Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 24510/Arachne

Posted by mhl on October 3rd, 2008


Is is just me being dense, or was this rather difficult today? I could do with some help with explaining 18d (HACKSAW). That said, there are lots of marvellous surface readings here (too many to pick out any particular favourites) that made it very enjoyable, albeit time-consuming.

I think part of the reason I had trouble was from some slightly unusual devices being used: e.g. some rarely used abbreviations (“the same” for DO, “leaves” for FF, “rod” for R, etc.) and apostrophe-S being used in some of the subsidiary parts.

1 SADIST: Hidden answer
4 STUPID: DI PUTS reversed
10 CORDILLERA: CORD = “Guy” (as in “rope”) + ILL + ERA; a long range of montains
11 STONER: Double definition
12 MISBEGOT: B in (EGOTISM)* (B for “boy” is one of those indicators that is in most crossword abbreviation lists, but I find slightly frustrating since I don’t remember ever having seen it used in real life, except perhaps in O.B. for “old boy”. It’s not in the current edition of Chambers or Collins either.)
13 MAJOR DOMO: MAJOR = “former Prime Minster” + DO = “ditto” or “the same” + MO = “modus operandi” or “way of working”
15 STYE: (‘S YET)* – one of the most clued words in the Guardian crossword
16 CUFF: CU = “copper”, and then FF = “leaves”. “ff” is an an abbreviation for “folios”
21 BLOOMERS: A bloomer can be a blunder or “boob”, and nigella is a type of flower. (I thought the capitalization was unfairly misleading here, but Nigella is the genus as well as a species – conventionally one capitalizes the former but not the latter.)

22 CREDOS: “Work” is the anagrind, so it’s (SCORED)*. (Chambers confirms that a credo can be a musical setting of one of the creeds.)
24 HUMOURLESS: Double definition; the latter refers to either black bile or yellow bile being the two of the four humours.
25 ECHT: alternate letters in bEaCh HuTs
26 EGRETS: Egrets are waders. Presumably the subsidiary is REGRETS (“is sorry about”) losing “r” as an abbreviation for rod. (This abbreviation is in Collins but not Chambers.)
1 SWEET F A: “Sweet Fanny Adams” means “absolutely nothing”. The rest is ‘S + WEE = “insignificant” + A FT = “Financial times” reversed (“on the contrary”).
2 DROWN: “Lord Owen once” is DR OWEN losing a direction (“E”); the definition is “flood” as a verb
3 SECURED: CUR = “dog” in SEED = “young” as in one’s young or offspring
5 THIRST: T = “Saatchi’s core” + HIRST. Nice having the Saatchi / Hirst link, though it makes the surface a little strained
6 POLYESTER: LYE = “alkaline solution” in POSTER = “bill”. The definition is “synthetic” as in “a synthetic”.
7 DARIOLE: (OR DELIA)* A tough clue in many ways. It’s an &lit., since Rick Stein or Delia Smith might indeed use a dariole. “Rick” is the anagrind, either nounal as “a heap” (e.g. of hay) or verbal as in “to heap up” (e.g. into a haystack), I think. Thanks to Michael who points out in the comments that “rick” is an alternative spelling of “wrick”, meaning “to twist”.
8 PRIME MINISTER: Another Young British Artist reference here: PRIM + EMIN + (TRIES)*. “Eden?” is Anthony Eden
14 OFF COLOUR: “Ill” is the definition, and the rest is OF + F + COLOUR = “bias”, as in to colour one’s view of something
16 CULTURE: CULT = “Fashionable” + URE = “pop star” (Midge Ure)
18 HACKSAW: I’m a bit stumped by this one. How about HACKS = “tries cutting” with “top off” meaning to reverse W A “with a”? Or is it “a wide-” for AW, with “tries” being <something>HACKS, with “cutting top off” removing <something>? Thanks to Geoff for explaining this one in the comments: it’s (W)HACKS + A W (“a wide”) with the definition part being “bladed tool”
19 TROCHEE: “Doctor” is an anagrind for (C[HECKED] HER TOE)* – a trochee is a foot in poetry (DAH-dah)
20 WET ROT: WE = “The Speaker et al” + TROT = “revolutionary”. “supresses” just indicates “goes on top of” here.
23 EVENT: Hidden answer

18 Responses to “Guardian 24510/Arachne”

  1. Geoff Moss says:

    18d whack = attempt = try so:

    [w]HACKS A W (wide), definition ‘bladed tool’

  2. mhl says:

    Ah, of course. Thanks, I’ve updated the post.

