Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 24,932 – Gordius

Posted by manehi on February 12th, 2010


Nothing very troublesome from Gordius today.

1 TRAFFIC (Craft if)*. Nice &lit
9 IVY LEAGUE (i.e. vaguely)*, i.e.=”that is”
10 PILOT I=”one” in PLOT
11 LAMP L[arge] + AMP, the SI unit for electric current.
12 BRAKE LIGHT warns those behind you. BLIGHT=”frustration”? around RAKE=”lecher”
14 OLD HAT [t]OLD [t]HAT
15 FUCHSIA sounds like “future”.
16 LICENSE (silence)*
18 HI-TECH HITCH around E[ast]
20 FANCY GOODS FANCY=”imagine” + O=”nothing” in GODS
21 FAIR double def
24 IMAGO I’M=”Gordius is” + AGO
25 DIVERSITY 1 is to “university” as 2 is to DIVERSITY
26 MARINER Silas MARNER is a character from George Eliot, around I=”one”.
27 LITERAL =”misprint”. (a tiller)*
1 TRIAL double def
2 ABYSMAL BABY + SMALL loses rev(LB)=”a pound”
3 FREE sounds like “three” in a London accent.
4 CIGARETTE HOLDER cryptic def.
5 SPEAK OF THE DEVIL cryptic def.
6 SUPPLICATE CAT in LIE after (pups)*
7 ALLEGES rev(ELL) – a unit of length [wiki] – in AGES
8 NOTITIA =”church register”. NO TITIA[n]
13 SHANTY TOWN (natty)* in SHOWN=”displayed”
16 LEFTISM (film set)*
17 CENTAUR cryptic def.
19 CLAVIER C[oncerts] + (Ravel I)*
22 ROYAL double def.
23 TROT i.e. Trotskyite. rev(TORT)=”wrong”

43 Responses to “Guardian 24,932 – Gordius”

  1. Max says:

    Relatively easy today (30mins).

    Typo in 15a: it’s FUCHSIA.

  2. Ian says:

    Thanks for the blog manehi.

    Very little to stop a 15′ solve.

    Clueing unlikely to draw criticism today.

    Recommend the FT (Viking) for something a tad harder.

  3. Stella says:

    No complicatins, but a few smiles today: 25ac, 17d.

    The new format seems to be working better today

  4. Andrew says:

    Ian – “Clueing unlikely to draw criticism today.” Oh, I’ll have a go 😉

    11ac – An amp is not a “quantity of electricty”, it’s a rate of flow of current. I suppose you could interpret it loosely as “a quantity used in talking about electricity”.

    15ac- “Fuschia” is not a homophone of “future”

    1dn – very weak, not really a double def.

    17dn – also weak, and rather a cliché

    On the other hand, I did like 21ac, and 25ac raised a smile (though, pedantically, isn’t DI is a Greek prefix, not Latin like UNI?)

  5. John Appleton says:

    IMAGO got me here, but I’m probably not the only person to put IDAHO purely for not beign able to conjur up anything else.

  6. Gareth Rees says:

    On 15 across, the clue did say “confusing spoken of”, thus indicating that it wasn’t an exact homophone. The two words have pronunciations that are close enough — /fju:??/ vs /fju:t??/ — that I think the clue is fair.

  7. Andrew says:

    Re 17dn: I knew I’d seen it before – Gordius’s puzzle 24,856 on 13 November had the clue:

    Centaur (8)

  8. Gareth Rees says:

    That said /fju:tʃə/ vs /fju:ʃə/ before WordPress mangled it.

  9. Paul B says:

    I hear Gareth, so to speak, ahh, as it were I mean, but do wish G would leave those homophones out if they’re no bang on. Although I’ve always found ‘some say’ a good route through such treacherous land.

    I’m with Andrew too, but (k)not in all an atrocity.

  10. MartinH says:

    Raspberries to TRIAL & CENTAUR – otherwise, as manehi says, nothing very troublesome today. Rather like the weather if fact, although the sun did shine through briefly for 5 down.

  11. Gareth Rees says:

    I think the possibilities in phonological clues has been far from fully explored. Taking examples only from Wikipedia’s phonological history of English low back vowels, we could have:

    American caught in bed (3)
    Some Singaporean verse (5)
    Brings forth Jamaican birds (4)

  12. Tom_I says:

    No real problems, either with the clues or solving them. As Ian said above, I’m finding Viking in the FT somewhat harder.

    I did wonder if there was a misprint in 24a, as the IMAGO is the adult or “perfect” stage (rather than state) in an insect’s life cycle, but it’s a trivial point.

  13. Tom Hutton says:

    I wonder what Eileen thought of fuschia-future.

    I was set back a bit by putting in ‘plain’ for 10ac, (1 in plan for an area of land).

  14. Max says:

    Manehi – I see you corrected the typo in the blog. I must confess that I made much the same error in solving which led to 6 & 7 d being the last two entered. As regards the (non-)homophone, I’m reminded of the infamous headline in the Cambridge local paper, “Sir Vivian Fuchs off to Antarctica” (a different Fuchs, of couse).

