Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 24663 / Quantum

Posted by mhl on April 2nd, 2009


Quite an easy crossword today, but with a few disappointing clues, I thought (e.g. 13, 14, 6, 7) … There are a few things I didn’t understand, but I’m sure people will be able to clear them up quickly :)

1. SURREAL SURRE[y] + L.A. reversed
5. PEACOCK I guess this is meant to be CO = “firm” in PEAK = “top”, but where does the extra C come from?
10. KERB sounds like “curb”
12. SULLEN U = “university” + L L = “students” in SEN, an old subdivision of the Yen, apparently
13. HIGH SPOT HIGH = “well up” + SPOT = “notice”; rather a weak breakdown
14. SLAP-HAPPY SLAP = “strike” + HAPPY = “pleased”
16. PASSÉ PASSE[ngers]
17. CHALK Double definition Sorry, this is a cryptic definition as Geoff pointed out. I was mixing up chalk and cheese, of course :)
19. APATHETIC A = “one” + PATH = “way” + CITE reversed
24. NOTATE NO = “little number” + TATE = “gallery”
26. DOG’S DINNER Double definition; “What’s serverd in the K[ennel] C[lub]” and “mess”; I’m not sure which of the possible KCs the surface is alluding to
27. PEAL Hidden answer
29. IMPRINT PR = “public relations” in I = “one” + MINT = “money centre”
2. UNEQUAL Double definition? I’m not sure about “on balance”…
3. REBEL (BEE)* in R L = “both directions”
6. EFFIGY Presumably sounds like F-E-G? Although it doesn’t in my accent, anyway…
7. CITYSCAPE CITY = “Eg London” + (SPACE)*
9. IN THE PIPELINE (HINT)* + E + PIPE LINE = “a Fife band”
15. POLITESSE A nice clue: sounds like Polly Tess
18. HARPOON O = “duck” in HARP ON
20. TANGRAM TAN = “beat” + G = “good” + RAM = “crowd” for the geometrical puzzle
21. IN TRAIN Double definition
22. SCRIMP CRIMPS = “curls” with the S moved to the front

36 Responses to “Guardian 24663 / Quantum”

  1. Andrew says:

    Thanks mhl. A pretty easy one, with quite a few weak ones, as you say. Still, it’s nice to see that Quantum’s posthumous puzzles are still appearing 10 months after his death.

    I didn’t notice the missing C in 5 ac – looks like a mistake.

    2dn – I was puzzled by this too. Something about old-fashioned scales maybe?

    26ac – KC can be King’s Counsel, so maybe a dining room of lawyers?

  2. Geoff says:

    Thanks, mhl.

    Mostly very straightforward, although the bottom left hand corner took me a bit longer, until I saw 15dn. Not my favourite puzzle of the week, but largely inoffensive.

    Isn’t 17ac just a cd? The reference is to the expression ‘like chalk and cheese’ (ie very different). I can’t explain the extra C in 5ac either.

    I didn’t get the first part of 26ac untiI I had all the crossing letters, not realising what KC stood for; I’m sure it is Kennel Club in this context.

  3. Andrew says:

    Geoff – there are 2 defs (both slightly cryptic) of CHEESE: “It’s on the [cheese]board”, and “certainly not chalk”.

  4. Ian says:

    I think the setter must have been thinking of “slapdash” in 14a. Surely slap happy just means punch drunk.

  5. Geoff says:

    Andrew – I take your point, but it’s debatable whether 17ac consists of two separate defs or just one slightly more elaborate one, as the same meaning of CHEESE is being alluded to in both parts of the clue. Double defs usually refer to two different meanings of the word which is to be clued.

  6. Andrew says:

    Ah, I see what you mean – and pseudo double defs like that are one of my biggest bugbears too! Still, the surface is nicely misleading, with its apparent reference to blackboards.

  7. don says:

    I got 5 across from the checking letters and the definition, but reasoned it as ‘top’ = A, ‘firm’ = CO and ‘one given’ is “a ‘peck’ on the cheek” (for Eileen, of course).

