Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 24,814 / Enigmatist

Posted by Eileen on September 25th, 2009


I found this quite tough going,  both solving and parsing, and was pleased to have finished without recourse to the ‘cheat’  button – but irritated to have been completely beaten by the explanation of one clue. There were several penny-dropping moments along the way.


1   PTOLEMY:  PTO [please turn over] + LE[m]MY [Kilmister, of Motorhead].  Ptolemy was a 2nd century astronomer but I can never see his name without thinking of the lines from the song ‘Cleopatra’, from ‘Salad Days:
“They tried to make her marry her brother P-tolemy;
She said: ‘I won’t p-tolerate P-tolemy to collar me.'”
5   SHEBEEN:  HEBE [daughter of Zeus and Hera, who poured out nectar for the gods] in SEN [State Enrolled Nurse].
10  TSAR:  hidden in geTS ARound, losing more letters on the right.
11   NEAR MISSES:  double / cryptic definition:  a reference to the saying, ‘A miss is as good as a mile’.
12,13 QUICHE LORRAINE:  anagram of LIQUORICE + HER + AN. It seems there are two anagram indicators here.
14,16 TOMORROW’S WORLD:  insertion of L [boxed] in TOMORROW’S WORD [promise in future]. I could find ‘L’ as an abbreviation of ‘length’ but not ‘long’ – and I’m not sure what ‘details’ is doing.
17,19  CHASE THE DRAGON:  the best I could do with this was C[H]ASE [‘harden case’, which seems rather weak] + THE DRAG ON [having got supply?] I wasn’t familiar with this phrase [it’s my sheltered life] but it means ‘to smoke heroin by heating it and inhaling the fumes’, making the definition ‘inhaling H’, which is then the wrong part of speech. I’d be more than happy to be corrected on this.
25  CHAUFFEUSE:  anagram of USE A CUFF EH.
27  TO A ‘T‘:  [s]TOAT [source of ermine].
28  INFERNO:  INFER [suppose the answer is] NO [not a positive].
29  STOPPER:  S[outhern] + TOPPER [a long-running comic featuring Beryl the Peril].


2   TESTUDO:  E[astern[ + STUD [boss] inside TO [shut – as of a door] Testudo is Latin for tortoise-shell, or something shaped like it, hence the protection the Romans formed against missiles from above by interlocking their shields over their heads – an air-raid shelter!
3   LYRIC:  hidden in JoeLY RIChardson.
4   MYNHEER:  homophone of MINE HAIR: this is about the only Dutch word I know – from childhood reading of ‘Hans Brinker, or The Silver Skates’.
6   HOMBRE:  BR[others] in HOME [in].
7   BOSSA NOVA:  it’s a ‘measure from Rio, say’, but I can’t make head or tail of the rest. Over to you!
8   ETERNAL:  ET AL [and others] around ERN[ie] [the premium bond computer] minus I[d] E[st].
9   GALLOWS HUMOUR:  cryptic definition.
15  OASTHOUSE:  the parsing of this seemed to take as long as the rest of the puzzle put together. It’s THOU inside [to seal you in] OASES [moist places] with the last two letters transposed [little adjustment at last].
20  DESSERT:  reversal of TRESSED [with hair].
21  OVERAGE:  O [nothing] + A[rea] in VERGE [limit]: a reference to time as ‘the enemy’.
22  BOFFIN:  OFF [departing] in BIN [vessel].
25  ACT UP:  double definition.

48 Responses to “Guardian 24,814 / Enigmatist”

  1. Gaufrid says:

    Hi Eileen
    Can’t help you with 7d (as yet) but 17,19 is H in *(HARDEN CASE GOT)

    In 12,13 you have missed out AN from the anagram fodder.

  2. Eileen says:

    Thanks for that, Gaufrid. I’m glad I’m not the only one flummoxed by 7dn!

    12,13 corrected now. [It was in my notes, of course, but I always seem to manage to do something careless.]

  3. Gaufrid says:

    7d is BOSS (excellent) ANOVA (analysis by statistician)

    ANOVA is an abbreviation for ‘analysis of variance’.

  4. Dave H says:

    7d is BOSS for excellent and ANOVA an abbrievation for Analysis of Variance I think

  5. Eileen says:

    Thanks, Gaufrid and Dave. I thought that, yet again, I’d been stymied by not looking up a word [boss] because I ‘knew’ it but I can’t find ANOVA in either Collins or Chambers, so I would stll never have got there.

  6. Dave H says:

    Me neither without

  7. Gaufrid says:

    ANOVA is in COED.

  8. beermagnet says:

    That poor stoat. Yesterday it had its tail cut off, today it is decapitated!

