Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 24,218, Quantum: 4-ing troubles

Posted by michod on October 26th, 2007


It could be the toothache – I might have been more charitable if I’d waited for the co-codamol to take effect – but I found myself being rather picky today.  There are some nice touches here, but also some wordplay that seems a bit iffy, as well as a few cryptic definitions which (as is so often the case) were less well concealed to me as a solver than they must have to the setter.


1. DISTANT. (T AND T IS*). Clever misdirection – I was trying to translate T in various ways. What is T and T anyway? Two stages beyond R and R?

5. COCO(a)NUT (TUN<).


11. PUSH THE BOAT OUT. Two meanings, the second referring to the piss-up that might follow a university boat race.

13. (p)LACE.

14. KOHLRABI (I LARK + HOB). One of those clues that screams ‘anagram’ at you.

17. NORM ALLY. Ally (friend) is ‘at’ NORM (morn exercising), meaning next to it, which I’m not wild about. Presumably it could mean to the left or right.

 21. BROBDINGNAGIAN. The conjunction of ‘swift’ and ‘race’ in the clue give it the appearance of a misleading definition, but ‘Swift character’ surely leads to Gulliver’s Travels, and ‘what were the big ones called again? How do you spell it?

24. I VIED. Good misdirection – what looks like the wordplay is in fact the definition.

25. SCENERY. Unless ‘flats’ throw you, basically a straight definition.

26. NOMINAL (LION MAN*). Slightly clumsy grammar here, plus unconvincing anagram indicator – ‘is wearing’ doesn’t suggest rearrangement to me.


1. D(IM)E.  ‘At the centre of’ seems to be doing double duty here – IM is at the centre of the centre of MODERN. Unless that versatile ‘at’ can also mean ‘in the middle of.

2. SODIUM CARBONATE. (ABOUT SOME CAN RID). Good tricky anagram. But do you ‘rid’ dirt?


5. CHAPBOOK. I’m guessing it’s a collection of ballads.

7. NATIONALISATION. CD, where ‘state’ is meant to be read in the surface as a verb. But if you read it as a noun, it’s a fairly simple non-cryptic definition.

8. THEATRICAL. (ACT THE LIAR*). Good anagram.

12. SLING BACKS. Nice concise surface, but doesn’t ‘on’ in a down clue normally mean before? Here, SLING is actually ‘on’ BACKS.

15. HARD LINE(s).

16. FLINT(l)ILY. Not many Welsh towns are words – Neath’s another.

22. ID(h)OL(y).

10 Responses to “Guardian 24,218, Quantum: 4-ing troubles”

  1. Colin Blackburn says:

    12dn. I think ‘on’ works both ways, except at The Times. My head is on my neck when I’m upright, it’s equally on my neck when I’m hanging by my feet.

  2. Judy Bentley says:

    Yes, ‘flats’ threw me. Please explain.

  3. Shirley says:

    Judy – Flats are the technical name for the flat pieces of scenery which are moved up and down on the stage within the fly tower.
    2D was given as a 15 letter word in the online version instead of 6,8. This made it difficult to solve!

  4. muck says:

    2dn: should be two words (6,9 not 6,8). This confused me too! Sodium carbonate is washing soda.

  5. Judy Bentley says:

    Thank you Shirley. You learn something every day. 2D was also given as a 15 letter word in the paper, and Grandma Alice came up with ‘no words found’ but ploughing through the dictionary gave me sodium, after which it was plain sailing.

  6. Ygor says:

    Why are these on-line puzzles so sloppily edited? The problem with 2D was the second error this week (see 24215, clue 5A) that effected the interpretation of a clue.

    I am but a humble American struggling to overcome my inferior education and master the British idiom. If I can’t trust my crossword puzzle editors, whom can I trust?

  7. muck says:

    As Judy Bentley pointed out, the problem with 2dn appeared in the paper version as well. However, I agree that the on-line version appears to have more sloppy editing. Complain, as I have, to

    [email protected]

  8. Paul B says:

    Re 1 the convention – certainly at The Times as Colin says, and for other papers too AFAIK – is that ON signifies an appearance after another element, but I’m fairly sure this applies to across clues only.

    In down, as ON is very likely to be taken to mean ‘above’ or ‘on top’, I suppose solvers might have legitimate cause for complaint were it to be used also to signify ‘after’.

    I’m actually not at all sure what the Times rule on this is for down clues, but I should say I’ve always written them as they appear in the grid, from top top bottom: example would be reversal indicators having to say ‘up’ (generally speaking – this is my get-out clause) rather than merely ‘back’.

  9. nmsindy says:

    Re 1 and 8, these are issues that I think are probably not noticed by solvers, nor does it hinder them. But, convention, as I understand it, is that in down clues, indications are based on how the answer will appear in the grid. However, as the clue itself is written (just like this posting) from left to right you could argue that whatever you use for across clues is just as valid for downs – I’d be happy with the convention, though.

    So if a clue led, say, to CON TACT as CON plus TACT, CON on TACT would be fine for a down clue, whereas, in an across clues it could be TACT on CON.

  10. neildubya says:

    Re mistakes in on-line puzzles. One Guardian compiler has told me that he (and indeed the xwd ed) only get to see proofs for the versions that appear in the paper, which would explain why there are more mistakes online.

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