Sunday Times 4824 by Dean Mayer

9:33. This was unusually easy for a Dean Mayer puzzle, as far as I was concerned anyway.

There’s been some discussion of the Baader-Meinhof phenomenon (also known as the frequency illusion) here lately, and the singer Mario LANZA is an example of that for me. I had never heard of him (or so I thought) until he cropped up a couple of times in crosswords, and then I encountered him several times in the real world shortly afterwards. In this case I’m pretty sure I had come across him before (he really was very famous in his day) but until I needed his name to solve crossword clues it had just never fixed itself in my mind. That’s how this phenomenon works of course.

How did you get on with this one?

Definitions are underlined, anagrams indicated like (THIS)*, anagram indicators like this.

1 Topless soldiers showing muscle
4 Apt to supply answer? A blessing in disguise
ASSIGNABLE – (A, A BLESSING)*. I thought at first that this definition was iffy, since something that is ASSIGNABLE is the supplyee, as it were, rather than the supplier. However an amount of food, say, can also be said to supply a population.
9 Ignore gathering storm, and I will see gloom
DISCOURAGEMENT – DISCOUNT (ignore) containing RAGE (storm), ME (I).
10 One stands in for man or father
11 Please run through what you earn
12 Among patients ahead
ONWARD – two definitions, one very mildly cryptic if only in so far as ON and WARD aren’t separate in the answer.
14 Hot needle applied to sponge
15 Drop baby into bowl
17 One sending bill
18 Weak cup of tea unfinished
THIN – THINg. As in ‘crosswords are my thing’.
19 Bitter as wine that’s carried round
ASTRINGENT – AS, T(RING)ENT. TENT being a type of wine found in crosswords, of course.
21 Walk to the bar, OK?
CONSTITUTIONAL – the bar in the second part of the clue is the legal variety, who might consider something acceptable if it’s in accordance with the (in the case of the UK unwritten but nonetheless extant) constitution.
23 Park surrounded by water
DROP ANCHOR – cryptic definition.
24 Pot, or go to pot
SINK – DD, the first definition a reference to billiards.

2 Torn, but not as to the bottom
3 Name doctor one is dating
4 Decorated cherished houses close to town
5 Colour in drawing?
STRETCH THE TRUTH – CD. To ‘colour’ is to ‘misrepresent by distortion or exaggeration’ (ODO). I think that’s all there is to it, anyway, but I can’t shake the feeling I’m missing something here…
6 Keen to call short cosmonaut
7 One boards morning train
AIM – A(I)M.
8 Old singer has to go off, heading for Easter Island
11 PR people drop into shows
13 Being beside oneself
16 Romance? It’s “other things” in Latin name
ITALIAN – IT, ALIA, N. Being an example of a romance language. ALIA are the things in inter alia. Not to be confused with alios, which is garlicky mayonnaise.
17 One’s sorry about old actor
POITIER – P(O)ITIER. Sidney of that ilk.
20 Polyvinyl, one stocking material
NYLON – contained in ‘polyvinyl one’.
22 Exhaust — it’s quiet
SAP – SA (sex appeal, ‘it’), P. An opportunity for me to reiterate my request that SA/it be retired.

29 comments on “Sunday Times 4824 by Dean Mayer”

  1. I also wondered about STRETCH THE TRUTH, but I guess it is actually quite straightforward. Thanks to Keriothe for parsing THIN and PRESS AGENT.

    I always struggle with Dean’s puzzles (he’s the prime suspect for the one that was my nemesis in the Final) but this was a decent challenge that only just took me out of my 20 minute comfort zone.

    TIME 22:54

  2. I was 39 minutes, K but thoroughly enjoyed it. Being quite a bit older than you. I thought of Mario LANZA once I’d constructed the ROTE There were some cracking clues in the SW, ONWARD,THIN, DROP ANCHOR, NEIGHBOUR and my COD CONSTITUTIONAL, awarded in memory of the happiness the two great family dogs of my lifetime, Rex and Timmy – half a century apart – brought me. Thank you K and Dean.

    Edited at 2018-11-18 10:00 am (UTC)

  3. 20:51. I toyed with CHIN{a} for 18a (as in he had a weak chin), but eventually saw THIN{g}. Thanks for explaining how that second meaning of CONSTITUTIONAL was OK to the bar, which I didn’t quite see. Otherwise all was OK for me. I liked DROP ANCHOR.
  4. 20 minutes. There were a couple that held me up but I can’t remember what they were. Apologies if this is implicit in your comment, but given that draw/stretch can have similar meanings, I think 5d works by suggesting that ‘in stretching’ the truth, one might colour it.
      1. I see that Chambers gives ‘to lengthen’ and ‘to extend to the full length’ sv DRAW. I was thinking of ‘drawn steel’ where the drawing is a process of deformation through stretching.
        1. Ah yes, thanks, I think that must be it. Not a meaning I knew, and I didn’t check Chambers.
  5. 19 minutes for a Dean Mayer puzzle means it must have been one of his easiest ever and that was using the horrible and painfully slow app interface. Why they can’t stick to the daily’s layout is a mystery to me.
  6. 22:22. So all the 2s – or 4 little ducks.

