Sunday Times 4674 by Jeff Pearce – Hertz So Good

26:12. I found this decidedly challenging, but also very enjoyable. As I and others have commented before, Jeff Pearce really seems to have upped his game in recent months.

Not all of this seems to have met with universal approval, judging by the club forum. There was the odd grumble about 17ac, which I thought was rather good, but more ire was reserved for 16dn, which requires knowledge of the old Avis tag line ‘We Try Harder’. I confess I only parsed this post-solve, but when the penny dropped I laughed, and I thought the slogan was sufficiently well-known to be fair game: apparently it was used for fifty years! I certainly don’t mind the use of advertising slogans in these puzzles: it seems perfectly in keeping with the more light-hearted tone we expect on a Sunday.

There’s one thing I don’t understand in here: according to my parsing 4dn/7ac requires ‘game’ to indicate HE, and I don’t see how it does. Help gratefully received!

Thanks to Jeff, and here’s wishing all setters, bloggers, commenters and lurkers health and happiness in 2016.

1 Damaged spears must do
9 Gounod’s opera doesn’t open with new 24 about Haydn, say
AUSTRIANfAUST, then a reversal of N, AIR (the answer to 24 down).
10 Tory newspaper accepts one version of canard
CONFIT – CON, F(I)T. A duck being one of the things you’re most likely to see prepared in this way, i.e. cooked in its own fat. Mmmm, fat.
11 See rook in a tree from seat
BREECH – B(R)EECH. Not a meaning of the word I was familiar with but the wordplay is kind.
13 Game’s extremely messy after a couple of drinks
14 Why, say drug user hid horrible instruments
HURDY-GURDIES – (Y, DRUG USER HID)* where Y is a homophone (say) of ‘why’. ‘Horrible’ is the anagrind, although it could also be part of the definition.
17 The order of chimps?
ALPHABETICAL – CD, and a very clever one too, based on the fact that the letters of the word CHIMPS appear in ALPHABETICAL order. I hope I wasn’t alone in 1) trying to fit some derivative of ‘primate’ into the grid and 2) thinking the clue didn’t seem very cryptic.
20 They’re said to be the same but they don’t mean it
HOMONYM – CD. I was confused by this because I thought a HOMONYMity was to do with spelling rather than sounds, but it can be either, or both.
21 Sense belt is fashionable
22 Odd fish party spotted behind dam
23 Monopoly could be badly affected by this pessimistic forecast
NO CHANCE – if you had NO CHANCE, or no Community Chest for that matter, then your game of Monopoly would be badly affected. Although it might stop you playing the game at all, which would be a very positive effect in my book.
25 Tie? One’s not required on beach
26 Camp kind of guy following priest in fashionable shade of purple
HELIOTROPE – tricky construction here: ELI the priest (also a prophet in the Torah, as we discovered recently) is contained in HOT, then followed by a ROPE: the kind of guy you would find in a camp.

2 It could be bleak in such a tank
AQUARIUM – CD. A bleak is a kind of fish.
3 TV needing to be studied for English Lit exam
SET – DD, one a reference to the phrase ‘SET text’
4, 7a Uni gym backed hosting musical about game villain
URIAH HEEP – another tricky one where there’s something I can’t explain so I’m unsure of the construction. I think it’s U (university) and PE (gym) reversed and containing (hosting) a reversal (about) of HAIR (musical) and… HE. I’ve no idea how HE relates to ‘game’. Perhaps I’ve got the wrong end of the stick.
5 Sailor eats grouse — term for game bird
TANAGER – TA(NAG, gamE)R. I vaguely remembered this bird but I needed all the wordplay to be confident of it.
6 One circle turned into square
7 One may get cross when it’s published
HONOURS LIST – CD, and a prescient one considering the current fuss about assorted mates of Dave getting gongs in the most recent list. MBEs, OBEs and whatnot are cross-shaped medals.
8 One leaves Imagine playing to get a puzzle
ENIGMA – (IMAGiNE)*. The surface would make more sense if you replaced the words ‘get a puzzle’ with ‘clear the room’ or ‘extract information under duress’.
12 Being tried English knight scoffed outside front of assizes
15 Insecure pygmy shot six-footer
GYPSY MOTH – (PYGMY SHOT)*. I have seen ‘six-footer’ and similar for insects enough times to be wise to it these days but it has caught me out in the past.
16 Would those who once tried harder get support in this event?
DAVIS CUP – D (would), AVIS (‘We Try Harder’), CUP (support).
18 Starts to arrange ways to return weapons
ARSENAL – ARrange, reversal of LANES.
19 About to throw up over old jacket
BOLERO – RE, LOB reversed (up), O.
21 Tips of wild asparagus and crushed kernels of nuts
WACKO – first letters (tips) of wild asparagus and crushed kernels of.
24 Put out caviare evenly
AIR – the even letters in caviare.

