Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 25.140 – Crucible

Posted by Andrew on October 13th, 2010


I found this quite hard (as was yesterday’s Brummie), but there were some easy long anagrams to get started with, and some very nice clues, with 20dn being my favourite, closely followed by 3dn.

1. FISHWIFE FISH (torpedo is a kind of fish) + IF (provided) in WE. Chambers gives the definition “a hot-tempered person, esp. a woman” for “spitfire”.
9. APOLOGUE A PO (potty – chamber-pot) + [Christopher] LOGUE
12. BIJOU I + J in B[elgium] + OU (French “or”), &lit.
13. TURBOPROP BRUT (dry, as in wine) reversed + R in (OP + OP) (works)
14. ANTEDILUVIAN I in (LATVIAN NUDE)*. Strict Ximeneans would say that “I’m” is incorrect here – it should be “I must be” or similar. Nevertheless a fairly easy clue for a long word, though you have to be careful with the spelling.
18. HEARTSTRINGS S in (H GRANT TRIES)*. Another long anagram, in which the “heart” part stood out for me, making the rest easy.
21. SPAGHETTI (THE* GAP) in IT’S, all reversed. Another word where the spelling is a bit tricky.
23. AGATE G AT in [c]A[f]E. I’m not sure about this – is “at” an abbreviation of “atmosphere”, as in measurement of pressure? Chambers doesn’t give it. Of course, AGATE is a “hard rock”.
24. INSANE S[quare] in INANE
25. BLUDGEON Anagram of DOUBLE + GN (AGENT less A,T,E)
26. NUDIST D in N[orth] UIST. Originally I guessed NUDISM, which seems to fit the definition better, but I think it’s OK if you take NUDIST as an adjective.
1. FLAMBÉ F + MELBA*. Chambers doesn’t give the slang meaning of “toast” as “destroyed or “done for” – “you’re toast!”
2. SKOPJE P in JOKES. It’s the capital of Macedonia.
3. WHODUNNIT (I HUNT DOWN)* & lit. Very nice clue.
4. FOURTH ESTATE U (posh, as in “U and non-U”) in FOR + “THE”S + TATE
6. QUITO MOSQUITO (“deadly transmitter” – e.g. of malaria) less initial letters of Metal Oxide Silicon. This one’s the capital of Ecuador.
7. INTERMIX I (current) + TERM in NI + X (vote)
11. ARTIFICIALLY (RAIL FACILITY)*. Another easy anagram for a long answer.
16. THESPIAN Hidden (framed) in loaTHES PIANo
19. GAZEBO GAZE + B[ee] O[rchid]
20. SÉANCE A [k]N[o]C[k] in SEE, &lit. Another nice clue, referring to the knocks sometimes heard in seances (made by the “medium” banging the table, of course)
22. HANDS H AND S are the middle letters of fucHSias.

20 Responses to “Guardian 25.140 – Crucible”

  1. NeilW says:

    Thanks, Andrew.

    Like you, I don’t see any other explanation than AT being an abbreviation for atmosphere. A very entertaining puzzle. Unusual to see two “subtraction anagrams” in one go. Only niggle was I felt there should be a question mark at the end of 22ac.

    Crucible seems to be on a roll with these pangrams!

  2. Bryan says:

    Many thanks Andrew

    I didn’t get APOLOGUE.

    And a typo has crept into your solution for 17d.

  3. Andrew says:

    Thanks Bryan – typo corrected (ironic, in view of my remarks on being careful about spelling some of the other answers..)

  4. molonglo says:

    Thanks Andrew, especially for 22d: I couldn’t make standing=AND. Partly it was this setter’s style, which had me looking for run=PRO in 13a (you explain it was OP twice). Because with I=current (7d) and the wierd wife in 1a, plus a number of others, anything seemed possible. I got APOLOGUE without being able to parse it: but the internet explains the abstruseness. Luckily the long anagrams, as you say, were easy, as half the rest.

  5. tupu says:

    Thanks Crucible, and Andrew for a helpful blog

    I found this hard but rewarding at least for a time.

    My last entry was 7d and I regret I got it by accident while looking at ‘intermit’ in Chambers.

    22d puzzled me as I could not make sense of the ‘and’. In the end I plumped for ‘hinds’ as farm labourers and with an idea of ‘ind’ = ‘independent’ = ‘standing’! Not utterly ridiculous.

    I enjoyed solving the long anagrams and also 9, 10, 27, 3, 6, 15, 17, and 20.

    I didn’t notice it was a pangram.

  6. Stella Heath says:

    Thanks Andrew, especially for the parsing or 13ac, where I’d convinced myself ‘dry run’ = <RUT, and couldn't see where to go from there.

    Another one I didn't see, like others was 9ac, but I found this easier than yesterday's Brummie, with the help of the long anagrams and some good wordplay and enjoyable surfaces.

  7. Frank says:

    Thanks, Andrew. Isn’t there a naughty sectarian word-play in 7d?

  8. liz says:

    Thanks, Andrew. As you and others have mentioned, the long anagrams were helpful ways in — even if I did temporarily spell 14ac wrong. I couldn’t parse 23ac, 13ac or 1ac, so thanks for the explanations of these. 7dn and 9ac caused me the most trouble and were last in.

