Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian Quiptic 567 / Don Putnam

Posted by Pierre on September 27th, 2010

I thought this was a sound puzzle for those at the start of their cryptic solving careers. Some straightforward solves to get you going with some crossing letters, and then the rest falling into place with a bit of pencil-chewing.  I’ve tried to give full explanations for the solutions to help newer solvers.

There was one solution I wasn’t entirely comfortable with, but there were a couple as well that I thought were very cleverly constructed.

Definitions come from the Shorter Oxford English Dictionary (SOED). Its big brother has a cameo at 25 across.


9 OVERREACH A charade of OV (half of OVid), ERR (sin) and EACH (separately).

10 IGLOO A charade of I (first person) and GLOO (near darkness, being most of GLOOM). In grammar, ‘I’ is the first person singular, as opposed to ‘you’ (second person) and ‘he/she/it’ (third person).

11 SLUMBER A charade of S (Sunday) and LUMBER, ‘move in a clumsy or blundering manner’. S as an abbreviation for Sunday? When I started doing cryptics I was constantly surprised at the range of abbreviations used by setters. It’s not in the SOED, but I suppose that on little calendars you’ll see Sunday abbreviated to ‘S’. In fact, if you cast your eyes to the top right of this very webpage, you’ll see an example.

12 LUCKNOW A charade of LUCK (success) and NOW (right away). Not perhaps the best known of cities, but the setter’s kindly told you that it’s in Northern India, so fair play.

13 IVAN Ivan IV, aka Ivan the Terrible, a Russian Tsar and a nasty piece of work by all accounts. A charade of I (one) and VAN (VANity with the second half missing).

14 AMBIVALENT Our first anagram (running around) of LIVE BANTAM. For me, ‘ambivalent’ means having contradictory feelings about something, so ‘hesitating’ wouldn’t be my first choice of synonym.

16 INHUMAN An insertion of HUM (half of HUMped) and A (one) in INN (pub). Personally I didn’t dwell too long on the image that the surface reading conjured up here. The hyphen just about saves it.

17 TAKINGS A charade of TA (thanks) and KINGS (monarchs).

19 EVEN-HANDED A cryptic definition, I suppose, but unless I’m missing something, it doesn’t quite work for me.

22 INCA Hidden in (somewhat) INCApable. As well as the people, INCA also refers to their sovereign (I learned this morning).

24 NUDISTS An insertion (cracked) of DIS (SID turned round) in NUTS. ‘Nuts cracked’ made for a nice surface.

25 OMITTED Insertion of MITT in OED, the Oxford English Dictionary, the daddy of them all.

26 SONGS Insertion of NG (no good) in SOS.

27 LEAF-GREEN An anagram of FEEL ANGER. This was my last to go in, and even then I couldn’t see why. A very cleverly disguised anagram indicator (makes you) and a fine clue.


1 LOWSPIRITEDNESS A cryptic definition, which works okay, but I’m not convinced about the word. Even when I saw that the middle letters were SPIRIT, I still couldn’t see it. Neither it, nor any of its potential derivatives, are in the SOED, but I suppose it’s a word. Anyone else feel it’s a bit clunky or is it just me?

2 BEQUEATH I thought this was a very clever clue, and my favourite today, but it’s perhaps a tough one for a less experienced solver. The definition is ‘will’ (‘transitive verb, to leave instructions in one’s will or testament; bequeath by terms of a will’). It’s a charade of BE, QUE (half QUEasy) and an anagram (funny) of HAT.

3 BRIBE An insertion (holding) of RIB in BE. I don’t think I’ve come across the rib = wife connection before in a crossword, but it’s from Genesis 2:21, where God takes one of Adam’s ribs and makes a woman out of it. Clever stuff.

4 DAIRYMAN An anagram (coming from) MAIN YARD.

5 CHILLI An insertion (going round) of HILL in CI (Roman numerals for 101).

6 GIMCRACKS A charade of GIM (Jim, they say, in other words a homophone) and CRACKS (splits). ‘A useless ornament; a knick-knack.’ Not a word perhaps in most people’s active vocabulary, and with the two devices in the clue (three if you count the move from James to Jim) maybe a bit difficult for a beginners’ puzzle.

7 BLONDE An insertion (wants to take) of LON (half of LONdon) into BDE, an anagram (untidy) of BED.

8 NOTWITHSTANDING A cryptic definition, and one I liked when I finally saw it.

15 EMPHASISE Our first (and only) double definition: the word can mean to highlight, and in language, to mark a stress pattern.

17 TEETOTAL Definition is ‘dry’. A charade of TEE (as in tee-shirt) and TOTAL (as in 2 and 2 makes/totals 4).

18 NINETIES A cryptic definition: more than eight cravats is NINE TIES.

20 ENDING The S is removed (don’t start) from SENDING. Denouement: ‘the final resolution of a play, novel or other narrative’.  As you’d guess, it comes from the French dénouer, to unknot.

