Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 25,007 / Rover

Posted by Gaufrid on May 11th, 2010


Uncle Yap is away enjoying himself so I have the opportunity to cover a Guardian puzzle at leisure, rather than rushing at the last minute when someone fails to turn up. Unfortunately there was not much for me to get my teeth into in this puzzle which was very straightforward, even bordering on simple in places.

There were a number of very obvious charades and anagrams which made for an easy solve. In fact some of the anagrams were too obvious, such as 5dn which basically involved rearranging three letters and inserting them into a given word and 6dn which simply required moving a letter from the end of a word to the beginning, though the definition might have been unfamiliar to some. Initially I was loath to enter the obvious answer to 15dn because a variant of this had already been used as the wordplay in 1dn but when the start of the entry was S?Y there was no other possibility.

9 LUNCHTIME  L[a]UNCH (start without a) TIME (magazine)
10 THETA  THE TA (child’s thank-you)
12 RAILING  [dine]R AILING (sick)
13 ENEMY  *(YEMEN) – in the words of W B Yeats:
     “The innocent and the beautiful
      Have no enemy but time”
14 TURNPIKES  TURN (convert) PIKES (weapons)
21 SKIER  cd – a mogul is a mound of hard snow forming an obstacle on a ski slope.
22 AGONISE  *(GOES IN A) – as in ‘rack ones brains’.
23 HYDRANT  cd – ref. a ‘water main’.
25 SEVENTEEN  EVENT (match, say) in SEEN

1 BLUE-PENCIL  BLUE (sky) PENCIL (writer)
2 SNORTERS  dd – I can find no indication in the usual references for a ‘snorter’ being specifically a ‘horse’. The nearest definition is in Collins which has “a person or animal that snorts” so maybe the clue should have read ‘horses perhaps’.
3 SHANDY  cd – a reference to ‘The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman’, a novel by Laurence Sterne.
4 FIRS  FIR[m]S (firm’s hacking out a million)
6 STRIPPER  *(TRIPPERS) – I would have liked ‘excited’ to have been ‘head over heels,’ rather than an anagram indicator, to indicate moving the ‘s’ of ‘stripper’ to the end to give ‘trippers’ (hence the ‘this ecdysiast’ rather than simply ‘ecdysiast’ in the clue) but the definitions of ‘head over heels’ all indicate turning over completely as in a somersault so this would give a complete reversal of the word rather than moving a single letter.
7 MEDICK  homophone of ‘medic’ (doctor)
8 TANG  dd
14 TRICOTEUSE  *(TO SECURE IT) – “(literally, a woman who knits) in the French Revolution, one of the women who enthusiastically attended public meetings and executions, knitting as they sat” (Chambers).
15 SKYWRITING  d&cd – I assume the ‘exhausted fliers’ is referring to the smoke discharged by a plane when undertaking this activity.
17 EXAMINER  EX (former) *(MARINE)
20 BLOODY  dd – a reference to the cocktail consisting of vodka, tomato juice and seasoning.
21 SIDING  cd – ‘line’ as in railway track.
22 ARCH  hidden in ‘mARCHers’
23 HOVE  HOVE[l] (unfinished shanty) – that place near Brighton.

38 Responses to “Guardian 25,007 / Rover”

  1. Ian says:

    Cheers Gaufrid.

    My quickest solve of the year so far at 19′

    The odd clue here and there were barely cryptic.

    Only ‘S(event)een’ as a cardinal number cuased a minor delay.

  2. IanN14 says:

    Oh. Dear.
    Now he’s not even trying.
    I’ve given up complaining about clues on here because it often comes across as pedantry, but…
    5d. reminded me of Lisa Simpson, when competing with a clever friend to find anagrams, replied to her friend’s “Genuine Class” for Alec Guinness with “erm… Jeremy’s Iron?”
    Likewise 6d.
    Errands aren’t always shopping, are they?
    And don’t get me started on 12ac.
    Over to you, Bryan…

  3. Ponticello says:

    Surely unworthy of the Guardian?

  4. Bryan says:

    Many thanks, Gaufrid, I enjoyed this even though I missed out on 4 in the SE corner.

    I had thought of 21a SKIER but couldn’t work it out.

    To my shame, I failed to twig 23d HOVE even though I live here!

    I find Rover challenging because I now have to keep a wary eye for misspelt word(s). Remember CESNA in #24,988? Could we ever forget!

  5. Gaufrid says:

    Hi IanN14
    “Errands aren’t always shopping, are they?”

    Under ‘errand’ in Chambers there is “(in pl) shopping (dialect)”.

  6. IanN14 says:

    Oh, sorry Gaufrid.
    I stand corrected.
    But looking at 5d. again…
    What does it mean? What is “it”?
    And what “terrors” are the “terrorists” destroying?

  7. Bryan says:

    Ian @6

    I suggest that ‘destroy’ is the anagrind.

  8. IanN14 says:

    Yes, Bryan,
    But I’m just talking about the surface reading.

