Saturday, February 27, 2010

Saturday, February 27, 2010 - Literary Convention


Today's puzzle by Cox and Rathvon takes us to a literary gathering where a multitude of writers make an appearance.

Today's Bookshelf

Writer's appearing in today's puzzle

Martin Amis - British novelist

Aristotle - Greek philosopher

Albert Camus - French author, philosopher and journalist

Italo Calvino - Italian journalist and writer of short stories and novels

Lewis Carroll - English author, mathematician, logician, Anglican deacon and photographer

E. M. Forster - English novelist, short story writer, essayist and librettist

Kenneth Grahame - British writer

Primo Levi - Jewish-Italian chemist and writer

Molière - French playwright and actor

Salman Rushdie - Indo-British novelist and essayist

Sam Shepard - American playwright, actor, and television and film director

Oscar Wilde - Irish writer and poet

Tom Wolfe - American author and journalist

Solution to Today's Puzzle

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

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

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

1a {OSCAR WILDE}* - anagram (roughed up) of AISLE CROWD

6a _A|TOM - A (end of novella; i.e., last letter of the word "novella") + (before) TOM (Wolfe)

9a FORSTER* - anagram (agitated) of FOR REST

10a CARROLL~ - sounds like (heard) CAROL

12a CAM_US - school grounds (CAMPUS) without P (having no piano; where piano, abbreviation p, is musical notation for softly)

13a ARISTOTLE* - anagram (changed) of TO REALIST

14a RESUMES - double definition ("starts in again" and "career write-ups" or resumés)

16a G(RAH)AME - RAH (cheer) contained in (amid) GAME

18a RUSH|DIE - RUSH (hurry) + (and) DIE (stop)

20a SHE(PAR)D - SHED (simple structure) containing (houses) PAR (average)

22a PRIM|O LE|VI - PRIM (proper) + OLE (cheer) + VI (#6; i.e., Roman numeral for 6)

24a _LO|CAL_ - hidden in (covered by) ItaLO CALvino

25a ANAPEST* - anagram (altered) of PEASANT

26a O|INKING - O (love; a score of 0 in tennis) + INKING (writing)

27a S(A)ID - A (article) contained in (penned by) SID (Caesar; American comedian Sid Caesar)

28a MARTIN (AM)IS - MARTINIS (cocktails) containing (around) AM (morning)


1d OFF|ICER - OFF (not working) + (with) ICER (cake decorator)

2d CERAMISTS* - anagram (improved) of CRASS ITEM

3d RITES~ - sounds like (on tape) WRITES

4d INROADS* - anagram (arranged) of DORIANS

5d DOC|KING - DOC (medic) + KING (ruler)

7d TRO(U)T - TROT (run) containing (around) U (university)

8d MO(LIE)RE - LIE (fiction) contained in (collected by) MORE

11d RA|T RACE - RA (chemical symbol for radium) + TRACE (residue)

15d M(IDS)OLE - MOLE (spy) containing (keeps) IDS

17d ANARCHISM* - anagram (mistaken) of CHAIRMANS

18d REPEALS - double definition; "cancels"and "tolls again" (cryptic)

19d ELECT|RA - ELECT (choose) + RA (Egyptian sun god); Electra - a figure in Greek mythology and the main character in plays by that name written by Sophocles and Euripedes

20d S(HI)P OUT - HI (greeting) contained in (in) SPOUT (jet)

21d DE(LUGE)S - LUGE (sled) contained in (caught inside) DES (of French; i.e., French word meaning "of")

23d {IRA|Q|I}< - reversal (backing up) of {I Q (question) ARI}

24d LINEN* - anagram (changed) of LENIN (Vladimir Lenin, Communist Russian revolutionary)

Signing off for today - Falcon

Friday, February 26, 2010

Friday, February 26, 2010 (DT 26082)

This puzzle was originally published Tuesday, November 10, 2009 in The Daily Telegraph


Although I eventually completed today's puzzle, it did prove to be quite a challenge for me. Therefore, I was relieved to see that Gazza gave it four stars for difficulty.

Today's Glossary

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

cove - noun Brit. informal, dated a man.

Hammer Film Production - a film production company based in the United Kingdom, known for its horror films.

rating - noun 3 Brit. a non-commissioned sailor in the navy.

Today's Links
Gazza's review of today's puzzle may be found at Big Dave's Telegraph Crossword Blog [DT 26082].

Commentary on Today's Puzzle

5d Formula One's new course outside (7)

It seems to me that this clue has a rather absurd surface reading, which essentially states "The new Formula One racetrack [is] outside". Are there any indoor Formula One tracks? However, as we well know, the surface reading is immaterial - what we are looking for is the cryptic reading. For the cryptic reading, we must insert some punctuation into the clue, as follows:

Formula One's new, course outside

which can be rearranged into a more natural order, producing:

Formula /\ course outside one's new

where I have also inserted a fulcrum symbol (/\) to separate the definition from the wordplay.

The solution to this is:

ROUTINE (formula) /\ ROUTE (course) containing (outside) {I (one's) N (new)}

I must say that I'm not a big fan of the 's in this clue. In clues, an 's may signify a possessive (as it does in the surface reading of this clue), an abbreviation for is, or an abbreviation for has. It is not uncommon for the 's to have a different meaning in the cryptic reading than in the surface reading. In this clue, the 's plays no role in the cryptic reading (as I see it), and is therefore merely padding to enhance the surface reading.

A visitor to Big Dave's site observes that three other clues in today's puzzle also contain an 's, and that the S is used in the solution in all of them. He wonders why the 's is treated differently in this clue. The setter of the puzzle responds "... the simple explanation is that I use the apostrophe ’s’ in the answer when I need to, and when I don’t need to, I don’t! ".

Now off to see how today's Olympic competitions are going - Falcon

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Thursday, February 25, 2010 (DT 26081)

This puzzle was originally published Monday, November 9, 2009 in The Daily Telegraph

The National Post has skipped DT 26080 which was published on Saturday, November 7, 2009


I found it to be a moderate to moderately easy puzzle today. Although I had expected that the Brits would rate it as being easy, Big Dave commented "This one seemed tougher than a lot of recent Rufus puzzles". There are some cricket terms and other Briticisms that make it a bit more challenging for those of us on this side of the Atlantic.

Today's Glossary

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

Billy Bunter - is a fictional character featured originally in stories set at Greyfriars School in the boys weekly story paper The Magnet first published in 1908, and has since appeared in novels, on television, in stage plays, and in comic strips.

cover - noun 6 Brit. protection by insurance.

extra cover - noun cricket 1 a fielding position between cover and mid-off (see under mid-on). 2 the person in this position.

form - noun 6 chiefly Brit. a class or year in a school.

guillotine - noun 3 Brit. (in parliament) a procedure used to limit discussion of a legislative bill by fixing times at which various parts of it must be voted on.

remove - verb 5 (remove to) dated relocate to (another place).

remove - noun 2 a form or division in some British schools.

run out - PHRASES 4 Cricket dismiss (a batsman) by dislodging the bails with the ball while the batsman is still running.

