Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 24,681 – Shed

Posted by Ciaran McNulty on April 23rd, 2009

Ciaran McNulty.

Medium difficulty today, I’d say.  No obvious theme aside from maybe 11ac and 1dn! I like Shed normally, and this was no exception – the unknown words all seem to somehow be etymologically possible, if that makes sense.

(X) = inserted
(x) = removed
* = anagram
< = reversed
d.d. = double definition


9. INFERBO. INFER + NO. I liked how the surface obscures the def.
11. PENALISES. PEN(AL)ISES !!. The Guardian always hides rudeness in the solutions, never the answers.  I presume the theory is that if you’re old enough to do the crossword you can take it.
12. SMART. d.d.
13. SWEEP. d.d.
15. EXTIRPATE. ATEXTRIPE*. New word on me.
17. DEBENTURE. DEBEN + T + URE. Two fairly obscure rivers.
19. LYMPH. L ((stick)Y) M.P.H.   ‘A ton’ is slang for 100 m.p.h. so half of that is L MPH.
25. SPANGLE. S.P. + ANGLE. “Sine Prole” is used in medieval genealogy to mean ‘childless’.
27. LIDLESS. L(otu)S around IDLE.


4. TROUSSEAU. T + ROUSSEAU.  The garb of a bride.
5. PRESS. d.d.
7. DIORAMA. D(IO)RAMA.  Referring to Io as ‘cowgirl’ is a reference to her being turned into a white heifer!
21. HAY WAIN. “WEIGH HAIN”.  Brilliant.  I can easily forgive a Spoonerism when it’s that good.
23. TRESS. (for)TRESS. ‘For’ is cut.
24. KAPPA. K + A P(political) + P.A.

29 Responses to “Guardian 24,681 – Shed”

  1. Andrew says:

    Thanks Ciaran. An excellent puzzle, I thought, with lots of clever misdirection as Kantian philosopher” in 4dn, and, as you say, 9ac. 23dn was very nice too.

    More Shed please!

  2. Eileen says:

    Thanks, Ciaran – and hear, hear, Andrew!

    I liked the way 1dn and 11ac crossed each other!

    I’ve seen Io used as a cowgirl before but it’s still good for a smile – a nice surface.

    I liked 19ac but I’m not sure of the necessity for the question mark.

    I hesitated awhile to put in AURAL, as I didn’t know AURA as ‘the peculiar sensations that precede an attack of epilepsy, hysteria or certain other ailments’.

  3. Dawn says:

    Thanks Ciaran,

    I got the right hand side in the end but couldn’t get enough of the left side to let me finish it. What I did was enjoyable and I thought the spoonerism was great.

    Thanks for explaining what IO has to do with cows.

  4. smutchin says:

    I found this really hard work – lots of devious cryptic definitions, misleading (but entirely fair!) surfaces and obscure meanings (eg I’ve not heard of “house” meaning a sign of the Zodiac before, but it’s there in my Collins dictionary so fair enough).

    Managed to solve about half of it. But looking at the solutions I didn’t get, I can appreciate that this is really ingenious stuff from Shed. Excellent. (And I’ll be honest, I’ve not always been the biggest fan of Shed.)

    Eileen – I’d say the qm in 19a is justified by “half a ton” because it’s a fairly indirect way of clueing LMPH. Albeit that the qm is in the “wrong” place if that’s why it’s there.

  5. Eileen says:

    Thanks, Smutchin: that sounds right – it was exactly what I liked about the clue!

  6. cholecyst says:

    17 ac. Not sure about “fairly obscure rivers”, Ciaran. I’ll let SE folk comment on the fame of the first. As for the second, cheese lovers everywhere, especially Wallace, will be enraged over the slur on the reputation of the river that drains their favourite dale.

  7. Shirley says:

    Very lovely puzzle from Shed, one of the Guardian’s best e-quip-ped writers if I may say! He always entertains, but there is a sort of dark side to him that appeals. And he’s quite rude, too!

    I agree with Eileen and Smutchin about that ‘L MPH’ joke; very nicely done.

