Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 25070 / Enigmatist

Posted by mhl on July 23rd, 2010


As usual, a tough but entertaining and clever puzzle from Enigmatist. I can’t parse a couple of them, I’m afraid, so please help out in the comments below if you understand them. (Resolved now, thanks!) Thanks to Andrew for pointing out that the long clues here relate to a happy annoucement elsewhere here!

5. A TRIFLE A = “advanced” + TRIFLE = “sweet”
9. RELIC RC = “catholic” around ELI = “Biblical teacher”; the definition is “What’s old”
10,24,1. HAVING ONE WIFE TOO MANY (HONEYMOONING FATWA IVE)*; referring to the quotation attributed to Oscar Wilde: “Bigamy is having one wife too many, monogamy is the same”. The first of the two long clues, both relating to (rather sexist) epigrams about marriage. In case you missed this in the preamble, the joke is that Enigmatist himself is getting married today :)
11. CAPRICORNS CS = “Gas” around APRICO[t] = “endless fruit” + RN = “service”; the definition (“babies at Christmas”) is nice, but rather tricky
12. SAME SA = “It” + ME = “Enigmatist”; a nice joke that both parts of the clue are the same as well
18. ZOOPLANKTON (LOOK TO ZAP + N + N)*; the two Ns are “News”; the definition is “drifting life forms”
21. MOON MO = “Second” + ON = “leg” (in cricket); “to moon” is “to expose one’s buttocks”
25. THALIDONE (INHALED TO)*; I’ve never heard of this, but apparently it’s a drug that can control blood pressure (“BP”)
26. CHUTE Sounds like “shoot”
27. SHYNESS SHY = “attempt” + NESS = “head”; the definition is “Bashful’s quality”
1. THRACE I don’t get this one, I’m afraid: “In this old region you can’t see the death of the nation” I’m obviously not with it today – thanks to sidey who points out that this is just TH[e] = “you can’t see the death of the” + RACE = “nation”
2. OXLIPS XLI = “Forty-one” in OPS = “[operating] theatre jobs”
4. YAHOO Double definition, “Means by which to search” referring to the website Yahoo
5. ADVENTIST A DENTIST = “person with a drill” around V = “this number” (it’s clue 5d)
6. RING Double definition
8. EXEGESES G[u]E[s]SES = “Estimates losing us” after EXE = “southwest banker”
16. AZIMUTHS A ZIT = “a spot” around MU = “letter” + H[a]S = “has extremist”; the definition is “angles from the Observer’s point of view”
17. MONOGAMY I don’t understand the subsidiary, I’m afraid: “high record flipped” Thanks to aloo2 for pointing out that GAMY = “high” and MONO = “record”; I wondered about the latter, but haven’t heard MONO to mean a record before…
19. PSEUDO DUES = “subscription” in OP = “work” reversed
23. OVERT OVER = “in the course of” + T = “time”

41 Responses to “Guardian 25070 / Enigmatist”

  1. sidey says:

    High is GAMY, record is MONO as opposed to stereo I suppose, flipped as records were.

  2. Andrew says:

    I’m carefully avoiding reading the answers as I haven’t done the puzzle yet, but Enigmatist is getting married today (see the Announcements category) and his puzzles are appearing in many of the broadsheets (IO in the FT, Nimrod in the Independent.) Congrats to John & Jane.

  3. aloo2 says:

    re Thrace. I took it as death meaning “END OF” GIVING TH(E)RACE = NATION

  4. rrc says:

    Another enigimatist which I gave up on, not least in 25across which is not in Chambers either on line or not 12a and 28. A range of clues I do not understand,11a 1d, although I did like 6d 3d 22a 14a and 12d albeit they are all anagrams.

  5. Myrvin says:

    25a very naughty – and I have hypertension. Not in Wikipedia either.
    Is 28 etc a quote?
    12a I still do not get. Why does SA = ‘it’? But I wish I’d seen the cross-reference.
    I’m happyish with MONO being a type of recording. A mono record.
    I think they prefer BELARUS nowadays.

  6. Bryan says:

    Many thanks mhl I gave up on this and I’m glad I did.

    Surely if THALIDONE is not in Chambers then it’s illegal?

  7. Ian W. says:

    Lovely puzzle. Took ages to get enough checking letters to suss the two long answers, at which point everything tumbled into place, and every clue satisfying.

    Mono for record is clear, but gamy for high is new to me. In what sense is it “high”?

  8. Myrvin says:

    Gamey: Chambers has “having the flavour of game, especially that kept till tainted”. I know it as GAMEY.
    Looked for the 28 quote. There’s a Thurber one, which is close, but doesn’t say “a man can eat”.

  9. molonglo says:

    This was often annoying, and not just the last one in, 25A, which I only got via the Mayo Clinic website, looking for drugs to control blood pressure that fitted T-A-I-O-E. 5A – “advanced”? 12A was an indulgence, only got by resorting, very grudgingly, to Google which revealed the Huxley quote explaining 28A – I already had “dangerous” for 15D. 18A – two Ns =news! Despite that several clues were good ones, among which 21A and 26 A, second last one in.

