Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 24646 / Auster

Posted by mhl on March 13th, 2009


Quite a few nice clues in this fairly easy puzzle from Auster. (I’m a bit disappointed there’s are no Australian words or phrases this time, though. :))

5. LOGOFF LOGO + FF = “following pages”
9. DEMERARA Double definition; the river and “where SUGAR is produced”
10. RETYPE RE = “about” + TYPE = “print”
11. AIRTIGHT AIR = “Mixture of gases” + TIGHT = “hazardous” (one of the many definitions in Chambers is “difficult or dangerous”)
22. WHISKY WHISK + [froth]Y
23. BEANPOLE BEAN = homonym for “been” + POLE = “one from Warsaw, perhaps”. I don’t think “been” and “was once” are really substitutable – surely it would always be “has / had been”?
24. LAID ON AID in LON[don]
26. SUGARY US reversed + GARY = “Glitter, perhaps”
27. CYCLONES [fan]CY + CLONES (“Enthusiast” is “fan”)
1. MADMAN M + AD MAN; easy for anyone who’s been watching “Mad Men” :)
3. EARWIG EAR and WIG are both “head attachments”
4. EARTHLINGS EARTH = “Heartbroken” or (HEART)*, followed by (SINGL[e])*
6. OPERATOR OPERA = “Tosca, say” + R = “Romeo” in the NATO phonetic alphabet
8. FREEWAYS FRAYS around WEE = “little” reversed
13. ETHEREALLY (THEE)* + REALLY = “truly”; it took me a while to see that “has been replaced” is quite a good anagram indicator
15. KNOW-ALLS K[remlin] + NO WALLS = “open plan”
16. AWAITING A + WAIT + IN + G[ames]
17. BACK DOOR BACK DOOR might be a clue for “rood” or crucifix (as in Holyrood)
19. ENTAIL E N = “two directions” + TAIL = “follow”; this is “Occasion” in the verb sense of “to occasion [something]”
20. COLUMN Double definition
21. SEVENS EVEN in SS = “on board”

31 Responses to “Guardian 24646 / Auster”

  1. Colin H says:

    Didn’t know “rood”, but the answer was obvious enough from the definition. I think “Ethereally” was the only one to really give me any trouble.

    Took me 14 minutes (yes, I timed it…). First time I’ve enountered Auster – is this his usual standard?

  2. Eileen says:

    Thanks for the blog, mhl, and thanks Auster for an entertaining puzzle, with some lovely clues, especially 14, 18, 22, 27ac and 13,15, 17dn.

    It’s a pity about 23ac: ‘been’ and ‘was’ are certainly not substitutable, any more than are ‘went’ and ‘gone’. I thought 10ac was just a bit weak but, apart from that, I really enjoyed this puzzle.

  3. Colin H says:

    Oh, and while I’m here, why is “Sevens ” a ball game? I know it as a card game.

  4. Andrew says:

    Thanks mhl. As you say, this was a pretty easy one, though with some nice clues ( i liked 13dn and 15dn). On the other hand I agree with you about “was”/”been” in 23 ac, and I also didn’t much like 10ac & 16dn, which are both weak in that a component of the wordplay (TYPE, WAIT) is used in exactly the same sense in the answer.

    In 20ac, “when printed” seems a bit redundant.

  5. Andrew says:

    Colin, I think Sevens = Rugby sevens

  6. mhl says:

    Colin H: it’s SEVENS as in Rugby Sevens. Personally, I find Auster’s puzzles (“her” rather than “his”, incidentally) quite variable in difficulty – they tend to be at the easier end of the Guardian scale, though.

  7. mhl says:

    Eileen / Andrew: I particularly enjoyed 13d (ETHEREALLY) as well – an excellent surface :) I wondered whether people might query the definition, though.

  8. Testy says:

    Yes, as Mhl points out, she is a compileress 😉

  9. Colin H says:

    Ah, thanks Mhl and Andrew. Once again, my sporting knowledge is found wanting.

