Fifteensquared

Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 24893 – Pasquale

Posted by Uncle Yap on December 29th, 2009

Uncle Yap.

What a well-disguised theme which I did not unravel until I have practically solved all the clues. Once that unfolded, everything started to make sense. Very entertaining effort from Don.

ACROSS
9 OBSERVANT Ins of B (bee) in O (old) SERVANT (maid, perhaps)
G10 HAPPY It was only when I solved this, 21A and 24A that I realised G stood for GLAD. Ins of PP (per pro or for and on behalf of used when you sign a document in the absence of the stated signatory) in HAY (a windy country dance)
11 ENIAC Electronic Numerical Integrator And Calculator and of course we are returning Michael CAINE, the famous British actor
12 PICAROONS *(Capri soon)
13 SEMINAR SEMI (semi-detached house) NAR (rev of ran, managed)
14 ISSUING Is Suing (taking someone to court)
17 ORBIT OR (other ranks or men) + BIT (very little information from binary digit)
19 BAG (3) a travelling bag or small portmanteau, opening out flat, named in honour of  W.E.GLADSTONE .
20 RAMBO Cha of RAM (Aries stars) BOY (lad) minus Y
G21 PLEASED P (first letter of prison) + LEASED (let out)
22 OVERARM Cha of OVER (above) A RM (Royal Marines, or fighting force)
G24 DELIGHTED Ins if LIGHT (land) in DEED (legal document)
26 TIMER Rev of REMIT (dispatch)
28 LANCE PARLANCE ( a manner of speaking) minus PAR (what’s expected)  to give a cavalry weapon with a long shaft
29 ANTENATAL A N (a new) + ins of A (ace) in *(talent)

DOWN
1,27 HOME RULE HOMER (Greek poet of Iliad & Odyssey fame) YULE (Christmas) minus Y. W E Gladstone (1809–1898) was a British Liberal Party statesman and four times Prime Minister of the United Kingdom (1868–74, 1880–85, 1886 and 1892–94). He was also Chancellor of the Exchequer and a champion of the Home Rule Bill which would have established self-government in Ireland.
2 OSMIUM Ins of I (middle letter of Devizes) in reversal of MUM (mother) SO
S3 DRACONITES *(actors dine) a precious stone fabled to come from a dragon’s brain. The first STONE that when combined with GLAD gave GLADSTONE
S4 JASPER Ins of S (society) in JAPER (joker) for the second stone
5 STOCKING Lovely and seasonal dd
6 CHAR CHAIR minus I
7 APHORISM Ins of O R (nothing right) in *(mishap)
8 EYAS Cha of EY (EnemY) AS (when) an unfledged hawk, ie without feathers for flying
13 SLOOP S (first letter of storm) LOOP (rev of pool or pond)
S15 SERPENTINE Cha of SERPENT (speaker addressing Eve) IN E (first letter of Eden) the third stone
16 GLOOM Ins of LO (see) in G.O.M. (Grand Old Man as Gladstone was sometimes known although Disraeli, his great political rival,  said it stood for God’s Only Mistake :-)
18 BEETLING Cha of BEE (insect) T (time) LING (heather)
19 BEDSTRAW Rev of WARTS (lumps) DEB (short for debutante)
22 ODDITY OLD DITTY minus the centre letters
23 ADMITS Ins of MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology, American university) in ADS (advertisements or notices)
24 DELI Benjamin DISRAELI minus IS RA (artist)
25 GREY Charles Grey, 2nd Earl Grey, (1764–1845), known as Viscount Howick between 1806 and 1807, was Prime Minister of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland from 22 November 1830 to 16 July 1834
However, his claim to fame is the naming of the aromatic blend of tea after him.

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

38 Responses to “Guardian 24893 – Pasquale”

  1. mike says:

    Many thanks, Uncle Yap. It took a while for me to solve GS but when that happened it all fell into place. A delightful crossword.

