Sunday, January 23, 2011

Sunday, January 23, 2011 (ST 4257)

The Sunday London Times Puzzle Number
ST 4257
Publication Date in The Sunday London Times
December 30, 2007
Link to Full Review
Times for the Times [ST 4257]
Times for the Times Review Written By
Publication Date in the Toronto Star
Saturday, January 22, 2011
Somewhere along the syndication chain, someone has dipped into the archives for a puzzle to replace ST 4412 which was a Jumbo Christmas Puzzle published in the U.K. on December 19, 2010 (the Sunday prior to Christmas) 


The puzzle published today by the Ottawa Citizen is a substitute for ST 4412, a Jumbo Christmas Puzzle, that was published in The Sunday London Times on December 19, 2010.  As this puzzle seems not to have appeared in the U.K. (at least, I have not been able to trace it), there is no review of the puzzle at Times for the Times.  The puzzle is one that was first published in the U.K. - and, almost certainly, in the Ottawa Citizen - three years ago. Later in the blog, I describe how I tracked down this information. However, it is a shame that The Sunday London Times couldn't have corrected the error in the puzzle before recycling it. Before I discovered the review on Times for the Times, I prepared my own review of the puzzle. Thus readers have the choice of two solutions.

I found this to be rather more challenging than the typical puzzle from The Sunday London Times. My Tool Chest received a severe workout, but in the end I succeeded in completing it. However, I felt like a tightrope artist working without a safety net, having no British blog to fall back on.

A Bit of Detective Work

You might be wondering how I managed to track down the review at Times for the Times for this puzzle. Well, I started by visiting other blogs that cover the syndicated Sunday London Times puzzle. This puzzle appears in the Toronto Star on Saturday, usually eight days prior to its appearance in the Ottawa Citizen. However, the Toronto Star reversed the order of this puzzle (ST 4257) and the following puzzle (ST 4413), meaning that this puzzle was published in the Toronto Star on Saturday, January 22, 2011 (the day before it appeared in the Ottawa Citizen). Lasbrisas, the author of the Saturday Star Cryptic Forum, through some incredible feat of memory recognized that the puzzle had been published in the Toronto Star on January 19, 2008. From that I was able to deduce that the puzzle might have been published in the U.K. in late December 2007. It was also likely published in the Ottawa Citizen on or around Sunday, January 27, 2008. And despite being three years old, the puzzle is still as good as new - complete with error!

Errata for Today's Puzzle

12a   Paintings, etc, left in box in tissue (9)

As confirmed by the setter in a posting on Times for the Times, the clue should read:
  • Paintings, etc, I left in box in tissue (9)
with an "I" before "left". The setter says "The setter thanks you for the feedback and can confirm that his clue for 12A had 'I' before 'left'-- please blame the printers!".

The definition is "tissue" for which the solution is CARTILAGE. The wordplay is {ART (paintings, etc.) + I + L (left)} contained in CAGE (box).

Today's Glossary

Selected abbreviations, people, places, words and expressions appearing in today's puzzle

Appearing in Clues

bob3 - noun British informal a shilling

on - (also on side) noun Cricket the leg side (or, simply, leg), noun 5 the half of the field (as divided lengthways through the pitch) away from which the batsman's feet are pointed when standing to receive the ball.  The opposite of off.

Appearing in Solutions

Blackpool Tower - a tourist attraction in Blackpool, Lancashire in England which was inspired by the Eiffel Tower in Paris. It rises to 158m (518 ft 9 inches) and opened to the public in 1894.

cor - exclamation British informal expressing surprise, excitement, admiration, or alarm: Cor! That‘s a beautiful black eye you’ve got!

County Down  - one of six counties that form Northern Ireland (named after its county town, Downpatrick)

DUP - (Ulster) Democratic Unionist Party, an extreme Loyalist political party in Northern Ireland, co-founded by Ian Paisley in 1972

go2 - noun a Japanese board game of territorial possession and capture

inamorato - noun a person's male lover

Lacerta - Astronomy a small and inconspicuous northern constellation (the Lizard), on the edge of the Milky Way between Cygnus and Andromeda

leg - (also leg side, on or on side) noun 5 the half of the field (as divided lengthways through the pitch) away from which the batsman's feet are pointed when standing to receive the ball.  The opposite of off.

John Locke (1632 – 1704) - English philosopher and physician regarded as one of the most influential of Enlightenment thinkers and widely known as the Father of Liberalism

M2 - [1st entry] abbreviation Cricket (on scorecards) maiden, noun 2 (also maiden over) an over in which no runs are scored

OR - abbreviation [3rd entry] Military, British other ranks (as opposed to commissioned officers).

para1 - informal noun 1 a paratrooper

s - abbreviation [3rd entry] shilling(s)

Commentary on Today's Puzzle

This commentary should be read in conjunction with the full review at Times for the Times, to which a link is provided in the table above.

