Positional indicator protocol

posted by Nila Palin 6/1/2018
Further to a brief discussion at Times for the Times, I'm hoping that someone in the know will be able to clarify whether the old Times tradition of A on B = BA in an across clue is still in use. It's a minor point, but probably one of interest to cryptic crossword enthusiasts.
The convention seems to apply uniquely to the Times (as cited in former Times crossword editor Brian Greer's book 'How To Do The Times Crossword' [2001], but I see the setter David McLean (aka Hoskins) also advocates it on his website.
The trigger for the discussion is the clue "Cappuccino maker is putting chocolate on it — cheers!" for BARISTA in yesterday's paper.
I'd be interested to know whether the other traditions peculiar to The Times that Mr Greer mentions (pp 50-51) still apply too.
____________________________________________
Richard Rogan 5 hours ago
Yes the convention still applies
RR Crossword editor
__________________________________________________________
jackkt 4 hours ago
@Richard Rogan Thanks for responding, Richard, but if the rule still applies then how do you account for the clue quoted by Nila (17ac in #26954)? Is it an error that slipped through the net , or have we misunderstood the parsing?
Richard Rogan 3 hours ago
Having now double checked the clue you refer to (for BARISTA) it does indeed infringe the rule. Not sure I'd call it an "error" as such as it is only "wrong" by our convention, but I would normally change the wording to reflect the normal way we do things!
Tags:

test2

At 28 minutes I found this quite an easy puzzle but there are one or two references that may prove troublesome for those who don't happen to know them. Fortunately for me, for once I did!

Can any of my fellow bloggers or LJ experts suggest a way of preventing opening remarks appearing in larger font than the blog itself. I noticed Don's QC blog yesterday appeared similarly. As viewed before posting (or saving an edit) the font sizes look the same, but after posting and saving the introduction appears two points larger.




As usual definitions are underlined in bold italics, {deletions are in curly brackets} and [anagrinds, containment, reversal and other indicators in square ones]



Across
1 Palm about to provide cover (6)

COCOON - COCO (palm), ON (about)
4 Injured captain who lost control, oddly trendy (8)

BLIGHTED - BLIGH (captain who lost control - mutiny on the Bounty), T{r}E{n}D{y} [oddly]

test

At 28 minutes I found this quite an easy puzzle but there are one or two references that may prove troublesome for those who don't happen to know them. Fortunately for me, for once I did!

Can any of my fellow bloggers or LJ experts suggest a way of preventing opening remarks appearing in larger font than the blog itself. I noticed Don's QC blog yesterday appeared similarly. As viewed before posting (or saving an edit) the font sizes look the same, but after posting and saving the introduction appears two points larger.


As usual definitions are underlined in bold italics, {deletions are in curly brackets} and [anagrinds, containment, reversal and other indicators in square ones]

Across
1 Palm about to provide cover (6)
COCOON - COCO (palm), ON (about)
4 Injured captain who lost control, oddly trendy (8)
BLIGHTED - BLIGH (captain who lost control - mutiny on the Bounty), T{r}E{n}D{y} [oddly]
1_jackkn

test 26900

Add your introduction here

Definitions underlined in italics, (ABC)* indicating anagram of ABC, {} deletions and [] other indicators.

