Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 25,047 (Sat 26 Jun)/Gordius – Don’t panic

Posted by rightback on July 3rd, 2010


Solving time: 6 mins

Unless I’m getting my compilers confused (quite possible) I found this much easier than most Gordius puzzles – there were a couple of straightforward long anagrams which helped early on, plus several clues (e.g. 10ac) where the answer was immediately obvious from the definition. The surface readings of most of the clues are good, although in several cases these are aided by superfluous words or dodgy wordplay.

If anyone can explain the thinking behind HYPERSPACE at 13ac (or give the correct answer) I would be grateful.

Music of the day: Overture from Prince Igor by Borodin. (I can’t access YouTube from here, but please feel free to post a link if you are able.)

4 SPYGLASS; rev. of GYPS[y], + LASS
10 EL DORADO; EL + DO, all around DORA – Dora Spenlow is a character from David Copperfield.
11 DEFENESTRATION; RATION (= ‘Limited helping’) after (FEEDS TEN)*
13 HYPERSPACE (cryptic definition) – I don’t understand this. Maybe it’s an allusion to The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, or maybe it’s not the right answer.
14 IGOR (2 defs) – the first name of Stravinsky and a character (Prince Igor) from an opera by Borodin.
17 LEWD; rev. of DWEL[l] – as in ‘dwell on something’.
21 BURNT TO A CINDER; (BREAD TURN INTO C[arbon])*, &lit – the wordplay reading here wouldn’t satisfy a a purist but it’s an excellent anagram.
23 KILOGRAM; KIM around (LOG + R.A.)
24 IBADAN; IAN with BAD inside – ‘X Y in’ to mean ‘X [with] Y in’ is gratingly ungrammatical.
25 DARK AGES (cryptic definition)
26 TERROR; T[actical] + ERROR
1 SACK (2 defs) – wasted time on ‘tent’ here.
2 SHAKE-UP; SUP around HAKE – more wasted time, looking for an answer like WHEEL-?? with ‘fish’ = EEL.
7 A + MA + ZING
12 EXPECTORATE; EXPECT (= ‘look forward to’) + ORATE (= ‘speak’) – good clue.
15 AM(ENA)BLE – started with ‘amicable’ here but realised my mistake.
17 WARBLER; WAR + (R[e]BEL)*
19 CHEDDAR; CR (= Chromium) around HEDDA – Hedda Gabler is a play by Ibsen.
22 KNAR; rev. of RANK – possibly a nod to the compiler’s pseudonym and the Gordian Knot.

21 Responses to “Guardian 25,047 (Sat 26 Jun)/Gordius – Don’t panic”

  1. Bryan says:

    Many thanks, Rightback, I enjoyed this.

    Re 13a HYPERSPACE, it must be right because it was my solution, too.

    Great minds?

  2. sidey says:

    Oxford Dictionaries defines hyperspace as ‘space of more than three dimensions’ so there’s more of it than normal space, sort of.

  3. NeilW says:

    Thanks rightback.

    I’m doubly disappointed now. I was a little disappointed by this puzzles easiness in a weekend prize slot and now very disappointed not to see the first ever negative solving time from you!

  4. molonglo says:

    Thanks rightback. The only thing to give pause here was 1a which was quite neat, and 13d which I got without understanding the last words of the clue. You didn’t explain it: can someone?

  5. Paul B says:

    On Concorde it was possible, Neil W. You could actually land before you’d left, you know.

  6. Jack says:

    Thanks RB

    RE 22d – A knar is a knot but ‘not’ the same type of knot as the Gordian Knot. A knar is a knot in a piece of wood or tree branch – hence the phrase ‘a knarled piece of wood.’

  7. NeilW says:

    Paul B, with rightback I have long thought that anything’s possible…!

  8. Stella Heath says:

    Molonglo, party politics are rarely well thought out, but respond rather to half-baked ideals such as “capitalism” or “welfare”, without any real idea of how to achieve them, or how this will benefit the country – that’s my understanding of the comment, anyway.

    I don’t remember doing this puzzle a week ago, which suggests it wasn’t anything to write home about. I’ve a feeling Puck’s offering this week will be more challenging, but I haven’t got stuck into it yet

  9. Dave Ellison says:

    13a HYPERSPACE. I read this as SPACE is nothing, HYPER is way beyond this.

    Puck was more of a challenge, but his theme I found without reading the clue for it!

  10. Neil says:

    6 minutes eh? Plenty of people have hinted at scepticism about your solving times. Are you just trying it on until someone says straight out “I don’t believe you”?

    I solved the puzzle. I have no idea how long it took me but it wasn’t a hard one, though I did have to check references for IBADAN to be certain.

    Once your solving time was published, I took my ready-made solution, written in black ink, and wrote the solutions in again in red ink on top of the black, copying all the across solutions first and then fillling in the bits of the down solutions which weren’t red. This mindless excercise took me 5 minutes and 58 seconds. Unless, of course one can write block capitals really, really fast, this would allow 2 seconds of cogitation time.

    Any comment or explanation would be welcome. (No. I don’t write really, really slowly).

  11. Sil van den Hoek says:

    In my relatively short UK cryptic history, I can’t remember ever to have seen a Gordius on a Saturday – so that was a surprise.
    Normally, rightback, I am with you in your comments, but when you say “The surface readings of most of the clues are good, although in several cases these are aided by superfluous words or dodgy wordplay”, I am not with you re the last part.
    And I can’t find any reference to that in your comments either.

