Sunday, October 21, 2012

Sunday, October 21, 2012 - ST 4504

Puzzle at a Glance
Puzzle Number in The Sunday Times
ST 4504
Date of Publication in The Sunday Times
Sunday, September 23, 2012

Tim Moorey 
Link to Full Review
Times for the Times [ST 4504]
Times for the Times Review Written By
Dave Perry
Date of Publication in the Toronto Star
Saturday, October 13, 2012
Date of Publication in the Vancouver Sun
Saturday, October 20, 2012
This puzzle appears on the Sunday Puzzles pages in the Saturday, October 20, 2012 edition of The Ottawa Citizen.


Not only did I think that I might not finish this puzzle, I feared for a while that I might not even be able to start it. On first read through, I was able to solve but one clue (25d — the very last clue in the puzzle!). On second read through, I cracked one more (26a). And there I stalled. After staring at the puzzle for some considerable period of time and making no further progress, I dipped into my Tool Chest of electronic puzzle solving aids. By using every weapon at my disposal, I slowly began to make some headway and eventually finished the puzzle.

I did need help from Times for the Times to understand the wordplay at 2d. Technically, I had an incorrect solution for 18a. However, I would be prepared to argue that my solution may actually be superior to the "correct" solution. The English novelist and English DJ are equally well-known to me (meaning not at all) and, while Mark may not be as prominent an icon from a religious perspective as Mary, I think that the word mark could denote an icon.

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.

5a   This man could be cover for cover (7)

To understand this clue, it is essential to know a bit about cricket. Cricket[7] is a game played between two teams of eleven players each. Substitute fielders (only) are permitted in cases of injury or illness. Cover[5] is short for cover point[5], which is (1) a fielding position a little in front of the batsman on the off side and halfway to the boundary or (2) a fielder at cover point an easy catch by Hick at cover. The boundary[2] is the marked limits of a cricket field. The off[5]  (also called off side) is the half of the field (as divided lengthways through the pitch) towards which the batsman's feet are pointed when standing to receive the ball.  The other side of the field is known either as the leg[5] (also called leg side) or on (also called on side). The pitch is a rectangular area (22 yards long by 10 feet wide) in the centre of the cricket field. The bowler delivers the ball from one end of the pitch to a batsman positioned at the other end.

The first instance of "cover" in the clue means a substitute or backup and the second instance refers to the fielding position.

9a   Hot red meat sandwiches not available in Pret A Manger? (5,4)

The question mark indicates that "Pret A Manger" is an example of the solution (in other words, this is a definition by example — which you may sometimes see abbreviated in Dave Perry's reviews as DBE). Pret a Manger[7] (French for "ready to eat")  is a British sandwich retail chain.

10a   A Councillor I caught around and about (5)

The abbreviation for Councillor is Cr[10].

11a   Rabbit’s popular with butchers (4,2)

A female rabbit is called a doe[5], as is a female deer, hare, rat, ferret, or kangaroo.

I expended not an inconsiderable effort in pursuing a couple of dead-end paths here, thinking that rabbit[5] might be used in the British slang sense of to talk at length, especially about trivial matters and that butchers[5] might be rhyming slang for look (from "butcher's hook").

16a   Bet with old money abroad (4)

This being a British puzzle, "abroad" refers to some place outside the UK. Punt[4] is British slang meaning to gamble. Prior to the introduction of the euro in 2002, the punt[5] was the basic monetary unit of the Republic of Ireland, equal to 100 pence [punt being the Irish Gaelic word for pound].

18a   Wesley: a religious icon (4)

Dave Perry comments "about as obvious a dd as I've seen, providing you know the author Mary Wesley, of course". I didn't, but I did manage to identify English disk jockey Mark Wesley[7], whose chief claim to fame appears to consist of being the person who "announced the death of Elvis Presley in a news bulletin on the station in August 1977, the first reporting of the singer's death in Europe". I reasoned that an icon might be considered to be a mark with St. Mark accounting for the religious angle. I may not have been that far off the mark (pardon the pun), judging by the comment at Times for the Times from Peter Biddlecombe (Sunday Times Crossword Editor) that "our collective judgment was that Mary W was better known than a DJ called Mark, by a wide enough margin".

Mary Wesley[7] (1912 – 2002) was an English novelist. During her career, she was one of Britain's most successful novelists, selling three million copies of her books, including 10 best-sellers in the last 20 years of her life.

