Posted by RatkojaRiku on December 12th, 2012
First things first: my thanks to Duncan for stepping in and producing what should have been my blog. I am taking steps to reduce the potential for any such oversights in the future.
Moving to today’s puzzle, I had to do a double-take when I saw that neither Dac nor even Crosophile had compiled today’s offering. However, we had uncharacteristically been treated to a Dac puzzle yesterday, so there were unlikely to be two in a row by him. I rather suspected that there had to be a good reason for such anomalous scheduling, and a quick scan of the clues revealed a healthy crop of 12s. Having spotted this unusual date quite by chance in my diary recently, I realised that the puzzle had been compiled to mark today’s date, 12 December 2012 or 12/12/12. This theory is confirmed by 1D.
Despite twigging what the theme was before solving a single clue, I found this puzzle quite a challenge, not least to finish, since 4 and 21 refused to reveal themselves to me, and I needed me to resort to solving aids to find them. 1A and 9 were also new to me. Most of the clues around the theme of 12 fell into place quite quickly. Overall, a quite unique puzzle, for today and today alone, with lots of flair in the exploration of the theme, especially at 14. I particularly appreciate the fact that the theme is one which is accessible to all, requiring no specific general knowledge.
My favourite clues today are 26 for its subtraction device and 21 for its definition, which I would have loved to have cracked unaided. I wonder how many others saw the splitting device for themselves.
I went away from the puzzle thinking about when next such a date would appear on our calendars, and I suppose it will be 1 January 2101 or 01/01/01. I won’t need to concern myself with writing a blog for that one, but I certainly hope that the crosswords that we know and love, and that will be one hundred years old next year, will still exist by then, not to mention the newspapers that are their natural home; and that they will still be entertaining educating, and occasionally infuriating, a future generation of solvers and bloggers alike.
*(…) indicates an anagram
|1||THIRD RAIL||HIRD (=stage dame, i.e. British actress Dame Thora Hird) in TRAIL (=drag); a third rail is a rail carrying electricity to an electrically-powered train, hence “train conductor”|
|6||FILM||F1 (=Formula One) + L<e> M<ans> (“leaders in” means first letters only)|
|8||PROTOZOA||PRO (=spin doctor, i.e. Public Relations Officer) + *(AT ZOO); “abroad” is anagram indicator; protozoa, such as flagellates, are unicellular forms, the lowest and simplest of animals|
|9||ONE-TWO||*(WENT) in <r>OO<m> (“middle of” means central letters only); “flying” is anagram indicator; a one-two is a series of punches in e.g. boxing|
|10||SEXTON||SEX (=it, as in to do it) + TON (“NOT about”, i.e. reversed)|
|11||AYRSHIRE||*(HARRY IS) + E (=English); “going off” is anagram indicator; an Ayrshire is a breed of reddish-brown and white dairy cattle, hence “milk supplier”|
|12/15||TWELVE ANGRY MEN||*(NERVY LAWMEN GET); “converted” is anagram indicator; & lit., since Twelve Angry Men is a 1957 film (=entry at 6A) in which jury members are gradually converted|
|16||MIDNIGHT||*(HIDING) in MT (=Montana); “could be” is anagram indicator; the definition is “12”|
|19||TROIKA||[ROI (=French ruler, i.e. the French word for king) + K (=king, in chess and cards)] in TA (=reserve, i.e. Territorial Army); a troika is traditionally drawn by three horses, hence “3 hp vehicle”|
|21||BEAUFORT||UFO (=strange thing flying over) in [BEA (=old airline, i.e. British European Airways, from 1946-74) + RT (=right)]; the definition is “wind scale”, with “in bits” indicating that the word should be split|
|22||MIDDAY||*(DID) in MAY (=spring); “manoeuvres” is anagram indicator; the definition is “12”, cf. 16|
|24||TAURUS||UR (=original, as a prefix) in [TA (=thanks) + US (=Uncle Sam)]|
|25||APOSTLES||Second “p” (=quietly) in Ap-p-les (=PCs) is replaced by “ost” (=East German, i.e. the German word for east); the definition is “group of 12”|
|26||CLAN||CL<e>AN (=pure); “non-additive” means the “e” (for E number) is deleted|
|27||SHEPHERDS||Cryptic definition: “crooks” is to be understood as staff, walking stick|
|1||THREE||RE (=on) in THE; there are three 12s in today’s date, 12/12/12|
|2||IN TOTAL||TO in *(LATIN); “translation” is anagram indicator|
|3||DOZEN||DO (=perform) + ZEN (=meditation); the definition is “12”|
|4||AGA SAGA||An Aga saga is a popular novel in a semi-rural middle-class setting; hence “classy drama”; the term is palindromic, hence “however you read it”|
|5||LOOK RIGHT||LOOK (=appear) + RIGHT (=correct); cryptic definition: “UK crossers (of roads) should do it”|
|6||FRESHLY||[*(SHE) + L (=left)] in FRY (=cook); “stupidly” is anagram indicator|
|7||LOWER DECK||Cryptic definition: “put (=lower) their cards (=deck) on the table”; non-cryptic definition: “petty officers and crew”, of a ship, as opposed to senior officer|
|13||WHITEHALL||*(WITH) + E-HALL (HALL-É=orchestra; “back to front” means last letter moves to front to word)|
|14||ENGROSSES||GROSS (=twelve dozen, i.e. entries at 12 3) in *(SEEN); “spreading” is anagram indicator|
|17||NEUTRON||[T (=time) in EURO (=currency)] in N N (=poles)|
|18||TITRATE||*(TREAT IT); “in order” is anagram indicator|
|20||OLDSTER||Hidden (“setting”) in “CotswOLDS(?) TERrific”|
|22||MOOCH||MOO (=low, i.e. of cows) + CH (=church)|
|23||ABETS||<h>E<a>T (“evenly” means alternate letters only) in ABS (=muscles, i.e. abdominals)|