Friday, July 31, 2009

Friday, July 31, 2009 (DT 25884)

This puzzle was originally published Tuesday, March 24, 2009 in The Daily Telegraph

Introduction

Not too difficult a puzzle today - but one containing a goodly dose of Briticisms.

Today's Glossary

Some possibly unfamiliar abbreviations, people, places, words and expressions used in today's puzzle

beak - Brit, dated slang a headmaster, judge or magistrate (noun, defn. 4)

bedlam - colloq a very noisy confused place or situation; a madhouse

CID - abbrev Criminal Investigation Department, the detective branch of the British police force

DI - abbrev Detective Inspector (defn. 2)

grange - Brit a farmhouse or country house with its farm buildings (entry 2)

pi - Brit slang a short form of pious (adj)

Today's Links

I found one question on AnswerBank discussing today's puzzle. It (together with the clue to which it relates) is:
Gazza's review of today's puzzle may be found at Big Dave's Telegraph Crossword Blog [DT 25884].

Signing off for today - Falcon

Thursday, July 30, 2009 (DT 25883)

This puzzle was originally published Monday, March 23, 2009 in The Daily Telegraph

Introduction

Back from vacation - but still struggling to get back into my regular routine.

Today's Links

I did not find any questions on AnswerBank discussing today's puzzle.

Tilsit's review of today's puzzle may be found at Big Dave's Telegraph Crossword Blog [DT 25883].

Commentary on Today's Puzzle

23ac A figure of speech satisfied a figure in speech (8)

I easily found the solution but was unable to crack the wordplay, having missed the fact that "in speech" is a homophone (sounds like) indicator. Thus, the solution is:

23ac A figure of speech [MET|A|PHOR] /\ satisfied [MET] A {figure in speech (homophone indicator) [PHOR~] (sounds like "four")} (8)

4d Father goes over Minorca having trip that's all-inclusive (9)

My reading of this clue matches that of Nigel and Mike in their posts on Big Dave's blog.

15d Building material for many on a Greek island (8)

This clue utilizes a commonly encountered cryptic crossword device where "many" must be replaced by a large Roman Numeral (e.g., L, C, D, or M); in this case, it is C :

15d Building material [C|ON|CRETE] /for\ many [C] ON {a Greek island [CRETE]} (8)

20d Bearing the right number (5)

Here is another frequently encountered cryptic crossword device, where "number" means something that causes numbness.

20d Bearing [E(ast)] THE right [R] /\ number [E|THE|R] (5)

Signing off for today - Falcon

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Links for July 21 to July 29

Introduction

As I will be vacationing for the next week or so, I am posting a list of links for the puzzles that are expected to be published during that period. Please bear in mind that the National Post may decide to skip a few puzzles during this period (as they do from time to time), in which case the links might not be very helpful.

Links for July 21 to July 29
Signing off for for a few days - Falcon

Monday, July 20, 2009 (DT 25875)

This puzzle was originally published Friday, March 13, 2009 in The Daily Telegraph

Introduction

I quickly progressed about half way through this puzzle before bogging down. There were quite a few terms with which I was unfamiliar (as evidenced by Today's Glossary). Finally, with one clue remaining unsolved, I consulted Big Dave's blog which enabled me to complete the puzzle.

I also owe an apology to Big Dave for failing (in my blog of this Friday past) to properly attribute the warning on setters sometimes putting cross-reference clue numbers in words. That advice, in fact, came from Big Dave, and not, as I incorrectly indicated, from Peter Biddlecombe.

Today's Glossary

Some possibly unfamiliar abbreviations, people, places, words and expressions used in today's puzzle

adumbrate - to overshadow (defn. 4)

emmet - Cornish nickname for tourists

Erebus - Greek Mythology the dark region of the underworld through which the dead must pass before they reach Hades

Indra - Hindu god of rain and thunder

IOW - abbrev. Isle of Wight

pi - Brit. slang a short form of pious

Solent - a narrow channel between the Isle of Wight and the southern mainland of England

Villa - short form for the Aston Villa Football Club

water meadow - a meadow kept fertile by flooding

Today's Links

I found two questions on AnswerBank discussing today's puzzle. They (together with the clues to which they relate) are:

AnswerBank [DT 25875]-a: 26d

AnswerBank [DT 25875]-b: 30ac, 21d

Libellule's review of today's puzzle may be found at Big Dave's Telegraph Crossword Blog [DT 25875].

Commentary on Today's Puzzle

14d Man given perch, famous French soldier (6)

I did not perceive "given" as a linking word, and therefore I was looking (in vain) for a famous French soldier with six letters in his name. However, with Libellule's guidance, I saw the solution immediately.

Signing off for today - Falcon

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Saturday, July 18, 2009 - Song and Dance


Introduction

Today's puzzle by Cox and Rathvon pays homage to American composer George Gershwin as well as subtly raising a glass to the F├Ęte Nationale of France.

Today's Glossary

Some possibly unfamiliar abbreviations, people, places, words and expressions used in today's puzzle

House of Atreus - the lineage of Atreus, a king of Mycenae in Greek mythology

Commentary on Today's Puzzle

20d Pronounced words to get a stooge's attention in loft (6)

The loft is a HAYMOW. If one pronounces the words forming "haymow" (i.e., "hay" and "mow"), making "mow" rhyme with "know" rather than "now" (thereby also taking on a different meaning), the result sounds like "Hey, Moe!" (who together with Larry and Curly make up The Three Stooges").

