Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 24,919 – Gordius

Posted by Andrew on January 28th, 2010


As regular readers will know, I (and others) am not a big fan of Gordius, and while there’s nothing particularly inspiring in this puzzle, I didn’t find much to object to either, apart from a few minor niggles noted below.



9. WIRING IR (code for Iran) in WING
11. DELI Sounds like “Delhi” (no problems with this homophone, I think)
12. RETIREMENT Double definition
13. GOLDEN ARROW LODGE* + NARROW. The Golden Arrow was a luxury train from London (Victoria) to Dover in the 1930s. Passengers then crossed the channel ferry and took the Flèche d’Or to Paris.
18. CHARIOTEER A RIOT in CHEER. Remember the famous chariot race in the film Ben-Hur (which should be hyphenated, by the way)?
21. YOUR Just about a cryptic definition
22. GINSBERG GINS (spirits) + (Alban) BERG (composer). The poet is Allen Ginsberg
24. EYEFUL Sounds like “Eiffel”, though as far as I know the Parisan tower is never known just as “The Eiffel”
25. ISLAND IS + LAND – Foulness Island in Essex was once proposed as the site of a new London airport.
1. POLITICO POLIT[e} + IC[y] + O
2. LINGER LINGERIE less IE (= that is = that’s)
3. CONJUROR CON (deceive) + JUROR (one in box)
4. HANSOM Sounds (nearly) like “handsome”.
7. ONLINE NIL< in ONE. Of course, you can use a computer without being online..
8. CUTTING EDGE Cockney pronunciation of “cutting hedge”. Apologies to non-aitch-dropping Londoners.
16. CHAISE I in CHASE – this feels like a very familiar clue
17. PUTRID PUT (place) + RID (free)
19. RASHER RASH (spots) + ER (hesitation) As IanN14 points out, there are also two definitions: “less careful” and “cut” (as in cut of meat/rasher of bacon)

27 Responses to “Guardian 24,919 – Gordius”

  1. Eileen says:

    Many thanks, Andrew – you’ve said it all, I think.

    Back to the tennis!

  2. molonglo says:

    Thanks Andrew. I agree with all that. The Eiffel-eyeful ‘homophone’ is awful but a quick check shows it’s quite popular with setters (eg Araucaria 24061 in 2007). I liked 8d a lot. The light=land in 25a generated discussion just one month ago.

  3. Simon G says:

    Thanks, Andrew. As you said, nothing inspiring… plus a couple of slightly dodgy clues…

  4. Kathryn's Dad says:

    Thanks for the blog, Andrew. This was an okay kind of solve without being, as you say, too inspiring. I confused the issue by putting LONDON PRIDE at 13ac – apparently it’s a 10K road race starting at Victoria Park. Nothing in the clue to suggest that answer, I know …

  5. IanN14 says:

    Thank you Andrew,
    Agreed with all, but 22ac. – best stay off the ginbs.
    Did you notice that 19d. uses two definitions (as well as the wordplay)?
    Not a great surface, but, hey, credit where it’s due…

  6. Andrew says:

    Thanks Ian, I hadn’t noticed the 2 defs in 19dn. I’ve updated the blog, and also tamed the wayward GINS.

  7. Lopakhin says:

    24a – and the French pronounce Eiffel as Effelle, which makes it even more uncomfortable as a homophone…

  8. liz says:

    Thanks, Andrew. Nothing much to add, except that I didn’t like 12ac or 21ac, but really liked 8dn.

    I struggled a lot less with this Gordius than I usually do.

  9. walruss says:

    Very well blogged, I feel. This crossword has no distinguishing features, bar perhaps the errors referred to. I didn’t really enjoy it.

  10. sandra says:

    thank you andrew
    not much to say about this one – i am not a fan of gordius. nothing much to complain about but no smiles either. there may have been if i had seen the wordplay for 8d when i got it – only from the crossing letters – and i see it now. but everything else is pretty prosaic.

  11. Ian says:

    Thanks for the blog Andrew.

    8dn the saving grace.

  12. Val says:

    Thanks, Andrew.

    Like Liz @8 I didn’t like 12ac and 21ac. At first I thought my answers were wriong because they’re almost straight answers, especially 21ac.

    Kathryn’s Dad @4 – wrong on two counts about the London Pride race! It is contained entirely within Victoria Park, and so not strictly emanating from, and also still is rather than once was. A great race!

  13. Kathryn's Dad says:

    Thanks, Val – sounds like you’ve done the business there!

  14. Grumpy Andrew says:

    Very helpful blog as ever.
    Main moan is 12ac, isn’t that horribly obscure? How many people are familiar with London-Dover trains from the 1930s?
    Actually, my dad is, but he doesn’t do cryptic crosswords.
    Also, edge for hedge might be fair if it had the normal Cockney indicator rather than London.
    I don’t think they drop their aitches in, say, Kensington.