  2. Jim says:

    Deduced Gladstone when 19a fell into place after solving 5 and 19 down but it took me a long time after that to twig the splitting of the name.

    An interesting puzzle.

  3. Eileen says:

    Thank you, Uncle Yap.

    What a delight – a most unusual puzzle for the bicentenary of the birth of the Grand Old Man. Very many thanks, Pasquale!

    I got the theme early on, with BAG, quickly confirmed by HOME RULE, but it was such fun to solve all the glads and stones [I'd never heard of draconites but, of course, it was faultlessly clued].

    Favourite clue: 24dn – but there were so many good ones. I loved it!

  4. Bryan says:

    Many thanks, Uncle Yap & Pasquale.

    This was too tough for me (with 6 failures) but nonetheless very enjoyable.

    I gave up when I realised I wasn’t going to solve it this year.

    I’ve never heard of PICAROONS and I entered GRAY in that grey area but No Complaints: I do like a challenge!

  5. Ian says:

    Astonishing stuff yet again from Pasquale! Thanks for the blog Uncle Yap for clariying one or two of the items that needed a little more explanation.

    My road into this one came from HOMER ULE and after that everything fell into place.

    Too many good clues to highlight but 11a and 20a were my favourites.

    Tough but satisfying.

  6. walruss says:

    A lot of very difficult words in this one, presumably to enable the theme. Not as impressive as one of the themed Independent puzzles I have become used to seeing, which tend to be written by people who can avoid including too much extra difficulty. I still think this is quite well-clued, for a Guardian puzzle!!

  7. sandra says:

    not often that i am completely defeated but 11a and 20a had me stumped. didn’t know eniac at all, nor anything about rambo. nonetheless, a clever and entertaining puzzle as one expects from “the don”.

  8. MartinB says:

    Fascinating to see the Guardian running two pieces of editorial on the subject of Gladstone – one in the leader page and the other on the Comment page before it – on the same day as the theme appears in the crossword. Joined-up journalism?

  9. Bryan says:

    For Sandra:

    Rambo is a movie character played by Sylvester Stallone. He’s featured in lots of movies over the past 27 years or so with more in the pipeline:

    http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0462499/

    In case you wondered, you’ve missed NOTHING except the solution, of course.

  10. liz says:

    Thanks, Uncle Yap. This was very entertaining and quite a tough one! I was a little slow on the uptake re the GS theme. Got the ‘glad’ part early on, but it wasn’t until I got BAG much later that I saw the theme. Missed 11ac, despite understanding that it should be surname backwards…

  11. Tom_I says:

    I found this pretty tough, but got there in the end. I didn’t spot the theme until quite late on, but it’s always a moment to savour when the penny finally drops! Another excellent Pasquale puzzle – very entertaining and enjoyable, I thought.

  12. sandra says:

    many thanks bryan at #9 – i will know in future.

  13. Derek Lazenby says:

    Have some people stopped posting? I was expecting to have seen someone comment upon the alleged unfairness of using anagrams for obscure words rather than charades.

    It didn’t bother me because the Chambers Word Wizard came to my rescue. But on behalf of the missing posters can I ask, how exactly are you expected to solve an anagram which gives something you’ve never heard of? Would anyone one who also didn’t know picaroons or draconites, but solved them manually, tell me how they did it please? And please don’t say “crossing letters”, because I didn’t have any. In fact I used those answers as checking letters for the other clues!

    So go on, enlighten me (and I suspect others), what’s the trick when this type of clue has to stand alone? Or are our missing posters correct in claiming unfairness for this type of clue?

    Then amuse yourself by looking up draconites in Wikipedia, oh ok I’ll do it for you, it says “Johann Draconites (b. about 1494, d. 18 April 1566 in Wittenberg), theologian, humanistic philosopher and reformer … “, then guess why I got confused about how the clue worked :D

  14. anax says:

    DRACONITES was new to me although PICAROONS wasn’t (although I did need a couple of checkers before I saw the answer).

