Sunday, February 3, 2013

Sunday, February 3, 2013 - ST 4519

Puzzle at a Glance
Puzzle Number in The Sunday Times
ST 4519
Date of Publication in The Sunday Times
Sunday, January 6, 2013
Tim Moorey
Link to Full Review
Times for the Times [ST 4519]
Times for the Times Review Written By
Dave Perry
Date of Publication in the Toronto Star
Saturday, January 26, 2013
Date of Publication in the Vancouver Sun
Saturday, February 2, 2013
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, February 2, 2013 edition of The Ottawa Citizen.


In his review at Times for the Times, Dave Perry calls this "the toughest Sunday puzzle of the year so far ...". Well, of course it had to be as it was the first Sunday puzzle of the year in the UK — published on January 6. But as he goes on to say "... I suspect it may remain so for a while". To that sentiment, I wholeheartedly agree.

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   Knock a banking part of London for greed (8)

The City[5] is (1) short for the City of London or (2) 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. 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).

5a   Grave message beginning to stimulate tears (4)

8a   Nymph is female chorus part (4)

In Greek mythology, Echo[5] was a nymph deprived of speech by Hera in order to stop her chatter, and left able only to repeat what others had said.

9a   Following abandoned site, enter from the east for Welsh town (10)

I failed to locate this place, even though I was almost certain that I was looking for a Welsh town. I did manage to figure out the reversal at the end, but the rest eluded me. Moreover, an error at 3d did nothing to ease the situation.

Ffestiniog[7] is a community in Gwynedd in Wales, containing several villages, in particular the settlements of Llan Ffestiniog and Blaenau Ffestiniog. It has a population of 5,500.

In the footnotes of academic works, one might encounter the abbreviation ff.[10] meaning following (pages).

11a   No credit for nuts in bread (6)

Crackers[5] is British slang meaning insane ⇒ if Luke wasn’t here I’d go crackers.

Ackers[5] is British slang for money ⇒ what you get for your ackers is two CDs. The term, obscure even to the Brits, was originally used by British troops in Egypt in the 1930s as a name for the piastre[5] (a monetary unit of several Middle Eastern countries, equal to one hundredth of a pound). It is probably an alteration of Arabic fakka 'small change, coins'.

13a   Motion appearing right away to get poetic inspiration (8)

Aganippe[Brewer's Phrase & Fable] was a fountain of Bœotia at the foot of Mount Helicon, dedicated to the Muses, because it had the virtue of imparting poetic inspiration. Mount Helicon[5] is a mountain in Boeotia, central Greece, to the north of the Gulf of Corinth, rising to 1,750 m (5741 ft). It was believed by the ancient Greeks to be the home of the Muses.

14a   Love children leading in British publicity (8)

16a   Head of allotments wanted ground with shed attached (6)

In Britain, an allotment[5] is a plot of land rented by an individual for growing vegetables or flowers. In North America, such a piece of land would be called an allotment garden.

17a   Its lead is slowly worn down on A4 (6)

The setter would like to misdirect us on a journey down a British highway, when we should be busy at our desk scribbling on a piece of paper.

The A4[7] is a major road in England, portions of which are known as the Great West Road and Bath Road. It runs from London to Avonmouth, near Bristol. Historically the road was the main route from London to the west of England, and formed the second main western artery from London, after the A40. Much of the route is now paralleled by the M4 motorway, which carries the bulk of long distance traffic in this corridor, leaving the A4 primarily for local traffic.

A4[5] is (1) a standard European size of paper, 297 × 210 mm [as modifier] an A4 page or (2) A4 paper several sheets of A4.
Paper in the A series[7] format has an aspect ratio of 1 to the square root of 2 (approximately 1 : 0.707), although this is rounded to the nearest millimetre. A0 size paper is defined so that it has an area of 1 square metre, prior to the aforementioned rounding. Successive paper sizes in the series (A1, A2, A3, etc.) are defined by halving the preceding paper size, cutting parallel to its shorter side.

The most frequently used of this series is the size A4 which is 210 mm × 297 mm (8.3 in × 11.7 in). For comparison, the letter paper size commonly used in North America (8.5 in × 11 in (220 mm × 280 mm)) is approximately 6 mm (0.24 in) wider and 18 mm (0.71 in) shorter than A4.
19a   Uncle from the country? (8)

Great Uncle Bulgaria is a character from The Wombles[7] series of children's novels written by British author Elisabeth Beresford. The characters became nationally famous in the UK in the mid 1970s as a result of a very popular BBC children's television show using stop motion animation.

21a   MP, for example turned on one in a little Italian (8)

In Britain [as in Canada], an MP[5] is a Member of Parliament. The Italian word for little is poco[10].

