Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 24,942 – Quantum

Posted by manehi on February 24th, 2010


Maybe it’s the time of night, but I found this quite a slow solve for a Quantum and got held up in a few places despite the long clues falling early. A few niggles, but I liked 18ac, 24ac and 19dn.

1 TENUOUS TEN + U[niversity] + [h]OUS[e]
5 ROUGHEN =”Chap” as in lips cracking.
9 PEWIT W[est] I[ndies] inside PET=”favourite”
10 BEDRIDDEN BIDDEN around E[nglish] DR
11 SCORE AN OWN GOAL cryptic def
13 NETS double def
17 IN A SENSE sight being a sense.
18 ACHE PANACHE minus PAN=”face”
21 ELDER STATESMAN STATES=”US” in ELDER=”Oldie” + MAN=”piece” e.g. in board games
23 TRACK DOWN double def, second one cryptic
24 ELITE picked from “thE LITErary circle”
25 LADINGS (snag lid)*
26 CUTLERY “canteen” can mean a case for a cutlery set
1 TYPE double def, “Kind” and “person of a particular sort”. Might as well have been “Kind sort”, really.
2 NEW SCOTLAND YARD (Yarn we’d)* around SCOTLAND
3 OUTCRY OUT=”dismissed” + CRY
4 SUBWAY rev(BUS) + WAY=”method”
5 REDPOLLS =a bird [wiki]. RED sounds like “read” meaning “studied” (not “Studies”) + POLLS
6 UNIONIST (I is on NUT)*. “on” doesn’t quite work in the surface.
7 HYDROGEN CYANIDE (or Prussic acid) apparently boils at just above room temperature. HYDRO + GEN=”information” + (nice day)*, so HYDRO=”hotel”? Google suggests that this is possible, but I’m not sure which Hydro I’m supposed to know of.
8 NONPLUSSED “not put on” ~ not added to i.e. non-plussed
12 INCIDENTAL INC[orporated] + (tin lead)*
15 BEARSKIN i.e. the military cap. KIN under BEARS
16 ISOTRONS (sort ions)*
19 ATONIC A TONIC=”medical preparation”, and ATONIC syllables are unstressed.
20 ASSENT sounds like “a scent”
22 RELY REL[a]Y=”Not a race” i.e. race minus A

36 Responses to “Guardian 24,942 – Quantum”

  1. Simon G says:

    Thanks manehi. I didn’t enjoy this much as I thought some of the clues were a bit contrived and inelegant, 22d being a case in point… As you said, 5d should have read ‘studied’ rather than ‘studies’…

  2. Uncle Yap says:

    Thank you, manehi, for the comprehensive blog. I think 1Down is not a double definition as we understand it. It is a dud, a duplicate definition (water from the same well). Apart from this, the rest of the puzzle was quite enjoyable and solved well within 30 minutes

    11A is my cod

  3. molonglo says:

    Thanks manehi for explaining why I got 1a and 18a right. The rest was straightforward and quite fun. Unlike Simon G I though 5d was OK as is, and 22d was clever.

  4. Bryan says:

    Many thanks, manehi, I enjoyed this even though I failed with 5d REDPOLLS and 14a PLASTERS.

    I did consider both solutions but could not convince myself sufficiently to expend any quantum of ink, just in case something better turned up.

    I’ll know better next time.

  5. sidey says:

    First person to tell me what an ISOTRON is gets a gold star!

    Hydro is fine for hotel, lots of them in Scotland, Buxton and Harrogate have or had them. Agatha Christie hid in the latter.

    I think 1d is an attempt at a triple definition: Kind = type: ‘person of a particular sort’, as “She’s not my type” and ‘a particular sort’, “One or other of the characters or letters in a fount of type”. Possibly. Not very good what ever the intent.

    26a must be in the running for worst cryptic definition ever while 11 is really excellent.

  6. Doktorb says:

    Not looked at the answers to this one yet. Thought 4d was something like “escalate” or a pun on esclators. But perhaps not.

    Really struggling. But that said, I didn’t get a single one yesterday.

    Any day now I’m going to realise that comprehensive school education does not equal cryptic crossword abilties!

  7. Andrew says:

    As it hasn’t been mentioned yet, newcomers might be interested to know that Quantum (aka Eric Burge) died nearly two years ago. Every time one of his puzzles shows up we wonder how many more the Guardian has in stock.

    See Don Manley’s obituary of him at

  8. Monica M says:


    You asked for it ….

    A device for sorting isotopes of an element in which ions are accelerated to a fixed energy in a strong electric field, and a radio-frequency field then selects ions according to their velocity, which is inversely proportional to the square root of their mass.

    I have no idea what it means ….

    Panache = swagger … a bit of a stretch for me …. but thanks for the explanation manehi.