  9. Kathryn's Dad says:

    I think it was one of the Roux brothers who described Delia Smith’s recipes as ‘cooking in the missionary position.’ This may have been the crossword equivalent. Or perhaps that’s too kind … at least the missionary position has some opportunity for pleasure.

  10. Eileen says:

    … and, irritating though she can be, Delia’s recipes do work! :-)

  11. Rishi says:

    Re the clue 5d They destroy its terrors (10)

    Here ‘destroy’ appears to do double duty as part of the definition for word required and as anagram indicator. Even accepting the ‘double duty’ device, the clue is not really satisfying.
    As for surface reading, ‘terrors’ can mean ‘persons causing dread’ and conceivably these can be destroyed. Even then, the clue is not satisying.
    Above all, the anagram fodder ‘its terrors’ for TERRORISTS is so unimaginative.
    I am used to this kind of terribly unsatisfying clues in crosswords in local papers but to see it in a crossword in a UK newspaper makes me wonder what the crossword world is coming to.

  12. Andrew says:

    The maxim “if you have nothing good to say, say nothing” applies to me here, but the “sky-writing” duplication was just bizarre, though I actually quite liked the clue for 1dn.

  13. IanN14 says:

    Yeah, what Rishi said.
    It seems it’s trying to be an &lit, but it’s just not.
    And another thing, if “they” are destroying “its” (whatever “it” is) “terrors”, surely “they” are not terrorists, but the opposite?

  14. Rishi says:

    IanN14 #13

    You said it!

  15. tupu says:

    A ‘parson’s’ egg for me. As often happens with ‘easy’ pieces, I found myself temporarily stuck on a few clues. 6d ‘ecdysiast’ is outside my vocab and I could scarcely believe the simplicity of ‘stripper’ until I checked it. Again ‘moguls’ (in skiing) is not a term I’m used to but ‘skier’ had to be the answer. 25 (esp), 15, and 22 were quite nicely defined. I nearly misspelled ‘tricoteuse’ until I checked it. Overall, I’m surprised at the unremitting harshness of some comments.

  16. scarpia says:

    Fairly ordinary stuff really.No real quibbles but also nothing to get really excited about.
    Did learn something though – blue-pencil,with a hyphen,is a verb and without the hyphen,the more familiar noun.

  17. Bill Taylor says:

    Very disappointing. In 10a, is it just a child who says “ta?” Surely not. And in 2d, a quick drink isn’t a quick drink a “snort,” rather than a “snorter?”

  18. Gaufrid says:

    Hi Bill
    “And in 2d, a quick drink isn’t a quick drink a “snort,” rather than a “snorter?””

    Yes and no! Under ‘snort’ Chambers has “a quick drink (informal)” whereas Collins gives ‘snorter’ as being “(slang) a short drink, esp an alcoholic one”.

    I don’t remember hearing either used in conversation, though ‘a quick snifter’ has been quite common.

  19. crikey says:

    Agree with Ian14’s comments above, as well as Bill’s comment about “ta” at 17.

    I stopped once I’d put in TERRORISTS and STRIPPER – spectacularly poor clues. As Ian14 says, the surface for 5 is nonsensical at best!

    Having said that, unlike many of you I found a lot of this to be quite difficult – just not remotely satisfying on the whole.

  20. Paul (not Paul) says:

    My instinctive contrariness usually makes me want to wade in on Rover’s behalf when he receives his customary kicking. However, this was a particularly weak effort. There were some good clues though: –

    I liked Turnpikes and Labradors but 3d to 6d were really to trivial for words.

  21. liz says:

    Thanks, Gaufrid. Computer problems have kept me away from the site for a few days and this wasn’t the best puzzle to come back to! I just couldn’t believe 5dn…

    On a more positive note, I really enjoyed the Rufus yesterday and Eileen’s blog :-)

  22. Bill Taylor says:

    To try to put 5d in the best possible light, it kept me guessing for a while because I didn’t believe it could be what it was.

  23. Tokyo Colin says:

    My, this is a tough crowd to please! Some of the clues were uninspired, “but parts of it were excellent”. It is free to download and kept me diverted from my work for 20 minutes or so while eating lunch. I can’t complain. In fact I particularly enjoyed 1dn and 21 dn and it is individual clues that stay with me rather than whole puzzles. Sure, I am looking forward to the next Paul or Araucaria but this was better than a day without crosswords.

  24. Daniel Miller says:

    Not my cup of tea I’m afraid. Some very ordinary clues and, equally, some bizarre ones!

    A very strange challenge!

  25. walruss says:

    For which read ‘inconsistent’! There are some howlers here I feel, with the terrorists clue summing up how bad things can get in Guardian puzzles. When solving I couldn’t bring myself to write that answer in, sitting there thinking ‘it CAN’T be!’. I probably am one of the too harsh brigade, but really.

  26. Brian Harris says:

    @IanN14 “5d. reminded me of Lisa Simpson, when competing with a clever friend to find anagrams, replied to her friend’s “Genuine Class” for Alec Guinness with “erm… Jeremy’s Iron?”

    Brilliant. That’s made my day.