21d Uris has one use for support (4,2)

This clue parses as:

21d [LE^ON] Uris {has (containment indicator)} one [AN] /\ use for support [LE(AN) ON] (4,2)

Solution to Today's Puzzle

Legend: "CD" Cryptic Definition; "DD" Double Definition

"*" anagram; "~" sounds like; "<" letters reversed

"( )" letters inserted; "_" letters deleted
Across

1ac {RHAPSODY IN BLUE}* - wild {RUSH LED BY PIANO}*

8ac CURT|AILED - Curt Schilling: former Major League Baseball pitcher

9ac TOLLS - DD

11ac PLUM|BED

12ac C(RIMS)ON - keeps (containment indicator)

13ac REBUT* - awful BRUTE*

15ac GUEST~ - sounds like (aloud) GUESSED

18ac SNAFU* - {AS FUN}* is ruined

19ac _ANDRE_ - appearing in grAND REunion

22ac LATCHES* - new SATCHEL*

23ac C(OUR)AGE - actor Nicolas Cage; adopts (containment indicator)

24ac S(ALS)A - actor Al Pacino; into (containment indicator)

25ac REP|AIRMAN

26ac {GEORGE GERSHWIN}* - {GO WHERE GINGER'S}* dancing

Down

1d RECIPE* - PIERCE* developed

2d ATREUS* - SEURAT* designed

3d SCAR|BO|ROUGH| FAIR - actress Bo Derek

4d DO|LED - DO: musical note, as in Do Re Mi ...

5d INDIC(A)TED - held (containment indicator)

6d B|A|THING| BEAU|TIES

7d UNLISTED* - {DUEL ISN'T}* relocated

10d SON|AT|A

14d BRASS|ERIE

16d PS|ALMS

17d B(A|STILL)E - outside (containment indicator)

20d HAYMOW~ - sounds like (pronounced words) HEY MOE (see Commentary section above)

21d LE(AN) ON - writer Leon Uris; has (containment indicator)

23d COPSE~ - sounds like (heard) COPS

Signing off for today - Falcon

Friday, July 17, 2009

Friday, July 17, 2009 (DT 25874)

This puzzle was originally published Thursday, March 12, 2009 in The Daily Telegraph

Introduction

I found today's puzzle, with its tricky wordplay, to be a bit more difficult than those of the last few days. Although it was initially hard to find a starting point, once I did, I made steady - though rather slow - progress through three quarters of the puzzle. However, the bottom right-hand corner proved especially obstinate - but eventually fell to my attack. Despite having found the correct solution, I was unable to decipher the wordplay for one clue - but I do have somewhat of an excuse, if not justification, for that failure.

Once again, my assessment of the degree of difficulty is totally at variance with the opinion of the Brits.

Today's Glossary

Some possibly unfamiliar abbreviations, people, places, words and expressions used in today's puzzle

aquavit - a strong clear Scandinavian liquor

do - slang to cheat or swindle (verb trans., defn. 12)

Kensington - a district of West London, England

league - a former measure of distance by land, usually about three miles

Ken Livingstone - British politician (not Scottish medical missionary David Livingstone, who first came to mind)

MB - abbrev. Bachelor of Medicine (defn. 1)

Ivan Petrovich Pavlov - Nobel prize winning Russian physiologist

pavlova - a dessert consisting of meringue topped with fruit and whipped cream

Anna Pavlova - Russian ballet dancer

sea eel - the conger eel

third age - Brit. the period in life of active retirement, following middle age

Today's Links

I found five questions on AnswerBank discussing today's puzzle. They (together with the clues to which they relate) are:
Gazza's review of today's puzzle may be found at Big Dave's Telegraph Crossword Blog [DT 25874].

Commentary on Today's Puzzle

21ac Chicken for four - about a pint, initially (5)

This is the clue for which I was unable to figure out the wordplay. It turns out that there was a small but crucial difference between the clue published in the National Post and that shown on Big Dave's blog, which is:

21ac Chicken for 4 - about a pint, initially (5)

With the numeral in the clue, I recognized immediately that this is a cross-reference to clue 4d. The solution is then:

21ac Chicken [CAPON] /for\ 4 [C^ON] - about A {pint, initially [P]} (5)

where CON is a synonym for the solution to 4d (DIDDLE).

The contributors to Big Dave's blog usually rely on the online version of the puzzle, which has been known on occasion to differ from the version in the print edition of the Daily Telegraph. The version appearing in the National Post is usually identical to the version in the print edition of the DT. However, I can't be sure if this is the case with today's puzzle as there were no comments on the British blogs regarding any discrepancies between the online and print versions of the puzzle.

Peter Biddlecombe (xwd_fiend) has pointed out in a comment posted here some time ago that setters may sometimes cross-reference by word rather than number. Well, it has now happened and I still missed it - despite his warning.

Signing off for today - Falcon

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Thursday, July 16, 2009 (DT 25873)

This puzzle was originally published Wednesday, March 11, 2009 in The Daily Telegraph

Introduction

Another puzzle today that did not give me too much trouble. In fact, I actually thought I might complete the puzzle unaided. Alas, despite setting the puzzle aside and returning to it at least a half dozen times throughout the day, I was unable to crack the last remaining clue on my own. I finally surrendered and dug into the tool chest - where running the checking letters through a crossword solving tool enabled me to find the missing solution.

Today's Glossary

Some possibly unfamiliar abbreviations, people, places, words and expressions used in today's puzzle

Mrs. Mopp - apparently an informal term for a charwoman (cleaning lady); although I was unable to find the term in a dictionary, I did find this rather amusing example of actual usage

old sweat - informal a veteran soldier

Reigate - a town in Surrey, England

Today's Links

I found four questions on AnswerBank discussing today's puzzle. They (together with the clues to which they relate) are:
Big Dave's review of today's puzzle may be found at Big Dave's Telegraph Crossword Blog [DT 25873].

Commentary on Today's Puzzle

18ac I pay a flying visit on a regular basis (7,5)

This is the clue that prevented me from completing the puzzle without digging into my tool chest. It seems that I was not alone, as this clue was the subject of two queries on AnswerBank.

