Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 24584 / Enigmatist

Posted by mhl on December 31st, 2008


This was rather tough going until we got the Hogmanay message around the outside (FOR THE SAKE OF AULD LANG SYNE), but good fun nonetheless. There are a few bits of devious wordplay that took quite a while to work out.

7. ELEPHANT (PLANE THE)*; Chambers gives “a size of paper before metrication” as one meaning of ELEPHANT. (See also Wikipedia on book sizes.)
9. HOISTS IS in HOTS. (I’m not convinced that HOTS is “lust” exactly – surely it’s always “the hots”?)
10. NEON E(ros) in NON(e) = “love”
12. YIPPEE YIP(S) + PEE = “to go”. (“The Yips” affects golfers’ putting ability.)
14. HARD DISK DD IS = “theologian is” in HARK
15. GORGON GOR(E) + GON(E), “similarly restricted” meaning both have the final “E” removed
17. SCRIPT SC = “Viz” or scilicet + RIPT, which sounds like “ripped”
20. SAMENESS AMEN in SESS. “Sess” is an alternative spelling of “cess”, meaning a tax (or to tax). Sameness is identity in the mathematical sense.
22. ASSURE thE RUSSiAn reversed, i.e. take “Thin” out of “the Russian” and then “revolution” indicates reversal
23. GAS TURBINE B = “British” in (SIGNATURE)*
24. OLIO I in (LOO)*; a word that I think I’ve only come across when learning “Address To A Haggis” at school :)
26. ICE SHELF (CHESTERFIELD – RETD = “retired”)*
1. FLEETING FLEE = “hurriedly leave” + TING, which might be a pronunciation of “thing” in some Irish accents…
2. OPEN Double definition
3. RACEME Double definition: “Race me!” + an interesting sense of flower arrangement
4. THEATRIC (ART)* in THEIC. A “theic” is someone who drinks too much tea, or is suffering from theism. (Presumably that’s pronounced differently from the other sense of theism :))
5. HIT AND MISS A lovely clue: (ADMIT NHS IS)*
6. ETHICS I = “one” in (THE)* + C(ivil) S(ervice)
8. TETCHY The wife of Oceanus was Tethys, so this is C = “Cape” in TETHY(S)
16. ONE-ARMED O = “round” + NEAR MED; a one-armed bandit is a slot machine
18. TORTILLA TORT = “difficulty” + ILL = “wrong” + A = “one” Thanks to Ian for correcting this: it should be ILL = “with difficulty” in TORT=”wrong” + A = “one”
19. ASSISI ASS IS I = “donkey is one”, referring to St Francis of Assisi
21. AZALEA AZALE is a homonym for “as ale (porter)” + A
22. A LEVEL The toughest clue in the puzzle for me: Joseph L. Mankiewicz wrote and directed All About Eve, or ALL about EVE
24. OAHU BOATHOUSES – (BESOTS)* leaves the Hawaiian island

22 Responses to “Guardian 24584 / Enigmatist”

  1. Eileen says:

    Hi Mhl

    Yes, I found it pretty tough going and I’ve learned a few new things today.

    Thanks for the excellent blog and particularly for YIP and the explanation of 15ac, which I couldn’t see, and for 20ac. [I had to look up 'sess' - I didn't know 'cess', either!] I was all set to challenge this, thinking it should be ‘identicalness’, since Maths is definitely not my subject. I didn’t get the explanation of 22dn, either – a brilliant clue!

    It was interesting to see the same device used in 22ac, 26ac and 24dn: I don’t remember seeing it before, or at least not for a long time.

  2. Linda says:

    Here’s thanking Enigmatist for a surprise festive treat – excellent puzzle I thought, and hoping to see more of him in the Guardian in the new year.

  3. Geoff Moss says:

    22d Exactly a week ago, Christmas Eve, Nimrod used ‘A level’ to clue ‘All about Eve’, 9d in the Indy #6924.

  4. Geoff Moss says:

    ….. and having just checked the list, Nimrod = Enigmatist = IO so I wonder when a variation of this clue will be the FT.

  5. Ian says:

    Surely in 18d ‘Tort’ is ‘wrong’ and ‘ill’ is ‘with difficulty’.

  6. mhl says:

    Thanks, Ian – I’ve corrected that in the post.

  7. mhl says:

    Eileen: indeed, I don’t remember seeing the 22, 26, 24d form in the Guardian too often. I’ve tried submitting clues of this type to the Azed competition, but I’m not sure he allows them unless they’re phrased exactly as a compound anagram. Perhaps someone can correct me on that, though…

  8. mhl says:

    Incidentally, did anyone else think it was a shame that the perimeter phrase was indicated explicitly, rather than left as a Nina?

