Sunday, April 22, 2012

Sunday, April 22, 2012 - ST 4478

Puzzle at a Glance
Puzzle Number in The Sunday Times
ST 4478
Date of Publication in The Sunday Times
Sunday, March 25, 2012
Jeff Pearce
Link to Full Review
Times for the Times [ST 4478]
Times for the Times Review Written By
Dave Perry
Date of Publication in the Toronto Star
Saturday, April 14, 2012
This puzzle is likely by Jeff Pearce based solely on the rotation, although I have no information to confirm this.


Although I completed the puzzle, it was not without the use of electronic aids from my Tool Chest — which were called into action early and used extensively. The puzzle definitely contains a rather generous dose of British references as well as a few other terms with which I was not familiar.

Notes 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.

1a   Tense choir sit nervously here (8,7)

A grammatical term, the historic present[5] refers to the present tense used instead of the past in vivid narrative, especially in titles, such as ‘The Empire Strikes Back’, and informally in speech, e.g. ‘so I say to him’.

9a   Sweet pair starting a row (7)

In Britain, a sweet[5] may be either (1) a small shaped piece of confectionery made with sugar [in North American parlance, a (piece of) candy[5]] a bag of sweets or (2) a sweet dish forming a course of a meal; a pudding or dessert. The present clue likely refers to the latter.

In Britain, the term candy[5] is used much more specifically than in North America and refers to sugar crystallized by repeated boiling and slow evaporation making candy at home is not difficult—the key is cooking the syrup to the right temperature.

10a   With good cause, annoying high street solicitor (7)

In Britain, high street[5] denotes the main street of a town, especially as the traditional site for most shops, banks, and other businesses the approaching festive season boosted the high street. In North America, this area of town would be known as main street[5].

The solution is a word that we are certainly in need of on this side of the Atlantic. A chugger[5] is an informal term for a person who approaches passers-by in the street asking for donations or subscriptions to a particular charity. The word is a blend of charity and mugger.

11a   Objection about a part of 14? (4)

The "14" is a cross-reference to clue 14d and indicates that the solution to the cross-referenced clue forms part of the present clue. Thus we must substitute "orchestra" (the solution to 14d) into the present clue to replace the number "14" giving:
  • Objection about a part of orchestra?
as the full clue.

Although Dave Perry gives the wordplay as a reversal of {A + BUT}, I read it as {a reversal (about) of BUT (objection)} + A.

12a   Tatty rest-home with a quiet ambience (10)

Piano[3,5] (abbreviation p[5])  is a direction used in music to mean either (1) soft or quiet (as an adjective) or (2) softly or quietly (as an adverb).

13a   Melody Maker put pressure on Man City about leader of Oasis (7)

In the rather nonsensical surface reading, we have a couple of references that would likely be familiar to the Brits. Melody Maker[7] was a UK publication targeted at musicians — the world's oldest weekly music newspaper, according to its publisher. Having been founded in 1926, it was merged into a sister publication, New Musical Express, in 2000. Man City is a short form for the Manchester City Football Club[7], an English Premier League football (soccer) club based in Manchester, England. Oasis[7] was a well-known English rock band formed in Manchester in 1991. The group broke up in 2009 following a backstage altercation between band members (and brothers) Noel and Liam Gallagher.

Pianola[4] is a trademark for a make of player piano.

15a   Works with preservationists producing effects (7)

The National Trust[5] (abbreviation NT) is a trust for the preservation of places of historic interest or natural beauty in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland, founded in 1895 and supported by endowment and private subscription. The National Trust for Scotland was founded in 1931.

I was initially puzzled by opera and operant both appearing to be singular nouns whereas the clue clearly seemed to me to call for plural nouns. In the first case,  opera[5] equates to works as it is used in the sense of operas as a genre of classical music a very grand programme of opera and ballet. In the second case, the definition is "producing effects" (rather than the noun "effects", as I had assumed) for which the solution is operant[10], an adjective meaning producing effects or operating.

17a   One making weaker solution for photographer (7)

In photography, a reducer[2] is a chemical substance used to decrease the density of a negative or print.