22a   Pontoon is one  indoor game (6)

A pontoon[5] is a flat-bottomed boat or hollow metal cylinder used with others to support a temporary bridge or floating landing stage [as modifier] a pontoon bridge . However, given the British proclivity to use adjectives as nouns, a a bridge or landing stage supported by pontoons is also called as a pontoon in the UK.

The misdirection here arises from the fact that pontoon[5] is also a name used in Britain for the card game blackjack or vingt-et-un (twenty-one) he got me to go into his room for a hand of pontoon.

23a   Bags of nonsense in Scotland about fire (10)

In the Scottish dialect, haver[5] (also havers) means foolish talk or nonsense.

24a   Handel, for example, or handle (4)

George Frideric Handel[7] (1685 – 1759) was a German-born British Baroque composer, famous for his operas, oratorios, anthems and organ concertos. Handel is regarded as one of the greatest composers of all time, with works such as Water Music, Music for the Royal Fireworks and Messiah remaining popular.

26a   Cheese crackers put around after last of entree (4)

Edam[5] is a round Dutch cheese, typically pale yellow with a red wax coating.

27a   Rum person perhaps, one getting abuse (8)

Rùm[7], a Scottish Gaelic name often anglicised to Rum) is one of the Small Isles of the Inner Hebrides, in the district of Lochaber, Scotland. For much of the 20th century the name became Rhum, a spelling invented by the former owner, Sir George Bullough, because he did not relish the idea of having the title "Laird of Rum".


1d   Ground mace regularly showing up to some extent (3)

In Britain, rec[5] is an informal short form for recreation ground[5], a piece of public land used for sports and games [in North American parlance, a park].

2d   Harry Potter’s complaint (7)

Staying on the theme of British children's books, this time we get one that is also well known on this side of the pond. Harry Potter[7] is a series of seven fantasy novels written by the British author J. K. Rowling. As an anagram indicator, harry[10] is used in the sense of to disturb (which is listed as a synonym).

3d   Arresting items in boxes (5)

I had entered CASES here, based on cases being boxes and also that police would arrest someone once they had built a case against them. I would like to think that this error prevented me from solving 9a, but it is likely that not even having the first letter would have led me to that obscure destination.

4d   Only one name in match notice for Greeks (7)

I supposed that the Greeks in question were TROJANS — which also did not help me in my efforts to navigate through Wales at 9a. The word banns did briefly enter my mind but it never occurred to me to precede it with a definite article. It seems that I was just too focused on trying to justify the choice of Trojans.

6d   Gin’s ordered in pub — it’s nearly always on the house (3,4)

7d   Field event closing outside leads to Olympic title presentation (4- 7)

10d   Labour treasurer to be of use (7)

The British Labour Party[5] is a left-of-centre political party which arose from the trade union movement at the end of the 19th century and replaced the Liberals as the country’s second party after the First World War.

12d   Flog orange and peach for which charges are usually small (11)

Chaperonage[10] is the act of chaperoning or the state of being chaperoned. "Charges", of course, refers to those under the care of the chaperon.

15d   Sonny perhaps at home in large car (7)

Sonny Rollins[7] is an American jazz tenor saxophonist. Rolls is a shortened form of Rolls-Royce[5], a luxury car produced by the British Rolls-Royce company.

18d   Fancy me showing up in clubs with goddess (7)

Dave Perry writes "Mi is the musical note, but I can't find me listed anywhere with that definition. Maybe I'm looking in the wrong places."

Oxford Dictionaries Online and Chambers 21st Century Dictionary both show me[2,5] as being the primary spelling, with mi an alternative spelling. Collins English Dictionary, on the other hand, indicates exactly the reverse with mi[10] being the principal spelling and me the variant. The American Heritage Dictionary lists only one spelling, mi[3].

19d   Unreliable transport provided by old railway firms holding on (7)

British Railways (BR)[7], which from 1965 traded as British Rail, was the operator of most of the rail transport in Great Britain between 1948 and 1997. It was formed from the nationalisation of the "Big Four" British railway companies and lasted until the gradual privatisation of British Rail, in stages between 1994 and 1997. Ownership of the track and infrastructure passed to Railtrack on 1 April 1994; afterwards passenger operations were franchised to individual private-sector operators (originally there were 25 franchises); and the freight services sold outright (six companies were set up, but five of these were sold to the same buyer). The remaining obligations of British Rail were transferred to BRB (Residuary) Ltd.

20d   Leading marshals joined forces (7)

Marshal[5], as a verb, means to arrange in order. The reading here is quite awkward as it would seem that leading should be the object of the verb marshal and not the subject (which it appears to be). Perhaps, we need to interpret it as "Leading marshals [itself]".

22d   Where you’ll find Arabs liberated? (5)

Basra[5] is an oil port of Iraq, on the Shatt al-Arab waterway; population 870,000 (est. 2007). I presume that the clue alludes to Iraq having been liberated from the rule of Saddam Hussein[5].

25d   Damage caused by pound going up (3)
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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