liquors that is regarded as the cause of chronic diseases and other serious problems including high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, liver disease, digestive problems and cancer of the breast, mouth, throat, oesophagus, voice box, liver, colon and rectum

5a    Fish, net and deck (7)
GARLAND: A charade of GAR (fish) as a pike-like fish with a long, slender beaked head and LAND (net) as to succeed in obtaining or achieving something desirable, especially in the face of competition takes to the definition of a verb meaning to deck or decorate with a wreath of flowers and leaves

9a    Wear armour regularly showing flaw (5)
ERROR: The regular or alternate letters (regularly) in wEaR aRmOuR leads to the definition of a noun meaning blunder, flaw or mistake

10a    Balkan native welcoming to New Englander (9)
BOSTONIAN: BOSNIAN (Balkan native) as a native or inhabitant of the Balkan country Bosnia and Herzegovina taking in (welcoming) TO from the clue takes to the definition of a native or inhabitant of the city of Boston, capital of Massachusetts, one of the six states of the north-eastern part of the United States that is together referred to as New England

11a    Restriction on entry that may be lifted? (10)
PORTCULLIS: A cryptic definition of a grating that can be let down to close a gateway of a castle, fortress etc during time of attack or siege

12a    Fine weapon — Old MacDonald had one (4)
FARM: A charade of F (fine) as the abbreviation for fine as on lead pencil and ARM (weapon) as a weapon or a means of offence or defence guides to the definition of an area of land and its buildings, used for growing crops and rearing animals, which also serves as the opening line of a kids’ song “Old MacDonald had a farm”

14a    Bridging loose to start with, cracked teeth wobble — not fair! (5,3,4)
BELOW THE BELT: Covering (bridging) the starting or initial letter (to start with) of L[OOSE] with an anagram (cracked) of TEETH WOBBLE takes to the definition of a phrasal adjective meaning unjust, unreasonable or unfair

18a    For jocular remarks one’s devoured by diabolical serpent, alas! (12)
PLEASANTRIES: The definition for jocular remarks or facetious utterances or tricks is arrived at from I (one) as the Roman numeral for one that is taken inside (devoured) by an anagram (diabolical) of SERPENT, ALAS

21a    Ambience you’ll find in restaurant (4)
AURA: Part of or hidden inside (you’ll find in) [REST]AURA[NT] leads to the definition of a noun referring to a distinctive atmosphere or quality that seems to surround and be generated by a person, thing or place

22a    Connoisseur‘s item offered at lower price first? (10)
SPECIALIST: A charade of SPECIAL (item offered at lower price) as a dish offered exceptionally as an addition to a restaurant menu, often at a lower price and IST (first) as representing the ordinal number ‘first’ in which I symbolises the Roman numeral for one guides to the definition of a person whose work, interest of expertise is concentrated on a particular subject

25a    Director to finish around four (9)
EXECUTIVE: EXECUTE (to finish) as to carry out, perform or finish an action rapidly placed about (around) IV (four) as the Roman numeral for four takes to the definition of a person with senior managerial responsibility in a business, a director being an example of one such

26a    One might be thrown in dryer (5)
TOWEL: Double definition; the second denoting a piece of absorbent cloth or paper for drying the body that takes to the first referring to the piece of cloth that is thrown into the ring by a second or a person who acts as an assistant or trainer to a boxer or duellist to mean that his boxer or duellist wants to stop the fight, that is to surrender or accept or concede defeat

27a    Related to dance, this needs feet moving! (7)
TREADLE: An anagram (to dance) of RELATED takes to the definition of a lever or the like worked by continual action of the foot to impart motion to a machine

28a    Model soldier likely to drop — almost dead (7)
PARAGON: The definition of a model of perfection or supreme excellence is arrived at from PARA (soldier likely to drop) as the abbreviation for paratrooper who is a soldier trained to be dropped from an aircraft with a parachute and most of the letters (almost) of GON[E] (dead) as expired or dead or no longer in existence


1d    Area with sign about double parking in Syrian city? (6)
ALEPPO: The definition of a city of Syria that is regarded as one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world is reached from A (area) as the abbreviation for area and (with) LEO (sign) as the fifth sign of the zodiac placed around (about) PP (double parking) as cryptically the double representation of P that is the abbreviation for parking

2d    Copper linked with exquisite poison (6)
CURARE: A charade of CU (copper) as the chemical symbol for copper and (linked with) RARE (exquisite) as unusually good or remarkable or marked by unusual quality, merit or appeal leads to the definition of a paralysing poison extracted from the bark of South American trees like Chondodendron or Strychnos, originally used by South American Indians to coat the tips of arrows, later used as muscle relaxant and in surgery

3d    This Camembert is not too bad (4,6)
HARD CHEESE: Camembert as a soft, rich, creamy cheese with a whitish rind, originally made near Camembert, in Normandy, France is somewhat lacking in the clue that refers to its contrary attribute with CHEESE (this Camembert) that is HARD (is not) as not having the usual consistency of softness, that is HARD CHEESE, leading to the definition of a phrase meaning bad or tough luck or a difficult, unpleasant or adverse situation or indicating lack of sympathy for someone’s adverse situation, any of which is of course too bad

