Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Sunday, July 29, 2012 - ST 4492

Puzzle at a Glance
Puzzle Number in The Sunday Times
ST 4492
Date of Publication in The Sunday Times
Sunday, July 1, 2012
Tim Moorey
Link to Full Review
Times for the Times [ST 4492]
Times for the Times Review Written By
Dave Perry
Date of Publication in the Toronto Star
Saturday, July 21, 2012
Date of Publication in the Vancouver Sun
Saturday, July 28, 2012
This puzzle appears in the the Saturday, July 28, 2012 edition of the Ottawa Citizen.


I have been a bit swamped lately and struggling to keep up with all the puzzles (solving and blogging). However, I am now caught up for the moment - until the next deluge arrives. With several puzzles simultaneously on the go (in various stages of solving or blogging), it is not always an easy task to keep them clearly sorted in my mind and they sometimes seem to become just one big blur.

This puzzle from Tim Moorey, as I recall, was considerably less of a solving challenge for me than the one the previous week from Dean Mayer. However, it does contain quite a few British references. Since I had encountered many of them in previous puzzles, they did not hamper me too much in solving the puzzle, but they do increase the blogging workload.

In my review, I try to provide explanations for any British references that may be unfamiliar to North American readers as well as to define terms from various specialized fields. Often setters will make use of abbreviations that arise from specific uses of common words in specialized fields of endeavour. An example from today's puzzle is the use of H as a symbol representing the henry which is the SI unit of inductance. Many novice solvers wrongly believe that H is just an abbreviation for the man's name Henry and, therefore, mistakenly assume that any other given name can be similarly abbreviated.

I always try to provide a detailed parsing for a few of the more difficult clues where I think readers might need more of an explanation than is provided in Dave Perry's review at Times for the Times. If the solution to any clue is not clear to you, please leave a comment and I would be pleased to explain it.

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   Poles become tired approaching county (10)

Staffs.[5] is the abbreviation for Staffordshire[5], a county of central England.

2a   Call for aid, oxygen just OK (2,2)

The symbol for the chemical element oxygen is O[5].

10a   Last word about copper shows ability to make good judgements (6)

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

11a   Article containing rubbish about humble Aussie newcomer (4-2)

In Britain, a receptacle in which to deposit rubbish is called a bin[5]. In Australia, blow-in[5] is an informal term for a newcomer or recent arrival.

13a   Neat French cap reduced in spring-time (4-4)

Kepi (worn by the French Foreign Legion)
A kepi is a French military cap with a horizontal peak.

17a   HP Sauce with pie and two hours for perfection! (4,8)

Hire purchase[5] is a system used in Britain by which one pays for a thing in regular instalments while having the use of it. In North America, such an arrangement would be called buying on the installment plan or rent to own (or lease to own).[7]

21a   Bargain housing indeed around for those on soft left (6)

In Britain, a snip[5] is a surprisingly cheap item or, in other words, a bargain the wine is a snip at £3.65. According to both Oxford[5] and Collins, pinko[10] (a person regarded as mildly left-wing) is chiefly a North American term.

The definition is "those on the soft left" and the wordplay is a reversal (around) of {SNIP (bargain) containing (housing) OK (indeed)} to give the solution PINKOS.

22a   US military transport and motor vessel, English in appearance (6)

A motor vessel (abbreviation MV)[10] is a ship whose main propulsion system is a diesel or other internal-combustion engine. The name of a motor vessel is often prefixed with MV. A Humvee[5] is a type of American four-wheel-drive all-terrain military vehicle. The name is derived from the initials of high-mobility multi-purpose vehicle.

26a   Prophet is one to give you comfort externally, for example (10)

The definition is "prophet" and I parse the wordplay as SOOTHER (one to give you comfort) containing (externally for) SAY (example) to produce the solution SOOTHSAYER.

I initially tried to make this work using SAY = "for example" but, at least to my way of thinking, "externally" just doesn't seem to function properly on its own as a containment indicator.

2d   Help with case on adult spread (5,3)

Leg and on are synonymous cricket terms. The  on[5] (also called the on side) is the half of the field (as divided lengthways through the pitch) away from which the batsman's feet are pointed when standing to receive the ball. Another term for this side of the field is the leg side[5] (also called simply the leg).