    I’ll have to dig out some Austers from the archive, as I generally do when I face a compiler for the first time.

  10. Eileen says:

    Don’t go there,Testy!

    mhl: Collins has ‘extremely delicate or refined’ as the first definition of ‘ethereal’. I wonder if you mean that it could be said the adverb doesn’t quite work but, quite honestly, I didn’t query it initially.

    3dn raised a smile.

  11. Geoff says:

    When I picked up the paper this morning and saw who had compiled today’s crossword, a naughty word came into my head – but Testy has beaten me to it!

    Thanks for the blog, mhl.

    I found this very easy indeed – I can work out simple charade clues faster than all but the most obvious dd/cd ones – but enjoyable nevertheless. I agree about the grammar in 23ac, but I can’t say I noticed as I was rushing through….

    Thought 9ac was very weak, and ‘hazardous’ doesn’t really mean TIGHT (11ac), but some nice clues here – my favourite was 15dn. Interesting to see the NATO phonetic alphabet get an outing in 6dn; it’s surprising we don’t see this more often as a way of clueing an awkward extra letter.

  12. mhl says:

    Eileen: ah, thanks – I should have checked Collins as well – the closest Chambers has for “ethereal” is “heavenly; airy; spirit-like”.

  13. Dave Ellison says:

    I also found this quite easy today.

    21d SEVENS: I did wonder if there was a version of fives (we had a fives court at our school) called sevens. Googling sevens came up with a few unconvincing references.

  14. Dave Ellison says:

    Sorry, forgot my subjunctive: change “was” to “were” in #13

  15. Matt says:

    Easy or not, i’ve completed 2 days running without having to cheat! Yay (First time ever I think!)

  16. Derek Lazenby says:

    Had to laugh when the on-line version wanted to insist on OPETATOR. My normal paranoia makes me press Check, even when I know I’m right. So I was somewhat baffled when OPERATOR became OPE ATOR. I put the R back, but it insisted it was wrong. So I pressed Cheat and started laughing! Even on-line we are not safe from the legendary Gruaniad proof reading!

    Minor detail, maybe it is a sign of the keyboard driven times we live in, but I thought 10ac should have been (2-4)? One word finder, Chambers no less, agrees with me. (Damn, you have no idea how it pains me to quote them!)

  17. smutchin says:

    mhl, re 23a – I think you’re supposed to read it all together, “was once from Warsaw” = “been [a] Pole”. But the wording could have been more elegant.

    Agree with Geoff’s reservations about 9a (it’s not even cryptic, I’d say) and 11a, but otherwise found this a very pleasant and not too strenuous way to pass my train journey.

    Derek – agree about 10a, and I did wonder if 5a should have been (3-3) or even (3,3). The thing about Chambers is not that it’s infallible (I don’t believe anyone has ever claimed that) but it is the definitive reference for the purposes of crossword solving. Consistency is possibly more important than correctness – ie as long as the same rules/definitions/spellings apply every time, it has to be considered “fair”.

  18. Paul B says:

    Well, I’d agree it’s better than some recent numbers. The words are all pretty familiar, but situated in an awful grid, one that makes it bl**dy hard to get into the four corners. Some good clues (14ac and the brilliant 15dn in particular), and some nice ideas elsewhere. Maybe a few too many anagrams, plus the usual uncorrected bits and bobs that I find irksome. Here’s my gripe list:

    5ac ‘on’ usually means B on A in an AB construction; 9ac not cryptic at all (as blogged); 10ac root word used in the SI breakdown; 12ac ‘holding’ in what sense? It holds for us the answer? 18ac root word used again; 22ac ‘made by’? How ‘made’? 23ac as blogged; 27ac not too happy about noun defs that aren’t actually nouns, or at least leave you in no doubt as to the part of speech intended; 6dn same moan; 7dn ‘to introduce’ usually means something else, and is redundant here; 8dn as 27ac & 6dn; 13dn why ‘has been’? Surely an ‘is’ would have sufficed; 16dn root word used again, and 19dn why ‘us’?

