Fifteensquared

Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 25157 Pasquale – Swan of Lichfield to the rescue

Posted by Uncle Yap on November 2nd, 2010

Uncle Yap.

A very challenging puzzle from another Master which took me an hour to crack, helped by furious references to on-line sources for words and things I have never heard of before until today. Through the struggle, I cannot help but admire The Don for being scrupulously fair.

ACROSS
4 HOCKEY HOCK (leg joint) EY (rev of YE, you) People who have played this game and suffered the knocks will agree this is an &lit
6 DOMINATE DO (behave) + ins of  IN (at home) in MATE (partner)
9 LINGAM LINE (policy) minus E + GAM, a new word for me meaning collective noun for whales or a school. Hindu phallus, a symbol of Siva
10 INTERNET Cha of INTERN (lock up) ET (extraterrestrial, alien)
11 LAUNDERETTE Ins of UNDER (below) E (Ecstasy, drug) in LATTE (coffee)
15 FLAT-TOP Ins of A TT (teetotal or dry) in FLOP (something disappointing)
17 INEXACT Cha of IN (favoured) EX (no longer) ACT (performance)
18  LARGE HADRON COLLIDER *(One rare child + rag doll) What a superb surface that is so smooth and fitting
23 TURN TO I stared at this obvious answer for many minutes trying to discern the wordplay until the penny dropped. OT is Occupational Therapy … turning it will get you TO. Very clever, Mr Manley
24 ESCAROLE Ins of CAROL (girl) in cheESE (cheese, half portion)
25 TARSUS dd Paul of Tarsus who practically wrote most of the New Testament

DOWN
2 GO ON STRIKE GOONS (foolish people like Peter Sellers, Spike Milligan and Harry Secombe :-) TRIKE (cycle)
3 MISERERE Ins of SERE (ins of R, right in SEE, diocese) in MIRE (predicament) Psalm 50 of the Vulgate (51 in the Authorized Version)
4 HALF-LIFE Another very clever clue if you remember Lithium is LI and Iron is FE
5 CANNULAE *(UNCLEAN + Ale) In the singular, a narrow tube, esp one for removing fluid from bodily cavities, or the breathing tube inserted in the windpipe after tracheotomy. Another new word which I had to look up.
7 ANNA SEWARD ANNA’S (former coins of India, Pakistan and Bangladesh) + REWARD (money prize) minus R for Anna Seward (1747–1809) an English Romantic poet, often called the Swan of Lichfield. I was stuck for ages in this corner thinking 6A was DOMINEER and 10A was INTERCOM until ANNA single-handed disabused me of the errors
8 EATS SEAT (place at table) with S, first letter moved to the end. Another neat acrobatic clue
12 REPORTEDLY REP (representative or agent) + *(LED TORY)
13 VAGRANTS VA (Virginia, US state with the famous Blue Ridge Mountains) GRANTS (allows)
14 STANNOUS Cha of STAN (fellow) NOUS (intellect) of bivalent tin
16 TALLIERS Ins of ER (hesitation) in Thomas TALLIS (1505-1585), an English composer; for people who tally or count or record, say, votes at an election
19 AOUDAD Ins of OU (where in French) in A DAD (an old man) The Barbary Sheep (Ammotragus lervia) is a species of caprid (goat-antelope) native to rocky mountains in North Africa. It is also known as aoudad, waddan, arui, and arruis.
20 ACNE A CONE (a thing in the road) minus O (circular thing)
21 BLOC (K)

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

43 Responses to “Guardian 25157 Pasquale – Swan of Lichfield to the rescue”

  1. malc95 says:

    re. yesterday’s underworld dog of choice. Could this have been Cerberus instead of Pluto perhaps?

  2. molonglo says:

    Thanks Uncle Yap. This was quite tricky in parts, and 19d defeated me completely. I got the large collider but had to Google the missing bit in 18a, and the middle letters of the poet in 7d. Like you I didn’t know GAM in 9a, and I guessed then checked the composer in 16d. All quite informative, as well as pleasantly testing.

  3. Bryan says:

    Many thanks Uncle Yap

    I always shudder when I see Pasquale and today’s effort was even worse than usual. I don’t believe that I have ever seen so many obscurities before in a daily cryptic.

    But congratulations to you for ploughing your way through this mass of confusion.

  4. sidey says:

    What an odd puzzle.

