Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 25,031 – Gordius

Posted by Uncle Yap on June 8th, 2010

Uncle Yap.

I must say this puzzle had me entertained all the way. The hard-boiled eggs which I had come to expect from Gordius thankfully did not materialise and all the clues were fair, solveable and Ximenean. Really enjoyed the multi-various trickeries and misdirections.
My COD must be 4 Down for its timeliness.

1 BACKSIDE Cha of BACK (support) SIDE (team)
5 TREATY Cha of TREAT (deal with) Y (first letter of youth)
9 WILL POWER What a lovely cd
11 MUSES Ruminate’s (answer to 6 Down) any of the nine goddesses of the liberal arts, daughters of Zeus and Mnemosyne (Calliope of epic poetry; Clio of history; Erato of love poetry; Euterpe of music and lyric poetry; Melpomene of tragedy; Polyhymnia of sacred lyrics; Terpsichore of dancing; Thalia of comedy; Urania of astronomy);
12 DISINCENTIVE *(VINCE INSIDE T, first letter of Tory)
15 ACID Cha of A CID (Criminal Investigation Department, enquiry agency) and of course, if you remember your chemistry, acid will turn litmus paper red
16 A GREAT MANY The Indian statesman, Mahatma Gandi was indeed A GREAT MAN + Y (one of the three unknowns x,y & z used in algebra and now in cryptic crosswords) A great clue
18 DEMONETISE Cha of DE (French for of) MONET (artist) IS E (English) to abandon as a monetary standard as they did to gold and silver
19 ELIA The prophet ELISHA minus SH (two letters from SHEEP or some sheep) Charles Lamb (London, 10 February 1775 – Edmonton, 27 December 1834) was an English essayist, best known for his Essays of Elia and for the children’s book Tales from Shakespeare, which he produced with his sister, Mary Lamb (1764–1847).
21 DISINHERITED cd for those left out of provisions in a will
24 THETA The Territorial Army (volunteers which started as Home Guards and made so internationally famous by crossword setters, Dad’s Army TV series and Spike Milligan’s tichy book, Adolf Hitler, My Part In His Downfall) In trigonometry, the Greek letter, theta is often used to represent an unknown angle, hence angular symbol
25 TANGERINE *(9=NINE + GREAT) Nice touch of misdirection as each of the three number 9 has a different meaning
26 SETTEE Cha of SET (placed) TEE (the support for a golf ball when driving off)
27 VESTIARY *(It’s a very)

1 BOWL dd to deliver/bowl a cricket ball
2 COLT dd single-action revolver invented by Samuel Colt and a young horse
3 SOPHIE *(I for one + HOPES)
4 DOWNING STREET D (Initial of David Cameron) OWNING (taking possession) STREET (way) How nice if the clue number were 10
8 YESTERYEAR A gimme clue that renders this puzzle unsuitable for inclusion in a later compilation of Guardian crosswords
10 ROCKET SCIENCE Allusion to ROCKET, the name given to the steam engine invented by George Stephenson (1781 – 1848), an English civil and mechanical engineer who built the first public railway line in the world to use steam locomotives.

14 LITMUS TEST Aside from the exact wording of the clue, this is the insertion of IT MUST in LEST. I fail to see the significance of FAIL. PostScript : Thanks to EdUS, the correct parsing is insertion of MUST in *(LEST IT) with fail as anagrin

17 INUNDATE Cha of I (one) NUN (devoted woman) DATE (time)
20 RELENT RE (about) LENT (a spring event or period)
22 DIVA DIVAN (bed) minus N
23 VERY Chestnut dd

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

39 Responses to “Guardian 25,031 – Gordius”

  1. EdUS says:

    Re 14d, I think it is the insertion of MUST in an anagram of LEST IT with FAIL the anagram indicator.

  2. Bryan says:

    Many thanks, Uncle Yap, this was a great puzzle: challenging but uncontentious. And nary an obscurity in sight!

    Well done, Gordius.

    Will other Setters kindly note?

  3. Ian says:

    Thanks Uncle Yap and to Gordius.

    Plenty of cleverness on display here as UY has already noted. I spent time ruminating over 9ac in my attempt to solve ‘Tangerine’ before the penny dropped! Doh.

    ‘Acid’ well contrived as were ‘A Great Many’ & ‘Relent’

    Splendid stuff. 30′

  4. rrc says:

    Uncle Yap Cannot yesteryear be used in a generic sense meaning the past thus clue would be acceptable

    This is a very good crossword and thoroughly enjoyable with plenty of aha and smiles

  5. Eileen says:

    Thanks, Uncle Yap.

    I, too, enjoyed this much more than the usual Gordius. 12ac was another nicely topical clue.

    I think the prophet in 19ac is Elias, the Greek / Latin form of Elijah, which appears in the New Testament [e.g.Matthew 27,47.]

  6. Eileen says:

    Re 19ac: on second thoughts, perhaps you’re right, – I should have said, ‘That’s the way I read it’. :-) [Both are valid.]

