Fifteensquared

Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 24,685 – Chifonie

Posted by Uncle Yap on April 28th, 2009

Uncle Yap.

dd = double definition
cd = cryptic definition
rev = reversed or reversal
ins = insertion
cha = charade
ha = hidden answer
*(fodder) = anagram

After that Monday puzzle yesterday, this one seemed quite smooth and easy-going.

ACROSS
1 CHEMIST Ins of MI (note) in CHEST (crate)
5 PLOTTER Ins of L (left or sinister) in POTTER (snooker player) I wonder whether it is legitimate or Ximenean to indicate L by sinister
It’s, in my opinion, indirect and unfair
9 AMEND Ins of M (mark) in A End (a scotch as in scotch/end the initiative). Beautiful surface; I’ll drink to that :-)
10 AGREEMENT Ins of MEN (people) in A GREET (A welcome)
11 SEPULCHRAL *(Purcell has)
12 PLOT Cha of P (pence or coppers) LOT (share)
14 CONNOISSEUR *(Nero’s cousin) Nice def
18 AGENT ORANGE Cha of A (one) GEN (knowlesdge) TO RANGE (classify)
What misery was inflicted on the people of Vietnam by this devil’s weapon.
21 PEER Quite a quaint dd
22 MARGUERITE Ins of ARGUE (dispute) in *(term I)
25 PROMOTION dd
26 ARGOT Cha of AR (Arab) GOT (understood)
27 STEEPLY Ins of P (parking) in STEELY (determined)
28 ERECTOR Simple charade

DOWN
1 COARSE Sounds like course (lessons)
2 EXEMPT EX (old) EMPT (y)
3 INDELICATE Ins of EL (Spanish definite article) in INDICATE (show)
4 TRASH T (first letter of team) RASH (spots)
5 PORTADOWN Port (drink) A Down (drink) Give me a Guinness anytime
6 OBEY OBE (Order of the British Empire, honour) Y (Yankee, as yesterday)
7 THE BLUES dd
8 ROTATORY Cha of ROT (corrupt) A Tory (a politician)
13 ASSEVERATE Cha of ASS (fool) EVER (always) ATE (scoffed) A word new to me but will I ever need to use it?
15 NORMALITY *(Royal Mint)
16 BAGPIPES Ins of PIPE (barrel) in BAGS (how this is scans escapes me)
17 PENELOPE What a delightful yet simple charade of pen & elope
19 FIDGET *(gifted)
20 DEBTOR Rev of ROT (rubbish) BED (litter)
23 GENRE Cha of GEN (low-down) RE (on)
24 LOOP Rev of POOL (bank)

38 Responses to “Guardian 24,685 – Chifonie”

  1. Andrew says:

    Thanks Uncle Yap. As you say, definitely a change for the easier after yesterday.

    I wasn’t too worried at the time about L=sinister, but I suppose it is a bit indirect, though not too hard. It’s strange that we had PLOTTER and PLOT in the same puzzle, and close together in the grid. There are other words that match ?L?T – FLAT, SLOT, CLOT for example – so I wonder why Chifonie chose PLOT, and why the editor let it through.

  2. Eileen says:

    Good morning, Uncle Yap – and thanks.

    16dn: the answer is PANPIPES: PANS = ‘scans’.

  3. Gaufrid says:

    Re 14a. In today’s FT 13d is “Expert judge Nero’s cousin corrupted (11)”. Coincidence?

  4. cholecyst says:

    16dn. Well done Eileen. I too couldn’t fathom bagpipes.

    20 dn. debtor = insolvent is pushing it a bit

  5. Arthur says:

    Thank God for this following yesterday’s hell! Some nice surfaces throughout, and even if perhaps not the most playful puzzle ever, it was certainly fair.

    Agree re plot and plotter; v odd

  6. don says:

    Thanks for your as-usual, comprehensive blog, Uncle Yap – do you really need 9 across for encouragement. I don’t know how one can complain about L = sinister after yesterday’s awfully clued ragbag of obscurities.

  7. chunter says:

    11ac: Very good! Nobody does melancholy (or indeed sepulchral-ness) like Henry Purcell (the 350th anniversary of whose birth is being celebrated this year). I’ve been trying, unsuccessfully, to track down a downloadable performance of his ‘Beneath a dark and melancholy grove’ (Sappho’s complaint)’.

  8. liz says:

    Thanks for the blog. BAGPIPES eluded me — I kept thinking ‘scans’ = ‘cats’, which gave me ‘catpipes’.

