Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 24,867 / Chifonie

Posted by Eileen on November 26th, 2009


This is perhaps [in some ways] a puzzle for those who dislike cryptic definitions – not one in sight, but lots of simple charades, including a couple of rather hackneyed ones and some definitions I’m not very keen on. [I think I’ve said before that I don’t understand why Chifonie is rated on this site as ‘hard’.] I shall be going out shortly, until mid-afternoon, when I will respond to any comments / corrections / complaints.


CHARON: CHAR [cleaner] + ON [working] : the mythological ferryman who bore souls over the River Styx into the Underworld
9   DISREPUTE: RE [soldiers] in DISPUTE
10  ACRID: C[old] in ARID

11  [thanks, Ian!] VISTA: 1ST in VA

13  RETSINA: anagram of TRIES AN: the most awful wine I’ve ever tried, so almost, for me, &lit! It’s a favourite crossword word, because it has several anagrams, incuding NASTIER!
15  DANGLE: anagram of GLENDA – but it doesn’t really mean ‘tempt’, without a direct object: you dangle something in front of someone, ‘as an encouragement or enticement’ [Chambers]
17  TENNIS: reversal of INN [local] in SET [crowd]
19  MATISSE: IS in anagram of STEAM
22  ARCHITECT: CHIT [girl] + EC [established church] inside ART [expertise] This puzzled me at first: I was looking for a reversal indicator for CE but was surprised to see [though not in Collins] that EC is an abbreviation for ‘established church’.
24  ROVER: R [hand] OVER [surplus]
26  BRAND: R [again!] in BAND [society]
27  SUNK FENCE:  SUN K [Le Roi Soleil] + FENCE [duel]
29  AT REST : R in ARREST ] edit: of course, I meant R in A TEST [thanks, Lanson]


2   ASSES [s]
3   OPERATION: PE [training?] in ORATION
5   STAKE: S [old shilling, colloquially called a ‘bob’] + TAKE [‘profit] I’d expect ‘takings’ but Chambers gives ‘take’ as ‘ the amount of money taken’ – which is not all profit, but perhaps that’s too niggly!
6   ACROPOLIS: anagram of POOL CAR IS
7   ENDURE: END + URE: yet another outing for my beloved Wensleydale river
14 TRENCHANT: TR [transport leaders] ENCHANT [fascinate]
16  NET PROFIT: NET [capture] PRO [supporting] FIT [position – as a verb]
18  STEPSON: STEPS ON: named by one of my fellow-bloggers as ‘the most abused relative in crosswords’.
19 MATINS: MA + TIN [can] + S[on]
20  EARNEST: anagram of RESENT A  – earnest = firm?
23  INDUS: [h]INDU’S:

30 Responses to “Guardian 24,867 / Chifonie”

  1. IanN14 says:

    Thanks Eileen,
    Did you miss out 11ac. on purpose?
    It does include the slightly contentious IST for 1st, but this time I think it’s OK.
    I quite liked the &lit. nature of 12ac. but that was about it.
    I have to disagree with you about Retsina, though.
    I wouldn’t normally choose to drink it, but there’s nothing better than a really cold glass with a nice meze…
    And Charon also gets a run out in the Indy today, is it perhaps his birthday or something?

  2. Eileen says:

    Sorry, Ian! I remember thinking of you and smiling when I solved it! Corrected now.

  3. Lanson says:

    Thanks Eileen, 29a I presume you meant R in A TEST

  4. Eileen says:

    Thanks, Lanson. I’m just getting my coat!

  5. Uncle Yap says:

    Thank you, Eileen

    27A You forgot to mention that ha-ha = a ditch or vertical drop often containing a fence, eg between a garden and surrounding parkland, forming a barrier without interrupting the view (Chambers).

  6. liz says:

    Thanks, Eileen. I vaguely remembered that Chifonie is classed as a ‘hard’ setter, but I found most of this very straightforward.

    I would also query ‘earnest’ for ‘firm’, and ‘trenchant’ for ‘driving’, although I wasn’t held up by either of them.

    Eventually got ‘architect’ from the checking letters without seeing the wordplay. Thanks for explaining it.

    Ian14 — I quite like retsina, too, but only when I’m in Greece!

  7. ray says:

    Thanks for the explanation of 25d Eileen. The crossing letters showed what it had to be and that fitted the “and rendezvous” bit, but I couldn’t see where “start off drive” was going.

  8. Kathryn's Dad says:

    Thank you, Eileen, especially for the explanations of the ones that I got but didn’t understand why. I got the top half pretty quickly but struggled with the bottom half for some reason. I wasn’t keen on dangle=tempt either. Very enjoyable solve for me.

