Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Wednesday, March 31, 2010 (DT 26109)

This puzzle by Giovanni was originally published Friday, December 11, 2009 in The Daily Telegraph


I came close to completing this puzzle unaided but was forced to open my Tool Chest to solve the final four or five clues. It turned out to be mainly a few British expressions and geographical references that I needed help with. However, I felt somewhat consoled on reading the comments on Big Dave's site to find that even some of those from Southern England seemed to have trouble with Northern English geography.

Today's Glossary

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

Bury - a town in Greater Manchester, England

D2 - abbreviation 2 IVR (International Vehicle Registration code): Deutschland (German), Germany

Charles Lamb - English essayist

opener - noun 2 a person or thing that opens or begins, for example the first goal in a match or a cricketer who opens the batting

Sir Karl Popper - British philosopher

(Corps of) Royal Engineers
- (abbreviation RE) a corps of the British Army

ripping - adjective Brit. informal, dated excellent

side - noun [15] Brit. informal boastful or pretentious manner or attitude (Note: although explicit numbering vanishes after 9, this is the fifteenth definition listed for side as a noun)

trews - plural noun chiefly Brit. trousers

Venus de Milo - ancient Greek statue on display in the Louvre Museum in Paris - especially renowned for its missing arms

Today's Links
Gazza's review of today's puzzle may be found at Big Dave's Crossword Blog [DT 26109].

Commentary on Today's Puzzle

28a Dispute's terrible - this examiner makes an appearance (6)

Keep in mind that British setters do not necessarily adhere to the American convention that requires a definition to be either the initial or final element of the clue.

29a Side on journey given somewhere to land (8)

I have to admit that I had no idea why "side" might mean AIRS until I read Gazza's review.

10d Horticultarists must get across lake? They sound angry (8)

I hadn't noticed the spelling mistake in the clue, so when Gazza mentioned it in his review I thought maybe it had been corrected when the puzzle was syndicated. However, that is not the case - the National Post has dutifully reproduced the clue exactly as it appeared in The Daily Telegraph.

19d Person providing the property, he having departed? (7)

This clue can be read in two ways. In one reading, it is a cryptic definition of a person who has died bequeathing property in his will. In the other reading, we see "the property" being THE ESTATE with "HE having departed" instructing us to delete the letters HE from this to get TESTATE.

Signing off for today - Falcon

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Tuesday, March 30, 2010 (DT 26108)

This puzzle was originally published Thursday, December 10, 2009 in The Daily Telegraph

As a couple of regulars to Big Dave's site point out, the date of publication of this puzzle in Britain (December 10) marked the anniversary of the date in 1948 on which the United Nations ratified the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.


I think today's puzzle was almost perfectly matched to my solving ability. Although I did find it to be a fair challenge, I was able to complete it without the need of any external aids. However, I would say that it was certainly near the upper limit of my unassisted skill level. I was, therefore, not surprised to see that Libellule rated it only two stars for difficulty.

Today's Glossary

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

board - [Collins English Dictionary] noun 4. Archaic a table, esp one used for eating at, and esp when laden with food

duck3 - noun Cricket a batsman’s score of nought (ORIGIN short for duck’s egg, used for the figure 0)

rumble - verb 4 Brit. informal discover (an illicit activity or its perpetrator)

Today's Links

Libellule's review of today's puzzle may be found at Big Dave's Crossword Blog [DT 26108].

If, on reading the comments posted on Big Dave's site, you are left scratching your head by the term NINA, you can find out what it means at Big Dave's Crossword Blog [DT 26044].

Commentary on Today's Puzzle

20a Where the skipper might find a game of cards (6)

The first thing to pop into my head was ON DECK, but - as I quickly realized - that candidate solution does not satisfy the numeration criterion.

23a Criminals executed for swindles (5)

It would undoubtedly benefit you to recall that beheading was the traditional form of capital punishment practiced in Britain.

5d One gets driven on course (4,4)

I spent too long driving around in a GOLF CART when I should have been teeing off.

8d Almost recognize material for plant (8)

It is not bad enough that this insidious weed has infested my lawn, it now seems to have spread to my crossword puzzles.

21d Knock quietly or finally attempt connection (7)

This clue contains a commonly encountered member of a family of musical directions which include:
  • piano2 (abbreviation p) - adverb & adjective Music soft or softly, quiet or quietly
  • pianissimo (abbreviation pp) - adverb & adjective Music very soft or very softly, very quiet or very quietly
  • forte2 (abbreviation f) - adverb & adjective Music loud or loudly
  • fortissimo (abbreviation ff) - adverb & adjective Music very loud or very loudly
Signing off for today - Falcon

Monday, March 29, 2010

Monday, March 29, 2010 (DT 26107)

This puzzle was originally published Wednesday, December 9, 2009 in The Daily Telegraph


Today's puzzle was one of those where one could work in one corner without much interaction with the other corners. I readily progressed through three corners before becoming bogged down for a time in the northwest.

Today's Glossary

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

big end - noun Brit in an internal combustion engine: the larger end of the main connecting rod

gen - noun Brit. informal information

noodle2 - noun 1 colloq a simpleton 2 colloq a blockhead 3 N Amer the head

para1 - noun informal a paratrooper

pot1 - noun 10 colloq a trophy, especially a cup

Ripon - a city in North Yorkshire, England on the Ure River

Tate Modern - Britain's national museum of international modern art

Today's Links

Tilsit's review of today's puzzle may be found at Big Dave's Crossword Blog [DT 26107].

By the way, I only just noticed today that Big Dave changed the title of his blog about five weeks ago - so I have modified the title of my link to his site accordingly. I realize that I'm quite a bit behind the times in doing this - but, then again, with the syndication delay for the Daily Telegraph puzzle, we on this side of the pond are accustomed to being several weeks behind the Brits.

Commentary on Today's Puzzle

18d Mysterious coteries formed (8)

Ironically, a very similar clue relying on this same anagram appeared in a Sunday London Times puzzle published yesterday in the Ottawa Citizen. I can therefore empathize with Tilsit's remark "One of those clues that is fun when you first see it, but for me, it’s a bit hackneyed now".

Signing off for today - Falcon

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Saturday, March 27, 2010 - Story Time


In today's puzzle, Cox and Rathvon present us with a fine collection of stories for our enjoyment.

Commentary on Today's Puzzle

14d Swarthmore developed soil aerators (10)

Swarthmore College is a small (1500 students) but highly regarded liberal arts college located in Swarthmore, Pennsylvania. While seemingly better known for its studies in international relations than agricultural research, its supposed interest in "soil aerators" may stem from the fact that "Swarthmore's campus and the Scott Arboretum are coextensive".

This institution would likely be unknown to me if not for the following mention in The Mamas & the Papas song Creeque Alley:
When Cass was a sophomore, planned to go to Swarthmore
But she changed her mind one day.
Standin' on the turnpike, thumb out to hitchhike,
"Take me to New York right away."

22d Old horse carries you in Italy (6)

I almost flubbed this clue, thinking that the solution was CAYUSE, rather than MATURE.