Today's Links

Big Dave's review of today's puzzle may be found at Big Dave's Telegraph Crossword Blog [DT 26081].

Commentary on Today's Puzzle

18a Woman given note and present (4)

Interestingly, this clue could have equally well been worded "Man given note and present (4)" where the solution would have been:

HE (man) + (given) RE (note) /and\ HERE (present)

27a Additional insurance against being driven off (5,5)

This is a cryptic definition involving a play on the name of a defensive position in the sport of cricket. "Additional" is EXTRA and "insurance" is COVER. In cricket, an "extra cover" is a fielding position between cover and mid-off.

To understand some of the cricket fielding positions, suppose we superimposed a baseball diamond over a cricket field. As can be seen from the accompanying diagram (cribbed from Wikipedia), in the case of a right-handed batsman, the cover would be positioned relative to the bowler and batsman at roughly what would be first base in baseball, the mid-wicket at what would be third base, the mid-on at shortstop, and the mid-off between first and second bases (where the second baseman usually plays). The extra-cover is positioned between the cover and mid-off as "additional insurance" against a ball batted (driven) to the off side of the field.

Whereas, in baseball, the ball can only be hit safely within the quadrant of the field between first base and third base, it seems that in cricket the ball can be hit in any direction. Also, the naming convention in cricket appears to depend upon which side of the wicket the batsman bats from and if a player were to bat left-handed, the names of all the positions would be reversed. Presumably, the players would not actually change positions on the field; rather, I would think that while a left-handed batsman was up (although I believe that cricket batsmen may be said to be "in" whereas baseball batters are "up"), the player who was playing cover (against a right-handed batsman) would be called a mid-wicket (with corresponding changes to the names of all the other positions on the field). That must be a nightmare for play-by-play announcers (especially if there are switch-hitters in cricket, as there are in baseball).

By the way, if a fielder were to move from his normal position to a position very near the batsman, the position would be described as silly (e.g., a silly mid-on or silly cover).

23d Bunter's form to change houses (6)

For me, the last clue to be solved - although, I bet for many Brits, it would be among the first. There are lots of Briticisms to wade through here. Billy Bunter is a fictional character, well known in Britain, who is also known by the nickname "the fat owl of the Remove". A form in Britain is what we in North America would refer to as a grade (a class or year in a school). Remove is defined by Oxford as "a form or division in some British schools" and by Random House as "Brit. a promotion of a pupil to a higher class or division at school".

Big Dave provides the following explanation for forms: "Billy Bunter, if my memory serves me correctly, was the Fat Owl of the Remove – a year group that came between the Fourth and Fifth forms at my old school, there being no First form as that used to be a prep year in the dim and distant past. We had no upper and lower Sixth either, going through Transitus to get to the Sixth!". It seems that British educational terminology is almost as convoluted as cricket jargon.

The situation is made quite a bit clearer (and the connection between the Oxford and Random House definitions emerges) in this comment posted on Big Dave's site "It's only taken 40 years for me to realise that the R in 4th year at my old school (4A, 4B and 4R) must have stood for Remove and not Rapid as the majority of my peers also thought i.e. the 3rd year was missed out by this group and went straight from 2 to 4 ."

Remove is also a rather antiquated term meaning move, in the sense of relocating from one premise to another.

Wikipedia describes Billy Bunter as "essentially a comic anti-hero, whose actions puncture and deflate the serious world of the English public school, inverting conventional values like a 'Lord of Misrule'. His main physical characteristics are obesity, brought about by over-eating, and short-sightedness (hence his nickname 'the fat owl of the Remove'). He is dishonest, greedy, pathologically self-centered, snobbish, conceited, lazy, cowardly, mean-spirited and stupid. Nevertheless, he succeeds in achieving reader sympathy by virtue of the humour which the character generates, partly through his brazen effrontery and persistence in the face of inevitable failure."

Signing off for today - Falcon

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Wednesday, February 24, 2010 (DT 26079)

This puzzle was originally published Friday, November 6, 2009 in The Daily Telegraph


A bit of a different looking grid today, with arrowheads in two corners. A diagonal line drawn between the two arrowheads would separate the puzzle into a southwest half, the solution to which came fairly readily, and a northeast half, which proved to be much more challenging.

Today's Glossary

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

Edgbaston Cricket Ground - a cricket venue in Birmingham, England; among other uses, a site for Test matches

Midge Ure - Scottish musician

Lord's Cricket Ground - a cricket venue in London, England; among other uses, a site for Test matches

NUM - National Union of Mineworkers

Tiree - an island in the Scottish Inner Hebrides

Today's Links

Gazza's review of today's puzzle may be found at Big Dave's Telegraph Crossword Blog [DT 26079].

Commentary on Today's Puzzle

16a Midge attracted to a chemical (4)

If, like me, you have never heard of Scottish musician Midge Ure, you would likely have had difficulty with the wordplay here. Luckily, however, the solution was quite solvable based solely on the definition and checking letters.

In an attempt to explain the wordplay, I discovered that midge is a (presumably British) term for "a small person". Therefore, I postulated, since a person could be a figure, a "small person" might be a ure (with small indicating that one must shorten the word figure to obtain ure). A valiant effort, but apparently not what the setter had in mind.

19d Demonstrates outside Lord’s and Edgbaston, say? (7)

Apparently, if you were to find yourself outside Lord's and Edgbaston Cricket Grounds you might be "at Tests" (i.e., attending Test matches). However, it seems to me (and Vince, writing on Big Dave's blog, seems to agree) that you would be more likely to be at Tests if you were inside said cricket grounds. Being outside might be a sign that you were unsuccessful in your attempt to obtain an admission ticket.

21d Girl’s entering into union with a preference for no clothes! (6)

This is an instance where I think one might make a case for an alternative answer.

According to Gazza, the solution is NUDISM, a noun, where the definition would presumably be "a preference for no clothes" and the wordplay is DIS (girl's) contained in (entering) NUM (National Union of Miners). The word "with" would seem to be a linkword.

The solution that I came up with is NUDIST, as an adjective, where the definition is "with a preference for no clothes" and the wordplay is DIS (girl's) contained in NUT (the threaded hardware item). A nut is a threaded piece (usually made of metal) that screws onto a bolt. A union is a threaded piece that enables two components (such as pipes) to be connected together. While I realize that a nut and a union are hardly the same thing, they do bear a much closer resemblance than many other pairs that I have seen equated in cryptic crossword clues.

There is a lot of discussion on Big Dave's site on the NUDISM versus NUDIST question. I agree that NUDIST as a noun wouldn't work, but I believe NUDIST as an adjective (as I've shown it above) does work.

