Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 25,034 – Rover

Posted by Andrew on June 11th, 2010


Rover, aka Ian Morgan, died on 31 May at the age of 78 – see the posting under “Announcements”, and also the editor’s newsletter on the Guardian crossword site. I, and others, have been rather harsh about his puzzles in the past, and I’m sorry to say I can’t pretend to have been particularly impressed with this one. Most of the clues are absolutely fine, though not very inspiring, but I found the cryptic definitions rather weak.

10. NIECE E in NICE (particular)
11. ORCHARD OR CHARD – I liked this one for its smooth surface reading.
13. LAPSE PEARLS* less R
14. AGREEMENT Cryptic definition
16. ANTIPERSPIRANTS Cryptic definition
21. PUT UP Double definition
22. GENERAL Double definition
24. MOTET MOTE + T[he]
25. NEWMARKET Double definition – famouse racecourse, and a card game
1. SCHOOLDAYS SCHOOL (train) + DAYS (times)
2. CRACKPOT CRACK + POT. “One [who is] silly” is the definition.
3. ESTATE E[ast] + STATE (Germany, perhaps)
4. MAID Homophone of “made” – so obvious it was difficult to spot at first!
6. ENGINEER ENGINE + ER. I suppose an engine can be a “means”, but this seems very weak.
7. SETTLE Double definition – settle/clear debts, and to settle on something is to land on it.
8. BEND Double definition – a bend in the road and “bend sinister” is a heraldic term.
15. TEST PILOTS Cryptic definition
18. NETWORKS WORK (labour) in NETS. Chambers gives “a net; a snare or trap” under a second heading for “toil”. The surface reading of this clue doesn’t make much sense.
20. NINETY “Cunningly concealed” in Roman numeral form in eXChequer.
21. PORTAL PORT + A L. A portal can be a web site providing links to many other pages or sites.
22. GAMP Double definition – Mrs Gamp in Martin Chuzzlewit, and an umbrella. The umbrella sense comes from the character, so these are not really separate meanings.
23. PAWN Double definition – a pawn is a chess piece, and “uncle” is slang for a pawnbroker.

43 Responses to “Guardian 25,034 – Rover”

  1. mike says:

    Many thanks for the blog, Andrew.
    Whilst I agree there are some weak definitions, I was never dismayed to see a Rover crossword. I always had a sense of fulfiment knowing I was sure to finish and get enjoyment.

  2. Bill Taylor says:

    Bravely spoken, Andrew — thank you. Nothing whatsoever against the man himself but not a great puzzle with which to end the working week. 6d, 18d and, especially, 4d were laboured. Best clue for me — 16a.

  3. EdUS says:

    Thanks, Andrew. As a computer programmer, I find the surface reading of 18d sensible. Also, your criticism of 22d is often applicable, again in this puzzle, I think, to 25a.

  4. Bryan says:

    Many thanks, Andrew, this was a typical Rover puzzle and so appropriate for the occasion. Also many thanks, Rover, wherever you are.

    No need for any 16a during the solve except for 20d which I guessed correctly but without knowing why.

  5. Eileen says:

    Many thanks, Andrew.

    I think you and I have blogged at least our fair share of Rover puzzles and have both almost always used a variation of ‘mixed bag’ as a description.

    This was, indeed, a typical Rover puzzle. I didn’t see the explanation of 20dn [thanks for that] and really liked it when I did – except that, of course, it wouldn’t be me not to object to ‘amount’ as the definition! :-) I liked 5dn, too, apart from the slur on the Guardian – which does, at least, usually get apostrophes right! – and I thought 19ac was quite nice.

    Apart from that, I agree with your comments about the weakness of some other clues.

  6. Bullfrog says:

    With only the ‘P’ of Card Sharp in place, my first thought for 5d was Spellcheck!

