The DA from the 18th/19th of September

It’s been confirmed: DA has returned to Friday in the Sydney Morning Herald, and The Age will synchronise with the mother ship most likely next week.

Personally, I prefer the Friday appearance because I like a day of sizing up the crossword, feeling it out before the weekend comes when I usually take a proper look at it.

Either way, whether you’ve got the DA on Friday or Saturday, comment away.

Update: My brother’s wedding on Saturday and the impossibility of concentrating today means I only got thus far before putting my pen away:

DA, Maggie, A THEN A

46 thoughts on “The DA from the 18th/19th of September

  1. Glad to see DA returned to Friday. Let’s face it, Saturday’s cryptic is for the masses, and Friday’s is for the afficionados. Anyway, we’re struggling here to fully explain 2 down and 26 across. Tempted to call them both bullshit, but history suggests I’ll be eating egg off my face…

    2: Fair enough for the indirect clue to indicate “not in the deep sea”, but it seems a stretch to extend this to the full expression.

    26: I read somewhere that almost any word can indicate an anagram these days, but surely “plagued” is going too far? Or does it somehow simply instruct to swap “a” and “e”?

  2. Yay – I too got an email from the SMH, the wording of which was interesting: “the feedback was overwhelming – that DS remain the compiler on Saturdays.”

    So clearly the anti-DA-on-Saturday (or pro-DS-on-Saturday) response was much stronger than the pro-DA-on-Friday feedback.

  3. ack – I was just about to go and buy today’s SMH and then a friend informed me it is back to DS – I now have to go and scour the newsagents of Sydney’s Inner West to see if anyone has a copy of Friday’s paper!!

  4. Can someone explain 21A? we got RID but it was by then a pretty simple process of elimination.

    Still, we had that uneasy feeling when we went to check the solution.

    And not be be picky, but weren’t FLARES more 70s than 60s?

  5. 21A: 16-across crossword for free

    “16-across” = BEHEAD
    “crossword” = GRID
    BEHEAD GRID = RID, or to “free”

    Despite getting yesterday’s (Melbourne’s) crossword out, I have so many queries, questions and dubiousities that if I listed them all here I would look like a massive hog. Might be best just to plonk in a select few and see what issues others have.

  6. 2D, 14A, 11A: Hardly where to catch angelfish, stricken by 26-across?

    DA’s comment piece about the switch from Friday to Saturday.

    Yes, you are BETWEEN THE DEVIL AND THE DEEP BLUE SEA when you are “stricken by 26-across (DILEMMA)”. But it’s not a particularly elegant clue since there is no reason you wouldn’t find an angel on the horns of a dilemma. Horns, get it. The horn-ed one, Beelzebub. That’s a good one, TT. Nothing but net.

    Anyway, the devil is an angel, too.

    Hang on. Maybe it is a good clue.

  7. 3D: Shape hat briefly in empty racks

    “hat briefly” = homburg – rg = HOMBU
    “empty racks” = RS
    HOMBU “in” RS = RHOMBUS, a “shape”.

    My question: is there any limit to the number of letters that may be dropped off a word? I mean, “hat briefly” could also be, say, HOM. Is that kind of shortening fair?

  8. 9A: Court sitting in anticipation

    I’ve got PATIO. Is that right? (Sitting PAT, maybe.) And if so, how does it work?

  9. 23A: They offer a schooner for sailors smuggling hash? Never

    Actually, it’s a pretty good clue. But how does everyone feel about “hash” and “Never” being separated by the question mark?

  10. 27A: Sham offering unbacked TV set? Vice versa

    “unbacked TV set” = BOX – X = BO

    Does “offering” = PLACE?


    How does “vice versa” work?

  11. 20D: Goddess Gyllenhaal – or how to describe her unusual…

    Is the Goddess in question ATHENA? If so, what has she got to do with either Maggie or Jake?

  12. 25D: … coupling you heard during gala


    Why does it flow on from 20D, and how does it work?

  13. That is all.

    Thanks for your indulgences, and apologies for all the questions.

