Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 24304/Gordius

Posted by Colin Blackburn on February 6th, 2008

Colin Blackburn.

For me this is a mixed bag from Gordius. There are some fine clues in here an a few I’m not so convinced about. There was a slightly fatty feel to the puzzle.



4 BEDLAM double def if I’m reading this right the first part of the clue is an allusion to someone suffering a stroke going into a mental institution. I’m sure in the days of Bedlam that’s where someone having had a stroke would have ended up but I find it a little disturbing that the clue is not in the past tense.
9 TEAGLE T+EAGLE a TEAGLE is a line for catching birds, “a big one” here refers to a big bird. The first of a couple of clues where Gordius uses one part of the clue to complete the definition of another part. See 1d.
10 BEETROOT (BETTER+OO) OO = (a pair of) spectacles, a term from cricket for a batsman getting a duck in both innings of a match.
11 ELBOW GREASE BOWEL* + AGREES* my favourite clue. Two simple anagrams put together superbly to create a great mental image.
15 DECIBEL DEC+I+BEL(l) I’m guessing here. DEC is the last month (though had the puzzle been published a few days ago it could have been interpreted two ways) BEL(l) is a ringer short. However, I’m not sure how the I gets in there, maybe “starts with” explains that somehow. The full clue is, “Last month starts with ringer short of volume (7)”
17 EASTERN E+ASTERN when sailing west E is ASTERN. I guess the “paradox” is that the answer is EASTERN?
18 WAX ELOQUENT cryptic def? I’ve never heard this term before and it isn’t in Chambers, COED or Collins. However, if the answer had been WAX LYRICAL I wouldn’t have given it a second thought and yet that term too is in none of the three dictionaries.
23 PATRON PARTON with RT< ref Dolly Parton.
3 BOOTLESS BOOTLE+SS Bootle is on Merseyside, it is home to what was called the National Girobank. Anyone having spent time on the dole will know Bootle’s name well. The answer here, though, was a new one on me. BOOTLESS means ‘of no use’ but it’s not related to footwear but rather the word ‘boot’ meaning ‘to give profit to’. The term ‘to boot’ is derived from the same word.
5 DRAWBACK WARD< nice little reverse cryptic.
7 IRON double def. now, I bet this one’s been seen before.
12 RELAXATION (N AXLE RATIO)* I saw this instantly but I initially read ‘New’ as the anagram indicator then when I realised there was an N missing I wasn’t happy with ‘enables’ as the indicator.
14 INSTANCE STAN in NICE* ref STAN Laurel and Oliver Hardy. Excellent clue which rather gives the game away with its surface almost crying out “another fine mess”.
21 ESSE palindrome simple but very effective clue. C’est la vie.

21 Responses to “Guardian 24304/Gordius”

  1. beermagnet says:

    15A DECIBEL I think the I comes from “last month starts” as Dec first, that is, DEC 1 with 1 for the I.
    4A BEDLAM I’m not sure here, but if stroke -> hit -> LAM, then “Where to be with serious stroke” only needs to deliver BED, but that means stroke is doing double duty. Though I didn’t worry about it till you pointed out the disturbing implication.
    I had to reach for my Chambers to confirm Teagle which I thought a bit obscure for a weekday, also the UTE part of Resolute which turns out to be aussie slang for Utility Vehicle thus pick-up (truck).

  2. Colin Blackburn says:

    15A Yes, that sounds right, thanks.

    4A I see the possible word play now but I’m still unsure.

    TEAGLE was definitely more of an Azed word, I too had to confirm with Chambers.

    I though UTE for Utility Vehicle was more well known so I left that one uncommented, particularly as LOSER

  3. Colin Blackburn says:

    …was shown openly in the clue. (I’m not sure what happened to that bit!)

  4. Chris says:

    For 16d – “With a writer to exist is to confuse”, giving “BEWILDER”, is the reference here to Oscar Wilde (in which case, where does the R come from?) or to another more obscure writer caller Wilder?

  5. Colin Blackburn says:

    There’s a US novelist and dramatist Thornton WILDER. I’d not claim he was well known but he was responsible for Hello Dolly! (ref to PARTON?)