  9. Bryan says:

    Many thanks, Eileen

    This was very enjoyable and straightforward, although someone is sure to take issue with the profusion of foreign words: CHARON, RETSINA, ACROPOLIS, LAMBDA, INDUS and MATISSE.

    However, you failed to comment on Chifonie’s delightful tribute to a fellow Setter whom, as we both know, is your particular favourite. So, will the lucky fellow now reciprocate?

  10. John says:

    Distemper would certainly affect Pluto’s mood, as Mickey Mouse would attest.

  11. Conrad Cork says:

    Would somebody help me (as I am approaching my date with the Styx ferryman) by telling me whether I should pronounce him Sharon or Karen? Thanks in advance but after my river trip I shan’t be getting back to anyone – except Orpheus perhaps.

  12. Ian says:

    Thanks for the blog, Eileen.

    I don’t know why, but i thought that this was not the usual type of Chifonie puzzle.

    Nonetheless, it represented a reasonably stiff test for me this lunchtime, especially as I was unfamiliar with the mythological ferry operative, despite insering the correct answer.

    There is some humour as always with this setter, especially Stepson at 18dn and Retsina at 13ac.

    As Eileen has alluded to with (?) at 3dn, PE = Training was a wee bit loose, but totally forgivable.

    Liz (#6) I’d say that Chifonie in my experience is, in gerneral terms, somewhere betwixt medium and hard. Notwithstanding the fact that you are probably smarter than me!

  13. Bryan says:

    Conrad Cork

    I’ve always pronounced him Car-On and, so far, he’s never complained.

  14. Conrad Cork says:


    Thanks for that. I’ll try it, and hope I don’t get chucked overboard.

  15. Benington says:

    I’ve always pronounced him Car-On and, so far, he’s never complained.


    Car-on. Seems apt for a ferry…

  16. Eileen says:

    Renewed apologies for the errors and omissions: I was either still half-asleep or rushing to get out – for a group walk in the lovely Rutland countryside, on a beautifully sunny day, with a fine pub lunch to follow.

    Uncle Yap: the omission of an explanation of ‘ha-ha’ was deliberate. There has been quite a bit of discussion lately about what might, or might not be ‘obscure’, with the inevitable conclusion that what is one person’s obscure is another’s commonplace. As a blogger, I find it quite difficult [and you probably do, too] to know how far to go in explaining clues or definitions, as I’m very anxious not to appear patronising. My choices are quite idiosyncratic, based largely on my own interests or areas of expertise [eg Classics, English Literature, History, etc.] I thought people would most likely know CHARON but I included him for the above reason. I also thought that people would know what a ha-ha was – or, if not, could very easily find out from a dictionary. I would really welcome frank feedback as to how much explanation contributors expect or would like – but, of course, it will be different for everybody! People can [and often do] ask for further clarification but it’s more difficult for them to complain about ‘too much information’.

    Conrad Cork: I’ve never had need to address Charon but, when talking about him, I would use the Anglicised ‘Care-on’. The Greeks would refer to him as ‘Char-own': Ch as in Scottish ‘loch’, short ‘a’ and ‘own’ as in ‘mown’. Don’t worry too much about it: your pronunciation will probably be unintelligible, owing to the obligatory penny under your tongue, without which he won’t ferry you, anyway. :-) [Nice one, Benington!]

    Bryan: yes, I failed on several counts today but in vain I searched this puzzle for any reference to Araucaria, Paul, Pasquale, Rufus, Brendan, Orlando, Taupi et al, so I’m afraid I can’t think what you are talking about!

  17. Bryan says:

    Oh dear, Eileen, how could you overlook The Master?

    And does Charon’s ferry also take hearses?

  18. mhl says:

    Thanks for the helpful post, Eileen. I think you get the balance of how much to explain in the blog about right, although I also find it difficult to guess what’s worth mentioning.

    Personally, I find Chifonie’s puzzles pretty tough. e.g. today I thought it was more difficult than either Tees or Falcon – the bottom half in particular caused me problems.

    I guessed that “Ha-ha!” would refer to the ditch, but didn’t know the phrase SUNK FENCE and had forgotten about “Sun King” for Louis XIV – tricky clue overall. It reminded me of Bernard in Arcadia’s remark that it should be pronounced “ha-HA!” as you would if you suddenly stumbled across a ditch.  :) I share your reservations about “tempt” for DANGLE.

