Sunday, May 20, 2012

Sunday, May 20, 2012 -ST 4482

Puzzle at a Glance
Puzzle Number in The Sunday Times
ST 4482
Date of Publication in The Sunday Times
Sunday, April 22, 2012
Dean Mayer (Anax)
Link to Full Review
Times for the Times [ST 4482]
Times for the Times Review Written By
Dave Perry
Date of Publication in the Toronto Star
Saturday, May 12, 2012


Today marks somewhat of a milestone, as it is the third anniversary of the first post to this blog which happened on May 17, 2009. The blog has evolved over the course of those years, but the raison d'ĂȘtre remains the same – to attempt to make The Sunday London Times Crossword more accessible to Canadian readers by explaining the many British references found therein. I am a native-born Canadian and thus British English is a foreign language to me. My knowledge of Briticisms comes from an electronic stack of British dictionaries combined with a few years of experience in doing British cryptic crossword puzzles. I don't always get things right, but I think it's safe to say that the bloomers are fewer and farther between now than they were in the early days of the blog.

There is a lot of tricky wordplay in this puzzle – and definitely more than the normal quota of clues in which the solution involves at least a partial reversal. I probably finished about half the puzzle on my own before turning to my electronic aids for assistance.

At least I didn't need to guess who compiled this puzzle, as Dave Perry has clearly identified the setter to be Dean Mayer (Anax).

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.

3a   Reason for guttering port buildings here in Ireland (7)

Wicklow[7] is a port located south of Dublin on the east coast of Ireland.

In the surface reading, "guttering" seems to be used in the sense of "installing gutters on". Although I was not able to find this sense of the word in the British dictionaries, the American Heritage Dictionary does define gutter[3] as a verb meaning to provide with gutters.

The clue is a double definition, with the first being "reason for guttering". Gutter[5], in reference to a candle or flame means to flicker and burn unsteadily. I believe the second definition is a terse way of stating "port buildings [are found] here in Ireland". Thus, while "here in Ireland" could have sufficed to clue this Irish town, Anax has given us a bit of additional information to help or possibly hinder us in identifying this Irish port.

10a   Old lady not topless with this French rope (9)

Ce[8] is a masculine form of the French demonstrative adjective meaning 'this'. Like Dave Perry, I had to chuckle when the penny finally dropped.

11a   Drying floor the wrong way leads to lecture (11)

Both floor[5] and pave[5] seem to be used as verbs, with the former meaning to provide (a room or area) with a floor and the latter meaning to cover (a piece of ground) with flat stones or bricks. While one would generally think of one referring to interior work and the other to exterior work, I suppose they are somewhat related tasks.

24a   Finds time to go wandering (5)

Find[5] is used as a noun meaning a discovery of something valuable, typically something of archaeological interest he made his most spectacular finds in the Valley of the Kings. This collection of finds might well be called a trove.

26a   What you might say about your underwear? (1-6)

Beware clues ending in question marks. Y-fronts[5] is a British trademark for men’s or boys' underpants with a branching seam at the front in the shape of an upside-down Y. How might one describe the word "your"? Well, 'Y' fronts it and 'OUR' finishes it. [I recall having been exposed to Y-fronts in a previous puzzle, but I must confess that I needed a gentle nudge from Dave Perry for that final bit.]

1d   Is freighter full of iron from Calais for ships at Dover? (3,7)

Another question mark. Here "is" is used in the sense of "acts as" or "performs the role of". Thus "is freighter" clues CARRIES (a freighter carries cargo). Calais[7] is a town and major ferry port in Northern France across the English Channel from Dover, England. Car ferries run between Dover and Calais. Fer[8] is the French word for iron.

3d   Boxing ring surrounded by unusually nice steel bench (3,5,7)

It seems that boxing has long been referred to as "the noble art" or "the noble science". According to the Merriam-Webster's Collegiate® Dictionary, Eleventh Edition noble art is short for "noble art of boxing" and noble science is short for "noble science of defense". [Reference]

Henry Fielding wrote in his novel Tom Jones (published in 1749), "This matter then, which put an end to the debate mentioned in the last chapter, was no other than a quarrel between Master Blifil and Tom Jones, the consequence of which had been a bloody nose to the former; for though Master Blifil, notwithstanding he was the younger, was in size above the other's match, yet Tom was much his superior at the noble art of boxing."

During the 1500's, "The Corporation of Masters of the Noble Science of Defence", or the "Company of Masters", was an organized guild offering instruction in the traditional English forms of self-defense. [read more]

4d   Unable to feel for insectivore (6)

The equivalence of "for" and "at" took a while to register. I initially thought that it might work in the sense of "I''ll be there at five o'clock" and "I'll be there for five o'clock". An even better example might be "The band was selling copies of its new CD for $10.00" or "... at $10.00")

6d   Senior MP's scrap leading to awkward time in case (7,8)

In Britain, bin[5] is used as a verb meaning to throw (something) away by putting it in a bin (a receptacle in which to deposit rubbish) piles of junk that should have been binned years ago. The use of the word to mean a receptacle is certainly far from being unheard of in Canada (I have a compost bin in my back yard – or, for British readers, my back garden). However, the word is virtually never used as a verb here.

16d   NCO material (8)

In the Catholic Church, the corporal[7] (from Latin corpus "body") is a square white linen cloth, now usually somewhat smaller than the breadth of the altar, upon which the chalice and paten, and also the ciborium containing the smaller hosts for the Communion of the laity, are placed during the celebration of the Eucharist (Mass).

19d   Good news about artist's unknown relative (6)

RA[5] is the abbreviation for Royal Academician, a member of the Royal Academy of the Arts[5], an institution established in London in 1768, whose purpose is to cultivate painting, sculpture, and architecture in Britain.

In algebra, y is used as symbol to represent an unknown quantity.
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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