  9. IanN14 says:

    I beg to differ on your last point.
    They may not be equal, but neither are they necessarily mutually exclusive…

  10. Eileen says:

    Thanks, manehi.

    And thanks, Andrew, for the timely reminder, saving embarrassment for newer contributors who might later feel thy had criticised this puzzle unduly.

    It’s now three months since we had a Quantum puzzle and so I really did think that the November one would be the last – and I wish it had been! I’m sure I remember Quantum as being one of the very top setters but these posthumous puzzles don’t, for me, do his reputation any favours.

    As sidey says, 26ac is dreadful and 1dn rather poor. In 12dn, I don’t see the need for ‘in alloy’ and surely the clue for 15dn should read ‘on [not 'in'] top’?

    And, molonglo, can you explain to me how ‘studies’ = ‘red’ works for you?

  11. Ian says:

    Thanks manehi for the weblog.

    An enjoyable, if somewhat easy puzzle that took around 20′ to see off.

    7dn and 15dn were the ‘highlights’.

    Eileen, ‘red’ is perfectly acceptable for ‘read’ surely.

  12. Jobs says:

    I’ve only just started on this so can only comment on 1dn, which I’ll stick up for: good surface, fair dd, simple and elegant. The only trouble is that most people will have seen it before. Similar to yesterday’s ‘ideas’ from ‘theories cast aside’, I’m sure people will have seen before, but I hadn’t and think it a brilliant clue.

    Regarding my (unfortunate) comment on a Rufus 8/9 days ago — my beef is really more with myself than his excellent crosswords. For whatever reasons I often struggle with them, and probably fail to step back and admire the beauty of his surface readings. I’d really like to see him set a Saturday puzzle. Has it ever happened?

  13. IanN14 says:

    Totally agree with Eileen @10 and Uncle Yap @2.
    5d. and 15d. have to be misprints, surely?
    Ian @11, how does “read” (pronounced red) = “studieS”?

  14. Eileen says:

    Ian, yes, but not ‘read’ for ‘studies’!

    Jobs, re my comment on the Rufus: you said my preamble last week led you not to buy the paper and do the puzzle – I was just glad that that had not happened this week! [I don't remember Rufus doing a prize puzzle. He has said in the past that it's his brief to supply a less difficult puzzle to start the week - but I'm sure he's more than capable of producing a sizzler!]]

    [Re 12dn: I had mistakenly read the 'incorporated' as the anagram indicatior which is, of course, 'in alloy'. :-(]

  15. Eileen says:

    IanN14 – crossed in the post again!

  16. John Appleton says:

    I got CUTLERY but dismissed it as not cryptic enough. You’d be likely to see it in a canteen (i.e. a cafeteria) anyway.

  17. liz says:

    Thanks manehi. I found this a bit flat in places and I didn’t like 26ac at all. 11ac was good though and I enjoyed 7dn and 22dn.

  18. Dawn says:

    Thanks Monica M. I read Physics at Uni some years ago but I hadn’t heard of an isotron before today. I liked the puzzle since I did finally complete it.

  19. Stella says:

    5d “studies” threw me off completely – I was looking for an anagram of “reads” around some synonym for “votes”.Never heard of the bird, anyway.

    Speaking of birds, I thought pewit was with double “e”

    Didn’t like 26a, either

  20. Bullfrog says:

    John at 16: It’s a double definition of a canteen (cafeteria) and a canteen (boxed set) of cutlery. 1 down, however, I think is a very poor double (barely) definition.

  21. Bill Taylor says:

    Hang in there, Doktorb! I got kicked out of school with two O-Levels when I was 16 and I do okay with cryptics — it’s mostly a matter of getting into the right mindset.

    It would seem that the Guardian, for reasons best known to itself, is working its way through a backlog of Quantum rejects. If they were weren’t good enough the first time, they shouldn’t be good enough now. And, with no disrespect intended to the memory of Eric Burge, this one wasn’t.

  22. Val says:

    Stella, I also did but when I typed PEWIT into Wikipedia it took me to the page on Northern Lapwing with the explanation that Peewit redirects there so I assume it is an acceptable alternative spelling.

    I was rather disappointed with 1d, which I didn’t fill in despite having all the crossing letters because I didn’t think it could be that simple.

  23. Gareth Rees says:

    The OED notes the spellings puwit, puwyt, puet, puit, puett, pewitt, pewit, pewet, peevit, pievit, peewit, peeweet, peeseweet, pivit, and pewheet! (By no means an unusual number of spellings for a regional or dialect word.)

