Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 24,915 (Sat 28 Sat)/Shed – Busoni non grata

Posted by rightback on January 30th, 2010


Solving time: Best part of a week before using references for 4ac and 1dn.

Sometimes it all goes wrong; this was such an occasion, and I got totally stuck on two clues, despite leaving them for a few days and trying again. Annoyingly I had actually come up with the right answer (BUSONI) at 1dn but rejected it because I expected to have heard of the composer; WAMPUM (4ac) I didn’t know and was difficult.

Despite failing to finish I thought this was a very good puzzle with my favourite clues including 10ac (VERTEBRA), 11ac (PROLIFERATE) and 7dn (ASBO).

Music of the day: It can only be something by 1dn; I didn’t know any of his music but here’s the first part of what seems to be his most highly regarded piano concerto.

* = anagram, “X” = sounds like ‘X’.

4 WAMPUM; rev. of MAW + PUM[a] – the letters W-M— looked so kind that I really felt I should be able to work this out but I just couldn’t, not knowing ‘maw’ = ‘stomach’ or the answer, an Algonquian word meaning beads used as money and failing to see that ‘cat needs a’ = ‘remove the letter A from a word for a cat’ (although ‘needs’ should really be ‘needing’ to make the clue grammatically sound).
6 COMPLAIN; (LAMP)* in COIN (= ‘piece’)
9 NEST OR – a clutch being a bird’s eggs. Nestor was king of Pylos, an Argonaut, Trojan War hero and general legend, as well as finding time to set crosswords for the Independent.
10 VERTEBRA; VERT + E + BRA – I thought this wordplay (‘Green energy supporter’) was brilliant.
11 PROLIFERATE; PRO-LIFER + ATE – another very good clue.
15 PROVERB; ROVER in P[u]B – ‘Saw’ as in a saying.
17 TIMBREL; TIM + BREL – with T-M—- in place, and seeing that ‘old’ might indicate ‘O’, I wrote in ‘timpano’ here, fortunately being rescued by 13dn. The chansonnier (French for a kind of singer) is, I think, Jacques Brel, whom I didn’t know, although actually I suspect I have come across him before.
18 PANDEMONIUM; (UPON ME I DAMN)* – this word was coined by Milton as the capital of Hell in Paradise Lost. The definition is slightly loose and seems to merge into the wordplay, but it’s a good anagram and the intention is clear enough.
22 RADIATOR; rev. of (ROT + AIDA + R) – kind of Shed to name-check me.
23 MILTON; TO in MILN[e] – I suppose you have to read ‘cut’ here as past tense in the wordplay. The author is A A Milne who wrote the Winnie-the-Pooh stories.
24 SENTIENT; SEN (= ‘money’) + TIE (= ‘with which to bind’) + N.T. (= ‘books’) – in Japan, 1 yen = 100 sen.
25 PONCHO (hidden)
1 BUSONI; (I ON BUS) with the subject and object reversed – the Italian composer Ferruccio Beroni. Perhaps I should have had the courage to write this in because there’s really not much else it could be.
4 WINDPIPE; WIND (= ‘instrumental family’) + PIPE (= ‘one of its members’) – curiously it took me a long time to justify this properly because I thought ‘Passage’ was indicating ‘pipe’.
7 ASBO; [h]AS B.O. – excellent.
8 NEAR (2 defs) – this pair of definitions were a bit too similar for my liking.
12 EMBONPOINT; (EMOTION + B.N.P.)* – I’d never heard of this word, but it’s French from ‘en bon point’ meaning ‘in good form’.
13 ART(IST)IC – ‘lorry’ had to be ‘artic’ here which helped me to correct my mistake at 17ac.
14 FLAMENCO; rev. of CALF around MEN, + O (= ’round’)
19 ORI[s]ON
20 ORBS (hidden backwards) – possibly written about the time of Gordon Strachan’s appointment?
21 A + DEN

20 Responses to “Guardian 24,915 (Sat 28 Sat)/Shed – Busoni non grata”

  1. Biggles A says:

    Thanks Rightback. I managed all save 7 in a reasonable time and then spent at least as long fretting unsuccessfully over a-b-. Your guidance pointed me to anti-social behaviour order which I think must be peculiar to UK and Ireland so I don’t feel too inadequate.

