Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Sunday, December 29, 2013 — ST 4566

This entry was posted on Sunday, January 5, 2014 but has been backdated to place it in the proper sequence in the Blog Archive.
Puzzle at a Glance
Puzzle Number in The Sunday Times
ST 4566
Date of Publication in The Sunday Times
Sunday, December 1, 2013
Dean Mayer (Anax)
Link to Full Review
Times for the Times [ST 4566]
Times for the Times Review Written By
Dave Perry
Dave Perry's Solving Time
Date of Publication in the Toronto Star
Saturday, December 21, 2013
Date of Publication in The Vancouver Sun
Saturday, December 28, 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 28, 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.


This puzzle was an ordeal, being undoubtedly one of the most difficult Sunday Times puzzles that I have encountered. I worked off and on at it for a week, solving slightly better than a third of the clues. Another day spent on it with the help of my electronic aids resulted in another two fifths or so being solved. At that point, I threw in the towel and resorted to Dave Perry's review at Times for the Times for an explanation of the remaining clues. Despite the puzzle being fiendishly difficult, I rather enjoyed the challenge. It is always immensely satisfying when I finally crack one of Dean Mayer's difficult clues. However, I am thankful his creations appear on a three week rotation — I would certainly not up to such a challenge on a weekly basis.

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   Supremely funny attempts to fill in form (8)

In a similar manner to Dave Perry, I tried to put TRIES into something — in my case, in an effort to create a word meaning extremely hilarious. Unfortunately for me, funny is used in this clue in the sense of strange, rather than hilarious.

In the solution, shy[5] is used in an archaic sense meaning to attempt to do or obtain something have a shy at putting the case to me.

"In form" is fit (i.e., in good physical condition).

5a   Was party host married in this spot? (6)

If someone "was [the] party host", then they "ran [the] do". Dave Perry, in his review, attempts to explain this clue.

10a   Chap caught boxing one on one! (5)

I did get the solution from the wordplay but did not understand the definition.

On cricket scorecards, the abbreviation c[5] denotes caught (by).

I presume that "on one" denoting manic comes from the informal expression off on one[10] which means exhibiting bad temper or ranting.

11a   Hide mirror in shower? (5,4)

12a   French lady consumed by major delivery problem (7)

Alas, I misdirected my efforts to investigating the complications associated with child birth.

13a   I come from America, carrying personal influence (7)

I believe that pet[10] is being used in the sense of particularly cherished or favourite ⇒ a pet theory; a pet hatred.

15a   He will not be worried by Euro being spent elsewhere? (5-3-4)

The American English version (but not the British and World English version) of Oxford Dictionaries Online defines E[6] as the symbol for () euro(s).

Collins English Dictionary lists several meanings for the adjective below-the-line[10] (all involving a financial context). While it is difficult to fathom which one may have been intended by the setter, the one that might seem to apply best to this clue is (of an advertising campaign) employing sales promotions, direct marketing, in-store exhibitions and displays, trade shows, sponsorship, and merchandising that do not involve an advertising agency.

18a   For good measure, sister spanked mother (12)

The anagram indicator is "spanked".

The abbreviation G[10] for good likely relates to its use in rating school assignments or tests.

In printing, an en[5] is a unit of measurement equal to half an em and approximately the average width of typeset characters, used especially for estimating the total amount of space a text will require.

21a   Dogs' home — see a tail wagging outside it (7)

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

SA[5] is an informal, dated term for sex appeal.

Alsatia[7] was the name given to an area of London, England that, between the fifteenth and seventeenth centuries, had the privilege of a sanctuary, except against a writ of the Lord Chief Justice or of the Lords of the Privy Council; and as a result it was the refuge of the perpetrators of every grade of crime, debauchery, and offence against the laws. The execution of a warrant there, if at any time practicable, was attended with great danger, as all united in a maintenance in common of the immunity of the place. It was one of the last places of sanctuary used in England, abolished by acts of Parliament in 1697 and 1723.

Alsatia was named after the ancient [Latin] name for Alsace, Europe, which was itself outside legislative and juridical lines, and, therefore, they were literally places without law.

Alsatian[5] seems to be the preferred British name for the German Shepherd breed of dog.

22a   Gunners find fierce competition (3,4)

Entering WAR GAMES here severely hampered progress in the southeast quadrant.

In the UK, the Royal Regiment of Artillery[7], commonly referred to as the Royal Artillery (RA), is the artillery arm of the British Army.

23a   Welsh town's beauty about to take shape with gold (9)

Dolgellau[7] is a market town in Gwynedd, north-west Wales, lying on the River Wnion, a tributary of the River Mawddach. Dolgellau is the main base for climbers of Cader Idris, a mountain which lies at the southern end of the Snowdonia National Park and one of the most popular spots in Wales for walkers and hikers.

