Saturday, August 20, 2022

Saturday, August 20, 2022 — Octathlon (NP 220820)


Today's National Post Cryptic Crossword from Cox & Rathvon (NP 220820) presents a broad choice of activities one might choose to pursue once the grid has been completed. Given the weather forecast, a cold drink by the lake might be in order but, sadly, that is not in the cards for me today. I'm confined to quarters due to COVID isolation -- which explains the rare date-of-publication appearance of the review.

The puzzle will be posted on the blog on Saturday, August 27, 2022.

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

Symbols and Markup Conventions
  •  "*" - anagram
  • "~" - sounds like
  • "<" - indicates the preceding letters are reversed
  • "( )" - encloses contained letters
  • "_" - replaces letters that have been deleted
  •  "†" - indicates that the word is present in the clue
  • "//" - marks the boundary between wordplay and definition when no link word or link phrase is present
  • "/[link word or phrase]/" - marks the boundary between wordplay and definition when a link word or link phrase is present
  • "solid underline" - precise definition
  • "dotted underline" - cryptic definition
  • "dashed underline" - wordplay
  • "wavy underline" - whimsical and inferred definitions
Click here for further explanation and usage examples of the symbols and markup conventions used on this blog.


1a Fairly competitive // talk about dessert wine (8)

S(PORT)ING — SING (talk; inform on) containing (about) PORT (dessert wine)

5a Oldest // buddy gaining edge (6)

P(RIM)AL — PAL (buddy) containing (gaining) RIM (edge)

9a Extreme // exhibited by Paul Tracy (5)

_UL|TRA_ — hidden in (exhibited by) PaUL TRAcy

Scratching the Surface
Paul Tracy[7] is a Canadian-American* professional auto racing driver who formerly competed in open-wheel car racing in CART, the Champ Car World Series and the IndyCar Series. Since 2021, he competes full time in stock car racing in the Superstar Racing Experience.

* Canadian-born Tracy became a dual citizen in 2015

10a Martial art // takedown damaged ring (9)

TAEKWOND*|O — anagram of (damaged) TAKEDOWN + O ([letter that looks like a] ring)

12a Shooting with a bow // mistakenly, hear cry (7)

ARCHERY* — anagram of (mistakenly) HEAR CRY

13a Vehicle, while outside of a cold // place in Venezuela (7)

CAR(A|C)AS — {CAR (vehicle) + AS (while)} containing (outside of) {A (†) + C(old)}

14a Rider // shifted a rein, taking in hunt (10)

{E(QUEST)RIAN}* — anagram of (shifted) A REIN containing (taking in) QUEST (hunt)

17a Surprise // fans on the way back (4)

STUN< — reversal of (on the way back) NUTS (fans)

19a Extremely hot old // London district (4)

SO|H|O — SO (extremely) + H(ot) + O(ld)

20a Hike alongside zip line // recreational apparatus (10)

TRAMP|O|LINE — TRAMP (hike) + (alongside) O ([letter that looks like] zip; zero) + LINE (†)

23a Captain or sergeant, perhaps, with bomb’s original // pipe material (7)

C|OR|NCO|B — C(aptain) + OR (†) + NCO (sergeant, perhaps; non-commissioned officer) + (with) B (Bomb's original [initial letter])

24a CNN, e.g., if playing // event featuring swords (7)

FENCING* — anagram of (playing) CNN EG IF

26a Ill fortune concerning // game with a net (9)

BAD|MINT|ON — BAD (ill) + MINT (fortune) + ON (concerning)

27a Sound track // I included in gold celebration (5)

AU|D(I)O — I (†) contained in (included in) {AU ([chemical symbol for] gold) + DO (celebration; party)}

28a Someone who rents // simple shelter acquiring article (6)

TEN(AN)T — TENT (simple shelter) containing (acquiring) AN ([grammatical] article)

29a Awfully fat slob left // game (8)

SOFTBAL*|L — anagram of (awfully) FAT SLOB + L(eft)


1d Wise about Yankee // side for breakfast (7)

SA(USA)GE — SAGE (wise) containing (about) USA (Yankee)

What is a Yankee?
An American visitor to Big Dave's Crossword Blog once explained how one's perception of the term Yankee changes depending on one's perspective:

To foreigners, a Yankee is an American.
To Americans, a Yankee is a Northerner.
To Northerners, a Yankee is an Easterner.
To Easterners, a Yankee is a New Englander.
To New Englanders, a Yankee is a Vermonter.
To Vermonters, a Yankee is a Flatlander*.
To Flatlanders, Yankees suck.

* a term for newcomers to the U.S. states of Maine, New Hampshire or Vermont. According to Wikipedia, "The changing demographics between those with multi-generational ties to [Vermont]  and those who are newcomers, bringing different values with them, has resulted in a degree of tension between the two perspectives. This tension is expressed in the terms, "Woodchuck", being applied to those established in the state, and "Flatlander", applied to the newcomers."[7]

2d Choose one camera’s front // lens (5)

OPT|I|C — OPT (choose) + I ([Roman numeral] one) C (Camera's front [initial letter])

3d Pass over // retrograde painting and poetry (8)

TRA<|VERSE — reversal of (retrograde) ART (painting) + (and) VERSE (poetry)

4d Dapper // Dan’s last attorney (5)

N|ATTY — N (DaN's last [letter]) + ATTY (attorney)

6d Prize // artist returned (6)

REWARD< — reversal of (returned) DRAWER (artist)

7d Stuffed pasta // in taco Tim whipped up (9)

MANICOTTI* — anagram of (whipped up) IN TACO TIM

8d Watches // Canadian diver receiving endorsements (5,2)

