Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 24,456/Orlando

Posted by golgonooza on August 1st, 2008


This was fairly straightforward and enjoyable; I started off racing through it until a few very clever clues and unfamiliar phrases slowed me down. A few of the clues made me smile – always a bonus!


1 SCORSESE SCOR(SES)E the odd letters in ‘specs’ inside a score which is 20. This was the last clue I got! The 20 misled me into referring to the clue for 20dn.

5 RANCID RAN CID – police chief did this in the past tense

9 FIRE ALARM ARAREFILM* – a nice cryptic def here – Warner


12 LOWER REGIONS a cow being a lower then IGNORES* this took me ages to get, not a common phrase for Hell

15 ALLY Ally McBeal – TV show


19 JOHN painter and evangelist


24 IBIZA first letters of ‘in Balearic Islands: zany antics’. But is ‘introduced’ a good indicator for this?


26 GIGUES Hidden baroque dances



2 OKRA OK (up to scratch) + RA


4 STATES GENERAL According to Chambers this is “the representative body of the three orders (nobility, clergy, burghers) of the French kingdom”; says de Gaulle for one = States General. And a diet can be an assembly or parliament. Very hard for me!

6 ARROGATE (H)ARROGATE The spa town without the aspiration or the ‘H’. A very nice clue – last Thursday’s Brendan used a similar trick with the word ‘aspiration’

7 COTTONED ON COTTON = material + NODE (swelling) rev

8 DROPS A LINE DR+OP+SALINE; ‘saline’ for solution made me smile

10 MARKET CROSSES ROCKSTARSSEEM* , a fairly general defiintion for this made it tricky for me


14 FLAT RACING F(L)A+TRACING Learner in starts of fits + and with tracing for discovering. This had me stumped for a while – good clue IMHO

17 SLIP CASE SLIP+CASE ; this was clued simply but again my clearly small vocabulary let me down. Chambers has it as one word; I guess Collins must have it as two.

20 GRAPPA G(RAP)P+A blame is rap in GP

22 DIOR the couturier is reversed within ’embroidered’

28 Responses to “Guardian 24,456/Orlando”

  1. Rob says:

    Agreed on 4d. The “GENERAL” part was clear but it’s not an expression I’ve ever come across.

  2. conradcork says:

    Orlando tends to be underappreciated. Some excellent surfaces and good clueing here.

  3. Tom Hutton says:

    I liked this crossword a lot. It was refreshing to do one which did not need a resort to dictionary or internet to look for obscure words or refrences. This was lucky as I had no access to either. Is it because crossword solving aids are now so common that setters resort to obscure words or is it because they have access to crossword setting aids that they find these obscure words for us to stumble over? … or both?

    I always feel that a weekday crossword should be solvable without recourse to reference materials but then I am getting on a bit.

  4. Paul B says:

    Maybe it’s because “GRIDFILL” runs out of such appallingly bad word lists.

    That was churlish, and I’m sorry, but I couldn’t agree with you more.

  5. John says:

    golgonooza: in 24 ac “introduced” refers to the initial letters of “in Balearic Islands zany antics”.
    Tom echoes my bleat of the other day. I agree that at this level a puzzle should be solvable by an averagely intelligent human being from within his grey matter. Orlando is one of the few who make this possible these days

  6. John says:

    p.s. Badly worded. I meant to say “introduced” is ok i.e. introductions to each word.

  7. Eileen says:

    Yes, John, you’re right – but it did give the grey matter [mine, anyway] a work-out. Fairly straightforward but still satisfying. I enjoyed it 16ac! I liked 4dn [I remembered States General from A Level History] and 13dn was rather sweet. 8dn and 14dn were good, too – and I thought 24ac was ok.

    Nice to see that everyone seems fairly happy today!

  8. golgonooza says:

    With 24ac I’m aware what Orlando intended to do with the word ‘introduced’, but I just think it doesn’t quite work as meaning ‘introductions to’. Possibly being pedantic.

  9. agentzero says:

    Tom,I wholeheartedly agree with your sentiment. I think a puzzle is most impressive when the setter is able to clue a grid of relatively common words in creative and unexpected ways. Use of obscure words makes it easier for the setter, IMHO.

    This puzzle had some very good misdirection. I spent some time looking for a Warner Bros. movie title that would fit in 9a before the penny dropped.

  10. mark says:

    Two queries

    3D – Why does “mere” appearance = SHADOW. What does the “mere” do…other than confuse me.

    12A – Is Lower Region common then for hell? Never heard of it.


  11. aferick says:

    I agree with Mark. How does SHADOW = Mere? Walking away from me? But I try tosolve in the morning!

  12. Eileen says:

    ‘Mere shadow’ [of one’s former self, eg] is a fairly common expression, I think. ‘Appearance’ by itself would have surely raised some objections?

    Hell is more commonly, I suppose, described as ‘nether regions’ – but that’s close enough, I reckon.

