Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 24983 – Gordius

Posted by Uncle Yap on April 13th, 2010

Uncle Yap.

Quite a heavy-going and stodgy offering from Gordius with some strange words and weird constructions; some which escaped me. The one shining and lustrous pearl of the morning was  that superb cryptic definition, Enlightenment for the masses? that would have done Rufus proud.

1 SPREAD *(despair minus i)
5 TISSUE Sounds like (A) TISHOO, bless you
8 BOLSTER *(best  L or)
9 POINTED *(done tip) Thanks to Barbara’s sharper eyes
11 SECOND IN COMMAND Ins of INCOM (pay or income minus e) in SECOND (tick) MAN (fellow) D (bit of Debt)
13 EGOCENTRIC Eccentric (oddball) with GO substituted for C (hundred)
17 HIGG’S BOSON *(gosh big’s no) “The Higgs boson is a hypothetical massive scalar elementary particle predicted to exist by the Standard Model in particle physics” whatever that means … don’t shoot me, I merely copied what Wikipedia said
18 ANTI ha
20 UNCOMMUNICATIVE Not a very convincing cd
23 DRAFTEE Ins of RAFT (floater) in River DEE
24 TRINITY Ins of IN IT in TRY (go)
25 STAYED STRAYED (wandered) minus R (right out)
26 ROMANY ROM (read only memory) ANY with “one is inclined to wander” as def ; any & one are conjointed twins, painlessly separated by Uncle Yap

2 POLICE DOG DO + G (good) … anyone has a good explanation for POLICE from filth may?
3 EXTEND *(next ed)
4 DERRING-DO DER RING (Richard Wagner’s Der Ring des Nibelunge) DO (the same)
5 TOPIC TROPIC (of Cancer) minus R (second time Right for R is used)
6 SLIMMING cd for me, the pièce de résistance of today’s puzzle
7 ULTRA ha
8 BASSET HOUND Ins of ASSET (advantage) H (hard) in BOUND (spring)
10 DEDUCTIVELY DEDUCT (take off) IV (four) ELY (Cathedral city or see)
14 CHORISTER *(rich store)
15 RENDITION Another clue where I came a cropper when it comes to explaining the wordplay … most extraordinary and shameful :-)
16 ISOMETRY Ins of SOME (part) in I TRY (attempt)
19 BARIUM Bar (except) I (0ne) UM (hesitation) barium meal is a mixture of barium sulphate swallowed to render the alimentary canal opaque to X-rays.
21 CHANT CH (church) ANT (worker)
22 UPEND Probably an allusion to the Waterloo’s position on the Thames vis-a-vis the annual boat race between Oxford and Cambridge

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

58 Responses to “Guardian 24983 – Gordius”

  1. Barbara says:

    9. pointed
    This isn’t a DUD.
    It’s an anagram (in order) of done + tip. Def. is ‘sharp’

  2. Barbara says:

    I, too, am puzzled by police dog
    and rendition with the same questions as Uncle Yap.

  3. NeilW says:

    Thanks Uncle Yap.

    The filth is slang for the police. Rendition becomes extraordinary when practised by the US on terrorist suspects and “shameful rendition” is, as far as I know, another one of those colloquial phrases, but could also be a comment on the former use – I had the feeling there was a mini-theme going on here with 20ac in particular.

  4. Jack says:

    Thanks for the above!

    RE 22d – Recently there have been 1 or 2 clues where the solution has been ‘uptrain’; these led to some discussion (can’t remember which Xwords) and it seems most(?) people are happy with the term ‘uptrain’ referring to one that goes ‘up’ to a town/city. So I wonder if ‘upend’ here is similar in that Waterloo is the ‘up end’ of the line when travelling by rail to London from various starting points.

  5. Dessie says:

    For 22d i read Waterloo to mean meet your end as Napoleon did at Waterloo

  6. rrc says:

    I found this enjoyable, several clues made me smile and there are some nicely concealed anagrams.

  7. Bryan says:

    Many thanks, Uncle Yap, I enjoyed this even though I failed to get SLIMMING and HIGG’S BOSON. Even anticipating that the latter was an anagram didn’t help.

    I now acknowledge that SLIMMING was superbly clued but only after you have kindly provided the necessary enlightenment.

