Saturday, May 30, 2009

Saturday, May 30, 2009 - The Reitman for this Job


This being Saturday, the puzzle is by Cox and Rathvon. Although no theme is ever stated for their puzzles, one is often implicitly evident from the clues. The theme today is Canadian filmmaker Ivan Reitman - with at least six clues referring to his movies or the actors who appeared in them.

By the way, is the name of his well-known film Ghost Busters or Ghostbusters? For what it is worth, the Internet Movie Database ( lists it as Ghost Busters - aka Ghostbusters (UK) (USA).

Link to Today's Puzzle

You may download a .pdf version of today's puzzle from here.

Who Ya Gonna Call? Cluebusters!

Today was a fairly typical Cox and Rathvon creation - pretty straightforward for the most part. There was, however, one curve ball that is certainly worthy of discussion.

2d Hollywood actress split scrap in recession (7)

I struggled with this clue for a very long time with three Hollywood actresses vying for my vote - Ava Gardner, Jennifer Garner and Teri Garr. Coincidentally, two of them have somewhat tenuous links to Ivan Reitman. Teri Garr, although not a member of the film cast, made a cameo appearance in a Ghostbusters music video while Jennifer Garner appeared in Juno which was directed by Ivan's son, Jason Reitman. But all that seems to be a red herring.

After heavy deliberation, I have concluded that this might be a cryptic definition (i.e., irregular clue) - rather than a regular cryptic clue. I say this because, if my reasoning is correct, the rationale would seem to be far too convoluted for a regular clue.

According to my hypothesis, both "Hollywood actress" and the indicator split would appear to be doing double duty. I believe "Hollywood actress split" (first function performed by split) may be a clue that we are looking for two Hollywood actresses. The first is Ava GARDNER which is the solution. The second is Teri GARR who is split [GAR^R] (second function performed by split). This container [GAR^R] has as its contents {scrap [END] in recession (receding; i.e., reversed)} or [DNE] giving the solution [GAR(DNE)R].

If this were a regular clue, I would expect a couple of additional elements - (1) an explicit indication that there are two actresses and (2) some indication of containership (which I don't see in the clue as it stands). For instance, a clue might possibly be phrased along the lines of, "One Hollywood actress split over scrap in recession with another.".

I could certainly be totally off base with this analysis - and stand to be corrected. As always, comments are most welcome.

Solution to Today's Puzzle

Legend: "CD" Cryptic Definition; "DD" Double Definition

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

"( )" letters inserted; "_" letters deleted


1ac {LEGAL EAGLES}* - {ALLEGE A LEGS}* (a film produced and directed by Ivan Reitman)



11ac RU(N) IN - in modern chess notation, as I unfortunately discovered too late for a previous puzzle, the symbol for knight is 'n' rather than 'kt'

12ac BEET|H|OVEN - a film for which Ivan Reitman was executive producer


14ac M(OR)AN|IS - Ghost Busters was produced and directed by Ivan Reitman

16ac L(IN|EAR) B - 13th century Greek script

19ac TYPIS*|TS - TIPSY* + T.S. (Eliot)

21ac MEATBALLS* - {A SMALL BET}* (a film directed by Ivan Reitman)

23ac B|LIMP


26ac AVIATOR - Scandin[AVIA TO R]elax

27ac A(NIMAL HO)*USE - {[A USE] + (IAN HOLM)*} (a film produced by Ivan Reitman)



2d GAR(DNE)R - see discussion above



5d LO(W BE)*AM - LO^AM + WEB*







18d BE(LUSH)I - actor who appeared in Animal House (see 27ac)

19d TO|ST|AD|A



24d PUR(S)E

Signing off for today, but will be back to do battle with more clues next week - Falcon

Friday, May 29, 2009

Friday, May 29, 2009 (DT 25835)

This puzzle was originally published Monday, January 26, 2009 in The Daily Telegraph


Was this an exceptionally easy puzzle or am I just getting very proficient at this art? Sadly, I suspect the former to be the case. However, I do take a bit of satisfaction in not only finishing today's puzzle, but doing so in record time.

Broken Link Has Been Fixed

Many thanks to xwd_fiend for pointing out the broken link to my Ottawa Citizen Cryptic Crossword Forum blog. It has now been fixed.

Today's Glossary

Some possibly unfamiliar place names, words and expressions used in today's puzzle

biscuit - (Brit.) a cookie (defn. 2b)

River Wear - a river in North East England

Today's Links

1. Crossword Ends in Violence (5) [DT 25835]: CEIV has the usual mix of hints, solutions (or near solutions) and explanations.

By the way, I notice that no one picked up on James Cary's relocation of the Red Sox from Boston to Chicago. Chicago's American League team is actually the White Sox.

I found no questions on AnswerBank discussing today's puzzle. It may have been so easy that no one needed assistance - or else everyone was still busy working on the previous puzzle (which was a Saturday prize puzzle).

Commentary on Today's Puzzle

Other than some moderately clever cryptic definitions, there was not much of interest in today's puzzle. Among the best, were the following:

13ac Cruiser perhaps, not QE2 (3,8,4)

25ac City providing home for Englishman who's moved? (9)

1d In violent reaction, cat striking? (8)

16d Some Guinness for one of the little people (4-4)

Hybrid Clues

It can sometimes be difficult to clearly assign a clue to a particular category, since it is fairly common for cryptic definitions to contain elements of regular clue types or vice versa. For instance, take 14d today:

14d Of acceptable quality, so none left, presumably (3,5)

This has the structure of a regular clue with a left-hand side and a right-hand side both leading to the same solution. However, I read the right-hand side as a cryptic definition (if none is left, then all are right), a fact that is flagged by the indicator "presumably".