  9. C.G. Rishikesh says:

    I looked up BOSS in Bradford’s where ‘excellent’ is entered under it. For ANOVA, I googled and got to ‘statistical analysis’.

    However, I must say I have never come across adj. ‘boss’, meaning ‘chief, excellent’, used in a sentence. Have you?

  10. Chunter says:

    The OED mentions ANOVA only in a quotation.

  11. Lanson says:

    I have ANOVA with its own heading in Collins and Oxford D of E, but not in Chambers

  12. Chunter says:

    I’d never heard of Lemmy, Topper, ‘Chase the dragon’ or the use of ‘boss’ for ‘excellent’. Must get out more!

  13. Bryan says:

    Many thanks, Eileen

    It took me longer than usual but I did manage to complete it without cheating although, in some cases, without fully understanding why.

    However, my 5 years spent in The Netherlands finally paid off with MYNHEER. Thanks Enig!

    So far, nobody has commented on LORRAINE CHASE, the actress, who was hidden neatly away exactly like a Nina.

  14. Harris says:

    ‘Boss’ is used to mean excellent in Scouse speech, something along the lines of ‘that’s dead boss, that is’ would be an example.

  15. jvh says:

    Thanks Eileen.

    What is the origin of “time is the enemy”?

  16. Ian says:

    Enigmatist is always a delight. Elegant constructs – 1a and 2d set the tone for another excellent workout.

  17. Eileen says:

    Hi jvh

    I remember this query cropping up before – but I don’t remember a conclusive answer. I know this reference occurs fairly regularly in crosswords but I can’t find the origin of it anywhere. Chambers has ‘How goes the enemy? [inf] what time is it?’ but doesn’t give a derivation.

  18. The trafites says:

    C.G. Rishikesh #9 ~ Do you remember the American TV cartoon from the 60’s ~ in America it was called ‘Top Cat’, over here in the UK they renamed it to ‘Boss Cat’ – i.e. the ‘chief’ cat.

    Boss Cat


  19. jvh says:

    Hi Eileen,

    Thanks for trying. I cannot find anything in my old dictionary of quotations, nor did I get much out of google.

  20. The trafites says:

    jvh, googling here I found:

    William Butler Yeats said: “The innocent and the beautiful Have no enemy but time”

    I wonder if that is the source?


  21. Eileen says:

    Well done, Nick – that sounds good!

    I’ve no problem with ‘boss’ = ‘chief’, used adjectivally [cf head teacher] – it’s the ‘excellent’ definition that was a surprise, though it’s in both Collins [as ‘sl’] and Chambers.

  22. Neil says:

    Nick@18: I don’t recall Top Cat being called Boss Cat in the UK and can find no evidence in your link that it was.

    3 across seemed in very poor taste, and not for the first time.

    Googling “time is the enemy” produces 61,000,000 hits. Not obscure then!

  23. Neil says:

    But only 19,800,00 if in quotes.

  24. Neil says:

    Oops! 19,800,000

  25. Eileen says:


    From Nick’s Wiki link:

    “United Kingdom:

    In the United Kingdom, the show was first aired on BBC television (now called BBC One) but renamed Boss Cat shortly after it premiered in 1962 because Top Cat was also the name of a brand of cat food.”

  26. Paul B says:

    Well beermagnet, that stoat is toast – or could be.

  27. Mike says:

    Scrambled stoat eh Paul? Yummy….

    Frustrated meself – I failed to get 7d, despite having previously lived in Liverpool (hence knowing that BOSS can mean excellent), and despite using ANOVA at work! Grrrr….

    Boss puzzle though….

  28. Neil says:

    Nick: apologies.
    Thank you Eileen. I clearly didn’t read dligently enough.

  29. Tom Hutton says:

    I still think that clues like 1ac and 7dn are a bit pointless because unless advised otherwise I can’t think that anyone used the cryptic part of these clue to solve them. This is compounded by using ‘turn over’ instead of ‘please turn over’ which might have helped a bit. 8dn is rather like that too with the very convoluted cluing of ‘ern’

    Has anyone light to shed on ‘details’ in 14ac?

    Some really excellent clues otherwise

  30. jvh says:

    Thanks Nick. (I would much rather accept your answer than work through 61,000,000 references.)

  31. Uncle Yap says:

    I enjoyed the challenge and the entertainment value of today’s puzzle and I even smiled and chuckled at the prospect of being beaten up by a French lady driving a limousine. Who said John Henderson hasn’t got a sense of humour?