  8. Ciaran McNulty says:

    Nick – fair point about obscurity, I should have said ‘less common in crosswords’ perhaps!

  9. Derek Lazenby says:

    Similar exprience to smutchin, one layer sideways too many for me. I suspect that clutch of late posters on the last Rufus who were really pleased that they had finally finished or even almost finished a cryptic for the first time will have found this even harder than I did. Still there ya go.

    smutchin, think 60’s, think hippy, think HAIR, “When the moon is in the seventh house….”. I think that was where I first came across it! Otherwise you’d need to be a reader of the sort of rag that has an Astrology section, not that one does that but rarely and through extreme boredom.

  10. Eileen says:

    Ciaran – never seen the Deben before but the Ure makes very frequent appearances outing in crosswords.

    [Other Dales -lovers may be amused to know that for a fleeting moment I tried to make ‘coverture’ fit the clue ;-)]

  11. Eileen says:

    [Apologies for the nonsensical ‘outing’ above]

  12. Paul B says:

    I’m sure Dale won’t mind.

  13. brr says:

    Derek – as one of those late posters for Monday’s Rufus, yes you’re spot on. I found this very hard, and pretty much on a par with Terrible Tuesday.

  14. Hughie says:

    # Derek Lazenby Says:
    April 23rd, 2009 at 2:45 pm
    I suspect that clutch of late posters on the last Rufus who were really pleased that they had finally finished or even almost finished a cryptic for the first time will have found this even harder than I did.

    Yes, I found this hard. I did quite well with the top right quarter after getting PRESS, but with very little else from the rest of it. Still, early days!

  15. Eileen says:

    Hi, Late-Rufus-Posters

    Shed is rated ‘medium’ under the ‘Setters’ heading. [Only Paul [yes] Chifonie[?] and Rover[?] are rated ‘hard’.

    I’ve always found Shed one of the most difficult – and therefore one of the most satisfying, on a par with the late-lamented Bunthorne. If you’re new to cryptics and got anything at all from today’s, you should be feeling pleased. Keep at it. Shed’s cluing is scrupulously fair and accurate and so you know that he’s worth sticking with. There’s nothing worse than spending ages over a clue, only to find that it was loose or unfair.

    [To be fair, Peter Biddlecombe has invited ‘corrections’ of his Guardian ratings but I’ve never got round to it.]

  16. sidey says:

    Nice crossword. Personally, I’d rate Shed as ‘hard’, but it is entirely subjective. I also rate Paul easy/medium, often knocking one of his off at Rufus speed and likewise Araucaria easy/impossible.

    Don’t get discouraged by the seemingly impossible, one day you’ll start to ‘click’ with some setters and off you go.

  17. James Lyon says:

    Yep, a pretty tough one for me, although I didn’t spend too much time looking at it today before peeking at the answers. I’ll need to get into Shed’s mindset – I can usually get a few Araucaria clues off the bat but I was drawing a blank on everything today.

  18. liz says:

    I found this really hard too and didn’t finish by a long way. Looking at the answers I can see how clever the cluing was tho. But I have often struggled with Shed.

    I think it’s hard to rate setters re level of difficulty. I’ve always found I get on with some better than others regardless of how difficult the clues are.

  19. Brr says:

    Thanks for the encouragement Eileen.

  20. Eileen says:

    Yes, I’ve several times quoted ‘horses for courses’ but I do think that Shed is generally rated as fairly hard, but – and it’s not a but! -I love his puzzles!

    Conversely, I’ve defended Rufus against accusations of being ‘too easy’ [setters can’t win, can they?] but, for me, the criterion always has to be fairness – with, if possible, some wit. There are many clues that you solve instantly, but there’s still the ‘aha!’, whereas, as I said above, there are others that you labour at, only to be disappointed. I do love the quirkiness of Araucaria and Paul, which I would still always defend as being fair.

