Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 24,850 / Rover

Posted by Eileen on November 6th, 2009


A rather mixed bag today, with one or two nice clues but also several doubtful double / cryptic definitions and a couple of unusual anagram indicators.


!   SANDWICH COURSE: double / cryptic definition, with an added reference to ‘sandwich’ in ’round': I quite liked this one.
8   CACTI: cryptic definition
9 UNRESTED: anagram of RENTS DUE
11  ELECTRO: ELECT [opt for] + RO [reversal of OR – gold]  Chambers says this is short for electroplate.
12  NON-SLIP: NON [French ‘no’] + SLIP [one in the [cricket] field]
13  PROVO: ‘is’ out of ‘proviso’ [condition]
15  BIRDBRAIN: anagram of BARD IN RIB [poked?]
17 LIBATIONS: anagram of BASIL INTO; I wasn’t keen on this: I know ‘libation’ as ‘the pouring forth of wine or other liquid in honour of a god or goddess’ but Chambers does have ‘alcoholic drink’ as a ‘facetious’ meaning, which was new to me, I think.
20  TIDAL: reverse of LAD IT
21  CHIANTI: double definition – but is it really?
23  MAESTRO: well, this one certainly is – a rather nice one.
25  BANKROLL: BANK [save] ROLL ]bread]: a reference to the ‘angels’ who provide financial backing for e.g. theatrical productions.
26 CORFU: COR! [Good Lord!] + FU ‘few’??] A different kind of ‘homophone’ for me to complain about! I have recently had a holiday in Corfu, where I didn’t hear a single person pronounce it this way. The Corfiots call it Kérkyra but, when speaking to us, they pronounced it, as we did, ‘Corfoo’.
27  JOB DESCRIPTION: double / cryptic definition: a reference to the biblical Job, who was noted for his patience.


1   SECRET POLICE: cryptic definition
2   NICHE: cryptic definition
3   WAISTCOAT: cryptic definition
4   COULOMB: another dodgy ‘double definition': it’s a unit of electric charge, which gets its name directly from the French physicist, Charles-Augustin de Coulomb. My objection to this is the same as to 21ac.
5   CORONER: cryptic definition
6   URSON: hidden in yoURS ONly: [the Canadian porcupine]
7   STEELYARD: anagram of DEAL and TYRES: this was a new word for me.
10  SPINAL COLUMN:  cryptic definition
14 OBBLIGATO: anagram of GOBBI A LOT: I liked the surface of this. The word always looks odd to me with a double ‘B’ – ‘obligato’ is the alternative spelling.
16 BUTTERCUP: double definition – ‘Buttercup’ as a traditional name for a cow.
18  OMINOUS: a rather neat hidden answer in roOM IN ‘OUSe
19  SAMPLER: double definition
22  NAKED: double definition?
24  TARSI: anagram of RAT IS: [gnawing?]

45 Responses to “Guardian 24,850 / Rover”

  1. Andrew says:

    Thanks for the blog, Eileen. Like you I thought this was very mixed, with the non-double definitions in 21ac and 4dn, and a few weak cds such as 8ac and 1dn. Also the superfluous words in 18dn, and “here” as the definition of CORFU .

  2. Bryan says:

    Many thanks, Eileen, I enjoyed this.

    It took me longer than expected (28 minutes) after a roaring start.

    However, I still don’t understand the allusion in 23a (not 22a) MAESTRO to a card.

    I enjoyed 3d WAISTCOAT and 12a NON-SLIP.

  3. Eileen says:

    Hi Bryan

    Maestro is the name of a debit card.

    Thanks for pointing out the error – I’ll correct it.

  4. Bryan says:

    Many thanks, Eileen.

  5. liz says:

    Thanks, Eileen. I found this a bit heavy-going. Missed 4dn and had to use the check button a few times. I share your reservations about 21ac, 22dn and (now I’ve read the blog) 4dn. I did enjoy 1ac and 27ac.

  6. Ian says:

    This was one of those Rover puzzles where you pencil in the correct answer and then spend longer than necessary trying to reconcile it with the clue. Typical of this was ‘Chianti’ and ‘Naked’.

    Like Bryan, the start provided by 1ac and 9ac did not materialize into a puzzle quickly finished!!

    Regarding 17ac, ‘Libation’ is, like ‘Tincture’ a word I’ve often used when asking an acquaintance for their choice of liquid refreshment at the local. Because of that, I’ve tended to associate it with alcoholic beverages!

  7. Radler says:

    This had too many cryptic definitions for my liking, and I too had reservations about some of the intended double definitions – including Buttercup the cow, who, (like her friend Daisy) is named after the flower.
    Overall, I found it rather weak, but that’s probably in part due to its following two very strong puzzles from Araucaria and Crucible.

