Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 25,153 / Gordius

Posted by Handel on October 28th, 2010


We found this quite tricky, at least in the time available to us. There are a couple we haven’t managed to parse as yet, so clarification very much welcome as always. Although there were some neat touches (1ac was enjoyable, and the use of ‘eye’ as a theme was nice) we never quite clicked with this one, and found it rather hard going.


1. SHRINKING VIOLET ‘shrink’ followed by an anagram of ‘given toil’

9. ORCHESTRA where ‘banned’ sounds like ‘band’

10. HACEK ‘ace’ and ‘k’ can both mean honours, and it’s an accent placed above a letter in some languages

11. EPSILON (one slip)*

12. CORE  LLI< ‘core’ is ‘at heart. I assume this is a reference to the mandolin-playing hero of Louis De Bernieres’ novel? Clarification welcome here

13. thE YEar some padding in the clue here, unless we’re missing something

14. EXPOSED (speedo x)*

17. DETRACT t carted all reversed

19. ENROBES anagram of ‘seen’ about ‘rob’


24. (p)OOH

25. TOPSAIL (oil taps)*

26. ASCETIC vinegar is ‘acetic’, so add an ‘s’ for saint

28. VI(S)TA

29. I’M  PROMPT  U

30. SPUR-OF-THE-MOMENT (for men put them so)*


1. STORE DETECTIVES cryptic definition

2. (t)RUCKS ‘old ford’ is ‘t’ as in model ‘t’

3. NEEDLES anagram of ‘Leeds’ after N E (directions)

4. INTONED (note din)*


6. INHERIT we really don’t understand this one: ‘Things are left to you to do it’

7. LOCAL CALL no idea on this one either ‘”What’s yours?”, perhaps’

8. TAKE INTO ACCOUNT cryptic definition

15. PARI(s) PASS  U

16. ERE

18. (v)ERA

20. BRA  V  ADO

21. SOLOIST ‘thus’ is ‘so’, then an anagram of ‘toils’

22. CH  APP  IE

23. PIC  COLO(ur)

27. TEP<  EE ‘ease’ sounds like the plural of the letter E

57 Responses to “Guardian 25,153 / Gordius”

  1. Bryan says:

    Many thanks Handel I thoroughly enjoyed this.

    6d INHERIT is what a benficiary does after receiving a bequest.

    7d LOCAL CALL is both a local talephone call and what might be asked in a local pub.

  2. Bryan says:

    Re 12a That’s also what I had assumed.

    Surely, a case of Two Great Minds?

    It must be right!

  3. Dad'sLad says:

    Thanks Handel,

    11a may refer to the composer/violinist Arcangelo Corelli.

  4. Dad'sLad says:

    Sorry I meant 12a

  5. Andrew says:

    Thanks H&L. I found this very much a puzzle of two halves – I filled in most of the left-hand side very quickly, then struggled with the right. I though 7dn was rather weak (there’s no real definition), but generally I enjoyed it more than I often do with Gordius.

    I assumed CORELLI referred to the composer, but I suppose Captain C works as well.

  6. Eileen says:

    Thanks, Handel

    1dn is STORES [shops] around DETECTIVE [{private] eye] [13]

    I agree with Andrew on all counts!

  7. Manu says:

    Hi, this is my first post. I’m French and I love cryptic puzzles. I hope this helps:

    16d : ERE
    ADHERE = stick, drop ADH- (*HAD) and you get ERE = before

    6d: INHERIT
    I had to change the wording of the clue in order to understand it clearly.
    (when things are left to you, you do it = you inherit)

  8. Kathryn's Dad says:

    I’ve stuck up for Gordius before, but I didn’t enjoy this one very much at all. Some loose clueing, inelegant surfaces (‘Austere character like vinegar hiding a saint’ doesn’t exactly conjure up an immediate image for us visual learners), but most of all no wit or lmao moments.

    So since Grumpy Andrew doesn’t seem to contribute any more, I’ll be Grumpy Kathryn’s Dad today.

  9. tupu says:

    Thanks Handel and Gordius

    A mixture of the very easy and rather puzzling which sometimes left me wondering which was which.

    I suspect 13across may also refer to ‘i’, the new short paper issued by the Independent. (The Independent itself was paper of the year in 2004).

