Studying Cryptics

Believe it or not, there’s a short course available in Melbourne for those wanting to learn how to do cryptics.

It sounds like it involves nothing more than going over the day’s cryptic from The Age, and seeing as though the sessions are held on Thursdays, I’d demand my money back (I’m convinced NS stands for notoriously simple.)

Should we perhaps launch a course in Advanced DA Studies?

Golden DA from the 25th of July Edition

1 down: Champion bowler in likely arena dismissed opener in fury (7)

One can truly appreciate the DA artistry in a clue such as this. Except for the last, all the important words in this clue have a meaning in cricket. Likely arena = mcg, fury = wrath, dismissed opener in fury = rath and champion bowler = mcgrath = likely arena dismissed opener in fury.

6 down: State how 18-across (actor) Turner embraced international approvals (9)

Actor Turner = Lana, the delightful international approvals = oui + si and state = Louisiana = actor Turner embraced international approvals.

15 across: Obviously brick veneer potentially sound (9)

Blatantly was all that fit given everything else that was around it, and that means obviously. What wasn’t so obvious is how the rest of the clue could be made to mean the same thing, and on Sunday we left perplexed. Since then, however, I’ve managed to figure out that brick veneer = b, potentially = latently, potentially sound = latantly and obviously = blatantly = brick veneer potentially sound.

DA Defeated, and Quickly!

Solved Friday DA

The Tigers took out the Bears on the Saturday night, it was raining on the Sunday so I was driving, LM was going for a swim near Bridge Road and Richmond, the suburb all of a sudden associated with success after the yellow-and-black’s recent spate of form, came to be our destination.

Flavours of Lakhoum proved yet again that exquisite food is always more important than amusingly deplorable service by being full, and we settled on Timbale, where the food is as easy to forget as the service.

TH and I had shared a drink to celebrate SH’s 30th the night before, so maybe the loosening of the rational ties that bind the mind and scupper the happy tangent was the reason for our defeating DA in significantly less than two hours. I like to think, though, that Joel Bowden’s slotting through the sealer the night before with only 23 seconds left on the clock had something to do with it, and that suffused through Richmond was an infectious confidence that seeped into our successful assault on the DA.

Surprisingly enough for a DA, only one clue featured a piece of trivia that was largely unbeknownst to us:

5 across: Composer fried edibles (7)

This was clearly an anagram of edibles for a composer, and with the help of a cross clue or two, we managed to get Delibes out as the answer. I seemed to recall a composer by that name in the dark recesses of my mind, but as experience has demonstrated many times over, some rather curious words are found in the dark recesses of one’s mind whenever they seem to fit what’s left of an almost-finished cryptic. Thankfully, concern over this particular area of contention was proven unnecessary after the answers were consulted.

And even more happily, what consulting the answers proved beyond doubt was that we were justified in leaving Timbale in time to pick up LM from the pool. DA had been vanquished, DA was dead; long live DA.

A Confusing Piece of Gold (18th of July edition)

3 across: Time for bar, swallowing back essential drug?! (4, 1′ 5)

The apostrophe certainly came in handy here, so it wasn’t too hard to figure out that the time to go to the bar to swallow back a nice drug is a funny piece of beer o’ clock cryptic-crossword gold. What is hard to figure out, though, is any logical explanation for the answer other than its being a direct cryptic synonym.

DA Gold (18th of July edition)

24 across: Terror during lopsided tennis set has pulsating effect?

TC TH came up with the thrilling breakthrough: a lopsided tennis set is 6-0, or VIO. From that brilliant start, and with the help of a cross clue or two,  it came to pass that terror = brat, lopsided tennis set = vio and terror during lopsided tennis set = vibrato = pulsating effect.

Update: There’s RC and EC, but there is definitely no TC. TH, please forgive me.

18th of July Friday on 19th

friday attempt

The sun was out and the sky was blue, but a southerly on the express train directly from the Antarctic was sweeping through fine Melbourne on the Saturday just past.

TC and I met a bit before midday at our new haunt, Sicilian Orange. We both braved the wind chill and bicycled down on our trusty steeds, eager to tackle the DA that RC in Beijing was raving about.

Tragically, the meeting of the cryptic minds had to be cut short so that I could meet my brother at the MCG and watch the Tigers defeat the Bombers. It was the first time this year I had been at the ground to see Richmond take home the points after already having watched three tragic losses, so the poor progress made on the DA had a silver lining, at least for me. Pity the poor Bomber who had to make the same compromise.

The crossword above was the result of an hour’s work. Mostly, it was a confusing hour’s work, with some of DA’s simplest mixed up with some of his toughest.

The Friday 11th of July Gold

6 down: To fail when fishing in the Caribbean? (6)

Dead-set classic. Tobago = in the Caribbean and the special to bag 0 = to fail when fishing.

9 across: Roach damaged lips on fish heads (6)

The greatest virtue of the cryptic is that it deals in heavy servings of slang. And without at least some exposure to the seedier side, damaged lips = spli, fish heads = ff and roach = spliff would be baffling.

11, 22 across: Matchless era of history? (4, 4)

I needed some cross clues, but era of history = dark ages = matchless is really quite funny.

4 down: Bogans stutteringly uprooted yonder tree (8)

Sounds-like clues were a feature of this cryptic, and this one’s rolled gold. Tree = fir, yonder = far, uprooted yonder tree = rifraf, stutteringly uprooted yonder tree = rif-fraf-f and, of course, bogans = riffraff (which might just be the only word in the English language to contain the sequence ffr).

12 across: Duffing goal, entire disaster for Premier League team (10)

This is not a particularly brilliant clue, but it does illustrate why DAs have an added kick to them. In this clue, there are two anagram signifiers in duffing and disaster, which makes you think there might not be any anagrams at all. Then there’s also goal and Premier League team at opposite ends of the clue, which makes you think that there’s a good chance a double-meaning is part of the solution. Eventually though, you get to the point where you realise that goal and the two anagram signifiers are red herrings, and this really is just a simple anagram clue, where duffing goal, entire = relegation = disaster for Premier League team.

10 across: Stooge leader sacked, swallowing poison in cordial fashion (8)

This has nothing else to commend it other than the reference to a Stooge. Poison = bane, Stooge leader sacked = urly and in cordial fashion = urbanely.

DA’s Many Confusions (11th July)

5 down: Hypocrisy typical in tennis match (6, 9)

I got this out early but tentatively because I still can’t figure out how tennis match = double standards like hypocrisy = double standards.

18 across, 7 down: Baseball score impossible with… (4, 3)

I solved this one because of the cross clues, but again, I had no explanation for why impossible with = home run like baseball score = home run.

Update: This has been edited because from TH I’ve only just learnt that a “…” means refer to the next clue. All this time, I never thought the “…” meant anything at all, so the clue really should be Baseball score impossible with away game, and the solution home run becomes not that great a mystery.

8 down: Nun half-accepted goodness over mature, rational thinking (9)

I managed to arrive at syllogism = rational thinking, but the rest?

28 across: Non-wizard aboard 7-downs (runs) (8)

Only the answer in Saturday’s paper could convince me that smuggler had anything to do with the answer to this clue.

27 across: Address illegal bookie as per hearsay (6)

I figured address = speech, but the rest of it, I’m not so sure.

25 down: … latterly produced spleen (3)

All I can figure on is that spleen = ire.

Update: See my update above, for this clue becomes a thousand times easier when it’s read as eyrie latterly produced spleen.