Sunday, March 9, 2014

Sunday, March 9, 2014 — ST 4576

Puzzle at a Glance
Puzzle Number in The Sunday Times
ST 4576
Date of Publication in The Sunday Times
Sunday, February 9, 2014
Tim Moorey
Link to Full Review
Times for the Times [ST 4576]
Times for the Times Review Written By
Dave Perry
Dave Perry's Solving Time
Date of Publication in the Toronto Star
Saturday, March 1, 2014
Date of Publication in The Vancouver Sun
Saturday, March 8, 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 8, 2014 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.


I got off to a quick today, but became completely stymied after solving roughly half the puzzle. From that point onward, my electronic assistants received heavy usage. I eventually threw in the towel and resorted to Dave Perry's review to understand a couple of clues.

Note to Readers

My aim in writing this blog is to supplement the information provided by Dave Perry in his review at Times for the Times. To that end, I provide a link to his review in the table above. In my review, I try to provide explanations for any particularly British references in the puzzle — or in Dave Perry's review — as well as for a wide variety of specialized terms and uncommon abbreviations and symbols. Sometimes these bits of information are essential to solving the clue and sometimes they are merely meant to help one appreciate the surface reading of the clue.

If you still have unanswered questions about a clue after reading my review and that of Dave Perry, I invite you to leave a comment and I would be pleased to provide further explanation on the clue.

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   Fleet Street I'd call shocking, leaking time and time again (10)

Fleet Street[5] is a street in central London in which the offices of national newspapers were located until the mid 1980s (often used as a metonym for the British Press) the hottest story in Fleet Street.

An escadrille[10] [from a French word meaning flotilla] is is a small squadron of ships.

7a   Help, biting cold is bitter! (4)

9a   Penniless former German kingdom in a state (6)

In Britain's current decimal currency system, a penny[5] is a bronze [coloured] coin and monetary unit equal to one hundredth of a pound (and is abbreviated p).

Prussia[5] is a former kingdom of Germany. Originally a small country on the southeastern shores of the Baltic, under Frederick the Great it became a major European power covering much of modern northeastern Germany and Poland. After the Franco-Prussian War of 1870-1 it became the centre of Bismarck’s new German Empire, but following Germany’s defeat in the First World War the Prussian monarchy was abolished.

10a   Struggling learner fills in (8)

The cryptic crossword convention of L meaning learner or student arises from the L-plate[7], a square plate bearing a sans-serif letter L, for learner, which must be affixed to the front and back of a vehicle in various countries (including the UK) if its driver is a learner under instruction. 

In cricket, in[5] means batting ⇒ which side [team] is in?

11a   Theatrical A list mostly showing this lady (4)

I got the gist of the wordplay, but figured that the lady must be LISA. This choice was disproved when I solved 2d. There seemed to be only one other possible arrangement of the letters, although it took some research to confirm that.

Isla[7] is a feminine given name of primarily Scottish usage, derived from "Islay", which is the name of an island off the west coast of Scotland. It was the fifth most popular name for baby girls born in Scotland in 2010.

Perhaps if I had read the Harry Potter series, I would know the name. Isla Hitchens (née Black), is a fictional character in British novelist J. K. Rowling's Harry Potter series

Isla Elizabeth Phillips[7] (born 29 March 2012), daughter of Peter Phillips and the former Autumn Kelly [a Canadian], granddaughter of Princess Anne and Mark Phillips, and great-granddaughter of Queen Elizabeth, is fourteenth in line for the British throne.

12a   Equal to current growth roughly, less good around Californian wine valley (2,1,3,4)

In physics, I[5] is the symbol for electric current.

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

Napa Valley AVA[7] is an American Viticultural Area located in Napa County, California, United States.

15a   Walk in line with country code (14)

Being a telecommunications engineer by profession, to me country code meant the country calling codes[7] used in dialling international telephone calls or various other short alphabetic or numeric geographical codes (geocodes)[7] developed to represent countries and dependent areas, for use in data processing and communications.

