Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 24926 / Rover

Posted by mhl on February 5th, 2010


A quick solve for us apart from 12 across, which I don’t understand.

7. DANSEUSE Cryptic definition; “Nice girl” is meant to be read as “A girl from Nice”, along with “corps de ballet” indicating the French term
9. IRONIC RON = “fellow” in (ICI)*
10. SKID (DISK)*
11. LIP SERVICE Cryptic definition
12. CORSET Not sure: “It keeps me in my place (6)” Thanks to Alberich, who explains this in the comments below as COR = “my” + SET = “place”
15. LATEST LA = “Hollywood” + TEST = “match”
17. SNAILS Double definition: “snails” is short for “Christ’s nails”, like “zounds” or “sblood”
20. INCREASE (A SINCERE)*; some double-duty going on here – I don’t think it can be an &lit
22. GENTLE GENT = “man” + LE[g]
23. BREADBOARD Cryptic definition, alluding to “bread” being slang for “money”
24. DASH Double definition; I’m not sure about “disappoint” – to dash [hopes] isn’t quite the same
25. COPIER CO = “Firm” + PIER = “support”
26. DIOCESAN Nice clue: (ONCE SAID)*
1. BANKROLL Double definition: you might “bank” or “roll” in a plane
2. USED UnStEaDy
3. MULLET A nice double definition
4. LINESMAN Double definition; a “Fault-finder” as in a football or tennis official (in the latter case looking out for foot-faults, perhaps) – I think a “linesman” must be a humorous way of referring to a poet or one who writes lines
5. CONVENTION A nice cryptic definition
6. CIRCLE Cryptic definition, referring to The Magic Circle
8. EMPIRE MP in EIRE = “a republic”
16. SCABBARD Cryptic definition; slightly unsatisfactory, I think
18. SALESMAN Referring to Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman
19. REGARD (RAGE)* + ROAD = “RD”
21. NARROW [gorgo]N + ARROW = “weapon”
22. GODSON (NODS)* after GO = “effort”; I don’t like “He” as the definition here
24. DYES D = “Diamonds” + YES = “positive”

35 Responses to “Guardian 24926 / Rover”

  1. Conrad Cork says:

    16 down is more like ‘wholly unjustified’ than ‘slightly unsatisfactory’ IMHO.

    If 12 across is an attempt at a DD it is a total failure.

    In the circs, mhl, you have done a very restrained blog. I would not have been as kind.

  2. molonglo says:

    Thanks mhl. Rover must warrant his ‘hard’ ranking among the setters on this blog’s home page due to the occasional fiendish clue – like 12 a, which stymied me, too. Dogsit (roverish?), Dorset (place), I wondered. All other answers went straight in, but a couple demanded follow-up afterwards – you learn things. 22a, on the net, gave me LEG Oates, the captain-gentleman who walked out into the snow for ever, saying “I am just going outside and may be some time”. And 17a, a different curse from yours, that in Psalm 58 where the wicked are inveighed against and: “As a snail which melteth, let every one of them pass away.”

  3. Alberich says:

    I interpreted 12 across as: “it keeps me in” being the definition of corset in the sense I’d say I have to hold myself in to avoid knocking things over with my beer gut; and the wordplay being MY! = COR! added to SET. I may be totally wrong, of course!

  4. Jim says:

    How is Barnet connected with Mullet?

  5. beermagnet says:

    A MULLET is a hairstyle: (shudder), and Barnet, or Barnet Fair, is rhyming slang for hair.

  6. mhl says:

    Alberich: thanks! That must be it. I’ll update the post.

    Jim: “barnet” is slang for hair (apparently “Cockney rhyming slang from Barnet Fair, a famous horse fair once held at Barnet, Hertfordshire” says Chambers) and a mullet is a style of haircut.

  7. pat says:

    I must be missing something with 5d- my thinking was convention for assembly and then a pay on conventional for the slang use of square, but if so, the syntax is wrong.

  8. Ian says:

    Thanks mhl.

    Quite enjoyed this one from from Rover but for a time became stuck with 6dn. I couldn’t figure out why the answer should not be ‘circle’ having previously inserted ‘remanent’ for the interconnecting across clue.

    Admittedly ‘Corset’ and ‘Scabbard’ look somewhat dodgy.

    That said, I particularly enjoyed 11ac and 24ac.

  9. Kathryn's Dad says:

    I thought this was pretty good apart from the couple of niggles mentioned already. 11ac was amusing and now 7ac is explained I like the thinking behind it.

    For LINESMAN, which was my last to go in, I was thinking of the definition as the engineer who traces faults in telephone or electric power lines. It works for me, anyway. The US variant is LINEMAN and there’s a song about Wichita which someone with a better memory than me will tell us about, I have no doubt.

  10. Tom_I says:

    An entertaining puzzle – I enjoyed it. Personally I thought 12a was excellent.

    Re 3d, there’s a good definition of MULLET in Chambers: “a hairstyle that is short at the front, long at the back, and ridiculous all round”.

