Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 25085 – Gordius

Posted by Uncle Yap on August 10th, 2010

Uncle Yap.

Today’s offering from Gordius is not too complicated if you know a lot of not-so-well-known names as Gordius name-dropped left, right and centre. Without access to Google, I do not think I would be able to complete the puzzle as some of these names are not known to me.

1 SHAMPOO Cha of SHAM (artificial) POO (dog mess)
5 ANTACID Chambers gives FORMIC as relating to ants; containing or derived from formic acid, so you could cheekily say that Formic is acid of ants or antacid, which, incidentally is also a medical preparation for counteracting acidity of the stomach. I understand Rennie is a popular British brand of antacid tablets manufactured by SmithKline Beecham. First name dropped for this brilliant clue, my COD
9 TANGO ha
10 GALLSTONE Second name dropped of Asterix which I happen to know extremely well since I have the entire collection of The Adventures of Asterix The Gaul, a series of French comic books written by René Goscinny and illustrated by Albert Uderzo. Sounds like Gaul’s tone (Asterix’s voice)
11 ESTAMINET *(meat in set) a small bar or cafe
12 PERSE Allusion to per se ( by himself, etc; essentially; in itself)
13 YETIS Y (symbol for unknown in algebra) ETIS (rev of SITE, location)
15 SUPPLIANT Ins of I (one) in SUPPLANT (oust) for a humble petitioner or beggar
18 SUSPENDER Ins of US in SPENDER (Sir Stephen Harold Spender CBE, 1909–1995, was an English poet, novelist and essayist)
19 TUTSI T (time) + *(suit) a member of a Bantu speaking people living in Rwanda and Burundi
21 IDEAL Cha of I (one again) + DEAL, a town in Kent, England lying on the English Channel eight miles north-east of Dover and eight miles south of Ramsgate. Third name dropped
23 GERIATRIC Cha of GERI (Halliwell, British pop singer) Fourth name dropped + A + TRICK (knack) minus K
25 ANIMOSITY Ins of NI (Northern Ireland, Ulster) + OS (outsize or great) in AMITY (goodwill) with “lack of goodwill”as the def; Quite clever construction
26 REALM Ins of L (Roman numeral for 50) in REAM (a lot of sheets)
27 HASSLED *(lads she)
28 LOW GEAR dd

1 SATIETY SATIE (Fifth name dropped of Éric Alfred Leslie Satie,1866–1925, a French composer and pianist) + TY (TOTALLY without the middle letters or heartless)
2 ANNOTATED *(notes at an)
3 PROEM Ins of R (right) in POEM (verse) an introduction; a prelude; a preface.
4 ORGANISED Cha of ORGAN (the Guardian, for instance) IS ED (Alan Rusbridger, the Editor of the Guardian, sixth name dropped)
6 TEST PILOT TEST (Cricket match) + ins of I (one, used the third time in the same puzzle) in PLOT (plan) I have always been told by my crossword moderator, Dr Brian Skinner that one should use a device once and only once in a particular puzzle. repeating a device (unless it is a deliberate themal thingee) may not be wrong, but it is inelegant. I like the indirect def, whose flight is under scrutiny.
7 CHOIR Sounds like QUIRE (number of sheets)
8 DEEPEST Cha of DEE (river) PEST (plague)
14 STEEL WOOL *(lose towel)
16 PORTRAYAL PART (role) ROYAL (of sovereign) Swap A (one) in PART with O (nothing) in ROYAL. Quite clever and devious
17 ALTERNATE *(at eternal)
18 SPINACH *(an chips) with SAY as anagram indicator ????
20 INCOMER Cha of INCOME (earnings) R (right)
22 EMITS *(times)
23 GRIND Ins of N (name) in GRID (here, in this crossword puzzle) Well, Gordius did not find it too difficult to name-drop 6 times here.
24 ARROW (H) ARROW. I wonder whether arrow can be described as a weapon. We normally say a gun is a weapon but we do not say a bullet is a weapon, do we?

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

60 Responses to “Guardian 25085 – Gordius”

  1. grandpuzzler says:

    Thanks, Uncle Yap, for the excellent blog and specifically the explanation for GALLSTONE which I got but didn’t know why. My knowledge of French comic books is inadequate. Agree with your comment regarding anagram in 18D.

  2. NeilW says:

    Thanks, Uncle Yap. This is the second time in a row that Gordius has been less dreary than usual.

    I didn’t mind the misdirection of “say” as an anagrind. I liked 14dn, both for another unusual anagrind and also the elegant surface. Easy but nice.