16d   He could pour out oration to ensnare a maiden, maybe (9)

This is a semi & lit. (all-in-one) clue. The entire clue forms the definition, while the wordplay forms only part of the clue. The wordplay is an anagram (possibly) of {ORATION TO containing (ensnare) [A + M (maiden)]}

21d   Victor would carry this plant around hospital (7)

The definition, "this plant", is situated in the middle of the clue, which is a somewhat unusual location - but not one that is unheard of (in British puzzles, at least). The sense of the clue is that if one were to place the name of the plant (CAMPION) around the letter H (hospital) - or, in other words, insert an H into the name - the result would be CHAMPION, a word meaning "victor".

Solution to Today's Puzzle

Legend: "*" anagram; "~" sounds like; "<" letters reversed

"( )" letters inserted; "_" letters deleted


1a   {BLACKPOOL TOWER}* - anagram (in which you could find) of TOP LOCAL BREW OK

10a   RE(C|OR)D|S - {RED (left-wing) + S (society)} containing (probed by) {C (Conservative) + OR (men; ordinary ranks)}

11a   E(LEG)ANT - {E (English) + ANT (worker)} containing (that's kept) LEG (on; cricket term - see Today's Glossary)

12a   C(ART|I|L)AGE - {ART (paintings, etc.) + I + L (left)} contained in CAGE (box)
I can only conclude that there is an error in the clue, as published. See Commentary on Today's Puzzle
13a   SU|GAR< - reversal (about) of {RAG (tease) + US (American)}

14a   DRAG|ON - DRAG ON (to continue in boring fashion)

15a   STRIDE|NT - STRIDE (walk) + NT (starts with nettles and thorns; i.e., the first letter of each of "nettles" and "thorns")

18a   LOCKE|D UP - LOCKE (English philosopher John Locke) + (joins) DUP (Ulster party; Democratic Unionist Party)

20a   MARC|US - MARC (brandy) + (to) US (you and me)

23a   TWIST - double definition; "one who wanted more" (Oliver Twist) & "wind" (in the sense of entwine)

25a   SCHOOL|MEN - SCHOOL (Rugby) + MEN (players)
In reality, one must read the wordplay as a unit with "Rugby players, perhaps" indicating that these are but a single example of 'school men', as Eton players, for example, would also be 'school men'.
26a   ARAP<|A|HO - reversal (taking ... back) of PARA (soldiers) + (to) A + HO (house)

27a   REALIZE* - anagram (through a combination of) of {IRE + (and) ZEAL}

28a   S|HOPPING| A|ROUND - S (old bob; shilling) + HOPPING (travelling) + A + ROUND (fixed route)
The setter likely uses the phrase "old bob" as the shilling is part of a former currency system in the U.K. that is no longer used.

2d   LA|CERT|A - LA (Hollywood, etc?; Los Angeles) + CERT (sure thing) + A (ace)

3d   COR|TIS|ONE - COR (gosh) + TIS (it's) + ONE (a)

4d   _PAS|CAL_ - hidden in (in) setuP A SCALlywag

5d   O|MELE(TT)E - O (old) + {MELEE (scrap) containing (inside) TT (dry; teetotal}

6d   [DIS]TRESS - DISTRESS (consternation) with DIS (little girl's) deleted (lost)

7d   W|R|ANGLE - W (wife) + (has) R (right) + ANGLE (view)

8d   {RETURN (T)O SENDER}* - anagram (possibly) of DESERTER ON RUN containing (to have ... inside) T (time)

9d   {CROCODILE TEARS}* - anagram (spurious) of ACTOR CRIES DOLE

16d   IN(A|M)ORATO - anagram (possibly) of {ORATION TO containing (ensnare) [A + M (maiden)]}
See Commentary on Today's Puzzle
17d   RUNS DOWN - double definition; "criticises" & "what NI (Northern Ireland) county boss does"
The boss of County Down obviously 'runs Down'.
19d   CHIC|A|GO - CHIC (elegant) + A + GO (game)
"11" in the clue is a cross-reference to clue 11a. In place of it, you must substitute the solution to 11a, 'elegant'.
21d   C[H]AMPION - CHAMPION (victor) with H (hospital) deleted
See Commentary on Today's Puzzle
22d   S(HER)PA - HER (the woman) contained in (in) SPA (spring)
The setter has used an inverted structure for the clue which I have removed for clarity.
24d   TRA(M)P - M (male) contained in (put in) TRAP (prison)
The allusion to a prison being a trap may be in a poetic sense, as either could be a cage.
Signing off for this week - Falcon


  1. I asked the syndication team what puzzle had been sent to syndication customers for 4412, and was told that 4412 itself was sent. I can only guess that because this puzzle was a jumbo and would therefore need more space, the Ottawa Citizen made their own decision to use 4257 instead.

    Peter Biddlecombe
    Sunday Times Puzzles Editor

  2. Peter,

    Of course, in addition to the jumbo format, the Christmas theme would have been a bit out of season.

    While I suppose that it is possible that the Citizen made "their own decision to use 4257", I find it highly surprising that the Toronto Star (a member of a different media group) would independently chose to run the same replacement puzzle. While I have no knowledge of how the syndication of newspaper features works, I might suppose that there could be some intermediary syndication body in the distribution chain between the Sunday London Times and the Canadian newspapers carrying the feature.


  3. I didn't know about the Citizen / Star similarity. I don't know exactly where the e-mails containing the weekly files for syndication customers are sent, so there might be another agency involved.