    Seems I spoke too soon in saying people were generally happy today!

  13. mark says:

    Only asking Eileen!

    Mmmm. I get the mere shadow…of one’s former self etc. Seems a strange way of indicating it though. Would never have got it but thanks.

    “close enough” (ref 12A) isn’t very satisfactory. But if everyone else got it I’ll have to chalk it up to experience.

  14. Orlando says:

    Chambers Dictionary gives as one of the definitions of shadow: “a mere appearance”. As Eileen has pointed out, usages such as “a shadow of his former self” are not uncommon.

    Chambers also has an entry for “lower regions”, defined as “n pl Hades, hell”.

    I know Chambers is not infallible, but is not rather unfair for a compiler to be criticised for using it as a guide to what is acceptable?

  15. aferick says:

    Eileen: Fair enough. But Mere is a lake. It’s a boundary, a town in Cheshire and Wiltshire and in Belgium. It’s a Maori war club and it means “solely” or “by no means”. In what sense does “appearance” give you “of one’s former self”? I apologise. It’s late. What am I doing? Time for a glass of wine, perhaps. I did enjoy it, though.

  16. Eileen says:

    Aferick: I agree entirely: in crosswords, ‘mere’ is 99% of the time a lake. [Thanks for all the other definitions!] ‘Mere shadow’ is quite a common expression – and I just added ‘of one’s former self’ as an example, not suggesting any connection between ‘appearance’ and ‘of one’s former self’. Perhaps I’ve had one glass of wine too many. It is Friday! 😉

    And it really was a good puzzle!

  17. aferick says:

    Eileen: Ti saluto! Have a good one.

  18. Eileen says:

    Aferick: Grazie – e Buona notte a tutti.

  19. mark says:


    Does chambers give different definitions for query and criticise?

  20. thiefinni says:

    27 ASTAIRES ????

  21. Will says:

    I may be a bit thick, but is “Market Crosses” well known? And just because a defintion is in Chambers it doesn’t necessarily mean it is a well-known one. Are we all meant to have a copy of Chambers on our person while solving?

  22. Will says:

    Sorry, “definition”.

  23. John says:

    Fred and Adele Astaire. You know, he who ca’t act, can’t sing, dances a bit!

  24. golgonooza says:

    I think some of the comments here have become a bit nitpicky – I myself am guilty of it a bit too; in general though it is ridiculous to criticise a crossword because we’ve never heard of a word or phrase – to me that seems very narrow-minded. Part of the joy of crosswords is broadening your vocabulary surely? People should have a look at dictionary definitions before they criticise a clue. Clearly compilers of crosswords do look on here for feedback, and it is worth bearing that in mind before we comment. I’d personally like to say thank you to the compilers for what they produce – I know I couldn’t do anything like as well as them!

  25. Ian Stark says:

    First time posting here, hello to all.

    I absolutely concur with Golgonooza’s sentiments (if I am allowed to, this being my first time here). I have no idea when I will ever use the word ‘gigues’ in daily conversation, but at least I have the satisfaction of having learnt a new term.

    I had a busy day yesterday (busy as a newt) so only came to this crossword this morning. I thought it was a cracker, as I always expect from Orlando, but I am embarrassed to say I stumbled on ‘Dior’ and I went for ‘abrogate’ thinking it was the only word that would fit (but not fully understanding why)! Shame on me! You’ll be pleased to know I had already discounted ‘alrighty’!

    Orlando stretches me, but no so far that I suffer the embarrassment of leaving a busy carriage with only three answers in the grid.

    While I derive some pleasure in occasionally completing within twenty minutes (mainly for bragging rights, I confess), I do also feel a little let down and want something more. For me, therefore, the news that the online crossword will soon be free is good news indeed. Nothing beats the satisfaction of completing The Guardian at the bar or on a train, but for those odd days where I feel the urge (and have the time) to work on a second puzzle it will be a welcomed resource.

    Finally, a question – what are ‘surfaces’ as mentioned by Conradcork. I’m not really familir with the names of the components of a crossword. Is there a glossary anywhere?

  26. David says:

    Hi, Ian.
    You might find this helpful:

  27. golgonooza says:

    Hi Ian,

    I’m glad someone else is of the same mind! Surface readings are what the clue appears to mean, as the link provided by David will tell you. I would also recommend Don Manley’s crossword manual if you want to know all sorts of technical bits and bobs!

  28. Ian Stark says:

    David & Golgonooza- many thanks to you both.

    Fascinating list, and I will certainly check out Don Manley’s book. Here’s a link to it n Amazon if that’s of use to anyone:

    Bet it wouldn’t help me with Mephisto, though! I rarely understand the answers, let alone how they are derived!

Leave a Reply

Don't forget to scroll down to the Captcha before you click 'Submit Comment'

XHTML: You can use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

− 2 = five