Sunday Times 4240 – STill the same

Solving time: about 9 mins

This is another puzzle I had to re-solve after losing last week’s copy – hence the approximate time.

There are old-fashioned aspects of the ST puzzle that take a bit of getting used to – barely cryptic defs like 15A, and the use of dodgy link-words (to, with) between def and wordplay. But these don’t grate as much as the mistakes that we seem to get every week. It was only on my second look that I realised what 13A, the last clue I solved, was all about. This is a rather clever clue, but in my original solve, the mistakes I’d seen reduced my faith in the setter to the point where I didn’t think it was worth trying to understand. The same nearly happened with 21A. The two slip-ups in this puzzle are doubly annoying because they could be corrected so easily.

1 POPE – 2 defs, one being Alexander P
10 RESOURCES – (cure sores)*. The “to” link grates a bit here as the clue would still have worked without it.
13 EARL=man entitled,O.B.E.’S=decorations – unless you want to fuss about ‘wearing’ = ‘next to’ rather than ‘inside’, this is good stuff.
15 ACREAGE – clue: “Agricultural tract”. One of those just slightly disguised defs that were used in the early days but have disappeared from many puzzles.
19 LOO(SE)NS – the first serious mistake – clue has “Release”, not “releases” as the def., at least in the on-line version – this one could have been a website typo not seen in the paper version.
21 LA,VOLTA – an old dance, and the Volta is a West African river (easier to remember when Burkina Faso was still called ‘Upper Volta’).
28 SOMME,LIER=lire* – this mistake can’t be a web-site problem. The def. is “restaurant owner”. The sommelier is, as you thought, the one who serves the wine. So “restaurant worker” or similar is what we need.
29 POSSES,S,SING – bits of low-level naffness here – “begin search” for “beginning of search”, and the word “for”, which does nothing in the wordplay. But Araucaria gets away with these …
6 ALAMO = “not entirely” ‘a la mode’
8 RUED = “rude”
9 SUNS=stars,HADE=head* – {suns = stars} is an old trick that can still fool me for a while.
20 S(YCOSI= (is coy)*)S – an inflammation of the hair follicles – I guess if the follicles concerned are empty, this could amount to a “rash”.
23 R(ASP)E – Rudolf Erich Raspe wrote the original Baron von Munchhausen book.

6 comments on “Sunday Times 4240 – STill the same”

  1. I noticed both mistakes last week too — the singular release def was hard to ignore. On the other hand, I was in a restaurant in NYC recently in which the owner was actually present and played the role of sommelier… so I was a little more forgiving of this clue!

    To harp on a string, I find the laissez-faire attitude at The Sunday Times about cryptic quality very hard to fathom. A simple remedy would be to submit each puzzle to a test olver before publication. I’m sure there are many readers here who’d be happy to volunteer. How does make one suggestions like this to the Powers That Be.

    1. Well the folk at the Times Crossword Club must be well aware that the number of mistakes per puzzle is far higher for this puzzle than the Times cryptic, and that really ought to be enough. The only other option is a letter or e-mail to the editor of the paper.

      External volunteers aren’t really the answer – you really need someone in the organisation who gets to check a proof of what’s going in the paper, as well as proper editing so that the printers get the right copy. The ‘releases’ mistake could have been at the printing stage.

  2. Re Ilanc’s comment: lots of restaurant owners take at least as much interest in their wine list as in their food (he may remember the former owner of Campagne in Seattle), but doing the job of wine waiter doesn’t turn you into the owner of the place. I thought this one was outstandingly careless, even by the lax standards of the ST. –JR.
  3. I am quite sure there was an article about the ST compiler when she was on the honours list earlier this year. I can’t remember her name but i was surprised by how long she’d been doing it and how advanced in years she is. I tried the bulletin board to encourage elucidation but as is often the case there was none forthcoming. I take it as an indication of how tenuous the lines of communication are and why the ST xword is the way it is. alanjc
    1. Barbara Hall – 84 when given the gong I think. As I understand it she’s the editor but supplies a high proportion of the puzzles herself. I think one or two apologies for ST slip-ups on the bulletin board have been attributed to the ST xwd ed.
  4. There were two mistakes in the clues for this one and these have dominated the discussion and the blog. A total of 18 “easies” that have not had any attention:

    3a Onshoreman, (a miner)*, travelling around the region (10)

    11a Passage beer is put inside (5)
    A IS LE

    12a Sailor in vessel plays a leading role (5)
    S TAR S

    17a (Times do)* change, couteriere found (7)

    22a From (Iran came)* over – he’s over the pond (8)

    23a Deny claim potato’s rejected? (5)
    REBUT. TUBER backwards – ? indicates that the humble spud is not the only edible tuber.

    27a Cash registers? (5)

    30a As well as being a little cross (4)
    PLUS. = +.

    1d Queen in shipwreck has fit – won’t last long (10)

    2d Dad has turned out to have a foreign title (5)
    PA SHA

    5d Remedy for when (Tom runs)* amok? (7)

    7d Twiddle (dial) and (press)*, to get broadcast (9)

    14d From (rude repast)*, there may naturally be leavings (10)

    16d Fellow lodgers (store ammo)* irregularly! (4-5)

    18d Bird perching on boy was amusing (8)

    21d Associate chap with one who once lit the way (7)

    25d Small sibling sick of fish (5)
    BR ILL

    26d Sudden break in the picture (4)

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