Solution to Today's Puzzle

Legend: "CD" Cryptic Definition; "DD" Double Definition

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

"( )" letters inserted; "_" letters deleted


6ac DOUBT - CD



11ac A(NEM<)ONE

12ac RE(G)ALLY

13ac HER MAJESTYS SHIP - (with apostrophe omitted, of course)





24ac SP(R)AT








6d DAR(K |A|G)ES







18d C|ACT|US



21d HAV_|AN|A - {mostly own [HAVE]} = [HAV]

And with that, I will sign off for today from my old castle. - Falcon

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Thursday, May 28, 2009 (DT 25834)

This puzzle was originally published Saturday, January 24, 2009 in The Daily Telegraph


Similar to what seemed to be the consensus of the British bloggers, I found today's puzzle to be fairly easy and have awarded myself full marks for a complete solution. However, I do have minor quibbles with a couple of the clues.

Blog Enhancements

You may notice that I have added a couple of "gadgets" to the blog. The first is a tool which allows one to search the contents of the blog (but - unfortunately - not the comments, it would seem). The second is a list of links to other blogs dealing with cryptic crosswords. As a start, I have included Big Dave's Telegraph Crossword Blog and Times for the Times. Big Dave, a past visitor to this site, covers a number of puzzles appearing in The Daily Telegraph. His coverage of The Daily Telegraph Cryptic Crossword begins a few puzzles in the future from the point where the National Post currently finds itself (the puzzles run in the National Post about four months after they first appear in the UK). Although Times for the Times (naturally) does not cover The Daily Telegraph puzzles, it has links to a number of sites that should be of interest to any fan of cryptic crossword puzzles. One of the principal contributors to that blog is Peter Biddlecombe, who comments here freguently under the alias xwd_fiend. I have also included links in the Library to a couple of Peter's cryptic crossword related websites as well as to the Chambers Dictionary website to which Peter refers in a recent comment. I have noticed that Chambers is frequently referenced by correspondents on AnswerBank - usually in highly reverential tones denoting a sense of ultimate authority.

And, finally, a bit of blatant self-promotion with a plug for my other blog, the Ottawa Citizen Cryptic Crossword Forum. On Sunday, the Ottawa Citizen publishes the London Sunday Times Cryptic Crossword (about six weeks after it first appears in the UK). Since Times for the Times provides a full solution to the puzzle, my blog currently provides merely a link by which solvers in Canada may access the appropriate page on the Times for the Times site.

Today's Glossary

Some possibly unfamiliar words and expressions used in today's puzzle

centre-forward (CF) - position in English football

Chelmsford - county seat of Essex

halma - a board game

jeux - (Fr.) games

kite - a bird similar to a hawk (or a falcon)

paper - a set of questions for an examination (noun, defn. 15)

Ur - a city of ancient Sumer in southern Mesopotamia (a classic cryptic clue)

Today's Links

1. Crossword Ends in Violence (5) [DT 25834]: This being a Saturday prize puzzle, CEIV leans even more heavily than normal toward providing hints rather than complete solutions.

2. AnswerBank [DT 25834]: I found some 25 questions on AnswerBank discussing today's puzzle. Together with the duplicate preview versions of many of the questions, these span five pages of Google search results. This is far too many questions to link individually - so I am posting a link to a Google search today.

A hint for anyone who may wish to use this search list to peruse the AnswerBank site: Several of the questions appear twice in the list of links, with one of the appearances being a preview link. If you open a preview link, you will see the answer but the question will not be displayed. To avoid this, if you see ".../Preview/..." in the URL for a link, just look for the other link which will have the same question number but without ".../Preview/..." in the URL.

It is not unusual for there to be a lot of questions on AnswerBank concerning the Saturday prize puzzle. However, I have never seen as many questions as there were concerning today's puzzle - nor so many duplicated questions. Somewhat surprising since I thought the puzzle was rather easy.

A Great Clue - and My Favourite

11ac He could be a great artist but he does not produce great pictures (11)

Last Clue Standing - and One of My Least Favourites

6ac A young animal first detached area (4)

Here is my parsing of the clue:

A {young animal [CUB] first (at front)} /\{detached area [ISLAND]} = [CUBA]

I am supposing that the rationale behind the clue is that a "detached area" is an "island" of which one example is CUBA.

Quibbles with Today's Puzzle

It being a bit of a slow day, I am going to examine - at the risk of appearing overly pedantic - a couple of rather trivial items from today's puzzle. In one case, I detect a superfluous "S" in the clue while the other clue seems to be missing an "S" (perhaps it migrated!). While both may fall within the normal range of license afforded to setters, it would be interesting to have other views on this point.

19ac Showing forgiveness when awful crime's three-quarters complete (8)

The "apostrophe-s" would appear to be inserted solely to enhance the surface reading and is not otherwise involved in the wordplay (as far as I can see). In my opinion, its inclusion is unnecessary and the clue would work just as well (if not better) without it. The surface reading might be a bit less grammatical, but I think it would certainly be well within the norms for cryptic clues.

25ac Wizard place with boat in U.S. mountains (5)

The U.S. mountains are actually the Ozarks, so I wonder whether the answer OZARK is really appropriate. Maybe it can be argued that it is acceptable since the full name is the Ozark Mountains. Of course, there are a number of communities in the U.S. named Ozark so the setter might argue that "in U.S. mountains" refers to a town named Ozark, not the mountains themselves. As an analogy, this usage is equivalent to substituting PENNINE (rather than PENNINES) for "English hills". I wonder if this sort of substitution is common and generally acceptable.

By the way, this clue seemed to give many of the British solvers fits due to their unfamiliarity with American geography. It was nice to see the shoe on the other foot for a change!

