Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 24228/Enigmatist – am I a fool?

Posted by ilancaron on November 7th, 2007


Only fools would agree to blog a puzzle with such a parochial Britcom theme. Having said that, I’ve actually seen an episode or two here and there but I had to invoke the relevant wikipedia article“Only Fools and Horses”. The penny dropped when I had three or so crossing letters for (28, 7) — then, in a flash, out came wikipedia.

8 ROBIN – two meanings, ref. Del Boy’s Reliant ROBIN (though I thought it was a Regal — at least according to wikipedia).
9 CASSANDRA – She’s Rodney’s girlfriend and I suppose ref. mythological CASSANDRA whose prophecies turned out to be right later? Far better explanation than my mythological version: CRASS,AND,A with the R (right) moved later!
10, 23 UNCLE ALBERT – Del Boys’ UNCLE and I suppose ref. pawnshop.
12 [b]RAQUE,L – one of the few thematic clues that I managed to solve before I knew the theme: ref. Georges Braque the cubist and RAQUEL, not the cubist, Del Boy’s girlfriend (?).
16 MARLENE – don’t understand the wordplay: “One in 28 7 finding Di’s getting force in 4″ where 4 is GET RICH.
19 TRIGGER – two meanings, ref. supporting character.
22 B,AND,AGER – rather awkward clue I think: AGER for “one getting on” and “binder” for BANDAGER are somewhat weak.
27 H-BOMB – hidden rev
28, 7 ONLY FOOLS AND HORSES – “… work for a living”
29 ORDER – actually a good clue: two quite different uses of ORDER.
30 LAMINA,TOR – rev(rot,animal): slightly awkward surface not meaning much.


1 ANKAR=”anchor”,A – my first clue: it’s a capital of a nation so we’re OK there and A for “area”.
2 T(HE S,K)ULL – I rather like this clue (perhaps because “brainbox” reminded me of yesterday’s egghead and bra clue in The Times). ref. Jethro TULL who I always thought was a rock group until I saw the exhibit in the Science Museum.
3 B(RUN)EL – Ref. BEL (which a decibel must be a tenth thereof) and BRUNEL University somewhere in Britain.
4 G,ET RICH=thrice* – It’s a recurring theme in OFAH (much like nothing is the theme of Seinfeld). See below to see how this is ref. MARLENE Dietrich.
5 ROD,NEY=rev(yen) – Del Boy’s brother.
6 B(ILL)Y-O – Brit slang for “a lot or very quickly, strongly”. And I’m guessing that BYO stands for “Bring Your Own [alcohol]”.
11 US[h]ER
14 JOG – run’s the def but the wordplay: “Run the first steps to the most northerly mainland point?” Pointed out below that JOG is short for John O’Groats.
15 BAR – triple meaning
16 MOB – two meanings: a MOB is a type of bonnet as well.
17 RUN – two meanings (ref. cricket — wouldn’t work in baseball since a single only gets you to first base).
18 NAGS – you kind of have to know that the pub in OFAH is “The NAG’S Head”.
20 GO TOO FAR – another hidden rev in: “LecheR AFOOT, OGling…”
21 GRAND,AD – the two brothers’ grandfather (replaced by Uncle Albert later).
24 DAMIEN – I think this is Del’s son. Little puzzled by the wordplay: Enigmatist should be ME or I, or I’M or I’M A. So… DA(M(I)E)N would have DAN = study which should be DEN. What else works? Could be D(AM’I)EN but how is is the reversal indicated? Conrad points out that the 2nd interpretation doesn’t need a reversal indicator!
25 B(O,YCI=rev(icy))E – Del’s pal. Strained surface due to convoluted wordplay.
26 D(ELBO[w])Y[ear] – the main character in OFAH , where D is Roman 500.

18 Responses to “Guardian 24228/Enigmatist – am I a fool?”

  1. conradcork says:

    Is it too easy if you recognise the theme? More of a challenge if you don’t? OTOH in that case there is often no way to be sure the answer is right.

  2. Don Manley says:

    I solved this one at the computer, and looked on a website to remind myself of the characters who I’d forgotten. Then I didn’t bother to work out the clues — maybe because I’m too busy, maybe because I’m lazy. Either way (though I indulge in modern culture and in thematics in my own puzzles) I’m getting rather bored with the proliferation of thematic daily puzzles, especially when they are linked exclusively to modern popular culture. This isn’t to say that the likes of Enigmatist/Nimrod aren’t talented, inventive and often very enjoyable — I have every respect for my fellow setters, even when I don’t share their cluemanship always! I just find myself preferring in a daily non-specialist puzzle a diversity of clues and vocabulary — everything from cathode rays to cuttlefish and curates and chess, rather than all Coronation Street (though I’d be happy to see an all-cathedral puzzle in a specialist paper such as The Church Times, say). Sandy Balfour touches on the thematic in his article this month — and clearly has mixed feelings. But where is the drive for them coming from — the small inner band or the wider range of solvers? Some who don’t watch a particular TV show and who don’t have easy reference access will find this puzzle very irritating, I suspect — but are they the majority or a grumpy minority and is anyone trying to find out?