  7. tupu says:

    Thanks Andrew. And thanks Rover wherever you are (12a?).
    As last time a mixed bag for me, but a better and more difficult puzzle which I took more time over than I expected. 14a and 14d were weakest I felt. But some other clues more than made up for this. 20d was especially good and the anagrams in 5d and 12a suprised and amused. I also liked the definition in 1d and 22a. I don’t worry personally about 22d and 25a – an element of redundancy can help in communication and even if not true dds they both involve different uses of the same word (after all Mrs Gamp was not an umbrella herself).

    Edus @3 – thanks re networks.

    ps. Other bloggers please forgive my effervescence on 31 yesterday (following 26) – no harm meant to anyone of course :)

  8. TokyoColin says:

    EdUS @3, I have worked with computers for 35 years and now run an IT services firm and I cannot make any sense of ‘Computer systems show Labour in the toils’. What sort of programs are you writing?

    Not a good day for me. I found this very difficult and unsatisfying but I was distracted by the real world. Thank you Andrew for explaining 5dn and 20dn for me. Good clues that I missed completely.

  9. tupu says:

    I happened to read 7d settle intransitively as ‘become clear’ as of weather. Both trans. and intrans. meanings are linked to ‘clear’ in Chambers.

  10. tupu says:

    Hi Tokyo Colin. I don’t work in computers but Chambers gives for ‘network’ ‘a system of computer terminals and other peripheral devices that can pass information to one another’. I wonder if it might depend on whether the system is perceived within or between machines or can one distinguish between ‘computing system’ and ‘computer system’ in this context?

  11. Carrots says:

    Saddened to learn of Rover`s demise. I`ve always thought of him as a “curates egg” sort of setter, capable of some seriously plump red herrings alongside clues so glaringly obvious that one didn`t immediately put the answers in case they, too, were!

    Apart from “young” Paul (who I reckon is at least 40-plus!)can anyone think of any of a new generation of promising setters, and in what publications they may be found?

  12. jvh says:

    Re 23d, I always thought a pawn was a chess man, but specifically not a chess piece.

  13. liz says:

    Thanks, Andrew. I agree with you and others that this was a typical Rover puzzle, with some of the cds lacking the ‘it must be that’ factor, 14ac especially.

    I didn’t see the wordplay in 20dn, so thanks for the explanation.

    My favourite was 11ac — a lovely clue! And I liked 5dn too.

  14. anax says:

    Well, after hearing of the sad loss of Rover I promised myself I’d look out for any puzzles that were still in the pipeline.

    I can’t say this was an exciting puzzle, nor was it difficult, but it would be an absolutely ideal entry point for fairly new solvers wanting to take the next step after e.g. the Tele. Less experienced solvers don’t want convulted wordplay shenanigans and puzzles of this type would serve them very well indeed.

    For me, this makes the loss of Rover all the more sad. RIP.

  15. Tokyo Colin says:

    Hi tupu, the answer ‘network’ is undoubtedly valid for ‘computer systems’. But Andrew in the blog and EdUS in his response were both referring to the surface reading. I am with Andrew, ‘show Labour in the toils’ makes no sense to me. Seems like a missed opportunity.

  16. Coffee says:

    I too was going for SPELLCHECK in 5d for a brief moment. I did like 1d (maybe because it was easy?) and 16a. Not keen on the turn-up in 15d- any thoughts on that?

  17. Mr. Jim says:

    Thanks Andrew, and to Rover. RIP.

    Actually I thought it was quite good. “Train Times” for schooldays and the Exchequer thing were quite clever. Perhaps there’s more but I didn’t get very far today (usual solving partner absent – something about some ball game or other?)

  18. Bill Taylor says:

    Coffee @16: “turn up” in 15d threw me, too. The “One-Look” on-line dictionary offers several definitions of “pilot,” including “small auxiliary gas burner that provides a flame to ignite a larger gas burner.” So if you’re testing the pilot, presumably you’re turning it up.

    That seems like a helluva stretch but it’s as close as I can come.

