Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian Quiptic 576/Hectence

Posted by Pierre on November 29th, 2010

A pleasing puzzle from Hectence, with a couple of very clever clues as well as some tricky ones.

Well, I found them tricky, but that could be because I stayed up far too late last night watching England crash the Aussie bowling all round Brisbane. That’s my excuse anyway.
There’s one I’m not certain about, but someone will no doubt come to my aid.
1 BATHING COSTUME A charade of THING (object) COST (price) inserted in BAUME (black, the chemical symbol for gold and half of lamé). Yes, that’s what I thought as well.

8 LARVA An insertion of A RV (rendezvous) in LA.

9 TREASURE An anagram (trip) of EASTER around UR, the crossword setter’s favourite ancient city.

11 AGONISE You need to take ANT (the insect) off ANTAGONISE ( to offend). I liked this one.

12 AVERAGE A charade of AVER (to state) and AGE (how old); ‘mean’ here is a noun.

13 DOGMA A charade of DO (party) GM (genetic modification) and A (first letter of AS). If you were being picky, you could say that GM stands for genetically modified, but hey, let’s give the girl a break.

15 LIE IN WAIT A charade of LIE IN (be at home?) W (wife) and AIT (sounds like 8 – the homophone indicator is ‘say’).

17 HOLLYWOOD A charade of H (first Harold) and an anagram of LLOYD with WOO inserted. The anagram indicator is ‘production’. I thought this was particularly clever.

20 GEESE A charade of GEE and SE (small, English).

21 IMMURED A charade of I (single) an anagram (agitated) of MUM and RED (revolutionary). Another excellent surface and clue.

23 PITCHER I was hoping this would come to me when I wrote the blog, and it has. It’s ITCH (a longing) in PER (for). I’m not mad about per = for.

25 INNOVATE An anagram (develop) of VIE and ANN TO.

26 AMUSE A charade of A and MUSE. The Muses were goddesses in classical mythology; there were nine of them, but Erato is the setter’s favourite, essentially because naff all else fits a E?A?O pattern.

27 GRASP THE NETTLE A charade of GRASP THE NET (understand the web) and an anagram (criminal) of LET. Great surface, great clue, my favourite today.


1 BALL AND CHAIN A double definition. ‘A pejorative term for a marriage partner or fiancée who weighs down his or her spouse or partner with restrictions and demands.’ I never knew that till now.

2 TORSO An anagram (broken) of ROOTS. This one’s been round the block a few times.

3 IMAGINARY A charade of IMAG (unfinished picture) IN (fashionable) and ARY (young artist reversed). ‘Turns up’ is the reversal indicator and RA (Royal Academician) is very common for artist.

4 GET WELL A charade of GET (secure) and WELL (water supply). Imperative in grammar is the command form of the verb.

5 OVERAWE A charade of OVER (remaining) A (second cAlf) and WE (us). The definition is ‘cow’. This is a sound clue, but a difficult one for a beginner’s puzzle, imho.

6 TASTE Double definition

7 MARMALADE A charade of MAR (spoil) MA (mummy) LAD (boy) and E (English). This clue doesn’t quite work for me because the ‘mummy’s’ in the clue would lead to MAS. What do others think?

10 GENTLE BREEZE Great clue. A charade of GENTLE (mild) and BREEZE (a homophone of BRIES, French cheeses). The homophone indicator is ‘reportedly’.

14 GOLD MINER I don’t really follow this. Any suggestions?

16 NIGHTMARE A charade of NIGHT (end of the day) and MARE (an anagram (about) of REAM, which is DREAM without D for daughter).  The definition is in the clue, so I suppose this is a semi-&lit?

18 OLD SALT An anagram (work) of LOADS plus LT (lieutenant, officer).

19 DEPLETE An insertion of P (quiet) and LET (obstacle) in the River DEE. It’s ‘let’ in the sense of ‘without let or hindrance’.

22 RIOTS An insertion of O (old) in RITS (stir up, in other words STIR reversed, because this is a down clue).

24 HAUNT A charade of H for hospital and AUNT.



18 Responses to “Guardian Quiptic 576/Hectence”

  1. Tokyo Colin says:

    Thank you Hectence and Pierre for a very instructive blog. This was a fun, fast solve for me but I was able to call upon years of accumulated crossword knowhow and solving skills. I agree it would represent a challenge for a beginner solver. At 14dn I read it as a DD with the first being “metal” = GOLD and (mine) “detector” = MINER. Not very satisfying, I hope there is something I have missed.

  2. Pierre says:

    Thanks, Colin. We’ve had a bit of debate here since we started blogging the Quiptic about what constitutes a “beginner’s” puzzle. I thought this was certainly in that zone apart from a few trickier clues, and I guess in the same way that the difficulty level will vary in a daily cryptic, it will across different setters of the Quiptic. But as you say, it was fun, which is the main thing.

