Puzzle at a Glance
Puzzle Number in The Sunday TimesST 4496
Date of Publication in The Sunday TimesSunday, July 29, 2012
Link to Full ReviewTimes for the Times [ST 4496]
Times for the Times Review Written ByDave Perry
Date of Publication in the Toronto StarSaturday, August 25, 2012
Date of Publication in the Vancouver SunSaturday, August 18, 2012
IntroductionThis puzzle appeared in Britain during the first weekend of the recently-held Games of the XXX Olympiad. I did twig early on to the fact that the theme was in some way related to the Olympics, but it took me quite some time to figure out precisely what it was. I was pleased that I managed to successfully decipher the names of a few of the athletes solely through the wordplay. Nevertheless, I did need extensive help from my puzzle solving tools to complete the puzzle. I surely would have performed better had I been familiar with more than a couple of the British gold medallists featured in the puzzle.
Note: As Dave Perry has done an admirable job of identifying all the British athletes appearing in the puzzle, I have not felt it necessary to duplicate his effort.
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 25 15 arm Charles's girlfriend (7)
The indicator "25 15" is a cross-reference to clues 25d and 15d. To complete the current clue, substitute the solutions to the cross-referenced clues in place of the indicators, giving "Gold medallist arm Charles girlfriend". Charles refers to King Charles II of England whose mistress was actress Nell Gwyn .
12a 25 15 Switzerland move to higher position — though dropping point with a draw (8)
The International Vehicle Registration (IVR) code for Switzerland is CH [from French Confédération Helvétique 'Swiss Confederation']. The second part of the charade is RISE (move to a higher position) with the E deleted (though dropping point [of the compass]).
18a Starts to get 'orrible dizzy spell — sitting here? (4)
The gods is a British term for the gallery in a theatre • they sat in the gods.
27a 25 15 — Secure boat on river outside harbour (9)
The River Ouse might refer to any of four English rivers.
- (also Great Ouse) a river of eastern England, which rises in Northamptonshire and flows 257 km (160 miles) eastwards then northwards through East Anglia to the Wash near King’s Lynn.
- a river of NE England, formed at the confluence of the Ure and Swale in North Yorkshire and flowing 92 km (57 miles) south-eastwards through York to the Humber estuary.
- a river of SE England, which rises in the Weald of West Sussex and flows 48 km (30 miles) south-eastwards to the English Channel.
- (also Little Ouse) a river of East Anglia, which forms a tributary of the Great Ouse.
A double definition, the definitions being "ordinary" and "person regarded as certain to qualify" ('having great natural talent' as in the 1984 Robert Redford film The Natural).
4d Den left with a strain (4)
"Strain" in a musical sense.
5d Fool overturned trophies revealing parts of boxers' kit (10)
In Britain, mug is an informal term for a stupid or gullible person • they were no mugs where finance was concerned. A shield is a sporting trophy shaped like a shield, consisting of an engraved metal plate mounted on a piece of wood : team captain Ben Hall collected the winners' shield. In the UK, the clothing (and, it would seem, protective equipment) used for an activity such as a sport is called a kit • a football kit. A gumshield is a pad or plate held in the mouth by a sports player to protect the teeth and gums. The term used for this device in North America is mouthguard.
6d Check identification when carrying 25 plant (6)
The cross reference here is to clue 25d only. Or is gold or yellow, as a heraldic tincture. In heraldry, a tincture is any of the conventional colours (including the metals and stains, and often the furs) used in coats of arms.
8d 25 15s with good shots in the archery (7)
The wordplay is W (with) + INNERS (good shots in the archery). In archery and shooting, an inner is (1) a division of the target next to the bullseye or (2) a shot that strikes the inner • the Doctor found the bull, and held it to the close, while Servis only scored inners.
17d Being sneaky, China let international hide a complex substance found in membranes (8)
The anagram indicator would seem to be "being sneaky". In Britain, an international 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.
18d Swimmer, 19, in the middle chasing German (7)
Place the middle letters of the solution to 19a (__UDGEON__) after (chasing) G (German) to get a type of fish. A gudgeon is a small edible European freshwater fish, often used as bait by anglers.
20d Exercise in river and street is hardest to understand (7)
The River Dee is a 70-mile (110 km) long river that travels through Wales and England and also forms part of the border between the two countries. It is also the name of at least three other rivers in the U.K. PE is the abbreviation for Physical Education.
24d Cutter's second going 25 tree in New Zealand (5)
The kauri (or kauri pine) is a tall coniferous forest tree with broad leathery leaves, which produces valuable timber and dammar resin. It grows in warm countries from Malaysia to New Zealand. The symbol for the chemical element gold is Au. A kris is a Malay or Indonesian dagger with a wavy-edged blade.
The wordplay is KRIS (cutter) with the S (second) deleted (second going) containing (round) AU ([chemical symbol for] gold ).
Key to Reference Sources:Signing off for this week — Falcon
 - The Chambers Dictionary, 11th Edition
 - Search Chambers - (Chambers 21st Century Dictionary)
 - TheFreeDictionary.com (American Heritage Dictionary)
 - TheFreeDictionary.com (Collins English Dictionary)
 - Oxford Dictionaries (Oxford Dictionary of English)
 - Oxford Dictionaries (Oxford American Dictionary)
 - Wikipedia
 - Reverso Online Dictionary (Collins French-English Dictionary)
 - Infoplease (Random House Unabridged Dictionary)
 - CollinsDictionary.com (Collins English Dictionary)