Friday, September 18, 2009

NYT Saturday 9/19/09 - Spun Gold

I was expecting the Saturday crossword for the New York Times's half-centurion week to be a little different to usual, but not quite the departure it turned out to be. The constructor, Mel Taub, is the Puns and Anagrams specialist and has been constructing them for the NYT Sunday Magazine since 1955.

To someone brought up on cryptic crosswords, Puns and Anagrams puzzles seem woefully ill-disciplined, the clues being full of no-nos like: arbitrary overlapping of wordplay and definition; occasional absence of definition; absence of anagram indicators; etc etc etc.

I'm not saying the Puns and Anagrams style is wrong ... it's just not what I'm used to. Its saving grace is that the fully-checked grid allows solvers two ways of getting each letter. In the cryptic crosswords I'm used to, every other letter is unchecked, calling for a more structured approach to cluing.
Solving time: 12 mins (solo, no solving aids)
Clue of the puzz: 45a seedy {Shabby followers of a bee}

Mel Taub
Grid art by Sympathy [about the grid colors]


Puns and anagrams. See below for explanations of clues, which have the definitions in green.

CompilersPuns and Anagrams Puzzle by Mel Taub / Will Shortz
Grid13x13 with 24 (14.2%) black squares
Answers56 (average length 5.18)
Theme squares0 (0.0%)
Scrabble points208 (average 1.43)

1a brass {Impudence of a Br. fool}. "Br." + ass.

6a steal {At least it's a real bargain}. Anagram of "least".

11a Proust {Author in a stupor}. Anagram of "stupor".

12a hernia {Job for a Rhine surgeon}. Anagram of "a Rhine".

14a roller-bearing {Mien of a crapshooter will reduce friction}. roller ("crapshooter") + bearing ("Mien")

16a egad {Oath from a renegade}. Hidden in "renegade".

17a Îles {What lies in the Seine}. Anagram of "lies".

18a tee {___ party (golfers' bash)}. Pun on "tea".

19a sun {Kind of dry}. Cf sundry.

20a spun {Turned pea in 19-Across}. P in sun.

21a Aran {Group of Irish islands in quarantine}. Hidden in "quarantine".

22a sedated {Dead set against being keyed up}. Anagram of "Dead set".

24a apart {Divided A.P. pictures}. "A.P." + art.

25a lodgers {Tenants of Lords, e.g.}. Anagram of "Lords, e.g.".

27a ran up {U.N. rap added rapidly}. Anagram of "U.N. rap".

30a excerpt {Except having Republican passage from a book}. R in "except".

34a Edom {Retro style}. Reverse of mode ("style").

35a soph {One who attends school hops}. Anagram of "hops".

36a Uri {Swiss tourist center}. Center of "tourist".

37a nod {Why isn't one done?}. Because it has no D.

38a mano {Pedro's hand in Oman}. Anagram of "Oman".

39a pier {___ pressure (cause of a jetty collapse)}. Pun on "peer".

40a trip insurance {Fall guy's protection when traveling}. trip ("fall") + insurance ("guy's protection").

Christmas tree farm43a second {Where does N.C. rank among U.S. states in Christmas tree production?}. Anagram of "does N.C.". This was easily the toughest clue for us to understand, because it's hard to locate the intended definition and letters to be anagrammed. Was North Carolina the second state to join the union? No that was Pennsylvania. It turns out N.C. literally is the second-ranking state in terms of Christmas tree production.

44a nereid {Reined in nymph}. Anagram of "Reined".

45a seedy {Shabby followers of a bee}. Puns on AB ("a bee") and CD "seedy". Neat clue.

46a dyads {Pairs accumulated in 500 days}. D + anagram of "days".


1d brogue {With which Seamus will rub ego}. Anagram of "rub ego".

2d Roland {Companion of Arnold}. Anagram of "Arnold".

3d auld {Word with which to laud the new year}. Anagram of "laud".

4d SSE {The direction to Hussein's heart}. Heart of "Hussein".

5d striped {Having chevrons with red tips}. Anagram of "red tips".

6d Sheen {Charlie's luster}. Reference to Charlie Sheen.

7d teas {Affairs that might sate the British}. Anagram of "sate".

8d err {Kind of ant}. Cf errant.

9d Anitra {She danced in Tirana}. Anagram of "Tirana". I confess to having had to look this one up to spot the reference: Anitra's Dance is a movement in the incidental music to Peer Gynt.

10d linear {I learn of some measurements}. Anagram of "I learn".

11d press; 13d agent {Push a fellow in public relations}. press ("Push") + agent ("a gent").

15d bludgeons {Bound legs with clubs}. Anagram of "Bound legs".

20d stop {Sign outside a post office}. Anagram of "post".

21d apse {Vault may finally collapse}. End of "collapse".

23d alum {Graduate from Calumet}. Hidden in "Calumet".

24d arch {___ enemy (one who may blow up bridges)}. Two meanings of "arch".

Punt26d expound {Ireland's currency unit since 2001}. Ex-pound. I always thought the currency was the punt (Irish for "pound"), but this term may only have been used in Britain to distinguish the Irish Republic's currency from pounds sterling. Ireland began circulating the euro on January 1, 2002.

27d rents {What stern landlords expect}. Anagram of "stern".

28d adores {Holds so dear}. Anagram of "so dear".

29d no dice {Expression coined by a crapshooter}. Anagram of "coined".

31d ruined {Plowed under, I gather}. Anagram of "under, I".

32d précis {Summary? Cripes!}. Anagram of "Cripes".

33d tired {Like one who's tried too hard}. Anagram of "tried".

35d sandy {S Y}. S and Y.

38d mind {Intellect in 1500}. Anagram of "in" MD.

39d para {One who may get a rap at a law office}. Anagram of "a rap".

41d Poe {Writer whose work describes him to a T}. poet = Poe + "T".

42d Rey {Carlos, for example, in future years}. Hidden in "future years".


xwd_fiend said...

P&A puzzles are an odd experience for cryptic xwd solvers, but have an interesting history. Paraphrasing Michelle Arnot's "A History of the Crossword Puzzle" ("What's Gnu" when originally published in the US):

P&A was the brainchild of Alfred Morehead, an NYT bridge columnist, who had enjoyed cryptics when attending a tournament in England. By combining the American diagram with clever and pun-filled clues, he came up with this crossword hybrid. He collaborated with Jack Luzzatto, and Margaret Farrar included this new puzzle in the NYT repertoire, where it found a permanent home.

She doesn't give precise dates but mentions an article discussing P&A in the NYT's Sunday magazine in March 1943. If you tackle Times, Telegraph or Guardian cryptics of around 1940, the resemblance is detectable - proper discipline in newspaper cryptic clues was a few more decades away. I know one or two old-school Times solvers who miss the sheer cheek of the occasional clue like 35D.

Crossword Man said...

Thanks for your insights into the history. So PandA puzzles may be the crocodiles of the crossworld: they found their niche and haven't needed to evolve much over the decades.