Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 24,001/Gordius – I really must get round to swallowing a dictionary…

Posted by loonapick on February 15th, 2007


A preliminary scan through the clues had me worried, as I only got a couple on first reading. It eventually took me at least 30 minutes, probably longer, to complete this, and I had some wild guesses based on wordplay. However, having checked Chambers, my guesses were right, so I suppose that that means the crossword is fair, if difficult. Typical Gordian fare, really!


1 NUCLEAR FALLOUT – the pedant in me might claim that there is no actual definition of nuclear fallout here, but the surface works well, and you get what the setter is looking for, so…?

9 VERY LIGHT – double definition – a Very light is a flare from a Very pistol. This came up fairly recently in another crossword.

11 RE-IGN – didn’t know, but guessed that ign. is an abbreviation for “unknown”, presumably from the same root as “ignore”.

14 SPADES – refers to phrase “in spades”, meaning “emphatically”.

17 E-POPE-E – aka Epopeia – epic poetry.

19 OLIGARCH – (goal rich)* – I assume that “type” is the anagrind here, but I don’t recall having across it before?

22 LAGER LOUT – (get all our)* – “members irritated”, being the anagrind, a good &lit. clue

24 TIGER – (<=regit) – “regit” being the Latin for “rules” – excellent clue.

25 NON-G.S. – according to Chambers, a nong is an idiot down under.

27 A-CHILL ES/T END-ON – excellent surface and wordplay, but definition “in lower leg” a bit vague. Like 1 ac, you get what the stter wants in the end, so probably OK.


1 NEVER-NEVER LAND – a variation on something I saw in another puzzle recently, but well-worded.

2 CORTINA – (car not I)* -referring to the once-ubiquitous Ford Cortina

3 EGLANTINE – (elegant in)* – not sure about the wordplay. If “can be” is the anagrind, then “flower” and “wild rose” are both defintions. If “in flower” is the anagram, then it can’t work, because “in” is part of the anagram fodder. I think the setter has tried to manipulate the clue to make the surface sound better, but I may be wrong.

4 RAGMEN-TS(<=st.) – old word for catalogues.

6 LOW-RY – like it – low railway!

8 THOMAS SHERATON – (O other than mass)* – a furniture-maker that I remember coming up in history lessons when I was at school (with Chippendale and Hepplewhite, IIRC)

15 PAGE THREE – (gape there)* – referring to the topless models which adorm some of the tabloids in the UK, and which must bewilder visitors to our shores…

18 O.R.-Ga.-NIC(k) – nicely worked clue.

20 RIGGALD – sounds like “wriggled” – a riggald or ridgel is an animal with one testicle.

23 RISHI – Irish with the “I” at the end – a rishi is a sage or divinely-inspired poet in Indian mythology.

9 Responses to “Guardian 24,001/Gordius – I really must get round to swallowing a dictionary…”

  1. says:

    yeah I guessed at NONGS, RIGGALD, had to wikipedia Steptoe and Son to get rag men (and then wondered what RAGMENT meant). And bewildering isn’t the word I’d use to describe page 3. Not to mention EPOPEE — not in my everyday vocab.

  2. says:

    I don’t regard myself as a purist, but I thought this was substandard fare. There were some inadequate definitions – NUCLEAR FALLOUT as mentioned, but also ORGANIC (does not equal free-range), and being picky, even PAGE THREE (It might be unsavoury, but don’t the perverted go for stronger stuff?) and UNDATED (an old maid’s unmarried – doesn’t mean she’s never been out to the pictures with a man).
    ‘Type’ and ‘flower’ were both doddy anagrinds – and as observed, if it’s ‘in flower’ then that includes part of the anagram fodder. The wordplay in RAGMENTS seems to use ‘to’ to mean after, and I don’t see how NEVER-NEVER LAND works at all – if the reference is to Jacko’s pad, it’s called ‘Neverland’, so the first NEVER is unclued. If it’s J.M. Barrie, I don’t think Peter Pan’s playground could be called an estate! Am I being unduly harsh? (Oh, but I did like LOWRY a lot as well)

  3. says:

    I think you’re just a bit too harsh re ORGANIC — after it only claims to be “maybe free-range”.

