Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 23,970/Rover

Posted by loonapick on January 10th, 2007


Rover has presented us with a good mix of clues, many of which use clever wordplay. I solved this crossword very quickly (less than five minutes), but didn’t always know at first reading why the answer I had put in was right. In at least one case, I’m still not sure that I have the right answer, but one of the advantages of writing a blog is that it forces you to think about the answers rather than blindly throwing in any old words, hoping that they are right.


1 – BREADWINNERS – not necessarily first home with the bacon, but it makes the clue read better, I suppose.

9 – AMNESIC – (I came)* holding N and S. Clue gives you the image of someone not knowing who they are.

11 – KAMPALA – KAM(PAL)A, Kama being a Hindu god of desire.

13 – NINTH – Hidden in “maN IN THe” – again you are presented with the image of someone sitting in the snug (a room in a pub, for non-British solvers), having his ninth pint, thus putting him “one over the eight” (i.e. drunk)

19 – SWARM – (w arms)*, where W=”with”

21 – IRELAND – composer referred to could be the British composer, John Ireland (1879-1962), but there may be other composers with that surname.

24 – TRAPEZE – 99% certain it’s the right answer, but not sure about the “hold-up” reference in the clue.

25 – ORGANZA – referring to the newspaper as an organ (means of communication of opinions) and ZA are the letters you’d see on a car from South Africa


1 – BATSMAN – in cricket, if you are in, you are batting. God knows how people with no knowledge of cricket cope with British cryptics.

4 – IRAQI – I assume that this refers to Sunni, a follower of one of the two great branches of Islam (cf. Shi’ite). Although it is true that many Iraqis are Sunni Muslims, Sunnis don’t just live in Iraq, so I don’t think one should use this to clue IRAQI, especially as the “say” in the clue indicates the homophone, and can’t therefore also be used to indicate “for example”. A question mark might have helped, but personally I don’t like it.

7 – TALKING POINT – see my comment for 1dn. A fielder at point (a fielding position square of the batsamn on the off side) chatting away would certainly irritate a batsman.

10 – CHRISTMAS DAY – (starchy maids)*

17 – EWE LAMB – excellent clue. According to Chambers, a ewe lamb is not only a female lamb, but has also come to mean a treasured possession, and lambs should certainly be kept in the fold.

18 – DEADEYE – EYE is just one of the collective nouns for pheasants (others include nest, nid, nye, nide, bouquet, bevy, brood, bunch, harem, plump…)

20 – AVIGNON – The Pont d’Avignon (aka Le Pont Saint-Benezet) was the only crossing of the Rhone between the Papal enclave at Avignon and the rest of France during the Middle Ages.

7 Responses to “Guardian 23,970/Rover”

  1. says:

    24A: i think if the trapeze artist doesn’t hold on to the trapeze (at the appropriate moment) she’s liable to fall down. made sense to me while i was solving.

    You’re SO right about non-Brits and cricket. I know enough by now that if you’re IN you’re batting. But I missed the TALKING POINT allusion. thanks!

  2. says:

    A nice puzzle with some excellent clues.

    I think that it is acceptable to think of Iraq as a ‘Sunni’ country given the majority are Sunni just as it is acceptable to think of India, for example, as a Hindu country despite having sizeable Muslim/Sikh/Buddhist minorities.

  3. says:

    The majority are Shia, which is why they’re now running Iraq, and the Sunni minority who held sway under Saddam are unhappy about it. I thought it was a pretty dodgy clue in a very uneven puzzle. Some clues seemed barely cryptic, such as ‘I am always first’ for NUMBER ONE. But maybe it’s just sour grapes because AVIGNON, ORGANZA, SLEDGES and what I can only assume to be ELEGIES made the bottom right a no-go area for me.

  4. says:

    I thought the clue for NUMBER ONE was OK, not spectacular I grant you, but OK, and AVIGNON, ORGANZA and SLEDGES were perfectly acceptable. Didn’t particularly like ELEGIES, but the checked letters made it obvious what the setter wanted put in.

  5. says:

    Yes, my mistake – it is the Shi’ite who are in the majority in Iraq, not the Sunni. That does make the clue ‘dodgy’ but I still enjoyed the puzzle.

    Can’t see what was objectionable about 23a – this was alluding to the poem “Elegy Written In A Country Churchyard” by Thomas Gray and having studied it many moons ago for English ‘O’ levels, I got the reference straightaway.

  6. says:

    Yes, I got the reference, just didn’t think it was particularly clever or cryptic.

  7. says:

    If I hadn’t had to read it for ‘O’ Levels, I would have found it most cryptic! :)

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