  15. Derek Lazenby says:

    OK you all obviously get it, so one of you can enlighten me, I got 5 from some of the crossing letters, but I still have no idea what the answer has to do with the clue. Hence it’s a candidate for a complaint.

  16. Conrad Cork says:


    I expect my usual slow typing will mean I am not first. ‘Speak of the Devil and he’ll appear’ is an old saying. The clue refers to people talking about someone, then them arriving while they are being talked about. So the phrase is using as a salutation, a sort of ‘Welcome, subject of discussion’ to greet them as well as let them know they were being talked about.

  17. Kathryn's Dad says:

    I’ve only been contributing here for a few months, but I know that Gordius is not everyone’s favourite setter; however, I thought this was decent fare in the main. TRIAL as a dd for a test (in a laboratory) and a case (in court) seems reasonable, even though it only took about three nanoseconds to solve; CENTAUR was rubbish last time and didn’t improve much on this outing; but 5dn and 25ac were clever, I thought.

    The FUCHSIA homophone was acceptable in my opinion because of the confusingly spoken/drunkenness implication – I’m more relaxed about homophone clues generally than some others, though. I know you’ve had this discussion lots of times before, but the vowel sound in my accent isn’t necessarily yours, etc etc …

    So imho, a decent if perhaps uninspiring puzzle – but the main plus was the ability to print out the pdf version so I could actually tackle it. Isn’t group pressure wonderful?

  18. William says:

    Welcome subject of discussion, Derek,I imagine means “saying hello to the person you were talking about”.

    What do you think?

  19. liz says:

    Thanks, manehi. I’m with Kathryn’s Dad on this one — ‘decent if uninspiring’ — although I did groan at FUCHSIA.

    So glad the PDF format was restored!

  20. Dave Ellison says:

    I am with Kathryn’s Dad on this one.

    I must admit I overlooked Trial as a court case in 1d. Isn’t the whole thing “test case” also a trial?

    I was another IDAHO person

  21. Dave Ellison says:

    Liz, are you also going to say great minds etc?

  22. Derek Lazenby says:

    Ah, thanks chaps, the old phantom comma syndrome!

  23. sandra coleman says:

    thanks manehi
    i found the puzzle entertaining today, if a little on the easy side. “centaur”, though, is geting a bit tired now – it seems to be constantly cropping up. could make similar comments about “trial”. but i laughed at “diversity”, i thought it was a lovely clue. liked “fancy goods” and “brakelight” too.

  24. Kathryn's Dad says:

    If I have any more people with me, we’ll have a quorum …

  25. FumbleFingers says:

    I’m with sandra – I thought “diversity” was a truly inspired literal interpretation of “oxbridge”.

    Not that I’d normally pass public comment on such gems – they’re really no more than we’ve come to expect from TG’s talented array of compilers. But given the brickbats flying about lately re the “new, not-so-improved” Guardian web pages, it’s just nice to have something nice to say at the moment.

  26. cholecyst says:

    Gareth Rees #11. You’re right. It could be very entertaining. After all, we’ve had to put up with the likes of 3dn for years.

  27. Mike says:

    I thought “diversity” was poor – clunky and inelegant.

    Thought 14ac was the pick of the bunch here – beautifully smooth surface.

  28. FumbleFingers says:

    Well, yes – I agree “old hat” was far more polished at surface level, but “diversity” still does it for me as a quirky literal interpretation.
    Plus maybe it’s just the way my brain works, but I also found it took a while before “diversity” dawned on me, whereas “old hat” took no more time to solve than to read. After all, some of us do expect a bit of a challenge.

  29. Stewart Holden says:

    I was caught out by having FOOT for 23d, as a well known leftist also meaning left foot / wrong standing.

    Still don’t really understand DIVERSITY, would be grateful if someone could explain.

  30. Qaos says:

    @Stewart Holden

    UNI as a prefix indicates one of something – e.g. unicycle
    DI as a prefix often means two of something – e.g. dipole

    So having Oxbridge being the slang joining of Oxford and Cambridge Universities into DIversity is genius, in my opinion.

  31. C. G. Rishikesh says:

    Not that I am one to hold back criticism and I do a lot of that when I comment on the crossword in a local paper.
    But I think this crossword does have good clues, though it might be on the easy side.
    As for repetition of lights in a crossword composer’s work, I think that with the present improvements in technology and the availability of so many useful tools, it should be possible for a setter to maintain decent intervals between words in his own work.
    Solvers of a local crossword rightly complained about the repetition of a word in a matter of seven crosswords (his monthly quota) which the composer could easily have avoided if only he had been a bit more careful.
    There is no crossword editor for the local paper and the composers work independently and so repetition among their crosswords might be excused but not in the same setter’s bunch in a month.

  32. FumbleFingers says:

    I’ve tackled the Guardian crozzie intermittently for decades, but it’s only become a daily routine for the last couple of years.