  3. conradcork says:

    I’m with Don on this. But I wouldn’t say ‘very irritating’, rather my reaction is more of an ‘oh dear, how uninteresting’.

  4. Testy says:

    I don’t think that there’s anything wrong with themed puzzles per se. So long as they don’t completely preclude solvers who aren’t deeply familiar with the subject and aren’t totally obvious for those that are. This probably means that it is difficult to pitch it just right and, guessing from the comments, this one might have missed its mark.

  5. Berny says:

    I enjoy the fact that the Guardian does break the traditions set by other editors. Strange we didn’t have such an outcry when the Rugby themed puzzle appeared some weeks ago. Long live Del Boy, Enigmatist and Sandy Balfour.

  6. Chris says:

    Personally I really like a good themed crossword. Of course, it depends on what the theme is – I’d be completely lost with the Coronation Street puzzle mentioned above, for example. But if it’s an enjoyable and/or familiar theme then I think they’re great fun to solve (and I particularly enjoyed Virgilius/Brendan’s recent rugby themes).

    Seeing them every day would probably be a bit dull, and the diversity that Don mentions above would be lost, but seeing them once every so often makes them a treat (and personally I think the Guardian gets the balance just about right on that score).

    The trick is to make the theme not so obvious as to render the puzzle far too simple, and not so difficult or obscure as too make it impossible. I thought The Enigmatist’s effort today was probably on the easy side of the equation – but I really enjoyed solving it on the way to work.

  7. Fletch says:

    Ilan, in 16a you remove the G (force) from Get Rich and replace with Di to give Dietrich.

  8. conradcork says:

    24d. If you you take the question mark to refer to ‘is Enigmatist’ then ‘am I?’ works fine.

  9. Fletch says:

    14d: JOG, short for John O’Groats, Britain’s most northerly point.

  10. beermagnet says:

    18D NAGS is there in the even letters of iN bArGeS so
    “whose regulars serve in barges” gave it to me though I for sure didn’t know it was the OFAH pub.

  11. Comfy Settee says:

    I think CASSANDRA is the answer to 9ac since “grossly stupid” = CRASS, “and one” = AND A, together = “CRASSANDA”, with “right until much later” = move the R much further along; overall = “CASSANDRA”.

  12. Geoff says:

    I’ve only just got round to doing this one – sometimes I do have other things to do during the day! (though I did the Times one in a coffee break this morning…)
    Once I had 28, 7 the rest fell out quite easily, apart from 30ac, which eluded me – it might have come if I had persisted, but I had lost interest (Rather a loose definition didn’t help with this one – that and the absence of a connecting initial letter).

    Generally I enjoy thematics, whether popular or high culture, but only where there is still a lot to puzzle out even having found the theme. For example, Araucaria’s reptile-themed Saturday puzzle from a few weeks back was very entertaining. The problem with this puzzle from Enigmatist is that it falls into the much less interesting category of ‘closed set’ thematics – there was only a small number of possible solutions to the themed clues and it was simply a matter of finding the right place to put them all – as Don said, you didn’t have to think much about the wordplay to solve them.

  13. Fletch says:

    I’d argue that Don approached it with the wrong attitude to start with, realised it was thematic then just Googled the characters and stuck them where they fit, he said himself he didn’t even bother solving the clues.

    I thought this was a fun puzzle to solve without any aids but one’s memory.

  14. Geoff says:

    I did use my memory to solve it, I’m pleased (or ashamed?) to say, and it did keep me amused enough to want to finish it!

    It was ingenious of Enigmatist to fit the name of the series and all of the principal characters, including the car and the pub, into one 15×15 without needing a load of obscure words to fill the blanks. And he does write some very good clues. But the result ends up as less than the sum of its parts – in this puzzle the theme is not just an essential step in its completion, but takes the solver most of the way there.

  15. Fletch says:

    That’s what I thought, the title, 10 characters, the car, the pub, their ambition … you’ve got to admire the way he crammed in so much thematic material.

  16. Peter Chambers says:

    John O Groats isn’t the most northerly point – that’s Dunnet Head. It’s not even the most northeasterly – that’s Duncansby Head.

  17. davey b says:

    16 ac Why Marlene Detrich? What has she got to do with the puzzle?

  18. ilancaron says:

    take GET RICH, replace the G (for force) with Di and you get Dietrich who is a well-known MARLENE.

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