Sunday, August 12, 2012

Sunday, August 12, 2012 - ST 4494

Puzzle at a Glance
Puzzle Number in The Sunday Times
ST 4494
Date of Publication in The Sunday Times
Sunday, July 15, 2012
Dean Mayer (Anax)
Link to Full Review
Times for the Times [ST 4494]
Times for the Times Review Written By
Dave Perry
Date of Publication in the Toronto Star
Saturday, August 4, 2012
Date of Publication in the Vancouver Sun
Saturday, August 11, 2012


Today's puzzle was certainly a formidable challenge. I was able to complete most of the bottom half of the puzzle without aid but needed every tool at my disposal for the top half. I came close to throwing in the towel on a couple of occasions, but persevered and eventually finished it — although without completely understanding the wordplay in a couple of instances.

By the way, did anyone notice an acknowledgement by the Citizen of their cock-up (as the Brits would call it) from last weekend where they published the wrong puzzle (repeating ST 4492 instead of printing ST 4493). I certainly didn't see any mea culpa from the editor.

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   Hospital radio presenter describes American pilgrimage (4)

In Britain, the host of a radio or television program is called a "presenter".  "Describes" is used in the sense of to trace the outline of something (as a skater describes figures on the ice).

3a   Removing frost, feels a breeze? (10)

"Removing" here is an anagram indicator. Remove[5] is used in the dated sense of to change one’s home or place of residence by moving to another place.

9a   Fly paper said to be rubbish (9)

The definition is "fly" and the anagram indicator is "to be rubbish".

11a   Stop putting earth in box (5)

In Britain, earth[5] (abbreviation E[10]) means an electrical connection to the ground, regarded as having zero electrical potential ensure metal fittings are electrically bonded to earth. In North America, an electrical connection to the earth is known as a ground[5]. I love the way Oxford mirrors the definitions — in Britain, an earth is a connection to the ground and, in North America, a ground is a connection to the earth!). Of course, earth can also be used as a verb meaning to connect (an electrical device) with the ground the front metal panels must be soundly earthed [or, in North America, grounded].

12a   Instructions for PC might be easier to do on PC (9,5)

The anagram indicator is "might be".

14a   Ball you casually hit for six lifted over this? (8)

To knock or hit (someone) for six[5] is an informal British expression meaning to utterly surprise or overcome someone this business has knocked her for six. Here it is used as an anagram indicator, operating on the fodder "lifted". Appropriately, the expression "hit for six" is an allusion to cricket where a ball hit in the air beyond the boundary of the field scores 6 runs. The outfield is the area of the cricket ground just inside the boundary.

I had most of the wordplay here but was trying to derive the O from the word "over" which is a division of play in cricket. Instead, as I learned from Dave Perry, the O comes from "ball" (which looks like the letter O).

15a   Holiday that is extremely short taken by footballers (6)

In Spanish-speaking countries, a fiesta is a festival or religious holiday, especially a saint's day[3,4]. In Britain, the term is also used to mean a holiday or carnival[4].

The wordplay is {IE (that is) + ST (extremely short; the extreme letters of ShorT)} contained in (taken by) FA (footballers; Football Association[7], the governing body of English football [soccer]}.

17a   Setter's play on words embodies good challenge (6)

It is a common cryptic crossword convention for the creator of the puzzle to use terms such as setter, compiler, author, or writer to refer to himself or herself. To solve such a clue, one must substitute a first person pronoun (I or me) for whichever of these terms has been used  in the clue. In this clue, the setter adds a verb to the mix (in the cryptic reading), requiring us to replace "setter's" (a contraction for "setter is") with "I'm" (a contraction for "I am").

22a   Dockland garage's dodgy secret? (5-3-6)

Docklands is the semi-official name for an area in east and southeast London, England. It forms part of the boroughs of Southwark, Tower Hamlets, Newham and Greenwich. The docks were formerly part of the Port of London, at one time the world's largest port. They have now been redeveloped principally for commercial and residential use. Well-known landmarks in the Docklands are the O2 entertainment district and the Canary Wharf financial district.

24a   Best (or not) (5)

Believe it or not, best[5] — meaning to outwit or get the better of (someone) she refused to allow herself to be bested — and worst[5] (meaning to get the better of or defeat this was not the time for a deep discussion—she was tired and she would be worsted ) are synonyms.

25a   Rough rogue's progress around city (9)

I wonder if a capital C got lost during the journey across the Atlantic — or is the lower case c just a bit of cryptic misdirection. In any event, "city" is standing in for The City (defined below). Furthermore, the setter uses it as a surrogate for the EC postcode area (postcode being the British equivalent of the Canadian postal code or American zip code).

The City[5] is (1) short for the City of London or (2) the financial and commercial institutions located in the City of London • (i) the Budget got a stony reception from the City; (ii) [as modifier] a City analyst. Note that the City of London[5] is not the city of London, but merely the part of London situated within the ancient boundaries and governed by the Lord Mayor and the Corporation[5] (which, in Britain, is a group of people elected to govern a city, town, or borough the City of London Corporation).

The EC (Eastern Central) postcode area[7] (also known as the London EC postcode area) is a group of postcode districts in central London, England. It includes almost all of the City of London as well as parts of several other London Boroughs.

26a   Rough rogue's opportunity around hunting area (6,4)

A moor[5] is a tract of open uncultivated upland, typically covered with heather — which is also known as a heath[5].

27a   Spotted fish in sound (4)

Ide[5] is another term for orfe[5], a silvery freshwater fish of the carp family, which is fished commercially in eastern Europe.

2d   It falls down from 9 (7)

This is a highly irregular clue employing a device that I have never before encountered.While I managed to find the correct solution, I had little idea why it was correct.

Usually a number in a clue indicates a cross-reference to the solution of another clue. Therefore, I was trying to incorporate "disappear" (the solution to 9a) into this clue — which would produce "It falls down from disappear"! Reading Dave Perry's review at Times for the Times, I discovered that the cross-reference indicator is the phrase "down from 9". Thus the word we need is not the solution to 9a, but rather a word starting at grid location 9 and going down (or, in other words, part of the solution to 1d). To further complicate matters, we need only the first four of the eight letters which are found there (i.e., we need DROP rather than DROPONIC).

Substituting this into the present clue, we get "It falls drop (7)", a double definition (with an extremely ugly surface reading) having the solution DESCENT.

4d   Not hard to run around team with ball, oddly (8)

The definition is "not hard" and the wordplay is FLEE (run) containing (around) {XI (team) + BL (ball, oddly; the odd-numbered letters of BaLl) to give FLEXIBLE. An eleven[5] (Roman numeral XI) is a sports team of eleven players at cricket I played in the first eleven.

5d   One opens two circles in a row? (6)

The definition is (I think) "in a row" and the wordplay is A (one) contained in (opens; splits) {O ([first of] two circles) + ring ([second of] two circles)} to give OARING.

I don't think the definition can be merely "row" since row and oar are synonyms as verbs — thus rowing and oaring are synonyms. However, row[10] can also be a noun meaning an act, instance, period, or distance of rowing. Therefore, "in a row" would mean "in an act of rowing" which could be shortened to simply "rowing" (or OARING).

8d   Colour of sun on gardens (4)

The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew[7], usually referred to as Kew Gardens, is 121 hectares of gardens and botanical glasshouses [greenhouses] between Richmond and Kew in southwest London, England which is home to the world's largest collection of living plants.
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 comment:

  1. Hi there Falcon
    Many thanks for a typically excellent blog. Just a quick note to mention that observant solvers may have noticed a 'hello' to my ST setting colleagues hidden in the first and last pairs of across answers ;o)