In actuality, the definition is "old" and the solution is MATURE. The wordplay is MARE (horse) containing (carries) TU (you in Italy; i.e., Italian word meaning "you").

I originally had the definition as "old horse" with the solution being CAYUSE. According to Wikipedia, cayuse is an archaic term - thus accounting for the reference to old horse. Perhaps the term is archaic, as I learned it from watching old Westerns (movies) and they do seem to belong to a vanishing (if not already vanished) genre.

As for the wordplay, I really had no idea. I could not identify any sort of suitable conveyance that might carry one in Italy (being pretty sure that it could not be a gondola). However, realizing that my knowledge of Italian is pretty weak, I continued stumbling around in pursuit of a solution premised on that line of thinking. I even went so far as to consider that it might be some sort of "sounds like" clue where cayuse sounds like CHI YOUSE (a New York mobster of Italian descent speaking Greek? or, possibly, studying statistics?).

Finally, just before clicking the "Publish Post" button, I decided to take one more crack at the clue - and Eureka! - I met with success.

Solution to Today's Puzzle

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

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

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

1a STOR(M)Y - STORY containing (about) M (March's beginning; i.e., beginning letter of the word "March")

4a F(R)ICTION - FICTION (stories) containing (about) R (winter's last; i.e., last letter of the word "winter")

9a BE(ET RE)D - ETRE (Parisian to be; i.e., French word meaning "to be") contained in (caught in) BED

11a LITHGOW* - anagram (playing) of WITH LOG; John Lithgow: American actor

12a T(AG S)ALE - TALE (story) containing (about) AGS (Auditor General's)

13a GATOR~ - sounds like (audibly) GAITER (spat)

15a AJAR - A JAR (cookie container)

16a F(ACTOR)ABLE - FABLE (story) containing (about) ACTOR (thespian)

20a TI(NA| TURN)ER - TIER (story) containing (about) NA (North American) TURN (twist); Tina Turner: American singer

21a PEON* - anagram (position) of OPEN

23a WADER* - anagram (dotty) of DREW A

25a LI(ME AD)E - LIE (story) containing (about) MEAD (honey drink)

27a _R|A|VIOLI_ - hidden in (in) humouR A VIOLInist

28a S(C)UPPER - C (bit of champagne; i.e., the first letter in the word "champagne") contained in (amid) SUPPER (meal)

29a SA(RAT|O)GA - SAGA (story) containing (about) {RAT (traitor) + (and) O (old)}; Battles of Saratoga: decisive battles in the American Revolutionary War (or, as it is widely known outside the U.S., the American War of Independence)

30a Y(E)ARNS - YARNS (stories) containing (about) E (Eastern)


1d SOBS* - anagram (breaks down) of BOSS

2d OVERT|RAIN - OVERT (public) RAIN (shower)

3d MIR(AG)E - AG (silver; i.e., chemical symbol for the element silver) contained in (in) MIRE (bog)

5d RILKE - RILE (upset) containing (about) K (kay; i.e., the 11th letter of the alphabet); Rainer Maria Rilke - Bohemian-Austrian poet

6d CATE|GORY - CATE (Australian actress Cate Blanchett) preceding (before) GORY (blood-splattering)

7d IN|GOT - IN (pair of Incas; i.e., the first two letters of the word "Incas") GOT (acquired)

8d {NEW ORLEANS}* - anagram (changed) of LONE ANSWER

10d {DEAD AIR}* - anagram (broadcast) of I DREAD A

14d EARTHWORMS* - anagram (developed) of SWARTHMORE; Swathmore College: liberal arts institution located in Swarthmore, Pennsylvania

17d THE(RM)OS - RM (room) contained in (inside) THEOS (Theo's)

18d B(EEK)EEPER - BEEPER (horn) containing (covering) EEK (sound of a scream)

19d STAR|T OUT - STAR (celebrity) TOUT (advertiser)

22d MA(TU)RE - MARE (horse) containing TU (you in Italy; i.e., Italian word meaning "you")

24d DOVER* - anagram (off) of DROVE; Dover: a town in Kent, England, known for its white chalk cliffs

25d _LY|IN|G_ - hidden in (keeps) famiLY IN Germany

26d EROS< - reversal (back) of SORE (aching)

Signing off for today - Falcon

Friday, March 26, 2010

Friday, March 26, 2010 (DT 26106)

This puzzle created by Ray T was originally published Tuesday, December 8, 2009 in The Daily Telegraph


Many of the clues today seemed to be especially well crafted with the smooth surface reading very effectively obscuring the underlying cryptic meaning. Sometimes the surface reading of clues is so awkward or improbable that the cryptic reading almost stands out like a sore thumb - but that is certainly not the case today. All in all, a very enjoyable puzzle - even though (or, perhaps, because) it took a while to finish it.

Today's Glossary

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

git - noun Brit. informal an unpleasant or contemptible person

mayflower - noun Brit the blossom of the hawthorn tree (and, perhaps, the tree itself)

prat - noun informal 1 Brit. an incompetent or stupid person 2 a person’s bottom

quarrel2 - a bolt (arrow) for a crossbow

John Redwood - British Conservative Party politician

shebeen - noun 1 an illicit liquor-shop 2 in Ireland: illicit and usually home-made alcohol

yob - noun Brit. informal a rude and loutish young man [ORIGIN from boy (spelt backwards)]

Today's Links

Gazza's review of today's puzzle may be found at Big Dave's Telegraph Crossword Blog [DT 26106].

There is a long discussion in today's comments on the relative merits of a quick solve versus a lengthy solve. I would say crosswords are like sex - not very satisfying it they're over too fast.

Commentary on Today's Puzzle

23a Soldier on exercise, about to get cut off (9)

The definition is "soldier on" with the solution being PERSEVERE. The wordplay is either (take your choice):

(1) PE|R(SEVER)E: PE (exercise; i.e., physical education) plus RE (about) containing (to get) SEVER (cut off)

(2) PE|RSEVERE*: PE (exercise; i.e., physical education) plus an anagram (off) of {RE (about) + (to get) SEVER (cut)}

I initially saw the anagram while solving the puzzle, but noticed the container possibility when I sat down to write the blog.

Sometimes words like "get" flag an anagram and sometimes they signal a charade. I suppose that in the real world this would be equivalent to the difference between placing an order at a bar (in which case, a glass gets [filled with] beer) and building an addition on one's house (in which case, the house gets a wing [added on]).

25a Egg plants? (7)

While I quickly realized the intent of the setter in creating this cryptic clue, I spent considerable effort looking for something like a hen or chicken before finally finding the correct egg producer.

26a Fancy one finding silver in lode (7)

In his review, Gazza comments "I had some difficulty equating mine with lode ...". However, I suspect that he may have, as was my first inclination, spent his time searching for unfamiliar definitions of lode rather than uncommon definitions of mine. The Free Online Dictionary defines mine as "A deposit of ore or minerals in the earth or on its surface" [American Heritage Dictionary, mine1 n. 2.] and "(Mining & Quarrying) any deposit of ore or minerals" [Collins English Dictionary, mine2 n 2.]. The definition of lode (a vein of metal ore in the earth), while definitely being quite a bit more restrictive in scope, would clearly fall within the range of this definition. That is, while every lode would be a mine (using this definition), not every mine (again using this definition) would necessarily be a lode.

