Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 24,954 / Chifonie

Posted by Eileen on March 10th, 2010


I haven’t much to say about this puzzle. There is nothing contentious, I think, but, for me, no ‘ahas’ or smiles, either, and too many charades, my least favourite type of clue.


: ON WARDS: as  a command, I suppose.
5   PROLONG: P[ublic] R[elations] O[fficer] [image-maker] + LONG [lust] -[but it should be ‘long for’]
9   END UP: [s]END-UP [burlesque]
10  FIRMAMENT: FIRM [enterprise] + AMEN [last word] + T[uesday]: I can’t find this abbreviation for Tuesday but I suppose it could be used on [very small] calendars.
11  DELIBERATE: DELI [shop] BERATE [censure]
12  SAGO: SAG + O
!8 STREAMLINED: ST[reet] + REAM [some paper] + LINED [inlaid]
21  EVER: [s]EVER
22  ABOVE WATER: anagram of  WE VETO ARAB
25  BATTALION: BAT [strike] + TA [thanks] + LION [brave man]
26  ROOST: O[rdnance] S[urvey] [mapmakers] in ROT [bunk]
27 EXACTLY: X [wrong] ACT [move] in ELY [see]
28 SCHOLAR: anagram of S[mall] CHORAL


1   OREADS: O[scar] + READS [studies]: Oreads are mountain nymphs.
3   WADDLE: W[omen] + ADDLE [confuse]: [I don’t think ‘waddle’ and ‘totter’ are very good synonyms]
4   SO FAR: SOFA [Chesterfield] + R[ight]
PYRETHRIN: PYRE [incinerator] + R[are] in THIN [insufficient]
6   ORAL: hidden in demORALised
7   OPERATIC: anagram of IRATE COP
8   GET ROUND: ET [the very familiar crossword alien] in GROUND [reason]
13  WANDSWORTH: WAND’S [baton briefly has] + WORTH [value]
15  CELEBRITY: B[orn] in CELERITY [expedition]
16  ASSEMBLE: reversal of MESS in ABLE
17  GREEN TEA: anagram of TEENAGER
18  STROLL: ST [one] + ROLL [level] [as in use a roller]
20 CRATER: CRATE [old car] + R[uns]
23  VENUS: VENU[e] + S [pole]
24  DART: D[utch] + ART

38 Responses to “Guardian 24,954 / Chifonie”

  1. JohnR says:

    Thanks, eileen. I too felt this was a bit flat, somehow.

    On 27ac, I don’t recall seeing “wrong” as a clue for X. I know about “ten”, “kiss”, “vote” and of course “unknown” (better as a clue for Y?). Are there any more?

  2. Eileen says:

    Hi John

    I don’t think I’ve seen X = wrong before – but I used to be a teacher, so it seemed ‘right’!

    [We’ve also had X clued recently as ‘times’ or ‘by’.]

  3. Andrew says:

    Thanks for the blog, Eileen. I agree with you that this was OK-but-nothing-special, and with JohnR about X=wrong being a bit, er, wrong. It’s another case of not quite indicating the right part of speech, tense, etc. I’m also not sure about D=Dutch in 24dn: is that a standard abbreviation?

    On the positive side, I thought 14ac was a nice piece of misdirection, and I liked the anagram in 3dn.

  4. Eileen says:

    Hi Andrew

    I wondered about D = Dutch, too, but it’s in both Collins and Chambers. I don’t remember seeing it before.

  5. Ian says:

    Hi Eileen, thanks for the blog.

    The criticisms so far seem a little unfair. I found this to be not dissimilar in style to Rufus. Nothing at all contentious here although I agree there wasn’t much to set the house on fire with cleverness and wit.

    Nonetheless like all crosswords, it had its moments. For example, I rather enjoyed 15dn and the synonym of celerity for expedition.

  6. Eileen says:

    Hi Ian

    I’m sorry to disagree but

    “…there wasn’t much to set the house on fire with cleverness and wit.” Therein, for me, lies the dissimilarity with Rufus – plus, as I’ve said, the plethora of charade-type clues. [But then I don’t dislike cryptic clues as much as some people do!]

    And I’ve seen the CELE[B]RITY device several times before, including Chifonie 24,342, with an identically-worded clue.

  7. Kathryn's Dad says:

    Helpful blog, Eileen, thank you. I’m with you and others in the okay for an overcast Wednesday morning camp: nothing too much wrong with it, but a bit uninspiring. However, I did like FIRMAMENT and INCARNATION.