    My favourite was also 20dn.

    Wish that I’d spotted that this was a pangram!

  9. Moosebranley says:

    Can someone please explain why this is a pangram?

    A pangram is a sentence that contains every letter of the alphabet at least once.

  10. Bryan says:

    Moosebranley @ 9

    And, in Crosswordland, so does a Puzzle that is similarly endowed.

  11. FumbleFingers says:

    Good work, Andrew (and Crucible, of course)

    I found this one tough but fair. After a long hard slog the only thing I couldn’t get was the parsing of 7d – I decided straight off that “current expression” = IN TERM, which left me with the impossible task of figuring out how to make “Northern Ireland” = I.

    Pre-15×15, I’d probably have fired off a sniffy email to Crucible complaining about the faulty clue, so many thanks for sparing me that embarrassment, Andrew!

    Lots of good clues here. I particularly liked the deftly misleading surface readings of 1a & 5a.

  12. Derek Lazenby says:

    Initially I was convinced I was going to to get nowhere with this. But I plodded along in 3 sessions with heavy gadgeteering and finally got there.

    I was going to say something silly about a term only being part of an expression, but remembered about null productions just in time!

  13. Roger says:

    A good work-out for zee little grey cells this one. Thank you Crucible ~ and Andrew, for your deliberations. I particularly like what Oscar Wilde has to say in connection with fourth estate.

    The definition in 13a could perhaps equally have been ‘works plane’ since that is what a turboprop does. ( A shame that the rest of the clue wouldn’t cooperate !). And Doctor’s money designed to reveal symptoms works as a rather less cumbersome version for 27a but then I guess some of the overall obtuseness of this puzzle would have been lost.

    A challenge certainly, but good fun too. Is it only Wednesday ?

  14. Dynamic says:

    Re 23a: the conventional unit called an atmosphere is abbreviated atm

    However, searching for “at” in Wikipedia shows that it’s an abbreviation for technical atmosphere, a non-SI unit that, to the best of my knowledge, is rarely used nowadays (I’ve used Pascal Pa, Atmosphere atm, bar, Torr = mm Hg, and Pound-force per square inch psi). I might have read ‘at’ in old scientific literature and assumed it was an older abbreviation of atm.

    I don’t think the technical difference by omitting the word technical really spoils a clue with a cleverly disguised definition / wordplay boundary.

  15. Crucible says:

    Thanks for all your comments.

    I was pleased to find AT in Collins (with the alternative ATM) but not in COED or Chambers. Anything to avoid the somewhat clichéd clues for a favourite crossword stone.

    I could indeed have avoided all the discussion about INTERMIX if I’d noticed the ambiguous IN at the start.

    Re Frank’s ‘naughty’ comment at 7, the clue could be said to be a long overdue exhortation to the contending parties, among whom I live. Some hope.

  16. Dynamic says:

    Thank you, Crucible, for reading our comments and describing your sources too. It makes for a fuller experience for us all. I did find this a tough mental workout, but I’ve found your puzzles highly entertaining often enough to be delighted to see your pseudonym. (I think 9 Sep 2009 was memorable, and what I assume was your debut Prize Crossword 24,379 was a highlight in 2008.)

  17. molonglo says:

    Thanks Crucible: for both a good challenge, and for coming aboard the 15×15 barque.

  18. muck says:

    Thanks from me too, Crucible.
    I enjoy your puzzles

  19. Sil van den Hoek says:

    We weren’t at the same wavelength tonight, my PinC and I.
    She didn’t like the puzzle very much [‘some good clues, though’], I did.

    When I first solved a Crucible [which appeared to be his second] I wasn’t sure what to think of it, but ‘he’s got style’ was what I said then.
    Nowadays, I know a bit more what to look for.
    Crucible likes to use (single letter) abbreviations as valuable building stones – and I learned to understand and appreciate that.
    Today they were there, too – but not so much as on previous occasions.

    Today was – in a way – an anagram day.
    I counted 13 different anagram indicators, which is quite a feat in one puzzle!!
    gyrating, crudely, dreadful, bumbling, stupidly, out [the last 3 in one clue !], designed, toast, cracked, criminal, dismantled, nervous, hysterical

    ‘Hard Rock Cafe’ and ‘street cafe’ are examples of linking definition and device, where they should be separated – Crucible’s very good at it [just like Orlando and the FT’s Alberich]. ‘Dry run’ is another example of a similar thing.

    We (yes, wé) liked the Notting Hill surface of 18ac.
    And several other surfaces, too.

    We found the NE the hardest bit, didn’t finish it in our After-Work session [lacking any help in whatever form] – but once at home, the Net was my best friend, within 5 minutes.

    Finally, pangram?
    Maybe it was Crucible’s intention – then chapeau [as the French say].
    But, to be honest, for me it is still a non-issue.
    A good crossword is all about good clues.
    And there were many today.

  20. Crucible says:

    Sil: it’s always a pleasure to read your forensic report. A pangram’s just a bit of self-indulgence. I quite enjoy the challenge of finding a slot for j, q etc. and I think it makes for more interesting grids. It may also come from playing Scrabble too competitively once upon a time.

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