Sunday, May 29, 2011

Sunday, May 29, 2011 (ST 4430)

Puzzle at a Glance
Puzzle Number in The Sunday Times
ST 4430
Date of Publication in The Sunday Times
Sunday, April 24, 2011
Link to Full Review
Times for the Times [ST 4430]
Times for the Times Review Written By
Dave Perry
Date of Publication in the Toronto Star
Saturday, May 21, 2011


I found today's puzzle to be very difficult, although I did persevere and eventually I succeeded in completing it. However, my newspaper was covered with question marks where I was not able to fully decipher the clues. In many cases, I was able to see part of the wordplay but could not formulate the complete picture. Among the bits of wordplay that I missed were getting to the French word for friend via Cockney rhyming slang in 12a, the "drama queen's last part" in 11a, and the invented definition for "polish" at 6d. I note that there is more than the normal chatter on Times for the Times concerning this puzzle. It seems that the Brits found several of the clues to be more than a little contentious.

Today's Glossary

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

[An asterisk beside an entry merely indicates that it has been taken it from a Cumulative Glossary of entries which have previously appeared, in either this blog or its companion blog, the National Post Cryptic Crossword Forum.]

Appearing in Clues

Meanings listed in this section may reflect how the word is used in the surface reading of the clue. Of course, that meaning may be contributing to the misdirection that the setter is attempting to create.

aluminium - British name for the chemical element known in North America as aluminum.

arcade - noun 1 [a] a covered passage with arches along one or both sides. [b] a covered walk with shops along one or both sides.

Armagnac - a type of brandy traditionally made in Aquitaine in SW France.

The Scotland Office - a United Kingdom government department headed by the Secretary of State for Scotland and responsible for Scottish affairs. It is distinct entity within the Ministry of Justice.

Appearing in Solutions

Al - symbol the chemical element aluminium [North American aluminum].

As - symbol the chemical element arsenic.

carry-on - noun [usually in singular] British informal [a] a display of excitement or fuss over an unimportant matter: I never saw such a carry-on! [b] (also carryings-on) questionable behaviour, typically involving sexual impropriety: the sort of carry-on that goes on behind the chintz curtains of suburbia

grenadine2 - noun dress fabric of loosely woven silk or silk and wool.

Horatio Nelson - Viscount Nelson, Duke of Bronte (1758–1805), British admiral. Nelson became a national hero as a result of his victories at sea in the Napoleonic Wars, especially the Battle of Trafalgar, in which he was mortally wounded.

No2 - noun variant spelling of Noh, traditional Japanese masked drama with dance and song, evolved from Shinto rites.

Perrier (also Perrier water) - noun trademark an effervescent natural mineral water sold as a drink.[origin: from the name of a spring at Verg├Ęze, France, from which this water comes]

po - noun British informal a chamber pot. [Note: despite Oxford's designation of this as a British term, Dave Perry claims it to be Australian.]

Bertrand Russell - 3rd Earl Russell (1872–1970), British philosopher, mathematician, and social reformer; full name Bertrand Arthur William Russell. In Principia Mathematica (1910–13) he and A. N. Whitehead attempted to express all of mathematics in formal logic terms . He expounded logical atomism in Our Knowledge of the External World (1914) and neutral monism in The Analysis of Mind (1921). A conscientious objector during the First World War, he also campaigned for women's suffrage and against nuclear arms. Nobel Prize for Literature (1950).

tapster - noun archaic a person who draws and serves alcoholic drinks at a bar.

taster - noun 2 British a small quantity or brief experience of something, intended as a sample: the song is a taster for the band's new LP

tat2 - noun British informal tasteless or shoddy clothes, jewellery, or ornaments: the place was decorated with all manner of gaudy tat

ute - noun Australian /NZ informal a utility vehicle; a pickup.

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.

5a   As the chemist sees it? (7)

As it stands, the surface reading of this clue sounds incomplete to my ear. For it to make sense to me, the clue would need to read either "As as the chemist sees it?" or "As seen by the chemist."

26a   Philosopher's trick to pen school lines (7)

The setter clearly intends for us to use S as an abbreviation for "school". However, I failed to find this meaning given in any of several dictionaries that I consulted including the "big red Chambers" (The Chambers Dictionary, 11th Edition).

27a   See cod I battered with it! (7)

It took me awhile to fully comprehend the subtleties of this clue - and although it is a bit difficult to explain clearly., I will do my best.

The word "it" is a pronoun standing in for "see" and serves as part of the anagrist (anagram fodder). As Dave Perry expresses it, "'See' is doing double duty here as the definition and part of the anagrist, but it's clearly indicated so that's fine." The definition is the explicit "See" at the beginning of the clue for which the solution is DIOCESE (see, meaning "the place in which a cathedral church stands, identified as the seat of authority of a bishop or archbishop"). The wordplay is an anagram (battered) of COD I SEE. Note that the wordplay uses the implicit SEE represented by the pronoun "it", in which the sense of the clue is "COD I mixed with (battered with) SEE" ("it" having been replaced by SEE).

2d   Basic part of electric heater's aluminium (9)

If I had parsed this clue correctly I would not have had a question mark beside it. The definition is "basic" for which the solution is ELEMENTAL. The wordplay is ELEMENT (part of electric heater) + ('s; i.e., has) AL ([chemical symbol for] aluminium [or aluminum, if you prefer]).

6d   Polish device for carrying the sick? (9)

Here "a polish device" mischievously means "a device constructed from poles". This is in the same vein as a river being described in a cryptic crossword clue as a "flower" (something which flows) or a "banker" (something which has banks).

My initial thought was that the connection between 'stretch' and "polish" might have something to do with 'stretching the truth'. I even discovered the following definition:
  • stretcher - noun 5 archaic , informal an exaggeration or lie.
I eventually had to abandon this line of thinking as I could not construct a plausible explanation based on it.

My next discovery (via an internet search) was that there is a substance used for treating leather shoes to stretch them (appropriately called a 'stretcher') which is sometimes added to shoe polish so that shoes can be both stretched and polished in a single application. Oh, what hoops setters sometimes have us jumping through!

16d   It's a pleasure to see absence of rubbish at the arcade - no hint of muck (3,2,3)

The definition is "it's a pleasure" for which the solution is NOT AT ALL. The wordplay is NO TAT (absence of rubbish; 'tat' being British slang for tasteless or shoddy goods) + (at) mALL {MALL (the arcade) with the first letter deleted (no hint of muck; i.e., no first letter of Muck)}. I infer that the term "arcade" would be commonly understood in Britain to mean a 'shopping arcade' whereas in North American we would probably be a bit more likely to use the full name (in order to distinguish it from merely a covered walkway or some other type of arcade, such as an amusement arcade).

Signing off for this week - Falcon

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