    I got orchestra easily enough, but kept wondering how it could be pronounced to sound like ‘banned’. Penny did drop eventually.

    Hacek was really very nasty and I had to guess and look up.

    I guessed and looked up ‘capella’.

    I assumed Corelli was the composer but the charming fictional captain might just about do.

    ‘piccolo’ was rather nice. I was too literal-minded at first and even wondered if there was a wind called ‘pochoto’.

    ‘chappie’ is misleading (one looks for chap + in trying to guess and parse it) but not wholly satisfactory either.

    ‘(adh)ere’ was amusing and ‘rucks’ at least didn’t involve mention of ‘model’.

    Overall not bad as Gordius goes.

  10. tupu says:

    Hi Manu

    I’m sure I’m not the only one to say ‘Welcome aboard!’. I agree with both your suggestions.

  11. cholecyst says:

    Thanks Handel. And welcome Manu. I thought this puzzle was good, especially as I’ve just spotted a couple more musical references to add to the obvious ones. IMPROMPTU as in those of Schubert, Chopin, Schumann etc and CAPELLA nearly the same as (A) CAPPELLA – singing without instrumental accompaniment.

  12. walruss says:

    The gulf of quality between the Guardian and the Indy is on show again today. Loose clues abound here in my view, and as K’s Dad says, there is little to admire in the wit department. As as it’s not Gordius’s birthday THIS week, I will stick to my guns!!

  13. tupu says:

    Hi KD and Walruss

    :) What a pair of grumps you are (becoming) with your cross words!

    Loose accusations are as bad as loose clues, and I don’t see all that much sign of the latter. I agree there is not much sparkling wit, but there is some teasing cunning and there is nothing here that is not gettable from the clues and crossing letters – otherwise we couldn’t have solved it! And crossing letters are surely an intrinsic feature of ‘crosswords’.

    I am not sure what you mean about ‘visual learners’, KD. The clue you mention is a very ‘visual’ one for me since I more or less literally saw ‘acetic’ with an ‘s’ inserted.

  14. Dave Ellison says:

    Thanks for the blog, Handel. I enjoyed this one, and I thought there was wit in 7d LOCAL CALL, which, as a CD, I approved of.

    Got a bit bogged down in the top-right corner, toying with CELLIST for 12a for a while. I thought 6d was unconvincing, and, not having a dictionary available, I couldn’t believe a word H_C_K, so thought INHERIT couldn’t be correct. Got there in the end though, once I checked my dictionary.

  15. tupu says:

    Hi Dave E

    I too wanted to put cellist. I’d drawn a line to mark the word break, and the ‘i’ in ‘into’ came very close to it, so I kept thinking it was a ‘T’!

  16. Sil van den Hoek says:

    Well, tupu, you can add me (more or less) to that Pair of Grumps.
    I am not someone whose face turns to an unwanted colour when seeing the name Gordius, nor someone who uses that famous quote “I liked this Gordius more than I usually do”.

    The lower half fell in place rather quickly, and while I wasn’t enjoying the puzzle that much, I persevered – wanted to finish it [because of wanting to finish it]

    The NE troubled me the most, with LOCAL CALL [either I don’t fully get it, or it is weak – probably both], INHERIT [silly clue] and HACEK [got it, but needed the blog to understand the card-references – thank you Handel].

    I didn’t like ORCHESTRA very much as “Players” and “band” are too close to my taste, but at least it wasn’t a ‘carthorse’ this time. And 4d (INTONED) was OK, but has a surface that’s too close to the (sound of the) solution – it’s just not misdirecting enough, if at all.

    However, all this may just be my personal feelings [others may think differently].
    Yes, there were good clues too, although not spectacular or so (12ac, 17ac, 19ac (with fine use of ‘rogue’ – could have been a ‘rogue’ around ‘rob’), 3d, 16d, and a few more).

    The crossword was pretty sloppy in places, in my opinion.

