Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 24889 – Gordius

Posted by Uncle Yap on December 22nd, 2009

Uncle Yap.

A  puzzle unremarkable except for some very obscure (defined as when I have to google long and hard) references to William Shakespeare’s Last Will & Testament ( and also the position of the altar from Medieval History at (which, incidentally, I would not have bothered but for the fact that I have to at least appear knowledgeable when blogging this puzzle). Some snippets of gems sprinkled all over but not enough to erase the less-than-satisfactory flavour from this setter’s apparent fondness for the abstruse

1 ACCUSER Cha of ACC (account) USER (junkie)
9 PANIC PAN (god) IC (in charge)
10 GEOMETRIC *(GET CRIME + O for ring)
12 DOOR DO (act) OR ; this stumped me for a while until I saw the obvious
14 HAEMORRHAGE Tichy cd proven when I had to refer to Chambers for the correct spelling
18 ROMAN CANDLE *(land) in ROMANCE (novel)
21 GERM Ins of ER (Elizabeth Regina) in GM (genetically modified)
22 STAGNATION *(not against)
25 ADVANTAGE Ins of VAN T (vehicle model) in ADAGE (saying)
26 CACHE Ins of AC (account) in CHE (Ernesto “Che” Guevara (1928–1967) commonly known as Che Guevara, El Che, or simply Che, was an Argentine Marxist revolutionary, physician, author, intellectual, guerrilla leader, military theorist, and major figure of the Cuban Revolution)
27 TADPOLE *(to pedal)
28 EAST END dd Bow in London is in the East End, and of altars:
The chair of the bishop or celebrant was on their east side, and the assistant clergy were ranged on each side of him. But in the middle ages the altars were placed against the east wall of the churches, or else against a reredos erected at the east side of the altar, so as to prevent all access to the table from that side; the celebrant was thus brought round to the west side and caused to stand between the people and the altar.”

1 APPEAR A PP (very soft) EAR (audience)
2 CENTRE Ins of *(rent) in CE (Church of England)
4 RIGHT Cha of RIG (outfit) HOT (sexy) minus O
5 WRONG ROAD A reversed anagram clue i.e. Wrong road is the clue for DORA
6 ITEM dd “Item, I gyve unto my wief my second best bed with the furniture” (from Shakespeare’s Last Will & Testament) and
two people having a romantic or sexual relationship (Chambers ).
7 PERSONAL PER (each) SON (child) A L (pound)
13 GRIEVANCES *(serving ace)
15 EXACT RATE dd Should be EXACT FARE (as was in my filled grid) Thanks Ian for spotting my error in transferring ….
16 PREGNANT PR (public relations or spin) + *(gannet)
17 IMPROVED IMP (spirit) ROVED (wandered)
19 CIRCLE Triple definition
20 INTEND Cha of IN (home) TEND (care)
23 GEESE Ins of SEE (diocese) in E-G (say) and the whole thing reveresed

24 INGO (d) INGO Does anybody ever use such a word? Why not info, into, onto or undo ? The mind boggles at Gordius’s seeming penchant for the obscure

Key to abbreviations used
dd = double definition
cd = cryptic definition
rev = reversed or reversal
ins = insertion
cha = charade
ha = hidden answer
*(fodder) = anagram

32 Responses to “Guardian 24889 – Gordius”

  1. IanN14 says:

    Thanks Uncle Yap,
    Especially for the help with 6d. I’d NEVER have got that part of it…
    Or the altar part of 28ac. (although I guessed, but couldn’t be bothered to look up).
    Didn’t like 27ac. (no real definition) or 12ac.
    But I did think 5ac.was quite a well hidden answer…
    By the way, I think 15ac. should be Exact FARE.

  2. IanN14 says:

    …sorry, 15down, obviously.
    Also, looking at 19d. again, surely “ring” and “round” have the same meaning?

  3. Lanson says:

    Thanks Uncle Yap, caused me problems, I entered antagonist at 22a which didn’t help, I too had exact rate for 15d, the Check button online confirms fare, could be either but I prefer rate

  4. Bryan says:

    Many thanks, Uncle Yap.

    For the most part, I found this very easy (for a Gordius) and (luckily) I guessed most of the problem clues correctly.

    Exceptionally, I was defeated by 24d, never having heard of INGO.

    I opted for INTO – even though I couldn’t relate it to a headless dog – but I would never have chosen INGO in a million years.

    As most of us know, Gordius is the pseudonym of Gordon Brown and – as a result – Gordy won’t now be getting my vote at the upcoming election.

  5. Paul B says:

    Is the missus’ bed in it? Gotta be – gotta be!