20a   Cod put on last scrap of newspaper - a substitute for china (3,7)

Cod[5] is an informal British term meaning to play a joke or trick on (someone) he was definitely codding them. Vice[5] is a preposition meaning as a substitute for the letter was drafted by David Hunt, vice Bevin who was ill.

22a   English crackers passed round as accompaniment to this? (4)

Crackers[5] is British slang for (1) insane if Luke wasn’t here I’d go crackers or (2) extremely angry when he saw the mess he went crackers.

25a   Is Roman Emperor following right Italian course? (7)

It is not a Roman Emperor at all whom we are seeking, but a Holy Roman Emperor. As the French Enlightenment writer Voltaire remarked, "This agglomeration which was called and which still calls itself the Holy Roman Empire was neither holy, nor Roman, nor an empire."[7]

1d   Leave short gardening tool on stone (3,2)

Hop it[5] is an informal British expression meaning to go away quickly I hopped it down the stairs.

4d   Disinclination to act in "The Queen" with headdress only 60% complete (7)

In the surface reading, "The Queen"[7] may be a reference to a 2006 British drama film starring Helen Mirren in the title role, Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom. Released almost a decade after the event, the film depicts a fictional account of the immediate events following the death of Diana, Princess of Wales on 31 August 1997.

By tradition, British monarchs use initials formed from the Latin version of their first name followed by either Rex or Regina (Latin for king or queen, respectively). Thus Queen Elizabeth's initials are ER[5] — from the Latin Elizabetha Regina.

13d   Exotic myrrh put round Egyptian flower (9)

Pyrethrum[2] is the name formerly used for any of various perennial plants of the chrysanthemum genus, especially a species with finely divided silvery-grey leaves and solitary large white, pink, red or purple daisy-like flower-heads.

E[10] as an abbreviation for Egyptian is not to be found in Chambers, but it is in Collins English Dictionary - which seems to be a new favourite, at least at The Sunday Times. It is not an International Vehicle Registration (IVR) code, as E is the IVR code for Spain (España).

14d   Actor starts to recite Hamlet's speech exciting poor folk in the pit (9)

I got the solution from the checking letters and the definition, but never did figure out the wordplay until I read Dave Perry's review. The definition is "folk in the pit" and the wordplay is an anagram (poor) of {ACTOR + the first letters of (starts to) [R(ecite) + H(amlet's) + S(peech) + E(xciting)]}.

16d   A good deal is required to get this bid in solo whist (9)

Solo Whist[7], sometimes known as simply Solo, is a trick-taking card game whose direct ancestor is the 17th century Spanish game Hombre, based on the English Whist.

The game requires four players using a standard 52 card deck with no jokers. After the cards are dealt (13 to each player), the players bid to establish the contract. Beginning with the player to dealer's left, each competitor may make a bid or pass. If someone bids, then subsequent players can either pass or bid higher. The bidding continues around the table as many times as necessary until the contract is settled. If everyone passes or there is a Prop without a Cop then the hands are thrown in and dealt again. The possible bids are called Prop and Cop, Solo, Misère, Abundance, Royal Abundance, Misère Ouverte, and Abundance Declared. Abundance is a bid where the bidder expects to take at least 9 of the 13 possible tricks.

21d   Champion jockey caught leaving crime (5)

Willie Carson[7], a retired jockey in thoroughbred horse racing born in Stirling, Scotland, was British Champion Jockey five times (1972, 1973, 1978, 1980 and 1983), won 17 British Classic Races, and passed 100 winners in a season 23 times for a total of 3,828 wins, making him the fourth most successful jockey in Great Britain.
Key to Reference Sources: 

[1]   - The Chambers Dictionary, 11th Edition
[2]   - Search Chambers - (Chambers 21st Century Dictionary)
[3]   - (American Heritage Dictionary)
[4]   - (Collins English Dictionary)
[5]   - Oxford Dictionaries (Oxford Dictionary of English)
[6]   - Oxford Dictionaries (Oxford American Dictionary)
[7]   - Wikipedia
[8]   - Reverso Online Dictionary (Collins French-English Dictionary)
[9]   - Infoplease (Random House Unabridged Dictionary)
[10] - (Collins English Dictionary)
Signing off for this week - Falcon

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