Never knowingly undersolved.

FT 12,839 – …Flock Together

Posted by smiffy on August 6th, 2008


A  twitcher-friendly theme today – and not one of my personal strong suits, so I was relieved that the thematic examples used were generally common or garden varieties.  I did have to confirm 9A (the most plausible guess, given the obvious wordplay) and 24A (felt vaguely familiar for some unknown reason) post-solving.

1 PARROT – (raptor)*
4 BANTAM – probably the most curiously-named of the various weight categories in boxing?
8 TA,NAGER – (Regan)rev.  Lear’s daughters never seem to be too far from the surface in most setters’ bran tub of Shakespearean characters.
11 KING,F(ISH)ER – “Man”= some chess-piece is one of those devices which can often stymie inexperienced solvers, given the wealth of other alternatives (firstnames, Isle…).  Fer (Iron) as in Chemin de Fer.
13 HERON – hidden.
14 NIGHT,JAR – a touch of 13D about this one?
16 PA(RAKE)ET – (peat)*
21 SONGTHRUSH – (shorn thugs)*.  An amusing surface reading, albeit in a slightly cartoony way.
23 K(ESTRE)L – no idea, how densely forested Kirkwall is in actuality. Any Orcadians care to weigh in as to whether this could be deemed an &lit?
24 PO(CHAR)D – a type of duck.  Pod is one of the lesser lights in the crosswording realm of “container”s.
25 SH,R,IKE – ref. Dwight D Ironworker

1 PI,AN,I – pretty cute; the kind of clue more likely to be encountered in an advanced/barred puzzle.
3 O(BE,DIE)NCE – an opportunity well-seized, although I’m probably not for the first time.
5 AM,[-h]OUR – Unusually here, “almost” indicates a letter removal at the beginning rather than the end of a word.
7 MARK TWAIN – the nom de plume chosen by Samuel Clemens, derived from a plumb-line method of water depth measurement for boats (pre-Plimsoll lines). Mark One, Mark Twain (=Two) etc. (With thanks to my father, who instilled this factoid in me as a kid; I never imagined it coming in useful!).
10 THINK TANK – “design”=think seems to be wandering into far-fetched territory.
13 HOARINESS – I had heaviness here initially, before figuring out that it was merely a double def’n.
17 AG,IST,ER – a word that I was lucky to recognise.  It dates back to the heydays of working class cattle-ownership and medieval serfdom.
19 BURG,HER – (grub)rev.
22 SPRAY – double (or maybe triple) def’n.

8 Responses to “FT 12,839 – …Flock Together”

  1. Geoff Moss says:

    1d – I am not happy with this one as I have been unable to find ‘piani’ listed in any dictionaries I have (Chambers, COD, Collins) nor in any of the on-line dictionaries or wordlists (including quinapalus and Onelook). It is also notably absent from a ‘Dictionary of Music’ that I have on my bookshelf.

    One or two references do give the noun ‘piano’ as a section of music played quietly, rather than the usual adverb, but they don’t give the plural.

    ‘piani’ is the plural of ‘piano’ in Italian but ‘piano’ does not mean a quiet section of music in the Italian dictionaries I have checked.

    If anyone can provide confirmation that ‘piani’ is listed in one of the standard reference sources then I will gladly withdraw my reservations about this clue.

  2. Geoff Moss says:

    10d “design”=think seems to be wandering into far-fetched territory.

    One of the definitions for ‘think’ in Chambers is ‘to design’.

  3. C G Rishikesh says:

    Piani is not in COD (tenth ed.) but it is in The Oxford Paperback Crossword Dictionary (2000).

  4. Geoff Moss says:

    Thanks Rishi. My COD is 25 years old (7th ed.) and long overdue for replacement so I am not surprised when certain words cannot be found in it. I am going to buy a new one at the same time as Chambers 2008.

    The OPCD is not exactly a ‘standard’ reference, in fact I have never seen it. Is it just a list of words or does it also give definitions? I have just checked and my Newnes Wordgame Dictionary (just a list of words – unused for many, many years) also includes ‘piani’ but I still think that to be a valid crossword answer it should appear in one of the ‘recognised’ reference works.

  5. Dave Doran says:

    Piani is also in Chambers, 9th ed (2003)

    Defn: pianos or paini – a soft passage

  6. Dave Doran says:

    Sorry, I made a misspelling in my definition, it should have been piani

  7. Geoff Moss says:

    Thanks Dave. I will withdraw my reservations about this clue. It only goes to show that I should update my copy of Chambers, which I will do when the 2008 edition is available.

  8. Dave Doran says:

    Hi Geoff. According to Amazon, it’s available tomorrow fortnight (Aug, 22nd). In fact, you can pre-order it now.

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