Solution to Today's Puzzle

Legend: "CD" Cryptic Definition; "DD" Double Definition

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

"( )" letters inserted; "_" letters deleted


6ac CUB|A

8ac wherewit[HAL MA]stered


10ac FIFTH - CD


16ac CHOICE - DD


19ac MERCI*|FUL_ - CRIME + FULL (delete L)



25ac OZ|ARK


28ac TO LET - TOILET (delete I)

29ac JEUX

30ac CH|UR|CH - Wouldn't "Ancient city surrounded by churches is place of worship" be a rather nice clue for this? Undoubtedly it has been used somewhere - or else breaks a rule about using the solution in the clue of which I am not aware.


1d C(HE)F









14d T|ETHER*



21d wor[ST ALE R]ejected

23d {NO USE}* - SUE ON

24d ESSEX*

26d K(IT)E

And with that final clue I will fly out of here for today - Falcon :)

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Wednesday, May 27, 2009 (DT 25833)

This puzzle was originally published Friday, January 23, 2009 in The Daily Telegraph


At first, this puzzle seemed fairly easy and I was able to quickly solve about three quarters of the clues. However, the remainding clues were quite another matter. In the end, I had correct solutions for all clues but, in three cases, I had only a partial understanding of the wordplay - for which I penalize myself a minus-1.5.

Today's Glossary

Some possibly unfamiliar words and expressions used in today's puzzle
  • postal order - a (postal) money order (North Americans might prefix the qualifier "postal" or "Post Office" to differentiate it from a bank money order)
  • rabbit - (Brit.) chatter (verb, defn. 2)
  • U - British film classification category designating films fit "for all to see"
Today's Links

1. Crossword Ends in Violence (5) [DT 25833]: CEIV, as usual, provides lots of hints and a fair number of solutions (or near solutions).

I found only one question on AnswerBank discussing today's puzzle - which may indicate that the Brits found this puzzle very easy.

2. AnswerBank [DT25833]-a: 20ac, 24ac, 19d, 17d

Commentary on Today's Puzzle

21ac The PM, very good and always completely sober (4)

I know Pitt was a British prime minister (or two) and I picked up on "completely sober" being a reference to teetotal (TT), but the rest of the wordplay was a mystery. According to Big Dave on CEIV, "pi" means "very good", although I have been totally unsuccessful in my efforts to find any other source to confirm this assertion.

23ac "Leadership good for all to see" - one given to spin? (8)

Again, I arrived at the right solution without fully understanding the wordplay - missing the reference to the British film classification categories (that totally differ from those with which we are familiar in North America).

7d See detective hustle about (6)

I assume that I understand the wordplay here. However, I do wonder about the "legitimacy" of this clue. The word "see" seems to be thrown in merely to enhance the surface reading and does not appear to otherwise play a role in the wordplay. I know British setters sometimes throw in extra words solely for this purpose. However, I didn't think it was considered proper form to do so as the first or last word in the clue. I would not have an objection to a clue with a slightly different construction, such as: "Detective seen to hustle about (6)"

14d Time when, in short, pest could be destroyed (9)

This was the third clue for which I found the correct solution without completely understanding the wordplay. I missed the point that "in short" was an indication to abbreviate the solution. This is, in reality, a cryptic definition - one that is not flagged as such by a "?".

Solution to Today's Puzzle





10ac RING|ER

11ac philosopher[S TO A]thens





21ac PI|TT

22ac RA(BB|I)T

23ac G|U|I|DANCE


25ac CE|REAL









14d SEPTEMBER - cryptic definition




19d V(EG)ANS

21d PEACE~ - sounds like "piece"

And that seems like a good note on which to conclude this post.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Tuesday, May 26, 2009 (DT 25832)

This puzzle was originally published Thursday, January 22, 2009 in The Daily Telegraph


A comparatively easy puzzle today for which I am awarding myself full marks - and maybe even a bonus mark for ferreting out a couple of pretty obscure Briticisms.

Today's Glossary

Some possibly unfamiliar words and expressions used in today's puzzle

Beds - Bedfordshire (a county in England)

con - to study (defn. 2)

National Union of Railwaymen (NUR) - former union of railway workers in the UK

roach - a European fish

trebuchet - a medieval catapult

Today's Links

1. Crossword Ends in Violence (5) [DT 25832]: CEIV provides either solutions or strong hints for most clues in the puzzle.

I found only one question on AnswerBank discussing today's puzzle.

2. AnswerBank [DT25832]-a: 26ac

Commentary on Today's Puzzle

23ac Harden against rail union in case of incompetence (5)

I got the solution very quickly even though I did not understand the wordplay. I revisited the clue once I had finished the puzzle and, after a great deal of contemplation, the answer finally hit me - just as I was on the verge of giving up.

23ac Harden against [I(NUR)E] /\ rail union [NUR] {in (inside)} {case of (first and last letters of) incompetence [I^E]} (5)

27ac Furious at seeing buccaneer executed (5)

This clue works as long as the unfortunate soul is beheaded. But what if he is made to "walk the plank"?

28ac Beds coach on the track! (8,3)

This is a case where the surface reading would be completely lost on most North Americans. "Beds" is short for Bedfordshire (a county in England) and "Beds coach" would therefore be read in the UK as the coach of a Bedfordshire sports team. Without this knowledge, the clue has no surface meaning and therefore just sounds rather bizarre.

22d Tree about which 007 spoke endlessly? (6)

I parse this as:

22d Tree [BON_SAI_] about which 007 [James BONd] spoke [SAId] {endlessly (delete last letter)} {? (cryptic definition indicator)}

Although this clue is very close to being a "regular" cryptic clue, the "?" would indicate that it is an "irregular" clue (i.e., cryptic definition). Therefore, I have not attempted to split it into two equal parts as I would do for a "regular" clue.