    I liked this. COD: DESIGNATION for its nice surface.

  7. Thanks Keriothe. Since I’m around on Sundays this time of year I thought I’d come here to see what I was missing about stretching the truth and it turns out apparently nothing. I do find the Dean Mayer byline a bit demoralising because I approach the puzzles expecting to be addled. I also found the ASSIGNABLE definition a bit of a head-scratcher. So it was a hesitant 29.48 for me. P.S. I’ve always seen the mayo spelled “aioli” – is alios the UK version?
  8. It’s my idea of a joke. I won’t give up the day job. Although I don’t currently have a day job.
  9. I enjoyed this puzzle, but it was one of my slower times for a Dean at 44:58. I spent some time agonising over THIN or CHIN, and plumped for THIN without spotting the parsing. DROP ANCHOR raised a smile. Thanks Dean and K.
  10. 40:13. I got stuck here and there with the usual tricky stuff I expected but somehow found the puzzle perhaps more navigable than on other Sundays. I thought “park surrounded by water” was a good one.
  11. I got this in an email yesterday from David Parfitt as I have opted to get the regular puzzles bulletin. I thought it might be of interest to those who missed the QC puzzle: A clue with two right answers.
    “Away from chess, a recent Quick Cryptic crossword contained a rare phenomenon indeed: a cryptic clue yielding two genuinely valid answers that both fitted in the grid. The clue was:
    Blue vehicle, turning over, last in rally (4)
    And the pattern of crosschecking letters gave:
    Can you find both words that fit the clue? You can check your answers in Rose Wild’s Feedback column, which covered the story.
    David Parfitt
    Puzzles Editor
    1. Mr P might care to note that it’s much easier to spot the alternative answers than to try to work out who Rose Wild is and where her Feedback column is to be found!

      Edited at 2018-11-18 02:12 pm (UTC)

        1. For those without access to the database here are Rose Wild’s words:
          Doubly puzzling
          An indignant Hector Wood wrote: “Quick Cryptic 1210 contains an error, in my view. The answer to 3 Down should be ‘navy’, not ‘racy’ as you have it. Please tell me I am correct.”

          This was an interesting one. David Parfitt, the Times games and puzzles editor, explains that Mr Wood has chanced on one of the very rare occasions when a cryptic clue can lead to two equally valid answers.

          The clue was: Blue vehicle, turning over, last in rally (4).

          Mr Wood’s parsing of the clue was: definition = Blue = navy; wordplay = van (vehicle) reversed + Y (last letter in rally).

          Our parsing was: definition = Blue = racy (as in a blue movie or blue joke); wordplay = car (vehicle) reversed + Y (last letter in rally).

          “For this situation to occur,” David says, “the definition, wordplay and pattern of crosschecked letters in the grid need to fit both possible answers, so it really is something that happens only once in a blue moon. It’s slightly more common to have one obvious answer and an alternative that is a bit of a stretch, but rare to have one that fits both answers as well as this.”

          This, he says, is one of the most difficult “errors” to spot in editing a puzzle. “The editor’s only hope is if he happens to solve the clue with the answer that the setter didn’t intend, as he will then spot that his answer doesn’t match the one the setter specified. However, if he chooses the answer the setter intended, it is highly unlikely he will notice the alternative.”

          We apologise for causing this cryptic confusion.

          1. Many thanks for posting this, David. I DO have access to the data base (at great expense I, might add!) but was still unable to locate the article by searching on Rose Wild, Feedback, Quick Cryptic / Crossword, alone and in various combinations.
  12. 2d was my last one in, as I was reading it as TOM, rather than TORN. Please, please can we have a font in which these can be distinguished without a magnifying glass.
    1. This was my problem as well. I guessed the answer when I had the first letter but couldn’t see what TOM had to do with the definition. This is something they could easily change for the better. We’ve had this trouble before.
      1. Here’s irony. I usually do the puzzles when they come out in The Toronto Star, but recently I’ve taken to printing out The Sunday Times copy when The Star started reducing the puzzle to near the size of a postage stamp. However, this time The Star copy was better because, although they generally use a sans serif font, the puzzle clues are in Times Roman, so it is easy to distinguish between “Tom” and “Torn”. On the other hand, The Sunday Times generally uses Times Roman – except for puzzle clues…
  13. I was out all day last Sunday but looked at the puzzle in the evening and got 6 clues and thought that might be it. So it was not easy for me.
    But I did not give up and in a couple of longish shifts on Monday I managed to finish it. It felt like the hardest puzzle I had ever completed (an odd concept but clear I hope).
    FOI was Lanzarote which illustrates something abut age and GK. LOI was POITIER -and I remembered seeing him in “In the Heat of the Night”.
    Problems were Stretch the Truth -could not parse- and the rather brilliant DROP ANCHOR (2 LOI). Press Agents seemed unfamiliar.
    Anyway, a very enjoyable challenge. David

  14. Is there any way we can have a more legible font? We read the first word as “Tom” and were unsurprisingly stuck. There have been similar cases reported by bloggers recently

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