Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 25,013 – Gordius

Posted by Uncle Yap on May 18th, 2010

Uncle Yap.

A fair-to-middling offering from Gordius with the expected hard-boiled eggs here and there; but nothing that can give serious indigestion. There are, however, a few flashes of brilliance like 4Down which would have done Paul proud … indeed my clue of the day

1 COPRA Ins of P (piano, soft) in CORA (girl)
4 WILLIAMS Cha of WILL (determination) + *(AIMS) Probably a reference to Rowan Douglas Williams, the current Archbishop of Canterbury. I find the use of “prelate” as fair as defining Abraham Lincoln as “American”
8 MARCHING ORDERS A most delightful array of parade ground commands
10 ADRENALS A + *(slander)
11,17 MANTELPIECE An excellent and tichy clue featuring  Hilary Mary Mantel CBE (born 6 July 1952), an English novelist, short story writer and critic
12 RADIATORS *(tardis or a)
15 ISAAC ISA (Individual Savings Account, investments) AC (account)
18 TRUNK CALL cd from an old schoolboy’s joke probably; this is now termed national call. In Malaysia, we would call it out-station call
19 EMMETS Ins of MET (encountered) in EMS (Bad Ems, a German town in Rhineland-Palatinate, until 1913 named Ems)
21 RHEOSTAT *(hearts to)
24 INSURMOUNTABLE *(Amount blue rins)
25 RECKONED Thanks to Sidey, RECK (sounds like wreck) + ONE D (first letter of Down)
26 CHESS Cha of CHE (revolutionary) SS (ship from SteamShip of old)

1 COME A CROPPER Ins of E (I wondered what was the connection with 90 degrees until TimR came to my rescue and asked me to look at a compass and, of course, East is at 90 degrees) in COMA (unconscious state) CROPPER (army hairdresser)
2 PARTRIDGE Neat clue of a cartridge having first letter changed
3 ASHEN AS (like) HEN (female of the specie)
4 WINKLE OUT W (with) Inkle out (unmask) and of course winkle is a slang word for the male member, which a flasher would expose. In case you do not know, a flasher is a person, usually male, in the habit of indecently exposing himself in public.
5 LEON Trotsky, rev of NOEL (Christmas)
6 INDIAN INK Somehow, this cd failed to excite me
7 MERIT ha
9 BLOCK LETTERS Cha of BLOCK (delay) LETTERS (mail)
13 AWESTRUCK Ins of WE in AS + TRUCK (vehicle)
14 SLUSH FUND I suppose we can call this a cd after that yuckky stuff that accompanies a thaw after a snowfall
16 ADAPTABLE Cha of A DAP (gym shoe) TABLE (board) First time I see DAP, which, in Malaysia, would be the Democratic Action Party, an opposition political party
20 MONTE MONET with the last two letters interchanged to give a Spanish-American gambling card game.
22 OPTIC (C) OPTIC, Christian descendant of the ancient Egyptians. A device attached to an inverted bottle for measuring alcoholic liquid dispensed.
23 OMEN Most probably *(one M)

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

34 Responses to “Guardian 25,013 – Gordius”

  1. TimR says:

    Thanks Uncle Yap for prompt blog as ever!! I agree – I had not looked who the author was but when I saw 4 dn felt it must be Paul!! In 1 dn, E(ast) is the bearing of 90 degrees.

  2. sidey says:

    25a is sounds like wreck = reck + [1] one d[own]

  3. Bryan says:

    Many thanks, Uncle Yap, but 11a, 12a defeated me.

    I’d never heard of the painfully obscure HILARY MANTEL (Has anyone?) and I hope and trust that I never will again. I had thought of MANTLE but that only confused me. Otherwise perfectly straightforward.

    Why do some setters spoil otherwise excellent puzzles by introducing 24a clues?

    I propose a collective slap on the wrists for Gordy.

    Here’s mine: SLAP!

  4. Berny says:

    Some like the occasional clue that is not ‘insurmountable’

    Here’s a pat on the back for Gordius

  5. greyfox says:

    Not sure I’d agree that the 2009 winner of the Booker Prize could be called ‘painfully obscure':

  6. Ian says:

    Thanks to both Uncle Yap for the blog & to Gordius for a very pleasant crossword this morning.

    Testing in parts. Even though I live in the South-west, it took longer than it should to crack 19ac (‘Emmets’). Here in Devon, they’re known as ‘Grockles’.