    I’m being dense here, but I still don’t see how a ‘miner’ can be a ‘detector’.

  3. Stella Heath says:

    Thanks Hectance and Pierre.

    I found this enjoyable, with a few smiles, and not too tough, the most difficult perhaps being 6d, not least because I had ‘sit’ rather than ‘lie’ at 15ac.

    My first idea for 22ac turned out to be correct, once I had the crossing letters, but I didn’t immediately see the parsing, and didn’t bother to re-read it after filling in the answer, so thanks for that.

    Another one I doubted was 11ac., as I thought it was an anagram of ‘sin’ (offence) + some sort of insect from the letters ‘a,g,o,e’ :( Your parsing is much sounder!

  4. Pommers says:

    I too don’t really understand 14d, unless it is simply that the gold miner has to first detect the gold and then dig it out so he is both a metal detector and a metal digger, not very satisfactory. So, unless we’re all missing something, I think this the weakest clue in an otherwise excellent crossword.
    Is it me or was this a bit trickier than recent Quiptics?
    Thanks to Hectence and Pierre.

  5. Tokyo Colin says:

    To Pommers@4, I only started doing these recently when the 225 blog brought them to my attention. Compared to the recent ones, I found this one faster to solve but more advanced, if that makes sense. Well-crafted, slightly tricky clues, of fairly even difficulty.

    Pierre, I find it harder now to justify my explanation for 14dn but what I had in mind was ‘miner’ in the sense of ‘weeder’, i.e. something which removes mines, aka a ‘detector’.

  6. Martin H says:

    A nice crossword well explained. OVERAWE was quite tough, especially with such bland crossing letters, but if this is meant to be for inexperienced solvers, surely it’s good to have one or two to really work for. I’m puzzled by the miner too, also by ‘lie in’ for ‘be home’. AGONISE was good, and GEESE was neat.

  7. Pierre says:

    Hola Stella

    Did you mean 21ac or 23ac? You’ve obviously been up watching the cricket as well …

  8. Eileen says:

    Thanks for the blog, Pierre.

    You and Martin H queried your ‘be at home’, in 15ac. I took it as LIE [be] – I think I’ve seen one or two instances of this in various puzzles in the last week or two] + the much more usual in = home.

    I share your reservations re 7dn and can’t come up with better suggestion for 14dn than that it’s a rather weak double definition.

  9. Derek Lazenby says:

    Finished after a small struggle. Pleased to see it isn’t just the fuzzy brain effect this time if the level is generally agreed upon.

  10. Robi says:

    Did this after eventual wrestle with the Cryptic. I think ‘miner’ may be used in the sense of data mining:
    ‘data miner’
    (n.) A software application that monitors and/or analyzes the activities of a computer, and subsequently its user, of the purpose of collecting information that typically will be used for marketing purposes.

  11. Robi says:

    P.S. GM is also an accepted abbreviation for genetic modification. See, for example:

  12. flashling says:

    Bonny little Pierre surfaces. I took 14d as in the phrase “mining for the truth” discovering what’s going on.

    Aussies looked shell shocked after that game. Superb innings from the top 3.

  13. Pierre says:

    Thanks, Robi, for the GM link – that’s fair enough, and mine wasn’t a big gripe about the clue.

    I think we’ve all come to the conclusion that GOLD MINER may just about work, but wasn’t one of Hectence’s finest. Didn’t stop it being an enjoyable solve overall, though.

  14. Robi says:

    Forgot to say thanks, Pierre for your nice blog. I didn’t understand 23a until I saw your explanation.

  15. Pommers says:

    OK, I think we all seem to agree about 14d but it should not detract from a good puzzle. So again, thanks Hectence.
    As to whether this was a good ‘starter’ puzzle I’m not so sure. I found the cryptic a lot easier today but maybe that’s just because I was on the right wavelength.
    Starter puzzle can be found at Free online puzzle every day. Sorry,I don’t know if I could put that in as a link – I’m a technopeasant!
    Thanks for the review Pierre.

  16. Pommers says:

    Oh! Seems to have put the link in automatically! Technology always seems to be one step ahead of me!

  17. tmesis says:

    Could it be that 14d isn’t cryptic at all. After all this crossword is supposed to be a mix of cryptic and quick clues. Maybe this is the obligatory single quick clue (usually ignored anyway)

    NSOED gives a definition for digger of “A miner, esp. one who searches for gold”. This fits the clue perfectly.

    BTW I thought this was the easiest Quiptic for a few weeks.

  18. Pierre says:

    Hi tmesis, good to hear from you.

    In all the Quiptics we’ve blogged so far there has never been a truly ‘quick’ clue, but your quote from the NSOED is fair enough, so maybe I’m convinced after all that it’s just a double definition. But I think from the comments we’ve had it’s not one of the best.

    Hope you’ll contribute again to the Quiptic blogs. We were hoping to encourage some new solvers to let us know what they thought.

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