    I (& we) thought this was a perfectly OK crossword – for once no theme on a Saturday, and easy? – well, recent Araucarias and Pauls weren’t that hard either.
    And ‘easy’ doesn’t have to mean ‘not good (enough)’, does it?
    It is time to give Gordius a little bit more credit.

    Clue of the Day for us: TERROR (26ac).
    Of course, it’s nearly always linked with ‘error’, but this surface was particularly nice.
    [1ac came pretty close]

    In the meantime, I have some catch-up work to do.
    The Guardian decided to publish crosswords of two of my all-time favourite setters (Boatman & Crucible) on days that I was far far away from the Real World due to a Maths Conference. Well, well.

  12. plutocrat says:

    Messed up on EXPECTORANT (to rant ..) rather than EXPECTORATE, and then couldn’t figure out why 25 across was DARK ARTS … Arts section of the Times?! Now it all makes sense. Thanks.

  13. rightback says:

    Thanks to all commenters. I’m afraid I still don’t see any merit in the clue to HYPERSPACE. Did anyone solve it with fewer than (say) three checking letters? Given just the clue and ‘hyperspace’ as a suggested answer, I doubt any solver would be convinced of its correctness.

    Sil (#11), the sorts of superfluous words of which I was thinking were the likes of ‘of’ (1ac), ‘with a’ (4ac), ‘to get with’ (3dn) and ‘a’ (15dn), although I confess on looking again that (as you suggest) there are fewer of these than I had thought. In ‘dodgy wordplay’ I would include ‘Sheriff starts’ (9ac), the wordplay reading of 21ac, ‘Scot ill in’ (24ac) and ‘in Somerset’ as a ‘definition’ of CHEDDAR. I had to solve and blog this puzzle very quickly owing to limited Internet access, so my apologies to Gordius if I was a bit harsh.

    Jack (#6): I was actually referring to the word ‘knot’ in the clue rather than the answer KNAR, but thanks for your explanation.

    Stella (#8): My reading of 13dn (HALF-BAKED) was the same as yours. Rather a half-baked liberal lefty definition, but then this is the Guardian.

    Neil (#10): Solving times are more of a feature of the ‘times for the Times’ solving blog than this one, and I can assure you that the times posted there (regularly under 6 minutes) are genuine. It’s quite possible (on a very easy day) for a fast solver to complete a 15×15 cryptic in fewer than three minutes, although I’ve never managed that with the Guardian. But please feel free to ignore or disbelieve solving times in favour of discussing the crosswords.

  14. Paul B says:

    Some people can write very fast. They have a different kind of muscle fibre in their fingers. And in their brains.

    HYPERSPACE is not very good, which might explain the number of remarks made about it. And there are some goodly angrams that ole Gordius could have knotted together, including the marvellous YEP – HE’S CRAP among others, had he so wished. Plus it’s HYPE + PARSEC*. Oh Lordy, what games we might have had.

    (It’s some non-Euclidean geometry, isn’t it? What yer needs fer yer Einstein equations to work properly?)

  15. Neil says:

    Well, that’s me told! (@ 13 & 14).

    Me at 10: “(No. I don’t write really, really slowly).” Well, I suppose I must do then.

  16. Bryan says:

    Rightback @13

    HYPERSPACE was among the last ones that I got but I never doubted for a moment that it might not have been correct.

  17. Dave Ellison says:

    HYPERSPACE was the last one I put in, but not the last one I got! (Simples, my wife solved it).

    Paul B @14: I think you probably mean Riemannian Geometry.

  18. Paul B says:

    No, I meant the other one. Really!

  19. Bryan says:

    Dave Ellison @17

    Please let me have your wife’s Mobile Number – just in case. Thanks.

  20. smoz says:

    I’m a newbie – this crossword took me days!! But very enjoyable. I was fine with ‘Hyperspace’. In modern parlance ‘hyper’ is regularily used to mean lots, like mega. Last clue in was ‘knar’ – had to do a bit of dictionary work. I laugh at the solving times – it makes one feel rather stupid, but I’m determined to become a cryptic solver

  21. FumbleFingers says:

    Regarding HYPERSPACE, I was somewhat surprised to find my (admittedly slightly outdated) copy of OED doesn’t even list the word!

    But I just found what I consider a good definition (for its time, i.e. – pre Star Trek etc.) in an online copy of Websters apparently dated 1913…

    “…a mathematical construct…not intended to represent the structure of the common physical space in which matter exists”

    This is indeed one of my interpretations of the word. Hyperspace doesn’t physically exist. It’s a sort of “platonic ideal” which really is made of “nothing”, in that it’s constructed from non-material abstracts such as maths & laws of physics. And there certainly is a lot of it, since by some interpretations it does represent “everything”.

    I find this particularly galling because ordinarily I wouldn’t consider using Websters for anything (well, maybe if I ran out of Andrex AND the Sunday Times hadn’t been delivered). To see it come up trumps on this occasion leads me to question my world-view almost as much as when I first started to grasp the concept of the universe arising entirely from nothingness, judiciously-chosen rules, and quantum indeterminacy.

    Anyway, Rightback – now you know how anal I am, you’ll be able to understand how I was up for HYPERSPACE without any checking letters at all. I may be disremembering exactly, but I’m pretty sure I wrote it before HALF-BAKED, once that had confirmed the initial H (not that I could compare with you on total solve time, obviously :D )

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