  11. liz says:

    Thanks, mhl. I enjoyed this Rover more than I usually do, even though I failed to get 7ac and 4dn. 11ac made me smile.

    That said, I thought 16dn was pretty bad and I didn’t like ‘he’ as the def in 22dn. 20ac doesn’t really work either.

    I liked CONVENTION. If you think along the lines of ‘a murder of crows’ or ‘a parliament of owls’, a ‘convention of squares’ is quite funny…

  12. Uncle Yap says:

    Lest it be said that I unfairly favour Araucaria against compilers like Rover and Gordius, today’s puzzle was first-rate. I thoroughly enjoyed solving it while watching my grandson, Matthew “swimming” at my Club in Kuala Lumpur.

    5D was my favourite

  13. John says:

    A curious mixture of the good, the bad and the ugly.
    I don’t see “bound” being equivalent to DASH, being a jump rather than a quick movement. Kangaroos bound, but not very quickly.

  14. Eileen says:

    That was one of my reservations, John, along with ‘quiet’ = ‘gentle’? And I’m with mhl [thanks for the less-committal blog!] in wanting a more specific definition of GODSON.

    I’m surely missing something with LINESMAN = ‘humorous poet’?

    Having said that, I liked 14 and 26ac and 5 and 13dn and I think 12ac is clever, with Alberich’s explanation – but wouldn’t ‘might keep’ be better than ‘keeps’?

  15. walruss says:

    I think Rover get his hard rating because his clues are so badly written. If he tried a bit harder to use some technique (!) he would be far easier!

    I would classify this puzzle as rubbish, but it is a personal view.

  16. Tom Hutton says:

    Eileen, I am sure MHL is correct in suggesting that the humourousness is in the reference to a poet being a linesman rather than in any quality of the poet.

    I agree with Kathryn’s Dad that linesmen probably refers to power line checkers rather than the officials on a pitch who aren’t linesmen any more anyway.

    Subject to reservations about the definition of 22dn which is thin and 24ac which is not very sound, I thought this was very good.

  17. Eileen says:

    Tom Hutton

    I’ve been trying not to see the clue that way, or it would be the equivalent of a comedian [or anyone else] laughing at his own jokes. It would have been better, I think, for Rover to have omitted ‘humorous’ and left it up to us to decide whether or not he was being witty. ‘Fault-finding poet?’ perhaps?

  18. Bill Taylor says:

    I’m with Walruss. Rather than a hard rating, I’d class Rover as maladroit.

  19. sandra says:

    thanks mhl.
    a bit like the curate’s egg imho.
    i liked 11a, 5d, 13d and 24a, among others. my gripes have mostly been addressed by others, but although linesman was fairly easy to solve i can find no definition as such in my dictionaries (collins and chambers) nor online. surely, unless the answer is a name, of whatever sort, it should be in the dictionary? i may, of course, not have been looking in the right places. i wasn’t satisfied, either, with 7a. i hesitated before entering “danseuse” because, as far as i know, french is the language of ballet anyway, and if that is the case the girl could be from anywhere.
    still don’t fully “get” 20a, though it was easily solved.
    maybe i have had a sense of humour bypass, but i don’t feel the usual sense of satisfaction on completing this.
    no sour grapes – i did complete it!

  20. Derek Lazenby says:

    Oh dear, I wish I could stay awake in the mornings, I keep getting here when it’s all been said. I was convinced I wasn’t going to finish this at one point, but soldiered on with the word list generator and got there eventually. It was mainly the same wishy washy definitions mentioned above that caused that.

    Still don’t know what Nice girl or even a girl from Nice has to do with anything though. Someone care to enlighten the class dummy please?

    I thought the grid was a bit locked into seperate quarters, which didn’t help.

  21. Kathryn's Dad says:

    Hello Sandra @ 19.

    My Collins has for LINESMAN: ‘a person who installs, repairs or maintains telephone or electric-power cables’. So ‘fault-finder’ as a definition is perhaps a stretch; but I’ve seen worse.

    I think it was Glen Campbell that recorded the Wichita version.

  22. sandra says:

    thanks kathryn’s dad. i wasn’t clear – as usual. it was the “poet” definition which eluded me. sorry about that.

  23. Kathryn's Dad says:

    Sandra, misunderstood you. I wasn’t a fan of the ‘poet’ bit either but I suppose ‘humorous’ could suggest a play on words, and as you say, it couldn’t be much else from the crossing letters.

    Okay, I’m going to stop defending this puzzle now and let the evening shift wade in. But seriously, I didn’t think it was all that bad.

  24. Brian Harris says:

    Compared to the previous few days, I thought this was very poor in places. Just one example “He” = “godson”. Errr…. OK. Whatever. Maybe the Guardian forgot to print the part of the clue that actually indicated the answer.

    I’m just not a fan of these very loose clues. Some of the DDs were terrible.

    IMHO.(Of course.)

  25. sandra says:

    i had quite a few quibbles about this xwd but i seem to be in a minority of one – i quite liked godson!