    I don’t think puzzles are as much fun when they are too easy.

    Please more of the same Gordius!

  8. molonglo says:

    Thanks Uncle Yap. I too found it laboured, in 8a, 20a and elsewhere. Like NeilW I took the shameful in 15d as a political comment – like much of post 9/11 the intent may have been OK but … 17a I suppose is topical with what’s happening with CERN now in Geneva.

  9. Ian says:

    Thanks Uncle Yap.

    A decent Gordius I thought. The slang reference to the police as the ‘filth’ was very much in use by the counterculture in the 1960′s and is, I suspect, very rarely used today.

    20ac I agree. “Uncommunicative” is not the best of cd’s for ‘lacking transparency’. It does chime though with the lack of information coming from one of the political parties as to how they are going to fund some of their proposals if they win the general election.

    6dn, 15dn and 19dn were very good.

  10. Dave Ellison says:

    Thanks Uncle Yap. I thought it was an easier (42′) and enjoyable Gordius today.

    I am with the “end of the up line” camp with 22d, which makes it a very respectable clue, in my view.

    6d ggggreat!

  11. Tom Hutton says:

    I don’t like ‘slimming’ very much. Too vague for me. What about ‘shipment’ as an answer? It fits and the possible reference to putting loads on a lighter is about as good as the slimming suggestion. I enjoyed the crossword otherwise, though I thought 20ac was pretty weak. 15dn was excellent both in its construction and its sentiment and I enjoyed 4dn as well.

  12. walruss says:

    Not sure about SLIMMING. It doesn’t really fall into the correct parts of speech.

  13. Mr. Jim says:

    Thanks Uncle Yap.

    I was solving on my own today and didn’t have much time, so didn’t get far. When I had C___A_D for the last word of SECOND IN COMMAND, all I could think about was custard. Lose.

    Also, I should have got HIGGS BOSON (it doesn’t have an apostrophe, by the way).

  14. Berny says:

    For 22D I have UBEND – a play on water loo – water closet

  15. Martin H says:

    A laborious solve, and not very pleasurable.

    Among other gripes: What is ‘same’ doing in 24? In 13 the clue reads as if ‘eccentric’ should be the answer from ‘egocentric’, not the other way round. ‘Chorister’ I think made an attempt at an &lit, and ended up with a very clumsy construction. ‘Uncommunicative’ I guessed quite early, but couldn’t believe it was the answer. Is ‘way to describe it’ supposed to be the anagram indicator for ‘Higgs boson’? And ‘slimming’ – dreadful. I know some people like this sort of stuff – luckily I got it towards the end, or I might have just given the whole thing up. Come to think of it……

  16. Mr. Jim says:

    Re: Martin H #15

    The definition for HIGGS BOSON is “important in theory”. The Higgs Boson is just that – important to the current theory of particle phyiscs, but scientists have never seen one (they hope, tentatively, that the LHC might produce some).

  17. Richard says:

    Thanks, Uncle Yap.

    I appreciated this much more than I thought I would on first glance.

    Ian @9 I think filth is still fairly common slang for police. I agree with you about 20, though.

    I was puzzled by upend at Waterloo, but presumably railway terminii are at the end of the up-line (and conversely the start of the down-line) and are therefore the upend?

    At the risk of being very pedantic, can I question whether the reference in 8dn to ‘the last of 2′ is correct? As 2 is ‘police dog’, surely the LAST of 2 is the letter G. As there are only two words in ‘police dog’ isn’t the word ‘dog’ the LATER rather then the LAST?

  18. beermagnet says:

    At my station, where I take the train to Waterloo, there is a very old sign that says something like
    “Cross to the other side for the Up Train”

  19. Richard says:

    beermagnet @18

    That reminds me of the story of the Reverend Spooner telling an expelled student that he must “leave Oxford immediately by the town drain”.

  20. Ian W. says:

    Uncle Yap,

    I suppose you are partially right that 6dn (SLIMMING) is worthy of Rufus, insofar as it is not very clever or convincing, but it differs from a Rufus clue in that it is not blindingly obvious — in fact, it was the last to go in, rather tentatively as the least inapt of the various words matching the crossing letters.

    Otherwise, a generally satisfying crossword, I thought.

