Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 24,552 – Gordius

Posted by Ciaran McNulty on November 21st, 2008

Ciaran McNulty.

Quite easy for a friday, I thought.  Straightforward and well constructed, with a lot of anagrams.

* = anagram
dd = double definition
cd = cryptic definition


7. LADIES MAN. ASEMILAND*. Never sure if there’s an apostrophe in that phrase, or if so where.
8. CORNS. SCORN with the start letter moved to the end.
9. BOOK OF JOB. dd. Book of the Bible.
10. LEVER. dd. A control, and William Hesketh Lever (or maybe his brother James) as in Lever Brothers.
13. UNIVERSE. INREVUES*.  The online edition had an oddly placed hyphen in the clue but I suspect it’s just a holdover from the print version.
15. THE REST. THERE’S + T.  I don’t like definitionless clues like this that rely on ellipses.
20. FACE PACK. dd
22. REPUTE. REP + UTE.  A ute is aussie slang for a utility vehicle.
24. NYMPH. NYM + P.H. Nym was a ‘follower of Falstaff’ in The Merry Wives of Windsor.
25. STILL ROOM. dd.  A still room is a room for storing liquor.


2. SICKNESS. cd.
3. USEFUL. UFUELS*. Presumably ‘smart’ is U?
4. BAROQUE. BAR(O)QUE. A barque is a type of boat.
6. INVERSE. IN VERSE.  Presumably popeye was depicted in songs.
11. NIGH. NIGH(t)
16. REAP. fi REAP pliances.
18. REPORTER. TERROR* around E.P.
19. SKETCHY. SK(ETCH)Y. Clue seems to be missing an ‘in’ or ‘about’.
22. RELICT. (e)LECTRI*(c).
23. THOMAS. MATHSO*. Thomas More.

40 Responses to “Guardian 24,552 – Gordius”

  1. smutchin says:

    Surely the definition in 15ac is “what’s left”?

    6dn is referring to how Pope depicted things (“much of 5″ not “5”)

    I found this an enjoyable puzzle with some cleverly misleading cryptic definitions, though overall yes, it was a relatively easy one, even for me. I particularly liked 8ac, 25ac and 23dn.

  2. smutchin says:

    Just realised that in 15ac you take away “some” and “one” (I) to get “the rest”. If that’s deliberate, it’s clever.

  3. Eileen says:

    Hi Ciaran

    19dn: I read it as ETCH ‘in the SKY’ = up above, as you seem to have read it. Do we need ‘in’ or ‘about’? [My problem was that I didn’t know that ‘etch’ could mean ‘score with a sharp implement’ as well as to make a design by wearing away a metal by the use of acid.]

    22dn: I remember, as a child, being appalled by seeing a woman described on a tombstone as ‘relict of the above’!

  4. Eileen says:

    PS: it’s ‘LADIES’ MAN’

  5. beermagnet says:

    19D I wondered about SK(ETCH)Y but resolved it in my mind as “up”=SKY and “above” as “over” for the container ind.

    This grid is one of those where the 4 corners are almost mini-crosswords in their own right, and I had trouble with the Top-Right – particularly thinking that the whole answer to 5D was going to be a poet because of the ref. in 6D, and having REVERSE written in for that! Thank goodness the blog makes it all sensible. Ta.

  6. don says:

    5D Brilliant!

  7. JamieC says:

    Smutchin: I think 17a (not 15 actually!) is just a hidden answer.

    The rogue hyphen in the online version of 13a was extremely annoying. I assumed it was deliberate and got completely stuck.

  8. mhl says:

    Like Beermagnet, I had most trouble with the top right corner. (The only weak clue, I thought, was in this corner – the one for CORNS.)

    My favourite answers were BOOK OF JOB and BAROQUE. (There was a very similar clue for BAROQUE from Paul in March, incidentally: “Love to board ship in a certain style”.)

    I liked the ellipsis-joined clues – I read the latter one as Smutchin did, with “what’s left” being the definition.

  9. mhl says:

    JamieC: I don’t think there’s any indicator in 17a to suggest the hidden answer reading. “so” is unnecessary, except to join on from 15a, and then it’s: THERE’S + T (subsidiary) “for” (link-word) “what’s left” (definition).

  10. mhl says:

    Can anyone suggest anything further about how Popeye might have been depicted in verses?

  11. smutchin says:

    Mhl, the lack of an indicator is what made me think you’re supposed to read it as “take some away, and then take another one away, and you’ll get what’s left”.

    The ellipsis is purely for surface and “what’s left” is the definition, I’m sure.

  12. smutchin says:

    It’s Pope (“much of 5″) who depicted things in verse.

