Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 24686 / Auster

Posted by mhl on April 29th, 2009


I really enjoyed this one; quite easy on the whole and only a few quibbles.

9. REDUNDANT (UNDER)* + D = “German” + ANT = “worker”
10. LEACH Homonym of “leech”; I had this the wrong way round at first, which caused a bit of a hold-up…
11. MEANING MEAN = “base” + IN + G[uatemala]
12. PLATOON PLAN = “Plot” around TOO = “also”
13. AFIRE IF in ERA all reversed
14. ALABASTER A LAB = “a research area” + ASTER = “bloomer”
16. WITH BATED BREATH WITH BAT = “As Kevin Pietersen came down the pavilion steps” (!) + (BREATHED)*; it’s a shame that BREATH is in the clue and the answer
19. REGISTRAR RARER reversed around GIST = “point”
21. LHASA LA = “French article” around HAS
22. TRIUMPH Double definition
23. TABLETS LETS = “Gives permission” after BAT reversed; I’m not quite convinced about the definition – “pads” and TABLETS are both blocks that you write on, but distinct, I think. Update: Eileen points out below that recent editions of Chambers have “a pad of writing paper [orig US]” as one definition of tablet.
24. KORAN Hidden answer
25. VIBRATION VI = “Six” + RATION = “helping” around B[uildings]
1. CRIMEAN WAR CRIME = “Wrongdoing” + ANWAR = “revealed by Sadat”
2. IDEALIST IDEA = “thought” + LIST = “catalogue”
3. ENDIVE END = “to finish” + I’VE
4. GANG GANG[way]
5. STEPLADDER (SPELT)* + ADDER = “calculator”
7. RAGOUT I think this is a reverse anagram: “RAG OUT” is GAR
14. AFTERSHAVE AFTERS = “dessert” + HAVE; not favoured by all menfolk, though :)
15. REHEARSING HEAR = “Listen” in (SINGER)*
18. ACADEMIC AC = “Bill” + (MADE)* + I = “one” + C = “Conservative”
21. LIBYAN LIB = “party” + (ANY)*
22. TAKE Double definition; TAKE is the English translation for the Latin word “recipe” (imperative of “recipere”), which apparently used to be seen at the top of prescriptions abbreviated as “R”. Not knowing Latin or ever having seen that on a prescription, this is highly crossword-specific information for me…
23. TUBE Double definition; “test TUBE”

26 Responses to “Guardian 24686 / Auster”

  1. Testy says:

    It’s funny that I’d only just finished making a comment on another thread about the obscurity of “take”=”recipe” before tackling this one.

    Does anyone else have objections to “story” in 17d as opposed to “storey”?

  2. Eileen says:

    Thanks for the blog, mhl. I enjoyed this too – but did just the same as you with 10ac. These homophone clues are often ambiguous!

    Our Brisbane friends should be happy today, with the Antipodean setter and two cricket references! [I thought it was generous of Auster to choose Kevin Pietersen as the batsman] It’s a real pity about the ‘breath’ part as it was an ingenious clue.

    Chambers gives tablet as ‘a pad of writing paper [orig US]’ so perhaps it’s common in Australia, too.

    Testy – I checked: ‘story’ is an alternative spelling.

  3. Geoff says:

    Thanks, mhl.

    i found this pretty easy – the puzzles this week seem to be in order of decreasing difficulty, which is the opposite to normal practice.

    Rather a lot of incorporation of words in clues directly into the solutions (16ac is the most egregious), but there are some very good clues dotted about; I especially liked 1dn.

    23ac: A ‘tablet’ can be a writing pad, as well as a more permanent stone structure.

  4. JamieC says:

    Thanks for the blog. Straightforward but enjoyable. I particularly liked 1d. I agree it’s a shame about the double ‘breath’ in 16ac as the idea was very nice.

    Re 10ac, I think it should be clear in a homophone clue which answer goes in the grid. You shouldn’t have to rely on the checking letters. Or am I being too picky?

    Re “take” = “recipe”, “R” or “Rx” is still the standard abbreviation for the treatment recommended in medical notes.

  5. smutchin says:

    Hmm. I don’t mind easy-peasy crosswords when they have the wit of Rufus, but this was all a bit humdrum – plus there were a few irritations, such as the ambiguity in 10a (I waited until I got 7d before filling it in – to be fair, at least the checking letter resolves the ambiguity) and the use of “breathed” in the clue for 16a.

    22d is awful.

  6. smutchin says:

    Testy – yes, story/storey irritated me too.

  7. smutchin says:

    Jamie – no, I don’t think you’re being too picky. It should be clear which is the definition word. You can get away with it if the two homophonous words have different letter counts (ergo it’s obvious which is the one that goes in the grid) but here they have the same letter count, so the distinction in the clue is required.

  8. Derek Lazenby says:

    Well I mainly enjoyed it, which is usually a cue for contra opinions!

    I guessed 22d and was astonished when the Check button left all the letters in the grid.

    I accidently got the right one for 10 ‘cos that was the one last on my mind as it was at the end of the clue! So yeah, maybe an extra hint would have helped, but having not wasted time going down blind alleys I guess that makes me less fussed about it.

    I was trying to think of the alternatives to breathed but of the ones I can think of, breathed reads better, so shrugs shoulders.

    I don’t know what the setter friendly Chambers says, but my dictionary has a hyphen in 5d, so (4-6) not 10.

  9. Monica M says:

    Aaah, Not only is she and antipodean setter, as far as I’m aware she is from Brisbane too.

