Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 24866 / Pasquale

Posted by mhl on November 25th, 2009


I found this rather hard work, but with lots of excellent clues – 25 across in particular.

1. NICODEMUS (DEMONIC)* + US = “American”; In chapter 3 of John’s gospel, Jesus tells Nicodemus “Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God” (King James Version)
6. VIBES VIES = “Competes” around B = “second-rate”
9. PUT YOUR FOOT DOWN Double definition
10. LEAD Double definition, as in a pencil lead, and the lead that printers added to space lines of text (still called “leading” in desktop publishing, etc.)
11. CAMPBELL A CAMP BELL might “rouse the holidaymakers”
14. THE MIKADO THEM = “Those people” + ADO = “fuss” about I K (1 King)
15. RUN-IN N = “knight” (chess notation) in RUIN = “eg dilapidated castle”
16. RATEL LATER = “subsequently” with L[eft] and R[ight] swapped (i.e. “switching sides”)
18. DUNSTABLE D = “Duke” + UNSTABLE = “Town liable to fall apart”
21. BARB Double definition; I couldn’t remember the fish
26. STACK S[ale] + TACK = “rubbishy stuff” (Sorry forgot to do this one in the original post…)
27. DISCOURSE DISCO = “Party” + (SURE)*
1. NOPAL A prickly plant. If you’re no pal, “one may conjecture” you’re an enemy
2. COTTAGE CAGE = “prison” around (TOT)*
3. DOOM DO = “Finish” + OM = “one of the honours” (Order of Merit)
4. MARX Double definition; referring to Karl Marx and Groucho Marx
5. SHOP AROUND Reverse anagram: “SHOP AROUND” might clue POSH
6. VITUPERATE TU = “union” in VIPER = “malicious person” and ATE = “troublemaker”
7. BOOLEAN BOO = “We don’t like that” + LEAN = “unproductive”, referring to boolean algebra
8. SAND LANCE Another fish I’d never heard of: SAND = “Smooth” + LANE = “way” around C = “cold”
12. PILLOW TALK Nice cryptic definition
13. HARD-BOILED Another entertaining cryptic definition
14. TARTRATES TART = “Bitter” + (TEARS)*; although tartrates are salts in a chemical sense, I’m not sure that “they are salty”
17. TESSERA TESSA = “girl” around ER = “monarch”
19. BOARDER Sounds like “border” (a “Skirt”)
22. BOYLE Sounds like “boil” = “change out of liquid state”
23. GNUS G = “Good” + NUS = “bunch of students”
24. LUDO LU[ck] = “Good fortune not half needed” + DO = “party”

30 Responses to “Guardian 24866 / Pasquale”

  1. sidey says:

    Stack is S(ale) + tack as in tacky. A variant of tat I think.

    Some excellent cluing today. The Indy’s rather good too.

  2. Bryan says:

    Many thanks, mhl, this was too tough for me and I gave up half way through.

    But no complaints!

  3. mike says:

    Initially I had PUT ONES FOOT DOWN for 9a which I thought was the convention (ONES instead of YOUR).

  4. Eileen says:

    Thanks for the blog, mhl.

    I enjoyed this very much!

    25ac is superb – &lit?

    I admired 6dn, too, for beguiling me into spending some time trying to fit NUR into the answer. I thought the definition just must be ‘troublemaker – very clever!

    I liked 18ac, too, after trying to make an anagram of ‘liable to’, which didn’t seem very likely letters for a town.

    And GNUS made me laugh.

    Mike – I’m not sure there is a convention. I remember one of the setters [it could have been Pasquale] saying he always leaves a gap for the second word in this type of clue until crossing letters make it clear. I think there was some discussion when ‘your’ was used in the clue and ‘one’s’ was required in the solution – or vice versa.

  5. Eileen says:

    In the last paragraph, I meant ‘when solving, leaves a gap’.

  6. liz says:

    Thanks, mhl. This was great fun, but tough in places. 25ac is a lovely clue and made me laugh. Some very neat cluing, I thought.

    6dn caused me a lot of trouble — I was also mislead into looking for a trouble-maker and by trying to fit NUR in there somewhere and I’ve only just now seen that the definition is ‘rail’.

    I was wondering whether there was a ‘ONE’S/YOUR’ convention too, but having been caught out too many times, I always leave a gap until I’m sure.