    If anyone thinks it’s a stupid idea to post so many comments, say so.

  14. I agree with you, TT, about:
    3D: Shortening HOMBURG by two letters is dodgy
    27A: My reasoning was same as yours. “Offering”=”place” seems a bit iffy. And I’ve no idea about “vice versa”.
    20D: I think it must be ATHENA. But why?

  15. 25D. No idea about the ……..part of it, but I make it U sounds like you, in the middle of ‘do’

    Likewise no idea about how Athena (?) is linked to the Gyllenhalls(I’m assuming Maggie)

  16. TT, I think I can help with:
    23A: I think “hash” (mess, jumble) is fine as an anagram indicator. And I’m OK with the “?” between “hash” and “never”, because I’ve learnt the hard way that punctuation is often used to improve only the surface reading, and it’s often at the expense of the wordplay logic.
    25D: No idea about the flow-on from the previous clue, but:
    you heard=U

  17. RB

    Thanks for the DUO. Your reasoning for its construction looks good to me.

    And, like you, I have issues with the balance of punctuation that makes the surface reading work versus punctuation that interferes with the wordplay logic. I’m not convinced it is legit, but I’m prepared to run with it, even if it often throws me off.

  18. 26A: Gymbunnies asked if “plagued” was an anagram indicator, or an indication to swap “a” and “e”. I tried (and failed) to see how it could be the latter, so I think it’s the former, and I reckon it’s as good as most anagram indicators as you see these days.

    15D: Yes, SGBandSPB, I wore flares in the 70s but then I always was a bit slow to get up to date.

  19. Now for my queries:
    24A: Seems to be “Fretted”=IRKED. But the wordplay?? I see I and R are the 3rd and 6th letters of guitar, but then what?

  20. Re 20d: Re-parse ATHENA as A then A, which refers to the unusual double letter in Maggie Gyllenhaal’s surname (you have to follow the ellipsis and get “coupling” from the next clue). Actually my nomination for gold this week.
    Re 27a: A placebo is a sham offering ( a sugar pill served up as effective medication to fool the patient). TV = bo(x), Set=place, vice versa to change the order.
    Re 25d: “You heard” is U (homophone) inside DO, a party, or a gala
    Re 23a: A good clue, I agree. Separating any words by any sort of punctuation is how setters get good surface reading and disguise what they’re doing with the words. In the monthly Puzzle in Harper’s, Richard Maltby says “As always, mental re-punctuation of a clue is the key to its solution.” There are a few rules that have to be followed, but mostly punctuation is there to fool you. An exception is the ellipsis, as in 20 and 25d, where you need to read the clues together in some way.

  21. 27a PLACEBO is
    BO (“unbacked TV”) + PLACE (“set”)
    vice versa = PlACEBO (“sham offering”)

    And the Gyllenhaal one is my favourite of the day:

    (describing the “unusual (25d)duo” of having a double “a” in the name Gyllenhaal)

  22. RB

    24A: Fretted guitar harmony, like Everclear medley by thirds

    Guitar = I
    harmony = R
    like = K
    Everclear = E
    medley = D

    IRKED comes from the third letter of each word.

  23. And another thing. What does everyone think of “marathon effort”=STAMINA in 19D. Surely stamina is what you need for a marathon effort, but it is not the marathon effort itself.

  24. Re 24a: IRKED is formed from the third letters in “guitar harmony, like Everclear Medley”

  25. re IRKED – I haven’t got the thing in front of me but I think it was the third letter of each of some clue words.

  26. TT, I usually have a whole category for myself to admit my confusions each week, so these comments are just part and parcel of what this blog is supposed to do.

    Concerning the HOMBURG to HOMBU controversy, I’m OK with a variable shortening generally as long as the majority of the word remains as part of the answer.

    Also, the PLACEBO clue goes SET = PLACE, which gets flipped to the top because of VICE VERSA.