  6. Berny says:

    BTW – is it quarts or quartz for 19D? Use of singular for measure suggests ‘quartz’ but adding the suffix sound to rock suggests ‘quarts’. What do you think?

  7. Colin Blackburn says:

    The solution must be QUARTS because of where the homophone indicator is positioned, “Imperial measure with rock sound (6)”. You are right though that the plural doesn’t quite seem to fit the definition.

  8. Jimbo says:

    Is Thornton Wilder so little known outside the US? Plays include OUR TOWN, THE SKIN OF OUR TEETH, THE MATCHMAKER. The first 2 won Pulitzers as did his novel THE BRIDGE OF SAN LUIS REY. Also, there is no reference to “Dolly” (Parton, Hello or otherwise)…that’s another clue altogether.

  9. Barbara says:

    8. mote
    This wasn’t mentioned in the blog.
    What does ‘brother’s’ have to do with the clue?
    Isn’t the wordplay sufficent without it?
    clue: Test point obscuring brother’s vision (4)

  10. Dave Ellison says:

    8 Mote – I think that will be Matthew 7:3:

    And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?

  11. Stan says:

    4a – I took it as a reference to Billy Wilder the film writer.

    Was CLEVE(r)DON for 24a too easy for everyone ? This Northerner was proud of getting that.

  12. Stan says:

    I meant 16d – refers to Billy WILDER ?

  13. radchenko says:

    Thanks for 8. Could someone please explain 6? I guess ARSONIUM, but no idea why.

    After I could not see the R in 16 or the N in 12, I started getting paranoid abut a nina, especially as these were two of the first I got and I’d never heard of “wax eloquent” either, only “wax lyrical”.

  14. rightback says:

    I wasn’t much taken with this, especially 23ac (suggests ‘Parton’, not PATRON), 4ac (I think BED + LAM is intended, but it doesn’t make much sense), 8dn (MOTE), 5dn (question mark in the wrong place), 7dn (IRON – old hat).

    But I agree that the clue to ELBOW GREASE is very good.

  15. Comfy Settee says:

    Radchenko – I think the answer to 6 is ERGOTISM – R (head of Red) in Egotism. Its a nasty disease one can get from eating dodgy bread, apparently.

    Stan – CLEVEDON was quite easy for me, I used to play chess there as a young lad many years ago! (Wipes nostalgic tear from eye….)

  16. rightback says:

    6ac is ERGOTISM (R in EGOTISM): a poisoning caused by eating bread made of rye diseased with ergot. (I’d never heard of it.)

  17. Jamie Carpenter says:

    6ac is ERGOTISM. The cryptic part is straightforward, the definition less so: R (redhead) in EGOTISM. ERGOTISM is apparently a kind of poisoning by a fungus which often infects rye, hence pumpernickel. Thank you Wikipedia…

  18. beermagnet says:

    Radchenko – 12D I think the N of RELAXATION comes from the word “New” doing double duty, like cases in other clues in this puzzle.
    I think 16D refers to Billy Wilder rather than Oscar Wilde.
    Ergotism was the first clue I got! But then I used to work in a flour mill lab – Quality Control – and one of the most important of the several checks we did was to spot ergot in the incoming grain, which occurred once in the 4 months I was there.
    I thought the clues for Mote and Patron were OK myself.
    Clevedon was a struggle for this southerner.

  19. ygor says:

    6A Anyone who lived through the 1970’s should remember that Ergot produces lysergic acid, which can be used to make LSD.

    16D Thornton Wilder is known as a writer. Billy Wilder is known as a film director.

    18A “Wax eloquent” is more often heard in the US than “wax lyrical”.

  20. Amnesiac says:

    Posted here, because there isn’t a 24304 to append to… and that’s the point of the post! Was 24304 so trivial it didn’t deserve a blog or so difficult that none of the bloggers have completed it yet? :-) I’d post the solution myself, but I’m guessing you need some sort of privileged access to do that.



  21. Amnesiac says:

    Rats – slip of the brain: for 24304, read 24305…

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