Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 24,684/Arachne

Posted by Andrew on April 27th, 2009


A non-Rufus Monday with a puzzle from Arachne that I found quite hard going, with some very involved wordplay. There are a couple of clues that I still don’t understand, but I’m sure commenters will soon point out how obvious they are..

dd = double definition
* = anagram
< = reverse

8. ALOE VERA E (last letter of CHOSE) in A LOVER (one who likes). Subtle wording here.
9. APOGEE GE (code for Georgia the country – the American state is GA) in A POE.
10. PERM Hidden in (CommunisM REPortedly)< – easy wordplay, but using the fact that the Russian city of Perm was renamed Molotov between 1940 and 1957 for the definition is just a bit obscure.
11. GINGERSNAP It’s a biscuit, and Geri (Halliwell) is (or was) “Ginger Spice”, but I don’t get the rest.
12. BUSTLE BUST + L + (m)E . I suppose M = “supply of money” as in the economic measures M3 etc. “Augmentation of bottom” is an amusing definition, and the surface reading is good.
15. SARKOZY OZ in SARKY. First of three clues containing “president”, used in different ways in each.
17. UNLUCKY UNPLUCKY less P(resident)
24. FAKE FAKE=”doctor” – and what?
25. JIGSAW JIG (=”bob”) + SAW (grasped)
2. TERM TERM(inal)
3. MEAGRE Hidden in (“nursed” by) lissoME AGREeable.
6. CONSTITUTE (IT’S NOT)* in (boxed by) CUTE (clever)
7. REPAIR dd
18. KNOCKOUT KNOCK OUT – a batman’s innings is sometimes called a knock, as in “he had a good knock”
21. HEROIC HE (helium) + aRgOn Is + C(loudy)
22. PANAMA PA + (A MAN)<
24. FORT Homophone of “Fought” – with apologies to those with rhotic accents.

38 Responses to “Guardian 24,684/Arachne”

  1. C G Rishikesh says:

    My take on

    Joe and Geri pretty much take the biscuit! (10)

    Joe – GI (general Issue, term for US solider) cf GI Joe
    Geri pretty much – GER(-i)
    take – SNAP
    biscuit – def

  2. C G Rishikesh says:

    In the above ‘and’ gives ‘n’ (as in rock ‘n’ roll)

  3. Andrew says:

    Thanks Rishi – I was so convinced about Ginger Spice that I missed seeing GER(i) in the answer.

  4. NeilW says:

    Thanks for the bog, Andrew, on what seemed pretty tough for a Monday!
    24 across I think is Left “hand” out of “flake” – shaving.

  5. Eileen says:

    Bravo and thanks, Andrew! I thought this was really tough – it ought to please those who think Rufus is too easy for a Monday!

    12: I read this as BUST LE[ft me] and, with the help of Google, find that FTME is Financial Technologies Middle East – which sounds like a supply of money?

  6. Gaufrid says:

    Hi Andrew
    Your parsing of 12a is correct so there is no need for the ‘I suppose’ :-)

    Chambers: M – followed by a number, used to designate the seven categories of money supply in the UK.

  7. Uncle Yap says:

    Andrew, well done
    We had difficulty parsing certain clues like that biscuit and the bottom augmentation (very creative def)

  8. Derek Lazenby says:

    Yup, too tough for me, but all fair enough, except the obscurity already noted. Interestingly, Arachne has also done the Quiptic this week so it will be an interesting comparison to see if he can tone it down as required for those ones.

  9. Geoff says:

    Monday puzzles don’t get much tougher than this one; I had a lot of trouble parsing many of the clues and was left unsure of the wordplay for several (although I did see F(l)AKE).

    I got PERM for 10ac from the def but didn’t see the reversed hidden word!

    Some unusual and interesting tricks, eg ‘sandwiches’ in 8ac to indicate a container, and ‘we’ve’ in 6dn as an ‘equals’ linker.

    I’m not entirely sure that ‘snide’ = SARKY (15ac), and ‘workplace’ for COLLIERY is as loose a def as it gets – fortunately I spotted the possibility of ‘keen’ = CRY right at the beginning.