14 comments on “Sunday Times 4674 by Jeff Pearce – Hertz So Good”

  1. Don’t usually comment on my colleague’s puzzles, but 6d is brilliant. Nice one Jeff!
    1. Yes it is brilliant, now that you mention it. I think I was distracted by thinking that ‘square’ for RECONCILE was a bit of a stretch, but of course it isn’t, is it?
  2. I was wondering about HE, too; I do hope someone comes up with an explanation. DNK BLEAK, but that didn’t matter much. Ditto BREECH, and that did slow me down. I must say that 16d immediately suggested Avis to me, but I hesitated nonetheless, wondering if this kind of clue was OK.(On edit: I parsed it as Adrian Cobb below suggests.) I agree with Anax: 6d is my COD.

    Edited at 2016-01-03 06:53 am (UTC)

  3. After some research on the Crossword Help Forum and then Collins, I found the following: “a children’s game in which one player chases the others in an attempt to touch one of them, who then becomes the chaser” – I knew it as “it”.

    For 16 d, I think the D belongs to D Cup (as support) rather than from “would”? Now that I have understood the parsing, I thought that was the best clue but there was quite a choice!

    Many thanks to setter and blogger.

    1. Ah, thanks. I didn’t find that in any of the usual dictionaries, or Wikipedia.

      I prefer my parsing for 16dn: I would expect some sort of containment indicator if ‘support’ were D CUP. I suppose you can read the whole clue so that AVIS ‘get support’ in the D CUP but then you don’t really need the word ‘would’. But either works so take your pick!

  4. 16:30 with a silly typo.

    Thank you to Adrian for the ‘he’ explanation. That was my only question mark.

    I thought the SQUARE clue was brilliant and the chimp one even better!

  5. The intention in 16D is would = ‘d. I was also puzzled by game=he rather than it, but it’s in the book and maybe makes better sense for those who went to schools for boys only.
    1. Thanks Peter. Not sure which book you’re referring to but I see now it’s in Collins. I’ve no idea how I managed to miss that.

      Edited at 2016-01-03 03:26 pm (UTC)

      1. It was certainly called what sounded like ‘he’ when played at my prep school in the mid 1950s but I was always under the impression it was spelt ‘hee’ although I can find no support for this as an alternative spelling. The person doing the chasing was ‘It’ and when they caught someone that person was ‘tagged’ and became the next ‘It’. I’d assume that’s why the game is also called ‘tag’.

        We played another version called ‘chain he(e)’ in which the original ‘It’ and all the players tagged remained in the chase holding hands until the last player was captured.

        Edited at 2016-01-03 11:43 pm (UTC)

  6. I scribbled in DAVIS CUP for 16dn but still don’t see it even with the above explanations. Could someone be kind enough to spell it out for an obvious thicko?
    1. The advertising slogan for Avis (the car rental company) was ‘We Try Harder’ from 1962 until 2012. So ‘those who once tried harder’ are AVIS. ‘Would’ is D and ‘support’ is CUP, hence D, AVIS, CUP. Hope that clears it up!
      1. Thank you. I have absolutely no recollection of this Avis connection and still do not see ‘Would’ as D, but thank you for explaining half of it. Hopefully, I will be more on the ball tomorrow
        1. D is just the normal abbreviation of ‘would’ in phrases like “I’d say so”. It’s relatively unusual to see it (or S for has/is) in isolation but that’s just because there aren’t many phrases (like D cup or S Club 7) with isolated letters like this in them.
  7. A D-cup would also provide support, especially if those who try harder were in it. 🙂

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