Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 24221/Pasquale — hard not easy

Posted by ilancaron on October 30th, 2007


This was hard. Not easy. Some of the clues seem better suited to a weekend puzzle — not to the mention the fact that the online version didn’t indicate enumerations (word divisions) at all which made some clues quite difficult: 1D, 8D, 23A, 19A. A couple of fine clues (e.g. 14A) but overall more dictionary-words than is my wont for a weekday (e.g. LORICA, EFFERENT, HEPTANE). I also must admit I don’t understand 20D (ACCORD?), 21D (LORICA) and 25D (LARK?). Read the comments below to understand how to decode the early-morning online errors (since fixed) which apply to the last few down clues.


9 1,BU(PROF,E)N – a two-drug clue: IBUPROFEN and E[cstasy].
10 DEUCE=”juice” – as in “what the deuce [devil]?” and I think we’re trying to rhyme with “juice” which will have someone upset somewhere I’m sure.
11 HE,P(T)ANE – HE is our High Explosive. HEPTANE must be a chemical.
12 INCISOR – ah, a rare Pasqualean cryptic definition, where your “trap” is your mouth.
14 DEPO[a]RTMENT – my fav clue: DEPARTMENT is a French county basically and “nothing” (O) replaces “a”. Slick. The whole thing meaning “carriage”.
15 A(BEY)ANT – BEY is a useful cryptic Turkish governor.
17 P,ARABLE – ref. the Parable of the Sower (see under: The Bible).
19 Y,LANG-Y,LANG – a tree grows in Malaya. I really hope there’s an Archbishop LANG otherwise this all falls flat (Y’s our unknown).
22 ELLA – rev(alle[ueia]). Ref. ELLA Fitzgerald.
23 EN CLAIR – (Arc? Line)* — rather tough since should have been indicated as (2, 5).
24 RELATED – two meanings: simple and elegant clue.
24 CORGI – hidden in “dramatiC ORGIes” – presumably only applies to the Queen’s son who married a porn star (or is that libel?).
27 CAM(A,R)ILLA – speaking of which, I take it she’s a duchess now? CAMARILLA is a kind of political clique.


1 WITHIN EASY REACH – not really since the enumeration was just (15) — however it was clearly an anagram of (Cheshire ain’t way)*
2 CU(T)P,RICE – this time our food’s RICE (last time it was BUN).
3 [w]ORC,A – rev(a cro[w]) — it’s a killer whale. I think it’s a bit loose to not hint at the seagoing nature of this particular kind of killer.
4 EF=rev(FE),FE,RENT – FE is “iron” — had to look EFFERENT up: related to motion-transmission neurons.
8 LEARN THE HARD WAY – indeed: without the (5, 3, 4, 3) enumeration this was quite hard.
16 AU GRATIN – seems like a fairly weak cryptic definition?
18 BELITTLE – I think this wants to be ELI (“priest”) in BATTLE (“conflict”) but I don’t see how to remove the A – ideas? “Sneer at priest in conflict?”
20 ACCORD – I think. The clue is “Not the answer” — was it supposed to have been “Nod to answer”?
21 LORICA – it’s a hard protective sheath in the world of biology. Wordplay? “Agreement that’s current – something binding?”
25 LARK – Maybe. “Covering unduly ornate lacking edges around”.

11 Responses to “Guardian 24221/Pasquale — hard not easy”

  1. Pasquale says:

    There is an online error. Not the answer at 20D belongs to 18D and 20D should read: Agreement that’s current — something binding? I’ll let others explain the rest to the long-suffering Ilan!

  2. Pasquale says:

    It’s worse than I thought. Down clues knock back. Then the last one should read Bird box attached to line. No wonder Ilan had trouble!

  3. Pasquale says:

    I think (fingers crossed) it’s all OK now, so I look forward to feedback from those solvers who didn’t ahve to run an obstacle course!

  4. Judy Bentley says:

    Hi Pasquale
    I saw the comment ‘had not easy’ and thought, blimey, if it was hard for him it will be impossible for me. I tried it anyway, having glimpsed only IBUPROFEN as a solution. I found it very accessible. But to have to contend with all those errors on the on-line version – well, no thank you.

