Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 25,058 – Gordius

Posted by Andrew on July 9th, 2010


Gordius seems to be getting easier – his Saturday prize puzzle a couple of weeks ago was pretty straightforward, and so was this, with a lot of rather obvious anagrams. As usual with Gordius I have a number of criticisms and nitpicks.

1. SHALLLOW ALL in SHOW. A very easy one to get us started.
5. DIABOLO (I A BLOOD)* – Gordius seems confused between the game of diabolo and a spinning top.
11. DATA PROCESSING (A COSTING SPREAD)*, with maybe an attempt at an &lit.
13. EWES Homophone of “use”
17. ENCOMIUM INCOME* + UM (“I’m not sure”)
18. ALSO Hidden in mathematicAL SOlution, with “vice versa” indication that the logic of the wordplay ir reversed. I think “in” is doing double duty as part of the definition (“in addition”) and to indicate the hiding.
21. CORNISH PASTIES (I SCORN ITS SHAPE)* – the third time I=one has been used in an anagram
23. PROPONENT PROP + ONE + NT (books)
24. NAOMI “16, no less” is RUTH, and Naomi was Ruth’s mother-in-law in the Book of Ruth.
26. COCONUT Cryptic definition referring to coconut shies
1. SHUN Double definition – “avoid” and the Sergeant-Major’s pronunciation of “Attention”
5. DEMOCRAT C in MODERAT[e]* – “Democrat” follows “Liberal” in the name of the LibDems.
6. ACROSTIC This is quite nice – the clue is an acrostic of the word ACROSTIC (plus “initially” to give a hint)
7. ONCE IN A BLUE MOON “One sinner” + BLUE (squander) + MO + ON
8. OBLIGATION GI< in OBLATION. I thought an oblation was more of an offering rather that a sacrifice, but I suppose as a clergyman Gordius knows what he's talking about.
15. OMNIVORE (MORE VINO)*. Another attempt at an &lit that doesn’t quite come off
16. RUTHLESS A rather hackneyed double definition
19. TACTIC TIC-TAC “changing sides”
22. DIET Double definition – a diet is a kind of parliament, and commons can refer to food, which might be short if you were on a diet

37 Responses to “Guardian 25,058 – Gordius”

  1. Martin H says:

    ‘Tictac’ was OK

  2. Macca says:

    Maybe 5ac has two definitions rather than a blend of the two.
    In 11ac, the definition is wrong. It’s either computer = data processor or computers = data processing, not ‘computer’s’. I think the possessive is masquerading as a plural.
    In 15dn, it’s definitely not &lit but rather that the consumption of something gives a hint that the answer is consumer of some sort. Very loose.

  3. Myrvin says:

    22d seems weak except that 21a refers to it. 11a does look odd. Chambers says that diabolo uses a two-headed top. Your 1a solution has an excess of Ls. I liked 6d too.

  4. tupu says:

    Thanks Andrew and Gordius

    A relatively quick morning solve and quite enjoyable on the whole. 2d and 6d were nice and a couple of anagrams took a little time to see.

    I ended up stuck a bit on 22d and chose diet because it seemed the only fit – given its references to parliament, the phrase ’short commons’ ( = diet as a slimming device?), and the idea of fare (pasties) in 21a. List (because of short) seemed a poss. for a brief moment. But I wasn’t totally convinced – I think diet as parliament is historically wider than commons (as one of several ‘estates’) – though both Japanese houses are elected democratically. Perhaps I’m fussing too much.

    I had not worried about diabolo (5a) because I took the spinning spool on the string to be sufficiently top-like to do. But you seem to be technically right. A top spins on a point (though again v. Myrvyn above re Chambers which I’ve just seen).

    I think 8d is fine. A sacrifice need not be a ‘blood’ offering, and an oblation can be, actually or metaphorically.

