Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 24,519 – Rover

Posted by Uncle Yap on October 14th, 2008

Uncle Yap.

dd = double definition
cd = cryptic definition
rev = reversed or reversal
ins = insertion
cha = charade
ha = hidden answer
*(fodder) = anagram

Today, I had to keep looking above the grid to remind myself that the compiler is Rover and not Rufus. The slick smooth style that we normally associate with Mr Squires is quite evident in most of the clues.

1 REDCAP Simple cha from the red lining on their cap that military policemen wear
5 PLATTERS This is supposed to be a dd but how are platters chargers? (either horses or battery-devices) Never mind, I know either Eileen or Geoff will surely have a logical explanation for this.
9 ATROPINE *(operation minus o)
10 GENTLE Beautiful dd n a well-born person (); a trained falcon; hence a peregrine falcon (masc tercel-gentle; fem falcon-gentle); a soft maggot used as bait in angling.
11 CROSS-BENCHER punny clue
13 SHOE (A Mother Goose song for five toes)
This little pig went to market;
This little pig stayed at home;
This little pig had roast beef;
And this little pig had none;
This little pig said, “Wee, wee, wee!
I can’t find my way home.”

14 OPENINGS *(in sponge)
17 BRUSH-OFF Neat dd which I thought only Rufus knows how to craft
18 UGLY Huge lady minus head
20 BROUGHT ROUND This one didn’t do much for me
23 MURIEL Ins of U in *(miler)
24 NIGHTCAP An amusing dd
25 REHEARSE I really had to reassure myself that the compiler was not Rufus
26 RIDDLE dd

2 EATS dd
3 CROTCHETS Allusion to crotchety being whimsical
4 PRISON Nice one, Rover; a clever dd with Hammersmith’s Wormwood Scrubs being the other one
6 ANGLESEY Angle (fish) + SEY (rev of yes), a Welsh island
7 TUNIC *(cut in)
8 ROLLED GOLD cd and of course you know King Midas with his touch of gold
12 CHARTREUSE *(the car user)
15 INUNDATED In (home) undated (at sometime or other)
16 POTHOLER Another one of those punny clues ala Rufus
19 MUGGER dd; broad-snouted Indian crocodile.
21 UNITE Cha of unit (some soldiers) E (European)
22 HAIL Another good dd hail3 (Chambers)
n (in ball games) a goal; a score.
vt to score (a goal); to put into the goal.

37 Responses to “Guardian 24,519 – Rover”

  1. Octofem says:

    Good morning, Uncle Yap. 5a – a charger is a large plate or platter used to decorate a table, usually placed beneath the soup or dinner plate. I seem to remember that John the Baptist’s head was brought in on a charger, too!

  2. Eileen says:

    5ac: and I’m old enough to remember The Platters, who made ‘old records’, eg ‘Only you’ in 1955!

  3. Uncle Yap says:

    Would you believe it? I looked up platter in Chambers but did not look up charger. charger n a flat dish capable of holding a large joint of meat, a platter; a warhorse; a battery charger. Thanks, Octofem, you are up early today.

  4. Eileen says:

    I enjoyed this puzzle a lot.

    I held myself up with 16dn, having put in MULIER [Latin for ‘woman’!] at 23ac. [and I also had ‘SOCK’ for 13ac until I got to the 12dn anagram.]

  5. Octofem says:

    Snap, Eileen. I had ‘sock’ at first too!

  6. Andrew says:

    Eileen – same here for “mulier”: I knew it as Latin for “woman” but didn’t think I’d ever seen it in English.

    3dn – does crotchety really mean whimsical? I thought it was more like “irritable”.

  7. Eileen says:

    Andrew – once again, thank goodness it’s not just me! I’d never seen it in English, either, but it just came automatically – and fitted so well!

    OED has CROTCHET as ‘a whimsical fancy; a perverse deceit’.

  8. Mort says:

    I found this one unsatisfying over all. Can anyone explain potholer? All I can get is that it’s the only thing that fits with the checks and there are such things as teapots!

    Between clues like 11ac and 25ac and the obscure double defs (22d and 10d seem like attempts to use Azed vocabulary with Tuesday cluing style), I’m not a happy bunny.

  9. Eileen says:

    Mort: for ‘potholer’, I could only think that a ‘holer’ could be ‘one who drops [the golf ball] in’. Not great, I agree.

    As for 10ac: my initial idea was merlin [falcon] because I was confusing it with marlin [fish]!! This seems to be my day for antic solutions.

    I thought 14ac’s anagram was well-hidden.

  10. alanjc says:

    oops Indie i mean

  11. alanjc says:

    in reference to 13ac considering today’s Indie cryptic odd i am trying to say

  12. Testy says:

    In what language?