Signing off for today - Falcon

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Tuesday, February 23, 2010 (DT 26078)

This puzzle was originally published Thursday, November 5, 2009 in The Daily Telegraph


After an incredibly difficult puzzle yesterday, today's offering seemed almost like a walk in the park (along an alameda, perhaps). I'm sure the puzzle was even easier for the Brits who would have known a priori what I realized part way through solving it - that this puzzle was published in the U.K. on the day when the Brits mark Guy Fawkes Night (also known as Bonfire Night) - "an annual celebration held on the evening of 5 November to mark the failure of the Gunpowder Plot of 5 November 1605, in which a number of Catholic conspirators, including Guy Fawkes, attempted to destroy the United Kingdom's Houses of Parliament, in London."

Today's Glossary

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

(be) coining it - British & Australian informal to be earning a lot of money quickly

flanker - noun 2 rugby union one of the two outside players on either side of the second row of the scrum. Also called flank forward or wing forward.

do (or pull) a flanker - slang to trick or deceive someone [thus a flanker is presumably a deception]

gaff - noun Brit. informal a person’s house, flat, or shop.

lo - exclamation, old use look! see!

not half - PHRASES 3 Brit. informal to an extreme degree.

OTT - abbreviation, slang over the top: colloq excessive; exaggerated.

Today's Links

Libellule's review of today's puzzle may be found at Big Dave's Telegraph Crossword Blog [DT 26078].

Commentary on Today's Puzzle

12a Left in revenge for act of reproducing recording (8)

I was hampered for a while by failing to correctly detect the sense in which the word "reproducing" is being used. Here, it is used in the sense of "recreating the performance" rather than "copying the media".

27a Conspiring chap few ask for change? (3,6)

In this cryptic definition, the word "chap" appears to do double duty. The "conspiring chap" is GUY FAWKES. The clue also includes the wordplay "chap few ask for change" which can be interpreted as GUY (chap) FAWKES {anagram (for change) of FEW ASK}. The clue may also allude to the tradition of children requesting "a penny for the guy". Perhaps "few ask for change" alludes to the fact that, according to Wikipedia, "this practice has diminished greatly".

1d Most of mashed potato is white (4)

I would say that these potatoes are definitely more than merely mashed.

3d Suggest it's easily executed (5)

The wordplay here may be a bit more obvious to citizens of Britain and France where beheading was a favoured method of execution. For North Americans, other forms of execution may spring to mind. Here, "easily" is SIMPLY - which, when beheaded (executed), becomes IMPLY.

16d Avenues initially availing a damsel in distress (8)

Here, the definition is "avenues", the solution is ALAMEDAS and the wordplay is A (initially availing; i.e., first letter of the word "availing") + an anagram (in distress) of A DAMSEL.

There is a lot of discussion on Big Dave's site concerning "alameda", a word with which many visitors appeared to be unfamiliar or which they considered to be a Spanish word. An alameda is "a tree-shaded promenade or public park" in the Southwestern U.S. I had to wonder whether an avenue could be a path (as opposed to a road); however, Oxford does define avenue as "a broad road or path".

Signing off for today - Falcon

Monday, February 22, 2010

Monday, February 22, 2010 (DT 26077)

This puzzle was originally published Wednesday, November 4, 2009 in The Daily Telegraph


Attempting to do today's puzzle was definitely a humbling experience - actually it was more like stepping in front of a speeding freight train. Tilsit rated it 4* for difficulty - and I would say that is probably an understatement. After four hours, I had completed pretty much all the lower half - but very little of the top half. At that point, with my brain reduced to mush, I took a look at Big Dave's site. I guess I should have looked earlier as I discovered that some of the clues that I had spent a lot of fruitless time on were ones that I would never have solved in a million years. Although I was beginning to feel that I should apply for membership in the Clueless Club (readers of the comments section on Big Dave's blog will be familiar with that group), I came to realize that having solved a fair bit more than half the puzzle was probably not a bad performance - not to mention that the four hours that I spent on the puzzle was significantly less than the four days of at least one visitor.

Today's Glossary

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

bye1 - noun 2 Cricket a run scored from a ball that passes the batsman without being hit.

don - noun 1 a university teacher, especially a senior member of a college at Oxford or Cambridge.

Exeter - city in Devon, England which is home to Exeter Cathedral

extra - noun 5 cricket a run scored other than by hitting the ball with the bat.

Identikit - (U.K.) a trademark for a set of pictures showing varied facial features that can be combined to produce a human likeness, e.g. of a missing person or of a criminal suspect

lam - verb (often lam into) informal hit hard or repeatedly.

see - noun the seat of authority of a bishop or archbishop, centred on a cathedral church.

T2- abbreviation 2 IVR [International Vehicle Registration code] Thailand.

wheeze - noun 2 Brit. informal a clever or amusing scheme or trick.

Today's Links

Tilsit's review of today's puzzle may be found at Big Dave's Telegraph Crossword Blog [DT 26077].

Commentary on Today's Puzzle

10a Hip team overseeing one patient identify criminal abuse of Trust? (6,3)

Hint: you should read "one patient" as "one who was patient" or, better yet, "one who was renowned for his patience".

26a What Grace will turn into (6)

I got this one wrong - which pretty well killed my chances on 14d. I thought grace might be used in the sense of "a delay allowed, especially to a debtor, as a favour". Thus, I reasoned, when the period of grace ends, the creditor will be paid off or, in other words, receive INCOME.

Apparently the setter intends for us to believe that grace means become - a rather questionable position. I found that grace can mean "to add beauty or charm to something" (e.g., the model graced the event with her presence) and become can mean "said especially of clothing: to suit, look good on or befit someone" (e.g., those earrings become you). Big Dave quotes Chambers (the unabridged version) as defining become as "to grace or adorn fittingly". I am sorry, but become does not mean grace but grace fittingly. However, it seems that that is close enough for Cryptic Crosswordland.

I have to say that I don't understand Tilsit's explanation. He says "It’s a double definition clue with “will turn into” as one of the definitions, and “what Grace” is the other." I would think that one definition for BECOME is "turn into" rather than "will turn into". As for "what Grace" being the second definition, I don't follow the rationale.

For me, this clue might work better if it were modified to read along the lines of "Fittingly, what grace will turn into".

2d Greek writer describing Scots one? (6)

Here the definition is "Greek" (the solution being IONIAN) and the wordplay is "writer describing Scots one". "Writer" is I (the creator of the puzzle). I have seen the words "setter" and "compiler" used in this manner, but this is the first time that I recall seeing "writer" used this way.

For a time, I thought "Scots one" might mean "Scots writer" and so looked for someone like Burns or Scott. Instead, according to Tilsit, "Scots one" means Scotsman (more specifically, a common given name of a Scotsman).

Also according to Tilsit, "describing" means ON. I know describe can mean "give a detailed account in words of" or "mark out or draw (a geometrical figure)". I have seen the word "describe" used as an indicator in a container-type clue where describe is used in the sense of "trace the outline of" or "encompass". But that is obviously not the case here - and I really can't fathom how one gets ON from "describing".