4d    Smear with ink? (5)
LIBEL: A cryptic definition of a verb meaning to proceed against someone by producing a written complaint is arrived at from to defame (smear) by a written accusation (with ink)

5d    Worker good when in better shape? (3-6)
GAS-FITTER: A charade of G (good) as the abbreviation for good, AS (when) as an adverb expressing while or when and FITTER (in better shape) as an adjective in the comparative degree indicating in better health or in better or more suitable condition takes to the definition of a worker whose job is to fit up the pipes etc for gas appliances

6d    Crowd disturbance — island in decay (4)
RIOT: I (island) as the abbreviation for island placed inside (in) ROT (decay) as to decay or cause to decay by the action of bacteria and fungi guides to the definition of a violent disturbance of the peace by a crowd

7d    Adult male in jail, set up, given life (8)
ANIMATED: A (adult) as the abbreviation for adult signifying the rating of motion pictures meant for only the adult viewers in some countries followed by M (male) as the abbreviation for male placed inside (in) DETAIN (jail) as to put behind bars that is seen going up (set up) as a reversal in the down clue takes to the definition of a verb in the past tense meaning brought to life or given life to or breathed life into

8d    Explosive made with tiny fragments (8)
DYNAMITE: An anagram (fragments) of MADE and (with) TINY guides to the definition of an explosive consisting of absorbent matter, such as porous silica, saturated with nitroglycerine

13d    Supporter using muscle to protect new player (10)
BENEFACTOR: The definition of a person who gives money or other help to a person or organisation for a cause, usually without expecting back anything in return is arrived at using BEEF (muscle) as an informal term for human muscle to safeguard or keep inside (protect) N (new) as the abbreviation for new and followed by ACTOR (player) as a person who plays the part of a character in a movie, play, television show etc

15d    One nil up, I help distraught Reds fan? (9)
OENOPHILE: A combo of ONE from the clue and O (nil) as the letter representing nothing or zero going upwards (up) as a reversal in the down clue followed by an anagram (distraught) of I HELP takes to the definition of a connoisseur or lover of wine, an example of which can be a fan of red, that is referred to as red wine

16d    Dad backing mum perhaps is obvious (8)
APPARENT: PA (dad) as a childish or familiar word for father that is coming back (backing) and PARENT (mum perhaps) as perhaps a person’s mother or father guide to the definition of an adjective meaning obvious or clearly visible or understood

17d    Parisian behind Irish tune on the radio? (8)
DERRIÈRE: The definition of the French word for ‘behind’ that could be heard in Paris, its capital is arrived at from a homophone heard by the audience (on the radio) of DERRY AIR (Irish tune) as a well-known Irish folk tune or melody

19d    Somebody‘s large whiskey — one gallon! (6)
BIGWIG: A charade of BIG (large) as large or great, W (whiskey) as the letter represented by Whiskey in the NATO phonetic alphabet, I (one) as the Roman numeral for one and G (gallon) as the abbreviation for gallon guides to the definition of a colloquial term for a powerful person or a person of some importance

20d    Infamous red mark — lipstick initially involved (6)
STALIN: STAIN (mark) as a coloured patch or dirty mark that is difficult to remove having included (involved) the initial or beginning letter (initially) of L[IPSTICK] takes to the definition of the Soviet revolutionary, politician and dictator who led the Soviet Union from 1924 until his death in 1953 as the general secretary of the Communist Party and premier of the Soviet Union and who was infamous for his cruel regime with a very high number of executions occurring under his rule and his role in World War II when his supporters encouraged Nazi Germany to start the war

23d    Toady caught with revolutionary noble (5)
CREEP: C (caught) as the abbreviation for caught by as in cricket and (with) PEER (noble) as a member of the nobility in Britain or Ireland, comprising the rank of a duke, marquess, earl, viscount or baron that is overturning (revolutionary) as a reversal in the down clue leads to the definition of a person who behaves obsequiously in the hope of advancement

24d    Delightful day for Kitty (4)
FUND: A charade of FUN (delightful) as providing amusement or delight and D (day) as the abbreviation for day guides to the definition of a sum of money saved or made available for a particular purpose

The clues that I liked in this puzzle were 10a, 11a, 14a, 3d, 4d, 15d, 17d, 19d and 20d; 17d being the best of the lot. My prayers to the Almighty for the eternal rest and peace of BD and my thanks to the setter for the entertainment and to Gazza for the assistance. Looking forward to being here again. Have a nice day and best wishes to all for a Very Happy and Prosperous New Year 2024.

4 comments on “DT 30491 (full review)
Leave your own comment 

  1. Thanks as always for the informative review Rahmat Ali. I found this one quite a difficult solve and couldn’t quite finish despite the earlier helpful hints from crypticsue. A good mental workout though all the same.

    A happy 2024 to you :)

    1. Thank you so much, Adam, for liking my review and finding it informative. Thank you also for the new year’s greetings. I also wish you a happy year 2024.

  2. I didn’t get 27a and therefore didn’t have a “d” for the correct answer in treadle.
    I’d got “cute” for 24d as it parsed perfectly if you took “delightful” as the overall clue.
    Anagram of Tue with “c” for cat (Kitty).
    Bizarre eh?

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