    I should confess I’m a bit of a geek – nearly 20 years ago I wrote a crossword generator for production use by a couple of major publishing companies. Simple stuff really – users maintained a database of potential answer words each with associated list of simple clues, and the software churned out pdf-like files that pretty much went straight into the print equipment to produce “100 Crosswords for the Office Teabreak” etc.

    As specified by the clients, my stuff avoided repeating answer words within any one book, and it cycled through the available clues for each answer word so as to maximise the time before a repeat (the output was mostly monthly/quarterly publications).

    Whilst I’m sure such constraints would be awkward to enforce in the context of Guardian cryptics, it does seem to me that since I’ve become a regular solver I notice more repetition of answer words than chance alone would explain. Of course this may just me suffering a variant of “red car syndrome” (or maybe our compilers are evolving into a hive mind…)

  33. FumbleFingers says:

    (sorry that’s a bit off-topic here. Apart from Gordius re-using “centaur” after just a few months I didn’t get any other sense of deja-vu on this one)

  34. NealH says:

    Sorry, I utterly hated diversity. To me, a literal meaning of Oxbridge would be Ox + bridge, not some weird (non-existent) institution called a di-versity. Aren’t clues supposed to have a definition ? Where’s the definition here ? It’s certainly not an &literal. It seems like another one to put in the scrambled eggs box – clever but ultimately a bad clue.

  35. FumbleFingers says:

    Ah well… one man’s meat is another man’s vegemite. I still like diversity in all its forms

  36. mhl says:

    Thanks for the post, Manehi.

    The high point for me here was DIVERSITY – wonderful, I think. FUCHSIA / future is very strange – I don’t think I’ve seen “confusingly spoken of” to mean “not a very good homophone” before, but perhaps it’s best that that is indicated more often :)

    Max: I laughed out loud at that headline – thanks

  37. sandra coleman says:

    max – as mhl above. so did i.

  38. Sil van den Hoek says:

    Even if this Gordius would have been a poor one, then we still would have enjoyed it today. It was so nice to work on the PDF again (printed on full A4 size with the printer’s Current View option), much better than on yesterday’s paper’s photocopy.
    And did I say ‘work’?
    Well, it was not really work today, as others experienced as well.

    A friendly crossword, less sloppy than a Gordius normally is.
    There were some very good clues, like the much praised DIVERSITY (which, to be honest, we initially didn’t understand, because we didn’t see a definition – we thought he was referring to something like ‘diver-city’, which was nonsense, of course).
    Also worth mentioning 14ac (OLD HAT) and FUCHSIA (raised a :) ).
    Nice cultural surfaces in 16d (LEFTISM) and 19d (CLAVIER).

    We saw FREE not so long ago (was it a Paul?), but this clue was not bad at all. And I am pretty sure that there was a [b]ABY SMAL[l] recently (Araucaria?), because I commented on that occasion on the order of the two words ‘baby’ and ‘small’ – nothing wrong with it here.

    We agree with Andrew (#4) on 1d (indeed, not really a dd) and on 17d (CENTAUR), which is hardly a cd (well, it is, but).
    Unlike manehi (thx for the blog!) we were not fully convinced by the &lit-ness of 1ac (TRAFFIC). The ‘about’ part doesn’t feel completely right (for us), we felt somehow that ‘moving’ was doing double duty, and that Gordius could have made this clue much more powerful (how? well, we’ll think about that).

    Today there was only one word that was dubious.
    The ‘to’ in 6d: “kitty to lie about” = “li(cat)e”? Not so sure about that.

    Finally this:
    At one point I said to my PinC: “I got 10ac” (the I inside PLOT).
    Somewhat later she said: “Oh yeah, shall I fill it in?”
    “Yep, OK!”
    And then she wrote PLAIN’, being PLAN for ‘guide’ (like a city plan) around I (‘one in (it)’), the answer PLAIN meaning ‘area of land’.
    I won! :)

  39. Dave Ellison says:

    On crossword deja vu: I got my best ever solve time of about 7 minutes in 2003/4, I think. After reading a half dozen or so clues, it suddenly struck me I had seen them before and then recognised the whole crossword as one published a couple of weeks before – it was a Paul, if I remember.

    I didn’t see any comment in the letters page

  40. Susan Sleight says:

    Andrew #4
    An amp is not rate of flow of current-this is a nonsense quantity. An amp is rate of flow of charge. 1 amp =1 coulomb of charge per second. Read a basic physics textbook

  41. Kieron says:

    Nope, I am looking and looking and I still don’t see why 21 is FAIR. Can someone please put me out of my misery? If that means shooting me in the head, please feel free.

  42. ernie says:

    I am another IDAHOan (24 ac). Also recalled CENTAUR (17 dn) = HORSEMAN from before. DIVERSITY was neat, but did not get it because had put FOOT (Michael, wrong-FOOTed lefty?) in 23 dn. Good fun on the whole.

  43. ernie says:

    Kieron #41: FAIR = becoming, as in comely/attractive, and also = reasonable, so it’s a double definition. But I have to admit I did not see ‘becoming’ until I read this blog: I just put it in because it was ‘reasonable’. Perhaps I should shoot myself.

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