3d Step on it?! (5)

Question marks and exclamation points are used by setters to indicate that the clue may be a bit off the wall, or as the Brits would say OTT (over the top). That is, it is one that requires more than a bit of lateral thinking - beyond that normally required in a cryptic clue. Here, we have both - so I surmised that this clue must be a real doozie.

As Gazza points out, a RISER is the vertical part of a stair step, on which the step (or tread) sits (thus the step is on the riser). A riser is also a platform (which may be tiered) on a theatre stage on which performers (such as a choir) might stand (thus they would need to step on the riser).

6d Reshaping formal yew shrub (9)

In Britain, the blossom of the hawthorn (and, apparently, the tree itself) is known as the mayflower while, in North America, the plant we know as the mayflower (see image at right) is the trailing arbutus (which is the floral emblem of both Nova Scotia and Massachusetts). However, perhaps the trans-Atlantic variance is not that cut and dried as the online edition of Oxford defines mayflower to be the trailing arbutus without mentioning the hawthorn.

8d Socialist deal, perhaps, for Conservative politician (7)

"Socialist" is RED and "deal" is usually "fir or pine wood (as a building material)" or the port in Kent. Thus, I figured that I might be looking for a British Tory named Redwood or Redport, and with a bit of sleuthing I nabbed him.

By the way, it seems that to the Brits, deal is what we would call lumber (dimensional timber used as a building material). To Brits, lumber means "disused articles of furniture that inconveniently take up space". Thus, if a North American were to say "I can't get my car in the garage because it is full of lumber", he would probably mean that he is in the midst of a renovation project and his garage is being used to store building materials. A Brit on the other hand might be indicating "I've recently refurnished my house and all the old furniture is sitting in my garage".

21d Haggard woman lived on moonshine (7)

Whenever you see "Haggard" in cryptic crossword puzzles, it is a fairly good bet that it is a reference to British writer H. Rider Haggard. However, when you visit the local library in Cryptville you are likely to find that the only example of his work in circulation is his novel She, first published in 1887.

Signing off for today - Falcon

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Thursday, March 25, 2010 (DT 26105)

This puzzle by Rufus was originally published Monday, December 7, 2009 in The Daily Telegraph

The National Post has skipped DT 26104 which was published on Saturday, December 5, 2009 in The Daily Telegraph


While Rishi gave this puzzle three stars for difficulty, I would say that it may have been a bit easier than that - although many of the Brits certainly would not appear to agree with me, judging by the discussion on Big Dave's blog. I have found that cryptic crosswords exist in a realm where the old adage "What's sauce for the goose, is sauce for the gander" (where I may be putting a little different spin on this old saying) definitely does not apply. The maxim here would seem to be "One man's meat is another man's poison".

Today's Glossary

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

form - noun [10] Brit. a long bench without a back

it makes no odds - PHRASES informal, chiefly Brit. it does not matter

MB - abbreviation 1 Medicinae Baccalaureus (Latin), Bachelor of Medicine

rugby union (abbreviation RU) - noun a form of rugby played in teams of fifteen, traditionally strictly amateur but opened to professionalism in 1995

Westminster - a synonym for the Parliament of the United Kingdom derived from the name of the area of Central London in which the Houses of Parliament are located

Today's Links

Rishi's review of today's puzzle may be found at Big Dave's Telegraph Crossword Blog [DT 26105].

Commentary on Today's Puzzle

5d A crossword! (4)

This very concise clue seems to have given many solvers a hard time. In fact, many of them erroneously arrived at the solution CLUE. Luckily, I avoided that trap. The clue is a cryptic definition which the setter has emphasized with an exclamation mark at the end. The solution becomes more apparent if one translates the clue as "A word meaning cross". Crux (the Latin word for cross) is another name (in fact, it is the formal name) for the Southern Cross constellation and is also found (apparently rarely) in heraldry as a word for cross. However, those who failed to correctly solve this clue might tend to gravitate toward yet another meaning of the word, namely "a puzzling or apparently insoluble problem".

Signing off for today - Falcon

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Wednesday, March 24, 2010 (DT 26103)

This puzzle by Giovanni was originally published Friday, December 4, 2009 in The Daily Telegraph


Although Gazza put the level of difficulty for today's puzzle at four stars, I found it a bit easier than yesterday's puzzle, which Libellule rated as three stars. If, like me, you stumbled over a couple of pretty obscure British personalities, don't feel too bad - so did many of the Brits.

Today's Glossary

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

buffet - noun 2 a room or counter selling light meals or snacks [Note: although not flagged by Oxford as a Briticism, this is a meaning for the word that is new to me]

garden - noun 1 chiefly Brit. a piece of ground adjoining a house, typically cultivated to provide a lawn and flowerbeds
Note: In the U.K., the term garden is applied to what in North America would be called a yard. In North America, the term garden would generally be used in relation to an area of land specifically used to grow flowers or vegetables. The term flower garden would generally imply a fairly large area, while a smaller area either adjacent to a house or in the middle of a lawn would probably be referred to as a flower bed. The term garden might also be used in the case of public parks or large estates to describe an area consisting of large (generally formal) flower beds set in an area of lawn. Although, in this case, the area of lawn would be considered part of the garden, it is essentially incidental to the main purpose of the property which is to display the flowers.
Notting Hill Gate - one of the main thoroughfares of Notting Hill, in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, a borough of London, England
Note: Being Britain, one should not be surprised to learn that although Notting Hill Gate is often abbreviated as Notting Hill, Notting Hill is distinct from Notting Hill, with Notting Hill (the street) being well south of the hill giving its name to the area known as Notting Hill. Could anything be more clear than that?
pant - verb 2 (usu. pant for) long for or to do something [Note: yet another meaning with which I was unfamiliar]

pants - plural noun 1 Brit. underpants or knickers 2 chiefly N. Amer. trousers
Note: In Britain, the term pants means underpants and what we call pants, they would call trousers. In North America, the terms pants and trousers are used interchangeably (with pants probably being used more frequently). To describe the item of underwear that the Brits call pants, we would generally say either undershorts (often shortened to just shorts) or underpants (in the case of men's garments) and panties or (perhaps) underpants (in the case of women's garments).
John Snagge - a long-time British newsreader and commentator on BBC Radio

Robert Tear - Welsh tenor

Today's Links

Gazza's review of today's puzzle may be found at Big Dave's Telegraph Crossword Blog [DT 26103].

Commentary on Today's Puzzle

24d Problem with erstwhile commentator John on the radio (4)

It was quite clear to me that the definition is "problem" and that the wordplay may be pointing to an individual named John whose surname sounds like (on the radio) the solution. My first guess was John Knox, although I was not entirely comfortable in characterizing him as a "commentator". Moreover, for this wordplay to work, the clue would seemingly need to read "problems" rather than "problem". KNOCKS (problems) would certainly sound like KNOX.