I even considered that this might be a container-type clue where "Scots one" would be an IONAN (inhabitant of IONA) around I. However, the wordplay does not appear to fit that supposition. To get that result, the clue could be reworked as "Greek writer described by Scots one".

5d Smart-Aleck Tory getting involved with lovable chef (3-6-2-4)

Tilsit muses that some readers might find this puzzle TOO-CLEVER-BY-HALF, but I'm tempted to call it - among other things - too clever by far (a version of the expression with which I am more familiar).

I did wonder why Aleck is spelled with a capital letter, thinking that there might be a reference implied that I'm missing.

7d Study image in it, in assembly (9)

I might be tempted to characterize this container-type clue as an esotericism clouded in obscurity. Fans of Survivor might have known what a tiki is.

Hint: assembly is used in the sense of "a unit consisting of assembled parts"

14d Performance of Carmen may rest on this (9)

Tilsit's remark "...think mechanics! If you employed some “car men”, then they would probably need a wheelbase to look under your car." suggests that a vehicle hoist in a garage might be called a WHEELBASE in the U.K. However, several visitors to Big Dave's site dispel that notion. Clearly, wheelbase means the same in the U.K. as in North America. It seems that "car men" are probably either race car drivers or car enthusiasts (those who build performance cars). There are a number of (rather unconvincing) efforts by visitors to Big Dave's site to explain why wheelbase might affect the performance of an automobile.

22d This asthmatic may have a cunning plan (6)

In the surface reading, the word "this" is an adjective (modifying asthmatic). However, in the cryptic reading, it is a pronoun (standing for the solution and object of the verb may have). We must read the wordplay as "This, asthmatic may have" which is equivalent to saying "Asthmatic may have this". What an asthmatic may have is a WHEEZE which is also British slang meaning "a clever or amusing scheme or trick".

Signing off for today - Falcon

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Saturday, February 20, 2010 - Canadian Waterways


The theme of today's puzzle by Cox and Rathvon is Canadian waterways, with four of our major rivers making an appearance.

Today's Glossary

Some abbreviations, people, places, words and expressions used in today's puzzle that may be unfamiliar to our foreign visitors

Churchill River - a major Canadian river, arising in eastern Alberta and flowing through Saskatchewan and Manitoba to Hudson Bay

Coppermine River - a major Canadian river, arising near Great Slave Lake and flowing through the Northwest Territories and Nunavut to the Arctic Ocean

Mackenzine River - the longest river in Canada, flowing from Great Slave Lake in the Northwest Territories to the Arctic Ocean

P.E.I. - abbreviation Prince Edward Island, the smallest province in Canada

pol - noun informal a politician

shortstop - noun Baseball a fielder positioned between second and third base. [also, the position itself; i.e., a player may be a shortstop or he may play the position of shortstop]

St. Lawrence River - a major Canadian river, flowing from the Great Lakes through Ontario and Quebec (forming part of the International boundary with the United States) to the Atlantic Ocean

Commentary on Today's Puzzle

13a Make nice moves on either side of zigzag river (9)

In this clue, I believe that we are meant to substitute Z for "zigzag" not because Z is an abbreviation for zigzag but because a zigzag pattern looks like a Z, much like we would substitute O for "zero" or I for "one".

Solution to Today's Puzzle

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

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

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

1a COP(P)ERMINE - COP (catch) ERMINE (weasel) containing (around) P (head of P.E.I.; i.e., first letter in the abbreviation P.E.I.)

6a SPAN< - reversal (facing the wrong way) of NAPS (sleeps)

9a M(ON)ARCH - ON (appearing) contained in (in) MARCH (late winter)

10a V(ILL)AIN - VAIN (useless) containing (harbouring) ILL (sick)

12a DUC(A)T - DUCT (tube) containing A

13a MACKEN(Z)IE* - anagram (moves) of MAKE NICE containing (on either side of) Z (zigzag); see Commentary on Today's Puzzle

14a YAM|AHA< - reversal (set back) of {AHA (inventor's call) MAY (might)}

16a B(I|AS)ED - {I AS (like)} contained in (being in) BED (the sack)

19a POL|AND - POL (politician) AND (too)

21a S(PIG)OT - SOT (souse) containing (hugging) PIG (slob)

25a C(H)UR|CHILL - CUR (rogue) containing H (hot) adjacent to (next to) CHILL (cool)

26a SA(SS)Y - SAY (articulate) containing (about) SS (shortstop)

27a L(A|D A D)OG - LOG (record) containing (about) {A DAD (father)}; Note: in the cryptic reading, the 's is a linkword (contraction for is)

28a GO (FIRS)T - FIRS (evergreens) contained in (inside) GOT (received)

29a DAYS - sounds like (by the sound of it) DAZE (fog)

30a {ST LAW(R)ENCE}* - R (right) contained in (in) an anagram (meandering) of NEWCASTLE


1d CO(ME)DY - ME (yours truly; i.e., the setter of the puzzle) contained in (in) CODY (Buffalo Bill Cody - American showman, world famous for his Wild West Shows)

2d PA(NICK)Y - NICK (cut) contained in (in) PAY (salary)

3d _EGRET - removal of R (missing the first [letter]) from [R]EGRET (feel sorry for)

4d MA|HI MA|HI - repeat (echoed) of MA (mother) HI (greeting)

5d NO|VICE - NO VICE (nary a flaw); the wordplay works best by substituting the entire phrase rather than trying to do it word by word

7d PI(A)ZZAS - PIZZAS (some pies) containing (seen around) A (first-rate)

8d NINTENDO - hidden word (found in) in seveN IN TEN DOrms; Note: one must replace the numeral "10" with the word "ten"

11d LE(ERIN)G - LEG (part of a trip) containing (around) ERIN (Ireland)

15d MEN|ACED - MEN (fellows) ACED (performed very well)

17d S(PECK)LED - PECK (Gregory Peck - American actor) contained in (riding in) SLED (vehicle with runners)

18d A|POLO|(GI)A - GI (soldier) contained in (in) {A POLO (horseback game) plus (with) A}

20d LA|UNDRY - LA (note - as in do, re, mi, ...) UNDRY (damp)

22d {TEST RUN}* - anagram (off) of TURNS ET

23d W|ID|GET - W (with) ID (identification) GET (obtain)

24d {M(YRT)LE}< - reversal (on the way back) of {ELM (tree) containing (pierced by) TRY (shot)}

26d SO FA|R - R (run) following (behind) SOFA (couch)

Signing off for today - Falcon

Friday, February 19, 2010

Friday, February 19, 2010 (DT 26076)

This puzzle was originally published Tuesday, November 3, 2009 in The Daily Telegraph


Although I got off to a good start, I ran into difficulty late. I had to sneak a peek at Gazza's review to solve one clue and missed the wordplay for another couple of clues.