  2. molonglo says:

    Good work Rightback. Just like Biggles I spent more time on the final two letters than on everything else, and finally gave up on 7d. Googling shows that ASBOs have come down under from the UK, but are as rare as hen’s teeth. Lorry doesn’t at once suggest ‘artic’ here either, but the clue was guessable. Like you I also chuckled over 11a. 12d I recall from schooldays, with an om-bom-pom pronunciation. Wampum from then, too.

  3. jmac says:

    A happy Saturday with Shed in the Guardian and Dac in the Indie. I loved this crossword – everything seemed so well clued; Thus although not being familiar with Busoni or wampum I found them solvable without too much effort. I sympathise with Rightback over timbrel and embonpoint – you probably have to be over a certain age to remember the singer Jacques Brel and Peregrine Worsthorne’s even then archane reference to “embonpoint” in a court case many years ago which somehow seems to have stuck in the mind.

    My only slight niggle with this puzzle was that it was a bit too easy for a Saturday, and would in fact have made a perfect weekday offering as it’s solving time fitted my daily commute and required neither a dictionary nor wikipedia (or similar).

  4. jmac says:

    Meant arcane not “archane”.

  5. Shirley says:

    jmac – my thoughts entirely – see the comments 20 and 22 in yesterday’s blog.
    However this was very enjoyable.
    Rightback – probably the reason you haven’t heard of Busoni is that he was a very minor composer in his own right – his music is almost unplayable. However he was a very fine teacher and he is mainly remembered today for his rather florid piano transcriptions of Bach’s music which were originally written for the harpsichord or other instruments

  6. Eileen says:

    Thanks, rightback. I really enjoyed this but I agree that it was somewhat easy for a prize puzzle and, it has to be said, for Shed.

    Having said that, as I always say about Rufus, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with being easy, if you get wit and elegance in the clues – and there was plenty of both here. My favourites were PROLIFERATES, MASTODON, EMPHASIS and ASBOS [which reminded me of the late, very much lamented Linda Smith’s “don’t knock Asbos: for some of these kids it’s the only qualification they’ll get”) but I remember thinking at the time of solving that it would be particularly tough for non-UK residents.

    I learned EMBONPOINT from a Guardian crossword last March, when Andrew blogged, “I never knew this meant “plumpness” – it’s usually seen preceded by “heaving”, and I presumed it meant a large bosom..” Me too!

  7. sandra says:

    thanks rightback
    i enjoyed this one and there were some very enjoyable clues. like others here, though, i thought it was too easy for a saturday prize xwd. having said that, asbo was the last to go in, but from crossing letters and the definition. thanks again rightback for explaining the wordplay – brilliant.
    i was thrown by “embonpoint”, a word in its own right, and although i got it i was unhappy about “fat” being the definition. sheer ignorance! shame. larousse gives “stoutness, portliness”.

  8. Sil van den Hoek says:

    For the third week in a row a rather easy Saturday crossword, we thought.
    But one that I was longing for: a Shed, and no theme.
    On top of that, we got a crossword with no linked clues, not even bars in it!

    And though not difficult, a good one it was.
    Immaculate cluing (though a Don is not quite a Prof, although he probably wants to be one (5d)). [Nice for Bryan to see Shed including his favourite setter in 15ac :)]

    Some fine surfaces (and ditto cluing): 10ac, 11ac, 22ac, 12d, 14d.
    And a clever construction in 23ac (MILTON).
    Maybe one or two unfamiliar words (WAMPUM or EMBONPOINT) but they were perfectly guessible.

    Only two things eluded us: firstly the “ ‘ums” in 7d,
    and secondly the “23’s coinage!” (which was in a way superfluous in the clue as a whole, but probably had to be there because otherwise “I damn” would have been a bit isolated).
    Thanks to your splendid blog, Rightback, we see it all now – 7d is indeed very clever.

    The first answer we got was PONCHO, not very well hidden in 25ac.
    Indeed rather obvious, but sometimes, I think, it has also to do with the print-out in the newspaper. In the recent Brendan (No 24,916), for example, one of the hidden answers (Alicant) was cut off at the end of the line and went on in the next line. That makes it really harder to spot. Therefore I ask myself: do setters think of that?

