Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 24396/Audreus – men are chesspieces

Posted by ilancaron on May 23rd, 2008


The only HELMSLEY I know is the very wealthy NYC socialite Leona who I think recently died and was not well-loved in America. Well, I didn’t actually know her.

1 S,CO,USER – Just learnt yesterday that Cherie Blair is one — haven’t actually heard her ever — does she have an accent?
5 VA(R)NISH – “topcoat” probably deserves a question-mark here.
9 ES,TOP – legal term for a stay or something like that. E and S are our directions.
10 POL(EMICA)L – (I came)* in POLL who’s our (pretty) parrot.
11 P(HEN,O,MEN)AL – I got this far but don’t see how the wordplay hangs together… MEN? Thanks to Eileen again: of course, MEN are (chess) pieces.  I knew that :)
12 AMIS[s] – Kingsley or Martin?
14 STEEP,LECH,AS,E – ref. LECH Walesa.
18 IM,P(O,V)ERISHED – rev(VO=very old) in PERISHED for very cold (in Chambers:”distressed by cold, hunger…”
22 ON THE CHEAP – (he can’t hope)*
25 CUT,THROAT=(hot art)*
26 ORGAN – hidden in “metaphOR G ANd…”: def is “newspaper” and not heart which is the hidden indicator.
28 HOL(IDA)Y – IDA’s our girl.


1 SHE,R,PA – Haggard’s classic book is SHE.
3 S(UP)PORTIVE – UP (“being at university”) in SPORTIVE for “frisky” with the def “maintaining a loyal interest”.
5 VA,L(U)AB,LES – rather complex wordplay: LES is our “man” and V & A is our museum (Victoria and Albert).
7 INCHMEAL=(male chin)* – obvious anagram for a somewhat unfamiliar word for “inch by inch” (I guess by analogy to piecemeal).
8 H(ELMS,L)EY – HEY’s our dance and I guess HELMSLEY’s in Yorkshire.
15 ER(RONEO)US – RONEO in rev(sure): I discovered that RONEO is a kind of old mimeograph machine or some such in cryptic crosswords some time ago.
16 NIGHTCAP – a rather weak double/cryptic def. Who wears a nightcap these days (or nights)?
17 OPERATOR – rather clever double def: to be done (conned) by an OPERATOR is something that happens all the time here in NYC and probably London.
24 SHED – first letters of “see how everyone differs”. Took me a while to see this!

18 Responses to “Guardian 24396/Audreus – men are chesspieces”

  1. Andrew says:

    I got through most of this pretty quickly, but then got stuck on 18ac, where I can’t find a word to fit, even with all the crossing letters. I hope someone will be along in a minute to put me out of my misery..

  2. Eileen says:

    18ac IM-P[OV]ERISHED

  3. Andrew says:

    Thanks Eileen. I’d put in SUPPORTING for 3dn, even though I’m sure I meant to put SUPPORTIVE. D’oh!

  4. beermagnet says:

    You are not alone Andrew.
    I did precisely the same thing and had precisely the same surprise at failing to get 18A, given the low level of difficulty for the rest of the puzzle (1A and 1D provided probably the fastest I’ve ever written in the first two answers).
    For 3D I suggest SUPPORTING is a reasonable answer from the clue.
    I didn’t question its correctness.

  5. Eileen says:

    ‘Supporting’ almost works, though!
    I did wonder if ‘perished’ was causing the problem. People sometimes look puzzled when I use it in the sense of being very cold. OED says it’s now chiefly dialect. We certainly use it in the Midlands.

    8dn is not entirely satisfactory – reminiscent of the [fairly] recent ‘in Lakeland’ discussion, isn’t it? It may cause Ilancaron problems. [H-ELMS-L-EY is a town in the North York Moors; I’m more used to ‘hey’ – a country dance – spelt ‘hay’, though the dictionary gives both spellings.]

    I wasn’t familiar with ‘inchmeal’ but guessed it by analogy with ‘piecemeal’.

  6. Eileen says:

    Sorry, Beermagnet: I posted the above before seeing your comment.

  7. Andrew says:

    Thanks to Beermagnet for moral support (ho ho).

    I’m familiar with “perishing” to describe cold weather, so it’s an easy deduction from that to “perished”.

    INCHMEAL was new to me too, though easy to guess as you say. And I had the same qualms over HELMSLEY.

    Nice touch in 24dn – Audreus being SHED’s mum, as previously discussed.

  8. PaulW says:

    Snap. Made the same mistake, thinking Frisky=SPORTING, then got IMPOVERISHED, so Frisky had to be SPORTIVE.

  9. Geoff says:

    I spotted the SUPPORTING/SUPPORTIVE ambiguity in 3dn, but fortunately plumped for SUPPORTIVE.

    I can’t get excited about the ‘in [country or county]’ issue. It may be inexact, but it isn’t illogical. The device is used so often that it has become a convention, as far as I am concerned. The main difficulty here was that HELMSLEY is not a particularly well-known place.

    7dn is certainly not an everyday word, but I knew it from Caliban’s splendid curse on Prospero in Shakespeare’s ‘The Tempest':

    “All the infections that the sun sucks up
    From bogs, fens, flats, on Prosper fall, and make him
    By inchmeal a disease!”

  10. MickS says:

    I also stumbled with supporting for 3d(!).

    Can anyone please explain the wordplay behind 17d (I assume the answer is operator)?

  11. Eileen says:

    I wondered about this one, too, then decided a surgeon obviously does operations and an operator can be [Collins] ‘a person who manipulates affairs and other people’, therefore ‘do’ in the sense of ‘cheat’?

  12. Geoff says:

    Eileen’s explanation for 17d was the rationale I came up with too.

  13. Eileen says:

    11ac: Ilancaron:men = [chess] pieces

  14. Ygor says:

    I am proud to to have made a mistake that eluded others. I had “LOOS” for 12A, thinking that “astray” = “loose” minus the last letter. Anita Loos might show up more frequently in US puzzles than over there.

    It worked with “helmsley” but totally screwed up “inchmeal”.

  15. Andrew says:

    Showing my age again: Cherie Blair is the daughter of Tony Booth, who played the “Scouse git” – Alf Garnet’s son-in-law – in “Till Death Us Do Part”.

  16. Kate Wild says:

    I hate to ask, because I know everyone else got this, and it’s probably so obvious no one bothers to even answer it – but what’s the answer to 2d? I got all the rest, which is good going for me.

  17. Andrew says:

    Kate: 2dn is OUTLET – a double definition (rather a weak clue in my opinion)

  18. Kate Wild says:

    Thanks for that, Andrew.

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