Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 24,996 / Gordius

Posted by Gaufrid on April 28th, 2010


Apologies for the belated post, the scheduled blogger has been tied up with work commitments and I didn’t get in until a short while ago to see the email he sent when he realised he wasn’t going to have time to prepare a blog. In the interests of getting this posted as quickly as possible I may have missed some necessary explanations so please ask in a comment if you need further elucidation. I thought this was a better than usual for Gordius and actually enjoyed parts of it.

1 OFFENSIVE  OF FENS (living in Cambridgeshire) I’VE (setter’s)
6 ISLE  ELSI[e] reversed (perhaps girl endlessly rejected)  Edit: thanks Eileen for pointing out the error I made in haste.
10 ENDOW  *(WONDE[r])
11 ERUDITION  RU (sport) in EDITION (issue)
12 CLEANSE  LEANS (inclines) in CE (church)
13 TRAFFIC  *(FACT IF R[egistered])
17 DOUBLE CROSSER  DOUBLE (ringer) CROSSER (angrier)
21 FIESTAS  *(SIT SAFE) – saloon cars made by Ford
22 CHATTER  C (about) HATTER (a mad character)
24 COTTON GIN  COTTON (old golfer) GIN (trap) – Sir Henry Thomas Cotton
25 ICING  [not]ICING – like action is the opposite of inaction or well is the opposite of unwell
26 TIRE  [en]TIRE (complete with lack of space)
27 EXTENUATE  EX (former) TEN (residence of PM) U (posh) *(TEA)

2 FUDGE  *(DUG) in FE (iron) – ‘dugout’ needs to be split into its component parts before parsing this clue
3 NO-WIN SITUATION  NOW (presently) IN SITUATION (having a job)
4 ICEBERG I C (say see) GREBE (diver) reversed
7 SPITFIRES  *(FIT) in SPIRES – both ‘outfit’ and ‘inspires’ need to be split into their component parts in order to parse this clue
8 EUNICE  d&cd – Eunice and Timothy are biblical characters and UKIP do not believe that the EU [is] NICE
15 RED SETTER  RED (left) SETTER (me)
16 PROROGUE  PRO (for) ROGUE (rascal)
18 LASAGNE   SAG (drop) in WAY (lane)
19 COCONUT  NO CO (firm) reversed in CUT (reduction)
23 TAIGA  homophone of ‘tiger’ (cat)

27 Responses to “Guardian 24,996 / Gordius”

  1. muck says:

    Thanks for the blog Gaufrid.
    Could be the first time I got to comment first.
    Good puzzle, but 9dn got the better of me.
    Shouldn’t have, the length of time I’ve been in computers!

  2. Eileen says:

    Thanks for stepping in, Gaufrid, especially after already blogging the Cinephile.

    I, too, enjoyed this more than the usual Gordius. 14 and 15ac made me smile.

    I’m sure it was a slip of the finger in your haste but in 6ac, ‘perhaps’ is part of the definition.

  3. Gaufrid says:

    Hi Eileen
    Thanks for correcting me re 6ac. That is how I parsed the clue when solving early this morning but, as you indicate, I was in a rush when preparing the post and didn’t re-read the clue carefully enough.

  4. Bryan says:

    Many thanks, Gaufrid, I really enjoyed this.

    I opted for EUNICE (8d) without knowing who she or Tim were.

    I was quite sure that 23d was KATYN:

    Until the intersecting letters proved otherwise.

    I’d never heard of TAIGA previously.

  5. muck says:

    Just realised that I failed with 9dn BINARY NOTATION because I had EDUCATION (which I didn’t understand and is obviously wrong) instead of ERUDITION at 11ac!

  6. rrc says:

    This was one of the fastest crosswords I have completed, although I have to admit some answers fell into place without really understanding the clue. Thanks for the blog which has cleared a range of issues up. I thought eunice was a superb answer I smiled at morning prayer, three straight forward crosswords in a row is getting me a little worried.

  7. liz says:

    Thanks for stepping in Gaufrid! This one had more smiles that I usually find in a Gordius and some good surfaces. My favourite was the delightfully woebegone 15dn.

  8. Eileen says:

    Yes, of course, I meant 15dn, not ac, too, Liz – and I love the word ‘woebegone’! :-)

  9. tupu says:

    Thanks Gaufrid. Re 24ac. I was surprised on following up the word ‘gin’ to find that, acc. to COD, and contrary to my asssumption, ‘gin’ as ‘trap’ and ‘gin’ as ‘machine’ for separating cotton seeds’ are not simply homonyms but appear to be the same word derived from ME and OF for ‘engine’.

  10. Daniel Miller says:

    All straightforward but the Spitfires clue was beautifully formed. Top marks!

  11. Kathryn's Dad says:

    Enjoyed this one. Liked COCONUT and ICING in particular.

  12. Ian says:

    Well done Gaufrid.

    Definitely a challenging crossword and unlike Daniel anything but straightforward. I struggled with 4 clues and eventually failed with one(23dn).

  13. William says:

    Top blog, Gaufrid, impressed you did it in such short order.

    Loved BINARY NOTATION because I work in it, and it opened the door to the rest of the puzzle.

    Never heard of the old golfer, sadly.

  14. Aoxomoxoa says:


    I also had KATYN (23d) for ages, pretty much the first one I wrote in.

  15. Another Andrew says:

    My winning run came to an end today with three unsolved, including 9dn which I’m annoyed about as I’m a computer programmer. Also didn’t get 7dn or 8dn, both of which I really like having seen the answers. Of the others, 25ac was my favorite.

