Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 24558 / Chifonie

Posted by mhl on November 28th, 2008


I normally find Chifonie very difficult, so I was pleased to get through about half today’s puzzle very fast – the rest of the clues (mostly in the bottom half) took quite a bit longer though… There are lots of very enjoyable clues here. [Links to the puzzle as: HTML, PDF and Java applet]

9. SERUM S(outh) E(ast) = “directions” + RUM = “suspect” (as an adjective)
10. MARGARINE The fish is a GAR, inside MARINE
12. EXTRA Yet another inventive clue for the Most Clued Word: EX = “old” + ART reversed
13. ARGUE R = “king” in AGUE
15. ABANDONED DONE = “ended” in A BAND
18. ON THE MEND ON = “working” + THEM = “those people” + END = “purpose”
19. NAKED (DANE)* around K. I think I’ve only come across the “unarmed” meaning of “naked” in The Big Lebowski…
21. PRANG PANG around R = “rare”. The abbreviation R for “rare” is in Collins but not in Chambers. Out of interest, does anyone know in what contexts this abbreviation is used?
23. KNOWLEDGE K = “Kay” + NOW + LEDGE. “kay” for the letter K is in Chambers, although uncapitalized, which may bother some…
25. STONEWALL ONE W = “a week” in STALL = “stable”
26. SNAIL S = “Bob” (shilling) + “Brad” = NAIL to give Brian the Snail from The Magic Roundabout. (According to Chambers, a brad is “a small tapering nail with a side projection instead of a head”, from which we get the word bradawl, which it turns out I’ve been misspelling for some years.)
27. RATINGS Double definition
28. SPRAYER S = “Son” + PRAYER
1. LA SCALA A lovely &lit, I think: (CALLAS)* + A (last letter in “Norma”). Perhaps someone who knows more about Maria Callas could say whether her last performance as Norma was at La Scala?
2. VERY LIGHT Double deafintion: a Very light is a flare fired from a Very pistol
3. REMIT TIMER reversed
4. TERMPERATE Chambers gives “a rage” as a meaning for PADDY, so this is TEMPER + ATE
5. MERIT MET around RI (U.S. postal abbreviation for “Rhode Island”)
6. CLARENDON An excellent but difficult clue: CLARE = “Girl” + N = “new” + DON = “fellow” (in the academic sense) to give “a certain type” or typeface = Clarendon. It’s good to know the proper name of the “Starbucks font” :)
7. EDICT C = Conservative or “Tory” in EDIT = “rewrite”
8. EMERALD (DEALER)* around M = “minute”
14. EVERGREEN Double definition? “type of shrub” is clear, but the first part is more difficult – I think it’s probably “Standard” as in “established” (or “ongoing”) to match with that sense of the answer. There seem to be a few meanings of “standard” in the dictionary which is are types of tree or shrub, but I don’t see that any of them are particularly evergreens. To quote Eileen’s comment below: “Collins has “standard: a song or a piece of music that has remained popular for many years”. That’s the way I took it – such songs are often referred to as ‘evergreens’.”
16. ANDROCLES (DON CLEARS)* for a “lion tamer”. I don’t know if this is a common confusion, but I was convinced that the story of the man removing a thorn from the lion’s paw was about Daniel from the Old Testament, presumably from the common theme of lions. It’s good to be corrected, even if I failed to get this clue as a result…
17. NAKED LADY Double definition: I hadn’t heard of the plant before but it’s guessable from the clue. It’s a bit of a shame that there are two NAKEDs crossing here…
18. OPPOSER OP = “work” + POSER = “dilemma”
20. DWELLER D + WELLER. A difficult clue, given the number of possible Dickens characters – Samuel Weller is in The Pickwick Papers
22. ABOUT A = “first class” + BOUT = “match”
23. KEATS K + EATS (as in “eats at”, I suppose)
24. LASER Initial letters of “look at special electronic records”; not quite an &lit but a very nice clue

18 Responses to “Guardian 24558 / Chifonie”

  1. Ian Hinds says:

    A real mindbender.

    The top half definitely easier.

    I struggled with 27a after inserting ‘opposal’ for 18d.

    23a dodgy to say the least, I think.

  2. Eileen says:

    Thanks, Mhl. I slowed up a bit on the bottom half, too.

    14dn: Collins has “standard: a song or a piece of music that has remained popular for many years”. That’s the way I took it – such songs are often referred to as ‘evergreens’.

  3. Tom Hutton says:

    Quite right, Eileen.