    Lingam for no apparent reason, other words fit and it’s not a spectacularly good clue.
    Escarole, an American something-or-other.
    Aoudad, yawn.
    Anna Seward, who?
    And ‘tallier’ which may be in most dictionaries but the only definition I can find is an obsolete term for the dealer or banker in some card game. It doesn’t seem to mean one who counts which would be a tallyman.

    Certainly not an effort that would win the compiler the title ‘Master’.

  5. jim says:

    I think Lingam is a very good clue; the surface reading is excellent bearing in mind school policies on displaying religious symbols.
    Generally a tough but fair puzzle, even though I had to look up escarole and aoudad.

  6. rrc says:

    I’m afraid this was a hard unrewarding slog with few smiles buta number of groans – must admit not a compiler to which I look forward.

  7. Stella says:

    Sorry to correct you, rrc, but shouldn’t it be ‘to whom (you) look forward’?

    Thanks for the blog, Uncle Yap.

    Though I knew ‘escarole’, the sheep and the phallic symbol were new to me. I believe I’ve seen ‘gam’ for ‘school’ before, but it’s not a term that immediately comes to mind.

    Nevertheless, as you say, scrupulously fair.

    I looked up Miss Seward, but I have to admit, if the example of her poetry given in Wiki is typical, I find her quite unswanlike. It was cumbersome and obscure, in my opinion.

    No doubt Eileen will be able to enlighten me :)

  8. Eileen says:

    Afraid not, Stella, if you’re referring to the poet. I’d never heard of her and thought the ‘Swan of Lichfield’ in UY’s title must be a reference to Dr Johnson, the lexicographer, because of all the unfamiliar words.

    In fact, although the wordplay was impeccable, I resisted entering ANNA SEWARD for a while because I thought I was being confused by Black Beauty’s author, Anna Sewell!

    Similarly, I got AOUDAD from the wordplay – but what a very unlikely looking word! However, I have to concede that this is fairer setting than cluing a well-known word with sloppy wordplay – and we learn something along the way, which can’t be bad.

    Favourite clue: TARSUS

  9. otter says:

    Nope. Didn’t like this one at all. Struggled through about half of it and by that time I really couldn’t care what the rest of the answers were, so didn’t bother with it any further.

    I don’t think it can be called ‘masterly’ clueing or even ‘scrupulously fair'; in my opinion, when the answer is an obscure word, the wordplay must be exact and make it possible to get to the answer fairly straightforwardly without knowing the definition word. ‘A dad’ around ‘ou’ is no good for the Berber name for an animal more commonly known in this country by another name. And using an obscure word (gam) in the wordplay for another obscure word (lingam) is a bit iffy too – as is the (loose) definition: a lingam may be religious symbol (one of thousands), but it is not only that – it is also simply the Hindi word for phallus.

    Too many ‘choices of thousands’ for my liking: eg ‘fellow’ (Stan), ‘girl’ (Carol), ‘composer’ (Tallis) and so on – each of those used in the wordplay for a word of more or less obscurity. (I know ‘stannous’, but wouldn’t expect to see it on its own, only in combination with eg ‘oxide’ to describe a compound. I suppose a case can be made for ‘can describe a compound’ being a legitimate definition of ‘stannous’, but only just – it’s a stretch.

    Also, ‘US state with mountains’ is too misleading for my liking. I was looking for a way to include ‘MTS’ or similar. I’d say at least a third of US states famously have mountains, it is not something even vaguely specific to Virginia, let alone a defining characteristic of that state, and so including it here is wilfully misleading, almost a case of including superfluous words which lead solvers off in the wrong direction.

    I’m afraid this was a bit of a horror as far as I’m concerned. I think the greater a setter makes solvers struggle to work out clues, the greater the reward there has to be for them when they do. And I found no reward in solving this at all. Just a few disappointed ‘oh, is that it?’ moments.

  10. cholecyst says:

    Thanks, Uncle Yap. This was tough. Can anyone explain 4dn? I understand the definition and the LI+FE bit, but where does the HALF come from?

  11. Eileen says:

    Hi cholecyst

    I read it as lithium [LI] and iron [FE] both being half of ‘life’.

  12. Geoff Anderson says:

    ‘an old man’ = ‘a dad’. Really? Dads MAY be old, but is ‘may’ enough to furnish a defining characteristic? Dads may also be Scottish, so would ‘a Scottish man’ be good enough to clue ‘a dad’?