  4. says:

    Re 1d, Barrie’s fictional island in ‘Peter Pan’ was originally called “Never Never Land” but became ‘Neverland’ in the published play and novel. Being an imaginary place (in the usual sense of the phrase and leaving aside the real Never Never land in Australia) , Never Never Land could be many things including an estate!

  5. says:

    I don’t know if it was deliberate, in fact I very much doubt it, but I ‘solved’ 11ac (Rule about unknown (5)) as CANON (C = about + ANON. = unknown). I was so sure this was right, especially as it fit with 3dn, that I discounted NEVER-NEVER LAND as a possibility and couldn’t see the anagram at 2dn. Eventually I got EMACIATE and then saw CORTINA so realised ‘canon’ was wrong, but not before a harrowing struggle. Still, got there in the end.

    I’ll vote for LOWRY too.

  6. says:

    A query from a new fan… (me)

    When you post the solutions, and leave some answers out, is this deliberate? Is it just that they’re so obvious that any numbskull with a copy of Dictionary for Dummies could get them?

    12ac ECOSYSTEM had me stumped before I got 4d RAGMENTS. Whenever I looked at the space, I’d think ANTONYM (yeah, it doesn’t even fit). Crossworder’s Block – surely a recognised phenomenon.

    I was tempted to ask, but feared public humiliation and eye-rolling.

  7. says:

    Well, consistent with the theme of Torquemada, Ximenes, Azed, Inquisitor I think a certain amount of public humiliation and eye-rolling if not teeth-pulling and eye-gouging and even tongue-twisting is in order.

    Actually, I think we’re all very interested in generating more rather than less discussion. And the cliche is that there’s no such thing as a stupid question, only stupid answers.

    In terms of policy, I don’t think we have one — most people seem to comment on the particuarly elegant, the somewhat dodgy, the thematic and the more complex clues (wrt wordplay or definitions). Typically this turns out to be half to 3/4 of the puzzles.

  8. says:


    Welcome to the site, and please keep coming back. If we ever fail to explain a clue that is troubling you, just post a comment and we will oblige (except ilancaron who apparently would rather put you through the tortures of the Spanish Inquisition!!)

    There is a kind of policy in place for daily puzzles. We don’t explain every clue, because the newspapers involved have phone lines which you can call to get assistance with the clues, and we don’t want to alienate the papers by removing this potential income stream.

    On the other hand, I am fairly sure that the clues we explain, which tend to be the more devious or interesting ones, or the ones where poor clueing or wordplay makes it difficult to get to an answer, would be the very same clues that solvers are likely to call about. Therefore, we are already probably having some effect on the income stream anyway, assuming that solvers know about our existence.

    Personally, I pick about 60-75% of the clues to blog, normally the more obscure words, the best two or three clues, and any clues where, in my opinion, the “rules” of construction have been breached in some way.

    Happy crosswording!

  9. says:

    Ah I see. So that’s pretty much a ‘yes’ to the numbskull question then…

    But as for alienating the papers, consider this;

    Editor: Great job on the crossword, but I knew all the answers!

    Setter: Is that a problem? I thought the idea was to lead a trail of crumbs to the solution, get a bit of lateral thinking going on, construct it in such a way that the reader can break down the individual elements of the clue, and with logic and a following wind arrive at the answer.

    Editor: Ah… have you seen the new Solutions Hotline? We get 60 pence for each of those suckers that call in.

    Setter: But why don’t they just consult a dictionary… or I dunno… the internet?

    Editor: Some of them will, sure, but we can screw money out of the rest of them. Okay, so they’re mainly OAPs, and so what if they’ve already paid for the paper, and double at the weekend. Hey, did you hear that cha-ching noise?

    Setter: So what are you saying?

    Editor: Well duh, make the clues harder. Break the rules. Change the tense. Hell, make stuff up if you have to. Are you familiar with Sumerian at all?

    Setter: So you don’t want the OAPs to be able to solve the clues?

    Editor: Why sure, but it’ll cost ’em 60p every time!

    Setter: I’d just like to say one thing. Male falcon follows croft to small puckered opening (5,4)!

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