Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 24,635 (Sat 28 Feb)/Enigmatist – Elbow grease

Posted by rightback on March 7th, 2009


Solving time: 16:38

An enjoyable puzzle for Enigmatist’s first prize crossword of 2009. I had a good start but found it difficult to finish off.

After solving I noticed the perimeter message (‘not know one’s arse from one’s elbow’). This is particularly marvellous as it gives me a perfect excuse to select as Music of the Day one of the very few songs I know that mentions crosswords: Scattered Black And Whites by Elbow. I really do recommend a listen to this (click on ‘more info’ on the right-hand side of the video for the lyrics).

* = anagram, “X” = sounds like ‘X’.

8 WELL-NIGH; WE LIGH[t] around L[uto]N
9 ADAGIO; A GI in A DO – some classic crosswordese, ‘serviceman’ for ‘GI’ (an abbreviation of ‘general issue’, I think) and ‘party’ for ‘do’.
10 ODEA; “OH DEAR” – I liked this homophone but I’m sure someone will be along shortly to claim these two expressions sound nothing like one another! I had to think carefully about whether to put ‘odia’ or ‘odea’ but was pretty sure the singular was ‘odeum’ (cf the Graecised version, and cinema chain, ‘odeon’) so it had to be the latter.
11 GENERATION; (AN INTEGER)* around O – the wording of the definition (‘In years, about 30′) made it look like it could be wordplay, so this clue wasn’t all that easy.
12 BLUFFS (2 defs) – I didn’t know the second definition here, ‘a high steep bank, esp of a river’ (Chambers), so struggled on this one – I had ‘slopes’ written next to the grid at one stage.
14 TITMOUSE; O in TITMUS, + E – the England cricketer is Fred Titmus, Wisden Cricketer of the Year in 1963.
15 LIB[e]RATE – I didn’t know this word and was lucky to spot it via ‘liberal’ and ‘libra’ (the scales of astrology).
17 ERASERS; IS + ERS, with ERA replacing I – typical Enigmatist wording (‘one-age exchange’).
20 ET CETERI; (ETE in C,R) in (TIE)* – I’m sure I wasn’t the only solver that carelessly wrote in ‘et cetera’ here. Ironically I’d even stopped to check bits of the wordplay! ‘Summer’ in French is ‘été’.
22 BOSNIA (hidden) – nicely hidden but the purist in me feels uneasy at the wording (‘X to take back Y’ to indicate Y hidden backwards in X).
23 SATISFYING; (FIST)* in SAYING – I got there eventually with this one, via the intended route of ‘saw’ = SAYING (more crosswordese) – in fact I’ve doodled ‘sastifying’ [sic] in the margin!
24 BEAR (2 defs)
25 [y]EARNER – this works cryptically if you take the definition as ‘In the money, he’s [i.e. he is]‘ and the cryptic part as ‘one wanting to deposit yen’.
26 THE R.M. + ALS[o] – in the crossworld a Jolly is a Royal Marine.
1 NEW DELHI; (WHEN IDLE)* – ‘City (3,5)’? Must be Las Vegas. Not sure what ‘worth’ is doing in this clue.
2 OLLA; rev. of ‘ALLO – as in ‘Allo ‘Allo. An olla is a type of clay pot.
3 TINGES, from INGEST – difficult, one of my last entries and even then only after a dalliance with ‘digest’.
4 KHANATE – not a proper name, which I assumed when solving, but the region ruled by a khan, which now seems obvious!
5 NARRATOR; rev. of (ROT + ARRAN)
6 OAST HOUSES; (SOUTH)* in OASES – an elegant breakdown. I can see that on another day I might have been completely unable to spot the initial ‘O’, as everything (bar the perimeter message) points to the first letter being a consonant.
7 WI[n]DOWS – I left this until the very end, thinking I’d need to know the name of Bill Gates’s children, but it’s ‘baby’ in the figurative sense.
13 FORTEPIANO; (ONE A PROFIT)* – good anagram which I made a hash of: the ending looked like it might be ‘-ina’, as in ‘ocarina’ or ‘concertina’, and with the crossing letters and a possible ‘P’ from 12ac (which I thought might be ‘slopes’) I concocted something along the lines of ‘porfeotina’… no.
16 TREE FARM; (MA + FERRET)* – a bit of overkill on the anagram indication, possibly: ‘scared’ seems superfluous (and I’m not convinced it’s really a valid anagram indicator either).
18 RAISABLE; (RABELAIS)* – very nice.
19 DIP INTO; rev. of I’D, + PINTO – not too difficult once I’d ruled out ‘eat into’ and then corrected 20ac.
21 TO A MAN; A in [ot]TOMAN
22 BIGGER; GG in BIER – ‘in nursery’ excuses ‘horse’ = GG!
24 BUM + F

12 Responses to “Guardian 24,635 (Sat 28 Feb)/Enigmatist – Elbow grease”

  1. Mr Beaver says:

    Thanks Rightback – I’m relieved such an experienced solver as yourself found this hard: Mrs Beaver and I couldn’t finish it despite battering our heads on it all week !
    2d, 10a, 25a eluded us, and we’d put in TO A TEE as a wild guess at 21d – the wordplay still took me a minute to work out, even with the explanation.
    I thought ‘loss adjusters’ as a def of WIDOWS somewhat tasteless, though ‘windows’ as Gates’ child was nice.
    Hands up – who knew OLLA was a pot, then, or am I the only ignoramus ?