    ‘Winkle Out’ a fine piece of drollery. Bryan, I can’t believe that many people would describe Hilary Mantel as ‘painfully obscure’. She’s the toast of the literary world, especially so since the publication of her last novel ‘Wolf Hall’ scooped the 2009 Man Booker prize.


  7. Richard says:

    Thanks for the blog, Uncle Yap.

    I think the Mantel clue is forgiveable – but only just!
    I was misdirected by “dishing out” in 22 as I would never think of an optic as something which dishes out. Similarly, I didn’t think of chess in 26 as a pursuit.
    I’ve never heard of emmets as Cornish for visitors, and like you I was unimpressed by 6.

    These apart there seemed to be many easy anagrams and other easy solutions.

  8. tupu says:

    Thanks Uncle Yap An enjoyable puzzle.
    4d very nice but slightly spoiled for me by dictionary pursuit of the spelling and possible meanings of ‘wheedle’ and then seeing ‘winkle’ in the entry. Incidentally I simply thought it was a duble entendre rather than w + inkle?
    I got 5d but failed to recognise Trotsky in a senior moment.
    Had some difficulty with ‘dap’ and ‘emmets’ which I had to check though answers were pretty clear.
    Liked 25a, 2d, 4d, 7d (simple but initially misleading) and 14d (clever).

    Enjoyed 25a,

  9. tupu says:

    sorry re repeat of liked 25a

  10. scarpia says:

    Thanks Uncle Yap.

    I thought this a very good puzzle – with the exception of 6 down!
    4 down reads o.k. to me as a cryptic/double definition,I don’t think ‘inkle’ is really a masking tape.
    There again Gordius can be a bit loose in his clueing sometimes!

  11. scarpia says:


    Crossed in the post!

  12. tupu says:

    scarpia @11
    :) Thanks. Like a cheque that’s only said to be!

  13. Colin says:

    Many thanks Uncle Yap. DAP meant Karpal Singh’s party to me too! Equally unaware of Emmets but neither was difficult to solve.

    Odd choice of definition for Optic in 22dn.

    23dn was clever and deserves a full explanation. (one M)* = Omen = Zero men, i.e. none.

  14. Bill Taylor says:

    Fair-to-middling at best though, yes, 4d was excellent; very witty. But others were far less satisfactory. To pick out three:

    26a: Revolutionary/che shows up in clues these days almost as much as men/OR

    11/17a: I’m well aware of Hilary Mantel but I thought this was an unreasonable stretch.

    20d reads as if the first and last letters need to be transposed not the last two.

    This was one of those puzzles which, apart from the sudden flash — so to speak — of 4d was not much fun at all.

  15. Daniel Miller says:

    Surely Emmets refers to Ants in your Ice Cream cornet – Cornish is another word for Ice cream in a cornet isn’t it?

    I enjoyed this – not too tricky, worked Mantel Piece out (but actually had visions of Sir Edmund on top of Everest) and Isaac was a clever clue…amongst others.

  16. mike04 says:

    Re 23dn OMEN. This could also be the reverse of NEMO, ‘no man’ or ‘nobody’.

  17. tupu says:

    Just been checking mantel/mantle. Like Bryan I had been tempted by the second. I then felt vaguely guilty for being so. OED and Chambers ignore the possibility of ‘mantlepiece’ (and of course it won’t do here) but wiktionary treats them as alternatives and Concise OD does the same in general but only offers ‘mantelpiece’. They are clearly derived from the same L. root ‘mantellum’. Google provides lots of ‘mantlepieces’. All in all an odd example of qirky English spelling and for no good reason as far as I can tell, except perhaps for giving people something to feel good or bad about!

  18. Kathryn's Dad says:

    As an improving solver, I’ll add to Berny’s pat on the back at no 4 and say thanks to Gordius for what I thought was a pretty sound puzzle, which I enjoyed.

    Gym shoe will divide British-based solvers, I think. DAP, certainly; but round these parts, PUMPS; and PLIMSOLLS is another one, but I don’t know if that’s regional or generally recognised. Our contributors from the outreaches of the UK will no doubt let us know.

  19. bertandjoyce says:

    Like many others, 4D brought a smile to our lunchtime solve.

    I haven’t heard ‘dap’ since my childhood days in Bristol. I used it once when I moved north to go to college in Nottinghamshire (well, anything north of Birmingham was north in the those days!) but never again. No-one had a clue what I was talking about.

  20. stiofain says:

    I thought this was much better than the usual Gordian fare. I have never heard of dap in Belfast they are gutties.

  21. Guernican says:

    Oooh, that’s frustrating.

    I had “Tackle Out” for 4 down. Light dawns over empty head… sigh.