  13. Geoff says:

    Hi cholecyst

    I disagree slightly with Eileen on this one: either lithium (Li) OR iron (Fe) is half of LIFE

    Unfortunately I tend to agree with otter on all the points he has made here. It is only because the Don is such a precise setter that little infelicities, which would be unremarkable in the efforts of his less adroit colleagues, seem to jar. The use of GAM (which I didn’t know) in the charade for LINGAM (which I did know, as it happens) seems to be sacrificing solvability for an excellent surface reading. 23ac had me stumped for a long time because the word ‘to’ appears in the clue and I therefore thought it could not appear in the solution. Pity, because the idea of the clue is such a good one.

    The lower half of the crossword clearly seems to have been built around LARGE HADRON COLLIDER (great clue) – hence TALLIERS and AOUDAD!

  14. Geoff says:

    Hi Geoff Anderson

    “Old man’ is (now archaic) slang for ‘father': My Old Man’s a Dustman etc. – hence ‘dad’

  15. cholecyst says:

    Thanks, Eileen and Geoff. I see it now of course.

  16. liz says:

    Thanks for the blog, Uncle Yap. This was a real stretch for me. Check-buttoned my way through it and failed to get AOUDAD. My first guess for 7,1 was Anne Sexton…

    ESCAROLE was new to me, as was the meaning of GAM in 9ac.

    I didn’t enjoy this as much as I’d hoped to, but I think that was down to me, not the setter. My favourite was 18,22 — very satisfying when the penny dropped!

  17. Andrew says:

    Coincidence corner: 8dn in this puzzle has “The first shall be last”. 5dn in the Morph puzzle in the Indy has “the last shall be first”.

    I agree that this was quite hard: it wouldn’t have been out of place as a Prize puzzle. But it was fairly clued and satisfying to finish, and it was a nice change from some of the very easy fare we’ve had lately.

  18. Frank says:

    Agree with most of the above: this was a slog up a steep and rocky slope with no gratifying vistas at the top – just a couple of words I’m never going to need ever again!

  19. Pasquale says:

    Thanks for the feedback, even if it was less generous than I hoped for! I always rather thought that Guardian solvers, like Guardian readers in general, were pretty knowledgeable – as well as good parsers of clues. If the comments here and on The Guardian’s own site are anything to go by, I begin to wonder. Easier vocab next time, I’m sure!

  20. Stella Heath says:

    Thanks for popping in, Pasquale.

    As far as I’m concerned, living in Spain as I do, references to Hindu artefacts and schools are obscure, and as I said above, I wasn’t impressed with Miss Seward’s poetry, but then most of my reading has been in languages other than English :)

    I’m sure others have different lagoons in their knowledge. It must be very difficult to find something for everybody.

  21. walruss says:

    I’m afraid I founf far too many difficult words in this puzzle, resorting to the cheat button again and again. A bit unsatisfactory and undisciplined really, especially with the two very well-made rival puzzles on show.

  22. Jim says:

    Had come across GAM several times before.

    Solved 22ac as “BACK TO” instead of “TURN TO” which caused problems.

    Jim

  23. Geoff Chapman says:

    Following yesterday’s offering I’m tempted to question the Editor’s choices. Defeated by a few, 19d for one. And Anna Seward. And 3d. Hmmm.

  24. Carrots says:

    I was still staring at an empty grid half-an-hour after starting. I guessed DOMINATE, HALF-LIFE and HOCKEY without working out their rationale. I managed to get about 25% of it done eventually, but found it impossible to continue without Google, reference texts etc. Even so, it`s less than half-finished. Otter`s comments are very similar to my own reaction, but I`m not complaining: this was just not my cup of tea…or, more likely, a pint of Lion`s Pride which helped to assuage the humiliation.

  25. rrc says:

    Stella
    thank you for the correction –

    Otter has summed up the problems very well

    I know the word lingam professionally speaking but it is not a word I would expect to see in a cross wood therefore wasn’t looking it particularly.

  26. FumbleFingers says:

    I’m right behind sidey @4 – on balance, I think this one was just too hard.

    By extensive googling I managed to avoid using the shameful “cheat” button, but it ended up being a desperate slog to complete, rather than a bit of satisfying mental exercise. Can’t really fault the clues as such, but in combination with so many obscure answers it was all a bit ott for me.

    Still, at least it’s something of a relief to come here and find I’m not the only one who struggled!

  27. Kathryn's Dad says:

    Thank you, Uncle Yap.