In Britain, however, country code[10] refers to a code of good practice recommended to those who use the countryside for recreational purposes. At least, that explains the surface reading. In the cryptic reading, the setter uses this term to mean the fundamental political principles on which a state is governed.

17a   Petty officers get the hang of sharing accommodation (14)

I was not familiar with the usage of the term quartermaster[10] in the navy, where it refers to a petty officer with particular responsibility for steering a ship and other navigational duties.

20a   Display by head of Continental during standstills in flights (10)

Continental Airlines[7] was a major U.S. airline, founded in 1934 and headquartered in Houston, Texas. In 2010, the airline merged with UAL Corporation, the parent company of United Airlines. All flights of the combined airline operate under the United banner.

Stasis[5] (plural stases) is a formal or technical term meaning a period or state of inactivity or equilibrium  (i) long periods of stasis; (ii) creative stasis.

22a   One caught between two Kings shows strain (4)

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

Rex[5] (Latin for king, abbreviation R[5]) — Latin for king — denotes the reigning king, used following a name (e.g. Georgius Rex, King George) or in the titles of lawsuits (e.g. Rex v. Jones, the Crown versus Jones — often shortened to R. v. Jones).

K[5] is an abbreviation for king that is used especially in describing play in card games and recording moves in chess.

A rick[5] is a wrench or sprain, as of the back.

23a   Something done about exam not at all popular (8)

26a   Murdoch, for example takes a question for Middle Easterners (6)

Dame Iris Murdoch[5] (1919–1999) was a British novelist and philosopher, born in Ireland. She is primarily known for her novels, many of which explore complex sexual relationships and spiritual life. Notable novels: The Sandcastle (1957) and The Sea, The Sea (Booker Prize, 1978).

27a   One brief quote's cut after latest from Port Vale (2-2)

The rather complicated wordplay is A (one) + TA[G] (brief quote) with the final letter deleted ('s [is] cut) following (after) T (latest [last letter] from PorT).

In Britain, ta-ta[5] is an informal way to say goodbye well, I’ll say ta-ta, love.

A tag[10] is a brief quotation, especially one in a foreign language ⇒ his speech was interlarded with Horatian tags.

Vale[5] is an archaic term for a written or spoken farewell.

Port Vale Football Club[7] is an English association football [soccer] club that plays in Football League One, the third tier in the English football league system. They are based in Burslem, Staffordshire, one of six towns that make up the city of Stoke-on-Trent.

28a   Watch component being used (6-4)


2d   Soft drink on bar in games area (6,5)

In Britain, squash[5] is a concentrated liquid made from fruit juice and sugar, which is diluted to make a drink orange squash.

Following a long search, I eventually found bar[10] defined as a particular court of law.

3d   A book on English composer John Bull's not for me (9)

John Bull
While hardly germane to this clue, John Bull[5] is a personification of England or the typical Englishman, represented as a stout red-faced farmer in a top hat and high boots [from a character in a 1712 work by Scottish satirist John Arbuthnot].

The clue actually plays on a couple of other meanings associated with the name.

John Bull[5] (1562 or 1563 – 1628) was an English composer, musician and organ builder. He was a renowned keyboard performer of the virginalist school and most of his compositions were written for this medium.

John Bull Bitter was a beer produced by the now defunct Star Brewery[7] in Romford, England. The brewery closed in 1993.

Sir John Stainer[5] (1840–1901) was an English composer. He is remembered for his church music, including hymns, cantatas, and the oratorio Crucifixion (1887).

4d   Choose after study to select candidate again (7)

In Britain, to read[5] means to study (an academic subject) at a university (i) I’m reading English at Cambridge; (ii) he went to Manchester to read for a BA in Economics.

