Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 24426/Arachne – TGIF

Posted by ilancaron on June 27th, 2008


Some tough stuff here that had me using Chambers (not something I like to do on a Friday morning getting ready for work but I tend to have a bit more time). Bit of a disheartening experience discovering I didn’t know what SPINNERET (Arachne spinning her web?), BREADHEADS and CAVATINA meant — nor a couple of unusual meanings for ALSO and GRAM. Good clues though with surfaces that held together nicely. And I feel a barrage of explanations about to descend for all the things I didn’t understand.


1 C(HA,’S,T)ITY – Can’t explain the HA though.
5 SCARAB – hidden in “genuS CARABus” and might be an &lit (is the SCARAB in the CARABUS genus?)
9 MASTODONS – (and so most)*
11 VAL(U)E
12 DISHEARTENED – I think this is a double definition with the first one being cryptic and the other def “down”. However, there might be some wordplay going on that escapes me: e.g. SHEAR,TEN in DIED??
15 LEA[r]N – good misleading surface: def is just “lean”.
16 F,ONT=not*,AN,ELLE – needed Chambers to check that FONTANTELLE is the soft spot on the skull of an infant.
18 THREEPENNY – tough clue: needed all the crossing letters to work this out: vulgar as in “The Threepenny Opera” and it’s an old coin (octagonal I think?).
19 [g]US,ED – not sure about the wordplay: should the clue have been “Employed boys who’re no good?”
21 CAVEAT=vacate*,EMPTOR=(pro tem)*
24 AB,ASH=has*
25 SPINNERET – it’s the part of a spider that knows how to spin (a web). But the rest? “Fly, oddly, only eats part of spider”.
26 STA(I)RS – Pegasus is a constellation, and flight as in flight of STAIRS.
27 STOCKMAN – two meanings.


1 COMB – two meanings
2 ALSO – hidden in “hospitAL SOmetimes” — turns out that Chambers always says ALSO is archaic “item”.
3 T(R)OPIC – ref. TROPIC of Cancer e.g.
4 TOOTHSOMENESS – (one’s smoothest)*
6 CAVA,TINA – had to look this up… yes, it’s a kind of melody.
7 RELENT,LESS – nice charade with a convincing surface.
8 BREAD=(are, bd)*,HEADS – Brit slang for the money obsessed.
10 STARTING, POINT – ref. to start from “scratch” — and I imagine one of the 9000 meanings of POINT is “sting”.
14 LA, TR(A,VI)AT,A – might be an &lit if I knew the plot of LA TRAVIATA but it sounds plausible as is! I think the wordplay is: A,VI (few?) in rev(tart). But I could be wrong.
17 METAPHOR – (map, other)*
20 CO,G,NAC=rev(can=tin) – G for general but… how does pot give us OC or CO?
22 GRAM=rev(marg=margarine) – chickpea (didn’t know this… checked Chambers).

14 Responses to “Guardian 24426/Arachne – TGIF”

  1. Amnesiac says:

    Eagerly awaiting the analysis. This was a wonderful crossword. I was delighted by the very high level of surface readability of the clues and the thumbnail opera plot summary was both accurate and hilarious!

  2. John says:

    12ac: I think “down” is the definition, and if “disheartened” is disheartened the result is “died”.

  3. John says:

    20d: can is a tinpot, and goc is General Officer Commanding.

  4. John says:

    25ac: maybe spinner (fisherman’s lure) is a fly, and “e” and “t” are the only odd letters in “eats”.

  5. Eileen says:

    1ac: I took ‘s as being abbreviation of ‘HAS’, which I thought was rather clever [the clue, I mean1]

  6. David says:

    19a US is an abbreviation of useless: so boy who’s no good is US ED

  7. Andrew says:

    I agree with John about 12ac & 25ac, and with Eileen about 1ac. Certainly some very devious clues here, though also a few easy ones to get a foothold with.

    The old threepenny bit was actually 12-sided – ah, for the days when it was worth something! I used to take a one-stop train journey to school on what is now the Tyne & Wear Metro; the single fare was 3d, but bizarrely there was also an off-peak return for 2d.

  8. Amnesiac says:

    Just a couple of questions:

    7d: How is “not able” (or “not able to be”) “less”?

    23d: Is there a superfluous “w” in the wordplay of this clue, or am I missing something?

    Re 14d, the clue is an accurate (if somewhat abbreviated) summary of the plot of La Traviata.

  9. Andrew says:

    Amnesiac – I was about to agree with you on 23dn, but looking at it again I suppose it’s “Regularly mention” = ETO, plus N=New.

    I do share your puzzlement about 7dn, unless it’s an obscure meaning (I don’t have Chambers to hand to check).

  10. Paul B says:

    I think u/s is probably an abbreviation of ‘unserviceable’.

    The HAS (along with IS and even WAS) for ‘S is a technique as far as I am aware limited to Guardian puzzles.

  11. Shirley says:

    20D GOC is General Officer Commanding
    18A I’m surprised no-one has challenged Ilancaron’s assumption that threepenny is something to do with the opera.
    It’s vulgar because it’s schoolboy slang for tits (threepenny bits)!

  12. Shirley says:

    Amnesiac 23D The answer is Eton. Starting from the “e” of mention it is the alternate letters ending with the N of New College. The W is irrelevant

  13. Amnesiac says:

    5a – just noticed the question. No, as far as I can tell, the Carabus genus is not a genus of any variety of scarab beetle, but it is a beetle genus.

  14. Amnesiac says:

    Shirley – I got the answer, I just felt it was poor wordplay if the alternation produced 5 letters of which the last had to be discarded without explanation. However, I believe Andrew’s suggestion earlier is what was intended as that works correctly.

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