  13. Geoff Moss says:

    16d Is the linking in this clue perhaps the fact that ‘pot’ and ‘tea’ are both terms for marijuana?

  14. John says:

    I’m with Mort in finding this puzzle extremely irritating.
    3 dn, (dubious link with whimsical), 4 dn (of wormwood?), 16 dn (drops in for tea?),
    10 ac (obscurity/specialist knowledge/affected erudition), 22 dn (still a mystery to me, why Ibrox?), 20 ac (brought round = stir?), 26 ac (riddle = spread throughout?”; “riddled”, it may be argued, is approximate, but riddle used in this way I have never heard).
    All the above were frustrating.
    Today’s comments indicate that solvers are unsure of why they have entered answers. This should not happen.
    Are we all afraid of upsetting our revered setters?
    There are enough effusive compliments for good puzzles. Why not criticism where it is deserved?

  15. Mort says:


    Agree with you totally except for 20ac, which, after much wailing and debate here, we decided to be fair. One can ‘bring round’ someone who is sleeping, i.e. ‘stir’ them.

    All of these frustrating clues were a real shame because 18ac and 15d were both really nice. Getting those early on raised my expectations unduly, I think.

  16. Mort says:

    P.S. I don’t think 20ac is good. If my interpretation is correct, it’s very loose. :)

  17. Geoff Moss says:


    “4 dn (of wormwood?)” can = prison and Wormwood Scrubs is a prison in London

    “22 dn (still a mystery to me, why Ibrox?) hail is a Scottish word for score or goal and Ibrox Stadium (formerly Ibrox Park) is the home ground of Rangers, a football team in Glasgow

    “20 ac (brought round = stir?) as in if you bring someone round who has fainted you cause them to stir

    “26 ac (riddle = spread throughout?)” one COED definition for riddle is fill or permeate with something undesirable.

  18. Geoff Moss says:


    “3 dn, (dubious link with whimsical)” Eileen has already given a justification from OED in comment #7. I would add that in Chambers one of the definitions for crotchet is ‘a whim, or ingenious notion’

    “16 dn (drops in for tea?)” I think the definition is ‘explorer who drops in’. The rest of the clue is unclear to me as well but I did offer a suggestion in comment #13.

  19. Mort says:


    So you get ‘holer’ from ‘for’ then? :P

  20. Geoff Moss says:


    No I don’t! As I said in comment #18 I don’t, as yet, fully understand the clue. I posted the pot/tea/marijuana connection in case it would spark off an idea in someone else.

  21. JimboNWUK says:

    I actually filled in SCRUBS for 4dn as in “Can” meaning ‘dump’ or do away with (a job) which screwed the TL corner for me completely.
    Also, am I the only one that thinks that 5dn was utterly uncryptic? As far as I am concerned it was a straight “tea-time crossword” style definition.
    10ac was too specialist as already stated and 3dn was not my idea of ‘whimsical’.

    Alogether something of a curate’s egg of a puzzle and thatis being generous.


  22. John says:

    Thanks for all the helpful clarifications, but I’m aware from reading the blog that there are “explanations” for all of them,. However my complaint is that many are tenuous, and even in the explanations, the explainers are stretching valiantly to find meanings. I don’t think this should be so.
    E.g. Of course I know that Rangers play at Ibrox Park, but be honest, who else knew that hail is a Scottish word for score without looking it up in some dictionary they happen to have which the rest of us don’t?
    Although I immediately saw the solution to “A can of wormwood?”, it makes no sense as a clue. What does “of wormwood” mean? Is Wormwood a place which things can belong to? No. Wormwood Scrubs is an area of common land which used to be called Wormholt Scrubs, and is now commonly understood to refer to the prison. There is no “wormwood” for the “can” to be “of”.
    I think some bloggers are in awe of the setters to the extent that they find it difficult to criticise them. Look, crossword setters aren’t poets or novelists, and their efforts not poetry or great literature. They’re word games, and, like other puzzles, need to make sense to a majority of the paper’s constituents. Sometimes they don’t. Let’s tell ‘em when this is the case.

  23. Dave Ellison says:

    Yes, a bit of a hotch-potch today.

    4d Shouldn’t wormwood have a capital W? I didn’t like the “of” either.

    22ac Shouldn’t it have a question mark, or a “perhaps”, perhaps?

  24. Dave Ellison says:

    Sorry, 22d not ac.

    I almost always like Rover’s contributions. We all have good and better days in what we do, and I expect crossword compilers are no exception.