Signing off for today - Falcon

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Wednesday, July 15, 2009 (DT 25872)

This puzzle was originally published Tuesday, March 10, 2009 in The Daily Telegraph

Introduction

It was a fairly easy puzzle today - so much so that, with the exception of one clue, I did not need to dig into my tool chest. However, once again, my perception of difficulty appears to be at odds with that of the Brits.

Today's Glossary

Some possibly unfamiliar abbreviations, people, places, words and expressions used in today's puzzle

caryatid - Architecture a supporting pillar in the form of a draped female figure

strop - colloq. a bad temper

Today's Links

I found three questions on AnswerBank discussing today's puzzle. They (together with the clues to which they relate) are:

AnswerBank [DT 25872]-a: 17ac

AnswerBank [DT 25872]-b: 8d

AnswerBank [DT 25872]-c: 20ac

Gazza's review of today's puzzle may be found at Big Dave's Telegraph Crossword Blog [DT 25872].

Commentary on Today's Puzzle

20ac Diversions turning back creates rages (6)

The wordplay clearly suggested that the solution must be STROPS; however, as I had never encountered this meaning for the word, I could not be 100% sure it was correct until I had consulted a dictionary.

Having recently seen the movie Sweeney Todd, I can't help but think that there has to be an opportunity for an interesting clue involving him and the dual meanings of "strop".

8d Female pillar of support? (8)

This was the last clue to be solved and the only one that required that I dig into the tool chest. The Crossword Solver tool quickly showed me that there is only one possible solution based on the checking letters.

Signing off for today - Falcon

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Tuesday, July 14, 2009 (DT 25871)

This puzzle was originally published Monday, March 9, 2009 in The Daily Telegraph

Introduction

While not overly difficult, this puzzle did require a bit of time to solve due to the need to track down a fair number of unfamiliar terms. A wrong solution held me up for some time as well.

Today's Glossary

Some possibly unfamiliar abbreviations, people, places, words and expressions used in today's puzzle

Bakewell tart - Brit. a baked open tart

break off - the first shot in most types of billiards games (alternate form of break)

(football) strip - uniform (shirt, shorts and socks) worn by a football (soccer) player

hoy - a type of boat

murphy - a potato (defn. 2)

strip lighting - tubular fluorescent lights

Today's Links

I found only a single question on AnswerBank discussing today's puzzle. It (together with the clue to which it relates) is:
Big Dave's review of today's puzzle may be found at Big Dave's Telegraph Crossword Blog [DT 25871].

Commentary on Today's Puzzle

30ac Show how to repeat changes (8)

I suspected that this might be an anagram, but the wordplay threw me off for a while. I was looking for a word meaning "show how", not "show". The word "how" seems to be extraneous to the cryptic wordplay and is likely inserted solely to enhance the surface reading. I'm tempted to gripe about this, but I see that it did not raise any hackles on the British blogs - so I suppose this bit of deviousness must be par for the course.

6d Remove a film sequence (4)

Incorrectly thinking that the solution to this clue was CLIP initially caused me all kinds of problems in the upper right-hand corner. Once I had discovered my error, I was able to complete the puzzle successfully.

7d North American Indian medicine man gets the bird (6)

When I read this clue, SHAMAN ("North American Indian medicine man") immediately came to mind. However, I was pretty skeptical since I could see no way to get SHAMAN from the remainder of the clue ("gets the bird").

Signing off for today - Falcon

Monday, July 13, 2009

Monday, July 13, 2009 (DT 25870)

This puzzle was originally published Saturday, March 7, 2009 in The Daily Telegraph

Introduction

Not too difficult a puzzle - especially considering that it was a Saturday prize puzzle in the U.K.

Today's Glossary

Some possibly unfamiliar abbreviations, people, places, words and expressions used in today's puzzle

Avesta - the holy scriptures of Zoroastrianism

Faro - a city in southern Portugal

Holbeach - a town in southern Lincolnshire, England

just - based on fact or sound reason; well-founded (adj., defn. 6)

Lewes - the county town of East Sussex, England

Limpopo River - a large river in southern Africa

opener - cricket either of the two batsmen who begins the batting for their team (defn. 4)

plc - abbrev. public limited company

Po River - a river in northern Italy

Renfrew - a town near Glasgow, Scotland

requite - to avenge (defn. 2)

U - abbrev. upper class (hence, socially acceptable) English

vesta - Brit. a short friction match with a wood or wax shank (defn. 3)

Today's Links

As is the rule for a Saturday prize puzzle, there are more than the usual number of questions related to today's puzzle on AnswerBank. I found twelve questions, which (together with the clues to which they relate) are:


Big Dave's date-of-publication hints for today's puzzle may be found at Big Dave's Telegraph Crossword Blog [DT 25870] - Hints and Peter Biddlecombe's post-submission-date review at Big Dave's Telegraph Crossword Blog [DT 25870] - Review.

Commentary on Today's Puzzle

Like Peter Biddlecombe, I initially questioned "just" meaning "according to the facts" and "requite" meaning "avenge". However, I found dictionaries supporting both of these meanings (see Today's Glossary).

I must say that I found Big Dave's comment "It’s a shame when setters resort to lesser known towns ..." to be rather ironic, as virtually every town that ever appears in one of these puzzles is at best lesser known to me.

Signing off for today - Falcon

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Saturday, July 11, 2009 - Cattle Herd


Introduction

There's a lot of beef in today's puzzle by Cox and Rathvon.

Commentary on Today's Puzzle

3d Bill heard barbershop member (5)

In Britain, I imagine this clue might have been phrased similar to:
  • Note heard in barbershop group (5)
In North America, a ''tenner" is a ten dollar bill, whereas in Britain it is a ten pound note.