  26. Dave Ellison says:

    The evening shift wades in!

    16d I didn’t like, but I am sure it would have been extolled by others on a Monday.

    I was thinking of MASSEUSE (but couldn’t see why) for 1a and only saw DANSEUSE just before I looked at fifteesquared. The clue does have a ? at the end, which in my view justifies the Nice part.

    I though there were many good clues today, some with clever misdirection, as in 22d; I was convinced it was an anagram of HE NODS for a long time. The anagrams in 20a and 11d I liked.

  27. xanthoma says:

    I think Rover should go back to crossword setter’s primary school. “Godson”, “linesman” and “danseuse” – unassailable without the combination of CHECK and CHEAT – and as for 12 across – “corset” – is there no end to this grot and the pretence that the Guardian crossword is slowly entering a different realm, the realm of esoteric word puzzles? Own up!

  28. muck says:

    Rover isn’t my favourite setter…
    12ac CORSET. Thanks to Alberich for the COR!+SET explanation.
    7ac DANSEUSE. Very weak clue.

  29. Sil van den Hoek says:

    Let’s start with the good news: this crossword was certainly one of Rover’s best so far. Unfortunately, this is not the same as being a really good crossword, and we do not agree with Uncle Yap (#12) that this was “first class”. For us it was more like “the good, the bad and the ugly” (John #13).

    I think, the problem with Rover is, the overdose of very poor cryptic definitions.
    [Let’s not talk about the First of January crossword, please]
    Readers of 15^2 might know that I am not particularly keen on them, but I do like many of Rufus (to name the Master) – though last Monday’s puzzle was not a good example for this.
    7ac (DANSEUSE), well, I understand it now (the ‘Nice’ bit), but.
    As others said, 16d (SCABBARD) is almost unacceptable
    (um, thát’s what ‘others’ said ….?).
    18d (SALESMAN) is a silly give-away.
    And 4d is just not good (enough).

    And then there’s the link between 5 & 6d.
    Funny nobody said anything about that.
    5d, well OK – 6d, silly clue.
    And there’s no connection between them apart from two mathematical shapes – and please, dear boys and girls, read 5&6d as one sentence – brrr.

    My PinC was somewhat annoyed today by some definitions (BTW, I wasn’t). She didn’t like ‘choirboy’ in 11ac (“it could be a choirgirl as well, etc.”). Nor did she like “follower of fashion” for COPIER, “he” for GODSON or “Quiet” for GENTLE.

    It looks that I am very negative (again) about this Rover, but I must say that it wasn’t that bad after all. [but what a difference compared to yesterday’s Orlando]
    Most clues were just fair, and some rather good:
    14ac (REMINDER),2 0ac (INCREASE) although we thought there’s something missing (and mhl, we agree, not an &Lit), 24d (DYES) and 26ac (DIOCESAN).
    Maybe 1d is a good clue as well, but we didn’t know about planes banking and rolling.

    So far, for the bad & the good.
    The ugly became apparent in 19d (REGARD): “See seething …” , is there really not another anagrind that does the trick?
    And we thought, “the” was completely superfluous in 1d – the clue’s even better off without.

    “Dear Crossword, how are you today?”
    “Not too bad”

  30. Dave Ellison says:

    Sil, the 5/6 connection, I read as you did, plus a thought of squaring the circle, or perhaps circling the square, by some magic? Or am I pushing my luck?

  31. stiofain says:

    I thought this was probably the best Rover ive seen but that isnt saying much.
    It is no good being difficult if the difficulty is caused by bad cluing.
    SCABBARD was terrible as was GODSON and quite a few others as for SNAILS….hmmmfff. There were some good clues I liked REMINDER and BREADBOARD wasnt bad but the crappy clues take the shine off the good ones.
    Also I dislike this grid as Derek said it practically splits the xword into 4 mini xwords.
    Kathryns Dad it was indeed Glen Campbell that first did Wichita Linesman though he didnt write it (Jimmy Webb did) there are many versions of it my personal favourite is by Jose Feliciano I cant find it on youtube but here is him doing malagueno an extremely difficult spanish song that he plays one-handed at one point jose
    Reggae star Dennis Brown also does a great version
    Im hoping for a Paul or an Auraubetical tomorrow.

  32. liz says:

    stiofain — an Araubetical would be lovely! So would a Paul.

  33. stiofain says:

    hooray its a Paul (and a smutty one great)

  34. Michael in Andalucia says:

    To Kathryn´s dad @ 9 and 21. It was indeed Glen Campbell who had a hit with “Witchita Lineman” (“I am a lineman for the county/and I work the main load”).

  35. Neil says:

    Whilst I completed it, I have resolved not even to glance at any other Rover crosswords. Too exasperating! Of 28 clues I thought 17 were sloppy or just plain wrong. Others worked, but were weak. Only 3 did I think were of an acceptable standard: 1d, 13d and 12a (but only after Alberich @3 elucidated did I realise how good that one was. Thanks).

    It’s “The Wichita Lineman” incidentally, not Linesman. These Americans, eh?

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