Sunday, December 8, 2013

Sunday, December 8, 2013 — ST 4563

Puzzle at a Glance
Puzzle Number in The Sunday Times
ST 4563
Date of Publication in The Sunday Times
Sunday, November 10, 2013
Dean Mayer (Anax)
Link to Full Review
Times for the Times [ST 4563]
Times for the Times Review Written By
Dave Perry
Dave Perry's Solving Time
Date of Publication in the Toronto Star
Saturday, November 30, 2013
Date of Publication in The Vancouver Sun
Saturday, December 7, 2013[Note 2]
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
[1] This puzzle appears on the Sunday puzzles pages in the Saturday, December 7, 2013 edition of The Ottawa Citizen.
[2] Due to the paywall that has been erected on its web site, I am no longer able to verify the puzzle that is published in the Vancouver Sun.


Knowing that the duty rotation would produce an Anax puzzle today, I was expecting a challenge — but perhaps not quite as much of a challenge as he delivered. Despite the best efforts of my electronic assistants, I threw in the towel with two clues left unsolved. However, when I saw Dave Perry's solving time, I felt much better about my own performance, even though I did need help from his review to understand the wordplay in the case of a couple of clues.

The puzzle was very controversial when it appeared in the UK, generating not only a higher volume of comments than I recall ever having seen, but comments that are also far more verbose than usual.

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   I'm fabulous on purpose (6)

In cricket, the on[5] (also known as the on side) is another name for the leg side [of the field]. The leg side[5] (also called simply the leg) is the half of the field (as divided lengthways through the pitch) away from which the batsman's feet are pointed when standing to receive the ball. Naturally, the other side of the field is called the off[5] (also known as the off side).

4a   Furious about stopping to lob change, as one might here (8)

As one must glean from the context of the clue, the implied definition is "one might [lob change] here".

In the UK, tolbooth[5] is a variant spelling of tollbooth. While I also found tolbooth[3,11] in American dictionaries, it was only in the archaic Scottish sense of a town hall or town jail.

9a   Without purpose, taking hold (5)

10a   Talk about topless girl providing help for skiers (9)

11a   Give a cheer in an ecstatic state (9)

12a   Loss of breath starts to alarm person not easily alarmed (5)

13a   Doctor met a fool and he's a burden (3,3,2,3,3)

In Greek mythology, the Old Man of the Sea[7] was a primordial figure who could be identified as any of several water-gods. He is the father of Thetis (the mother of Achilles).

Sinbad the Sailor encountered the monstrous Old Man of the Sea on his fifth voyage. The Old Man of the Sea in the Sinbad tales was said to trick a traveller into letting him ride on his shoulders while the traveller transported him across a stream. However, the Old Man would then not release his grip, forcing his victim to transport him wherever he pleased and allowing his victim little rest. The Old Man's victims all eventually died of this miserable treatment, but Sinbad, after having got the Old Man drunk with wine, was able to shake him off and kill him.

16a   A month after rep, cousin lost theatre part (10,4)

A proscenium arch[5] is an arch framing the opening between the stage and the auditorium in some theatres.

20a   Clamour surrounding a good politician (5)

William Hague[7] is a British politician who has been the First Secretary of State and the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs since 2010. He previously served as Leader of the Conservative Party and Leader of the Opposition from 1997 to 2001, and he has been a Member of Parliament (MP) since 1989.

21a   Racing driver put down crew dressed in gold (5,4)

The symbol for the chemical element gold is Au[5] (from Latin aurum).

Alain Menu[7] is a Swiss racing driver. He was one of the most successful touring car drivers of the 1990s, winning the prestigious British Touring Car Championship twice (the only driver during the series' 1991–2000 Super Touring era to do so). He drove for Chevrolet in the World Touring Car Championship between 2005 and 2012 with a best finish of second in 2012. As of 2013 Menu is racing in the Porsche Supercup for his own team.

23a   Fish hidden by subtle variegated colour (5,4)

24a   The country's crowded (5)

In various dialects, the article "the"is replaced by "t'". See item 7 at How to Speak With a Yorkshire Accent.
All use of "the" and "to" is replaced with "t'", which is pronounced by replacing the vowel sound with a half-audible "uh" noise, the kind you might make if you were lifting something unexpectedly heavy. EG: "I'm going into the woods"/Ah'm goin' int'[uh noise] woods" (note: the g at the end of "ing" is also dropped.)
25a   Insurer's rejected increase — wow! (8)

I needed Dave Perry's explanation of the wordplay related to "insurer's". I failed to realize that the S in the solution came from the 's in the clue. However, even had I recognized this, I'm not sure that I would have been able to figure out the rest. Apparently, Pru is used as a short form for Prudential (the insurance company) — at least by those who write newspaper headlines (see Pru pounces on investment rival, BBC News ).

