Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 24760 / Auster

Posted by mhl on July 24th, 2009


It only seems fair to give our Australian commenters first say about this fun puzzle from Auster.

1. PARTY HAT PARTY = “Do” + [t]HAT
5. OFFSET OFF = “inoperative” + SET = “company”
9. PATIENCE Sounds like “patients”
10. ADHERE AD = “plug” + HERE = “in this place”
11. TIREDEST I = “one” + RED = “wine” in TEST
14. STOCKROUTE Collins defines this as “Austral and NZ a route designated for droving sheep or cattle”, so the joke is on “neat” meaning cattle. Chambers has it as two words. You can find more about the Guardian editor’s approximate policy on these issues in the first few search hits for “Hugh Stephenson” and “hyphen” on the Guardian’s site.
18. CREW MEMBER CREW = “possible cut” (as in “crew cut”) + MEMBER = “limb”
22. ABLOOM L[ily] in A BOOM
23. STUBBIES (BUB)* in STIES = “Filthy stalls”. Our second bit of Australian vocabulary today – STUBBIES are small bottles of beer
24. BANDIT Sounds like “banned it”. I thought this was about prohibition, but some quick searching tells me it was introduced during Wilson’s presidency – is this referring to something else?
25. CARAPACE A PACE = “a speed” after CAR
26. DASHER DER = “the German” with ASH = “remains” inside
1. PUPATE PUP = “Immature creature” + ATE = “devoured”
2. RETIRE (ERITRE[a])*; the removed A is from “leading athlete”
3. YIELDS Double definition
4. ACCESS TIME (MCC EASIEST)*; I like the definition: “It takes so long to retrieve computer data” Update: just to be clear, I was accidentally and sleepily reinserting the “to” there – it wasn’t in the PDF or Java versions, and I haven’t seen the paper.
6. FIDDLERS Cryptic definition
7. STEPS OUT EPS = “records” in STOUT = “strapping”; I’d always thought of “strapping” as meaning “strong” rather than “tall and sturdy”, which Chambers gives – I guess the latter is “stout” anyway
8. TEENAGER (EATEN)* + [bur]GER (8)
13. ACCENTUATE ACCENT = “stress” + U = “university” + AT + E[ach]; the use of the same sense of accent in the definition and subsidiary seems a bit weak
15. OCEAN BED Cryptic definition
16. WETLANDS WE + T + LANDS = “nets”, as in fishing
20. MIRAGE M1 = “Road” + RAGE
21. ASSERT R = “Right” in (SEATS)*

39 Responses to “Guardian 24760 / Auster”

  1. Crypticnut says:

    Thanks mhl for a good blog and I’ll take you up on your invitation.

    As always, a nice easy puzzle from Auster with nice, neat, easily solveable clues but fun nevertheless.

    You’re right about Wilson being the President who introduced prohibition in 1919. Coolidge didn’t become president until Harding died in 1923. At first prohibition wasn’t really enforced and it may have been during Coolidge’s presidency that serious attempts were made to enforce it. I’m not sure – but that may be what she is referring to.

    A small point about 14a – I was surprised to see it as one word. I can only recall seeing it used as two words out here.

    I particularly loved 23a and will be having one (or six) once beer o’clock arrives!!!

  2. Monica M says:

    Thanks mhl

    Lovely to see Auster after her being a topic of conversation recently.

    24ac I had Calvin so was stuck for a while.

    Must go still at work and I’m looking forward to and icy cold 23ac myself.

  3. Bryan says:

    As easy as they come and even though I had never heard of STUBBIES (23a) this was easily inferred.

    I was seriously impressed by how early mhl and Crypticnut made their postings – regardless of mundane considerations such as insomnia and/or location.

    Please, let this be an important precedent and an inspiration to one and all.

    Maybe we can now expect the blog for tomorrow’s Prize Puzzle some time later today?

  4. Andrew says:

    Thanks mhl (and ozzies). Just to nitpick a little, I agree with you about 13dn – the same problem occurs in 3dn, where the two definitions are virtually synonymous. And 15dn is hardly cryptic at all – it’s trying to suggest “armchair” or something, but the shipwreck meaning is too obvious.

    Apart from that though, good fun, with a nice helping of antipodeanisms, and definitely maintaining the easy ride we’ve had this week.

  5. Ian W. says:

    The 18th Amendment, introducing Prohibition, was indeed ratified during Wilson’s presidency, but over his veto. Coolidge was also opposed to Prohibition though, but, while still Governor of Massachusetts, did veto a state law that would have permitted the sale of weak beer. That seems a pretty weak justification for saying he banned liquor.

  6. Crypticnut says:

    IanW – you have probably hit the nail on the head with regard to Coolidge’s veto of a law permitting the sale of weak beer.

    While I agree that, strictly speaking, it doesn’t justify saying he banned alcohol, I do feel that, a bit like poets, cryptic crossword setters should be allowed a certain amount of licence, as they compose clues that are designed to deceive and keep us solvers on our toes.