    In fairness, anagrams are probably the fairest way to clue unfamiliar answers – at least you’re given all the letters, beyond which it’s just a case of working out how they fit together. For PICAROONS you could at least place the S with some confidence, and perhaps the ITES of DRACONITES would fall fairly quickly.

    What Don does conscientiously is try to give the solver every chance, particularly with more obscure answers. And in PICAROONS and DRACONITES we have a couple of words which we can add to our vocabulary rather than arcane literary or musical references.

    Hats off to the boss fella – he consistently offers just the right level of challenge in puzzles which always succumb to a little determination.

  15. Derek Lazenby says:

    Hmmm…. I may well have tried ITE as a common ending for types of stone, but without any plural indicator, I don’t see how ITES is obvious.

  16. liz says:

    Both were new to me. I got DRACONITES by guessing the NITES part and then guessing it might be DRACO after dragon. I got PICAROONS by having some checking letters that suggested the OONS ending and then guessing PICAR from picaresque. In both cases, I used the check button to confirm. I think that the order in which you solve can help or hinder, as both of these would have been very difficult to crack without any checking letters at all.

  17. Sil van den Hoek says:

    I can’t remember a more or less recent crossword that we found so hard to tackle as this one.
    And the end result was pretty poor as well: at least half of the squares blank … !

    Looking at it afterwards one must say there’s nothing really unfair, but still I have other feelings about this crossword than most of you.
    In looking for what GS stands for, we were thinking of two words, like George Something. Fair enough.
    I am not sure if it is fair to code Gladstone by GS.
    Although the breakdown to G(lad) and S(tone) is rather nice.
    And then, of course, there is my handicap of not being British in this crossword.
    I thought my vocabulary was pretty good so far, but after today’s crossword I have to think about that.

    Let’s take a closer look (knowing what G and/or S stand for):

    20ac: RAM for ‘stars’ (Plural (yes I know)? Bit of a ‘general’ definition, isn’t it?). And BO for ‘inadequate boy’?
    22ac: OVERARM must be ‘type of delivery from above’, I guess – so the OVER bit comes from ‘reaching’ (unlike in the blog)?
    24ac: LIGHT for ‘land’? I am not sure if I find that fair.
    28ac: Ultimately a fair construction, but don’t tell me it’s obvious (‘parlance’ is not in my vocabulary (yet) and, when not finding that word, deleting ‘par’ is not really easy to see).
    4d: I didn’t know the word ‘japer’ (rather similar to ‘joker’), so JASPER didn’t come across.
    8d: Why is the word ‘completely’ in this clue? It is misleading because one might think that that word should be emptied (leading to CY). Never heard of EYAS (who has?).
    15d: I didn’t link Eve with Serpent (but that’s my ‘fault’ being brought up without The Bible), but I am not sure if SERPENTINE is a ‘stone’ – it is a mineral (the same?)).
    16d: G.O.M. : how should I know (apart from the fact that I/we didn’t find the meaning of GS)?
    22d: I’ve never heard of a ‘ditty’ (again, my problem, I guess), not making this clue easy.
    23d: MIT for an ‘American university’ where one probably thinks of AMU or USU? Pfff.
    25d: Can’t be found when you don’t know what GS stands for.

    Conclusion:
    -this crossword was top-heavy, too serious, no humour at all
    -I am a great admirer of The Don, and in the end it was (mostly) fair in theory
    -I still have a lot to learn

    Very different crossword, not satisfying (sorry).

  18. Pasquale says:

    Thanks for the feedback, favourable and otherwise. The heading ‘Remembering GS’ was accidentally deleted after the proof stage, but I don’t think this was too detrimental to the enjoyment of most solvers. If there was any joined-up journalism, it was accidental. One hesitates to produce anniversary puzzles, because so often someone else has the same idea, but I must say that once I had spotted the date, the idea of a G+S theme and variations treatment was irresistible — but I didn’t want the idea to be too obvious, hence that obscure rock!