20d Rome's river engulfing 1,000 trees (6)

It occurs to me that a British setter may have been somewhat less obvious by phrasing the clue along the lines of:
  • Rome's river engulfing a great number of trees (6)
Solution to Today's Puzzle

Legend: "CD" Cryptic Definition; "DD" Double Definition

"*" anagram; "~" sounds like; "<" letters reversed

"( )" letters inserted; "_" letters deleted
Across

1ac {BUM STE}*ER - {MUST BE}*

5ac SHAM|US

9ac R(OMAN|O)V

10ac P|A|RAG|ON

11ac TAPIR~ - sounds like TAPER

12ac S(ACRED*) COW - CEDAR*

13ac NADIR* - DRAIN*

15ac CUR|TAIL

17ac PIT-A|-PAT

18ac L|APE|L

21ac IRIS|H (B)ULL

23ac B(ON)US

24ac BO(L)O TIE

25ac MO(ROC|C)O

26ac RIYAD*|H - DAIRY*

27ac M|OONCALF* - {CAN FOOL}*

Down

1d BAR(IT|ON)E

2d ME|MO P|AD

3d TENOR~ - sounds like TENNER (a ten dollar bill)

4d _ELVIS_ - tunn[EL VIS]ion

6d HORSETAIL* - {THE SAILOR}*

7d M(AG)ICAL* - CLAIM*

8d SI(NEW)S

10d {PAC|K RA|}

14d RATCHETED* - CHATTERED*

15d C(APT)URE

16d {BLAST OFF}* - {SOFT FLAB}*

17d PA(ISLE)Y

19d PAN|ACE|A

20d TI(M)BER

22d LIMBO - DD

23d BAR(O)N

Signing off for today - Falcon

Friday, July 10, 2009

Friday, July 10, 2009 (DT 25869)

This puzzle was originally published Friday, March 6, 2009 in The Daily Telegraph

Introduction

A rather easy puzzle today, methinks.

Today's Glossary

Some possibly unfamiliar abbreviations, people, places, words and expressions used in today's puzzle

High Street - Brit the main shopping street of a town

rum - chiefly Brit colloq strange; odd; bizarre (entry 2)

Today's Links

I found two questions on AnswerBank discussing today's puzzle. They (together with the clues to which they relate) are:

AnswerBank [DT 25869]-a: 13ac, 29ac, 9d, 23d

AnswerBank [DT 25869]-b: 10ac, 3d

Boaz reported (Cryptics.co.uk [DT 25869]) that he did not post a solution to today's puzzle as his Internet service was down and would be for some considerable time due to a seemingly terribly unresponsive ISP. Apart from one last desperate gasp from Sphinx, this is the last we ever see of this blog.

Libellule's review of today's puzzle may be found at Big Dave's Telegraph Crossword Blog [DT 25869].

Signing off for today - Falcon

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Thursday, July 9, 2009 (DT 25868)

This puzzle was originally published Thursday, March 5, 2009 in The Daily Telegraph

Introduction

Contrary to the degree of difficulty rating on Big Dave's site, I found this puzzle to be a bit on the harder side. But then again, it does have cricket references in it - though I managed to figure those out. I ended up still in the dark as to the wordplay on one clue and skeptical about my solution to another clue (which just happens to intersect the aforementioned clue).

Today's Glossary

Some possibly unfamiliar abbreviations, people, places, words and expressions used in today's puzzle

form - Chiefly Brit. a bench (noun, defn. 11a)

form - slang a criminal record (noun, defn. 11)

gg - Brit. babytalk horse (appeared in a previous puzzle)

in - cricket batting (adverb, defn. 8)

NUM - abbrev. National Union of Mineworkers

SP - abbrev. starting price: the final odds at the start of a horse race

TA - abbrev. Territorial Army

Today's Links

I found four questions on AnswerBank discussing today's puzzle. They (together with the clues to which they relate) are:
There is a full solution for today's puzzle at Cryptics.co.uk [DT 25868].

Gazza's review of today's puzzle may be found at Big Dave's Telegraph Crossword Blog [DT 25868].

Commentary on Today's Puzzle

24ac Gathered round to protect return of the rule of law (5)

Despite the solution being fairly obvious, the wordplay is not. I gathered that a reversal was involved (from the indicator "return") but did not recognize that it was a reversed hidden word clue (from the indicator "protect"). However, Gazza set me straight.

25d About to get morning paper (4)

I got "about" → RE and "morning" → AM. But I still had a couple of reservations about whether this was actually the correct solution.

Reservation #1: What is the role of "to get" in this clue? The phrase "to get" often serves as linking words between the two parts of a clue. In other cases, "gets" (in the sense of "captures") can be a containership indicator. But, obviously, neither is the case in this clue. Rather, it would appear that "to get" in this clue has the sense of "to have something added or attached". That is, "RE gets AM" suggests "RE has AM attached (to itself)".

Reservation #2: Is ream a synonym for paper? Ream is a unit of measurement for a quantity of paper. Does this mean that "cup" could mean "sugar" or "flour", "gallon" could mean "petrol" (gasoline)? Perhaps it is justified in this case, since paper seems to be the only commodity to which the unit ream can be applied.

Signing off for today - Falcon

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Wednesday, July 8, 2009 (DT 25867)

This puzzle was originally published Wednesday, March 4, 2009 in The Daily Telegraph

Introduction

Although some of the wordplay left me scratching my head, I found this puzzle to be a bit easier than other recent puzzles and finished it fairly quickly (by my standards). At first, I was surprised to see Big Dave suggest it was "a slightly tricky puzzle". On second thought, he is probably correct - I seem to trip up on the obvious clues and thrive on the trickier ones.

Snookered

I appear to have fallen into a trap in my blog on Monday's puzzle, when I wrote about the term "in-off" as applied in billiards. All the dictionary references that I found to the term unfortunately related to snooker. As Big Dave has pointed out in his comment in response to my blog, the term has a different meaning in the two games.