In the UK — although I did not find a specific dictionary reference to validate it — the term readopt is clearly used (with respect to a political candidate) in the sense of renominate. Here are a couple of instances of this usage:
  • William Seymour Blackstone[7] (1809–1881) was an English Conservative MP. Elected in 1832, he served until 1852, when the constituency refused to re-adopt him.
  • James Lockwood[7] (1888–1972) was a British Conservative Party MP who was elected at a by-election in November 1930 following the death of the sitting Labour MP. He was re-elected at the 1931 general election, but the local Conservative Association did not re-adopt him as their candidate for the 1935 election.
5d   Loft accessed by leaving vestibule (3)

6d   Cutting more starts to cheer Treasury (7)

In Britain, a cutting[5] is an article or other piece cut from a newspaper or periodical an archive of newspaper cuttings. I expected clipping[5] to be defined as the North American term for cutting, but it would seem that both terms may be used in Britain.

7d   Grant is uncultivated, not a little loud (5)

The setter uses the phrase "a little loud" to mean 'abbreviation for [a musical direction meaning] loud".

Forte[5] (abbreviation f[5]) is a musical direction meaning (as an adjective) loud or (as an adverb) loudly.

8d   Said to be fashionable place to stay (3)

13d   Where some journalists work now and again (2,5)

The Times[7] is a British daily national newspaper, first published in London in 1785 under the title The Daily Universal Register (it became The Times on 1 January 1788). The Times and its sister paper The Sunday Times (founded in 1821) are published by Times Newspapers, since 1981 a subsidiary of News UK, itself wholly owned by the News Corp group headed by Rupert Murdoch. The Times and The Sunday Times do not share editorial staff, were founded independently and have only had common ownership since 1967. [Of course, the latter publication is where this puzzle originally appeared.]

14d   Labour constraint to restrict a deal (11)

16d   Above on a church, stretch too far on a ladder? (9)

The wordplay is OVER (above) + RE (on [the subject of]) + A (from the clue) + CH (church).

18d   Kindles said to show previous Internet locations (7)

The surface reading is surely intended to evoke the image of an Amazon eReader.

19d   Hearing conventional remarks about Sweden taken up (7)

Noises[10] are conventional comments or sounds conveying a reaction, attitude, feeling, etc. ⇒ she made sympathetic noises.

The International Vehicle Registration (IVR) code for Sweden is S[5].

21d   Girl hearing spending limits is upset (5)

24d   Letter from Doris and others left out (3)

In ancient Greece, Doris[10] was a small landlocked area north of the Gulf of Corinth. Traditionally regarded as the home of the Dorians, it was perhaps settled by some of them during their southward migration.

25d   Fox perhaps is Conservative supporting the party (3)

Who is Dr. Fox? Dave Perry offers a couple of suggestions:
  • Dr. Liam Fox[7] is a British Conservative politician, Member of Parliament for North Somerset, and former Secretary of State for Defence. Fox studied medicine at the University of Glasgow and worked as a GP and Civilian Army Medical Officer before being elected as an MP in 1992.
  • Neil Fox[7] is an English DJ and TV presenter [host], known for many years as Dr. Fox before he became "Foxy" in the 2000s. He is now known simply as Neil Fox.
However, I would like to think that it might be the mythical doctor from whom the Dr. Fox effect[7] derived its name. In a psychology experiment conducted in 1970, an actor delivered lectures to groups of students under the guise of "Dr. Myron L. Fox": "The experimenters created a meaningless lecture on 'Mathematical Game Theory as Applied to Physician Education,' and coached the actor to deliver it 'with an excessive use of double talk, neologisms, non sequiturs, and contradictory statements.' At the same time, the researchers encouraged the actor to adopt a lively demeanor, convey warmth toward his audience, and intersperse his nonsensical comments with humor. ... The actor fooled not just one, but three separate audiences of professional and graduate students. Despite the emptiness of his lecture, fifty-five psychiatrists, psychologists, educators, graduate students, and other professionals produced evaluations of Dr. Fox that were overwhelmingly positive. ... The disturbing feature of the Dr. Fox study, as the experimenters noted, is that Fox’s nonverbal behaviors so completely masked a meaningless, jargon-filled, and confused presentation."

A study, I am sure, that has not been lost on our politicians!
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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