    Macca @2. The apostrophe seems acceptable to me as helping the surface and pointing (loosely I agree) to an activity or capability of a computer

  5. beermagnet says:

    DIABOLO: Andrew, it sounds like you’re thinking of the card based word game rather than the diabolo “top” and string

  6. Andrew says:

    Thanks beermagnet, but my Diabolo link is the same as your second one… (The Wikipedia article refers to the moving part as a “spool”, and it’s more like a yo-yo than a top.)

  7. walruss says:

    Computer’s complication of a costing spread? is the clue for DATA PROCESSING, and I can’t agree with Tupu about it! I don’t think it’s an ‘&lit’ either, so what is it? Just wrong I suppose!!

  8. Kathryn's Dad says:

    I’ve enjoyed the last couple of Gordius puzzles and there have been comments here to the same effect, but this was a bit clunky and I lost enthusiasm to finish it in the end. ONCE IN A BLUE MOON I liked, once I’d got over the idea of RARE AS A being the first three words.

    At 25ac, I took it to be CON (study) FERS (homophone of FIRS), definition being ‘gives’. But then what’s the ‘with one missing’ bit there for? Seems like there’s two definitions there almost, since CONIFERS without the ubiquitous I = one also works, as Andrew has blogged.

  9. tupu says:

    Hi Walruss @7and @yesterday’s 40

    This argument about looseness/tightness is clearly old and ultimately insoluble. I am also aware I’m not all that consistent about the issue – as my ramblings re ‘diet’ above must show. :( It seems a shame for anyone to get very unhappy about it – no Xword is worth that – :) and I hope I am mistaken in the sense I get of a sore tusk which I would not wish on anybody.

  10. John says:

    I think a question mark after 25 ac would make it just about acceptable.
    I agree with those who have quibbled about 11 ac. ComputING = DATA PROCESSING, but computER with or without the “s” doesn’t.
    To be pedantic, I question 13 ac as well. “To be put to some purpose” would indicate “to be used” to me, not “to use”.

  11. liz says:

    Thanks Andrew. My favourite clue was 6dn. Didn’t see the wordplay in 19dn. Agree with some of the niggles, though this was fairly easy for Gordius.

  12. tupu says:

    Hi John
    I missed the problem with 25a. You and K’s Dad are right – it seems a bit of a mess as it stands and a ? might help.

    re 13a I parsed this as “said to be ‘put to use'” which seems OK. i.e. said to be x where x = ‘put to use’.

    Also walruss (and Sil)
    Re single (for what it’s worth (I know you don’t think ‘much’) my earlier point neglects the fact that ‘single’ exists quite legitimately as a noun.

    To Whom It may Concern: Re 11a I give up!!! :)

    Overall – I have to agree the puzzle appears to be less disciplined than I would ideally like. I write hesitantly because one can always be surprised by alternative parsings (cf 13a above).

  13. finbar says:

    Re 9a: I still get annoyed when I see Northern Ireland used as an alternative for Ulster. They are not the same.

  14. FumbleFingers says:

    Thanks, Andrew. I couldn’t see what “and vice-versa” was doing in 18a, but your explanation does it for me.

    I agree with tupu @9 that in the final analysis there’s no absolute line dividing ok from not ok clues. At least, I think that’s what he means.

    But one of my general rules of thumb is “can the definition component of the clue be substituted for the corresponding answer component in a reasonable phrase?”, so I’m quite happy with an adjectival “computer” = DATA PROCESSING [department] in 11a.

  15. mike04 says:

    Thanks for the blog, Andrew

    I could be wrong, but I have CONVEYS rather than CONFERS for 25ac.
    ‘study on evergreens': CON+IVYS.
    ‘study on evergreens, say – with one missing: CON+(I)VEYS.

  16. mike04 says:

    I meant to write CON+IVIES in the above comment!

  17. walruss says:

    Yes Tupu, but the noun meanings for single are not synonymous with ‘unit’, I think. No sore tusk today, and I don’t intend to appear ‘annoyed’! I probably am rather anal on clues though, which tend to be looser in the Guardian than in sat The Independent or Times. I think they should be jumped on at every turn!!

  18. William says:

    Thank you, Andrew.

