Sunday, May 6, 2012

Sunday, May 6, 2012 - ST 4480

Puzzle at a Glance
Puzzle Number in The Sunday Times
ST 4480
Date of Publication in The Sunday Times
Sunday, April 8, 2012
Tim Moorey (?)
Link to Full Review
Times for the Times [ST 4480]
Times for the Times Review Written By
Dave Perry
Date of Publication in the Toronto Star
Saturday, April 28, 2012


Today, I managed to get down to one clue remaining before breaking out the Tool Chest. As usual, there are lots of British references in the puzzle and even an East Indian one. However, that should not be surprising as the British did carry a lot of words and expressions home from India. It took me so long to compose today's blog that one world leader mentioned in the puzzle was actually removed from office by his electorate as I wrote.

 If I have the rotation correct, then this puzzle should have been set by Tim Moorey but I didn't see anything at Times for the Times to confirm that.

The blog had a visit last week from someone using the alias HeSetsCrosswordsForTheTimes who is without doubt Dean Mayer (Anax) who set last week's puzzle. Welcome to the blog, Dean.

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.

4a   What snooker players do for cases  (10)

In Britain, screw[5] (in billiards and snooker) is backspin given to the cue ball by hitting it below centre, intended to make it move backwards after striking the object ball. As a verb (used with no object), it means to play a shot with screw Johnson chose to screw back for the pink.

9a   Country vegetable at back of garden (6)

In Britain, a swede[5] is a large, round yellow-fleshed root which is eaten as a vegetable. Also called rutabaga in North America.

10a   Like eggs in New York? Too simple (4,4)

In New York – or pretty much anywhere else in North America – over easy[5] is a term to describe a fried egg that is turned over when almost cooked and fried lightly on the other side, so that the yolk remains slightly liquid. Apparently, the term is not used in Britain; thus the "in New York" qualifier.

11a   Most excellent bit of advice in truth? (2,8)

This is an & lit. clue, one in which the entire clue serves as both definition and wordplay. The wordplay is BEST (most excellent) + {A (bit of advice; first letter of Advice) contained in (in) RIGHT (truth)}. In fact (in truth), one would certainly be well-advised to BE STRAIGHT.

14a   He's to leave US legal profession - its a wrench (1-3)

As Dave Perry mentions in his review (and seems not to fully understand), the Bar[5] in Britain refers to barristers collectively, whereas in North America it refers to lawyers collectively. In North America we do not have the same clear distinction between barristers and solicitors that exists in Britain. I encountered this in a previous puzzle and this is what I wrote then:
Barristers and solicitors are two classes of lawyer. However, the distinction between them varies in different jurisdictions around the world. The following attempt to differentiate the two classes is likely highly oversimplified.
The UK has a split legal profession in which barristers and solicitors have separate and distinct roles. Solicitors are attorneys which means they can act in the place of their client for legal purposes. However, a solicitor is not a member of the bar and is therefore cannot speak on behalf of a client in court. A barrister is not an attorney and is usually forbidden, either by law or professional rules or both, from "conducting" litigation. This means that while the barrister speaks on the client's behalf in court, he or she can do so only when instructed by a solicitor or certain other qualified professional clients, such as patent agents.

In the US and Canada (with the exception of Quebec), there is generally no legal or regulatory distinction between a barrister and a solicitor - with any qualified lawyer being entitled to practice in either field. In the US, most lawyers call themselves attorneys while in Canada, lawyers will adopt different titles depending on the type of legal practice on which they choose to concentrate (barrister, solicitor, or barrister and solicitor). [read more]
A T-bar[10] is a T-shaped wrench for use with a socket.

17a   Hostile attack where you may find a policeman sleeping? (6)

In the UK, a hump in the road intended to cause traffic to reduce speed is known as a sleeping policeman[5].

18a   Work next to Triest possibly rejected too much for an Italian (6)

Trieste[5] is a city and seaport in northeastern Italy near the border with Slovenia. Troppo[10] is an Italian word meaning too much.

23a   Seaman was one to contrive peerage and knockout left! (10)

David Seaman[7] is an English former football [soccer] goalkeeper who retired from the game in 2004.

25a   Bone china passed around right, with one variety of tea (8)

This was the last one in and I had to use some word finder software to identify candidate solutions. I was presented with three options: parietal, sagittal and varietal. The last word was the only one that I recognized (from my vineyard tours), and I was pretty sure that it was not the one I wanted (despite the similarity between this word and "variety" in the clue). I discovered that the other two words were, in fact, related, with sagittal[5] being an adjective meaning relating to or denoting the suture on top of the skull which runs between the parietal bones in a front to back direction. The word parietal[5] can be used either as an adjective (as in the previous sentence) or as a noun being a short form for parietal bone (or, for that matter, any parietal structure). By the way, I wonder what criteria is used to say that the suture runs from front to back as opposed to back to front?