    I thought the whole puzzle was very entertaining and ideal for my level. I haven’t been doing them long enough to have had an opinion of Gordius but he(?) gets the thumbs-up from me.

  16. Dave Ellison says:

    Nice to hear praise for Gordius for a change.

    I thought most of it straightforward, but four clues (11a – thought it was an anagram of LREQUIRED for a long time; 6ac, for which I was looking for a man’s name; 7d – great clue; and 8d – EUNUCH would also have fitted in, but would not fit the clue) in the top right took me as long as the remainder of the Xword.

  17. Daniel Miller says:

    Maybe it was a bit harder – maybe I’ve been in the zone lately – I think this blog has definitely heightened my understanding of cracking the Guardian on a daily basis (even tried and completed Saturday’s – something I rarely attempt and even less succeed) – getting closer to the mindset and foibles of the setters – some of which you often refer to in the preamble so for that I think my understanding has grown perhaps 50% in the past 2 months – instead of isolated attempts I have the fallback of this blog to seek those answers which have eluded me and the knowledge to appreciate the methodology. It’s a great help to me, and I’m sure from the comments, to others.

    Plus I hadn’t appreciated that there are more hidden themes to the daily crossword (excepting where it’s obvious or frequently shown (in the multiple cross-references in the clues).

  18. Martin H says:

    An absorbing and wittily clued puzzle which I found quite challenging. ICING was lovely. Not knowing Timothy or his mum, and having all the crossing letters, I spent some time trying to fit 8d to the enticingly plausible idea that UKIP were being set up as political eunuchs, but finally the penny dropped on a fine clue.

    One plea: 15d was a nice clue, but can we have a moratorium on I/me/_(insert name) = setter = dog? It’s been done to death. RIP.

  19. xanthomam says:

    Hello folks,

    There is a word which seems,when dealing with some Guardian setters, to be beyond the reach of commentators. That word is BORING. At this point I had intended to list the soporific list, but, since I decided to start with 15 down RED SETTER, I’ve lost the will to carry…………….

  20. FumbleFingers says:

    Can’t agree with xanthomam there. I think it’s a good puzzle. Maybe not the most challenging, but certainly not boring.

    I had to google “Russian forests” for TAIGA, and while I was there I checked EUNICE was indeed Timothy’s mother. The rest I found do-able given a bit of time, but not trivial. Just the way I like it.

    I particularly like the way Gordius ignores word divisions in the surface reading of clues for ENDOW and SPITFIRES, for example.

  21. FumbleFingers says:

    liz / Eileen @7/8

    Lawks! For over forty years I’ve cherished “woebegotten”, only to discover through you two (plus OED) that it’s just an illusory chimera.

    I shall now cherish “woebegone” as the rightful occupant of that lexicographic niche. For as long, God willing!

  22. liz says:

    Fumblefingers — thanks for that! My elderly spaniel often looks woebegone, which is why I found the clue so funny :-) (Although he is probably thinking that I left him…

  23. Eileen says:

    Hi FumbleFingers and liz

    You’ve got me started now! It occurred to me that it’s a funny word, because, when you split it up, it appears to mean the opposite of what it does mean – as in the song we used to sing at school, ‘Begone, dull care!’.

    However, SOED tells me that it comes from Old / Middle English, ‘bego’ [past participle ‘begone’] ‘to beset, overrun’, hence, ‘me is woe begone': ‘woe has beset me’.

    [I also like the word because it reminds me of Garrison Keillor’s lovely radio readings of his ‘Lake Wobegon Days’.]

  24. liz says:

    HI Eileen,

    We used to sing Begone, Dull Care at school in Canada too! (‘I prithee begone from me…’)

    Funnily enough, I did check that this was the word I wanted before I posted because, as you say, it does seem to indicate the reverse of what it actually means.

  25. Macca says:

    Being unfamiliar with Cambridgeshire, can someone explain 1ac to me please ?

    We have Ford Fiestas in Oz but I don’t think it’s quite mainstream enough to be clued simply as ‘saloons’ – that was the only real disappointment in a better than usual Gordius.

  26. Sil van den Hoek says:

    Macca, I think you’re right about 1ac (OF FENS[IVE]) – a bit clumsy.
    The area around Cambridge (at least to the North) is largely what they call ‘fenland’ (the Fens). So, when you are living in Cambridgeshire, you are ‘from the Fens’ [which Gordius seems to have reduced to ‘of Fens’].
    And just like you, I wasn’t that happy with ‘saloons’ for FIESTAS.
    Even so, a very good – certainly not boring – Gordius, who nowadays seems to produce crosswords that are much better than, say, a year ago.
    My Clue of the Day was probably 7d’s SPITFIRES.

  27. Neil says:

    I LIKE Gordius.
    Ah, Gordius, I notice, thinking: I’ll solve this but will have to think. And so it was, again.
    As far as I could see, everything here worked just fine, except TAIGA. I’ve learned to look out for these, and translate in my head for these curious, all-too-frequent, examples of such an oddly peculiar minority dialect offering a non-homophone. (“Received Pronunciation” is very odd indeed. Try writing some of it phonetically, as a dialect, which it is).
    I think the majority of us who CAN be bothered to pronounce our Rs should continue to protest. Eileen, please don’t give up on it when the presumption that it is ‘correct’ is so rude, narrow and ignorant.
    I may have mentioned before that the Western Morning News, covering England’s South West peninsula, proclaims in its banner to be “the voice of the westcountry”, yet their (supposedly cryptic) crossword constantly includes these minority-dialect, supposed homophones. I don’t know if the WMN has reformed its policy as it’s a crap puzzle anyway and I no longer bother with it.

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