Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 24,748 / Chifonie

Posted by Andrew on July 10th, 2009


Nothing too troublesome in this one, with quite a few easy anagrams to get me started. One or two quibbles about meanings noted below.

dd = double definition
* = anagram

1. PIRACY PI + RACY. Pi=”relationship” is a common trick that has been discussed at length here before.
4. ANUBIS NUB in A IS. Anubis is from Egyptian mythology.
9. BURN dd – “smart” (vb) as in “hurt”; and a Scottish stream (“runner”)
10. RESTRAINED STRAIN in REED. Woodwind instruments are often generically referred to as “reeds”, especially in band ans show music, though of course the term would exclude flutes.
15. BERG R in BEG. I initially wanted to put BIRD here, despite knowing that the composer was William BYRD.
16. GLOW G + LOW
21. HANDICAP HAND I CAP. I represents electric current, for example in Ohm’s Law V = IR.
25. GEAR Hidden in quick-chanGE ARtist. Slang for drugs.
27. MANTLE NT (new Testament) in MALE
1. PRUDISH PR + U(pset) + DISH
3. CHRONIC R ON in CHIC. A chronic condition isn’t necessarily “incurable”…
5. NARROW N (noon) + ARROW
6. BRIDEWELL BRIDE + WELL. I didn’t know that the original Bridewell started off as a residence of Henry VIII. The name became a generic one for prisons (rather like “Bedlam” for asylums).
7. SEEMING M (think James Bond) in SEEING.
8. ASSET-STRIPPER AS SET’S TRIPPER. At the risk of showing off too much knowledge of drug-talk (cf 25ac), I think technically a junkie is a heroin user, whereas a tripper is on LSD (or LSP, Derek…?).
19. TESTATE T (“to” cut) + ESTATE
20. SCOTCH SCOT + CH. Scot was a form of tax, giving rise to the phrase “scot free” for those that didn’t have to pay it.
23. EIGHT WEIGHT less W(eek)

34 Responses to “Guardian 24,748 / Chifonie”

  1. harry says:

    Thanks Andrew.
    I always find Chifonie quite tough for some reason.
    was held up today by confusing philologist with philatalist at 14dn.
    Ironic, as I studied linguistics as part of my degree…

  2. Eileen says:

    Thanks for the blog, Andrew.

    Some less familiar – to me, anyway – abbreviations here: n[oon], r[oyal], n[ationalist], s[ucceeded], w[eek], pr[iest].

    I had the same thoughts about CHRONIC. I thought the anagrams all had very neat surfaces.

  3. Bryan says:

    I really enjoyed it but, as I’d never heard of Anubis, I had to cheat after belatedly realising that THEISM was wrong.

    I’ll know better next time.


  4. Andrew says:

    Thanks harry (philately will get you nowhere!) and Eileen. On the subject of the abbreviations, Chambers (for what it’s worth) gives n=noon or nationalist, s=succeeded (used in aristocratic genealogies, I think), w=week and pr=priest; but not R = Royal. It’s seen with that meaning in RSPB, RSPCA and the like, but could be regarded as a bit dubious on its own.

    While I was looking at “R”, and following on from yesterday’s discussions of rhoticity: did you know that R is “sometimes called the ‘dog letter’, from the trilling on the tip of the tongue in its pronunciation in rhotic accents”?

    Bryan: yes, I was also trying to justify THEISM at 4ac for a while.

  5. Eileen says:


    No, I didn’t know that about the letter R until I too found it in Chambers when looking for R[oyal]. [I don’t really understand the reference to dogs, though!]

    And, funnily enough, I’d just read ‘philately will get you nowhere’ [the old ones are always the best :-)] in the very interesting link that Beermagnet supplied today in his blog on Anax’s puzzle, which I particularly enjoyed.

    And I toyed with THEISM, too.

  6. C. G. Rishikesh says:

    Chambers XWD: A Dictionary of Crossword Abbreviations by Michael Kindred and Derrick Knight does not give ‘royal’ against R.