Adult (abbreviation A)[10] was formerly a film certification in Britain designating a film certified for viewing by anyone, but which contains material that some parents may not wish their children to see. The A certification has been superseded by the PG (Parental Guidance) certification.[7]

4d   Henry's cutting rent projection for plant (5)

In physics, the henry (abbreviation H) is the SI unit of inductance, equal to an electromotive force of one volt in a closed circuit with a uniform rate of change of current of one ampere per second.

5d   Destroyer needing sort of sly waft? (3,4)

In Britain, fly swat[5] is another name for a fly swatter.

6d   Little buzzer on right not worth mentioning (5,4)

Small beer[5] is a British expression to describe a thing that is considered unimportant even with £10,000 to invest, you are still small beer for most stockbrokers.

7d   No ketchup is ordered for mobile food stall (4,7)

Once I finally figured out the solution, I wondered why a soup kitchen would be defined as a "mobile food stall" since my image was of a rather more permanent establishment. Oxford only served to confirm my misgivings, defining a soup kitchen[5] as a place where free food is served to those who are homeless or destitute. However, Collins (which seems to be the favourite dictionary of the Sunday Times puzzle team) provided an explanation, proclaiming a soup kitchen[10] to be a place or mobile stall where food and drink, especially soup, is served to destitute people.

12d   Guards dither about those caught running (7,4)

On cricket scorecards, the abbreviation c[5] indicates caught (by) ME Waugh c Lara b Walsh 19.

16d   Neckwear of a union in Glasgow? (5,3)

Question marks and exclamation points in clues are usually a warning that the setter is being a bit mischievous and that we are likely to encounter a twist of some kind in the wordplay. Since Glasgow[7] is a city in Scotland (the largest, in fact), a union (or tie, in the sense of a bond or link) in Glasgow could be described as A SCOT TIE which, if numerated (5,3) would become a form of neckwear.

19d   The French stick with Egyptian vegetable (6)

In this clue, I don't think that "stick" means a stick of chewing gum (which was my first thought). Gum is a synonym for glue and though it is not a word that I would be likely to use, it is found with this meaning in American (as well as British) dictionaries. Gum[4] (as a verb) means to to stick together or in place with gum (the noun).

21d   A chain is a measure of length (5)

Talk about a convoluted clue! This is going to take a bit of explanation, so bear with me.

This is a charade type clue where the wordplay is PER (A) + CH (chain) producing the solution PERCH (a measure of length).

In the first part of the clue, "A" is used to mean PER, as it is used in the following statement "As a teenager, I had a large collection of singles which had to be played at 45 revolutions a minute" where the more technical term would be 'revolutions per minute'.

A chain[3,4] is a unit of length (although this fact is largely incidental to the solving of the clue, it does serve to add an additional level of obfuscation to the clue). In fact, a chain is either of two units of length. In surveying, it is a unit of 66 feet (Gunter's chain) while, in engineering, it is a unit of 100 feet (engineer's chain). However, what matters to us as puzzle solvers is that whatever its length, it can be abbreviated as ch.[10]

The solution, perch, is a historical measure (once used in Britain). A perch[5] (also called a pole or a rod) is a measure of length, especially for land, equal to a quarter of a [surveyor's] chain or 5 1/2 yards.

To further confuse matters, a perch (also known as a square perch, pole, square pole, rod, or square rod) is a measure of area, especially for land, equal to 160th of an acre or 30 1/4 square yards.

All of this goes a long way to explaining why we needed the metric system!

24d   It may be high in the afternoon (3)

In Britain, high tea[5] is a meal eaten in the late afternoon or early evening, typically consisting of a cooked dish, bread and butter, and tea.
Key to Reference Sources: 

[1]   - The Chambers Dictionary, 11th Edition
[2]   - Search Chambers - (Chambers 21st Century Dictionary)
[3]   - TheFreeDictionary.com (American Heritage Dictionary)
[4]   - TheFreeDictionary.com (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] - CollinsDictionary.com (Collins English Dictionary)

Signing off for this week - Falcon

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