  6. Andrew says:

    Thanks Uncle Yap. I didn’t mind the “obscurities” in this – the fact that the altar is at the east end of a church is (dare I say it) pretty well known to anyone brought up in the C of E (and Gordius is a man of the cloth, of course). I learnt about Shakespeare’s second-best bed when I blogged an Orlando puzzle just over a year ago, though using it for ITEM is a bit weak.

    My main gripe is with “without feet” as the definition of TADPOLE – very poor. Oh, and 14ac is rubbish too.

  7. Eileen says:

    I’ve just spent a while typing a comment, only to find that Andrew has said pretty much what I was saying! [Sorry, Bryan! :-)]

    TADPOLE is dreadful – but typical Gordius. ‘… for one without feet’ would have been more acceptable.

    I think the story of Shakespeare’s second-best bed is reasonably well-known but ITEM is a formula used in wills, meaning ‘just so, in like manner, moreover’ [poor Anne was way down the list!] and does not denote the bed as such, although it’s easy to see how from that it came to mean ‘a separate article or particular in an enumeration’ [Chambers].

    INGO is, apparently a Scottish word [Chambers]. It’s not in my Collins or SOED.

    [No one has mentioned the pointless ellipsis in 4/5…]

  8. liz says:

    Thanks, Uncle Yap. For a Gordius, I didn’t find this too hard or obscure, but I agree that several of the clues weren’t quite satisfactory. I didn’t like INGO or ITEM and I also didn’t like the overlapping of definition and wordplay in 21ac. 5ac was a good hidden, though.

    I still don’t understand 12ac, although I filled it in correctly.

    Eileen — I thought the RIGHT/WRONG business of 4dn and 5dn justified the ellipsis to a degree.

  9. liz says:

    re 21ac. Re-reading the blog, I take back my complaint!

  10. Eileen says:

    liz, I don’t really think the ellipsis works but, since it’s the season to be charitable …! :-)

    I don’t really get 12ac, either: what’s the ‘given space’ doing?

  11. John says:

    Sorry Uncle Yap, re
    12 DOOR DO (act) OR ; this stumped me for a while until I saw the obvious
    What’s obvious?

  12. harry says:

    Eileen – I think with 12ac “given space” means that you have to read “actor” as “act or”.
    Struggled a bit with this. As a Scot, can I say that ingo is unknown round my way, as well, though I got it from the cluing and assumed that it was an archaism of some sort.

  13. liz says:

    Thanks for explaining 12ac, Harry.

  14. matt says:

    I liked 14ac, made me smile when the penny dropped. I put antagonist for 22ac first too, glad it wasn’t just me. Less Gordius gripes than usual!

  15. Tom_I says:

    I rather like Gordius’s puzzles, though I don’t find them easy. But then I’d rather get to the end feeling that I’ve been stretched a bit.

    Uncle Yap wrote:

    The mind boggles at Gordius’s seeming penchant for the obscure.

    I don’t mind that – it’s one of the things I enjoy.

  16. Ian says:

    About average for a Gordius puzzle, I’d say. Some pleasingly written clues (14ac, 26ac, 15dn), some to justify the odd complaint (12ac, 27ac) but, all in all a good work out for a Tuesday.

  17. Gazza says:

    I think that the wordplay for 1a should be AC (account) + C(aught) + USER.

  18. Bill Taylor says:

    12a is brilliant and I loved 14a. 24d is awful and I hated 27a — mainly because I had “exact cash” for 15d. I got 3d eventually but only after wrestling to find an anagram for “but it can be.” Nice bit of misdirection there.

  19. sidey says:

    When I kept tadpoles they grew up to four legs before becoming froglets. Utterly stupid definition.

    Ingo is standard fare in barred crosswords but is a sily word to use in a daily when there are more familiar alternatives.

    I’m really glad I never paid for Guardian crosswords, they simply aren’t worth it these days.

    Bah, Humbug!

  20. jmac says:

    RE comment 19, in the Wikipedia article on tadpoles it states: “They [tadpoles] do not usually have arms or legs until the transition to adulthood, and typically have dorsal or fin-like appendages and a tail”. Sidey, perhaps you a being a tad severe on the frequently maligned Gordius!

    There really must be something wrong with me because I found this a most enjoyable puzzle – I enjoyed the “Right” “Wrong” at 4 & 5 down; thought that “whisper” was a far superior offering to the general run of hidden answers; and had no issues with second best beds, headless dingos, or altar positions – in fact I thought the two meanings of “Bow” in that clue nicely misleading and well-worked.

  21. Tom Hutton says:

    I enjoyed this a lot.

    Sidey wrote “I’m really glad I never paid for Guardian crosswords, they simply aren’t worth it these days.”

    If you are not prepared to pay for crosswords in national daily papers, you don’t deserve to enjoy them. How are we to keep getting independent news sources if no one wants to pay for them?

