Sunday, April 8, 2012

Sunday, April 8, 2012 - ST 4476

Puzzle at a Glance
Puzzle Number in The Sunday Times
ST 4476
Date of Publication in The Sunday Times
Sunday, March 11, 2012
Dean Mayer (Anax)
Link to Full Review
Times for the Times [ST 4476]
Times for the Times Review Written By
Dave Perry
Date of Publication in the Toronto Star
Saturday, March 31, 2012


I usually find that Anax's puzzles provide a strenuous mental challenge, and today is no exception. In several instances, I managed to find the correct solution without fully understanding the wordplay.

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   Register a line in female handbags (8)

In Britain, handbags[10] is used facetiously as a plural noun to describe an incident in which people, especially sportsmen, fight or threaten to fight, but without real intent to inflict harm (especially in the phrases handbags at dawn, handbags at twenty paces, etc). [from the idea of women fighting with their handbags][5]

6a   Shanghai sailor given passage (6)

In the Royal Navy, able seaman (abbreviation AB)[5] is a rank of sailor above ordinary seaman and below leading seaman.

9a   Part of pendant or chain necklace (4)

A torc[5] is a neck ornament consisting of a band of twisted metal, worn especially by the ancient Gauls and Britons.

10a   Cheese I put on mum's fish (10)

It is not uncommon to be called upon to substitute the Roman numeral I for the word "one" - but here we are required to do just the reverse.

11a   TV show that's inferior to book in three parts (12)

Despite having found the correct solution, I wasn't able to decipher the wordplay until I read Dave Perry's review. The definition is "TV show" and the wordplay is {UNDER (inferior to) + B (book)} contained in THIRDS (three parts) to give THUNDERBIRDS (TV show).

Thunderbirds[7] is a British mid-1960s science fiction television show which used a form of marionette puppetry dubbed "Supermarionation". The series followed the adventures of International Rescue, a secretive organisation created to help those in grave danger using technically advanced equipment and machinery. The series also aired in Canada.

14a   President dressing in fleece (7)

The wordplay is LINT (dressing) contained in (in) CON (fleece; swindle) to give CLINTON (president) - although I solved the clue mistakenly thinking that the LINT part of the solution was given by "fleece". Lint[5] is a fabric, originally of linen, with a raised nap on one side, used for dressing wounds he smeared ointment on a strip of lint.

15a   Object's mass, say (6)

The "correct" solution is MUTTER which is a charade of M (mass) + UTTER (say). "Object" here is a verb meaning say something to express one’s disapproval of or disagreement with something.

I thought the solution was MATTER since object[5] (as a noun) can mean a person or thing to which a specified action or feeling is directed (an object of public attention) and matter[5] is a subject or situation under consideration (a matter for public attention). Of course, an object is also a material thing that can be seen and touched which would qualify as matter in the sense of a physical substance in general and mass[5] is a large body of matter with no definite shape.

16a   Trouble starts to frighten those seeking to prevent it? (6)

The definition is "trouble". The solution FRACAS is a charade of FR (starts to frighten; note that "starts" is plural indicating that more than one letter must be used from "frighten") + ACAS (those seeking to prevent [trouble]; the pronoun "it" is standing in for the word "trouble").

The Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (Acas)[7] is a Crown non-departmental public body of the Government of the United Kingdom. Its purpose is to improve organisations and working life through the promotion and facilitation of strong industrial relations practice. It may do this through a number of mediums such as arbitration or mediation, although the service is perhaps best known for its collective conciliation function - that is resolving disputes between groups of employees or workers, often represented by a trade union, and their employers.

I had missed the significance of the word "starts" (rather than "start") and so had split the charade as F + RAC + AS where I assumed that RAC[7] referred to the British roadside assistance company which is an offshoot of the Royal Automobile Club[7]. Of course, I was at a loss to explain the final AS.

18a   Sharp copper's after facts (2,5)

Cu[5] is the symbol for the chemical element copper.

2d   Chemist supplies a drug - he runs out of stock (10)

In Britain, chemist[5] is the common name for a pharmacist. The Brits are expected to see "runs" as a reference to cricket where R[5] on a scorecard means run or runs.

3d   As deputy, resign? (6-2-7)

This is another clue where I got the correct solution but didn't fully comprehend the wordplay. To start with, the question mark is a clear indication that there is something offbeat about this clue. Dave Perry calls it a 'wordplay in solution' clue. In a cryptic crossword puzzle, the word RESIGN can be expressed as S (second) contained in (in) REIGN (command) — that is, "resign" can be expressed "as second-in-command". Since second-in-command is another term for deputy, it follows that "resign" can be expressed "as deputy".

5d   Power evident in huge military activity (3)

The sizes of clothing that North Americans would describe as plus-size[7] (or often big and tall in the case of men's clothing) would be called outsize (OS)[5] in Britain.

6d   One is somewhat tired of waiter's method (7)

Even though I knew exactly what I was looking for, I failed to find it. I knew the solution as there is (according to my word finder tools) only one word which matches the checking letters. So I knew that there must be an example (indicated by "one is ...") of an ANAGRAM in the clue. This is a definition by example clue (or as Dave Perry calls it a DBE).

12d   More attractive German city that is on river (7)

Bonny (also bonnie)[5] is used in Scottish and Northern English as an adjective meaning attractive or beautiful a bonny lass.

17d   Sabbath's not over for Saint (7)

St Swithin[5] (d.862) was an English ecclesiastic who was bishop of Winchester from 852. The tradition that if it rains on St Swithin’s day (July 15) it will do so for the next forty days may have its origin in the heavy rain said to have occurred when his relics were to be transferred to a shrine in Winchester cathedral.

19a   United, given long time, getting closer to Arsenal (7)

In the cryptic interpretation, "closer to Arsenal" refers to the closing (or final) letter of Arsenal. The setter uses FED in the sense of passed (the secret agent fed information to his handler). Manchester United[7] (commonly referred to simply as United) and Arsenal[7] are English football (soccer) clubs.

21d   Food for Mexican Army Officer (4)

In the UK, the Territorial Army (TA)[5] is a volunteer force locally organized to provide a reserve of trained and disciplined manpower for use in an emergency. We usually see this clued as "volunteers".
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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