  8. SimonG says:

    Thanks, Eileen. I agree with the comments about this being uninspiring but don’t have issues with X=wrong – I have a distant memory of school work being returned with more Xs than ticks… I do agree with you about 3d, ‘waddle’ is not the same as ‘totter’.

  9. liz says:

    Thanks for the blog, Eileen. I also found this a little flat. My least favourite clue was 24dn. I don’t mind charade clues but there were so many of them! I liked 10ac, though.

    Struggled to get 5dn and only managed to see the wordplay after using the check button.

  10. Jerb says:

    The tart sign-off “See you next Tuesday” is one example where Tuesday can be abbreviated to T…

  11. NeilW says:

    Thanks, Eileen.

    I hope this was a deliberate attempt to have a “theme” of examples of different single letter abbreviations. I just found it very irritating.

  12. UnthoughtUnknown says:

    “…I can’t find this abbreviation for Tuesday but I suppose it could be used on [very small] calendars.”

    …er…such as the one at the top of this webpage?

  13. Eileen says:


    My original blog had a comment to that effect – then I decided not to be too critical!

    UnthoughtUnknown …er, yes, but at least there it can’t be confused with Thursday! [Has anyone found this abbreviation anywhere official? – I can only find Tu or Tue.]

    I know I’ve said this before [more than once] but I just cannot see why Chifonie is classified on this site as ‘hard’. But then the same is said of Rover and I’d dispute that, too!

  14. Bill Taylor says:

    I’d put Chifonie in the same category as Bonxie — unfulfilling!

  15. DavidA says:

    One answer to Eileen’s question is that in the Oxford University Lecture Lists T. is the abbreviation for Tuesday (and Th. for Thursday).

  16. UnthoughtUnknown says:

    surely it doesn’t matter whether the setter used Tuesday or Thursday, either way they can be represented as a T which is what the wordplay required?

  17. C. G. Rishikesh says:

    Chambers XWD A dictionary of Crossword Abbreviations does not have Tuesday for T.

    Nor do the back-of-book lists in several books on crosswords that I looked up.

    This is not to argue that a crossword setter should not use T for Tuesday as many calendars do have T for Tuesday/Thursday.

    I must also add that a looooooooong list of crossword abbreviations that is floating around the Internet does have t: tuesday
    (among others)

    Now, the setter of a desi (local) crossword often uses for components of their clues what is in this list and solvers often express reservations as has been done here.

    Also, the same setter is often criticised for using too many charades and too many components (sometimes five) in the breakup.

    in Madras that is Chennai

  18. Jacq says:

    Bland week so far.

    Let’s hope they’re building to a Boatman/Enigmatist to wake things up.


  19. sandra says:

    heavens jacq #18 – not enigmat6ist please!! he never makes me laugh. strange, i used to find chifonie hard but not for a long time. i wonder when i read that she was? i agree that this was stodgy. although i liked 10a there was little humour in this one.

  20. Eileen says:

    Hi Sandra

    I think you would find some smiles in the FT’s Io [Enigmatist] today – a bit of a challenge, but well worth it.

    I, too, always thought Chifonie must be a woman, with a name like that, until I bought Jonathan Crowther’s A-Z of crosswords, and found that it’s a mediaeval name for a hurdy-gurdy, as is Armonie, a name he uses to set puzzles for the FT [where, interestingly, as you can see, in the Setters thread, he is classified as ‘easy’!]

  21. Gnome says:

    I’m sorry, but being an accountant I fail to understand the preoccupation with humour. However, I can agree with complaints that the style of clues lacks balance.

  22. Mike04 says:

    Hi Eileen

    Re #13 Tuesday
    T. is given as an abbreviation for Tuesday in Everyman’s Dictionary of Abbreviations,
    first published in 1974. Thanks for the blog!

  23. Mike04 says:

    22 cont.
    My 1975 edition has nearly all of today’s abbreviations. Very useful for Chifonie-type crosswords!

  24. Duke says:

    I’m ok with R for Right (4d) but R for Rare (5d) and R for Runs (20d)?

  25. John says:

    Glad to see others are as unhappy as I always am with initial letters being used indiscriminately as abbreviations. Lazy cluing I call it.