  5. Geoff says:

    Some tough words here! I knew HEPTANE (saturated hydrocarbon in the same series as the more familiar propane, butane and octane) and EFFERENT, but had to check CAMARILLA and LORICA after I had worked out a possible solution from the cryptic part.

    18dn: ‘Sneer at’ (BELITTLE) = ‘priest’ (ELI) ‘in conflict’ (BATTLE) without the A – which is ‘answer’ (as in Q&A)

    21dn: ‘unduly ornate lacking edges’ is (F)LORI(D); ‘around’ is CA (ie circa – about or approximately)

    Cosmo Lang was Archbishop of Canterbury in the mid 20th century and Camilla is indeed Duchess of Cornwall. Incidentally, serving sometning ‘au gratin’ (16dn) does not strictly require cheese – it just implies ‘cooked in a shallow dish and browned on the top’, but Pasquale’s implied meaning is current among the less culinary pedantic, and makes for a good clue – of which there were quite a few in this puzzle.

  6. Pasquale says:

    Thanks both – that’s a relief. The mere possibility of cheese is indicated by the question mark in the clue, by the way

  7. muck says:

    I found the paper version, without the on-line errors which have become all too frequent, hard enough. I thought some of the clues I didn’t get were a liitle unfair.

    27ac: Camarilla. Not a word I knew, but it is in Chambers.

    21dn: Lorica. Very difficult clue, though it does work.

    19ac: Ylang-Ylang. I trawled through Chambers, but only with vowels between Y and A.

    16dn: Au Gratin. Sorry, not a clue.

  8. Geoff says:

    Hi Pasquale (Don),

    Sorry if I seemed to be damning your work with faint praise – I thought it was very good indeed, a bit tricky but not too difficult, and I much enjoyed solving it. Personally, I enjoy crosswords with a sprinkling of unusual words, some of which I feel smug about knowing, some of which I have to rush to the dictionary (generally Chambers) to confirm or discover. However, crosswords composed almost entirely of words (or obscure meanings) known only to senior editors of the OED leave me cold.
    A ‘good’ clue for me is one which not only serves its purpose dutifully (ie is not a ‘bad’ clue), but also has an entirely plausible, though misleading, surface reading and makes me smile, laugh and/or marvel at the ingenuity of the setter.
    As for the subtle meaning of the question mark in 16dn – a fundamentalist Ximenean would never ever need to use one, so if one appears in a Guardian crossword it could mean absolutely anything. That’s fine by me!

  9. Pasquale says:

    I’m glad you enjoyed the puzzle, Geoff. As a matter of fact all the words I used are in all the desktop dictionaries (not just Chambers words and not obscure words for senior OED editors, of whom I was never one – but I guess you are talking about other more extreme puzzles, not this one?). If working out a cryptic clue leads one to a new word, that’s all to the good (how much we all learnt from crosswords when younger, eh?) — besides which anyone like myself setting a few thousand puzzles over a lifetime will want some freedom to explore new words and not dish up the same familiar old stuff clued in the same old way — and I see The Guardian as a good medium for that. I was particularly pleased to discover the Camilla/Camarilla idea, and rather hoped that this would bring a smile at least. I like your definition of a good clue, and while I don’t generally play for laughs, if the opportunity for a good joke occurs naturally (and it isn’t prep-school toilet stuff) I’ll seize it. I am not into sneery comments about Ximenean fundamentalism (though I’m sure YOUR comments weren’t sneery), but to my mind my question mark was necessary for the reason I have already given – nothing subtle, just that if you give an exmaple of the definition you add a ‘maybe’ or something equivalent. And, yes, 16D IS a clue, Muck — a weak cryptic definiton if you care to judge it that way but a perfectly valid clue nevertheless. Time to move on!

  10. Alan G says:

    I only buy the Guardian occasionally, and only for the crossword. I must say I enjoy the diversity of all the setters. This one took me nearly two days (what are you laughing at?) and I don’t buy another Guardian til I’ve managed to complete the one I’ve got. Pasquale, I liked this one immensely. I’m a compiler myself, so I know about all the hard work that goes into it. I learnt a lot of new words today, which surely is what solving crosswords is all about, isn’t it?

  11. Pasquale says:

    Well — thanks Mr G!

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