Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 24,009/Paul (Sat 24th Feb) – Enigmatic Variations

Posted by rightback on March 3rd, 2007


Solving time: 20:15

I was pretty slow to spot the thematic bits, which were many and crucial, so I’m not too disappointed with the time. In fact I’m pleased just to have completed it correctly (I think) as there were some difficult words, names and clues.

The crossword was built around the phrase ‘PIECES OF EIGHT’ and the answer to 8ac (ELGAR), which together defined several other answers which were pieces of music written by Edward Elgar, though none is among his most famous.

* = anagram.

1 THE MUSIC MAKERS; (EMUS I C) in HM, all in TAKERS – a choral work by Elgar based on the poem Ode by Arthur O’Shaughnessy, neither of which I can claim to have known, and this was one of my last thematic entries.
9 FAL(S)TAFF – this time an orchestral piece, again unknown to me, and though I knew the name I was unsure of this as I didn’t know the River Fal in Cornwall either.
11 A(L TO S.A.)X
12 SC + HER(Z)O
13 DI[ne] + GIN
17 FROISSART – my last solve, and glad I went through the alphabet for the penultimate letter rather than going for the more likely N. Before having any thematic entries I’d written ‘croissant’ in here, though the resulting ?C word in 1dn meant that I was immediately doubtful. Froissart turns out to be an overture by Elgar.
20 CO(HE)N – though I thought of this almost straight away, I couldn’t see why ‘blue’ should be CON (Conservative, of course!) and nor, despite racking my brains, could I remember Leonard Cohen‘s band’s name (which I was expecting to go in at 1ac) – not surprising really as I have subsequently discovered that he doesn’t have one.
21 O + CC + I + PUT
25/2 PIECES OF EIGHT – very clever…
26 GLARE – …though I was really slow on this one, trying to anagram ‘eight’ instead of ‘Elgar’ for far too long.
27 FRINGE BENEFITS (one straight, one cryptic definition)
1 THE LAND OF NOD (= no ‘d’ in [d]ENMARK) – having downloaded this puzzle from the Guardian website, I suspected that this clue was a typo, starting as it does with a non-capital. In fact it’s perfectly fair and maybe I would have got it faster had a number of errors in previous puzzles not led me to doubt the clue’s integrity.
4 INFIXED; IN + rev. of XI (= team) in FED (= sent) – not quite sure how ‘fed’ = ‘sent’, but if in doubt try a football connection: “Gerrard fed/sent the ball into Crouch’s path”. Think that just about works.
6 KETCH – Jack Ketch was a notorious 17th Century hangman.
7 RE + FUR + BIS + H – tricky; I’m not sure ‘again’ = BIS (which means ‘twice’ in musical notation) is quite right.
14 GR + (OUCH + I) + ER – father and daughter are George VI and Elizabeth II.
16 COCK + A(I)GNE[s] – didn’t know this word meaning ‘an imaginary country’, or Elgar’s overture Cockaigne (In London Town), and I struggled with this as GLARE was missing. Eventually I thought of Agnes for the girl’s name, but not before trying several others.
19 T + RUFFLE (= ‘put out’, as in ‘annoy’)
22 PECAN; rev. of (ACE (= great) + P) + N – unusual to see ‘under’ used in wordplay to a down clue when the result is then reversed, but it seems fair.
24 M(I AM)I – from René Descartes‘ famous cogito ergo sum (‘I think, therefore I am’).

2 Responses to “Guardian 24,009/Paul (Sat 24th Feb) – Enigmatic Variations”

  1. says:

    BIS=again is fine in 7D (see: It’s a common variant of “encore!” (apropos Elgar).

  2. says:

    Thanks Ilan, I didn’t know it could be used in that sense. Must try to use Collins more often.

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