  32. Phil says:

    I nearly always find Enigmatist very hardgoing -very much better when leavened by Paul in last month’s Taupi tribute. Only did about half before resorting to Chambers Word Wizard. For my taste too little heathen gallows humour and too much Ptolemaic eternity. My problem is knowing about Topper, Lemmy (though that didn’t help here) and chasing the dragon but not Hebe or anova? If stoats are toast then weasels are aweless

  33. John says:

    I didn’t like this at all. I always find this setter too “clever”. Calling yourself Enigmatist doesn’t excuse over-complicated, sometimes incomprehensible cluing.
    Chambers or no Chambers, I can’t let this go without again flagging up my irritation at the cavalier use of initial letters as abbreviations – A for area, L for long. And as for BR for a couple of brothers?? And where’s the anagrind in 12,19 ac? It can only be “supply” which makes no sense.

  34. John says:

    Just realised that maybe the anagrind is supply adverb from supple?

  35. Eileen says:

    Hi John

    Isn’t it amazing how often simply typing out something that has bothered you makes it clear? I’d gone along all day with Gaufrid’s explanation of 12,19, because it was so much better than my own, but still questioned ‘supply’ [noun?] as an anagram indicator. But your suggestion makes perfect sense, so very many thanks! [And apologies, Gaufrid, if I didn’t catch your drift!]

    I am aware of your continuing uneasiness about initial letters as abbreviations: ‘A’ for area is well documented but, as I said in the blog, I couldn’t find L for ‘long’, so I’m with you there.

  36. Gaufrid says:

    Sorry, Eileen. Re 12,19 I thought you would understand ‘supply’ (ref. supple) rather than ‘supply’ (ref. provide) so I didn’t spell it out. However, in the right context both could indicate an anagram, though ‘supply’ would probably have to be ‘supplies’.

  37. Sil van den Hoek says:

    We found this quite hard, but very satisfying.
    Unfortunately, couldn’t complete it in our daily After Work Session.
    Shebeen, Bossa Nova, Testudo, even Tsar were still mainly blanks.

    Four consecutive down clues, we thought, need further explanation.

    3dn: It was immediately clear that LYRIC is the hidden answer.
    But was has ‘up the theatre’ to do with it? Definition?

    6dn: Although we understand the construction (and didn’t have any problem finding the answer), we put a question mark to this construction. ‘welcoming a couple of brothers in’ = ‘in welcoming a couple of brothers’?

    7dn: Know what ‘analysis of variation’ is, but must admit, never heard of ANOVA. Know also what BOSSA NOVA is, but even so didn’t get the word (not even by guessing). But found Lemmy, perhaps because I like his music more than that samba-ish stuff. But why is this dance a ‘measure’ from Rio? Measure=beat=dance? Mwah.

    And finally 4dn:
    I am pleased that Bryan (#13) was very pleased by it.
    As I am a Dutchman, we talked a bit about this clue after we found it (we? – my English partner found it …).
    Apparently is a homophone of ‘mine’ and ‘hair’.
    We came as far as ‘mine’ and ‘ear’.
    When you pronounce the word as a Dutch person would do, one gets something like ‘mine’ (but a bit sharper) and a cross between ‘air’ and ‘ear’ (and again a bit sharper).
    So, ‘air’ and not ‘hair’, because in this word the ‘h’ is hardly audible. By the way, when you say Mijn Heer, so two words, the ‘H’ is clearly there. If you take a close look at Mijn Heer (= my man), you will see that the second letter is ‘ij’. This combination of a vowel and a consonant is one character in the Dutch language, and sounds indeed a great deal like the ‘i’ in ‘mine’. Because the English are unfamiliar with it, it is understandable (and I’ll forgive him) that Enigmatist uses the Y. The Y, though, is also a character in Dutch. Seeing MYNHEER, a fellow countryman would pronounce it as the ‘y’ in an English word like ‘myth’.
    By the way, Dutch people hardly use the word anymore. It has evolved into ‘meneer’ (pronounced like ‘mun air’), a word with the same meaning and frequency of use as the English ‘mister’ or ‘Sir’ (in case of a teacher).
    So, the votes of the Dutch Jury: just under 7 out of 10.

  38. Eileen says:

    Hello Sil

    I was hoping for some input from you re MYNHEER. As I said, I came across it in reading as a young child and had no idea how to pronounce it. When I had to parse it this morning, I consulted Chambers, which indicated that the second syllable rhymed with the English ‘hair’ and could be aspirated or not. It’s so frustrating – but also fascinating – trying to express in writing the pronunciation of vowel sounds of one language in another! It’s bad enough in speaking: I have a French step-daughter-in-law and my son has a Danish partner and we have hours of fun! Many thanks for your explanation.

