Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian Genius 52: Lavatch — Here know weevil

Posted by jetdoc on November 5th, 2007


When I first downloaded this one, it lacked a preamble. Having solved it without one (not boasting or anything!), I returned to the website, where a brief preamble had been added. The principle, also the answer to 10,17,12,18, is the second part of: “It is the province of knowledge to speak and it is the privilege of wisdom to listen” — a quotation from the physician and poet Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr, himself (via a namesake) the answer to 13ac.

Accordingly, ten of the clues contain homophones in the definitions; I have marked the answers with *. Double quotation marks (“ ”) indicate ‘sounds like’.

(Some websites which carry this quotation confuse things by including a picture of OWH’s son, Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr, the Civil War hero and great American jurist.)

1 ESPRIT DE CORPS — *(c prospered its). A strong esprit de corps might help a company to prosper. Nice &Lit clue.
10,17,12,18 IT IS THE PRIVILEGE OF WISDOM TO LISTEN — *(so primitive with little good sense if). I just hope I’ve got the anagram right!
11 PITFALL* — Dr Spooner might thus enunciate ‘fit pall’ (‘adjust curtain’). The definition is ‘whole’ = “hole” — a pitfall can mean ‘a lightly covered hole as a trap’.
13 HOLMES* — Another Holmes was Watson’s (“What? Son’s”) partner. M (married) in ‘holes’.
15 EVEN* — Eve + N (= northern). Definition: ‘fare’ = “fair”.
16 SOUR GRAPES — Double definition. Why was this clued as one 10-letter word?
19 INK BOTTLES — ‘in KS’ (KS is the international licence plate code for Kyrgyzstan), with ‘bottle’, a current buzzword in British politics, inside it.
20 TIER* — R (‘deer ultimately’); after ‘tie’ = game (a match, esp one at any stage of a tournament in which the losers are eliminated). Definition: ‘roe’ = “row”.
22 NEBRIS — Hidden in ‘fine bristle’. Nebris is ‘a fawn-skin worn by Bacchus and his votaries’.
24 TOUCHING — ‘touch’ = pinch (maybe in the sense of ‘small quantity’); ‘in’ = trendy; G = girl.
26 LAYETTE — ‘yet’ = still; wearing (surrounded by) ‘late’ = most recent. A layette is a baby’s complete set of clothing, so it might include more than one outfit.
27 ALLHEAL — ‘Al’ = boy (one who often crops up in crossword clues); L = left; ‘heal’ = “heel”, which can mean (of a ship) ‘lean on one side’, or ‘list’. Unlike the ones in the ten thematic clues, the homophone here is indicated by ‘say’. Allheal is ‘the great valerian or other plant thought to have healing properties, e.g. self-heal’.
28 TRANQUILLISED* — I like this clue. The definition is ‘made Serena’ = “made serener”. *(strain); clutching ‘quill’; ‘ed’ = little education.
2 SHIPWRECK — Someone may point out that this has been done before, but I can’t remember seeing it, and I think it’s a great clue. ‘Hips’, as an anagram of ‘ship’, could be called a ‘shipwreck’; and hands (the crew) may go down in such a catastrophe.
3 RETUSE — This means ‘with the tip blunt and broadly notched’ — so ‘in the end, not very sharp’. By convention, compilers are first-person, hence ‘us’; and ‘rete’ is a network, e.g. of blood vessels or nerves.
4 THECODONTS — Thecodonts were reptiles of the Triassic period, with teeth set in sockets. Wordplay is: ‘co don’ts’ = firm (company) prohibitions; following T = tense, he = male. The ‘for’ seems a bit incongruous — presumably it’s there to make the clue read more smoothly, but prohibitions are against things.
5 ESPY* — ‘Es’ = Spain’s (E is the international licence plate code for Spain); ‘py’ = the extreme letters of ‘pretty’. Definition: ‘sea’ = “see”.
6 OUTDOORS — ‘Not in’ is the definition. Wordplay is: ‘out’ = banned; the band is The Doors.
7 PSALM* — ‘p.s.’ = ‘I forgot to mention’; ‘alm’ = a lot of ‘alms’. Definition: ‘him’ = “hymn”.
8 DISOBEDIENTLY — *(led by sedition). Another neat and concise &Lit clue, with ‘performing’ as the anagram indicator.
9 CLASS STRUGGLE* — Double definition, with slightly strained wordplay, I think. Students might it hard to struggle in class, and that might show up in their marks. The other definition includes ‘marks’ = “Marx”; but ‘shown by’ doesn’t quite seem to fit in that one.
14 FREE FOR ALL — This refers to the previous clue, and I can’t see how it could be solved without the checking letters.
21 OCELLI* — ‘ill Eco’ reversed. Umberto Eco (born January 5, 1932) is an Italian medievalist, semiotician, philosopher and novelist, best known for his novel The Name of the Rose (Il nome della rosa) and his many essays. Ocelli are eye spots (= “ice pots”) — plural of ‘ocellus: a simple eye or eye-spot, distinguished from a compound eye, in insects and other lower animals; an eyelike or ringed spot of colour’.
23 BOYARS* — R = rule, A, ‘yob’ = hooligan, all reversed. Definition: ‘no bull’ = “noble”. Boyars were members of the old Russian aristocracy next in rank to the ruling princes, before the reforms of Peter the Great. This came up as a quiz question, the day after I completed the puzzle, so I was able to impress with my erudition.
25 ZEBU — Well, the zebu is a humped domestic ox (Bos indicus) closely related to the common ox, found throughout the Indian subcontinent, China, the east coast of Africa, etc.… and its name contains elements of the words ‘zebra’ and ‘gnu’… so it was pretty obvious. But the wordplay seems a bit tenuous to me.

2 Responses to “Guardian Genius 52: Lavatch — Here know weevil”

  1. Ken says:

    I finally finished this one this evening. I think boyars should have a *, no? It’s pretty clearly one of the “special” clues.

  2. jetdoc says:

    Mea culpa — yes, it should. I will edit it right now.

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