Sunday, July 15, 2012

Sunday, July 15, 2012 - ST 4490

Puzzle at a Glance
Puzzle Number in The Sunday Times
ST 4490
Date of Publication in The Sunday Times
Sunday, June 17, 2012
Jeff Pearce
Link to Full Review
Times for the Times [ST 4490]
Times for the Times Review Written By
Dave Perry
Date of Publication in the Toronto Star
Saturday, July 7, 2012
Date of Publication in the Vancouver Sun
Saturday, July 14, 2012


I thought there was a not inconsiderable bit of tricky wordplay today. The southwest corner certainly put up a valiant struggle and I needed all the help that I could possibly muster from my electronic reinforcements. However, it was 10a which held out to the very end before finally being vanquished.

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.

10a   One in six touring hilly area of Italy (6)

I had figured out the solution (based on the definition and checking letters) early in the solving process. Nevertheless, similar to Dave Perry, I only deciphered the wordplay after I had finished the puzzle. Here, "six" is a cross-reference to clue 6d meaning that the solution to the latter clue must be inserted in place of the cross-reference indicator in the present clue. In my experience, spelling out the cross-reference indicator, as today's setter has done, rather than using a numeral is unusual — but not unprecedented.

The definition is "hilly area of Italy" (which is UMBRIA). The wordplay (after substituting for the cross-reference indicator) is "one in RUMBA touring" which parses as I (one) contained in (in) an anagram (touring) of RUMBA.

13a   People on the estate, say, in the pink (9)

In Britain, a station wagon[5] is known as an estate car[5] (which is often shortened to just estate[5]). Pink[5] is often used as another name for a carnation although it is properly a family of plants that includes the carnations.

14a   Ramsay is one taking break with influential film director outside art institution (12)

Gordon Ramsay[7] is a British chef, television personality and restaurateur. Devotees of the Food Channel will recognize him as the foul-mouthed host of a number of cooking shows.

RA[5] is the abbreviation for Royal Academy (in full, 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.

18a   Sailor with a collection of spices volunteers dip (12)

Masala is a mixture of spices ground into a paste, used in Indian cookery. Taramasalata is a creamy pale pink pâté, made from the roe of grey mullet or smoked cod and served as an hors d'oeuvre.

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.

23a   One resting Python star gets runs (5)

Eric Idle[7] is an English comedian, actor, author, singer, writer, and comedic composer. He was a member of the British surreal comedy group Monty Python, a member of the The Rutles on Saturday Night Live, and is the author of the Broadway musical Spamalot.

24a   Heading for The Sun "This Maze prisoner ended up in the drink" (6)

To solve this clue, one needs to know a bit about Greek mythology. As Dave Perry explains a bit more fully, Icarus[7] (having been imprisoned along with his father, Daedalus, in the labyrinth) escaped using wings fashioned from feathers and wax. However, he flew too close the sun, melting the wax, which caused him to fall into the sea and be drowned.

To fall for the misdirection in the surface reading, one needs to have some knowledge of things British. The Sun[7] is a daily national tabloid newspaper published in the United Kingdom. The Maze[7] was a prison in Northern Ireland that was used to house paramilitary prisoners during the Troubles from mid-1971 to mid-2000.

2d   Almost notice aristo in a state (6)

Aristo[10] is an informal [seemingly British] short form for aristocrat.

3d   Recently auctioned painting features our dairy product (4,5)

The Scream[7] is the popular name given to each of four versions of a composition, created as both paintings and pastels, by the Expressionist artist Edvard Munch between 1893 and 1910. Three of the paintings are held by European museums. The fourth was sold at auction in May to a private collector for $119,922,500.

4d   Here one gets exotic foods of a tender texture with Scottish water served up (12)

Loch Ness[7] is a body of water in the Highlands of Scotland that is reputedly home to a famous sea creature.

6d   Steps taken for sport and business qualification (5)

Think dance steps.

Rugby union (RU)[5] is a form of rugby played in teams of fifteen, in contrast to rugby league[5], which is played in teams of thirteen.

7d   Inmate becomes unruly without right disciplinarian (8)

The word "without" is used in the sense of 'outside of' rather than 'lacking'.

11d   Ivan's money and dope found in extremely treacherous areas of conflict (7,5)

In cryptic crosswords, Ivan is a Russian gent — just as Ian is a Scotsman and Paddy is an Irishman.

19d   Soldier carrying old instrument displays muscles (6)

This showoff soldier is American — not British.

22d   Condiment well spoken of (5)

The condiment is SAUCE and the wordplay is sounds like (spoken of) SOURCE (well; in the sense of a spring). To understand this homophone, remember that the Brits do not pronounce (or pronounce indistinctly) the final R on words — and to compensate, they like to insert an R into words where none exists. Thus "sauce" is pronounced the same as (or very similar to) "source". I have been told by former Brits that there are in the order of 50 regional dialects in Britain. It is therefore not surprising that these homophone-type clues often do not play well in various regions of the UK — let alone travel well across the Atlantic.
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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