  9. liz says:

    Thanks, Rightback. I enjoyed this, too, but like the others, found it rather easy for a Prize puzzle and certainly much easier than yesterday’s Enigmatist! My daughter, who is fairly new to cryptics was surprised how many she got. No complaints, however…

    Lots of good clues and surfaces. I especially liked 7dn, which made me laugh.

    I had never heard of Busoni, but the wordplay was straightforward and that made up for the obscurity of the composer. (I wasn’t as principled as you — I headed straight for Wiki to check it!)

    ‘Wampum’ was familiar to me, as I spent my childhood in N America. It may well have originated with the Algonquins, but its use was more widespread than that. What made me hesitate here, though, was the ‘stomach’ sense of ‘maw’, which I thought just meant ‘mouth’.

    Eileen — I also thought ‘embonpoint’ meant bosom!

  10. Jake says:

    Thanks for info Rightback.

    I actually managed this at a steady rate with only one trip-up 21dn. I liked the level of stiffness
    this puzzle provided.

    Just off topic to this particular puzzle, does anyone know if, and how many Shed puzzles are in
    ‘Guardian book of cryptic crosswords’ vols 1-3 ? and if they are fun.


  11. Eileen says:

    Hi Sil

    Re your last point: very soon after I discovered this site, someone commented how compilers do indeed work out where the breaks in the columns are going to come and, if possible, construct their clues accordingly. Ever since then, I’ve taken special note of hidden answers and it’s remarkable how often they straddle two lines of the clue.

    [But ha! - I've just this minute discovered, while doing a bit of research, that this doesn't necessarily apply to the online version!]

  12. Paul B says:

    I am ashamed then, to say that I do not ‘try to work out where the breaks in the columns are going to come’. That would be too much like hard work.

  13. stiofain says:

    I agree this was a bit too easy for a prize xword ( counting today that makes 4 in a row ) but a great puzzle nonetheless.
    Asbo is my favourite clue in ages.

  14. Ian says:

    Thanks for the blog Rightback.

    No question that the Shed clued Prize Crossword was easier than I had expected.

    Nonetheless, three fiendishly clever clues to arrive at ASBO, SENTIENT and VERTEBRA.

  15. CGK says:

    Thanks Rightback: an excellent crossword, and though I beat your solving time it doesn’t really count, as I had to wait for your blog to discover why two of my guesses were correct.

    In 8d, I’ll bet Shed wasn’t thinking of tight and close as similar, but of tight and near as both meaning miserly.

    Though 20d was worth it for the wonderful surface reading, I still find this use of up hard to justify. There is no sense of upness here. The light may be vertical but the clue isn’t.

  16. rightback says:

    Thanks to all commenters. Sil is of course correct that ‘don’ and ‘prof’ are not the same. I’m astonished to learn from Eileen that compilers consider where line breaks will occur in clues, and relieved by Shirley’s mini-bio of Busoni.

    CGK, I agree with your interpretation of 8dn but I felt that ‘near’ meaning ‘tight’ was really in the same sense as ‘near’ meaning ‘close’. In more strictly edited puzzles, ‘double definition’ clues require the two meanings to be listed under different headings (i.e. senses) of the answer word. That said I was pretty sure of the answer to this, even with no checking letters, so it’s probably fair enough.

    Your comment about 20dn is interesting and I can’t disagree, even though I’m fairly sure this is considered acceptable by purists.

  17. Tony Pay says:

    Shirley wrote:

    Probably the reason you haven’t heard of Busoni is that he was a very minor composer in his own right – his music is almost unplayable.

    Not at all. He wrote three very interesting operas — ‘Arlecchino’ stands out — and as a professional musician I can say that there is no essential difficulty in playing his music. Of course, his piano music is virtuosic.

    The reason you haven’t heard of him is that he happens to be out of fashion, not that he was ‘very minor’.


  18. Shed says:

    Thanks for the comments. I certainly don’t try to work out where the line breaks in the clues will occur, and anyway as Eileen says it will very between formats. I was surprised this got picked for the Saturday slot too. Perhaps it was on account of Brel and Busoni, both of which, with hindsight, I rather regret – but people seem to be more willing to have recourse to reference books/Google on a Saturday.

  19. Mike says:

    I got the right answer to 23 by the wrong reasoning – (Ha)milton was a childrens writer (Billy Bunter I believe). To in miln(e) is a much better way to parse it.

  20. rrc says:

    A very enjoyable crossword which left most of Saturday free!

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