  8. Kathryn's Dad says:

    Enjoyable solve today (unlike the Indy). Thanks for the blog, Eileen. I share your reservations about NAKED and CHIANTI, but was pleased to discover our Canadian porcupine, URSON. Would sound bear-like to a Québécois, though, since ourson means bear-cub in French – Winnie the Pooh is known as Winnie l’Ourson. And porcupines and bears are not that closely related, are they?

  9. andi says:

    with no arms – i.e. exposed to harm; vulnerable: “naked to mine enemies” (Shakespeare)

  10. andi says:

    Could someone please explain 1D to me? I just can’t get my head around it.

  11. Eileen says:


    Yes, that’s the way I took it – but I still don’t see it as a completely different meaning from its primary ‘uncovered’ one.

    And re 1dn: it’s not great, as Andrew pointed out, but ‘underground’ can mean ‘secret’.

    Kathryn’s Dad

    I wondered about that, too, when I saw that the derivation was the Latin ‘ursus’, by way of French ‘ours / ourson’. I don’t know much about porcupines [Rover has a bit of a thing about them today] but I didn’t think they were much like bears, either.


    I agree that this was a disappointing end to the week. Rover is not among my favourite compilers, unlike the other two that you mention, who most certainly are. [I’m sure I’ve said before that I don’t understand why he’s rated ‘hard’ on this site.]However, as we often say, it’s a good job we’re all different, as others seem to have enjoyed it.

  12. Gaufrid says:

    Where’s the problem with a lack of a dd in 22d?
    Naked = unclothed = bare
    Naked = unarmed (not carrying a gun) = with no arms
    ‘Unclothed’ and ‘not carrying a gun’ seem to me to be two different definitions.

    I don’t think 4d was intended to be a dd, surely it is just a cd.

  13. Uncle Yap says:

    Gaufrid, I am sure I can construct a sentence where ‘bare’ and ‘with no arms’ are interchangeable and therefore they are duplicate definitions of ‘naked’

    So, please allow me to repeat what I said in my commentary about a Rufus clue :

    Guardian 24,840 – Rufus
    # 27 Uncle Yap says:
    October 27th, 2009 at 12:51 am

    Before this puzzle becomes cold, may I draw attention to 19A Sends away for books (6) which has been intended and interpreted as a double definition clue.

    Recently, I alluded to the concept of a duplicate definition when both definitions are “water from the same well” and I used an example to illustrate this. Season well (6) is a valid dd for SPRING but Bound to jump (6) is merely duplicating the definition for spring.

    Due to expected demand, he sent away for/booked the new Harry Potter novel well before the publication date. You can see that “send away for” and “book” are interchangeable and identical in meaning; so surely this is NOT a double definition as we know it; but a duplicate definition clue.

    Perhaps, someone erudite like Don Manley who codifies the modern rules for cryptic crosswords can formalise a new device and call it duplicated definition (or “dud” to distinguish this from the normal dd).

    A dud can be just as cryptic and sometimes, the surface can be very appealing, especially when they are used like different parts of speech (verb and noun in the above Rufus example).

    Then, instead of calling the clue a flawed dd, let’s call it a legitimate dud.

    My take is this : too many compilers and crossword editors have forgotten about the strict construction of a dd and strayed into what I termed dud or two duplicate definitions, passing off as a dd. However flawed as a dd it may be, many of the dud’s have quite smooth surfaces and can be said to be quite cryptic….hence my attempt to give it legitimacy by coining the new genre of ‘dud’.

    Maybe in this fresh thread, I may get some more reaction.

  14. cholecyst says:

    21 ac CHIANTI. I can’t see a problem with the DD. There is an area in Tuscany between Florence and Siena known as Chianti which contains mountains (more like hills actually) called Monte dei Chianti. Of course the wine takes its name from the area. There are also many place names which include the area name – Radda in Chianti, Greve in Chianti, Gaiole in Chianti etc. Although they are famous for wine, I don’t believe their names mean they are actually immersed in the stuff. I’m getting quite nostalgic just writing this!

  15. Eileen says:


    As I tried to explain in Comment 11, ‘unclothed’ and ‘unarmed’ both, to me basically mean ‘uncovered’ or ‘unprotected’. I don’t think your two definitions are distinct enough to make this a good clue.

    As for 4dn, I wasn’t sure whether to call it a double definition – but I don’t think it’s very cryptic, either, I’m afraid. How about ‘A Scotsman’s unit of power [4]?

  16. Andrew says:

    Eileen – I agree with you about NAKED.

    Cholecyst: as I see it, the problem with clues like 21ac is that they don’t obey the rule of unambiguously leading to the right answer. To give some (rather poor) examples:

    Cheese place (4) – could be BRIE or EDAM


    Cheese for a cat (8) – can only be CHESHIRE

    As a borderline case:

    Gorge on cheese (7) – clearly gives CHEDDAR, even though the two meanings are closely related.

