Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 24,709 / Gordius

Posted by Eileen on May 26th, 2009


I’m really getting to like Gordius! In the past, I have found him rather lacking in [my sort of] humour but I thought there were some really witty clues here and I enjoyed it a lot.  There’s something of a drinking theme going on.

[ ]*  anagram
[ ] < reversal


8   LITOTES: TOT [referring to gin] in LIES [‘pork pies’, Cockney rhyming slang]
13  URGES: cleverly hidden in oUR GEStation – nice surface
16  NEW DEALER: cryptic definition for anagram of ‘leader’ – a reference to Roosevelt’s ‘New Deal’ on his inauguration in 1933, in response to the Great Depression, making it a clever &lit.
23  ALDWYCH: neat homophone of ‘old witch’
24  SHASTRA: SH ASTRA; Hindu holy writing
26  TERCENTENARY: [RECENT NET]* A RY: lovely surface. 18th September 2009 is Samuel Johnson’s 300th birthday


  ATTENDS: A T[eacher] TENDS
3   DISMISSAL: DI’S MISSAL. I liked this one
4   NUDGE: G[irl] in [the] NUDE
5   CAMPION: double definition: the wild flower and St Edmund Campion, English Jesuit priest, martyred in 1581
10  COTES DU RHONE: [END COURT SHOE]* I thought the clue was something of a slur on Rhône wine-growers!
15  VERSATILE: [TAIL]* ‘in verse’ – one of those love / hate clues; I liked it
18  ELASTIC: cryptic definition
20  ROYALTY: cryptic definition

34 Responses to “Guardian 24,709 / Gordius”

  1. Chunter says:

    Thanks, Eileen

    10dn: reminds me of the Goats Do Roam wine that got up the noses of French winemakers a few years ago.

    3dn: I thought that ‘volume’ might be ‘1L’ or ‘IL’ and that the answer was [MASS IL]*, but I’m sure yours is the intended interpretation – for one thing there’s no anagrind.

  2. Dave Ellison says:

    Thanks, Eileen. I am pleased you are being gradually converted – I have been supporting G. for his last few outings (and longer).

    25a Whilst I got this, the explanation eluded me. I was trying “slu” (endless slur). I had thought earlier on it might be another word for “slur”, but couldn’t bring one to mind.

  3. don says:

    Thanks for the blog Eileen, but could you explain 8 across. What’s the definition? I put ‘pedosta’ for 19 down and I don’t understand 19 across.

  4. Eileen says:

    Hi don

    8ac: the definition is ‘figure’ [of speech]

    19ac: PERDU = ‘lost': D[ied] in PERU

  5. Chunter says:

    Hi don,

    8ac: ‘figure’ is the definition (‘litotes’ is a figure of speech).
    19dn: it’s ‘podesta’ (Italian for ‘governor’), not ‘pedosta’.
    19ac: ‘perdu’ is French for ‘lost’.

    Hope this helps.

  6. don says:

    Thanks Eileen, thanks Chunter. I got the ‘foreign land’ = ‘Peru’ and ‘d’ as the abbreviation for ‘died’, but I don’t speak ‘foreign’ (French or Italian) and ‘figure’ = ‘figure of speech’ sounds a bit foreign pidgin English. As does ‘mass volume’ for ‘missal’.

    I usual enjoy Cotes du Rhone as an inexpensive wine, but wouldn’t describe it as plonk, but ‘plonk’ = ‘wine’ seems acceptable in a crossword puzzle.

  7. NealH says:

    I thought 1 across was a bit strange. What exactly is it supposed to mean ? Is it gin* in “board card” where “board card” is a synonym for cardboard ?

  8. Eileen says:

    Hi NealH

    I wasn’t really sure about this one, either!

  9. liz says:

    Hi Eileen. Thanks for the blog. I enjoyed this too, but it took me awhile. The last two I got were 8ac and 1dn. For a long time I was trying to make something out of ‘Boeing’ as the airline…

    I liked 26ac and 14ac.

    re 1ac — I took ‘container’ to indicate that ‘cardboard’ should contain gin* in some way. I didn’t see ‘board card’ as a synonym for cardboard.

