Sunday, September 9, 2012

Sunday, September 9, 2012 - ST 4498

Puzzle at a Glance
Puzzle Number in The Sunday Times
ST 4498
Date of Publication in The Sunday Times
Sunday, August 12, 2012
Tim Moorey 
Link to Full Review
Times for the Times [ST 4498]
Times for the Times Review Written By
Dave Perry
Date of Publication in the Toronto Star
Saturday, September 1, 2012
Date of Publication in the Vancouver Sun
Saturday, September 8, 2012
This puzzle appears on the Sunday Puzzles pages in the Saturday, September 8, 2012 edition of The Ottawa Citizen.


Even the Brits would seem to have struggled with this puzzle, judging by the comments on Times for the Times. My experience was not unlike that reported by Dave Perry — finding the left hand side to be much less difficult than the right hand side. As it was for him, 28d and 30a were also my last two in. I did spend a great deal of time on them, but it paid off in obtaining the correct solutions.

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.

4a   He's tight with a packet (10)

I have to admit that I failed to see the anagram and treated this as a straight cryptic definition. The clue is an & lit. — one in which the entire clue serves as both the definition and the wordplay. I would say that tight, as an anagram indicator, is used in the sense of drunk (implying confused or mixed up). Packet[5] is British slang for a large sum of money ⇒ a hectic social life could cost a packet.

9a   In which, heartlessly, you slam crackpot? (6)

This is a semi-& lit. clue — one in which the entire clue serves as the definition but (unlike a full-fledged & lit. clue) only a part of the clue forms the wordplay. In the definition, I would say that slam[5] is used in the sense of to push or put something somewhere with great force Charlie slammed down the phone. Thus the clue, as definition, is telling us that the solution is a place where one might heartlessly put an eccentric or foolish person with great force.

10a   Rocket on for very short meal? Count me out! (8)

Rocket takes on a couple of British meanings in this clue. In the surface reading, rocket is presumably being used as the British name for arugula[5] (which, on its own, would not constitute a very satisfying meal). As a definition, rocket is an informal British term meaning a severe reprimand ⇒ he got a rocket from the Director.

14a   International for a short time retained cap (4)

In Britain, an international[5] is (1) a game or contest between teams representing different countries in a sport the Murrayfield rugby international or (2) a player who has taken part in an international game or contest [the latter being the sense in which the word is used in this clue]. Also, in Britain, cap[5] can mean a cap awarded as a sign of membership of a particular sports team, especially a national team ⇒ he has won three caps for Scotland or (2) a player to whom a cap is awarded ⇒ a former naval officer and rugby cap [the former being the sense in which it is used here].

17a   At home Miliband embraces brother? It's natural (6)

Ed Miliband[7] is a British Labour Party politician, currently the Leader of the Labour Party and Leader of the Opposition in the British House of Commons.

20a   What's nearly coming from me, perhaps touring desert? (3,5)

In the tonic sol-fa system in music, me[5] is the preferred British spelling (the American spelling being mi[3]) for the third note of a major scale. [It would appear that mi is an alternative spelling in the UK, but the only spelling in the US.]

If one interprets "touring" as meaning 'going around', the justification for using it as a containment indicator becomes clear.

23a   Virtually nothing stopping new ideas? No need for comment (6,4)

"Virtually nothing" clues NOUGH (NOUGHT (nothing) with the last letter deleted). "Stopping" is used in the sense of plugging — and, thus, is a containment indicator.

27a   One's mad giving a clue like this (6)

In this across clue, the 's is a contraction for has (a charade indicator) in the cryptic reading. Thus the wordplay is A (one) + (has) CROSS (mad). Of course, in the surface reading, the 's is a contraction for is.

30a   Company banks new and old money in Tallinn. (4)

Tallinn[7] is the capital of Estonia. Prior to the adoption of the Euro, the currency of Estonia was the kroon which was subdivided into 100 senti (singular, sent).

I would say that company[5] is to be interpreted in the sense of the person or group of people whose society one is currently sharing ⇒ he was silent among such distinguished company and that set[5] is used in the sense of a group of people with common interests or occupations or of similar social status ⇒ it was a fashionable haunt of the literary set.