    Was anyone else surprised about PARTISAN for guerilla? Is there a particular sense I’m missing?

  19. Eileen says:

    Hi mhl

    Thanks for that. I don’t think ‘sunk fence’ is a phrase, as such. I think I would expect ‘sunken’. Now, your story about the ha-ha is just the kind of thing I think is worth including.

    Re PARTISAN: I did have a question mark against it initially, then found ‘an irregular resister within the enemy occupation lines’ [Chambers] and ‘a member of an armed resistance group within enemy territory’ [Collins].

    Bryan: I think this joke has gone far enough! Re your second question: my Classical education gave me no information on that.

  20. walruss says:

    I did wade through this one a bit, because to me it could’ve been more interesting, but there was a very funny one about DAVE in his CAR, which brought a chuckle. Dry though, maybe in all.

  21. NeilW says:

    Yes, come on Bryan! Put up or…

  22. Paul B says:

    O Benington, thou art witty.

    I thought this quite sunny for a Chiff, and – surprise surprise? – I didn’t think any of the inclusions unfair! They’re all in common enough usage AFAICS, and there were some well-structured clues. Except for SUNK FENCE: I had no idea what that was about.

  23. NeilW says:

    mhl, I’m no great historian but weren’t the Yugoslavian partisans in World War II the inventors of guerilla tactics, in the modern sense? Or was it the other way round – the first use of the word ‘partisans” to describe those using guerilla tactics? Whichever, my mind links the two words.

  24. Derek Lazenby says:

    Hi, class dummy here again. I thought 12 was a cd on the grounds I can’t justify DIS. If it’s supposed to come from “affecting” then “Pluto” is in the way of joining it to “mood”. That leaves temper as a sort of partial &lit, just to put you on the right track. And I certainly can’t think that DIS = Pluto.

    Comments anyone?

  25. Kathryn's Dad says:

    Eileen, re your question at 16. For me, the amount of detail you’ve provided is fine, but I wouldn’t feel patronised if bloggers added a bit more information for us beginners/intermediates, although I realise you can’t explain every single nuance. My sense is that if you’re contributing to or lurking on this site then you have a basic understanding of how clues work. I guess if you’re more experienced then you wouldn’t necessarily need the explanation anyway. And the idiosyncratic nature of each blog is also welcome – as you say, everyone has a different perspective.

  26. Lanson says:

    Derek, Dis is indeed Pluto, a shortened form of Dis Pater, Roman god of the underworld, nice link to 1a, which is also a satellite of the former planet Pluto

  27. Derek Lazenby says:

    TA Lanson.

    Wonder how mamy of the general readership knew that? Never mind, we’ve been down that track before.

  28. Eileen says:

    Hi Kathryn’s Dad

    Thanks for the feedback. I take your points: what I was really talking about, in response to Uncle Yap’s observation that I had not explained the definition, was not so much the explanation of the wordplay of the clues but the ‘general knowledge’ background, if you like. In 27ac, ‘Louis XIV to duel’ is the wordplay, which I did explain, and what is left [‘ha-ha’] is the definition, which I did not [nor PASSAGE, DISTEMPER, MATISSE, for example.] If I had had mhl’s little snippet re ‘ha-ha’ to add, I probably would have. As I said, I tend to expand on things I know about / am interested in or, alternatively, comment on something new I’ve learned, which I think might be new to others, too, but turns out to be absolutely obvious to them, because of their different [and I’m afraid I mean usually scientific] background.

    Incidentally, re ‘passage': when I saw that, I wondered if there might be a query about it. I was reminded that, when I was a child, people referred to the ‘passage’ in their house – ‘hall’ was regarded as rather posh! I haven’t heard that usage for ages – was it just a local thing?

    Derek – it’s nice to hear from you: [sorry, I was out again when you posted the first time]. DIS = PLUTO / HELL / UNDERWORLD etc. is quite common in crosswords – apart from the times when DIS = ‘princess’s’! [Lanson’s extra bit of information illustrates my point, I think.]

  29. FishAreBest says:

    I wouldn’t call Ha-Ha obscure. There is one in Loxley Hall, as any Archers Fan will tell you!

    INDUS made me chuckle/groan – sign of a good clue.

    But we got stuck on a couple in the top left – hence we came here to cheat :-)

  30. Alex says:

    Very much enjoyed today’s offering, even though a couple of the clues (14d, 15a) seemed to stretch things a little, as others have pointed out. Got in a tangle with 20d (Eastern – reading ‘firm’ as ‘company’ – rather than Earnest) which rather held things up, but never mind.

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