Here, "endlessly" seems to apply to both "BOND" and "SAID". I'm not sure that this would be permitted in a "regular" clue; however, it may be permitted here because the clue is phrased as a cryptic definition.

25d Headgear regularly taken in a trip abroad (5)

Here "regularly taken" is an indicator meaning "take the even numbered letters" in the phrase "a TrIp AbRoAd".

Solution to Today's Puzzle

As solutions for most of the clues are either posted on one of the links above or can easily be deciphered from the hints found there, I will provide solutions only for the clues not covered by either of these sites or those that I feel may be especially difficult. As always, feel free to request an explanation for any clue in the puzzle that you do not understand.

16ac POUND|AG|E - there is a fairly obvious typo in the solution provided at CEIV

4d stamP ON CHOrister




That wraps up today's post.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Monday, May 25, 2009 (DT 25831)

This puzzle was originally published Wednesday, January 21, 2009 in The Daily Telegraph


I found it to be a moderately challenging puzzle today. In fact, I had to give up without having found a solution to 1d. My inability to solve that clue may be partly due to having obtained the wrong solution to 15ac. I score myself minus-2 on the day.

Tip of the Day

I've added a couple of entries in the Library that may be of interest to anyone looking for some introductory reading material on the subject of solving cryptic crossword puzzles.

Today's Glossary

Briticisms and other possibly unfamiliar words and expressions appearing in today's puzzle

college - in Britain, a unit (independent institution) within a university

hen night - (Brit.) a celebration for a woman who is about to get married

Newmarket - home to a major British race course

statice - a plant

triad - a criminal gang

Today's Links

1. Crossword Ends in Violence (5) [DT 25831]: CEIV, as has been the case recently, provides more hints than solutions

I found two questions on AnswerBank discussing today's puzzle.

2. AnswerBank [DT25831]-a: 18ac, 7d

3. AnswerBank [DT25831]-b: 10d

Clues that caused me problems

15ac Drink taken by male in principal vessel? It has unforeseen effects (4,2,3,4)

I came up with drink [ABSINTH] taken by male [TED] in principal vessel [ARK] which is an anagram for STAB IN THE DARK. Wrong drink, wrong guy - right boat.

1d Time to choose accomplished site for leading consumers (3,5)

I have never heard the expression "TOP TABLE" and could find no reference for it, despite an extensive search on the Internet. The nearest match that I could find is toptable, an online restaurant booking service in the UK.

26ac Criminal gang, one in recurrent gossip (5)

There are two definitions for recurrent:

1. Occurring or appearing again or repeatedly.
2. Anatomy Turning in a reverse direction. Used of blood vessels and nerves.

The second definition leads one to the wordplay suggested at CEIV:

26ac Criminal gang [TRI(A)D] /,\ one [A] in {recurrent (reversal indicator) gossip [DIRT] = [TRI^D]} (5)

On the other hand, I relied on the first definition which gave me this solution:

26ac Criminal gang [TR(I)AD] /,\ one [I] in {recurrent gossip [TR^AD]} (5)

My reasoning was that Trad. (Traditional) has the sense of common knowledge (lore) of unknown providence that has been handed down from past generations - and which one might possibly equate to recurrent (i.e., repeated) gossip. It may be a bit of a stretch - but it seems to me that puzzle setters have been known to stretch credulity pretty far on occasion (how about Indian equates to restaurant in 6d). Therefore, unless someone raises a strong objection, I feel it is not entirely without justification to award myself credit for that solution.

Today's Puzzle



5ac DIN(N)ER

9ac PS|Y(CH|ED) UP

11ac win[DOW EL]aborately


13ac NO|WA(DA)YS



22ac TH(R(E)AT)EN - THEN around RAT around E (Ecstasy)

23ac UNIT|ED

26ac TRI(A)D according to CEIV (or, conceivably, TR(I)AD per the discussion above)

27ac {YARD OF A}*LE - anagram of "FOR A DAY" + LE (the French)

28ac C(AN|A)RY

29ac HEN NIGHT - cryptic definition




3d cl[ASH ANTI]cipated

4d A|IDE_ - a [A] plan [IDEA]

6d INDIAN|A - Indian = Restaurant ?




14d STRAT*|E|G_Y - strategy = tactics, not in my books!


17d A(CID) TEST*



21d STATIC_ - statice

24d T(W)ANG

25d BRIE_ - brief

That's all for today.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Saturday, May 23, 2009 - Coffee or Tea?

Being Saturday, today's puzzle is by Cox and Rathvon.


A relatively easy puzzle, at least when compared to recent ones from The Daily Telegraph.

A note to my British readers: As the National Post does not publish on Sunday, I do not post an entry to my blog on that day. I have also posted a copy of today's puzzle in case you are interested as you likely would not otherwise have access to it. You can download a .pdf version of the file from here.

Issues with Today's Puzzle

19ac Neckwear fine for relaxation (7)

The solution must be LEI|SURE. While I could find no source to support the use of "sure" as a synonym for "fine", I do recall that the lackadaisical responses of my teenage children to questions would often consist of "sure" or "fine", both indicating a rather unenthusiastic affirmative.

Toughest clue in Today's Puzzle

It has to be:

22ac Puzzle wrong for China? (3,7)

Solution below.

Today's Puzzle

Legend: Anagram '*'; Deleted letter '_' or letters '_..._'; Inserted letters '( )'; Reverse order '<'; Grouping '{ }'; Separator '|'

Clues Across



10ac TO(NIGH)T


12ac STUN< style="font-weight: bold;">TRY|ST


16ac {RIO GRANDE}*

18ac ZULUS - zoo loose {hearing (sounds like indicator)}

21ac BOHR - {vocally (sounds like indicator)} drill

22ac TEA SER|VICE - puzzle [TEASER] wrong [VICE]

25ac FELL|IN|I

26ac EV(A|CUE)E


Clues Down


2d EPIC|ENTER - American (Yankee) spelling of centre

The American setters of the puzzle emphasize the use of the American spelling in this puzzle directed at a Canadian audience. Interestingly, the American spelling "center" has actually become widely used in Canada and is probably just as prevalent - if not more so - than "centre".