Prudential plc[7] is a British multinational life insurance and financial services company headquartered in London, United Kingdom. The company is unrelated to the American insurance company with a similar name. Prudential Financial, Inc.[7], also known by its primary subsidiary The Prudential Insurance Company of America, is a Fortune Global 500 and Fortune 500 company whose subsidiaries provide insurance, investment management, and other financial products and services to both retail and institutional customers throughout the United States and in over 30 other countries.

In Britain, an increase in salary or wages is called a rise[5] — rather than a raise[5], as it would be in North America.

26a   What TV has for TV investor (6)

In Britain, TV[4] is used as an abbreviation for transvestite. Note that this usage is absent from the two American dictionaries found at the foregoing link.

Dragons' Den[7] is a series of reality television programmes featuring entrepreneurs pitching their business ideas in order to secure investment finance from a panel of venture capitalists [known as the dragons]. The show originated in Japan. Dragons' Den series have been produced in numerous different countries including the UK and Canada. Apart from in Japan (where the show debuted) the show names, structures, and styles are based upon the UK version.


1d   Spot cream with calcium ingredient (8)

The symbol for the chemical element calcium is Ca[5].

2d   Small amount of drink coating base of beer pump (5)

A gill[5] is a unit of liquid measure, equal to a quarter of a pint.

3d   Look for one in climbing country (7)

5d   One initially looks great in a shift, being "mature" (2,1,7,3)

The plural noun looks[5] refers to a person’s facial appearance considered aesthetically he had charm, good looks, and an amusing insouciance. I think that face can have a similar meaning, as in the expression fair of face.

6d   Widow's conduct on replacing husband (7)

I didn't entirely get the wordplay here until it was explained by Dave Perry.

7d   Soldiers, single file, protecting European navigator? (9)

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

An orienteer[4] is a person who takes part in [the sport of] orienteering[11], a sport in which competitors navigate unfamiliar terrain and locate checkpoints with the aid of a map and compass.

8d   Hospital radio show's new offer? (6)

My attempts to decipher this clue were an exercise in futility.

It's That Man Again[7] (or, commonly, ITMA) was a BBC radio comedy programme which ran from 1939 to 1949. The title refers to a contemporary phrase concerning the ever more frequent news-stories about Hitler in the lead-up to World War II. ITMA is believed to have played a major role in sustaining morale on the UK's "home front" during World War II.

Here the definition is "offer", a word — seemingly invented by the setter — denoting a member of the underworld who "offs" people.

10d   "Support" suggests furniture against wall (7,6)

A console table[3] is (1) A table supported by decorative consoles fixed to a wall or (2) a small table, often with curved legs resembling consoles, designed to be set against a wall. A console[3] is an often scroll-shaped bracket used for decoration or for supporting a projecting member, such as a cornice or shelf.

14d   Proper regret over following useless guide across river (2,7)

The adjective de rigueur[5] ( a term adopted from French) means required by etiquette or current fashion it was de rigueur for bands to grow their hair long.

15d   Not a word published — knowledge wasted (8)

17d   Senior nurses recognise a boss! (7)

As used here, boss[3,4,11] is slang for first-rate, topnotch, fine, or excellent.

18d   Police car hems suspect in (7)

Motor[5] is an informal British term for a car ⇒ we drove out in my motor. This is seemingly a shortened form of "motor car" and yet another example of the Brits referring to something by an adjective rather than the noun which the adjective modifies. Other examples are 'estate' for 'estate car' (British name for a station wagon) and 'Indian' for 'Indian restaurant'.

The wordplay is MOTOR (car) containing (hems) an anagram (suspect) of IN. My first thought was that the clue does not really work as it is "hem in" which means to confine, not "hem". However, I guess I will have to give Anax the benefit of the doubt as Collins English Dictionary defines hem[10] (usually followed by in, around, or about) as meaning to enclose or confine. [Note the qualification "usually"].

19d   Specific articles are reduced to singular essay (6)

22d   Dallas family's European branch (5)

Dallas[7] is a long-running American prime time television soap opera that aired from 1978 to 1991 on CBS. The series revolves around the Ewing clan, a wealthy and feuding Texan family who own the independent oil company Ewing Oil and the cattle-ranching land of Southfork.
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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