However, the correct solution turns out to be SNAG, with the person referenced being former BBC radio commentator John Snagge. In this case, the sounds like indicator (on the radio) also serves as a further hint to the identity of this individual.

Signing off for today - Falcon

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Tuesday, March 23, 2010 (DT 26102)

This puzzle was originally published Thursday, December 3, 2009 in The Daily Telegraph


I found this puzzle to be more difficult than the one yesterday, which seems to be quite the opposite view from the Brits.

Due to time constraints, I have posted this after reading Libellule's review but before having had the opportunity to read through the comments related to his review. I will be interested to see whether I've duplicated any or whether I'm in total disagreement with them.

Today's Glossary

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

hock - noun Brit. a dry white wine from the German Rhineland

nous - noun 1 Brit. informal practical intelligence

Royal Engineers (abbreviation RE) or sappers: noun 1 military engineers who lay or detect and disarm mines. 2 Brit. soldiers in the Corps of Royal Engineers

Territorial Army (abbreviation TA) - noun in the UK: a fully trained volunteer force intended to provide back-up to the regular army in cases of emergency

off one’s trolley - PHRASE Brit. informal mad; insane [Although this expression seems to be unique to the U.K., it would appear that Brits may share with us a similar phrase used in North America, "off one's rocker"]

Today's Links

Libellule's review of today's puzzle may be found at Big Dave's Telegraph Crossword Blog [DT 26102].

Commentary on Today's Puzzle

9a Church by West Coast city to charge rent (8)

A quick reading of this clue might cause one to question why "to charge" equates to RATE. "To charge" would certainly appear to be a verb, while I believe that charge and rate would need to be used as nouns to be synonyms (e.g., He asked the desk clerk to quote him the charge/rate for the hotel room?). The answer, I suspect, may be that "to" is not being used here to form the infinitive of a verb. Rather, it may well be a charade indicator, used to show that one thing is placed next to another, as in the expressions "put pen to paper", "put your shoulder to the wheel", or "have one's nose to the grindstone". Thus the clue would parse as:

CE (church; i.e., Church of England) beside (by; in this case, on the right hand side of) LA (west coast city; i.e., Los Angeles) next to (to: as discussed above) RATE (charge) /\ LACERATE (rent?)

However, I have difficulty with this clue, as it seems to me that lacerate should mean rend, not rent. Rent could mean either laceration (as a noun) or lacerated (as a verb).

4d One depends on freezing point (6)

I struggled with the wordplay here, with my problem arising from trying to analyze this as a regular cryptic clue rather than the cryptic definition which it is. The idea being conveyed is that the solution, ICICLE, represented in the clue by the pronoun "one", only forms (and continues to exist) when the temperature is below the freezing point. There is also an additional hint in the clue, in that an icicle may be considered to be a "freezing point" (i.e., a frozen pointed object).

5d Valley of angels flying without wings (4)

Although I admit that I arrived at the solution much in the same fashion described by Libellule in his review, I think if one were to strictly follow the wordplay, one should perform the anagram first (flying) followed by the removal of the outer letters (without wings). Thus one would first obtain AGLENS (or, if you prefer, SGLENA) from which stripping the first and last letters would produce GLEN. While, in this case, the order of operations does not matter, there are no doubt instances in which it would.

17d Politician - one embraced by the church (8)

I thought that this might be considered an &lit (all-in-one) clue, where one reading is as explained by Libellule and the second would be as a cryptic definition conveying the idea of "the name of a political position that also exists in the church".

19d Water under the bridge means a loss for this transporter (8)

It was only upon reading Libellule's review that I finally fully twigged to the wordplay here. I was looking for some sort of wordplay built around transforming the word "aqua" to get AQUEDUCT. However, it is a straight cryptic definition stating that water found under an aqueduct in all likelihood indicates that there is a leak in this structure used to transport water.

Signing off for today - Falcon

Monday, March 22, 2010

Monday, March 22, 2010 (DT 26101)

This puzzle was originally published Wednesday, December 2, 2009 in The Daily Telegraph


While I managed to complete today's puzzle, I found several of the clues to be more than a bit contrived - one's whose solution is more likely to generate a groan than a smile of satisfaction. Although Big Dave rated this puzzle five stars for difficulty, I must say that I personally did not find this one as hard as a number of previous puzzles.

Error in Today's Puzzle

Based on Big Dave's review, there would appear to be an error in today's puzzle at 12d which apparently should read:

12d Advance payments surrounding HQ depots which convert electricity (11)

In the National Post, the clue appears as "HO depots" rather than "HQ depots".

In Britain, SUBS are "advance payments", and "depots which convert electricity" would be SUBSTATIONS [and, (despite) being an electrical engineer by profession, I did not share Big Dave's concern with the wording here - I would think it is acceptable to say that one converts electricity from one voltage to another]. Big Dave questions why HQ means "station". Perhaps it is used in the sense of a police station. It seems that in police dramas, if the cops aren't hauling someone in to the precinct, they're taking them down to HQ.

With the error in the Post, I was left trying to make sense of HO. Did it mean Home Office and was electricity in Britain nationalized and under the control of the Home Office? Or was it the model railway gauge in which case a "HO depot" might be a model railway station.

Today's Glossary

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

it - Italian vermouth, as in the cocktail gin and it

niffnaff - A trifle; a knickknack. [Prov. Eng. and Scotch.]

sub - colloq noun 3 a small loan; an advance payment, eg from someone's wages to help them subsist

Today's Links

Big Dave's review of today's puzzle may be found at Big Dave's Telegraph Crossword Blog [DT 26101].

Commentary on Today's Puzzle

15a Star animal's not acting (4)

The definition is "star" and the solution is BEST. The wordplay is BEAST (animal) with the A removed (not acting). This was the last clue to be solved, and I was initially lumping this into the contrived category as I was thinking of acting in the context of the theatre. However, it then occurred to me that acting is likely being used here in the sense of temporarily filling a position. For example, when an employee working in the Canadian Public Service is temporarily filling the position of Director, they would be designated Acting Director, usually written as A/Director.

21a Diminutive person Nina's fine female at heart but very loud at the end (8)

I only found the word NIFFNAFF listed in one source. Although it certainly matches the wordplay, the definition in the clue doesn't match the definition given in the source (although it is close enough that one could imagine that the word might also take on that meaning).

8d Intimidate cook 'X', audibly unwell (8,3)

In his review, Big Dave says "as Rishi mentions below, the subsidiary indicator “audibly” is detached from “cook”, the word to which it applies". I had supposed that the homophone indicator (audibly) applied to the entire phrase "fry ten" produced by substituting for the original phrase in the clue "cook 'X'" (i.e., "cook 'X'" through substitution becomes "fry ten" which sounds like (audibly) FRIGHTEN).

16d More tight consuming English Navy's strong drink (9)

The definition is "strong drink" and the solution is STIFFENER. The wordplay is STIFFER (more tight) containing (consuming) E (English) N (Navy). The 's (standing for "is" in the cryptic reading) is a linkword.

