This puzzle was originally published Friday, August 21, 2009 in The Daily Telegraph
The National Post has skipped DT 26011 and DT 26012 published in the Daily Telegraph on Wednesday, August 19 and Thursday, August 20, 2009 respectively.
I certainly found this puzzle to be a considerable challenge. As I had a number of other commitments to attend to this weekend, I worked on it off-and-on over two days before finishing it.
Given the struggle that I was having with the puzzle, I was dumbfounded when I first arrived at the expected puzzle (DT 26011) on Big Dave's site to see the introduction begin, "This is an easy puzzle ...". Thankfully, a peek at the first clue showed that the National Post had not published the next puzzle in the sequence. Once I did find the correct puzzle, I was greatly relieved to see that the degree of difficulty had been rated as four stars.
An erroneous solution at 8d caused me lots of problems in the north-east corner.
Some possibly unfamiliar abbreviations, people, places, words and expressions used in today's puzzle
Clare of Assisi - founder of the Order of Saint Clare
Ely - a cathedral city in Cambridgeshire, England
Geordie - colloq noun 1 someone who was born on or who lives on Tyneside. 2 the Tyneside dialect.
hock2 - noun a white wine, originally only one made in Hochheim, on the River Main, in Germany, but now applied to all white wines from the Rhine valley.
John Wilmot, 2nd Earl of Rochester - English Libertine and friend of King Charles II
St Ives - a town in Cornwall, England
Libellule's review of today's puzzle may be found at Big Dave's Telegraph Crossword Blog [DT 26013].
Commentary on Today's Puzzle
1a Stones incorporating Californian singer and N.Y. players? (8)
The players in question could be Yankees or Mets, but not Knicks, Giants, Jets, Rangers or Islanders.
13a Plant girl on tandem? (5)
You will find a hint here.
6d Big hit winning everything (5,4)
Libellule seems to have overlooked (understandably so, I should point out) that the setter may be on a baseball theme today (or perhaps this clue is just a coincidence). In baseball, a grand slam is a home run with the bases loaded, scoring four runs (thus it is definitely a "big hit"). This usually involves the batter hitting the ball out of the park, but occasionally one may see an "inside the park" home run.
8d Common person accounting for about half of the population? (8)
Having opted for an incorrect solution, EARTHMAN, greatly impeded me in completing the remainder of the north-east corner. Eventually suspecting that it might be wrong, I peeked at Libellule's hint which showed me the error of my ways. Once I had corrected this error, the rest of the corner fell into place fairly quickly.
11d Drinks a lot of water in Geordieland from what we hear (4)
I only solved this clue with the help of the hint from Libellule. Unfortunately, even though the setter has apparently misplaced Geordieland (according to comments on Big Dave's blog), I cannot fall back on that as an excuse for my lack of success on this clue. I'm afraid that my knowledge of the geography of England is not sufficiently detailed for this error to have had any impact whatsoever on my ability to solve the clue. While I did think that the clue might be referring to a lake, it never occurred to me that I should actually be looking for a river.
20d Politician not in power in European country (4)
Although I figured out the right country, the wordplay baffled me - and I only deciphered it with the aid of Libellule's hint. In hindsight, I think I should have gotten it with a little bit of work, but I suppose I was just too worn down by that time to make the effort.
Signing off for today - Falcon
37 minutes ago