Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 24,972 – Enigmatist

Posted by Andrew on March 31st, 2010


As is often the case with Enigmatist, I found it quite hard to get started on this one. Getting the long linked answers helped a lot, but even then there were some tricky corners.

9. EL ALAMEIN E + LA-LA + ME + IN. A mistake here, I think, as the Tellytubby’s name is actually Laa-laa, and there’s no indication of a homphone.
11. TEETHED Cryptic definition – when babies have teethed their choppers are out
12. EVIL EYE E + VILE + YE (you = solvers)
13. MAINS Double definition – electric supply and main courses
16. SPLIT INFINITIVE Cryptic definition, though rather a vague one – I only got this by working back from “to boldly go”
22,23d. SPELL OF DUTY Double definition, with one of them being cryptic.
23. DELPHIC DEL (Derek “Del Boy” Trotter from “Only Fools and Horses”) + cockney homophone of “thick”, as Del Boy might describe the character Trig[ger].
24. SWELL Double definition
2. WAGE BILL (Approximate) Spoonerism of BEIGE WILL, “buff” being another word for beige.
4. FEED Double definition
5. UNDERWRITE Double definition
6. BERIBERI RIB (wife) in BEER (porter, maybe) + I
7. ETHENE The end of “lead-free” is EE, and how do you spell that? E THEN E. (I almost had to appeal for help on this one, but saw it as I was writing up the blog.)
8. BRIE BRIEFLY (=in a nutshell) less FLY
17,14a,3,14d. TO BOLDLY GO WHERE NO MAN HAS GONE BEFORE Double definition, I suppose – virgin soldiers might go where no man has gone before, and of course the phrase, with its defiant split infinitive, is famous from the opening to “Star Trek”
18. IRISH JIG IRISH sea (sounds like “see”) + JIG (saw)
21. PALING Double definition
22. SASH SAS + H. “Who dares, wins” is the motto of the SAS,

36 Responses to “Guardian 24,972 – Enigmatist”

  1. Eileen says:

    Many thanks for the blog, Andrew and particularly for the explanation of 8dn, which I just couldn’t see! [And I never knew Laa-laa was spelt like that!]

    I thought this was vaguely disappointinging for Enigmatist, one of my favourite setters. I still can’t fathom 16ac and I thought 2dn was rather weak, since ‘will’ was in the clue – to say nothing of the homophone, as I have pledged to do! I didn’t think 17 etc was particularly clever, either.

    However, I thought the clue for RETENTION was a vast improvement on Gordius’ yesterday.

    Speaking of which, whatever next? Yesterday we were obliquely referred to as ‘crackpot’ and today it’s ‘loathsome’ – a touch of setters’ revenge? :-)

  2. Ian says:

    Thanks Andrew.

    El Alamein went in straight away after the ‘La La’ connexion was made. The v.long dd answer came early on too and helped me to get 75% done in under 30′. The SE corner was a problem though. I missed the anagram in 15dn and only after inserting ‘Delphic’ did the penny drop.

    Eileen, 16ac is pure cd as Andrew states. I can’t see any other explanation!

  3. Bryan says:

    Many thanks, Andrew.

    I gave up on this about half way: too many obscure allusions that went right over my head.

    Although I guessed SPLIT INFINITIVE and EL ALAMEIN I had no idea why.

    I am therefore delighted to give Enigmatist a well deserved 12a.

  4. John Appleton says:

    It is with regret that I spotted the misspelling of a Tellytubby.

  5. molonglo says:

    Thanks Andrew. Satisfying to pick up the Star Trek theme early, but there were too many unsatisfying gettable I-suppose-so clues like 18 and 21d. I didn’t like the Spoonerism at all (wage and beige don’t rhyme), or 11a, or, in 23a and 6d, the possessives that must be mentally dropped. As Bryan says, he deserves his 12a.

  6. Bullfrog says:

    I’m happy to say that I assumed LaLa to be correct, and I’m grateful for the explanation of BERIBERI. I got it, but couldn’t see why. I have to say that when I saw the first few comments at The Guardian site I thought it was going to be a stinker, but it took about half an hour.

  7. crikey says:

    Can anyone explain the inclusion of ‘loud’ in 23 across?

    Agree with all the comments above. Apart from a few clues, I thought this puzzle was a bit too “clever”/vague for its own good. Ho hum…

  8. Dave Ellison says:

    crikey #7 – I assumed LOUD was to indicate the PH sound like F, but I didn’t really like it.

