Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 24179/Gordius

Posted by linxit on September 11th, 2007


Solving time – approx. 20 minutes

Another witty and scurrilous (I mean that as a compliment) offering from Gordius today! Really enjoyable to solve, although it required a lot of general knowledge (some of it fairly recent and UK-specific) to understand some of the clues fully.

9 VASE,CT,O MY! – cut indeed – ouch!
10 HE,LEN – ship launcher = HELEN is an old chestnut that I haven’t seen for a few years. From Helen of Troy, “the face that launched a thousand ships.”
11 R(ETRE)AT – être is “to be” in French-speaking Martinique, inside rat=”desert”
13 INRO (iron*) – a little Japanese box found in crosswords and on Antiques Roadshow.
14 LITTLE CHEF – “failing” referring to the fact that the roadside restaurant chain went into administration earlier this year.
16 NOCTULE (clue not)* – a type of bat.
17 HOTSPUR (up short)* – nickname of Sir Henry Percy, a 14th-century soldier.
19 HOME,OFFICE – nice idea, but only true for those of us who work in an office.
22 FR,A,U – that’s French and German required today.
24 RAPHAEL – “Leah, par” all reversed. When I see the name Raphael I think of the painter, but it’s also the name of an archangel.
25 TROLL,OP – funnily enough, I thought of Jade Goody even before I got the answer to this clue…as may have been Gordius’ intention. One dictionary definition of jade is “a woman regarded as disreputable or shrewish” anyway.
27 ANDROGENS (send organ)* – a hard anagram to crack for some reason. I had most of the crossing letters before I got it.

1 A,VERSION,T(HE)RAPY – HE inside party*
3 SCREW – Brit slang for a prison warder.
5 TYPIST – “Thai pissed”, naughty Gordius!
6 CHAMPER(s),T(ips)Y – I worked it out from the wordplay, and thought I’d vaguely heard of it as a word. It’s the crime of participating in a lawsuit as a third party in order to share the proceeds of winning. A bit like those “accident lawyers” who advertise on TV.
8 UNFIT FOR PURPOSE – as John Reid described the Home Office when he took over there. I thought the first half of the clue was a bit weak though, unless I’m missing something.
17 HOCKTIDE – to hock something is to pawn it, and “Uncle” is a nickname for a pawnbroker. Hocktide is a medieval festival which now only survives in Hungerford – no wonder I’d never heard of it!
18 PA,R(ALLE)L – PA + ELLA (Fitzgerald) rev. inside R and L (sides).
21 FULMAR (harmful* – h) – with F?L??? I was thinking FALCON, and couldn’t think of another bird that fit for ages. When I finally deciphered the anagram at 27 I remembered FULMAR and only then realised it was an anagram.
22 MOT,OR – duh! last one I put in, despite the fact that I’ve been working on MOT computerisation for nearly 4 years!

3 Responses to “Guardian 24179/Gordius”

  1. ilancaron says:

    Too many Britishisms for comfort today in my non-Brit opinion: HOCKTIDE, John Reid HOME OFFICE ref, CHAMPERTY, Jade Goody ref (celeb?), plus I wonder if 24A had an intentional trap, because Jacob married RACHAEL first didn’t he?

  2. mark says:

    24a – I think Jacob, so the story (whatever) goes, was deceived into marrying Leah thinking it was Rachel but got Rachel later. Never understood why Jacob was supposed to be the good guy generally having stitched up his brother and father along the way but maybe that’s why I didn’t last as a Sunday school teacher.

    Some strange, to me, pointers for anagrams today. 16a (suited?) and 17a (what purpose does the word ‘taken’ serve?).

    18a – the word “sides” then has to be used for both the cryptic part and def. Is that ok? Not common surely?

  3. linxit says:

    16a – suited means ‘matched, fitted’ etc, so I think ‘not suited’ is just about OK as an anagrind.

    17a – ‘taken’ helps the surface reading, and ‘could be taken’ is still OK as an anagrind.

    18d – it could be interpreted like that, but ‘that never meet’ might be OK on its own as a definition for PARALLEL.

    Above all, remember that The Guardian often lets its setters get away with things you certainly wouldn’t see in The Times puzzle.

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