Sunday, July 25, 2010

Sunday, July 25, 2010 (ST 4386)

This puzzle was originally published in The Sunday London Times on June 20, 2010


This puzzle was perhaps a bit easier than usual for a Sunday London Times puzzle.

For reader's who may be interested, I have recently posted a more complete review of ST 4384 which was published in the Ottawa Citizen on July 11, 2010.

Today's Errors

14a Missing, inclined to be forgetful (6,6)

What seems to be missing in this clue is a recognition that the solution contains a hyphen - a fact that both the setter and editor appear to have forgotten (but not missed by the ever sharp-eyed talbinho). The clue should therefore read:
  • 14a Missing, inclined to be forgetful (6-6)
Today's Glossary

Some possibly unfamiliar abbreviations, people, places, words and expressions used in today's puzzle

Appearing in Solutions

OB - abbreviation 1 old boy, Brit a former male pupil of a school.

RA - abbreviation 4 Royal Artillery.

- abbreviation 1 Royal Navy.

try - noun 2 rugby the act of carrying the ball over the opponent's goal line and touching it down on the ground, scoring three points in Rugby League or five in Rugby Union and entitling the scoring side to attempt a conversion.

Links to Solutions

A review of today's puzzle by talbinho can be found at Times for the Times [ST 4386].

Commentary on Today's Puzzle

12a Exercise, two ways to put one in danger (5)

I missed part of the wordplay here. The definition is "danger" with the solution being PERIL. The correct wordplay is {PE (exercise; i.e., physical education) + RL (two ways; i.e., right and left, as there are generally two ways one may go - right or left)} containing (to put ... in) I (one).

I was attempting to read "exercise, two ways" as indicating two expressions meaning exercise. Clearly, on would be PE and the second would need to be RL - but the only meaning that I could find which was even remotely plausible was rugby league.

26a Odd formation - to force quarter back tricks (6)

In his review, talbinho suggests that this clue is a "nod to American football". However, if that were the intent, the spelling should have been quarterback - a single word rather than two words as shown in the clue.

Although I was able to obtain the correct solution from the definition and checking letters, and could see some of the wordplay, the remainder of the wordplay was a mystery.

The definition is "tricks" having the solution DODGES. The wordplay is DOD [an anagram (formation) of ODD] + G (force) + ES [reversal (back) of SE (southeast; i.e., quarter)]. It was the latter bit that I failed to recognize.

The use of G to mean force is seen frequently in crossword puzzles and comes from the concept of g-force in physics.

Signing off for this week - Falcon

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Sunday, July 18, 2010 (ST 4385)

This puzzle was originally published in The Sunday London Times on June 13, 2010


It is difficult to assess the level of difficulty of this puzzle as I completed it in several sittings spread over a two to three week period.

Today's Errors

4d Attraction of a fair caress - do wrong having naughty wish within (6.5)

We find only a minor typo today (one which apparently has been carried forward from the puzzle's originally appearance in The Sunday London Times), in which the numeration contains a period, rather than a comma. The corrected clue would read as follows:
  • 4d Attraction of a fair caress - do wrong having naughty wish within (6,5)
Today's Glossary

brass - noun 4 British informal money: they wanted to spend their newly acquired brass.

cohoe - alternative spelling of coho.

cumshaw - [Collins English Dictionary] noun a present or tip.

Ernie Els - South African professional golfer

Elstree Studios - any of various British film studios located in or near Elstree, England.

The Hoe - a large south facing open public space in the English coastal city of Plymouth.

Harry Lauder - Scottish entertainer.

Sidney "Sid" Little - a former English rugby union and professional rugby league footballer.

(he's or she's) no oil painting - informal (he or she is) not good-looking.

Sunderland - a city in North East England.

TU - abbreviation Trade Union.

Links to Solutions

A review of today's puzzle by Peter Biddlecombe (sitting in for talbinho) can be found at Times for the Times [ST 4385].

Signing off for this week - Falcon

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Sunday, July 11, 2010 (ST 4384)

This puzzle was originally published in The Sunday London Times on June 6, 2010


It is summer and, here in Ottawa, it seems like the first decent one in three years. There are so many wonderful things that one can be doing, it is hard to fit them all in, which has reduced the time available to work on crossword puzzles. Consequently, I sometimes find myself running late in getting posts to my blog. Time would not be such a problem if I could finish puzzles in under ten minutes like the Brits. However, I need at least an hour or two. Perhaps, with more practice I can aspire to achieve such incredible solving times.

Error in Today's Puzzle

18d Keep finding alien in the showers (7)

There is a minor error in the clue, which has been carried forward from its appearance in the U.K. The word "keep" should be replaced by "keeps", as follows:

18d Keeps finding alien in the showers (7)

Today's Glossary

con5 -verb [with object] archaic study attentively or learn by heart (a piece of writing): the girls conned their pages with a great show of industry.

glutton2 - noun a wolverine.

harebell -noun a widely distributed bellflower with slender stems and pale blue flowers in late summer. Also called bluebell, especially in Scotland.

lob - noun another name for a pollock or pollack.

lobworm - noun a lugworm, a large marine worm which burrows in the sand and soft earth on sea-shores and river estuaries and which is often used as fishing bait.