  3. slipstream says:

    I parse 15 across as SUPPLICANT (beggar) dropping one . . . SUPPLIANT.

  4. Bryan says:

    Many thanks Uncle Yap

    PERSE completely flummoxed me but, otherwise, very enjoyable.

  5. NeilW says:

    slipstream, I see what you mean but I think UY is right. Either could be correct but I think oust = SUPPLANT and I = one is all too much to be accidental. Badly edited clue I think.

  6. molonglo says:

    Thanks Uncle Yap, especially for 1d which I got without knowing exactly why. I raced through the whole thing then, like Bryan, failed completely on PERSE, Anyone?

  7. tupu says:

    Thanks Uncle Yap and Gordius

    A good puzzle on the whole. I happened to know all the ‘names’ so I was lucky.

    Some fun clues inc. 5, 10, 14, 16, 23 (tichy in your terms?!).

    I was left vaguely dissatisfied with 2d (sledgehammer anagrind to crack an obvious anagram?), and I took a little time to agree that the amusing 28 works.

    It also took a little time to parse 25. I first wondered if ‘amosity’ was some obscure word. It does work but no doubt some will grumble re NI/Ulster.

    Meanwhile a slight grumble of my own. I approve your wording (a people) re 19. I am sure Gordius meant no harm and I know that ‘race’ is needed for the surface, but it has become a scientifically discredited term, and it is not an altogether felicitous choice in the recent and current context of Rwanda and Burundi.

    But this is of course crosswordland.

  8. Scarpia says:

    Thanks Uncle Yap.
    I really enjoyed this puzzle from Gordius.Some very clever clues,quite a few of which made me smile.
    As usual there were a few “chancy” clues,but they all worked o.k .for me.
    I managed to solve all but 12 across without aids,didn’t know meaning of PERSE(dark blue),but a totally fair and very good clue.

  9. Bryan says:

    Molongo @ 6

    perse = dark blue or bluish-grey; cloth of such a colour

    I shouldn’t really give the source in case it inspires other Setters (Yes, Paul, I was referring to you.) but here goes:

  10. Myrvin says:

    Like most, I never heard of 12 – but it is Chambers luckily. Last one in. Not really heard of 11.
    5d is a well-known student spelling mistake for ‘many’.
    Tried to find Rusbridger in Wikipedia – wasn’t in. So, he’s the G editor is he?
    I agree with Tupu about ‘race’ – I wondered about it at the time. I thought that surely nobody would describe the Tutsi as a ‘race’. And yet our old friend the OED has for WATUSI (the same people) “The name of a minority racial group in Rwanda and Burundi, probably of Ethiopic or Nilotic origin”.
    Galling, as that little Frenchman might say.

  11. Myrvin says:

    … I should have said that Ian R does not have a main entry in Wikip – he is referred to in other pages.

  12. Myrvin says:

    .. Alan R

  13. Jack says:

    Myrvin #10&11

    Don’t know who the Ian R is to whom you refer ~ but if you ‘google’ RUSBRIDGER the first entry returned is the wikipedia entry for Alan Rusbridger!

  14. Scarpia says:

    Bryan @9.
    Thanks very much for the link – what a brilliant site!

  15. tupu says:

    Hi Myrvin
    Thanks. Part of the problem (both political and otherwise) is that the Tutsi like to think of themselves as racially quite different and have a history of exaggerating their distinctive features and qualities. It is visually pretty clear that they are in part descendants of north-eastern immigrants. Although it is an expression with its own problems, ‘ethnic group’ (or ‘people’ as UY uses) allows more room for important cultural and social factors.

  16. Myrvin says:

    Jack. Quite right. I missed him. But he was second when I did it. (That’s no excuse!)

  17. liz says:

    Thanks for the blog, Uncle Yap. A better Gordius than usual I thought, but I was familiar with all the names which made things easier. PERSE was my last one and rang a very distant bell.

  18. Stella Heath says:

    Hi Myrvin

    He was 2nd when I looked him up too, and didn’t really help much in solving the clue, either, but at least we now know who he is, should he ever crop up again :)

    A few clues here went in straight away, as they are becoming crossword clichés: ‘realm’, ‘spinach’, ‘annotated’, the ‘quire’-‘choir’ homophone…

    Others, on the other hand were totally new to me, though etymologically not unfamiliar and easy to get from the word play: ‘proem’, ‘perse’ – I knew of Persian blue from the year I worked in an art shop, but had never before seen this form.