3d CHEWS - {audibly (sounds like indicator)} {pick [CHOOSE]}

Here, the clue is directing the solver to a word that sounds like a word that means "pick".


5d _AUNT - delete H from HAUNT



8d A|T ON(C)E






20d STE(W)ED


24d DIVA<

As always, detailed explanations will be furnished on request.

That wraps up today's post.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Friday, May 22, 2009 (DT 25830)

This puzzle was originally published Tuesday, January 20, 2009 in The Daily Telegraph.


The National Post played catch-up today, skipping a number of puzzles. This happens from time to time, presumably due to the fact that the publication frequency of five puzzles per week in the Post does not match that of The Daily Telegraph which is six puzzles per week. Therefore, the length of the interval between publication dates gradually increases over time. The Post occasionally shortens the length of this interval by omitting a number of puzzles.

Although today's puzzle did not seem unduly difficult, I am scoring myself a minus-3 as I missed the solution to two clues entirely (a minus-1 each) and I did not fully comprehend the wordplay for two other clues (minus-0.5 each).

An Extention to the Notation

Today, I am introduction another extention to the notation that I use for parsing clues and displaying solutions. I will use an underscore "_" to indicate deleted letters - a single deleted letter by a single underscore "_ " and multiple deleted letters by a pair of underscores separated by an ellipsis "_..._".

Briticisms and Other Rum Words and Expressions

The following possibly unfamiliar terms appear in today's puzzle:

rum - strange

skate - a current collector on an electric railway train that collects its current from a third rail

the old - ye

titch - a small person

up - at college

stitch up - to incriminate by manufacturing evidence

The Rivals - a play by Richard Sheridan

War On Want - British charity

en clair - in ordinary language

pensione - (Italian) boarding house

Today's Links

1. Crossword Ends in Violence (5) [DT 25830]: CEIV provides hints to most of the clues and solutions for a few.

I found six questions on AnswerBank discussing today's puzzle:

2. AnswerBank [DT 25830]-a: 4ac

3. AnswerBank [DT 25830]-b: 14d, 21d

4. AnswerBank [DT 25830]-c: 9ac

5. AnswerBank [DT 25830]-d: 11ac

6. AnswerBank [DT 25830]-e: 1ac

7. AnswerBank [DT 25830]-f: 3d

Today's Puzzle

A new twist on a hidden word clue

8d Carpenter's record (5)

It seems to me that this is a hidden word clue with no hidden word indicator - a type of clue that I don't recall having encountered before today. The hidden word indication in this clue must be implicit. Usually, there is an explicit hidden word indicator, such as "Carpenter holds record". I would certainly welcome comments on this point from solvers who are more experienced than I.

Clues that gave me trouble

1. 1ac Society girl, a current collector (5)

I made a valiant - if flawed - stab at this clue. To start with, I split the clue at the wrong point - after society. My parsing for the right hand side of the clue was as follows:

girl [SU^E], {A current [V] collector (inclusion indicator)}

giving the result SU(AV)E.

Not surprisingly, there are major issues with this solution, not the least being the weak to non-existent rationale for "suave" equating to "society". Moreover, I certainly recognize the flagrant error in electrical terminology ("V" being the symbol for voltage and "I" being the symbol for current). However, I also recall "V" being used in a recent puzzle as a substitute for "current" and I, therefore, justified my solution as a case of the setter making the same mistake twice (after all, they may not be electrical engineers!).

2. 13ac Make a formal complaint about most of red wine (6)

I did get the right solution but not the correct wordplay.

I was trying to parse the clue along these lines:

Make a formal complaint [RE|XXXX] /\about [RE] {most of (delete last letter) red wine [XXXXY]}

In the end, the only viable solution seemed to be REPORT but I still missed the wordplay (which I am kicking myself for, since it is so evident once I see it explained in the linked blogs).

3. 16d Quick to pass the buck? (9)

Yet another clue for which I got the correct solution but not the wordplay (I didn't recognize that this clue contained an anagram).

4. 21d Leader in Premiership, a cut above the others? (7)

Another solution I missed. In fact, I am still not sure if I fully comprehend the wordplay involved in the first part of the clue, "Leader in Premiership". This is one of those cases where I have a strong suspicion that there is some nuance in the clue that I have overlooked.

AnswerBank indicates that the answer is TOPSIDE (CEIV does not provide a solution for this clue). Perhaps the first part of the clue pertains to "the highest position of authority" which is one of several meanings that I found for topside. The second part of the clue would certainly fit another meaning, "a lean cut of beef from the thigh containing no bone". There is also a third meaning, "the surface of a ship's hull above the water line" and I have to wonder if this is somehow related to the Premiership reference or am I trying to overanalyze the clue?

My solution was actually TOPLINE, meaning "so important as to be named at or near the top of a newspaper item, advertisement, or the like" or "of the highest reputation, importance, etc.". I have to concede that topside does appear to be the better solution. Moreover, topside can be a noun (which the clue seems to call for) and topline is an adjective.

The Solution

As CEIV merely gives hints for many of the clues today, I am providing a complete list of solutions with few explanations. If anyone would like a solution explained, please leave a comment and I would be pleased to oblige.


