Sunday, July 7, 2013

Sunday, July 7, 2013 — ST 4541

Puzzle at a Glance
Puzzle Number in The Sunday Times
ST 4541
Date of Publication in The Sunday Times
Sunday, June 9, 2013
Jeff Pearce 
Link to Full Review
Times for the Times [ST 4541]
Times for the Times Review Written By
Dave Perry
Dave Perry's Solving Time
Date of Publication in the Toronto Star
Saturday, June 29, 2013
Date of Publication in the Vancouver Sun
Saturday, July 6, 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, July 6, 2013 edition of The Ottawa Citizen.


I did manage to complete this puzzle without electronic aid. However, I did need to do a fair bit of research after the fact to confirm the existence of some of the obscure solutions that I worked out from the wordplay (7d and 15d, for instance), to explain elements of the wordplay (such as the British exclamation used in 1d), and to identify the hangman's victim at 28a.

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   Coffee journalist sent back is spoiled (7)

5a   It’s evil if camel is whipped (7)

Malefic[5] is a adjective that might be used in a literary work to describe something causing harm or destruction, especially by supernatural means she was hypnotized by the spider’s malefic eyes.

I think we are meant to interpret the phrase "it's evil" as meaning 'the solution is a synonym for "evil"'.

9a   Grouse being docile when sloth returns (9)

The ai[5] is the three-toed sloth[10], not to be confused with the unau[10] which has only two toes.

10a   Monkey’s racket at front of pen (5)

11a   Short swine’s indecent crime (6)

12a   After one month a batter is going off (8)

Dave Perry seems to suggest that the original meaning of the word decadent is rotting (going off). If so, one may have to go back to its Latin roots to find this meaning. Although the word decadent comes from a Latin word meaning 'to decay'", I can find no evidence that the word ever meant "rotting" in English. As far as I could discover, the term has always referred to "mental or moral" decay, rather than physical decay.

14a   Amateur might be talented with it (10)

16a   Tart left in cooler (4)

18a   A bag for wine (4)

Sack[5] is a historical term for a dry white wine formerly imported into Britain from Spain and the Canaries.

19a   Large drinks required before lead violinist does this! (6- 4)

To perform a double-stop[5] is to play (two notes or parts) simultaneously on a violin or related instrument by drawing the bow over two strings.

22a   Taking steps to get a few locals involved? (3- 5)

A local[7] is a pub convenient to a person’s home.

23a   Like plug to be attached to sink in the bog (6)

26a   Make a speech that’s florid but not new (5)

27a   Disapprove of note on legal document (9)

Like Dave Perry, I had not previously seen this word used as a verb. In an archaic usage, reprobate[7] means to express or feel disapproval of his neighbours reprobated his method of proceeding.

28a   After time hangman’s victim gets type of 18D? (7)

Ruth Ellis[7] (1926 — 1955) was the last woman to be executed in the United Kingdom, after being convicted of the murder of her lover, David Blakely.

29a   Disregard information about the French court (7)

Gen[5] is British slang for information ⇒ you’ve got more gen on him than we have.


1d   Lobster, say, upset brill on hull under dam (7)

The abbreviation d.[10] for dam is used in animal pedigrees, with dam[10] denoting a female parent.

Brill[5] is British slang for excellent; marvellous (i) a brill new series; (ii) [as exclamation] ‘She says I can spend half-term with you.’ ‘Hey, brill!’ .

2d   Bone from a large bird in France (5)

3d   Slices about scars? (4,4)

The abbreviation c[5] comes from circa (meaning approximately or about).

4d   End of underground is without a platform (4)

5d   Is student of lepidopterology expecting this? (6-2-2)

I thought that this was an extremely clever clue. A "student of lepidopterology" (someone who studies moths and butterflies) could well expect — upon completion of their studies — 'to be a mother' (or, in a more literary turn of phrase, 'a mother to be') where a 'mother' is someone who collects and studies moths rather than a female parent.

6d   Sailor from overseas takes small vehicle to city (6)

Lascar[5] is a dated term for a sailor from India or SE Asia [as modifier] the manning of British ships by lascar crews.

7d   Let leaf grow oddly around bean (9)

A flageolet[5] is a French kidney bean of a small variety used in cooking.

8d   One winds up chap wearing hat (7)

In Britain, the phrase wind someone up[5] means either (1) to tease or irritate someone she’s only winding me up or (2) to make (someone) tense or angry he was clearly wound up and frantic about his daughter.

13d   Problem  an angler might have? (3,2,5)

One could treat the entire clue as a cryptic definition or split it into a double definition. In the case of the second option, one must interpret the later portion of the clue as "[something] an angler might have".

15d   Left university with fresher heading for judge’s study at night (9)

Lucubrate[5] is an archaic term meaning to write or study, especially by night.

Like Dave Perry, I pieced the solution together from the wordplay which I interpret to be L (left) + U (university) + (with) CUB (fresher) + (heading for) RATE (judge). I must confess that I don't fully understand why "fresher" is used to clue CUB. The best rationale that I can see is that cub[5] is an archaic term for a young man, especially one who is awkward or bad-mannered and fresher[5] is an informal British term for freshman.

17d   Quickly spread out after boss appears (8)

18d   Bear left after drink (7)

As a verb, sup[5] is a dated or Northern English term meaning to take (drink or liquid food) by sips or spoonfuls (i) she supped up her soup delightedly; (ii) he was supping straight from the bottle. As a noun, it means (1) a sip of liquid he took another sup of wine or (2) in Northern England or Ireland, an alcoholic drink the latest sup from those blokes at the brewery.

20d   Here’s a gift! (7)

A double definition that also lets us know that this should be an exceptionally easy clue to solve.

21d   Nightmare featuring run in old bit of wood (6)

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.

24d   On speed one can be raging (5)

25d   Distance between  a pair of horses (4)

A span[5] is a matched pair of horses, mules, or oxen. This meaning is characterised by Oxford Dictionaries Online[5] and Chambers 21st Century Dictionary[2] — though not Collins English Dictionary[10] — as being a North American or US usage respectively. 
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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