  8. Tyro says:

    I can’t see how one given could define peck, so I’m not convinced. But mostly what I don’t like is the grid. It seems a bit unfair to have 5 and 7 letter words with less than half the letters crossing, even when the clues are mostly easy. Perhaps Paul B could tell us what number it is and why it hasn’t been retired.

  9. smutchin says:

    I wasn’t sure if this was an especially easy one or if I was on good form today, but I completed it inside 20 minutes, which is very quick for me.

    Don – nice try but I’m not convinced. It looks like a mistake to me, as others have said. But I’m sure Eileen will enjoy the flirting!

    mhl – it’s not just you – 6d is a very loose homophone. The letter E when spoken is a long vowel sound, but the I in “effigy” is a short vowel sound. That clue would work better in France, perhaps.

    re 26a – I thought the use of the initials KC was just a way of not making the solution too obvious (as spelling out Kennel Club would have done). If the initials are meant to stand for something else in the surface, it doesn’t improve the clue because they might as well stand for anything.

    On the plus side, I really liked 16a and 17a.

  10. smutchin says:

    Tyro – you have a fair point about the grid, but I’d say it’s balanced by the relatively easy nature of the clues.

  11. Dave Ellison says:

    I put CURB in 10a, as I had UNUSUAL for 2d. I am not happy with either, as the “we hear” should apply to “check”, though at a stretch it might be to “Edge”. However, I can’t see a connection for UNUSUAL to “On balance” for 2d.

    I thought 17a was a good clue, too, and I have no problem with EFFIGY – I thought that was quite clever and unusual.

    I at first assumed KC stood for King’s Counsel, but couldn’t get anywhere with that (REAL TENNIS would fit, for a while, with a royal connection and the use of “served”, until I got 20d); I was also trying to fit SILK in somewhere. It was only when I googled KC and found kennel club that I went to the DOGS.

  12. Paul B says:

    This is the lovely Guardian Grid 12.

    You’d be better off starting with its down clues, as only one (9) is unch-heavy. But across, things are much worse, with the following list of offenders: 1, 5, 14, 16, 17, 19, 28, 29.

    Redrafting the grids might be something that the editor (whoever that might be at any particular time) could address, but hey, let’s get the clues right first. This one might be joined up a bit better with a couple of three-letter down clues at either end of the line that starts with 14 ac. Takes out a few unches too.

  13. Eileen says:

    Thank you, Don! But ‘one given’ has to be part of the definition and, for your parsing to work, the clue would need to be ‘included *in* one given’. I’m with the mistake theory.

    I don’t understand how 2dn can be called a double definition – but I can’t see any way to explain it!

    I really liked 26ac and never thought of anything other than Kennel Club.

    Ian, I didn’t really like the definition of ‘slap-happy’, either, but Collins has ‘cheerfully irresponsible or careless’ and Chambers ‘recklessly or boisterously happy; slapdash[!]; happy-go-lucky; punch-drunk’.

  14. Derek Lazenby says:

    Oh no! I’m aggreeing with dictionaries, but yes I’ve come across slap-happy being used as an alternative to slap-dash.

    2dn Doesn’t “on balance” not only mean the result of a test or measure or whatever, but also the process, in the shorthand way setters say things? As in “to put on a balance” ( as alluded to by post 1). The result of any test can be failure. So if you test for balance one of the possible outcomes is unequal. If it isn’t a possible outcome then you didn’t need to be doing the test.

    Agree 5 is iffy.

  15. Colin Blackburn says:

    17a is, for me, certainly a cryptic definition. I’m a bit confused by the discussion above which seems to have recast the clue as defining cheese rather than chalk. The surface meaning is surely to the cheese board while the cryptic meaning is to the blackboard.

  16. Colin Blackburn says:

    Isn’t 2dn a CD also? On a balance two things that are different are unequal (in weight). It’s weak but it’s a CD rather than a DD.

  17. Andrew says:

    Colin, you’re right, my comment (written without checking properly) assumes the cue was “It’s on the board, but it’s certainly not chalk”, giving CHEESE – which come to think of it is an equally good (or bad) clue.