    5dn is really quite a poor clue, much as it pains me to criticise any setter. Perhaps Rover was hoping to double-bluff us into thinking it must be more complex. Oh well, caused a laugh here when we realised it really was that simple.

  27. Martin H says:

    22ac was good, 2d and 3d were awful, and that 5d and 6d got past the editor is just unbelievable.

  28. Sil van den Hoek says:

    And Martin H, there’s one in-between 2d/3d and 5d/6d that’s also pretty awful (FIRS) – just ‘Firm s’ minus the ‘m’.
    And the ERRANDS anagram is (almost) equally poor as, say, STRIPPER.
    We were quite pleased to fill in EXAMINER (17d), because this clue had something of a real construction.

    Just like Bryan, we have to admit that we got stuck in the SE, although I don’t think that that means it was a challenging crossword.
    Have to think of Monty Python, ‘Nudge nudge, say no more, say no more’.

    Clue of the Day, of course: 5d (TERRORISTS).
    [so unique, one will never see a clue like that anymore]

  29. Bill Taylor says:

    It was, of course, Rover who misspelled Cessna in his April 19 cryptic.

  30. Eileen says:

    This morning, I adopted Andrew’s #12 ‘nil nisi bonum’ approach on this [ but couldn’t resist responding [#10] to K’s D’s naughty comment! :-)]

    I’d already tried hard to see some subtle significance in the ‘bizarre sky-writing duplication’, largely because of the symmetry of the answers in the grid – and failed.

    I also tried to find some kind of justification of SNORTERS, re snorting heroin [horse] but, again, unlike Delia’s recipes …

    And, apart from the undefined ‘it’ in 5dn, what is the ‘it’ that the tricoteuse is furiously securing?

    I did try – but this puzzle has done nothing to push Rover up my ladder of favourites. :-(

  31. Davy says:

    I agree with the previous comments and find that Rover’s clues can be classified as simplistic, poorly constructed or just vague. Having said that, there were one or two reasonable clues such as 22a and 25a but these don’t make up for the shocking clues such as 10a, 11a, 19a, 21a and especially 15d.

    All in all, a very poor effort. From memory, Rover’s last puzzle was much better than this.

  32. D and G says:

    Disappointing day for politics, disappointing day for crosswords. Didn’t realise tang was a smell, but apart from that, sky writing was weak and terrorists lazy.

    Let’s hope once the government are slashing cuts left right and centre it doesn’t affect the quality of the guardian crossword further, which might remain the only employment we have!

  33. tupu says:

    Hi Eileen. I’m puzzled by your comment re the ‘it’ in tricoteuse. I Had thought that ‘furiously’ signalled the anagram, but perhaps I’ve missed something. Also, if one needs an ‘it’ there is perhaps the ‘knitting table’ also mentioned in Chambers. :)
    I didn’t think much of this puzzle, but I can’t fathom the general anger I sense today.

  34. eimi says:

    I won’t comment on the crossword, but if Gaufrid’s not around, I’d like to share D and G’s despair @32. Cameron Lite welcomes our comments, it seems:

    Nick Clegg, Leader of the Liberal Democrats wants to hear your views and answer your questions. If you have something you would like to write to Nick about as Leader of the Liberal Democrats, please contact him via the address or email form below:

    Write: House of Commons, London, SW1A 0AA

    Phone: 0207 219 2371

    Fax: 0207 219 0054

  35. Gaufrid says:

    Hi eimi

    I am around and thought about moving your comment to a more suitable location (Tartarus). Please let’s keep this forum free from comments and discussion about politics, religion and football, apart from in the chat room.

  36. FumbleFingers says:

    Quite so, Gaufrid.

    Bill Taylor @17 – my housemate (older than me, but not exactly ‘elderly’) assures me that the reason he would never say TA is because he considers it a childish form (somewhat in the same category as, say, TUMMY or BOTTY).

    But overall I too thought this was a pretty dismal offering, though like several others I couldn’t complete the SE corner. It started well (I really liked BLUEPENCIL, and LUNCHTIME seemed good to me), but things just went downhill after that. Maybe I couldn’t complete the last corner because my heart wasn’t really in it.

  37. Another Andrew says:

    I can only agree with the comments above. I had assumed 8d had to be TANG from the letters but didn’t see what it had to do with seaweed (or smell, for that matter). Then, later in the afternoon, I was reading “Very Good, Jeeves” and Bertie refers to the tang of the sea breeze, which is close enough for me.

  38. IanP says:

    This crossword was a true pleasure. A setter at the height of his powers, pitching his considerable wit against the solver. How many years of experience, and how many hours of honest toil went into what, frankly, could reasonably be classed a “work of art”?

    Particularly impressive, I felt, were the mind-bendingly clever 5d and 6d, surely the apogee of the clue-writer’s craft. How Rover must have batted the various clue types around in his head for these two before settling on the stunning and complex method he did.

    Truly a joy to behold. I feel privileged to have been allowed to solve this one.

    Yes. I know. It’s the lowest form of wit. But every now and then doesn’t hurt.

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