  17. cholecyst says:

    Andrew: I would agree with you had the clue not mentioned Tuscany – what other wine shares its name with mountains in that rather overpriced region?

  18. muck says:

    cholecyst: “21 ac CHIANTI. I can’t see a problem with the DD. There is an area in Tuscany between Florence and Siena known as Chianti which contains mountains (more like hills actually) called Monte dei Chianti.”

    Monte is mountain in my Italian dictionary, but they are certainly hills!

  19. MarkB says:

    Re: 6dn

    Might the derivation of urson actually be from hérisson (hedgehog) rather than ourson (bear cub)?

  20. Eileen says:

    That’s an attractive idea, MarkB. I got the derivation I mentioned from both SOED and Chambers. The word isn’t in my Collins at all.

  21. Uncle Yap says:

    4D A Frenchman’s charge for electricity (7) is supposed to be a dd but the two elements are like water from the same well as similar as An Englishman’s unit of force (6) or Scotman’s power unit (4)

    Mountains of wine in Tuscany (7) is similar to Country hat (6) or City paper (6)

    All these “drops of water from the same well” may well be valid cryptic clues pretending to be dd’s but they are certainly not dd’s as defined by the four examples in Don Manley’s book, Chambers Crossword Guide.

  22. Eileen says:

    Uncle Yap

    My facetious ‘Scotsman’s unit of power’ at comment 15 was intended to make the very point you have just made. It was meant not as a serious suggestion but, by analogy, as an illustration of the weakness of 4dn.

  23. Bryan says:

    I now recall that Rover’s Cryptic # 24801 (10 September 2009) also gave rise to a lot of discussion about his/her clues. Me? I couldn’t care less and I will now repeat what I said on that occasion:

    Rover is an innovator and, like all innovators, he/she is meeting antagonism from the traditionalists.

    Who cares if he/she doesn’t spell Cauliseum correctly – we all knew what he/she meant. In any event, it may have simply been a Grauniad intervention.

    Now that Pyjamanese and Liberpudlian puzzles are old hat, please Give a Hearty Welcome to the New Era of Roverian Puzzles.

    Betcha Hugh Stephenson will be singing his/her praises before the millenium is out.

    They all laughed at Christopher Columbus when he said the world was round …

  24. Dave Ellison says:

    Eileen et al: why don’t you demure to 23a, then, if you object to 4d and 21a? Let me make sure I have this clearly: 4d Coulomb was a Frenchman (the first definition); and a charge for electricity is called a Coulomb (the second definition; actually I didn’t like the “charge for electricity” bit as I would have said “electrical charge”), so this word Coulomb has two definitions, just as 23a has. Aren’t Frenchman and electricity chalk and cheese? I must admit I didn’t see the card bit of 23a, I thought it must be a mipsprint for car!

    I missed out on 27a, as I was convinced the recruits had something to do with “conscription”.

  25. Dave Ellison says:

    Andrew #16. While I see “Cheese place (4) – could be BRIE or EDAM”, this would add to the fun for me. If I had the checking letters, no problem; if I didn’t, I would try to jostle with the alternatives to help me with solving the intersecting clues.

  26. Eileen says:

    Hi Dave

    Oh dear, I wish I hadn’t got so involved in this question of Physics, with which I am so unfamiliar. As far as I can make out from Wikipedia, the coulomb, the unit of electric charge, took its name directly from the French physicist, Charles-Augustin de Coulomb, just as, in my example, the watt, unit of power, took its name from the Scottish engineer, James Watt, and, to me, the connection seemed so strong as to make for a rather weak clue, be it double or cryptic [or neither] definition.

    I’m afraid I can’t see any similarity at all with 23ac, where I can’t conceive of a connection between maestro = conductor and Maestro = a kind of debit card.

  27. liz says:

    Eileen — I’m with you. I didn’t find the clues in question innovative, just a bit weak. I’m not against innovation or libertarian clueing, far from it, but I think it’s fair to point out when clues deliver a disappointing ‘oh well’, rather than ‘aha’.

  28. IanN14 says:

    Blimey, it’s all kicking off here a bit, isn’t it?
    4d. forget the physics, how about “American named Henry’s car” (4)?
    Cryptic? No.
    Maestro, on the other hand, as Eileen says, is a proper clue.
    And Bryan @23 (who couldn’t care less about the quality of clues), if this is the “New Era”, please can I have “old hat”?

  29. Eileen says:

    Hi Liz

    Thank you – I’d been getting rather despondent!

    And Ian – I wondered where you were!

    Re innovation: I think it’s perhaps time to say that, according to Jonathan Crowther’s ‘A to Z of crosswords, Rover was born in 1932. In defence of my [?] generation, I hasten to add that that doesn’t necessarily mean he can’t be innovative but I’d tend to say ‘maverick’. I notice that this site, while labelling him as ‘hard’, has not ventured to classify him as either Ximenean or libertarian.

