Monday, April 19, 2010

Monday, April 19, 2010 (DT 26123)

This puzzle, almost certainly set by Shamus, was originally published Tuesday, December 29, 2009 in The Daily Telegraph


Big Dave seems to have found this puzzle to be easier to solve than I did. However, I did struggle for a long time with a number of terms - such as 3d (a cricket term) and 14d. I note with some satisfaction that not all the Brits had an easy time with it.

Today's Glossary

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

A1 - the longest number road in the United Kingdom, connecting London, England with Edinburgh, Scotland

red-top - (likely Brit.) a tabloid newspaper characterized by sensationalism (from the colour of the masthead on these publications)

sight screen - noun Cricket a large white screen placed near the boundary in line with the wicket to help the batsman see the ball

tyre - British spelling of tire (automobile component)

U2 - adjective Brit colloq said especially of language: typical of or acceptable to the upper classes [thus, by extension, posh]

Today's Links

Big Dave's review of today's puzzle may be found at Big Dave's Crossword Blog [DT 26123].

I am quite sure that this puzzle can be attributed to Shamus. NathanJ says "I greatly enjoyed this puzzle and agree with you that it looks like a Shamus one" (although I cannot find any evidence that Big Dave actually states that it is by Shamus). However, Shamus does leave a comment on Big Dave's blog - a pretty solid confirmation of his authorship.

Commentary on Today's Puzzle

9a Poor area losing hospital getting good number for meeting (3-8)

I must say that I initially failed to detect the old cryptic crossword chestnut sitting in this clue - only noticing it as I reverse engineered the wordplay after having found the solution. Here, "number" is not a numerical value but, rather, something that numbs (an old anesthetic, to be precise).

I had wondered if the Brits would take issue with the word "getting" appearing in the clue when the sequence "get" appears twice in the solution. However, this does not seem to have ruffled any British feathers.

20a Retired Irish singer in part of Venice (6)

I incorrectly assumed that R must be an abbreviation for "retired" (no doubt, one to be found in an unabridged version of Chambers) and I the abbreviation for "Irish". But no, it seems that the abbreviation for Irish is IR and that this is reversed (retired) to get RI. It had escaped my mind that, in cryptic crosswordland, retired means reversed. Since I am retired, does that mean that I am reversed? I would certainly like to believe that I am getting younger every day!

27a Minute prosaic comic faltered without sign of appreciation (11)

Here, "sign of appreciation" indicates the first letter of the word "appreciation" which is similar to the use in 16a of "hints of ..." to signify the first letters of the words which follow. Big Dave ponders "I’m not too sure about this one, do you think it works?". I guess, if hints works, why wouldn't sign?

29a Part of car, exhaust by the sound of it (4)

In North America, since both words are spelled t-i-r-e, the homophone clue loses most of its relevance. In fact, on this side of the Atlantic, we could almost say "Part of car, exhaust by the look of it". Of course, not only would that be a rather odd-sounding clue, but the checking letters require that the solution adopt the British spelling.

14d Tabloid reported in a mess, about to disappear (3-3)

I spent a very long time tracking down the solution for this clue, which I suspect is a British term as I only managed to find it in Collins. Having expended so much energy in the search, it seems that I must have had nothing left with which to decipher the wordplay. In any event, I discovered as I read Big Dave's review that I had forgotten to revisit this clue, as I had originally intended, to analyse the wordplay.

23d Whole property having domestic fixture by yard (5)

I am afraid that my analysis of this clue was somewhat nebulous. I eventually concluded that the definition is "whole property" with the solution being UNITY (the state of being united or forming a whole). The wordplay then would signify a charade of UNIT (domestic fixture) + (by) Y (yard), with the word "having" serving as a linkword between the definition and wordplay.

I was a bit uncertain whether the word "property" belonged in the definition or in the wordplay. That is, I was considering an alternative interpretation which would have had the definition of UNITY being just the word "whole" with UNIT being denoted by "property having domestic fixture".

I suspect from Big Dave's review, which implies that "domestic fixture" = "kitchen UNIT" that the word "unit" may have a usage in Britain in this context that is - if not different - at least one that is less generic and perhaps more commonly used than it is here. I note that Oxford gives, as one definition of unit, "a device, part, or item of furniture with a specified function: a sink unit" which could be a "domestic fixture".

Signing off for today - Falcon

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