Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 23981/Gordius

Posted by Colin Blackburn on January 23rd, 2007

Colin Blackburn.

After two weeks away from the UK with no daily crosswords I found this one a real struggle after the halfway mark. A few obscure words and some weak devices left me having to check dictionaries to confirm answers and follow the word play. I usually only comment on around half the clues in a puzzle but in this case I’ve commented on all but a handful of straightforward clues.

1 SAMUEL PLIMSOLL — cryptic def — Plimsoll devised the load lines drawn on the side of ships.
10 DAYTIME — (TIDE MAY)* — “When” seems to be the definition.
11 OBIIT — OBI+IT — Obi is a form or witchcraft, it also refers to a charm or amulet, I’m not sure it is a spell.
12 BRASENOSE — BRA+SEN(O)SE — Brasenose is an Oxford college. A supporter is a bra, a bit of a cliche. Faculty is SENSE and from that I guess a vacant faculty is a faculty with nothing in it. Unless I’m reading the clue wrong I don’t like this device at all.
Incidentally, the best clue ever using BRA in the wordplay is, “Bust down reason? (9)”
13 LYME REGIS — (MERYL EG IS)* — “Here” is a weak definition unless Meryl is something that was once produced in Lyme Regis.
14 GUTTA — “GUTTER” — gutta is a medical term for a drop.
15 ARRAS — A+RR+AS — This clue has two definitions, “Hanging” and “in France”, where the tapestry hangings originated.
17 PUBLICANS — cryptic def — pins are barrels and so before time is called a publican might produce pints from pins, and pints = pin(t)s.
22 SUPER — SUP(p)ER — Just realised that this is supper with “pea” taken out.
23 NAVY CUT — double def — ditching Trident might be a Navy cut, navy cut is a type of tobacco.
25 DROP IN THE OCEAN — double def, one cryptic.
1 SEAT OF LEARNING — cryptic def
2 MARXISM — MAR(XI)S+M — I’m not convinced that “which is to the left” is a good definition.
3 EASY TERMS — defined by “never never” (see 20 ac), the only cryptic element is hiding 20 as twenty.
5 INDIANS — IN(AID(rev)NS — ref to publicans working in inns.
6 STYLE — double def — A style is something that (en)graves.
8 GENERAL SURGEON — GENERALS+URGE ON — being is a noun in the cryptic reading of the clue.
16 REVIVER — palindrome — brandy is a reviving drink supposedly carried by St Bernard dogs. I met a St Bernard last week in the Dolomites, he didn’t have a drop on him!
17 PRESTON — PREST+ON — prest is an obsolete word meaning advance (a loan to) or an advance.
18 BARDASH — BARD+ASH — bardash is an obsolete term for a gay man.

7 Responses to “Guardian 23981/Gordius”

  1. says:

    13A: Actually a great clue: “The French Lieutenant’s Woman” was set in Lyme Regis and Meryl Streep played the woman in question in the film version.

  2. says:

    I too got stuck on a few here, guessing at Bardash, Preston and Obiit, but failing to spot ‘Easy terms’. I can’t work out whether the clue for Publicans is just a cryptic definition. ‘Given time’ adds nothing to the cryptic surface – I don’t see how it can refer to calling time – and hints at wordplay without delivering. Pins, given time, can become pints cryptically with or without the publican’s help… the publican needs time to effect the transformation, but only in as far as every action we perform takes time. Am I missing something?

  3. says:

    Ah, Meryl Streep! The greatness passed me by as I knew nothing about the book or the film. And, of course, it explains the word once.

  4. says:

    A pin is a type of barrel. In time the contents of the barrel will end up in pints.

    Good crossword. Too subtle for me in places eg Merle Streep.

  5. says:

    1ac surely required some wordplay to go with this (admittedly very clever, now I have researched the answer) cryptic definition. I tried ‘shrink wrapping’ (i.e. something that might line a shipment), then guessed ‘simple plimsoll’ once I had all the crossing letters except 3dn. Or is SAMUEL PLIMSOLL just another name that everyone else seems to know?!

  6. says:

    here’s i got to 1A: at some point PLIMSOLL became clear to me (though I still had no idea what the first part would be). I remembered wearing plimsolls as a boy (which must date me) and I vaguely remember my dad explaining to me why they were called such: something to do with the rubber siding coming part way up the side of the shoe as waterproofing and how this had to do with something to do with boats.

    From there I saw the relationship to “liner” and it was one short hop to wikipedia (and SAMUEL). Wouldn’t have got there on the tube.

  7. says:

    I initially considered PADDED ENVELOPE but didn’t really see it as a liner, more of a shipping container.

    Plimsoll is well known to me, at least I recall it being something covered at school, but I wouldn’t have known his first name. I doubt he’s on the school syllabus any longer.

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