    In 11ac: “letter spoiled by one slip”, the anagram indicator obviously being ‘spoiled’, but I don’t think ‘by’ should be there. Maybe, I am a bit harsh here, and maybe, it’s just about right, but it doesn’t feel comfortable.
    [and, btw, ‘spoiled’ contains nearly all the letters of the answer which, for me, would have been a reason to look for an alternative anagrind]
    In 13ac: is there a hidden word indicator? Well, ‘entered’ could be one, but ‘entered as’? I think that little word ‘as’ is out of place here.
    In 24ac: Winnie=Pooh? So, we don’t need ‘the’ anymore?
    In 25ac: “given wind force at sea” to define TOPSAIL? Bit loose.
    In 29/30ac: I do understand why Gordius puts “30” in 29ac, because “on the spur of the moment” means “suddenly” which can be the definition for IMPROMPTU. But as it is an ellipsis in which 30ac is linked to 29ac, he could have left it out [or have said ‘on the following …’]. As it stands, it looks a bit clumsy to me.
    In 23d: ‘some’ colour for more than half of it? Well, I know, even Araucaria does these things every now and then, but normally ‘some’ indicates ‘less than half of it’.

    All these little things [important to me, but maybe not so much to others] annoyed me while solving.
    I felt I was ploughing through muddy grounds.
    Maybe I should put the dirt of my shoes and take a trip to world of Klingsor now to recover (although I think the FT’s Falcon, our Everyman, could do the trick too).

    Sorry, Gordius, it wasn’t your day today – or mine, of course :)

  17. Mr. Jim says:

    This was irksome, primarily because 6d made more sense as INTRUST (an alt. spelling of ENTRUST, and also cha of IN TRUST, such as a child trust fund) than INHERIT. This put the kibosh on CORELLI and HACEK, and we didn’t get LOCAL CALL either.

    What is the defn for 30A? Is it just some snide swipe about politicians not thinking very hard?

    STORE DETECTIVES was a good clue, I’ll give him that.

  18. tupu says:

    Hi Sil

    Sorry to tempt you into such a full analysis of something you did not like and I myself was not ‘over the moon about’. I suspect though that you start from a negative position and then pursue it more harshly than need be – as you yourself acknowledge might be the case.

    Re ‘local call’ Bryan explains that pretty clearly. Local is a standard word for a local pub, and someone buying their round commonly asks the other person(s)in the group ‘What’s yours?’. Local call is also a standard term for local as opposed to longer distance calls. It seems to me a decent and not unamusing double meaning.

    Re ‘orchestra’, as I noted I was thick enough to find this puzzling at first.

    Re eye. I have suggested a possible newspaper ‘i’ connection (plus of course the Observer is a paper). The ‘as’ is simply part of the ‘burial ground’- you could like this because it lengthens it and makes it that little harder to find.

    Re ‘spoiled’ this is just the sort of misleading element whose absence you lament in 4d.

    So yes, not brilliant but imho not as bad as you say.

  19. Moosebranley says:

    Sorry but I found this crossword quite enjoyable.

    I can’t say I found anything wrong with the clueing, it was all doable.

    WRT HACEK life would be very dull if occasionally the setter did not throw in the odd word we’ve never heard of.

  20. Sil van den Hoek says:

    tupu, I have only written down things as I experienced them – and as always, others may disagree.

    I do not want to spend too much energy on it anymore.
    Only two small things in reply to what you said.
    I do understand LOCAL CALL, as something in a pub – but where does the telephone call come in?
    Your suggestion about “i” is interesting but then there should be a homophone indicator – I can’t see one.

    Saying that I start from a negative position, is not fair.
    I take every crossword as it is, without any prejudice, and I acknowledge the fact that setters compile crosswords to make us feel happy, and therefore I am usually not that picky at all – but I like to put question marks?
    Today, though, it turned out to be a puzzle in which Gordius went back to his sloppiness of two years ago [then much criticised at this place].
    Oh, I am not negative about Gordius, only about this crossword (and this crossword alone).

  21. grandpuzzler says:

    Thanks H&L for the blog and welcome aboard Manu. I enjoyed this one especially 1A.