  27. Thanks, AS.

    Regarding dropped letters. Here, HOMBU is undoubtedly a contraction of HOMBURG. But if there is more than one letter dropped, I would prefer clues to include code which removes specific letters, rather than leave it to the solver to draw an line through the word. Doing so would remove any ambiguity. But, like I say, that’s just my preference.

    By the way, IRKED comes from the third…

  28. JG

    1D: Yup.

    4D: Influences a prisoner holding up discharge terms initially

    “a prisoner” = A CON
    “up” = UP
    “discharge terms initially” = TS (I think)

    Put ’em all together:

    “Influences” = ACTS UPON

  29. The one answer i couldn’t quite justify was 1A, can someone please enlighten me?

  30. 4D: i took it as ACON outside of TSUP, which is PUS = discharge, and T = terms initially. the “up” in the clue doesn’t refer to the UP in the answer, but that PUST becomes TSUP. though i could be wrong

  31. MF

    1A: South African republic lost face in outer Russia

    “South” = S
    “African republic lost face” = LIBERIA – L = IBERIA
    S + IBERIA = SIBERIA, “in outer Russia”.

  32. Re 4d: I’m with MF. Up is a directional indicator here, and PUS is a discharge.
    Re 1d: ‘Sup is a common pronunciation amongst black Americans, especially rappers. Hence the “Yo.”

  33. Hi AS , you still there ? Wondering if this blog is the DA trippers or the TT twitters…..getting a bit tedious.

  34. TT & AL & EE (Everybody Else), the best way to go about this cryptic talk on a blog business is difficult to work out, especially with quite a few people commenting, each with their own way of doing the crossword and reading things.

    For instance, I once made quite a silly mistake by mentioning a couple of answers in a post. I hadn’t considered everyone else who might not have completed the crossword having a quick look at this blog and I was duly and justifiably chastised for it.

    Personally, I don’t see anything wrong with TT having made all those comments. In fact, I would rather that sort of thing be encouraged because I think this blog should be about anyone asking as many questions as they like and getting their confusions sorted out as quickly as possible.

    Having said that, though, I see you have concerns, AL, with TT taking over the airwaves, which is understandable.

    Now, I’m not sure if this is the best idea for everyone when using this blog, but I’ll make the request anyway and see how things go.

    So, the request: if you have a whole bunch of queries, can I ask that you put them all into the one comment? If you have questions, by all means ask them, but try as much as you can to minimise your comment footprint.

    Let’s give that a go and see what happens (and I’m always happy to hear suggestions for improvements in posting style or etiquette, so feel free to comment on that as well)

  35. Thankyou (everyone) for the 24A IRKED solution. I shoulda spotted that. Likewise 27A PLACEBO.

    But I don’t blame myself for not figuring out the wordplay for 20D ATHENA. That was very easy to miss – thanks Ian & Rob for the explanation.

    Re 4D: I agree with MF, Ian that “up discharge”=pus (reversed)=sup

    Re 19D: Everyone happy with “marathon effort” = stamina?

    My favourites: 18A and 7D. 23A was good too.

  36. AS, TT & EE,

    I’m with you AS in preferring to see more discussion rather than less, and a long comment discussing many clues is all good in my book.

    In our first ever posting (above) we refrained from directly blurting out the answers, but on reflection don’t have an issue with others doing this – if you browse *recent* comments you’re going to get some assistance on the latest puzzle, it’s just a matter of degree. Is it too harsh to say if you don’t want any help then don’t read this blog?

    With that in mind, can someone put me out of my misery regarding 5D? We think “ie” admitting (late=dl) (start=st) = idlest. But how does late = dl?

    My faves: 27A and 20D, both of which I needed help with. I presume if I’d nailed them myself I wouldn’t be adequately impressed to list them as faourites.

  37. We’ve had this issue recently (relating to disclosure of answers) and I think it was resolved satisfactorily along the lines of: the front page will be kept free of disclosures, but specific blogs could contain all manner of disclosures, so you enter at your own risk.

    As for Gymbunnies prob with 5D, I have:
    ie admitting late start=ID EST admitting L=IDLEST

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