    Re your other comments: in 3dn, I took ‘up’ as going with ‘giving’, to mean ‘yielding’ [the Lyric Theatre, Shaftesbury Avenue: definition]. I thought the surface, as it stood, was really great.

    6dn I rather glossed over. I wasn’t very happy with the surface here and was expecting someone to pick up on it. We’re so used to seeing ‘in’ clued as ‘home’ and here we have it the other way round and I think the order doesn’t quite work.

    Re7dn: I’ve already expressed my complete ignorance on the wordplay of this – but I had no doubts about the definition: a measure is a dance.

  39. Alex says:


    7dn clearly hasn’t gone down very well. I was quite pleased – this clue was one of the few times that my stats training has proved useful. The term ANOVA is the way ‘analysis of variance’ is usually abbreviated when calling up the procedure in a stats software package. So I guess pretty obscure to most people.

    I thought ‘boss’ was a bit of a stretch for ‘excellent’ though.

    And I agree that the construction of 6dn felt a little awkward.

  40. Sil van den Hoek says:

    Hi Eileen,

    And I was hoping you would reply to my post, since you are very interested in language related topics.

    Re 3dn: having read your explanation, I agree, this a brilliant clue (but do all the other solvers know about the Lyric Theatre, I guess not)

    Re 7dn: I didn’t know that a measure is a dance, but you surely will forgive me.
    Never too late to learn something new.

    Re 6dn: glad you didn’t like it either, but in the end still a very good crossword
    (we thought).

  41. Eileen says:

    Hi again, Sil – and your ‘partner in crime’

    To be fair, I think the Lyric Theatre is reasonably well known.

    Re ‘measure': oh dear, this is another thing I remember from the dim and distant past: a song ‘Come and dance a country measure': [why do these things stick, at the expense of more important recent things?]

    And yes, all things considered, a very good crossword!

    Goedenacht – [I googled] :-)

  42. Sil van den Hoek says:

    Hi Eileen,

    I never heard of the Lyric Theatre (and it didn’t ring a bell for my ‘partner in crime’), but I’ve been to a Shaftesbury Avenue theatre (to see Spamalot).

    So, ‘measure for measure’ is a kind of ‘step by step’?

    Goodnight – [didn’t have to Google]


  43. Arfanarf says:

    Some googling found this:

    IDIOM: „How goes the enemy? (What says the enemy?)‘

    EXPLANATION: What o’clock is it? Time is the enemy of man, especially of those who are behind time. Origin: derived from a theatre play: „The Dramatist“ (1789), written by Frederick Reynolds. It almost immediately became a (usually somewhat facetious) catchphrase and it has remained one, although it hasn’t been much used since 1939. It was used occasionaly in past (1863-1952).

    SOURCE (The Dramatist): … „[Ennui the Timekiller:] I’ve an idea I don’t like the Lady Waitfor’t – she wishes to trick me out of my match with Miss Coutney, and if I could trick her in return – (_takes out his watch_). How goes the enemy – only one o’clock! I thought it had been that an hour ago.“

  44. C.G. Rishikesh says:

    Another forum, another crossword.

    The clue was: Find how long the dance might be (7)

    Responding to a query from someone, I responded:


    One of the meanings of ‘measure’ is dance.

    In Shakespeare’s R and J, we have:

    But, let them measure us by what they will,
    We will measure them a measure…

    where the word is used in different senses including dance.


  45. mhl says:

    Thanks for the post on this very tough crossword, Eileen. The rhyme from “Salad Days” made me laugh :)

    Arfanarf just beat me to reposting my similar previous comments on “time is the enemy”. Time is identified as an enemy in several of Shakespeare’s sonnets, but I’m sure it’s an association that people will have come up with over and over again in the past – I guess that the Brewer’s definition of “enemy” is the soundest reference in terms of justifying the use in crosswords. (I remember another commenter here telling me that there’s a recent new edition of Brewer’s, so I wonder if someone could check if that definition has anything more nowadays? I don’t have a copy, unfortunately.)

    (This will be one of a number of very late posts – I’m terribly behind on the daily crosswords now.)

  46. Eileen says:

    Thanks, all, for those latest contributions. It’s a pity, after the discussion, that very few people are likely to see them!

    It’s just occurred to me how often we say, ‘Time is not on our side.’ :-)

  47. jvh says:

    Thanks for all the later help with “time is the enemy”.

  48. Paul B says:

    Though you would get that sort of thing in an Enigmatist puzzle, methinks. Can’t remember for the life of me what the context was, but we had NONEWS clued as ‘Good news – (rest of clue)’ in one puzzle.

    What would ‘cat-killer’ be? Hmm, hmm, I’d certainly like to know.

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