Today's Glossary

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

crock - noun 2 Brit. an old worn-out vehicle.

eyewash - noun 2 informal nonsense.

punch-bag - noun 1 a heavy stuffed leather bag hanging from the ceiling on a rope, used for boxing practice. 2 someone who is used and abused, either physically and emotionally. [In North America, the term would be punching bag].

sack - noun historical a dry white wine formerly imported into Britain from Spain and the Canaries.

wine lake - the continuing supply surplus of wine (supply glut) produced in the European Union.

Today's Links
Gazza's review of today's puzzle may be found at Big Dave's Telegraph Crossword Blog [DT 26076].

Commentary on Today's Puzzle

25a Retired doctor acquiring a bunch for surgery target of hostility? (5-3)

This was the most difficult clue for me today - and I was forced to sneak a peek at Gazza's review. Having a wrong answer penciled in at 23d handicapped me. As well, in North America we call this item of sports equipment (and target for abuse) a PUNCHING BAG (not a PUNCH-BAG).

12d Bill boards flight in exciting adventure (8)

I got the solution easily enough from the definition and checking letters, but the wordplay escaped me - although it looks very straightforward in hindsight.

16d Heavenly number with origins in early American lovesongs (8)

Another case where I got the solution without comprehending the wordplay. Despite having seen this old trick meaning for number countless times, I still fell for the ruse.

23d Hide starter with grim flavour (4)

Initially I thought that "hide starter" must indicate H (first letter of "hide"). However, the checking letters from 22a and 24a showed that the solution is of the form TA??. I then wrongly guessed TART, which added an additional impediment to solving 25a. Eventually I did find the right flavour.

Signing off for today - Falcon

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Thursday, February 18, 2010 (DT 26075)

This puzzle was originally published Monday, November 2, 2009 in The Daily Telegraph

The National Post has skipped DT 26074 which was published on Saturday, October 31, 2009 in The Daily Telegraph


When I saw that Big Dave rated today's puzzle as two stars for difficulty, I had to double check to make sure I was looking at the right review. It was at least four stars for me - with my Tool Chest definitely getting a strenuous workout. However, in the end, I did manage to crack all the clues - some of which I found to be very tricky.

Today's Glossary

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

L2 - abbreviation 2 learner driver.

near - adjective 6 old use mean; miserly.

redcoat - noun 1 historical a British soldier. 2 (in the UK) an organizer and entertainer at a Butlin’s holiday camp.

Trinity College - any of numerous educational institutions around the world, the most well-known of which may be those at Oxford, Cambridge and in Dublin.

Today's Links

Big Dave's review of today's puzzle may be found at Big Dave's Telegraph Crossword Blog [DT 26075].

Commentary on Today's Puzzle

16a Decoration of stone sculpture (7)

I knew that the solution could be verb but its use as a noun was new to me.

16d Circus performers? Maybe true or false (5)

Although no one at Big Dave's site seems to have picked up on it, I think there may be an implied "maybe" in this clue, as follows:

"Circus performers? Maybe true or (maybe) false"

which then parses as:

Circus performers? Maybe true /or\ (maybe) false

where the left hand side "Circus performers? Maybe true" is a cryptic definition for FLEAS (which may be performers in a flea circus) and the right hand side "(maybe) false" is an anagram (maybe) of FALSE.

20a He may be found in a wrongful act (5)

Once again, the solution is a word that I hadn't realized could be a noun (at least not in the sense in which it is used here). However, even that - as well as failing to notice the anagram in the wordplay - did not stop me from finding the correct solution.

Signing off for today - Falcon

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Wednesday, February 17, 2010 (DT 26073)

This puzzle was originally published Friday, October 30, 2009 in The Daily Telegraph


I finished almost the entire puzzle while sitting in the waiting room at the garage waiting for my brakes to be serviced. I enjoyed the puzzle - I certainly didn't enjoy the bill for the brake job.

Today's Glossary

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

Vince Cable - British politician, prominent member of the Liberal Democrats party

chop-chop - adverb & exclamation quickly.

Devon - a county in South West England.

Liberal Democrats (often shortened to Lib Dems) - a centrist to centre-left social liberal political party in the United Kingdom, formed in 1988 by a merger of the Liberal Party and the Social Democratic Party

Labour - a centre-left political party in the United Kingdom

supremo - noun Brit. informal 1 a person in overall charge. 2 a person with great authority or skill in a certain area.

turn tail - PHRASES informal turn round and run away.

Today's Links
Gazza's review of today's puzzle may be found at Big Dave's Telegraph Crossword Blog [DT 26073].

Commentary on Today's Puzzle

19a Lovely party limited by a half-hearted host with no manners (8)

While I saw the overall structure of the clue and got the solution from a combination of the definition and checking letters, the wordplay eluded me. I did recognize that "party" indicated DO, but I failed to detect that "host" meant "a large number of people" rather than the host of a party.

24a Performance with story that must be listened to? Run away (4,4)

Although I have always heard this expression as "Turn tail and run" (implying that "turn tail" might mean simply to turn one's back), both Oxford and Chambers clearly show "turn tail" meaning "run away".

8d Verdict that's right for Conservative brings jeers (8)

I thought that the wording of this clue was ambiguous enough that it could go either way, DERISION or DECISION. Does the clue mean "Start with a word meaning verdict (DECISION) and substitute R (right) for C (Conservative) to get a word meaning jeers (DERISION) as a solution? Or, does it mean "The solution is a word meaning verdict (DECISION) in which if R (right) were to be substituted for C (Conservative) would produce a word meaning jeers (DERISION)? It turns out that the former is the case.

15d Bit of ship to buckle on trips at sea (8)

My first thought was that a bow is not the same thing as a buckle (although they may both be used to hold clothing on one's person). Then I realized that bow and buckle are being used in the sense of to bend.

Signing off for today - Falcon

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Tuesday, February 16, 2010 (DT 26072)

This puzzle was originally published Thursday, October 29, 2009 in The Daily Telegraph


I thought today's puzzle was of a medium level of difficulty. However, I did make an error on the solution to one clue.

Today's Glossary

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

Bath - a city in Somerset, England

nick - verb 2 Brit. informal steal.

nit - noun informal 2 Brit. a stupid person.

rot - noun 5 informal nonsense; rubbish: don’t talk rot.

short - noun 1 Brit. informal a strong alcoholic drink, especially spirits, served in small measures. [In North America, this would be called a shot]

Today's Links

Libellule's review of today's puzzle may be found at Big Dave's Telegraph Crossword Blog [DT 26072].

Commentary on Today's Puzzle

11a Conductor's chosen stick, eager to start (9)

Here "chosen" means ELECT, in the sense of, for example, "President elect" (the status of the winning candidate between the American presidential election in November and the inauguration the following January).