  22. Matt says:

    Moosebranley @19 – I was beginning to wonder whether I was the only one who really enjoyed this? I loved 6d and 7d and I can’t see the controversy as they are both just very cryptic definitions. For me, 7d was the last to go in, followed by a big “aha!” and smile. In fact, I think you can argue that 6d isn’t reeally cryptic at all…

    I think a bit of “loose” cluing here and there makes it more interesting as otherwise it becomes more like deciphering a code as opposed to thinking about something in a different way. I would class something like 17a as a code as opposed to a clue where we have the definition (Diminish), the word broken down (Time Hauled) then instructions on what to do with the bits (back) and we just have to follow the assembly instructions and there it is. Although necessary (to me) to start a grid, I think a crossword full of these “tight” clues would be a bit dull and sudoku-like. Similarly, an entire crossword of “definition / anagrind / letters” would be dreary and prescriptive.

    I suspect that had Araucaria come up with 7d, it would have been called a masterstroke of misdirection or similar 😉 I can’t see how it is in anyway different to “Bar of Soap (6,6)” that I read/saw somewhere is many people’s favourite clue ever.


  23. Stella Heath says:

    Thanks Handel.

    There seems to be a wide difference of opinions here. I didn’t find this too challenging, or particularly entertaining, though it had its bright moments, but I wouldn’t call it a poor effort. The cluing was sound, with some misdirections, and at least one word few would be familiar with – my field is romance languages, so the ‘hacek’ was completely new. How is it pronounced?

    BTW, ‘Corelli’ could refer to either of the two mentioned, or to this Italian tenor:

  24. Andrew says:

    Matt – though I’m mot a big fan of cryptic definitions, “Bar of Soap” works for me because the answer IS a bar in a soap, whereas the sense of LOCAL CALL defined in 7d is just “something that it could vaguely mean”. As a subsidiary indication it would be fine, but the clue needs something to define the sense of “phone call within the local area”. I can’t speak for others, but it wouldn’t make any difference to me if it came from Araucaria.

    Stella – ha?ek is pronounced rather like “hat check” said quickly (without the T). See here for more, including the charming fact that the Lithuanian word for it means “little bird”.

  25. tupu says:

    Hi Sil

    I appreciate your reluctance and feel much the same re further debate.

    Re local call. This is a standard term with regard to landline telephoning. It is one where you don’t have to dial the std code. The term is also used in expressions such as ‘Calls made on this number will be charged at local call rates’. If you always do your calling on a mobile, your may not be aware of the term and the distinctions involved.

    I accept your point about a homophone indicator – I may simply be wrong or it may be more of ‘an echo’ since it is not an idea that is intrinsic to solution.

    BTW re Pooh. In the narratives involved he is simply referred to without ‘the’ e.g. ‘said Pooh’. I feel your are nitpicking on this.

    But vive la difference!

  26. Andrew says:

    Oops, “hacek” in my last comment should have a c with a hacek as its middle character (as it should in this comment..)

  27. Derek Lazenby says:

    Well I had a friend visiting, and without his help I would have not had much of a start. After he left I struggled on and got there eventually, but with massive aid of software gadgets. Enjoyed bits of it, but overall it seemed more like a prize crossword aimed at experts rather than a daily for us mere mortals.

  28. tupu says:

    Hi Andrew

    I take your (and I assume Sil’s) point re a telephone indicator in 7d. But the answer could not be anything else. It demands an act of verbal imagination roughly similar to one of Rufus’s cds and it places us in the realm of natural linguistic ambiguity rather than symbolic logic or sudoku precision (as already noted). It might have been slightly easier if it had been ‘Time Gentlemen please!’ I think it is relevant that while some people have liked it and others such as you and Sil have not, no-one has reported failing to solve it (except Mr Jim who was depived of help from two crossing answers) and most people apart from Sil and Handel seem to have understood it too.

  29. Carrots says:

    I`ve always had a soft spot for Gordius: he`s a bit of a Maverick and, although his clues are sometimes too slippery to nail to the table, he`s good value for the arguments he sets in motion. The only one I didn`t get was (of course) HACEK and played around with 6,7, & 8 Dn. options (e.g. TOOK INTO ACCOUNT) to try and make something sensible of it. Needless to say, I failed.

    P.S. I`ve at last figured out why the “Biggleswade Four” refer to themselves collectively as “Biggles”. W.E.Johns was the author of his stories and all four are called “John”. Hence “We Johns”. Durrghh…….and I still haven`t cracked last Saturday`s puzzle….Double Durrghh!

