Sunday, November 4, 2012

Sunday, November 4, 2012 - ST 4506

Puzzle at a Glance
Puzzle Number in The Sunday Times
ST 4506
Date of Publication in The Sunday Times
Sunday, October 7, 2012
Dean Mayer (Anax)
Link to Full Review
Times for the Times [ST 4506]
Times for the Times Review Written By
Dave Perry
Date of Publication in the Toronto Star
Saturday, October 27, 2012 [unconfirmed]
Date of Publication in the Vancouver Sun
Saturday, November 03, 2012
Falcon's Experience
- solved without assistance
- incorrect prior to use of puzzle solving tools
- solved with assistance from puzzle solving tools
- solved with aid of checking letters provided by puzzle solving tools
- unsolved or incorrect prior to visiting Times for the Times
This puzzle appears on the Sunday Puzzles pages in the Saturday, November 3, 2012 edition of The Ottawa Citizen.

The Date of Publication in the Toronto Star is unconfirmed as there is no entry for this date on the Saturday Star Cryptic Forum blog. 


Today we get a moderately difficult puzzle from Anax. There was one clue that I wasn't able to solve and two or three others for which I did not fully comprehend the wordplay (but, fortunately, Dave Perry did).

You will also notice that I have introduced a couple of innovations in today's blog. The first of these changes is showing the definition for each clue (by underlining it in the clue). This also means that all the clues in the puzzle will be listed in the blog. However, I will continue to offer comments on only a selected number of clues, being those for which I feel I can offer some additional information to complement that which Dave Perry has provided in his Times for the Times review. My comments tend to deal with British words, expressions, or places found in the clues as well as foreign words and references to people, mythology, specialized terms, and popular and classical works of art or entertainment.

The second is to publish a chart showing how I fared in solving the puzzle (for which I provide an explanation immediately below). If you have an opinion on these new features (or anything else about the blog), please leave a comment

New Feature - Falcon's Experience

Falcon's Experience is a new feature that I've added to the Puzzle at a Glance table above. This is a new feature for this blog — but one that I've used for some time in my companion blog, the National Post Cryptic Crossword Forum.

The purpose of this chart is to provide a quick visual overview of how difficult I found a puzzle to be. Of course, your experience with a particular puzzle may be entirely different than mine (horses for courses, as they say). But I hope it may prove to be a somewhat useful tool against which readers may judge their own solving experience.

Explanation of the Chart

The total length of the bar indicates the number of clues contained in the puzzle. Depending on the grid used, this number is generally between 26 and 32. The dark blue portion indicates the number of clues that I was able to solve without the aid of puzzle solving tools — which today was 11 out of the 28 clues. The light blue (cyan) portion shows the number of clues which were solved with the aid of such puzzle solving tools (such as word finders and anagram solvers). Today there were 9 such instances. If I discover through the use of these tools that one of my existing entries is incorrect, I code that clue as orange. There were no clues in this category today. The blue-grey portion shows clues that I solved without the direct use of puzzle solving tools but for which I had checking letters that resulted from the use of such tools. Today, there were 7 clues which fell into this category. Finally, the red portion denotes clues that I either could not solve or clues for which I discovered that the solutions were incorrect from the review at Times for the Times.

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   Flower — stroke a little one, say (6)

4a   A short defender, American, that one can count on (6)

A back[5] is a player in a team game who plays in a defensive position behind the forwards ⇒ their backs showed some impressive running and passing. This definition applies to games such as association football (soccer) and field hockey, but not to North American football where there are both offensive and defensive backs (who alternately take the field depending on which team has possession of the ball). In hockey (ice hockey for the Brits), the equivalent position is called a defenceman (in both men's and women's hockey).

10a   Guitar held by axe ace (5- 4)

This clue has a nice surface reading. Axe[5] is a slang term for a musical instrument used in popular music or jazz, especially a guitar or (originally) a saxophone. Consequently, an "axe ace" is an accomplished guitarist. Strat[5] is an shortened informal name for a Fender Stratocaster electric guitar. Dave Perry tells us that the setter, Anax, is himself a guitar player.

11a   Sex with a spiteful person (5)

A tricky clue, but well-explained by Dave Perry.

12a   City area bounded by motorways (5)

The M1[7] is a north–south motorway[5] (controlled-access highway[7]) in England connecting London to Leeds.

13a   Sailor thrashing drums is showing belief in chaos (9)

In the Royal Navy, able seaman (abbreviation AB)[5], is a rank of sailor above ordinary seaman and below leading seaman.

14a   Danger — albeit rum — at sea (7,8)

An & lit. (all-in-one) clue.

16a   Law officer given brief in Paraguay? (8,7)

I didn't understand the wordplay here until I read Dave Perry's review. The clue is telling us (quite clearly, in hindsight) that an abbreviation for this law enforcement official is to be found (given [in] brief) in the word ParAGuay.

19a   Tin opened by friend having lunch; just over half a teacake (5,4)

Sn[5] is the symbol for the chemical element tin [from late Latin stannum 'tin']. A Sally Lunn[5] is a sweet, light teacake, typically served hot [said to be from the name of a woman selling such cakes in Bath, England circa 1800].

21a   Of course, we recycle waste in this (5)

The hidden word indicator is "of" (meaning 'belonging to') and the clue tells us that the solution is part of (belongs to) "courSE WE Recycle".

23a   Small amount of liquid I spit (5)

This is yet another case where I had to rely on Dave Perry to explain the wordplay. Even though I deduced that a "small amount of liquid" would likely be a centilitre (cl), the presence of the Roman numeral failed to register (as my mother would have said, it was "hiding in plain sight"). It certainly did not help to be totally unaware that, in Britain, spit[10] is another word for spitting image.