  7. Paul B says:

    That may be Eileen, but just about every clue has some questionable element or other. Which I shall not list, in order to save space. The cryptic grammar at 14dn I particularly liked, where LEST and IT ‘fail’ (plural usage), and MUST ‘be’ included. As in ‘this be the verse’, I suppose? Grammarians to the rescue.

    2009?, though, was almost quite good as a literal gag.

  8. Mick H says:

    I read ‘fail’ in 14 down as a nounal anagram indicator, using ‘fail’ in the neologistic sense popularised by Youtube etc (in which ‘epic fail’ = big mistake). Which was a nice thought, but on reflection I think you’re right about the plural, Paul!
    I liked BACKSIDE – no doubt it’s been seen before, but very neatly done.

  9. Eileen says:

    I suggest that Gordius [born 1930] intended ‘fail’ to be read as a [singular] subjunctive, rather than a neologism!

    [From ‘Fowler’s modern English Usage': ‘The idiomatic construction after ‘lest’ is ‘should’ or, in exalted style, the pure subjunctive [lest we forget, lest he be angry]; good writers rarely use ‘shall, ‘may’ and ‘might’.]

  10. Kathryn's Dad says:

    I enjoyed the last Gordius and in my opinion this was even better – soundly clued with some moments to make you smile or think ‘that’s clever’. DOWNING STREET, WILL POWER and BACKSIDE were my favourites, although as Mick H says, the last one has no doubt been used before; but it was new to me.

    So credit where it’s due – a good puzzle, imho.

    I don’t get how 23dn works, if somebody could put me out of my misery. Excellent blog, btw Uncle Yap.

  11. cholecyst says:

    Thanks, Uncle Yap. I particularly liked your suggestion at 2dn that the co-inventor of the weapon in question was a young horse. (Sorry!)

  12. Bryan says:

    Kath’s Dad @10

    Very light – a coloured flare fired from a special pistol (Very pistol) for signalling at night, esp at sea

    [named after Edward W. Very (1852-1910), US naval ordnance officer]

  13. Kathryn's Dad says:

    Cheers Bryan for explaining that.

  14. Derek Lazenby says:

    Rocket was built for George Stephenson’s Liverpool and Manchester Railway (where George was fully occupied by the railway contruction) by Robert Stephenson & Co. in Newcastle, on the opposite side of the country.

    Take your pick, but it seems more likely, under the circumstances, that the major part of the design would be by Robertad tha he should be given the credit not George, though no one actually knows for sure.

  15. Martin H says:

    Sorry, UY, but I didn’t like this one much.

    Like most cd’s 9 seems like only half a clue. At least it didn’t involve a feeble pun, but it drew a groan none-the-less, and blocked me for 21. The multi-purpose 9 was well done though in the rest of the puzzle.

    ‘Yesteryear’ isn’t even cryptic; A CID is so obvious that it gives away 14 – hardly the need even to check it as (6,4) is given; ‘rocket science’ is feeble, as is the great man + y; and the Very light: as you say, a real chestnut. 4 is well-constructed, but sounds too much like a play for the Order of the Brown Nose. Otherwise competent but uninspired.

  16. Paul B says:

    Re 14dn on surface I don’t doubt it for a second, Eileen – it’s the cryptic grammar I’m after! So: FAIL is used as a plural verb, referring to either LEST plus IT, or L+E+S+T+I+T (string of letters), and use of BE is okay in that case because … (cont. p. 94)

  17. Derek Lazenby says:

    Doh, I hit the keys honest, but obviously not hard enough, “Robert and that”, sorry.

    Nice xword wasn’t it?

  18. Eileen says:

    Paul B

    I realised as soon as I posted that I’d got myself a bit tied up there and hoped it had gone unnoticed. :-) You’re right, of course.

  19. Stella Heath says:

    Thanks, Uncle Yap, for your encyclopaedic blog, and to the others clearing up the few remaining doubts.

    I find myself agreeing with Eileen quite often. I, too, was thinking of Elias as the prophet for 19a, but that’s probably because here in Spain it’s the name used; and my linguistic background also means I had no problem with “fail” used in the subjunctive – contrary to common belief, it does exist in English, and is more widely used than we realise, as it is easily confused with other verb forms.

  20. crosser says:

    I can only duplicate Stella Heath’s post @19 as that was exactly what I wanted to say, including the reference to Eileen :-), except that I live in France.

  21. egroeg says:

    Never mind the grammar. Since when was rocket science [10 down] “cutting edge”. A rocket embodies very little, if any, science. It’s simply a tube, closed at one end, stuffed with lots of highly flammable material which when ignited produces a powerful thrust at the open end. Lift-off follows. Cutting edge science, my [1 ac.].
    It’s child’s play.

  22. Bill Taylor says:

    I’m with Martin @15 — competent but uninspired. Not nearly as entertaining as Rufus yesterday.

  23. tupu says:

    For some reason, this one did not especially turn me on – and given the weight of expert opinion above, I am inclined to feel ‘mea culpa’. I think I was expecting something more testing. One or two anagrams were pretty good, though, esp. 12a, and 9 (with its connections) and 18 were nice enough clues.

