Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian, 24,764 – Enigmatist

Posted by Ciaran McNulty on July 29th, 2009

Ciaran McNulty.

I found it quite challenging today, but that may be a reflection on my own circumstances having started a new job! Managed it all in the end, although 22dn and 5ac felt a little unfinished.  I thought 24ac was pretty good once the penny dropped, although 7dn tries a similar trick which fell a bit flatter for me.


5. DOUBLE AGENTS. Just a cryptic def?
9. INDIAMEN. IN(MEDIA*)N. Old trading ships.
12. AGONY COLUMN. YOUNGMAN* around COL, a mountain pass.
15. CHAOS. CHA(0)S. A reference to Chas ‘n’ Dave.
18. LITTLE TOE. c.d.
19. ETHER. ‘number’ as in anaesthetic, THREE*.
20. DRAMA QUEENS. MASQUERADE* around (attentio)N, &lit.
24. ATOMIC NUMBER. CANTOBRUMMIE*, and 33 is the number of Arsenic (As).
25. BONHOMIE. BON((ken) HOM + I)E.
27. STEP ON IT. STEP ON + I(nsurrection) T(otally).


1. ANIMALCULE. ANI(MAL + CU)LE. Wasn’t familiar with ‘anile’, but it means like an old woman.
3. CRAZY. CR(A + Z)Y. ‘Extremists’ presumably means opposites?
7. BOND. Bond is 007, so 14 if this AGENT’S DOUBLE(d).
8. EAST. (b)EAST.
16. SELF-DRIVE. c.d.
22. FAWN. d.d. but not sure what ‘jump’ is doing.
23. BOOM. Triple def – a pole on a ship, a noise and a sudden increase.

32 Responses to “Guardian, 24,764 – Enigmatist”

  1. Andrew says:

    Thanks Ciaran. I’m with you in finding parts of this one a bit unsatisfactory.

    3dn – A & Z are the “extremes” of the alphabet.

    20ac maintains this week’s trend of appropriate anagrams 😉

    Good luck with the new job!

  2. liz says:

    Thanks, Ciaran.

    22dn is also a triple def. Fawn also means jump, according to Chambers!

    I found this v hard in places and didn’t finish. Got ‘agents’ but failed to see ‘double’ or 14dn. I did like 11dn, tho and 19ac.

  3. Lanson says:

    Thanks for blog Ciaran, 17a I took as “a tell” in “site”, 3d A and Z are the extremes of the alphabet

  4. liz says:

    Oh, and I thought that 17ac was A = one, TELL = report and SITE = position.


  5. liz says:

    Sorry for the duplication!

  6. Eileen says:

    Thanks, Ciaran,

    I agree with Lanson and liz re 17ac.

    I really liked 12ac [another & lit?] and 20ac.

  7. Langfield says:

    I now realise 17a is S(A TELL)ITE but I originally assumed it referred to SatNav – one uses it to report that one is in the correct position. Or were both meanings intended?

  8. polecat says:

    Thanks Ciaran

    I found this difficult today, but I particularly enjoyed
    the clues involving numbers, viz. 19ac, 24/26ac and 7dn.

    As you stated, liz, 22dn could be a Triple Definition.
    I notice, though, that Chambers (2003) gives this for fawn:
    (of an animal, esp a dog) to lick, rub against, jump on, etc,
    in a show of affection. Could be a Double?

  9. liz says:

    Polecat re 22dn –You’re right. It probably makes more sense as a double.

  10. Uncle Yap says:

    Enigmatist was in his mischievous elements today and I loved the way he played around with the numbers … most creative.
    19A Number crazy three for ether !
    7D cracked me up … James, not half a spy
    21D Strip Rose for unhip
    4D Defining Agatha Christie’s classic as a long runner
    Bravo, John!

  11. Bryan says:

    I really had to struggle with this, particularly in the top right corner but I did manage it and thought it terrific.

    What a great week we’ve had!

    I’d never heard of 5d prveiously but I guessed right.

    My favourite was the toughest for me: 5, 10 a. Superb!

    Many thanks Enigmatist, Ciaran and also all the Guys & Gals at The Grauniad for not making it any tougher (for a change).

  12. tedman says:

    Bryan, could you explain 5,10ac? I don’t get it at all!

  13. NeilW says:

    So, Bryan, can you explain the brilliance of 5,10? Ciaran couldn’t and I notice everyone else has skirted round it!