    As for names, my husband being a megalomaniac, I had heard of Satie, and Astérix is my all-time favourite comic hero. We also have the whole collection, UY, including the latest out, though I can’t remember what it’s called. It’s not the same since Goscinny died, but still..

    Funny thing is, I’d got over half way through the across clues with nothing solved, and about ten minutes later, I was almost finished. I don’t time myself – I wouldn’t half done before I got ME, but nowadays it’s pointless – but this did seem a quick solve after an unpromising beginning.

  19. otter says:

    Morning, all. Thanks for the blog, Uncle Yap.

    I found this mostly straightforward, although as I started top left, I thought it was going to be a toughie. Clicked on a few clues I found difficult to make head or tail of, before TANGO and then ANNOTATES got me going and led me to the bottom left. I then worked my way around, most clues going in pretty quickly.

    Was confused about ‘say’ as an anagram indicator. Is this usual/accepted? I see UY has queried it.

    PORTRAYAL was a clever clue, and I loved the pun in ANTACID, which I got straight away. GALLSTONE got a groan of admiration from me for the pun, after having held me up for a few minutes. (A fellow Astérix lover, especially in French.)

    I twice miscounted the letters in anagrams so wrote down the wrong letters from which to form the solution, which stumped me in both cases for a while. (Dur.)

    Back to the top left, with more connecting letters I put in ESTAMINET (I’d written down getmeatin rather than meatinset for the anagram), then got SATIETY. SHAMPOO had me stumped because I was focused on ‘dog’, which seems superfluous. Then wrote in PROEM, although it’s a word I don’t know, as it fit the clue. Gave up with PERSE incomplete. I think I may have heard of the colour in the dim and distant past, but have forgotten it.

    Stella, are you a fellow ME sufferer then?

  20. Eileen says:

    PORTRAYAL was, indeed a clever clue: by one of those weird coincidences we keep seeing, it appears in today’s Times puzzle, and, even more spookily, it’s clued in a similar way: ‘depiction of former Jamaican capital – note, not old’.

  21. Finbar says:

    I Agree with Uncle Yap, arrows are ammunition not weapons; “say” should not be used as an anagram indicator and, having grown up there, Northern Ireland is a part of Ulster and therefore cannot be used an an equivalent to it.

  22. John says:

    I don’t think supplicant comes into 15 ac. If it does there’s no definition, since “beggar” is part of the wordplay, and “occupant” doesn’t equate to SUPPLIANT.
    What’s the “holding up” doing in 4 dn?

  23. Derek Lazenby says:

    Hard work and most certainly not gadget free.

    I know one should take the web with a pinch of salt, but Wiktionary gives perse as purple, not blue. No wonder it was the one I didn’t get despite the gadgets.

  24. tupu says:

    Hi John

    Simply refers to being underneath and ‘supporting’? (is + ed under ‘organ’).

  25. Stella Heath says:

    Hi Otter

    Yes, for the past 13 years.

    Finbar, my bridge partner at Uni was from Northern Ireland, and grew up during the Troubles. He, an Irish protestant, befriended me, an English Catholic, which more than one person at the time found bizarre – but I don’t recall him ever having an issue with Ulster=Northern Ireland, and they were often equated in news stories at the time.

    John, you are right, the word is ‘suppliant’ as in: ‘Behold, a suppliant at your feet I lie..’ (Iolanthe, G&S)

  26. Stella Heath says:

    Sorry, misquote, I remember now it’s ‘I kneel’, not ‘I lie’.

    It sounded odd as I wrote it. :(

  27. Roger says:

    Thanks Uncle Yap for your thorough explanations.

    Managed to get 9a (WoTAN GOd) easily enough but then wondered whether “The Ring” was meant to indicate anything further (other than the obvious reference to Wagner ~ or maybe even that ‘Wotan, God’ rings ‘tango’ ?!) in that the answer also ends in ‘O’.
    Went a-googling for a god called Tang but apart from the Dynasty (were they really considered gods ?) only came up with an obscure Chinese peak called God Tang.
    All pretty pointless probably, but good fun looking.

    Oh … and I guess your third name drop was Spender (18a) and not Deal !

  28. John says:

    Thanks tupu. I see that the “holding up” is there the surface, although the clue works equally well without it.

  29. Myrvin says:

    Stella. I think I was looking for the first name of Rumsfeld or someone else. So I wasn’t set for the editor. Anyway, it worked without the knowledge.