  22. walruss says:

    I didn’t like this much. I am becoming used to better “clueing” in the Independent especially and The Times, so I am learning to be less tolerant.

  23. Benington says:

    jmac @20.

    I’m with you – thoroughly enjoyed this puzzle which had some nice clues – enjoyed 12a particularly. 24d was the last I got when I couldn’t think of any dog ending in INTO. Changed it to INGO and a quick Google confirmed it. No problem that it’s an obscure word – one of the joys of crosswords for me is coming across such words.

  24. sandra says:

    found this puzzle funny, infuriating and difficult! typical gordius for me.
    certainly some were obscure – item was pretty obvious but i couldn’t make the connection to the rest of the clue until i read the blog. i did know the word ingo, but lived in scotland for a long time – though even then, it had to be dredged up. didn’t like the definition for tadpole at all but i now accept jmac’s comment – though this seems to me more like an azed.

  25. IanN14 says:

    I think the point is that (whether they have “feet” or not) “without feet” does not, in any way, define “tadpole”.
    (See comments 1, 6 and, especially, 7).
    As for comparing this to an Azed….

  26. Paul B says:

    Gordius would be mortified I’m sure.

  27. rrc says:

    I thoroughly enjoyed this and found this far more straightforward than other of Gordius’s puzzles.

  28. Sil van den Hoek says:

    Recently, the problem with Gordius crosswords was that many of “us” highlighted the bad clues with – as a result – hammering the setter.
    While there are indeed some clues that one can be critical about today, I would like to emphasise that there are very good ones as well (as there were on the last few occasions).

    We liked the anagram of 22ac (STAGNATION) because of being in line with the rest of the clue as a whole.
    Good construction in 18ac (ROMAN CANDLE).
    And – we thought – 7d (PERSONAL) was a splendid charade.
    (only a pity that the crossing ‘whisper’ also contained the word ‘personal’)
    The ‘home care’ of 20ac, leading to INTEND, is also very nice.

    There are different opinions on 14ac (HAEMORRHAGE) and 12ac (DOOR).
    But I am pretty sure that if 14ac were in a Paul crossword, it would have been loudly praised.
    After reading harry’s explanation on DOOR (#12), I marvel at this novel kind of clueing (of which Araucaria would have been proud, I guess).
    And I did like – unlike most of you – the TADPOLE of 27ac. I know there’s no 100% definition (maybe not even 50%), but reading the clue as it is, the answer must be a “something without feet” and the anagram is so obvious that there can’t be any other solution than ‘tadpole’. So why bother? Only because a clue should contain a proper definition according to the rules? I think rules are there to be broken every now and then, and when it is in such an innocent way as in this situation, why not?

    After all this Seasonal Positivism, there are (yes, there are) some critical notes as well.
    In 5ac we didn’t like the ‘hidden answer’ indicator if there is any at all.
    We didn’t like the ‘to’ in ‘feature to watch’ (3d) either.
    ‘Seem’ in 1d is a bit odd as well, but I’ve learnt today that it can be seen as an ‘ellipsis’.
    As some of you already said, ‘round’ seems superfluous in 19d.
    Using AC for account twice (in 1ac and 26ac) should have been avoided.
    And finally, we had some problems with the position of ‘rose’ in the clue of 23d.

    We think : positive (but maybe Dora goes the other way ….)

  29. Dave Ellison says:

    I just want to say I agree with the voices of #s 20, 21 23, 24, 27 and 28.

    15d I had EXACT RAGE as a possibility

  30. Bogeyman says:

    There’s a wonderful poem by Carol Ann Duffy (now the poet laureate) in which she adopts the persona of Anne Hathaway and re-interprets Shakespeare’s gift of the “second best bed” in his will in a positive light, because it’s the one in which they made love! It’s purely imaginative speculation of course, but a brilliant idea, and a beautifully written poem. The best bed, according to Duffy, would have been the one reserved for guests, “dribbling their prose” as they sleep, whilst Anne and Will are awake all night making love poetry together.

    You can read the poem at this link: it’s the third poem down:

  31. walruss says:

    Funny how people try to exccuse Shakespeare’s misogyny, not to mention racism! Still you can’t be poet laureate and slag off The Bard I suppose. Thankyou for that link.

  32. Chunter says:


    Chambers says it’s a Scottish noun, but in the OED it’s an obsolete (non-Scottish) verb. How obsolete? The most recent of the quotations is from Wycliffe’s translation of the Bible (1382). (‘Gen. xxxviii. 16 And he yngoynge to hir, seith, Lat me, that Y goo togidere with thee.’)

    ITEM – I suppose its modern equivalent is ‘bullet point’.

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