I therefore concluded that PARIETAL was the most likely choice, making the definition "bone". I was now left with the task of sorting out the wordplay - and there were several promising leads which failed to pan out. I noticed that the first letter plus the last four letters might be an anagram (passed around) of PLATE (china). However, that would be an indirect anagram and I don't think those are permitted. Another possibility was that the last four letters are a reversal (around) of LATE (passed; deceased). I did eventually figure it out, as follows:

The wordplay is PAL (china) containing (passed around) {R (right) + I (one) + an anagram of (variety of) TEA}.

27a   Note about a don rebuffed with name forgotten? It's "thingummy"! (6)

I had not hear of thingummy[5] (or thingamy). However, it was not hard to guess what it meant since I was familiar with thingamabob[5] and thingamajig (if not with thingumabob and thingumajig). They are all informal terms for a person or thing whose name one has forgotten, does not know, or does not wish to mention one of those thingummies for keeping all the fire tools together.

Similarly, doodah[10] is an informal British term for an unnamed thing, especially an object the name of which is unknown or forgotten.The equivalent term in Canada and the US is doodad (which also seems to have gained some currency in Britain, judging by remarks at Times for the Times).

In Britain, a don[5] is a university teacher, especially a senior member of a college at Oxford or Cambridge.

29a   Huge cold beer ordered after lager's off (5-5)

The definition is "huge" and the wordplay is {C (cold) + ALE (beer)} following (ordered after) an anagram (off) of LAGERS. While the word "after" on its own could mean following, I think the phrase "ordered after" is to be interpreted in the sense of 'arranged so that it comes after'.

2d   What's given lead in Government employment policy? (3,4)

The question mark warns that the clue may be a bit unusual in some sense. It is what Dave Perry calls a wordplay-in-solution type clue and one that I have sometimes referred to as a reverse anagram. The solution is the wordplay for an anagram (i.e., the anagram indicator and fodder) and the result of the anagram operation is found in the clue.

The solution is NEW DEAL, with the New Deal[7] being a series of economic programs introduced by US President Franklin D. Roosevelt between 1933 and 1936. If one were to read this solution as wordplay, it would be an anagram (new) of DEAL which could be LEAD. The actual wordplay in the clue is "What's given lead" which one needs to interpret as "What has given lead?". The answer is an anagram of DEAL – which might appear in a cryptic crossword as "new deal".

3d   Make hay with one of the Kennedys (3)

Ted[3] means to strew or spread (newly mown grass, for example) for drying. The entry in  The American Heritage Dictionary goes on to say:
Regional Note: In 15th-century England the verb ted meant to spread newly cut hay to facilitate its drying. In the mid-19th century an American inventor produced a machine to ted the hay automatically and called it a tedder. Since modern English is inclined to make verbs out of nouns meaning implements or machines, the noun tedder became a verb with the same meaning as the original word ted. Tedder, a New England verb, also turns up in those parts of the Midwest that received settlers from New England.
8d   Callas stirred a famous house (2,5)

Maria Callas[7] (1923 – 1977) was an American-born Greek soprano and one of the most renowned opera singers of the 20th century. Born in New York City and raised by an overbearing mother, she received her musical education in Greece and established her career in Italy. Callas made her first appearance at La Scala in Verdi's I vespri siciliani in December 1951, and this theatre became her artistic home throughout the 1950s.

12d   Sarkozy's very casual intrusion (11)

Nicolas Sarkozy[7] is the 23rd President of the French Republic. In the election held today in France, he was defeated by Socialist Fran├žois Hollande to whom he is to hand over the reins of power on May 17.

19d   Funny father's sponge cake (3,4)

Baba[5] is an informal Indian term for father (often as a proper name or as a familiar form of address) ‘Baba and I have squabbled.’

24d   Anchor from Sky unrestricted has an advantage (5)

Sky[7] is the brand name for the digital satellite television and radio service of British Sky Broadcasting Group plc[7] (commonly known as BSkyB), a British satellite broadcasting, broadband and telephony services company headquartered in London, United Kingdom. BSkyB is the largest pay-TV broadcaster in the United Kingdom and Ireland with over 10 million subscribers.
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


  1. Would have been good for Canadian readers without close ties to the UK to have told us that "china" is PAL" because of cockney rhyming slang. The whole slang term is "china plate" which gives "mate" which ="pal"

  2. Hi DC,

    Welcome to the blog.

    I am sure that I had intended to mention that but it would appear that I may have been distracted by other elements of the wordplay. Like many Briticisms, the "china" = "pal" thing really threw me the first time that I encountered it. Now that I have seen it numerous times in puzzles, I sometimes have to remind myself that it is a British expression.