25a   Drummer runs home to beat it (5)

On cricket scorecards, the abbreviation R[5] denotes run(s).

Ringo Starr[5] is an English rock and pop drummer; born Richard Starkey. He replaced Pete Best in the Beatles in 1962.

26a   Budget speech hasn't started (6)

27a   Fire-resistant article worst in emergency! (8)

Worst[5] is a verb meaning to get the better of or defeat this was not the time for a deep discussion—she was tired and she would be worsted.

Best[5] is a verb meaning to outwit or get the better of (someone) she refused to allow herself to be bested.


1d   Suffer hunger following religious sect (6)

You might encounter the abbreviation f.[10] meaning following (page) in the footnotes of an academic work.

The Amish[5] are the members of a strict Mennonite sect founded by the Swiss preacher Jakob Amman (or Amen) (circa 1645-circa 1730). Now living mainly in Pennsylvania and Ohio, the Amish migrated to North America from circa 1720.

2d   Correct use of words — wrong stress, say (6)

While Dave Perry may hold the view that "'sin tax' ... isn't a phrase in its own right", it is certainly a common term in Canada [denoting a tax on such articles as tobacco and alcohol].

3d   Rival in tavern finally shot cowboy (11)

In Britain [and, to some extent, North America], cowboy[5] can mean a dishonest or careless person in business, especially an unqualified one cowboy coach firms are alleged to have flouted safety rules. In North America, the term has more of a connotation of reckless behaviour than of incompetency.

4d   Someone I ring during study, oddly at great speed (14)

I'm afraid that ASTRONOMICALLY was a poor choice and impeded progress for a considerable period of time.

6d   Scottish city in Solway region (3)

Ayr[5] is a port in SW Scotland, on the Firth of Clyde, the administrative centre of South Ayrshire council area; population 45,900 (est. 2009).

Solway would refer to the area around the Solway Firth[7], a firth [bay or inlet] that forms part of the border between England and Scotland, between Cumbria (including the Solway Plain) and Dumfries and Galloway.

In actuality, Ayr, which is located in South Ayrshire (north of Dumfries and Galloway), could only in the loosest sense be considered to be in Solway region.

7d   You must investigate trouble in joint (8)

8d   Farmer is temporarily bagging growing plant material (8)

I failed to recognize that this is a hidden word clue. In any event, the word is new to me.

In botany, meristem[5] denotes a region of plant tissue, found chiefly at the growing tips of roots and shoots and in the cambium, consisting of actively dividing cells forming new tissue the apical meristem of the shoot produces the embryonic seed leaves.

9d   Factions first to prevent progress until disbanded (8,6)

14d   Where Frenchman accommodates various dates? (5-1-5)

With the help of a word finder application, I got the solution from the checking letters. However, I failed to realize that there is more to the clue than the cryptic definition. As Dave Perry explains in his review, the clue is a semi & lit.

A semi & lit. is a clue in which the entire clue is the definition and a portion of the clue (under a different interpretation) constitutes the wordplay.

16d   Mountain resident gets down about climbing mountain (8)

17d   Syllabus, without university permit, stays (8)

Historically, stays[5] are a corset made of two pieces laced together and stiffened by strips of whalebone. Stays being a plural noun — like trousers, pants and drawers — presumably takes a plural verb.

Corselet[5] is a variant spelling of corselette[5], a woman’s foundation garment combining corset and bra.

19d   Glossy mesh in drawer (6)

A glossy[5] is a magazine printed on glossy paper with many colour photographs he’s been touted in some upmarket glossies as the thinking woman’s crumpet.

Drawer being a seemingly whimsical term for something that draws (i.e., attracts).

20d   Watery grave where one's lost (6)

24d   For one love, number one (3)

"For one" meaning 'for example'.

In tennis, squash, and some other sports, love[5] is a score of zero or nil ⇒ love fifteen. The resemblance of a zero written as a numeral (0) to the letter O leads to the cryptic crossword convention of the word "love" being used to clue this letter.

Ego[5] is a person’s sense of self-esteem or self-importance he needed a boost to his ego.

Number one[5] is a way of referring to oneself ⇒ you must look after number one. I think the connotation of this phrase is that, from your own personal perspective, you are the most important person and this is, therefore, an expression of self-importance (or ego).
Key to Reference Sources: 

[1]   - The Chambers Dictionary, 11th Edition
[2]   - Search Chambers - (Chambers 21st Century Dictionary)
[3]   - TheFreeDictionary.com (American Heritage Dictionary)
[4]   - TheFreeDictionary.com (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] - CollinsDictionary.com (Collins English Dictionary)
[11] - TheFreeDictionary.com (Random House Kernerman Webster's College Dictionary)
Signing off for this week — Falcon 

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