Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 23,956 by Chifonie: Soup, stew or curry?

Posted by michod on December 22nd, 2006


Not as hard as some Friday puzzles, but containing one or two relatively obscure words and sub-words with a capacity to frustrate. Took me about 20 minutes over a leisurely breakfast. A lot of clues that are reasonably well disguised, but in fact just combine a one-letter abbreviation with another word to make the answer.


7. CATACOMB. CAT A COMB. Cat=be sick (usage largely restricted to crosswords?); curry=a kind of comb for horses, also called a currycomb according to Chambers. I’d never heard of it, which made this one harder.

10. OMAN. Love=0, Lover=man, as in ‘my man’.

11. SHOPLIFTER. PILFERS HOT*. Stew is the anagram indicator, which the Ximenean line on nounal anagram indicators would deem unsound, but I don’t have a problem with it. Even though ‘pilfers hot’ is not something from which a stew could be made, the crossword grammar seems to me completely clear – ‘pilfers hot stew’, like ‘beef and onion stew’, requires the component parts to be mixed, and makes a lot more sense than ‘stewed hot pilfers’ would. And what do crossword compilers do but exploit the flexibility of language to create ambiguity?

14. TEMERITY. TE + MERIT + Y. Lawrence can also be DH, but TE crops up in more words.

15. LESSON. LESS ON. The grammar doesn’t seem quite right here – ‘wearing fewer clothes’ = ‘with less on.


22. DUENNA. DUE + ANN<. A Spanish word not in everyday use, though it pops up in Don Quixote, I seem to remember.

23. MAKE TRACKS. Very nice double meaning, with ‘go’ as the definition.

24. SCOW. C in SOW. Another obscure one, and while cocaine more or less has to be C, ‘plant’ misleads you to expect oak, ash, pea or such.

25. ORACLE. L in O RACE.



1. BALMORAL. BALM + ORAL. Clever clue, deceptively simple. ‘Uttered’ suggested a homonym, ‘retreat’ hinted at reversal, and ‘in at containment.

2. PAWN. W in PAN. Dutch = wife = w. Old Cockney slang, as in ‘my old dutch’. Chambers suggests possibly from ‘Duchess of Fife. 

3. BORSCH. R in BOSCH. Could be tricky for some palates/palettes. I’ve always seen this east European soup spelt borscht, but this is an alternative.

5. PREFERENCE. P + REFERENCE. Not a common abbreviation, but clear.

8. BLOTTO. B(et) + LOTTO. Quite a lot of these single-letter indicators today.


16. OBSERVER. OB + SERVER. OBs are a basic part of TV newsgathering/ production, but I wonder how current the abbreviation is in the wider world.

18. HAND OVER. D in HANOVER. Again, the royal reference is specific, not just an indicator for king or regal.


22. DESIST. S in DEIST.  A nice way to split the word.

2 Responses to “Guardian 23,956 by Chifonie: Soup, stew or curry?”

  1. says:

    Wow… W=Dutch (it’s bad enough that it stands for Tungsten). I worked out PAWN but was at a loss to explain how the W fitted in. Thanks!

  2. says:

    Thanks too for the explanation of 7a. I got it through the checking letters but spent many minutes trying to make sense of the cryptic part without success.

    An enjoyable crossword and a much better effort than Chifonie’s previous contribution.

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