ST 4276 (Sun 11 May) – Lock and Awe

Posted on Categories Daily Cryptic
Solving time: 5 mins for all but 26ac and 9dn, on which I subsequently gave up.

In fact, my guess at 26ac (FIELDFARE) proved correct, but I wouldn’t have got 9dn in a month of Palm Sundays.

There were some comments on the quality of Sunday Times cryptics in last week’s blog, and Peter’s theory on the high error count. The worst error in this puzzle is ‘lock’ for ‘loch’ in 2dn. I’m not sure what’s going on at 15ac/5dn, but something’s not quite right there either. 24ac was also mentioned last week as being problematic, but I think that one’s ok.

* = anagram, “X” = sounds like ‘X’.

1 PLA(I)CE – mishandling of the letter I (‘I get…’), which is a regular feature of these puzzles.
10 RHEOSTATS; (SORES THAT)* – if this is intended as a semi-&lit, it doesn’t work cryptically (because of the word ‘that’, which is part of the anagram), quite apart from the question of whether a rheostat could actually give you a sore. If it’s just a normal clue, ‘devices’ seems an unfairly vague definition.
11 STORM (double definition)
12 DECORUM; rev. of ED, + CO + RUM
14 LIMPKIN – ornithology is not my strong point (see 26ac), and I made up this bird from the wordplay.
24 PLUNGER; (PURE + L[uck] + NG)*
25 THE R.M.
26 FIELD FARE – I’m sure ‘food’ = ?A?E has plenty of possibilities so I was lucky to pick the right one (one of these), although I still spent ages looking for something more likely.
28 OBSTACLE; (STOLE CAB)* – not sure what ‘through’ is doing here.
29 AD + VICE

1 PARADISE; (A PADRE IS)* – a better semi-&lit.
2 AWE – this is presumably meant to refer to Loch Awe, but instead of ‘loch’ the clue reads ‘lock’, which cannot mean the same thing according to any dictionary I can find.
3 CAST + RATED – a curious clue with the definition (‘made impotent’) in the middle of the two elements of wordplay.
5 RUSTLER (sic) – the answer to this clue seems to be ‘rustled’, but it must be ‘rustler’ to fit with 15ac. The clue is: “Quietly took stock? Not entirely”. Not sure who to blame for this. Perhaps it was supposed to read “He quietly…”?
6 BOSOM (punning on ‘abreast’)
9 PALMER (double definition) – the killer for me. This can mean both ‘a hairy caterpillar’ and hence ‘a bristly artificial fly’, i.e. bait, and ‘a pilgrim carrying a palm-leaf in token of having been in the Holy Land’. I’m not sure this second definition is quite equivalent to ‘monk’, which is given in the clue, but even with two straight definitions I wouldn’t have got this. I’m afraid I gave up rather quickly – there are so many mistakes in Sunday Times puzzles that it never seems worth persevering in case an apparent stumbling block proves to be another error.
13 CH(A RIOT)EERS – this doesn’t quite work cryptically but it’s probably close enough.
20 HOPPER (double definition) – in the railway sense, ‘a wagon with an opening in the bottom for discharging its cargo’.
21 TATTOO (double definition)

12 comments on “ST 4276 (Sun 11 May) – Lock and Awe”

  1. Thanks for blogging this and confirming a few worst fears. Despite this puzzle’s poor record I still waste a lot of time searching for answers, which is the real annoyance. 2 and 5 are just embarrassing, but I’m not sure anyone at the ST cares enough to be embarrassed.

    I agree about the setter’s mental ellipsis at 5dn. It would be quite a good, witty clue as “He quietly takes…” (I think the setter believes that rustlers no longer exist).

    Crossword by ST, editing by John Prescott.

    Here endeth the Sunday rant.

  2. I mentioned a possible query on 24ac but I see the reasoning clearly now. As you say, one doesn’t always feel it’s worth persevering with clues one doesn’t understand in the ST puzzle as there are so many errors and I had already reconciled myself to two in this one at 2 and 5. I don’t think “he” being omitted from 5 wouldn’t explain “Not entirely”, would it? I still wonder if I am missing something here.
  3. Thanks for your thought processes re ST 4276, fascinating stuff for a simple soul such as I.
    Interestingly, my copy of the Sunday Times did read “loch” in the clue for two down.
  4. Inevitably, it’s the setters and crossword editors who get the blame, but from what you say, dorosatt, it’s the paper’s senior management who deserve to get it in the neck.