  21. cholecyst says:

    Richard..”You have tasted two worms…”.

    More to the point, can anyone explain 20ac?

  22. liz says:

    Thanks, Uncle Yap. I found this a bit of a slog. Didn’t get 6dn and I’m afraid I didn’t like it when I saw what it was. 20ac was a bit loose for me, too. My favourite clue was 15dn which produced an ‘aha’ moment.

    Did anyone else have difficulty with ‘sidekick’ being the def of ‘second-in-command’?

  23. Martin H says:

    Mr Jim @16 – the definition of ‘Higgs boson’ wasn’t the problem; as you say ‘important in theory’ is quite adequate. I just thought that ‘way to describe it’, as used by Gordius in the clue, apparently as an anagram indicator, wasn’t very good. It seemed to be an attempt to mislead, which is fair enough if it fulfils its supposed purpose in the structure of the clue, but in this case I think it failed to do that, and became simply gratuitous.

  24. Richard says:

    liz @22
    It did cross my mind that a side-kick is more of an assistant than a deputy, and the more I now think about it, one doesn’t think of Robin as Batman’s second in command or Lewis as Morse’s second in command.
    However, I think the clue was OK.

  25. jmac says:

    Thanks for the blog Uncle Yap. However I don’t follow your explanation for 22 down. More likely is the idea of the “up train” ending at Waterloo, as in Websters:

    1.A train going in the direction of the metropolis or the main terminus.

  26. JimboNWUK says:

    I took UNCOMMUNICATIVE as beng a DOUBLE definition not a cryptic one and it does not fit in with either of the two.
    I didn’t care for either “shameful” as a describer for RENDITION nor “filth” as one for the police… is Gordius some kind of left-wing activist from the Moss-side area of Manchester?

  27. Daniel Miller says:

    Higgs Boson came to me in a blinding flash.. the mostpart a straightforward effort but some that held me up. 1 down. Police Dog a tremendous clue .. “The Filth” being a slang term for the police (doesn’t anyone remember “The Sweeney”?)

  28. Richard says:

    JimboNWUK @26
    Given that this is the Guardian crossword, you surely have to expect some left-wing references occasionally?

  29. walruss says:

    ‘Important in theory’ does NOT define HIGGS BOSON!! I am sorry, but compilers in my little top ten can all do much better than that. Not satisfactory!

  30. FieryElephant says:

    Hi there – am pretty new to cryptic crosswords (grand old age of 35!) but I must say I find this website very helpful. Pretty much concentrate on Guardian alone so I might be missing out but I enjoy the personalities of the setters already. Still at the stage where I only get three or four a crossword at the moment.

    Just one comment (being rather cheeky for an amateur I guess) but I think the reference to “extraordinary and shameful” in 15 is a reference to “cruel and unusual punishment” which can be challenged under human rights law – hence reference to rendition.

  31. Daniel Miller says:

    Welcome FE. You have chosen well with The Guardian. Good luck :)

  32. Martin H says:

    walruss – I’ve just realised that ‘Big’s no way to describe it’ goes with ‘important in theory’ to define Higgs boson. That will do for me. And there is no anagram indicator. Better clue than I thought.

  33. John says:

    I found it clunky and laboured and share all the reservations above, plus:
    If 14 dn is an anagram, where’s the anagrind?
    As well as “what’s ‘the same’ doing in 24 ac, what’s “exchange” doing in 26 dn?

  34. cholecyst says:

    FieryElephant . Welcome – on the whole it’s a very friendly site but occasionally people fall off their perches in a heap of feathers. There seems to be a prejudice against Gordius – can’t understand why.

  35. Sil van den Hoek says:

    Just like most of you, we found this crossword ‘harder’ than the usual Gordius, but we didn’t think ‘laboured’ is the right word.
    In fact, we quite enjoyed it.
    Clues like 9ac (POINTED), 6d (SLIMMING) or 17ac (HIGGS BOSON) [yes, even that one - but then my PinC is originally a physicist] rather clever.

    Of course, there are things to quibble over.
    Like John (#33) and maybe others said: where’s the anagrind in 14d (CHORISTER)? Perhaps, the clue as a whole suggests the anagrind?