    In the section ‘Full Form to Abbreviation’, it has ‘royal’ against which we’re told to ‘see monarch’.

    When we visit ‘monarch’ dutifully, we have (among others) R.

    Now, what do you make of this?

  7. liz says:

    Thanks, Andrew. I got most of this out fairly easily, thanks to the anagrams, then got held up by 10ac and googled for a synonym of ‘tasteful’. It also took me a long time to get GLOW.

    Haven’t we had R for Royal fairly recently? S for Succeeded was new to me.

  8. John says:

    Like others, Chambers or no Chambers, I find the (in my view) indiscriminate use of initial letters as abbreviations annoying. It seems a cheap way of cluing rather than looking for a more elegant, and challenging, surface. And half a dozen is too many in one puzzle.

  9. mhl says:

    Thanks, Andrew. I agree about “tripper”…

    The controversial “relationship” for PI seems to be a particular favourite of this setter – the last two previous uses I found were Guardian 24,585 / Chifonie and Guardian 24,638 / Chifonie. Lots to add to the list of abbreviations and indicators today!

    This wasn’t too hard, though, and there were lots of lovely surface readings that raised a smile.

  10. The trafites says:

    I have a new machine – Seiko Oxford crossword solver ER3200, and under the ‘abbreviation dictionary’ it does list R = royal and s = suceeded.

    The machine is based on Oxford crossword dictionary, and is very good – helped me get the Egyptian god Anubis (I knew this anyway from Stargate TV programme, but it wouldn’t come to me at the time) and the composer Berg.


  11. Anax says:

    Interesting, Nick. I was about to suggest that the abbreviation might have referred to “Rex” (admittedly this would mean Chifonie has taken a slight liberty with the def) but if R=Royal is turning up somewhere it would seem to be supported.

    MHL – I agree but, at the same time, I suspect most setters use abbreviations for one of two reasons: either the abbreviation sits particularly well in the clue, or the setter has been backed into a corner somewhat and it’s the only way out. That latter consideration opens up the subject of what the setter is trying to achieve – difficulty, originality, perhaps a bit of both? For my part, settling for something which I’m sure has been used before is never Plan A and perhaps Chifonie felt the same.

  12. The trafites says:

    It has all sorts of strange abbreviations in there – so setters’ delight, I guess.

    Oxford Dictionary of Abbreviations

  13. Gaufrid says:

    I am sure I have mentioned before that Collins seems to have more abbreviations than Chambers and a quick check does indeed reveal that one of the many entries for R in Collins is Royal.

  14. Dagnabit says:

    Thanks, Andrew! This was possibly my earliest finishing time ever (I really should be working…). A couple of questions:

    In 21ac, how is CAP derived? Is it related to “international”?

    In 22ac, does “screw up” mean “crease” in the sense that, say, screwing up a piece of paper puts creases into it?

  15. Andrew says:

    Dagnabit: a player of rugby, cricket etc is said to be “capped” when he plays in an international match, and by extension a “cap” is such a player. (My great-grandfather Ninian Finlay played rugby for Scotland and I have the actual cap somewhere in my attic. I have definitely not inherited his sporting prowess..)

    22ac – yes, that’s pretty much how I read it.

  16. Derek Lazenby says:

    John, sit down. Ready for this? I agree entirely!

    Andrew, 8d, nice try, a bit loose though.

    1a, no comment. No point, all it drags up is “everybody says…..”. You would think that by the 21st century people would have learnt how dumb an argument that is, given it’s spectacular failures in the past, but apparently not. Hence, no comment.

  17. The trafites says:

    Dagnabit, yes in crossword parlance CAP = INTERNATIONAL, ref. playing for one’s country in football, say. But I have always thought it a bit tenuous, as you get a cap, or perhaps get capped for being selected to represent, but I can’t see how a ‘cap’ = ‘international’.

    Chambers doesn’t confirm the association either.

  18. Dagnabit says:

    Thank you for the quick replies, Andrew. I’m so glad I asked about “cap” — it was delightful to learn about your great-grandfather!