  22. J&C says:

    Sorry to be dense – but still don’t get Indian Ink – though did put it in.

  23. Bill Taylor says:

    J&C @22, Indian ink (more properly India ink, though Indian is common) has a very high carbon content in the form of soot, or lamp-black. As Uncle Yap says, though, not a great clue.

  24. sidey says:

    “more properly India ink”

    Indian ink is the older, the cousins only say India to stop confusion with the native population.

  25. Bill Taylor says:

    It ain’t necessarily so. Googling “Indian ink” produces 429,000 responses. “India ink” gives 673,000. Anyway, they’re both misnomers. The stuff originated in China.

  26. Sil van den Hoek says:

    Believe it or not, 4d was for us the last one to go, um, in.
    I don’t want an explanation for the second part of the clue [ :)], but the posts above and Uncle Yap’s splendid blog didn’t fully unravel the first part of it. Is it ‘winkle out’ or ‘w+inkle out’? I know what ‘winkle out’ means [and ‘inkle’ (a noun, not a verb?)], but why ‘with difficulty unmask’?

    Another one we didn’t understand was OMEN (23d), but thanks to Colin (#13) we know it now. Agree, very clever.
    And only after reading the blog we saw that E (in 1d) stood for ‘East’, rather nice.

    Less convinced we were by 20d (MONTE).
    No problem finding the answer, and getting the construction.
    But my PinC had mixed feelings with ‘swaps ends’ for swapping the last two letters.
    For her ‘ends’ represents the first and the last letter, and I must say, de facto [obscure, isn’t it?] I think she’s right.

    We agree with Colin (again!, #13) re the definition in 22d:
    ‘for dishing out the hard stuff’ describing a noun, well, so-so.

    Sometimes I think, setters shouldn’t try cryptic definitions, unless they are really good at it (like Rufus). INDIAN INK (6d), MARCHING ORDERS (8ac) and TRUNK CALL (18ac) were just very poor.
    We decided to call them from now on Craptic Definitions.

    But to be fair to Gordius, there were nice things as well.
    We thought the ‘1 down’ in 25ac was great [it misled my PinC!], as was 11,17ac (MANTEL PIECE). Didn’t know this spelling of ‘Mantel’, but it’s OK, of course.
    [I got this clue very quickly, thinking of that great Clifford T Ward album (with the same name, but LE) from the seventies – just recently released on cd for the first time].

    However, all in all, we found it a bit laborous.
    In his previous crosswords Gordius was on the way up again, but this one lacked sparkle – that is, for us.

    Whatever’s next, surely nót the Crossword of the Week.

  27. Derek Lazenby says:

    Re the the suggestion that DAP may be regional, it never made it to Yorkshire when I was of an age to go to such places as gyms. As suggested, pumps or plimsolls were the words.

    Trunk call? School boy joke? Not sure how that comment was meant. There were certainly school boy jokes, but the term itself was not.

  28. muck says:

    Thanks for the blog Uncle Yap.
    I enjoyed the puzzle but only just now got round to checking out 15sqd.
    As always it’s a pleasure to have other solvers’ thoughts.

  29. Carrots says:

    Ho Hum….denied a second pinta at lunchtime by finishing it (with guesses) two-thirds of the way through the first (and last).

  30. tupu says:

    Hi sil
    As mentioned above, I feel it must be winkle out (rather than w+inkle). I have some vague memory that the term draws on the difficulty of prising the edible winkle shell-fish out of its shell. The term winkle-picker for long narrow shoes must, I think, be from a tool for that purpose.

  31. tupu says:

    Hi again Sil
    Have just checked wikipedia ‘winklepickers’ which supports that idea.

  32. scarpia says:


    I think the phrase that best fits is ‘to winkle out the truth’.

  33. Sil van den Hoek says:

    Thanks, tupu and scarpia.
    Right or wrong, I think I opt for tupu’s version.
    [w+inkle seemed to me nonsense anyway]

  34. crosser says:

    I was born and brought up in Lancashire, where we wore pumps for PE. When I went to teach in Bristol, a boy in my form informed me one day that he had lost his daps. I was at a loss and didn’t like to ask too many questions. I have lived abroad for several decades and this blog has brought back that memory!
    I agree with Ian that H Mantel is particularly well known since Wolf Hall, but would add that she has been a very respected writer for many years. I love her books and was shocked to hear her referred to as “painfully obscure”!

Leave a Reply

Don't forget to scroll down to the Captcha before you click 'Submit Comment'

XHTML: You can use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

4 − four =