    PS: I don’t really want to tempt fate but no one has taken me up on ‘poked’ or ‘gnawing’ as anagram indicators – or the pronunciation of CORFU!

  30. IanN14 says:

    …I’m with you on “naked” too, Eileen.
    It’s just unequipped with either guns or clothes?

  31. Eileen says:

    Exactly, Ian. That’s what I meant at comment 15.

  32. IanN14 says:

    Sorry Eileen,
    Just got in.
    I have to say I wasn’t too bothered about poked and gnawing. Not great, but I’ve seen worse.
    I DO very much agree with you (and Andrew regarding “here” as the definition) about Corfu…

  33. Mr Beaver says:

    Eileen, I agree ‘poked’ or ‘gnawing’ aren’t standard anagrinds, but as the standard ones become more familiar to solvers, setters can’t be blamed for seeking out less obvious ones – especially when the fodder is fairly easy to spot.
    As for dodgy homophones – I rather like them; I found COR-FU very groanworthy.
    Uncle Yap – as no-one else has taken your bait, let me say I like the idea of a ‘dud’ – so often descriptive of the clue !

  34. Sil van den Hoek says:

    We didn’t so this crossword today (still had to finish FT’s IO).
    But I am always reading this daily blog, today being happy not to be part of it.
    (I am still living in the magical world of Crucible)
    Nonetheless, I like to say something about the CORFU clue.
    Rover used exactly the same word in his (much discussed, not to say, criticised) September Crossword 24,801, and guess what?
    The definition there was … “here”.

  35. Sil van den Hoek says:

    We didn’t DO this crossword, of course.
    (Although referring to my previous post, as a stand-alone post it makes sense as well, because I wasn’t interested that much after seeing the name of the setter today – sorry Bryan (re #23 & for my typo))

  36. Dave Ellison says:

    Thanks for the reply, Eileen, but I still think along the following lines:

    Answer: Maestro; definitions: – a composer – a card chalk and cheese, I agree
    Answer: Coulomb; definitions: – a Frenchman – an electical unit chalk and cheese, don’t you agree?

  37. IanN14 says:

    But Dave,
    The coulomb would not have existed without Coulomb (or at least would have been called something else, depending on the name of its inventor/discoverer).

  38. IanN14 says:

    …if anyone thinks this is, shall we say, not one of the best, you should try today’s Araucaria prize.
    It’ll blow your mind (but not necessarily in a good way).
    Warning: Not for the fainthearted Ximenean…

  39. Bryan says:

    Hi Eileen

    So Rover was born in 1932 …

    I can now reveal that it was a vintage year and that there are now so few of us about.

    Long Live Rover and all his contemporaries!


    Founder of the Rover Fan Club

    (There used to be a boy’s paper called Rover, along with Wizard, Adventure and Hotspur – I read them all.)

  40. Eileen says:

    Good morning Bryan

    Talk about vintage year – that’s when Rufus was born, too!

    [Apparently Rover chose his pseudonym because he drove a Rover and supported Blackburn Rovers.]

  41. Ralph G says:

    22d NAKED. Just wondering if Rover had read the notes on #24,588, Chifonie 19a, 28 November last.

  42. Paul B says:

    ‘Rover is one of the great innovators’? Well, in a sense I’d have to agree.

    Wonderful puzzle (in a sense).

  43. Bryan says:

    Many thanks, Eileen

    So Rufus supported Blackburn Rovers … well that just goes to prove that he isn’t perfect.

    I’m a Lancashire lad myself but I support Oldham Athletic.

    Funnily enough I used to work in Blackburn.

  44. Bryan says:

    Correction: I’ve confused Rover and Rufus.

    This was, of course, a deliberate mistake for cryptic purposes.

  45. rfb says:

    Not to be too Rover-bashing, let me say first that I did enjoy a number of the clues, especially 4D, 18D, and 19D.
    However, I have to agree that too many of the clues are weak. As pointed out, 4D is NOT a good dd. The ‘standard’ unit of electrical charge is the coulomb. Claiming a double definition by saying it’s a French name is not my idea of a challenge. I’m not also convinced by 10D (the backbone of a porcupine might be both spinal and spiny, but I don’t see how that relates to the clue). And as a minority (living outside Europe), I had to look up Maestro in Chambers to find it’s a bank card — but I have learned to live with this kind of problem in cryptics.
    One last note – even though I’m Canadian I had to guess (correctly) at 6D. I think you would have to look long and hard to find anyone over here calling a porcupine an urson … and (off-topic) I wonder why Chambers defines it as the Canadian porcupine, since the mammal in question is more commonly called the North American or Common porcupine.

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