  19. Dagnabit says:

    Thanks also to The trafites — I didn’t see your reply till after I posted mine.

  20. Eileen says:

    Hi trafites

    I don’t know which Chambers you’re using but my 11th edition has ‘an occasion of being selected for esp. a national team symbolised by a cap; a person so selected’.

  21. Chunter says:

    The trafites,

    From the entry for ‘cap’ in Chambers (9th ed) ‘an occasion of being selected for esp a national team, symbolised by a cap; a person so selected’

  22. Eileen says:


    Snap! I’m glad to see you weren’t beguiled into writing ‘symbolized’, either

  23. enitharmon says:

    R is short for Rex/Regina/the Crown in legal references, eg R v Crippen etc.

  24. Chunter says:

    Hi Eileen,

    Well spotted!

  25. The trafites says:

    Yes, but what I mean is it states that a ‘cap’ is someone chosen to represent his ‘nation’. And if the national team play against another national team, then they play an international match and the players could be called ‘internationals’.

    But that doesn’t make ‘cap’ = ‘international’. I once saw England play Aylesbury Utd. in 1988, and all of England’s players got a run out (and capped, I guess) – but these ‘caps’ surely are not ‘internationals’?

  26. Chunter says:

    I think we can assume that caps were not awarded to the England players in the match you mention!

  27. Derek Lazenby says:

    But people do say things like, “you would expect better of an international player” and so on. These players are capped players. So the two would seem to be one and the same. I don’t think the association is restricted to just crosswords.

  28. Speckled Jim says:

    Could someone explain to me in what context you would find ‘noon’ abbreviated to ‘n’? That one really came as a surprise – I was working with the idea that ‘midday’ would give me an ‘a’…!

    Happy with ‘pi’ for ‘relationship’.

    Glow=ardour is a new one for me, as is esoteric=secret (had to ‘check’ (read: cheat) to see that there weren’t any other anagrams that I was missing!). I’m sure there’s another potential clue there somewhere given ‘esoteric’ contains the letters of ‘secret’…

  29. petero says:

    Thanks for the blog. I also tried Bird for 15A, but not as a mis-spelling of William Byrd but for Charlie ‘Bird’ Parker.

  30. Neil says:

    Thanks Andrew. I expect you meant to put COTERIE’S* at 12ac?

    A pretty unsatisfactory affair I thought, although I completed it without too much strain. I certainly agree about far too many single letter abbreviations, some of dubious legitimacy surely if so many of us had to seek them out from their obscurity.
    Added to that were several dodgy equivalences. ‘Pi’ of course, and Derek’s right about not needing to revisit that one. Woodwind = reed? Flight = arrow? Incurable = chronic? Tripper = junkie? And surely weight qualifies authority rather than equates with it (the full weight of her authority)?

    As for cap = international, two of my uncles were capped for their school! (In our time there we only earned ‘colours’). It was a very long time ago, but one of those caps is in our local museum, complete with tassel.

  31. Sil van den Hoek says:

    Don’t want to be too critical, but 18dn in the blog should be:
    I (first person) in (CASINO)*.
    (And that’s what Andrew probably meant, so again, don’t want to be too critical)

  32. Neil says:

    Extra! Extra! Read all about it! (Remember that?).

    Speckled Jim – ‘Esoteric’ = ‘secret’ is OKish, as a meaning somewhere on the list, but ‘ardour’ = ‘glow'; hardly! They might be associated (in a subdued light), but do they equate?

    You’ve all gone to bed, or got caught up in a pub lock-in haven’t you? Or just got bored.

    (Just to test the ‘off-topic’ limits; rather a disappointingly weak, anticlimactic finale to what had been a rather splendid ‘Torchwood’, up until this rather dragged out concluding episode)?

  33. Derek Lazenby says:

    One of us, surprise, is also still up and was also off-topically disappointed.

  34. Neil says:

    Thanks, Derek, for still being awake (off-topically).

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