I did not find this definition for stiffener in any dictionary. However, I did find it used in this fashion in an article entitled The Other Whiskey, Standing Up on Its Own in the New York Times which purports to provide an explanation for the origin of the name Irish Coffee.

The story goes that a group of trans-Atlantic airline passengers were forced by bad weather to lay over in Foynes, Ireland in 1942. "[W]hen they reached the little Foynes terminal, looking glum and dog-tired, they encountered Joe Sheridan, a chef in the restaurant there, who was evidently a kindly as well as an inventive man.

Deciding that they needed a stiffener, he combined strong black coffee, some sugar and a tot of good Irish whiskey, then floated a cap of thick, ivory-hued local cream on top.

'Hey, Buddy,' an American passenger is supposed to have asked the chef, 'is this Brazilian coffee?'

'No,' he is alleged to have responded, 'that's Irish coffee.'"

24d Material became crumpled in the middle (4)

I did not understand the wordplay here, as I did not know that ecru is a material (and, it seems, neither are any of the many dictionaries that I consulted aware of this fact). As far as I can determine, ecru is a colour (the colour of unbleached linen). However, Big Dave does describe it as "this material" so maybe it is so defined somewhere (undoubtedly in the unabridged version of Chambers). It would not be the first time that Chambers was found to contain definitions that seem to exist nowhere else in the world.

Signing off for today - Falcon

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Saturday, March 20, 2010 - Architecture for Dummies


Today's puzzle by Cox and Rathvon presented me with somewhat of a conundrum - as I was not able to discern any particular theme in the puzzle, I had difficulty in selecting a title for today's blog. Also, in a bit of a rum twist, these American setters dish up a couple of British expressions, as well as a word that surely only an architect, an archaeologist, or perhaps a classical scholar could be expected to know.

Today's Glossary

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

caryatid - noun Architecture a supporting pillar in the form of a draped female figure

lough - noun Anglo-Irish spelling of loch (either a lake or a long, narrow arm of the sea)

rum - adjective Brit. informal, dated odd; peculiar

Commentary on Today's Puzzle

25a The guy inside embraces Howard, the aviator (6)

Howard Hughes died a billionaire - but he may well have had Humble beginnings. Although the records are apparently contradictory, his place of birth may have been Humble, Texas.

Hughes, Chairman of Hughes Aircraft Company and the one-time owner of Trans World Airlines (TWA), was "an American aviator, engineer, industrialist, film producer, film director, philanthropist, and one of the wealthiest people in the world".

28a Potato, perhaps one sliding down a snowy slope? (5)

I am not sure if readers from overseas will be familiar with the sport of tubing. It involves sliding down a snow covered hill on a large rubber tube. It probably began by using old inner tubes from truck tires (or tyres for British readers) but there are now purpose-made tubes for the sport. No doubt, it is not necessary to point out that the gentleman demonstrating the sport here is hardly attired in the the typical fashion for the sport.

4d Murmur in the ear, and stroke (4)

I initially wrote in COMB based on the questionable wordplay M (murmur) contained in (in) COB (the ear, as an ear of corn). While I couldn't justify the use of M for "murmur" and "the ear" (rather than just "ear") looked a little suspect, I had temporarily set those issues aside to look at later. It was only when I was unable to solve 1oa that I was forced to go back and revisit this clue.

Solution to Today's Puzzle

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

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

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

1a D|IPS|TICK - D (500, Roman numeral) IPS (inches per second) TICK (mark)

5a SP|RANG - RANG (called) after (following) SP (Spanish)

9a {SIT-UP}* - anagram (off) of IS PUT

10a UNCLE|A|RED - UNCLE (family member) A RED (communist)

12a RO(BUS)T - BUS (vehicle) contained in (surrounded by) ROT (decay)

13a B|RACE|LET - B (second rate) RACE (competition) LET (allowed)

15a ICEBREAKER* - anagram (out of control) of BIKE CAREER

16a SCAT - double definition; "make tracks" (flee) and "singing without words" (à la Ella Fitzgerald)

19a G|APE - G (go halfway; i.e., half of the word "go") APE

21a {F(I)RE ENGINE}* - I (one) contained in an anagram (convertible) of FINE GREEN

24a FUR|LOUGH - FUR (warm coat) + (next to) LOUGH (Irish lake)

25a HUG(HE)S - HE (the guy) contained in (inside) HUGS (embraces); Howard Hughes: American aviator (among other things)

27a CO(NUN)D|RUM - {COD (something fishy) + (and) RUM (odd)} containing (about) NUN (sister) [Note: in the cryptic reading, the 's (contraction for "is") is used as a linkword]

28a TUBER - double definition; "potato" and "one sliding down a snowy slope"

29a TIP-TOP< - reversal (returned) of {POT (vessel) + (with) PIT (hole)} 30a CARY|A(T)ID - CARY (actor Cary Grant) AID (help) containing (comprehending) T (Time's featured; i.e., the most prominent - or capitalized - letter of the word "Time")


1d DISARMING* - anagram (cryptically) of MAID GRINS

2d PO(TAB)LE - TAB (Coca Cola brand) contained in (carried by) POLE (Eastern European)

3d TAPES|TRY - TRY (attempt) following (going after) RECORDS (tapes, as a verb)

4d COUP~ - sounds like (in the ear) COO

6d PR|EACH - PR (promotion; short for "public relations") EACH (for everyone)

7d A|CRY|LIC - LIC (licensed) following (after) A CRY (call)

8d GO(DO)T - GOT (understood) containing (about) DO (act); Godot: a character from Waiting for Godot, a play by Irish playwright Samuel Beckett

11d CAR(PET)ED - CARED (was concerned) containing (about) PET (dog or cat)

14d MA|LINGER - MA (mother) + (and) LINGER (hang around)

17d TREA(SURE)D - SURE (showing confidence) contained in (in) TREAD (manner of walking)

18d INDUSTRY* - anagram (crackpot) of RUNS TIDY

20d PAR|SNIP - PAR (norm) SNIP (cut)

22d I|NH|A|BIT - NH (New Hampshire) {A BIT} (slightly) following (after) I (one)

23d BORNE|O - BORNE (tolerated) O (nothing)

24d F(ACE)T - FT (fort) containing (breached by) ACE (hole in one; a score of 1 on a hole in golf)

26d EMMA - hidden in (seen in) requiEM MAss; Emma: heroine in novel of same name by English novelist Jane Austen

Signing off for today - Falcon

Friday, March 19, 2010

Friday, March 19, 2010 (DT 26100)

This puzzle was originally published Tuesday, December 1, 2009 in The Daily Telegraph


Looking back, the clues don't seem overly difficult. However, I struggled to get started and had to work hard to finish. In this regard, my experience would appear to parallel that of Gazza and many of the visitors to Big Dave's site. It seems that many of the clues were well concealed - as my mother might have said, they are hidden in plain sight.