  10. mhl says:

    Myrvin: SA = “sex appeal”, which is “it” – a bit dated, but still used frequently in crosswords.

    Ian W.: I think it’s “high” in the sense that meat might be “high” when it’s been hung too long – it would be excessively gamy…

    Bryan: Hugh Stephenson’s standard is that it has to appear in one of Collins, Chambers or the Oxford Dictionary of English (n.b. not the OED)? – we only took Chambers when moving abroad, so I couldn’t tell you if it’s in one of the others.

    ? ?,,2261802,00.html

  11. mhl says:

    (The question marks there were a superscript number – fine in the preview, sigh…)

  12. Myrvin says:

    28: Can’t see it in Google as a Huxley quote. There is an American proverb to the same effect, and the Thurber one.

  13. Martin H says:

    Some very good clues, but a few gripes nonetheless: SA/IT is just crummy by now, as is ‘banker’= river, which has appeared three times recently, and should be eradicated before it really takes hold; ‘mono’ might refer to a vinyl record, but nobody ever said “a mono” (or “to mono”); ‘h(a)s extremist’ is iffy; Belorussia has gone, so perhaps blouse WAS confused with sari; and Enigmatist has an obscurantist streak which leads him to give us some interesting words sometimes, but Thalidone: come off it!

    Otherwise some great stuff. Thanks Enigmatist, and all the best to you and Jane.

  14. Myrvin says:

    Mono. Chambers has: “Mono noun a monaural gramophone record”.

  15. liz says:

    Thanks, mhl. I enjoyed this and the wedding references, though I found it very tough in places. Congratulations to John and Jane!

    Didn’t get 25ac or 26ac. When the cheat button gave THALIDONE I wondered if the wordplay involved something like ‘putting A LID ON’ as a means of controlling an oil spill…

  16. don says:


  17. don says:


    (INHALED TO)* + T?A?I?O?E + “Eileen’s dispensation” = Solved

  18. walruss says:

    I would like to stand up for SA as ‘it': very neat in clues, almost invisible!

  19. Eileen says:

    Some people’s memories are too long!

    Nothing to add to comments except thanks to mhl for an excellent blog of a tough puzzle and my congratulations to Jane and John. I hope the sun’s shining where they are!

  20. NeilW says:

    Thanks mhl.

    THALIDONE was the last for me too – I know the drug well, although normally as Chlorthalidone, but was so sure that this was going to be a pangram that I spent ages trying to shoehorn the only missing letters, J and Q, into the unchecked spaces! Very silly in retrospect.

  21. molonglo says:

    Myrvin @ 12. You’re right, it was Thurber.

  22. Mr. Jim says:

    Thanks to mhl, and thanks (and congratulations) to the setter.

    Ironically for all the trouble people had getting THALIDONE, I looked at the clue and immediately thought “BP = blood pressure”, “device for controlling it” = HEART, and promptly put in ADENOSINE. D’oh.

    It would be nice if Enigmatist gave us a long clue that wasn’t an anagram once in a while though.

  23. Lizzie says:

    Lovely puzzle. Also marriage-themed (as Nimrod) in the Independent today!

  24. FumbleFingers says:


    Without wishing be a damper on Enigmatist’s happy day, I wasn’t too impressed.

    Doubtless many would instantly see 10,24,1 just from Wilde, bigamy, and the letter pattern, even without knowing of the impending nuptials. For others it must have been just an excessively long and contrived anagram. The same goes for the no-longer-funny quote about the dangers of eating wedding cake (I think I’m more tired of hearing the best man trot that one out than I am of eating the blessed stuff!)

    Google shows just 189 results for THALITONE, as opposed to 1490 for THALIDONE, which in my book makes that a contrived anagram too.

    Whilst there were several decent clues, I just found the whole thing parochial and self-indulgent.

  25. Myrvin says:

    I took a look at the Indy version. The steamiest crossword I’ve ever seen. Then I don’t read Private Eye.

  26. Stella Heath says:

    My congratulations to the happy couple – I’m surprised John had the presence of mind . or the energy – to dream up such a complicated puzzle on the eve of his great day.

    The only one I didn’t get eventually was ‘Capricorns’, which I cheated on to get me into the NW corner, as I only had 1a.

    25a was my last entry, when it occured to me that BP could be blood pressure, and a superficial look reminded me of certain poor babies of the ’70’s, so that at first I wrote ‘thalidome’, which checked wrong, of course.

    After finding it, I was looking for the same sort of thing as Liz @15

    Thanks for the blog, mhl. You’ve done very well with a tough one

  27. William says:

    Thank you mhl. Not an easy blog I’m sure.

    I’m not sufficiently in ‘the know’ to know that Enigmatist is John – but my hearty congratulations to him nonetheless.

    A belter of a puzzle which had to be teased out piece by piece. I failed on THALIDONE which I don’t really mind about except that I failed to spot the blood pressure reference, and that’s the gem which just about makes the clue OK in my book.