  13. beermagnet says:

    Mhl, from Smutchin’s Comment #1 : “much of 5″ indicates POPE rather than POPEYE – till I read that I too thought that maybe the original Popeye story must have been in verse form.

  14. beermagnet says:

    Repeat 10 times: Refresh screen before sending comment …

  15. mhl says:

    Sorry, Smutchin – I read your first comment too quickly and missed that it was “Pope” not “Popeye”. Thanks for that.

    I don’t see where you get the “take some away” or “take another one away” from. I suppose we’ll have to agree to disagree, but I’m pretty sure that what I said in comment #9 is sound. (And what I said there does emphatically agree with the second part of what you said, anyway, namely: ‘The ellipsis is purely for surface and “what’s left” is the definition, I’m sure.’)

    In 3d, I think “smart” is meant to indicate U as in the “smart set”.

  16. smutchin says:

    Mhl, sorry for the confusion, I meant to add to your comment #9 (which I agree is sound) rather than contradict it, with a possible explanation for the lack of a container indicator in the clue. My thinking being that the “take some away” is implicit in “for what’s left”. Perhaps not an entirely satisfactory explanation, but it’s the best I can come up with!

  17. smutchin says:

    To explain further, in case it’s not clear: the phrase “so there’s time” comprises “the rest” followed by “i” [one], the lot inserted into “some”. It’s a bit convoluted…

  18. Paul B says:

    Chambers says you can have LADY’S MAN too! Hoorah.

  19. Geoff Anderson says:

    17ac – I hate to be a spoiler of intricately devised explanations, but the fact is that I’ve seen ‘for’ used quite often (especially by Arry, because I remember thinking how he loves to push the boundaries) as an indicator of a hidden answer. I can JUST about see the logic of it.

  20. nick jones says:

    my first time on here, but isn’t the hyphen in 13ac so that you get ‘misrep’ and ‘in revue’ in the same sentence just for fun (made me smile anyway).

  21. stiofain_x says:

    all over i think this was much easier than the usual gordian knots but after checking the blog and on a reread of some clues there were more subtleties than at first appeared
    i think 6 down could refer to both pope or the popeye theme tune

    I’m Popeye the Sailor Man,
    I’m Popeye the Sailor Man.
    I’m strong to the finich
    Cause I eats me spinach.
    I’m Popeye the Sailor Man.

    I’m one tough Gazookus
    Which hates all Palookas
    Wot ain’t on the up and square.
    I biffs ’em and buffs ’em
    And always out roughs ’em
    But none of ’em gets nowhere.

    If anyone dares to risk my “Fisk”,
    It’s “Boff” an’ it’s “Wham” un’erstan’?
    So keep “Good Be-hav-or”
    That’s your one life saver
    With Popeye the Sailor Man.

    I’m Popeye the Sailor Man,
    I’m Popeye the Sailor Man.
    I’m strong to the finich
    Cause I eats me spinach.
    I’m Popeye the Sailor Man.

  22. JamieC says:

    Looking at the clue again, I think Mhl must be right about 17a: it’s simply THERE’S + T and the “so” is redundant (which isn’t ideal).

    Smutchin: I can see that THEREST is surrounded by I in SOME, but I can’t see what in the clue would indicate that you get the answer by removing I and SOME, or have I misunderstood what you were saying?

  23. John says:

    16 ac. Is everyone happy about “PROportion”, rather than portion of? Are they tne same thing?
    And can someone explain “spirited company” in 25 ac? Ciaran, you have it as a dd. Company which manufactures spirits perhaps? Seems rather unsatisfactory to me.

  24. Paul W says:

    I found this a difficult crossword and incorrectly solved two clues:

    5dn GOETHE was the only poet I could think of with check letters ?O???E. Out of desperation I put in STEER for 10ac, hoping that the answer had something to do with sodium stearate.

    Quite happy with STILL ROOM –

  25. mhl says:

    John, I read 25a as a cryptic definition myself. (I had the wrong kind of spirits at first, assuming it was GHOST TOWN.)

  26. Rich says:

    iJust as I though I was getting the hang of ways to solve clues this crossword comes up.

    Could someone tell me why we get U for ’smart’ in smart fuels? also I take it that “could be” denotes an anagram.

    Also why is there an added YE at the end of POPE for popeye?

    I am sure this can only help me in future crosswords.

  27. Ciaran McNulty says:

    John – I read it as a place for spirited company.

    Rich – the YE is ‘the ancient’, as in an old word for ‘the’.