    I suppose I’m just an addict, who enjoys practically all the puzzles, and therefore feels justified at expressing the occasional [usually pedantic] niggle! [I’m quite disappointed that no-one picked up on my pedantic less / fewer complaint yesterday, ;-)]

  21. Eileen says:

    Brr, please stay with us. It’s well worth it!

  22. Shed says:

    Thanks to all. Comments from Andrew, Eileen and Shirley particularly gratifying, and will encourage me to try to increase my productivity.

    Smutchin (comment 4) is spot-on about the qm in 19ac, but I don’t really see where else I could have put it.

    17ac (debenture) occurred to me whilst walking along the River Deben and thinking, ‘Now here’s a river I’ve never seen in a crossword’. It is a pretty major river, though – at least by UK standards.

    Re comment 2, I freely admit to having stolen the ‘Io = cowgirl’ idea from my mother.

    Sidey and Liz (comments 16 and 18): I entirely agree there’s no objective scale of difficulty in crosswords. Just as ‘obscure word’ means ‘word I didn’t know’, ‘difficult clue’ means ‘clue I struggled with’.

  23. dagnabit says:

    I too found this hard but rewarding. I liked how often the clues felt like tough nuts to crack – it made finally getting them that much more satisfying.

    Still, I had a high quotient of answers-I-got-right-but-didn’t-know-why. So thank you especially, Ciaran, for the explanations to 1ac, 17ac, 19ac, 25ac, 23d (wow), and 24d.

  24. Ciaran McNulty says:

    Thanks for the feedback, Shed!

    The ‘difficulty’ of a puzzle is so hard to judge. I can only say how hard I found each puzzle myself – there are many times like today when I say that a puzzle is medium and people chime in and say it’s really hard, but there are an equal number of days when I say it was nigh-impossible but the commenters all tell me how easy it is!

    Perhaps we should ‘rate’ puzzles when we blog them, so after a year or so we could establish some sort of aggregate scores for setters? It’d be interesting at least.

    The mark of a good crossword is when, like today’s, the words you don’t know are derivable and satisfying once found.

  25. Eileen says:

    Shed: it’s really good to hear from you.It’s always so gratifying when setters respond! Please give us more! – puzzles, I mean!

    I’ve been to Woodbridge but didn’t know its river was the Deben, until I looked it up today.

    Re IO: I’d never have thought to use the word ‘stolen’ [and hadn’t bothered to do the research to find that it was an Audreus – would that I had raised such sons – although I’m proud of them in other ways!] The combination IO is pretty common [often ‘ten’] and I’m just interested, as a Classicist, to see it used this way.

    Re your last comment: as a blogger, I would say that, in my case, ‘This was a clever clue’ might well mean, ‘I think I was quite clever to get this’!

  26. liz says:

    Thanks for the feedback, Shed! Re the difficulty/ease of setters and clues, you put it much better than me. I am never happy to be so thoroughly trounced by a crossword, but when I saw the blog today, I was almost happy to be trounced. V clever, fair clues. More please, and maybe I will do better next time.

  27. sidey says:

    Ciaran’s comment “The mark of a good crossword is when, like today’s, the words you don’t know are derivable and satisfying once found.” is how all crosswords (with the notable exceptions of The Listener and EV) in the press should be. There are occasions when clues are really clever only when you know the answer.

    Anyway, thanks again Shed.

  28. don says:

    I know it’s late (probably too late), but it’s great when the setter comes on and comments – so I’d like to add my thanks to Shed, both for taking an interest in us poor solvers and for a great crossword.

    Please, please, Ciaran, no ratings! It will get like that other blog where everyone finishes in the same number of minutes that it usually takes me hours. But then, the pleasure is longer lasting when you take your time.

  29. smutchin says:

    Liz – it’s not so long ago that I would have struggled to get even half of the solutions to this one, so keep plugging away and you’ll definitely do better next time (or maybe the time after that!).

    Shed – to echo everyone else, thanks for the feedback – and thanks for a very enjoyable puzzle. Hope you didn’t take my comment about the question mark being in the “wrong” place as a criticism – the quote marks around “wrong” were to imply that yes, there’s nowhere else the question mark could have gone.

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