    Congratulations to all who finished it.

  28. muck says:

    Good one Enigmatist! Is someone getting married?

  29. Carrots says:

    A long attritional slog, eventually hard won. (A bit, some might say, like marriage itself!). I had to Google THALIDONE and guessed ZOOPLANKTON, with only the latter part of the word ever having been heard of. The second long clue eventually fell into place, although I had no idea what it refers to and still don`t.

    Not exactly a celebratory puzzle then, but let us hope that The Enigmatists will continue to challenge and delight us again once their honeymoon is over.

    PS I wish I had Jane`s hair…it would match my pseudonym nicely!!

  30. Tom Hutton says:

    Is the crossword editor on holiday? Many of the crosswords this week have been peculiar. What place has thalitone in a daily crossword? What with foul language, duff football references and old people’s drug regimes, this week has raised my blood pressure considerably. I don’t care for the conceit of having two self referential clues like 28ac and 14ac.

    Can someone explain how cast=shoot? To me, casting is using the arm and shooting is using a machine of some sort.

    The crossword today would have been easier for us in the outer darkness perhaps, if we had been in on the wedding reference from the start.

  31. Median says:

    Having read the announcement recently, as soon as I saw Enigmatist was today’s setter I suspected there would be a marriage theme. Spotted a few wedding-y words in the clues so, yep, that had to be it. However, this instant insight didn’t get me very far. But then Enigmatist doesn’t do easy, does he? The gigantic anagrams were, I thought, even more clever than usual. Several clues were a bit of a slog but, for once, I was content to slog.

    Congratulations to John and Jane. Hope you never have cross words. :)

  32. Scarpia says:

    Thanks mhl.
    This must have been tough to blog,it was certainly difficult to solve.I very nearly gave up with 2 to go.Having misspelt BELORUSSIA,I was left with A***T for 23 down.A re-check corrected that,so OVERT was pretty obvious.Only managed to get THALIDONE with the help of Crossword Solver .
    I don’t usually like to do this but I had trawled through Chambers to no avail,so it was either that or use the online cheat facility.
    The long anagrams I worked out the hard way as I could not find either in my Dictionary of Quotations.
    Notwithstanding all that,I thought this was a great puzzle,difficult,but well worth persevering with.
    Many excellent clues with lots of misleading wordplay.Favourites being 11 across and 5 and 16 down.

    Congratulations to Enigmatist and Jetdoc.

  33. Finbar says: is a very useful resource, especially its wordfinding feature which found Thalidone and confirmed gamy. I know it’s cheating a little, but so is using an obscure word such as Thalidone as an answer in the first place.

  34. Myrvin says:

    For UK people with a library card, the whole of the OED could be available. It has a search facility too.

  35. Tuck says:

    I’ve been guilty of criticising the Enigmatist’s puzzles in the past for being very difficult without much reward when solved, but I thought was truly delighful, with some beautifully clever devices. I enjoyed every minute of the couple of hours it took me to solve!

  36. Uncle Yap says:

    One of the most enjoyable and entertaining puzzles ever once the WEDDING CAKE was baked / solved. The Thurber quote really cracked me up. Surely solvers hazard a guess at a long answer first and then try to justify it by looking at the letters and deciding which are relevant; or at least that’s the reverse way I do it.

    John & Jane, congratulations. Now Genesis 1:22

  37. Henry says:

    One wonders whether Messrs Hutton and Fumblefingers would have found any pleasure in the late Bunthorne’s puzzles, which frequently relied on a long, self-referential anagram. As for a warning about the wedding, I think the “Appeal of Bells” article earlier in the week was quite a good sign.

    And given the monumental task of providing five puzzles suitable for inclusion in the broadsheets for one special day, I am prepared to forgive Enigmatist a few indulgences.

  38. Gerry says:

    Couldn’t get Thalidone, an obscure brand name isn’t fun. Didn’t matter as I didn’t get chute either, or ‘food’ and ‘eat’ in 28 ac. Annoying when I did get azimuths and exegeses. What a waste!

  39. tupu says:

    Thanks mhl and Enigmatist.
    Eventually finished last night after a number of short assaults during a busy day.

    Overall an excellent teaser of a puzzle. Oddly I missed the SA/it link in 12a – the answer was obvious and I assumed the mere repetition was enough to give it.

    I guessed Thalidone and then googled it to get immediate confirmation. Apart from this a VG clue with the misleading up to date ref. to BP.

    Too many other good clues to list.

  40. Bannsider says:

    Very good puzzle indeed. I am ashamed I missed the wedding cake quote, but the clue was perfectly fair and THALIDONE guessable – at a pinch!
    It is def BELARUS, these days not BELORUSSIA, but what the hell

    Thanks to Enigmatist for all 5 puzzles.

  41. maarvarq says:

    I didn’t even bother reading all of the explanation for this puzzle, as it was obscurity heaped upon obscurity as far as I was concerned.

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