Saturday, November 11, 2017

Saturday, November 11, 2017 — Game of Kings


The opening half of today's puzzle from Cox & Rathvon is played out on a chessboard (incidentally, an eight-by-eight grid versus the fifteen-by-fifteen crossword grid). Appropriately enough, the puzzle demands a bit more mental effort than we usually face in these Saturday encounters — but it is an enjoyable battle.

The objective in chess[7] is to checkmate the opponent's king by placing it under an inescapable threat of capture. To this end, a player's pieces are used to attack and capture the opponent's pieces, while supporting each other. In addition to checkmate, the game can be won by voluntary resignation of the opponent, which typically occurs when too much many pieces have been lost or checkmate appears inevitable. There are also several ways a game can end in a draw.

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

Solution to Today's Puzzle

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

Legend: "*" anagram; "~" sounds like; "<" letters reversed
"( )" letters inserted; "_" letters deleted; "†" explicit in the clue
Primary indications (definitions) are marked with a solid underline in the clue; subsidiary indications (be they wordplay or other) are marked with a dashed underline in semi-all-in-one (semi-&lit.) clues. All-in-one (&lit.) clues and cryptic definitions — including whimsical and vague definitions — are marked with a dotted underline. Explicit link words and phrases are enclosed in forward slashes (/link/) and implicit links are shown as double forward slashes (//).


1a   King captured by opening // move under restraint (6)

HO(BB)LE — BB (King; American blues singer B.B. King[7]) contained in (captured by) HOLE (opening)

Deceptive Opening
My initial thought, gambit, proved to be a poor opening move. In chess, a gambit[5] is an opening move in which a player makes a sacrifice, typically of a pawn, for the sake of a compensating advantage ⇒ he tried the dubious Budapest gambit.

This clue requires the solver to employ a technique often described as "lift-and-separate" — a play on a phrase taken from a Playtex brassiere advertising campaign from the 1960's.

The term refers to a situation in which a seemingly single conceptual unit (which can be either a word or a phrase) must be split into separate pieces playing different roles.

In the present clue, a single conceptual unit ("opening move") must be separated into two parts, with "opening" comprising part of the wordplay and "move" being part of the definition.

On the Board
The king[5] is the most important chess piece, of which each player has one, which the opponent has to checkmate in order to win. The king can move in any direction, including diagonally, to any adjacent square that is not attacked by an opponent's piece or pawn.

As for the surface reading, in chess[7] the king is never actually captured but merely trapped (placed under "an inescapable threat of capture") as the game ends when the king is unable to move to a safe position. And, of course, there is no way that this can happen on the "opening move".

4a   Knight/’s/ weapon for jousting with fate (8)

LANCE|LOT — LANCE (weapon for jousting) + (with) LOT (fate)

In Arthurian legend, Lancelot[5] (also Launcelot) is the most famous of Arthur's knights, lover of Queen Guinevere and father of Galahad.

English fantasy novelist Terry Pratchett wrote "Most gods throw dice, but Fate plays chess, and you don't find out til too late that he's been playing with two queens all along."

On the Board
A knight[5] is a chess piece, typically with its top shaped like a horse’s head, that moves by jumping to the opposite corner of a rectangle two squares by three. Each player starts the game with two knights.

9a   Queen’s work // that’s beginning in my row (9)

MY|S(T)ERIES — T (that's beginning; initial letter (beginning) of That) contained in (in) {MY (†) + SERIES (row)}

Ellery Queen[5] was an American writer of detective novels; pseudonym of Frederic Dannay (1905–1982) and Manfred Lee (1905–1971). The novels feature a detective also called Ellery Queen.

On the Board
The queen[5] is the most powerful chess piece, of which each player starts the game with one, able to move any number of spaces in any direction along a rank, file, or diagonal on which it stands.

11a   Rook with new // kingly symbol (5)

CROW|N — CROW (rook) + (with) N (new; abbrev.)

On the Board
A rook[5] is a chess piece, typically with its top in the shape of a battlement, that can move any number of spaces in any direction along a rank or file on which it stands. Each player starts the game with two rooks at opposite ends of the first rank.

12a   Bishop’s domain, before call /for/ infiltration (7)

SEE|PAGE — SEE (bishop's domain) preceding (before) PAGE (call)

On the Board
A bishop [5] is a chess piece, typically with its top shaped like a mitre, that can move any number of spaces in any direction along a diagonal on which it stands. Each player starts the game with two bishops, one moving on white squares and the other on black.

