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Hello again.  I hope those of you who can are enjoying the summer weather and having a pleasant holiday (what Americans call a vacation).

The clue I left you to ponder (think about) last week was:

Break bread, even in Scotland (8)

As you might have guessed, the answer has nothing to do with eating.  The word ‘break’ is a hint that an anagram is involved.  The following word (BREAD) is broken up and the letters are then put back together in a different order.

In fact the answer is:

ABERDEEN

which is an important port in Scotland.

It comes from rearranging the letters of bread to give ABERD, followed by the Scottish word for ‘even’ which is e’en (see here). This is an example of a clue, not found very often, where part of it serves double duty (is used twice): the ‘in Scotland’ defines how ‘even’ should be written and in addition defines the location of the final answer.

The ESL learner does not need to know Scottish dialect, but it is at least worth knowing of its existence. And it is worth knowing a little about Aberdeen which is the third largest city in Scotland (for a Wikipedia entry please see here). The other two major cities are of course Glasgow and Edinburgh.  The famous Edinburgh Festival begins today and continues throughout August.

Talking of Scotland, try this clue from Daily Telegraph Crossword Puzzle No. 27,868 dated 31st July 2015:

Good person to encourage Scottish politician (8)

Whenever you see a reference to a ‘good person’ in a cryptic crossword clue you can be fairly certain that it means ‘Saint’ – abbreviated to St.  As, for example, in St Peter or St Joan.  You don’t get to be a Saint if you are not a good person!

We now need a word or words meaning ‘to encourage’.  To encourage means to give support, advice or hope to someone (see the definition here).  To urge on means much the same thing – if you urge someone on you encourage them to succeed – see here.

So – putting it all together – we have:

ST + URGE ON

or:

STURGEON

Those who have been following British politics will know that Nicola Sturgeon is a Scottish politician.  More than that, she is the leader of the Scottish Nationalist Party (SNP) which succeeded in winning 56 out of 59 seats in Scotland at the 2015 General Election.  Winning in such a successful way (winning by a wide margin) is known as a landslide victory.

By chance, Nicola Sturgeon shares her last name with that of a large fish: the sturgeon (of which there are several species) is where the expensive delicacy caviar comes from, see here.

Changing the subject, try this from Daily Telegraph Puzzle No. 27,871 dated 4th August 2015:

Best place for a surfer, out in the open (5-5)

As with so many clues, the answer is idiomatic and relies on a little joke or pun.  The answer is:

ABOVE-BOARD

Obviously the best place for a surfer is above his or her surf board, but above-board (not always hyphenated) has another meaning in English.  As defined here, it can be an adjective or adverb and means legitimate or honest.  If you act in a way that is completely above board, you are being transparent in your dealings and could never be accused of fraud.  Put another way, everything is out in the open – the second half of the clue.

Finally, let me leave you this from the same crossword:

Old King circling stage in Worcester perhaps (7)

For a non-native English speaker (and even for a native one) this clue is very difficult but introduces some interesting points for discussion. The answer will appear next week.

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