  7. mhl says:

    sidey: Oops, thanks for pointing out my omission – fixed now. (When writing these posts I copy and paste all the clues and then replace them with explanations.)

    Eileen, liz: I didn’t think of NUR, but I was similarly trying to work in ASLEF or RMT for a while  :) ATE / Atë for “trouble-maker” is very tricky, I think, but maybe that’s my “no classical education” issue again…

  8. liz says:

    mhl — I didn’t know ‘ate’ for trouble-maker, either, and I think it is tricky. (My classical education is also very limited.) Before I read the blog I was thinking that ‘vituperate’ might be used as a noun, without really seeing where the ‘ate’ came from! But the whole clue is so clever in its misdirection that I don’t mind the trickiness.

  9. rob lewis says:

    Well, even with a classical education I failed to spot the ‘Ate’ reference being hung up on my labour history and NUR :-)

    I did find the top right corner very frustrating – but overall a well clued and challenging puzzle that took longer that the statutory 30 mins!

  10. Eileen says:

    I haven’t got that excuse, either! – but I usually remember Ate from [O Level] ‘Julius Caesar':

    ‘And Caesar’s spirit, raging for revenge,
    With Ate by his side, come hot from Hell…’

    ‘Rail union’ was just too irresistible – as cryptic solvers we should know better! Great clue!

  11. Tom_I says:

    The first answer I entered in the grid was PUT ONE’S FOOT DOWN, which I thought would give me a good start. Only later did MARX point out my mistake.

    And I agonised over VITUPERATE. It couldn’t be any other word, but like Eileen it took me ages to spot that ‘rail’ was the definition.

  12. Ian says:

    An extremely good puzzle. Imagination, ultra-amusing 25ac, science gets a mention, two excellent CD’s esp 12dn. What’s not to like?

    Tough but very enjoyable.

  13. walruss says:

    This was a bit of a “jolly good chaps” puzzle, if anyone knows what a mean by that, and some very hard references! The clues were on balance tighter than yesterday, though.

  14. Andrew says:

    This took me most of an hour’s flight from Inverness to Luton (near Dunstable!), and I was pleased with myself for finishing it without any artificial aids. As others have said, there were a few cunning traps (putting one’s foot down, NUR, etc), and the obscure answers were guessable thanks to Pasquale’s usual fair clueing.

    My mathematical background protests slightly at 7dn: Boolean Algebra is a particular type of algebra, so BOOLEAN should perhaps be defined as “Like some algebra”.

    In 19dn I think SKIRT = BORDER works better if you read the words as verbs rather than nouns.

  15. Shirley says:

    Can anyone help us by explaining why the “don’t” in 7D is in italics?
    Are we missing something obvious?
    (Not knowing anything about Boolean)

  16. Pasquale says:

    Thanks for the comments — nice and encouraging! Next Pasquale on 29 December. See you then.

  17. Paul B says:

    A good-ish offering, but I put ONE’S in too! Cheated rotten there I was, as it is AFAIK correct to respond in the conventional manner where SI offers no other hints.

    I thought 6dn a bit unfair too, with TU for union (could have been any, frankly: which one should I choose? Just the U?) and with ATE for troublemaker. Okay, so ‘the Greek goddess of mischief’, but perhaps not all that well known as an SI convention? Pah. What the hey. At least it wasn’t Sir Doug*.

  18. Gnomethang says:

    I dived in here from Big Daves Telegraph Blog since the puzzles today were reasonably straightforward and this was recommended.
    Pasquale also sets in the DT and Toughie as well. This offering was the usual fair fare with just the right degree of difficulty and some marvellous cluing.
    Bravo on 25a and 12d. I might agree with Andrew re: some logic.
    Thanks, Pasquale.

  19. mhl says:

    Shirley: I think it’s just that booing something indicates that one really doesn’t like it, but maybe I’ve missed something…

  20. Dave Ellison says:

    I found this hard today, and only did 18 of them in 58 mins, reduced to 17 when I checked the answers!

    25ac very good, as others have said.

    I had 16a early on but didn’t put it in as RATEL didn’t sound like it would be a word.