19a Crew right to welcome mature person in charge (7)

Here, one must determine whether "crew" is a noun or a verb. If it is a noun, it would indicate men; however, if it is a verb, it would be man. In this clue, despite being a noun in the surface reading, "crew" is a verb in the cryptic reading.

4d Note impression on Bath after getting out (5,4)

The capital letter on Bath may be an attempt to misdirect us to the city of Bath, although the clue, in reality, seems to concern a bath tub. "Note impression" is a cryptic reference to a mark on a note (or, more specifically) the paper on which the note is written.

20d Bill for work before leaving (6)

In this double definition, the solution is NOTICE, one definition is "bill" (as an advertising poster), and the second definition is "work before leaving". In the second definition, the word notice is used in a sense related to the way it is used in "give notice (to an employer of an intention to quit one's employment)". I have a couple of ideas regarding the usage here - which seems rather unusual to me. My first thought was that the word notice may be used in Britain to designate the period between when notice is given and employment terminates. However, I was not able to confirm that in any of the sources that I consulted. Another theory is that a letter of resignation (notice) is a written work (as a novel might be called a work of fiction) that is produced "before leaving".

23d Join keen beginner and fool (4)

Libellule's review informed me that the solution is not KNOT - which made me feel like a nit.

Signing off for today - Falcon

Monday, February 15, 2010

Monday, February 15, 2010 (DT 26071)

This puzzle was originally published Wednesday, October 28, 2009 in The Daily Telegraph


I found it to be a moderately easy puzzle today. However, between watching the Olympics and entertaining out-of-town visitors, I'm afraid that I'm a bit late in posting this edition of the blog.

Today's Glossary

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

Grantham - a town in Lincolnshire, England

Lincs. - abbreviation Lincolnshire: a county in England

leg - noun 7 cricket a (also leg side) the side of the field that is to the left of a right-handed batsman or to the right of a left-handed batsman

off - noun 2 cricket the side of a field towards which the batsman's feet are pointing, usually the bowler's left [i.e., to the right of a right-handed batsman]

By extrapolation from the above:
  • on - noun cricket the side of a field away from which the batsman's feet are pointing, usually the bowler's right [i.e., to the left of a right-handed batsman]

  • Note: For some unknown reason, the online version of Chambers does not include a definition for "on" as a noun corresponding to the above definition of "off". I have therefore extrapolated the definition of "on" above. However, from experience of previous puzzles, I am confident that in cricket, ON = LEG.
pin table - Brit. pinball machine

up - adverb 9 formal to or at university • up at Oxford.

Today's Links

Tilsit's review of today's puzzle may be found at Big Dave's Telegraph Crossword Blog [DT 26071].

Commentary on Today's Puzzle

10a Assess greatness at a higher level (4,2)

Only those who make the effort to read through the fairly lengthy comments on Big Dave's site would notice that a couple of writers disagree with Tilsit's explanation for this clue. The alternative explanation (which happens to correspond to my own understanding of the wordplay) is:

SIZE UP (assess) /\ SIZE (greatness) UP (at a higher level)

13a Go faster than posse and get free (4,2,3,3)

For North Americans, a good part of the challenge (and much of the enjoyment) comes from deciphering obscure (to those of us on this side of the Atlantic) British expressions. It is therefore always interesting to see the reaction of the Brits when the odd Americanism creeps into a puzzle, as today with STEP ON THE GAS. One visitor to Big Dave's site writes, in fairly typical fashion, "13a is a horrible americanism, something that should be banned from all crosswords."

21a Examine odd person in suit (4)

As Tilsit points out, this is a triple definition. The solution is CASE, with the definitions being "examine" as in "case the joint", "odd person" as in "He's a real case", and "suit" as in "taking a case to court".

Signing off for today - Falcon

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Saturday, February 13, 2010 - Misdirections


Misdirection is certainly one of the main goals (if not the main goal) for setters of cryptic crossword puzzles. In today's puzzle, Cox and Rathvon, give us not one - but two - bum steers.

I must say that, after solving this puzzle, I will never look at baked beans the same way again.

Solution to Today's Puzzle

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

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

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

9a PAT C(AS)H - AS (playing; e.g., Judy Garland as Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz) contained in (with ... outside) PATCH (eye covering); Pat Cash - retired Australian professional tennis player who won the men's singles title at Wimbledon in 1987.

10a PI(AN|IS)T - {AN (article) IS} contained in (in) PIT

11a NO_H - NOAH (ark captain) minus (forgoes) A; Noh - noun traditional Japanese masked drama with dance and song.

12a {CENTRE STAGE}* - anagram (bum) of STEER CAN GET

13a FAR(C)E - FARE (price) containing (is about) C (Roman numeral for 100)

14a IMBALANCE* - anagram (breaking) of MAIN CABLE

16a R(ASP)ING - ASP (snake) contained in (in) RING (loop)

18a KESTREL* - anagram (after exercising) of ELK REST

20a CUR|TS|EYED - CUR (dog) TS (Eliot) EYED (watched); T. S. Eliot - American-born English poet, playwright, and literary critic

22a RUG|B|Y - RUG (wig) plus (with) B (blue) plus (and) Y (yellow)

24a {SECRET AGENT}* - anagram (bum) of STEER CAN GET

26a ROW - double definition; "seating assignment" and "quarrel"

28a LINE(MA)N - MA (Mom) contained in (dressed in) LINEN (sheets)

29a NIGH|TIE - NIGH (near) TIE (neckwear)


1d SPIN_ - SPINE (part of a book's cover) minus E (most of the way; i.e., use only the first four letters of the word "spine")

2d ET(C)HER - ETHER (gas) containing C (chemical symbol for carbon) /\ ETCHER (impressing one; i.e., one who impresses designs into a material)

3d TANCREDI* - anagram (odd) of DIRECT AN; Tancredi - an opera by Gioachino Rossini

4d THIN|KINGLY - THIN (slender) plus (and) KINGLY (regal)

5d SPAR< - reversal (returning) of RAPS (blows) 6d DAMS|EL - DAMS (blocks) EL (train in Chicago); EL - elevated rapid transit system serving the city of Chicago

7d LI(L AB)NER - LAB (laboratory) contained in (aboard) LINER (ship); Li'l Abner - satirical American comic strip, written and drawn by Al Capp, featuring a fictional clan of hillbillies in the impoverished town of Dogpatch, Kentucky.

8d ET|HE|REALLY - ET (E.T.) in front of (precedes) HE (the boy) REALLY (very); E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial - 1982 American science fiction film

13d FORECAST|LE_ - FORECAST (predict) LE (pair of LEaks; i.e., first two letters of the word "leaks")

15d {BAKED BEANS}* - anagram (disturbed) of NAKED BABES

17d SA(RACE)NS - RACE (hurry) contained in (inside) SANS (without); Saracen - a term used by the ancient Romans to refer to people who inhabited the deserts near the Roman province of Syria and who were distinct from Arabs. The term was later applied to Arab peoples and by the time of European chroniclers during the time of the Crusades came to be synonymous for Muslim.