  15. cholecyst says:

    13ac. I am mortified to admit I looked this up. What an anorak! The last GA ran on on 30 September 1972. Thought I remembered it.
    All you wanted to know is here (and more).

  16. Mr Beaver says:

    I didn’t think this merited the amount of disdain heaped on it – not the most exciting, perhaps, but by no means the worst recently, IMO.
    Thanks to Molongolo for explaining 25a – we’d thought of ISLAND but couldn’t justify putting it in, and the original blog shed no further land, as it were…

    We’d never heard of Golden Arrow, but it wasn’t difficult to guess from the wordplay, and it sounded convincing enough for an old train to put it in without checking 7d.
    Liked 8d, though ‘London’ for dropping an H grated a bit, London isn’t the same as Cockney, and plenty of accents do the same – why not Yorkshire topiary, say?

  17. Davy says:

    Thanks Andrew,

    I don’t think that Gordius quite deserves this level of criticism and I thought the puzzle was largely quite entertaining. The only answers I was unhappy with were WIRING and PRIMER.

    To any of you dissenters, if you think you can do better than Gordius then try compiling a crossword and realise that it’s not that easy. Give Gordius a break and stop whingeing.

  18. Sil van den Hoek says:

    Dave (& Mr Beaver), I think the criticism was not even that strong today, it could have been much worse – as it was in the recent past.
    Solvers on this site don’t like Gordius, and never will, I guess.
    I do understand the ones who express their reservations about the blandness of this crossword. There is no sparkle – it is not a Paul or a Brendan – , but most of the clues are completely fair.
    Yes, I don’t like some of them at all (24ac, awful homophone ; 21ac, 12ac), but there are nice ones as well: 2d, 8d (though not perfect, there is a smile), 20ac, the clever 25ac and the fine construction of 13ac (natural linking of ‘broken’ and ‘contract’).
    Apart from some definitions (for WIRING, ONLINE, UNJUSTLY (=’with criminal intent’?), it was just OK.
    As I said on earlier occasions, sometimes it looks that we want each clue to be a little masterpiece.
    But not everyone’s a Master.
    Paul is, Brendan is, Araucaria is, FT’s Alberich is and (I think) Crucible is, to name a few.
    Others are just as much trying to please us, and there’s nothing wrong with that.
    But I fear, it’s not enough for the average visitor of this site.

    Dont get me wrong, I found this crossword also not very inspiring (though OK), but then, so what?

  19. GMJH says:

    Well I suppose it must be obvious as no one else has asked but, after checking with several dictionaries, I find no link between the word ‘retirement’ and ‘backing’. Can you tell me what it is? Thanks.

  20. Ponticello says:

    25a Surely “Foulness is, say, a light” would be more acceptable?

  21. Dave Ellison says:

    GMJH @ 19: I read it as: if you retire from a situation you back off from it. Not strongly convincing.

  22. Brian Harris says:

    @Davy I agree. Having compiled a couple of cryptic crosswords for colleagues at work, I was amazed how long it took to construct the clues. Several weeks in my case. I have nothing but admiration for these compilers who can churn out one or two a week (or in Rufus’s case, several an hour…) It’s extremely difficult to come up with an elegant but misleading surface reading that also functions perfectly as an indicator to the real answer. The best clues like this always make me smile, but they aren’t all that common, in all honesty. As Sil says, we shouldn’t expect every clue to be a masterpiece (and let’s not get into what defines “masterpiece” – that could be very subjective…). Personally, I think Paul and Brendan stand out, but I wouldn’t put Araucaria in the same league these days.

    Gordius today was fairly simple, but entirely fair, and a very good example of a straightforward puzzle, with a couple of nice clues. I really enjoyed 25ac and 2 down for example.

  23. tim says:

    With this Gordius I completed more of a cryptic crossword than I ever have before, so I was quite pleased.

    Though I still don’t understand Light = Land on 25ac, could someone help me out there?

  24. nmsindy says:

    Did not do this puzzle, but to light = land is verb ie to touch ground or similar eg come down.

  25. Barnaby Page says:

    Tim – one of the less common meanings of “light” is to disembark from a vehicle (related, presumably, to “alight”). And ships and planes, of course, need to “land” before one can disembark. Unless I’m missing some further subtlety it is, indeed, not 100% synonymous.

  26. Neil says:

    Nothing to add … or subtract …

  27. Gordon says:

    I don’t think any of you noticed the real definition to 17d which I thought was brilliant.

    Rid comes from to “free a place of’ Given precedence leads to ‘Put first’. So Put goes before rid. Gordius is much better when you take time to read his clues properly and not just guess what they mean.

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