LO(OKS) ON — LOON (Canadian diver; diving bird emblematic of Canada which appears on the Canadian one dollar coin) + containing (receiving) OKS (endorsements)

11d Call out // ninety aboard city train by design (7)

E(XC)L|AIM — XC ([Roman numeral] ninety) contained in (aboard) {EL (city train; elevated railway in Chicago) + (by) AIM (design)}

15d Marked the debut of // our group in this place with loud noise (7,2)

US|HERE|D IN — US (our group) + HERE (in this place) + (with) DIN (loud noise)

16d Cheesy snack // refreshments initially are nibbled (7)

RAREBIT — R (Refreshments initially [initial letter]) + ARE (†) + BIT (nibbled)

18d Blue // feathers agitated cats (8)

DOWN|CAST* — DOWN (feathers) + anagram of (agitated) CATS

19d After fire, save // old trombone (7)

SACK|BUT — BUT (save; with the exception of) following (after) SACK (fire; dismiss from employment)

21d Logger reordered large // appetizer (3,4)

{EGG ROL}*L — anagram of (reordered) LOGGER + L(arge)

22d Fighting // contingent with no leader (6)

_ACTION — [F]ACTION (contingent) discarding the initial letter (with no leader)

24d Run after enjoyable // fly in outfield practice (5)

FUN|GO — GO (run; function or operate) following (after) FUN (enjoyable)

In baseball, a fungo[3] is a fly ball hit for fielding practice by a player who tosses the ball up and hits it on its way down with a long, thin, light bat.

25d Popular doctor connected with a // Hindu deity (5)

IN|DR|A — IN (popular) + DR (doctor) + (connected with) A (†)

In Hinduism, Indra[10] is the most celebrated god of the Rig-Veda, governing the weather and dispensing rain.


The Olympics may have its pentathlon and decathlon, but today, Cox and Rathvon serve up an octathlon of sporting clues.


Sources referenced in the blog are identified by the following symbols. The reference numbers themselves are hyperlinks to the entry in the source being referenced. Click on the number to view the source.

Key to Reference Sources: 

  [1]   - The Chambers Dictionary, 11th Edition
  [2]   - Search Chambers - (Chambers 21st Century Dictionary)
  [3]   - (American Heritage Dictionary)
  [4]   - TheFreeDictionarycom (Collins English Dictionary)
  [5]   - Lexico (formerly Oxford Dictionaries Online) (Oxford Dictionary of English)
  [6]   - Lexico (formerly Oxford Dictionaries Online) (Oxford Advanced 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)
[14]   - (COBUILD Advanced English Dictionary)
[15]   - (Penguin Random House LLC/HarperCollins Publishers Ltd )

Signing off for today — Falcon


  1. Good morning from a few days on Cape Cod where the weather is just fine.
    Looks like C&R have offered us a sampling of sport. An olympic achievement it seems to me.
    Nothing too hard here. 23a took some time to parse but a satisfying one.
    Didn't know 10a was a single word.
    19d was new to me. After figuring the wordplay, I had to check with google for confirmation.
    22d was LOI. These types, where the wordplay is minimal, can be difficult - you have to think of a word then remove the first letter - not much to go on sometimes.
    Have a good weekend and coming week everyone.
    Thanks to Falcon for his yeoman's work.

  2. A good Saturday morning from Winnipeg where we continue to experience Summer storms with a funnel cloud here and there but nothing more serious than that.
    So, after getting us drunk last week, C&R expect us to play sports this week - Hmm!
    I am more familiar with 10a being (3,4,2) rather than a single word.
    24d was a new word for me but it was easy to 'put together' and then dictionary confirm.
    Lots of smiles for 1a, 5a, 14a, 3d, 8d, and 18d.
    Thanks to C&R and to Falcon.

  3. Good morning,

    My goodness Richard and especially Senf: you are up very early in the morning. Was today's offering a tip of the hat to the recent Commonwealth Games? I thought the answer to 28a should have been tennis but that would have required a rather obscure word in 22d. On the other hand I don't think it would be more obscure than the answer to 24d. Not sure that 2d works. But all in all this was an enjoyable puzzle. Have a good weekend!


    1. I was doing double duty with an extra 'shift,' in addition to my normal Sunday 'slot,' on BD's Crossword Blog!

    2. Ah, well that explains it!

    3. My internal alarm after years of use has me up at the earliest of hours. (But don't ask me what was on the 11pm news. I'll never have seen it.)
      For 2d, I also paused, thinking of the entry as an adjective. When used as a noun, the clue works -

  4. Hello Falcon and friends,

    Today's puzzle had me sweating for awhile because there were a few clues that had me totally stymied. Did something else and upon my return, all fell neatly into place. Really liked 14a and19d. LOI for me was also 22d.

    Thank you for posting Falcon. Have a nice week all - summer is winding down. The orioles are gobbling up my grape jelly, getting ready for their long journey south.


  5. Hi Falcon! Nice to see you back (albeit for a short time, no doubt)

    You might want to check your Roman Numerals in 11d.

    I blew 24d. Didn't find it in my Google search. But the rest was a healthy exercise. And it helped that C&R provided some cheese and egg dishes for nourishment.

    Have a hot one everyone!

    1. Oops! Thanks for bringing the seriously undervalued Roman numeral to my attention.

  6. Hope you are feeling ok Falcon and recover quickly.


  7. It didn't take that long to solve all the clues. I stopped briefly with 9 left and soon got the rest when I revisited the puzzle. I didn't really agree with the word for extremely or the word used for fans. The word used for fans I would consider as more of a derogatory term.


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