Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 24808 / Gordius

Posted by mhl on September 18th, 2009


Not too tricky for a Gordius puzzle, but with a few that needed some time to work out the wordplay.

[Links to the puzzle as HTML, PDF and Java Applet]

1. LANCELOT LANCE = “Weapon” + LOT = “much” (?)
5. ABULIA AB = “Jack” + [j]ULIA
9. CHESS SET SSE (South South East) = 157½° in CHEST
10. WRENCH R = “Roger” in WENCH
11. SALT LICK Cryptic definition
12. GEORGE One of the King GEORGEs and GEORGE Washington
22. DRAGON DRAG ON = “to bore at length”
23. OPERABLE OPERA = “Musical drama” + BLE = “Alien Corn”; “blé” is the French for “corn” (!)
24. LEGACY LACY = “like tatting” around EG = “for example”
25. RESIDUAL The “residue” is “what is left of an estate after payment of debts, charges and legacies” (Chambers) so RESIDUAL might be “like what’s left after disposal of [legacies]”; I’m not sure where the other definition or subsidiary is
26. DOTTED Cryptic definition: if the letter “i” is dotted, it’s lower case, so isn’t the first person (“I”) Updated slightly to make this clearer
27. HEIGHTEN Sounds like “Huyton”, one of Harold Wilson’s constituencies as a Member of Parliament
2. NEEDLE NEEDLE[ss]; “largely” to mean all but two letters is a bit unfair, I always think
3. EASILY LISA = “girl” in YE = “The old”, all reversed
4. OVERCHARGE [c]OVER CHARGE = “Extra item on bill – not the first”
6. BARBERRY BARBER = “Figaro, say” + RY = “lines”. I hadn’t heard of this plant before, but the wordplay is straightforward
7. LANDRAIL LAND = “country” + RAIL = “track”
15. SWADDLED (WAS)* + DD = “perhaps divine” + LED; I’m not sure about perhaps divine” for a Doctor of Divinity As Eileen points out, “perhaps” is of course the anagram indicator; I think my question mark stands though. Thanks also to Eileen for also pointing out that there’s a noun sense of “divine” meaning “theologian”
16. ESCARGOT (RACES GOT)*; a very nice surface reading
17. DIVORCEE IVOR = “name” in DC = “Washington” + EE = “reportedly with ease” or “with Es”
20. ABRUPT AB = “sailor” + RU (Rugby Union) = “sport” + PT = “exercise”
21. BERLIN With IRVING makes the composer Irving Berlin

25 Responses to “Guardian 24808 / Gordius”

  1. The trafites says:

    I found this straight forward, but 26ac beat me – I entered DITHER here for no other reason in that I didn’t understand the clue at all (and if you dither you will not be the first person, I guessed) – and I still do not now (or at least convinced the clue works) after reading the blog.


  2. Eileen says:

    Thanks, mhl.

    In 15dn, I think ‘perhaps’ is the anagram indicator.

  3. mhl says:

    Eileen: thank-you, I’ve corrected that – just a silly mistake.

  4. Eileen says:

    I’m so glad I’m not the only one!

    I enjoyed this more than usual for a Gordius.

    I liked 23ac, as ‘Alien Corn’ is actually the name of a play, and 17dn [once I’d worked it out!] and [the last to go in] 26ac, which is neatly done, the ‘may not be’ avoiding the potential grammatical problem that we’ve seen before.

    Does 25ac need another definition? I thought the link with the previous clue was rather clever.

  5. Paul B says:

    I think it survives as is purely because the link is neat – although the plural of legacy is ‘legacies’ (and not ‘legacys’ as indicated).

    Only one ridiculously obscure word in this puzzle, and (since I go on about it all the time) I should say how immensely glad I was to see Jack with topless Julia paired to alleviate the difficulty.

    Good on yer Gordie!

