Sunday, September 15, 2013

Sunday, September 15, 2013 — ST 4551

Puzzle at a Glance
Puzzle Number in The Sunday Times
ST 4551
Date of Publication in The Sunday Times
Sunday, August 18, 2013
Dean Mayer (Anax)
Link to Full Review
Times for the Times [ST 4551]
Times for the Times Review Written By
Dave Perry
Dave Perry's Solving Time
Date of Publication in the Toronto Star
Saturday, September 7, 2013
Date of Publication in the Vancouver Sun
Saturday, September 14, 2013[see note]
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, September 14, 2013 edition of The Ottawa Citizen.

Due to a recently implemented paywall on its web site, I am no longer able to verify the puzzle appearing in the Vancouver Sun.


Having returned from my recent travels, I hope that service on the blog will return to normal — for the immediate future, at least.

Perhaps the long absence from cryptic crosswords put me out of practice, but I needed quite a bit of help from my electronic assistants with today's puzzle.

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   Confused setter’s headed west due to change in platform (5-2)

It is a common cryptic crossword convention for the creator of the puzzle to use terms such as compiler, setter, author, or writer to refer to himself or herself. To solve such a clue, one must usually substitute a first person pronoun (I or me) for whichever of these terms has been used  in the clue. However, today Anax adds a couple of flourishes to the clue, combining this device with the verb to be, in addition to introducing a reversal.

5a   Damn banks cut bank activity (7)

Shin[10] is a mainly British term, referring to a cut of beef, the lower foreleg.

9a   The P in Peterhouse (3)

Rho[5] is the seventeenth letter of the Greek alphabet (Ρ, ρ).

10a   Metal that is wood (7)

In golf, brassie[5] is a rather antiquated name for a number two wood [so named because the wood was originally shod with brass].

11a   Very many men put off about ecstasy (7)

12a   One failing to hold down good job in insurance (4,8)

16a   Thus writer’s not bothered by son's honesty (15)

17a   Initially brilliant contraption for organising personal effects? (6,9)

18a   Text about each hair style they create? (12)

The definition is written in Yoda-speak.

SMS[10] stands for short message service: a system used for sending text messages to and from mobile phones.

21a   Nasty smell by area in pub (7)

In British and Irish slang, hum can be a verb meaning to smell unpleasant when the wind drops this stuff really hums[5,10] or (2) a noun meaning a bad smell[2] or an unpleasant odour[10].

23a   Cloud over. Rubbish! That’S smoke (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.

24a   Chains regularly employed in prison (3)

25a   Accurately represented in opera, if not in life (2,5)

Tosca[7] is an opera in three acts by Italian composer Giacomo Puccini (1858 – 1924) to an Italian libretto by Luigi Illica (1857 – 1919) and Giuseppe Giacosa (1847 – 1906). It premiered at the Teatro Costanzi in Rome on 14 January 1900.

26a   Duke in Ferrari visits Tyneside becoming target of offence (3,4)

Enzo Ferrari[7] (1898 – 1988) was an Italian motor racing driver and entrepreneur, the founder of the Scuderia Ferrari Grand Prix motor racing team, and subsequently of the Ferrari automobile marque.

Tyneside[5] is an industrial conurbation (an extended urban area, typically consisting of several towns merging with the suburbs of a central city) on the banks of the River Tyne, in NE England, stretching from Newcastle upon Tyne to the coast.


1d   A phone company? Yes, possibly (4)

I was not aware that moby[10] is an informal name for a mobile phone — at least in the UK. Thus, I wasted copious amounts of time trying to introduce BT (British Telecom) into the solution, not to mention attempting to use 'maybe' as a synonym for "possibly".

2d   Cross country run’s abandoned in ancient Chinese capital (4)

Xi'an[7] is one of the oldest cities in China, with more than 3,100 years of history. It is one of the Four Great Ancient Capitals of China, having held the position under several of the most important dynasties in Chinese history,[3] including Zhou, Qin, Han, Sui, and Tang. Xi'an is the eastern terminus of the Silk Road and home to the Terracotta Army of Emperor Qin Shi Huang.

3d   Do irons twist? Not with awkward bends (11)

4d   Sopranos against opening fancy media event (5,10)

5d   Discovered rock is not a sound component for base of building (10,5)

6d   One silly old man's upset (3)

7d   One following old rock group is dying (2,8)

R.E.M.[7] was an American rock band from Athens, Georgia, formed in 1980 by singer Michael Stipe, guitarist Peter Buck, bassist Mike Mills, and drummer Bill Berry. R.E.M. disbanded amicably in September 2011.

8d   Giving bent information, ie story that’s wrong (10)

As Dave Perry points out, the definition "giving bent" means a predilection to giving.

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

13d   Cool rascal entertained by foolish rudeness (11)

14d   Criticism over dress that’s not automatic (5,5)

Stick[5] is British slang for severe criticism or treatment I took a lot of stick from the press.

15d   Goes beyond strange desires (10)

19d   Whole ring used for wrestling (4)

20d   Now in the red (4)

22d   Male duck, a bird that couldn’t fly (3)

In cricket, a duck[5] is a batsman’s score of nought [zero] ⇒ he was out for a duck. This is similar to the North American expression goose egg[5] meaning a zero score in a game.. In British puzzles, duck is used to indicate the letter "O" based on the resemblance of the digit "0" to this letter.
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)
[11] - (Random House Kernerman Webster's College Dictionary)
Signing off for this week — Falcon

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