    I didn’t get SEPULCHRAL either. I was looking for a German term, don’t ask me why.

    I also wondered about PLOTTER and PLOT. I’ve always understood you shouldn’t have the same word twice in a crossword and they are pretty similar and close in the grid.

    L for sinister didn’t worry me, possibly because I’m lefthanded.

    Some of the surfaces were nice. I liked PENELOPE.

  9. Eileen says:

    I didn’t think twice about sinister but perhaps it is rather indirect.

    Less obvious than plot / plotter, we also had GEN: [knowledge / low-down] twice.

  10. mhl says:

    Thanks for the post, Uncle Yap. This was good fun today, and fair throughout, I thought. (As with others, “sinister” rather jumped out at me, so I didn’t have a problem with it.)

    cholecyst: I think DEBTOR is fine – you can say that someone is an insolvent, although admittedly it’s much less common than the adjectival use.

  11. C G Rishikesh says:

    Uncle Yap,

    I 13d that you may probably have had chances to use words such as 28a in your everyday conversation…

  12. cholecyst says:

    MHL: “I think DEBTOR is fine – you can say that someone is an insolvent, although admittedly it’s much less common than the adjectival use.”

    Yes I know. What I meant was that if you are a debtor (like most of us, I guess)) that doesn’t necessarily make you insolvent (like very few of us,I hope!)

  13. don says:

    Comment 10/20 down

    I have money owing on my credit card and therefore I have a debt to pay and hence I’m a ‘debtor’. I don’t think I’m insolvent, though, and hence I don’t think I’m an ‘insolvent’. Can you really equate the two? Anyway, it didn’t detract from an enjoyable crossword.

  14. Geoff says:

    Nice puzzle, and easier than yesterday’s, although I held myself up in places by misparsing the clue (eg thinking that ‘girl’ was part of a charade and not the def in 17dn!).

    ASSEVERATE was one of my first entries – lovely word and not unfamiliar to me, though I don’t ever remember having used it myself.

    Re 5ac, I do not consider ‘sinister’ = L to be a problem at all. The counterpart would presumably be ‘Dexter’ = R, as these are the words to denote left and right in heraldry (confusingly, from the point of view of the person wielding the shield, not the observer, cf ‘stage left’). This is surely less indirect than ‘hand’ = L or R, which often crops up without eliciting comment.

  15. Dave H says:

    Finished the same day for once. Gave up on 23d as I incorrectly had Promoting for 25a and folowed suit with Bagpipes for 16d

  16. mhl says:

    cholecyst: sorry for misunderstanding you – you’re quite right. It could have had a “perhaps?” at at the end of the clue without spoiling it, I think. I always have to think a bit before remembering which way round it goes – there should be some cute mnemonic for the rule that more generic in the clue is fine, more specific in the clue needs “perhaps” or “for example”… :)

  17. C.G. Rishikesh says:

    Re similar anagrams in two crosswords today, please see my comment (No. 144) in Chat Room: General Crossword Discussion.

  18. Derek Lazenby says:

    OK, I’m confused, I’m on the wrong side! I can’t see why sinister is indirect, let alone too indirect. And just to restore normality, I wasn’t happy with pipe=barrel.

    I can see why, for example one might try to help someone visualise a gun barrel as being “a sort of tube or pipe”, but do gunsmiths and shooters ever say pipe in normal conversation? Anybody know? Surely that relationship is indirect, whereas sinister is “by definition”.

    Which is why I’m confused. The wrong one seems to be being discussed! All good fun!

    Glad to see you all settled on PANPIPES eventually, saved me the bother of explaining it.

  19. liz says:

    I think it is ‘pipe’ in the sense of a barrel or cask of wine (two hogsheads, according to Chambers.

  20. sidey says:

    Derek, screw together pipes are properly called barrel. There are gas barrel, water barrel and steam barrel, they can all be zinc or black or japan (small ‘j’).

  21. Derek Lazenby says:

    Nya hah, knew there would be something. Ta people.

    We’d better leave the issue of which is the most obscure to the chat room.

  22. ray says:

    Yes, a much smoother ride than yesterdays. I also got stuck in the BAGPIPES wrong turning – and almost convinced myself I knew why it was that. I was least happy with M representing mark in 9a – I assume it’s a currency abbreviation?

  23. mhl says:

    Ray: that’s right.