  3. Eileen says:

    Thanks for a great blog, Mhl – I thought it was quite hard, too, but enjoyable, as you say.

    It was, indeed, unusual to have ‘apostrophe s’ twice in the same puzzle; I didn’t spot it in 1dn, although I did get the answer, because it wasn’t nearly so obviously part of the answer as in 15ac, which I thought was good – and a welcome change from any mention of ‘eyesore’!

    I had no objection at all to 21ac, which I thought was very cleverly linked to the previous clue and to the chefs in 7dn. We often get ‘Bill’ for ‘ac’ and ‘Bob’ for ‘shilling’.

  4. Eileen says:

    Sorry, I meant ‘Bob’ for ‘s’.

  5. mhl says:

    Sure, I suppose I was really mentioning it because the species / genus thing interested me. :)

    The capitalization issue is one of those Ximenean strictures that I’m not sure that I really care about anyway. It’s certainly a blessing in the Azed to know exactly what the rules are, but that’s largely because the crossword would be completely insoluble for me if it weren’t for the strictness – in other words you can often be confident about the construction of a clue, invent a word that might exist and then find that your invention tuns out to be an obscure alternative spelling in the dictionary. The liberties sometimes taken in the Guardian rarely make it a lot more difficult to solve the clues, in my admittedly limited experience. (Although the are always occasional horrendous exceptions, such as “Bird found in an electric oven?” the other day…)

  6. Michael says:

    Chambers has “rick” under wrick for the anagrind in 7d. I was stumped on many of these.

  7. John says:

    A few too many loose clues for my liking.

    When did “cult” become an adjective?
    Isn’t monstrous a bit strong for “misbegot”, which is rarely, if ever, used anyway, “misbegotten” being the accepted form. In either case I’m struggling to equate the word with monstrous. Is a child born out of wedlock a monster?
    And who has ever called a drug addict a “stoner”?

    On the other hand I liked “swathe”, “major domo”, “cuff”.

  8. mhl says:

    Michael, thanks for pointing that out – I’ve added it to the post.

  9. Shirley says:

    16AC Sergeant Cuff was the detective in “The Moonstone” Is this a double definition of copper?

  10. Tom Hutton says:

    Stoner is a common term for one consistently using pot.

  11. Tom Hutton says:

    I thought that “hacks” by itself might mean to try and cut the top of something. I don’t see that “whacks” is to try to cut. To me whack just mean to hit and not cut. …and what was the “…or” doing at the start of 21ac?

    I agree with mhl on the abbreviations. Sometimes it seems that almost any word can be used for a handy abbreviation.

  12. Andrew says:

    Tom – Whacks=Tries, so “Whacks cutting top off” is HACKS, which is then followed by A W(ide) to give a “bladed tool”. I don’t like the hyphen-abuse, but apart from that it seems sound. (And W=wide is a standard abbreviation in cricket.)

    John – “Cult” is often used as an adjective (supported by Chambers, which defines it as “very fashionable”) in expressions such as “cult film”. C also gives “monstrous” as a definition of misbegot(ten).

  13. Will says:

    Well, I found that very difficult. But I finished it in the end. Which hasn’t yet happened to today’s Times.

  14. bridgesong says:

    I’m another who found it difficult, and didn’t finish it before I got home this evening.

    I thought both 1 ac and 23 down were well hidden, but I wasn’t entirely happy about “The Speaker et al” to mean “we” in 20 down. Is there a reference I’m missing?

  15. mark says:

    totally agree with you Bridgesong

  16. John says:

    I believe “the Speaker et al” is ok. A person speaking about him/herself (not the Speaker of the House, the capital is there to mislead) and others, would use the pronoun “we”.
    Thanks for “stoner” Andrew. We evidently move in different circles.
    Still not happy about “cult” as an adj. Cult figure, film, following, what have you, to me is a kind of double noun, as e.g. group member.

  17. don says:

    A misbegot major nono crossword set by a stupid humourless sadist with a thirst for unecht definitions that did sweet f. a. for me. This hacksawed wrick of a ‘near ache’ should be secured by being drown in a life-sized dariole with quick-setting polyester or the speaker et al., Tom, Dick and Harry, me and my mate and my mother and father (i.e. we) should hope he becomes an anchorite and ‘My husband and I’ (i.e. we) should veto any further contributions. Perhaps I’m just off colour, but I’d be the first stoner, given half a chance.

  18. Duncan says:

    Ignorant of Nigella the genus, having worked out the answer, I accepted that Nigella the chef might equally well bake bloomers (a type of loaf)

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