19d STRA(TEG<)Y - TEG {reversal (back) of GET} contained in (in) STRAY (errant)

21d STEAMY* - anagram (awfully) of MY TEAS

23d G(Y)RATE - Y (fork; as a fork in the road) contained in (in) GRATE (lattice)

25d _ARNO_ - hidden in (essential to) bARN Owls

27d W|HEN - W (white) HEN (chicken)

Signing off for today - Falcon

Friday, February 12, 2010

Friday, February 12, 2010 (DT 26070)

This puzzle was originally published Tuesday, October 27, 2009 in The Daily Telegraph


I was able to work through most of today's puzzle before I had to resort to my Tool Chest in order to complete the north west quadrant.

Today's Glossary

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

old boy - noun 1 Brit a former male pupil of a school (abbreviation OB)

split - verb 5 (split on) Brit. informal betray the secrets of or inform on.

sup1 - verb dated or N. English take (drink or liquid food) by sips or spoonfuls. noun a sip.

Right Reverend - noun or adjective a title of a bishop (abbreviation RR)

Today's Links

Gazza's review of today's puzzle may be found at Big Dave's Telegraph Crossword Blog [DT 26070].

Commentary on Today's Puzzle

9a Where volume may be turned up? (9)

I immediately recognized that "volume" referred to a book. Unfortunately, I thought that "turned up" might mean lying flat and open on a bookstand (the kind that is similar to a lectern), as one might find a dictionary in the reference section of a library. However, it would appear that "be turned up" actually means "be found". In the location needed for this solution, the volume would probably more likely to be standing up than turned up.

By the way, isn't it rather ironic that books typically lie down on bookstands!

10a City of Italy in fashion (5)

I initially figured that this was a cryptic definition for Milan, the fashion capital of Italy. However, when I eventually solved some of the intersecting clues, I realized that the city must be TURIN. However, in the process I neglected to decipher the wordplay in the clue (which you can find in Gazza's review). In case you are wondering, I is the International Vehicle Registration Code for Italy.

12a Worth catching performance's run through (8)

Here is another case where my first stab at a solution (REHEARSE) proved to be incorrect. Although I was unable to find an explanation to make the wordplay produce that solution, I know from experience that that does not necessarily mean a solution is wrong. As was the case with 10a, solving the intersecting clues put me back on the right path.

13a Letting concrete set around middle of lintel (6)

Although the usage sounds very unnatural to my ear, a letting is apparently "property that is leased or rented out or let" [Ref: Thesaurus, noun 1]. I'm not sure if one would use the word as a straight substitute for RENTAL, or not. Instead of saying "The car I'm driving is a rental", would one would say "The car I'm driving is a letting."?

15a Carp about always getting agitated (8)

If, like me, your first thought was that "getting agitated" might be an anagram indicator, you should try another approach.

18d Train set (6)

My explanation varied from the one that Gazza gives in his review. We are pretty much in agreement on the first part (train = SCHOOL). However, for the second part, I relied the following definition from Oxford:
  • set - verb 3 cause or instruct (someone) to do something.
However, Gazza must have the correct explanation as the setter, RayT, drops by Big Dave's blog to give him a seal of endorsement. I do recognize that if my explanation were to be correct, some might well argue that the double definition is exceedingly weak in that the meaning for set would be too close (in fact, virtually identical) to the meaning of train.

22d Sheets of novel in English (5)

If you are having a hard time seeing why "of" is a hidden word indicator, try replacing it by an equivalent phrase such as "belonging to" or "found in".

25d Man, say, hearing 'I will', shortly (4)

The surface reading suggests a bridegroom, standing at the front of the church, awaiting the imminent arrival of the bride. However, this being a cryptic crossword clue, the real message is entirely different (as Gazza explains in his review).

Signing off for today - Falcon

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Thursday, February 11, 2010 (DT 26069)

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

The National Post has skipped DT 26068 which was published on Saturday, October 24, 2009 in The Daily Telegraph.


For the most part, it was a relatively easy puzzle - quite typical of those published on Monday in the Daily Telegraph. However, 1a gave me a bit of a headache and I couldn't get my mind around 8d before peeking at Big Dave's hint.

Today's Glossary

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

aye2 - adverb archaic or Scottish always; still.

paracetamol - noun Brit. a synthetic compound used to relieve pain and reduce fever. [The North American name for this drug is acetaminophen].

- PHRASE have off (or down) pat have (something) memorized perfectly.

slate - verb 2 Brit. informal criticize severely.

Today's Links

Big Dave's review of today's puzzle may be found at Big Dave's Telegraph Crossword Blog [DT 26069].

Commentary on Today's Puzzle

1a Painstaking preparation gives father the lead before ill-prepared male actor (11)

Even guessing that a "painstaking preparation" would be a pain relieving drug did not help me much here. I did manage to find the solution through a search for words matching the checking letters. This led to the discovery that the drug that we know as acetaminophen is called PARACETAMOL in Britain.

8a Evergreen creepers (5,6)

This is a cryptic definition having as its solution GRASS SNAKES. I thought perhaps "evergreen" was intended to suggest grass and "creepers" to refer to SNAKES. However, as grass snakes are typically (if not exclusively) green, evergreen could also be a reference to grass snakes. In this area, the later would be more appropriate as grass is rarely "evergreen". Mine is usually not green in July (this past year being an exception). Of course, in Britain, known for its damp climate, grass may well be evergreen.

28a Newspaper journalist sent a message (11)

I somehow got it into my head that I was looking for an anagram (sent) of NEWSPAPER ED (journalist). It actually seemed quite plausible, as a solution of this form would satisfy the checking letters. After wasting a bit of time down this dead end path, I found the solution through a search for words matching the checking letters. It turns out that this clue contains a charade rather than an anagram, and furthermore that we are looking for a specific British newspaper (the correct one should be pretty obvious).

22a Fire - or part of one (7)

The term "electric fire" used in Big Dave's review is (as best as I can determine) the British term for what in North America would be known as an electric fireplace insert. Looking at the website of a British seller of such products, I note that both electric fireplaces and electric fires are available. From this I assume that the term electric fireplace would have the same meaning in Britain as in North America, and that an electric fire would just be the insert that fits into an existing fireplace.

By the way, I note that this identical clue appeared in DT 26045. I also followed up on this clue the next day in my blog dealing with DT 26046.