  6. Bryan says:

    I gave up with 3 unsolved: ABULIA and SALT LICK which I’d never heard of and DOTTED which I couldn’t figure out.

    However, when I cheated, I discovered that DOTTED appeared as DOTTDD. Otherwise, all OK.

    Thanks, mhl

  7. sidey says:

    Apparently RESIDUAL can refer to a ‘residuary legatee’, the one who gets the residue of an estate.

    I really dislike that grid. I wonder why setters choose it?

    Oh, and who can remember Harold Wilson’s constituency? It was abolished in 1983!

  8. mhl says:

    Paul B: indeed! And ABULIA (new to me, anyway) is a nice word to learn…

  9. rrc says:

    Enjoyed this crossword, had written in divorcee for 17d and bcame irritated because the check button gaved divorced because then nothing fitted for 26a a clue I too didn.t understand.

  10. William says:

    Steady, William….

    This is the 2nd Gordius grid I’ve completed (if you’ll allow my looking up ABULIA in Chambers) and this is the point where I think I have a compiler on the run. The next one will put me properly back into the pit of despond.

    I really liked DOTTED – very neat – but I too dislike this grid. It’s virtually 4 little puzzles with only 4 intersects.

    I confess also to writing CHESS SET without grasping the clever angular reference.

    A SALT LICK is a large block of minerals that we rural folk place in a field at springtime to provide cattle with much needed sodium, calcium, phosphorous etc.

    Thank you for the post.

  11. Dave Ellison says:

    Unlike yesterday, when my first entry was the last clue, today’s was 1a!

    Also couldn’t get 26a.

    I remember Huyton but not how to spell it, so I had HEIGHTON as the answer.

  12. Eileen says:

    Hi again, mhl

    I’ve just noticed your continuing query about ‘divine’. As a noun, it means ‘theologian’ = Doctor of Divinity

  13. mhl says:

    Ah, thank you for explaining that. I’ve updated the post.

  14. enitharmon says:

    Barberry I thought must be one of those regional variations on the bilberry – whortleberry, blaeberry, whinberry and so on, but I looked it up when I had finished and found it not to be a berry at all but a variant name for the much better-known shrub berberis. So you learn something new every day!]

  15. Derek Lazenby says:

    Too tough for me im present state, but isn’t the blog query re 1ac just a question of pronunciation if one remembers Carry on Doctor and Sir Lancalot?

    If the only typo is once again in the online version, how long is it before some one has the with wit to do something about it?

  16. Sil van den Hoek says:

    Like many of you, we didn’t get DOTTED, but nothing to be ashamed of.

    Like Paul B (#5) we were not completely happy with 24s, although it was clear was Gordius meant.

    A pity that the setter used AB for ‘sailor’ twice (5ac, 20dn).

    As one from the Continent I did raise my eyebrows a bit in 23ac.
    French Corn is indeed BLÉ, but with an ‘accent aigu’ op top of the E. This ‘accent’ is crucial in this word, and both the accent itself as its pronunciation are completely ignored in the solution. This is one of these clues of which I always say: I will accept it, but if were a setter I wouldn’t want to do it.
    (Nice though, that ‘Alien Corn’ is actually a play)

    Finally, where’s the anagram indicator in 14ac?
    Is it ‘device’?
    If so, then it’s Double Duty Time again, because the definition of GAS TURBINE is surely ‘device for achieving power’ and not just ‘achieving power’ (with or without ‘achieving’).

    Talking about anagrams, 8dn was a nice one.
    The &lit clue itself also serving as a kind of anagrind.

    Apart from the above, we thought, a gentle crossword

  17. Bogeyman says:

    24ac was the last one to go in! Stared at it for ages, and then it suddenly clicked – one of those “ah yes” moments when a very lateral clue just drops into place in some inner recess of your brain and suddenly makes perfect sense.

    Sil van den Hoek: yes, “device” must be the anagram indicator in 14ac, and it is doing double duty as part of the definition. Deeply impressed that you are doing cryptic crosswords in a second language! And what an interesting point about how “Alien Corn” becomes a more problematic clue for, as you put it, one from the continent.