    A very enjoyable crossword and surprisingly easy to solve considering the tangential references in some clues (c=Tory and the evergreen clue).

  4. don says:

    The S in LASER suggested ‘how’ the answer to 26Ac should be solved, but I didn’t know ‘brad’ = ‘nail’ (until I later looked it up) and was trying to think of a personality called Brad. Then, with delight, I remembered Brian and all the other characters on the ‘Magic Roundabout’ and a grey day didn’t seem so sombre.

  5. Dawn says:

    Yes, I found the bottom left was fairly difficult to crack. 27ac Ratings was the last to go in and yet it seemed so obvious once I’d got it.

    A nice puzzle though. I’m a big fan of Androcles because it is one story I did at school that still comes in useful!

  6. mhl says:

    Thanks, Eileen – I’ve updated the post with your explanation.

    Don: indeed, the Magic Roundabout reference did the same for me :)

  7. don says:

    Ian, I wondered about 23 Ac but if you have a ‘knowledge’ of maths or Italian, say, then you also have a ‘grasp’ of them.

  8. Trench Adviser says:

    Completed before the blog was published – a great achievement for me. I thought of ‘evergreen’ as when you describe someone as an evergreen performer, i.e. popular for many years. Bruce Forsyth, say. The last clue I got was SNAIL, which took me a long time to get. One of my older work colleagues helped with the Magic Roundabout reference, which I did actually know, even having not seen a full episode. As for ‘r’ = rare – no idea.

  9. Eileen says:

    Don; I don’t know whether Ian was more worried about the Kay than the definition, which seems straightforward enough.

    Mhl: as far as I can find out from Google, Callas’ last ‘Norma’ [which I mentioned only yesterday as being beloved of setters] was not at La Scala – but that doesn’t spoil an excellent &lit clue. That would just have been the icing on the cake.

    No luck with the context of R = rare, either. [I can imagine myself having used it when a waitress in my student days on a steak order to the chef.]

    I enjoyed this puzzle – apart from the naked over-exposure, particularly as the two answers crossed. I loved 26ac.

    23dn: I took this as eats as in ‘What’s eating you?’

  10. Eileen says:

    PS re 26ac: I forgot to say I did spend a minute or two wondering who Brian Spitt was…

  11. Phaedrus says:

    One of the most famous and beautiful games of chess ever played was by Anderssen in 1852 – you can play it back to yourself here (

    Because of its enduring quality, it has been dubbed his “Evergreen Game”

    I was so happy to be reminded of this by the puzzle today; I dont think Ive looked at it for 20 years.

  12. John says:

    Are there any rules for single letter abbreviations? I find their indiscriminate use by some setters irritating.
    The “s” in “Son’s” in 28 ac seems to me to be superfluous and only there to make the surface readable. Clumsy. Perhaps “second” would have been better.

  13. John says:

    Didn’t Sam Weller stutter?

  14. Roger Murray says:

    Blasted through this only to get stuck on 27a as I had put Ajoin(for reasons only known to myself)for 22d, enjoyable puzzle despite my stupidity!

  15. Dave Ellison says:

    Usually I start the Xword on the bus to work in the mornings. Today, exceptionally (putting out controls most of the day for an orienteering event), I started at 5pm and breezed through it, though with a slow down B-L; there must be a lesson for me here.

    My mother used “paddy” for “temper”, a common word around my home area (N Lancashire)

  16. Barnaby says:

    R for rare appears to be a term in philately – see My understanding of it is that R indicates “somewhat rare”, RR “definitely rare”, RRR “super-rare” – though I agree with Eileen that it would be more amusing to apply it to steaks.

  17. Ralph G says:

    RRE is used for ‘rare earth elements’ but I don’t suppose many of us read the Journal of Petroleum Geology.

  18. Ralph G says:

    19a NAKED=unarmed. Perhaps what Nye Bevan had in mind at the 1957 Labour Party conference debate on nuclear disarmament when he spoke of a British Foreign Secretary “being sent naked into the conference chamber” if the disarmament resolution were passed. Less recently, more appositely, Daniel Defoe 1727 writes ” I .. scorn to take up arms against a naked man” and J Barbour Bruce 1487 has “He was armyt, The t’othir naked was”.
    For ‘double cognate’ lovers: the same Indo-Eurpoean root nagnaka gives rise to nude via Latin nudus and to naked via nag and nak in the Teutonic langauages; naga is current Hindu for a naked mendicant.

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