Sunday, March 16, 2014

Sunday, March 16, 2014 — ST 4577

Puzzle at a Glance
Puzzle Number in The Sunday Times
ST 4577
Date of Publication in The Sunday Times
Sunday, February 16, 2014
Jeff Pearce 
Link to Full Review
Times for the Times [ST 4577]
Times for the Times Review Written By
Dave Perry
Dave Perry's Solving Time
Date of Publication in the Toronto Star
Saturday, March 8, 2014[Note 3]
Date of Publication in The Vancouver Sun
Saturday, March 15, 2014[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
- solved but without fully parsing the clue
- unsolved or incorrect prior to visiting Times for the Times
- solved with aid of checking letters provided by solutions from Times for the Times
- yet to be solved
[1] This puzzle appears on the Sunday puzzles pages in the Saturday, March 15, 2014 edition of the Ottawa Citizen.
[2] Unverified as a paywall bars access to the The Vancouver Sun website.
[3] Unverified as there is no posting on the Saturday Star Cryptic Forum for March 8, 2014.


As Sunday Times crosswords go, I would say that this one was not overly difficult. Consequently, my electronic reinforcements saw only limited action today.

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   Drivers on-board ship, in private accommodation (7)

The Royal Automobile Club[7] (RAC) is a British private club. Founded in 1897 with the aim of encouraging the development of motoring in Britain, today the Royal Automobile Club is one of London’s finest private members' clubs. Like many other "gentlemen's clubs" in London today, the Royal Automobile Club now has women as well as men as members.

The club is not to be confused with RAC Limited[7] [a competitor of the AA (Automobile Association), the British counterpart to the CAA (Canadian Automobile Assocication) or AAA (American Automobile Association)], an automotive services company which the club formerly owned, whose principal services are roadside assistance and general insurance.

5a   Rodent emerges from River Thames in a storm (7)

The Thames[7] is a river of southern England, flowing 338 km (210 miles) eastwards from the Cotswolds in Gloucestershire through London to the North Sea.

9a   Fare rises with changes in structure (5,4)

A appropriate meal on the eve of St Patrick's Day.

10a   Robot made from lots of metal this writer backed (5)

It is a common cryptic crossword convention for the creator of the puzzle to use terms such as compiler, setter, (this) author, (this) writer, or this person to refer to himself or herself. To solve such a clue, one must generally substitute a first person pronoun (I or me) for whichever of these terms has been used in the clue.

In Jewish legend, a golem[5] is a clay figure brought to life by magic. The word is given the additional meaning of robot in both Oxford Dictionaries Online[5] and The Chambers Dictionary[1]

In a discussion of the "hubris theme" in the golem tradition, Wikipedia says "The theme also manifests itself in R.U.R. (Rossum's Universal Robots), Karel Čapek's 1921 play which coined the term robot; ... while Čapek denied that he modeled the robot after the Golem, there are many similarities in the plot."

11a   Introduction taken from story like "The Fields"? (6)

The title of the book may possibly be a convenient invention by the setter. However, there is actually a novel by that name. The Fields[7] is the second work in The Awakening Land[7] trilogy by American novelist Conrad Richter (1890–1968). The series, which traces the lives of a frontier family in the early 19th-century Ohio Valley, includes The Trees (1940), The Fields (1946), and The Town (1950) — the latter work winning the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1951.

12a   Medicine put outside is returned in case (8)

Case[10] is used in the sense of a specific condition or state of affairs; or, in other words, situation.

14a   Person dies suffering mental anguish (10)

16a   Turn back, about to discover monster (4)

Turn[2] is used in the sense of an opportunity or duty that comes to each of several people in rotation or succession ⇒ her turn to bat.

18a   Return of Friends is a hit (4)

The American television sitcom Friends[7] did air in the UK, so Brits would undoubtedly by familiar with the programme.

19a   Cut high crime rate here (10)

Tenderloin[5] is an informal North American term for a district of a city where vice and corruption are prominent. It was originally a term applied to a district of New York, seen as a ‘choice’ assignment by police because of the bribes offered to them to turn a blind eye [an allusion to tenderloin, a choice cut of meat which officers on the take could well afford to eat].

22a   Upsets a soldier with son outside the gallery (8)

A GI[5] is a private soldier in the US army ⇒ she went off with a GI during the war. Contrary to popular belief, the term apparently is not an abbreviation for general infantryman, but rather of government (or general) issue (originally denoting equipment supplied to US forces).

The Tate Gallery[5] (commonly known simply as the Tate) is a national museum of art in London, England founded in 1897 by the sugar manufacturer Sir Henry Tate (1819–1899) to house his collection of modern British paintings, as a nucleus for a permanent national collection of modern art. It was renamed Tate Britain in 2000, when the new Tate Modern gallery opened.

23a   Starter of boiled egg on rare meat? (6)

In the surface reading, starter[5] is a chiefly British term [but one not entirely foreign to Canada] meaning the first course of a meal.

26a   Duck died by river (5)

The River Ouse[5] is  a river of northeastern England, formed at the confluence of the Ure and Swale in North Yorkshire and flowing 92 km (57 miles) south-eastwards through York to the Humber estuary. As well, several other English rivers share the name (or variations of it).

27a   A eulogy about tenor's quality (9)

26a   Run to work (7)

Run[2] is used in the sense of to organize, manage or be in control of something ⇒ runs her own business. I would say that this double definition is somewhat compromised by the fact that run can also mean (with respect to machines, etc.) to operate or function ⇒ The presses ran all night [which is precisely the sense in which work is being used in the second definition].

