Thursday, April 8, 2010

Thursday, April 8, 2010 (DT 26114)

This puzzle, set by Jay, was originally published Thursday, December 17, 2009 in The Daily Telegraph


I would say that today's puzzle was about average in terms of difficulty - definitely a bit more challenging than yesterday's effort. There were a few British terms in today's puzzle but probably none that would not be known to regular solvers of the Daily Telegraph puzzles. For the benefit of newcomers to the blog, I try to include British expressions in the Today's Glossary section of the blog even though they may be well known or have appeared frequently before. However, after seeing the same expressions over and over, even I sometimes start to forget that they are Briticisms.

Today's Glossary

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

four by two - noun 1. (chiefly British, Australian, New Zealand) a length of sawn wood, of cross section 4 inches by 2 inches, most often employed as structural framing lumber [Note: known in North America as a two by four]

loo - noun Brit. informal a toilet

mackintosh - (also macintosh, or mac for short) noun Brit. a full-length waterproof coat

Mini - an automobile brand, currently owned by BMW, but originally introduced as a model under the Austin and Morris marques by the British Motor Corporation (BMC)

nutter - noun Brit. informal a mad or eccentric person

pence - Brit plural of penny (used for sums of money)

The Times - a daily national newspaper published in the United Kingdom [and, presumably, a major competitor to The Daily Telegraph]

rugby union - (abbreviation RU) noun a form of rugby played in teams of fifteen, traditionally strictly amateur but opened to professionalism in 1995

Today's Links

Libellule's review of today's puzzle may be found at Big Dave's Crossword Blog [DT 26114].

Like Libellule, I initially entered an incorrect solution at 1a (I presume he probably made the same mistake as I did). As for 21a, I rather liked the clue - but perhaps that is because I happened to get it (if I had failed to solve the clue, I might have had quite a different point of view).

Libellule's mention, at 8a, to "Celeb in Private Eye" is almost certainly a reference to the comic strip Celeb which appears in the British satirical and current affairs magazine Private Eye.

Commentary on Today's Puzzle

1a One was bound to land to the sound of waves breaking (4)

I originally pencilled in TIED here (very lightly, I might add, as I had very little confidence in the correctness of this stab at a solution). The rationale for this choice was that tied could mean "bound" and also sounds like tide (which might be related to waves breaking). What troubled me most about this candidate solution was the seeming absence of any role for the words "to land" in the clue. However, unbeknownst to me, there is actually a meaning for the word tied (readily seen by the Brits) that could be applicable in this context. Tied is a British term that can mean "adjective 1 Brit. (of accommodation) occupied subject to the tenant’s working for its owner". Eventually the checking letters provided by the intersecting clues eliminated this hopeful from contention.

8a Frills made from pieces of four by two (4-4)

The definition is "frills" and the solution is FROU-FROU. The wordplay is an anagram (made from pieces of; i.e., constructed from the letters of) FOURFOUR (four by two; i.e., the word "four" repeated).

I would infer that the British may say either two-by-four or four-by-two (with or without hyphens) when referring to this piece of dimensional lumber (although they certainly would not call it lumber - which is a North American term when used in this sense). As the online versions of both Oxford and Chambers have a listing for two-by-four, but neither contains a listing for four-by-two, the former usage may even be more prevalent in Britain. Four-by-two may be the preferred usage in Australia and New Zealand, whereas in North America it is definitely two-by-four. Two-by-four or four-by-two - I'll take six of one and half a dozen of the other.

For some reason, this reminds me of the story of the man watching a carpenter laying a floor. As the workman pulled nails from the pouch of his carpenter's apron, he pounded about half of them into the floor and discarded the remainder. When the observer asked him why he threw away so many nails, the dim-witted chap replied that he did it because the point was on the wrong end.

14a Dish bound to be rejected with clam inside (6)

The definition is "dish" and the solution is PAELLA. The wordplay is PAEL {reversal (to be rejected) of LEAP (bound)} + (with) LA {the interior letters (inside) of the word "clam"}.

21a Reversible cam? (8)

It sounds like some exotic component of an automobile engine. However, in this clue, "reversible cam" signifies "mac" - a name by which the Brits would refer to a raincoat.

22a Unprotected skin in long finger (6)

After a bit of contemplation, I suspected that I was on to the type of device being employed in the wordplay here. However, I had to make a choice between the outer letters (skin) of the word "unprotected" and the interior letters (unprotected, i.e., with the outer letters - or skin - removed) of the word "skin".

23a Sign in garage vacated by car (6)

The definition is "sign" (i.e., sign of the zodiac) with the solution being GEMINI. The wordplay relies on the inverse of the device used in the previous clue. We need the outer letters of "garage", or GE, as signalled by "garage vacated" ("garage" with the interior "vacated", or - in other words, the inner letters deleted) followed by MINI (car).

I have to admit that I am more than a bit embarrassed at having missed the wordplay in this clue - especially after having noted that there were quite a number of this type of clue present in today's puzzle. Before seeing Libellule's review, I had mistakenly supposed that G came from "garage" and E from empty ("vacated").

26a Appear ominously close to depression - not good (4)

When trying to analyze a cryptic clue, it is always wise to keep in mind a Plan B. My first thought was that the definition must be "appear" and that the wordplay would be a word meaning "ominously" followed by N (close to depression; i.e., the last letter in the word "depression") with G deleted (not good). I eventually had to toss this idea out in favour of the definition being "appear ominously" or LOOM based on the wordplay GLOOM (close to depression) with the G deleted (not good).

15d Teacher promoting a mother's capital (9)

The definition is "capital", in this case AMSTERDAM, the capital of the Netherlands. The wordplay is MASTER (a rather antiquated term for a school teacher - at least in North America) with "promoting A" signalling that the A is to be moved to the front (or, top, given that this is a down clue) to give AMSTER followed by DAM (a mother).

Signing off for today - Falcon

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