Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 24,757 – Gordius

Posted by Uncle Yap on July 21st, 2009

Uncle Yap.

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

What a delightful day. Dr G and I sat around at midday, solved five puzzles and contributed to the British economy by consuming some distilled products from Scotland.

We found Gordius gorgeous with his word-play and naughty clues. Indeed worth two drams. Cheers !

8 EMBOLISM Ins of MB (doctor) & O (none) in *(miles)
9 ATHENS Cha of A T (time) HENS (layers of eggs)
10 CURE loosely speaking dd since the priest has the accent
11 BALUSTRADE BAL (rev of LABour party) US Trade (American commerce)
12 CARACT Car (vehicle) Act (legislation) Yes, it is a word meaning mark from Shakespearean times. New word for me
14 MANATEES Man (fellow) ATEES (sounds like at ease)
15 DERANGE *(grandee) or for that matter *(enraged) & *(angered)
17 STABLED STAB (rev of bats, potty) Led (preceded) Thanks, Crypticnut
20 CALLIOPE Ins of ALL (everything) I (one) in COPE (manage) the Muse of epic poetry in Greek mythology
22 NIECES *(sciences minus C)
23 FATAL WOUND *(found at law)
24 TART (s) tart
25 MUTUAL rha
26 ESTIMATE Ins of IM (Gordius) in E (last letter of the) STATE (condition)

1 AMPUTATE Ins of PUT (place) in A Mate (a partner)
2 DONE John DO(N)NE (1572-1631)
3 GIBBET GIB (rev of BIG, conssiderable) BET (hazard)
*(blame me)
5 MASSENET Ins of (NESS, head) in TEAM (side) and whole thing rev
6 CHARITABLE Chair and Table (furniture items) with IR interchanged
7 CNIDAE Another new word *(i dance)
13 ARAB LEAGUE Arable (to be cultivated) + ARGUE (contradict) minus R
16 GROMWELL Oliver Cromwell (Roundhead) minus C plus G (good)
n any plant of the genus Lithospermum, of the borage family, with smooth, stonelike seeds formerly used medicinally; the oyster plant (genus Mertensia), also of the borage family.
18 EXECRATE Exec(utive) rate (managerial salary)
19 BEMUSED Ins of MUSE (Calliope, answer to 20) in BED
21 ABACUS A BACCHUS (God of wine) minus CH (church)
22 NUDITY Can be a naughty cd but actually a homophone for new ditty (fresh air)
24 TOMB Indirect hidden answer from TOMBOLA (aka lotto, bingo)

28 Responses to “Guardian 24,757 – Gordius”

  1. Bryan says:

    Yet another great Puzzle!

    However, I couldn’t finish the top left corner nor 7d so I cheated to discover two new words: CARACT and CNIDAE.

    Many thanks, Gordy for puzzling me and Uncle Yap for revealing all.

  2. Crypticnut says:

    Thanks Uncle Yap.

    17a is STABLED – STAB (rev of bats) LED (preceded).

    18d was very appropriate – especially when you consider the sometimes outrageous salaries they pay themselves.

  3. Andrew says:

    Thanks Uncle Y.

    10ac – I don’t have a dictionary to hand but I think CURE (without the accent) can mean something like a priest’s area of resposibility (cf CURATE).

    22dn is also a homophone of “new ditty” (=”fresh air”)

  4. diagacht says:

    Thank you for the Blog Uncle Yap.

    On 10ac, when the Bishop institutes a Vicar to a parish he describes it as ‘your cure and mine’. I think this is the sense that Gordius is after.

  5. Crypticnut says:

    Thanks Andrew for explaining 22d. I thought it was a rather loose clue until I read your post.
    Clever one Gordius!

  6. Monica M says:

    Thanks everyone.

    Quite a few new words for me today … the online dictionary was working overtime!!!

    I parsed 22dn the same as C’nut … so didn’t see it as naughty at all …

    Could someone please explain 25ac for me (altho I just know I’ll slap my forehead)

    PS Save the Moreton Bay Manatees (aka dugongs)

    PPS Please don’t mention the cricket

  7. Crypticnut says:

    Hi Monica M
    25a Reciprocal = MUTUAL – rev inside “typical autumn”.

    I won’t mention the cricket either!

  8. Monica M says:

    Ta C’nut,

    I didn’t understand the def at the end of the clue … but I did slap my forehead.

    I’m at the stage of my solving evolution that I can usually finish mosy puzzles (depending on the setter) … but can’t always work out why, which is the reason I love this site.

    PS Yesterday’s Courier Mail was a stinker for a train trip … it’s no wonder this thype of puzzle is normally set as a weekender!!!

  9. Crypticnut says:

    Thanks Monica M.

    Yesterdays’ CM “Araubetical” reminded me of the occassional Saturday offering from Southern Cross (aka Auster).

    She was quite good at those.

  10. Monica M says:


    See me in the chat room … I think we’re getting off topic.

  11. The trafites says:

    I glanced at this, and my first thought was 15ac could be ANAGRAM – with no checking letters it is a suitable answer.

  12. Crypticnut says:

    Monica M

    I’m in the general crossword chat room

  13. Monica M says:


    Do you remember the Auster puzzle which sent people postal (Sorry for the Americanism). I think C’nut would be as amused as I was. I’ve searched and can’t find it, but that noy surprising). I’d appreciate your help (hope my grammar’s OK)



  14. mhl says:

    Uncle Yap: that sounds like a most enviable day :) 22d is a homophone of “new ditty” for “fresh air” rather than a cryptic defintion.

    Probably the less I say about this puzzle the better, but 8a, 9a, 3d, 5d, 24d and the couple of obscurities (CNIDAE, CARACT) made this not much fun for a daily crossword, I thought. Well done indeed to anyone who finished it unaided.