2d   Essential to replace back of breeching in pack horse (7)

According to Oxford Dictionaries, breeching[5] is the hair or wool on the hindquarters of an animal, although The American Heritage Dictionary restricts the animals to which it applies to just "a sheep, goat, or dog"[3]. Another meaning for breeching[5] is a strong leather strap passing round the hindquarters of a horse harnessed to a vehicle and enabling the horse to push backwards. However, this later definition does not seem very applicable in the case of a mustang[5], an American feral horse which is typically small and lightly built.

4d   Garden perhaps showing pear tree finally cropped (5)

Graeme Garden[7] is a Scottish comedian. The Comice[5] is a large yellow dessert pear of a late-fruiting variety that is cultivated commercially.

6d   No good leaving stylist's division during employment for painter? (3,6)

Although I had the correct solution, I hadn't seen the wordplay as I was doing the puzzle and I neglected to revisit the clue before reading Dave Perry's review. Parting[5] is the British term for the a line of scalp revealed in a person’s hair by combing the hair away in opposite directions on either side ⇒ his hair was dark, with a side parting (in North American parlance, a partthe part in her hair was white and straight).

7d   Smacks taking on sailing vessels (11)

This is another case where I needed a gentle nudge from Dave Perry to see the wordplay which is KNOCKS (smacks) containing (taking; consuming, as you would a pill) ABOUT (on; concerning). Dave Perry says he is not familiar with knockabouts "as a type of ship". His lack of familiarity is understandable, as Oxford Dictionaries characterizes knockabout[5] as being a North American term. Ship may also be a rather grandiose description for this small yacht or dinghy.

8d   High priest takes in a tramp (7)

Dave Perry comments "I've come across 'High' as an anagrind before, but I find it a bit of a stretch." Well, if "tight" (4a) can be an anagram indicator (anagrind), why not "high"? It just depends on your drug of choice.

12d   In sum, Russian money and power gets a place in the Middle East? (7,4)

In Britain, to tot[5] (tot something up) means to add up (or sum) numbers or amounts ⇒ he picked up the account book and totted up some figures. Rouble[5] is the British spelling for ruble, the basic monetary unit of Russia and some other former republics of the USSR, equal to 100 kopeks.

The solution is not "a place in the Middle East" per se, but something of which "a place in the Middle East" might be an example. As Dave Perry points out, "The DbE [Definition by Example] is indicated by the question mark.".

13d   Set about reconstructing Italy? No (3,4)

In Britain, set about[5] can mean to attack (someone) ⇒ the policeman began to set about him with his truncheon.

19d   Gunners coming from behind new area line (7)

The wordplay is ARSE (behind) + N (new) + A (area) + L (line). Arsenal Football Club (whose nickname is The Gunners) is an English Premier League football [soccer] club based in Holloway, London. Arse[6] is the British spelling for ass[5], in the sense of a person’s buttocks or anus. This term does not seem to carry the same degree of vulgarity in Britain as it does in North America — although one of the Brits did comment that the clue "was a bit cheeky". [Strangely, the word arse seems to appear only in the US English Dictionary and not in the British & World English Dictionary at Oxford Dictionaries!]

21d   Scores made by Wigan forward in tests (5,2)

Wigan[5] is a town and metropolitan district in NW England, near Manchester whose English Rugby League team is named the Wigan Warriers[7]. In rugby[5], a try is the act of touching the ball down behind the opposing goal line, scoring points and entitling the scoring side to a goal kick. A Test (short for Test match)[5] is an international cricket or rugby match, typically one of a series, played between teams representing two different countries ⇒ the Test match between Pakistan and the West Indies. On[5] (in the solution) would seem to be used in the sense of (1) indicating continuation of a movement or action he drove onor (2) further forward; in an advanced state time’s getting [moving] on.

24d   Pot shown by German novelist ... (5)

G√ľnter Grass[7] is a German novelist, poet, playwright, illustrator, graphic artist, sculptor and recipient of the 1999 Nobel Prize in Literature who is widely regarded as Germany's most famous living writer.

26d   ... so push bicycle regularly taken out! (3)

The only reason that I can fathom for the ellipses linking this clue and the previous one is to justify starting the current clue with "so" (which happens to be the definition).

28d   Thing that's essential to nearest and dearest (3)

Res[9] (Latin for 'thing') is a term used in the field of Law to mean (1) an object or thing or (2) a matter.
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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