Today's Glossary

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

cut a dash - make a show or exhibit a striking appearance

NUR - abbreviation, historical National Union of Railwaymen, now part of RMT

Orange Order - also known as the Orange Lodge, a Protestant fraternal organisation based primarily in Northern Ireland and Scotland, with lodges throughout the Commonwealth and the United States

pasty - noun chiefly Brit. a folded pastry case filled with seasoned meat and vegetables

River Ure - a river in North Yorkshire, England

TUC - abbreviation, Brit Trades Union Congress

Today's Links

Gazza's review of today's puzzle may be found at Big Dave's Telegraph Crossword Blog [DT 26100].

My apologies for the faulty link to Big Dave's site in yesterday's blog, which has now been fixed.

Commentary on Today's Puzzle

3d Foolish error following American in Spain (7)

Although I found the solution to this clue fairly early on, I did not immediately get the wordplay. In fact, I ended up setting it aside and coming back to it once I had finished the puzzle. In hindsight, there is nothing exceptionally difficult about the wordplay - but it seems that sometimes one just develops a mental block that prevents one from spotting the obvious.

The definition is "foolish" and the solution ASININE. The wordplay in this charade is ASIN {SIN (error) after (following) A (American)} + IN + E (Spain, E being the International Vehicle Registration code for Spain).

10a Spot at Scottish island removing a feature that's obsessive? (8)

Hint: this is a charade type clue in which "spot" is used in the sense of predicament

12a Hear about game barring outsiders? There's deception (8)

Deception is the cryptic crossword setter's stock in trade. Here it is also the definition. The solution is TRICKERY and the wordplay is TRY (hear, as a court case) containing (about) RICKE, which is CRICKET (game) without its outside letters (barring outsiders).

25a Crime time forgot? Motive needed (6)

Once again, we see a clue where the definition is not at either the beginning or end. The definition is "motive" and the solution is REASON. The wordplay is TREASON (crime) without (forgot) T (time).

Although Gazza says "“needed” is just padding", I recall having seen clues on a number of occasions in which either "need" or "require" is used as a linkword to the definition. The form of these clues is usually along the lines of "wordplay needs definition". I have always interpreted these to mean "the wordplay needs as a solution a word matching the definition". Today's clue could have been worded "Crime time forgot needs motive". However, to improve the surface reading, the setter has reversed the order of the latter bit.

Signing off for today - Falcon

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Thursday, March 18, 2010 (DT 26099)

This puzzle was originally published Monday, November 30, 2009 in The Daily Telegraph

The National Post has skipped DT 26098 which was published in The Daily Telegraph on Saturday, November 28, 2009


It was not a terribly hard puzzle today, but one that required a bit of effort (and the use of a few tools) to crack. Most visitors to Big Dave's blog seemed to find it a bit more difficult than the normal British Monday puzzle.

Updating the Tool Chest

It has been a long time since any new tools have been added to the Tool Chest. I would like to thank puzzgal for suggesting the addition of Chris F.A. Johnson's WordFinder and Anagram Solver.

A site that has been in the Tool Chest for a long time, but for which I keep finding new uses, is Onelook Dictionary Search. Not only does it allow one to search across multiple dictionaries, and to conduct wildcard searches, but it allows one to limit the search to words with certain meanings. Thus one could enter a search string such as "B??D E*:bird" which would return the name of a bird that consists of two words, the first having the pattern B??D and the second starting with E (answer: BALD EAGLE).

Today's Glossary

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

eyewash - noun 2 informal nonsense

It - Italian vermouth, as in the cocktail Gin and It [Note: previously encountered in DT 25953]

tuck - noun 2 Brit. informal food eaten by children at school as a snack

Today's Links

Rishi's review of today's puzzle may be found at Big Dave's Telegraph Crossword Blog [DT 26099].

Commentary on Today's Puzzle

30a Direction given in arms (7)

In his review, Rishi indicates that this is a double definition having the solution BEARING where the two definitions are (presumably) "direction" and "in arms" (bearing meaning carrying in the arms). I, as did a number of visitors to Big Dave's site, took the second definition to be "arms" meaning a coat of arms [Collins English Dictionary, noun 10b]. I presumed that "given in" is used in the clue as a linkword phrase. Even though there are different interpretations, at least - as Big Dave puts it - "it is good that all roads lead to the same answer".

27d Support one throughout (4)

This clue has a bit of a tricky construct. For the cryptic reading, one must split the final word into two parts, as follows:

Support one through out

The definition is "support" and the solution PIER. The wordplay is I (one) contained in PER (through). The cryptic meaning is "one, through out" or, in other words, "one [with] through out[side]".

Signing off for today - Falcon

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Wednesday, March 17, 2010 (DT 26097)

This puzzle was originally published Friday, November 27, 2009 in The Daily Telegraph


It took me a long time to finish today's puzzle, and when done I was left not only uncertain of the wordplay in a few clues, but unsure if one or two entries were even correct.

Today's Glossary

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

Sir Anthony Absolute - a character in The Rivals, a play written by Richard Sheridan

dab3 - Brit. informal noun (usually a dab hand at or with something) an expert

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

skint - adjective Brit. informal having little or no money available

Standard - a make of British car that ceased production in 1963

ton2 [Collins English Dictionary] - noun style, fashion, or distinction

Today's Links

Gazza's review of today's puzzle may be found at Big Dave's Telegraph Crossword Blog [DT 26097].

Commentary on Today's Puzzle

10a Drug addict in ploy, first to last (4)

Here we find a construction that appears from time to time, which might be thought of as a special case of an anagram. In a standard anagram type clue, we are told merely to rearrange the order of a set of letters, without any other constraints being imposed. In today's clue, we are given very specific instructions as to how the letters are to be rearranged.

The definition is "drug addict" with the solution being USER. The wordplay is RUSE (ploy) with the letter R moved from the first position to the last position (first to last) producing USER. The word "in" is a linkword, and the overall sense of the clue is that a word matching the definition can be found "in" the wordplay (i.e., by following the instructions provided in the wordplay, one will find the solution).

11a Retired with such energy? It could make you see red! (12)

This is one of the clues where I didn't understand the wordplay until I saw Gazza's explanation - and it is a very complicated clue. Those who happened to read my blog on The Sunday London Times Cryptic Crossword which appeared this past Sunday in the Ottawa Citizen may recall that Peter Biddlecombe (xwd_fiend) posted a comment saying "UK cryptics simply don't have the rule used in most American ones, which says that all definitions MUST be at one end of the clue." This was a revelation to me. And today, we have the same situation in this clue where the definition ("such energy") appears in the middle of the clue.

Furthermore, the weirdness doesn't end there. In most clues, the wordplay instructs one to perform an operation on an element that appears in the clue to obtain the solution. However, in this clue we are asked to perform an operation on the solution to obtain an element that appears in the clue.

The solution is TIRELESSNESS. The wordplay tells us that if the word RETIRED were in a state of "tirelessness" (i.e., with TIRE deleted) we would be left with (it would make us see) RED.

This convoluted clue construction (in which the solution is used in the wordplay) is fairly rare although I have seen it on occasion.

23a Good old car once seen as a paragon of excellence (4,8)

As I discovered from Gazza's review, a Standard is a car once produced in Britain. As I was solving the clue, I had supposed that it was simply a reference to a standard (a car with a manual transmission) as opposed to an automatic.