  18. Sil van den Hoek says:

    Re #17.
    Bogeyman, thank you for these nice words.
    I assume that you meant 26ac was the last one you got (and not 24 ac).
    Because one wouldn’t stare for ages at L-G-C- (I presume), but one would at D-T-E-.

    You say “device” must be the anagram indicator, the words ‘must be’ giving some room for doubt?
    Probably you’ll agree with me that ‘device’ is a rather unfamiliar anagrind, if one at all.

  19. Bogeyman says:

    Sil van den Hoek:

    Yes, I did indeed mean 26ac!

    And yes, I certainly had not seen “device” as an anagram indicator before, but I quite liked it – it seemed quite inventive.

  20. Martin Searle says:

    Like Nick @ #1, I too put dither, but wasn’t entirely happy about it, and now I know why!

    And ‘heighten’ stood out for me straight away, as I am plenty old enough to remember Huyton as Wislon(sic)’s constituency.

  21. Paul B says:

    Nounal inds – weluvvum. Device as in contrivance, reckon.

  22. Sil van den Hoek says:

    Hi Paul B.
    As you can see, I am still reading these ‘dated’ blogs.
    It is clear by now that ‘device’ is an anagrind.
    End of discussion.

    But it is still a case of Double Duty, which I find dubious.
    The clue is not an &lit, where DD is often part of the game.

    I am fairly new to cryptic crosswords in the English language, so I am not spoilt by any Theory, any Book of Rules – and therefore I am really interested in finding (or hearing) answers to questions like:
    Do we want Double Duty? When is Double Duty acceptable?

  23. Paul B says:

    ‘In The Guardian’ would be one answer, Sil.

    If you don’t approve of what is called ‘double duty’ – except in &lits – you are not alone, but you could try some of the other dailies. You might find their clueing styles, or ‘rules’, more acceptable.

    That ‘device’ is an anagrind was never an issue for me I should point out, but I thought drawing attention to the fact that it is nounal might be of interest. Do you approve of nounal anagram indicators, Sil? I like them in moderation (and in that they seem to offer good cryptic grammar, as in ‘a device of brute gains’), but I do not think they are universally admired.

  24. Sil van den Hoek says:

    Hi Paul B,

    Since I live in England, I’ve done some Times crosswords, some FT’s, but mostly Guardians.
    What I like about The Guardian is that setters have a name, crosswords are linked to a person, even an ‘artist’ if you like.
    I like the diversity in styles – giving ample food for thought.
    Which has helped me quite a lot to understand aspects of the English language.
    I am not a black & white thinker who rejects Double Duty in most cases, far from that. So, if you don’t mind, I am not turning to The Times – I find their crosswords usually somewhat ‘clinical’.

    But back to your question about nounal anagram indicators.
    I would say: why not?
    As you perhaps know, I am a regular to Paul’s Clue Competition, and at one point I sent in: No goals against ten Chelsea players (5,5)
    I used ‘players’ as an anagrind for the solution.
    Mainly because it reads well and also because I thought people would understand.
    But people around me didn’t, therefore I changed the clue into the more conventional:
    No goals against Chelsea playing with ten (5,5)
    I still think the first version ( with the noun as an anagrind was far better).

    So, in the end, I agree with you, don’t I?

    (And sorry Gaufrid, if you think, this is all off topic – but this an old blog anyway)

  25. Paul B says:

    Well – again, if The Gauf doesn’t mind – the golden rule for anagrinds is that they should indicate a shuffling of the letters in the fodder: ‘playing’ would for me probably do the job with greater ease than a plural noun. But I think you have stumbled upon the deadliest trap ever to befall a clue-writer, to wit that Surface Is All. Whereas all the darkest practitioners know that this is the diametrical opposite of the true state of affairs.

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