This puzzle was originally published Monday, September 14, 2009 in The Daily Telegraph
The National Post has skipped DT 26032 published Saturday, September 12, 2009 in The Daily Telegraph
Today's puzzle was not overly difficult and contained a number of clues with very nice surface readings. However, I struggled a bit to understand the wordplay for 21a.
Some possibly unfamiliar abbreviations, people, places, words and expressions used in today's puzzle
cover (in full, cover point) - noun, cricket the fielding position forward and to the right of the batsman
Dame Edith Sitwell - British poet
bran tub - noun Brit. a lucky dip in which items are buried in bran
Big Dave's review of today's puzzle may be found at Big Dave's Telegraph Crossword Blog [DT 26033].
Commentary on Today's Puzzle
11a Are all his shots singles through cover? (6)
Of course, the allusion to cricket in the surface reading totally escaped me until it was pointed out in Big Dave's review. As nearly as I can make out, a cover (point) is a fielding position on a cricket pitch. So, when a batter drives through cover (as in this photo) (or, in the wording of the clue, makes shots through cover), he hits the ball through this area of the field. The expression would seem to be somewhat analogous to a drive to right (field) in baseball (i.e., a line drive hit between first and second base into the outfield).
15a They have no choice, poor chaps (7)
The "poor chaps" are BEGGARS, and the wordplay indicates that they face a Hobson's choice, "a choice of taking what is offered or nothing at all".
I thought that beggars choice might be an alternative version of Hobson's choice. While I did manage to find several books having the title Beggar's Choice, I did not find the expression listed in any reference source. However, as Big Dave points out, the allusion would actually seem to be to the old adage "beggar's can't be choosers".
21 They have titles within their grasp (7)
It is sometimes difficult to precisely pigeon-hole some clues as they may exhibit characteristics of different types of clue. I did struggle a bit to categorize this clue, especially after seeing Big Dave classify it as a double definition. After considerable thought, I think that I would be more inclined to call it a cryptic definition. I presume Big Dave is basing his statement on the fact that "they have titles" is clearly a definition for HOLDERS and "they who grasp" would also be holders. However, this second definition does not appear explicitly in the clue, and the wording that is present, viz. "within their grasp" is hardly, in my view, a definition for HOLDERS.
I guess one could view this clue either as a double definition with one of the definitions being implicit or cryptic, or (as I prefer to do) as a cryptic definition with a straight definition imbedded in it. In the end, it may all just be a glass half-full or glass half-empty situation.
Wishing everyone the Happiest of New Years - Falcon
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