    And, John, you also question ‘the same’ in 24ac, like Martin H (#15).
    What about this: TRY (go) to get IN IT, but as ‘get’ is not a container indicator, Gordius adds ‘the same’ (= in it).
    Therefore: TRY to get IN IT in it – I think very clever.

    And re your other question about ISOMETRY: an isometry can be (in Maths) a 1-1 mapping from A onto B which preserves distances between points and hence considers A and B being isometrical (let’s say: ‘the same’). So you may e.g. exchange points of the original (A) to get an image (B) that is still considered ‘the same’ (hence in the clue: ‘without change’). Something like that.

    Another ‘the same’ appeared in 4d, which we didn’t understand at first, but now we see that DO is short for ‘ditto’.

    Unless most of you, it was quite clear to us that the construction of our last entry (UPEND) had to be UP + END.
    UP [being 'over'] placed at END [being one's end as in the familiar expression 'meet one's Waterloo'].
    So we completely agree with Dessie (#5), no London trains for us.

    Finally, Martin H (#15), we think there’s nothing wrong with the construction of 13ac. You have to read it as: EGOCENTRIC [Selfish type] which would be [it's literally in the clue!] an ‘oddball’ when ‘go’ would be changed into ‘C’.
    Perfectly alright, and in fact the same device as in 3d (EXTEND).
    EXTEND [Unfold] which would be an anagram [compilation] of ‘next’ when you leave out ‘ed’, so not like in the splendid blog (many thanks Uncle Yap) (next ed)* but more: (next)* when minus ‘ed’.

    I wouldn’t say great crossword, but absolutely not bad either.
    We liked it.

  36. jmac says:

    Hi Sil @ 35,
    I think your reading of 22 down seems slightly strained. “upend” in Chambers is given as “turn upside down”, i.e. turn over. “At Waterloo?” indicates to me that that is where the “up train” (reasonably common usage, especially to commuters)ends. In the Napoleonic sense, “to meet ones Waterloo” implies an element of defeat, not merely an end, and there is no hint of that in the clue. I think with Gordius, the straightforward is generally the most likely.

  37. Sil van den Hoek says:

    jmac (#36), I am more than happy to go with the [commuter's] flow.
    Even if our view was different so far.
    Btw, my version of Chambers spells the word (only) with a hyphen: up-end, although Collins Online doesn’t.

  38. Martin H says:

    Yes, Sil that works for ‘egocentric’. Thanks. It was a (slightly) better crossword than I thought. Your analysis of ‘extend’ is interesting, and it works; so does (next)* with ed out (= around), which is how I read it.

  39. jmac says:

    Hi Sil,

    I recently treated myself to the latest Chambers, my 1970′s edition having fallen apart, and upend is given both with a hyphen and without. Also, this is a chance for me to say how much I enjoy your contributions to the puzzle post mortems.

  40. morpheus says:

    richard @19, yes I think of that rather wonderful collection of spoonerisms every time one comes up in a crossword. I think the full quote goes something like “Sir, you have tasted two whole worms, you have hissed all my mystery lectures and been caught fighting a liar in the quad. You will leave by the next town drain.”

  41. Paul B says:

    ‘Clunky’, did someone say? Well, that’s your view. I’m on the fence of course, though the HIGGS BOSON clue, reproduced below for your added entertainment, might be one example of the clunkiness. If indeed there is any:

    Gosh! Big’s no way to describe it, though it’s important in theory (5,5).

    Anagram of gosh/bigs/no, no anagram indicator, large number of superficial and/ or linking words (let’s guess way+to+describe+it+though), plus an adjectival phrase to define a noun. I assume it’s intended (key word) to be (semi) &lit.

    For my part I didn’t take too kindly to yet another needless illness reference from Gordy, and I would point out that from a technical POV there is no such thing as ‘Cancer Tropic’. Yuk.

  42. Mr Beaver says:

    Gordius is not normally one of my favourite setters, but I thought this was a good one – several really good clues (IMO). 9a a well-concealed anagram and almost &lit, 17a likewise – one could hardly complain of a lack of anagrind – ‘Gosh! Big’s no’ fairly waves an ‘Anagram’ placard in the air!
    I liked 19d as BARIUM is a (chemical) element and also an ‘element’ of barium meal, and in 24a I read ‘the same’ as IN IT being ‘in it’ (in TRY).
    I have to say 14d seemed a bit underhand as ‘utter’ strongly implies a homophone, not an anagram!