  28. Rich says:

    ah i see now, it was the quote marks that threw me, I didnt know what to do with them :)

  29. mhl says:

    Geoff Anderson: I didn’t remember having seen this before, but checking back a bit I’ve found (as you say) lots of examples of Araucaria using “for” as a hidden answer indicator, but it always seems to be as:


    … rather than the other way round, as here. Is the idea that “for” means “contribute to” in this usage?

    A couple of examples from Araucaria: “Ideal spot for the dentist (4)” (Guardian 23813), “Metal for jazz in concert (4)” (Guaridan 23705).

    Anyway, since this is the wrong way round, and I haven’t found a usage from Gordius of “for” as a hidden answer indicator I’ll stick to my interpretation :)

  30. mhl says:

    Rich: to expand a bit on why U might be “smart” – U is often clued by “posh” or “upper-class” in the sense of certain English words and phrases being U or non-U, the idea being made famous by Nancy Mitford including Alan S. C. Ross’s essay on the subject in Noblesse Oblige.

    I think the idea here is that “smart” can mean “posh” – in fact, someone’s suggested to me that “smart” is the U word for “posh”. :) However, as far as I can tell this is only used nowadays in the expression “smart set”, which wordnet defines as “society: the fashionable elite” and Collins as “fashionable sophisticated people considered as a group” – not quite the same as “U”, in my opinion. So, I’m not really convinced by this, but no one has suggested anything more convincing here yet… :)

  31. mhl says:

    In fact, in that essay it defines the non-U term “posh” with:

    Posh ‘smart’ is essentially non-U but, recently, it has gained ground among schoolboys of all classes”

    So, I think that provides completely canonical support for “smart” for U! (Apologies to Gordius for doubting…)

  32. stiofain_x says:

    the quotation marks in 5dn are (imho) one of the best examples of misdirection i have seen lately making you think that the ans is related to the famous poem “the rime (sic) of the ancient mariner” by samuel taylor coleridge
    commas, dashes, full stops and a variety of other devices are used in this way too

  33. stiofain_x says:

    couple of nice araucaria classics there

  34. Dave Ellison says:

    A nice Grauniad, Mhl!

  35. Paul B says:

    ‘For’ is one of those words that can mean just about whatever you want it to, with 26 subheads in Collins (not in any sense the most detailed of refs). And I’m sure compilers could argue that in the sense ‘over a span of’ there is no logical reason why it shouldn’t indicate a hidden word. But due to its ultra-frequent use as a simple link word (as in e.g. ‘get X for Y+Z’), how we are to differentiate is the problem.

    Having been clever and spotted it, I’m not exactly sure how satisfied I’d feel. Poor me.

  36. Geoff Anderson says:

    Can I make a more general point arising from the ‘for’ debate? Maybe wizened, wily compilers like Arry reckon we should have to work a bit to find the one or two ‘hidden’ answers in every grid, since they are frankly too easy once one has spotted the indicator.

  37. KG says:

    22ac – “A ute is aussie slang …” Surely this should be an ute. Or would that be an eft? :)

  38. Paul B says:

    And who might Arry be? You’ve mentioned the name twice as if it were a well-known pseudonym – not to me, I regret to announce.

    As to hidden words, I was told early on (by those who taught me everything I know, but not everything they themselves know) to consider them not only an opportunity to shine with a really decent indicator, but also as the perfect chance to let solvers in, especially in the case of a generally tough puzzle. But, even if times have changed to the extent Geoff suggests, ‘for’ as a hidden indicator is more than just ‘difficult’ – it’s downright unrecognisable, and that shurely can’t be fair.

  39. stiofain_x says:

    are u daring to call our sainted araucaria the diminutive “arry”?
    if so you should at least post a clue establishing this nickname

    cockney hassle disrespects the king of pearls (4)


  40. Geoff Anderson says:

    stiofain got it without an indicator!

    Nicknames are generally a sign of affection. I love the monkey puzzler dearly. All in our family refer to him as Arry, mainly because we’ve always struggled to pronounce his name – Owrickairia … Arrowkeeria, and so on. Sad, but true.

    I like your clue because it links cockney with Pearly Kings and Queens and also because it suggests we’re all unworthy swine, which is true! My clue would be:

    Prince of the grid can’t be topped – but he is! (4)

    which has a slight Araucarian cheekiness about it.

    I’m afraid Arry’s just beginning to lose it though, in his advancing years. I believe clues should spark a tiny picture in one’s mind that is whole; they should say something, however brief, that makes sense – even if it’s a crazy crossword-ese sense, if you know what I mean. But so often now the reverend’s clues are a meaningless string of clue parts without an overall picture being drawn. I don’t mean an overall picture of the answer. I’m drivelling (not unusual) without examples, so next time I see one (by him or anybody else) I’ll submit it for comment.

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>

× six = 18