8d Keep in mind that Murphy can supply (3,2,3,3)

For this clue, I needed to peek at Big Dave's hint before the penny dropped. I believe a number of factors caused me to stumble on this one. Most importantly, I had never heard the "GET IT OFF PAT" version of this expression; I was only familiar with the "Get it down pat" version. Secondly, while cryptically the expression "Get it down (or off) pat" (memorize completely) could certainly mean "keep in mind", the expression "keep in mind" in everyday usage has a somewhat different sense (i.e., take into consideration) and I failed to make the leap. Furthermore, wrongly supposing that Murphy might be used here in its sense as slang for a potato did not help. I think Murphy is simply being used as a typical name for an Irishman - as is Pat. As far as I can determine, no reference to any Pat Murphy is implied, although Wikipedia does have articles dealing with a number of individuals named Patrick Murphy, including the Irish giant (although he was actually 7' 3" in height, a bit of Irish hyperbole extended that to as much as 9' 3"), an Irish theologian and an Irish politician. I've ruled out the various North American and Australian entrants.

9d Here speaks a writer for a change (11)

This clue violates what I had heretofore believed to be a fundamental tenet of cryptic crossword clues - that the definition is always either the first or the last part of the clue. However, in this clue, the definition sits smack dab in the middle of the wordplay. I suppose it only goes to prove the old adage that there is an exception to every rule - or, as Rufus (the setter of the puzzle) writes on Big Dave's site "I like to think crossword rules aren’t set in stone".

It seems that this clue can really only be parsed (using my technique) by rearranging it:

HERE SPEAKS A for a change (anagram indicator) /\ SHAKESPEARE (writer)

where the solution is SHAKESPEARE, the definition is writer, and the wordplay is an anagram (for a change) of HERE SPEAKS A.

19d Holy food from Switzerland? (7)

As I could find no evidence that this Swiss cheese is traditionally produced by monks or other religious community (which I suspected was being implied by the word "holy"), it would seem that GRUYERE might better be described as holey food than holy food. Perhaps the clue should have been phrased "Holy food from Switzerland, it's heard." [I see from Big Dave's blog that I appear to have jumped on a bandwagon with that comment.]

Actually, even the holey part might be called into question. According to Wikipedia "French Gruyère cheeses must have holes according to French agricultural law, whereas holes are usually not present in Swiss Gruyère."; however, the article does go on to say "When fully aged (five months to a year) it tends to have small holes and cracks ...". I also note that Franny, a resident of Switzerland and visitor to Big Dave's site, points out that "the cheese with holes is not Gruyère but Emmenthal".

Signing off for today - Falcon

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Wednesday, February 10, 2010 (DT 26067)

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


I thought that it was a fairly easy puzzle today, in that I was able to complete the puzzle without the aid of my Tool Chest (although I did need to consult a dictionary to verify that several of my entries were, in fact, real words). Therefore, I was a bit surprised to see that Gazza rated the puzzle 3* for difficulty.

Revisiting Monday's Blog

If you found a paragraph in Monday's blog to be incomprehensible, you have good reason to have been confused. I somehow managed to scramble my ins and ons. I'm not sure what I was thinking at the time I wrote it (obviously, I was not thinking at all!). I would like to thank Peter Biddlecombe (who occasionally leaves comments under the alias xwd_fiend) for bringing this to my attention. I have now reworked the material and hopefully it now makes more sense.

Today's Glossary

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

Sir Alfred Jules Ayers
- British philosopher

cave2 - exclamation school slang, dated beware. keep cave to keep watch; to be a lookout. (ETYMOLOGY: 19c: Latin, imperative of cavere to beware.)

Co-op - popular name for The Co-operative food, a large food retailer in the U.K.

daily - noun 2 (also daily help) Brit. dated a domestic cleaner.

Daily Mirror - British tabloid newspaper

The Isis - the name given to a part of the River Thames flowing through the city of Oxford.

maiden (abbreviation M) - noun 3 (also maiden over) Cricket an over in which no runs are scored.

pothole - noun 4. a cave opening vertically from the ground surface.

University of Stirling - a university in Stirling, Scotland

Walter (Wat) Tyler - leader of the English peasants revolt of 1381.

Today's Links

Gazza's review of today's puzzle may be found at Big Dave's Telegraph Crossword Blog [DT 26067].

Commentary on Today's Puzzle

12a Money for old rope sometimes (4)

This is a hidden word clue with the solution, PESO, hidden in "roPE SOmetimes". Clearly, "money" is the definition and I would take "for" to be a linkword. That leaves only the word "old" to be the hidden word indicator. Gazza comments on Big Dave's site that "There doesn’t appear to be any “hidden” indicator in the clue" - an opinion on which he appears to be supported by others, including Anax (a setter in his own right). The only meaning for old that I could find that might possibly justify its use as a hidden word indicator is:
  • adjective 5 worn out or shabby through long use
I suppose that if sufficient letters were to be worn off the outsides of "roPE SOmetimes", one would be left with PESO. However, I do note that the wear would need to be pretty uneven!

18a Goddess gets a flower in Oxford (4)

Just remember that, in the realm of cryptic crosswords, a flower is (usually) not a plant, but a river (i.e., something that flows).

21a Everyone wants philosopher to be a bringer of comfort (7)

In this clue, the solution is ALLAYER with the definition being "a bringer of comfort" and the wordplay being ALL (everyone) plus (wants) AYER (philosopher). The clue has an explicit linkword in "to be". Thus, we can write this clue as:

21a Everyone wants philosopher /to be\ a bringer of comfort (7)

Since "wants" is essentially equivalent to saying "needs" or "must have", the cryptic reading of the clue is really "ALL must have AYER (added to it, by implication) to become ALLAYER.

22a Head of college left prematurely, evidently (7)

To elaborate on Gazza's explanation, note that here C is not an abbreviation for college, but rather comes from the phrase "head of college" (i.e., the first letter of the word college). This device would be well-known to experienced solvers, but perhaps may not be evident to newcomers.

5d Rely on a run being in the first part of the programme? (5,2)

This clue can be separated into wordplay (rely on a run) and definition (in the first part of the programme) as follows:

5d Rely on a run /being\ in the first part of the programme? (5,2)

The linkword "being" indicates equality of the two components.

This is an anagram-type clue, where the anagram indicator is "run" and the fodder on which it operates is "RELY ON A" producing the solution EARLY ON. An anagram indicator is a word that suggests that one must rearrange the letters to find the solution. Common words used for this purpose are verbs that suggest the idea of sorting, mixing, movement, control, etc. At first glance, one might be inclined to question run as an anagram indicator. However, Chambers lists 43 numbered entries for run as a verb, with a number of sub-entries within these. A case could probably be made for several of these meanings of run as an anagram indicator, among them being:
  • 6 tr & intr to move or make something move in a specified way or direction or with a specified result
  • 16 metallurgy a tr & intr to melt or fuse; b to form (molten metal) into bars, etc; to cast.
  • 17 tr & intr to come to a specified state or condition by, or as if by, flowing or running
  • 19 a tr & intr said of machines, etc: to operate or function; b computing to execute (a program).
19d Your crossword setter not exciting? A bit of a brain! (7)

Phrases and words such as "your crossword setter", "setter" and "compiler" are references to the creator of the puzzle and usually must be replaced by I or ME to find the solution.

Signing off for today - Falcon