  19. Eileen says:

    Re turn-up: hyphens are often there to mislead: I took it as ‘turn’ [ a period of action, work etc. {Collins}] or even ‘performance’, ‘up’ [in the air].

  20. Coffee says:

    And there’s me thinking they were doing loop the loops in mid air, which would involve turning up at some point!

  21. tupu says:

    Hi Tokyo Colin+ Andrew (and Coffee + Bill)
    re 18d. I take your point which I misunderstood, though that was partly because I did not and still don’t see a great problem with the clue at all. I must have a blind spot here so do be patient with me. I simpl(emindedl)y read it as “the word networks shows ‘work’ = labour in ‘nets’ = the toils”. I thought that’s how Andrew explained it and was thus surprised at his comment since I also assumed there was a ‘cryptic’ reference to the labour party having a difficult time recently – but perhaps that’s seeing too much. I don’t say that it makes witty or elegant sense but can’t see that it ‘doesn’t make much sense’. Of course the fact that it is grammatically OK doesn’t guarantee it has any or much semantic content, and ‘not much sense’ does not mean ‘nonsense’ so Andrew’s comment may be less dismissive than I thought. Perhaps Edus can explain his reading further?

    Coffee + Bill 15d. I hope I’m not now entering a second zone of possibly seeing sense where none may exist or missing some obvious point. I simply discarded the hyphen and took ‘turn’ to mean a ‘go’ or ‘short ride’ or perhaps more literally ‘banking, turning etc’ and ‘up’ to mean ‘in the sky’??

  22. tupu says:

    Eileen – I took so much time constructing 21 that I missed your elegant comment.

  23. Eileen says:

    tupu – it’s so easily done! I’m glad you agree, anyway! :-)

  24. Bill Taylor says:

    Eileen & tupu — your explanations make a lot more sense than mine. It never occurred to me to discard the hyphen.

  25. tupu says:

    Thanks Eileen – it can, especially as I’ve been trying to avoid too many ‘howlers’.

    Thanks too Bill.

    Andrew re ‘networks’ – sorry to keep digging (in my hole) – but can ‘computer systems’ refer to ‘swingometer’ and other election result prediction programs etc. as well? This would give the wording a little more surface meaning perhaps.

  26. Richard says:

    Thanks for the blog, Andrew. I needed your explanations of PAWN and GAMP.

    Eileen – I do like your explanation of turn up – I had thought of it as reversing the words i.e. Test Pilots perform Pilots’ Tests!

  27. Dave Ellison says:

    Thanks, Andrew, for the explanation of 20d which I regret I missed. I think this a very worthy clue, now.

    Less so 4d. No one has mentioned the ellipses – I can’t fathom any reason for them, except the maid was from E Germany, which would be quite specious. Or is that the car was doctored to sound as though it were made in Britain – less noisy perhaps?

  28. Bill Taylor says:

    Out I go on a limb again…. Dave@27: I read the ellipses as an attempt at misdirection, to make us think that the East German car was actually domestic — i.e. British — when, in fact, 4d had nothing to do with cars. A bit specious and, given my previous attempt at elucidation, probably wrong!

  29. Kathryn's Dad says:

    I didn’t have time to do this today, but I know from lurking on and contributing to this blog for a bit now that most of the time in clues you can just, well … ignore ellipses.

    A good weekend to all.

  30. tupu says:

    I suspect there will be more on ellipses tomorrow. There is also something on General Crossword Discussion from a couple of days ago.

  31. Davy says:

    Thanks Andrew and posthumous thanks to Rover also.

    I was never a great fan of Rover and this puzzle is a typical example of his mixture of great clues, indifferent clues and totally vague clues. I thought that 5d and 20d were marvellous.

    I totally disagree with anax (#14) about the suitability for beginners. It’s definitely not suitable as the clueing is so inconsistent. Everyman should be everyone’s entry point as the clues are pretty well perfectly structured.

    RIP Rover.