  26. Sil van den Hoek says:

    We wouldn’t want to call this crossword uninspired, but it was far too easy – after 5 minutes already a quarter of the grid was filled.
    Everything else has already been said, including the D for ‘Dutch’ which surprised me, because it is an abbreviation for an English word which has nothing to do with the Netherlands (NL, Ned.) or Holland (which is never abbreviated) – I would think of Germany at seeing a D. But then, it’s in the dictionaries.

    We thought there was not enough variety in devices. Mostly anagrams, charades and insertions.
    And finally, I have to admit that we made one mistake.
    The last word to go in was 5d (apparently PYRETHRIN, with R=rare?),
    but we had (don’t laugh) PYRATERIN.
    Could have been an insecticide, we thought …
    The construction? Well, PYR (incinerator unsufficient, so missing the final E) + (= to) ATERIN (anagram of ‘retain’ – the indicator being ‘rare’). Not bad, ay? :)

  27. TC says:

    Still don’t understand 12ac, the only clue to defeat me today: it’s the use of ‘no’ in the clueing. Could someone help me with this ? I understand ‘Sag’ as weaken, but … ‘o’ ?

  28. Eileen says:

    Hi Sil

    I’ve just checked with the cheat button that my version is correct – but I liked yours just as much! Thank you [and Gnome #21] for injecting a little humour today. :-)

    I remember discussion about R = rare quite some time ago and I think someone told us that it was used in stamp catalogues.

    Duke, although R = rare is fairly rare, we do see R = runs quite often.

  29. Dave Ellison says:

    TC @ #27 I think NO = Zero = digit 0 = letter 0, the last step being extremely common in crosswords. I suppose its justification is as just now – I had to insert the words “digit” and “letter” to show the difference between the two characters. (In programming years ago this used to be a source of many a hard to find bug, which is why we programmers started putting a slash through zeros; unfortunately the reverse convention was in use for a while too!)

  30. Duke says:

    thanks Eileen – is R=runs from cricket, somehow?

  31. Eileen says:

    Hi Duke

    Yes, on score sheets.

  32. sandra says:

    hi eilee4n
    a belated thank you for the blog, and for your comments at #20. haven’t yet worked out hor to get the ft crosswords online but i’m working on it.
    i have often wondered about chifonie – but assumed she was a woman. thank you for the info.

  33. Eileen says:


  34. sandra says:

    hi eileen
    a belated thank you for the blog, and for your comments at #20. haven’t yet worked out how to get the ft crosswords online but i’m working on it.
    i have often wondered about chifonie – but assumed she was a woman. thank you for the info. i must look further into that.

  35. sandra says:

    thank you eileen – and therein lies my problem. printer kaput, and couldn’t use it anyway at present. still, it’s good to know it’s there if i manage to get the op i need. thanks again.

  36. nmsindy says:

    Comment 34 re FT puzzles. Go to the FT site, look at site map, then go for Arts and Leisure, then Pursuits within that, and then Crosswords within that (which shows them all back from the current date).

  37. Ed H says:

    I think some of the criticisms are a bit harsh. Especially for those of us relatively new to the game, this sort of simpler puzzle (even saying that, I didn’t get half a dozen clues) at least offers more hope than a near empty grid after 30mins of mental grind with some other setters. In an case, ‘incarnation’, ‘republican’ and ‘streamlined’ all raised a smile here, and I thought there was a reasonable spread of devices.

    It’s only through learning devices from a setter like Chifonie in a broadly solver-friendly grid, that the mental gymnastics of deriving letters for partial anagrams from reversed hidden Spoonerisms in a heavily cross-referenced themed grid, or whatever, becomes remotely plausible.

  38. Eileen says:

    Hi Ed H

    Fair comment. But you will see that some of the more seasoned solvers have raised objections to the number of unusual single-letter abbreviations in today’s puzzle – which do not make it easy for those who are unfamiliar with the more usual ones – and to the preponderance of particular types of clue.

    To be fair, I think only one commenter said that the puzzle was ‘too easy’. I questioned the classification of Chifonie as ‘hard’ because only three setters are so described [under ‘Setters’ at the top of this page] and there are several that I personally would rate as [considerably] harder. However, practically every day, this site demonstrates that one person’s hard is another’s easy and that such subjective judgments are not always helpful.

    [Having said that, I would still recommend Rufus’ puzzles, with their generally scrupulously fair, elegant and witty cluing, as a more friendly introduction to cryptic crosswords. :-) ]

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