  10. Dave Ellison says:

    Don #6: 3d – I was trying to explain an extra m for mass, until I realised a missal is a book used in a mass

  11. Ciaran McNulty says:

    Thanks for the blog Eileen,

    I think ‘land’=PERU, leaving ‘foreign’ free to be part of the def ‘Lost in foreign’, otherwise it’d be doing double duty.

  12. don says:

    Yes, Ciaran, I thought that myself, but ‘lost in foreign’ only adds to the horrible pidgin English of this puzzle.

  13. Eileen says:

    Thanks for that, Ciaran – but I’m going to disagree. :-) The clue is ‘in *a* foreign country’ [I don’t like ‘in foreign’, anyway] and I’ve avoided mentioning this so far but PERDU is in Chambers!

  14. Eileen says:

    ‘in a foreign land’, I mean, of course.

  15. Derek Lazenby says:

    Ahah! Eileen mentioned Chambers! That should be my cue for saying something. But it isn’t. Didn’t need Chambers!

    Thought I was going to struggle with this one when I only got a couple of acrosses in the first scan. Then I got a shed load of downs on the first pass, so I got there in the end. It didn’t raise me to 21ac, but it was pleasant enough.

    The on-line Grauniad effect popped up again. How can any proof reader let GUINEESS get through the net? It’s not exactly a rarity is it?

  16. rrc says:

    3d dis missa l for girls mass volume

  17. Ian Stark says:

    Hello all. Briefly back but then disappearing again :(

    Like you, Eileen, I am getting into Gordius more and more. Lots of wonderful ‘ah, of course’ moments in this one, and plenty of new words (but how to drop them into conversation? “Oh no, I’ve perdu my Shastra”).

    16a was brilliant; 7d was lovely, although I would giggled more at ‘Actor caught short between drinks’.

    Best to all here.

  18. Eileen says:

    How nice to hear from you again, Ian – and I think your suggestion for 7dn is superb!

  19. Sil van den Hoek says:

    Indeed, nice puzzle.
    Only a (minor) pity that I saw RETSINA recently being clued in a similar way.
    In the FT (March 16) Mudd/Paul/John gave us:
    Drink with which container topped up,
    while Goridus came up with:
    Wine container with top off overturned.
    Well, never mind.

  20. Eileen says:

    rrc, I don’t fully understand your interpretation of 3dn – but I’m sticking by mine. [I seem to be in ‘disagreeable’ mode today :-)]

    Pace don’s ‘pidgin English’ complaint, I think ‘mass volume’ is a great clue for ‘a book containing the prayers, rites, etc of the Masses for a complete year’ [Collins, for a change].

    It’s 1ac that has been preoccupying me all day and I still haven’t got very far. I had originally thought of it as [GIN]* – indicated by ‘served’ – in BOARD CARD but wondered why there was no indication of reversal. I now see it could be BO [GIN CARD]* ARD – but then we need another anagram indicator. I hope perhaps someone who’s been hard at work all day might be able to shed some light!

  21. Eileen says:

    Hi Sil

    A quick trawl through the archives produced a fistful of clues involving RETSINA, apart from the one you mentioned [I knew it sounded very familiar!]: anagram of Stainer; reversed hidden word; ‘wine delivered in topless metal box, which is to be returned’ [24169, Audreus]; ‘Ruminater’s drink’ [24056, Taupi – really audacious!] and [indirect] ‘case of wine sent up to college’ [24542, Rufus]

  22. stiofain says:

    Im not usually a Gordius fan but quite enjoyed this, Ian that is a good improvement to 7dn also I remember him being clued as ACTOR WITH GENUINE CLASS (anag)

  23. beermagnet says:

    I prefer rrc’s deconstruction of 3D:
    Di’s (girl’s) missa (mass) L[itre] (volume)
    if only because I’m more familiar with weights and measures than religious flim-flam (but I do like music such as the Missa Solemnis).
    I couldn’t see the wordplay at all for that one when I did the crossy.