  19. Derek Lazenby says:

    Sil, don’t forget there are a lot of expert posters here and they will enjoy the harder puzzles more than mere mortals and say so. Some of us are less talented, despite being English.

    And there are many who only read these posts because they rarely finish and are therefore timid about posting. You regularly do better than these, and they are English, so don’t let this one get you down. You’ve probably also done those people a favour by listing all the ones they had trouble with. If they ever posted they would probably thank you for that list you gave.

  20. Derek Lazenby says:

    The heading was in the on-line version!

    OMG! For once the on-line version was more accurate! Excuse me whilst I sit down in a state of shock.

  21. Dave Ellison says:

    Sil @
    #17
    I found this hard too, and agree with many of your comments. I thought it might refer to Gilbert and Sullivan at first.

    Ditty is not a very common word. Kenneth Williams of Round The Horn fame as Rambling Syd Rumpo used to sing ditties as in The Cordwangler’s Ditty. I can’t find a snatch of this but you can hear other tracks on
    Amazon or see him on You Tube

  22. Sil van den Hoek says:

    Re #21:
    Dave, this crossword was just not ‘my cup of tea’ , being too serious , it was just very different from the normal Guardian stuff (which is not a problem) but this one was ,
    I think , too different (unless you have ‘something’ in common with the theme).
    BTW, I thought of Gilbert & Sullivan as well.

  23. liz says:

    Just like to say that without fifteensquared, where I lurked for some time, I would have given up on a puzzle like this…it’s worth keeping at it!

  24. Sil van den Hoek says:

    This site is about commenting on clues and the underlying thoughts.
    I am therefore very disappointed that no-one made any comments re my post (#17)
    as far as the crossword itself is concerned (this unfortunately happens all too often – maybe because of the time of day I normally submit my post).
    One doesn’t have to agree, far from that, but a substantial comment would be very welcome.

  25. Sylvia says:

    Wow, this WAS tough! I managed to complete all but ten answers without finding the theme, so it was solveable, I think. I confused myself by thinking ‘gas’ instead of ‘gab’ and would probably have got the theme otherwise. Glad to say that I got all the contentious words mentioned above and only missed the ones in general use. But it’s a long time since I was so stumped! Well done, Pasquale!

  26. Alex says:

    If it is any consolation Sil @ #17 we spotted the meaning of GS, but still couldn’t finish a large number of the clues. We found it tough, but having read the blog I don’t think there were many clues that were implausibly obscure. We had solved most of those you queried – it was the others that were the problem!

  27. john goldthorpe says:

    I finished this, though it was a struggle. I agree with Sil (17)that it is not really fair to code Gladstone as GS. This implies two names rather than one. I would have thought that Pasquale could have found a better way to indicate the theme – and then it would have been an excellent anniversary puzzle.

  28. Pasquale says:

    I don’t usually go in for protracted argument, but given that I was going to split Gladstone into G and S, any additional preamble to cover the fact that GS was one word would have been heavy-handed. In a paper taht allows stuff like Gateshead for G, I think you’ve got a nerve to complain!.. .Over and out

  29. walruss says:

    Well Derek, I agree with you about the anagrams of difficult words! You, well I mean one, just can’t solve them, so it’s bad news.

  30. Benington says:

    re 24:

    20a: The constellation of Aries is called the Ram so the use of singular is fine;

    22a: OVERARM is a type of delivery (as is underarm) so ABOVE is the definition of OVER.

    For the rest, they seem to bee complaints about words you have never heard of – a great difficulty in solving a crossword as I should know but not the fault of the setter! Different people have different knowledge of words, that’s all.

    p.s. 16d : There is a clue in “Nothing to amuse us” to Gladstone as the “We are not amused” remark by Queen Victoria was allegedly made to Gladstone.

