Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 24,693 – Gordius

Posted by manehi on May 7th, 2009


Found most of this straightforward, but did have to check the definitions of 10, 24 and 27. Particularly liked 12.

10 OBAN “anything goes” => O i.e. zero BAN
11 CHEAPSKATE C=”many”, KATE=”a girl” around HEAPS
12 PLEDGE cryptic def, “from” needs to be read as “as a result of”. Referring to the pledge of abstinence from alcohol.
13 ICE SHEET IT around (cheese)*
14 SANGFROID G=gravity in (Diorfans)*
16 CENSE sounds like “sense”
17 AMISS AMIS (Martin or Kingsley) + S[outh]
19 PERIPHERY (piper)* + HER + Y=unknown
23 GRIMALDI The princes of Monaco and Joseph Grimaldi, a clown
24 FLOSSY can mean showy or be short for Florence, F[amil]Y around LOSS
27 IRID Any plant of the iris family. I + RID=free
28 STERILE (sirelet)*
29 ALIMENT (entail M)*
2 LOBELIA anagram of I.E.=that’s and [g]LOBAL
3 MINED rev(DENIM) &lit
4 NUCLEAR NU the Greek letter, CLEAR=patent
6 OSPREY (posterity)* minus TIT
8 ACTRESS referring to the the phrase “as the actress said to the bishop” that sometimes follows a double entendre
9 FEMININE WILES (meinlinewifes)*
15 GASOMETER (some great)* &lit
18 MERCHET MEET around R[ight] CH[urch]
21 RUSSIAN RUN around (asis)*
22 GLOBAL GLOB A L=learner plate

21 Responses to “Guardian 24,693 – Gordius”

  1. Eileen says:

    Thanks for the blog, Manehi.

    Hurrah – a Gordius that I really liked! Some really clever clues, with great surfaces eg 1,11ac, 4, 7, 15, 18, [lovely play on ‘fine’] 20dn.

    It took longer than it should have, though: I could see 14ac was an anagram but culdn’t immediately get it, then, when I came to 15dn – [ a great &lit, either way!] – I immediately thought ‘mega’ and found MEGASTORE fitted, so confidently put it in. Of course, that messed up 14ac’s anagram and held me up for ages!

  2. Chris says:

    That’s a very good point about 15dn – “megastore” is at least as good an answer as “gasometer”. I assume that wasn’t spotted be either the editor or setter as that shouldn’t happen really.

  3. Dave Ellison says:

    8d Great clue – only regret is I couldn’t get it, given the difficulty with 16a.

    Enjoyed the Gordius as ususal

  4. manehi says:

    Eileen, I missed the play on “fine” in 18 completely, so thanks for pointing it out – I often miss the nicer points of clues when I’ve got a few checking letters and can more or less just put the answer in, which is a shame. At least those same checkers prevented me from considering MEGASTORE ;)

  5. smutchin says:

    Hate to be a dissenter but I don’t like 15d at all. If it’s supposed to be &lit, the definition is far too vague. And because it’s so vague, I agree with Chris that MEGASTORE is at least as good a solution – probably better (except that it doesn’t fit with the checking letters, of course).

    Also, in 19a, I would say that “marginal” (or “being marginal” if you prefer) defines PERIPHERAL but not PERIPHERY. Or am I missing something there?

    Mostly good, though.

  6. Hughie says:

    I only got a handful of these compared to the last Gordius (which remains my only 100% completion so far). At least I understood most of the rationale behind the clues when I had to reveal the answers – and with this blog of course. Initially I thought I was going to draw a complete blank, but then got a few.

    Funnily enough , SANGFROID and GASOMETER where the first two that I got.

  7. Testy says:

    Smutchin, I’m with you on the PERIPHERY and agree with others that the supposed &lit definition of 15D was just too vague.

    In 16A can someone explain the relevance of “For the old”

    In 26A where’s the definition. Is it just “it”? In which case it’s extremely vague. It can’t be an &lit because brewers don’t make white bread do they? What am I missing?

    Where’s the anagram indicator in 9D?

  8. John says:

    What’s “proverbial” about bishops and actresses, (or art mistresses and gardeners for that matter)?
    “Odium” isn’t blame, it’s hatred, isn’t it?
    In 9 dn, if “skills” is the anagrind, it’s poor.
    I’m missing the play on “fine”. A “merchet” (new to me and archaic) appears to be the payment made to the lord of the manor on the marriage of a tenant’s daughter, and is therefore the definition. Where’s the play?
    Otherwise not bad for a Gordius.

  9. Testy says:

    Proverbial because, as Manehi points out, “as the actress said to the bishop” is a phrase often used following a suggestive remark.