  25. muck says:

    I think John has summarised this puzzle with “Today’s comments indicate that solvers are unsure of why they have entered answers. This should not happen.”

    13dn POTHOLER: An ‘Explorer who drops in’ could be a caver, but why ‘for tea’?

  26. John says:

    I usually enjoy the puzzles by all the setters, easy or difficult. But not today. I couldn’t see the “smooth slickness” referred to by Mr Yap at all. So let’s agree it was an off day for Rover.
    Just to sign off, nobody’s mentioned the strange wording of 8 dn, “Plate make by Midas after the revolution”? Do we mean “made”? A Grauniadism perhaps?

  27. muck says:

    Sorry, I meant 16dn POTHOLER

  28. phil says:

    I might be alone in this, but re: 22d, ‘greet’ is Scots for cry or lament, so I went for ‘wail’ as the answer.

  29. Disillusioned says:

    Quite frankly an appalling crossword.

    While I appreciate that obscurity to some is common knowledge to others, I thought that this effort relied rather too heavily on some rather oblique meanings to words in order to generate some difficulty…

    …with the remaining “challenge” being created by several weak, poorly constructed and tenuous clues, such as 4D, 16D and others as outlined above.

    Whilst ranting, I thought I’d mention that I didn’t find the blog entry much better either. I found the whole tone to be dishearteningly deferential, with poor explanations attempted for the weaker clues where a more honest clue appraisal such as “total rubbish” would have been appreciated.

    Poor effort by H Stevenson for letting this tripe through.

  30. Richard says:

    Wormwood is shrub used in vermouth and absinthe. So maybe you could have a can of it?

  31. Gary Howe says:

    >10 ac (obscurity/specialist knowledge/affected erudition),

    I agree. The leaps required to make this pretentious clue make any sense render it absurd.

    To me, a ‘beautiful’ double definition involves using simplicity imagination and craft, not simply finding two (deliberately) irritating onanistic clue references

  32. Paul B says:

    Is the POTHOLER clue an effort to make a joke about dropping in through the hole in the pot (of tea), I wonder.

    I’m not going to lay into poor ole Rover (only because others already have), but when you have 30 messages expressing confusion on a specialist crosswording website, you have to wonder what this puzzle must have been like for the person on the Clapham Omnibus, or Von Bendi-Buss, or whatever it is nowadays. Rough ride with frequent stops, I guess.

  33. John says:

    Thank goodness for Disillusioned and Gary Howe. I thought I was a lone voice.
    On the “deferential” theme, why do we only ever hear from the gods of the setting fraternity when the blog is unctuously complimentary?

  34. Uncle Yap says:

    I enjoy my daily diet of crossword puzzles from all the quality British papers. For a couple of hours, I am entertained and amused and challenged. When I blog, I try to teach any newbies about the wordplay and also to share my joy and fun with other experienced solvers. What I would not like to do is to re-perform what the crossword editor is supposed to have done or to nit-pick a typo or a clue that may not exactly appeal to me. After all, in a set of 30 clues, it is unreasonable to expect each and every one to be a gem and even at that, what is a gem to me may not necessarily be so for another person.

    Enjoying my daily crossword ration is a personal and conscious decision and choice which I really do not need to justify.
    I also believe that adopting such a positive attitude reduces stress and aggravation and makes for a happier person.

  35. Jake says:

    Rover’s one of my favourite crossword setters.

    Much of his clueing is rather cool and straight forward, may-be too straight forward for some,
    but that means theres no nonsense involved in the solving. Just logic. As in 4d.

    ‘can = jail. wormwood, also a jail. = [ prison ].

    Rather nice.

  36. Paul B says:

    Not really, because (a) the surface makes very little sense. Wormwood is a plant yielding a bitter extract (originally employed as a vermifuge) with which absinthe is flavoured, and so the clue – ‘A can of wormwood?’ – visualises a can with a plant in it. I use pots myself.

    And (b) if ‘can’ and ‘wormwood’ (which ought to have been capitalised to be fair under common practice) are both prisons, then the DD is defining the same thing (the general and the particular, but nevertheless) twice. Indeed, that would be too ‘straight forward’ (sic) for some solvers.

    And (c), as already explained above, the ‘of’ suggests an adjectival usage in one part of the DD – and AFAIK we are dealing with nouns.

    But that’s only one clue, and this is just one crossword.

  37. don says:

    I’m pleased that in trying to solve an English language crossword that I wasn’t led astray in 16d by spurious knowledge of a dead European language, of which there is often too much in these crosswords.

    I too thought that Scots ‘greet’ = ‘cry’ and couldn’t decide on ‘wail’ or ‘bawl’, which I suppose has foot-‘bawl’ connections.

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