    Otter’s first paragraph about sums it up for me. I liked the science-based clues (LARGE HADRON COLLIDER and STANNOUS), but got just over half of it and got to that stage where you lose enthusiasm because you’re hitting too many brick walls. I can’t say it’s a bad puzzle, but as a daily cryptic just too hard for me today.

  28. testy says:

    @ Pasquale – So sorry we are such a disappointment to you :(

    BTW what’s the view like from that ivory tower? :D

  29. elipriest says:

    Pasquale.
    I doubt that the real setter would actually log on to say THAT. Today I failed but that’s just the way it goes. I personally think this would have been more suitable for a Saturday prize but Pasquale wouldn’t have said “publish on a tuesday”. Horses for courses.
    IF it was the real Pasquale, carry on regardless, it’s up to the editor where difficult puzzles are placed. I failed today but so what….

  30. gm4hqf says:

    Took me over three hours to complete this one. Mostly stuck at 22a and 19d. Had to look up AOUDAD in my dictionary. Found it very tricky.

  31. Eileen says:

    I’ve admired Mr Manley’s Don Pasquale puzzles for more years than I want to admit to – and, subsequently, since retiring and serendipitously stumbling upon 15² and finding that I could download puzzles from other publications, his Quixote and Bradman puzzles, too.

    It’s my impression, as a very long-standing Guardian solver – and reader – that his Guardian puzzles, especially, have recently been rather harder. [I think it was the Masters of the Queen’s Music, via [bizarrely] Janet Street Porter that began the trend.]

    I’ve recently commented elsewhere that I recognise his admirable ability to embrace a wide area of knowledge in his clues. I always acknowledge my failings in Science, which I know is his field, but I’m fairly mortified today in having to hold my hands up in ignorance of Anna Seward, since I reckon to be fairly on the ball in Classics / Literature. However, as I said above, this clue was perfectly gettable from the wordplay.

    I don’t expect you’re still lurking, Pasquale, but I’d like to say thank you for the work-out – which is just what, for me, it was. I personally appreciate just a little bit more humour [and I know others disagree!] – which has been more evident under your other pseudonyms of late. :-)

  32. Sil van den Hoek says:

    Here’s another one who found it very tough, but I will not join the chorus of people who qualify this crossword as more or less unreasonable [and certainly for a midweek puzzle].

    Using the PDF version and far away from home [and resources], we stared about 45 minutes at the grid, only able to put in 4 words (EATS, ACNE, INTERNET and HALF-LIFE). It looked like most of the clues were safely locked, completely out of reach.

    But then, all at once, some pennies dropped.
    The splendid LARGE HADRON COLLIDER, MISERERE, GO ON STRIKE, LAUNDERETTE and a few more.

    And I must say that after that happened, we felt rewarded for our perseverance.
    Not that we finished the crossword – in the end we missed out on LINGAM (though knowing that it had to be ‘line’, and having all the crossing letters) and 4 in the SE.
    After returning home and digging deep into the digital world, all but TURN TO [very clever] and AOUDAD [ah, well] were found.

    We thought most of the surfaces were very nice, constructions nearly always perfectly fair [except, perhaps, the ‘mountains’ of VAGRANTS].
    Well, “not that much humour” [my PinC’s words, not mine!], but as Pasquale not so very long stated at these places, that’s not his main objective.

    There are times when it’s satisfying to get very far in solving a crossword, without actually finishing it.
    Today was a day like that – pro saldo, we enjoyed it.
    In fact, only two words that didn’t ring any bell (AOUDAD and LINGAM) and ANNA SEWARD was guettable from the wordplay.
    But I can understand when others have feelings quite opposite to that.

  33. johnb says:

    Hope Pasquale drops back in to all this, so that he can read Eileen’s last, Sil’s – and this.

    The puzzle was hard – and I was beaten by ‘Lingam’ (despite knowing the word well, I missed ‘gam’, which I didn’t know…) I find the aversion to obscure words understandable (there’s always a blurred space between cryptics and stiffer challenges) but not a justification for rubbishing an elegant, intricate and fair puzzle that tormented me very satisfyingly.

    The cluing led impeccably to the words I didn’t know.

    And by the way, you sceptics about ‘vagrants’, do none of you know ‘The blue-ridge mountains of Virginia’? I suggest you look it up and stumble on the humour too.

  34. morpheus says:

    Pasquale, don’t dumb down – just a bit too hard for a Tuesday crossword – that’s all. Would suit a Saturday with more time available and the expectation of a tougher challenge.