In its entry on cue sports, Wikepedia says "Snooker, which while technically a pocket billiards game, is generally classified separately based on its historic divergence from other games, as well as a separate culture and terminology [emphasis mine] that characterize its play."

I must say that my experience with cue sports is rather limited, consisting of shooting a bit of pool on rather infrequent occasions. I see from Wikipedia that I was actually playing eight-ball (or some variant thereof). I usually relied on my opponent to know the rules, as I was never able to keep them straight. I eventually discovered that my confusion was largely due to the fact that in "bar pool" there are so many local variations on the rules that there are virtually no set rules.

So while snooker and billiards (and the other cue sports) may appear to the uninitiated to be quite similar, they would exhibit major differences to those who are knowledgeable about them. This is no doubt similar to the situation with U.S. and Canadian football which probably appear to those outside of North America as quite similar sports. They are - as long as you disregard the fact that they are played on different sized fields, with a different number of players per team, with a different sized ball, with a different number of downs, with some differences in scoring, and with various significant differences in the rules.

Today's Glossary

Some possibly unfamiliar abbreviations, people, places, words and expressions used in today's puzzle

atacamite - Min. an oxychloride of copper

estoc - a thrusting sword of the 13th–17th centuries

The Hoe - a ridge in Plymouth, England

Mach 1 - the speed of sound

Sunderland - a seaport in Tyne and Wear, in NE England

Today's Links

Update: During the period when I was writing my blog this morning, AnswerBank was down for maintenance. Once it got up and running, I was able to find four questions discussing today's puzzle. They (together with the clues to which they relate) are:

AnswerBank [DT 25867]-a: 19d

AnswerBank [DT 25867]-b: 9d, 20d

AnswerBank [DT 25867]-c: 7d

AnswerBank [DT 25867]-d: 12ac, 19d

A complete solution, albeit lacking an explanation for 19d (which even Anax was at a loss to explain), is found at Cryptics.co.uk [DT 25867].

Big Dave's review of today's puzzle may be found at Big Dave's Telegraph Crossword Blog [DT 25867].

Commentary on Today's Puzzle

19d Stimulant started early turn on (7)

Although the solution is obvious, I was not able to make sense of the wordplay - nor could Anax at Cryptics.co.uk. Although both AnswerBank and Big Dave's blog provide an explanation (in fact, the sites cross-reference each other), none of the correspondents on either site seem enamoured with the wordplay. Maybe it only makes sense if one is on ecstasy.

24d Square ridge nailed to a hoof (4)

I missed the reference to The Hoe. However, shoe has a large number of definitions, several of which might conceivably be considered to be a square ridge. Since one of the setters for the DT seems to be enamoured of third rails on electric railway systems, I thought maybe "the sliding contact by which an electric car or locomotive takes its current from the third rail" could possibly be shaped like a square ridge.

Signing off for today - Falcon

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Tuesday, July 7, 2009 (DT 25866)

This puzzle was originally published Tuesday March 3, 2009 in The Daily Telegraph

Introduction

While I didn't find this puzzle to be quite as easy as Gazza seems to have found it, I did complete it - albeit after resorting to a hint from him to help solve one of the clues.

Today's Glossary

Some possibly unfamiliar abbreviations, people, places, words and expressions used in today's puzzle

crew - colloq, usually derog a bunch of people (noun, defn. 4)

drill - a thick strong cotton cloth (entry 2)

flash - colloq smart and expensive (adj, defn 3)

rating - Brit an ordinary seaman (defn 2)

ring - a group of people who act together to control an undertaking for their own advantage or profit (noun, defn 11)

Today's Links

I found two questions on AnswerBank discussing today's puzzle. They (together with the clues to which they relate) are:
A full solution to today's puzzle may be found at Cryptics.co.uk [DT 25866] together with a somewhat spirited discussion of clue 23d.

Gazza's review of today's puzzle is found at Big Dave's Telegraph Crossword Blog [DT 25866].

Commentary on Today's Puzzle

14ac Turns over flash car (5)

This meaning of "flash" was not at all familiar to me, but as soon as I read Gazza's hint, the solution immediately came to me. In North American, I might expect to see a car described as "flashy" but that would mean "ostentatious" rather than "elegant". The checking letter provided by this solution also proved to be the key in clearing a mental block that was preventing me from finding the solution to 8d.

23d End of locks on very French braid (5)

There was a scathing discussion on Cryptics.co.uk regarding the use of "on" in this clue as a positional indicator meaning "follows". Those engaged in the discussion did not like this usage in general and found its use particularly inappropriate in a down clue - where "on" should indicate "preceding" rather than "following".

Signing off for today - Falcon

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Monday, July 6, 2009 (DT 25865)

This puzzle was originally published Monday, March 2, 2009 in The Daily Telegraph

Introduction

After feeling pretty cocky about finishing a puzzle with no wrong solutions, I can always count on Big Dave to bring me down to earth with his assessment of the puzzle as "... [a] nice easy, straightforward puzzle ...". Although I correctly solved all the clues, I was at a bit of a loss for the wordplay on one of them.

Today's Glossary

Some possibly unfamiliar abbreviations, people, places, words and expressions used in today's puzzle

gin (trap) - a wire noose laid as a snare or trap for catching game (entry 2, noun, defn. 1)

in-off - U.K. in snooker, a shot in which the ball hits another ball before falling into a pocket

off - cricket the side of a field towards which the batsman's feet are pointing, usually the bowler's left (noun, defn. 2)

specific - a drug that is used to treat one particular disease, condition, etc. (noun, defn. 2)

starting price (sp) - horse-racing the final odds that are offered on a horse just before the race begins

Today's Links

Characterising the blogs: AnswerBank is primarily a forum where users share solutions to specific clues and only infrequently is there any significant discussion regarding the puzzle. Cryptics.co.uk strives to provide a complete solution to the puzzle and fairly often will have a limited amount of discussion concerning the puzzle. Big Dave's Telegraph Crossword Blog provides extensive hints, a full set of solutions, and detailed explanations of difficult solutions with ongoing discussion amongst regulars and visitors pertaining to the puzzle.