13a   Pawn at end of game, // when time’s expired (3,4)

TOO L|AT|E — TOOL (pawn; a person manipulated by another) + AT (†) + E (end [final letter] of gamE)

On the Board
A pawn[5] is a chess piece of the smallest size and value, that moves one square forwards along its file if unobstructed (or two on the first move), or one square diagonally forwards when making a capture. Each player begins with eight pawns on the second rank, and can promote a pawn to become any other piece (typically a queen) if it reaches the opponent’s end of the board.

14a   Beginner in chess, Edward repeatedly // yielded (5)

C|ED|ED — C (beginner [initial letter] in Chess) + {ED + ED } ([nickname for] Edward repeatedly)

On the Board
The surface reading likely alludes to a newbie chess player admitting defeat before the game has played out to its inevitable conclusion.

16a   Support // first of men in check (7)

AR(M)REST — M (first [initial letter] of Men) contained in (in) ARREST (check)

On the Board
In chess, check[5] means to move a piece or pawn to a square where it attacks (the opposing king) ⇒ he moves his knight to check my king again. A king so attacked is said to be in check[5].

A chessman[5] [or informally man] is a solid figure used as a chess piece ivory chessmen stood on an inlaid board.

As the king is the most important piece in the game (see 1a), it could be described as the "first of men".

19a   Rook // is led NW mistakenly (7)

SWINDLE* — anagram (mistakenly) of IS LED NW

The setters bring the second rook into play ...

21a   Knight’s symbol // grasped by author, seemingly (5)

_HOR|SE_ — hidden in (grasped by) autHOR SEemingly

... followed immediately by the second knight ...

On the Board
A careful reading of the definition at 4a reveals that a knight's top is typically shaped like a horse's head.

23a   Moving one real // queen (7)

ELEANOR* — anagram (moving) of ONE REAL

... and not far behind, a second queen.

Eleanor of Aquitaine[5] (circa 1122–1204) was the daughter of the Duke of Aquitaine, queen of France 1137–52 and of England 1154–89. She was married to Louis VII of France from 1137; in 1152, with the annulment of their marriage, she married the future Henry II of England.

On the Board
Although each player starts the game with a single queen, an additional queen can be obtained by successfully moving a pawn to the far end of the board.

In chess, queen[5] (verb) means to convert (a pawn) into a queen when it reaches the opponent's back rank on the board (see 13a).

See also the quote from Terry Pratchett at 4a regarding Fate playing with two queens.

25a   Made ready, // knight finally fell (7)

T|RAINED — T (knight finally; final letter of knighT) + RAINED (fell; figurative)

As I was working in the back yard recently, a sudden gust of wind caused leaves to rain down from my maple tree.

On the Board
What, a third knight! While each player starts the game with only two knights, a pawn can be promoted to a knight (or any other piece) during the course of the game (see 13a).

27a   In retrospect, notices // checks (5)

STOPS< — reversal (in retrospect) of SPOTS (notices)

On the Board
I would think it highly unusual for players to fail to notice a check (see 16a).

28a   Pawn in black /that/ can be overwhelmed by surprise (9)

S(HOCK)ABLE — HOCK (pawn) contained in (in) SABLE (black)

A second pawn appears, but then each player does start the game with eight of them.

On the Board
In chess, black[10] (noun) denotes a a black or dark-coloured piece or square on the chessboard or (usually capitalized) the player playing with such pieces.

29a   Again do “L” jumps around // bishop’s path (8)

DIAGONAL* — anagram (jumps around) of AGAIN DO L

On the Board
A third bishop appears which could also have entered the game through the promotion of a pawn (see 13a).

As we saw at 12a, a bishop moves diagonally.

A knight makes "L" jumps, moving to "the opposite corner of a rectangle two squares by three" (see 4a).