    I share the general comments above. I managed none first time through, and thought it was going to be a stinker, but got the long one from the letter numbers, essentially.

    I didn’t really like 4d (FEED) – never heard of this as PASTURE; nor 4d (BRIE) I thought of this early on, without seeing an explanation, but was convinced DAIRY PRODUCT had to be more general like butter or whey etc. The clue was a bit contrived anyway.

  9. Dave Ellison says:

    I forgot to thank you for the blog, Andrew, and I see you already did explain the homophone in 23a.

    8d again: I had taken “in a nut shell” to be BRIEF, with F for Fly removed. However, it is less contrived if BRIEFLY is used.

  10. liz says:

    Thanks for the blog, Andrew. Nothing much to add to what’s already been said. What struck me most about the puzzle was the appearance of RETENTION for the second day running and the dig at solvers ditto. I thought 18dn was particularly convoluted!

  11. Richard says:

    Thanks for the blog, Andrew,
    When I got 17 immediately, I thought I was going to enjoy this…

    Sorry, but I don’t understand the connection between Green measure and Irish jig in 18.

  12. Gaufrid says:

    The national colour of Ireland is green and a measure is a dance, as is a jig.

  13. Richard says:

    Thanks, Gaufrid. I wasn’t aware of measure = dance.

  14. Grumpy Andrew says:

    This is turning into my worst week ever. My total number of solutions wouldn’t fill a single crossword.
    General point: enough Spoonerisms.
    Specific queries: what’s the role of the word “scene” in 1a? Where’s the definition in 12a and 16a? Has anyone ever used the word “climbable”? Is heaving the same part of speech as swell (24a)?
    I’m never going to convert my colleagues who do the Telegraph crossword with puzzles like this (though they may convert me).
    Thanks for the blog, would be lost without it.

  15. FranTom Menace says:

    Six clues left unsolved for us today, although reading the solutions above I’m not surprised or disappointed; they were very tough! Thoroughly enjoyed all the rest of the clues bar 24, I still don’t understand the VIP part. Does it mean self important maybe? I don’t know.
    I loved 15, brilliant surface!

  16. crikey says:

    Thanks Dave (comment 8). That’s what I thought, somewhat unsatisfactory though. Plus it possibly renders ‘local’ redundant… can’t make up my mind whether it does or not.

    And Andrew, forgot to say thanks for the blog – an unenviable task!

  17. Bullfrog says:

    Chambers gives ‘heaving’ (as a noun) and ‘bigwig’ as definitions of ‘swell’.

  18. Rob says:

    Tom #15 – A swell is an old-fashioned (American I think) name for a VIP. All very F Scott Fitzgerald.

    First time I’ve ver completed an Enigmatist puzzle I think, with three recourses to the check button to confirm guesses.

  19. Mr Beaver says:

    We managed to finish this (I had the day off, so got an early start!), but Grumpy Andrew has our sympathy – the standard since Saturday has been extremely tough.
    Only really got going on this after getting the long one – and that was only from the word lengths – decided it was right despite the clue, not because of it!

    I did like 8d, and I have used the word CLIMBABLE (mostly preceded by ‘definitely not’ when potholing), but there were too many imprecise clues for this to get high marks. Ended up putting MEAD for 4d as the only pasture-like word that fit – that’s the trouble when there’s some bad clues: you end up losing faith in the compiler and putting anything in because ‘it’s just as plausible as x across’

  20. Rob says:

    isn’t the pasture reference as in “put out to pasture” which I guess might have originally meant “put out to feed” or something similar?

  21. Sil van den Hoek says:

    Yes, this was what we would call Hard Labour [though having a day-off].
    After a very slow start (just as Andrew pointed out in his preamble) we thought we’d never get there in the end.
    But we did – speeding up after finding the theme (via ENTERPRISE), albeit with three times asking Mr Chambers for advice (SASH, FEED, ETHENE).

    As always with Enigmatist there is a lot of cleverness to admire.
    6d (BERIBERI), 8d (BRIE) and 15d (ONE PERCENT) were highlights and very well constructed, as was 1d (SET TO MUSIC), our first entry, of which we thought there are more concise ways to indicate the anagram (and one might even think that there should be two consecutive anagrams involved).

    The cryptic definitions of 11ac and 16ac were rather poor, and we didn’t jump for joy when seeing THELONGONE.

    We know, (some) setters do, but defining ‘me’ as ‘writer’ (in 1ac) is not something that we like – although technically speaking, it’s all right, we guess.

