Fifteensquared

Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 23,997/Brummie (Sat Feb 10th [corrected from 3rd]) – Gunned down

Posted by rightback on February 18th, 2007

rightback.

Solving time: 10 minutes, one mistake (7 dn).

This felt a cavalier solve, with numerous across clues to which I didn’t look closely at the wordplay while solving (e.g. 1, 11, 14, 18, 25/26). The down clues seemed more straightforward, especially in the lower half; almost as if the compiler wrote the clues in order and ran out of inspiration three quarters of the way through!

Beginners’ tips of the day: ‘political party’ = ANC, ‘investigator’ = EYE, ‘Lincoln’ = ABE.

* = anagram.

Across
1 SCREW (= No 10, possibly) + UP (in revolt) – this wordplay took me ages to fathom after finishing. A ‘number 10′ is a standard screw size; very tricky but I like it. Reminds me of the furore recently when an ITV phone-in quiz asked ‘Name items found in a women’s handbag’, to which one of the answers was ‘Rawlplugs’ (see here).
4 B(HANG)RA – spotting this got me going.
9 RA’S TA – Ra was the Egyptian sun-god.
10 UTTER + ANC + E – ANC is the African National Congress; less common than CON, LAB, LIB or even TORIES but still worth remembering (I didn’t, so this held me up).
11 BRACHIOPOD; O in (CHIPBOARD)* – another wordplay I didn’t get. ‘Buggy’ can mean ‘crazy’ in America, according to Chambers; having an adjectival (or even nounal) anagram indicator after the noun is something to watch out for in Guardian puzzles.
12/21 REED (rev. of DEER) + MACE – a tall herb also known as ‘cat’s-tail’.
14 RESUSCITATE; I[njured] T[humb] in (SECATEURS)*
18 PARTY (legalese for ‘person’) + POO(PE)R
22 ECUMENICAL; (CLUE)* around (CINEMA)* – even for The Guardian, the cryptic grammar in this clue does not work.
25/28 NEW STREET STATION; NEWS (= word) + TREE (= cherry, say) + T (first sign of ‘the’) + STATION (= (TV) channel) – for some reason I read ‘Cherry’ as ‘Cherie’ and started to write ‘New Labour’. Another baffling wordplay which overseas solvers might have found very difficult (‘Brummie’ = someone from Birmingham).
26 SAM + MY (= well) – Sammy Davis was an American entertainer; Sam Weller turns out to have been a character in Dickens’ Pickwick Papers. I don’t know what ‘before’ is doing in the clue.
Down
1 STROBE; [cour]T in (BORES)*
2 R(E’S)EAL – trying ‘rep’ for material held me up.
3 WEATHER (= brave) + EYE (= investigator)
4 PLUTO; PL[ace] + (OUT)*
5 BOTTOM + SUP
6 [ch]AIRS
7 G(UNMET)AL – should really have got this, even though I didn’t know the word. I thought ‘western girl’ was a bit over-specific for ‘gal’ so thought it might indicate ‘gun gal’, and knowing that ‘ne’ can be dialect for ‘not’ I entered ‘gunnegal’. A little knowledge can be a dangerous thing.
8 ABERDEEN; ABE (= Abraham) + R + (EDEN)* – ‘of’ as a link word: bleugh…
13 MICRONESIA; (CAMERON I[sle] IS)* – …and again. This is a curious clue, as Cameron Isle doesn’t exist but Cameron Island does (e.g. here in Vancouver and here in Nunavut), and this would have fit the wordplay equally well. I suppose the compiler used ‘isle’ to make the anagram more confusing (which it was, for me at least).
15 SPOT + CHECK
16 SPUMANTE; M in (PEANUTS)*
24 STOA[t] – a portico or covered colonnade in ancient Greece.

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