Saturday, December 12, 2015

Saturday, December 12, 2015 — Play Ball!


My experience with today's puzzle from Cox & Rathvon closely mirrors that which Peter describes in his comment below. It was difficult to get started but once I had established a toe-hold, things began to fall into place. There were, however, a couple of clues for which the parsing is rather subtle. Had I not had to explain them in writing, I might well have overlooked the correct interpretation.

I invite you to leave a comment to let us know how you fared with the puzzle.

Solution to Today's Puzzle

Falcon's Experience
- solved without assistance
- incorrect prior to use of puzzle solving tools
- solved with assistance from puzzle solving tools
- solved with aid of checking letters provided by puzzle solving tools
- solved but without fully parsing the clue
- yet to be solved

Legend: "*" anagram; "~" sounds like; "<" letters reversed

"( )" letters inserted; "_" letters deleted; "†" explicit in the clue

Primary indications (definitions) are marked with a solid underline in the clue; subsidiary indications (be they wordplay or other) are marked with a dashed underline in all-in-one (& lit.) clues, semi-all-in-one (semi-& lit.) clues and cryptic definitions. Explicit link words and phrases are enclosed in forward slashes (/link/) and implicit links are shown as double forward slashes (//).


1a   Holder of dinnerware // sounded weary, yawning audibly (9)

{SIDE|BOARD}~ — sounds like (audibly) {SIGHED (sounded weary) + BORED (yawning)}

It took a bit of thought to sort out the wordplay correctly. I initially thought that the clue might be a double homophone (with the second homophone indicator being "sounded"). However, as soon as I set about to explain that approach, it quickly became obvious that it would not work.

6a   Edge up from behind // student (5)

{PU|PIL}< — reversal (from behind) of {LIP (edge) + UP (†)}

9a   Pulverized after the first // bar order (5)

_ROUND — [G]ROUND (pulverized) with the initial letter removed (after the first; the portion of the word that comes "after the first" letter)

10a   Gold fish found in silent // tomb (9)

M(AU|SOLE)UM — {AU ([symbol for the chemical element] gold) + SOLE (fish)) contained in (found in) MUM (silent)

11a   Actress // playing Lois Lane, darning (7,8)

{GILLIAN ANDERSON}* — anagram (playing) of LOIS LANE DARNING

Gillian Anderson[7] is an American-English film, television and theatre actress, activist and writer. She is probably best known for her portrayal of FBI Special Agent Dana Scully in the long-running and widely popular series The X-Files.

Scratching the Surface
Lois Lane[7] is a fictional character appearing in American comic books published by DC Comics. Created by writer Jerry Siegel and artist Joe Shuster, the character first appeared in Action Comics #1 (June 1938). Lois is an award-winning journalist and the primary love interest of Superman. For fifteen years in DC Comics continuity, she was also his wife. Like Superman's alter ego Clark Kent, she is a reporter for the Metropolis newspaper, the Daily Planet.

12a   Tune turned on quirk // of knowledge (7)

GNOS<|TIC — reversal (turned) of SONG (tune) + (on) TIC (quirk)

Gnostic[5] is an adjective meaning relating to knowledge, especially esoteric mystical knowledge.

13a   Caught // young lady with British dictionary (7)

LASS|OED — LASS (young lady; in particular, one from Scotland or Northern England) + (with) OED (British dictionary; abbreviation for Oxford English Dictionary[5])

15a   Bee sitting next to a grandmother's // fruit (7)

B|A|NANA|S — B (bee) + (sitting next to) A (†) + NANA (grandmother) + S ('s)

17a   Worries about a fleet's first // vessels (7)

CAR(A|F)ES — CARES (worries) containing (about) {A (†) + F (fleet's first; initial (first) letter of Fleet}

18a   Star of the screen // misrepresented abroad in a sonnet (7,8)

{ANTONIO BANDERAS}* — anagram (misrepresented) of ABROAD IN A SONNET

Antonio Banderas[7] is a Spanish actor, director, and producer.

21a   Romantic complications /and/ mix-ups involving "Red" and myself (9)

T(R|I)ANGLES — TANGLES (mix-ups) containing (involving) {R (red; abbrev.) + (and) I (myself)}

22a   One-on-one affair's beginning /in/ a region of Greece (5)

I|ON|I|A — I ([Roman numeral for] one) + ON (†) + I ([Roman numeral for] one) + A (affair's beginning; initial letter (beginning) of Affair)

In classical times, Ionia[5] was the central part of the west coast of Asia Minor, which had long been inhabited by Hellenic people (the Ionians) and was again colonized by Greeks from the mainland from about the 8th century BC.

23a   Spoken confirmation, for example // "yes" (5)

RIGHT~ — sounds like (spoken) RITE (confirmation, for example; confirmation is but one example of a rite)

In the Christian Church, confirmation[5] is the rite at which a baptized person, especially one baptized as an infant, affirms Christian belief and is admitted as a full member of the Church ⇒ the kind of joy mixed with tears one finds at weddings and confirmations.

This is another clue that required some careful examination to parse correctly. My first thought was that it was a double definition but if that were the case, the two definitions would not only be similar, they would be identical — a definite "no-no". That sent me back to the drawing board in search of a different explanation.