    But then I’m probably biased. She’s a Queenslander!

  7. enitharmon says:

    Blimey – a cryptic that I finished more quickly than the “quick” crossword today!

    Apropos stubbies – the Aussies may have got there first but I remember the late lamented Higsons brewery promoting a range of beers in such bottles which they called Stubbies in Liverpool during my student days there in the early 70s. (I finally completed my first Guardian crossword – a Janus, I believe – in the underground Reilly Coffee Bar in the Students Union.)

  8. liz says:

    Thanks for the blog. I particularly liked 8dn and 10ac – lovely surfaces!

    Agree about 15dn barely being cryptic, but my least favourite was 20dn.

    Good fun anyway. Are we in for a shock tomorrow?

  9. Crypticnut says:

    enitharmon has made a good point.

    When stubbies, were first introduced in Australia they were called “glass cans”. The term stubby didn’t come until later.

    Is it possible that it came here with the Beatles in 1964?

    The time line’s right!

  10. Paul B says:

    I know what a ‘chubby’ is (I used to work on XXXX you see): is a stubby similar in shape?

  11. cholecyst says:

    Anyone know why this blog has gone straight into the archive?

  12. don says:

    According to Chambers ‘neat’ = ‘an ox, cow, bull, etc. [singular], while ‘stock’ is defined as ‘the animals [plural] kept on a farm’. So how does ‘neat’ = ‘stock’? Does ‘cow’ = ‘herd’? It seems as odd as talking about a gaggle of goose, rather than a gaggle of geese.

  13. Tom Hutton says:

    I didn’t enjoy this much. 4dn in the printed version I had was missing ‘to’ which made it rather obscure. 25ac had car in the clue and the answer. 15dn was weak so that it made me hesitate to put in the correct answer. There’s a difference between netting and landing fish. 9ac could easily either patience or patients. I agree that it was easy (except 4dn owing to a combination of the misprinted clue and the wrong choice for 9ac!) but it didn’t bring much joy to the heart which a good crossword, easy or not, should do.

  14. don says:

    Shouldn’t 19D read A+(BREAD)*

  15. Gaufrid says:

    Re comment #11. It hasn’t. It was on the home page originally but five posts have been published since this one with the result that this one has now dropped off the bottom of the page.

  16. Gaufrid says:

    Re comment #12, the plural of neat is neat and so neat could indicate ox or oxen.

  17. Derek Lazenby says:

    Well I was enjoying this one, then got stuck. Whether I would have finished every clue I’m not sure,


    The main reason I got stuck was the idiots that do the proof reading of the on-line version. I went to Check ABRADE, cos with my fingers all sorts of typos creep in and the Check button is a useful backup on that. It wouldn’t accept it!!!! I tried the only other word I could find which fitted ABR??E. Rejected that too. So I pressed Cheat and got ABRDSE!!!

    Maybe I should have ignored it, but I gave up at that point because I just didn’t know how much else might be rubbish.

    So thanks for spoiling it, idiots.

  18. Lanson says:

    Yes a few faults on-line Derek, steops out, cardpace and abrdse, but all doable, it is the Guarinad after all !!

  19. Eileen says:

    Thanks, mhl.

    Re your comment on 23ac: two for the price of one, in fact. I didn’t know stubbies or bub, which Chambers tells me is Antipodean, too.

    I agree with liz and Tom Hutton re 20dn and 25ac.

    [I don’t know in what accent / dialect ‘patients’ sounds like ‘patience’ but let’s not go down that road! :-)]

  20. Lanson says:

    reminds me of the joke,
    “Doctor doctor, I keep shrinking”
    “I’m busy right now, you’ll just have to be a little patient”

  21. cholecyst says:

    Gaufrid: thanks (#15). Now I understand!

  22. cholecyst says:

    “7. STEPS OUT EPS = “records” in STOUT = “strapping”; I’d always thought of “strapping” as meaning “strong” rather than “tall and sturdy”, which Chambers gives – I guess the latter is “stout” anyway”

    For some reason this explanation reminded me of the famous Cushie Butterfield:-

    “She’s a big lass an’ a bonny lass an’ she likes hor beor

    An’ they caall hor Cushie Butterfield an’ Aa wish she was heor.”

    It is not recorded whether the beer was stout as well.

  23. Gaufrid says:

    Derek L.
    Re comment #17. Please show a little more respect for other people. Nobody’s infallible and errors can creep in unnoticed. Would you like to be called an idiot because there is a typo or two in one of your comments?

  24. Derek Lazenby says:

    People here do precisely that when I make typos. So your point is?

    I do this for fun, these people are paid to do it and it is a trivial job to check one 15 x 15 grid. If it was difficult I would say less.

    I’ve done proof reading professionally and there is no excuse for such obvious mistakes.

