Sunday, September 23, 2012

Sunday, September 23, 2012 - ST 4500

Puzzle at a Glance
Puzzle Number in The Sunday Times
ST 4500
Date of Publication in The Sunday Times
Sunday, August 26, 2012
Dean Mayer (Anax)
Link to Full Review
Times for the Times [ST 4500]
Times for the Times Review Written By
Dave Perry
Date of Publication in the Toronto Star
Saturday, September 15, 2012
Date of Publication in the Vancouver Sun
Saturday, September 22, 2012
This puzzle appears on the Sunday Puzzles pages in the Saturday, September 22, 2012 edition of The Ottawa Citizen.


As usual, Anax throws some pretty tricky wordplay at us — some of which admittedly went over my head. However, I was under a bit of time pressure today, so my failure to decipher all the clues is — at least, in part — due to not devoting sufficient time to unravel the complications.

I would like to extend a belated Happy Birthday to Anax who, judging by Dave Perry's remarks, apparently turned 50 on September 6.

Revisiting ST 4494

You may have noticed that Anax left a comment on my review of ST 4494 (which appeared in The Ottawa Citizen on August 12, 2012). I meant to acknowledge his comment but it seems to have slipped my mind until now. He points out that "observant solvers [obviously I am not within that group] may have noticed a 'hello' to my ST setting colleagues hidden in the first and last pairs of across answers". The first two pairs of across answers were HADJ EFFORTLESS DISAPPEAR CEASE and the last two pairs were WORST IMPRECISE GROUSEMOOR EYED. Hidden in these two word strings, one finds the names of the other two Sunday Times cryptic crossoword setters, Jeff Pearce and Tim Moorey.

A hidden feature such as this is known as a Nina which Tilsit has explained on Big Dave's Crossword Blog as follows:
I think I shall start this review by introducing you to a new word. Or at least a word whose meaning you are not familiar with. NINA. What is it, O wise one, you ask? Well, gentle reader, it’s a word that has been adapted by crossword setters to mean something hidden in a crossword that you may not be aware of. Quite a few puzzles have Ninas, although you’d never know if you were not looking for them.

The Nina is actually named after the daughter of American artist Al Hirschfeld, who would hide things in his drawings that are related to Nina, his daughter. And so crossword setters happily nicked the idea for their puzzles as well. Some contain little messages like HAPPY BIRTHDAY or suchlike around the perimeter or in the rows between the answers. Sometimes some of the answers are linked in a sort of private joke. Some of you may know that I compile puzzles for the Independent General Knowledge Jumbo series (as Harbinger, I’m in this Saturday’s paper by the way!) and in July, a puzzle of mine read HAPPY BIRTHDAY BERYL across the top, as a tribute to my lovely sister who was celebrating her birthday on the day it was published. The Sunday Telegraph recently had a General Knowledge puzzle where a lot of the answers were the names of Toughie Crossword compilers. The Telegraph Crossword actually has a sort of famous history of Ninas going back to World War II, where the then setter Leonard Dawe published several puzzles that inadvertently contained the top secret codenames of the D-Day beaches just before the landings happened, and he was hauled in for questioning.   Although that article says it was coincidence, Dawe was a teacher and used to encourage his pupils, some of whom were sons of RAF Officers, to supply words for him to put in the puzzles.

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   To go down on record describing doctor's round (3,3,4)

I was unable to complete this one, despite having got as far as FOR THE D_O_ (although I had reservations concerning the second O). My downfall was supposing that the definition must be "to go down on record" (FOR THE ****).

I learn from Dave Perry that the definition is "to go down". I could find this expression in only one dictionary, The Chambers Dictionary, 11th Edition, which defines for the drop[1] as an informal term meaning about to be relegated or about to be hanged (which suggests that the clue might better have read "About to go down ...").

In British sports (and also in international sports competitions such as IIHF tournaments), relegation is the demotion of a sports team to a lower division. For instance, if relegation were to be introduced to North American hockey, the team that finished last in the NHL standings would play the next season in the AHL and its spot in the NHL would be assumed by the AHL Calder Cup champions.

As Dave Perry outlines, the wordplay is FORTH (on) + EP (record) containing (describing) {DR (doctor) + O (round; a letter that has a round shape)}. I think that forth is used as in the following example "after spending the night at the inn, we went forth ["went on" or continued our journey] the next morning".

The use of "describe" as a containment indicator is a common cryptic crossword convention. This device relies on describe[3] being used in the sense of to trace the form or outline of • describe a circle with a compass. Thus, in today's clue, we have EP containing (describing) DRO with the rationale for the wordplay being that the container (EP) forms an outline around the contained entity (DRO) in a similar manner to the circumference of a circle forming an outline around the circular area contained within it.

10a   On one form of deism it's allowed (11)

The wordplay is "on one form of deism it" and the definition is "allowed". The 's (a contraction for is in both the surface reading and the cryptic reading) serves as a link word (expressing equality) between the wordplay and the definition.

In cricket, 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 just the leg).

13a   Perhaps one is glad to get by (9)

The wordplay is "perhaps one is glad" and the definition is "by". "To get" is a link phrase (expressing outcome) between the wordplay and the definition — i.e., one must execute the wordplay "to get" the solution specified by the definition.