1ac S|KATE



10ac EX|ACT

11ac _..._E|YE|BALL

12ac RO_E (DEE)R

13ac RE_|PORT

15ac _..._S|TITCH| UP


20ac STAT_|US

23ac S(TIP)END

24ac I(M)PEACH

26ac RA(N)GE

27ac {THE RIVALS}*

28ac W|{AR ON WANT}* - resort means sort again

29ac ENSUE* - anagram of UNSEE_













19d S(HE|B)EEN



23d SHREW_

25d A|M|AS|S

That's all for today.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Thursday, May 21, 2009 (DT 25827)

This puzzle was originally published Friday, January 16, 2009 in the Daily Telegraph


I would like to welcome Big Dave who left a comment in response to my post on Tuesday. It is immensely gratifying to have a solver with so much more experience than myself affirm my point of view. Big Dave is a frequent contributor on both AnswerBank and Crossword Ends In Violence (5). He has established his own blog dealing with the Daily Telegraph cryptic crossword starting with puzzles that should be appearing in the National Post in about a month from now. I plan to link to his site once the National Post reaches that point in the series.

I thought the puzzle today had a medium level of difficulty and I was able to solve it completely. James Cary (author of Crossword Ends in Violence (5)) thought that "it seemed a bit easy".

"Briticisms" and "Americanisms"

Today's puzzle had a fair number of British expressions and references. Such expressions are likely so familiar to those in the UK that they think nothing of them but they can be very foreign to those of us in North America. Of course, the opposite undoubtedly holds true when the shoe is on the other foot. However, even when the setter introduces Americanisms into the puzzle, he or she can do so in a way that turns the "Americanism" into a "Briticism" for those of us on this side of the pond. A case in point occurred in yesterday's puzzle, "28ac American butts (7,7)". The wordplay in this clue was quite incomprehensible to me until I discovered in the Oxford dictionary that the expression "butt" (in the sense of "buttocks") is specific to North America.

Briticisms appearing in today's puzzle include:

George Best - renowned former British football (soccer) player

Berks - short form for Berkshire (county)

H - (King) Henry (I believe, as ER = "Elizabeth Regina", HR = "Henry Rex")

vesta - match

gn - guinea (abbrev.)

nick - arrest

tic-tac - bookmaker's signals

Today's Links

1. Crossword Ends in Violence (5) [DT 25827]: CEIV provides a nearly complete solution to today's puzzle. Solutions to the missing clues are provided below.

There are three questions in AnswerBank concerning today's puzzle:

2. AnswerBank [DT 25827]-a: 10ac

3. AnswerBank [DT 25827]-b: 6ac

4. AnswerBank [DT 25827]-c: 7d

Today's Puzzle

Here are solutions to the clues omitted by CEIV (as well as a couple where the solution was incomplete or misidentified there):



9ac - MAD|RAS - crazy [MAD] reckless [RASH] {for the most part (delete last letter) = [RAS]}

23ac TAOISM - MAOIST with sides (first and last letters) swapped

28ac SPELLCHECK - cryptic definition


22d STA(B)LE - past its best [STA^LE] {collecting (outside)} 1 across grade [B]

Since the solution to clue "1 across" is "second best", "1 across grade" is "second best grade" or B.

Explanations Available on Request

If you would like a clarification on the solution to any clue in the puzzle, please leave a comment and I would be more than happy to provide an explanation.

Signing off for today.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Wednesday, May 20, 2009 (DT 25826)

This puzzle was originally published Thursday, January 15, 2009 in the Daily Telegraph


A rather challenging puzzle today but the wordplay was at least comprehensible - unlike some of the clues in yesterday's puzzle. I managed to successfully solve all but one clue today.

Today's Links

1. Crossword Ends in Violence (5) [DT 25826]: CEIV provides only a partial solution to today's puzzle. I provide solutions for the omitted entries below.

I found one question at AnswerBank relating to today's puzzle:

2. AnswerBank [DT 25826]-a: 28ac

As indicated by the exchange which takes place with respect to this question (and confirmed from other sources), the use of "butt" to mean "buttocks" is a North American expression. Knowing this should make the clue more comprehensible. It looks like its not just the Brits who have their unique expressions. It's like accents - everyone has an accent except yourself!

Today's Puzzle

I missed solving one clue:

20ac Relaxed about having lost value to pound (8)

A correspondent on CEIV states the solution to be DOWNBEAT (without further explanation). Based on this, I would parse the clue as follows:

20ac Relaxed about [DOWN|BEAT] /\ having lost value [DOWN] to pound [BEAT] (8)

The closest that I came on this clue was an ill-fated attempt to make R(OUND)EST work, with R^EST (which bears a grammatically incorrect relationship to "relaxed") about (outside) OUND (pound losing a p).

Following are the solutions not provided on CEIV (or those for which I deemed some elaboration to be worthwhile):


1ac STAMPING-GROUND - one meaning of "resort" is "frequently visited place" (not the first meaning to come mind, I am sure)

10ac ELOP<|E - back (reversal indicator) {eastern [E] European [POLE]}

15ac PAD(LOCK)S - A cryptic definition incorporating apartments [PADS] and rugby player [LOCK]

16ac A|BA(SE)D - home counties [SE] {in (start of insertion indicator)} {A poor [BA^D]} {environment (end of insertion indicator)}

I have termed indicator constructs such as {in ... environment} to be a "split indicator" (analogous to a "split infinitive").

Home counties refers to the counties in the south east [SE] of England surrounding London.

