Saturday, August 27, 2016

Saturday, August 27, 2016 — Nomads of the Diamond


As several readers have commented, today's puzzle from Cox & Rathvon sits toward the lower end of the difficulty range.

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   Some witches test the limits of // English city (8)

COVEN|TRY — COVEN (some witches) + TRY (test the limits of; as in try one's patience)

Coventry[5] is an industrial city in the west Midlands of England; population 271,100 (est. 2009).

5a   Quarterback // tossed spears (6)

PASSER* — anagram (tossed) of SPEARS

9a   Radical // new exit terms (9)

EXTREMIST* — anagram (new) of EXIT TERMS

11a   Study split // African river (5)

CON|GO — CON (study) + GO (split; depart)

Con[5] is an archaic term meaning to study attentively or learn by heart (a piece of writing)  ⇒ the girls conned their pages with a great show of industry.

12a   Sell // part of a bicycle to an auditor (6)

PEDDLE~ — sounds like (to an auditor) PEDAL (part of a bicycle)

13a   Reduce // legal document (8)

CONTRACT — double definition

15a   Most colourless // neckwear in old times (8)

PAS(TIES)T — TIES (neckwear) contained in (in) PAST (old times)

16a   Speaker’s hurting // fly (4)

SOAR~ — sounds like (speaker's) SORE (hurting)

19a   Folk history // left valuable resource (4)

L|ORE — L (left) + ORE (valuable resource)

20a   Family ruler // making noises with chains (8)

CLAN|KING — CLAN (family) + KING (ruler)

23a   Weapon inside man’s // clothing articles (8)

G(ARM)ENTS — ARM (weapon) contained in (inside) GENTS (MANS)

24a   Fellow’s eating 1000 // heroes (6)

CHA(M)PS — CHAP (fellow) containing (eating) M ([Roman numeral for one] thousand)

27a   Summer // snake (5)

ADDER — double definition; the first being someone or something that calculates a sum

In electronics, adder[5] is a term for a unit which adds together two input variables.

The adder[5] (also called viper) is a small venomous Eurasian snake (Vipera berus) which has a dark zigzag pattern on its back and bears live young. It is the only poisonous snake in Britain.

28a   Jogger taking a rest (9)

REM(A)INDER — REMINDER ([memory] jogger) containing A (†)

29a   Very small // adolescent’s slingshot, e. g. (6)

TEEN|S|Y — TEEN (adolescent) + S ('s) + Y ([letter that looks like a] slingshot)

30a   A constant critic runs into // disordered collections of letters (8)

A|NAG|RAMS — A (†) + NAG (constant critic) + RAMS (runs into)


1d   Some birdsong: // a form of speech? (6)

CHEEPS* — anagram of (a form of) SPEECH

2d   In Kosovo, tediously // cast a ballot (5)

_VO|TED_ — hidden in (in) KosoVO TEDiously

Scratching the Surface
Kosovo[5] is an autonomous area in the Balkans, formerly a part of Yugoslavia; population 1,804,800 (est. 2009); capital, Priština. It borders on Albania and the majority of the people are of Albanian descent. In 1998 Kosovo was attacked by Serbian forces intent on expelling the Albanian population; the aggression was halted by NATO bombing in 1999, and Kosovo was put under UN administration. In 2008 it declared itself independent.

3d   Gratuitous // taunts by head of state (8)

NEEDLES|S — NEEDLES (taunts) + (by) S (head [initial letter] of State)

4d   Coach, after the first // game stopper (4)

_RAIN — [T]RAIN (coach; teach) with the initial letter removed (after the first)

6d   A Highlander’s // neckwear (6)

A|SCOT|S — A (†) + SCOT (Highlander) + S ('S)

An ascot[5,10] (also ascot tie) is a man’s broad silk necktie in the form of a scarf with square ends, usually secured with an ornamental stud. The name derives from the place name Ascot [the location of one of England's major horse racing courses], by association with formal dress at race meetings held there.

7d   Join a chorus // wrong, with girl playing “G” (4,5)

SIN|G AL|ON|G — SIN (wrong) + (with) GAL (girl) + ON (playing; What's on tonight at the movie theatre?) + G (†)

8d   Birds/’/ roster— so disorganized (8)

ROOSTERS — anagram (disorganized) of ROSTER SO

10d   Grand // castle material behind you (8)

THOU|SAND — SAND (castle material; one built on a beach) following (behind) THOU (you; to a Quaker)

14d   Offender // upset rival, too (8)

VIOLATOR* — anagram (upset) of RIVAL TOO

15d   Bird/’s/ constituent crest (9)

PART|RIDGE — PART (constituent) + RIDGE (crest; of a hill)

17d   Outrageous // diatribe about a banner? (8)

FLAG|RANT — a "diatribe about [concerning] a banner" might otherwise be referred to as a "FLAG (banner) RANT (diatribe)"

18d   Correcting // prose or poetry read aloud (8)

RIGHTING~ — sounds like (read aloud) WRITING (prose or poetry)

21d   Bruins keeping down // hairy features (6)

BEAR(D)S — BEARS (bruins) containing (keeping) D (down; abbrev. found in crossword puzzles)

22d   Roasts errant // members of a National League team (6)

ASTROS* — anagram (errant) of ROASTS

Has this puzzle spent several years on the shelf ? The Astros are currently in their fourth season in the American League!

Then again, the word errant[5] does mean not in the right place!

The Houston Astros[7] are an American professional baseball team located in Houston, Texas. The Astros are members of the American League (AL) West division in Major League Baseball (MLB), having moved to the division in 2013 after spending their first 51 seasons in the National League (NL).

25d   Press, TV, and radio // help Emily in return (5)

{ME|DIA}< — reversal (in return) of {AID (help) + EM ([diminutive of] Emily)}

26d   Sign: // “No Males” (4)

O|MEN — O (no; letter that looks like a zero) + MEN (males)


The title of today's review is inspired by the error at 22d.
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. Downloaded this from NP using Pressreader earlier this a.m. to get an early start. Nice straightforward puzzle. No problems today.

  2. Good day all!

    Enjoyed the puzzle today albeit there were a few clues I had seen recently. Enjoyed 17D and 26D. Not sure I understand how study and con are related - I await Falcon's counsel.


  3. Good beautiful Saturday to all! Thanks Falcon for getting up early to post the puzzle for us avid cryptologists. MG - one of the (many) definitions for con is: to learn; study; peruse or examine carefully (quoted from Not often used in everyday English, to be sure.
    Well today's puzzle, as Carl noted, was straightforward, the bottom half took a bit longer than the top. Last one in was 23a it was difficult figuring out how to parse it properly.
    See you all next week!

    1. Thanks for the info Henry!

  4. Hello Falcon and all,
    I had to work at this one a bit, especially the charade clues in the lower tier. Thanks, Henry, for the "con" 19a :)

  5. A fun puzzle. Had to think a bit differently, which is always a good thing.

  6. Hi Falcon,
    The solution to 2D has 5 letters - you have only shown 4 :(


    1. Thanks for picking that up -- now fixed. Glad to see that my star proofreader is still keeping a sharp eye on my work.