  2. Dave Ellison says:

    Yes, thanks, Rightback. Like Mr Beaver, I struggled with this on and of all week, and only got 11 solutions. Enigmatist maintaining his status as my most difficult setter.

  3. Qaos says:

    Well, I thought this was the hardest Saturday crossword for a long time. And due in part to writing in SANDERS for 17ac. Since SANDERS was hidden in the clue (“They remove evidence of one-age exchange for ‘is and ‘ers”) and made so much sense for the solution that I never convinced myself it could be wrong!

    After that, it was all downhill.

    I do admire Enigmatist, but at the same time whenever I see his name on a Saturday, my first thought is that it’s time to take a week off :-).

  4. eimi says:

    Hi Rightback. I started a brief discussion on the new Chat forum here recently after listening to the very same song. Shortly afterwards I went to see Elbow and they were unspeakably wonderful and finished their encores with Scattered Black and Whites.

    (This may be off-message for the crossword, but it does relate to the blog.)

  5. rightback says:

    Thanks eimi – I’m afraid I haven’t been keeping up with the recent exchanges. I saw Elbow as an undergrad but haven’t really kept up with them either; probably time to do something about that.

    Mr Beaver – I’ll raise my hand for OLLA, but I’ve only ever seen it in barred puzzles like the Listener (usually in a clue for OLLAV, which is a learned ancient Irish man). It’s pretty obscure for a blocked puzzle, but I suppose this was a prize crossword so a bit of dictionary usage is to be expected.

  6. Roger Murray says:

    Thank God everyone found this hard, got about three quarters of it done at the weekend and meant to bash on with it during the week but never got round to it. Enigmatist is still my nemesis. Good week other than that, only missed one clue all week(in Rufus of all setters!) Thanks to all on this site for the help.

  7. Barbara says:

    Re Khanate: 4dn
    You didn’t mention that this was a hidden word, or was that too obvious?
    Also, what was the function of “Contrariwise” ?

  8. Duggie says:

    Barbara: re Khanate clue. I think it’s telling you that the hidden letters are not ‘held’ by the Asian prince. I wondered about the sequence of words in 24D.

  9. rightback says:

    4dn: No, just an omission on my behalf – sorry, I should have explained this one. The clue is:

    Region for Asian prince to hold gymkhana – televised? Contrariwise (7)

    Here KHANATE (‘Region for Asian prince’) is hidden in ‘gymkhana – televised’, but the clue (prior to the question mark) suggests that it should be the other way round (because ‘X to hold Y’ would usually indicate that the answer is a word for Y and is hidden in the letters of X). Hence ‘Contrariwise’, to show that the hidden indicator actually works the other way round in this clue.

    This device is used occasionally when the surface reading of the clue (i.e. what it would mean if it were not a cryptic crossword clue) lends itself to using a ‘hidden’ indicator but with the definition part (in this case ‘Region for Asian prince’) doing the holding, whereas for the cryptic reading it needs to be the other part (here ‘gymkhana – televised’).

  10. rightback says:

    Duggie, re 24dn: Documents on female sponger (4) = BUMF

    There’s an implied comma here after ‘female’, i.e. the cryptic part is ‘on female, sponger’ leading to ‘on F, BUM’, analogous to ‘on the table, a teapot’. Quite devious but probably fair.

  11. Paul (not Paul) says:

    The clues may be “fair” but I didn’t get much fun. This was just hard work. Too many obscure references to abbreviations and shorthands that are only learnt through and used in crosswords. I find enigmatist’s style too convaluted to be really enjoyable.

  12. Ralph G says:

    2d OLLA would be known to people who ‘eat local’ on the Costas, from the charmingly named ‘olla-podrida’. Seemingly not otherwise.
    10d ODEA- nice homophone. Why ‘Roman’ I wondered. My impression is that in _Roman_ sites the odeum is usually a small auditorium et sim, whereas the Greek odeon/odeion can be more theatrical in scale.
    21d I don’t like ‘erstwhile old-time’ for ‘remove ‘ot’.
    At 21d, I think it reads OK as ‘In the money’ [definition]/ he’s one wanting > ‘yearner’/to deposit Yen [drop Y).
    Overall, inclined to agree with Paul (11 above). Perimeter message a saving grace possibly.

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