19a   If you’re this down, the game may be up! (3,7)

It sometimes seems that everything in cricket is called a wicket. A wicket[10] may be (1) either of two constructions, placed 22 yards apart, consisting of three pointed stumps stuck parallel in the ground with two wooden bails resting on top, at which the batsman stands; (2) the strip of ground between these [constructions] (i.e., the pitch); (3) a batsman's turn at batting or the period during which two batsmen bat ⇒ a third-wicket partnership; or (4) the act or instance of a batsman being got out ⇒ the bowler took six wickets.

Depending on the type of cricket match being played, each team has one or two innings[7] apiece (innings ending with 's' in both singular and plural form).

The main aim of the bowler, supported by his fielders, is to dismiss the batsman. A batsman when dismissed is said to be "out" and that means he must leave the field of play and be replaced by the next batsman on his team. When ten batsmen have been dismissed (i.e., are out), then the whole team is dismissed and the innings is over. The last batsman, the one who has not been dismissed, is not allowed to continue alone as there must always be two batsmen "in". This batsman is termed "not out".

There are ten ways in which a batsman can be dismissed, four of which (bowled, run out, stumped or hit wicket) require his wicket to be put down. Thus "ten wickets down" would constitute ten dismissals meaning the end the batting team's innings and possibly the game.

I fully expect that there may well be subtleties associated with the wording used in this clue that I have failed to grasp.

22a   Loaf on the Sussex coast perhaps (3,5)

Rye[7] is a small town in East Sussex, England, which now stands approximately two miles from the open sea. In medieval times, however, as an important member of the Cinque Ports confederation, it was at the head of an embayment of the English Channel and almost entirely surrounded by the sea.

23a   Cat’s second employer (6)

In the UK, mo[5] is an informal term for a short period of time (hang on a mo!) [abbreviation of moment].

27a   Shocked actor Timothy caught in a brawl (3-6)

Timothy West[7] is an English film, stage and television actor. Ruck is British slang for a quarrel or fight, especially a brawl involving several people there was a rare old ruck before the police arrived.

29a   Express tears over one secret agent (7)

Sleeper[3,4] is the British name for a railway tie[3,4] (also called a crosstie[3]).

1d   See bonkers close up in German city (7)

I managed to identify the correct German city — but initially for all the wrong reasons! I guessed that pots might be a British expression meaning potty (crazy). With dam meaning to close up, I got Potsdam. When a dictionary search failed to confirm the former part of this analysis, the correct interpretation eventually dawned on me. The wordplay is a reversal (up) of {MAD (bonkers) + STOP (close)}.

2d   Keep bottles of Italian white wine (5)

In his review, Dave Perry states "I've never studied Italian, so I didn't know that the Italian for 'of' was O ...". He is wrong, of course, a fact that is pointed out in the Comments section of the blog. As it happens, o'[10] is an informal or archaic shortened form of the preposition of ⇒ a cup o' tea.

5d   First person to show what the Queen passes daily ( it’s said) (3,5,2)

In Britain, Australia and New Zealand, wee[4] is an informal term for urine.

7d   Nothing withheld, uproar about corrupt unit in Cabinet? ( 9)

As one would expect, the setter uses the British spelling (furore[3]) rather than the US spelling (furor[3]).

8d   Do shed tea cans (7)

Cans[4] is an informal name [possibly British] for headphones.

15d   Nanny working in Suriname with daughter (9)

Suriname[10] is an alternate spelling of Surinam.

18d   Cherry’s further left, look! (7)

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. Morello[5] is a dark cherry of a sour kind used in cooking.

20d   One not working as a forward (7)

In soccer, a forward is called a striker[5].

21d   Ring Himalayas? You may need their help (6)

I would say that this is a semi-& lit. clue, a type of clue where the entire clue serves as the definition but only a portion of the clue constitutes the wordplay. The wordplay is O (ring) + RANGE (Himalayas) giving ORANGE as the solution. The clue, in effect, is saying 'You may need their help to place a call to (ring) the Himalayas'. 

Orange[7] is a French multinational telecommunications corporation and represents the flagship brand of the France Telecom group. It is a global provider for mobile phone, landline, Internet, mobile internet, and IP television services, and, under the brand Orange Business Services, is one of the world leaders in providing telecommunication services to multinational companies.
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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