24a   Diana's silver instrument // clashed (9)

DI|S|AG|REED — DI ([diminutive for] Diana) + S ('s) + AG ([symbol for the chemical element] silver) + REED ([musical] instrument)


1d   Rush off with grand // show of indifference (5)

SHRU*|G — anagram (off) of RUSH + (with) G (grand; abbrev., $1000)

2d   Honouring old bet, changed // brash wager (6,2,7)

{DOUBLE OR NOTHING}* — anagram (changed) of HONOURING OLD BET

3d   Candy, on following poor // sport (9)

BAD|MINT|ON — {MINT (candy) + ON (†)} following (†) BAD (poor)

4d   American League guy (a catcher) /in/ record book (7)

AL|MAN|A|C — AL (American League; abbrev., one of the two leagues comprising Major League Baseball[7]) + MAN (guy) + A (†) + C (catcher; abbrev., a fielding position in baseball)

5d   Laid back when consuming large container of coffee // daily (7)

DI(URN)AL< — reversal (back) of LAID containing (when consuming) URN (large container of coffee)

6d   Public relations individual /is/ lying (5)

PR|ONE — PR (public relations; abbrev.) + ONE (individual)

7d   Shortstop against getting involved in choice // media event (5,10)

PRE(SS| CON)FERENCE — {SS (shortstop; abbrev., fielding position in baseball) + CON (against)} contained in (getting involved in) PREFERENCE (choice)

8d   Old seamen mixed // drinks (9)

LEMONADES* — anagram (mixed) of OLD SEAMEN

12d   Girl at bar remixed // great rock (9)

GIBRALTER* — anagram (remixed) of GIRL AT BAR

Gibraltar[5] is a British overseas territory near the southern tip of the Iberian peninsula, at the eastern end of the Strait of Gibraltar; population 28,800 (est. 2009); languages, English (official), Spanish. Occupying a site of great strategic importance, Gibraltar consists of a fortified town and military base at the foot of a rocky headland, the Rock of Gibraltar. Britain captured it during the War of the Spanish Succession in 1704 and is responsible for its defence, external affairs, and internal security.

14d   Quiet soul singer/'s/ on a tear? (9)

SH|REDDING — SH ([admonition to be] quiet) + REDDING (soul singer; American singer-songwriter Otis Redding[7])

16d   Aboard coasting vehicle, farm animal // had an unhappy expression (7)

S(COW)LED — COW (farm animal) contained in (aboard) SLED (coasting vehicle)

17d   Body // concealed by research assistants (7)

_CH|ASSIS_ — hidden in (concealed by) researCH ASSIStants

19d   Band of nine // running into snare (5)

N(ON)ET — ON (running; functioning) contained in (into) NET (snare)

20d   Grassland // attractions from the East (5)

SWARD< — reversal (from the East; running right to left) of DRAWS (attractions)

Since this is a down clue, in my opinion it should have read:
  • Grassland // attractions from the South (5)
where "from the South" indicates running bottom to top.

I note that Peter has express the same opinion in a comment left earlier.


The title of today's review is inspired by 4d and 7d.
Key to Reference Sources: 

[1]   - The Chambers Dictionary, 11th Edition
[2]   - Search Chambers - (Chambers 21st Century Dictionary)
[3]   - (American Heritage Dictionary)
[4]   - (Collins English Dictionary)
[5]   - Oxford Dictionaries (Oxford Dictionary of English)
[6]   - Oxford Dictionaries (Oxford American Dictionary)
[7]   - Wikipedia
[8]   - Reverso Online Dictionary (Collins French-English Dictionary)
[9]   - Infoplease (Random House Unabridged Dictionary)
[10] - (Collins English Dictionary)
[11] - (Random House Kernerman Webster's College Dictionary)
Signing off for today — Falcon


  1. Took a little while to get going on this one. Don't know why, because once underway it all went in fairly well. Took a while to parse 23a (which I over-hastily first answered as 'roger'). Took a while to see the hidden word in 17d. And I was a bit delayed with 20d because of (in my opinion) an error in the clue (should say 'south' instead of 'east'). All in all an enjoyable puzzle.

  2. Hi Falcon, Peter and everyone-
    Well, Peter and Falcon, can I just put here "what they said" as my comment? I had a very similar experience with the same clues. I had filled in most of the perimeter and was hacking away at the interior. And on 23a I followed the punctuation in the clue and missed parsing you provided, Falcon.

    For 20d, it does seem out of place to use "east" not "south", but as English words are written from left to right (regardless if they happen to be in a down clue) I think we will have to accept the expression "from the East" as shorthand for "reversal".

  3. Hello Falcon et al,
    I enjoyed today's puzzle with last one in being 14d. Laughed at that one. I did not quite parse the solution for 23a, mistakenly assuming that "write" was a form of confirmation.
    Cheers to all!

  4. Good fare - also fell facefirst into the 23a "roger" trap, which slowed the solving time to sort out. Favoured the 7d lego parsing - clever stuff. Learned a new word - 20D, so a special thanks to E&H for the education. 3.5/3 rating. Also thanks to Falcon for the solve!