28a Medical examination that's most poor, might one suppose? (4,4)

I was uncertain if SKIN TEST was the correct solution, as I was unable to identify the existence of the word skintest. It seems that skintest is a nonexistent word that the setter has mischievously concocted through an extrapolation from the British term skint.

5d Bitterness when local girl has left (4)

The appearance of the word "local" in the clue, set me to wondering. Might a "local girl" be the British equivalent to a bargirl (a local being the neighbourhood pub in Britain)? No, it seems that the word gal meaning girl is not in widespread use in the U.K. Oxford describes the usage is chiefly North American and Chambers characterizes it as an "old use". Gazza says it is a "local, i.e. dialect, term for a girl". However, in North America, it is an extremely common term.

Wishing everyone a Happy St. Patrick's Day - Falcon

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Tuesday, March 16, 2010 (DT 26096)

This puzzle was originally published Thursday, November 26, 2009 in The Daily Telegraph


I quite enjoyed today's puzzle. I would say that it was of about average difficulty in that I was able to solve about half of it unaided and completed it fairly easily with the aid of my Tool Chest.

Today's Glossary

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

errand - [American Heritage Dictionary] noun 2. Archaic b. An oral message that has been entrusted to one

hooter - [Collins English Dictionary] noun Chiefly Brit 2. Slang a nose

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

Today's Links

Libellule's review of today's puzzle may be found at Big Dave's Telegraph Crossword Blog [DT 26096].

Commentary on Today's Puzzle

25a One shed light on strike during opening (3,4)

I figured out fairly readily that the second word is LAMP. However, knowing that, in the U.K., lam means "hit hard or repeatedly", I supposed that "strike" meant LAM and I was therefore looking for a four letter word ending in P meaning "opening". Even once I had GAS LAMP, I spent some time trying to understand why GASP might mean "opening". Nevertheless, I did eventually see the light.

27a I don't care if hooter's undamaged (2,4,3,2,4)

From the checking letters, I was able to determine that the solution was of the form NO SKIN OFF MY ????. However, I do not recall ever having heard this saying expressed as "No skin off my nose". Rather, the version with which I am familiar is "No skin off my back". Furthermore, in North America, a hooter is not a nose, but (almost always used in the plural) is slang for the two prominent features of a woman's anatomy being displayed here by our Hooter's Girl, Ashley (Hooter's being a North American restaurant chain). Another common meaning for hooter is an owl (from which the restaurant chain obviously takes its name!!!). It is interesting to note from the latter link that The American Heritage Dictionary defines hooter as "one that hoots, especially an owl" while the Collins English Dictionary defines it as "a person or thing that hoots, esp a car horn". In North America, owls hoot and car horns toot (sometimes at hooters!) - but not so, perhaps, in Britain.

Signing off for today - Falcon

Monday, March 15, 2010

Monday, March 15, 2010 (DT 26095)

This puzzle was originally published Wednesday, November 25, 2009 in The Daily Telegraph


I was feeling pretty smug this morning, having completed the puzzle without needing to resort to the contents of my Tool Chest. However, my balloon was deflated somewhat when I saw that Big Dave gave it two stars for difficulty and commented that "It was very easy and the newer solvers should enjoy finishing it. For the rest of us it offered very little."

Today's Glossary

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

brass - noun 6 Brit. informal money

estate car - noun Brit. a car incorporating a large carrying area behind the seats and an extra door at the rear [known in North America as a station wagon]
  • Hint: The clue may be easier to solve if you ignore this piece of information
Harold MacMillan, 1st Earl of Stockton - former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom

sapper - noun 2 Brit. a soldier in the Corps of Royal Engineers

Tate - an institution that houses the United Kingdom's national collection of British Art, and International Modern and Contemporary Art

York - a city in North Yorkshire, England situated at the confluence of the Rivers Ouse and Foss

Today's Links

Big Dave's review of today's puzzle may be found at Big Dave's Telegraph Crossword Blog [DT 26095].

Commentary on Today's Puzzle

12a Creature in middle of foaming river at York (5)

I was a bit slow to twig to the wordplay in this clue. The definition is "creature" with the solution being MOUSE. I initially supposed that M came from "middle" (possibly some British sports term) and OUSE being the "foaming river at York". However, I continued to have reservations about "foaming". Although Wikipedia does describe the Ouse as a tidal river (but the tidal portion does not extend as far upstream as York) and mentions that "heavy rainfall in the river's catchment area can bring severe flooding to nearby settlements", this hardly seemed to constitute a compelling justification for the setter to characterize it as a foaming river. Finally, the lights went on, and I realized that the M comes from "middle of foaming" (i.e., the middle letter of the word "foaming").

5d Chaplain in flat on outskirts of Rome (5)

Here the definition is "chaplain" with the solution being PADRE. The wordplay is PAD (flat, apartment) in front of (being a down clue, "on" signifies on top of) RE (outskirts of Rome; i.e., the two outermost letters of the word "Rome"). In a down clue, "A on B" is usually used in this manner and can only mean "AB".

Despite Big Dave's assertion that on "only really works to join the two parts of a down clue", I definitely recall having seen on used in an across clue and, I believe, even rarely in a down clue, in the sense of attached to, as one might use it in the sentence "I carry my cellphone in a holster on my hip." Furthermore, when used in this manner, it seems that "A on B" can mean either "AB" or "BA" (depending upon which hip you prefer to carry your cellphone, I suppose!).

Signing off for today - Falcon

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Saturday, March 13, 2010 - It's All Greek To Me


In today's puzzle from Cox and Rathvon, we encounter a fine assemblage of ancient Greek personalities.

Old Greeks Appearing in Today's Puzzle

Anaximander - pre-Socratic Greek philosopher

Democritus - ancient Greek philosopher

Hippocrates - ancient Greek physician

Parmenides - ancient Greek philosopher

Theseus - legendary founder-king of Athens

Solution to Today's Puzzle

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

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

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

1a HIPPO|CRATES - HIPPO (African giant) CRATES (boxes)

9a PAR|TIED - PAR (norm) TIED (even)

10a DO|CENTS - DO (make) CENTS (small change)

11a DEMOCRITUS* - anagram of (mistaken) CUSTOMER ID

12a CIAO~ - sounds like (reportedly) CHOW (food); CIAO (goodbye to any Italian; i.e., Italian word meaning "goodbye")

14a RECIPES* - anagram of (new) PIERCES

16a T(RIDE)NT - RIDE (be carried) contained in (in) TNT (explosive)

17a THESE(U)S - THESES (research papers) containing (about) U (university)

19a LI(MITE)D - MITE (little bug) contained in (in) LID (cap)

21a IM|PS - IM (I'm; contraction of "I am") PS (postscript, by the way; an afterthought added to the end of a letter)

22a PARMENIDES* - anagram of (wild) MEN PRAISED

25a KETCH|UP - KETCH (vessel) UP (raised)

26a AL|LOVER - AL (actor Al Pacino) LOVER (fanatic)