    Actually, maybe 24d is worth a bit more comment: even if you’re happy with the indirect hidden answer, (!) most people regard bingo and a tombola as clearly distinct. (Chambers tells me that tombola is “a type of bingo, played esp in the armed services”, but this isn’t in Collins and this sense is unfairly obscure given the dubious form of the clue overall, I think.)

  15. Chunter says:

    mhl: I’ve always thought of tombola and bingo as being identical, the former merely being a posh term for the latter! I can’t, however, claim to have given the matter much thought.

    PS Monica M: aw look, why would I want to mention the cricket?

  16. mhl says:

    Chunter: maybe I’ve always misunderstood, but I had thought that bingo is typically distinguished by having to make patterns in the grid of numbers in response to the called numbers, whereas a tombola is just like a raffle – if your number is called out you get a prize. I see on further delightful research this isn’t necessarily the case though. sigh.

  17. Eileen says:

    Hi Monica

    Sorry, I’ve only just seen your comment. I’m presuming you mean the puzzle from 12th November!
    [I didn’t know the ‘postal’ expression.]

    And I don’t understand all these references to the cricket. You usually like talking about it. :-)

  18. Chunter says:

    mhl: I really don’t know, never having played (or even studied the rules of) either game. I just got the impression that (for example) a village fete might well offer tombola – but never bingo!

  19. cholecyst says:

    Tombola: from Italian tombolare to tumble. I surmise it was first a raffle, then developed into the game we call bingo – the numbers once upon a time being tumbled and drawn from a drum – just like the modern state lottery. Modern Italian has tombola with the meaning of bingo as well a tumble or heavy fall

  20. JamieC says:

    I’m with mhl on this. In particular, I thought 8a and 3d were very unfair with words in both doing double duty as part of the definition and the wordplay, which I had always understood to be a no-no unless it was an &lit.

    In 1d, does “out of” really mean “around”? Ditto “over” in 5d, particularly in a down clue?

  21. petero says:

    JamieC – I think that in 8A the pronoun ‘none’ signifies ‘not any of whatever we’re talking about’, and thus carries the MB within itself; certainly this refers back to the doctor in the definition, but that is rather different from the double duty which is the anathema of purists, where, say, a setter tries to use the single word ‘over’ to indicate a reversal and an envelope. I saw 3D as an &lit, even if the salient point of the device is the drop rather than the rise that preceded it.

  22. mhl says:

    petero: I really don’t think that will do for 8a, I’m afraid. (Maybe if it were “O MBS” that you had to include…)

    I read 3d as either a “semi-&lit” (which I don’t like because of the extraneous words) or with the definition part being “for old lags”, which has other controversial problems.

    JamieC: for what it’s worth, I’m happy with “out of” and “over” to mean around. In the case of 3d (and even as someone who’s quite happy with “in deed” and “outside r”) the additional indirection in “overhead” to mean “around NESS” is going a bit far.

  23. Paul B says:

    Thanks for the blog, and for the comments – the relevant ones, anyway.

    Quite a number of un-daily words in this one, and with at least two being anagrams (to me the meanest way to clue a hard or recondite word) I’m sure some of us were glad for the CHEAT button.

    A sprinkling rather than a deluge of dodgy indication, e.g. at 23ac: since a fatal wound is an absolute rather than a possible cause of death, the anagrind must be ‘to be a possible’, which I didn’t find all that compact.

    A few ‘double-duties’ here and there, and ATHENS seemed fat on link, but I actually liked ‘can manage’ for cope. For a while. And charitable? I suppose I should be, as it was so nice to see that one again.

    Most interesting was the inclusion at 16dn – I wonder whether Gordius knew him?

    * a setter of olde there was, hight Gromwell, who set for the Grauniad and was responsible for a number of Listener puzzles including 2619 Flying Sorcery. So now you know.

  24. liz says:

    Thanks for the blog, Uncle Yap. I liked 11ac v much. Didn’t get 10ac and couldn’t be bothered to find out what 7dn might be, despite having the checking letters…

    I had ANGERED for DERANGE at 15ac, which held me up for a while. I am enjoying Gordius a lot more than I used to!

  25. enitharmon says:

    Ho ho I thought, as I entered ANAGRAM for 15ac on first inspection. I was so sure of it that it held me up for ages. Doh!

    A couple of new words for me today – CARACT and GROMWELL. I didn’t directly know CNIDAE but I could guess at it since I knew CNIDARIA – things to be watched from when walking on or swimming off the local beach. I guessed at what Sirenians were (old sailors thought that manatees or dugongs were the mermaids that lured seamen onto the rocks).

  26. Dagnabit says:

    I too couldn’t get the upper left corner, and I had other problems elsewhere. Like others, I had ANAGRAM at 15ac for the longest time… And I blame the Internet for my failure to enter CNIDAE and CARACT in the grid, because I couldn’t find them in any online dictionary.

    Off-topic reply to Neil from yesterday: It made me smile to think of “dagnabit” as signifying machismo, since it is a euphemism for a much stronger expression. It also made me smile because I am about as un-macho as they come!

  27. Mike Laws says:

    I knew Gromwell (Brett Hancock) personally. I had published a couple of his crosswords in the first series of Games & Puzzles, and he had visited me at home. At one point, he also passed on a couple of tickets to an athletics meeting at Crystal Palace.

    I was devastated when his mother wrote to tell me that he had committed suicide just before the age of 21. She had hoped that publication in G&P and the Guardian would help him overcome his problems.

  28. Dagnabit says:

    Such sad news, Mike, but thank you for sharing it. It’s a shame that such problems are often so much bigger than professional accomplishments such as publication are able to assuage. My sympathies to everyone who knew and loved him.

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