Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 23,950, Orlando: A puzzle of two halves

Posted by michod on December 15th, 2006


In keeping with Orlando’s divided personality, perhaps, there seemed to be an easy half and a difficult half to this puzzle – not that I’m assigning a specific gender to either! I got most of the top half and part of the bottom done in 5-10 minutes, then stewed over the fag-end for another 15-20. Two Shakespeare references, both plays I did at ‘A’ level… I wonder if Orlando did A levels in 1981 as well? 


9. BACK TO SQUARE ONE. ‘Back to’ = OT, even I = SQUARE ONE. The surface is presumably something about reading the Bible, but doesn’t seem to mean much.

10. DO(n)NE.

11. ASBESTOS. AS BEST Osprey’S – an imaginative way of clueing OS – but cream on osprey’s wings – who? why? Was it applied by a vet, or are we talking ‘Osprey wings a la creme’?

14. GOSPELLER. G O SPELLER. Gee Oh is nice, but I can’t see why ‘getting hot’. 

16. TAPER. As in get narrower. Nice clue – I groped for the anthithesis of flare, but this is spot on. 

18. ENAMOURED. Auden more*. A somewhat whimsical anagram indicator? Or are we both misusing the word?

20. FAMISHED. AMISH in FED – simple but lovely.

25. LEE HARVEY OSWALD. Lay overhead + slew* (oddball) + lit, ref JFK assassination. I’m now so conditioned to look for partial-word anagram indicators in the Guardian that I was trying to find an anagram of ‘ball lay overhead’ meaning ‘slew. Technically the definition should be … ‘who lay overhead and slew’. Always assuming it was LHW in the book depository – was the grassy knoll high enough to be overhead?

26. SEIZE. 16 in French = ‘French count’. Except it doesn’t really, does it? 

27. TENNESSEE. (tennis-y). Excellently deployed pun. I was about to fulminate on the lack of definition, but of course it’s (Tennessee) Williams, the writer. And the homonym’s not exact, but close enough to work for me.


1. RABID. B in RAID. Does the Ximenean objection to ‘Gateshead’ extend to ‘bridgehead’ for B? It’s not the head of a bridge exactly. I’m happy with it anyway.

3. RITZ. Sounds like ‘writs’. Good homonym indicator – ‘for auditor’ - used very naturally.

 6. TURKEY TROT. This one took a while. Maybe I haven’t been watching Strictly Come Dancing enough. Also, I think of Trots more as Socialist, associating  Communism  with the CP and its offshoots. Then again, Trotsky was certainly a Communist, and groups like the RCP and RCG were Trotskyist, I believe.

7. PLOTTER. Ref Cassius, one of the plotters in Julius Caesar.

8. CREOSOTED. O SOT in CREED. ‘Without’ is an archaic containment indicator, as in ‘without a city wall’ (I never understood as a kid why a green hill would have a city wall, but never mind). Seems to be used back to front though - to me this gives OSCREEDOT.

 12. HEARTSEASE. Is another word for the flower. I only got this because it cropped up in another crossword recently, and it seems a weak cryptic indication for a hard word with no initial letter. But it wasn’t going to be a homophobic insult in the G, was it?

13. BLUE VELVET. As in the film. 

14. GATEFOLDS. FOLD in GATES. I was looking for a software company, rather than the ubergeek himself, and kept thinking ‘galleys’ - but got there in the end.

19. REPEATS. REP (theatre) + EATS. Works well.

23. CYAN. Y in CAN. After gatefolds, another print reference - cyan’s the blue principally used in printing, less so in everyday life.

24. ISLE. ELSI(nore) rev. Quite tough. You have to remember Hamlet came from Elsinore, not just think Denmark, and know that Muck is a Scottish island.

6 Responses to “Guardian 23,950, Orlando: A puzzle of two halves”

  1. says:

    14A looks like a ref. to the phrase “hot gospeller” – a vigorous proclaimer of faith.
    26A – something like “French count might use this collar” seems to keep the idea without completely ruining the surface.
    1D Bridgehead is as illogical as Gateshead if you’re being strict. But it can all get very tricky. I’m happier with fingertip = F or R as a fingertip really is the tip of a finger. But is fingertips = FR therefore OK? Strictly, not unless the finger has been amputated!

  2. says:

    I don’t see much wrong with the likes of ‘fingertips’ (or even Gateshead for that matter, if it be a down clue) so long as te solver has some kind of chance. Thus ‘fingertips perhaps’, or even ‘fingertips?’ ought to suffice – especially in a paper where such alleged criminality abounds.

  3. says:

    I did say “if you’re being strict”. I hope that suggests the possibility that I’m happy for daily paper setters to take a few liberties. For me, “surface padding” (stuff that has to be ignored to make the cryptic reading work), word orders that don’t make sense in the cryptic reading, and inaccurate definitions are three bigger crimes than “Gateshead”.

  4. says:

    Damn! Thought I had it all complete and correct but had REPLAYS for 19d :(

    A nice puzzle.

  5. says:

    Yes Pete, quite! Wasn’t getting at you – merely reckon the discourse as to whether Gateshead’s G is really the head of a gate, or redhead’s R the head of a red to be pedantic or even silly beyond belief.

  6. says:

    Well, if you’re Jewish, then you go BACK TO SQUARE ONE of the Old Testament every year (at Rosh Hashana) and start reading the whole thing over again throughout the year until… well, it’s “Groundhogs Day”.

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