  30. tupu says:

    Hi Stella H

    Following your query I have been trying to find out how hacek is pronounced. :) I wonder if it ever is! Chambers suggests ha-check. OED gives a phonetic script version in which I can scarcely recognise a single symbol. It seems to be a word that very few English speakers know, let alone ever use, and I suspect the same is true of Czech speakers as well since most speakers of a language seem to know next to nothing of the technicalities of its phonological structure.

    As you have seen there has been lots of criticism of Gordius’s clues/answers today.
    :) This one was quite the hardest to penetrate – unless of course you just happen to be a Slav grammarian with a deep knowledge of English card-playing terminology!

    I am not even sure how to write it properly let alone pronounce it!

  31. liz says:

    Thanks for the blog, Handel. Very much a puzzle of two halves for me. I liked some clues and found others clunky. Some were easy and others much harder. (HACEK was new to me, but I didn’t mind that.) So I’m not going to say, as I’ve said before, ‘I liked this Gordius more than I usually do.’ (Sorry Sil for giving the quote another outing!)

    The ongoing debate over LOCAL CALL seems to sum up what I sometimes find lacking with this setter. It just doesn’t lock up the way the BAR OF SOAP clue does. And the surface reading of 26ac may clearly indicate how the wordplay works, but it is not particularly coherent.

    Can anyone explain the def in 2dn?

  32. tupu says:

    ps I may be getting somewhere. It must be the origin of the term ‘hat-czech’ (as in the often misspelled and misglossed ‘hat-czech girl’) – to be defined in Tupu’s forthcoming Dictionary of the Unspeakable as ‘the wearing of a pointed hat upside down while turning uttering into muttering and spluttering’.

  33. tupu says:

    Hi Liz

    The definition seems to be ‘assembled in Rugby’ and relates to ruck = a loose scrummage in Rugby football. The wordplay is ‘trucks’ = vehicles but minus the (model) T of old Ford car production.

  34. Kathryn's Dad says:

    Well, I return from my day’s business to find what is euphemistically described as a ‘full and frank discussion’ going on … I’ll add just three things to it before retiring from the fray and getting tea going.

    Firstly, following tupu’s comment at 13, what I meant is that I personally am a very visual learner (thinking in pictures), so I like clues that give me a nice image in my head from the surface: it doesn’t help you to solve the clue, since you have to ignore it, but for me it’s part of the pleasure to visualise where the setter is taking you. And I defy anyone to visualise the surface of 26ac.

    Secondly, I think Sil has fairly listed some of the loose clueing I was referring to.

    Thirdly, I just love the idea of The Three Grumpy Men. Shall we release a single?

  35. Sil van den Hoek says:

    I know what I said before [that I don’t want to say too much anymore], but.

    “But the answer [7d] could not be anything else” (tupu #28)
    That is completely irrelevant.
    The clue should be sound, which apparently, it was for most of us [but not (yet) for me].
    I don’t need explanations of what a ‘local call’ is [in neither cases], I just don’t see the link of this clue with ‘telephone’.
    And if there is one, I’d really like to know.
    Even then, I still agree with Andrew (#24).
    Maybe I’m not British enough to understand this.

    “I think a bit of “loose” cluing here and there makes it more interesting as otherwise it becomes more like deciphering a code as opposed to thinking about something in a different way” (Matt #22)
    But there is ‘loose’ cluing and there is ‘playful’ cluing.
    Paul eg is ‘playful’ but nót ‘loose’.
    In the few years that I’m into crosswords, I have become a lot more precise – and therefore I can’t stand the ‘looseness’ of 13ac (EYE), for example, or that little ‘by’ in 11ac, or the clumsy ’30’ on 29ac, even though I had no problem in finding the answers and in parsing what the setter meant.
    Maybe the latter is enough for most of us? Not for me – sorry.

    I accept that I’m the odd out today [probably with K’s D and walruss, in the far background].
    Of course, as I said before, there were many good or at least sound clues – but imprecision and/or sloppiness, even in just a (vast) minority of clues, arggh I just don’t like it.

  36. Valentine says:

    Nobody seems to have commented on “equably” in 16d. “Pari passu” means fairly or equitably. Equably means calmly.