  24. Eileen says:

    Thanks for the clarification, Beermagnet. As you know, I’m a words, rather than a numbers person, and I’ve never come across L = volume. And I can’t see why ‘missa = mass’ is less ‘religious flim flam’ than ‘missal = mass service book’. So, I’m sticking with my interpretation. :-)

    Now, if you could just give me a satisfactory explanation of 1ac … [What a pity Gordius, up to now, at least, is not one of those setters who drop in to put us out of our misery!]

  25. dagnabit says:

    Thanks for the blog, Eileen. I was able to get everything today but 24ac, not knowing either the Hindu text or the auto – not a bad result, I think, for a first day back after a four-day weekend.

    My take on 1ac was simply [gin]* inside a container made from the letters of the word “cardboard.”

  26. Sil van den Hoek says:

    …and that’s what it’s probably is.
    Very unsatisfying, ‘board-card’ as an anagram of card-board’.
    I must admit: the clue as a whole sounds really smooth.
    But why does (any)one make such an anagram?
    Just swapping left and right.
    Well, maybe, Gordius likes to provoke.
    Never seen that before, so: accepted, but ‘don’t believe you’.

  27. liz says:

    Dagnabit — that’s what I was trying to get at earlier re 1ac. Yet I don’t see it as an anagram per se, simply the two words ‘card’ and ‘board’ containing gin*. Unsatisfying perhaps, but the only clue that niggled (and it really didn’t niggle me very much).

  28. Eileen says:

    Dagnabit / Sil / Liz: I think I’ve reluctantly come to the same conclusion: that’s all there is. [But where’s the anagram indicator? – I still think there should be one, Liz!] Thanks, all, anyway.

  29. Dagnabit says:

    Sorry, Liz, I meant to cite you as my predecessor but clicked “Submit” too quickly. Eileen, you’re right that the indicator is missing – another reason I disliked this clue. And Sil, I agree with you about the unsatisfactory nature of simply swapping left and right. Similarly, it also bothers me when an anagram differs from its source by the placement of only one letter, yet the setter doesn’t mention this but instead just uses a standard anagram indicator – very lazy! (Admittedly, I see this mainly in U.S. cryptics…)

  30. Mezzle says:

    I agree with Dangnabit et al. 1ac is simply [GIN]* (indicated by ‘served’ in a container of ‘cardboard’) – which I saw as a wrap-round container, hence no second anag indicator.
    But 1ac was my fist in so I may be biased in its favour.

    Two clues that slightly grated me were 6(RESTINA) and 25 (INSULIN).
    Thought the modified substitutions cANISTER and INSULt were too close to words in the clue itself.

    Hence I solved them as con[TAINER]* + random S?; [SUL*]r + IN +(extra IN?)
    I knew these were wrong as they lacked anag indicators, but they fitted the definition and the checking letters – but it annoyed me until I came here to check the ‘correct’ interpretation.

    This frustration and short-cutting could be avoided with some slightly more abstract susbtituttions, and still retain the surface reading and stop slackers like me guessing from the letters on the page.

    eg Case with top off = cANISTER; Endless pain = INSULt (verb)


  31. Ciaran McNulty says:

    Eileen – ah I didn’t have the crossword to hand, you’re right. Very surprised to find PERDU as an English word!

  32. Eileen says:

    Hi Ciaran

    I was surprised, too – but then I never cease to be amazed at what’s in there!

  33. Ygor says:

    I hope there’s still someone out there who can answer a latecomer’s question. I can’t understand why the “… …” connection between 1A and 8A. Is “boarding card” somehow a figure of speech that I am missing?

  34. Eileen says:

    Hi Ygor

    The connection between the two clues is ‘Gin’, a tot being ‘a little of it’. You’ll realise we all had problems [still not resolved] with the rest of it!

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