Matilda2 - [American Heritage Dictionary] noun Australian The pack or bundle containing the personal belongings of a swagman; a swag.

newsmonger - [Collins English Dictionary] noun Old-fashioned a gossip.

tie-break (or tie-breaker) - noun an extra game, series of games or question that decides which of the competitors or teams is to win a match which has ended in a draw. [Note: the tie-break version is new to me, having always heard it as tie-breaker]

Links to Solutions

A review of today's puzzle by talbinho can be found at Times for the Times [ST 4384].

Commentary on Today's Puzzle

11a Large flyer needing entrance, we hear, to study (6)

The definition is "large flyer" for which the solution is CONDOR. The wordplay elements in this charade type clue are DOR (entrance, we hear; sounds like DOOR) and CON (study). I believe that the word "to" is being used in the sense of "in contact with" as in the well-known phrases "shoulder to the wheel" and "nose to the grindstone". Thus "DOR to CON" could mean "DOR in contact with CON", which seemingly could be either DORCON or CONDOR. Perhaps there is a convention concerning the charade indicator "to" similar to the one for "on" that establishes that in an across clue "X on Y" always implies YX.

My initial interpretation had been that we might be expected to read "entrance to study" as "con door" (similar to "entrance to kitchen" being "kitchen door"). However, as con is a verb (rather than a noun) this construction does not seem very plausible.

16a Roofless dwelling by river (4)

The definition is "river" and the river we are seeking is the OUSE, which is also a "roofless dwelling" - HOUSE with the first letter deleted. I thought that this would have worked far better as a down clue.

27a Poles supporting pipe when icebound, sway (9)

The definition is "sway" with the solution being INFLUENCE. The poles are both N (north), rather than a north and a south. This is a container within a container type of clue. First we put FLUE (pipe) inside the two poles [N(FLUE)N] and then put the result inside ICE (it being icebound) to obtain I(N(FLUE)N)CE. In his review talbinho wonders "how does 'X supporting Y' mean 'X around Y'?". I believe that the answer is that we actually have N plus N supporting Y. I can certainly accept that a pipe might well be supported by a pole at either end.

28a Appease with second small return after taxes (7)

Of course, talbinho's comment should read "rev. of NET" (rather than "rev. of TEN") where "return" is the reversal indicator and "after taxes" is NET.

3d Bait supplied when a Frenchman rows out after pollock (8)

The definition is "bait" for which the solution is LOBWORMS. The wordplay is an anagram (out) of {M (a Frenchman; i.e., monsieur) + ROWS} following (after) LOB (pollock).

According to Webster, lob is an English name for either of two species of fish. One is Pollachius carbonarius, a marine gadoid fish native both to European and American coasts. Seemingly known as the pollock in North America, in England it is called coalfish, lob, podley, podling, pollack, etc. The second is Pollachius virens, or pollack, a marine gadoid food fish of Europe that is also known as greenfish, greenling, lait, leet, lob, lythe, and whiting pollack.

However, according to Oxford pollock and pollack are names for yet another fish, namely Pollachius pollachius.

Not really caring to pursue this matter further, I will leave it to the reader to sort out their pollocks from their pollacks.

5d At home, compelling attendance in Sunday School creates rebels (10)

In his review, talbinho states that "URGENT (= 'compelling attendance')" and he has "in" as the containment indicator. I would interpret the wordplay in this clue in a slightly different manner, with URGENT = compelling and "attendance in" serving as the containment indicator.

24d In a state secret? (5)

As usual, I failed to see the wordplay in this homophone (sounds like) clue that plays on the fact that Brits (or at least some of them) pronounce "a" as "er". The definition is "secret" having the solution INNER. In the wordplay, we have IN + ER (a state; i.e., "a" sounds like (state) ER).

Signing off for this week - Falcon

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Sunday, July 4, 2010 (ST 4383)

This puzzle was originally published in The Sunday London Times on May 30, 2010


I found this to be a very difficult puzzle with lots of British or otherwise non-North American references. In the case of two clues (1a and 31a), I needed talbinho's help to find a solution even with all the checking letters as none of the possible candidate solutions made any sense to me.

Today's Glossary

Some possibly unfamiliar abbreviations, people, places, words and expressions used in today's puzzle

Appearing in Clues

Guy's Hospital - a large hospital in London, England which is the tallest hospital building in the world.

prise or (US) prize - verb 1 to lever something open, off, out, etc, usually with some difficulty • prised open the lidprised the shell off the rock.

sounder - [Dictionary of Collective Nouns and Group Terms] noun a herd of wild swine, pigs or boars, 1410.

starter - noun 3 chiefly British the first course of a meal.