  19. John says:

    I wish the setter had used a different Gary. There are hundreds to choose from.

  20. JamieC says:

    Nice and easy this. Most clues neither bad nor brilliant, except for 9ac (bad for the reasons already given) and 13d (brilliant). I liked 15d too.

    Paul B – I agree this grid made it particularly hard to get from one corner to another, but then that’s part of the challenge, right? The grids I really hate are the ones where the edge words cross one letter in so you don’t get any initial letters (does that make sense? See Gordius this week, but don’t read the comments without a wet towel wrapped round your head!)

    Geoff – “we’re in a tight spot”

  21. beermagnet says:

    John, I agree, the Mr. Glitter reference was a bit easy – especially for us cockneys.

  22. Derek Lazenby says:

    Oh? People objecting to the grid? I have to say I agree, but I hadn’t said anything because last time I did my quite reasonable observation was jumped on by an idiot hell bent on making trouble out of nothing. I hope you people fare better.

  23. Mort says:

    Overall very nice. It’s a shame about 10ac though. I’ve seen this formulation of RE + definition = ‘do it again’ a few times and always found it very unsatisfying. You can use any word which accepts ‘re’ as a suffix and achieve the same effect.

    Apart from that, I can’t complain. There were a lot of charades in here, and a lot of them clued very cleverly to look like something else. The best example of this IMO has to be 16d.

  24. Geoff says:

    Grids in which most initial letters are unchecked do make puzzles more difficult to solve, as it is always easier to come up with an answer if you have the first letter of a word. But that’s just an observation – it’s hardly grounds for a complaint.

    Re 11ac: I had thought of ‘tight spot’ as the nearest to a synonym here, but ‘tight’ in this context means ‘difficult’ rather than specifically ‘hazardous’.

  25. Stumpy says:

    11ac:I can very easily imagine Lieutenant Gonville Bromhead at Rorke’s Drift saying “Looks like we’re in a bit of a tight spot here chaps.” or maybe “tate spot hyaw cheps.” British understatement eh?

    This was a ‘glance at the clue, write in the answer’ kind of puzzle, except, perhaps, substitute ‘look’ for ‘glance’ in the bottom right corner.

  26. Paul B says:

    Hi Jamie C.

    If you like a challenge that goes beyond the clues, then yes indeed, this grid would certainly contribute to it. And another point might be that, as today’s clues were not generally hard, it didn’t matter anyway. But, while I don’t shirk a tough solve, I’m not into having things made unnecessarily supertough – even in a bad grid it’s possible to arrange for a few double-light answers to ease the swelling. Of the brain, I mean.

    The ‘edge word’ situation you refer to can also be annoying, esp where the last letter’s also unchecked, but such grids sure help those who’d entertain a perimetrical Nina, for example.

  27. dagnabit says:

    Thank you for the blog, mhl.

    Paul B, may I ask what a Nina is?

  28. Han says:

    I found the first three-quarters of this a nice easy task over breakfast this morning, and then was stuck with the bottom right corner to do this evening. Gave up with ‘pleasure’ and ‘sevens’ missing, which I kicking myself over, particularly being a bit of a rugby nut. 1d was a nice one given that I had been watching Madmen last night.

  29. Agentzero says:

    Dagnabit: In the upper right hand corner of the website, under “Categories,” click “Tips for Solvers.” There you will find an article by Pete Biddlecombe. Click on “Comments” at the end of that article and, in the comments, you will find a discussion of Ninas.

  30. dagnabit says:

    Thank you so much, Agentzero. I wondered if the name might have something to do with Hirschfeld, so it was good to learn I was on the right track. I’ve actually solved at least one puzzle of this kind.

    Have a good weekend, all.

  31. Barnaby Page says:

    Agreed on 5ac – both Chambers (the online version at least) and SOED have it as 3,3.

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