30a   Complete // idiot never to attend chess tournaments’ openings (6)

I_N_T_A_C_T_ — initial letters (openings) of Idiot Never To Attend Chess Tournaments


1d   Sort of nostalgic // hayseed eating some nuts (8)

H(OMES*)ICK — HICK (hayseed) containing (eating) {anagram (nuts) of SOME}

2d   Sew // Tina’s initial inside diamond bag (5)

BAS(T)E — T (Tina's initial [letter]) contained in (inside) BASE (diamond bag; a bag found on a baseball diamond)

3d   General Hospital area // on the sheltered side (7)

LEE|WARD — LEE (General [Robert E. Lee[7]]) + WARD (hospital area)

5d   Playing part of a tennis match, // plus (5)

AS|SET — AS (playing [in a film or stage production]) + SET (part of a tennis match)

6d   Icy following the first double // whirlwind (7)

_CY|CLONE — [I]CY with the initial letter removed (following the first) + CLONE (double)

7d   Take care of // teak floor in need of repair (4,5)

{LOOK AFTER}* — anagram (in need of repair) of TEAK FLOOR

8d   Sweet // offer (6)

TENDER — double definition

10d   European country // I run with panache by day (7)

I|R|ELAN|D — I (†) + R (run; abbrev. used in baseball and cricket) + (with) ELAN (panache) + D (day; abbrev.)

15d   Dramatic role // dame’s done badly (9)

DESDEMONA* — anagram (done badly) of DAMES DONE

Desdemona[7] is a character in William Shakespeare's play Othello (c. 1601–1604). The role has the distinction of being the role performed by Margaret Hughes, the first professional actress known to have appeared on an English public stage (1660)*.

*prior to this time, female roles were performed on stage by male actors

17d   Wand waver // revamped some art (7)

MAESTRO* — anagram (revamped) of SOME ART

18d   Bum // debated a bum (8) or Bum debated a // bum (8)

DEADBEAT* — anagram (bum) of DEBATED A

Which bum is which? That remains a matter for debate.

20d   Playwright // is keeping a person company (7)

IONESCO* — IS (†) containing (keeping) ONE (a person) + CO (company; abbrev.)

Eugène Ionesco[5] (1912–1994) was a Romanian-born French playwright, a leading exponent of the Theatre of the Absurd. Notable plays: The Bald Prima Donna (1950), Rhinoceros (1960).

21d   Inside of the Ark, endeavour // to pay attention (7)

_HE|ARK|EN_ — hidden in (inside of) tHE ARK ENdeavour

22d   Rented // minimal amount for the audience (6)

LEASED~ — sounds like (for the audience) LEAST (minimal amount)

24d   A certain Jamaican // right next to a station (5)

R|A|STA — R (right; abbrev.) + A (†) + STA (station; abbrev.)

Rasta[5] is an informal short form for Rastafarian[5], an adherent of Rastafarianism — a religious movement of Jamaican origin. Rastafarians believe that Emperor Haile Selassie of Ethiopia was the Messiah and that blacks are the chosen people and will eventually return to their African homeland. They have distinctive codes of behaviour and dress, including the wearing of dreadlocks and the smoking of cannabis, and they follow a diet that excludes pork, shellfish, and milk.

26d   Nile region // article I roll back (5)

{NUB|I|A}< — reversal (back) of {A ([indefinite] article + I (†) + BUN (roll; bread}

Nubia[5] was an ancient region of southern Egypt and northern Sudan, including the Nile valley between Aswan and Khartoum and the surrounding area. Much of Nubia is now drowned by the waters of Lake Nasser, formed by the building of the two dams at Aswan. Nubians constitute an ethnic minority group in Egypt.


The final word goes to American comedian Jerry Seinfeld who said "Marriage is like a game of chess except the board is flowing water, the pieces are made of smoke and no move you make will have any effect on the outcome."
Key to Reference Sources: 

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


  1. Good afternoon,

    Excellent puzzle today from C & R. Quite tough but in the end I got to checkmate.

    Never forget.


  2. Hello Falcon et al,

    Definitely a challenging puzzle for me today. Barely got 3 or 4 clues after first read-through. I would say that the chess references were a bit of a ruse. Favourite clue was 1a - had me fooled for a long time.

    Thank you for posting Falcon and cheers to all,

    1. Hi MG,

      Yes, 1a was quite good. So too was 9a I thought.


  3. Hello Falcon and all,
    Like Peter and MG, I thought this one was hard! I really had to work at it, especially the top half. For me, the trickiest were where a "title" (king, queen, general) required a name (like those mentioned in the above comments; the various "pawns" also caused me some consternation. It was fun to match wits with this one, and I was happy to prevail.

  4. Hi everyone!
    I finished the puzzle (well, tried to) last week, and as above was stuck on 1a and 2d. 'Lift and separate, indeed!' Well, I was going to read the comments and see if anyone offered any insights, but Falcon, you already had the answers in, and I saw the answer. Duh! Ok, maybe his week...