Friday, March 26, 2010

Friday, March 26, 2010 (DT 26106)

This puzzle created by Ray T was originally published Tuesday, December 8, 2009 in The Daily Telegraph


Many of the clues today seemed to be especially well crafted with the smooth surface reading very effectively obscuring the underlying cryptic meaning. Sometimes the surface reading of clues is so awkward or improbable that the cryptic reading almost stands out like a sore thumb - but that is certainly not the case today. All in all, a very enjoyable puzzle - even though (or, perhaps, because) it took a while to finish it.

Today's Glossary

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

git - noun Brit. informal an unpleasant or contemptible person

mayflower - noun Brit the blossom of the hawthorn tree (and, perhaps, the tree itself)

prat - noun informal 1 Brit. an incompetent or stupid person 2 a person’s bottom

quarrel2 - a bolt (arrow) for a crossbow

John Redwood - British Conservative Party politician

shebeen - noun 1 an illicit liquor-shop 2 in Ireland: illicit and usually home-made alcohol

yob - noun Brit. informal a rude and loutish young man [ORIGIN from boy (spelt backwards)]

Today's Links

Gazza's review of today's puzzle may be found at Big Dave's Telegraph Crossword Blog [DT 26106].

There is a long discussion in today's comments on the relative merits of a quick solve versus a lengthy solve. I would say crosswords are like sex - not very satisfying it they're over too fast.

Commentary on Today's Puzzle

23a Soldier on exercise, about to get cut off (9)

The definition is "soldier on" with the solution being PERSEVERE. The wordplay is either (take your choice):

(1) PE|R(SEVER)E: PE (exercise; i.e., physical education) plus RE (about) containing (to get) SEVER (cut off)

(2) PE|RSEVERE*: PE (exercise; i.e., physical education) plus an anagram (off) of {RE (about) + (to get) SEVER (cut)}

I initially saw the anagram while solving the puzzle, but noticed the container possibility when I sat down to write the blog.

Sometimes words like "get" flag an anagram and sometimes they signal a charade. I suppose that in the real world this would be equivalent to the difference between placing an order at a bar (in which case, a glass gets [filled with] beer) and building an addition on one's house (in which case, the house gets a wing [added on]).

25a Egg plants? (7)

While I quickly realized the intent of the setter in creating this cryptic clue, I spent considerable effort looking for something like a hen or chicken before finally finding the correct egg producer.

26a Fancy one finding silver in lode (7)

In his review, Gazza comments "I had some difficulty equating mine with lode ...". However, I suspect that he may have, as was my first inclination, spent his time searching for unfamiliar definitions of lode rather than uncommon definitions of mine. The Free Online Dictionary defines mine as "A deposit of ore or minerals in the earth or on its surface" [American Heritage Dictionary, mine1 n. 2.] and "(Mining & Quarrying) any deposit of ore or minerals" [Collins English Dictionary, mine2 n 2.]. The definition of lode (a vein of metal ore in the earth), while definitely being quite a bit more restrictive in scope, would clearly fall within the range of this definition. That is, while every lode would be a mine (using this definition), not every mine (again using this definition) would necessarily be a lode.

3d Step on it?! (5)

Question marks and exclamation points are used by setters to indicate that the clue may be a bit off the wall, or as the Brits would say OTT (over the top). That is, it is one that requires more than a bit of lateral thinking - beyond that normally required in a cryptic clue. Here, we have both - so I surmised that this clue must be a real doozie.

As Gazza points out, a RISER is the vertical part of a stair step, on which the step (or tread) sits (thus the step is on the riser). A riser is also a platform (which may be tiered) on a theatre stage on which performers (such as a choir) might stand (thus they would need to step on the riser).

6d Reshaping formal yew shrub (9)

In Britain, the blossom of the hawthorn (and, apparently, the tree itself) is known as the mayflower while, in North America, the plant we know as the mayflower (see image at right) is the trailing arbutus (which is the floral emblem of both Nova Scotia and Massachusetts). However, perhaps the trans-Atlantic variance is not that cut and dried as the online edition of Oxford defines mayflower to be the trailing arbutus without mentioning the hawthorn.

8d Socialist deal, perhaps, for Conservative politician (7)

"Socialist" is RED and "deal" is usually "fir or pine wood (as a building material)" or the port in Kent. Thus, I figured that I might be looking for a British Tory named Redwood or Redport, and with a bit of sleuthing I nabbed him.

By the way, it seems that to the Brits, deal is what we would call lumber (dimensional timber used as a building material). To Brits, lumber means "disused articles of furniture that inconveniently take up space". Thus, if a North American were to say "I can't get my car in the garage because it is full of lumber", he would probably mean that he is in the midst of a renovation project and his garage is being used to store building materials. A Brit on the other hand might be indicating "I've recently refurnished my house and all the old furniture is sitting in my garage".

21d Haggard woman lived on moonshine (7)

Whenever you see "Haggard" in cryptic crossword puzzles, it is a fairly good bet that it is a reference to British writer H. Rider Haggard. However, when you visit the local library in Cryptville you are likely to find that the only example of his work in circulation is his novel She, first published in 1887.

Signing off for today - Falcon

1 comment:

  1. Swarthmore won't shine tonight.