27a ANAXIMANDER* - anagram of (confounded) XENA IN DRAMA


1d _H|ARE|M_ - hidden in (kept in) churcH ATE Miffed

2d PRINCIPLES~ - sounds like (pronounced) PRINCIPALS

3d ORDAINS* - anagram of (violated) DORIANS

4d REDOUBT - double definition (one cryptic); "fortress" and "doubt again (question again)"

5d TICK - double definition; "sound of a beat" and "arachnid"

6d SENT|I(MEN)T - SENT (conveyed) {IT containing MEN (males)}

7d SPIDER< - reversal of (the wrong way) REDIPS (again plunges)

8d ESCORT* - anagram of (travelling) CORTES

13d DISMANTLED - double definition (one cryptic); "in pieces" and "like the [New York] Yankees [baseball team] without slugger Mickey Mantle (the Mick)"

15d CLEOPATRA* - anagram of (repackaged) A PARCEL TO

17d THICKE_ - THICKET (bush) with the last letter deleted (almost); Alan Thicke: Canadian actor, songwriter and talk and game show host

18d SHAR-PEI* - anagram of (off) HE PAIRS

19d LAMB(A)DA - LAMBDA (Greek character; i.e., character in the Greek alphabet) containing (holding) A

20d DESIRE - double definition (one cryptic); "want" and "to get rid of sire (dad)"

23d D|OVER - D (first of developments; i.e., first letter of the word "developments") OVER (above)

24d WHO|A - WHO (question of identity) preceding (before) A (answer)

Signing off for today - Falcon

Friday, March 12, 2010

Friday, March 12, 2010 (DT 26094)

This puzzle was originally published Tuesday, November 24, 2009 in The Daily Telegraph


While today's puzzle did not give me an undue degree of trouble, I did need to dig into the Tool Chest quite early. I note that Gazza awarded the puzzle four stars for difficulty. From my point of view, it was probably between a three and a four. The relatively small number of Briticisms likely had an influence on my assessment. I usually find puzzles containing a large number of British expressions to be at least one degree of difficulty tougher than they are rated by the Brits.

Today's Glossary

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

earwig - verb informal eavesdrop

form - noun 6 chiefly Brit. a class or year in a school [in North America, a grade]

National Health Service - noun Brit (abbreviation NHS) the system set up in 1948 to provide medical treatment for all UK residents free, or at a nominal charge, at the point of delivery, financed mainly by taxation

Today's Links

Gazza's review of today's puzzle may be found at Big Dave's Telegraph Crossword Blog [DT 26094].

It seems that the expression "cry 'uncle'" meaning "beg for mercy" or "surrender" is a strictly North American idiom. There is quite a lot of discussion on this point in the comments section of Big Dave's blog. The Brits' lack of familiarity with the term is evident as one lady, Mary, comments "I guess i was totally ‘uncled’ by 19a!!" [Rather than "uncled", one would say something like ''19a [was so difficult that it] made me cry 'uncle'"]. Of course, Mary might just start a new strain of this idiomatic expression. Interestingly, one visitor provides a link to a discussion of the etymology of the expression which concludes that the North American idiom was likely derived from a joke first published in a British newspaper in the late 19th century that was subsequently widely reprinted in North American newspapers.

Commentary on Today's Puzzle

14a Not caring the man's innocent (9)

Here, the definition is "not caring" for which the solution is HEARTLESS. The wordplay is HE (the man) + ('s [has]) ARTLESS (innocent).

The wordplay relies on a couple of cryptic conventions. The first is that the verb to have is often used as a charade indicator. While I've never been able to completely understand the logic behind it, it may go something like the following: If you have something, you take possession of it or hold it ("to have and to hold ...") and it becomes attached to you. Thus A has B indicates a charade with the solution AB.

The second is that 's may, as in this case (as confirmed by the setter writing on Big Dave's site), mean "has" as in, "He's been trying to solve this puzzle for hours." In a cryptic crossword clue, words may take on a different meaning in the cryptic reading from the one which they have in the surface reading. Thus, in the surface reading of this clue, the 's means "is" while in the cryptic reading, it means "has". While the only instance that I can think of where 's means "has" is when the verb to have is used as an auxiliary verb with the verb to be - and then only in cases involving the the third person singular of the past tense. For instance, "He's been ..." would mean "He has been ..." but "He's to be ..." would mean "He is to be ...".

Finally, in a charade, one must consider each element in isolation - not as part of an overall unit. For example, in the wordplay for this clue we have three elements - two elements of "fodder" and an indicator. The two fodder elements are "man" and "innocent" and the indicator is " 's " which can be expanded to become "has". Note that even though we would normally only see 's meaning "has" if followed by a word such as "been", we must still make the substitution here despite there being no word such as "been" in the clue.

21a Educates where teachers are found ... (7)

It seems that many (perhaps even an overwhelming majority) of the Brits mistakenly inserted SCHOOLS here - which really messed up the southwest quadrant for them. I avoided this trap, probably due to first having found the solution to 24a, which starts with a G, and then intuiting that 7d might end in ING, thus eliminating SCHOOLS as a possible answer for 21a.

25a Flipping raining around drive home (7)

The definition in this clue is "drive home" for which the solution is INGRAIN. But what is the wordplay? Actually one has three options to choose from.
  • an anagram (flipping ... around) of RAINING
  • reversing the order of (flipping ... around) the syllables in RAIN ING to get ING RAIN
  • a hidden word (indicated by "around") in flippING RAINing
I admit that I chose the wrong option (or, rather, not the one intended by the setter). How did you do? The "correct" answer can be found in Gazza's review.

Clearly, different people will see different solutions here. It seems to me that this is a bit like the drawing where you are asked whether you see an old woman or a young woman, or the image frequently seen in Internet ads asking whether you see a lamp or a woman in a bikini bottom. Moreover, few people are likely to see (without prompting) that there are multiple possible solutions. The reason being akin to the anwer to the old riddle, "When you are searching for something, why do you always find it in the last place you look?" Answer: "Because once you find it, you stop looking."

4d African capital city reaches Atlantic, initially (5)

Yesterday, I discussed &lit (all-in-one) clues at some length. Here, as Gazza puts it, we have "a clever attempt at an all-in-one ". In one reading of this clue, the word "initially" is used as a direction to use the initial letters of the preceeding words, thereby producing ACCRA. In the second reading, we are presumably supposed to see the entire clue as a cryptic definition of ACCRA. However, on this latter level, the clue really doesn't work for me. The phrase "African capital city" alone would define ACCRA and the remainder of the clue "reaches Atlantic, initially" doesn't seem to add anything meaningful, as far as I can see. Therefore, I believe Gazza was spot on in characterizing this as a "clever attempt" - one that probably did not wholly succeed.

7d Following an eagle, an albatross ... (12)

This is one of those clues where one suspects they might be missing some clever nuance in the wordplay. However, as far as I can see, it is merely saying that if one were to be following (with their eye) an eagle, an albatross, etc., they would be BIRDWATCHING. The clue is intended to mislead the solver into thinking that it is about golf, where an eagle is a score of two under par on a hole and an albatross is a score of three under par.

Signing off for today - Falcon