Thursday, July 15, 2010

Thursday, July 15, 2010 (DT 26210)

This puzzle, by Giovanni, was originally published in The Daily Telegraph on Friday, April 9, 2010

Introduction

I solved today's puzzle while basking in the sun at the beach - and thus without access to my Tool Chest. I confess that I threw in the towel - several times, in fact. However, each time, after a cool dip in the lake, I picked up the puzzle again and one or two more pieces would fall into place. And, what do you know, I eventually completed this three star puzzle without aids.

There were some wonderful clues today giving rise to some eureka moments when (as the Brits like to say) the penny dropped. Among the best were 1a, 28a, 9d and especially 4d. The puzzle received virtually universal acclaim from the Brits (a rare event indeed) - with even the normally curmudgeonly Barrie chiming in with "What a superb puzzle ...".

Today's Glossary

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

Used in Clues:

maiden
- noun 4 cricket a maiden over; that is, an over from which no runs are scored, where an over is either (1) a series of six balls bowled by the same bowler from the same end of the pitch or (2) play during such a series of balls.

Used in Solutions:

locum - noun British short for locum tenens, a person who stands in temporarily for someone else of the same profession, especially a cleric or doctor.

Today's Links

Libellule's review of today's puzzle may be found at Big Dave's Crossword Blog [DT 26210].

Commentary on Today's Puzzle

1a Maiden maybe with nothing on? That keeps them thrilled (4,3,4)

This clue can be read in several ways. In one surface reading, we have a naked young woman exciting those observing her. In a second surface reading, we may have a cricket player thrilling the fans by bowling a maiden (an over producing no runs) in a scoreless game (with nothing on [the scoreboard]). Finally, there is the cryptic meaning, which is so well explained by Libellule. According to him, "over the moon" is a football (soccer) expression. If so, it would appear that our setter is mixing his sports.

I must confess that I saw only the first two readings described above (and being on a beach surrounded by the former may have drawn my focus to it). Although I did get the correct solution, I thought the clue might be a cryptic definition referring to mooning, i.e., baring ones buttocks in public. I was a bit uneasy about this reasoning as I thought that mooning really wasn't the same as having nothing on. I must say that I enjoyed this clue when I first saw it, but now that I have read Libellule's explanation, I appreciate it even more.

Nevertheless, I am disappointed that Libellule chose not to provide an illustration to accompany his commentary on this clue!

18a King possibly gets to confront quirky character (4,4)

I hesitated for the longest time to enter FACE CARD here as it is apparently a North American expression, with the British equivalent being court card. However, as this did not elicit a comment from Libellule or the other Brits, perhaps the term face card has now taken root in Britain.

24a Violent fanatic out of time, about to be given suspension (9)

Like Libellule, I struggled with the wordplay for this clue - and only saw it completely after reading his review. My problem was in not recognizing that mist could mean suspension (I was thinking of suspension only in terms of something hanging or of a penalty or interruption). However, I would offer a slightly modified version of his interpretation.
  • EX (out of) + T (time) + RE (about) + (to be given) MIST (suspension)
I think "to be given" is an explicit charade indicator - where, if X is given Y, then Y is added onto X.

7d Public school's grounds for optimism when England is threatened? (7,6)

The clue, whose solution is PLAYING FIELDS, is an allusion to the statement by the Duke of Wellington that "The battle of Waterloo was won on the playing fields of Eton".

I have to admit that I failed to see this, instead thinking that "playing Fields" might somehow refer to playing the records of Gracie Fields, an English actress, singer and comedienne who is noted for the time she devoted to entertaining troops during World War II. Having read through the comments at Big Dave's site, I discover that I am not alone in drawing this connection.

Signing off for today - Falcon

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