Sunday, June 28, 2009

Sunday, June 28, 2009 (ST 4329)

This puzzle was originally published in The Sunday London Times on May 17, 2009


A relatively easy effort for a Sunday Times puzzle, although one clue stumped me.

Links to solutions:

Times for the Times

Commentary on Today's Puzzle

24d When any theatre is set up? Inside, you'll find drama critic (5)

I failed to find the solution to this downer of a clue - correctly interpreting "up inside" would have provided the key to success.

Signing off for this week - Falcon

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Sunday, June 21, 2009 (ST 4328)

Today's puzzle was originally published in The Sunday London Times on May 10, 2009

Links to Solutions

A full review for today's puzzle is available at Times for the Times.

Commentary on Today's Puzzle

Some of the clues in today's puzzle were, shall I say, thought provoking. If I were in a less charitable mood, I might use synonyms such as questionable and irritating. I found it gratifying, in a number of cases, to see that my opinions on several clues aligned with those of talbinho in his Times for the Times blog.

Perhaps my views were soured by getting the solutions for a couple of clues incorrect.

1ac Recollect entire chain of succession (11)

I have absolutely no problem with this clue - I just think it is worthy of comment. The wordplay suggests that if a set of letters were collected once to form ENTIRE CHAIN, the same set of letters could be collected again (re-collected) in a different order to form another word.

13ac Dial and ring about a false notion (5)

Since IDOLA is the plural of IDOLUM or IDOLON, the clue should have read (IMHO):

13ac Dial and ring about false notions (5)

18ac Choosing to cut off electric halfway through - leading to chaos (8)

Due to a couple of faulty choices - thinking that "choosing" was a verb, rather than a noun; and missing the substitution of "into" for "leading to" - I ended up with ELECTING as a solution (one, of course, for which I could not fully reconcile the wordplay). This error was also directly responsible for my getting 17d incorrect.

20ac Gemstones military commander set off to obtain (6)

I am not sure whether the anagram indicator is intended to be the phrase "off to obtain" or whether the phrase "to obtain" is merely padding to improve the surface reading. I am sure that I have often seen "off" used on its own as an anagram indicator. Certainly, with a modified construction, such as:

Military commander set off to obtain gemstones (6)

the phrase "to obtain" would be quite logical as linking words.

28ac The blue-blooded, overbearing actor is star (11)

Like talbinho, I am mystified by the use of "overbearing" as an anagram indicator.

17d The pools could have formed in them (8)

Not only did I miss the anagram, but due to the error discussed at 18ac, the only possible solution appeared to be ANTHILLS (of course, as with 18ac, the wordplay being irreconcilable).

19d Vehicle surfaces carrying king, the Queen and follower (7)

I initially thought that the solution to this clue might be TRAILER, where I was relying on the following substitutions: "king" → R (rex), "the Queen" → ER, "vehicle" → TRAILER, and "follower" → TAIL. Of course, I had no explanation for the wordplay and the situation was further complicated by the fact that "follower" might also mean TRAILER. Furthermore, this wrong turn imposed an obstacle to solving 26ac. Luckily, I did eventually find the correct solution for 26ac which, in turn, put me back on TRACK for this clue as well.

21d Allure leading girl to love in France (7)

Since no objections were raised on Times for the Times, I presume that the subsitution of "l'amour" for "love" is within the bounds of cryptic license, despite a precise translation of "l'amour" being "the love".

Welcome to summer and Happy Father's Day to all fellow Dads - Falcon

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Sunday, June 14, 2009 (ST 4327)

This puzzle was originally published in The Sunday London Times on May 3, 2009

Links to solutions:

A full review of today's puzzle is available on Times for the Times [ST 4327].

A couple of the clues are addressed on the Saturday Star Cryptic Forum [ST 4327].

Commentary on Today's Puzzle

It was gratifying to see that many of the reservations that I had concerning this puzzle were also raised by talbinho in his Times for the Times post:
  • the seemingly extraneous "during" appearing in 1ac
  • the wording of 4d
  • the use of "fruit" as an anagram indicator in 17d
  • the wording of 24d
One that seemingly didn't concern him, but which caused me to think long and hard was:

25ac Sudden inspiration doesn't start in bad weather (9)

Sudden inspiration [BRAINSTORM] doesn't start [-B] → RAINSTORM

bad weather → RAINSTORM

It seems to me that the word "in" is being employed here to represent equality (rather than inclusion) - which does not sound entirely right to my ear.

Having studied mathematics, I know a mathematician would handle this situation by defining the set of all subsets of the entity RAINSTORM to include the entity itself. Having done so, RAINSTORM is "in" RAINSTORM from this mathematical perspective. [Mathematicians - not unlike cryptic crossword setters - are quite adept at defining things to suit their purposes.]

However, I am wondering if there is a linguistic explanation as to why RAINSTORM is "in" RAINSTORM.

A True British Experience - Warts and All

Those of us on this side of the Atlantic now have convincing evidence that we are, indeed, enjoying an authentic British experience with The Sunday London Times cryptic crossword. It seems that, despite appearing here six weeks following its publication in Britain, The London Sunday Times syndicates the exact puzzle that appeared in the paper's U.K. print edition - right down to the errors. The solution to today's puzzle printed in the Citizen indicates that the solution to 22d is PIGOUT - the very same error that a correspondent on Times for the Times reported as having appeared in the print edition of The Sunday London Times.

Signing off for this week - Falcon

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Sunday, June 7, 2009 (ST 4326)

This puzzle was originally published in The Sunday London Times on April 26, 2009

Links to solutions:

A solution for today's puzzle is available at Times for the Times [ST 4326].

Commentary on Today's Puzzle

After checking the solution on Times for the Times, I see a missed a bit of the nuance in the wordplay for:

10ac Two foreign articles we put on are not English pants and vest? (9)

I had taken "put on" to mean "wear" and had missed the WE + ARE - E wordplay.

19ac Floater taking limited number - gosh! (4)

I missed this one entirely. Although being far from confident in my solution, I had settled on NEAT (where "Neat!" would be a slang exclamation meaning "Gosh!").

24ac Foster maybe to admit what he didn't quite do! (5)

I got the correct solution (being the only word that fit), but had no idea of most of the wordplay (other than, possibly, "admit" being "own" - as in "own up"). I guess I've been away from nursery rhymes too long.

1d Having the enemy in to complete a quartet? (4-11)

I got the solution based on part of the clue, but see from Times for the Times that I missed a key aspect of the wordplay dealing with "time".

21d Coloured rod with fish on (6)

I had the correct solution, but wasn't content with my understanding of the wordplay. I am not any happier with the explanation on Times for the Times. The solution given there would seem to imply that "coloured rod" is CRAYON which is composed of "fish" [CRAY] plus "on" [ON]. The problem is that, to the best of my knowledge, while a "crayfish" is a crustacean somewhat similar to a lobster, no fish exists called a "cray". I had assumed that the "fish" was a RAY, but that leaves the "C" unaccounted for. As always, I stand to be corrected.

Signing off for today - Falcon