  32. Sil van den Hoek says:

    Rover’s crosswords have always been very inconsistent [with a very deep low at Jan 1st 2010], but, although I wasn’t a fan of his puzzles, I always had a feeling that Mr Morgan really wanted to entertain us [which, I admit, he didn’t, for me, at the start of this year] and for that reason I never accepted him to be ‘burnt down’ [as we did e.g. with Gordius only a year ago, as regulars on this site will remember].
    Rover was one of the few setters with a Fanclub [and if he did visit this site, he would have loved it, I guess], his president being our own Mr B.

    Today’s crossword wasn’t even that easy, but mainly because of the unpredictability of some clues.
    There were nice ones: ORCHARD [as so often, I agree with liz :)], but also SAINTED (12ac), MOTET (24ac) and, especially, 20d’s NINETY [the one we didn’t understand, but which in hindsight is very good].

    On the other hand, we didn’t like ENGINEER [even if ‘engine’ can be defined as ‘means to connect’, the two words ‘engine’ and ‘engineer’ are too closely related].

    14ac is another dubious clue, due to the use of ‘men’.
    Apparently it’s a cd, but ‘yes’ could be seen as ‘agree!!’ and therefore ‘yes-men’ = AGREEMEN – missing a T.
    Very unsatisfactory.

    Finally, PRIORITY in 17d.
    As you say, Andrew, IT in PRIORY.
    But ‘Something superior’ for the answer? Having priority doesn’t mean being superior, does it?

    All in all, a mixed bag.
    Not bad, not very good either.
    Very much Rover.

  33. Bill Taylor says:

    I agree with Davy @31 — Everyman is the perfect training ground.

  34. tupu says:

    Hi Sil
    Re priority – CED gives ‘precedence in rank’ and superior as ‘of higher rank’. So they both denote greater importance, the first in an idiom of relative time and the second of relative location.

  35. Eileen says:

    Hi Sil

    Re 17dn: I had exactly the same thoughts about PRIORITY but gave Rover the benefit of the doubt for the sake of the wordplay [A Superior is the head of a religious house or order] but that was rather spoilt by ‘thing’ and ‘it’.

    You have led me to do some dictionary research and I find [Chambers]: ‘priority: the state of being first in time, place or rank'; ‘superior: higher in nature, place, rank or excellence’. [I still don’t like it much. :-) ]

  36. tupu says:

    Sorry Sil – I was looking at COD.

  37. Eileen says:

    tupu – touché!! I said it’s easily done! :-)

  38. tupu says:

    :) Thanks. I was going to say ‘it’s like playing ducks and drakes’ – from a vague memory of that term being used when cars or bikes take turns to pass each other, but google etc. only give ‘stone skimming’ for that.

  39. Eileen says:

    Hi topu

    It’s a bit spooky, though, that our crossing comments were about 40 minutes after Sil’s comment that prompted them!

  40. tupu says:

    :) Yes, its really weird and now my name has changed :) Its borrowed from a much loved dead cat so maybe he’s a-haunting!

  41. Sil van den Hoek says:

    And is it all my fault? :)

  42. FumbleFingers says:

    Well hopefully Rover wouldn’t have been too irked by some of the criticisms here. Where he to be still with us and reading this I’d like to hope he’d be pleased to see what looks like a relatively high comment count. He’s obviously engaged us.

    I agree with pretty much everyone about the weak clues and the good ones. But as it happens I have a nephew protege keen to get to grips with cryptics, and I specifically didn’t want him to tackle this one because of the (relatively few) weak clues. Plus there were a few I didn’t fully understand until reading this page, so thanks to Andrew and all subsequent enlighteners (esp Eileen @19 – wonderfully concise!)

  43. Huw Powell says:

    I also was running with SPELLCHECK until SAINTED killed it.

    Started out fast, with a half-dozen clues that were very easy, then got bogged down a bit on the tougher or less-well-set ones. Finished all but BEND, also didn’t see the CX for NINETY but wrote it in anyway.

    Fun in general, and thanks for the blog!

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