Puzzle at a Glance
Puzzle Number in The Sunday TimesST 4570
Date of Publication in The Sunday TimesSunday, December 29, 2013
Link to Full ReviewTimes for the Times [ST 4570]
Times for the Times Review Written ByDave Perry
Dave Perry's Solving Time★★[Note 2]
Date of Publication in the Toronto StarSaturday, January 18, 2014
Date of Publication in The Vancouver SunSaturday, January 25, 2014[Note 2]
█ - 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 being able to fully parse the clue
█ - unsolved or incorrect prior to visiting Times for the Times
 This puzzle appears on the Sunday puzzles pages in the Saturday, January 25, 2014 edition of the Ottawa Citizen.
 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.
 Excludes additional parsing time. In his review, Dave Perry states "Solving time: About 25 minutes to solve, but much longer to parse."
IntroductionThis is a puzzle where I often arrived at the solution without having parsed the clue — and where it frequently took longer to parse the clue than than to find the solution, and longer yet to research and compose the blog entry.
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 Midshipman before leaving is relaxed (4-5)
Mr. Midshipman Easy is an 1836 novel by British author Frederick Marryat (1792–1848), a retired captain in the 19th century Royal Navy. The novel is set during the Napoleonic Wars, in which Marryat himself served with distinction.
6a Nag man to adopt a change of direction (4)
I was so obsessed with the idea that the final letter must signify "east" that I failed to notice the other directional indicator.
Nag is used in the sense of a horse, especially one that is old or in poor health.
8a Eastern language that's secure reportedly (3)
According to Collins English Dictionary, Tai is a variant spelling of Thai. However, Oxford Dictionaries Online states that Tai is an adjective relating to or denoting a family of tonal southeast Asian languages, including Thai and Lao, of uncertain affinity to other language groups (sometimes being linked with the Sino-Tibetan family).
As one comment on Times for the Times puts it:
... for completeness' sake: "Tai" is not another way of spelling "Thai". Rather, Thai is one of several Tai languages. To avoid confusion, "Siamese" is still favoured in some circles to refer to the Thai language.However, while the definition in the Chambers 21st Century Dictionary corresponds to that in Collins, American dictionaries (The American Heritage Dictionary and Random House Kernerman Webster's College Dictionary) list both meanings[3,11].
9a What a commercial fisherman takes home? (3,8)
11a Rod's game (5)
12a Novel joke named as a winner (9)
Nap is a British term meaning to name (a horse or greyhound) as a probable winner of a race ⇒
Harbinger is napped to win the Novices' Hurdle.
Kidnapped is a historical fiction adventure novel by Scottish author Robert Louis Stevenson (1850–1894).
13a No quiet idle chats, they're noisy (7)
Piano[3,5] (abbreviation p), is a musical direction meaning either (as an adjective) soft or quiet or (as an adverb) softly or quietly.
14a Traditional clothing worn in minaret (7)
The anagram indicator in this clue, "worn in", is one of many of several found in this puzzle that are — shall we say — thought provoking. Although I did not the term in any dictionary, I presume that "wear in" is synonymous with "break in" — something you might need to do, for instance, with a pair of new shoes before they feel comfortable.
Raiment is an archaic or literary term for clothing ⇒
ladies clothed in raiment bedecked with jewels. The use of the adjective "traditional" in the clue alludes to the fact that the solution is an archaic word.
16a Get Gale under the table? One's there already! (4-3)
As an anagram indicator, under the table is used in the sense of drunk rather than done illicitly and secretly.
A gate-leg table is a table with one or two drop leaves that are supported when in use by a hinged leg [gate-leg] swung out from the frame.
18a Loud recorded beat (7)
Forte (abbreviation f) is a musical direction meaning (as an adjective) loud or (as an adverb) loudly.
19a Fastidious, having not a bit of pepper on the joint (9)
21a Horses groomed in Basra (5)
23a School grant in time ending (ll)
As an anagram indicator, school is used as a verb meaning to train.
24a Bachelor's last words almost in language designed for everyone (3)
Ido is a language created to be a universal second language for speakers of diverse backgrounds. Ido was specifically designed to be grammatically, orthographically, and lexicographically regular, and above all easy to learn and use. In this sense, Ido is classified as a constructed international auxiliary language. Ido was created in 1907 out of a desire to reform perceived flaws in Esperanto, a language that had been created for the same purpose 20 years earlier.
25a England's opening bowler disheartened in a short time (4)
I was able to decipher the overall intent of the setter, but didn't identify the specific cricketer referenced by the clue.
England refers to the England cricket team, the team that represents England and Wales (and until 1992 also Scotland) in international cricket.
Jimmy Anderson is an English cricketer who plays first-class cricket for Lancashire and has also represented England in over 80 Test matches and over 160 One Day Internationals.
A Test (short for Test match) is an international cricket or rugby match, typically one of a series, played between teams representing two different countries ⇒
the Test match between Pakistan and the West Indies.
