Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 24941 – Gordius

Posted by Uncle Yap on February 23rd, 2010

Uncle Yap.

A mixed bag from Gordius. Some excellent clues, somewhat spoiled by a couple of mediocre ones.

1 SEPTIC TANKS Ins of TANK (reservoir) in *(cesspit) Nice surface
9 NOISOME Ins of OM (Order of Merit) in NOISE (row)
10 MERCURY Ins of CU (copper element) in MERRY (jovial)
11 KILOMETRE *(milk + O) ETRE (the verb ‘to be’ in French)
12 EPOCH Ins of C (first letter of church) in EPOH (rev of HOPE, virtue)
13 SOYA Sounds like Sawyer, Tom (Mark Twain hero)
14 PAST MASTER Thomas Arnold (1795–1842) was a British educator and historian. He was headmaster of Rugby School from 1828 to 1841
16 WEIGHTLESS Sounds like “Wait-less” (promise told to National Health Service patients) In my opinion, a very weak homophone clue of an impossible situation of instant service in the NHS or is it a shorter wait, in which case, the less element would sound differently. Gordius should have chosen another device to clue this word.
19 BENT (Thanks to Lanson) Removal of ravers (party people) from Ben Travers, (1886-1980) a British playwright most famous for his farces.
21 RELIC ha
22 CORTISONE Cha of COR (Blimey) *(it’s) ONE (individual)
24 READ OUT One of those reversed anagram devices where the answer is like a clue for DARE
25 WHEREAS Ins of HERE (locally) in WAS
26 SAFE DEPOSIT I suppose the compiler is alluding to the recent banking crisis which threatened to topple the entire economic and financial system of the world; hence the question whether a deposit with a bank is safe.

SHIRLEY WILLIAMS *(his aims will rely)
2 PROEM Ins of E (Europe) in PROM (concert)
3 INERTIA *(irate in)
4 TEMPEST Cha of TEMP (agency worker) *(set)
5 NORSEMAN Reversal of NAMES (calls) RON (boy) with the indicator from the south in this down clue. Fortinbras is the name of a Norwegian character from William Shakespeare’s Hamlet. Excellent COD
6 SPUR OF THE MOMENT *(P hot summer often)
7 SNAKES SNA (rev of ANSwer, solution) KES (bird ) Bird does not seem a very fair indicator for KES, the name of a kestrel in Kes (a 1969 British film about a boy and his falcon based on A Kestrel for a Knave by Barry Hines). “They may bite” as def for snakes? Don’t all dentated creatures bite? In my opinion, the most unsatisfactory clue of this lot.
8 CYPHER dd a secret code; an interweaving of the initials of a name; any person or thing of little value, a nonentity (Chambers) A cypher was the variation on plaintext spat out by the Enigma machine in WWII, so Enigmatic Variation is a nice touch.
15 CHECK OFF Sounds like CHEKHOV (1860-1904)
16 WAR CRY Ins of CR (credit) in WARY (suspicious) for the official newspaper of the Salvation Army
17 LOCATED *(laced to)
18 SCREW UP Ins of CREW (complement) in SUP (drink)
20 THEISM Ins of IS in THE M (thousand or many)
23 IDEAS *(aside)

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

18 Responses to “Guardian 24941 – Gordius”

  1. Lanson says:

    Thanks Uncle Yap, excellent puzzle, 16a refers to promises to reduce the NHS waiting list for operations, 19a is Ben Travers dropping ravers

  2. Bryan says:

    Many thanks, Uncle Yap, this was very enjoyable.

    Sadly, I failed to get 13a SOYA which seems so obvious now that you’ve explained it – which is as it should be.

    I did get 5d NORSEMAN and 18a BENT but without knowing why.

  3. molonglo says:

    Thanks Uncle Yap (and Lanson) for unravelling for me the mysteries of 19a and 5d. I didn’t think 26a was oxymoronic, either, and doubt if kes=bird is in the dictionary. Oddly I scored zero in the first reading of the acrosses, got 1d at once and the puzzle fell into place, mysteriously.

  4. Simon G says:

    Thanks for the blog, Uncle Yap.

    As you say a mixed bag with a couple of dodgy clues (notably 16a & 7d) but I did like 14a…

    Thanks to you and Lanson for explaining 19a and 5d – like Bryan I got both but without really understanding why.

  5. Martin H says:

    Thanks Uncle Yap – very much a mixed bag, this one. I agree with you about ‘Weightless’, which comes over as a cheap jibe, and about ‘Kes’ for ‘bird'; but surely biting is an adequate pointer to snakes? The association is clear in the word ‘snakebite’.

    ‘Spur of the Moment’, to me, suggests impetuosity or spontaneity, rather than brief opportunity (as in ‘seize the moment’).

