Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 24378 – Arachne – Ma is a Ms

Posted by manehi on May 2nd, 2008


Found this really tough going at times, and still can’t work out some of the wordplay. Good puzzle overall though, with a few really nice clues.

6 ABLE – Vince [C]able, former temporary leader. “no longer the leader” seems to be doing double duty here.
10 EMBED – problEM BEDeviling. Normally wouldn’t blog a hidden clue, but I’d never heard of EMBED as, presumably, a noun. Probably just an abbreviation of “embedded reporter”.
11 FLESHPOTS – FLESH, POT’S = “Herb is”. A name for stews, among other things.
12 A,CADE,M,E – CADE is our rebel
13 THRIVEN – THE reduced by one, and RIVEN is “rent”. Alternative past tense of thrive.
14 COURTS MARTIAL – COURT = “risk” as in “courting disaster” and so on, + (alarmist)*
17 THERMONUCLEAR – (truman,e,choler)* Nice &lit.
21 SCISSOR – SC = Special Constable, IS, SOR(e)
22 MIASMAS – “I’m Samsa”*, I think. Samsa is from Kafka’s Metamorphosis, and could have said this. Did anyone get this from the wordplay?
25 LIPID – Lipids are fats, and LIP = Sauce, as in cheek, but don’t understand the rest. Clue is “Sauce with fish making you fat? (5)” – ID is a fish
26 DODO – definition is “Old fogey”. “do.” is an abbreviation of ditto, hence “” ~ “read the same thing again and again”. Maybe.
27 MASONRIED – (od,remains) – “old” is “excavated” to give “od”.
3 HIDDEN TREASURE – don’t get this. “It’s controversial, but a valuable secret (6,8)” “trove” is hidden in “controversial”. Hmm.
5 SPECTER – (creeps)* around [Sea]T[tle]. Coined by Poe, perhaps?
7 BOOK VALUE – rev(EU, LAV=”can”) after BOOK = “reserve”. I liked this.
9 CHARLIE, CHAP,LI,N – CHARLIE is slang for cocaine, CHAP = crack, as in lips, LI for lithium, [rui]N. Excellent clue.
16 PRESIDED – P,(desire)*,D
18 MARXISM – SIX is the cardinal to be turned round inside MARM, which is how you might address the Queen.
19 NEMESIS – (e,s,mines)*, the e and s coming from [onc]e [prosperou]s

16 Responses to “Guardian 24378 – Arachne – Ma is a Ms”

  1. Andrew says:

    I thought 22ac was SAMSA I’M reversed (“about”).

    5d – I though Poe was mainly there to tell us to use the American spelling instead of SPECTRE.

    18dn – two problems with this: I don’t think “perhaps” is an adequate homophone indicator, and in any case when addressing the Queen “Ma’am” is pronounced “Mam”.

    I couldn’t understand 3dn either, unless HT has some metaphorical meaning that I don’t know.

  2. beermagnet says:

    25A LIP-ID An ID is a fish that often inhabits crosswords

  3. Will Mc says:

    I think 3d alludes to the fact that TROVE is hidden in CON(TROVE)RSIAL. Bit of a stretch, I think.

  4. Eileen says:

    That’s really ingenious! My first thought was that ‘trove’ means discovered [french 'trouver'] but my OED tells me that it can be an abbreviation of ‘treasure-trove’ – so I’m sure you’re right.

    I’ve seen ‘ide’ for a fish many times in crosswords but I couldn’t find ‘id’ anywhere.

  5. Octofem says:

    HT could be Hormone Therapy which is controversial???

  6. Paul B says:

    … although TROVE means, or can mean, ‘hidden treasure’ in any case.

    I just think the clue-wording is a bit confused, or maybe a doomed attempt at an &lit, and that there must be a really good way to do this.

    I would compare the situation to one in which the required phrase is, say, ETON MESS, where the compiler says ‘Aha!’ (and not ‘Ha-haarrr!’), ‘I know what I’ll do here – I’ll anagrammatize ETON and use MESS as an unclued anagrind!’.

  7. manehi says:

    Added edits. Agree that 3d could be better, but can’t think how, without including a hidden word indicator – I guess the problem is that “trove” is the hidden treasure, and a clearer clue would have to point at it more explicitly.

  8. Testy says:

    Valuable secret that Rover has buried!

  9. ilancaron says:

    I thought the Kafka clue was quite fair — Gregor Samsa is his best known character and quite doable from the wordplay.

  10. manehi says:

    Testy, nice as that is, surely it would lead to TROVE and not HIDDEN TREASURE?

    Re Kafka, I tried to work K into the answer for a long while before thinking of Samsa. But that’s no fault of the compiler’s.

  11. Geoff says:

    6a: There is certainly double duty done here, because the clue is surely a rather good &lit – Vince Cable (temporary leader pending election of Clegg) is widely considered to be the Lib Dems’ most impressive MP.

    22a looked like MIASMAS (I prefer ‘miasmata’ as the plural, don’t you?), but I had to cheat to find SAMSA, it being decades since I read Metamorphosen. I also tried to stick a K in there for a while.

    Also took me a while to get 18d – I haven’t previously come across ‘cardinal’ used in a crossword to mean an integer (ie cardinal rather than ordinal number) and got stuck on DER (‘red’ reversed) until it dawned on me.

    24a is clever – at first I took ‘assorted’ to be the anagrind, rather than the letters to be shuffled, but (I + UNSTABLE)* didn’t get me very far!

  12. manehi says:

    6a: it’s not quite an &lit, is it? the definition is talented = ABLE, while the “&lit” reading would lead you to CABLE, which still needs to lose its leader to give the answer. Still, I suppose that you can get CABLE from “talented Lib Dem” or just “Lib Dem” and then the rest is used only once.

  13. Shed says:

    11 ac: ‘stews’ is a rather archaic word for ‘brothel’. I found this a struggle but in the end a rewarding one, with some interesting new ways of doing old tricks. Though I share other contributors’ reservations about HIDDEN TREASURE, which I couldn’t figure out the crypting of at all.

  14. Paul B says:

    I’ve been musing on this one, and I think the problem is twofold.

    As mentioned, ‘trove’ can mean ‘hidden treasure’ as well as simply ‘treasure’, so the answer (if anyone were to deduce it) could always be ‘hidden hidden treasure’.

    But as to deduction, it’s a real toughie: hidden clues are never – or oughtn’t be – indirect, and this one actually is. Better off, I suspect, hiding ‘treasure’.

    And therein, probably, lies the essence of the setter’s problem …

  15. dave brown says:

    Moving gradually to lose a third of the old colliery EASING Where is the old colliery?

  16. David says:

    Easington, at Peterlee, County Durham, Dave.

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