Across
1 Rather smelly student admitted making valiant effort (6)
GAMELY -
4 Just has been half-heartedly about to cheer (8)
BRIGHTEN -
10 Match not easily rearranged? (7)
FIXTURE -
11 Hero on edge, turning over seat behind (7)
PILLION -
12 Frost's verse using archaic language (4)
RIME -
13 Bat in jeopardy, along with European mollusc (10)
PERIWINKLE -
15 Posse that disperses at a gallop (9)
POSTHASTE -
16 Old HQs initially lacking much-needed water sources (5)
OASES -
18 Wine the French sent back of superior vintage? (5)
ELDER -
19 Very low floor (5-4)
KNOCK-DOWN -
21 Potential sailor, one with typical scruffy clothing (10)
CAPABILITY -
23 Borderline soft drug (4)
HEMP -
26 Undoubted competition among papers? Quite the opposite (7)
EVIDENT -
27 Girl trouble faced by a grown-up? (7)
ABIGAIL -
28 Much-followed wind-up by extremists on Twitter (8)
TRENDING -
29 Sound emanating from band causing irritability (6)
CHOLER -
Down
1 Third of balls dropped by sportsman's runner (5)
GOFER -
2 "Made the most of" expressed in pithy words, you could say (9)
MAXIMISED -
3 Brash couple, initially livening up (4)
LOUD -
5 Theatre to mount play again (7)
REPRISE -
6 Blonde's mad dog kills CO (10)
GOLDILOCKS -
7 Packed hotel in credit (5)
THICK -
8 Nouns split by Spooner confused nobody (3-6)
NON-PERSON -
9 Holiday depression (6)
RECESS -
14 Wanting cash for biscuit (10)
SHORTBREAD -
15 Clairvoyant now touring Jersey with neighbours (9)
PRESCIENT -
17 Try to hinder division in the countryside? (9)
STONEWALL -
19 Huge weight I left with faulty casing overturned (7)
KILOTON -
20 Unqualified support for public spending (6)
OUTLAY -
22 A lot of big cats prefer gutted fish (5)
PRIDE -
24 Remote northern city between two rivers (5)
POLAR -
25 Having sex between married couple? (4)
WITH -

Times Monthly Club Special 20204

TIME TAKEN
GENERAL COMMENTS
Across
1 Rodent died after turning tail, last to go (5)
- Answer
4 Arrest drastically delayed: after prison uniform (8)
- Answer
8 Twig — stick with fancy point — makes sense in Highlands (14)
- Answer
10 Double salt initially mixed into bitter soup (9)
- Answer
11 In pursuit of tips on cloth, one tries game wool supplier (5)
- Answer
12 Old mnemonic devices in Latin which matter (6)
- Answer
14 Try and shoot bats (8)
- Answer
17 Sceptics misled — if nicely — about stocks (8)
- Answer
18 Squaddy’s haunt, regularly visited, recalled trading facility (6)
- Answer
20 What’s central to bellyache is keeping dry part of tongue (5)
- Answer
22 Check out European city with one’s cab drivers there? (9)
- Answer
24 Producer Slavonicized, strangely, within Denmark’s borders (5,1,8)
- Answer
25 Vi, after drinking gin, back drying out (8)
- Answer
26 Spot Russian spy dropping off article (5)
- Answer
Down
1 Pub poured writer a port (12)
- Answer
2 Pack up — and take part of the dessert (5)
- Answer
3 Like some finely made books that would get a younger one over the moon? (4-5)
- Answer
4 With jars holding one gallon, judges turn up (3-3)
- Answer
5 March girl up with woolly coat off and stop (8)
- Answer
6 See tailless parasite in running water (5)
- Answer
7 Blue, inverted, crowned at the edges, like some corollas (3-6)
- Answer
9 Fine to grasp sensitive part in extract from book or cheap film (5,7)
- Answer
13 Seduce with hot text to Mrs Sprat? (9)
- Answer
15 Immigrant settlers in church plan to keep move on ice (9)
- Answer
16 Very good for ducks to be in? (8)
- Answer
19 Birth control pioneer promoting pill in East London terraces? (6)
- Answer
21 Motorists coming across tackle powerful dog (5)
- Answer
23 Goddess’s answer is one in patriarch’s heart (5)
- Answer

Test







QUICK CRYPTIC puzzle number / setter's name
[This line is for cutting and pasting into the Title field when you transfer the blog into Live Journal]



[Introductory comments including solving time if you wish, but it is not compulsory]

[Key to individual style if you are using one e.g. brackets, indicators, bold, italics etc. Again this is not compulsory]



Across
No1 CLUE
ANSWER - EXPLANATION
No2.
-
No3
-
No4
-
No5
-
No6
-
No7
-
No8
-
No9
-
No10
-
No.
-
No.
-
No.
-
No.
-
No.
-
No.