    ‘Safe Deposit’ is hardly an oxymoron. At the height of the banking crisis Gordius might just have got away with it, but ‘topical’ clues have a limited shelf-life.

    Thanks for BENT; a raspberry to SOYA; and a cheer for NORSEMAN.

  6. jmac says:

    A very good puzzle. Thanks to Gordius and to Uncle Yap for his excellent blog. I particularly liked Norseman, Cypher, Mercury, and Snakes. I didn’t think Kes too obscure, and I presume Gordius meant “bite” in the sense of a ceature that might bite humans, rather than anything more general. 16 ac I took in an ironic sense and found gently amusing. Like Molongo I found the down clues a bit easier on first reading.

  7. Ian says:

    Well done Uncle Yap. A fine blog.

    Personally, I found little to fault in this excellent effort by Gordius.

    Several good homophones, an anagram disguised as a piece of misdirection and plenty of wit. Shirley Williams, Cortisone, Cypher and Weightless all superbly clued.

  8. Tom Hutton says:

    Once again my niggle about the age group catered for by setters is aggravated by the inclusion of Ben Travers without additional help for the solver. ( …dropped by farcical playwright for instance)

    Otherwise, I thought this was a good crossword although I was defeated by 5dn.

  9. fgbp says:

    I actually enjoyed the WEIGHTLESS clue and several others. One or two terrible ones, notably SNAKES (“Bird” for “Kes” indeed :-( ) and SOYA, but this didn’t really detract from the solving experience too much

  10. don says:

    Enjoyable and just difficult enough for me.

    16 across seemed OK and Kes is less obscure I think than the bloke (or was it a woman) out of one of Shakespeare’s plays – although I worked out/guessed 8 down (and 19 across).

    For 25 across I read ‘was locally’ as ‘was around here’, rather than ‘locally’ = ‘here’.

  11. Dave Ellison says:

    Thanks, Uncle Yap – I needed the explanations for 5d and 19a as well. I thought it was an enjoyable crossword, and I liked 21a as it took me a long time to realise it was hidden; quite subtley done.

    I had done most of it in 23 mins, but the last few took another 20 (16a, 19a, 21a, 25a, 15d, 18d, 8d and 20d)

  12. Davy says:

    Thanks Uncle Yap for the blog. I finished this reasonably quickly but got 5d wrong. I couln’t see the sense of the clue and so put NORWEYAN just to finish it off. The definition in Chambers is as follows :-

    Nor*we”yan\, a. Norwegian. [Obs.] –Shak.

    As soon as I saw Shak. I was convinced that this must be the correct answer. I was on the right lines but just plain wrong.

    I thought this was a very good puzzle from Gordius today and cannot agree with you on 16a which I thought was a fun homophone ie wait less is spoken exactly like weightless. Methinks you think too deeply on this Uncle Yap, it’s only a clue and not a political statement.

    I’m surprised that nobody has mentioned 11a KILOMETRE which I thought had a perfect surface reading. Excellent stuff Gordius.

  13. Alex says:

    Thanks for the blog. Needed it for quite a few of the clues – Couldn’t get into this puzzle at all. Just one of those days.

  14. Mr Beaver says:

    You’re not alone, Alex, we found this tough, and left the NE corner almost undone, though some we had no excuse for.

    Personally, I didn’t have a problem with ‘Kes’ = bird. And what’s wrong with SOYA ?
    Surely it’s a good homophone for Sawyer, and elicited a good groan!

    I thought 1a was a bit unfair, with ‘cesspit’ apparently being part of the definition, and also anagram fodder.
    I was vaguely aware that Fortinbras was from Hamlet, but expecting us to know that he was Norwegian was a bit much.

  15. ilan says:

    Wrt 1a: I think it was meant to be an &lit (thus the wordplay and definition overlap).

  16. Paul B says:

    Except that it uses TANK as reservoir, which is what it actually is in the required phrase. And … and … oh it’s just horrible. &lits have to be really really good even just to be worth bothering with, and this one can’t decide whether its SI is also the definition, or not. This messes with my head.

  17. Paul (not Paul) says:

    Uncle Yap had it right. Its a typical Gordius mixed bag of good clues and obscure fillers that he puts it when he’s lost patience. Should I care who Ben Travers and Thomas Arnold are? mmm dunno. Guessed both answers but poor clues. Snakes was a real Gordius shocker though.

    Still, I enjoyed most of it.

  18. Jobs says:

    Very well explained — thanks Uncle yap. I didn’t get many in the top half (perhaps because I’d gone with heat of the moment…). Some great surfaces here, 23 in particular I liked, perhaps others have seen it before?

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