    Can’t say I agree with Mike04 (#15/16) – CONVEYS still doesn’t work.
    Nor would a question mark (John #10) remedy this slightly tatty clue.

    I think Kathryn’s Dad (#8) is on the mark – it’s an uncharacteristic Gordius error.

    Otherwise, a fairly straightforward romp.

  19. stiofain says:

    Thanks Andrew for clearing up a few niggles I dont think Gordius is getting easier as such more so that he has tightened up his clueing a bit. The difficulty rating he deserved before was derived from loose and often simply wrong clueing.
    I agree with Finbar #13 about 9a this is one of my pet peeves. NI is a manufactured political entity whereas Ulster is one of the 4 ancient provinces of Ireland comprising the 6 counties currently designated NI and counties Donegal, Cavan and Monaghan.

  20. Stella Heath says:

    I can’t imagine Cornish pasties being used in any slimming diet, and was looking for synonyms for pies, tarts or pastries :(

    Other than that, a very quick solve for me today, despite (phone) interruptions.

    I agree with most of your quibbles, particularly as regards ‘use’ rather than ‘used’. Surely there was a clearer way to express this? – Nevertheless, it was one of the first answers I got

  21. tupu says:

    Hi Stella

    :) I think I parsed 13a accurately @12 though I misquoted the clue. You may well have missed it among my other wanderings, but perhaps you don’t buy it.

    said to be ‘put to some purpose’ i.e. said to be ‘x’ where x = ‘(to) put to some purpose’ = use = ewes.

  22. FumbleFingers says:

    @tupu & Stella
    This is where Google’s “quotated search term” is handy. Sometimes after mulling over a language issue, I start to mistrust my own judgement about whether it can (or does) ever actually occur. Sil got me really confused a few days ago re “cluing” and “clueing”, even though initially I thought I knew which was “right”.

    In this one I ended up wondering about “put to some purpose”, but Google confirms it’s often used to mean exactly use. So the clue seems perfectly-formed to me.

  23. Carrots says:

    Come on Gordius, you can do better than this! Ensconced at lunchtime with a riverside pint, I was looking forward to another whilst cracking your puzzle…but finished it before the first one was half empty.

    Incidentally, I got “LIST” for 22dn (Commons, house of,/Members List/Speakers` List/Public Bill List….etc. Any double up with “SHORT(LIST)” but can`t be bothered to argue the point. Let`s hope for something more challenging from the Old Wizard or his Apprentice tomorrow!

  24. Ian says:

    Thanks Andrew. No grumbles with this Gordius. Enjoyable yet relatively easy with the solving time my best this year so far at 16′.

  25. Chris says:

    No wonder you guys all finish in record times (16 min, 8 sec for RB probably) when you all use Scientific Assistance, that is Google. Don’t any of you download and solve with a pencil? This was a fairly good puzzle. If you’re finding things too easy, drop the tech.

  26. Scarpia says:

    Thanks Andrew.
    I enjoyed this one from Gordius.O.k., some of the clues were on the loose side but,hey,it’s Friday!
    I thought 25 across was excellent and read it pretty much like Kathryn’s Dad – definition;gives – wordplay study(con)Evergreens (fers -homophone of firs) with evergreens doing double duty for another way of getting the same answer (conifers with one missing).
    I’d always thought of a diabolo as a top and I think that use is fair in a cryptic definiton.
    Had to think a bit about 22 down – but it does work(for me at least).

  27. Bryan says:

    Many thanks Andrew and Yes – Chris (@ 25) – I always print out the puzzle. I hate the idea of doing it on-line or using any aids.

    That’s why I like this site: it helps me understand clues that I haven’t fully worked out – even where I’ve entered the correct solution.

  28. FumbleFingers says:

    I rarely use Google while I’m actually working on a puzzle, though I sometimes go there before after coming here. But if I’m stuck and it’s within arm’s reach I will check stuff in a paper or electronic dictionary.

    I expect if it’s practical most of us implement our own handicaps / advantages to balance the toughness of challenge and the probability of successful completion, according to personal taste.