    I thought this mostly extremely good but then let down by the top right and bottom left four letter clues which I felt were tortuous and not very satisfying, “east” apart. but I’d really like to understand which category 5,10 falls into!

  14. Uncle Yap says:

    5,10 is a cryptic definition for double agents who do not exactly operate openly but covertly or underground. Since double agents owe their allegiance not just to one side, they do go backwards and forwards

    It is just a cd

  15. Bryan says:

    Here’s the explanation that worked for me on 5, 10 a:

    Backwards and forwards = DOUBLE

    we go = A GENTS (a loo)

    on the Underground (where Spies operate)

  16. NeilW says:

    Thanks, Uncle Y and Bryan: so, just tortuous or tortured if you prefer, but disappointing finally, especially in the context of such an otherwise excellent set of clues.

  17. mhl says:

    Thanks for the post, Ciaran, and let me join the others in wishing you well for the new job.

    I really enjoyed this one, with just a couple of reservations.

    Bryan: I don’t quite buy “we go” = A GENTS, I’m afraid – I think it’s just a cryptic definition as Uncle Yap suggests. It does seem a bit weak compared to the rest of the crossword, though – and made the top right hand corner very tough for me.

    Even after getting ATOMIC NUMBER I still couldn’t see the “As” as Arsenic – a nice clue, I think :)

  18. NeilW says:

    Yes, mhl, snap! I was only convinced about the anagrams (why plural by the way?) ATOMIC NUMBER being correct after getting ETHER which made NUMBER inevitable but, like you, didn’t click on the “As”, even after seeing that AN33 was Arsenic, so I agree that it was a very fine clue; doesn’t mean I withdraw my previous reservations though!

  19. NeilW says:

    By the way, if anyone’s still interested, 14dn is wrong, it seems to me: retrospect should be “view from the front,” no the back.

  20. enitharmon says:

    4dn might be an even longer runner than Agatha Christie’s oevre – we were on the subject of plays within plays yesterday and The Mousetrap is the name of the play within a play in Hamlet (“The play’s the thing!”)

    I did have a minor quibble about the Shakespearean reference in 11dn – the “chief witch” of Greek mythology is usually rendered Hecate but I’m sure that in the Scottish Play she is simply Hecat and therefore need not come to a premature end here. Of course, there are plenty in the Shakespeare industry ready to tell you that Shakey didn’t actually write the witches scenes in Macbeth, with Thomas Middleton being the prime suspect. I couldn’t possible comment.

  21. Eileen says:

    NeilW: you’re right – well spotted. ‘Retrospect means ‘a backward view’, which would have served as the clue.

    Enitharmon: it’s been ‘Hecate’ in any version of ‘Macbeth’ that I’ve seen.

  22. Bryan says:

    My posting crossed with Uncle Yap’s and he’s much better and more experienced at explaining stuff than me.

    I was more than happy to get there in the end after struggling in vain with the CIRCLE (Underground Line), among others.

    Also, at first, I couldn’t decide whether 11d was PUT THE CAT OUT or PUT OUT THE CAT.

    I do prefer them when they are not too easy.

  23. Tom Hutton says:

    5,10ac is simply a stinker. Clever perhaps but a hopeless clue.

  24. liz says:

    NeilW — I thought ‘anagrams’ in 24ac was being used as a verb. Nicely misleading to have as an anagram-indicator!

  25. cholecyst says:

    “Yes, mhl, snap! I was only convinced about the anagrams (why plural by the way?)”
    I (eventually) took anagrams as a 3rd pers sing verb. Shakespeare sets the example for changing one part of speech into another.

  26. cholecyst says:

    re #24: Great minds …

  27. NeilW says:

    Thanks, Liz and Cholecyst. Of course you’re right!

  28. NeilW says:

    Greater minds than mine…!

  29. stiofain says:

    Great puzzle I thought Drama Queens a very apposite anagram.

  30. ACP says:

    I’m with Tom H at #23 – 5,10ac was a real disappointment. It not only was an ordinary clue but had a crossing answer refer to it, which exacerbated it. I enjoyed the ride until then . . .

  31. John H says:

    Re 23 – why “hopeless”, Tom?

  32. Dinos says:

    I totally flummoxed at this one solving 6 clues over all, and only got atomic number as I’m familiar with As33 having studied chemistry. I like the DOUBLE AGENTS clue though now it’s been explained.

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