Monday, July 30, 2012

Sunday, July 22, 2012 - ST 4491

Puzzle at a Glance
Puzzle Number in The Sunday Times
ST 4491
Date of Publication in The Sunday Times
Sunday, June 24, 2012
Dean Mayer (Anax)
Link to Full Review
Times for the Times [ST 4491]
Times for the Times Review Written By
Dave Perry
Date of Publication in the Toronto Star
Saturday, July 14, 2012
Date of Publication in the Vancouver Sun
Saturday, July 21, 2012
This puzzle appears in the the Saturday, July 21, 2012 edition of the Ottawa Citizen.


This is by far the most difficult puzzle that I can recall ever having encountered — at least it is the puzzle that gave me the most difficulty. I worked away at it off-and-on for over a week, using every puzzle-solving tool at my disposal, before finally taking a peek (with eight clues left to solve) at Dave Perry's review at Times for the Times. From there, I got the solution to one of the unsolved clues — which was actually so simple that I kicked myself severely for not getting it on my own. Nevertheless, that one answer was just enough of a nudge to get me over the hump and I was then able to complete the puzzle — albeit with lots of assistance from the implements in my Tool Chest. I also discovered that I had an incorrect solution which had created a substantial obstacle to making progress in the lower right hand corner of the puzzle.

Note on Publication Schedule for the Ottawa Citizen

As of this weekend, the Ottawa Citizen will no longer publish an edition on Sunday. Many features, including The Sunday London Times Crossword, which formerly appeared in the Sunday edition of the paper, are now found in the newly-christened Weekend Edition of the paper (which comes out on Saturday). Since the Citizen considers this to be a Sunday crossword, I will continue to identify it as such.

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   Try to put potty back (4)

Potty[10] is an informal British term meaning foolish or slightly crazy.

3a   Got rid of a mind (8)

This is the clue for which I sought help from Dave Perry's review. Although it is quite straight forward, I made life difficult for myself by trying to split the clue after the word "of" — rather than before. It is a double definition with the two parts being "got rid" and "of a mind". I had mistakenly included the "of" with the first part. Of course, "got rid of" means "disposed of" implying that "got rid" must mean "disposed". After realizing my folly, I was "of a mind" to kick myself.

10a   Right contact number in this French business (9)

In French grammar, ce[8] is a determiner meaning this.

11a   Huge 2 in port (5)

The number "2" is a cross-reference indicator. To complete the clue, one must substitute the solution to 2d (which happens to be the only entry starting on the square numbered 2) in place of the cross-reference indicator. Had there also been a clue 2a in the puzzle, the setter would have needed to specify which of the two solutions was intended.

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.

16a   How one gets alternative view from panorama immediately? (2,3,4,2,1,3)

It should be fairly obvious that Dave Perry meant to say "to get OR (alternative) ..."

20a   Speak softly and see females calm down (4,3)

Lo[5] is an archaic exclamation used to draw attention to an interesting or amazing event and lo, the star, which they saw in the east, went before them.

21a   Around leg, primarily, one has a leg support (7)

This is the clue that I had wrong for quite some time — before the solution to one of the down clues showed me the error of my ways. I had CRAMPON (a device attached to boots for walking on ice or snow) as "a leg support" based mainly on "leg" and "ON" being synonymous cricket terms. Of course, a crampon really isn't a leg brace and I had no explanation for CRAMP — but then that is hardly unusual with some of the obscure British terms that show up in these puzzles.

The leg brace is, in reality, a caliper[10] (which Collins English Dictionary identifies as the usual US spelling of calliper). This medical device, also known as a calliper splint, is a splint consisting of two metal rods with straps attached, for supporting or exerting tension on the leg.

The wordplay is a charade of CA (around) + L (leg, primarily; i.e., the first letter of Leg) + I ([Roman numeral for] one) + (has) PER (a). In the final part of the charade, the PER is clued simply by the word "a", as in "To play a single, one would set the phonograph to play at 45 revolutions a minute."

23a   Tip on rocks? (5)

This is an & lit.[7] (or all-in-one) clue, one in which the entire clue serves as both definition and wordplay. In the wordplay, we have an anagram (rocks) of TIP ON. As a definition, point[10] might refer to a promontory, one usually smaller than a cape (although it is conceivable that the setter had some other meaning in mind, such as the top of a mountain).

24a   It can be smoked — cigarette — before water in France (9)

Gaspereau[10] is a Canadian name (and a regional one at that) for the alewife (a type of fish). I was a bit surprised to encounter this word in a British puzzle, as this is a term used mainly in Atlantic Canada.

Gasper[10] is old-fashioned British slang for a cheap cigarette. Eau[8] is the French word for water.

26a   Weak in one's mind (4)

Nesh[5] is an English dialect term meaning (especially of a person) weak and delicate or feeble : it was nesh to go to school in a topcoat. Neither Oxford nor Collins specify to which of the more than twenty-five English dialects[7] this term belongs.

4d   Main hazard when diver starts to cough it up (7)

Even when I managed to find the correct solution, I didn't necessarily know why. The wordplay here is a reversal (up) of {GREBE (diver; i.e., a diving bird) + C + I (the initial letters [starts to] of Cough It)}. Main[10] is a literary term denoting the open ocean or an archaic short form for the Spanish Main[10] (the Caribbean Sea). Here it undoubtedly means the former as icebergs hardly constitute a significant shipping hazard in the Caribbean.

6d   Small gift on day you have turkey leg? (8,6)

I missed some of the wordplay here (the latter part). The clue is a double definition, with the two definitions being "small gift on the day you have turkey" and "leg?". In Britain, the stockings hung by the fireplace at Christmas ("the day you have turkey") are stuffed with stocking fillers[5], whereas in North American they are filled with stocking stuffers. The rest of the year, the stockings would be filled by your leg. The cryptic nature of the second definition is indicated by the question mark.

7d   Nasty meal, assuming cod being cooked (9)

In British and Irish slang, cod[10] can be a verb meaning (1) to make fun of or tease or (2) to play a trick on or fool or a noun denoting a hoax or trick. Also, in the UK, rag[10] can be a verb meaning to play rough practical jokes on (someone) or a noun denoting a boisterous practical joke, especially one on a fellow student. I presume that on means "being cooked" in the sense that a chef might inquire of an assistant "Are the potatoes on?" implying 'on the stove'.

17d Official letter — United's in exile (7)

In the UK, United would likely be seen as a reference to the Manchester United Football Club[7], although it could also seemingly refer to a long list of other football (soccer) clubs[7].

19   Over finished, but having secured runs (7)

The surface reading is a reference to cricket where an over[5] is a division of play in which a sequence of six balls is bowled by a bowler from one end of the pitch, after which another bowler takes over from the other end. I was struggling with the wordplay as there seemed to be an extra word present — and in fact there is. The definition is "over" or "finished" — take your pick. They each mean THROUGH. The wordplay is THOUGH (but) containing (having secured) R (runs; an abbreviation that would be found on a cricket scorecard).
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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