  29. Sil van den Hoek says:

    Here’s another one who always prints out the pdf.
    Just like Bryan (#27) I hate on-line solving [and for that reason have no access to all these wonderful Indy puzzles – not completely true because my workplace has a subscription], although I am quite computer savvy.
    Only when I get really stuck Dictionaries and Google come in, but I still have a piece of paper in front of me.

    Anyway, thanks for mentioning my name twice today … :)
    tupu started again talking about single/unit.
    Yesterday, I thought, walruss was the only one who really understood my point – and I still agree with what he says in #17.
    Luckily, there was no such thing today with UNITY/One.

    And FumbleFingers, sorry to confuse you with cluing/clueing.
    I really don’t know what it should be, so I alternate most of the time.
    Nice though, your newly discovered hobby: writing parts of the post in bold :) [interested in how you can do that].

    And the crossword?
    Well, I don’t think this one was harder or easier than his recent puzzles, but I do think that – at least in this crossword – Gordius became sloppier again.
    Still, there were things to admire too.
    Especially most people’s favourites: 2d, 6d and 7d.

    Although the idea is nice, I think the workout of 18ac (ALSO) is a bit clumsy. Agree with Andrew [many thanks!!] about the double duty of ‘in’. Moreover I am not sure whether that little word ‘or’ should be there or not. Plus that in the current situation I would have preferred a question mark at the end.

    To describe OMNIVORE with ‘More vino drunk with his diet?’ is not really an &lit. Has an omnivore a diet? I thought he eats everything that’s on his way. And it is more about eating than drinking, so for me the clue doesn’t work.

    That said, it was an enjoyable though unremarkable solve.
    And surely not as easy as today’s Cincinnus in the FT [which, for once, made me realise what Rightback means with 6′ :)]

    Ah well, it must be Araucaria’s turn tomorrow, I guess

  30. FumbleFingers says:

    Hi Sil,

    The bold thingie is a bit off-topic – but I know you’re a bit of a night owl (or is it different time-zones?). So maybe you’ll get this, and maybe I won’t get ticked off for digressing…

    The XHTML crib-sheet above the “Leave a Reply” input box mentions “tag” text formatting strings you can use. When I first found this site a year or so ago I read some old discussions under General Chat and realised there was a broad range of opinions on the desirability of using emoticons 80 (as Gaufrid has reminded us a couple of days ago), so I thought “best not”. Actually that may only be the second time I’ve dared use one.

    But sometimes a bit of bold text seems less intrusive than constant “quote marks”, so I do tend to use them. It’s hard to write it here without the site’s XHTML parser reformatting my text, but I’ll try. There are probably several supported tags, but I only use strong. Just put LT / GT brackets around the <tag> to start the effect, and again with /tag to turn it off. And use “preview”!

    btw – whilst I agree it’s a bit quirky to associate OMNIVORE with people who might drink too much as well as eat anything, I can’t deny I associate the whole area with “gluttony”, so it worked for me until you made me think about it!

  31. FumbleFingers says:

    Bungled my second attempt at an emoticon! 8O

  32. Sil van den Hoek says:

    This looks like someone staring into the far distance, longing for an Araucaria ….

  33. Richard says:

    22dn was awful. Didn’t enjoy this. Today’s ARaucaria is much better.

  34. duncandisorderly says:

    finished today’s araucaria in 30 minutes or so, left me with nowt to do except go shopping with the mrs. :-/

  35. Knedlik says:

    7d squander = blow not blew. Blue should be squandered?

  36. Petero says:

    25A seems to me to be a reasonably respectable clue, interpreted, as Andrew did, as CON[I]FERS. Perhaps the confusion comes from the word ‘say’, which I believe is there not as a homophone indicator, but because ‘evergreen’ is not a definition of ‘conifer’. The larch is a deciduous conifer.

  37. Petero says:

    Knedlik, my little dumpling (little?), ‘to blow’ and ‘to blue’ are both synonyms for ‘to squander’.

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