14a   Ancient bloke keeps going home with date (6-6)

Coffin-dodger[10] is a humorous (and seemingly British) term for an old person. I quickly realized that the definition could not be "ancient bloke" and that it must therefore be merely "ancient" (which can be a noun as well as its more commonly encountered role as an adjective). In the solution, "off" is used as in the example "He shouted 'I'm off now', as he dashed out the door."

18a   Noise that larks circling parrot find attractive (4,1,5,2)

Lark[5] is a verb which in British usage means to enjoy oneself by behaving in a playful and mischievous way ⇒ he’s always joking and larking about in the office.

23a   Note gun's provided with recoil? (5)

Like Dave Perry, I spent a moment or two trying to find rev as an abbreviation for revolver. Fortunately for me, the penny quickly dropped —  "gun" is used in the sense of "to gun an engine".

24a   Memorise poet — Byron, possibly Lawrence (5,2,4)

Edward Lear[7] (1812 – 1888) was a British artist, illustrator, author, and poet, renowned today primarily for his literary nonsense, in poetry and prose, and especially his limericks, a form that he popularised. His best known piece is undoubtedly "The Owl and the Pussycat"[7].

Lord Byron[7] was a Scottish poet and a leading figure in the Romantic movement. He is regarded as one of the greatest British poets and remains widely read and influential.

Thomas Edward Lawrence (1888  — 1935), known professionally as T. E. Lawrence[7], was a British Army officer renowned especially for his liaison role during the Arab Revolt against Ottoman Turkish rule of 1916-18. The breadth and variety of his activities and associations, and his ability to describe them vividly in writing, earned him international fame as Lawrence of Arabia, a title which was used for the 1962 film based on his World War I activities.

25a   Ditch water in some red earth (3)

This clue is easy enough in hindsight but I could not fathom it until I read Dave Perry's review. In the cryptic reading, "ditch" is used as a verb (meaning to dump). Thus we must remove (ditch) MERE (water) from SOme reD to get the surface of the ground, with the grass growing on it. Mere[5] is a British (and chiefly literary word) meaning a lake or pond ⇒ the stream widens into a mere where hundreds of geese gather. The word should actually be fairly familiar to those from the Ottawa area as it appears in the name Kingsmere, the estate of former Canadian Prime Minister William Lyon Mackenzie King.

27a   Corrupt Tory edict limits one who oversees business news? (4,6)

The term city editor[5] has a different meaning in Britain than in North America. On the other side of the Atlantic, it is a person dealing with financial news in a newspaper whereas, on this side, it is a person dealing with local news in a newspaper. The British usage may arise from the fact that the City (short for City of London) is used as an eponym for 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. This is similar to the usage of Wall Street as an eponym for financial institutions in New York City. 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).

1d   It may make one look better to deal with stuff (4,4)

In Britain, a face pack[5] is a cosmetic preparation spread over the face and left for some time to cleanse and improve the condition of the skin ⇒ (i) she was applying a face pack; (ii) weekly face packs are beneficial.

3d   I pick a horse up on country trip (13)

In the solution, cull[5] is used in the sense (new to me) of (1) to select from a large quantity or obtain from a variety of sources ⇒ anecdotes culled from Greek and Roman history or (2) with the archaic meaning of to pick (flowers or fruit) ⇒ fresh culled daffodils.

Horse[5] is a slang term for heroin, as is H[5].

5d   0-0 draw in United match? Better than that! (5)

The wordplay here took a bit of pondering to figure out — even after having arrived at the correct solution. Actually, it is not so much the wordplay that is difficult, but figuring out where the definition starts. The wordplay is "0-0 draw in United" which is interpreted as OO (0-0) containing (draw in) UTD (United) [start with OO; then draw in UTD]. The definition is "match? better than that!". If you do better than match, you OUTDO.

Utd[5] is an abbreviation for United (in names of soccer teams) ⇒ Scunthorpe Utd. Although the word United is commonly found in the names of football [soccer] teams in Britain, it is almost certainly a reference to the Manchester United Football Club[7] (often referred to as simply United), an English professional football club, based at Old Trafford [football stadium] in Old Trafford [district of Manchester], Greater Manchester, that plays in the Premier League (the top level in the English football league system). Manchester United is undoubtedly referred to as United (rather than Manchester) to distinguish it from its cross-town rival Manchester City (known as City).

7d   Simple game with short piece of wood (6)

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.

8d   Cheshire town with one capsized ship (6)

Widnes[7] is an industrial town in Cheshire, England located on the northern bank of the River Mersey.

17d   Nasty, but it won't start to block my passage (8)

Once again, even though I had the correct solution, the wordplay escaped me. The definition (which was clear enough) is "passage". The wordplay is ORRID {HORRID (nasty) without its initial letter (but it won't start)} contained in (to block) COR (my).

Cor[5] is an informal British exclamation expressing surprise, excitement, admiration, or alarm ⇒ Cor! That‘s a beautiful black eye you’ve got!

19d   Lost? Put on a little light (6)

Here "a little light" is used to clue LED[5] (light-emitting diode).

20d   Tribesman wants wild area (6)

The Tswana[5] are a southern African people living in Botswana, South Africa, and neighbouring areas.
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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