  10. Arthur says:

    Eurgh. Not Monday fare in my book. Didn’t really enjoy this much with some weird definitions of easy words, and for me it was really just a slog. Even Araucaria did an easy one when he set on Monday last month…

    A lot of the clues are clever in hindsight, but I don’t think I was on anything like the same wavelength as Arachne this morning.

    Also can “eat one’s meals” legitimately be “Take I Teas” – surely you get “Take I’s Teas” if anything (unless I’ve completely miss-parsed)

  11. liz says:

    Thanks for the blog. Found this v hard and would have done on any day! Gave up when my curiosity got the better of my solving ability. 10ac wouldn’t have been out of place on a Saturday.

  12. sidey says:

    Yankee = Y? Really?

    Joe = GI? GI = Joe, possibly.

    Boy = Ollie? Ollie = boy, fine.

    Workplace = Colliery? Colliery = workplace, fine.

    Far too many of these. Not a good puzzle in my opinion.

  13. Andrew says:

    Sidey, I think you’ve got some of your quibbles the wrong way round. The word(s) in the clue define(s) the answer: so boy defines Ollie, workplace defines colliery.

    Y = Yankee in the NATO Phonetic Alphabet, so I think that is fine.

    Arthur: you have to read the “one’s” in “Take one’s meals” as “one has” (i.e. is joined to). A common setter’s trick.

  14. smutchin says:

    Thanks for the blog, Andrew. Cleared up a few queries for me. I can only agree with everyone else that this was unexpectedly tough for a Monday. By the way, I think it’s worth spelling out that the “code” in which GE stands for Georgia is top-level domain names on the worldwide web.

    Re Y=Yankee, I guess the phonetic alphabet isn’t used in crosswords as often as internet domain codes these days.

    Sidey, I have to agree with Andrew – “workplace” is a valid definition of “colliery”, if a little vague, so that’s OK – just. Likewise, “boy” is a definition of “Ollie”, more or less.

  15. Gaufrid says:


    GE is also the IVR for Georgia.

  16. smutchin says:

    Thanks, Gaufrid. (I’m guessing that IVR stands for something like International Vehicle Registration, right?)

  17. cholecyst says:

    I found this difficult too. Did anyone else have “bowsaw” for 25 ac? It fits the clue but doesn’t half make 21d. difficult!

  18. Gaufrid says:

    Correct, sorry I should have explained the abbreviation but I though it was well known.

  19. C & J says:

    Not hard – just obtuse. We had bowsaw too, making heroic impossible.

  20. Tim the Newbie says:

    I was feeling very pleased with myself this morning after a productive weekend almost finishing Saturday’s prize one then came up against this brick wall. Managed to get three clues before glumly making my way here to work out what the blazes was going on and somehow don’t feel much wiser. Gamelan!!!????

  21. Ygor says:

    Can anyone explain the presence of the word “nurse” in 3D?

  22. C G Rishikesh says:

    Re 3dn: As indicated in the blog above, the word ‘nurse’ suggests that the words ‘lissoME AGREeable’ hold the required answer.

  23. Dave Ellison says:

    I was on holiday last week, and managed to finish each of the first three days without recourse to cheatbooks. Todays? What a contrast – only 11 clues completed, after many attempts.

    4d Scots community? Is this fair – would (s)he have used English community for Edgehill, say? in any case, I was looking for Findhorn or something similar.

  24. Phaedrus says:

    A poor puzzle, I thought, relying too often on obscurity to make the clues challenging, rather than cleverness. I got there in the end, but the only real enjoyment for me was the sense of satisfaction in finishing, rather than the delight that can be found from solving a truly creative, witty and imaginative clue. Eh well, can’t please all the people…

  25. Tom Hutton says:

    I couldn’t do this at all in the time available to me and having solved the few I did get, I wasn’t encouraged to do more. For me this was the hardest puzzle, Saturdays included, that I have seen for a long time. Mind you, it’s the asthma season and the brain doesn’t work so well just now.

    Snap for take? I take a photo or I snap someone (just) but I don’t take someone, I take a snap. Urghh.

  26. Derek Lazenby says:

    Wonderful music Tim!