  31. Sil van den Hoek says:

    Re everything above after #17:

    I ended #17 with ‘I still have a lot to learn’.
    So far I thought I could do well at Guardian crosswords, but this one was, at least for me, two or three steps too far.
    It made me aware of the fact that there is much more to the English language than I have experienced thusfar.

    I don’t blame the setter for that at all (nothing really unfair about the crossword).
    Although I still think that he sometimes made rather unusual choices that made the crossword hard to solve for the average.
    For instance, ‘stars’ for ‘ram’, ‘land’ for ‘light’, or in 10ac, ‘for’ into ‘dance’ for ‘pp’ into ‘hay’, all of which is not the first thing one thinks of. Of course, when G would have been clear to us, the situation would have been very different.
    But that’s part of the game, isn’t it?

    BTW, I do understand the setter’s two-letter GS dilemma and his choice – the breakdown is rather nice, as I already said in #17.

    This crossword was just too British for me.
    Can happen.
    Over and out (as said in #28). :)

  32. Eileen says:

    Hi Sil, at 17 and 24 – better late than never!

    8dn: ‘completely’ is justified, I think, because we have to leave only the first and last letters. ‘Heartless’ in clues often means take out only the middle letter.

    24ac: ‘light’ [third meaning in Chambers]. I’ve seen this several times before in crosswords but it’s more usually ‘alight’, ‘in common parlance’ :-) [which is how that word is usually used, I think, but not too often, I grant you].

    15dn: I have in my garden a beautiful chunk of serpentine which, thirty-odd years ago, we [possibly illegally] hauled all the way up the steps from Kynance Cove in Cornwall. I’d call it a stone!

    22dn: ‘ditty’ isn’t used that often but it’s a rather charming word for a simple poem, sometimes used self-effacingly, of one’s own work.

    23dn: again, I think MIT is fairly usual in crosswords.

    I’m really sorry you found this ‘too serious’ and were like Queen Victoria in Benington’s comment on 16dn – I thought it was great fun!

  33. Eileen says:

    Sorry, Sil – I didn’t see your latest post!

  34. Uncle Yap says:

    Many years ago when my children were still young, they used to sing
    “There’s a little ditty they’re singin’ in the city
    Especially when they’ve been on the gin or the beer
    If you’ve got the patience your own imaginations will tell you just exactly what you want to hear
    Oom pah pah, oom pah pah, that’s how it goes
    Oom pah pah, oom pah pah, everyone knows
    And they all suppose what they want to suppose when they hear oom pah pah”

    I think this is from Oliver and I learned a new word – “ditty”

  35. Paul B says:

    Conspicuous through absence for sure, normally I do moan about anagrams (often the least work-intensive clue-type to generate) for recondite entries, and had I not been so wonderfully and unexpectedly busy doing other things, up would I have piped far sooner.

    M’colleague Anax disagrees I know, and ‘speck to him for it, but I am against anagrams for hard words in daily puzzles because, even though solvers may be in possession of all the required letters, and even all the crossing letters, unless the word is actually within their vocab they will have absolutely no idea where these go in sequence, and will have to guess (unacceptable) or leave the light unfilled. This to me seems most unprofessional, and I am deeply, deeply shocked.

    If Deano could email me – after malfunction in ‘puter I have lost your details, mate.

    As for ITE shall I go there? How many Romans?

  36. Big Dave says:

    I was a bit behind doing this one, but was surprised that no-one had commented on the fighting force in 22a [Like type of delivery from above reaching a fighting force (7)].

    I took this as ARM, as in a branch of the fighting forces (Chambers), rather than A + RM. I wonder which was intended.

  37. walruss says:

    The latter I would guess. RM stands for Royal Marines, so ‘a fighting force’ equals A RM.

  38. Derek Lazenby says:

    Paul B, best not go there, we’d get off topic discussing contexts. There are specific contexts where one can start from a singular noun and end up with a plural, or apparent plural, but none of those apply to the word stone, Romans yes, stone no.

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