  30. Myrvin says:

    Roger. I think I have noticed that setters put several extra words following (or before) a hidden clue.
    They can argue (I suppose) that the solution is hidden in the phrase.
    I don’t like it, it seems like laziness.
    tupu: You know a great deal about the Tutsis.

  31. NeilW says:

    Myrvin: it’s always considered bad form to add extra words in the hidden answer clues. The real skill is to hide in plain sight!

  32. PeterL says:

    Hi Stella

    Whilst your Bridge Partner and some of the press may not have a problem with Ulster and Northern Ireland being one and the same, they are plainly not. Ulster is a province of Ireland containing nine counties, only six of which constitute what is now known as Northern Ireland.

  33. NeilW says:

    I suppose Gordius would justify “of the Ring” as some kind of hidden answer indicator but it doesn’t work for me.

  34. Stella Heath says:

    Hi PeterL

    Thanks for clearing that up. I don’t want to polemicise on what is obviously a sensitive question, but presumably the nine counties are all northern (without caps.) Ireland?

  35. walruss says:

    I should thionk The Lord of the Rings is the Olympic supremo, whoever that is. And the NI = Ulster thing is juyst wrong.

  36. Stella Heath says:

    Hugh Stevenson take note: this is not the first time the ‘NI doesn’t=Ulster’ theme has come up

  37. cholecyst says:

    Thanks Uncle Yap. Why do people not like Gordius’s puzzles? This was fun. I especially liked 10 ac GALLSTONES, but then, I would, wouldn’t I?

  38. tupu says:

    John @28
    You are right – it works as a simple charade. So this and, perhaps, 9a (see below & others’ comments) are a bit wordy.

    Roger et al
    I didn’t think too hard about 9a. I suppose the Ring reference smooths the surface and misleads a little into the bargain. Apart from Wagnerian connotations, I also suppose the phrase in part or whole ‘rings’ the answer. But reading it after ‘dance’ (as def) up to ‘of the’, and then seeing ‘ring’ as a solving hint seems a bit odd.

  39. tupu says:

    John @28
    ps. Perhaps 4d and 18a should be linked – quite different meanings of ‘hold up’.

  40. Brigadier Carruthers says:

    I looked at 28 across for ten minutes and couldn’t see anything. Made a cuppa nad “just saw” it immediately when I picked the thing up again.

  41. Roger says:

    tupu ~ (Ref. Myrvin @30) ~ were you a podiatrist in a previous life ?

  42. Maurice says:

    Can someone explain the use of the ellipsis in 1d and 2d. I have never understood them and can’t see how they add to the clues.

  43. Gaufrid says:

    Sometimes ellipses are used when there is a link or connection between the two clues and/or answers. On other occasions, such as in this instance, the ellipses simply join the two clues together so that the combined surface reading makes some sort of sense.

  44. stiofain says:

    Although Gordius is my least favourite setter I will concede his last few puzzles have been much better and was quite enjoying this until I came to the galling inaccuracy of clueing ni as Ulster, one of my pet peeves in xwords. Ulster is one of the 4 ancient kingdoms of Ireland dating from before written history while NI is a manufactured political entity less than a hundred years old. It is like clueing the letters ESP (spain) as Iberia or BEL as Benelux. Stella I too hope Hugh is looking in and doesnt let this through in the future.
    Stiofain (in Belfast, North East Ireland)

  45. Roger says:

    Hi Maurice ~
    As Gaufrid comments, the dots do sometimes have their uses but more often than not I too can’t see the point of them and find that they can be safely ignored.
    Having said that, in these clues there is arguably a connection of sorts in that a composer (1d) is one who writes notes (2d) so perhaps in this case they may be an extra trick designed to mislead as much as anything else.

  46. Sil van den Hoek says:

    Nice Gordius, indeed.
    And as ever, a handful of posters who tell us “that they enjoyed this Gordius more than they usually do”.
    I have been critical in the past, but – apart from one or two [or indeed, sometimes more] dodgy things – there is lightness (and cleverness) that does appeal, like in 10ac (GALLSTONE) or 16d (PORTRAYAL).

    One or two dodgy things?
    Well, all right then.
    We are not a fan of this kind of ellipsis, where there is no constructional link – and I think we’re not the only ones.
    And ‘menu’ as the anagrind to make a sort of &lit in 11ac?

    Having only – – – – S in 22d, I thought it had to EMITS.
    But my PinC was sure about ITEMS … well, why not?
    Did no-one else think of that?

    And for the second day in a row (after yesterday’s Rufus) a word that was identical (or just about) to a word in one of the recent Prize Puzzles – including an identical construction.
    But I can’t say more of course.