24ac ERGO - leathER GOods {detained (i.e., held - hidden word clue)}

26ac O|LIVE< - nothing [O] {bad [EVIL] about (reversal indicator) = [LIVE]}


3d P|HEW - price initially (first letter of)

4d NET(WORK)S - {Uses contacts [NETWORKS]} /to find\ employment [WORK] during cricket practice [NET^S]

Cricket nets are to cricket what batting cages and bullpens are to baseball - places for batsmen and bowlers (pitchers) to practice. I'm not sure whether "nets" is actually used as a term meaning "cricket practice" as this parsing would suppose. If not, then this clue might more accurately be classified as a cryptic definition - in which case the rigorous parsing would not be applicable. If that is indeed the case, this clue would be similar to 15ac, being a cryptic definition that incorporates some elements of a "regular" cryptic clue. [Note: Most cryptic crossword clues fairly rigorously follow a well-established set of conventions. I consider these to be "regular" clues. There is, however, a type of clue known as a "cryptic definition" that does not adhere to these conventions. I think of these as "irregular" clues. If you detect a parallelism in this terminology to regular and irregular verbs, you are not without reason.]


11d D|IS|POSITION - {finally (last letter of) achieved [D]}{one's [IS]}

14d TOUR|N|AMENT< style="font-weight: bold;">TSAR - {Accommodation in (hidden word indicator)} apartmenTS ARranged

That's a wrap for today.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Tuesday, May 19, 2009 (DT 25825)

This puzzle was originally published Wednesday, January 14, 2009 in the Daily Telegraph


The National Post, which did not publish yesterday (it being the Victoria Day holiday in Canada), has skipped the puzzle that normally would have appeared yesterday.

I found today's puzzle to be especially difficult, as did many of those corresponding on the British discussion forums (listed below in Today's Links). I had to dig into my Tool Chest after only solving four or five clues unaided. However, I was able to complete the puzzle before visiting the online discussion forums, but I had little confidence in my solutions for several of the clues.

Today's Links

1. Crossword Ends in Violence (5) [DT 25825]: A solution to today's puzzle can be pieced together by perusing CEIV. I note that the author announced today that he was stopping the blog and seemingly signed off of cyberspace for good. However, as we shall see, overnight he seems to have a change of heart and is back again tomorrow.

There were four questions asked on AnswerBank concerning today's puzzle:

2. AnswerBank [DT 25825]-a: 19ac

3. AnswerBank [DT 25825]-b: 20d

4. AnswerBank [DT 25825]-c: 5d

5. AnswerBank [DT 25825]-d: 18d

The discussion on AnswerBank today goes beyond the usual mere provision of correct solutions.

Today's Puzzle

Clues that I had trouble deciphering:

12ac Out-and-out dump, we hear? House close to crumbling (5-3)

I solved this clue correctly, but did not understand the wordplay. However, there is a good explanation by Big Dave on CEIV.

19ac Speak noisily and sound impatient about bachelor with annoyance (3-5)

Again, I solved this one correctly and my take on the wordplay even matched that expressed on the online forums. However, I only arrived at my explanation for the wordplay via some very contorted and questionable reasoning which established a rather tenuous relationship between "hump" and "annoyance". I still consider the solution to be a bit of a stretch as I am unable to find any source that clearly establishes that "hump" is actually a synonym - or even a Briticism - for "annoyance".

15d Single woman, nurse, one overcome by fix (8)

I figured that the solution was SPINSTER, meaning "single woman", but could not decipher the remainder of the wordplay. Even after reading the explanation from Big Dave on CEIV, it took me a long time to understand the answer, which is:

15d Single woman [S(PIN)STER] /,\ nurse [SISTER], {one [I] overcome by (replaced by) fix [PIN]} (8)

That is, the "I" in "SISTER" is replaced by "PIN".

18d Stifle promotion for feminist remaining (7)

Another clue which I solved correctly without understanding the wordplay. There is a good explanation of the solution by Big Dave on CEIV.

20ac Foreign city once offered ton? Yes (6)

Yet another clue solved successfully without fully understanding the wordplay. I got the bit about "AY" meaning "Yes", but the "BOMB" part escaped me. Apparently, "goes like a bomb" and "goes like a ton" are British expressions (meaning to go fast?). The closest expression from this side of the pond to which I can relate is "bomb around" which has the connotation of driving fast but going nowhere in particular (e.g., "On Friday nights, the guys would bomb around town in their hotrods, hoping to impress the girls, before congregating at the hamburger stand.")

In summary, there were a few solutions in today's puzzle that I found very questionable. However, I don't feel too bad. Based on the online forums, I am not alone in feeling that way.

That's a wrap for today.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Monday, May 18, 2009


Today being Victoria Day in Canada, the National Post did not publish.

Enjoy your holiday and come back and visit the site tomorrow.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Saturday, May 16, 2009


This being Saturday, today's puzzle is by Cox and Rathvon.

The Library

I have added another gadget to the blog. On the right-hand side of the page you should see a section headed "Library" where I have placed links for some of the websites mentioned in previous postings or contributed by readers.

A Note on Notation

Today, you will notice that I have introduced a term that is often encountered on websites that cover the world of cryptic crosswords. This word is "anagrind" which is shorthand for "anagram indicator".

I would also like to take this opportunity to explain my use of curly brackets "{}" - which, I realize, may sometimes appear to be inconsistent. I try to employ them to make the parsing more readable while, at the same time, attempting to avoid introducing too many levels of brackets. You may notice that I sometimes write a parsed clue as:

STRING_1 {operator} STRING_2

while at other times, I may include either STRING_1 or STRING_2 inside the curly brackets to emphasize the fact that the operator is acting upon that string:

STRING_1 {operator STRING_2}, or

{STRING_1 operator} STRING_2

For instance, in 1ac in today's puzzle, I have written:

{SOME DARN CLAN set off (anagrind)} to show that the anagrind operator is acting upon the string "SOME DARN CLAN".

This notation is still a work in progress and it will likely continue to evolve as I gain more experience with it, finding out what seems to work and what doesn't. Comments are always welcome.

Today's Puzzle

Comment #1

I have noticed that setters often seem to construct anagrams where it is not immediately obvious which word is the anagrind or in which the word that one might think to be the most obvious candidate for an anagrind turns out to be the wrong choice.