    I was less than enthusiastic about 15a and 7d. Does “dilapidated” mean “ruined”? Not in my view. In 7d, it isn’t “like algebra”; Boolean algebra is an algebra, named after George Boole. It deals with truth values, and has many applications such as in the design of computer circuits.

  21. Sil van den Hoek says:

    We found this really hard today, and couldn’t finish it.
    While at the beginning we thought “hey this is easy” (9ac, 20ac, 21ac (seen thát before), 2d, 4d, 5d).
    Every now and then you see a Magnificent Anagram, and 25ac was one (matching IO’s ‘genuine/nugatory’ thing, recently in the FT).

    I don’t like TU being used for union, and was unfamilair with the word VITUPERATE anyway (but that’s probably my ‘fault’).

    So far I have seen no explanation for CAMPBELL being defined as Scot. If it’s just a common Scottish name ot if there is a famous Scot Campbell, I would expect a thing like ‘Scot, say’.

    I found this a very clever crossword, don’t get me wrong, but why was there a discussion yesterday about Par and Clayford, when today we have words like SAND LANCE and TESSERA?

  22. Paul (not Paul) says:

    Agree with Sil. I would have liked to have words I can find in the dictionary.

    I guessed at sand lance from the word play but found only sand launce. Also, not heard of nicodemus. Again, guessed from the letters but he’s not in my “Encyclopedia of nearly everything classical or biblical”.

    Some pretty obscure stuff but much fairer than yesterday.

  23. liz says:

    Sil — I happen to know ‘tessera’ (don’t ask why) but it’s one of those words that crop up often in cryptics because it can be clued in so many different ways, I expect.

    Maybe you are right about Campbell, but it is a very famous Scottish name and clan.

    Paul (not Paul) — ‘sand lance’ is in Chambers.

    Both answers, I thought, were gettable.

  24. Sil van den Hoek says:

    See, Liz, your last remark – that’s just the thing.
    Yesterday’s Clayford and Parvenu were also gettable.
    The fact that TESSERA crops up often in cryptics is, for me, not enough reason to accept that word more than Crayford, say.
    For me ‘tessera’ is just as obscure as ‘Clayford’.
    Ask the man on the street, and you’ll be surprised, I guess.

    Re Campbell, I know that it’s a Scottish name & clan, but defining it just like that?
    So, Naomi Campbell being Scottish? Don’t think so.

    With all this (& more) I have no real problems.
    But I still think it’s unfair to shoot off Gordius (who, BTW, is not my favourite setter) for that reason.

  25. Gary says:

    ‘ate’ was ridiculous. I’ve been doing crosswords for 30 years and never come across this ludicrously esoteric reference.

    My dictionary didn’t have it either.

  26. smutchin says:

    Sil, I agree that “Scot” is too vague a definition for Campbell, especially when the rest of the clue is a cryptic definition rather than, say, a charade or anagram that would lead unambiguously to the solution. I feel Pasquale has broken his own rules here. Well, maybe just a little.

  27. john goldthorpe says:

    Surely the difference is that while ‘tessera’ is an unusual word, it is one that a reasonably well-read person might just have come across (or at least cognate words like ‘tessellate’), but that no one is likely to have heard of Crayford except by some kind of happenstance – e.g. having grown up there. It is not, and so far as I can discover, never has been a major settlement on Watling Street. (And all this apart from the facts there is not a fish called a cray and that a crayfish is not a fish.)

  28. Sil van den Hoek says:

    Re #27:
    I don’t want to start the Crayford discussion all over again, and, John, I do see your point, but for me the crucial thing is this:
    although I have never heard of Crayford or TESSERA, I have no problems with setters using words such as these in their crosswords (as long as they are guessible from the construction – which, in my opinion both were). Discovering afterwards that I was right, is (again, for me) satisfactory enough. Meaning I’ve learned something new.

    And there is another side to this as well.
    Ever tried to set a crossword?
    Then you will understand that it cán happen that you get stuck with -R-Y-O-D,
    and so what to do next?
    Change crossing words, which can cause an unwanted chain reaction, or just choose a word that even the setter doesn’t want anyway?

  29. Cheryl O says:

    Why is “vibes” acceptable as an instrument? I’ve never seen it as such, and cannot find it anywhere

  30. mhl says:

    Cheryl O: it’s short for “vibraphone” – often used in jazz ensembles. It’s the second meaning in the reduced online Chambers:

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