  47. john goldthorpe says:

    I thought this was one of Gordius’s best, and that Uncle Yap’s suggestion of undue and difficult name-dropping is a bit unfair. None of the names was all that obscure – as compared, say, with the four Masters of the King’s [or Queen’s] Music(k)that we had recently, albeit in a competition puzzle. How many of us had heard of even one of them?

  48. tupu says:

    Hi Sil
    Thanks as usual for the stimulus of your comments. :) I hope you and pic don’t mind if I rise once again to the bait.

    Why not items? Firstly does it fit the definition well? Secondly does it fit the CROSSword? I am always a bit puzzled about the wish to to be able to solve the clues without reference to the crossing words. Emits and items are both anagrams of times. So is mites. But it isn’t hard to see which is correct.

    Of course as we have seen recently, we sometimes find a clear answer and contested parsing (cf. mantra the other day). Often enough, however, it becomes clear which is better – I seem to back the wrong one a little too often for my liking and wish I could learn to automatically mistrust my judgment in such cases. I must try to remember that the old Soviet quip ‘I have my own opinions but I don’t agree with them’ makes wider sense than its original context.

  49. Sil van den Hoek says:

    Don’t worry, tupu.
    I am not going to start another long discussion (although thát would be fun).
    [btw, on hindsight, I completely misunderstood you in the ‘stalker’ affair, and I will put a final comment in that Chifonie blog – that’s good to know, isn’t it? :) ]

    Of course, I see that only EMITS fits ‘here’ (which is according to 23d the ‘grid’), but as I said, we had at that time four blanks and the final S.
    “Emits and items are both anagrams of times. So is mites”
    Yes, but ‘mites’ is nonsense and ‘items’ isn’t.

    An item is rather close (though, of course, not synonymous) to an issue (as nouns).
    In the sense of information given or topics for discussion.
    Therefore, I have to defend my PinC and I think, rightly so.
    Even though you (and probably others) may disagree.
    I am not so sure if the intended answer would have been ITEMS, whether there would many people criticising that – even if I had EMITS myself.

  50. tupu says:

    Hi Sil
    Re items – some are issues and some are not, so it is I think ultimately a bit too vague – but I agree it is not senseless.
    I look forward to seeing your comment. I am aware I don’t always make myself clear. Also as I commented in 59 re stalker, such matters are not easy to talk about without ambiguity.

  51. taxiphil says:

    Because I got bogged down in the “names”, and hadn’t read any Tolkien (not my bag at all !), I spoiled an otherwise pleasing performance by anagramming “Wotan” as “Tanwo”. Doh ! !

  52. Davy says:

    Thanks Uncle Yap,

    I totally agree with john (#47) and didn’t think any of the name drops were remotely obscure. An enjoyable puzzle from Gordius which was a reasonable challenge. I didn’t think there were any outstanding clues but if pushed I would nominate 16d (PORTRAYAL) as the best and 28a (LOW GEAR) as the worst.

  53. Paul B says:


  54. Sil van den Hoek says:

    Not sure what you mean, Paul, but it’s an anagram of: “Ah! B!”

  55. Bill K says:

    I knew “perse”, having attended the Perse School in Cambridge many (blue) moons ago. The school motto is “qui facit per alium facit per se”, an abstruse pun which had us all guffawing into our inedible lunches.

    I only mention this because Cambridge is, of course, thoroughly light blue, and I wonder whether Gordius might have been alluding to this in his clue.

  56. tupu says:

    Hi Paul B
    :) As the old joke about the circus clown has it ‘Now that’s repartee!’ I imagine you chose your word carefully!

  57. Davy says:

    Re #53,

    Is Bah an abbreviation of ‘Bah, humbug!.’ as often said by Scrooge or does it mean something else ?.
    Also, does it relate to my comment which precedes it or does it relate to the puzzle in general ?.
    Come on Paul, give us a clue !.

  58. El Stano says:

    Talking of alternative answers (emits), I had “leg over” for 28 until 24 and 17 spoiled it!

  59. Huw Powell says:

    PERSE? Thanks, Uncle Yap, but you didn’t explain why it is “dark blue”. It is not included in my version of the internet.

    Yeah, fun, slow puzzle, but 12A left me blank and still does. Oh well, every day is different!

  60. Uncle Yap says:

    Huw Powell at 59
    My Chambers defines
    adj dark blue or bluish-grey.
    n such a colour; a cloth of such colour.
    I would normally not give a definition of a definition unless the def is indirect or obscure

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