I am really not sure why Anderson is referred to as "England's opening bowler". On occasion, especially earlier in his career, he seems to have been an opening bowler (one of the two bowlers who start a match) but I could find no evidence that he continues to regularly fill this role. Of course, he may well do so — as my knowledge of cricket is rather rudimentary and my investigation was rather cursory.
26a With which a deer sees what's happened? (9)
A hind is the female of the deer, especially the red deer when aged three years or more.
1d Most excellent father starts to drop off in bar (5)
Estop (usually found in the phrase be estopped from) is a legal term meaning to bar or preclude by estoppel ⇒
the company may be estopped from denying either statement. In his review, Dave Perry indicates that "in bar" may suggest that this is a legal term — although the word does, in fact, mean "bar".
Estoppel is the legal principle which precludes a person from asserting something contrary to what is implied by a previous action or statement of that person or by a previous pertinent judicial determination:
2d Don't give up a despicable person after criticism (5,2,2)
Tit is British slang for a foolish or ineffectual person.
Stick is an informal British term for severe criticism or treatment ⇒
I took a lot of stick from the press.
3d Poll tree in fall, for example, once fine leaves lost (7,8)
4d How directors make a film for new recruits (7)
An intake is the people taken into an organization at a particular time ⇒
the new intake of MPs.
An intake is not "a new recruit" but, rather, all the new recruits considered collectively. The word might be used in the plural when comparing the intake in one year to that of another year ⇒
intakes since 2005 have had a larger representation of women than was the case in previous years.
5d You get more contented in summer after good half-century (7)
Summer is used in the whimsical sense of someone who sums up numbers.
The abbreviation G for good likely comes from its use in rating school assignments or tests.
6d Fruit for Sir Humphrey? (8,7)
Sir Humphrey Appleby, GCB, KBE, MVO, MA (Oxon), is a fictional character from the British television series Yes Minister and Yes, Prime Minister. In Yes Minister, he is the Permanent Secretary for the Department of Administrative Affairs (a fictional department of the British government). In the last episode of Yes Minister, he becomes Cabinet Secretary, the position he retains during Yes, Prime Minister.
A mandarin is a powerful official or senior bureaucrat, especially one perceived as reactionary and secretive ⇒
a civil service mandarin.
By the way, this clue seems to have garnered a lot of criticism in the UK, being characterised as "very weak" and "feeble in the extreme". Nevertheless, I rather liked it.
Initially a grand short, called for significant rise (3-2)
10d Sitting around Land's End, calmed down (7)
Land's End is a rocky promontory in southwest Cornwall, which forms the westernmost point of England. The approximate distance by road from Land’s End to John o’Groats (a village at the extreme northeast point of the Scottish mainland) is 1,400 km (876 miles) — about the same distance as from Ottawa to Halifax.
13d What's prevalent in the club? Going topless (7)
Regnant means currently having the greatest influence; in other words, dominant ⇒
the regnant belief.
In the club (or the pudding club) is an informal British expression meaning pregnant.
15d Engineer's overlooking wild artwork (9)
17d Giant mystic rock fan to contain trouble coming up (7)
In the Bible, Goliath is a Philistine giant, according to one tradition slain by David (1 Sam. 17), but according to another slain by Elhanan (2 Sam. 21:19). The name has come to signify a person or thing of enormous size or strength ⇒
the two unassuming hippies took on a corporate Goliath.
A Goth (sometimes goth) is an aficionado of Goth music, a style of guitar-based rock with some similarities to heavy metal and punk and usually characterized by depressing or mournful lyrics.
18d Forefinger wagging ref expressed as not appropriate (7)
20d Current cuts change Italian city (5)
In physics, I is the symbol for electric current.
Turin is a city in northwest Italy on the River Po, capital of Piedmont region; population 908,825 (2008). Turin was the capital of the kingdom of Sardinia from 1720 and became the first capital of a unified Italy (1861-4). In Italian, it is known as Torino.
22d Neat and kind engaging husband (5)
Short is an adjective denoting (of a drink of spirits) undiluted or neat. This may be a British usage, as I found it only in Collins English Dictionary and Chambers 21st Century Dictionary.
In another British usage, as a noun, a short is a drink of spirits served in a small measure or, as Collins English Dictionary puts it, a drink of spirits as opposed to a long drink such as beer.
Key to Reference Sources:Signing off for this week — Falcon
 - The Chambers Dictionary, 11th Edition
 - Search Chambers - (Chambers 21st Century Dictionary)
 - TheFreeDictionary.com (American Heritage Dictionary)
 - TheFreeDictionary.com (Collins English Dictionary)
 - Oxford Dictionaries (Oxford Dictionary of English)
 - Oxford Dictionaries (Oxford American Dictionary)
 - Wikipedia
 - Reverso Online Dictionary (Collins French-English Dictionary)
 - Infoplease (Random House Unabridged Dictionary)
 - CollinsDictionary.com (Collins English Dictionary)
 - TheFreeDictionary.com (Random House Kernerman Webster's College Dictionary)