Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 23947/Gordius – lots of wordplay

Posted by ilancaron on December 12th, 2006


Quite a bit of complex wordplay in this puzzle. A couple of obscure allusions but nonetheless accessible.


1 COM(PUT)E – A tour de force pushing the cryptic envelope: here’s the clue: “Number turn up with Putin” (7). The definition is a bit shaky: “number” as in count which is close to COMPUTE but not the same, “turn” hints at reversal, “Putin” hints at well… polonium but no… you take a word that (sort of) means “turn up”, COME and “in” it you put “Put”. Ah… Ximenes must be twitching just a bit. For the record, I’m not complaining – I like these kinds of clues – they are imaginative.
5 DELI+US – Not my favourite composer – well he might be, but hadn’t heard of Delius but wordplay was straightforward.
10 M+ILLER – Nice clue referring to the playwright Arthur Miller.
12 FACE THE MUSIC – “dial” is FACE (of a watch e.g.), “tones” are THE MUSIC.
15 SCHOLASTIC – (last choic[e]’s)*. A pedant would ask whether SCHOLASTIC means “pedant” or “for a pedant”?
17 RUN(g) – Nice subtraction clue: a component of a ladder, which can be a run in your tights, is a rung.
19 ONE – I think this is just a double definition: one refers to oneself as ONE when one is royal one supposes.
20 WASHINGTON – Rare triple definition: “here” (literally is in fact Seattle, WASHINGTON), the first prez and (saw nothing)*.
22 RICHTER SCALE – I haven’t heard of either the pianist Sviatoslav Richter nor the organist Ferdinand Richter , they both seem to qualify.
26 CRADLE – double definition but what’s the “world ruler” part?
27 CONTRACT – double meaning: nice misleading surface hinting at a row with your therapist.
19 ESCHEAT – (the case)* — ESCHEAT is a new word for me with easy wordplay (given crossing letters and obvious anagram indicator: “collapses”).


1 CAMP – double definition
2 MON+A=”moaner” – the clue is: “She voices a chronic complaint” – but I don’t see how to get the “a” behind the “chronic complaint” for moan though.
3 (d)UNSTABLE – Subtraction clue that’s pretty easy given the definition of “likely to collapse”.
7 I(L+LUST)RATE – L for student is a v. common abbrev.
8 ST(o)RY+CH+NINE – nice clue since 9 is literally NINE and not clue number 9. The only thing I wonder about is the instruction “after church, 9 take…” when really you’d prefer “after church, take 9…”.
13 AS+CO+T RACES – standard abbrev(“company”)=CO.
16 STARRY – slightly cryptic definition derived from STARRY-eyed.
18 ANAL+YTIC – definition is “resolving into first principles”. Wordplay is rev(Lana=”Turner”)=ANAL+rev(city=”E.C.”=postcode for City of London)=YTIC, with “set up” indicating reversal.
21 STOLEN – (L+notes)*: L for “pound” is an acceptable substitution for anagram fodder purposes.
23 C+LOVE – the knot referred to is the CLOVE hitch. I suppose you could argue that there is no complete direct definition in the clue.
24 FAR+E – Last clue for me: deceptively difficult: “Laos” is in the FAR E(ast) of course.

6 Responses to “Guardian 23947/Gordius – lots of wordplay”

  1. says:

    Re cradle, it’s a reference to a proverb about the power of women. ‘She who rocks the cradle rules the world’.

  2. says:

    A few very nice clues here – RUN, ANALYTIC, WHEEL CLAMP I liked. STET at 25 down (‘Initial typeset without’ = T in SET) was even more envelope-pushing than COMPUTE – at least there’s a limit to what ‘Putin’ could mean!
    CRADLE is a reference to the saying “the hand that rocks the cradle rules the world”. Not sure where that comes from, though.

  3. says:

    Richter: I’m pretty sure he means Sviatoslav – never heard of the other bloke.

  4. says:

    Thanks for the cradle clarification… turns out it’s from a poem by William Ross Wallace who must be pretty obscure since doesn’t even warrant his own wiki entry.

  5. says:

    As “the hand that rocks the cradle rules the world”, it’s given in ODQ as a proverb, derived from the WRW poem which is also given.

  6. says:

    Some very good clues – 9a made me laugh. Agree that NUMBER is a weak definition for COMPUTE. I looked on CLOVE as past tense of CLEAVE which is used in some marriage vows (“forsake all others and cleave unto my wife”) so I suppose there is some sort of definition there. Never picked up the nuances of 12a – having been on the phone this morning trying to talk to a human being and getting endless mutilated muzak Vivaldi instead, I knew the answer straightaway!

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