  18. stiofain_x says:

    Im not complaining about this although it was pretty easy this week is still on course for being the best ever for quality puzzles.
    As it is posthumous we will never find out where that extra C in 5 across comes from I thought it might be the AS ONE part of the clue but accept it is probably a (pea)cock-up.

  19. liz says:

    I think Colin is right about 2dn. I thought about putting UNEQUAL but didn’t because I couldn’t see why.

  20. Colin Blackburn says:

    Thanks for the clarification Andrew, I thought there was some dramatic difference between online and paper versions. You are right though, the clue works, as well as CDs work, both ways around.

  21. Mart says:

    What’s an unch?

  22. nmsindy says:

    Shorthand for ‘unchecked square’ – a letter in an answer not intersected by another answer.

  23. Mart says:

    Looks like the whole crossie is composed of alternating unches and ches(?) then. As were the last two days. Is that always the case?

  24. Colin Blackburn says:

    Mart: Broadly yes. Blocked puzzles like this (ones with black squares) tend to alternate. There are some grids, not sure if the Guardian use any, where double unches occur (and doubles ‘ches’). You should never get a triple unch but you might get a triple ‘che’!


  25. Geoff says:

    Mart: I think it’s always the case in the Guardian, but some cryptics sometimes use grids with two consecutive unches in places. Personally, I think any grid with alternating unches and crossing letters is perfectly fair. This one, after all, does have two across solutions along the top line, giving plenty of initial letters for the down clues. Grids with a top line of unches are always trickier.

  26. Mart says:

    I agree Geoff, it’s always nice when the first solution gives other initial letters.
    I’m getting to like this crossie thing.
    There’s still 4 unsolved in my grid, but it’s good to be stretched a bit.

  27. Eileen says:

    I’d forgotten until the blog was published today, that Mudd [Paul] had a rather good clue for slapdash in his 21st March FT prize puzzle: Strike – careless.

  28. Eileen says:

    [And I've just realised I've made the chalk / cheese mistake and forgotten that the answer in today's puzzle was slap-happy, which makes me way off-topic - apologies!]

  29. dagnabit says:

    Not to speak ill of the deceased, but I had a number of issues with today’s clues (leaving aside PEACOCK and UNEQUAL, which have already been thoroughly dissected):

    23ac: A protocol is a set of rules, so why is it defined as “by the rules”? The clue would have read just as smoothly without the “by.”

    Just a personal quirk: I felt that “impression” in 29ac too closely resembled the answer.

    Is “up” necessary in 22d?

    25d: Is “but” just for the surface? And why “the” point, instead of “a” or nothing at all?

  30. Pasquale says:

    It’s nearly a year since my friend and colleague Quantum (Eric Burge) died. I thought that the backlog had been cleared — I wonder if this will be the last one here?

  31. Geoff says:

    Pasquale (Don): Thanks for your comment. I would have been rather more respectful in my own comments if I had realised that I had just solved a posthumous puzzle.

    BTW, I hope you are fully restored to health. I much enjoyed your last Guardian outing!

  32. Paul B says:

    I can’t see the point of Pasquale’s comment, as this either is or is not Quantum’s last Guardian puzzle – does it matter?

  33. Fletch says:

    Well it was vaguely on topic I suppose.

    But should one be automatically more respectful of a dead settter’s puzzle? That’s an interesting question.

  34. James Lyon says:

    I had COUNTER (as in counterweight) for 2d. Then changed it to UNUSUAL. I guess it was the CURB/KERB homophone that caught me out.

    Sorry to hear that the setter has passed away. I’m sure a lot of people have an image of how the person looks in their head just from their cryptic name – I had Quantum down as a young, eager buck, funnily enough!

  35. Andrew says:

    You can see Don(Pasquale)’s obituary of Eric Burge (Quantum) at:

  36. Polecat says:

    5ac PeaCOCk How about Chamber of Commerce (C.O.C.) for “firm”?
    2dn Unequal Most dictionaries give the definition “not evenly balanced”.
    So perhaps the answer is defined by the whole clue and
    partially by the word “different”.

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