Down
No. CLUE
ANSWER - EXPLANATION
No.
-
No.
-
No.
-
No.
-
No.
-
No.
-
No.
-
No.
-
No.
-
No.
-
No.
-
No.
-
No.
-
No.
-
No.
-
Cat_1

Crossword clues that are fit for young and old by Rose Wild

Ian Baird from Framlingham, Suffolk, is worried that some seismic shift may be occurring in our cryptic crossword traditions. “Some years ago,” he writes, “I pointed out to you the difficulties young people would have solving The Times crosswords, owing to the fact that the setters were stuck in a time warp of about 70 years ago.” As evidence, Mr Baird referred to the setters’ convention of using slang from the 1940s, or earlier — like “SA” or “it” to mean sex appeal.

Now he’s got a different problem. “Old folks like me are used to the style, and so when I saw a clue about sexual appeal last week, I tried ‘SA’ and ‘it’. In fact the answer required us to know that to say someone is ‘fit’ means he or she has sex appeal, which as far as I am aware is a coinage from about three years ago.” What was more, he wrote, “In the same crossword, the word ‘moon’ was used to mean expose one’s bottom. If the crossword setters are going to use 21st-century slang, how are old buffers like me expected to finish them?”

Oh dear, what a worry. I asked Richard Rogan, The Times crossword editor, if the crosswords were having a midlife crisis. “It” and “SA”, he concedes, may well have outstayed their welcome. “The excuse offered is that they are so useful to the setter and in any case are part of ‘crossword convention’. Indeed the meaning of ‘moon’ (another useful one for us) goes back further than imagined, and ‘fit’ has meant more than just ‘highly trained’ for longer than one might think.”

To find out just how long, I went to Jonathon Green, whose majestic three-volume Green’s Dictionary of Slang must surely have the answer among its 100,000 or so entries. Under “fit” for good-looking, Green gives recent citations including Victor Headley’s 1992 novel, Yardie — “Dat girl yah fit, you know” — along with an example from San Francisco University High School from 2005. Further back, though, is a citation from 1884, in a novel by Henry Hawley Smart, From Post to Finish, A Racing Romance.

Smart was a military sort who, having served in the Crimean War and during the Indian Mutiny, lost all his money on the horses and made a second career writing “popular” fiction, largely drawing on his knowledge of racing, hunting and the Army. The particular citation for “fit” — “Blame me, I do know whether they’re turned out all right when I see ’em, and mean my girl to look as fit as any of ’em” — sounds to me as if it could equally apply to a horse as a woman, but if Green says it’s a human filly I’ll believe him.

Either way, I think “fit” passes muster as both ancient and modern slang for crossword purposes. “The dictionaries are our guide,” Richard Rogan says. “When they decide that a term is either archaic, or to be dispensed with, then we would probably reflect that. Similarly once a newer meaning has made it into the latest edition, then it is probably a signal that we can adopt it. Having said that, both ‘bling’ and ‘selfie’ have made it into our crossword in recent times before their debut in the ‘paper’ dictionaries.”

PB on Times Crossword House style

This is a list of points about the Times puzzle that differ from at least some other cryptic xwds. (Posts with information like this that should be good advice for ever will be stored under the new "tips&tricks" tag.) Occasionally setters seem to take rules like this as a challenge and try to get rule-breaking clues accepted, and mistakes can be made, so you should ultimately rely on common sense and general principles of cryptic cluemanship, rather than strict application of this list of house rules derived partly from observation.

Some of these points are taken from a list on pp. 50-52 of Brian Greer's "How to solve the Times Crossword" - if setters know of changes to these since Brian's spell as editor (1995-2000), they are welcome to tell me by comment or e-mail. I'll update this posting with any points that I realise I've omitted as a result of future discussions.

Rules about clues

Hidden words
No more than one 'pure' hidden word clue per puzzle. (Reversed hidden words aren't 'pure' in this context.) (Limits like this are for 15x15 puzzles - if there are limits for jumbos, I don't know what the numbers are.)

Homophones
The exact rules are hard to determine by observation, but it seems to be that if the pronunciations in the reference dictionaries match, that's good enough. This allows post-vocalic R's to be ignored, as in RP - in an example from 17/1/2008, gutta-percha = "gutter percher".

Anagrams
No more than 5 pure anagrams.