Appearing in Solutions

cabinet pudding - noun a traditional English steamed, sweet, moulded pudding.

J2 - abbreviation 3 (plural JJ) Judge.

jemmy - noun (plural jemmies) a small crowbar used by burglars for forcing open windows, etc.; verb (jemmies, jemmied, jemmying) (usually jemmy something open) to force it open with a jemmy or similar tool.

keel2 - noun a low flat-bottomed boat; a barge. Also called keelboat.

redshank - noun a large Eurasian sandpiper with long red legs and brown, grey, or blackish plumage.

sharpish - adverb U.K. rapidly: quickly or without delay ( informal ).

trotter - noun 1 a a pig's foot; b (usually pigs' trotters) pigs' feet used as food.

wagtail - noun a slender Eurasian and African songbird with a long tail that is frequently wagged up and down, typically living by water.

Links to Solutions

A review of today's puzzle by talbinho can be found at Times for the Times [ST 4383].

Commentary on Today's Puzzle

1a What an average singer might be soon! (8)

Even with all the checking letters, I really had no idea of the solution here. I had identified several possible solutions, but none seemed to fit the clue. In his review, talbinho identifies this as a double definition having the solution SHARPISH. In one meaning, I was to discover, sharpish is a British expression meaning soon. I would presume that the other meaning is a play on words involving musical terminology, where a sharp is "a musical note raised a semitone above natural pitch" and the implication may be that an average singer is not able to hit these high notes, but with practice they may do so in the not too distant future. Thus they might become sharpish, able to hit those notes.

As my singing abilities rank near the bottom end of the scale from where I can hardly aspire to be even an average singer, I leave it to those more knowledgeable in this field to judge whether I am even close with this interpretation.

15a Scored moderately slowly for an Italian player (7)

In his review, talbinho says "rather transparent". However, to me - although I got the correct solution - the wordplay was as clear as mud.

The definition is "scored moderately slowly" for which the solution is ANDANTE (yet more musical terminology). The wordplay may be AN + DANTE (Italian player). Why "Italian player"? Dante is an Italian given name and surname as well as being the name of a famous Italian poet (Dante Alighieri). I searched in vain for a renowned Italian soccer player (or player of any other sport, for that matter) by the name of Dante, but failed to find a likely candidate. Perhaps the suggestion is that Dante is such a common name in Italy that there is bound to be one playing in the orchestra!

30a Poles in barge provide housing for boxer, say (6)

It took me ages to solve this clue due to a couple of early missteps. The first was putting REDSTART in 17d, which turned out to be the wrong bird. The second was thinking that I needed a north pole and a south pole, rather than two north poles.

31a Sounder footing? (8)

I wrongly presumed that this was a double definition (apparently overlooking the question mark). However, even recognizing that it is a cryptic definition probably wouldn't have helped. I was overwhelmed here with unknown elements. I did not know that a sounder is a herd of swine (or, at least it was in 1410). I also did not know that pig's feet are called trotters (I always thought a trotter was a horse at a harness racing track). Here "sounder footing" is a cryptic reference to the feet of a herd of swine.

6d Hot and war-worn republic (6)

This clue has a rather unusual structure. I think the definition is intended to be "hot republic". The wordplay is an anagram (worn) of AND WAR producing RWANDA. The clue is unusual in that the definition seems to straddle the wordplay.

7d One Arabian has chips outside religious buildings (8)

The definition is "religious buildings" for which the solution is FRIARIES. The wordplay is FRIES (chips) containing (outside) {I (one) + AR (Arabian)}. I can only guess that the word "Arabian" is a reference to an Arabian horse, for which AR is apparently used as an abbreviation - as evidenced by this excerpt from the rulebook of the U.S. Equestrian Federation.

23d Etna erupts with helium gas (6)

The definition is "gas" for which the solution is ETHANE. The wordplay is an anagram (erupts) of {ETNA + (with) HE (chemical symbol for helium)}.

This is yet another clue with a rather unusual structure, with the anagram indicator positioned in the midst of the anagram fodder. However, this does appear to work as one can imagine that should ETNA erupt in the presence of HE, all the letters would naturally become jumbled.

24d Judge leaves prizes for TV awards (6)

I had expected that there would have been a massive outcry from the Brits concerning the American spelling of "prizes" in this clue. As I understand it, in Britain, prizes are given as rewards and one prises something open, whereas, in the U.S., prizes are also given as rewards but one also prizes something open. As for me, I would just pry it open.

I had thought the use of the American spelling may have been a subtle hint from the setter that the clue calls for the American "TV awards". However, visitors to Times for the Times point out that the plural of the American television award is Emmys while the plural of the European counterpart (Monte-Carlo Television Festival) is Emmies.

Happy Fourth of July to any American readers out there - Falcon