I found a couple of questions on AnswerBank discussing today's puzzle. They (together with the clues to which they relate) are:
The Daily Telegraph chat blog at cryptics.co.uk [DT 25865] returns today for the start of a rather brief run and provides a pretty complete solution to today's puzzle (though certainly not up to the standard of Big Dave's site). More noteworthy than the solution, however, is the discussion regarding the perceived decline in quality of the DT Cryptic and an assessment of the DT Cryptic relative to other puzzles by one of the participants who is apparently himself a setter of cryptic crossword puzzles.

Big Dave's review of today's puzzle may be found at Big Dave's Telegraph Crossword Blog [DT 25865].

Commentary on Today's Puzzle

11ac Jack training for the 15? That's sudden! (6)

I figured out most of the wordplay, but missed the "Jack" → sailor → able bodied → AB bit. Now how unforgivable is it for a good Maritime lad like myself not to remember that "Jack Was Every Inch a Sailor"?

6d Crown jewels (5)

I was not impressed with this clue but decided to reserve judgment thinking that I may have overlooked some nuance in the wordplay. I was glad to see that Big Dave panned it in his blog.

22d Sort of scoring shot in billiards or by batting cricket side (2-3)

This clue provides lots of rope for me to hang myself, dealing as it does with two pastimes the British hold dear. But as the song goes, "Fools rush in ...".

A "sort of scoring shot in billiards" is apparently an "in-off" as the object ball goes in the pocket off another ball. However, one would never know this from either Wiktionary or Chambers which focus solely on the situation where the cue ball goes in the pocket off another ball. This, of course, is not a scoring shot but a foul.

If a cricket team is "batting", it is "in". The clue is constructed in such a way as to lead one to believe that "cricket side" is referring to "cricket team". However, the reference is actually to the "off" side of the cricket pitch (field). In cricket, of course, players don't pitch - they bowl.

The word "by" (in addition to aiding the surface reading) serves as a positional indicator showing that the word substituted for "cricket side" is "by" (i.e., beside) the word substituted for "batting".

Signing off for today - Falcon

Saturday, July 4, 2009 - Geometric Geography


Introduction

Today's shapely puzzle by Cox and Rathvon covers a lot of territory. As is typical of their creations, it is not too difficult but includes some quite clever and challenging wordplay.

By the way, have you ever noticed that "quite" is really a rather strange word. As an interjection, it means "exactly" or "precisely" denoting "I am in total agreement with you." However, as an adverb its meaning is anything but precise - denoting either "completely" on one hand, or "fairly, rather, kind of" on the other. Ah, the precision and consistency of the English language!

Solution to Today's Puzzle

Legend: "CD" Cryptic Definition; "DD" Double Definition

"*" anagram; "~" sounds like; "<" letters reversed

"( )" letters inserted; "_" letters deleted
Across

9ac ENT|WINE - CD

Note: Treebeard is the oldest living member of the Ents, a fictional race of humanoid trees in J. R. R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings

10ac _P|AND/OR|A_ - group[P AND/OR A]lone

11ac {POLAR CIRCLE}* - {PRICE COLLAR}*

12ac E(A)R

13ac _INDRI_ - ma[IN DRI]ve

15ac TOP|I|ARIES

17ac {BERMUDA TRIANGLE}* - {RULE RAGTIME BAND}*

19ac C(LAUD)ETTE - cette: that in French

21ac SP(L)IT

23ac ROC_ - [ROC]k

24ac {TIMES SQUARE}* - {QUIETER MASS}*

27ac ARPANET* - {A PARENT}*

Note: The Advanced Research Projects Agency Network (ARPANET) was the predecessor to the Internet.

28ac O(MITT)ED

Down

1d DEL(P)HI

2d S(TO)LIDER - slider: a type of pitch that a baseball pitcher might throw

3d TIER - DD

4d REGIS(T)RANT - Regis Philbin: American TV personality

5d _EPIC_ - th[E PIC]tures

6d {ANSEL ADAMS}* - {AD SALESMAN}* Ansel Adams: renowned American photographer

7d {DO-RE-MI}* - {DIME OR}*

8d {LACROSSE}* - {CLOSER AS}*

14d I(NUN)DATING

16d PER|VERSION

17d B(ACT)RIAN - Brian Mulroney: former Canadian Prime Minister

18d GALL|ANTS

20d AL (CAP)P - Al Capp: American cartoonist, creator of the comic strip L'il Abner

22d TR(END)Y

25d MATE - DD

26d QUIT_ - [QUIT]e

Happy Fourth of July to American readers - Falcon

Friday, July 3, 2009

Friday, July 3, 2009 (DT 25864)

This puzzle was originally published Saturday, February 28, 2009 in The Daily Telegraph

Introduction

Although a moderately easy puzzle, I managed to make a few mistakes. I suppose that the upside to having the wrong solution is that it provides justification for not understanding the wordplay :-)

Today's Glossary

Some possibly unfamiliar abbreviations, people, places, words and expressions used in today's puzzle

affection - Pathol. a disease, or the condition of being diseased (defn. 3)

Alph River - a river in Antarctica (named for a fictional river in Samuel Taylor Coleridge's poem, Kubla Khan)

Rab - a Scottish version of the name Robert; for instance, Scottish footballer Rab Douglas - hopefully not yet another totally obscure player :-)

Today's Links

Characterising the blogs: AnswerBank is primarily a forum where users share solutions to specific clues and only infrequently is there any significant discussion regarding the puzzle. Cryptics.co.uk strives to provide a complete solution to the puzzle and fairly often will have a limited amount of discussion concerning the puzzle. Big Dave's Telegraph Crossword Blog provides extensive hints, a full set of solutions, and detailed explanations of difficult solutions with ongoing discussion amongst regulars and visitors pertaining to the puzzle.

