Sunday, September 22, 2013

Sunday, September 22, 2013 — ST 4552

Puzzle at a Glance
Puzzle Number in The Sunday Times
ST 4552
Date of Publication in The Sunday Times
Sunday, August 25, 2013
Tim Moorey
Link to Full Review
Times for the Times [ST 4552]
Times for the Times Review Written By
Dave Perry
Dave Perry's Solving Time
Date of Publication in the Toronto Star
Saturday, September 14, 2013
Date of Publication in the Vancouver Sun
Saturday, September 21, 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 21, 2013 edition of The Ottawa Citizen.

Due to the paywall on its web site, I am no longer able to verify the puzzle that appears in the Vancouver Sun.


If not for a previously unknown musical term, I might have completed this puzzle without resorting to help from my electronic aids. That is a performance that I would never have expected to achieve based on Dave Perry's reported solving time of nearly an hour.

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. The underlined portion of the clue is the definition.


1a   Queen in States is a detective story writer (6)

Like Dave Perry, I immediately wrote in ELLERY, although not without considerable misgivings — that eventually proved to be well-founded.

Ellery Queen[5] is an American writer of detective novels; pseudonym of Frederic Dannay (1905 – 1982) and Manfred Lee (1905 – 1971). The novels feature a detective also called Ellery Queen.

Dorothy L. Sayers (1893 –  1957) was a renowned English writer. She is best known for her mysteries, a series of novels and short stories set between the First and Second World Wars that feature English aristocrat and amateur sleuth Lord Peter Wimsey, that remain popular to this day. 

The ciphers (monograms) of British monarchs are initials formed from the Latin version of their first name followed by either Rex or Regina (Latin for king or queen, respectively). Thus the cipher of Queen Elizabeth is ER[5] — from the Latin Elizabetha Regina .

5a   Matt behind northern hill collapsed (4,4)

Mattz[5] (or, as I am accustomed to seeing it spelled, matte) is an adjective used to describe a surface or colour which is dull and flat or without a shine (i) prints are available on matt or glossy paper; (ii) a matt black. According to Oxford Dictionaries Online, it is spelled mat[5] in the US.

A fell[5] is a hill or stretch of high moorland, especially in northern England.

9a   Back rubbish strike around bistro? That's criminal (10)

10a   No yen for it in the corner (4)

It[5] (usually written within quotation marks ‘it’) is an informal term for sexual intercourse or sex appeal the only thing I knew nothing about was ‘it’.

The yen[5] (abbreviation Y[5]) is the basic monetary unit of Japan.

11a   A jewel from the east is extremely good (4)

I thought it meant big, but according to Collins English Dictionary, mega[4] is a slang term meaning extremely good, great, or successful.

12a   Principal Muslim leaders said to be showing signs of rejection (10)

14a   Beautiful lady to a certain extent proves the rule (6)

In the Bible, Esther[5] is a woman chosen on account of her beauty by the Persian king Ahasuerus (generally supposed to be Xerxes I) to be his queen. She used her influence with him to save the Israelites in captivity from persecution.

16a   Ship's officer maintains European river is not up to much (8)

The Oder[5] is a river of central Europe which rises in the mountains in the east of the Czech Republic and flows northwards through western Poland to meet the River Neisse, then continues northwards forming the northern part of the border between Poland and Germany before flowing into the Baltic Sea.

18a   Beard? Mug’s not up for it! (4,4)

Beard[5] means to boldly confront or challenge (someone formidable) he was afraid to beard the sultan himself.

I interpreted face down[4] to mean to confront and force (someone or something) to back down. However, Dave Perry suggests that it is a cryptic definition of a beard — DOWN (as in short, soft hairs) on the FACE.

20a   Trim  wood (6)

22a   Stub of ginger in hot eppetiser bringing out sweat (10)

Perspirate[10] is a synonym for perspire — one that is rarely used according to The Chambers Dictionary.

24a   Indifferent  couple of notes (2-2)

In music, tonic sof-fa (or sol-fa[3]) refers to the set of syllables  used to represent the tones of the scale. In the US, the names of the notes are generally spelled do, re, mi, fa, sol, la, and ti while, in the UK, they are known as doh (or do), ray (or re), mi (or me), fah (or fa), soh (or so or sol), lah (or la), and te (or ti)[4] [where more than one spelling is shown, the first is the primary spelling with variant spelling(s) following].

26a   Fruit to give on leaving (4)

27a   Recorders perhaps ordered prison as nothing new (10)

A sopranino[5] is a musical instrument, especially a recorder or saxophone, higher than soprano.

29a   Some smuggle in sterling from part of Ireland (8)

Sterling[5] could refer to (1) British moneyprices in sterling are shown or (2) short for sterling silver [as modifier] a sterling spoon.

Leinster[5] is a province of the Republic of Ireland, in the south-east of the country, centred on Dublin.

30a   Bury’s awfully vengeful front pair sent off (6)

Bury[7] is a town in Greater Manchester, England. The clue is likely a reference to Bury Football Club, an association football team plays in League Two, the fourth tier in the English football league system.


2d   Knowing top card, fight to replace clubs (5)

3d   Rot found in two English trees (7)

Like Dave Perry, I questioned the wording in this clue.

4d   Mother's champion in very big Broadway hit (9)

In response to Dave Perry's query, smasheroo[10] is listed in Collins English Dictionary as being US slang meaning something having popular success.

5d   Well, it's appropriate (3)

6d   Primate is supporting line on other ranks (5)

In the British armed forces, other ranks (abbreviation OR)[5] refers to all those who are not commissioned officers.

7d   Female's not just come here for amusement (7)

Funfair[5] is a chiefly British term for a fair consisting of rides, sideshows, and other amusements (i) a travelling funfair set up every year or (ii) [as modifier] a funfair ride.

8d   Bad reaction on first taste of claret, lacking in body? (9)

13d   Chaps enthralled by tune in the country (7)

15d   Draw male working in Express (9)

The Daily Express[7] is a daily national middle market tabloid newspaper in the United Kingdom. It is the flagship title of Express Newspapers, which also publishes the Sunday Express.

17d   Need repast abroad? Avoid rump of stallion in a stew (9)

The clue is an allusion to the 2013 meat adulteration scandal[7] that is ongoing in Europe in which foods advertised as containing beef were found to contain undeclared horse meat, as much as 100% of the meat content in some cases, and other undeclared meats, such as pork. The issue came to light on 15 January 2013, when it was reported that horse DNA had been discovered in frozen beefburgers sold in several Irish and British supermarkets.

19d   With choppy sea bird is moving in one direction (7)

In addition to denoting situated in or towards the east, eastern[10] may also mean facing or moving towards the east.

21d   Harsh slant given to news in tabloid (7)

23d   Rick Stein to get one image within another (5)

Rick Stein[7] is an English chef, restaurateur and television presenter [host]. He owns several restaurants in England and Australia, as well as having written or presented a number of cookery books and television programmes.

As an anagram indicator, rick[5] is used in the sense of to form into a rick or ricks; in other words, to stack the nine cords of good spruce wood ricked up in the back yard.

25d   19 capital only mentioned (5)

To complete the clue, one must replace the number "19" (which serves as a cross reference indicator) by the solution to clue 19d.

28d   A bit repeated by property expert (3)

In a comment left today on Times for the Times, someone wonders "I thought 'per' meant 'for each' or 'by way of'. The clue wasn't difficult to solve, but where does 'a bit' come in??". Answer: Per is a bit of "proPERty" and a bit of "exPERt".
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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