Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian Friday 2.11.07/Chifonie

Posted by John on November 2nd, 2007


Solving time : 22 minutes.  This is a fairly quick time for me, which is probably why I quite enjoyed this. I wonder about some of the assessments under the tab “Setters” above. Tees the other day set the most difficult Indy crossword I’ve ever done and he’s “medium”. Chifonie is “hard”. Perhaps these were just exceptional days.

5 TARN IS H. I wasn’t comfortable with “showing discolouration” or simply “discolouration” for “tarnish” until I discovered that “tarnish” can also be a noun.
9 2 mngs., one of which is a bit doubtful, I thought, until I looked a bit harder and saw that it’s P(I)LOT.
11 TEA(PLAN TE)R. T.E. Lawrence (Lawrence of Arabia). Tear = career in the fast-moving sense.
14 P(A TERN)OSTER. A paternoster is, among other things, a type of lift.
18 HIP PO CRATES. The Italian banker is nearly always the river Po.
25 ROVER entered IN TT, introvert adj. The past tense use of “entered” here is I know frowned on in some quarters.
26 INSE[C]T.
27 (AS WENDY)*. Is endways the same thing as upright? It looks to me as if Chifonie intended the question mark to refer to “endways” but the surface wouldn’t allow it, although “As Wendy, could be, upright?” would get round this problem easily, so perhaps I’m wrong all along and endways is a perfectly good synonym of upright.
1 I reckoned this was probably (PAL HIT)*, and was vaguely aware of the word Lapith, but had to look it up.
2 GAL rev., WAY. I don’t like these “in Ireland” types of definition.
3 (PROTECT LAD)*, good if obvious definition.
7 So far as I can see IN IT I ATE. Not sure about Within this = in it.
8 HIGH W IRE. It took me some time to justify high = piping, but I suppose one sense of piping is “thin and high-pitched”. Another of those definitions that seems grammatically inadequate.
16 CHAST(IS)E. “Indecent” has to be seen as “in decent”, something that not all Ximeneans like.
20 G ENTRY. I’m not sure about G for force. According to Chambers it is a constant of gravitation, the factor linking force with mass and distance. It doesn’t seem to mention G-force (as in aeronautics), which is perhaps OK and what Chifonie means.
23 MATCH as in something you strike. Good double def.
24 GO(Y)A.

7 Responses to “Guardian Friday 2.11.07/Chifonie”

  1. neildubya says:

    The difficulty ratings on the Setters page are obviously a bit fluid but I think they give a good indication of how easy or hard a compiler’s puzzles are most of the time. You’re right about the last Tees puzzle and I’d agree it was an exception – most Tees puzzles are usually fairly easy in a Medium type of way.

  2. Tees says:

    Well, I managed to get one joke in about mediums on Monday: but to be fair my friends (who don’t normally moan) have remarked on the toughness of that one. I didn’t plan it that way, embarrassingly.

  3. muck says:

    I had 7dn (INITIATE) and 8dn (HIGH WIRE) but didn’t understand either. If only I had got the much easier 12ac (VIEW) I would have had the crossing letters!

  4. Geoff says:

    8dn: I rationalised this as HIGH = ‘with passion’ and WIRE = ‘piping’

    I feel John is being overcritical of Chifonie’s clueing style in this crossword. I’ve made rather cynical comments about Ximenean fundamentalists recently. As far as I am concerned, pure Ximeneanism has a place in very difficult crosswords full of very recondite vocabulary – without adherence to strict clueing conventions such puzzles would be virtually impossible to solve. But in crosswords of medium difficulty (and in the fullest sweep of things, this includes practically all of the ones in the daily former broadsheets), a bit of latitude in the clues does not make solving any more difficult, and has the advantage of giving much smoother and more deceptively plausible surface meanings. From my own viewpoint, this adds much to the pleasure of solving a crossword. There were are some wonderful surfaces in this particular puzzle.
    I have always particularly enjoyed the Guardian crossword because it is often lighthearted and amusing as well as intelligent. Long live Araucarianism, I say!

  5. Geoff says:

    8dn: Looking at this one further, HIGH = ‘piping’ (high-pitched) and W (with) + IRE (passion) is indeed a better interpretation – I had missed the gap in John’s explanation of the word. There’s nothing grammatically odd about the clue, but Chifonie has used the trick of overlapping the cryptic part with the definition – which in this case is the whole clue. Not strictly Ximenean, certainly, but then Ximenes’s rules would totally preclude the &lit clue – which many of us find the most interesting and satisfying of all.

  6. petebiddlecombe says:

    For 27A ENDWAYS, Collins Dict. supports ‘vertical’. I don’t think strict Ximenean clueing is necessary for daily paper puzzles (I like cryptic def’s!), but I don’t think that means I have to support the “in-” trick or those “in {country}” def’s for placenames. Where to draw the line is the problem. I imagine explaining a clue to someone fairly new to cryptic crosswords. Whenever I’d have to say something like “When they say ‘in Ireland’ they really mean ‘a place in Ireland'”, I reckon the line has been crossed.

    Ximenes in his own book very clearly supports &lit. clues, describing them as his favourites!

  7. Geoff says:

    You can usually spot a non-Ximenean cryptic crossword because it has punctuation marks in the clues – much rarer in the strictly X ones. First rule is to ignore them completely! They are usually there to improve the naturalism and flow of the surface meaning, and to disguise the ‘caesura’ – the break between the definition and the cryptic part, the finding of which is an important step in the solution. The one exception is the question mark, which usually means there is something cryptic about the definition, or the definition may be an example rather than the ‘whole truth’.
    Personally, I do not have any problem with the ‘in-‘ trick – all crosswords (not just cryptic ones) involve an element of lateral thinking, and not being duped by the word boundaries in the clue seems to me to be an entirely legitimate tactic. I’m not sure that it even violates strict Ximenean rules. I would be perfectly happy with the extension of this to any word containing a prefix which could be re-analysed as a guiding preposition: under-, pre-, over- etc, although in my limited experience this is much rarer.
    Non-Ximenean crossword clues also often contain a ‘copula’ – a link between the two parts, eg ‘is’, ‘means’, ‘provides’, ‘from’… Again, not a problem if the solver is aware of it.
    Beyond this, the setter is faced with a decision over how much libertarianism is acceptable. The bottom line is that the clue should not be unduly misleading, so the more unusual the word, the stricter the clueing should be – and Guardian setters seem to judge this pretty well.
    ‘In (country)’ = place in (country) appears so often that I have just assimilated it into the automatic mental rules that I use. Provided that the place is a well-known town, and the cryptic part is not too impenetrable, I don’t think this causes too much difficulty. And it is much easier to explain to a novice than all of the ‘bloomer’ means ‘flower’ and ‘flower’ often means ‘river’ types of trick that crop up all the time.

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