    If I were being paid to do this I would spend more time proofreading. I’m not being paid, so I don’t.

    How many mistakes are there in the next day solution grid in the paper? Very very rare. On-line it happens frequently. Speaks for itself that.

    It is also a bit of a mystery as to why the job is done several times instead of once. In this computer age you would have thought one master copy would get re-used for all purposes. That in itself doesn’t inspire confidence.

  25. mhl says:

    don: thanks for the correction for ABRADE; I’ve updated the post.

  26. NeilW says:


    I don’t always agree with you but, for this comment, hear hear! I have not the luxury of the printed copy and have lost count of the amount of time wasted puzzling over errors in the online version… It’s hard enough without an addiitional handicap! Difficult to complain if the online cheats don’t work but my problem is when the clues themselves are wrong.

    For those who say, “But it’s free!” I say, understand the 2.0 model. If disrespect is being shown, it’s to the setters who deserve better.

    By the way, trivial perhaps but I suppose there was a missed word online in 4d today.

  27. Gaufrid says:

    Derek L.
    I am not going to argue with you, my point is this. It is one thing to say someone hasn’t been sufficiently circumspect whilst preparing/checking the on-line puzzle and quite another to call him/her an idiot.

    In what sense are you using the word? Not in its first definition ‘a foolish or unwise person’ so it must be the second ‘a person having the lowest level of intellectual ability’.

    The latter is clearly an insult, unless the person in question really does have an exceptionally low IQ, which is not only unjustified but is unacceptable on this site.

  28. Jim says:

    I believe Coolidge banned liquor in the White House.

  29. Derek Lazenby says:

    It would seem I conveyed my meaning successfully and precisely. I thought that was the point of using words.

    Call me old fashioned, but when someone is paid to do a job then I expect them to do it and do it well. I also expect them to be able to take being told they are not hitting that standard if that is the case.

    I have no idea why such a trivial insult causes you so much angst. We all behave like idiots from time to time, and frankly, I prefer it to be told so when I’m the guilty party. It really is no big deal.

    Perhaps you should visit your local Point to Point. Go out into the country next to a fence in time for the Ladies Race and listen to what is said as the riders pass. It adds a whole new dimension to the concept of Lady-like Behaviour. The proverbial troopers would blush.

    However, you’re the boss, have it your way.

  30. Gaufrid says:

    Derek L.
    Re comment #29. Any insult, however trivial (as you describe it), is not acceptable on this site. Your supporting argument is irrelevant.

    There are better ways of indicating that someone has not ‘hit the standard’, as you put it, rather than insulting them. Please take a more moderate approach in the future.

  31. stiofain says:

    Did anyone else consider brazilians for 14ac on a first run-through?
    I look forward to a toughie tomorrow to make up for the easy run this week.

  32. Mr Beaver says:

    Did any one else put FIDDLING for 4d ?
    It seems to answer the clue as well – however it prevented me getting 14a, though I’m not sure if I’d got it even with the right crossing letters !

    Gaufrid: re acceptable comment – you obviously take your role as moderator seriously, maybe too much so re Derek’s rather mild insults. Perhaps you could moderate your moderation in future ? :-)

  33. Dagnabit says:

    Hi, Mr Beaver — yes, FIDDLING would have made more sense. I put in FIDDL and then added the ERS only after I got 7d and 8d and suddenly the last half of 14ac looked like it wanted to be ROUTE.

  34. Gaufrid says:

    Mr Beaver
    Insults, mild (as you put it) or otherwise are not appropriate to this site. I would have expected that intelligent puzzle solvers could express their point of view without having to resort to such a tactic.

  35. muck says:

    I enjoyed the puzzle, and the Antipodean references.
    I don’t like to see insults however mild, so you have my support Gaufrid

  36. Tony Pay says:

    Is there, in fact, anyone who checks the online puzzle on a day-to-day basis? I imagine not; but in which case, what is the system used?

  37. Paul B says:

    I didn’t like the puzzle much, and quite a few of the comments beneath it could have been taken off-line in my opinion, but there we are – that’s 15/2 these days.

    OTOH I will stand up for Auster’s cryptic definition for STOCKROUTE (in Collins, tagged ‘Austral’ & ‘NZ’). I can’t see how the fact that (OE) NEAT is singular produces an adverse effect: to describe the answer cryptically as a ‘neat way’ (i.e. a way to transport a bovine animal) seems perfectly fair, and grammatically accurate.

    Like some of the other ideas it seems a wee bit obvious, but, in the case of this relatively unfamiliar entry, it probably needs to be.

  38. Sylvia says:

    28th July: 24760

    I started off with ‘subterfuge’ for 14a though couldn’t quite see why, but it messed up several clues for a long while.

  39. maarvarq says:

    On a related topic, do any other Aussies know why this crossword is numbered 25030 in the Australian (Canberra Times, anyway) reprint?

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