21 NESTLE A charade of NEST (bed) and LE (half LEft). Is Nestle a chocolate? It’s a firm that makes them, no? This ‘half’ device is clearly Mr P’s favourite one, used no fewer than six times in this puzzle.

23 BINGO A simple charade of BING (Bing Crosby, the famous crooner) and O (nothing).

9 Responses to “Guardian Quiptic 567 / Don Putnam”

  1. Gaufrid says:

    Hi Pierre
    Regarding your comment about S = Sunday in 11ac, I cannot find this abbreviation in Chambers or Collins either. However, Chambers does have S = Sabbath which could be Saturday or Sunday (or even Friday!).

    Chambers gives JIMCRACKS as a variant spelling for 6dn, though this is not in Collins or COED, so the homophone could have been avoided.

    Both Chambers and Collins have LOW-SPIRITEDNESS, but only hyphenated.

    I agree with your quibble about 21dn. ‘Name of chocolate manufacturer’ would be more accurate.

  2. Eileen says:

    Hi Pierre – and thanks for the blog.

    Well, at least this Quiptic fulfils its brief.

    We’ve had the S for Sunday discussion several times – if it’s good enough for the 15² calendar … :-)

    The two definitions in 15dn are rather too close for me and I agree with you re AMBIVALENT and EVEN-HANDED.

  3. Stella Heath says:

    Thanks for stepping in, Pierre. Your observations are accurate and well posed, with the only exception that this is not the first time I’ve seen ‘rib’ for ‘wife’.

    I generally rather enjoy Mr. Putnam’s puzzles, but I would appreciate an explanation of 19ac., if anyone has one.

  4. Derek Lazenby says:

    Good job we started this blog. Yet again finishing didn’t necessarily equate with understanding in a few cases.

    Dodgy bits as already mentioned.

    For once it didn’t take longer than the cryptic, mainly due to the latter being Brendan. Had it been Rufus it would have been a close call.

    So, at last a proper Quiptic? Nope, much as we here may dislike them, the advert says “and plain clues” which are again notably lacking. Think I’ll add a note to the comments on the crossword’s page. (RacingDog, if you haven’t already figured it!)

  5. Pierre says:

    Hi Derek.

    I think you made the same, very pertinent, point on the last blog I did. The Guardian website does advertise this as ‘part quick, part cryptic’, but it clearly isn’t that. In all the Quiptics that have been blogged so far, there has been nothing other than cryptic clues. Nothing wrong with that, and the puzzle is obviously aimed at newer solvers, but maybe it needs rebranding.

    That said, I think it’s a good concept – it’s been going since November 1999 (number one was also set by Don Putnam) and I wish I’d discovered it earlier, when I was starting to learn how this cryptic stuff all worked.

  6. Paul B says:

    But it was quite a laugh doing it back all them year ago, when the darned thing first demonstrated the insanely variable levels of difficulty apparent from clue to clue (and puzzle to puzzle) people are on about now.

    I promise you, if you are a beginner, that you will be far better off arming yourself with a book of Grauniad – although probably better still Times or Independent – cryptic puzzles from WH Smith, a pencil, a rubber (I mean eraser of course, you wags), possibly some beer, possibly a like-minded friend or dog, and going off to solve as many clues as you can before looking up all the answers and working backwards to see the cryptic devices used.

  7. Dynamic says:

    Re 19a, I think it’s really as simple as you think, with nothing extra. Just the extra padding word after the definition to send the solver down the wrong track.

    Obviously if something is just then so must it be even-handed. (Here, ‘so’ means ‘thus’ or ‘therefore’)

    You could paraphrase the clue more boringly to the non-cryptic:
    Just is equivalent (4-6)
    or simply
    Just (4-6)

    …but then you’re not sending the solver’s though process away from just as in justice as effectively.

    It’s just as satisfying as some of the more humorous cryptic definitions we see, so perhaps calling it a misleading definition (because just-so is a phrase with a different meaning) would differentiate it from the usual contrived-thinking c.d. clues.

  8. Pierre says:

    The blog will be going cold soon, Dynamic, so just (rather than just so) to thank you for the parsing of 19ac – that works for me now you’ve explained it: maybe we were looking for something more complicated when the obvious solution was there all along.

    Quiptics … we’ll get the hang of them one of these days.

  9. Sponge says:

    I really enjoyed this one. It seems this blog is helping my training. I only had to cheat on one this time, 19a. I even got 6d having never heard of the word.

Leave a Reply

Don't forget to scroll down to the Captcha before you click 'Submit Comment'

XHTML: You can use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

1 + two =