    I imagine she originally set 16ac as “Donald Bradman”, but that may have been a bit old and non-Brit for the guardian’s solving public 😉

    Writing tablet is known here, but not necessarily in common useage.

    I powered through this as I cut my teeth on Auster (aka Southern Cross) and know the style.

    My greatest dissapointment … no really obscure Oz clue … I was just waitng for another “hump the bluey” moment.

    Also … thanks for the post, thorough as usual … and thanks Smutchin for clearing up my d.q from yesterday

  10. Eileen says:

    Has anyone else noticed that we’ve had two female setters in three days? This must, surely, be a record? Do you think we should expect an outing for Audreus this week?

  11. mhl says:

    Thanks, Eileen – I’ve updated the post for 23a.

    JamieC: interesting to hear that “R” that is still used somewhere… Still, I think if I had the power to outlaw one crossword abbreviation, that would be it. :)

  12. mhl says:

    Eileen: it’s certainly unusual, but there was once a Friday, Monday, and Tuesday run of Plodge (21909), Crispa (21910) and Auster (21911) :)

  13. Eileen says:

    Many thanks for the research, mhll! [You’ve reminded me how much I miss Crispa.]

    Derek, I’m sure you’ve guessed it: no hyphen in Chambers!

  14. Tom Hutton says:

    KP might easily be coming down the steps to take his place in the field or go home or more or less anything. A good idea but somehow a very weak clue.

    I am not sure that Triumph was a car. Triumph was a make of car. The car was a Triumph something-or-other, e.g. Mayflower.

    I think it is too redolent of the exclusivity and clubbiness of the crossworld to expect the person in the armchair to know Latin. However as it was the only reasonable answer, it didn’t much matter.

  15. liz says:

    I agree that the double ‘breath’ in 16ac is a pity. Got 10ac the right way round, so it didn’t bother me. I’m sure I’ve seen other homophone clues which are just as ambiguous (which doesn’t necessarily excuse ambiguity of course).

    ‘Story’ is the US spelling of ‘storey’. I wonder if it’s spelled that way in Australia too?

    Would never have got 22dn were it not for crossword discussions.

  16. Derek Lazenby says:

    Interesting then that if you listen to speech most people sound as though there is a hyphen. They are all wrong of course because Chambers has a hot line to the Pope and cannot therefore be wrong.

  17. Testy says:

    Hoe do you hear a hyphen?

  18. Jon says:

    I know, Testy – it’s difficult over all this bracket.

    Hello all – I’ve been employing this site’s services for quite some time now, but have, until now, not seen fit to make any comments myself. Somewhat pitiful that my debut should be marked with an awful (and off-topic, I might add (please consider that cap duly doffed)) pun, but it will most likely become representative of my future contributions. In any case, many thanks for all the help, elucidation and erudition you’ve provided.

    I raced pretty quickly through today’s Radugina, although I tripped myself up having inexplicably put “test” at 23down.

    A few comments:
    24 – a hidden answer, granted, but not hidden particularly well.
    10 – I agree on the point of homophones requiring some sort of indication. Guessing shouldn’t really be a part of crosswording should it (how often I’ve proved myself wrong on this point)?
    1 down – I did not know of Anwar; eminently gettable with the checking letters though.
    16 across – my favourite clue here, despite the repeated “breath”. Tom – KP could well be dancing a polks down the steps, but he IS known for his being a world class batsman (rather than a spin bowler or wicket keeper, say).

    Thanks again…

  19. Jon says:

    To clarify, while some may dance polks, I intended to paint the Pietersen polka in your mind’s eye.

  20. Jon says:

    Also @Tom (no deliberate barrage here, I promise):
    When Lamborghini released the Diablo, did Lamborghinis stop being cars?

  21. Derek Lazenby says:

    Ridiculous question, but I’ll answer anyway. Say Please. Say Step-ladder. Was there or was there not a difference between the two “pl”s? Are you really speaking English if there wasn’t?

    I wonder where they get their staff from at Chamber’s? If they are paid anything at all, that is too much.

  22. manehi says:

    Thanks for the blog, mhl. Not much to add – I did really like 16 despite the double use, and 1dn was nice too. I remember a school teacher asking my class to treat our paper pads as though they were stone tablets, by which she meant no scribbling, no scrawling and heaven forbid any crossing out…

  23. sidey says:

    Derek, do you ever read your comments before posting them?

    Even when you have a valid point the tone of your posts is unpleasant.

  24. Gaufrid says:

    OK, enough is enough. I don’t want to have to start editing or removing comments.

    Comments #16 and #17 added little value to this post but I was prepared to let them go.

    The first paragraph in your comment #21 could have been worded more politely and your second paragraph is totally unacceptable. By now we all know your views regarding Chambers so there is no need to repeat them at every opportunity, particularly in such a derogatory manner.

    Your comment #23, whilst understandable, is not relevant to the puzzle under discussion and is therefore off-topic. Derek’s recent comments, until the last couple, have been quite reasonable in tone so please stop having a go at him. If anyone needs to be warned about inappropriate comments, tone etc I will do it.

  25. Jim says:

    I once owned (in the USA) a Triumph Mayflower, but I think the manufacturing company was something like Standard Motorcar. They also made sports cars -TR7 or something like that.

  26. Mike Laws says:

    I’m surprised that no one’s picked up on the fact that “D” (1 across) may be indicated by “Germany”, but not “German”.

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