Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Sunday, July 14, 2013 — ST 4542

Puzzle at a Glance
Puzzle Number in The Sunday Times
ST 4542
Date of Publication in The Sunday Times
Sunday, June 16, 2013
Dean Mayer (Anax)
Link to Full Review
Times for the Times [ST 4542]
Times for the Times Review Written By
Dave Perry
Dave Perry's Solving Time
Date of Publication in the Toronto Star
Saturday, July 6, 2013
Date of Publication in the Vancouver Sun
Saturday, July 13, 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
- solved with aid of checking letters provided by solutions from Times for the Times
This puzzle appears on the Sunday puzzles pages in the Saturday, July 13, 2013 edition of The Ottawa Citizen.


I definitely was not on the same wavelength as Anax when I attempted to solve this puzzle. After beating my head against a brick wall over a period of time of several days, I finally threw in the towel and resorted to peeking at Dave Perry's review. I must say that I have not fared so poorly on a puzzle in a very long time.

On a housekeeping note, I have modified the basis on which I attribute stars to Dave Perry's solving time. Starting with today's puzzle, it will be one star for every 15 minutes or portion thereof — rather than the previous practice of one star for every 20 minutes or portion thereof. The relationship between solving times and stars is an arbitrary assignment on my part, although the original allotment was based on a review of solving times for several months of puzzles. However, based on experience with puzzles since introducing this feature, I have come to believe that a shorter time per star would be more appropriate. I have finally decided to implement the change today, as I just can't accept that this puzzle does not merit four stars for difficulty.

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   Film Society in 15 making reservations (8)

The number "15" is a cross reference to clue 15a. To complete the present clue, replace the cross reference indicator by the solution to the cross referenced clue.

5a   Division of British farm (6)

The British do not seem to make a distinction between a farm and a ranch as would a North American.

9a   Made life difficult somewhat, turning dirty (7)

10a   Armed vessel you casually note in attack (7)

11/13 Skewed voting’s so contentious here (3,10,4,7)

I initially thought that the 10-letter word might be CONVENTION (which was available from the copious anagram fodder provided) — as in a political convention to pick a party leader. I eventually began to suspect that the reference might be to a British television counterpart to shows such as American Idol/Canadian Idol. As it turns out, I was heading down the right path. Nevertheless, although I have heard of the show in question, it did not come to mind.

The Eurovision Song Contest[7] is an annual song competition held among many of the active member countries of the European Broadcasting Union (EBU). Each member country submits a song to be performed on live television and radio and then casts votes for the other countries' songs to determine the most popular song in the competition. The contest has been broadcast every year since its inauguration in 1956 and is one of the longest-running television programmes in the world. It is also one of the most watched non-sporting events in the world.

14a   5 used in popular music (3)

Again, the number in the clue ("5" in this case) is a cross reference indicator.

15a   It can be frustrating, mate (3)

16a   Treat injured in a rugby team. They'll adapt (11)

The Lions could be any of several British rugby teams:
  • The Great Britain national rugby league team[7], which is nicknamed "The Lions";
  • The British and Irish Lions[7], a rugby union team selected from players eligible for the national teams of England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales which tours every four years, with tours rotating among Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa;
  • The Rugby Lions[7], a rugby union club based in Rugby, Warwickshire in England (where the game was founded); or
  • The Swinton Lions[7], an English professional rugby league club from Swinton, Greater Manchester.
Rugby union (RU)[5] is a form of rugby played in teams of fifteen, in contrast to rugby league[5], which is played in teams of thirteen. The latter game was originated by a group of northern English clubs which separated from rugby union in 1895. Besides having somewhat different rules, the game differed from rugby union in always allowing professionalism.

17a   Actor's joke about area in Tinsel Town not quite funny (5,8)

In British and Irish slang, a cod[10] is a hoax or trick.

20a   Orgy lover primarily into weed (7)

21a   AC/DC fan's admission given half empty beer -— "I like a drink" (7)

The misdirection here is that we are expected to think of AC/DC[7] as the Australian hard rock band. However, in sexual slang, AC/DC[7] may refer to bisexuality (with "bi" being a shortened version of "bisexual"). Thus, a fan of the AC/DC lifestyle might come out of the closet with the admission "I'm bi".

22a   Visit fantastic old swimmer (6)

23a   Means to catch some sleep, which is OK in certain circumstances (8)

Agrément[10] means formal approval for a construction project to proceed


1d   In south of France, one's not promising to head north (4)

Midi[7] is the south of France.

2d   Protection device placed around extremely fierce river (6,3)

The Tyne[5] is a river in NE England, formed by the confluence of two headstreams, the North Tyne, which rises in the Cheviot Hills, and the South Tyne, which rises in the northern Pennines. It flows generally eastwards, entering the North Sea at Tynemouth.

3d   Is this a fair clue for "fluctuated"? (15)

Yes, according to Oxford Dictionaries Online, roller-coaster[5] (although spelled with a hyphen) can be a verb meaning to move, change, or occur in a dramatically changeable manner the twentieth century fades behind us and history roller-coasters on.

4d   Fertilizer and moisture - it explodes (6,7)

Sodium nitrate[5] is a white powdery compound used mainly in the manufacture of fertilizers.

6d   Brother, as it were, has a problem (4,4,7)

This is an instance of inverse word play (or, as some call it, reverse word play). In such a clue, an indicator in the clue (in this case, the phrase "as it were") signals that clue contains an element (in this case, the word "brother") that could be produced by interpreting the solution to the clue as wordplay. In this case, the solution to the clue is RUNS INTO TROUBLE (has a problem) which could be parsed as R (runs) contained in (into) BOTHER (trouble) with the result being BROTHER.

7d   Relative of Ruth returning home to accept an award (5)

Naomi[7] is Ruth's mother-in-law in the Old Testament Book of Ruth.

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 Chrétien).

8d   Mixed success with young girl (3-3-4)

10d   Grab bags to throw off on travels (13)

12d   A dissector's careless cut? (10)

14d   Feeding one fish to a rodent is not necessary (9)

18d   Wastrel disposed to hold up wastrel (5)

19d   American students thick? That's about right (4)

Fraternity[5] (and its short form, frat[5]), in the sense of a male students' society in a university or college, is a North American usage.
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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