  43. Sil van den Hoek says:

    Paul B (#41), if – what I think – you are a colleague setter of Gordius (and maybe therefore calling him ‘Gordy’?), one who is better known as Tees and Neo in the Indy and the FT respectively [btw, setters I like], if you are thát person, your tone of speech could be somewhat more humble, IMHO.

    If you really understand what Higgs Boson means, you probably would have a much more favourable comment on 17ac. Some people today were critical about the anagrind [if there's any] (“way to decribe it”). Well, I have seen worse.
    What about “factory”, not so very long ago?

    Moreover, ‘Cancer?’ is perfectly alright for Tropic as there are two Tropics, one of them being the Tropic of Cancer.
    The question mark says it all.

    It’s very easy to criticise a clue or even a setter, but I don’t like the ‘Yuk’ at the end of your post.

  44. mike says:

    I wasn’t overly excited at coming to the end of this crossword and would agree more with Paul B (#41) than Sil van den Hoek (#43); it wasn’t a good experience.

  45. Daniel Miller says:

    All this discussion on Waterloo and Upend (which I just decided was the only logical answer – getting it from –E-D) makes me think that “going to London is “up” and the “end” is the terminus.. So Gordius might as easily used Euston, KX etc. excepting that we were probably being thrown a line on the Battle of W..

  46. Daniel Miller says:

    Gosh! Big’s no way to describe it, though it’s important in theory (5,5).

    It might be contrived.. but I don’t see the problem once you analyse back from the answer.

    Gosh! Big’s no.. (clearly the apostrophe delineates “Big’s” from “Big is” suggesting an anagram…(we have 10 letters). Way might suggest (one) way to describe/use those letters – hence anagram… and the clincher for me is the statement “Big is no way to describe it” (even) though it’s important (in/as a) theory.. So make of that what you will. It’s an “important theory” (apparently) and it’s an anagram. What’s not to like – even if the UoE isn’t everyone’s CoT (3,2,3).

    We could no doubt play word games with all sorts of words that are difficult to clue. The pleasure comes when the Ah moment arrives and you agree with the setter’s train of thought. I had a go at the Time Jumbo this weekend – considerably easier than anything A. ever throws our way and, I have to say, a number of clues were very hard to fully appreciate. If anyone has attempted it do they remember the (1,4,2,2,4,2,1,4) one.. It sat up straight away as the answer but I looked for a long time to make sense of the clue and just couldn’t work out the anagram… oh well!

  47. Tokyo Colin says:

    The party’s over I know, but I just arrived… Just wanted to add that I missed 2dn Filth = Police even though I read and enjoyed Irvine Welsh’s book of the same name, with a cover picture of a pig in a police helmet no less. Shame on me.

    The rest was mostly clunky, a grind, contrived – all of the above. A couple of good clues saved it from the bin (17ac, 24ac) I still don’t get the rendition/shameful connection.

  48. Paul B says:

    Hopefully I know what a Higgs Boson is, or (perhaps more accurately) is expected to be. Sorry about having an opinion on the clue, rather than – say – launching a personal attack on any setter.

  49. walruss says:

    I would say the Higgs Boson clue is ‘symptomatic of a deeper malaise’, maybe not just in Gordius clues! And so I am standing with the naysayers on this. Too many inaccuracies.

  50. Sil van den Hoek says:

    So, where does this leave us?

    I have looked again at all the above posts and found out that

    - 3 clues were hugely criticed (HIGGS BOSON, CHORISTER, UNCOMMUNICATIVE)
    - 3 clues got comments from one post each (SECOND IN COMMAND = ‘Sidekick’? , ‘Cancer?’ = ‘Tropic’, ‘Last of 2′ = DOG?)
    [5 clues were discussed though there wasn't much wrong with them (TRINITY, POLICE DOG, RENDITION, UPEND, ISOMETRY)]

    18 out of 28 clues were either mentioned as being ‘a good one’ or not mentioned at all.
    IMO, These Statistics point in the direction of this crossword not being bad as a whole.