  27. liz says:

    I agree, Derek, gamelan is wonderful! Only reason I’ve heard of it — and heard it — is because of my partner, whose musical tastes are eclectic to say the least. So while I got that clue, I thought ‘oops, this is a bit obscure for a Monday’.

  28. don says:

    Whatever post-rationalisation you give it, that guy on the Independent blog that caused some consternation the other day got the right word for this crossword ‘inner, quiet, sex appeal’!

  29. Dave H says:

    Hi all,
    First blog posted on Saturady so up and running now I hope. As usual I am a day behind as could not start until last night and completed all but 9a this morning. I am in the lets have a harder crossoword on Mondays camp so well and truly satisfied with this although found very tough as previous comments.
    One question re 9a is describing the indicator that A POE goes aroung GE?. I do not think I have come across this before

  30. Kamintone says:

    My life-companion and I are always a day behind, having made it a ritual to complete the previous day’s puzzle with the aid of a bracing cup of coffee before getting up to face the day. This morning, for the first time ever, we gave up in disgust with only ten solutions completed in 48 minutes.

    The worst clue of many weak ones (in our far from humble opinion) was 24a – ‘fake’ as a definition of ‘doctor’? ‘Hand’ to denote an implied ‘L’?? Also we thought the use of ‘nurse’ in 3d was dubious to say the least. The only clue I really like is 16d (but we didn’t get it).

    For the rest, we agree entirely with Phaedrus (comment 24), the only difference in our experience being that we didn’t get there in the end and so found no sense of satisfaction at all.

  31. Barnaby Page says:

    9ac – thanks for the explanation – on realising it was APOGEE I became convinced the writer was (James) AGEE and never saw the much more obvious POE.

    Country codes – GE (and FR and IT and all the others) are in fact ISO codes used for a wide variety of purposes.

  32. mhl says:

    Thanks for the excellent post on this, Andrew – I didn’t envy you blogging this one.

    I’m slightly surprised there weren’t more complaints about the definition in 8 across. “succulent” or “that’s succulent” for ALOE VERA? Very weak, I think.

    I gave up on this one in the end (which is fairly rare nowadays) and looking at the answers I think that was probably wise. I’d never have got KNOCK for “innings”, for example. BANNOCKBURN for “Scots community” is bizarre, as others have pointed out. We got HEROIC, but where’s C for “cloudy” from? It’s not an abbreviation in any of my lists, and the (admittedly old) Chambers I have here doesn’t list it in the abbreviations.

  33. Gaufrid says:

    C as an abbreviation for cloudy is in Chambers (2008).

  34. Andrew says:

    Thanks Mhl – Aloe Vera is a succulent (plant), so “succulent” seems fine as a definition to me.

  35. mhl says:

    Andrew: thanks, I take it back – I’d like to think it’s as much a tribute to a nice surface reading from the setter as my own ineptitude as a solver that I didn’t look that up in the dictionary right in front of me. :(

    Gaufrid: thanks – I’ve added it to this list. Any idea where that’s ever used, though?

  36. Gaufrid says:

    Chambers annotates it as ‘meteorol’, so obviously weather forecasts and the like. I recollect seeing it years ago when I still bought a paper and there was a list (if I remember correctly on the back page next to the crossword) of the weather conditions at various resorts and other locations in the UK. It used ‘s’ for sunny, ‘c’ for cloudy, ‘r’ for rain etc.

  37. Paul (not Paul) says:

    The least satisfying crossword since the last Arachne. I can only echo the complaints of obscure references and tenuous definitions. Apogee is the furthest point of an orbit not the highest – generally. Fake is different from doctor. Is unplucky a real word? And many others.

    I shall seek out an old crossword the next time Arachne comes up.

  38. KG says:

    I’m with Phaedrus and Kamintone on this one.

    I used to play in a quiz league where the quality of the question setting could vary. As a general rule, if nobody in either team knew the answer, the question probably shouldn’t have been set. When the answer was revealed and the consensus was ‘who cares?’, the question definitely didn’t belong in the quiz.

    I feel a bit like that about this puzzle – was it worth it?

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