  24. Dave Ellison says:

    I agree much easier than yesterdays, but the last 3/4 I found difficult, due to rather unfair clues, in my view. For example, 9a I don’t see that AMEND is “that’s better” – make better perhaps; 21a The A is redundant and thus unfair; similarly 28a ONE is redundant; 2d is EXEMPT = DISCHARGE?

  25. Dave Ellison says:

    Oops! I have just seen 28a – I withdraw that.

  26. dagnabit says:

    Dave, I wonder if “better” is intended as a verb in 9ac, in the sense of “improve”?

  27. Sil van den Hoek says:

    Re 22 & 23:
    Although it is clear to me that in this clue M stands for Mark as a currency, it is, however, a questionable abbreviation.
    In the years before the euro Germans said, for example, ‘this book costs 25 mark’, but they wrote: ’25 DM’.
    The same with the Finnish mark – the official abbreviation was FIM, not M.
    It is a bit the same as taking P for the British Pound, which should be BP (or, of course, the symbol resembling L).
    So, in my opinion, the use (in 9ac) of M for Mark is understandable, but dubious.

  28. Berny says:

    While there was lots of complaints about ‘insolvency’ (with which I agree) no one challenged the use of ‘school’ as a definition for ‘genre’! Just as bad.

  29. Uncle Yap says:

    Thank you for all the comments. Following my failure last week to interprete “latest” as “news”, I failed to spot the musical instrument, panpipes but instead inked in the famous Scottish bagpipes. I should have known my mistake when I couldn’t equate bags with scans.

    However, I still think clueing “sinister” for the letter L is not kosher or halal

  30. mhl says:

    Sil van den Hoek: I was trying to avoid the controversy, since it was late in the day :) According to Wikipedia the abbreviation for the German mark between 1873 to 1914 was just “M”. I would use Unicode 0x2133 (“German Mark currency symbol, before WWII” – an error, apparently) but it won’t come out in the comments…

  31. Monica M says:

    If anyone is still looking at this blog … I have a (probably) dumb question … why does left (L) = sinister???

  32. smutchin says:

    Monica – sinister and dexter are left and right in Latin. Also used in heraldry (as in “bend sinister“), which often crops up in crosswords.

    I would agree with most of the above-mentioned criticisms of this puzzle. However, while sinister=L is indirect, there are degrees of indirectness and that’s definitely at the easier end of the scale, so I have no objection to it myself. To be honest, debtor=insolvent is the only one I really objected to. The other complaints are very minor niggles.

  33. Monica M says:

    Thanks Smutchin … a true indication that I lack a classical education!!!

    I did alright on this despite not getting to it until I was on my way home from work rather late … and was much too tired to venture onto the site.

    And I agree with your comment on insolvent, I thought is was a stretch, but knew it was the correct answer… and at the time really didn’t care too much.

  34. brr says:

    I’m glad Monica asked that question …. I felt a bit daft myself, not knowing.

    Thanks for the information.

  35. Derek Lazenby says:

    I’m still baffled that people crab the use of sinister as indirect.

    Just in terms of directions, point can mean any of NSEW, direction can mean any of those plus LR and nobody says a thing. As a one letter indicator, sinister has only one meaning and is therefore better as it is more accurate.

    And what about a word like boy? That can be any of many boys names, or not even a name at all but a synonym like lad. That can be infuriatingly obscure as to which to choose if you have no cross checks.

    But sinister has one and only one single letter meaning, and that is somehow worse than others which have many? Even as a possible synonym it is no worse than boy or girl etc.

    There are also presumably some short memories out there because I’m damn sure I’ve seen this usage several times and not heard a single comment before.

    Tee hee, how droll. Derek the famous defender of setters! LOL!

  36. Testy says:

    Initially I agreed that sinister did seem indirect (because we have to take two steps to get to L, sinister=left and L is short for left) but I’m coming round to it now. There are many other similar situations where we probably wouldn’t bat an eylid.

    e.g. Novice driver = learner and L is short for learner
    take = recipe and R is short for recipe (here we are more likely to balk at its obscurity rather than its indirectness)

    I think the problem is that we accept these as they have become common crossword cliches whereas the sinister one isn’t (or at least not yet).

  37. Derek Lazenby says:

    Yeah that makes sense, ta.

  38. smutchin says:

    Derek, you’re spot on – there are loads of other examples of this kind of indirectness that crop up over and over without comment. It is technically indirect for the reasons Testy explains, but I admit that didn’t even enter my head until Uncle Yap pointed it out.

    Like Take=R, it’s common enough in crosswords that the indirectness can hardly be deemed to be unfair.

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