  9. Geoff says:

    Perhaps it was a shame for you, Mhl, but I found this puzzle pretty tricky even when I had spotted the perimeter phrase. Without the hint, it might have defeated all but the most proficient solvers – especially ones like me who often fail to spot the theme even having completed the crossword! YIPPEE would have been particularly elusive, I think. I always find grids like this which have very few initial letters at intersections more difficult. It is much easier to find a solution when you have the initial letter.

    22dn is a wonderful clue – I hadn’t seen this before (and I spotted the trick immediately!). I also particularly liked 11ac and 15ac.

    Having got 7ac instantly, I then slowed down considerably. But although this one took me longer than usual I did managed to parse all the clues – eventually!

  10. Fletch says:

    Yes Mhl, I did. Why all this dumbing-down? The Indy felt it necessary to highlight the perimeter squares in the online version, as if the grid alone wasn’t enough to indicate there’d be a message.

  11. eimi says:

    I can’t say too much, as Dac’s crossword is online now, rather than the one that appeared earlier, but I’ll return to this if capable of using a computer tomorrow.

  12. don says:

    Thanks Mark for explaining quite a few (too many) guesses, especially 4 and 22 Down and 17 and 20 Across.

    I found the Hogmanay hint invaluable after I’d got the S A K and don’t think I’d have completed an excellent puzzle without it.

    Blwyddyn Newydd Dda i chi gyd!

    I’ll leave the Latin, Greek and other foreign expressions to Eileen et alia!

  13. Mick H says:

    Some great clues here, especially EUTHANASIA. I don’t really see the need for the preamble, but it looks like the Guardian taking a stand against the unflagged nina.

  14. Derek Lazenby says:

    Well I got close, but had to resort to the Cheat button for the last 4. I found it hard work, too much “those letters look like” then going back to figure why, especially as I didn’t always get the figuring why and had to rely on the Check button not wiping out the letters to know I had got it right. So I didn’t find it that much fun, though to be fair some clues raised a smile. Still you would expect that from a someone who happily answers to Clegg’s phrase from Last of the Summer Wine, “Don’t mind me, I’m just a passing idiot”. (not that any of of you want to know, but passingidiot is my IM id on yahoo cos it appeals to my sense of humour, but anyone who wants a rambling natter should feel free to use it)

  15. Ian says:

    In essence a brilliant crossword that was rather challenging.

    This I would have classified as ‘hard’.

    11a, 16d and 22a were top class.

  16. Brian Harris says:

    Very tough today, but satisfying. Once we’d got the New Year message round the edge, it made the remainder considerably easier. Solved 22ac, but only now do I realise what the clue means – “All about eve” – very nice! I don’t mind how 22,24 and 26, but I think too many of these would eventually start to be tiresome. Particularly liked 16 and 11, but there were lots of good clues in this. It was hard, but felt like a real achievment when we’d cracked it (took about 45 mins).

  17. George Foot says:

    I was enormously surprised to see all the comments about how hard this crossword was. Normally I find Enigmatist probably the toughest setter in the Guardian. Usually a 2 hour job. But today I must have been inspired, it only took 35 mins. Admittedly I was lucky to spot the outside very quickly and from then on it seemed fairly easy. I have never done an Enigmatist anything like so fast. I didn’t understand all the answers until I read the blog but I had got them all right!

  18. Baijaaners says:

    Fairly tough today, very much easier once we’d found the message around the edge. A couple of the surfaces seemed pretty weak, particularly 12ac. Agree that the Nina would have been more rewarding if left hidden, but a nice puzzle nonetheless.

  19. Roger Murray says:

    Only had to cheat on one (21dn, I’m ashamed to say, as it was one of the easier ones!) Quite a few half guesses, but to get this far with Enigmatist is a good day for me, as I find him the hardest of the Guardian setters. Happy New Year to you all.

  20. SimonHarris says:

    Well blogged, sir. This was tough indeed, although I found it a shade fairer than many Nimrod/Enigmatist puzzles, for some reason.

  21. mhl says:

    Happy new year to everyone, and thanks for the nice comments about today’s post…

  22. stiofain_x says:

    A very tough but satisfying puzzle, one of the best in ages.
    I agree that it would have been better if the nina hadn’t been flagged up. Is a nina still a nina if it is explained beforehand? “A Hogmanay puzzle” would have sufficed.
    My enjoyment of this puzzle was spoiled though by the use of the term “paddy” to signify irish in 1dn, I and most other Irish people consider this a term of racial abuse and I think it more blatant than the recent clueing of “coolie” and “chinaman” which caused comment here.

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