  37. Jerb says:

    Hi everyone.
    Há?ek (there should be a ?arka [acute accent] on the a and a há?ek on the c) is pronounced something like “haa-check” as the first a is long. It means “little hook” and you get them in Czech and Slovak on about 7 of their letters. In other languages with a similar diacritic, like Croat, polish, Lithuanian etc., the terminology is different. Hope this helps!

  38. tupu says:

    Hi K’sD

    As I said, I visualised the word(s). This may be something peculiar to me but my aural recognition of words in some foreign languages I have tried to learn is not as good as it should be and it helps me greatly to know how the words are spelled and to be able to picture them. I am puzzled why this clue seemed so hard though. Vinegar is well-known as acetic acid and s for saint is common crossword material.

    :) As to your group – sounds a great idea. ‘Preacher make me moan again tonight!’ might be a title for your first hit, though I’m sure that you can do better than that.

  39. tupu says:

    Hi Sil
    By moving (imprecisely) from Matt’s point about loose cluing to playfulness, you manage to miss his point about Sudoku and code and my own about natural language (as opposed to symbolic logic).
    But we are back again at the old argument of Ximenean versus Libertarian setting and past experience leads to simply agreeing to differ.

    Hi valentine

    The OED gives for equable ‘2. Free from inequalities; uniform throughout its extent or range of operation; equally proportioned’ and for equably ‘In an equable manner; uniformly, regularly; justly, fairly; calmly, tranquilly’.

    Hi jerb

    Thanks and please forgive my earlier exuberance!

  40. Sil van den Hoek says:

    I do understand what Matt (and you) are saying, but I object to the fact that we should allow ‘loose cluing here and there’ to make crosswords less dull. Clues that are based on construction should be sound and preferably watertight, and should nót have dubious words thrown in just to make the surface better.

    There are other ways to make a crossword sunnier, eg by being ‘playful’ with the language ánd by using imagery in a Paulian, Araucarian or Rufus-like way.
    For some, 7d is such a clue, but so far no-one could explain to me what the local (telephone) call has to do with the clue – or should I make up my own fantasy here?

    It’s not just about Ximenean versus Libertarian.
    It’s about that a clue should be 100% correct from a construction point of view [and some here weren’t – like EYE], and if such a clue is based on allusion or imagery, even thén it should somehow be integrated in the wording of the clue, or at least evoke the right feel. Therefore, I think, 7d is a weak half-finished attempt to write a smiling clue.

    But again, the sloppiness of some other clues was what really annoyed me today.
    Plus perhaps, too, the fact that most other commenters didn’t see it or, worse, didn’t mind accepting it, for the sake of etc etc etc.

    Maybe I should leave it here.

  41. tupu says:

    Hi Sil

    Let me try again just once with 13a. First let us ignore my point about ‘i’ as a newspaper – let us assume it is my private thought association.

    So we are left with the clue ‘The Observer, entered as Paper of the Year (3)’

    I see this as 1 Definition = ‘The Observer’ = eye, 2 indicator = ‘entered’ 3 location = ‘as the Paper of the Year’. 4. re the surface, ‘as The Paper of the Year’ makes this quite smooth.

    The ‘as’ seemed to trouble you but this problem disappears if you don’t attach it adverbially (in the parsing) to ‘entered’ but to the location.

    I can see that ‘entered’ alone might not be the best of indicators (though it seems to me acceptable as ‘a description’) but you seem to accept it, if a little reluctantly, and to focus critically but unnecessarily on the attachment of ‘as’ to it. But even saying that ‘entered’ is not the best form of indicator does not make the structure of the clue loose.

  42. Paul B says:

    Why oh why drag Libertarianism’s name through the mud – again?

    I’m a Libertarian, apparently: what is this condition, please? As its victim, must I always write appalling clues that don’t make any grammatical sense? Can’t I just be a ‘good’ or a ‘bad’ compiler?

    That would be much easier.

  43. tupu says:

    Hi Paul B
    I referred to ‘libertarian’ because I understood it marked a freer style of cluing than that demanded by some setters, editors and solvers. This was in a context where stricter demands were being made on clue construction than I felt necessary. I am perfectly willing to drop the term in this context if it creates more heat than light.
    I certainly did not intend to suggest that ‘freer’ clues were by definition any better or worse than others.