  24. Uncle Yap says:

    I think 5 Down suffered from a typo
    In our qwerty keyboard, middle row left reads asdfghj … someone somewhere sometime hit s when he/she ought to hit d

  25. sandra says:

    my somewhat peevish reaction to this crossword may have been affected by events outside the setter’s control! there are roadworks outside and the electricity got cut off accidentally twice whilst i was working on it. by the 3rd time of re-entering……….
    another site i guess.
    however, there were some clues here which i liked very much and some not so.
    i liked 5, 10, 11 across and 7, 8 and 15down, among others.
    stella, i have an interest in birds, and apart from once coming across peaseweet, in a crossword, i have only ever seen it spelt peewit, whatever the dictionary says. i will be charitable and accept studies as a typo. i technically did not finish, as i could not believe that cutlery was correct, but hesitated momentarily over 1d.

  26. JimboNWUK says:

    I’ve seen worse puzzles, but wasn’t keen on 17A (in fact I didn’t fill it in) because I was sure that it wouldn’t start with ‘In’ this being in the clue.

  27. sidey says:

    Over in the Comments section on the site Martin Belam is asking for suggestions for improvements (I think, tee hee) to the search feature.

  28. pendrov says:

    i think with the double definition of canteen 26ac is a perfectly decent clue.

  29. Paul B says:

    It’s a pun, not a dd. But it’s a bit obvious, almost to the point of being a straight def, and a fair number of today’s clues are similarly affected. There are technical problems too, eg ‘seen to be up in the air’ would not for me define a noun all that well. Innit. And that wasn’t the only heretical moment in that clue as others have mentioned. Bah.

  30. Mr Beaver says:

    Whatever the merits of 26a as a clue, it made me smile recalling my father once Spoonerising ‘cutlery canteen’ to embarrassing effect …

    Oh, and 6d, though reading a little awkwardly surely deserves credit for being &lit ?

  31. Paul B says:

    ‘One is on NUT organisation’, that was: presumably (one=)I/IS/ON/NUT* with a nounal indicator.

    Are you ‘on’ an organisation Mr Beaver? I can be in one (as opposed to being on a panel), and so I don’t see how the chosen wording is properly ‘&lit’.

  32. molonglo says:

    Eileen, you and especially Uncle Yap are right. Nabokov in Pale Fire brilliantly describes two sorts of inspiration, the instant spark and the more deliberate. These blogs are all method B, below: my error was A. But A is the real joy of solving. And, as at the end of this long quote, I always solve penless.
    “I’m puzzled by the difference between
    Two methods of composing: A, the kind
    Which goes on solely in the poet’s mind,
    A testing of performing words, while he
    Is soaping third time one leg, and B,
    The other kind, much more decorous, when
    He’s in his study writing with a pen.
    In method B the hand supports the thought,
    The abstract battle is concretely fought.
    The pen stops in mid-air, then swoops to bar
    A canceled sunset or restore a star,
    And thus it physically guides the phrase
    Toward faint daylight through the inky maze.
    But method A is agony! The brain
    Is soon enclosed in a steel cap of pain.
    A muse in overalls directs the drill
    Which grinds and which no effort of the will
    Can interrupt, while the automaton
    Is taking off what he has just put on
    Or walking briskly to the corner store
    To buy the paper he has read before.
    Why is it so? Is it, perhaps because
    In penless work there is no pen-poised pause
    And one must use three hands at the same time,
    Having to choose the necessary rhyme,
    Hold the completed line before one’s eyes,
    And keep in mind all the preceding tries?”

  33. Doktorb says:

    Heh, having seen the problems with today’s Gruaniad crossword, maybe for once I can blame them rather than my lack of lateral thinking ;)

    ((As it goes, on the way into work, I tried testing myself by making cryptic clues for random words, see if I can do things “that way round”. Would “African country. For example, initally your paitence tried” work for “Egypt” ? It /sounds/ right…. =/ ))

  34. Pasquale says:

    I am sorry that you think the crossword editor is working through a pile of rejects by my old friend. I myself have over a year’s worth of material lodged at The Guardian, and Eric obviously had a big pile of material as well. Quantum’s puzzles may not be to your particular taste, but he had a distinguished setting record and I feel that you should show a little more respect.

  35. sidey says:

    Sorry Pasquale? Are you saying Quantum deserves respect because he was your friend or because he is dead? I don’t know if he set for The Times but if one of his puzzles appeared over there and received a similar reception at TftT would you make a similar post?

    Some of the clues in this puzzle were not up to scratch. We are allowed to say so no matter who the setter.

  36. Pasquale says:

    By all means criticise the puzzle but there’s no need to suggest that this was in any way a reject in a pile of old dross. I do criticise my fellow-setters from time to time, but in a constructive way, I hope — and I always like to show the utmost respect to all my colleagues, even if I do not always see eye to eye with them. Enough said.

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