    It’s weird, years back I worked in newspaper journalism (pre-web days) and it was regarded as a golden rule of the business that if ever you were launching/relaunching/redesigning a newspaper, you sorted out the crossword before anything else – it was seen as the one thing you couldn’t afford to screw up. And perhaps rightly so, since people invest a lot of time in doing puzzles and become proportionately angry when they find out they’ve been wasting that time.

    I guess, depressingly, papers are now run by executives rather than news people, and execs with their shiny MBAs know that so long as your PR is okay and your business model is polished, you can afford to drive a small proportion of your customers up the wall and still make your financial targets.

    1. I think I might drop the editor a line (he’ll be quaking in his boots). No point complaining to the crossword department if they’re under-resourced. I guess if we never make a noise nothing will change.

      1. Maybe part of the problem is that this puzzle could be regarded as a “teeth-cutting” crossword (though often with one or two “dictionary” words to make it tougher to finish), with the result that beginners don’t tend to notice or worry about mistakes (usually thinking that they must have missed something) while more experienced solvers are probably more interested in its neighbour (the Mephisto), which is always excellent, and probably aren’t too bothered if there’s a mistake in the standard puzzle. The same is probably true of the Sunday Telegraph, which has both the EV (Listener-style) puzzle and a standard cryptic, which seems to have generally worse clues but fewer errors than the Sunday Times cryptic.
        1. I’m absolutely certain you’re right, talbinho. But it’s not an excuse for some of what we see in the ST puzzle. There’s no reason why new solvers should be palmed off with second rate fare. Had this one been my first ever cryptic, I’m not sure I would have done a second (okay, I’m a bit picky, but still).

          I’m pretty sure that you, or PB, or quite a few of the other regulars could have turned this into a good puzzle with half an hour’s work.

          Hope you don’t mind my going on at length. I do it because:
          a) I think blogging these must be somewhat thankless, and I’d hate for you to get no comments after all your hard work.
          b) The last couple of weeks I’ve been helping my partner out with hours of mind-numbing transcription work and I’m desperate for something else to do!
          c) I had to swear myself off Mephisto and others some years ago after becoming obsessed with crosswords and linguistics to the point of cracking up. So I’m stuck with daily Times and ST only.

          1. More than happy for you to go on at length! Sorry that you had to give up the Mephisto, though, and I feel this may have been a false economy: after all, the more crosswords you do the faster you get, so really you’re saving yourself time with each extra puzzle.
        2. You might achieve more by writing to the ‘xcomments@…’ address which used to be the way to the bulletin board a couple of years ago and is now for unpublished comments. That said, I can’t promise that any corrections you tell them about will be carried out. For whatever reason, this does not often happen.
  5. For 9D, the Concise Oxford has “itinerant monk travelling from shrine to shrine under a vow of poverty”, as well as the ‘pilgrim’ def which I’d seen before. The same dictionary has the fishing fly, which just shows how obscure you can be with a small dictionary.

    Slightly stunned that talbinho seems not to have encountered the FIELDFARE before – there’s a very chestnutty clue about picnics – but LIMPKIN would had been new to me too.

    1. Thanks Peter – I really should invest in a Concise Oxford. (It’s entirely possible, by the way, that I have encountered ‘fieldfare’ before but forgotten it; these things happen as you get older, you know.)

      I have to confess to not having even noticed half the misprints in last week’s puzzle (thanks to dorosatt for bringing them all to light), though it seems that some (all?) of these were unique to the online version, which is notoriously unrealiable.

  6. This was really quite an easy one except for the itinerant bait-monk at 9d where, if you have never heard of either of the things used in the double definition, you are doomed to a DNF.

    I AM reasonable on my birds and FIELDFARE at 26a was a write-in – I am not surprised that this is a “chestnut” as PB has said above. The LIMPKIN – a moderate sized aquatic bird from the tropical to sub-tropical Americas – was new to me but it was fairly clued once all the checkers were in place.

    I did not notice the mistake at 5d. I had RUSTLED until I solved the easy anagram at 15a just changing 5d to RUSTLER without trying to re-solve the clue. Good tactic as it turns out.

    There are just the 5 “easies” omitted from the blog. This set could have been any 5 from 28 really despite misprints and mistakes.

    18a Looking before buying a pane of glass? (6,8)

    22a After a time, wearies of clothes (7)

    7a Accounting for one of the librarian’s activities (4-7)

    23d After his traditional drink, sailor rising to dance (5)
    RUM BA

    27d Parisian’s friend is in a mi nk (3)

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