    We were a bit annoyed by the grammar in 20d (IF EVER): ‘I will achieve excitement’ = ‘I fever’ ? We were looking for something that would include the ‘ll, but alas.
    BTW, we do understand why Enigmatist used the future tense (because of the second part of the clue).

    Finally, ‘see-saw’ (in 18d) is an irresistable combination for the setter. But ‘sounds like a see-saw’ ? It doesn’t sound like a see-saw at all! Of course, we know, it must be seen as IRISH + ‘Sea’ and then JIG + ‘saw’. The only thing is that Irish is a adjective for ‘Sea’ (so Irish is a kind of sea), but that ‘jigsaw’ is one word – we don’t think Jig is a kind of saw.

    the usual package of clever clues, plus this time some rather weak ones as well.
    At least for us, Enigmatist’s crosswords have (very often) a lack of openness – they don’t breathe enough (to our taste) – and this one was no exception.
    Don’t know exactly what it is.
    Maybe we’re just not at the same wavelength.

    But then, you can’t argue too much about taste and style.
    And, despite all this, the crossword was certainly a challenge!

  22. Bracoman says:

    Like Rob, I think that this is the first time I have completed an Enigmatist puzzle. I quite enjoyed it and thought the effort was worthwhile.

  23. John says:


  24. jetdoc says:

    At 23a, ‘loud’ is a homophone indicator — ‘phic’ sounds like ‘fick’, which would normally be spelt with a final K.

  25. Mr Beaver says:

    “Jigsaw” = “fine-toothed power saw with a narrow blade; used to cut curved outlines” – see

  26. Jim says:

    A couple of folks have said this is the first Enigmatist puzzle they have finished, I can say it is the closest I have come, couldn’t for the life of me work out the spoonerism or 8dn though (thanks to the blog for clearing up those and a couple of other clues that I had an answer but was not 100% why). Only got 16ac due to 17, but overall, delighted to get as far as I did :) !

  27. Derek Lazenby says:

    Finished with difficulty for all the reasons given.

    About 16, Andrew said it was vague, I think that was the polite way of putting it. I don’t think any but a really hot expert would get it as a free standing clue without crossing letters. Not good.

  28. Sil van den Hoek says:

    Re #25.
    Mr Beaver, that’s fine then.
    Didn’t look well enough in Chambers – was only thinking of jigsaw puzzles.

  29. Gnomethang says:

    Re 7d:
    Strangely, or maybe not, the Times today had:
    Top marks in succession for goddess (6)

    I enjoyed this apart from 20d and 2d

  30. Davy says:

    Thanks Andrew,

    I really enjoyed this and as Enigmatist is usually my nemesis (taking the mantle from Bunthorne), I was pleased to finish this. Like others, I saw the long one quite early although I didn’t initially get the words right. I thought the best clue of this puzzle was 15d ( ONE PERCENT ).

    So Enigmatist, thanks for a very entertaining puzzle and no “evil eye” from me.

  31. graham says:

    Enjoyed the Star Trek link to Split Infinitive but only guessed at Evil Eye as I cannot see where the YE is clued.

  32. Orange says:

    Ye are we the “solvers”

  33. Richard says:

    still don’t understand the split infinitive clue

  34. Vince Bowdren says:

    Still confused, even after checking with my usual accomplices. Can anybody explain 16ac? I just don’t see any connection except for spaced-out meaning split.

  35. Daniel Miller says:

    Struggling to remember now but.. “To Boldly Go” rather than “To go boldly” is the SPLIT INFINITIVE referred to in the crossword clue(s). Star Trek always (still?) started with the expression: “TBGWNMHGB” and it all tied in with Enter-Prise..

  36. Huw Powell says:

    Someone said “wage” doesn’t rhyme with “beige” – how do you pronounce “beige”. Not that I got that one.

    Got the long 17d second with one checking letter (from climbable), was very disappointed there weren’t more themed words, not to be a ST geek, but just to see the theme fleshed out more..

    Spaced-out = “split” quite readily, and I take “agent of operations” to basically mean a verb. But I only got it by randomly writing down words that went S _ _ _ T, the 8th was “split”.

    Missed four clues, two of which I feel I should have sussed, although “mains” is a bit British. SAS I would never have seen. Got Delphic but the cryptic part made no sense to me.

    Thanks for the blog, it’s so nice to be able to come here when I almost finish but give up!

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