It being a Saturday prize puzzle in the UK, I was not surprised to find some eighteen questions on AnswerBank discussing today's puzzle. Due to the large number, I have provided a link to a Google search which picked up most of the questions:

AnswerBank [DT 25864]-a:

I have provided direct links for three questions missed by the above search. They (together with the clues to which they relate) are:

AnswerBank [DT 25864]-b: 1ac

AnswerBank [DT 25864]-c: 29ac

AnswerBank [DT 25864]-d: 22d

It was interesting to learn that apparently the French receive the puzzle a week in advance of the British (on one occasion, at least) through an international weekly edition of the Telegraph. So, it seems the French are given a one week head start while we, in Canada, are subjected to a four month penalty :-)

Today we get an advance indication that another Daily Telegraph blog that I have followed in the past, Cryptics.co.uk, is about to be reactivated - albeit briefly.

You can find Big Dave's date-of-publication hints for today's puzzle at Big Dave's Telegraph Crossword Blog [DT 25864]-Hints and Peter Biddlecombe's post-submission-date review at Big Dave's Telegraph Crossword Blog [DT 25864]-Review.

Commentary on Today's Puzzle

1ac Dared to remove second half of outlet (4)

To quote Peter Biddlecombe, "these 'half of something' clues can be hard to crack", but I thought I may have succeeded - although I wasn't able to completely nail the wordplay. It turns out I was incorrect in thinking that the solution was LEST, even though removing second (S) produced "half of outlet". I searched in vain for some way to make LEST mean "dared".

21ac Extremely upset it had been dashed to pieces (9)

Although I arrived at the correct solution, I never figured out the wordplay for this clue. Like Big Dave, I recognized that "Almost every word in this clue smacks of crossword construct". Unlike him, however, I never saw past that ruse.

14d Disease destroyed loving (12)

Another correct solution with no idea of the wordplay - having never before encountered the word "affection" as a disease (other than in the case of the proverbial lovesick teenager).

17d Service chief? (4,6)

I wrongly opted for HEAD MASTER although this left me very perplexed regarding the wordplay. However, it seems I was in good company - eh, Peter!

Signing off for today - Falcon

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Thursday, July 2, 2009 (DT 25863)

This puzzle was originally published Friday, February 27, 2009 in The Daily Telegraph

Introduction

The National Post, which did not publish on Canada Day, has skipped the puzzle that otherwise would have appeared yesterday.

I found today's puzzle to be moderately difficult. I would have been finished in much less time if I hadn't got distracted into a review of my first year university physics studies. I was able to solve all the clues but the wordplay on two or three clues eluded me - at least in part (although some of this is attributable to carelessness on my part).

A Note on the National Post Summer Publication Schedule

I recently received a query (forwarded to me by Big Dave) from a Canadian reader who was confused at not finding the solution to last Friday's puzzle in Tuesday's National Post. In case there are others with similar questions, here is the situation as I understand it (by the way, please note that neither I nor this blog have any direct association with the National Post).

The National Post has informed its readers that it will not publish a printed edition on Monday commencing with the June 29th edition and continuing through the Labour Day weekend (September 7). However, the Post does still publish a digital edition of the Monday paper that is available online at http://digital.nationalpost.com/epaper/viewer.aspx. Those who subscribe to the print edition have free access to the digital edition. In addition, there is a 21-day free trial available to anyone who is not a subscriber to the print edition.

This week, the Monday Cryptic Crossword and the solution to the Friday puzzle were published in both the Saturday and the Monday editions of the National Post. In the Saturday edition (both the digital edition and the print edition distributed in Ottawa), they appeared on page S8 (back of the Sports Section). This was in addition to the Saturday Cox and Rathvon Cryptic Crossword which appeared on page WP18 in the digital edition and on page WP14 in the Ottawa print edition. Note that the page numbering often varies among the various regional editions of the National Post - I believe that the digital edition is most likely the Toronto regional edition. The Monday puzzle and the solution to the Friday puzzle also appeared in the Monday digital edition on page AL3.

The syndicated Daily Telegraph Cryptic Crossword puzzles appear in the National Post approximately four months after they are published in the UK. I say approximately four months because the Daily Telegraph publishes six puzzles per week while the National Post publishes only five puzzles per week. Therefore, the interval between publication dates lengthens over time. Every so often, the Post skips ahead several puzzles to get itself back in sync.

Today's Glossary

Some possibly unfamiliar abbreviations, people, places, words and expressions used in today's puzzle

disco - a party with dancing to recorded music (noun defn. 2)

heeltap - a small quantity of alcohol or liquor left in a glass after drinking (noun, defn. 2)

maiden (over) - cricket an over (a division of play) from which no runs are scored

The Potteries Urban Area - a conurbation in the West Midlands region of England

racialism - Chiefly Brit. racism

splash - informal a prominent news feature or story (noun, defn. 5)

Today's Links

I found only a single question on AnswerBank discussing today's puzzle. It (together with the clue to which it relates) is:

AnswerBank [DT 25863]-a: 14d

Big Dave's review of today's puzzle may be found at Big Dave's Telegraph Crossword Blog [DT 25863].

Commentary on Today's Puzzle

10ac Air is calm - this old-fashioned prejudice has been destroyed (9)

I struggled mightily with this clue - and I felt somewhat relieved when I saw that the Brits were also perplexed by it. I was disappointed, though, that after Gazza raised the point on Big Dave's blog, it seems to have been left hanging. I have done my best to find an explanation and would certainly be most interested to see what others think.