One-way link words
"Link words" are ones between def. and wordplay - e.g. "in" or "as". These two can be used regardless of the order of def. and wordplay. The following two must be used with one order only:
{wordplay} for {def}
{def} from {wordplay}

Capital letters
Words that require capital letters in the cryptic reading must have them. However, 'deceptive capitalisation' is permitted. In other words, a word with a capital letter in the clue doesn't necessarily have a wordplay meaning requiring a capital letter - so Joanna Strong's instrument (10) could be PIANO,FORTE. This example shows why I'm not a Times setter and probably never will be - Times setters avoid cheesy fictional names which are usually a dead giveaway, and even more so, clashes of word-meanings between the def. and wordplay.

One
"one" in a clue can indicate I in an answer, but not A.

Definition by example
To use "bay" in a clue to mean "horse" in an answer used to require a word like "perhaps" to indicate definition by example. Under Richard Browne, this is not always required.

Infinitives
'to' in the infinitive in a clue can be ignored in the answer - e.g. It's trendy to like old colour for IN,DIG,O

Numbers in digits
In clues, these point to answers to other clues. But only in print - for reasons I don't understand, the web-site version of the puzzle often uses (e.g.) "three" for "3".

Reference dictionaries
The vast majority of answers other than proper nouns are in Collins English Dictionary and/or the Concise Oxford. My estimate is that 'vast majority' here means at least 95%. Occasionally, words or meanings outside these are used. A recent example is 'homer' = biased referee/umpire. The weird stuff found in Chambers - taghairm, kilfud-yoking, wagger-pagger-bagger, etc. etc. ad infinitum - is never used. (Exception: the 'Club Monthly Special' on the Times Crossword Club site). [Note, Sept. 2008: "99.5%" above replaced by "95" after a few recent words that seem to be in Chambers only.]

Abbreviations
The Times puzzle does not let setters use all the abbreviations in any dictionary. For one-letter abbrev's in particular, there is believed to be a fairly short list of acceptable ones.


Rules about answers

Living people
Names of individual living people are not used as answers (or clue content), unless they mean something else, like 'John Dory'. But names of (well-known) pop groups (e.g. ABBA in the 4/1/2008 puzzle) are apparently allowed. Sole exception: the reigning monarch can be referred to, usually as a way of indicating ER in the answer.

Drawing room conversation
Things like serious illnesses or derogatory terms are not used as answers. All answers and clue content used to be suitable for "polite drawing room conversation" but some risqué references are permitted now that would not have been allowed in the past. (No. 23652 has an example, for those with access to archived puzzles).

Brand names
As far as I know these are not allowed.

Endings and beginnings
Few -S plurals (limit of three?), minimal repetition of common prefixes and suffixes - you're unlikely to get two UN- words in the same puzzle for instance. This includes derived word-forms like -ING and -LY.

Rules about grids

Setters choose grids from a set managed by the xwd editor. Since about 1965, all grids in this set have followed three significant rules:

  • No more than half the letters in any answer are unchecked


  • There are never more than two unchecked letters in succession in any answer


  • Double unches are never the first or last two letters of an answer



Added based on comments on 23691: no two plural nouns or third person singular verb forms should intersect at their final S - e.g. CROSSWORDS and SOLVES. Setters are also advised to avoid filling the east vertical or south horizontal with "easy" letters as in e.g. SETTERS.

Themes and Ninas


Themes are rare in Times puzzles but are seen occasionally - maybe twice a year in the 15x15 cryptic. "Ninas" (messages in the grid, or subtle themes that don't have to be spotted to help solve the puzzle) appear more often - maybe twice a month

PB on single letter abbreviations (at 25 October 2015)

Abbrevs
The Mephisto rule isn't "anything goes", but "anything in Chambers goes" - as for the rest of the puzzle. All cryptic crosswords use single-letter and other abbreviations, but their rules about what's allowed vary. The Times crossword has had a fairly short list for one-letter ones (and AFAIK still does), which is mostly the ones in both Collins and the Concise Oxford. I'm currently prepared to use anything from Collins or the Oxford Dictionary of English (preferably not obscure ones from both in the same puzzle), plus a few from real life - N for no and Y for yes, and the card suit ones - I was surprised to notice that H=Hearts needs Chambers, and with a bridge column on the same page it seems daft to disallow them.