24a   Arrogance minus bags of money (9)

The wordplay is LESS (minus) containing (bags) {OF (from the clue) + TIN (money)}.

Tin[5] is dated British slang for money Kim’s only in it for the tin.

25a   Get into bed, wanting endless sex with Italian leader (6)

Duce[7] is an Italian title (duke in English) that is also used to mean "leader". The word has fallen into disfavour due to its association with World War II Italian dictator Benito Mussolini[7].

26a   Pound into equally solid cut stones (6)

The pound[5] (also pound sterling) is the basic monetary unit of the UK, equal to 100 pence. While the symbol for pound is £, it is often written as L[10].

Ashlar[5] is masonry made of large square-cut stones, used as a facing on walls of brick or stone rubble ⇒ seven windows are set in ashlar along the upper floor. Despite the fact that ashlar might well mean "cut stones", in fact the definition is merely "stones" — with the word "cut" indicating that the solution is obtained by truncating the fodder.

The wordplay is L (pound) contained in (into) {AS (equally) HAR[D] (solid) with the final letter deleted (cut)}.


1d   Charity award that’s accepted by footballers (5)

This is yet another one where I needed a nudge from Dave Perry to fully comprehend the wordplay (having failed to realize the significance of the X).

The Order of Merit[7] (abbreviation OM[5]) is a dynastic order recognising distinguished service in the armed forces, science, art, literature, or for the promotion of culture. Established in 1902 by King Edward VII, admission into the order remains the personal gift of its Sovereign, the reigning monarch of the Commonwealth realms, and is limited to 24 living recipients at one time from these countries plus a limited number of honorary members. The current membership includes one Canadian (former Prime Minister Jean Chr├ętien).

The Football Association[7], also known simply as the FA, is the governing body of football [i.e., association football or soccer] in England. Formed in 1863, it is the oldest football association in the world and is responsible for overseeing all aspects of the amateur and professional game in England.

X signifies by as in 2x4 (a common size of dimensional lumber) or 4x4 (an all wheel drive vehicle).

2d   Pirate’s bawdy song heard (7)

While the 's denotes a possessive form in the surface reading, it becomes a contraction for is (and, as such, functions as a link word between the definition "pirate" and the wordplay "bawdy song heard") in the cryptic reading.

3d   Machiavellian doctor retiring, out of uniform (9)

5d   Get beans for strangely disappointing dish (4,10)

6d   About to get extra insurance (5)

Cover (in reference to insurance) means to protect against a liability, loss, or accident involving financial consequences your contents are now covered against accidental loss or damage in transit. While the same verb form is used in both Britain and North America, we use a different form of the noun on this side of the pond. In the UK, cover[5] means protection by insurance against a liability, loss, or accident your policy provides cover against damage by subsidence. This is equivalent to the North American term coverage[5], the amount of protection given by an insurance policy.

7d   Something looped around a soft young tree (7)

Piano[3,5] (abbreviation p[5]), is a musical direction meaning either soft or quiet (as an adjective) or softly or quietly (as an adverb).

8d   Unstable country that needs a hand? (6,8)

A hand[9] is a bunch, cluster, or bundle of various leaves, fruit, etc., as a bundle of tobacco leaves tied together or a cluster of bananas.

9d   Dungeon imprisoning gypsy with general (8)

Oliver Cromwell[5] (1599–1658) was an English general and statesman, Lord Protector of the Commonwealth 16531658. Cromwell was the leader of the victorious Parliamentary forces (or Roundheads) in the English Civil War. As head of state he styled himself Lord Protector, and refused Parliament’s offer of the Crown in 1657. His rule was notable for its puritan reforms in the Church of England. He was briefly succeeded by his son Richard (1626–1712), who was forced into exile in 1659.

14d   With money, one’s about to get cabbage (8)

Brass[5] is British slang for money ⇒ they wanted to spend their newly acquired brass.

The wordplay is BRASS (money) + (with*) I ([Roman numeral for] one) + (has; 's being a contraction for has in the cryptic reading of the clue) CA (about; circa).

15d   Detailed gossip can’t shake doubters (9)

17d   Applies grease — difficult, over wide square (7)

In cricket, an over (abbreviation O)[5] is a division of play consisting of a sequence of six balls bowled by a bowler from one end of the pitch, after which another bowler takes over from the other end.

Also in cricket, a wide[5], also known as a wide ball, (abbreviation W[10]) is a ball that is judged to be too wide of the stumps for the batsman to play, for which an extra is awarded to the batting side. An extra[5] is a run scored other than from a hit with the bat, credited to the batting side rather than to a batsman.

18d   Poor treatment of untreated wood (3,4)

Deal[4] may be (1) a plank of softwood timber, such as fir or pine, or such planks collectively or (2) the sawn wood of various coniferous trees, such as that from the Scots pine (red deal) or from the Norway Spruce (white deal).

I had thought that this might be a British expression until I discovered that this meaning also appears in The American Heritage Dictionary. However, even though it would appear not to be an exclusively British term, I would suspect that it is used far more commonly in the UK than it is here. Personally, I would use the term lumber rather than deal, but the Brits certainly wouldn't. In Britain, the word lumber[5] has a totally different meaning than it does in North America, being articles of furniture or other household items that are no longer useful and inconveniently take up storage space [as modifier] a lumber room.

20d   Produce that is left in yard (5)

22d   Vertical pipe is on earth between two castles (5)

A rook, also known as a castle, (abbreviation R)[5] is a chess piece, typically with its top in the shape of a battlement, that can move in any direction along a rank or file on which it stands. Each player starts the game with two rooks at opposite ends of the first rank.
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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