    Regarding MERCHET, apparently it was viewed as a fine for getting married (supposedly to compensate the lord for his loss of droit de seigneur) hence a “bride’s fine” (where the “‘s” is possessive) but the surface is intended to mean that the people are assembling at the curch to make sure that the “bride is fine”.

  10. liz says:

    Thanks for the blog. I also liked this Gordius better, but I agree with Smutchin re PERIPHERY.

    I managed to get MERCHET from the wordplay, but had to consult Chambers for the def. I’m assuming this isn’t a new word for some of you — it was for me!

    Got one letter wrong — I had IRIS for 27ac. IRID is also a new word for me.

    I also played around with MEGA…but saw GASOMETER after a while.

  11. Agentzero says:

    Add me to the list of people who quickly and confidently put in MEGASTORE.

    Testy, in 16ac I thought the setter meant that CENSE is an old word meaning to create smoke in church. But I have a question about the definition: sense = reasonable?

    Another question: what is “say” doing in the middle of the anagram fodder in 7dn (“Sheba, say, and king she,” from which we are supposed to get SHEBA K SHE)? Not appropriate in the cryptic reading and not necessary to the surface reading.

    My favourite clue was 1ac (count me among those who like clues that ask you to split a compound word), which I understood as “Like the fire/bird, nothing less.”

  12. Geoff says:

    Much more of a decent challenge than recent Gordius puzzles, with some tricky anagrams that held me up for a while (including SANGFROID and GASOMETER – I didn’t spot the alternative).

    9dn is one of those quasi &lits that don’t really parse properly: the nearest is perhaps ‘getting [fodder] skills are needed’, in which the whole of the clue apart from the anagram fodder is a rough anagrind. It’s non-Ximenean, to be sure, but the solution is pretty incontrovertible once found.

    19ac: Strictly, the synonym for ‘marginal’ is certainly PERIPHERAL, but a PERIPHERY can be described as marginal, just as a ‘margin’ is peripheral; the ‘being’ is presumably used here to glide between the adjective and the target noun. Again, distinctly libertarian, as expected from the (other) good Rev.

  13. JimboNWUK says:

    I’d say that “wife’s” was doing double duty in 9D as part of the anagrind and part of the def… “wife’s skills”

    I’d like a bit of expansion on “for the old” in 16A as well as Testy.
    I liked 8D when I got it as it made me smile… usually only Big P’s clues do that.

  14. Testy says:

    Thanks for that Agentzero. My dictionary didn’t flag it as archaic.

    Re 7D I think that this should actually be parsed as K+SHE in (SHEBA)* and “say” is the (dubious in my opinion) anagram indicator and “entertained” is the container indicator.

    I didn’t think too hard about sense=reasonable at the time but looking at it now I agree with you.

  15. Eileen says:

    Re 16ac: I, too, assumed that ‘cense’ was archaic but, now that I look it up, none of my dictionaries bears that out.

    I agree with Geoff about 9 and 19dn. and with John about ODIUM meaning hatred – but Chambers gives ‘blame’ as the third meaning.

    I agree with Testy about the parsing of 7dn, which had slipped my notice in the blog.

  16. Agentzero says:

    Testy, thanks for clearing up the parsing of 7dn; I think you are right. I’m afraid it doesn’t make me like the clue any better, though. I just can’t see “say” as an anagrind.

  17. Geoff says:

    Like some other correspondents, I didn’t demur at CENSE being clued as ‘for the old’ because it seemed distinctly old-fashioned to me, but it does seem the case that none of the usual dictionaries classify it as an archaic word. Deciding when a word is officially archaic cannot be an easy call for the lexicographer; words tend to slide into rarer and rarer usage, rather than being totally supplanted by neologisms.

    Of course, incense is used less often in British churches than was formerly the case. And, as a clergyman himself, Gordius perhaps has a better feeling than most for the currency of the word.

  18. Jake says:

    I rather like Gordius puzzles, 10ac, & 14ac were, at first look, a start point for me. There’s a couple I’ve not fully figured, but, everybody differs with solutions & ways to de-code them.
    Any who. Great fun.

    I totally agree Eileen and all.

    This was a great puzzle, as Guardian usually is……..

    thanks for the posting Manehi.

  19. Polecat says:

    Re 19a PERIPHERY

    The 2003 edition of Chambers includes this entry for MARGINAL:
    n anything in or on a margin, esp a marginal constituency

    If “anything” goes, a PERIPHERY would be a MARGINAL.

  20. James Lyon says:

    I found this a pretty difficult puzzle. I only got a small few, really, although I did solve 21d by thinking the answer was a sound-a-like: Runabout = RUSHING / RUSSIAN.

  21. smutchin says:

    Polecat – thanks for that. I hadn’t thought of it that way, but “a marginal” in the sense of shorthand for “a marginal constituency” is fair enough. I vaguely recall there being some discussion about a similar kind of adjectival noun in a different puzzle quite recently.

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