Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 23943/Paul – Duffer

Posted by rightback on December 7th, 2006


Solving time: 13:59, with one careless mistake (22dn) plus another I’m not sure of (1d).

Some very clever clues today with largely convincing surfaces, and just a couple of Guardianisms (25ac, 7d), by which I mean devices which would be considered unfair in (say) The Times but are accepted practices in The Guardian.

* = anagram.

10 G(R)ABLE – Betty, whom I didn’t know, and Clark, whom I did.
15 BEN (= peak) + IN
17 OA(S)TH + OUSE – Oast houses turn out to be buildings containing kilns for drying hops and malt, typically found in Kent and Sussex.
18 C(A + TAMAR)AN – a rarer crossword river.
19 RAM (= stuff) + B.O. (bouquet under arm) – nice clue!
24 UP + PITY
25 (TRY AS H[ard] AS)* – ‘possible’ is the dubious anagram indicator.
26 FUR + ORE
27 (PEST + DOPE)* – ‘estop’ is legalese for ‘preclude’.
1 SWITCH (shoot?) + BACK (champion) – not sure about this. Collins Online gives ‘switchback’ as being a synonym for ‘big dipper’, i.e. rollercoaster, though I didn’t know this and it’s not in Chambers. I can’t explain why ‘shoot’ = ‘switch'; Chambers gives ‘switch’ as meaning ‘a long flexible twig’ (= ‘shoot’?) and ‘shoot’ as meaning ‘to slide (a bolt) across or back’ (= ‘switch’?) but neither of these convinces me. Can anyone help?
3 VESTA (hidden) – a vesta is ‘a wax-stemmed match’. Cleverly concealed.
4 EAT (= put away) inside (TORY)* + FROME. The Treaty of Rome established the EEC in 1957/8.
6 STRETCHER – double definition, a stretcher can apparently mean ‘a brick, stone, sod or sandbag laid horizontally with others in the forming of a wall’. This was one of my last solves, as I didn’t know if 10ac was ‘Garble’ or ‘Grable’.
7 ASBO – another hidden word, but a much more dubious indicator this time (“…opening Pandora’s box”). ‘Opening’ as in ‘removing the (asymmetric) packaging’, I suppose…
8 LIED – pronounced /leed/, meaning ‘song’ in German.
11 (AN ESPRESSO + I + L[eft])*
14 DECOMPOSED – pun on composing music.
16 NU + MER[c]ATOR – Gerardus Mercator is the cartographer who created the ‘Mercator projection’.
21 [fal]SETTO – a difficult but perfectly fair subtaction.
22 DUFF – double definition. I stupidly rushed into ‘puff’, which has no adjectival meanings.
23 SPAR[k]

5 Responses to “Guardian 23943/Paul – Duffer”

  1. says:

    Switchback & dictionaries: Although the Guardian puzzle doesn’t (AFAIK) have a publicly stated standard reference, I would try Collins or the Concise Oxford first for daily paper crosswords. COD also has switchback = roller coaster. That said, Chambers does have it, tucked away in the stuff under “switch”. COD also uses the word “shoot” in the “twig” def for switch.

  2. says:

    Thanks Peter. The Concise Oxford is available online here, and contains under the entry for ‘switch’: ‘a slender, flexible shoot cut from a tree’. I just meant that Chambers doesn’t give ‘switchback’ as meaning ‘rollercoaster’, though it’s in the COD as well as Collins, which as you say are probably better references in general for the daily crosswords – though I’m sure I’ve seen a few ‘Chambers only’ words and abbreviations in the Guardian.


  3. says:

    AskOxford bill their dict search as the Compact ed – next size down, in contrast to the “concise_oed” in the URL. My instinct would be to believe in “Compact” for commercial reasons. The commercial sense behind Collins being online is beyond me but don’t tell them! Yes the Guardian does use Chambers-only stuff on occasion – I hope they save it for Saturdays but can’t guarantee it.

  4. says:

    I thought ‘switchback’ was some kind of special offer.

  5. says:

    The TAMAR is a lovely river on the Devon/Cornwall border. No clue to CATAMARAN (mine included) seems to be complete without it!

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