  35. tupu says:

    Thanks Uncle Yap and Pasquale

    Like others I found this very hard. It took a while to get started and then I went through a middle period of solving and enjoying the clues/answers especially 17a, 23a, 2d!, 20d and 21d.
    I knew lingam but had to check gam.
    I got stannous but had to check it.

    Eventually, after a pretty stressful day on other things, I got stuck on aoudad (though the idea of ou and dad did cross my mind but I couldn’t be bothered to hunt by then),
    and Tarsus which btw is I see also a SET OF LEG BONES! Apologies if I missed this in earlier comments!

    As I say – pretty hard. It is good of Pasquale to respond, but he does not endear himself to me when he does – not so much because of his hard puzzles, which are fair enough, and not because he lacks humour – some of his clues are funny – but because of his ungracious and disdainful air if someone complains.

  36. tupu says:

    ps re Tarsus

    I note that UY does describe it as a dd.

    Did anyone else want to try ‘wrists’ here. I searched in vain for some time in the hope that WRI might somehow refer to ‘fame’.

  37. Derek Lazenby says:

    Didn’t do this one, see comment in Quiptic land, but I read all the above anyway to help pass the time, so re sidey @4, hi, given the definition you found, the banker (who is also the dealer (usually)) could be said to be the counter of the money, and hence the one who tallies it and hence tallier, but even that would pretty obsolete too. Having typed that, I’m suddenly not sure it was as helpful as intended. Yup brains addled, see post referenced initially.

  38. FumbleFingers says:

    Here’s my second bite at the cherry – hopefully not as a yappy terrier snapping at grandmaster Pasquale’s heels…

    The concensus does seem to be this one’s a bit (too) damn hard. Per morpheus @34, maybe not if it had been Saturday. I was amused to see I went up the same blind alleys as Eileen (ANNA SEWELL), tupu (WRISTS), and several others – plus spent as long as Sil on a slow start.

    Maybe that’s enough to make a meaningful concensus, and it really WAS too hard. Or maybe we’re just a bunch of wusses lulled into a false sense of security by the Monday pushovers!

    Whatever – forewarned, I shall breakfast on brain-boosting fish-oil and shredded encyclopedias before attacking Pasquale’s next offering…

  39. scarpia says:

    Thanks Uncle Yap.
    I thought this was an excellent puzzle from which I have learned a couple of new words – surely a plus for anyone who regularly tackles crosswords.I much prefer the “obscurities” on offer here to puzzles themed on TV comedies or soccer!
    Any puzzle that contains clues which lead to 2 of the finest pieces of choral music ever written is fine by me.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eh31j6L95Ok

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1c6UYHbNYuA

    Keep up the good work Pasquale!

  40. PaulG says:

    Is the Pasquale post @19 a practical joke? If it’s genuine, it says a lot about the gentleman. I too begin to wonder.

  41. otter says:

    In case anyone thinks I’m calling for fewer obscure/obsolete words or things requiring specialist knowledge – eg Anna Seward in this puzzle – I want to make clear that I’m not. I like learning things while doing crosswords, and it would be a shame if puzzles had to be reduced to items of common knowledge. I just think that where there is obscurity in part of the clue, the other parts of the clue should lead more clearly to a particular solution:
    – If the solution is an obscure term or reference, the wordplay should be such that it definitely leads to one solution, so that you can confidently solve the wordplay and enter the solution even without knowing the word: ‘Well, it must be AOUDAD, I suppose.’ In this case, there were many possible ways of interpreting ‘an old man’.
    – Conversely, if there is obscurity in the wordplay, the definition should be precise: in the case of LINGAM, at least to have made reference to Hinduism to narrow the options, or something like ‘Indian member’ – I don’t know, but it seemed in many of the definitions and charades, there were far too many options available.

    I don’t mind if I’ve been fairly beaten by a clue or crossword – I know I’m still learning, and improving slowly in my solving skills – but I do like to feel that I have been fairly beaten: that I would have had a chance of solving it if I had persevered a bit longer, and so on.

    Pasquale, I appreciate you responding to the comments. Hope you don’t find my criticism too off-putting.

  42. Samuel says:

    Great to see a reference to “The Swan of Lichfield”; I spent my teenage years learning to drink in The Swan in Lichfield, and it’s brought back many great memories.

  43. maarvarq says:

    Dear God, I’m glad for some people that diabolic crosswords like this come up sometimes, but I didn’t even manage to get half out.

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