For example, take 13d in today's puzzle:

Plastic cup trash in vending machine? (8)

In this clue, the anagrind is "plastic". However, "trash" could well be a plausible anagrind in some other clue (in fact, speaking personally, "trash" springs to mind more readily than ''plastic" when looking for an anagrind).

As another example, take this example from DT 25788 (discussed in "Crossword Ends in Violence (5) - Primer #1" in the Library):

14d Ordering a hybrid South American flower (3, 6)

In this clue, the anagrind is "hybrid", although "ordering" would be a perfectly acceptable (and - to me - more obvious) anagrind.

Comment #2

I find that it is sometimes possible to parse a clue in more than one way. For example, take 15d in today's puzzle:

Ruined pacifier with bit of leftover Middle Eastern dish (4,5)

I have parsed this clue as:

15d {Ruined (anagrind) PACIFIER = [RICE PI^AF]} {with (containing, therefore outside)} {bit of (first letter of) leftover [L]} /\ Middle Eastern dish [{RICE PI(L)AF}*] (4,5)

However, I believe it would be equally valid to parse it as follows:

15d Ruined (anagrind) {PACIFIER with (plus) {bit of (first letter of) leftover [L] = [PACIFIERL]} /\ Middle Eastern dish [{RICE PILAF}*] (4,5)

In the first case, the anagrind (ruined) operates on the first string (PACIFIER) with the result then wrapping around the second string (L) to produce the solution.

In the second case, the first string and second string are first combined (PACIFIER + L) with the anagrind operating on this combined string to produce the solution.

These different interpretations are possible due to the multiple possible meanings that the word "with" can assume.

Finally, here is the solution to today's puzzle:


1ac {SOME DARN CLAN set off (anagrind)} /\ fireworks [ROMAN CANDLES*] (5,7)

9ac {Doing an about-face (reversal indicator), betrays [RATS] immortal [GOD]} /\ Sirius [{DOG STAR}<](3,4) 10ac Explorer [CAR|TIER] /'s\ mode of transportation [CAR] : row [TIER] (7)

11ac {Ready (anagrind) TO NAP} /\ after exercising [{ON TAP}*] (2,3)

The rationale here must be that beer is typically consumed after exercising?

12ac {Pretentious [ARTY] liberal [L] getting into (inside)} long [P^INE] /,\ official position [P(ARTY L)INE] (5,4)

13ac Array [PAN|O|PLY] /\ cookware sample [PAN] with old [O] work [PLY] (7)

14ac Officer [MARS|HAL] /\ wounds [MARS] Henry [HAL] (7)

16ac {Get angry [SE^E RED] about (outside)} voltage [V] /\ cut [SE(V)E|RED](7)

19ac Get back /\ coat again (7) [RECOVER] - double definition

21ac St. Louis ballplayers [CARDS] complain ad nauseum [HARP] /and\ cheat [CARD S|HARP] (4,5)

23ac Danger [PERIL] /\ {in (hidden word indicator) improPER ILlumination} (5)

25ac {Returning (reversal indicator) sailor [TAR] taking (outside) = [RA^T<]} so long [TA-TA]} /\ knocking [RA(T-A-TA)T<] (3-1-3) 26ac Most important [S(ALIEN)T] /\ {foreigner [ALIEN] in the middle of (inside)} street [S^T](7)

27ac Answer [A] tart [PIE] president [CEO] {with trace of (first letter of) contempt [C] in (inside)} made-up [F^AKE] /\ child's play [A PIE|CE O|F (C)AKE] (1,5,2,4)

A president is the same thing as CEO? Hardly - but who am I to quibble.


1d Show [RODE|O] /\ went on [RODE] {second of (second letter of) tours [O]} (5)

2d Huge amount [{MEG|A|TON}<] /, and\ {hardly a stone [NOT A GEM]} {turned (reversal indicator)} (7)

3d {Version of (anagrind) PETER PAN = [N^TE PAPER]} {including (outside)} love [O] /\ letter material [{N(O)TE PAPER}*] (9)

4d Wasting [A|TROPHY] /\ A cup [TROPHY] (7)

5d Propriety [D(ECO)RUM] /of\ Italian author [ECO] {wearing (inside) barrel [D^RUM]} (7)

6d Almost [NEARLY] {shaving the head (deleting the first letter)} /\ too soon [EARLY] (5)

7d Angle [F^ISH] {brackets (outside)} IN /\ conclusion [F(IN)ISH] (6)

8d Pastry [CRU^LLER] {containing (outside)} {a bit of (first letter of) egg [E]} /is\ less sweet [CRU(E)LLER] {? (word play indicator)} (8)

13d {Plastic (anagrind)} CUP TRASH /in\ vending machine [PUSHCART*] {? (word play indicator)} (8)

15d {Ruined (anagrind) PACIFIER = [RICE PI^AF]} {with (containing, therefore outside)} {bit of (first letter of) leftover [L]} /\ Middle Eastern dish [{RICE PI(L)AF}*] (4,5)

17d IT {lies in (inside)} actual [VER^Y] /\ truth [VER(IT)Y] (6)

18d One made to serve [D(RAFT)EE] /\ transport [RAFT] {afloat in (inside)} Welsh river [D^EE] (7)

19d {Rocky (anagrind) TRIES PRO} /in\ comeback [RIPOSTE*] (7)

20d [VER^A] Miles {around (outside)} Scottish peak [BEN] /,\ plant with flowers [VER(BEN)A] (7)

22d Exercise [SI|T-UP] /\ place [PUT] IS {back (reversal indicator)} (3-2)

24d {Never finished (delete last letter) second-mentioned [LATTER]} /\ coffee order [LATTE] (5)

And, with that, I will wrap it up for today.