    Unfortunately, I do not (knowingly) know what sort of clues you yourself write and whether you are a good or bad composer since I do not know your ID as a setter or, if it is Paul B, I have not had the pleasure of encountering any of your puzzles. But I sympathise with a wish simply to produce good clues, provided that ‘good’ is not too narrowly defined.

  44. Davy says:

    Thanks Handel but I could have done without the spoiler on the front page ie “and the use of ‘eye’ as a theme was nice”.

    I quite enjoyed this and thought that most of the clues were pretty good apart from RUCKS and TOPSAIL which were poorly defined. I don’t understand all this fuss about LOCAL CALL as the clue is very simple although not one of the best. It’s nothing to do with telephone calls, it’s just what someone would say in a pub when it was their round ie local (pub) call=say=shout (what’s yours).

  45. Sil van den Hoek says:

    It has nothing to do with telephone calls???
    It’s just what someone would say in a pub when etc etc???
    Dear Davy, it’s a cryptic crossword!!

    And, tupu, if there’s one thing I admire most in Paul B’s crosswords, it is just that precision. In combination with thoughtful surfaces and inventive constructions exactly what I [and hopefully some others] are looking for in a good crossword.

    [Broke again my word, didn’t leave it here]

  46. Dave Ellison says:

    I perhaps would have clued 1ac as: Violeviolvioviv? This would have no definition, but would be clear what the answer was once the penny dropped. (I once got approbration from Paul for a similar clue which I submitted to his weekly competition, when it used to run).

    I don’t see why all clues should have a definition; a challenge to Brendan, perhaps: a whole crossword with no definitions?

  47. tupu says:

    Hi Sil

    You seem familiar with PaulB’s puzzles. I have not knowingly encountered one. Where can I see one? He raises much the same point as above in the blog on a Puck puzzle in February.

  48. Sil van den Hoek says:

    Yes, Dave, I remember your ‘vanishing point’ and indeed ‘shrinking violet’ would be a perfect successor.
    I see a clue like this more as something visual rather than linguistic.
    To be quite frank, I’m not very keen on them [even though Paul likes them – and applies them every now and then in his crosswords, too].
    As a one-off gag, fine, but for me not something to be a regular part of cryptic crosswords. In the end, I’m probably not Libertarian enough.
    The fact that there would not be a definition, might be acceptable here because of the special character of the clue.
    I am not sure though, whether we should embrace your statement “I don’t see why all clues should have a definition”.

    Ah well, what a day! :)

  49. Sil van den Hoek says:

    Hi tupu,
    Paul B is Tees in the Independent and Neo in the FT.
    [and very good, in both aliases, IMO]

  50. tupu says:

    Thanks Sil
    I found his mention, alongside Paul’s from time to time, confusing.

  51. Davy says:

    Dear Sil,

    Thanks for explaining to me that this is a cryptic crossword, it was much appreciated. At the risk of flogging a dead horse (please don’t try this at home), LOCAL CALL is simply a play on words and though the answer is connected with telephones, this is not reflected in the clue. It’s just Gordius having fun and yes he always does spark a debate.

  52. Carrots says:

    Thanks folks! Following you heavyweights slog it out is great spectator sport. Just one of the reasons I have a soft spot for Gordius!

  53. tupu says:

    :)Thanks carrots, though I feel more like an old dinosaur than Mohammed Ali in his prime and Sil has pretty nifty footwork. Still one learns as one goes along, and I understand his position better than I did. Certainly Gordius raises more comments than most!

  54. walruss says:

    They have a pont though tupu. Some of the Ximenenan bunch regularly bore the pants off me, but here it’s the Libs that get it in the neck for writing nonsensical or bad clues! I thin you get really good puzzles from both camps, and often you get Lib and Xim clues in the same puzzle.

  55. sheffieldhatter says:

    For what it’s worth, I agree with Sil about 7d. It’s a very poor clue and impossible to write in with any confidence without the crossing letters.

  56. tupu says:

    Hi SheffieldH

    :)I always thought that the crossing letters were an intrinsic part of crosswords. Otherwise one would only need a list of clues. The same is true of countless cds by Rufus and others.

  57. Huw Powell says:

    Somewhat late to the game, and I know I’ll never see the answer (I don’t think I saw it above), but where does the U at the end of PARI PASSU come from?

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