    Re grammar, I’d personally plump for Paul B’s reading. But it may be worth remembering that
    a computer in the 1960s produced 5 (I think)different grammatical readings of ‘Time flies like an arrow’, and at some stage ‘fruit flies like a banana’ was thrown in to add to the confusion.

  24. sidey says:

    A nice change for Gordius as I have no complaints.

    Interesting blog Uncle Yap. However you seem a touch confused at 24 across. Spike Milligan wasn’t in the TA, he was conscripted into the Royal Artillery (also a setter’s favourite).

  25. liz says:

    Thanks, Uncle Yap. I’m another one who thought of Elias at 19ac. Aside from YESTERYEAR, which I had to check as I couldn’t believe it was so obvious, I found this more enjoyable than I have found other puzzles by Gordius in the past.

  26. Bill Taylor says:

    Sidey @24: You’re right about Spike Milligan and the RA. I was puzzled, too, by Uncle Yap’s reference Milligan’s “tichy” book. The only on-line definition I can find of “tichy” is on the Urban Dictionary of slang site: “Attractive, petite girl with an attitude and big hair.”

    That can’t be right. But if UY meant “titchy” — which the Compact Oxford gives as “Brit. informal: very small” — that’s not right, either. “Adolf Hitler: My Part in His Downfall” was a bestseller and the first part of a projected trilogy which wound up, I believe, as seven volumes of war-related memoirs. It was also adapted as both a movie and a stage play.

  27. stiofain says:

    Bill I think you will find tichy is a neologism coined by Uncle Yap to describe a tongue in cheek clue. Gordius seems to have pulled his socks up lately maybe after a few lambastings here but i still found this pretty dull fare though thankfully better clued than some of his previous offerings.

  28. Bill Taylor says:

    Thank you, stiofain!

  29. Carrots says:

    I generally feel a sense of achievement in solving a puzzle by Gordius, probably because the Gordian Knot was supposed to be impossible to untangle. Alexander The Great`s solution has always seemed a little draconian to me, although I have sometimes felt myself reaching for my Wakizashi when the likes of Bunthorne or Ximenes caused me to lose the will to live.

    Thanks Gordius for a fair, straightforward puzzle….just the opposite of what we secretly like!

  30. Paul B says:

    Um yeah Steela etc … it’s the CRYPTIC grammar I’m after, as mentioned. That stuff Eileen came up with refers to the surface (different animal).

  31. tupu says:

    Bill @26
    The things one learns (and with luck, perhaps, forgets)! The OED gives tichy as a form of tetchy (cf. touchy etc). Also, it is not so much a derived form, as I suspected, of ‘titchy’ = v. small but more its origin. An old time mucic hall comic my dad sometimes spoke of, was it seems called Little Tich – I’d assumed it was Titch – and he was given this name because (a) he was little and (b) he looked like one Arthur Orton who in C19 claimed to be Roger Tichborne – lost at sea and heir to a baronetcy. The ref. to small was then transferred from ‘little’ to ‘ti(t)ch(y)’.

    I suppose Spike Milligan was tetchy at times, and his book – though celebrated – wasn’t very big (145 pages). Perhaps UY (whom I should have thanked earlier for his blog) might be willing to tell us more if all this hasn’t put him into too deep a sleep.

  32. sidey says:

    Tich and tichy are in Chambers as variants of titch and titchy. Oddly the UK English dictionary recognises none of those. Anyway, there is stuff in Milligan’s work that brings home the utter horror of war.

  33. Bill Taylor says:

    After critics called his memoirs unreliable, Milligan responded: “”I wish the reader to know that he is not reading a tissue of lies and fancies, it all really happened.” But this debate about “tichy,” though I started it, has been rendered irrelevant by stiofain’s explanation @27.

  34. tupu says:

    Bill and Stiofain: Many thanks. I missed the point completely. I now see that the acronym is listed in today’s blog abbreviations and goes back to at least 16 February this year. Google also reveals an odd set of listings about one Miroslav Tichy (going back at least to 2008) where the same idea seems to be involved, though not as explicitly as far as I can see. I seem to have a blind spot with regard to acronyms – they have not been part of my own particular experience.

  35. tupu says:

    Forget Miroslav. He seems to be genuine, though there are several refs to ‘tongue in cheek’ in blogs about him.

  36. Mick H says:

    Re Egroeg’s comment at 21, I’m delighted to learn that rocket science is, in fact, not rocket science!

  37. Uncle Yap says:

    Sidey is right. I have always mistakenly thought that Spike Milligan was in the TA, hence his tichy title AH,MPIHD for his book, which I have not read. Thanks for correcting this misconception.

    Another tichy title that tickles me is “The Wrath of Grapes” about the adverse effects of too much alcohol.

  38. MadLogician says:

    egroeg @ 21 – rocket science is the business of making rockets do what you want them to, not of the basic principle. Among scientists and engineers it is well known as a hard discipline because of the great number of things that can go wrong.

  39. Neil says:

    My daughter (now nearly 40) some several years ago, sometime during her eight student years at various art colleges, introduced me to an expression concerning people “with their heads up their asses”. I’d never quite got the meaning. Thank you (most of you commenting here, not Eileen, obviously) for helping me to begin to understand what she meant.

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