It is clear that the solution is an anagram of AIR IS CALM. But what is the anagram indicator? As Big Dave's blog asks - is it "fashioned" or "has been destroyed" or is it perhaps "old-fashioned"; or, as Big Dave suggests is the case in 3d, are there multiple anagram indicators?

In North America, I would expect to see the term "racism" rather than RACIALISM. Some sources that I consulted indicated that "racialism" is primarily a British usage. When I examined this clue, I supposed that "old-fashioned prejudice" might possibly have been used by the setter to indicate that "racialism" is an archaic term (that supposedly has been supplanted in general usage by the word "racism").

Should the above presumption happen to be correct, then the anagram indicator must be "has been destroyed". But what is this anagram indicator acting on? Let's consider two cases:

Case 1: The anagram indicator is acting on AIR IS CALM. If so, as Gazza says on Big Dave's Blog, "it’s too far away from the source of the anagram".

Case 2: The anagram indicator is acting on RACIALISM (which has been substituted for "this old-fashioned prejudice"). That is, if you perform the anagram operation on the solution (i.e., destroy RACIALISM), you get AIR IS CALM.

For this to be the case, the only explanation that I see might be plausible is if we consider this to be a cryptic definition (as opposed to a regular type of cryptic clue). The solution is then given by the phrase "this old-fashioned prejudice" which occurs in the middle of the clue (and I am assuming that this may be permissible in a cryptic definition). The clue is structured in the form of a pseudo-definition where "Air is calm" is described as being the result of "destroying (anagram indicator) RACIALISM".

In some regards, this seems a little bit like 7d, where the solution (CARBON CAPTURE) describes a process that when executed on (or by) one part of the clue (i.e., RAY) produces another part of the clue (i.e., RACY). However, in 10ac, it seems we have almost the reverse situation, where one part of the clue (i.e., "has been destroyed") operates on the solution (i.e., RACIALISM) to produce another part of the clue (i.e., "air is calm").

I know this explanation may well prove to be far fetched. However, I toss it out as a strawman to hopefully elicit feedback.

11ac Belief giving trouble to Oxbridge graduate? (5)

As much as I hate to admit it, despite having found the correct solution, I missed the wordplay involving "trouble". You might say that I was dogged, once again, by my proclivity to look for complicated solutions where I should be seeking simple ones.

17ac The man coming in about work in a despicable manner (7)

Again, despite having obtained the correct solution, a bit of laxness on my part resulted in a misunderstanding of the wordplay - and created a time-consuming digression into the basic principles of mechanics.

My experience with this clue may be a good object lesson of what can happen when one isn't careful. Early on, I had surmised that the solution probably ended in LY which I penciled in. Returning to the clue later on, I got it into my head that the rest of the solution might be CHEAP which I saw as CHAP (man) about E. However, I carelessly failed to think about how the two pieces (CHEAP and LY) fit together to form the overall solution. The only explanation that I could come up with for the E was that the setter must have been assuming that work means energy and the abbreviation for energy is E. A bit of investigation confirmed my recollection from first year physics that while work may equal energy under certain specific conditions, it is not generally true (sort of like the statement, "In Britain (or Canada), people walk around naked."). After all this, I discovered from Big Dave that I was totally out in left field on the wordplay. Hopefully, lesson learned!

18ac Beast tucking into food somewhere in the Midlands (9)

This containship-type clue cleverly misleads the reader into thinking that "tucking in" is being used in the sense of "eating". However, it is really used in the sense of "tucking into bed", which completely reverses the container-contents relationship.

1d Party maiden favouring brief time for tenderness? (10)

I included "Disco" in Today's Glossary as this meaning ("party") is one with which I am personally unfamiliar. Perhaps this is more of a British usage or maybe I am just in the wrong generation. I think of it as meaning either a discotheque or a genre of music.

3d Various treats scattered around home - this one a present? (5,3)

There is some question on Big Dave's blog about the anagram indicator in this clue - is it various or scattered or both? My first reaction was that the word "various" seemed to be superfluous.

7d Sort of environmental activity that makes Ray racy! (6,7)

Another instance where I got the correct solution without understanding the wordplay. This is a clue that I find somewhat difficult to clearly categorize, but I lean toward calling it a cryptic definition. In this clue, "sort of environmental activity" is CARBON CAPTURE (while seemingly an unfamiliar term to the Brits, this has been a hot topic lately in both the U.S. and Canada). The chemical symbol for carbon is C so the clue suggests that "carbon capture makes ray racy" or, in other words, "ray" capturing "c" makes "racy".

Survey Terminated

For the last little while I have been running a survey of readers to gauge reaction to my decision to stop providing a full solution to the DT puzzles on this blog. My rationale for this decision was that the review provided on Big Dave's Telegraph Crossword Blog would likely satisfy the needs of most - if not all - readers. Not only did the survey elicit no response, but starting with today's puzzle, Big Dave has begun providing a full solution to the puzzle on his site. This is over and above the hints and partial explanations which has been his practice up to now. This clearly obviates any reason for me to provide a solution here. I am therefore terminating the survey.

This sort of situation arises since I try not to read ahead on Big Dave's blog, preferring to read the blog as the puzzles are published here. I am sure it may sometimes seem a bit bizarre to the folks in the UK, as I make reference to circumstances that are four months in the past from their perspective. It is rather like my wife's addiction to Coronation Street - where the episodes are broadcast in Canada months (if not a whole season) behind the UK.

I offer kudos to Big Dave and his colleagues for an excellent and ever improving website.

Signing off for today - Falcon

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Wednesday, July 1, 2009 - Happy Canada Day


Today being Canada Day, the National Post did not publish. Enjoy the holiday.

Signing off for today - Falcon