    There were all kinds of qualifications varying from ‘enjoyable’, ‘decent’ and ‘generally satisfying’ to [many of them, strangely enough, in later posts] ‘laboured’, ‘clunky, a grind, contrived’ and ‘it wasn’t a good experience’.

    Personally, I don’t agree when someone says (#49) ‘too many inaccuracies’ [well, there were perhaps, but too many? what number is acceptable?].
    And Colin’s post (#47) I found rather odd, saying: ‘A couple of good clues saved it from the bin’, one of this couple being HIGGS BOSON ….. From the bin?

    I am sorry if my post (#43) was too direct.
    Paul B, of course, everyone may be critical about clues [in the end we're all different, and sometimes we agree], but between the lines I smelt that I-don’t-like-Gordius sentiment that some visitors of this site regularly show. Forgive me if I am wrong.

    In the end I cannot agree more than with cholecyst (#34) who talks about a possible ‘prejudice against Gordius’.

    IMHO, one has to judge crosswords as a whole, and I don’t understand why some people apparently bin a puzzle after having seen two or three poor clues.
    Of course, some crosswords are better than others, some are more smiling or whatever than others, some have clever themes others don’t – still it’s the process of trying to complete it that matters most to me, preferably with some nice clues or some cleverness. But no one is perfect, nor is hardly any crossword.
    And if eventually it was disappointing, well, then there is always a next day.
    In the end every single setter tries to entertain us.
    I have no problem with disliking a crossword [I do at times just like everyone] but I have with converting that feeling into a kind of aggression towards the setter [in this respect, I clearly remember some sharp discussions here about a year ago - in which, indeed, among others Gordius' puzzles were involved].

    By sending in this post, I don’t want to start a discussion again [should be at another part of this site anyway].
    But hopefully, it provides some Food for Thought [although, to be honest, I don't have too many expectations when it comes to this].

    Finally, coming back on-topic.
    Daniel Miller, great Final Words about HIGGS BOSON and UPEND in your posts #45 and #46!

  51. tupu says:

    15d. Having realised the answer must be rendition, I looked it up in Chambers and then assumed its first gloss ‘surrender’ might explain the ‘shameful’ element.

  52. irm says:

    I am very late to the party which is an indication that I got bogged down, but I am knew to Guardian crosswords.

    Just out of interest did anyone get SWIMMING (6dn)?

  53. irm says:

    Oh, sorry and thanks Uncle Yap

    … now off to A.

  54. Paul B says:

    Yeah well, I don’t know Gordius, so have no opinion on his character. It’s just that some of his stuff has seemed to me (and others, to be fair) to be so astonishingly insensitive as to be deserving of comment. From a technical POV also he’s worth a punt or two, but in this he is by no means alone.

  55. Martin H says:

    24 hours late, but Sil, (or anyone else who might be there): your thoughts about ‘Trinity’ @35 – you may be right that that was Gordius’s intention, but I don’t think it’s as clever as you suggest. The subsidiary part of the clue, without ‘the same’, was already very ungainly: ‘go to get in it’. If he wanted to say ‘IN IT in it’, he should have found a way to do it which sorted out the wording he already had. Adding ‘the same’ made it even worse – ‘go to get in it the same’; it’s a mess. It should be a general principle for setters that however attractive a clueing device is, if you can’t make a well-worded clue with it, give it up and try another approach.

  56. Sil van den Hoek says:

    Martin, I’m still there.
    The difference between your approach and mine, is perhaps the fact that I’m not British.
    I looked at ‘the same’ just very clinical, being a device to copy ‘in it’, which I find from a setter’s point of view (at least) rather original.
    My handicap is (I know) that others can beat me on language/idiom.
    My (English) Partner in Crime was already very critical about whatever ‘go to get in it’ might mean, so I feel – looking from a linguistic angle – I should shut my mouth now.
    As a device I liked it, but perhaps it was the right thing in the wrong place.
    Though I still strongly refuse to use the word ‘mess’ for this crossword as a whole [which you didn't, I know], I do completely agree with your last line.

  57. Martin H says:

    I think we agree, Sil, a good device, but perhaps wasted here. Well spotted all the same!

  58. TRIALNERROR says:

    Just found this in an old copy my wife pinched from the university library. I didn’t think it was so bad. Put “YIELD” for 22D. Think “surrender” and “profit”.

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