29a   Meeting to talk about sulphur plant (7)

The symbol for the chemical element sulphur is S[5].


1d   Group hiding Twist the thief (7)

In his review, Dave Perry focuses on twist being a verb — which was also my inclination. However, in the course of my research, I stumbled upon some British meanings that suggest that it might more appropriately be considered to be a noun.

Twist[5] is British slang for a swindle, while rig[5] is an archaic term for a trick or swindle.

Although the protagonist was not himself a thief, could the clue be a reference to Oliver Twist[7], subtitled The Parish Boy's Progress, the second novel by English author Charles Dickens (1812–1870), published in 1838? The story is about an orphan, Oliver Twist, who escapes from a miserable existence and travels to London where he meets the Artful Dodger, leader of a gang of juvenile pickpockets, who takes him to the lair of the group's elderly criminal trainer Fagin. Ensnared, Oliver lives with Fagin and his gang of juvenile pickpockets in their lair at Saffron Hill for some time, unaware of their criminal activities.

2d   Girl carrying a dish in the curry house (5)

Raita[5] is an Indian side dish of yogurt containing chopped cucumber or other vegetables, and spices.

3d   Top pilots welcoming top racing driver as hero (8)

In Greek mythology, Achilles[5] was a hero of the Trojan War, son of Peleus and Thetis. During his infancy his mother plunged him in the Styx, thus making his body invulnerable except for the heel by which she held him. During the Trojan War Achilles killed Hector but was later wounded in the heel by an arrow shot by Paris and died.

Graham Hill[5] (1929–1975) was an English motor-racing driver who won the Formula One world championship in 1962 and 1975. He died in an aeroplane crash when his son, Damon Hill, was 15.

His son followed in his footsteps — or, should I say, tyre tracks. Damon Hill is a retired English motor-racing driver who won the Formula One world championship in 1996. He is the son of the late Graham Hill, and is the only son of a world champion to win the title.

4d   Luggage goes on rear part of the aeroplane (4)

Aeroplane[5] is a chiefly British variant spelling of airplane.

Kit[10] might refer to the container used to hold a set of tools, supplies, construction materials, etc, for use together or for a purpose.

On the other hand, kit might be a shortened version of kitbag[10], a canvas or other bag for a serviceman's kit. A kit10] is clothing and other personal effects, especially those of a traveller or soldier (i) safari kit; (ii) battle kit.

Kite[5] is an informal, dated British term for an aircraft.

5d   Welcome a difficult situation (3-2-3-2)

8d   Politician gathers silver — that's just what he might do!(6)

The setter employs the pronoun "that" to effectively use the phrase "gathers silver" twice in the clue. Read the definition as "that (i.e., gather silver) is just what he might do".

I thought this was a reference to the bird — and I suppose, indirectly, it is. Magpie[10] is a British term for a person who hoards small objects.

7d   The northern man interrupting singer's lecture (7,2)

In northern English dialects, the definite article "the" is pronounced t'.

8d   Demolish manor, church and court (7)

The Church of England[10] (abbreviation CE[10]) is the reformed established state Church in England, Catholic in order and basic doctrine, with the Sovereign as its temporal head.

13d   When having break stir tea and declare (10)

This is first time that I have never encountered this word. While I did manage to construct it from the wordplay, I nearly rejected it without checking to see if it actually existed.

Asseverate[5] means to make a solemn or emphatic declaration or statement of something I fear that you offer only unsupported asseveration.

15d   Play, on piano, overused phrase (9)

Piano[3,5] (abbreviation p[5]), is a musical direction meaning either (as an adjective) soft or quiet or (as an adverb) softly or quietly.

17d   You'll see one shuffling to work in Vegas? (8)

18d   Difficult character's neither good nor bad? (2-3-2)

This clue is a bit difficult to explain. It is a cryptic definition that relies on a play on words involving two expressions.

The definition, so-and-so[5], is an informal term for a person who is disliked or is considered to have a particular characteristic, typically an unfavourable one nosy old so-and-so!.

So-so[5] is an adjective meaning neither very good nor very bad (i) a happy ending to a so-so season; (ii) ‘How are you?’ ‘So-so.’.

The expression "so-so" could be described as consisting of the words 'so and so'.

20d   Harbour's extremely risky for a cannon (7)

Harbour[5] is used in the sense of to keep (a thought or feeling, typically a negative one) in one’s mind, especially secretly she started to harbour doubts about the wisdom of their journey.

In billiards and snooker, cannon[5] is the British term for carom[5], a stroke in which the cue ball strikes two balls successively. A nursery[10] (also called nursery cannon) is a series of cannons with the three balls adjacent to a cushion, especially near a corner pocket.

21d   A Scottish valley without a mineral (6)

Be very careful how you interpret this clue. The wordplay parses as if it were written "A; Scottish valley without; a". That is, you start with A (from the clue), then you place GLEN (Scottish valley) around it (without), and finally you append the second A from the clue.

Galena[5] is a bluish, grey, or black mineral of metallic appearance, consisting of lead sulphide. It is the chief ore of lead.

24d   Young's last game against the Spanish is sloppy fare (5)

Rugby union[10] (abbreviation RU[5]) is a form of rugby football played between teams of 15 players.

In Spanish, el[8] is the masculine singular form of the definite article. 

25d   Engaged in work at the highest level (4)

In music, Op.[5] (also op.) is an abbreviation meaning opus (work). It is used before a number given to each work of a particular composer, usually indicating the order of publication.
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

No comments:

Post a Comment